Morning briefing: Narendra Modi to address national meet on core issues today

GN Staff | September 7, 2015



Prime minister Narendra Modi will address a special session of a daylong "national meet" here on Monday, focussing on nine issues including agriculture, energy and environment, infrastructure planning, and water resources. The meet, being held on promoting space technology-based tools and applications in governance and development, would be inaugurated by NITI Aayog vice chairman Arvind Panagariya. Over 1,500 delegates, including central and state ministers, are expected to participate in the meet.

Govt speeds up business visa approval process
To boost trade ties with countries such as China and Iran, the government has decided that visa applications from foreign businessmen and trade delegations will be approved or rejected within a week’s time.The Modi government has so far eased tourist visa norms for at least 43 countries including China. The list is expected to be expanded further in the coming days as the government is keen to reduce its list of so-called negative countries, which includes Pakistan, where stringent background checks are carried out for each individual applying for a visa.

Sensex down over 100 points, Nifty above 7,650
The S&P BSE Sensex fell over 150 points in trade on Monday, tracking muted trend seen in other Asian markets. The 50-share Nifty index also came under pressure and was nearing its crucial level of 7,600.

On the global front, major Asian markets were trading flat with a neagtive bias. Japan's Nikkei was down 0.4 per cent, Hong kong's Hang Seng lost about 0.2 per cent. Singapore Straits Times shed 0.7 per cent, while South Korean Kospi was trading flat. Bucking the weak trend, China's Shanghai Composite was up about 0.1 per cent.

TERI case: Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw steps down from governing council

Industrialist and CMD of Biocon Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw has stepped down from the governing council of The Energy and Resources Institute (Teri). She has cited "moral responsibility" while submitting her resignation from the board of governing council of the think-tank.

Dr RK Pachauri, who is facing charges of sexual harassment at workplace, was recently removed from the post of director Teri by the governing council and Dr Ajay Mathur was chosen as his successor. The functioning of the governing council was questioned  by the 29-year-old research analyst who has accused Pachauri of sexually harassing her, stalking and intimidating her.

CPCB proposes revising norms for critically polluted areas

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) is proposing to overhaul the factors on which Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index (CEPI) score is calculated and critically-polluted areas are decided. “The present methodology on evaluation of CEPI score has been a matter of discussion on various occasions including during the national-level conferences as well as regular meetings of State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) and other stakeholders,” said the draft of the revised CEPI version, drawn up this year. The draft said calculation of factors such as a proposed project’s impact on people, on eco-geological features and potentially affected population —all part of the existing CEPI— needs reliable health impact studies on humans, flora and fauna. The CPCB is now proposing  a revision of the CEPI norms, saying health studies require huge funds, are time consuming and complex due to difficulties in finding truly representative data. Many projects were denied the nod, as the environment ministry does not clear any new developmental projects that could increase pollution in critically-polluted areas.

Delhi government reduces syllabus of students up to Class 8 by 25%
Students up to class eight studying in Delhi government schools will get a relief from carrying heavy bags to schools as the government has decided to reduce the syllabus by 25 per cent from October onwards, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said on Sunday. The government is also planning to reduce the syllabus for classes IX- XII by 20 per cent from next year, he said."The outdated and obsolete syllabus will be replaced by skill development, theatre, art, music and sports in the curriculum for classes 9-12. The Department of Education is working in this direction," the education minister said.

Rahul Gandhi to meet CLP leaders of non-Congress states today
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi will hold a meeting with Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leaders of states where the party is in opposition. The meeting will take place a day ahead of the Congress Working Committee meet, which has been called to discuss the current political situation. Congress is in power in only nine states, including Karnataka and Kerala. The CWC, which is meeting on September 8, is expected to deliberate on a host of issues to take on the Narendra Modi government, which it forced onto the back foot over the land bill and alleged wrongdoing by BJP leaders, including two chief ministers.

Muslims not cooperating in efforts to control population: VHP
Terming Census figures as "scary" and "a matter of deep concern", Vishva Hindu Parishad on Sunday alleged that instead of cooperating with efforts of other communities to control the country's population, Muslims are making it a "campaign" to increase their numbers. The 'Kendriya Margdarshak Kandal' (Central Mentors Group) of the Hindutva outfit described the fall in share of Hindus in the total population to below 80 per cent as "a matter of deep concern" and "an indication of an impending danger to the country's unity and integrity", a VHP statement said.

Govt tells coal power plants to subsidize 15GW of solar power
Coal-fired power plants have been told by the government to help make solar farms more competitive by bundling together electricity from both technologies for sale to the grid. Accordingly, state-controlled NTPC Ltd will sell cheaper coal power along with more expensive solar as a single unit. The effect of the order, which was released to industry officials and seen by Bloomberg News, is to reduce the price distribution companies pay for solar power and force them to take more of the cleaner form of energy.

China revises down 2014 GDP growth to 7.3% from 7.8%
China’s economy last year expanded more slowly than first announced, underscoring a deepening economic slowdown that’s threatening to put this year’s growth target of about 7% out of reach. Gross domestic product (GDP) growth for 2014 was revised lower by 0.1 percentage point to 7.3%, the National Bureau of Statistics said in a statement on Monday. The revision stemmed from slower services industry growth of 7.8% last year, down from an initially reported 8.1%.

Maruti to overhaul top models in bid to double sales by 2020
India’s largest car maker, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, is planning to embark on a complete overhaul of its top selling models—such as the Swift, the Dzire and the Ertiga—in a bid to double its annual sales to 2 million units by 2020, said three people familiar with the development. As part of this, Maruti is developing a new platform, code-named YSD. It will carry a new design with improved engine specifications and full-body changes for three models.

Govt wants telcos to fix call drops before spectrum auction
The Department of Telecom may go slow for auction of spectrum next year if operators do not invest in infrastructure to make optimum use of available airwaves and improve quality of services, sources said. According to official sources, the DoT is of the view that despite auctioning the largest amount of spectrum earlier this year, operators are not investing in infrastructure, as required, which is leading to call drop problem. The DoT had planned to conduct the auction early next year but is now reconsidering on the timeframe. An audit by DoT recently found out lack of investment in infrastructure along with operators putting more equipment for 4G services than for 2G or GSM as the main reasons for call drops.

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