Read about the yellow alert issued by China, the winners at India Golf Awards 2016, the tax exemption for the highest cane growing state and more …..
1) Mumbai’s Siddhivinayak temple to mobilise gold as India scrambles to cut imports:
- The 200-year-old Shree Siddhivinayak temple in Mumbai has said it will deposit a portion of its gold hoard with a bank by the end of the month for recycling, responding to a government campaign to monetise some of the country’s thousands of tonnes of privately owned stocks of gold and cut costly imports.
- Officials from finance ministry and the Reserve Bank of India met on Friday to discuss modifying the much-publicised scheme after managing to attract deposits of only three tonnes of gold in four months out of an estimated pool of 20,000 tonnes stacked away in family lockers and temple vaults.
- Indians love gold, both as a store of wealth and gifts for humans and gods alike, and the country’s appetite for it is next only to China’s. Annual imports run to as much as 1,000 tonnes, accounting for about a quarter of the annual trade deficit.
- Dozens of rich temples have collected billions of dollars in gold jewellery, bars and coins over the centuries, hidden securely in vaults, some ancient and some modern.
- One of them, the Shree Siddhivinayak temple devoted to the Hindu elephant-headed god Ganesha, is now examining various proposals and will soon choose a bank to deposit 44 kg out of its total stash of 160 kg of gold, said a senior official at the trust that manages it.
- Sri Venkateswara Swamy Temple, the richest Hindu temple in the world popularly known as the Tirupati Temple, said at the end of last year it could deposit more than 5.5 tonnes under the monetisation programme.
- Apart from monetisation, last year Prime Minister Narendra Modi also launched a gold bond programme to soften demand for physical gold.
2) WHO suspends TB drugs from big India supplier on quality fears:
- The World Health Organization has suspended the approval of tuberculosis drugs made by India’s Svizera Labs, a major supplier to developing countries, following an investigation into standards.
- The United Nations agency, which acts as a drug watchdog in markets lacking robust local regulation, said on Friday it had suspended all TB products made at Svizera’s Mumbai site because manufacturing standards and quality management were unreliable.
- It also said independent experts should retest batches of medicine already on the market and it might be necessary to recall supplies, depending on the outcome of those tests.
- The move is a fresh blow for India’s pharmaceuticals industry, which supplies cheap generic medicines to countries worldwide but has been tarnished by a series of quality problems in recent years, denting confidence in its products.
- The WHO had previously issued a warning letter to Mumbai-based Svizera Labs, part of Maneesh Pharmaceuticals, in September 2015, after finding dirty surfaces, black mould in a cleaning area, low hygiene standards and inadequate record-keeping.
- The WHO plays a critical role in monitoring drug quality in poorer countries through its Prequalification of Medicines Program, which ensures that treatments supplied by U.N. agencies such as UNICEF are of acceptable quality.
3) Top sugar producer Maharashtra exempts mills from paying cane tax:
- Maharashtra, India’s top sugar producing state, on Friday exempted sugar-exporting mills from paying cane purchase tax for the 2015/16 marketing year that started on Oct. 1, the state’s finance minister said.
- The cane purchase tax will be exempted for mills exporting sugar according to government guidelines, Sudhir Mungantiwar said in his budget speech.
- The state levies 3 percent purchase tax on sugarcane, which works around 9 rupees per 100 kg, said an official with Maharashtra State Cooperative Sugar Factories Federation.
- The cane purchase tax exemption and other incentives provided by the federal government will encourage mills in raising exports, said a Mumbai-based dealer at a global brokerage.
- India, the world’s second-biggest sugar producer, is likely to export 1.9 million tonnes to 2 million tonnes of sugar in the 2015/16 marketing year started on Oct. 1, a leading trade body said in a statement on Friday.
4) China on yellow alert as heavy pollution chokes several cities:
- China today issued a yellow alert for smog as the pollution choked most regions in the country’s north with no signs of abating.
- This morning, PM 2.5 density – particulate matter with size equal to or less than 2.5 micron and the main gauge to identify pollutant particles in the air – in most parts of Beijing ranged between 260 and 400 micrograms per cubic meter, far above the safety standards set by the WHO, the National Meteorological Centre (NMC) said in a statement.
- Other regions such as Hebei, Shandong, Henan and Shaanxi provinces will also be shrouded by heavy smog today before a cold front gradually disperses the pollution, the NMC forecast said, adding that heavy rain will continue in the south.
- The statement reminded people to pay more regard to safety on the roads, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
- On December 7 last year, Beijing issued the first-ever red alert as the city of over 22 million people faced the worst ever smog, forcing authorities to shut down schools and putting restrictions on factories and traffic.
- China has a four-tier warning system for severe weather, with red being the most serious followed by orange, yellow and blue.
5) Anirban, Chikkarangappa and Aditi crowned at India Golf Awards 2016
- Anirban Lahiri, S Chikkarangappa, Aditi Ashok and Vani Kapoor were among the golfers whose achievements were recognised at the India Golf Awards here on Friday.
- A glittering collection of golfing royalty came together inside an elegant setting for the third edition of the bespoke event.
- Amitabh Kant, the IAS officer at the centre of the ‘Make in India’ campaign and CEO of Niti Ayog presided over the evening, while eminent golfer Daniel Chopra made an emotionally charged address about the state of golf in India.
- S Chikkarangappa was awarded the Best Pro Male award, while Aditi Ashok and Vani Kapoor shared the Best Pro Female award.
- Lahiri was anointed a global golf ambassador given his status as the most recognised Indian golfer of the present era. His success over the last year and his presence on the PGA TOUR have helped place India on the global map of golf.
- The India Golf Awards are the most prestigious recognition in golf and yet again a strong jury deliberated for long hours before arriving at their choice in each category.
- Arun Muruggappan and Pawan Munjal received acknowledgement for their unstinted support to the game in India as Best Corporate Golfers.