The Lok Sabha gave a massive endorsement to the GST Bill, with all 443 MPs present voting in favour and none against. This sends the best possible signal to investors at home and abroad that India is open for business. With monsoon rains cascading in all corners of the country the portents for bountiful harvest and revived agricultural output is expected to stimulate industrial growth and increase overall economic percentages significantly.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley thanked all the political parties for their support in getting this game changing legislation through. The Prime Minister said: ‘GST can’t be seen as a victory of a party or the government. It is a victory for the democratic ethos of India and a victory for everyone.’ He said the new indirect taxation regime, which is expected to subsume 7-13 taxes will free the country from tax terrorism and help reduce corruption as traders will be compelled to issue bills. ‘The consumer will be king,’ said the prime minister. ‘The consumer will be king,’ he added. GST was a triumph for Team India, the Prime Minister said.
Opening the debate, Finance Minister Jaitley said the government’s effort was to build an-across-the board support as it didn’t want a divided Parliament. Veerappa Moily, who led the team of Congress party speakers urged the government to acknowledge the GST concept s the brainchild of Dr Manmohan Singh and an offshoot of his liberalization of the economy. Other opposition speakers asked why as Gujarat chief minister, Mr Modi had opposed the GST. Good question! ((Hindu, Times of India August 9).
Industry captain hails GST as path-breaker
Sanjay Lalbhai, Chairman and Managing Director of textile manufacturer Arvind Ltd in a newspaper interview said, ‘I think the GST is one of the most path-breaking things to have happened in India. And I am extremely buoyant. We have had a long discussion with the Ministries of Textiles, Finance asnd Commerce as with the Government’s Chief Economic Adviser. We have been able to convince them that this is the only industry that can create millions of jobs and we can take the export figure to $80 billion in a very short time,’ (Business India August 8).
Basu lauds GST
Kaushik Basu, Chief Economist and Vice President of the World Bank, delivering a lecture in Kolkata, said the Goods and Services Bill (GST) was a ‘hugely beneficial reform’ which would cut both transaction costs and double taxation, with long-term benefits outweighing the likely short-term impact. ‘ Would cheer it as tribute to Indian democracy,’ he said.
India vs China
Propelled by three growth drivers – deft management of fiscal and monetary policies and the good fortune of lower oil prices – India’s growth rate surpassed China’s in 2015.’As Chief Economic Adviser of the Government of India, ‘I forecast it at 2016. I was wrong…it happened in 2015.’ India was now a front runner in the World Bank’s chart of emerging economies, said Dr Basu. (Hindu August 6)
Assam terror strike
The town of Korajihar in Assam was recently subjected to a horrific terror attack in which 13 innocent people died. Five terrorists in military uniforms opened fire without warning at a marketplace crowded with weekend shoppers causing mayhem in the area and rocking newly elected Assam State government. The killings were the handiwork of a faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland which is opposed to peace talks with the authorities. A joint operation is underway between the Army and police along the Bhutan border to to catch the terror group (Hindu August 6, 7).
Key IS operative arrested
Following an Indian request a key IS operative of Islamic State in the kingdom has been arrested. The scent started when four Maharashtra-based men travelled to Iraq on the pretext of a pilgrimage. The National Intelligence Agency caught the leader, Areeb Majeed. His three accomplices are still at large. Majeed under interrogation, revealed the name of Kuwaiti resident Abdullah Hadi Rahman al Enezi (32) as the IS mastermind and principal recruiter for India. He is now in custody in Kuwait and Indian security agents will be in Kuwait to interrogate him (Hindu August 7)
Terrorist veals Infiltration trail
Pakistani terrorist Bahadur Ali who was arrested recently in Kapura, North Kashmir by local security forces is believed to have divulged the names of his collaborators in the State. According NIA Director-General Sanjeev Kumar Singh, Ali disclosed the names of local collaborators who had given him cover and facilitated his movements. The Lahore-based jihadi had crossed the border into India around the middle of June with two accomplices and got separated from them. Laskar-e-Taiba operative, Bahadur Ali, also revealed the infiltration route into Kashmir across the Line of Control, the survival tips to terrorist to such jihadi operatives. The National Intelligence Agency (NIA) has the informatiuo. (Hindu, Times of India August 12)
Rajasthan jolts ruling BJP
The Congress party’s emphatic victory in Rajasthan’s urban municipal election and the rural panchayat polls has been a jolt to the ruling BJP State government led by Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje. Pradesh Congress Committee President Sachin Pilot congratulated the victorious candidates, while affirming that urban and voters reflected the widespread disillusionment with the performance of the ruling BJP government. (Hindu, Times of India August 9)
PM denounces cow protection vigilantes
Prime Minister Modi has denounced the violence unleashed against Gujarat’s disadvantaged Dalits by local vigilantes opposed to their beef eating habits. A number of Dalits have been killed and injured in the violence by fanatical vigilantes. Te RSS, which is the ideological fount of the Sangh Parivar has endorsed the Prime Minister’s strong stand (Hindu, Times of India August 8, 9)
India waves in Apple
India is the forefront of Apple’s global expansion. The American electronics giant is enjoying exceptional growth in its Indian market at a time when international markets are facing a slowdown. Apple CEO Tim Cook showered praise on hius company’s India operations. Speaking at company headquarters in the US, he said: ‘India is now one of our fastest-growing in the first three quarters of this year: our iPhone sales in India were up 51 per cent year-on-year.’ Worldwide Apple iPhone sales were down by 15 per cent. (Times of India July 28).
Regional aviation to surge
Kirti Vyas has a highly successful travel agency in Raipur, the capital of Chhattisgarh State. It is home to a million people. Rapid industrialization in the past decade has led to significant prosperity in the city. As evidence, Vyas cites a six-fold increase in air tickets over the last eight years. Home to power plants and steel factories, Raipur is now connected to major Indian hubs by 32 daily flights serviced by IndiGo, Air India and Jet Airways. ‘Business is booming. Passengers don’t ask after the price of tickets; they simply buy whatever is on offer.’ says Vyas (Mint August 8).
HDFC Life, Max seal merger deal
The boards of HDFC Life Insurance and Max Life have signed up to a merger that will create India’s largest private-sector insurer. With Rs 1 trillion assets, the merged company will overtake ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Co Ltd as India’s No 1 non-government company. It will still trail the state-owned Life Insurance Corporation of India whose assets are worth Rs 21.70 trillion (Mint August 9).
ISRO readying for second Mars mission
A second Mars mission is being planned by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) ,three years after the first, launched in 2013. Describing the first launch as a ‘marvel of engineering’ UR Rao, former chairman of ISRO said It was a matter of pride that first attempt to reach the planet was successful, Established space powers such the US, Russia and Europe failed with their initial attempt. He said there is much work still to be done before can we plumb the Red’s many secrets are revealed, including the origin of the universe (Hindu August 10)
Tata Chemicals sale to Norway’s Vara
Tata Chemicals has sold its urea and customized fertilizer business to Yara Fertilisers India, wholly-owned by Norway-based Yara International ASA for Rs 2,670 crore (Business Line August 11)
IIT whizz-kids in UAV enterprise
IIT Bombay alumni, Rahul, Singh. Ashish Bhatt, Ankit Mehta and Vipul Joshi, all graduates in interdisciplinary engineering science pooled their brains and skills to come up with a novel Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) in a startup company named ideaForge in which each is a CEO. Their product was utilized with great success in Uttarkhand flood relief operations several years ago. Defence industry laboratories were soon to request then to design micro and mini UAVs.
Navy, Army orders
The Indian Navy followed with a request to design an auto-pilot drone in 2008. Deliveries were made the next year. The company has designed robots for the Army and oil industry. It won an international competition along with MIT - and fame. The company has 20 patents and was funded by IIT-Bombay (Business Line August 11).