Morning Brief: Trump-Modi Vow To Create World’s Greatest Militaries; Jaitley Signals More GST Rate Cuts

Morning Brief: Trump-Modi Vow To Create World’s Greatest Militaries; Jaitley Signals More GST Rate CutsUS President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Washington. (Mark Wilson/GettyImages) 

Good morning, dear reader! Here’s your morning news and views brief for today.

Trump-Modi Vow To Create World’s Greatest Militaries: US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday resolved an unprecedented commitment that "two of the world's great democracies should also have the world's greatest militaries'', following their bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in the Philippines. ''The two leaders discussed the comprehensive strategic partnership between the United States and India and their shared commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region. They pledged to enhance their cooperation as major defence partners, resolving that two of the world's great democracies should also have the world's greatest militaries,'' the White House said. Trump also expressed appreciation that Indian purchases of oil from the US have surpassed 10 million barrels in recent months, and expressed confidence that stronger energy cooperation will be a geopolitical and economic game changer for both countries.

In 10 Years, India Will Overtake Japan To Become Third Largest Economy, Says Report: A report by an American brokerage has said that India is likely to achieve strong growth over the next 10 years and will overtake Japan in nominal gross domestic product (GDP) by 2028, to emerge as the world's third largest economy. "We see India crossing Germany and Japan in nominal GDP in dollar term by 2028. This assumes that the Indian economy grows at 10 per cent (in nominal US GDP) in the next decade, well ahead of Japan's 1.6 per cent," the Bank of America Merrill Lynch report said. The American brokerage has conservatively projected the country's real GDP growth at 7 per cent potential. The report titled, 'India 2028: The last BRICK in the Wall', said falling dependency ratios, financial maturity and increasing incomes and affordability are the three key drivers for the country to stand among the large emerging economies.

Jaitley Signals More GST Rate Cuts: A further rationalisation of goods and services tax (GST) rates is on the anvil, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has hinted. "Rationalisation process in a transition (phase) will continue... Such rationalisation in future will depend on revenue buoyancy," he said on Monday. On Friday, the GST Council, led by Jaitley, slashed rates of over 200 items with the levy on 176 reduced from 28 per cent to 18 per cent, leaving just 50 in the highest slab. While state finance ministers have said this list will be pruned further, a change in lower slabs of 12 per cent and 18 per cent is also on the cards in the coming months. Jaitley said revamped filing mechanism that has been put in place, will ease the burden on taxpayers and going forward he wants the system to settle and apprehensions to disappear.

Rs 1,430 Crore Undisclosed Income Linked To Sasikala And Aides Detected: Income Tax Department has seized papers revealing Rs 1,430 crore worth of "unaccounted-for" investments in real estate, Rs 7.14 crore in cash, and jewellery valued at Rs 5 crore during their five-day searches at 187 premises owned by All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) leader V K Sasikala and her relatives and associates. I-T officials have also seized a considerable amount of diamond jewellery from various premises that is yet to be valued, the official said, adding that 16 bank lockers had been frozen so far. Most of the property-related documents were seized from the properties of Sasikala's nephew and Jaya TV chief executive officer Vivek Jayaraman, his sister Krishna Priya and their auditor. "The seized documents show that at the time of demonetisation, huge amounts of old notes were converted into gold at Midas," said a senior official.

NGT Limits Daily Vaishno Devi Pilgrim Numbers At 50,000: In order to avoid any “untoward incident”, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Monday put a limit to the number of devotees to the Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu and Kashmir and said only 50,000 people should be allowed in a day to one of the most visited pilgrimage centres in the country. The NGT bench headed by chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said any additional pilgrims would be stopped at Ardhkuwari or Katra town. The green panel also said the new path to the shrine exclusively for pedestrians and battery-operated cars should be opened from 24 November. Sources said the number of pilgrims ranges from 30,000-50,000 in peak season and dips to 6,000 or fewer in winter. The cave shrine attracted the highest number of pilgrims, a little over a crore, in 2012. Last year, more than 77 lakh pilgrims visited the holy shrine, as per the data of the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board.

DoT Announces Last Date For Linking Mobile Phone Number With Aadhaar: India’s Telecom companies were directed by the Department of Telecom (DoT) to mention 6 February 2018 as the last date for linking mobile phone number with Aadhaar while sending SMS or interactive voice call to subscribers. The 13 November move comes after the Supreme Court asked the government to mention the last date for linking bank accounts or mobile phone numbers with Aadhaar. To simplify the linking of Aadhaar with the mobile number, the DoT recently allowed re-verification through iris-based biometric devices and at the doorsteps of those consumers unable to use one-time passwords or incapacitated and cannot go to retail stores. Separately, the DoT is also working to finalise steps to make it easier for consumers to re-verify their mobile numbers through Aadhaar without visiting telecom firm's office, by using one-time password through SMS, interactive voice response system and through mobile apps.

Railways To Use GPS-Enabled Fog Safety Devices: As part of safety measures during the winter season, the Indian Railways is planning on using GPS-enabled fog devices on trains. "This device will alert the local pilot about the approaching signal since the signal light are not visible clearly due to fog," said an official from the railways. The national transporter is gearing up for address problems during winter season when most of the trains in north India run late due to low visibility. To address the issue, the railways will convert most of its auto signalling system into semi-automatic and reduce the speed for some of the trains, said the official. Apart from this, the railways will also deploy fogmen to place detonators on tracks to alert the loco pilots about approaching signals.

Massive Earthquake Near Iran-Iraq Border Kills 407 People: A massive 7.3 magnitude earthquake near the Iran-Iraq border killed atleast 407 people and injured thousands more. The epicentre of the quake was 31 kilometres outside the eastern Iraqi city of Halabja, according to the US Geological Survey. Kermanshah province in Iran was the worst affected where at least 340 people lost their lives and about 6,500 were injured. In Iraq, the earthquake killed at least seven people and injured 535, all in the country’s northern Kurdish region, according to Iraq’s Interior Ministry. Following the deadly quake, Iran has declared three days of national mourning.

UAE Vows To Act Against Dawood Ibrahim: Just a few months ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proposed visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Arab country has assured India that it will not allow any underworld activity on its territory that threatens India and will act to enforce the law on the basis of actionable intelligence from India, in a move to prevent Pakistan-based mafia don Dawood Ibrahim and his associates from operating with impunity from the UAE, specifically Dubai. The cooperation between intelligence agencies of the two countries comes ahead of Modi’s second visit to the UAE in the first quarter of 2018 to increase bilateral business relations between the two countries. The two countries are also establishing a joint cyber-security centre in India with the aim of leveraging technology in the fight against terrorism, radical extremism, and underworld activities in the region.

MUST READ OPINIONS AND COLUMNS

There Is Nothing Monetary About Inflation: In India, between 2009 and 2014, the annual inflation rate was in double digits. Real factors matter more for inflation outlook than monetary factors.

The Struggle Of Deep Science Start-Ups: Investments into the start-up ecosystem – most of it going towards software start-ups, has made it hard for those who are trying to build businesses in deep science.

Why Number Plate-Based Bans Are Odd, Even Existing Tech Can Do Better! The FASTag, launched by the Indian Highways Management in 2014, is currently being used to collect tolls electronically. It can help in implementing many of NGT’s recommendations to contain Delhi’s pollution, and even regulate the city’s traffic.

What Ails India’s Household Economy? A slump in household economy, due to lower household savings and capital expenditure, doesn’t augur well for a speedy revival of overall investment in the Indian economy.

The Curious Case Of Coal Cess: Total tax on the common grades of coal is more than 80 per cent, which is higher than taxes on even alcohol, cigarette or luxury cars. Burdening an important sector like coal and power with a steep GST cess seems unjustifiable.

SWARAJYA SPECIAL

Rahul Gandhi Is Wrong – Selfies ‘Generate’ Employment In India, Not China: What Rahul Gandhi doesn’t know is that mobile phone manufacturing has undergone significant change since 2014, thanks to Prime Minister Modi’s push for ‘Make in India’ programme.

We hope you enjoyed reading our morning brief. Have a great day ahead!

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