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September 27, 2017

Rohingya issue: China offers help

  • China has said it would play a “constructive role” in resolving the Rohingya crisis. “We sincerely hope this issue will be settled as soon as possible. China is willing to play a constructive role towards this,” Chinese Ambassador in Dhaka Ma Mingqiang said on Monday.
  • The envoy, who expressed China’s “heartfelt sympathy” for the refugees in Cox’s Bazar, also announced that some 150 tonnes of relief material provided by China would reach Chittagong within a couple of days.
  • A delegation from the Awami League is on a trip to China to discuss the Rohingya issue. The state news agency Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS) reported that Beijing on Monday assured Dhaka that it will provide help in finding a permanent solution.

‘Panel to review industrial policy hurdles’

  • The Centre will soon set up a ‘regulatory review committee’ to address policy-related roadblocks and other factors inhibiting the country’s industrial growth as well as impacting the ‘ease of doing business’ and private investments.
  • The government is also mulling a new mechanism to monitor domestic and foreign investment proposals. The idea is to fast-track decisions on such proposals, in coordination with State governments and the Centre’s investment facilitation and promotion arm, ‘Invest India’.

Unutilised capacity

  • In addition, the Centre is looking at ways to ensure use of the industry’s unutilised capacity. Currently, the country-wide average unutilised capacity is about 26% (In other words, average utilisation of industrial capacity is only 74%). Measures will soon be taken soon to increase domestic demand as well as boost exports to ensure the entire capacity is utilised.
  • The proposal to constitute the committee, which will be chaired by the Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, and include India Inc. representatives, comes in the backdrop of a slowdown in industrial growth and sluggish private investment.
  • These decisions followed a meeting that Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu held on Tuesday with industry bodies including the CII, FICCI and Assocham, as well as senior government officials including Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian.

Meeting with exporters

  • Official sources said the Minister would soon hold another meeting with the representatives of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) and exporters to address their problems, including those related to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime.

BSF pushes back Rohingya from Tripura

  • On instructions from the Home Ministry, the Border Security Force recently pushed back four Rohingya Muslims who were trying to cross over an unfenced stretch on the Bangladesh border in Tripura.This is the first instance of Rohingya being pushed back since the Home Ministry circular on August 19 to identify and deport them.An official said the BSF had identified 75 vulnerable locations on a 21-km stretch in Tripura.

NHRC opposition

  • The National Human Rights Commission has opposed the government’s move to deport and push back the Rohingya and sought a report from the Ministry.
  • Asked how they identified the Rohingya, he said, “The Bengali dialect they speak is different from that spoken in India and Bangladesh. It is not difficult to identify them. They could have travelled from the Cox Bazar area [a large number of Rohingya has taken shelter here] in Bangladesh all the way to the Tripura border.”

Centre’s affidavit

  • In its affidavit filed in the Supreme Court on September 18, the Centre said Rohingya were a threat to national security and “some of the unauthorised Rohingya immigrants had linkages with Pakistan-based terror organisations.” It said there was an organised influx of “illegal” immigrants from Mynamar through agents and touts facilitating illegal immigration of Rohingya into India via Benapole-Haridaspur (West Bengal), Hili (West Bengal), Sonamora (Tripura), Kolkata and Guwahati.

Sale of tobacco only through licensed shops

  • In a blow to free-ranging sale of tobacco, the Health Ministry is tightening the screws on marketing, which will curb access and shield children.
  • As part of the regulation of sale, the Ministry has asked all the State governments to develop a mechanism through the municipal authority to provide “permission/authorisation” to retail outlets selling tobacco products. Shops authorised to sell tobacco products will not be permitted to sell any non-tobacco products such as biscuits, toffees and chips that are essentially meant for non-tobacco users, especially children.

Limiting exposure

  • “We believe that such an initiative will prove to be beneficial in achieving the objective of preventing children/ non-user from exposure to tobacco products,” the September 21 letter says.
  • “Shopkeepers purposely store non-tobacco products that children consume to lure kids to get exposed to tobacco at an early age. Selling tobacco products through licensed shops will prevent mushrooming of outlets selling tobacco products and shrewd marketing of tobacco products to kids.”
  • Under the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act (COPTA), 2003, sale of tobacco products to minors is prohibited. However, as the 2009-2010 Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) revealed, over 56% of minors polled who bought cigarettes in a store were “not refused purchase because of their age.”
  • The GYTS survey also found that in 2009 nearly 15% of children (19% of boys and over 8% of girls) in India who were 13-15 years used some form of tobacco. Another 15.5% of children belonging to the same group who had never smoked before were likely to begin smoking the following year. The overall tobacco use among students aged 13-15 increased from 13.7% in 2006 to 14.6% in 2009.
  • “The world over it has been proven beyond doubt and all hidden industry documents made available through the Minnesota agreement have revealed that the tobacco industry targets youth and children as its new consumer base,” says Dr. Chaturvedi.