Nation
India signs deal with France to buy 36 Rafale jets
India on Friday signed a deal with France to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets to meet critical operational requirement for a multi-role combat aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF).
 
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian signed the agreement in this regard here.
 
The deal was preceded by tough negotiations over the price and is expected to cost India some 7.87 billion euros. The deal also has a provision for transfer of technology through offsets. 
 
Soon after the deal was signed, Parrikar said in a tweet: "Will significantly improve India's strike and defence capabilities." 
 
The tough price negotiations led to a delay in the finalisation of the deal, which covers delivery of 36 planes, spares and weapons. 
 
The fighter plane will be equipped with Meteor, a beyond-visual range air-to-air missile expected to considerably advance IAF's capability in aerial combat. 
 
The Rafale aircraft would have advanced features like advanced electronically scanned array radar, mid-air refuelling and advanced electronic warfare equipment. 
 
Informed sources said the jets would arrive in India in batches, with the first two coming in the next few months.
 
A team from France was camping in New Delhi for some weeks for negotiating the deal. 
 
India had decided to ink the deal for 126 Rafale jets in 2012 during the previous United Progressive Alliance government. The deal was estimated to cost $10.2 billion and the plan was to acquire 18 aircraft in fly-away condition and manufacturing the rest in India. 
 
However, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to France in April last year, India conveyed that it would like to acquire 36 Rafale jets in fly-away condition as quickly as possible in view of the IAF's critical operational necessity for the multi-role combat aircraft.
 
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed with France in January this year for the purchase of 36 Rafale aircraft. 
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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What is the Indus Waters Treaty and can India abrogate it?
With India saying that there have been differences over the implementation of the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty, a dispute that was referred to an international tribunal under the aegis of the World Bank, the issue has come back into focus because of the current tension with Pakistan following the September 18 cross-border terror attack on an army base at Uri in Jammu and Kashmir that claimed the lives of 18 Indian soldiers. On Thursday, India raised the issue saying a treaty could not be a "one-sided affair".
 
So, what is the treaty all about? Here is a primer:
 
What is the Indus Waters Treaty?
 
The Indus Waters Treaty is a water-sharing arrangement signed by then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and then President of Pakistan Ayub Khan on September 19, 1960, in Karachi. It covers the water distribution and sharing rights of six rivers -- Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum. The agreement was brokered by the World Bank.
 
Why was the agreement signed?
 
The agreement was signed because the source of all the rivers of the Indus basin were in India (Indus and Sutlej, though, originate in China). It allowed India to use them for irrigation, transport and power generation, while laying down precise do's and don'ts for India on building projects along the way. Pakistan feared that India could potentially create droughts in case of a war between the two countries. A Permanent Indus Commission set up in this connection has gone through three wars between the two countries without disruption and provides a bilateral mechanism for consultation and conflict-resolution through inspections, exchange of data and visits.
 
What does the agreement entail?
 
The treaty gave the three "eastern rivers" of Beas, Ravi and Sutlej to India for use of water without restriction. The three "western rivers" of Indus, Chenab and Jhelum were allocated to Pakistan. India can construct storage facilities on "western rivers" of up to 3.6 million acre feet, which it has not done so far. India is also allowed agriculture use of 7 lakh acres above the irrigated cropped area as on April 1, 1960.
 
Is there a dispute?
 
Although the two countries have been managing to share the waters without major dispute, experts say that the agreement is one of the most lop-sided with India being allowed to use only 20 percent of the six-river Indus water system. Pakistan itself in July this year sought an international arbitration if India sought to build hydro power projects on the Jhelum and Chenab rivers. Though the agreement has been seen as one of the most successful water-sharing pacts, the current tension between the two South Asian neighbours might well lead to a flashpoint. Strategic affairs and security experts say that future wars could well be fought over water. 
 
Could India abrogate the agreement?
 
This is unlikely since the treaty has survived three wars between the two countries. Although on Thursday India raised the issue, saying that for a treaty to work there had to be "mutual cooperation and trust" between the two sides, this seems to be more pressure tactics than any real threat to review the bilateral agreement. And the idea that India can intimidate Pakistan by threatening to cut of river waters is nothing new. It has arisen before every major conflict. A unilateral abrogation would also attract criticism from world powers, as this is one arrangement which has stood the test of time.
 
Short of abrogation, can India do something?
 
Some experts have said that if India starts making provision for storage facility involving the "western rivers", which it is allowed under the treaty of up to 3.6 million acre feet, this may send a strong message to its neighbour. Pakistan has often sought arbitration proceedings just on mere impression that India may do so, seeking to dissuade its larger neighbour from tinkering with the status quo.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

 

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COMMENTS

Sadasivan Neelakantan

2 months ago

Yes, since the Treaty allows India to build storage facilities we must do so,provided the farmers in the region have any use for the water stored.Yes I too foree water wars occurring globally but erecting check dams to sore water is OK--and of course a strong message indeed to our tooth-gnashing neighbor nation!

REPLY

Sadasivan Neelakantan

In Reply to Sadasivan Neelakantan 2 months ago

Sorry for the typo errors.I meant " to store" water and "foresee" in lieu of the typo there.Typed in a hurry.Bye!

Voila! Customers could withdraw money from zero balance Jan Dhan accounts!
In what it could be a technical lapse or sheer good luck, several Jan Dhan account holders from Beed district in Maharashtra have been able to withdraw money using Aadhaar authentication from zero balance accounts, reports Marathi daily Loksatta. Since these accounts had no money at all (zero balance), this withdrawal could not even be passed off as a part of the Rs5,000 overdraft facility promised on the Jan Dhan accounts, nor do they meet the overdraft criteria. 
 
According to the report, two banks that saw such withdrawals --Maharashtra Gramin (MG) Bank and State Bank of India (SBI) -- have stopped all transactions being carried out from their customer service centres through Aadhaar authentication. It is not quite clear how the withdrawals started or who figured out that the banks were dispensing money even without a balance in the account. But it is reported that such withdrawals occurred on Tuesday and Wednesday from both banks. Very soon, hundreds of customers from Gevrai taluka started approaching the service centres to withdraw money, Bank officials became suspicious. Upon enquiry, they found that someone had spread a rumour that the government had deposited money in Jan Dhan accounts, the report from Loksatta says.
 
According to the report, both the banks are clueless about how much money has been withdrawn in the past two days and have started enquiry into this incident.
 
MG Bank has around two lakh customers. The Bank permits withdrawal of cash from accounts through Aadhaar from about 20 centres. The bank permits withdrawal of Rs10,000 at a time, and a total of Rs20,000 in a day through these customer service centres. An IT company called Vakrangi Software (which has a patchy track-record) operates these Centres, which are controlled from its Mumbai office, the report added.
 
After every transactions, customers receive an SMS alert on their registered mobile. However, since the customers, who withdrew money in these cases, had a zero balance, no alerts were generated.
 
Dr Anupam Saraph, Professor, Future Designer, former governance and IT advisor to Goa's former Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, feels that this (incident) is adequate proof of how Aadhaar linkage is also destabilising our banking system besides jeopardising national security as has been highlighted to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the government repeatedly since 2013. "The RBI has also failed its responsibility to de license Aadhaar Based Payment Systems following the orders from the Supreme Court. Clearly, the RBI cannot distance itself from its failure of responsibility that has resulted in this fraud. The government should recognise this as a national emergency and halt the Aadhaar monster and Aadhaar based direct benefit transfer (DBT). The RBI must stop all Aadhaar based know-your-customer (KYC) and banking immediately," he added.  
 
Earlier this month, Indian Express had reported how several officials were quietly depositing Re1 from their pockets to erase zero-balance accounts — and dress up the data of Jan Dhan accounts.
 
As many as 20 branch managers and officials told The Indian Express, on the condition that they not be identified, that there is "pressure" on them to show that zero-balance accounts are falling in number. "There was a perception that so many zero-balance accounts means no one is using them, so there was pressure on us to change that," one official was quoted by the newspaper.
 
The newspaper also filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. As per the information it received, 18 banks from the public sector and their 16 regional rural subsidiaries held 1.05 crore Jan Dhan accounts with deposits of Re1.
 
Earlier in May, SS Mundra, Deputy Governor of RBI, while raising concerns that Jan Dhan accounts can be used by money mules, have warned that such accounts are vulnerable to frauds and asked banks to be on vigil. He said third parties could be used to launder the proceeds of fraud schemes (such as phishing and identity theft) by criminals who gain illegal access to deposit accounts by recruiting them as 'money mules'. 
 
The RBI Deputy Governor also highlighted a case where an idle account was used for receiving and transferring large funds without the knowledge of the accounts holder. "It was an account of a daily labourer in Punjab and the account was opened as a basic one where there is limitation on number of transactions. This amount of transaction was of Rs1 crore," he said.
 
The case became known when the income tax authority served the notice to the account holder. "This episode highlights the failure of the banks system and processes for monitoring of newly opened accounts," Mundra had said.
 
As per Basic Statistical Return (BSR) statistics for 2014-15 released by the RBI, the Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) accounts swelled to 14.4 crore in 2015 constituting 17.4% increase in the group. Admitting that several accounts could be with zero-balance, the banks were supposed to open overdraft accounts after six months of operations. Data reveals that banks opened such accounts only in respect of 0.65% of the total number of accounts as at the end of December 2015.
 
While the bank officials were busy reducing zero balance accounts from their records, rural folks hit back by actually withdrawing money from such accounts. Simply amazing.

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COMMENTS

Deepak Narain

2 months ago

Politicians do things for easy publicity at public cost. These schemes do not materialise where most needed. Lakhs of people died in accidents in 2015. How many of affected families were given the insurance amount of Rs one lakh under Jan-Dhan scheme?

Mathew Thomas

2 months ago

"Oh! This is just a one-off case. We will fix these initial glitches", would be the response of UIDAI and of course our government. And rightly so! After all, this is the "inclusive" agenda of the current dispensation. In my view, this is but the tip of the iceberg, bigger than the one that sunk the Titanic! If I remember right, the firm that manages the accounts and named here was an enrolling agency and was embroiled in some irregularities. Its agency was terminated, I believe.

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