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The Economic Times

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modicare: modicare: nhps gets cabinet nod, scheme portable across country

mumbai: government’s flagship national health protection scheme today got cabinet nod detailing the contours of the scheme. the mega health insurance scheme, which is looking to insure 40% of the population will cover all pre-existing diseases and will be portable across all states and union territories in the country. the scheme will give cashless benefits in any public or private hospital across the country. “the health insurance scheme will cover all pre-existing diseases,” said a senior official of niti aayog. “also, pre hospitalization of 3 days and post hospitalization for 15 days are covered under the scheme. payments under the scheme will be done in package rates to control costs.” any health insurance policy has waiting period of a couple of years before they cov...





there's no end in sight to india's tax terrorism. just look at the data

by t v mohandas pai & s krishnanone of the major promises made by the bjp government when it came to power in 2014 was to stop tax terrorism. finance minister arun jaitley proclaimed before the 2014 election that tax terrorism was the biggest threat to india and he would stop it. the problem of tax terrorism persists in this regime as well. tax disputes have risen massively due to high target setting by the political establishment over the years. over the last four years, the nda has taken many steps to reduce tax terrorism, but the on-ground impact has not been high. tax terrorism arises from high unrealistic target setting, leading to high-pitched assessments, and the long time taken to settle appeals. today, both the assessment and appeal systems are broken with no hope in sight f...





it’s still not easy to do business in maharashtra

the bjp government in maharashtra has been rolling out the red carpet to industries to do business in the state and has been attracting good interest from companies — both domestic and foreign — over the past few years. but despite the buzz, companies claim that doing business isn’t all that easy here. many industrialists et spoke to said that the state needs to do a lot more on the infrastructure front and improve law and order situation for a better investment climate. the pune-chakan belt attracts maximum investment in the state, but the road network has not been upgraded there, which leads to massive traffic jams. “the situation is so grave that trucks carrying manufactured goods can’t even leave the company gates due to the traffic. many companies have lost export orde...





fixed-term employment: fixed-term employment: long-term benefits!

ease of doing business just got a big boost. in a big-ticket labour reform, the government has now allowed fixed-term employment contracts across sectors, which will allow companies to hire staff on the basis of their actual requirement. the move is in line with finance minister arun jaitley’s budget announcement that the facility to hire fixed term employees, which was available only for apparel manufacturers until now, will be made part of the uniform labour law. the government has also made sure that the big shift doesn’t result in large-scale retrenchments, as the new law says no permanent employee can be forcefully moved to fixed-term employment. the move comes as a big relief to india inc, especially those companies that are in cyclical businesses and hence need flexibil...





pharma stocks: not pharma, for next 1-2 years focus on this sector: pankaj pandey

talking to et now, pankaj pandey, head research, icicidirect.com, says bullish on the entire infra space and the road segment right now from l&t to kec international to ncc.edited excerpts: the newsmaker today has to be sun pharma after it received a us fda approval for its psoriasis drug tildrakizumab, the first new drug approval for india’s largest drug maker. what kind of an upside will this generate for the sun pharma stock?this particular news is in line with the management commentary earlier and we expect that this should add about rs 38 per share to its value. in the overall pharma space, there can be a bounce of 25%-30% odd given the fact that all these stocks have corrected more than 50% odd. so, there is a possibility of a bounce-back but structurally it looks like all these st...





rajya sabha nominations: akhilesh yadav tries to woo mayawati’s rivals

new delhi: sp chief akhilesh yadav on wednesday tried to bring mayawati’s old rivals like raja bhaiyya and shivpal yadav on the side of the sp-bsp combine ahead of the rajya sabha polls. akhilesh, who has to repay his part of the deal to mayawati after the bypoll victory, tried to convince these people to back mayawati or at least vote for sp candidate jaya bachchan so that the party can transfer votes of some of its mlas to bsp candidate. raja bhaiyya and shivpal yadav attended a dinner hosted by akhilesh for mlas on wednesday, where raja bhaiyya was seated next to bachchan. “i was with akhilesh and will remain with him,” raja bhaiyya said. “both the candidates (of sp and of bsp) will win. all of us are together,” shivpal yadav said. votes of raja bhaiyya and another in...





aadhaar: pension a right, not a subsidy. justify its link to aadhaar: supreme court

the supreme court on wednesday questioned the centre on its decision to link aadhaar with pension, reasoning that it was not a subsidy but an entitlement of a person for years of service he/she has rendered to the gover nment. referring to the argument of the petitioners that many pensioners had been denied their only subsistence in old age due to technical and physical reasons, a bench of cji dipak misra and justices a k sikri, a m khanwilkar, d y chandrachud and ashok bhushan asked attorney general k k venugopal if the centre was going to deny them pension, a rightful entitlement, just for want of aadhaar. ag: if needed, govt will amend aadhaar lawattorney general venugopal said aadhaar had been instrumental in eliminating many bogus pensioners drawing the post-retirement benefits ...





indian army: defence ministry okays policy for porters in indian army

new delhi:the defence ministry has approved a policy that looks at improving the logistics system of the indian army along the western front with pakistan and eastern front with china. the policy lays down the conditions for hiring porters by the army, which includes paying them a monthly wage of rs 18,000 along with compensatory wages depending on the altitude of the area of employment, degree of difficulty and risk to life, besides also giving them army medical and ration facilities. this is a step forward from the way porters were employed and treated by the army in the past. they were hired on a daily wage basis and not given any such facilities. the lack of basic facilities to porters was raised in the supreme court, which on january 2 last year felt that a better policy on port...





why pm has to worry about recency

in business, especially in human-resource management, appraisers are cautioned to evaluate an individual’s or department’s performance over a sustained period and not let ‘recency’, the most recent events (especially the turbulent ones) colour their judgement.i was reminded of this axiom by the narendra modi government’s current stint in trishanku’s heaven. for those of us interested in hindu mythology, history and legend (some would call it legerdemain), trishanku was an ancestor of rama’s who was condemned to spend eternity in a faux-paradise suspended between his reality and the heaven he wished to ascend to.unfortunately, politicians are not corporations or employees; they are answerable to voters. and as this government moves into its fifth year, it is flying into the he...





china: maldives, fast becoming a pawn in the new great game

washington: one after the other, the countries around india are falling prey to china's predatory economics. after pakistan and sri lanka, maldives has become the latest victim of it, according to us-based think tank atlantic council's analysts. india has always enjoyed a special relationship with the island country. both got freedom from the great britain and the former helped the latter in rebuilding its economy. but this is now changing, as china is ferociously diminishing india's sphere of influence in the maldives. the red dragon with its economic might is using debt-trap to create dependent states in the indian ocean region. in the maldives, where china did not even have an embassy until 2012, is now receiving large-scale investments from the asian giant, robert a. ...





as facebook scandal mushrooms, mark zuckerberg vows to 'step up'

san francisco: facebook chief mark zuckerberg vowed wednesday to "step up" to fix problems surrounding data privacy, as it fights a snowballing scandal over the hijacking of personal data from millions of its users. zuckerberg specifically mentioned india's forthcoming elections, when replying to a question on how the social media giant would curb the influence of external elements in the election processes of various countries. "we have a responsibility to do this, not only for the 2018 midterms in the us, which are going to be a huge deal this year and that's just a huge focus for us, but there's a big election in india this year, there's a big election in brazil, there are big elections around the world, and you can bet that we are really committed to doing everything that we ...





walmart-flipkart sets big menu for india market

new delhi: the proposed walmart-flipkart combine plans to make an aggressive play in the food sector with a substantial chunk of the bentonville retailer’s investment in the indian market place being earmarked to build back-end food and grocery infrastructure in a bid to gain pole position in india’s online and offline food retail markets. walmart lags us rival amazon in plans for selling food items directly to consumers in india. amazon last year received government approval to start a venture to sell locally produced and packaged food items through offline and online channels. amazon’s fully-owned subsidiary amazon india retail pvt ltd is currently selling food items online in pune on a pilot basis. it is also on the lookout for a strong brick-and-mortar presence in india and...





supreme court suggests ‘less invasive’ ids

new delhi: the supreme court has asked the centre how it was planning to deal with financial exclusion of the weak if they failed to identify themselves using aadhaar cards. “why is the government not being upfront on financial exclusion?... the cabinet secretary did take action on this (notification asking government departments to accept alternative ids). this shows that the government was concerned by financial exclusion. how do you deal with administrative problems? we are not castigating you but we will be abdicating our constitutional responsibilities if we do not deal with it,” justice dy chandrachud, a member of the five-judge bench hearing the aadhaar, case said. justice ak sikri demanded to know from attorney general kk venugopal why the government wasn’t thinking of ...





aadhaar: aadhaar: supreme court suggests ‘less invasive’ ids

new delhi: the supreme court has asked the centre how it was planning to deal with financial exclusion of the weak if they failed to identify themselves using aadhaar cards. “why is the government not being upfront on financial exclusion?... the cabinet secretary did take action on this (notification asking government departments to accept alternative ids). this shows that the government was concerned by financial exclusion. how do you deal with administrative problems? we are not castigating you but we will be abdicating our constitutional responsibilities if we do not deal with it,” justice dy chandrachud, a member of the five-judge bench hearing the aadhaar, case said. justice ak sikri demanded to know from attorney general kk venugopal why the government wasn’t thinking of ...





mark zuckerberg: india will put facebook in the dock if needed: ravi shankar prasad

the government is ready to launch an enquiry to see if facebook had any role to play in unfairly influencing elections in the country, union minister for electronics and it, ravi shankar prasad told et in an interview on wednesday, and if required will summon mark zuckerberg, founder of the american social networking company, for an explanation. the minister’s remarks come in the wake of allegations that british data firm cambridge analytica accessed personal information of nearly 50 million facebook users, without explicit consent. this data was allegedly used to influence polls across the world including the presidential election in the us in 2016. earlier at a press conference, prasad, who is a senior leader of the ruling nda, accused the congress party of having links with camb...





as facebook scandal mushrooms, mark zuckerberg vows to 'step up'

san francisco: facebook chief mark zuckerberg vowed wednesday to "step up" to fix problems at the social media giant, as it fights a snowballing scandal over the hijacking of personal data from millions of its users. "we have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can't then we don't deserve to serve you," zuckerberg said, in his first public comments on the harvesting of facebook user data by a british firm linked to president donald trump's 2016 campaign. writing on his facebook page, zuckerberg announced new steps to rein in the leakage of data to outside developers and third-party apps, while giving users more control over their information through a special toolbar. "we know that this was a major violation of people's trust, and i deeply regret that we didn...





cambridge analytica: facebook 'knew of loopholes in 2011': privacy campaigner max schrems

vienna: facebook was warned in 2011 of the loopholes exploited by uk data firm cambridge analytica (ca) but said it saw no need to change its policies, an austrian privacy campaigner said on wednesday. max schrems, an activist who has brought several cases before european courts to strengthen data protection online, said that the controversial data harvesting methods at the centre of the current scandal were exactly those he had raised in a complaint before the irish data protection authority in 2011. the current scandal centres on an app which its developer says was used by 200,000 people, but which saw around 30 million us facebook users' details harvested. the app's vast reach beyond its users was due to it scooping up data from users' friends on facebook. ca is accused o...





fed: us fed raises rates by 25 bps, signals quicker pace for future hikes

by craig torresfederal reserve officials, meeting for the first time under chairman jerome powell, raised the benchmark lending rate a quarter-point and forecast a steeper path of hikes in 2019 and 2020, citing an improving economic outlook. policy makers continued to project a total of three increases this year. “the economic outlook has strengthened in recent months,” the policy-setting federal open market committee said in a statement wednesday in washington. officials repeated previous language that they anticipate “further gradual adjustments in the stance of monetary policy.” the upward revision in their rate path suggests fed officials are looking through soft first-quarter economic reports and expect a lift this year and next from tax cuts passed by republicans in dec...





india-qatar dtaa: cabinet clears india-qatar double taxation avoidance treaty

new delhi: the cabinet today approved revision of double taxation avoidance agreement between india and qatar. the existing double taxation avoidance agreement (dtaa) with qatar was signed on april 7, 1999, and came into force on january 15, 2000. "the revised dtaa updates the provisions for exchange of information to latest standard, includes limitation of benefits provision to prevent treaty shopping and aligns other provisions with india's recent treaties," an official statement said. the revised dtaa meets the international standards on treaty abuse. "the union cabinet has given its approval for revision of the agreement between india and qatar for the avoidance of double taxation and for the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income," the statement ...





construction companies: environment ministry eases rules for construction companies

new delhi: the government has eased environmental clearances for buildings and construction sector, with the environment ministry more than doubling the threshold for construction projects requiring environmental clearances from the centre to 50,000 square metres of built-up area from 20,000 sq metres. as a result, developers of an average sized mall with three floors or an apartment complex with 300 three-bedroom flats would be able to start construction with online submission of a self-certification that all environmental obligations would be met. the onus has therefore shifted to urban local bodies in the cities. a developer would fill a form online to the local authority and then a building permit would be issued for construction. so far, this was followed by all projects wit...