Good morning, dear reader! Here’s your morning news and views brief for today.
Triple Talaq Bill Hits A Roadblock In Rajya Sabha: The triple talaq bill hit a hurdle in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday with the opposition parties stalling a debate on it. This came after the government refused to accede to the opposition's demand for sending the bill to a select committee to correct what they claimed was "faulty". Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad introduced the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, at 3 pm amid high drama in a noisy House with Congress' Anand Sharma and Trinamool Congress' Sukhendu Shekhar Roy moving almost identical motions, asking the bill to be referred to a select committee. The House was adjourned 50 minutes later as the opposition, which has numerical superiority over the government, insisted on a division over its amendment to the motion for considering the bill. The bill will now come up for consideration on Thursday.
India Scraps $500 Million Defence Deal, Says Israeli Arms Firm: Just ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's first visit to India, a top Israeli arms firm has confirmed that New Delhi cancelled a $500 million deal to develop Spike anti-tank guided missiles. Spike, in use by 26 countries around the world, is said to have been selected by India after a long and rigorous process and after complying with all the defence procurement regulations. "Rafael has now received an official notification from India's Ministry of Defence concerning the cancellation of the Spike deal," said Rafael Advance Defence Systems spokesman Ishai David. "Rafael regrets the decision and remains committed to cooperating with the Indian Ministry of Defence and to its strategy of continuing to work in India, an important market, as it has for more than two decades, to provide India with the most advanced and innovative systems," the company said.
Green Light For Asia's Longest Tunnel Road In Kashmir: The Union government on Wednesday approved the Zojila pass tunnel project in Jammu and Kashmir to provide all-weather connectivity between Srinagar, Kargil and Leh. Once the 14.5-km tunnel is completed, it will be Asia's longest single tube two-lane road. The project was conceived 20 years ago to provide all-weather connectivity to the strategically important Kargil and Leh regions. "The total capital cost of the project is Rs 6,808.69 crore, which includes the cost of land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation and other pre-construction activities, as well as the maintenance and operation cost of the tunnel for four years," a statement read. The project will be implemented by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways through the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited. Once the project is completed, the travelling time between Baltal to Drass will be reduced to 14 minutes from the current three-and-a-half hours.
Government To Pump In Rs 7,577 Crore In Weak Public Sector Banks: The Union Finance Ministry has given the go-ahead for infusion of Rs 7,577 crore in weak public sector banks (PSBs) as part of the recapitalisation plan to bolster capital adequacy ratio. The funding comes under Indradhanus plan of the government which promised Rs 70,000 crore over a period of four years ending March 2019. Lenders, which will receive capital through preferential issue of shares, include Bank of India, IDBI Bank and UCO Bank. The actual fund infusion will take place in the next few weeks after they get necessary regulatory approval, including nod from shareholders. The government has decided to infuse Rs 2,257 crore in the Bank of India, Rs 2,729 crore in IDBI Bank, Rs 650 crore in Bank of Maharashtra, and Rs 243 crore in Dena Bank. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in October had announced an unprecedented Rs 2.11 lakh crore two-year road map to strengthen PSBs, reeling under high non-performing assets (NPAs) or bad loans. Their NPAs have increased to Rs 7.33 lakh crore as of June 2017, from Rs 2.75 lakh crore in March 2015.
GPS Devices For 2,700 Electric Locomotives: By the end of this year, the Union government is planning to instal global positioning system (GPS) devices on over 2,700 electric locomotives in a bid to provide real time train information. “Railway Ministry in collaboration with Indian Space Research Organisation is implementing real-time train information system (RTIS) which involves tracking of train by placing GPS/GAGAN (GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation System) based devices on locomotives,” Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain told the Lok Sabha. “In Phase one, the RTIS project will cover about 2,700 electric locomotives in which the GPS device will be installed. This phase is planned to be completed by December 2018,” he said. He also said that in remaining locomotives GPS will be installed in subsequent phases. According to railways, the trials for this system have been done on the New Delhi-Guwahati and New Delhi-Mumbai Rajdhani trains on six electric locomotives.
India Imposes Anti-Dumping Duty On 98 Chinese Products: The Parliament was informed on Wednesday that India has imposed anti-dumping duty on as many as 98 products imported from China as on 27 December last year. Anti-dumping measures are taken to ensure fair trade and provide a level-playing field to the domestic industry. They are not a measure to restrict imports or cause an unjustified increase in cost of products. The products on which the duty was imposed include flax fabrics, vitamin C, certain fibres and chemicals, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry C R Chaudhary told the Rajya Sabha. “Increasing trade deficit with China can be attributed primarily to the fact that Chinese exports to India rely strongly on manufactured items to meet the demand of fast expanding sectors like telecom and power,” he said.
UP Cuts Holidays allotted To Madrassas: The Bharatiya Janata Party-led Uttar Pradesh government has reduced the number of holidays allotted to state-recognised madrassas in the calendar for the year 2018. According to the calendar issued by UP Madrassa Board Registrar Rahul Gupta, the holidays during several non-Muslim festivals like Christmas, Diwali, Dusshera, Mahavir Jayanti, Buddh Purnima and Raksha Bandhan have been increased. On the other hand, 46 holidays given on Ramazan have been reduced to 42. Besides, 10 holidays at the discretion of madrassa managers have also been scrapped. With the new arrangement, number of holidays in madrassas have now been reduced to 86, as compared to 92 earlier. Justifying the changes in the new calendar, state Minority Welfare Minister Chowdhury Lakshmi Narain said the changes apply to all boards, universities and madrassas.
Defence Deals Worth Rs 2.40 Lakh Crore Signed In Four Years: In the last four years, India has signed 187 deals involving Rs 2.40 lakh crore with foreign and domestics firms for procurement of various military platforms and equipment. Replying to a question in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre said 119 contracts involving Rs 1.62 lakh crore have been signed with Indian vendors while 68 procurement deals worth Rs 1.24 crore have been signed with foreign vendors. The value of total contracts signed in the last four years comes to Rs 2.40 lakh crore. He said the expenditure on capital acquisition in 2014-15 was Rs 65,862 crore while the figures for 2015-16 and 2016-17 were Rs 62,235 crore and Rs 68,252 crore respectively. Bhamre said value of defence production by Ordnance Factory Board and other defence public sector undertakings during 2014-15 was Rs 46,390 crore while it was Rs 52,960 crore in 2015-16. In 2016-17, the value of defence production by these government entities was Rs 55,890 crore, he said.
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Koregaon Bhima: How Today’s Political Mobilisation Needs Reimagined History: The Koregaon Bhima martyrs included not just Mahars, but also Marathas, Rajputs, Muslims and the odd Jew or two. So, for today’s Marathas to think they lost to a Dalit army or for Dalits to think that they humbled the Brahminical Peshwas is partly imagined “truth”.
We hope you enjoyed reading our morning brief. Have a great day ahead!
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