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PM Modi’s New Year’s Eve Speech: BJP hails speech, Opp attacks PM

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Opposition parties attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “failing” to show “sensitivity” towards people’s pain due to demonetisation in his address to the nation, while BJP hailed him for announcing a string of welfare measures for the weaker sections.Slamming Modi for his “lacklustre” address, Congress called him a merchant of “false promises” and wondered why he did not mention how many “lakhs of crores” in black money and fake currencies the government managed to wipe out through demonetisation in the last 50 days.Congress Spokesperson Randeep Surjewala alleged the Prime Minister totally failed to show any sensitivity to people’s pain as no relief from financial restrictions was announced despite widespread expectation.The Left parties attacked him for “failing” to address problems of the poor and farmers caused by demonetisation and charged him with delivering a “budget speech” in view of forthcoming assembly polls in UP and some other states.”He spoke like a pracharak for most of the 45-minute speech…It was like a budget speech,” CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said.BJP President Amit Shah, however, hailed Modi for welfare measures and called them “great step” towards opening the avenues for the weaker sections of the country.”The prime minister opened up avenues for poor, farmers and youth of this country after the record availability of money in the banks since Independence following the demonetisation. It is a great step for the weaker sections of the country,” he said.Surjewala said though crores of people were reeling under severe difficulties and a large number of them lost their jobs, Modi did not talk about any roadmap for them.”The Prime Minister’s so called cleansing drive took 125 lives of innocent Indians and put crores of people in severe difficulties. But Modi did not uttter a single word for those who died. This is reflection of his insensitivity to the peoples’ pain,” Surjewala said. Attacking Modi for not lifting restrictions on withdrawal of cash even after the 50-day period, the Congress spokesman said the PM only believes in “hitting headlines and giving no deadlines”. “The entire country was listening with curosity that the Prime Minister will lift the restrictions on withdrwal of their hard earned money from banks. But people will still have to reel under this economic anarchy.”The Prime Minister said it will take time to improve the banking system in the new year. It means he belives in hitting headlines and not giving deadlines,” he said.Yechury, who had asked a number of questions to the Prime Minister ahead of the latter’s address to the nation, rued Modi did not announce any compensation for daily wage earners, fishermen, agricultural workers “who were hit hard by demonetisation”.He also questioned why the Prime Minister did not announce debt waiver to farmers while Rs 1.12 crore taken in loans by corporates have been written off.”He (Modi) has talked about hardships of people standing in queues. But he said nothing on compensation to those 115 persons who died in queues while withdrawing money,” Yechury said.In a series of tweets, Shah said, “PM @narendramodi has given a futuristic & visionary address to the nation, sharing a series of welcome initiatives for poor & farmers.”PM @narendramodi wonderfully articulated the passion & enthusiasm with which 125 crore Indians supported the movement against corruption.”BJP leader and Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu also welcomed the announcements, tweeting, “I specially thank PM @narendramodi for reducing interest rate on housing.A big boost to housing sector & big boon to the poor &middle class,” he tweetedComing down hard on the PM, Surjewala said demonetisation has taken away the jobs, hit the farmers and traders and made life difficult for every section of the society but there was no word of relief for them in his address.”Who benefitted from the demonetisation. Only a handful of 50 people who are Modiji’s friend. This is why he said yesterday that the deposits of the people in the banks would be used for strengthening banking system and infrastructure.Noting that there was “nothing new” in PM’s announcements, he said Modi is selling what Congress was implementing whether the Rs 6,000 maternity benefit to pregnant poor women or interest subvention on houses for the poor.Stating that the decision of demonetisation has destroyed the back bone of poor and medial class, Surjewala said Modi should have announced 20 per cent bonus for farmers above MSP, compensation for those who lost job during this period among others.Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), the ruling alliance partner in Bihar, said the address proves that even Modi himself has accepted that demonetisation has “failed.” In a series of tweets, party chief Lalu Yadav posed a series of questions to the PM on the demonetisation, saying the people of the country would be standing in the queues from Monday again.”Where is the report card, why did not (Prime Minister Modi) disclose how much black money (has been) unearthed. How much (money) has been deposited, how many jobs lost, how much is the loss to the economy and how it would be compensated,” Lalu tweeted.In another tweet, he sought to know from the PM how much money was spent on printing of new notes.Taking a dig at Modi’s speech, which did not mention any timeline for the return of normalcy in the banking system, he said the PM, who had in his November speech asked the people to bear the pain for 50 days, “did not give any deadline.””Prime Minister publicly misleading the nation is not a good sign. Nobody will have faith in such a Prime Minister,” he tweeted.”The boring speech of today signals that the PM has accepted that demonetisation has failed. Had there been even a single achievement he would have gone to the town, tom-toming it,” he said.”The country will be in the queues again on the eve of the new year, such an expressionless, ineffective and crawling pre-budget speech,” he said.He claimed that the PM has no “remorse” even after taking away the lives of hundreds of people, and 25 lakh people’s jobs.

Jung not over? LG Anil Baijal non-commital on fixing relationship with Kejriwal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former bureaucrat Anil Baijal took over as 20th Lt Governor of Delhi and struck a cautious note on where the LG’s office will stand in repairing the fractured relationship between the Centre and AAP government which had hit rock bottom under his predecessor. 70-year-old Baijal, who had served in a number of key positions at the Centre including as Union Home Secretary, was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Chief Justice of Delhi High Court G Rohini, 10 days after Najeeb Jung’s abrupt resignation as the LG.Baijal said addressing key challenges like women’s safety, pollution, traffic congestion and strengthening infrastructure will be his priority areas.The oath ceremony was attended by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Delhi Chief Secretary MM Kutty, leader of Opposition in Delhi Assembly Vijender Gupta among others.On being asked about tussle between previous LG Jung and the city government on a range of issues including administrative control over the bureaucracy, Baijal said, “This is speculative. I don’t know why and how the relationship will improve. We will sit and talk and then you will get to know.”Welcoming Baijal’s appointment, Kejriwal said he was hopeful that under the new LG, governance in the national capital will see new momentum overcoming the past hurdles.”I am very hopeful that in the future, we all – MLAs, Delhi government, people of Delhi – will work with the Lt Governor for overall development of Delhi. “In the last few months, some works of Delhi government have come to a standstill. I hope that these works will be expedited,” Kejriwal said at an event at Delhi Assembly complex.Baijal said he will put his best efforts in improving law-and-order situation, women’s safety, traffic congestion besides strengthening infrastructure and civic amenities in the city.”Delhi is a megapolis which has several problems like women safety, law and order, huge population, infrastructure, civic agencies and congestion. We all know about these problems. We will work with elected government to solve them,” he told reporters. Baijal also thanked President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for giving him the responsibility. A 1969-batch IAS officer, Baijal had served as Union Home Secretary under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government besides holding key positions in other ministries.He was actively associated with the designing and countrywide roll-out of Rs 60,000-crore Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) launched by the Manmohan Singh government. Baijal had retired from service in 2006 as Urban Development Secretary. He had served as vice chairman of Delhi Development Authority and is known to be well versed with the city administration.The former bureaucrat was also on the executive council of think-tank Vivekananda International Foundation, several of whose former members have been appointed to senior positions by the Modi government including NSA Doval.Baijal, known to follow the rule book, will have to take a series of important decisions including on the report of Shunglu committee, set up by Jung to examine over 400 files pertaining to decisions taken by the AAP government in the last two years.The Shunglu committee has reportedly pointed out “irregularities” in some of the Kejriwal government’s decisions.His immediate task will also include appointing a new chairman of Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) which has been headless since November after the appointment of incumbent Krishna Saini was turned down by Jung.Jung and the AAP dispensation had clashed over a range of issues including transfer and posting of bureaucrats, setting up of enquiry commissions and among others.There was a running battle between L-G office and Kejriwal government with the latter constantly challenging the former’s supremacy in the city administration.Jung had won the court battle as the Delhi High Court had stamped the primacy of Lt Governor in the affairs of Government of NCT.However, AAP government had approached the Supreme Court challenging the high court verdict and during a recent hearing in the case, the apex court had said the elected government should have some powers.

Pakistan arrests 66 Indian fishermen for ‘illegal fishing’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sixty-six Indian fishermen have been arrested for alleged illegal fishing in Pakistani waters and a court here remanded them into custody on Saturday.The Indian fishermen along with five boats were arrested last evening for “illegally” fishing in Pakistan’s territorial waters and have been sent to jail by a judicial magistrate.The Maritime Security Agency had arrested the fishermen and seized five boats yesterday, a spokesman for the agency said.”The fishermen were arrested after they remained in Pakistani waters in the Arabian Sea despite warnings to move out of our territorial waters,” the spokesman said.Earlier on November 20, the Pakistani Maritime Security Agency had arrested 43 Indian fishermen for entering its territorial waters.Amin Marri, the station house officer of Docks police station, said the fishermen were booked under the Foreigner’s Act and the Fisheries Act and had now been sent to jail on court orders after being provided with clothing and food by a welfare organisation.Pakistan and India frequently arrest fishermen as there is no clear demarcation of the maritime border in the Arabian Sea and these fishermen do not have boats equipped with the technology to know their precise location.

PM Modi’s announcements will pave way for ‘cleaner and bigger GDP’: Arun Jaitley

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The slew of measures announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi will enhance economic activities and pave way for “cleaner and bigger GDP”, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said today. In a series of tweets, Jaitley said: “PM’s announcements will enable a cleaner & bigger GDP…PM’s announcements will enhance economic activities”.Referring to the sops announced for different sectors, he said agriculture, MSME and housing segments will get a fillip.The Finance Minister, who will be presenting the budget for 2017-18 in February, also said the government is committed to cleansing political funding.On the announcement of fixed 8 per cent interest rate on 10-year deposits up to Rs 7.5 lakh for senior citizens, Jaitley said it is “great news”.In his address to the nation, Modi said home loans in urban areas up to Rs 9 lakh and Rs 12 lakh will receive interest subvention of 4 per cent and 3 per cent, respectively. Also, in rural areas home loans up to Rs 2 lakh will get interest rebate of 3 per cent.Modi also said government will bear 60-days interest burden on farm loans taken for rabi crops and also doubled Nabard funding corpus to Rs 41,000 crore.All 3 crore Kisan Credit Cards holders will be given RuPay debit cards, he added.

J&K: Militants open fire in Handwara, cop killed

Sat, 31 Dec 2016-11:00pm , Srinagar , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A policeman was killed in firing on Saturday by militants on a naka party in Handwara area of Kupwara district of Kashmir, officials said.The militants, who were traveling in a load carrier, opened fire on police personnel at a barricade at Chogul in Handwara this evening, a police official said.Constable Abdul Karim was injured in the firing, he said, adding he succumbed at a hospital.The militants managed to escape in the load carrier, the official added.

UP Elections 2017: Ready to contest in all assembly seats, says Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress on Saturday said it was ready to contest all assembly seats in the upcoming elections in Uttar Pradesh, even as it chose not to comment on the internal affairs of Samajwadi Party.”We are working in all the seats … We have said we are ready to contest all the seats in the state and we are preparing for the polls,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said. Asked about the fast-paced developments in ruling SP in UP, he said, “We don’t comment on the internal affairs of other parties. There had been a quarrel yesterday and today there was a patch up. It is a good thing. The family is together which is a good thing.”Speaking about the party’s campaign in the state, Surjewala said the Congress’ slogan is ’27 saal, UP behaal’ (27 years, UP in doldrums). Congress will contest the polls on the plank of development, rising above the caste and communal issues, he added.

PM Modi’s New Year’s Eve Speech: Mamata says PM took over FM’s job, Kejriwal calls it ‘disappointing’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Describing Narendra Modi’s address to the nation tonight as a “pre-budget speech”, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee alleged that the Prime Minister deviated from the actual agenda of black money and demonetization. “PM deviated from actual agenda of black money & #DeMonetisation PM just took over post of Finance Minister and made pre-Budget speech (sic),” Banerjee said in a series of tweets.”So the FM was missing from this advance Budget Speech made by PM. Modi babu, empty vessels make the most noise,” she said claiming it was a “heartless, baseless speech”.Banerjee reminded the Prime Minister that he forgot to even pay respect to more than 112 citizens who died in queues to get cash.”Saying Nation Address & doing political vendetta. In the name of addressing the nation, Modi Babu is serving his selfish personal agenda,” she tweeted.”The Nation Address became the Budget Address.Financial Emergency continues in the name of black money cleanup. Money not available in banks. Still no concrete solutions to problems,” Banerjee said.Attacking Modi she said he wanted 50 days to deliver promises but “badly failed”.”PM who runs nation in the name of ‘Suddhikaran’ just underwent ‘Buddhiharan’,” she said adding promises were broken and he has snatched common man’s financial rights.She also asked where are the figures of demonetisation and how much of black money was recovered? “What did the nation gain after 50 days of excruciating pain,” the West Bengal CM asked while claiming that 2017 will mark the end of demonetisation and start of “DeModitisation”.”This will be the New Year Resolution of all 125 crore people of this great country,” she said. Questioning the restrictions imposed on cash withdrawal she said the government cannot simply “snatch away” economic rights of the people. “Modi Babu, public are not beggars. Why are there still restrictions on cash withdrawal?. 50 days are now over. How can you take away the rights of citizens to withdraw their own hard-earned money ? A government just cannot snatch away people’s economic rights,” she said. The Reserve Bank of India said last night that cash withdrawal limit from ATMs would be increased to Rs 4,500 per day from the current Rs 2,500 from January 1. However, there has been no change in the weekly withdrawal limit, which stands at Rs 24,000, including from ATM, for individuals and Rs 50,000 for small traders. Kejriwal calls speech ‘disappointing’ Terming Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address as “disappointing”, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today accused him of “cheating” people and claimed that “not a single penny” of black money was recovered and there was no reduction in corruption due to demonetization. He also hit out at the prime minister for “not offering any relief” to the people suffering due to demonetization. In a series of tweets, Kejriwal said, “Modiji sounds so hollow now. People have stopped believing anything that he says. He has become a subject of ridicule internationally.”Modiji has cheated the entire nation. Neither a single penny of black money has been recovered nor has corruption come down. He has lost all credibility.”Prime Minister’s boring speech was heard patiently by the people in the hope that he will announce when can they withdraw their own money without restriction. In the end, they were disappointed.”Senior AAP leader Ashutosh also accused the prime minister of trying to “bribe” the people hit by the currency ban “by offering them sops” and termed his address as an “election speech”.”Modi’s speech was not about demonetization, but about election. He tried to bribe the people of India who are angry with him by giving them sops,” he said. Taking a dig at the prime minister’s address, Delhiminister Kapil Mishra said Modi sounded like “a doctor who has not understood his patient’s ailment”.Swaraj India chief Yogendra Yadav said the speech had no reference to the number of new currency notes printed or steps taken to curb black money. He described it as “below expectation”.”What happened to black money? How much black money (was) recovered? What are the future plans against black money? What about black money in politics?,” Yadav tweeted.

Many questions remained unanswered, disappointed with PM Modi’s speech: Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Slamming Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his “disappointing” address, Congress on Saturday wondered why he did not mention how many “lakhs of crores” of black money the government managed to wipe out through demonetization in the last 50 days.Congress Spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said demonetization has paralysed the economy but the Prime Minister in his address did not answer many crucial questions. “Mr Prime Minister, people wanted to know how many lakhs of crores of black money did you wipe out in the last 50 days? Why didn’t you speak about it,” he asked. Surjewala said “We are disappointed with PM’s speech as many questions were left unanswered. His decision paralyzed economy; country can’t run this way.”The Congress once again asked Modi to withdraw the restrictions imposed on withdrawals post demonetization. Surjewala said the “so-called cleansing drive took 125lives of innocent Indians and put crores of people in severe difficulties. But the Prime Minister did not uttter a single word for those who died.” He said the 50 days the Prime Minister had asked for were over but there was no announcement on when he will take back the restrictions on withdrawal of cash.”The entire country was listening with curiosity that the Prime Minister will lift the restrictions on withdrawal of their hard earned money from banks. But people will still have to reel under this economic anarchy. “The Prime Minister said it will take time to improve the banking system in the new year. It means he believes in hitting headlines and not giving deadlines,” the Congress spokesperson added.Coming down hard on the Prime Minister, Surjewala said demonetization has taken away the jobs, hit the farmers and traders and made life difficult for every section of the society but there was no word of relief for them in PM’s address. “Who benefited from demonetization. Only a handful of 50 people who are Modiji’s friend. This is why he said yesterday that the deposits of the people in the banks would be used for strengthening banking system and infrastructure.The Congress Spokesperson said National Food Security Act already has special focus on women and entitles them to receive “maternity benefit of not less than Rs 6,000 and that there was nothing new in PM’s announcement of the financial assistance for them”.

Jharkhand coal mine mishap: Five more bodies recovered, death toll climbs to 16

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the recovery of five more bodies on Saturday, the death toll climbed to 16 in the coal mine collapse at Lalmatia open cast coal mine of Eastern Coalfields Ltd (ECL), the worst such disaster in over a decade.R R Mishra, officiating CMD of ECL, a Coal India subsidiary told PTI, “We have recovered five more bodies today. We are carrying on the rescue operation in a systematic manner so that the situation does not aggravate as the debris is too much and it should not fall.”Danger zones have been declared around the place of incidents to restrict the entry of people there. Moreover, the district commissioner has also stationed police and CISF officials to restrict entry of people in the danger zone, Mishra said.”We have also called experts from outside to help us in the rescue operation. We have fully ensured that the rescue operations are done with proper safety measures. We have also come up with Standard Operating Procedures which would help us in proper operations so that there is no loss to lives,” Mishra added.Central Mine Planning and Design Institute (CMPDIL), the consultancy arm of Coal India Ltd, has deployed magneto meters along with imaging system for locating magnetic and conductive material up to a depth of 80 meters, the statement said.Mishra said the incident occurred at around 7.30 PM on Thursday when excavators were working there following which rescue operations was launched immediately.Senior officials of Director General of Mines Safety (DGMS) have arrived at the site and launched an inquiry.13 excavators and dump trucks which were swamped under the debris have been recovered.

Missionaries won’t be succesful in converting Hindus, because they don’t have strength: Mohan Bhagwat

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Raking up the issue of conversions, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said such attempts are unlikely to be successful in the country as the missionaries “do not have the strength”.Bhagwat pitched for Hindu unity and asked members of the community to come together irrespective of caste and language.”…after converting people to Christianity in the US, Europe, they (missionaries) are eyeing Asia. China calls itself secular, but will it allow itself to come under Christianity? No. Will Middle-East countries let it happen? No. They now think India is the place.”But they should keep it in mind, notwithstanding their strong push over 300 years, only six per cent of Indian population could be converted to Christianity. Because they do not have strength,” he said.The chief made the remarks while delivering valedictory address at Virat Hindu Sammelan, organised by Bharat Sevashram Sangh in Vansda in the district.Bhagwat sought to buttress his point by saying how two churches, one in the US and another in Birmingham in the UK, were converted into Ganesh temple and offices of Vishwa Hindu Parishad respectively, by a Hindu businessman in America.”This is the condition (of missionaries) in their own countries and they want to convert us. They cannot do it, they do not have that strength,” he added.Bhagwat asked Hindus to remember “who they are” and that their culture is “superior”.”Hindu community is in trouble. Which country are we living in? Our own country. This is our land, from the Himalayas (in the north) to the sea (in south). This is the land of our ancestors. Bharat Mata is mother of us all.”We have forgotten ourselves. We are all Hindus. Let our castes, languages we speak, regions we come from, gods we worship be different. Those who are sons of Bharat Mata, are Hindus. Hence, India is called Hindustan,” he said.Terming Hindu religion as one based on truth, Bhagwat said Hindus never tried to convert people pursuing other religions as they believe in co-existence.He urged people of all religions to “walk together” to make the world a better place and India a world leader.He reaffirmed the RSS stand that Hindus and non-Hindus living in “integrated India” have common ancestors who share the same DNA.Bhagwat urged the attendees to reach out to their “brothers”, to whom they have not gone for ages, keeping aside differences of caste, religion and language.”We should go to our brothers whom we have not gone to for ages. We did not go to them and hence these things (spread of other religions) are happening. We should go to them to share their pain, cooperate with them and perform our long-forgotten duty to make them aware of who they are, that we have common ancestors,” he added.

Maharashtra: Centre extends deadline for rabi crop insurance till Jan 10

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Union Government has extended the timeline for farmers to get enrolled in the rabi crop insurance scheme till January 10, Maharashtra agriculture minister Pandurang Fundkar said on Saturday.”The earlier deadline of registration for the crop insurance scheme for rabi season was December 31. It has been extended to January 10 so as to enable more farmers to be benefitted from the initiative,” said Fundkar.The insurance is being offered by National Insurance Company and their officials will be facilitating enrollment of farmers in the scheme, the minister said. Meanwhile, leader of opposition in legislative council, Dhananjay Munde in a statement today claimed that he had written a letter on December 28 to chief minister seeking some relaxation for rabi crop insurance registration.Munde who is unhappy with the 10-days extension, said, “I had demanded extra one month’s time for the farmers but that demand has not been met.”Munde in his letter contended that farmers do not have sufficient amount of money in hand due to demonetisation and hence they should get more time to get their crop insured.

BSNL launches unlimited local and STD calls at Rs 144

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Cashing in on the rollout by several telecom operators offering unlimited free call facility, Government run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd on Saturday joined the bandwagon with launch of a new Rs 144 plan for its customers offering similar features.The plan, which is valid for six months, would offer unlimited local and STD calls to any network for a period of one month and it would come with 300MB data, BSNL Chairman and Managing Director Anupam Srivastava told reporters.After handing over two new packs to customers, Srivastava said with the new pack, calls are absolutely free and would be available for both pre-paid and post-paid customers. The telecom service provider was also taking up several initiatives including launch of 4,400 WiFi hotspots across the country.”We have 4,400 WIFI hotspots launched country wide. I think in Mahabalipuram near Chennai has a similar WiFi hotspots. Our immediate strategy is to expand this. In next one year, we will be having around 40,000 WiFi Hotspots across the country,” he said.Besides the company had also obtained 2500 Mhz from Government of India for launching service in rural areas, he said, adding BSNL would unveil classic LTE (Long Term Evolution) spectrum in phased manner.

Modi speech: Farmers’ fitting reply to critics as rabi sowing up, claims PM; announces sops

New Delhi – In a bonanza to farmers post demonetisation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced that government will bear interest for 60 days on crop loans taken by farmers from district cooperative banks and primary societies for sowing operations this Rabi season.

In his national address on the eve of the New Year, Modi also announced that the 3 crore ‘Kisan Credit Cards’ would be converted to RuPay Card within three months to help farmers purchase various inputs anywhere. Nabard will be given an additional Rs 20,000 crore to finance district cooperative banks and societies.

Prime minister Narendra Modi. File photoPrime minister Narendra Modi. File photo

Prime minister Narendra Modi. File photo

“In the last few weeks, an impression was sought to be created that agriculture sector has been destroyed. Farmers themselves have given a fitting reply to those who were doing so. Rabi sowing is up by 6 per cent when compared to last year. Fertiliser offtake is up by 9 per cent during this period,” Modi said.

The government has taken care to ensure that farmers do not suffer for want of access of seeds, fertilisers and credits, he added.

“Now, we have taken some more decisions in the interest of farmers. Farmers who had taken loan for the Rabi crop from district cooperative central banks and primary societies will not have to pay interest on such loans for a period of 60 days,” the Prime Minister said.

Farmers who have paid interest during the last two months will get this amount back directly in their bank accounts, he said.

Arrangements are being made to provide farmers better access to loans from district cooperative banks and primary societies, Modi said.

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 21:55 IST

There is chance of Sasikala becoming CM: Subramanian Swamy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sasikala Natarajan becoming the AIADMK general secretary was the party’s internal matter and she could also become the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy said on Saturday. “It is purely an internal matter of the party. There is also a chance of her becoming the chief minister,” he told reporters here when asked about Sasikala’s appointment to the top post in AIADMK. On the criticism that Sasikala lacked the political ability for such a big post, Swamy shot back saying what capability did Sonia or Rahul Gandhi have when they took charge of the Congress. Swamy, who spent a week at an ayurveda centre here, said the verdict in the disproportionate assets case against late chief minister J Jayalalithaa and Sasikala was expected to be delivered by the Supreme Court next month.The case against Jayalalithaa and three others for allegedly amassing disproportionate wealth to the tune of Rs 66.65 crore during 1991-96 was filed on Swamy’s complaint. The BJP leader said with the changing political scenario in the state, the Tamil Nadu unit of the party required a new leadership as also new executive and general council members, adding that the party’s January 6-7 national executive meet could take a decision in this regard. Later, talking to reporters at the Chennai airport, Swamy said mediapersons did not ask questions when Sonia Gandhi took over as the Congress president.On demonetisation, he said the intention behind it was good and welcomed initiatives such as the BHIM app which he said will be accepted by the people. Swamy expressed confidence that the Supreme Court will give its nod to ‘jallikattu’ (a bull-taming sport) with some riders and the order would be delivered ahead of the coming Pongal festival.He blamed some “foreign-funded NGOs” for creating an alleged prejudice against the traditional sport and added that he too had argued in the apex court for allowing ‘jallikattu’ by putting forth “strong grounds”.To supervise the safe conduct of the event, a committee may be asked to monitor the sport, he said.

When Indians unite, their power is unparalleled: Full text of PM Modi’s New Year’s Eve Speech

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi today sent out a stern warning of tough action against the “dishonest” people even as he announced a slew of sops for senior citizens, farmers, rural housing, women and small entrepreneurs to soften the blow of demonetization.He also assured the honest people that the government will act as a friend to them so that their difficulties are eased.Among the sops announced in his address to the nation at the end of 50-day demonetisation period, Modi said senior citizens will get 8 per cent interest on deposits of upto Rs 7.5 lakh for 10 years and deposit of Rs 6000 into accounts of pregnant and lactating women in rural areas to meet medical expenses.For farmers, he announced that banks will not charge interest for 60 days on loans taken from district cooperative central bank and primary societies for rabi crop.Here’s his full speech:My fellow citizens, In a few hours, we will be ushering in the new year of 2017. 125 crore Indians will join the rest of the world, in welcoming it with new hope, new energy and new dreams.Since Diwali, our nation has been witness to a historic rite of purification. The patience, discipline, and resolve displayed by 125 crore Indians, will play a critical role in shaping the future of the nation for years to come. In God’s creation, humans are endowed with fundamental goodness.With time, the distortions of badness creep in. People feel suffocated in a bad environment, and struggle to come out of it. Corruption, black money, and counterfeit notes had become so rampant in India’s social fabric, that even honest people were brought to their knees.People were forced by circumstances, in defiance of their inherent goodness. It seemed at times, that the evils and corruptions of society, knowingly or un – knowingly, intentionally or un- intentionally, had become a part of our daily lives. Developments post-Diwali have shown, that crores of Indians were looking for an escape from this suffocation.We have, during the external aggressions, of 1962, 1965, 1971 and Kargil; witnessed the intrinsic strength of our citizens. Such collective energy and patriotism is under- standable, in the face of external threats.However, when crores of Indians unite to fight a war against internal evils, it is unparalleled.Indians have, with firm resolve and infinite patience, faced difficulties with a smile, re-defining the concept of sacrifice. We have lived these ideals. 125 crore Indians have shown, in their fortitude, the importance we place in truth and goodness. This has been written on the sands of time.Indians have displayed the strength of people power, utmost discipline, and the ability to discern the truth in a storm of disinformation. They have shown that resolute honesty, can defeat dishonesty.They have shown how much, even people trapped in poverty, are willing to do, to build a glorious India. The people, through persistence, sweat and toil, have demonstrated to the world, an unparalleled example of citizen sacrifice, for the brighter future of a nation. Usually, when people’s movements have arisen, the people and the government have been at loggerheads.It is historic, that both the people and the government are on the same side in this battle against evil. The Government is well aware, that in this period, you had to queue up, and face difficulty in withdrawing your own money. I received letters from many people. They have shared their pain and sorrow with me, but also emphasized their support. You have talked to me as one of your own. In this fight against corruption and black money, it is clear that you wish to walk shoulder to shoulder with us. For us in Government, this is a blessing. My effort is to take the banking system to normalcy as fast as possible in the new year. I have asked all concerned officers in the Government to focus their attention to this task. They have especially been told to proactively resolve the problems in rural and remote areas. Friends,There is no precedent globally, to what India has done. Nations similar to us do not have the amount of currency that we had. Over the last ten to twelve years, 500 and 1000 rupee currency notes were used less for legitimate transactions, and more for a parallel economy. The excess of cash was fuelling inflation and black-marketing. It was denying the poor, their due. Lack of cash causes difficulty, but excess of cash is even more troublesome. Our aim is to achieve a balance. Economists agree that when cash is outside the formal economy, it is a cause of worry.When it joins the mainstream, it is an opportunity for development. I am sure, if great sons of India like Jayaprakash Narayan, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Ram Manohar Lohia, and Kamaraj had been present today, they would have applauded the patience, discipline and resolve of our countrymen.In the past few weeks, there have been many gratifying instances – it would take weeks to list them.It is a healthy trend for any nation, when the people wish to join the mainstream abiding by the law, and helping the Government in serving the poor. Friends.How long will we overlook facts that stare us in the face? I wish to share some information with you, which will either make you laugh, or make you angry. According to information with the Government, there are only 24 lakh people in India who accept that their annual income is more than 10 lakh rupees. Can we digest this? Look at the big bungalows and big cars around you.If we look at any big city, it would have lakhs of people with annual income of more than 10 lakh. Do you not feel, that for the good of the country, this movement for honesty, needs to be further strengthened? In this fight against corruption and black money, it is natural to debate the fate of the dishonest. What punishment will they get? The Law will take its own course, with its full force. But the priority of the Government now is how to help the honest, protect them, and ease their difficulty.How can honesty gain more prestige? This Government is a friend of good people. And it aims to build an enabling environment for the dishonest to return to the path of goodness.It is also a bitter truth, that people have complaints of bad experiences at the hands of Government machinery, and some government officers.This reality cannot be wished away. No one can deny that Government officers have a greater responsibility than common citizens.Therefore, it is the responsibility of all of us in Government, at central, state and local levels, to protect the common man, help the honest, and isolate the dishonest. Friends, It is accepted the world over, that terrorism, Naxalism, Maoism, counterfeit currency trade, drug trade, human trafficking – all of these depend on black money.These evils have become a festering sore on society and Governments.Demonetization has dealt a severe blow to these trades.Today, youth who had turned to the wrong path, are returning to the mainstream in large numbers. If we remain vigilant, we can now save our children from returning to those evil ways of violence and cruelty. The fact that so much of the cash in circulation has been deposited in the banking system indicates the success of this mission.Events of the last few days indicate that escape routes for the dishonest have all been sealed. Technology has played a big role. The habitual offenders will be forced to abandon their misdeeds and join the mainstream.Friends, This also represents a golden opportunity for the country’s banking system. During this period, bank employees have worked day and night.Female employees too, worked till late hours as part of this mission.Post office staff, banking correspondents- all did exceptional work.Amid this herculean effort, some grave crimes by some officers in some banks have come to light. Some Government officers have also committed serious offences, and tried to take advantage of the situation. They will not be spared. At this historic juncture, I wish to make an appeal to the banks.History is witness that the Indian banking system has never received such a large amount of money, in such a short time.While respecting the autonomy of the banks, I appeal to them to move beyond their traditional priorities, and keep the poor, the lower middle class, and the middle class at the focus of their activities.India is celebrating the centenary of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay as Garib Kalyan Varsh. Banks should also not let this opportunity slip. They should take appropriate decisions in public interest promptly. When policies and programmes are made with clear objectives in mind, not only are beneficiaries empowered, but both short term, and long term benefits are achieved. Spending is carefully scrutinized, and chances of good results are maximized.The more the villages, the poor, the farmers, the dalits, the tribals, the marginalized, the oppressed, the deprived and women are empowered, and financially enabled to stand on their own feet, the stronger the country will become, and the faster will be the pace of development. Friends, to further the principle of Sabka Saath – Sabka Vikaas, on the eve of the new year, Government is bringing some new programmes for the people. Even so many years after independence, millions of poor do not have their own home. When black money increased in our economy, houses became out of reach of even the middle class. The Government has taken some major decisions to ensure homes for the poor, the neo middle class and the middle class. Two new middle income categories have been created under the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana in urban areas. Loans of up to 9 lakh rupees taken in 2017, will receive interest subvention of 4 per cent. Loans of up to 12 lakh rupees taken in 2017, will receive interest subvention of 3 per cent. The number of houses being built for the poor, under the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana in rural areas, is being increased by 33 per cent. In addition to this, another scheme is being put in place for the neo middle and middle class in rural areas. Loans of up to 2 lakh rupees taken in 2017, for new housing, or extension of housing in rural areas, will receive an interest subvention of 3 per cent. Friends in the last few weeks, an impression was sought to be created that the agriculture sector has been destroyed. Farmers themselves have given a fitting reply to those who were doing so. Rabi sowing is up by 6 per cent compared to last year. Fertilizer offtake is up by 9 per cent. During this period, the Government has taken care to ensure that farmers do not suffer for want of access to seeds, fertilisers and credit. Now, we have taken some more decisions in the interest of farmers. Farmers who have taken loans for the Rabi crop from District Cooperative Central Banks and Primary Societies, will not have to pay interest on such loans for a period of 60 days. Farmers who have paid interest during the last two months, will receive these amounts back, directly into their bank accounts. Arrangements are being made to provide farmers even better access to loans from cooperative banks and societies. NABARD created a fund of 21,000 crore rupees last month. Now, Government is adding 20,000 crore rupees more to this. The loss that NABARD suffers by giving loans to cooperative banks and societies at low interest rates, shall be borne by the Government of India. The Government has decided, that 3 crore farmers who have Kisan Credit Cards, will be given RuPay debit cards within three months. Kisan Credit Cards were launched in 1998, but so far, it was essential to go to a bank, to use them. Now, farmers will have RuPay Debit Cards, which they can use anywhere. Just as agriculture is vital for the economy, so are the medium and small scale enterprises also called the MSME sector. Government has taken some decisions in the interest of small and medium businesses, which will also boost employment.Government of India underwrites loans given by banks to small businesses through a trust. So far, loans were covered upto one crore rupees. This limit is now being enhanced to 2 crore rupees. Earlier the scheme only covered bank loans. Hereafter it will cover loans given by NBFCs as well. This decision will enable better access to credit for small shop-owners and small enterprises. Banks and NBFCs will not levy high interest on these loans, as Government of India is bearing the cost of underwriting them. Government has also asked banks to raise the credit limit for small industry from 20 per cent of turnover to 25 per cent.Banks have also been asked to increase working capital loans from 20 per cent of turnover to 30 per cent, for enterprises that transact digitally.Many people connected with this sector have made cash deposits in the last few weeks. Banks have been asked to take this into account when deciding on working capital. A few days back, Government announced a major tax relief for small businesses. Income of businesses with turnover of up to Rs 2 crores was calculated at 8% of the turnover. Now, for such businesses income from digital transactions will be calculated at 6%. This will effectively reduce their tax liability by 25%. Friends,The progress of the MUDRA Yojana has been very encouraging. Last year, nearly 3 and a half crore people have benefited from this. The Government now aims to double this, giving priority to Dalits, Tribals, Backward Classes and Women. A new scheme is being launched for pregnant women.We are introducing a nation-wide scheme for financial assistance to pregnant women. 6000 rupees will be transferred directly to the bank accounts of pregnant women who undergo institutional delivery and vaccinate their children. This scheme will help reduce the maternal mortality rate, in a big way. This will help ensure nutrition before and after delivery, and improve the health of mother and child. So far, pregnant women in 53 districts were being given financial assistance of 4000 rupees, under a pilot project. We are initiating a scheme for senior citizens. Banks often reduce their deposit rates, when they receive a large volume of money. This should not adversely impact senior citizens. Under the scheme, senior citizens will receive a fixed interest rate of 8 per cent for a period of 10 years, on deposits upto 7.5 lakh rupees. The interest will be paid monthly. Friends,Political parties, political leaders and electoral funding, figure prominently in any debate on corruption and black money.The time has now come that all political leaders and parties respect the feelings of the nation’s honest citizens, and understand the anger of the people. It is true that from time to time, political parties have made constructive efforts to improve the system. I urge all parties and leaders to move away from a “holier than thou approach,” to come together in prioritising transparency, and take firm steps to free politics of black money and corruption. In our country, people ranging from the common man to the President, have at some point or another, advocated simultaneous conduct of state and national elections.This is to break the endless cycle of elections, reduce election expenditure, and minimize pressure on the administrative machinery.The time has come for this to be seriously considered and debated. Positive change has always found space in our country.We can now see a positive momentum towards digital transactions in India.More and more people are transacting digitally.Yesterday, Government has launched a new, swadeshi platform for digital transactions – named BHIM after Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar.BHIM stands for Bharat Interface for Money. I call upon the youth, the trading community, and farmers to connect with BHIM as much as possible. Friends, the developments, decisions, and policies that were put in place after Diwali, will of course be evaluated by economists. It will be good if social scientists also do the same.As a nation, India’s villages, poor, farmers, youth, educated and uneducated men and women, have all displayed infinite patience and people power. In a short time, the new year of 2017 will begin. Exactly 100 years ago, in 1917, Mahatma Gandhi initiated a Satyagraha in Champaran. Now, a century later, we witness that the people of India continue to share that feeling towards truth and goodness.Today, Mahatma Gandhi is not among us. But the path towards truth that he showed us, is still most appropriate. As we begin the centenary year of the Satyagraha, let us recall the Mahatma and resolve to follow his message of truth and goodness.We cannot allow this fight against black money and corruption to stop or slow down. Firmness in truth is a guarantee for success. A country of 125 crore, with 65 per cent below the age of 35, having the means, the resources, and the capability, has no reason to stay behind. The new dawn of the New Year, comes with the resolve of new success.Let us all come together, to move ahead overcoming obstacles and constraints. Happy New Year Jai Hind !!!

When even Sushma Swaraj couldn’t help an individual

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Saturday expressed inability in helping a British woman charity worker of Iranian origin who has been sentenced to one year imprisonment by a court in Odisha on charges of causing death of a tribal child due to negligence.Swaraj had sought a report from Odisha government on the case involving 28-year-old Narges K Ashtari.She said she cannot help the woman due to the court order. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif earlier this week has said that Iran will use all its capacity to secure Ashtari’s release. “I have received the report from Government of Odisha. The trial court has convicted Narges K Ashtari to one year imprisonment and Rs 3,00,000/- fine.”She has filed an appeal before Sessions Court which is pending. The appellate court has released her on bail pending appeal. This is a judicial order and the matter is sub judice.Therefore, I am unable to help in this case @BorisJohnson @JZarif,” Swaraj said in a series of tweets. She also tagged Zarif as well as British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson in her tweets. Ashtari, who runs an orphanage through her NGO Prishan Foundation in Rayagada district of Odisha, was found guilty by a court in the case relating to causing death to a child due to negligence. She faced the charges after the disappearance of the child in 2014, who is feared drowned.An online petition by social activists has recently sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention in seeking justice for Ashtari saying she has dedicated her life in serving orphan and abandoned children around the world. Earlier this week, the Iranian Foreign Minister had said “The Foreign Ministry considers it its duty to protect Iranian nationals residing abroad, including students, elites and businessmen… and will use all its capacity to support them and restore their rights.”He said the Iranian Foreign Ministry and Iran’s embassy in New Delhi are following up on her case though diplomatic, consular and legal channels. Born in Isfahan, central Iran, Ashtari’s parents moved to the UK when she was four years old.

Modi speech: PM thanks Indians for standing by demonetisation, rewards them with sops

Amid the celebrations to mark the beginning of a new year, what caught the fancy of the people in different parts of the country and kept them glued to their television sets and radios was Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s address to the nation.

The prime minister’s speech comes 52 days after his announcement of demonetisation, made in a similar address to the nation on 8 November.

Screenshot of PM Modi during his New Year's Eve addressScreenshot of PM Modi during his New Year's Eve address

Screenshot of PM Modi during his New Year’s Eve address

On Saturday evening, Modi thanked 1.25 billion Indians for the resilience they showed in bearing the problems that came with his demonetisation drive, and doing so with much dignity and patience.

Lauding Indians with a couplet “Kuch baat hai ki hasti mitti nahi hamari“, Prime Minister Modi said, “People of India have lived and proved this adage. What India has done will find no parallel in the world.”

Repeatedly thanking and applauding Indians for supporting the demonetisation decision, calling it a “shuddhi yagna”, Modi said that the evils of corruption and black money compelled even honest people to bend in despair, and made him feel “suffocated”. Modi said that these people wanted relief from such suffocation.

Dwelling more upon the resilience of the people, Modi said that on numerous instances — be during the Indo-China war or the Kargil war with Pakistan — people of India have displayed immense sacrifice and resilience. He added that they were all fights with outsiders, but after demonetisation, people were fighting to kill their inner evil, which was comparatively more difficult.

Talking about how people reacted positively to demonetisation, Modi said that a time will come when the country’s intelligentsia will discuss the fight shown by people in defeating their inner demons and deformities. He said the resilience shown by the people in the last 50 days was an epitome of sacrifice to defeat what was wrong.

“The events of 8 November told us how 1.25 crore Indians took the trouble and made the efforts to prove that honesty and virtuosity are most important,” Prime Minister added.

Accepting the pain that people have to face because of demonetisation, Modi said, “I know that to withdraw your own money, you had to bear pain. People shared their pain with me. But I realised that you considered me your own. You showed that you don’t want to be left behind in this fight against corruption.”

He added that the government’s top priority will now be to normalise the functioning of the banking system. Modi said that there will be renewed focus on every aspect of the sector, and especially on making things normal in rural areas.

Stressing on the fact that tax evasion has now become all-pervasive in the country, Modi said that as per official records, only 24 lakh people claim to be earning more than Rs 10 lakh, which is unbelievable given the opulence that is on display in most of the cities.

Sending a clear message to the “corrupt and dishonest” citizens of the country, Modi said that is very obvious now as to what will happen to them. “The law will take its own course. But government’s priority will be to ensure how the honest can be helped and be supported,” he said.

While lauding the efforts of the banking sector, who “worked really hard” in the last 52 days, he also made it amply clear that the people, including government officials, who have indulged in fraudulent practices, will not be spared.

Apart from stressing on demonetisation warning wrong doers, and applauding the honest, Modi also announced a slew of reforms and schemes to benefit the rural poor. Some of them were: An eight percent interest rate will be guaranteed on deposits of upto Rs 7.5 lakh for 10 years for senior citizens; interest will be paid monthly. Modi also announced a 4 percent interest rate cut against home loans of up to Rs 9 lakhs, and 3 percent against home loans upto Rs 12 lakhs for the year 2017.

While there will be detailed analysis of the reforms, the prime minister has sent out a clear message in his New Year’s Eve address: While the honest can expect ache din, it will surely be bure din (tough times) for the corrupt.

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 21:30 IST

Modi speech full text: Indians showed resolute honesty can defeat dishonesty

Following is the full text of Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s address to the nation on the eve of New Year 2017:

My fellow citizens,

In a few hours, we will be ushering in the new year of 2017. 125 crore Indians will join the rest of the world, in welcoming it with new hope, new energy and new dreams.

Since Diwali, our nation has been witness to a historic rite of purification. The patience, discipline, and resolve displayed by 125 crore Indians, will play a critical role in shaping the future of the nation for years to come.

In God’s creation, humans are endowed with fundamental goodness.

Screenshot of PM Modi during his New Year's Eve addressScreenshot of PM Modi during his New Year's Eve address

Screenshot of PM Modi during his New Year’s Eve address

With time, the distortions of badness creep in. People feel suffocated in a bad environment, and struggle to come out of it. Corruption, black money, and counterfeit notes had become so rampant in India’s social fabric, that even honest people were brought to their knees.

People were forced by circumstances, in defiance of their inherent goodness. It seemed at times, that the evils and corruptions of society, knowingly or unknowingly, intentionally or unintentionally, had become a part of our daily lives. Developments post-Diwali have shown, that crores of Indians were looking for an escape from this suffocation.

We have, during the external aggressions, of 1962, 1965, 1971 and Kargil; witnessed the intrinsic strength of our citizens. Such collective energy and patriotism is understandable, in the face of external threats. However, when crores of Indians unite to fight a war against internal evils, it is unparalleled.

Indians have, with firm resolve and infinite patience, faced difficulties with a smile, re-defining the concept of sacrifice. We have lived these ideals. 125 crore Indians have shown, in their fortitude, the importance we place in truth and goodness. This has been written on the sands of time.

Indians have displayed the strength of people power, utmost discipline, and the ability to discern the truth in a storm of disinformation. They have shown that resolute honesty, can defeat dishonesty.

They have shown how much, even people trapped in poverty, are willing to do, to build a glorious India. The people, through persistence, sweat and toil, have demonstrated to the world, an unparalleled example of citizen sacrifice, for the brighter future of a nation.

Usually, when people’s movements have arisen, the people and the government have been at loggerheads.

It is historic, that both the people and the government are on the same side in this battle against evil. The Government is well aware, that in this period, you had to queue up, and face difficulty in withdrawing your own money. I received letters from many people. They have shared their pain and sorrow with me, but also emphasized their support. You have talked to me as one of your own. In this fight against corruption and black money, it is clear that you wish to walk shoulder to shoulder with us. For us in Government, this is a blessing.

My effort is to take the banking system to normalcy as fast as possible in the new year. I have asked all concerned officers in the Government to focus their attention to this task. They have especially been told to proactively resolve the problems in rural and remote areas.

Friends,

There is no precedent globally, to what India has done. Nations similar to us do not have the amount of currency that we had. Over the last ten to twelve years, 500 and 1000 rupee currency notes were used less for legitimate transactions, and more for a parallel economy. The excess of cash was fuelling inflation and black-marketing. It was denying the poor, their due. Lack of cash causes difficulty, but excess of cash is even more troublesome. Our aim is to achieve a balance. Economists agree that when cash is outside the formal economy, it is a cause of worry. When it joins the mainstream, it is an opportunity for development.

I am sure, if great sons of India like Jayaprakash Narayan, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Ram Manohar Lohia, and Kamaraj had been present today, they would have applauded the patience, discipline and resolve of our countrymen.

In the past few weeks, there have been many gratifying instances – it would take weeks to list them.

It is a healthy trend for any nation, when the people wish to join the mainstream abiding by the law, and helping the Government in serving the poor.

Friends,

How long will we overlook facts that stare us in the face? I wish to share some information with you, which will either make you laugh, or make you angry. According to information with the Government, there are only 24 lakh people in India who accept that their annual income is more than 10 lakh rupees. Can we digest this? Look at the big bungalows and big cars around you.

If we look at any big city, it would have lakhs of people with annual income of more than 10 lakh. Do you not feel, that for the good of the country, this movement for honesty, needs to be further strengthened?

In this fight against corruption and black money, it is natural to debate the fate of the dishonest. What punishment will they get? The Law will take its own course, with its full force. But the priority of the Government now is how to help the honest, protect them, and ease their difficulty.How can honesty gain more prestige?

This Government is a friend of good people. And it aims to build an enabling environment for the dishonest to return to the path of goodness.

It is also a bitter truth, that people have complaints of bad experiences at the hands of Government machinery, and some government officers.

This reality cannot be wished away. No one can deny that Government officers have a greater responsibility than common citizens.

Therefore, it is the responsibility of all of us in Government, at central, state and local levels, to protect the common man, help the honest, and isolate the dishonest.

Friends, It is accepted the world over, that terrorism, Naxalism, Maoism, counterfeit currency trade, drug trade, human trafficking – all of these depend on black money.

These evils have become a festering sore on society and Governments.

Demonetistion has dealt a severe blow to these trades.

Today, youth who had turned to the wrong path, are returning to the mainstream in large numbers. If we remain vigilant, we can now save our children from returning to those evil ways of violence and cruelty. The fact that so much of the cash in circulation has been deposited in the banking system indicates the success of this mission.

Events of the last few days indicate that escape routes for the dishonest have all been sealed. Technology has played a big role. The habitual offenders will be forced to abandon their misdeeds and join the mainstream.

Friends, This also represents a golden opportunity for the country’s banking system. During this period, bank employees have worked day and night.

Female employees too, worked till late hours as part of this mission.

Post office staff, banking correspondents- all did exceptional work.

Amid this herculean effort, some grave crimes by some officers in some banks have come to light. Some Government officers have also committed serious offences, and tried to take advantage of the situation. They will not be spared.

At this historic juncture, I wish to make an appeal to the banks.

History is witness that the Indian banking system has never received such a large amount of money, in such a short time.

While respecting the autonomy of the banks, I appeal to them to move beyond their traditional priorities, and keep the poor, the lower middle class, and the middle class at the focus of their activities.

India is celebrating the centenary of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay as Garib Kalyan Varsh. Banks should also not let this opportunity slip. They should take appropriate decisions in public interest promptly.

When policies and programmes are made with clear objectives in mind, not only are beneficiaries empowered, but both short term, and long term benefits are achieved. Spending is carefully scrutinized, and chances of good results are maximized.

The more the villages, the poor, the farmers, the dalits, the tribals, the marginalized, the oppressed, the deprived and women are empowered, and financially enabled to stand on their own feet, the stronger the country will become, and the faster will be the pace of development.

Friends, to further the principle of Sabka Saath – Sabka Vikaas, on the eve of the new year, Government is bringing some new programmes for the people.

Even so many years after independence, millions of poor do not have their own home. When black money increased in our economy, houses became out of reach of even the middle class. The Government has taken some major decisions to ensure homes for the poor, the neo middle class and the middle class.

Two new middle income categories have been created under the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana in urban areas. Loans of up to 9 lakh rupees taken in 2017, will receive interest subvention of 4 per cent. Loans of up to 12 lakh rupees taken in 2017, will receive interest subvention of 3 per cent.

The number of houses being built for the poor, under the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana in rural areas, is being increased by 33 per cent.

In addition to this, another scheme is being put in place for the neo middle and middle class in rural areas. Loans of up to 2 lakh rupees taken in 2017, for new housing, or extension of housing in rural areas, will receive an interest subvention of 3 per cent.

Friends in the last few weeks, an impression was sought to be created that the agriculture sector has been destroyed. Farmers themselves have given a fitting reply to those who were doing so. Rabi sowing is up by 6 per cent compared to last year. Fertilizer offtake is up by 9 per cent. During this period, the Government has taken care to ensure that farmers do not suffer for want of access to seeds, fertilisers and credit. Now, we have taken some more decisions in the interest of farmers.

Farmers who have taken loans for the Rabi crop from District Cooperative Central Banks and Primary Societies, will not have to pay interest on such loans for a period of 60 days. Farmers who have paid interest during the last two months, will receive these amounts back, directly into their bank accounts.

Arrangements are being made to provide farmers even better access to loans from cooperative banks and societies. NABARD created a fund of 21,000 crore rupees last month. Now, Government is adding 20,000 crore rupees more to this. The loss that NABARD suffers by giving loans to cooperative banks and societies at low interest rates, shall be borne by the Government of India.

The Government has decided, that 3 crore farmers who have Kisan Credit Cards, will be given RuPay debit cards within three months. Kisan Credit Cards were launched in 1998, but so far, it was essential to go to a bank, to use them. Now, farmers will have RuPay Debit Cards, which they can use anywhere.

Just as agriculture is vital for the economy, so are the medium and small scale enterprises also called the MSME sector. Government has taken some decisions in the interest of small and medium businesses, which will also boost employment.

Government of India underwrites loans given by banks to small businesses through a trust. So far, loans were covered upto one crore rupees. This limit is now being enhanced to 2 crore rupees. Earlier the scheme only covered bank loans. Hereafter it will cover loans given by NBFCs as well. This decision will enable better access to credit for small shop-owners and small enterprises. Banks and NBFCs will not levy high interest on these loans, as Government of India is bearing the cost of underwriting them.

Government has also asked banks to raise the credit limit for small industry from 20 per cent of turnover to 25 percent.

Banks have also been asked to increase working capital loans from 20 per cent of turnover to 30 per cent, for enterprises that transact digitally.
Many people connected with this sector have made cash deposits in the last few weeks. Banks have been asked to take this into account when deciding on working capital.

A few days back, Government announced a major tax relief for small businesses. Income of businesses with turnover of up to Rs 2 crores was calculated at 8% of the turnover. Now, for such businesses income from digital transactions will be calculated at 6%. This will effectively reduce their tax liability by 25%.

Friends,

The progress of the MUDRA Yojana has been very encouraging. Last year, nearly 3 and a half crore people have benefited from this. The Government now aims to double this, giving priority to Dalits, Tribals, Backward Classes and Women. A new scheme is being launched for pregnant women.
We are introducing a nation-wide scheme for financial assistance to pregnant women. 6000 rupees will be transferred directly to the bank accounts of pregnant women who undergo institutional delivery and vaccinate their children. This scheme will help reduce the maternal mortality rate, in a big way. This will help ensure nutrition before and after delivery, and improve the health of mother and child. So far, pregnant women in 53 districts were being given financial assistance of 4000 rupees, under a pilot project.

We are initiating a scheme for senior citizens. Banks often reduce their deposit rates, when they receive a large volume of money. This should not adversely impact senior citizens. Under the scheme, senior citizens will receive a fixed interest rate of 8 per cent for a period of 10 years, on deposits upto 7.5 lakh rupees. The interest will be paid monthly.

Friends,

Political parties, political leaders and electoral funding, figure prominently in any debate on corruption and black money.

The time has now come that all political leaders and parties respect the feelings of the nation’s honest citizens, and understand the anger of the people.

It is true that from time to time, political parties have made constructive efforts to improve the system.

I urge all parties and leaders to move away from a “holier than thou approach,” to come together in prioritising transparency, and take firm steps to free politics of black money and corruption.

In our country, people ranging from the common man to the President, have at some point or another, advocated simultaneous conduct of state and national elections.

This is to break the endless cycle of elections, reduce election expenditure, and minimize pressure on the administrative machinery.

The time has come for this to be seriously considered and debated.

Positive change has always found space in our country.

We can now see a positive momentum towards digital transactions in India.

More and more people are transacting digitally.

Yesterday, Government has launched a new, swadeshi platform for digital transactions – named BHIM after Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar.

BHIM stands for Bharat Interface for Money. I call upon the youth, the trading community, and farmers to connect with BHIM as much as possible. Friends, the developments, decisions, and policies that were put in place after Diwali, will of course be evaluated by economists.

It will be good if social scientists also do the same.

As a nation, India’s villages, poor, farmers, youth, educated and uneducated men and women, have all displayed infinite patience and people power. In a short time, the new year of 2017 will begin. Exactly 100 years ago, in 1917, Mahatma Gandhi initiated a Satyagraha in Champaran. Now, a century later, we witness that the people of India continue to share that feeling towards truth and goodness.

Today, Mahatma Gandhi is not among us. But the path towards truth that he showed us, is still most appropriate. As we begin the centenary year of the Satyagraha, let us recall the Mahatma and resolve to follow his message of truth and goodness.

We cannot allow this fight against black money and corruption to stop or slow down. Firmness in truth is a guarantee for success. A country of 125 crore, with 65 per cent below the age of 35, having the means, the resources, and the capability, has no reason to stay behind.

The new dawn of the New Year, comes with the resolve of new success.

Let us all come together, to move ahead overcoming obstacles and constraints.

Happy New Year

Jai Hind !!!

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 21:28 IST

From sops for senior citizens to affordable housing schemes: Top announcements by PM Modi on New Year’s Eve

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Addressing the nation on New Year’s Eve on the impact of demonetisztion and the roadmap ahead for the economy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said India has gone through a massive cleansing process and purification drive (Shuddhi Yatra). In a 43-minute-long address to the nation, he said the citizens of the country were desperate to break free of corruption, but had never been given a chance to do so earlier, and had in fact gotten used to the idea of offering extra money to get their jobs done.Prime Minister Modi said India has set a new example for the world through this 50-day-long demonetisation exercise, adding that their commitment and discipline to tackle the cash crunch would be a living example for generations to come. ‘This is the first instance in India’s history when the government and the people have fought shoulder to shoulder. I got thousands of letters from the people who shared their pain, but they reaffirmed their resolve to stick with the process to root out corruption and black money,’ he said.He further stated that “125 crore Indians have proved that they are willing to wait in line at banks, but do not wish to be even one step behind in the drive against corruption.” He said that what would me most surprising to a majority of the citizens would be that, “Just 24 lakh Indians had admitted to having an income of more than Rs.10 lakhs,’, which was indicative of the very high level of tax eva sion being perpetrated by those not abiding by the law. Expressing confidence that the New Year would see lesser queues outside banks and things returning to normal, Prime Minister Modi said, ‘Banks have never before seen this sort of influx of cash’, and he would like to see personnel of these institutions focusing on helping the middle class and the poor.Here are the top highlights of speech: 8% interest rate will be guaranteed on deposits of up to Rs 7.5 lakh for 10 years for senior citizens; interest will be paid monthlyRs 6,000 to be put into accounts of pregnant women in 650 districts for vaccination and other medical useTwo new schemes under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana to provide 4% interest waiver on loan of up to Rs 9 lakh and of 3% on loan up to Rs 12 lakh.Banks have been asked to raise cash credit limit to small business to 25% from 20%Government to stand guarantee for loans up to Rs 2 crore from current Rs 1 crore, to small businesses3% interest waiver on loan up to Rs 2 lakh for construction of houses in rural India.Government to pay interest for 60 days on loans taken by farmers for rabi season from district cooperative banks and primary societies

TMC MP Tapas Paul’s bail denied, sent to 3-day CBI custody

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A special court here today rejected the bail plea of Trinamool Congress MP Tapas Paul, arrested for his alleged involvement in Rose Valley Chit Fund scam, and sent him to three-day CBI custody.Paul was produced in the court of Special CJM, CBI, P K Mishra.Against it plea for a five-day remand of Paul, the court allowed CBI to take him into custody for three days. The cine star-turned politician was one of the directors of the tainted chit fund group that allegedly duped investors in Odisha, West Bengal and some other states.Paul is also accused of promoting the company and “misleading” people to deposit money in the firm. He was also charged with giving senior posts to his family members in the company, a senior CBI official said.In its charge sheet submitted in the court on January 7, CBI had accused the ponzi firm of duping investors of Rs 17,000 crore, of which Rs 450 crore is from Odisha alone. The company was active in Odisha and had 28 branches in the state.Paul was brought from Kolkata in the morning and taken to the CBI state headquarters. From there, he was sent to the Capital Hospital for medical examination before being produced in the court.CBI sources said a special investigation team led by DIG N K Singh, CBI Superintendent of Police, Bhubaneswar, Rajeev Ranjan and investigating officer will interrogate Paul.

Modi speech: Here is a list of all schemes announced by the PM

Modi speech: Here is a list of all schemes announced by the PM

By

New Delhi – Following is the list of sops that Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced during his speech on the eve of the New Year.

1) For the poor: Two new schemes under PM Awaas Yojna. Home loans for poor and middle class people up to Rs 9 lakh will get 4 percent exemption on interest and 3 percent for up to Rs 12 lakh loans.

Prime minister Narendra Modi. File photoPrime minister Narendra Modi. File photo

Prime minister Narendra Modi. File photo

2) For farmers: Sixty days interest waiver for farm loans taken from from district co-operative banks and co-operative societies.

3) For senior citizens: 8 percent interest up to Rs 7.5 lakh deposit by senior citizens in banks.

4) For small businesses: Credit guarantee for micro small and medium enterprises to be raised to Rs 2 crore from current Rs 1 crore.

5) For women: Pregnant women across India will be given Rs 6,000 in their bank accounts to take care of initial medical needs.

6) For farmers: The government will convert 3 crore Kisan Credit cards to RUpay Credit cards.

7) For small businesses: Banks have been asked to raise cash credit limit for small businesses to 25 percent from 20 percent.

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 21:05 IST

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Modi’s speech a balm for demonetisation pain, PM doles out sops for weaker sections

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced interest rate subsidy for housing of the poor and also waived off interest rate for farmers, in an effort to address the pain endured by the weaker sections of the society following his demonetisation decision. However, Modi did not provide any clarity on the note ban exercise or its impact on the economy.

Narendra Modi gestures as he addresses the nation on New Year's Eve, PTINarendra Modi gestures as he addresses the nation on New Year's Eve, PTI

Narendra Modi gestures as he addresses the nation on New Year’s Eve, PTI

In a televised address on Saturday evening, Modi praised the spirit shown by Indians and their sacrifice in fighting black money. “The problems which the people have faced for the betterment of the country is an example in itself,” Modi said, in the speech aired all over the country.

The demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes from 9 Novmeber — as much as 86 percent of currency in circulation — created a cash crunch in the country, as the government and RBI were not ready with the replacement currency.

Even after 51 days, banks and ATMs are still not replenished with enough cash to meet the demand from the customers. The non-availability of cash in hand has resulted in a slump in the economy, as scores of informal sector jobs have been lost and consumption declined.

The sops announced on New Year’s Eve may come in this context.

In an effort to balance out the pain for the poor, who have been the worst-hit, the prime minister announced two new housing schemes. According to the first scheme, for home loans up to Rs 9 lakh in urban areas, an interest rate subsidy of 4 percent will be given, and for loans up to Rs 12 lakh, the subsidy will be 3 percent.

Secondly, for the rural poor, Modi announced a 3 percent interest subvention for loans up to Rs 2 lakh.

Apart from this, for farmers, the government will bear a 60-day interest for loans taken from primary credit societies and district cooperative banks.

The third scheme is the increase in the credit guarantee for the small traders to Rs 2 crore from Rs 1 crore. The note ban has broken the MSMEs as the sector has witnessed a decline in business post the demonetisation announcement. The increase in the credit guarantee is an effort to address their pain.

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 20:56 IST

He didn’t say Mitron once, he has unfriended the nation: Twitter reacts to PM Modi’s speech

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi set out a stern warning of tough action against the “dishonest” people even as he announced a slew of sops for senior citizens, farmers, rural housing, women and small entrepreneurs to soften the blow of demonetisation. He also assuaged the honest people that the government will act as a friend to them so that their difficulties are eased. Among the sops announced in his address to the nation at the end of 50-day demonetisation period, Modi said senior citizens will get 8 per cent interest on deposits of upto Rs 7.5 lakh for 10 years and deposit of Rs 6000 into accounts of pregnant and lactating women in rural areas to meet medical expenses.For farmers, he announced that banks will not charge interest for 60 days on loans taken from district cooperative central bank and primary societies for rabi crop. For construction or expansion of a rural house, 3 per cent interest will be waived on loan of upto Rs 2 lakh. Announcing two new schemes under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, he said 4 per cent interest subvention on loans upto Rs 9 lakh and 3 per cent on loan upto Rs 12 lakh.”The law will take its course with full force. The government will help the honest and protect them and see their difficulties are eased. How honest will gain from the government. This government is a friend of good people and wants to build on the good environment for the people to return to goodness,” he said.Perhaps the most surprising bit was PM’s refusal to say the word Mitron. Here’s how Twitter reacted to his speech:

Modi speech: Great expectations not belied but PM backs off from sharing details

It was Plato and Socrates more than Mark Anthony.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had this brilliant end of the year opportunity and he chose the sober road rather than raise the nation’s BP with shrill rhetoric.

It was more a lesson delivered than a soul-stirring speech.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTIPrime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

He did not get down and dirty and give us the brawl we wanted, the marching of the corrupt went missing. The script was far too mature and adult and cerebral to excite.

That is what his detractors will pick on.

As the sun slipped down for the last time in 2016 the tryst with India notwithstanding, a whole nation was more than just mad keen to know what he would say. This was the biggest show of the year.

But, in a lighter vein, Modi forgot to wish the nation a happy new year.

What magic did they expect at this fluid stage? Just because it was scheduled for new year’s eve does not give it a special dimension. Also, raising the pre-speech media hype was unfair and uncharitable.

Nothing changes tomorrow. People will live and die just like any other day. Consequently, to presume that Modi would give a road map with milestones was a bit much. He iterated the efforts of the past fifty days and heaped spoonfuls of praise on the public for joining in the battle.

Especially in assuaging the level of discomfort being admirably tolerated by his 1.2 billion mitrons.

He was unflappable. Chillingly blunt and so even-keeled that one wasn’t sure if it was the great orator or a subdued victor who has broken the back of corruption and is humble in that grasp on the laurel wreath.

Dropping the interest on low-cost housing was the first arrow to leave the quiver after the first twenty minutes of liquid sentiment.

We waited for more arrows and the praise for farmers came on the heels of informing us sans any date that the banks would get back to normal soon. How soon was left an open gate.

His new schemes were rural and based largely on reducing loan interests and giving the rural sector a boost with a 60-day payment vacation.

Modi segued from the praise phase into the rural phase with a call to co-operatives to ease their interest level and in the next 90 days three crore farmers would have the Kisan card changed to the Rupay card to make it easier for them to engage in transactions.

Several of the small scale industries would be given relief and those small businessmen would benefit loans on lesser interest.

If you add the several initiatives they come up to quite a bit. Women upliftment, maternity health schemes, senior citizens, all were given an honorable mention, each section of society being gently disarmed with gratitude and courtesy.

It was a great way to lay the groundwork for something more tangible after multiple references to marching ‘together’ and acknowledging the public agony for the past two months.

There was no glee, none of that public rally mocking undertone the Modi has begun to love so much.
Way ahead of the game without the theatrics he could have taken demonetization by the scruff of its neck and shaken the demon out of it.

It may have been a risk but an Act in which the monologue that covered the catching of the big fish, the bringing in of money from abroad, cleansing the corruption in the bureaucracy and the government, in politics and its nexus with the underworld, something for us to say, yes, the schemes are great and should have been there anyway, but what about telling us what tomorrow brings.

He set off on that angle with the announcement that only 2.4 million Indians earn 10 lakh plus a year and we thought okay, here it comes, the harsh stuff. But it did not. He warned bankers and officials indeed but non-specifically.

He could have shared with us why the RBI is being cagey and not transparent.

Shared with the people at least how exactly these lakhs of crores (different figures depending on who you are reading) have changed the fiscal landscape and what percentage of the underground, parallel economy has been wrecked.

This is it. We do not know. The media flings figures with dozens of zeros in them and yet nobody has told us in specific who is hurt, how many of the bad guys have fallen and has their nefarious system collapsed.

At the end of all this we want something to justify the long hours in the queue and the ongoing discomfort. And this was the missing vital element.

One Lodha, one lawyer called Tandon raided or placed in custody do not a summer make. These guys should have been caught anyway, not because of demonetisation but because they should have been on the radar of the authorities period.

Why were these income tax raids and all these sleuths not playing pink panther with the same gusto before 8 November.

Modi should have used today to come out swinging from his corner and telling the people of India that the sacrifice they made and are still making has begun to pay off.

And if he could tell them step by simple step how the exercise is paying off he could also have shared some of the dirt.

I think the figures are now becoming mythical and have no impact. Perhaps Modi felt the same way and decided to go for concrete steps he is taking rather than offer instant sops.

The abrupt ending and the sudden goodbye came as a surprise… we were looking for more.

But that is our problem, not his.

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 20:49 IST

Lt Gen Rawat takes over as Army chief, Air Marshal Dhanoa takes charge as IAF chief

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Lt Gen Bipin Rawat on Saturday took over as the 27th chief of the 1.3 million strong Indian Army succeeding Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag, who retired after 42 years of service.Air Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa also took charge as the 25th Air Force Chief replacing Anup Raha.Gen Rawat superseded two senior most Lt Generals, Praveen Bakshi and P M Hariz.Lt Gen Bakshi, who heads the Kolkata-headquartered Eastern Command, announced “full support” to the new chief and told theatre officers through video conferencing he will continue to lead with “full professional sincerity as hither-to-fore”.”I convey my best wishes and full support of Eastern Command to Gen Bipin Rawat on having taken over as the Chief of Army Staff,” he said.Earlier, there was speculation that Lt Gen Bakshi may resign or take premature retirement. He had also met Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar recently.He requested that speculation and trolling in media and social media should stop and everyone should focus on contributing their best to the betterment of the army and the nation.The Eastern Commander called the new Army chief to congratulate him on taking over the reins of the army.Speculation is rife that Lt Gen Bakshi may be given the new post of Chief of Defence Staff pertaining which Parrikar will meet Prime Minster Narendra Modi next month.Sources, however, have indicated that no such development will take place.Gen Suhag, who superannuated today, said army is prepared to meet any challenge as he thanked the government for “providing a free hand” and implementing the One Rank One Pension scheme.He said that infiltration bids had increased during the year and the number of terrorists killed was nearly double the previous year.The General said the army focused on operational preparedness during his tenure.Suhag said that when he had taken over he had asserted the response of the army to any action against our interest would be immediate, adequate and intense. “Indian Army has done that in the last two-and-a-half years,” he said.Later at noon, he handed over the charge to Rawat, who was commissioned in the Fifth Battalion of the Eleven Gorkha Rifles in December 1978 from IMA, Dehradun. He was awarded the ‘Sword of Honour’ at the academy.Earlier in the day, Gen Suhag and Air Chief Marshal Raha paid tributes at Amar Jawan Jyoti and inspected the guard of honour.The new IAF chief, Air Marshal Dhanoa, had developed the country’s aerial targeting philosophy against potential adversaries and transformed the concept of air operations of the air force into contemporary war fighting practices.He has mainly flown Kiran and MiG-21 aircraft though he has the experience of flying the entire spectrum of fighter aircraft from Jaguar to state-of-the-art MiG-29 and Su-30 MKI.The Air Marshal has many feathers in his hat. As the commanding officer of a frontline ground attack fighter squadron, he led the IAF punch during the “Limited War” against Pakistan to drive the enemy out of their “dug in” defences in the icy heights of Kargil region.During the conflict, under his leadership and supervision, the squadron devised unique and innovative methods of bombing at night at altitudes never before attempted in the history of air warfare, the IAF said.Prior to the attack, the squadron had been adjudged as the best fighter squadron of western Air Command for its high degree of professionalism and peace-time training. After the conflict, it emerged as the most decorated IAF unit of Kargil War.He also holds the highest flying instructional category in the IAF and was handpicked to establish the “IAF Training Team” abroad.Gen Rawat has vast experience in high altitude warfare and counter-insurgency operations.He commanded an infantry battalion, along the Line of Actual Control in the Eastern Sector, a Rashtriya Rifles Sector and an Infantry Division in the Kashmir Valley, a Corps in the Eastern theatre and the Southern Command.He has tenanted instructional appointments at Indian Military Academy and at Army War College, Mhow.Gen Rawat has held important staff appointments at Directorate General of Military Operations and Military Secretary’s Branch at Army HQ.He has also been Major General General Staff (MGGS) at HQ Eastern Command.The General commanded a Multinational Brigade in a Chapter VII mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC). While serving with the United Nations, he was twice awarded the Force Commander’s Commendation.An alumni of Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, he has been awarded various medals of high honour for gallantry and distinguished service in a span of over 38 years in uniform.He also attended the Command and General Staff College (CGSC) course at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, USA.Academically inclined, Rawat has authored numerous articles on national security and leadership, which have been published in various journals and publications.He was awarded M.Phil in Defence Studies from Madras University. He has a Diploma in Management and another Diploma in Computer Studies.Gen Rawat has also completed his research on military media strategic studies and was awarded Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D) from Chaudhary Charan Singh University, Meerut in 2011.

Indian party chief reinstates sacked son Akhilesh Yadav

Uttar Pradesh’s chief minister is allowed back into his party – a day after his father expelled him.

Modi speech live: PM rolls out slew of reforms, schemes to benefit rural poor

Dec 31, 2016

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the nation on Saturday, in which he is expected to spell out the roadmap ahead after the expiry of the 50-day period for depositing of demonetised notes. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to address the nation before dawn of the New Year,” sources told PTI.

This will be his second address to the nation since his announcement in a similar address on 8 November to scrap Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes.

While announcing the landmark decision, he had asked the people to give 50 days for rolling it out.

Against this backdrop, the Prime Minister may speak about the roadmap ahead, especially on the steps to ease the cash flow that has been a major problem ever since demonetisation took place.

He may also speak on the steps to deal with the problems the economy faces after the demonetisation.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

The prime minister in his public meetings in the last few weeks has been urging the people to bear with the pain following the government’s decision and that it would start easing gradually once the 50-day period is over.

Modi also accused the Congress leadership of “desperation” in the face of his “tough” demonetisation decision and said it was the first time that a concerted effort was made by the Opposition to “openly” protect the dishonest through disruptions in Parliament.

He also slammed Manmohan Singh, who had described demonetisation as a “monumental mismanagement” and an “organised loot”, and sarcastically said that his predecessor might have been referring to the “unending string of scams” like 2G, CWG and coal block allocation “under his leadership”.

Modi said while the honest will not be harassed, those with black wealth have “only a few days to hide” and will not be spared.

“I pity a few of our opponenets, especially the Congress leadeship, for the desperation they have been exhibiting…Congress leaders are entirely pre-occupied with only one thing – elections.”

“There is nothing political in the demonetisation decision…It was a tough decision taken to clean up our economy and our society. If I were guided by short term electoral politics, I would have never done so,” he told India Today in an interview.

With regard to the washout of the recent Winter session due to disruptions over demonetisation, the Prime Minister said the government tried its best to keep Parliament functioning.

“I was keen to speak in both Houses. Yet, there was a concerted attempt by the Congress to derail the functioning of the Houses rather than have a proper debate. While opposition in Parliament is understandable, this is the first time it is being used to protect the dishonest and that too so openly,” he said.

With inputs from agencies

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 20:00 IST

J&K: Partition refugees deserve domicile status, but this is not the time to play with fire

It is enough to make one want to scream!

Just five months ago, various sections of the ruling class seemed to be at the end of their tether with regard to Kashmir. Enraged teenagers held large parts of the Valley to ransom for several months. During that time, India’s Parliament humiliated itself by knocking on various leaders doors, only to be rebuffed. The army was called out in Kupwara and right across south Kashmir – although that last resort that was not used even when there was a greater rage on the streets in 2010.

Unrest in Kashmir Valley. ReutersUnrest in Kashmir Valley. Reuters

Unrest in Kashmir Valley. Reuters

There is every reason to believe that the unrest of 2016 has only subsided; it is not over. Anger still simmers. Indeed, many observers within Kashmir not only predict more unrest in 2017 but that it will surface much earlier in the year than it did in 2016.

And yet, various sections of what pass for political leaders have been playing short-term politics of the sort that prioritises expected advantage to one’s party over the national interest or the objective of long-term stable peace.

Even National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah did it in early December. And Mehbooba Mufti’s government did it in July.

The latest is the controversy over granting domicile certificates to those who are called ‘West Pakistan refugees’ in the state. These are the about 100,000 descendants of those who, during the murderous mayhem of the 1947 Partition violence, scrambled across the border from Pakistani Punjab into areas around Jammu.

Many of them are of Dalit background and have little political or economic clout. Ergo, they need positive discrimination from the state more than others.

The ‘West Pakistan refugees’ are distinct from those who fled that horrible year from Mirpur and Muzaffarabad areas on what are now Pakistan-controlled parts of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Large numbers of them and their descendants too live in Jammu – with all the rights of state subjects.

Several states, including Himachal, deny domicile rights to those who are not, or are not descended from, longtime residents. However, the denial of domicile rights — which basically boils down to access to state educational institutions, state government jobs and ownership of freehold property — to those who have been residents of the state for 70 years is clearly unjustified.

There can be no doubt that, owing to the special circumstances of their migration to the state, and the length of these families’ stay, they deserve the domicile status they were given a few days ago.

However, this is an inappropriate time to grant it. For, that grant has been resisted for decades by Kashmiri Muslims who fear that domicile status could be a first step towards their getting full citizenship of the state. That, they fear, could dilute their own demographic and political domination.

Explosive situation

I have pointed out before that the Kashmiri uprising of 2016 was different to the uprising of 2010 or 2008. One, Pakistan has been in far greater control this year than it was, particularly in 2008. Two, India does not face Pakistan alone on the battlefield that Kashmir has become. It is a Sino-Pak axis now. Three, the challenge may only have begun to emerge. Worse lies ahead than we experienced in 2016.

Of course, the BJP feels pressure to fulfill the poll promise it made to the refugees. Politically, it touches more than the 100,000 persons it directly affects, for the issue strikes a chord among many in the Jammu-Samba-Udhampur-Katra heartland of Hindu identity consciousness. So the BJP would fear an electoral backlash if its promise remains unfulfilled.

And yet, the dangers inherent in implementing this at this point are huge. Intelligence analysts may have advised that the beginning of the peak of an extraordinarily cold winter was the safest time to do it. Energy is low as people across the Valley try and cope with the cold and power outages.

Yet, anger over the issue has gathered steam. Hartals and stone-pelting demonstrations have begun again over the past few days. Independence leaders such as JKLF chief Yasin Malik and Bar Association president Abdul Qayoom have been given a fresh lease of popular support to demonstrate against the domicile status.

Once again, Pulwama has been a hub of unrest. The generally well-informed Ghulam Rasool Pandit had predicted to me that the unrest would revive again in 2017. “Why do you talk about summer?” he asked. “It could begin much sooner.” When I asked him about spring, he smiled laconically and asked why I did not consider January. Pandit is well connected on both sides of the conflict. His son, Naseer, became one of the best-known and popular militants of the area after he left the police to take up the gun. Naseer was killed last spring.

At that time, the police and government had made much of having demolished the insurgency with arrests and ‘kills’ of militants. A couple of months later, they seemed to be at the end of their tether in the face of mass rage.

The move to give West Pakistan Refugees domicile status may be entirely deserved on the face of it, but it stems from a similar sense of misplaced complacency. The nation may have to pay a huge price for such complacency and narrow political calculations.

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 19:07 IST

Jharkhand mine collapse: Death toll rises to 13, as rescue operations continue

Godda (Jharkhand): The death toll climbed to 13 in the coal mine collapse at Lalmatia open cast coal mine of Eastern Coalfields Ltd (ECL), with the recovery of two more bodies on Saturday.

RR Mishra, officiating CMD of ECL, a Coal India subsidiary told PTI, “We have recovered two more bodies. We are carrying on the rescue operation in a systematic manner so that the situation does not aggravate as the debris is too much and it should not fall.”

Thirteen bodies have been recovered from the collapsed mine in Jharkhand. AFPThirteen bodies have been recovered from the collapsed mine in Jharkhand. AFP

Thirteen bodies have been recovered from the collapsed mine in Jharkhand. AFP

Danger zones have been declared around the place of incidents to restrict the entry of people there. Moreover, the district commissioner has also stationed police and CISF officials to restrict entry of people in the danger zone, Mishra said. “We have also called experts from outside to help us in the rescue operation. We have fully ensured that the rescue operations are done with proper safety measures. We have also come up with standard operating procedures which would help us in proper operations so that there is no loss to lives.”

Heavy machinery was deployed as rescuers, including those from the NDRF, toiled through the day extricating bodies and looking for survivors. Central Mine Planning and Design Institute (CMPDIL), the consultancy arm of Coal India Ltd, has deployed magneto meters along with imaging system for locating magnetic and conductive material up to a depth of 80 metres, the statement said.

Mishra said the incident occurred at around 7.30 pm on Thursday, when excavators were working there following which rescue operations was launched immediately. Senior officials of Director General of Mines Safety (DGMS) have arrived at the site and launched an inquiry.

Thirteen excavators and dump trucks which were swamped under the debris have been recovered. The All India Trade Union Congress has condemned Ministry of Power and Coal India for ignoring mine safety norms in open cast mine of ECL in Godda district.

This is the first big open coal mine disaster due to utter negligence of safety norms, it said. The mining was being operated by a contractor to whom Coal India had outsourced mining operations of the area, the union added. AITUC has demanded thorough inquiry and adequate compensation to the families of killed workers and observance of proper safety norms.

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 19:00 IST

BJP’s growth in Tripura due to ‘false campaign and our weakness’: CPI(M)

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The ruling CPI-M in Tripura has said the BJP managed to increase its vote in the recent bypolls in the state taking advantage of “our organisational weakness and by luring people with false assurances.” “The results of the recent two by-elections held for two Assembly seats and by-polls in panchayat seats show that the BJP managed to increase their votes,” Party Secretary Bijan Dhar told reporters last night.”All these things happened due to our organisational weakness and due to their alluring people by giving false assurances,” he said.”Taking advantage of being in power at the Centre they also misused money to woo voters,” Dhar said. He alleged that RSS, Bajrang Dal and BJP have brought their activists from outside the state for trying to build up a political base for the party.”Those activists are indulging in false campaign against the Left Front government and organising demonstrations in front of the residences of ministers, government offices and roads by raising false issues,” Dhar said.”We have asked the administration and common people to remain alert about the activities of the BJP activists,” he said.He said the opposition Congress has become “very weak” due to split in their party and the breakaway faction who formed Trinamool Congress in the state also could not be certain about their political future in the state.The Left Front has been in power for the last 23 years in Tripura.

Mamata so engrossed with chit funds,she can’t think beyond lotteries: Piyush Goyal slams BHIM criticism

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hiting back at West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for criticising the new BHIM app launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi , Power Minister Piyush Goyal on Saturday said she should think beyond her ‘own narrow interests.’Banerjee described the new Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) as a lottery app, named after BR Ambedkar by the Centre. Goyal urged the West Bengal Chief Minister to understand that this is for the benefit of the poor and the deprived section of the society. “I urge her to go beyond her own narrow interests and consider it at the national interest for a change,” he added.The Minister said the app has nothing to do with the Lucky Grahak or DigiDhan Vyapar Yojanas and explained that BHIM app, which was launched by Prime Minister Narenda Modi yesterday, is for digital payments.Banerjee had said that the app is a reflection of crude mentality of the Centre and it insults the backward classes. “This app has nothing to do with the Lucky Grahak or DigiDhan Vyapar Yojanas. Mamataji is so engrossed and involved with lotteries and chit funds that she cannot see beyond lotteries,” Goyal told PTI.The Minister was of the view that the app will strengthen the digital payments infrastructure in the country. The UPI & USSD modes of payment for transacting business, and for paying for goods and services, will be made simpler, more robust and secure through this app, he said. “We are delighted that Bharat Ratna Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar’s name has been associated with this app,” he added. Elaborating further, Goyal said: I do hope that Mamataji will get out of her phobia of attacking everything that Prime Minister does for sensationalising things”.

DNA Evening Must Reads: PM Modi to address nation at 7.30 pm, updates on Mulayam-Akhilesh row, and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Yadav vs Yadav: Akhilesh back in SP fold, to make poll candidates list with MulayamFaced with an imminent split which could have drastically reduced his clout, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav today revoked the expulsion of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and his uncle Ramgopal, just a day after they were sacked for ‘indiscipline’. Read more hereAmid demonetization row, Rahul Gandhi leaves country to celebrate New YearAccording to various media reports, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has reportedly left the country to celebrate New Year in London. Read more herePM Modi’s New Year’s Eve Speech at 7:30 PM.Here’s where you can watch PM Modi’s address. BJP forms govt in Arunachal as Pema Khandu & 32 MLAs join partyIn a fast paced development, a BJP government was today installed in Arunachal Pradesh after 33, out of 43 Peoples’ Party of Arunachal (PPA) MLAs led by Chief Minister Pema Khandu, joined the saffron brigade in this politically fragile state. Read more hereAamir Khan’s ‘Dangal’ ROARS at the Box Office, mints Rs 216.12 crore in 8 days!Aamir Khan ‘s Dangal continues its victory marathon at the ticket windows on Day 8 of its release. Read more here

Arunachal Pradesh: PPA blames BJP for ‘hijacking’ its MLAs

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA) on Saturday accused the BJP of hijacking its MLAs to install its government in the state, after Chief Minister Pema Khandu joined the saffron party with 32 MLAs.Addressing media persons at Arunachal Press Club (APC) here, PPA President Kahfa Bengia criticised North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) convenor Himanta Biswa Sarma for remaining a silent spectator during the political crisis. PPA is a partner of NEDA. “The NEDA convenor instead of coming to the state to resolve the ongoing crisis went to Kenya. He should have deputed somebody to sort out the differences between the MLAs of the party,” Bengia said.”The PPA is not comfortable with NEDA in the state and we are going to discuss the issue with other constituent members of the alliance soon,” PPA central working committee (CWC) Chairman Kamen Ringu said while supporting Bengia.Criticising the BJP for its “conspiracy” to dislodge the PPA-led NEDA government in state and to install a full-fledged BJP government, Bengia alleged that the party even hijacked the PPA candidate for the November 19 by-poll to Hayuliang Assembly constituency and forced her to contest from a BJP ticket.”Most of the MLAs treat PPA as a “transit camp”. We’ll not allow it any more. We’ll try to strengthen the lone regional party of the state and will come out strong in the 2019 elections,” Bengia said. “Most of the leaders are not to lead the state but to loot,” Bengia said, adding that the party had enough legal aspects to teach lessons to those who had been maintaining equal relation with PPA as well as the BJP.

Mulayam reinstates Akhilesh Yadav: Amar Singh hails decision, says conspiracy to break party ‘failed’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh hailed SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav’s decision to revoke expulsion of his son Akhilesh Yadav and brother Ramgopal as the right thing and said the conspiracy to break the party and the family has “failed”.”Mulayam Singhji has done the right thing. He has given a message through his decision that he will not let either the Samajwadi Party or his family break till he is alive. The conspiracy of the people who wanted the party and the family to break has failed,” he said.Singh also clarified that he does not want to break the party.Congratulating Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and SP General Secretary Ramgopal Yadav, he said, “Those who had this misconception that I will try to break the party, I would like to tell them that I am not here to break the party. instead I want to keep it united.””If somebody is still hurt due to me, I want to tell that I am ready to sacrifice myself to ensure unity in SP pariwar and the workers,” he said.”We have to fight the communal forces and ensure that secular front is victorious in the upcoming elections,” Singh added.Earlier in the day, when Amar Singh was asked about the crisis in the party after supremo Mulayam Singh expelled Akhilesh and Ramgopal for six years after they put up candidates against the official nominees and summoned a party meet on Sunday.Amar had said, “The foundation of this party was laid by Mulayam Singh with much dedication and hard work. I have said this earlier and will say it now, that Mulayam Singh is the chief of SP and the father of Akhilesh Yadav as well,” he said.Mulayam had yesterday said he had taken the action against Akhilesh and Ramgopal to save the party which he had built through hard efforts.”We have to save the party. The party comes first. That is why we are expelling both Akhilesh and Ramgopal,” he had said.He explained that the decision was taken after Ramgopal, in his capacity as general secretary, called an emergency meeting of the party on January 1 and Akhilesh “supported” it.Ramgopal called the meeting after a showcause notice was issued to him and Akhilesh by Mulayam for releasing a list of candidates, parallel to the one issued officially by Mulayam.

Hope stalled work expedited under new LG: Arvind Kejriwal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday said he is hopeful the works that have come to a standstill in the national capital will be expedited under new Lt Governor Anil Baijal.Baijal (70), a former Union Home Secretary, took over as the Lt Governor of Delhi today. “I am very hopeful that in the future, we all – MLAs, Delhi government, people of Delhi – will work with the Lt Governor for development of Delhi. “In the last few months, some works of Delhi government have come to standstill. I hope that these works will be expedited,” Kejriwal said.Baijal’s predecessor Najeeb Jung and the Delhi government have been at loggerheads on a range of issues including transfer and posting of officers since AAP came to power. On being asked about his relationship with the AAP government after taking oath, Baijal said, “This is a speculative thing and I don’t know how the relationship will improve. We will sit together and talk.” Baijal was administered the oath of office and secrecy of Lt Governor by Chief Justice of Delhi High Court G Rohini.Apart from the Chief Minister, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, judges, Delhi Chief Secretary M M Kutty, Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, Water Minister Kapil Mishra, New Delhi MP Meenakshi Lekhi, Opposition leader Vijender Gupta and other two BJP MLAs O P Sharma and Jadgish Pradhan, senior bureaucrats attended the oath-taking ceremony. Baijal, a 1969 batch IAS officer, had served as Union Home Secretary under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, besides holding key positions in other ministries.He had retired in 2006 as secretary of the Urban Development Ministry. He was also the vice chairman of Delhi Development Authority. Baijal was actively associated with the designing and roll-out of Rs 60,000 crore Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) launched by the Manmohan Singh government. The former bureaucrat was also on the executive council of the think-tank Vivekananda International Foundation, several of whose former members have been appointed to senior positions by the Modi government including National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.

Jharkhand coal mine death toll rises to 16, some still trapped | Reuters

BHUBANESWAR, India The death toll in a coal mine collapse in Jharkhand rose to 16 on Saturday and could rise further, officials said, as some people are still feared trapped at a coalfield run by state-owned Coal India Limited.The accident occurred on Thursday evening at the Lalmatia mine, one of the country’s largest, which is owned by Eastern Coalfields Limited (ECL).”At night (on Friday), the rescue operation was slow due to fog,” R.R. Amitabh, a senior officer at ECL, told Reuters, adding that about 30 percent of the collapsed mine waste had been removed.Coal India has a poor safety record, with 135 accidents reported last year, killing 37 people and injuring 141, the company said in a report.

Operations at the mine in Godda district, about 280 km (175 miles) from the state capital, Ranchi, have since been stopped, Amitabh said.The state police spokesman R.K. Mullick said the number of people still trapped may be less than the nearly two dozen assumed earlier, based on the number of families who were searching for their kin.

The mine has an annual capacity of 17 million tonnes and accounts for about half of ECL’s coal production. Last month, ECL accounted for about 9 percent of Coal India’s total production of 50 million tonnes.

The federal coal ministry has ordered an investigation and announced some cash compensation to the families of miners who died in the accident. (Reporting by Jatindra Dash; Writing by Malini Menon; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 18:12 IST

India mine collapse: Bodies of 13 recovered in Jharkhand

The bodies of 13 people are recovered and scores remain missing after a coal mine collapse in India.

Happy New Year 2017: Top Whatsapp and Facebook messages to send your loved ones

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>New Year’s Eve is right around the corner and so it the day one of 2017. We have come to rescue you from the chore of finding a New Year’s message to send it to your loved ones, colleagues, acquaintances, and that guy in the contact list you will see only once a year. Take your pick of the messages depending on the intimacy of the relationship you share with the person in your phonebook:1) May you have a smashing year filled with delightful surprises in abundance! Here’s wishing you a very happy and a prosperous New Year!2) May all your dreams turn into reality and efforts into great achievements. Here’s wishing you a very happy New Year.3) Just a new bloom spreads fragrance and freshness around… May the new year add a new beauty and freshness into your life. Happy New Year.4) You have the power to shape your future by being determined and confident. Make every day of the New Year worth cherishing all your life. My Best wishes for New Year 2017.5) Wear a smile, big goodbye to 2016 and welcome 2017 with a teddy hug. Here’s wishing you a very very very happy and a prosperous New Year.6) Let’s welcome 2017 with a hope that it’s better than what we can dream of. May each of us be blessed with the little joys of love and life. Happy New Year.7) Here’s wishing you and your family a very Happy New Year 2017. Hope you have a great time ahead!8) When you are lonely, I wish you Love! When you are down, I wish you Joy! When you are troubled I wish you Peace! When things seem empty, I wish you Hope! With all above wishes, Have A Very Happy New Year 2017!9) Hope that all your troubles and pain last only as long as your New Year resolutions. Happy New Year!10) Another year of success and happiness has passed. With every new year, comes greater challenges and obstacles in life. I wish you courage, hope and faith to overcome all the hurdles you face. May you have a great year and a wonderful time ahead, God bless you Happy New Year 2017 !!!

BJP condemns Hurriyat leaders, says will continue to support the west Pakistani refugees

Jammu: BJP on Saturday condemned Hurriyat and other political parties for opposing the grant of domicile certificate to the west Pakistani refugees(WPRs) residing in Jammu and Kashmir and said it will continue to support the rights of the WPRs.

“Hartal called by Hurriyat and other separatist groups on Friday to oppose the grant of domicile certificate to WPRs is very unfortunate, unwarranted and uncalled for. BJP strongly opposes the efforts of these pro-Pakistan elements to politicise a humanitarian issue,” BJP state spokesperson Brig Anil Gupta (retd) said.

He condemned the attitude of Hurriyat and political parties who are opposing the grant of domicile certificate to the WPRs residing in the state and said what was more discomforting is that these people belong to economically backward segment of the society and have been denied the growth opportunities due to no fault of theirs.

“It is very unfortunate that a section of society living among us is termed as refugees and denied basic rights on the plea that they are not the state subjects and have migrated from West Pakistan at the time of partition,” he said.

Representative image. PTI

Representative image. PTI

Even after 70 years of independence they are being given this treatment in their own country due to the “parochial outlook” of the majority community in the state is tragic, Gupta said.

“It is the influx of illegal Bangladeshi and Burmese migrants that has resulted in the demographic change and ironically they do not raise any voice against them but welcome them.

“This highlights their communal outlook. Our Party will continue to support the WPR and ensure that justice is delivered to them,” he said.

Taking a dig at the National Conference’s stand, Gupta said political parties like NC are misquoting history and trying to mislead the people of Jammu using the name of late Maharaja Hari Singh.

“Their contention that State Subject laws were enacted by the Maharaja to safeguard the interest of Dogras is being quoted out of context.

“The State Subject Act was enacted by the Maharaja in 1927 to protect the rights of its citizens when J&K was an independent state.

“It was the Maharaja only who had acceded the state with India in 1947 and it was his desire that his state should be a part of Union of India,” he said.

He said, “All citizens of J&K are now citizens of India.”

Had the Maharaja been alive he would have himself ensured that any law that keeps his state away from rest of the country should be “abrogated”, the spokesperson said.

“He would have ensured that these helpless people are given all rights immediately and they would not have to suffer this humiliation for 70 years,” he said.

It was surprising and unfortunate that parties which had included this issue in their election manifestos in the past were now opposing the issue of the domicile certificate.

“The statements of Ambika Soni in Jammu and Congress spokesperson Meem Afzal in Srinagar clearly show that the Congress was only exploiting them for narrow political gains and now that their plight is being improved by the present BJP government they have joined hands with the Hurriyat and others to oppose the same,” he said.

“Issue of domicile certificate will enable the WP refugees to seek central government jobs including in the armed forces. There will be quota for them in the 5 IRP Battalions being raised under Prime Minister Special Package for J&K,” he said.

The contention that it is an attempt to change the state’s demography, Gupta said it is not understood as to how it will affect the demography of the state since they have been staying here since 1947.

“The State Subject Act was enacted by the Maharaja in 1927 to protect the rights of its citizens when J&K was an independent state.

“It was the Maharaja only who had acceded the state with India in 1947 and it was his desire that his state should be a part of Union of India,” he said.

He said, “All citizens of J&K are now citizens of India.” Had the Maharaja been alive he would have himself ensured that any law that keeps his state away from rest of the country should be “abrogated”, the spokesperson said.

“He would have ensured that these helpless people are given all rights immediately and they would not have to suffer this humiliation for 70 years,” he said.

It was surprising and unfortunate that parties which had included this issue in their election manifestos in the past were now opposing the issue of the domicile certificate.

“The statements of Ambika Soni in Jammu and Congress spokesperson Meem Afzal in Srinagar clearly show that the Congress was only exploiting them for narrow political gains and now that their plight is being improved by the present BJP government they have joined hands with the Hurriyat and others to oppose the same,” he said.

“Issue of domicile certificate will enable the WP refugees to seek central government jobs including in the armed forces. There will be quota for them in the 5 IRP Battalions being raised under Prime Minister Special Package for J&K,” he said.

The contention that it is an attempt to change the state’s demography, Gupta said it is not understood as to how it will affect the demography of the state since they have been staying here since 1947

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 17:56 IST

Property Act: Opposition to SC ruling ‘misplaced’, says J&K finance minister Drabu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Terming the opposition to SC ruling on the SARFAESI Act with respect to Jammu and Kashmir as “completely misplaced”, state Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu on Saturday said the apex court has only reaffirmed that the state laws prevail.”I think we will have a lot of occasion to discuss this in the Assembly, but I think it (opposition to the SC ruling) is completely misplaced… the Opposition has been doing this for very very long.”While speaking at a Jammu and Kashmir Bank event here, Drabu told reporters that “there is nothing in the Act (to be opposed). In fact, it reaffirms quite a few things, one of which is that the Transfer of Property Act actually prevails over SARFAESI (the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act)”.According to him, banks cannot sell any immovable mortgaged property to non-state subjects.”In the event of a bank taking recourse to property, they cannot sell it to a non-state subject and in the last budget, I had already made a provision for an asset recovery company with the J-K Bank which can buy these impaired assets,” he said.”So, I think the Opposition is completely clueless in what they are saying and bears no relation to what the Act has and it is not today, this has been going on since 2003,” he claimed.Referring to his stint in the bank as its chairman, he recalled making some pertinent proposals.”But I think what eventually has happened is we have got clarity on it that the Transfer of Property Act of J-K will actually prevail over this (SARFAESI) and you cannot sell any immovable mortgage property to non-state subjects.” It can be a huge business opportunity for J-K bank, he felt.Asked if the state would bring any other law on the issue, he said the law department will have to discuss the same.

PM Modi’s New Year’s Eve Speech at 7:30 PM | Live streaming and where to watch in India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rejecting media reports that the PM’s address to the nation at 7:30 PM on December 31, the BJP said that that the speech would go ahead as planned. The BJP Twitter handle tweeted: “Narendra Modi live address to the nation at 7:30 PM on Dec 31: Live streaming and where to watch in India.”Here’s how you can watch PM Modi’s address:Time: 7:30 PM IST on December 31, 2017Watch it on Facebook live on BJP’s pageWatch the live stream on YouTubeCheck it on the BJP websiteYou can also watch the speech on PM Modi’s website​The speech will also be broadcast on all TV channels including Zee News. ​DNA will add the links when the PM speaks. What we know so far? The BJP-led NDA Government, which has come under sharp criticism post the November 8 demonetization drive, will roll out a massive canvassing campaign beginning with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the nation on December 31.Sources said all Central Ministers have been asked to visit at least 10 places and hold rallies and mass contact event so as to convince the masses about the decision to demonetize high-value currency notes.As many as 10 towns visited by each minister will be mix of rural and urban places and more focus will be on poll-bound states as Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and especially rural areas.In the wake of the realisation in the government that demonetization related problems will continue for some time, a detailed dossier on demonetization issue has been given to all Central Ministers explaining need of the drive to various milestones achieved along with its success stories.All mass media platforms from radio, TV to field publicity will be used.Sources disclosed that around 60-page documents have been distributed to all ministers by the Finance Ministry in which every aspect of demonetization has been described point by point.The Finance Minister in the document has described the need for initiating such a step, future action plan and impact on major policies.Prime Minister Modi had earlier urged the nation to give him 50 days post the demonetization decision to get things back on track. After demonetization, the government has taken a number of steps to ensure that no hardship is faced by tourists and the industry is not affected.Till date, the government has made several changes to the norms.The demonetization decision has also taken a toll on the common man, with reports of some dying while standing in queues to collect money.In between all this, Prime Minister Modi has continued to address the nation at various public gatherings and his ‘Mann ki Baat’ radio programme.

I carry Amma in my soul, says Sasikala after taking reigns of AIADMK

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pledging to take forward the legacy of Jayalalithaa, AIADMK General Secretary VK Sasikala on Saturday asserted that none other than party founder MG Ramachandran, Dravidian ideologue C N Annadurai and ‘Amma’ will be given prominence in the party.In her first formal address to functionaries after formally taking charge as party chief here, she said the AIADMK will continue to be run in the same way as during the time of Amma when it was administered with a level of “discipline as seen in the Army”.It will continue to follow in the footsteps of these great leaders who looked beyond caste and religion, she said. Her assertion comes against the backdrop of some murmur of protests against her taking over the post.Heaping encomiums on Jayalalithaa, she said, “let us follow like Vedas our Amma’s political lessons and her footsteps,” adding “this movement (AIADMK) which was shaped up by Amma is a people’s movement, this is people’s government, our journey will be in the path laid by Amma.” She said the “yardstick” followed by Jayalalithaa for elevation of cadres in the party organisation will continue to be the same and “we will not diverge even an iota from it.” Hailing Jayalalithaa for her courage, she said the late leader had stormed the male bastion of politics that has given confidence to women. “Today as a woman, if I have come forward to lead the party, a very important reason for it is the faith that crores of brothers and sisters will support me.” She said “no one can fill her (Jayalalithaa) vacuum even in another thousand years.””I carry Amma in my soul,” she said adding “we have assembled here to guard the confidence of Amma that it will be the AIADMK which will rule the State even for 100 more years …she was everything for me and for us all.” Thanking party leaders for unanimously naming her as party general secretary, Sasikala said she humbly accepted it out of a sense of duty. For the first time she publicly spoke on the death of Jayalalithaa amid demands for a probe by Opposition DMK.Sasikala said she had firmly believed that the former AIADMK chief would recover. “Although Amma’s health improved that facilitated her shift from Critical Care Unit to a private room, she had unfortunately passed away.”It was not thought of even in my dream and it was like a thunderbolt falling on one’s head(when she died)”, Sasikala said, adding her only wish had been Jayalalithaa’s well-being.

Rahul Gandhi submits charter of demands to Modi, wants all restrictions on cash withdrawals gone

New Delhi: Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi put forth a charter of demands to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking him to lift restrictions on cash withdrawals immediately and pay Rs 25,000 to every family below the poverty line.

Rahul Gandhi. PTIRahul Gandhi. PTI

Rahul Gandhi. PTI

Gandhi took to Twitter to highlight his demands ahead of Modi’s second television address to the nation on Saturday, after his surprise 8 November announcement, where he announced the demonetisation of Rs 1,000 and old Rs 500 currency notes.

The Congress vice-president, a staunch critic of the government’s decision to demonetise the notes, listed out his eight demands to Modi as the 50-day period asked by the prime minister to normalise the situation expired on Friday. and there still isn’t seem to have some issues with the availability of notes.

He has dubbed the move the single most arbitrary decision in the history of the world affecting 1.3 billion people. Besides asking Modi to “lift restrictions on withdrawal of money with immediate effect”, Gandhi demanded the prime minister to deposit Rs 25,000 in the account of one woman in each Below Poverty Line (BPL) family.

He advocated immediately abolishing charges on digital transactions and called for income and sales taxes rebate of 50 percent to small-scale shopkeepers and businesses. Gandhi demanded the prime minister to compensate all bank account holders with special interest rate at 18 percent per annum for the “time restrictions are in place”.

He also urged doubling of number of guaranteed workdays and wage rate under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment
Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) for a year and a special one-time bonus of 20 per cent over and above the Minimum Support Price
(MSP) of all rabi crops.

Another of his demands was that rate of ration under public distribution system (PDS) be halved for a year under the provision of Food Security Act. In one of his tweets, Gandhi said, “Destroyed in the last 50 days: trust in the Prime Minister’s word. Weekly cash withdrawal limits must go.”

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 17:30 IST

Will continue to support the rights of West Pakistani Refugees: BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> BJP on Saturday condemned Hurriyat and other political parties for opposing the grant of domicile certificate to the West Pakistani Refugees residing in Jammu and Kashmir and said it will continue to support the rights of the WPRs.”Hartal called by Hurriyat and other separatist groups yesterday to oppose the grant of domicile certificate to WPRs is very unfortunate, unwarranted and uncalled for. BJP strongly opposes the efforts of these pro-Pakistan elements to politicise a humanitarian issue,” BJP state spokesperson Brig Anil Gupta (retd) said. He condemned the attitude of Hurriyat and political parties who are opposing the grant of domicile certificate to the WPRs residing in the state and said what was more discomforting is that these people belong to economically backward segment of the society and have been denied the growth opportunities due to no fault of theirs.”It is very unfortunate that a section of society living among us is termed as refugees and denied basic rights on the plea that they are not the state subjects and have migrated from West Pakistan at the time of partition,” he said. Even after 70 years of independence they are being given this treatment in their own country due to the “parochial outlook” of the majority community in the state is tragic, Gupta said. “It is the influx of illegal Bangladeshi and Burmese migrants that has resulted in the demographic change and ironically they do not raise any voice against them but welcome them.”This highlights their communal outlook. Our Party will continue to support the WPR and ensure that justice is delivered to them,” he said. Taking a dig at the National Conference’s stand, Gupta said political parties like NC are misquoting history and trying to mislead the people of Jammu using the name of late Maharaja Hari Singh. “Their contention that State Subject laws were enacted by the Maharaja to safeguard the interest of Dogras is being quoted out of context.”The State Subject Act was enacted by the Maharaja in 1927 to protect the rights of its citizens when J&K was an independent state. “It was the Maharaja only who had acceded the state with India in 1947 and it was his desire that his state should be a part of Union of India,” he said. He said, “All citizens of J&K are now citizens of India.” Had the Maharaja been alive he would have himself ensured that any law that keeps his state away from rest of the country should be “abrogated”, the spokesperson said.”He would have ensured that these helpless people are given all rights immediately and they would not have to suffer this humiliation for 70 years,” he said. It was surprising and unfortunate that parties which had included this issue in their election manifestos in the past were now opposing the issue of the domicile certificate. “The statements of Ambika Soni in Jammu and Congress spokesperson Meem Afzal in Srinagar clearly show that the Congress was only exploiting them for narrow political gains and now that their plight is being improved by the present BJP government they have joined hands with the Hurriyat and others to oppose the same,” he said.”Issue of domicile certificate will enable the WP refugees to seek central government jobs including in the armed forces.There will be quota for them in the 5 IRP Battalions being raised under Prime Minister Special Package for J&K,” he said. The contention that it is an attempt to change the state’s demography, Gupta said it is not understood as to how it will affect the demography of the state since they have been staying here since 1947. “The State Subject Act was enacted by the Maharaja in 1927 to protect the rights of its citizens when J&K was an independent state.”It was the Maharaja only who had acceded the state with India in 1947 and it was his desire that his state should be a part of Union of India,” he said. He said, “All citizens of J&K are now citizens of India.” Had the Maharaja been alive he would have himself ensured that any law that keeps his state away from rest of the country should be “abrogated”, the spokesperson said. “He would have ensured that these helpless people are given all rights immediately and they would not have to suffer this humiliation for 70 years,” he said.It was surprising and unfortunate that parties which had included this issue in their election manifestos in the past were now opposing the issue of the domicile certificate. “The statements of Ambika Soni in Jammu and Congress spokesperson Meem Afzal in Srinagar clearly show that the Congress was only exploiting them for narrow political gains and now that their plight is being improved by the present BJP government they have joined hands with the Hurriyat and others to oppose the same,” he said.”Issue of domicile certificate will enable the WP refugees to seek central government jobs including in the armed forces. There will be quota for them in the 5 IRP Battalions being raised under Prime Minister Special Package for J&K,” he said. The contention that it is an attempt to change the state’s demography, Gupta said it is not understood as to how it will affect the demography of the state since they have been staying here since 1947.

Demonetisation: The objective of accountability behind the ordinance extinguishing old notes

What was the agenda behind the cabinet approval for promulgating of an ordinance extinguishing the Reserve Bank of India’s liability for cancelled Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes? Was it a mere fulfilment of legal formality so as to prevent chances of someone claiming his right to encash disbanded notes on the basis of a promise to pay the bearer? If it was to fulfil only mere legal formalities, then the obvious question will be on what basis circulation of these very currency notes were made illegal with effect from 8 November midnight? Being a layman in legal matters, I leave it to the concerned experts to ponder over it.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

What else could be the motive behind the move now? Out of Rs 15.4 lakh crore scrapped currency notes, already Rs 14 lakh crore, which is a whopping 90.9 percent, have already come back to the banking system. By any standard, the current step is a major success, one aimed at making unaccounted income accountable. This is a clear indication of the grip of the incumbent government. It also indicates how seriously people take decisions initiated by the prime minister.

Assuming that still around Rs 1 lakh crore do not get accounted, nobody would have shown guts to claim its value merely on the basis of promise to pay the bearer. That would have remained as mere pieces of paper. At the most, these scrapped notes would have got the honour of getting exhibited under palliate clubs. Anyway, the government’s treasury would have got enriched by an amount equivalent to unclaimed part of scrapped currency notes which may not be more than five percent of the scrapped notes.

What could be the hidden agenda? What would be implications of the ordinance? It definitely reflects determination of the prime minister to tackle menace of black money for which he was given mandate by the people. Among those who declared their income, there will be those who end up paying penalty for not filing returns on time. At the most, their social image may get tarnished. But they don’t have alternate escape route under the determined government.

Who are these persons who don’t mind their ill-gotten wealth getting drained away? Obviously, these are the persons who simply cannot afford to declare their income and pay penalty as other simpletons have done. In this case, resolving of one problem means getting trapped into a much more dangerous web. How can corrupt politicians and bureaucrats declare black money and get away by simply paying penalty? Instead of resolving the problem, it would lead them into a deeper trap. It would automatically lead to investigation about sources of their income. They would end up accepting bribe which means likely end of their career and jail term.

It also has to do with nature of the person called Narendra Modi. Once he takes initiative to reach the target, he is known for trying to achieve it at any cost and go forward with the killing spirit. Perhaps the prime minister is determined to clean up the entire political spectrum and government machinery without sparing anybody. In the process, he may have to sacrifice many of his own colleagues apart from taking on political opponents. No doubt, it is really a bold step. It looks like the prime minister is aware of tremendous risk involved. His real support and strength in this fight against black money is from common men. Despite facing hardship of standing in queues for hours together, they still stand by the Prime Minister. In fact, the measure initiated by the prime minister to tackle black money has become a true people’s movement today. Any movement blessed by people is bound to be a success despite numerous hurdles.

(Dr Jagadish Shettigar is a former member of Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council and currently, Economics Professor at Birla Institute of Management Technology, Greater Noida.)

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 17:25 IST

Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi rules out resignation, offers support to new army chief Bipin Rawat

Kolkata: Putting to rest all speculation about his resignation, Eastern Army Commander lieutenant general Praveen Bakshi assured his full support to General Bipin Rawat, who took charge as the new army chief superseding him.

Lt General Praveen Bakshi. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.Lt General Praveen Bakshi. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Lt General Praveen Bakshi. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

“I convey my best wishes and full support of Eastern Command to Gen. Bipin Rawat on having taken over as the Chief of Army Staff,” Bakshi said on Saturday. He also made it clear that he was not resigning, and even called the new army chief on the phone to congratulate him on taking over the reins of the army, an official said.

Speculation that he may seek premature retirement from service gained ground after he met Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on 21 December and then proceeded on leave after Christmas.

Bakshi was initially the frontrunner for the post of army chief. However, keeping aside the trend of seniority, the government appointed vice-chief of army, lieutenant general Bipin Rawat, a batch junior to Bakshi, as the new chief.

The army commander requested that speculation in media and trolling on social media should stop and everyone should focus on contributing their best to the betterment of the army and the nation.

At a function here on new year’s eve, he greeted all ranks of Army’s Eastern Command and said he would continue to lead the Command with full professional sincerity. He, however, continues to be on leave for the next few days.

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 16:48 IST

Amid demonetization row, Rahul Gandhi leaves country to celebrate New Year

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to various media reports, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has reportedly left the country to celebrate New Year in London. The Congress VP tweeted: “I will be traveling for the next few days. Happy New Year to everyone, wishing you and your loved ones success & happiness in this coming year.”Rahul Gandhi has been in the thick of the action in recent times, as he has criticised PM Modi for the demonetization move and also alleged that he had information of PM Modi’s personal corruption.Recently, Rahul Gandhi targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi by posing five questions including the amount of black money recovered since November 8 and the number of jobs lost due to the dramatic decision. The Congress vice president took to Twitter asking the Prime Minister as to whom had he consulted before taking the decision and wondered as to why were “experts, economists and RBI not consulted”.His questions have come a day ahead of the Prime Minister’s address to the nation. Rahul sought to know as to who all deposited more than Rs 25 lakhs in bank accounts in six months preceding November 8 note ban decision.”With 50 days over since demonetisation, India is waiting for your answers to these five questions, Modiji. Amount of black money recovered after 8 November 2016? Economic loss to the nation and numbers of jobs lost? How many people died due to demonetisation? Has the compensation been paid? “Whom all did PM consult on demonetisation? Why were experts, economists, RBI not consulted? Who all deposited more than (Rs) 25 lakhs in bank accounts in six months preceding 8th November 2016?”

Pakistan to hand over dossier on India to new UN chief Antonio Guterres

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan would hand over a dossier on alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav and evidence of attempted violation of maritime boundary by an Indian submarine to incoming UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Monday, his first working day after assuming office.Pakistan’s Permanent UN representative Maleeha Lodhi will officially pass on the dossier to Guterres at the UN headquarters in New York, Dawn reported, citing officials. “Soon after assuming office incoming UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres will get a feel of Pak-India rivalry as Islamabad is set to raise the issue of Indian interference with him,” the paper said.Pakistan claims that Jadhav, an Indian navy officer and an alleged operative of India’s intelligence agency RAW, was caught by its security forces earlier this year. His capture was announced in March and was flaunted by military as “proof of Indian interference and state-sponsored terrorism”.The government, which had pledged to expose alleged Indian hand in terrorism in Pakistan, domestically faced a lot of criticism for the delay in presenting to the international community evidence of Jadhav’s alleged involvement in subversive activities. Responding to criticism in the Senate, Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz had on December 7 said that “insufficient material” had been delaying the finalisation of the dossier. “It is not that material has been provided and it’s lacking in English and we are overcoming it. The (provided) material, in our view, was insufficient,” Aziz had told a meeting of the Senate Committee of the Whole House.”The required additional information” has now been made available and the dossier has been completed, the paper said, citing the officials.The officials did not share the specifics, but said it would contain proofs that India was allegedly patronising terrorism in Pakistan. The new UN chief would also be informed about the attempt by an Indian submarine to “intrude into Pakistani waters before it was spotted and forced to abandon the mission”, the paper said.The submarine incident, which happened last month, coincided with the fourth Pak-China joint naval exercise for promoting maritime security and stability in the region and the start of shipping activity under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor from Gwadar. Lodhi had in October 2015 presented three dossiers to the then secretary general Ban Ki-moon, which were said to be containing proofs of alleged Indian interference in Balochistan, Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Karachi. But, the move did not get much traction.When the attention of the officials was invited to the “credibility deficit” that Pakistan internationally faces, they expressed the hope that the UN would look into the fresh evidence that would be placed before it.

Demonstration against Sasikala’s appointment as AIADMK chief

Sat, 31 Dec 2016-04:04pm , Cuddalore , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A small group of AIADMK cadres and supporters of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s niece, Deepa Jayakumar, on Saturday staged a black flag protest here against appointment of VK Sasikala as party General Secretary.The protesters alleged that Sasikala was chosen to the top post against the party’s rules and regulations. No arrests were made, police said. Sasikala formally assumed charge as the AIADMK general secretary today.

Bipin Rawat, Birender Singh Dhanoa assume charge as army, IAF chiefs

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>General Bipin Rawat assumed charge as India’s new army chief, while and Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa took over as the new chief of the Indian Air Force on Saturday.They succeed General Dalbir Singh and Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha respectively. Separate ceremonies were held on the South Block lawns and at the Air Headquarters. The new appointments were announced on December 16 by the government.Chief of Naval staff Admiral Sunil Lanba will head the Chiefs of Staff Committee.

Last minute patch-up in feud-ridden SP; Akhilesh Yadav, Ram Gopal back

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After a massive show of strength by Akhilesh Yadav, who was expelled from SP by father Mulayam Singh Yadav, the party supremo on Saturday backed down revoking with immediate effect the expulsion orders of his son and brother Ram Gopal.After hectic confabulations involving Akhilesh Yadav’s warring uncle Shivpal Yadav, Mulayam and the Chief Minister, Shivpal tweeted that on the SP supremo’s directive, expulsion of Akhilesh and Ram Gopal Yadav from SP was being revoked with immediate effect. “I am coming after having met party chief Mulayam Singh along with CM Akhilesh Yadav. Netaji has given the order that the suspension orders of Akhilesh and Ram Gopal are terminated with immediate effect,” Shivpal said. “All of us together will fight communal forces and we will once again form a SP government in UP with full majority. These are my orders. We will hold discussions within ourselves and decide, and prepare for the upcoming elections,” he said. “All matters have been solved and we will fight the upcoming polls together. We will all sit togther with Netaji and I am sure all problems will be resolved,” he said. On a day of fast-paced developments, Akhilesh earlier in the day convened a meeting of SP legislators where over 200 of the 229 party MLAs turned up expressing their loyalty with the chief minister, a day after he was expelled from the party for indulging in “indiscipline”, pushing the ruling party to the precipice of a vertical split.Some SP MLCs and senior party functionaries loyal to Akhilesh also attended the meeting at the chief minister’s official residence at 5-Kalidas Marg.Senior SP leader and UP cabinet minister Azam Khan then arrived at the CM’s residence and after a brief stay, they drove to Mulayam’s bungalow at a stone’s throw distance.

Arunachal Pradesh to have BJP govt as 33 MLAs led by Pema Khandu join party

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The political turmoil in Andhra Pradesh has taken a positive turn for the BJP as 33 MLAs of the People’s Party of Arunachal Pradesh (PPA) have joined the party on Saturday.The MLAs were led by Pema Khandu who was on Thursday suspended from PPA among 10 other members.The 33 MLAs joined the BJP after a meeting today. Arunachal Pradesh now has a BJP government as the party has 2/3rd majority. The PPA, which had total 43 MLAs, had on Thursday midnight temporarily suspended Khandu, deputy chief minister Chhowna Mein and five other MLAs from the primary membership of the party for their alleged “anti-party activities”. It later suspended four other members. A total of eleven MLAs were suspended till now.The Pema Khandu government had claimed on Friday support of 49 of the 60 MLAs on Saturday , including 35 of Peoples Party of Arunachal (PPA) legislators, a day after he was suspended from his own party.Government spokesperson Bamang Felix had claimed that 35 out of the 43 PPA MLAs have reposed their faith and allegiance in the leadership of Khandu. “We have support of 49 MLAs including 35 PPA, 12 BJP along with one associate BJP member and one independent,” he claimed at a press conference here. Arunachal has been battling political instability since December last year when Congress dissidents revolted against former chief minister Nabam Tuki.After a series of dramatic developments, which included a special session held at a hotel to vote out Tuki, Congress rebel Kalikho Pul became chief minister in February with the help of 11 BJP lawmakersThe Congress then moved Supreme Court, which turned the clock back and restored Tuki’s government. But Tuki was out within days as he did not enjoy a majority in the 60-member assembly. Pul, who insisted that he be reinstated as chief minister, was left alone in the last minute when lawmakers supposedly backing him shifted their loyalties to Khandu. Pul committed suicide in August and a month later, Khandu walked out of Congress with 42 lawmakers and joined the PPA.

From Demonetisation to Donald Trump: The biggest stories of 2016, as voted by our readers

2016 was a remarkable year for news.

Filled with stories painted in all sorts of hues, it’s unlikely there’s been a year that was as uplifting as it was saddening, as rewarding as it was frustrating, as exhilarating, as shocking.

Roughly 10 days ago, we began asking you what you thought was the biggest story of the year across a variety of sections.

Here’s what you thought:

Let’s start with Business, where your biggest story of the year — somewhat unsurprisingly — was demonetisation.

In a surprising move, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the decision to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes on 8 November, and in the process, sucked out a major chunk of currency notes in the country. As there weren’t enough notes of smaller denominations to replace the banned ones, the move created an artificial cash crunch.

People queued up in front of banks and ATMs to withdraw cash and deposit old notes. As they are still struggling to come to terms with the situation, nobody has been able to fathom the real impact of the move on daily lives. Demonetisation will remain the biggest news story not only of 2016, but even in 2017.

Demonetisation, however, wasn’t just a business story. An all-encompassing story like that affected all walks of life.

Which is probably why you voted it the biggest story of the year in terms of General News too. But since that’s covered above, let’s look at the second biggest news story of the year: Donald Trump being elected President of the United States.

Reams of newsprint and hours of airtime have been devoted to just why this was such an earthshaking story. In fact, the very idea that a rank outsider — a joke candidate, if we’re being honest — at the start of the campaign trail could swat aside all opponents to become the (arguably) most powerful man in the world was laughable. And when it happened, it shook not just the US, but the world at large.

The road to the election was marked by mudslinging, insults, accusations, sexism and much more unpleasant stuff. Ever since it became official that Trump will take office in January 2017, the entire world has been wondering just what he will do when he enters the White House. It was both his journey to presidency and the concerns about what he will do next that made this such a massive story.

In Sports, it was the rise of PV Sindhu that found the most takers.

Sindhu became an overnight sensation after her stunning run at the 2016 Rio Olympics, where she came away with the silver medal. Her incredible ability, combined with her perseverance, made her the nation’s next biggest sporting icon of 2016. After Rio, she went on to win the China Open, her first Super Series title, the Malaysia Masters, and finished as runner-up in the Hong Kong Open.

On her debut at the season-ending Dubai World Super Series Final, she reached the semis and even avenged her Olympic loss to Carolina Marin in the group stage. With these brilliant performances, she consolidated both her own and India’s position as a force to be reckoned with in international badminton. Her dominance also neatly plugged the gap left by an injured Saina Nehwal, and we hope she continues to shine even brighter in the years to come.

In the world of Technology, it was the exploding Samsung Note 7 that you picked.

The Note 7 was quite an interesting phone. In fact, we at Firstpost had a chance to use the smartphone for a short bit when it was announced in India and came away impressed. Soon after its announcement, the phablet had started selling in a few markets. Not even a month had passed and around 30 different reports of certain units catching fire began to trickle in. This turned into a deluge and the first stock for India was delayed.

Samsung even issued a statement confirming the battery malfunction issue. The company immediately began sending out replacement units to Note 7 consumers. Sadly, the second and even third replacement units were still catching fire. It was a complete disaster. The smartphone was banned from flights and announcements were made advising Note 7 users not to use the handset while travelling. Nothing screams bad PR like such public service announcements at the airport.

After numerous replacements, the company had no choice but to announce a global recall of the smartphone. One of the biggest in consumer electronics history. It sent out boxes to consumers asking them to return the handset, as it was a serious threat. It even announced and rolled out software updates to restrict battery charging. Eventually, the Note 7 had to be killed.

In the world of Entertainment, you voted for the ban on Pakistani artistes.

In the aftermath of the Uri terror attack, followed by the surgical strikes in September this year, various sections of the population demanded a ban on Pakistani artistes from the film industry. This meant that any impending film, concert or event featuring a Pakistani artiste or actor had no place in India. Some members of the Cinema Owners Exhibitors Association of India announced they wouldn’t release films featuring Pakistani artistes in four states — Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat and Karnataka.

The Indian Motion Pictures Producers Association also said that it had effectively banned any Pakistani artiste from India. This lead to a conflict in the release of Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. MNS chief Raj Thackeray took it upon himself to ensure this ban was followed. After much running around, and hush-hush conversations with the Maharashtra chief minister, the matter was finally resolved.

Which brings us to Social Media, where the most viral story of the year — as selected by you — was the visual of the Syrian boy covered in blood and dust.

Shared a million times over, this image of five-year old Omran Daqneesh emerged as the ultimate reminder of the horror and trauma thousands of people, especially children, face due to the Syrian civil war. Omran was one of five children wounded during a military strike.

Widely shared on social media, the photograph makes it impossible to forget little Omran in the ambulance, stunned by the bloody chaos. The video in which he is seen wiping dust and blood from his face is considered as one of the strongest visuals of the ravages of war in the past year.

And there you have it.

Those are the biggest stories of 2016, as voted by you.

Bring on 2017!

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 15:01 IST

Demonetization: Why are there restrictions on cash withdrawal? Mamata to Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Questioning the restrictions imposed on cash withdrawal, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday said the government cannot simply “snatch away” economic rights of the people.”Modi Babu, public are not beggars. Why are there still restrictions on cash withdrawal?,” Banerjee asked in a statement. “Fifty days are now over. How can you take away the rights of citizens to withdraw their own hard-earned money? A government just cannot snatch away people’s economic rights,” she said. The Reserve Bank of India said last night that cash withdrawal limit from ATMs would be increased to Rs 4,500 per day from the current Rs 2,500 from January 1.There has been no change in the weekly withdrawal limit, which stands at Rs 24,000, including from ATM, for individuals and Rs 50,000 for small traders.

Demoneization: Why are there restrictions on cash withdrawal? Mamata to Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Questioning the restrictions imposed on cash withdrawal, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday said the government cannot simply “snatch away” economic rights of the people.”Modi Babu, public are not beggars. Why are there still restrictions on cash withdrawal?,” Banerjee asked in a statement. “Fifty days are now over. How can you take away the rights of citizens to withdraw their own hard-earned money? A government just cannot snatch away people’s economic rights,” she said. The Reserve Bank of India said last night that cash withdrawal limit from ATMs would be increased to Rs 4,500 per day from the current Rs 2,500 from January 1.There has been no change in the weekly withdrawal limit, which stands at Rs 24,000, including from ATM, for individuals and Rs 50,000 for small traders.

Jharkhand mine collapse: Death toll rises to 13 in Lalmatia coal mine mishap

Ranchi: The number of dead in Thursday’s Jharkhand coal mine cave-in has reached thirteen with the recovery of two more bodies on Saturday, police said.

People gather near the coal mine in Godda, Jharkhand, where several workers are trapped, after it collapsed on Thursday evening. PTI

“Two more bodies have been recovered on Saturday. The rescue operation is going on. There are chances of some more people still trapped in the debris,” said a police spokesperson to IANS. The tragedy occurred at the Rajmahal Opencast Project of Eastern Coalfields Limited (ECL) around 7.30 p.m. on Thursday.

The relatives of those killed took the visiting ECL officials hostage on Saturday morning at the accident site. Police, however, managed to rescue them after three hours. Rescue operations were being carried out by the National Disaster Response Force with assistance from the ECL, Bharat Cooking Coal Limited (BCCL), the state government and experts.

In a statement, the Coal Ministry said that senior officials from the Director General of Mines Safety (DGMS) were at the site and have started an enquiry into the incident. The Coal Ministry has termed the incident “unprecedented”.

An area of 300 metres length by 110 metres width solid floor of the overburden dump area slid down by about 35 metres involving around 9.5 million cubic metres of earth material.

“This could be due to failure of the bench edge along the hidden fault line/slip,” it said.

Besides the probe by the Director General of Mines Safety, a “high-level committee of experts” was constituted by Coal India Limited (CIL) to investigate the causes of the accident.

The Raghubar Das government has also announced a compensation of Rs two lakh each to the families of the deceased and Rs 25,000 for the injured.

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 14:29 IST

Indian army prepared to meet any challenges, says General Dalbir Singh Suhag

Indian army prepared to meet any challenges, says General Dalbir Singh Suhag

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New Delhi: Indian army is prepared to meet any challenges, Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag who superannuated as Army chief said today.

He also thanked the government for providing a free hand and implementing OROP.

He said that infiltration attempts had increased during the year and the number of terrorists killed too was nearly double the previous year.

The Indian army is prepared to meet any challenges, he said, adding that the force had focused on operational preparedness during his tenure.

Suhag said that when he had taken over he had said that the response of Indian army to any action against our interest would be immediate, adequate and intense.

Indian army has done that in the last two-and-half years, he said.

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 13:53 IST

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Emotional Sasikala takes charge as AIADMK Gen Secy, says she’ll sacrifice life for party & people

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>VK Sasikala Natarajan, 54, a close aide of late Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa, took charge as General Secretary of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) on Saturday at the party’s headquarters in Chennai.AIADMK party members had in a unanimous resolution adopted at the party’s general council meeting earlier this week, appointed Sasikala to the post.Chinnamma addressed AIADMK cadres at the party Head Quarters. She began by thanking her supporters for choosing her to be the next General Secretaryafter Jayalalithaa’s death.Breaking down with tears, she said that the despite Jayalalithaa’s demise party under her leadership will continue to rule the state. “Amma is not with us now but our party will rule here for the next 100 years,” she said.Sasikala said that she had dedicated her life to serving Jayalalithaa. “For Amma party was life and for me Amma is my life.We have tried our best to safeguard Amma; but unfortunately she passed away.”She reminded party workers to be loyal and committed towards the party to fulfil Jayalalithaa’s dream for the state. “Amma always expected loyalty and true work from all cadre and functionaries. I will sacrifice my life for my party and the crores of people. Amma’s dream will continue for Tamil Nadu,” she said. “This government is people’s government. We will follow the path shown by our Amma. If we stand united, future is ours,” she said. “In those days Indira Gandhi was the only woman leader in politics but Amma broke the tradition and made history,” said Sasikala about Jayalalithaa’s ascension to power as a woman. Sasikala also promised grand celebrations for entire year in 2017 for the centenary of AIADMK founder MG Ramachandran. “Centenary of AIADMK founder MG Ramachandran will be celebrated in a grand manner throughout the year,” said the new AIADMK General SecretaryAhead of taking charge, Sasikala paid tribute to Jayalalithaa.The AIADMK in its general body meeting passed a resolution to work under the leadership of Sasikala on Friday. The resolution was accepted by Sasikala, the confirmation of which was posted on the party’s Twitter handle. The close aide of late Jayalalithaa first garlanded the statue of party founder MG Ramachandran at the AIADMK headquarters after she arrived in the midst of tight security. She then proceeded to pay floral tributes to the portrait of Jayalalithaa. Sasikala formally assumed charge by signing papers after which she addressed the gathering outside.Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam handed over a copy of the resolution to Sasikala.En route to the party office, she was given a rousing welcome by party leaders, functionaries and cadres who had gathered in large numbers. Party activists had lined up on both sides of the road from the Poes Garden residence to the party headquarters at Royapettah to welcome her.Sasikala, clad in a light green saree with a pink border, greeted them with folded hands. Party flags, banners and festoons sporting bright images of Jayalalithaa and Sasikala were put up on roads, all along from Poes garden to Royapettah. Banners and hoardings hailed Sasikala as Chinnamma everywhere.After Jayalalithaa died, the party had announced that Natarajan would replace her as the chief of her party even though she is not technically qualified. The general secretary has to have completed five years as an active member. Jayalalithaa who passed away on December 5 evening after suffering cardiac arrest was the party’s general secretary from 1989 to 2016. With PTI/ANI inputs.

Demonetisation done without thinking about consequence: Nobel laureate Amartya Sen

Demonetisation done without thinking about consequence: Nobel laureate Amartya Sen

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Nobel laureate Amartya Sen today said he felt the demonetisation decision was taken hurriedly without thinking about its consequence. “I don’t think that this (demonetisation) decision was taken after considering all sides. It was taken hurriedly without thinking of consequences,” he told media persons here.

Amartya Sen. AFPAmartya Sen. AFP

Amartya Sen. AFP

“So far economics is concerned I find no reasoning behind this decision. It will have adverse effect,” Sen said.

The Nobel laureate, who chairs Pratichi Trust, which works in the areas of health and education with special emphasis on gender equality, said implementation of midday meal project is not up to the mark in West Bengal.

“This project is very successful in Tamil Nadu, partly in Uttar Pradesh and other states. But in West Bengal the performance is average,” he said after attending a programme of the trust here.

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 13:37 IST

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Jharkhand mine collapse: Death toll climbs to 12 as one more body is recovered

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the recovery of one more body on Saturday, the death toll climbed to 12 in the coal mine collapse at Lalmatia open cast coal mine of Eastern Coalfields Ltd (ECL), the worst such disaster in over a decade.RR Mishra, officiating CMD of ECL, a Coal India subsidiary told PTI, “We have recovered one more body at 10.30 AM. The total bodies recovered so far are 12. We have also recovered one more machine. We are carrying on the rescue operation in a systematic manner so that the situation does not aggravate as the debris is too much and they should not fall.” Danger zones have been declared around the place of incidents to restrict the entry of people there. Moreover, the district commissioner has also stationed police and CISF officials to restrict entry of people in the danger zone, Mishra said. “We have also called experts from outside to help us in the rescue operation. We have fully ensured that the rescue operations are done with proper safety measures. We have also come up with Standard Operating Procedures which would help us in proper operations so that there is no loss to lives,” Mishra added.Heavy machinery was deployed as rescuers, including those from the NDRF, toiled through the day yesterday extricating bodies and looking for survivors. Central Mine Planning and Design Institute (CMPDIL, the consultancy arm of Coal India Ltd, has deployed magneto meters along with imaging system for locating magnetic and conductive material up to a depth of 80 meters, the statement said. Mishra said the incident occurred at around 7.30 PM on Thursday when excavators were working there following which rescue operations was launched immediately. Senior officials of Director General of Mines Safety (DGMS) have arrived at the site and launched an inquiry.All 12 excavators and dump trucks which were swamped under the debris have been recovered.

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