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NATIONAL
India wants BRICS to become international leaders against
terrorism
National Security Adviser Ajit Doval has called upon the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS)
grouping to exercise international leadership in countering terrorism, in tune with the growing role of the
emerging economies in setting the global agenda.

During his opening remarks at the seventh BRICS meeting of National Security Advisers, Mr. Doval,
without referring to any country, urged the BRICS countries to show leadership in countering terrorism.

He also advocated that the five emerging economies should work towards setting the agenda on
strategic issues of regional and global importance.

Mr. Xi, in his address to the BRICS NSAs, praised them for building a mutual trust and cooperation
among the member nations.

Though the meeting was meant to iron out the security agenda of the BRICS summit, slated for
September, Mr. Dovals call on Mr. Xi acquired a bilateral context in view of the Doklam face-off.

Scientists are attempting to unlock the secrets of the lost


continent
Scientists are attempting to unlock the secrets of the lost continent of Zealandia, setting sail to
investigate the huge underwater landmass east of Australia that has never been properly studied.

Zealandia, which is mostly submerged beneath the South Pacific, was once part of the Gondwana super-
continent but broke away some 75 million years ago.

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They said it was a distinct geological entity that met all the criteria applied to Earths other continents,
including elevation above the surrounding area, distinctive geology, a well-defined area and a crust much
thicker than that found on the ocean floor.

Covering five million square kilometres, it extends from south of New Zealand northward to New
Caledonia and west to the Kenn Plateau off Australias east.

The recovered cores will be studied onboard, allowing scientists to address issues such as
oceanographic history, extreme climates, sub-seafloor life, plate tectonics and earthquake-generating
zones.

This is around the time that the Pacific Ring of Fire, a hotspot for volcanoes and earthquakes, came into
existence.
But their efforts had been frustrated because most of it was hidden beneath the waves.

Urge for making Tamil official language in HC


Veteran leader of Communist Party of India R. Nallakannu urged the Central government to get
Presidential assent for the unanimous resolution passed by Tamil Nadu Assembly in 2006 to make Tamil
the official language in Madras High Court.

Inaugurating an indefinite fast observed by a group of nine people with the demand that Tamil be made
the official language in the High Court immediately

The Central government was unnecessarily delaying the issue. A parliamentary committee has clearly
said that judicial consultation was not required for making languages of every State as the official
language in the respective High Courts. Despite this, the Central government is refusing to act on it by
citing Supreme Courts refusal.

Rajasthan had made Hindi official language of its High Court decades back and States such as Uttar
Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar had done the same subsequently.

However, the demand to do the same from States such as Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Karnataka and
Gujarat is rejected by the Supreme Court.

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The nine people observing the fast included six advocates and three activists. Though permission was
initially denied by the police, advocate Bhagavath Singh, who is leading the team, subsequently
approached the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court, which granted permission for the protest.

Right to Privacy
Privacy is non-negotiable, confidentiality is non-negotiable under the Aadhaar Act, the Unique
Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).

Additional Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the UIDAI, made this emphatic claim when
apprehensions were raised by a nine-judge Bench that personal data collected during Aadhaar enrolment
might make its way into the hands of private players, for whom such details would transform into vital
commercial information.

The court was, in turn, responding to a submission by Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal, appearing for
the Centre, that citizens could not claim informational privacy when the state asks for data for a legitimate
purpose such as Aadhaar.

Justice S.A. Bobde wondered whether the Aadhaar Act of 2016 itself had any provisions to protect
privacy. Mr. Venugopal then pointed to Section 28 of the statute dealing with security and confidentiality
of information. It was in the States legitimate interest to keep personal data secure as this would make
Aadhaar acceptable to one and all, he submitted.

Justice Rohinton F. Nariman observed that the government had dedicated an entire chapter in the 2016
Act to the protection of privacy and security.

Justice Chandrachud said informational privacy was the most vexed portion of the ongoing debate as
parts of personal data were already in the public domain.

Mr. Venugopal said informational privacy can never be a part of fundamental rights. There was no
informational privacy against compelling state interests and public utility, for which the state can ask for
fingerprints. But again, individuals can refuse if the information sought was totally irrelevant

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Two C-130J aircraft


While the standoff with China continues in Doklam, the Air Force Station at Panagarh in Bardhaman
district of West Bengal has got its first set of the U.S.-made C-130J Super Hercules multi-skilled transport
aircraft.

Two of these aircraft manufactured by Lockheed Martin have arrived recently, while the station named
after Marshal of Air Force Arjan Singh is awaiting the arrival of four more within a month.
The six medium-lift capability C-130Js will complete the first squadron of such aircraft in eastern India.

The giant aircraft are described as one of the finest transport aircraft which can perform many duties
simultaneously.

The fuel-efficient aircraft can carry up to 40 tonnes; can move faster; and provide between crew comfort
than the Ilyushin-76 (IL-76), a Russian-made aircraft the Air Force had been using for a long time.

While the IL-76 could also carry 40 tonnes, it was a fuel guzzler.

The C-130Js will be used by the Special Forces and a division of the Mountain Strike Corps, recently
raised by the Army.

The Corps has two divisions, instead of the usual three, with a strength of 80,000 personnel. One of the
divisions will be stationed at the Panagarh station once it is fully raised.

The first squadron of C-130Js was stationed at the Hindon airbase in Ghaziabad and performed its first
landing exercise in 2013 at the Daulat Beg Oldi military base in Ladakh, adjacent to the Chinese border.

The C-130Js can land on unpaved surfaces, para-drop special forces, and move faster fast with
equipment and goods. It can return quickly to the base to dispatch the next team. Its movement and
manoeuvrability is perhaps the reason the U.S. forces used the transport aircraft extensively in Iraq and
Afghanistan.

Wearable sensor to prevent assault


Manisha Mohans device can alert people nearby with a loud noise or send distress signals to the
smartphones of friends and family.

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An Indian scientist at MIT has developed a sticker-like wearable sensor that can detect sexual assault in
real time and quickly alert the victims friends and family and people nearby.

The sensor, which can be attached to any piece of clothing like a sticker, could be trained to learn the
difference between when a person is undressing themselves and when they are being forcefully
disrobed.

This allows the sensor to detect signs of an assault even when the victim is unconscious or not in the
position to fight the assaulter.

An integrated bluetooth connected to a smartphone app can trigger a loud noise to alert people nearby
and send out a distress signals to pre-set numbers of family members or emergency services. The
sensor works in two modes.

In the passive mode, the wearer is assumed to be conscious and can set off loud alarms or distress calls
on their own by touching a button when they encounter an approaching threat. In the active mode, the
sensor tries to detect signals from the external environment.

For example, if somebody is trying to remove the clothing of a person, a message is sent to the
smartphone asking if the person consents.

If the smartphone user does not respond within 30 seconds, the phone begins to emit a loud noise to
alert people nearby.

If the victim does not stop this alarm using a predefined password within the next 20 seconds, the
smartphone app can automatically send distress signals to family or friends, along with the location of the
victim.

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The ruling coalition in Bihar collapsed with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar submitting his resignation to
Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi, saying indirectly that his tenure was no longer tenable as Tejashwi
Yadav, had not responded to his demand for an explanation.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi immediately hailed Mr. Kumars uncompromising stand on corruption, and
the BharatiyaJanata Party extended support to the JD(U) to form the next government.

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With the JD(U) and the BJP unwilling to face a mid-term poll, the BJP late in the evening handed over to
the Governor a letter extending support to Mr. Kumar.

In all likelihood, Mr. Kumar will take oath as Chief Minister of the National Democratic Alliance
government with the BJP in the new coalition.

However, the RJD indicated it would not give up without a fight. Mr. Tejashwi Yadav tweeted that as the
single largest party, it would also stake claim to form the government.

The Governor accepted the resignation and asked him to continue as the acting CM. According to Mr.
Kumar, he tried his utmost in the last 17 days to find a way out.

Govt says Privacy is a qualified fundamental right


The Centre told the Supreme Court that privacy was indeed a fundamental right, but a wholly qualified
one.

This led a nine-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar to sum up
Attorney-General K.K. Venugopals submission thus: You are saying that right to privacy is a
fundamental right. But not every aspect of it [privacy] is a fundamental right. It depends on a case-to-case
basis.

The acknowledgement from the Centre came after several hours of walking on the very brink of
conceding that right to privacy is a fundamental right.

Earlier, the court kept prodding Mr. Venugopal to make the governments position clear.

At one point, Chief Justice Khehar even said that the reference to the nine-judge Bench could be closed
if the Centre agreed that privacy was a fundamental freedom.

The Attorney General explained to the Bench that the government did not consider privacy to be a single,
homogenous right but rather a sub-species of the fundamental right to personal liberty and consists of
diverse aspects. Not every aspect of privacy is a fundamental right.

Some aspects of privacy were expressly defined in the Constitution, while some were not. Mr. Venugopal
said there was a fundamental right to privacy. But this right is a wholly qualified right.

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Scientists are planning to chase the shadow of the moon using


NASAs research jets
In a first, scientists are planning to chase the shadow of the moon using NASAs research jets during the
upcoming total solar eclipse in the U.S., in order to capture the clearest ever images of the Suns outer
atmosphere.

Amir Caspi of the Southwest Research Institute in the U.S. and his team will use two of NASAs WB-57F
research jets to follow the darkness across the U.S. on August 21.

Taking observations from twin telescopes mounted on the noses of the planes, Mr. Caspi will capture the
clearest images of the Suns corona to date and the first-ever thermal images of Mercury, revealing how
temperature varies across the planets surface.

The total solar eclipse provides a rare opportunity for scientists to study the sun, particularly its
atmosphere.

As the moon completely covers the sun and perfectly blocks its light during an eclipse, the typically faint
corona is easily seen against the dark sky.

The vantage point on th planes provides distinct advantages over ground-based observations,
researchers said.

The corona is heated to millions of degrees, yet the lower atmospheric layers like the photosphere the
visible surface of the sun are only heated to a few thousand degrees. Scientists are not sure how this
inversion happens.

One theory proposes micro explosions, termed nanoflares too small and frequent to detect
individually, but with a large collective effect might release heat into the corona.

No one has yet directly seen nanoflares, but the high-resolution and high-speed images to be taken from
the WB-57F jets might reveal their effects on the corona.

The two planes, launching from Ellington Field near NASAs Johnson Space Center in Houston, will
observe the total eclipse for about three and a half minutes each.

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By flying high in the stratosphere, observations taken with telescopes on board will avoid looking through
the majority of Earths atmosphere, greatly improving image quality.

AYUSH treatment
With questions about the credibility of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and
Homoeopathy (AYUSH) systems of medicine being raised time and again, the Karnataka Health and
Family Welfare

Department has now embarked on the task of validating the treatment methods through documentation
and research.

India admitted to transgression


Chinas Foreign Minister Wang Yi has claimed that the Indian side...admitted to entering Chinese
territory, the first time a top leader of the country has weighed in on the protracted stand-off in the Sikkim
area.

Chinas Foreign Minister Wang Yi has claimed that the Indian side...admitted to entering Chinese
territory, the first time a top leader of the country has weighed in on the protracted stand-off in the Sikkim
area.

It was not clear how the reported comments by the unnamed Indian officials led him to conclude that
India was admitting to border transgression.

It is the first time that such a senior person in the Chinese hierarchy has commented on the dispute,
which has been dominated by shrill rhetoric in the state-owned media with almost daily commentaries
attacking India with nationalistic warnings.
There was no immediate reaction from the Indian government.

The Chinese media commentaries and the Foreign Ministry spokesmen have demanded that India
withdraw its troops from Doklam in the southernmost part of Tibet, in an area also claimed by Bhutan.

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President Ram Nath Kovind:


Indias new President Ram Nath Kovind flagged pluralism and unity in diversity as cornerstones of the
countrys success.

Mr. Kovind said the key to Indias success is its diversity. Our diversity is the core that makes us so
unique.

Nations, were not built by governments alone and required national pride, in the soil and water of the
country, in its diversity and inclusiveness, in its culture and in the little things we do everyday.

Central government may not sell Air Indias stake


The central government may not sell Air Indias domestic and international operations separately.
This might come as a hurdle to low-cost airline IndiGos plan to acquire its international operations.

AIs business cannot be split merely based on an expression of interest from a single private player. If
we sell lucrative assets separately, it will make the divestment of the domestic unit and subsidiaries
tricky.

The governments concern is that Air Indias valuation may further take a hit if it hives off Air India into two
companies and invites bids for its domestic and international operations.

Centre gives 35 names for High Court judges


The Law Ministry has forwarded the names of 35 candidates to the SC collegium for appointment as
judges in five High Courts, as recommended by the HC collegiums of Madras, Kerala, Karnataka,
Jharkhand and Gujarat. The government has forwarded the names following a background check by the
Intelligence Bureau.

It is learnt that most candidates are from the subordinate judiciary. The five HCs had a vacancy of 97
judges as on July 1.

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C.S.Karnan:
Stepping up his effort to get remission of the six-month prison sentence awarded to him by the Supreme
Court for contempt of court, former Calcutta High Court judge C.S. Karnan will appeal to the new
President, Ram Nath Kovind.

Mr. Nedumparalawyer of Karnanalso said that the final draft of the petition to the new President was
prepared. Justice (retd.) Karnan is currently serving the prison sentence at the Presidency Jail in Kolkata
following his arrest from Coimbatore by a Bengal Police team in June.

Inscrutable are the ways of the Almighty. It could be His will that Justice C.S. Karnans be the first
representation which Your Excellency as the President of India [will receive] on the very first day of
assumption of office.

And that too, seeking the exercise of Your Excellencys extraordinary jurisdiction under Article 72 of the
Constitution of India.

Behdienkhllam festival:
Jaintia tribesmen oerform a rituL during the age old Behdienkhllam festival at Tuber village in Meghalaya.
The post sowing ritual is to seek blessings for a good harvest and disease free life.

Udupi Ramachandra Rao:


Udupi Ramachandra Rao, hailed as the father of the Indian satellite programme that started with
Aryabhata, is dead. Dr. Rao, 85, passed away at his Indiranagar home.He was suffering from age-related
health issues.

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Research Organisation and Secretary, Department of Space from 1984 to 1994.

He is the only Indian to be included in the Satellite Hall of Fame of the Society of Satellite Professionals
International, Washington. The hall of fame has the likes of Arthur Clarke and Van Allen.

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Dr. Raos space journey blossomed under the tutelage of Vikram Sarabhai, his doctoral guide and later
boss at ISRO: in 1972, Sarabhai tasked the young Rao fresh from MIT and the only Indian then who
had worked on NASAs Pioneer and Explorer satellite projects with building an Indian satellite.

Then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had come down to see the assembled satellite Aryabhata which
was launched on a Russian rocket in 1975. Indian satellites had started sprouting.
In 1984, Dr. Rao succeeded Satish Dhawan as ISRO Chairman and Secretary, Department of Space..

As the first director of what is now called ISRO Satellite Centre, Dr. Rao was responsible for 18 early
satellites including the landmark Bhaskara, APPLE, the Indian Remote sensing Satellites or IRSs.

As the chairman of overseeing body ADCOS or the Advisory Committee on Space Sciences, he finalised,
shaped, refined or designed the Chandrayaan-1 lunar mission of 2008; the Mars Orbiter Mission of 2013;
and the upcoming Chandrayaan-2 set for 2018. One of the current unfinished projects of the cosmic ray
scientist is Aditya L1 mission Indias upcoming solar observatory, so to say.

Born in Adamaru, near Udupi on March 10, 1932, Dr. Rao is survived by his wife, Yashoda, son Madan
Rao, faculty at the National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bengaluru, and architect-daughter Mala.

BillionAbles app
A Delhi-based start-up has launched a smartphone app that can assist people with special needs to find
disabled-friendly restaurants, tourist locations and other public places across India.

The app, called BillionAbles, is Indias first lifestyle app for persons with disabilities and special needs,
says its founder Sameer Garg.

The app was conceptualised by Mr. Garg and developed by Deepak Kumar, 24, who is a student of
engineering at Kurukshetra University in Haryana.

Users can filter the search results on the basis of features such as step-free access, Braille and sign
language availability or gluten-free food availability.

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Admiralty Bill and Footwear Design and Development Institute


passed:
The Rajya Sabha passed two Bills on jurisdiction and settlement of maritime claims and the Footwear
Design and Development Institute.

The Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims), Bill, 2017, passed by the Lok Sabha in
March, seeks to consolidate the laws relating to admiralty jurisdiction, legal proceedings in connection
with vessels, their arrest, detention, sale and other related matters.

While earlier only the High Courts of Bombay, Calcutta and Madras could take up maritime cases, the Bill
extends the power to the High Courts of Karnataka, Kerala, Hyderabad, Orissa and Gujarat, besides any
other High Courts as notified by the Centre.

The Footwear Design and Development Institute Bill, 2017, as earlier passed by the Lok Sabha, is to
establish it as an institution of national importance. Ms. Sitharaman informed the House that the
programme currently has 12 campuses, of which seven units are already functional.

SC orders urgent medical test of child rape victim


The Supreme Court ordered the medical examination of a 10-year-old rape victim at the Chandigarh
PGIMER on a plea for termination of her 26-week-old pregnancy.

The law only allows abortion within 20 weeks of pregnancy. The exception is when the pregnancy will be
a danger to the health and life of the mother or if the foetus is found to be abnormal. The courts usually
depend on the verdict of the medical board examining the victim.

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar directed the medical board to examine whether the
health of the victim would be adversely affected if the pregnancy is allowed to continue.

The court entrusted the Chandigarh Legal Services Authority to make all the facilities required for the
victim and a parent to have the medical examination done on July 26. The court fixed the matter for
hearing on July 28.

Banking Regulation Bill


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Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley introduced the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2017, in the
Lok Sabha.

The Bill seeks to authorise the RBI to resolve the problem of stressed assets, even as the Opposition
demanded that it be sent to a standing committee for scrutiny.

The Bill seeks to amend the Banking Regulation Act, 1949, and replace the Banking Regulation
(Amendment) Ordinance promulgated in May.

It allows the RBI to open an insolvency resolution process in respect of specific stressed assets. The RBI
will also be empowered to issue directives for resolution and appoint authorities or committees to advise
the banking companies on stressed asset resolution.

UNICEF ambassador
Actor Amitabh Bachchan will continue to act as goodwill ambassador for UNICEF for another two years.

He will promote awareness of measles and rubella vaccines.PTI

First-ever film appreciation course commences in Kashmir


The strife-torn Kashmir Valley witnessed the opening of a film appreciation course in Srinagar, a
collaborative effort between the Pune-based Film and Television Institute of India and the University of
Kashmir.
The five-day programme is being held in association with the varsity's Media Education Research Centre.

President says institutions are for debate, discussion and not for
disruptions
Bidding farewell to Parliament at a function to mark the end of his tenure, President Pranab Mukherjee
said that the institution was for debate, discussion and dissent.

Disruptions, he said, hurt the Opposition as it took away from it the opportunity to raise peoples
concerns.

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He had a word of advice for the government too: Ordinances should be resorted to only in compelling
circumstances.

On Ordinances issued on pressing issues when Parliament is not in session Mr. Mukherjee said it
should not be resorted to in matters being considered for discussion (in Parliament).

The Presidents remark is significant as the Modi government, after repeatedly failing to amend the
Enemy Property Act, 1968 in the last three years, had promulgated five ordinances.

The Bill was passed by Parliament in March. Senior Union Ministers were reportedly deputed to convince
the President to sign the fourth and fifth Enemy Property ordinances as he was against their
promulgation.

The passage of the GST Bill, he said, was a sign of Parliaments maturity. Its launch on July 1 was a
shining example of cooperative federalism.

He said values like fraternity, dignity and unity had become the lodestar for the country since
Independence.

Former Chairman of UIDAI has mooted a new data protection


Nandan Nilekani has mooted a new data protection and empowerment law to ensure that individuals
have control over their data and can ask service providers to return the data stored with them.

Acknowledging that privacy issues currently being considered by a nine-judge Supreme Court Bench are
important, he said the larger issue is to get citizens to use their own data more effectively.

Mr Nilekani also backed Chinas approach of compelling companies to host Chinese users data within
the country, instead of overseas.

Mr. Nilekani said India must have a strategic policy position on data-related issues, specifically on
national security and data colonisation, privacy and a new anti-competitive paradigm where the winner
takes it all.

GST system has a dedicated round-the-clock security operations


command centre
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The Goods and Services Tax (GST) system is not exposed directly to the Internet and has a dedicated
round-the-clock security operations command centre in its network against cyberthreats, the government
has told the Rajya Sabha.

To a question, the government said that any interaction with the system was only through APIs. It had a
multi-layered security architecture and had operational segregation through use of a virtual local area
network.

There was segregation of duties, least privilege access principles, Internet Protocol (IP) filtering and
blocking of rogue IPs, resiliency at each layer, secure coding practices ensuring security of GST software
development throughout Software Development Lifecycle, and at-rest and in-transit data encryption.

The data sharing mechanism ensures that any data transfer from the GST system is in encrypted format.

The system banks on thorough security testing and full-system vulnerability assessment and penetration
testing of IT infrastructure, besides the apps used licensed tools and customised scripts, said the
government.

According to the CERT-In, a total of 44,679, 49,455, 50,362 and 27,482 cybersecurity incidents were
observed during 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 (till June), respectively.

The types of cybersecurity incidents include phishing, scanning/probing, website intrusions and
defacements, virus/malicious code, targeted attacks, ATM malware, ransomware and denial of service
attacks among other threats.

The government had taken a series of measures to strengthen the cybersecurity infrastructure.

All financial institutions had been advised by CERT-In, through the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to
conduct an audit by empanelled auditors on a priority basis and take immediate steps accordingly.

All organisations providing digital payment services have been mandated to report cyber security
incidents to CERT-In expeditiously.

The government has also formulated a Cyber Crisis Management Plan for countering cyber attacks for
implementation by all ministries and departments.

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Till now, CERT-In has conducted 15 drills involving 148 organisations from different sectors to identify
and plug the loopholes.

Govt yet to give sanction to a dedicated organisation dealing with


naval accidents
The Union government is yet to give formal sanction to a dedicated organisation for dealing with naval
accidents despite a series of accidents involving submarines and ships and loss of several lives.

An audit by the Comptroller and Auditor-General also says a series of missteps led to the deadly 2013
accident in a submarine off Mumbai in which 18 people were killed.

The explosion aboard INS Sindhurakshak and its sinking off Mumbai coast in August 2013 resulted from
a series of missteps, the audit report says.

The audit found that many recommendations of the inquiries into naval accidents had not been
implemented.

This included installation of smoke and fire detectors in all compartments of submarines and procurement
of extended line breathing apparatus (ELBA) sets, carbon composite submarine breathing apparatus
(SBA), light weight breathing sets for submarines etc.

The idea of creating an Indian Navy Safety Organisation was mooted first in 2006 and ultimately
promulgated in October 2012, the audit says. It was set up in February 2014, though it is yet to be
sanctioned by Government, the audit said.

From 2007-08 to 2015-16, a total number of 38 accidents occurred, which led to a loss of 33 lives of
service officers and sailors. The Navy lost two ships ( INS Vindhyagiri and TRV A-72 ) and one
submarine ( INS Sindhurakshak ) in these accidents.

Of these accidents, the highest of 12 occurred during 2013-14, followed by six in 2007-08, five in 2014-15
and four each in 2008-09 and 2009-10.

NSA's visit to China shows promise of resolving Doklam area

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In a shift from the harsh rhetoric of the past weeks, Chinese state media hoped that next weeks visit to
China by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval will help end the Doklam crisis and advance China-India
ties.

Mr. Ma is a veteran academic, who has been engaged in Track-2 diplomacy with India following former
Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhis visit to Beijing in 1988. Mr. Doval will participate in a two-day BRICS event
starting on July 27.

The NSAs visit will be key to solving the current dispute and if the two sides failed to reach some
agreement on the issue, the China-India ties would be severely damaged.

The daily prefaced the anticipation of Mr. Dovals visit by slamming remarks by BJP leader R.K. Singh,
who had reportedly opposed changing the status quo in Doklam, on grounds that it would endanger
India's vital interests.

The focus on enhancing communication echoes recent observations by former National Security Adviser
Shivshankar Menon. In a recent interview with The Hindu , Mr. Menon stressed that India and China
since the 80s been rubbing up against each other in the periphery we share.

Most economies, including those in the West, will find themselves negatively affected by an India-China
war in a globalised and intertwined world today, it observed.

The only beneficiaries (of a conflict), sadly, will be opportunists, short-sighted nationalist politicians who
don't really have the people's interests in heart. And the dream of an Asian century would become a puff
of wind.

Personal data is an integral part of ones dignity and life


Personal data is an integral part of ones dignity and life, the Centre told the Supreme Court.

Any sharing of personal data by service providers or social media platforms, which impinges on a
persons right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution, requires regulation, the government submitted.

The Bench is hearing a petition filed by students led by Karmanya Singh Sareen alleging that a
contract entered into between Facebook and instant messaging platform WhatsApp in 2016 was a
violation of the citizens right to privacy.

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This data includes photographs, messages and pictures shared by users on WhatsApp.

Data is an extension of personality. It is a reflection of ones footsteps in life. There cannot be an


individual without personality. There would be a need for states intervention if any contract infringed
upon the data as it affects my right to life, Centre said.

He added that a regulatory mechanism was in the works to protect people from personal data leaks
online.

However, this stand taken by the Centre in the WhatsApp case does not quite gel with its position before
a nine-judge Constitution Bench, led by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar, currently examining whether
privacy is a fundamental right with respect to Aadhaar.

Chinas response to the Doklam situation is not unprecedented


Chinas response to the standoff with India has been rare and can be compared with the strong reaction
from Beijing in the aftermath of the 1975 induction of Sikkim into India, said former Shivshankar Menon.

Speaking to a select group of foreign affairs reporters, he said that Indias response was justified but said
China had not overreacted either.

Chinas response to the Doklam situation is not unprecedented in bilateral history. A similar response
came from Beijing in the aftermath of the induction of Sikkim into India in 1975, he said.

India had integrated Sikkim on May 16, 1975 but China rejected the integration and finally recognised
Sikkim as a part of India in 2003 during the visit of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Beijing.

However, following the recent standoff, China had raked up the issue of Sikkim indicating that it might
reverse the recognition it bestowed in 2003.

Mr. Menon said Indias response was justified as it concerned its strategic interests. But he played down
the hyper-nationalist tone of the English media in Beijing which had repeatedly targeted India and
reminded Delhi of the humiliating defeat of 1962.

Government would soon introduce a Detention Bill

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Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar told the Lok Sabha on Friday that the
government would soon introduce a Detention Bill.

Detention Bill is also about to come. We should not have the situation that the Pratham report on
students from Classes 5 to 8 shows. For this, learning outcomes that are expected of students in each of
the classes have been defined, he said.

There will be exams in March for Classes 5 and 8. If the student fails in March, he will be given another
chance to pass in May. For the student who fails in May too, govt will soon have a Bill to provide for
detention.

The UPA government had introduced a no-detention policy till Class 8 and the Bill seeks to change the
law.

Following global leaks, Govt detected over Rs. 19,000 crore in


black money
Following investigations into global leaks, the Income Tax department has detected over Rs. 19,000
crore in black money, including with HSBC account holders in Switzerland, the government said.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said investigations into info put into the public domain by the International
Consortium of Investigative Journalists, pertaining to about 700 Indians.

It was allegedly linked to offshore entities have led to detection of more than Rs. 11,010 crore of credits
in undisclosed foreign accounts.

Seventytwo complaints in 31 such cases have been filed before the criminal courts, he informed the Lok
Sabha.

Landmark India-Japan civil nuclear agreement came into force


The landmark India-Japan civil nuclear agreement came into force. Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar
exchanged the diplomatic notes with the Japanese envoy to India to formalise the completion of the
process.

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The India-Japan Agreement for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy entered into force
on July 20, 2017 with the exchange of diplomatic notes between Dr. S. Jaishankar and Ambassador of
Japan to India.

The pact was signed in Tokyo during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Japan on November
11, 2016.

This Agreement is a reflection of the strategic partnership between India and Japan and will pave the way
for enhanced cooperation in energy security and clean energy.

It seeks to promote full cooperation between the two countries in the development and uses of nuclear
energy for peaceful purposes on a stable, reliable and predictable basis.

The deal is essential for bringing a network of nuclear energy cooperation for India, especially with the
U.S. as prominent American nuclear companies are owned by the Japanese nuclear majors like Toshiba.

More than half of all People Living with HIV now have access to
HIV treatment
For the first time since the global onset of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the scales have tipped in favour of
patients. The latest UNAIDS report reveals that more than half of all People Living with HIV (PLHIV) now
have access to HIV treatment.

Further, globally AIDS-related deaths have almost halved since 2005.

As of last year, 19.5 million of the 36.7 million HIV+ patients had access to treatment. Deaths caused by
AIDS have fallen from 1.9 million in 2005 to 1 million in 2016.

The bad news is that the majority of the cases nearly 95 per cent of the cases in 2016 were
concentrated in just 10 countries, India being one of them.

India has 2.1 million people living with HIV, with 80,000 new infections annually, as of 2016. In 2005, the
annual incidence was 1,50,000 people.

While the world seems to be on track to reach the global target of 30 million people on treatment by
2020, access to medicines remains a major barrier and India plays a special role.

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The report states that although important progress has been made in improving access to medicines for
people living with HIV, insufficient availability and poor affordability of essential medicines in low- and
middle-income countries remain major barriers.

Actions focused on the intersections between intellectual property rights, innovation, and public health
are vitally important for resolving market failures in medicine development and manufacture, unmet
needs for research and development, and pricing.

This is especially true in light of the concentration of the generic pharmaceutical industry in India, and the
global AIDS responses continued reliance on the Indian industry, which supplied nearly 90% of
antiretroviral medicines in low- and middle-income countries in 2015.

The report, Ending AIDS: Progress towards the 909090 target, is the annual scorecard for progress.

In 2016, 1.8 million people became infected with HIV. While this is a drastic decline from the peak of the
epidemic in 1997 when 3.2 million got infected, experts maintain that since 2010, the decline in new
infections has only been 16%.

Going by this trend, the global target of reducing the figure to 500,000 a year by 2020 adopted as a
global target by UNAIDS in 2013 seems unattainable.

The idea behind the 90-90-90 target is to diagnose 90% of people who are HIV positive; get 90% of the
diagnosed HIV+ people on antiretroviral treatment, and 90% of those on antiretrovirals should be virally
suppressed.

This is attained when an HIV+ patients viral load reaches an undetectable level, curbing transmission.

Ram Nath Kovind declared elected as Indias 14th President


Ram Nath Kovind was declared elected as Indias 14th President polling 65.6% of the vote defeating the
Oppositions joint candidate, former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, who secured 34% of the vote.

Mr. Kovind will be the second Dalit President of India after late President K.R. Narayanan but, more
significantly, the first from politically significant Uttar Pradesh and the first person from the BJP to hold the
office of President since Independence.

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The total number of MPs and MLAs who cast their votes was 4851, bearing a combined value of
1090300. However, with 77 votes being declared invalid 21 from Parliament alone the total number
of valid votes was 4774, bearing a combined value of 1069358.

Mr. Kovind polled 2930 of these votes bearing a value of 702044 and Ms. Kumar 1844 votes
with a value of 367314.

The value of each vote of an MP was 708. Among the States, each vote in Uttar Pradesh had the highest
value of 208, while each vote from Sikkim had the lowest value of seven.

Mr. Kovind got the highest number of votes 335 from U.P. and the lowest just 1 from Kerala. Ms.
Kumar secured the highest number of votes 273 from West Bengal and drew a blank in Andhra
Pradesh.

The polling was marked by cross-voting in various States where many Opposition members favoured Mr.
Kovind. According to figures available, cross-voting took place in Gujarat, Tripura, Goa, Delhi and
Maharashtra in favour of Mr. Kovind.

As many as 11 Congress MLAs appeared to have voted for Mr. Kovind in Gujarat, a State which is to go
for Assembly polls at the end of the year.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was one of the first to wish the President-elect, tweeting out pictures taken
20 years ago at a wedding in Mr. Kovinds family and a more recent one with Mr. Kovind and his family at
the prime ministerial residence, 7, Lok Kalyan Marg.

China always has zero tolerance towards sovereignity issues


Chinas insistence on the withdrawal of Indian troops from the Doklam plateau as a precondition for
negotiations is consistent with its position on Tibet, Taiwan or the South China Sea areas of hyper-
sensitivity where
Beijing perceives that its territorial sovereignty is at stake.

Chinese Foreign Ministry over the past week has adopted a similar unbending position on Tibet,
embodied in the proposed visit of the Dalai Lama to Botswana, as well as the moves by the United States
to reopen naval port calls with Taiwan.

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Predictably, Indonesias cartographic dalliance, by renaming a portion of the South China Sea as North
Natuna Sea, has also drawn Beijings ire.

Asked to comment on Botswanas invitation to Dalai Lama next month, the Chinese Foreign Ministry
warned that the government in Gaborone must correct its decision.

Last year, Mongolias decision to welcome the Dalai Lama in Ulan Bator resulted in Bejings decision to
impose stringent trade restrictions on its unequal neighbour.

China perceives any encouragement to the Dalai Lama by foreign powers or military or political support
to Taiwan as a challenge to its One China policy a clear and unambiguous no-go area.

Consequently, Beijing had frowned on remarks by Pema Khandu, Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh
questioning the One-China policy during the Dalai Lamas visit to Arunachal Pradesh in April.

China slammed the US, following the passage of the NDAA by the House of Congress, which asks the
U.S. Defence Secretary to look into the feasibility of re-establishing port calls between the U.S. and
Taiwanese navies.

China has also raised the red flag on Indonesias decision to issue a new official map renaming a part of
the South China Sea (SCS) as the North Natuna Sea.

Government plans to introduce a universal social security


network for workers
Union government plans to introduce a universal social security network for workers in both the informal
and formal sectors. The scheme will be rolled out in a phased manner.

Govt said that after demonetisation, the Ministry had started an enrolment campaign, and from January 1
to June 30, the government brought in an amnesty scheme for employers who were earlier not part of the
Provident Fund regime.

During the exercise, the workers employed from April 2009 to December 2016 were also included. More
than 1.3 crore new workers were brought under the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) regime.

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Mr. Dattatreya said 20 lakh new employees were included as part of the amnesty scheme and 80 lakh
contract labourers, including construction workers and those engaged by the public sector units at the
Centre and the States, were also registered.

The Labour Minister said the EPF security network currently covered 4.8 crore contributory members and
had a corpus of over Rs. 10.43 lakh crore.

However, some members including Sanjay Seth and Naresh Agarwal (SP) were not satisfied with the
Ministers reply to a question about a proposal to lower the employees and the employers contribution
from the present 12% to 10%.

Ananda Bhaskar Rapolu raised the issue of IT sector employees, stating that there was no
superannuation fund in the country and EPF alone was the support for the employees who were retiring
or getting terminated.

Mr. Dattatreya said the law might confine to wages of those who had got a ceiling of Rs. 15,000, for that
EPFO eligibility would be there.

Apart from that, the government would provide social security to IT workers and also IT employers. Loan,
PF, Pension, everything would be protected under wages safeguards.

Govt said it was sensitive towards the problem of suicides among


the farmers
The government said it was sensitive towards the problem of suicides among the farmers as the
Opposition slammed it over the issue in the Lok Sabha.

Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh insisted that the number of suicides by the farmers have come
down in the last two comparative years of 2015 and 2016.

Citing figures of the National Crimes Record Bureau (NCRB), he said in 2015, the number of suicide
cases was 12,602 which declined to 11,458 in the successive year.

In an apparent attack on the previous government, he said that farmers plight would not have worsened
had the earlier dispensations taken the right steps.

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9 Judge bench to decide whether privacy is a fundamental human


right
A nine-judge Bench of the Supreme Court will hear the question whether privacy is a fundamental human
right and is part of the basic structure of the Constitution

The nine judges will be Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar, Justices J. Chelameswar, S.A. Bobde, R.K.
Agrawal, Rohinton Fali Nariman, A.M. Sapre, D.Y. Chandrachud, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and S. Abdul
Nazeer.

The decision taken by a five-judge Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice Khehar is on the basis of a
bunch of petitions contending that the Aadhaar scheme, is a violation of the citizens right to privacy.

The petitioners have argued that right to privacy is part of Article 21, the right to life, and interspersed in
Article 19, though not explicitly stated in the Constitution.

Two judgments of the Supreme Court the M.P. Sharma case verdict pronounced by an eight-judge
Bench in 1954 shortly after the Constitution came into force in 1950 and the Kharak Singh case verdict of
1962 by a six-judge Bench had dominated the judicial dialogue on privacy since Independence.

Both judgments had concluded that privacy was not a fundamental or guaranteed right.

Though smaller Supreme Court Benches have, over the years, differed and held that privacy is indeed
basic to our Constitution and a fundamental right, the arithmetical supremacy of the MP Sharma and
Kharak Singh cases continues to hold fort.

Now, by forming a Bench of nine judges, Chief Justice Khehars Supreme Court has decided to
determine once and for all whether privacy is negotiable or not. The nine-judge Bench seeks to bring a
quietus to the divergent judicial pronouncements of the past.

We have to first determine whether right to privacy is a fundamental right or not before going into the
issue (on the constitutionality of the Aadhaar scheme), Chief Justice Khehar observed.

China says India should not use Doklam area as a policy tool

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India should not use trespass into the Doklam area as a policy tool to achieve its political targets,
China said. It asked India to immediately withdraw its troops.

The Foreign Ministry said it was in close communication with foreign missions in Beijing, but refused to
confirm whether it held any special briefing for them.

Since the illegal trespass by Indian troops, many foreign diplomats in China felt shocked and [wanted] to
confirm whether it was true, spokesman Lu Kang said.

Bleaching has damaged the worlds northernmost coral reef


Bleaching has damaged the worlds northernmost coral reef in Japan, a researcher said, the latest
example of a global phenomenon scientists have attributed to high ocean temperatures.

Healthy coral reefs protect shores from storms and offer habitats for fish and other marine life, including
ecologically and economically important species.

After coral dies, reefs quickly degrade and the structures that coral build erode. While coral can recover
from mild bleaching, severe or long-term episodes are often lethal, experts say.

About 30% of the coral reef off the coast of Tsushima island in Japan, which lies in the temperate zone
some 1,000 km southwest of Tokyo, suffered bleaching when Hiroya Yamanos research team observed
the area last December.

Since 2015, all tropical coral reefs have seen above-normal temperatures, and more than 70%
experienced prolonged high temperatures that can cause bleaching.

Early in 2017, the rise in water temperature caused significant bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef in
Australia for the second consecutive year and also in American Samoa, which was severely affected in
2015.

countrysw
orkaholicculture.
be easing after the three years of high ocean temperatures, the longest such period since the 1980s.

Its experts said satellite data showed widespread bleaching was no longer occurring in all three ocean
basins Atlantic, Pacific and Indian indicating a likely end to the global bleaching event.

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Strong winds in eastern Antarctica are causing ice to melt


Strong winds in eastern Antarctica are causing ice to melt in the west Antarctic peninsula, located as far
away as 6,000 km, according to a study.

The study found that winds in east Antarctica can generate sea disturbances that spread around the
continent at 700 kmph via a type of ocean wave known as the Kelvin wave, reports Efe news.

The study comes a week after it was revealed that one of the largest icebergs, of around 5,800 sq.km.,
had broke off from the Larsen C ice shelf of the Antarctic peninsula.

According to the study, when the waves encounter the underwater topography of the peninsula they push
the warmer water toward the ice along the coast, near the warm current that goes around the South Pole.

It is this combination of available warm water offshore, and a transport of this warm water onto the shelf,
that has seen rapid ice shelf melt along the West Antarctic sector over the past several decades.

Mr. Spence underlined the implications that small rises in temperature could have on the ice sheets and
warned that the melting in western Antarctica could contribute to an increase in the sea level by a metre
by the end of the century, at the current rate of emissions.

Centre says Supreme Court should look into special status to


Jammu and Kashmir
The Centre asked the Supreme Court to debate on the special status granted to the State of Jammu and
Kashmir, saying it was both a sensitive and constitutional matter.

It is a very sensitive matter. It is a constitutional issue. A debate is required, Attorney General K.K.
Venugopal submitted before a Bench led by Chief Justice J.S. Khehar.

The top law officer said We the Citizens, contending that the J&K government, given the States special
autonomous status under Articles 35A and 370, was discriminatory against non-residents as far as
government jobs and real estate purchases were concerned.

The Bench agreed to schedule the case before a three-judge Bench after six weeks.

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The hearing comes in the backdrop of an earlier Jammu and Kashmir High Court, which ruled that Article
370 assumed a place of permanence in the Constitution and the feature was beyond amendment, repeal
or abrogation.

The court said Article 35A gave protection to existing laws in force in the State.

It also observed that the President under Article 370 (1) was conferred with power to extend any
provision of the Constitution to the State with such exceptions and modifications as may be deemed fit
subject to consultation or concurrence with the State government.

The High Court said J&K, while acceding to the Dominion of India, retained limited sovereignty and did
not merge with it.

Government said no to grace period for depositing demonetised


notes
The Centre told the Supreme Court that it took a conscious decision to not give any grace period for
citizens to deposit their demonetised notes after the cut-off date of December 30, 2016.
Doing so would have defeated the very purpose of demonetisation, the government said.

It was replying to the Supreme Courts appeal to open a window for genuine people, like the terminally ill
and invalids, to name a few, who were unable to deposit their demonetised Rs. 1,000 and Rs. 500 notes
between November 9 and December 30 last year.

Noting that these people had over 51 days to deposit and exchange their old notes for the new currency
through multiple outlets.

The NDA government said now there exists no necessity or any justifiable reason to provide them a
grace period till December 30, 2017, as many petitioners have sought in a bunch of petitions.

Telangana State will have eco-friendly bridges across Tiger


corridor

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In a first of its kind, Telangana State will have eco-friendly bridges over a canal cutting across the tiger
corridor linking the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) with the forests in Telangana's Kumram
Bheem Asifabad district.

The intervention requires the laying of fertile soil to grow grass and plants over the structure, so that
fragmentation of the reserve forest is camouflaged.

The eco-bridges will be constructed at key spots along the 72 km-long, and at some places over a
kilometre wide, right flank canal of the Pranahita barrage in the Bejjur and Dahegaon mandals.

One of the locations tentatively earmarked for the eco-bridge is a spot close to Sulgupalli in the Bejjur
forest range. Here, the canal is over a kilometre wide and the need to facilitate the movement of wild
animals is quite necessary.

The concept emerged after visits by experts from the Wildlife Board of India and the Wildlife Institute of
India.

They were concerned about the large-scale destruction of pristine forest along the corridor, which would
result in cutting off tiger movement between TATR and Bejjur.

The Telangana Irrigation Department has given its consent for the construction of the eco-bridges.
Recommendations on the size and locations of the bridges are awaited from the National Board of
Wildlife.

In recent years, big cats from the TATR have ambled into the mixed and bamboo forests of the Bejjur
range via the Sirpur forests.

The TATR and its buffer area, which are contiguous with the Sirpur forests, boast of a speedily
multiplying tiger population, the cause of the frequent migration of tigers into Sirpur and Bejjur.

Policy on GM mustard crop yet to be finalised


The government informed the Supreme Court that a policy decision on the commercial release of the
Genetically Modified (GM) mustard crop is yet to be finalised.

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The Centre said it was poring through the various suggestions on and objections to the commercial
rollout of the GM crops.

A Bench, led by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, granted the
government one week to report back on when the policy would be finalised. It said the policy should be
good-intentioned and well-informed.

The court had on October 17, 2016, extended the stay on the commercial release of the GM mustard
until further orders. It had asked the Centre to collect public opinion before the release.

The government had assured the court that there would be no commercial release of GM seeds till the
views of the public were collected and placed before the appraisal committee.

The hearing was conducted on the basis of a petition filed by activist Aruna Rodrigues, who had alleged
that the government was sowing GM seeds without the relevant tests.

Mustard is one of Indias most important winter crops, sown between mid-October and late November.

Indonesia named part of South China Sea as North Natuna Sea


Indonesia has named waters in its exclusive economic zone that overlap with Chinas expansive claim to
the South China Sea as the North Natuna Sea, an assertion of sovereignty that has angered Beijing.

The decision has been in the works since mid-2016 and was vital to law enforcement at sea and securing
Indonesias exclusive economic zone, said Arif Havas Oegroseno, the deputy Minister for Maritime
Sovereignty.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said the so-called change of name makes no sense at all.

China claims most of the South China Sea, putting it in dispute with many southeast Asian nations, and
has carried out extensive land reclamation and construction on reefs and atolls to bolster its claims.

Philipppines also has claims to the South China Sea. But Filipino officials behind an arbitration case in
which the Philippines won a resounding victory over China last year are expressing alarm that Beijing
continues to defy the decision.

Scientists developed super-stretchy and strong artificial silk


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Scientists from the University of Cambridge have developed super-stretchy and strong artificial silk,
composed almost entirely of water, which may be used to make eco-friendly textiles and sensors.

The fibres, which resemble miniature bungee cords as they can absorb large amounts of energy, are
sustainable, non-toxic and can be made at room temp. The fibres are spun from a soupy material called a
hydrogel, which is 98% water.

The remaining 2% of the hydrogel is made of silica and cellulose, both naturally available materials, held
together in a network by barrel-shaped molecular handcuffs known as cucurbiturils.

The chemical interactions between the different components enable long fibres to be pulled from the gel.

The extremely thin threads are a few millionths of a metre in diameter. After the hydrogel is stretched for
roughly 30 seconds, the water evaporates, leaving a strong fibre.

The fibres are capable of self-assembly at room temperature, and are held together by supramolecular
host, where atoms share electrons.

US has approved sale of 22 Guardian maritime surveillance UAV


to India
An American approval for the sale of 22 Guardian maritime surveillance has come Indias way, but
defence sources say the actual deal is a long way off as New Delhi is evaluating the options available.

Government-to-government discussions were under way but declined to put any timeline as to when it
could be concluded. There was much speculation that the deal, likely between $2-2.5 billion, would be
announced during PM Modis visit.

The Navy currently operates Israeli Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAVs and is keen on
acquiring High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) to augment its maritime surveillance capabilities.

The other option is to go for Israeli HALE drones, which India is quite familiar with. Last year, the Navy
asked General Atomics for the details of the Guardian, following which company officials made
presentations on its capabilities.

PM targets corruption and cow vigilantes during all party meeting


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Opposition leaders expressed concern over the Sino-Indian stand-off, expressing the hope that the
matter would be resolved soon. They also expressed concern over the disturbed situation in Kashmir.

Farm distress and the economic burdens on the people were also taken up. Opposition leaders took
up the issue of recent attacks on minorities and Dalits.

The issue of cow vigilantism and political corruption apart, Mr. Modi commended both sides on the
dignified nature of the presidential campaign, adding that it would have been good if a consensus had
been arrived at.

Mr. Modi also called upon all parties to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Quit India movement, which
falls on August 9.

South Asia policy of US to be unveiled soon


The Trump administration is likely to unveil its South Asia policy in the coming weeks, said MaryKay L.
Carlson, U.S. Charge DAffaires to India.

Ms. Carlson said the South Asia policy was currently under review by the U.S. National Security Adviser
H.R. McMaster.

The review is likely to include the United States position on its relations with India, Pakistan and
Afghanistan, though Ms. Carlson refused to elaborate.

Under the Trump administration, the U.S.-India ties had catapulted to a faster growth trajectory and was
positive.

U.S. House of Representatives passed a Bill worth about $ 621.5 billion that will enable increased
cooperation with India in the defence sector.

The House adopted an amendment to the National Defence Authorisation Act 2018, which now needs to
get the U.S. Presidents assent. The Bill was passed with a majority of 344-81.

Ms. Carlson said this was indicative of bipartisan support [for India] across our government and every
aspect whether it is the legislative branch, the executive branch, and among the American people with
India.

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To a query on Prime Minister Narendra Modis recent visit to Israel, Ms. Carlson said the visit exceeded
expectations, certainly on the U.S. side.

Monsoon session of parliament to start with focus on China and


Kashmir
The Opposition will demand discussions on both the border stand-off with China and the deteriorating
situation in Kashmir in the monsoon session of Parliament, though its floor leaders were called for an
official briefing.

Opposition leaders said their attendance at the meeting should not be interpreted as acquiescence in
what the government has done so far on these two critical issues concerning national security.

While the Opposition intends to flag several other subjects for discussion including farmers distress,
the economic fallout of demonetisation, and the implementation of GST China and Kashmir will
continue to be on the table.

Mr. Sharma also said that Opposition leaders were yet to receive a satisfactory explanation on why the
Amarnath yatris killed in a terror attack recently were allowed to travel after 7 p.m., when security cover is
withdrawn.

Flagging the subjects of farmers distress and of the misuse of governors by the Modi government, he
said his party also wants a discussion on mob lynching.

Maharashtra to elect the sarpanchs directly


Despite growing protests from rival political parties against its move to facilitate direct election of
sarpanches, the BJP-led State government will issue an ordinance for amending the Maharashtra Gram
Panchayat Act, 1958.

The proposal to issue the ordinance was forwarded to the Governor by State government on Saturday,
citing urgency in view of elections to 7,000 gram sabhas.

On July 3, the State cabinet cleared a proposal to amend the Maharashtra Gram Panchayat Act, 1958 to
pave way for direct elections of sarpanches to gram sabhas.

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The decision came under attack by the Opposition, who alleged it was an attempt by the BJP to wrest
extra-constitutional power in the the third tier of government.

Senior officials said the ordinance route was taken as the Election Commission of Indias (ECI) model
code of conduct may come into force by July 31 for the September elections.

The EC will also have to increase the number of electronic voting machines (EVM) to facilitate direct
election of sarpanches. Officials said the government cannot wait for an approval from the Assembly.

As many as 20 sections of the Act have been amended to allow direct election of sarpanches by votes
cas by villagers, instead of a college of gram sabha members.

The amendments, which were to be tabled in the next Assembly session, will also provide constitutional
protection to the sarpanch against impeachment.

Now, a no-confidence motion cannot be moved against the sarpanch without the approval of two-thirds of
the members. It also requires to be passed by a three-fourths majority. Earlier, a motion could be moved
if one-third of members supported it.

Once passed, the motion will need final ratification by the gram sabha. If rejected, it cannot be tabled for
two years. The deputy sarpanch will continue to be elected by gram panchayat members.

The RDDs proposal was moved under the 73rd Amendment to the Constitution of India, made in the
1990s.

Back then, the 11th schedule of the amendment had empowered State governments to enact laws to
give powers and authority to the panchayats to enable them as local governments.

Govt assured all party that solution for Chinese problem would
be found
The government told an all-party meeting of MPs that China was trying to extend its control further down
the Doklam trijunction in an effort to gain a strategic advantage over Chickens Neck in Siliguri, West
Bengal, which connects India to the rest of the Northeast.

The government assured the parliamentarians that there would no flexing of muscles and a solution

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would be reached through dialogue.

The meet was to clear doubts on the ongoing standoff with the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army at the
Doklam trijunction near Sikkim.

With the help of satellite maps, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar made a presentation before 19 MPs that
Indian troops were engaged in a face-off with the PLA in

Doklam near the Sikkim-Bhutan-China trijunction.

Mr. Jaishankar told the MPs who attended the three-hour meeting that apart from diplomacy, other
channels were also being used to end the standoff and India is insisting that the pre-June 16 condition is
reached at Doklam.

Second phase of operation clean money to come soon


The Income Tax Department has, in the second phase of Operation Clean Money, identified 5.56 lakh
people, whose deposits during the demonetisation window do not match their income profile.

Another 1.04 lakh persons, who did not disclose all bank accounts during e-verification in the first phase,
have been identified. In the first phase, 17.92 lakh persons had been identified.

The statement added that all taxpayers so identified would be informed via email or SMS and that they
can view the relevant information on the e-filing portal https://incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in.

The taxpayer will be able to submit online explanation without any need to visit Income Tax office. All
identified persons are being informed through Email and SMS for submitting response online, the
statement added.

These are persons whose tax profiles were found to be inconsistent with the cash deposits made by
them during the demonetisation period, the official statement said.

Malabar 2017, involving India, the U.S. and Japan, is strategically


very important

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The trilateral Naval exercise, Malabar 2017, involving India, the U.S. and Japan, is strategically very
important and meant to maintain the rule of law and maritime security in the region, Japanese
Ambassador to India, Kenji Hiramatsu said.

Mr Hiramatsu said, This is very significant politically and [of] very symbolic value that the three countries
are working together to safeguard the rule of law and maritime security in this region.

The Ambassador said his countrys relations with India had a solid base, for safeguarding peace and
stability in the Indo-Pacific region adding that there could be more exchanges involving ground and air
forces and an exchange of personnel in various areas.

On whether India and Japan would take up specific pilot projects in Africa, the Ambassador said there
was a good win-win situation.

On the next steps in the on the civil nuclear agreement, signed between the two countries last year, given
the Diets approval of the pact recently, the Ambassador expressed the hope that there would be
discussion in due course of time.

Mr. Hiramatsu said the political situation was stable in India and this was one of the attractions for
Japanese investors. The Ambassador added that Japanese investors in India were very happy with roll
out of the GST.

SC wants centre to decide on NRIs voting within a week


The Supreme Court asked the Centre to decide within a week whether it would amend the electoral law
or rules for allowing Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) to vote through postal or e-ballots in elections here.

A bench comprising Chief Justice J.S. Khehar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud took note of the fact that
the Centre and ECI were agreeable to allowing NRIs to vote as suggested in the report of a panel
headed by Deputy Election Commissioner Vinod Zutshi.

The poll panel had said the move to allow NRIs to use proxy voting on the lines of defence personnel and
e-ballot facility would require changes either in the

Representation of the People Act or in the rules made under the Act.

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Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for one of the petitioners, said NRIs could be given the right to
vote by making changes in the rules and there was no need to amend the provisions of the RP Act.

The bench posted a batch of petitions filed by Nagender Chindam, chairman of London-based Pravasi
Bharat organisation and other NRIs, for further hearing on July 21.

Cook Islands has created one of the worlds largest marine


sanctuaries
The Cook Islands has created one of the worlds largest marine sanctuaries, protecting a vast swathe of
the Pacific Ocean more than three times the size of France.
Legislation setting up the 1.9 million square km reserve passed through the tiny nations Parliament.

Environmentalist Kevin Iro, who first proposed the idea more than five years ago, said it was a landmark
achievement that would help preserve the ocean for future generations.

The Cook Islands has a population of just 10,000 and its 15 islands have a combined landmass of 236 sq
km., barely the size of Washington, D.C.

But its isolated position in the Pacific, about halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii with no near
neighbours, means it has a huge maritime territory.

Cook Islanders had an affinity with the ocean and viewed it as sacred but overfishing and pollution had
damaged the marine environment, including the coral reefs that once ringed all the islands.

Marine reserve, known as Marae Moana, would give the environment a chance to heal, allowing the
islanders to protect their legacy.

Diplomatic channels are used to resolve India-China stand-off


Diplomatic channels are still being used to resolve the stand-off between India and China despite rising
rhetoric from Beijing, the MEA said, continuing to strike a measured note on the situation at the Sikkim tri-
junction that has entered the second month.

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Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankars said that India and China were a factor of stability in a turbulent
world, and that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping had agreed not to allow
differences to become disputes.

MEA spokesperson didnt confirm or deny if National Security Adviser Ajit Doval would travel to Beijing
for a scheduled meeting of the NSAs of all BRICS countries on July 27-28.

Despite the tensions over the Doklam situation, the government has been sending Ministers and officials
for the BRICS meetings on Agriculture, Education, Culture and Environment, held in China in June and
July.

Mr. Baglay also refused to respond to the state-owned China Peoples Daily publishing a repeat of an
editorial from 1962 just before the Sino-Indian War, saying that he wouldnt comment on opinions or
editorials in the media.
However, India dismissed the Chinese spokespersons reference to the Kashmir issue unequivocally.

100 meters area from edge of Ganga declared as No


Development Zone
An area of 100 metres from the edge of the Ganga between Haridwar and Unnao has been declared a
No Development Zone, with the National Green Tribunal (NGT) prohibiting dumping of waste within 500
metres of the river.

An environment compensation of Rs. 50,000 will be imposed on anyone dumping waste in the river.

The NGT also directed the Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand governments to formulate guidelines for
religious activities on the ghats of the Ganga and its tributaries.

Giving its verdict on a 1985 PIL petition of environment activist and lawyer M.C. Mehta which was
transferred to the NGT from the Supreme Court in 2014.

A Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said the authorities concerned should
complete projects, including a sewage treatment plant and cleaning of drains, within two years.

The court also appointed a supervisory committee, headed by the Secretary of the Water Resources

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Ministry and comprising IIT professors and officials of the Uttar Pradesh government, to oversee
implementation of the directions passed in its verdict. The committee is to submit reports at regular intervals.

The Bench further noted that all industrial units in the catchment areas of the Ganga should be stopped
from indiscriminate groundwater extraction.

New solar cell that converts direct sunlight to electricity


Scientists have designed a new solar cell that converts direct sunlight to electricity with 44.5% efficiency,
and may potentially be the most efficient solar cell in the world.

The prototype device integrates multiple cells stacked into a single device capable of capturing nearly all
of the energy in the solar spectrum, researchers said.

The approach, developed by researchers at George Washington University in the United States, is
different from the solar panels one might commonly see on rooftops or in fields.

The new device uses concentrator photovoltaic panels, which employ lenses to concentrate sunlight onto
tiny, micro-scale solar cells.

Govt believes militancy is about to die in India


Two Union Ministers, Jitendra Singh and Hansraj Gangaram Ahir, who praised the Kashmir civil society
for condemning the attack on Amarnath pilgrims, said that India is in the last phase of militancy.

He said the unanimous condemnation clearly indicates that there is no place for such acts in the Valley.
I hail and appreciate the widespread condemnation. Earlier there used to be a selective condemnation,
Dr. Singh said.

Refusing to name the group behind the attack, which left seven pilgrims dead, Dr. Singh said, No one
should jump to any conclusion. Lets wait for definite inputs from the security agencies.

A number of tour and travel bodies condemned the attack, with tourist hotspot Pahalgam witnessing a
shutdown over the incident.

Meanwhile, three Hizbul Mujahideen militants were killed in an encounter at Budgam. Two of them
belonged to Srinagar, which was a militancy-free zone for 12 years.

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Trade talks between India and China remained deadlocked


Trade talks between India and China remained deadlocked with neither side willing to offer concessions
to end the impasse.

Recent bilateral talks on issues relating to farm products, which took place in the backdrop of the military
standoff in the Doklam area of the India-Bhutan-China tri-junction, failed to make any headway.

China deferred taking a decision on grant of market access to Indian rice, pomegranate, okra and bovine
meat, while India opted to stick to its ban on imports of apple, pear, milk and milk products from China.

The discussions were held with visiting officials from the General Administration of Quality Supervision,
Inspection and Quarantine of China (AQSIQ) the body in charge of national quality, metrology.

And entry-exit commodity inspection, entry-exit health quarantine, entry-exit animal and plant quarantine,
import-export food safety, certification and accreditation, standardisation, as well as administrative law-
enforcement.

Regulatory mechanism to come for Bitcoin


The government is considering the introduction of a regulatory regime for virtual or crypto currencies,
such as Bitcoin, that would enable the levy of the Goods and Services Tax on their sale.

The new regime may possibly bring their trading under the oversight of the stock market regulator,
Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

The idea is to treat such currency in a manner similar to gold sold digitally, so that it can be traded on
registered exchanges in a bid to promote a formal tax base, while keeping a tab on their use for illegal
activities such as money laundering, terror funding and drug trafficking.

China signalled its intent to end the stand-off


China signalled its intent to end the stand-off between Indian and Chinese troops in the Doklam area at
an early date, if Indian forces withdraw to what it called the Indian side of the boundary.

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Adopting a less harsh tone than in the recent past, when it had characterised Indias alleged intrusion into
Chinese territory as a betrayal and insisted that the withdrawal of Indian forces was a precondition for
talks.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said: We once again require India to withdraw the border troops to the
Indian side of the boundary and properly settle this dispute at an early date.

According to the 1890 convention, the boundary has been defined and both Chinese and Indian
governments have recognised this. And this convention is effective for both countries.

The stand-off is happening near the western tri-junction of India, Bhutan and China.

Significantly, he also highlighted the Kashmir dispute outside its bilateral context, by pointing out that it
had attracted the attention of the international community. Besides.

Both India and Pakistan are important countries in South Asia. The conflicts occurred near the Line of
Control, Kashmir. This will not only harm the peace and stability of the two countries but also the peace
and tranquillity of the region.

SC questioned the ECs silence on a plea for a permanent ban


The Supreme Court questioned the Election Commissions silence on a plea for a permanent ban on
convicted lawmakers, in place of the prevalent six-year bar.

A Bench led by Justice Ranjan Gogoi wondered why a constitutional authority should feel constrained to
present its views on the issue before the Supreme Court.

The Bench compared the politician to a civil servant. A civil servant could be banished from service for
life, but a politician was allowed to make a comeback after serving his sentence and the subsequent six-
year ban period prescribed under the Representation of the People Act.

Counsel for the Commission said it was not within its powers to legislate. That was in the Parliaments
domain. We are not competent authority, he said.

SC stayed the Centres notification which banned cattle sale

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The Supreme Court stayed the Centres May 26 notification, banning cattle sale in livestock markets for
slaughter and religious sacrifices.

The order came after the government acquiesced that public outcry and objections from the States about
the law's impact on livelihoods made it realise that the rules need tweaking.

Additional Solicitor- General said the government had received a large number of representations that
certain aspects of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017.

And the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Maintenance of Case Property Animals) Act, 2017 were
troubling and threw up some sensitive questions about the Central rules.

Group of U.S. researchers working to map undulating pollution


on Godavari
The Ganga may be the focus of the governments river-cleaning efforts, but a group of U.S. researchers
is working on a system to map undulating pollution trends in the Godavari, Indias second longest river.

Using a mix of methods, including satellite-monitoring, traversing stretches of the river to collect water
samples and using special sensors to measure bacterial and chemical pollution, the researchers are
trying to develop a cost-effective forecast system.

The teams long-term objective is to be able to inform State officials and citizens of a probable spike in,
say, levels of dangerous microbes or effluents, similar to weather and air pollution forecasts.

The project started eight months ago and has so far identified two hotspots of pollution, which Mr.
Malani declined to reveal, saying he would first inform the Andhra Pradesh government about them.

The sampling exercise, being done along a portion of the 1,400-km river spanning Rajamahendravaram
(East Godavari district) and Kovvur, Narsapur and Palakol (all in West Godavari), measures parameters
such as total dissolved salts, nitrate, pH, temperature, turbidity and electrical conductivity.

These are relayed to a website called Thoreau , a wireless sensing network maintained at the University
of Chicago to map parameters, for analysis.

Some river attributes such as microbial levels require to be measured in laboratories, though the team
hopes eventually to be able to use low-cost sensors that measure them, too, in real time.
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The exercise is part of a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation project to support the programme of the
Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI) to provide city-wide sanitation improvements in urban Andhra
Pradesh.

Sixth mass extinction of life on Earth is unfolding more quickly


than feared
The sixth mass extinction of life on Earth is unfolding more quickly than feared, scientists have warned.

More than 30% of animals with a backbone fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals are
declining in both range and population, according to the first comprehensive analysis of these trends.
Around a decade ago, experts feared that a new planetary wipeout of species was looming.

Today, most agree that it is under way but the new study suggests that the die-out is already
ratcheting up a gear. It provides much-needed data about the threat to wildlife, mapping the dwindling
ranges and population of 27,600 species.

For 177 mammals, researchers combed through data covering the period 1900 to 2015. The mammal
species that were monitored have lost at least a third of their original habitat, the researchers found.

Forty per cent of them including rhinos, orangutans, gorillas and many big cats are surviving on
20% or less of the land they once roamed. The loss of biodiversity has recently accelerated.

Globally, the mass die-off deemed to be the sixth in the last half-billion years is the worst since
three-quarters of life on the Earth, including the non-avian dinosaurs, were wiped out 66 million years ago
by a giant meteor impact.

Tropical regions have seen the highest number of declining species. In South and Southeast Asia, large-
bodied species of mammals have lost more than four-fifths of their historical ranges.

As many as half of the number of animals that once shared our planet are no longer here, a loss the
authors described as a massive erosion of the greatest biological diversity in the history of Earth.

The main drivers of wildlife decline are habitat loss, overconsumption, pollution, invasive species,
disease, as well as poaching in the case of tigers, elephants, rhinos and other large animals prized for
their body parts.
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Terrorists attack Amarnath yatri's


Seven Amarnath pilgrims, including six women, were killed and 32 injured when terrorists opened fire at a
patrol vehicle on the Srinagar-Jammu Highway.

The patrol vehicle came under fire at Anantnags Batengo area around 8.30 p.m. The attack took place
after quick response teams of the Army had withdrawn from the highway around sunset, making the
vehicle vulnerable.

Six pilgrims were killed in the attack and later one died of injuries in hospital. Three of those injured were
in a critical state. The deceased pilgrims belonged to Gujarat and were returning after visiting the cave
shrine.

Bus was not registered with the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board and was travelling against the advisory not
to ply after sunset.

The police had asked all vehicles carrying pilgrims to cross the Jawahar Tunnel in daylight and avoid
travelling in the Valley after sundown.

Meanwhile, political parties have condemned the attack. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said it was an
attack on Kashmirs culture and value system.

The CRPF is one of the main security forces deployed along the 40-day annual yatra route.

Govt is probing the technical glitches in NSE


India is investigating whether last weeks outage of Airtel network in Delhi, alleged data breach of users
of Reliance Jio Infocomm and the technical glitch at the NSE were part of a possible cyberattack.

In 2016, security codes of around 32 lakh debit cards were breached and several users reported
unauthorised transactions from locations in China.

Events like this have prompted the government to have a customised cyber security policy for each
ministry and department.

On July 7, Airtels Radio Access Network went down for more than an hour in and around Delhi. Airtel
said there was a network outage in Delhi/NCR and one of the network nodes had been corrupted.

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A senior Home Ministry official said about two years ago various telecom giants had been sensitised
about the vulnerability of equipment and products imported from China. Both Airtel and Jio use Chinese
equipment.

SC lifted its stay on admissions to the prestigious IIT


Spelling relief to over 50,000 aspirants, the Supreme Court lifted its stay on admissions to the prestigious
Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) across the country.

On July 7, the court had ordered a freeze on the process, taking prima facie exception to the grant of
bonus marks to all candidates who had appeared in the IIT JEE (Advanced) 2017 examination.

These extra marks were given to compensate for wrong questions in two of the papers, irrespective of
whether a candidate had given answers to them or not.

However, a Bench led by Justice Dipak Misra said the court was not inclined to interfere, while vacating
the stay order, which had affected students who were in the middle of counselling sessions.

Asking the High Courts not to entertain petitions regarding this issue to avoid any confusion in future,
the court issued a warning to the IIT authorities that such kinds of errors in printing and framing of
questions should not happen again.

India's labour reforms hailed by G20


Acknowledging the steps being taken by India for sustainable and inclusive growth as well as support to
global economy.

The G20 has praised the initiatives in the country for promoting ease of doing business, start-up funding
and labour reforms.

In the financial sector, India is popularising a number of derivative instruments in exchanges or electronic
trading platforms as part of the measures to enhance resilience of its economy.

It further said India is facilitating external commercial borrowings (ECBs) by start-ups to encourage
innovation and promote ease of doing business, as part of the efforts being taken by the G20 members
this year for maintaining momentum on structural reforms and sustainable growth.

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Two drugs taken off the restrictive Schedule X of the Drugs


and Comestics Rules
Concerns regarding a build-up of resistance to antiviral drugs used to treat swine flu are surfacing, after
two such drugs Oseltamivir and Zanamivir were taken off the restrictive Schedule X of the Drugs
and Comestics Rules.

Now under Schedule H1, the drugs can be stocked by all chemists.

Central health authorities have also advised doctors to prescribe the drugs based on strong symptoms,
without opting for the swab test. Medical experts say these decisions could lead to misuse and
eventually, severe drug resistance.

Oseltamivir and Zanamivir are antiviral drugs that block the actions of influenza virus types A and B in the
body. While Oseltamivir is available as tablets, Zanamivir comes in powder form.

Drugs under Schedule X require three copies of prescription for the doctor, patient and chemist, and can
be sold by a chemist who holds a special Schedule X licence.

Also, the chemist has to preserve the prescription copy for up to three years. In Schedule H1, only one
copy of the prescription is required, and drugs in this category can be sold by all chemists.

Till date this year, India has recorded over 11,700 H1N1 cases and 561 deaths.

Army is ready for the long haul in holding onto its position in the
Dokalam
The Army is ready for the long haul in holding onto its position in the Dokalam area near the Bhutan tri-
junction, notwithstanding China ratcheting up rhetoric against India, demanding pulling back of its troops.

The soldiers deployed in the disputed area have pitched tents, in an indication that they are unlikely to
retreat unless there was reciprocity from Chinese personnel in ending the face-off at an altitude of around
10,000 feet in the Sikkim section.

A steady line of supplies is being maintained for the soldiers at the site, signalling that the Army is not
going to wilt under any pressure from China.

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At the same time, they sounded confident of finding a diplomatic solution to the dispute, citing resolution
of border skirmishes in the past through diplomacy.

Though China has been aggressively asserting that it was not ready for any compromise and that the
ball is in Indias court, the view in the security establishment here is that there cannot be any unilateral
approach in defusing the tension.

Both the countries had agreed to a mechanism in 2012 to resolve border flare-ups through consultations
at various levels.

The mechanism has not worked so far in the current case as the standoff near the Bhutan trijunction,
triggered by Chinas attempt to build a road in the strategically important area, has dragged on for over
three weeks.

New Delhi has already conveyed to Beijing that such an action would represent a significant change of
status quo with serious security implications for India. The road link could give China a major military
advantage over India.

Doka La is the Indian name for the region which Bhutan recognises as Dokalam, while China claims it as
part of its Donglang region.

China and Bhutan are engaged in talks. India argues that since it is a tri-junction involving the three
countries, it also has a say in the issue.

Curcumin when administered in a nanoparticle has several


favourable properties
Curcumin, the basic ingredient of turmeric, when administered in a nanoparticle formulation has several
favourable properties in the treatment of tuberculosis in mice, researchers have found.

Nanoparticle curcumin to be five times more bioavailable in mice, than regular curcumin, and was able to
drastically reduce liver toxicity induced by TB drug isoniazid.

More importantly, treatment of TB with isoniazid along with 200 nanometre curcumin nanoparticles led to
dramatically reduced risk of disease reactivation and reinfection.

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Treatment with anti-tuberculosis drugs takes about six-nine months in the case of drug-sensitive TB and
12-24 months for drug-resistant TB.

Besides improper use, the long duration to complete treatment substantially increases the risk of TB
bacteria developing resistance.

Because of the increased bioavailability of curcumin, the duration of treatment to achieve complete
eradication of the bacteria is reduced significantly.

Quite often, patients stop taking anti-TB drugs for a few days due to liver toxicity. Since the addition of
curcumin reduces liver toxicity, there can be better treatment adherence and lesser risk of drug
resistance emerging.

Curcumin blocks the Kv1.3 potassium channel and prevents apoptosis, or cell death, of T cells that come
up with an immune response.

As a result, the protective, long-lasting memory cells called the central memory T cells get enhanced.

Mice, which were treated only with isoniazid, displayed increased susceptibility to re-infection since the
drug dampens the immune system.

Mice treated with curcumin nanoparticles and isoniazid were able to clear the bacteria at an accelerated
rate in both the lungs and spleen.

Ahmedabad has been declared Indias first World Heritage City


The Walled City of Ahmedabad, founded by Sultan Ahmed Shah in the 15th century, has been declared
Indias first World Heritage City.

The World Heritage Committee (WHC) of UNESCO made the announcement late on Saturday night
following a meeting in Polands Krakwo.

The 5.5 km walled city area with an approximate population of four lakh, living in century-old wooden
residences in around 600 pol s or neighbourhoods, is regarded as a living heritage. The UNESCO had
preferred Ahmedabad over Delhi and Mumbai.

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It has now joined the privileged club of heritage cities like Paris, Cairo, Edinburgh and two cities in the
subcontinent, Bhaktpur in Nepal and Galle in Sri Lanka.

According to Ahmedabad Municipal Commissioner Mukesh Kumar, there are 2,600 heritage sites and
over two dozen ASI protected monuments and sites in the walled city. The city had figured in UNESCOs
tentative list in 2011.
The civic body and the State authorities expect a huge boost to tourism after the UNESCOs declaration.

Centre begun first ever assessment of Chinese FDI in Indias


neighbouring countries
In the backdrop of the tense border stand-off in Sikkim with China, the Centre has begun its first ever in-
depth assessment of Chinese investments in Indias neighbouring countries.

The exercise being conducted mainly from Indias national security perspective has been initiated
by the Prime Ministers Office and the National Security Adviser.

Informal discussions have already been held with the concerned Ministries, including the Commerce and
Industry Ministry the nodal body for foreign trade and foreign investment.

Given the increasing influence of China in the Indian sub-continent and South Asia, the study will be
dynamic and is, among other things, expected to look into various trends, tracking a surge, if any, in
Chinese FDI in the region.

For instance, Pakistan government data shows that FDI from China jumped from $256.8 million in 2014-
15 to $878.8 million in 2016-17 (July-May). Pakistans financial year follows a July to June calendar.

The study will also analyse the impact of these Chinese investments including those being made as
part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) on Indias national security.

Indias reservations regarding the BRI/OBOR include strategic concerns on the BRIs flagship project, the
$50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), as it is expected to cover regions including
Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

In addition to assessing the nature and impact of Chinese FDI in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal,
Pakistan and Sri Lanka, the study will track Chinese investments in Afghanistan and Maldives too.
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However, the major challenge in the study will be the lack of detailed, country-wise data on overall FDI
(year-wise) and Chinese FDI, in particular.

The CPEC/OBOR projects can also better link Pakistan with the Central Asian Republics (CAR) and help
the country establish a footprint in those markets, Prof. Dhar said.

PM urged British PM to ensure the U.K.s cooperation for


economic offenders
Prime Minister urged his British counterpart Theresa May to ensure the U.K.s cooperation to bring back
economic offenders, as India works hard for the return of liquor baron Vijay Mallya and former IPL chief
Lalit Modi.

Mallya has been in the U.K. for months, escaping arrest warrants. A London court is hearing a case on
his extradition.

Mr. Modi met Ms. May at a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit. Both leaders also
discussed the whole range of bilateral ties.

Asked whether the request was limited to Mallya or it covered Lalit Modi, Mr. Baglay told reporters: I
dont want to get into the specifics but the phrase used in the tweet is escaped economic offenders and
it is plural.

A citizens group is demanding a central law for restricting the


number of children
A citizens group, Taxpayers Association of Bharat (TAXAB) endorsed by personalities such as
agricultural scientist M.S. Swaminathan, is demanding a central law for restricting the number of children
a couple can have.

The TAXAB, headed by agriculturist and social worker Manu Gaur will launch a petition on July 10 asking
for the same from the government.

We occupy 2.5% of the land mass and have over 17% of the worlds population, how is that not an issue
that needs to be addressed on an urgent basis, said Mr. Gaur.

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Several State governments, most recently Assam, have linked access to government jobs, facilities and
even eligibility to contest local body polls to following the two-child norm.

Aerosols and particulate matter's polluting air to dangerous


levels
It is now a part of record that several cities in India are among the most polluted in the world. The villain,
in most cases, is aerosols and particulate matter.

It is a catch-all term for particles of a certain size that are suspended in the lower reaches of the
atmosphere.

Aerosols emerge from a range of sources including dust, half-burnt carbon particles from vehicle exhaust
and crop residues. Natural sources of aerosol include fog and haze.

Studies, most of them in Europe, have drawn a link between particulate matter-levels and increased
incidence of cardiovascular disease and respiratory problems.

Now, it turns out, aerosols may be a grave threat to the Indian monsoon and maybe a bigger worry than
greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide.

Theres an ongoing debate on the relative role of greenhouse gases, such as water vapour and carbon
dioxide, and aerosols in their influence over the South Asian monsoon.

To step back a bit, monsoon clouds gust into the mainland due to a pronounced difference in
temperature between the land and the sea. Greenhouse gases trap heat and, over time, cause
temperatures to rise over the land and the sea.

This affects the temperature gradient between them and, over the decades, leads to a rise in the
frequency of extreme rainfall or long, rainless spells.

The IMD last year recorded 2016 to be the hottest year in India for over a century, and India has seen at
least five drought years since 2002.

Aerosols, while responsible for air pollution, smog and asthma, are known to shield the land from solar
radiation. Though short-lived in the atmosphere compared to carbon dioxide, their absence would have
made the earth hotter.
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However, the enormity of these dust clouds means that they depress land and sea temperatures.
Consequently, this reduces the strength of the monsoon circulation.

More than the quantity, it makes rain spells more erratic and because much of agriculture in India is still
dependent on monsoon rains between June-September, they pose an additional threat to farmer
livelihoods.

The relative role of these climate-meddlers has consequences for Indias plans to mitigate the effects of
climate change. Measures to reduce aerosol emissions without curbing greenhouse gas emissions could
mean a hotter land mass and more instances of untimely, extreme rainfall events.

Persistent aerosol emissions might lead to more instances of moderate rainfall but could mean
anomalous weather and health hazards over large parts of north India.

The aerosol-greenhouse gas relationship in exacerbating climate change is an old area of research but
teasing out the relative contribution of each is challenging and influences the costs countries must incur
to address them.

India has generally maintained that man-made carbon dioxide pollution is largely due to the years of
pollution by the developed West.

However, such an argument might weaken if aerosols were brought into the picture because this is a
largely South Asian concern.

Were carbon dioxide and aerosol interactions proven to be strongly linked, India could be under pressure
to adopt more stringent climate-proofing policies.

PM came out strongly against Pakistan in G20


Naming Pakistan-based terror groups LeT and JeM, PM Modi said some countries were using terror as a
tool to achieve political objectives and pressed for deterrent action collectively by the G20 members
against such nations.

Addressing the G20 summit in this German city, he equated the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-
Mohamamd, as also the Haqqani network to the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, saying their names may be
different but their ideology is the same.

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With leaders like U.S. President, Russian Presidentand Chinese President listening, Mr. Modi regretted
that the international response to terrorism was weak, and said more cooperation was needed to fight the
menace.

The Prime Minister presented an 11-point Action Agenda which included suggestions for exchange of
lists of terrorists among G20 nations, easing and expediting of legal processes like extradition and
concrete steps to choke funds and weapon supply to the terrorists.

At an informal meeting of BRICS leaders, Mr. Modi and Mr. Xi shook hands and had a conversation on a
range of issues.

Experts believe pale tiger of Nilgiris is an aberrant genetic


mutation
While the pale tiger of the Nilgiris has won global attention, it could be just an instance of an aberrant
genetic mutation, say experts.

The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, where the pale tiger was photographed, also encompasses the
Mudumalai-Bandipur-Nagarhole-Wayanad complex, which is home to the worlds largest wild tiger
population.

Random genetic mutations could occur in large populations and since this contiguous patch allowed
good intermixing of genes, this could just be a random genetic mutation as was natural in the wild.

In 2013, scientists from Chinas Peking University sequenced genomes of white and normally-coloured
Bengal tigers and found that a very small mutation in a single pigment gene SLC45A2 causes the
white colouration.

This genetic mutation is already known to cause light coloration in horses, chicken and fish.

Concluding that such mutations are natural, especially since adult white tigers have been recorded in the
wild in India in the past, the researchers say that white tigers could be viable in the wild and important for
a healthy wild tiger population.

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India along with North Korea are the only country to not allow Wi-
Fi in aircraft
Civil Aviation Secretary R.N. Choubey said India was the only country other than North Korea to not allow
Wi-Fi facility in aircraft. Mr. Choubey said security agencies were still not convinced about allowing in-
flight Wi-Fi services.

Mr. Choubey said the Indian Air Force controlled two-thirds of Delhi's airspace, causing flights to hover
above for long, which led to the wastage of fuel and escalated airfare, and that civil aviation needs to be
harmonised with the IAF.

The Secretary said security at the new airports inducted under the recently announced regional
connectivity scheme UDAN would be airport specific.

The cost of security at airports is to be reimbursed by the airport operator and only 15 of the 115 airports
operated by Airport Authority of India are making a profit, he said.

The Aviation Secretary said that though intelligence agencies had veto power, they should look for
innovative solutions.

China says it has no objection to Malabar exercise


China guardedly reacted to Malabar exercises between the navies of India, the U.S. and Japan, saying it
has no objection to normal cooperation and hoped that it was not directed against any third country.

As we have said before, we have no objection to normal bilateral relationship and cooperation among
relevant countries, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman GengShuang said.

We hope that this kind of relationship and cooperation will not be directed against third country and that
it will be conducive to the regional peace and security, he said.

No bilateral meeting between PM Modi and President Xi at G20


With India and China asserting that no bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and
President Xi Jinping had been scheduled on the sidelines of the G-20 meeting in Germany.

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Also China stepped up its verbal assault on India, warning it of serious consequences if it did not
withdraw its troops.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said the necessary information would be shared in
a timely manner, when asked about the possibility of a bilateral meeting of the leaders at the BRICS
event.

It is unusual for either country to announce that no bilateral meeting had been scheduled as both leaders
have met in several multilateral meetings in the last three years.

The MEAs confirmation about not having a bilateral meeting came despite earlier reports that the Indian
and Chinese leaders would meet on the sidelines of the summit in Hamburg.

He also warned at a daily news briefing in Beijing that India must pull back its forces to its side of the
border in order to avoid there being an even more serious situation, creating even more serious
consequences.

The ongoing tension erupted over Chinese construction in the Doklam area at the India-Bhutan-China tri-
junction.

Mr. Modi and Mr. Xi last met in Astana on June 9 during the summit of the SCO. where Mr. Xi had
described the Kailash-Mansarovar Yatra as a positive aspect of ties.

However, following the Doklam row the pilgrimage on the Sikkim route was stopped as the Chinese
refused to allow Indian pilgrims to use the Nathu La pass.

NABARD has cautioned of recommending to RBI to cancel


licence of SDCC
NABARD has cautioned of recommending to RBI to cancel the banking licence of Shivamogga District
Cooperative Central (SDCC) Bank for its failure to comply with various provisions of The Banking
Regulation Act, 1949.

This includes maintenance of minimum paid-up capital, capital to risk weighted assets ratio (CRAR), and
taming non-performing assets (NPA).

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A scam on issuance of gold loan at SDCC Bank was unearthed by the police in July 2014. It was alleged
that loan was issued for 778 accounts by mortgaging fake gold owing to which bank suffered loss of Rs.
61.59 crore.

In March 2016, NABARD conducted an inspection on the financial position of SDCC Bank, that revealed
that the real or exchangeable value of the bank was at Rs. (-)467.52 lakh.

According to the inspection report, the present figure of exchangeable value indicated that the bank had
failed to maintain minimum paid-up capital and reserves as per Section 11 of the Act.

Even, CRAR was at (-)1.29%. According to the RBI directions, the minimum CRAR should be at 7%.

It was also found that the high level of NPA with SDCC Bank that is at 12% had resulted in erosion of
value of other assets. NABARD blamed the loss suffered owing to the 2014 scam as the reason for high
level of NPA.

Centre tells SC that they are trying everything to help farmers


The Centre told the Supreme Court that the increasing incidence of suicide by distressed farmers was a
terrible tragedy and it was doing all in its powers to tide over the agrarian crisis.

Attorney General K.K. Venugopal painstakingly detailed a slew of measures and schemes the
government had either proposed or launched to resolve the economic distress of farmers. He submitted
that the NITI Aayog was addressing the issue of farmers suicides.

The court agreed with Mr. Venugopal that the issue is serious and cannot be dealt with overnight.

It was necessary to give the government some time to implement its welfare schemes, which ranged from
crop insurance to agricultural credit and rescheduling of loans in case of crop failure.

The court gave the government a six-month window to work its schemes before re-visiting the issue at
the next hearing.

The court, in its orders, recorded the governments submissions that 5.34 crore farmers, constituting
40%, had already been covered by the welfare schemes and work was on to enhance the figure to 50%
by 2018-19. Thirty per cent of the crops too were secured.

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Mr. Venugopal said efforts were on to bring more farmers into the institutional fold by ensuring availability
of crop loans through commercial, cooperative and regional rural banks.

ATM-enabled Kisan Credit cards had been introduced to enable farmers to purchase raw materials and
draw cash.

RBI had allowed banks to take a lenient view on rescheduling of loans if the crop loss was more than
33%. He said the government ultimately intended to create a single unified market for the country.

The government said it was drafting a Model Act called State/UT Agricultural Produce and Livestock
Marketing (Promotion and Facilitation) Act of 2017 to ensure multiple market channels and prevent
monopolies.

The Attorney General detailed other programmes like National Food Security Mission, National Mission
for Oilseed and Oil Palm, Mission of Integrated Development for Horticulture, National Mission on
Agricultural Extension and Technology.

Govt has decided to do away with the no-detention policy


The government has decided to do away with the no-detention policy for students from the next
academic session, Union Minister said.

The decision was taken following representation from most of the States as they said the standard of
education had deteriorated because of the policy.

Under the Right to Education Act, 2009, no child admitted to a school will be held back in any class or
expelled till the completion of elementary education covering Classes 1 to 8.

There has been a unanimous decision of withdrawing the no-detention policy from the Right to
Education Act 2009, the Minister of State for HRD said here.

India and Israel announced a strategic partnership


India and Israel announced a strategic partnership between the two countries and signed seven
agreements in the fields of water, agriculture, space, including a $40 million joint fund for research and
development in innovation.

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India and Israel live in complex geographies. We are aware of the strategic threats to regional peace
and stability, said Mr. Modi, briefing the media on the outcome of the talks.

PM Netanyahu and I agreed to do much more together to protect our strategic interests and also
cooperate to combat the growing radicalisation and terrorism, including in cyberspace.

An earlier version of the joint statement distributed by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs didnt include
the wording on an overall strategic partnership, indicating that it had been added in the final round of
the talks.

Without mentioning specifics of the counter-terrorism cooperation envisaged, they agreed that strong
measures should be taken against terrorists, terror organisations, their networks and all those who
encourage, support and finance terrorism, or provide sanctuary to terrorists and terror groups.

The veiled references to Pakistan and Iran, both of which are nuclear-capable powers, reflected the
concerns India and Israel have on the issue of terror.

In view of Israels position on not welcoming third party interventions on the Israel-Palestine peace
process, the joint statement only recorded their support for an early negotiated solution between the
sides based on mutual recognition and security arrangements.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said they had tasked special committees to implement the
seven agreements between them by January 1 next year, and accepted Mr. Modis invitation to visit
India.

The agreements cover the fields of water, agriculture, space, including a $40-million joint fund for
research and development in innovation.

The two agreements in the field of water deal with the increasing awareness of the need for water
conservation, as well as an MoU between the Israeli Water Ministry and the Uttar Pradesh Jal Nigam
Board.

Three MoUs on space cooperation included one for Electric Propulsion for Small Satellites, and for the
development of an optical link as well as cooperation on atomic clocks.

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The fund for research and development, called the I4F or India Israel Industrial Innovation Fund, will
see both governments contribute $20 million to help research scholars manufacture their inventions
easily.

Indian-Israelis are a human bridge between the two countries, said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,
as he and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi addressed a gathering.

He also referred to Baba Fariduddin, who had travelled to Jerusalem in the 13th century, calling him a
symbol of the fact that while India and Israel have had full diplomatic ties for 25 years, they go back
hundreds of years in history.

SC says gap in qualification criteria for EC should be fulfilled


Though so far the election commissioners (ECs) appointed have been outstanding people, very fair and
politically neutral, there is still a legitimate expectation that they should be selected through the most
transparent and just process formalised in a law enacted by Parliament, SC advised.

The Bench of Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar and D.Y. Chandrachud pointed out that there is a gap
caused by the lack of a parliamentary law which transparently spells out the process of appointment of an
election commissioner.

Though it is very complimentary that outstanding people have been appointed so far, there is still a
legitimate expectation in the Constitution that a law should be made on the selection process, the Chief
Justice observed.

The Election Commissioners supervise and hold elections in our democracy...such is the significance of
their office. Their selection has to be made in the most transparent manner, he said.

The court asked the government whether it should intervene in the issue to achieve the constitutional
objective under Article 324 (2).

China points fingers at India for stand off

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China accused India of misleading the public by pointing out that the face-off between Indian and
Chinese troops was taking place not at the tri-junction of China, India and Bhutan but at an undisputed
section in the Donglang general area.

The convention in 1890 said the Sikkim section of the boundary commences east from the Gymochen
mountain and the incident took place about 2000 metres away from the mountain. So it has nothing to do
with the tri-junction.

Asked to clarify whether Donglang or Doklam is not at the tri-junction, Mr. Geng said: I have already said
very clearly just now. In disregard of the [1890] convention, the Indian side [said] that Doklam is located
within the tri-junction of the three countries.

But contrary to the Chinese perception, Bhutans ambassador to India Vetsop Namgyel has said that,
Doklam is a disputed territory and Bhutan has a written agreement with China that pending the final
resolution of the boundary issue, peace and tranquillity should be maintained in the area.

However, the Foreign Ministry spokesperson reiterated that there is no dispute between China and
Bhutan over Donglang.

SC said the Centre cannot close all options for person depositing
old notes
Cautioning the government against depriving genuine persons of their hard-earned money and property,
the Supreme Court said the Centre cannot close all options for such persons.

It should open a window for them to approach the authorities to prove that it is their money, the court
said.

It is harsh if you close all options for genuine persons who were unable to deposit their [demonetised]
notes within the stipulated period, a Bench of Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar and D.Y. Chandrachud
told the government.

Mr. Kumar said the government had already filed an affidavit explaining why the period to deposit
demonetised notes was restricted.

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The Centre restricted the grace period till March 31, 2017 only to Indian citizens who were abroad during
the period between November 9 and December 30, 2016.

Centre is considering partial removal of the AFSPA


The AFSPA gives powers to the Army and Central forces deployed in disturbed areas to kill anyone
acting in contravention of law, arrest and search any premises without a warrant and provides cover to
forces from prosecution and legal suits without the Centres sanction.

It is effective in the whole of Nagaland, Assam, Manipur (excluding the seven Assembly constituencies of
Imphal).

In Arunachal Pradesh, it is in force in 16 police stations and in Tirap, Longding and Changlang districts
bordering Assam. Tripura withdrew AFSPA in 2015.
It is not in force in Meghalaya (except a 20-kilometre area along the Assam border) and Mizoram.

The notification extending AFSPA in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh is issued for six months after a
review twice a year. Govt has reduced this duration to three months and see if it could be withdrawn
completely from certain areas.

The Home Ministry issued fresh notification to continue Armed Forces Special Powers Act in Arunachal
Pradesh on May 4 for three months; it would expire on August 8.

Ministry had said in its notification that the security situation in Assam remained vitiated due to the
belligerent attitude of the underground groups including ULFA (I), NDFB (S), KLO and KPLT.

It said that in 2016, 33 persons including four security personnel were killed in Assam, 14 were abducted
for ransom and 75 incidents of violence were reported.

Vietnam asked India to play a greater role in ASEAN


Opening new possibilities in Southeast Asia, Vietnam asked India to play a greater role in ASEANs
strategic and security affairs.

Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh said that India should support freedom of navigation
in the South China Sea on the basis of international law and conventions.

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The Vietnamese leader who is on a two-day visit to Delhi, is also the Foreign Minister of his country and
held talks with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

His comments in support of greater role for India in Southeast Asia came even as tension is building up
between India and China across the Sikkim sector.

India and Vietnam share political and economic interests. As the future unfolds we have reason to be
optimistic. ASEAN will benefit from Indias experience of resolving maritime issues in a peaceful manner,
he said.

In her speech, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that ties with ASEAN is at the centre of
Indias Act East Policy.

India wants more effort from U.K. post Brexit


India has been speaking with greater candour in recent weeks about obstacles in its relationship with
Britain, highlighting how efforts by the British government to take forward the relationship, particularly via
a post-Brexit trade deal, could struggle.

High Commission has expressed its concerns about plans for a rally to be held in the city of Birmingham
to commemorate the first death anniversary of Burhan Wani, the Hizbul Mujahideen commander, on July
8.

The office of the Deputy High Commissioner Dinesh Patnaik sent a note verbale on the matter to the
British Foreign Office.

The move, seen as an unusually candid one by India, highlights the countrys increasing willingness to
highlight issues of tension between the two countries, as debate in Britain focuses almost solely on the
untapped potential to enhance the trade deal between the two countries.

These are things that India has been saying quite explicitly but no one seems to have listened to it on the
British side. It hasnt had the recognition India wants. We are back where we were in the 1980s where
the issue of Sikh militants was one of the biggest impediments to stronger relations.

Other issues on terrorism, security and beyond also had to be confronted, he said, highlighting the issue
of terrorism.

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He also raised the issue of Vijay Mallya, stating that Britain had become a haven for fugitives from
justice as well as Britains willingness to tolerate anti-India activity.

ED to probe if companies de-registered recently have been


involved in money laundering
ED will be roped in to probe if companies de-registered recently have been involved in money laundering,
official sources said in the wake of PMs statement that over one lakh companies had been struck off at
one go.

The fate of one lakh companies has been locked with one stroke of a pen in one minute. The Registrar
of Companies (ROC) has removed these one lakh companies. More will be found and even tougher
action can be expected against shell companies, Mr. Modi said.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) is preparing to send show-cause notices to over three
lakh more firms for striking off their names from the register of companies.

Tax consultants and government sources pointed out that while action against companies are initiated
under the Companies Act, the scrutiny was stepped up in the wake of demonetisation and as part of the
action against black money.

ED, which deals with Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) provisions, will soon be called in to
look at the companies recently struck off the register.

The ED is empowered to take actions of attachment and confiscation of property if the same is
determined to be proceeds of crime derived from a Scheduled Offence under PMLA. The ED can also
launch prosecution against those involved in money laundering.

These measures followed an operation that was launched post-demonetisation to expedite action against
companies that failed to start business within one year of incorporation or were not carrying on any
business for two immediately preceding financial years or not applied for dormant status.

However, referring to Section 252 of the Companies Act, officials pointed out that persons aggrieved by
the RoC order notifying a company as dissolved under Section 248 of the Act may file an appeal to
NCLT within three years from the RoCs order.

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If the NCLT finds that the removal of the companys name was unjustified, it may order its restoration in
the register.

According to the MCA, the total companies registered in India as on May 31, 2017, were 1,659,965, of
which 1,322,175 were active.

The trend of registration of companies (month-wise) showed that after a high of 10,000 in May 2016, it
had gradually fallen to about 6,000 in November 2016 the month when demonetisation was
announced.

The new registrations fell in April to around 9,000, but then rose to 9,673 in May.

All the hurdles for resuming Kambala cleared


All the hurdles for resuming Kambala the traditional slush-track buffalo race of the coastal districts
are cleared with the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Karnataka Amendment) Bill, 2017, finally getting
Presidential assent.

The Legislative Assembly passed the Bill in February 2017 to put the traditional sport out of the ambit of
PCA Act. Governor Vajubhai R. Vala then referred the Bill to the President for his assent.

Union Home Ministry suggested modifications to the Bill and returned it to the State. It wanted the
government to modify or omit the phrase subject to such other conditions as may be prescribed, which
would open the window for inclusion of more such sports.

Israel says LeT and Hamas group are similar


Israel believes there is no difference between Pakistan-based L-e-T and the Hamas group operating in
Israel and Palestine, adding that the Israeli government has unequivocally supported India on the issue
of terrorism.

The strong words from Israeli officials came at a briefing on Prime Minister Narendra Modis visit to Israel
that begins on Tuesday the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister which they described as historic
with huge symbolic significance.

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The words on the common threat of terrorism were shared by Mr. Modi, who told an Israeli newspaper
that, India and Israel could cooperate even more closely and complement each other's efforts to fight
with the menace of terrorism.

India and Israel will sign a unique Strategic Partnership on non-security issues including Agriculture,
Water, Science, technology and Space, said Mr. Sofer.

PM Modi and President Xi to meet in Germany


The standoff between the Armies of India and China completed 18 days even as military sources
speculated that a diplomatic solution could be in sight.

All eyes are now on the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi
Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Germany later this week.

Countries are hopeful of a peaceful end to the confrontation before the two leaders meet. As of now,
India continues to push for a flag meeting between local commanders.

Both sides had deployed additional troops after the initial face-off at the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet trijunction,
on which all three countries have claims. However there is no further troop addition.

Mr. Modi and Mr. Jinping will be at Hamburg in Germany for the 12th G20 summit on July 7 and 8 during
which they are expected to meet. The standoff is expected to figure in their conversation given the
intensity it has generated on both sides.

News broke out early last week on the standoff between the two countries at the trijunction which began
on June 16 after Chinese troops tried to construct a road in the Bhutanese territory at Doko La over the
Zom Cheri ridge.

Indian Army personnel present there intervened and stopped the Chinese team from advancing.China
reacted sharply to this and charged that Indian troops trespassed the recognised and delineated
boundary between the two countries.

Breaking silence on the issue, the Centre said last Friday that it was deeply concerned at the recent
Chinese actions as such construction would represent a significant change of status quo with serious
security implications for India.

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China and Indias wrangling over Bhutan escalated


China and Indias wrangling over Bhutan escalated amid accusations by Beijing that the alleged intrusion
by Indian troops in the Sikkim sector was a betrayal of a former colonial-era understanding of the
boundary alignment in this area.

Adopting a shriller tone in demanding the pullback of Indian forces, from the Doklam area, where there
has been a military standoff, the Chinese Foreign Ministry accused New Delhi of virtually manipulating
Bhutan to distort facts, and engineering a cover-up for the illegal entry of its forces in its territory.

As the war of words escalated, Foreign Ministry spokesperson GengShuang responded to remarks by
Defence Minister Arun Jaitley that India of 2017 was different from what it was in 1962.

The Chinese allege that Indian troops have breached New Delhis well-recorded position of abiding by
the 1890 British-era convention defining the boundary between Sikkim and Tibet.

Besides, the boundary between China and Bhutan a country with which India has special ties has
not been settled, despite 24 rounds of negotiations, which began in the 1980s between Beijing and
Thimpu.

The current round of border tensions was triggered by the construction of a road by China in the Doklam
area. New Delhi has maintained that a road there will threaten its national security.

Analysts say that if built, the road will provide China further access to the Chumbi Valley, adding to the
vulnerability of the Chickens Neck, a narrow corridor that links the northeast with the rest of India.

PM Modi advices young IAS officers to avoid getting into a


mindset that resists change
Prime Minister Narendra Modi advised young IAS officers to avoid getting into a mindset that resists
change and fill Indias administrative system with the energy of New India.

Addressing the IAS officers of 2015 batch at the inaugural session of Assistant Secretaries, the Prime
Minister said India had not progressed as much as it should have.

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Mr. Modi said countries that achieved Independence after India, and faced greater resource constraints
than India, had touched new heights of development.

He said boldness was required to drive change, and added that a fragmented administrative arrangement
would not allow the collective capabilities of officers to deliver to the optimum level.

The Prime Minister said that the three-month programme of assistant secretaries, was now into its third
year, and would have a great impact.

The Prime Minister urged the young officers to interact freely with the senior officers of the Central
government over the next three months, so that the system could benefit from the combination of their
energy and fresh ideas, and administrative experience of Secretary-level officers.

Final agenda for PM Modis visit to Israel unveiled


The Israeli Foreign Ministry unveiled the final agenda for Prime Minister Narendra Modis historic visit to
the West Asian nation.

India and Israel will sign a unique Strategic Partnership on non-security issues including Agriculture,
Water, Science, technology and Space, said Mark Sofer, Deputy Director General of the Israeli Foreign
Ministrys Asia-Pacific department.

Strategic partnership means a lot of things including first and foremost food security.

Mr. Modi will receive protocol reserved only for the U.S. President and the Pope, as Mr. Netanyahu
greets him at the airport for a welcome ceremony. Also present will be priests of different faiths including
rabbis, imams and priests.

Both leaders will then travel to the Danziger floriculture farm in a village community also called a
Moshav not far from the airport. Mr. Modi will then pay respects at Israels holocaust memorial
YadVashem in Jerusalem.

Leaders and their delegations will have talks, and the signing of several agreements including that have
been discussed over the past few months during visits by at least seven separate delegations from India,
and will issue a joint statement.

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Palestine says it understands the need for India to de-hyphenate


ties
Indias relations with Israel should not come at the expense of ties with Palestine, but the Palestinian
Authority (PA) understands the need for India to de-hyphenate ties with both, says the Palestinian
Presidents diplomatic adviser.

Mr. Modi will travel to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem from July 4, and will be the first Indian Prime Minister to
visit Israel.

However, unlike President Mukherjee, and three External Affairs Ministers Jaswant Singh (2000), S.M.
Krishna (2012) and Sushma Swaraj (2016), Mr. Modi will not pay a visit to the Palestinian side.

Instead, the government had hosted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Delhi in May this year,
separately signing several agreements on development assistance, and backing Palestines claim to a
two-state solution.

Aerosols from vehicular exhaust may be weakening the life-


giving rainy season
GHGs, are causing concern about the long-term fate of the Indian monsoon, researchers now think
aerosols from vehicular exhaust, half-burnt crop residue, dust and chemical effluents may be weakening
the life-giving rainy season even more than GHGs.

An Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, team led by climatologist R. Krishnan studying the
likely monsoon impact of GHGs over the next century has come to this conclusion.

In 2015, Mr. Krishnan reported in the journal Climate Dynamics that a mix of GHGs, aerosols and
changes in forest and agricultural cover was affecting the strength of the monsoon, which was known to
be weakening over the last 50 years.

The scientist and his team used an upgraded forecasting model that was used this year by the India
Meteorological Department for forecasts.

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The model will help prepare Indias first home-grown forecast of climate change from global warming, and
be part of the IPCC reports, which are considered the global scientific consensus on the role of man-
made pollution in climate change.

Dust clouds shield the earth from the suns rays, depressing land and sea temperatures and reducing the
variation between the two.

A good monsoon, which is produced by the difference in temperature between land and sea, is thus
weakened by aerosol accumulation. Aerosols cause air pollution and smog and aggravate conditions
such as asthma.

China has released a map to back its claim of India's intrusion


China has released a map to back its claim that Indian troops transgressed into the Doklam area of the
Sikkim sector, which it claims as part of its territory.

In the map, released by the Chinese Foreign Ministry, a blue arrow with markings in Chinese points to
Indian troops alleged transgression to prevent the People's Liberation Army (PLA) from building a
strategic road. The map shows Doklam as part of Chinese territory.

Bhutan has protested to China asserting that the area is part of its territory and Chinese action is violative
of 1988 and 1998 agreements.

The map is in addition to two photographs released purportedly showing Indian troops on the Chinese
side of the border. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman displayed the photographs of the alleged Indian
incursion during a media briefing.

A standoff erupted between the two militaries after the Indian Army blocked construction of the road by
China in the Doklam area.

China alleged that the Indian troops trespassed the recognised delineated boundary on June 18. India
expressed concerns over China constructing the road in the disputed area and said this had serious
security implications.

India continue to slide in money parked by its citizens with Swiss


banks ranking
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India has slipped to the 88th place in terms of money parked by its citizens with Swiss banks, while the
U.K. remains on the top.

Also, the money officially held by Indians with banks in Switzerland now accounts for a meagre 0.04 per
cent of the total funds kept by all foreign clients in the Swiss banking system, as per an analysis of the
latest figures compiled by the Swiss National Bank as on 2016-end.

India was placed at 75th position in 2015 and at 61st in the year before that, though it used to be among
top-50 countries in terms of holdings in Swiss banks till 2007. The country was ranked highest at 37th
place in 2004.

The latest data from the Zurich-based SNB comes ahead of a new framework for automatic exchange of
information between Switzerland and India to help check the black money menace.
The funds are the official figures and do not indicate the quantum of black money.

Government has cancelled the registration of one lakh companies


The government has cancelled the registration of one lakh companies that had suspicious and
questionable operations, identified on the basis of data mined from the deposit of bank notes following
last Novembers demonetisation.

More such action will follow soon on two lakh similar companies and another 38,000 shell companies, Mr.
Modi said, adding that the action was undertaken 48 hours before.

The fate of one lakh companies has been locked with one stroke of a pen in one minute. The Registrar
of Companies has removed these one lakh companies.

More will be found and even tougher action can be expected against shell companies, Mr. Modi said,
addressing chartered accountants.

Stressing that the decision to scrap such fake companies could hurt some political parties, he said
someone had to take the tough call and live for the country.

Arguing that his government was running a Swachh Bharat Abhiyan as well as a parallel campaign to
clean up the economy, he said the tough steps taken against black money in the last three years had
begun yielding results, and cited the record low balances held by Indians in Swiss banks last year.

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Mangrove Forest Cover Changes report depicts dampening


picture
In a development that will ring alarm bells for both environmentalists and policy makers, the mangrove
forest cover in the Indian Sunderbans has been depleting alarmingly over the past few decades.

Mangrove Forest Cover Changes in Indian Sundarban (1986-2012) Using Remote Sensing and GIS , a
publication by the School of Oceanographic Studies, Jadavpur University, reveals that from 1986 to
2012, 124.418 sq. km. mangrove forest cover has been lost.

The total forest cover of the Indian Sunderbans as assessed by remote sensing studies for the year 1986
was about 2,246.839 sq. km., which gradually declined by 2,201.41 sq. km. in 1996, then down to
2168.914 sq km in 2001 and to 2122.421 sq km in 2012.

The loss in the mangrove forest in the Indian Sunderbans is about 5.5 %.

The paper also notes that the mean sea level rise at the Sagar Island Station, measured from 1985
onward till 2010, shows a rise by 2.6-4 mm a year, which can be considered a driving factor for coastal
erosion, coastal flooding, and an increase in the number of tidal creeks.

The publication highlights a time series of the erosion of at least 18 mangrove forested islands of the
Indian Sunderbans from 1986 to 2012.

For instance, the loss in mangrove cover at Gosaba has been about 20%, down from 517.47 sq km in
1986 to 506.691 sq km in 2012.

In Dulibhasani West, the loss of mangrove cover has been about 9.7% from 180.03 sq. km. in 1986 to
163.475 sq. km. in 2012.

The mangrove forest cover of Dalhousie, another island, has depleted by 16%, from 76.606 sq. km. in
1986 to 64.241 in 2012.

Bhangaduni has one of the highest erosion levels of mangrove forest land, from 40.4 sq. km. in 1986 to
24.9 sq km in 2012, taking the loss to over 37%.

Jambudwip, one of the smallest uninhabited islands at the mouth of the sea, also has reduced forest
cover from 6.095 sq. km. in 1986 to 5.003 sq. km. in 2012, or about 10%.

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While earlier studies also expressed concerns over the fragile ecosystem of the Indian Sunderbans that,
other than being home to the Royal Bengal Tiger, also harbours a population of 4.5 million people, this
study presents definite proof of the loss of land and mangrove cover.

Rate of growth for India students goint to US is currently the


highest
In 1998-99, there were just 707 Indian students in American colleges. In the years since except for
one dip between 2010 and 2012 there has been a steady rise. 2015-16 saw a 25% increase, the third
successive year of rising numbers.

Since Donald Trumps ascension to the American presidency, however, there have been disturbing
incidents where discrimination against Indians has escalated to violence; since February, seven Indians
have been killed in racially motivated hate crimes.

Education consultants say this atmosphere has caused a drop in the number of students planning for a
U.S. degree. Enquiries have declined, says Narsi Gayam of Promac, a GRE coaching institute in
Hyderabad.

Jimeet Sanghavi of Collegepond, a Mumbai-based consulting service for students, agrees. Unwilling to
share the exact numbers, as those would help his competitors, he said demand was 49% higher than last
year.

U.S. consulates in India were unable to provide statistics for the current year, but the overall trend in
student visa applications been growing over the last five years.

The Open Doors Report says the rate of growth for India is currently the highest among the top 25 places
of origin among international students in the U.S. America would certainly be keen to see that trend
continue.

The figures for this year will become clearer towards August, when the number of approved student visas
for the fall semester (when most courses commence) will be available.

New Delhi has a very special relationship with Bhutan

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The present standoff between Indian and Chinese troops in Doklam is a rare insight into New Delhis very
special relationship with Bhutan, which includes military responsibilities towards it.

In Indias only official statement on the standoff, the Ministry of External Affairs said that on June 16, a
PLA (Peoples Liberation Army) construction party entered the Doklam area and attempted to construct
a road.

It is our understanding that a Royal Bhutan Army patrol attempted to dissuade them from this unilateral
activity.

The MEA statement went on to say that the Foreign Ministry of Bhutan has also issued a statement
underlining that the construction of the road inside Bhutanese territory is a direct violation of the 1988 and
1998 agreements between Bhutan and China and affects the process of demarcating the boundary
between these two countries.

MEA statement said, In keeping with their tradition of maintaining close consultation on matters of
mutual interest, RGOB (Royal Government of Bhutan) and the Government of India have been in
continuous contact through the unfolding of these developments.

It further said that in coordination with the Bhutanese government, Indian personnel, who were present
at general area Doklam, approached the Chinese construction party and urged them to desist from
changing the status quo. These efforts continue.

Under the 2007 India-Bhutan Friendship Treaty, the two sides have agreed to cooperate closely with
each other on issues relating to their national interests. Neither Government shall allow the use of its
territory for activities harmful to the national security and interest of the other.

Under the previous treaty, India was to guide Bhutan on foreign and defence policies. The language of
the 2007 treaty is meant to respect the sensitivities of Bhutan regarding its sovereignty.

But the reality is that the Indian military is virtually responsible for protecting Bhutan from the kind of
external threat that the Chinese military poses.

The Eastern Army Command and the Eastern Air Command both have integrated protection of Bhutan
into their role. The Indian Military Training Team (IMTRAT), headed by a Major General, plays a critical
role in training Bhutanese security personnel.

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Indigenously developed molecular diagnostic test for TB


A cheaper, indigenously developed molecular diagnostic test for drug-sensitive and rifampicin-resistant
TB is entering the final leg of performance validation and operational feasibility testing by the Indian
Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

ICMR plans to take the test to Public Health Centres, which currently use smear samples to test for TB,
with a sensitivity level of only 50%, which is roughly half of what the newer method has achieved.

The diagnostic tool, Truenat MTB, which uses sputum samples for diagnosing TB is being tested in the
field in 100 designated microscopy centres in 50 districts in 10 States.

The one-month study will look at nearly 18,000 samples and the results are expected next month. The
diagnostic tool has already been installed in 80% of designated microscopy centres for testing.

Validation carried by ICMR at four sites in India tested nearly 5,000 samples from 2,500 patients. The
samples were also tested for resistance to the drug rifampicin and the results have been encouraging.

Based on the results of a preliminary test carried out on 191 patient samples in 2013 , the sensitivity
(ability of a test to correctly identify those with the disease) of Truenat MTB was found to be over 91%
and the specificity was 100%.

The battery-operated, hand-held machine takes about 25 minutes for DNA extraction and another 35
minutes for diagnosing TB. It takes an additional one hour for testing rifampicin resistance.

Compared with a one ml of sample needed when GeneXpert, a molecular test developed in the U.S., is
used, only about 0.5 ml is required for a test with Truenat MTB.

According to Dr. Gomathi, the main advantage of Truenat MTB over GeneXpert is that only when
samples are tested positive for TB will tests for rifampicin resistance be carried out.

While GeneXpert is a closed cartilage system, Truenat MTB is an open system the DNA is first
extracted and the testing is carried out using a portion of that DNA.

R.K. Pachnanda, took over as the 29th ITBP chief

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Amid ongoing tensions with the Chinese Army, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), the main force
deployed along the China border, got a new chief.

R.K. Pachnanda, a 1983-batch IPS officer of the West Bengal cadre, took over as the 29th ITBP
chief.Prior to the new posting, he was Director-General, National Disaster Response Force.

Mr. Pachnanda has served in major Central paramilitary forces and organisations, including the CRPF,
the CISF, the BSF, the SPG and the CBI.

The ITBP is a 90,000-strong force that primarily guards the 3,488-km India-China border located at
freezing heights of up to 18,700 ft in the upper Himalayas.
In some areas such as Nathu La in Sikkim, the troops are posted a few kilometres behind the Army.

Goods and Services tax started in India


One of the key sticking points thwarting consensus in the Goods and Services Council over the course of
its meetings in 2016 was the compensation the Centre would have to pay States for any losses they
might incur due to the implementation of the new indirect tax regime.

The GST is a destination-based tax, and as such is viewed as being to the advantage of the consuming
States and to the detriment of the producing States like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Haryana, and
Karnataka.

These States had raised objections to the implementation of GST, forcing the Centre to agree to a
formula for compensating them in the event of a loss of revenue.

The 14th FC advised the Centre to provide 100% compensation to States for their revenue loss after
implementation of GST for the first three years. The fourth year would bring 75% compensation, and the
fifth year 50% compensation.

This, however, did not pacify the States who demanded full compensation for five years. The Centre
agreed to this demand in December 2016, settling one of the most contentious issues delaying GST.

The next question, however, was how the Centre was going to finance this compensation package, which
experts estimated could be as much as Rs. 55,000 crore.

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The GST, once implemented, will subsume almost all the cesses levied at the moment, including Swachh
Bharat Cess and Krishi Kalyan Cess. Other cesses like the education cess on imported goods and the
cess on crude oil will remain under GST.

However, the government needs extra revenue to compensate the States, and so the GST Council
decided to impose additional cesses for five years on certain goods over and above the highest tax
bracket of 28%.

These goods on which cess will be levied include tobacco products, coal, motor vehicles, which include
all types of cars, personal aircraft, and yachts.

Hours prior to the official launch, the GST Council chaired by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley slashed the
tax rate on fertilizers from 12% to 5% and tractor parts from 28% to 18%, in a bid to make the new tax
regime more farmer-friendly.

The Council also approved additional rules for GST implementation, the Finance Minister said, while the
Finance Ministry said on its Twitter handle that the GST rate on exclusive parts of tractors has been
reduced from 28% to 18%.

Meanwhile, a last-ditch attempt by Jammu and Kashmir to pass the necessary legislation to enable a
simultaneous rollout of GST with the rest of the country failed, as no consensus could be reached. A
special session of the J&K Assembly will be held from July 4 to discuss the issue.

Mr. Jaitley had earlier warned the State about the adverse impact on its consumers as well as
businesses if they fail to roll out GST in sync with the other States.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the rollout of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) will ease inflation,
make tax avoidance difficult and boost GDP growth.

Addressing the midnight launch event of the GST in the Central Hall of Parliament, Mr. Jaitley said the
implementation of the landmark unified tax should be seen as the beginning of a new journey that will
expand the countrys economic horizon.

India is making history with the launch of GST, which is the biggest and most ambitious tax and economic
reform in its history, the Finance Minister said.

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Terming GST as an important achievement, Mr Jaitley said not only will India write a new destiny, the
new tax regime would also strengthen federalism.

He appreciated the efforts of all Members of Parliament, State finance ministers and officials in making
GST a reality when many had expressed doubts over its roll out from July 1.

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INTERNATIONAL
US senate passed a stiff financial sanctions against Russia
The U.S. Senate is sending a package of stiff financial sanctions against Russia to President Donald
Trump to sign after the Bill received overwhelming support in Congress.

Moscow has already responded, ordering a reduction in the number of U.S. diplomats in Russia and
closing the U.S. embassys recreation retreat.

Mr. Trumps likelihood of supporting the measure is a remarkable concession that the President has yet
to sell his party on his hopes for forging a warmer relationship with Moscow.

Mr. Trumps vow to extend a hand of cooperation to Russian President Vladimir Putin has been met with
resistance as sceptical lawmakers look to limit the executive powers leeway to go easy on Moscow over
its alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

The Senate passed the Bill, 98-2, two days after the House pushed the measure through by an
overwhelming margin, 419-3. Both are veto proof numbers as the White House has wavered on whether
the President would sign the measure into law.

Never in doubt, however, was a cornerstone of the legislation that bars Mr. Trump from easing or waiving
the additional penalties on Russia unless Congress agrees.

The provisions were included to assuage concerns among U.S. lawmakers that the Presidents push for
better relations with Moscow might lead him to relax the penalties without first securing concessions from
the Kremlin.

The legislation is aimed at punishing Moscow for interfering in the 2016 presidential election and for its
military aggression in Ukraine and Syria, where the Kremlin has backed President Bashar al-Assad.

It also imposes financial sanctions against Iran and North Korea.Sen. John McCain said the Bills
passage was long overdue, a jab at Mr. Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress.

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Russias Foreign Ministry said it had ordered the U.S. Embassy in Russia to reduce the number of its
diplomats by September 1. Russia will also close down the embassys recreational retreat on the
outskirts of Moscow as well as warehouse facilities.

Meanwhile, some European countries expressed concerns that the measures targeting Russias energy
sector would harm its businesses involved in piping Russian natural gas.

Germanys foreign minister said his country wouldnt accept the U.S. sanctions against Russia being
applied to European companies.

Sri Lanka will proceed with the billion-dollar sale of a deep sea
port to China
Sri Lanka will proceed with the billion-dollar sale of a deep sea port to China despite protests in an effort
to slash its foreign debt, Prime Minister said.

The Hambantota port straddles the worlds busiest east-west shipping route and several countries,
including neighbouring India, had raised concerns China could use it for its own military needs.

The port, built in 2010 with a massive loan from China and named after former President
MahindaRajapaksa, has failed to generate enough business to even pay staff salaries.

Port workers had called for a strike on Friday to protest the deal, but cancelled it after the government
used tough laws to outlaw industrial action.

Mr. Wickremesinghe said the government would sign off Saturday on the $1.12 billion deal with China
Merchants Port Holdings to jointly manage the facility. Cash from the firms majority stake will be used to
repay part of the island nations huge foreign debt.

An Opposition faction loyal to Mr. Rajapaksa scuttled a parliamentary debate on the sale, calling it a
move to privatise the countrys assets.

Ramon Magsaysay award

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A Japanese historian who helped Cambodians preserve the Angkor temples and a Sri Lankan teacher
who counselled war widows and orphans to overcome their nightmares are among the six winners of this
years

Ramon Magsaysay Awards, regarded as Asias version of the Nobel Prize.

The other recipients are an Indonesian working for the return of large tracts of forest land to indigenous
communities, a Singaporean who leads the cooking of 6,000 meals a day for the destitute, a Philippine
theatre group which stood up to a dictatorship and a Filipino who oversaw the opening of job-generating
export processing zones.

The awards, named after a Philippine president who died in a 1957 plane crash, are to be presented in
Manila.

The winners were unafraid to take on large causes and refused to give up, despite meagre resources,
daunting adversity and strong opposition.

YoshiakiIshizawa, a 79-year-old scholar of Southeast Asian history who has served as president of
Japans Sophia University, devoted 50 years of his life to help preserve Cambodias Angkor Wat temple.

Conservation work at Angkor Wat was suspended for years under the Khmer Rouge. When the group fell
from power in 1979, violence had decimated the pool of Cambodian conservationists.

Mr. Ishizawa led an effort in Japan and Cambodia to save the temple, putting Cambodians at the centre
of the effort.

Gethsie Shanmugam, 82, a teacher and psychological counsellor from Sri Lankas Tamil community, won
for braving bombings and threats of arrests in conflict zones to counsel war widows, orphans and children
traumatised by three decades of brutal civil war in her country.

AbdonNababan from Indonesias Sumatra Island was cited for leading an effort to return state-controlled
forest land to indigenous communities.

Singaporean businessman Tony Tay, who was abandoned by his father as a child and brought by his
homeless mother to an orphanage, won the award for organising volunteers starting in 1983 to cook and
distribute thousands of free meal packs every day to feed the elderly, migrant workers and low-income
families.
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Coming from a family of Philippine government officials, Lilia de Lima oversaw the opening of hundreds
of job-generating export processing zones across the country as head of the Philippine Economic Zone
Authority, earning her the award.

The private Philippine Educational Theatre Association was founded in 1967 with an initial aim of creating
a national theatre but served as an artistic platform for protest when dictator Ferdinand Marcos declared
martial law. Its advocacies through the arts have since expanded to gender issues and disaster
preparedness.

Its Amazon founder the worlds richest person


Amazon founder Jeff Bezos became the worlds richest person, as a jump in the share price of the U.S.
tech giant enabled him to overtake Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Forbes magazine estimated.

The magazine said its real-time tracking of personal fortunes showed Mr. Bezos with a net worth of $90.5
billion, ahead of the $90 billion for Mr. Gates.

What Happened
Hillary Clinton is calling her new book What Happened and promises unprecedented candour as she
remembers her stunning defeat last year to U.S. President Donald Trump.

Simon &Schuster said that Ms. Clintons book will be a highly personal work that also is a cautionary
tale about Russian interference in last years election and its threat to democracy.

In public remarks since last fall, the Democrat has cited Russia as a factor in her defeat to her
Republican opponent, along with a letter sent by then-FBI Director James Comey less than two weeks
before the election.

Now free from the constraints of running, Hillary takes you inside the intense personal experience of
becoming the first woman nominated for president by a major party in an election marked by rage,
sexism, exhilarating highs and infuriating lows, stranger-than-fiction twists, Russian interference, and an
opponent who broke all the rule.

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What Happened is scheduled to come out September 12. Ms. Clintons previous works include the 2003
memoir Living History , published while she was a U.S. senator from New York, and a book about her
years as secretary of state, Hard Choices , which came out in 2014 as she prepared to launch her
presidential candidacy.

She also wrote It Takes a Village And Other Lessons Children Teach Us when she was U.S. First Lady.

Ms. Clintons upcoming memoir isnt the first political book to be called What Happened. Scott McClellan,
a former White House press secretary during the George W. Bush administration, released a book with
the same title in 2008. Mr. McClellans memoir was an unexpectedly critical take on his former boss that
became a bestseller.

Tensions between U.S and China


The U.S. Pacific Fleet commander he would launch a nuclear strike against China next week if President
Donald Trump ordered it, and warned against the military ever shifting its allegiance from its commander
in chief.

Adm. Scott Swift was responding to a hypothetical question at an Australian National University security
conference following a major joint U.S.-Australian military exercise off the Australian coast. The drills
were monitored by a Chinese intelligence-gathering ship off northeast Australia.

Every member of the U.S. military has sworn an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States
against all enemies foreign and domestic and to obey the officers and the President of the United States
as commander and chief appointed over us.

The biennial Talisman Saber exercise involved 36 warships, including the aircraft carrier USS Ronald
Reagan , 220 aircraft and 33,000 military personnel. It was monitored by a Chinese Peoples Liberation
Army-Navy

Type 815 Dongdiao-class auxiliary general intelligence vessel from within Australias 200-mile exclusive
economic zone.

European Union and US target each other over Russian sanctions

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The European Union hit out at the United States after an overwhelming vote by the House of
Representatives to impose new sanctions on Russia left President Donald Trump facing a tough call.

The package, which targets Russia, Iran and North Korea, tightens the screws on our most dangerous
adversaries in order to keep Americans safe, House Speaker Paul Ryan said after it passed on Tuesday
by 419 votes to three.

It now heads to the Senate before Mr. Trump faces the tricky choice of whether to veto the Bill, opposed
by the White House and considerably constrains his ability to lift the penalties.

While Moscow and Tehran raised the prospect of retaliation over any fresh punitive measures, the EU
also warned it was ready to act to protect European interests if the legislation hit dealings with the
Russian energy sector.

The U.S. Bill was the result of a congressional compromise aimed at punishing the Kremlin for allegedly
interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and intervening in Ukraine.

Key among the provisions is one that handcuffs Mr. Trump by complicating any unilateral efforts to ease
sanctions against Moscow in future.

Despite initially opposing the Bill, Mr. Trump appears to have few options in the face of near-total
consensus in Congress, with a decision likely due by mid-August.

But even if Mr. Trump were to veto the legislation, Congress would likely be able to overcome such a
blockage with a two-thirds majority in each chamber.

Moscow responded angrily, with Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov insisting Washington had been
warned dozens of times that any new sanctions would not go unanswered.

The authors and sponsors of this Bill are taking a very serious step towards destroying the possibilities
for normalising relations with Russia, he told.

Hambantota port deal revised


Sri Lankas Cabinet cleared a revised deal for the Chinese-built port in Hambantota, the government
said. The modified agreement, the government added, was more profitable to Sri Lanka and also
addressed security concerns raised by other countries.

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Srilankan Cabinet gave final approval to sell 70% stake in the southern port to the state-run China
Merchants Port Holdings for $1.12 billion.

Some [diplomatic] missions here were worried that the port would be used as a military naval base. As
per the revised agreement Sri Lanka will manage the port security.

While the Chinese would manage port operations, no naval ship, including Chinese ones, can call at
Hambantota without Srilanka permission.

Indias apprehensions about the apparently growing Chinese presence in the island nation are well
known, given the two countries competing strategic interests here. The Hambantota port is part of
Chinas Belt and Road Initiative.

Beijings stake in the port and its plan to acquire 15,000 acres of adjoining land to help Colombo set up
an industrial zone have strengthened the fears of those wary of Chinas growth in the region.

The Hambantota port was built with Chinese loans in 2010 during Mr. Rajapaksas term. Deeming the
project a white elephant, the MaithripalaSirisena-RanilWickremesinghe government decided in late
2016 to sell 80% stake in the port to the Chinese company in order to tackle the $8 billion debt Sri Lanka
owes China.

Under the agreement, Colombo will receive $1.12 billion for a 99-year lease.

Irans tech sector blooms under shield of sanctions


The names may be unfamiliar but the services are immediately recognisable: Snapp is Irans answer to
Uber, Digikala is its Amazon, and Pintapin its Booking.com.

U.S. sanctions have protected the Islamic republics tech sector, barring Silicon Valley from profiting from
one of the worlds most promising emerging markets, and giving a free run to domestic start-ups to
recreate their services.

Even some Californian mumbo-jumbo has been imported: one booth at the Elecomp tech fair in Tehran
this week claimed it was Creating Artificial Mindfulness.
But dont dare call them copycats transplanting a foreign business model to Iran is never straightforward.

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Pintapins staff are not just building a website, they are transforming Irans entire hotel industry. Up until
very recently, a lot of travel arrangements were done completely offline through phone calls and faxes
and traditional models that really belong in the last century.

Half the companys time is spent convincing hotels to give up pen-and-paper reservations and start
automating their business.

Some Iranians have found ways to profit from sanctions: one company at Elecomp buys Amazon
products from the U.S. and ships them to Iranians for a small surcharge.

But isolation has been a very mixed blessing. There are two sides to the coin. When you are under
sanctions, you have an opportunity to do many things yourself. But generally, its not a good thing... you
cant live like an island in this world.
But generally, it [sanctions] is not a good thing. you cant live like an island in this world.

China fires back at U.S. accusations over aerial encounter


China denied its fighter jet pilots operated dangerously during an encounter with a U.S. surveillance
plane in international airspace in which the American pilot took evasive action to avoid a possible
collision.

Mr. Ren criticised frequent close-in surveillance runs by U.S. planes as raising the chance of accidents,
saying such missions threatened Chinas national security, harmed China-U.S. sea-air military safety,
endangered the safety of pilots from the two sides and were the root cause of China-U.S. sea-air
unexpected incidents.

U.S. Navy Captian Jeff Davis said the Chinese fighters intercepted the U.S. EP-3 surveillance plane on
Sunday in international airspace between the East China Sea and the Yellow Sea, in an area he
described as west of the Korean Peninsula.

China in 2013 declared an air defence identification zone over a partly contested portion of the East
China Sea, demanding foreign aircraft declare their presence and follow Chinese orders.

The U.S. and others swiftly dismissed the zone as invalid and have largely ignored it. It wasnt clear if
Sundays encounter took place inside the zone.

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Such incidents continue to occur despite an agreement between the two sides to prevent them from
sparking an international crisis, as happened in April 2001 when a Chinese jet fighter collided with a U.S.
EP-3.

That led to the death of the Chinese pilot and Chinas detention of the U.S. air crew for 10 days after their
crippled plane landed at a PLA air base in Hainan.

While China has long chafed at U.S. surveillance operations targeting its military, the PLA itself has been
conducting such missions further and further from its home ports.

Inscription, made of over 130 Chinese characters found:


An ancient rock inscription and stone monument dating back 900 years have been discovered on a
mountain in Chinas Hebei province.
The inscription, made of over 130 Chinese characters, was carved on a piece of smooth stone

The stone monument was underneath the inscription, on which about 300 Chinese characters were
carved.

Both the inscription and the monument recorded the renovation of the Chouchan Temple during the Song
Dynasty.

The new discovery offers valuable materials to study the history of Chouchan Temple and other famous
temples.

Chinese jets intercept U.S. aircraft


A U.S. surveillance plane was forced to take evasive action after two Chinese fighters intercepted it over
the East China Sea, the Pentagon.

The incident occurred when the two Chinese J-10 warplanes intercepted a U.S. Navy EP-3
reconnaissance plane in international air space west of the Korean Peninsula.

One of the Chinese jets came underneath the U.S. plane at high speed, then slowed and pulled up in
front of it.

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Keeping safe while cruising in the Arctic


When the Crystal Serenity , a 1,000-passenger luxury liner, sails in August on a month-long Arctic cruise
through the Northwest Passage, it will have a far more utilitarian escort: a British supply ship.

The Ernest Shackleton , which normally resupplies scientific bases in Antarctica, will help with the
logistics of shore excursions along the route from Alaska to New York through Canadas Arctic
Archipelago.

But the escort ship will also be there should the Serenity become stuck in ice or something else goes
wrong. The Shackleton can manoeuvre through ice and will be carrying emergency water and rations for
the liners passengers and 600 crew members, oil spill containment gear and a couple of helicopters.

As global warming reduces the extent of sea ice in the Arctic, more ships cargo carriers as well as
liners like the Serenity taking tourists to see the regions natural beauty will be plying far northern
waters. Experts in maritime safety say that raises concerns about what will happen when something
inevitably goes wrong.

Although the Arctic has not been the site of a major incident involving a cruise ship in recent years, a
smaller liner, the Explorer , sank off the Antarctic Peninsula in 2007 after striking an iceberg.

Fortunately several other ships were not very far from the stricken ship, and the 150 passengers and
crew were rescued after five hours in lifeboats.

Arab League accused Israel of playing with fire


The Arab League accused Israel of playing with fire with new security measures at a highly sensitive
Jerusalem holy site.

Jerusalem is a red line, its chief Ahmed Abul Gheit said in a statement, adding that no Arab or Muslim
will accept violations against the citys holy sites.

Abul Gheit accused Israels government of adventurism and said its moves could trigger a crisis with
the Arab and Muslim world.

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Turkeys President Recep Tayyip Erdogan too condemned the Israeli security precautions, saying the
Islamic world would not remain silent.

He had called on Israel to remove the detectors in a phone conversation with his counterpart Reuven
Rivlin.

Pope Francis also expressed concern and said that he was alarmed by the recent violence. He called for
dialogue and moderation to help restore peace.

Israel sent more troops to the West Bank amid widespread


Palestinian clashes
Israel sent more troops to the West Bank, a day after a Palestinian stabbed to death three members of
an Israeli family in their home and widespread Israeli-Palestinian clashes erupted over escalating
tensions at the Holy Lands most contested shrine.

The father of the 20-year-old Palestinian assailant said he believes his son was upset over the loss of
Palestinian lives and wanted to protect the honour of the Jerusalem holy site.

A senior Israeli government official blamed the latest round of violence on what he said was Palestinian
incitement against Israel and called on Palestinian leaders to help restore calm.

Disputes over the shrine, revered by Muslims and Jews, have set off major rounds of Israeli-Palestinian
confrontations in the past.

They were also at the root of the current violence which began last week when Arab gunmen fired from
the shrine, killing two Israeli policemen.

In response, Israel installed metal detectors at the gates of the 37-acre walled compound, portraying the
devices as a needed security measure to prevent more attacks.

Muslims alleged Israel was trying to expand its control at the Muslim-administered site under the guise of
security a claim Israel denies and launched mass prayer protests.

Anger boiled over and several thousand Palestinians clashed with Israeli security forces in the West Bank
and in Jerusalem after noon prayers. Three Palestinians were killed and several dozen wounded by live
rounds and bullets in some of the worst street clashes in two years.
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The Israeli military said the assailant killed a man and two of his adult children, while a woman was
wounded.

Sri Lankas new Constitution to be ready by January 2018


Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the draft of Sri Lankas new Constitution would be ready by
January 2018, yet again shifting the deadline for the challenging task his government took up after
coming to power in 2015.

As per earlier assurances, the government should have already debated the draft Constitution in
Parliament by now, and prepared for a referendum after a likely two-thirds majority.

But even as the government tried fast-tracking the process, a section of the countrys influential Buddhist
clergy said there was no need for a new Constitution.

Senior Minister and Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said they would go ahead with drafting the
new Constitution as per the mandate they got in the 2015 elections.

The pressure is partly to do with the complex arrangement of a national unity government, with the Sri
Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the rival United National Party (UNP) cohabiting it.

There seems to be a widely-shared understanding that this government should look ahead faster than it
needs to look behind.

That is what the March UN resolution in Geneva, co-sponsored by the U.S., Sri Lanka and other
countries, seemed to indicate when it gave the country a two-year extension to fulfil its commitments on
accountability.

At the same time, the Tamil leaders patience is evidently waning. Amid severe criticism from sections of
its support base in the north, the TNA has begun articulating its frustration with the government loud and
clear.

US ended the program to provide arms and supplies to Syrian


rebel groups

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President Donald Trump has ended the clandestine American program to provide arms and supplies to
Syrian rebel groups.
A recognition that the effort was failing and that the administration has given up hope of helping to topple
the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
The decision came more than a month ago by which time the effort to deliver the arms had slowed to a
trickle.
It joins similar failed efforts to deliver arms and money to groups seeking to overthrow governments that
Washington found noxious, most famously the Kennedy administrations disastrous effort to do away with
the government of Fidel Castro in Cuba.
Irans Foreign Minister charged that the U.S. had helped destabilise the region, and portrayed Iran as
merely defending its interests.
Washington, instead, views Irans aid to the Assad government as part of an effort to restore itself as a
major regional power.
From the start, there were doubts that arming disorganised, often internally fractious forces would
succeed.
Those discussions have been possible because Mr. Assad, secure in his support from Moscow and
Tehran, no longer sees a fundamental threat to his ability to remain in power.
Mr. Trumps decisions amounted to an acknowledgement that no escalation of the programme, which
began in 2013 in concert with the CIAs counterparts in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Jordan, was likely to
yield a different result.
The programme became less relevant as the Russians increased their presence in Syria, targeting and
badly weakening the CIA-backed rebels, who were the most capable of the opposition fighters. That
helped the Assad government claw back and consolidate territorial gains.

U.S. certified that Iran is complying with an international nuclear


agreement
U.S. President Donald Trump agreed to certify again that Iran is complying with an international nuclear
agreement that he has strongly criticised, but only after hours of arguing with his top national security
advisers.

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Mr. Trump has repeatedly condemned the deal brokered by President Barack Obama as a dangerous
capitulation to Iran, but six months into his presidency, he has not abandoned it.

The decision was the second time his administration certified Irans compliance, and aides said a
frustrated Mr. Trump had told his security team that he would not keep doing so indefinitely.

By law, the administration is required to notify Congress every 90 days whether Iran is living up to the
deal, which limited its nuclear programme in exchange for the lifting of many international sanctions.

Mr. Trump did not want to certify Irans compliance the first time around either, but was talked into it on
the condition that his team come back with a new strategy to confront Tehran.

U.S. National Defence Authorisation Act wants increase in ties


with India
The U.S. National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) 2018 passed by the House of Representatives has
mandated the Secretaries of Defense and State to come up with a strategy for advancing defence
cooperation between India and the U.S. in six months.

The legislation that appropriates funds for defence will have to be passed by the Senate before it moves
for the Presidents signature.

Last years NDAA had designated India as a major defence partner, and also had a similar provision for
preparing a strategy, but the findings of the review has not been published yet.

The term, major defence partner remains undefined, but senior officials have explained that after the
designation, Indias request for arms and technology is treated with a presumption of approval now, as
opposed to a presumption of denial that existed earlier.

The Bill passed by the House supports the massive hike in defence spending proposed by President
Donald Trump, focussing on missile defence, adding more troops and ships, a 2.4% salary increase for
soldiers.

The Bill, however, has several provisions that the Trump administration is not keen on. After the Senate
passes its version of the Bill, both will have to be reconciled.

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U.S. imposes tougher conditions for reimbursement of defence


funding to Pakistan
The U.S. House of Representatives has voted for three legislative amendments to impose tougher
conditions for reimbursement of defence funding to Pakistan, making it conditional to Islamabad showing
satisfactory progress in the fight against terrorism.

The terms are related to Pakistans support to terror outfits, about which several top U.S. officials have
repeatedly expressed concerns.

All the amendments to the $651-billion National Defence Authorisation Act 2018 were adopted by the
Lower House of Congress on Friday.

It specifies that the support authorised for Pakistan would not be eligible for a national security waiver
unless the Secretary of Defense certifies that Pakistan continues to conduct military operations against
the Haqqani Network in North Waziristan.

Tough parliamentary battle over Brexit strategy


The tough parliamentary battle awaiting the British government over its Brexit strategy was highlighted as
it published the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, better known as the repeal bill.

While the government said the Bill was designed to ensure Britain exited the union with maximum
certainty, continuity and control, Opposition parties have sharply criticised elements of the legislation and
warned they would block it.

Among the most controversial elements of the bill is the decision to abandon the EUs charter of
fundamental rights, which sets out, in a single document, all the fundamental civil, social, political rights
and protections of EU citizens, and give the government sweeping powers to make changes without
thorough parliamentary scrutiny.

Keeping Britain in the charter was one of six areas on which the Labour party has sought concessions
from the government, including on workers protections and limiting the use of Henry VIII powers that
allow the government to amend significant legislation with minimal parliamentary scrutiny.

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The Bill also provoked an angry response from the governments of Scotland and Wales, which warned
they would vote against it in its current form.

Germany open to idea of Euro Zone budget and finance minister


German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was open to the creation of a Finance Minister and budget
for the eurozone as proposed by French President Emmanuel Macron.

I have nothing against a eurozone budget [and] we can talk about creating a European Finance
Minister, Ms. Merkel said after talks in Paris with Mr. Macron. We agree that the eurozone must be
stabilised and further developed.

It is in our greatest interest that all eurozone countries are strong, she added.

Mr. Macron has warned Germany that it must move to correct the dysfunctions of the eurozone and
give it the fate it deserves.

China is looking to reduce the size of its Army


China will downsize its 2.3 million-strong Peoples Liberation Army to under one million as the worlds
largest military effected its biggest troop reduction in history to bolster its navy and strategic missile
forces.

The massive troop reduction is part of the restructuring of the PLA and evenly proportion the army and
other services, the PLA Daily. The PLA will increase the numbers of other services, including navy and
missile forces.

The reform is based on Chinas strategic goals and security requirements. In the past, the PLA focused
on ground battle and homeland defence, which will undergo fundamental changes.

This is the first time that active PLA army personnel would be reduced to below one million.

German Chancellor says open to EU-US trade talks


German Chancellor Angela Merkel says shes open to restarting talks with the United States on a trade
deal with the European Union.

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Ms. Merkel told a business audience in Bavaria that President Donald Trumps administration had
signaled it is ready to negotiate and that for me a Trans-Atlantic agreement remains on the daily
agenda.

On a trip to Berlin last month, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the U.S. and EU should have
a free trade agreement.

Negotiations for the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership deal, known as TTIP, started under
the Obama administration but have been stalled since last year.

Men only Island of Japan declared as a UNESCO World Heritage


site
A men-only island in Japan where women are banned and male visitors must bathe naked in the sea
before visiting its shrine, has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The tiny landmass of Okinoshima is permanently manned by a Shinto priest who prays to the islands
goddess, in a tradition that has been kept up for centuries.

Limited numbers are permitted to land on the island in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) this year it was
200 for a yearly festival that lasts just two hours, but they must adhere to strict rules.

Most importantly, they must be men, but they must also strip off and take a purifying dip in the ocean
before they are allowed to set foot on the sacred ground of the shrine.

Despite its inscription on the UNESCOs World Heritage list often the prelude to a leap in tourist
numbers shrine officials say they are now considering banning future travel for anyone apart from
priests, partly out of fears the island could be destroyed by too many visitors.

The island, which sits off the north-west coast of Kyushu, the southernmost of Japans four main islands,
was an important window for foreign trade in Japan since ancient times, forming part of a trade route that
linked the archipelago to the Korean peninsula and China.

Thousands of gold rings and other valuable items have been found there.

UNESCOs heritage committee considered 33 sites for the prestigious status at its annual gathering in
Poland.
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It also accepted Taputapuatea, a portion of the Polynesian Triangle in the South Pacific thought to be
the last part of the globe settled by humans, to the list.

It also added Britains Lake District muse for artists from William Wordsworth to Beatrix Potter and
the Valongo wharf in Rio de Janeiro where people from Africa were first brought as slaves to Brazil.

Ancient caves in west Germany with art dating back to the Ice Age and disused silver ore mines in
southern Poland are also among UNESCOs listings.

The caves are in the western German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, where archaeologists have
discovered ancient instruments and carvings made from mammoth ivory.

One of the carvings is a 40,000-year-old figure known as the Venus of Hohle Fels. Historians say it is the
oldest known image of a human.

A unique Norwegian archipelago in the Barents Sea


On the face of it, a relentless battle between the European Union and Norway in a remote part of the
Arctic is about snow crabs.

But the real fight may go beyond who gets to catch the modest crustaceans around Svalbard, a unique
Norwegian archipelago in the Barents Sea.

What is really at stake is oil, some experts say, and a coming race for the commodity of which there is a
lot in the polar region.

Norway, which is not a member of the EU, has slammed Brussels for authorising European vessels from
mainly Baltic nations to fish for crabs in the Svalbard area, saying it violates its national sovereignty.

A Latvian ship has already paid the price. In January, a ship called The Senator was intercepted by
Norwegian coast guards while crab fishing around Svalbard, and recently received a hefty fine.

The EU and Norways conflicting interpretations of the 1920 Svalbard Treaty signed in Paris are at the
heart of the problem.

The treaty recognises Norways full and absolute sovereignty, but gives the signatory nations an equal
right to economic activities on Svalbard and its territorial waters.

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The core issue is to agree on the geographical scope of the treaty and how far all signatory states benefit
from an equal access to resources.

With a strict interpretation of the treaty, Oslo says the agreement applies only to the 12-mile limits of the
territorial waters surrounding Svalbard and not any further.

But Brussels has a more loose interpretation of the treaty and says it covers 200 miles around Svalbard,
in line with the concept of an economic zone that did not exist when the treaty was signed.

The snow crab, first recorded in the Barents Sea in 1996, is an invasive, and more importantly, a
sedentary species as it lives in permanent contact with the seabed.
This means that the rules that apply to snow crabs are more similar to oil than to fishing.

The crab dispute could create a precedent that would have implications for oil and gas, warns Harald
Sakarias Brovig Hansen, a researcher at the Fridtjof Nansen Institute.

A large amount of the 17.7 billion barrels in the region could be in southeastern Svalbard, according to
the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate.

G20 summit came up with compromise language on trade


The Group of 20 summit came up with compromise language on trade, although officials struggled to find
common ground on another contentious issue, fighting climate change.

In the wake of President Donald Trumps decision to leave the Paris climate agreement, the group
agreed in a draft statement to take note of the U.S. withdrawal while the other 19 reaffirmed support of
the Paris deal.

The draft could still change before its final release. The talks at the two-day summit in Hamburg
competed for attention, with violent clashes between anti-globalisation activists and police.

Climate and trade were two of the most contentious issues, in part due to the assertive stance taken on
both by Mr. Trump. He has said trade must be fair as well as open and must benefit American companies
and workers.

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He has focussed on trade relationships where other countries run large surpluses with the U.S., meaning
they sell more to U.S. consumers than they buy from American companies.

Nearly all G20 leaders agree on free and fair trade


Nearly all G20 leaders agreed on the need for free and fair trade, but some differences of opinion mean
officials drafting the summits final communiqu still had a long nights work ahead, German Chancellor
Angela Merkel said.

On the issue of trade, virtually everyone believes we need free but also fair trade, she said. However, I
can predict that as far as trade is concerned in the communiqu, the sherpas have a lot of work ahead of
them tonight.

Ms. Merkel pressed fellow Group of 20 leaders to compromise. We all know the big global challenges
and we know that time is pressing.

And so solutions can only be found if we are ready for compromise and move towards each other, but
without and I stress this bending too much, because of course we can also state clearly when there
are differences.

The draft underlines that the 2015 Paris climate accord is irreversible and affirms that other G20 nations
are committed to the deal while taking note of Washington's decision to quit the agreement.

Ahead of the summit, a key concern among Western allies was whether they would be able to convince
G20 members to stand firm on the Paris agreement on combating global warming.

If the draft is confirmed it would reflect the 19-versus-the-U.S. split over the issue. British Prime Minister
Theresa May said world leaders would redouble efforts to persuade Mr. Trump to rejoin the Paris deal.

U.S. President hopes for Chinas help to deal with North Korea
U.S. President Donald Trumps hopes for Chinas help with restraining North Korea appear to have gone
nowhere, with the two sides growing further apart as their approaches and concerns diverge.

China shows no sign of caving to U.S. pressure to tighten the screws on North Korea, while the Norths
recent missile tests have done little to rattle Beijing, in contrast to the anxiety sparked in Washington.

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Chinas bottom line continues to hold fast No to any measures that might topple Kim Jong-uns regime.

Washingtons UN Ambassador Nikki Haley warned that Chinas trade with the U.S. could suffer if it didnt
help following North Koreas successful launch of its first intercontinental ballistic missile.

The U.S. has already blacklisted one Chinese bank accused of illicit dealings with North Korea and is
penalizing a Chinese shipping company and two Chinese individuals accused of facilitating illegal
activities by the North.

Birmingham Council has withdrawn permission for a rally for


Wani
The Birmingham Council has withdrawn permission for a rally due to take place on the death anniversary
of Burhan Wani, two days after India raised its concerns about the event taking place.

We took a booking for a peaceful rally highlighting the human rights abuse in Kashmir. However, we are
now aware of concerns raised about the promotional leaflet, and having assessed the material, have not
given permission for the use of Victoria Square, said Birmingham City Council.

Indian Deputy High Commissioner Dinesh Patnaik, whose office sent a note verbale on the matter to
the British Foreign Office, said they were pleased that the concerns had been taken seriously and
addressed.

Wani was killed with two other militants in the Anantnag province on July 8 last year, triggering protests
across the Valley, following a mission that Indian security agencies described as the biggest ever
success in recent times.

India has become increasingly vocal in expressing its concern about Britains apparent willingness to
allow anti-Indian activity to flourish on its shores, stressing how it contrasted with Indias own approach to
its allies.

China said there was no scope for a compromise


China said there was no scope for a compromise in the military standoff with India in the Sikkim area,
and placed the onus on New Delhi to resolve the grave situation.

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Chinas Ambassador to India Luo Zhaohui said, the ball is in Indias court and it was for the Indian
government to decide on options to resolve the standoff.

Asked about remarks in official Chinese media and from think- tanks that the conflict could lead to a war
if not handled properly.

There has been talk about this option, that option. It is up to your government policy (whether to exercise
military option). However, he made it clear that there was no scope for a compromise on the issue.

The first priority is that Indian troops unconditionally pull back to the Indian side of the boundary. That is
the precondition for any meaningful dialogue between China and India, he said.

Indian and Chinese troops have been engaged in a standoff in the Dokalam area near the Bhutan tri-
junction for past 19 days after the Chinese armys attempts to construction party came to build a road in
the area.

He also asserted that India has no right to interfere with the China-Bhutan boundary talks, nor is it
entitled to make territorial claims on behalf of Bhutan.

North Korea claimed it successfully test-launched its first ICBM


North Korea claimed it successfully test-launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile, a potential
game-changing development in what may be the worlds most dangerous nuclear stand-off.

The launch appeared to be North Koreas most successful missile test yet. A U.S. scientist examining the
height and distance said the missile could potentially be powerful enough to reach Alaska.

In typically heated rhetoric, North Koreas Academy of Defence Science said the test of an ICBM the
Hwasong-14 marked the final step in creating a confident and powerful nuclear state that can strike
anywhere on Earth.

It will be difficult to confirm many details about what happened. U.S., South Korean and Japanese
officials earlier assessed that the North fired an intermediate-range missile into waters near Japan.

North Korea has previously launched satellites in what critics said were disguised tests of its long-range
missile technology.

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A test-launch of an ICBM, however, would be a major step in developing nucleararmed missiles that
could reach anywhere in the United States.

French President Macron will meet with heads of state from Sahel
region
French President Emmanuel Macron will meet with heads of state from five nations across Africas vast
Sahel region in Mali.

It is to support a new 5,000-strong multinational force meant to counter a growing threat from extremists
who have targeted tourist resorts and other high-profile areas.

Islamist militants occupying Philippine city have forcedd lakhs to


flee
Islamist militants occupying a southern Philippine city have forced nearly 4,00,000 people in the wider
area to flee their homes, while warning of disease outbreaks and psychological trauma among refugees.

The city of Marawi, considered the Muslim capital of the largely Catholic Philippines, has been reduced to
a ghost town after self-styled followers of the Islamic State movement launched an assault on the city on
May 23.

For over a month, the government has deployed jet fighters, attack helicopters and armoured vehicles to
crush the militants who are members of the so-called Maute group.

The fighting has left over 400 people dead, while the Maute fighters still control parts of the city, using
snipers and IEDs to slow the militarys advance.
Over 70,380 people have been housed in 79 government-run evacuation centres.

India offers help to Sri Lankas Northern Province


India has expressed willingness to further partner Sri Lankas Northern Provincial administration in
development initiatives, emphasising the need for a clear economic programme identifying specific areas.

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Indian High Commissioner Taranjit Singh Sandhu called on Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran in Jaffna,
the formers first visit to the Tamil-majority north after assuming charge in Colombo in January.

During the meeting, Mr. Sandhu underscored economic development for the war-affected areas and said
India was willing to assist in projects, sources in Jaffna.

Mr. Sandhu reportedly told the Chief Minister that while political challenges may come from time to time,
continued work on economic development was important, according to a source in Jaffna.

India has been involved in key infrastructure projects in the north in the post-war years, building 46,000
homes in the islands north and east and helping restore the railway line from Omanthai to Pallai, with a
$800 million line of credit.

These are part of Indias $2.6 billion commitment for development assistance to Sri Lanka, including
$390 million as grants, for projects all over the island.

Currently, the Indian side appears keen on working with the Northern Provincial Council, on economic
development, skills training and job creation.

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BUSINESS & ECONOMY


Inputs from academia sought by commerce ministry
Commerce Minister sought inputs from the academia on three topics Foreign Trade Policy (FTP)
review, the proposed revamp of manufacturing and industrial policies and Indias proposal at the WTO on
services sector liberalisation.

Minister said she would like to receive inputs from the students and faculty as soon as possible on the
FTP 2015-20 so that a comprehensively reviewed FTP can be released by September.

In the backdrop of the Centre working on a new manufacturing and industrial policy to increase the
contribution of the manufacturing sector in the countrys GDP to 25% by 2020 from the current level of
about 16%

Minister said as the (global) Industrial Revolution 4.0 is happening, the country needs more research on
this emerging area showing how Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics and Internet of Things (IoT) will
impact Indias manufacturing and services.

It is learnt that Indias new manufacturing and industrial policies will bring manufacturing and services
closer to ensure an increase in the contribution of services to manufacturing.

Since India is already a part of many global value chains, the two new policies will aim to make India a
global manufacturing hub in items including textile, pharmaceuticals and electronics.

The Centre is working on these new policies to align the current manufacturing policy (of 2011) and the
industrial policy (of 2009) with the Fourth Industrial Revolution that includes AI, robotics and IoT.

Referring to Indias proposal at the WTO on a Trade Facilitation in Services (TFS) Agreement for easing
norms, including on movement of foreign professionals and skilled workers across borders for short-term
work.

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These include, among others, difficult business environment, infrastructural constraints, including peak
power deficit, labour market limitations including a surfeit of labour legislation(s) and trade unionism as
well as the difficulty in availing commercial bank credit particularly for small firms.

CAG report says Indradhanush scheme was not implemented in a


manner envisaged
The Centres Indradhanush scheme to recapitalise public sector banks (PSBs) based on their
performance was not implemented in a manner envisaged, according to a report by the Comptroller and
Auditor General of India (CAG)

According to the CAG report tabled in Parliament, as per the scheme, a portion of the recapitalisation
was to be based on the bank performance. However, this was not followed during disbursal of funds.

The CAG report said gross NPAs with PSBs had risen sharply in recent years, from Rs. 2.27 lakh crore
as of March 31, 2014 to about Rs. 5.4 lakh crore at the end of March 2016.

The parameters used to determine whether banks required capital changed from year to year and in
some years the rationale for capitalising banks was not even recorded.

The audit report said the schemes target of raising Rs. 1.1 lakh crore from the markets by 2018-19 was
not likely to be met.

Audit also noticed that in some cases the rationale for distribution of GOI capital among different PSBs
(Public Sector Banks) was not on record.

The report added that said some banks that did not qualify for additional capital as per the decided
norms, were infused with capital, and in some cases, banks were infused with more capital than required.

Amazon India opens centre in Lucknow


Amazon India has announced its second Fulfilment Centre in Uttar Pradesh. Spread over about 50,000
sq.ft. with over 35,000 cubic feet of storage space, Amazon said the new centre would empower
thousands of small and medium businesses to leverage the growth of the digital economy and reach a
wider customer base.

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With this, Amazon.in now has two fulfilment centres in Uttar Pradesh, offering close to 1,50,000 cubic feet
of storage space to ensure faster delivery.

Air India divestment


Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport set to meet government officials.

A Parliamentary Standing Committee has sought details from the government on its strategic
disinvestment plans for national carrier Air India.

The department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture, chaired
by Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament Mukul Roy, is set to meet the Central government officials.

The agenda of the meeting is to hear the views of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Department of Investment
and Public Asset Management (Ministry of Finance) and Air India on Disinvestment of Air India.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in June
gave its in-principle approval for the strategic disinvestment of Air India and its subsidiaries.

The CCEA also set up a group of ministers under Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to examine the modalities
of the national carriers stake sale. The Ministerial group will decide upon the treatment of unsustainable
debt of

Air India, hiving off of certain assets to shell company, de-merger and strategic disinvestment of three
profit-making subsidiaries, quantum of disinvestment and the universe of bidders.

Hours after the Union Cabinet gave its nod for Air Indias strategic disinvestment, Indias largest low-cost
carrier IndiGo expressed interest in acquiring the flag carriers airline business, mainly related to its
international operations.

Tata Sons were also said to be reportedly in talks with the government to seek more details about the
national carriers strategic disinvestment.

Minister of State Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha told the Rajya Sabha that the decision to divest a stake in Air
India was based on government think-tank NITIAayogs recommendations.

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In its recommendations, the Aayog had given the rationale for the disinvestment of Air India and has
attributed the main reason as fragile finances of the company. AI has been incurring continuous losses
and has huge accumulated losses.

Air Indias market share on domestic routes had declined to 14.2% in 2016-17, from 17.9% in 2014-15.
Air India had accumulated total debt of Rs. 48,876 crore till March 31, 2017. The carrier has been
reporting continuous losses due to its high debt with its net loss at Rs. 3,728 crore in 2016-17, compared
with Rs. 3,836 crore in 2015-16.

NPAs at rise of Bandhan Bank


Bandhan Bank Ltd.s (BBL) recovery of loans has been impacted by talk of farm-loan waivers in three
States and the ongoing strike in Darjeeling and adjoining areas.

Gross NPAs had increased to Rs. 175 crore in the quarter ended June 30, 2017, from Rs. 86 crore at
March-end. The bank ended the first quarter with a net NPA of 0.49% against 0.14% a year earlier.

Majority of the NPAs was on account of defaults in three States Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and
Maharashtra.

Pointing out that although Bandhan was not into farm loans, but had lent to allied sectors like horticulture,
where repayment was affected as borrowers were misled into thinking that they need not repay their
loans.

The impact of the Darjeeling stalemate, prolonged strike had begun to impact recoveries and feared that
the worst was yet to come.

Bandhan Bank is planning to sell mutual fund and general insurance products initially through 50 of its
840 branches.
The tie-up with perhaps about three asset management companies, is to be finalised by September.

BBL closed the first quarter with a 35% rise in profit at Rs. 327 crore with a matching credit growth and a
51% growth in savings deposits.

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Its CASA (current and savings account) ratio was 26.3% against 14.7% a year earlier. BBL aims to grow
the MSME (medium, small and micro enterprise) portfolio, which accounted for 90% of its Rs. 21,389
crore advances in the first quarter.

It is also looking to boost the affordable housing sector. The erstwhile MFI started its banking journey in
August 2015.

India-U.K. auto trade


Britain and India have the potential to expand post-Brexit trade in the auto sector, as exports of U.K.-
made cars to India rose 8.3% in the first half of the year, while those of Indian-made cars to the U.K.
almost doubled.

The 8.3% rise in sales of U.K. cars was driven by increased demand for British-made luxury cars, while
the number of India-built cars rose by 48.6%.

Mike Hawes, the chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), said that
there were many opportunities for growth in areas such as in the development of autonomous, connected
vehicles, as well as in the Indian after-market segment.

The U.K. currently has a negligible part of that market in India, but have a lot of expertise and there are a
lot of products that could be developed.

The SMMT has been pushing for interim arrangements that maintain access to the single market and
customs union to avoid a cliff-edge situation.

Gold import duty to be reduced


The government is planing to bring down import duty on gold to 2% from 10% to make Indian jewellery
competitive in the international market.

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has recommended to the finance ministry to drastically reduce
the import duty, said Manoj Dwivedi, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

We have urged the Finance Ministry to reduce import duty on gold. The CAD position has substantially
improved and now there is a case to look at it. We have recommended 2% duty.

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Pressure is mounting on India to open up its public procurement


market
Pressure is mounting on India to open up its more than $300 billion-worth public procurement market
under the proposed mega Free Trade Agreement (FTA) called the Regional Comprehensive Economic
Partnership (RCEP).

Public/government procurement broadly refers to the process by which government, its


agencies/departments and State-owned enterprises procure goods and/or services only for their own
use, and not for sale/resale commercially.

An increasing number of countries including China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand as
well as a few from the 10-member ASEAN bloc including Singapore and Malaysia, were pushing for
binding commitments to mutually liberalise government procurement markets.

Incidentally, 16 countries agreed to constitute a Working Group on government procurement to take


forward negotiations on the topic and include it as a separate chapter in the final agreement.

The maximum extent that India could go to, is to agree to ensure transparency and cooperation in
government procurement matters (including information exchange and sharing of knowledge) as part of
the RCEP agreement.

Though RCEP member countries including Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore
may not have a PSU culture as such, they had norms that indirectly made it difficult for foreign firms,
including from

India, to take part in their public procurement process.

Countries like China, Japan and South Korea, may outwardly have an open procurement market, but
make it difficult for foreign firms to participate by phrasing requirements in local language.

This ensures that domestic firms with a grasp over the local language get to submit the documents on
time, unlike foreign firms who get hit by the language barrier.

India is not a signatory to the Government Procurement Agreement within the WTO framework because it
wants to retain its policy space to meet its development needs through public procurement process.

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In May, the Indian government had brought out a policy providing preference in government procurement
to local goods and services suppliers.

This was to push the Make In India initiative, ensure greater flow of capital and technology into domestic
services and manufacturing, and in turn, boost job creation locally as well as promote small enterprises.

Then in June, it came up with an order restricting or excluding from public procurement tenders in India,
the firms from those nations where Indian suppliers are not allowed to participate and/or compete in
government procurement process.

Economic activity is expected to rebound due to a supportive


monetary policy says Fitch
Economic activity is expected to rebound due to a supportive monetary policy, the effect of the Goods
and Services Tax, and the eventual formalisation of the economy due to demonetisation, according to a
report by Fitch Ratings.

The withdrawal of cash due to demonetisation had temporarily hurt economic growth in India, it said.

Nevertheless, we expect growth to pick up soon, helped by the supportive monetary policy of the
previous two years which was facilitated by a surge in bank liquidity due to demonetisation and
stepped-up structural reforms, the report added.

The report also highlighted uncertainty over the government committing to reducing its debt and the
detrimental effect of farm loan waivers on states finances.

RCEP talks
Indias reservations regarding the potential adverse impact of eliminating duties on its local
manufacturing and job creation is understood to be slowing down the Regional Comprehensive
Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations.

The RCEP is a proposed mega Free Trade Agreement (FTA) involving 16 Asia Pacific nations including
India and China, and aims, among other things, to liberalise investment norms in the region, besides
boosting trade by dismantling most tariff and non-tariff barriers.

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While most RCEP countries have agreed to quickly eliminate barriers affecting goods trade, India is
seeking more time to do so, and that is delaying the negotiations.

The talks have already missed many deadlines and it looks like the negotiators wont be able to conclude
it this year.

Asia Pacific is a fast growing region, but trade between countries in the region is affected by several
barriers. If RCEP talks are not concluded quickly and these barriers are not eliminated, the region will
miss out on many opportunities.

Meanwhile, Indian companies and industry bodies, including CII, flagged their concerns. The Centres
Make In India initiative to boost manufacturing and job creation could be hit by a hurried pact.

Indias trade deficit [annual] with RCEP nations is about $100 billion, and half of this is with China alone
even without an FTA with China.

Post Indias FTA with ASEAN, Japan and Korea [who are all RCEP members], our trade deficit with them
have increased, and the government needs to take this into account during RCEP negotiations.

Eliminating duties under the RCEP will impact many sectors including steel, aluminium, auto-
components, many engineering items and readymade garments.

CII Trade Policy Committee chairman Deep Kapuria said while many countries were urging greater focus
on duty elimination, India ought to highlight the need for removal of non-tariff barriers including those in
China.

Insurance companies can no longer retain unclaimed amounts


Insurance companies can no longer retain unclaimed amounts of policyholders if those accruals are more
than 10 years old. Such sums need to be, instead, transferred to the Senior Citizens Welfare Fund
(SCWF) of the Centre.

All insurers having unclaimed amounts of policyholders for a period of more than 10 years as on
September 30, 2017 need to transfer the same to the SCWF on or before March 1, 2018.

The direction from the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India has come in the
backdrop of the amendment made in April to the Senior Citizens Welfare Fund Rules.

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The amendment expanded the purview beyond the unclaimed amounts in small savings and other saving
schemes of the Centre, PPF and EPF.

It brought in unclaimed amount lying with banks, including cooperative banks and RRBs; dividend
accounts, deposits and debentures of companies coming under the Companies Act; insurance
companies and Coal Mines PF.

Minister of State for Finance Santosh Kumar Gangwar had informed the Lok Sabha that unclaimed
deposits as on March 31, 2016, with insurers (life and non-life) totalled Rs. 11,725.45 crore, rising sharply
from the Rs. 7,227.23 crore in the previous year.

Details as to how much of the unclaimed amounts was more than ten years were not immediately
available. Unclaimed amounts include sum payable as death claim, maturity claim, survival benefit,
premium due for refund and indemnity claims.

Indian dairy industry:


The Indian dairy sector, providing livelihood to 15 crore farmers, would be severely hit if import duties on
milk and milk products were eliminated under any Free Trade Agreement (FTA) including the Regional

Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), according to the local dairy cooperative Amul.

Separately, farmers organisations have threatened to hold nationwide protests if the dairy sector is
opened up under the RCEP the proposed mega-regional FTA involving 16 Asia Pacific nations including
India or any other FTA including those proposed separately with Australia and New Zealand.

As against 15 crore dairy farmers in India, there were only 12,000 of them in New Zealand and 6,300 in
Australia.

Currently, the duty on milk and milk products ranges from 40% to 60%, which gives the local industry
enough protection to build its competitiveness.

However, if the duty is drastically reduced or eliminated under any FTA, the local industry would find it
difficult to compete against producers, particularly from RCEP members like Australia and New Zealand
which control more than 35% of the global dairy trade and in excess of 50% of the intra-RCEP trade.

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Rs. 7 lakh crore for highways


The Centre will invest about Rs. 7 lakh crore in developing national highways in the next five years, the
Road Transport and Highways Ministry said in a statement.

Estimated a fund requirement of about Rs. 6.92 lakh crore for the development of National Highways in
the country during the next five years.

The funds would be sourced through gross budgetary support, central road fund and toll remittances,
among others.

Indian pharma gets boost:


Russias Chelyabinsk region is seeking proposals from Indian pharmaceutical companies looking to set
up manufacturing units there with a local partner.

While some manufacturers are eyeing the prospect of a local production facility as it would translate into
easier and greater access to Russia the largest market in the Central and Eastern Europe region they are
unlikely to move fast for want of more clarity.

Indian manufacturers were keen to know more about tax benefits that the Russian region would offer and
the availability of infrastructure facilities for joint venture units.

Details on size of investment, specific product range the region is looking at and whether the government
of Chelyabinsk would invest in the JV and provide buy-back facility were also sought.

The invitation of Chelyabinsk, a region straddling the continental boundary of Asia and Europe, assumes
significance in the context of growing emphasis in Russia to accord preference to locally made products.

Indian pharma exports to Russia have been showing negative growth in recent years due to regulatory
requirements and that governments policies encouraging self sustenance.

The Russian government is pursuing a Vision 2020 Document with a focus on building self reliance in
drugs.

RCEP talks:

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India is fully committed to taking forward the negotiations for a mega Free Trade Agreement (FTA)
called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), to ensure that it is a balanced pact
that benefits all the 16 Asia-Pacific nation.

While the RCEP negotiations aiming to liberalise norms in the 16 countries including India and China to
boost trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region are underway behind closed doors at the
Hyderabad

International Convention Centre, several peoples groups from across the country held demonstrations
demanding a halt to the talks.

They claimed that the mega-regional FTA will, among other things, adversely impact not only farmers
rights but also access to affordable medicines, besides threatening the protections to Indias digital
industry.

Amid fears that the FTA will result in a surge in inflow of cheap goods into India from these countries
including China, in turn impacting the Indian industry and farmers.

This is the 19th Round of the RCEP Trade Negotiating Committee meeting at the technical level. In
addition to this, so far there have been four Ministerial Meetings and three Inter-sessional Ministerial
Meetings.

India Inc. is learnt to have reservations against India undertaking any binding commitment to immediately
eliminate duties on most traded goods, as part of the FTA.

India is pushing for liberalisation of services, including easing norms for movement of professionals
across borders for short-term work. However, the slow progress of the services negotiations has been
worrying India.

Jios 4G handset:
Reliance Jios plan to introduce a cheap 4G handset will accelerate Internet adoption in India and is also
likely to help reverse the recent decline in telecom industrys revenue, according to Fitch Ratings.

The new telecom major is also likely to gain revenue market share as the new handset will attract first-
time 4G users.

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Jios 4G handset is likely to quickly replace 2G handsets in rural areas, where smartphones had
previously been out of reach for many customers.

Growth will be driven by increased data consumption and a rise in average spending per user. The
monthly tariff on Jios 4G phone of $2.3 is more than 50% above the current average revenue per rural
user, most of which are on 2G phones and consume minimal data.

Reliance Jios higher monthly tariffs on the handset may limit the impact on the revenue market share of
incumbents such as Bharti Airtel.

Incumbents might also see some benefits to the extent that Jios strategy increases adoption of 4G and
helps develop Indias smartphone culture raising data usage and average spending across the market.

GST irks solar players


Ambiguity surrounding the Goods and Services Tax rate on various inputs is troubling the solar sector,
with industry players also saying that their suppliers are not passing on the benefit arising out of input tax
credits, leading to higher prices and eventually higher tariffs for customers.

While the government is saying that there is a 5% rate on solar components, the truth is that the
weighted average rate comes at about 10%. Some items are taxed at 18%, and some at the lower 5%.
Others, like inverters, are even taxed at 28%.

While the 5% tax rate specified by the GST Council for solar components has increased the cost of the
projects, the ambiguity over the other inputs which are used for projects other than in the solar sector is
creating confusion among solar developers.

Because GST is an end-use tax, the government cannot even discriminate between uses by saying that,
say, an inverter used for solar purposes will be taxed this much, but for other purposes at a higher
rate.The same is true for the other components as well.

MPC members need to observe a silent period 7 days before


and after decision

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The government appointees on the powerful Monetary Policy Committee will be paid Rs. 1.5 lakh per
meeting along with air travel and other reimbursements, but will need to observe a silent period seven
days before and after the rate decision for utmost confidentiality.

The silent period and confidentiality requirements will also apply to the three RBI members, including the
Governor, on the panel that has been deciding on policy rates since October last year, the central bank
has said.

The members of the RBI Governor-chaired panel, which has to hold meetings at least four times in a
year, are also required to be mindful of any conflict between their personal and public interest.

The six-member MPC, constituted in September 2016, has three persons appointed by the central
government while the rest, including the Governor, are from the RBI.

The panel is required to meet at least four times in a year and the RBI has been convening a bi-monthly
meeting of this committee.

Their appointment is for a period of four years or until further orders, whichever is earlier. Apart from RBI
Governor Urjit Patel, Deputy Governor Viral V Acharya and Executive Director M.D. Patra are also part of
the committee.

MPC members should also take adequate precaution to ensure utmost confidentiality of its policy
decision before that is made public and preserve confidentiality about the decision making process,

Each member of the MPC has one vote and in case the numbers are equal, the governor has the casting
vote.

The MPC, which has the responsibility of achieving a set inflation target, should submit a report to the
government in case of failure to achieve the required target.

In such instances, the report shall be sent to the central government within one month from the date on
which the bank has failed to meet the inflation target.

All members need to disclose their assets and liabilities and update this information once every year.
Also, members cannot reveal outside the committee any confidential information accessed during the
monetary policy deliberations.

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All about the Payment banks in India


There are two kinds of banking licences that are granted by the Reserve Bank of India - universal bank
licence and differentiated bank licence.

Payments bank comes under a differentiated bank licence since it cannot offer all the services that a
commercial bank offers. In particular, a payments bank cannot lend.

It can take deposits upto Rs. 1 lakh per account and it can issue debit cards but not credit cards.
Commercial banks in India like State Bank of India or ICICI Bank, do not have any such restrictions.

The main objective is to further financial inclusion by providing small savings accounts and
payments/remittance services to migrant labour workforce, low income households, small businesses
and other unorganised sector entities.

A payments bank can work as a business correspondent (BC) of another bank. They can also distribute
simple financial products like mutual fund units and insurance products.

Out of the 11 entities that received in-principle licence for opening payments bank, 7 entities received the
final licence. Four payments banks have started operations Airtel Payments Bank, India Post
Payments Bank, Paytm Payments Bank and Fino Payments Bank.

RBI has mandated the minimum paid-up equity capital for payments bank at Rs. 100 crore.

Apart from maintaining Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR), these entities have to invest a minimum 75% of
demand deposit balances in Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR)-eligible government securities or treasury
bills.

RBI permits non-bank Prepaid Payment Instrument (PPI) issuers, individuals and professionals, non-
banking finance companies (NBFCs), corporate business correspondents (BCs) etc for a payments bank
licence.

Setting up of a joint venture by a promoter with an existing commercial bank is also allowed.

Optimism is souring around small-cap stocks for some investors

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Optimism is souring around small-cap stocks for some investors, with a host of factors conspiring to up-
end gains that have taken them to record highs.

Small-caps, which led the markets rally just after the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president, are
facing weak earnings forecasts, little progress on tax reform and recent outflows.

Investors had expected the administration of Republican Trump, with his promises of aggressive tax cuts
and a healthier U.S. economy, would be a boon for small-caps, which tend to be more domestically
focused.

Republicans so far have been unable to push through bills to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

That has raised doubts about the likelihood of any tax reform this year. Small-caps have higher effective
tax rates about 32% versus 26% for large-caps, a note from Nuveen Asset Management showed.

All three indexes hit record highs in recent sessions, just as the earnings reporting period was getting
under way.

Analysts estimate earnings for S&P 600 companies fell 8.3% in the second quarter, dragged down by
projected drops in consumer discretionary, energy and health care results, according to Thomson
Reuters data.

The small-cap outlook is in contrast to expectations for another quarter of strong profit growth for the S&P
500 and a sharp year-over-year jump in large-cap energy.

Paper mills sought uniform rate of duty for the paper sector
under GST
Paper mills that use recycled paper as raw material have sought uniform rate of duty for the paper sector
under Goods and Services Tax.

Except for a few, most of the 800 paper mills in the country use recycled paper, according to P.G.
Mukundan, secretary general, Indian Agro and Recycled Paper Mills Association.

With availability issues in the international market and prices fluctuating, the paper industry wants to
increase domestic sourcing of raw material and improve recovery rate.

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The GST on wood chips and other raw materials attract only 5% GST. Value-added paper products such
as facial tissue attract 18% duty. There should be a uniform rate for paper and paper products and it
should be at a minimum.

The association has sought clarification on other issues too. For instance, books distributed under Sarva
Shiksha Abhiyan scheme with World Bank funding was exempted from Excise Duty. There is no mention
about it in the GST.

World Customs Organisation decribes India's plan as best


Indias National Trade Facilitation Action Plan (NTFAP), which aims to cut cargo release time for exports
and imports as part of measures to boost goods trade, has been described by the World Customs
Organisation (WCO) as a best practice other nations can adopt.

The WCO was impressed by the fact that as many as 51 of the 76 activities mentioned in the NTFAP go
beyond the implementation requirements of the World Trade Organisations Trade Facilitation
Agreement (TFA).

The NTFAP, which is to be implemented between 2017 and 2020, is part of Indias efforts to improve its
ease of doing business ranking.

While Indias overall rank in the World Banks Doing Business report is 130, it ranks 144 out of 190
nations in the Trading Across Borders category.

The TFA meant to ease Customs norms for faster flow of goods across borders had come into
effect in February 2017.

The WCO the international body supporting the uniform implementation of the TFA across the globe
has 182 member nations (including India) that manage more than 98% of world trade. India had
ratified the TFA in April 2016.

As per the WTO, the full implementation of the TFA could ... boost global trade by up to $1 trillion per
year. The requirement to implement the TFA is directly linked to the capacity of the country to do so, the
WTO had said.

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The NTFAP further stated that similarly, enhancement of existing compliance levels to achieve global
benchmarks in crucial segments like Time Release Study, Post Clearance Audit and AEO scheme
belong to the TFA Plus category as they are dynamic objectives.

Of the 51 TFA-plus activities, most (or 34) have a timeline of six to 18 months.

These include alignment of Indias foreign trade policy with the GST regime and the WTOs TFA, as well
as gate automation at ports, establishment of labs at sea/air ports, and complete automation of transit
movement and transhipment procedures.

While 12 of the TFA-plus activities have a deadline of up to six months, five such activities have a
timeline of 18-36 months (including improving infrastructure).

Of the 25 activities that are part of the TFA requirements, 17 will be implemented within 6-18 months,
while eight have a timeline of up to six months.

Floor price for voice, data not workable, says TRAI


TRAI said that the industry had reached a consensus that fixing of floor price for voice and data services
was not a workable idea at the moment, and the current regime of tariff forbearance would continue.

Last month, some telecom services providers, in a meeting with TRAI, had sought imposition of a floor
price for both voice and data services.

The operators had argued that telcos offering below cost tariffs to consumers over a period of time might
harm the industry and its financials. He added that no further discussion or meeting on the issue was
planned.

Under forbearance regime, operators are allowed to fix their own tariffs on grounds that there is enough
competition in the market.

TRAI chairman added that the consultation paper on introduction of 5G was almost ready and would be
out soon.

RBI should reduce the risk weightage on assets with lower risk
profiles
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The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) should reduce the risk weightage on assets with lower risk profiles,
according to Sundaram Finance Ltd.

Addressing the shareholders at the annual general body meeting, he said such a reduction was
necessary to differentiate them from other classes of assets which carried inherently higher risks.

Assets such as commercial vehicles and cars carried lower lower risk profiles. In his view, the need for
such an exercise assumed considerable urgency in the wake of rapidly narrowing regulatory gap
between non-banking finance companies and banks.

With inter-state check posts becoming a thing of the past, the viability of truck operations was expected to
improve. Ironically, though, this could lead to better utilisation and absorption of existing capacity, in turn
leading to subdued demand in the near term.

Once the GST-related transition issues were resolved, he hoped the medium and heavy commercial
vehicle offtake would see an upturn.

Telecom Department will meet operators and industry


associations
The Telecom Department will meet operators and industry associations to brainstorm on the new telecom
policy, according to industry sources.

The meeting is expected to be chaired by Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan, and service providers
as well as prominent industry bodies have been invited to place their ideas and inputs on the upcoming
policy,.

Earier this month, Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha had said that a National Telecom Policy was currently
under formulation.

The policy will focus on areas such as Internet for all, next-generation technologies (like 5G and IoT),
skills development, and security, among others.

Crisil says that banks may need to take cut worth Rs. 2.4 lakh
crore

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Ratings agency Crisil said that banks may have to take a haircut of 60%, worth Rs. 2.4 lakh crore, to
settle 50 large stressed assets with debt of Rs. 4 lakh crore.

These 50 companies are from the metals (30% of total debt), construction (25%) and power (15%)
sectors, and account for half of the Rs. 8 lakh crore non-performing assets (NPAs) in the banking system
as on March 31, 2017.
The agency also estimated banks have provisioned for about 40% of this exposure.

The sources of stress are policy or demand (power plants), lower capacity utilisation (steel plants), and
overleveraged balance sheets (construction companies).

However, Crisil said that the restructuring tools facilitated by the Reserve Bank of India that indebted
firms had availed of earlier did not help because of very high debt levels that underscore the magnitude
of stress.

The government recently promulgated an ordinance empowering the RBI to issue directives for faster
and optimum resolution of stressed assets to make them viable.

The focus now is on optimum debt reduction including through potential transfer of assets to a different
management that can bring in resources needed to scale up cash flows.

Majority of the debt requiring deep haircuts belong to companies with unsustainable businesses so asset
sales are necessary to recover monies. Firms needing moderate or aggressive haircuts had gone for
debt-funded capex.

As demand slumped, or as projects ran into regulatory issues, significant time and cost overruns made
them unviable. Firms needing a marginal haircut are those facing temporary setbacks, which could be
corrected over time.

Union Cabinet approved the second phase of the BharatNet


project
The Union Cabinet approved the second phase of the BharatNet project that forms the backbone for the
governments Digital India initiative, according to an official aware of the development.

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However, the deadline for the delay-marred project had been pushed to March 2019, the official said.The
project seeks to bring high speed broadband to all 2.5 lakh gram panchayats (GPs) through optical fibre.

The Centre was still working on completing the first phase of the project for which the deadline was
March 2017.

It had been able to lay optical fibre in nearly one-lakh GPs, however, only about 22,000 GPs have been
provided Internet connectivity due to equipment procurement issues.

The second phase aims at covering the remaining 1.50 lakh GPS. Approval entails a total estimated
expenditure of Rs. 42,068 crore for the implementation of project bankrolled from the Universal Service
Obligation Fund.

Union Cabinet gave its nod to Inland Waterways Authority of


India
The Union Cabinet gave its nod to Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) for raising Rs. 660 crore in
bonds for extra budgetary resources in 2017-18.

The proceeds from the bonds will be utilised by IWAI for development and maintenance of National
Waterways (NWs) under National Waterways Act, 2016 (effective from 12.4.2016), an official statement
said.

Funds received through issue of bonds will be used exclusively for capital expenditure to improve
infrastructure funding. The IWAI mayget Rs. 857 crore in loan from World Bank for its Jal Marg Vikas
Project.

Sensex saw the biggest fall of the year


Retreating from its record high that it reached in the previous session, the BSE Sensex sank about 364
points to post its biggest single-day plunge in eight months, dragged by FMCG giant ITC whose shares
fell almost 13% due to increased levies on cigarettes.

The NSE Nifty also declined about 89 points to slip below the psychological 9,900-mark.

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Cigarette major ITC emerged as the worst performer after its stock dived 12.6% to Rs. 284.60 following
the GST Councils decision to raise the cess on cigarettes by 48.50 paise to 79.20 paise per stick.

Other cigarette stocks such as Godfrey Phillips and VST Industries also tanked by up to 7.83%.

Market sentiment was also impacted by mixed global cues as setbacks for a healthcare overhaul in the
U.S. raised doubts over prospects for a range of reforms backed by President Donald Trump.

Sixteen Asia Pacific nations are discussing in detail norms on e-


commerce
Sixteen Asia Pacific nations, including India, are understood to be discussing in detail norms on e-
commerce as part of negotiations on the proposed mega Free Trade Agreement known as the Regional
Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

Incidentally, technical level talks of the RCEP are being held from July 18 to 28 in Hyderabad.

India has been opposing binding norms on opening up the e-commerce sector at the level of RCEP as
well as the global level (WTO) talks on grounds including that it (India) is yet to have a comprehensive
national policy on the topic.

However, it is understood that many RCEP nations including Australia, Japan and China, are pushing for
inclusion of a host of elements for Terms Of Reference for RCEP negotiations concerning e-commerce.

This is with a view to have some binding commitments from the RCEP members on liberalising e-
commerce and ensure that the final pact has a separate chapter on e-commerce.

Top mobile operators pitched for doubling the interconnection


usage charge
Top mobile operators, including Bharti Airtel pitched for doubling the interconnection usage charge (IUC)
while newer rival Reliance Jio has suggested a zero IUC regime at a workshop organised by regulator
TRAI on the issue, according to sources.

These charges are payable by the operator whose subscriber makes a call to the operator whose
subscriber receives the call thereby impacting the tariff.

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The older operators and Reliance Jio had been at loggerheads over the issue for some time now.

Process for formulation of a new industrial policy has been


initiated
The process for formulation of a new industrial policy has been initiated and consultations are being held
with stakeholders.

Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said consultations were on with industry bodies,
academia, think-tanks, state governments and concerned ministries and departments of the central
government.

The government is also preparing a national plan for manufacturing clusters with an aim to bring about
convergence in development of industrial areas by central and state governments.

Ms. Sitharaman said that inputs from central ministries and departments and states have been taken for
development of an industrial information system. She said action for constitution of a committee to evolve
a cluster framework had been taken.

To a question on special economic zones, she said in April-June this fiscal, exports from SEZs stood at
Rs. 1.38 lakh crore.

The minister also said that in case of lack of substantive progress in the project or on a request by the
developer, the Board of Approval cancels the letter of approval for the SEZ. So far, letters of approval of
109 SEZs have been cancelled.

GST council revisits some of the tax rates


The Goods and Services Tax Council, on Monday, decided to increase the cess applied on cigarettes by
as much as 31% in certain categories.

The cess on these items is over and above the 28% GST rate applied to them.

In respect of cigarettes, the Fitment Committee had recommended that in line with the weighted average
VAT rate (28.7%) the GST rate on cigarettes may be kept at 28%, the official statement said.

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In addition, Compensation Cess may be levied on cigarettes at rates equal to 1.05 times the specific
excise duty rates (net of NCCD).

However, this method of calibrating the compensation cess did not take into consideration the cascading
of taxes (that is in earlier regime VAT being charged on value inclusive of the excise duty).

As a result, the total tax incidence on cigarettes in GST regime has come down, as compared to the total
tax in pre-GST regime.

The statement said while any reduction in the tax incidence on items of mass consumption would be
welcome, the same would be unacceptable in case of demerit goods like cigarettes.

Centre has given approval for three infrastructure proposals


With deficient infrastructure severely hurting the competitiveness of Indias exports, the Centre has given
its approval for three proposals including one to establish an Integrated Cargo Terminal (ICT) at the
Imphal International Airport.

The other applications that received the green signal were: modernisation of infrastructure facility in
Karnataka for marine exports; and construction of a new Standard Design Factory building at Cochin
SEZ.

The EC on Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme (TIES) in its first ever meeting that was held on
June 9 deferred on technical grounds an application to set up the first dedicated facility in India to
test medical devices.

This is proposed to be established at the Andhra Pradesh Med Tech Zone in Visakhapatnam with four
separate facilities at a total cost of about Rs. 169 crore.

The Indian medical device market was worth about $4 billion in 2015 and exports of these items from
India were close to $1 billion (in 2016).

The EC has, however, granted an in-principle nod for a proposal to establish a Coastal Cashew
Research and Development Foundation in Karnataka, for which the total cost estimated is Rs. 10 crore.

The cost of building the ICT at Imphal is Rs. 16.2 crore, of which the share of TIES is Rs. 12.96 crore and
that of the Airport Authority of India (AAI) is Rs. 3.24 crore.

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The AAI is learnt to have informed the EC that there was no cargo facility at the Imphal airport, and that
the proposed ICT would act as a hub for air cargo movement and air connectivity to South-East Asian
countries.

The TIES, which is being implemented from FY18 till FY20, has a budgetary allocation of Rs. 600 crore.
The schemes annual outlay is Rs. 200 crore.

According to a March 2016 report on Export Infrastructure in Indiadeficient infrastructure and the
manner in which infrastructure is being operated (in India) are the major obstacles to ensure
competitiveness in manufacturing of goods and exports thereof.

The report said Indian exports lose competitiveness on account of huge logistics costs. It noted that the
logistic cost in India is about 14% of the GDP whereas in advanced economies like the U.S. and the
European Union, it is 8% and 10% of the GDP respectively.

According to an ASSOCHAM-Resurgent India joint study, India can save up to $50 billion if logistics
costs are brought down from 14% to 9% of countrys GDP thereby making domestic goods more
competitive in global markets.

As per the Commerce Ministry, the objective of the TIES is to enhance export competitiveness by
bridging gaps in export infrastructure, creating focused export infrastructure and first-mile and last-mile
connectivity.

IBBI has powers to start probes against service providers


The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) has powers to start probes against service
providers registered with it without intimating them, according to new regulations.

IBBI, which is implementing the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), has notified the regulations for
inspection and investigation of service providers registered with it.

Insolvency professional agencies, professionals, entities and information utilities are considered as
service providers under the Code.

The Code, which provides for a market-determined and time-bound resolution of insolvency proceedings,
became operational in December 2016.

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As per the regulations, the investigation authority has to serve a notice intimating the entity concerned
about the probe at least ten days in advance.

However, the requirement could be done away with on grounds such as apprehensions that the records
of the particular service provider might be destroyed before the probe starts.

RBI is expected to push for resolution of bad loans


Emboldened by the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Ordinance, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is
expected to push for resolution of bad loans worth about Rs. 8 lakh crore by March 2019, a move that
could bring down the non-performing assets and improve the financial health of banks.

This would be helped by a combination of several factors turnaround in the economic cycle and some
resolute steps by the government and the RBI to fix the issue, it said.

Although entire NPAs could be put on the altar of IBC resolution mechanism, it has to be seen how much
and how fast they actually go out from the balance sheets of banks, which, at this point in time, seem
very stressed, it said.

NPAs are a big drain on the financial health of banks especially public sector banks (PSBs).

For example, 27 PSBs collectively made an operating profit of Rs. 1.5 lakh crore in 2016-17, but after
allowing for the provisioning for bad loans, among others, net operating profit slipped to a paltry Rs. 574
crore.

If balance sheet numbers are anything to go by, it simply brings home the fact that banks have no
capacity to do fresh corporate lending that is necessary for pushing subdued private sector investment.

The government gave wide-ranging legislative powers to the Reserve Bank of India to issue directions to
lenders to initiate insolvency proceedings for the recovery of bad loans that have reached unacceptably
high levels, he said.

Soon after the notification of the ordinance amending the Banking Resolution Act 1949, the RBI eased
the decision-making process in the Joint Lenders Forum (JLF) and CAP under the Framework for
Revitalising Distressed Assets in the Economy.

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To begin with, the RBI, empowered by the ordinance initiated the process of resolution and identified 12
accounts each having more than Rs. 5,000 crore of outstanding loans and which accounting for 25% or
nearly Rs. 2 lakh crore of total NPAs.

Database of insurance agents and intermediaries to be create by


IRDAI
Insurance regulator IRDAI will be creating a database of insurance agents and intermediaries, similar to
what it did for Point of Salespersons, primarily as a check against duplication.

The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India, like many other agencies and for different
purposes, has decided to use the Aadhaar number to achieve the objective.

The database creation began with the point of salespersons guidelines that sought to check duplication
of POS enrolled by insurers and insurance intermediaries..

That would include broker qualified persons, specified persons of corporate agents, authorised verifiers
for web aggregators with Aadhaar number as the identifying field, he said.

This is to be done through a portal, development of which is to be entrusted to the Insurance Information
Bureau.

Trade deficit for goods widened


With goods imports outpacing exports in June, trade deficit for the month widened to $12.95 billion,
according to data released by the commerce ministry. In June 2016, the goods trade deficit was only $8.1
billion.

Continuing with growth indicated since September 2016, goods exports in June 2017 rose 4.39% year-
on-year to $23.56 billion. However, imports in June jumped 19% to $36.5 billion.

Major commodity group of imports showing high growth in June were petroleum, crude & products
(12.04%), electronic goods (24.22%), pearls, precious & semi-precious stones (86.31%), machinery,
electrical & non-electrical (7.02%) and gold(102.99%).

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The currency impact in terms of stronger rupee hurting the exports is clearly visible in the form of
shipments showing a negative growth, measured in Indian rupees, he said.

Unabated global liquidity flows into Indian financial markets are casting a shadow on the competitiveness
of Indian exports, he added. Oil imports in June rose 12.04% to $8.12 billion.

Investment Facilitation Mechanism for EU investments in India


The European Union (EU) and India announced the establishment of an Investment Facilitation
Mechanism (IFM) for EU investments in India.

The mechanism will allow for a close coordination between the European Union and the Government of
India with an aim to promote and facilitate EU investment in India.

The IFM has been established with the key objectives of paving the way for identifying and solving
problems faced by EU companies and investors with regard to their operations in India. IFM will cover
new investors as well as those already established in India.

Ease of doing business is a fundamental priority of the Indian Governments Make in India Campaign and
the establishment of IFM for facilitating EU investments in India is another step to achieve this goal.

As part of the IFM, the EU Delegation to India and the DIPP will hold regular high level meetings to
assess and facilitate ease of doing business for EU investors in India.

This will include identifying and putting in place solutions to procedural impediments faced by EU firms
and investors in establishing or running their operations in India.

Invest India, the Indian government's official Investment Promotion and Facilitation Agency, will also be
part of the IFM.

Wholesale price inflation slowed to year low figure


Wholesale price inflation slowed to a 11-month low of 0.9% in June due to subdued food inflation and
weak manufacturing prices, according to data released by the Ministry of Commerce.

This comes at a time when retail inflation for June slowed to 1.54%, below the lower tolerance level set
by the Reserve Bank of India. Growth in the Wholesale

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Price Index slowed for the fourth consecutive month in June from the 5.51% registered in February.

While growth in the primary articles category in the WPI shrunk 3.86% in June, the food articles segment
within this contracted 3.47%. The corresponding numbers for the previous month showed a contraction of
1.79% and 2.27% for the two segments.

The composite food index within the WPI, combining the values of food items in the primary articles
category and manufactured food items, contracted 1.25% in June compared with a growth of 0.15% in
the previous month.

Inflation in the manufactured products category came in at 2.27% in June, the slowest it has been since
November 2016. The fuel and power saw a drastic easing of inflation to 5.28% in June from 11.7% in the
previous month.

Government will provide 20,000crore grant to NIIF


Finance Minister Arun Jaitley reviewed the performance of the National Investment and Infrastructure
Fund (NIIF) during the third meeting of its governing council.

he was informed that the Department of Economic Affairs had signed an agreement with the NIIF for a
Rs. 20,000 crore contribution to the Fund.

It was informed that a strong investment pipeline with investment opportunities is under consideration in
the roads, ports, aviation and power sectors, according to an official statement.

SEBI is investigating alleged financial irregularities


The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is investigating alleged financial irregularities at the
Metropolitan Stock Exchange of India (MSEI) on a complaint received from a whistle-blower.

The whistle-blower alleged that the exchange did not follow proper procedures in making certain
payments, said three people familiar with the development.

The whistle-blower wrote to the exchange in August 2016 before writing to the regulator recently, after
the exchange concluded that there was no merit in the complaint, they added.

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Market making or giving monetary incentives to brokers is not permissible in the currency derivatives
segment, even as SEBI has allowed such incentives in equity derivatives.

In the month of June, the average daily trading value in the currency segment was Rs. 676 crore, which
translates to a 2% market share. In contrast, the BSE and the National Stock Exchange reported daily
average turnovers of Rs. 17,236 crore and Rs. 15,464 crore, respectively.

This is a steep decline for MSEI, which in 2013 had clocked almost Rs. 12,000 crore daily and
commanded a market share of more than 40%.

A MSEI source said the exchange had conducted its own investigation and concluded that the
transactions were genuine.

PMO-appointed task force recommends NSSO unemployment


surveys
The Prime Minister-appointed task force has recommended that traditional Employment-Unemployment
Surveys carried out by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) every five years be scrapped.

The panel has instead suggested a new periodic labour force survey to provide estimates of labour force,
employment, unemployment, nature of employment and industry.

To get more frequent employment trends data, an urban module of this survey will be updated every
quarter. The recommendation comes amidst criticism about the lack of adequate jobs as well as a debate
over jobs cuts in the economy.

However, refuting criticism, the task force, headed by NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Arvind Panagariya, in
the report has mentioned that much of the recent debate on jobs in the media has relied on the
estimates from the Quarterly Enterprise Surveys, which has severe limitations.

QES conducted by Labour Bureau measure employment in eight broad sectors of industry and services.

The Centre has sought comments on the recommendations made public by July 23. A time use survey
should also be conducted at three year intervals to provide data on time spent in various occupations and
non-market activities, the panel said.

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The survey will help track how time spent by households has been changing and measure womens
participation in unpaid work. Centre can tap the GST Network database as a sample frame for a new
annual survey of enterprises.

Inflation slows down to 1.54%


Inflation measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) slipped below the central banks lower tolerance
level to 1.54% in June and industrial output growth decelerated to 1.72% in May.

It prompted Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) Arvind Subramanian to hint at the need to reboot monetary
policy assumptions including systematic inflation forecast errors he had red-flagged earlier.

The number of 1.54% is historically low and reflects the firm and ongoing consolidation of macro-
economic stability, Mr. Subramanian said soon after the data was released.

The last time we saw such inflation according to a slightly different CPI series (IW) was in 1999 and
before that in August 1978.

Retail inflation slowed for the third straight month, largely driven by a 1.17% contraction in food prices.

Growth in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) slowed for the second consecutive month, with
consumer durables production contracting by 4.55% in May, following Aprils 6.05% contraction.

Indias New Telecom Policy, expected to be unveiled next year


Indias New Telecom Policy, which is expected to be unveiled next year, will be application-driven as
compared to the National Telecom Policy 2012 which was connectivity-driven, Minister of
Communications Manoj Sinha said.

The policy has to focus on the end users and look at newer opportunities for expanding the availability of
telecom services, he said.

He pointed out that the advent of high-speed data services and enhanced user expectation of getting real
time on-demand bandwidth to run live applications had set the tone for a new policy.

The ministry, he said, had decided for the first time to involve a large pool of experts from outside the
department to get more inputs from citizens and stakeholders for the new policy.

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India and Bangladesh gave its approval for the Joint


Interpretative Note
In a bid to boost bilateral investments between India and Bangladesh, the Cabinet gave its approval for
the Joint Interpretative Notes (JIN) on the Agreement between both the nations for the Promotion and
Protection of Investments.

The JIN would impart clarity to the interpretation of the existing agreement between India and
Bangladesh for the Promotion and Protection of Investments.

The JIN includes interpretative notes to be jointly adopted for many clauses, including, the definition of
investor, definition of investment, exclusion of taxation measures.

Fair and Equitable Treatment, National Treatment and Most Favoured Nation treatment, expropriation,
essential security interests and Settlement of Disputes between an Investor-and a Contracting Party.

Joint Interpretative Statements, in general, play an important supplementary role in strengthening the
investment treaty regime.

With increasing Bilateral Investment Treaty disputes, issuance of such statements is likely to have strong
persuasive value before tribunals, the statement said, adding that such pro-active approach by States
can foster a more predictable and coherent reading of treaty terms by arbitration tribunals.

Centre concerned with minuscule number of start-ups for tax


breaks
The Centre is concerned about the minuscule number of start-ups becoming eligible for tax benefits
under the Startup India programme

With just 39 start-ups qualifying for such concessions even 18 months after the flagship initiative was
introduced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

With the norms specifying that in order to obtain tax benefits, a start-up should be a private limited
company or a limited liability partnership, few companies qualified for tax benefits in the initial period as
there were not many corporate entities incorporated on or after that cut-off date.

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The passage of time is mitigating this problem with several firms becoming eligible, said the official, who
did not wish to be named.

The recent relaxation in norms that include doing away with the requirement of letter of recommendation
from an incubator/industry association for recognising a company as a start-up or for tax benefits will also
help increase the number of start-ups that will qualify for tax benefits.

5 States and a UT formally adopted Government e-Marketplace


In a spirit of cooperative federalism, 5 States and a Union Territory (UT) on Tuesday formally adopted the
Centres initiative called the Government e-Marketplace (GeM).

It aims to ensure that public procurement of goods and services in India worth more than Rs. 5 lakh crore
annually is carried out through the online platform for transparency and to eliminate corruption.

The States and the UT that signed an MoU with the Centre include Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat,
Telangana, Puducherry and Arunachal Pradesh.

Four more, including Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu and Haryana, will ink such an MoU soon.
They would have done so but for some technical issues, and more states/UTs are likely to adopt the GeM
later.

This follows a call made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to all the Chief Ministers in April to ensure that
priority is accorded to transparency in public procurement of goods and services.

Finance Minister said that banks should divert loans to self-help


groups
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that banks should divert loans to self-help groups in order to help
generate employment in the unorganised sector in the country.

He said that although India had grown over the last two-and-a-half decades, the distribution of this
development has not been equitable. In the last 2-2.5 decades, our growth has increased, he said.

When the economy improves, in the development, some people are left behind. The number of people
left behind is not small. More benefit is received in cities, businesses and [the] organised sector.

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The urban slums, tribal areas, people on the margins, they do not receive much benefit.

It was keeping this in mind that self-help groups were devised 25 years ago, so that those in the
unorganised sector could get loans.

GST negatively impacted passenger vehicle sales


Passenger vehicle sales declined 11% in June as dealers tried to sell existing stocks while avoiding
picking up new stocks from carmakers ahead of the roll-out of GST.

According to data released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), domestic
passenger vehicle sales fell by 11.2% to 1,98,399 units from 2,23,454 a year earlier.

While car sales dropped 11.24% to 136,895 units, utility vehicle sales fell 11.25% to 49,547 units and
sales of vans slid 10.7% to 11,957.

Mr. Sen said the industry, however, expects it to be just a one-month phenomenon. Next month onwards
things will move as dealers will have to replenish their stocks.

In two-wheelers, both scooters and motorcycles posted gains. With good monsoon, hopes are that the
trend will continue, Mr. Sen said.

While motorcycle sales rose 2.18% to 9,64,269 units, scooter sales jumped 10.6% to 4,97,478 units.
Overall, two wheeler sales increased 4% to 15,27,049 units.

PM asked States to learn from each others best practices


Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked States to learn from each others best practices to overcome
problems and challenges faced by them.

Addressing Chief Secretaries of States and Union Territories, Mr. Modi stressed that improvement in
ease of doing business would bring in greater investment in the States.

He said a team of young officers from across States should learn from best practices by visiting each
State.

While top government officials, he said, had the vision and capabilities to overcome challenges, sharing
of experience was very important. He urged the States to come out of silos and work cohesively.
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Mr. Modi said that junior officers in States must spend adequate time in field visits so that they are aware
first hand of ground realities.

The PM emphasised the importance of preserving institutional memory, NITI Aayog Vice Chairman
Arvind Panagariya said. The PM also stressed maximum use of Aadhaar to improve governance.

NSE trading operations halted for more than three hours


On a day when the benchmark Sensex gained 355 points to close at a new high of 31,715.64, the
National Stock Exchange saw a technical glitch halt trading operations for more than three hours.

The countrys largest stock exchange was able to resume trading in the third attempt at about 12:30pm.

NSE, which accounts for the majority share in both equity and equity derivatives segments, attributed the
failure to a technical issue that occurred during the pre-open session at 9 am.

Incidentally, the glitch comes at a time when the exchange is in the midst of a regulatory probe related to
co-location and algorithmic trading.

It said that while the equity and currency derivatives segments were trading normally, those were also
shut after informing market participants. At the end of the trading session, the Nifty closed 105.25 points
higher at a new peak of 9,771.05.

The exchange saw a 70% dip in its cash market turnover while the equity derivatives volume fell more
than Rs. 2 lakh crore when compared with figures for the recent days.

Rival BSE gained at NSEs expense on Monday as the former saw total trading worth Rs. 9,919.37,
which is much more than numbers for most of the recent days when volumes were a little over Rs. 3,000
crore.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India also issued a statement that the NSE is facing a technical
glitch and that the regulator is closely monitoring the situation.

This, however, is not the first such instance. There have been a few occasions in 2014 when the BSE
faced a similar glitch while the NSE continued operations. Many overseas exchanges have also
experienced such trading halts due to technical issues.

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Debt funds as an investment option


While equity funds invest mostly in shares of listed companies, debt funds invest in instruments like
government bonds, commercial papers (CPs), certificate of deposits (CDs) and non-convertible
debentures (NCDs).

Debt funds invest in such securities and earn interest income that is shared among the investors after
deducting the fund-management charges.

By investing in such debt schemes, investors can indirectly invest in instruments like government bonds
as well where direct retail investment is not possible.

Debt funds can be classified on the basis of the tenure of the bonds or instruments in which they invest.
Liquid funds invest in instruments that have a tenure of less than 90 days.

Then come the short-term funds that invest in instruments that typically have a tenure of three to six
months. There are corporate debt funds too that could have a tenure of up to three years.

The long-term funds would invest in bonds that have a tenure of three to five years or even more like in
the case of government bonds (G-Secs).

The share of real retail money in debt funds is still minuscule though the share is rising as more and more
investors take to financial planning wherein a certain portion of the investment fund is allocated to debt
products.

Most fund houses now offer systematic investment plan (SIP) facility for debt funds as well.

Interestingly, debt funds are popular among high net worth individuals (HNIs) to park their money
temporarily before moving to other asset classes, mostly equity. Debt funds are generally used by banks
and corporates for their treasury operations.

Debt funds offer more return than bank fixed deposits and that is one reason why many HNIs and
institutions use such schemes for their treasury operations.

While debt schemes offer comparatively higher returns, the risk is also higher compared to the safe FDs
that offer assured returns. In the case of bonds, the price could fall due to various reasons thereby
impacting its price and ultimately the return.

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There have been cases where the securities have been downgraded that has led to the scheme taking a
hit.

The tax rate is 20% with indexation and 10% without indexation. Indexation refers to the mechanism
wherein the gains are adjusted against the rate of inflation to derive the net taxable gains from the
schemes.

Two Indian conglomerates have bid for supplying equipment for


Chabahar Port
Two major Indian conglomerates have bid for supplying key equipment for the strategic Chabahar Port in
Iran, while the process is on to expand financial eligibility criteria to attract more bidders.

This comes against the backdrop of India being keen on expediting work on this port, located in the
Sistan-Baluchistan province on the energy-rich Persian Gulf nations southern coast that can be easily
accessed from Indias West coast, bypassing Pakistan.

Bids were invited on behalf of India Ports Global Limited (IPGL).

Shipping, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari had earlier said the government was
hopeful of completing the work on the first phase of the project in 2018.

The Cabinet has already approved funds for development of the project.

For greater trade and investment flow with Iran and neighbouring countries, the Cabinet last year had
cleared proposals for development of Chabahar port including through a $150 million credit from Exim
Bank.

As per the MoU signed between the two nations in May last year, India is to equip and operate two berths
in Chabahar Port Phase-I with capital investment of $85.21 million and annual revenue expenditure of
$22.95 million on a 10-year lease.

Ownership of equipment will be transferred to the Iranian side on completion of 10 years or for an
extended period, based on mutual agreement.

The Iranian side had requested for provision of credit of $150 million in accordance with the MoU.

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As per the pact, operation of two berths is to commence within a period of maximum 18 months after the
signing of the contract.

Mali is looking at direct exports of cotton to the Indian textile


industry
Mali, which produces eight lakh tonnes of cotton a year, is looking at direct exports of cotton to the Indian
textile industry.

Niankoro Yeah Samake, Malis Ambassador in India, told that about 20% of Malis cotton is consumed by
India. However, most of the trade is through foreign companies.

So, there are opportunities to trade directly. Currently, Europe and China are the biggest buyers of the
West African nations cotton.

Mali produces long staple cotton and only 5% of it is processed in that country and the rest is exported.
Malis government is offering incentives for investments in the textile sector and there are opportunities
for joint ventures too.

Malis government agency buys cotton from all the farmers. Annual cotton production in Mali in the last
two years increased from five lakh tonnes to eight lakh tonnes.

Currently, there are no investments from the Indian textile sector in that country.

Price of Indian cotton goes up during the second half of the season and hence, importing cotton could be
viable. On an average, about 10 lakh bales of cotton is imported from African countries annually.

Technology shares surrendered their leadership in the U.S. stock


market
Technology shares surrendered their leadership in the U.S. stock market over the past month, but the
fast-growing group may soon resume its outperformance and manoeuvre back into pole position.

Upcoming earnings reports for the technology sector, whose profits are expected to outpace the overall
S&P 500 for the 11th consecutive quarter, could lure back investors who have been concerned about
expensive valuations and that too many people may have piled into the big names.

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The sector has slumped 4% since the first week of June, while financials have climbed more than 5% and
healthcare has gained 3%. This has prompted speculation that investors may have been cashing out
their tech profits to move into those groups.

For the first five months of 2017, tech was the talk of the stock market, far outperforming the other 10
major S&P 500 sectors and sparking the Nasdaq Composite to its strongest first half since 2009.

Given techs outsized position 22% of the market value of the S&P 500 the sectors growth is critical
to overall U.S. corporate profit gains.

For the second quarter, tech profit growth alone is expected to account for nearly 28% of the S&P 500s
overall increase in earnings, or nearly half if energy were excluded.

Another factor in techs favor: The dollars 6.1% decline this year against a basket of major currencies.

Despite these positive factors, other sectors may end up besting tech. A pick-up in the economy and
inflation could favour groups like industrials, energy and financials.

Centre eases more norms to make doing business easier


In a move that is likely to boost mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the country, the Centre has done
away with the thirty-day time period to submit before the Competition Commission of India (CCI) an
application for pre-merger clearance.

The notification means that parties can make a CCI application at any time in course of an acquisition but
cannot effect or close an acquisition before obtaining the CCIs approval, according to the law firm
Majmudar& Partners.

It will give parties the liberty and flexibility to decide at what stage they want to make the CCI filing,
depending on the deal parameters and commercial terms, Majmudar& Partners said in a statement.

Besides, this will specifically benefit large, multi-jurisdiction transactions where parties may be burdened
with regulatory requirements in several jurisdictions and, therefore, need more time to assess the Indian
law implications and prepare a comprehensive CCI application.

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Pick up in consumption to increase the growth rate


The aggregate topline of companies in key sectors, excluding banking, financial services and oil, is likely
to have clocked about 7% growth in the first quarter of 2017-18, due to a pick-up in consumption,
according to CRISIL Research.

In its Q1 FY18 Results Outlook, CRISIL said the growth in these sectors was hemmed in by factors such
as a rise in input costs, an appreciating rupee and output cuts ahead of the Goods and Services Tax
(GST) regime rollout from July 1.

Commodity-linked sectors had been expected to do well, led by a robust increase in realisations in crude
oil, steel and aluminium, and moderate growth in demand.

However, export-linked sectors such as IT and pharmaceuticals, which had consistently outperformed the
domestic industry by recording double-digit growth, is expected to have slowed down to only 3%.

This follows strengthening of the rupee, a surge in protectionism across the globe and pricing pressure in
the U.S.

It added that there could be demand and supply disruptions in the short term due to GST, though from a
long-term perspective, the new regime will lead to efficiency gains and greater tax compliance.

Govt to focus upon raising awareness about IPR


To make India a global leader in innovation and Intellectual Property (IP), the Centre is estimated to
spend Rs. 29.7 crore ($4.6 million) on a three-year scheme to create awareness on the issue.

The scheme involves organising 4,315 events across India and these include IP Rights Awareness
Programmes in industries, schools and universities, IP sensitising programmes for judiciary and
enforcement agencies as well as training of teachers.

The aim is also to take forward the National IPR Policy 2016.

Of the Rs. 29.7 crore, the maximum estimated expense is Rs. 11 crore for industry roadshows, where
1,100 events would be held with a spending of Rs. 1 lakh each for a day-long event.

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This will be followed by Rs. 5 crore for awareness programmes in universities (including colleges), where
1,000 events are to be held by spending Rs. 50,000 per event with a duration of around three hours,
according to a statement.

MRP to be sole price decider from Jan. 1


From January 1, 2018, the price of a packaged good would no longer depend on where you bought it
be it a local kirana store, a mall, a five-star hotel or an airport.
The Consumer Affairs Ministry has amended the rules that govern packaged commodities to this effect.

As per the amended Legal Metrology rules for packaged commodities, which will come into effect from
the next calendar year, the Centre has clarified that the retail sale price shall be the MRP inclusive of all
taxes, with the provision to round off the price to the nearest rupee or 50 paise.

Further, to curb the possibility of any vendor charging differential prices for the same product, a new legal
provision has been inserted that no person shall declare different MRPs on an identical pre-packed
commodity.

The new norms also require sellers to enhance the size of letters and numerals for making declarations
about the packaged goods, such as their best before date, month and year to indicate their shelf life.

Interestingly, for e-commerce marketplaces, declaring the month and year in which a commodity is
manufactured or packed is not mandatory and if they fulfill certain conditions, they will not be held liable
for whether the declarations were correct or incorrect.

Asia Africa Growth Corridor will ensure sustainability through


respect for sovereignty
The guiding principles of the Asia Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC), initiated by India with the backing of
Japan, will be to ensure sustainability through respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity.

As well as it will try to boost regional economic connectivity through the use of responsible debt financing
practices.

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The AAGC is seen as India and Japans counter to Chinas Belt and Road Initiative that plans to link
Asia, Europe and later even Africa by spending trillions of dollars in building infrastructure.

India and Japan were likely to soon reach out to the African governments, think tanks, NGOs and
companies to ensure that the action plan of the AAGC was fine-tuned and successfully implemented.

Government clarifies conditions for branded items


The Ministry of Finance clarified that for the purposes of GST applicability, an item will be deemed to be
branded if it carries a brand name or trade name that is registered under the Trade Marks Act, 1999.

The Ministry was trying to allay the confusion around the definition of a branded product, since several
unbranded food items are exempt from GST while their branded variants fall in the 5% tax bracket.

Thus, unless the brand name or trade name is actually on the Register of Trade Marks and is in force
under the Trade Marks Act, 1999, CGST rate of 5% will not be applicable on the supply of such goods,
the statement added.

The GST rate on the supply of food items, such as channa or paneer , natural honey, wheat, rice and
other cereals, pulses, and the flour of cereals and pulses, is nil.

The rate on these items, when placed in a unit container and bearing a registered brand name, though, is
5%.

Purchasing Managers Index accelerated to eight months high


Services sector activity accelerated to an eight-month high of 53.1 in June due to a sharp rise in new
orders, according to the Nikkei India Services Purchasing Managers Index (PMI).

The index reading was 52.2 in May. A reading above 50 indicates an expansion in activity while a value
below 50 denotes a contraction.

The strong performance in June also suggests that GDP growth is likely to rebound from the poor
showing in the fourth quarter of financial year 2016-17, according to the reports author, Pollyanna De
Lima.

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However, she noted that the path to a stronger economic performance is still not easy, with concerns
over the Goods and Services Tax playing a large part in dampening optimism in the sector.

Business conditions in Indias service sector continued to improve in June as a solid and accelerated
upturn in new work resulted in a faster increase in activity.

The strong performance in the services sector came at a time when the manufacturing sector slipped to a
four-month low in June.

EPFO signed an agreement with banks for collection of provident


fund dues
The Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) signed an agreement with four private banks and
Bank of Baroda for collection of provident fund dues from employers and payments to its subscribers.

This is the first time that the EPFO has tied up with private banks namely, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank,
Axis Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank.

Earlier, only State Bank of India was authorised to collect contributions from employers and make
payment to employees. The move will help the EPFO save about Rs. 300 crore annually as the five
banks have agreed to zero transaction charges.

In December, the EPFO had tied up with five other banks, Punjab National Bank, Allahabad Bank, Indian
Bank and Union Bank of India, for online collection of dues.

The EPFO is in talks with seven more banks to sign a similar agreement. These include IDBI Bank, Bank
of India, Corporation Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, Canara Bank, Central Bank of India and Bank of
Maharashtra.

About 97% of the total outstanding debt of Discoms covered


under UDAY
About 97% of the total outstanding debt of all state power distribution companies (discoms) has been
covered under the Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY), the government announced.

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So far, 86% of the restructurable debt has been revamped under the scheme. As on September 30,
2015, the total debt of all state-owned discoms was Rs. 3.95 lakh crore.

The 26 states and 1 UT which have joined the UDAY scheme account for total outstanding debt of Rs.
3.82 lakh crore. Hence, about 97% of the total outstanding debt of all State discoms has been covered
under UDAY.

The Ministry also added that the total liability opted for restructuring by the states through the issuance of
bonds was Rs. 2.69 lakh crore.

So far, states have already issued bonds of the entire Rs. 2.09 lakh crore and discoms have issued
bonds worth Rs. 0.23 lakh crore.

Bonds worth Rs. 0.37 lakh crore are yet to be issued by various discoms. Hence, about 86% of the
restructurable debt of states has been restructured so far under UDAY.

FItch says GST will boost government's revenue in long term


While the Goods and Services Tax (GST) is unlikely to increase Government revenue in the short-term, it
will increase revenue in the long-term as tax compliance increases and GDP growth is bolstered, Fitch
Ratings said in a report.

The unified national system should offer significant opportunities for productivity, according to the
report.

The GST is unlikely to increase revenue in the short-term, the report added. However, it is likely to boost
revenue indirectly over the long term, as it supports GDP growth and encourages tax compliance.

Fitch added that GST will create an ecosystem where supply chains can extend, encouraging
specialisation, since there would be less incentive to source goods within state borders.

Tax filing may also become less time-consuming as a result of the new electronic system.

The new electronic filing system is also likely to lead to more tax reporting. Moreover, the tax base will be
broadened, as only SMEs with sales of Rs. 2 million will now be exempt from paying GST, down from Rs.
15 million.

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Firms registered under GST to be used to capture employment


data
The Centre could use lakhs of firms registered under the new GST as the sample frame to capture
employment data through a new Annual Survey of Enterprises, the task force to improve Indias data on
jobs set up by PM has recommended.

The traditional Employment-Unemployment Surveys carried out by the National Sample Survey Office
(NSSO) every five years must be scrapped, the task force led by NITI Aayog vice chairman Arvind
Panagariya is learnt to have recommended.

The last such survey was carried out in 2011-12 and the one due in 2016-17 was skipped.

Instead, a new periodic labour force survey (the first one has already begun this April) will be conducted
annually to provide estimates of labour force, employment, unemployment, nature of employment and
industry.

To get more frequent employment trends data, an urban module of this survey will be updated every
quarter.

Apart from a new GST-backed Survey approach, the task force constituted this May amidst criticism
about the lack of adequate new jobs in the economy has called for a fresh definition of formal
employment to include any person who gets a Form 16 reflecting income tax deductions at source.

The task force has reasoned that the GST Network (GSTN) will include enterprises of all sizes in the
goods and services sectors with turnover exceeding Rs. 20 lakh.

A subset of the GSTN database-backed surveys could be used to generate monthly or quarterly
enterprise-based employment estimates, the task force pointed out.

For firms outside the GST net, the Panagariya-led task force has recommended separate annual surveys
and an economic census every three years.

Government has allowed fertiliser companies to print revised


MRP

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The government has allowed fertiliser companies to print revised maximum retail price (MRP) by
including the new GST rate on existing unsold stocks of about 10 lakh tonnes, with some riders.

The companies have been given three months till September to clear the unsold stocks by stamping or
printing the new retail price.

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) on fertilisers was reduced to 5% from 12% in the interest of farmers.
The lower GST will bring down retail prices.

Government is keeping a close watch on implementation of GST


The government is keeping a close watch on the day-to-day progress in the implementation of the Goods
and Services Tax (GST) at the highest levels with Union Minister Arun Jaitley holding a review meeting.

In a statement, the Finance Ministry indicated that such meetings would take place on a weekly basis.

The government had asked all the departments to ensure that there was no shortage of products and
consumer items in order to keep a check on prices, the statement added.
Special emphasis was laid on keeping prices of essential commodities under check, the statement said.

Mr. Sinha also asked the departments concerned to ensure that retailers, dealers and shopkeepers
displayed a ready price list under GST of the items sold by them.

The government, on its part, must ensure that the benefits of GST were passed on to the consumers so
as to keep inflation in check, he said.

ADB and Govt of India signed loan agreement


The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India signed a $220 million loan agreement
meant to improve connectivity, transport efficiency, and safety on the State highways of Rajasthan.

The loan is the first tranche of the $500 million Rajasthan State Highways Investment Program,
approved by ADB Board in May this year.

That will upgrade about 2,000 km of State highways and major district roads to two-lane or intermediate-
lane standards to meet road safety requirements, the government said in a release.

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The first tranche loan will improve about 1,000 km of State highways and major district roads.

GST regime will be positive for Indias credit profile says Moody's
GST regime will be positive for Indias credit profile as it will contribute to productivity gains and higher
GDP growth as well as support higher government revenue generation through improved tax compliance,
according to global ratings agency Moodys.

It will also support higher government revenue generation through improved tax compliance and
administration adding that both would be positive for Indias credit profile, which is constrained by a
relatively low revenue base.

We expect improved tax compliance to be driven by: incentivisation of tax credits in a GST system;
greater ease of compliance through usage of a common, shared IT infrastructure between the central
government and the states.

And a reduction in the overall cost of compliance from simplified tax rates, uniform across the country.
We expect the net impact of GST on government revenues to be positive.

Premier industry body Confederation of Indian Industry said the Indian industry was prepared for the
rollout of the GST, adding that the regime will contribute to ease of doing business and accelerate new
business ventures.

Various sectors reaction to Goods and Services tax


With India moving towards its biggest tax reform, heres how various sectors in India have reacted to the
implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and how it will impact business.

Following the implementation of the GST, the hospitality and travel sectors expect teething issues in the
first few months but are not unduly worried, expecting support from government.

However, the Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India vice president, Garish Oberoi,
said the 28% GST for hotel rooms with a tariff of Rs. 7,500 per night and above is very steep.

He asked the government to keep that rate only for rooms with tariff of Rs. 10,000 per night and above.
For the travel sector, the GST rate for tour packages has increased marginally from 4.5% to 5%.

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The Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) has approached the government to reduce the
restrictions on using duty credit scrips a pass that allows holders to import goods by not paying a
certain amount in import duties.

But with the implementation of GST, these scrips can now be utilised only for payment of basic customs
duty and not Integrated Goods and Services Tax.

Earlier, manufacturing exporters who imported raw material for export purposes were allowed to utilise
these scrips for payment of customs, excise duty and service tax.

The steel sector is feeling bullish after the GST rollout. Players in the sector said that with GST,
unorganised players will have to move to the organised form of doing business.

Steel Users Federation of India has said GST has abolished the special additional duty on imported
goods which was a very cumbersome procedure.

The cotton textile industry is also feeling positive. Southern India Mills Association chairman M. Senthil
Kumar has welcomed the move to bring the entire cotton textile value chain at the lowest slab rate of 5%
GST.

Over a dozen companies have raised more than Rs. 12,000 crore
through IPO
In a blockbuster performance, over a dozen companies have raised more than Rs. 12,000 crore through
initial public offerings in the first half of the year, a surge of 73% from the year-earlier level.

Moreover, the outlook appears to be bullish for the remaining part of 2017 as several high-profile names,
including UTI Mutual Fund and SBI Life, are expected to launch their initial public offers to raise Rs.
35,000 crore in the coming months.

Indian Patent Office issued guidelines of computer-related


inventions
The Indian Patent Office has again issued guidelines on examination of computer-related inventions
(CRIs) such as software programmes.

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The aim of this document is to provide guidelines for the examination of patent applications in the field of
CRIs by the Indian Patent Office so as to further foster uniformity and consistency in the examination of
such applications.

The objective of this document is to bring out clarity in terms of exclusions expected under section 3(k)
so that eligible applications of patents relating to CRIs can be examined speedily, the guidelines said.

According to the Section 3(k) of the Indian Patents Act, a mathematical or business method or a
computer programme per se or algorithms are not inventions.

Various representations have been received regarding these guidelines which were first published in
August 2015. Associations strongly opposed them, saying the norms were detrimental to the domestic IT
sector.

The guidelines were then put in abeyance and re-issued in February last year. But associations again
raised issues, after which an expert committee was set up to look into them.

TRAI wants reduction in the GST rate to 5%


The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has pitched for a reduction in the GST rate for telecom
services to 5% from the current 18% decided by the GST Council, and recommended a cut in levies such
as licence fee and spectrum usage charges.

The recommendations follow a meeting between the regulator and telcos on June 15 to discuss the
financial health of the industry that is currently sitting on a debt of Rs. 4.6 lakh crore.

Ms. Sundararajan is also the chairperson of Telecom Commission, which is the highest decision-making
body in the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

TRAI has said that DoT may consider actively taking up with the Ministry of Finance the issue of
reduction in GST rate from 18% to a flat 5% by declaring the telecom sector as core infrastructure
industry and economy enabler in India.

TRAI had earlier recommended reducing USO levy to 3% of the adjusted gross revenue from the current
5%. With this reduction, the applicable uniform rate of licence fee would become 6% from the present 8%
of the adjusted gross revenue.

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TRAI also recommended a relaxation in the payout for auctioned spectrum. At present, operators pay
25% or 33% as upfront charges of total spectrum price and the remaining is paid over a ten-year period
after a moratorium of two years.

For spectrum payments in the 700/800/900/2100/2300/2500 MHz bands, TRAI has suggested 10% of the
bid amount as initial payment with the remaining payment spread over 18 years (18 equal instalments
with interest).

Banks share in the flow of credit declined sharply to 38%


With banks increasingly retrenching credit, mutual funds, non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) and
capital markets have partly offset the corporate sectors debt requirement.

But such alternative sources of funding cannot replace bank loans, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said
in its biannual Financial Stability Report (FSR) released.

According to latest data, banks share in the flow of credit, which was about 50% in 2015-16, declined
sharply to 38% in 2016-17.

RBI said the aggregate flow of resources to the commercial sector was not affected owing to a sharp
increase in private placements of debt by non-financial entities and net issuance of commercial papers
(CPs).

The report noted that during 2016-17, while deposit growth of scheduled commercial banks picked up,
credit growth remained sluggish, putting pressure on net interest income (NII), particularly of the public
sector banks (PSBs).

While profitability ratios of such banks showed a marginal increase, public sector banks continued to
show a negative return on assets (RoA).

On asset quality, latest data showed that while gross NPAs of the banking sector had increased in March
2017 compared with September 2016, overall stress declined due to reduction in restructured standard
advances.

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Gross non-performing advances (GNPAs) ratio of all banks rose from 9.2% in September 2016 to 9.6% in
March 2017. The net non-performing advances ratio of banks increased marginally from 5.4% in
September 2016 to 5.5% in March 2017.

During the same period, the stressed advances ratio declined from 12.3% to 12% due to a fall in
restructured standard advances.

India's infrastructure output grows at 3.6%


Infrastructure output grew 3.6% in May, higher than the 2.8% growth recorded in April on a year-on-year
basis, official data released.

The growth in output of core industries coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertilisers, steel,
cement and electricity was lower than 5.2% registered in May last year.

Five of the eight industries, except coal, fertilisers and steel, witnessed a sequential improvement in
growth.

The output of coal and fertilisers contracted by 3.3% and 6.5% in May respectively compared to the same
month last year.

Cement output grew 1.8% after witnessing a continuous spell of contraction in the previous five months
reflecting green shoots in the construction sector.

Electricity output registered a robust growth of 6.4% in May compared with 5.4% in April and 6.2% in May
last year. The eight core industries constitute 40.27% of the weight of items included in the Index of
Industrial Production (IIP).

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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY


Scientists have used a novel approach to drug discovery
Scientists have used a novel approach to drug discovery by attaching or linking a DNA sequence of
interest to gold-coated magnetic nanoparticles and picking those molecules that target and bind to the
DNA sequence for further study.

This approach helps in rapid identification of potential DNA binding molecules for cancer therapy. G-
quadruplexes are four-stranded DNA structures found in human genome, for example, the presence of
G-quadruplexes in cancer-causing gene c-MYC.

Since G-quadruplexes are involved in regulation of the gene expression, there is increased interest in
finding molecules that target them.

The traditional approach is to synthesise compounds and study their interactions with drug targets before
choosing the best drug molecules. This is both time consuming and laborious.

The azide and alkyne fragments that are capable of binding to the adjacent sites of the G-quadruplex
react with each other to produce triazole products. Theoretically, the combination of azide and alkyne
fragments can generate 66 triazole products.

When the nanoparticles are heated, the triazole products that are bound to the G-quadruplex target get
detached and get into solution. Since the DNA-linked, gold-coated magnetic nanoparticles are used, they
can be separated from the solution using magnetic separation.

The researchers found that of the three triazole compounds that selectively bound to the G-quadruplex
target, one (Tz 1) was found in large proportion and was the only molecule that was obtained when the
nanoparticle was recycled for the fourth and fifth time.

Though this study is a proof-of-concept, this approach can be used for economical and fast screening of
potential drug candidates for other DNA targets, RNA and even proteins.

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Economic and Environmental analysis of Tiger reserves


The headline in a recent PTI report Saving 2 tigers gives more value than Mangalyaan was intriguing,
since it said that saving two tigers yields a capital benefit of Rs 520 crores, while Mangalyaan cost us Rs
450 crores.

Putting a price on Nature and commodifying it may hurt our sensibilities. On the other hand, the authors
of the above paper point out that an economic analysis helps in determining the quantity of goods such
as fuel wood, and fodder that can be allowed for extraction by local communities, based on trade-offs
with other services.

Such economic analysis also highlights why such large areas are reserved for preserving fierce animals
like the tiger, when we need more land for human use.

What is the total amount of land set apart for the 18 ranges as tiger reserves? It is 68,000 square km,
which is about 2% of the area of India set apart for the nations pride animal. A tiger reserve is not just
for the tiger.

The six reserves (Corbett, Kanha, Kaziranga, Periyar, Ranthambore, Sunderbans) that the team has
studied house many other animals such as the elephant, rhino, langur, barasingha, mongoose, river
dolphin, olive ridley turtle, crocodile not to speak of the millions of herbs, plants and trees.

The approach, termed VALUE+, that the group uses has two components. The VALUE part indicates that
the annual cost of putting together and maintaining the above six tiger reserves is about Rs 23 crores.

But then, what about the flow benefits? Take the Periyar Tiger Reserve as an example. VALUE
estimates that this Reserve generates Rs 17.6 billion (or Rs 1.9 lakhs per hectare) per year.

How? For example it helps provide water to Tamilnadu districts, amount to Rs 4.05 billions /year. Or, take
the famous Corbett Park (which is supposed to have the maneaters of Kumaon). Its flow benefit per
year is Rs 14.7 billion (Rs 1.14 lakhs per hectare).

And it provides water to some parts of Uttar Pradesh (at Rs 1.61 billion per year) and Delhi (Rs 530
million per year). In effect, the ratio of benefits to management costs is anywhere from 200 to 530.

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Eye-openers, arent they? The <NTCA_Report 2015.pdf> should be made compulsory reading and
analysis material for students in economics, business management, environmental sciences and biology.

NASAs Hubble Space Telescope has beamed back images


Phobos
NASAs Hubble Space Telescope has beamed back images of the tiny Martian moon Phobos in its orbital
trek around the red planet.

Over the course of 22 minutes, Hubble took 13 separate images, allowing astronomers to create a time-
lapse video showing the diminutive moons orbital path.

The Hubble observations were intended to photograph Mars, and the moons cameo appearance was a
bonus. A football-shaped object of size just 26x21x17 kilometres, Phobos is one of the smallest moons in
the solar system.

The moon completes an orbit in just seven hours and 39 minutes, which is faster than Mars rotates.
Rising in the Martian west, it runs three laps around the Red Planet in the course of one Martian day,
which is about 24 hours and 40 minutes.

It is the only natural satellite in the solar system that circles its planet in a time shorter than the parent
planets day.

About two weeks after the Apollo 11 manned lunar landing on July 20, 1969, NASAs Mariner 7 flew by
the Red Planet and took the first crude close-up snapshot of Phobos.

Low-cost smart glove that can wirelessly translate sign language


Scientists have created a low-cost smart glove that can wirelessly translate sign language into text and
control objects in virtual reality games.

The device, called The Language of Glove, was built for less than $100 using stretchable and printable
electronics that are inexpensive, commercially available and easy to assemble.

The team built the device using a leather athletic glove and adhered nine stretchable sensors to the back
at the knuckles two on each finger and one on the thumb.

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Stainless steel thread connects each of the sensors to a low power, custom-made printed circuit board
thats attached to the back of the wrist. The sensors change their electrical resistance when stretched or
bent.

This allows them to code for different letters of the American Sign Language alphabet based on the
positions of all nine knuckles.

A straight or relaxed knuckle is encoded as 0 and a bent knuckle is encoded as 1. When signing a
letter, the glove creates a nine-digit binary key that translates into that letter.

For example, the code for the letter A (thumb straight, all other fingers curled) is 011111111 while the
code for B (thumb bent, all other fingers straight) is 100000000.

The low-power printed circuit board on the glove converts the nine-digit key into a letter and then
transmits the signals via Bluetooth to a smartphone or computer screen.

Scientists found a galaxy 10 thousand million light years away


Scientists have discovered a very distant galaxy, some 10 thousand million light years away, which is
about 1,000 times brighter than the Milky Way.

It is the brightest of the submillimetre galaxies, which have a very strong emission in the far infra red,
researchers said. The research was published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Scientists led by Anastasio Diaz-Sanches from Polytechnic University of Cartagena (UPCT) in Spain
used gravitational lensing that acts as a sort of magnifier, changing the size and intensity of the apparent
image of the original object.

To find this galaxy, a search of the whole sky was carried out, combining the data bases of the satellites
WISE and Planck in order to identify the brightest submillimetre galaxies.

The galaxy is notable for having a high rate of star formation. It is forming stars at a rate of 1,000 solar
masses per year, compared to the Milky Way which is forming stars at a rate of some twice a solar mass
per year.

The galaxy is so bright that its light is gravitationally amplified, this allowed scientists to look into its
internal properties.

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The marine ecosystems of eastern Arabian Sea to be studied


The marine ecosystems of eastern Arabian Sea would soon become the stage for a series of
biogeochemical and biological studies, which are expected to throw light into the ocean dynamics and
economy.

The Centre for Marine Living Resources and Ecology (CMLRE), Kochi, and the Integrated Coastal and
Marine Area Management Project Directorate, Chennai, both functioning under the Ministry of Earth
Sciences, have drawn up a three-year-programme to study the coastal seas of western India.

The researchers have primarily identified health of sea, carbon credit, biological productivity, trawl ban
effects and oceanography as the thrust areas for the research.

Under the category health of sea, the researchers would assess ecosystem status of western coastal
India for biological resources which are influenced either by natural processes or man-made effects.

The green house gas emissions from the ecosystems would be assessed for redefining marine carbon
credit, as part of Indias commitment to the 2016 Paris Climate Change Summit.

Preliminary studies carried out at the south-western coast of India, have indicated that monsoon trawl
ban had a positive impact on benthic production. Similar studies are essential for entire west coast to
assess the overall impact of monsoon trawl ban on fishery resources.

Antarcticas ice-free islands set to grow


Scattered within the vast frozen expanse of Antarctica are isolated ice-free nooks nunataks (exposed
mountain tops), scree slopes, cliffs, valleys and coastal oases which cover less than 1% of the area,
but support almost all of the continents biodiversity.

But by the turn of the century these ice-free islands could grow by over 17,000 sq.km (a 25% increase)
due to climate change, according to a paper published in Nature.

While this may sound like good news for Antarctica's biodiversity that is likely to find larger habitats, it is
not known if the potential negative impacts will outweigh the benefits, the authors say.

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As ice-free islands expand and coalesce, biodiversity could homogenise, less competitive species could
go extinct and ecosystems destabilise from the spread of invasive species, which already pose a threat to
native species.

Much life thrives in Antarctica's ice-free pockets: small invertebrates (nematodes, springtails, and
tardigrades) vascular plants, lichen, fungi, mosses and algae.
They also serve as breeding ground for sea birds (including the Adelie penguins) and elephant seals.

The greatest change in climate is projected for the Antarctic Peninsula by the end of the century, and
more than 85% of the new ice-free area is believed to occur in the north Antarctic Peninsula.

andCom
esticsRules

Scientists have developed a new non-toxic material that uses solar energy to degrade harmful synthetic
dye pollutants which are released at a rate of nearly 300,000 tonnes a year into the worlds water.

The novel, non-hazardous photocatalytic material developed researchers at Swansea University in the
UK effectively removes dye pollutants from water, adsorbing more than 90% of the dye and enhancing
the rate of dye breakdown by almost ten times using visible light.

By heating the reaction mixture at high pressures inside a sealed container, the composite is synthesised
by growing ultrathin nanowires of tungsten oxide on the surface of tiny particles of tantalum nitride.

As a result of the incredibly small size of the two material components both the tantalum nitride and
tungsten oxide are typically less than 40 billionths of a metre in diameter the composite provides a
huge surface area for dye capture.

The material then proceeds to break the dye down into smaller, harmless molecules using the energy
provided by sunlight, in a process known as photocatalytic degradation.

Having removed the harmful dyes, the catalyst may simply be filtered from the cleaned water and reused.

While photocatalytic degradation of dyes has been investigated for several decades, it is only relatively
recently that researchers have developed materials capable of absorbing the visible part of the solar
spectrum.

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INDIA & THE WORLD


No ban on Chinese firms: Sushma
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that denial of security clearance to a particular Chinese
company which wanted to invest in India was not done as a matter of policy and it cannot determine
the relation between the two countries.

In the Rajya Sabha, T. Subbarami Reddy (Congress) asked Ms. Swaraj that while security clearance was
denied to a Chinese company, it was given to those from Japan, Korea, Italy and other countries.

Recently, the Home Ministry denied clearance to China Railway Major Bridge Engineering Group Ltd.,
which planned to construct a proposed 22-km sea-link in Navi Mumbai.

Ms. Swaraj replied that there was no policy under which Chinese companies were denied security
permission. She objected to a member raising the issue of a particular Chinese company in the House.

She said Japanese or Korean companies might have got the clearance as per the existing procedure.

She also said there was no quid pro quo with China on the issue of sufferings of the Tibetan people and
stapled visas being given to Arunachal Pradesh residents by Beijing.

On the issue of whether India remained a mute spectator towards the alleged atrocities in Tibet, she said,
We are not sitting as a mute spectator. Whenever there are differences, we raise them.

The Minister said the Dalai Lama wanted to visit Tawang and we allowed him to do so. This is not the
first time but the fifth or sixth time that he was visiting that place.

Doval-YangJichei talks
National Security Adviser Ajit Doval held talks with Chinese State Councillor Yang Jichei, covering
bilateral issues and major problems, signalling that the stand-off in Doklam between Chinese and Indian
troops in the Sikkim sector was likely on the agenda.

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Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar, speaking in the Rajya Sabha, highlighted the agreement
reached before in Astana between the countries to intensify development partnership and people-to-
people contact, even as External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said India had not discriminated
against Chinese companies.

Mr. Akbar, responding to a question regarding Chinas recent denial of visa to a group of journalists to
Tibet and the remedial measures being taken to defuse the Doklam stand-off, said the two countries had
agreed to work together.

Ms. Swaraj maintained that despite commitment to improve bilateral ties, India had not hesitated to
protest whenever differences arose with China about issues like stapled visas for Indian citizens from
Arunachal or the visit of Dalai Lama to Tawang.

Man Booker
Arundhati Roys latest work of fiction, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness , has made it to the long list of
this years Man Booker Prize.

The judges described the book as a rich and vital book that comes from the bowels of India and has
remarkable scale and extraordinary style and intelligence.

The authors debut novel, God of Small Things , won the Booker Prize in 1997. Ms. Roy is joined by four
previously shortlisted writers Ali Smith (2001, Hotel World ; 2005, The Accidental ; and 2014, How to
Be Both ); Zadie Smith (2005, On Beauty ), Sebastian Barry (2005, A Long Long Way Down ; 2008, The
Secret Scripture ; and longlisted in 2011 for On Canaans Side ) and Mohsin Hamid (2007, The Reluctant
Fundamentalist ).

The longlist showcases a diverse spectrum not only of voices and literary styles but of protagonists too, in
their culture, age and gender. Nevertheless we found there was a spirit common to all these novels:
though their subject matter might be turbulent, their power and range were life-affirming a tonic for our
times.

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Other writers on the list include Emily Fridlund from U.S. ( History of Wolves ), Mike McCormack from
Ireland ( Solar Bones ), Jon McGregor from U.K. ( Reservoir 13 ), Fiona Mozley from U.K. ( Elmet ),
George

Saunders from U.S. ( Lincoln in the Bardo ) Kamila Shamsie from U.K. and Pakistan ( Home Fire ) and
Colson Whitehead from U.S. ( The Underground Railroad ).

The list, which was drawn up from 144 submissions published in the U.K. between October 1, 2016, and
September 30, 2017, was selected by a panel of five judges: Baroness Lola Young, literary critic Lila
Azam

Zanganeh, Man Booker Prize shortlisted novelist Sarah Hall, artist Tom Phillips and travel writer Colin
Thubron.
The winner gets a prize of 50,000.

Palestine believes Israels closeness to India could be the reason


for recent problem
Indias friendly ties with Israel could interfere with the ongoing Israel-Palestinians conflict over the Al
Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, said the envoy of Palestine.

The Ambassador, Adnan Abu Al Haija, termed Israels latest security measures in Al Aqsa compound a
religious war and said Palestine expected a positive attitude from the Indian government.

Indias present government is friendly to Israel. Previous governments were also close to Israel but this
government is particularly so. Indias friendly ties with Israel could interfere with the present situation in
Jerusalem, said the envoy.

The Al Aqsa mosque is an Islamic place of worship. Jerusalem is a city of three religions and we respect
all religions. He said

He, however maintained that Prime Minister Narendra Modis recent visit to Israel which excluded a visit
to the Palestinian territory did not impact ties between two sides.

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The envoy said Israel had been trying to disturb the sanctity of the Al Aqsa mosque for a long time but for
the first time since 1967 has begun the Judaisation process of the site which is holy to both Muslims and
the Jewish.

Russia is keen on selling its new fighter jet MiG-35 to India


Russia is keen on selling its new fighter jet MiG-35 to India with the MiG corporations chief saying the
country has evinced interest in the aircraft and talks were on to understand its requirements.

The Director-General of Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG, Ilya Tarasenko, said the MiG-35 was the
best and definitely better than Lockheed Martins fifth-generation combat aircraft F-35.

He claimed that the MiG-35 would beat the American jet in air-to-air combat.

Mr. Tarasenko said after having presented MiG-35 in January, the MiG corporation began to promote the
aircraft in India and in other parts of the world actively.

The MiG-35 is Russias most advanced 4++ generation multipurpose fighter jet developed on the basis of
the serial-produced MiG-29K/KUB and MiG-29M/M2 combat aircraft.

Asked if India had expressed any interest in MiG-35, Mr. Tarasenko said, Of course they have. MiG
aircraft have been used by India for almost 50 years.

India and China should work together for peace


India and China should work together to come up with some better sort of arrangement for peace, the
U.S. said, expressing concern over the military stand-off in the Sikkim sector.

Chinese and Indian soldiers have been locked in a face-off at Doklam for over a month after Indian
troops stopped the Chinese from building a road in the disputed area.

Expressing concern over the Peoples Liberation Armys growing assertiveness in the strategic Asia-
Pacific region, a top U.S. commander said that China was exploiting its economic leverage to advance its
regional political objectives.

The modernisation of the PLA emphasises the development of capabilities with the potential to degrade
core U.S. military-technological advantages, General Paul Selva of the U.S. Air Force said.

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Noting that a long-term, sustained presence would be critical to demonstrating the U.S. commitment to
the Asia Pacific region, Gen. Selva said the U.S. would continue to develop a security network through
multilateral partnerships.

Chinas growing military is being designed and postured to be able to protect its interests both in the
Asia-Pacific region and abroad.

India has critical role to play in breaking the stalemate in


Afghanistan says US
India has a critical role to play in breaking the stalemate in Afghanistan, the U.S. Senate Committee on
Armed Forces has said, calling for enhancing trilateral cooperation between Afghanistan, India and the
U.S.

In a report accompanying the National Defense Authorisation Act (NDAA) 2018, the committee also
called for enhancing the overall defence cooperation between the U.S. and India, and eventually joint
naval patrol of the Indian Ocean.

Report said the committee was concerned by a growing gap between the overarching goals of the
bilateral defence relationship and the Departments implementation of these objectives.

The committee specifically noted the delay by the Pentagon in designating an individual within the
Department to coordinate and expedite bilateral defence cooperation, as required by last years NDAA.

The lawmakers body said appointing such an individual would bring a refined approach to prioritising
defence cooperation and aligning it with missions like maritime awareness and anti-submarine warfare,
and eventually joint naval patrol of the Indian Ocean.

India has been less than enthusiastic about joint patrol and cautious while expanding cooperation with
the Afghan government. India has a strategic partnership agreement with Afghanistan, but its military
component remains limited.

The report noted the positive adjustment of U.S. export controls for defence articles sold to India after
last years NDAA, but called for faster progress and focussed approach.

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It said the 2012 Defense Technology and Trade Initiative has six pathfinder initiatives, which need to be
more in alignment with the Joint Strategic Vision between the two countries.

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SPORTS
Grand felicitation for team
The BCCI is planning a grand felicitation for the Indian womens cricket team which won a billion
hearts despite a heartbreaking loss in the World Cup final at Lords on Sunday.

The players will be presented with cheques for Rs. 50 lakh each while the support staff will receive
Rs. 25 lakh each.
Efforts are also on for an interaction with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has praised the team.

Olympics 2020
Japan began the three-year countdown to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with celebrations and fanfare,
even as organisers struggle to contain soaring costs and restore credibility.

Japanese celebrities and athletes dressed in bright kimonos gathered for the launch of a remake of a
popular 1964 Tokyo Olympics song, as organisers promised to turn the 2020 Games into the biggest
natsu matsuri (summer festival) ever.

The International Olympic Committee, fearful that ballooning budgets could see future Olympic bids
dry up, last month praised local organisers for slashing costs.

Progress on the financial front comes after a rocky start when the initial roll-out of the centrepiece
Olympic stadium was bungled, forcing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2015 to tear up the blueprints
amid public anger over its price tag. A new and cheaper plan was unveiled later that year.

Japan also observed a national exercise to encourage tens of thousands of commuters to work from
home, in a bid to ease rail and road congestion before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and reform the
countrys workaholic culture.

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