Chairman of the Rajya Sabha Select Committee Chandan Mitra tabled the
report on the Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2008, recommending a hike in FDI
in insurance sector from 26 to 49 per cent.
The report, carrying dissent notes from four of the 15 members, incorporated
Congress party’s demand for a composite cap on such investments.
The dissenting parties include the Samajwadi Party, Trinamool Congress,
Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Janata Dal (United). These parties are
opposed to further opening of the insurance sector to foreign investment.
The Union Cabinet that met late in the evening approved the incorporation of
amendments suggested by a Parliamentary select panel in the Insurance Laws
(Amendment) Bill, 2008.
Following the Cabinet’s approval, the Bill is expected to come up for
consideration and passage in the Rajya Sabha next week.
Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks with Prime Minister Narendra
Modi to further boost cooperation between the two strategic partners in crucial
sectors like defence, energy and trade at a time when Russian economy was facing
Mr. Putin, who arrived, is likely to push for enhancing supply of military
hardware to India as well as expansion of bilateral economic engagement in a
range of areas.
It is the first annual summit meeting between Mr. Putin and Mr. Modi. The two
leaders had met on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Brazil in July and
during the G-20 summit in Australia last month.
“The bond between the people of Russia & India is very strong. Our nations
have stood by each other through thick and thin,” the Prime Minister said in
In his talks with Mr. Modi, both in restricted and delegation level formats,
Mr. Putin is likely to seek deeper economic engagement with India with an aim to
minimise impact of sanctions against Russia by the US and its Western allies
over the Ukraine issue.
The States have rejected the draft Bill for the Goods and Services Tax (GST),
dealing a major blow to the Centre’s resolve to roll it out at the earliest.
The Centre-States stalemate has put a question mark over whether the
government will be able to introduce the GST Constitution Amendment Bill during
the ongoing Winter Session of Parliament.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in the Lok Sabha last month that he
would introduce this Bill during the session. The GST rollout has missed several
deadlines in the absence of a Centre-States consensus.
At a meeting of the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers, the States
opposed the draft Bill and its proposal to extend the GST to petroleum goods and
“Consensus eludes the Centre and the States on the three main issues of
compensation, petrol tax and entry tax,” Empowered Committee Chairman Abdul Rahim Rather told presspersons.
He said the Empowered Committee would not support the Centre’s Bill unless it
conceded the States’ three demands. The GST will subsume all excise and service
The States want compensation from the Centre for the revenues they will lose
over five years from the shift to the GST regime. They want a clause on the
compensation to be inserted into the Bill, Mr. Rather said.
The Centre’s proposed draft does not have such a provision at present. “We
were surprised to know that the Centre has only agreed to one of our
recommendations,” said Mr. Rather.
Reserve Bank Governor Raghuram Rajan cautioned the government on Prime
Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ mantra, suggesting that India would
have to look for regional and domestic demand for growth — to make in India
primarily for India.
Dr. Rajan said that at this stage, an exports-push strategy for growth would
be ineffective; as the industrial world stagnated, many emerging markets were
rethinking their export-led growth model, he said. He was delivering the Bharat
Ram Memorial Lecture.
“There is a danger when we discuss ‘Make in India’ of assuming it means a
focus on manufacturing, an attempt to follow the export-led growth path that
China followed … But the world as a whole is unlikely to be able to accommodate
another export-led China,” Dr. Rajan said.
Since the global economy was still weak, he argued, it would be much less
likely to be able to absorb a substantial additional amount of imports in the
“Export-led growth will not be as easy for India as it was for the Asian
economies that took that path before.”
He also cautioned the Modi government against picking a particular sector such
as manufacturing for encouragement, simply because it had worked well for China.
The Government took the first step towards switching to a Goods and Service
Tax (GST) regime by introducing The Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill in the
Lok Sabha amid demands for referring it to a Departmental Standing Committee.
Though in favour of GST, Trinamool Congress opposed the introduction as some
concerns of West Bengal were not addressed and the AIADMK followed suit citing
irregularities and lacunae.
Introducing the Bill, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley pointed out that the
issue had been discussed by a Standing Committee in the past and was
non-committal on the Opposition demand.
Assuring MPs that he “would not rush through” the Bill, he indicated that the
Government was prepared to wait till the next session to get it passed.
Later, briefing mediapersons, he said in his “personal view” the Bill does not
need to be referred to a Standing Committee as it had already gone through the
process. He added that the Government was hoping to roll it out in April 2016.
Flagging key issues of concern, Mr. Jaitley said: “Service tax is entirely the
Centre’s domain now. It is going to be shared with States. Places like
Maharashtra, from where one-third of the national service tax comes, will
The State Cabinet approved the draft Capital Regional Development Authority
(CRDA) Bill with four changes. The Bill will be tabled in the Assembly on
Besides giving nod to the changes in CRDA Bill, the meeting chaired by Chief
Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu also discussed the Debt Redemption Scheme and the
strategy to be adopted in the Assembly.
The Cabinet approved transfer of assets and liabilities of Vijayawada-Guntur-Tenali-Mangalagiri Urban Development Authority to the CRDA.
The Chief Minister will be chairman of the 14-member CRDA and the Municipal
Administration Minister vice chairman.
The CRDA will have Rs. 1000 crore as development fund and Rs. 250 crore as
working capital. A detailed master plan for the capital region will be ready in
It is learnt that the Cabinet also approved increase in retirement age of
teachers in aided colleges from 58 years to 60 years and from 60 years to 62
years in the universities.
Another important decision taken by the Cabinet is to allow intra-State sale
of paddy and also allow export to other States if farmers themselves pay Central
The Cabinet which discussed various issues during the four-hour meeting
approved proposals to fill 4,000 field assistant posts under MNREGA and 6,000
posts in Panchayat Raj departments. .
India moved forward in rocket technology with the successful flight testing
of its heaviest next generation rocket and the crew module.
Precisely at 9.30 a.m., the 630-tonne Geosynchronous Satellite Launch
Vehicle-Mark III (GSLV Mark-III), standing 43.43-metre tall, freed itself from
the second launch pad and with a reverberating deep throated roar, rose into the
With a thick orange flame at its tail, the expendable rocket ascended towards
the heavens with one way ticket as its design life span is just around five
The Rs.155-crore mission has twin purposes. The main purpose is to test the
rocket’s atmospheric flight stability with around four tonne luggage.
The second and incidental objective is to study the re-entry characteristics
of the crew module — called Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment — its
aero braking and validation of its end-to-end parachute system.
According to an Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) official, it will be
of the size of a small bedroom and can accommodate two to three people.
Just over five minutes into the flight, the rocket spat out the giant cup cake
shaped 3.7-tonne crew module at an altitude of 126 km.
Amending the rules for voluntary disclosure of assets and liabilities by
government employees under the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, the Department of
Personnel and Training (DoPT) has effected some changes in the form, making it
mandatory for them to disclose deposits in foreign banks.
The deadline has been extended by four months from December 31. “Details of
deposits in the foreign bank (s) to be given separately,” states the DoPT order,
adding that government employees have to file statements of movable property
separately for self, spouse and dependent child.
While investments above Rs.2 lakh have to be reported individually, amounts
below that can be reported together. Apart from cash and bank balance,
government servants would now be required to also reveal details of other
movable assets including furniture, fixtures, antiques, paintings and electronic
However, this only if the total current value of any particular asset in any
particular category exceeds two months' basic pay or Rs. 1 lakh.
Another order amending the previous Lokpal and Lokayuktas (Removal of
Difficulties) Order, 2014, gives six months more to the government to make
further amendments to the rules formulated thereunder.
While the government intends to make all the declarations public, many
government officials have expressed concern that the information on their assets
could be misused. The latest order does not have any provision ensuring secrecy
of the disclosures made.