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Arun Jaitley holds Press Conference to Mark One Year of Modi Government

During a press conference in Delhi commemorating Narendra Modi-led NDA government’s one year in office, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that his government’s achievements during this period is satisfactory. He went on to add that good governance must be blended with clever politics. Jaitley stressed upon Modi government’s success in delivering transparent and corruption-free governance along with passage of all bills except GST and Land Acquisition bills. He assured to tax corporate profits at competitive rates and implement new national sales tax in future. Jaitley put his faith on judicial procedure for resolving FII’s complaints on unresolved MAT issues. He weighed in favour of simplifying ITR forms. The Minister regarded inflation containment as important positive achievement of Modi government. When asked about Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi's remark on beef, Jaitley said that these kinds of comments will not affect his government’s policies.    

Jayalalitha Sworn in for the Fifth Time as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu

AIADMK supremo and re-elected legislative leader of the party J Jayalalithaa has been sworn in as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu by Governor K Rosaiah. This is the fifth time she was sworn in as CM. Reports say that she will hold other important portfolios such as home, district revenue officers​, general administration, public, police, and all India services. 28 ministers also took oath with Jayalalitha at the oath-taking ceremony organised in the Madras auditorium. O  Panneerselvam, confidante of Jayalaitha who was handed over the CM’s position during her eight months absence due to conviction in asset disproportionate case, is reported to have got charge of finance ministry, second most important portfolio. Dignitaries who were present during the grand function were Superstar Rajnikanth, Sasikala (close aide of Jayalalitha), Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan, ICC Chairman N Srinivasan, and others.  

Defence Minister Vouches for "Targeted Kill" of Terrorists in J&K as Cross-Border Ceasefire Violations drop 30 Per Cent

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said that the dual approach of Indian army heavily guarding the LoC with Pakistan coupled with intelligence-backed "targeted kills" against terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir has resulted in 30 per cent drop in infiltration bids and cross-border ceasefire violations.  While emphasizing on the fact that the situation along the border areas are “pretty much under control”, Parrikar said that targeted kill approach has led to minimum collateral damage and maximum neutralisation of identified terrorists. Defence Minister said in an event that it is immaterial to use soldiers for neutralizing terrorists when it can be done by using other terrorists, thereby hinting at covert operations.  Parrikar went on to say that monthly salaries in the range of Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 15,000 are paid to the terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir.

Coal and Power Minister woos Investors at U.S. India Business Council Investment Round-Table

Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Power, Coal and New & Renewable Energy, Piyush Goyal, chaired USIBC (US India Business Council) investment round-table conference in Washington DC. While addressing the business persons and dignitaries, Goyal said that Narendra Modi led government is not only striving to keep the country corruption free but also creating foundation for ease of doing business. While stressing on the importance given by his government on energy sector and the self imposed target of increasing renewable energy production by five times to 175 GW in coming seven years, he invited businesspersons to participate in the $250 billion power sector opportunity in India. In the conference, he had a telephonic conversation with Ambassador Michael Froman (US Trade Representative) and also met Penny Pritzker (US Commerce Secretary) and Dr Ernest Moniz (US Energy Secretary).

PM headed Cabinet Committee Liberalise FDI Norms for NRIs, OCIs, and PIOs

A Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has given nod to liberalization of FDI norms for Overseas Citizens of India (OCIs), NRIs, and PIOs. Reports say that this decision has been taken in order to increase flow of capital in India. As per statement of an official spokesperson, approved amendments to FDI policy will bring OCIs and PIOs at same level as NRIs when it comes to education and economy. The spokesperson also said that these amendments are made with the expectation that they will create inflow of greater extent of remittances and investment (construction development, railways, defence, insurance, and medical devices) from OCIs, NRIs, and PIOs.

RBI Relaxes Rules to Help Indian Companies working Offshore to Raise Funds in Rupees

The Reserve Bank of India has made it easier for Indian companies, with overseas operations, to raise funds from abroad in rupees denomination and not in any other currency by relaxing the related rules. Indian corporate entities having offshore operations had to earlier take loans in US Dollar denomination and then convert them to Indian currencies. However, this arrangement included exposure to foreign currency risks. Now, lender abroad will swap currency with banks abroad, which will provide fund in rupees through tapping of a bank present in India and extend money in Indian currency to the borrowing company. A senior foreign banker said that the foreign exchange risk involved in the earlier system will now to borne by the offshore lender.  

Xiaomi Mi 4i to Go on Sale without Registration Requirement

The Chinese smartphone behemoth Xiaomi has announced that their latest flagship sensation Mi 4i will be available to the customers on Flipkart without having the requirement of registration from 25 May to 26 May. Most importantly, Xiaomi Mi4i will be available to the customers at a price that is Rs. 2000 less than the official price of Rs 12,999. Currently, Xiaomi is offering open sales for Redmi 2 and Redmi Note 4G handsets only. XiaomiMi4i will be their third phone to be sold without registration requirement. This new handset comes with five inch HD display, 441ppi pixel density, 64-bit 2nd Gen Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor, 2GB RAM, 16GB internal memory, 13MP rear camera, Android Lollipop-based MIUI 6, dual micro-SIM, multiple connectivity options (Wi-Fi Direct, GPS/GLONASS, 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.1, & USB), 3120mAh battery, and other features.

Indian improves Position from 10th to 6th in Publishing Total Number of Scientific Research Papers

Ashutosh Sharma, Department of Science and Technology Secretary, said that India’s rank (regarding publication of total number of scientific research papers in various journals) has improved from 10th to 6th position, a jump of four spots. Sharma made this statement while addressing an audience at a function organised by Research Council UK. While acknowledging the efforts made by Indian scientists in the recent past, Sharma also acknowledged the fact that India still lags behind China by miles. Available data shows that with respect to 1 million people there are just 160 scientists in India, which is abnormally low when compared to China’s 1000 scientists per million population. He went on to say that India has to improve quality and in this quest international collaborations will play an important role.     

President Pranab Mukherjee Calls Scholars Agents of Change

While bidding adieu to the nineteen NIT scholars, who stayed at Rashtrapati Bhavan from 16 May to 22 May as per 'In Residence' programme, President Pranab Mukherjee referred to technology as power and went on to say that scholars and researchers are the agents of change. While addressing scholars, the President said that NIT students are the assets of India and that’s why he has great expectations from them. However, he also reminded them that the scholars should also know, appreciate, and understand their responsibilities. 

Sports Ministry Requests IPC to Allow Para-Athletes Compete under National Flag despite Ban on National Body

After IPC (International Paralympic Committee) gave permission in Sports Data Management System to Indian para-athletes for participating in the competitions under IPC flag, Sports Ministry has requested IPC to allow the players participate under their own national flag. The Ministry told media that the letter sent from them to IPC CEO Xavier Gonzalez thanked him for his support provided to the para-sports as well as para-athletes despite the fact that the national body of the games in India is banned. The letter also mentions that the para-athletes will be demotivated if they are not allowed to participate in the upcoming games without their national flag. The letter went on to say that in such a case, it will be a huge setback for the Union Government in its quest to promote para-sports in India.   

British Sports Business Magazine names Virat Kohli as 6th Most Marketable Athlete of the World

India’s test cricket captain Virat Kohli has been named by SportsPro, a renowned British sports business magazine, among the top 10 most marketable sportspersons in the world. His rank is 6th in the list. This places 26-year old Virat in the same league as other world-renowned athletes including sprinter Usain Bolt and football sensations Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Neymar. Another Indian who made it to the top 50 most marketable person list is Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal. She secured 44th rank.  The only cricketer who made it to this list is Australia’s Steven Smith, whose rank is 45th, one behind Saina. Factors on which the athletes’ marketability are judged include charisma, home market, age, crossover appeal, and willingness to be marketed.

BCCI Announces Test and ODI Squads for Bangladesh Tour

BCCI has announced squads for one test match and three one-dayers to be played in Bangladesh from 10 June to 14 June and 18 June to 24 June respectively. Keeping in mind the good performance of Bangladesh cricket team during the World Cup, India has chosen strong teams for both ODIs and test matches. While the ODI team will be led by skipper MS Dhoni, the Test squad will be led by Virat Kohli. Announcement of the teams was done by selector Sandeep Patil and Anurag Thakur, the newly elected BCCI secretary. One of the highlights of the test squad is the comeback of 34-year old ‘turbanator’ Harbhajan Singh, one of the most reliable off spinners who last played test series back in March 2013 against Australia. Indian pacer Mohammad Shami missed out due to knee injury.    

PM chaired Panel Meeting fails to Appoint CVC and CIC; Final Decision on Meeting in June

The selection committees, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, met today at PM’s residence to appoint the heads of the Chief Vigilance Commission and Chief Information Commission, the key positions that are currently lying vacant for last several months. The decision to fill up the important posts comes after INC President Sonia Gandhi accused Modi government of keeping the CIC post vacant to weaken RTI Act and thereby compromise on containing corruption. The selection committee panel includes Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, MoS PMO Jitendra Singh, and others. Reports say that 12 people have been shortlisted from 530 applications. However, the selection committees failed to select chiefs for the important positions. Sources say that the final decision will be taken in a meeting to be held in first week of June.    

Home Ministry backs Lt Governor of Delhi on Posting and Transfer of Officers

The Home Ministry has issued a gazette notification that favours Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung’s moves done in the last few days and said that the constitutional post has primacy in both transferring and posting officers. While specifying jurisdiction of Delhi L-G on multiple areas including police, public order, services, and land, the notifications also detailed Jung’s powers as well as roles. Central government also said that it is not mandatory for L-G to consult input of CM while appointing key bureaucrats. Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal hit back at centre and accused them of betraying people of Delhi by favouring Jung. Kejriwal also accused Union Government of trying to control Delhi Assembly by proxy through Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung, in spite of the fact that they have just three BJP MLAs.      

Incomplete Passport Application restricts Foreign Ministry from Issuing Passport to Separatist Leader Syed Ali Geelani

The External Affairs Ministry has said that in the current submitted form the passport application of the separatist leader cannot be processed. Vikas Swarup (spokesperson of Ministry of External Affairs) told media that the passport application of Syed Ali Geelani was incomplete. The separatist leader submitted the passport application without photographs, biometric details, and fees. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, meanwhile, said that Geelani will be issued passport by the Indian Government only when he writes “Indian” in the passport application’s nationality column. Ministry of Home Affairs has made it clear that they have no problem in issuing passport to Hurriyat hardliner Syed Ali Geelani and they will judge the case on merit. However, they also pointed out that the Hurriyat leader has to complete all the formalities related to passport application, just like any other citizen of the country.