Morning Brief: Two-Front War Warning; Expediting Smart City Projects; Pakistan Finally Owns Up!
Good morning, dear reader! Here’s your morning news and views brief for today.
Indian Army Chief Says Be Ready For Two-Front War: Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said that the country cannot rule out the possibility of a two-front war with China and Pakistan despite having credible nuclear deterrence capabilities. The differences with Pakistan seemed to be "irreconcilable", with the country continuing to wage a proxy war against India, said General Rawat and added that China too will continue with its efforts to nibble away Indian territory through "salami slicing" and other measures. The Army Chief's warning that India cannot let down its guard on either of the two fronts came a week after the over 70-day Doklam standoff between India and China was finally diffused with mutual disengagement and withdrawal of troops after intensive diplomatic discussions.
India-Japan To Strengthen Defence Ties: India and Japan on Wednesday stepped up their cooperation in defence opening up multiple new windows that range from training the Indian Navy personnel on anti-submarine warfare to joint counter-terrorism exercise between the two armies in 2018. These were decided at the two-day India-Japan Annual Defence Ministerial Dialogue in Tokyo attended by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley and his Japanese counterpart Itsunori Onodera. Japan also proposed to dispatch it P1 maritime patrol aircraft along with a warship for the Malabar series of trilateral exercise involving India, US and Japanese navies in 2018. The Indian Navy has also been invited to the mine counter-measure training by the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force.
Modi Steps In To Expedite Smart City Projects: With less than two years to go for Lok Sabha elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has stepped in to ensure results can be seen on the ground. The Union government has asked states to focus on impactful and public-private-partnership based smart city projects, which would show results over the next one year and have a review mechanism in place. Ministry of housing and urban affairs, the nodal ministry for Smart Cities Mission has identified 261 impactful ventures worth Rs 31,000 crore and PPP projects worth Rs 32,000 crore for the states to work on. Housing and Urban Affairs Secretary D S Mishra urged the states to ensure commencement of work by November this year on 261 impactful smart city projects in 60 cities that were announced between January and September 2016.
GST Collections Hit Rs 94,700 Crore: More than six lakh more businesses have filed returns and paid taxes in the last one week, taking maiden revenue collections from goods and services (GST) to about Rs 94,700 crore. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had last week said that 38.38 lakh businesses had filed their returns and paid Rs 92,283 crore in taxes for the month of July – the first month of implementation of independent India's biggest tax reform. A top official said since then the number of returns filed has gone up to Rs 44 lakh and over Rs 2,500 crore more has come in as taxes. The collections so far are from 74 per cent of the total taxpayer base and more people are likely to come in when the final returns are filed in GSTR 1, 2 and 3.
SC Seeks Details On Lawmakers' Assets Surge: The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Central government to place before it details of the steps it had taken to verify the sources of income of lawmakers whose assets increased many fold in just one term as elected representatives. The Centre was directed to file a comprehensive report on what action or probe it has conducted against 289 legislators, including some senior leaders. A bench of Justices J Chelameswar and S Abdul Nazeer said a probe is needed to find the source of income and whether property amassed was through legal means. It pulled up the Centre for its reluctance in sharing information and directed the government to file a report within a week. The MPs and leaders who figure on the list are from all parties and in some cases the assets have gone up by more than 500 per cent in five years.
Mumbai Blasts Case Ruling Today: A special court will today (Thursday) issue its verdict against the five men convicted in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case. The court had convicted the men on 16 June for the blasts, which had killed 257 and injured 713 people. The convicts include Feroz Abdul Rashid Khan, Taher Merchant, Karimullah Khan, Abu Salem and Riyaz Siddiqui. The TADA court had convicted all except Siddiqui under charges including murder, criminal conspiracy and other sections under the Indian Penal Code, TADA Act, Explosive Substances Act, Explosives Act and Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act. The Central Bureau of Investigation has sought the death penalty for Feroz Abdul Rashid Khan, Taher Merchant and Karimullah Khan.
Agonising First Ride On Lucknow Metro: It was an agonising first ride for more than 100 passengers of the Lucknow Metro on Wednesday morning after they were trapped inside the train for more than two hours because of a technical snag that snapped the doors shut. There was no air-conditioning or lights when the train stopped near Mavaiya. Passengers were stuck inside until a team of the Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation came to their help. They had to be evacuated from the emergency exit of the train after officials failed to resolve the problem after two hours. The snag on the maiden commercial ride of the flagship project came a day after it was inaugurated by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
US Technology Giants Vow To Fight Trump Ban On ‘Dreamers’: Scores of American technology giants, including Apple, Google and Microsoft, have vowed to stand by their employees after the Donald Trump administration scrapped an amnesty programme that granted work permits to immigrants who arrived in the country illegally as children. They unanimously criticised the decision by Donald Trump's administration to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme that has potentially put 800,000 illegal immigrants at danger of deportation. While Apple and Microsoft have offered a defence to their "Dreamers", Facebook chief executive officer (CEO) Mark Zuckerberg said, "This is a sad day for our country." Google CEO Sunder Pichai asked the "Congress to act now". Meanwhile, 15 states and Columbia district have sued the Trump administration for its plan to end the programme.
Pakistan Admits That LeT And JeM Operating From Its Soil: With international pressure mounting on Pakistan to act against terror groups following a BRICS declaration, Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif has for the first time admitted that outfits like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) are operating from the country’s soil. "We should impose restrictions on activities of elements like LeT and JeM so that we can show the global community that we've put our house in order," Asif said while responding to a BRICS declaration that named several terrorist groups, including the two, as threats to regional security. Asif said Pakistan could no longer afford to "test" its friends on the issue of terrorism. "Friends like China should not be tested every time, particularly in the changed (global) scenario," the minister added.
MUST READ OPINIONS AND COLUMNS
The Slow GDP Growth In The First Quarter Is A Warning Signal: Exports are often mentioned as providing a demand-side stimulus for gross domestic product (GDP), but this understates their importance in promoting economic growth. More attention needs to be paid to underlying weaknesses in the Indian economy rather than short-term phenomena like demonetisation and GST affecting GDP growth.
Welcome Support For The New Bankruptcy Law: It is good that the highest court in the land has very strongly reiterated the need for the new framework. The ruling should hopefully minimise the legal tangles that could emerge in the initial years of transition, especially from the lower courts.
The Promise Of Fiscal Money: In this new financial world, central banks’ independence is becoming meaningless. A payments system based on money backed by future taxes gives states a greater say in money creation while protecting the independence of central banks.
The Auction That Runs The Internet: Google’s sponsored search auction introduced in 2002 required that instead of paying its own bid, a winning bidder pays the amount bid by the bidder just below it. The internet is driven by an auction for online ads whose revenue, amounting to over $50 billion per year, fund a significant portion of the infrastructure.
Gauri Lankesh Murder: No One Safe Under Siddaramaiah’s Rule: Whether one is a leftist like Lankesh, rationalist like Kalburgi, Hindu activist, or even a police officer, it seems like the Karnataka government led by K Siddaramaiah cannot be trusted to protect anyone.
We hope you enjoyed reading our morning brief. Have a great day ahead!
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