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♦ Krishnamurthy Subramanian appointed as Chief Economic Advisor
- The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) has approved the appointment of Krishnamurthy Subramanian as the new Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) for a period of three years, according to an official notification issued on Friday.
- Mr Subramanian is currently an associate professor at the Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad. He holds a PhD from Chicago-Booth and is an alumnus of both the IIT and the IIM. He has been a part of expert committees on corporate governance for the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and on the governance of banks for the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
- He also serves as a member of SEBI’s Standing Committees on Alternative Investment Policy, Primary Markets, Secondary Markets and Research.
- The previous CEA, Arvind Subramanian resigned from his position due to personal reasons, having completed nearly four years in that position.
♦ Merkel passes torch to a new party leader
- German Chancellor Angela Merkel will hand over leadership of her party on Friday after nearly two decades at the helm, with the race wide open between a loyal deputy and a longtime rival.
- The contest’s outcome is expected to be crucial in deciding whether Ms. Merkel, Europe’s most influential leader, can realise her stated goal of completing her fourth term in 2021 and then leaving politics.
- Ms. Merkel, 64, is quitting the helm of her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) after a series of poll setbacks rooted in controversy over her liberal refugee policy.
- “I’m very grateful that I could be party chairwoman for 18 years — it is a very, very long time and the CDU, of course, had its ups and downs,” Ms. Merkel said as she arrived at the conference venue in Hamburg. “But we won four national elections together… and I am happy I can remain Chancellor.”
♦ ‘Govt. needs Rs. 1 lakh crore more to build 1 cr. houses’
- The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Urban (PMAY-U), being implemented by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs under the Housing for All by 2022 mission since June 2015, needs a concerted push to succeed, according to Crisil Research.
- The government will need another Rs. 1 lakh crore in three years to build one crore houses, as disbursements under PMAY-U show a huge lag. A ramp-up in fund-raising and utilisation is crucial, Crisil said.
- As on November 26, 2018, only 12 lakh had been constructed, though 63 lakh houses had been sanctioned, while 23 lakh were under construction, Crisil said in a statement.
- Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu together accounted for 55% of the sanctions.
- The Ministry aims to sanction 75 lakh houses and construct 30 lakh by the close of this fiscal. The Central Government needs to contribute a whopping Rs. 1.5 lakh crore in seven fiscals through 2022, at an average of Rs. 1.5 lakh per house. However, only 22% of this, or Rs. 32,500 crore, has been disbursed so far. Of the total Central assistance, Rs. 19,000 crore has been factored in the budgetary allocation till fiscal 2019.
♦ Govt announces 19 new Institutes of Eminence, takes total status holders to 30
- The government today announced that 19 more Institutes have been recommended for according of the high value Institute of Eminence status by an expert panel.
- These include two more greenfield or yet to be set up institutes like Jio University- both, Bharti Airtel group-backed Satya Bharti Foundation and Krea University which has former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan as Advisor have been recommended for the Institute of Eminence status.
ET was first to report that the government would announce 14 new Institutes of Eminence and take them for approval to the University Grants Commission on 10th December.
- Jio, Ashoka and KREA will share space with a clutch of new private universities which have been making their presence felt in the higher education space- O P Jindal University, Shiv Nadar University and Ashoka University.
- Vellore Institute of Technology, Amrita Vidyapeeth, Indian Institute of Human Settlement, Institute of Public Health Sciences and Jamia Hamdard are the other private institutes selected.
- The government funded Institutes of Eminence will now include four more Central Universities- Banaras Hindu University, Aligarh Muslim University, Tezpur University and the University of Hyderabad besides two state universities- Andhra University and Savitribai Phule Pune University. Panjab University which enjoys a special status has also been accorded the Institute of Eminence status.
♦ Patanjali to set up Rs 634 crore mega food park in Vizianagaram
- A Rs 634 crore mega food park that is expected to provide employment to 33,400 people would be set up by Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali group in Vizianagaram district of Andhra Pradesh.
- The Patanjali Food and Herbal Park would come up on a 172.84 acre site at Chinnaraopalli village, according to a release from the chief minister’s office.
Ramdev met chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu Thursday afternoon and discussed the project, it said.
Core processing facilities including cold storage with blast freezer, grading packing facility for spices and grains and dry warehouse would come up at the park.
- An anchor unit for juice extraction, with a capacity of 1500 tonnes per day, would also be set up with an investment of Rs 45.20 crore.
Juice, biscuit, noodles, frozen vegetables and spices processing units are likely to be set up to benefit farmers of the region in a big way, the release added.
♦ In Nagaland, a designated day to celebrate its bees
- Even at 70, T Chuba of Nagaland’s Mokukchung district, is all about his bees. “They are my friends,” says the septuagenarian, who started beekeeping almost 35 years ago. Rows of shaded bee colonies (137 to be precise) comprising concrete bee-stands and ant wells, line Chuba’s home located in the village of Yisemyong in Mokukchung district. In them are reared Apis Cerana (a commonly-found honey bee in East and Southeast Asia) and Trigona Iridipennis (a type of stingless bee), which produce the sweetest of honeys, bottled and sold in the nearby town of Mokukchung.
- Over the years, Chuba has mastered the art of beekeeping: he delivers lecturers on the subject in seminars in Arunachal Pradesh and even Burma, he has written a booklet for beginners in beekeeping in their local Ao dialect, he even concocts bottles of something called “honey cure”, a medicinal drink to treat high blood pressure, indigestion and other ailments, made from indigenous herbs, curing plants and honey. For the last decade or so, the beekeeper has been producing 600-800 kgs of honey per annum—a quantity that fetches him between Rs 4,00,000 – 4,50,000 every year.
- But Chuba remembers a time when beekeeping wasn’t a lucrative source of income. In fact, it wasn’t a source of income at all. The change in fortunes of Chuba — and farmers of about 478 villages in Nagaland — is courtesy the Nagaland Beekeeping and Honey Mission (NBHM), a 2007 government initiative to train villagers in the science of beekeeping.
♦ HCL Technologies to acquire select IBM software products for $1.8 billion
- HCL Technologies on Friday said it will acquire select IBM software products including Appscan and Notes & Domino, for $1.8 billion.
- “The products that we are acquiring are in large growing market areas like security, marketing and commerce which are strategic segments for HCL. Many of these products are well regarded by clients and positioned in the top quadrant by industry analysts,” C. Vijayakumar, President & CEO, HCL Technologies said.
- The two companies have entered into a “definitive agreement under which HCL will acquire select IBM software products for $1.8 billion,” HCL Technologies said in a statement.
♠Vocabulary (The Hindu)♣
- PERNICIOUS (ADJECTIVE): bad
Synonyms: detrimental, devastating
Antonyms: advantageous, beneficial
Example: The step to ban 500 and 1000 notes is a pernicious one for black money hoarders.
- INTELLIGENTSIA (NOUN): very smart person
Synonyms: philosopher, scholar
Antonyms: imbecile, ignoramus
Example: They belong to the intelligentsia of our times.
- INVIDIOUS (ADJECTIVE): hateful
Synonyms: abominable, defamatory
Antonyms: delightful, loveable
Example: They said a lot of invidious things for us.
- REVERBERATE (VERB):echo
Synonyms: resound, redound
Antonyms: quieten, silence
Example: The PM’s promise to curb black money reverberated in his recent actions.
- OBLIQUELY (ADJECTIVE): corner ways
Synonyms: crisscross, diagonally
Antonyms: straight, erect
Example: The man was walking obliquely.
- DIP (NOUN): reduction
Synonyms: downtrend, slump
Antonyms: ascent, rise
Example: The dip in sales hit us extremely hard.
- RETREAT (NOUN):withdrawal
Synonyms: regroup, flight
Antonyms: advance, attack
Example: The enemy’s retreat was a joy to watch.
- PACIFY (VERB): appease
Synonyms: allay, ameliorate
Antonyms: aggravate, provoke
Example: He pacified everyone with his communication skills.
Quick retreat: on French protests
French President Emmanuel Macron’s reforms programme could be at risk of losing steam in the wake of weeks of violent countrywide protests triggered by a proposed increase in the fuel tax. Paradoxically, as head of the centrist La République En Marche party, he had swept to power on a pledge of modernising the economy and restoring popular trust in politicians. Public anger against the fuel tax has escalated into a broad-based opposition to the government’s overall policies. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe initially said the duty hike would be deferred for six months. But on Wednesday the government cancelled the tax proposal altogether, arguing that a levy that was meant to induce motorists to go green was not worth the price if it undermined social cohesion. Mr. Philippe has also suggested that the introduction of additional safety checks on cars due to take effect next year could be delayed. The U-turn on measures to reduce CO2 emissions suggested that the government was on the back foot. The government has also said that it was open to reinstating the wealth tax, which was revised last year to narrow its scope. The measure was intended to improve the investment climate and boost growth and employment. But
the accompanying flat tax rate on capital gains and dividends, besides limits on trade unions to negotiate wages, only served to reinforce Mr. Macron’s image as a President of the rich.
The yellow-vest protests have shone the light on France’s tax system, its rates said to be the highest in the European Union, and buttressed the demand for improvements in the standard of living. The government is committed to increasing the minimum wage from next year but could now face pressure for further concessions on social welfare. Conversely, Paris would also be constrained to demonstrate compliance with EU rules that set an annual fiscal deficit target of below 3% of GDP on member-states. Adherence to common norms would especially be on Brussels’s radar after the recent stand-off involving the Italian government. A concern linked to the withdrawal of the tax increase is the rise in France’s carbon emissions. The mass protests have, unwittingly, pitted the majority who would have been hit by the higher levy against the imperative to meet the Paris climate agreement targets. Mr. Macron, who has fashioned himself as a champion of the green cause, can realise the mission to combat global warming only by rallying his people. His ability to regain lost ground will determine the prospects of warding off the populist threat in the 2019 European Parliament elections. His handling of the challenges at home will crucially define his ambitions on the EU stage.
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