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Lok Sabha Likely to Pass The National Waterways Bill 2015 and GST Bill Today

Nitin Gadkari, Union Transport Minister, introduced The National Waterways Bill 2015 in the lower house of the parliament today. The bill proposes converting one hundred and one rivers in India into waterways for promoting more affordable ways of transportation in comparison to railways and road transport. Available data says that there are 14,500 kms of inland waterways (including rivers, backwaters, creeks, canals, lakes, and rivers) across India. Gadkari in an event earlier said that per kilometer cost through water transport is just 50 paise in comparison to Rs. 1.5/km in road transports and Re. 1/km in railways. It is learnt that GST Bill is likely to be tabled and passed in the Lok Sabha later today.  

BJP Top Brass discusses on Ramifications of Excluding Assam from Land Boundary Bill

A meeting was held at BJP National President Amit Shah’s residence yesterday to discuss matters related to Assam. Sources say that during the discussion, the contentious Land Boundary Agreement issue with Bangladesh was also discussed. Other than Amit Shah and leaders of Assam, the meeting was attended by heavyweights of the party including Rajnath Singh (Home Minister), M Venkaiah Naidu (Parliamentary Affairs Minister), Sushma Swaraj (External Affairs Minister), and RSS joint general secretary Krishna Gopal. Ramifications of delinking Assam from the proposed land boundary Bill, moved in the parliament this week, was criticised by the opposition as they want inclusion of Assam too in the bill along with Meghalaya, Tripura, and West Bengal.

John Kerry calls External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted that US Secretary of State John Kerry called External Affairs Minister of India Sushma Swaraj last night and discussed about the overall regional situation, emphasising on the relief operations in earthquake hit Nepal. Last week, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs of US, Wendy Sherman, had a discussion with India’s Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar on Indo-US partnership and the progress of the decisions undertaken during Obama-Modi summit back in January. USA and India are all set to hold strategic dialogue in the ongoing year. While talking to the media yesterday, Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said that the National Disaster Response Force, which was deployed in Nepal on 25 April,  had accomplished its task.

Jaitley bats for Rural Infrastructure that will Help India Witness 9-10 Per Cent Growth Rate

Union Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, during an interview said that India has the capability to grow at a rate of 9 per cent to 10 per cent. However, he added that to achieve such a steep trajectory Government of India must invest more heavily in irrigation and rural infrastructure. Jaitley also said that one of the areas where lots of investment is required is the infrastructure sector, which in turn will benefit the manufacturing sector. While vouching for reforms, Indian Finance Minister went on to say that poverty level in India can be decreased if the 9-10 per cent growth rate can be maintained for 10 years or so.

Future Retail Merges with Bharti Retail

Kishore Biyani-led Future Group’s retail arm, Future Retail, has announced grand operations merger with Bharti Enterprise’s Bharti Retail, making it one of the biggest retail chains in India. After the merger, the entity will have 570 stores spread across 243 cities. This retail chain will now have 203 'Easyday' hypermarkets and Big Bazaar, 197 'Easyday' supermarkets and Food Bazaar, and 171 other retail stores including Foodhall, FBB, eZone, and Home Town. Kishore Biyani said that after the merger, combined turnover of the merged entity will be around Rs. 15,000 crore. He also said that Rs. 2,000 crore will be added by Bharti Retail to Future Retail’s business.

Moody's Gives 'Goodwill Impairment Charges' of Vedanta Resources Plc Negative Credit Rating

Moody’s, global rating agency, has regarded the Rs. 19,228-crore “goodwill impairment charges” to be credit negative for Vedanta Resources Plc. The Anil Agarwal-led company wrote off non-cash impairment charge to the tune of Rs. 19,180 crore from March quarter of 2014-15 FY for acquiring Cairn India’s goodwill after significant fall in crude oil prices. In its statement, Moody’s has observed that this move has been given negative credit rating (Ba1 negative) because it means longer payback period for acquiring majority stake (59.9 per cent in 2011) of Cairn India. The statement also said that the goodwill impairment charges have also increased repayment challenges of $4.4 billion, debt for acquisition, from operating cash flow of the company.

Infosys to Invest Heavily in Indian Start-ups under its $500 Million "Innovate in India Fund"

IT giant Infosys is in the process of evaluating early stage start-ups in India for investing $10-25 million per startup that are developing disruptive technologies. Infosys has also announced $250 million investment plan in April under “Innovate in India Fund” for investing in promising start-ups. Head of Infosys’s startup fund, Yusuf Bashir, in an attempt to evaluate the best possible ways of tapping into software product ecosystem of India met M&A team of iSpirt, whose M&A connect programme helps in connecting large companies with their curated list of 100 early stage software firms. Infosys has recently increased its start-up fund to $500 million.  

Telecom Minister Assures House of Providing Internet Connectivity Access in Non-Discriminatory Manner

With all MPs from upper house of the Indian Parliament objecting to the consultation paper issued by Telecom Authority of India, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union IT and Telecom Minister, said that his government is committed to provide internet facility in India to all netizens in a non-discriminating manner, based on the ideals of net neutrality. He assured Rajya Sabha that internet connectivity will be available in an unhindered manner to all, keeping the aspects of national outlook in mind. While addressing the house, IT and Telecom Minister said that the issue of net neutrality is not only ideology neutral but also party neutral. Unlike other issues, the entire house was unanimous on the issue.

Internet.org Opened by Facebook to Outside Applications after Uproar

Facebook has opened Internet.org that now provides connectivity to people in developing countries to outside applications. The move comes after news organisations in India pulled out of the concerned programme sighting net neutrality violation issue. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, said that this will work as a free platform that will enable anybody to build free basic services. He went on to add that he wants to provide people with more free access to services over a period of time. Facebook in a statement said that any developer can use the free internet.org service free of cost.  

India beats Japan Second Match of Hockey Test Series

India managed to beat Japan by 2-0 during the second match of the four match hockey test series. India scored their first goal at the 27th minute of play. The goal, which was scored by SK Uthappa was followed by a 48th minute goal by Dharamvir Singh. The game started in an interesting manner as both the teams started playing fast paced attacking game. The first quarter of the game was goalless and the first half ended with India leading by one goal to nil, despite the fact that India lost a couple of goal-making opportunities. With strong defence in place Indian hockey team intensified its attack with Pradeep Mor making multiple scoring attempts in the second half, with second and final success coming at 48th minute.     

ATP Rankings: Yuki Bhambri improves; Somdev drops four positions

Rankings released by ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) shows that Somdev Devvarman has dropped four positions and his current ranking is 173. However, another ace Indian tennis player Yuki Bhambri’s ATP ranking has improved by thirty positions, helping him enter the top 200 ranking. His current ATP rank is 186. Bhambri’s current jump in position was possible because for his good performance in the Taipei Challenger, where he entered the semi-final. In the women’s doubles ATP ranking, Sania Mirza held her World No. 1 ranking. In the men’s doubles ATP ranking list, Leander Paes is ranked 23rd followed by Rohan Bopanna at 24th spot.    

President of Boxing India Voted Out by General Body Members

Sandeep Jajodia, President of Boxing India, has been voted out by the general body members during a No Confidence Motion yesterday at a Special General Meeting. Out of the total 64 general body members, 57 turned out for voting. While 55 votes went against him, two went in his favour. However, incumbent President Sandeep Jajodia termed it illegal. Asit Banerjee, representative from West Bengal, said that there has been a turmoil going on in the organisation from the last few months and it took an ugly turn with the resignation of BI Secretary General Jay Kowli. It is learnt that Vice-President Miren Paul is going to be the interim head of the federation.

Salman Khan Found Guilty in 2002 Hit-and-Run Case

Bollywood actor Salman Khan has been convicted by a sessions court in Mumbai for killing a homeless man and injuring four others, sleeping on a pavement in Bandra outside a bakery, on 28 September 2002, while driving his Toyota Land Cruiser SUV under the influence of alcohol. Sessions judge, DW Deshpande, while pronouncing the judgement said that all charges against Salman have been proved and consequently he has been charged with culpable homicide. While the sentencing can vary from 10 years to life imprisonment, defence lawyers are arguing by sighting SC judgement that the maximum number of years of jail term given by the apex court is three years.

Minister of State for Home Affairs Claims Government has No Information about Dawood Ibrahim

Minister of State for Home Affairs Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary told Lok Sabha today that Dawood Ibrahim, one of the most wanted terrorists of India, is not being searched by Indian intelligence agencies. He went on to say that the whereabouts of Dawood Ibrahim is not known to India and an extradition process can only be started after his location is known. However, Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary’s statement has kicked off a major row because his statement contradicts Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s statement given back in December 2015 vouching for extraditing Dawood. However, Rajendra Kumar, ex-IB Special Director, said that Dawood can’t leave Pakistan as ISI just moves him from one place to another.

MIM's Asaduddin Owaisi Objects to Conferring Highest Civilian Awards to Advani and Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Asaduddin Owaisi, controversial leader and MP of All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen, objected to conferring the Padma Vibhushan award to BJP veteran Lal Krishna Advani and Bharat Ratna to former PM of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, on grounds that both these leaders were involved in the destruction of historic Babri Masjid. He went on to say that Advani spread venom across India with his ‘Rath Yatra’ and this is the first time a man facing criminal charges has been conferred with one of the highest state honours. Owaisi also accused former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee of fomenting hatred by vouching to level the ground by referring to the Babri mosque.