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2016 did not belong to Modi, Rahul or Urjit Patel, it belonged to the Indian hypocrite

Meet the person of the year 2016: The quintessential Indian hypocrite.

You would have met him everywhere. In queues outside ATMs, banks and multiplexes, chanting slogans, waging WhatsApp jihad, supporting boycott calls on Twitter, railing against his own countrymen and bleeding from his desktop for soldiers on the border.

His principle: Preach in public exactly the opposite of what you practise in private.

His dharma: Hate in others what you want to hide about yourself.

The year belonged to him. He screamed, shouted, outraged, pointed one finger at others, forgetting the direction of the other four. But as Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.”

India has always been an amusing bundle of contradictions, a lexicon of oxymorons. We worship at the altar of female goddesses, but have a skewed sex ratio. We boast of sanskars and lofty ideals but practice casteism, demand dowry and have a maniacal obsession with male children.

We are the land of Kamasutra, Khajuraho and have the highest growth rate of population, but we also have Pahlaj Nihalani who fears moral regression of the vulnerable masses if James Bond kisses for half-a-minute on the screen. We are a country that sings bhajans of Meera and Kabir but ends up revering Radhey and Asaram as ‘Maa’ and ‘Bapu’.

We are a country, which, in true Oscar Wilde fashion, is so clever that it doesn’t mean a single word it says.

Representational image. Reuters.

Representational image. Reuters.

But, sometimes a country’s polity and society combine to create circumstances and debates that expose our deeper contradictions, expose bigger hypocrisies. And gave us many shades of the quintessential Indian hypocrite.

This year we had the kaala dhan warrior. He rejoiced when Prime Minister Narendra Modi outlawed notes of higher denomination. In a delirium of patriotism, moral propriety and schadenfreude, he announced the end of black money and the corrupt — everyone apart from, of course, himself.

But, by next morning the kaala dhan warrior rushed to launder unaccounted cash, adjust accounts, put every bit of outlawed currency into bank accounts, announcing at the end of the day, “Yaar, apna to adjust ho gaya.”

He called it a surgical strike on the corrupt, rich and powerful and then bathed in the flowing Ganga of connivance and corruption with co-hypocrites — the broker, the banker, holder of Jan Dhan accounts, presumably the people hit most by kaala dhan.

Nothing captured the prevailing hypocrisy more than the constant changes in deposit and withdrawal rules to counter his propensity to circumvent laws that were hailed in public — Bharat Mata ki Jai — and violated in private.

We had the holier-than-thou fanatic. By day he slammed fanatics of ”that religion” for not allowing a cricketer’s wife to wear a gown. He mocked the utter lack of freedom in that religion, the tyranny of those opposing their religious and moral codes on others. By night he railed at a celebrity couple’s choice of name for their newborn, opposed a woman’s freedom to choose her husband, a person’s choice of food, a producer’s choice of the actor he wanted to cast in his film.

His ideological rival, behaved in an identical fashion. He defended a mother’s right to call her son Taimur, but not a woman’s right to protest Triple Talaq or wear a gown, proving hypocrites of the world have just one religion — hate.

We had the pious gau bhakt. He declared cow as his mother, advocated lynching of men for eating beef, skinning carcasses, but blithely went past bovines looking for food in heaps of garbage lying on roads of ‘Swachh Bharat’, ignored hundreds dying in cow shelters.

He was the bleeding heart patriot who blasted others for complaining of hardships when soldiers were dying on the border but encouraged his children to look for the best overseas job, leaving the vacancies in the Army for the neighbour’s son to fill. He shed Twitter tears when soldiers died in natural disasters in Siachen but laughed when people died in queues outside banks due to a man-made disaster or at Jantar Mantar while demanding one-rank-one pension.

He was the angry desh bhakt who danced to Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s songs, sang out aloud Honey Singh’s [email protected]#*d mein dam hai to band karwa lo” at parties but protested Ghulam Ali’s ghazal concerts. He gloated when Indian beat Pakistan in hockey but felt outraged at the thought of cricketers and kabaddi players taking on their cross-border rivals. He lamented when one state government spent a few hundred crores on ad campaigns but puffed his chest in pride when another government announced it would put Rs 3,600 crore in the Arabian Sea to showcase a warrior in a state with high rates of farmer suicides and history of droughts.

Finally, he was the social media jihadist who advocated bans on apps of online retailers endorsed by Aamir Khan but rushed to its stores every time a sale was announced. He was the Twitter activist who sought a ban on Chinese items but queued up for flash sales of mobiles made in China, paid for them through Paytm. He was the intolerant troll who wanted films to be boycotted, actors to be punished but bought tickets first-day-first-show, tamely surrendering crores in the dangal of box office, putting their money where their mouth wasn’t.

No, 2016, didn’t belong to Narendra Modi, Arvind Kejriwal, Rahul Gandhi, Urjit Patel, Aamir Khan or Salman Khan. It belonged to the quintessential hypocrite who amused and entertained us throughout the year, proving right Somerset Maugham who famously said, “It cannot, like adultery or gluttony, be practiced at spare moments; it is a whole-time job.”

Congratulations, all of us gave it one full year.

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 15:15 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

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

Income tax raids: Black money holders may have to pay up 137% in tax, penalty

There is more pain on the way for black money holders. The income tax department on Monday said they will have to bear taxes and penalties amounting to as high as 137 percent if they do not admit to or fail to explain the source of undisclosed income after being raided.

However, the total levy can touch 107.25 percent if the undisclosed income is admitted during search operations and that income substantiated, the department said in a release, adding the tax dodgers can come clean by paying 50 per cent on bank deposits post demonetisation.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

If one fails to admit his unexplained income during the course of search and in case, taxes are not paid and he does not substantiate the manner in which income is earned, then the tax incidence will be 137.25 percent, the tax department said in a release.

However, if undisclosed income is admitted during search, taxes are paid and return is filed before the specified date declaring this income and assessee substantiates the manner in which income is earned, then the tax rate will be 107.25 per cent, the release added.

“We are asking people to declare their undisclosed cash deposits in banks, post offices which have not been subject to tax earlier under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojna, 2016 (the scheme),” Principal Chief Commissioner of Income Tax (NWR) Rajendra Kumar said in Chandigarh on Monday.

This scheme which has come into effect on 17 December shall remain open for declarations up to 31 March, 2017, he said.

If the income is not admitted during search and the assessee is not able to substantiate the earning, it will attract 60 per cent tax, 60 per cent penalty, 15 per cent surcharge, 3 per cent education cess surcharge — amounting to 137.25 percent.

In case, the income is admitted during search and the assessee is able to substantiate the earning, it will attract 60 percent tax, 30 percent penalty, 15 per cent surcharge, 3 percent education cess surcharge — totalling to 107.25 percent.

The Taxation Laws (Second Amendment) Act, 2016 has amended the penalty provisions in respect of search and seizure cases, the release said.

The existing slab for penalty of 10 per cent, 20 percent and 60 per cent of income levied under section 271AAB has been rationalized to 30 per cent of income, if the income is admitted and taxes are paid. Otherwise, a penalty at the rate of 60 per cent of income shall be levied, the department said in the release.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 07:42 IST

2016 in review: Do you have what it takes to go for this really really really difficult Firstpost quiz?

2016 in review: Do you have what it takes to go for this really really really difficult Firstpost quiz?

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From Modi’s demonetisation politics to Rio Olympics, how closely have you been following news this year? Test your knowledge here.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 17:32 IST

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