The First Forum is an initiative that focuses on covering the latest happenings in a brief format. This is in lieu of the importance of knowledge about current happenings in this fast-changing world.
In the Seventieth – Edition of The First Forum we would be covering the following topics:
1. Politics
2. Science and Technology
3. Business
4. Economics
5. Finance

(By Gunika Vij, Ashika Deb and Shitij Goyal)

Politics

Yogi Adityanath Vows To Bring Law Against ‘Love-Jihad’

Addressing a rally in Jaunpur for upcoming UP by-elections, CM Yogi Adityanath proclaimed that his government will make a law against ‘love jihad’. Referring to a recent Allahabad High court order, he claimed that as the HC had opposed changing religion solely for marriage, his government too will bring a law based on it. Read MoreHe said that using ‘Mission Shakti’ the government will keep “mothers and sisters safe. There will be ‘Operation Satya’ to protect women’s dignity.”

Tejashawi Yadav beats rally records

For the first time in the history of Indian politics, Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashawi Yadav set a record on Saturday by conducting 19 rallies in a one day in Bihar, breaking his own father’s record. Read MoreMeanwhile, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said that he wouldn’t be surprised if Yadav becomes the chief minister of Bihar as he has proven himself as a contender to the NDA leaders. The strength in rallies has also been alarming.

Malaysia’s King emerges as an imperative political force

King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad, who ascended the Malaysian throne last year, stepped into the political scene back in February, when a two-year-old government abruptly collapsed. He resolved the impasse by tapping Muhyiddin Yassin to become the next prime minister without a parliamentary vote. With the new government holding at best a two-vote majority in parliament, the king’s decisions have become crucial in determining whether his administration stays or goes. Read MoreThe lack of a clear mandate for the current prime minister now gives the king more weight. Muhyiddin’s government is perhaps the most unstable in Malaysia’s history. The king also rejected his request to declare a state of emergency to tackle the pandemic, which generated calls for Muhyiddin to resign, even from within his own coalition.

Erdogan’s latest tussle with France

This month Turkish President has picked a fight with Europe, specifically France, claiming that the country is constitutionally Islamophobic and that Muslims everywhere should boycott French goods. However, it looks like he’s picking these unnecessary conflicts only to distract Turks from his failure to govern. Read MoreTurkey is a member of NATO and is still officially interested in applying to join the EU but in reality, Erdogan is portraying Europe as the enemy because he is weak at home but in this process he might unleash passions and far beyond this causing irrevocable damage.

Thousands protest in Jerusalem

Thousands of Israelis protested in Jerusalem against the Prime Minister’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, the resulting economic fallout and the corruption charges he faces. Read MoreMany oppose him serving as Prime Minister while under indictment on 3 corruption charges he faces – fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes – allegations that he has denied.

Science and Technology

Coral Reef discovered

Australian scientists find huge new healthy coral reef on the Great Barrier Reef that exceeds the height of the Empire State Building and the Eiffel Tower, the first such discovery in over 100 years. Read MoreIt lies 40 metres below the ocean surface and is about six kilometres from the edge of Great Barrier Reef.

Why NASA’s moonshot, Boeing, Bezos, and Musk have a lot riding on U.S. election

U.S. President’s differences with rival presidential candidate Joe Biden extend far beyond planet earth. Trump’s plans to win the race in space call for a 2024 moon mission, and Read Moreending direct U.S. financial support for the International Space Station in 2025 – turning over control of the decades-old orbital laboratory to private space companies.

DST launches schemes for women in science

Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday launched the SERB – POWER schemes that aim to encourage emerging as well as eminent women researchers to undertake R&D activities in frontier areas of science and engineering. The new Science Technology and Innovation Policy (STIP) 2020 will also emphasise on encouraging women scientists. Read MoreThe SERB – Power Fellowship will be given to women researchers in the age group of 35-55 years. It offers a personal fellowship and a research for a period of three years, while the SERB – Power Research Grants ensure funding to undertake highly impactful research across all disciplines of Science & Technology.

Scientists Use DNA To Store Digital Data

In a recent breakthrough, a team of researchers has used DNA as the storage material for digital data. They have figured out a way to encode music from the popular Super Mario Brothers game into 12 synthetics strands of DNA and play it on the computer. The researchers used a well- known method known as photolithographic approach from the computer chip manufacturing industry and adapted it to DNA sequencing. Read MoreThe advantage is its high precision as the light can be controlled. It can be repeated many times over, which in turn enables the creation of custom made DNA sequencing with high precision which could revolutionize computing.

The universe teems with weird black holes

Recent analyses show that black holes are both more common and stranger than expected. The observations come from three huge L-shaped optical instruments called interferometers. The team has cataloged 37 additional black hole mergers, one likely neutron star merger, and one possible merger of a black hole and neutron star from the first half of its third observing run, from April through September 2019. Read MoreAnalyses show that when it comes to black holes, “the diversity is surprisingly large”. Their ability to take a census of black holes has also enabled researchers to probe whether black holes in a merging pair point in the same direction as they orbit each other and they have even been able to probe how the number of black hole mergers may have changed over cosmic time.

Business

Future builds Rs 1,000-cr war chest as safeguard

In order to factor in all present and future liabilities in its arbitration battle with Amazon, Future Group is learnt to have set aside around Rs 1,000 crore which could later be raised to Rs 1,500 crore in an escrow account as a safeguard measure. It’s equal to the total investment made by Amazon in Future Coupons. The company’s top management is of the view that the deal will go ahead as planned. Read MoreLegal sources said that if Future decided to go ahead with the deal, it would leave Amazon with no option but to either approach an Indian court with a plea seeking a stay on the deal, or to approach the Singapore International Arbitration Centre for an early hearing in the matter.

GST collections cross Rs 1 trillion in October

GST collections crossed Rs. 1 trillion mark for the first time 8 months in October, which means that the economy picked from September. The collections were not only 10% higher than that a year ago but almost equal to collections in pre-lockdown February. Read MoreAll – central, state and integrated – GST were higher in October than in September. The rise can be attributed to festival demands, input tax credits and other similar reconciliations.

Indian pharma company’s shares are up 350% year to date

Indian pharmaceutical company Laurus Labs which is a global supplier of antiretroviral APIs and intermediates, plans to spend as much as ₹1,500 crore over the next 24 months to expand its production capacity. It’s reported a more than four-fold jump in its reported second-quarter profit from a year earlier and revenues jumped 60% on a year-on-year basis with operating margin at 33%. Read MoreIt has informed BSE that it has fixed November 11, 2020 as the record date for the purpose of payment of interim dividend.

India plans aircraft leasing company at GIFT City

An aircraft leasing company is in the works at the International Financial Services Centre in Gujarat International Finance Tec (GIFT) City as the central government looks to counter Chinese dominance of the market. Read MoreLeading public sector lenders State Bank of India and Bank of Baroda among others will likely be the founding members of the entity and collectively own at least a 49% stake.

 

Economics

India’s strategy of dealing with COVID-19 paid off, economy set to bounce back: Ficci

“The dilemma for governments across the world was creating a balance between protecting lives and livelihoods. India took the path of a strict lockdown to ramp up health infrastructure and focused on human lives. This strategy has paid off,” Ficci President Sangita Reddy said. She observed that science evolved to give better cures, medical infrastructure was created, supplies like PPEs ramped up and our death rate has been contained. Read MoreIt’s clearly time for bold actions on the livelihood front. The recent monetary policy assures that the government and the regulator will do everything it takes to keep the economy afloat. Let us start pushing our growth agenda vigorously.

Nafed floats bids for supply of 15,000 tonnes of imported red onions by November 20

Cooperative Nafed on Saturday invited bids from importers for supply of 15,000 tonnes of red onions by November 20 in order to boost the domestic availability and check price rise. The cooperative has asked bidders to supply 40 to 60 mm size of red onions from any country of origin at Rs 50 per kg by November 20. They can bid for a minimum quantity of 2,000 tonnes to be supplied in multiple lots of 500 tonnes, it said. Read MoreSince the buffer stock of onion, which Nafed manages on behalf of the government, is gradually getting depleted, the cooperative has been asked to augment domestic supplies with imported onions to continue with ongoing market intervention.

Govt allows import of potatoes from Bhutan till Jan 31, 2021

India allowed the import of fresh and chilled potatoes from Bhutan without any license, up to January 31, 2021. Their imports were restricted till now. In a separate notification, DGFT also eased the procedure for import of potatoes, till January 31,2021, under Tariff Rate Quota (TRQ) scheme by doing away with the need to send hard copy of the applications via mail or by post. “Successful applicants will have to ensure that the import consignments reach the Indian ports on or before January 31, 2021. Request for extension of time will not be entertained,” DGFT said. Read MoreThe simplified procedure comes a day after the finance ministry notified that 10,00,000 MT of potatoes can be imported till January 31, 2021 at an in-quota tariff rate of 10%. The TRQ is allotted to the importer by the DGFT.

India’s April-Sept fiscal deficit at Rs 9.1 lakh crore

India’s fiscal deficit stood at Rs 9.1 lakh crore halfway through this financial year, exceeding the full-year target of Rs 7.96 lakh crore by almost 15%, according to official data released. With the government already having increased its market borrowing target for the year Read Moreto Rs 12 lakh crore from Rs 7.8 lakh crore stated in the budget, the indications are that it will breach the fiscal deficit target of 3.5% of GDP.

JBIC signs loan agreements totaling Rs 11,000 crore to support Indian Industry

The Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) signed loan agreements totaling about Rs 11,000 crore with the State Bank of India and NTPC in support of India’s manufacturing and renewable energy sectors. The JBIC agreed to provide $1 billion (approx Rs 7,400 crore) to SBI for funding the manufacturing and sales business of suppliers and dealers of Japanese automobile manufacturers as well as for the provision of auto loans for the purchase of Japanese automobiles in India. Read MoreThe Japanese lender also signed an agreement for financing worth JPY 50 billion (approx Rs 3,500 crore) to state-owned power generation company, NTPC for solar power generation projects and installation of environmental equipment in India.

Finance

Tax collection trend showing signs of pick up, economy on recovery path: Finance Secretary

In signs of the economy continuing to reflate, the government’s tax collections have picked up and high-frequency activity indicators continue to improve on the back of the government’s targeted COVID-19 stimulus, Finance Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey said. In an interview with PTI, Pandey said the generation of e-way bills, needed for transportation of goods, is back to pre-Covid levels and online payments have risen exponentially. Collection of Goods and Services Tax (GST), levied when a product is consumed or a service is rendered, has risen for the second month in a row. Read MoreThe generation of e-way bills, which is mandatory for transporting goods worth over Rs 50,000, has gone up 21 per cent in October, while the number of e-invoice generation has touched 29 lakh IRNs (Invoice Reference Numbers) a day.

UPI crosses 2 billion transactions milestone in October, up 80% from year-ago; value nears Rs 4 lakh cr

According to the data released by the retail payments and settlement systems operator National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), the UPI volume has grown 80 per cent from 1.14 billion transactions in October 2019 to 2.07 billion transactions last month. The transaction value has also jumped 101 per cent from Rs 1,91,359.94 crore to Rs 3,86,106.74 crore during the said period. From the financial year 2021 perspective, 999.57 million UPI transactions and value worth Rs 1,51,140.66 crore in April 2021 grew 107 per cent and 155 per cent respectively in October. Importantly, the transaction volume grew faster during the Covid and lockdown phases as people seemingly tried to avoid the use of cash that helped digital payments jump. Read MoreAnalysing the NPCI data showed that it took only eight months for volume to grow by 746 million from 1.3 billion transactions in February to 2.07 billion in October. In comparison, before Covid, similar volume growth took 14 months to reach the 1.3-billion mark in February this year from 620 million transactions in December 2018. The number of banks live on UPI also grew from 141 in October 2019 to 189 in October 2020.

Loan moratorium: Banks told to credit ‘interest on interest’ to borrowers, RBI tells SC

Banks, financial and non-banking financial institutions have been asked to take “necessary actions” to credit into the accounts of eligible borrowers by November 5 the difference between compound and simple interest collected on loans of up to Rs 2 crore during the moratorium scheme, RBI has told the Supreme Court. Read MoreThe government had said that the ministry has issued a scheme as per which lending institutions would credit this amount in the accounts of borrowers for the 6-month loan moratorium period which was announced following the COVID-19 pandemic situation.

15th Finance Commission finalises report, to submit it to President on November 9

The 15th Finance Commission has completed its deliberations and finalised its report for fund devolution between Centre and States for the years 2021-22 to 2025-26. The Commission will submit its report to the President on November 9 and it will be subsequently tabled by the Finance Minister in Parliament along with an action taken report.   The report was signed on Friday by the Commission’s chairman NK Singh and its members. ​Read MoreThe Commission will also present a copy of its report to Prime Minister Narendra Modi later next month.  The 15th Finance Commission was constituted on November 27, 2017 against the backdrop of the abolition of Planning Commission and the distinction between Plan and non-Plan expenditure, and the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

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