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Majority Members in Joint Parliamentary Committee on Land Acquisition Bill seek its Extension

Most members of the joint parliamentary committee, formed to look into the contentious legislations of Land Acquisition Bill, have voiced for extending tenure of the panel. Sources say that the Chairman of the joint parliamentary committee S S Ahluwalia has suggested Sumitra Mahajan, Speaker of the Parliament, to extend tenure of the concerned panel as they have not received response of all state governments on the bill. Reports say that the Congress members who are there in the panel including Jairam Ramesh and Digvijay Singh have reportedly sought 3-weeks extension. Analysts believe that it will not be possible for Narendra Modi government to pass Land Acquisition bill by monsoon session, which starts on 21 July, if panel tenure is extended. Reports say joint parliamentary committee was set up by the government for getting requisite help in passing the bill through joint house sitting, if the need arises.   

India Successfully Blocks China's Bid to Save Pakistan from Terror Scrutiny by FATF

In a recent Financial Action Task Force (FATF) meeting in Brisbane, China tried to save Pakistan, non-FATF member, from being scrutinised by Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG), an associate of FATF. However, due to the timely intervention of India, the attempt was foiled and now APG will closely monitor Pakistan's enforcement of UN financial sanctions against terrorism. Reports say that China wanted to shield Pakistan from terror financing scrutiny but with the backing of USA and Australia, India was capable of thwarting China’s attempt. Sources say that both India and USA pointed out that Pakistan lacks conviction to implement anti-terror financial sanctions through attachment of terrorists’ (including Dawood Ibrahim, Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, Hafiz Saeed, and many more) properties and freezing their bank accounts. However, China was of the opinion that Pakistan is reporting on the actions taken by APG and therefore is doing enough.

Jayalalitha wins Bypoll from RK Nagar Constituency by Huge Margin

Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister J Jayalalitha has won a crucial bypoll that seals her provisional Chief Minister’s position. Jayalalitha won the poll from Radhakrishnan Nagar constituency by a margin of more than 1,51,252 votes from her closest contender from CPI – Mahendran. While the AIADMK chief received 1,60,921 votes, Mahendran received just 9,669 votes. She thanked people of the state as well as AIADMK workers after the win and called it a precursor to assembly polls. The results became crystal clear right from round one of counting as Jayalalitha took a massive lead by securing 9,546 votes in comparison to 930 votes received by CPI's Mahendran. This bypoll was boycotted by major political parties including BJP, INC, DMK, PMK, and DMDK. R K Nagar seat was vacated by sitting AIADMK MLA P Vetrivel in May 2014 for Jayalalitha’s reelection after her discharge from disproportionate asset case.

NITI Aayog Vice Chairman expects Indian Economy to Surpass $3 trillion mark within 5 Years

Arvind Panagariya, Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog, has said in an interview that he expects Indian economy to hit $3 trillion mark in the coming five years. He went on to say that he will be “greatly disappointed” if GDP growth of the economy doesn’t hit the 8 per cent mark in 2015-16. Available data says that during 2014-15, Indian economy grew at the rate of 7.3 per cent and it is currently little over $2 trillion, which makes India 3rd largest economy in the Asian continent. Arvind Panagariya stressed on export led growth as he said that India accounts for less than 2 per cent export share in total global economy and hopes to reach 12 per cent global export share in coming years. Panagariya said rising wages in China has made many companies seek other low wage destinations and India is perfectly suited for that.

IMF Paper says Indian Banks Slow in Passing on benefits to Consumers after Key Rate Change by RBI

A new research paper by International Monetary Fund (IMF) has pointed out that Indian Banks are significantly slow in passing on benefits of major policy rate change by the Reserve Bank of India to the consumers. The paper presented by IMF economist Sonali Das, “Monetary Policy in India: Transmission to Bank Interest Rates” said that when it comes to passing on the key rate changes of apex bank, Indian banks are “albeit slow” to pass on the same to bank interest rates (whether lending or deposit). She also acknowledged that speed of adjusting deposit and lending rates to policy rate changes has improved in the recent years. Sonali pointed out that Indian banks pass on the policy rate changes more quickly in case of deposit rates than lending rates. The concerned paper concluded on the basis of data from March-end 2002 to October-end 2014.

Food Business of ITC crosses US$1 Billion Revenue Mark

ITC has entered the league of top five food companies of India as the company’s revenue during 2014-15 fiscal was Rs. 6,411 crore, which surpasses US$1 Billion revenue level when equated at current exchange level. The other companies on top five slots are Mondelez India, Britannia, Nestle, and Parle. Reports say that ITC posted a 12 per cent growth in foods segment and that’s significant because it reached this feat when most of the other food companies were struggling to maintain single digit growth figure. The latest Nielsen figure shows that the top three slots in the food business are held by Parle, Nestle and Britannia.  Interestingly, ITC entered food business in India in 2005 and is among the youngest companies in the segment. Some of the top brands of ITC are Aashirvaad, Pasta Treat, Yippee, Bingo, Sunfeast, Mint-O, Candyman, and others.  

Amazon to Establish Multiple Data Centres in India by 2016

Head of Amazon Web Services (AWS), Andy Jassy, has said that Amazon is all set to establish multiple data centres in the coming year in India. The total investment will be worth many millions of dollars. He also said that the investment will increase to billion dollars with growth in region. Jassy went on to refer the upcoming investment in data centres as highly significant as Amazon has “grown very, very quickly in India”. Stressing on increasing ambit of investment in India, AWS’s head said in an interview that Amazon has “tens of thousands of active customers in India” and it includes startups, medium size businesses, and small businesses. Some of the major customers of AWS include Macmillan India, Future Group, Tata Motors, Manipal Global Education, and many more. Andy Jassy’s announcement comes within months of Microsoft’s announcement of commercializing three data centres in India by 2015-end.  

Xiaomi India Slashes Redmi Note 4G Price by Rs. 2,000

Xiaomi India today announced a Rs. 2,000 price cut of Redmi Note 4G smartphone. The device’s price has been slashed from launch price of Rs. 9,999 to Rs. 7,999. Xiaomi Redmi Note 4G will be available in multiple online retail shops such as the official site of Xiaomi Mi.com, Snapdeal, Amazon, and Flipkart at slashed price. It will also be available at Airtel retail stores and The Mobile Store. Analysts believe that today’s attempt at price cut is to make the smartphone more competitive among affordable smartphones. Xiaomi Redmi Note 4G will now be pitted against Yu Yuphoria of Micromax (Rs. 6,999), Moto E (Gen 2) 4G of Motorola (Rs. 7,999), A6000 Plus of Lenovo (Rs. 7,499). Xiaomi has also brought down Redmi Note 4G’s price by Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 14,999 to make it more attractive for mid-range customers.

Delhi Government announces Free Wi-Fi in Delhi Colleges and 300 Villages by End of Year

Reports say that AAP-led Delhi Government has allocated Rs. 50 crore for providing free Wi-Fi facility to around three hundred villages as well as all colleges under Delhi University in the first phase, which ends by 2015-16. Deputy CM Manish Sisodia told media that he expects the first phase to be completed well before schedule. He added that the government portals can be accessed by public free of cost and all the time. Limited access will be given in case of certain web content. However, Sisodia was also quick to add that for browsing entertainment and personal content, they are contemplating the idea of limiting the access. Delhi government’s IT department is in the process of setting up several hotspots. Officials of the department say that the Delhi government wants to set up around 50,000 to 80,000 hotspots across Delhi by end of the project.  

BCCI Announces Team India for Zimbabwe Tour; Dhoni-Kohli Rested

BCCI announced the Indian cricket squad for Zimbabwe tour yesterday after a meeting of the selection committee. The tour will be led by Ajinkya Rahane as the selection committee has decided to rest ODI captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Test skipper Virat Kohli, and Ravichandran Ashwin. Other members of Team India to tour Zimbabwe include Manoj Tiwary, Ambati Rayudu, M Vijay, Harbhajan Singh, Manish Pandey, Robin Uthappa, Kedar Jadhav, Sandeep Sharma, Mohit Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Stuart Binny, Dhawal Kulkarni, Karn Sharma, and Axar Patel. While making the announcement Chief selector Sandeep Patil said that there is no rift in the team and this is the time to move ahead of the Bangladesh tour, where India’s performance was not satisfying. Team director Ravi Shastri will not accompany Team India to Zimbabwe. However, R Sridhar, Bharat Arun, and Sanjay Bangar will accompany the team.

Ashwini Ponnappa-Jwala Gutta Pair wins Canada Open Women's Doubles Title

The ace Indian shuttler duo Ashwini Ponnappa and Jwala Gutta won the Canada Open 2015 convincingly by defeating Eefge Muskens-Selena Piek pair from Netherlands in straight sets 21-19, 21-16. The first game started on a tensed mode as the pair from Netherlands kept on the fight till the end but lost the game as Ponnappa-Gutta pair were successful in keeping their nerves. In the second game the Indian shuttlers put up an early lead of 5-0 and increased it further to 15-6. However, Eefge Muskens-Selena Piek duo bounced back well and won 9 consecutive points to tie the game at 15-15. This is when the Indian duo got hold of the match and conceded just one point to win the game 21-16. Ashwini Ponnappa told media that this win is a great boost for them, especially before the world championship.

ICC Acknowledges Receiving Lalit Modi's mail on International Players who received Rs 60 crore Gifts

ICC (International Cricket Council) has confirmed that David Richardson, chief of ICC, received a letter back in June 2013 from ex-IPL chief Lalit Modi where the latter claimed that three international cricketers (among which two are Indians) received lavish gifts, amounting to Rs. 60 crore from a Mumbai-based builder. The response comes just days after Lalit Modi claimed through a Twitter post that Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, and Dwayne Bravo are in close contact with HDIL’s Baba Diwan, a real estate business tycoon. He went on say that his reliable sources have informed him that Diwan paid these three international cricketers Rs 20 crore each, either in terms of cash or kind (i.e. flats). ICC spokesperson told media that the confidential mail sent by LaMo in June 2013 has been forwarded to ACSU and they in turn handled it as per standard operating procedures.

Special Investigating Team submits Report of Vyapam Scam to MP High Court

Madhya Pradesh’s high profile Vyapam scam is getting murkier and mysterious as another suspect named Amit Sagar’s (veterinary student in Mhow) death in mysterious circumstances surfaced. Reports say that his dead body was found in a pond located in MP’s Sheopur district, back in February 2015. Accused mastermind of PMT paper leak case, Indrajeet Bhushan, named the veterinary student but during investigation police found that Amit was already dead. SIT’s submitted reports say that 44 accused in the concerned scam have been found dead, among which death of 23 accused were “unnatural”. However, Babu Lal Gaur, Home Minister of Madhya Pradesh, refused handing over the case to CBI, claiming that the deaths have no connection with the case of Vyapam scam. Congress leaders earlier met PM Modi seeking centre’s intervention as they claimed presence of “solid evidence” indicating involvement of CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

Himachal Pradesh's Information Commission urges Revelation of Priyanka Gandhi's Land Deals in Shimla

Himachal Pradesh’s Information Commission has ruled that details have to be furnished in 10 days time how Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi’s daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra made purchases of two pieces of land (in 2007 and 2012). Reports say that a RTI activist named Debashish Bhattacharya sought information on the real estate purchases made by Vadra in Himachal Pradesh, where Congress is in power. The activist told media that if VVIPs like Vadras keep buying large tract of lands then there will be no land left in a small state like HP. It is learnt that Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, earlier this year, had written to Himachal Pradesh government asking not to reveal details of the real estate purchase because of security concerns. State Information Commission has said that all the information related to buying of two pieces of land and price will be revealed to the RTI applicant.    

Defence Ministry Raised Rs. 500 Crore J&K Flood Assistance Bill

Reports say that a bill of Rs. 500 crore had been raised by defence ministry for providing assistance to Jammu and Kashmir government for carrying out rescue and relief operations last year when the valley was battered by the devastating floods. However, Union government has dismissed the reports claiming that defence ministry at all raised any such bill for carrying out rescue and relief operations. Anil Goswami, the then Union Home Secretary had claimed back in October 2014 that he had personally checked with Ministry of Defence and there is no truth in the reports of raising Rs. 500 crore bill. However, in a letter (dated 6 February) sent by Union Home Ministry, informed J&K Government that Rs. 500 crore has been adjusted from Rs. 1602.56 crore assistance given by the central government from National Disaster Relief Fund, thereby dismissing Anil Goswami’s claim.