Current Affairs

Morning Brief: New-Look Modi Team; BRD Hospital Deaths Decline; Trump’s Warning To North Korea Allies

Modi with the new Cabinet. (GettyImages)

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

New-Look Modi Team: Prime Minister Narendra Modi revamped his team on Sunday, inducting nine new members and changing major portfolios to bring dynamism and efficiency in governance. Nirmala Sitharaman has been named the Defence Minister, only the second woman after Indira Gandhi to hold the post since Independence. Piyush Goyal became the Railway Minister. Suresh Prabhu replaced Sitharaman as Minister of Commerce and Industry. Former diplomat Hardeep Puri was made Housing and Urban Affairs Minister, former home secretary R K Singh got Power and New and Renewable Energy, and former DDA commissioner K J Alphons will head the Tourism Ministry. The Prime Minister can induct six more ministers, an option he might exercise later to accommodate the Janata Dal (United) and other National Democratic Alliance constituents.

Modi In China For BRICS Summit: Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in China on Sunday to attend the 9th BRICS Summit, where he is set to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping. Their meeting will be keenly watched after the resolution of the Doklam border row. Modi would look forward to having “productive discussions and positive outcomes” with leaders of the grouping to support the agenda for a stronger partnership among the member countries. During his visit, Modi is also expected to hold a series of bilateral meetings including with Russian President Vladimir Putin and other BRICS leaders of countries like Egypt, invited by China as part of the outreach exercise. China has invited Egypt, Kenya, Tajikistan, Mexico and Thailand as guest countries for the Summit.


New Push For Real-Time Satellite Monitoring Of Borders: The Union government is mulling a dedicated satellite bandwidth for the Border Security Force, Indo-Tibetan Border Police and Sashastra Seema Bal for better border surveillance. This comes amid rising tensions on India’s borders in recent years, first with Pakistan in 2016 following the attack on an Army camp in Uri and now with China in Doklam. The idea is to enable the border guarding forces to monitor the movement of Pakistani and Chinese troops in real time, track terrorist infiltration, map terrain and communicate effectively in remote areas, besides assessing the strength of soldiers and artillery deployed by neighbours near the border in case of a stand-off. India shares over 15,000km of borders with Pakistan, China, Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar. The armed forces currently use 13 Indian Space Research Organisation satellites to watch land and maritime boundaries.

India-Nepal Start Joint Military Exercise: With a focus on counter-terrorism and forest-fighting operations, India and Nepal began their joint military exercise in the western part of the Himalayan country on Sunday. More than 300 troops from each side will participate in the exercise – Surya Kiran. According to the Indian Army officials, the Surya Kiran is the largest joint exercise in terms of troop participation. The Nepal Army said the joint exercise will provide the two armies a platform to exchange experiences, ideas and skills. Surya Kiran series of exercises are held alternately in India and Nepal. The 12th edition of Nepal-India joint military exercise will conclude on 16 September.

SBI Planning $3 Billion Green Bonds: The State Bank of India (SBI) is planning to raise up to $3 billion in the country’s biggest overseas green-bond issue for funding projects that will help achieve the government’s commitments toward sustainable growth. “State Bank of India has internally approved the mega fund-raising plan and also obtained the approval from a global adjudicating authority on green bonds,” an executive close to the initiative said. The Mumbai-based, government-owned lender is in the process of appointing investment bankers who will help raise cash for the dedicated fund in a few instalments over one or two quarters, said another executive close to the development. The bank is now compliant with global standards as prescribed by the Climate Bonds Initiative, an international investor-focused charity.


UP Government Data Shows Sharp Drop In BRD Hospital Deaths: Data compiled by the Uttar Pradesh government show a sharp drop in casualty figures in the BRD Medical College in Gorakhpur this year compared to those in the last three years. According to the data compiled by the UP health department, 1,317 children had died in the state-run facility so far this year. The number of deaths stood at 5,850 in 2014, 6,917 in 2015 and 6,121 in 2016, the department data said. The data showed the average daily deaths translating to 16 in 2014, 19 in 2015 and 17 in 2016 – as against 5.3 a day till August this year. Health Minister Sidharth Nath Singh said that fight against Japanese Encephalitis continues to be a priority for the state government and every effort is being made to ensure proper treatment and management of cases by taking preventive initiatives to educate and involve the community in our fight against these diseases.

UK Puts Pressure On Suu Kyi To Stop Violence Against Rohingyas: The United Kingdom has added to the international pressure on Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi to act to stop the violence against Rohingyas, which has led to thousands leaving the country to seek refuge in neighbouring India and Bangladesh. Several human rights groups based in Britain and elsewhere have highlighted concerns over the treatment of the Rohingyas in Buddhist-majority Myanmar. UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said the attacks were “besmirching the reputation” of the country following reports by a human rights group that people, including young children, have been burned alive in the country, while others have been beheaded.

Trump’s Warning To North Korea And Its Allies: President Donald Trump warned on Sunday that the United States was thinking of snapping economic ties with countries that do business with North Korea. His new threat came after Pyongyang detonated what it claimed was a hydrogen bomb able to fit atop a missile. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had said earlier that his department was preparing potent new measures that could completely “cut off North Korea economically”. While the US has virtually no trade with the North, the burden of sanctions as described by Trump and Mnuchin would fall heavily on China, which is Pyongyang’s sole major ally and buys about 90 per cent of North Korean exports.



Theories That Impede Job Creation: In India, two workers do what one worker could do, which means lower wages for both. This suggests that enterprises should take measures to remove their extra workers. Unless old ideas are set aside and fresh solutions applied, the new industrial policy will also fail to generate more employment.

The Economics Of The Household Balance Sheet: It is well known that financial assets play a limited role in the Indian household balance sheet. The reluctance of households to engage in the formal financial market shows that the institutional architecture has not worked as desired.


Voting For Man-Made Disasters: State intent and capacity has been found dramatically wanting in prevention, early warning and disaster management. The root cause of man-made disasters of the type we saw in August is not merely incapacity and apathy but conscious errors of omission and commission by the state.

A‘New India’ Team For Mr Narendra Modi: The nine new inductees are also seen as the Modi’s ‘New India’ team. Their entry has underscored, once again, Modi’s preference for ‘moving through’ bureaucrats – a trait of his Gujarat CM days – relying on their expertise in specific sectors, rather than on traditional, generalist politicians.



Short Term Pain, Long Term Gain: The Five Arrows Of Modinomics: To the admittedly limited extent a political leader can influence - within just three years - the long term economic destiny of a country as large and diverse as India, Narendra Damodardas Modi is off to a rather good start.

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

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