Good morning, dear reader! Here’s your morning news and views brief for today.
All Eyes On India-Russia Nuclear Deal: All eyes are on a deal to build, with Russia’s help, last two units of India’s largest nuclear power plant as Prime Minister Narendra Modi begins a historic summit meeting with President Vladimir Putin today. Modi arrived in Russia on Wednesday night for the annual summit, during which the two sides will sign a host of agreements. Indian officials said last-minute talks are taking place to iron out details of the agreement on a line of credit for building Unit 5 and 6 of the Kundankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu.
India Growth Slows To 7.1 Per Cent: Despite a very good showing by the agricultural sector, India’s growth slowed down to 7.1 per cent in 2016-17. India also lost the tag of the fastest growing economy to China in the March quarter with a gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 6.1 per cent. The GDP, as per the new series with base year of 2011-12, had expanded by 8 per cent in 2015-16. It was 7.9 per cent as based on the old series. Almost all sectors showed deceleration in the aftermath of demonetisation.
Defence Ministry Rolls Out Strategic Partnership Plan: Top Indian companies like Tata, Reliance Defence and L&T will now be able to participate in major military manufacturing projects after the Defence Ministry rolled out its strategic partnership plan. The Indian Navy, which has the two biggest projects has said that it is hopeful that the policy can be implemented within six months to kick start manufacturing of critical equipment in India. The final partnership model will come as a major relief to companies like Tata, L&T and Reliance Defence that have interests in different segments, ranging from aviation to land systems and naval shipbuilding.
Declare Cow As National Animal, Recommends Court: The Rajasthan High Court on Wednesday recommended that the cow be declared the national animal of India. A single judge bench of Justice Mahesh Chandra Sharma passed the directive on a public interest litigation on the death of more than 500 cows at a government-run shelter at Hingonia near Jaipur. In an unusual move, Justice Sharma, who retired from service later in the day, told the media that India should follow Nepal’s example and declare the cow a national animal.
Hassle-Free Travel For Air Passengers: Six more airports in the country, including Patna and Chennai, will do away with the practice of tagging and stamping domestic passengers' hand baggage from today. The four other airports that will usher in the new practice include those at Jaipur, Lucknow, Thiruvananthapuram and Guwahati. These six airports will join in ushering the new tag-less security system along with seven others at Delhi, Mumbai, Cochin, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Ahmedabad, where the system was initiated by the Central Industrial Security Force beginning 1 April this year.
New RBI Push To Tackle Bad Loans: As the non-performing assets (NPAs) of banks reached a record high, the Reserve Bank of India met heads and senior officials of various banks to discuss ways of tackling the issue of stressed assets. The meeting was attended by heads of leading Indian banks. “The focus of the meeting was on resolution of stressed loans. The RBI had sought our views and suggestions to tackle the bad loan problem,” a bank official said. NPAs have risen to about 17 per cent of total loans, the highest level among major economies. They are about 8.4 per cent of the GDP, according to Credit Suisse.
Indian Navy Rescues 30 As Cyclone Mora Batters Bangladesh: More than 30 people have been rescued by the Indian Navy in the neighbouring Bangladesh, which is hit hard by cyclone Mora and which caused widespread destruction, rendering millions of people homeless. The Indian Navy ship Sumitra has rescued 33 fishermen, sources said. At least six persons were killed as cyclone Mora made landfall in Bangladesh, damaging several houses, with authorities scrambling to evacuate over half a million people from the coastal areas.
Healthy Cow Milk For Iftar: Cow milk is replacing beef on iftar tables in Madhya Pradesh. Muslim Rashtriya Manch (MRM), the Muslim wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, said it is serving cow milk at iftar during the ongoing Ramzan considering the “health benefits it has over beef”. Manch’s co-convenor S K Muddin said cow milk has multiple benefits over beef whose “unhealthy and harmful” effects were “endorsed” even by Muslim scriptures. Muddin said they served cow milk to fasting Muslims in Betul and Jabalpur districts in the last two days and the response they got was “highly encouraging”.
US Pulling Out Of Climate Pact, Say Reports: US President Donald Trump said he was nearing an announcement on whether to pull out of a global pact to fight climate change, while a source close to the matter said Trump was preparing for a US withdrawal. According to Axios news outlet, environment protection agency administrator Scott Pruitt and his team were working on the withdrawal details. Trump, a global warming sceptic, has been critical of the accord saying it would be harmful for America’s manufacturing and that other nations such as India, China and Russia were not doing enough for mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions.
MUST READ OPINIONS/COLUMNS
RBI Policy Preview: Look Out For A Softer Tone: The RBI meeting on 7 June may witness a start of the divergence in the voting pattern within the monetary policy committee, the flash images of which were already visible in the previous minutes.
Assessing The New Rules To Solve The NPA Problem: The provisions made by the banks against bad loans till now could turn out to be inadequate. Banks will now be under pressure to close the transactions soon and this could lead to under-pricing of loans.
Too Many Regulations Are Ruining CSR: CSR interventions that have the greatest positive externalities are prevented. The overly prescriptive set of what is and what is not CSR is grounded in the government’s mistrust of companies.
India’s Low Carbon Transition: India has made a push towards a low carbon economic transition by expanding its renewable energy capacity by 350 per cent over the past 13 years. While its push towards renewable energy is important, India must continue to take a holistic approach towards climate change.
Latest Data Should End Debate On Whether DeMo Hurt Economy. It Did: Ever since operation demonetisation took off, a debate has raged on about whether the exercise hurt the economy. The sceptics have been proved right. Demonetisation did hurt the economy.
We hope you enjoyed reading our morning brief. Have a great day ahead!
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