Major News and Events of 26 May 2015
What Happened on 26 May 2015
Nasscom and DSC form Task Force for Making India a Global Cyber-Security Hub
Intel allocates Rs. 2.4 crore for helping Start-ups involved in "Digital India" Initiative
11 Major Trade Unions Announce Nationwide Strike on 2 September
Switzerland starts Publishing Details of Swiss Bank Accounts
President Pranab Mukherjee refers to Bofors Scandal as a Media Trial
PM Modi's Open Letter to the Nation on Successes Achieved by his Government in the Last One Year
Former TRAI Chairman Levels Serious Charges against Ex-PM Manmohan Singh on 2G Case
Congress Refutes Claims of BJP Spokesperson on Abrogation of Article 370
Modi Government gets Pat on the Back from FICCI
RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan vouches for Increasing States' Participation to Improve Government Finances
Indian Banks Association signs Wage Agreement; Will Hike Bank Employees' Salaries by 15 Per Cent
Ajinkya Rahane, middle order batsman of India, has been awarded CEAT Indian Cricketer of the Year and Rohit Sharma has been conferred with a special award for making 264 record breaking score against Sri Lanka in a one-day match played in Kolkata. Rohit Sharma is the only cricketer to achieve such a score in the 50-overs limited one day game. CEAT Cricket Ratings for 2014-15 is awarded to cricketers on the basis of their overall performances in the concerned year in all formats of international cricket including Test matches, ODI, and T-20 match format. While ex-Indian cricket captain Kapil Dev was conferred with International Lifetime Achievement Award yesterday, former Sri Lankan skipper Kumar Sangakkara became International Cricketer of the Year.
Science and Technology
A task force has been set up by Data Security Council of India and NASSCOM (National Association of Software and Services Companies, the IT industry body) for transforming India into a cyber-security hub of the world. This task force will help develop a Research and Development plan on cyber security along with development of skilled workers and experts in the respective security domain. Reports say that the concerned task force will be headed by Rajendra Pawar (Chairman of NIIT) and the other members will be from IT industry, telecom companies, banks, academia, and government. Pawar said that cyber-security task force has been created to realise the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make India a cyber-security expert nation. The four main endeavours of the task force are technology development, industry development, skill development, and policy enablement.
Science and Technology
Chipmaker Intel has allocated Rs. 2.4 crore fund for twenty selected technology start-ups and small companies under ambitious Digital India project’s “Innovate for Digital India Challenge” initiative. A partnership has been accordingly forged by Intel with Department of Science and Technology (DST). To help Intel choose 20 highly prospective technology ventures (in healthcare, agriculture, financial inclusion, etc.) on which the earmarked Rs. 2.4 crore fund will be allocated to, the Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE) and IIM Ahmedabad have been roped in. Reports say that the winning teams will go through 6-months incubation programme, including 3 months accelerator program in Bengaluru and Pune followed by access to design houses, 3D printing, and fab-labs, and market preparation for showcasing functional prototypes.
As Narendra Modi government is celebrating its first anniversary in office, 11 trade unions have announced to go on nationwide strike on 2 September, protesting against the proposed labour law changes and land acquisition bill by the NDA government. A senior labour union leader said that the proposed changes in the labour law will keep 67 per cent of the enterprises outside its ambit. All the unions have agreed on a 10-point charter of demands that include government actions on dealing with universal social security cover for workers, labour law violations, problems related to contractual workers, employment generation, disinvestment of PSUs, price rise, FDI in defence and railways, etc. Formally calling the strike today by the trade unions (including INTUC, CITU, AITUC, RSS-affiliated BMS, etc.) is a body blow to the Narendra Modi government’s initiative to address their issues through formation of an inter-ministerial committee.
In the official Swiss Federal Gazette, Switzerland has started publishing names of Swiss bank accounts to be investigated in their respective countries. Reports say that more than forty 'final notices' have been published in the gazette and the names of two Indians have figured till now in the first such list published. The two Indian names that have surfaced in the list of persons who evaded tax are Sneh Lata Sawhney and Sangita Sawhney. Reports say that the account holding of Sneh Lata Sawhney is a joint one with her husband and MD of Sawhney Tyres, Bhushan Lal Sawhney. Available data shows that the maximum balance in the account was Rs. 12.64 crore back in 2006-2007. The notice sent by Swiss Federal Tax Administration to the two Indians was on May 12.
As President Pranab Mukherjee prepares his state visit to Sweden, in an interview to “Dagens Nyhetter” (Swedish national daily) he said that Bofors Trial was a media trial as nothing has been proved in the court of law yet. He went on to say that during his tenure as defence minister, long after the Bofors scandal rocked the Indian political landscape, he inquired about the quality of the Bofors guns and all the generals reported that it is the best one India had. He also asked the press not to get carried away by the publicity. President made these comments when asked about “Bofors Scandal”. However, when asked whether he is referring to the scandal as a media trial only, Mukherjee retorted that the scandal was never proved in any Indian court even after repeated publication in the media.
On the first anniversary of his government Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an open letter to the nation said that the biggest achievements of his government in the last one year include infusion of new enthusiasm within the system, striding forward to “fast path of development”, and improved image of the country on the international front. He also stressed on the fact that the country has already started its journey towards providing welfare to the marginalised sections of the society and poor. In the letter he also narrated the tough situation in which his government took office at centre as the country was plagued with high-level of corruption, high rate of inflation, helplessness of general masses, and waning confidence in the India story. At the end of the letter, PM Modi said that his government’s objective is to provide better quality of life, services, and infrastructure.
Pradip Baijal, former Chairman of TRAI, claimed in his book “The Complete Story of Indian Reforms: 2G, Power and Private Enterprise - A Practitioner's Diary” that former PM Manmohan Singh asked him to cooperate in 2G scam or face the heat. He alleged that UPA2 government ruined his reputation as he was charged with having shady roles in 2G scam and disinvestment of Laxmi Vilas Palace Hotel in 2002 to Bharat Hotels. Pradip Baijal directly accused Manmohan Singh of approving all the actions of the ministers under him - Dayanidhi Maran and A Raja – that became the biggest scams of all time in India. Ex-TRAI Chairman said that in the same meeting where Maran asked him to not submit previous NDA government’s Unified Service Licensing recommendations, the then PM Manmohan Singh asked him to cooperate with his minister or he will be “harmed”.
Meem Afzal, spokesperson of Congress, said that it will be impossible for BJP to abrogate Article 370 of the constitution even if the saffron party gets two-third majority in the parliament. The statement comes after BJP spokesperson Sambit Mahapatra earlier claimed that his party has not moved away from its core issue of abrogating Article 370 and they will make constitutional changes on the matter only when they have a 2/3rd majority in the parliament. While stressing on the point that Article 370 is the binding force between India and Jammu & Kashmir, Meem Afzal told media that BJP is befooling people on this issue in the same way as they did regarding Ram temple. He added that BJP joined hands with PDP, whom the saffron party earlier used to refer as sympathetic to separatists, in J&K by discarding its ideology.
Jyotsna Suri, President of industry body FICCI, said in a press conference that the Narendra Modi government in the last one year has been successful in establishing India as a brand, restored confidence of the investors, and most importantly infused a positive sentiment in the economy. While appreciating improvement of macro economic indicators in the last one year in comparison to earlier government, Jyotsna Suri went on to appreciate extensive international tour of the PM in bringing positive global focus on India. She also observed that in the last one year, there has been an influx of foreign investment in India, current account and fiscal deficits are in control, inflation is low, and there has been an improvement in GDP growth too. R V Kanoria (former President of FICCI) said that it will take another 18-24 months time for the actions taken to be visible on ground.
While inaugurating a conference of Chief Secretaries, Finance Secretaries and states’ cooperative secretaries, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan stressed on more proactive participation of state governments for improving fiscal performance of the government. He also said that despite the improved macro economic parameters, the growth rate is picking up slowly. Rajan emphasised on quantitative as well as qualitative fiscal consolidation along with the need of more effective and active roles of the State Level Coordination Committees (SLCCs). RBI Governor said that government sector’s consolidated fiscal performance can be improved only when state governments play an important role in improving the same. This conference was attended by important dignitaries such as UK Sinha (SEBI Chairman), Harsh Kumar Bhanwala (NABARD Chairman), HR Khan, Urjit Patel and SS Mundra (Deputy Governors of RBI), and other senior government officials.
Indian Banks Association has signed a wage agreement with bank employees’ unions and officers’ associations, representing about 10 lakh employees across 43 banks, which increases salaries of bank employees by 15 per cent. It will be retrospectively effective from November 1, 2012. T M Bhasin, Chairman of IBA, said that this hike will swell the banks’ exchequer by Rs. 4,725 crore in a year and if superannuation cost is included it will swell to a whooping Rs. 8,370 crore. For bank officers, salaries have been revised from Rs 14,500-Rs 52,000 to Rs 23,700-Rs 85,000 along with special allowance on basic pay in the 7.75 to 11 per cent range (and applicable DA). While salaries of workmen and non-subordinate staffs have been increased from Rs 7,200-Rs 19,300 to Rs 11,765-Rs 31,540, while that of subordinate staffs have been hiked from Rs. 5,850-Rs 11,350 to Rs. 9,560-Rs 18,545.