Daily News Updates 15 February 2018

Rs. 11,500 crore scam rocks PNB, stocks hit

In what could be one of the biggest frauds in the Indian banking system, state-run lender Punjab National Bank (PNB) reported unauthorised transactions worth Rs. 11,500 crore in one of its branches in south Mumbai.

The Enforcement Directorate has registered a money laundering case in the matter, which involves Mumbai-based billionaire diamond merchant Nirav Modi. A case has been registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation against him and his business associates as well as a serving PNB official and a retired deputy manager of the bank.

In a communication to the stock exchanges on Wednesday morning, the country’s second largest lender said it had detected some unauthorised transactions in one of its branches for the benefit of a few select account holders with their apparent ‘connivance’. “The quantum of such transactions is $1771.69 million. The matter is already referred to law enforcement agencies to examine and book the culprits as per law of the land,” the communication said.

Stock plunges

The bank’s stock plunged almost 10% through the day and its market capitalisation eroded by nearly Rs. 3,900 crore by the end of trading on the Bombay Stock Exchange.

The government also swung into action with the Finance Ministry asking all the banks to carry out a clean-up exercise. Financial Services Secretary Rajeev Kumar said the government will not tolerate ‘unclean banks’ while adding that the case dates back to 2011, when a fraudulent Letter of Undertaking (LoU) was submitted to PNB. “However, the PNB case is an isolated one. The CBI is looking into the case, and 10 employees of the bank have been suspended,” Mr. Kumar added.

Centre studying plea to ban PFI

Kerala had raised issue at annual meet of DGPs, attended by Modi and Rajnath

Kerala has asked for a ban on the Popular Front of India (PFI), a Muslim organisation that is mainly operating out of the State, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju has said.

The issue was discussed at the annual DGP meet held in Madhya Pradesh’s Tekanpur in January, where Kerala police chief Lokanath Behera gave a detailed presentation on the PFI’s growth and activities in the State.

The session was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and other senior officials in the security establishment. “Kerala has pressed for a ban on the PFI and we are examining the case,” said Mr. Rijiju.

Mr. Behera listed four cases where members of the PFI were involved in criminal activities, said a senior Home Ministry official. The Centre will collect more facts and evidence about the activities of the outfit before declaring it an “unlawful association”, the official added.

Attempts to reach Mr. Behera for his comments were not successful.

“It has never happened in the past that activities of a particular organisation were discussed threadbare at a DGP meet. The PFI is under the scanner, but is not yet banned. On earlier occasions, organisations like SIMI (Students’ Islamic Movement of India) and Indian Mujahideen were discussed at DGP meets, but only after they were banned,” said the official.

The DGP meet is an annual affair organised by the Intelligence Bureau where issues concerning internal security are discussed.

The National Investigation Agency had last year sent a detailed report to the Home Ministry and mentioned four cases where cadres of the PFI had either been charge-sheeted or convicted.

Tribals produce high quality residue-free coffee

They use traditional low-cost cultivation methods

With no financial or technical support from anybody, Paliyar tribals living at Korankombu have been producing high quality, chemical and residue-free coffee using their traditional low-cost cultivation methods.

Poverty, no access to latest technologies and lack of funds to buy fertilizers and pesticides are a blessing in disguise for these people as they have been adopting their traditional practices to grow coffee in the reserve forest areas.

“We have no money to buy inputs. So, we apply natural manure and organic waste generated in our field. Adequate shade is necessary for plants to grow and for better yield. Pest attack is under control this year due to good showers,” says K. Murugan, traditional coffee planter at Korankombu.

They raise both Arabica and Robusta variety of coffee. While tall Robusta crops are grown near field bund, Arabica trees are planted inside the field. They neither cut forest trees nor clean land to raise coffee. Natural coffee production does not affect the yield. They have harvested 600 kg of coffee in an acre.

“We never pay wages to labourers for plucking fruits. Family members of one tribal planter work in other’s farm. ‘Shram dhan’ is still in vogue among tribal planters for harvesting,” says G. Sankar, another tribal planter.

The irony is that no coffee research station officials has visited the village so far. Forest officials and Q branch police are the only visitors to the village. Collector T.G. Vinay was the first top-level officer who visited the village to take part in a mass contact programme, he said.

With no contact with outer world, they depend on big coffee estate owners to sell their high quality produce. They hand over their entire produce to the estate owners and receive whatever they offer for their survival. Even today, tuber available in the reserve forests is their only food.

Impressed by their work culture, the Forest Department has come forward to legalise their rights to use forest land for agriculture purpose under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.

More than 36 coffee planters’ families would benefit. Recognising their legal rights alone would not bring any fortune to them. Direct marketing support with brand label for their produce is the need of the hour.

The State and Central governments should recognise their product and popularise them throughout the world.

Rouhani visit signals balance in ties

Iranian President coming exactly a month after Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will visit India from February 15 to 17, exactly a month after Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran’s biggest rival, made a historic visit.

Officials say Mr. Rouhani’s visit will send out a message that India aims for balance in its ties in the neighbourhood.

Mr. Rouhani and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will seek to iron out issues on trade, connectivity, banking and energy.

“During the forthcoming visit of the President of Iran, both sides would review the progress achieved in bilateral relations and also exchange views on regional and international issues of mutual interest,” the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

Since Mr. Netanyahu’s visit, Mr. Modi has visited Palestine, Jordan, the UAE and Oman.

“Clearly, the government is trying to cover all bases,” former Ambassador to Iran K.C. Singh said. “But it remains to be seen whether the Iranian establishment, including the clerics and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, are comfortable with India’s relations with all these other countries. Iran is after all, not just important for India’s energy needs but also its only route for access to Central Asia.”

Port project

Among the subjects expected to be discussed are the progress of the $500-million Beheshti port project in Chabahar, where India is expected to complete development of berths later this year. India is already routing a consignment of 1.1 million tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan through the existing facilities at Chabahar.

On bilateral trade, the biggest stumbling block is banking channels, say diplomats in Tehran and Delhi. The two sides are now discussing the possibility of a “rupee-rial mechanism”, in addition to the current channel through UCO Bank for rupee payments. However, European banks have refused to support the trade, given the uncertainty over fresh sanctions from the U.S.

Another issue is the pending negotiations over the Farzad-B gas and oil fields that India has expressed its interest in. During Mr. Modi’s visit in 2016, the two sides had hoped to see an agreement signed quickly, but according to officials dealing with the negotiations, the discussions had not made much progress because of what they called “Iran’s shifting goalposts” on the bid for Farzad-B.

Sources said even negotiations for India’s bid for Russian and UAE oilfields that started much later had been concluded by now.

Russia’s Gazprom has concluded deals for several oilfields and plans joint ventures with Iran’s National Iranian Oil Company, much to India’s chagrin.

However, officials believe that India’s oil imports from Iran, which had plummeted to new lows last year, will go up this year, because of “better terms from Iran”, which is anticipating possible new sanctions being imposed by the Trump administration.

FATF meeting

Iran is likely to seek India’s support at the upcoming meeting of the UN’s Financial Action Task Force, where Tehran is hoping to exit a blacklist on money laundering and terror finance, even as India hopes to see Pakistan put on a “grey-list” at the meeting.

Mr. Rouhani will arrive in Delhi on February 17 after visiting Hyderabad, where he will address students and religious scholars at a series of functions and the Friday congregation at the Makkah Masjid. He will be the first Iranian head of state to do so.

On Saturday, he will be given an official welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhavan before he and Mr. Modi sit down for bilateral talks. Mr. Rouhani is expected to return to Tehran the same evening, after delivering a special address at a foreign policy think-tank.

We don’t communalise troops, says Army

Statement comes after AIMIM chief Owaisi said five of the seven persons killed in the Sunjuwan attack were Muslims

Warning against communalising the ranks of Indian Army, Lieutenant-General Devraj Anbu, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Command, said here on Wednesday, “Indian Army is a sarv dharam sthal [An abode for all religions]’ and do not communalise troops.”

“We don’t communalise martyrs and those making statements don’t know the Army well ... I never doubt anybody’s credentials who are under my command. They are motivated and patriotic soldiers,” said Lt. Gen. Anbu, while addressing the Investiture Ceremony of the Northern Command.

‘Doubt our loyalties’

The statement came a day after All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi said five of the seven persons killed in the Sunjuwan attack were Kashmiri Muslims.

“They call Muslims Pakistanis. The militants are killing us too. Terrorists are not seeing that they are Muslims or Hindus. They are considering us Indians. But there are people in our country who doubt our loyalties,” Mr. Owaisi said.

Lt. Gen. Anbu said 185 to 220 militants in the south and 190 to 225 in the north of the Pir Panjal “are ready for infiltration”.

“The enemy is frustrated and is trying to attack the softer targets. When they fail at borders, they attack camps,” he said.

Describing Hizbul Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Muhammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba as “one tanzeem [group]”, the Army commander expressed concern over youngsters, especially in the age group of 20 to 30, joining the terror outfits. “We need to address this trend. In 2017, we focussed on leadership and eliminated it. Social media is also responsible for the increase in terror. It is engaging the youth on a large scale,” he said.

He underlined that the Army was well equipped and prepared to foil terrorists’ nefarious designs on the borders and the hinterland.

Three important things

“We have to concentrate on three things, first to stop infiltration, second to eliminate the anti-nationals in the hinterland and third to arrest the radical elements active in the region,” he said.

On ceasefire violation, he said there were more casualties than the official figures of Pakistan, which say 192 Pakistani soldiers were killed in Indian retaliation last year.

India offers support for reconstruction of Iraq

Akbar says country will come up with project-specific proposals

India has called for a comprehensive political settlement and reconciliation in Iraq at the International Conference for Reconstruction of Iraq in Kuwait, where major world powers are meeting to chalk out a plan of recovery for the country.

Union Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar, who is leading the Indian delegation, has announced that India will play its part in the reconstruction, and called for an end to global terrorism.

Collaborative approach

“We will play our part with project-specific proposals. We support the important role assigned to private sector investors in the rebuilding of the terrorist-affected areas in Iraq. We are willing to play a substantive role in major projects in petrochemicals, health, education, infrastructure and other sectors. We will also look at any specific requests for rehabilitation projects and essential supplies like medicines, equipment, etc., as required for internally displaced persons as part of our assistance programme,” said Mr. Akbar indicating a collaborative approach to rebuilding the country, which has witnessed war since the early 1980s.

The conference being held in Iraq’s neighbour Kuwait has so far received promises of billions of dollars in the form of lines of credit from the international community and private investors, but reports say that Baghdad is yet to raise the resources for recovery from the destruction from years of foreign invasion and war with the Islamic State.

Pact against terror

Mr. Akbar drew the attention of the conference towards India’s current campaign for a comprehensive global convention against terrorism.

“This is also the moment to remind the international community that an early adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, a draft of which was proposed by India as early as 1996...,” he said.

During the visit of Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Jaafari last year, India assured Baghdad of support in the reconstruction of the country. Since the outbreak of the war in 2003, India had frequently responded to the humanitarian needs in Iraq and contributed in several ways, including providing $10 million in aid towards the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq (IRFFI) for investments, reconstruction and development in Iraq.

NIA to quiz officials of Nagaland CMO

Alleged diversion of funds to NSCN(K)

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has summoned three officials of the Nagaland Chief Minister’s Office for questioning in connection with an investigation into alleged diversion of government funds to the banned terrorist organisation NSCN(K).

An NIA official said the officials, including Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang’s Officer on Special Duty, Ruokuovizo Chupno, had been asked to appear before the chief investigating officer Jasveer Singh in Guwahati on Thursday in the year-and-a-half-old case.

Election eve move

The State is going to the polls on February 27. The Nagaland People’s Front of Mr. Zeliang and the BJP are in alliance, but for the elections, the BJP has tied up with a breakaway group, the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party.

Since August 2016, the NIA has been investigating cases against various State government departments that allegedly paid levies to the Naga National Political Groups. Seven government officials have been put on trial in the case so far.

State government employees took out a rally in Nagaland on November 21 last year, demanding that the the Union government withdraw the NIA investigations.

In October, the NIA arrested former Tourism Director Purakhu Angami, Additional Director of Agriculture V. Aza, Joint Director of Irrigation Hutoi Sema and Fisheries Superintendent Kekhriesatuo Tep on charges of alleged extortions and illegal tax collections on behalf of the NSCN(K). The NIA says Isac Sumi, self-styled brigadier of the banned outfit, has ordered the collections.

SC may hear plea to take up two-child policy norm

Petition says couples who follow policy should be rewarded

The Supreme Court may hear a plea to direct the Centre to give a “serious thought” to the rise in population and adopt the two-child policy norm in family planning.

The PIL petition filed by activist Anupam Bajpai said couples who followed the policy should be rewarded with incentives, while those who violated the “norm” should be punished by withdrawal of government “facilities and concessions”.

“The citizen should have a limit in giving birth only to a maximum of two children, failing which the concerned person shall attract disqualification with respect to government facilities and other benefits being provided by the government to its citizens,” the petition, filed through advocate Shiv Kumar Tripathi, said. It said unless measures are not taken to course correct the mindset of the present generation, future generations may be left to lead miserable lives.

The petition asked the court to direct the Centre to “motivate the people of this country” to follow the norm.

It said the pressure put on natural resources by the growing population has led to land degradation, dangerous levels of pollution, global warming and depletion of ground and surface water.

“The rapid population growth and economic development in the country are degrading the environment through the uncontrolled growth of urbanisation and industrialisation, expansion and intensification of agriculture and destruction of the natural habitat.”

“If the population of India continues to multiply with the existing rate, the impact on the environment could be devastating,” it said.

Mizoram seeks more security along border

To stop Rohingya from entering the State

Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla has urged Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to beef up security along the border with Myanmar to prevent Rohingya Muslims from entering the Northeastern State, an official statement said on Wednesday.

Serious problems

Mr. Lal Thanhawla had met Mr. Singh in Delhi on Tuesday and discussed wide-ranging security issues with him, it said.

The Chief Minister informed the Home Minister that the State could face serious problems if Rohingya refugees and terrorists from the Rakhine state in Myanmar enter Mizoram.

He also expressed concern over the recent clashes between the Myanmar Army and the Arakan militants along the border on the Myanmar side, resulting in the entry of over thousands of refugees to Mizoram, the statement said.

Refugees in Mizoram

Over 1,600 Myanmarese nationals have taken shelter in south Mizoram’s Lawngtlai district after the Myanmar Army launched a massive crackdown on the Arakan militants since November 25 last, the State government officials had said recently.

Trump mulls China sanctions, scrapping S. Korea trade deal

Accuses Beijing of decimating American steel, aluminium industries via subsidies

U.S. President Donald Trump threatened retaliatory action against two major Asian trading partners on Tuesday, warning of sanctions against China while vowing to revise or scrap a free trade deal with South Korea.

Accusing Beijing of decimating American steel and aluminium industries, Mr. Trump said he was “considering all options”, including tariffs and quotas.

Mr. Trump recently received two Commerce Department reports concerning alleged Chinese subsidies for steel and aluminium exports-materials that are vital for industries from construction to autos.

Spectre of a trade war

He has another two months to decide on possible retaliatory action, but strongly indicated that he is leaning toward hitting back at Beijing.

“I will make a decision that reflects the best interests of the U.S., including the need to address overproduction in China and other countries,’ he said.

Experts believe any U.S. sanctions would prompt China to respond with sanctions of its own, raising the spectre of a trade war between the world’s two largest economies.

China produces around half of the world’s steel and is accused of flooding the market to keep the economic wheels turning at home.

For decades, Chinese leaders have been consumed with the need to — as former President Hu Jintao once put it — create “25 million jobs a year.” But Mr. Trump also is under domestic pressure. He came to office vowing to be a champion of America’s rust belt and said Monday he had to act to save the “empty factories” he saw on the campaign trail.

Widening trade deficit

The U.S. trade deficit — which Mr. Trump has vowed repeatedly to fix — widened even further during his first year in office, up 12% to $566 billion.

“They’re dumping and destroying our industry, and destroying the families of workers, and we can’t let that happen,” Mr. Trump told a group of Republican and Democratic lawmakers at the White House.

Mr. Trump received some support from the group, but also warnings that action against China could drive up prices and hurt U.S. manufacturing outside the steel and aluminium sectors.

“Mr. President, I think we do need to be careful here, that we don’t start a reciprocal battle on tariffs,’ said Republican Senator Roy Blunt. “You know, we make aluminium and we make steel” he said. “But we buy a lot of aluminium and we buy a lot of steel as well.”

Daniel Ikenson of the pro-trade CATO institute said that Trump may be forced to moderate his actions, if not his tone.

“Despite the rhetoric, Mr. Trump doesn’t want to subvert ‘his’ economy,” Mr. Ikenson wrote this week.

Israeli police name Tata in case against Netanyahu

Ratan Tata’s office called it a ‘grossly incorrect’ reference

The name of Ratan Tata figures in the Israeli police recommendations seeking to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on graft charges, according to an Israeli media report, which was on Wednesday dismissed by the industrialist’s office as “grossly incorrect” in its references about him.

In the so-called Case 1000, in which Mr. Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, are suspected of receiving illicit gifts from billionaire benefactors, Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and Australian resort owner James Packer, the Indian Industrialist is also said to be a part of a project that Mr. Netanyahu tried to push forward to help Mr. Milchan.

“According to the police, the most glaring example of Netanyahu working against Israel’s interests to benefit Milchan was his efforts (to) promote a free trade zone on the Israel-Jordan border, a project the Hollywood producer sought to promote as part of his partnership with Indian industrialist Ratan Naval Tata,” Ynetnews reported.

Project scrapped

The project, which police noted went against the recommendations of the defence establishment, would have generated Mr. Milchan and Mr. Tata “a huge profit”, but ended up being scrapped because it would have cost the state an unreasonable amount in security expenses, the news portal said.

Commenting on the news report, the Indian industrialist’s office on Wednesday said that it is “grossly incorrect in its references about Mr. Ratan N. Tata”.

Tata testified

Last year, the Israeli media reported that Mr. Tata “testified” before the Israeli police in connection with this allegation during his trip to Tel Aviv in the end of October-November on the sidelines of a business event.

A statement emailed to PTI by Mr. Tata’s office did not deny the meeting between him and the Israeli officials. But it said the reports in Israeli media on the contents of the meeting are “factually incorrect and appear to have been motivated”.

‘Pak.-backed militants to continue attacks in India’

It is restricting counter-terror cooperation: U.S. intel chief

Pakistan-supported terrorist groups would continue to carry out attacks inside India, America’s intelligence chief has warned, amid a spike in terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats’ remarks came days after a group of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists struck the Sunjuwan Military Camp in Jammu, killing seven people, including six soldiers.

Pakistan, in fact, will continue to threaten U.S. interests by deploying new nuclear weapons capabilities, maintaining its ties to militants, restricting counter-terrorism cooperation, and drawing closer to China, Mr. Coats said in his testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Safe havens

“Militant groups supported by Islamabad will continue to take advantage of their safe haven in Pakistan to conduct attacks in India and Afghanistan, including against U.S. interests,” Mr. Coats said during the hearing on ‘Worldwide Threat Assessment’ of the U.S. intelligence community.

He said Pakistan’s perception of its eroding position relative to India, reinforced by endemic economic weakness and domestic security issues, almost certainly will exacerbate fears of isolation and drive Islamabad’s pursuit of actions that run counter to U.S. goals for the region.

“Ongoing Pakistani military operations against the Taliban and associated groups probably reflect the desire to appear more proactive and responsive to our requests for more actions against these groups.”

Mid, small caps rule as investors hunt value

BSE MidCap, BSE SmallCap have outpaced Sensex in Feb.

On Wednesday, even as the benchmark Sensex ended the day in the red, the broader BSE MidCap and BSE SmallCap indices gained ground, mirroring a trend that is being seen quite often in the recent past.

Market participants say the mid-cap and small-cap segments are seeing a rally as many investors, especially retail, are once again selectively buying into stocks that had corrected significantly in the recent past and are now available at attractive valuations.

While the Sensex has lost more than 5% this month, the BSE SmallCap index has dropped only 1.2%.

The BSE MidCap index has declined less than 3% till date in February.

Further, in the 12-month period ended January, the mid-cap and small-cap indices had gained 35% and 45% respectively, while the Sensex had added 30% in the same period.

‘Corrected a lot’

“The mid-cap universe has corrected a lot and many good quality stocks are now available at levels that are way below the highs they touched early this year,” said Siddhartha Khemka, Head of Research (Retail), Motilal Oswal Financial Services.

“Investors are still cautious but are selectively buying into this space. They may feel that the market has not yet touched the bottom but are buying since they look attractively valued at current levels,” Mr. Khemka added.

In most of the recent months, the broader indices had outperformed the gains of the benchmark and even in months when the Sensex fell sharply, these indices managed to restrict their fall.

Incidentally, on many days in the recent past when the Sensex ended in the red, the market breadth was positive as many of the side counters managed to gain ground.

On February 7, when the Sensex lost 113 points, the market breadth was strong with more than 2,000 stocks gaining ground as against 757 declines on the BSE with the SmallCap index climbing almost 2%.

Thereafter, on February 9, the Sensex lost more than 400 points but the market breadth was only slightly negative with 1,403 stocks declining as against 1,369 gainers.

Again, the BSE SmallCap along with some of the other broader indices posted advances on that day.

While the mid-cap space spans across several sectors, analysts say that the current buying activity is mostly limited to infrastructure, capital goods, auto & auto ancillaries and companies dependent on a rural recovery and consumer spending.

Gaining momentum’

Amarjeet Maurya, Assistant Vice President - Research (Midcap), Angel Broking, is of the view that mid caps are in the limelight as the market seems to be gaining momentum and investors believe that such stocks will outperform the large caps over a longer period of time.

“Some of the domestic concerns related to earnings and demand growth seem to have subsided as the last quarter saw many mid caps reporting strong corporate numbers. In some cases, the quantum of earnings growth in the December quarter was not seen in the previous 4-5 quarters. This is leading to increased buying in the mid-cap space with consumption theme getting special attention,” said Mr. Maurya.

Centre targets industry to save power

After success with LED, EESL aims at 6,000 MW savings by creating market for energy-efficient motors

The Centre, through its company Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), is planning to replicate its success in the LED space in the commercial sector by creating a market for low-cost, energy-efficient motors, a senior official said.

“A large chunk of energy consumption goes to industry,” S.P. Garnaik, national programme manager (CGM) at EESL told The Hindu. “About 30-34% of the total energy consumption goes to the industrial sector, which is a substantial amount. And out of that, about 70% is electrical energy consumption.” Most of this electricity consumption is due to the use of motor-driven systems, Mr. Garnaik added.

“Now, we can address the efficiency issues in the entire system or as at the sub-assembly level, which is at the motor level,” Addressing the entire system has larger opportunities but is more complex. You need so many technological interventions. So, initially, we decided to address it at a component level,” Mr. Garnaik said.

Using a combination of economies of scale and design efficiencies, Mr. Garnaik said EESL had so far been able to create motors in the capacity range of 1.1 KW to 22 KW that are 30% cheaper and result in an average of 15% lower electricity usage.

‘Other levers’

“Apart from the price benefit, one of the other levers to create demand is the fact that the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion has issued a quality assurance guidance that says that manufacturers will have to supply a minimum energy performance standard adhering to the ‘International Efficiency-2’ (IE-2) level,” Mr. Garnaik said.

The EESL motors are of the IE-3 level, which save between 7% to 23% of electricity compared with the current industry standard, depending on the application, Mr. Garnaik said.

“The present practice is of using non-IE motors,” he said. “About 99% of the motors being used are IE-1 or non-IE.” Phase 1 of the nation-wide programme, to be unveiled by Power Minister R.K. Singh, would seek to replace 1.2 lakh motors of the capacity of 1.1-22 KW, which would save 175 million units of electricity, he said.

In the second phase, , two lakh motors would be replaced, including those of a capacity higher than 22 KW. “There are in total about 11 million motors that can be replaced, which works out to about 15 billion units of electricity being saved,” Mr. Garnaik said. “This can lead to 6,000 MW of capacity reduction. But 11 million cannot be done overnight.”

Harley tariff cut ‘not enough’: Trump

Wants India to reduce import duty on motorcycle to zero, or face ‘reciprocal tax’

President Donald Trump on Tuesday cited the level of customs duty levied in India on Harley-Davidson motorcycle imports as an example of unfair trade and threatened to increase the import tariff on “thousands and thousands” of Indian motorcycles shipped to the U.S.

Mr. Trump had flagged Harley-Davidson in his maiden address to U.S. Congress in March 2017, and several administration officials have subsequently cited the issue as an example in discussions on the ‘America First’ policy.

The Indian government’s recent decision to reduce the tariff on high-end motorcycles from 75% to 50% was not enough, the U.S. president said and sought “zero tax” on the import of motorcycles, since the U.S does not impose any tariff on motorcycles from India.

“We have so many countries... we pay a tremendous tax to get into their countries... Harley Davidson it goes into a certain country; I won’t mention the fact that it happens to be India, in this case,” Mr. Trump told members of Congress during a discussion on the steel industry. “If you are Harley Davidson, you have 50 to75% tax, tariff to get your motorcycle, your product in. And yet they sell thousands and thousands of motorcycles, which a lot of people don’t know, from India into the United States. You know what our tax is? Nothing,” he told the lawmakers.

After Mr. Trump had mentioned the tariff on high-end motorcycles in March, the Indian government had worked on reducing it.

On February 12, India announced a reduction in tariffs on high-end motorcycles, a move that was in contrast with duty increases on several items announced in this month’s Budget.

Mr. Trump indicated he had been informed about the decision by Prime Minister Narendra Modi even before it was announced.

“A great gentleman called me from India and he said, we have just reduced the tariff on motorcycles, reduced it down to 50% from 75, and even 100%,” Mr. Trump said, in an apparent reference to his conversation with Mr. Modi, which was on February 8. The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) announced the decision to slash customs duty on motorcycles to 50%. Earlier, it was up to 75% for new bikes with engines exceeding 800cc capacity and 100% for used motorcycles.

‘Very unfair’

But Mr. Trump expressed his dissatisfaction with the duty.

“I say we should have reciprocal taxes for a case like that. I’m not blaming India. I think it’s great that they can get away with it. I don’t know why people allowed them to get away with it. But there’s an example that’s very unfair. And I think we should have a reciprocal tax.”

India initiates review of anti-dumping duty on Chinese steel wheel imports

In 2013, India imposed duty of up to $613 per tonne on the imports for 5 years

India has initiated a review of anti-dumping duty on flat base steel wheels from China to take a call on “the need for continued imposition of the duties in force.”

The Directorate General of Anti-dumping and allied Duties (DGAD) has initiated the review investigation “to examine whether the expiry of such duty (on imports of flat base steel wheels from China) is likely to lead to continuation or recurrence of dumping and injury to the domestic (Indian) industry.”

Huge trade deficit

The move comes in the backdrop of India’s huge trade deficit with China ($51.1 billion in FY’17).

Kalyani Maxion Wheels Pvt. Ltd. and Wheels India Ltd. have filed an application “alleging likelihood of continuation or recurrence of dumping of the subject goods, originating in or exported from China and consequent injury to the domestic industry.”

They have sought a review and continuation of the anti-dumping duties, imposed on such imports. “The Authority (DGAD) has considered the period of October, 2016 to September, 2017 as the period of investigation. The injury investigation period has however, been considered as the period 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17 and the period of investigation,” the DGAD said.

India had in 2013 imposed duty up to $613 per tonne on import of the product from China for five years. As per the World Trade Organisation, if a company exports a product at a price lower than the price it normally charges on its own home market, it is said to be “dumping” the product.

The global body has also said that the WTO agreement allows governments to act against dumping where there is genuine (“material”) injury to the competing domestic industry.

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