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Major News and Events of 17 July 2015

What Happened on 17 July 2015


Anil Ambani announces Investing "Additional Rs. 5,000 Crore" over next Few Years

Anil Ambani announced yesterday that he is going to invest an additional Rs. 5,000 crore in the coming few years in his defence equipment manufacturing company Pipavav Shipyard. The announcement comes to project the company as a one-stop shop for all defence equipment including submarines, aircraft carriers, and frigates. Anil also vouched for the need of “transparent, fair procedures and processes” for encouraging competitiveness and at the same time create favourable climate in the defence equipment manufacturing industry in India. He went on to emphasise the need of India to be self-reliant in defence sector for pursuing foreign policy objectives of India. Anil Ambani also said that acquisition of Rs. 10,000 crore Pipavav Defence Company is Reliance Group's contribution towards India’s self reliance in defence sector.   

Foreign Secretary Warns Pakistan of "Effective and Forceful" Response to Unprovoked Firing

India’s Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, during a press briefing, said that officials of both India and Pakistan are in constant touch on the repeated incidents of ceasefire violations by Pakistani Rangers along the Line of Control. However, he warned Pakistan that any further unprovoked firing and shelling along the international border from Pakistani side would be met with "effective and forceful" response from Indian security forces. India has also lodged strong protest with Pakistani envoy in New Delhi on ceasefire violation by Pakistan in Akhnoor sector, where one Indian civilian died due to firing. While stressing on the importance of peace talks between the two neighbours, Jaishankar asked Pakistan to take corrective measures and stop firing. He also rejected the “spy drone” theory of Pakistan by saying that the drone’s design seems to be similar to Chinese-build and such a design is not available in the inventory of Indian military.

PM Modi attends Late Congress leader Girdhari Lal Dogra's Centenary Celebration in Jammu

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today attended centenary celebrations of late Congress leader Girdhari Lal Dogra (who never lost an election and remained J&K’s finance minister for a record 27 years) in Jammu today. While delivering his speech at Jammu University’s Zorawar Singh auditorium, PM Modi highlighted the selfless contribution of late Congress leader to the society and stressed upon his non-indulgence in any kind of nepotism. He went on to add that Dogra never favoured or promoted any one of his family members including his son-in-law Arun Jaitley. Narendra Modi also took dig at Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra by referring him as an embarrassment for his in-laws, kicking off another political controversy. PM Modi appreciated “Girdhari Lalji's judgement” in “his choice of son-in-law”. Reports say that BJP cadres in Jammu were disappointed, as PM Modi didn’t announce the well-anticipated Rs. 70,000 crore "massive development package".       

BJP formally Kicks off Bihar Campaign with 160 'Parivartan Raths'

Bharatiya Janata Party formally started Bihar election campaign yesterday by flagging off 160 motorised 'parivartan raths' that will carry on intensive publicity drive throughout Bihar for 100 days. BJP sources say that the number of ‘'parivartan raths’ will be increased to 260 later. It is learnt that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is going to address a rally on 25 July and the same has been named “Parivartan Rally”. However, Chief Minister of Bihar and JDU leader Nitish Kumar has taken dig at BJP for prefixing the names of motorized vehicles and PM’s rally with “parivartan” (meaning ‘change’) and said that the saffron party wants to take the state on non-development path as they want to change the current developmental course followed by his government. While initiating the Bihar campaign, BJP President Amit Shah said that the JDU-RJD alliance will bring back the “jungle raaj”, witnessed during Lalu’s regime.

Competition Commission of India Imposes Hefty Penalty on Four Public Sector Insurance Companies

Competition Commission of India (CCI) imposed hefty penalties, amounting to Rs. 671 crore, on four public sector insurance companies - United India Insurance, Oriental Insurance, New India Assurance, and National Insurance. The action was taken on proven charges of bidding process manipulation by these companies at selection of insurance service providers under Kerala Government’s Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna. CCI took up the issue suo moto under Competition Act 2002’s section 19(1), after receiving anonymous information on bid rigging. These four insurance companies have been found guilty by CCI under Act section 3, dealing with anti-competitive agreements. While Rs. 251 crore has been slapped on New India Assurance, Rs. 162 crore, Rs. 156.6 crore, and Rs. 100 crore have been slapped on National Insurance, United India Insurance, and Oriental Insurance respectively.

Union Cabinet decides to Revamp over 400 Railway Stations in Major Cities across India

Union cabinet has taken a major decision of completely revamping 400 railway stations, located in metros and major cities of India. As per available information, the redeveloped stations will have all kinds of modern amenities including Wi-Fi enabled waiting lounges, restaurants, shopping outlets, and most importantly business centres. Reports say that Indian railways is all set to utilise its major vacant areas, mostly around these major railway stations, for real estate development that will provide value added services to the passengers. The facilities that are expected to come up in these railway peripheries include separate entry-exit levels, multilevel parking, luxury hotels, and others. Reports say that private players will be involved in redeveloping these stations.

CAG Slams HRD Ministry and State Governments on way of Running Midday Meal Programme

Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has criticised both Human Resource Development ministry as well as state governments for the manner in which the midday meal programmes are being run by them. In the performance audit of MDM for 2009-10 to 2013-14 duration, questions have been raised by the CAG on coverage of the concerned flagship programme of the government and its impact. CAG has also pointed out the large cache of funds diverted from the programme, which were supposed to be used for school going children belonging to unprivileged sections of the society. The report also criticised HRD ministry’s unilateral hiring of a public sector company named EdCIL, without following the competitive bidding guidelines of CVC and general financial rules. CAG has said that anything from Rs 85.16 lakh and Rs 6.09 crore were spent annually during 2009-2014 period on EdCIL, where the company enjoyed full monopoly.

Indian Army and 46 Assam Rifles gun down 7 NSCN-K Militants

An Army spokesperson said that in a joint operation with paramilitary 46 Assam Rifles, 7 armed NSCN-K militants have been killed during a gunfight in Nagaland’s Phek district when the army-Assam Rifles patrol went to the area on complaints of villagers regarding kidnapping and forced recruitment of schoolboys. A joint operation of India Army, CRPF, Assam Police, and SSB today nabbed 3 suspected ULFA(I) cadres (Jon, Udai, and Kalia) who killed 2 Indian civilians and injured 3 persons in Assam’s Tinsukia district. Intelligence reports say NSCN (Khaplang) outfit has started creating bunkers in Myanmar, with help of Ulfa units, as Myanmar Army is moving towards their hideouts in Taga area. During today’s Joint Consultative Commission Meeting, both the countries agreed to broadbase their defence and security cooperation for ensuring peace along 1,640 km Indo-Myanmar border. India has assured helping Myanmar in building their own Navy.

India's Anirban Lahiri leads Asian Players at British Golf Open Championship

International golfer from India Anirban Lahiri is leading the Asian pack of players after completion of first day of British Golf Open Championship 2015. By posting three-under-par 69, Lahiri stands at 18th position. It has been a great start for the Indian golfer who is just 4 shots behind the overnight leader Dustin Johnson. He started off the game with three birdies on the very first day – first two holes and par-four-seven. While Anirban Lahiri dropped a shot in par-four 13, he was quick to make a comeback with two successive birdies in 14 and 15. Lahiri is learned to be happy with his first day performance as he believes the lead will help him during rest of the match as rough weather is expected during the weekend. The only other Asian player closing in is Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee.

Solar Energy Corporation of India to Award 15,000 MW Solar Projects in 2015 as part of Green Energy Push

Narendra Modi Government is all set to award 15,000 MW solar projects by ongoing financial year in an effort to give impetus to green energy and consequently achieve the target of installing 100,000 MW solar power capacity (at an estimated cost of $200 billion) by the year 2022. Reports say that Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) will call for competitive bids from manufacturers in the near future for buying 2,000 MW. It is learnt that reverse bidding process will be followed for procurement. SECI sources say that tender for around 3000 MW has already been done by the states, followed by 2600 MW tender by NTPC. Reports say that by 31 March 2016, government will likely award 15,000 MW solar projects through competitive bidding. Rating agency ICRA in its July 14 report said that in the long run they are expecting “strong demand outlook for solar energy sector”.

PM Modi Congratulates NASA on Horizon's Pluto Flyby

Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated NASA on its successful space exploration spaceship New Horizons’ flying by Pluto and consequent sending of the closest images possible of the planet. In his tweet PM Modi called it a landmark feat as the spaceship is sending back data as well as “photos of Pluto from almost 5 billion kilometres away”. He also said that these images of Pluto will increase our understanding on the solar system. This is the first of its kind mission where a spaceship from earth visited Pluto, an object on Kuiper Belt. In a video message to NASA, legendary scientist Stephen Hawking called this a success of “pioneering decade-long mission”. US President Barack Obama and Former US secretary Hilary Clinton too congratulated the NASA effort. Reports say NASA will release new images of Pluto today.

India's Foreign Investment Rules in Companies Simplified

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that Narendra Modi government has simplified rules regarding foreign investment in companies by combining two different categories together “under a composite cap”. He went on to say that by going ahead with this step the government has made it easier for foreign capital to invest in India by treating global capital equally. Analysts believe that this move will help banking entities such as Axis Bank and Yes Bank to raise capital by allowing foreign ownership up to 74 per cent. Arun Jaitley also told media that Justice A P Shah panel, looking into the MAT issue on Foreign Institutional Investors is all set to submit its report to the central government in one week’s time.