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LIVE! CEA Arvind Subramanian thanks 'fantastic boss' Jaitley after Economic Survey

13:46  CEA Arvind Subramanian thanks ‘fantastic boss’ Jaitley after Economic Survey:   Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian addresses the media after tabling of the Economic Survey. The Economic Survey projects the official version of the state of the economy and is presented in Parliament a day before the presentation of the annual Budget. It acts as a precursor to the budget. It discusses the outlook, prospects and challenges of the economy while recommending reform measures that are essential to propel and thrive the economy.

Subramanian begins by thanking his “fantastic boss”, the finance minister Arun Jaitley. Alludes to Amitabh Bachchan saying the budget should have drama. He says the past year has had robust macroeconomic stability but  full remonetisation is essential. Tax harassment and arbitrariness could hurt credibility.

India’s economic growth has been pegged at 6.5 per cent for the current fiscal, down from 7.6 per cent recorded in the last financial year, but is expected to rebound in the range of 6.75-7.5 per cent in 2017-18.

13:32  After sacking attorney gen, Trump fires acting Immigration Enforcement head:  US President Donald Trump has appointed Thomas D Homan as the new acting director of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, replacing Daniel Ragsdale.

According to the Washington Post, no reason has been given for his removal as yet.

Ragsdale was a holdover from the Obama administration.

Earlier today, Trump had fired the federal government’s top lawyer, Sally Yates, after she took the extraordinarily rare step of defying the White House and saying that the Justice Department would not defend his new travel restrictions targeting seven Muslim-majority nations.

Mark A. Morgan, the chief of the U.S. Border Patrol, also was removed from his post this month. He had clashed with the powerful Border Patrol Union, which had endorsed Trump for president.

Homan, who has 30 years of immigration enforcement experience, had worked since 2013 as the executive associate director of ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations. He was honored with an award last year for his work deporting illegal immigrants.


13:24  H1B Bill tabled in US Congress, Indian IT companies’ stocks crash:   Just in: A legislation has been introduced in the US House of Representatives which among other things calls for more than doubling the minimum salary of H-1B visa holders to USD 130,000, making it difficult for firms to use the programme to replace American employees with foreign workers, including from India.Stocks of Indian IT companies crash by between 5 and 10 per cent.

After the new US president banned refugees and travellers from seven predominantly Muslim countries, Trump’s next step — the H1B visa bill —  strikes closer to home.

A legislation has been introduced in the US House of Representatives which among other things calls for more than doubling the minimum salary of H-1B visa holders to $130,000, making it difficult for firms to use the programme to replace American employees with foreign workers, including from India.

The High-Skilled Integrity and Fairness Act of 2017 introduced by California Congressman Zoe Lofgren prioritises market based allocation of visas to those companies willing to pay 200 per cent of a wage calculated by survey, eliminates the category of lowest pay, and raises the salary level at which H-1B dependent employer are exempt from non displacement and recruitment attestation requirements to greater than $130,000.

This is more than double of the current H-1B minimum wage of $60,000 which was established in 1989 and since then has remained unchanged.

12:57  India GDP 7.1%, says Economic Survey :  BREAKING: India’s GDP growth rate at constant market prices for the current year 2016-17 is placed at 7.1 percent: Economic Survey
12:41  Obama spent his first week in office championing women’s rights :  During President Donald Trump’s first weeks in office, the newly-launched Obama Foundation is looking back on the former president’s legacy through storytelling. This week, eight years after the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the foundation is featuring a story from Lilly Ledbetter herself.
Read more

12:25  Obama’s 1st statement since he left office criticises Trump’s immigration policy:  This is the first press statement issued by the office of Barack Obama after he left the office 10 days ago.

Breaking his silence over his successor Donald Trump’s immigration policies, former US president Barack Obama on Tuesday said he disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion.

“With regard to comparisons to President Obama’s foreign policy decisions, as we’ve heard before the President fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion,” Obama’s spokesman Kevin Lewis said in a statement.

This is the first press statement issued by the office of Barack Obama after he left the office 10 days ago.

Lewis said Obama is heartened by the level of engagement taking place in communities around the country.

“In his final office speech as President. He spoke about the important role of citizen and how all Americans have a responsibility to be the guardians of our democracy — not just during an election but every day,” he said.

“Citizens exercising their constitutional right to assemble, organise and have their voices heard by their elected official is exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake,” Lewis said.

Trump’s executive order bars citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for the next 90 days, suspends the admission of all refugees for 120 days and indefinitely suspends the Syrian refugee programme.

Former presidents walk a fine line between staying political engaged and avoiding knocking their successor, CNN said.

President George W Bush, for example, remained markedly silent on politics during Mr. Obama’s eight years in office.But Mr. Obama’s relationship with Trump is different, and his statement made clear that the former president will stay engaged and outspoken on political action, it said.

12:17  Just in: Tamil Nadu government announces an inquiry commission to go into violence during pro-Jallikattu protests in the state.


12:15  Minister in UPA govt faints in Parliament during Prez speech :   Just in: Former external affairs minister E Ahamed faints during the President’s speech in Parliament. He was rushed to hospital.  Ahamed served in the Manmohan Singh government and represents the Malappuram Lok Sabha constituency of Kerala. He is 79. The President spoke for over an hour.

President Pranab Mukherjee addressed Parliament in a joint session of both houses as is customary ahead of the budget session which begins today. Despite opposition of parties, the government advanced the budget presentation to February 1, which it said would ensure important policy changes are implemented by April 1 when the new fiscal year begins. The economic survey will be tabled today by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who will present the Union Budget tomorrow. In a first, the Rail Budget has also been merged with the union budget.

Image: A TV grab of the former union minister E Ahamed being taken to hospital.


12:00  Demonetisation, surgical strikes, women Olympians… Prez lists govt’s achievements:   President Mukherjee addresses both Houses of Parliament. Highlights…

— Financial inclusion is key to poverty alleviation. Resilience demonstrated by our countrymen particularly the poor, in the fight against black money and corruption, is remarkable. At the core of all my Govt policies, is the welfare of ‘gareeb’, ‘peedit’, ‘Dalit’, ‘vanchhi.

— An unprecedented 26 crore plus Jan Dhan accounts have been opened for the unbanked.

— Janashakti has transformed Swachh Bharat Mission into a jan-andolan.

— My government is guided by the Antyodaya philosophy of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay.

— Garib Kalyan government’s core policy.

— Voluntarily giving up LPG connection has helped the poor.

— Under Deen Dayal Antyodaya Yojana, over Rs 16000 crore have been made available to SHGs in the current Financial Year.

— Over Rs 2 Lakh Crore has been provided through 5.6 crore loans sanctioned under Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana.

— To take the banking system to the doorstep of the poor and unbanked, the Indian Postal Payment Bank has been started.

— Close to 13 crore poor have been covered under various social security schemes.

— 37 percent of the Ujjwala beneficiaries belong to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

— The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana will make clean energy accessible to the poor.

— Swachh Bharat Abhiyan aims to ensure health and sanitation, particularly for the poor.

— 11000 of 18000 villages which were in darkness since independence electrified in record time.

— My govt is making ‘naari shakti’ an integral part of our development journey, they deserve equal opportunities. PV Sindhu, Sakshi Malik, Deepa Karmakar illustrate strength of our women.

— By year end, all the meter gauge tracks in the North East will be converted into broad gauge lines.

— The govt is committed to social and economic equality for the deprived and disempowered sections as enshrined in the Constitution

— Nationwide network of 50 India International Skill Centres is being established with the objective of providing training of global standards to the youth.

— Increased quota for disabled.

— 37 per cent of 1.5 crore beneficiaries of Ujjwala scheme to provide free LPG cylinder to the poor, belong to the SC/ST category.

— To combat evils of black money, corruption, govt took decision to demonetise Rs 500, 1000 notes.

— Our defence forces successfully conducted surgical strike to prevent infiltration by terrorists. We are proud of the forces, and the exemplary courage and valour displayed by them.

— Implementation of the 7th Pay Commission has benefited 50 lakh employees and 35 lakh pensioners.

— The revision of Maternity Benefit Act will support pregnant women at the workplace.


11:57  Shiva Sena asks MNS not to field candidates in BMC polls :  In other news:  The Shiv Sena on Tuesday asked the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena not to field candidates in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation elections if it is offering ‘unconditional’ support to the BJP. “If it doesn’t field candidates then we believe MNS is thinking for ‘Marathi manus’ else it’s apparent that MNS is BJP’s B team,” the Shiv Sena said in a statement.

The Shiv Sena has ruled out any alliance with the MNS.

Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has indicated that he was not keen on any rapprochement with estranged cousin Raj Thackeray.

A day after MNS leader Bala Nandgaonkar went to Matoshree (Uddhav’s residence) seeking an alliance, the Sena chief said: “I have not received any proposal. Anyway, the Sena is all prepared to go solo and we will win across Maharashtra.”

The MNS leader, earlier on Sunday, was not granted an audience by Uddhav and hence he had to be content meeting Sena leaders like Anil Desai, to whom he proposed an informal alliance.

The proposal would include the MNS not fielding any candidates


11:34  PM Narendra Modi listens in. 


11:33  Prez addresses India’s lawmakers :  The President is addressing a joint session of Parliament, with all parties, except the Trinamool Congress marking their presence. For the first time the Union Budget will be presented on February 1 instead of the usual February 28. Also, for the first time, there will be no separate Rail Budget from this financial year.


11:06  Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi at Parliament. 

11:04  Historic joint budget, says Prez :  President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari and Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and both houses of Parliament stand for the national anthem. The President begins his address to the joint session of Parliament. “It’s a historic session where the railway budget is being merged with the Union Budget for the first time since Independence,” the President said.

11:00  President set to address Parl shortly:  President Pranab Mukherjee enters Parliament House where he will address both the houses. President set to address Parliament shortly.

Image: President Mukherjee rides to Parliament House from Rashtrapati Bhavan in a ceremonial horse-drawn carriage.


10:50  PM on Budget session: Encourage all parties to discuss and debate :  PM Narendra Modi speaking outside Parliament House before tabling of the Economic Survey. He said the government is ready to talk about all issues including demonetisation. “We are bringing the budget a month earlier and combining it with the railway budget,” the PM said. The PM said a productive and detailed discussion of the budget should be done and hoped the budget session was fruitful.

Union minister Venkaiah Naidu said the budget will not be state specific and to a question on whether the TMC’s boycott of the budget would affect proceedings, Naidu asked how can anyone ignore the budget. He said the government has had discussions with parties individually and collectively.

The Budget Session will begin today with President Pranab Mukherjee addressing a joint session of Parliament. The government will later table the Economic Survey of India. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is scheduled to present the Union Budget on February 1.

This will be for the first time that Union Budget will be presented on February 1 instead of the usual February 28. Also, for the first time, there will be no separate Rail Budget from this financial year.

It will be a challenging task for the finance minister as he will be presenting the Budget less three months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s gamble of banning Rs 500, 1000 notes from circulation. Experts say Jaitley will likely offer modest tax concessions and ramp up spending to ease the pain caused by demonetisation.   


10:37  Trump’s next immigration move will hit Indian IT hard :  US President Donald Trump is expected to sign a new executive order aimed at strangulating work-visa programmes, including the H1B and L1 visas used by Indian IT professionals, as part of a larger immigration reform effort, a top White House official has said.

The executive order drafted by the Trump Administration not only strangulates H-1B and L1 visas, but also increases inspection and ends employment authorisation cards to spouses on such work visas, which was recently introduced by the previous Obama Administration.

The draft of the order was leaked and published by some news websites yesterday.

“I think with respect to H1Bs and other visa is part of a larger immigration reform effort that the President will continue to talk about through executive order and through working with Congress,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters at his daily news conference.

“You’ve already seen a lot of action on immigration and I think whether it’s that or the spousal visas or other type of visas, I think there’s an overall need to look at all of these programmes. You’ll see both through executive action and through comprehensive measures a way to address immigration as a whole and the visa programme,” Spicer said


10:29  The 12th Raising Day celebration of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) will be held in the national capital on Tuesday.

On this occasion, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh will present the Jeevan Raksha Padak awards and Distinguished Service Medals to the NDRF personnel.He will also release the NDRF pictorial book and souvenir to mark the occasion.

The NDRF raised on January, 2006, is a specialised force capable of responding to any type of disaster in the country and abroad.

It is strategically deployed across the nation as per the vulnerability profile of the country.

The NDRF provided relief and rescue operations in a number of disasters including floods, train accidents, building collapse incidents, landslides in various parts of the country during the last year.

Over the years, the NDRF has proved itself a vibrant force in the country which provides prompt assistance in search and rescue, mass evacuation and immediate relief to victims in case of natural or man-made disasters.

So far, the NDRF has responded to over one thousand operations and rescued around four lakh 73 thousand victims.

File pic of the Raising Day celebrations in 2015

10:26  Trumps Muslim ban is already backfiring:  Despite incessant complaints about presidential overreach during Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House, many Republicans are now embracing Donald Trump’s flurry of executive orders. As the entire world has now noticed, one of these orders has implemented an immigration and travel ban that targets the Muslim-majority countries of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Sudan and Syria.It also has suspended the US Refugee Admissions Program, which is responsible for overseeing the transfer of refugees to the United States. Although Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham have criticized the “Muslim ban,’ many other leading GOP figures are staying quiet. Read more

10:25  Demonetisation: A monumental blunder :  The one rationale for demonetization that was commonly accepted as legitimate was its presumed attack on ‘black money’. The other two reasons advanced for it by the government, namely eliminating counterfeit currency and facilitating the move to a cashless economy, scarcely carried credibility. The total value of counterfeit currency was minuscule: a study by the Indian Statistical Institute and the National Investigation Agency put it at only Rs 400 crore, or 0.022 per cent of the total value of currency in the country. And tagging the move towards a cashless economy as an argument for demonetization was neither ethically nor practically defensible.

It was ethically indefensible since the government was not only forcing people’s choice of the medium of circulation, but was also pushing them from costless transactions, which cash transactions are, towards costly transactions, owing to charges by banks and fintech companies on digital and other non-cash transactions, and, thereby, boosting the latter’s profits at the expense of the people. It was also practically indefensible because given the poor connectivity and literacy among the people, digitization of transactions was a pipe dream. Read more


10:06  Arnab changes channel’s name to ‘Republic TV’:   Television journalist Arnab Goswami, whose television venture Republic came under fire from BJP leader Subramanian Swamy for falling foul of the Emblems and Names Act, has written to the information and broadcasting ministry informing it of its change of name to Republic TV.   

In an application filed on January 28, 2017, to Manmeet Kaur, under-secretary in the I&B ministry, Goswami, managing director and editor-in-chief of ARG Outlier Media, has requested that ‘all references to ‘Republic’ in our uplinking-downlinking application be construed as references to ‘Republic TV’ forthwith’.   

You can see the application here.
09:53  White House considers reversing LGBT protections for federal workers:  

The White House is embroiled in a debate over whether to reverse some key protections that the Obama administration extended to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers, according to several people briefed on the process.

A draft of a potential executive order began circulating in Washington over the weekend that would overturn President Barack Obamas directive barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in the federal workforce and by federal contractors.


09:39  Will SC strike down TN’s Jallikattu law today?:  The Supreme Court will hear today several pleas regarding the controversial bull-taming sport Jallikattu, including the one by the Animal Welfare Board of India seeking the Tamil nadu government’s recently enacted law on the sport to be made invalid.  

The plea termed the amendment a “fraud” on the Constitution and a violation of a 2014 Supreme Court judgment, which had declared Jallikattu as an “inherently cruel” event practised on bulls. 

It further described jallikattu as an “extremely violent” event where untrained persons either volunteer or are “coerced” into taming or fighting terrified bulls agitated by the organisers and the crowd. 

The apex court had, on November 16 last year, rejected the plea of the Tamil Nadu government seeking a review of its 2014 judgement which had banned the use of bulls for Jallikattu events. 

After hearing various petitioners and respondents in the case, a division bench of the top court, headed by Justice Dipak Misra and also comprising Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, dismissed the state government’s review petition. 

The Tamil Nadu assembly on January 23 unanimously passed the new Jallikattu law revoking the ban on the bull-taming sport.

09:28  I-T department raids Nirav Modis offices and residences:  

The Income Tax department has raided over 50 offices and residential premises of Nirav Modi, one of Indias top diamond merchants, and seized cash, jewellery and several documents that allegedly reveal tax evasion by Modis firms, said sources familiar with the investigation.

According to sources, the raids were carried out over 10 days ago and lasted for over four days, covering Modis office and residences in Mumbai, premises in Delhi, Jaipur and SEZ units in Surat.

The tax department is probing over half-a-dozen firms of Modi, including Firestar Diamond International Pvt Ltd, Firestar International and Stellar Diamond among others. Modis firms are suspected to have received money from shell companies through real time gross settlement, according to sources.

09:21  JUST IN: Trump replaces acting US immigration and customs chief


09:07  Murdered Pune techie had complained about guard to Infosys:  

Rasila Raju OP, the Infosys engineer who was found strangled at her work place in Pune on Sunday, was working alone in her ninth-floor office on a weekend when a watchman allegedly approached her on the pretext of fixing a computer cable and later murdered her.

Police arrested a private guard on Monday for the murder of the 25-year-old techie and recounted the murder after catching the fugitive Bhaben Saikia, a 26-year-old from Assam, from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus at Mumbai early on Monday.

According to deputy commissioner of police Ganesh Shinde, entry into the office is restricted and Saikia could enter the office only because he followed Rasila, who gained access using a swipe card, to her workstation on the pretext of fixing the LAN cable and noting down her computers serial number.

The guards presence made her uncomfortable. He was staring, provoking her to warn that she would complain against him for stalking her. He then asked Rasila not to complain against him for staring at her the previous day, Shinde said.

When she refused to back off leading to an argument, he pulled out the cable and strangulated her in a fit of rage. The guard also hit her face with his shoes, injuring her nose, said Shinde. As it was a Sunday, there was no one in the office on the ninth floor of the Infosys facility.


08:35  Yogi Adityanath backs seeks Trump-like immigration order in India:  

Firebrand BJP leader Yogi Adityanth applauded US President Donald Trump’s controversial immigration order that bans travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries and stressed the need for such action in India to contain terrorism.

He said, “Similar action is needed to contain terror activities in this country.”

On Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav voicing his displeasure over the tie-up between SP and Congress, Adityanath claimed that Mulayam is “afraid” that the alliance would alienate the backward cast people from Samajwadi Party.


08:07  Trump fires acting attorney general who defied him on travel ban:  He means business!

US President Donald Trump has fired Attorney General Sally Yates for defying him on the travel ban that restricts immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Yemen, Syria and Somalia. 

Earlier, Yates had told Justice Department lawyers not to make legal arguments defending President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration and refugees.

“My responsibility is to ensure that the position of the Department of Justice is not only legally defensible, but is informed by our best view of what the law is after consideration of all the facts,” she said in a letter. “In addition, I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right.”

“At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful,” Yates wrote.


00:24  Trump to announce Supreme Court judge nominee today:  United States President Donald Trump will announce his Supreme Court judge nominee today. He said his pick is ‘highly respected’ and people will be ‘very impressed’ with the person.

‘I have made my decision on who I will nominate for The United States Supreme Court,’ Trump said in a tweet.

The announcement would be made live from the White House at 8 pm tomorrow (on Tuesday), Trump said.

Later at an executive order signing ceremony, Trump described his Supreme Court nomination as a big decision.

“We have a big decision that I’ve made, very big decision on the United States Supreme Court that is going to be announced tomorrow night from the White House at eight o’clock,” he said.

“A person who is unbelievably highly respected and I think you will be very impressed with this person,” Trump said.

Trump’s pick is going to come from his short list of 21 candidates, which he had announced during the general elections.

One of them is Indian-American Amul Thapar. The other candidates in the list include William Pryor, Diane Sykes, Raymond Kethledge, Joan Larsen, Steve Colloton, Neil Gorsuch, Mike Lee, Don Willett, David Stras, Thomas Hardiman, Raymond Gruender and Margaret Tyan.

Source: Rediff