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Bush steered US through epoch-making end to Cold War with pragmatism

His son George W. Bush became the 43rd President succeeding Clinton, who had defeated his father.

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George HW Bush

New York, Dec 1 : George Herbert Walker Bush, who deftly steered the US through the epoch-making upheaval that ended with the end of the Soviet Union and the emergence of his country as the dominant world power as President from 1989 to 1993, died a day earlier in Houston.

The 94-year-old patrician, who embodied the “kinder, gentler” version of his Republican Party at home and could gently manoeuver through the debris of what was the Soviet Union ending the four decades of Cold War, showed steely resolve when he took on Iraqi leader Saddam Hussain in 1991 to liberate Kuwait.

These incidents will be the epitaph of his single-term presidency that ended with his defeat in 1993 at the hands of Bill Clinton in a three-way race where he was undermined by another conservative, Ross Perot.

Bush Sr. glories abroad and his “Thousand Points of Light” campaign at home promoting volunteerism and compassion were overshadowed by a sense of economic foreboding and a feeling that the nation was adrift domestically that led to his defeat.

A characteristic trait of Bush Sr — a World War II Navy aviator, a former Central Intelligence Agency head and Washington’s envoy to Beijing — was his understanding of the limits of military might and uses of diplomacy and tact which some of his successors, notably his son George W. Bush, lacked with disastrous consequences.

As the Soviet Union unravelled under Mikhail Gorbachev, rather than go for the jugular Bush Sr. helped foster an orderly transition taking care to reassure Moscow while backing its breakaway constituents on their way to independence and democracy and ensuring that the nuclear arsenals and their management were secured.

Once Iraq, which had invaded Kuwait, was pushed out of the oil shiekhdom during a brutal war that saw tens of thousands of Iraqis killed, Bush Sr. called a halt despite the US hawks demanding that US troops go all the way to Baghdad and depose Hussein.

History would endorse his caution: His son George W. Bush ventured into a war against Hussein in Iraq plunging the Middle East into an ongoing crisis.

Drawing on his experience in Beijing, Bush Sr. built the US ties with China as it embarked on a transformation that would make it a challenger to America in the next century.

Bush Sr. had limited engagement with India during his presidency, absorbed as he was with Europe and the Middle East.

He visited India in 1984 when he was the Vice-President and met then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Failure to pay attention to Afghanistan was one of the shortcoming of his presidency that came to haunt his son as President.

After the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan following its defeat in a guerrilla war of attrition by US-backed Islamic mujahideen during the first year of his presidency, Bush Sr. left the country adrift to become a haven for Islamic terrorists who attacked the US in 2011 when his son was President.

This aspect of history would repeat itself as his son would also neglect Afghanistan after an initial victory over the Taliban and the Al Qaeda terrorists and trap the US in its longest war.

After his war service and a degree from Yale University, Bush Sr. left his family’s traditional north-eastern niche for oil-rich Texas in the south to become a petroleum executive and later an entrepreneur and remake his identity.

Born as the son of Senator Prescott Bush in a politically active family, George H.W. Bush became a senator himself before his election to two terms as Vice-President with President Ronald Reagan, whom he succeeded to become the 41st President.

His son George W. Bush became the 43rd President succeeding Clinton, who had defeated his father.

Another son, Jeb Bush, became the Florida Governor and unsuccessfully tried to run for President.

Despite outspending President Donald Trump, Jeb Bush lost the bid for Republican nomination to run against Hillary Clinton.

Trump mercilessly attacked Jeb Bush in his crude ways.

George H.W. Bush, known as “Bush 41” to distinguish him from his son, who is called “Bush 43” for their respective presidencies, was fit enough into his 90th birthday to do a parachute jump to celebrate the occasion.

He later developed Parkinsons disease that forced him into a wheelchair and had a series of infections in his final years.

Bush Sr. is survived by his wife of 73 years, Barbara; his sons George W. Bush, Jeb Bush, Neil and Marvin; a daughter Dorothy Koch, and 17 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @arulouis)

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Rajnath: I pray for early release of Abdullahs & Mehbooba from detention

Rajnath Singh drew accolades in Kashmir while he was the Home Minister in the previous government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for his uprightness and kindness.

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New Delhi, Feb 22 : Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday said that he is praying for the early release of three former chief ministers of Jammu & Kashmir from their detention and hoping that they will contribute to normalizing situation in Kashmir.

Dozens of politicians, including three former chief ministers — Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah of National Conference (NC) and Mehbooba Mufti of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) — were placed under preventive detention soon after the Modi government reorganized and bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir state into two Union Territories on August 5 last year.

Though most of the politicians have been released since then, the three chief ministers and a dozen politicians remain detained. While Farooq Abdullah was booked under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) in September, Omar and Mehbooba were also recently detained under the same law. The government cited their provocative statements and threats issued before the nullification of Article 370 of the Indian constitution which granted special status to Jammu & Kashmir state.

In an exclusive interview to IANS on Saturday, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said, “Kashmir has been peaceful. The situation is improving rapidly. Along with the improvement, these decisions (release of politicians from detention) will also be finalized. The government has not tortured anyone.”

Defending the government’s decision, the Defence Minister said that certain steps had been taken in the interests of Kashmir. “Everybody should welcome it,” he said.

Singh said he will pray for the early release of the Abdullahs and Mufti from their detention. “I also pray that once they are out, they work and contribute towards improvement of the situation in Kashmir,” the Union Minister said.

Rajnath Singh drew accolades in Kashmir while he was the Home Minister in the previous government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for his uprightness and kindness.

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Research and development activity to get hit as WD benefit to cease from FY21

According to experts, R&D activity is a key proponent of the ‘Make in India’ strategy and to further expand the manufacturing sector in the country.

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Research and development activity

New Delhi, Feb 19 : India Inc’s R&D activity might get adversely impacted as weighted deduction (WD) benefits, including those on capital expenses, stand withdrawn from the next fiscal.

Till now, the Income Tax Act allowed for weighted deduction for all R&D activities.

However, four years back a sunset provision was introduced in the Budget on the availability of weighted deduction from April 1, 2020.

This deadline was expected to have been extended in this year’s Budget. However, that did not happen.

“The weighted deduction was a key reason for entities to invest in R&D infra. This withdrawal will impact future investments in this area,” said Amarjeet Singh, Senior Partner, International Tax and Regulatory, KPMG in India.

According to experts, R&D activity is a key proponent of the ‘Make in India’ strategy and to further expand the manufacturing sector in the country.

Besides, R&D investments into India have grown with many MNCs establishing their research bases here.

“The ‘Make in India’ programme has got the booster of a reduced tax rate. Similarly, had the government continued with the weighted deduction for R&D, it would have surely ensured that India marched ahead both in manufacturing and in the corresponding R&D,” said Gukul Chaudhri, Partner, Deloitte India.

“So, while India may not lose its tag as the R&D lab of the world, the availability of weighted deduction would have ensured that India continued as one of the most attractive destinations for R&D in the world,” Chaudhri added.

The Finance Act, 2016, restricted the availability of expenditure incurred on scientific research to 150 per cent from April 1, 2017, and no weighted deduction from April 1, 2020.

“Globally, most countries are encouraging R&D activity as it generates new ‘intellectual property’ (IP), which in turn creates sustainable revenues. Such IP or new product gives rise to a new industry and other supporting activities,” said Samir Kanabar, Partner, Tax and Regulatory Services, Ernst & Young.

“In India, several sectors like auto, pharma etc. have invested substantially in R&D facilities to develop new IPs, patents and hence, a new tax regime to boost R&D was a major expectation,” Kanabar added.

However, Suman Chowdhury, President, Ratings, Acuite Ratings and Research, said that the reduction in weighted tax deduction will not have any significant effect on India Inc’s R&D activity.

“India’s R&D activity has held steady at 0.7 per cent of GDP over 5 years and no visible signs of positive outcomes were seen emanating from private enterprises despite such benefits,” Chowdhury said.

“Nevertheless, corporates now enjoy a reduced effective corporate tax structure, which should more than compensate for the loss, at least for the manufacturing sector. Service oriented enterprises, whose business model thrives on innovation, do not require incentives to do R&D in our opinion,” Chowdhury added.

(Rohit Vaid can be contacted at [email protected])

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AGR risk for GAIL, OIL and Powergrid stays: Fitch

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New Delhi, Feb 19 : India’s telecom-related regulatory dispute still is event risk for GAIL, OIL and Powergrid, Fitch Ratings said on wednesday.

Fitch Ratings continues to treat any payments that three India-based companies – GAIL (India) Limited (BBB-/Stable), Oil India Limited (BBB-/Stable) and Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd (BBB-/Stable) – may have to make under a demand notice from the Department of Telecom as an event risk for the companies’ ratings.

Fitch is not taking immediate rating action on the three companies, as the Supreme Court of India allowed the companies to withdraw their clarification applications on February 14, 2020, and resolve their dispute with Department of Telecom outside the court.

This is in stark contrast to the court’s decision to demand immediate payments from the telecom companies that are also involved in the dispute, Fitch added.

“We expect the three companies to eventually resolve the dispute, although resolution timing is uncertain. A speedy solution is important to prevent disrupting the companies’ investment plans and damaging their performance. The three companies are considering an appeal against the demand notices. We understand that they have the option to resolve the matter through alternate dispute-resolution mechanisms available to state-owned enterprises. This is in addition to the legal options available to telecom license holders in general,” it said.

The Department of Telecom has issued demand notices to GAIL, OIL and POWERGRID for Rs 1,831 billion, Rs 480 billion and Rs 220 billion, respectively.

The notices include license fees on non-telecom revenue and additional interest and penalties on the license fees. However, the three companies’ telecom-related revenue is insignificant, at around Rs 0.5 billion, Rs 0.01 billion and Rs 23 billion, respectively, for the same time period as the demand notices.

The three companies have created telecom infrastructure for internal use and have obtained national long distance and Internet service provider licenses to rent out spare capacity. They maintain that their licenses differ from the unified access licenses held by telecom companies, hence, the court’s decision on adjusted gross revenue for telecom companies does not apply to them.

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