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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

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 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

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

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

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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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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Pakistan seeks US support on implementation of Indus Waters Treaty with India

Islamabad: Pakistan has sought support of the US on the implementation of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) with India, as Secretary of State John Kerry called for an amicable settlement of the issue by New Delhi and Islamabad, media reported on Saturday.

The development came after Pakistan was irked by the World Bank pause in mediation to resolve differences over construction of two water projects by India.

The Express Tribune reported that Kerry made a phone call to Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Thursday night and discussed the row over the IWT implementation and the role of the World Bank (WB), which had brokered the treaty in 1960.

After Kerry’s call, US Ambassador to Pakistan David Hale also met Dar in Islamabad at the Finance Ministry.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

The back-to-back contacts highlight the importance of the water issue, which can potentially endanger regional stability if the situation slips out of control, according to sources at Finance Ministry.

“The US would like to see an amicable solution to this (water) issue,” a Finance Ministry statement quoted Kerry as saying.

Kerry told Dar that the WB president had informed him about Pakistan’s complaint against India on the IWT.

The water dispute has catapulted the US back into Pakistan’s economic picture.

The American civilian and military assistance to Pakistan has drastically come down in recent months and its implications on Pakistan’s fiscal situation have started emerging in the shape of a larger-than-anticipated budget deficit.

Independent analysts argue that Washington may not play an effective role in resolving the water dispute, as the Obama administration is preparing to hand over the White House to Donald Trump next month.

“Senator Dar indicated that the US support on the principles and legal position of Pakistan will be greatly appreciated,” stated the Finance Ministry.

Early this month, the WB had announced a pause in playing its legally binding role of mediator in the IWT implementation.

In October, Pakistan had approached the WB seeking appointment of the Chairman of Court of Arbitration to resolve a dispute over construction of two mega hydropower projects by India in violation of the IWT.

The Finance Minister told Kerry that the IWT was an international commitment and it was the WB’s responsibility to make sure India honoured the treaty and the water rights of hundreds of millions of Pakistani people were protected, said the finance ministry.

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 13:03 IST

Demonetisation: Withdrawal limit from ATM hiked to Rs 4,500 per day from 1 January

Mumbai: In a relief to common man, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Friday said cash withdrawal limit from ATMs will be increased to Rs 4,500 per day from the current Rs 2,500 from 1 January.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

However, there has been no change in the weekly withdrawal limit, which stands at Rs 24,000, including from ATM, for individuals (Rs 50,000 in case of small traders).

“On a review of the position, the daily limit of withdrawal from ATMs has been increased (within the overall weekly limits specified) with effect from 1 January 2017, from the existing Rs 2,500 to Rs 4,500 per day per card,” the central bank said in a notification.

Following demonetisation of old Rs 500/1000 notes on 9 November, limits had been imposed on withdrawal of cash from banks as well as ATMs.

The RBI’s notification further stated “there is no change in weekly withdrawal limits” and such disbursals “should predominantly be in the denomination of Rs 500”.

Earlier in the day, the RBI had permitted White Label ATM Operators (WLAOs) to source cash from retail outlets.

Most of the White Label ATMs are running dry since demonetisation as the operators were facing difficulties in sourcing cash from their sponsor bank(s).

Friday was the last day to deposit the invalid currency notes in banks. However, people still have time to exchange the currency notes at designated RBI counters till March 31 after giving valid reasons for not depositing defunct notes in their accounts by December 30.

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 08:34 IST

Demonetisation was single biggest case of total mismanagement, says Chidambaram

New Delhi: Insisting that the Opposition’s concerns on demonetisation have been found correct, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should now make a categorical announcement of an end to all restrictions on cash withdrawals.

P Chidambaram. PTIP Chidambaram. PTI

P Chidambaram. PTI

“When the prime minister addresses the nation, the people expect that he will make a categorical announcement that all restrictions on money have been ended,” Chidambaram told reporters at AICC headquarters on Friday.

The senior Congress leader said that the woes of demonetisation should come to an end by Friday evening as the prime minister had asked for time till 30 December. Noting that Modi had recently said at a rally that “through the note ban, in one stroke, we destroyed the world of terrorism, drug mafia, human trafficking and underworld”, he said that it was therefore, fair to expect that these objectives would be achieved by the end of today.

“It is fair to expect that beginning Monday, 2 January, 2017, all restrictions on money imposed on 8 November, 2016 will be removed and the people will be able to withdraw the money in their bank accounts. It is fair to expect that there will be no queues outside bank branches and ATMs. It is fair to expect that all ATMs will be open round the clock and fully stocked with
currency notes,” he said.

Chidambaram said that the only person who can assure the people on these matters is Modi himself, because the government has “dubbed all of us in the Opposition as supporters of black money hoarders and tax evaders”.

On the government’s claim that people are happy and there have been no incidents of rioting, he said people are patient. “But please don’t mistake patient people for happy people,” he had said.

Seeking to debunk government’s claims on the benefits of demonetisation, he said, “Events of the last 50 days have proved us correct. Hoards of black money in new Rs 2,000 notes have been found.”

He further said that bribes have been given and taken in new Rs 2,000 notes and there is “no guarantee” that black money will not be demanded or generated in future or that bribes will not be given or taken in future in the new currency.

Dubbing the way the demonetisation was announced and implemented as a “single biggest case of total mismanagement”, he regretted the most momentous decision has been taken “without consulting key officials”.

Making a strong pitch for compensating people for the hardships they faced, he lamented that the government has “not uttered a word” about compensating the people for the economic losses heaped upon them by demonetisation.

He also demanded that the agenda note and the minutes of the meeting of the RBI board of directors held on 8 November, 2016, along with the Note for Cabinet on demonetisation placed before the Cabinet on 8 November, 2016, should be made
public.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 20:03 IST

One civilian killed in cross-border firing at J&K’s Poonch sector

Jammu: One civilian was killed, as Pakistani Army indulged in heavy cross-border firing, targeting Indian positions and civilian areas along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch sector, prompting the Indian side to retaliate.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

“Pakistani troops targeted the Indian Army posts and civilian areas along the LoC in Poonch sector with small arms, automatic and mortars at 16:55 hours,” an army officer said. He said the army was retaliating strongly and effectively to the ceasefire violation.

One civilian has been killed in the ongoing firing, a senior police officer said.

On 16 December, Pakistan had violated ceasefire by targeting Indian positions along the LoC in Balakote sector of the same district. That had come after a lull of over three weeks, after the Indian troops had launched a counter-offensive on 23 November against the killing of three soldiers in the Machhil sector of north Kashmir’s Kupwara district.

In the cross-LoC attack by suspected Pakistani terrorists, three Indian soldiers were killed on 22 November, with body of one of them being mutilated. Following the incident, the Indian Army had vowed a heavy “retribution”.

The 2003 India-Pakistan ceasefire agreement has virtually become redundant with over 300 incidents of firing and shelling along the LoC and IB in Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistani troops.

Over 26 people, including 14 security personnel, have been killed in ceasefire violations since the surgical strike on terrorist launch pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 19:32 IST

Jammu and Kashmir: Yasin Malik detained ahead of protest march

Srinagar: JKLF chairman Yasin Malik was on Friday detained at Pulwama as he led his supporters to stage a protest march against Jammu and Kashmir government’s decision to issue identity certificates to West Pakistani Refugees.

Separatist Yasin Malik. AFP

Separatist Yasin Malik. AFP

Malik was detained along with several of his supporters. They were taken into preventive custody, a police official said.

Separatists groups had called for protests on Friday against the government decision to issue identity certificates to West Pakistan Refugees living in the state since partition in 1947.

The state government has decided to issue identity cards to the refugees and had to issue clarification after protests from opposition parties and separatists against the move.

Initially, reports had said the opposition was against the government move to issue domicile certificates, but the state government said it was issuing identity certificates.

Other political organisations, including BJP and Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party, have slammed separatists for opposing the issuance of certificates to the refugees.

The refugees, settled in Jammu and Kashmir, are citizens of India and have the right to vote in parliamentary polls.

However, they are not permanent residents of the state in terms of Jammu and Kashmir Constitution. They do not enjoy voting rights to the state assembly and local bodies.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 18:50 IST

China blocks proposal at UN to list Masood Azhar as terrorist; India dismayed at ‘double standards’

New Delhi: China on Friday finally blocked India’s proposal to list Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief and Pathankot mastermind Masood Azhar as a designated terrorist by the UN, triggering a sharp reaction from New Delhi which termed it as “unfortunate blow” and a step that confirms prevalence of double standards in the fight against terrorism.

With China blocking India’s proposal, which was submitted in February to the 1267 Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council, New Delhi has to make a fresh listing request for Azhar to be banned by the global body, officials said.

After its submission, China twice imposed “technical” hold on the Indian proposal.

File photo of Azhar Masood. Reuters

File photo of Masood Azhar. Reuters

However, India said it will continue to push forward with resolute determination “through the use of all options available with us to bring perpetrators of terrorist violence to justice”.

Asserting that its submission received the strong backing of all other members of the 15-member Sanctions Committee, External Affairs Ministry said, “We note with concern China’s decision to block the proposal to list Masood Azhar…”

The international community is aware that the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed which is proscribed by the United Nations, has been responsible for innumerable terrorist attacks on India including the Pathankot Air Base attack.

“The inability of the international community to list its leader Masood Azhar is an unfortunate blow to the concerted efforts to effectively counter all forms of terrorism, and confirms prevalence of double standards in the fight against terrorism.”

MEA Spokesperson Vikas Swarup also said the decision by Beijing is surprising as China itself has been affected by the scourge of terrorism and has declared opposition to all forms of terrorism.

“As a consequence of this decision, the UN Security Council has again been prevented from acting against the leader of a listed terrorist organisation. We had expected China would have been more understanding of the danger posed to all by terrorism and would join India and others in fighting the common challenge of terrorism,” he added.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 18:10 IST

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee denies rioting in Dhulagarh, blames social media

Kolkata: West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday denied any incident of rioting at Dhulagarh in Howrah district and alleged that “wrong information” was being given on social media.

“In the last 15 days, social media is running wrong information on an incident which did not take place at all,” Banerjee said at a programme in Kolkata, in an apparent refernce to the reports of violence in Dhulagarh, which is barely 20 km from the state secretariat.

“In order to break a news one must not act irresponsibly. If something has really happened then you (media) have every right to report but I think a field survey must be conducted,” she stated.

File photo of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. PTI

File photo of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. PTI

Her remarks came even as a senior government official had said on Thursday that strict actions were taken against those involved in the Dhulagarh violence and the process of giving compensation to the affected had started. The state government, Banerjee said on Friday, is the first to help a family when their home is damaged or they are affected.

“If there is an accident, we immediately take steps to help the family…. We do it on humanitarian grounds but we do not do any publicity.”

It was learnt from sources that the state government was paying compensation of around Rs 35,000 to families whose houses were damaged in the incident.

District police said inhabitants are wary of returning to their homes at Dhulagarh.

Delegations of BJP, CPI(M) and Congress were stopped from visiting the troubled areas of the district and police superintendent of Howrah (Rural) Sabyasachi Raman Mishra was transferred in the wake of violence in less than a fortnight of his appointment.

BJP has hit out at Banerjee over the Dhulagarh incident claiming that Hindus have been targeted in the violence. “This is height of the politics of appeasement. I want to ask those intellectuals, who cried over 2002 riots in Gujarat and then intolerant India, that when are they going to Kolkata,” Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Thursday.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 16:52 IST

BJP, AAP all set for 2017 high-stakes Delhi municipal poll

New Delhi: The high-stakes municipal poll is likely to set the tone for the political battle in the national capital in 2017 in which BJP will seek to retain its turf facing an upbeat AAP which aims to replicate its stunning performance of 2015 in its civic polls debut.

The Arvind Kejriwal-led party had swept the Delhi Assembly elections in 2015 reducing BJP to just three seats while Congress failed to open its account.

The erstwhile unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) was trifurcated in 2012 into North, South and East Corporations.

BJP has been ruling the MCD and the subsequent three civic bodies for nearly 10 years.

The last municipal elections were held in 2012 in which BJP was voted back to power. The civic bye-polls in May saw AAP bagging 5 of the 13 seats, while Congress had made a spirited comeback by winning 4 seats, pushing BJP to third spot.

The three civic bodies, North Delhi Municipal Corporation, South Delhi Municipal Corporation and East Delhi Municipal Corporation constitute 272 seats, with NDMC and SDMC accounting for 104 seats each while 64 seats fall under EDMC.

File photo. PTI

File photo. PTI

The BJP, which dominates the civic bodies, was left with only three seats in the bypolls, signalling that the municipal elections next year could be a keenly-fought contest.

All three parties are gearing up to put their best foot forward, with BJP hoping to retain its turf amid changed political scenario while AAP seeks to replicate its performance, banking on the loyalty and support it earned from the assembly election.

Sanitation, education and health would be some of the major factors that would be weighing on voters mind during the polls.

AAP and BJP have already been at loggerheads over the sanitation and garbage disposal issue in the city, with one side blaming the other for lack of cleanliness in the city.

The Kejriwal-led party aims to target the BJP on sanitation grounds and conditions in unauthorised colonies, where a considerable chunk of voters in the city reside.

Delimitation will change the geography of many wards and AAP, BJP and Congress think that redrawing of the municipal limits could affect the outcome of the civic elections. Civic polls would be considered the litmus test for AAP in Delhi and the contest would be a keenly-watched one.

Besides, urban issues becoming poll planks, 2017 is also set to see Delhi Development Authority’s (DDA) launching its new Housing Scheme with 12,000 flats on offer. The scheme was earlier slated to be launched this Diwali.

Out of the total number of flats, most of them are in Rohini, Dwarka, Narela, Vasant Kunj and Jasola. Ten thousand unoccupied flats are from the 2014 scheme, while 2,000 are other flats which have been lying vacant.

Sources said most of the flats are one-bedroom LIG flats from the last housing scheme and no new flat is on offer this time.

“About 10,000 are LIG flats from 2014 DDA scheme. Unlike EWS (Economically Weaker Section) last time, in 2016 scheme there would be no such category,” a DDA official said.

From application to refund, the DDA this time has planned to make the scheme an online affair to reduce the long queues of flat buyers at its headquarters.

“Yes, plans are underway to make the process completely online,” a source said.

“We are in talks with certain vendors for upgrading our infrastructure to handle the expected increase in traffic. But, we are technologically capable of handling the online rush,” the source said.

The flagship Housing Scheme 2014 offered 25,040 flats across categories, with prices ranging between Rs 7 lakh and Rs 1.2 crore.

The online response had been so massive that the DDA’s official website crashed soon after the launch. The one-bedroom flats were offered in Dwarka, Rohini, Narela and Siraspur areas.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 16:09 IST

Demonetisation broke the myth that the powerful cannot be harmed: Shivraj Singh Chouhan

Bhopal: Terming the demonetisation decision as “historic”, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his “courageous” call broke the myth that powerful people can’t be harmed in the country.

“India witnessed a historic decision on November 8, 2016. This day has given a meaningful reply to the queries raised by the people at large on the style of functioning of governments.”

File image of Shivraj Singh Chouhan. AFP

File image of Shivraj Singh Chouhan. AFP

“Often allegations are levelled against the governments that they can not take tough decisions under pressure. They fear to take decisions that could harm powerful people,” Chouhan said in his blog on the issue on Thursday evening.

“Our PM has broken the myth with his courageous decision to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes,” he said.

“The decision of demonetisation is historic in a way that it surprised everyone and this is the distinct feature of it. India has seen decision of demonetisation twice in the history of 100 years but those decisions gave ample time to the people having black money in the form of currency to change it.

“Thus the main objective of the decision was partially met. This time, however the decision did not give any time to people with black money,” the Chief Minister said.

Those criticising the decision say that it could have been taken with better planning and people should have been given ample time. It is beyond my comprehension as to whom these critics are referring to when they talk of giving time to people, he wrote in the blog.

“Who are those about whom critics say time should have been given to them. It is obvious that they are favouring those who had black money in the form of currency,” Chouhan said.

The decision of the Prime Minister to encourage cashless transaction is to transform the country from a developing nation to a developed one. All the aspects should be examined before criticising such a move, said Chouhan.

The Congress and other political parties say that demonetisation has wrought havoc on farmers and they could not sow on time.

In Madhya Pradesh, this year already sowing has been done on 105 lakh hectare so far as compared to a total of 108 lakh hectare last year. The sowing will further go up to 115 lakh hectare. It is clear that sowing has not been affected, he said.

“Those who opine that cashless transaction is not possible in this country, are challenging the wisdom and capacities of the 120 crore people of the nation without testing it. This is injustice to the people. The last two months have witnessed an impressive 77 percent increase through internet banking in the Central Bank of India in Madhya Pradesh alone,” said the chief minister.

Referring to VAT, he said “Another benefit of cashless transaction is also very clearly perceptible. In December the VAT revenue has increased 14 per cent whereas there was a fall in revenue from other taxes.

“This makes it amply clear that the tax evasion that took place in cash transaction has reduced in cashless transaction. This will improve tax collection and the state governments will be able to spend more on welfare schemes.”

“I have always believed that the people are wise enough to know what is in their interest. They are fully aware that the Prime Minister’s step of demonetisation is a masterstroke against those indulging in amassing black money, anti-national activities and circulating counterfeit currency in the market.

“The people very well understand that this is a step in the interest of the country and are extending wholehearted support to promoting cashless economy. This will definitely help India catch up with the most developed nations,” he added.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 15:17 IST

DMK seeks probe by sitting high court judge into Jayalalithaa’s death

Chennai: A day after a Madras High Court judge expressed doubts over the circumstances leading to the demise of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, DMK on Friday sought a comprehensive probe by a sitting HC judge into the death.

Former Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa. AFP

Former Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa. AFP

“A comprehensive probe must be done by a sitting judge of the High Court and people should be told the truth,” DMK Treasurer MK Stalin said.

Against the backdrop of the court raising questions, he said it was imperative for the government to come out comprehensively on the medical treatment provided to the former AIADMK chief.

In a statement in Chennai, he said complete medical bulletins, video footage and photos of her getting treatment at the hospital should be released.

Citing Justice Vaidyanathan’s observation on Thursday that he may consider ordering exhumation of the body of the departed leader, he said, “it is imperative for the government to release comprehensive information.”

Stalin, who had earlier sought a white paper on the treatment given to Jayalalithaa, said there was no statement from the government ever since she was admitted to the hospital on 22 September.

He said the Centre and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam had a duty to answer questions related to the treatment provided for the late leader. Doctors from Delhi’s AIIMS too had treated her, he said.

If the ruling regime had explained the “true (health) status” of Jayalalithaa and released pictures of her getting treatment, the issue could not have reached the doorsteps of court, he said.

He recalled a statement of his party chief Karunanidhi seeking release of pictures of Jayalalithaa being treated and said, “had the ruling side not viewed it from the prism of politics, the issue would not have come to such a pass”.

Only such activities has cast a “cloud, giving room for suspicion,” among the people, he said, adding it was the right of the people to know about the treatment given to her and the circumstances leading to her death.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 14:52 IST

West Bengal: Howrah road mishap injures 31, leaves four critical

West Bengal: Howrah road mishap injures 31, leaves four critical

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Howrah: At least 31 people were injured when a bus hit a lorry on NH6 due to dense fog in West Bengal’s Howrah district on Friday, police said.

The private bus with a complement of 50 passengers was heading to the beach resort of Digha from Madhyamgram in North 24 Parganas when it hit the lorry from behind at Ashariya village on NH6 near Bagnan, a police officer said.

At least 31 people, including the driver and the helper, were injured and rushed to Uluberia General hospital. The condition of four, including a woman, was stated to be critical, the officer said.

The lorry driver fled with the vehicle but the bus, which sustained damage, has been seized, the officer said.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 13:05 IST

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Kashmir: Separatists call for strike against ID cards for West Pakistan Refugees

Srinagar: Normal life was affected in Kashmir Valley on Friday due to a strike called by separatists against the issuance of identity certificates to West Pakistan Refugees (WPRs).

Representational image. AP

Representational image. AP

Most of the shops, fuel stations and other business establishments in Srinagar — the summer capital of the state — were shut, while public transport was minimal, officials said.

They said there were very few street vendors visible in the city today due to the strike.

Reports of shutdown were also received from most of the other district headquarters of the Valley, the officials said.

Security forces were deployed in strength at sensitive places where barricades were also erected.

The separatists have also been calling for shutdown on Friday and Saturday every week after scaling down their agitation which followed the killing of Hizbul Mujahdeen militant Burhan Wani.

The more than five-month unrest in the Valley had left 86 people dead and thousands others, including 5,000 security personnel, injured.

The separatist groups — both factions of Hurriyat Conference and JKLF — on Thursday appealed the people to observe a complete shutdown on Friday and Saturday over WPR issue.

They alleged that the decision on issuance of identity certificates to WPR was aimed at changing the demography of Jammu and Kashmir.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 12:56 IST

Madhya Pradesh plans to develop 1,100 ‘climate-smart’ villages to help farmers

Bhopal: Madhya Pradesh has embarked on an ambitious plan to develop 1,100 ‘climate-smart’ villages with an aim to prepare farmers to manage the climate change risks timely and ensure good productivity.

“The government has been planning to develop 1,100 villages as climate-smart villages in a period of next six years,” state Farmer Welfare & Agriculture Development Department Principal Secretary Dr Rajesh Rajora told PTI.

He said 100 villages in each of the 11 agro-climatic zones of the state would be taken up under the plan, which would incur a cost about Rs 150 crore every year.

Shivraj Singh Chouhan. PTI

Shivraj Singh Chouhan. PTI

“The work is being taken up under the National Agriculture Development Programme (NADP) and Indian National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture,” he said.

In these villages, the farmers would be encouraged to go for short duration variety of crops, in addition to using drought-resistance seeds.

“The focus would be on integrated agriculture, which comprises animal husbandry, fisheries, in addition to traditional farming. Agro-forestry would also be adopted in these villages,” Rajora said.

Agro-forestry conserves and protects the natural resources as it helps water retention and stops soil erosion.

He said integrated nutrients management would also be implemented to help in soil fertility and plant nutrients supply through optimisation of all possible sources of organic, inorganic and biological components.

“In addition, the integrated pest management, zero tillage, raised bed gardening techniques and micro-irrigation would also be introduced in the climate smart villages. This would help farmers to increase the productivity amid all challenges of climate change,” he said.

Zero tillage technique is a way of growing crops time and again without disturbing the soil through ploughing, another agriculture expert said.

“The micro-irrigation systems like drip and sprinklers would not only reduce the water use but also lessen the use of fertilisers and energy,” he said.

Rajora said the state government would seek help of International Crops Research Institute for Semi Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), an international NGO working in the field of agriculture, and Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), a global agriculture research partnership.

“The Centre has set ICRISAT, the UN organisation, as nodal agency for developing the climate-smart villages. We would also seek expertise from scientists of two agriculture universities at Jabalpur and Gwalior in addition to state government’s scientists in various district headquarters,” he said.

According to agriculture department officials, various equipment and sensors would also be used in these villages to help the farmers.

The state government has already announced to open a soil testing laboratory at the block level. A plan is also on the anvil to provide soil health cards to farmers under state government’s efforts to double farmers’ income in five years.

To ensure sustainable agriculture growth, MP has also constituted a ‘Krishi (agriculture) Cabinet’ for the purpose.

The cabinet includes ministers of agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry, fisheries, cooperatives, water resources, Narmada valley development, energy, panchayat, rural development and SC/ST welfare departments.

MP had also received Krishi Karman award for 2014-15, the fourth during past five years, for increasing the food grains production and productivity by 254 lakh tonnes and 1,719 kg per hectare, respectively.

The state government also claimed to have increased the irrigated agriculture area to 40 lakh hectares from 7 lakh hectares in 2003.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 11:17 IST

Kejriwal says he is not scared of any probe, dares Centre to accept Sahara diaries investigation

Kejriwal says he is not scared of any probe, dares Centre to accept Sahara diaries investigation

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New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday dared the Centre to get all the appointments made by his government probed after the CBI filed an FIR into the appointment of city Health Minister Satyendar Jain’s OSD.

Arvind Kejriwal. Getty Images

Arvind Kejriwal. Getty Images

Asserting that he was not afraid of any probe, the AAP chief also wondered whether the Centre would accept a Delhi government-appointed committee to look into the Sahara Birla papers.

Kejriwal alleged that the CBI has filed “seven FIRs” against Jain and “two” against Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, but did not elaborate.

In fresh trouble for the AAP government, the CBI has filed an FIR into the appointment of Jain’s OSD while the LG office has recommended a probe by the agency into the appointment of his daughter Soumya Jain as a functionary in the Mohalla Clinic project.

“You (Centre) make your committee and get all our appointments probed. And we will form one, and you get the Sahara Birla matter probed with it. Agree?”

“We are not scared of any probe as we have not done any wrong. Then why are you scared of a probe?” Kejriwal tweeted.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 10:59 IST

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India’s first transgender college principal resigns citing ‘non-cooperation’ from staff

Krishnagar: India’s first transgender college principal Manabi Bandopadhyay has submitted her resignation after about one-and-a-half years in office, expressing frustration at “non-cooperation” of a section of teachers and students of her institution.

Nadia District Magistrate Sumit Gupta on Thursday said he had received her letter of resignation from the post of Principal of Krishnagar Women’s College in the district on December 27 and forwarded it to the state Higher Education department on Wednesday.

Manabi Bandhopadhyay. Image courtesy: FacebookManabi Bandhopadhyay. Image courtesy: Facebook

Manabi Bandhopadhyay. Image courtesy: Facebook

Manabi alleged that she started facing non-cooperation from a section of teachers soon after she took over as the principal of the well-known women’s college on 9 June, 2015.

On the other hand, the teachers also levelled the same allegation against the principal, resulting in a standoff.

A four-member team, led by Joint Director of Public Instruction (DPI) RP Bhattacharjee, visited the college recently on a fact-finding mission and talked to the principal and teachers.

Manabi said, “All of my colleagues went against me. Some of the students went against me. I tried to bring back discipline and an atmosphere of education in the college. Most probably, that is why they went against me. I always got co-operation from the local administration, but never got it from my colleagues and students.”

She went on to say that she had been under tremendous mental pressure and could not take it anymore, forcing her to resign.

“I feel tired due to the agitation and gherao by the students and teachers. I faced a lot of legal notices from their end. I had come to this college with new hopes and dreams but I was defeated…,” she said.

Manabi (51), whose earlier name was Somnath, underwent a series of operations in 2003-2004 and became a woman. In 1995, she published the country’s first transgender magazine, Ob-Manab (sub-human).

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 09:30 IST

Demonetisation Day 50: Deadline to deposit old Rs 500, Rs 1,000 notes ends today; crunch to continue

New Delhi: The 50-day deadline to deposit the old Rs 500/1,000 notes in banks comes to an end today but the cash crunch and queues before ATMs are likely to continue for some more time as currency printing presses have failed to meet the huge demand for new bills.

People, however, will still have time to exchange the currency notes at designated RBI counters till March 31 after giving valid reasons for not depositing defunct notes in their accounts by December 30.

The government is also planning to come out with an Ordinance making possession of old Rs 500/1,000 notes beyond a specified limit for numismatic purposes illegal and punishable.

PTIPTI

PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a surprise announcement on 8 November declared the old Rs 500 and 1,000 notes invalid.

The banks started accepting deposits in scrapped notes from November 10. However, very few ATMs opened on 11 November, as most of the machines had to be recalibrated for people
to get cash which was available in Rs 2,000 denomination.

Saddled with cash crunch, banks resorted to rationing of valid currency notes and fixed a withdrawal limit of Rs 24,000 per account in a week. Although the overall situation at banks has improved, ATMs still have to do some catching up. Many cash vending machines are still out of cash even after 50 days since demonetisation.

The government move was sharply criticised by the Opposition parties led by Congress and TMC.

With every passing day, the number of circulars from the government or the Reserve Bank kept on rising that led to confusion among bankers as well as the public. Bankers believe that restrictions on withdrawal of cash from banks and ATMs are likely to continue beyond December 30.

After the demonetisation, the government had fixed a limit of Rs 24,000 per week on withdrawal from bank accounts and Rs 2,500 per day from ATMs in view of the currency crunch.
The government and the RBI has not specified when the restrictions will be withdrawn. Finance Secretary Ashok Lavasa had said the withdrawal cap would be reviewed after December
30.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 09:01 IST

Maharashtra: Govt to shut down liquor shops on national, state highways, says prepared to incur losses

Mumbai: Maharashtra government will implement the Supreme Court’s verdict of 15 December that directed all the states to shut down all liquor shops and vends on national and state highways.

State Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar cited the rising number of deaths in road accidents in the state while stating that the liquor shops on state and national highways will be closed.

“Maximum number of deaths due to road accidents were due to drunken driving. The SC verdict effectively means that 12,967 liquor shops in the state that fall within the 500 meter radius will have to shut down after March 31, 2017,” he told reporters in Mumbai.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Asked about the contention of the liquor lobby about revenue loss, Mungantiwar said, “anyway they are not in the business of selling holy water.”

The minister also said that the Maharashtra government was prepared to incur the loss in its revenue and will implement the order of the apex court.

“Out of the total 16,856 deaths in 2015-16, 13,212 deaths were road accident deaths and again out of that maximum of them were due to drunken driving,” Mungantiwar claimed. Meanwhile, officials said due to demonetisation, the department anticipates a 4.88 per cent decline in revenue between 1to 20 December.

As per State Excise departments data, the department had fixed the revenue income out of liquor for 2016 at Rs 15,343.96 crore.

The department had posted a revenue income of Rs 1,024.57 crore in November 2015, whereas the revenue income in November this year was Rs 1,027.35 crore, a rise of 0.27 per cent, shows the data.

As per the data, between 1 December to 20 December, 2015, the department posted a revenue income of Rs 670.25 crore, while the revenue for the same corresponding period this December stands at Rs 637.57 crore, a deficit of 4.88 percent.

Out of the total 12,967 liquor shops that will face closure after March 31, 2017, Pune district has maximum of 3,932 establishments, officials said. Of these 2,499 are in Nagpur, 2,225 in Kolhapur, , 2,224 in Aurangabad, 1,480 in Konkan region and 1,347 in Nashik district, they said.

There are a total of 24,572 country liquor, wine shops, permit rooms, clubs, beer shops, beer and wine serving outlets in the state, said officials.

According to them, the government has also directed its Superintendents of State Excise not to approve One Day temporary licenses (FL-4) to clubs that come within the radius of 500 meters from the boundaries of national, state highways and service roads.

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 22:18 IST

RBI refuses to give reasons behind demonetisation

New Delhi: Why were Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes demonetised by the government? Fifty days after the government announced that these notes would cease to be legal tender, Reserve Bank of India feels that the reasons behind the sudden announcement cannot be made public.

The monetary policy regulator also refused to give any details about the time it will take to replenish the currency notes.

Reserve Bank of India (RBI). ReutersReserve Bank of India (RBI). Reuters

Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Reuters

“The query is in the nature of seeking future date of an event which is not defined as information as per Section 2(f) of the RTI Act,” RBI said in response to an RTI query. The Bankers’ Bank refused to disclose reasons behind the demonetisation of about Rs 20 lakh crore of currency in the country citing Section 8(1)(a) of the Right to Information Act.

The section states, “Information, disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign State or lead to incitement of an offence.”

Denying the information sought in the RTI application, the RBI did not give any reasons as to how exemption would apply in the given case
as the decision was already taken and there was no way that disclosure of information would have fit in any of the reasons cited in section
8(1)(a) of the RTI Act.

“The clause of public interest would apply where exemption clause applies on the information sought by an applicant. In the present case,
the information sought does not attract any exemption clause,” former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi told PTI.

He said law is very clear that when a public authority rejects to disclose an information it must give clear reasons as to how the exemption clause would apply in the given case.

Recently, it had refused to allow access to minutes of meetings held to decide on the issue of demonetisation of Rs 1000 and Rs 500
notes announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8.

Responding to an RTI application filed by activist Venkatesh Nayak, the Banker’s Bank refused to disclose the minutes of the crucial
meetings of Central Board of Directors on the issue of demonetisation citing section 8(1)(a) of the transparency law.

Nayak said he will appeal against the decision, adding, while confidentiality prior to the making of the demonetisation decision is
understandable, continued secrecy after the implementation of the decision is difficult to understand when crores of Indians are facing
difficulties due to the shortage of cash in the economy.

He said the refusal to disclose the minutes of the board meeting where the decision was taken is perplexing to say the very least.
Former Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi also underlined that RBI has created an in­house “disclosure policy” which is against
the letter and spirit of the RTI Act.

Gandhi has also filed a complaint before Central Information Commission against RBI for adopting the policy.

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 20:03 IST

Demonetisation ordinance: Minimum Rs 10,000 fine for holding old notes, no jail term

New Delhi: Government has made holding of more than 10 junked Rs 500/1000 notes a penal offence punishable with a minimum Rs 10,000 fine, but the harsher four-year jail term has been dropped.

The Specified Bank Notes Cessation of Liabilities Ordinance, approved yesterday by the Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, allows individuals to hold no more than 10 notes of the old currency. It allows 25 such currencies to be held by research scholars.

ReutersReuters

Reuters

Top sources said the ordinance, which will be sent to the President for his assent shortly, will come into effect from December 31.

It provides for making holding of old 1,000 and 500 rupee notes after March 31 a criminal offence that will attract a fine of Rs 10,000 or five times the cash held, whichever is higher.

Furnishing wrong information while depositing the old currency between January 1 and March 31 — a window provided only for exigencies — will attract a fine of Rs 5,000 or five times the amount, whichever is higher.

The ordinance also provides for amending the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Act to provide legislative support for extinguishing the demonetised banknotes that are not returned. The 50-day window for depositing the old notes in bank accounts and post offices expires tomorrow.

While the high-denomination currency ceased to be a legal tender from midnight of November 8, 2016, a mere notification was not thought to be enough to end the central bank’s liability and avoid future litigations.

Currency notes carry RBI’s promise to pay the bearer the amount of the value of the note, a pledge that can be nullified only by legislation after giving due opportunity to everyone to return old notes.

Sources said the proposal for a four-year jail term for anyone possessing large number of demonetised currency after March 31, 2017 was not approved.

The ordinance, which will have to be converted into proper legislation by passing of a law in Parliament within six months, makes possession, transfer or receiving an amount of over Rs 10,000 in the now-demonetised 500 and 1,000-rupee notes a punishable offence.

Sources said while the deadline for the deposit of old currency in bank or post office accounts expires on Friday, time till March 31 is available for doing so at select RBI counters with stiff conditions. This facility is for people who were abroad, armed forces personnel posted in remote areas or others who can give valid reasons for not being able to deposit the cancelled notes at banks till December 30.

While announcing the demonetisation of the old currency on November 8, the government had allowed holders to either exchange them or deposit in bank and post office accounts.

In 1978, a similar Ordinance was issued to end the government’s liability after Rs 1,000, Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000 notes were demonetised by the Morarji Desai-led government.

Sources said the legal amendments are needed every time the government decides to scrap any legal tender to put an end to its promissory note.

Of the Rs 15.4 lakh crore worth of currency that was scrapped, about Rs 14 lakh crore has been deposited in banks or exchanged.

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 19:43 IST

Demonetisation: 60 lakh depositors put Rs 7 lakh cr in banks since 8 Nov

New Delhi: Armed with information about Rs 7 lakh crore deposits made by some 60 lakh individuals and companies, the government today warned of hauling up anyone unable to show legal means saying mere depositing in bank does not convert black money into white.

Top officials said while the government will not hound any genuine depositor, it will not hesitate to litigate at any forum to catch any black money holder trying to convert illegal wealth into white.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Post demonetisation, unaccounted wealth holders have an option to avail of a tax evasion amnesty scheme Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) and pay their dues, failing which the government’s long arms will surely catch them, they said.

“People are thinking that money has come into the banking system and it has all become white. This is not so. We have been getting daily information of all the deposits above Rs 2 lakh, Rs 5 lakh and the number and amount deposited and we have been collating this information with past information about the same person,” a top government official told PTI.

“So, there is a huge scope for taxing now which has arisen and we do hope that people will understand that simply because they have put in bank it has become white that is not the case. We do hope that people themselves will come forward to participate in the scheme. But if they don’t, they are not going to be happy,” the official further said.

The tax department is armed with systems to track those with multiple banks accounts as well as those who are depositing in accounts of others and tax department will not leave anyone who is trying to evade taxes, he added.

“Even if you take deposits of more than Rs 2 lakh, we have information about more then 60 lakh individuals, companies and institutions who have deposited more than Rs 7 lakh crore of money. That’s an astonishing number. We will be looking at it. For individuals the deposit figure would be Rs 3-4 lakh crore. “We do expect a lot of revenue buoyancy because of this either in this year or in subsequent years but nobody will go scot-free,” the official said.

Following the demonetisation of 500 and 1,000 rupee notes on November 8, government has come out with PMGKY under which people can disclose unaccounted cash and come clean by paying 50 per cent tax. Besides the scheme provides for a mandatory deposit of 25 per cent of such income in the zero-interest bearing Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Deposit Scheme, 2016, for four years.

PMGKY commenced on December 17 and shall remain open for declarations and deposits up to March 31, 2017.

The official said that tax department is doing data analytics. The purpose of demonetisation was to bring the money into the banking system so that there is a money trail with regard to the anonymous cash holding.

“We don’t want to send any inspector to people but at least we would like people to know that we know about them. Now this is a big change. Earlier, people used to keep a lot of black money and think that nobody knows about it. Now, the entire black money has come into the banking system,” he said.

The official said that at least 70 per cent of bank accounts have PAN numbers and are linked with Aadhar, and hence all deposits can be easily tracked. Besides, RBI has already asked banks within two months all accounts have to be linked with PAN or else there will be restrictions.

“It is better to disclose the deposits under the PMGKY and pay the tax rather than keep it hidden as the tax department will eventually be able to track them,” the official said.

The PMGKY scheme provides an opportunity to persons having undisclosed income in the form of cash or deposit in an account maintained with a specified entity (which includes banks and post office) to declare such income and pay tax, surcharge and penalty totaling in all to 49.9 per cent of such declared income.

Besides, the scheme provides that a mandatory deposit of not less than 25 per cent of such income shall be made in the zero-interest bearing Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Deposit Scheme, 2016, for four years.

“When there is a scheme of 50 per cent tax payment available, no one should keep money at home. Unless it is a case of corrupt officer he doesn’t disclose. Business people will put money in bank and relax,” the official added.

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 17:42 IST

2016 for MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan: Simi activists encounter, Hindutva politics dominated the year

Bhopal: 2016 saw Shivraj Singh Chouhan firmly in the saddle as he completed his 11th year as Madhya Pradesh chief minister though he had to grapple with the situation arising out of the controversial police encounter in which eight suspected Simi activists were killed.

Chouhan also managed to win back RSS’ confidence after all did not seem to be well following police allegedly beating up Sangh pracharak Suresh Yadav in September at Balaghat district over a WhatsApp message with communal overtones.

He was also upbeat after CBI, the prosecution agency in the multi-crore Vyapam admission and recruitment scam, told the apex court that the electronic evidence in the rip-off was not tampered with.

The Congress has been alleging that the electronic evidence in the scam were tampered with by the state police to save Chouhan and his family.

Cow vigilantes too were seen in action in the first half of the year and in one such case, two Muslim women were beaten up at Mandsaur railway station on suspicion of carrying beef in July.

The state witnessed communal unrest in some parts.

After the encounter killings of suspected Simi activists who had mysteriously escaped the highly-fortified central jail here on Diwali night allegedly killing a security guard, questions were raised but Chouhan’s defence was that the police action was taken “for public good”.

File photo of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. AFP

File photo of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. AFP

Minutes after the encounter, Chouhan, who seldom speaks to the media, hurriedly convened a press conference to dub the undertrials as “terrorists” who posed a serious threat to society after escaping from the jail.

After the encounter, Muslims huddled in a mosque, on being denied permission to hold a public meeting. They claimed the killing was stage-managed.

Earlier, the community had often found the moderate Chouhan in their midst on Eids, once wearing a Muslim skull cap which Prime Minister Narendra Modi had refused to don.

After initial resistance, the state government agreed to a judicial probe into the encounter after the outcry and criticism by media and public.

The month-long Simhasta-Kumbh mela in the ancient city of Ujjain in April-May too made a political splash when BJP chief Amit Shah took a holy dip with the Dalit seers.

This drew the wrath of seers who said they were being divided on caste line for the first time.

The event also took a political hue with Congress blaming BJP for hijacking the event for political gain and siphoning off crores of rupees from the state exchequer.

Besides, the mela, considered to be one of the biggest congregations of Hindus, saw the participation of eunuchs for the first time despite the reservation of Hindu clerics.

After police action on Suresh Yadav, local Sangh Parivar leaders took to the streets in Balaghat and a confrontation between the RSS and the Chouhan government seemed imminent.

To mollify the RSS, the state government booked Balaghat Additional Superintendent of Police and other policemen and charged them with attempt to murder. The accused policemen, still at large, were suspended.

But RSS apparently wanted more. Finally, the Chouhan government shunted out Inspector General of Police and Superintendent of Police from Balaghat to placate it.

As the lower rungs of Sangh Parivar were still frowning, Chouhan flagged off a 5-month-long yatra from Amarkantak in Anuppur district – the origin of river Narmada – on December 11 with RSS at the helm of the event.

The event, called Narmada Seva Yatra, ostensibly aimed at turning the river pollution-free and maintaining the sanctity of the water body considered to be holy in Hindu scriptures.

At the start of the yatra, RSS general secretary Bhaiyaji Joshi heaped praises on Chouhan for his deep faith and respect for the holy river.

Then on December 19, in an apparent endorsement, senior RSS functionary Alok Kumar said Madhya Pradesh was a laboratory of Sangh Parivar’s ‘ekathma manavad’ (integral humanism).

Twenty-eight people hailing from the state perished in the derail incident of Indore-Patna Express near Kanpur on 20 November.

After 32 years of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, victims of the world’s worst industrial disasters and the organisations helping them rejoiced on December 7 when a local court issued notices to the then district collector and the then superintendent of police for allegedly helping Union Carbide Corporation CEO Warren Anderson to escape from the state capital and criminal prosecution in December 1984.

Anderson who died last year was facing charges of criminal liability in the compensation case for the disaster.

BJP also won a number of by-polls in the state that were held during the year including Shahdol (ST) Lok Sabha seat and three assembly seats.

During the end of the year, Aam Aadmi Party national convenor Arvind Kejriwal held a public meeting here. AAP has already raised cadres in several parts of the state with an eye on the 2018 assembly polls.

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 14:57 IST

China hopeful of better ties with India in 2017, says committed to dissolve outstanding differences

Beijing: China hopes for better ties with India in 2017 by resolving differences over India’s admission into elite Nuclear Suppliers Group and listing of JeM chief Masood Azhar as terrorist by the UN as the two nations signed off their most engaging year bogged down by the twin issues.

“This year has seen a steady development of China-India relations, with the two countries marching towards the goal of building a more closely-knit partnership for development,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told PTI summing up Beijing’s perception of the outgoing year and its vision of Sino-Indian ties for the next year.

“The leadership of the two countries have maintained frequent contacts” despite the differences, she said, referring to a number of meetings between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping at multilateral foras like G-20 and BRICS summit.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

She said that the dialogues and consultations have been going on in an orderly fashion at all levels and practical cooperation in various fields has been carried out steadily.

“As close neighbours, it is natural for our two big countries to have differences, and we have been exploring ways to resolve them through diplomatic channels. The main theme of China-India relations remains friendship and cooperation,” she said, holding out hope for a more fruitful year for bilateral ties next year with the resolution of the two major issues.

“For the year 2017, China would like to work with India for better implementation of the important consensus reached between the leadership, greater political mutual trust, wider mutually beneficial cooperation and properly management of differences so as to ensure a sustained and steady development of China-India relations,” she said.

The strength of the deep diplomatic engagement between the two sides virtually begins with the New Year as China’s second “technical hold” on India’s application for listing Azhar as terrorist under UN’s 1267 Committee will expire on 31 December, opening a new window for both the countries to address the issue which cast a shadow on Beijing’s claim to fight terrorism in all forms as the Pakistan-based

Jaish-e-Muhammad is already listed by the UN as terror group. With the end of the second technical hold by China, India is expected to submit a fresh application backed by a charge sheet filed recently by the National Investigation Agency against Azhar for his involvement in the Pathankot terror attack.

The charge sheet was expected to further reinforce India’s case for a UN ban against Azhar. Other members of the Committee including UNSC permanent members, US, Russia, France and UK had backed it earlier.

Indian officials hope that the charge sheet provides strong basis for the case for China to take a relook as Beijing in the past argued that sufficient evidence has not been provided.

“Listing in the 1267 Committee must be in line with the relevant resolutions of the UNSC and the rules of procedure of the Committee,” Hua had said, replying to question on Azhar’s issue days after NIA filed charge sheet.

On India’s admission into the Nuclear Suppliers Group too Indian and Chinese officials hope for a way out next year as China, after blocking India’s bid, began an exercise to work out a “non-discriminatory formula” to admit new members.

It is unclear yet whether a formula can be worked out where the other members of the NSG will agree for admission of China’s close ally Pakistan, whose record in nuclear proliferation during the time of its disgraced nuclear scientist Dr AQ Khan will be a stumbling block.

China is advocating a two step approach for admission of countries who have not signed nuclear-Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in the NSG. As per the new stand announced by Beijing last month, it first wants to find a solution that is applicable to the admission of all non-NPT members followed by discussions to admit specific non-NPT member.

Indian officials say it will make it another engaging year in Sino-Indian diplomacy on both Azhar and NSG fronts and hope that it would not be a futile exercise as happened this year.

However, even after the resolution of the two issues, the larger issues like the USD 46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor remain. Modi himself raised this issue with Xi during their meeting at the Chinese city of Hangzhou in September.

Significantly, as the year draws to a close, Lt Gen Amir Riaz, Commander of the Pakistan’s Southern Command which is based in Quetta, asked India to “shun enmity” with Pakistan and “join the USD 46-billion CPEC along with Iran, Afghanistan and other Central Asian countries and enjoy its benefits”.

Chinese officials say Riaz’s comments are significant as they point to the backing of the Pakistan army.

Hua said China is open for such a proposal and wondered “what is India’s take on this whether this is a good sign from Pakistan”.

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 14:50 IST

1993 Bombay blasts case: HC refuses furlough to convict Rubina Menon

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has rejected the plea of 1993 Mumbai serial blasts convict Rubina Suleman Memon, seeking her release on furlough.

“We are not inclined to release the petitioner (Rubina) on furlough as she had been convicted by a TADA court for her involvement in terrorist activities,” said a bench of Justice VK Tahilramani and AM Badar in a recent judgement.

Rubina is also sister-in-law of Tiger Memon, believed to be living in Pakistan and one of the prime conspirators of the serial blasts that had rocked the city in March, 1993, claiming 257 lives and injuring more than 700 others.

Rubina was sentenced to life imprisonment along with three other family members by a Mumbai TADA Court in 2006, while her husband Sulieman was acquitted due to lack of evidence. Her brother-in-law Yakub was sent to the gallows on terror charges.

File image of Bombay high court. IBNlive

File image of Bombay high court. IBNlive

Rubina, currently lodged in Pune’s Yerwada prison, had applied to jail authorities for furlough leave on 22 January 2015. However, her plea was rejected on 15 January 2016. Aggrieved, she filed an appeal which was dismissed in May this year. Thereafter, she moved the High Court by a writ petition seeking furlough leave, which was rejected last week.

Rubina’s lawyer Farhana Shah argued that the three co-accused, who have also been convicted under TADA in the same case, have been released from jail temporary on leave.

They are Sardar Shahwali Khan, who was released on furlough on 9 June 2014, Nasir Abdul Kadar, who was given furlough leave on 27 June 2014 and Isa Abdul Razak Memon, who was also released on furlough on 10 June 2016, Farhana said.

As the three co-accused, who were similarly placed with Rubina in the 1993 bomb blast case, had been given furlough leave, the petitioner should also be given the same facility, i.e furlough leave, Farhana argued.

Additional Public prosecutor HJ Dedia submitted that Rubina’s application for furlough was rejected under Rule 4(4) of the Prisons (Bombay Furlough and Parole) Rules, 1959.

This Rule states that prisoners whose release is not recommended by Commissioner of Police or District Magistrate on the ground of public peace and tranquility, shall not be granted furlough.

The prosecutor said that in the order jail authorities rejecting Rubina’s furlough, it was stated that the petitioner is wife of brother of Yakub Memon. She will spend her period of furlough in Mahim area in Mumbai, where people of all communities reside.

“If she is released on parole people will turn up to meet her in large numbers and there would be a law and order problem, particularly in view of the fact that during the funeral of Yakub Memon, a huge crowd had turned up,” the order stated.

The prosecutor also pointed out that as Rubina has been convicted under TADA hence under Rule 4(13) of Prison Tules, she would not be entitled to be released on furlough, as this rule states that prisoners who are convicted for terrorist crime shall not be released.

The prosecutor argued that admittedly, the petitioner (Rubina) is convicted under TADA, hence, she is not entitled to be released on furlough. He pointed out that the Bombay High court in two decisions has held that sub rule 13 to Rule 4 is not ultra virus.

Accepting the prosecutor’s argument, the high court rejected the furlough leave petition of Rubina Memon.

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 14:10 IST

Demonetisation: RBI now gives borrowers additional 90 days to repay loans

In further relief to people hit by demonetisation, the Reserve Bank on Wednesday gave borrowers another 30 days over and above 60 days for repayment of housing, car, farm and other loans worth up to Rs 1 crore.

“On a review, it has been decided to provide 30 days, in addition to the 60 days provided (on November 21),” the RBI said in a notification.

ReutersReuters

Reuters

So, borrowers together get 90 days breather from getting the account classified under non-performing asset (NPA) category.

The above dispensation will apply to dues payable between 1 November, and December 31, 2016, it said.

The surprise announcement made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 8 November to scrap Rs 500 and 1,000 notes resulted in a cash crunch in the market leading to slowdown in business. As a result, the repayment capacity of the borrowers were impacted and there was fear of loan default rising.

The demonetisation of higher value currency notes has affected normal banking activities including clearing of cheques. Besides, borrowers are unable to get payments from their creditors due to various restrictions including cash withdrawal limit of Rs 24,000 per week, limiting their options to repay their dues.

According to the RBI notification, running working capital accounts or crop loans with the sanctioned limit of Rs 1 crore or less would be eligible for this benefit. Besides, it said, “Term loans for business purposes, secured or otherwise, the original sanctioned amount whereof is Rs 1 crore or less, on the books of any bank or any NBFC, including NBFC (MFI). This shall include agriculture loans.”

The apex bank further said that all regulated entities are permitted to defer the downgrade of an account that was standard as on 1 November, but would have become NPA for any reason between November and December by 90 days from the date of such downgrade.

The additional time of 90 days will only apply to defer the classification of an existing standard asset as sub-standard and not for delaying the migration of an account across sub-categories of NPA. Dues payable after 1 January, 2017 will be covered by the instructions for the respective entities.

Last month, the RBI had provided additional 60 days for repayment of loans worth up to Rs 1 crore. Separately, the central bank came out this special dispensation for farm loan earlier this week.

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 07:48 IST

Ratan Tata makes surprise visit to RSS headquarters in Nagpur, meets Mohan Bhagwat

Nagpur: Locked in a bitter boardroom battle with ousted Tata group chairman Cyrus Mistry, industrialist Ratan Tata made a surprise visit, his first, to the RSS headquarters here on Wednesday.

Ratan Tata. ReutersRatan Tata. Reuters

Ratan Tata. Reuters

Accompanied by BJP spokesperson Shaina NC, the septugenarian corporate leader visited RSS headquarters Hedgewar Bhavan at Reshimbaug in the afternoon.

Earlier, he was received by RSS functionaries on his arrival at the airport.

Tata, currently the interim chairman of Tata Sons, the country’s biggest conglomerate, had a 20-minute-long meeting with RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, a senior Sangh functionary told PTI.

What transpired at the meeting was, however, not known.

Before proceeding for the RSS headquarters for talks with Bhagwat, 79-year-old Tata paid his tributes to its founder Keshav Baliram Hedgewar at a memorial to him in the city.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 22:41 IST

As Kashmir violence threatens to start anew, new state DGP SP Vaid has his task cut out

Jammu: With local miltancy gaining ground in the Kashmir Valley, SP Vaid, a highly decorated police officer who helped tackle the recent unrest in the region, was appointed the new director general of police of Jammu and Kashmir.

He will take over from K Rajendra Kumar, whose extended tenure comes to an end on 31 December.

Stone pelting in Kashmir Valley. ReutersStone pelting in Kashmir Valley. Reuters

The Kashmir Valley witnessed violent clashes . Reuters

The task for 57-year-old Vaid, who is the current special director general (law and order), is cut out as the local youths are again taking up arms, especially after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani, whose killing by the security forces triggered the latest round of turmoil in Kashmir.

A 1986 batch IPS officer, Vaid will hold office till October 2019. “My focus will be to keep the flag of the police force flying high in the state,” he told PTI after his appointment.

He said that while the police will be tough against the perpetrators of violence and terrorists, “I will ensure that no common man is harassed. My idea is to make the police more and more people friendly,” he said.

Vaid is the second officer from Jammu to have risen to the post of director general of police, after MM Khajuria, who held the postion in 1985. However, he is the first regular IPS recruit to become the DGP from Jammu, as Khajuria had been absorbed in the IPS from the state cadre.

The state, according to intelligence reports, has more than 200 local and foreign militants with infiltration and local recruitment crossing all pervious records. The prolonged unrest following Wani’s killing also had a bearing on anti-militancy operations.

In the aftermath of Wani’s killing, law and order situation had spiralled out of control and the state government, while taking a serious note of it, shifted him from the position of DG (prisons) and made him Special DG (law and order). After taking over the charge, he camped in Kashmir and initiated various measures to make optimum use of the force so as to check rising casualties of both civilians and security forces through police-public interaction programmes in almost all districts of the Valley.

Vaid was seriously injured when militants ambushed his vehicle in March 1999 near Sopore crossing on the Srinagar-Baramulla highway. He was the then range DIG of Baramulla-Kupwara in North Kashmir.

During his career, Vaid has received several medals including President’s Police Medal for distinguished service, Indian Police Medal for gallantry, Police Medal for meritorious service, Indian Army Chief’s citation and Antrik Suraksha Seva Padak by the Home Ministry.

Rajendra, a 1984 batch IPS officer, was granted an extension for three months in September this year.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 21:53 IST

Pakistan: Chinese-assisted 340 MW nuclear power plant inaugurated in Punjab province

Islamabad: Power-starved Pakistan on Wednesday received a major boost as a China-backed 340 MW nuclear power plant in its Punjab province was inaugurated by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who termed it as an “important milestone” in the government’s efforts to end the menace of load shedding.

The fourth nuclear plant Chashma-3 is located about 250 kilometres southwest of capital Islamabad at Chashma in Mianwali district where another plant Chashma-IV is also being built.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Sharif described the completion of C-3 as “another important milestone in the journey to eliminate the menace of load shedding from the country,” Radio Pakistan reported. He said the project is reflective of closer cooperation between Pakistan and China in science and technology.

“This cooperation is also beginning of a new era of development in the region,” he said. Sharif expressed confidence that Chashma-IV nuclear power plant would also become operational before its deadline of mid next year.

Chashma two and three power plants are the most efficient plants in the country, providing more than 600 MW of electricity to the national grid. Pakistan’s first nuclear plant was supplied by Canada in 1972.

Sharif appreciated Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) for its efforts for self reliance in fuel fabrication and said his government would extend every possible assistance to the Commission to help overcome the shortage of electricity in the country.

Referring to the generation target of 8,800 MW of nuclear energy by 2030, Sharif urged the Commission to accept the challenge of producing more than the target and play its full role in the development of the country.

Noting that there has been a marked reduction in load shedding during the last three years, Sharif pledged that the menace of load shedding would be over in 2018. Sharif said generation of additional 2200 MW of electricity through K-II and K-III would contribute towards this effort.

Pakistan has been grappling with power shortage and the unusually long hours of power outages has been haunting its people for about a decade. Sharif urged PAEC to take all possible measures to strengthen safety of existing and future power plants as per international standards.

Sharif thanked China for extending cooperation in nuclear field and said the two countries are actively cooperating in many other areas, including construction of roads, motorways, airports and upgradation of Pakistan Railways.

He said many projects were initiated under CPEC and their impact was now visible.

These projects are being implemented speedily and this would result in overcoming challenges of unemployment, poverty, backwardness and accelerating the pace of socio economic development, besides bringing all regions of the country more closer, he said.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 20:27 IST

New NSG draft bill may ease India’s entry into elite group

Washington: A draft proposal for accepting new members into the Nuclear Suppliers Group paves the way for India’s entry but leaves Pakistan out, says a US-based arms control organisation.

The Arms Control Association (ACA), Washington, also warns that relaxing membership rules will undermine non-proliferation.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Last week, the US media reported that Rafael Mariano Grossi, a former chairman of the NSG, had prepared a two-page document, explaining how a non-NPT state, like India and Pakistan, could join the group. Grossi was acting on behalf of the current chairman, Song Young-wan of South Korea, and his document enjoys a semi-official status, Dawn reported.

To prevent India from blocking Pakistan from joining the NPT, Grossi’s draft note proposes that “one non-NPT member state should reach an understanding not to block consensus on membership for another non-NPT member state”.

But ACA’s Executive Director Daryl Kimball warns that “Pakistan still has grounds to object to the formula outlined by Grossi”.

He explains that the document will require Pakistan to meet the same criteria for membership as India “but, to engage in civil nuclear trade with NSG states, it would have to win a separate NSG exemption from the full-scope safeguards requirement”.

India is seeking membership of the NSG on the strength of the fact that it is already doing business with NSG members.

The 48-nation NSG is a nuclear technology control organisation formed in 1975 in response to India’s first nuclear weapons test, which used plutonium produced with nuclear technology from Canada and the US. The NSG seeks to prevent similar future misuses.

Current NSG membership rules require a state to sign the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) before joining this exclusive club. India remains one of only three countries, with Israel and Pakistan, never to have signed the NPT.

Earlier this year, India formally applied for membership and was followed by Pakistan. The US, and a host of other powerful western nations, back India’s application, but China and half a dozen other nations are blocking India’s membership, which requires a consensus of all members.

India hoped to join the group during NSG’s last plenary session, held in Seoul in June this year, but the meeting ended without taking any decision on New Delhi’s application.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 19:08 IST

India to liberalise visa rules for Bangladeshis to promote tourism

Dhaka: In a bid to ease the procurement of Indian tourist visas for Bangladeshis, India will now allow those with confirmed travel tickets to submit their visa applications directly without prior appointments.

“As part of ongoing efforts to streamline, liberalise and ease the process of securing Indian visas, the High Commission of India will allow all Bangladesh travellers with confirmed air, train or bus tickets to submit their tourist visa applications without e-token or prior appointment dates from 1 January 2017,” the Indian High Commission here said in a press release on Wednesday.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“The date of journey should be after seven days but within one month of submission of the visa application form,” it said.

The Indian Visa Application Centre in Mirpur will receive walk-in tourist visa applications from confirmed travellers and senior citizens from 1 January.

Those who already have appointment dates can continue to submit their tourist visa applications in centres at Gulshan, Uttara, Motijheel, Mymensingh, Barisal, Khulna, Jessore, Rangpur, Rajshahi, Chittagong and Sylhet.

The mission also said that its pilot project started in October for allowing walk-in visa application facility for women travellers and their immediate family members has been “very successful”.

The Mirpur visa application centre will start taking those walk-in applications from 1 January instead of the centre in Uttara, it said.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 18:39 IST

India needs about 200-250 Rafale aircafts to maintain edge: Arup Raha

New Delhi: Outgoing IAF chief Arup Raha on Wednesday made it clear that just 36 Rafale fighter jets would not suffice as India needs about 200-250 more fighters to maintain
its combat edge over adversaries.

The Air Chief Marshal, who is set to retire on 31 December, also rued that the tender for the much needed “force multiplier” mid air refuellers had to be withdrawn. He said a fresh tender is in the offing and the procurement will be speeded up.

Arup Raha. Image courtesy: PIBArup Raha. Image courtesy: PIB

Arup Raha. Image courtesy: PIB

Underlining that the teeth of any air force is the combat fleet, Raha said that the country needs another production line besides the Tejas.

He explained that the strength sanctioned by the government is 42 squadrons “which was a numerical value. He said what is needed “is also a capability mix”. Raha said India has enough of heavy weight fighters – the Su30 MKI – which will last for another 30-40 years. He said the light weight spectrum would be served by the 123 Tejas light combat aircraft ordered by the IAF.

Terming Rafale as an excellent aircraft, Raha said it comes in the medium weight spectrum. “It is tremendously capable in all its role. It is a multi-role aircraft and can be used very effectively. It can prove its worth in any situation,” Raha said.

“But we have just ordered 36 aircraft and we require more aircraft in this middle weight category to give entire spectrum of capability,” he said.

Raha said a void has been created in the past because of obsolescence and many of the squadrons will be past their use-by date.

“We have already used them for four decades plus. It is time to retire them and get new aircraft,” he said adding this void has to be filled up quickly and 36 Rafale aircraft “will not do as we require much more”.

“Over the next 10 years, we must have 200-250 aircraft. It has to be balanced out. In the heavy weight spectrum, we have enough. But in the medium weight category, we need to have more. Yes, about 200 will be very good,” he said.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 18:39 IST

Viral Acharya, ‘Poor man’s Rajan’, new RBI Deputy Governor

New Delhi: Government today appointed Viral V Acharya, a New York University economics professor who once called himself ‘poor man’s Raghuram Rajan‘, as new Deputy Governor at the Reserve Bank of India.

The 42-year-old Acharya’s appointment for a three-year tenure was cleared by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet. He is taking over at a time when the central bank is facing criticism for repeated changes in the rules related to deposit and withdrawal of money, post-demonetisation.

He will fill the post that fell vacant after Urjit Patel was made RBI Governor to succeed Rajan with effect from 4 September. The existing three Deputy Governors of RBI are S S Mundra, N S Vishwanathan and R Gandhi.

Viral Acharya - RBI Deputy Governor. Image courtesy - NYU-Stern.Viral Acharya - RBI Deputy Governor. Image courtesy - NYU-Stern.

Viral Acharya – RBI Deputy Governor. Image courtesy – NYU-Stern.

Like Rajan, Acharya also comes from an academic background and has also co-authored in the past at least three papers with the former RBI governor. These papers included ‘Sovereign debt, government myopia, and the financial sector’, ‘The Internal Governance of Firms’ and ‘Government Myopia and Debt in a Dynamic Setting.

Acharya has often praised Rajan for his works and once said “Raghu has been a great source of inspiration for me”. While giving a Deutsche Bank Prize in Financial Economics plenary lecture in 2013, Acharya had narrated an incident when someone asked him on a flight whether he was Raghuram Rajan, after seeing him, an Indian, with papers on banking and crisis.

He quipped that was the day when he realised that if he had Rajan as a “role model” and could get even 5-10 percent of him, he could have easily passed off as “poor man’s Raghuram Rajan” on flights.

Just like Rajan, Acharya has also been a strong votary of the independence of central banks and favoured them being “democratically accountable, yet be operationally independent from political influence”.

Acharya is known for his research in theoretical and empirical analysis of systemic risks of the financial sector, its regulation and genesis in government-induced distortions, according to the profile on the NYU website.

The research areas also span across credit and liquidity risks, agency-theoretic foundations as well as their general equilibrium consequences, it says.

Acharya is the C V Starr Professor of Economics in the Department of Finance at the New York University Stern School of Business (NYU-Stern).

An alumnus of IIT, Mumbai, with a degree of Bachelor of Technology in Computer Science and Engineering in 1995 and PhD in Finance from NYU-Stern in 2001, Acharya was with the London Business School (2001-08) and served as the Academic Director of the Coller Institute of Private Equity at LBS (2007-09) and a Senior Houblon-Normal Research Fellow at the Bank of England (Summer 2008).

He has also served as Director, NSE-NYU Stern Initiative on the Study of Indian Capital Markets, and has been a member of Sebi’s International Advisory Board.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 17:54 IST

Election Commission notifies five poll-bound states to prepare for schedule announcement

New Delhi: In an indication that assembly elections to five states could be announced anytime now, the Election Commission has asked the Centre and the state governments to implement the model code of conduct as soon as the schedule is out.

In a letter sent to the cabinet secretary and chief secretaries of the poll-bound states of Uttar Pradesh,
Uttarakhand, Goa, Manipur and Punjab, the Commission has compiled a set of instructions issued in the past to drive home the point that model code should be implemented effectively with the announcement of poll schedule.

Poll time. ReutersPoll time. Reuters

Poll time. Reuters

The list of dos and don’ts issued by the Commission includes prevention of misuse of public place, avoiding use of official vehicles for campaigning, removing pictures of political functionaries from state government websites and bar on use of public money for advertisements to help the ruling party.

The poll panel has also reminded political parties to approach the Media Certification and Monitoring Committees at district and state level, for pre-certification of their political advertisements proposed to be issued in the
electronic media.

Sources in the Commission said assembly polls could be announced by 4 January to the five states.

Except Uttar Pradesh, which may go for a seven-phased election, the other states could have elections on a single day.

While the term of the Uttar Pradesh assembly expires on 27 May next, the terms of four state assemblies end in March next.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 17:09 IST

Jammu and Kashmir: Masarat Alam’s detention held illegal, HC orders release of hardline Hurriyat leader

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir High Court has ordered release of senior hardline Hurriyat Conference leader Masrat Alam Bhat, who has been in preventive custody under the Public Safety Act since April 2015.

Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar, while allowing Masarat’s plea challenging the latest of the detention orders under Public Safety Act, held his detention illegal on several grounds.

“By issuance of writ of certiorari, order of detention bearing No. 85/DMB/PSA/2016 dated 1.9.2016, passed by the (deputy commissioner Baramulla) is quashed with a further direction to the (government) to release Alam forthwith from preventive custody,” the court said in its order on Wednesday.

Bhat has been booked under PSA several times since April 2015 and the latest order in the series was issued by District Magistrate Baramulla. According to the order, Masarat was accused of making the ongoing agitation “successful” while in custody of the state authorities.

Masarat Alam in a file photo. AFP

Masarat Alam in a file photo. AFP

The order was passed on the basis of Masarat’s meeting on 11 August this year with four persons who visited him at District Jail, Baramulla. The persons had requested authorities to allow them meet one Assadullah Parray, who is allegedly affiliated with Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Geelani.

The authorities claimed that instead of meeting Parray, they met Masarat, who allegedly advised them to activate the workers for a more visible and prominent role in the turmoil. A case was registered against Masarat at police station Baramulla on 30 August, two days before the detention order under PSA against Alam was passed by the deputy commissioner.

“Even otherwise, record would show statements of four police personnel, who were posted at Sub Jail Baramulla, have been recorded.Their statements would show that Assadullah Parray was lodged in Barrack No.7, whereas (Masarst) was lodged in Barrac No.8.

“The allegation in the FIR and statements of all these police personnel would, prima facie, show that all the police authorities, posted at Sub Jail Baramulla, have failed to discharge their duties in accordance with law because it was within the competence and authority of these police personnel to ensure that the visitors would meet Parray, for meeting with whom they had sought permission and not (Alam),” the court observed.

The court also rendered the detention order illegal for the reason that the bail application of Masarat had been rejected by a court and he continued to languish in state custody.

The detaining authority, in this situation, could not assume that there is every likelihood of (Masarat) being released on bail.

The Court said, “democratic society not only swears but lives by democratic values and principles. Even in the face of extreme provocations, the laws of the land are to be implemented. Laws possess unique quality, in as much as, they, even at times, protect those who break them. Thus, they prove to be better than many human beings”.

Masarat was released after four-and-half years of detention soon after the PDP-BJP government took charge in March last year.

However, he was re-arrested on 17 April, 2015 and detained under the PSA for alleged anti-national activities during a rally to welcome Geelani home from Delhi.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 17:07 IST

Day after Modi jibe, Rawat orders probe into misappropriation of Uttarakhand disaster fund

Dehradun: Uttarakhand government on Wednesday instituted a judicial probe into the alleged misappropriation of disaster relief funds in the state after the 2013 natural calamity which claimed thousands of lives, a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised the issue to lash out at the Harish Rawat dispensation for corruption.

Announcing the probe, Rawat also took a jibe at his predecessor Vijay Bahuguna, who is now with the BJP and was at the helm when disaster relief operations were carried out in the state. He said the saffron party should have conducted an in-house inquiry into the irregularities as the “entire family of executors of the alleged scam are now with them”.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat. PTIUttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat. PTI

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat. PTI

The Prime Minister had on Tuesday said at a rally in Dehradun that he was going to drag Uttarakhand out of the “bottomless pit of corruption in which it was languishing under the present regime”.

Rawat also took strong exception to Modi’s remarks that even a scooter with a capacity of five liters of oil could drink 35 liters of it, a reference to the alleged scam in relief funds.

The chief minister said though the alleged irregularities in the distribution of relief after 2013 tragedy had already been probed by a panel constituted by the state government, a judicial probe has been ordered into it after the Prime Minister’s remarks.

“Though a probe committee headed by the then chief secretary had found no veracity in the allegations and given a
clean chit to everyone involved in the massive relief operations, now that the PM has reiterated the charge we have asked retired justice MS Chauhan of Chandigarh High Court to conduct a probe into the alleged irregularities and find out if there was any negligence on part of officials or any misappropriation of disaster relief funds,” Rawat told reporters at a press conference.

Asked why he was not recommending a CBI probe into the allegations, Rawat said he had more faith in the judiciary and it was in his hands to order a judicial probe.

“It is now a general impression all over the country that the CBI is a tool in the hands of the Centre to settle scores with political adversaries. I have therefore more faith in our judicial institutions. Moreover ordering a judicial probe was in my hands whereas I would have had to look to central authorities for a CBI probe,” he said.

Rawat said calamities strike all of a sudden and quick decisions have to be taken to deal with the situation,
sometimes even at the cost of relaxing the rules and norms.

“However, we are ready for a judicial probe into any negligence on part of officials or misuse of funds,”  he said.

The chief minister also accused the BJP of trying to grab credit for the all-weather Chardham roads project inaugurated by the Prime Minister in Dehradun on Tuesday, saying the state government was very much part of the process of its launch.

“It is not BJP’s brainchild as the party is trying to make it appear. We had conceived the project and consistently worked towards its early launch,” he said.

However, he said he welcomed the launch of the project as the state stood to benefit from it in a big way “provided it is implemented in the manner promised”.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 16:15 IST

Nine months after Sreehari Aney’s resignation, Maharashtra Cabinet approves Rohit Deo as next advocate general

Mumbai: The BJP-led Maharashtra government has chosen acting Advocate General Rohit Deo as its next Advocate General, nine months after his predecessor Sreehari Aney quit the post following a huge row triggered by his espousal of statehood for the Vidarbha and Marathwada regions.

A meeting of the state Cabinet, chaired by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, recommended elevation of Deo to the AG’s post to Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, a senior official said.

Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis. File photo. PTI

Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis. File photo. PTI

Aney had courted controversy by advocating statehood for Vidarbha and Marathwada regions, which was vehemently opposed by the ruling partner Shiv Sena.

The Sena had then seized on the issue to target the BJP, which, as matter of policy, favoured smaller states, despite Fadnavis asserting that bifurcation of Maharashtra was not on his government’s agenda.

The government had recently filed an affidavit in the Bombay High Court, saying the post will be filled by the end of this month.

The Division Bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Anuja Prabhudessai was hearing a petition filed by Congress MLC Sanjay Dutt, urging the court to direct the state to appoint an A-G under Article 165 of the Constitution.

The court had criticised the state for not complying with the deadline of 23 December and had adjourned the matter to 9 January.

It had earlier observed that constitutional and statutory functions were suffering due to the non-appointment of the AG and has hurt the cause of justice.

On 18 November, 2014, Sunil Manohar was appointed as the AG, but he resigned on 9 June, 2015. On 11 June, 2015, additional Solicitor General Anil Singh was given the additional post of acting A-G. On 14 October, 2015, Aney was appointed as the AG, and he resigned on 22 March, 2016.

Reacting to the decision, Dutt claimed that the government was compelled to take a decision on the matter after he moved the high court.

In a tweet, Dutt said, “The government has conceded my demand and finally appointed Acting AG as AG.”

“However, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis needs to answer why he waited for nine months to appoint Acting AG as the new AG,” said Dutt.

“Maharashtra Chief Minister speaks of good governance but his indecisiveness reflects lack of governance! If acting AG Rohit Deo only was to be made the AG, why the government had waited for 280 days?” he asked in another tweet.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 14:07 IST

AMU students’ union now demands CBI inquiry into Najeeb Ahmed’s disappearance

Aligarh: AMU Students’ Union on Wednesday demanded a CBI inquiry into the mysterious disappearance of JNU student Najeeb Ahmed, who has remained untraced for 74 days.

In a memorandum sent to President Pranab Mukherjee, the union alleged that instead of trying to trace Ahmed, police was harassing the family of the missing student and shielding criminals.

Ahmed, an MSc Biotechnology student, went missing on 15 October after a scuffle, allegedly with ABVP affiliated students at his hostel inside the JNU campus.

JNU. Image courtesy News18

JNU. Image courtesy News18

His mother Fatima Nafees and sister Sadaf were detained by police when they along with scores of agitating students tried to take out a protest march to India Gate in New Delhi on 6 November. Fatima was virtually dragged into a bus by police along with other students.

The memorandum said the same forces which had compelled Dalit student Rohit Vemula to commit suicide in Hyderabad earlier this year were behind Ahmed’s disappearance.

AMU students led by their union president Faizul Hasan held a demonstration in Aligarh on Tuesday and threatened to intensify their stir if government did not fulfil their demand.

Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU) has also asserted that they will continue with their protest on the issue.

Delhi Police has announced a reward of Rs ten lakh for information about Ahmed, while the Crime Branch is trying to trace him without any success so far.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 13:18 IST

2016: Pathankot, Kashmir unrest, president rule in Uttarakhand, Arunachal kept home ministry busy

New Delhi: Cross-border firing incidents, crackdown on “erring” NGOs and activities of Pakistan-based terror groups kept the Home Ministry busy in 2016 which saw the audacious attack on Pathankot airbase. Imposition of President’s rule in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand and subsequent revocation by the Supreme Court in both the states, over 120 days of unrest in Jammu and Kashmir following killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani were some other issues that the ministry had to deal with.

The year saw prolonged tension along the India-Pakistan border due to fierce firing from Pakistani forces on Indian security posts and civilian areas forcing Home Minister Rajnath Singh to tell BSF not to count bullets if fired upon by Pakistan and give a “befitting” reply. Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terrorists carried out the strike at the Pathankot airbase, killing seven personnel and injuring 37 others. In its charge sheet, the NIA said JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar, his brother and two others hatched the conspiracy.

The terror case saw an unusual move from India and Pakistan as Islamabad sent its probe team to Pathankot. However, the Pakistani team, upon its return, claimed India did not cooperate with them. Islamabad reciprocated by refusing to allow an Indian investigating team to visit Pakistan in connection with the Pathankot attack probe.

Union Home MInister Rajnath Singh. PTI

Union Home MInister Rajnath Singh. PTI

Not taking it lightly, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, during his visit to Pakistan for a Saarc meeting, delivered a blunt message to Islamabad asking it to stop encouraging terror groups and “glorification” of terrorists and also called for “strongest action” against nations supporting terrorism and their isolation.

The Home Ministry was also engaged in the fire-fight to control the unrest in Kashmir Valley arising after the killing of Wani on 8 July. For next four months, Kashmir Valley saw large-scale protests against Wani’s killing, complete shutdown of educational institutions, market and offices, thus badly affecting normal life.

The home minister himself led two all-party delegations and met cross sections of people, in an effort to bring peace in the restive Kashmir Valley. The Home Ministry, on behalf of the central government, was busy with handling the situation following imposition of President’s rule in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

However, the central rule in both the states was set aside by the Supreme Court, leading to the Home Ministry receiving flak from various quarters.

The year also saw massive crackdown on NGOs, including on Greenpeace India, Islamic Research Foundation, founded by controversial preacher Zakir Naik, activist Teesta Setalvad’s two NGOs and one run by noted lawyer Indira Jaising, by the Ministry for their alleged violation of various provisions of Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.

Notwithstanding the crackdown on NGOs, a total of Rs 1,452 crore foreign funds was received by various voluntary organisations during 2014-15. As many as 11,319 NGOs were derecognised by the Home Ministry in October after they failed to renew their registration under the FCRA.

In addition, the Centre also denied renewal of FCRA registration to 25 NGOs after they were allegedly found to be involved in anti-national activities. Later, during a review of the Foreigners Division of the Home Ministry, it was conveyed to Singh that licences of around 20,000 of 33,000 NGOs were cancelled by the government after they were found to be allegedly violating various provisions of the FCRA, thus barring them from receiving foreign funds.

Situation in northeastern states was by-and-large peaceful except in Manipur where blockade on two national highways by a Naga group against creation of seven new districts disrupted normal life, and led to rise in prices of essential commodities and violence in some parts of the state.

Violence perpetrated by Naxals were contained considerably and there were fewer incidents in some of the worst-hit areas of the 10 states affected by the menace. There were some incidents of online radicalisation by dreaded terror group Islamic State and reports of some youths desiring to join its network.

The Home Ministry feels that though Islamic State has not taken roots in India, it is influencing youths through Internet and social media. According to an estimate prepared by the intelligence agencies, at least 30 Indians have gone to Islamic State-held areas in Iraq-Syria to fight for the terrorist group after they were radicalised online, forcing security forces to keep a close eye on social media outlets and some radical websites.

At least six of them were killed in the conflict zone and 30 other Indians, who were radicalised by Islamic State elements, were prevented from travelling to West Asia.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 12:07 IST

Economists favour cut in income tax rate; harmonisation of custom duties

New Delhi: Simplification and reduction in personal income tax rates and harmonisation of customs duties to global levels in a bid to boost economic activities were favoured by economists at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Niti Aayog.

The meeting, which comes ahead of the Budget slated to be held in early February, did not go into the impact of demonetisation on the economy while the aspect of digitisation to make it a less cash economy figured. “Tax simplification figured quite a lot…on the direct taxation, both corporate and personal income tax on simplifying, reducing exemptions, bringing down tax rate and
aligning tax system to make India competitive with international destination,” Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Arvind Panagariya told reporters. He was briefing the reporters about the outcome of the meeting on “Economic Policy: The Road Ahead”.

Representational Image. AFPRepresentational Image. AFP

Representational Image. AFP

About the inverted duty structure, it was suggested to harmonise the tariffs to resolve the issue. “One of the issues that came up (for discussion) was tariff inversion whereby tariff on component and inputs are higher than the final products so that undercuts the incentive to produce the final product,” Panagariya said. “So the suggestion (on this issue) was to harmonise the tariff to single rate to 7 per cent or so,” he added. Besides, suggestion was made for listing of PSUs and increase use of Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) to subsidy expenditure.

Farm sector experts suggested incentivising states to undertake market reforms, create corpus fund for promoting farm mechanisation and micro irrigation, and provide interest subvention for term loans so that income of farmers are doubled by 2022. Experts also suggested that there is a need to invest in the tourism sector which has potential to generate high paying job and making Indian universities world class. Pulak Ghosh IIM Bangaluru professor said that India need to collect large volumes of data so that data driven policy can be formulated.

Among others, the meeting was attended by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Panagariya and various other senior officials from the Union Government and Niti Aayog. The economists and experts who were present include Pravin Krishna, Sukhpal Singh, Vijay Paul Sharma, Neelkanth Mishra, Surjit Bhalla, Govinda Rao, Madhav Chavan, N K Singh, Vivek Dehejia, Pramath Sinha, Sumit Bose and T N Ninan.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 08:13 IST

Home ministry cancels FCRA licences of 20,000 NGOs for violating norms

New Delhi: FCRA licences of around 20,000 of 33,000 NGOs have been cancelled by the government after they were found to be allegedly violating various provisions of the FCRA, thus barring them from receiving foreign funds.

This was conveyed to Home Minister Rajnath Singh during a review of the Foreigners Division of the Home Ministry in New Delhi on Tuesday.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. PTIUnion Home Minister Rajnath Singh. PTI

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. PTI

Giving a detailed presentation, home ministry officials said after cancellation of FCRA licences of around 20,000
NGOs, only 13,000 NGOs in the country are legally valid now to receive foreign funds.

“The exercise of reviewing the working of the NGOs was started about a year ago and the process is still continuing. The cancellation of the FCRA licences of the NGOs done over a period of one year,” a home ministry spokesperson said.

Among the 13,000 valid NGOs, around 3,000 have submitted applications for renewal while home ministry received 2,000 new applications for registration under the FCRA for the first time.

An additional 300 NGOs are currently under prior permission category but not registered under the FCRA.

However, FCRA licences of around 16 NGOs were renewed by the home ministry under the “automatic” route and all the cases were reviewed thoroughly and except in two cases, 14 NGOs have been put under the prior permission category while papers of the two NGOs are under examination.

As per FCRA, if an NGO is put under prior permission category, it is barred to receive foreign funding from abroad without taking permission from the home ministry.

A home ministry official said on Tuesday of the around 33,000 NGOs registered under the FCRA, 27,000 were due for renewal this year.

Of these 27,000 NGOs, around 19,000 NGOs have submitted applications for renewal under the FCRA.

And of the 19,000 NGOs, FCRA licences of 15,500 NGOs were renewed.

Among the total 27,000 NGOs, 8,000 have time till February for renewal of their licences under FCRA.

The official said just FCRA licences of just 222 NGOs were cancelled in recent past.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 22:44 IST

Sheena Bora murder case: Indrani Mukerjea performs post-death rituals for father

Mumbai: Indrani Mukerjea, prime accused in the Sheena Bora murder case, on Tuesday performed the post-death rituals for her father at Brahman Seva Samiti hall here and returned to the Byculla Women’s prison in the evening.

The special CBI court in Mumbai had last week granted her permission to perform the rituals anywhere in Mumbai. The court, however, had rejected her plea for interim bail to visit her hometown, Guwahati, for the purpose, following her father Upendra Bora’s death on 15 December.

Indrani Mukherjee arrives to attend the post-death rituals of her father in Mulund, Mumbai on Tuesday. A special CBI court had last week granted Indrani the permission to attend the rituals anywhere in Mumbai . PTIIndrani Mukherjee arrives to attend the post-death rituals of her father in Mulund, Mumbai on Tuesday. A special CBI court had last week granted Indrani the permission to attend the rituals anywhere in Mumbai . PTI

Indrani Mukherjee arrives to attend the post-death rituals of her father in Mulund, Mumbai on Tuesday. A special CBI court had last week granted Indrani the permission to attend the rituals anywhere in Mumbai . PTI

Indrani left jail at around 7.30 am today with a police escort for Brahman Seva Samiti hall in Mulund. After
performing rituals there till 4.30 pm, she visited a nearby temple for prayers for an hour, a police officer said.

Judge HS Mahajan had said in his order that she shall not speak to media during the time she was out of the prison.

She shall be brought back to jail by 7 pm, the judge had said.

CBI had opposed Indrani’s request for interim bail to visit Assam. It had produced an e-mail sent by her son
Mikhail, which said he did not want her to visit Guwahati.

Indrani’s intention was to influence prosecution witnesses and there was also a possibility that she would try
to escape, CBI said.

Indrani, her former husband Sanjeev Khanna and her former driver Shyam Rai are accused of killing Sheena, her daughter from an earlier relationship, in April 2012. Her husband and former media baron Peter Mukerjea too has been arrested in the case for being party to the conspiracy.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 22:19 IST

Trinamool MPs Sudip Bandyopadhyay, Tapas Paul summoned by CBI in chit fund case

New Delhi: CBI has issued summons to two MPs of Trinamool Congress, Sudip Bandyopadhyay and Tapas Paul, in connection with the alleged Rose Valley scam, one of the cases being probed by the investigating agency as part of the umbrella chit fund scams.

Both Bandyopadhyay and Paul have been asked to appear at the CBI office here on 30 December. CBI sources said Bandyopadhyay was called earlier also but he had cited ongoing Parliamentary session to seek exemption from personal appearance.

Now the agency has again asked the Member of Parliament to appear before its investigation team to be questioned in the connection with the chit fund scam related to Rose Valley group, the sources said.

When contacted in Kolkata, Bandyopadhyay told PTI, “I will appear in the first week of January.” “I will go because I want to know what are the exact charges that they have levelled against me. I feel that it is better to sit face-to-face rather than talking over phone,” he said.

Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandopadhyay. PIB

Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandopadhyay. PIB

Recently, there was speculation that Bandyopadhyay may be questioned by CBI after which Trinamool Congress had said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was using central agency to scare the party because of its opposition to demonetisation.

“By pursuing political vendetta you can’t stop Mamata Banerjee and TMC from protesting against demonetisation. You are using CBI and other central agencies to scare us. But you won’t succeed,” TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee had said.

“You feel you and your party are saints and all of us thieves. But the fact is you are the biggest thief,” he had said.

The CBI had filed its charge sheet in the Rose Valley Group chit fund scam naming Kundu and three others in a special court in Bhubaneswar on 7 January. The firm was charged with defrauding depositors of Rs 17,000 crore from across the country of which Rs 450 crore was received by the ponzi firm from Odisha alone.

In its charge sheet, CBI had claimed that it was still probing the role of “influential people” in the scam. Besides role of regulatory authorities, money trail and larger conspiracy hatched by the accused persons to cheat the public are still under probe of the agency, they said.

The sources said that CBI, in its charge sheet, has named Kundu, the then Managing Directors Ashok Kumar Saha and Ram Lal Goswami, besides Rose Valley Real Estate and Constructions, Rose Valley Real Estate and Land Bank, and Rose Valley Hotels and Entertainment.

CBI has alleged that these persons and companies were allegedly responsible for running “illegal” ponzi scheme in violations of the norms of RBI, SEBI and Registrar of Companies.

The agency alleged that they kept running the schemes “knowing fully well” that these were “commercially unviable” and continued cheating people by keeping them associated with the group.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 21:12 IST

Trinamool MPs Sudip Bandopadhyay, Tapas Paul summoned by CBI in chit fund case

New Delhi: CBI has issued summons to two MPs of Trinamool Congress, Sudip Bandyopadhyay and Tapas Paul, in connection with the alleged Rose Valley scam, one of the cases being probed by the investigating agency as part of the umbrella chit fund scams.

Both Bandyopadhyay and Paul have been asked to appear at the CBI office here on 30 December. CBI sources said Bandyopadhyay was called earlier also but he had cited ongoing Parliamentary session to seek exemption from personal appearance.

Now the agency has again asked the Member of Parliament to appear before its investigation team to be questioned in the connection with the chit fund scam related to Rose Valley group, the sources said.

When contacted in Kolkata, Bandyopadhyay told PTI, “I will appear in the first week of January.” “I will go because I want to know what are the exact charges that they have levelled against me. I feel that it is better to sit face-to-face rather than talking over phone,” he said.

Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandopadhyay. PIB

Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandopadhyay. PIB

Recently, there was speculation that Bandyopadhyay may be questioned by CBI after which Trinamool Congress had said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was using central agency to scare the party because of its opposition to demonetisation.

“By pursuing political vendetta you can’t stop Mamata Banerjee and TMC from protesting against demonetisation. You are using CBI and other central agencies to scare us. But you won’t succeed,” TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee had said.

“You feel you and your party are saints and all of us thieves. But the fact is you are the biggest thief,” he had said.

The CBI had filed its charge sheet in the Rose Valley Group chit fund scam naming Kundu and three others in a special court in Bhubaneswar on 7 January. The firm was charged with defrauding depositors of Rs 17,000 crore from across the country of which Rs 450 crore was received by the ponzi firm from Odisha alone.

In its charge sheet, CBI had claimed that it was still probing the role of “influential people” in the scam. Besides role of regulatory authorities, money trail and larger conspiracy hatched by the accused persons to cheat the public are still under probe of the agency, they said.

The sources said that CBI, in its charge sheet, has named Kundu, the then Managing Directors Ashok Kumar Saha and Ram Lal Goswami, besides Rose Valley Real Estate and Constructions, Rose Valley Real Estate and Land Bank, and Rose Valley Hotels and Entertainment.

CBI has alleged that these persons and companies were allegedly responsible for running “illegal” ponzi scheme in violations of the norms of RBI, SEBI and Registrar of Companies.

The agency alleged that they kept running the schemes “knowing fully well” that these were “commercially unviable” and continued cheating people by keeping them associated with the group.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 21:12 IST

Army inks pact with IIT Gandhinagar to set up R&D cell

Ahmedabad: Indian Army on Tuesday signed an MoU with Indian Institute of Technology-Gandhinagar (IITGN) to set up a Research and Development cell which would focus on the finding solutions for Army’s requirements.

Lt Gen Subrata Saha.Lt Gen Subrata Saha.

Lt Gen Subrata Saha.

“The cell will work with the faculty and research students to identify problems and possible solutions for the
Indian Army,” IITGN said in a release.

IITGN director Sudhir Jain and Deputy Chief of Army Staff (Planning and System) Lt Gen Subrata Saha signed the MoU at the institute’s campus at Palaj in Gandhinagar district.

“The MoU will result in meaningful realisation and efficient transfer of research into customised solutions for
the Indian Army,” the release quoted Lt Gen Saha as saying.

The research cell will deal with Army’s requirements such as lighter and stronger bullet-proof jackets and materials to build bunkers, among other things.

“There is a whole lot of inventory even in the aircraft engines that can be done in India. We are very hopeful that this indigenous effort will take place at a fast pace through such MoUs,” Saha said.

Army will also work with the faculty members and students to find possibility of conducting short-term courses and lectures at the institute, the release said.

Speaking on the occasion, Jain said, “Indian Army, particularly those (personnel) posted in the harsh weather
conditions face diverse problems and we want to understand and address these problems. The plan is to have a Research Centre at IITGN through which our students and faculty can be in continuous touch with the Indian Army in researching and addressing these problems.”

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 21:12 IST

Govt to advance budget date to 1 February to make funds available at start of fiscal year

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said advancing the date of budget presentation would help getting funds authorised for different sectors at the start of the financial year.

Addressing economists at Niti Aayog’s meeting on ‘Economic Policy – The Road Ahead’, he said that a change in the budget cycle would have an impact on the real economy.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Getty ImagesPrime Minister Narendra Modi. Getty Images

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Getty Images

“The date of budget presentation is being advanced so that expenditure is authorised by the time the new financial year begins,” the Prime Minister said.

The government is proposing to present the budget for 2017-18 on 1 February instead of the regular date of February 28. Also, there will be no separate railway budget for the next fiscal as the government has decided to merge it with the general budget.

Modi said under the existing budget calendar, the authorisation of expenditure comes with the onset of the monsoon which results in government programmes remaining relatively inactive in the productive pre-monsoon months.

Seeking views of the economists for the forthcoming budget on areas such job creation, agriculture, skill development and education, Modi underlined the need for engaging the youth for speeding up economic development.

During the meeting with the Prime Minister, economists shared their views on various themes such as agriculture, job creation, taxation, education, digital technology, housing, tourism, banking, governance reform, data driven policy and future steps for growth.

Farm sector experts suggested incentivising states to undertake market reforms, create corpus fund for promoting farm mechanisation and micro irrigation, and provide interest subvention for term loans, among others, to double farm income by 2022.

The meeting was attended by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Arvind Panagariya, and senior officers from the Union Government, among others.

The economists and experts who were present included Pravin Krishna, Sukhpal Singh, Vijay Paul Sharma, Neelkanth Mishra, Surjit Bhalla, Pulak Ghosh, Govinda Rao, Madhav Chavan, N K Singh, Vivek Dehejia, Pramath Sinha, Sumit Bose and TN Ninan.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 20:36 IST

Norway child custody row: Handling case as per Norwegian law, Oslo tells India

New Delhi: Norway on Tuesday told India that it is handling the case involving the custody of a child of a Indo-Norwegian family in accordance with the Norwegian Child Welfare Act which includes directions from the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

This was conveyed to the Indian ambassador who had gone to meet the Norwegian officials, who also informed him that since child welfare cases are highly sensitive, the cases are therefore subject to a strict duty of confidentiality.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. AFP

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. AFP

Ahead of the meeting, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had said India wants the five-and-a-half-year-old boy united with his natural parents and refused to accept that foster parents can take better care of the child than the natural parents.

“The foster parents are totally ignorant of the Indian culture and our food habits. We want restoration of Aryan to his natural parents,” Swaraj had tweeted.

According to Norwegian Embassy Spokesperson in new Delhi, “The Indian ambassador to Norway visited the Norwegian authorities earlier today (in Oslo) to discuss the child welfare case involving a Norwegian/Indian family, where the child holds Norwegian citizenship. The meeting had a constructive atmosphere.

“The Norwegian authorities have reiterated that child welfare cases are handled in accordance to the Norwegian Child Welfare Act, which includes directions from the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

During the meeting with the Indian envoy, the Norwegian authorities also said the the Act applies to all children in Norway, regardless of their background, residential status or citizenship. The embassy also was once again assured that the Norwegian authorities were dealing with the case with complete sensitivity and awareness.

Indian national Gurvinderjit Kaur and her husband, who is a Norwegian national, have alleged that the authorities in that country have taken away their son on a frivolous complaint of abuse. Kaur had also written to the inistry seeking help in getting back her son, who has been taken away by the Norway Child Welfare Services.

This is the third case since 2011 when children have been taken away from their Indian-origin parents by the authorities in Norway on the grounds of abuse. In 2011, a three-year-old and a one-year-old were separated from their parents, prompting the then UPA government to take up the issue with Norway.

The Norwegian court later allowed the children to be reunited with their parents.

In December 2012, an Indian couple was jailed on charges of ill-treatment of their children, 7 and 2 years. Later, they were sent to their grandparents in Hyderabad.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 19:21 IST

Gujarat govt takes custody of 220 fishermen released by Pakistan

Vadodara: The officials of the fisheries department of Gujarat Government took custody of 220 fishermen who were handed over by Pakistan to Indian agency, late on Monday night, a senior official said.

“These fishermen were released from the Landhi jail in Karachi on 25 December as a goodwill gesture and were handed over to the Border Security Force (BSF) at the Wagah Border on Monday,” Ashok Patel, superintendent of the fisheries department of the Gujarat government told PTI.

“The team (of fisheries department) has been camping in Amritsar to make arrangements for bringing these fishermen back to Gujarat,” he said.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Talking to PTI from Amritsar, Ramesh Makwana, one of the released fisherman, who hails from Tad village in Una taluka of Gir Somnath district, said, “We never expected release of 439 fishermen by Pakistan at one go and it came as a surprise for all of us. Another batch of 219 fishermen will be released on 5 January, 2017.”

“The Edhi Foundation a Karachi based non government organisation made arrangements for bringing us to Lahore from Karachi by a special train,” said the released fisherman.

He thanked Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani among others for taking up the issue for their release with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who in turn took up the matter with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif.

Makwana, while describing the harsh conditions in which they stayed in Pakistani jail, said, “They had to face lot of hardships as about 100 fishermen were kept in a single room in the prison and had to face mosquito menace.”

He said they realised that they had entered into enemy territorial waters only after Pakistani Marine Security Agency (PMSA) nabbed them. “Most of us are sole bread earners of our family,” said Makwana.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 19:07 IST

Hopeful of GST roll out from coming April: Ananth Kumar

Bengaluru: Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs H N Ananth Kumar on Tuesday expressed hope about the roll out of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime from coming April, saying the government is pushing ahead with the agenda.

“Our discussions with opposition parties and GST council is an ongoing process. I’m confident that once we have passed the constitutional amendment bill without any opposition in both houses of Parliament, ultimately GST council will also come out with unanimous decisions so that it can be given a legal framework in the Parliament of India,” he said.

Asked how hopeful he was about GST roll out as one approaches April, Kumar said, “We are pushing ahead with the agenda, I’m hopeful.”

The Union Minister was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the 21st convocation of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) here.

File photo of Union Minister Anant Kumar. PTI

File photo of Union Minister Anant Kumar. PTI

The government intends to roll out the GST regime from 2017 April, but there are apprehensions that the date will be missed because the all powerful GST Council is yet to iron out several vexed issues, including jurisdiction of the Centre and state governments over tax payers.

The Council, headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and comprising state finance ministers, has so far met seven times after Parliament amended the Constitution for implementation of GST.

The next meeting is scheduled for 3 and 4 January  to decide on the contentious issue of dual control over assesses and the legislation on IGST.

“I am trying my best,” Jaitley had earlier said on the expected 1 April roll out schedule.

“I am not going to bind myself with anything. Our effort is to do it as quickly as possible and I think we are making a reasonable headway,” he had said.

On the demonetisation move, Kumar said the Prime Minister’s direct target was those who are in favour of black money, corruption, fake currency and terrorism that originates with its help.

Stating that people of the country are with Modi in his fight against corruption and black money, he said, “Its echo effect was visible in the by-elections at different places.”

He expressed confidence that people would adapt to the digital economy and cashless transactions in the same way they had to electronic voting machines and mobile communication.

Kumar noted that for 50 days people had peacefully cooperated despite difficulties, keeping their faith in the prime minister and said, “I salute their courage and will in taking this economic reform to its logical conclusion.”

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 18:54 IST

Kashmir security: Core group meets to chalk out strategy for winter

Srinagar: The core group on security in Kashmir on Tuesday reviewed the overall situation in the valley and chalked out security strategy for the winter months.

“The core group met on Tuesday at Badami Bagh Cantonment to review the overall situation and to draw the security strategy for the winters,” an army official said.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

He said the meeting was co-chaired by Lt General J S Sandhu, GOC Chinar Corps, and Director General of Police K Rajender Kumar.

Top officials of all the constituents of the core group, including civil administration and security agencies, attended the meeting.

Addressing the meeting, Lt General Sandhu complimented the members and officials of the core group for the high-level of synergy among all the agencies in addressing the security concerns of Kashmir.

The DGP expressed similar sentiments and elaborated on the key security initiatives that have been put into place to manage the law and order situation in the valley.

“The members deliberated upon various issues to evolve a comprehensive strategy to respond to the various external and internal security challenges. Plans for maintaining a robust counter-infiltration and counter-terrorism grid were discussed,” the official said.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 18:13 IST

Coming soon: ‘Amul girl’ merchandises to hit markets

New Delhi: The adorable Amul girl could soon find her way into living rooms and kitchens, beyond the topical ads on newspapers with the dairy major mulling over launch of merchandise based on her.

According to a top company official, once Amul takes a decision in the next 2-3 months, a range of items ranging from key rings to fridge magnets and polka dot frocks may be sold over its 8,000 Amul milk parlours across the country.

“We will consider to come up with merchandise based around Amul butter girl. We will take a final decision on this in next two-three months,” Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) Managing Director RS Sodhi said. GCMMF sells dairy products under the Amul brand.

Eustace Fernandes, the Amul girl.

Eustace Fernandes, the Amul girl.

“We can bring many merchandise like key rings, cups and frocks. We can sell these merchandise through our over 8,000 milk parlours across the country,” he said.

Sodhi was speaking at the book launch ‘Amul India 3.0’ in New Delhi on Monday. The book was launched by eminent advertising and media personalities Santosh Desai, Indrajit Hazra, Rahul Da Cunha and Jai Arjun Singh.

“We are known from the campaign. So we are happy,” Sodhi said, adding that the campaign, being run for last 50 years, has huge credibility.

“Amul girl has commented on everyone. Nobody has displayed anger. Amul girl is like daughter. We know what she is saying is correct,” Sodhi said.

Amul India 3.0, the third edition, is a unique take on 50 years of India’s history, the highs and lows, through the eyes of the adorable little Amul poppet.

Covering topical grounds and popular incidents from the contemporary context, this is the all new, comprehensively revised and updated edition.

The book has pieces by prominent writers, public figures and the subject of the hoardings themselves.

The writers, including Amitabh Bachchan, Shashi Tharoor, Jug Suraiya, Indrazit Hazra, Jai Arjun Singh, Santosh Desai, Naresh Fernandes, Angello Dias, Arnab Goswami and Karan Johar, have looked at how the Amul girl has over the years covered the nation’s concerns and obsessions, specially politics, Bollywood and cricket.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 17:34 IST

Gujarat: Minor girl repeatedly raped for three weeks by teenager, eight including accused jailed

Ahmedabad: In a shocking incident, a 15-year-old girl was allegedly kidnapped and forcibly confined in a farm pit for over three weeks in November and raped repeatedly by a teenager at Kotda Nayani village of Morbi district in Gujarat before she was freed earlier this month, police said on Tuesday.

According to a police official of Wankaner taluka police station, a case of rape, kidnapping and illegal confinement was registered against 19-year-old Naresh Solanki, while seven others belonging to his family were booked under charges of kidnapping and illegal confinement.

The motive of the crime allegedly was forced marriage. The family of the accused wanted the family of the victim to marry her to Naresh as they both belong to the same caste of ‘Devipujaks’. When the latter refused, they planned the kidnapping of the girl, police said.

Representational picture. Reuters

Representational picture. Reuters

The victim was kidnapped on 11 November and taken to a farmland some two kilometres from the village. There she was forced to live in a 8×8 feet pit covered on top with wooden plank so as to avoid her detection.

The victim was taken out to be raped repeatedly for over three weeks before she was freed by her father and others in the village on 4 December.

The girl, in her statement to police, said that she was kidnapped by eight persons late night on November 11 and taken to a farmland in an autorickshaw where she was forced to live in a 8×8 feet pit dug in the farm.

As per the girl’s statement, she was confined in the pit and was taken out only to be raped by accused Naresh.

The girl’s father lodged a case of kidnapping against unknown persons on 25 November.

After intense search, the girl was finally found on 4 December, the official said, adding that based on her statement, police lodged a case against the eight accused who were subsequently arrested.

The eight persons include Naresh, his brother Haresh, father Janantbhai Solanki and his grandfather Chaturbhai Solanki, who are currently lodged in Rajkot central jail, they said.

Other than sections 363 (kidnapping) and 366 (abduction of woman to compel her into marriage) of the Indian Penal Code registered against unknown accused in the 25 November FIR, police have also added sections 376 (rape) against Naresh along with relevant sections of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 17:21 IST

Ground reality of delivering social justice in India dismal: Vice President Hamid Ansari

Bengaluru: Vice President Hamid Ansari on Tuesday said the ground reality of delivering social justice in India is dismal even after 70 years of legislating welfare laws and adjudicating measures.

“Where do we stand on the ladder of equity? This is a question that citizens of the republic can ask the state after 70 years of legislating welfare laws and adjudicating measures to deliver social justice.”

“The ground reality is dismal,” he said during the inaugural address at the 9th National Conference of the Indian Association of Lawyers here.

Quoting from a report by wealth research firm New World Wealth, the vice president said India is the 12th most inequitable economy in the world, with 45 percent of wealth controlled by millionaires.

File photo of Vice President Hamid Ansari. PTI

File photo of Vice President Hamid Ansari. PTI

Citing another report, published by financial agency Credit Suisse, he said almost half of India’s total wealth was in the hands of the richest one percent, while the top 10 percent controlled about 74 percent of it.

“The poorest 30 percent, meanwhile, had just 1.4 percent of the total wealth,” he added.

Ansari said despite significant social and economic transformation, caste hierarchies continue to remain deeply entrenched and caste relations often result in violent outcomes.

He also said that according to a 2010 report by the National Human Rights Commission on the Prevention of Atrocities against Scheduled Castes, a crime is committed against a Dalit every 18 minutes.

“Data culled from National Human Rights Commission indicates that, in 2012, 37 percent Dalits lived below the poverty line, 54 percent were undernourished, 83 per 1,000 children born in a Dalit household died before their first birthday and 45 percent remained illiterate,” he said.

The data also shows that Dalits are prevented from entering the police station in 28 percent of Indian villages, their children have been made to sit separately while eating in 39 percent government schools, and Dalits do not get mail delivered to their homes in 24 percent of villages.

India is placed 130th in the Human Development Index among 188 countries, Ansari said.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 17:18 IST

Karnataka quota row: High time to think about reservation in private sector, says Siddaramaiah

Bengaluru: Days after his government unveiled plans to introduce 100 per cent local quota for blue-collar jobs, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Tuesday said it is high time to think about reservation in private sector and it should be achieved through debate and dialogue.

“It is high time to think about reservation in private sector. It should be achieved through debate and dialogue,” he said at the Ninth National Conference of the Indian Association of Lawyers Bengaluru.

The Siddaramaiah government has kicked up a row inviting criticism from various sections of society over its plans to give 100 per cent reservation for Kannadigas in all private sector industries, barring IT and biotechnology firms, which avail concessions under the state industrial policy.

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. PTI

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. PTI

Several industry captains have pointed out that introducing reservations could create hurdles in growth due to dearth in skilled labour and hurt chances of attracting investments in the state.

The draft amendments to the Karnataka Industrial Employment (Standing orders) Rules, 1961, providing for 100 percent “horizontal reservation” for Kannadigas has recently been thrown open to the public for objections or suggestions.

Siddaramaiah also said the need of the hour was to provide education, secure employment, housing and health facilities for the oppressed and underprivileged classes, without any further loss of time.

“Our government has realised the same and taken various positive steps in this direction,” he added.

Siddaramaiah said his government took the decision to conduct door-to-door social and educational survey of people of the state in January 2014.

“The same is executed by the State Commission for Backward Classes. The data is awaited from the Commission. This exercise is the first of its kind since 1931,” he said.

He said the idea behind the survey was to collect the current demographic data and various aspects relating to living conditions of people and accordingly configure developmental policies and programmes to achieve an egalitarian society through socio-economic justice.

“On several occasions judicial pronouncements by our respected judiciary also pointed out the need for collection of updated empirical data by conducting survey of the entire populace to decide whether the reservations in favour of OBC groups are proportionate or not,” he said.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 17:02 IST

US woman gangraped: Delhi court sentences four accused to two days of judicial custody

New Delhi: Four men, arrested for allegedly raping a US tourist in a 5-star hotel earlier this year, were on Tuesday sent to two-day judicial custody by a city court.

Metropolitan Magistrate Harvinder Singh sent the accused to Tihar Jail after Delhi Police moved an application seeking their judicial custody.

Yesterday, the police had arrested a tour guide, a driver, a cleaner and a hotel staff in connection with the alleged gangrape of the woman in April this year.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

The US national arrived here a few days ago to join the probe and recorded her statement in front of a judicial magistrate where she reiterated that she was gangraped by five persons in a five-star hotel here.

Four accused were arrested after the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) issued a notice to Delhi Police asking them why the Rape Crisis Cell of the women’s panel was not informed when the victim’s statement was recorded.

Earlier, the complainant had said she was not “satisfied” with the probe and was ready to come to India to identify the accused.

The woman had alleged that she was raped by the men for two days and also threatened with dire consequences if she reported the matter to anybody.

She had also stated that the accused had made a video of the act and threatened to make it public if she reported the matter to anyone. She had also told the police that the accused had claimed to have sexually assaulted a couple of other female tourists as well.

A team of psychologists and psychiatrists have been assisting the lady in recalling the details of the incident. The team is also working with the police in their investigation to tie up loose ends.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 14:54 IST

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