Morning Brief: Bad Loans Crackdown; GST Delay Ruled Out; New Push For Separate Gorkhaland

Morning
Brief: Bad Loans Crackdown; GST Delay Ruled Out; New Push For Separate GorkhalandThe Reserve Bank of India (RBI) head office in Mumbai. (PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP/Getty Images)

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

RBI Gets Cracking On Bad Loans: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is cracking down on bad loans with an internal advisory committee (IAC) identifying 12 accounts of corporate borrowers who owe over Rs 5,000 crore each for insolvency proceedings. “The IAC noted that under the recommended criterion, 12 accounts adding up to about 25 per cent of the current gross NPAs of the banking system would qualify for immediate reference under the newly enacted Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016,” the RBI said. With total NPAs or bad loans of banks now close to Rs 700,000 crore, the money of banks stuck in these 12 accounts is estimated to be around Rs 175,000 crore.

GST Delay Ruled Out: The central government has signalled that goods and services tax (GST) will be implemented as scheduled on 1 July, fighting back speculations that the government will delay amid predictions of chaos from some business groups. “The rumours about GST implementation being delayed are false,” revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia said in a Twitter post on Tuesday. “Please do not be misled.” A senior government official and a state tax department official also said there were no plans to delay the roll-out and the Finance Ministry tweeted preparations were in “full swing.”

Air India Making Profit, Says Jayant Sinha: As the government mulls possible privatisation of Air India, Union Minister Jayant Sinha has said that the debt-laden national carrier and other domestic airlines are "running in profit". The government's think-tank NITI Aayog has proposed total privatisation of the national carrier, which is sitting on a debt pile of Rs 52,000 crore. "The current numbers suggest that our airlines are running in profit. They are not running in losses. Even Air India too is in profit," he said. In 2015-16, the airline posted operational profit of Rs 105 crore on account of low fuel prices and increased passenger numbers.

India Approves Total Ban On Child Labour: In a significant development, India ratified on Tuesday two fundamental conventions against child labour at the International Labour Organisation (ILO) conference in Geneva. New Delhi approved the Minimum Age Convention 1973 and the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention 1999. Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya, who is representing India at the conference, said the amended Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Central Rules completely prohibited employment of children aged below 14 years in any occupation or process, and of adolescents (aged 14 to 18 years) in hazardous occupations and processes.

New Push For Separate Gorkhaland: Demands for a separate Gorkhaland are getting louder, three decades after Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) leader Subhas Ghising led a violent movement in the Hills for a separate state. The crisis in the Darjeeling Hills deepened on Tuesday when the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) and other hill parties, including GNLF which is an ally of the ruling Trinamool Congress in West Bengal, adopted an unanimous resolution seeking a separate state of Gorkhaland. The Gorkha Rashtriya Nirman Morcha, Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists, Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh were also present at the meeting where the resolution was adopted.

UK Court Extends Mallya’s Bail: A UK on Tuesday extended Indian businessman Vijay Mallya’s bail until 4 December even as he said he has “enough evidence” to defend himself in the extradition case brought by the Indian government. The Westminster Magistrates Court set 6 July as the next date for hearing the case after magistrate Emma Arthbutnot heard arguments by both sides. Mallya, wanted in India for financial offences including loan defaults to several banks, was arrested and bailed on 18 April. Outside the court, Mallya denied all the allegations against him and said no loans were ever diverted, and added "You can keep dreaming about a billion pounds; you cannot prove anything without facts."

A Weighty Crisis: The findings of this study should send alarms bells ringing for India as it has the second highest number of obese children in the world after China. The study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that 14.4 million kids in the country have excess weight. China with 15.3 million and India with 14.4 million had the highest numbers of obese children; the US with 79.4 million and China with 57.3 million had the highest numbers of obese adults in 2015. The findings represent "a disturbing global public health crisis," according to the study.

Theresa May Wooing DUP: UK Prime Minister Theresa May made progress in securing a deal with a small Northern Ireland party with whom she hopes to govern, just days after she lost majority in elections to the Parliament. May desperately needs the Democratic Unionist Party's (DUP) 10 seats to pass legislation. The Conservatives are considering an arrangement in which the DUP backs May on the budget and her confidence motions in return for policies favourable to Northern Ireland – a situation that could lead to huge benefits for a small part of the UK.

MUST READ OPINIONS AND COLUMNS

Reorienting India’s Trade Policy: GST is important but probably too narrow a peg to hang India’s trade policy from. It is vital that the trade policy, while taking cognizance of GST’s nitty-gritties, also realigns domestic trade infrastructure with the altering global trade landscape.

India’s Pursuit Of Energy Transformation: While renewable energy development has long been a policy goal in India, much of it has been driven by the Central government, and at a modest pace. India must balance between complementing generation capacities rather than pushing for preferred technologies.

The Indian Navy’s Humanitarian Impulse: With the growing urbanisation of coastal areas, Indian ships will increasingly be at the forefront of rescue efforts in disaster-hit states. It has played a leading role in humanitarian missions since the 2004 tsunami – a potent way to project India’s diplomatic soft power.

How To Cut Across Corridors: In an era of stalled multilateral talks, Brexit and Trump’s protectionism, these new ideas may just be a way forward.

SWARAJYA SPECIAL

An Opening To Lasting Peace? What Khaplang’s Death Means For Nagaland: Shangwang Shanyung Khaplang’s death could now make it easier for New Delhi to reach out to his successor, Khonga Konyak. The Modi government should move fast, because each day lost by New Delhi, is a day gained by Beijing.

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

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