11:46 PM slams Sam Pitroda: He has kick-started Pak Day celebrations :
PM Narendra Modi reacts to Congress aide and loyalist Sam Pitroda questioning the air strikes, in a series of tweets.
Modi says, “The most trusted advisor and guide of the Congress President has kick-started the Pakistan National Day celebrations on behalf of the Congress, ironically by demeaning Indias armed forces. Shame.
“Loyal courtier of Congress royal dynasty admits what the nation already knew — Congress was unwilling to respond to forces of terror. This is a New India – we will answer terrorists in a language they understand and with interest.
“Opposition insults our forces time and again.I appeal to my fellow Indians — question Opposition leaders on their statements. Tell them — 130 crore Indians will not forgive or forget the Opposition for their antics. India stands firmly with our forces.”
Close confidant of Rahul Gandhi and Chairman of the Overseas Indian National Congress questioned the death toll in the Balakot airstrike conducted by the Indian Air Force in Pakistan in retaliation to the Pulwama terror attack.
“If they (IAF) killed 300, its ok. All I am saying is can you give me more facts and prove it,” said Pitroda in a wide-ranging interview to ANI.
When asked on his views on the airstrike against the Jaish-e-Mohammad camp in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region, he added that international news outlets had an alternate view of the impact of the air strike and that the people of India deserved to know the facts of the Air Force operation.
“I would like to know a little more because I read reports in the New York Times and other newspapers. Did we really attack? We really killed 300 people? I don’t know that. As a citizen, I am entitled to know and if I ask it is my duty to ask, that doesn’t mean I’m not a nationalist, That doesn’t mean I am on this side or that side. We need to know the facts. If you say 300 people were killed, I need to know that. We all need to know that, people of India need to know that and then comes global media which says nobody was killed. I look bad as an Indian citizen,” said Pitroda.
10:29 Fitch slashes India GDP growth forecast for FY20 to 6.8% : Fitch cuts India’s economic growth forecast for next financial year to 6.8 per cent from 7 per cent forecast earlier, on weaker than expected momentum in the economy. In its Global Economic Outlook released in December 2018, Fitch had estimated India’s GDP growth to be 7 per cent and 7.1 per cent in financial years 2019-20 and 2020-21 respectively.
“While we have cut our growth forecasts for the next fiscal year (FY20, ending in March 2020) on weaker-than-expected momentum, we still see Indian GDP growth to hold up reasonably well, at 6.8 per cent, followed by 7.1 per cent in FY21,” Fitch said in its Global Economic Outlook.
Fitch Ratings cut India’s FY19 GDP growth forecast to 7.2 per cent from 7.8 per cent on December 6. The rating agency has also cut growth forecasts for FY20 and FY21 to 7 per cent from 7.3 per cent and 7.1 per cent from 7.3 per cent, respectively.
According to Fitch, the RBI, has adopted a more dovish monetary policy stance and cut interest rates by 0.25 percentage at its February 2019 meeting, a move supported by steadily decelerating headline inflation.
“We have changed our rate outlook and we now expect another 25 bp cut in 2019, amid protracted below target inflation and easier global monetary conditions than previously envisaged,” it said.
“On the fiscal side, the budget for FY20 plans to increase cash transfers for farmers,” it added. Fitch said, it’s benign oil price outlook and expectations of accelerating food prices in the coming months should support rural households’ income and consumption.
10:08 Sensex rises over 100 points on robust FII buying: Rising for the ninth straight session, market benchmark BSE Sensex rose over 119 points in early trade Friday led by gains in banking, metal and auto stocks amid sustained foreign fund inflow.
Gains were, however, capped tracking Asian markets as investors turned cautious after the US Federal Reserve kept interest rates unchanged, experts said.
The 30-share index was trading 119.52 points, or 0.31 per cent, higher to 38,506.27. The index began the session on a firm note at 38,452.47 and hit the session’s high of 38,526.71 on steady buying by foreign funds as well as retail investors.
The NSE Nifty also advanced by 36.35 points, or 0.32 per cent, to 11,557.40. Major gainers were Bharti Airtel, L&T, Yes Bank, Tata Steel, NTPC, Asian Paint, Bajaj Auto, HDFC, Axis Bank and State Bank of India, rising up to 3.03 per cent.
Among the losers in the Sensex pack, ITC, Reliance Industries, Maruti, M&M, TCS and ONGC down up to 1.75 per cent. Brokers said sustained foreign fund inflows and continued buying by retail investors influenced the market.
Meanwhile, the rupee appreciated by 6 paise to 68.57 against the US dollar in opening trade. — PTI
09:51 Man found alive 3 days after Dharwad building collapse : The Dharwad building collapse death toll mounted to 14 on Friday after one more body was found from the debris as the rescue operation continued for the fourth consecutive day. However, in nothing short of a miracle , a man was found alive buried under the debris, three days after the building collapse. Two more people were rescued yesterday.
Deepa Cholan, Deputy Commissioner, Dharwad said, “A total of 14 people have died. Yesterday, we rescued two people. Three more people are trapped in the debris. We have given oxygen and ORS to them. SDRF and NDRF teams are conducting rescue operation.
Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy visited the site on Thursday and told the media that several people were suspected to be trapped under the rubble.
He said the district administration has already announced a magisterial inquiry and the government is ready to appoint a retired high court judge if required.
On Wednesday, the Indian Air Force airlifted two teams of the National Disaster Response Force to Karnataka’s Hubli from Hindon in Uttar Pradesh to join the rescue and search operation after an under-construction building collapsed in Kumareshwar Nagar in Dharwad on Tuesday. — ANI
Image: The rescue operation is being conducted jointly by the NDRF and the State Disaster Response Force.
09:41 India one of world’s fastest growing large economies: IMF: India has been one of the fastest growing large economies in the world, the International Monetary Fund has said, asserting that the country has carried out several key reforms in the last five years, but more needs to be done.
Responding to a question on India’s economic development in the last five years at a fortnightly news conference in Washington, IMF communications director Gerry Rice Thursday said, “India has of course been one of the world’s fastest growing large economies of late, with growth averaging about seven per cent over the past five years.”
“Important reforms have been implemented and we feel more reforms are needed to sustain this high growth, including to harness the demographic dividend opportunity, which India has,” he said.
Details about the Indian economy would be revealed in the upcoming World Economic Outlook survey report to be released by the IMF ahead of the annual spring meeting with the World Bank next month, he said. This report would be the first under Indian American economist Gita Gopinath, who is now IMF’s chief economist.
“The WEO will go into more details. But amongst the policy priorities, we would include accelerate the cleanup of banks and corporate balance sheets, continue fiscal consolidation, both at centre and state levels, and broadly maintain the reform momentum in terms of structural reforms in factor markets, labour, land reforms and further enhancing the business climate to achieve faster and more inclusive growth,” Rice said. — PTI
09:14 6 killed as car rams into crowd in China, driver shot dead:
A man rammed his car into a crowd in China’s central Hubei province, killing six persons and injuring seven others before being shot dead by the police on Friday.
The incident took place around am (local time) in Zaoyang city, state-run CGTN reported.
The driver has been shot dead by the police, it said.
A total of seven persons, including the perpetrator, have been killed in the incident, it said.
The seven injured have been hospitalised, the report said.
Incidents of random attacks on civilians by disgruntled persons have become common in China in recent years.
Last September, three people were killed and 43 others injured when a man drove his SUV into a crowd and later went on a stabbing spree in China’s Hunan province.
Some persons carrying knives targeted primary schools and mall to vent out their anger.
09:04 Encounter in south Kashmir’s Shopian, third in last 24 hours in Valley:
An encounter broke out between terrorists and security forces in South Kashmirs Shopian district on early Friday morning. Police said this is the third encounter which has taken place in the Valley in the last 24 hours.
A tweet from Kashmir police range this morning read: Exchange of fire at #ImamSahib #Shopian. Area under Cordon. Details will follow. @JmuKmrPolice.
On Thursday, two separate encounters broke out between terrorists and security forces in Baramulla and Bandipora district of north Kashmir. Two civilians were held hostage by terrorists in the Bandipora encounter of which one of was rescued.
Efforts are on to rescue the other civilian, reportedly a minor, who is held hostage by militants, police said.
Meanwhile, in the Baramulla encounter at Kalantara in Kreeri area, two terrorists were killed. A cordon and search operation was launched at Kalantara area on Wednesday evening and suspected terrorists fired at the search party during the operation. On Thursday morning contact was established with the terrorists leading to an encounter.
08:31 Smriti Irani says writing on the wall for Rahul Gandhi:
It will be round two of the electoral battle between the Rahul Gandhi and Smriti Irani in Uttar Pradeshs Amethi as BJP announced on Thursday evening that it has fielded the union minister to take on the Congress chief from the Gandhi bastion again.
Irani had unsuccessfully contested against Gandhi in the 2014 Lok Sabha election and had lost by around 1 lakh votes, but was seen to have put up a spirited fight. The Congress has earlier announced the candidature of Gandhi from Amethi.
Irani said the writing is on the wall for Rahul Gandhi.
Dubbing the fight as one between a Kaamdar and Naamdar, she claimed that while Rahul Gandhi never found the time to address the key issues of the people of Amethi, she had given most of her time to the people there in the last five years. She said she will go to the constituency soon to begin her campaign.
08:05 Britain’s May gets two-week Brexit reprieve from impatient EU:
European Union leaders have given British Prime Minister Theresa May two weeks reprieve, until April 12, before Britain could lurch out of the EU if she fails to persuade lawmakers to back the withdrawal treaty she concluded with Brussels.
But after seven hours of summit brainstorming on Thursday, her 27 peers kept a host of options open, ramping up pressure on parliament to support May, giving Britain an outside chance of staying in for much longer but also preparing to deflect blame for the chaos of any no-deal Brexit.
May had wanted to be able to delay Britains departure until June 30 to tie up legislative loose ends and tried to reassure the EU that she could overturn two heavy defeats to clinch last-gasp parliamentary ratification of her deal next week, so allowing a status-quo transition period to come into effect.
EU leaders had planned to endorse a shorter extension, to May 22, the eve of EU parliamentary elections, and leave any discussion of how to deal with May losing until next week. But diplomats said the prime minister singularly failed to reassure them she could win. Some sensed she did not believe it herself.