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Current Events 4 March 2016



4 MARCH 2016


Aadhaar Bill introduced in Lok Sabha.

 Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley introduced the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016 in the Lok Sabha. The Bill provides statutory backing to Aadhaar, the unique identity number through which the government plans to target delivery of subsidy benefits and services. The expenditure for the nationwide Aadhaar exercise is incurred from the Consolidated Fund of India.

The Bill provides for the establishing of the Unified Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and the establishment, operation and maintenance of the Central Identity Data Repository. The Authority shall ensure the security, confidentiality and protection of identity information and authentication records of individuals in its possession or control, including the information stored in the repository, according to the Bill. These include biometric information collected, created and stored in electronic form.

The government expects to address, through the proposed legislation, concerns that have been raised on the mandatory use of Aadhaar in government schemes. The Supreme Court has restricted the use of the Aadhaar number until a Constitution Bench delivers its verdict on a number of cases concerning privacy and other issues.

Under the provisions of the Bill, the Aadhaar number cannot confer right of or proof of citizenship of domicile.

“An estimated expenditure of Rs. 13,663.22 crore has been approved for implementing the Aadhaar scheme up to the financial year 2016-17,” according to the financial memorandum of the Bill.

Aadhaar Bill as  a Money Bill

Mr. Jaitley introduced the measure as a money Bill, which can only be introduced in the Lok Sabha and to which the Rajya Sabha — where the NDA government does not enjoy a majority — cannot make amendments. The Upper House can only make recommendations to money Bills and must return such legislation to the Lok Sabha within 14 days from the date of their receipt, thus ensuring a time-bound process.

The Opposition demanded to know if the Bill can be referred to the standing committee on finance. Money Bills cannot be referred to a joint committee of Parliament.

The UPA government had also introduced the National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010, to provide statutory backing to the UIDAI. It is not clear if the NDA government has withdrawn the earlier Bill.



Indian firm to partner Israel for anti-tank missiles

 Rafael of Israel and Kalyani group are setting up a joint venture (JV), Kalyani Rafael Advanced Systems, to build weapon systems in India. The unit will be set up in the hardware technology park in Hyderabad. Conforming to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) norms in defence the Kalyani group will hold 51 percent stake with Rafael holding the rest.

“The initiative is in line with the government’s ‘Make in India’ policy and will enable the development and production of high end technology systems within the country,” Rafael said in a statement.

It could start with the production of Spike Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) which the Indian Army is in the process of procuring.

The Rs.3,200 crore deal for the ATGMs was cleared in 2014 by the Defence Acquisition Council chaired by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley which put an end to uncertainty after the U.S. offer of joint production of Javelin missiles. The deal includes 8,000 plus missiles, 300 plus launchers and requisite technology transfer to the Indian entity which was initially supposed to be BDL. Spike is a third generation, fire and forget anti-tank missile.

However the final deal for Spike is yet to be cleared and contract negotiations are currently underway. The deal which was cleared in 2014 ran into trouble but informed sources said that the issues have been sorted and negotiations will be completed soon without giving a time frame.

Under a tripartite agreement the JV is expected to manufacture sub-assemblies and Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) will do electro optics and do hot integration at its Hyderabad facility which currently manufactures French Milan ATGMs.



Connectivity plans not unilateral: Sushma

 India and China jockeyed over their plans to build connectivity during the Ministry of External Affairs’ first ‘Raisina Dialogue’ international conference , with India projecting its own plans in the Indian Ocean and across Central Asia as a counter to China’s estimated 1-trillion dollar One Belt One Road (OBOR) project

The theme of the conference was ‘Asian connectivity’, which External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said was “central to the globalisation process” and “particularly important for Asia’s growth and development.”

Comparing India’s approach to China’s (without referring directly to either China or the OBOR), the Minister said that India’s plans for connectivity were “cooperative rather than a unilateral approach”, adding that an “environment of trust and confidence is the pre-requisite for a more inter-connected world.”

Replying to Ms. Swaraj, former Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, in his keynote addressrejected the allegation that the OBOR was an “exclusive” initiative for China. “China views South Asian countries as very important partners and we stand ready to focus on roads, manufacturing, free trade zones. OBOR is not an exclusive initiative, and we welcome participation of various countries and regional organisations,” he said, making a special mention of the BCIM (Bangladesh China India and Myanmar) roadways and trade route project.

Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar, focussed instead on the government’s project of SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region) and the BBIN (Bangladesh Bhutan India and Nepal) sub-regional connectivity initiative, warning against hidden agendas in promoting connectivity.



Four-nation counter-terror mechanism to guard Silk Road

 A top General of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has visited Afghanistan to work out a regional counter-terrorism mechanism with an eye on safeguarding the ‘One Belt One Road’ connectivity initiative in Eurasia. PLA’s Chief of General Staff and member of the Central Military Commission (CMC) — the apex body steering the armed forces — has proposed formation of a regional counter-terrorism mechanism that will also include Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan as members.

Afghanistan’s President, Ashraf Ghani, acknowledged the “great significance” of the OBOR initiative to the entire region. Besides, the Afghan side also welcomed the Chinese proposal for a four-nation regional counter-terrorism mechanism. Afghanistan’s National Security Adviser, Hanif Atmar also requested delivery of transport and logistical aircraft as well as mobile radars for the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), which are in critical need of aviation assets.

China is threatened by terror strikes from the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), especially in its Xinjiang province. However, the rise of the Khorasan Province (ISIL-K) — a branch of the Islamic State in Afghanistan — has fuelled further anxieties on its likely impact on the ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative.


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