Major News and Events of 28 May 2015
What Happened on 28 May 2015
Centre takes Note of Gujjar Agitation in Rajasthan and Sends Central Forces to Assess Law & Order Situation
India terms President Pranab Mukherjee's Comments on Bofors Controversy "Slip of the Tongue" and "Off-the-Record" Remark
Moody's Expects Improvement in Tata Steel's Results in FY16
India Ratings and Research projects Slightly Lower GDP Growth Estimate in FY15 than CSO's Projection
Competition Commission of India approves AXA's request of Raising its Stake in its Two Indian Insurance Ventures
Microsoft joins hands with VCCI to Open First Digital Experience Centre of India in Vadodara
Lava Announces Premium "Black" Xolo Series Phones in Rs. 5,000-20,000 Range
SAI to Coach and Select Para-Athletes for International Tournaments
BJP GS Ram Madhav says PDP-BJP J&K Government working to Marginalise Pro-Pakistan Elements in the State
Delhi CM moves HC against MHA Notification and calls it Experiment towards "Dictatorship
PM hits out at Congress; Ex-PM makes Courtesy Call after Lambasting Modi Government
Tripura’s Council of Ministers in a cabinet meeting has taken the decision to lift Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) after carefully and thoroughly assessing the ground situation in the disturbed areas of the state. Manik Sarkar (Chief Minister and Home Minister of Tripura) made the announcement and also said that the official notification will be issued soon. He went on to say that the situation was not only monitored in the disturbed areas for the last six months but also discussed with the security agencies, working in Tripura, and state police. AFSPA was imposed in Tripura 18 years back (precisely on February 16, 1997) after increase in violence by the ultras. Manik Sarkar added that security forces suggested in favour of lifting AFSPA as the problem of insurgency is largely contained in Tripura.
Rajasthan High Court criticised the state government of giving a free hand to the agitating Gujjars and taking no action as the latter’s agitation entered eighth day. The single judge bench told Rajasthan’s Chief Secretary C S Rajan and DGP Manoj Bhatt (who appeared before court today) that bureaucracy’s work is not to merely watch undemocratic agitations and directed them to free the blockades by today itself. However, till the last available report, Gujjars were blocking the major national highways as well as Delhi-Mumbai railway route till now as the discussions between representatives of the protestors and government are set to be held later today. Officials of Union Home Ministry have told media that till now 500 paramilitary personnel have been sent to Rajasthan to help the state government in dealing with the agitators.
Banashri Bose Harrison, Indian Ambassador to Sweden, in a formal letter to Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, said that the latter is guilty of publishing “Off-the-Record” remark and “Slip of the Tongue” comment of Indian President Pranab Mukherjee on Bofors controversy. However, in a report published today the Swedish newspaper claimed that the Indian Ambassador asked them to retract the sections mentioning the Bofors controversy. They claim that Banashri Bose Harrison also threatened the newspaper that Indian President’s planned visit to Sweden on coming Sunday will be at risk of cancellation if the concerned sections were not retracted. Back in India, journalist Chitra Subramaniam (the person who unraveled the news of Bofors scandal) expressed shock on President’s claim that Bofors’ scandal was a media trial.
Moody's Investors Service said that the huge loss Tata Steel incurred in the 2014-15 fiscal was mainly due to iron ore supply disruption in India. Kaustubh Chaubal, Vice President and senior analyst of Moody’s, said that the ratings of the company will remain same in spite of the “below expectation” performance. The rating agency feels that in the 2015-16 fiscal, the losses will "fade away". Available data shows that in comparison to net profit of Rs. 3,594.89 crore during 2013-14, consolidated net loss during 2014-15 was reported to be Rs 3,925.52 crore. Moody’s expects the incurred loss of Tata Steel in the last fiscal to be ironed out in the ongoing fiscal as the company starts mining its own iron ore, uses imported iron ore stock, and starts getting new shipments from its plant in Kalinganagar.
Report published by India Ratings and Research (IRR) says that its GDP growth forecast for FY15 (at FY12 prices) is slightly lower than that of the advance estimates of Central Statistics Office (CSO). While CSO’s GDP growth estimate was 7.4 per cent for financial year 2015, the same forecast by India Ratings and Research is 7.3 per cent. The report says that net export for last quarter of FY15 may be positive, though the overall net exports for FY15 will be negative. While CSO’s advanced GDP growth estimate of net exports sees a decline of 19.5 per cent on a year-on-year basis that of IRR report is 22.5 per cent decline. The concerned report also observed that industrial gross value-added (GVA) growth for FY15 will miss CSO’s 5.9 per cent estimate as it will be 5.4 per cent.
Competition Commission of India (CCI) approved proposal of European financial services behemoth AXA to raise its stake in its two insurance ventures in India - Bharti AXA General Insurance and Bharti AXA Life Insurance – from current 26 per cent to 49 per cent. These two deals worth Rs 1,290 crore were earlier approved by FIPB or Foreign Investment Promotion Board. Reports say that this is the first foreign company that raised its stake in its Indian subsidiaries after Government of India approved increase of FDI in the insurance sector from 26 per cent to 49 per cent. Insurance sector expects that this move will be followed by similar actions by other foreign investors in the coming time. Fair trade watchdog CCI said that they have also approved acquisition of renewable power, thermal power, and grid businesses of Alstom by GE.
Science and Technology
Microsoft has collaborated with Vadodara Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) to open India’s first Digital Experience Centre in Vadodara. Microsoft India’s Business Development Director, Manohar Hotchandani, announced that the concerned centre (to be managed by Ingram Micro, distributor of Microsoft) will help business entities, individuals, partners, and institutions get first-hand experience of Microsoft software run modern devices Office 365.Microsoft and Windows applications. Reports say that the first such digital experience centre in India will help entrepreneurs as well as SMEs to learn about recent Microsoft products such as cloud technology and then get business leverage by using them through enhanced skills. It is also learnt that the joint initiative of Microsoft and VCCI will help educational institutions in adopting technologies for preparing future generations for cloud-first as well as mobile-first world.
Science and Technology
Director and co-founder of Lava, Vishal Sehgal, said that his company is all set to bring premium flagship smartphones to the market under the popular Xolo series to compete against the likes of Micromax's Yu, Motorola, and Xiaomi. Reports say that this new line of smartphone will come with a more premium finish along with additional focus on battery life, performance, and camera features. Vishal Sehgal also told media that this new series will be available in the market under the sub-brand “Black” and will be priced in the range of Rs. 5,000 and Rs. 20,000. Sehgal said that they want to target those tech-savvy customers living in the 4/5 major Indian cities who love to shop online. He went on to add that the first “Black” smartphone will be available by coming June.
Reports say that Sports Authority of India (SAI) has decided to take charge of Indian Paralympic athletes, almost one month after their national body, Paralympic Committee of India, was indefinitely suspended by Sports ministry for mistreating and making poor arrangements for differently-abled athletes during 15th National Paralympic Championships. A statement from Sports ministry earlier said that the ministry requested International Paralympic Committee (IPC) to allow SAI to send entries of the Indian para athletes to international competitions in addition to other related requests. It is also learnt that SAI will coach and select para-athletes for the international tournaments. The decision comes after IPC allowed differently-abled athletes of India to participate in international tournaments under IPC flag through Sport Data Management System (SDMA) license, following request from Sports Ministry.
BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav said that PDP-BJP coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir is taking all possible steps for cornering, marginalising, and arresting pro-Pakistan elements in the state. He also said that his party will not hesitate in leaving the government if the latter fails to protect India’s interests. Ram Madhav made the statement during a question-answer session after delivering speech on the topic “Challenges to National Security: Jammu and Kashmir to Arunachal, Pakistan to China” in a programme organised by Pragna Bharat and J&K Study Centre. BJP’s GS went on to say that separatist leader Masarat Alam is currently in jail and all separatist leaders have been put under house arrest. He made it clear while answering another query that division of state for bridging gap between Kashmir Valley and Jammu region is not in their cards.
Arvind Kejriwal government today moved the High Court against the 21 May MHA notification that gave discretionary power to Lt. Governor of appointing, transferring and posting senior bureaucrats (related to public order and police) in Delhi. The move comes after Delhi Government passed a resolution in the assembly yesterday against the MHA notification. Delhi CM lambasted Najeeb Jung yesterday and alleged that he is deliberately creating obstacles for the AAP government. He also called the on-going Delhi fiasco an experiment of BJP-led Union Government to take India towards “dictatorship”. Delhi’s Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung today met Union Home Secretary LC Goyal at the Central Secretariat and apprised him of the ongoing confrontation between the Delhi government and his office. Tomorrow Supreme Court is going to hear Union government’s Special Leave Petition (filed yesterday) that challenged Delhi High Court's verdict calling the 21 May MHA notification “suspect”.
While referring to the Congress as “opposite of progress”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hit out at the Congress by saying that it is yet to “digest” its humiliating defeat in the last Lok Sabha election. In an interview, Modi also replied to Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s allegation that the current union government is run by a single person with the help of some selected people for a select few. He said that she was probably referring to UPA regime’s practice where extra-constitutional authorities wielded power in the government. He also sarcastically said that he pleads guilty of not listening to any extra-constitutional authorities and dispensing power through “constitutional means” only. In an unexpected turn of events, former PM Manmohan Singh gave a courtesy call to PM Narendra Modi yesterday evening after making scathing attack at the current government some hours earlier.