National News- Daily Digest: 8 Key Updates

1. The already strained ties between India and Pakistan dipped further when New Delhi and Islamabad expelled a staffer each at their High Commissions, declaring them ‘persona non-grata’ in tit-for-tat action after Delhi Police said it had uncovered a spy ring involving an employee of the Pakistani mission. Both staffers were given identical deadlines to leave by October 29.

2. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s #Sandesh2Soldiers, a campaign to send Diwali greetings and messages to soldiers guarding the nation’s frontiers, found huge number of participants as many posted their video message on twitter. People can send messages under the #Sandesh2Soldiers campaign on the Narendra Modi App, through MyGov.in, and also through All India Radio. Doordarshan shall also be mounting a programme to share people’s emotions with the armed forces.

3. The Union Cabinet gave in-principle approval to Niti Aayog’s proposal for strategic sale in Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs). However, names of the PSUs that will go through strategic sale would be announced in due course as and when they are ready for the auction. The government will sell a substantial portion of its holding in these companies along with giving up the management control.

4. The Union Cabinet approved 2% dearness allowance and relief benefitting about 50.68 lakh employees and 54.24 lakh pensioners. The decision to provide 2% dearness allowance on basic pay will be effective from July 1, 2016.

5. At a time when all official meetings between India and Pakistan are on hold, senior MEA and R&AW officials met their counterparts in the Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and ISI at a conference in Oman, organised by the U.S. Military National Defence University and British think-tank International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). The Indian delegation included the MEA’s pointperson for Pakistan-Afghanistan-Iran, Joint Secretary (PAI) Gopal Baglay, Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan Manpreet Vohra and an Additional Secretary of the external intelligence Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW). From Pakistan, the MOFA’s Director General for South Asia Faisal Chaudhary, a high ranking military officer from the Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen Zubair Hyat’s team and a senior Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) official. The delegates attended several sessions including one on normalising India-Pakistan relations. While MEA officials insisted no bilateral meeting took place between the senior level delegations, this is the first multilateral event that India and Pakistan have participated at since India cancelled its attendance at the Islamabad SAARC summit over the Uri attack.

6. The Union Cabinet cleared the closure of Haryana-based tractor division of HMT by offering voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) or voluntary separation scheme (VSS) at 2007 notional payscales to enable the public sector unit focus on its core business of machine tools. The Cabinet also approved budgetary support to HMT for payment of outstanding salary/wages and other employee-related dues.

7. The Cabinet has approved a new agreement on trade, commerce and transit between India and Bhutan. The pact provides for a free trade regime between two countries, and duty free transit of Bhutanese merchandise for trade with third countries. As per the pact, bilateral trade between will continue to be transacted in Indian Rupees and Bhutanese Ngultrums.

8. Coimbatore-based Sri Krishna Sweets set a world record by selling 13,188.296 kg of Mysurpa in three hours. This happened on September 20, which the company observes as Mysurpa Day in fond memory of its founder late NK Mahadeva Iyer.

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