Govt.claims PMO merely monitored Rafaledeal with zero interference
The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) was “monitoring” the progress of the
deal to buy 36 Rafale jets but this could not be taken as “parallel
negotiations” with the French side, the government told the Supreme Court on
The submission follows the directive on Tuesday last that the government
respond to the Rafale deal case review petitions by Saturday. The Centre had
sought a whole month to respond.
The government said the newspaper reports were “selective” reports,
based on “some incomplete internal file notings, procured unauthorisedly and
illegally”, did not reflect the final decision of the competent authority.
They could not form the basis for a review petition.
The two affidavits filed by the MoD said the action of the review
petitioners, who include former Union Ministers YashwantSinha and
ArunShourie and senior lawyer PrashantBhushan, was “tantamount to
questioning the sovereign decision concerning national security and defence”.
The government dismissed allegations such as the “Reliance Group paid
€1.48 million to former French President Francois Hollande’s partner’s
venture.” It said these charges were “matters of individual perceptions” of
It said DPP-2013 was followed and approval of the Defence Acquisition
Council was taken for the procurement of the Rafale aircraft. The Indian
Negotiating Team conducted comprehensive negotiations with the French side
for about a year, holding 48 internal and 26 external meetings with the
French side. The approval of the CCS was taken before signing the IGA.
Centre reviews rescue operations in FANI hit areas
The Union Health Ministry on Saturday decided to postpone the NEET
examination in Odisha, which was scheduled for May 5, following a request
from the State government in view of the ongoing rescue and relief
operations in the aftermath of Cyclone Fani.
The decision was conveyed to the National Crisis Management Committee
that reviewed the ongoing operations in the cyclone hit areas of Odisha,
West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh.
Odisha officials said there was extensive damage to the
telecommunications and power infrastructure in Puri, Bhubaneswar and other
areas due to the cyclone. However, due to advance precautionary measures
taken and large-scale evacuation, the loss of human lives was minimal.
West Bengal reported mild impact of the cyclone, while Andhra Pradesh
recorded heavy rainfall and some damage to crops and roads in the Srikakulam
Meanwhile Indian Navy has launched a three-pronged rescue and
rehabilitation effort centred around the worst affected Puri and its suburbs
in coordination with the state government.
In Bangladesh, at least 14 people were killed and 63 others injured as
cyclonic storm 'Fani' hit the country yesterday. Disaster Management and
Relief State Minister EnamurRahman said dozens of villages on the Bangladesh
coast have submerged.
India recommends diversion of idle funds in advanced economies towards Asia
India on Saturday suggested that funds from the idle savings pools of
advanced economies could be funnelled to developing countries in Asia, where
consumption is rising.
Such funds lie in pensions and insurance pools and in sovereign wealth
funds and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) could play a role in channelising
the money to emerging markets, said Subash Chandra Garg, Alternate Governor,
Addressing the business session of the 52nd Annual Meeting of the ADB,
Mr.Garg, India’s Economic Affairs Secretary, said: “Advanced economies are
seeing stagnant consumption and they have much larger savings pools… than
their investment requirement. If we can, with ADB assisting, ensure flow of
funds from advanced economies to the emerging market and developing
economies, we would succeed in not only keeping global growth sustained high
but also make significant dent on poverty and infrastructure services debt.”
Pointing out that private investment in infrastructure and human capital
improvement will not flow unless projects are derisked with guarantees and
structured support.He argued that multilateral development banks should be
fully engaged and enhance their direct support. The ADB can help develop
private sector initiatives by investing more through equity and
infrastructure trusts, he said.
In what can be construed as a critique of the ADB over its strict
environmental and social safeguards in assessing projects, Mr.Garg cautioned
that the bank should ensure that its policy prescriptions “are rooted in
ground realities and do not deter the developmental aspirations of the
ICRA downgrades major financial market players
Rating agency ICRA has downgraded the long-term rating of private sector
lender Yes Bank with negative outlook after the lender reported significant
increase in below investment grade advances, which could impact the bank’s
profitability in the coming quarters.
Yes Bank reported its first-ever quarterly loss of Rs. 1,506 crore
during the January-March period. ICRA said the increase in below investment
grade advances was expected to translate into a moderation in the earnings
profile in the near term.
ICRA has also downgraded the short term-rating for the Commercial Paper
programme of Reliance Home Finance Limited to ‘D’, citing delay in servicing
debt by the company. “The rating revision takes into account delays in debt
servicing on some of its bank lines. The company, however, has confirmed,
that there have been no delays in repayments in the commercial paper
programme till date,” ICRA said.
Another group company Reliance Commercial Finance’s short term ratings
were downgraded to ‘D’ for the same reason as RHF. Both commercial papers
and bank lines of RCF were downgraded to ‘D’ by ICRA.
ICRA has downgraded some of Canara Bank’s debt instruments taking into
account the lender’s earning profile, asset quality and capital
In a filing with the BSE, the bank said ratings on its additional Tier-I
bonds worth Rs. 1,500 crore had been downgraded to ‘AA-’, with a stable
outlook, from ‘AA’ with negative outlook.
North Korea has fired several short range projectiles into the Sea of
Japan. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un oversaw the drill yesterday. State
media confirmed that North Korean leader gave the order of firing to
increase the combat ability of the country.
It said the purpose of the drill was to test the operating ability and
accuracy of multiple rocket launchers and tactical guided weapons by the
It could be Pyongang's first short range missile launch for more than a
year as it seeks to up pressure on Washington with nuclear talks deadlocked.
Reacting to the development US President Donald Trump expressed
confidence that the North Korean leader will not break his promise. In a
tweet, Mr Trump said, he believes that Kim Jong-un fully realises the great
economic potential of North Korea and will do nothing to jeopardise it.
Taliban claims gaps in U.S negotiation talks narrowing
The Taliban on Saturday said the gap is narrowing in talks with U.S.’s
special peace envoy over a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from
Afghanistan. The two sides are continuing to meet in Qatar.
In a voice message to , the Taliban spokesman in Doha, SohailShaheen,
said both sides have offered new proposals for drawing down U.S. and NATO
forces. This would be a significant initial step toward a deal to end nearly
18 years of war and America’s longest military engagement.
“There are proposals to lower the gap between the two sides, but (it)
still needs negotiation to reach a final agreement,” he said in an English
Other Taliban officials familiar with the negotiations had earlier said
that the U.S. was seeking a year and a half to withdraw its estimated 14,000
troops from Afghanistan, while the Taliban wanted it done in six months.
Talks between the U.S. and Taliban, which began last year with the
appointment of Washington’s peace envoy, ZalmayKhalilzad, have focused on a
timetable for a U.S. withdrawal as well as Taliban guarantees that
Afghanistan will not be used as a staging arena for global terrorist
Taliban officials said the group has concerns about a ceasefire, Taliban
commanders in the field are unlikely to accept a ceasefire while foreign
troops are still in Afghanistan, and once a cease-fire is declared, it would
be difficult to re-start the fighting if the U.S. reneges on its deal.
::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::
Researchers successfully bioprints 3D human skin models
Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi have
successfully 3D bioprinted human skin models that have certain anatomically
relevant structural, mechanical and biochemical features similar to native
human skin. The bioprinted skin produced in the lab by the team is already
being used by ITC Ltd for experiments.
The bioprinted skin model will have wide applications in testing
cosmetics. It can also reduce and probably even replace testing on
animals.It can also be used for testing dermatology drugs on human skin and
at a future date even help in testing drugs for personalised medicine.
The undulatory junction was designed using 3D CAD and 10 layers of
dermis were constructed through bioprinting followed by eight layers of
The bioprinted skin also retained the original dimension without any
shrinkage for up to three weeks. Traditionally, collagen used for developing
skin constructs start shrinking within a few weeks thus affecting the
morphology. Testing on such skin constructs therefore cannot be carried out
beyond one week.
Prof. Ghosh’s team has already developed a 3D construct for hair
follicle structure in collaboration with ITC Ltd.
ICC release T20 rankings with India in 5th spot
The world body governing cricket, ICC on Friday unveiled an expanded
men's Twenty20 International team rankings with 80 teams.
India with 260 points have dropped three places to fifth in the latest
list. The ICC T20 World Cup champions of 2009, Pakistan have consolidated
their top position with 286 points. The next three teams are South Africa
(262), England (261) and Australia (261).
The launch of expanded ICC T20 team rankings coincides with the annual
rankings in which series results from 2015-16 are removed and outcomes from
2016-17 and 2017-18 are weighted at 50 per cent.