Auto makers seek ban on 15-year-old vehicles to cut pollution

Society of Indian Automobile Manufactures (SIAM), the Auto industry lobby of India, urged the government to put a ban on vehicles over 15 years old in the country to reduce pollution.

“Auto industry is doing a lot of work to reduce pollution. We are working to move to BS-VI emission norms. In order to reduce pollution, we request the government to ban vehicles which are 15 years old”, Siam president Vinod K. Dasari said. Speaking at the 57th SIAM Annual Convention, he urged the concerned authorities to help in the formation of a National Automotive Board, which will work as an advisory body to help government form policies.

According to Dasari, due to frequent changes in policies for the auto industry, the sector has been going through one of the most disruptive times. Every developed country has a strong automotive industry, hence India must work to strengthen its own since it accounts for almost 50 per cent of the country’s manufacturing GDP. With the proposed ban, the aim is to increase the “Make In India” program and uplift the sector by ensuring ease of business.

Dasari also appealed to the government to work towards making India a leader in electric vehicles by focusing not just on domestic markets, but also by tapping global ones.

Sources: NDTV, The LiveMint

India and Myanmar sign 11 agreements

As a step to further strengthen their relationship, India and Myanmar signed eleven agreements on September 6, 2017. This was done during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first bilateral visit to Myanmar, where he held wide-ranging talks with the State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.

Maritime Security cooperation was one issue covered, while another agreement was concerned with sharing white shipping information to improve data sharing on non-classified merchant navy or cargo ships. An MoU was signed between the Election Commission of India and the Union Election of Myanmar and another was signed to organise cultural exchange programme for the period 2017-2020.

Cooperation between Myanmar Press Council and Press Council of India, cooperation in Medical Products Regulation, in the upgradation of the women’s police training centre at Yamethin in Myanmar, and an extension of agreement on the establishment of India-Myanmar Centre for Enhancement of IT skill were other arenas covered by separate agreements.

Modi arrived in Myanmar as part of his two-nation trip, during which he travelled to the Chinese city Xiamen for the annual BRICS summit.

The signing of these agreements is a step to enhance the relationship with one of India’s most strategic neighbors, which also shares a 1,640-km-long border with a number of north-eastern states including Nagaland and Manipur.


Sources: India Today, Economic Times

Naveen Jindal and others granted bail in coal scam case

Industrialist and parliamentarian Naveen Jindal and others were granted bail on September 4, 2017, by a special court in a case related to the allocation of the Urtan North coal block in Madhya Pradesh.

Special Judge Bharat Parashar was responsible for granting this relief on a personal bond of Rs one lakh each and surety of like amount. Fellow accused include former Director of Jindal Steel and Power Ltd’s (JSPL) Sushil Maroo, former Deputy MD Anand Goyal and CEO Vikrant Gujral. The matter is now adjourned for further hearing on October 31, 2017.

On 23 May, a fresh charge sheet had been filed against Jindal and five others in relation to the purported irregularities observed in the coal block, following which summons were issued against them. In the charge sheet, the CBI alleged that the JSPL had misrepresented in front of the coal ministry’s screening committee its equipment orders and the land it had claimed to have purchased. It also asserted that the accused had cheated the Ministry of Coal and got a ‘wrongful gain and pecuniary advantage’.

Apart from this, Jindal is also facing trial in a case pertaining to the allocation of Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block in Jharkhand.

Sources: The Hindu, Indian Express

Drugs worth nearly £515 million seized by Royal Navy warships

Upon completion of a five-month operation against drug-trafficking, Britain’s Royal Navy sailors have seized narcotics worth $515 million in the Gulf region and the Indian Ocean, the Ministry of Defence announced on Sunday.

Xinhua news agency reported that since April, British, French, the United States, and Australian warships have been involved in a Combined Task Force in Operation Southern Surge to counter-narcotics trafficking. HMS Monmouth, the Royal Navy warship, was involved in eight drugs operations, successfully seizing 1.75 tonnes of narcotics.

“The multinational coalition is focused on deterring and denying maritime terrorist activity in the region, which includes some of the world’s most vital trade routes such as the Suez Canal and Bab Al Mandeb Strait,” said a spokesperson.

According to Britain’s Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon, the money made from these criminal activities is used to fund terrorism. “As we leave the European Union, we will continue to work alongside our allies to tackle smuggling in the region and maintain the free flow of shipping”, he promised.

From the Combined Maritime Forces, which is a coalition of 31 nations, navies take turns in leading the task force; either from a command ship or from the headquarters in Bahrain. The Franco-British team has been directing operations since April after taking over from the Canadian Navy and has now passed on command to the Pakistan Navy.

Sources –  The TribuneThe Hindu

China’s brings placidity in the next video

In a sudden change of tone from last week’s video, Chinese news agency Xinhua News has attempted a subtle description of the Doklam standoff involving India, Bhutan, and China as part of a series named ‘Talk India’.

In a one-minute-35-second video, a smartly dressed anchor proclaims that the Doklam issue shows a lack of “strategic trust” on the Indian side. An emphasis is then made on the symbiotic aspect of the Indo-Chinese relationship through their rich cultural histories, and how they both need to nurture a more “solid trust” between them. This reference is concluded by a blatant suggestion, “India must immediately and unconditionally withdraw all troops from Chinese territory”.

The concerned video is the second such product by the same news agency after it produced one titled ‘Seven Sins’ last week. In the latter, it was claimed that India broke the law by trespassing into China’s ‘undisputed territory’. It features a man with a turban and a fake beard – an apparent attempt at parodying a Sikh – speaking the way Indians are perceived to speak English.

This narrative runs contradictory to both India’s and Bhutan’s side of the story, according to which, China’s People’s Liberation Army violated the border and crossed into Bhutanese territory on the tri-junction of the three countries in the Sikkim sector.

The Chinese media has vigorously protested the Indian resistance on the border, wherein some 125 articles on the ‘Indian trespass’ have been written in August alone. These videos are merely latest among these protests.

Sources – Hindustan Times, Times of India 

China blocks listing of JeM Chief Masood Azhar as terrorist, again

In yet another blow to India, China has again held back on the proposal to blacklist Pakistani terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed(JeM) Chief Masood Azhar as a designated terrorist. The proposal at the United Nations has been backed by the US, France and UK.

The proposal was first brought to the UN Security Council in January and blocked by China in February. The deadline for the country to take action on this technical hold was August 2, 2017. However, just hours before this deadline lapsed, Beijing once again sought a three-month extension until November 2, 2017. This is now the fourth time that it has blocked such moves by India and the Western nations. If the proposal was accepted and passed, Masood Azhar would by default have been considered a UN-designated terrorist.

India considers Azhar the mastermind of the January 2, 2016 terrorist attack on the Pathankot air force station and holds JeM responsible for a series of attacks, including the December 13, 2001, attack on the Parliament. In March 2016, China was the only member of the 15-nation UN Security Council to block the application moved by India to designate him as a terrorist and place him on the sanctions list. However, sources had claimed that the block would not prevent India from pursuing issues of terrorism or sanctioning of leaders of terror outfits at the world body.

Notably, the Chinese action comes in the midst of a tense military standoff between India and China at Dokalam in Bhutan.


Sources: NDTV, Livemint

I-T raids on Karnataka minister; over 10 crores recovered

Multiple properties linked to DK Shivakumar, Karnataka Energy Minister, were raided by the Income Tax Department on Wednesday. The raids on the Congress minister and his brother D.K. Suresh come after they were made responsible to host around 40 MLAs from Gujarat in the posh ‘Eagleton resort’ outside Bengaluru, ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections in their state in order to cope with defections. “Yes, the I-T department conducted raids on my brother’s house, offices and my home as well,” said Suresh.

Jewelry, investment documents, and about Rs 10 crore in cash, much of it from his Delhi homes, were allegedly recovered. Note-counting machines have been used at a location in Safdarjung Enclave, Delhi, and in Hasan and Mysuru in Karnataka to count the cash.

The I-T department said that the raids were part of an investigation held over a considerable period of time. “The timing of the search was decided well in advance. The events involving certain MLAs of another state being brought to Karnataka were unforeseen and unpredictable events,” claimed the department in a statement on Wednesday.

The raids led the Congress leadership to accuse the Narendra-Modi led government of misusing state machinery to intimidate opposition parties by carrying out “an unprecedented witch-hunt”. MPs from the party disrupted proceedings in Parliament on Wednesday and raised the issue in the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha, forcing four adjournments of the former and staging a walkout in the Lok Sabha.

News Source: Hindustan Times, NDTV

Image Source: PTI