Tuesday 20th December 2016 17:21 EST

The Queen is dead; long live the Queen. Jayalalithaa has gone to her rest; her likely long-term successor as chief minister as Tamil Nadu chief minister and AIADMK general secretary will surely be V.K. Sasikala, who stood next to Jayalalihaa’s coffin, as Jayalalithaa had once stood next to M. G. Ramachandran’s many years ago, and become his successor as chief minister and party chief.

The top leaders of the AIADMK, including party presidium chairman E. Madhusudhanan, have made their support for Sasikala clear, with potential rivals also chiming behind them. There has been a long queue of the good and great at Sasikala’s door beseeching her to take over the reins of power. In queenly fashion, she listened to their pleas graciously, and announce her decision, following a pause for reflection. The rise of Sasikala is in its early stage (Hindu 12, 13, Mint December 12)

Cyclone Vardah took its toll of lives and property, but nothing on the scale of last year’s storm at about the same time, because preparations to meet it were well in place before its dreaded arrival. Vardah’s force diminished rapidly, with restoration work put on a war footing (December 12, 13)

Ex-Air Chief Marshal Tyagi arrested

Retired Air Chief Marshal S.P. Tyagi has been arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), along with his cousin Sanjeev Tyagi and lawyer Gautan Khaitan for alleged involvement in the controversial Augusta Westland VVIP helicopter deal. Accused of routing the kickbacks, Gautam Khaitan was arrested earlier by the Enforcement Directorate.


A CBI official announced the arrests of Tyagi and two other persons after four hours of interrogation at CBI headquarters in New Delhi. The official said: ‘Mr Tyagi allegedly entered into a conspiracy with other accused persons in 2005 and consented to change the Air Force’s consistent requirement that the 6,000 metre ceiling of VVIP helicopters as an operational necessity was reduced by Tyyagi to 4,000 metres, enabling Augusta Westland eligible for the contract, which was duly awarded to the company. Tyagi, in denial, said the decision was collegiate, involving senior officials of the IAF and the Special Protection Group and other agencies. Twelve arrests in all have now been made.

Guido Haschke, Carlo Geros and Michel were the named the middlemen, who received hefty fees of millions of euro. A number of Indian companies allegedly played an active part in routing the bribes to the principal accused. (Hindu December

Huawei welcomes demonetization

Huawei’s Enterprise Group is thriving on the back of customers such as Paytem and Fintech companies. ‘With the demonetization move by the Indian government, we have inched closer towards an economy that is based on digital computing technologies. New ICT technologies in the digitalization era are also providing opportunities for business models and opening up new market opportunities. We are also the main IT infrastructure supplier to Paytem, which is one of the biggest alternative payment solutions,’ said Derek Hao, President, Huawei India (Business Line December 9)

Canara Bank surge in e-transactions

Canara Bank, headquartered in Bangalore, with country-wide branches has recorded a surge in its e-transactions through its various digital channels. ‘Ever since we took proactive measures to give a major thrust to cashless we are witnessing huge e-transactions via mobile banking, Mwallet, Empower, Debit/Credit cards,’ said Rakesh Sharma MD and CEO of Canara Bank.’ During the last one month the bank has undertaken 4170 lakh (1 lakh is 100,000) transactions and facilitated exchange of demonetized currency to the tune of Rs 1445.18 crore (1 crore is 10 million (Business Line December 12)

Mobile banking soars

­In the past eight months of the financial year, beginning April 1, 2016, to November, are already 1.36 times reported in the last full financial year (April 1, 2015-March 31, 2016). As per the Reserve Bank of India data, the full volume of mobile banking transactions from April to November this year soared to Rs by 1.71 times to Rs 53,086 crore as against Rs 38,949 crore in the entire stretch of the previous financial year (Business Line December 12)

One in three households owns a two-wheeler

One in two Indian households owns a bicycle, one in three a two-wheeler (scooter, moped or motorcycle) and one in 10 owns a car, according to the data compiled by the Household Survey on India’s Citizen Environment & Consumer Economy. The survey reveals that the majority of car owners were urban-based., while a majority of two-wheeler owners were rural-based. (Mint December 12)

Demonetization pain endures

However, while there have been winners, there have also been losers in the demonetization exercise. The agricultural sector involving farmers who need ready cash and masses of the urban poor who constitute the unorganized of informal area of the economy have been particularly hard hit. Chief Minister Navin Patnaik issued an urgent appeal to the Centre for more Rs 100 and Rs 500 demonetized currency notes to ease the difficulties faced by farmers in the State. Financial normalcy is likely to take longer than the timeline envisaged by the government. (Hindu, Business Line, Times of India, Telegraph, Mint December 14

Nomura sees India as strongest economy

Nomura Financial Advisory predict that the rupee will outperform some of its Asian peers. Its regional strategy ranks India as the best bet market in Asia. However, a member of the Nomura panel calculates that the turbulence of demonetization will possibly lead to a percent point drop in India’s economic growth in the December quarter, ‘but beyond that, our view is that it is a big disruption but there is also wealth redistribution taking place, whether it is to the rural households or it to the government which is going to be used or the money that is going to banks vis-a-vis sitting under the mattresses…the organized sector is going to get more market share compared to the unorganized sector.’ (Mint December 12)

India readied for ICBM launch

India is getting ready to launch an Agni V 5000-kilometre plus Inter-Continental Ballistic missile, capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, from the back of a purpose-built truck vehicle in the coming weeks. The launch is to take place from Wheeler Island in the Bay of Bengal of the Odisha coast. ‘There are some minor technical snags in Agni V, which required tweaking, such as the missile’s battery and electronics configurations since the last test in 2015,’ said a source at the site. This is to be the final test of the series, following which induction into Strategic Forces Command (Times of India December 14)

India-Russia naval exercises

India-Russia naval exercises – Indra Navy 2016 – commenced in the Bay of Bengal off the port city of Visakhapatnam, in Andhra Pradesh. Three vessels from each side took part in week-long drills. The Indian taskforce consisted of a guided missile destroyer INS Ranvir. a frigate INS Satpura, and the anti-submarine corvette INS Kamorta, a tanker and naval air support. The Russian Navy was serviced by a large anti-submarine ship of Project 1156, a guided missile destroyer Admiral Tributs destroyer, a Kamoiv Ka-27 anti-submarine helicopter, a tanker and a sea tug. (TASS, Telegraph December 14)

Chinese snarl over Dalai Lama

China has fired a broadside at India, the subject being the Dalai Lama. You can bet your bottom US dollar or demonetizes rupee that this won’t be the last. President Pranab Mukherjee’s invitation to His Holiness to Rashtrapati Bhavan for the ‘Leaders for Children Summit’ organized by Kailash Satyamurti who, like the Dalai Lama, is a Nobel Peace laureate, aroused China’s ire. The Chinese protest declared loftily: ‘Recently in disregard of China’s solemn representation and strong opposition, the Indian side insisted on arranging for the 14th Dalai Lama’s visit to the Indian presidential palace where he met and took part in an event and met President Mukherjee.’

Sharp exchanges

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang in Beijing accused the Dalai Lama of ‘anti-China activities separating Tibet away from China under the cloak of religion.’ Vikas Swarup, spokesman of India’s Ministry of External Affairs, responded with a prompt rejoinder. ‘His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a respected and revered spiritual leader. It was a non-political event,’ he said

Geng Shuang asked India to respect ‘China’s core interests.’ China surely must do likewise with India. It takes two to tango. India is not the tributary state from whom Chinese rulers in the past expected the ritual kowtow. China also expressed displeasure at the Indian Ambassador to Mongolia, T. Suresh hosting a lunch for the visiting Dalai Lama in Ulan Bator (Telegraph, Hindu December 17) See page 3

Bhatkal sentence sets bar for terrorists

The convictions and sentencing of Indian Mujahideen chief Yasin Bhaktal and his associates have been a notable feather in the cap of India’s security agencies, hence has set the bar for what others of the species can now expect when brought to trial for crimes backed by irrefutable evidence. The Bhaktal group was responsible for the Hyderabad bomb blasts in 2013. Tracking the terrorist and their convictions has contributed significantly to ani-terror operations (Times of India December 14)

comments powered by Disqus

to the free, weekly Asian Voice email newsletter