Major News and Events of 25 February 2015
What Happened on 25 February 2015
FICCI Findings Bolsters Deepak Parekh's Views
CII Cautions Government on Increasing Import Duty on Medical Devices
Government Accepts Finance Commission's Proposal of Increasing States' Share of Central Taxes to 42 per cent
Government Forced to Defer Withdrawal of 3 Key Bills in Rajya Sabha
Barry Richards Praises Virat But Stops Short Of Comparing Him with Sachin
Space Technology Cooperation Likely Between India and UAE
IDC Report Points Out Contraction of Mobile Market in India during Q3 2014-15
Arvind Kejriwal Invites Anna Hazare to Interact with MLAs Through Motivational Speech
Mufti Mohammad Sayeed to be sworn-in as J&K CM on March 1
United Nations not to Probe Sexual Harassment Charges Against Dr. RK Pachauri
Defence Ministers of India and France Inch Towards Signing Billion Dollar Rafale Deal
The 14th Finance Commission has suggested decreasing the fiscal deficit target from the existing 4.1 per cent (during 2014-15) to 3.6 per cent of Gross Domestic Product. In the Action Taken Report, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said to look into the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission on fiscal consolidation road map, fiscal environment, GST, and others and consult multiple stakeholders on the suggestions. The commission’s report also said that from 2016-17 onwards till end of award period fiscal deficit ceiling will be pegged at 3 per cent of GDP.
Business Confidence Survey conducted by FICCI has found that sustainable turnaround in terms of exports, profits, and investments are still elusive. Industry body has opined that the condition has certainly improved from the last year but indication of firm turnaround is still not evident from quarter on quarter numbers. Per the poll conducted by FICCI, government decision undertaken in the last seven to eight months has attracted positive sentiment from business community but industrialists wary about the pace of reform implementation. FICCI’s finding corroborates views of business leader Deepak Parekh who opined that industry sentiment remains optimistic but nothing significant has changed on ground.
Pavan Choudhary, Chairman of Medical Technology Division of CII, has opined that possible import duty rise on medical devices will adversely affect general healthcare sector of India. He went on to say that increase in import duty will not only damage the prospects of the booming market but also hurt patients severely from rise in cost. Reports say that medical devices industry is almost entirely (80 percent) dependent on imports. Choudhary also said majority of medical devices including the advanced ones are imported and the devices manufactured in India are all of basic nature. He went on to say that Make In India initiative can’t be promoted with tariff regime.
Union government has accepted 14th Finance Commission’s recommendations of raising states’ share of government revenue (from central taxes) by ten percentage points, from existing 32 per cent to 42 per cent (states asked for 50 per cent of the revenue). This increase means Union government has to give an additional fund of Rs. 1.78 lakh crore on a year-on-year basis to states. Action Taken Report of the government categorically mentions that the total states’ share will increase from Rs. 3.48 lakh crore in 2014-15 to Rs. 5.26 lakh crore in 2015-16 (approximately).
United opposition in the Rajya Sabha forced union government to defer withdrawal of Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill, and The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill. Sitaram Yechury of CPIM said that withdrawal of bill is against House’s propriety and also questioned rationale of bringing ordinance on key issues when bills had to be withdrawn. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that earlier laws on key issues have become “infructuous” and that’s why bills are required to be introduced for replacing the ordinances. Sources claim that government wanted to withdraw bills from RS because it would be impossible for them to get the bills passed in the present format.
Barry Richards, the iconic South African batsman, has called Virat Kohli as the best batsman of Indian cricket team. However, he stopped short of comparing Kohli’s batting skills with that of Sachin Tendulkar. Barry said that Virat still has to walk some more distance to even being considered for comparing with the maestro Sachin. However, Barry Richards counted Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers among the best batsmen in the world currently. When asked about rating Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane beside Kohli, Barry out rightly negated the possibility of any possible comparison.
Science and Technology
Officials of India and UAE are in talks on taking their already strong bilateral relations to the next level by cooperating in field of space. Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology has issued statement that Director General Yousuf Al Shaibani has led a team of top executives and met a team led by Consul General of India in Dubai, Anurag Bhushan. It is learnt that the main discussion revolved around possible cooperation in matters of space and related technologies between Indian Space Research Organisation and EIAST.
Science and Technology
Report published by IDC shows that smartphone market contracted by 4 per cent during 3rd quarter 2014-15 in relation to corresponding period last year. In terms of mobile phone shipment from India, the growth rate has come down to 64.3 million units during Q3 that is equivalent to a fall of 11 per cent on a quarter-on-quarter basis. The growth rate has come down by 5 per cent annually. The worst sufferer during Q3 is the feature phone market, which fell by 14 per cent in relation to Q2 2014-15.
While participating in the protest, led by social crusader Anna Hazare, at Parliament Street, Arvind Kejriwal (Chief Minister of Delhi) has invited Anna to give motivational speech at Government Secretariat today and also interact with the ministers as well as MLAs. Kejriwal told media that he and his government seeks Anna Hazare’s presence, even for ten minutes, in the secretariat for guiding them. Yogendra Yadav of Aam Aadmi Party also participated in the protest and met the Gandhian yesterday.
Sources reveal that on coming Sunday (1 March 2015), Mufti Mohammad Sayeed (PDP patron) is going to be sworn-in as the next Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir. BJP’s National President, Amit Shah, made formal announcement that BJP and PDP have agreed upon a Common Minimum Programme that helped them forge an alliance on the basis of which they stake claim of forming the next government of the troubled state, where Assembly election took place two months back. Reports say that Narendra Modi is going to meet Mufti Mohammad Sayeed soon.
After RK Pachauri sent his resignation letter to Ban Ki-moon (UN Secretary General), thereby resigning from the prestigious Chairman’s position of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, United Nations has issued statement that they are not going to probe the alleged sexual harassment charges pressed by a researcher at The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI). Ban Ki-moon has reportedly thanked Dr. RK Pachauri for his 13 long years of service to IPCC, under whose leadership the organisation got Noble Peace Prize in the year 2007.
Sources in the Defence ministry reveal that one of the major stumbling blocks in signing the estimated $15 billion Rafale deal between India and France have been sorted out by Manohar Parrikar (Defence Minister of India) and Jean-Yves Le Drain (Defence Minister of France) during latter’s visit to India. The final deal of Indian Air Force buying 126 Rafale fighter jets will be decided in the month of April when Indian PM Narendra Modi visits France. Available reports say that India will buy 18 jets ready-made from France and rest will be manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.