17th June, 2013
- Union Cabinet reshuffle to take place this evening.
- RBI leaves repo rate and cash reserve ratio unchanged in its Mid-quarter monetary policy review.
- Trade deficit widens as exports in May decline by 1.1 percent; Gold, silver import rise by 89.7 percent.
- 22 killed and 15 missing in rain-related incidents in Uttarakhand; Heavy snowfall and rain leave over a thousand tourists stranded in Himachal Pradesh.
- In Kuwait, Supreme Constitutional Court dissolves the Parliament and orders fresh elections under new voting system.
- Sri Lanka take on defending champions Australia in ICC Champions Trophy at Oval today.
A reshuffle in the Union Cabinet will take place this evening. A Rashtrapati Bhawan spokesperson said the reshuffle-cum-expansion is expected to be utilised by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to fill several vacancies in his Council of Ministers. These vacancies were created following the resignations of Ajay Maken, CP Joshi, PK Bansal, Ashwini Kumar and Ministers belonging to the DMK. Mr Maken and Dr Joshi quit the Union Cabinet on Saturday night to work for the Congress Party. The resignations of Mr Maken and Dr Joshi have been accepted by President Pranab Mukherjee with immediate effect.
The reshuffle in the Union Cabinet comes a day after the Congress Working Committee was reconstituted. Ajay Maken, CP Joshi, Ambika Soni and Gurudas Kamat were appointed General Secretaries of the party yesterday.
The Reserve Bank of India, RBI, in its June mid-quarter monetary policy today, left its key policy, repo rate unchanged at 7.25 percent in line. Cash reserve ratio, CRR, remained at 4 percent. Repo is the rate at which banks borrow from the Central bank. CRR is the portion of deposits that banks are mandated to keep with RBI.
Consequently, the reverse repo rate will remain unchanged at 6.25 per cent, and the marginal standing facility, MSF, rate and the Bank Rate at 8.25 per cent.
On the domestic front, the Central bank said that macro-economic conditions remain weak, due to infrastructure bottlenecks, supply constraints, lacklustre domestic demand and subdued investment sentiment. The bank said that inflation has moderated as projected. It said that fall in rupee; external sector risks and elevated food inflation are areas of concern. It also said that the progress of monsoon so far seems to be positive for growth. RBI said a moderation in gold imports could be underway in June.
The Central Bank has said that balance of payments, inflation and growth rate will determine its future monetary stance.
The trade deficit for the month of May widened to 20.1 billion dollars on account of high imports of cheaper gold and increasing pressure on the current account balance. Trade data released today shows a rise in imports for the month of April-May by 6.99 per cent in Dollar terms at 44.65 billion dollars while exports declined by 1.11 per cent to 24.51 billion dollars.
The oil imports were reported at 15 billion dollars, up 3.05 per cent year-on-year. Gold, silver imports were up 89.7 per cent year-on-year at 8.9 billion dollars. The imports of the two precious metals more than doubled in April-may to 15.88 billion dollars.
Commerce Secretary S R Rao said that the high trade deficit on account of an increase in gold and silver import is worrisome.
A day after coalition breakup with 17 years old allies BJP, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar held his usual weekly Janata Darbar today morning to address the concerns and complaints of the public. After his darbar, Nitish Kumar addressed media persons and said that there is no question of going back on the decision taken by the central leadership of the party. Rejecting BJP's charge that he was responsible for split in NDA, Nitish Kumar accused the saffron party of betraying the JD-U and ignoring its senior leaders like Vajpayee and Advani.
Slamming the BJP leaders, he said that the changes recently announced by the BJP chief signals the end of Advani-Vajpayee era. After the separation JDU core committee is meeting today at 3 P M at Chief Minister's residence to discuss the future course of action. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar will seek vote of confidence day after tomorrow. BJP has called a state wide bandh tomorrow against the JDU decision and the party is also observing Betrayal Day on that day.
Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh today took oath as member of the Rajya Sabha. Dr. Singh was elected to the Rajya Sabha for the fifth consecutive term from Assam. He was the only contestant for the first preference vote seat. Dr. Singh was administered the oath by the Rajya Sabha Chairman Mohammad Hamid Ansari in his chamber in Parliament House.
After taking oath, Dr. Singh expressed happiness over his re-election saying that he is grateful to the people of Assam for making it possible for him to file nomination for the Rajya Sabha seat.
In Uttarakhand, 22 people have died following heavy and incessant rains in different parts of the state. While 15 people are reported to be missing at Gaurikund-Kedarnath foot path in Rambara, due to flood. Thousands of pilgrims of Chaar Dham and Hemkund Sahib are stranded. State Met department has warned of very heavy rainfall in the next 24 hours. Our Correspondent reports that Chaar Dham yatra in the state has been suspended for the time being.
Road connecting to Ukhimath and kedarnath have been completely washed away. Rishikesh-Badrinath national highway near Lambagad after Joshimath road near about 100 meter have been washed away leading to complete halt of Badrinath yatra. More than ten thousand pilgrims of the yatra are reported to be stranded at different places. In Pithoragarh Kailash Mansarover yatra has also been affected following the heavy rains. In Uttarkashi, Rudraprayag and Chamoli river are flowing above the danger mark & few building have been washed away. In Haridwar Ganga is also flowing above the danger level following which flood like situation has arisen near by villages. Relief and rescue work are in full swing in all the affected areas.<>Sanjeev Sundriyal, AIR News, Dehradun.
In Himachal Pradesh, continuous rain and snowfall for the past two days wreaked havoc in the tribal district of Kinnaur. It has been cut off from the rest of the world by road connectivity. The Deputy Commissioner, Capt. J.M. Pathania told AIR that at least eight people have been buried alive in different incidents. He informed that more than 1000 tourists from different parts of the country have been stranded and most of them are in Sangla.
In Haryana, the Indian Army and the National Disaster Response Force, have rescued 72 people stranded on a tract of land in Yamunanagar district due to flood triggered by heavy rains.
Heavy rain has lashed Saurashtra and other parts of Gujarat during last 24 hours. Quoting official sources, our Ahmedabad Correspondent reports that nine persons were killed in the season’s first heavy showers in the state.
Heavy rains lashed the national capital for the second day in a row causing water-logging and subsequent traffic chaos in various parts of the city. According to the MeT department, Delhi received 21.9 mm rains from 5:30 last evening till 8:30 this morning. The rains gave much relief to Delhiites from the scorching heat, but also caused trouble as many parts of the city witnessed water-logging and traffic snarls at many parts of the capital. Indira Gandhi International Airport also bore the brunt of a heavy downpour which crippled services at the airport.
<><><>In Kuwait, the Supreme Constitutional Court has dissolved the Parliament and ordered fresh elections to be held under the new voting system. More from our West Asia correspondent:
Under the old system, voters were allowed to cast ballots for up to four candidates. Opposition says it led to alliances which made up for the absence of political parties. The new voting system allows votes for only a single candidate and the opposition says it makes alliances difficult. The elections are required to be held within next two months as per the constitution of the country. Kuwait has been under a political turmoil since 2006 and this will be the sixth parliamentary election in Kuwait in seven years. Opposition boycotted the last election in December 2012 and challenged the constitutional validity of new voting rules. However the court order has left no room for them. Atul K Tiwary, AIR News, Dubai.
1400 WORLD DROUGHT DAY
World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought is being observed today to create awareness about the risks of drought and water scarcity in the drylands and beyond. The theme for this year is ‘drought and water scarcity’. A report from our correspondent:
In India, over one-fourth of the geographical area is undergoing the process of desertification despite ongoing efforts to combat the problem. The Deputy Director General, Natural Resources Management, in Indian Council of Agricultural Research, A K Sikka said that ICAR has taken a number of initiatives to enhance resilience and mitigate the effects of drought.
(S/B: AK SIKKA)
On the occasion, United Nation’s Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said that the preparedness to deal with the drought is minimal as compared to the cost of disaster relief. With Manali, Shiela, AIR News, Delhi
The Madras High Court has ordered the Tamil Nadu Government to withdraw cases against the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant agitators and conduct emergency preparedness activities. The State Government has been given three weeks to file a counter on the case. The case was heard by acting Chief Justice R.K.Agarwal and Satya Narayanan. The case was filed by Pugazhendi based on the judgement given on opening the Koodankulam Nuclear Plant. The plea cited that more than 300 cases were filed against the protestors and there was no development after the judgement given by the Supreme Court on the issue.
In Andhra Pradesh, 20 members including that of TRS and the BJP, have been suspended for two days from the Assembly today on Telangana issue. Speaker Manohar has suspended the TRS and BJP members and also an Independent member from the Assembly when they were continuously obstructing the proceedings, demanding a resolution on the statehood for Telangana.
In ICC Champions Trophy Cricket, Sri Lanka will take on defending champions Australia at Oval, London, today at 5.30 PM Indian time. The winner will book the remaining one semi-final slot. India and South Africa are the two teams from Group-B, which have made it to the knock-out stage.
The Sensex at the Bombay Stock Exchange stood 87 points, or 0.5 percent in positive territory, at 19,265, in afternoon trade, a short while ago, even as the Reserve Bank of India kept key interest rates unchanged in its monetary policy review. Earlier in the morning, the Sensex had opened with a gain of 79 points, or 0.4 per cent, at 19,257 on selective buying by funds. Stock markets in Japan, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Taiwan and Singapore had climbed between 0.1 percent and 1.9 percent, today.
The rupee was down by 27 paise to 57 rupees 78 paise against the American currency in the late morning trade. The rupee resumed lower at 57 rupees 70 paise per dollar as against the last weekend's level of 57 rupees 51 paise per dollar and dropped further to 57 rupees 85 paise per dollar.