Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who on Wednesday took the decision that VIP vehicles should do away with red beacons, said “Every Indian is a VIP”.
Replying to a tweet hailing the government decision, Modi said: “Every Indian is special. Every Indian is a VIP.”
In another post, Modi said: “It should have gone long ago. Glad that today a strong beginning has been made.”
“These symbols are out of touch with the spirit of new India.”
The decision was taken by Prime Minister Modi, who informed the cabinet about it. Soon after the announcement, several ministers removed the red beacons from their vehicles.
The central government on Wednesday announced that no dignitary will be allowed to flaunt red beacons atop their vehicles from May 1, and necessary changes in the laws for the purpose are being brought about.
Five months have passed since the demonetisation drive, but the people of India continue to face a shortage of cash in banks and ATMs. The Times of India reports that more than 90% of the ATMs in the northern region do not have cash, and in the southern states as many as 65% of ATMs have run dry.
Speaking to TOI, State Bank of India (SBI) deputy general manager Ajoy Kumar Pandit said the customers are losing confidence in them due to the crisis. “Nearly 70 per cent of our 648 ATMs in the three districts are out of cash. The rest will also become dry in the next few days as we do not have cash to refill the machines. We are helpless from our side,” he said.
On 5 April, Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis told the state legislative assembly that his government was studying the “Uttar Pradesh model of farm loan waiver”. Fadnavis indicated his government may consider a similar sop, though in a different fashion.
For the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief minister, this was a departure from his own narrative. The change in the narrative has not come from within. Prime Minister Narendra Modi pushed Fadnavis, and possibly some other chief ministers too, onto this suicidal trajectory, when he announced in a campaign rally on 15 February that the BJP, if voted to power in Uttar Pradesh, would waive crop loans.
The opposition Congress and Nationalist Congress Party in Maharashtra are down but they have not completely lost their reflexes for conventional politics. They quickly latched on to the Prime Minister’s promise, which the BJP soon formalised by including it in its UP manifesto, and revived their demand for loan waiver that Fadnavis had till then dismissed with ease. Ever eager to attack the BJP and Modi, the Shiv Sena joined in and Uddhav Thackeray sent in his ministers to meet Fadnavis and remind him that the BJP has been in power in the state since October 2014 and yet, no farm loan waiver had been announced.
To be sure, the BJP in Maharashtra did not promise farm loan waiver during the 2014 assembly elections. One BJP minister in Maharashtra, who did not wish to be identified, said that the Maharashtra government was unnecessarily being asked to honour a promise made by the UP BJP.
Amazon is doubling down on its bet to to grow its streaming business in India, announcing on Friday a long-term exclusive deal that will bring Lionsgate’s top films to its Prime video service in the country.
While the terms of the deal were not disclosed, the partnership with Lionsgate will bring Oscar winning films like La La Land and other titles like Deepwater Horizon to Indian viewers. Moreover, these movies will not be available on satellite or cable television.
Jeff Bezos’ ecommerce site is betting big on growth in India and first launched its video streaming service in the world’s second most populous country in December. It is also working on the production of an original Indian series. On its most recent earnings call, chief financial officer Brian Olsavsky said that India “continues to be a rather large investment for us” and “we’re bullish on India longer-term and it’s early”.
While Amazon’s ecommerce operations in India face fierce competition from local rival Flipkart, the fast-growing video streaming market is still up for grabs and can help lure more customers to its Prime service.
India’s Tata Sons Ltd has agreed to pay Japan’s NTT Docomo about $1.17 billion in connection with the termination of a joint venture in the South Asian nation, the Nikkei daily reported, without citing its sources.
The deal could be announced as early as Tuesday, the Nikkei reported. Tata Sons and DoCoMo were not immediately available for comments. Tata Teleservices and DoCoMo have been locked in a long tussle over the Japanese company’s move to exit a partnership formed in 2009.
Under the terms of that deal, in the event of an exit, DoCoMo was guaranteed the higher of either half its original investment, or its fair value.
When DoCoMo decided to get out in 2014, Tata was unable to find a buyer for the Japanese firm’s stake and offered to buy the stake itself for half of DoCoMo’s $2.2 billion investment. India’s central bank blocked Tata’s offer, saying a rule change the previous year prevented foreign investors from selling stakes in Indian firms at a pre-determined price.
Docomo proceeded to initiate arbitration in a London court, and won it. Tata was asked to pay a penalty of $1.17 billion, which it has deposited with the Delhi High Court.
Feeling “humiliated” by events since demonetisation, RBI employees today wrote to Governor Urjit Patel protesting against operational “mismanagement” in the exercise and Government impinging its autonomy by appointing an official for currency coordination.
In a letter, they said autonomy and image of RBI has been “dented beyond repair” due to mismanagement and termed appointment of a senior Finance Ministry official as a “blatant encroachment” of its exclusive turf of currency management.
“An image of efficiency and independence that RBI assiduously built up over decades by the strenuous efforts of its staff and judicious policy making has gone into smithereens in no time. We feel extremely pained,” the United Forum of Reserve Bank Officers and Employees said in the letter addressed to Patel.
Commenting on “mismanagement” since November 8, when note ban was announced, and the criticism from different quarters, the letter said, “It’s (RBI’s) autonomy and image have been dented beyond repair.”
At least two of the four signatories — Samir Ghosh of All India Reserve Bank Employees Association and Suryakant Mahadik of All India Reserve Bank Workers Federation — confirmed the letter. The other signatories are C M Paulsil of All India Reserve Bank Officers Association and R N Vatsa of RBI Officers Association.
The forum represents over 18,000 employees of the RBI across the ranks, Ghosh said.