Evening digest: Final agreement on 36 Rafale jets, financials to be worked out

GN Bureau | January 25, 2016



India has signed an inter-governmental agreement on Monday to buy 36 French-built Rafale fighter planes. Prime minister Narendra Modi said on Monday that India has agreed to buy 36 Rafale combat jets from France, but the financial details of the deal have yet to be worked out. Modi was speaking after hosting French president Francois Hollande for talks in New Delhi. Hollande called the Rafale deal a "decisive" step, and added that the financial issues that will be sorted out in couple of days. India and France have been negotiating the financial structure of the Rafale purchase from Dassault Aviation, since the announcement of the deal was made by Prime Minister Modi in April during his visit to France. As part of that deal, there are expected to be significant "offsets", or related French investments that Prime Minister Modi hopes will support his "Make in India" initiative to develop the manufacturing sector. Earlier on Monday, speaking at the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, finance minister Michel Sapin said that French companies will invest $10 billion in India over the next five years, mainly in the industrial sector.

Padma Vibhushan for Rajinikanth, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and, Dhirubhai Ambani
The government on Monday announced 113 Padma awardees and superstar Rajinikanth, founder of the Reliance empire late Dhirubhai Ambani, Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and media baron Ramoji Rao have been chosen for Padma Vibhushan, country’s second highest civilian award, this year. Former Jammu and Kashmir governor Jagmohan, former DRDO chief V K Aatre, cancer specialist and chairperson of Adyar Cancer Institute Dr V Shanta and eminent Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi dancer Yamini Krishnamurthi and classical vocalist Girija Devi and Indian—American economist Avinash Dixit have also been named for Padma Vibhushan on the occasion of this year’s Republic Day celebrations. Noted actor Anupam Kher, singer Udit Narayan, former CAG Vinod Rai, chairperson of media group Bennett, Coleman & Co.Indu Jain, sports star Sania Mirza and Saina Nehwal, spiritual leaders late Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Swami Tejomayananda and former US Ambassador to India Robert Blackwill are among the 19 eminent people chosen for Padma Bhushan. Industrialist Pallonji Shapoorji Mistry, Maruti Suzuki chairman R C Bhargava and eminent architect Hafeez Contractor also figure in the list of Padma Bhushan awardees. Senior lawyer Ujjwal Nikam, who was the prosecution counsel in the Mumbai terror attack case, actors Ajay Devgn and Priyanka Chopra get Padma Shri.

Startups get exemption for nine labour laws, no inspection by EPFO, ESIC
In line with prime minister Narendra Modi’s vision to nurture startups, the new age ventures will be allowed to self-certify their compliance with nine labour laws. Accordingly, the labour ministry has directed retirement fund body EPFO and health insurance provider ESIC to exempt startups from inspection and filing returns for three years. They will be exempted from inspection under the Building and other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, Inter—State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, Payment of Gratuity Act and Contract Labour Act. Startups will also be exempted from filing returns under the Industrial Disputes Act, Building and other Construction Workers Act, Inter-State Migrant Workmen Act, Contract Labour Act, EPF Act and ESI Act. There will be a blanket exemption from inspection and filing returns for the first year and would be asked to file an online self declaration form. They will also not be asked to file return or inspected for the next two years, but will be inspected in case a “very credible and verifiable” complaint of violation is filed in writing and the approval has been obtained from the Central Analysis and Intelligence Unit (CAIU). Except the EPF and Miscellaneous Provisions Act and the ESI Act, the implementation of other seven laws lies in both central and state government’s sphere.

Congress moves SC over President’s rule in Arunachal Pradesh
The Congress party on Monday moved the Supreme Court challenging Union Cabinet’s recommendation for imposition of President’s rule in Arunachal Pradesh, which has been witnessing a political crisis. “We have filed the petition before the apex court registry,” Congress leader and senior advocate Vivek Tankha said. He said the petition has been filed by the State Congress chief whip Bamang Felix and an urgent hearing has been sought. “We are waiting to hear from the deputy registrar, who will place the petition before the Chief Justice of India,” another lawyer said.

Parliamentary system 'ill-suited' for India: Shashi Tharoor
Former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor today said Parliamentary system was "ill-suited" to Indian national character but the country was "stuck" with it as it was conditioned to look at the British as "embodiment of everything". He said it was difficult for Parliamentary system to work in a country as populous and as diverse as India. "One of the reasons we are stuck with this parliamentary system that is so ill-suited to Indian national character is because it was the system that the British ran and we were very well conditioned to look at the British as an embodiment of everything," he said. Speaking on the last day of the Jaipur Literature Festival at a session entitled "On Empire", Tharoor was in conversation with British Labour Party MP Tristam Hunt and journalist Swapan Dasgupta about British imperial rule in  India.

Central registration centre launched for new companies
The corporate affairs ministry has launched Central Registration Centre (CRC) to speed up company incorporation related services. The CRC will look into applications for name availability (INC-1 e-forms) submitted online across the country and will process these by the end of the next working day. The process involves a three-pronged approach of further automating some of the approval processes by utilising advance software tools and engines, rationalising and modifying some of the rules and engaging professionals to expedite the process of manual scrutiny.

Akhilesh Yadav to visit Bundelkhand on January 27
After Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi's trip to Bundelkhand, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav will be visiting the region on January 27 to take stock of the development works there. The CM will be traveling to Shahjahanpur village in Jalaun and hold a 'chaupal' with the villagers and also meet public representatives, an official spokesperson said here today. After the announcement of Rahul's Bundelkhand visit, Akhilesh had listed the initiatives that have been taken by his government for the region. He had also sent Chief Secretary Alok Ranjan to the region, where he said the state government was working to provide better wages and work through MGNREGA to the villagers.

Pakistan rejects India's proposal for joint grilling of JeM chief Masood Azhar
Pakistan has turned down India's proposal to jointly interrogate Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar and other suspects linked with Pathankot airbase attack, official sources said. Authorities in Pakistan have detained Masood Azhar after the January 2 terrorist attack at Pathankot airbase. Several other suspects were arrested and authorities closed down a number of JeM-run madarsas (seminaries) in different cities, The Nation reported on Monday. Azhar, who was released from an Indian prison in 1999 in exchange for 155 passengers of the Indian Airlines plane hijacked to Kandahar, Afghanistan, was quizzed by the investigators. The JeM chief's brother Mufti Abdul Rehman Rauf was also detained, officials said on Saturday. Pakistan is likely to send a special investigating team to Pathankot in consultation with the Indian government for further investigations.

Grand nephew of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose joins BJP
Grand nephew of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Chandra Kumar Bose, joined the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday. Chandra Bose took membership of the BJP at a rally attended by BJP president Amit Shah in Kolkata today. “Joining a political party is a personal matter but I feel your principle and ideology matter. The BJP believes in the ideology of Subhas Chandra Bose,” he said. Lately, Chandra Bose has been heaping praise on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the NDA government. On January 23 when Modi government declassified 100 files related to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, he had said, “The country is waiting to see how the NDA Government will transform a government of suppression and deceit" to a government of transparency and openness."

BJP demands Mulayam's apology for 1990 firing on karsewaks
BJP Monday demanded an apology from SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav for having ordered firing on 'karsewaks' in Ayodhya in 1990 in which 16 people were killed, saying merely "feeling sad" would not console the families of those who died. "The 'karsewaks' on whom the Mulayam government ordered firing were barehanded. In such a case, firing on them was a heinous crime," BJP spokesman VIjay Bahadur Pathak said in Lucknow. He said that the firing was done at a time when it had already been announced that 'karsewa' was going to be symbolic. About 25 years after the incident, the SP chief had yesterday said he "felt sad" for having ordered firing on 'karsewaks' in Ayodhya in 1990 but it was done as it was necessary to save the religious place.

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