IT sector worried; India to take up visa fee with U.S.  –  (Economics)

  • India will soon schedule discussions with the U.S. to raise its concerns over the Obama administration’s recent decision to hike visa fees, official sources told The Hindu .
  • India will also consider retaliatory measures and even explore the possibility of dragging the U.S. to the World Trade Organisation’s dispute settlement body, but only if talks fail to amicably resolve the issue.


Modi winds up Mann ki Baat for 2015 with ‘Start Up India’ plan  –   (Governance)

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s last ‘Mann ki Baat’ radio broadcast for the year 2015 was far less dramatic than his latest diplomatic flourish of dropping in to see Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Lahore.
  • “Apart from an exception in the case of the Land Ordinance, where he went into details of why he allowed it to lapse, and in 2014, the issue of black money, he has chosen not to speak about contemporary controversies,” said an official source.


Wildlife activists reach out to tourists at Bandipur reserve  –   (Environment)

  • Wildlife activists have launched an extensive awareness campaign in Bandipur on the alternative routes for tourists and the imperatives of complying with the ban on motoring through the national park at night.
  • This is an ongoing attempt to mitigate the high volume of traffic that flows through Bandipur during the extended holiday season, and to help tourists avoid being stranded on the outskirts of the forests past the deadline (9 p.m. to 6 a.m.), when the forests are closed to traffic.


Russia is main defence partner again  –    (International Relation)

  • After being in the dark for several years on India’s geopolitical canvas, Russia is making an emphatic comeback as India’s trusted and strategic partner and is on course to reclaiming the position as top supplier of defence hardware. Strangely, it is Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seen as pro-America, who is making it happen.


India to press U.S. for Headley’s extradition   –    (International Relation)

  • Earlier this month, David Coleman Headley, one of the main conspirators in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, offered to turn approver in the case being investigated by the Mumbai Police.
  • But the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is investigating the larger conspiracy, will send a reminder to the U.S. authorities of its requests made in the past few years for his extradition.


New energy in old friendship  –    (International Relation)

  • “Should old acquaintance be forgot”, asks the famous song Auld Lang Syne, traditionally sung at the year’s end.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Russia last week, much in the manner of the song, was as much about reassuring a “strong and reliable friend of India”, as he referred to Russia, as it was about chalking out new avenues for future cooperation in defence, energy and space.


The map of neighbourly outreach  –    (International Relation)

  • The dramatic diplomacy that unfolded across Afghanistan-Pakistan-India on Christmas day may be the first clear admission from Prime Minister Narendra Modi that dealing with Pakistan is not a simple task.
  • And that his government’s ill-thought-out jingoism of its early months in power needs to be tempered with a mature and realistic approach if he has to focus on and achieve the grand slogans ranging from “Swachh Bharat” to “Make in India”.


The jam in Delhi’s traffic experiment  –    (Governance)

  • It will be an unusual start to the New Year for Delhi.
  • The city will be subject to the much-discussed driving restrictions, according to which between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. most private vehicle operators will only be able to take their vehicles out on alternate days, from Monday through Saturday, depending on whether their license plate numbers are odd or even.


Green shoots of a possibility  –   (Environment)

  • Even as governments of the world were grappling with the nitty-gritty details of the Paris Agreement, social media platforms were abuzz with discussions on the Chennai floods and the National Green Tribunal’s curbs on the plying of diesel vehicles in Delhi. Two sentiments dominated these discussions.
  • One, a sense of betrayal, with political parties being painted and panned as ruthless villains.
  • Two, the need for a planned course of action for all those who want to change the narrative of a civilisation that is on a constant warpath with nature.


Govt. opacity leaves Rs. 8,000 cr expenditure unaccounted for  –    (Economics)

  • The government’s finances exhibit opacity in the way some of the funds have been spent with more than Rs 8,000 crore of expenditure being entered into the books with no accompanying explanation of how and where the money was spent, according to an analysis by The Hindu of the Comptroller and Auditor General’s audit of the finances.


Floating LNG terminals to dot east coast   –    (Economics)

  • Indian Oil Corporation, GAIL, Petronet and KEI-RSOS are in contention to set up four floating LNG terminals on the east coast to cater to fuel requirements of industrial, commercial and domestic users in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
  • The terminals, each with a five-million ton capacity, will cover users spread across 1,250 km from Gangavaram in Andhra Pradesh to Tuticorin District in Tamil Nadu.


Export-oriented units down shutters at fastest pace as tax incentives vanish   –    (Economics)

  • With India’s exports shrinking persistently over the past year, more than 120 export-oriented units (EOUs) have shut operations in the first eight-and-a-half months of this financial year, the fastest pace at which such firms have downed shutters.
  • The total number of operational EOUs stood at about 1,975 by the middle of this month, compared to almost 2,100 in March 2015, said a senior government official.
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