India set to become water scarce by 2025: report

N. Korea says no to Iran-like deal

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6.N. Korea says no to Iran-like deal

North Korea said on Tuesday it had no interest in following Iran down the path of nuclear dialogue, insisting it was already a nuclear weapons state and therefore beyond any logical comparison with Tehran.

One week after the historic deal that cleared a path to lift sanctions crippling Iran’s economy in exchange for limits on its nuclear programme, Pyongyang rejected any suggestion that it might follow suit.

North Korea “is not interested at all in the dialogue to discuss the issue of making it freeze or dismantle its nukes unilaterally,” a foreign ministry spokesman said.

“It is illogical to compare Iran’s nuclear agreement with the situation of (North Korea) which is exposed to constant provocative military hostile acts and the biggest nuclear threat of the U.S.,” the spokesman told the North’s official KCNA news agency.

Both Tehran and Pyongyang, allies since Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution, have been subjected to tough economic sanctions over their controversial nuclear programmes.

The deal reached with Iran was touted by some as a possible blueprint for eventual negotiations with North Korea, with U.S. Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman saying she hoped it would give Pyongyang “second thoughts” about the nuclear path it was pursuing.

But the North’s foreign ministry spokesman said the two situations were “quite different“.

North Korea “is a nuclear weapons state both in name and reality and it has interests as a nuclear weapons state,” he said.

North Korea has staged three successful nuclear tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013.

The six-nation talks to curb its nuclear ambitions-- involving both Koreas, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan --have been in limbo since Pyongyang stormed out in 2009. — AFP



1.Spotlight on Indian American’s book

A documentary based on Pulitzer Prize winner and Indian American doctor Siddhartha Mukherjee’s book on cancer “ EMPEROR OF ALL MALADIES “ has been nominated for an Emmy Award.

2.Rural electrification scheme to be launched on Saturday

Ahead of the Bihar Assembly elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch the government’s flagship Deendayal Upadhyaya Rural Electrification Programme on July 25 in Patna, Minister for Power, Coal and New and Renewable Energy Piyush Goyal said on Wednesday.

“The Prime Minister will launch the Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) on July 25 in Patna. It is a national scheme and is open for all the States,” the Minister told reporters here.

The Rs. 43,033-crore rural electrification scheme, which will replace the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY), was approved by the Cabinet last November.

Government to replace all incandescent bulbs in the country with LED lights in next three years

3.India protested U.S. sales: Sushma

India has “conveyed concerns” to the U.S. over its approval of military sales including attack helicopters and Hellfire missiles worth nearly a billion dollars to Pakistan, the government said on Wednesday.

In a written reply to a question in Parliament, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said India had “noted” the State Department’s decision to go ahead with the defence sales, which were announced in April this year. The sales included 15 AH-1Z attack helicopters, 1,000 Hellfire missiles, engines, targeting and positioning systems and other equipment worth $952 million.

“The government has consistently conveyed to the U.S. that it must take into account India-U.S. relations and the impact on India’s security in deciding its military assistance to Pakistan,” Ms. Swaraj said.

MEA sources told The Hindu that the concerns had been conveyed at “various levels, both to the State Department and to the White House”, without disclosing exact dates, or what the U.S. response was.

The government’s statement is the first time that India has articulated its objections over sales to Pakistan quite so clearly. The decision to arm Pakistan was particularly upsetting as President Obama had announced an accompanying aid outlay of $1 billion for the year, as well as a six-fold increase in FMF or Foreign Military Financing to $265 million within days of visiting India in January this year.

Not for offensive capabilities’

To questions about the announcement of the added military sales, State Department spokesperson Marie Harf had said they were not meant for offensive capabilities. “They are for internal counter-terrorism uses inside Pakistan — so to be very clear about that, going after terrorists inside their own country,” Ms. Harf said on April 8 this year. A recent Congressional report has also disclosed that the U.S. has given military hardware, including F-16 fighter planes to Pakistan amounting to $5.4 billion since the 9/11 terror attacks.

In her statement, Ms. Swaraj said the government “keeps a constant watch on all developments that have a bearing on national interest and takes necessary steps to safeguard it.”

India also took up China’s announcement of a $46 billion package for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, that included funding development projects in Pakistan occupied Kashmir when Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing in May, and Ms. Swaraj had raised concerns over the Russian offer of Mi-35 helicopters to Pakistan when she met Deputy Prime Minister Rogozin in 2014.

The Pakistan government has criticised India for expressing such concerns in the past.

The hardware includes 15 AH-1Z attack helicopters, 1,000 Hellfire missiles, targeting & positioning systems

4.Mandarin lessons for ITBP

Taking forward its intention to avoid any skirmish at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force (ITBP) is not only making its men well-versed in Mandarin, but also giving them lessons in the Tibetan language.

For the first time, a Chinese Language Cell has been created at the ITBP Academy in Mussoorie to teach Mandarin.

5.‘N-power output set to register huge increase’

Nuclear power generation in India which is currently at 5,780 MW from 21 operational reactors is expected to increase to 10,080 MW on progressive completion of projects under commissioning/ construction by 2019, the government informed Parliament.

A capacity of 1,000 MW has already been added with the start of commercial operation of Unit-1 at Kudankulam in December 2014. In addition, one Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor of 500 MW capacity at Kalpakkam is in advanced stage of commissioning while approvals have been accorded for several other projects.

To facilitate import of reactors from foreign countries, an Indian Nuclear Insurance Pool (INIP) of Rs 1500 crore was launched on June 12, 2015 by General Insurance Corporation of India to provide insurance cover to the liability as prescribed under Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act 2010. 

6.Panel rejects demand for lowering Centre’s say

The Congress in its dissent note to the Rajya Sabha Select Committee on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill opposed the plan to allow the States to levy 1 per cent additional manufacturing tax.

The AIADMK’s note said the GST Council, as a constitutional body, “impinged” on the legislative sovereignty of both Parliament and the State legislature and would jeopardise the autonomy of the States in fiscal matters.

Significantly, the committee rejected the Opposition’s demand for lowering the Centre’s say in the GST Council. It recommended that the representation in this decision-making body be retained at the proposed level of one-third of the total for the Centre and two-thirds for the States.

“Accepting the Congress’s demand for reducing the Centre’s representation to one-fourth opens up the possibility of the States always overruling the Centre, and it would cease to have a say on the GST,” a top government source told The Hindu .

On the States’ demand for the levy of one per cent additional tax over and above the GST on inter-State supply of goods, the committee recommended an amendment. As the proposed levy was likely to have a cascading effect on taxes, it should be on “all forms of supply made for a consideration,” it said.

A committee, headed by Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian, has been deliberating on ways of reducing the cascading effects of the proposed additional levy.

Accepting the Congress demand for reducing Centre’s representation to one-fourth opens up possibility of States overruling the Centre”

7.China has rigs close to disputed waters: Japan

China has put 16 drilling rigs close to its de facto maritime border with Japan, Tokyo said Wednesday, in the latest twist in a row over gas fields in waters disputed by the two countries.

The Japanese government released diagrams showing the location of platforms which it says could exploit undersea reserves over which the two countries are at loggerheads.

“It is extremely deplorable that China is unilaterally developing resources while the border has not been settled,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters.

The platforms have all appeared despite a June 2008 agreement in which the two countries said they would jointly develop the area in the wake of friction over who had the rights to exploit the resources.

Of the 16, 12 have been installed in the last two years, Japan said. — AFP


1.Govt. proposes to strip RBI chief of veto power on monetary policy

The Union government on Thursday proposed to strip the Reserve Bank Governor’s veto vote on India’s monetary policy. The government also proposed to grant itself the power to appoint four of the six members of the Monetary Policy Committee, whose remit will include decisions on setting interest rates to maintain inflation at the targeted level.

The revised draft of the Indian Financial Code, put out by the Union Finance Ministry for comments, proposes that the Reserve Bank “Chairperson” shall head the committee, with no reference to the Governor. It is not clear from the draft if a re-designation is planned.

An earlier draft had proposed to give the Governor the right to overrule the monetary policy committee decision. If the inflation target is not met, then the Reserve Bank will have to explain the reasons and propose remedial actions.

Under the revised draft, the non-government members of the committee are to be drawn from the Reserve Bank.

The Reserve Bank’s Board will nominate one of its executives as the fifth member of the committee. The “Chairperson” will nominate one of its employees as the sixth member.

The move comes in the wake of a severe breakdown of talks between the Centre and the Reserve Bank over amendments to the RBI Act, which Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had announced in his Budget speech.

Seeing the Reserve Bank’s opposition to them, the Finance Minister later dropped the proposed amendments from the Finance Bill.

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