Morning
Brief: Empowering RBI To Tackle Loan Defaulters; India To Cut Iran Oil
Imports; New Shivpal Yadav ThreatThe Reserve Bank of India head office in Mumbai. (PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP/Getty Images)

Good Morning, Swarajya Readers! Here's What You Need To Know Today.

Empowering RBI To Act Against Loan Defaulters: In a move to effectively deal with the problem of mounting bad loans in banking sector, the Cabinet has recommended an ordinance empowering the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to instruct banks to act against top 20-25 loan defaulters. The details of the package are expected to be announced in a day or two, once President Pranab Mukherjee clears the ordinance. Sources said that the government may be able to advise RBI on certain cases, but overall the idea is to empower the regulator to issue specific instructions.

India To Cut Iran Crude Imports: Upset over Iran’s natural gas project, India has reportedly decided to cut crude oil imports from the country by as much as 25 per cent. The drop in volumes follows India's threat to order state refiners – Hindustan Petroleum, Bharat Petroleum, Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals, and Indian Oil Corporation – to reduce purchases from Iran if an Indian consortium is not awarded the rights to develop Iran's huge Farzad B natural gas field. The volume cuts would put India's imports of Iranian crude for this fiscal year at 370,000 barrels per day, said sources.

Centre Notifies Pending Pay Hike For Armed Forces: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved some key proposals concerning modifications in the Seventh Pay Commission recommendations that are likely to benefit more than 55 lakh pre-2016 civil, defence and family pensioners. This comes after the Cabinet addressed four of core anomalies pertaining to recommendations of the commission that the three defence services had raised. A government spokesperson said the benefits of the proposed modifications would be effective from 1 January 2016 and would take the Centre’s annual pension bill to Rs 176,071 crore.

Cabinet Grants International Status To Vijayawada Airport: The central government on Wednesday granted international status to Vijayawada airport. The decision to upgrade the status of Vijayawada airport, as per the provisions of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014 was taken by the Union Cabinet. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the decision to give the airport, which is undergoing infrastructural changes due to increase in air traffic, international status will boost domestic and international tourism besides promoting socio-economic development.

Government For Creating Uniform Security Platform At Airports: The government is planning to create a holistic aviation network to get all airports on the same security platform. This was discussed at a high-level meeting attended by Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State for Aviation Jayant Sinha, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and other senior officials. Currently, airport security across the country is handled by various paramilitary forces and state police. The list of airports has gone up to 143 with the inclusion of 45 small airports after the launch of regional connectivity scheme, Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik (UDAN).

Sasikala Files Review Petition Against Her Conviction: Former Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary, V K Sasikala, on Wednesday, filed a review petition in the Supreme Court against her conviction in the disproportionate assets case. The petition has challenged the Karnataka High Court verdict holding her guilty and sentencing her to four-year imprisonment. An advocate acquainted with the review petition said Sasikala has banked on an earlier apex court verdict of 1991 in which after the death of a prime accused, the proceeding against the co-accused was also abated in a corruption case.

Shivpal Yadav Threatens To Form New Party: Senior Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Shivpal Singh Yadav has given an ultimatum to his nephew and party president Akhilesh Yadav – to step down from his post or face the prospect of a split. As the family feud within the SP intensified, Shivpal Yadav told reporters in Etawah that he was giving Akhilesh Yadav three months to hand over the party reins to his father, Mulayam Singh Yadav. “If Akhilesh fails to relinquish his post and hand over the party to Mulayam within this period, we will form a separate party,” Shivpal Yadav said.

Infosys Jobs Plan Victory For US, Says Trump Administration: Welcoming Indian IT giant Infosys' decision to hire 10,000 Americans in the next two years, the Donald Trump administration on Wednesday described it as a "political victory", saying it was a result of the US government's "pro-growth economic agenda." Infosys announced the move as part of efforts to mitigate the impact of H1-B visa curbs. "We're glad to see companies like Infosys see opportunity in the American economy again," White House spokesman Ninio Fetalvo said.

MUST READ OP-EDS

New Institutions Are Changing The Way GoI Channelises Financing Resources Across Sectors: The National Infrastructure and Investment Fund, the Long-Term Irrigation Fund, the Higher Education Financing Authority and the India Aspiration Fund are changing the way government channelises financing resources to these critical sectors.

Understanding NITI Aayog’s Action Agenda: The analysis and proposals provided by the Three Year Action Agenda range from the actionable to the aspirational. We believe that its primary contribution will be in serving as a base of knowledge and analysis to support any future discussions on policy reform; it should be welcomed.

Growth Problems For India’s Medium-Size Cities: Identifying the frictions and barriers to growth in medium-density cities in India can be a challenging task. In countries like the US and China, they are engines of economic progress – but in India, megacities still dominate.

Why India Should Tax Agricultural Income: To engage with such policy debates, the political establishment must first move beyond a reflexive rejection of the very concept of agricultural tax. It would be a pity if the logic of the colonial administration continued to dictate tax administration in India nine decades later.

SWARAJYA SPECIAL

The Key To 10 Per Cent GDP Growth Is Land; India Has Too Much Underused Land, Not Too Little: If India frees land supplies through policies to redevelop and rebuild and reuse existing land spaces, we will open up a decade or more of 10 per cent plus growth and jobs. We will be a middle-income country by 2030.

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