Morning
Brief: Windfall For Government Staff; Air India Disinvestment Cleared; India-US To Sign Security PactArun Jaitley addressing a meeting. (GettyImages)

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

Allowances Boost For Central Government Staff: The Union cabinet raised allowances for a majority of the 4.7 million government employees, by more than what the seventh pay panel had suggested last year. The combined financial implication on account of these allowances will now be Rs 30,748.23 crore, more than the Rs 29,300 crore figure estimated by the Seventh Pay Commission, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said after the cabinet meeting on Wednesday. The modified allowances, including that for house rent, will be effective from 1 July and cost the Union government an additional Rs 1,448.23 crore a year.

Air India Disinvestment Cleared: The Union government has finally given the green light for disinvestment of Air India. “A Group of Ministers will be formed to look into the disinvestment which will decide on the quantum of disinvestment,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said after a cabinet meeting. NITI Aayog, the government's think tank has suggested complete privatisation of the Air India, which has a debt burden of over Rs 52,000 crore. The Tata Group in partnership with Singapore Airlines is interested in buying India's national carrier Air India from the government, a report last week said.

Government Notifies New Rules To Link PAN-Aadhaar: The Union government on Wednesday issued a fresh notification making linking of permanent account number (PAN) with Aadhaar mandatory from 1 July. Amending income tax rules and notifying them, the government has made quoting of the 12-digit biometric Aadhaar or the enrolment ID must at the time of application of PAN. The government notification states "every person who has been allotted PAN as on the first day of July 2017 and who in accordance with the provisions is required to intimate his Aadhaar number, shall intimate his Aadhaar number" to the income tax authorities.

India-US To Sign Security Cooperation Deal: The Union cabinet has given its nod to sign a pact with the US for enhancing bilateral security cooperation, including sharing of information on terror groups and counter-terror initiatives. This move comes hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi returned from the US where he had his first meeting with president Donald Trump. Other issues which are part of the bilateral security cooperation mechanism include coastal security, cyber security, mega city policing, providing homeland security equipment to each other and capacity building, sources said.

India Eyes Top 25 Slot In Ease Of Doing Business Ranking: In a bid to strengthen India’s ranking on the ease of doing business, the union government on Wednesday made its first presentation before a World Bank team and showcased how its procedures, cost of construction and time taken in approvals have improved manifold. Presently at 185, India is seeking to get into the top 25. In the ease of doing business rankings for construction permits for 2017 India was ranked 185 among the 190 countries surveyed. India had scored 36.88 marks on a scale of 100. Since then the PMO has been keeping a close watch on improving the rankings.

Protests Against Mob Violence: Thousands of people took to the streets in more than 10 cities across the country on Wednesday to protest a string of mob lynchings. In several places, including Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Kolkata, protesters gathered under the “Not In My Name” banner to make a strong statement against violence cow-protection vigilantes. The protests were seen as an immediate reaction to the brutal stabbing of a 16-year-old boy, Junaid, on a train. Similar protests were held in Allahabad, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Kochi, Lucknow, Patna and Thiruvananthapuram as well.

MBBS Course Fee Hiked: In Karnataka, government and private medical colleges are to see a MBBS course fee hike of 10 per cent a year over the next three academic years. The decision was taken at a meeting on Wednesday between representatives of private medical colleges and Medical Education Minister Dr Sharanprakash Patil. For 2017-18 academic year, the MBBS course fees in government colleges and for students allotted government-quota seats in private colleges is expected to increase from Rs 70,000 to Rs 77,000. Similarly, the fee in private medical colleges may increase from Rs 5.75 lakh to Rs 6.35 lakh.

Bhutan Issues Demarche To China Over Road Construction: Bhutan has issued a demarche to China over the construction of a road towards its army camp in Zomplri area of Doklam. The move comes amidst the ongoing face-off between Indian and Chinese troops in the Doklam area of the Sikkim sector. Ambassador of Bhutan to India Vetsop Namgyel said Doklam is a disputed territory and Bhutan has a written agreement with China that pending the final resolution of the boundary issue, peace and tranquillity should be maintained in the area. The Bhutanese envoy also asserted that under the agreement, both Bhutan and China should refrain from unilaterally changing the status quo.

MUST READ OPINIONS/COLUMNS

Administrative Reforms: Rebolting The Steel Frame: Administrative reforms will have to remain a continuous process, even as a lot has been achieved quietly in the last three years. It may take time for these reforms to manifest fully. But the direction is right and the pace is brisk.

The GST’s Top Transition Challenges: IT teams across industries are burning the midnight oil to make changes in their systems in preparation for GST. From treatment of closing inventory to modification of IT systems, there are a number of hurdles to smooth implementation.

The Costs Of Failing On The Job Creation Front: The potential Indian labour force will continue to rise in the coming decades. The inability to manage the jobs challenge will mean that governments will be forced to use fiscal tools to buy social peace.

Blockchaining India’s Digital Future: By embracing blockchain, the government can create a bureaucracy that focuses on innovation and experimentation, a government that seeks to maximize efficiency and governance, and an economy sustained on the promise of technology.

SWARAJYA SPECIAL

Roots Of Mob Violence Lie In Lack Of Police Reform, Not In BJP’s Rise To Power: Mobs and thuggish elements are wading in to deliver their brand of justice largely because the police force is too meagre or too politicised to do its job. Lynchistan is not something that got created after 2014. Its roots lie deeper in the lack of police reform for decades.

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

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