Morning
Brief: Chopper Scam Breakthrough; Cabinet Rejig On Cards; Note Swaps Ruled OutAn AgustaWestland helicopter. (Stave/Wikimedia Commons)

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

Chopper Scam Breakthrough: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has arrested Shivani Saxena, director of a Dubai-based company that was allegedly used to route bribe money in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal case, in what is being seen as a breakthrough in the efforts to identify the recipients of kickbacks. Sources claimed Shivani and her husband Rajeev Shamsher Bahadur Saxena used their companies to route the money which came as kickbacks from Augusta middlemen Carlo Gerosa and Guido Haschke, besides helping the suspects acquire properties and shares. "She can take us closer to the people who received money for facilitating the sale of AgustaWestland helicopters during the UPA regime,” said a senior ED source.

It’s Venkaiah Naidu Versus Gopalkrishna Gandhi: Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu was on Monday selected by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to contest against Gopalkrishna Gandhi in the vice presidential election. The decision to field Naidu, veteran politician from Andhra Pradesh, was taken at a BJP parliamentary board meeting. The election is slated for 5 August. The Opposition is fielding Gopalkrishna Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson, who is a retired Indian Administrative Services officer and a diplomat. Meanwhile, a record 99 per cent voting was recorded for the Presidential election that pitted National Democratic Alliance’s Ram Nath Kovind against the joint Opposition candidate Meira Kumar.

Cabinet Reshuffle On Cards: The long-awaited Union cabinet reshuffle is expected soon as Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has decided to field Union Minister M Vankaiah Naidu to contest Vice Presidential election. Already, two key ministries – defence and environment – are without a full-time minister. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan are holding the additional charge of these two portfolios respectively. Prime Minister Narendra Modi first expanded his cabinet in November 2014 when he inducted 21 new faces. In July last year, Modi undertook another reshuffle in which he appointed Prakash Javadekar as the Human Resource Development minister, replacing Smriti Irani, who was shifted to textiles.

Government Rejects Note Swap Chance: The Union government on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that no more grace period will be granted for depositing the scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, saying the very object of demonetisation and elimination of black money will be defeated if a fresh window is given. On 4 July, the apex court had sought to prevail on the Centre to open a fresh window for exchanging scrapped high value notes if people could establish that the money was theirs and they had a genuine reason for not changing it before 30 December.

NIA Targets LoC Trade: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has brought in tax officials to investigate trans-Line of Control (LoC) trade and alleged receipt of money by separatists groups in the Kashmir Valley, believed to be the main source of terror financing. The Union government has allowed the deputation of officers of the Indian Revenue Service (IRS) in the NIA to help the investigators probe the multi-layered trade transactions, senior government officials have said. The IRS officials would also extend help in the money trail and in unearthing alleged benami property and transactions made by some separatists groups in the Valley, the officials said.

China Conducts Military Drill Near Arunachal Border: China's military has conducted live-fire exercises in Tibet, near Arunachal Pradesh border, amid the ongoing standoff between Indian and Chinese troops at the Doklam area in the Sikkim sector. The live-fire drills included the quick delivery of troops and different military units working together on joint attacks. Video posted online showed soldiers using anti-tank grenades and missiles against bunkers and howitzers for artillery coverage. The video also showed radar units identifying enemy aircraft and soldiers using anti-aircraft artillery to destroy targets. The drills lasted 11 hours.

Sikkim Casualties Reports Baseless And Malicious, Says India: India rejected as “utterly baseless, malicious and mischievous” reports originating from Pakistan claiming that more than 150 Indian Army soldiers died in Sikkim due to a Chinese rocket attack. “Such reports are utterly baseless, malicious and mischievous. No cognisance should be taken of them by responsible media,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Gopal Baglay said. His response was to a report by Pakistan’s Dunya news channel claiming that 158 Indian soldiers were killed in a Chinese cross border rocket attack. Bilateral tension between China and India has escalated over the past few weeks over a stand-off between their armies in Doklam region in the Sikkim sector.

Naming And Shaming Big Loan Defaulters: Top Court To Take A Call: The Supreme Court will take a call on whether or not a list of big loan defaulters submitted by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) can be disclosed. The RBI insisted on Monday that it cannot make public the list of defaulters. The list was submitted to the court by RBI in March this year in a sealed envelope, and the central bank said that disclosing the names could have an adverse impact on businesses. “There are a series of statutes that can be looked into to decide whether the disclosure can be made,” counsel for the RBI told the court. Taking this into consideration, a bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar said that the matter will be heard after four weeks.

MUST READ OPINIONS AND COLUMNS

Let ‘Hindustaniyat’ Triumph Over Imported Terror In Kashmir: We have to keep believing that in the ultimate analysis, Hindustaniyat will triumph over imported terror. This is what our 5,000-year history teaches us.

Is There A Structural Change In Inflation? One of the main causes of inflation – wage pressure – has been kept under check in recent times. Going by historical precedent, the slowing inflation makes a case for an RBI rate cut, and the global softness in commodity prices should further buttress that case.

Black Muddy River: Of Jobs And Computers: While machines have come a long way and will continue to evolve, the human intervention has its own indispensable value. While machines may be able to generate nuanced tasks, there will always be the need for a human to translate the generated pieces into human-pleasing products.

GST Impact On The Infrastructure Sector: GST could have significant impact on infrastructure spending. Its impact on infrastructure sector seems to be a mixed bag – predictability and efficiency are key advantages while higher GST rates and non-inclusion of sub-sector are negatives.

Data Protection And Privacy: Choices Before India: The task of revising the data protection regime is vital for the progress of the country. We should develop a data-protection regime that suits the Indian context and safeguards against privacy violations, but does not stifle technology innovation.

SWARAJYA SPECIAL

The Hundred Kills Syndrome Can Only Be A Contributary Factor Towards Peace In Kashmir: More Is Needed In Other Domains Too: The combination of military effectiveness and public introspection needs to be taken to the next level through effective harnessing of soft power. The situation perhaps is ripe for it but are there enough takers to undertake the challenge with sensitivity and an eye on the future.

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

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