Major News and Events of 17 June 2015
What Happened on 17 June 2015
Leading Indian Architect, Charles Correa, Passes Away
BSNL to Set Up 40,000 WiFi Hotspots throughout India
Pakistan Table Tennis Squad issued Indian Visa for Participating in South Asian Cadet and Junior Table Tennis Championship
Rohan Bopanna-Florin Mergea duo enters Gerry Weber Open's Doubles Quarter-Finals for Men
PM Modi calls Pakistan PM, Bangladesh PM, and Afghan Prez to Extend Ramzan Wishes
Indian Ambassador Arun K. Singh says Modi Government changed India's Terms of Engagement with the US
BJP left Red Faced after Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje's Name gets dragged in Lalit Modi Controversy
Asian Development Bank all set to Increase Lending to India to $10-12 Billion in coming Years
Taxmen not to adopt Coercive Methods to recover MAT from FIIs: CBDT
India's Goods Export falls for the 6th Straight Month in a Row in May 2015
Former speaker of Parliament PA Sangma’s National People's Party received a major blow yesterday when Election Commission suspended recognition of the party as NPP failed to file statement of its election expenditure. This is the first time ever that the Election Commission has taken such a step of suspending recognition of a political party that failed to “follow the Lawful directions of the Commission”. Statement of EC reads that the concerned step against NPP was undertaken under Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order 1968. Officials of the election watchdog clarified that the steps undertaken are not derecognition of the party as such and the suspension order can be revoked if Sangma’s NPP files "appropriate" statement and satisfies the needs of the Election Commission. However, officials also said that this action is final warning before derecognition and Sangma’s party will be treated as derecognised till the suspension lasts.
Charles Correa, who is known as the face of urban modern architecture in India post independence, has died after suffering from a brief illness. At the time of his death he was 84 years old. Family sources of the “greatest architect” said that his last rites will be performed tomorrow in Mumbai. He was the main architect of Madhya Pradesh’s assembly building and Gujarat’s Mahatma Gandhi Memorial in Ahmedabad. He shot to fame when he became National Commission on Urbanisation’s first chairman and went on to receive international awards such as Royal Gold Medal, Praemium Imperiale of Japan and Aga Khan Award for Architecture. Charles Correa was the main architect of Navi Mumbai in 1970s. In 1972, he received Padma Shri award. Correa was renowned for building good quality low-income houses. He was conferred with Padma Vibhushan in the year 2006.
Science and Technology
Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad announced that national telecom operator, BSNL, is readying itself to set up 40,000 WiFi hot spots throughout India by the year 2018. Reports say that the tenders for setting up those hotspots across India will require an investment of Rs. 6,000 crore. Tender for the project is learnt to be issued by July 2015. Telecom Minister made this announcement during launch of WiFi facility at Taj Mahal. Reports say that BSNL has set up Wi-Fi facility in Taj Mahal in sync with the Union Government’s plan of providing Wi-Fi facility at major tourist sports across the country. Anupam Shrivastava, CMD of BSNL, said that two hundred Wi-Fi hotspots have already being set up in different locations of India. In the ongoing year, the company will set up another two hundred WiFi hot spots at an estimated Rs 500 crore cost.
Reports say that junior table tennis squad of Pakistan has been issued Indian Visa so that they can participate in South Asian Cadet and Junior Table Tennis Championship. Table Tennis Federation of India’s Secretary General, Dhanraj Choudhary, said that four countries including Pakistan, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka confirmed participation in the tournament. Sources say that the junior Pakistani paddlers have reached the game arena and they came by road through the Wagah border. He went o to add that Bangladeshi table tennis players are yet to receive their visa but Choudhury hoped that they will receive them by today and will also reach India the same day. Sports diplomatic channels believe granting Indian Visa to Paskitani paddlers is a big move especially after blame game erupted between the two neighbours regarding the non-issuance of visa to Pakistani wrestlers for Cadet Asian Wrestling Championship.
India’s ace tennis player Rohan Bopanna along with his Romanian partner Florin Mergea has yet again put up a good show in the doubles tournament for men at Gerry Weber Open after triumphing at Stuttgart Open, just a few days back. The Indo-Romanian duo entered quarter finals after defeating Ukrainian - Czech pair Sergiy Stakhovsky and Luka Rosol by 2-6 6-3 10-8. Bopanna-Mergea duo was no-match in the very first set of the match as the Ukrainian-Czech were off with a flying start. They won a couple of break points and rested the first set at 6-2. However, Rohan Bopanna and his partner bounced back well and clinched the second set rather easily from Stakhovsky-Rasol pair 6-3. Though they made a few double faults at crucial juncture, they were successful in winning the second set. In the third set, Indo-Romanian played a good match to win 10-8.
PM Narendra Modi called Pakistan’s PM Nawaz Sharif and extended him best wishes on Ramzan, starting today. He stressed upon importance of friendly, cooperative, and peaceful bilateral ties. The call comes at an important juncture when the tension between the two countries increased after Indian military carried out successful cross-border covert operation in Myanmar to nail militant camps. Sharif, in turn, said that Pakistan-India must work together for peace and put aside the differences. As a gesture of goodwill, PM Modi also conveyed to Sharif that India has decided to release detained Pakistani fishermen. John Kerry, US secretary of state, also called Sharif and discussed about their bilateral ties along with the heightened tension between Pakistan and India. While Modi thanked Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina for successful Bangladesh visit and lauded “extraordinary hospitality”, he assured "steadfast commitment" of supporting Afghanistan during telephonic conversation with Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani.
Indian Ambassador Arun K. Singh has said while giving a keynote address at New York’s Asia Society on the topic "India under Modi: One Year In" that during the last one year of Narendra Modi government India’s terms of engagement with the US has changed markedly. As per his speech, this has become possible due to the purposeful diplomacy coupled with India's rapid transformation, as envisioned by Modi government. He highlighted “optimism” and comparative “ease of doing business” in India during the last one year of Modi’s tenure. He also pointed out that relationship with the US has transformed in the last one year and lots of new progresses are in the offing in the coming years. Arun K. Singh also lauded the positive personal chemistry between PM Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama, which gave a solid political foundation for improving the bilateral relation.
With the raging Lalit Modi controversy, senior BJP leader and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje’s name has also been dragged in after that of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. As per the documents released by ex-IPL chief Lalit Modi’s lawyer, Vasundhara Raje not only supported Lalit’s immigration plea (back in 2011 when she was leader of opposition) but also helped him get permit for staying in UK. Raje denied the charges and claimed her ignorance about the documents. However, she acknowledged that she knows the family of Lalit Modi. Increasing BJP’s embarrassment, ED has found that Lalit Modi had given Rs. 11.63 crore to one of the firms owned by Dushyant Singh, BJP MP from Jhalawar-Baran and son of Vasundhara Raje. Ex-IPL Commissioner has refuted the charges and went on to say that he approached both Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhara Raje because of his ill wife’s health treatment abroad.
Takehiko Nakao, President of Asian Development Bank, (ADB), proposed increasing lending to India to $12 billion by the year 2018. The proposed lending limit is almost 50 per cent more than the existing lending. ADB currently lends $7 billion-$9 billion to India on sovereign and non-sovereign lending heads. According to the proposal, they look forward to increase lending to $10 billion-$12 billion during 2016-2018. As per available information, this increased lending will be done under expanded lending capacity of ADB. This information has been given by Takehiko Nakao while he was talking to the media, after meeting Venkaiah Naidu (Urban Development Minister) and Arun Jaitley (Union Finance Minister). As per ADB President’s statement, annual lending capacity of ADB is going to be jacked up from US$ 13 billion to US$20 billion by merging lending operations of Asian Development Fund with balance sheet of Ordinary Capital Resources.
Central Bank of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has announced that they will wait for the Supreme Court verdict on the collection of Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT) on FIIs’ capital gains and until then will not resort to any kind of coercive methods to collect the pending amount. Anita Kapur, Chairperson of CBDT, told media that in case of appeals the organisation can ask its Assessing Officers (AOs) to not agitate on the slapped MAT on FIIs. She went on to say that this formula has already being applied for two other contentious tax cases, the first one for Vodafone and the other for Shell. Though she claimed that on the issue of slapping MAT on FIIs was a correct decision and was done in the right process, the final outcome will depend on the verdict given by Supreme Court.
Though India’s BoP has improved recently due to decreased import bill (owing to sharp fall in crude oil prices internationally), available data shows that goods exports from India has dropped 20.19 per cent in May 2015, straight 6th month fall in export. Reports say that at end of May 2015, Indian exports stand at US $22.34 billion and the decelerating pace is mainly due to slowing Chinese economy. However, the sharp fall in export activities have mostly being compensated by the 16.52 per cent fall in import bills of India, owing to sharp fall in petroleum bill. Commerce Ministry’s data shows that trade deficit has narrowed down from May 2014’s US $11.23 billion to $10.4 billion in May 2015. SC Ralhan, President of FIEO, has asked the government to step in act (asking for stimulus package) to arrest this steep decline.