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INDIAN ECONOMY: OVERVIEW, GROWTH & DEVELOPMENT
Japan takes India to WTO over mobile phone import duties

Japan has complained at the World Trade Organization about India’s duties on mobile phones, base stations and routers, and the circuit boards and other components that go into them, a WTO filing showed on Tuesday.

Japan’s complaint, the first step in a legal dispute, said India had sought to foster domestic production by adjusting various taxes including customs duties, especially since it launched the “Make in India” campaign in September 2014.

Some of the tariffs on goods of substantial interest to Japan were now“clearly in excess” of the rates allowed by the WTO, Japan said.

India’s WTO membership terms specified that the import tariff on all the disputed goods was zero percent, but India applied a 20percent tariff to mobile phones and base stations, and tariffs of 10percent, 15percent and 20percent on the other products, Japan said.

Trade data provided by the International Trade Centre, a U.N.-WTO joint venture, showed Japan accounted for a tiny proportion of India’s mobile phone imports, valued at $53 million in 2011 and $43 million in 2012, but less than $2 million in all other years in the past decade.

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Decision on oil purchase after Lok Sabha polls, India tells Iran

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj informed her Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif on Tuesday that a decision on purchasing Iranian oil in the face of US sanctions will be made after the conclusion of India’s general election, people familiar with developments said.

Iranian oil exports and Tehran’s approach to recent developments in the region, including tensions between Iran and the US over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or the Iranian nuclear deal, figured in the discussions between Zarif and Swaraj.

Zarif arrived in New Delhi late on Monday for a previously unscheduled visit to lobby for India’s support against the backdrop of the Iran-US tensions. He last visited India in January, and the current trip was organised at short notice at Zarif’s request, the people cited above said.

When Zarif raised the purchase of oil from Iran, Swaraj reiterated India’s position that a decision will be made after the general elections while keeping in mind the country’s “commercial considerations, energy security and economic interests”, the people said.

The US decision to end exemptions to sanctions on Iranian oil imports on May 2 has hit India. Tehran was among New Delhi’s top three energy suppliers, providing 23.6 million tonnes of oil last year, or about 10percent of the country’s energy needs.

The sanctions were imposed after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

Zarif briefed the Indian side on Iran’s approach to developments in the region, including on JCPOA, and also reviewed bilateral cooperation.

Indigo plans budget business class seats to lure Europe-Asia fliers

Low-cost airlines, the pioneers of brief discomfort at bargain prices, have struggled to master long-haul flights. Now one of the world’s most successful budget carriers is considering cut-price business class seats as a way into the Europe-Asia market.

India’s IndiGo, which currently flies as far as Istanbul, is mapping out an ambitious long-distance network. The airline aims to start one-stop trips further into Europe within six months, Chief Executive Officer Ronojoy Dutta said in an interview in New Delhi last week.

IndiGo has captured almost half the Indian market in just over a decade by offering cheap, punctual flights — and charging extra for almost anything else. Dutta’s long-haul plans are forcing a product overhaul to help passengers endure longer flights and he’s considering everything from extra snacks to a brand-new business class.

“Once you get to six, seven, eight hours, the body gets tired, people need to use the washrooms more, people need to eat more frequently, all of those things change,” Dutta said. “We have to redesign our product. Is it more pitch, is it more food, is it more hot towels, is it a business class?”

Success could upend a long-haul market between Asia and Europe that’s long been the preserve of full-service carriers from Singapore Airlines Ltd. and British Airways to Emirates Airline and Cathay Pacific Airways. While IndiGo has become Asia’s largest low-cost carrier by market value, other no-frills rivals that have tried to go long-haul have left a hit-and-miss legacy.

Discount carrier Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA, which launched services on intercontinental routes, has been weighed down by losses after a rapid expansion. AirAsia X Bhd., the Malaysian long-haul, low-cost airline, opted to focus on Asia after on-off services to London, although it still flies to a Honolulu, via a stop in Osaka. Both airlines offer premium seats with extra legroom, meals and in-flight entertainment.

SC seeks response from centre, cbse on plea seeking 10pc reservation for EWS

The Supreme Court on Thursday sought responses from the Centre and CBSE on a plea seeking 10percent reservation for economically weaker sections in the Central Teacher Eligibility Test (CTET), 2019.

A vacation bench comprising justices Indira Banerjee and Sanjiv Khanna issued notices to the Centre and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) on the plea and asked them to respond to it by July 1, the next date of hearing.

The court was hearing a plea by some petitioners belonging to economically weaker sections and planning to appear in CTET 2019.

The petitioners told the apex court that CBSE published an advertisement on January 23, 2019 for conducting CTET in which benefit of ten percent reservation has not been given to candidates belonging to economically weaker sections of society.

“The CBSE published advertisement dated January 23, 2019 for conducting CTET, 2019 in which this (reservation) benefit has not been given to economically weaker section and therefore the present writ petition is being filed to make sure that people covered under economically weaker section are given similar benefit like other reserved category (SC, ST and OBC) starting with CTET-2019 advertisement,” their plea has said.

However, in the previous hearing on May 13, the court had said that for qualifying examinations there cannot be any reservation, as it comes into play only during admissions, adding, “the notification for examination does not give any reservation to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe either.”

“For qualifying examinations there cannot be any reservation. This is wholly misconceived. This (CTET) is merely a qualifying examination. The issue of reservation will come up only at the time of admission,” the bench had said.

 

Pak airspace to stay shut for Indian flights till May 30

Pakistan on Wednesday decided not to lift its airspace ban for Indian flights till May 30, as Islamabad is awaiting the outcome of the Lok Sabha polls in India.

Pakistan fully closed its airspace after an Indian Air Force strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror camp in Balakot on February 26. However, Pakistan opened its airspace for all flights except for New Delhi, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur on March 27.

“The top officials of defence and aviation ministries held a meeting on Wednesday to reconsider opening its airspace for Indian flights. They decided that Pakistan’s airspace will remain banned for the Indian flights till May 30,” a senior government official told PTI after the meeting.

He said the Civil Aviation Authority has also notified the airmen. The authority issued a notification after the meeting to pilots, advising them of circumstances relating to the state of flying. The official said the government will now consider lifting of the ban on Pakistan’s airspace for Indian flights on May 30. Pakistan’s science and technology minister Fawad Chaudhry early this week said the status quo will remain till the conclusion of elections in India.

“Status quo will remain till the elections are over in India. I don’t see any improvement in relations between Pakistan and India till the elections are over and a new government is installed. The ban on airspace by each other I think will also continue till Indian polls,” Chaudhry said.

Owing to the flight ban on its airspace by India, Pakistan has suspended its operation for Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur which is causing a loss of millions of rupees per day.

A senior PIA official told PTI that the national flag carrier’s loss is running into billions of rupees because of suspension of the flights especially to Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur.

CBI withdraws application from Delhi court

The CBI Thursday withdrew from a Delhi court its application that had sought permission to further probe the politically sensitive Rs 64-crore Bofors payoff case.

The agency told Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Navin Kumar Kashyap that it wants to withdraw the application filed on February 1, 2018.

It had moved the trial court seeking permission for further probe in the matter saying it had come across fresh material and evidence.

The agency on Thursday submitted before the court that decision on further course of action would be taken by it and wanted to withdraw the application for now.

Taking note of CBI’s stand, the judge said: “For the reason best known to the CBI, in case they want to withdraw the application, they have the right as they are the applicants.”The court on December 4, 2018 had questioned as to why the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) required its permission to further probe the matter.

The CBI had also filed an appeal in the Supreme Court in February 2, 2018 against the May 31, 2005 verdict of the Delhi high Court discharging all the accused in the case.

The apex court had on November 2, 2018 dismissed CBI’s appeal in which it had sought condonation of the 13 year delay in filing the appeal against the high court judgment.

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In 15 years, under-5 child deaths in India halved

India has more than halved the annual deaths among children under five years, from 2.5 million in 2000 to 1.2 million in 2015, but wide disparities remain between states, a Lancet study has found.

Assam’s under-5 death rate is close to eight times that in Goa, which reported 9.7 such deaths per 1,000 live births compared to Assam’s 73.1, found researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health after analysing government health survey data on the causes of under-5 deaths from 2000-2015.

India has the world’s biggest birth cohort, with 26 million babies born every year, and the largest number of child deaths.

The top causes of under-5 deaths are pre-term birth complications, preventable infectious diseases such as pneumonia and diarrhoea, followed by injuries, meningitis, measles and malaria, according to the study published in The Lancet Global Health.

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