Rafale: Modi govt gave unprecedented waivers- N. Ram

Rafale: Modi govt. gave unprecedented waivers in offset agreements

         By N. Ram

The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave exceptional and unprecedented waivers to M/s Dassault Aviation and M/s MBDA in the offset contracts they signed with the Indian government on September 23, 2016 as part of the €7.87 billion  Rafale deal. These waivers, granted on August 24, 2016 at the highest level of political decision-making, were exemptions given to the two private French companies from having to comply with provisions of the Standard Contract Document of the Defence Procurement Procedure, DPP-2013.

The waivers concerned two key issues — the provisions to be made in the offset contracts for arbitration (Article 9) and access to books of accounts of the industrial suppliers (Article 12).

These had been sent up to the CCS for its “final review and approval” by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. He had evidently felt uncomfortable with sanctioning, at his level, major deviations from the Defence Procurement Procedure. But that was not all.
Rafale

Two other mandated provisions of DPP-2013 that prohibit the “Use of Undue Influence” and “Agents/ Agency Commission”, Articles 22 and 23 respectively of the Standard Contract Document, and provide for penalties against private industrial suppliers in case of transgressions, had been quietly dropped along the way by the DAC. Curiously, while the deletion of these vital integrity provisions from the Supply Protocols, which were themselves only annexures to the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA), went up to the CCS for “final review and approval”, their deletion from the offset contracts, which had been insisted on by the French industrial suppliers, did not have to.

These salient facts, which were not disclosed by the government in its submissions to the Supreme Court of India, as well as other aspects of an open-ended and murky set of offset arrangements which were enabled by a major change in offset policy in August 2015, come to light in the final report of the Indian Negotiating Team (INT), dated July 21, 2016, to which The Hindu has access.

What needs to be noted is that nothing in our current series of investigative articles raises any questions about the quality of the Rafale, or indeed the rival EurofighterTyphoon, combat jet, or about the need to modernise the Indian Air Force. Interestingly, and as a matter of record, this was also the case during The Hindu’s Bofors investigation of the late-1980s, when neither the quality of the Bofors, or the rival Sofma, howitzer nor the need to upgrade the Indian Army’s artillery resources was in question.

0% offsets in first three years

There has been a major political controversy over Dassault Aviation’s choice of Indian Offset Partners (IOPs), notably Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group, and the non-transparent arrangements for the discharge of offset obligations. Offsets are ‘domestic content-based requirements’ imposed on an exporting foreign entity by an importing government or public entity as a quid pro quo for placing a large order with the exporting entity. ‘Offset’ is usually rendered in French as ‘contrepartie’ (compensation), as Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, pointed out in an interview to AFP.

Highlights
  • CCS gives exceptional waivers to Dassault & MBDA in offset contracts, exempts them from aligning Arbitration (Article 9) & ‘Access to books of account (Article 12) provisions with DPP-2013 Standard Contract.
  • Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, uncomfortable with major deviations from DPP-2013, gets DAC to send unresolved issues up for “final review and approval” by CCS.
  • DAC drops DPP-2013 provisions on penalties for “Use of Undue Influence” and “Agents/Agency Commission” from offset contracts.
  • Offset obligations of around ₹30,000 crore are heavily back-loaded, to be discharged over 7 years, with zero discharge in first 3 years and 57% in 7th year.
  • INT’s efforts on offset issues weakened by parallel NSA talks.
  • Controversy breaks out over non-transparent & openended offset arrangements and choice of Reliance Group as Dassault’s only publicly known offset partner.

The total offsets to be delivered in the Rafale deal by Dassault Aviation (and its 21 Tier-1 sub-vendors) together with MBDA (and its 12 Tier-1 sub-vendors) have been fixed at 50% of the contract value. The contracted offset obligations, which are valued around ₹30,000 crore, are to be discharged over a period of seven years beginning in the fourth year, that is, from October 2019.

The discharge of offset obligations is heavily loaded on to the last two years of the seven-year period. According to the offset schedule, the two private French companies (along with their Tier-1 sub-vendors) will discharge 0% of the value of the total offsets for ‘Make in India’ in the first three years and 4% in the fourth year. After that, while Dassault (and its Tier-1 sub-vendors) will discharge 16% and 23% of the value of offsets in years five and six, the corresponding figures for MBDA (and its Tier-1 sub-vendors) will be 9% and 30%. No less than 57% of the value of total offset obligations will be discharged in the seventh year.

The INT’s final report reveals that the initial proposal of Dassault Aviation and MBDA had nearly 88% of offset obligations loaded on to the seventh year. The avenues proposed for offset discharge were also far from satisfactory. A meeting held in the Defence Ministry on January 4, 2016 decided that in view of advice received from the Ministry of Law and Justice, the French side should be informed that the offsets “will have impact on the commercial proposal” and that the French industrial suppliers should be advised to submit revised offset proposals urgently.

“After extended negotiations and on INT’s insistence”, the report goes on to say, “DA and MBDA reduced the offsets in the last two years (6th & 7th) and brought down the offset obligations in the last year from 88% to 57%. Another milestone was achieved as INT was able to persuade DA to increase the percentage of offsets in the avenue ‘direct purchase’ from the initial value of 9% to 72% and reduce offsets in the avenue ‘investment in kind (equipment)’ from the initial value of 30% to 20%. This would facilitate greater direct investment in India by the French vendors.”

Summary of offset proposal of Dassault Aviation

Avenue for offsets/Make in India % of offset/Make in India Total offset (%)
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Year 6 Year 7
Direct purchase of eligible products 0% 0% 0% 1% 10% 17% 44% 72%
FDI in joint ventures (equity investment) 0% 0% 0% 1% 0% 0% 0% 1%
Direct purchase through investment in kind through ToT 0% 0% 0% 0% 1% 2% 4% 7%
Investment in kind in terms of equipment 0% 0% 0% 2% 5% 4% 9% 20%
Provision of equipment and/or ToT,
Technology acquisition by DRDO
(*)
Annual offset obligation 0% 0% 0% 4% 16% 23% 57% 100%

(*)Technology Acquisition (TA) projects with DRDO are foreseen to be incuded in the Offset Contract, following discussions to take place between Dassault and the DRDO after coming into force of the Offset Contract. Depending on the outcome of these discussions, the Offset Schedule will be amended to reflect the TA projects and their associated offset value agreed between Dassault and the DRDO. However, such amendment will not affect the Annual Offset obligation indicated in the table above.

Summary of offset proposal of MBDA

Avenue for offsets/Made in India Yearly fulfilment of offset* Total Offset**
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Year 6 Year 7
Direct purchase or executing export orders (avenue 3.1 (a)] 0% 0% 0% 0% 2% 6% 12% 20%
FDI (avenue 3.1 (b)] 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 2% 0% 2%
Investment in kind through ToT to Indian enterprises [avenue 3.1 (c)] 0% 0% 0% 0% 1% 0% 1% 2%
Investment in kind in terms of provision of Equipment to Indian enterprises (avenue 3.1 (d)] 0% 0% 0% 2% 4% 14% 26% 46%
Provision of equipment and/or ToT to government institutions including DRDO Technology acquisition by DRDO (avenue 3.1 (e) & (f)] 0% 0% 0% 2% 2% 8% 18% 30%
Annual offset / Make in India obligation (%) 0% 0% 0% 4% 9% 30% 57% 100%

*Yearly fulfillment of offset/Make in India obligation (in %) of the total offset/Make in India obligation)
**Total Offset/ Make in India (%)

French reluctance to mention ‘offsets’

The INT report reveals that the French negotiators were initially “not ready to mention the word ‘offsets’ in the IGA” but upon insistence by the Indian side, they “relented and added ‘Make in India’ initiative through Offsets at Article 12 of the IGA”. The proposal originally submitted by Dassault Aviation and MBDA was titled ‘Rafale Make in India initiative in the frame of the procurement of 36 Rafale aircraft’. This “neither mentioned the word ‘Offset’ nor provided the desired avenues/percentages/yearly discharge, etc., as mandated by the DPP-2013 guidelines”. It was only after extended discussions that the two industrial suppliers agreed to provide their offset offer “as per the format specified in DPP-2013”.

Article 12 of the IGA reads: “The French Party will facilitate the implementation of ‘Make in India’ initiative by the Industrial Suppliers notably through offsets as specified through direct contracts between the Indian Party and the Industrial Suppliers for 50% value of the Supply Protocol”.

However, the INT report notes, certain Articles of the offset contracts “were not consistent with the standard contract document provided in DPP-2013. Specifically, the French side was not ready to include the Articles on ‘Arbitration’, ‘Use of Undue Influence’, ‘Agents and Agency Commission’, ‘Access to Book of Accounts’ and ‘Offset Performance Bond’.”

The two waivers

Dassault Aviation and MBDA proposed the inclusion of the same clause on arbitration in the offset contract as in the IGA. Article 16 of the IGA, the dispute resolution provision, stipulates that both parties make their best efforts to settle the dispute through direct negotiations and that if any dispute cannot be settled through direct negotiations within 24 months, it will be settled in accordance with the arbitration clause of the Supply Protocols.

Article 21 of the Supply Protocols stipulates that all disputes be settled by direct discussions and that if any dispute cannot be resolved in this way within 24 months, it will be settled by arbitration in accordance with the prevailing United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Arbitration Rules in Geneva.

The Indian negotiators contended that the IGA formulations could not be applied to the offset contracts, which would be signed directly by the Government of India with the two industrial suppliers. The offset contracts were clearly not part of the IGA. Acting on directions from the DAC, the INT repeatedly pressed the French side to` agree to the alignment of Article 9 of the offset contract with Article 21A of Chapter V of the Standard Contract Document of DPP-2013. But Dassault Aviation and MBDA dug in and refused to do this, citing three reasons: “(i) Simple and efficient wording; (ii) Agreed by both governments; (iii) No confusion or risks of overlap in Arbitration procedure for any dispute spreading from the Supply Protocols to the Offset Contract.”

The INT’s efforts on this issue had been weakened, if not undermined, by the parallel talks conducted by the National Security Adviser, Ajit Doval, in Paris in January 2016. The Indian negotiators found themselves up against a wall. Eventually, in July 2016, two months before the Rafale deal was signed, the DAC decided to send the issue of the lack of alignment of Article 9 — the arbitration provision in the offset contracts with the French industrial suppliers — with the mandated DPP-2013 provisions to “the government”. On August 24, 2016, the Cabinet Committee on Security decided to give a waiver on this issue to the two French companies.

Subject to France’s blocking statute

The INT report reveals that although the French side agreed to have a provision on ‘Access to Book of Accounts’ (Article 12) included in the offset contracts, it “introduced an additional formulation over and above the DPP guidelines”, which read: “However Dassault shall comply with French Law No. 80-538 dated 16 July 1980.” This is France’s controversial blocking statute which criminalises the communication of economic, commercial, industrial, financial, or technical documents or information to foreign individuals or foreign legal entities. France’s anti-corruption agency, the Service Central de Prévention de la Corruption, has recommended changes in Law No. 80-538, and in December 2016 a new anti-corruption law was enacted. But the blocking statute remains in place and can be invoked if needed.

The INT report shows that despite being repeatedly asked to remove the additional formulation, the French side insisted that “they are bound to consider the French law as stated”. In July 2016, the DAC directed that “Article-12 of the Offset Contract on ‘Access to Book of Accounts’ which has been aligned with the Mirage 2000 MLU Contract, may be placed for a decision by the Govt”. This waiver was also approved by the CCS on August 24, 2016.

Offsets are made for controversy

Offsets, as we have seen, are domestic content-based obligations that the buyer imposes on the seller as compensation for placing a large order. Although the practice is often criticised for being trade-distorting, non-transparent, and riddled with corruption and has been generally prohibited by the World Trade Organisation (with an exception made for protection of the essential interests of a country’s national security), offsets are increasingly in vogue in the defence sector.

India’s “Defence Offset Guidelines”, which form Appendix D of DPP-2013, lay down that the Defence Acquisition Council may, after consideration by the Services Capital Acquisition Plan Higher Categorisation Committee (SCAP HC), “prescribe varying offset obligations above 30 percent or waive the requirement of offset obligations in special cases.” In the original process, initiated by the United Progressive Alliance government, to procure 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) as well as in the new Rafale deal for 36 fly-away Rafale jets, the DAC prescribed offset obligations to the extent of 50% of the contract value.

It is important to note that the offset contracts, which were concluded between the Government of India and the two private French companies, were not part of the Indo-French Inter-Governmental Agreement. Although signed on the same day, September 23, 2016, as the IGA, the two offset contracts were completely separate from it. This crucial fact was brought up in the official talks by the Indian Negotiating Team with a singular lack of success, mainly because their efforts had been undercut by the “parallel negotiations” conducted by officials of the Prime Minister’s Office and the National Security Adviser.

The significance of these offset-related issues and the ‘unacceptability’ of the French demands were brought out sharply by M. P. Singh, Adviser (Cost), A. R. Sule, Financial Manager (Air), and Rajeev Verma, Joint Secretary and Acquisitions Manager (Air), the three domain experts on the seven-member INT, in their June 1, 2016 note of dissent: “The offsets are not part of the G to G agreements and therefore the Offset Contract must be in line with the one prescribed in the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP). In the MMRCA process also, the French Industrial Suppliers would have been required to follow the Offset Guidelines and the Standard Clauses of Contract prescribed in DPP. The proposed draft Offset Contract is still not aligned with the one prescribed in the DPP. The arbitration clause proposed by the French Industrial Suppliers in the draft Offset Contract is not as per the DPP and cannot be agreed to. The French Industrial Suppliers have insisted upon reducing the maximum ceiling for penalty from 20% as prescribed in the DPP to 8.5% of the Offset value, which is not acceptable. The French Industrial Suppliers are not agreeing to the requirement of confirmation of Performance Bank Guarantee for Offset Contract from Indian Public Sector Banks located in India. The French Industrial Suppliers proposed to include a clause on ‘Access to the Book of Accounts’ subject to French Law, which is not acceptable.”

As the official negotiations got under way, it became clear that the August 5, 2015 amendment to the DPP-2013 “Offset Policy Guidelines” allowed Dassault Aviation and MBDA a great deal of leeway. They were no longer required to submit their offset plans, including the identities of their IOPs, the details of their work share and specific products, and supporting documents indicating IOP eligibility at the bid stage, as laid down earlier.

They were not even required to provide this information at the time of signing the IGA and the offset contracts. They are now required to provide the information to the Indian government only “at the time of seeking offset credits or one year prior to discharge of offset obligations through that IOP”.

Questions that won’t go away

The controversy over Dassault’s choice of offset partners will not go away any time soon. As has been widely reported, Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group, with its subsidiaries, entered the defence manufacturing sector in January 2015. Reliance Defence Limited was incorporated on March 28, 2015, that is, two weeks before the new Rafale deal was announced in Paris; Reliance Aerostructure Limited (in which Reliance Defence Limited was a 99.988% shareholder as of March 31, 2018), was incorporated on April 24, 2015; and in October 2016 Dassault Aviation formed a joint venture with Reliance Aerostructure Limited’s subsidiary, Reliance Aerospace. The joint venture, which was incorporated in February 2017, has been named Dassault Reliance Aerospace Limited (DRAL).

The allegations revolve round the charge of crony capitalism – the charge led by Congress president Rahul Gandhi that as a quid pro quo for the new Rafale deal the NDA government had secretly nominated the younger Ambani scion as Dassault’s leading offset partner. It may be recalled that the controversy took off in September 2018, after the former French President, François Hollande, told Mediapart, the independent French online investigative journal: “We didn’t have any say in this matter. It is the Indian government which had proposed this service group, and Dassault who negotiated with Ambani. We didn’t have the choice, we took the interlocutor who was given to us.”

The allegations gained traction when Mediapart reported that it had obtained an internal Dassault document that revealed that “a senior executive of the French group told staff representatives that the joint venture with Reliance was agreed as a ‘compensation’ in the Rafale deal and that it was both ‘imperative and obligatory’ for Rafalein securing the fighter contract”.

The allegations have been denied by Dassault Aviation, by Anil Ambani, and by the NDA government, which has maintained that it has had nothing to do with the aircraft manufacturer’s choice of IOPs and has not even received official word on who they are. However, the Dassault chief, Eric Trappier, has gone on record to say that DRAL, the joint venture that was building a manufacturing facility in Mihan, Nagpur, would make components of the Legacy Falcon 2000 series of civil jets and deliver “about 10% of these offset obligations”.

What part Reliance Defence Limited, other Indian companies, or the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), will play in the discharge of the offset obligations in the Rafale deal will be known only in the months and years to come.

Our present state of knowledge is that a group that entered the defence manufacturing sector some weeks before a new Rafale deal was announced in Paris is the only publicly known offset partner.

-Source:- The Hindu/ APRIL 09, 2019/

Narendra Modi announces success of Mission Shakti

Narendra Modi announces success of Mission Shakti, India’s anti-satellite missile capability

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday announced that India had demonstrated anti-satellite missile capability by shooting down a live satellite, describing it as a rare achievement that puts the country in an exclusive club of space super powers. “In the journey of every nation there are moments that bring utmost pride and have a historic impact on generations to come. One such moment is today,” he said in an unprecedented broadcast to the nation on television, radio and social media.

“India has successfully tested the Anti-Satellite (A-SAT) Missile. Congratulations to everyone on the success of #MissionShakti,” the prime minister tweeted later.

He said the action was not directed against any country and the satellite was a pre-determined target orbiting at an altitude of 300 km. The prime minister did not say who owned the satellite but added that India does not breach any international laws or treaties.

Mission Shakti, which was led by the Defence Research and Development Organisation, was aimed at strengthening India’s overall security, he said in his address that comes a fortnight before the start of the general election.’ “#MissionShakti was a highly complex one, conducted at extremely high speed with remarkable precision. It shows the remarkable dexterity of India’s outstanding scientists and the success of our space programme,” Mr. Modi said. “Shooting down a low earth orbit satellite is a rare achievement for the country,” he said.

India is only the fourth country to acquire such a specialised and modern capability after the US, Russia and China. The “entire effort is indigenous. India’s stands tall as a space power. It will make India stronger, even more secure and will further peace and harmony”, Mr. Modi said.

The prime minister had advertised his address to the nation on Twitter, calling it an important message. “Do watch the address on television, radio or social media,” he said, setting off speculation across the country on what the topic was likely to be. Earlier in the day, the Cabinet Committee on Security had met at the prime minister’s residence.

-PTI, MARCH 27, 2019

Congress will launch ‘surgical strike’ on poverty: Rahul Gandhi

Congress will launch ‘surgical strike’ on poverty: Rahul Gandhi

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday promised a “surgical strike” on poverty and said his party had been working on how to eradicate it for the last six months.

Addressing a rally in Suratgarh a day after declaring his party would roll out a minimum income guarantee scheme for the poorest 20 per cent households if voted to power, Gandhi said only the rich could dream under the Narendra Modi rule. “We will eradicate poverty in the country. This is a ‘dhamaka’. No country has done this in history. There should not be a single poor person in the country,” Gandhi said.

He said his party would work to reduce unemployment if it comes to power. “If Modi gives money to the rich, the Congress will give money to the poor,” Gandhi said.

Cong will launch 'surgical strike' on poverty: Rahul Gandhi

Alleging that Modi had helped those who had black money, the Congress president said those lifted from poverty by the UPA government had again been made poor in the last five years.

According to him, 14 crore people were lifted from poverty by the UPA government. “It is a shame that there are still 25 crore poor people in the country,” Gandhi said.

“You will get the right price for your labour and product,” he told the gathering. The UPA government had launched schemes over 10 years but Modi ended them all, the Congress chief said, adding that the prime minister had failed to understand the MGNREGA job scheme. Taking a jibe at Modi, he said the prime minister was indeed a “chowkidaar” but of industrialist Anil Ambani.

We will eradicate poverty in the country. This is a ‘dhamaka’. No country has done this in history. There should not be a single poor person in the country,” Gandhi said. He said his party would work to reduce unemployment if it comes to power. “If Modi gives money to the rich, the Congress will give money to the poor,” Gandhi said. Alleging that Modi had helped those who had black money, the Congress president said those lifted from poverty by the UPA government had again been made poor in the last five years. According to him, 14 crore people were lifted from poverty by the UPA government. “It is a shame that there are still 25 crore poor people in the country,” Gandhi said.

–  PTI |26 March 2019 | Jaipur

Manohar Parrikar, the original ‘aam aadmi’

Manohar Parrikar, the original ‘aam aadmi’

In a video clip from an alumni day function at IIT Bombay in 2014, the four-time Goa Chief Minister and former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar — who passed away on Sunday evening after a prolonged illness — is described as the “original Aam Aadmi”. Dressed in his trademark half-sleeved shirt and floaters, Mr. Parrikar had an image of an accessible yet go-getter politician.

Manohar Parrikar (1955-2019)

Mr. Parrikar’s political trajectory runs parallel to the rise of the BJP in Goa. He was born in 1955 in Mapusa in then Portugese-ruled Goa. It was only after Goa’s liberation in 1962 where the right-wing politicians played a pivotal role that the RSS took root in the State.

Manohar Parrikar

In the 1970s, a teenage Parrikar joined the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh). After completing a degree in metallurgical engineering from IIT Bombay, he resumed working with the organisation. At just 26, he was Sanghchalak of Mapusa. It was the RSS that pushed Mr. Parrikar to the BJP to counter the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party.

Mr. Parrikar’s sangfroid self often hid the astute politician he was. In 1994, for the first time, the BJP sent four legislators to the Goa Assembly and he was one of them along with the current Union Minister Shripad Naik. The parallel run of Mr Parrikar and Mr Naik ended here. Mr. Parrikar soon outstripped Mr. Naik, who was the BJP State president from 1990 to 1999, to become the first BJP Chief Minister of Goa in 2000. Mr. Naik left State politics to become the first BJP MP from the State in 1999.

“Together with Mr. Parrikar, we built the RSS and the BJP from ground up. We built its cadre from booth level and would knock on each and every door propagating the BJP’s ideology,” Mr. Naik told.

Once he took centre stage in the State, Mr. Parrikar never conceded the position to anyone else in the party. Even as the Defence Minister in 2014, he would often spend time in Goa, visiting it every weekend.

Inclusive Goa model

One of his political achievements was to develop the ‘Goa model’ of the BJP, positioning the right-wing party away from Hindutva to a larger and more inclusive Goan identity. He even managed make the Catholic Church a BJP ally in the State.

Mr. Naik describes Mr. Parrikar as a hardworking and “aggressive” Chief Minister — a description that the Congress leaders who have been usually receiving end of his aggressive politics would agree with.

“He was known for his manipulative politics. He kept files on every politician in the State including those in his own party and the opposition. His own Health Minister Vishwajit Rane was heard in audio tapes claiming that Mr. Parrikar has the critical Rafale files carrying critical proof against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This was nothing new to him,” Goa Pradesh Congress Committee president Girish Chodankar said.

Earlier this year, in January, Congress president Rahul Gandhi met Mr. Parrikar in Goa a day after tweeting about the “audio files” that he claimed gave the Chief Minister powers over Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

His close associate Sushant Nadkarni, who has been advocate general of Goa for over a decade and a personal friend, describes Mr. Parrikar as a workaholic, a hard taskmaster and a person who put the State on the development map of the country. And whatever differences he might have had with BJP leaders were only because he was “straight forward”.

“He sacrificed the post of Defence Minister to return as CM of Goa. Without him, the BJP floundered — from 21 seats they came down to 12 seats. It was on the insistence of the alliance partners that he came back to take the post,” Mr. Nadkarni says.

Mr. Parrikar also has the distinction of helming the 2016 cross border surgical strike. Lt. General D.S. Hooda, who was the chief of the Army’s Northern Command at the time of the strike, describes Mr. Parrikar as sharp and decisive. “I found him very sharp and quick in grasping the problems. He was equally empathetic towards a soldier’s requirements. Often he would request us to let him speak directly to the soldiers, have a cup of tea with them to discuss their needs and requirements,” Mr. Hooda said. The other army officers, however, claim that he rarely got support from the bureaucracy as many of his promises fell through.

Mr. Parrikar also played a critical behind-the-scenes role in the 2013 Goa National Executive meeting of the BJP, which saw the announcement of then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 elections.

Veteran leader L. K. Advani stayed away from the meeting over the expected announcement. It ended with the announcement of Mr. Modi not just as the PM candidate but as the party’s main election campaigner. Mr. Modi has more than once acknowledged Goa’s role in his success and praised Mr. Parrikar while in Goa.

-MARCH 17, 2019 , Microstat

Tom Vadakkan, key Sonia Gandhi aide, joins BJP

Tom Vadakkan, key Sonia Gandhi aide, joins BJP

In a major surprise, Congress leader Tom Vadakkan, who was a close aide of Sonia Gandhi, on Thursday joined the BJP, and attacked his former party’s stand on the Pulwama terror attack and India’s retaliatory air strike.

Immediately after joining the BJP, Mr. Vadakkan said he was “hurt” at the situation within the Congress where it was not clear that who was the power centre.

Former Congress leader Tom Vadakkan with Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad after joining the BJP, in New Delhi on March 14, 2019.

Attacks his former party’s stand on the Pulwama terror attack and India’s retaliatory air strike

He said the Congress’s reaction to attacks carried out by Pakistan-based terrorists was sad. He asserted that he believed in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s development narrative.

-PTI, NEW DELHI , MARCH 14, 2019

Lok Sabha Election to be held from April 11 to May 19

17th General Election to be held in 7 phases from April 11 to May 19; counting on May 23

PM Modi wishes the best to Election Commission and seeks blessings of people

Lok Sabha elections will begin on April 11 and will be held over seven phases followed by counting of votes on May 23, the Election Commission has announced on 10 March, 2019.

Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said the model code of conduct would come into immediate effect from March 10 and 10 lakh polling stations would be set up this time as against about 9 lakh in 2014.

Chief Election Commissioner of India Sunil Arora addressing media to announce the dates for the General Elections 2019.Announcing the schedule for 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the Election Commission said the ‘voter verifiable paper audit trail’ (VVPAT) will be used in all polling stations this time. The first phase will be held on April 11, second on April 18, third on April 23 and fourth on April 29, fifth on May 6, sixth on May 12 and seventh phase on May 19. Counting of votes for all seven phases would be done on May 23, the EC said. Anantnag Lok Sabha seat in J&K would vote in three phases due to security reasons, the ECI said.

Among other things, the model code of conduct bars the government from announcing any policy move that may impact voters’ decision. The ECI said all political advertisements on social media will need pre-certification.

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given best wishes to the Election Commission, all those officials and security personnel who will be on the field, across the length and breadth of India assuring smooth elections. India is very proud of the ECI for assiduously organizing elections for several years, he said.

PM Shri Modi said, “The festival of democracy, Elections are here. I urge my fellow Indians to enrich the 2019 Lok Sabha elections with their active participation. I hope this election witnesses a historic turnout. I particularly call upon first time voters to vote in record numbers.

Photo: Twitter/@PIB_India

The PM further said, “Guided by ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’, NDA seeks your blessings again. We spent the last five years fulfilling basic necessities that were left unfulfilled for 70 long years. Now, time has come to build on that and create a strong, prosperous & secure India. #PhirEkBaarModiSarkar”.

Assembly polls

Assembly polls in Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Odisha will be held simultaneously with the respective Lok Sabha constituencies.

President’s rule to continue in J&K

On J&K, the ECI said security situation is being monitored. Regarding holding elections ECI has sought info from the State administration. EC has assessed the ground situation and preparedness for the polls, also considering recent developments, sought comments from MHA and also visited the State, had meeting with all political parties and administration officials, based on the findings and availability of forces, EC has decided to announce only the parliamentary elections in the State, decision on holding Assembly elections to be taken soon, he says. So, Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir not to be held along with Lok Sabha polls.

-MARCH 10, 2019

Opposition’s statements brought smile on enemy’s faces

Opposition’s statements has brought a smile on our enemy’s faces: PM

Hitting out at Opposition parties for questioning the recent air strike in Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said, “Instead of boosting the morale of our armed forces, some people are asking for proof of the strike and the Opposition’s statements brought smile on the faces of our enemies.”

He was addressing the NDA’s sankalp rally at the Gandhi Maidan in Patna. “We are proud of our armed forces, but some people in our country are making statements which have brought smiles on our enemy’s faces,” he said. “But, your chowkidar is standing rock solid before them for the security of the country and protecting the interests of the poor people,” he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar at the NDA’s sankalp rally in Patna.

He said, “The new India that is surging ahead will not sit silent over the martyrdom of its brave soldiers. It will take revenge point by point.”

Leaders of the BJP, JD(U) and Lok Janshakti Party were present on the dias along with the Prime Minister. Mr. Modi said, “For the first time in 50 years, India was recently invited to the Islamic countries conference,” and “its voice was heard with respect.

“The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia too had come here and he increased the quota of Haj pilgrims to 2 lakh for Indian Muslims on my request. He also declared the release of 850 Indian prisoners arrested in his country on flimsy charges,” he said.

“This reflects another example of our respect in world community, but it also reflects what Congress was doing when it ruled the country,” he added further.

While slamming the Opposition parties for coming together to contest him, Mr. Modi said, “My priority is to appeal people to come to end terrorism but they say come to finish Modi; I say come to end poverty, corruption, black money, malnutrition, unemployment and fight for cleanliness but they [Opposition] are cobbling together to fight Modi,” he said.

“But the people of the country have decided to punish them once again,” he added. “Every year, ₹75,000 crore will be given directly to the bank accounts of farmers of the country,” Mr. Modi said, addressing the issue of farmers distress.

He further listed several achievements of his government and programmes initiated for development in Bihar. He also thanked Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar for “giving new direction to Bihar and taking it out from those dark days”. “Today Bihar has got a better atmosphere for business activity,” he said.

Mr. Kumar thanked Mr. Modi for helping Bihar with several schemes and welfare measures. Mr. Kumar and Mr. Modi are sharing the dias after nine years. In 2010, they addressed an NDA rally together in Ludhiana, Punjab.

The State NDA leaders claimed it as a “historic rally” in the political history of Bihar as over five lakh people were in attendance.

PATNA, MARCH 03, 2019 

At least 42 CRPF jawans killed in IED blast in Pulwama

At least 42 CRPF jawans killed in IED blast in Kashmir’s Pulwama

At least 42 CRPF jawans were killed and many injured in an IED (improvised explosive device) blast in the Lethpora area of south Kashmir’s Pulwama on Thursday afternoon. This is the highest number of casualties in an attack in the last three decades in Kashmir.

Preliminary reports suggested that the blast occurred at 3 p.m. when the CRPF convoy, carrying dozens of jawans, was moving on the highway. CRPF Inspector General said a vehicle laden with explosives hit the convoy.

Jaish-e-Muhammad claims responsibility for the explosion, saying it was a suicide blast; two CRPF vehicles damaged in the blast.

Terror outfit Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) has claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was a suicide blast. A JeM spokesman said its cadre Adil Ahmad Dar alias Waqas carried out the bombing. It was not immediately clear if Dar was in the vehicle when it exploded. “All injured have been shifted to a hospital,” said the police.

The highway was sealed, as deployments were rushed to the spot. The police said they were verifying if the IED was planted on a vehicle and was detonated when the CRPF vehicles neared it.

Sacrifices of our security personnel will not go in vain:PM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed the attack despicable and asserted that the sacrifices of security personnel would not go in vain. He also spoke with Home Minister Rajnath Singh and other top officials in the wake of the attack. “Attack on CRPF personnel in Pulwama is despicable. I strongly condemn this dastardly attack. The sacrifices of our brave security personnel shall not go in vain,” he tweeted.

He said the entire nation stood shoulder to shoulder with the families of those killed. He also wished speedy recovery of those injured. “Spoke to Home Minister Rajnath Singh and other top officials regarding the situation in the wake of the attack in Pulwama,” he said.

 The Congress conveyed its condolences to the family of the slain jawans through its official Twitter handle. “We are deeply saddened and angered by the terrorist attack that took the lives of our CRPF jawans in Pulwama. We strongly condemn this violence and stand with the martyrs. Our thoughts & prayers are with their friends and families in this time of grief,” it said.

BJP president Amit Shah termed the terror attack an “act of cowardice” and asserted that security forces would defeat those involved in terrorist activities. “Pained beyond words by the terror attack on our soldiers in Pulwama (J&K). It is an act of cowardice. My deepest condolences are with the families of our soldiers who have lost their lives. Our forces will remain firm against such acts of terror and defeat them,” he said in a tweet.

-FEBRUARY 14, 2019 / Pulwama J&K/PTI & Microstat

INTERIM BUDGET 2019-2020 SUMMARY

BUDGET SUMMARY WITH MAJOR HIGHLIGHTS OF INTERIM BUDGET 2019-2020

Interim Budget 2019-20 was presented in Parliament by the Union Minister for Finance, Corporate Affairs, Railways and Coal, Shri Piyush Goyal on 01 February, 2019. Besides having a major Scheme for the farmers, it provides tax concession and sets the Developmental Agenda for the years to come.

A New Deal for 12 Crore Small and Marginal farmers with direct income support, a path breaking Pension initiative for 10 Crore unorganized sector workers, exempting income up to Rs 5 lakhs from Income Tax, reforms in stamp duty, highest ever budgetary allocation of Rs 3 lakh crore for Defence, record allocation of funds at Rs 58,166 crore for North Eastern Areas, a new AIIMS for Haryana, single window clearance for Indian film makers at par with foreigners and higher budgetary allocations for Education, Health, Infrastructure and for the welfare of weaker sections including Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, a Separate Department of Fisheries for welfare of 1.5 crore fisherman are some of the major highlights of the Interim Budget 2019-20.

Major Schemes

New Scheme- namely “Pradhan Mantri KIsan SAmman Nidhi (PM-KISAN)” to extend direct income support at the rate of Rs. 6,000 per year to farmer families, having cultivable land upto 2 hectares is announced.

While presenting the Interim Budget 2019-20, the Union Minister for Finance, Corporate Affairs, Railways & Coal, Shri Piyush Goyal said that “our Government is launching a historic programme PM-KISAN with an outlay of Rs.75,000 crore for the FY 2019-20 and Rs.20,000 crore in the Revised Estimates of FY 2018-19”.

Under this Government of India funded Scheme, Rs.2,000 each will be transferred to the bank accounts of around 12 crore Small and Marginal farmer families, in three equal installments. This programme would be made effective from 1st December 2018 and the first installment for the period upto 31st March 2019 would be paid during this year itself, Shri Piyush Goyal said.

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To provide sustained and focused attention towards development of Fisheries, the  Government has decided to create a separate Department of Fisheries. Finance Minister said that through the measure, the Government wants to promote further growth over 7% to promote livelihood of about 1.45 crore people dependent on the sector.

The Finance Minister announced 2% interest subvention to the farmers pursuing the activities of animal husbandry and fisheries, who avail loan through Kisan Credit Card. Further, in case of timely repayment of loan, they will also get an additional 3% interest subvention.Quote_7.jpg

Allocation of Rs.750 crore for Rashtriya Gokul Mission has been announced for the current year itself. Setting up of “Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog” to upscale sustainable genetic upgradation of cow resources and to enhance production and productivity of cows has also been announced. The Aayog will also look after effective implementation of laws and welfare schemes for cow.

Quote_5.jpgTo provide pensionary benefits to at least 10 crore labourers and workers in the unorganised sector a new Scheme called ‘Pradhan Mantri Shram-Yogi Maandhan’ is announced.  The Finance Minister said that within next five years it would be one of the largest pension schemes of the world. A sum of Rs.500 crore has been allocated for the Scheme. Additional funds will be provided as needed, Shri Goyal added. The scheme will also be implemented from the current year, he said.

Tax Benefits

Individual taxpayers having taxable annual income up to Rs.5 lakhs will not be required to pay any income tax. The Finance Minister said that persons having gross income up to Rs. 6.50 lakhs are not required to pay any income tax if they make investments in provident funds, specified savings and insurance etc. Additional deductions such as interest on home loan up to Rs. 2 lakh, interest on education loans, National Pension Scheme contributions, medical insurance and medical expenditure on senior citizens etc, are also provided for in the Interim Budget 2019-20. Thus tax benefit of Rs. 18,500 crore is proposed to be provided to an estimated 3 crore middle class and small taxpayers comprising self employed, small business, small traders, salary earners, pensioners and senior citizens.

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For salaried persons, Standard Deduction is being raised from the current Rs.40,000 to Rs.50,000. This will provide additional tax benefit of Rs. 4,700 crore to more than 3 crore salary earners and pensioners.

Exemption on levy of income tax on notional rent on a second self-occupied house is also now proposed. Currently, income tax on notional rent is payable if one has more than one self-occupied house.

TDS threshold on interest earned on bank/post office deposits is being raised from Rs. 10,000 to Rs.40,000.

TDS threshold for deduction of tax on rent is proposed to be increased from Rs. 1,80,000 to Rs.2,40,000 for providing relief to small taxpayers.

The Finance Minister says that the Government wants the GST burden on home buyers to be reduced and accordingly the GST Council was moved to appoint a Group of Ministers to examine and make recommendations in this regard at the earliest. Shri Goyal said that soon, businesses comprising over 90% of GST payers will be allowed to file quarterly return.

Inflation

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The Finance Minister said that the Government has been successful in bringing down average inflation to 4.6% over last five years, which is lower than the inflation during the tenure of any other Government. In fact Inflation in December 2018 was down to 2.19% only.

Shri Goyal said if we had not controlled inflation, our families would have been spending around 35-40% more today on basic necessities such as food, travel, consumer durables, housing etc.

The average rate of inflation during previous five years 2009-2014 was a backbreaking 10.1%, he pointed out.

Fiscal Deficit

The fiscal deficit has been brought down to 3.4% in 2018-19 RE from the high of almost 6% seven years ago, the Finance Minister mentioned.  He said, the Current Account Deficit (CAD), against a high of 5.6% six years ago, is likely to be only 2.5% of GDP this year. “We contained the fiscal deficit notwithstanding the Finance Commission’s recommendations increasing the share of the States from 32% to 42% in central taxes, which we accepted in the true spirit of cooperative federalism, thereby transferring significantly higher amounts to the States”, Shri Goyal said.

Growth and FDI

The Finance Minister Shri Piyush Goyal stated that a stage for high growth in decades to come, has now been set, after a wave of next generation path breaking structural reforms over the last five years, including introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST) and other taxation reforms.

The country witnessed its best phase of macro-economic stability during the last five years. “We are the fastest growing major economy in the world with an annual average GDP growth during last five years higher than the growth achieved by any Government since economic reforms began in 1991. From being the 11th largest economy in the world in 2013-14, we are today the 6th largest in the world”, the Finance Minister asserted in his Opening Remarks  of his Budget speech.

Shri Goyal said that due to such a stable and predictable regulatory regime, growing economy and strong fundamentals, India could attract massive amount of as much as $239 billion of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) during the last 5 years, when most of the FDI was allowed to come in through the automatic route.

Enhanced allocations for major Schemes

Announcing an allocation of Rs.60,000 crores for MGNREGA for Budget Estimates 2019-20,  the Finance Minister said that additional allocations will be made, if required.

Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) is being allocated Rs.19,000 crore in BE 2019-20 as against Rs.15,500 crore in RE 2018-19. During the period 2014-18, a total number of 1.53 crore houses have been built under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, he announced.

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By March, 2019, all households will be provided with electricity connection.  Till now, 143 crore LED bulbs have been provided in a mission mode which has resulted in saving of Rs.50,000 crore for the poor and middle class.

He said through the world’s largest healthcare programme, Ayushman Bharat, to provide medical treatment to nearly 50 crore people in the country,  around 10 lakh patients have already benefited through free treatment for medical treatment which would have otherwise cost them Rs. 3,000 crore. Lakhs of poor and middle class people are also benefiting from reduction in the prices of essential medicines, cardiac stents and knee implants, and availability of medicines at affordable prices through Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Kendras, the Finance Minister added.

Shri Goyal also said that 14 of the 21 AIIMS operating or being established in the country presently have been announced since 2014. He also announced setting up of a new – the 22nd AIIMS in Haryana.

Allocation for Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) is being increased from Rs.23,357 crore in RE 2018-19 to Rs.27,584 crore in BE 2019-20.

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A substantial increase is proposed in the allocation for welfare of the Scheduled Castes  and Scheduled Tribes. The allocation of  Rs.56,619 crore  made in BE of 2018-19 for Scheduled Caste, further increased to Rs.62,474 crore in RE is proposed to be enhanced to Rs.76,801 crore in BE for 2019-20, an increase of 35.6% over BE of 2018-19. For the Scheduled Tribes also, proposed allocation in 2019-20 BE is Rs.50,086 crore as against Rs.39,135 crore in BE 2018-19, an increase of 28%.

The Finance Minister said that a Welfare Development Board to frame special strategies for the benefit of the  hard-to-reach De-notified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic communities will be set up under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. He said that a Committee under NITI Aayog will also be set up to complete the task of identifying De-notified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic communities not yet formally classified.

Shri Goyal said under the Ujjwala Yojana aiming delivery  of 8 crore free LPG connections, more than 6 crore connections have already been given and the remaining will get free gas connections by next year.

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The Finance Minister announced that a National Artificial Intelligence Portal will also be developed soon as a part of the National Programme on ‘Artificial Intelligence’.

The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion will now be renamed as the Department for Promotion of Industries and Internal Trade.

The Finance Minister stated that the Government e-Marketplace (GeM), created by the present Government two years ago, resulted in average savings of 25-28% and the platform will now be extended to all CPSEs. Transactions of over Rs. 17,500 crore have taken place so far. The Finance Minister announced that for the first time, the country’s Defence Budget will be of over Rs.3 lakh crore.  The Finance Minister, Shri Piyush Goyal pointed-out that domestic air traffic passengers have doubled during the last five years, leading to large number of jobs also being created. The number of operational airports has crossed 100 with the commissioning of the Pakyong airport in Sikkim.  Arunachal Pradesh came on the air map recently and Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram have come on India’s rail map for the first time.

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Capital support from the budget for Indian Railways is proposed at Rs.64,587 crore in 2019-20 (BE). The Railways’ overall capital expenditure programme is of Rs. 1,58,658 crore. The Finance Minister, who is also holding the portfolio of Railway Ministry, announced that the Operating Ratio is expected to improve from 98.4% in 2017-18 to 96.2% in 2018-19 (RE) and further to 95% in 2019-20 (BE).

India’s installed solar generation capacity has grown over ten times in last five years. Stating this, Shri Goyal said that “our commitment to promote renewable energy is reflected in setting up the International Solar Alliance, the first treaty based international inter-governmental organisation headquartered in India. This sector is now creating lakhs of new age jobs, he added.

The Finance Minister announced that in Entertainment industry, which is a major employment generator, regulatory provisions will now rely more on self-declarations. To promote entertainment industry, the Single window clearance for ease of shooting films, now available only to foreigners, will also be made available to Indian filmmakers. “We will also introduce anti-camcording provisions in the Cinematograph Act to control the menace of piracy”, he said.

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Saying that “We are poised to become a Five Trillion Dollar Economy in the next five years and aspire to become a Ten Trillion Dollar Economy in the next 8 years thereafter”, Shri Piyush Goyal said that there has been a Growth of 18% in Direct Tax Collections in 2017-18 and increase in tax base by as many as 1.06 crore people filing income tax returns for the first time in FY 2017-18, mainly on account of demonetization.

Shri Goyal said that he is proposing, through the Finance Bill, necessary amendments to levy Stamp duties on one instrument relating to one transaction and get collected at one place through the Stock Exchanges.

The duty so collected will be shared with the State Governments seamlessly on the basis of domicile of buying client, he said.

In all the total expenditure is to incrRailway.jpgease from Rs.24,57,235 crore in 2018-19 RE to Rs.27,84,200 crore in 2019-20 BE.

A rise of Rs.3,26,965 crore or approximately 13.30%. This reflects a high increase considering low inflation. The fiscal deficit of year 2019-20 is estimated to be 3.4% of GDP.

 

The Finance Minister pointed out that after completion of the fiscal deficit consolidation programme, the Government would now focus on Debt consolidation.

He said “We have maintained the glide path towards our target of 3% of fiscal deficit to be achieved by 2020-21. India’s Debt to GDP ratio was 46.5% in year 2017-18.

The FRBM Act prescribes that the Debt to GDP ratio of the Government of India should be brought down to 40% by 2024-25.

“Along with completion of the fiscal deficit consolidation programme, we will now focus on Debt consolidation”, he added.

Highlights of the Interim Budget 2019-20

The key highlights of the Interim Budget 2019-20 presented by the Union Minister for Finance, Corporate Affairs, Railways & Coal, Shri Piyush Goyal in Parliament today are as follows:

New Announcements

Farmers

·         12 crore small and marginal farmers to be provided with assured yearly income of Rs. 6000 per annum under PM-KISAN

o   Outlay of Rs. 75,000 crore for FY 2019-20 with additional Rs. 20,000 crore in RE 2018-19

·         Outlay for Rashtriya Gokul mission increased to Rs 750 crore

·         Rashtriya Kamdhenu Ayog  to be setup for sustainable genetic up-gradation of the Cow resources

·         New separate Department of Fisheries for welfare of 1.5 crore fishermen

·         2% interest subvention to Farmers for Animal husbandry and Fisheries activities; additional 3% in case of timely repayment.

·         Interest subvention of 2% during disaster will now be provided for the entire period of reschedulement of loan

 Labour

·  Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maandhan scheme to ensure fixed monthly pension to 10 crore unorganized sector workers

o   Rs 3000 per month after 60 years of age with an affordable contribution of only Rs 100/55 per month

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 Health

·         22nd AIIMS to be setup in Haryana

 MGNREGA

·         Rs. 60, 000 crore allocation for MGNREGA in BE 2019-20

 Direct Tax proposals

·         Income upto Rs. 5 lakh exempted from Income Tax

·         More than Rs. 23,000 crore tax relief to 3 crore middle class taxpayers

·         Standard Deduction to be raised to Rs. 50,000 from Rs. 40,000

·         TDS threshold to be raised from Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 40,000 on interest earned on bank/post office deposits

·         Existing rates of income tax to continue

·         Tax exempted on notional rent on a second self-occupied house

·         Housing and real estate sector to get boost-

o   TDS threshold for deduction of tax on rent to be increased from Rs. 1,80,000 to Rs. 2,40,000

o   Benefit of rollover of capital gains increased from investment in one residential house to two residential houses for capital gains up to Rs. 2 crore.

o   Tax benefits for affordable housing extended till 31st March, 2020 under Section 80-IBA of Income Tax Act

o   Tax exemption period on notional rent, on unsold inventories, extended from one year to two years

 Fiscal Programme

·         Fiscal deficit pegged at 3.4% of GDP for 2019-20

·         Target of 3% of fiscal deficit to be achieved by 2020-21.

·         Fiscal deficit brought down to 3.4% in 2018-19 RE from almost 6% seven years ago

·         Total expenditure increased by over 13% to Rs.27,84,200 crore in 2019-20 BE

·         Capital Expenditure for 2019-20 BE estimated at Rs. 3,36,292 crore

·         Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) allocation increased to Rs. 3,27,679 crore in BE 2019-20

·         National Education Mission allocation increased by about 20% to Rs. 38,572 crore in BE 2019-20

·         Allocation for Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) increased by over 18% to Rs. 27,584 crore in BE 2019-20

·         Substantial increase in allocation for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes –

o   Allocation for SCs increased by 35.6% – from Rs. 56,619 crore in BE 2018-19 to Rs. 76,801 crore in BE for 2019-20

o   Allocation for the STs increased by 28% – from 39,135 crore in BE 2018-19 to Rs. 50,086 crore in 2019-20 BE

·         Government confident of achieving the disinvestment target of 80,000 crore

·         Focus now on debt consolidation along with fiscal deficit consolidation programme

Poor and Backward Classes

·         “First right on the resources of country is that of the poor”: FM

·         25% additional seats in educational institutions to meet the 10% reservation for the poor

·         Targeted expenditure to bridge urban-rural divide & to improve quality of life in villages

·         All willing households to be provided electricity connections by March 2019

North East

·         Allocation to be increased by 21% to Rs. 58,166 crore in 2019-20 BE over 2018-19 BE

·         Arunachal Pradesh came on the air map recently

·         Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram came on India’s rail map for the first time

·         Container cargo movement through improved navigation capacity of the Brahmaputra

 Vulnerable sections

·         A new committee under NITI Ayog to identify all the remaining De-notified nomadic and semi-Nomadic tribes.

·         New Welfare development Board under Ministry of social justice and empowerment for development and welfare of De-notified nomadic and semi nomadic tribes

 Defence

·         Defence budget to cross Rs 3,00,000 crore for the first time ever

 Railways

·         Capital support of Rs.64,587 crore proposed in 2019-20 (BE) from the budget

·         Overall capital expenditure programme to be of Rs. 1,58,658 crore

·         Operating Ratio expected to improve from 98.4% in 2017-18

                                                                             to 96.2% in 2018-19 (RE) and

                                                                             to 95% in 2019- 20 (BE)

 Entertainment Industry

·         Indian filmmakers  to get access to Single window clearance as well for ease of shooting films

·         Regulatory provisions to rely more on self-declaration

·         To introduce anti-camcording provisions in the Cinematograph Act to control piracy

 MSME and Traders

·         2% interest subvention on an incremental loan of  Rs 1 crore for GST registered SMEs

·         Atleast 3% of the 25% sourcing for the Government undertakings will be from women owned SMEs

·         Renewed Focus on Internal trade ; DIPP renamed to Department for Promotion of Industries and Internal trade

Digital Villages

·         The Government to make 1 lakh villages into Digital Villages over next five years

 Other Announcement(s)

·         New National Artificial Intelligence portal to support National Program on Artificial Intelligence

Achievements during 2014-19

State of the Economy

·         India universally recognized as a bright spot of the global economy during last five years

·         “Country witnessed its best phase of macro-economic stability during 2014-19”, says FM

·         India is now the 6th largest economy in the world from being the 11thlargest in 2013-14

·         Annual average GDP growth during 2014-19 higher than any government since 1991

·         Government has broken inflation’s back from backbreaking inflation during 2009-14: FM

·         Average inflation down to 4.6%, lower than during any other Government

·         Inflation in December 2018 down to 2.19% only

·         Fiscal deficit down to 3.4% in 2018-19 RE from the high of almost 6% seven years ago

·         CAD likely to be only 2.5% of GDP this year against a high of 5.6% six years ago

·         India attracted massive amount of FDI, worth $239 billion, during the last 5 years

·          “India is solidly back on track and marching towards growth and prosperity”, says FM

·         India becomes the fastest growing major economy in the world

·         Double-digit inflation contained and fiscal balance restored

·         Liberalization of FDI policy, allowing most FDI to come through the automatic route

Farmers

·         Assured MSP of minimum 50% to all 22 crops

·         Interest subvention doubled in last 5 years

·         Soil Health card, Neem coated Urea game changer in farm sector

Labor

·         Employment opportunities expanded ; EPFO membership increased by 2 crore

·         Minimum income for every category of workers increased by 42% in last 5 years

Poor and Backward Classes

·         10% reservation for the poor  in educational institutions and government jobs

·         Free electricity connection to every household under Saubhagya Yojana

·         World’s largest healthcare programme, Ayushman Bharat, for nearly 50 crore people

·         Aspirational Districts Programme for development in 115 most backward districts

·         Rs. 1,70,000 crore spent during 2018-19 for cheaper food grains to poor and middle class

·         143 crore LED bulbs provided in mission mode with the cooperation of private sector

·         Poor & middle class are saving Rs. 50, 000 crore p.a. in electricity bills due to LED bulbs

·         10 lakh patients benefited from free treatment under Ayushman Bharat

·         Jan Aushadhi Kendras providing medicines at affordable prices to poor and middle class

·         14 out of 21 AIIIMS operating presently have been announced since 2014

·         Government tripled rural roads’ construction under the PMGSY

·         15.80 lakh habitations out of 17.84 lakh connected with pucca roads

·         Rs. 19,000 crore for PMGSY in BE 2019-20 against Rs. 15,500 crore in RE 2018-19

·         1.53 crore houses built under PM Awas Yojana during the 2014-18

Women development to women led development

·         6 crore free LPG gas connections provided under Ujjwala Yojna ; All 8 crore by next year

·         70% of MUDRA Loan availed by Women

·         Maternity leave extended to 26 weeks

·         Financial support for pregnant women under Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana

Youth

·         Over one crore youth trained under Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikash Yojana

·         Self-employment boost through MUDRA, STAND-UP and START-UP India

MSME and Traders

·         Up-to Rs 1 crore loans can be availed in less than an hour

·         25%-28% is the average savings due to GeM (Government e-Market place)

Income Tax

·         Tax collections nearly doubled in five years- from Rs. 6.38 Lakh crore in 2013-14 to almost Rs. 12 lakh crore this year

·         80% growth in tax base- from 3.79 crore to 6.85 crore in five years

·         Tax administration streamlined- Last year, 99.54% of the income-tax returns accepted as were filed

·         Technology intensive project approved to improve assessee friendliness –In two years, returns to be processed in 24 hours and refunds issued simultaneously

·         Earlier benefits given to middle class-

o   Basic exemption limit increased from Rs. 2 lakh to Rs. 2.5 lakh

o   Tax rate reduced from 10% to 5% for the tax slab of Rs. 2.5 lakh to Rs. 5 lakh

o   Standard deduction of Rs. 40,000 introduced for the salaried class

o   Deduction of savings under section 80C increased from Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 1.5 lakh

o   Deduction of interest for self-occupied house property raised from Rs. 1.5 lakh to Rs. 2 lakh

·         Special benefits and incentives already given to small businesses and startups-

o   Overall compliance processes simplified.

o   Threshold for presumptive taxation of business raised from Rs. 1 crore to Rs. 2 crore

o   Benefit of presumptive taxation extended for the first time to small professionals fixing threshold limit at Rs. 50 lakh

o   Presumptive profit rate reduced from 8% to 6% to promote a less cash economy

o   Tax rate for about 99% companies reduced to 25%

GST

·         GST made India a common market

·         GST led to increased tax base, higher collections and ease of trade

·         Inter-state movements now faster, more efficient, and hassle free

·         Responsive and sensitive reduction of tax rates – Most items of daily use now in the 0% or 5% tax slab

·         Relieving the businesses and service providers-

o   Exemptions from GST for small businesses doubled from Rs. 20 lakh to Rs. 40 lakh

o   Small businesses having turnover up to Rs. 1.5 crore pay only 1% flat rate and file one annual return only

o   Small service providers with turnover upto Rs.50 lakhs can opt for composition scheme and pay GST at 6% instead of 18%

o   Soon, businesses comprising over 90% of GST payers to be allowed to file quarterly return

·         Encouraging GST revenue trends – The average monthly tax collection in the current year is Rs. 97,100 crore per month as compared to Rs. 89,700 crore per month in the first year

Infrastructure

·         Civil Aviation – UDAN Scheme

o   Number of Operational Airports crossed 100

o   Latest: Pakyong airport in Sikkim

o   Domestic Passenger traffic doubled in last 5 years

·         Roads

o   India is the fastest highway developer in the world

o   27 kms of highways built each day

o   Stuck projects completed – Eastern Peripheral Highway around Delhi

 – Bogibeel rail-cum-road bridge in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh

·         Waterways

o   Flagship programme of Sagarmala along the coastal areas

o   For first time, container freight movement started on Kolkata to Varanasi inland waterways

·         Railways

o   ‘Safest year’ for railways in its history

o   All Unmanned Level Crossings on broad gauge network eliminated.

o   Semi high-speed “Vande Bharat Express” introduced – first indigenously developed and manufactured

Climate Change

·         International Solar Alliance

o   To promote renewable energy

o   First treaty based international inter-governmental organisation headquartered in India

o   Installed solar generation capacity grown over ten times in last five years

o   Now creating lakhs of new age jobs

Digital India Revolution

·         More than 3 lakh Common Service Centres (CSCs) exist to deliver services to the citizens

·         India now leading the world in the consumption of mobile data

·         Monthly consumption of mobile data increased by over 50 times in the last five years

·         Under Make in India, mobile and parts manufacturing companies increased from 2 to more than 268 providing huge job opportunities

Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile (JAM) and Direct Benefit Transfer

·         In the last five years, nearly 34 crore Jan Dhan bank accounts opened

·         Aadhaar now near universally implemented

·         Ensure the poor and middle class receive the benefits of Government schemes directly in their bank accounts by eliminating middlemen

Customs and trading across borders

·         Customs duties on 36 capital goods abolished

·         Digitization of import and export transactions

·         RFID technology to improve logistics

Steps against corruption

·         Government walked the talk on corruption and ushered in a new era of transparency: FM

·         RERA and Benami Transaction (Prohibition) Act have brought transparency in real estate

·         The Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018 to help confiscate economic offenders

·         Government conducted transparent auction of natural resources such as coal & spectrum

Drive against Black money

·         Undisclosed income of about Rs 1,30,000 crore brought under tax through initiatives like Black money Law,  Fugitive Criminal offenders Act, Demonetisation etc.

·         Benami assets worth Rs 6,900 crore have been attached

·         18% growth in Direct tax

Banking Reforms and Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC)

·         The IBC has institutionalized a resolution-friendly mechanism

·         Government has stopped the culture of “phone banking”: FM

·         Government adopted 4Rs approach of recognition, resolution, re-capitalization & reforms

·         Government has implemented measures to ensure ‘Clean Banking’

·         Government has already recovered Rs. 3 lakh crore in favor of banks and creditors

·         Government has invested Rs. 2.6 lakh crore for recapitalization of public sector banks

Cleanliness

·         Government launched Swachh Bharat Mission as a tribute to 150 years of Gandhi Ji

·         FM thanks 130 crore Indians for translating Swachh Bharat into a national revolution

·         India has achieved 98% rural sanitation coverage

  •  5.45 lakh villages have been declared “Open Defecation Free”

Defence

·         OROP under implementation in full spirit with Rs 35,000 crore already disbursed

·         Military pay service hiked

Other achievements

·         Government put a stop to questionable practices of hiding high NPAs

·         Swachh Bharat Mission as the world’s largest behavioral change movement

Key message in the Interim Budget 2019-20

·         Moving towards realizing a ‘New India’ by 2022 –

o   Clean and healthy India with universal access to toilets, water and electricity to all

o   An India where Farmers’ income would have doubled

o   Ample opportunities to youth and women to fulfil their dreams

o   An India free from terrorism, communalism, casteism, corruption and nepotism 

Vision for the next Decade 

·         Foundation for India’s growth and development laid in the past 5 years

·         Poised to become a Five Trillion Dollar Economy in the next five years

·         Aspire to become a Ten Trillion Dollar Economy in the next 8 years thereafter

Ten dimensions of Vision for India of 2030

India would be a modern, technology driven, high growth, equitable and transparent society

1.      To build physical as well as social infrastructure and to provide ease of living

2.      To create a Digital India, digitize government processes with leaders from youth

3.      Making India pollution free by leading transport revolution with Electric Vehicles and focus on Renewables

4.      Expanding rural industrialisation using modern digital technologies to generate massive employment

5.      Clean Rivers, safe drinking water to all Indians and efficient use of water through micro-irrigation

6.      Besides scaling up of Sagarmala, Coastline and Ocean waters powering India’s development and growth

7.      Aim at our space programme – Gaganyaan, India becoming the launch-pad of satellites for the World and placing an Indian astronaut into space by 2022

8.      Making India self-sufficient in food, exporting to the world to meet their food needs and producing food in the most organic way

9.      A healthy India via Ayushman Bharat with women having equal rights and concern for their safety and empowerment

10.  Transforming India into a Minimum Government Maximum Governance nation with pro-active and responsible bureaucracy

-PIB/ 01 February, 2019 / New Delhi

Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas:NRIs are India’s brand ambassador

Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas-NRIs are India’s brand ambassadors: PM 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday described non-resident Indians as India’s brand ambassadors and said they were the symbols of the country’s capabilities. The Prime Minister was inaugurating the 15th Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas convention in his parliamentary constituency Varanasi on Tuesday.

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Mr. Modi also alluded to former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi’s comment that only 15 paise of ₹1 reaches masses and said the Congress government had done nothing to stop the leakage. Mr. Modi added that his government had stepped in to rectify the situation. The “85 per cent loot” taking place during the Congress regime had been plugged “100 per cent” through technology, he said.

The theme of this year’s Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas convention is ‘Role of Indian diaspora in building new India’

“We have given about ₹5,80,000 crore to people, transferred to their bank accounts through various schemes. Imagine, if the country was being run on the older system? Then ₹4,50,000 crore would have vanished,” Mr. Modi said.

Continuing his attack on the Congress, he said efforts to stop the “leakage” could have been made earlier as well but there was no intention and will power. “Our government is moving towards ensuring that the aid given by government is directly transferred to beneficiary accounts through direct benefit schemes,” he said.

Mauritian Premier lauds Modi

Mauritian Premier Pravind Jugnauth, who is the chief guest for the three-day event, also spoke on the occasion. Mr. Jugnauth hailed India’s transformation through initiatives such as the Skill India and the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao schemes. He also praised Mr. Modi’s global stewardship in promoting clean energy and for setting up the International Solar Alliance.

Mr. Jugnauth announced that his country will hold a Bhagwad Gita Mahotsav next month and a Bhojpuri Festival next year. For the first time, the three-day convention is being organised from January 21 to 23 instead of January 9 to allow participants to visit the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad and attend the Republic Day parade in the national capital. The theme of this year’s convention is ‘Role of Indian diaspora in building new India’.

-PTI, VARANASI, JANUARY 22, 2019