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FCRA licences of 20,000 NGOs cancelled: For Modi govt the Act is a repression tool

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has cancelled Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) licences of about ever since it came to power in May 2014.

The home ministry, which took the action, has justified it saying these organisations were technically violating various provisions of the Act.

Cancellation of license would mean that these NGOs are no longer eligible to receive foreign funds. It should be noted that several of these NGOs are involved in rights-based advocacy work, especially working in the domain of human rights.

A plethora of civil society organisations have issued statements against this mass cancellation of FCRA licences stating that this is nothing but an ‘abuse of legal procedures’.

A file image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. APA file image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

A file image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

They also “unequivocally condemned the present use of the FCRA as a tool of repression by the current government”.

Organisations such as Greenpeace India, Amnesty International India, TARSHI Delhi and the Centre for Social Justice were all signatories to this statement.

Even the National Human Rights Commission has issued a notice to the home ministry on the issue.

“Prima facie it appears FCRA licence non-renewal is neither legal nor objective and thereby impinging on the rights of the human rights defenders in access to funding, including foreign funding,” the apex human rights watchdog in the country said in the notice.

The FCRA is an intimidating law, especially since the original Act came into force in 1976 during the Emergency by the Indira Gandhi-led government. The Act, at that time, prohibited MPs, electoral candidates, political parties, judges from accepting foreign contributions.

Even “correspondents, columnist, cartoonist, editor, owner, printer or publisher of a registered newspaper” were included in the ambit of the definition of candidate under the Act. The objective was certainly to remove all voices of political dissent, though the ostensible legislative intent suggested that the law was to restrain foreign intervention from internal, domestic matters.

The new FCRA, amended by the Finance Bill 2016, has many changes that render it more severe than its predecessor.

For one, the registration under the previous FCRA was permanent; the present law has altered this, mandating that FCRA licences would expire after five years.

A renewal process would mean that prescribed authorities, that is the State, would have arbitrary power to decide whether an NGO can renew its licence afresh.

The new law also puts a 50 percent restriction on the proportion of foreign funds, thereby controlling the way an NGO spends its money.

Another change, and perhaps a significant one, is that the 1976 law targetted political parties. The new law, however, aims at “organisations of a political nature”.

The FCRA Rules, 2011, drafted by the United Progressive Alliance government, defines what “organisations of a political nature” may include – farmers’ organisations, students’ unions, trade unions, workers’ unions, youth forums, women’s wing of political parties, youth organisations based on caste, community, religion, language and “any organisation… which habitually engages itself in or employs common methods of political action like ‘bandh’ or ‘hartal’, ‘rasta roko’, ‘rail roko’ or ‘jail bharo’ in support of public causes”. The list is astonishing as it clearly targets people and organisations that want to critique, censure and challenge present political discourse.

It is absolutely appalling that the government would amend the legislation in a way that all “organisations of a political nature” are rendered powerless, while political parties are vindicated for prior violations of the law.

In 2014, the Delhi High Court indicted both the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) as well as the Congress of receiving foreign funds in violation of provisions of Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA).

The verdict came after a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed by the Association for Democratic Reforms. A division bench comprising justice Pradeep Nandrajog and justice Jayant Nath asked the government and the Election Commission (EC) to act against the two political parties for accepting foreign funds from Vedanta subsidiaries.

The question, at this juncture, is why is the government apprehensive of NGOs whose work is to democratically interrogate so that constitutional rights and freedoms are not violated. Another question is whether the FCRA is indeed a tool of repression as civil society organisations have declared?

In April 2015, a legal analysis was developed by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association.

It stated that FCRA norms and regulations “are not in conformity with international law, principles and standards”. The FCRA violates the right to freedom of association, an integral freedom incorporated within the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which India is a party.

The right, though not absolute, are amenable to reasonable restriction; however, the analysis suggests that restrictions such as “public interest” and “economic interest” invoked under the FCRA cannot be termed as legitimate restrictions as they are too ambiguous and may give rise to arbitrary and discretionary powers.

Therefore, should the FCRA be repealed? Perhaps not, as regulation of NGO funding is a significant matter. However, curbing the voices in the civil society by way of a colourable legislation is unacceptable and simply put, draconian.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 21:24 IST

DNA Evening Must Reads: Arun Jaitley rubbishes critics of demonetization, PM Modi’s Dec 31 address, and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Critical part of remonetization over, it will be much better, going forward: Arun JaitleyArun Jaitley said that critics have been proved wrong. Finance Minister quoted tax collection and several other statistics to emphasise that the situation is not as bad as it was predicted. Read more here UP Elections 2017: Akhilesh likely to announce his own list of candidates, says SP MLAThe feud in Uttar Pradesh’s first family appeared to be worsening, with an unhappy Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Thursday meeting legislators who have not found place in the list of 325 declared candidates and then conveying his objections to his father and SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav who had announced the nominees yesterday. Read more hereScam-tainted Abhay Chautala ready to relinquish IOA Life President’s postScam-tainted former Indian Olympic Association (IOA) President Abhay Singh Chautala who was elevated to Life President’s post along with Suresh Kalmadi, was ready to relinquish the post, if International Olympic Committee (IOC) had reservations over it. Read more herePM Modi’s Dec 31 address to mark beginning of massive campaign to justify demonetizationPrime Minister Narendra Modi is slated to address the nation before New Year. Read more hereVirat Kohli and Anushka Sharma to get engaged on January 1?Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma usually avoid talking about the relationship because they feel it draws unnecessary attention towards their personal lives. But now, there are fresh speculations regarding the couple. Read more here

First batch of Indian fishermen released from Pakistan arrives in Gujarat

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The first batch of 110 fishermen released recently by Pakistan, arrived here from Amritsar and will soon leave for their natives places to be reunited with their families, an official said.Pakistan had on December 25 released 220 Indian fishermen, a goodwill gesture which came amid strain in ties after the recent cross border terror incidents.Due to non-availability of required number of coaches in the train from Amritsar, the fishermen, mostly from Gujarat, were divided into two batches. The first batch boarded the train on Tuesday and arrived here late Wednesday night, Gujarat Fisheries Department Superintendent Ashok Patel said.The other batch of 110 fishermen will reach Vadodara on Thursday night, he said.Several fishermen broke into tears upon their arrival here while some of them expressed concern about how to resume fishing, as they said that their boats were still in possession of the Pakistani authorities, an official said.The released fishermen belong to Una, Kodinar Junagadh, Jamnagar, Valsad and Navsari in Gujarat, Diu and also Uttar Pradesh, from where they come to the western state to earn their livelihood.They will now head to their native places to be with their families.The Gujarat Fishermen Association thanked Pakistan based NGO, Edhi Foundation, for making arrangements to bring the fishermen to Lahore from Karachi by a special train.

Nuke club NSG draft rule may allow India in, leave Pakistan out: Report

Washington: A draft proposal for accepting new members into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) 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.

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-Non-proliferation Treaty (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.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

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 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 29, 2016 11:18 IST

The persecution of Zakir Naik’s lawyer is both illegal and unjust

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>By no stretch of imagination is Zakir Naik, the founder and head of NGO Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), a benign preacher or a saintly figure. There’s no dearth of members of his own religious community who condemn him for hate-mongering and giving Islam a bad name.However, is he indulging in terrorist activities by “radicalising” Muslim youth, as the government claims? Are the lawyers defending him to be held ‘guilty by association’? If that is the case, then no lawyer worth his salt would stop shuddering before taking on the brief of anyone accused of terror offences. Only the most intrepid of lawyers would come forward to fora without fear or favour. And most Muslim lawyers would be all the more intimidated due to the persecution and hounding they might face, for the simple reason that a majority of terror-accused (most of whom finally get acquitted) happen to profess Islam as their religion.Moreover, how judicially sound is the government’s November 2016 decision to ban Naik’s IRF as a terror outfit under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), and would it stand the legal scrutiny of the tribunal being headed by Justice Suresh Kait of the Delhi High Court?
ALSO READ Notice served on legal counsel of Zakir Naik’s NGOThese questions assume prime significance because of Mumbai Police’s Crime Branch summoning Naik’s lawyer SHA Jamati for questioning, and directing him to show cause why his client’s NGO should not be banned, and prove that he is in no way either an aide or an associate in Naik’s activities. It might appear that defending Jamati for fighting his client’s case is equivalent to supporting Naik’s activities, but that is not the case.
ALSO READ Centre transfers bureaucrat who cracked down on Zakir Naik’s NGOIn fact, the two issues are intertwined, and the root lies in the wording of definitions in the UAPA. They are too sweeping in scope and give more than ample and justifiable reasons for the tribunals to pass orders which transgress constitutional principles, as researchers from the think tank Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy have pointed out in this piece.Moreover, Justice PK Shali, who headed the tribunal in 2012, had this to say: “The language of the provisions of the Act is drafted in such a manner that the Tribunal is required to see only the ‘sufficiency of the cause’ for the Central Government to declare the association to be unlawful and conversely, the onus is put on the association, either as a body of persons or as office-bearers or even as members, to show cause as to why it should not be declared as unlawful.”
ALSO READ Ban on IRF is an attack on Indian Muslims, peace, democracy and justice: Zakir NaikSuccessive reports, available here, here, and here, have exposed in detail how, under the UAPA, the banning regime works in a grossly undemocratic and illegal manner.A Lawyer’s DutyAccording to the law, a lawyer is an officer of the court and owes his duty only to his client and the court. He is not to be subjected to humiliation or any kind of harassment merely and only because he has taken up the case of someone deemed odious by a certain section of society and some members of the ruling government. Legendary British barrister, Lord Brougham, a tireless crusader of civil liberties, said in 1937: “An advocate, by the sacred duty which he owes to his client, knows in the discharge of that office but one person in the world — the client, and no other… to protect that client at all hazards and costs to all others, and among others to himself is the highest and most unquestioned of his duties… Nay, separating even the duties of a patriot from those of an advocate, and casting them if need be to the wind, he must go on reckless of the consequences…”Nancy Hollander, former president of the National Association of Criminal Defence Lawyers (US), proclaims with pride and devoid of any compunction: “So let me say it: I am a terrorist lawyer, if that means I am willing to defend those accused of terrorism. I am currently defending two men imprisoned in Guantanamo and I defend others accused of terrorism. Contrary to recent attacks by those who claim to be supporters of American justice, my defence of people accused of serious and sometimes horrific crimes is not an endorsement of those crimes. Rather, it is a testament to the strength of my belief in, and commitment to, the American system of justice. Why? Because in my defence of every client, I am defending the United States Constitution and the laws and treaties to which it is bound, and I am defending the rule of law. If I am a terrorist lawyer, I also am a rule-of-law lawyer, a constitutional lawyer and a treaty lawyer.”Sadly, in recent times in India, lawyers taking up cases of those accused of terror offences are also regarded as terrorists and hounded. The trials and tribulations faced dauntlessly by the likes of Mehmood Pracha, Sarim Naved, Trideep Pais, and Shahid Azmi (who was assassinated), who have successfully secured acquittals for those accused as terrorists, can inspire many, but not all, to soldier on. Regardless of the consequences.But, for how long? It requires a Herculean effort to withstand the might of the state and its agencies.Till date, Jamati has remained unfazed and has vowed to take the government head on. Mubin Solkar, a reputed Mumbai-based criminal lawyer, is also advising Naik and has warded off threats and persecution.But, for how long should this legally-abetted thuggery be allowed to continue?

8 students suspended from JNU for disrupting Academic Council meeting

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The JNU administration has suspended eight students and withdrawn their hostel facilities for allegedly disrupting an Academic Council meeting, a move protested by the students’ union of the university. The meeting was chaired by VC Jagdesh Kumar on Monday. The university administration has also identified two former students who were allegedly involved in the incident.”Eight students who were identified to be involved in disruption of the meeting have been suspended and their hostel facilities have been withdrawn with immediate effect. A proctorial inquiry has also been instituted in the incident,” a JNU official said.The JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU) “condemned” the move saying it will “resist” the suspension orders at all costs. “JNUSU condemns the suspension order against students. It will resist at all costs the suspension orders,” said the students’ union.Notices have been sent to the accused students by the proctor, the university official said, adding that action was taken as per preliminary findings and it will remain in effect till the inquiry is completed. A group of students was protesting outside the room where the Council meeting was underway. They allegedly “broke open the latch of the meeting room door” and came inside and “shouted at” the VC, the university said in a statement.The students belonged to Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students’ Association (BAPSA), Democratic Students’ Union (DSU), Students’ Front for Swaraj (SFS) and United OBC Forum. They were demanding that the Academic Council reconsider its decision to “adopt” a UGC gazette notification, dated May 2016, whereby interviews became the sole criterion of admissions to MPhil and PhD admissions. Earlier, JNU administration had suspended three students including Umar Khalid, Anirban Bhattacharya and Mujeeb Gattoo for their involvement in a February 9 event on the campus where alleged anti-India slogans were raised.

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

Kerala: Appointment of commission to re-examine UAPA cases sought

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Association of Muslim Scholars of India has urged the Centre to set up a commission to re-examine the cases registered under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) against “innocent people” in the guise of national security.”The Centre should appoint a commission to re-examine the cases filed under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) that have been imposed on innocent people under the guise of national security,”General Secretary of the Association, Kanthapuram AP Abubacker Musliyar said. He was delivering the keynote address at the international Milad Conference by ‘Jamia Markaz,’ here on December 25. He further said, the freedom of religion and freedom to believe and practice one’s faith is one of the cornerstones provided in the Constitution.Any attempt to curb this basic right should be fought by all means, a release from Markaz’s media wing quoted him as saying. “We will oppose tooth and nail every attempt to deny the citizens, comprising those from multi-faith communities, the right to live according to their religious convictions and ideals and also carry out a nation-wide system of unified civil code,” Musliyar added.A host of Muslim scholars representing different countries and international associations attended the conference.

TMC MP and actor Mithun Chakraborty resigns from Rajya Sabha due to ill health

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Suffering from prolonged illness, yesteryear superstar Mithun Chakraborty has resigned from Rajya Sabha. He represented TMC in the upper house of the Parliament. Mithun has resigned nearly one and half years before the end of his term. Over the past year, Mithun has rarely made any public appearance. There have been unconfirmed reports of him suffering from prolonged illness. TMC leader Derek O’Brien was quoted by ANI as saying, ” He resigned from RS on health grounds;We continue to share warm relationship with him &his family;wish him speedy recovery”. He attended only 3 days of Parliament in nearly two years and even PJ Kurien questioned his vanishing act once. In 2014, Mithun Chakraborty was elected to the Rajya Sabha. He courted controversy for his association with Saradha group. Although later he said that Saradha hadn’t paid his due amount.

I-T raids bullion market, Kotak Mahindra bank

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Early Friday morning around 6 o’clock, income tax (I-T) officials stormed the Kuncha Mahazani bullion market in the Chandni Chowk area of central Delhi. The income tax raids are being carried out on four big jewellers who have allegedly sold gold worth Rs 250 crore post demonetization. Sources said most of these deals had been taken place through RTGS via Fake Accounts in some banks.In another case, the I-T department raided K G Marg branch in Connaught Place of the Kotak Mahindra Bank in connection with two of its customer accounts and questioned the manager on Friday.Rohit Rao, official spokesperson of Kotak Mahindra Bank, said in a statement, “I-T department has visited the bank’s branch in connection with the survey of two of its customers and their related accounts. No KYC deficiencies were noted in these two customers. The I-T department questioned the branch manager and no adverse report has been submitted so far.”After finishing the raid, the I-T Team joined the operation at Chandni Chowk around 3 pm.Sources further revealed that the I-T department has got major evidence during the present raid on Axis Bank of Chandni Chowk and Noida branch. Currently, I-T officials are asking for the particular trading details and their entries in the account books.The president of Bullion Market Association of Chandni Chowk, Ram Avatar said to DNA that the I-T team is investigating some traders since Thursday morning. However, the raids intensified on Friday morning.

Demonetization: Noted economists criticize PM Modi’s decision in Standing Committee of Finance

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Three out of four economists summoned by the Standing Committee of Finance headed by Congress MP Veerappa Moily, expressed deep anxiety and concern towards the demonetization being pursued by the Bhartiya Janata Party. Noted economists Kavita Rao, Professor at National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, Pronab Sen, former Chief Statistician to the government of India and Mahesh Vyas, CEO, Centre for Monitoring Indian economy were critical of the demonetization process whereas Rajiv Kumar, senior fellow, Centre for Policy Research argued for it in front of the committee. “This committee will submit its report on demonetization on the first day of the Budget Session of the Parliament,” said a member of the committee on the condition of anonymity.Sources confirmed to WION-DNA that the experts questioned how the conversion of cash economy into digital would take place within the confined time declared by the central government. All three economists who expressed concern on demonetization spoke on the issue of counterfeit currency, inflation and black money. The above mentioned economists argued in the committee that a lot of unaccounted black money does not exist in cash and is parked in other sectors of the economy. Sources also confirmed that three economists said that currency reform might end up spiking the inflation instead of reducing it. Lastly, it was also argued that for a meaningful war against black money, the government should denotify a part of the currency every two years.The Committee has decided to call Urjit Patel, Governor, Reserve Bank of India and members of the Indian Banking Association on January 19, 2017. The meeting was also attended by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.Even the Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to meet the economists on December 27 to discuss the state of the economy. The economists in the first half of the day will meet the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and spend the second half with the PM. Since the exercise has become politically contested, every opinion of experts in this field counts both for the government and the Opposition.

‘Impossible’ to implement SC order on shifting liquor shops : Odisha govt

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Odisha government on Monday said it was “impossible” to implement the Supreme Court order to shift liquor shops to at least 500 m away from national and state highways.”It is impossible to move liquor shops 500 metre away from the highways. There are usually villages, temples, mutts located 500 m away from the highways. People will object to liquor shops there. How can one open liquor shops? These kind of issues will come up in large numbers,” Excise Minister Damodar Rout said. Rout, who had earlier said that total prohibition was an “impractical” idea, said, “It may so happen that most liquor shops won’t apply for licenses under such a condition,” he said. Meanwhile, Odisha Liquor Sellers’ Association decided to convene a meeting of its managing body to discuss the subject.”We will call a managing body meeting over this issue,” secretary of the association Prabhat Das said.Excise officials said the state’s excise revenue collection would be “severely hit” if liquor shops are shifted 500 m away from the highways. While the excise collection in 2015-16 was Rs 2,568 crore, the state government expected an additional Rs 800 crore in the ongoing fiscal. Besides, demonetization has already made a visible impact on liquor sales across the state, they said.Hotel and Restaurant Association of Odisha has said it will be difficult to shift the liquor shops.There are above 500 such liquor shops across the state located within 500 m from the highways, official sources said.

Maharashtra: Polling on for third phase of local body elections

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Polling is being held for the third phase of elections in 20 municipal councils and two nagar panchayats in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad, Nanded, Bhandara and Gadchiroli districts.The voting is on in Aurangabad and Nanded, which fall under Marathwada region, and Bhandara and Gadchiroli districts of Vidharbha region.There are 1,623 candidates in fray, including 119 for the posts of president of municipal councils.As per a report of Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), there are 90 crorepati candidates in the third phase.The election to the Desaiganj municipal council in Gadchiroli has already attracted a lot of attention.The Maharashtra Election Commission has countermanded the election to one ward of the municipal council after Rashtriya Samaj Paksha president and state Dairy Development Mahadev Jankar allegedlytried to pressurise a poll official and influencing the election process.However, Jankar has denied the allegation.

Maha local bodies polls: 8% candidates in Phase-3 are ‘crorepatis’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>About eight per cent of the candidates –analysed by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Maharashtra Election Watch (MEW)– who are contesting the third phase of elections to the Municipal Council and Nagar Panchayats in four districts of Maharashtra, are crorepatis.Local bodies elections will be held for 342 seats in Aurangabad, Nanded, Bhandara and Gadchiroli districts on Sunday.Screening of self-sworn affidavits (done by both these non-government bodies) of 1142 candidates out of the 1623 who are contesting the third phase of 20 Municipal Councils and two Nagar Panchayats across the state, have shown that 90 (8% of 1142) are crorepatis.Due to unavailability of some affidavits, ADR could not analyse candidates contesting for Municipal Councils of Vaijapur, Gangapur (both Aurangabad district), Kandhar (Nanded district) and Nagar Panchayats of Ardhapur & Mahoor (both Nanded district).The average assets per candidate analysed for this election, is Rs 31.97 lakhs, for these four districts.The candidate with highest declared total assets is Ganesh Jaikisan Fafat who is contesting from Desaiganj Municipal Council (Gadchiroli), with assets worth Rs 6 crore plus. There are 264 (excluding one zero asset) candidates who declared assets below Rs 2 lakhs. The candidate with highest declared total liabilities is also Fafat with liabilities of Rs 1.55 crores. Agewise, about 69 candidates have declared to be between 21 to 24 years; 175 candidates between 25 to 30 years, 349 candidates between 31 to 40 years; 333 candidates are between 41 to 50 years; 154 candidates have declared their age to be between 51 to 60 years, 57 candidates are between 61 to 70 years while five candidates had declared their age to be between 71 to 80 years.Out of total 1142 analysed candidates, 578 (51%) are men whereas 564 (49%) are women.

NGT orders national ban on ‘manja’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In an interim order passed on Wednesday, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) banned nylon and glass-coated cotton kite strings or manja across the country in view of its threat to humans, animals, and birds. The nationwide ban will be in place till the next hearing on February 1, 2017, which means that the sale of nylon or Chinese manja, synthetic manja, and cotton manja coated with glass will not be permitted during Makar Sankranti. Kite-flying enthusiasts though, will be able to use cotton kite strings.While passing the order, the principal bench, headed by NGT chairperson justice Swatanter Kumar, has directed the Manja Association of India to submit a detailed report on the adverse effects of the kite strings to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). On the basis of that report, CPCB will submit its recommendations to the Tribunal for a long-term solution on the issue.The principal bench, headed by NGT chairperson justice Swatanter Kumar, passed the interim order while hearing the petition of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The non-profit organization had sought a ban on use of harmful manjas on grounds that the sharp manjas have caused deaths in many parts of the country and every year low-flying kites and manjas cause injuries to hundreds of birds.Besides pointing out the fatal consequences of getting lacerated by manjas the PETA petition also said that the nylon, metal, plastic, and synthetic manjas are non-biodegradable and pollute the environment and also cause electricity supply disruptions when they come in contact with power cables. In 2014, the union environment, forest, and climate change ministry too issued an advisory to chief secretaries of all states and union territories to initiate action with regard to use of manja, the PETA petition mentioned. The advisory had stated that, “kite flyers who use such strings endanger birds such as pigeons, crows, owls, kites, and vultures”, that are threatened species.During Wednesday’s hearing, PETA’s counsel senior advocate Sanjay Hegde informed the bench that the High Courts of Allahabad, Jammu and Kashmir, and Rajasthan had previously issued directives banning use of manja in their respective states.

Uphaar fire case: Supreme Court reserves order on pleas seeking review of 2015 verdict

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court reserved its verdict on pleas of CBI and the victims’ body seeking review of the 2015 verdict in the Uphaar fire tragedy case asking real estate barons Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal to serve a two-year jail term if they fail to pay Rs 30 crore each as fine. The probe agency and the Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) have sought review of the apex court verdict, delivered on August 19, 2015, sending Ansal brothers to two years rigorous jail term if they fail to pay Rs 30 crore each within three months. The convicts have already paid the fine.A three-judge bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Kurian Joseph and Adarsh Kumar Goel reserved the judgement on the review pleas after hearing two-hour-long arguments, advanced by counsel for CBI, AVUT and Ansal brothers. Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for CBI, said the fines are imposed additionally and they cannot substitute “substantive” jail term awarded to convicts in a case. “Fine in lieu of conviction is alien in criminal jurisprudence,” he said, noting that while hearing the appeals against the high court verdict, the apex court had ordered “substantive conviction” by saying that the fine imposed can be “only be additional”.”Enhancement of sentence, subject to fine, is erroneous in law,” Salve said.Taking note of the submission, the bench said, “If you (Salve) are right in the first point we will not have to go any further.” Senior advocate Salman Khurshid, appearing for Ansal brothers, said the core issue was the sentence which comprised both jail term and fine. “This long saga must come to an end. Four more months of jail term will not make much difference,” he said.Senior advocate KTS Tulsi, appearing for AVUT, said that the waiver of remaining jail term on payment of fines was not justified. 59 people had died of asphyxia when a fire broke out during the screening of Bollywood movie ‘Border’ in Uphaar theatre in Green Park area of South Delhi on June 13, 1997. Over 100 were also injured in the subsequent stampede.

Want assurance that pellet guns will not be used indiscriminately: Supreme Court

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Wednesday said pellet guns should not be used “indiscriminately” for controlling street protests in Jammu and Kashmir and be resorted to only after “proper application of mind” by the authorities.A bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur issued notices to the Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir government while seeking their replies on a plea alleging “excessive” use of pellet guns in the state. The apex court also sought assistance of Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi on the issue and asked him to submit copy of the report submitted by the Expert Committee constituted for exploring other alternatives to pellet guns.”Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi is requested to assist this Court and to place on record a copy of the report, if any, submitted by the Expert Committee, constituted by the Government of India in terms of its Office Memorandum/Order dated July 26, 2016… Needful be done within six weeks from today,” the bench also comprising Justice D Y Chandrachud said while posting the matter for hearing on January 30. “All that we want is an assurance that pellet guns will not be used indiscriminately or excessively in the state and will be resorted to after proper application of mind,” the bench observed.The court was hearing an appeal filed by Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association against the High Court order seeking stay on use of pellet guns as a large number of people had been killed or injured due to its use. The Jammu and Kashmir High Court had on September 22 rejected the plea seeking a ban on use of pellet guns on the ground that the Centre had already constituted a Committee of Experts through its Memorandum dated July 26, 2016 for exploring alternatives to pellet guns.Taking note of the statement, the High Court had disposed of the petition, saying that no further direction was required since the matter was being looked at by the Centre. The High Court Bar Association challenged the order, contending that High Court should not have disposed the petition and instead waited or called for the report of the expert committee. The High Court had also declined to accept the plea to prosecute the officers who ordered use of pellet guns and those who actually fired them.It had also directed the authorities concerned to ensure that all the injured are extended adequate medical treatment by specialists for whatever injury they sustain.

I hurt Jayalalithaa, was key reason for AIADMK’s defeat: Rajinikanth

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tamil ‘Superstar’ Rajinikanth on Sunday paid rich tributes to late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, describing her as a ‘kohinoor diamond’ who had made her way up through difficulties in a male-dominated society.At a condolence meeting, organised by the South Indian Artistes’ Association or the Nadigar Sangam for Jayalalithaa and actor-journalist Cho S Ramaswami, Rajinikanth also recalled his strong statements against her during the 1996 Assembly polls, which had “hurt” her.”I had hurt her. I was a key reason for her (party’s) defeat,” he said, referring to his criticism of the then AIADMK government.The actor had then famously remarked that “even god can’t save Tamil Nadu” if Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK was elected to power again. The then DMK-TMC (Tamil Maanila Congress) combine had swept the polls amid strong anti-incumbency.Jayalalithaa, however, later proved to be a “golden-hearted” leader, Rajinikanth said.Paying rich tributes to the former chief minister, he said it was with great difficulty that she could take over the reins of the AIADMK following the death of its founder and her political mentor MG Ramachandran and that she had even overtaken him in achievements.He likened her to a diamond, saying the challenges of life had further polished her.Having lost her father at the age of two and mother 20 years later, she faced various challenges including having no family but achieved fame by hard work in a male-dominated society, he said.”Today, she is resting like a kohinoor diamond at the MGR memorial site and enjoys the love and affection of so many people,” he added.He also paid rich tributes to Ramaswamy, his long time friend.Hospitalised on September 22 and having suffered a cardiac arrest on December 4, 68-year-old Jayalalithaa had passed away the next day.Ramaswamy, a veteran journalist, satirist, playwright and actor died of illness on December 7.

Ancient cures for a modern world

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>This is how Tribhuvan Singh Kawar, a “village vegetation specialist” from Algidand village in Chhattisgarh’s Korba district, subdues scorpions: “Get the scorpion to smell black musli by breaking the twig between its eyes. This is dangerous so don’t use your hands, but tweezers or something to keep a safe distance. Carefully watch the scorpion’s tail which has all the poison and which it uses to sting. The tail moves constantly but some time after the scorpion has ‘smelt’ the musli, you’ll see that it has stilled. Then gently pick it up in your hand.”Sounds bizarre, does it?Kawar’s audience — founders/senior functionaries of NGOs with long experience in tribal/local health practices, eminent ethnobotanists and public health experts, etc, who have gathered in Jamshedpur for a conclave organised by Tata Steel on ‘tribal health systems’ — listen without any obvious scepticism. Perhaps, they’ve heard many such fantastic sounding claims over the years? Or perhaps, there’s some basis, yet undiscovered, to what Kawar says – and these experts, aware of how little tribal medicine is understood by modern science, know better than to scoff?After all — and I heard this from more than one expert during the four-day conclave — both the cures known to modern science for malaria, still a giant killer globally, have come from tribal medicine — quinine from the Cinchona tree that indigenous tribes in Peru used; and artemisinin, for which a Chinese researcher, Tu Youyou, got the Nobel last year, from Qinghao, a herb well known in traditional Chinese pharmacopoeia.Promoting remediesBut for all that, it’s hard not to be skeptical as one looks around the tables laid out at the conclave venue, laden with an assortment of strange-looking roots, tubers, shoots, leaves, barks, seeds, fruits, branches, etc; crudely packed zip-lock pouches and used plastic jars of all sizes filled with oils and powders, some of them bearing crude hand-written stickers indicating which diseases they should be used for – some, I see, are labelled “cancer”.In a few stalls, the wares look a little more refined — the powders have been packed into capsules and tablets, or filled in specially designed bottles, with printed labels mentioning the name, address and registration number of the manufacturer, along with a list of ingredients, conditions it may be used for and ‘directions for use’. Evidently, tribal medicine, like Ayurveda, Unani, Siddhi and others, is also trying to reach out beyond its traditional market in rural India.To that end, as the banners behind the tables showed, tribal healers in several regions across the country had banded together into associations, often with the support of NGOs or government bodies, in order to promote their remedies.The Apunba Manipur Maiba-Maibi Phurup or the Manipur State Traditional Healers’ Association, for instance, is more than 40 years-old and has around 1,100 members. “Since 2011, we have been working with the Institute of Bioresources and Sustainable Development in Imphal, which is under the government of India’s Ministry of Science and Technology, to validate all our medicines,” says N Tombi Raj, President, Manipur State Traditional Healers’ Association. Similarly, in Gadchiroli, an NGO called Amhi Amchya Arogyasathi has brought tribal healers together to help them process their remedies into packaged medicines sold under the brand-name Aranyak and also cultivate the herbs and plants they use to make their medicines in larger quantities. PALAS India, an NGO which operates in the tribal-dominated forests that line the India-Nepal border in Uttar Pradesh runs a similar programme. Deo Chandra Kushwaha, one of the founders, reveals that with unrestrained deforestation, the healers find it increasingly difficult tofind the herbs they need. “They have to go deeper and deeper into the jungles, which means an entire day lost,” he says. PALAS India has also set up several Charak Forest-medicine and Natural Primary Care centres in towns across Uttar Pradesh — Sirsia, Amethi, Ramnagar and Allahabad to name a few — to help the healers earn a steady income.Government affiliationAmong other NGOs doing notable work is Laya, which has been involving the Vaidus or traditional healers of Andhra Pradesh’s East Godvari district, a scheduled area, in healthcare initiatives within their community. Besides, it has set up a network of community herbal gardens and also runs a pharmacy, Vanantharam, to produce and market tribal remedies. Kawar, the scorpion catcher, is himself a member of the Traditional Healers’ Association of Chhattisgarh, which has been marshalling the expertise of these traditional healers — ‘village botanical experts’ they are called — to help improve the health parameters of the state’s tribal population. The initiative, which was honoured with the Equator Prize in 2014, has the support of the state government’s Medical Plants Board, the Centre’s environment ministry and the UNDP. Traditional practitionersFor nearly a tenth of India’s population, the 10.5 crore tribals who live deep inside the forests, the traditional medicine practitioners remain the only recourse for healthcare, says H Sudarshan, a Padma Shri recipient, and founder of Vivekananda Girijana Kalyana Kendra. Founded in 1981, the NGO has done pioneering work in the area of healthcare among the Soliga tribals in Karnataka. “Primary health centres (PHCs) are often located 20-30 km away, usually a half day’s journey away. It’s just too far to go unless there’s an emergency. Then again, city-bred doctors and nurses don’t like rural postings, so most PHCs don’t have proper staff or medicines,” he says.There’s also much, says Sudarshan, that modern medicine can learn from tribal practices. “As a young doctor fresh out of a medical college in the 1970s, I was shocked to find that tribal women delivered babies squatting on the floor surrounded by family members. There were no beds and sometimes even the husband helped deliver the child. And now modern science recognises that the squatting position is the most scientifically appropriate for childbirth,” he says. Others like Abhay Bang, renowned public health expert who works in tribal-dominated Gadchiroli district, and is chairperson of an expert group set up by the government of India to work on a comprehensive policy on tribal health, are more circumspect in their endorsement of tribal health practices.“Tribal medicines and other indigenous belief systems must go through the acid test of science,” Bang says. “Undoubtedly, the tribal doctors are close to their patients, they are part of tribal society, their remedies are also appropriate to their culture and accessible. But there’s witchcraft, too, and often exploitative. If a tribal healer comes forward and says he can cure cancer, it is the job of bodies like the ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) or CSIR (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) to screen those claims for plausibility, to conduct clinical trials, test on animal. “This has been missing — a systematic, scientific national effort to identify and understand the mysteries of the tribals’ jadi-booti medicines. There have been a few initiatives in this direction, such as the 16-year long All India Coordinated Research Project on Ethnobiology (1982-1998) to identify and document the wealth medicinal plants and their uses across the length and breadth of the country. “But there hasn’t been much follow up research on our findings since then,” says Prof P Pushpangadan, the scientist who led the research. Part of the reason could also be the healers’ suspicion of modern science’s moves to usurp their traditional knowledge. In Manipur, for instance, the healers’ association only agreed to share their knowledge with the Institute of Bioresources and Sustainable Development after it had signed an MoU specifying that the latter would help them get a patent for their remedies. Pushpangadan himself has showed immense potential in this area with what has come to be celebrated as the Kani participatory model. “I came across the Kani tribals in north Kerala while doing my research. They lived in the Western Ghats region and became tired going over the hilly region. The Kanis however were not. I discovered the secret was a leaf they kept munching on that would keep them energised. They offered me some and I could vouch for its effects,” says Pushpangadan. Pushpagandan had the plant that the Kanis called Jeevani analysed and found that it had amazing anti-stress and immune-stimulating properties, boosted stamina, relieved fatigue, and activated the body’s immune system. The Jeevani plant was then patented, and a drug formulated at the Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanical Garden and Research Institute, where Pushpangadan worked. A manufacturer then bought rights to make the Jeevani medicine, and hearteningly, the proceeds from that were shared with the Kani tribals. “This was the first time that the tribals earned from their traditional knowledge,” says Pushpangadan.That was in 1987; there hasn’t been another Jeevani since.

Eight Tamil Nadu fishermen injured in attack by Sri Lankan navy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Eight Tamil Nadu fishermen were injured when they were allegedly attacked by the Sri Lankan Navy for fishing in their territorial waters.”Eight fishermen from Pudukottai district were fishing off Neduntheevu on Saturday evening when the Lankan naval personnel attacked them using iron rods and wires before chasing them away,” Fisheries department Joint Director Sekar said.The injured fishermen are being treated at the government hospital at Manalmelkudi in that district.In another incident, more than 2500 fishermen from this island town were forced to return without their catch after they were allegedly chased away by the Lankan Navy for fishing off Katchatheevu, yesterday.”The naval personnel allegedly pelted stones and snapped the nets of nearly 30 boats forcing the fishermen to flee and return to the shore this morning,” Rameswaram Fishermen’s Association President P Sesuraja said.”The fishermen had ventured into the sea in more than 600 boats last evening and were fishing off Katchatheevu when they were attacked,” he added.

Ayurvedic hospital patients can seek health cover, says govt

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Patients subscribing to ayurveda for treatment will also be able to seek health cover as the Centre has issued guidelines to insurance companies to this effect, the Rajya Sabha was informed on Wednesday.Patients at Central and state government hospitals, ayurvedic hospitals accredited by National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers (NABH) or registered with a government authority will be eligible for health cover, MoS for AYUSH Shripad Yesso Naik said in reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha.The guidelines specify 20 different kinds of ailments that can be included in a health insurance scheme. It also lists the cost of different kinds of therapies in order to provide benchmarks for calculating treatment expenditure to settle an insurance claim.According to the ministry, these guidelines are the outcome of consultations among Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA), Ayurvedic Hospitals Association and Insurance Companies.Similar guidelines will be issued “soon” for Unani, Siddha, Yoga, Naturopathy and Homeopathy, the AYUSH ministry said.

Mamata Banerjee asks West Bengal civil service officers not to act on Centre’s direction

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday asked WBCS officers not to act on any directive by the central government without asking the state government.”Instructions are coming from Delhi these days. Remember that you work for the state (government). You inform us but do not implement things on your own,” Banerjee said addressing an annual general meeting of West Bengal Civil Service (Executive) Officers Association here. She said the state government would tell them what should be done and what not to be. Banerjee has alleged that the Narendra Modi government has been trying to bulldoze the federal structure and giving direct orders to district magistrates.On the issue of demonetization, the Chief Minister said that the state’s revenue had fallen by 25 per cent. “Small sector industries, unorganised sector, salaried class people are all in an unstable condition,” she said.Describing WBCS officers as the “face of the government”, she announced new facilities for the cadre.”IAS officers will now get a special allowance of Rs 1,300 while WBCS will get Rs 1,200,” Banerjee said adding that now the government has allowed WBCS cadre to go on foreign tours and increased facilities for training.

Uphaar fire case: Ansals assure SC they will not leave India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Real estate barons Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal on Monday assured the Supreme Court that they would not leave India till it commences hearing on the plea seeking review of the 2015 verdict in the Uphaar fire tragedy case asking them to serve a two-year jail term if they fail to pay Rs 30 crore each as fine.A bench comprising Justices JS Khehar and NV Ramana considered the submission of Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) that there was a media report about the possibility of Ansals leaving the country in the absence of a restraint order from the apex court. Initially, the court said it would list the interim plea of AVUT for hearing tomorrow as a three-judge bench was not available today.However, the bench later asked the counsel representing Ansals to give an undertaking “on instructions from his clients” that they would not leave India till commencement of hearing on review pleas filed by AVUT and the CBI in the case.Senior advocate K T S Tulsi, appearing for AVUT, mentioned the plea for urgent hearing, saying “restrain respondents accused Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal from travelling abroad without seeking necessary permission of this court during the pendency of present review petition.” AVUT, through its President Neelam Krishnamoorthy, who had lost her two teenaged children in the blaze, cited a media report that convicts were “on the verge of fleeing the country”. “Grave prejudice and irreparable loss would be caused to the Applicant/Review Petitioner (AVUT) if the respondents accused, Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal travel abroad, without seeking necessary permission of this court,” the plea said.59 people had died of asphyxia when a fire broke out during the screening of Bollywood movie ‘Border’ in Uphaar theatre in Green Park area of South Delhi on June 13, 1997. Over 100 were also injured in the subsequent stampede. Earlier, AVUT had mentioned the review plea for urgent hearing before a bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur who said a new bench would be constituted to hear the review petitions filed by the CBI and Association.Prior to that, a bench headed by Justice A R Dave, now retired, had decided to hear in open court the petitions filed by CBI and the AVUT seeking review of the 2015 verdict. Following the judgement, Sushil and Gopal had deposited Rs 30 crore each to avoid the jail term. In its review plea, AVUT had said the apex court judgement “bestow an unwarranted leniency on convicts whose conviction in the most heinous of offences has been upheld by all courts including this court and sentences imposed on them have been substituted with fine without assigning any reason.” “The sentences of the convicts have been reduced to the period undergone without taking into account the gravity of their offence,” it had said.The CBI, in its review plea, had said the apex court did not give it time to put its views forth which resulted in “miscarriage of justice”. The agency has said, “Due to the paucity of time on the day on which this case was heard, the prosecution could not adequately put across the reasons why this court should not substitute jail sentence with a monetary fine. “This petition also seeks to raise issue of an apparent error of law in the judgement and order of this court which has occasioned a grave miscarriage of justice,” it said.CBI had also claimed that “callousness” of Ansal brothers led to 59 people being trapped and suffocated to death in the theatre. The apex court had, on August 19, 2015 sent Ansal brothers to two years rigorous jail term if they failed to pay Rs 30 crore each within three months.In a judgement on September 23, 2015, the bench had said the “magnitude” of the case “calls for a higher sentence” but the court has to limit itself to the choice available under the law. Earlier, a two-judge bench of justices T S Thakur and Gyan Sudha Misra (since retired) had in a March 5, 2014 order differed on the quantum of sentence for Ansal brothers.While Justice Thakur had retained the one-year jail term awarded by Delhi High Court in 2008, Justice Misra had pronounced the maximum punishment of two years with a rider that it can be reduced to the period already undergone behind bars on joint payment of Rs 100 crore as fine by them.The matter was later referred to a three-judge bench headed by Justice Dave (since retired) which enhanced the sentence to the maximum period of two years under section 304-A (causing death by negligence) of IPC if they failed to pay the fine amount. While Sushil has spent over five months in prison, Gopal was in jail for over four months soon after the accident. The three-judge bench had also said that on the principle of parity, the case of Gopal will stand on the same footing as that of Sushil.

Demonetisation round-up: Goyal says 100% success, Kerala FM calls it ‘calamity’

The fumes that have arisen ever since PM Narendra Modi made the demonetisation announcement on 8 November refuses to abate. The public has been standing in long queues ever since with many having to return empty handed, some being given less than their requested amounts and most ATMs dispensing only Rs 2000 notes while many went dry.

Over the weekend, the trouble just heightened for the common man as customers rushed to ATMs to withdraw their salary credited just a day or two back. The queues before ATMs were lengthier and stretched beyond late night at certain places.

PTIPTI

PTI

Meanwhile, supporters and those opposing the scheme continued their war of words. Here’s a round-up of what happened over the weekend:

Need clear tax laws to prevent black money creation: Niti chief

Terming taxation laws in the country as ‘ill-defined’, Niti Aayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya called for removing ambiguities in them so as to do away with “discretion of the tax officer”. He also said that demonetisation of high value currency is just one step to combat black money, and more needs to be done. “Tax reform is really important to curb black money,” he said at a panel discussion here.

Retailers asked to accept old Rs 500 note for recharges: COAI

Amid complaints about non-acceptance of old Rs 500 notes for mobile recharges at some places, cellular operators body COAI has said the companies have given strict guidelines to accept these notes from customers but retailers and distributors cannot be forced. COAI Director General Rajan Mathews said that operators have provided strict guidelines to their distributors and retailers for accepting and processing Rs 500 demonetised notes so that no inappropriate activity, contrary to the objectives of the government, takes place. “However, these retailers and distributors cannot be forced to do something they do not want to do, if they believe the process is tedious.

Depositing black money in banks will not make it white: FM

Issuing a veiled warning, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said one cannot convert black money into white by merely depositing unaccounted cash in bank accounts as taxes are required to be paid on them. “By just depositing it (unaccounted money), you don’t avoid the responsibility of paying tax,” he said when asked about surge in deposits in banks following withdrawal of high denomination currency notes. He further said the income tax department is keeping an eye on such deposits.

Goyal describes demonetisation scheme ‘100 percent success’

Power Minister Piyush Goyal described the decision to demonetise currency notes “100 per cent success” and said money which was not kept in bank accounts has come into formal economy and now is traceable. “We have never imagined that (black) money will not be deposited in banks. We have given 50 days time to deposit (old currency notes of Rs 500/1,000) money,” Goyal told reporters.

Kerala FM terms demonetisation as ‘national calamity’

Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac described the Centre’s decision to demonetise old Rs 500 and 1,000 notes a “national calamity” which has put the nation in a turmoil. “There is going to be a severe downturn. Even if you take 2 percent (decline in GDP as suggested by former prime minister Manmohan Singh)… it means something like loss of production of Rs 2.5 lakh crore…,” Isaac said, adding that the Centre’s move is now impacting almost all sectors of the economy. He dubbed it as a failed exercise, saying Prime Minister Narendra Modi is shifting the goalpost to cashless economy.

Petrol pumps get into digital overdrive, play up wallets

Making a push to promote digital payment post demonetisation, petrol pumps across the country have installed infrastructure to accept not just credit and debit cards but e-wallets and mobile wallets as an alternative to cash. Also, over 4,800 petrol pumps across the country are dispensing Rs 2,000 per card a day through POS machine swipes and have dispensed Rs 65 crore in the past two weeks.

Aiyar says Modi bungled ‘big time’ on note ban implementation

Noted journalist Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar criticised the note ban, saying Prime Minister Narendra Modi has ‘bungled on a big scale’ so far but added he may still come out successful with some doles to the poor. He also warned that nobody has fully gauged demonetisation’s impact on the economy. Blaming Modi’s ‘lack of trust’ in anyone for the poor handling of the demonetisation move, he said it was done in great secrecy with even his own senior Cabinet colleagues not kept in the loop. “Modi does not trust his own Cabinet or anyone else, due to which he was incapable of preparing it well. The result is that it has been bungled on a very big scale,” Aiyar said.

RuPay card usage jumps 118 pc in 1st week of demonetization

RuPay card usage jumped by over 118.6 percent in the week following demonetisation that took effect from 8 November midnight while the overall debit and credit card transactions recorded an increase of 70.5 percent. According to RBI data, the usage of RuPay card at POS terminals soared by as much as 200.6 per cent to 46.6 lakh transactions during November 9-15. This compares with 15.5 lakh swipes during November 1-8.

Two-day seminar by CAIT to educate traders on e-payment

Seeking to educate traders about digital payment framework, a two-day seminar was organised by an umbrella body of traders to ease them in transitioning to a different transaction format. “With the kind of developments happening in the country we as traders will have to look for ways to enhance acceptance of digital payment to shift from traditional cash-based economy,” said Praveen Khandelwal, Secretary General, CAIT.

Bank unions seek Jaitley’s intervention to end cash-shortage

Two large bank unions on 2 December demanded immediate intervention of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in ending the acute cash shortage in the system following the demonetisation of high-value notes last month. In a letter written to Jaitley, All-India Bank Employees Association and All-India Bank Officers Association said: “You (Jaitley) are very well aware of the problems being faced by the bank staff and customers after 8 November (when demonetisation was announced). Even after so many days we find that problem of acute cash shortage persists due to lack of lower denomination notes and non-functional ATMs,” the letter said.

Rs 2.5 lakh crore won’t come back into banking system: SBI

State Bank of India has estimated that money worth Rs 2.5 lakh crore may not come back into the banking system post demonetisation of high-value notes. On 8 November, the government banned banknotes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 worth over Rs 14 lakh crore from the economy. As per the SBI analysis, the market estimate of Rs 14.18 lakh crore currency – excluding cash with banks — is based on March 2016 data while in reality it should be based on data available as on 9 November, a day after demonetisation was announced. SBI noted that going by data as on 9 November, the amount of high currency denomination notes was Rs 15.44 lakh crore (excluding cash in the banks), an increase of Rs 1.26 lakh crore compared to the March figure.

Cash pain remains as demand outstrips supply

Shortage of cash continued to make things difficult as ATMs ran out of money quickly even as banks rationed valid notes to meet requirements of as many customers as possible. There were reports suggesting that bank branches from across the country did not get sufficient cash to take care of pay day withdrawals. While RBI placed weekly withdrawal limit of Rs 24,000 per person, bank branches on their own have further lowered the ceiling to make cash available to more people. The ATMs too did not come to the rescue either as most went dry soon after being loaded with cash, given the huge pent-up demand. Many ATMs were dispensing mainly Rs 2,000 notes.

Demonetisation: 27 senior PSU banks officials suspended

In a major crackdown on bank employees involved in irregularities post demonetisation, as many as 27 senior officials of various public sector banks have been suspended and six others transferred to check corrupt practices. The suspensions come amid reports of Income Tax authorities conducting search and seizure in many places, including one at Bengaluru where Rs 5.7 crore cash in new currency notes was recovered from two businessmen.

India Ratings lowers GDP forecast to 6.8% post demonetisation

India Ratings today lowered its GDP forecast for 2016-17 to 6.8 percent from 7.8 percent earlier, stating that the demonetisation drive will lead to an erosion of Rs 1.5 trillion this fiscal. “We have revised GDP growth forecast for 2016-17 to 6.8 percent, 100 basis points lower than earlier projection of 7.8 percent. The downward revision is a fallout of the disruptions caused at various levels in the economy due to the de-legalisation of banknotes from November 9, which according to our analysis can cost economy a Rs 1.5 trillion,” it said.

With PTI

First Published On : Dec 5, 2016 12:10 IST

Kashmir unrest: Private schools remain open on weekends after shutdown

Srinagar: With educational activities in Kashmir picking up after remaining suspended for over four months due to the unrest, private schools in the valley are following separatist-issued ‘protest calendar’ by remaining open only during the relaxation period over the weekend.

Students are happy to resume their class-work, which was affected by the continuous shutdown following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces on 8 July. The schools went on a two-week summer holiday on 1 July but could not resume functioning due to the unrest.

The separatists, spearheading the agitation since Wani’s killing, have been issuing weekly protest programmes against the civilian killings in the unrest and in support of their demand for right to self-determination. They have also announced periodic 15-hour relaxation in the strike on few days of the week, with two full days of relaxation on Saturdays and Sundays.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Since the 16 November announcement of weekend relaxation by the separatists, private schools in the valley decided to resume class-work on these two days, as education in Kashmir was hit hard by the unrest, with schools and colleges, including government-run institutions, remaining closed for over four months with no or minimal activity.

“It feels good to be back at school. I was getting tired sitting idle at home without any class-work or studies. It has affected us but we should remain focused now,” Zia-ul-Islam, a student at a private school, said.

Kashmir remains abuzz with activity on the weekends as shops, business establishments and fuel stations open in the early hours while public transport plies on all roads from the morning on these two days. Most of the private educational institutions have also been functioning over the weekend since the announcement of relaxation in the strike, though government-run schools have not followed the separatists’ announcements.

Private Schools Association of Kashmir (PSAK) has asked the schools to ensure 100 percent attendance of students and teachers during the relaxation period.

“Students are going through a hard phase. We have decided to help them in every possible way. Our entire staff will work overtime during the relaxation period to help the students,” PSAK chairman GN Var said. He said the association would ensure that schools remain open on Saturdays as well as Sundays.

There is no hesitation among the parents as well to send their children to schools on the weekend. “As the schools remain open only on weekends, I do not see any reason not to send my children to their schools.
Saturday and Sunday are full relaxation days. Public transport remains available, private cars can ply without any fear of stone-pelting, so students can reach their school without any hassles,” Javaid Ahmad, a resident of old city, said.

“There are still some problems in sending children to schools on weekdays. There is no transport, less activity in markets, chances of tension on the roads, so as a parent, I hesitate in sending my children to school on non-relaxation days,” he added.

However, government-run schools do not follow the separatist announcements. While teachers remain present in their respective schools on the weekdays, students do not attend the institutions.

The government-run schools are closed on Sundays.

The educational activity in the valley is limping back to normal after the government started conducting the annual board examinations.

The examinations for Std 12 began on 14 November, while those of Std 10 started a day later. Till then, since 1 July, there was no education-related activity in the valley schools.

As many as 86 people, including two cops, have been killed and several thousand others injured in the clashes between protesters and security forces in the valley in the unrest triggered by Wani’s killing. Around 5,000 security forces personnel have also been injured in those clashes.

First Published On : Dec 4, 2016 15:58 IST

NGT bans disposable plastic in Delhi & NCR from January 1, but allows Okhla plant to operate

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Green Tribunal on Friday banned the use of disposable plastic in Delhi and NCR with effect from January 1, 2017 and directed the city government to take steps to reduce dumped waste.A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Swatanter Kumar, however, refused to shut down the Okhla waste-to-energy plant and issued a slew of directions for its eco-friendly operation along with two other plants at Gazipur and Bhalswa.”We direct that the Okhla plant shall continue to operate subject to the order of the tribunal… All the corporations, DDA and other public authorities including NCT of Delhi are directed to take immediate steps for reduction and utilisation of dumped waste,” the bench said.Referring to the three dumping sites in Delhi — Okhla, Gazipur and Bhalswa, the tribunal said, “Each of these sites is a depiction of mess that can be created for environment and health of people of Delhi.”It said, “We direct that use of disposable plastic is prohibited in entire NCT of Delhi. The Delhi government shall take steps for storage and use of plastic materials with effect from January 1, 2017.”The bench also constituted a joint inspection team comprising member secretaries of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), A senior scientist of the Ministry of Environment and Forests along with an IIT Delhi professor, be nominated by the IIT director, directing it to file its report within six weeks and supervise and visit the plants once in two months.The directions came on a plea filed by Sukhdev Vihar Residents Welfare Association praying for closure of waste-to- energy plant alleging that it uses illegal mass burning technology which causes air pollution.The bench, while directing the plants to “strictly follow” the prescribed norms provided in the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act and the Solid Waste Management Rules 2016, said they will be fined Rs five lakh for non-compliance of directions and each pollution incident.It also said that an environment compensation of Rs 10,000 will be imposed on the vegetable vendors and slaughter houses for throwing garbage in public places.It directed the Delhi government to make operational the Shastri Park Waste Disposal Plant in six weeks after DPCC said it required an environmental clearance.The government has also been asked to include a condition in all tenders for construction work that they will use the waste materials released by the plants for road construction.During the last hearing, the tribunal had pulled up the Delhi government saying it was worried about everything except environment and had expressed displeasure that the government and municipal corporations were not unanimous over the total quantum of waste generated in the national capital.”There is mosquito breeding, dengue, different kinds of viral fever and you people are worried about everything except environment. There has to be some sense of responsibility,” the panel had said.Earlier, residents of the city’s Sukhdev Vihar area had told the tribunal that the Okhla waste-to-energy plant in South Delhi should be immediately shut down as it violated Delhi Master Plan 2021.The tribunal had rapped South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) over “inaccurate” data on various kinds of waste generated in the national capital daily.In its application, the association had also told the NGT that as per observations of the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, mass burning technology should be stopped immediately.

National Anthem SC verdict: Closed doors, not unpatriotic people caused Uphaar tragedy

On 30 November, the Supreme Court released an order making it mandatory for cinema halls to play the national anthem before the screening of each film, and for the audience to stand for the duration of the song. While most debates that lead from the order have centered around patriotism and free will with which it can be expressed or even reserved, the mandatory closing of doors of the hall during the anthem (part of the order by the Court) has issued a new line of questioning – that of safety.

Closest to that line are the victims of the 1997 Uphaar cinema fire tragedy in which 59 lives were lost. To the families and victims embroiled in an 18-year fight for justice, the latest Supreme Court order is a contradiction of its own previous stance and also something that undermines the importance of safety.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Talking to Firstpost, Neelam Krishnamurthy, who lost both her children in the tragedy and is the president of the Association of the Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT), said that there needs to be clarity on how the Court treats safety in the judgement. “We are not against the anthem being played. We are only concerned with the safety measures. If the doors to the hall are closed during the national anthem, and a fire breaks out then, what would then be the options left to the people on the inside. No clear exits, is the reason we have been fighting this battle for so long,” she said.

Krishnamurthy also said that the Supreme Court not only contradicted its own directives set in response to the Uphaar tragedy but also ruled against the Delhi Cinematography Act, which requires at least two exits to be open in the hall at all times. “The latest order against the DCA rules. In that case the Court either needs to change the rule or make it clear whether the doors will be manned etc,” she said. Krishnamurthy, who along with husband Shekhar only as late as October last month, released their personal story of struggle in the form of a book Trial by Fire. She also believes that safety cannot be ignored, and such orders have to take into account the possibility of human error and accountability as well. A person, as Krishnamurthy rightly points out, could simply forget to open a door or choose not do so in which case the blame game will last an eternity.

Navin Sahni, who lost his daughter in the tragedy, believes that it is not just the scale of tragedies and fires as big as Uphaar that the order risks ignoring the lessons from. Incidents can happen for a number of reasons. “We are patriots ourselves. And we don’t see a problem with the national anthem being played. But imagine if you are in the hall, and there is a snake or someone tries to flirt with the idea of one. It could cause a stampede and without clear exits people could choke and die,” he said. Sahni believes the Court has done itself no favours by ignoring its own findings.

While the families of the victims are clear about their consternation regarding the ignorance of safety measures in the order, on the legal side, the criticism is more severe. KTS Tulsi, a Supreme Court lawyer himself, who has been fighting the battle for justice for the Uphaar tragedy victims for well over ten years now, says that the order is absurd.”Aside from the totalitarian nature of the rule, a cinema hall is no sombre place for the national anthem to be played. The atmosphere is different. Films are paid entertainment. There are people from different age groups — even children, who cry all the time and are simply not aware of their surroundings. I don’t see why in such an environment, which people have paid for mind you, should be forced to do something,” he said. Tulsi feels that apart from being contrarian on the safety measures, the Court also needs to consider what is being accomplished out of this.

Most discourses originating from the order are likely to flirt with the sentiments of nationalism and patriotism. But for the families of those who died in the Uphaar cinema fire, this is all very personal. “My concern has always been safety. It is a case for preventing tragedies like Uphaar from happening again. Because you see, a fire won’t wait for the national anthem to be over and closed doors was the reason that people died in the [Uphaar] fire,” Krishnamurthy said. As the Supreme Court mulls over ways to infuse patriotism, it is worth being reminded of the losses these families suffered and the fact that tragedies do not first enquire about your level of patriotism.

First Published On : Dec 1, 2016 14:15 IST

Why can’t you but new vehicles: NGT refuses to lift diesel ban in Haryana

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Green Tribunal on Tuesday refused to permit over 10-year old diesel vehicles from plying in Karnal in Haryana and asked the state government to expedite installation of CNG stations. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar passed the order on the plea of Karnal Independent Schools Association seeking permission to ply diesel vehicles over 10 years old until adequate number of CNG filling stations are set up in their city that falls in the NCR.”Why can’t you buy new vehicles? Karnal is almost Delhi and it is as thickly populated as any colony here. You run international schools, charge handsomely, why can’t you buy new vehicles. We are not going to permit diesel vehicles in Karnal, you can be rest assured,” the bench said.When the NGT asked the lawyer appearing for association to file an affidavit stating that it was ready to fit new engines in the old buses, he withdrew his petition. In its plea, the association had said that it runs around 900 buses in 77 schools which were all private and unaided CBSE schools in Karnal.”The member schools do not have substantial means and resources to immediately procure approximately 175 new diesel buses. The schools cannot purchase new CNG fitted buses as well due to lack of adequate resources and as well as due to non-availability of CNG filling stations in the area. “Many of the children who attend these schools come from far flung, rural and remote areas as well and have no means of transport besides school buses. Many of these children belong to under privileged backgrounds as well,” the plea had said.The tribunal had earlier asked Uttar Pradesh and Haryana governments to mull over the possibility of installing CNG stations in NCR and consider the proposal after it was informed that there was no CNG station in Karnal and Meerut. On July 18, the green panel had directed authorities in Delhi-NCR to cancel the registration of all diesel-powered vehicles which were over 10 years old.

India don’t need turning wickets, says captain Kohli | Reuters

By Amlan Chakraborty
| MOHALI, India

MOHALI, India India have enough skill to win test matches irrespective of the nature of the wicket, skipper Virat Kohli said after a comprehensive eight-wicket victory over England in the third test on Tuesday.Debates about pitches overshadowed India’s 3-0 series victory over South Africa last year, with the Nagpur track labelled “poor” by the International Cricket Council following the home team’s victory inside three days.There were no such demons at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium where the tracks had something for the fast as well as the slow bowlers.”It’s been exactly 12 months since I was asked a question about us playing on unfair pitches,” Kohli said after a match where England paceman Ben Stokes claimed the only five-wicket haul.”Even when we played in Kolkata (against New Zealand) earlier this year we showed that we don’t need dry, square-turners.

“We have enough skill to play good cricket and win against any good team in the world. That’s the belief we have created in the changing room.”It was a perfectly good wicket for pace bowlers as well,” Kohli said. “Our guys really rushed in and put in an effort and got their results.

“It was a wicket if you persisted long enough you would get the results you wanted.”Since the series against South Africa last year, India have won in West Indies and beaten New Zealand to become the world’s number one test team.India are halfway through their bumper 13-test home season and Kohli was particularly happy with the depth of his bowling resources.

“It boosts your confidence up a notch when you have quality bowlers in reserve as well. As a captain you always feel you can ask your main guys to push themselves in every game,” he said.”We still have (pacemen) Ishant Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar waiting for their chance, even spinner Amit Mishra is not playing. The good thing is whoever is playing is standing up and making his presence felt.” (Editing by Tony Jimenez)

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

First Published On : Nov 29, 2016 19:33 IST

Soon, pay hospital bills via mobile wallet platforms

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Online and mobile transactions would soon become a common mode of payment at government hospitals across the country. The credit goes to demonetization following which the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has directed all the states to opt for cashless modes of transactions such as mobile wallets like paytm, Mobikwik, Oxygen wallet and PayPal etc.Having shown inability to handle the hassles faced by patients in private and government hospitals, Union Health Ministry has already reached out to Finance Ministry seeking a solution to the problem; meanwhile they are finding ways to ease out the situation.“We had directed all the states to accept old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes till November 24, 2016 as per the direction of Finance Ministry. Following an extension from Finance Ministry, though public hospitals will accept only Rs 500 notes till December 15, 2016, the challenge stands tall. We are aware that public is facing problems but we have to abide by the directives of Finance Ministry,” said Dr Arun K Panda, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.“We cannot device our own directives in this situation. We have already requested the hospitals to accept cheques and demand drafts. We have asked them to use other modes of payments also. Gradually, everything will settle down. We appeal people not to panic,” he said.The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has already started using Paytm and other wallets for transactions in the Out Patient Department (OPD)s. Interestingly, the hospital will have kiosks near OPDs where volunteers will guide and teach patients how to use their mobiles for making payment.“In government hospitals, OPD charges are already minimal. People come to AIIMS from faraway places, it is always better to go for cashless payments due to varied reasons. Mobile technology is being used at its best,” said Dr D K Sharma, Medical Superintendant and Head, Hospital Administration, AIIMS.The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has also issued an advisory for hospitals in interest of patients. According to the advisory, all doctors in practice should accept cheques and if facility available credit or debit cards. Most bank account holders have access to ATM cards. All private hospitals and medical stores should consider installing card payment machine and also most big hospitals have banks within their premises. Hospitals should also consider taking available money as advance at admission with an undertaking.Private hospitals have also become in tune to the current situation. “We being a corporate hospital, receive patients that already have health insurance. As far as foreign patients are concerned, embassies are in touch with our relative teams. We already have online banking facilities. There was a minor problem earlier, but now it is running smoothly,” said Dr Anupam Sibal, Group Medical Director, Apollo Hospitals.ADVISORY ISSUEDThe Indian Medical Association (IMA) has also issued an advisory for hospitals in interest of patients. According to the advisory, all doctors in practice should accept cheques and if facility available credit or debit cards. Most bank account holders have access to ATM cards.
All private hospitals and medical stores should consider installing card payment machine and also most big hospitals have banks within their premises. Hospitals should also consider taking available money as advance at admission with an undertaking.

Sri Lankan court extends remand of 11 Tamil Nadu fishermen

Mon, 28 Nov 2016-11:55am , Chennai , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Sri Lankan court extended till December 9, the remand of 11 Tamil Nadu fishermen on Monday, arrested for allegedly fishing in the island nation’s territorial waters.The Oorkavalthurai court in Sri Lanka, extended the judicial custody of the fishermen till December 9, Rameswaram Fishermen’s Association President P Sesuraja said.The 11 fishermen from this island town were arrested on November 18, by the Sri Lankan Navy, while they were fishing near Neduntheevu and lodged in Yalpanam prison there, he said.The naval personnel had also taken away their two mechanised boats, he added.

Virat Kohli gives thumbs-up to DRS | Reuters

By Amlan Chakraborty
| MOHALI, India

MOHALI, India India test captain Virat Kohli gave a thumbs-up to the Decision Review System (DRS) on Friday, signalling cricket’s financial powerhouse might permanently embrace the technology aimed at curbing umpiring errors.It took a lot of cajoling to convince India, a staunch DRS opponent after their bitter 2008 initiation in Sri Lanka, to use the technology on a trial basis in the current five-test series against England.Kohli did not get it always right in the first two tests but the India captain sounded pretty much a convert on the eve of the third match against England.”I’m pretty happy with it…I think it is pretty fair for the game,” Kohli told reporters at the Punjab Cricket Association stadium on Friday.The Indian board has been particularly suspicious of the ball-tracking technology but agreed to try it following a presentation by officials from the International Cricket Council (ICC).Kohli appreciated how the ball-tracking technology improved leg-before decisions without challenging the authority of the on-field umpires.

“…they (umpires) are the people given the job to make decisions and their call is respected even in the DRS. I think that’s pretty fair,” Kohli said.”If it is really, really off target, then DRS corrects it but if it is marginal, then you got to respect the umpire’s call. That’s all it does. “I think it clarifies the decision that is made on the field. I think that’s absolutely fine.”

The India players are yet to master the nuances of the technology.”We as a team have only played two test matches with DRS and I can’t analyse the progress in a span of eight days. It is a pretty fair thing to have happened and we are going to get better with using it, for sure,” Kohli said.An excellent lesson was how England teenager Haseem Hameed, fielding at short leg, convinced skipper Alastair Cook to review a not-out decision and get India opener Lokesh Rahul caught behind in the second innings of the second test in Visakhapatnam.

“Obviously, the wicketkeeper and the bowler are the main people involved, who have the best sight of where the ball hit the pad or if they heard a sound of the bat,” Kohli said.”The close-in fielders as well play a massive role as well, as you saw with KL’s (Rahul) dismissal. It was Hameed who actually convinced the bowler that he heard something which someone else might not have.” (Editing by Ed Osmond)

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

First Published On : Nov 25, 2016 20:25 IST

Centre blinks, give time till February 28 to NGOs to renew their FCRA licence

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With days of national human rights commission (NHRC) admonishing the union home ministry on allegations of “draconian approach” over the renewal of FCRA licences, the ministry has given time till February 28, 2017 to about 12,100 NGOs to renew their licences.Besides 11,319 NGOs who had lost their FCRA licence after failing to submit papers online, registration of 1,736 NGOs had also lapsed on October 31 the last date of renewal.Basing its observation on UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Association and Assembly analysis’s report the NHRC said, “Prima facie it appears FCRA licence non-renewal is neither legal nor objective and thereby impinging on the rights of the human rights defenders both in access to funding, including foreign funding.”The UN Rapporteur noted that FCRA is not in conformity with international law, principles and standards as access to resources including the foreign funding is a fundamental part of the right to freedom of association under the international laws, standards and principles.The DNA had earlier written that the union home ministry could find itself on a weak wicket as the NGOs are planning to take the legal route after they found that the ministry was using FCRA section dealing with renewal to cancel their FCRA, thusThe government had derecognised 11,319 NGOs last month after they failed to renew their registration by June-end, preventing them from receiving foreign funds.”As many as 11,319 NGOs have lost FCRA licence after they failed to renew it. Besides, around 800 NGOs whose paper work was found deficient may now re-apply by February 28, 2017,” a home ministry official said.Earlier this month, the ministry had announced that FCRA licences of 11,319 NGOs whose registration was expiring on October 31, 2016 and which needed to apply for renewal by June 30,2016 were “deemed” cancelled from November 1, 2016.It also closed the FCRA renewal applications of 1,736 NGOs who applied within the deadline but failed to submit the complete documents, but gave them time till November 8 to complete their documents. After nearly half of these NGOs managed to explain the lack of documentation, the home ministry allowed renewal of about 800 entities.

Arun Jaitley’s defamation case: SC defers hearing on Kejriwal’s plea

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court deferred the hearing till Tuesday on the appeal of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal seeking a stay on the trial court proceedings in a criminal defamation case filed against him by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. A bench of Justices PC Ghose and UU Lalit was informed by the counsel for Kejriwal that senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani would argue the case and he was not available on Monday which led to adjournment of the hearing.The Delhi High Court had on October 19 dismissed his plea seeking stay of trial court proceedings in a criminal defamation case, saying, there was no “illegality” in continuing it simultaneously with a civil defamation suit in the high court. The high court had said there was “no prejudice” on account of a pending civil suit and there was no “double jeopardy” and as such Kejriwal’s plea was “devoid of merit”.It had said the criminal and civil defamation cases were “different in nature”. Kejriwal had contented that proceedings before the trial court should be stayed since a civil suit was pending before the high court and both cannot proceed simultaneously.Regarding the challenge to the magisterial court’s May 19 order dismissing Kejriwal’s plea to grant stay on proceedings due to pendency of civil suit, the high court had said that the trial court order was “free from perversity, impropriety, illegality and non-sustainability”.The high court also opined that there was no bar on a magistrate taking cognisance of the offence, which he may be of the opinion is said to have been committed by a person whose matter is still pending in a civil court. Besides a civil defamation suit in the high court, Jaitley had also filed a criminal defamation complaint in a lower court alleging Kejriwal and five AAP leaders — Raghav Chadha, Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh and Deepak Bajpai — had defamed him in the Delhi District Cricket Association (DDCA) controversy.

Liquor ban: Bihar govt seeks transfer of cases from Patna High Court

New Delhi: The Bihar government on Monday moved the Supreme Court seeking transfer of all the matters relating to its law banning sale and consumption of all types of liquor, which are pending before the Patna High Court to the apex court.

A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy asked senior counsel Rajeev Dhavan, who was appearing for the state, to move a proper transfer petition in this regard.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Dhavan, assisted by advocate Keshav Mohan, told the bench that the apex court had on 7 October stayed the operation of Patna High Court’s judgement quashing the law banning sale and consumption of all types of liquor in the state and a number of petitions related to the matter were pending before the high court.

“A number of cases have been filed and they are pending before the high court. Let all the matters be transferred to the Supreme Court,” he said.

To this, the bench said, “You must file a proper transfer petition.”

The court told Dhavan that the state government could mention the matter before the bench after filing the transfer petition. The bench had earlier issued notice to all respondents including some liquor manufacturers on whose plea the high court had held as illegal and unconstitutional the Bihar government’s prohibition law.

The state government has challenged the high court verdict of 30 September quashing the notification banning consumption and sale of liquor in the state, saying it was ultra vires to the Constitution. However, after the law was set aside by the high court, the Nitish Kumar government had came out with a new law banning sale and consumption of liquor, which was notified on Gandhi Jayanti day on 2 October.

The Bihar government in its petition had urged the apex court to stay the high court order which had quashed the 5 April notification to ban liquor. It had notified the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016
to ensure that the ban on sale and consumption of alcohol including Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) as well spiced and domestic liquor, continued in the state.

The high court order was passed on a batch of petitions filed by the Liquor Trade Association and others, challenging the liquor law brought in with stringent penal provisions.

Soon thereafter, the state government brought in the new law banning liquor, including harsher provisions like arrest of all adults in a house where contraband was found.

The Grand Secular Alliance government in Bihar had first banned manufacture, trade, sale and consumption of country-made liquor since 1 April, but later imposed a blanket ban on all types of liquor, including foreign liquor, in the state.

First Published On : Nov 21, 2016 18:02 IST

11 Indian fishermen arrested by Sri Lankan navy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>At least 11 Indian fishermen along with their trawlers have been detained by the Sri Lankan Navy, the military here said today. The fishermen from Tamil Nadu were arrested yesterday while fishing near Sri Lanka’s Neduntheevu island.They were found illegally fishing in Sri Lankan waters northwest off the coast of Jaffna’s Delft islet, the navy said. Around 3,500 fishermen in 634 boats had put out to sea from Rameswaram last night.The fishermen were detained and taken to Kangesanthurai Port along with their two boats, Tamil Nadu police and state Mechanised Boat Fishermen Association leader P Sesuraja said. The Sri Lankan naval men also chased away hundreds of other fishermen by allegedly pelting bottles and stones and warning through public address system, they said.On November 4, India and Sri Lanka decided to set up a Joint Working Group (JWG) on Fisheries to meet every three months and hold a meeting between the Ministers for Fisheries every six months during extensive ministerial-level talks in New Delhi on possible mechanisms to find a permanent solution to the emotive issue of fishermen.

Bhopal: Micro ATMs a hit to ease cash crunch

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>People have started withdrawing money from Micro Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) installed in Bhopal from Saturday.The concept of Micro ATM has been initiated by the government to ease the cash crunch situation and to beat the queues due to the demonetization move in the country. Banks have appointed agents to run a micro ATMs to help the people of rural and semi-urban areas, where the network of ATM is not strong. The banks today have allowed only senior citizens to withdraw or exchange cash. They can go to any bank branch to exchange notes which have ceased to exist as legal tender after government’s demonetization move.Senior citizens were noticed waiting outside a bank in Hyderabad and Moradabad to withdraw or exchange their money.Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) Chairman Rajeev Rishi said working hours at banks on Saturday would be devoted to their own customers and added that only senior citizens have been exempted with regard to the exchange of currency notes at various bank branches across the country. Rishi said, the decision is only for Saturday, and from Monday onwards, all customers will be allowed to exchange their notes at a branch of any bank.The IBA chairman also said, after using indelible ink, queues have substantially been reduced. Indelible ink is being used on the right hand index finger of customers to stop repeat money exchangers thronging banks with invalid currency notes.

Vendors get street smart, go digital

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Arun Yadav, a tea and omelette vendor in the national capital has begun to discover the many uses his newly-acquired. Smartphone can be put to. His first foray into the world of e-payments is particularly required after the government’s recent move to demonetize Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes. Now, Yadav, fondly known as Pappu to his customers, uses an e-wallet where they send him their payments. “Earlier, customers would buy eatables from me on credit for lack of loose cash. But now I get paid in full. In fact, I have already made around 15 to 16 transactions through it,” said Yadav who like so many others in Delhi, is an economic immigrant who moved here from Darbanga district in Bihar 15 years ago. Yadav is not the only vendor discovering the benefits of technology. E-wallet service providers such as Paytm, have claimed to have made around 8,00,000 offline merchants, including street vendors, grocers, paanwallahs and small-time businessmen across the country, tech savvy since the onset of demonetization.“We have had a surge in the number of those opening their accounts. Around eight lakh people from low-income groups ranging from momos, and tea sellers, to grocery store owners, have come on our platform,” said, Sonia Dhawan, Deputy General Manager (Marketing), Paytm.However, not all credit goes to Paytm. For example, a helpful and regular consumer helped Yadav open an e-wallet. In other cases, The National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI) has come to the rescue of vendors across the country, helping them open and operate e-wallets. Arvind Jha, executive director, NASVI, told DNA the association has deputed teams of volunteers in all marketplaces to help vendors understand cashless payment. “As of now, we have around 120 street vendors across Delhi with us who have started using the online method of payment. Initially, they didn’t believe they would actually receive the money through these systems. But we organised meetings and encouraged them to explore these options instead of cribbing about the no-cash situation.” Jha told DNA. Rajesh Kumar, who sells momos in Lajpat Nagar’s central market is one of these vendors. “My son now checks the transactions done in the day for me. I have also asked my brother who has a kiosk of chhole-kulche (peas and flatbread) to get it as well,” said the 43-year-old Kumar, who hails from Bijnor, Uttar Pradesh. Sanjay Sharma, who owns a small grocery store in Mayur Vihar-I, added, “I did not think of using debit-credit machines in my small business but now I receive e-payments even for a tray of eggs.”

Manipur newspaper publications shut due to demonetization

Fri, 18 Nov 2016-09:55am , Imphal , ANI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The publication of newspapers in Manipur will be stopped from Friday due to demonetization.In a joint meeting held Thursday afternoon in Manipur capital Imphal, the All Manipur Newspaper Publishers Association and the All Manipur Newspaper Sales and Distributors Association unanimously decided to stop the publication of newspapers across the state from Friday. In a joint statement, the associations said the decision to stop publication of newspapers is an after effect of the demonetization of 500 and 1,000 rupee currencies. The statement further said that the non-availability of adequate legal tender notes has prevented regular circulation of newspapers.It also said that the inability of newspaper distributors to pay newspaper offices and the latter’s refusal to receive these notes has compelled this action.

Demonetization effect: Goa government employees want salary in cash

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Goa government employees have demanded that their salary for the current month be paid in cash rather than be deposited in bank accounts, considering the difficulties faced to withdraw money.Goa Government Employees Association (GGEA), in a written communication to Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar, said “to make the withdrawal of money hassle-free the salary of all the government employees should be paid in cash”.However, GGEA president John Nazareth welcomed the Centre’s decision to demonetize Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.”Despite the problems faced by government employees, GGEA welcomes the move and wishes government success in the same, as we feel that the step taken is progressive and constructive in improving the economy of the country in longer run,” he said.Nazareth said since Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has made it clear that it will take some time to streamline the situation, we request government to avoid the payment of salary through banks via ECS system and instead pay the salary in cash for the month of November or until the process of withdrawal of money through ATMs become hassle-free.”The request is made for payment of salary in cash as many government employees have reported that they have to stand in queue in the banks to withdraw their salary in parts which ultimately amounts to spending the time they would use in their offices to serve the public,” he said.”The non-presence of government employees to serve the people may result in public outcry and criticism,” GGEA added.

‘Good opportunity to defuse tension’: Sartaj Aziz to visit India to attend Heart of Asia Conference

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sartaj Aziz, Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs, said that he would travel to India to attend the Heart of Asia Conference in December, asserting that his visit could be a “good opportunity” to “defuse the tension” between India and Pakistan.The conference is scheduled to be held in India on December 3 in Amritsar.Aziz would be the first senior Pakistani official to visit India since the September 10 Uri attack, blamed on Pakistan-based militants, that led India to pull out of the SAARC Summit in Pakistan in November.”Unlike India, that had sabotaged SAARC summit in Pakistan by pulling out, Pakistan will respond by participating in the Heart of Asia being held in India,” Aziz told the media.”It’s a good opportunity to defuse the tension,” PTV quoted Aziz as saying.Dawn reported that Aziz also said he himself will participate in the conference and will not repeat India’s blunder where it boycotted South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit.Aziz, however, said it has not been confirmed yet whether he will meet his Indian counterpart on the sidelines of the conference or not.The Adviser also said that the US president-elect Donald Trump would deserve Nobel prize if he intervenes and succeeds in resolving the Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan.”Trump would deserve Nobel prize if he helps resolve Kashmir dispute,” he said on a lighter note while responding to a question.

Our Muslims must raise issues of violations on Hindus in Pakistan, Bangla: Ghulam Nabi Azad

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Muslims in India should speak out against any act of violence on Hindus committed by members of the majority population in Islamic countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said.He was a addressing a gathering here at a seminar on — Role of Muslim Youth in Strengthening Democracy — organised by National Tricolour Association of India, a non-profit organisation.”There have been cases of violence against Muslims, from (Mohammad) Akhlaq’s lynching in Dadri to two boys in Jharkhand who were hung from a tree. And, there has never been a lack of expression of secularism from Hindus in our country. You see on television, how they (Hindus) strip RSS and BJP bare, whenever such incidents happen. But, why we (Muslims) don’t raise issues when there are violations against Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh,” he asked.In his address, Azad also hit out at the Centre saying, “democracy has ceased to exist” in the country ever since the NDA government came to power.He added that if the Muslims in India start speaking out against acts of such violence in the neighbouring countries then, “BJP’s anti-Muslim edge will be blunted.” Two other scholars, who also spoke at the seminar held at the India Islamic Centre, underlined the “silence” of the country’s Muslim community in hours of violence in “India’s neighbourhood”.We hear cases of violence meted out to our Hindu brothers in Bangladesh, or of Hindu temples being razed or desecrated.But, do we (Muslims) speak out on such brazen acts of violations. We must speak out against injustice, just as we expect our majority Hindu brothers to stand by us in India, they said.Azad also hit out at the government over the demonetization issue saying, “the move has driven Indians crazy in the name of black money”.He also took a dig at the media and Prime Minister Modi, saying, “now it’s all Modi in newspapers and on TV channels, the Opposition cannot be seen.””The time of free and impartial media is no more. Now, you open, newspapers, and you see 10-20 pictures of Modi,” he alleged.

Muslims in India must raise issues of violations on Hindus in Pakistan: Ghulam Nabi Azad

New Delhi: Muslims in India should speak out against any act of violence on Hindus committed by members of the majority population in Islamic countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said on Tuesday.

Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad. AFP

Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad. AFP

He was a addressing a gathering in New Delhi at a seminar on — Role of Muslim Youth in Strengthening Democracy — organised by National Tricolour Association of India, a non-profit organisation.

“There have been cases of violence against Muslims, from (Mohammad) Akhlaq’s lynching in Dadri to two boys in Jharkhand who were hung from a tree.”

“And, there has never been a lack of expression of secularism from Hindus in our country. You see on television, how they (Hindus) strip RSS and BJP bare, whenever such incidents happen. But, why we (Muslims) don’t raise issues when there are violations against Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh,” he asked.

In his address, Azad also hit out at the Centre saying, “democracy has ceased to exist” in the country ever since the NDA government came to power.

He added that if the Muslims in India start speaking out against acts of such violence in the neighbouring countries then, “BJP’s anti-Muslim edge will be blunted.”

Two other scholars, who also spoke at the seminar held at the India Islamic Centre, underlined the “silence” of the country’s Muslim community in hours of violence in “India’s neighbourhood”.

“We hear cases of violence meted out to our Hindu brothers in Bangladesh, or of Hindu temples being razed or desecrated. But, do we (Muslims) speak out on such brazen acts of violations? We must speak out against injustice, just as we expect our majority Hindu brothers to stand by us in India,” they said.

Azad also hit out at the government over the demonetisation issue saying, “the move has driven Indians crazy in the name of black money.”

He also took a dig at the media and Prime Minister Modi, saying, “now it’s all Modi in newspapers and on TV channels, the Opposition cannot be seen.”

“The time of free and impartial media is no more. Now, you open, newspapers, and you see 10-20 pictures of Modi,” he alleged.

First Published On : Nov 16, 2016 08:10 IST

JNU missing student case to be discussed in winter session of Parliament

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The case of missing JNU student Najeeb Ahmed is likely to be raised in Parliament by the Opposition, with senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad saying that the matter was not just about a student, or a minority person, but about very humanity. The Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha said the issue was raised during one of the meetings held on Tuesday ahead of the Winter Session of Parliament starting on Wednesday.”Three important meetings were held today, one was about our own party with Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha leaders present, the other was of Congress and other like-minded parties and the third was the all-party meeting with government and the opposition. During the meeting, various issues were raised, from demonetization to SIMI (activists encounter) case, OROP. And, the case of Najeeb also came up. The leaders want that Najeeb’s case be discussed in Parliament,” Azad said.He was a addressing a gathering here at a seminar organised here by National Tricolour Association of India, a non-profit organisation. Azad, however, did not specify, the issue of the missing JNU student was raised in which of the three meetings. Najeeb went missing on October 15 following an on-campus scuffle allegedly with the members of ABVP the night before.The senior Congress leader also met Najeeb’s sister Sadaf and JNU student leader Shehla Rashid at the event. “I must tell that this is not just about Najeeb or a Muslim person, but about very humanity. A university student disappears, and there is no action, then it is matter of concern. And, even if it was Hindu boy, we would have been equally concerned, and fought it with the same zeal,” Azad said.Earlier during the programme, former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, face of the party in Uttar Pradesh polls, sought to reach out to the Muslim community and said her party will always stand behind them. “Our Muslim brothers should not fear anything and live in this country like any other member of any other community,” she said.Dikshit, before leaving met Sadaf and Shehla on the stage. Shehla, who also addressed the gathering, took the occasion to hit out at the right-wing student outfit in the campus. “He went missing on October 15, but why no sniffer dogs were used later, or CCTV cameras footage checked. Some even said, he had joined ISIS and was mentally unsound. These are all nonsense theories being rounded up,” she claimed. “This fight anyway is not just about Najeeb, but a fight to preserve the fabric of India. It is fight about what we we forget and what we will remember. But, we will fight for justice for Najeeb,” she said.

New Delhi: City welcomes specially-abled International artists

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>This is the first time that Australian national Joanna, 20, a visually challenged artist, is visiting India. And she is not alone. Artists from as many as 15 countries around the world have gathered in the Capital for Sambhav — a three-day festival dedicated to specially-abled artistes.“I’m both excited and nervous at the same time,” said Joanna, who had started learning music at the age of eight. Now, she and four other artists have brought a slice of Australian music to the national Capital.Organised by NGO Association for Learning, Performing Arts and Normative Action (ALPANA), Sambhav, an initiative to celebrate the artistic abilities of specially-abled people, kicked off at the India International Center on Sunday.“Sambhav was started in 2006. Initially, we invited participants from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) nations. Gradually, we started inviting participants from other nations as well,” said ALPANA president Alpana Nayak, adding that this year, the participating countries include Afghanistan, Myanmar, Bhutan, Nepal and Kenya.The festival will comprise a variety of performances from multiple nations, right from Bhutanese music to unique dance forms of Myanmar. “We are performing different dances from Myanmar and Burma, with the music on guitar,” said Brant, 18, a visually challenged artist from Myanmar.A three-member team of artists has come from Vietnam as well. “We have prepared Vietnamese music and dance performances for Sambhav this year,” said Khinkh from the country.A painting exhibition is also a part of the offerings at the festival. “We have some really talented hearing-impaired and mentally challenged students at the NGO who made these extraordinary paintings,” said Alka Aggrawal, who teaches painting and crafts at the NGO.Abhinav Rana, a partially-blind artist said: “I love playing with watercolours, though I can’t see them clearly. My muses are sky, sea, trees and rain.” From inside the country, teams have come from Odisha, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, among other states. “On Monday, our artistes will perform a fusion dance form, portraying 10 avatars of Lord Vishnu,” said Sushmita Rautray, who has come with a team of six from Odisha.According to Sambhav organisers, they are are creating a space for the specially-abled people to present their views, ideas and experiences through the media of art and performances. “We don’t believe in ‘helping’ the specially-abled. They don’t need help. They are as much a part of society as we are. All we need to do is to hold their hands and walk along with them,” said ALPANA vice-president BK Das.All praises for the effort, Nitisha Sharma, a visitor said: “It was a wonderful experience to see the artists performing with such confidence and vigour.”

Demonetisation drive: Currency chaos in country is because of poor planning, says Subramanian Swamy

After a surprise announcement by prime minister Narendra Modi on 8 November to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 bank notes, BJP MP Subramanian Swamy made his unhappiness with the government very clear. He told South China Morning Post that the confusion over currency and chaos at banks at automated teller machines (ATMs) and banks was because of poor planning and execution on the government’s side.

CNN News18 reported that Swamy said that while excuses can be made for ministries not being in the loop, it was inexcusable that they did not have a contingency plan. “Ad hoc roadside kiosks should have been set up for all and special kiosks organised for senior citizens. All these should have been planned as part of a contingency plan,” Swamy was quoted as saying, by the CNN News18, in Hong Kong. Swamy was present there to give a talk about the anti-corruption efforts that India is currently engaged in.

Banks have struggled to dispense cash following the government’s decision to withdraw large denomination notes in an attempt to uncover billions of dollars in undeclared wealth. Tempers frayed as hundreds of thousands of people queued for hours outside banks for a fourth day to swap 500 and 1,000 rupee bank notes after the notes were abolished earlier in the week. The banned bills made up more than 80 percent of the currency in circulation, leaving millions of people without cash and threatening to bring much of the cash-driven economy to a halt.

Subramaniam Swamy. PTISubramaniam Swamy. PTI

Subramaniam Swamy. PTI

“There are around 125,000 branches of public, private, regional and rural banks across India and 20 RBI regional offices from where currency chests are dispatched to all these locations. But that is not happening quickly enough although RBI has received full currency stocks from the printing presses,” said All India Bank Employees Association vice president Vishwas Utagi. The situation was worse in small towns and far-flung rural areas where there were few bank branches and very limited ATMs and people were unable to exchange old notes or carry out banking transactions, he said. In Patna, a group of angry people broke the locked gates of a bank and forcibly entered it in Bihar’s Gopalganj district after being told there was no cash, police said.

Amid this on-going unrest around ATMs and banks, on Saturday, finance minister Arun Jaitley said that though people will face an inconvenience in the beginning, the long terms benefits are much larger. He also said that it would take ATMs two or three weeks to function properly as they have to be recaliberated to dispense the new currency. This statement has not sunk well with people as it will delay getting liquid cash. Jaitley said that it would take an estimate of 21 days in order to recalibarate all the 2 lakh ATMs in the country.

Modi on Sunday sought 50 days to tide over the nationwide cash crisis. Addressing a public rally in Goa, Modi made an impassioned plea to citizens to give him until December 30 to weed out the ill-gotten wealth in India. “I know what kind of powers I have taken on. I know the kind of people who will be against me now. I am looting what they had accumulated over 70 years,” Modi said at an indoor stadium in Bambolim village near Panaji.

“They will not leave me alive. They will destroy me. Let them do what they want. (For) 50 days, help me. The country should just help me for 50 days.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal requested Modi to roll back the scheme and first jail those with illegal Swiss bank accounts.  The Aam Aadmi Party leader warned that if the massive cash crunch continued, it could lead to law and order problems that could spiral out of control. He took on Modi for demanding 50 more days to streamline the system. “Does this mean that the markets will remain closed for the next 50 days? How can farmers survive? Will people keep standing in queues for 50 days? He is only giving an emotional speech.”

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has been very critical of the demonetisation, called for an opposition front against Modi and even telephoned CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury. She said she and other political leaders would meet President Pranab Mukherjee over the issue this week.

With inputs from agencies

First Published On : Nov 13, 2016 21:46 IST

SC refuses to stay Allahabad HC order making Delhi-Noida flyway toll free

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court has refused to stay Allahabad High Court’s order making Delhi-Noida flyway toll free. The HC asks CAG to verify the cost of DND flyway project and submit a report before it.The apex court had refused to stay the Allahabad High Court’s order on October 28 that no toll will be collected from commuters moving on the DND till further orders.The Noida Toll Bridge Company Limited had filed a plea in the apex court against the Allahabad High Court’s order asking it to stop collecting toll from commuters plying on the DND flyway connecting Delhi and neighbouring Noida.The apex court said that it will get the profit account of DND toll company audited either by CAG or by an independent auditor to find whether the profit recovered was adequate. The flyover connects Delhi on the west bank of the Yamuna with Noida and East Delhi. A division bench comprising Justices Arun Tandon and Sunita Agarwal passed the order while allowing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by the Federation of Noida Residents’ Welfare Association.The PIL, which was filed in 2012, had challenged the “levy and collection of toll in the name of user fee by the Noida Toll Bridge Company”.Commuters travelling from Delhi to Noida or East Delhi have heaved a sigh of relief over not being told to pay Rs. 56 to and fro (Rs.28 each way) every day to facilitate a smooth entry and exit in the Delhi-NCR region.Earlier in August, a group of protesters had demanded that the Rs 28 toll be scrapped, alleging that the Noida Toll Bridge Company had already made profits, but were still charging toll. The expressway, which opened in 2001, considerably reduces the travel time between Delhi and Noida. Commuters, however, often face huge traffic jams.Nearly 1.5 lakh vehicles take the route daily.

Mayawati, Mulayam find common ground as they demand rollback of demonetisation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Arch rivals BSP supremo Mayawati and Samajwadi patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav have found a common issue in to attack the Modi government. Coming on one page, the two stalwarts of politics in the poll bound state of Uttar Pradesh slammed the Modi government for taking an “anarchist” decision, and plunging the country into “financial emergency”, and demanded an immediate roll back.Hinting that BJP stand to gain as demonetization is politically motivated, Mulayam said the decision has been taken at this point in time with elections in mind. Mayawati also lashed out at PM Modi for making life of the poor, small businessmen and farmers difficult.Poll analysts also expect demonetization of Rs. 1000 and Rs. 500 currency notes to reflect in the approaching assembly elections of five states, making them a low key affair. Poll watchdog, Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) Coordinator for Uttar Pradesh, Dr Lenin, says that the step could suck out a major chunk of Rs. 1000crore of black money from Uttar Pradesh alone, which is usually spent by political parties giving freebies to voters in terms of cash, liquor and other incentives.“The actual impact, however, would be visible when the elections are announced, and close to the voting day,” says Lenin.Cumulative impact of demonetization in all five poll bound states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur could be much more, claim officials in the Election Commission.Former Chief Election Commissioner, HS Brahma, however, is sceptical. He says the step will provide temporary relief in next year’s elections by tightening the grip on money availability but eventually, the answer lies in making political parties fully accountable. “Political parties would again be in position to generate black money in 2018 elections. What we need is to have restrictions on the expenditure of political parties like we have for candidates. If only a candidate is accountable and the party is not, it allows unbridled use of money power in elections. But whenever this issue was broached, all political parties came together to oppose it,” says Brahma.But according to Social Scientist Abhay Kumar Dubey of Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), the move has no relevance in elections as black money is not stashed away in trunks like in earlier times but lies scattered in hundreds of fictitious bank accounts managed by political parties, and also in the form of property and gold, and is pulled out during elections.“Right now, if Modi government fails to rein in the chaos that this scheme has generated, and bring succour to the people, it may make BJP unpopular. The problem with this move is that it has hit the poor man’s white money. If the government does not settle it in a week or so, it may backfire in the elections,” adds Dubey.

War on Black Money: Note ban a bolt from blue in Uttar Pradesh?

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The decision to scrap Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes has come at a time when assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh are due and parties normally keep aside a substantial amount of unaccounted funds for campaigning.Though the parties are tight-lipped on the issue, the crackdown against black money has left many high and dry as Assembly elections are barely few months away.The role that cash plays in polls can be gauged from the fact that as much as Rs 1,039 crore of the total collections by parties over the past three Lok Sabha polls 2004, 2009 and 2014 was made in cash against Rs 1,299.53 crore by cheques. Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), which had analysed the I-T returns of political parties, said they declared collecting Rs 2,356 crore during the three parliamentary elections. Of this, 44 per cent or Rs 1,039 crore was in cash and the remaining was by cheque and in kind Rs 1,300 crore by cheque and Rs 17 crore in kind.While cash donations are declared by political parties in line with the Election Commission (EC) guidelines on transparency, seizures during polls indicate that much of the campaign funding is done through black money.For instance, around Rs 330 crore was seized by the EC in cash during the last general elections in 2014. Economist S P Tiwari said the government’s overdrive to root out black money and usher in an era of transparent transactions will remain meaningless as long as it allows political parties to collect donations in cash. “Political parties and elections are major sources of black money transactions,” Tiwari told PTI.With the crucial UP Assembly elections knocking at the door, major parties in the state are already in the process of replenishing their coffers with heavy cash contributions as funding high-voltage campaigns has become a costly affair with hi-tech measures being adopted by bigger parties. Lead players in the poll-bound state are understood to be re-working their strategies on how to manage the campaign with less money with Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes becoming illegal tender in one stroke.”Though all paties will be seriously hamstrung, it is going to be a level playing field for all of us,” said a leader, requesting anonymity. An assessment based on income tax filings by parties revealed that during the Lok Sabha elections of 2004, 2009 and 2014, parties collected over Rs 1,000 crore in cash, and the sources of more than 90 per cent of such funds were never disclosed. Majority of all funds collected by parties was from unknown sources. It is not surprising therefore that most of these contributions are made in cash, said another leader.ADR said Assembly elections too see huge collection of cash donations by political parties. “Collectively, during the 71 assembly elections held between 2004 and 2015, political parties declared collecting Rs 2,108 crore in cash (63 per cent of total funds) and Rs 1,245 crore by cheque (37 per cent),” it said.

Financial services cheer India’s shock bank note curbs | Reuters

By Devidutta Tripathy and Sankalp Phartiyal
| MUMBAI

MUMBAI India’s abolition of 500- and 1,000-rupee notes with virtually no warning caused confusion and concern among ordinary people and in sectors of the economy where cash is king, but banks and electronic payment services are among those licking their lips.Among the biggest losers from the shock move, aimed at flushing out money hidden from the tax man in India’s huge shadow economy, is expected to be property, and the sharp drop in the sector’s stocks on India’s two main exchanges on Wednesday reflected that.It was better news for financial services companies involved in moving money around the formal economy, however, and among them was PayTM, India’s top mobile payment wallet services provider.It said it saw a 200 percent jump in app downloads and a 1,000 percent increase in the amount of money added to its wallets since Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s announcement of the curbs late on Tuesday.MobiKwik, which also offers mobile wallet services, said it saw a more than 40 percent increase in app downloads.”We’ll be a country with a lot more digital transactions and payments now,” said Vijay Shekhar Sharma, chief executive of PayTM, whose biggest shareholder is Alibaba Group.India’s shadow, or “black”, economy is estimated to be the size of about a fifth of its gross domestic product, with millions still having no access to formal financial services.Most financial transactions still happen in cash, although alternative payments and the use of cards have risen fast in recent years.Kotak Securities said it expected a large part of the shadow economy to become part of the formal economy, including the banking system, over time.Banks will benefit from higher savings deposits, while more financial savings also bodes well for insurance, mutual funds and wealth management companies, analysts said.

Shares in top lender State Bank of India rose 2.9 percent on Wednesday on a Mumbai market that closed 1.3 percent lower. The banking sector index edged up 0.1 percent.Global card network providers Visa and MasterCard welcomed the Indian decision, saying it would help cashless transactions. PayPal Holdings Inc called it a “master stroke” to make India a less cash-reliant economy.PAIN FOR PROPERTY, GOLD, FOOD
The crackdown on unaccounted wealth will put further pressure on the real estate sector, considered a safe haven for “black” money and already battling slower home sales.

The impact will likely be felt by smaller developers and in the secondary sales market, making the real estate sector more illiquid for some time, said Anshul Jain, managing director for India at consultant Cushman & Wakefield. “Working capital needs for small and medium developers and other businesses will be a lot higher,” said Jain, adding that prices will correct in markets where substantial speculative investments have been made using unregistered cash.DLF Ltd, India’s biggest listed property developer, slumped more than 17 percent in Mumbai trading on Wednesday, while the sector index fell 11.6 percent.A DLF spokesman, however, said the bank note move would not make “any big difference” for larger real estate companies who carried out transactions through banking channels. “It is only a popular perception that real estate spawns black money, which is actually not true.”

The crackdown is also seen as negative for jewellers, as it could lower the demand for gold despite a short-term rush for the precious metal late on Tuesday, analysts said.”Significant amounts of demand for gold used to get generated (by) unaccounted wealth,” said Surendra Mehta, Secretary at India Bullion and Jewellers Association.”Since such unaccounted money is set to lose value after the scrapping of 500 rupee and 1,000 rupee notes, demand for gold will also drop.”Mehta estimated India’s gold demand would fall by 100-150 tonnes next year from an annual average of about 800 tonnes.The central bank will launch a new series of 500 and 2,000 rupee notes later this week.Other sectors that could be impacted in the short term due to shifts in demand include consumer goods and automobiles, Edelweiss Securities said.Cement makers such as ACC and UltraTech will be hit, as 70 percent of demand comes from housing, HDFC Securities analysts said, adding that they expected cement companies to cut production.Food chain operators such as those run by Jubilant FoodWorks, which operates the Domino’s Pizza and Dunkin’ Donuts chains in India, will also be temporarily affected as students mostly buy in cash, the brokerage added. (Additional reporting by Aditi Shah and Rajendra Jadhav; Editing by Euan Rocha and Mike Collett-White)

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

JNU missing student: Teachers threaten VC of legal action for video-recording meeting

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>JNU Teachers Association have threatened the university Vice Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar of legal action for violating their right to privacy by video-recording his meeting with the teachers over missing student Najeeb Ahmed.”Members of JNUTA met you and other university officials to discuss continued disappearance of Najeeb and the action taken in this regard. Personnel from JNU security office were recording the entire proceedings of the meeting. JNUTA was surprised at their presence and this act of recording proceedings without taking prior consent from us. Prior to this no meetings have been video-graphed to ensure that people speak as individuals freely since it encourages free discussion and resolution of issues,” a letter sent by the association to the VC said.Citing the act to be a violation under various sections of Right to Privacy Act and Information Technology Act, the teachers have said that the university administration is legally liable to take prior written consent from all participants before making video recordings of private meetings.”We demand that the unedited footage of the meeting be immediately shared with all participants and the university should adopt a data privacy policy clearly laying down purpose limitation, security of data, rights of access, restrictions on transfer of data,” JNUTA said.”It may be noted that in event of the unauthorised disclosure of the video recording, we reserve the right to seek legal remedies,” it added.Najeeb (27), a student of School of Biotechnology and a native of Badaun in Uttar Pradesh, went missing on October 15 following an on-campus scuffle allegedly with the members of ABVP the night before. JNU students and teachers have been leading a movement alleging inaction on administration and Delhi Police’s part in tracing the missing student.

Hotel Industry warns tourism will suffer at 18% GST on rooms

Mumbai: The Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI) today said the government’s four-tier structure in Goods and Services Tax (GST), in which the service sector will be taxed at 18 percent, will cause the tourism sector a major setback.

ReutersReuters

Reuters

In the recently concluded meet on GST, the government has declared a four tier structure of 5, 12, 18 and 28 percent of which the service sector will be taxed at 18 percent.

“It is estimated that the lower GST rate of 5 percent will contribute to a decrease in our Current Account Deficit, increase in the GDP, doubling up of both foreign and domestic travel and also doubling up of tourism induced employment, across each state and nationally,” HRAWI President Dilip Datwani said.

India’s tourism competitors in South East Asia (excluding Japan and China) earn among themselves over USD 150 billion in foreign exchange and attract almost 100 million tourists annually, he said.

According to estimates, a GST rate of 5 percent will more than double both foreign travel coming to India to 20 million tourists and domestic travel within India to 2.5 billion.

“We welcome the 5 percent tax slab on food, which is a positive outcome of subsumed taxes for hotels and restaurants. However, the 18 percent levy on services or room revenue in our case, compared to our neighbouring countries which charge a Tourism tax between 4 to 7 percent, rules out fair competition,” HRAWI former President Kamlesh Barot said. Overseas, he said, GST can have least slabs as they have minimum exclusions unlike ours.

“A foreign tourist planning a trip across Asia may entirely skip India or spend fewer days in our country on account of these perceived high room rates because we also
don’t refund taxes to foreigners like many countries do,” added Barot.

Delhi Pollution epidemic: IMA issues advisory, asks Delhiites to stay indoors

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Asserting that the alarming air pollution has become an epidemic in Delhi, Indian Medical Association (IMA) president KK Aggarwal on Monday called on Delhiites to stay indoors while adding that the particulate matter 10 (pm) and 2.5 has crossed 600 which is hazardous for the people. “We are now calling this as a pollution epidemic. Our advisory to people is to stay at home, if possible work from home and avoid stepping outside the house,” Aggarwal pointed out that the Delhi Government should need to step in and cap pollution masks which are now selling like hot cakes among.These masks which used to sell at Rs 30 are now selling at Rs.1000, so there needs to be capping, At best it can be sold at Rs 40 but not at Rs 2500. Hence the Delhi government should act immediately. Aggarwal further called on Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to take concrete steps on vehicular pollution. “They have not taken any concrete action on vehicular pollution. Benzene and Carbon Monoxide are all time high this. Hence we need to check vehicular pollution,” Aggarwal added. The Centre will today convene an emergency meeting of Environment Ministers of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh to tackle the alarming level of pollution in Delhi.Union Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave will chair the meeting to chalk out an action plan to control the rising pollution levels. Talking to media in New Delhi yesterday, Dave said that no one should indulge in a political blame-game to fight pollution in the national capital. He appealed for a united response to tackle the problem. He said that the ISRO images show that the role of neighbouring states and their contribution is only 20 percent and blaming them would not work.Meanwhile, the Delhi Government has decided to close all schools for the next three days and shut down all constructions and demolitions for five days. Addressing media after holding a Cabinet meeting to discuss the issue yesterday afternoon, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that he won’t point fingers at anyone and stressed on the need to sit down and come out with a solution.He sought the Centre’s support, saying the Delhi Cabinet has discussed about artificial rain. He said, emergency measures are the need of the hour instead of politicising the Delhi’s pollution issue. The Delhi Government has announced several emergency measures to tackle the unprecedented level of pollution plaguing Delhi and the NCR.Water sprinkling on roads will begin tomorrow and vacuum cleaning measures to deal with dust pollution will start next week. Badarpur thermal power plant will be closed for ten days from Monday. Landfill sites fire will be extinguished and transportation of fly ash will be stopped for 10 days. City government is also planning to bring back Odd Even scheme soon and preparations are already on.The MeT department has forecast little improvement in the current weather condition for the next three days.Cases of respiratory problems have risen in the city with people rushing to medical stored to buy air masks.

From AAP to BJP: Who said what about NDTV India ban

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On November 3, NDTV was ordered by the government to be taken off air for a day after an inter-ministerial panel constituted by the I&B ministry recommended this action over the broadcaster’s coverage of the Pathankot terror attack in January.An inter-ministerial panel had concluded that the channel NDTV India had revealed crucial and “strategically sensitive” information when the terror attack on an IAF base was being carried out, official sources said.The Information and Broadcasting ministry while invoking the powers under the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act said it “orders to prohibit the transmission or re-transmission of NDTV India channel for one day on any platform throughout India with effect from 00:01 hrs on 9th November,2016 till 00:01 hrs of 10th November, 2016”.This is the first ever such order against a TV channel over its coverage of a terror attack, the norms regarding which were notified in 2015.This action by the Government has been widely criticised by all the political heads, while a few stood in support of the ban. Here is how they reacted.1. Venkaiah Naidu, Minister of Information and Broadcasting: “I was surprised, aghast. Some people talked of Emergency-like situation. The action was taken in the interest of the country’s safety and security”, he said, adding, “Politicisation of such issues will affect the safety and security of the country.”He also said,””AXN was banned for two months. FTV was banned for two months. Enter10 for one day. ABN AndhraJyoti seven days. Al Jazeera was banned for five days for showing wrong map of India. These are all done earlier. Now they are saying it is done for the first time, murder of democracy, Emergency reminiscent and all.”2. M Karunanidhi, DMK Chief: “If the Central government continues with such activities, it will lead to a second Emergency and those black days will be etched in the minds of people,” Karunanidhi said, adding the action reminded him of the Emergency days when his articles in party mouthpiece ‘Murasoli’ were ‘banned’ then.3. Lalu Prasad Yadav, President of Rashtriya Jananta Dal: “Narendra Modi, BJP and RSS is taking country toward emergency and dictatorship”, Lalu said while addressing Samajwadi Party(SP) celebrations in Lucknow.4. Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister of Bihar: “The central government’s decision to ban NDTV India is condemnable. The decision is tantamount to controlling the freedom of media. It is quite necessary to have a free and impartial media in a country like India,” Kumar said in a statement.5. Sitaram Yechury, Leader of the CPI (M): “It is ironical that while the Prime Minister delivered speech on dangers of emergency at an award function, at the very moment, a senior Parliamentarian (Rahul Gandhi) and the Delhi Chief Minister (Arvind Kejriwal) were taken into custody. And on top of that now comes the attack on freedom of expression (the taking off air of NDTV India). This is an undeclared emergency. So, this is something that is not acceptable in our democracy.”6. Sharad Yadav, Senior JD (U) leader: “I am shocked… I highly condemn this decision of the government. It is an infringement on the freedom of speech as provided in the Constitution of India. Further, without going into the details of what this channel has shown and other channels have shown while covering the Pathankot terrorist attack, it is completely unfair to take such an action against this channel.””I do not remember such an action has been taken by any government in the past after the Emergency period. From now on the press will have fear in their minds while giving free and fair news. It is a great threat to democracy,” he said.7. Shrikant Sharma, National Secretary, BJP: “We support the freedom of press in a democracy. But nation comes first and there cannot be any compromise with national security.”8. Tathagata Satpathy, BJD leader and Editor of two Odiya newspapers: “I feel people in power have become very paranoid. No administration can function with equanimity in a state of paranoia. November 9 is a black day for democracy.”9. Arvind Kejriwal, Chief Minister of Delhi: “I hope the whole media goes off air for a day in solidarity wid NDTV. Congratulations to Editors Guild for showing courage to stand up against Modi Govt’s dictatorship,” Kejriwal said in a tweet.10. Broadcast Editors’ Association: “Broadcast Editors’ Association expressed deep concern at the government’s decision to ban NDTV India for a day. Imposing a ban is a violation of freedom of expression and the decision should be withdrawn immediately,” the BEA said in a statement.11. Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister of West Bengal: “NDTV ban is shocking. If Government had issues with Pathankot coverage, there are provisions available. But ban shows an Emergency-like attitude.”12. Omar Abdullah, Chief Minister of Jammu & Kahsmir: “NDTV India ordered off the air, opposition leaders detained for wanting to show solidarity with family of dead solider. ‘Achhe din anyone?'” Omar wrote on Twitter.13. The Editor’s Guild of India: “The Editors Guild of India strongly condemns the unprecedented decision of the inter-ministerial committee of the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to take NDTV India off the air for a day and demands that the order be immediately rescinded,” the Guild said in a statement.14. NDTV: “The order of the MIB has been received. It is shocking that NDTV has been singled out in this manner. Every channel and newspaper had similar coverage. In fact NDTV’s coverage was particularly balanced,” a statement posted by the broadcaster on its website said.Currently, the order on ban is still in place.(With agency inputs)

WMA president Ketan Desai attends court hearing in corruption case | Reuters

WMA president Ketan Desai attends court hearing in corruption case | Reuters

Updated: Nov 4, 2016 19:31 IST

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By Aditya Kalra and Suchitra Mohanty
| NEW DELHI

NEW DELHI Ketan Desai, an Indian doctor recently installed as president of the World Medical Association (WMA), appeared in a New Delhi courthouse on Friday to attend a hearing in a case where he faces charges of corruption.The proceedings were adjourned until February.Desai was last month installed as the president of the global medical-ethics body for 2016/17 despite controversy surrounding his appointment while legal cases are pending. In the New Delhi case filed in 2010, Desai faces charges of corruption and criminal conspiracy for allegedly being involved in a conspiracy to obtain a bribe of 20 million rupees ($450,000 at the time) from a medical college.Desai denies any wrongdoing, but investigators allege he helped the school get permission from the Medical Council of India to add more students. When contacted last year, the college, which is not a defendant in the case, declined to comment.Wearing a checked shirt, Desai on Friday walked through the corridor of the Delhi district courthouse and entered the courtroom when his name was called out by an official.The case was not heard immediately as the judge was not available and was transferred to another courtroom. Desai did not appear there.

Desai declined to answer questions from a Reuters reporter in the court complex on Friday. He also did not respond immediately to subsequent questions sent to him by email.Asked about Desai’s court appearance and the charges against him, WMA spokesman Nigel Duncan said: “To the best of our knowledge all criminal charges have been dismissed against Dr. Desai”. Duncan added that the court procedure was “complicated” and referred Reuters to the Indian Medical Association. K.K. Aggarwal of the Indian Medical Association was not immediately available for a comment.A source at India’s Central Bureau of Investigation told Reuters on Friday that charges against Desai in the case had not been dropped. The Delhi case remains on hold pending an appeal in the Supreme Court. Judge Bharat Parashar said Friday that the next hearing in the case will be held on Feb. 6.

After he was first selected in 2009 as a future president of the WMA, Desai faced corruption and conspiracy allegations.Desai was arrested in the Delhi case and jailed in 2010 pending a possible trial. He was later released on bail. That year his inauguration as the WMA president was suspended. In 2013, the WMA decided to lift the suspension after receiving assurances from the Indian Medical Association, which Desai once headed.A Reuters investigation published in July last year showed that the Indian Medical Association had incorrectly told the WMA that charges against Desai had been withdrawn.

Representatives of major doctors’ organizations accepted the information as fact. The Indian Medical Association said last year that it never misled the WMA. (reut.rs/1LZx8BM)The WMA had said it took questions raised in the Reuters article “very seriously” and would look into them. Later, in October 2015, the WMA upheld its decision to appoint Desai as president, without giving reasons. Last month, when Desai was installed as president, the WMA told Reuters it had nothing more to say.An overburdened and under-resourced Indian judiciary system means court cases can drag on for years.Proceedings in a separate case, alleging Desai was involved in a conspiracy to have the Medical Council of India allow a private medical school to add more students, were put on hold last year by a district court in northern Uttar Pradesh state until investigators obtain government permission to prosecute.Based in France, the WMA sets ethical standards for physicians worldwide and represents millions of doctors. Known for its pioneering work in ethics, its members include the American Medical Association and the British Medical Association. (Editing by Peter Hirschberg)

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

Cotton farmers suffer as India-Pakistan tensions rise

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The growing tension between India and Pakistan is having a big impact on cotton farmers. According to Indian traders, Pakistan has put an official ban on importing Indian cotton, ensuring that farmers all over the country are suffering, but especially those from Maharashtra, as the state is a major producer and exporter of cotton.Pradeep Jain, one of the major cotton traders from Maharashtra, explains the scenario. “Currently, there is no official ban by Pakistan on Indian cotton. But in the present scenario both Indian and Pakistani traders are reluctant to do business deals. Today, by border road, 99% of our exports have stopped. Sentiments are heightened now and our traders feel why we should do business with Pakistan if our soldiers are fighting them?” Statistics show the impact the unofficial ban is having on trade. According to data brought out by the Central Institute of Cotton Research, Pakistan had bought 27 lakh bales (one bale is 170 kg) out of the total Indian exports of 69 lakh cotton bales last season.This year though, Indian traders are worried that, thanks to the Pakistani boycott, this target will not be met. As a result, farmers are dropping prices with results that are hurting them.Sanjay Patil, a cotton growing farmer from Jalgaon said. “The current tensions between India and Pakistan have caused big financial losses to us. Two years ago, we sold the cotton almost Rs 7,000 per quintal. Today, we are selling cotton at the rate of Rs 4,500-5,000 per quintal. We respect the peoples’ sentiments but trade should not be hampered. If things do not improve, the government should buy our cotton at a minimum rate price of Rs 6,000 per quintal.”Ishwar Patil, another farmer from Dhule explains that the falling prices are also hurting farmers, as cotton traders are taking undue advantage of the situation. “We cannot keep the cotton at home for a long time due to many reasons. As a result, we are compelled to sell the cotton to cotton traders at a lower rate.” He adds, “Indian traders are also taking advantage of the current situation to decrease cotton prices and buy at a low rate from farmers.Once the situation normalises, these same traders who had stored the cotton will sell it at a higher rate, making a big profit, while the farmer suffers.”Clearly, the Indian farmer’s livelihood is under threat and until the situation normalises between the two countries — at least on the cotton front— he will continue to suffer. But according to Shahzad Ali Khan, chairman of the Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association, that is not likely to happen anytime soon.Speaking over the phone to DNA, Khan confirmed that at present business activities with India are quite low. “The Pakistan government has not made any official ban on importing cotton from India. However, we as traders have taken the conscious call not to buy cotton from India because of the current situation.”He said, “As a result, we have decided to buy raw cotton from local Pakistan cotton growers and pay them a reasonable rate as per world prices. Why should we pay higher prices to Indian farmers in such a scenario? Once the situation normalises, we may think of resuming trade with India,” Khan added.

Exclusive – Tobacco treaty leaders propose barring delegates linked to state firms | Reuters

By Duff Wilson and Aditya Kalra
| NEW YORK/NEW DELHI

NEW YORK/NEW DELHI The leadership of a World Health Organization (WHO) treaty on tobacco control has proposed barring delegates with ties to state-owned tobacco firms from its conference next week, tightening its application of rules to shut out the industry from policy making.That would include delegates employed by state-owned tobacco companies or those otherwise “working to advance the interests of the tobacco industry,” according to an internal communication document seen by Reuters.The proposal, if adopted at the conference of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in India, could restrict delegations sent by countries like China and Vietnam, where governments own cigarette companies and have in the past sent representatives linked to the industry.Any such members of the 180 delegations at the Nov. 7-12 conference near New Delhi “would be requested to leave the premises”, according to the Oct. 17 “note verbale”, an official diplomatic communication, from the WHO FCTC secretariat on behalf of the treaty’s leadership group to its parties.The FCTC, the world’s first international public health treaty, states explicitly that health policies need to be made independent of tobacco industry influence.Its governing conferences have in the past ejected members of the public and the press after they were believed to have tobacco industry connections.Yet up until now, the treaty’s leaders had not moved to bar employees of state-owned tobacco companies.At the last WHO FCTC conference, in Moscow in 2014, China’s 18-person delegation had four members from the “State Tobacco Monopoly Administration”.At the 2012 conference, in Seoul, two of eight Vietnamese delegates were from the “Vietnam Tobacco Association”.

When asked about the letter, a Vietnamese government official who declined to be identified told Reuters there would be no industry representatives in their delegation.Reuters was unable to immediately contact China’s State Tobacco Monopoly Administration for comment out of office hours.FINAL DECISION YET TO BE MADE
FCTC secretariat official Guangyuan Liu on Thursday confirmed the “note verbale” was sent to parties recently.

When asked about the composition of China’s delegation, Liu, team leader for governance and international cooperation at the secretariat, said: “We are still in contact with China and a final decision has not (been) made yet.””The COP (conference of parties) eventually will make the final decision,” Liu told reporters in New Delhi.The proposed restriction highlights a growing battle between the industry and backers of the treaty, which went into effect in 2005 to guide national laws and policies in an effort to curb tobacco use, which kills an estimated 6 million people a year worldwide.The global tobacco industry is estimated to be worth nearly $800 billion this year. The International Tobacco Growers Association, a non-profit group partly funded by big international cigarette companies, said the proposal was “beyond the wildest imagination”.

António Abrunhosa, chief executive of the group and a Portuguese tobacco grower, said in an email to Reuters that such a step was “unthinkable for a United Nations agency”. John Stewart, deputy campaigns director at Corporate Accountability International, a Boston-based advocacy group that has supported tobacco-control efforts, praised the proposed restrictions.”The tobacco industry has really forced parties and the secretariat into a corner,” he said in an interview. “This is a bold good-government action to ensure that the treaty space, the place where public health policies will save millions of lives, is free of tobacco industry intimidation.”Issues for debate at the conference include alternative livelihoods for tobacco farmers, e-cigarette regulation and trade and investment issues.The secretariat earlier wrote to the treaty’s party nations asking them to exclude people with tobacco interests from their delegations.In the latest note, the secretariat said it then turned to a FCTC leadership group for guidance after receiving a number of nominations from countries that ignored the suggestion. (Additional reporting by Sue-Lin Wong in Beijing; Editing by Tom Lasseter, Robert Birsel and Mike Collett-White)

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

Sri Lanka fishermen delegation rejects demands for norm relaxation

New Delhi: Fishermen associations of India and Sri Lanka on Wednesday held talks in which the visiting delegation rejected demands for relaxation of norms for Tamil Nadu’s fishing trawlers, making it clear that their country will not allow foreign fishermen in its waters “even for a minute”.

The 15-member Sri Lankan delegation from four coastal districts said that the Indian association had made an “implict” demand for a three year phasing out period from the neighbouring country’s waters.

The demand that they be allowed to fish in Sri Lankan waters for 83-85 days per year for the next three years, especially in seas of Mannar and Palk Strait, was rejected, the Sri Lankan delegation said.

Today’s talks come ahead of a meeting between Ministers of External Affairs and Agriculture with their Sri Lankan counterparts on Saturday.

The delegation from Jaffna, Mannar, Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi districts of Sri Kanka also demanded compensation for “ecological and economical damages” incurred due to Tamil Nadu fishermen.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The Indian side comprised fishermen from Tamil Nadu, senior officials from the Centre and Tamil Nadu government.

This was also one of the first high-level delegation talks on the issue between the two sides.

“We have conveyed to the Indian side that their fishermen should not cross the International Maritime Boundary Line. No Indian fishing trawler should enter the Sri Lankan waters and any illegal poaching will not be tolerated.

“We have also made it clear that fishermen straying in Sri Lankan waters would be arrested and later released, but their trawlers would be confiscated, said V Subramaniam, former president of Jaffna District Fishermen Association Federation and the leader of the delegation

“The Sri Lankan fishermen are not in favour of giving any kind of permits to fish in our waters. These are pre
requisites for talks,” he added.

“We will not allow foreign fishermen to fish in our waters even for a minute,” he asserted.

When asked about Chinese fishing trawlers fishing in its waters, the delegation said it had a uniform policy of not allowing any foreign vessel in its territory.

Another delegation member, a Mariyarasa from Mullaitivu, accused the Indian fishermen of causing them economic losses by fishing in their prawn-rich sea.

“Even before we could harvest the fish, trawlers from Tamil Nadu enter our waters, resulting in huge economic losses.

“Unless there is no sustainable policy, we will implement our domestic rules and arrest (foreign) fishermen, but release them,” Mariyarasa said.

The issue of Indian fishermen being arrested by Sri Lankan navy is a sensitive matter, especially in Tamil Nadu.

According to the delegation, Sri Lanka has confiscated nearly 130 fishing Indian fishing trawlers and 400 fishermen. The delegation claimed that all arrested fishermen were later released.

Jaffna: Sri Lanka navy arrests 4 Indian fishermen ahead of bilateral talks

Jaffna: Sri Lanka navy arrests 4 Indian fishermen ahead of bilateral talks

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Colombo: On Tuesday, at least four Indian fishermen were arrested and their trawler seized by Sri Lankan Navy off the coast of northern Jaffna peninsula ahead of a ministerial-level bilateral talks in New Delhi on Wednesday to solve the sensitive issue.

The Lanka navy said the fishermen were arrested on charges of fishing in Sri Lankan territorial waters off the coast of Delft islet early this morning.

The arrested Indian fishermen were handed over to the fisheries inspectorate at Karaingar, Jaffna, by Sri Lankan naval coast guard vessel Elara, the navy added.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The arrests were confirmed by Fishermen’s Association President Sagayam in Rameswaram.

The arrests have come ahead of the scheduled talks tomorrow between Indian and Sri Lanka fishermen to solve the recurring dispute over the arrest of fishermen. A 10-member Lankan fishing association delegation will arrive in India for the talks.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will meet her Lankan counterpart Mangala Samaraweera and Lankan Fisheries Minister Mahinda Amaraweera. These talks are to be preceded by talks between the fishermen associations of the two countries.

Vigilance conducts raids against senior Kerala IAS officer

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Kerala Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau on Friday conducted searches at the residential premises of senior IAS officer Tom Jose here and in Kochi in connection with a disproportionate assets case.Besides two flats owned by Jose, the searches were being conducted at his wife’s house in Irinjalakudu also, Vigilance sources said, adding the action was being taken after obtaining a search warrant. The action was initiated this morning following registration of an FIR against Jose, who is the Principal Labour Secretary, on a complaint by one Payichira Nawaz filed in the Vigilance Special Court at Muvattupuzha in Kochi, they said.Dubbing the searches as a ‘deliberate attempt to humiliate me,” Jose said the allegations, being raised now, were inquired and closed much earlier.All these issues were examined by the Home Secretary much earlier. “I had given my property statement from 2010. There is nothing new.”The Vigilance sources said the ‘house search’ was conducted after it was found that the official had “amassed” assets about 62% more than his income. Vigilance had last month decided to conduct a confidential verification into the allegations raised by the complainant about various assets of Jose, including the purchase of a rubber estate at a cost of about Rs 1.23 crore at Sindudurg in Maharashtra. Jose, who had met Chief Secretary S M Vijayanand yesterday, said, “we had discussed all these issues.” Jose, who is also the President of the Kerala IAS Officers’ Association, said the searches were being conducted as a ‘retaliatory action’ to ‘malign’ him.”The (earlier) enquiry against me was conducted by State Home Secretary, who is a very responsible officer,” he said. Jose said there was nothing “unanatural” in the deal.The searches against Jose come a day after Finance Secretary and Additional Chief Secretary K M Abraham lodged a complaint with Chief Minister Pinaravyi Vijayan that Vigilance carried out an ‘inspection’ at his home here. Abraham has alleged that state Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau Director Jacob Thomas was acting “vengefully” against him.

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