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RBI’s refusal to share details under RTI is sheer arrogance, says activist Shailesh Gandhi

The most shocking aspect of the decision to demonetise the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes by NDA government is the lack of transparency. The government and the RBI, the monetary authority, have not yet revealed the exact reason why the decision was taken or even about the current status of the economy and cash supply. There have even not been regular press releases or statements from the authorities through out the last 51 days.

The country’s central bank remained silent in the initial days of the demonetisation when the citizens had a harrowing time with cash crunch at banks and ATMs coupled with long queues that also led to even a few deaths of senior citizens. The role of the Reserve Bank of India and its new governor Urjit Patel has come for severe criticism.

Shailesh Gandhi. Image courtesy Shailesh Gandhi's Facebook pageShailesh Gandhi. Image courtesy Shailesh Gandhi's Facebook page

Shailesh Gandhi. Image courtesy Shailesh Gandhi’s Facebook page

Shailesh Gandhi, former Information Commissioner with the Central Information Commission (CIC), New Delhi, filed a complaint with the CIC over the RBI’s refusal to answer queries under Right to Information Act by a non-disclosure policy put up on its site on November 30. In a conversation with Firspost, Gandhi explains why the RBI is on the course to setting a dangerous precedent by its refusal to answer queries and setting up its list under its non-disclosure policy which goes against the exemptions laid under the RTI Act, passed by the Supreme Court.

Excerpts from the conversation:

Your take on RBI’s unwillingness to respond to RTI queries.

This is sheer arrogance on the part of the RBI. Almost everyone in power dislikes transparency for themselves, be it the courts, bureaucrats, the RBI and even the media for that matter. Arrogance weighs with everyone who will say that in theory the RTI is good but when asked to release information, will remark: I am not corrupt. I am honest and clean and why should any ordinary citizen question me. Even the honest dislike the RTI and are happy to tell others to be transparent. It takes time to get used to being questions. It is 11 years since the RTI Act came into force.

What the RBI is doing by refusing to answer queries under RTI is denying citizens their fundamental rights. There are ten exemptions under the RTI. These do not include what the RBI is stating as exemption for itself. The central bank has also not given any reason for its actual rejection to the questions posed to it under the RTI.

Our RTI Act is the best in the world and we now rank at number 4 in terms of provisions of law and at 66 with regard to implementation. The Act is grossly misrepresented. The courts also have not been very enthusiastic about it.

You have filed a case against RBI’s refusal with the CIC

Yes, I have filed a complaint with the CIC on 16 December that the RBI is arbitrarily claiming exemption and have spread the net very wide in the garb of following the law and are actually defying the law. I did that because the RBI could set a bad precedent which is dangerous that could lead other public authorities to follow it, which could lead to increase in the load on the CIC. Everyone will compile their own non-disclosure list like the RBI has done and the CIC will not be able to penalise them. I hope the Supreme Court and the CIC takes cognisance of it.

The RBI has in its Disclosure Policy on its site on 30 November said that the list of information which shall not be given is justified by the proclamation that: ‘While compiling the ( nondisclosure) list, it has been the Bank’s endeavour to attain the objectives of the RTI Act, without jeopardizing the financial stability and economic interests of the State.’ Effectively it means that RBI arrogates to itself the right to lay down exemptions to disclosure of information in line with the objectives of the Act. This is the sole prerogative of Parliament which has provided the exemptions to disclosure in Section 8 and 9 of the RTI Act. The RBI’s disclosure policy is actually a non-disclosure. They are the masters and the judges themselves.

What are the 10 areas that are exempted under the RTI Act?

1) To give information, disclosures which would affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign State or lead to incitement of an offence; 2) information which has been expressly forbidden to be published by any court of law or tribunal or the disclosure of which may constitute contempt of court; 3) information, the disclosure of which would cause a breach of privilege of Parliament or the State Legislature; 4) information including commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party, unless the competent authority is satisfied that larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information; 5) information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information; 6) information received in confidence from foreign government; 7) information, the disclosure of which would endanger the life or physical safety of any person or identify the source of information or assistance given in confidence for law enforcement or security purposes; 8) information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders; 9) cabinet papers including records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers, Secretaries and other officers: Provided that the decisions of Council of Ministers, the reasons thereof, and the material on the basis of which the decisions were taken shall be made public after the decision has been taken, and the matter is complete, or over: Provided further that those matters which come under the exemptions specified in this section shall not be disclosed; 10) information which relates to personal information the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual unless the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the appellate authority, as the case may be, is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information: Provided that the information, which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature shall not be denied to any person.

When Supreme Court orders are not being adhered to by the RBI, can no action be taken on the institution?

When you defy SC orders, the CIC cannot do anything. The commission has the authority and power to say that the list you put up is too wide ranging and can’t be accepted. That’s all.

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 12:24 IST

BJP reaches out to Mary Kom ahead of Manipur polls

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With barely a week for the poll dates in Manipur to be announced, BJP is trying to make inroads into the northeastern state by reaching out to world champion boxer Mary Kom to lead its campaign in the state election. Sources in the party said that the Olympian met party president Amit Shah last week.The meeting has sparked off speculation that the BJP was keen on Kom spearheading the party’s fight in the upcoming polls in the fragmented state. However, sources said the ball was now in her court.It was not known whether the BJP was considering her as its chief ministerial candidate. A close aide of the boxer, who is a Rajya Sabha member, said she had met some ministers in Delhi last week. “She is yet to join the party, and no decision on her future course of action has been taken yet,” said the aide. Kom was unavailable for comment.Manipur state BJP chief K Bhabananda Singh said that no directive has come from the Centre; but that he will support if any announcement to make Kom the CM candidate is made.With Mary belonging to the Kom tribe, it will be interesting to see how the party’s fortunes pan out in a state dominated mostly by the Meiteis. The absolute popularity that Mary enjoys outside the state needs to translate into votes for the BJP. Singh, however, says that he is ‘optimistic’ with the party’s great prospects.Yet, the stalemate between the Congress-led government and the United Naga Council is firmly in place, blocking the entry of essential goods.The other star face in the state, Irom Sharmila, who gave up her 16-year-long fast against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) early this year, caused a huge stir by announcing her plans to contest the elections. With an eroding popularity, Irom’s prospects will also be closely-watched.

Govt will do everything to strengthen country’s integrity and security: Rajnath Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday asserted that all possible steps will be taken to preserve and strengthen country’s integrity and security – be it external or internal threats.Chairing the 27th meeting of the Southern Zonal Council here, Singh said state governments must ensure better inter-State coordination and take up joint operations in common border areas.”All possible steps will be taken to preserve and strengthen the integrity and safety of our country, be it either from external or internal threats,” he said. The Home Minister said in the recent past, the Left Wing Extremism had been assuming serious dimensions in certain parts of the country.The Minister said state governments must ensure better inter-State coordination and take up joint operations in common border areas. Two top Maoist leaders, including a woman,had been killed in a police ‘encounter’ in Padukka forest range near Karulai in Nilambur in Malappuram district last month. “The recent incidents that occurred in Kerala underscored the paramount need for further tightening up of administrative and police machinery,” he said.The Council reviewed progress of implementation of various recommendations made in the last meeting relating to issues of fishermen, Peninsular Region Industrial Development Corridor, extension of High Speed Rail Corridor between Thiruvananthapuram up to Mangalore and Udupi, introduction of peninsular tourism trains in the zone and Amendments to the New Road Transport and Road Safety Bill. Thereafter, the Council took up issues which relate to uniformity in allocation of funds for scholarships in proportion of population of SC/ST for all courses, revision of ceiling on profession tax by Government of India, prevention of communicable diseases, naxalism, promotion of oilseeds and oil palm cultivation and development of Puducherry Airport.Out of the 22 items discussed, 16 were resolved in the meeting. The Home Minister said the Central government is committed to further strengthen the Zonal Councils and the Inter State Council. He said the meetings of five Zonal Councils and their Standing Committees were held in 2015 after a long gap. Earlier, all the five Zonal Council meetings were held in one year only in the years of 1972 and 2005.

Making up for lost time? J&K Govt to update database of those affected by violence in last 30 years

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jammu and Kashmir government will be updating data base of those affected by violence over last three decades to ensure their rehabilitation, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said today, asserting her dispensation’s “moral responsibility” to reach out to every victim of violence, irrespective of its source.Mehbooba stated this here, days after her government cleared ex-gratia for kin of 17 people, including brother of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, killed in militancy- related incidents.”We heve asked for updating the data base of people affected by the violence of past almost three decades in the state so that some concrete steps for their complete integration into the social set-up are facilitated,” she said.She pitched for proper rehabilitation, social integration of violence victims in J&K and said special programmes should be thought of for the rehabilitation and integration of these poor victims into the social mainstream of the state.Chairing the 7th Governing Council meeting of J&K Rehabilitation Council here, the Chief Minister said concrete interventions are needed for the proper and complete rehabilitation of women and children, particularly in education, health and psychological spheres. Mehbooba said the government has the moral responsibility of reaching out to every single victim of violence in the state, no matter the source of it.She asked the officers to factor in the needs and requirements of these victims while framing policies and schemes for the general public. The meeting decided to further finetune the number of widows, orphans and parents of killed persons in the state so that an actual and updated number of such victims is available for their rehabilitation.It also decided that the Action plan for the Council would henceforth be finalised in March every year so that the assistance could be disbursed from April onwards.The meeting also decided to enhance the one-time marriage assistance to young widows and grown-up daughters to Rs 40,000 per case. The meeting also asked the Council to pursue the various funding patterns available in the central government for the benefit of victims of violence in the State.

Expelled MP Sasikala Pushpa’s husband attacked by AIADMK cadres, police complaint filed

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>AIADMK cadres on Wednesday attacked and injured the husband of expelled MP Sasikala Pushpa, who was accused of trying to create a law-and-order problem ahead of Thusday’s General Council meeting to elect a new General Secretary.While initial reports suggested that the attacked man, who was seen bleeding profusely, was Pushpa’s lawyer, police later clarified he was her husband Lingeswara Thilagan, who has been detained for interrogation.Police said no other person was injured.
ALSO READ Suspended MP Sasikala Pushpa has no right to enter party office: AIADMK AIADMK supporters rained blows on Thilagan, who had stayed put there despite being asked to leave, resulting in bleeding injuries on his nose. He was rescued by police who removed him from the vicinity for first aid, even as angry men and women were seen swearing at him.AIADMK workers started gathering at the party headquarters following information that Pushpa, earlier expelled by Jayalalithaa for anti-party activities, could come there ahead of Thursday’s General Council, possibly to seek an invitation to attend it. It was felt that she could even try to contest for the top post.
ALSO READ Sasikala vs Sasikala: AIADMK files a petition to quash former MP’s petitionPushpa had been reportedly questioning Sasikala’s eligibility for appointment as the new General Secretary, a demand being made by a section of party workers.Party spokesperson C R Saraswathy charged Pushpa with trying to create a law-and-order problem ahead of the General Council. “Sasikala Pushpa wants to create a law-and-order problem ahead of the General Council tomorrow. Let her resign first as MP as it was Amma who made her a Rajya Sabha Member,” she said.She alleged that Pushpa’s injured husband had deliberately stayed put at the party headquarters despite being asked to leave and it had been done to “create a problem”. “She (Pushpa) is no more in the AIADMK. In the General Council, only members are allowed and not even special guests are invited,” she said.On the violence, another Spokesperson C Ponnayan said “If someone enters your house and creates problems, there is a consequence– an action has got a reaction.” “However, we do not justify the violence as this movement, launched by MGR (MG Ramachandran) and taken forward by Amma (Jayalalithaa), does not condone violence,” Ponnaiyan added.Sasikala Puspha could not be reached for comments despite repeated attempts. However, she has filed a police complaint against AIADMK cadres for assaulting her husband at the party HQ.Meanwhile, actor Anandraj quit the party, in an apparent fallout with Sasikala.He said he has sent his resignation letter to the party. “I do not have any personal enmity with anyone. I was not invited for tomorrow’s General Council. Let anybody be elected as general secretary. I have sent my resignation letter, hope they accept it,” he told reporters.Anandraj had also been making some comments of late on the issue of Jayalalithaa’s successor to the top post. Without naming anyone, he said nobody should be compared with Jayalalithaa.”In the present situation, even a government officer is using Amma’s name,” he said, in an apparent reference to former Chief Secretary P Rama Mohana Rao, who is under the Income Tax scanner, and had repeatedly invoked her name on Tuesday while defending himself during a press meet.”Do not demean the soul of Amma by invoking her name. Do not misuse her name. Anybody is able to use her name. Please respect her,” he said. (With ANI inputs)

Air Chief Marshal Raha takes swipe at China, rejects concerns about Agni-V

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Brushing aside Chinese reaction on the test firing of long-range nuclear capable missile Agni-V, IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha on Wednesday said India should carry on with its task of building deterrence capability.In an apparent swipe at China, he said one should not talk about someone else doing something unless it is prohibited like nuclear proliferation and went on to add that it is “common knowledge” as to what is happening in this region “in terms of collusion, transfer of technology which is forbidden”. Underlining that India is only building up its deterrence capability, Raha, who is also the Chairman Chief of Staff Committee, said the country will have to build its capability “in order to strike deep into adversary’s heartland” which will act as a deterrent.The Agni V missile, with an over 5000 km range, covers the entire China. Reacting to the missile test-firing, Chinese Foreign Ministry had yesterday hoped that it complied with UN Security Council rules and safeguarded South Asia’s strategic balance. “I think in international diplomacy, normal diplomacy or military diplomacy, these posturing and signalling will always be there. “So we should just go about with our task, meet our own requirements, security challenges,” Raha said addressing a press conference here days before he demotes office on December 31.Not mincing words, Raha said he will not like to comment on what somebody else is doing unless it is prohibited. “Like nuclear proliferation, which is common knowledge to everyone, what is happening in this region, in terms of collusion, transfer of technology which is forbidden. This is all common knowledge. I am not saying something new,” he said, without naming any country. The IAF chief stated that India is legitimately developing its capability indigenously and he does not think anyone should complain about it.Raha said India is “obviously building up” capability not to actually fight a conflict as it believes in peace and tranquillity. “But we also know we have been drawn into conflicts several times in the past. So going by historical experience, we have to build our capability. Capability to deter. How do we deter an adversary who is strong? We have to build up capability in order to strike deep into adversary’s heartland, take on targets effectively which will hurt the adversary,” he said.

Hopeful of GST roll out from coming April: Ananth Kumar

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

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

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

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

File photo of Union Minister Anant Kumar. PTI

File photo of Union Minister Anant Kumar. PTI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Manipur: BJP slams CM Okram Ibobi Singh, Centre rushes 4000 paramiltary personnel

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ram Madhav, the National General Secretary of the BJP hit out at Manipur CM Okram Ibobi Singh over the blockade in Manipur by the United Naga Council. He was quoted by ANI: “Manipur CM was asked to take help from forces & clear blockade, but blockade apparently politically suited him, so didn’t do needful. Manipur CM playing games with lives of people of Valley, Govt of India from day one asked him to avail all required support from Centre.”Earlier, the BJP appealed the United Naga Council (UNC) to immediately withdraw the ongoing economic blockade on the highways of Manipur. BJP spokesperson N Biren appealed the UNC to withdraw the blockade which entered its 56th day today and sought “another forum” to achieve its demands.Biren was speaking to the reporters on his return from Delhi, where an eight-member BJP delegation met top central leaders including Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on the issue. Biren said, “The ruling Congress government is answerable to the people of the state for the hardship faced by them”.He questioned whether it has made any formal effort at the Centre regarding the presence of NSCN(IM) camps in the Manipur, the number of its cadre present in the state.He also sought to know whether there have been any effort to demolish the NSCN(IM)’s designated camps in the state as the ceasefire agreement between NSCN(IM) and the Centre does not cover Manipur. Biren also asked whether the state government has made any move to identify the perpetrators of the twin ambush on Manipur police at Lokchao and Bongyang in Tengnoupal district which claimed the lives of three policemen earlier this month. If there has been any such move, BJP demanded that the documents be made public. He also said the BJP was for a neutral CBI or NIA inquiry into the attacks on Manipur police. Later, lone BJP MLA Bishwajit said BJP’s philosophy is nation first, party second and self last. Centre rushes 4000 paramilitary personnel to Manipur The Centre has rushed additional 4,000 paramilitary personnel to Manipur in its efforts to reopen a national highway which has blocked for nearly two months by a Naga group.With this, the total number of central security personnel deployed in the sensitive northeastern state for assisting the local administration for maintaining law and order has gone up to 17,500.”Our top priority is now to reopen the National Highway-2 connecting Manipur (to Nagaland). While the other highway (NH-37) is reopened, we want to reopen the NH-2 too as early as possible,” a senior Home Ministry official said.The security personnel were sent to the northeastern state keeping in view the security situation in the wake of violence following the economic blockade imposed by the Union Naga Council (UNC) on the National Highways since November 1.The UNC has imposed the economic blockade on NH-2 (Imphal-Dimapur) and NH 37 (Imphal-Jiribam) that serve as lifelines for the landlocked Manipur.Curfew has been clamped in Imphal East district for the last fortnight after a mob torched and vandalised 22 passenger vehicles on the Imphal-Ukhrul road, while curfew in Imphal West district was imposed from evening to dawn.In a stern message, the Centre had on Friday told the Manipur government that it can’t escape responsibility for the “humanitarian crisis” arising out of the 52-day economic blockade by a Naga group and must work to end it, while making it clear that nobody will be allowed to take political advantage out of it.Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, who was on a day-long visit to Congress-ruled Manipur as a central emissary, said it is completely unacceptable to have such kinds of blockades in which thousands are suffering and both the central and Manipur governments will work together to end it.”The state government has not been able to end the blockade. It must end as soon as possible as law and order is the responsibility of the state government. Nobody will be allowed to take political advantage out of a humanitarian crisis where common people are suffering,” he had said.

Mohenjodaro ‘Dancing Girl’ statue is Parvati, says ICHR’s latest research paper

The latest research paper of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) published in the Hindi journal Itihaas states that the ‘Dancing Girl’ of Mohenjodaro is actually Goddess Parvati, reported The Indian Express.

Dancing Girl. Image: nationalmuseumindia.gov.in

Dancing Girl. Image: nationalmuseumindia.gov.in

In the research paper titled ‘Vedic Sabhyata Ka Puratatva (Archaeology of Vedic Civilisation)’, author Thakur Prasad Verma wrote that this proves that the people of Indus Valley Civilisation worshiped Shiva, a claim made by many “Right-leaning historians”, added the report. Verma writes that the ‘Seal 420’ and “trefoil pattern seen on the shawl of the ‘Priest King'” indicate Shiva worship in the Vedic period, stated The Indian Express.

The author then states that the bronze statue of ‘Dancing Girl’, which is on display at the National Museum, New Delhi, is Parvati because: “where there is Shiva, there should be Shakti”. 

Earlier in October, a Pakistani lawyer has moved the Lahore High Court, asking it to direct the government to bring back the ‘Dancing Girl’ statue from India.

The ancient bronze statue excavated from Mohenjodaro was sent for exhibition to India on the request of the National Arts Council, Delhi, some 60 years ago. New Delhi later refused to return the statue, the petitioner claimed, Express News had reported.

Barrister Javed Iqbal Jafree had made this request through a writ petition. He had claimed the statue was actually a property of the Lahore museum, and urged the high court chief justice to take suo motu notice of the matter and direct the government to get the statue back from India.

Jafree contended that the 5,000-year-old statue enjoyed the same historical importance in Pakistan as Mona Lisa in Europe. He pleaded that the bronze piece of art was Pakistan’s cultural heritage and needed to be protected.

With inputs from IANS

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 17:57 IST

Two-day GST Council meet to end today: Key points over the vexed dual control issue

The two-day GST Council meet that began on Thursday (22 December) and will continue today would take forward the discussion on the remaining 7 chapters of the model GST law.

The council headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, which is meeting for the seventh time so far, will also take up the dual control issue and try to iron out differences on the vexed issue of jurisdiction over assessees in the new indirect tax regime.

Consensus has so far eluded on the model GST law in the previous meetings of the all-powerful GST Council. The subsequent GST legislations — CGST, IGST and compensation law — could not be introduced in the Winter session of Parliament that ended last week, and this has threatened the April 2017 rollout target of the GST.

Experts now say that implementation of GST should be postponed by three months to July next year as industry would need time to prepare their IT infrastructure.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Although, the Centre plans to implement the GST from 1 April, due to Constitutional compulsion the GST now could be rolled out by 16 September next year as the existing indirect taxes will come to an end, and it would not be possible for either Centre or the states to collect indirect taxes.

Day one of the two-day Council meet ended on Thursday with no discussion on dual control but discussed the GST bills.

However, Friday’s meeting will be important as the integrated GST Bill will discuss the contentious issue over the dual control of assessees. Besides this, the three GST bills – Central GST (cGST), Integrated GST and State Compensation Law – need to be approved by the Council before they can be tabled in the Parliament.

Failure to get a consensus on the issue would make it impossible for the government to implement the ambitious indirect tax reform from its target date of 1 April 2017, said a report in the Mint.

Already, finance minister Arun Jaitley has been emphasising that the luxury of time is not available for the GST implementation for the reason that if 1 April 2017, is the first possible day it can be implemented, then the last date also is constitutionally defined as 16 September, 2017.
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“So the discretion as to when to implement is only five months and 16 days and that’s why we don’t have the luxury of time because after five months, the curtains will come down on the old taxation powers,” Jaitley had said earlier.

The dual control has been a sticking point between the Centre and the states, which has so far delayed consensus amongst the council members.

Here are the key points over this vexed issue.

1) The government wants to weigh on the pros and cons on the issues of cross empowerment to ensure single interface under GST, which will subsume excise, service tax, VAT and other local levies.

2) Dual control pertains to the issue of administration of transactions above Rs 1.5 crore. At the September meeting, it was decided that states would have exclusive jurisdiction over transactions below Rs 1.5 crore. For transactions above this amount, it was decided that a mechanism would be worked out to ensure that the same transaction would not be subject to dual audit/inspection by the centre and the state. This has resulted in tug of war between the Centre and states and has become a contentious issue.

3) State governments of Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu and Kerala want exclusive control over small taxpayers below Rs 1.5 crore threshold. While the Centre has agreed to forego control on goods, but it is not yielding on services.

4) The GST council also arrived at an option of two proposals– horizontal division and vertical division to overcome the issue. a) Horizontal Division means tax payers would be divided both for administrative and audit purposes based on a cut off turnover. Those with a turnover over Rs 1.5 crore would be administered both by the Centre and states, while those with below Rs 1.5 crore would be administered solely by the state. b) The Vertical Division based on ratios assigns tax payers to a tax administration, Centre or state, for a period of 3 years for all purposes including audit. Tax payers could be divided in a ratio which would balance the interest of the Centre and the state, both with respect to revenue and spread of numbers.

5) The Centre, however, feels that horizontal division would be lopsided as 93 percent of Service Tax assessees and 85 percent of the VAT tax payers have a turnover below Rs 1.5 crore.

6) Last month, GST Council had failed to reach any conclusion on the dual control issue as states objected to non-availability of updated data on assessees of service tax, excise and VAT.

7) The updated figures shared by the Centre with the states shows the likely taxpayer base in GST would be 107 lakh, of which states account for 67 percent (71.7 lakh) and Centre is estimated to account for 33 percent (35.3 lakh). There are around 81.4 lakh VAT dealers, out of which active dealers are 66.5 lakh. For service tax, there are 38 lakh assessees, out of which 26 lakh are active assessees, while there are around 4,00,000 assessees for excise. Around 4,00,000 taxpayers are common to the Centre and the states, The Indian Express report said.

With PTI inputs

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 12:56 IST

Manipur: Christmas to remain sombre as economic blockade enters 53rd day

Caught between an economic blockade, protests and violence that entered 53rd day on Friday and a cash crunch caused by demonetisation, normal life remains paralysed in Manipur as the state faces shortages and escalating costs of essential supplies such as food and fuel. However, with Christmas just around the corner and Bharatiya Janata Party leader and Ministry of State (Home), Kiren Rijiju arriving in Manipur on Friday to analyse the situation, a temporary solution may be in the offer.

Rijiju had a meeting with Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh, and it’s expected that the central government may reach out to Naga groups to end the blockade.

A four-day economic blockade was called on 1 November by the United Naga Council as a mark of protest against the state government’s decision to form seven new districts in Manipur. However, it has emerged into an indefinite strike as naga groups continue to oppose the move.

Angry Manipuris in Imphal East district set vehicles on fire in protest against the United Naga Council (UNC)’s indefinite economic blockade on 18 December. PTI

All vehicular movements have stopped on the National Highway-2 since then with the state facing shortages and escalating costs of essential supplies such as fuel and food. There have also been reports of violence.

But following the blockade, as Firstpost reported on 18 December , at least 22 cars, buses and other vehicles were torched in some places in Manipur’s Imphal East district on Sunday by angry residents protesting against the Naga economic blockade and several incidents of militancy targeting security forces.

The state has a history of ethnic tension between the Meitei Hindus (in the valley) and Naga tribes (living in the hills) mostly Christians with the latter calling for the formation of a greater Nagaland. The state government’s decision to form the seven new districts is being seen as a threat to the idea of Nagalim.

On Thursday, Union minister Rajnath Singh rapped the Okram Ibobi Singh-led Congress government and for failing to maintain law and order in the state. According to The Hindu, Singh sent a letter to Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh and asked him to “discharge the constitutional obligations with utmost promptness” as “maintaining law and order and essential supplies is the State’s responsibility”.

Earlier, boxing champion Mary Kom had written to the central government urging it to intervene and find a way to end the blockade.

However, Singh has accused the National Socialist Council of Nagaland — Isak-Muviah (NSCN-IM) with which BJP had entered in a peace agreement in 2015, for the ongoing tension.

According to News18, around 70 heavily armed men suspected to be from the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) attacked seven posts of the Indian Reserve Battalion and snatched 20 weapons from the security personnel in Noney district of Imphal on Saturday.

According to local newspaper, The Sangai Express, curfew was imposed on the state following the incident. It has been relaxed in Imphal East district between 4 am to 9 pm since Friday, but curfew remains effective in other parts of the state.

Though, the days following the incident have been calmer, Rijiju may find it tough finding an immediate solution, as according to NDTV, the Naga Students Federation has announced its decision to impose a “total blockade” on all Imphal-bound vehicles, including passenger and goods carriers.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 12:34 IST

GST Council to discuss crucial issue of dual control on Friday

New Delhi: The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council will on Friday, the second day of its ongoing seventh meet, discuss the vexed issue of cross empowerment or dual control of assessee jurisdiction under the pan-India indirect tax regime, said informed sources.

GST web portal screengrabGST web portal screengrab

GST web portal screengrab

“The issue of dual control is laid out in the agenda of this ongoing seventh Council meet. It will be discussed tomorrow (day-two),” Finance Ministry sources told IANS.

The solution to the critical issue has eluded consensus over six previous meetings of the GST Council.

Day one of the two-day Council meet ended on Thursday with no discussion on dual control but discussed the GST bills, the source added.

The three GST bills – Central GST (cGST), Integrated GST and State Compensation Law – need to be approved by the Council before they can be tabled in the Parliament.

The deadlock on the issue in the GST Council has raised questions on the targeted implementation date of 1 April, 2017 for the indirect tax regime.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has been emphasising that the luxury of time is not available for the GST implementation for the reason that if 1 April, 2017, is the first possible day it can be implemented, then the last date also is constitutionally defined as 16 September, 2017.

“So the discretion as to when to implement is only five months and 16 days and that’s why we don’t have the luxury of time because after five months, the curtains will come down on the old taxation powers,” Jaitley had said earlier.

With a serious question mark over the April 1 target, now that the legislations could not be tabled in the winter session, the plan appears to be to have GST come into force by default when the time given by the constitutional amendment will automatically expire for roll out of the new indirect tax regime.

First Published On : Dec 22, 2016 19:41 IST

Muzaffarpur: JD(U) MLC’s son booked in a murder case

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Son of a ruling JD(U) member of State Legislative Council Dinesh Singh was on Wednesday booked in a case of murder of a worker in Fatehpur village of Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district.On the basis of a statement given by the wife of deceased, an FIR has been registered with Kanti police station against Chottu Singh, son of JD(U) MLC Dinesh Singh, Deputy Superintendent of Police, West, Ajay Kumar said.The police recovered dead body of labourer Suresh Sah near Chainpur canal under Kanti police station this morning, the DSP said.The wife of deceased said in her complaint that Chottu Singh had forcefully called her husband at his home late last night. She alleged that Chottu Singh was involved in illegal liquor trade. Her husband, who worked as a painter at the residence of MLC Dinesh Singh, had come in contact with Chottu Singh.The DSP said that police is investigating into the matter.

Nexus of traffickers, terror networks dangerous, should be urgently addressed: India at UN

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India has described the nexus between organised traffickers and terrorist networks through illicit financial linkages as a “dangerous phenomenon” that should be urgently addressed using counter-terrorism financing tools and sanctions regimes.”The nexus between organised traffickers and terrorist networks through illicit financial linkages is a dangerous phenomenon,” India’s Deputy Permanent Representative Tanmaya Lal said at a UN Security Council debate on ‘Trafficking in Persons in Conflict Situations’, here on Wednesday.Lal said the low rates of conviction for crimes of trafficking across countries needs to change.”The persistence of this transnational organised crime and its links with terrorist networks despite the various collective efforts of the international community is a challenge that requires a stepping up of our efforts, more effectively using the existing counter-terror financing tools and mechanisms and sanctions regimes in this regard,” he said.Lal also voiced concern that situations of armed conflict provide fertile ground for trafficking in persons especially from the vulnerable groups, including women, children and refugees for sexual slavery and forced labour or as fighters.He said that in recent times, heinous actions of terrorist groups such as ISIS or Boko Haram specifically targeting women and children in situations of armed conflict as a deliberate tactic of war add an even more serious dimension to such crimes as such groups continue to act with impunity.”The primary focus of the Security Council is to address threats to international peace and security. While increased focus on addressing trafficking in persons and its linkages to terrorism and armed conflicts is timely, we must strengthen international collaboration to better implement the various existing mechanisms, including through more effective coordination of the various entities at the UN,” he said.While the Security Council should retain its focus on situations of armed conflict, Lal said broader mechanisms should be more fully utilised to strengthen national capacity building including in criminal justice capacities, regulatory frameworks of banking and financial institutions to disrupt illicit financial flows and improve regional and inter-regional cooperation.Outlining the measures taken by India to address issue of trafficking, he said India unveiled a comprehensive draft legislation this year aimed at prevention of trafficking and protection and rehabilitation of trafficked persons.India also continues to work closely with UN agencies including UN Women and the Office on Drugs and Crime.UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, highlighting the plight of victims of human trafficking, underlined at the debate the need to ensure justice for victims and accountability forperpetrators, as well as to address underlying factors by focusing on human rights and stability.”If conflict gives oxygen to traffickers, human rights and stability suffocate them,” Ban told the Security Council at its ministerial-level meeting on trafficking.Ban said there is need for strategic leadership in ending war and also in preventing conflicts and sustaining peace, noting the UN’s commitment to supporting its member states in early action and in preventive diplomacy.

Naga group meets Rajnath Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As Manipur continues to witness violent clashes between warring groups of Meitei, Naga and Kuki on the issue of carving out seven new districts, a delegation from the United Naga Council (UNC), a powerful Naga group responsible for the economic blockade, met union home minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday and demanded imposition of President’s rule in the state.The two-member delegation, vice president T S Warngam and speaker of UNC assembly affairs S Kho John, blamed Manipur Chief Minister Ibobi Singh for orchestrating violence to scuttle the Naga peace process and win the 2017 assembly elections.Union Home Ministry sources said, Rajnath Singh has not given any assurance to the Naga group besides taking up the issue with Manipur Chief Minister. After burning its fingers in Arunachal Pradesh that witnessed strong reaction from the court, the Centre wants to be sure of its action, sources said.

Maha local polls: BJP ahead of rest, Congress in second spot

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ruling BJP in Maharashtra is leading with 1090 councillor seats and 64 Municipal Council President posts in 197 Councils and 19 Nagar Panchayats, results for which have been declared so far.Congress comes a close second with 894 seats, NCP has bagged 786 seats and Shiv Sena 598. The rest have been won by local outfits, Independents and other political parties. Results for the third phase of polls were declared yesterday, polling for which was held on Sunday for the third phase of elections in 19 municipal councils and two nagar panchayats in Aurangabad, Nanded, Bhandara and Gadchiroli districts. The fourth and the last phase of the local bodies polls covering 11 municipal councils in Nagpur and Gondia districts of Vidarbha will be held on January 8, 2017.As of now elections have been held for 4460 seats in three phases. Of the 180 posts of Municipal Council President, BJP leads with 64 followed by Congress 33, NCP 21 and Shiv Sena 26.While BJP fared well in all the districts which went to polls in the three phases, NCP recovered ground in the second phase especially in Pune district, while Congress scored in the third phase in Nanded, the stronghold of state Congress chief Ashok Chavan.State BJP President Raosaheb Danve attributed the party’s success to people’s endorsement of demonetization and performance of the state and central governments.State Congress President Ashok Chavan meanwhile alleged that BJP used money and official machinery to win the elections. To substantiate his claims, Chavan cited examples of Danve and Dairy Development Minister Mahadeo Jankar.Danve at an election rally at Paithan in Aurangabad urged people to accept Lakshmi (money) before casting votes and Jankar had allegedly pressurised election official to reject nomination of a Congress nominee.NCP president Sharad Pawar too rejected BJP’s contention that the win was an endorsement of government’s policies especially demonetization.

India renews efforts to seek UN action against LeT, JeM, their ‘shadowy supporters’

United Nations: India has renewed its demand for international action against Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror groups and “their shadowy supporters”.

Denouncing the two organisations, whose leadership is based in Pakistan, as affiliates of Al Qaeda, India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin told the Security Council that it was imperative to take action against the support they get from outside.

File image of Syed Akbaruddin. IBNliveFile image of Syed Akbaruddin. IBNlive

File image of Syed Akbaruddin. IBNlive

In an implied criticism of China, he blamed the “split” in the UN bodies that mete out sanctions on terrorist organisations for the world body’s inability to deal with the terrorism.

China has blocked India’s efforts to have international sanctions imposed on Pakistan-based JeM chief Masood Azhar by a committee that takes action against Al Qaeda and its affiliates. Azhar was behind the attack on the Pathankot air force base this year that left seven Indian soldiers dead.

As a member of the Security Council, China has also provided cover for Pakistan releasing on bail Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the LeT commander who masterminded the 2008 attack on Mumbai which killed more than 160 people. He was already on the UN list of those facing sanctions as terrorists.

“We need to address, as an imperative, the support that terrorist organizations like the Taliban, Haqqani Network, Daesh, AI Qaeda and its designated affiliates such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammed which operate entirely outside the fabric of international law draw from their shadowy supporters outside Afghanistan,” Akbaruddin said.

“While the Taliban sanctions regime remains split for more than five years, the designated terrorist group makes concerted effort to capture and hold territory,” he said.

“Therefore, for numerous Afghan women, men and children there is no respite from the plague of terrorism.”

The international community has to make “it clear that we will neither roll over in the face of terror, nor will we of allow the roll back of the achievements of the resolute people and government of Afghanistan in the last decade and a half,” Akbaruddin said.

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 14:46 IST

India boycotts international tech meet in Pakistan signalling tension between two nations

Islamabad: India has pulled out of an international conference on transfer of technology being hosted by Pakistan in the latest sign of heightened tensions between the two neighbours.

Ministry of Science and Technology officials said New Delhi initially confirmed its participation in the three-day session of the Governing Council of a UN affiliated institute that promotes transfer of technology from small and medium sized enterprises in the Asia-Pacific region.

The conference of the Asian and Pacific Centre for Transfer of Technology (APCTT) kicked off in Islamabad on Monday.

Representational imageRepresentational image

Representational image

“Just hours before the meeting was to start, the Indian delegation cancelled its trip saying their head delegate had contracted food poisoning,” an official of the ministry told the media.

Bangla­desh and Iran were the other countries who did not participate in the conference. China, Fiji, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Samoa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam attended the meeting.

The council, which meets once a year, advises on the future and reviews the working of the centre located in India under the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (Esacap).

The meeting will approve projects to be undertaken in 2017. Out of the total five projects, India has submitted one titled “Feed the Future India”.

The project is aimed at enhancing food security in selected least-developed countries through the establishment of an agricultural innovation accelerator platform in India with USAID funding of $1.5 million.

India had earlier in November boycotted the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) that was to be held in Islamabad.

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 13:27 IST

Address support to terror from outside Afghanistan: India to United Nations

United Nations: In a clear reference to Pakistan providing safe havens to terror groups, India has told the UN that the international community must urgently address the issue of backing to outfits like LeT, JeM and the Haqqani Network by “shadowy supporters” outside Afghanistan.

“Experience, as well as academic research, provides ample support for the assertion that conflicts in which foreign assistance is available to shadowy entities that fight legitimate state authorities tend to be more severe and last longer than other types of conflict,” India’s Ambassador to the UN Syed Akbaruddin said in a Security Council session on the situation in Afghanistan.

Without naming Pakistan, Akbaruddin said sustainable peace in Afghanistan is contingent upon terror groups and individuals being denied safe havens in the country’s neighbourhood and the international community must address the issue of the support that terror outfits like the Taliban and al-Qaeda get from their supporters outside Afghanistan.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“If we are to bring sustainable peace to Afghanistan, groups and individuals that perpetrate violence against the people and the government of Afghanistan must be denied safe havens and sanctuaries in Afghanistan’s neighbourhood,” he said.

“We need to address, as an imperative, the support that terrorist organisations like the Taliban, Haqqani Network, Daesh, al-Qaeda and its designated affiliates such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammed which operate entirely outside the fabric of international law draw from their shadowy supporters outside Afghanistan,” Akbaruddin said at the United Nations on Monday.

He pointed out to the meeting in the 15-nation Council that it is apparent that efforts by nations for rebuilding institutions, infrastructure and networks in Afghanistan are being “undermined, schools are being destroyed, mosques bombarded and religious gatherings targeted”.

“It is also evident that those who perpetrate these heinous crimes have survived and thrived only with support and sanctuaries on the outside,” he said, in a veiled but strong reference to Pakistan.

Akbaruddin noted with concern that while the international community recommits to standing by the Afghan people each time the UN members discuss the situation in the war-torn country, the number of Afghan civilian and security forces casualties keeps rising.

“While the Taliban sanctions regime remains split for more than five years, the designated terrorist group makes concerted effort to capture and hold territory. Therefore, for numerous Afghan women, men and children there is no respite from the plague of terrorism,” he said.

The Indian envoy emphasised that the international community must introspect about the way it is approaching the situation in Afghanistan and whether there is need for course correction.

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 13:11 IST

Address support for terror from outside Afghanistan: India tells UN in clear reference to Pakistan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> In a clear reference to Pakistan providing safe havens to terror groups, India has told the UN that the international community needs to urgently address the backing outfits like the Haqqani Network, LeT and JeM draw from their “shadowy supporters” outside Afghanistan.”Experience, as well as academic research, provides ample support for the assertion that conflicts in which foreign assistance is available to shadowy entities that fight legitimate state authorities tend to be more severe and last longer than other types of conflict,” India’s Ambassador to the UN Syed Akbaruddin said in a Security Council session on the situation in Afghanistan.Without naming Pakistan, Akbaruddin said sustainable peace in Afghanistan is contingent upon terror groups and individuals being denied safe havens in the country’s neighbourhood and the international community must address the issue of the support that terror outfits like the Taliban and al-Qaeda get from their supporters outside Afghanistan.
ALSO READ Pakistan as victim & perpetrator: Different takes on terrorism in Asia”If we are to bring sustainable peace to Afghanistan, groups and individuals that perpetrate violence against the people and the government of Afghanistan must be denied safe havens and sanctuaries in Afghanistan’s neighbourhood,” he said.”We need to address, as an imperative, the support that terrorist organisations like the Taliban, Haqqani Network, Daesh, al-Qaeda and its designated affiliates such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e Mohammed which operate entirely outside the fabric of international law draw from their shadowy supporters outside Afghanistan,” Akbaruddin said here yesterday.
ALSO READ Pakistan’s ‘outstanding’ issue is its support to terrorism, says India after Trump-Sharif phone callHe pointed out to the meeting in the 15-nation Council that it is apparent that efforts by nations for rebuilding institutions, infrastructure and networks in Afghanistan are being “undermined, schools are being destroyed, mosques bombarded and religious gatherings targeted”.”It is also evident that those who perpetrate these heinous crimes have survived and thrived only with support and sanctuaries on the outside,” he said, in a veiled but strong reference to Pakistan.
ALSO READ Heart of Asia declaration which named Pak-based terror outfits LeT, JeM was unanimous: Sartaj AzizAkbaruddin noted with concern that while the international community recommits to standing by the Afghan people each time the UN members discuss the situation in the war-torn country, the number of Afghan civilian and security forces casualties keeps rising.”While the Taliban sanctions regime remains split for more than five years, the designated terrorist group makes concerted effort to capture and hold territory. Therefore, for numerous Afghan women, men and children there is no respite from the plague of terrorism,” he said.The Indian envoy emphasised that the international community must introspect about the way it is approaching the situation in Afghanistan and whether there is need for course correction.

Manipur violence: Unrest spills to Naga dominated Senapati district; curfew on in Imphal East

Imphal: Violence on Monday spread to Senapati district of Manipur with two vehicles being torched even as indefinite curfew remained in force in Imphal East district and mobile data services suspended after protests over economic blockade by the United Naga Council.

However, curfew was lifted from Imphal West district early this morning.

Images from Sunday's protest against the United Naga Council (UNC)'s indefinite economic blockade. Imphal East: Angry people had set on fire vehicles in Imphal East district but no casualties were reported .PTI

Images from Sunday’s protest against the United Naga Council (UNC)’s indefinite economic blockade. Imphal East: Angry people had set on fire vehicles in Imphal East district but no casualties were reported .PTI

Amid heightened tension, unidentified persons torched two vehicles including a passenger bus at Naga Taphou area in Senapati district this morning, a police officer said.

Last night, four vehicles of former minister Marung Makunga were vandalised at Saombung in Imphal East district, the police said.

The police are on high alert to contain spread of violence in the wake of Saturday’s incident at Imphal-Ukhrul Road during which 22 vehicles were vandalised by a mob.

Mobile internet services were snapped till 25 December and Imphal East district was brought under indefinite curfew till further orders on Sunday after locals resorted to violence and vandalised vehicles on Imphal-Ukhrul road while protesting against the ongoing economic blockade by the United Naga Council (UNC) on the National Highways since 1 November.

The landlocked state has been experiencing severe hardship in supply of essential items since 1 November after UNC imposed an indefinite economic blockade on the two national highways that serve as lifeline for the state.

The blockade was imposed following the state government’s announcement of formation of seven new districts, four of which have been formally inaugurated.

Tension in the state escalated after militants ambushed Manipur Police and other state forces in the last few days that left three policemen dead and 14 others injured last Thursday.

The attack was followed by triple bomb blasts at Nagaram area in Imphal West district allegedly by Manipur Naga People’s Front the very next day.

In another incident, suspected militants overpowered a small outpost of Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) at Nungkao area on Sunday in Tamenglong district and fled with nine service weapons.

First Published On : Dec 19, 2016 15:23 IST

Watch | Caught on camera: TMC MLA speaks on phone during National Anthem

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In an incident signifying embarrassment for the Trinamool Congress (TMC), a party MLA Vaishali Dalmiya was caught on camera speaking over the phone while the National Anthem was being played.The TMC leader, who was present at a sports event in Howrah, West Bengal on Sunday was busy attending phone calls while the National Anthem was being played.Dalmiya, who is the daughter of late Jagmohan Dalmiya, former President of International Cricket Council and Board of Cricket Council of India, was attending Commissioner Cup, a Football tournament organised by Belur Police Station.This is not the first incident when a politician came under the radar for talking over phone during national anthem, as earlier, former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Farooq Abdullah faced a huge backlash for talking on phone while the national anthem was being played.Meanwhile, in Kerala at least six people were detained for allegedly showing disrespect to the national anthem and in another incident a Kerala writer was charged with sedition over a Facebook post that was allegedly disrespectful to the national anthem.

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.

Manipur: Nearly 70 terrorists attack IRB post, snatch weapons

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Nearly 70 NSCN – IM terrorists attacked the Nungkao post of the 6th Manipur Rifles and 7th Indian Reserve Battalion in Noney district of Manipur, says News 18 report. The terrorists also snatched away their loaded weapons. The incident occurred at 11.00 am on Saturday. The attack could be in retaliation to the creation of seven districts by CM Okram Ibobi government.Suspected cadres of NSCN-IM had ambushed with police personnels heading to an inauguration of a newly-created district cut out of Naga-dominated regions on Friday. A Manipur Police commando and two police constables were killed while nine others were injured in the attack.The National Socialist Council of Nagaland – Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) has been openly opposing the creation of the new districts. A few days back, the NSCN-IM, which had been ensuing in peace talk with the government of India, had threatened serious consequences if the decision for creation of new district has not been withdrawn.Manipur also sees elections around February 2017. With agency inputs

Jayalalithaa’s ‘conscience’ Sasikala should be made General Secretary: AIADMK

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The ruling AIADMK strongly backed late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s close aide VK Sasikala to succeed her as party General Secretary, saying she qualifies to be elected “automatically” and “unanimously” to the post by virtue of being the departed leader’s “conscience” for long.Party spokesperson C Ponnaiyan said while Jayalalithaa was the “conscience” of AIADMK founder and her mentor MG Ramachandran, Sasikala was, likewise, her “conscience.” “Chinnamma (as Sasikala is addressed by party workers), had been with Amma through her good and bad times for 33 years. She had been Amma’s conscience and continues to be so. She has played a vital role in keeping the party intact for long. Therefore, Chinnamma will be elected as General Secretary automatically and unanimously. There is no doubt or fear in that,” he told reporters here.He expressed confidence that the party’s decision-making bodies, General Council and Executive Council, have powers to elect Sasikala to lead the party and that the “aspirations will be met” in this regard. Indicating their proximity, he said Sasikala was Jayalalithaa’s ‘udanpirava sagothari’ (surrogate sister).Ponnaiyan said an online campaign on WhatsApp and Facebook to “defame Sasikala” and “finish off AIADMK” by “opposition parties” will not succeed. Ponnaiyan recalled that whenever the party functionaries would want to discuss an issue with Jayalalithaa, she would “affectionately” refer them to Sasikala and “gave so much of importance to her”.Sasikala “cared for and protected” Jayalalithaa, he said, adding, she had been a “shadow” and “conscience” of the late leader. Meanwhile, scores of senior party functionaries thronged the Poes Garden residence of Jayalalithaa and urged Sasikala to take over the reins of AIADMK and lead the party.Senior leaders, including Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai, had earlier voiced their support for Sasikala’s elevation.

DMK, AIADMK in catch 22 over leadership issue

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Both the AIADMK and the DMK are in a piquant situation — have to amend the party constitution to elevate Sasikala and Karunanidhi’s son Stalin respectively for them to play a larger and key role. Senior AIADMK leaders including Chief Minister o Panneerselvam and his cabinet colleagues (most of whom double up as secretaries of the party’s district units) have urged Jayalalithaa’s aide V K Sasikala to take over the post of general secretary hitherto held by Jayalalithaa.In the last three days, they have met Sasikala often to press their demand so as to keep the party together. Panneerselvam has even given a statement asking her to lead the party as it required ‘military Discipline” and she knew the nuances of political moves to counter the opposition.A problem which the party has to surmount is the Constitution — Section 30 (5) of the AIADMK Rules and Regulations stipulates : Those who want to contest for the post of office beaers of the organisation should have been member of the party for five years without any break’. In December 2011, Sasikala and her close relatives as also her husband M Natarajan, were expelled from the AIADMK by Jayalalithaa. Sasikala was also asked to leave the Poe’s Garden residence of Jayalalithaa. It was only in April 2012 that Jayalalithaa took Sasikala back into the Garden.Though the date of her re-admission into the party is not known, it is possible that this too must have been in April 2012. Since it is only a little over four years since the re-entry of Sasikala, technically she cannot be considered for any post. Therefore, when the party general Council meets in April as is likely, it would have to amend the Constitution to reduce this period from five to four years or the Executive Committee can pass a resolution, making out a special case for Sasikala and get it ratified by the General Council later. Similarly, an amendment would be required to create a new post for Sasikala in case she opts for a post like Joint General Secretary or Additional General Secretary.Sasikala has so far not given any indication to the party leaders about her response to their request. Perhaps, all the district units and general Council members may be asked to sign a memorandum containing their request to Sasikala — for her to be sure of near–unanimous support, and to ensure it is a smooth affair. Meanwhile, the main opposition DMK is also grappling with legal and technical issues to elevate Stalin. While Stalin’s supporters have been urging his father to make him party President so as to inject some energy into the party, Karunanidhi seems to be reluctant to part with his own post . Karunanidhi realises that the moment he gives up the post of president, he would get sidelined. At the same time, he needs to give more importance to Stalin in order to get work done and to build the party.Those close to Karunanidhi have suggested that the post of a Working President be created for Stalin, which would ensure that Karunanidhi remains the President, even while meeting Stalin supporters half-way.The DMK has convened a meeting of its General Council on December 20. Although the agenda is not known, the elevation of Stalin is on the cards. The party needs the General Council to adopt a resolution and amend the Constitution to pave the way for Stalin. The AIADMK and the DMK are running on a parallel track these last few months. The leaders of both parties were hospitalized one after the other. Both parties are also facing the need to find new leadership. While AIADMK lost its leader, Karunanidhi needs rest.

Demonetization leaves a trust deficit, consensus eludes GST

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the trust between the government and the Opposition parties at a low ebb, thanks to feud over demonetization, the crucial Goods and Services Tax (GST) seems to be headed for a delay, that could well see it missing the April 1, 2017 deadline.This was apparent from the lack of consensus at the GST Council meeting—represented by ministers and officials of Union and state finance departments—on Sunday, and the decision to call off Monday’s sitting.The Council was looking to pass four proposed laws—Central GST (CGST, state GST (SGST), integrated GST (IGST) and Compensation Act—in the ongoing winter session that ends on December 16.With Finance Minister Arun Jailtey informing that the discussions on the legislations were initiated but would require more time and that the next meeting would be held on December 22 and 23, these Bills can now be presented only in the Budget session.“The discussion is moving quite satisfactorily. Hopefully, in the next meeting we will be able to clear them. Next sitting was tomorrow, but some of the states’ representatives wanted to return in view of the Eid,” said Jaitley.On whether postponement and failure to finalise the draft Bills would result in the government missing the April 1 deadline, Jaitley said: “The Budget session starts in January. Our target is April 1. If April 1 is the first possible date when it can be implemented then the last day is also constitutionally defined as September 16, 2017. We don’t have the luxury of time because after five months and 16 days, curtains will be down on the old taxation powers”.Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac said it was demonetization which had “eroded the mutual trust and the cordial environment”.“I come from Kerala, where the Centre’s demonetization is destroying its entire cooperative structure. Co-op sector accounts for more than one-third of bank deposits in Kerala and you (Centre) expects me to come and have a handshake on GST. So well, it’s their (Centre’s) own making,” said Isaac.MS Mani, senior director, Deloitte India, believes April 1 date for implementation of the proposed unified indirect tax was not completely ruled out by the outcome of Sunday’s meeting but it did point to a likelihood of its delay.He said that in all the discussion on date, the Council seems to have forgotten classification of goods and services under different rate brackets, which have been finalised. “Trade and industry are eagerly waiting not only for the date of introduction of GST but also for the rate application to the products and services manufactured by them,” he said. The Deloitte tax expert said it was sad to see an important economic and tax reform being swept by the political storm caused by demonetization.“Political reasons are determining the fate of GST, which is not the correct thing, because ideally GST is an economic and tax reform, and economic and tax reforms should not be dictated by political compulsions,” he lamented.

Pharma industry gets ultimatum to employee qualified personnel

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>To bring the Indian pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry at par with international standards, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare will seek only qualified candidates in the workforce. Those already working in the area will receive special training.“With effect from January 1, 2018, no person shall be employed in any pharmaceuticals/bio pharmaceutical manufacturing units unless he has obtained a formal diploma or degree in the relevant area, or has been certified by the Life Sciences Sector Skill Development Council or equivalent organisation in the area in which he has been deployed,” said Dr GN Singh, Drug Controller General of India.The Central Drugs Standards Control Organisation (CDSCO) under the Union Health Ministry has written to all the pharmaceutical manufacturing units in the country to take steps for ensuring that persons employed by them are duly trained and certified.“In India, it is a practice to hire employees that are undergraduates (10th and 12th pass), or graduate in general streams (BA, BCom) for different levels in pharmaceutical, life sciences and biotechnology industry. Companies prefer such candidates for various operational and economical reasons. Lack of qualified personnel affects the quality of products from these industries. We want to end this practice,” said Dr Singh.“To improve the quality of pharmaceutical products, it is important that all personnel employed in pharmaceutical manufacturing units undergo certification programmes developed by Life Science Skill Sector Development Council,” he added.The Council has also been tasked with upgrading the skills of persons already employed in the Life Sciences sector in the country.The Council has, after an elaborate exercise and extensive consultations with industry, evolved some modes for certification. These are Post fresh skilling and assessment of eligible youth; and Post assessment under ‘Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)’ for existing workforce in the industry.

GST in the year of demonetisation will be an overkill but it can’t wait long

Could one game-changer move end up seriously impairing another game-changer? Will the Narendra Modi government’s bold demonetisation move affect the way the goods and services tax (GST) regime plays out?

Outside of the last meeting of the GST Council on December 1 and 2, state finance ministers were reported to have discussed the effect of demonetisation on their finances with finance minister Arun Jaitley. (The issue could not be discussed at the Council meeting itself because the issue does not fall into its jurisdiction.)

The states could well be raising the issue for purely political reasons or to bargain for higher compensation (which can be addressed if the Centre so wishes), but there are concerns about the economic impact of GST implementation so soon after demonetisation.

ReutersReuters

Reuters

“GST is best brought in when the economy is thriving; you don’t create a compression and then implement it,” says R Kavita Rao of the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP), who has been closely involved in the whole process of framing the GST regime.

There are various estimates about the extent of the impact of demonetisation on demand and growth, as also about how long these effects will last, but there is general consensus that there will be an immediate adverse effect. Rao points out that small businesses especially will be most affected by the move and they are also the ones who will have to make more adjustments for the GST regime.

“By itself GST would be a disruptive development; now the disruption will be larger. Smooth adjustment will not be possible,” Rao argues. Large firms will also be affected by a drop in demand but they are, she says, more or less GST-ready; the small firms are not.

But can the government wait for the economy to settle down before moving into the final stage of GST? That seems unlikely. For one, the Modi government’s prestige is at stake – this is one of the big bang reforms it can claim credit for. Besides, the initial one or two years of GST will be a bit painful but things will look up after and Modi may want the high to come closer to the 2019 election. More importantly, there is also a constitutional timer ticking – Jaitley has pointed out that GST cannot be delayed beyond September 2017. The constitutional amendment ushering in GST says the prevailing indirect tax regime can continue for just a year after the Act was notified. Since it was notified in September, the current tax regime will have to end in September 2017.

Rao agrees this does complicate matters, but suggests a way out could be found. “If you do it now, GST will be a killer,” she warns.

Even without demonetisation, implementing GST from April 1 would have been a bit of a stretch, she believes. The supporting legislations have not been passed and businesses will need to understand the implications and prepare for the new regime. As things stand, even the GST Council has not cleared the draft of these legislations.

The last meeting of the Council got deadlocked over the sharing of administrative powers. In September, there was consensus at a Council meeting on states having jurisdiction over transactions below Rs 1.5 crore, the centre and the states having dual control over transactions above that threshold and the centre having exclusive jurisdiction over service tax. This writer had pointed out then that working out the mechanics of this may not be easy.

Some states have raised objections to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Centre over service tax. Rao feels this is a point that needs to be addressed. For states, especially small ones, some services may yield large revenues. For the Centre, however, collections from these may not amount to very much and these may slip under the GST radar.

Another problematic issue is that of dual control in the case of the integrated GST (IGST, which is levied on inter-state movement of goods). All these concerns are genuine ones for which solutions need to be found, Rao says. “The aim should be to ensure that, as far as possible, the tax payer has to deal with only one administration.”

Jaitley has said he has his fingers crossed about progress being made in the next meeting of the GST Council on December 11 and 12. Everyone will be on edge till then.

First Published On : Dec 5, 2016 16:38 IST

Rajya Sabha MP holds march in support of demonetization in Pune

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hundreds of people on Sunday took part in a march in Pune, which was carried out in the support of the Centre’s demonetization move.The march, organised in the morning by Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Kakade, started from Deccan Gymkhana area and concluded at the Council Hall. “The decision of demonetization will have positive effects on the Indian economy in future and Rs 9 lakh crore have been deposited in banks post the demonetization move by Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” Kakade, also a well-known developer, said.”To support PM Modi’s fight against black money and corruption, the march was organised here, which saw hundreds of persons in attendance,” he said. Modi on November 8 had announced his government’s decision to demonetize the Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes.

If GST not rolled out by Sept, there won’t be taxation in country, warns Jaitley

New Delhi – Citing constitutional compulsion, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today sought to drive home the point that the Goods and Services Tax has to roll out before September 16 next year as the existing indirect taxes will come to an end by then and it would not be possible to run the country without revenue collection.

He made a pitch for widening the tax base, saying efforts are on to make taxation process far simpler and make rates more reasonable.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Reuters file photoFinance Minister Arun Jaitley. Reuters file photo

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Reuters file photo

For instance, he said, the GST Council is deliberating on ways to reduce the taxation process, including assessment by tax officials.

“Today, each person gets assessed thrice, in each of the three taxations (including VAT and central excise). Now, you will only be assessed once and what one authority assesses, others will have to accept that assessment,” he said.

Terming GST as a game changer, Jaitley said: “The Constitution does not permit delay in GST implementation. The government notified GST on 16 September and the constitutional amendment itself says the current indirect tax system can continue for one year, after which the GST has to come.”

So, if as on 16 September 2017, there is no GST, then there is no taxation in the country, he reasoned.

“So, you have a constitutional compulsion to have a Goods and Services Tax in place before September 16 (2017), otherwise the country doesn’t run, and the tax is absolutely essential. Therefore, our intention is it gets implemented from April 1, 2017, that was the original intention,” he said.

Jaitley made the point that states should not oppose every reform for the sake of opposition because that makes investors wary.

“The states must welcome the decision and I can only tell you, if some states are seen as opposing every reform, then investors in the country and the ones coming from outside, must decide which are the states they want to invest in,” he cautioned.

“So, if your state is seen on the wrong side of the reform, then investors are going to be very wary of those states.

First Published On : Dec 3, 2016 10:26 IST

Will be in touch with India on Masood Azhar ban issue: China

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>China on Friday said it will remain in touch with India and “relevant parties” on Beijing blocking India’s bid for a UN ban on Pakistan-based JeM chief Masood Azhar, as it mulled further options after its technical hold on the ban expires this month.”On the issue of listing in the UNSC 1267 Committee, I have already explained China’s position many times,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said. “China will continue to keep in touch with relevant parties including India on this issue,” he said in a written response to Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar’s comments that India has urged China to reverse its technical hold on New Delhi’s request.Akbar said in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday that India’s request on Azhar’s ban is co-sponsored by several prominent countries. Akbar said China has often repeated its concern on the spread of terrorism and its desire to cooperate with India on the issue.Geng’s response to Akbar’s comments came as the second technical hold put by China in October following the Uri terrorist attack which was also blamed on the JeM, is due to expire later this month. On March 31, China, a veto-wielding permanent member of the UN Security Council, had blocked India’s move to impose a ban on Jaish-e-Mohammed leader and Pathankot terror attack mastermind Azhar under the Sanctions Committee of the Council. China was the only member in the 15-nation UN body to put a hold on India’s application with all other 14 members of the Council supporting New Delhi’s bid to place Azhar on the 1267 sanctions list that would subject him to an assets freeze and travel ban.The two foreign ministries have been holding talks on this issue which was also discussed during the recent two meetings between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping. The two leaders met at the G20 meeting in Hangzhou and BRICS summit in Goa.

Maharashtra municipal council polls LIVE: PM Modi congratulates Fadnavis, BJP workers

Nov 28, 2016

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Counting of votes began on Monday morning in the election to 147 municipal councils and 17 nagar panchayats across 25 districts in Maharashtra, seen as a litmus test for the Devendra Fadnavis’ government.

As many as 15,826 candidates are in the fray for 3,705 seats spread over the municipal councils and nagar panchayats, where voting was held yesterday in the first phase with around 70 per cent of the electorate exercising its franchise.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. File photo. PTI

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. File photo. PTI

No nominations were received for Shirala Nagar Panchayat in Sangli district while 28 candidates were elected unopposed.

Counting of votes began at 10 am.

Polling was also held for municipal council presidents post in 147 places for which 1,013 candidates are in the race.

The polls are being viewed as ‘mini’ Assembly election sand a test of popularity of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis who led the BJP campaign to make inroads in the rural areas where Congress and NCP hold sway.

This is for the first time that presidents of municipal councils will be elected directly by people. The second phase for elections to 14 municipal councils will be held on 14 December.

Demonetisation, farm distress, improvement in rural infrastructure and caste tensions due to morcha by various communities in the run up to the polls were the main issues apart from local matters.

While ruling alliance partners, BJP and Shiv Sena, had tied up for the polls, the opposition Congress and NCP didn’t formally announce any alliance.

While BJP projected development as its main plank, during the campaign Fadnavis hailed the demonetisation move as a major attack on black money. The Congress highlighted the hardships being faced by the poor and common man due to demonetisation among other issues.

In total, including Sunday’s phase, elections are being held for 212 civic bodies, comprising municipal councils and nagar panchayats, in four phases. The next rounds of voting are scheduled on 14 December, 18 December and 8 January.

First Published On : Nov 28, 2016 20:08 IST

NEC cries for funds as new project launch gets affected

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The North Eastern Council is facing acute shortage of funds, hampering implementation of several of its dream projects like setting up of educational institutes, skill development centres and sports academies.”We have so many dream projects to implement, but there is no money. Whatever little money we receive, it has over 99% utilisation. So, we need more money,” North Eastern Council (NEC) Secretary Ram Muivah said.Fund allocation to NEC substantially decreased after 9th Five Year Plan from 5.12% of the total outlays for the North East to 0.03% in the current fiscal, he added. “When NEC was established in 1972, the first year’s fund allocation was Rs 500 crore, which was a big amount then. However, it has increased to just Rs 950 crore in 2016-17.Out of that, Rs 150 crore directly goes to North-East Road Sector Development Scheme (NERSDS),” Muivah said.Besides, every year NEC gives Rs 3 crore to Border Roads Organisation, Rs 47 crore to Alliance Air as Viability Gap Funding for operating flights in loss making routes and Rs 100 crore to North Eastern Region Community Resource Management Project for sustainable livelihood programme, he added. “So practically, we are left with only Rs 600 crore in this fiscal. Out of this amount, around 70% goes to ongoing projects or to clear liabilities, which currently stands at Rs 2,100 crore,” he said.That means, only 30% of Rs 600 crore is left for new projects and this amount needs to be divided between eight states,” Muivah added. NEC has nine different sectors under it to work upon, but has not been able to take up any important new project only due to lack of funds, he added. Muivah informed that the North East-specific organisation wants to set up a number of educational centres as per global standards, including an international institute of mass communication and a school of architecture and planning, along with an institute of music, art and theatre.”Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland do not have any medical college. These states have only around 350 doctors each. We want to develop medical colleges there. We also want to develop an iconic skill development centre in North East,” he added. The Secretary said NEC has plans to start a football academy in Nagaland, besides setting up a road research institute in North East as roads in almost all states are washed away every year.He said there are plans to upgrade small airports of the region with Airports Authority of India, implement a mega tourism project and set up convention centres.”However, we are not able to start anything significant. Against such low budgetary allocations, the actual allocations were further reduced.” The actual allocations for the 12th Five Year Plan was only Rs 3,622 crore, which is just 59% of the approved outlay of Rs 6,108 crore, Muivah said..On the other hand, the demand of the constituent states of NEC is on an average Rs 4,800 crore annually. Muivah expressed apprehension that NEC will fall short of serving any meaningful purpose unless “this negative approach is changed”. “We reiterated fund concerns at the 65th NEC Plenary Session this year attended by the Prime Minister.There is a large gap between the resources made available and aspirations of the states.Without a quantum jump in allocation, it will be difficult for NEC to provide funds for core areas and large projects with inter-state or regional character,” Muivah said.

Harry Potter, Tintin, Asterix and The Hobbit: ICSE syllabus just became a lot more fun

The Council of School Certificate Examination (CISCE) has decided to include popular books like JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series for junior and middle school students as part of their English Literature syllabus starting from the academic year 2017-18, according to a Times Of India report. No more will students have to hide their comic books under the desk during lectures, or snoop around to get their dose of popular literature in school.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

What’s more, graphic novels like Amar Chitra Katha, Tintin, Asterix comics and Art Spiegelman’s ‘Maus‘ will be a part of the syllabus from class 3 to class 8, says a report by The Economic Times. Satyajit Ray’s Feluda, Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes will also feature in the new syllabus, along with JRR Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’, PG Wodehouse and Charles Dickens’ classics.  A string of autobiographies of Anne Frank, Malala Yusufazai, APJ Abdul Kalam are also some new additions, with Enid Blyton’s Noddy series, for the lower classes.

“This is a good idea. Having these books as a part of the syllabus would ensure that children will be able to connect with what is being taught, a lot more than they did with ‘serious’ Shakespeare. I think that children are reading less than before today because they don’t find immediate value in what they read in school anymore and this move will help them cultivate a reading habit, which is what ultimately matters,” says Sujatha Nair, an English teacher at Pawar Public School in Mumbai.

A student of the same school, Gayatri Nair, says: ” I like this idea since I like fantasy and magic. Not that there’s anything wrong with Tagore and Shakespeare, but I think this is more appropriate for our age. I think that this ensures that there’s an actual scope for improvement. I would have liked John Green to be added too, though.”

An earlier Times Of India report showed that the very first survey of learning achievement of class 10 students conducted by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) indicated that majority of the states and Union territories are performing below the overall average score, with only 41 percent students able to correctly answer in English.

“It comes as a happy change that the Board is looking at modernisation of the international curriculum and making it child-centered. It will help us teachers, who may otherwise have never read this kind of literature, to understand the viewpoint of the child better. When we were children we read about Tom Sawyer and identified with him because we were in a similar situation, and in the same way, this step is bound to help current students identify with the subject today. Yes, they might lose out on traditional literature but the focus of the subject of English in schools is not literature appreciation, but rapid reading. One can always pick up traditional literature later on,” says another teacher of an ICSE school, Sunandita Dey.

CISCE chief executive and secretary, Gerry Arathoon, was quoted by the newspaper as saying: “Earlier, we were preparing curriculum for class IX till XII. But now with having our own syllabus right from pre-school will ultimately help students to prepare for ICSE examinations in a better way. Now, students will be capable of working towards the board examinations much before.”

Another ICSE board student, Jaden Rodrigues welcomed the change: “Shakespeare is boring and confusing but Rowling is interesting. I love the Harry Potter series because it’s got adventure and journey. It won’t be studying anymore. This will help encourage children who do not read to pick up books. Next, they should add Percy Jackson.”

This change signals one of many in what is and will be thought of as literature, ‘relevancy’ to be the key word in our mind. Just as Bob Dylan’s Nobel win brought back the relevancy of the position of the poet laureate, this could help bring back the significance of a subject competing with the likes of Math, Physics and Chemistry, in an essential way, the way it should be — for the love of it.

First Published On : Nov 24, 2016 20:06 IST

Setback for NCP in Maharashtra local bodies polls

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a setback to the opposition NCP in Maharashtra, the party could win only one of the four seats it held during the biennial elections held for six local bodies constituencies in the state Legislative Council. The voting was held on Saturday and the counting of votes took place on Tuesday.The NCP retained only Pune local bodies seat while Congress retained Nanded and wrested Sangli-Satara local bodies constituency from NCP. The BJP retained the Jalgaon local bodies seat. The Sharad Pawar-led party lost Bhandara-Gondia to BJP and Yavatmal to Shiv Sena.The loss in Sangli-Satara is a huge blow to NCP as it had earlier refused to yield to Congress’s demand for 3:3 formula of seat-sharing for the six seats. The NCP leadership had earlier lambasted former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan for sticking to the demand that his party get Sangli-Satara constituency in the seat-sharing. State NCP chief Sunil Tatkare had earlier alleged the alliance fell through because of Chavan’s adamant attitude. He had also questioned how Congress could demand the seat when NCP had more numbers. The NCP backed an independent in Nanded, the stronghold of state Congress president Ashok Chavan.
ALSO READ Ashok Chavan blames NCP for BJP-Sena gain in Council bypollsAs per the figures given by state electoral office, Amar Rajurkar (Congress) polled 251 as against 208 votes received by independent Shyamsunder Shinde. Congress’s Mohan Kadam bagged 309 votes as against 246 by Shekhar Gore(NCP) in Sangli-Satara.In Yavatmal, Tanaji Sawant of Shiv Sena defeated Congress’s Shankar Bade. Sawant polled 348 votes as against 78 of Bade. Notably, the NCP had backed Sawant. In Pune, Anil Bhosale of NCP bagged 440 votes as against 133 of Ashok Yenpure (BJP). Congress candidate Sanjay Jagtap finished a poor third with 71 votes.In Jalgaon, Chandulal Patel (BJP) polled 421 votes. Independent Vijay Patil polled 90 votes while remaining six independents drew a blank.In Bhandara-Gondia, Parinay Phuke of BJP trounced NCP’s Rajendra Jain, who polled 137 votes and Praful Agrawal of Congress who got 112 votes. In the 78-member Upper House, Congress now has 20 members, the NCP tally has been reduced to 23, while BJP has 18, and Shiv Sena has nine members. However, NCP continues to be the single largest party in the House.The biennial polls to five seats from teachers and graduates constituencies are also scheduled for which dates will be announced soon, an election official said.The elections to Nashik graduates constituency held by Congress, Aurangabad teachers held by NCP, Amravati graduates held by BJP and Konkan teachers and Nagpur teachers constituencies held by independents will be held soon as their term also ends on December 5.

India joins CERN as associate member

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Geneva-headquartered European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) has inked an agreement with India that confirms the latter as the latest associate member state of the organisation. CERN operates the largest particle physics laboratory in the world.An official release of the organisation said that India’s inclusion as an associate member state follows CERN Council’s adoption of the resolution to this effect on September 15, 2016. For India, Sekhar Basu, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy signed the agreement, while Fabio Gianotti, Director General, signed it on behalf of CERN. The signing of the agreement took place in Mumbai on Monday.CERN is the world’s largest nuclear and particle physics laboratory, where scientists and engineers are probing the fundamental structure of the universe by using the most sophisticated scientific instruments and advanced computing systems.India has made significant contributions to the construction of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), in the areas of design, development and supply of hardware accelerator components/systems and its commissioning and software development and deployment in the machine, the CERN said in a statement.The CERN has 22 member states, four associate member states, four states and three international organisations with observer status.

Demonetisation aftermath: Women, children in Manipur hard hit due to currency ban

By Maya Palit

The past 10 days have been fraught with harrowing stories about people across the country struggling with the aftermath of demonetisation. A recent essay by the former Chairman of the National Statistical Commission Pronab Sen even speculated that the overnight action might well have destroyed the informal sector permanently while also having a hugely adverse impact on chit funds and other non-banking lending institutions. It is now a familiar story. But add to this the chaos of an economic blockade and you have the nightmare that Manipuri citizens are living through at the moment.

A file image of people standing at an ATM queue. Reuters

A file image of people standing at an ATM queue. Reuters

The United Naga Council (UNC) had organised a 48-hour strike – a “total shutdown in Naga territories in Manipur” – from 30 October midnight to protest the Manipur government’s proposition to create two new districts, Sadar Hills and Jiribam, in regions that include Naga ancestral land. This is a decision that apparently goes against the four MOUs, signed between 1981 and 1998, which were agreed upon by the Naga organisations and the Manipur government. An article in the Morung Express argues that the Manipur government’s inconsistent stance as regards the Naga and Kuki communities might be largely responsible for the extremity of the current situation.

The 48-hour strike immediately transitioned into an indefinite economic blockade imposed on Manipur’s two national highways on 1 November. Two weeks later, there are no signs of it being lifted and citizens are understandably despondent. The horror of the situation can be gauged by Imphal resident Raees Ahmed being quoted in The Citizen today: “We are going to die like this,” he laments, having forked out Rs 700 for two litres of petrol for his vehicle. Reports from last week said there was no more diesel, kerosene or LPG cylinders available in Manipur.

Frustratingly, some 150 oil tankers are stranded in Assam and 1,800 trucks with food supplies being unable to pass beyond the Manipur border, although fuel tankers carrying fuel and consumer items, including food stuff, were escorted into the State by police commandos on 16 November.

Unsurprisingly, the black market has gone into overdrive. Though several petrol pumps remained closed early into the blockade, petrol was already going for Rs 250 a litre in Imphal and higher than that in surrounding districts. The blockade has hit schoolchildren. Exams are round the corner and school vans have suspended services because of unavailability of fuel, and two major newspapers decided on 17 November to halt publication of the 20 dailies Imphal brings out because they have run out of money.

Mary Beth Sanate, a human rights activist based in Churachandpur, a district in southwestern Manipur, says that the high cost of petrol and diesel has created immense problems for women vendors. Autorickshaws have doubled their fares. The prices of onions, potatoes, garlic and fruits that come from outside the state have spiralled, so even if the women were able to avail themselves of transport and sell their produce, they would find themselves with an unviable profit margin.

Sanate adds that the already grim situation has been exacerbated by demonetisation. “A significant number of women in the districts make a living by selling eatables imported from Burma or cooked meals door-to-door. Some women sell the clothes they weave. For half a month now, they either haven’t got their stocks or haven’t been able to make it to the state capital. Their incomes have stopped. Demonetisation is making things worse each day, and it’s been the hardest on single mothers. School examinations are approaching and all tuition fees are due this month. One of my neighbours, a widow, waited at the bank for three days and couldn’t withdraw money for her child’s fees,” she says.

Playwright and theatre director Swar Thounajam agrees that the worst affected groups are women vendors. She points out that those from outside Imphal usually travel to the city early morning when trading begins around 4.30 am. They catch the line buses to reach the Khwairamband bazar,the iconic women’s only market in Imphal. Naturally, with the national highway being blocked, this system has been completely disrupted.

Post-demonetisation, women who run kiosks and shops don’t have to return to customers and hence are forced to shut their establishments. Instead of selling their ware to keep home fires burning, they now find themselves standing in queues before banks as early as 4 am for precious cash, says Thounajam

“Women, who were part of a marup (an informal lending system popular in the Meitei community where 15 to 30 women come together, borrow money and pay back Rs 5,000 or Rs 10,000 a month), are in even worse trouble, with no legal tender available,” she adds.

And then there are women rendered effectively unemployed by demonetisation – those who sell cinema tickets in black in Imphal, for instance. Desperate with their precious income cut off overnight, they are apparently taking up work as stand-ins in the ubiquitous, snaking cash queues at banks in return for a small commission.

Meanwhile, citizens in Manipur, furious with the United Naga Council, have initiated a counter-blockade. Last week, a large number of women were allegedly amongst the protestors intercepting cars on the Imphal-Ukhrul road and other parts of the state, gunning for the UNC, which they accuse of destabilising life in the state. A woman, who lives in a part of Ukhrul with a high Naga population, says it was in full force in her area: “The counter-blockade by the valley people is even worse than the economic blockade. They are attacking Naga people, seizing their bags and their belongings.”

Needless to say, this ruthless backlash against the Naga peoples and the sudden demonetisation could well be the last straw for Manipur’s citizens, already burdened by the cessation of transport, loss of daily wages, price increase of vegetables and essential commodities, and the scarcity of stocks for reselling.

Now that the Centre’s attempts at intervention in the UNC-Manipur government conflict have not headed anywhere, there seems to be no end to their misery.

The Ladies Finger (TLF) is a leading online women’s magazine delivering fresh and witty perspectives on politics, culture, health, sex, work and everything in between.

First Published On : Nov 19, 2016 13:45 IST

Bhutan’s upper house blocks BBIN MVA pact: Is it a strategic setback for India?

In a major setback to India’s regional cooperation strategy, Bhutan’s Upper House has rejected a move to have the country join the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal Motor Vehicles Agreement (BBIN MVA), citing environmental concerns.

The four South Asian nations signed the BBIN agreement in June last year in Thimphu, Bhutan, in what was seen as a significant symbol of sub-regional unity. The agreement allowed for the regulation of passenger, personal and cargo vehicular traffic among the four countries.

However, there have been reservations among some sections within Bhutan about the viability of this agreement given that it was a small country.

After the National Assembly or the lower house of the Bhutanese parliament endorsed the agreement earlier this year, it forwarded it to the National Council for consideration. But, on Tuesday, the National Council voted against Bhutan joining the agreement.

According to Sonam Kinga, Chairman of the National Council, there were two votes for joining the agreement, 13 against, while five members abstained from voting.

The sub-regional pact was being seen as an important milestone in Prime Minister Modi’s much touted diplomatic agenda to ‘Look East’ and forge a regional cooperation boosting trade ties in the region. It was India, under the Prime Minister Modi. that introduced and pitched for the pact in the 2014 Saarc Summit in Kathmandu, urging the South Asian neighbours to fortify regional economic ties.

“”Our relations become stronger when we connect the lives of the ordinary citizens of our countries. That is why connectivity and services by rail and road are so important. We should also connect ourselves more by air,” Modi had said at the summit according to The Times of India.

But with Bhutan’s refusal to ratify the agreement, Modi’s dream to establish a seamless cargo and vehicular passageway in the region has hit a roadblock.

What is the BBIN MVA pact?

Route map of a BBIN friendship motor rally that was planned to highlight scope of cooperation under BBIN initiative. Twitter/ @silcharNOWRoute map of a BBIN friendship motor rally that was planned to highlight scope of cooperation under BBIN initiative. Twitter/ @silcharNOW

Route map of a BBIN friendship motor rally that was planned to highlight scope of cooperation under BBIN initiative. Twitter/ @silcharNOW

To boost trade relations, India had proposed a regional cooperation pact in the 2014 Saarc Summit, which entailed building a freight corridor connecting the south Asian nations with each other.

The MVA was proposed to reduce transport costs drastically and and foster development of multi-modal transport facilities for a better connectivity between the four countries. It allowed the member states to ply their vehicles in each other’s territory for transportation of cargo and passengers , including third country transport and passenger vehicles or personal vehicles.

All vehicles would however be required to obtain permits to enter another nation’s territory and bilateral border security arrangements will also remain in place.

A very optimistic deadline of October 2015 was slated for the implementation of the agreement after a six-month work plan was worked out in accordance with the protocols, according to Business Standard

However, the pact can only become operational when all nations ratify it.

India, Nepal and Bangladesh have already ratified the pact but Bhutan’s refusal is likely to delay the implementation of the key trade cooperation agreement further.

Although, India already holds bilateral motor vehicular pacts with Bangladesh and Nepal, a multilateral agreement could have bolstered regional cooperation manifolds.

The view from Bhutan

India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan had inked the agreement in June 2015 in Thimphu, the capital of the land-locked Himalayan nation. Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari had visited Thimphu to ink the deal sealing India’s commitment to the agreement, according to The Economic Times.

In Bhutan, those in favour of the agreement argued that the protocols for the terms and conditions of agreement were yet to be formulated and the country could negotiate to tilt the scales in its favour.

However, reservations from certain sections of Bhutan had been evident ever since the start of the ratification process. Senior government officials in the Union road transport and highways ministry had revealed that a “large cross-section of people in Bhutan, including lawmakers, had expressed concerns over the environmental impact of allowing large number of vehicles enter the country after it ratifies the pact,” according to a report in Hindustan Times.

Tourism is Bhutan's key revenue generating industry for its pristine natural habitat. Reuters

Tourism is Bhutan’s key revenue generating industry for its pristine natural habitat. Reuters

Another report in The Wire said, that although Bhutan’s lower house, called the National Assembly, passed the bill, it could only do so on the second attempt, indicating the Bhutanese discomfort with forging a multilateral pact with nations that have better infrastructural assets at their disposal.

Reports in local media too pointed out that Bhutan is a much smaller nation and a huge amount of traffic from its larger neighbours would strain the countries limited infrastructure and impact the environment.

An article from Bhutan News Network  states, “Environment protection is one of the four pillars of Bhutan’s gross national happiness, with sustainable development, promotion of cultural values and good governance being the others,” adding that the Opposition parties have been raising concern over the environmental impact of the increased vehicular traffic.

However, Bhutan’s reservation on damaging its environment is not unfounded. Tourism is Bhutan’s single largest revenue generating industry, and the small Himalayan nation has carefully guarded its pristine natural habitat. It has even worked out a “low-volume, high-value” tourism strategy and maintained its status of an elite tourist destination. It touts itself to be the “untouched Himalayan Paradise” charging tourists $250 a day as a minimum fee (a charge not applicable to Indian and Bangladeshi nationals) to witness the natural wealth abound, according to The Wire.

However, threat to environment is not the only loophole in Bhutan’s eyes. The land-locked nation finds itself gaining little from the agreement amid a long list of demerits.

Another article in Business Bhutanstates that there is more to the agreement than meets the eye. The article states that Bhutanese truckers have raised concerns that large number of foriegn transporters plying into Bhutan could eat into the local businesses. The article also states that the local transporters are also “unsure of the ramifications of chartering out into unexplored neighboring territories.”

Another article, in Kuensel Online, reported that the Bhutanese upper house, the National Council, was of the view that the merits of the agreement outweighed by the repercussions the tiny Himalayan nation would have to face. Some law makers were of the view that unrestrained influx of vehicles and people could dilute Bhutan’s culture and religion and possibly give rise to the crime rate in the region.  The committee also found that the pact was in conflict with Bhutan’s immigration act. Member’s of the committee also observed that Bhutan severely lacks the basic infrastructure of roads, bridges, checkpoints etc to implement the agreement.

Another major objection the committe took was to the principle of reciprocity in the agreement. “The committee could not be convinced that Bhutan would be able to ask other members to stop their vehicles at the border or take in fewer vehicles than what it would be allowed to send in their territory due to the principle of reciprocity spelt in the agreement,” the article quoted the National Council’s objection.

Another prominent lawmaker in the upper house, Dasho Tashi Wangyal flagged anothe concern, stating that the agreement could impact India-Bhutan relations negatively. He said that India faces multiple security threats and is battling infiltration from its neighbous. A free flow of people could give militants an opportunity to sneak into Bhutan, or use its territory to infiltrate into India, which may compromise the healthy relationship Thimpu enjoys with New Delhi.

A setback to India’s strategic interests?

India is keenly invested into the successful implementation of the BBIN MVA agrrement. What was originally mooted as a pan-south Asian initiative, was later downsized to a sub-regional cooperation pact after Pakistan’s last minute intransigence, which also snuffed out landlocked Afghanistan’s chances to be a part of the deal.

This was being seen as another diplomatic victory for India to isolate Pakistan and undertake a sub-regional cooperation without it’s rival neighbour. It was also contrived to be another jewel in Modi’s much touted neighbourhood-first policy, making it especially important to the ruling BJP.

With the MVA stuck in another bottleneck, it will be another blow to the Modi government’s agenda.

Add to this the fact that India traditionally enjoys close ties and considerable influence in the neighbouring nation. After Pakistan, Bhutan’s refusal to be a part of India’s ambitious scheme would only add insult to injury.

However, India has stayed wary of pushing Bhutan too hard on the issue as it is aware of the diplomatic repercussions of it. Bhutan lies in between India’s largest border dispute — that with China. Beijing has time and again expressed its willingness to establish and improve diplomatic ties with Bhutan. But Thimphu has not pursued ties with China, at least with any visible zeal,  to avoid creating any misunderstanding in its close ties with India.

However, this time around, Bhutan seems to be resolved to assert itself wherever it feels its interests are sacrificed.

With inputs from agencies

First Published On : Nov 18, 2016 18:03 IST

UN should do more to send right message to terror groups: India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Asserting that the UN should do more to send the right message to terror groups, India has said that the inconsistent implementation of sanctions on some of the terrorist outfits eats away at the UN’s authority.”The United Nations must do more to send the right message. Inconsistent implementation of sanctions on some of these terrorist outfits eats away at the UN’s authority and needs to be addressed,” Indian Ambassador to the UN Syed Akbaruddin said in his address to the UN General Assembly. “The leader of the Taliban – a proscribed entity – needs to be designated as a terrorist individual. The international community is impatient for action,” the Indian diplomat said.Earlier this week, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani himself asked a delegation of the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee to include the new Taliban leader Mullah Haibatullah (Akhundzada) and such others, in the list of terrorists. “Unless the Security Council and its subordinate organs are part of a cohesive response to global terrorism they run the risk of becoming marginalised from the most fundamental security priorities of Member States whose fabric is being torn as under by terrorists,” Akbaruddin warned.Addressing the UN General Assembly as it adopted an unanimous resolution on Afghanistan, he said the security challenges faced by the Afghan people and Government have not receded. “We note that Afghanistan, along with the Resolute Support Force, continues to make efforts to combat terrorism,” he said. “However, the shadowy supporters of some of these terrorist organisations like the Taliban, Haqqani Network, ISIS, AI-Qaeda and its designated affiliates such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammed have not been deterred, as is reflected in the upwards trend in the toll of causalities,” the diplomat said.The resolution unanimously adopted by the UN General Assembly pledged its continued support, in particular as the Afghan Government rebuilt a stable, secure and economically self-sufficient State free from terrorism and narcotics while strengthening the foundations of its constitutional democracy. At the same time, it heard expressions of alarm over recent spikes in civilian casualties and the influence of violent extremists.In her address, Pakistan Ambassador to the UN Maleeha Lodhi said the presence of large numbers of terrorists, foreign fighters and militant groups in the vast ungoverned areas of Afghanistan presents an imposing challenge to the` long-term stability of the war-torn country. “They pose a threat not only to Afghanistan but also to Pakistan and indeed the entire region. Afghanistan could once again become a source of global terrorism, with grave implications for the region and the world,” Lodhi said. “A dialogue between the Afghan Government and the Afghan Taliban remains the only way to end Afghanistan’s long night of suffering,” she added.

Manohar Parrikar has not changed our nuclear policy, he only stirred a storm in a teacup

Has India changed its nuclear doctrine? If one goes by the reactions of some political parties and a section of the press, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has jeoparadised India’s chances of joining the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and the prospects of nuclear commerce with leading nuclear countries of the world. Because, while answering a question in a book-release function on 10 November, he counter-questioned why the country’s policy of “No First Use” of its nuclear weapons should not change.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTIDefence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

The problem with these reactions is the fact that they are based on a half-truth. The other half of the truth is that in the same answer, Parrikar made it absolutely clear what he was saying was his personal opinion and that it was not the viewpoint of the government of India. He reiterated that India’s nuclear policy remained unchanged under the Modi-government. Well, one could argue that being the defence minister, he should have avoided his private view at a public function, but to say that the rest of the world will take the minister’s private view as the government of India’s changed policy is preposterous. In fact, the pointlessness of such a logic was manifested on Friday (11 November) when Japan, arguably the world’s most sensitive country on nuclear issues, signed a formal nuclear agreement with India, an agreement that will greatly facilitate the nuclear commerce with the United States as well (since American nuclear companies have significant Japanese components that could not be transferred without Japan’s consent).

Global arrangements or regimes are based on the declared policies of the governments of the member-states, not on the individual pronouncements of the ministers and ruling party members. In fact, the in its manifesto for 2014 general elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had promised to review India’s nuclear doctrine. But has it prevented countries like Australia, Canada and now Japan entering nuclear pacts with the Modi-government?
Similarly, it is a highly faulty notion that gaining membership in the NSG is dependent on a country’s NFU policy. We are already a declared nuclear weapon power. We are building our case as a responsible nuclear power with an impeccable record of non-proliferation and a well-laid out nuclear command structure. The international community is now working towards no further nuclear tests and non-proliferation, which is as different from how to use one’s weapons as chalk from cheese.

In fact, in my considered view, the Modi government should go for a formal review of the country’s NFU policy. Let me explain why. In the strict sense of the term, India does not have a proper nuclear doctrine. I think that it is a part of our strategic culture to keep things and policies as ambiguous as possible, leaving them to many and different interpretations.

What we have actually is a “draft nuclear doctrine”, released on 17 August 1999, by the then national security advisor Brajesh Mishra. Some clarifications on this draft were “shared with the public” on 4 January 2003, through a press release by the then Cabinet Committee on Security. I do not think any major power will ever deal with such a sensitive issue in such a cavalier manner.

Be that as it may, India’s draft doctrine at the moment has the following key features:

• While committed to the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world through global, verifiable and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament, India, till the realisation of this goal, will possess nuclear weapons.

• India will build and maintain a credible minimum deterrent.

• India will not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states.

• India will not be the first to use nuclear weapons. But if it is attacked by nuclear weapons in its territory or on Indian forces anywhere, then its nuclear retaliation to a first strike will be massive and designed to inflict unacceptable damage to the aggressor.

• In the event of a major attack against India, or Indian forces anywhere, by biological or chemical weapons, India will also retain the option of retaliating with nuclear weapons.

• India will continue strict controls on the export of nuclear and missile-related materials and technologies, participation in the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty negotiations, and continued observance of the moratorium on nuclear tests.

• India’s Nuclear Command Authority comprises a Political Council and an Executive Council. The Political Council is chaired by the Prime Minister. It is the sole body which can authorise the use of nuclear weapons. The Executive Council is chaired by the National Security Advisor. It provides inputs for decision making by the Nuclear Command Authority and executes the directives given to it by the Political Council.

It may be noted here that in the clarifications that were given in 2003, there were two important changes that were made to the draft doctrine of 1999. The draft doctrine had said: “Any nuclear attack on India and its forces shall result in punitive retaliation with nuclear weapons to inflict damage unacceptable to the aggressor.” The 2003 clarifications said: “Nuclear retaliation to a first strike will be massive and designed to inflict unacceptable damage to the aggressor.” The emphasis here should be given to the addition of the word “massive”.

The second important change in the 2003 clarifications was that a new scenario was added under which India would retaliate with nuclear weapons, and that was the attack through biological or chemical weapons on India or on Indian forces anywhere.

What emerges from the above is that India’s nuclear weapons posture, after the country went officially nuclear in 1998, did undergo changes during the Vajpayee regime itself. The point is that beliefs and principles are not immutable. Nations and their leaderships change with the efflux of time. And circumstances require their national doctrines to be revisited, reviewed and recast if deemed necessary.

Our NFU policy really needs a healthy debate. The United States or for that matter other western nuclear powers such as Britain and France do not have the NFU policy. Russia, which initially had NFU pledge, has withdrawn it long ago. China, another country that professed NFU policy, is now silent on it. Its biannual defence white paper (2013) omitted for the first time a promise never to use its own nuclear weapons first. Even otherwise, China had asserted before that its NFU would not apply against countries that are in possession of the Chinese territory. That means that China’s NFU does not apply to India as it claims over our lands in Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh.

That leaves Pakistan, our other major adversary. But Pakistan too does not believe in NFU. It has developed “Nasr” ballistic missiles with a range of 60 km that is capable of carrying nuclear warheads. These have been specifically built with the intention of targeting not only Indian cities but also Indian military formations on the battlefield.

The concept of NFU has other problems as well. For one, imagine that there is a conventional war between India and Pakistan (or for that matter China), and Indian forces target at military establishments within the enemy territory. They do not know which of these establishments are nuclear or nonnuclear and in the process of their operations, they hit at an enemy target that turns out to be a nuclear one and the consequent results are strategically horrible. Will it mean that India did not observe its NFU pledge?

For another, imagine also a situation when the Indian forces engaged in conventional wars simultaneously against China and Pakistan find it difficult to carry on. And here, as the situation challenges the very integrity of the country, should one not exercise the nuclear option? After all, we have already modified our nuclear posture in the events of chemical and biological attacks. Why should then we tie our hands with the NFU when faced with multi-fronted attacks on our territories or forces?

Thirdly, a review is also due on the concept of our “massive” nuclear retaliation when attacked by nuclear weapons, particularly when Pakistan is openly preparing to use what it says tactical nuclear weapons (TNW) through “Nasr” missiles against India’s superior conventional forces. Now, suppose, one of our Army’s tank columns is attacked by Pakistan’s TNW. Should then India go for a massive retaliation to destroy the whole of Karachi or Lahore? Will not that be highly disproportionate and unethical? If so, should India not go for a proportionate retaliation with its own TNW?

And if we really go with our TNWs, then there will be a new problem. By their very nature, the TNWs and their eventual uses are better determined on the spot, that is, on the battlefield itself, by the military commanders concerned. How then will that go with our strict provision that it is only the Prime Minister who will decide when and where to use our nuclear weapons?

All these are very tricky but vital questions. But answers to them cannot wait anymore. The future Indian government cannot sit on them.

First Published On : Nov 11, 2016 21:39 IST

Peace talks with NSCN-IM progressing well, says Rajnath Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Peace talks between the Government of India and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivaha are progressing well and both are finding an amicable solution to issues. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh recently attended the 53rd Naga Student Union, Delhi’s annual gathering at Tyagaraj Sports Complex, where he ensured that the Naga people will have their rightful honour, dignity and pride of place.His presence at the occasion brought a positive feel and lifted the hopes of the Naga people, particularly the students living in Delhi. While addressing the gathering, Singh said the ongoing talks between the government and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) for restoration of peace in the region was progressing well. Singh also instilled a trust and boost the confidence levels of the Naga people. He assured that enduring peace in Naga areas is not far away.Meanwhile, Singh also acknowledged the unique culture of the Naga people and admired their bravery and strong sense of pride towards the nation. “I am a great admirer of the Naga people, their bravery, their strong sense of pride in themselves and their unique culture. The initiative to resolve the Naga issue, for once and all, to the greatest satisfaction of Naga people has made good progress in the last two years. We are confident that the enduring peace in Naga areas is not far away,” said Singh. Singh said that India cannot be happy if the Naga people are unhappy.”My dear friends, this city is yours and it is the duty of the government to help you feel ownership. The Government of India is committed to ensuring that the Naga people have their rightful honour, dignity and pride of place. And I know that India cannot be happy if our Naga brothers and sisters are unhappy. India cannot be great unless our Naga brothers and sisters share this sense of greatness,” Singh added. “We have called our honourable Union Home Minister with the specific reason that there is an on-going Indo-Naga peace talk which we feel that this event will be the right platform for him to engage with the public, individually and socially. So that, whatever is happening at the official level about the peace talk can be make more successful with more support from the public,” said Phungshok Khongreiwoshi, President, NSUD.It was for the first time that a high-profile guest had graced an event, organized by Naga Student Union Delhi, to give a warm reception to freshers.”I am very happy that the student community of Nagaland and entire northeast are going into areas which are non-traditional areas like they are going into corporate sector, hospitality sector, hotel management etc and they are doing so well. And the skills development programmes of the GoI, they are upgrading the skills and contributing to the society for development, and therefore, I strongly believe that the students must focus on to what they are going to achieve in life,” said Jyoti Kailash, Principal Resident Commissioner, Nagaland House, New Delhi.Performances from various well-known music bands and artists like Towering Faith, Red Light Passenger and many others from the Naga community, indeed, showcased the people craze for music. We are very glad to be here always, whenever we are invited for such events. Today, we are very delighted because we like to play music and this is what we do. And specially this is a gathering for Nagas and we are all from different communities, so, it means a lot to us,” said the gleaming vocalist from Red Light Passenger, Thotmung Muivah.A runway presentation by budding Designer, Khrielasier Liezietsu from Nagaland steals the cultural evening. Scintillating performances by dance troupes from different Naga communities, showcasing their rich culture, left the audiences awestruck. Such platform has indeed, create a confidence and shown the utmost sincere from every level, be it the central government, civil society, student organizations, towards the respectable solution.

Govt formulates new blacklisting policy to speed up military modernisation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Facing hindrances in military modernisation the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has done away with blanket blacklisting of companies indulging in corrupt means, a practice adopted during the UPA rule that slowed the defence acquisition process.The clearance to the new policy, keeping in mind the need to speed up modernisation projects, coincided with the Manohar Parrikar-led Defence Acquisition Council’s (DAC) go-ahead to projects worth over Rs 82,000 crore for purchase of fighter aircraft, tanks, rockets and mini drones.The Defence Ministry cleared the new blacklisting policy on Monday keeping in mind the delays in procurement of key equipment. Sources said that the new policy will be project-specific and unscrupulous firms will be banned from dealing in the particular segment where they have indulged in any dishonest act and allowed to participate in other areas. If a firm is banned, it will be for a specific number of years.The new policy includes heavy penalties in terms of fines. The new policy is expected to be put up on the MoD website in the next few days. “It will be a product specific ban rather than blanket blacklisting. Also, there will be an option for heavy penalties besides those in contract and even individuals can be banned,” said a source in the MoD.The new policy would also make way for pending projects like the heavyweight torpedos for the six Scorpene submarines.Contrary to expectation, the DAC did not take a decision on the Navy’s proposal to purchase 12 US2I amphibious aircraft from Japan, though the issue came up for discussion. Sources said there could be progress on this issue during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming visit to Tokyo on November 11-12.The DAC also gave Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) to Indian Air Force’s plan to purchase 83 Tejas Mark 1A aircraft at a cost of Rs 50,025 crore, Defence Ministry sources said. It also accorded AON for the purchase of 15 Light Combat Aircraft being manufactured by HAL for the Army and Air Force for a tentative cost of about Rs 2,911 crore. AoN was also given for the repeat order of 464 Russian origin T90 tanks which are being manufactured by the Ordnance Factory Board for Rs 13,448 crore, and for procurement of 598 mini UAVs at a cost of Rs 1,100 crore.

Lucknow: Judge asks medical college to pay Rs 25 lakh each to 150 students for wrong admissions

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court on Monday ordered the management of Dr MC Saxena Medical College in the city to pay Rs 25 lakh damage per student for “wrongly admitting” 150 of them in the MBBS 2015-16 course.It directed the management of the college to deposit the entire amount in respect of all the 150 students with the Director General of Medical Education, Uttar Pradesh within two months.The Director General, Medical Education, in turn, shall distribute the money among the students after due verification.The court though refused to grant relief as sought by the petitioner students and dismissed all the writ petitions filed by them in the matter.The petitioners had sought a direction to allow them to appear in the first year MBBS examination for 2015-16.The judgment was delivered by Justice Devendra Kumar Arora on six writ petitions moved by some students.State counsel Sanjay Bhasin said the college had no affiliation or recognition of Medical Council of India (MCI) and 150 students were wrongly admitted without proper counselling, in a process which was “neither transparent nor fair”.”This court is constrained to observe that there has been a wilful disobedience by the respondent medical college of the orders passed by the apex court, which is nothing but an interference with the administration of justice. Disobedience of an order of a court, which is wilful, shakes the very foundation of the judicial system and can erode the faith and confidence reposed by the people in the judiciary, and undermines the rule of law,” the court said.It further observed that the medical college had shown “scant respect” to the order passed by the highest court of the country and proceeded, under haste, to impart medical education to the petitioners in the first year MBBS course, possibly to make an “unlawful gain, adopting unhealthy practices”.

Make in India push: Parrikar okays defence projects worth Rs 83,000 cr, new blacklisting policy

The Defence Ministry on Monday cleared a new blacklisting policy that will do away with blanket bans on companies indulging in corrupt acts and approved projects worth over INR 82,000 crore for purchase of fighter aircraft, tanks, rockets and mini drones

Contrary to expectation, the Defence Acquisition Council, chaired by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, did not take a decision on the Navy’s proposal to purchase 12 US2I amphibious aircraft from Japan, though the issue came up for discussion.

However, it is expected that there would be some forward movement on this issue during Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s upcoming visit to Tokyo on November 11-12.

Manohar Parrikar. PTI file photoManohar Parrikar. PTI file photo

Manohar Parrikar. PTI file photo

The DAC also gave Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) to Indian Air Force’s plan to purchase 83 Tejas Mark 1A aircraft at a cost of INR 50,025 crore, Defence Ministry sources said.

It also accorded AON for the purchase of 15 Light Combat Aircraft being manufactured by HAL for the Army and Air Force for a tentative cost of about Rs 2,911 crore.

AoN was also given for the repeat order of 464 Russian origin T90 tanks which are being manufactured by the Ordnance Factory Board for Rs 13,448 crore, besides for procurement of 598 mini UAVs at a cost of Rs 1,100 crore.

However, the most significant take away from the DAC is the clearance of the new blacklisting policy.

Though Defence Ministry officials remained tight-lipped about the features of the new policy, maintaining it will be put up on website in the next few days, sources said it will ensure that while companies are dealt with harshly, it will not affect the modernisation process.

As per the new policy, the focus is on graded blacklisting and fines. This means that if a defence conglomerate is caught doing wrong in a particular project, it will be banned for a specific number of years from dealing in that particular segment only.

It can continue to pitch for projects in other segments.

“It will be a product-specific ban rather than blanket blacklisting. Also, there will be an option for heavy penalties besides those in contract and even individuals can be banned,” a source said.

The new policy would also allow many of the stuck programmes, like the heavy weight torpedos for the six Scorpene submarines, to move ahead with clarity.

Delhi pollution: Nothing can be solved unless AAP govt takes action, says Environment Ministry

In an attempt to find a possible solution for the toxic air pollution in Delhi, the Environment Ministry held a meeting on Monday and Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, recognised dust as one of the major reasons for the pollution.

Minister Anil Dave also said that unless the state government takes an initiative, nothing could be solved. He also urged the AAP government to sprinkle water according to the plan. The New Delhi Municipal Council sprinkled water using jet pressure.

PWD Minister Satyendar Jain also tweeted about the same.

The priority, as Dave points out, is to make the air pollution free for people to breathe and there must not be any blame-game. Dismissing reports that burning of crop stubble from neighbouring states leads to major air pollution in Delhi, he said that 80 percent of the problem in Delhi is derived from here itself.

In an emergency meeting convened by the Delhi government, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said that the government’s plan to tackle air pollution included the use of emission-control devices, resuming vacuum cleaning of arterial roads, sprinkling water on streets, and cutting dust pollution from construction sites.

Municipal schools in north and east Delhi will remain closed till Wednesday, while those in south Delhi will remain shut for the entire week due to the alarming pollution levels in the national capital.

With inputs from PTI.

DNA Morning Must Reads: Latest on Buldhana gang-rape; Govt’s GST deadline; and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. Buldhana: One of the 12 minor tribal students raped at knifepoint for 6 monthsTwo accused absconding * Police say the number of victims likely to go up. Read more.2. Govt could skid on GST deadline due to Centre-states turf warGST Council could not come to consensus on the issue dual control on Friday due to difference between bureaucrats; finance ministers will hold a “political meeting” on November 20. Read more.3. Govt on NDTV ban: Nation comes firstThe BJP stated that it respects freedom of the press, but national security cannot be compromised. Read more.4. India v/s England: Dominance of Indian team should continue – Rohit SharmaThe 29-year-old got serious while talking about the upcoming five-match Test series against England starting on November 9. Read more.5. A step forward in my global career: Deepika PadukoneDeepika Padukone will attend MTV EMAs and present an award there. Read more.

Pakistan briefs envoys of UNSC’s P-5 on alleged human rights violations in Kashmir

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan on Friday briefed the envoys of P-5 countries about the situation in Kashmir and asked them to fulfill their commitment to the people of the Valley by holding of a free, fair and impartial plebiscite.Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Foreign Affairs, Syed Tariq Fatemi briefed the Ambassadors of the permanent members of the UN Security Council (China, France, Russia, the UK and the US).Foreign Office (FO) said in a statement that “the briefing focused on the deteriorating human rights situation” in Kashmir; “escalation and ceasefire violations from the Indian side at the Line of Control (LoC) and the Indian involvement in subversive and terrorist activities in Pakistan”.The SAPM called upon the permanent members of the UN Security Council to fulfill their commitment to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, through the holding of a free, fair and impartial plebiscite under the UN auspices, in accordance with the Security Council resolutions. He noted that “the people of Kashmir were being brutalised for demanding their fundamental rights, including the right to self-determination”.The SAPM stated that “unprovoked continued firing and ceasefire violations from the Indian side” on the LoC and the Working Boundary have resulted in the loss of many innocent lives. He referred “to the Indian attempts to escalate tensions, as an effort to divert international attention from grim situation in the Kashmir”.The SAPM also “deplored Indian involvement in subversive and terrorist activities in Pakistan”. It was second such briefing by Pakistan after it briefed the Organisation of Islamic Conference envoys about Kashmir situation.

Political push needed to fix GST jurisdiction: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley

New Delhi: In the absence of a consensus on who will exercise control over Goods and Services Tax assessees — the Centre or the states — Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday called for a political push for resolution of the contentious issue and fixed November 20 for an informal meeting in this regard.

New Delhi: Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley leaves after addressing the media regarding the meeting of GST Council at North Block in New Delhi on Thursday. PTI Photo by Subhav Shukla (PTI11_3_2016_000245B)New Delhi: Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley leaves after addressing the media regarding the meeting of GST Council at North Block in New Delhi on Thursday. PTI Photo by Subhav Shukla (PTI11_3_2016_000245B)

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. PTI

A day after a major milestone was reached for a pan-India Goods and Services Tax regime, when the GST Council decided on a four-slab tax rate, Day Two of the meeting proved inconclusive in arriving at a decision on the issue of dual control, or cross empowerment.

“This (cross empowerment) is one of the key issues, discussed even in the third meeting. It was inconclusive and the discussion carried on for the entire day today (Friday),” Jaitley said after the meeting.

“Functionally, you can’t have two authorities competing for the same assessee. This situation has to be avoided. There has to be clearly defined guidelines as to who will assess whom,” he said, adding this is what the political leadership in the council will discuss informally, sans aides or officials.

Jaitley also explained the next administrative steps towards what is touted as the biggest indirect tax reform in the country.

He said the members now needed to discuss four draft bills — Central GST, State GST, Integrated GST and state compensation matter for revenue losses — and that would come up at the next council meeting on November 24-25.

He said the schedule November 9-10 meeting stood cancelled.

GST Council to discuss tax rates, dual control in crucial meet on Thursday

New Delhi: With barely a fortnight left for Parliament’s Winter Session, the GST Council will begin its crucial 2-day meeting on Thursday to decide on tax rate including the levy of cess and sort out the vexed issue of jurisdiction over assessees.

At the meeting, to be chaired by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, the Centre is likely to press its proposal for 4-tier tax structure of 8, 12, 18 and 26 per cent, the peak rate being for FMCG and consumer durables.

Meanwhile, Minister of State for Finance Arjun Ram Meghwal told PTI that there had been “minor” differences over the issue of cess but expressed confidence that it will be resolved.

He said: “Our effort is to decide on all matters through consensus. We want everyone to come around on all issues… There may be times when Tamil Nadu or Kerala or West Bengal or Uttar Pradesh have said something different but we will get them around.

“We are confident that the GST will be rollout from 1 April, 2017…all issues would be sorted out before that.”

A file photo of Arun Jaitley. PTIA file photo of Arun Jaitley. PTI

A file photo of Arun Jaitley. PTI

The Centre has also proposed to levy additional cess on demerit goods like tobacco, aerated drinks and polluting items to create a Rs 50,000 crore fund to compensate the states for revenue loss.

The proposal, which was discussed at the last meeting, could not be adopted by the Council because of opposition by some states.

The meeting beginning tomorrow will have to sort out the issues concerning tax rate to enable Parliament to approve the Central GST (CGST) and Integrated GST (IGST) legislations in the winter session beginning 16 November and pave way for roll out of the new tax regime from April next year.

Some central officials say it is “unfortunate” that states are opposing the cess despite assurances for compensating revenue loss for initial five years.

At the last meeting, the Council agreed on keeping base year for calculating the revenue of a state at 2015-16, and considering a secular growth rate of 14 per cent for calculating the likely revenue of each state in the first five years of implementation of GST.

States getting lower revenue than this would be compensated by the Centre.

As some states preferred a higher tax slab over cess, Jaitley contented that the cost of funding compensation through an additional tax would be “exorbitantly high and almost unbearable”.

Differences arose between the Centre and states at the last meeting on dual control, with states demanding control over 11 lakh service tax assessees and the Centre proposing to do away states having exclusive control over all dealers up to an annual revenue threshold of Rs 1.5 crore — an issue which was settled in the first meeting of the GST Council.

West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra has said that the Centre has withheld information relating to the number of service tax assessees. He said while the Centre has disclosed 11 lakh tax payer, the actual number of service tax assessees is estimated at 30.5 lakh.

The Centre is expected to have a tough task of building consensus with states on these vexed issues. The GST Council, chaired by Union Finance Minister, has representatives from all the states.

Under the proposed 4-slab structure, the items which are currently taxed between 3-9 per cent will fall in the 6 per cent bracket; those in 9-15 per cent range will come under 12 per cent rate.

Those products which are currently taxed between 15-21 per cent will attract 18 per cent levy while those above 21 per cent will be taxed at the peak rate of 26 per cent.

Russia fails to win re-election to U.N. Human Rights Council | Reuters

Russia fails to win re-election to U.N. Human Rights Council | Reuters

Updated: Oct 28, 2016 22:26 IST

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India slams Organization of Islamic Cooperation for raking up Kashmir issue

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a sharp reaction, India on Wednesday slammed the OIC, an influential grouping of Muslim countries, for making “misleading references” to the Kashmir issue during its conclave, saying the bloc has no locus standi to comment on India’s internal matters.A meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Tashkent, in a resolution, severely criticised India for ongoing violence in Kashmir Valley and said it was deeply concerned at the “alarming” increase in the “indiscriminate use” of force.”We note with extreme regret that the OIC has again chosen to comment on India’s internal affairs during the 43rd Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers held in Uzbekistan on October 18-19,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said. He said certain resolutions adopted at the conclusion of the session contain “factually incorrect and misleading references” to matters internal to India, including Jammu and Kashmir which is an integral part of India.”We outrightly reject all such references,” he said, adding OIC has no locus standi to comment on India’s internal affairs.”We further advise the OIC to refrain from making such references in future,” he said.In the resolution, the OIC said it condemned use of force to quell protests in the aftermath of killing of Burhan Wani and called upon the international community to “break its deadly silence” over situation in Kashmir.

India slams UNSC for ‘unimplementable’ peacekeeping mandates

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India has strongly criticised a “fragmented” UN Security Council for coming up with “unwieldy” and “unimplementable” peacekeeping mandates that put the credibility of the UN and safety and security of peacekeepers at grave risk.Speaking at a General Assembly debate on peacekeeping operations, India’s Deputy Permanent Representative Tanmaya Lal said, “Peacekeeping, the signature activity of the UN, is under tremendous stress today.””The multiplicity of tasks and Christmas-tree mandates; a departure from well-established principles of impartiality; an avoidance of the primacy of politics; a focus on mere ”band aid” solutions through peacekeeping, and a near absolute lack of effective consultations amongst the Troop Contributing Countries (TCCs), Security Council and the Secretariat are all part of the existential and philosophical dilemma facing the peacekeeping today,” Lal said.He noted that Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous talked about building new coalitions of support to address collective security challenges in today”s multipolar world. “Perhaps this can and should start at home i.e. within the Security Council, which remains divided, even as it comes up with unwieldy and unimplementable mandates putting both the credibility of the UN and the safety and security of peacekeepers at grave risk,” Lal said yesterday.He said the manner in which peacekeeping mandates, are finalised clearly demonstrates that the problems have their origin at their source itself.Lal cited the example of the recently renewed and “so far unimplemented” mandate for the UN mission in South Sudan. He said even after three months of renewing the peacekeeping mandate in South Sudan, the situation on the ground including for the peacekeepers is no better. Lal strongly criticised the Security Council for not listening to the Troop Contributing Countries regarding the mandate but also failing to secure the consent of the host government for the revision of the mandate. “Further, seeing the way the mandate renewal resolution was adopted, it appears that there was no consensus even among the P-5,” he said, referring to the five permanent members of the Council. Lal said the United Nations Mission in South Sudan mandate came out of a “fragmented Security Council, with little or no groundwork of crucial political work especially with the host government, with little agreement within the UNSC itself, and with no effective consultations with the TCCs who, in the end, have to implement this mandate.””Is it any wonder why we are in the situation we are in,” Lal said. He said the primary purpose of peacekeeping operations is to prevent conflicts in conflict-prone areas and their relapse in areas emerging from long-drawn conflicts but despite member states having highlighted this repeatedly, many peacekeeping operations today are continuing to operate in a “vacuum of political negotiations”.

Manipur CM Okram Ibobi Singh accused of ‘stage managing’ Ukhrul incident by Naga bodies: Here’s why

Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh on Monday escaped unhurt when suspected NSCN (Isak-Muivah) militants opened gunfire as he was getting out of his helicopter at the Ukhrul helipad, CID officials said. A jawan of the Manipur Rifles was injured in the firing which took place when the chief minister stepped out of the helicopter and was being greeted by government officials, the officials said.

Ibobi Singh was in Ukhrul to inaugurate a government hospital in Hundung and to launch other developmental projects. The chief minister’s helicopter immediately took off and left for Chingai but could not land at the remote village due to protests, officials told PTI. Ibobi then cancelled his programme and flew back to the state capital where he called an emergency cabinet meeting, the source said. The incident has however started a war of words between Ibobi and Nagaland bodies.

According to The Sangai Express, The United Naga Council (UNC) and Tangkhul Naga Long (TNL) have cried foul and have said that the chief minister stage-managed the entire episode. TNL president Weapon Zimik was quoted as saying by the Newmai News Network that with the huge number of security personnel deployed for the chief minister and his convoy it was not possible for any militant group to ambush. A 24-hour bandh was imposed by TNL protesting against Ibobi’s visit to Ukhrul.

The Telegraph also reported saying that the residents of Naga-dominated Ukhrul were opposed to the chief minister’s visit.

Calling Ibobi an “anti-tribal” minister, Zimik said his group backed the tribal people of the region and they will protest entry of all anti-tribal people in the hill districts. Seconding Zimik’s stand, UNC president Gaidon Kamei said that Ibobi’s intention behind visiting the area was to “disrupt the peace” of the region. According to both the leaders, Ibobi was well-aware of how the people of the region feel about him and tribals were boycotting all legislators who are anti-tribal.

Ibobi Singh, in an interview with IANS recently, had said that the law and order situation in Manipur had improved drastically but the chief minister also warned that no part of the state can ever be a part of Greater Nagaland.

Chief Minister of Manipur Okram Ibobi Singh. Reuters

Chief Minister of Manipur Okram Ibobi Singh. Reuters

With assembly elections not far away, the Congress leader said people in the state no longer lived in fear of the various militant groups, big and small. “In the past, shops and kiosks pulled down shutters by nightfall and people stayed at home. Today people can be seen (on the streets) till late in the night and shopkeepers do brisk business,” Ibobi told IANS in the interview. Militants used to sneak into Manipur from neighbouring Myanmar to commit crime and escape, he said.

“We have beefed up security at the border towns with the result that militants cannot make their presence felt now,” the chief minister said in an interview. More than 30 insurgent outfits used to operate in the urban areas of Manipur. Police claim a significant fall in insurgency-related violence. But stray bomb attacks continue. “The people who are fed up with the senseless violence of the insurgents provide vital information about them (to the authorities),” said the chief minister.

According to Ibobi, the insurgents cannot find easy shelter even in the hills as almost all the tribal underground outfits have come overground after signing the Suspension of Operations (SoO) pact. He however admitted that there were complaints against the activities of some of these groups. Ibobi said: “We are in touch with the central security forces to enforce the ground rules. “We have been drawing the attention of the Centre to the presence of the signatories to ceasefire in Manipur who should be confined to Nagaland only.”

The NSCN-K has abrogated the ceasefire pact and resumed attacks against security forces. Ibobi disclosed that several cadres of the two Nagaland-based outfits had fanned out to other states in the northeast although they should be, legally, confined to Nagaland. Despite threats to veto the state government order, Ibobi had on August 12, 2004, lifted the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, from seven assembly segments in Manipur. “In the long run it has helped improve the law and order in the state,” the Congress leader said. “There is no immediate plan to lift the Afspa from other segments since we fear that in view of objections from the Defence Ministry, the government move may be vetoed,” he added.

Ibobi complained that the state government had got no cooperation from the Centre on Afspa, which gives sweeping powers to security forces. And despite numerous allegations of rights abuses, security personnel were not prosecuted as prior approval of the Centre was a must and no such approval was given, he said. The chief minister also told IANS that he had conveyed to the Centre that there cannot be a redrawing of the map of Manipur which has had a written history of more than 2,000 years.

Votaries of Greater Nagaland have demanded parts of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh to be added to a proposed Naga homeland. Ibobi also said that the provisions of the Sixth schedule of the Constitution, which permits autonomy for hill areas, shall not be extended to Manipur. “Some officials in Delhi who do not know the ground realities had asked me why it cannot be done since it was extended to the Bodo areas of Assam.

“The Bodo Territorial Council is a mere dot in Assam’s map. In case of Manipur, which is smaller than any district of Assam, 90 per cent of the territory falls in the hill districts. The non-tribal valley areas constitute just 10 per cent of the territory. “The government is ready to give sufficient funds for development and administrative and financial assistances. The only condition is that the state government shall monitor the mode of spending and implementation.”

With inputs from IANS

Uttarakhand body opposes states being kept out of tax adminstration process under IGST

Dehradun: On Tuesday Uttarakhand Commercial Tax Service Association opposed the GST council’s decision to keep the states out of the tax administration process under IGST, saying it went against the principle of fiscal federalism by narrowing down the role of states and their dealer base.

Criticising GST Council’s handing over the complete administration of ‘services’ to the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) at its very first meeting on 24 September, the Association’s president Yashpal Singh said it was unfair on part of the council to take away the tax administration domain from state agencies citing their “lack of experience”.

“Not only that but the Council also negated the right of state’s absolute control of administration of such dealers which had an annual turnover of up to one and half crores, which was the result of prolonged debates,” he said.

According to the proposed changes after GST, the Centre would levy and collect the Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST) on all inter-State supplies of goods and services in case of inter-State transactions.

On CBEC’s charge that the states are against GST roll out, and their struggle for “more work” and opposition makes their intentions dubious in nature, Singh said the allegation was totally baseless and false.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“In reality the states are completely in favour of GST and the enthusiasm shown by them in ratifying the constitutional amendment proves the falsity of this bogus charge,” he said.

States are opposed only to the idea of being kept out of the administration of “services” and there are primarily two reasons for this, he said.

“First the argument cited by GST council that state tax authorities are ‘inexperienced’ to divest them of administration of services is demeaning to them. And secondly, the Model GST Law has included many transactions under the definition of ‘services’ like work contract, transfer of the right to use, and transactions done by hotels and restaurants etc, which were hitherto covered under the category of ‘goods’,” Singh said.

In consequence, approximately about one third of the current tax base of states will shift from the control of states, which would be detrimental to the future prospect of state’s service cadres, the Association president
said.

As far as the question of struggling for ‘greater work’ is considered, then at present CBEC administers only around 11 lakh dealers and all the states together administer around 63 lakh dealers registered for indirect taxation, Singh said.

All such formulae that are proposed by the GST Council and even by states for administering this tax base, suggest that there would be fall in the dealer base that is hitherto being administered by the states, he said.

“It could be part of a long term strategy of permanently disfranchising states from the administration of indirect tax administration after bidding adieu to the principle of fiscal federalism,” he said.

Pak ‘epicentre’ of global terrorism; should set its own house in order: India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Describing Pakistan as the “epicentre” of global terrorism, India has asked Pakistan to “set its own house in order” and take action against terror groups instead of “ritually” raking up human rights violations elsewhere.India, exercising the right of reply after Pakistan raised the Kashmir issue during the general debate at the 135th Assembly Session of IPU, asserted that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and will remain so for “eternity”.”We deeply regret the misuse of this august body by Pakistan to make tendentious references about internal matters pertaining to the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir,” Lok Sabha MP R K Singh said.”Let me make it very clear to Pakistan that the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and will remain so for eternity. The people of Jammu and Kashmir have been active participants in the democratic processes at both the central and state levels,” he said.He said the “fundamental reason” for the situation in Kashmir is the cross-border terrorism sponsored by Pakistan.”Terrorism remains the grossest violation of human rights and Pakistan has the distinction of being the epicentre of global terrorism. In fact, it is the mothership of global terror.”Internationally proscribed terrorists and terror groups are freely roaming in Pakistan with impunity while the deep State in Pakistan is busy in diverting billions of dollars received as international aid for spreading terrorism globally,” he said.Underlining that the human rights violations in entire Pakistan “cry for the world’s attention”, he said, “The people of Pakistan, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have become victims of sectarian conflict, terrorism and extreme economic hardship due to Pakistan’s authoritarian and discriminatory policies in complete disregard of human rights.””Given this state of affairs, Pakistan will be well-advised to focus its energies on setting its own house in order and acting against the perpetrators of terrorist attacks on its neighbours instead of ritually raking up alleged human rights violations elsewhere,” Singh said.”Pakistan has raised the issue of UN Security Council resolutions. We would suggest Pakistan to first fulfil its primary obligation under the resolutions to vacate illegal occupation of Pakistan occupied Kashmir,” he said.”We call upon Pakistan to stop inciting and supporting violence and terrorism in any part of India and refrain from meddling in our internal affairs in any matter,” Singh said.

Heavy workload possible reason for ‘serious mistakes’ made by SC in Soumya case: Katju    

Thiruvananthapuram: Former SC judge Markandey Katju said on Monday that the apex court had made some “serious mistakes” in the Soumya case by commuting the death sentence of the accused to life, and attributed it to “judges not being able to give much time to cases due to heavy workload of pending cases”.

In a Facebook post, he said, “I genuinely believe that the Supreme Court had made some serious mistakes in its judgement by reversing the death penalty awarded by Kerala High Court”.

“Possibly these mistakes were made because the court was so overburdened with work that it cannot give as much time to cases as they deserve, which they would have otherwise done, had it not been for this heavy load of cases to decide,” he said.

A file photo of Markandey Katju. PTIA file photo of Markandey Katju. PTI

A file photo of Markandey Katju. PTI

The Former Press Council Chairman also said that when he first heard that he had been issued notice, asking him to appear before the court on 11 November, he was “upset” as he thought the SC was trying to “humiliate” him since he had criticised their judgement and such an order was “unprecedented”.

Hence, he had initially said that he would not appear before the court as directed.

However, when he received the apex court’s notice and read it, Katju said he realised the court used “very respectful language to me and had requested me, not ordered me, to appear since they seemed to be sincere about their desire to reconsider their judgement and did not have a closed mind.”

“Since reading the Supreme Court notice, I felt that the judges had no intention to humiliate or insult me, rather were anxious to get my help in reconsidering their judgement, I have decided to appear on 11th November at 2 pm (the date and time fixed),” Justice Katju said.

Quoting celebrated British Judge Lord Denning, Katju said ‘The Judge has not been born who has not made a mistake’.

“We are all humans, and all of us make mistakes, but a gentleman is one who realises his mistake, acknowledges it,
and seeks to make amends,” Katju said.

“This should apply to judges too. I myself have sometimes made mistakes in my judgements,” he said.

SC made ‘serious mistakes’ in Soumya murder case due to heavy workload: Markandey Katju

Thiruvananthapuram: Former SC judge Markandey Katju on Monday said the apex court had made some “serious mistakes” in the Soumya case by commuting the death sentence of the accused to life, and attributed it to “judges not being able to give much time to cases due to heavy workload of pending cases”.

In a Facebook post, he said, “I genuinely believe that the Supreme Court had made some serious mistakes in its judgement by reversing the death penalty awarded by Kerala High Court”.

“Possibly these mistakes were made because the court was so overburdened with work that it cannot give as much time to cases as they deserve, which they would have otherwise done, had it not been for this heavy load of cases to decide,” he said.

The Former Press Council Chairman also said that when he first heard that he had been issued notice, asking him to appear before the court on 11 November, he was “upset” as he thought the SC was trying to “humiliate” him since he had criticised their judgement and such an order was “unprecedented”. Hence, he had initially said that he would not appear before the court as directed.

However, when he received the apex court’s notice and read it, Katju said he realised the court used “very
respectful language to me and had requested me, not ordered me, to appear since they seemed to be sincere about their desire to reconsider their judgement and did not have a closed mind.”

“Since reading the Supreme Court notice, I felt that the judges had no intention to humiliate or insult me, rather were anxious to get my help in reconsidering their judgement, I have decided to appear on 11 November at 2 pm (the date and time fixed),” Justice Katju said.

Quoting celebrated British Judge Lord Denning, Katju said, “The Judge has not been born who has not made a mistake”.

“We are all humans, and all of us make mistakes, but a gentleman is one who realises his mistake, acknowledges it, and seeks to make amends,” Katju said.

“This should apply to judges too. I myself have sometimes made mistakes in my judgements,” he said.

2 jawans injured after IED explosion in Manipur

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Two jawans from the India Reserve Battalion (IRB) have been injured after an IED explosion took place on Sunday in Hundung area in south of Ukhrul district in Manipur, reports IBtimes.National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) are suspected to be behind the attack.CM Okram Ibobi Singh will visit Ukhrul on Monday for the launch of some developmental projects.

GST: One nation, one tax

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The biggest tax reform in the country is on its way to implementation with the recently concluded Goods and Service (GST) Council meet that deliberated over the tax rates. The Council announced a 14% compensation to states that would face a loss of revenue and decided that a ‘four slab’ structure will include 6,12,18 and 26 per cent rates, with lower rates for essential items and the highest band for taxing luxury goods.GST Council will be meeting again on November 3-4 to finalise the GST rate structure, and on November 9-10 to decide the draft legislations for the bill.The ‘one nation, one tax’ reform – as proclaimed by Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, has been 16 years in the making as it was initially proposed by the then Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, back in 2000. The unified tax is proposed to come into effect from April 1, 2017.What is GST?GST is one indirect tax for the whole nation, which will make India one unified common market. It is a single tax on the supply of goods and services, right from the manufacturer to the consumer.What is the need for GST?An overlap is seen in the economy as services are used in the production and distribution of goods and similarly goods are used in delivering services.GST will work as an ‘All in one’ tax as the various indirect taxes being levied by the centre and the state will be ‘subsumed’ or included in GST.What is the current tax structure?Currently, each state taxes goods that move across its borders at various rates, leading to multiple taxation.The earlier model of separate taxation placed on goods and services would require splitting of transaction value (prices paid for products) into value of goods and services for taxation.Therefore, the multiplicity of taxation on commodities and the complexities in our current tax structure will be eliminated once GST comes into play.How will GST help the Indian economy?The Indian economy’s growth rate is expected to increase by 0.9% to 1.7% as per estimates of the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER).Analysts from Morgan Stanley said that the overall impact of GST is likely to improve growth due to better allocation of resources, improving efficiency of domestic production and exports.Investments in the Indian economy will seemingly become more attractive as growth improves with GDP growth that could see a minimum boost of 0.5% after GST implementation.Will GST bring down the prices for you?The cost of certain goods and services that are camouflaged under multiple taxes levied are foreseen to become cheaper once GST is implemented.Goods like cement, wood articles and plyboard, satellite TV, batteries, cars, food items, online shopping, cab rides, couriers and mobile bills are estimated to become cheaper depending on the finalized tax slabs.The analysts from Edelweiss Securities said, “It is widely believed that under the proposed GST, effective tax rate on goods (nearly 70-75% of the CPI basket) will decline, while taxes on services (nearly 25-30% of CPI basket) will increase.”This may imply that certain services in the economy like trips to the beauty parlour, telephones, restaurants, cinemas, air travel, insurance, DTH, credit and debit cards, courier, healthcare, banking and professional consultancies might become more expensive.

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