Morning Brief: Privacy Judgement Day! The Return Of Nilekani? Push For Banking Sector Consolidation

Morning
Brief: Privacy Judgement Day! The Return Of Nilekani? Push For Banking Sector ConsolidationThe Supreme Court of India. (SAJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images)

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

Supreme Court To Rule On Privacy Today: In a judgement that will have a bearing on civil rights as well as Aadhaar, a nine-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) J S Khehar will today (Thursday) decide if privacy is a fundamental right. Privacy is central to the legal challenges facing Aadhaar, the 12-digit biometric unique identity number, which has raised data breach and privacy concerns. Critics also say it helps the government spy on people. The government is pushing for Aadhaar to plug leaks in various welfare schemes. Aadhaar is mandatory for availing welfare benefits, filing income-tax returns, and opening bank accounts. Petitioners have argued Aadhaar violates privacy because it requires finger printing and iris scans. Before taking up Aadhaar petitions, the court said, it first needed to decide if privacy was a fundamental right.

The Return Of Nandan Nilekani? If this report from The Times Of India is to be believed, Nandan Nilekani is set to return to Infosys as non-executive chairman in the next few days. Nilekani, the architect of Aadhaar, will come for a predetermined period with the aim of achieving a number of predetermined goals, mainly identifying the next chief executive and giving him enough air cover to find his bearing in the top job. Restoring investor, customer and employee confidence will be another priority in the company, which he co-founded 36 years ago at the age of 26. Nilekani was persuaded to rethink by well-wishers, big investors and crucially some board members including Infosys co-chairman Ravi Venkatesan and independent directors Kiran Mazumdar Shaw and D N Prahlad, said the report.

Turnaround Specialist Lohani New Chief Of Railway Board: Ashwani Lohani, who heads national carrier Air India, will take over as the new chairman of the Railway Board after the resignation of its current chief A K Mittal in the shadow of several train crashes. Lohani, an Indian Railway Service officer of the 1980 batch, is known to have turned around the ailing state-run airline’s financial health. He faces a bigger challenge now as the government is trying to revamp the world’s fourth-largest rail network that has 12,000 passenger trains and 7,000-odd stations, and carries 23 million passengers each day. A qualified mechanical engineer, who also has degrees in electrical, metallurgical and electronics and telecommunication streams, Lohani is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport.

'Alternative Mechanism' For Banking Sector Consolidation: In a major push for banking sector consolidation, the Narendra Modi government on Wednesday set up a ministerial panel led by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to consider and oversee merger of 21 state-owned banks. The decision to create this ‘alternative mechanism’ “would facilitate consolidation among the nationalised banks to create strong and competitive banks,” the government said. Jaitley said Prime Minister Narendra Modi will take a call on the members in this alternative mechanism. “The object is to create strong banks,” he said, but insisted that the process will be driven by the banks and commercial considerations. The final merger scheme will be notified by the central government in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India, he said.

OBC Creamy Layer Ceiling Raised To Rs 8 lakh: The Union government on Wednesday set up a committee for sub-categorisation of other backward classes (OBCs) for a “more equitable distribution” of quota benefits, as it raised the income ceiling for the “creamy layer”. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the panel, which will have to present its report in 12 weeks from the date it is formed, will examine the extent of inequitable distribution of reservation benefits among the castes and communities. The creamy layer, the ceiling that bars people in the OBC category from getting reservation in jobs, has been raised from Rs 6 lakh a year to Rs 8 lakh. Jaitley also said there was no plan for a relook at the reservation system as he also ruled out sub-categorisation of scheduled castes on the lines of OBCs.

Rajiv Bansal Named Air India CMD: The Union government on Wednesday appointed senior Indian Administrative Services officer Rajiv Bansal as the chairman and managing director (CMD) of Air India for three months. He is taking over as Air India CMD at a time when the government is working on the modalities for the disinvestment of the loss-making national carrier. Bansal, a 1988 batch IAS officer from the Nagaland cadre, has done an earlier stint in the Aviation Ministry as a director. He has also served in the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, where he looked after digital payments, IT Act, Aadhaar, and internet governance. He hails from Haryana.

New Push To Check Rising Onion Prices: Amid growing concerns over rising onion prices, the Union government on Wednesday asked states to impose stock limits on traders to check hoarding and curb further increase in rates of the kitchen staple. “To control the prices of onion, state governments have been advised to impose stock limits for onion on traders/wholesalers,” Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan tweeted. Onion prices have shot up in the last few weeks due to depleting old stocks and concerns about this year’s output as kharif sowing area is down by 20-30 per cent. Sources said the Centre is also considering restricting exports by imposing minimum export price to boost local supply and keep prices stable, sources said

Indian-Origin CEO Racially Abused In US: An Indian-origin chief executive officer (CEO) in the US was racially abused after he wrote an article for CNBC saying he will not defend President Donald Trump’s economic agenda after the violence in Charlottesville. What followed were a string of racist attacks on email and Twitter and GMM Nonstick Coatings CEO Ravin Gandhi posted a voicemail on YouTube on Thursday of a woman abusing him and saying: “You’re a (expletive) Indian pig.” Continuing with the rant, the alleged Trump supporter can be heard scornfully saying: “Get your (expletive) garbage and go back to India, and sell it there.” The woman, using abusive and inappropriate language, told Gandhi that he should also take “that other half-(expletive) Bangladesh (expletive) with you, Nikki Haley,” referring to the US envoy to the United Nations.

MUST READ OPINIONS AND COLUMNS

Realising The Potential Of Equity Crowdfunding: It’s time SEBI proactively embraced a progressive outlook, in sync with the digital era we live in, and hastened the process of rolling out a regulatory framework for equity crowdfunding in India.

Don’t Allow Pakistan To Get Away With False Promises Now: The old hyphenation between India and Pakistan has been eroded, but India has to be careful on this score. We also need to bear in mind that Russia, Iran and China have close contacts with the Taliban. Economic cooperation and military training for Afghanistan has to be quickly stepped up.

Charge That Narayana Murthy Forced CEO Vishal Sikka To Resign Is A Lie: The CEO must be bold but not so bold that he dictates the board and lays the rules of governance. It is the board that should not let that happen. Unfortunately, this is what seems to have happened at Infosys. Amongst numerous examples of this let me take just one.

SWARAJYA SPECIAL

After Triple Talaq Ban, Is UCC Next? Not Quite. UCC Cannot Be Done In One Leap: Uniform Civil Code is the ultimate goal, but it can never happen as long as it does not have widespread community support. The way to achieve it is to creep towards the ideal, and not try to achieve it in one leap.

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

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