Morning
Brief: ISRO Set To Test ‘Game-Changing’
Rocket; Foreign Funds Clamp On NGO; Theresa May BackedThe Sriharikota launch pad. (ISRO)

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

ISRO Set To Test ‘Game-Changing’ Rocket: Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is gearing up to test a heavyweight rocket. Chairman A S Kiran Kumar said the organisation is planning to undertake the first developmental flight of a “game-changer” rocket capable of launching four-tonne class of satellites from Sriharikota spaceport next month. ISRO rockets (launch vehicles) at present have the capability to launch satellites up to 2.2 tonnes; it depends on international launchers to orbit satellites heavier than that.

BSF Jawan Dismissed Over Bad Food Video: Border Security Force (BSF) jawan Tej Bahadur Yadav, who posted a video on social media complaining of bad food being served to troops on the frontlines, was dismissed from service following a court martial inquiry that found him guilty of making false charges. Yadav had alleged troops were served bad quality food and even had to sleep “empty stomach” at times, prompting the border guarding force to initiate an inquiry. Yadav has said he will move court against his dismissal.

Cabinet Approves Fund To Procure Paper Trail Units For 2019 Polls: The Election Commission of India’s demand for procuring paper trail machines was approved by the Union cabinet, which allow voters to verify their votes are cast correctly by dispensing a slip with voted party’s symbol, ahead of the 2019 general elections. The cabinet, in a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has approved purchase of 16.15 lakh VVPAT units at a cost of Rs 3,173 crore, or Rs 19,650 for each unit, from Bharat Electronics, Bangalore, and Electronics Corporation of India, Hyderabad.

Foreign Funds Clamp On NGO: The Ministry of Home Affairs has barred the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), a non-governmental organisation (NGO) registered with the government under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), from receiving foreign funding. The home ministry acted against the PHFI after it was found that the NGO was allegedly violating provisions of the FCRA by “diverting” foreign funds for purposes other than those the money was intended for. It used to get donations from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Yamuna Expressway Authority Scraps 17 Housing Projects: The Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA), which handles the real estate and infrastructure development along the Yamuna Expressway, cancelled the building plans of 17 housing projects, after it emerged that the plans for these projects were lacking in safety parameters like fire safety and sewage management. Out of the 17 projects, seven belong to Jaypee Infratech. Other builders whose projects have been cancelled include Ajnara, Oriss, Urbania and Jaypee Sports International.

Green Light For Foreign Funding Of Infrastructure Projects: The Union government has decided to allow “financially sound state government entities” to borrow directly from bilateral overseas lending agencies to fund infrastructure projects. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the decision will benefit important projects like the Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link. The government “has approved the policy guidelines to allow financially sound state government entities to borrow directly from bilateral official development assistance partners for implementation of vital infrastructure projects,” said an official statement.

OPEC Upbeat Over Oil Price Recovery: Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) secretary general Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo said he is optimistic that production cuts agreed with non-members to prop up prices will lead to a recovery in the market. OPEC members agreed in November last year to cut output by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) for six months beginning from the start of the year. Some non-cartel producers, led by Russia, joined in December committing to cut output by 558 million bpd. The cuts were agreed to help restore market stability “by addressing one variable, which is stock,” he said.

UK Parliament Backs Theresa May For Snap Polls: British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday won the overwhelming backing of members of Parliament (MPs) to hold a snap election on 8 June, which she said is in the country’s “national interest” and will strengthen her hand in the complex Brexit negotiations. After debating the motion put forward by May in the House of Commons, 522 of the 650 sitting MPs voted in favour of the 8 June election, passing the threshold of two-thirds needed to approve the plan. Thirteen voted against the motion.

MUST READ OP-EDS

Ignore Vijay Mallya’s TV Drama, Focus On The Real Crisis Of NPAs: Neither the Indian government nor the main opposition party lost much time in taking credit after Vijay Mallya was arrested by Scotland Yard. Naming and shaming wilful defaulters such as Mallya won’t solve a $180 billion NPA problem that’s continuing to grow every quarter.

Digital Advertising Set To Explode In 2020: This growth will be led by consumer adoption of mobile phones, increased Internet usage and falling data prices. However, how robust the data is, remains to be seen.

Erdogan Comes To India A Winner And Loser: Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will arrive in New Delhi later this month. His star was on the rise during the Arab Spring, but in the years since, his reputation and standing have taken a battering, referendum victory notwithstanding.

The Hapless Fate Of An Alleged Spy: The stand-off between India and Pakistan can’t be understood using the assurance game as the two countries have different incentives. No matter what India does, Pakistan would prefer to exaggerate and amplify the supposed transgressions of Jadhav, whether or not he is guilty.

SWARAJYA SPECIAL

Why Modi’s All-Conquering Politics Is Not Underwritten By Sound Economics: Modi government is staring at economic failure if it tries to push good politics at the expense of economic sense. He may win the 2019 elections, for the linkages between political success and good economics are tenuous in the medium term.

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

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