1. Nirmala Sitharaman Gets Finance, Task Cut Out: At 5.8%, Lowest Growth in 20 QuartersNirmala Sitharaman took charge as India’s first woman full-time Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister Friday and her task seems cut out. Data on GDP released within a few hours of her occupying the seat in North Block showed the growth rate for January-March 2019 slipping to 5.8 per cent compared to 8.1 per cent in the corresponding period last year.This is the lowest growth rate in 20 quarters and puts India behind China after almost two years. The rate was lower than this at 5.3 per cent in the last quarter of UPA II or January-March 2013-14.For the full year 2018-19, the economy is estimated to have slowed down to 6.8 per cent, lower than the original estimate of 7 per cent and 7.2 per cent recorded in 2017-18.(Source: The Indian Express)Latest News: Nirmala Sitharaman Arrives in Kyrgystan For SCO2. First Up: Rs 6,000/Year Farm Payout to All, PM Scholarship HikeIn its first Cabinet meeting, the new government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friday decided to extend the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme to all farmers across the country, regardless of the size of their landholding.Announced ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in the Interim Budget this February, the scheme provided Rs 6,000 a year in income support — to be distributed in three instalments of Rs 2,000 each every four months — to small and marginal farmers, who owned 2 hectares or less.Friday’s decision will increase the number of beneficiaries to 14.5 crore from 12.5 crore earlier, and will cost the government an additional Rs 12,000 crore. The total cost to the exchequer in 2019-20 under the PM-KISAN scheme is now estimated to be Rs 87,217.50 crore.(Source: The Indian Express)3. Unemployment Rate Hit 6.1% in July ’17 to June ’18: Official DataThe government released a controversial jobs report that seemed to suggest unemployment in India was at a four-decade high, but, even as it retained the numbers in the report, which had been leaked, it said the underlying survey was based on an entirely new methodology, making any comparison with previous surveys unfair.The country’s unemployment rate was 6.1%, data from the country’s first periodic labour force survey (PLFS) for July 2017-June 2018 showed. Given the government’s admission on methodology, this is a number that has to be seen in isolation — at least until the next survey based on a comparable methodology is released.The last “unemployment-employment survey” was carried out in July 2011-June 2012, according to which the all-India unemployment rate was 2.7%. But that was based on an expenditure survey.(Source: Hindustan Times)Unemployment Rate for 2017-18 at 45-Year High, Confirms Govt Data4. LS Session from 17 June, All Eyes on Speaker PickThe first session of the 17th Lok Sabha will take place from June 17 to July 26, and the full budget for the ongoing financial year will be presented on July 5, information and broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar said on Friday, 31 May. The Rajya Sabha will convene on 20 June.The announcement of the schedule, following the first meeting of the cabinet, sparked speculation about who would be the Speaker of the Lok Sabha. The names of at least four former senior ministers are doing the rounds as possible candidates.With 353 seats in the 543 member Lok Sabha, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance’s candidate is a shoo-in for the post.Javadekar added that the cabinet had also decided to request the President to address a joint sitting of both Houses on June 20. This will be President Ram Nath Kovind’s second address to Parliament in a calendar year after his speech at the beginning of the budget session in January.(Source: Hindustan Times)Explained: Who Sits Where in the Lok Sabha & How is It Decided?5. PM Modi to Visit Lanka On 9 June, Says SirisenaPrime Minister Narendra Modi will make an official visit to Sri Lanka on June 9 after completing a trip to the Maldives, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena said on Friday, 31 May.“Prime Minister Modi’s visit is very important to us. We are neighbours and friends…We are eagerly awaiting his arrival,” he told a news conference after his meeting with the Indian premier at Hyderabad House.Modi is expected to travel to the Maldives during June 7-8 for the first bilateral visit of his second term, people familiar with developments said last week.Normalcy was restored in Sri Lanka within three weeks after the Easter Sunday bombings of April 21 that killed more than 250 people, and tourists were returning while many countries had revised their negative travel advisories, Sirisena said.(Source: Hindustan Times)6. Mfg Drag GDP Growth Below 6% for the First Time in 18 QuartersThe Indian economy expanded at its slowest pace in 18 quarters, clocking sub-6% growth in the January-March quarter as demand for cars and consumer goods slumped, while farm output contracted. The figure poses an immediate challenge to the newly sworn in government to reverse the trend.The slowdown in the fourth quarter dragged the annual growth rate to 6.8%, the lowest in five years, according to data released by the National Statistical Office (NSO) on Friday.The 5.8% growth registered during January-March 2019 will result in China edging past India for the first time in nearly two years.The numbers may prompt the monetary policy committee to opt for a fresh round of interest rate reduction when it meets next week as the inflation rate still remains under 3%.(Source: The Times of India)Budget Expectations 2019: ‘Focus on Agriculture as a Single Item’7. Parliament Session from 17 June, Budget on 5 JulyFinance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the maiden budget of the new Narendra Modi government in the Lok Sabha on 5 July. A decision to this effect was taken by the Cabinet here on Friday, 31 May.Addressing the media after the Cabinet meeting, Javadekar said the Parliament session will commence from 17 June and conclude on 26 July. The pro-tem speaker will administer oath to the newly-elected members of the Lok Sabha on June 17 and 18. The election of the Speaker has been scheduled for 19 June.President Ram Nath Kovind will address a joint sitting of the two Houses a day later, on 20 June.Former Union minister Maneka Gandhi happens to be the seniormost member of the Lok Sabha. Therefore, she is likely to be sworn in as the pro-tem speaker of the House.(Source: The Indian Express)8. Rahul Likely to Visit Wayanad Next WeekCongress president Rahul Gandhi will visit Wayanad in north Kerala in the first week of June to thank voters in the constituency, which elected him to the Lok Sabha with a record margin of over 4 lakh votes, district Congress committee president I C Balakrishnan said. During his two-day visit starting June 7, Gandhi will address a public meeting in Wayanad, his first after the Congress’s dismal performance in the general elections.“We are planning at least five road shows in Wayanad and Malappuram districts. But everything depends on the clearance of the SPG [which is responsible for Gandhi’s security],” said Balakrishnan. Gandhi had decided to contest in two seats in this election. In Wayanad, he defeated his rival PP Suneer of the Communist Party of India (CPI) who secured 2,74,597 votes. Gandhi received 7,06,367 votes. But he lost his family’s pocket borough Amethi to Smriti Irani of the BJP by over 55,000 votes.(Source: Hindustan Times)9. Arrests Follow Didi’s Outburst Against ‘Jai Shri Ram’ SlogansA day after Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee lost her cool when greeted with shouts of “Jai Shri Ram” while passing through Bhatpara in North 24 Parganas district, cops on Friday slapped an FIR against “unknown” people, accusing them of “wrongful restraint” and “criminal intimidation”.The FIR was not followed by any detention or arrest but cops picked up several youths in night-long raids from the area for “unrelated, petty” offences and arrested eight of them on Friday before releasing them on bail.The state BJP president Dilip Ghosh, however, said there could be no confusion or doubt about the “real intent” of the arrests. “There is no law against chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’,” he said. Bhatpara is part of the Barrackpore Lok Sabha constituency, where BJP — Arjun Singh defeated Trinamool incumbent Dinesh Trivedi — has scored one of its most stunning upsets.(Source: The Times of India) We'll get through this! 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