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Protocol amending the Double Taxation Amending Convention (DTAC) between India and Japan comes into force
Nov 10,2016

A Protocol amending the Double Taxation Avoidance Convention (DTAC) between India and Japan for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income which was signed on 11th December, 2015 has entered into force on 29th October, 2016 on completion of procedural requirements by both countries. The Protocol amending the DTAC aims to promote transparency and cooperation between the two countries.

The Protocol provides for internationally accepted standards for effective exchange of information on tax matters including bank information and information without domestic tax interest. It is further provided that the information received from Japan in respect of a resident of India can be shared with other law enforcement agencies with authorization of the Competent Authority of Japan and vice versa.

The Protocol provides for exemption of interest income from taxation in the source country with respect to debt-claims insured by the Government/Government owned financial institutions.

The Protocol inserts a new article on assistance in collection of taxes. India and Japan shall now lend assistance to each other in the collection of revenue claims.

The existing Double Taxation Avoidance Convention (DTAC) between India and Japan was earlier signed on 7th March, 1989 and was notified on 1st March 1990. The DTAC was subsequently amended on 24th February, 2006.

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Indirect Tax Collections up to October 2016 register an increase of 26.7% over the net collections for the corresponding period last year
Nov 10,2016

The figures for indirect tax collections (Central Excise, Service Tax and Customs) up to October 2016 show that net revenue collections are at Rs 4.85 lakh crore which is 26.7% more than the net collections for the corresponding period last year. Till October 2016, 62.4% of the Budget Estimates of indirect taxes for Financial Year 2016-17 has been achieved.

As regards Central Excise, net tax collections stood at Rs.2.14 lakh crore during April-October, 2016 as compared to Rs.1.47 lakh crore during the corresponding period in the previous Financial Year, thereby registering a growth of 45.4%.

Net Tax collections on account of Service Tax during April-October, 2016 stood at Rs. 1.43 lakh crore as compared to Rs.1.12 lakh crore during the corresponding period in the previous Financial Year, thereby registering a growth of 26.9%.

Net Tax collections on account of Customs during April-October 2016 stood at Rs. 1.27 lakh crore as compared to Rs. 1.22 lakh crore during the same period in the previous Financial Year, thereby registering a growth of 4.1%.

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More than one crore connections released under PMUY
Nov 09,2016

More than 1 crore connections being released under the ambitious scheme of Honble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi to provide deposit free LPG connections in the name of women of BPL families in the country under n++Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojanan++.

It was informed by the Honble Minister that in a short span of 6 months of implementation of the scheme, 638 districts of 35 States/UTs are covered under the scheme and more than 1.81 crore applications are received. Out of which 1.5 crore applications have been cleared and 1.01 crore connections are already given to the beneficiaries. Top 5 States which have accounted for maximum number of connections released under the scheme include Uttar Pradesh (34.55 lakh), Madhya Pradesh(13.32 lakh), Rajasthan (12.94 lakh), Bihar (10.34 lakh) and West Bengal (7.66 lakh). Further, the districts of Sitapur (1.29 lakh), Allahabad (1.26 lakh), Kushinagar (1.16 lakh), Unnao (87,752) and Gonda (84,173) topped the list of districts with highest number of connections released.

On an average, 22 - 25 lakh new connections are released every month across the country under PMUY. Further analysis of the refill purchase status of the beneficiaries revealed that more than 80% of the beneficiaries have purchased their refills. The major beneficiaries of this scheme are from weaker sections of the society i.e. SC/ST who accounted for 44% of the connections released.

The Minister also informed that a massive safety awareness campaign will be carried out over a period of 4 months starting from November to educate all LPG consumers on importance of safety following norms.

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MSDE Announces Launch Of Pradhan Mantri Yuva Yojana To Scale Up An Ecosystem Of Entrepreneurship For Youngsters
Nov 09,2016

Marking the 2nd Foundation Day of Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Minister of State(I/C) for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Shri Rajiv Pratap Rudy, launched the Pradhan Mantri YUVA Yojana, MSDEs flagship scheme on entrepreneurship education and training.

The scheme spans over five years (2016-17 to 2020-21) with a project cost of Rs. 499.94 crore, and will provide entrepreneurship education and training to over 7 lakh students in 5 years through 3050 Institutes. It will also include easy access to information and mentor network, credit, incubator and accelerator and advocacy to create a pathway for the youth.

Shri Rudy said, with this the government has taken important strides to scale up entrepreneurship in the country. He said, Pradhan Mantri YUVA Yojana has national and international best practices of learning in entrepreneurship education.

He said, MSDEs two institutions dedicated to entrepreneur education and training - NIESBUD and IIE- have trained more than 7 lakh trainees including 2,600 persons from more than 125 countries in the field of entrepreneurial skills till date. After becoming a part of this Ministry, these two institutes are now focusing on mentorship of budding entrepreneurs across the country. We have seen success so far and we are determined to create more opportunities of employment for our youth through this initiative,n++ he further added.

The institutes under the PMs YUVA Yojana include 2200 Institutes of Higher Learning (colleges, universities, and premier institutes), 300 schools, 500 ITIs and 50 Entrepreneurship Development Centres, through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

The announcement on scheme was made at a day-long national conference of State Ministers on n++Skilling with qualityn++ which saw more than 80% of the States making their representations. The conference emphasised on the need for strengthening institutional mechanisms for skill development at the State level and bringing in a more robust framework ensuring quality output, outcome and impact on the youth of our country.

The conference explained Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurships (MSDE) efforts in ensuring alignment to common norms, district level committees, best practices, special projects, disadvantage groups and a robust model for monitoring and validation and emphasised the needs for States to come forward and handhold districts in making all skill initiatives a success at the local level.

MSDE communicated that it has plans to disburse around INR 7000 crore to states to help align them with the centres skill development agenda and work in conjunction with them to ensure a robust ecosystem.

Secretary MSDE Shri Rohit Nandan, said, Skills have to maintain a certain baseline standard and we should not get caught in the numbers. Skills cannot be compromised at any cost and States should partner with the Centre to verify and grade ITIs and Training Partners so that quality and standards can be maintained. The Sector Skill Councils (SSCs) will work closely with the local authorities and industries towards job aggregation. Those who perform well will be incentivised while those who do not perform will have to exit.

The conference also saw Shri Rajiv Pratap Rudy, unveil the guidelines for State Engagement under Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana 2.0 (2016-2020) in the presence of State Ministers. The guidelines provide a framework for the State Governments role and processes, the funding support and the schemes implementation and monitoring mechanism. MSDE has allocated around 3000 crore of 25% from the funds earmarked for the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) to the States, to achieve its target of training 10 million people over 4 years.

MSDE also unveiled the Lab Guidelines towards standardisation of lab equipment across skill development training centres in India at the conference. These guidelines specify the number of job roles that can be done in a lab, standard lab layout, and available brands of equipment which should be used. These guidelines will pave a pathway in increasing the employability of trained candidates across States ensuring industry standards.

Emphasising on the importance of being self-sustainable, MSDE announced the institutionalisation of National Entrepreneurship awards for first generation achievers below 30 years, for the very first time. The Entrepreneurship Awards are proposed to be given on 16 January 2017. The young entrepreneur will be awarded in various sectors contributing to the economy of our country. Equal emphasis has been given to recognize the meaningful contribution of ecosystem builders in this award process. Equal focus has been given to recognize young people from socially disadvantaged groups.

n++We believe that this initiative will motivate first generation entrepreneurs to improve and excel in their entrepreneurial pursuits, and inspire those who are a part of the countrys entrepreneurship ecosystem to excel even further,n++ said Secretary Shri Rohit Nandan.

States like Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh participating in the conference lauded the Centres endeavour to bring about convergence across regions and also shared their best practices on Quality Assurance for others to follow. States stated that the quality has to be engrained into the system right at the planning level and also ensured that the skilled workforce will be used for infrastructure and other developments within the region. State Minister from Uttar Pradesh also shared how there skilled workforce is being given international exposure by sending them abroad for training courses in skills like perfumery.

The Ministry also emphasised on increasing engagement with apprentices under the n++National Apprenticeship Promotion Schemen++ under which the Government of India will share 25% of prescribed stipend subject to a maximum of Rs. 1500 per month per apprentice with the employers. In addition, Government will also support basic training, which is an essential component of apprenticeship training. It was advised that States may create a State Apprenticeship Cell and encourage engagement of apprentices to the maximum of 10% of total strength of private establishments and State Public Sectors.

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Government permits Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 currency notes on highway toll plazas till midnight of 11 November 2016
Nov 09,2016

The government has permitted fee collectors at toll plazas on highways to accept currency notes of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 denominations till the midnight of 11 November 2016. National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has issued instructions to all the concessionaries including BOT, OMT operators and other fee collection agencies in this regard. The orders have been issued in order to avoid difficulties that may be faced by the highway users following instructions by the Ministry of Finance yesterday that currency notes of the denominations of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 will no longer be legal tender from 12.00 am today.

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Asia-Pacific Countries Should Expand Social Protection - ADB
Nov 09,2016

Many countries in Asia and the Pacific need to expand their social protection programs to ensure adequate coverage for most of their populations, according to two Asian Development Bank (ADB) reports released today. The studies, The Social Protection Indicator (SPI): Assessing Results for Asia, and Social Protection Indicator (SPI): Assessing Results for the Pacific incorporate data from 25 countries in Asia and 13 in the Pacific on central government support for social insurance, such as pensions and health insurance; social assistance, such as child welfare programs and assistance to the elderly; and labor market programs, such as cash-for-work programs. n++This updated, comprehensive set of indicators gives governments an effective mechanism for devising new and improved social protection programs, which are an essential element of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and go to the heart of efforts to promote inclusive growth and reduce poverty,n++ said Sri Wening Handayani, Principal Social Development Specialist with ADBs Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department. The studies find that on average government expenditure on social protection programs in Asian countries is equivalent to 3.7% of GDP per capita and 1.9% in the Pacific, in both cases far too low to ensure sufficient coverage for most of the population. Social insurance continues to dominate social protection spending in Asia and the Pacific. Almost three-quarters of GDP per capita spent on social protection is allocated for social insurance. Social assistance accounts for only 0.9% GDP per capita, while active labor market programs account for only 0.1% GDP per capita. For the first time, the 2016 SPI report assesses progress on social protection over time by tracking spending for 14 countries in Asia between 2004 and 2012. Mongolia, the Peoples Republic of China, and Viet Nam made appreciable progress, while the low income countries, Cambodia and Nepal, made significant progress primarily through cash or in-kind transfers. Social protection coverage levels remain weak in other countries, particularly in the Pacific, where little progress was made between 2009 and 2012 (the latest year for which data are available). Across Asia and the Pacific, national social protection systems fail to effectively reach poor and vulnerable persons, and deliver more benefits to men than women. Social assistance in Asia-Pacific countries provides limited support to people with health problems who lack social insurance and to persons with disabilities. This highlights the importance of expanding coverage to support low-income and vulnerable groups, including the elderly and persons with disabilities. The two reports recommend more ambitious active labor market programs, as these tend to be small and weak in most countries, and that unemployment insurance and social assistance benefits be extended to include employment promotion measures such as vocational training and support for entrepreneurship. Furthermore, it is important to expand the coverage of social assistance to support broader groups of the poor and vulnerable and move beyond the usual narrowly targeted programs that do not reach many people in need. The use of noncontributory cash benefits can help support vulnerable groups left out of formal social insurance schemes. The studies conclude that effective and inclusive contributory systems are crucial for building comprehensive social protection to address vulnerabilities at all stage of life.

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NITI Aayog conducts workshop with States to radically improve learning outcomes among school children
Nov 09,2016

NITI Aayog organized the first regional workshop on the School Education Quality Index (SEQI) in collaboration with the Ministry of HRD to improve the learning outcomes among school children. The workshops on SEQI saw striking evidence on factors that determine the quality of school education being presented by the participants from the northern region. The objective was to sensitize and support States/ UTs in improving learning outcomes among school children across India.

The SEQI is a composite index that will report annual improvements of States on key domains of education quality, conceptualized and designed by NITI Aayog and the MHRD. The larger vision of the index is to shift the focus of States from inputs towards outcomes, provide objective benchmarks for continuous annual improvements, encourage state-led innovations to improve quality and facilitate sharing of best practices.

In order to precisely report the quality of education imparted across India, the SEQI is divided into two categories: Outcomes and Governance & Management. These are further divided into three domains of Outcomes (Learning, Access and Equity) and two domains of Governance & Management (Governance Processes and Structural Reforms). Currently the index has 34 indicators and 1000 points, with the highest weightage given to learning outcomes (600 out of 1000 points).

In his address, Prof. Kartik Muralidharan, Associate Professor in the Economics Department at University of California and Honorary Adviser, NITI Aayog said, n++Highest quality evidence available suggests that across the board increase in education spending in India has not led to an improvement in learning outcomes. Inputs such as infrastructure, teacher training, student-teacher ratio etc. alone have had negligible impact on student learning,n++ Calling for a greater focus on governance and teaching at the childs level, he added that integrating inputs with accountability and early childhood literacy/numeracy will radically transform the quality of education imparted in schools.

Additional Secretary, NITI Aayog Shri Alok Kumar highlighted NITI Aayogs role and its vision for improving social sector outcomes. Additional Secretary,School Education and Literacy, MHRD, Smt. Rina Ray shared key reform initiatives of MHRD and the complementary nature of SEQI with these initiatives. Adviser, Education, NITI Aayog Smt. Alka Tiwari underlined the the importance of State-led efforts in measuring and improving education outcomes. She emphasized that the goal of the index is not so much to compare the levels of States but to compare the improvements that States make on the index.

Honorary Adviser, NITI Aayog Professor Karthik Muralidharan also shared evidence-based research underpinning the development of the index. The team from Central Square Foundation discussed the components and data requirements for the index. The SEQI will also feature innovative practices of States to improve education quality. The final report will be generated in June, 2017.

Senior education functionaries from Delhi, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir and Chandigarh took part in the deliberations and shared their feedback on the index. The event was also attended by representatives from NUEPA, NCERT, NCTE and other autonomous institutions. Over the coming weeks, NITI Aayog will hold these workshops for all States in different centers across India.

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Shri Bandaru Dattatreya Launches Kahin Bhi-Kabhi Bhi medical facilities for ESIC beneficiaries of Delhi
Nov 09,2016

The Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Labour and Employment, Shri Bandaru Dattatreya launched the Kahin Bhi-Kabhi Bhi medical facilities for ESIC beneficiaries of Delhi and Inaugurated the 06 bedded Day Care Unit of ESI Dispensary.

Speaking on the occasion, Shri Bandaru Dattatreya informed that ESIC Dispensary Dwarka has now become a complete unit in itself with medical facilities like General OPD Care, Family Welfare Services, full time Laboratory and X-Ray and Diagnostic care. Now, insured persons and their family members of Delhi need not to visit ESIC Hospital for minor ailments requiring only day care like Diarrhoea, high grade fevers, acute asthama attacks, abdominal pain, chest pain etc. Besides this, in future, Day Care Centres will be developed in three more ESIC Dispensaries in Delhi having high OPD attendance in Nandnagari, Mangolpuri and Jwalapuri which will cover all zones of Delhi.

The Minister further said that ESI Corporation has decided to open six bed Day Care Centres in various ESI Dispensaries, all over the country. These Centres will become a complete unit in itself with medical facilities. To further improve the medical services to patients from working class, facilities like Dental Care, Physiotherapy, Yoga, X-Ray Plant on PPP Model, Mother and Child Tracking, courier services to deliver medicine at Insured Person doorsteps will also be provided. All 04 ESIC Hospitals of Delhi at Basaidarapur, Rohini, Okhla and Jhilmil will also be converted into Super Speciality Hospitals.

Shri Dattatreya also said that ESIC has become one of the largest social security organizations, offering a better and brighter service for all the ESIC beneficiaries making every Insured Person feel like a VIP.

The Minister informed that ESIC has taken an initiative in the form of Kahin Bhi Kabhi Bhi for ESIC beneficiaries of Delhi. Kahin Bhi means- any dispensary/Hospital and Kabhi Bhi means - any time. Now, all the network of dispensaries of Delhi has been made accessible to insured persons and their family members all the time. It will save his/her time and effort to avail services it closer to his workplace or home or any place.

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Pollution to cripple NCR economy; Golden triangle tourism to be hit: ASSOCHAM
Nov 09,2016

With Delhi and NCR getting the descriptive titles like gas chamber and the worlds most polluted city, the entire area of National Capital Region encompassing not only Noida, Gurgaon and Faridabad but also right up to Meerut, Panipat, Bhiwadi and Rohtak is likely to face a crippling economic impact more in sectors like tourism, transport, automobile and real estate, an ASSOCHAM paper has said.

While it may be difficult to hazard a figure of economic loss since the exact period of dangerous levels of pollutants would depend on the weather conditions along with administrative measures, there is no doubt that several billions of dollars of fresh investment and GDP loss would occur, besides causing a loss of confidence among the citizens, said ASSOCHAM Secretary General Mr D S Rawat.

In the immediate run-up, the ongoing tourism season which is yet to pick up, could see a maximum hit with the Delhi and NCR pollution making global headlines and creating an impression to avoid the area for visitors. The maximum foreign tourists visit the Golden Triangle of Delhi-Agra-Jaipur (entire Rajasthan). The ASSOCHAM feedback from tour operators and hoteliers clearly point out a deep concern over the negative impact the pollution can cause to the economy.

n++If urgent steps on emergency scale are not taken, the economic impact arising out of the health issues could be catastrophic for the NCR, one of the important pillars of the national economy. Besides, this is also a wakeup call for other regions around Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai and Kolkata, adds ASSOCHAM Secretary General.

There are already requests from global tour operators to Indian counterparts to re-align the itinerary of the international tourists to the Golden Triangle. Instead of the tourists dividing period of stay between Delhi, Agra and Rajasthan, there have been enquiries where the visitors can avoid Delhi, excepting the touch-down options at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in the national capital.

Along with the tourism, the transportation linked to the tourism, would also take a hit if investment and tourists traffic gets a setback. The transportation is one of the key contributors to the national economy in the services sector. Both transportation and tourism are highly employment-oriented and jobs may be a casualty of the pollution, the ASSOCHAM paper noted.

n++Surely, the maximum impact would be felt by the Delhi economy which had the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) of Rs 558745 crore in 2015-16 at current prices. The GSDP of Delhi has been among the fastest growing in the country, but such a growth cannot be taken for granted,n++ the paper cautioned.

The chamber suggested a holistic set of measures for short-term and long -term to tackle pollution in the NCR. n++It should not be taken as a Delhi problem or a Noida problem; it must be handled at the top level in all the neighbouring states of Haryana, UP, Punjab and Rajasthan along with active intervention of the Centren++.

Besides, measures like ban on construction activities are sustainable as it affects the daily wage earning construction workers because causing delays in national projects like Delhi Metro, adds the chamber.

n++The challenge lies in changing the adversity of pollution into an opportunity for good health by sustainable development modeln++, the ASSOCHAM said.

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Indo-Japan MOU for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC)
Nov 09,2016

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) and the Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India has been approved by the Cabinet. The advancement of academic research in the field of Earth Sciences for the benefit of the peace and human welfare is the prime objective of the MOU.

The collaboration with JAMSTEC will not only enhance capability in the field of atmospheric and climate research, ocean technology observation and hazard mitigation but also provide much needed exposure and hands-on experience to Indian scientists.

The cooperation between parties and under Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will be pursued primarily through joint survey, cruise and research and development activities, exchange of scientific visits, joint scientific seminars, workshops and meetings or exchange of information and data.

Earlier, a Letter of Intent (LOI) was signed between Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India and Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) in 2014 to encourage collaboration in the areas of mutual interest. A joint statement was signed by the Prime Ministers of India and Japan during the annual summit meeting held in New Delhi during 11-13 December, 2015.

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New Green Urban Transport Scheme on the anvil with Central assistance of Rs.25,000 cr
Nov 09,2016

Minister of Urban Development Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu today said that the Central Government is working on new policy initiatives to encourage private investments in climate friendly and sustainable public transport systems like Metro rail, Non-motorised Transport and other low carbon emitting systems in urban areas. He spoke on the inadequate and inefficient public transport infrastructure in urban areas after inaugurating the four day Urban Mobility India Conference and Expo at Gandhinagar, Gujarat. Various aspects of n++Planning Mobility for Citys Sustainabilityn++ will be discussed by about 2,500 delegates from India and abroad including Mayors and Municipal Councilors, during the conference.

Shri Naidu said that the new initiatives under consideration include Green Urban Transport Scheme, new Metro Rail Policy, revision of Metro Acts and Standardisation and Indigenisation of Metro systems, aimed at increased private sector participation.

The Minister informed that the Green Urban Transport Scheme seeks to encourage growth of urban transport along low Carbon path for substantial and measurable reduction in pollution, provide a permanent and sustainable framework for funding urban mobility projects at National, State and City level with minimum recourse to budgetary support by encouraging innovative financing of projects. Under this Scheme, provision of Non-motorised Transport infrastructure, increasing access to public transport, use of clean technologies, adoption of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) and private sector participation in urban transport projects will be increased. He said, this scheme is being considered for for implementation in cities each with a population of five lakhs and above and all capital cities, Central assistance of about Rs.25,000 cr is estimated to be required which would in turn trigger private investments to meet the resource needs, over the next five years.

Shri Naidu said that in view of the growing demand for metro rail systems in urban areas, a new Metro Policy would soon be unveiled to meet the demand through increased private sector participation. This Policy mandates preparation of Comprehensive Mobility Plans of cities mandatory to ensure last mile connectivity with metro stations. It also seeks to bring in more innovativee models of implementation besides increased standardization and indigenization to induce competition. the Minister said new Metro policy seeks to ensure integration of metro projects with over all mobility needs in urban areas. He informed that the Central government has so far provided an assistance of over Rs.65,000 cr including sovereign debt to metro projects in different cities of the country. As of now, 325 kms. of metro rail is in operation in Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Jaipur. About 517 kms of metro rail projects are under execution and another 449 kms under planning stage, the Minister informed.

The Minister said that the existing two Metro Acts made in the context of Kolkata and Delhi Metros are being integrated envisaging more delegation of powers to State Governments besides promoting PPP and private initiatives.

Stressing on the need for holistic planning to improve the citys mobility, liveability and sustainability, Shri Naidu said n++Urban transport planning shall be people centric and aim at moving people instead of moving cars. All sections of people shall be ensured access to efficient public transport through inclusive planningn++.

Expressing concern over one road accident every minute and one accident death every four minutes in urban areas and half of the victims being pedestrians, cyclists and those using two wheelers, Shri Naidu called for an affordable, comfortable, reliable and safe public transport to reduce demand for private motorized vehicles. He stressed on the need for promotion of Non-motorised transport infrastructure for encouraging walking and cycling. NMT as a viable alternative mode of mobility would be effective if there is a close relationship between work and living place, he noted and called for proper land use zoning, development control and building regulations to ensure success of public transport system in cities.

The Minister stated that under new urban sector initiatives of Smart Cities Mission and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Non-Motorised Transport is being encourages on a large scale.

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Five hundred and one thousand rupee notes will no longer be legal tender
Nov 09,2016

In a historical move that will add record strength in the fight against corruption, black money, money laundering, terrorism and financing of terrorists as well as counterfeit notes, the Government of India has decided that the five hundred and one thousand rupee notes will no longer be legal tender from midnight, 8th November 2016.

The Government has accepted the recommendations of the RBI to issue Two thousand rupee notes and new notes of Five hundred rupees will also be placed in circulation.

Notes of one hundred, fifty, twenty, ten, five, two and one rupee will remain legal tender and will remain unaffected by the decision.

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi made these important announcements during a televised address to the nation on the evening of Tuesday 8th November 2016. He said that these decisions will fully protect the interests of honest and hard-working citizens of India and that those five hundred and one thousand rupee notes hoarded by anti-national and anti-social elements will become worthless pieces of paper.

The Prime Minister said the steps taken by the Government would strengthen the hands of the common citizens in the fight against corruption, black money and counterfeit notes.

Fully sensitive to some of the difficulties the common citizens may face in the coming days, the Prime Minister has announced a series of steps that will help overcome the potential problems.

Persons holding old notes of five hundred or one thousand rupees can deposit these notes in bank or post offices from 10th November onwards till 30th December, the Prime Minister announced. There are also some limits placed on the withdrawals from ATMs and bank for the very short run.

Shri Modi stated that on humanitarian grounds notes of five hundred and one thousand rupees will be accepted at government hospitals, pharmacies in government hospitals (with prescription of a doctor), booking counters for railway tickets, government buses, airline ticket counters, petrol, diesel and gas stations of PSU oil companies, consumer cooperative stores authorized by the state or central government, milk booths authorized by state government and crematoria, burial grounds.

Shri Modi emphasized that there is no restriction on any kind of non-cash payments by cheques, demand drafts, debit or credit cards and electronic fund transfer.

In his address the Prime Minister shared the insight into how the magnitude of cash in circulation is linked to inflation and how the inflation situation is worsened due to the cash deployed through corrupt means. The Prime Minister added that it adversely affects the poor and the neo-middle class people. He cited the example of the problems being faced by the honest citizens while buying houses.

A time-tested commitment to eradicate black money

The Prime Minister has time and again said that the Government is committed to ensure that the menace of black money is overcome. Over the past two and a half years of the NDA Government, he has walked the talk and led by example.

The very first decision of the Prime Minister led NDA government was the formation of a SIT on black money.

A law was passed in 2015 on disclosure of foreign bank accounts. In August 2016 strict rules were put in place to curtail benami transactions. During the same period a scheme to declare black money was introduced.

The efforts have borne fruit. Over the past two and a half years, more than Rs. 1.25 lakh crore of black money has been brought into the open.

Raising the issue of black money at the world stage

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has time and again raised the issue of black money at the global forum, including at important multilateral summits and in bilateral meetings with leaders.

Record growth in last two and a half years

The Prime Minister said that the efforts of the Government have led to India emerging as a bright spot in the global economy. India is a preferred destination for investment and India is also an easier place to do business in. Leading financial agencies have shared their optimism about Indias growth as well.

Combined with this, Indian enterprise and innovation has received a fillip due to the Make in India, Start up India and Stand up India initiatives that seek to celebrate enterprise, innovation and research in India.

The historic announcements made by the Prime Minister will add value to the already thriving efforts of the Central Government.

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MOU on Defence Salary Package Signed between Indian Army and Corporation Bank
Nov 08,2016

Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Indian Army and Corporation Bank on the Defence Salary Package today. The signing ceremony was chaired by the Adjutant General, Lt Gen Rakesh Sharma, and was attended by top officials of Corporation Bank headed by Gopal Murli Bhagat, Executive Director.

The MoU is tailor made to suit the requirements of serving soldiers, pensioners and families and includes free / concessional services including free drafts, free cheque books, free funds transfers to any bank in India through RTGS / NEFT, free ATM cards, Unlimited transactions on all ATMs including that of other Banks. Some important features of the MoU include Personal Accident Insurance Cover of Rs 5 & 10 lacs, Air Insurance Cover of Rs 5 to 50 lacs and Term Life Insurance Cover of Rs 5 & 10 lacs. All the facilities are also extended to the pensioners except Term Life Insurance Cover.

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Minister of Railways flags off 15069/15070 Gorakhpur-Badshahnagar Express (daily)
Nov 08,2016

The Minister of Railways, Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, in a programme on 08.11.2016 at Rail Bhawan flagged off 15069/15070 Gorakhpur-Badshahnagar (Lucknow) Express (daily) through Video-Conferencing. Minister of State for Railways Shri Rajen Gohain was specially present to grace the occasion. Chairman, Railway Board, Shri A. K. Mital, Member Traffic, Railway Board Shri Mohd. Jamshed, other Railway Board Members and senior officials were also present on the occasion at Rail Bhawan end. Local Members of Parliament of Gorakhpur and other districts were also present to grace the flag off function at Gorakhpur end.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu said that Uttar Pradesh is a big and populous State and thus it requires better railway network. He said that Gorakhpur is a big city which has historic importance too, this new intercity train service will help the Gorakhpur people to grow in social and economic terms.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister of State for Railways Shri Rajen Gohain said that the rail is the cheapest mode of travel in India. Thus, Railways intends to expand rail network throughout the length and breadth of the country so that every citizen can be benefitted. He said that Railways will introduce some more new trains services soon.

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India-UK trade agreement to spur trade at USD 20 billion by 2020: PHD Chamber
Nov 08,2016

Prospective bilateral agreement and growth avenues would push trade between India and UK to USD 20 billion by 2020 from the current level of at around USD 14.3 billion in 2015-16, said Dr. Mahesh Gupta, President, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

India and UK are bound by invigorating business and investment opportunities and the close economic linkages based on the fundamentals of understanding and support, said dr. Gupta.

Among various products, Indias thrust products in the UK includes knitted and non-knitted articles of apparels (20.33%); mechanical appliances and machinery (7.64%); pearls and precious stones (5.88%); Vehicles and parts thereof (5.53%); footwear and the like (5.44%); pharmaceutical products (5.15%); electrical equipment (4.49%); articles of iron and steel (3.45%) of the total exports to UK.

UKs thrust products in India includes pearls and precious stones (29.42%); mechanical appliances and machinery (13%); iron and steel (7.86%); electrical equipment (6.49%); optical, photographic, cinematographic and similar instruments (5%); aluminum and articles thereof (4.12%); beverages, spirits and vinegar (3.80%) of the total exports to India.

Dr. Mahesh Gupta also added that Indian exports into UK are mainly focused on Consumer Goods, viz. nearly 65% of the total exports. On the other hand, nearly 43.5% of the total imports from UK are focused on Intermediate goods.

Although the trend in Indias exports to UK has remained in favour of consumer goods over the years, Indias import from UK underwent dramatic shift from raw materials, viz. 36.5% of the overall imports from UK during 2007, to intermediate goods, viz. 43.5% presently.

Dr. Mahesh Gupta said that though Indias penetration in the UKs market has remained consistent, UKs penetration rate revealed signs of substantial revival in the recent past. Also, Indian products hold significant footprint in the UKs market based on the intensity index of India in UK.

Indias export pattern has become more and more aligned with the import pattern of UK over time. Both nations witnessed a favorable complementarity scenario, which exhibits substantial potential trade gains for both the nations, further added Dr. Mahesh Gupta.

Also, the basket of exportable products from India remained opulently diversified compared to the importable basket from UK over time, thereby rendering Indian exporters relatively less susceptible to volatility in a turbulent trade scenario.

He also indicated about the lower than expected intra-industry trade figures between the two nations and to push trade further, both nations must engage in higher intra-industry trade in the medium to long run. Also, it is essential to reduce the exorbitant trade cost between India and UK for agricultural products to provide that much needed impetus to the agrarian exports.

Dr. Mahesh Gupta said that with further liberalization of FDI policy in different segments and the advent of GST next year, FDI from UK is expected to touch a new growth trajectory. Undoubtedly, collaboration of India and UK in the realm of investment and business can truly transform both the nations entrepreneurial ecosystem.

In the past 16 years, UK has invested nearly USD 22 billion in various forms of Foreign Direct Investment in India. UK is, presently, ranked 3rd biggest investor in India, and going by the trend, holds the potential to attain the top position, said Dr. Mahesh Gupta.

Dr. Mahesh Gupta further elaborated that majority of Indias investment in UK were in the Manufacturing sector, viz. around USD 766.32 million; followed by Financial, Insurance and Business services (USD 298.27 million); Transport, Storage and communication services (USD 81.77 million) among other significant investments in UK.

Going ahead, it is essential for both the parts to become proactive and become prompt in finalizing the bilateral agreement to rejuvenate the falling trend in trade. Both nations should continuously meet and engage in discussions related to mitigating bilateral trade issues, defence ties, renewable energy, skill development and other vital areas.

Going ahead, growth prospects for trade and development between two countries are very promising and sustainable, not only for the coming years but for the coming decades, said Dr. Mahesh Gupta.

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