Posts tagged ‘Pranab Mukherjee’

03/10/2016

India tax amnesty draws $9.8bn in asset declarations — FT.com

Modi government claims progress in fulfilling election vow to crack down on ‘black money’

A four-month amnesty for tax evaders in India has resulted in the declaration of hidden assets worth nearly $10bn, the government has said, as it seeks to fulfil an election pledge to crack down on illicit “black money”.

The Income Declaration Scheme, which ran from June through September, allowed citizens to report assets previously undeclared to the tax authorities, without risk of prosecution. A charge of 45 per cent was to be levied on the assets declared under the scheme — one of the most conspicuous initiatives in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s drive to tackle widespread corruption that is seen as a significant drag on the economy.

Arun Jaitley, finance minister, told reporters at the weekend that assets worth Rs652.5bn ($9.8bn) had been declared under the scheme, implying a boost to government revenue of Rs294bn. The amnesty attracted 64,275 declarations, with the average amount declared standing at Rs10.2m. Mr Jaitley cited this to rebut prior fears that the initiative might not elicit a response from wealthy Indians.

New Delhi had not publicly stated a revenue target, but some media reports had said officials were aiming to uncover about Rs1tn in previously undeclared assets.

The initiative followed a similar one launched in 1997 that yielded revenue of Rs97.6bn, but Mr Jaitley said that the latest drive was firmer in its treatment of evaders, arguing that the previous effort had allowed them to make payments based on unduly low valuations of their assets.$9.8bnA

mount of assets declared under India’s four-month tax amnesty

Only about 4 per cent of Indian adults pay income tax, according to the government’s latest economic survey. While the annual income of most Indians is below the Rs250,000 threshold beyond which income tax is due, the slender income tax base also reflects the extent of economic activity that occurs through informal transactions beyond the oversight of tax officials. Such activity amounts to about 20 per cent of gross domestic product, according to a recent report by analysts at Ambit Institutional Equities. That report argued that heightened official scrutiny of domestic transactions had encouraged tax evaders to keep money in cash, hitting demand for formal banking services as well as for property and gold — asset classes commonly used to launder money. Liases Foras, a property research company, estimated in 2014 that 30 to 40 per cent of Indian real estate transactions involved an illicit cash payment.

Firm progress in reducing tax evasion would boost the credibility of Mr Modi’s government, which made this a key part of its 2014 election manifesto. $343bnEstimated amount of assets Indians sent abroad illicitly between 2002 and 2011Central to the drive has been the pursuit of funds concealed in offshore accounts, of which Mr Modi pledged before his election “to bring back every rupee … and use it for the welfare of the poor”.

The US-based group Global Financial Integrity has estimated that Indians sent $343bn of assets abroad illicitly between 2002 and 2011.Last year India’s parliament passed a law imposing criminal penalties for the illicit concealment of overseas assets. This year the government scrapped a treaty with Mauritius under which investments from the island state were exempted from capital gains tax: an arrangement that had been criticised for allowing wealthy Indians to “round-trip” illicit funds back into the country.

Source: India tax amnesty draws $9.8bn in asset declarations — FT.com

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16/06/2016

India Is Making Progress on Reducing Malnutrition But Now Has a Diabetes Problem – India Real Time – WSJ

While India has dramatically reduced its rate of child malnutrition, a new report points to the increasing burden of diabetes in the world’s second most populous country.

According to the 2016 Global Nutrition Report released Tuesday, India is reducing childhood stunting at double the rate it was a decade ago. Stunting, or low height for age, is caused by insufficient nutrient intake and frequent infections.

“That is highly significant given that India is home to more than one-third of the world’s stunting children,” the study said.

However, the country is facing a new health issue. India has a 9.5% prevalence of diabetes, putting it ahead of the U.K., with 7.8%, and the U.S., with 8.4%, the report showed.

Experts say the high sugar and trans-fat diet Indians consume are a key cause of the growing occurrence of diabetes, which is caused by a deficiency or inability of the body to effectively use insulin. Genetic factors and environmental influences exacerbate the issue.

In April, the WHO said that in India, more men die from diabetes than in any other country. The condition accounted for 2% of all deaths across age groups in India.

As a region, Asia has the highest prevalence of the condition, according to the Global Nutrition Report. Globally, one in 12 people have type 2 diabetes, the report said.“We must stem and tide,” Corinna Hawkes, co-chair of the Global Nutrition Report’s independent expert group said in a statement.

India also has a way to go to reduce stunting. India has the 18th highest prevalence, 38.7% among children under five, of 137 countries included in the Global Nutrition Report. That rate is down from 47.9% recorded a year earlier.

Indian states must set specific targets to help them meet global nutrition goals, while the federal government should devote $6 billion a year to combat nutrition, 13% more than it currently does, the report said.“At current rates of decline, India will achieve the current stunting rates of Ghana or Togo by 2030 and that of China by 2055,” the report said.

Source: India Is Making Progress on Reducing Malnutrition But Now Has a Diabetes Problem – India Real Time – WSJ

09/06/2016

China leads resistance to India joining nuclear export club | Reuters

China is leading opposition to a push by the United States and other major powers for India to join the main club of countries controlling access to sensitive nuclear technology, diplomats said on Thursday as the group discussed India’s membership bid.

Other countries opposing Indian membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) include New Zealand, Ireland, Turkey, South Africa and Austria, diplomats said.

The 48-nation NSG aims to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons by restricting the sale of items that can be used to make those arms.

India already enjoys most of the benefits of membership under a 2008 exemption to NSG rules granted to support its nuclear cooperation deal with Washington, even though India has developed atomic weapons and never signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the main global arms control pact.

Opponents argue that granting it membership would further undermine efforts to prevent proliferation. It would also infuriate India’s rival Pakistan, which responded to India’s membership bid with one of its own and has the backing of its close ally China.

“By bringing India on board, it’s a slap in the face of the entire non-proliferation regime,” a diplomatic source from one of a handful of countries resisting India’s push said on condition of anonymity.

A decision on Indian membership is not expected before an NSG plenary meeting in Seoul on June 20, but diplomats said Washington had been pressuring hold-outs, and Thursday’s closed-door meeting was a chance to see how strong opposition is.U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry wrote to members asking them “not to block consensus on Indian admission to the NSG” in a letter seen by Reuters and dated Friday.

China, however, showed no sign of backing down from its opposition to India joining unless Pakistan becomes a member. That would be unacceptable to many, given Pakistan’s track record — the father of its nuclear weapons program sold nuclear secrets to countries including North Korea and Iran.

“China, if anything, is hardening (its position),” another diplomat said.

Most of the hold-outs oppose the idea of admitting a non-NPT state such as India and argue that if it is to be admitted, it should be under criteria that apply equally to all states rather than under a “tailor-made” solution for a U.S. ally.

Mexico’s president said on Wednesday his country supports India’s membership bid, but one Vienna-based diplomat said it still opposed the idea of it joining under conditions that did not apply equally to all.

Source: China leads resistance to India joining nuclear export club | Reuters

10/02/2016

U.S. and India consider joint patrols in South China Sea – U.S. official | Reuters

The United States and India have held talks about conducting joint naval patrols that a U.S. defence official said could include the disputed South China Sea, a move that would likely anger Beijing, which claims most of the waterway.

An Indian Navy personnel gestures on the deck of the newly built INS Kochi, a guided missile destroyer, during a media tour at the naval dockyard in Mumbai, India September 28, 2015. REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade/Files

Washington wants its regional allies and other Asian nations to take a more united stance against China over the South China Sea, where tensions have spiked in the wake of Beijing’s construction of seven man-made islands in the Spratly archipelago.

India and the United States have ramped up military ties in recent years, holding naval exercises in the Indian Ocean that last year involved the Japanese navy.

But the Indian navy has never carried out joint patrols with another country and a naval spokesman told Reuters there was no change in the government’s policy of only joining an international military effort under the United Nations flag.

He pointed to India’s refusal to be part of anti-piracy missions involving dozens of countries in the Gulf of Aden and instead carrying out its own operations there since 2008.

The U.S. defence official said the two sides had discussed joint patrols, adding that both were hopeful of launching them within the year. The patrols would likely be in the Indian Ocean where the Indian navy is a major player as well as the South China Sea, the official told Reuters in New Delhi on condition of anonymity.

The official gave no details on the scale of the proposed patrols.

There was no immediate comment from China, which is on a week-long holiday for Chinese New Year.

China accused Washington this month of seeking maritime hegemony in the name of freedom of navigation after a U.S. Navy destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles of a disputed island in the Paracel chain of the South China Sea in late January.

The U.S. Navy conducted a similar exercise in October near one of China’s artificial islands in the Spratlys.

Source: Exclusive: U.S. and India consider joint patrols in South China Sea – U.S. official | Reuters

01/06/2015

Pranab in Sweden, key pacts to be signed – The Hindu

President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday arrived here on the first leg of his five-day state visit to Sweden and Belarus, the first ever by any Indian head of State, during which a number of key agreements on sustainable development, scientific research are likely to be signed.

Sweden's Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel receive President Pranab Mukherjee at Arlanda airport, north of Stockholm.

On his arrival, Mr. Mukherjee was received by Crown Princess Victoria at the Arland airport. Later, he was received at the Royal Mews by the King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia from where he was taken on a horse-drawn cortege to the Royal Palace, where the traditional welcoming ceremony took place.

Earlier in New Delhi, he was given a ceremonial send-off at Rashtrapati Bhavan by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Vice President Hamid Ansari, Delhi Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and the three Service Chiefs.

During his three-day State visit in Sweden, the President will meet Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, the Speaker of the Swedish Parliament, and the Leader of Opposition, Anna Kinberg Batra besides number of meetings with the King and the Queen. The visit will focus on innovation, sustainable development, urban development and scientific research with both countries exploring ways to enhance mutual exchange in the areas of trade and science.

via Pranab in Sweden, key pacts to be signed – The Hindu.

17/09/2014

Indian President flies out of Vietnam

President Pranab Mukherjee Wednesday wrapped up his four-day state visit to Vietnam and flew back to India.

During the President’s visit, India and Vietnam called for a peaceful, unfettered South China Sea, inked seven agreements including for direct Delhi-Hanoi flights and an extended line of credit for purchase of military equipment. Both countries also set a target of $15 billion bilateral trade by 2020

via President flies out of Vietnam.

09/06/2014

Highlights – President Pranab Mukherjee’s address to parliament – Reuters

The new government will pursue an economic reform agenda that foresees introducing the goods and services tax, encouraging foreign investment and speeding approvals for major business projects, President Pranab Mukherjee said in a parliamentary address on Monday.

Mukherjee also said the focus of the Modi government would be to:

– contain food inflation

– improve supply side of agro-based products

– prepare contingency plans for sub-normal monsoons

– increase public and private investments in agriculture

– address issues in farm pricing and procurement

– set up IITs and IIMs in every state

– have zero tolerance against violence against women and will strengthen criminal justice system

– tackle illegal immigration and infiltration in the north east region

– roll out broadband highways in every village in next five years

– vigorously follow up issue of black money with foreign governments

– focus on social media as a tool for participative governance

– provide predictable, fair and stable policy environment

– make every effort to introduce goods and services tax

– encourage investment through foreign direct investment

– promote labour-intensive manufacturing, tourism for job creation

– move towards a single-window system of clearances to promote manufacturing

– fast-track investment friendly public, private partnership

– liberalise foreign direct investments in defence

– encourage private investments in defence production

– implement reforms in defence procurement

– take up modernisation and revamp of railways on priority

– chalk out infrastructure development programmes for high-speed rails, roads and airports

– launch comprehensive national energy policy and focus on increasing electricity generation

– urgently pursue reforms in coal to attract private investments

– operationalise international civilian nuclear pacts

– ensure every family has good house by 2022

– ensure 24×7 electricity supply by 2022

– follow zero tolerance towards extremism, terrorism and communal violence

– formulate clear rules for allocation of coal, minerals and telecoms spectrum

– work towards putting economy on high growth path

– engage energetically with neighbours, including China

– bring renewed vigour in its engagement with the United States

via India Insight.

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05/02/2014

Modi takes on Third Front parties – The Hindu

“Time has come to bid farewell to this idea of Third Front from Indian politics forever,” the BJP Prime Ministerial candidate told a party rally in Kolkata.

BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi addresses a party rally at Brigade Parade grounds in Kolkata on Wednesday. Photo: Sushanta Patronobish

Making his debut in West Bengal in the campaign for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Narendra Modi on Wednesday launched a blistering attack on the Left parties and the Third Front, saying they will make India a “third-rate” country.

Trying to strike a chord with the Bengalis, he accused the Congress of denying Pranab Mukherjee the Prime Minister’s chair in 2004 even though he “deserved” it.

Mr. Modi was severe in his criticism of the Left parties and their partners, saying they have destroyed the eastern region of the country by their rule while western India has shown progress because they had never ruled that region.

“These people (Left and its associates) who do politics in the name of secularism practice the politics of vote-bank by misleading Muslims. They destroyed the eastern region. You must banish them from the Indian politics forever,” he said in a speech interspersed with some sentences in Bengali.

via Modi takes on Third Front parties – The Hindu.

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26/01/2014

Colourful Republic Day parade dazzles Rajpath – The Hindu

Multi-hued images of India’s rich cultural heritage, its achievements in diverse fields and military prowess were on majestic display at the magnificent Rajpath, the ceremonial boulevard, in Delhi on Sunday, as the nation celebrated its 65th Republic Day amid tight security.

T-90 tanks rolling down the Rajpath during the Republic Day parade, in New Delhi on Sunday. Photo: Sandeep Saxena

Marching down from the seat of power at Raisina Hills to Red Fort, the parade showcased India’s ‘unity in diversity’ and defence capability as thousands of spectators along the 8-km-long route cheered the contingents and the mechanised columns.

The well-turned out and synchronised military and police contingents led by General Officer Commanding (Delhi), Lt General Subroto Mitra, marched proudly to the lilting tunes of bands through Rajpath where President Pranab Mukherjee took the salute.

The march past was watched by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the chief guest of the Republic Day celebration, Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and the country’s top political and military brass, besides the diplomatic community.

via Colourful Republic Day parade dazzles Rajpath – The Hindu.

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01/12/2013

China, India spar over disputed border | Reuters

China on Saturday urged India not to aggravate problems on the border shared by the two nations, a day after the Indian president toured a disputed region and called it an integral part of the country.

China's President Xi Jinping (R) talks with India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (L) during a meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing October 23, 2013. REUTERS/Peng Sun/Pool

The two countries, which fought a brief border war in 1962, only last month signed a pact to ensure that differences on the border do not spark a confrontation.

But Indian President Pranab Mukherjee\’s visit to the state of Arunachal Pradesh in the remote eastern stretch of the Himalayas that China claims as its own provoked a fresh exchange of words.

\”We hope that India will proceed along with China, protecting our broad relationship, and will not take any measures that could complicate the problem, and together we can protect peace and security in the border regions,\” China\’s official news agency, Xinhua, quoted Qin Gang, a spokesman of the country\’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as saying.

\”Currently Sino-India relations are developing favorably and both sides are going through special envoy meetings and amicable discussions to resolve the border dispute between our two countries.\”

Mukherjee was on a routine visit to Arunachal which has been part of the Indian state for decades, and where India has regularly been holding elections. But China has of late grown increasingly assertive and questioned New Delhi\’s claims over the territory, calling it instead South Tibet.

Mukherjee told members of the state\’s legislative assembly it was \”a core stakeholder in India\’s Look East foreign policy\” that intends to link the country\’s northeast with South East Asia.

\”We seek to make our neighbors partners in our development,\” Mukherjee said in Itanagar, the state capital. \”We believe that India\’s future and our own best economic interests are served by closer integration with Asia.\”

China lays claim to more than 90,000 sq km (35,000 sq miles) disputed by New Delhi in the eastern sector of the Himalayas, while India says China occupies 38,000 square km of its territory on the Aksai Chin plateau in the west.

via China, India spar over disputed border | Reuters.

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