Prime Minister Narendra Modi braved both the
environmental controversy and unexpected rains to attend the World Culture
Festival, organised by the Art of Living (AoL) Foundation, led by Sri Sri
Mr. Modi not only watched the cultural programme seated
beside Ravi Shankar, but, in a speech, praised the spiritual guru for taking
Indian culture to the world.
In an apparent reference to the controversy surrounding
the event, taking place on the Yamuna floodplains and its impact on the
environment, he said, “If we keep criticising everything we have and do not
take pride in our cultural legacy, why should the world look at us?”
Earlier in the day, the National Green Tribunal (NGT)
accepted the AoL Foundation’s argument that it was a charitable organisation
which could not at short notice raise Rs. 5 crore imposed by the NGT.
The Tribunal, in an interim direction, ordered the
Foundation to pay Rs. 25 lakh before the commencement of the programme and
granted three weeks' time to pay the remaining Rs. 4.75 crore.
With the CAG report tabled in Parliament on Friday
indicating a loss of Rs. 12,489 crore to the exchequer due to understatement
of revenues by six telecom operators, including Airtel, Idea and Vodafone,
the government has ordered a special audit of telecom companies for three
Commenting on the findings, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar
Prasad said special audit of the operators’ books would be done for three
years from 2009, to check for under-reporting of revenues.
Even though in terms of well-established parliamentary
procedure, the report will go to the Public Accounts Committee.
In conclusion, the audit found that even after 16 years
of the introduction of the revenue share regime, the correctness and
completeness of revenue flowing into the consolidated Fund of India could
not be assured by DoT.
The CAG report said the financial impact on LF and SUC
due to understatement of gross revenue stood at Rs. 1,507.25 crore for
Reliance Communications, Rs. 1,357.68 crore for Tata Teleservices, Rs.
1,066.95 crore for Airtel, Rs. 749.85 crore for Vodafone, Rs. 423.26 crore
for Idea and Rs. 107.61 crore for Aircel.
On the other hand, the two industry bodies representing
telecom operators in a joint statement said that matters relating to
interpretation of ‘Gross Revenue/Adjusted Gross Revenue’ of telecom
companies for the purpose of calculation of licence fees are under
litigation in various judicial forums including the TDSAT, High Courts and
the Supreme Court.
The telecom operators had earlier opposed auditing of
their books by the CAG. However, a Supreme Court ruling in favour of the
auditor in 2014 forced the companies to share the information.
The report observed non-compliance with the licence
conditions by netting off of discounts/waivers granted to post-paid
subscribers and under-reporting of revenue from infrastructure sharing with
other telecom operators, among others.
The Bombay High Court sought responses from actor Aamir
Khan and Star TV to a public interest litigation plea by an activist that
objects to the use of the phrase Satyameva Jayate , the name of their
popular TV programme, as it is a part of the emblem of India.
Responding to the petition, the Ministry of Home Affairs
(MHA) in its affidavit said the use of the phrase ‘Satyameva Jayate’ was not
in violation of the State Emblem of India (Prohibition and Improper Use) Act
and State Emblem of India (Regulation of Use) Rules.
The Act and Rules prohibit improper use of the State
Emblem of India as a whole. There is no provision which prohibits the use of
its part like Satyameva Jayate , the lion, the bull, the horse and so on.
Hence the use of the words ‘Satyameva Jayate’ in a TV
programme does not violate any provision of the Act and Rules,” the
In his petition, activist Manoranjan Roy said Satyameva
Jayate is a part of the Emblem of India, and their use for the name of a TV
programme violates laws governing its use.
India's quest for permanent seat in UNSC face challenge
India’s quest for permanent membership of the United
Nations Security Council (UNSC), faced a new challenge with Mexico coming
out in opposition to India’s campaign.
“We don’t support India’s campaign for permanent seat at
the UNSC. We do not think adding more permanent members in the Security
Council is the solution. More veto power-wielding permanent members will
mean more paralysis of the U.N,” Foreign Minister of Mexico said.
Mexican foreign minsiter indicated that India has taken a
maximalist position by demanding a permanent membership at the UNSC with
veto powers as the permanent members of the United Nations are yet to give
up their control over the United Nations.
Interestingly, the Mexican opposition to India’s quest at
the UNSC came two days after the United Nations held the “Informal Plenary
meeting of the Inter-governmental Negotiations on equitable representation”
with India strongly reiterating its demand for reform of the UNSC.
In the Plenary held on Wednesday, India’s Permanent
Representative, Syed Akbaruddin tried to convince those countries who oppose
new members with veto power in the UNSC arguing that the issue of the veto
can be reviewed later whereas the democratisation of the U.N. cannot wait
Industrial output shrank for the third straight month,
contracting by 1.5 per cent in January 2016.
The data prompted industry groups to make fresh calls for
the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to cut interest rates at its monetary policy
review slated for April 5.
The decline compared with the 2.8 per cent growth in
industrial output in January 2015.
According to the data released by the Central Statistical
Organisation (CSO) on Friday, the year-on-year growth was (-)1.5 per cent in
The drop in output was due to various factors, including
a huge contraction in the capital goods sector.
Manufacturing sector output contracted by (-) 2.8 per
cent, capital goods shrunk by (-)20.4 per cent and consumer non-durables
fell by (-) 3.1 per cent.
Ten out of 22 industry groups in the manufacturing sector
registered negative growth. Electrical machinery and apparatus recorded the
maximum negative growth of (-)50.3 per cent.
The 1.5 per cent fall in industrial output this January
was against 2.8 per cent growth in January 2015 and (-)1.2 per cent in
December 2015 (revised from -1.3 per cent earlier).
The Budget has tried to address tax related issues for
manufacturing and we are hopeful that they would yield results.
But we would like to see further rate reduction in the
forthcoming monetary policy (of the RBI) that can stimulate demand and
investments in the economy to support manufacturing growth.
With the Budget sticking to the fiscal consolidation
roadmap by targeting to limit the fiscal deficit at 3.5 per cent of GDP in
2016-17, the government had claimed that it had done its job well by
maintaining fiscal discipline to ensure macro-economic stability.
This in turn has provided some space for monetary policy
to be loosened up.
Fiscal deficit for the current fiscal is projected at 3.9
per cent. Experts are expecting a minimum 25 basis points repo rate cut by
the RBI, most probably earlier than April, to perk up growth.
Global financial market volatility, a potential further
deterioration in exports and strain in bank and corporate balance sheets
could weigh on India's growth prospects, the IMF had said.
In January 2016, growth in mining output was 1.2 per cent
while that of electricity was 6.6 per cent, basic goods (1.8 per cent),
intermediate goods (2.7 per cent) and consumer durables (5.8 per cent).
The factors being blamed for the fall in industrial
output include the Chennai floods and poor revival of investment.
Experts are expecting a minimum 25 basis points repo rate
cut by the RBI, most probably earlier than April