Summary

Nation watched Gujarat today

After days of an intense and often bitter campaign by the two main parties- incumbent BJP and the Opposition Congress- Monday morning will decide the composition of the 14th Gujarat Assembly with all eyes on election results to 182 constituencies in the state.

The Long Con

Over the last decade, a small time racket with origins in Gopalpur grew into the fake 'Board of Higher Secondary Education', which managed to con 20,000 people and 300 schools across the country

SC push to public access for disabled person

The Supreme Court has come out with a series of directions to ensure that public infrastructure is accessible to differently-abled persons and ordered that the June 2019 deadline set by the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 to make all government buildings providing publicservices made fully accessible to them be strictly adhered to.

Hunting Taliban and Islamic State fighters, from 20,000 feet

With the war in its 17th year, the US strategy aims to drive the Taliban to a negotiated settlement. It seeks to squeeze the group's revenues and to enhace the Afghan government's legitimacy

Editorial

Hambantota Augury

The Sri Lanka Government has handed over the Hambantota Port to the state-run China Merchants Port Holdings, a state-run Chinese company. It is done seven years after the Hambantota Port was inaugurated lavishly by the then President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa. The president viewed the port as a symbol of the rising geopolitical aspirations of Asia. The current Sri Lankan Prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe explained that he had to do it as it had turned into a 'white elephant'. China's Exim Bank loaned around 85% of the finances for the $ 1.5 billion Hambantota Port at an interest of 6.5%. this balance was put forth by the Government of Sri Lanka which borrowed finance from various sources. the first phase of the Port which was inaugurated by Rajapaksa int he year 2010 has four berths and buildings which alone cost $ 650 million making the repayment amount to $ 60 million every year. Though the port started earning money in the year 2013 helping Sri Lanka to repay the loan, it wasn't sufficient enough and the Sri Lankan government estimated the cumulative losses of the port at $ 3 billion by 2016-end. former president Rajapaksa is questioning the move of handing the port as it also included handling over a huge amount of land close to the Chinese companies for developing a special economic zone. for the geopolitical South Asian region, Hambantota is a lesson for all huge infrastructure projects who are providing loans from their countries at market rates. Knowing these risks if ant country is still venturing in, then it is mostly because they seek to position themselves in a global arena and also hope to reap major political dividends in the home country. India need to look at this recent handing over situation and evaluate its stand and relations with countries in the strategic South Asian region.

Bank Insecurities

The Prime Minister, as well as the Union Finance Minister, stepped in to publicly assuage the retail depositors due to a controversial provision in the Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance (FRDI) Bill. This provision seeks to develop a framework for resolution plans of all firms which have been sailing through troubled waters in the financial sector due to the Insolvency Law. the proposed law, which is under scrutiny before the Joint Parliamentary Committee is under severe criticism from different political parties. the spark is blown out more by the Clause 52 of the Bill which gives powers to the Resolution Corporation to change some of the right and obligations of shareholders and creditors in recapitalizing financial firms. it also allows to minimise the costs of the Exchequer or the taxpayer in case a failure occurs. this approach was earlier adopted in the West during the 2008 financial crisis. In India, which is a bank-dominated country, the move seems questionable. banking is a much stable institution and the financial intermediaries won't be able to sail if the majority of the depositors withdrew. in such a state, the most sensible move to adopt would be to exclude all deposits in banks from the purview of the provisions and to mandate the RBI for handling all cases of resolutions in the developed banking sector. this would leave the Resolution Corporation exposed to handle all the financial sector firms. the Centre and the Government should aim at handling and govern the banks themselves.

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