|5 THINGS FIRST|
Today: PM Modi to roll out 5G services; GST data for September to be released; A ‘finer’ Graded Response Action Plan to curb air pollution comes into force. Tomorrow: Kashmir’s first electric train rolls out; 2nd T20I – India Vs South Africa in Guwahati
|1. A wild card entry to Congress president’s office|
- Mallikarjun Kharge has got a wild card entry to the Congress presidential election. Till Thursday late evening when Digvijaya Singh met him, Kharge had no plans to run for the Congress president. Late night, KC Venugopal — a key aide of the Gandhis — told him that the party high command wants him to run for the post Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul have held for the past 24 years.
- Digvijaya Singh, who was determined till late Thursday night to file his nomination, got the Kharge news from the media and met with him on Friday morning. He announced withdrawal from the contest.
- It’s versus Shashi Tharoor, the one from the original rebel G-23, who continues to hold his ground for the sake of internal democracy. Conscious that he must not be seen on the wrong side of the Gandhis, Tharoor said the family is the “guiding spirit” of the Congress.
- And there’s one more: To showcase its democratic credentials, the Congress has got a third contestant in the polls — KN Tripathi. He is a former Jharkhand minister. The last date of withdrawing nomination is October 8.
- A trade-off: Kharge is the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha. With ‘one person one post’ rule now in currency, Kharge is likely to resign as LoP. It is believed that Digvijaya, after dropping out of the presidential race, will be the next LoP in the Rajya Sabha.
- And Ashok Gehlot: Now that presidential election issues are resolved, the Gandhis are expected to take a call on the Rajasthan CM. Gehlot’s fate hangs in the balance.
- This is the first Congress president election in 20 years. Last time, Sonia had defeated Jitendra Prasada, pocketing almost 99% votes. The last triangular nomination was seen in 1997. More here
|2. Your EMIs go up again to keep inflation down|
- Rates at three-year-high: The monetary policy committee of the RBI raised the repo rate by 50 basis points to 5.90%. The fourth straight hike, in a bid to tame the soaring inflation, has pushed the repo rate at a three-year-high.
- Since May, the RBI has raised rates by a total 190 basis points since its first unscheduled mid-meeting hike four months ago. It hiked the rates by 40 bps in May, and 50 bps each in June and August.
- But inflation continues to remain stubbornly high — above 6%, the tolerance ceiling fixed by the RBI — for eight months. Inflation is a phenomenon that is currently affecting much of the global economy. The annual retail inflation rate — on the consumer price index — was at 7% in August.
- More hike expected: If soaring inflation doesn’t curve into the tolerance zone, experts believe, the RBI may raise it further by at least 35 bps by December.
- Because the RBI expects inflation to remain at 6.7% fiscal, and revised GDP growth rate projection to 7% from 7.2% estimated earlier.
- What it means for you: Hike in repo rates is bound to make funding costlier for existing and new borrowers. This pushes all home, car, personal, and education loans on floating rates higher for all existing borrowers.
- What else: The standing deposit facility and marginal standing facility rates were also raised by 50 bps to 5.65% and 6.15%.
- But why raise rates: The factors such as continued high inflation, the Ukraine conflict, supply chain disruptions due to zero-Covid policy of China, and microeconomic uncertainties in big economies necessitate constriction of money flow in the Indian market. More here
|3. Eye for an eye and territorial ambitions|
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed treaties on Friday to annex occupied areas of Ukraine and said he would use “all available means” to protect the territory that Ukrainian and Western officials said Russia was claiming illegitimately and in violation of international law.
- Earlier in the day, Putin urged Ukraine to sit down for talks to end the seven months of fighting that started when he ordered his troops to invade the neighbouring country.
- But he warned that Russia would never give up the absorbed regions — Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia — and would protect them as part of its sovereign territory. Putin also accused the West of fuelling the hostilities as part of what he said is a plan to turn Russia into a “colony” and a “crowds of slaves”.
- The treaty signing ceremony came three days after the completion of Kremlin-orchestrated “referendums” on joining Russia that were dismissed by Kyiv and the West as a bare-faced land grab held at gunpoint and based on lies.
- Both houses of the Kremlin-controlled Russian parliament will meet next week to rubber-stamp the treaties for the regions to join Russia, sending them to Putin for his approval.
- “We continue to work and liberate Ukrainian territories. And we don’t pay attention to those whose time to take pills has come,” Andrii Yermak, the head of the Ukrainian president’s office, said.
|4. When bail doesn’t get you out of jail|
A Delhi court on Friday granted bail
to JNU student Sharjeel Imam in a case charging him with sedition for an allegedly provocative speech of his against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
- The court also asked Imam to furnish a personal bond of Rs 30,000 “with one surety of like amount subject to the condition that applicant/accused shall always remain available on a working mobile number and shall intimate the concerned IO about change of address, if any.”
Why Imam got bail
- The court, which had earlier observed “that the evidence in support of the allegations” of Imam’s speech inciting rioting and attack on police was “scanty and sketchy”, also referred to the May 11 order by the Supreme Court (SC) directing that all sedition cases be kept in abeyance and no new FIRs be filed under Section 124(A) — also known as sedition law — till it decides on the constitutional validity of the law.
- Imam was denied regular bail last year in October by a Delhi court which noted that the tone and tenor of his ‘incendiary speech’ had a debilitating effect upon public tranquillity, peace and harmony of the society.
- Imam will not be walking out of the jail anytime soon since he is also one of the main accused in the Delhi riots conspiracy case.
|6. A train to compete with planes?|
- What: Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off the updated version of the Vande Bharat Express train from Gandhinagar-Mumbai on Friday, and took a ride on the high-speed train to Kalupur station in Ahmedabad.
- Train versus flight: At the flagging-off ceremony, PM Modi said, “Vande Bharat makes 100 times less noise inside the train than an aeroplane. People who are used to travelling on flights will prefer the Vande Bharat train once they get to experience it.”
- Special class train: This is the third Vande Bharat train in the country. The other two are running on the New Delhi-Varanasi and New Delhi-Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra routes.
- Focus on FAME: PM Modi also announced that 7,000 electric buses have been approved in the country under the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid & Electric Vehicles or FAME scheme. More here
- Election connection: PM Modi was in poll-bound Gujarat launching and inaugurating projects worth more than Rs 29,000 crore during his two-day visit. On his latest tour, he reached out to about 50 of the 182 constituencies. He has visited Gujarat seven times in seven months.
- On Thursday, the first day of his visit, PM Modi inaugurated the Diamond Research and Mercantile (DREAM) City project in Surat — which processes over 80% of the world’s rough diamonds — and also inaugurated the 36th National Games, a first for Gujarat.
- A 2017 formula: PM Modi’s back-to-back Gujarat visits for project launches is a move similar to what he did in 2017 ahead of the assembly polls. One the launches back then was of the sea planes in Gujarat.
- Gujarat is slated for assembly election in December. The BJP has been ruling Gujarat since 1995. Besides the Congress, the AAP has emerged as a challenger this year.
|7. Minority Hazaras targeted…again!|
- A suicide bomber struck an education centre in a Shiite area of the Afghan capital on Friday, killing 19 people and wounding 27, including teenagers who were taking university practice entry exams, a Taliban spokesman said.
- Hazara community: The blast happened in the Dasht-e-Barchi neighbourhood, a predominantly Shiite Muslim area in western Kabul home to the minority Hazara community, the scene of some of Afghanistan’s most deadly attacks.
- Persecution: Afghanistan’s Shiite Hazaras have faced persecution for decades, with the Taliban accused of abuses against the group when they first ruled from 1996 to 2001 and picking up again after they swept to power last year.
- Frequent target: They are also the frequent target of attacks by the Taliban’s enemy the Islamic State group. Both consider them heretics.
- Bloodbath: Last year, before the return of the Taliban, at least 85 people — mainly girl students — were killed and about 300 wounded when three bombs exploded near their school in Dasht-e-Barchi. In May 2020, the group was blamed for a bloody gun attack on a maternity ward of a hospital in the neighbourhood that killed 25 people, including new mothers.
- Education is a flashpoint issue in Afghanistan, with the Taliban blocking many girls from returning to secondary school education, while the Islamic State also stand against the education of women and girls.
|8. This supercarrier cost a bomb|
- The US Navy’s most advanced aircraft carrier embarks on its first deployment next week, after years of delays and problems with its new technology. The warship will train with other NATO countries at a time of increasing Russian aggression in Ukraine.
- What: The USS Gerald R. Ford leaves the world’s largest Navy base in Norfolk, Virginia, on Monday along with destroyers and other warships.
- Why: The carrier strike group will join ships in the Atlantic Ocean from countries that include France, Germany and Sweden for various exercises, including anti-submarine warfare. “Our primary goal is to contribute to a peaceful, stable and conflict-free Atlantic region through the combined naval power of our Allies and partners,” Vice Admiral Daniel Dwyer, the commander of US Navy’s 2nd Fleet was quoted as saying by AP.
- Significance: Next week’s exercises come seven months after Russia invaded Ukraine. Western countries, including the US, have provide weapons to Ukraine, increasing tensions with the Kremlin.
- The $13.3 billion warship — America’s most expensive — is the first of the Navy’s new Ford class of aircraft carriers. They’re designed to carry a wider variety of planes and operate with several hundred fewer sailors.
- Special feature: They use an electromagnetic system for launching planes, which replace steam catapults and are supposed to increase flying missions by a third. More details here
|9. SC doubts its own judgement on publicising bank defaulters’ list|
Observing that “it may adversely affect the individuals’ fundamental right to privacy”, the Supreme Court (SC) expressed doubts
over its 2015 judgement directing the RBI to publish a list of bank defaulters.
Then & now
- In the Reserve Bank of India vs Jayantilal Mistry case, the SC had ruled that the central bank was duty bound to publish the list of defaulters, inspection reports, annual statements, etc related to banks under the Right To Information (RTI) Act.
- On Friday, the apex court noted that the earlier judgement did not take into consideration that the right to information needs to be balanced with the right to privacy, which was declared a fundamental right under Article 21 in a 2017 judgement of the SC.
Righting a wrong?
- Last year, the SC had dismissed a batch of petitions filed by various banks, seeking recall of the Mistry case — noting that the banks were in reality seeking a review of the judgement in the guise of recall applications.
- Observing that “if the Court finds that the earlier judgement does not lay down a correct position of law, it is always permissible for this Court to reconsider the same and if necessary, to refer it to a larger Bench”, the SC held as maintainable the writ petitions filed by banks challenging the RBI’s directions seeking information from the banks relating to inspection reports, risk assessment reports and annual financial inspection reports.
|Answer to NEWS IN CLUES|
Xiaomi. The competent authority under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) has approved an order of seizure of over Rs 5,551 crore worth of deposits, made by the ED, of Chinese mobile phone manufacturer Xiaomi — the highest amount frozen till date in India. Xiaomi has been charged with transferring foreign exchange equivalent to Rs 5,551.27 crore to three entities — one Xiaomi Group company and two US-based unrelated entities — in the guise of royalty. Its founder and CEO Lei Jun has been derided for copying Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’ dressing style
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Written by: Rakesh Rai, Tejeesh Nippun Singh, Jayanta Kalita, Prabhash K Dutta
Research: Rajesh Sharma