Morning Brief: Push For River-Linking Projects; New iPhone Range Unveiled; Lifeline For Indian Migrants In Gulf
Good morning, dear reader! Here’s your morning news and views brief for today.
River-Linking Projects To Start In Three Months, Says Gadkari: Road Transport and Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari has set a three-month deadline to kick-start river interlinking projects. He said three of the projects are ready for execution. At the annual general meeting of the National Water Development Agency Society, Gadkari said the three projects – Ken-Betwa linking in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, Damanganga-Pinjal Link in Maharashtra and Par-Tapi-Narmada linking in Maharashtra and Gujarat – will be taken up in the first phase. The projects are ready for approval and ways to raise funds will be explored he said. The projects would cost around Rs 35,000 crore. Besides the three river-linking projects, the government had worked out 27 similar programmes to mitigate floods and drought situations, he said.
Rohingya Refugees Are A Threat To National Security, Says Rajnath Singh: Branding Rohingya refugees as a threat to national security, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Tuesday that the issue will be dealt with a firm hand. Singh said the government of India had adopted a "humane" approach towards migrants and displaced people but it was strongly against illegal immigration. "The illegal foreign immigrants will be strongly dealt with," the Home Minister said in reply to a question about Rohingya Muslim refugees living in different parts of the country, including Jammu. Some 40,000 Rohingyas have settled in India, and 16,000 of them have received refugee documentation, the UN estimates. In August, the Centre had declared that the Rohingyas pose serious security challenges as they may be recruited by terror groups, and asked the state governments to identify and deport them.
Cooling-Off Period For Divorce Can Be Waived, Says SC: The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that the mandatory six months cooling-off period for divorce through mutual consent among couples could be waived if there is no chance of reconciliation. A bench of justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and U U Lalit said there is no point to perpetuate a purposeless marriage or to prolong the agony of the parties. The Hindu Marriage Act was amended in 1976 to bring in the concept of divorce by mutual consent if the marriage has irretrievably broken down. The judgement came in the case of a Delhi couple who sought a relaxation of six months time on the ground that they were living separately for eight years and there was no possibility of a reunion.
Government Ready To Roll Out Rs 100 Coins: The Union government is all set to roll out Rs 100 coins for the first time in the country. The Finance Ministry on Monday issued a notification regarding the introduction of Rs 100 coins to commemorate the birth centenary of All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam founder Dr M G Ramachandaran and renowned carnatic singer Dr M S Subbulakshmi. The Reserve Bank of India will also issue new Rs 5 and Rs 10 coins to honour the former Tamil Nadu chief minister and the Bharat Ratna-winning singer. The Rs 100 and Rs 5 coins will weigh 35 grams and 6 grams, respectively. The Rs 100 coin will be made of silver (50 per cent), copper (40 per cent), nickel (5 per cent) and zinc (5 per cent).
Apples Unveils New iPhone Range: Apple unveiled three new iPhone models last night (12 September), including a top-of-line handset described as "the biggest leap forward" since the original iPhone 10 years ago. Apple chief executive Tim Cook launched the new iPhone 8 and 8 Plus as well as the premium iPhone X – pronounced 10. The first two phones, incremental upgrades over last year’s iPhone 7, will be available in India from September 29, with prices starting at Rs 64,000. The iPhone X will be available in India from 3 November, with prices starting at Rs 89,000. Cook, speaking at the first event at the new campus theatre named after late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, said the newest flagship handset is a milestone for the company a decade after the first iPhone release.
DA Boost For Government Employees: The Union government raised the dearness allowance (DA) for central government employees and pensioners by 1 per cent on Tuesday, and approved a bill to raise the ceiling of tax-free gratuity from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 20 lakh for private sector employees. The increase in dearness allowance and dearness relief to 5 per cent from 4 per cent will benefit around 49.26 lakh central government employees and 61.17 lakh pensioners, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said. The hike, which will be given on salaries from 1 July 2017, was part of several decisions taken by the Union cabinet that met for the first time since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s team was rejigged. It creates an additional annual burden of Rs 3,068.26 crore per annum on the exchequer, but for this year, it will cost Rs 2,045.50 crore since it is applicable only from July.
Lifeline For Indian Migrants In Gulf: Lending a helping hand to Indian migrants employed in Gulf states, a new resource centre has been set up to help reduce the risk of workers being trafficked for fake jobs. With a 24-hour helpline and a team of advisers, the Indian Workers’ Resource Centre in Sharjah in the UAE aims to help the thousands of Indian workers in the region who may be at risk of exploitation. “Help for Indian workers in distress will be a phone call away,” Indian Embassy official Dinesh Kumar in Abu Dhabi said. Government figures show there are some 6 million Indian migrants in the six Gulf states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Oman. Over the years, the Indian government and non-governmental groups have received a steady stream of complaints from migrant workers, ranging from non-payment of wages to torture and abuse.
Government Set To Auction 10 Coal Mines: The Union government has decided to offer 10 coal mines for auction as a first step in opening up India’s commercial mining market, said a report in the Indian Express. Four coal mines from Odisha are likely to be auctioned in the first phase and one each from Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand. Sources said that the Centre is yet to decide the timeline to auction these 10 coal mines. This comes seven months after the Centre had announced that the coal mining sector would be opened for commercial mining in 2017-18. At the beginning of 2015, the Coal Ministry had begun preparing for the auction of a few of the 214 coal mines that were de-allocated following the Supreme Court order of 24 September 2014.
MUST READ OPINIONS AND COLUMNS
WTO Meeting: Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu Has His Task Cut Out: Suresh Prabhu’s appointment as the commerce minister on 3 September has come as a surprise after his innings in the accident-scarred Indian Railways. WTO’s 11th ministerial conference on 10 December will decide whether Suresh Prabhu is able to stand firm in safeguarding India’s core interests.
Indian Economy: That 2002s Feeling: The recovery from the 2002 trough is worth remembering at a time when many economists fear that India is trapped in a new normal of slower growth. The Indian economic situation now has striking parallels with that in 2002. There is macroeconomic stability, weakening economic momentum and balance sheet stress.
The Rohingya Challenge To India’s Diplomacy: The response by Myanmar to the 25 August terrorist attacks seems, by all accounts, excessive. India’s approach of influencing Myanmar’s behaviour requires patience which Bangladesh doesn’t have as refugees continue to flow in.
Towards A New Financial Resolution Regime: A period of relative calm of 70 years after the Great Depression was followed by the catastrophic crash of 2007-08. The FRDI Bill is a positive affirmation of the lessons learned during the global financial crisis and its aftermath.
We Can Let Some Rohingyas Stay, But Terms And Conditions Need To Apply: No matter what the “liberals” on the Left say, countries providing help to refugees have the right to impose their own conditions while doing so.
We hope you enjoyed reading our morning brief. Have a great day ahead!
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