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LIVE: Cabinet approves Rs 22,810-cr outlay for 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' scheme

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Communications and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad (right) at a press conference with Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri

FILE PHOTO: Communications and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad (right) at a press conference with Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved Rs 22,810 crore outlay for a new employment scheme that aims at encouraging businesses to do fresh hiring. Under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Rojgar Yojana, the government will for two years provide employee and employer contribution to the retirement fund for new hires by businesses and entities, Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar said. The scheme would till 2023 entail an outgo of Rs 22,810 crore and would benefit around 58.5 lakh employees.

The Justice Ashok Bhushan-led Supreme Court Bench on Wednesday adjourned hearing to Monday in the petitions in loan moratorium case. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the top court on Tuesday that a complete waiver of interest during the six-month loan moratorium period had a cost associated with it. "If we waive off the interest, there is a cost associated with it. Either the banks take it or the government. The government cannot and depositors cannot," the Solicitor General said.

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12:23 AM

Gehlot blames Covid-19 for panchayat poll loss

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Wednesday blamed Covid-19 for the party's loss in the panchayat polls, saying the results were not as per the Congress' expectation.

Gehlot said in a statement, "The results of the district council and panchayat polls are not as per our expectation. For the past nine months, our government was involved in Covid management and our priority was to save lives and livelihoods of the people."

"Due to coronavirus, we could not publicise our works while the opposition misled the people. But we will give a befitting reply to the opposition, considering the feedback from the people," he added.

In a major setback to the Congress in Rajasthan, the opposition BJP swept 1,911 seats in the recently held panchayat samiti elections while the ruling party was limited to 1,781 seats. The Independents won 425 seats, the Bahujan Samaj Party got 3 seats while the CPI-M captured 16 seats in the elections while the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party got 57 seats, according to the State Election Commission.

Gehlot had attacked his detractors in the party while inaugurating a Congress office in Sirohi district recently, saying the state government was saved from a crisis as the senior leaders suspended the rebels within the party fold.

10:26 PM

Nadda shown black flags by Trinamool supporters in Kolkata

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President J.P. Nadda was shown black flags allegedly by Trinamool Congress supporters when he arrived in Kolkata's Hastings area to inaugurate the party's election office on Wednesday.

The incident took place outside the newly-opened office when about 50 people tried to wave black flags and shouted "BJP go back" slogans when Nadda entered the building. BJP activists also came out of the building and engaged in counter-sloganeering.

The police immediately intervened and stopped both parties from coming close, following intervention of state BJP leaders. The protesters left the spot soon after the incident.

"No untoward clash or scuffle took place. Both sides left the spot peacefully," a Kolkata Police officer said.

10:12 PM

NBFCs with 15% CRAR for 3 years may be allowed to pay dividend: RBI

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has come up with a draft circular for declaration of dividend by NBFCs, wherein it has proposed that NBFCs should have at least 15 per cent Capital to Risk Weighted Assets Ratio (CRAR) for the last 3 years, including the accounting year for which it proposes to declare a dividend.
The RBI has sought comments on the draft circular from NBFCs, industry participants and other interested parties by December 24.
"Deposit taking Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC-D) and Systemically Important Non-Deposit taking Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC-ND-SI) should have CRAR of at least 15 per cent for last 3 years, including the accounting year for which it proposes to declare dividend," said the draft circular.
It has also suggested that NBFCs should have leverage ratio of less than seven for the last three years, including the accounting year for which it proposes to declare a dividend.
Further, it has proposed that the Core Investment Company (CIC) should have Adjusted Net Worth (ANW) of at least 30 per cent of its aggregate risk weighted assets on balance sheet and risk adjusted value of off-balance sheet items for last 3 years, including the accounting year for which it proposes to declare dividend.
10:11 PM

Article 370 abrogation coincided with human rights violation rise: Farooq Abdullah

National Conference president Farooq Abdullah on Wednesday claimed the unilateral and unconstitutional abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir's special status has coincided with a steep rise in the infringement of fundamental and human rights in the Union territory.
He also said that restricting the movement of mainstream political leaders has become the order of the day.
"The honour of the people has been compromised and downgraded on every account since the spiteful measures of August 5, 2019 were undertaken by the Centre by giving a ditch to all established constitutional norms and parliamentary propriety," Abdullah, the Lok Sabha member from Srinagar, said in a statement on the eve of the International Human Rights Day.
He alleged that the months that followed the August 5, 2019 measures saw a steep rise in human rights violations of people in the face of disallowing people to pray, blocking communication channels and snatching exclusive job rights of local youth.
BJP climbed the political ladder nationally by employing a narrative that Articles 370, 35-A were impeding the job prospects of the youth. Far from providing jobs to the youth, the incumbent ruling dispensation at the Centre which is in direct control of J&K's affairs showed the door to thousands of employed youth.
10:11 PM

In new Parliament building, Lok Sabha will be thrice as big than now

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will perform the Bhoomi Pujan ceremony of the new Parliament House building on Thursday. The new building could be completed by October 2022 so that a Parliament session in the new building on the 75th anniversary of the country's Independence can be held.
The dimensions of the Lok Sabha in the new Parliament House will be three times as big as the present one. The size of the Rajya Sabha will also increase. Tata Projects Limited will construct the new Parliament House over a total area of 64,500 sq metre. The design has been prepared by HCP Design, Planning and Management Private Limited.
According to officials of the Ministry of Urban Affairs, the new Parliament House will be in sync with the sensibilities and aspirations of a new India on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of Independence in 2022. It will be built keeping in view the needs for the next hundred years so that there is no difficulty in increasing the number of MPs in the future.
9:55 PM

PM Modi has worked more for farmers in 6 yrs than earlier govts did since 1947: UP CM

Amid the ongoing farmers' stir against the three central farm laws, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Wednesday asserted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done much more work for farmers in last six years compared to what previous governments did since Independence.

While inaugurating two sugar mills in this eastern region of the state, Adityanath also attacked the opposition, saying some people are not able to appreciate the welfare work being done for farmers by the BJP government.

The chief minister was here to inaugurate a sugar mill at Pipraich in Gorakhpur district. He also inaugurated the second mill at Munderwa in Basti district from here digitally as his helicopter was unable to take off for Basti due to bad weather.

Accusing the previous governments of selling 21 sugar mills in the region at throwaway prices after suppressing farmers' agitation against the move, Adityanath expressed satisfaction that his government was able to start two mills with four times higher processing capacity.

He also promised to open many more mills after the pandemic s controlled.

8:53 PM

SC to hear Maratha quota case from Jan 25, says matter requires urgent hearing

The Supreme Court Wednesday said that issues pertaining to 2018 Maharashtra law, granting reservation to Marathas in education and jobs, requires urgent hearing as the legislation has been stayed and the fruits accrued are not reaching to the people.
The apex court had on September 9, while referring to a larger bench the batch of pleas challenging the validity of law, had stayed the implementation of the legislation but made it clear that status of those who have availed of the benefits would not be disturbed.
A five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan Wednesday said it would hear the matter on a day-to-day basis from January 25 next year as it is necessary to complete the final hearing as early as possible looking into the issues raised and the consequences to be followed.
This issue is required to be heard urgently as the effect of law has been stayed and fruits accrued are not reaching to the people. Therefore, this issue requires urgent hearing, observed the bench, also comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao, S Abdul Nazeer, Hemant Gupta and S Ravindra Bhat.
8:23 PM

UK PM in Parliament confuses farmers' protest with India-Pak dispute

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday seemed to confuse two separate issues when he reiterated the UK government's stance that any dispute between India and Pakistan was for the two countries to settle bilaterally.
British Sikh Labour MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, who has been leading a drive to keep the protests by the Indian farmers against the government's agricultural reforms in the news in Britain, repeated one of his previous Twitter statements on the issue in the House of Commons during the weekly Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) session.
Many constituents, especially those emanating from Punjab and other parts of India, and I were horrified to see footage of water cannons, teargas and brute force being used against peacefully protesting farmers. However, it was heart-warming to see those very farmers feeding those forces who had been ordered to beat or suppress them. What indomitable spirit and it takes a special kind of people to do that, the Opposition lawmaker said.
So, will the Prime Minister (Johnson) convey to the Indian Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) our heartfelt anxieties, our hopes for a speedy resolution to the current deadlock and does he agree that everyone has a fundamental right to peaceful protest, he questioned Johnson. 

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7:40 PM

AAP alleges Kejriwal's movement still 'restricted', Delhi Police denies claim

The AAP on Wednesday alleged that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's movement is still "restricted" and the main gate of his residence remains closed by the Delhi Police, which denied the charge. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which had on Tuesday alleged that the Delhi Police put Kejriwal under house arrest after he met farmers protesting against the Centre's agriculture reform laws at the city's Singhu border, again claimed that it was being done at the behest of Union Minister Amit Shah.
The Delhi Police had rejected AAP's charge against it as "totally baseless". Addressing a press conference on Wednesday, AAP spokesperson Raghav Chadha said there is an atmosphere of "undeclared emergency" around the chief minister''s residence.
"I am telling you with full responsibility that the movement of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is still restricted at the behest of the (Union) home minister. The main gate of the chief minister's residence is still closed," Chadha alleged. "In a way, there is an atmosphere of undeclared emergency. All this, just because we did not allow the stadiums to be converted into prisons for farmers," he alleged.
7:16 PM

Centre releases Rs 6,195 crore to 14 states as instalment of post-devolution revenue deficit grant

The Centre on Wednesday released Rs 6,195 crore to 14 states as monthly instalment of post devolution revenue deficit grant.
"Based on the 15th Finance Commission interim recommendations, the Govt released Rs 6,195.08 crore on 9th December 2020 to 14 States on account of the 9th equated monthly installment of Post Devolution Revenue Deficit Grant," Office of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tweeted.
Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Punjab, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttarakhand and West Bengal are the states to whom the amount has been released.
A similar amount was released as grant for April-November months of the current financial year. The Finance Commission provides a mechanism for the Centre to compensate for revenue loss incurred by states, which is referred to as post devolution revenue deficit grant.
6:40 PM

Govt to launch public Wi-Fi networks, with no fees or licence

The government has approved a framework for the proliferation of public Wi-Fi networks through PM WANI scheme, Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Wednesday. PM Wi-Fi Access Network Interface (PM WANI) would unleash a massive Wi-Fi revolution in the country, Prasad said. This would entail a complete framework involving multiple elements -- Public Data Office (PDO), Public Data Office Aggregators and app providers.
"No licence, no registration, and no fee would be applicable for the PDOs, which could be small shops or even Common Service Centres," Prasad told reporters after the meeting of the Cabinet.
The Cabinet has also approved the laying of undersea submarine optical fibre cable to provide high-speed broadband to Lakshadweep, he said.
6:16 PM

Cabinet approves MoU between India, Suriname for cooperation in health and medicine sector

The Union Cabinet has approved a memorandum of understanding between India and Suriname for cooperation in the field of health and medicine, an official statement said on Wednesday. The bilateral MoU will encourage cooperation between India's health ministry and the Ministry of Health of the Government of the Republic of Suriname through joint initiatives and technology development in the health sector.
"It will strengthen bilateral ties between India and Suriname. It will also lead towards achieving Atma-nirbhar Bharat' (self-reliant India) by way of sharing of expertise in public health system, and by promoting mutual research in various relevant areas," the statement said.
The main areas of cooperation between the two governments include exchange and training of medical doctors, officials, other health professionals and experts, assistance in development of human resources and setting up of healthcare facilities, regulation of pharmaceuticals, medical devices and cosmetics and exchange of information thereon and promotion of business development opportunities in pharmaceuticals.
It also includes procurement of generic and essential drugs and assistance in sourcing of drug supplies, procurement of health equipment and pharmaceuticals products, promotion of mental health, digital health and tele-medicine, among others, the statement added.
5:38 PM

Govt approves Rs 22,810 crore outlay for 'Atmanirbhar Bharat Rozgar Yojana'

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved Rs 22,810 crore outlay for a new employment scheme that aims at encouraging businesses to do fresh hiring.
Under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Rojgar Yojana, the government will for two years provide employee and employer contribution to the retirement fund for new hires by businesses and entities, Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar said.
The scheme would till 2023 entail an outgo of Rs 22,810 crore and would benefit around 58.5 lakh employees.

5:24 PM

ED files chargesheet in UPA-era Embraer deal money laundering case

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has filed a chargesheet in a money laundering case linked to a UPA-era defence deal with aircraft manufacturer Embrarer, the central probe agency said on Wednesday.
It said the prosecution complaint has been filed before a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court here and the agency has named Embraer SA, Brazil, Interdev Aviation Services Pte Ltd, KRBL Limited, Anoop Kumar Gupta (director of KRBL Limited), Anurag Potdar (nephew of Anoop Kumar Gupta) and others.
KRBL Ltd is the manufacturer of India Gate Basmati Rice. The case pertains to payment of alleged commission by Embraer to clinch the USD 208 million deal with India, in which it is suspected and alleged that kickbacks were paid. READ ON...

Embraer sets aside $200m for possible fines, as India seeks details of bribes on deal
5:01 PM

US Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster called on Defence Minister Rajnath Singh today

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First Published: Dec 09 2020 | 6:42 AM IST

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