The HINDU Notes – 07th February 2018 - VISION

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Wednesday, February 07, 2018

The HINDU Notes – 07th February 2018

πŸ“° ‘It’s about saving Britain, it’s not about Brexit’

A second referendum is not a good idea, says the campaigner who took the British government to the Supreme Court over Brexit
Gina Miller, nΓ©e Gina Singh, was thrust into the spotlight in 2016 after a London court appointed her as the lead claimant in a case that attempted to ensure that the British government sought parliamentary approval before triggering Article 50, Britain’s formal notification of withdrawal from the European Union (EU). Born in Guyana, with part Indian ancestry, and the daughter of that country’s former attorney general, Ms. Miller pursued a number of campaigns before the one on Brexit, including one to increase greater transparency in the British financial services industry. The backlash she faced from sections of the right in Britain after the court accepted her arguments on the need for parliamentary approval have not prevented her from continuing to be a vocal progressive voice on Brexit-related issues, sexual harassment, and the £1 billion deal struck between the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party and the Conservatives. In this interview in London, she speaks about the principles that drive her work, Brexit, and why she is a fan of the colour purple. Excerpts:
You’ve campaigned on a wide range of issues — transparency in the fund management industry, Brexit, and the implementation of the EU’s new regulatory reforms for financial institutions. What is it that binds these campaigns?
I’ve been a campaigner for over 20 years. Starting from small local campaigns and building up to big international ones, it’s always been: you need to shine a light in dark corners because that exposes a lot of the dubious behaviour that goes on. Secondly, I think there has to be accountability and scrutiny or else we get corruption. Thirdly, you have to always ensure that every industry has a societal responsibility.
What was it that led you down this route?
I grew up in a very political household. My father was an attorney general, and I grew up with a strong sense of justice. Because of that I knew a lot of things that went wrong as well. And I saw the human cost of that, which tended to be women and children. I realised that as a woman I could play quite a different role to the men who were fighting for the same principles I believe in.
What do you think you can do that is different?

•I think I can come at it from a different perspective. We may end up at the same conclusion, but my thought process and how I evaluate things are far more holistic. I am not so headstrong going down one particular path; I explore lots of paths and look at things more collaboratively. I also don’t need to be at the front of things. I can be in the background, connect people, make things happen and create solutions. If you are able to do that — create the right environment for ideas to flourish and pass them on to other people — you can do a lot more.

When you joined the Brexit case, were you aware of what you’d be in for?

•In this case, something that people don’t appreciate is that I didn’t make myself the lead claimant; it was the courts that appointed me. I was never supposed to be in this position. Someone from the right-wing press later told me: ‘Gina, the courts gave us the best person they could have, you were an avatar of hate. A woman, coloured, articulate — it was exactly what we needed. A gift.’

How did you deal with it? If you went back in time, would you do it again?

•In my previous campaigns, I had seen my share of hostility. But when people pick on you — the way you look and sound, the horrendous threats of violence and gang rape, threats to slit your kids’ throats in front of you, they sent reporters to try and find skeletons in my family — I wondered, how do I fight this? And then I realised I had to be me. I had to be completely honest and not let them get to me. Because if you act with grace and intelligence and you believe what you are doing, people can’t touch you. If you don’t give them permission to destroy you, they can’t actually do it.

•And something different happened around the Supreme Court hearing: more people started writing to me. On the wall I have a letter from a little girl who drew me a ‘Go, Gina’ superhero badge. I realised I could give people hope and it gave me the strength to carry on. Yes, there are always fewer voices — for every hundred horrible things, I get four or five positives — but they are definitely worth it.

•Knowing everything I do now, I would have done exactly the same thing, but I would have knocked [on the doors of] a few corporates and others to fund me earlier. I thought they’d join in once they’d seen how well we were doing but they were all frightened and they all put their hands in their pockets. The burden of funding has been enormous as has been the cost of security. I would have also explained things to my children sooner. Children are far more resilient than we think. But when it came to taking action, knowing all that I do now... absolutely, I would do it all again.

Parliament has given the go-ahead and much got through Parliament. Are you happy with the direction of things now?

•It’s an absolute indication of where we are politically: we have a bullying culture in both the main political parties, and good MPs with integrity are continually threatened with losing their seats or being deselected. It’s not the structure that is broken; it’s the people in charge and that’s why nothing is going to change. Which is why as much as I fought for parliamentary sovereignty, I think it’s dysfunctional. It needs to be the people who have the voice. And I think at the end of this process there needs to be a people’s vote on all the options [for Brexit] and not just a parliamentary vote because I don’t think they’ll [Parliament] vote for the best interests of the country.

Should Britain have a second referendum?

•I don’t think so, but [it should have] a people’s vote on all the options: whatever deal we get, no deal and remaining. But we can’t turn the clock back so [the campaign to remain] would have to be ‘remain with a reform agenda’. The question is, how do we get to a better place and how do we mend this country? We are now living in a very divided, hostile country. Even if I had a magic wand tomorrow and we could withdraw Article 50, it’s not going to heal this country. We have to think about the bigger picture: the future of Britain is more than Brexit and there are lots of people fighting for ‘remain’ and ‘leave’ who are stuck in the past and don’t realise what the true agenda is now. It’s about saving this country, it’s not about Brexit.

How do you go about that?

•We have to change the language we use and try and move people beyond ‘remain’ and ‘leave’. There are too many irresponsible people in power who are using Brexit as a power play. It has to come from people with integrity in all walks of life, not just politicians. You could argue that part of the reason for Brexit was that people were irresponsible. We lived in our comfortable bubbles and forgot about others. We didn’t understand what the impact was on different parts of society. We need to step out of our comfort zones and take some responsibility.

Can this happen? Are you an optimist?

•I think what is happening is not defined by nationhood; it’s about people as human beings. The major issues facing us have no national boundaries. The gap between the have and the have-nots is growing ever deeper. All round the world you have companies that have no global home and don’t pay taxes, terrorism knows no boundaries, [there is] lack of water and electricity. We have to fight them together; it’s not about individual countries. If people in positions of power and responsibility can come together to think [about] how they can effect change, we can start changing hearts and minds.

What about forums such as Davos?

•I think Davos is part of the problem. It’s an outdated and opaque place for rich men to hide, rich businesses to make secret deals behind back doors. I would scrap Davos tomorrow.

What are your next steps?

•To me there is the immediate ‘going to war’ almost — the immediate problem and the longer-term conversation to be had once the short term has been dealt with. We will survive [Brexit], we will have the downturn, and no one will take the blame, but after that I think the conversations I’m starting to have already is about thinking about politics in a different way. You can’t deal with violence, education, poverty, inequality without joined up thinking and on 3/5-year policy cycles. You need ones that are cross-party and have long-term strategies in place.

•I’m a great lover of the colour purple. I speak at lots of schools and say to the kids: ‘If we could mix the colours of all the [British political] parties, you’d get purple.’ I’m a great advocate of purple politics which puts the country and the people before money and politics.

Will Brexit happen?

•It’s very complicated. I don’t believe politicians or Brexiteers have any grasp of the legal, domestic or international aspects of this, and they will end up being tied up in legislation for years to come. There is also a significant misunderstanding about Brexit: they have an idea that you can stop the relationship and move on, but it’s not moving on. It’s reversing 44 years of integration. They also talk about lowering regulations, but the rest of the world is converging on regulation and they are going down a route the rest of the world isn’t.

How do you pick your battles?

•I tend to pick battles that I can win. I am also always looking at unintended consequences. For every action you can have a ripple effect which is not necessarily the one you want. Things are never black or white and if there is a danger, the unintended consequence could hurt people and be more damaging than the win. I won’t pursue them.

πŸ“° A roster of questions

Collective decision-making must inform the allocation of cases in the Supreme Court

•It would be absurd to construe the new roster for allocation of cases in the Supreme Court, with division of work among the judges according to various subject categories, as a move towards greater objectivity or fairness. This new roster comes on the heels of an important press conference by the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court expressing dissatisfaction at the manner of allocation of cases and the high-handedness of the Chief Justice of India in asserting his supremacy as master of roster to the exclusion of the senior judges of the court. But even a cursory glance at this new roster raises more questions than puts to rest the issue of a fair and transparent roster for allocation of cases in our apex court.

In consultation?

•Was this roster prepared in consultation with senior judges of the Supreme Court? Have the cases been allocated according to a particular judge’s expertise in a subject matter? Has the allocation been done in keeping with principles and procedures that have been accepted globally as necessary for transparency, fairness and accountability? The roster raises these and many more questions.

•The roster that was put out to be operationalised from February 5 has given impetus to more speculation and has become a stronger ground for criticism of the prevailing practice at the Supreme Court. The roster aggregates all important cases to the Chief Justice of India — politically sensitive cases, all fresh public interest litigations, social justice matters, contempt of court matters, matters dealing with appointment of constitutional functionaries, among others. Mundane cases with little political significance have been assigned to the other senior judges. Despite the judges going public with their discontent, the Chief Justice went on to exclude them from the range of important Constitution Bench hearings that have commenced this month and that will have a long-term bearing on the state of our democracy.

‘A court of equals’

•Such concentration of power in the hands of one person violates the foundations of what Justice P.B. Sawant has called “a court of equals”. The Chief Justice of India is only one among equals, with the power to judiciously exercise an important role of constituting benches. This authority cannot be used in an autocratic manner defying all norms of equity and justice and in disregard for principles of neutrality, impartiality and transparency. Either way, case allotment is clearly rule-based, falls well within boundaries of objective criteria and with limited scope for unbridled discretion. Indisciplined exercise of this authority can lead to a complete subversion of democracy.

•A just and fair roster must be one that is divided subject-wise among judges according to their experience and expertise in those subjects. Politically sensitive matters should be before the five senior judges of the Supreme Court. Among them, the allocation of individual cases must be by random computer allocation not by the individual decision of any human. For other cases as well, if there is more than one judge dealing with a particular subject then cases belonging to that subject should be randomly allocated among the various judges to whom that subject has been allocated.

Regaining authority

•Collective decision-making was the bedrock that ushered in the collegium system in 1993. It laid the foundation of consultative procedures for appointment of judges. When appointments are a collective function, the allocation of important cases must be done collectively or at least in consultation with senior judges of the Supreme Court. There is still scope to revisit this roster through the prism of objectivity and fairness. This must be done, for greater transparency and accountability will only yield more authority to our Supreme Court as the supreme custodian of people’s rights.

πŸ“° The manufacturing muddle

Without closing the loop of consumer demand and supply, neither GDP growth nor job growth will quicken

•The Union Budget has reinforced the correction of the inverted duty structure (IDS) which has adversely impacted manufacturing for decades. An IDS means higher duty on intermediate as opposed to final/finished goods, with the latter often enjoying concessional custom duty under some schemes. The Budget has raised customs duties significantly; Chinese/other imports have swamped India’s small- and medium-sized enterprises and large manufacturing companies, raising the import-intensity of manufacturing as well as dampening job growth by raising capital intensity. So it is no surprise that the share of manufacturing in GDP and employment has not risen since 1991. We have ceded ground to China as the ‘factory of Asia and the world’, a process that must be reversed urgently if we are to realise the ‘Make in India’ dream.

•The goods and services tax (GST), especially the IGST or Integrated GST component, has begun to erode the advantage that the IDS was giving to foreign exporters in Indian markets. Also, the Finance Minister, in Budget 2014, announced the beginnings of a reversal of the IDS in electronics and has sustained that effort in subsequent Budgets. Unfortunately, a series of sectors remain adversely impacted by the IDS.

Advantage China

•China had, thanks to a strategic industrial policy it followed for two decades, stolen a march on India in labour-intensive manufacturing exports. But India’s policy structure failed to utilise its labour advantage to grow labour-intensive manufacturing exports. The result: while China reduced the absolute numbers and percentage of the poor in the population by absorbing surplus labour in manufacturing, India’s poverty reduction was much slower. A major reason: while China’s agricultural and rural income growth was much higher as it sustained consumer demand, it also generated industrial jobs much faster. While India grew construction jobs very fast since 2000, all the way to 2011-12, manufacturing output and employment growth left much to be desired.

•Moreover, analysis shows that between 2004-05 and 2011-12, but much more between 2011-12 and 2015-16, the growth of manufacturing jobs not only first slowed after 2011-12 but also became negative. The most labour-intensive manufacturing sectors which account for over half of total manufacturing employment in India (60 million in 2011-12 to 2015-16) could get a fillip now due to raised customs duties, thanks to the Budget.

•Customs duties have been raised on capital goods and electronics, and silica for use in manufacture of telecom grade optical fibre. These have been among the sectors adversely impacted by the IDS in the past 10 years or so. Duties have also been raised on labour-intensive manufactures such as food processing, footwear, jewellery, furniture, toys and games.

•Some have seen this as a return to pre-1991 ‘protectionism’. This reading is misplaced for two reasons. Reduction of tariffs (1991-1998) was precipitous, from an average rate of 150% to 40% by 1999, and to 10% in 2007-08, especially in manufacturing. Indian manufacturers, unreasonably protected till 1990, were suddenly exposed to competition. A slower reduction would have enabled them to adjust to import competition, upgrade technology, and compete. The sudden onslaught of lower-priced imports decimated many domestic enterprises, although it benefited domestic consumers with an array of consumer products. Domestic traders gained too.

•Unfortunately, this overexposure gathered momentum as from the early 2000s, free trade agreements with much of East/South-east Asia reduced tariffs further, flooding Indian markets with Chinese and other country products – consumer (durable and non-durable) and capital goods.

Chasing jobs

•Meanwhile, beginning 2000, the number of those joining the labour force grew sharply to 12 million per annum till 2004-05; as domestic manufacturing employment growth was slow, they could only be absorbed in agriculture or traditional services; and informal employment grew even more than ever before. However, with GDP growth picking up from 2003-04 onwards, non-agricultural jobs began to grow at 7.5 million per annum.

•Two fortuitous, though policy-induced, developments have saved the day since 2004-05, reducing sharply the number of entrants to the labour force. First, as population growth fell from 1990 onwards, entrants to the labour force fell. Second, as school education access grew rapidly, post-Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan, children remained in school.

•However, these entrants, much better educated than the earlier cohort, are now entering the labour force. Where will they be absorbed? Not in agriculture. The hard labour of construction work is also not attractive to them. They want either white-collar jobs in the private or preferably public sector, or in industry or in modern services. But are such jobs growing fast enough?

•Recent data from multiple sources such as the government’s Annual Labour Bureau survey, with a sample size larger than the NSS, and the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy indicate that job growth is lower than entrants to the labour force. The youthful labour force, between 15 and 29 years, saw a very sharp increase of 40 million, from 147 million to 187 million between 2011-12 and 2015-16.

Fall in agricultural jobs

•The share of the workforce in agriculture has been falling steadily, from 60% in 1999-2000 to 49% in 2011-12, but the fall has slowed sharply after 2011-12, when the pace of non-agricultural job growth slowed along with GDP growth. Between 2004-05 and 2011-12, the numbers in agriculture had been at a rate of 5 million per year. Since 2012, the numbers leaving agriculture over 2011-12 to 2015-16 fell to 1 million per year, as non-agriculture jobs grew slowly since 2011-12.

•More worrying is that while the number of youth in agriculture fell between 2004-05 and 2011-12 — from 87 million to 61 million — after 2011-12 there was a significant increase of youth in agriculture. Between 2011-12 and 2015-16, there was a 24 million increase, from 61 million to 85 million, in youth in agriculture, a retrogressive development since education levels have risen, while the aspiration of such youth is for non-agricultural jobs.

•How slow job growth has been since 2011-12 is demonstrated by the manufacturing workforce (organised and unorganised) declining overall and for youth as well. It appears that as GDP growth slowed after 2011-12, youth who had benefited significantly from jobs in manufacturing have suffered disproportionately. Of all youth employed, those in manufacturing had risen between 2004-05 and 2011-12, from 14.5% to 16%. This dropped precipitously to 10.8%, just as the share of all employment in manufacturing fell, between 2011-12 and 2015-16. The only sector with a significant increase in labour absorption, especially the young, has been services, where employment rose from 36 million in 2011-12 to nearly 52 million in 2015-16 for them, and for all labour from 127 million to 141 million.

•Incidentally, sheer formalisation of erstwhile informal jobs/enterprises, thanks partly to demonetisation and then GST, is not the same as new job creation (unlike what has been claimed, based on some ill-informed research).

Looking ahead

•The GST, especially its inter-State component, has resulted in a neutralisation of the IDS, which had come to prevail. It has also, as the Economic Survey 2018 has rightly claimed, led to a formalisation of some informal firms, and hence workers (by registration in the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation).

•The resolution of the twin balance sheet problems (of companies being over-leveraged and banks unable to lend due to mounting non-performing assets), together with the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, should now open the floodgates for new manufacturing investment.

•Of course, manufacturing exports (labour or capital intensive ones) are unlikely to take-off if the rupee continues to strengthen against major foreign currencies. Exports are today well below what they were a decade ago.

•Finally, policy must attempt to close the loop between rising demand and supply through consumer demand, which the Budget attempts through its agriculture and rural infrastructure focus. As GDP growth rate boomed between 2003-4 and 2013-14 to 7.9% per annum because of rising demand, real wages rose because agricultural growth revived and the rural labour market tightened. This is because non-agriculture jobs grew faster than entrants to the labour force. That sweet phase is long past. Without closing the loop of consumer demand and supply, neither GDP growth nor job growth will quicken. More manufacturing policy initiatives, such as an early announcement of an Industrial Policy by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, must be sustained over 2018.

πŸ“° RBI likely to keep repo rate on hold

MPC may flag fiscal slippage, oil prices

•The six-member monetary policy committee of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), which is meeting for the last time in this financial year, is expected to maintain the status quo for the third straight review meeting as retail inflation is hovering close to the central bank’s upper tolerance limit.

•Consumer price index-based inflation or retail inflation — the central bank’s primary yardstick for setting interest rates — was 5.21% in December, just below the 6% upper band mandate of RBI.

•Rising food prices was one of the main factors behind the 17- month-high retail inflation.

•Economists said there could be further pressure on inflation with rising oil prices and higher minimum support prices for farmers, as promised in the Union Budget last week.

•All this would mean the RBI would hold the repo rate, the key policy rate at 6%, accompanied by ‘hawkish’ tone, though the stance of the policy would likely continue to stay neutral. “RBI is likely to stay on hold on policy rates tomorrow, but expect a hawkish commentary,” said Abheek Barua, chief economist, HDFC Bank. “Rising oil prices, higher MSPs announced in the Budget and slight deviation in the fiscal consolidation path have increased the probability of higher rates in 2018-19. Bond yields are expected to remain around current levels in the near term but trend towards 7.75% by September 2018.”

•Bond yields have been rising since the Budget was presented, and after the government missed the fiscal deficit target and pushed back the glide path of attaining the fiscal deficit target of 3% to 2020-21 from 2018-19.

•Next year’s fiscal deficit target of 3.3% is also under a cloud as revenue projections are seen as optimistic.

Bonds sell-off

•“Budget FY19 triggered a sell-off in the Indian bond markets last week,” DBS economist Radhika Rao and Rates Strategist Eugene Leow wrote in a note to the bank’s clients.

•“Optimistic revenue projections and concerns over the inflationary impact of budgetary measures weighed on sentiment. Higher fiscal targets for FY18-19, along with rising oil prices, are set to make the RBI’s policy path a tricky one this year,” DBS said in the note.

•It added that the RBI would flag the projected fiscal slippage, higher oil, and MSPs as risks to future inflation, but not as factors that would warrant an imminent tightening.

•Indranil Sengupta, economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said while the MPC may continue with a ‘slightly hawkish’ pause in its review meeting, inflation risks were being overdone as vegetable prices had started easing.

πŸ“° Don’t dump this junk here, says SC

Bench calls affidavit filed by Centre on solid waste management as ‘garbage’

•Justice Madan B. Lokur has described an 845-page compilation of the Central government on solid waste management as “junk,” “garbage” and even “solid waste.”

•The Centre had come to the court with the voluminous affidavit containing a collection of schemes, official correspondence and other documents on solid waste management across the country. But the court refused to take it on record.’’

‘Not garbage collectors’

•“What are you trying to do here? Are you trying to impress us with this [hefty affidavit]? We are not impressed. We are not garbage collectors. This has nothing,” Justice Lokur, leading the apex court’s Social Justice Bench with Justice Deepak Gupta, said pointing to the affidavit.

•“Whatever junk you have, you dump it before us. Do not do this,” Justice Lokur told the government counsel.

•Advocate Wasim Qadiri, for the government, agreed to give the Bench a properly compiled and column-wise detailed affidavit in three weeks.

Dengue death

•The court was hearing a PIL on the implementation of Solid Waste Management Rules 2016. In 2015, the apex court had taken suo motu cognisance of the death of a seven-year-old due to dengue. He was allegedly denied treatment by five private hospitals and his distraught parents had committed suicide.

πŸ“° First family tree for tropical forests

An international team of researchers, including Indians, unravels their evolutionary history

•They may be oceans apart, but tropical forests in different continents across the world are related and share a common ancestry, according to a team of more than 100 researchers, including several Indian scientists.

•The discovery, published on February 5 in the international journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , necessitates a new classification system for plant communities, which could help researchers predict the resilience or susceptibility of different forests to global environmental changes more accurately.

Million tree samples

•To classify tropical forests based on their genetic relationships, scientists contributed almost one million tree samples of 15,000 species from tree plots across 400 locations in the world. Indian scientists from the Indian Institute of Science, Pondicherry University, Delhi University, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Bharathiar University, International Institute of Information Technology, Sigur Nature Trust (SNT) and the Kerala Forest Research Institute also contributed to this data.

•Incorporating genetic information of these species, the team led by scientist Ferry Slik (Universiti Brunei Darussalam) built a family tree to see how these trees are related to each other through millions of years of evolution. With this, they identified five major forest regions in the tropics: the Indo-Pacific, Subtropical, African, American and Dry forests.

•According to their results, tropical forests in Africa and South America are closely related, with most of the differences between them occurring within the last 100 million years. This likely reflects patterns of plate tectonics, as South America and Africa broke apart resulting in the formation of the Atlantic Ocean that started approximately 140 million years ago.

•Another finding is that dry forests found in India, America, Africa and Madagascar are also closely related to each other.

•“India plays a central role in this story because many of the plant species in the Asian tropics reached Asia via India about 45 million years ago, including the very important tree family of Dipterocarpaceae (Asia’s main timber group),” Slik wrote in an e-mail to The Hindu .

•“In terms of fundamental science, these are important results in botanical research,” said India-based ecologist Jean-Philippe Puyravaud of Masinagudi’s Sigur Nature Trust, who contributed to the study. “Forests and vegetation are uniquely shaped by their history, and we need to make more efforts to conserve them.”

•According to the authors, different forests may be more vulnerable or resilient to climate change and deforestation, so understanding similarities and differences between forests will help inform conservation efforts.

πŸ“° Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh to be part of India’s tiger census

In a first, all countries will jointly estimate big cat numbers

•India’s tiger census, which began late last year, will see coordination with Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh in estimating the territorial spread of the animal in the subcontinent. While India has engaged with Nepal and Bangladesh in previous tiger counts, this is the first time all countries are uniting in arriving at tiger numbers, particularly in regions with shared borders. “We’ve had officials from these countries come to the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) for training,” said Y. Jhala, senior scientist. “This time we hope it will be a simultaneous exercise and tigers aren’t double-counted.”

•Since 2006, the WII — a Union Environment Ministry-funded body — has been tasked with coordinating the tiger estimation exercise. The once-in-four-years exercise calculated, in 2006, that India had only 1,411 tigers. This rose to 1,706 in 2010 and 2,226 in 2014 in later editions on the back of improved conservation measures and new estimation methods. The survey — divided into four phases — began last winter and is expected to reveal its findings in early 2019.

•Commissioned by the Union Environment Ministry’s National Tiger Conservation Authority, the Rs. 10 crore exercise this year involves 40,000 forest guards traversing 4,00,000 sq. km. of forests; wildlife biologists independently assessing them; approximately a year’s duration of field work; 14,000 camera traps; and coordination with 18 States. Along with tigers, the survey also collects information on the prey population of deer and other animals.

Android app

•Forest guards have Android phones and an app to storedata. Officials said one challenge in past censuses was that a sighting, or traces of a tiger’s presence, had to be manually logged in. This led to errors in location data.

πŸ“° Agni 1 test-fired off the Odisha coast

•India on Tuesday successfully test-fired its short-range nuclear capable ballistic missile Agni-1 with a strike range of over 700 km from a test range off the Odisha coast, Defence sources said.

•The indigenously developed surface-to-surface missile was launched as a part of a periodic training activity by the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) of the Army to consolidate operational readiness, they said.

•The state-of-the-art missile was launched around 8.30 a.m. from a mobile launcher at Pad 4 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at the Dr. Abdul Kalam Island, formerly known as Wheeler Island, the sources said.

•Describing the trial a “complete success”, they said that all the mission objectives were met during the test.

•The sophisticated Agni-I missile is propelled by a solid rocket propellant system and is equipped with a specialised navigation system that ensures it reaches the target with a high degree of precision, the sources said.