Read about the probe ordered by the Modi government on the ‘Panama leaks’, the fastest train in India launched today, the latest state to be declared as ‘Dry State’ and more …
1) Centre orders probe against Indians linked to tax havens:
- The BJP-led NDA government on Monday ordered the formation of a special agency to investigate Indians who figure in the ‘Panama papers’ — a set of over 11 million leaked documents that reveal how the rich and connected around the world used tax havens for salting away their wealth.
- The documents, about the clients of one of the world’s biggest law firms offering such services, was leaked to a German newspaper, which in turn shared it with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
- The multi-agency group that was set up following directions from Prime Minister Narendra Modi will consist of officers from the investigative units of the Central Board of Direct Taxes, the Financial Intelligence Union and Foreign Tax & Tax Research division and the Reserve Bank of India.
- The Special Investigation Team on Black Money, appointed under the Supreme Court’s directions, had in its third report submitted last year to the court said that various departments were not prepared to share the information received in tax evasion cases.
- It is still not clear how many of the Indian names figuring in the Panama papers are illegal or criminal. If it is illegal or criminal, then the individuals and firms can be investigated for a host of violations ranging from money laundering to tax evasion.
- The expose has given the Opposition parties fresh opportunity to attack Prime Minister Narendra Modi for failing to deliver on his pre-polls promise of bringing back black money held overseas.
- In a statement on Monday’s expose, the Finance Ministry said the government will go all out to obtain maximum information from all sources, including from foreign governments, to help the investigations arising out of the Panama leaks.
- The expose, it said, will help to detect and prevent the generation of black money.
2) India’s fastest train Gatiman Express flagged off today.
- Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Tuesday flagged off the much-awaited Gatiman Express which crosses the distance Agra from Nizamuddin station in 90 to 100 minutes and said that this signified an important step for the Indian Railways.
- The Nizamuddin-Agra Gatiman Express is the first semi-high speed service in railways, which will run at a speed of 160 kilometer per hour and is expected to cover the 200 km distance in 100 minutes.
- The launch of this train heralds a new era of high speed rail travel in India.
- IRCTC has made arrangement for deploying train hostesses also on board the train. It will see improved catering and will have options of different kinds of cuisines.
- Another unique feature of this train is free of cost on board entertainment facility as passengers can view various entertaining videos during travel on their smart phone, tablets or laptops even without internet connection through WiFi.
- The coaches used in train have been fitted with bio-toilets.
- The train will run six days a week except Friday on both directions and will start its journey from Nizamuddin at 8.10 AM and will reach Agra at 9.50 AM.
- During its return, the train will depart from Agra at 5.50 PM to reach Nizamuddin at 7.30 PM.
3) Novak Djokovic defeats Kei Nishikori for sixth Miami Open title:
- Novak Djokovic beat Kei Nishikori in straight sets to win the Miami Open for a record-equalling sixth time.
- The world number one matched Andre Agassi’s Miami tally with a 6-3 6-3 triumph in one hour and 26 minutes.
- Djokovic, 28, also moves ahead of Rafael Nadal with a record 28 Masters tournament wins in his career.
- He also becomes the first man to win the Indian Wells-Miami double three years in a row, and surpasses Roger Federer as the ATP’s leading prize money winner on $98.2m (£69m).
- Japan’s Nishikori broke serve in the opening game but was broken straight back, and after a scrappy start to the match Djokovic took charge from 4-3.
- He won four games in a row to move a break up in the second set and broke for a fifth time to win the match.
- Djokovic has only one loss to his name in 29 matches this year – and that was a retirement with an eye infection in Dubai.
- With 11 Grand Slam titles, the Serb is already among the very best ever to have played the game – and catching Federer’s record tally of 17 majors is in his thoughts.
4) Bihar imposes total alcohol ban, turns dry state from today:
- The sale of absolutely any type of alcohol, including Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) – not just country liquor – will now be completely banned in Bihar immediately, the state government said on Tuesday.
- The decision on the ban on any type of alcohol was taken this afternoon by the Bihar cabinet, four days after a ban began on the production and sale of country liquor, or desi liquor.
- Bihar is now the fourth dry state after Gujarat, Kerala and Nagaland.
- The Bihar government gets revenue of nearly Rs 2,000 crores from the sale of IMFL and revenue of around Rs 4,000 crores from country liquor sales in 2015-16.
- Kumar has repeatedly said his government would do everything to discourage the drinking habit as it severely hits the poorest of the poor. The poor consume liquor, leading to family problems including domestic violence, affecting their children’s education.
- In a first for Bihar, all members of the Bihar assembly and the legislative council recently adopted a resolution that they would not consume liquor.
- During assembly elections, Nitish had promised that he will start a people’s movement against liquor in the state and ensure that the ban on liquor is effectively implemented.
5) RBI cuts repo rate by 25 basis points:
- The Reserve Bank on Tuesday cut the key interest rate by 0.25 per cent and introduced a host of measures to smoothen liquidity supply so that banks can lend to the productive sectors and indicated accommodative stance going ahead.
- Given weak private investment in the face of low capacity utilisation, a reduction in the policy rate by 0.25 per cent will help strengthen growth, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan said in the first bi-monthly monetary policy review for the 2016-17 fiscal, which began on April 1.
- Accordingly, the repo rate, at which RBI lends to the financial system, has come down to 6.5 per cent.
- The cut was broadly in line with expectations. However, the stock market reacted negatively and the BSE index, Sensex, was down nearly 300 points.
- Rajan also took a host of measures on the liquidity front, starting with the narrowing of the policy rate corridor to 0.50 per cent from the earlier 1 percentage point, which resulted in the reverse repo rate — at which banks can park excess funds with the RBI — being reset at 6 per cent.
- RBI also retained its GDP growth forecast at 7.6 per cent, on the assumption of a normal monsoon and a boost to consumption through the implementation of the Seventh Pay panel recommendations.
- Rajan welcomed the government move to amend the RBI Act to create a monetary policy committee, saying it will further strengthen the policy’s credibility.
- With the liquidity being tight in the recent months, there were expectations of measures on this front.