Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu and his Chinese counterpart, Zhong Shan,
met for the first high-level contact between both sides that decided to
“reset” their ties this year in the run-up to a Xi-Modi summit meeting in
Mr. Zhong, who co-chaired the 11th meeting of the India-China Joint
Group on Economic Relations, Trade, Science and Technology with Mr. Prabhu,
said a free trade agreement (FTA) between India and China would be
negotiated in due course, which would be a breakthrough in ties.
Since 2014, President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have
met on several occasions.
With the care and personal support of the Chinese and Indian leaders,
the trade and economic ties between the two countries had kept a
In 2017, the bilateral trade reached $84.4 billion, registering a growth
of 20.3% from the year before and a record high.
In particular, China’s import from India soared by 40%, helping ease the
bilateral trade imbalance. China remained India’s largest trading partner.
India had become one of the most important overseas investment
destinations for Chinese companies.
Mr. Zhong said that at the 11th session JEG meeting, he and Mr. Prabhu
had in-depth discussions and the two sides had reached a series of important
First, the two sides would jointly promote the synergy between China’s
Belt and Road initiative and India’s development strategies, including the
“15-year Development Agenda”, “Make in India” and “Digital India” to deepen
mutually-beneficial cooperation and share development experience.
Second, the two sides would promote India’s exports to China so as to
address the trade imbalance between the two countrie. China would provide
Indian participants with preferential arrangements.
Third, the two sides agreed to set up a special working group to draw a
road map for developing two-way trade.
The two sides supported the multilateral trading system and safeguard
the interests of developing members.
Both sides would demonstrate flexibility to reach at an early date a
modern, comprehensive and mutually beneficial RCEP agreement of high
The two sides are also considering positively launching in due course
negotiations on a regional trade arrangement or free trade agreement between
China and India.
India-US: Naval Training
Indian Navy’s Talwar class frigate INS Tarkash carried out a “greeting
and training” exercise with the U.S. Navy’s Theodore Roosevelt Carrier
Strike Group (TRCSG) which was until now involved in operations against the
Islamic State in the Arabian Gulf.
INS Tarkash sailed in formation with aircraft carrier USS Theodore
Roosevelt , guided-missile destroyer USS Preble (DDG 88) and other ships on
March 25 as part of the exercise, the U.S. Embassy said here in a statement.
During the exercise, personnel from both sides “practised working
together and strengthened their crews’ ship handling,” the embassy said.
Ten Indian sailors toured spaces aboard Preble such as a combat
information centre, a central control station and the bridge, while 10
Preble sailors visitedTarkash , the statement said.
USS Preble is currently deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of
operations with the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt , the flagship
of Carrier Strike Group 9, along with the guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker
Hill , and guided-missile destroyers USS Halsey , USS Higgins and USS
The TRCSG will now be in the U.S. 7th Fleet area responsible for
counter-piracy, freedom of navigation operations and training.
Polygamy in Muslim marriage law to be examined by SC
Seven months after it declared instant triple talaq unconstitutional,
the Supreme Court decided to look into the constitutional validity of the
prevalent practices of polygamy, ‘nikah halala’, ‘nikah mutah’ and ‘nikah
misyar’ in the Muslim community.
A Bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, issued notices to the
Centre and the Law Ministry on a bunch of petitions that have challenged the
practices claiming they degrade women to a position inferior to that of men.
The Bench, also comprising Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud,
agreed to set up a five-judge Constitution Bench that will decide whether
certain sections of the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act go
against the Constitution.
In its landmark verdict of August last, which had struck down instant
triple talaq, the court had kept open the issue of polygamy, ‘nikah halala’,
‘nikah mutah’ and ‘nikah misyar.’
The petition said the Muslim Personal Law allows a man to marry up to
four wives, which it said “treats women as men’s chattel, and reduces their
status to an object of desire to be possessed by men.”
It has contended that the prevalent Muslim Personal Law rendered Section
494 of IPC (which prescribes punishment for marrying again during lifetime
of husband or wife) as inapplicable.
Her plea also claimed that the Muslim wife does not have avenue to
complain against her husband for the offence of bigamy.
Home Ministry caution to Armed forces in Valley
The Home Ministry has cautioned security forces to avoid civilian
killings in J&K at all costs.
The Centre has sent a message to the Army, the Central Armed Police
Forces and the State police not to kill civilians.
The Centre and the State government want to ensure a peaceful summer, as
tourism has taken a massive hit in the past two years due to a series of
encounters and protests.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has also made it clear that the panchayat
elections should be held after the tourist season is over.
According to the Home Ministry’s data, as many as 64 incidents of
‘terrorist violence’ were reported till March 11 in J&K, where two civilians
were killed. Last year, 39 terrorist-related incidents were reported during
the same period.
In 2016-17, as many as 664 terrorist-related incidents were reported,
whereas in 2015, there were 208 such incidents.
Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba and Joint Secretary Gyanesh Kumar
visited Srinagar, where they are learnt to have reviewed the security
situation and the pending infrastructure projects in the State.
The situation in the Kashmir Valley has been fragile since July 8, 2016
when Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani and two others were killed in
an encounter with security forces. The Valley was rocked by violent
US expels 60 Russians, UK 23, Ukraine 13, Canada 4
The U.S. expelled 60 Russian officials and ordered the closure of the
consulate in Seattle, as ties between the nuclear powers continue to
Of the 60 being asked to leave, 48 are posted at the Russian embassy and
12 are at the Russian mission to the United Nations in New York.
U.S. administration officials said the officials and their families have
been given seven days to leave the U.S.
The U.S. takes this action in conjunction with our NATO allies and
partners around the world in response to Russia’s use of a military-grade
chemical weapon on the soil of the United Kingdom.
The actions make the United States safer by reducing Russia’s ability to
spy on Americans and to conduct covert operations that threaten America’s
The statement said, “With these steps, the U.S. and our allies and
partners make clear to Russia that its actions have consequences. The United
States stands ready to cooperate to build a better relationship with Russia,
but this can only happen with a change in the Russian government’s
Diplomatic tensions between US-Russia since last year
During his last weeks in office Barack Obama expelled 35 Russian
diplomats from America and ordered the seizure of two Russian properties, in
Maryland and New York.
Kremlin did not immediately retaliate, hoping that the incoming Trump
administration would try to mend ties.
In July 2017, the U.S. Congress imposed new sanctions against Russia for
alleged interference in the election. Russia retaliated with the expulsion
of nearly 800 American officials.
In response, the U.S. expelled more Russian diplomats and ordered the
closure of the Russian consulate in San Francisco in August.
The President and the members of his national security team are not
always on the same page on the question of dealing with Russia.
Soon after the President congratulated Russian President Vladimir Putin
for his reelection last week, information leaked that he did so ignoring the
notes before him that specifically advised him not to congratulate.
The departure of H.R. McMaster as NSA was hastened by the leak of Mr.
Trump’s phone conversation with Mr. Putin, according to some reports.
John Bolton, handpicked by Mr. Trump to succeed Mr. McMaster as NSA, is
a known hawk on Russia. Officials told reporters that Mr.
Trump was involved in the deliberations over the weekend that culminated
On March 16, the U.S. had imposed sanctions against 19 Russian
individuals and five entities for interfering in the 2016 election and for
Govt. gross borrowing in H1 to touch 2.88 lakh crore
The Centre would borrow Rs. 2.88 lakh crore in the April-September
period of next fiscal, which is 47.56% of the budgeted gross borrowing.
In April-September of the current fiscal, gross borrowing was Rs. 3.72
Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg said the government
would issue inflation-indexed bonds linked to the CPI or retail inflation.
Also, government securities of 1-4 years duration would be introduced.
He said that the budgeted gross borrowing through bonds for fiscal
2018-19 was Rs. 6.05 lakh crore which would be used to fund the fiscal
deficit of 3.3% of GDP.
The 47.56% figure in the first half is lower than the average of 60-65%
in the last five years.
Mr. Garg said in the next fiscal the G-sec buyback would be pared by Rs.
The Centre would also withdraw up to Rs. 1 lakh crore from the National
Small Savings Fund — Rs. 25,000 crore more than in the current fiscal — to
fund the fiscal deficit.
Along with the change in proportion of issuance in various maturity
buckets, it would help to cool bond yields.
Losses in Lanka IOC results in increase of prices
Lanka IOC, a subsidiary of Indian Oil Corporation, has increased retail
prices for petrol and diesel after about five years, to cope with heavy
Losses incurred since 2015, coupled with the Sri Lankan government’s
apparent reluctance to come up with a revised pricing formula — which
corresponds to international prices — have compelled Lanka IOC to raise the
price of petrol by nine rupees, to LKR 126 per litre and the retail price of
diesel by five rupees, to LKR 100 per litre during the weekend, the company
Lanka IOC — which controls a third of the island’s market, operating 189
fuel stations across the nation — has incurred losses over the last four
consecutive quarters, with a cumulative loss of about LKR 1.3 billion.
The state-owned Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) controls the rest of
Following pressure from different quarters including the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) to boost revenue, the government increased the excise
duty on diesel in recent years, but there has not been a corresponding
increase in retail prices, putting oil firms under considerable pressure.
The CPC is yet to indicate its position on a possible increase in fuel
SMEs in India are focus of Universal robots
Universal Robots, the world’s largest manufacturer and supplier of
collaborative robot, or cobot, arms, is focusing on small and medium
enterprises (SMEs) to grow its business in India, the company’s top
Over two years, the robotics firm has supplied 400 cobots to companies
in India, of which 10% have been sold to SMEs.
Mr. Hollen said that towards the end of calendar 2019, the company’s
current facility in Denmark would become saturated, making it necessary to
set up another factory which is expected to be in Asia.