Category Archives: current-topic-views
India finally had something to cheer in the lawn bowls event as the Women’s Fours Sectional Play team comprising Farzana Khan, Lovely Choubey, Rupa Rani Tirkey and Nayanmoni Saikia beat England 21-9 at the 21st Commonwealth Games on Friday.
Returning to the fray after serving out a two-year suspension, two-time winners Chennai Super Kings will take on reigning champions Mumbai Indians in the lung-opener of the Indian Premier League on Saturday.
A day after Sensex surged nearly 600 points, investors traded cautiously as they looked to book profits ahead of the weekend. The Street in fact opened moderately in the red in the morning, but strong global cues and healthy macroeconomic indicators led the indices to top previous closing marks.
The IT and metal sub-indices finished in the red while pharma, FMCG and PSU bank outperformed.
ICICI Bank, Tata Steel and Maruti stocks gained the most while Bharti Airtel, Infosys and Larsen & Toubro were the major losers.
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia‘s Prime Minister Najib Razak announced the dissolution of parliament on Friday, paving the way for a tough election where the embattled leader will face off against his old mentor and the country’s most seasoned campaigner Mahathir Mohamad.
Najib, 64, burdened by a multi-billion dollar scandal linked to a state fund, is under pressure to deliver an emphatic win for his Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition as he struggles to appease Malaysians unhappy with rising costs and blunt the challenge from the charismatic 92-year-old Mahathir.
Najib is expected to retain power due to a deep rift in opposition ranks between Mahathir’s bloc and the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, but analysts predict a tough fight from Mahathir, who transformed Malaysia into an industrial nation from a rural backwater during his iron-fisted 22-year rule until 2003.
Najib’s opponents say the election will be unfair. In the lead up to the polls, the parliament approved plans to redraw electoral boundaries and passed a contentious anti-fake news bill, changes his opponents claim favour Najib and his ruling allies. The government rejects the charge.
“The king has permitted for parliament to be dissolved effective Saturday, April 7,” Najib said in a special announcement on the state TV broadcaster on Friday.
“If victory is given to BN, we promise to do our best, to carry out a bigger, more inclusive and more comprehensive transformation of the country,” Najib said.
Polling must be held within 60 days from the dissolution of parliament. The Election Commission is expected to meet within the week to announce a date for the vote.
Najib’s announcement comes on the back of robust growth for Malaysia, buoyed by a recovery in global crude oil prices and increased trade and infrastructure investment from Malaysia’s largest trading partner, China.
A general election was widely expected to be called last year, but Najib held off, apparently to allow time for the introduction of budgetary reforms aimed at lower income families and rural voters – a key supporter bloc for his coalition.
Mahathir, who was himself criticised for his authoritarian premiership, said at a press conference after the announcement that this would be a “dirty election”.
“Should Najib win this election through his tricks and his cheating, then we can kiss goodbye to democracy in the 15th, 16th, 17th elections,” Mahathir told reporters.
Najib resisted demands to step down in mid-2015 following reports of financial mismanagement at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), including that $681 million was deposited into his personal bank account.
Najib has denied any wrongdoing with 1MDB, but the scandal created a rift between him and Mahathir, who has become the prime minister’s harshest critic.
With the common goal of taking down Najib, Mahathir has joined hands with his former deputy and jailed opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, ending a bitter feud that had shaped the country’s political narrative over two decades.
Najib’s United Malay National Organisation (UMNO) party heads the ruling coalition that has held power since Malaysia’s independence in 1957.
The coalition lost the popular vote in the last election, in 2013, but Najib held on to power with a smaller majority in parliament. Malaysia has a first-past-the-post election system, which is based on the number of seats won, not the popular vote.
Even if Najib’s coalition retains power, a weak victory could lead to an internal leadership challenge against him.
His predecessor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, had to step down after the coalition lost its two-thirds majority in the 222-seat parliament for the first time in 2008.
“He wants not only to win, but to win big,” said Yang Razali Kassim, senior fellow at S Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) in Singapore.
But he warned that this election could be a close call.
“This will in fact be the most unpredictable general election in Malaysian politics,” he said.
SINGAPORE: Indian firms can leverage on state-of-the-art technologies and emerging fields such as artificial intelligence to reimagine production and leapfrog the economy, CEO of National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) Amitabh Kant said on Friday.
He also said that India needs to focus on design and innovation to become a major manufacturing hub.
Addressing an annual International Conference on South Asia “Emerging South Asia: Politics, Economy and International Relations”, organised by a think tank of National University of Singapore — the Institute of South Asian Studies, Kant said India, in recent years, has channelled public funds to spur innovation.
“We need to focus on design and innovation, to become a major manufacturing hub,” he said and cited market estimates that artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to add over USD 900 billion to the Indian economy by 2035.
He also said that the technology was being used to increase eficiency and enhance governance across the government.
Kant said that the government has also been giving a huge impetus to entrepreneurship.
“As of last month, 437 schemes across 57 ministeries are covered under the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) programme. DBT has led to the removal of duplicate and fake beneficiaries and reduced leakages.
“The government has approximately saved about USD 12.7 billion. Similarly, under the JAM Trinity (Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and Mobile Technology), the government had made tremendous progress in enhancing financial inclusion,” said Kant.
India has also relaxed 87 rules on the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) across 21 sectors, he told around 240 delegates at the conference.
“Over 1,200 redundant laws have been scrapped. These efforts have been showing phenomenal results. FDI is at an all-time high. Between 2014 and 2017, India received USD 160 billion FDI.”
The government, he said, has also been providing a huge impetus to entrepreneurship.
Since the launch of ‘Startup India’ in 2016, more than 8,200 startups have been recognised by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion.
“The release of innovation and startup policies of various states and Union Territories remove the informational barriers and policy uncertainty around the innovation ecosystem,” he said.
He higlighted the Micro Units Development and Refinancing Agency (MUDRA), which provides loans to small and micro enterprises. “Nearly 79 per cent of MUDRA’s loan beneficiaries are women entrepreneurs.”
Touching on gender parity, he said the government has removed key impediments to women’s labour force participation by easing access to credit under MUDRA.
The Indian Premier League (IPL) keeps getting bigger with each passing edition and the return of MS Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Shane Warne-coached Rajasthan Royals for the 11th edition only adds to the cult of the most popular Twenty20 league in the world.
The announcement of the service, which Swift claimed as being more transparent, comes weeks after the discovery of one of the largest banking frauds to be detected in Indian history, the Rs 12,900-crore Nirav Modi scam at the Punjab National Bank (PNB).
The Swift platform was allegedly used by erring officials of PNB to initiate messages based on which payments were made to Modi’s purported overseas suppliers. The scam has led to a slew of changes, including a ban on the letters of undertaking (LoU), which can hurt importers.
“International trade is the backbone of globalisation and an imperative for India to grow,” Swift’s head for Indian subcontinent, Kiran Shetty, said in a statement.
The statement said the newly launched service will help all the corporates in the country.
The service enables real-time payments tracking across correspondent banks and has a facility to track the payments instructions across the correspondent banks globally, it said.
The cooperative is also looking to add features to it, including an ability to stop and recall payment in case of a fraud or when a duplicate payment has been sent erroneously.
Shetty said the powerful economies look for a trusted trading partner, and claimed the new service ‘Swift gpi’ will help in ease of doing business.
He added “hundreds of thousands” of gpi (global payments innovation) payments are already being sent daily and being settled in minutes, and even seconds.
ICICI Bank’s executive director Vijay Chandok said it is committed to improve transparency and the new service helps it deliver a totally new standard.
Joshna Chinappa continued her good run at the 21st Commonwealth Games as the Indian squash player defeated lower-ranked Tamika Saxby of Australia in round-of-16 women’s singles match while her compatriot Dipika Pallikal lost at the Oxenford Studios on Friday.