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September 8, 2017

U.S. backs sale of fighters to India

  • The Trump administration has told the U.S. Congress that it “strongly supports” the sale of F-18 and F-16 fighter planes to India, built by American companies Boeing and Lockheed Martin respectively. Both companies have offered to assemble these planes in India, should New Delhi decide to buy them.
  • President Donald Trump is in principle against companies relocating facilities abroad and a written submission to a Congressional subcommittee by Alice Wells, acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, clarified the administration’s position on the issue.
  • U.S. lawmakers and bureaucrats, in general, have been enthusiastic supporters of proposals to sell these fighters to India, and are now presenting them as deals that could reduce America’s trade deficit with India and create more jobs in America than they relocate — issues that are on top of Mr. Trump’s agenda.
  • India has several concerns to be addressed before it moves ahead. “What is the depth of the technology transfer that these companies will offer to India? How will they help India’s aspirations for the domestic defence manufacturing capabilities? When they say they will make in India, what exactly will they make in India — as components are manufactured the world over, and mostly in America,” a source familiar with the Indian position told The Hindu . There are also questions about the ammunition supplies and American assurances in the event of a conflict with Pakistan.
  • Pakistan also has a fleet of earlier generation F-16s supplied by America. India is also unclear about the future market for F-16s outside of India.

PM caps Myanmar trip with visit to Bahadur Shah’s grave

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrapped up his Myanmar trip on Thursday, visiting the ‘mazar’ of the last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar and the 2,500-year-old Shwedagon pagoda and performing puja at the Kalibari Temple here.
  • The 2,500-year-old pagoda enshrines strands of Buddha’s hair and other holy relics. It is covered with hundreds of gold plates. The top of the stupa is encrusted with 4,531 diamonds, the largest of which is a 72-carat diamond.
  • Bahadur Shah Zafar, also a prolific Urdu poet and calligrapher, died aged 87 in the then Rangoon, where he was exiled by the British after the 1857 revolt.

India keeps off ‘Bali Declaration’

  • In a show of solidarity with Myanmar, India on Thursday refused to be a part of a declaration adopted at an international conference here in Indonesia as it carried “inappropriate” reference to the violence in Rakhine State from where 1,25,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh.
  • An Indian Parliamentary delegation, led by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, dissociated itself from the ‘Bali Declaration’ adoped at the ‘World Parliamentary Forum on Sustainable Development’ held here. “This was in view of the fact that the declaration, which was to be adopted at the conclusion of the Forum, was not in line with the agreed global principles of ‘sustainable development’,” said a press release issued by the Lok Sabha Secretariat.
  • India reiterated its stance that the purpose of convening the Parliamentary forum was to arrive at a mutual consensus for implementation of SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) which required inclusive and broad-based development processes, it said.
  • The declaration went on to “call on all parties to contribute to the restoration of stability and security, exercise maximum self-restraint from using violent means, respect the human rights of all people in Rakhine State regardless of their faith and ethnicity, as well as facilitate safe access for humanitarian assistance.”

Heritage building demolished

  • A colonial-era 130-year-old building that once housed Odisha’s second oldest educational institution for girl students, was razed on Thursday leading to protest by heritage lovers.The Fraser School had come up in 1887 during colonial rule.

Hurricane Irma turns Caribbean islands into rubble

  • Powerful Hurricane Irma cut a swathe of deadly destruction as it roared through the Caribbean, claiming at least nine lives and turning the tropical islands of St. Martin and Barbuda into mountains of rubble.
  • One of the most powerful Atlantic storms on record, the rare Category 5 hurricane churned westward off the northern coast of Puerto Rico early on Thursday on a potential collision course with south Florida, where at-risk areas were evacuated.
  • With Irma raging for more than 33 hours, packing winds of up to 295 km per hour, French weather experts said it was longest-lasting superstorm on record.
  • “Such an intensity, for such a long period, has never been observed in the satellite era,” which began in the early 1970s, said Etienne Kapikian of Meteo France, indicating it would probably remain a Category 5 storm until it hits the Bahamas.
  • Telephone networks were still down on both sides of the island and French officials warned the death toll could rise as rescue teams scour far-flung parts of St. Martin as well as the nearby French island of St. Barthelemy, also known as St. Barts.
  • As it raged through the region, Irma also laid waste to Barbuda, part of the twin island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, which suffered “absolute devastation” with up to 30% of properties demolished, Prime Minister Gaston Browne said.
  • Irma was expected to hit the northern edges of the Dominican Republic and Haiti later on Thursday, continuing past eastern Cuba before veering north towards Florida.
  • More than half of Puerto Rico’s population of three million is without power, with rivers breaking their banks in the centre and north of the island where Governor Ricardo Rossello activated the National Guard and opened storm shelters sufficient for up to 62,000 people.
  • Irma was hitting the Caribbean even as two other tropical storms, Jose in the Atlantic Ocean and Katia in the Gulf of Mexico, were upgraded to the status of a hurricane.

State laws repugnant to IBC are void: SC

  • Provisions of State enactments which hinder the country’s new bankruptcy law, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), meant to protect the interests of shareholders, creditors and workmen against entrenched managements unable to dig their way out of their debts, will be declared void, the Supreme Court held.
  • In a judgment heralding the IBC as an effective legal framework aimed at improving ‘Ease of Doing Business’, a Bench of Justices Rohinton Nariman and Sanjay Kishan Kaul held that the erstwhile management of a company cannot represent it in court once insolvency resolution process has been admitted in the National Company Law Tribunal and the management transferred to an insolvency professional.
  • “Entrenched managements are no longer allowed to continue in management if they cannot pay their debts,” the court held in its 88-page judgment.
  • The judgment dismissed an appeal by Innoventive Industries, represented by senior advocate A.M. Singhvi and advocate Shikhil Suri, against insolvency proceedings under the IBC by lender ICICI Bank.The company invoked the Maharashtra Relief Undertakings (Special Provisions Act) of 1958 against the insolvency resolution process under Section 7 of the IBC.

‘Parliament statute’

  • Mr. Singhvi said the 1958 Act allowed temporary suspension of any debt recovery against the company and allowed the State to run the company as a measure to mitigate the hardship caused to workers who may be thrown out of employment by its closure.
  • In January, the National Company Law Tribunal had already dismissed the plea, saying the Code, a parliamentary statute, would prevail against the Maharashtra Act. The appellate tribunal, National Company Law Appellate Tribunal, had held that Innoventive Industries’ management cannot derive any advantage from the Maharashtra Act to stall proceedings under the Code.