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The area under cashew cultivation is highest in India among cashew growing countries, at around a million hectares. But the production of cashew is hampered by biotic as well as abiotic factors.

Kerala farmer Aniyamma Baby from Kannur has come up with an innovative practice called “Cashew Multiple Rooting Propagation Method” that aims to protect cashew gardens from borer attacks and cyclonic storms, the science and technology ministry said in a statement on Monday.

The area under cashew cultivation is highest in India among cashew growing countries, at around 1 million hectares. But the production of cashew is hampered by biotic as well as abiotic factors.

Stem and root borer is one of the most damaging pests for cashew crops. It can destroy even matured trees.

The ministry said cashew nut plantations in coastal areas are also affected by frequent cyclones. Each such devastation requires over 10 years for cashew plants to be restored, the ministry said.

The ministry said Aniyamma Baby has developed the method to generate multiple roots in a grown-up cashew tree, thus improving production per unit area.

“It helps eco-friendly management of stem-and-root borers, restores productivity, provides strong anchorage against wind damage and cyclonic storms, and it extends the plantation lifespan without the necessity of replanting,” the ministry said.

Aniyamma Baby’s experiments for this technique have been successful, the ministry said, adding, “She has been using this method in her old cashew plantations for the last seven years to support her family with a continual supply of high cashew produce.”

The National Innovation Foundation, an autonomous organisation, has taken up Baby’s innovative technique for support and incubation activities.

The Directorate of Cashew Research (Puttur) and Kerala Agriculture University studied and approved the technique last year.

“It has been found to be unique and provides anchorage against wind damage or cyclonic storms, and restores cashew trees from a severe attack of cashew stem-and-root borers in a very eco-friendly and cost-effective way,” the ministry said.

It added that the technology offers “new hope to the cashew growers having old cashew gardens to realise additional yield”. Source : ht

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Effects of demonetisation and rollout of the Goods & Services Tax regime on the informal sector and reduction in pace of credit creation may affect India’s growth prospects and the country unlikely to serve as the “growth pole’’ for the global economy in the near future, a United Nations report has said.

“Growth in the world’s two most populous economies − China and India − remains relatively buoyant, but the pace is slower than before the crisis and face some serious downside risks,” according to the UNCTAD’s Trade & Development report 2017 released on Thursday.

The report titled ‘Beyond austerity — towards a global new deal’, further pointed out that it was absence of a robust recovery in developed countries and renewed volatility of global capital flows that have constrained economic growth in developing countries.

It noted that the world economy in 2017 was picking up but not lifting off. “Growth is expected to reach 2.6 per cent, slightly higher than in 2016 but well below the pre-financial crisis average of 3.2 per cent,” it said.

A combination of too much debt and too little demand at the global level has hampered sustained expansion of the world economy, the reported stated. Giving a prescription for makeover of the world economy, the report made a case for ending austerity, clamping down on corporate rent seeking and harnessing finance to support job creation and infrastructure investment.

India’s growth performance depends to a large extent on reforms to its banking sector, which is burdened with large volumes of stressed and non-performing assets, and there are already signs of a reduction in the pace of credit creation, the report said.

“Since debt-financed private investment and consumption have been important drivers of growth in India, the easing of the credit boom is likely to slow GDP growth,” it said.

In addition, the informal sector, which still accounts for at least one third of the country’s GDP and more than four fifths of employment, was badly affected by the government’s “demonetisation” move in November 2016, and it may be further affected by the rollout of the GST from July 2017, the report added.

“Thus, even if the current levels of growth in both China and India are sustained, it is unlikely that these countries will serve as growth poles for the global economy in the near future,” it concluded.

 

 

 

 

 

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Amid turbulence in Punjab Congress, AAP chief heads for Ludhiana, expected to make ‘major announcement’ for industry reeling under power cuts.

Amid turbulence in the Punjab Congress, Aam Aadmi Party national convener and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal landed in Chandigarh on Wednesday afternoon before heading for Ludhiana to meet nearly 300 industrialists and make a “major announcement”.

Speaking to reporters at the Chandigarh airport, Kejriwal said: “Whatever is happening in Punjab is very unfortunate. People don’t know where to go. The Punjab CM should fulfil the promises made by Captain Amarinder Singh and act against tainted ministers, MLAs and officers. The mastermind behind the sacrilege incidents of 2015 should be booked.”

Asked who would be the AAP chief ministerial candidate, he said: “We will soon announce that and you all will be proud of him.”

Hearing out the industry in poll-bound state

Meanwhile, Ludhiana-based Kulwant Sidhu, who quit the Congress last month to join the Aam Aadmi Party, said: “Before Kejriwal makes the major announcement, he wants to meet industrialists and listen to their grievances, particularly on power cuts and high tariff, so that a solution can be found and their demands can be included in the AAP manifesto for the 2022 elections.”

Punjab industry has been facing unscheduled power cuts due to lack of maintenance of infrastructure and industrialists want tariff capped with relaxation in fixed and demand charges besides reduction in electricity duty. Industries want 50% rebate on night tariff and electricity at ₹5 per unit as promised.

The pending goods and services tax (GST) refunds is another issue that the state industry wants addressed early. Source : ht

 

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NEW DELHI: 

HIGHLIGHTS

  1. This is CAG's second report on shortage of ammunition in the army
  2. Ordnance Factory Board supplies nearly 90 per cent of army's ammunition
  3. Army Vice Chief was told to directly source 46 types of ammunition
 The world's second-largest standing army is woefully short on ammunition and there hasn't been a remarkable change in the last few years, the country's top auditor told parliament on Friday. The shortage dents the army's ability to sustain a war for a long period.


This is the audit watchdog's second report on the shortage of ammunition in the army since 2015. In the last one, it had gone by stock levels in 2013 and warned that the army could not fight a war beyond 15 to 20 days.

Friday's report lamented that despite highlighting "serious concerns" in its earlier report, "no significant improvement took place in the critical deficiency in availability and quality of ammunition... since March 2013". 

The state-run Ordnance Factory Board, or OFB, supplies nearly 90 per cent of the army's requirement of ammunition. Of the remaining instances where the ammunition had to be bought from elsewhere, the audit report said most cases initiated by the Army Headquarters from 2009 were still pending.

Rs. 16,500 crore plan drawn up by the defence ministry in 2013 that targetted wiping the shortages by 2019 hasn't taken off yet. "We noticed that no case had culminated into the contract," the Comptroller and Auditor General's report said.

Not surprisingly, the report concluded that there had only been a slight improvement.

Of the 152 types of ammunition used by the military, the report said availability of 55 per cent types was below the minimum inescapable requirement for operational preparedness. For another 40 per cent types of ammunitions, the army had a stock of less than 10 days. The availability of high-calibre ammunitions for tanks and artillery meant to sustain superior fire power in a cross-border war "are in more alarming state". 

It also pointed that the deficiency of fuzes - fitted to an artillery shell just before firing  - had declined from 89 per cent in 2013 by just six percentage points. This means the army still can't use 83 per cent of ammunition for tanks and artillery.

There was no immediate comment from the government on the audit report.

But the audit findings comes days after the government gave the army's Vice Chief Lt General Sarath Chand to directly procure 46 types of ammunition to fight short and "intense wars" without going to the defence ministry. Also, the government had last year cleared emergency procurement of weaponry worth 20,000 crores after the Uri terror attack on September 18, last year.

 

 

 

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WASHINGTON:  The US House of Representatives has passed a USD 621.5 billion defence policy bill that proposes to advance defence cooperation with India.

An amendment in this regard, moved by Indian-American Congressman Ami Bera, was adopted by a voice vote by the House as part of the National Defense Authorisation Act (NDAA) 2018, beginning October 1 this year. NDAA-2018 was passed by the House 344-81.

The India-related amendment passed by the House requires the Secretary of Defence, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to develop a strategy for advancing defence cooperation between the United States and India.

"The United States is the world's oldest democracy and India is the world's largest democracy. It is vitally important to develop a strategy that advances defence cooperation between our two nations," Mr Bera said.

"I am grateful this amendment passed and look forward to the Defence Department's strategy that addresses critical issues like common security challenges, the role of partners and allies, and areas for collaboration in science and technology," he said.

"Cooperation between the US and India enhances our own defence and our ability to meet the evolving security challenges of the 21st century," Mr Bera said.

Following the passage of the National Defence Authorisation Act, the Secretary of Defence and Secretary of State have 180 days to develop a strategy for advancing defence cooperation between the United States and India.

NDAA needs to be passed by the Senate before it can be sent to the White House for the US President Donald Trump to sign into law.

As passed by the House, NDAA-2018 asks the State Department and the Pentagon to develop a strategy that addresses common security challenges, the role of American partners and allies in India-US defence relationship, and role of the defence technology and trade initiative.

It also asks them to address how to advance the communications interoperability and security memorandum of agreement and the basic exchange and cooperation agreement for geospatial cooperation.

The previous NDAA-2017 had designated India as a major defence partner which brings India at par with closest American partners in terms of defence trade and technology transfer.

Meanwhile, a senior defence official yesterday said that India and US defence relationship is on positive track.

"... [As] we look at the global order, and when we look at the evolving security environment within Asia, India's rise and role [is] evolving, [and] we see the United States and India increasingly viewing the region in the same way, and our interests are very much aligned," said Cara Abercrombie, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for South and Southeast Asia.

Addressing a New York audience, she said the relationship creates a high level of dialogue in the Pentagon on a range of issues.

"This is all rooted in when we look at the region and [what] we share. We have the same [aerial] security interests, the same counter-proliferation, counter-piracy, and counterterrorism [interests]," she added.

"We have the same interests in upholding this international system that upholds the rule of law that favours freedom of navigation, open sea lanes of communication, and freedom of over flight.

Those are values that are critically important to the United States and India to our economic prosperity and to our access in the region," Abercrombie said during a panel discussion at the 2017 Global Business Forum in New York City.

 

 

 

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New Delhi: Traders and retailers can file declarations within 90 days claiming tax credit for transition stock after the GST rolls out from 1 July. The draft transition rules for the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime had pegged the time at 60 days.

The transition rules approved by the GST Council provides that "every registered person entitled to take credit of input tax shall, within 90 days of the appointed day, submit a declaration electronically ... specifying separately, the amount of input tax credit to which he is entitled...". It also gives commissioners the power to extend this period by further 90 days on recommendation of the GST Council.

The GST Council, chaired by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and comprising state counterparts, also decided to amend the transition rules allowing traders and retailers to make claim of 60 percent against the CGST or SGST dues where the tax rate exceeds 18 percent. In cases where the GST rate is below 18 percent, only 40 percent deemed credit will be available against CGST and SGST dues. To avail this, a manufacturer can issue a Credit Transfer Document (CTD) as evidence for excise payment on goods cleared before the introduction of GST to the dealer. The dealer availing credit using CTD would also have to maintain copies of all invoices relating to buying and selling from the manufacturer to the dealer, through intermediate dealers. CTD shall be issued within 30 days of 1 July, 2017, and details of the same shall be mentioned in specified forms by manufacturer and such dealer/distributor availing the credit.

"This provision comes as a sigh of relief for entire dealers/distributors network of motor vehicle and other conveyances, as such dealers/distributors would get the entire credit of excise paid by original manufacturer," Nangia & Co Directors (Indirect Tax) Rajat Mohan said.

The draft transition law had said that once GST is implemented, a company could claim credit of up to 40 percent of their CGST or SGST dues for excise duty paid on stock held by businesses prior to the rollout.

Dealers had demanded a hike in the quantum of input tax credit for transition stock and hence the GST Council in its June 3 meeting amended the transition rules. Besides, in cases where Integrated GST (IGST) is paid on sale of such goods, deemed credit would be available at the rate of 30 percent of IGST paid, if the IGST rate is 18 percent or above and 20 percent of IGST paid in other cases. The draft rules issued earlier did not mention this.

For claiming deemed credit, the goods should be leviable to excise duty or additional customs duty and the goods should not be unconditionally exempt from the whole of duty of excise. For claiming credit of service tax or VAT paid in the current regime against GST liability for supplies made in GST regime, a dealer would be required to furnish details of proportion of such supply made.

"The transition rules specify that individual states may insert a new provision giving the details of methodology of calculation of the VAT paid which would be available as ITC of state tax under specified condition," Mohan said.

Further, the government will refund 100 percent excise duty for goods costing above Rs 25,000 and bearing a brand name of the manufacturer and are serially numbered like TV, fridge or car chasis.

 

 

 

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HIGHLIGHTS

  • 1.NIA says suspected traders over-invoiced bills while exporting goods.
     
  • 2.A select set traders work on pay rolls of terror outfits to look after trades for them.
     
  • 3.Majority of items traded with Pakistan are grown & manufactured in Kashmir.
     

The trade and business with Pakistan has come under scanner of the National Investigating Agency (NIA), as it has allegedly fallen into the hands of money launderers, who are using it to fund separatists to fuel violence in valley.

Several teams of NIA, since the last 48 hours, have been conducting raids in Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana and Delhi in connection with an alleged case of terror financing by Pakistan-based terror outfits and the separatists in the Valley.

Senior NIA officers are probing money link between traders in India with those across the LoC. Businessmen, whose houses and offices were raided in Delhi and Haryana were mostly involved in business of dry fruits, spices, fruits, leather, shawls etc.

 

Officials claim that traders under suspicion used to export goods having over-invoiced bills and they would route the amount thus raised, to pro-freedom leaders for to fund unrest in Kashmir.

Sources say city traders estimate price of goods at almost double that is actually paid to them by traders in Pakistan. Prices appears to be legal on papers. Traders channel the sum, keeping their share of commission.

The agency is also probing claims that say large-scale transfer of funds from Pakistan to India has been taking place through import of goods, including almonds from California. NIA found that food items are imported from Pakistan at very low prices and sold at double in India. Huge quantity of California almonds, traded between India and Pakistan, are sourced at Rs 350 from Pakistan and sold at Rs 650 in India.

There are a select set of traders who work on the pay rolls of terrorist organisations to take care of trades, the profit of which funds terror. NIA also found a list of 21 items that are being imported by Pak traders at a very low cost, the highest profit margin being drawn from California almonds.

Majority of the items traded with Pakistan are grown or manufactured in Kashmir making it easier to route money. NIA claims that such trade is a threat to the national security as the offence involved is of raising funds for militant acts, which is punishable under Section 17 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, a scheduled offence under the NIA Act, 2008.

NIA on Sunday conducted fresh raids in the residences of separatist leaders etc., seizing foreign currency. On Saturday it raided 29 locations and recovered unaccounted account books, Rs 2 crore of cash and letterheads of banned terror groups such as the Pakistanbased Lashker-e-Taiba and Hizbul Mujahideen.

During the searches, a few thousand Pakistani currencies belonging to the UAE and Saudi Arabia as well as incriminating documents were found and seized.

NIA also alleged that since the Cross-Line of Control trade at Kashmir's Uri and Jammu's Chakan-da-bad was based on a barter system, some businessmen under- or over-invoiced their bills, and the difference in payment was later used for promoting subversive activities in the Valley.

 

 

 

 

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After mammoth celebrations across the country to mark three years of the Narendra Modi government, the prime minister is embarking on a four-nation visit to Germany, Spain, Russia and France. This European tour sojourn kicks off on Monday, with Modi setting off for Berlin.

India and Germany have been strategic partners since 2000. But at the core of the relationship is a strong economic partnership. Many of the things that make up Modi’s vision of India — Skill development, Digital India, Make in India and giving an impetuous to small and medium-sized business — encompass what Germany can provide. In fact India’s needs and Germany’s expertise are a perfect fit. So the prime minister will hope to further strengthen and expand this relationship. The India-Germany inter-government consultations will take this process forward.

Germany is India’s largest trading partner within the EU. It is also one of the leading foreign direct investors in the country, with as many as 1,600 German companies operating in India. Six hundred joint ventures are already in place according to Indian officials.

With fears of countries leaving the EU after Britain now having receded, a free trade agreement with Europe will be now be looked at with fresh enthusiasm. So far, 16 rounds of negotiations have been completed and both India and the EU are keen to get this agreement signed and sealed. No dates are yet on the horizon as yet, because the EU must now go through the arduous process of untangling Britain from the bloc. It will take more time to materialise.

On Monday evening, after the prime minister lands in Berlin, he and German chancellor Angela Merkel will have a quiet dinner at her country residence at Schloss Meseberg. Here, they will hold wide-ranging discussions on global, regional and bilateral issues.

Terrorism will be a big part of this conversation as terror strikes have become a global phenomena. The latest attack in Manchester is just one of the many deadly strikes across Europe. The prime minister is likely to speak about the terror emanating from Pakistan as well as his take on what is happening in Afghanistan. Both leaders will exchange views on how best the international community can work together against this common issue.

China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative is certain to figure in the talks. Modi is likely to point out why Delhi decided to skip the mega event in Beijing earlier this month. The South China Sea, where both Germany and India share a similar view, will come up while discussing the Asia-Pacific region.

Merkel, on her part, is likely to give Modi a brief on the recently-concluded G-7 meet and the future of the Paris climate agreement. US president Donald Trump has refused to endorse it and wants more time to think it over. Merkel is unhappy with his position on NATO. She said at a meeting on Sunday that Europe needs to be more self-reliant when it comes to defence. In other words, she exhorted Europe not to always rely on the US to do the heavy lifting.

India’s entry to the Nuclear Suppliers Group will certainly be raised by the prime minister. Although Germany has already said it would back India’s claim. German Ambassador to India Martin Ney said at a news conference ahead of the prime minister’s visit that Germany supports India’s entry not just to the NSG, but to other non-proliferation oufits like the Wassenaar Arrangement and the Australia Group as well.

Ney said that the two governments will ramp up efforts on vocational training, education, renewable energy and railways. The ambassador lauded government efforts on enabling foreign companies to do business in India.

On Tuesday, the India-Germany inter-governmental consultations takes off. Modi and Merkel will lead their respective delegations. The Indian entourage includes Minister for Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan, Minister for Renewable Energy Piyush Goyal, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar. A number of MoUs in the key areas of trade, investment and energy are likely to be signed.

A defence procurement agreement is being discussed by the two sides. "India is a strategic partner for Germany. Of course, we have our export control regimes and they will continue to govern our
dealings in export. India is a strategic partner and providing stability in Asia and there is no reason why the government-to-government approach should not make further progress," Ney said.

At a briefing by the Indian side, Joint Secretary (Europe West) Randhir Jaiswal said in answer to a question, "Defence is an important component of our relationship, we have regular meetings to take forward defence cooperation and hopefully we can make it more attractive in the days to come for German companies to invest in India as part of Make in India programme."

Modi and Merkel will also have a luncheon meeting with business leaders from both countries after which the prime minister will address the India-Germany business summit.

On Tuesday evening, Modi leaves for Spain and then on to Russia and France.

 

 

 

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