Growth first, fiscal deficit cut can wait

People watch television sets displaying Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presenting the budget in parliament, at an electronic shop in Chandigarh February 28, 2015. REUTERS/Ajay Verma

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday announced a budget that put boosting growth before painful reforms, slowing the pace of fiscal deficit cuts and seeking to put domestic and foreign capital to work.  Full Article | Expert views 

Indian soldiers march during the Republic Day parade in New Delhi January 26, 2015. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
Defence

India raises defence budget modestly

India announced on Saturday a modest 7.9 percent increase in defence spending for the fiscal year starting April 1, suggesting that it will move only gradually with the military's long wish list for fighter jets, ships and artillery. After years of neglect, India is trying to narrow the military gap with China, which has been building up its fleet of ships and submarines making forays in the Indian Ocean.  Full Article 

Telecommunication towers are pictured through hanging flower pots at a residential building in Kolkata December 11, 2012.  REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri/Files
Revenue Calculations

Telecoms sector to add $7 billion to govt's purse

The government expects revenue of 428.66 billion rupees ($6.95 billion) from the telecoms sector, including from auctions of its airwaves, during the next fiscal year to March 2016. The government has yet to give details on the spectrum auctions to be held during the next fiscal year. The estimates include revenue from the annual fees telecoms carriers pay to the government.  Full Article 

A cashier (L) counts currency notes as customers wait inside a bank in Hyderabad March 22, 2010.  REUTERS/Krishnendu Halder/Files
Banking

Govt gives $1.3 billion boost to state lenders

India will inject 79.4 billion rupees ($1.3 billion) into state-owned banks in the next fiscal year to bolster their capital reserves, a smaller-than-expected sum which means the sector's heavyweights may have to turn to the market or curb lending. The Reserve Bank of India estimates lenders need more than $40 billion to meet global Basel III norms by 2019.  Full Article 

A woman tries on a gold necklace inside a jewellery showroom at a market in Mumbai January 15, 2015. REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade/Files
Yellow Metal

Gold to get pricey as import duty remains high

Gold premiums in top consumer India could jump to as much as $5 an ounce over world prices next week, from being almost at par, after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley surprised jewellers by maintaining import duty at a record level in Saturday's budget.  Full Article 

A laboratory staff member holds a patient's blood sample inside a laboratory at Janakpuri Super Speciality Hospital in New Delhi January 19, 2015.   REUTERS/Adnan Abidi/Files
Health Budget

India keeps tight rein on public health spending

The Indian government on Saturday kept its healthcare budget for 2015-16 on a tight leash and asked states to contribute more funds for running the country's flagship health programmes. The government announced 297 billion rupees ($4.81 billion) for its main health department, roughly 2 percent higher than current year's revised budget of 290 billion rupees.  Full Article 

Rupee notes are seen in this picture illustration taken in Mumbai June 12, 2013. REUTERS/Vivek Prakash/Files
Business

Foreign investors wooed with tax incentives

India, keen to rekindle economic growth, wooed foreign investors on Saturday with a budget that delayed controversial rules to target tax avoidance and maintained lower taxes on income from debt investments.  Full Article 

A man watches television inside his currency exchange shop in New Delhi August 30, 2013. REUTERS/Mansi Thapliyal/Files
Undeclared Cash

India vows tough punishments on 'black money'

India said it plans tougher punishments including jail terms of up to 10 years for those who hide undeclared cash outside the country and for the banks and advisers who help them, as it tries to bring back illicit billions stashed abroad. Jaitley said the government would introduce the changes in a new law during the budget session, which will also allow enforcement agencies to seize assets held abroad.  Full Article 

A Moody's sign is displayed on 7 World Trade Center, the company's corporate headquarters in New York, February 6, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/Files
Moody's Reaction

Budget "credit neutral" from ratings perspective

Moody's said the budget was "credit neutral," adding the agency would monitor whether the government can fulfill its pledge to meet its fiscal deficit by boosting economic growth. Atsi Sheth, Moody's sovereign ratings analyst, also underscored the need for the government to work towards a timely rollout of GST, while saying more efficient direct cash subsidy transfers would also be important.  Full Article 

A labourer spreads wheat for drying at a wholesale grain market in Chandigarh April 13, 2014. REUTERS/Ajay Verma/Files
SEBI-FMC Merger

Commodities markets set for shakeup

India on Saturday proposed to merge its commodity market regulator with the capital market watchdog, aiming to strengthen regulation in a move which could help open the commodity futures market to institutional investors. Responding to the measure, shares of Multi Commodity Exchange of India Ltd, India's biggest commodity exchange, jumped as much as 15 percent.  Full Article 

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Mohammed Emwazi

The horror of ‘Jihadi John’ and the ‘Jihadi Janes’

Young men and women become radicalized in the quiet of their bedroom, sitting before a computer screen, often after they’ve done their homework. For all the efforts to counter it – increasingly by Muslim activists, scholars, parents, teachers – the digitalized hatred grows. There are many, many, would-be Jihadi Johns – and Jihadi Janes.  Commentary 

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A global lesson from Europe

“The euro area is in crisis” is not the most thrilling way to open an article. The region is seemingly always in crisis, resembling an opera by Wagner – very, very long, with lots of wailing and melodrama, generally conducted in German. The perpetual round of emergency summits and last-minute deals is something investors have had to get used to.  Full Article 

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How much does it cost to watch a suspected militant? Lots.

Surveillance is a double-edged tool. Catching terrorists is vital to protect the country. But we also want to live in a society where liberty and security are balanced, and the government does not follow people around without good reason. From that perspective, the high cost and difficulty of maintaining a continuous surveillance on a suspect may not be entirely bad in a democracy.  Opinion 

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