Good morning, dear reader! Here’s your morning news and views brief for today.
Trump Backs Sale Of Fighter Jets To India: President Donald Trump’s administration has told the US Congress that it "strongly supports" the sale of F-18 and F-16 fighter jets to India and asserted that the proposals have the potential to take Indo-US defence ties to the next level. Alice Wells, acting assistant secretary of state for the South and Central Asian Affairs, told a Congressional sub-committee that defence cooperation with India would be an important pillar in the bilateral relationship as it needs the country to be a net security provider in the Indo-Pacific region. "The reason why defence cooperation with India is so vital to US interests is because we need India to be a net security provider in the Indo-Pacific," Wells said.
Government Planning WiFi Facility For 5.5 Lakh Villages: The Union government is drawing up an ambitious Rs 3,700 crore plan to provide nearly 5.5 lakh villages with WiFi facility by March 2019. "In September, we expect to put out the tender. This is a big goal and will mean that if we are able to put out WiFi access in literally every GP (gram panchayat), 5.5 lakh villages will actually have access to mobile broadband," Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan said. The government expects to start broadband services with about 1,000 megabit per second (1 gbps) across 1 lakh GPs by the end of this year. Earlier, the plan was to provide 100 megabit per second connectivity to village panchayats, but under the new BharatNet, the broadband speed has been enhanced 10 times to 1 gigabit per second at every panchayat level.
Gadkari Tells Automakers To Switch To Clean Vehicles: In a strict warning to the automobile industry, Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari said the government was ‘crystal clear’ about moving towards less-polluting transportation options and those resisting the change would be ‘dragged’ along. Speaking at the 57th SIAM Annual Convention, the minister exhorted the industry to research on alternative fuels, adding that the cabinet note on electric vehicles was ready. “We should move towards alternative fuel... teething troubles are there everywhere… electric cars, buses, taxis and bikes are the future… the future is not of petrol and diesel, but of alternative fuel. We will move ahead with those who join us…and drag those who don’t come with us,” the minister said.
Border Snoop Plan: 2,000 SSB Personnel To Be Shifted To IB: In an ambitious new plan, more than 2,000 personnel of Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) will be “transferred” to the Intelligence Bureau (IB) to boost the on-ground presence of the agency on the eastern borders, where India is bolstering its defences by building roads and other military infrastructure. A total of 2,765 posts of the civilian cadre of SSB will be shifted to the IB command over the next year. Of these posts, 2,039 are operational. “The civil wing of the SSB should be transferred to the IB lock, stock and barrel, including land, physical infrastructure, equipment among others,” said a government blueprint. The SSB, with a strength of about 70,000 personnel, has been guarding the 1,751-km Indo-Nepal border since 2001 and the 699-km Indo-Bhutan border since 2004.
Aadhaar Enrolment: Government Planning To Limit Role Of Private Agencies: As India nears 100 per cent Aadhaar saturation levels, the Union government is planning to restrict the role of private agencies in Aadhaar enrolment and will focus on setting up permanent centres owned by the government and banks to facilitate registrations and updates. The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has said this in a presentation to banks, while informing them of the need to become UIDAI registrars for enrolling their customers under Aadhaar, and stressing on its intention of restricting the role of private registrars. The government is banking on 24,000-plus post offices and 12,000 bank branches to offer Aadhaar services to citizens by March next year. This is also the deadline fixed by the government to achieve 100 per cent Aadhaar target – which is at 87 per cent now.
Terror Camps Across LoC Rising: Northern Army Commander Lt Gen Devraj Anbu said on Thursday that Pakistan-backed terrorists are at it again. He said the number of terror camps and launchpads across the Line of Control (LoC) in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir has gone up and around 475 militants are waiting to sneak into the Indian side. Lt Gen Anbu said there have been a large number of infiltration attempts along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir this year but “very less” have been successful. Assuring that the security situation along the LoC and in the hinterland in well under control, he said, “the elimination of the leadership of terrorists has brought down incidents and recruitment of the local terrorists”.
Pakistan Among Top 50 Countries With High Terror-Financing Risks: A Swiss anti-money laundering watchdog has listed Pakistan among the top 50 countries with high terrorism financing and money laundering risks. The Basel Institute on Governance, in its 2017 edition of the Basel Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Index, which has assessed 146 countries regarding money laundering and terrorism financing risks, has placed Pakistan on the 46th position in the list of 146 countries. The 10 countries with the highest AML risk are Iran, Afghanistan, Guinea-Bissau, Tajikistan, Laos, Mozambique, Mali, Uganda, Cambodia and Tanzania while the three lowest risk countries are Finland, followed by Lithuania and Estonia, the group said. India has been placed on the 88th rank with 5.58 marks, the report said.
Qatar Crisis: US Offers To Mediate: US President Donald Trump on Thursday said he would be willing to step in and mediate the worst dispute in decades among the US-allied Gulf Arab states and Qatar, and said that he thinks a deal could come quickly. “If I can help mediate between Qatar and, in particular, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, I would be willing to do so, and I think you would have a deal worked out very quickly,” Trump said at a joint news conference with Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain cut diplomatic and trade links with Qatar on 5 June, suspending air and shipping routes with the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas. The nations say Doha supports regional foe Iran and Islamists, charges Qatar’s leaders deny. Kuwait has been trying to mediate the dispute.
MUST READ OPINIONS AND COLUMNS
No Shortcuts In Digital Transformation: A true digital enterprise takes a strategic and not a piecemeal approach to digitalisation. Formulating a strong digital transformation strategy that allows a company to transform its business, implement the right technologies and build the right talent is a herculean task.
Post-Demonetisation Economy: Exorcising DeMo’s Demons: The negative effects of demonetisation on GDP are largely over. Because of fears of getting shortchanged on input credit from GST, there was an inventory drawdown in June, and a possible slowdown in production even before that. Both these will be offset in August and Q2 of 2017-18. On balance, the economy should bottom out in July. But the speed of recovery will depend on reforms and monetary policy.
Here’s How India Can Be The World Leader In Drug Manufacturing: Since neither the public nor the private sector can go it alone in such a complex, high-cost, high-risk environment, a bridge will need to be created between academia, industry and government – the triple helix of medical innovation.
Caution Warranted For River-Linking Project: River-linking critics insist that the project is built on bad science and an outdated understanding of water systems and water management. The many environmental concerns and massive price tag of the river-interlinking project may outweigh its projected benefits.
The Spiritual Market Most Ripe For Indic Religions May Well Be North America: It is time for India to export its old temples and faiths to the West. Saraswati ought to be the logical goddess of that haven of knowledge, the Ivy League institutions, and Laxmi to Wall Street, and Lord Shiva for the creative-destructive forces of the Silicon Valley.
We hope you enjoyed reading our morning brief. Have a great day ahead!
SUBSCRIBE NOW: The September issue of our magazine is out now. The cover story focuses on Pakistan, which is imploding. The terrorists Pakistan bred to bleed India by a thousand cuts are bleeding it instead – 70 Years After Its Creation, Pakistan Is A Failed State. Get a copy home and enjoy reading Swarajya in print. Subscribe here to start receiving your copies for just Rs 349.
As you are no doubt aware, Swarajya is a media product that is directly dependent on support from its readers in the form of subscriptions. We do not have the muscle and backing of a large media conglomerate nor are we playing for the large advertisement sweep-stake.
Our business model is you and your subscription. And in challenging times like these, we need your support now more than ever.
We deliver over 10 - 15 high quality articles with expert insights and views. From 7AM in the morning to 10PM late night we operate to ensure you, the reader, get to see what is just right.
Becoming a Patron or a subscriber for as little as Rs 1200/year is the best way you can support our efforts.