Centre eased several foreign direct investment norms,
The Centre eased several foreign direct investment norms, including
allowing overseas airlines to own up to 49% of Air India and permitting 100%
FDI in single brand retail and construction development under the automatic
The Union Cabinet allowed foreign airlines to invest up to 49% under the
approval route in Air India, “subject to the conditions that: (i) foreign
investment(s) in Air India, including that of foreign airline(s), shall not
exceed 49% either directly or indirectly and (ii) substantial ownership and
effective control of Air India shall continue to be vested in an Indian
The move comes close on the heels of Singapore Airlines and Tata Group
evincing interest in bidding for the debt-laden national carrier.
As per the present policy, foreign airlines are allowed to invest under
the government approval route in the capital of Indian companies operating
scheduled and non-scheduled air transport services, up to the limit of 49%
of their paid-up capital.
However, this provision was not applicable to Air India. The government,
therefore, decided to do away with this restriction.
The changes to the FDI norms would trigger significant interest in the
carrier from foreign airlines, however the actual terms of the offer and
conditions attached would determine the level of participation in the bids.
CAPA India, in October 2017, recommended that the government exit Air
India completely. “Any level of equity retention will deter investors due to
concerns about the prospect of continued government interference post-privatisation,”
it had said at the time.
“No major Indian corporation from outside of aviation will invest in
such a complex project without an experienced strategic partner. Allowing
foreign airlines to participate will increase the number of interested
bidders and the valuation.”
The government may, however, have to face opposition to its plans to
divest stake in Air India.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture,
in a draft report, is said to have described Air India as a “national pride”
and urged that the airline be “given a chance for at least five years to
SIT headed by a former High Court judge to independently probe 186 anti-sikhriot
In a relief for the 1984 Sikh riots victims who have waited decades for
justice, the Supreme Court decided to set up its own Special Investigation
Team (SIT) headed by a former High Court judge to independently probe 186
cases not investigated further by the Centre’s SIT.
A Bench, led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, said the three-member SIT
would also have two police officers, one serving and one retired.
On the government’s insistence, the Bench posted the matter for January
11 so that the Centre, represented by Additional Solicitor General Pinky
Anand, and senior advocate H.S. Phoolka, who is appearing for the victims,
could suggest names for the SIT.
“Regard being had to the nature of the cases, we think it appropriate
that a fresh SIT be constituted for carrying on further investigation,” the
It said that besides the retired HC judge, the members would be a former
IPS officer not below or equivalent to the rank of an IG and a serving IPS
officer, all available in Delhi.
The Centre had earlier told the SC that of the 293 cases investigated by
the SIT, closure reports were filed in 241.
Gulbarga Tur Dal will soon be added to GI tag products
The Kalaburagi red gram, “Gulbarga Tur Dal”, which is known
internationally for its superior quality, will soon be added to the list of
Karnataka producers with the Geographical Indication (GI) tag.
Red gram grown here has distinctive features having to do with this
region’s unique soil and climatic conditions. The prominent characteristics
of the crop grown in Kalaburagi district are good taste and aroma compared
to those grown elsewhere. It consumes less time to cook when compared to tur
dal grown in other regions.
Initially conferring of GI status may not work wonders for the farmers
of the district, but in the long run, farmers and manufactures will be able
to get better price for the brand in the market.
Red gram is considered to be the main kharif crop in the region. Of the
total 9 lakh hectares of red gram cultivated across the State, 3.7 lakh
hectares under red gram is in Kalaburagi district.
Farm scientist Muniswamy said that securing GI for the product will help
farmers in getting premium price and creating international demand for
produces. “The ultimate beneficiaries of this whole process are farmers,” he
BCI asks MP’s and MLA’s to why they should not be banned
The Bar Council of India, the country’s apex lawyers’ body asked Members
of Parliament and State Assembly legislators, who double up as advocates, to
respond on why they should not be banned from legal practice.
An expert committee of the Bar Council of India (BCI) is considering a
plea filed by Supreme Court advocate Ashwini Upadhyay to ban lawmakers —
Members of Parliament and Members of the State Legislative Assemblies — who
practise as advocates, saying they are salaried public servants and cannot
ride two horses at the same time.
“The committee, after considering the representation of the petitioner,
has decided to issue notice to the MPs/MLAs and has invited their comments
with regard to the representation,” the BCI said.
“The Council has thought it just and proper to seek the comments of
those MPs, MLAs or MLCs who are in legal practice, before taking any final
decision in this matter,” the BCI said in a statement.
PSLV set for 31 satellite launch
The PSLV rocket, after a shocking falter four months ago, will return to
the launch pad at Sriharikota.
A successful flight of PSLV-C40 is expected to put behind the Indian
light lift rocket’s freak failure on August 31. During the forced hiatus,
the Indian Space Research Organisation diagnosed why the nose cone of the
previous C-39 rocket did not release the satellite; it took necessary
Now among the world’s favourite and reliable commercial launchers for
small satellites, the upcoming 42nd PSLV will carry a total of 31 satellites
including 28 paid riders.
The main payload, the 710-kg Cartosat-2F, is the seventh in the
Cartosat-2 series and is built to work for five years. Said to have a high,
sub-metre resolution, it is unofficially said to serve military surveillance
ISRO is putting up two of its own small satellites — a 100 kg micro
satellite and the 11-kg nano satellite INS-1C. There are also 28 smaller
The commercial satellites include three 100-kg class micro satellites
and 25 nanosats (1-10 kg) from Canada, Finland, France, Korea the U.K. and
The PSLV has so far launched 209 small and medium satellites for foreign
countries and earned revenue for the commercial arm, Antrix Corporation Ltd.
ISRO will be trying a two-orbit feat with the PSLV for the second time.
On Friday, just after 17 minutes from take-off, the main satellite will be
released first into a 505-km orbit, followed by 29 others.
Backward districts to be the target of govt.
At the Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told all Ministries
to report on the initiatives taken up by them for 115 backward districts and
also to come up with an action plan for these districts.
This is part of a concerted effort by the government to focus attention
on these districts.
NITI Aayog had appointed officials of the ranks of Additional Secretary
and Joint Secretary asprabhari or in-charge to coordinate the efforts of the
Centre and the States.The Prime Minister will also start his visits to these
districts from April 14.
Speaking at a conference organised by the NITI Aayog on the
transformation of these 115 most backward districts in the country, Mr. Modi
said that they should not be seen as just poor or backward but as sites of
Among the 115 districts, 35 are affected by Left-wing violence.The
districts were identified on the basis of indicators of education, health,
nutrition, basic infrastructure, rural household electrification, and access
to potable water and individual toilets.
Jharkhand tops the list, with 19 backward districts, followed by Bihar
with 13 districts; Chhattisgarh is at the third spot with 10 districts. NITI
Ayog is developing a real-time monitoring mechanism of key performance
indicators and will rank the districts on a continuous basis.
While selecting the districts, maximum weight was given to data of
landless households dependent on manual labour.
The other criteria were nutritional level of children below five years
of age and their drop-out rate from schools.
The government is also expecting electoral benefit from the plan because
these districts also have a high population of tribes and Dalits, a section
the BJP is hoping will stick with it in the Lok Sabha elections to be held
China will fund the construction of an Afghan counterterrorism base
China will fund the construction of an Afghan counterterrorism base in
Badakhshan province to block cross-border infiltration of ethnic Uyghur
Fergana News Agency (FNA) has quoted Gen. Dawlat Waziri of the Afghan
Defence Ministry as saying that China will provide financial support to
build the base, whose precise location inside Badakhshan, in northern
Afghanistan, is yet to the determined.
Gen. Waziri said the Chinese side would cover all material and technical
expenses for this base — weaponry, uniforms for soldiers, military equipment
and everything else necessary for its functioning.
The decision to build the facility was taken during last month’s visit
to China by Afghan Defence Minister Tariq Shah Bahrami.
Mr. Bahrami and his Chinese counterpart Gen. Chang Wanquan agreed that
their counterterrorism focus should not only be confined to Badakhshan, but
Afghanistan’s entire northern region.
Afghan analysts said the largest group of Uyghur militants already
resides in Badakhshan, from where they can rapidly shift to China. The
Afghan Defence Minister’s visit follows the first meeting of the foreign
ministers of China, Pakistan and Afghanistan last month.
::Business and Economy::
Govt liberalised and simplified the FDI regime in a host of sectors
The Union government liberalised and simplified the Foreign Direct
Investment (FDI) regime in a host of sectors, including Single Brand Retail
Trading (SBRT) and construction development.
The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, gave its
approval to a proposal permitting 100% FDI under the automatic route for
The Centre also eased ‘sourcing norms’ in SBRT by permitting companies
to set off their incremental sourcing of goods from India for global
operations in the initial five years — beginning April 1 of the year of the
opening of the firm’s first store — against the mandatory sourcing
requirement of 30% of purchases from India.
After the completion of the five-year period, SBRT entities would be
required to meet the 30% sourcing norms directly towards its India’s
operation, on an annual basis, the government said in an official statement.
Apple is learnt to have sought the waiver on the ground that it
manufactures ‘cutting-edge technology’ products for which it is not possible
to source as much from India due to the absence of or low capacity of the
requisite supply-chain items.
The relaxation in local sourcing norms would allow the SBRT entity
adequate time to set up their supply chain for local souring in India, Mr.
Wahi said, adding that it would also provide an impetus to the government’s
“Make In India” initiative.
On its impact on consumers, Mr. Wahi said the move would open up the
Indian retail markets, leading to greater number of brands entering the
Indian retail space and thus increasing competition.
In construction development, the Centre said that real estate broking
service did not amount to ‘real estate business’ and was, therefore,
eligible for 100% FDI under the automatic route.
Bhairav Dalal, partner, Real Estate Tax, PwC India, said that the
clarification on real estate broking services was a welcome move “given the
number of start-ups in this space offering innovative broking products.”
India’s growth rate in 2018 is projected to hit 7.3% and 7.5% in the next
India’s growth rate in 2018 is projected to hit 7.3% and 7.5% in the
next two years, according to the World Bank, which said the country has
“enormous growth potential” compared to other emerging economies with the
implementation of comprehensive reforms.
India is estimated to have grown at 6.7% in 2017 despite initial
setbacks from demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax (GST), according
to the 2018 Global Economics Prospect released by the World Bank here.
He said in comparison with China, which is slowing, the World Bank is
expecting India to gradually accelerate. “The growth numbers of the past
three years were very healthy,” said Kose, author of the report.
India’s economy is likely to grow 7.3% in 2018 and then accelerate to
7.5% in the next two years, the bank said.
China grew at 6.8% in 2017, 0.1% more than that of India, while in 2018,
its growth rate is projected at 6.4%. And in the next two years, the
country’s growth rate will drop marginally to 6.3 and 6.2%, respectively.
To materialise its potential, India needed to take steps to boost
investment prospects, Kose said.
India has a favourable demographic profile which is rarely seen in other
economies. “In that context, improving female labour force participation
rate is going to be important,” he said.
confusion surrounding the final deadline for filing the GSTR-1 form
A combination of last-minute filers, glitches on the Goods and Services
Tax Network portal, and confusion surrounding the final deadline for filing
the GSTR-1 form meant that people faced several hurdles in filing their
returns for the April to November period.
January 10 was the deadline for filing GSTR-1 forms for the July to
September quarter for taxpayers with a turnover up to Rs. 1.5 crore and for
the July to November period for taxpayers with a turnover above Rs. 1.5
Following the circulation of a fake notification on social media
claiming that the government had extended the deadline to January 15, the
government was forced to issue a clarification that the original deadline
The other problem seems to be the systemic issue of tax filers waiting
till the last date to file their returns, which overloads the portal. While
some said that this was a major problem, others said the portal downtime was
not a significant issue.
“There have been two broad problems with the GSTN portal,” Archit Gupta,
founder and CEO of Cleartax said. “The first is that people are having
trouble logging onto the portal, and the second is that the data, once
uploaded, is not reflecting on the site.”
“For most of the taxpayers, the clients are sharing their information at
the last moment, so consultants are finding it very difficult to file their
returns on the last date,” Mr. Singhania added.