Morning
Brief: FDI Sees Huge Jump, Says Modi; RBI Under Fire; Trump Names New
FBI DirectorNarendra Modi

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

Modi Highlights Huge FDI Jump: Giving an overview of his three-year-old government, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has seen a huge jump from $34,487 billion to $61,724 billion since 2013. He said India is today seen as a bright spot in the global economy, doing business here has been made easier and the tax regime is more predictable and stable. The goods and services tax is also going to have long standing benefits for the nation, he said in a write-up on LinkedIn.

Thumbs Up: 83 Per Cent Indians Upbeat About Economy: A survey global economic attitudes by Pew Research Centre has come up with some interesting statistics, claiming Indians have the most positive view of their economic situation in the developing world. When compared to the citizens of rich countries, Indians are near the top with 83 per cent describing their current economic situation as good. The survey, in eight vernacular languages, took place between February 21 and March 10, meaning Indians were expressing such views in the aftermath of the demonetisation exercise.

25 Killed In Firecracker Factory Explosion: At least 25 people, most of them believed to be labourers, were killed and eight others critically injured in a major explosion at a firecracker factory in Balaghat district on Wednesday. The injured have been admitted to the district hospital and Bhilai in neighbouring Chhattisgarh. The district administration has ordered a magisterial probe headed by the additional district magistrate to probe into the incident. The cause of explosions is not yet known.

ISRO Set To Place Another ‘Eye In The Sky’: Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is gearing up to launch a Cartosat-series satellite into the 505-km polar sun synchronous orbit by the end of this month. The satellite, also called the 'eye in the sky' because of its surveillance capabilities, covers the entire globe in 1,867 orbits on a 126-day cycle. The 550kg satellite, the fourth of the Cartosat-2 series, is to be launched by the PSLV-C38 rocket. The Cartosat-2C series satellite has added teeth to India's military surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. The first major use of the Cartosat-2C satellite by the military was when the Army counted on satellite images to hit terror launch pads during the surgical strike in 2016.

Goa Planning To Add Yoga To Curriculum: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government in Goa is planning to introduce ‘yoga’ as part of value education in the curriculum of the state board. Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar said the concept of value education has been incorporated in the syllabus which includes knowledge about personal hygiene, importance of following traffic rules, civic sense and yoga. “The syllabus of the Goa board of secondary and higher secondary education has become easy compared to CBSE. We will improve the syllabus by giving thrust on quality education in the curriculum,” he said.

RBI Under Fire: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Wednesday decided to keep interest rates unchanged, prompting criticism from the government. Seldom in recent times have conditions warranted policy easing as much as they do now, Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian said, soon after RBI announced its decision. Subramanian also said the RBI’s inflation forecast errors had been large and systematically one-sided. This comes in the wake of a six-member monetary policy committee unanimously turning down a finance ministry request for a meeting ahead of the review, thereby asserting its autonomy.

Home Loans Set To Get Cheaper: In a move that should benefit customers as well as real estate developers, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Wednesday made it possible for banks to lend more to home buyers, and at lower interest rates. The central bank did this by reducing the amount of money banks have to set aside (as security) on home loans. Previously, they had to set aside 0.4 per cent, or Rs 400 per lakh. This has now been reduced to 0.25 per cent, or Rs 250 per lakh. It also slashed the so-called risk weightage on home loans of between Rs 30 lakh and Rs 75 lakh to 35 per cent from 50 per cent, and over Rs75 lakh to 50 per cent from 75 per cent.

UK Polls: Theresa May On Course To Boost Majority: Prime Minister Theresa May is set to increase her majority in parliament as the UK goes to polls today (Thursday), opinion polls showed. Of six polls published on Wednesday, two showed the Conservatives widening their lead over Labour, two showed a narrowing and two were unchanged. Polling firm ICM said Conservatives' wide lead of 46 per cent to 34 per cent for Labour would give May a majority of 96 seats, up sharply from the working majority of 17 she has had until now and bigger than any Conservative majority since the days when Margaret Thatcher was prime minister.

Trump Names New FBI Director: US President Donald Trump on Wednesday nominated Christopher A Wray as the director of Federal Bureau of Investigation. In a tweet Trump said, “I will be nominating Christopher A Wray, a man of impeccable credentials, to be the new Director of the FBI. Details to follow.” Wray, a litigation attorney with law firm King & Spalding in Washington and Atlanta, was the US assistant attorney general during the regime of President George W Bush and served as assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division from 2003 to 2005.

MUST READ OPINIONS/COLUMNS

GST: A Race Against Time: The GST Council has also tweaked return formats to ensure simplification, which is welcome. If there is one serious concern for 1 July implementation, it’s the GST compliance piece and it’s important that the government understands this challenge and finds a solution.

Evolution Of Urjit Patel As RBI Governor: Urjit Patel’s statement and his call for paring the administered interest rates on small savings to be in tune with market rates makes it clear that he has started asserting himself.

India’s Economic Story: The Growth Under The NDA Government: With inflation and inflationary expectations now seemingly under control, RBI should also contribute by bringing down the real cost of borrowing. This will stoke up private demand for housing that, with its extensive multiplier effects, has the potential to trigger an upward swing in the domestic investment cycle.

The Indian IT Industry’s Future Potential: With growing competition for IT services business from other geographies, Indian IT firms must offer something significantly more valuable to their clients. The sector would do well if it upgrades its capabilities and offerings in line with emerging technologies and market imperatives.

SWARAJYA SPECIAL

Military Top Brass Meets In Srinagar, Triggers Panic In Pakistan: Top commanders of the Army, Navy and Air Force met to discuss the main challenges confronting India’s military in the near future. The meeting triggered frantic reactions on that side of the border.

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

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