- The Supreme Court suggested the Centre defer implementation of three new farm laws to persuade farmers protesting against them to come to the negotiating table.
- The government wasn’t too keen on this and instead, asked for more time to respond to the suggestion.
- The protesters have said they want all three laws scrapped because they undermine price guarantees for produce and will leave them vulnerable to big companies.
- The government has said laws are part of much-needed reforms as they will reduce the importance of state procurement and introduce a free market, which will be advantageous to farmers.
Input Costs Increase
- Cost of key inputs in consumer products, autos and real estate are moving north.
- Margin pressure is being felt across companies but, sensitive to budget-watching consumers as well as competitive pressures, many are opting for partial cost transfers and cost control in other functions.
- Freight costs have jumped to $3,000-4,000 per container, from $700-1,000 a month ago.
- Inputs that are more expensive vary from steel, cement and agri-products to freight charges, apart from scarcity-related price hikes in consumer durable components.
- Prices of television sets, refrigerators, washing machines, airconditioners and microwave ovens are set to rise 8-20% over the next two to three weeks due to a 15-40% increase in input costs — one of the biggest singleshot hikes.
- At the center of the latest antitrust lawsuit against Google is a bold claim: It colluded with arch rival Facebook in an illegal deal to manipulate auctions for online advertising, an industry the two dominate.
- Google named the secret pact after a Star Wars character. “Any collaboration between two competitors of such magnitude should have set off the loudest alarm bells in terms of antitrust compliance,” the Texas lawsuit read.
- “This allegation is inaccurate,” Google said in an emailed statement. “Facebook Audience Network (FAN) is one of over 25 companies participating in our Open Bidding program. There’s nothing exclusive about their involvement and they don’t receive special data.”
- “The whole goal of Open Bidding is to work with a range of ad networks and exchanges that are important to our publisher partners,” it said.
- The suit, backed by several other states, also accused Google of tricking publishers into buying ads through Google services rather than header bidding.
- Header bidding is an arcane process in ad tech, an industry thick with suppliers, middlemen and marketers. While it’s automated, there are often bespoke deals.
- Major providers like Google, for instance, often give ad buyers and websites discounts in the auctions if enough money is flowing through.
- It’s a fairly common mechanism called “marking up,” giving a company an edge over others, according to Bob Walczak, an industry veteran and president of Lemma Media.
- India and Bangladesh sealed seven agreements to expand cooperation in diverse areas including energy, development projects and agriculture, at a virtual summit on Thursday, and restored a cross-border rail link that had not been operational since 1965.
- The railway line from Haldibari in Cooch Behar to Chilahati in northern Bangladesh had been defunct after rail links between India and the then East Pakistan were snapped in 1965.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina also jointly inaugurated a digital exhibition on Mahatma Gandhi and Bangladesh’s founder Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
- At the summit, Hasina expressed gratitude to the Indian Army for liberating the country from Pakistani forces in 1971.
- “India is our true friend,” the Bangladesh PM emphasised. In his remarks, Modi said Bangladesh was a “key pillar” of India’s “Neighbourhood First” policy.
- Bijoy Dibosh or Victory Day is celebrated on December 16 to commemorate the victory of the Bangladeshi forces over the Pakistan army in the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971.
- “Throughout 2020 we have witnessed a number of initiatives such as trade through rail routes, high level visits and meetings, capacity-building initiatives, the first trial run of Indian cargo from Kolkata to North-East India and of course, cooperation on Covid-19,” she said.
₹27,000 Cr Worth Defence
- The defence ministry has given a green flag for the acquisition of weapon systems worth Rs 28,000 crore, including an indigenous program to develop a large Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) and next generation offshore patrol vessels.
- The go ahead was given by the Rajnath Singh led Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), with Rs 27,000 crore worth of systems to be developed indigenously.
- Source said that an order for Israeli origin suicide drones has also been taken ahead.
- Defence Ministry officials said, 6/7 proposals cleared are under the Make in India initiative.
- DRDO designed and developed Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) Systems for the Indian Air Force
- Next Generation Offshore Patrol Vessels for the Indian Navy
- Modular Bridges for the Indian Army
- The AWACS India program is particularly worth noting as the go ahead had been given by the air force late last year after it was impressed by the performance of smaller home developed early warning aircraft during the Balakot air strikes.
- The `eye in the sky’ project – an aircraft mounted radar that can look deep into enemy territory and direct combat assets for a strike – will be based on an Airbus platform that the air force will acquire from Air India’s fleet.
- The original plan was to acquire two Airbus A 330 platforms that would be modified by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) but this has now been changed to six aircraft that will be taken from Air India.
- India currently operates two of the Netra aircraft and three IL 76 `Phalcon’ systems that were jointly developed with Israel and Russia.
- Officials said that the air force has been unimpressed with the loitering time of the Phalcons.
- Though the aircraft have a wider range of coverage than the Netra, it is unable to stay airborne long enough to meet operational requirements.
- The strategic program to develop a next generation of airborne warning and control systems (AWACS India) that will act as a major force multiplier for the Air Force was cleared in 2015 for an estimated but orders had not been placed for the platform.
- DRDO will oversee structural modifications and adaptations for a 10 m rotodome that will be mounted on the aircraft.
Toll Naka-Free India
- The government is planning to remove toll plazas from across the country in the next two years, and will move on to a Global Positioning System (GPS) -based toll collection to ensure seamless movement of vehicles across the country.
- With the help of the Russian government, we have accepted the GPS system and, in the next two years, we will have a toll collection system running on GPS technology.
- The toll amount will be deducted directly from the bank account based on the movement of vehicles.
- While now all commercial vehicles are coming with vehicle tracking systems, the government will come up with some plan to install GPS technology in old vehicles.
- With the use of the GPS-based toll collection system, toll income of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) in next five years is expected to be ₹134,000 crore, Gadkari said.
- NHAI’s toll income in FY 20 was around ₹24,000 crore, and with the implementation of FASTags since January this year, toll income in FY21 is expected to reach ₹34,000 crore.