Morning briefing: India, US to hold maiden policy planning dialogue today

GN Bureau | November 18, 2015

#India   #US   #maiden policy   #Global Focal Point Conference   #GFPC   #Labour Ministry   #7th pay commission   #American Airlines   #Babri case   #India   #Bangladesh   #CCI   #Jet   #IndiGo   #SpiceJet   #Shatrughan Sinha   #Bobby Jindal   #FTII students  

India and USA will hold first policy planning dialogue in Delhi today (Wednesday) to share perspectives on key global issues and analyze major global trends including the West Asian situation, rise of Islamic State, rise and ambitions of China and climate change. The creation of this Indo-US Policy Planning Dialogue was agreed at the maiden Strategic-Commercial Dialogue in Washington in September. the objective of this Policy Planning Dialogue is part of exercise to expand bilateral strategic partnership and discuss respective perspectives on key global issues including West Asian crisis, climate change challenge, rise of China and its co-habitation with India in Asia. Incidentally this meeting is taking place before East Asia Summit in Malaysia on Nov 21-22 where security architecture in Asia Pacific will be discussed as well as climate change summit in Paris. "Director of Policy Planning, David McKean, will travel to India, November 17-18. In New Delhi, he will hold the first US-India Policy Planning talks with the Indian Ministry of External Affairs. These talks were established at the 2015 US-India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue as part of a New Diplomacy Partnership between the United States and India. While in New Delhi, Director McKean will meet with officials from various Indian government ministries and think tanks," US State Department statement said.

Global meet to discuss ways to recover criminals’ assets begins today
A conference of representatives from over 50 countries for global cooperation on asset recovery will discuss ways to attach properties of accused in foreign countries and use of virtual currency such as Bitcoin to stash money abroad. The sixth Global Focal Point Conference (GFPC) on Asset Recovery will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday in New Delhi. It will also discuss a new Interpol notice called “silver notice”, recently introduced on pilot basis to assist member countries to locate, identify, obtain information, monitor, seize, freeze and/or confiscate assets in foreign jurisdiction. Several Indian fugitives, including Dawood Ibrahim and the recently-arrested don Chhota Rajan, have assets abroad.

Labour Ministry to push for 6 bills in Winter Session
The Labour Ministry will push as many as six bills for passage in the upcoming winter session of Parliament starting next week to bring in another wave of reforms as part of government's efforts to improve ease of doing business. The ministry is ready with four bills -- the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Amendment Bill, the Payment of Bonus (Amendment) Bill, the Small Factories (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Services) Bill and the Employees' Provident Fund & Miscellaneous Provisions Bill. Besides, it expects to complete the process with regards to the Code on Industrial Relations and the Code on Wages. Others are Small Factories Bill and amendments to the EPF Act.

7th pay commission report likely tomorrow
The 7th pay commission will submit its report to the finance minister on Thursday. The commission is expected to propose an approximate 15 per cent hike in salaries starting January 1, 2016, reports NDTV. The recommendations will impact 50 lakh central government employees and 54 lakh pensioners. The 15 per cent salary hike likely to be recommended by the 7th Pay Commission will be much lower than the 35 per cent hike employees got on implementation of the 6th Pay Commission in 2008.This would push up the central government's salary bill by Rs 25,000 crore.

American Airlines to reward fliers for money spent, not mileage flown
Like other major players in the aviation industry in the US, the American Airlines Group Inc on Tuesday said it will change its loyalty programme to be based on fares paid by the passenger. Under the programme, customers earn frequent-flier miles based on the fares they pay rather than the distance they fly. The move, long anticipated by investors, makes it harder for travelers to rack up free flights on American by booking cheap tickets that let them log thousands of miles. It follows similar changes to the loyalty programs of Delta Air Lines Inc and United Continental Holdings. Frequent fliers will earn five award miles for every dollar spent on tickets, with elite members earning higher amounts.

Babri case plaintiff Hashim Ansari pays tributes to Ashok Singhal
The main plaintiff in the Babri Masjid case, Hashim Ansari, on Tuesday condoled the death of VHP leader Ashok Singhal, who played a key role in mobilising support for the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. "I am sorrowed by the death of a warrior with whom we are fighting the Babri Masjid case. Singal's death is the greatest loss for Ram Mandir movement," Ansari said. He said that Singhal was "the only person who mobilised Hindu masses for Ayodhya movement and was the main force behind the polarisation of the common man for BJP". Ansari further said that "BJP had only two MPs, but after Singhal started Ram Mandir movement, the result is in front of us".Meanwhile, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad office in Ayodhya wore a deserted today following news of Singhal's passing away at a Gurgaon hospital on Tuesday.

India, Bangladesh agree to share militant information
India and Bangladesh on Tuesday agreed to share information on militants as their home secretaries concluded talks here reviewing internal security and other cross-border issues, days after the two countries exchanged a top separatist leader and a wanted criminal.  "They (India) assured us of providing information immediately if they get any information on militancy... We can eliminate terrorism and insurgency through bilateral understanding and intelligence sharing," Bangladesh's home secretary Mozammel Haque Khan told reporters in Dhaka after talks with his Indian counterpart Rajiv Mehrishi. The two neighbours also agreed to launch an awareness campaign for people along both sides of the borders to evade tensions in frontiers and prevent border guards from using their weapons.

Maharashtra govt to take back industrial land if not used for 10 years
The Maharashtra Cabinet on Tuesday decided that henceforth if entrepreneurs acquire land to start an industry but fail to use it for the purpose within ten years, then the government will take back the land and return it to the farmers. "Henceforth, if entrepreneurs fail to start industries even in ten years, the government will take away the land from them and give it back to its owner (farmer)," Maharashtra revenue minister Eknath Khadse told reporters. According to the existing provisions, a person who purchases a non-agriculture land, should start an Industry within 15 years. Meanwhile, industries minister Subhash Desai said, "the decision will be applicable only to the revenue land.

Now, FTII students seek removal of censor chief
The FTII Students' Association (FSA) on Tuesday sought resignation of the censor board chief Pahlaj Nihalani for his "plan" to make a film showing them as "anti-national". The FSA said Nihalani had "a plan to make a film showing FTII students and alumni as anti-national". The students have urged the Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore to seek Nihalani's resignation, as the chief of Central Board of Film Certification is a "responsible government representative". They also demanded removal of Nihalani from the FTII Society along with its chairman, actor Gajendra Chauhan.

Kerala minister doesn't want boys and girls sit next to each other in institutions
Kerala Education Minister PK Abdu Rabb on Tuesday said he was not in favour of boys and girls sitting next to each other in college campuses. However, he said he had nothing against students sitting in separate chairs together in the class. "I have no idea if boys and girls are sitting intermingled in any college in the state," he told media personnel. "I have nothing against students sitting in separate chairs," he said, adding he had not received any complaints from Farooq College where the management had suspended a student for allegedly defying its directive not to share seats with girls in the campus.

Dinu K, a first year student of the college, had been suspended last month for being part of a group of boys and girls who sat next to each other on a bench in the classroom in their campus, going against the management's diktat.The students were asked to bring their parents and tender written apologies for 'defying disciplinary rules'.

Indian-American Bobby Jindal suspends his presidential campaign
Having failed to make the cut as Republican presidential candidate, Indian-American Bobby Jindal has announced to suspend his campaign to the White House noting "this is not his time". "This is not my time, so I am suspending my campaign for President," Jindal said in a statement on Tuesday that surprised the American political pundits. "Now is the time for all those Americans who still believe in freedom and American exceptionalism to stand up and defend it. The idea of America the idea that my parents came here for almost a half a century ago - that idea is slipping away from us. Freedom is under assault from both outside our borders and from within. We must act now, we do not have a moment to spare," Jindal said.Forty-four-year-old Jindal often polled under one per cent and his campaign, reportedly, suffered financial pressure. He has now become the third Republican to opt out of the 2016 presidential race.

Sensex, Nifty flat due to tepid Asian markets
The S&P BSE Sensex traded rangebound in trade on Wednesday, slipping 50 points tracking mixed cues from other Asian markets and Wall Street over nights.  At 10 amSensex was at 25821.23, down 43 points and Nifty at 7824.50, down 13 points.Most other Asian markets traded mixed. Japan's Nikkei was up 0.6 per cent while the South Korean Kospi traded higher by 0.10 per cent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was down 0.2 per cent while mainland China's Shanghai Composite was up 0.2 per cent.

Shatrughan Sinha utters DNA word to target Modi
Launching a frontal attack on the party leadership, BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha on Wednesday said those with "vested interests" are refusing to learn lessons from the Bihar debacle and asserted that no one has the guts or DNA to tick him off, an apparent dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Siding with veterans' demand for fixing accountability for the loss, Sinha said the "camouflage" of collective responsibility is unacceptable and responsibility must be fixed on individuals for corrective actions. The Lok Sabha MP ridiculed any move to take action against him for his ceaseless criticism of the party, saying it is just bravado of the ill-advised to talk of action.

"Some vested interests are still at it... refusing to learn any lessons, still working on creating misunderstandings through misinformation. RK Singh, former Home Secretary and a proud Bihari Sher (a tough nut to crack) is right. No one has the guts (or DNA) to give us a 'fatkaar'," he tweeted. His DNA barb is an apparent reference to Modi's DNA dig at Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who had made it a major campaign issue in the Bihar assembly election.

"Those responsible for the debacle must answer what, why, where and how it all happened. They must satisfy the real stalwarts/veterans of BJP. It's just bravado of the ill-advised to talk of action. The time is for reaction, understanding, apology and satisfaction of party godfathers," he said.

After TN, Andhra Pradesh braces for torrential downpour
The death toll due to incessant rains in Tamil Nadu has gone up to 79. Though Chennai is experiencing some respite from the torrential downpour for the last 36 hours, it may not last for long. Fresh mild rains are expected to lash the state capital on Wednesday. The focus has, however, shifted to coastal Andhra Pradesh. According to the Met department, coastal Andhra Pradesh is now slated to receive the next heavy spell. Rail transport has been badly affected in both Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, with at least 25 south-bound trains being cancelled. Five deaths have already been reported from Kadapa district. Among other districts which have been receiving heavy rains include Chittoor, Nellore and Prakasam.
As per reports, 14,000 people have already been shifted to relief camps in Nellore and Chittoor districts. Heavy rains triggered by the north east monsoon continue to lash several districts of Andhra Pradesh flooding low-lying areas.

CCI imposes Rs 258 crore penalty on Jet, IndiGo, SpiceJet for cartelisation
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) on Tuesday imposed a penalty totalling Rs 258 crore on domestic carriers – Jet Airways (Rs 151.69 crore), IndiGo (Rs 63.74 crore) and SpiceJet (Rs 42.48 crore) – for fixing and revising fuel surcharge (FSC) for cargo transport through "concerted action".The fair trade regulator's order comes after the apex industry body of express companies, Express Industry Council of India (EICI) filed a complaint against five airlines, including state-owned Air India (AI) and Go Airways, under Section 19(1)(a) of the Competition Act.

The penalty, which is 1% of the average turnover of each airline over the last three financial years, is more than the airlines' profit for a single quarter. For instance, Jet's net profit for the September quarter in the current fiscal stood at Rs 87.59 crore and that of SpiceJet, Rs 23.77 crore.In its complaint, the representative body of express industry alleged cartelisation by the airlines that was in contravention of the provisions of Section 3 of the Act that deals with anti-competitive agreements.

"No penalty, however, was imposed upon Air India Ltd as its conduct was not found to be parallel with other airlines. Similarly, no penalty was imposed upon Go Airlines (India) Ltd as it gave its cargo belly space to third party vendors with no control on any part of commercial/ economic aspects of cargo operations done by vendors including imposition of FSC," said the EICI release.



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