Major News and Events of 20 April 2015
What Happened on 20 April 2015
Prashant Bhushan gives Stinging Response to AAP's Show Cause Notice
Union Minister Giriraj Singh Apologises for his "Derogatory" Remarks on Sonia Gandhi
CPIM Constitutes New Politburo and Central Committee; Sitaram Yechury becomes the New General Secretary
Rahul's Jibe at Modi not Taken Kindly by BJP
Flipkart to Move to App-only Format
Three Indian Walkers make it to the 2016 Rio Olympics
Paytm to Enter Online Grocery Market
CII Chief backs Government Claim of Rs. 40,000 crore MAT from FIIs and FPIs
TCS says No Change in Visa Norms Despite of Increasing India-US Bonhomie
COAI calls for Meaningful Debate on Net Neutrality
Budget Session of Lok Sabha Starts Today; PM Hopes for a Productive Session
Hafiz Mohammad Saeed (mastermind of Mumbai 26/11 massacre and chief of Jamaat-ud-Dawa) called India “Number 1 Enemy” while addressing a rally in Pakistan that was attended by members of Jamat-e-Islami, MPs belonging to both Imran Khan's PTI and Nawaj Sharif’s PML(N). The anti-India call was made at a rally, which was called in support of Saudi Arabia’s fight in war ravaged Yemen against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels. Analysts believe that the timing of such anti-India call from Hafiz, having base in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, is crucial as Chinese President Xi Jinping is currently on a two-day Pakistan visit and recently appreciated bilateral effort of connecting China’s Xinjiang province with Pakistan’s Gwadar port on Arabian Sea through POK.
Aam Aadmi Party rebel Prashant Bhushan not only gave a stinging response to a show cause notice sent by AAP but also made serious allegations against present leaders of the party such as Ashish Khetan and Pankaj Gupta. While Bhushan accused Pankaj Gupta of taking Rs. 2 crore from shell companies, he accused Ashish Khetan of writing stories in Tehelka magazine in favour of Essar (a 2G accused). He went on to say that Essar paid Rs. three crore for Tehelka’s Thinkfest. In the response letter, Bhushan called National Council meeting of March 28 “illegal and unconstitutional" and also pointed out that National Council meeting’s official video was a “carefully edited version”.
Union Minister Giriraj Singh expressed regret for his alleged derogatory comments on Congress President Sonia Gandhi at the floor of ongoing Lok Sabha’s second budget session, which reconvened today. Giriraj during a rally in Hajipur earlier questioned whether INC would have accepted leadership of Sonia Gandhi if she didn’t have white skin. As the budget session opened today with the demand of Giriraj’s resignation along with PM Modi’s apology by Congress MPs, Parliamentary Affairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu accused opposition of dragging Narendra Modi’s name in everything, even where he has no connection. Naidu also disapproved comments made by Giriraj Singh.
On the last day of the six-day party Congress in Vishakhapatnam, Communist Party of India (Marxist) elected Sitaram Yechury as its new General Secretary, media reports said. Politburo member S Ramachandran Pillai withdrew his candidature for the post at the last minute and outgoing GS Prakash Karat proposed Sitaram’s name, under the chairmanship of SR Pillai, as the next General Secretary. The decision on Yechury was unanimous. While Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Nirupam Sen were relieved from Politburo due to ill health, V S Achuthanandan was made a permanent invitee. Four new politburo members are Subhashini Ali, Mohammed Salim, Hanan Mollah, and G Ramakrishnan.
Rahul Gandhi made his first public appearance after a 57-day sabbatical yesterday by making a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his policies, especially the newly issued Land Ordinance, during Kisan Rally at Delhi’s Ramlila Ground. The event witnessed a turnout of around 80,000 farmers from different parts of the country, media reports said. During his 22-minute speech, Vice President of Congress said that the new land ordinance of Narendra Modi is nothing but his repayment of debt to the big industrialists that he took for financing his marketing blitzkrieg to win 2014 Lok Sabha elections. However, BJP quickly shot back by asking Rahul gandhi to apologise for "insulting the people's mandate."
Science and Technology
Indian eCommerce giant Flipkart is all set to close its website by 2015-end and will be available through application only. The online clothing and accessories phenomenon Myntra had earlier announced that it is going to shut its website from 1 May. A recent newspaper report quotes Flipkart’s Vice President of retail Michael Adnani saying that his company will go mobile-only from "next year or so”. Adnani went on to say that traffic from their mobile apps have increased ten times in less than one and a half year, showing the increasing importance of mobile phone in the business model.
After credible performance at the Rio Maior Race Walking International Grand Prix in Portugal, three Indian race walkers - Sandeep Kumar, Manish Rawat, and Khushbir Kaur - have qualified for 2016 Rio Olympics. In the men’s segment of 20km race walk, both Manish Rawat (1:22:50) and Sandeep Kumar (1:23:32) finished the race well within the qualification time of 1:24 for Rio Games. Men’s walkers who could not make it to the 2016 Rio Olympics are Devender Singh (1:24:57) and Ganpathy Krishnan (1:27:05). In the women’s segment of 20km race walk, national record holder Khushbir Kaur finished the race well within qualification time of 1:35, by clocking 1:33:58.
Payment platform Paytm, backed by Chinese eCommerce behemoth Alibaba, is all set to enter online grocery market. As per reports, the new business vertical would be headquartered in Bengaluru. With this online initiative, Paytm will be pitched in direct competition with grocery retailing initiatives of Flipkart. Paytm will use part of $575 million fund, infused by Alibaba through affiliate Ant Financial Services, to start the new grocery retailing. Founder and CEO of One97 Communications, which runs Paytm, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, said that his company is currently developing a separate application for grocery business. It is learnt that Paytm is going to launch the online grocery initiative with a team of 20 people.
Newly appointed President of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has reiterated the opinion voiced by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley a few days back that India is not a “tax haven”. He went on to stress on the fact that government has done the right thing in claiming Rs 40,000 crore from the FIIs (Foreign Institutional Investors) and FPIs (Foreign Portfolio Investors) as tax dues (claimed by Income Tax department towards MAT or towards Minimum Alternate Tax). He also added that government has pledged to end retrospective tax but that does not mean they will not collect the due tax.
Tata Consultancy Services has dropped a bombshell by saying that increasing ties between India and the USA are yet to be realized by the domestic IT companies that depend heavily on US market. Ajoy Mukherjee, global HR head of TCS, has said that enhanced bonhomie between the two nations have not translated into benefits at this point of time as no changes in rules have taken place regarding H1B and L1 visas. He further stated that the net requirement of professionals, to be sent by the companies to the US against the quota, exceeded by 65,000. However, he hoped the situation would get better in the coming times.
Science and Technology
Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has issued a statement in favour of net neutrality and urged all the stakeholders to have informed as well as comprehensive debate on the concerned matter, keeping in mind the requirements of both the country and its citizens. The industry body has opined that the matter should not be left to the opinions of a few. COAI also said that telecom revolution has enabled more than 950 million Indians get access to telecom facilities, which has been possible through provision of affordable services. The industry body also vouched for their commitment to the ambitious Digital India programme.
With Lok Sabha’s Budget session reconvening today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that he hoped for a productive session ahead. Modi had informed yesterday that with the new BJP-led NDA government in power, Parliament’s productivity reached 125 per cent. The Union Government is all set to table the controversial land bill issue today. Congress is expected to lead a united opposition in countering the new proposed Land bill. Schedule of the session says that the new Land Ordinance will be tabled by Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, followed by a statement on Yemen evacuation by Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister.