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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jaggi Vasudev on notebandi, nationalism and why he stands behind Narendra Modi

Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev is known for speaking his mind on a wide range of issues. In his new book Inner Engineering: A Yogi’s Guide to Joy (Penguin Random House India Pvt. Ltd), he has redefined spirituality. He does not describe himself as the usual ‘guru’, which he once called a four letter word. Instead, he prefixes it with another four-letter word ‘sadh’ to complete his self-description. To talk to us, he walked into a central Delhi garden, kissed gently by the winter sun, in a turban that hides the colour of his hair and a cotton-candy beard that gives it away. Spirituality for him is not a straight jacket. He enjoys playing ball, flies choppers and wears jeans when not in loose cotton pants, and surprises you by calling spirituality a ‘technology’. Spirituality is neither detachment, self-abnegation nor being less worldly than anybody else. He engages with every contemporary issue and doesn’t hold back. Though not politically aligned with any party or leader, he discusses demonetisation and nationalism, the two hot-button issues of the day. With the disclaimer that he is not ‘nationalistic freak’, he says India needs to stand behind somebody who has taken a huge political risk (a reference to Narendra Modi and demonetisation), and that emotional commitment to a country is an essential ingredient for nation-building. Edited excerpts:

Your book revolves around your healing principle of ‘Inner Engineering’. Can you explain the concept?

This is not a teaching, preaching, philosophy, religion, this is a technology for wellbeing. Show me one person who doesn’t need a technology for wellbeing? In India, the book is leading across sections and doing even better than fiction and that is a statement from the people that it was needed. When it comes to other aspects of our life, we employ science and tech to make things work. When it comes to religion, we still have silly philosophies and ideologies. Why? This is a movement from religion to responsibility. Without turning inward, there is no way you will have yourself the way you want yourself to be. When you can approach medicine in a scientific manner, why can’t you approach inner-wellbeing in a logically correct and scientifically verifiable way, I ask?

The reason why somebody feels insecure and miserable is because they haven’t taken charge of their inward and out of insecurities and the bad experience of life, people may do many things in reaction.

Political developments across the globe in 2016 suggest that countries are closing their doors. Is there a way to go inwards into your culture and identity without pitting them against that of another?
Going inwards is not about culture, it is not about politics or the positions that we take in the world. Going inwards is because the source of your experience is within you. The reason why somebody feels insecure and miserable is because they haven’t taken charge of their inward and out of insecurities and the bad experience of life, people may do many things in reaction. Going inwards means you are in charge of how you experience your life, you can make it beautiful or ugly, blissful or miserable. Right now, because people haven’t turned inwards, there is much fear of suffering and anxiety, and anger against each other. We are trying to fix the reactions, when we should be fixing the source.

In the context of demonetisation, tell us if India is more critical of governmental decisions than before and do most believe that policies are designed to harm them?

We are critical of governmental decisions because we are used to governments that don’t take any decisions. Now when any decision is made, we think it is wrong. We’ve been a developing nation f70 years because we are simply unwilling to fix the fundamentals. There are certain serious problems in the country, do you want to take them head-on or do you want to pussyfoot around them forever? Demonetisation is a little bit of a confrontation with the problem that nearly 60 percent transactions are beneath the radar. How do you run a nation when a little over two per cent pay taxes? How does a nation’s administration function effectively without revenue? This is a system coming from a colonial era and the nomenclature still continues. Even today, district administrators are called collectors because in those days their job was to collect taxes. Earlier, whoever didn’t pay tax was a hero. We are still in that hangover. We can’t live in little nations of comfort and wellbeing, it’s time that we work for the wellbeing of the nation as a whole and for that some painful steps have to be taken. Right now, the issue is that if I have to start my own business, I have to build my own road, generate electricity, and manage sewage. This is not an excuse to not be in the tax net. Only if we pay, we can demand services. Democracy is not a spectator sport, we can participate through various instruments on a daily basis and demand results. If 30 percent of the population doesn’t come in the tax net in the next 10 years, we won’t have a developed nation. Nothing significant happens without some pain.

That said, do you think the present government is doing a good job?

The present government is doing a very good job by wielding a stick at those who are not being compliant with the nation’s goals. But the political game in a democratic country is nebulous. They will have to do a few populist things. When somebody takes a huge political risk to correct something, you have to stand with them. Once people have elected a government, all of us should simply support it. If you pull their leg, how will they function? I am not politically aligned with a party or a fan of any leader but believe in the wellbeing of a democratic nation. If you have any other commitment going against the nation’s growth, it is a crime. Those who are sitting in comfortable places are doing these things without understanding what we are denying to those who have barely eaten. You go to the remotest parts of Africa and you’ll find that the children are bouncy and healthy. Though there is experience and cultural strength in India, we are not doing well on the ground.

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Do we define nationalism too much? Why has it become necessary to prove that we are Indian?
Right now the big issue is that of playing the national anthem in theatres. Because you have popcorn in one hand and cola in the other, you can’t stand up. If there is no pride about the country, how do you build a country? Nationalism is not an ultimate goal, but an immediate need to move the people in one direction, otherwise everybody has their own caste, creed, religion, all kinds of things. We are talking about nuances of liberal freedom when half the people have not eaten. Right now, we’re in the basics, let’s understand this. I am not a nationalistic freak, my work is beyond national, racial and religious borders, and my idea of humanity is 7.3 billion people. But the nation is the largest mass of people and to bind it together and take it forward, national identity is important. Emotional commitment to the country is needed.

Is this the era of collective rage, clashing opinions and a lack of action?
The rage is limited to the media. There is a big sense of satisfaction and fulfilment among the poorest of poor in this country, because they feel that for the first time somebody has hit the rich. I only wish this digitisation process had started a year earlier, and 30 to 40 percent of the population had moved into a cashless economy. People are protesting all the time. There is more activism in the country than activity, we need activity. We have inherited this from a pre-independence era where we call for a bandh, shut down electricity, rasta roko, rail roko. Gandhi’s technology was fine when someone else was ruling us. How do we shut down our own nation? I am not for mad fanaticism at all but I am asking, how do you move people without getting them emotionally identified with the nation?

Not all mental ailments are because of pathological causes, but also happen because of social causes. In the West, one of the biggest problems is loneliness. In India, there is no room for loneliness because someone is always walking over you.

A recent Bollywood movie Dear Zindagi discussed the subject of mental health. Does everybody secretly like to believe they are depressed or that they need to be rescued? Is the youth ready or nation building, if they are self-absorbed?
In India, the self-absorbed youth is only a small segment coming from affluent families in urban centres. The rest of them are not like that. The population is largely community-oriented, so people are not depressed on the same scale as Europeans are. Not all mental ailments are because of pathological causes, but also happen because of social causes. In the West, one of the biggest problems is loneliness. In India, there is no room for loneliness because someone is always walking over you. This may look like an irritant at some point but it helps people stay mentally healthy. We are slowly withdrawing from that and moving toward a different mode, and there will be a price to pay.

Is spiritualism now a capitalism-driven material need, just like a bag or a pair of jeans?
There is substantial medical and scientific evidence to prove that only when you are in a pleasant state of experience, your body and brain works at its best. If you want to succeed in the world, it is only a question of harnessing your body and brain to the fullest. If you do this successfully, will you become unsuccessful in the world? Miserable people are not successful. The spiritual process is a self-realisation. You can use a phone better if you know more about it. The same thing applies to the brain, the greatest and most sophisticated gadget on the planet. Spirituality is not a disability, it is the greatest empowerment you can receive, your body, mind, thought, emotions and energy will function for you and not against you if you know the nature of your existence fully. It’s just like you can either open up the cosmos with a phone, or just use it in a rudimentary way to SMS your friend.

Is social media leading to a rise in depression because one has constant access to other people’s achievements? Are we in a state of constant denial?
Every gift given to you is becoming a problem because you are trying to extract happiness from the world. You need to understand that all human experience happens from within. If you’re seeking joy from Facebook, you’ll be miserable because you’ll see wrong faces. Every technology that comes to you has come to enhance your life and not take away your joy. You have to move from compulsiveness to consciousness. Your very mind is the source of your misery. People want the brain of an earthworm? Why? It took us years of evolution to get here. Those who are joyful in their own way, by their own nature, their genius will unfold. Right now, the fear of suffering has cramped you up, you are blaming Facebook, blaming the phone, blaming technology. This is because your own intelligence has turned against you. If the source of your existence is in your hands, you will choose pleasantness.

Over 18,000 children have committed suicide in 2015, if we don’t accept that we are doing something fundamentally wrong, we have not gotten life properly. The entire world looked toward Indian culture for guidance when it came to life.

Why do we have to lose our peace and then find ways to bring it back?
Our schooling system is a leftover from the British times. They designed it mainly to demand obedience. This was her majesty’s requirement. We should have seen what kind of schooling we need for a free India. We need free human beings with a free-ranging mind. A large segment of population has been in extreme poverty and it all became about how to get a job. So, nobody could be trained about anything that concerns life. Over 18,000 children have committed suicide in 2015, if we don’t accept that we are doing something fundamentally wrong, we have not gotten life properly. The entire world looked toward Indian culture for guidance when it came to life. We are not making use of anything we know and are reinventing India from a western perspective. If you say anything Indian, people say mad nationalism is happening. There are 120 weaves in this country, we were the greatest textile nation in the country. But we are killing it totally because our brains are still in Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). At the same time, our Indianness shouldn’t be rigid, history shows us that we have been able to absorb anything that comes our way without resistance and still retained our culture. This is a nation that has explored the interiority of the human mechanism like none other, we have the USP for how a human being can be joyful. This is a methodology we can offer the entire world. First, at least a majority in India has to get this.

So, economic wellbeing isn’t enough for development?
Economic wellbeing alone will not translate into human wellbeing. For instance, in the export town of Tirupur in Tamil Nadu, almost everybody earns two to three times more than those in neighbouring towns. Last year, on Diwali, Tamil Nadu sold 36 crore worth of alcohol and in this about 24 to 25 crore was from Tirupur. It is a town of merely 8 lakh people. Wherever economic wellbeing has happened, 40 per cent has become diabetic. This is why we’re talking about yoga nation.

Can spiritual leaders take a political stand?
If you can stand for an election, why can’t I? I won’t but that’s my choice. I have as much right as you have to stand for elections.

What kind of India do you envision for in 2017?
Right now, 60 percent of the population is undernourished, we are producing half and substandard human beings. The next thing is empowerment. We can educate people toward better agriculture, skill people in different ways; human beings must be empowered to do whatever they want. The next thing is ecology. This is a very serious problem that has gone unattended. Some studies show, on an average, all Indian rivers are depleting by 8 percent per year. This means, in 15-20 years, rivers will become seasonal. For instance, Kaveri doesn’t reach the ocean for two and a half months. What are we going to leave for our children? Barren land? Fly from Delhi to Chennai and every five minutes you will see large patches of brown. When sunlight continuously falls, bio-activity sinks deeper and deeper; what you think is soil today will become sand tomorrow. The per capita potable water you had in 1947, today you have 19 – 20 percent of it. In 2020, you’ll have only 7 seven percent of it. We need drastic ecological policy steps, which people will hate like they hate demonetisation.

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 10:09 IST

Demonetization: Congress demands Modi’s apology, to hold country-wide protest from January 6

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress on Thursday demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi apologise to the nation for the “suffering” caused to the people by note-ban when he speaks on New Year’s eve and vowed to hold country-wide protests from January 6.Attacking Modi, who is set to address the nation after end of the 50-day period he had sought from the people to ease their problems due to cash crunch, Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said that the Prime Minister is good at making announcements that are far from reality.”Even after 50 days of demonetization step, normalcy has not been restored.”PM Modi’s demonetization move has turned out to be ‘Deshbandi’ (lockdowbn of country). Development has come to a standstill. It is a scam and an uncalled move. It has resulted into economic instability in the country. Several people have died due to cash crunch across the country. It is a surgical strike on the country’s poor and has caused them immense suffering,” Surjewala said at a press conference in Jaipur. He claimed that note ban has led to 115 deaths in last 50 days, RBI has changed its rules 126 times and it will take eight months to print the equivalent currency notes.”Starting from January 6, we will continuously hold protests across the country against demonetization. We demand compensation for aggrieved family members, income and sales tax rebate to traders and common man,” he said.Congress leader Meem Afzal said the Prime Minister “has so far not had a word of sympathy for the victims, forget about an apology”.”But we expect him to apologise when he speaks on the issue at the end of the 50 days he had sought,” he told reporters in Srinagar.”Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised to create two crore new jobs every year but only 1.5 lakh jobs have been created in two and half years. After announcing demonetization last month, at least 10 crore people have been rendered jobless,” he claimed.Afzal claimed as many as 11 crore man-hours were spent every day in queues outside banks and ATMs as people struggled to withdraw their own money.”Money was taken from people’s pockets and put in the banks. 130 crore people of the country were made to queue up for their money. The time people should have spent earning their livelihood was spent in the queues,” he said.He said the Congress party demands an apology from the Prime Minister to the nation for these deaths and also compensation to the next of kin of the victims.Afzal said the Congress party also demands that 18 per cent interest be paid to the people on the money they have deposited in the banks.Alleging that some BJP leaders have been caught with stashes of new currency notes, Surjewala demanded a high-level inquiry.”Ordinary people are standing in bank lines to withdraw money, but a parallel black market flourishes in converting black money into white by charging commission up to 30 per cent commission,” he alleged.Surjewala also said that PM’s credibility is under cloud as his named has allegedly surfaced in Birla and Sahara dairies for receiving kickbacks when he was the Gujarat Chief Minister. BJP has rejected these charges, terming them as false, baseless and malafide.

Demonetization: Tejaswi Yadav backs Mamata’s ‘super emergency’ assertion

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejaswi Yadav on Wednesday backed Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s assertion that the present situation in the country after the Centre’s demonetization drive is a ‘super emergency.’Yadav said, “The situation in the entire nation is very bad post this demonetization drive. There is no solution to the problems being faced by the people as promised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.””The situation is worse in downtrodden areas which are not well connected with the cities, do not have the facilities of ATMs and other modern techniques. Several people have lost their lives due to demonetization. However, the Prime Minister has said nothing over this. So, I think the statements made by Mamata Banerjee that is a super emergency is absolutely correct,” he added.The TMC chief on Tuesday led the attack on the Centre over their demonetization move alleging that the government had completely destroyed the federal structure.”It is not emergency; it’s super emergency. Just that it has not been officially declared,” said Banerjee addressing the media after an anti-demonetization meeting which was attended by all the opposition parties except the Left, Janata Dal (United) and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).”Demonetization is a mega scam, biggest one after independence. The government is looting money of the poor and giving it to rich in the form of loans,” she added.The West Bengal Chief Minister further questioned Prime Minister Modi whether he would resign if things don’t get back to normal even after 50 days.”Even if after 50 days, things will not change. Will the Prime Minister resign,” she said.The TMC chief also accused the Modi government of pushing the country 20 years back.”In push for cashless economy, Modi government has become baseless. It’s a total loss of face for them,” she said while describing the situation prevailing in the country as ‘super emergency’.The West Bengal Chief Minister also insisted that all the opposition parties will make a common minimum agenda program.”Modi ji said we will have ‘acche din’. Is this what he meant by acche din? People are troubled. The country has been robbed in the name of acche din. In the name of cashless, Modi Government has gone baseless. It has become totally faceless,” she said.”This is a fearless government. They do not care about anything.”Meanwhile, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi also escalated his attack on Prime Minister Modi, saying the goal of his ambitious demonetization drive has completely failed as people are continuing to suffer.”Demonetisation has done absolutely nothing against corruption. What it has done instead is to leave people without any money,” said Gandhi.”December 30th is about to come and the situation is still the same. The motive of demonetization has failed completely. The Prime Minister should answer the nation as to what was the real motive of demonetization and what will he do for those affected by it,” he added.The Congress vice-president further said that demonetization was an attack on the country’s poor and had only increased unemployment.Claiming that a new black market was created to exchange the demonetized notes, Gandhi said that demonetization was a direct attack on the country’s financial institutions and the poor.”A new market for conversion of money has been set up which has resulted in an attack on financial institutions and poor,” he said.

BJP not doing politics on religion but justice & honesty: Rajnath Singh in Assam

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday said people have accepted BJP as a party of their own by electing it to power at the Centre with thumping majority even though opposition parties had made allegations in the past that it practised politics over religion.”There was a big allegation that BJP used to do politics over religion or over communalism. Now that allegation has gone away. Had it been a party of doing politics over religion, then the 1.25 billion people of the country would not have elected to power with a clear majority,” he said addressing a meeting of the BJP’s Assam unit here. Singh, a senior BJP leader, said the party never practiced politics over religion nor did over communalism but on the issue of justice and honesty.”We are a party of doing politics over justice and honesty. We are a party which takes everyone along and wants to march forward with everyone’s cooperation,” he said. The Home Minister said BJP’s politics is centred around humanity – irrespective of whether someone is Hindu, Muslim, Christian or from any other religion. Describing Indo-Bangladesh agreement on land-swap as a very significant pact for bilateral relations, Singh said after the exchange of ‘enclaves’ along the border, Dhaka has been supporting India in every international forums.”Be is on terrorism or be it on any other issues, Bangladesh has been supporting India in every international forum ever since we have completed the process of exchange of enclaves between India and Bangladesh.Singh said security of the more than 200-kilometre-long Indo-Bangladesh border in Assam was a priority for the BJP government and it will be completely sealed in next one and a half years. “We are committed to sealing the 223.7-km Indo-Bangladesh border in Assam and the process is on. It is expected to be completed within the next year and a half,” he said.The Home Minister said Bangladesh is a neighbouring country and India shares a good and warm relations and wants to continue and remain committed to in the future. The Home Minister, without referring to the issues of illegal migration and granting of citizenship to Hindu refugees, assured the people of Assam that BJP was committed to protect the interests of the indigenous population of the state as per Clause 6 of the Assam Accord.”We are committed to Clause 6 of the Assam Accord and will protect it even if we have to amend the Constitution,” he said. Referring to the updating of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, Singh said the process is underway and the state government should complete it soon. Singh said the Centre will make no compromise on the issue of insurgency as he claimed that violence has considerably come down in the state. “If any people or group have any grievances, problems or issues, we are ready to talk to them… We are ready to embrace them and talk. But if there is violence, there will be no compromise,” he said.The Home Minister claimed people have supported Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “bold step” to demonetise high-value currency notes and his fight against black money and corruption. “The Prime Minister’s bold step of demonetization has been welcomed by the people of the country and we are grateful for that,” he said. The Prime Minister’s fight against black money and corruption was “beyond any doubt” and the people of the country have expressed their gratitude by supporting him despite facing initial difficulties, the home minister said.”People did face initial difficulties after demonetization was announced, but no one has questioned the intention of the Prime Minister. “People had to wait for hours in queues outside ATMs, but when told they were facing difficulties, many replied, ‘When our jawans our dying on the borders to protect our country against enemies, then why can’t we stand in queues for a few hours.’ This is the spirit of our people,” he said.Modi on November 8 had announced to demonetize Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, and said new notes of denominations Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 will be issued in their place, leading to a rush among people to exchange their notes at banks and withdraw new notes from ATMs.

Modi warns “dishonest” of ruin, says market participants should pay more taxes

Mumbai: Warning of “ruin” for the “dishonest” after 30 December, Prime Minister Narendra Modi
on Saturday said his government will not shy away from taking difficult decisions in the interest of the country and favoured more taxes from capital markets.

Addressing public events, he also asked the dishonest not to underestimate the mood of the country against corruption.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi  addressing at the inauguration of new campus of National Institute of Securities Markets (NISM), at Patalganga, in Mumbai on 24 December 2016. Image courtesy PIBPrime Minister Narendra Modi  addressing at the inauguration of new campus of National Institute of Securities Markets (NISM), at Patalganga, in Mumbai on 24 December 2016. Image courtesy PIB

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing at the inauguration of new campus of National Institute of Securities Markets (NISM), at Patalganga, in Mumbai on 24 December 2016. Image courtesy PIB

“Dishonest people, you should not underestimate the mood of 125 crore people. You will have to be afraid of it… Time has come for ruin of dishonest people. This is a cleanliness campaign,” Modi said just with a week to go for the expiry of the December 30 deadline when the scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes can be deposited in banks.

“After 50 days (from 8 November), the troubles of honest people will start to reduce and the problems of dishonest people will begin to increase,” Modi said at MMRDA ground in the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) in Mumbai after laying the foundation of various big-ticket infrastructure projects.

Earlier in the day at a Sebi function, Modi promised more “sound and prudent economic policies” which would be “not for short-term political point-scoring” but for “larger national interests.

“Let me make one thing very clear: This government will continue to follow sound and prudent economic policies,
to ensure that we have a bright future in the long-run. We’ll not take decisions for short-term political point-scoring. We’ll not shy away from taking difficult decisions if those decisions are in the interest of the country,” Modi said.

He favoured increasing the tax contribution from various market participants in a “fair, efficient and transparent way”.

Asking the regulators and taxmen to think about the contribution of market participants to the exchequer, Modi
said, “The low contribution of taxes may be due to the structure of our tax laws. Low or zero tax rate is given to certain types of financial income.”

The Prime Minister’s remarks assume much significance ahead of the Budget to be presented on 1 February.

“We took a big decision against black money and corruption on 8 November and 125 crore Indians endured pain
but did not stop supporting me. I want to assure people of the country that this battle won’t end till we win it,” he said.

Hitting out at parties opposing demonetisation, he said, “This is not a simple battle. Those who have consumed
malai (cream) did not leave any stone unturned to foil this (demonetisation).”

Modi said, “The corrupt have made all efforts to defeat the decision (demonetisation). They even thought of managing bank officials to get their black money converted into white. And that’s how many of them got caught.”

“I said there will be pain for 50 days (after demonetisation announcement),” he said, adding people are ready to bear the pain in the country’s interest.

The Prime Minister inaugurated a new campus of capital markets regulator Sebi’s National Institute of Securities
Markets (NISM) at Patalganga on the outskirts of Mumbai at an event also attended by functionaries of the Maharashtra government led by the governor and the chief minister, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Sebi chairman UK Sinha.

Describing the 8 November announcement of cancelling as much as 86 percent or Rs 20.51 trillion worth of currency in circulation as a “difficult decision”, he said, “Demonetisation has (brought about) short-term pains, but it
will bring in long-term gains.”

On the need to increase levies on the capital markets in the light of amendments to the many of the bilateral
investment and taxation treaties, Modi said, “Those who profit from financial markets must make a fair contribution to nation-building through taxes…. We should consider methods for increasing it in a fair, efficient and transparent way.

“… Now it is time to re-think and come up with a good design which is simple and transparent, but also fair and
progressive,” Modi said, adding for various reasons, contribution of tax from those who make money on the markets
has been low due to illegal activities and frauds or due to the structure of our tax laws which offers low or zero tax rate is given to certain types of financial income.

The Prime Minister said his government has brought back the economy to good health from the brink when it was saddled with high fiscal and current account deficits and high inflation and falling rupee, since he took over in May 2014.

He further said that when the global economy is fighting lingering slowdown, “India is being seen as a bright spot.

“Our growth is projected to remain among the highest in the world.”

First Published On : Dec 24, 2016 20:54 IST

TMC will hit streets with ‘Modi hatao, desh bachao’ slogan: Mamata Banerjee

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Terming demonetization as the biggest scam in independent India, TMC chief Mamata Banerjee has said her party would hit the streets with the slogan “Modi hatao, desh bachao” from January 1, as the country is not “safe” in the hands of a person who has been “baptised in politics through communal riots.””Now Alibaba and four aides are taking all decisions, even the finance minister doesn’t know it. Only God knows what is happening in the country. They are bulldozing the people, the country and even their party (BJP),” the West Bengal Chief Minister said in a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Banerjee who presided over the extended core committee meeting of TMC said, “The Modi government which is talking about cashless economy has become faceless. Modi government is very good to those who are really black”.”Our party’s only slogan will be ‘Modi hatao, desh bachao’ and we will organise meetings throughout the state from January 1 to 8,” the CM told a press conference.Claiming there is no money in banks, she said, “A person who has no credibility can’t lead a country like India. The decision (demonetization) has led to economic disaster in the country.””From sunrise to sundown, this government is changing decisions more than hundred times. They are changing decision even in their sleep,” she remarked.Banerjee said Modi government did not make any statement on a big decision like demonetization in the Parliament, the temple of democracy.”It is a serious matter”, she said, asserting that time has come for a united opposition against the Modi regime.”Only because you have the majority, you can’t bulldoze Parliament. Rajiv Gandhi had over 400 MPs. I don’t know about Bofors but a message (on corruption) had gone to the people”, she said.

Tourists struggle without cash

Tourists visiting India are among those affected by a crackdown on illegal cash.

Watch: ‘Congress puts party’s interest before that of country,’ says PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Accusing Congress of putting its interests above the country’s, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tore into the Oppposition on Friday, saying unlike earlier when opposition parties stalled Parliament against scams, Congress- led parties are now doing so against government’s steps to curb black money and corruption.He also targeted the Left, accusing them of compromising with their ideology as he recalled comments of late communist leaders Jyotirmay Basu and Harkishan Singh Surjeet in support of demonetization to hit out at them for siding with Congress. With the Winter Session turning out be a virtual washout following political impasse over demonetization, Modi projected criticism of the decision by rival parties as an evidence of their support for the “dishonest and corrupt”.In his address at the BJP Parliamentary Party meeting, he also attacked former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who had called demonetization “organised plunder and legalised loot”. Modi quoted his comments made in 1991 to say that he once used “language of threat” against tax evaders but his voice has completely changed now. “Why? Because he is worried about his party not country,” Modi said of Singh.The Prime Minister also cited the Supreme Court’s observations against the UPA government over lack of action against black money to make his point. “In our country, ruckus in Parliament or not letting it function had happened earlier too. It was a little longer this time. But there is an essential difference. Earlier, ruckus and disruptions happened because of massive scams and graft and the opposition would unite and fight on the principle of honesty. This is the first time when treasury benches have taken a step against corruption and many in the Opposition have come together to support the dishonest,” he said.Political values have fallen so much that opposition parties are brazenly speaking in favour of the dishonest, something that used to be done earlier secretively, he said. Amid reports that continuing hardships faced by the masses in withdrawing money from banks and ATMs have dented the early public support for the measure, Modi told party leaders that they have to fight to rid the country of corruption and black money with confidence.He asked them to popularise the government’s thrust on digital transactions as a “way of life”, saying those who are aware of the exercise should be made to use it.Noting that the Wanchoo Committee in 1971 had recommended demonetization, he cited a book to say that when the then Finance Minister YB Chavan went to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and supported the exercise, she asked, “Only one question. Are no elections to be fought by the Congress party?” “Tell me,” Modi wondered, “if the party is bigger or the country,” as he accused Congress of putting its interests before the country’s. BJP puts the country’s interests before the party’s, he said.Painting Congress as a votary of corruption, he said it had made a law against benami assets in 1988 but never notified it or framed rules and regulations, ensuring that the legislation never came into force. Though Congress followed by the Left were at the receiving end of his scathing attack, the Prime Minister made few references to regional parties like SP, BSP and TMC which have been targeting him over the decision. Lamenting the lack of debate in Parliament, Modi said it would be good had the government’s critics shown strength to start a discussion on merit.He also expressed gratitude to Odisha and Bihar chief ministers Navin Patnaik and Nitish Kumar for their “open support” to the demonetization decision despite their ideological differences with BJP. The decision to declare Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes as invalid is an important step in his government’s fight against black money but is not the final destination, he said. If the middle class is to be rid of exploitation and the poor to be restored their rights, then “courageous decisions” will have to be taken to remove black money and corruption, he added.His government, Modi asserted, will take action against benami transactions and then Congress will again shout that it is a “very hasty” decision. He told party MPs that it is their primary responsibility to push digital transactions and suggested that demonetization was a part of the gamut of decisions he has planned in this regard to curb black money. “We do not think in parts. There is a full scale design. It is only that we show our cards gradually,” he said, reiterating that people’s woes will gradually begin to ease out after 50 days since demonetization was announced.Facing criticism that a slew of measures taken by his government will give unbridled power to bureaucracy, he said he would not allow ‘afsarshahi’ (rule of bureaucrats) and has asked authorities to do no “postmortem” of people’s transactions prior to November 8 when the note ban decision was taken as they shift to the digital mode.Referring to reward schemes announced by the government as “Christmas gift” to customers and traders shifting to online platforms, he asked party leaders to promote them. Quoting ‘Chanakya Niti’, he said light-heartedly that the money collected through unfair means goes waste in the 11th year, a reference to the UPA’s 10-year-rule before he took office.On a day that marks the anniversary of Bangladesh’s liberation, Modi also targeted the opposition over its remarks on the army’s surgical strikes. The Opposition in 1971-72 did not seek evidence of the army’s valour unlike that of today, he said.

Mamata Banerjee, black flags and Congress hecklers: Urjit Patel gets fiery reception in Kolkata

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>RBI Governor Urjit Patel met West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee under the shadow of continuing protest by her ruling Trinamool Congress against demonetization.Patel told reporters after the hour-long meeting in the chief minister’s chamber in the state secretariat that the “meeting was good”.State Finance Minister Amit Mitra, finance secretary and home secretary were also present during the talks.Banerjee, who is at the forefront of the anti-demonetization protest, said that in the meeting she had expressed concern over people’s hardship and “political discrimination amongst states”.Earlier, Patel attended a meeting of the RBI central board at the bank’s regional office here where the TMC and CPI-M activists staged demonstration.Asked about the meeting, Banerjee told reporters, “I am satisfied with the meeting as I availed the opportunity to express views of the common people who are facing immense hardships”.”The Prime Minister, Parliament, nothing is available. No one is responding. He (Patel) is a direct man who is directly involved in all these… This is my satisfaction that at least I could express the views and explain the situation,” she said.”The RBI is a big institution. We respect it. It should not be politically misused,” Banerjee said adding that though the governor did not answer anything, he had heard her.”There is nothing that could be answered. He was here for an hour and listened to me. And whatever I have said was the problem of the common people. I spoke on the basis of documentation,” she added.Banerjee also asked Patel to give information on the distribution of currencies to different states on RBI’s website “to maintain transparency”.On being asked if during the meeting Patel agreed that the implementation was wrong, the TMC chief said, “look, I don’t think that as a government officer he (Patel) can say that but I think silence is sometimes golden”.Banerjee also said that the meeting with Patel was a “routine one” and that the appointment for it had been sought “before demonetization was announced” by the Centre. The chief minister also handed over a letter to Patel in which she said, “as the Governor of RBI, an autonomous institution with a great history, which issues currencies to the nation, we expect you to stand up against the demonetization onslaught against the common people of the nation at this moment of crisis, rather than falling silent and remaining opaque”.”We would also like to know from you the nature of allocation of new currency to each of the states in a spirit of transparency and accountability, since there are serious concerns of political discrimination amongst states,” the letter said. She said the whole country is going through “unprecedented misery and suffering” due to the “cruel misadventure” of demonetization which has not been seen in any modern democracy.”You are perhaps aware that already five crore workers across the country and across the sectors are facing unemployment and hunger. Unorganised sector of the country which provides 2/3rd jobs in the country has literally collapsed,” the letter read.”The small and medium enterprises are shutting down shops in lakhs. The massive trading sector of the economy has been brought down to its knees due to cash crunch, unable to conduct its business,” it added.”The farmers of our nation are going through a trauma never seen before and that too not due to natural calamity but due to a man-made disaster of massive demonetization. Even the middle and large industries have dropped their production by at least 50 per cent.”Agriculture, food sector, vegetable sector, small traders to shopkeepers, small vendors to 100 day MNREGA workers, small scale to big industry, unorganised to I-T sector, it is everywhere, the common people across the board are deeply suffering. All development work has come to a standstill due to cash crunch. You also know that plastic card is not fool-proof and 92 per cent of the villages in the country have no banks,” she said.Banerjee said that every major economist including Nobel laureates have come out strongly against demonetization, cutting across theoretical leanings.”You are aware that the economy is getting derailed and growth rates of GDP are being revised downwards every other day,” she wrote in the letter. Congress protesters heckles Patel: Chanting slogans like “Urjit Patel go back” and “Urjit Patel hai, hai”, over a dozen protesters tried to block his way when he stepped out of a car at the airport on his way back to Mumbai.The protesters came too close for Patel’s comfort as he started walking towards the entrance of the airport terminal.Policemen accompanying him were seen pushing away the agitators and securing the way for the RBI governor, who earlier in the day attended a meeting of RBI board at the central bank’s office here where TMC and CPI-M staged demonstrations. Even after he had entered the terminal building, the protesters were seen raising slogans.Police said he was also shown black flags by the protesters.He also met Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, one of the harshest critics of the demonetisation exercise, who voiced concern over the hardship faced by people and “political discrimination amongst states”.

Mamata Banerjee meets RBI Governor Urjit Patel, expresses concern over note ban

Kolkata: Amid protests by Trinamool Congress against demonetisation, RBI Governor Urjit Patel on Thursday met Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during which she expressed concern over hardship faced by people and “political discrimination among states”.

“The meeting was good,” Patel told reporters at the state secretariat after meeting Banerjee.

Earlier, Patel attended a meeting of RBI central board at the apex bank’s office here where TMC and CPM staged demonstrations.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. File photo. PTI

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. File photo. PTI

When asked about the meeting, Banerjee told reporters, “I am satisfied with the meeting (with Patel)”. “I availed the opportunity to express views of the common people of the country who are facing immense hardships (due to demonetisation)… The prime minister, Parliament, nothing is available. No one is responding. He (Patel) is a direct man,” she said.

“RBI is a big institution. We respect it. It should not be politically misused,” Banerjee said.

The TMC chief also handed over a letter to Patel in which she said, “As the governor of RBI, an autonomous institution with a great history, which issues currencies to the nation, we expect you to stand up against this demonetisation onslaught against the common people of the nation at this moment of crisis, rather than falling silent and remaining opaque”.

“We would also like to know from you the nature of allocation of new currency to each of the states in a spirit of transparency and accountability, since there are serious concerns of political discrimination among states,” the letter said.

The whole country, she said, is going through “unprecedented misery and suffering” due to the “cruel
misadventure” of demonetisation which has not been seen in any modern democracy.

“You are perhaps aware that already five crore workers across the country and across the sectors are facing
unemployment and hunger. Unorganised sector of the country which provides 2/3rd jobs in the country has literally collapsed,” Banerjee said in the letter.

“The small and medium enterprises are shutting down shops in lakhs. The massive trading sector of the economy has been brought down to its knees due to cash crunch, unable to conduct its business.”

The farmers of our nation are going through a trauma never seen before and that too not due to natural calamity but due to a man-made disaster of massive demonetisation. Even the middle and large industries have dropped their production by at least 50 per cent,” she added.

First Published On : Dec 15, 2016 19:45 IST

Demonetization: Mamata meets RBI governor Urjit Patel, complains about ‘political discrimination amongst states’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Amidst protests by Trinamool Congress against demonetization, RBI Governor Urjit Patel met Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during which she expressed concern over hardship faced by people and “political discrimination amongst states”. “The meeting was good,” Patel told reporters at the state secretariat after meeting Banerjee. Earlier, Patel attended a meeting of RBI central board at the apex bank’s office here where TMC and CPI-M staged demonstrations. When asked about the meeting, Banerjee told reporters, “I am satisfied with the meeting (with Patel)”.”I availed the opportunity to express views of the common people of the country who are facing immense hardships (due to demonetization)… The Prime Minister, Parliament, nothing is available. No one is responding. He (Patel) is a direct man,” she said.”RBI is a big institution. We respect it. It should not be politically misused,” Banerjee said.The TMC chief also handed over a letter to Patel in which she said, “as the governor of RBI, an autonomous institution with a great history, which issues currencies to the nation, we expect you to stand up against this demonetization onslaught against the common people of the nation at this moment of crisis, rather than falling silent and remaining opaque”.”We would also like to know from you the nature of allocation of new currency to each of the states in a spirit of transparency and accountability, since there are serious concerns of political discrimination amongst States,” the letter said.The whole country, she said, is going through “unprecedented misery and suffering” due to the “cruel misadventure” of demonetization which has not been seen in any modern democracy.”You are perhaps aware that already five crore workers across the country and across the sectors are facing unemployment and hunger. Unorganised sector of the country which provides 2/3rd jobs in the country has literally collapsed,” Banerjee said in the letter.”The small and medium enterprises are shutting down shops in lakhs. The massive trading sector of the economy has been brought down to its knees due to cash crunch, unable to conduct its business.”The farmers of our nation are going through a trauma never seen before and that too not due to natural calamity but due to a man-made disaster of massive demonetization. Even the middle and large industries have dropped their production by at least 50 per cent,” she added. SCH SUN KK ASV

I am sorry, but nobody takes Rahul Gandhi seriously: Shivraj Singh Chouhan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Launching a counter attack on Rahul Gandhi for calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi ‘corrupt’, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Thursday said he feels really sorry that nobody in this country takes the Congress vice-president seriously nor does anyone trust him, and thus, his remarks don’t deserve any comment.”I really feel sorry that nobody in this country takes Rahul Gandhi seriously. His talks are not serious and nobody trusts his words. So, how do you expect me to comment on his remarks,” Chouhan said.”As far as the Prime Minister is concerned, he is a ‘yugapurush’, ‘nishkam karmayogi’ and a patriot, and he never thinks of anything else except for the betterment of the country and welfare of the people. His personality is so enormous and his works are such that the entire nation is rallying behind him blindly, which is something that pains Rahul Gandhi a lot,” said Chouhan, while commenting on Gandhi’s statement that he has got some explosive information on personal corruption by the Prime Minister.”Rahul Gandhi finds it hard to believe how Modiji has become such a miracle and that is why he keeps on attacking him, though nobody takes him seriously and his comments are not worth answering. Modiji is Modiji,” said Chouhan, the three-time BJP Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh.The Congress vice-president yesterday said that he had “detailed” information about Prime Minister Modi’s “personal corruption”.”That information is personal information about Narendra Modi which I want to place in Lok Sabha. It is personal corruption of the prime minister… the PM is not allowing us to speak,” Gandhi said at a press conference along with NCP, Trinamool, RSP and DMK leaders after the Lok Sabha was adjourned.”The PM is personally terrified of me being allowed to open my mouth inside Lok Sabha because I have information…that is going to explode his balloon,” he added.The ruling BJP has, however, rejected Gandhi’s claim and said 125 crore people of the country have a liking for Prime Minister Modi as there is no question on his integrity.BJP general secretary Shrikant Sharma asked Gandhi to present the proof if he has any against the Prime Minister.

Demonetisation: Traders push for Narendra Modi’s cashless economy, chart roadmap

In a somewhat unexpected move, the trading community in India — the drivers of the country’s cash-based economy — has decided to throw its full weight behind Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s demonetisation move, by signalling its intention to turn India into a ‘less cash’ economy.

Responding to Modi’s clarion call for a ‘less cash economy’, the trading community — a section of the economy that thrives largely on cash transactions, and often bears the stigma of doing so to avoid paying taxes — has come up with a roadmap to give a push to digital transactions.

Keeping in mind the fact that in India 98 percent of small business units lack the ability to transact digitally, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has chalked out a ‘10-point plan’ with an aim to change the contours of traditional trade transaction methods — from cash payment to the digital platform.

Confederation of All India Traders has chalked out a ‘10-point plan’ to shift from cash payment to the digital platform. ReutersConfederation of All India Traders has chalked out a ‘10-point plan’ to shift from cash payment to the digital platform. Reuters

Confederation of All India Traders has chalked out a ‘10-point plan’ to shift from cash payment to the digital platform. Reuters

Going by an NSSO survey, that shows that out of 5.77 crore small business units in the country, approximately 5.66 crore lack the ability to transact digitally, the plan to initiate small traders into digital transaction mode seems to be a humongous task. Add to this existing infrastructure bottlenecks, like lack of electricity and non-availability of internet, and the plan to go digital looks even more difficult.

After more than a month of demonetisation, most people, including the Supreme Court and the ruling government’s larger political family, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, have raised questions over the faulty implementation of the move to root out black money. However, a large section of traders from across the country have come up with a plan to encourage cashless transactions, in effect giving a boost to demonetisation.

New Year’s Resolution

CAIT, an umbrella of more than 40,000 trade bodies and over six crore traders, has released a ‘white paper’ on ‘less cash transactions’. The resolution was reached at after two days of brain storming sessions in the national capital during the first week of December. The confederation will kick-start its initiatives across the country from January 2017.

“We’ll organise camps in the markets across the country, along with banks and digital payment solution providers, and train traders on how to go for digital payments. We’ll provide them various options ranging from e-wallet to point-of-sale machines, and the traders can choose what they want. Giving lectures in conferences won’t help. Both the government and CAIT have to handhold the traders,” CAIT’s national secretary general, Praveen Khandelwal told Firstpost.

CAIT’s road map for a ‘less-cash transaction model’

– Reach 50,000 trade leaders and create champions for promoting digital transactions; through them, reach out to 50 lakh traders across the country. More than 40,000 trade federations, associations and chambers have been roped in for this purpose.

– From January 2017, the CAIT, in association with banks and digital payment service operators will organise camps in markets etc.

– Adopt city/states to drive the ‘cashless policy’. CAIT will work on the lines of ‘100 smart cities’ and will aim to create at least 25 cashless cities over the three years.

– Organise workshops, seminars, training sessions and trader conferences for adoption of digital payments.

– Leverage social and digital media to create awareness.

– Focus on Tier-I, II and III cities and rural areas having no internet facility, so that a less-cash transaction system can be actualised.

– Seek government intervention and make local trade associations partners for training purposes.

– Engage with academics, economists, think-tanks and key influencers to communicate the value of e-payments among traders.

– Make shops a point-of-information to create help create awareness on digital payments.

“We’ve submitted a white paper along with our suggestions both to the government and the NITI Aayog. Besides, trade bodies, the government which has resources and a large network, needs to play a proactive role to educate and train traders to operate on the digital payment system. Besides, the government should also provide incentives at the merchant level to encourage the initiative,” Khandelwal said.

Deterrents

Transaction cost: Traders have mentioned the cost of transacting online as the biggest deterrent in the adoption of the digital payment system. While the transaction cost for debit card payment is limited to one percent, in credit cards, it ranges from one to two percent.

“The trader hesitates to pay transaction costs from his profit…it’s an additional burden on the customer. We’ve suggested to the government to subsidise the cost to the banks, e-wallet and mobile application operators,” Khandelwal said.

Security: Traders fear that their accounts accounts might get hacked. CAIT has demanded that the government and digital solution providers ensure that a security complaint system is put in place.

Lack of electricity and internet penetration: Technical issues can limit the spread of the digital payment net and can therefore reduce its efficacy as a replacement to cash payments.

Traditional mindset of traders: In spite of the countless safety measures and the ease of convenience, the mere fact that India has depended on cash forever has seeped into the inherent mindset of many traders. They trust what they can see, what they can hold and electronic money invokes an uneasy feeling among the more traditional traders.

“By organising seminars, camps and lectures, we’re trying to convince traders and small vendors to adopt a digital payment system. Once the Goods and Service Tax (GST) regime gets implemented, digital payment will be mandatory and there will be no transaction in cash or through cheques. Sooner or later, one has to go for it, so why not now. This will also help in creating a transparent business environment and will get rid of the stigma that the trading community indulges in dubious and unaccounted financial transactions,” Khandelwal said.

First Published On : Dec 15, 2016 07:18 IST

Preserve CCTV footages to spot currency hoarders: RBI to banks

Mumbai: RBI has asked banks to preserve CCTV recordings of operations at bank branches and currency chests to help law enforcement agencies in identifying people engaged in hoarding of new notes post demonetisation.

The Reserve Bank, in a notification issued today, said banks should “preserve CCTV recordings of operations at bank branches and currency chests for the period from 8 November to 30 December, 2016, until further instructions”.

The central bank said the move will “facilitate coordinated and effective action by the enforcement agencies in dealing with matters relating to illegal accumulation of new currency notes”.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Earlier in October, the RBI had asked banks to cover the banking hall/area and counters under CCTV surveillance and recording and preserve the recording to help identify people abetting circulation of counterfeit notes.

After demonetisation, there have been reports of hoarding of new currency notes by unscrupulous elements at various bank branches across the country.

The Income-Tax Department is carrying out raids across the country on a regular basis since demonetisation to nab new currency hoarders and several people, both individuals as well as bank officials, have been booked so far for carrying out such illegal activities.

The government has said abolishment of these high denomination banknotes is intended to bring back unaccounted money into the system, curb fake currency circulation as well as to deter terror financing.

First Published On : Dec 13, 2016 17:38 IST

Demonetisation: ADB slashes India’s 2016 growth estimate to 7%

New Delhi: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) today trimmed its 2016 growth estimate for India to 7 percent from the previous 7.4 percent on account of demonetisation, weak investment and agricultural slowdown.

ReutersReuters

Reuters

But India’s growth forecast for 2017 was kept at 7.8 percent.

“Economic growth in developing Asia remains broadly stable, but a slight slowdown in India has trimmed the region’s growth outlook for 2016,” said the new ADB report.

In a supplement to its Asian Development Outlook 2016 Update report, ADB has downgraded 2016 growth for Asia to 5.6 percent, below its previous projection of 5.7 percent. For 2017, growth remains unchanged at 5.7 percent.

“India’s tempered growth projection to 7 percent from the previously forecast 7.4 percent in 2016 is due to weak investments, a slowdown in the country’s agriculture sector, and lack of available cash due to the government’s decision to ban high-denomination banknotes,” ADB said.

The junking of old 500 and 1,000 rupee notes will likely affect largely cash-based sectors in the country, including small- and medium-scale businesses.

“The effects of the transition are expected to be short- lived and the Indian economy is expected to grow at 7.8 percent in 2017,” it said.

ADB said South Asia is the most dynamic part of the region, with growth expected at 6.6 per cent this year, down from the previous forecast of 6.9 percent. South Asia’s
growth is estimated at 7.3 percent in 2017.

China, it said, is on course to grow 6.6 percent this year and 6.4 percent in 2017.

First Published On : Dec 13, 2016 12:18 IST

Demonetization is ‘vasectomy’ of black money hoarders: Rajnath Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘notebandi’ decision has resulted in ‘nasbandi’ for anti-national elements and hoarders of black money.”To control the menace of terrorism, separatism and Naxalism, the Prime Minister took the demonetisation decision.”However, some people are making fun of it by terming it as ‘nasbandi’ (vasectomy). If we have cut anyone’s ‘nas’, it is that of terrorists, Naxalites and people who hoard black money,” Rajnath said.He said the decision had been taken in the larger interest of the country, and appealed to people to cooperate with the move.”Prime Minister has stated that he needs 50 days and after that the situation would improve,” Rajnath said.The Home Minister also stressed that the nation would always stand united, in the face of any external adversity, leaving behind caste and religion.”There is no dearth of people in India who want to sacrifice their life for the country. No power in the world can think of harming the integrity of the nation,” he said.On the occasion, Singh also remembered the sacrifice of freedom fighters who laid down their lives in service of the country.

401 cadets pass out of Indian Military Academy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A total of 401 gentleman passed out of Indian Military Academy (IMA) in Dehradun in a colourful Passing Out Parade, as rose petals were showered from a chopper, carpeting the institutes’s tarmac drill square. Addressing the gentlemen cadets after reviewing a colourful Passing Out Parade performed by them, Deputy Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen Narinder Pal Singh Hira said they were privileged to have trained at the IMA considered the best in the field and asked them to make optimum use of the skills learnt here in serving the country.Reminding them that the IMA alumni had served the country in various wars including the 1971 conflict with Pakistan and the Kargil war, he asked the gentlemen cadets to draw inspiration from them and be ready to sacrifice everything for the country. “You walk into the footsteps of officers who served the country with great courage in 1962 war and the subsequent wars fought in 1965, 1971 and the Kargil war.You should draw inspiration from them. IMA instills the best qualities in its cadets and you should try to make optimum use of them in serving your country,” he said.Noting that infiltration bids from across the country’s western borders continue, he said India has always given a “befitting reply to such attempts and will continue to do so.” He said some countries may be better than India in terms of military equipment but no army in the world can match the Indian troops in bravery, discipline and military skills. “The Indian troops enjoy a qualitative edge over their counterparts anywhere in the world because of their capabilities,” he said.The Sword of Honour went to Academy Under Officer Pratyush Mohanty and the Gold medal to Academy Cadet Adjutant Malla Rajagopal Naidu. Out of the 401 gentlemen cadets the maximum 77 are from Uttar Pradesh, 46 from Haryana, 29 from Uttarakhand, 28 from Bihar and 26 from Rajasthan.

Mehbooba Mufti says J&K safest for tourists, invites people to visit state

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Days after separatist groups invited tourists to the Valley, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday called upon the people of the country to visit the state and enjoy its hospitality, saying that it was the safest place in the world for tourists.”Jammu and Kashmir is the safest place not only in the country but the whole world for tourists and especially for women. You can move around here without any fear even during nights and nothing untoward will happen to you,” Mehbooba said while speaking at a function in Srinagar.She said that women face many hardships in other places in the country but her government would not let them face any hardships in the state. “We get to know what happens to women in broad daylight in other places, compared to that women can come here either by themselves or in groups. We will take good care of them and would not let them face any hardship,” she said.The chief minister said that her government would offer exciting packages to the tourists and invited them to visit the state along with their families. “The atmosphere here is also very good, the place is picturesque and then snowfall is in the offing and I would like to invite all the people of the country to visit Kashmir and enjoy our hospitality. Kashmir is calling you all. We will offer exciting packages. We will organise a snow festival at Gulmarg in January, so I request the people of the country to visit Kashmir along with their children,” she said.Mehbooba’s invite comes days after separatists made an appeal to tourists to visit the Valley, saying tourists and pilgrims from the world, including India, who intend to visit Kashmir were most welcome. “From centuries, Kashmiris have been safeguarding and providing exemplary hospitality and safety to tourists and Yatris from the world, including India, as we have been taught hospitality, humanity and safeguarding the rights of guests by our great religion.”Tourists and Yartris from the world, including India, who intend to visit Kashmir are most welcome,” the separatists said in a statement on December 6.Since the agitation broke out in July, tourism-related activities have come to a standstill in Kashmir.

Bengal govt bars state univ VCs from attending Javadekar’s conference, BJP lashes out

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP on Thursday accused the TMC-led West Bengal government of trying to “subvert federal structure” of the country after Vice Chancellors of the state universities were barred from attending a video-conference by Union HRD minister on digital economy.”They (Bengal government) behave as constitutional experts, while giving lectures on federal structure. But when it comes to preaching what they say, they are the first to back out,” BJP National Secretary Rahul Sinha told PTI. “By preventing the VCs to attend the conference on digital economy held by Union HRD minister Prakash Javadekar, they are trying to subvert the federal structure of the country. While the TMC themselves will not respect the federal structure, they will not hesitate lecturing others,” he said.”The country has given a mandate to BJP for five years. The TMC government has to follow the rules of the federal structure where the Central government is the pivot holding the entire country. Thus, TMC should not behave as a separate country or entity,” Sinha said. In the wake of the Centre’s demonetization move, the HRD Ministry is planning a month-long campaign, beginning December 12, to spread awareness about digital transactions among university students and teachers across the country.The Union HRD Minister today held a meeting through video conferencing with nearly 670 Vice Chancellors and senior officials dealing with higher education in states. The VCs from West Bengal gave it a miss after state Education Minister Partha Chatterjee yesterday directed them not to attend the programme, citing the ongoing examinations and preparations of students elections in state universities.

Shiv Sena backs Giriraj Singh on sterilisation remarks

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP’s ally Shiv Sena backed Union Minister Giriraj Singh on Thursday over his controversial remarks on sterilisation and said he hadn’t done anything wrong in expressing his views. “What he said was right. However, instead of merely harping on sterilisation, he should demand implementation of common civil code in the country,” the Sena said.”The monster of population explosion is swallowing up the country. The proportion of Muslims in this population rise is more,” an editorial in Sena mouthpiece Saamana said. Singh, who is the Minister of State for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, had recently said that after ‘notebandi’ (demonetization), there is an urgent need to make laws for ‘nasbandi’ (sterilisation) in the country. “India has 17% of the world population which adds population equal to Australia every year. The country only has 2.5% of land mass of the globe with only 4.2% of water resources. In this scenario, the population explosion is proving to be a big roadblock for development. We need a population control act to tide over the problem,” Singh had said.

After demonetization, Union Minister Giriraj backs sterilisation, faces criticism from opposition

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Union Minister Giriraj Singh has advocated ‘nasbandi’ (sterilisation) after demonetization for population control to spur development, but the idea was today trashed by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who said the country has seen the effect of such a move in the past.The Union Minister of State for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) had come up with the idea yesterday and said that after “notebandi” (demonetization), there is an urgent need to make laws for “nasbandi” (sterilisation) in the country. “India has 17 per cent of the world population which adds population equal to Australia every year. The country only has 2.5 per cent of land mass of the globe with only 4.2 per cent of water resources. In this scenario, the population explosion in the country is proving to be a big roadblock for development. We need a population control act to tide over the problem,” Singh had said.He had also reportedly talked about sterilisation to control the population growth at a function in his Nawada parliamentary constituency earlier.Chief Minister Nitish Kumar trashed the idea as “bakwaas” (nonsense).”The country has seen effect of nasbandi earlier,” he said, referring to the mandatory sterilisation drive during the Emergency period.Singh’s party BJP, however, chose to remain cautious over his remark. The party sought to distance itself from the word ‘nasbandi’, but asserted the need for birth control for nation’s development.”There may be some differences while choosing words to communicate one’s message. What Giriraj Singh meant to say is to have birth control measures in order to check population explosion. This is the government’s policy to go for birth control. Even some social organisations work in the field… I am not saying anything on nasbandi,” Bihar BJP president Nityanand Rai told PTI.Leaders from other parties slammed Singh for the remark, saying he is merely trying to create a sensation by making such statements. Bihar Congress president and minister Ashok Choudhary said, “People like Giriraj Singh, who belong to an ideology, are trying to create a sensation in the society by making such statements. If they are really concerned about the nation’s development, they should correct it through policy measures…He is trying to sow division in the society.” Stating that both the Central and state governments have already taken a lot of effective steps to check population, Choudhary said, “It has been found that wherever female literacy level is high, fertility rate is low and vice-versa. We are trying to create that kind of system and hence, the state government has decided to open 10+2 school in every panchayat.” RJD spokesman Mrityunjay Tiwari said Singh was known for his controversial statements.”No one takes note of his statements. He must respect the dignity of the post of minister,” he said.

Giriraj Singh’s ‘mass sterilisation’ remark will back fire on BJP: JD (U)

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Reprimanding Union Minister Giriraj Singh over his assertion for ‘mass sterilisation’ in the country, the Janata Dal (United) on Monday said this move will definitely back fire on the ruling BJP that has created an environment of distrust and chaos in the country.”It is not sure whether there would be an increase in the number of people going for sterilisation, but it is sure that this will definitely back fire on the BJP (Bade paimaane pe nasbandi hone ki yojana laagu hogi ki nhi lekin BJP ki toh nasbandi ho jayegi is yojana se),”JD (U) leader Ali Anwar said.Anwar said the plan to conduct mass sterilisation will fall flat as similar exercise undertaken by Congress leader and former prime minister Indira Gandhi’s son Sanjay Gandhi did not succeed as well in the late 1970s.”If they want to run the Parliament then the government has to bring the opposition into confidence? Everyone wants the Parliament to run but the kind of situation that is prevailing is very gloomy. The PM is speaking outside the Parliament but not inside the House. This type of environment of distrust and chaos in country is not good,” he added.Giriraj Singh, who is the Minister of State for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, on Sunday said after ‘notebandi’ (demonetization), there is an urgent need to make laws for ‘nasbandi’ (sterilisation) in the country.Singh said all sections of the society should adopt this practice to control population in the country.

Demonetisation: How Narendra Modi changed the currency ban narrative

By Praveen Chakravarty

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation on November 8, 2016 to announce the withdrawal of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.

The speech (in English) lasted 25 minutes. The Prime Minister uttered the phrase “black money” 18 times in this speech. He mentioned “fake currency” or “counterfeit” five times in the same speech.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AFP

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AFP

It was unambiguously clear from the Prime Minister’s speech that the primary motivation for the sudden withdrawal of nearly 86% of the country’s currency was the evil of black money.

The next day, the papers termed it a “war on black money”. PayTM, a mobile payment app, hailed the decision with a full-page ad and the Prime Minister left for Japan.

By the time the Prime Minister returned from Japan, the move had been christened “demonetisation” in English, “notebandi” in Hindi and there was a war-time like rationing of currency in the country.

The Prime Minister made six speeches across the country on the demonetisation policy between November 13 and November 27, including his radio address to the nation, Mann Ki Baat, according to data available on the Prime Minister’s personal website. The text of all the speeches are available on the website.

A data analysis of the speeches (after translation) reveals a shifting of the narrative of the demonetisation action and its objectives.

In his speech on November 8, 2016, when he announced the demonetisation policy, the Prime Minister used the phrase “black money” four times more than “fake/counterfeit currency”.

By November 27, he used the phrase “digital/cashless” thrice as much as “black money” with no mention of “fake currency”. Recall, there was zero mention of “digital/cashless” in the initial November 8 speech.

The chart below shows the ratio of the three narratives–“black money”, “fake currency” and “cashless/digital pay”–in each of the Prime Minister’s speeches over three weeks and seven speeches.

In other words, in the same speech, how many times did the Prime Minister use each of these phrases to describe the reasons for demonetisation which can be used as a proxy to understand what the Prime Minister believes was the primary objective for this mammoth exercise.

The saffron line representing the “cashless/digital” phrase in the Prime Minister’s speeches went from 0 in the November 8 speech to a 73% ratio in the November 27 speech.

The green line representing the phrase “fake currency” went from 22% to 0 in the same period suggesting the Prime Minister no longer believes that terror financing was the primary or secondary driver of this demonetisation exercise.

IndiaSpend-Logo11

The black line representing the phrase “black money” went from a high of a 80% ratio on November 8 to only 27% on November 27. Apparently, it is no longer a “war on black money” but instead a “war on all currency” to go cashless.

So, between November 8 and November 27, the objective for the demonetisation exercise has swung from black money elimination to going cashless, as evident in the Prime Minister’s speeches.

To be sure, urging citizens to use less cash and resort to digital transactions is a laudable objective and must certainly be encouraged. But when a decision was taken to remove a whopping 86% of the country’s currency overnight with all its attendant costs, one would have hoped there was one strong rationale for it, even if it meant achieving multiple objectives.

Either the Prime Minister has realised that the original primary objective of eliminating black money may not be met or there was not adequate thought behind the decision. Either way, it is worrisome.

(Chakravarty is Senior Fellow in Political Economy at IDFC Institute & Founding Trustee, IndiaSpend. Author thanks Puja Das of IndiaSpend for help with Hindi translation.)

(Indiaspend.com is a data-driven, public-interest journalism non-profit.)

First Published On : Dec 5, 2016 10:11 IST

‘Judiciary’s over-enthusiasm’: Experts weigh in on SC order on National Anthem

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court order directing cinema halls to play the national anthem before screening to “instill committed patriotism and nationalism” has received mixed reactions from legal experts with a few terming it as “judiciary’s over-enthusiasm” and others saying playing it and respecting it won’t cause any harm. While former Attorney General and noted lawyer Soli Sorabjee said courts cannot direct the public to stand up and do anything, senior advocate K T S Tulsi said judiciary should not go into the areas which does not belong to it.However, Meenakshi Lekhi, a lawyer and BJP MP from New Delhi constituency, has no reservation on the Supreme Court order saying respecting the anthem “causes no harm”.”National anthem is sung at various places like schools, public functions, events etc. What’s the harm in playing it at another venue? It causes no harm and it is natural to stand up when the anthem is played,” she said.Tulsi and senior advocate K K Venugopal were of the view that this order could lead to law-and-order problem as it would be difficult for theatre owners to make people stand especially children and elderly viewers or those who are physically challenged.Sorabjee, who termed the order as judiciary’s over enthusiasm, said, “They can give directions to the executive government to amend the acts. But they can’t give directions by themselves to stand up, to do this, do that.” Lekhi said the law is clear about the national anthem as it was already mentioned in the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act. “The court had just read the law,” she said, adding that people living in the country must abide by the law of the land. Meanwhile, Tulsi reminded the judiciary that its primary responsibility is “adjudication”. “Courts must think through on what is their jurisdiction.Their primary responsibility is adjudication. Adjudication is getting delaying for decades and we are going into areas which don’t belong to us,” he said.”I don’t agree with the judgement at all. Firstly it’s not the function of the courts to decide what public behaviour is ought to be. It will create a huge problem to ensure that the national anthem is not disrespected,” Tulsi said, adding some persons may even overreact and may result in a fist fight when a disabled-man or somebody chose not to stand up.Lekhi also said respecting the anthem is secular and added every law has its foundation in the Constitution of the country. “The way every country exists depends upon the law of the country. Law of the land and Constitution is unbreachable,” she added. “When we can claim the Freedom of Religion, Speech and Expression and other Fundamental Freedoms under the Constitution, why can’t we obey the Fundamental Duties under the same,” she asked. Venugopal expressed views similar to Tulsi, echoing concerns of theatre owners that they would not be able to make people stand and said the court could have recommended the amendment of Cinematograph Rules. “The theatre owners would not be able to make people stand, therefore it would have been more appropriate if the court had recommended the government to amend Cinematograph Rules to provide for the playing of the national anthem and the compulsion to stand while it is being played,” he said.The apex court in its November 30 order had said, “A time has come when citizens of the country must realise that they live in a nation and are duty-bound to show respect to the national anthem which is the symbol of constitutional patriotism and inherent national quality.” The bench, which passed the order on a PIL, had also issued a slew of directions to ensure respect for anthem while it would be played in the cinema halls which included the closure of entry and exit doors so as to avoid any kind of disturbance.The Centre had said that the anthem has to be respected and assured the bench that the order of the court would be circulated to the chief secretaries of all the states and Union territories.

Opinion: I love my country but here’s why I disagree with SC’s National Anthem order

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Earlier in 2016, the entire nation was enthralled with a students of Jawaharlal Nehru University. This had become the most-talked about news item for some time, and several political figures even labelled the organisers of an event ‘anti-national’. From the students’ arrest to their court trial, everything was under the microscope. And now, as the year 2016 draws to the close, a Supreme Court order pertaining to the national anthem, has made us ponder over the nationalism debate again.Since childhood, we’ve been taught that some entities deserve more respect than others, like our elders, books, gods and the nation. Hailing from a Bengali family, I was told to touch the feet of uncles, aunts, grandfathers and grandmothers and take their blessing. I never complained as a child, but as I grew up, I did not have the same feeling of looking up to some of those elders, in fact in my teenage years in the angst of the rebellion boiling inside me, I even expressed that I do not like them. But on every social occasion where I met those people, it was expected of me to touch their feet. At times, when it absolutely could not be avoided, I obliged, under duress. Was it just a symbolic gesture or does it still count as a sign of respect? Is it still respect if its forced upon me?We also undergo a similar kind of conditioning in school, where we are taught to stand when a teacher enters the classroom. It’s something that’s indoctrinated in us, and it became a habit that had been inculcated into us since childhood. And things changed in college. One day a cool professor walked inside the classroom in college one day and we, all the students, stood up while talking to each other or checking our mobile phones without even paying any attention to the teacher. The professor stood there as we took our seats without saying a word, some looking for their copies, some busy checking WhatsApp, some fidgeting with their pens. And then he asked us why we stood up when he entered?He reminded us that gesture is a sign of respect, which we clearly lacked when he walked in. We were left speechless. And the teacher taught us to do things out of respect, and not just because we are expected to do those. We all stood up again when he entered for his next class and thereafter, and none of us stood without feeling the immense respect and love for that professor/teacher.The idea of just following a custom mechanically and meaning the sentiment or feeling attached to it are different and will always remain the same. I do respect my country, and no I’m not an anti-national for having an opinion.There have been times when I walked inside some theatre in the middle of the national anthem with my hand full of popcorn or just gasping for breath after running to catch that show. And yes, I did not stand. I looked for my seat or just sat there getting ready for the movie that I went to watch in the first place.At times people passed comments seeing me sitting while the national anthem was playing. I never paid any attention to those comments because I knew in my heart that I respect my country and the national anthem. And I like to believe that my regard for the country is substantially more than them, because I was at least not pretending to stand straight and noticing whether others are following the custom or not. Isn’t talking and judging people and passing comments a bigger sign of disrespect?When I heard the news that all movie theatres are henceforth directed to play the national anthem, I was silent for a moment but then I burst out laughing. Theatres and halls across the country screen a variety of movies. In fact, there are halls where women don’t even dare to go. Who’s going to see whether those people are standing up or not? And even if they do, will they do it out of respect? Or stand up with the fear of the court working at the back of their mind. I love my country, but isn’t it time we ask ourselves how some order has become the parameter to measure our feelings and love and respect? I love my country, but I have seen others tagging a students’ movement as ‘anti-national’ earlier this year. I love my country, but I have seen too much pain and suffering of the people. I love my country, but I do not think I need to prove it to anyone. I do not think that anybody or anything, be it a court directive or a group of people, can tell how I should exhibit that love.

National Anthem: Forcing citizens to honour nation is greatest insult to India’s honour

What does it mean to love one’s country? Tagore clearly loved his country. He loved it so much that he wrote a song called Bhārat Bhāgya Vidhātā in the year 1911 about an eternal charioteer guiding his country through the ages and dispensing it’s destiny. On 24 January, 1950, the President of the Constituent Assembly of India, Rajendra Prasad made a statement in the house declaring that Jana Gana Mana was to be the National Anthem of our new republic and it has stood us well over the years.

The National Anthem of India does not find reference in the constitution save a reference made in Article 51A wherein citizens are called upon to respect it. The Constitution of India does not entrench the National Anthem and neither does it entrench the National Flag. These being highly emotive issues are not formalised either by virtue of legislation but are based on a broad consensus that is recognised by the executive. To quote the President of the Constituent Assembly on January 24, 1950:

“There is one matter which has been pending for discussion, namely the question of the National Anthem. At one time it was thought that the matter might be brought up before the House and a decision taken by the House by way of a resolution. But it has been felt that, instead of taking a formal decision by means of a resolution, it is better if I make a statement with regard to the National Anthem. Accordingly I make this statement. The composition consisting of the words and music known as Jana Gana Mana is the National Anthem of India, subject to such alterations in the words as the Government may authorise as occasion arises; and the song Vande Mataram, which has played a historic part in the struggle for Indian freedom, shall be honoured equally with Jana Gana Mana and shall have equal status with it. (Applause). I hope this will satisfy the Members.” 

Since then the Government of India has regulated the the National Anthem and how it is supposed to be sung by orders issued by the Ministry of Home affairs and this begs the question. Why is that something, that is of most manifest constitutional importance, is not entrenched in the Constitution? The Constitution of India is the longest Constitution of any country in the world and yet no where, not in any article or schedule has the national anthem been defined. The only thing we have is a statement of the President of the Constituent Assembly and the orders of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

There are legislations that protect the National Anthem, such as the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971 which provide protection to the National Anthem, thereby recognising its importance, but never entrenching it into law.

There has perhaps been no other fifty-two second piece of music that is more recognisable across the country and our national anthem has served its purpose as a symbol of national unity. But here’s what makes our national anthem different from God Save the Queen, or the Star Spangled Banner or La Marseillaise. Jana Gana Mana is not the assertion of India’s sovereignty. Jana Gana Mana is an assertion of thanks. When we sing Jana Gana Mana we give thanks to the Bhārat Bhāgya Vidhātā for guiding us through the last five thousand odd years of our civilisation and we ask for guidance in the future by praying for a victorious destiny. In some ways, it is a song of prayer.

The reason Jana Gana Mana is not entrenched in our Constitution or law as our national anthem is that Constitutions do not make nations, nations make constitutions and it is these nations that have anthems and symbols. The Constitution of India is a document of our Republic and our Republic is the product of our nation. India, that is Bharat, a nation of a diverse people, who each have their own unique way of giving thanks, their own unique way of singing Jana Gana Mana. For the song sings praise to Bhārat Bhāgya Vidhātā, who rules the minds of the people of India, the spirit of destiny existed well before our Constitution and will continue to exist long after it. When thousands of years have passed, and the buildings of the court houses in Delhi lie in dust, there will still remain a spirit that guides the destiny of the people who remain in this land and the spirit will still evoke the praise of her people. That’s the true meaning of Jana Gana Mana.

Jana Gana Mana is our anthem because India was a nation before the Constitution and will be a nation after it as well, India is a creature in the imagination of history and history does not need a piece of paper to gain validity. Neither the Flag of India nor the National Anthem of India have constitutional status nor do they have constitutional sanctity. They are merely symbols and we can by national consensus change them at any time.

To breathe the air of a free India where citizens can disregard them when they please because law recognises that sovereignty flows from the citizenry not the law, is a much greater symbol of our nationhood and no symbol, no matter how mighty or how revered can triumph that. The freedom of an Indian citizen must always take precedence over the reverence to a symbol. Which is why it being quite abhorrent, that India’s free citizens will now be required to stand and listen to it while watching a visual of a moving flag. For this means, that this wonderful and prayerful song, has become another washing powder Nirma ad. Something that will cue us to a mechanical response as it blares from the speakers. For no more will citizens of India be freely able to love their country when they sing this song without it being clouded the fear of the sanction of the law.

For love is free, including love for one’s country. Love by it’s very nature, is free. To make it mandatory that citizens of India honour their nation, is the greatest insult to India’s honour.

First Published On : Dec 2, 2016 14:46 IST

Congress never gave India a PM whose strategy is based on TRPs: Rahul lashes out at PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rahul Gandhi on Friday launched an all-out attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, accusing him of practising TRP politics and said the country has suffered damage due to his “vanity and incompetence”.Addressing MPs at the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) meeting in the absence of his mother Sonia Gandhi, who is indisposed, Rahul described the Prime Minister as being “a prisoner of his own image” and one who is inflicting “tremendous suffering” on the people of India to protect his own persona.With the opposition attacking the Prime Minister for not hearing them out in Parliament over demonetization, the Congress vice president said if Modi listened to the views of democratically elected members it could potentially prevent him from making the “catastrophic” policy mistakes he is currently making. “We never gave India a prime minister who bypassed the experience of those sitting in the institutions. The country has suffered tremendous damage as a result of the vanity and incompetence of our PM,” he charged.”The Congress never gave India a prime minister who was a prisoner of his own image. We never gave India a Prime Minister who was ready to inflict such tremendous suffering on the people of India to protect his own persona. We never gave India a prime minister who based his entire policy making strategy on TRP’s. Listening to the voices of the people of this country is the only thing that can free him from the clutches of his own image and make him an effective prime minister. Yet he consistently refuses to do so,” he continued.Accusing Modi of single-handedly declaring a war on the world’s fastest growing economy due to the “catastrophic experiment” of demonetization which is “badly conceived and incompetently implemented”, he said its results will soon be revealed to the entire world. Gandhi said the PM “confused” India’s entire cash economy with black economy and demonetized 86% of Indian bank notes and decided to experiment with the financial future of 1.3 billion people.”Every economist of repute has already condemned it and questioned its capacity to realise the goals it is supposed to achieve. Modiji has created a massive new corrupt black market that is working overtime to convert the black money to white,” he charged.”All cash is not black money and all black money is not cash,” he said, adding that instead of attacking black money, he attacked the very foundations of the country’s economy. Gandhi also accused”All cash is not black money and all black money is not cash,” he said, adding that instead of attacking black money, he attacked the very foundations of the country’s economy. Gandhi also accused Modi of sitting silently when Kashmir is burning and said he has “gifted massive political space” to anti-India forces by forging an alliance with PDP.”

National anthem to be played in theatres before movie plays, orders SC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered that the national anthem be played in all cinema halls across the country, before the movie is played, accompanied by national flag on screen.Acting on a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking directions, the top court also stated that that everyone present in the cinema halls must rise and pay respect to the national anthem.The court also directed that no commercial benefits be taken by a person by playing the anthem and there should not be dramatisation of the national anthem.The PIL was filed by Shyam Narayan Chouksey, who had sought directions that the national anthem be played in cinema halls across the country before a film begins and proper norms and protocol be fixed regarding playing and singing it at official functions and at programmes where constitutional dignitaries are present.The plea had also cited instances where the anthem was allegedly abused, including one in which the anthem was played in entertainment shows in order to “dramatise the whole thing”.The Centre has agreed to circulate the order to all states’ Chief Secretaries and also to publish it on electronic and print media.

The sentinel’s life: What it takes to be a part of the force that guards our frontiers

As we sit in the comforts of our homes and pay tributes to the fallen heroes of our country, the BSF jawans stand mute spectators to the glorification of the armymen. Cheena Kapoor writes on what it takes to be a part of the force that guards our frontiers, war or no war

Coal blocks allocation height of organised loot under UPA: Piyush Goyal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Lashing out at former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for his criticism of demonetization, Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal on said it was the UPA government who did the “height of organised loot and “mismanagement of economy” in allocation of coal blocks.Goyal delivered a speech on demonetization and its future effects on Indian economy at a city-based college.Singh had termed demonetization a “monumental management failure” and “organised loot” during a debate on the issue in Parliament.”If there was any height of organised loot and mismanagement of economy that had taken place, it had taken place during the allocation of coal block between 2006 and 2009 and if you read the files of coal allocation, you will come to know the magnitude of the scam as tremendous loot had taken place during the allocations and CAG, in their report, had mentioned of the loss of Rs 1,86,000 crore in these allocations,” said Goyal.He claimed that during the UPA government there was “competition over scams” like CWG, Adarsh, 2G, Augusta Westland.”When we are now acting against black money and corruption, the same person, who was leading the then government, who was custodian of all the system and an economist, is calling this historical move an ‘organise loot’,” he said.On the nation-wide protest called by Opposition tomorrow, he said any sane person in the country has understood that the people of the country have stood in the support of the decision.”The people of this country have shown immense faith and trust in Modiji and despite bearing hardships, everybody is saying that Modiji has done a good job,” he said.There will be benefits in the long run as the move will help eradicate unemployment, poverty in the country and farmers, women, underprivileged and unorganised sector will be benefited, he said.Asked about the government’s move against ‘benami properties’ he said in last three budgets, several moves were taken to fight against black money and corruption.”In future, you will see more thrust on ease of business and ease of taxation,” said Goyal.

Mann Ki Baat: PM Modi pitches for cashless economy even as job loss, subdued growth fear looms

Stressing upon the need to imbibe cashless economy in the system, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today urged people at large to embrace e-banking, mobile banking and other useful technologies for their daily transactions.

Addressing the nation through his monthly radio programme show “Mann ki Baat”, Modi urged the youth of India to take a pledge to become part of a ‘çashless society’ for a corruption less, black money-free India.

ReutersReuters

Reuters

“Poor started using Rupay card, which was not used that frequent, after 8 November decision and nearly 300 percent development happened,” Modi said in his radio programme.

For small traders, who have been facing the hardships due to the prevailing cash crunch in the system, Modi urged them to adopt cashless method. “I urge my trader brothers and sisters…this is an opportunity for them to enter the digital world,” said Modi, adding that adopting cashless economy will bring about a huge transformation in the country.

Modi has been more vocal about the usage of less cash and more digital technology-related transactions in the economy, given his decision earlier in the month (8 November) to demonetise high denomination currrencies of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes from the system to keep a check on the black money generation.

It has been estimated that people have exchanged and deposited over Rs 5.44 lakh crore worth of scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes at different banks till 18 November following demonetisation of the higher denomination currency.

Although the government’s demonetisation decision was welcomed by majority of the poeple across the country, the Centre, however, came under severe criticism from various political parties for not taking evasive measures to ease common man’s concerns.

Specifically, the decision led to severe cash shortage in the economy, with bank branches and ATMs frequently running out of cash in just few minutes time, thereby, leaving people hassled. With several ATMs for better period post the demonetisation announcement were not calibrated to dispense new cash denominations, people standing in long queues were forced to leave with little or no cash at times.

Reports of several people losing their lives standing in long queues to withdraw money triggered angry reactions from the masses with some even calling for the government to roll back the decision.

The government’s constant flip-flop on exchanging and depositing old cash notes in the bank branches, besides changing the limits on cash withdrawals created lot of confusion amongst the people.

Immidiately after the demonetisation announcement, the government first permitted people to exchange banned notes of up to Rs 4,000, with the exchange limit later being increased to Rs 4,500. The government also asked banks to start using indelible inks on customers exchanging old notes on fears that same people were going to different banks to exchange old notes.

A week later, the government reduced the exchange limit from Rs 4,500 to Rs 2,000. On cash withdrawal front, the government first allowed Rs 2,000 to be withdrawn before increasing it to Rs 4,000 per card. The government also kept changing the daily and weekly withdrawal cash limits at banks leading to lot of confusion among the people.

While the government has been hell bent on flushing out fake currencies and black money from the system, traders, vegetable, fruit and flower vendors across the country have already witnessed a major slowdown in their businesses in past few weeks.

With the business being hit hard, especially, in the country’s unorganised and MSME (medium and small enterprises) sectors, there have been reports of massive job losses across the country. Last week, CPI leader Sitaram Yechury said over four lakh people have lost their jobs due to the demonetisation exercise.

Finally, the demonetisation move has forced several economists, rating agencies and brokerages to slash the country’s GDP growth estimates for the next few quarters citing subdued consumer spending and likely slowdown in economy. Not just that, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, too, last week cautioned that GDP could fall by about 2 percent in the aftermath of demonetisation.

First Published On : Nov 27, 2016 14:20 IST

Attempts likely to disturb peace during assembly polls: Rajnath Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ahead of the assembly polls in five states, Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday asked security forces to guard against attempts to disturb peace through “vicious” political campaign or by external extremist forces during the election process.Inaugurating the three-day annual DGPs/IGPs conference here, Singh said elections will be held in some states soon and it is the responsibility of police chiefs to ensure peaceful completion of the poll process.”We have to keep strict vigil against external extremist elements who may try to create disturbance in Punjab. There have been increased activities of the Sikh terrorists in recent months. “Similarly in Manipur, we have to ensure peace keeping in mind the ethnic divide. In Uttar Pradesh too, there may be attempts to disturb law and order through vicious political campaigning. We have to keep strict vigil and take proper steps to ensure peace during elections,” he said.Assembly elections are due in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa early next year. The conference is being attended by around 100 Directors General of Police and Inspectors General of Police of states and UTs and heads of central police organisations at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy here. Maintaining that threats of self-radicalisation and lone wolf attacks have been increasing, the Home Minister said there was no let up in Pakistan’s support to terror and anti- India activities.”We all know that a neighbouring country has been trying to instigate people in northern parts of the country to indulge in anti-India activities, providing training to terrorists and sending them to India to carry out in terror attacks. Despite all these efforts, the credit for maintaining peace in the country goes to security and intelligence agencies,” he said.Referring to the dreaded ISIS, Singh said due to close coordination between state and central forces, the youths, who were influenced by the terror group, have not been able to successfully carry out any strike in the country yet.”So far, 67 youths, who were influenced by the ISIS, have been arrested while planning to carry out terror attack. We have to be fully alert against any such design. The whole world is worried about the terror activities of the ISIS. This is a big challenge for our country. I am confident that in the we will be able to face the challenge posed by the ISIS together,” he said. The Home Minister said the decision to demonetise Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes has badly hit terrorists, naxals and other undesirable elements.”We are confident that demonetisation will help in curbing the activities of extremists and anti-nationals to a great extent. We have to defeat the attempts by the naxals to convert the old Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes through local contractors, businessmen and sympathisers,” he said. Singh also appealed to DGPs of northeastern states to keep strict vigil against any attempt to pump black money into the banking system taking advantage of income tax exemption given to certain tribal communities there.Talking about the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, the Home Minister said the state has been affected by unrest due to a “Pakistan-sponsored conspiracy” following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani on July 8. “No country can accept any kind of violence perpetrated by the terrorists. This is being sponsored and inspired from across the border.”When I went to Pakistan in August to attend a SAARC conference, I asked Pakistan how come one country’s terrorist becomes another country’s martyr or freedom fighter. But no one in Pakistan dared to reply to my question. Now the situation in the state has improved significantly,” he said. Singh said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced a Rs 80,000 crore package for Jammu and Kashmir some time ago and it is being implemented speedily.”This is the reason why the separatists, with help from the neighbouring country, were trying to create disturbance in the state so that development gets hampered and people of the state, particularly the youth, are misled about India,” he said. The Home Minister said separatists and their supporters in Pakistan are not being able to digest the success of the PDP-BJP coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir and the development activities being carried out by it.”Whatever little supports the separatists have in the state is gradually reducing. We have taken a number of steps to normalise the situation. “To talk to the people of the state, I myself had led an all-party delegation. The Prime Minister had called an all- party meeting. We have been successful in bringing normalcy in the Kashmir Valley but due to the threat to common people from terrorists and separatists, normal commercial and academic activities have been hampered,” he said. Referring to the surgical strikes carried out by the Indian Army against terror launch pads in PoK, the Home Minister said by carrying it out, India has sent a message to everyone that its patience should not be considered misconstrued as weakness and its armed forces are capable of taking out the enemy anywhere and anytime. Singh said cyber threat to the country has been increasing and attempts are being made to divide the society and create tension among communities through social media.”Social media is being used to instigate people for anti-national activities. Cyber frauds are also increasing. This is a future challenge,” he said. Talking about the Maoists, the Home Minister said Naxals are in retreat and now confined to a limited area.

RSS backs demonetization, says country’s economy to become safe and vibrant

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Justifying the demonetization move, RSS on Friday said it is a step taken in the national interest with “honest intention” of initiating transparent monetary practices that will make the country’s economy safe and vibrant.Head of RSS’ communications department Manmohan Vaidya said that “all anti-national, separatist and terrorist activities in the country seem to have come to a sudden halt, resulting in restoration of normalcy in Kashmir Valley after a long time”. “It is obvious that the common people have to face difficulties initially as this is a drastic step towards financial integrity and accountability in the country with the aim of making our economy safe and vibrant,” he said.Vaidya said the decision taken by the government to demonetize high value currency notes is in national interest and with the honest intention of setting in motion cleaner and transparent monetary transactions and practices in the country. He said its impact is being felt everywhere and urged the people to cooperate with the government to help bring in transparency in the country.”We appeal to the people to cooperate and support the government in this noble endeavour, irrespective of the temporary but unavoidable inconvenience being caused. We are confident that the patriotic people will cooperate with the government for a better tomorrow,” he said.

Ban on IRF is an attack on Indian Muslims, peace, democracy and justice: Zakir Naik

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Terming the five-year ban on Islamic Research Foundation as an attack on “Muslims, peace, democracy and justice,” controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik on Friday said the ban was timed with the “demonetisation fiasco” to avert resistance and divert media attention.The central government has recently banned the IRF and declared it as a terrorist organisation under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for five years. In an open letter, Naik, 51, who is abroad, said he will pursue all legal options to get the ban repealed and that the judiciary will fail the Modi government in its ‘plans’. Naik has been booked along with unnamed IRF officials under section 153-A of IPC (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) beside various sections of UAPA.”Before investigations were done, even before reports submitted, the ban was already decided. IRF was to be banned. Whether it was owing to my religion or some other reason, does not matter. What now matters is that my work of 25 years completely lawful work has been banned. And that is the most unfortunate thing for this country,” Naik said in his letter. “From the government’s point of view, the timing itself could not have been better. The decision to ban IRF was taken in the middle of the demonetisation fiasco, as the country reeled under the self-imposed cash crunch. I won’t be surprised if this ban was meant to distract media from what was going on in the country. For the public that is starved for cash, for trade and basic amenities, one cannot expect much of resistance,” he stated.Talking about UAPA, Naik said, “The law does not seem to apply to the likes of Rajeshwar Singh, Yogi Adityanath and Sadhvi Prachi who continue to make inflammatory speeches aimed at inciting communal hatred for mere political mileage.” “Leave aside legal action, the government has neither condemned their actions nor reprimanded them. Is this draconian law mainly meant for Muslims? Does the UAPA now exist mainly to silence minority groups?” Naik asked.”Let us not be gullible to think this was just an attack on me. It is an attack on whom I represent, the Indian Muslims. It is an attack on peace, democracy and justice. I will pursue all legal options to repeal this ban,” the IRF founder said.Criticising the five-year ban on IRF, Naik said: “This must be the most unique ban to be applied in the history of India, because not a single time was I questioned or given a chance to explain. Not a single chance. No notice, no summons, no calls and no contact ever made with me to get my side of the story. I kept offering my help in investigation but it wasn’t taken.” He said his participation in the investigation process would have cleared up the air and exonerated him.Naik said if the bank account of Islamic International School, run by IRF, is frozen it will not be able to meet its daily expenses and future of hundreds of school children will be in jeopardy. He also said he has complete faith in the judiciary and the government will fail in its “plans”. “The country’s democratic fabric is under attack. People’s lives are being played with. Governments are misusing their authority on people they’re supposed to protect. This needs to change,” Naik said.Notably, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) had yesterday asked three banks to freeze 25 accounts of Naik, his family members and IRF. In addition to it, NIA has handed over a list of over 12 people including Naik, his family members, close friends and organisations, to all 72 scheduled commercial banks to check whether these people had any account in these financial institutions.The NIA has also written to Union Home Ministry for banning the website run by the IRF and as well as suspending its online activities which includes videos of speeches on social networking sites, sources had earlier said, adding that the request will be forwarded to Information Technology ministry.

Demonetization: Sabarimala temple in Kerala introduces ‘e-hundi’ to receive offerings

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>To tide over the cash crunch in the wake of demonetization, the Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala, where lakhs of devotees converge during the pilgrimage season which began on November 16, has introduced “e-hundi” for electronic transfer of offerings.Lakhs of devotees from across the country worship at the temple during the three-month-long Mandalam Makaravilakku festival, for which the hill shrine was opened on November 15.Ajay Tharayil, member of the Travancore Devaswom Board that manages the temple, said there would be no limit for offerings with debit cards. With a credit card, a devotee can offer even Re 1, he said. The new system would benefit lakhs of devotees coming from other parts of the country, he said, adding, it would be installed at other points as well in due course.Alappuzha Sub Collector E Chandrasekhar inaugurated the swipe machine at a function on Thursday.

PM Modi is a saint, everyone else a black marketeer: Mamata ramps up protest againt demonetization

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a show of strength, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, backed by JD-U, SP, NCP and AAP, held a demonstration against demonetization and ramped up attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, alleging the country was not safe in his hands. Addressing the gathering at Jantar Mantar, Banerjee alleged that abolition of high-value currency notes had heaped pain on people and snatched away democratic rights of almost every section of the society including farmers, youth, women, labourers and traders, besides halting the country’s economic growth.Accusing the BJP-led dispensation of “looting” the common man, she wondered why those having Swiss bank accounts were “not touched at all”, and warned that people will teach a “good lesson” to the ruling party in the upcoming assembly polls for implementing a “black law”. “I can challenge that no one will vote for BJP. If I were you (PM), I would have apologised to the public. Why you are so egoistic? You have branded everyone in the country a black marketeer and have yourself turned into a saint ,” Banerjee said.In his address, JD-U leader Sharad Yadav questioned the legality of the demonetization exercise and challenged the Prime Minister to explain to the Parliament how the decision will benefit the country.”Under which law have you enforced this measure? You are stopping a person from withdrawing his hard-earned money which is his fundamental right. demonetization has destroyed the business of small traders. Come toParliament and explain the logic as to how it will curb black money,” Yadav said.The presence of Yadav at the protest assumes significance as his party had supported demonetization.The street protest was also addressed by SP’s Dharmendra Yadav, AAP’s Raghav Chadha and NCP’s Majid Memon.The West Bengal Chief Minister also lashed out at a group of people who were shouting pro-Modi slogans, alleging that they were sent to disrupt her public meeting and wondered what the police and administration were doing.Referring to yesterday’s bypoll results, the TMC chief said BJP’s victory margins have come down significantly in Madhya Pradesh and that Modi has left the country in the lurch (Modiji ne desh ka barah baja diya).”Banerjee said she will continue her fight till woes of the people are not addressed, adding she will also support a country-wide protest called by the Opposition parties on November 28 against demonetization.Last week, Banerjee had addressed a rally against demonetization along with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Banerjee said the government has lost all “credentials and credibility” and that because of demonetization, the GDP may decline sharply. “This government will have to go…I am sorry to say, the country is not secure under you Modiji. You do things on your whims and fancies,” she said.Without elaborating, she also alleged that the demonetization measure has brought back the pre-Independence feudal system in the country as people are struggling to get cash.Referring to the Prime Minister’s assertion that more steps to curb black money will follow, the West Bengal Chief Minister expressed apprehension that government may aim to get hold of the gold, land and other properties from the people in the next phase.”Almost all shops have downed shutters. Even malls have closed down. Our economy had improved and we survived the global recession. But because of demonetization, our GDP will go down. The economy has been hit badly,” she said.The West Bengal Chief Minister said her fight against demonetization was not to gain political mileage as there was no election scheduled in West Bengal and that she decided to hit the streets seeing plight of the common man.”This is not a fight for political gains. People in my state are suffering. People across the country are suffering Where should they go? This fight is for the rights of the poor and the downtrodden,” she said.Asserting that she will continue to fight for the common citizens, Banerjee said, “I am not afraid of any government.You put me in jail, I will not get scared. My struggle will continue.”Alleging that people were sent to disrupt her protest, she said in democracy everyone has right to agitate, adding “this soil doesn’t belong to BJP party, but to this country.” The West Bengal Chief Minister said she would travel to Punjab and Gujarat to take forward the fight. She said she was planning to go to Lucknow and Varanasi, Prime Minister Modi’s parliamentary constituency.

Demonetisation: SC refuses Centre’s request to stay proceedings before other courts

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought response of all the petitioners, who have challenged the demonetisation move in different high courts, on a plea by the Centre seeking transfer of all these matters to either the apex court or one of the high courts.

However, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur refused the Centre’s request to stay the proceedings pending before various high courts, saying people may get “immediate relief” from them.

“We don’t want to stay it. There are various issues. People may get immediate relief from the high courts,” the bench also comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao told Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi.

During the hearing, the bench asked the AG, “We think you must have taken appropriate steps. What is the situation now? How much have you collected so far?”

Responding to it, the AG said the situation is “much better” and more than Rs six lakh crores have been deposited so far in the banks since the demonetisation move.

“More than Rs 6 lakh crores have been deposited so far,” the AG said, adding, “There is a big surge in digital use of money transaction.”

He said the demonetisation move was aimed at removing the 70 years of “slush money” and the government is monitoring the situation day-by-day and hour-by-hour.

He told the bench that government has set up a committee which will take stock of the ground situation across the country on demonetisation move.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Rohatgi told the apex court that the general rule is that the cash transactions in the market should not be more than four percent of the GDP but it is 12 percent in India.

Rohatgi told the bench that various petitions have been filed challenging the demonetisation move before different high courts across the country and these matters should be transferred to the apex court or one of the high courts.

The bench has fixed the matter for 2 December and has directed the persons who are petitioners before different high courts to file their response on Centre’s transfer plea by then.

The apex court had on 18 November dubbed as a “serious issue” the long queues outside banks and post offices and expressed its reservation on the Centre’s plea seeking a direction that no other court in the country should entertain petitions challenging the 8 November notification demonetising Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 currency notes.

It had made the remarks after the AG submitted that any matter relating to challenge to the demonetisation issue be heard by the apex court only.

However, the bench noted that people were facing difficulties saying, they are affected and have the right to approach the courts.

The bench had questioned the relief measures undertaken by the Centre and asked why it had squeezed the exchange limit to Rs 2,000.

The AG had then explained the situation by stating that after printing, the currency has to be moved to thousands of centres across the country and ATMs have to be re-calibrated.

He had also said that Rs 100 notes are in circulation and the ATMs needed to be re-calibrated to issue new currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 2,000.

The Centre had moved the apex court on 17 November seeking a stay on the proceedings before various high courts and other courts except the apex court against demonetisation issue, saying otherwise it will create a lot of confusion.

The apex court had on 15 November refused to stay the government’s demonetisation notification, but asked it to spell out the steps taken to minimise public inconvenience.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a televised address to the nation on 8 November, had announced that Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes will no longer be legal tender from 9 November.

He had said the government has declared a “decisive war” against black money and corruption.

First Published On : Nov 23, 2016 13:48 IST

Demonetization ka side effect: Illegal opium trade in West Bengal’s Malda goes up in smoke

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has been vociferous in her criticism of demonetization, claiming the rural economy will be jeopardised by it. But in Malda, in North Bengal, demonetization has also affected the illegal opium trade in a big way.Malda is also a hub for illegal arms, cow smuggling and is referred to as India’s fake currency capital.The National Investigating Agency (NIA) in a report last year said that 90% of Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN) pushed into the country from Pakistan is routed through Bangladesh. Since Malda shares a porous border with Bangladesh, carriers smuggle the FICN into the country from here and release it into circulation. “Malda works as a landing point for agents, who circulate fake currency into the country. Malda shares its border with Nepal and Bhutan in the north and Bangladesh in the south. Agents who come from Bangladesh can easily sneak into our country as most of the International Border does not have fencing. Some agents even produce fake documents while entering our country,” a senior NIA official said.While the Bengal government has banned the cultivation of opium poppy, illicit opium trade has become rampant in the district and is partially dependent on the fake currency in circulation. Opium is a derivative of the poppy seed pod. Its cultivation takes place across three months – November, December and January in Malda. Agents from Bangladesh smuggle the poppy seeds and give it farmers. Farmers in return are increasingly cultivating the poppy seeds for better returns compared to the cultivation of other crops. “A bigha (0.4005 acres) of cultivable land yields 4 kgs of opium latex. The farmers scrape the latex before the poppy seeds mature and the latex is dried. For one kg of opium latex, a farmer is offered anywhere between Rs 60,000 – Rs 65,000 by the agent. Later, the villagers, who double up for the carriers, deliver the consignment from one point to another and receive a handsome amount of money, mostly fake currency notes. A carrier is supposed to cover a distance of 100 metres, which makes it difficult for the security agencies to keep track, as the entire village is engaged in it,” said a carrier, adding, “The final carrier hands it over to the agent and he deals with the drug mafias and the agents are paid Rs 1 lac for a kg of opium. The drug mafia later sends the consignment to other districts of Bengal like Birbhum and Murshidabad for processing. The opium latex is further processed into heroin and smuggled across the International Border into Bangladesh.” However, following the demonetization move, the opium trade has taken a hit and farmers are being offered Rs 30,000 for a kg of opium latex. “It is usually one of the most lucrative businesses. Cultivation of other crops depends highly on the rainfall we receive that particular year. But, cultivation of poppy is a great deal as it only takes three months to grow. It does not destroy the quality of the soil and keeps it ready for the cultivation of any other crop for the rest of the months. But, following the demonetization, we are being offered only half the amount of what was promised,” said a farmer, who refused to be named. He added, “The money that we used to receive also contained fake currency notes, but we did not mind as the fake notes were accepted anywhere in the district. Thousands of fake notes are in circulation in the district and no one refuses to accept it, hence we did not mind accepting those notes in the form of payment.” In the last five years, poppy cultivation has increased many folds. While the Kaliachawk-III was known for its poppy cultivation, it has now spread across Kaliachawk-I, II and Chachol-I, II besides blocks like Gajol, Bamongola and Habibpur. While the local police is taking up modern techniques like the use of drones to identify poppy fields and destroy them, farmers grow crops like sugarcane and maize on the periphery and use it as camouflage, making it difficult for identification. Last year, police reportedly destroyed several hundred acres of poppy fields. However, officials of the security agency reveal that some local police officials are hand in glove with the drug mafia and are often paid a commission to prevent destruction of their fields.

Demonetization: Rahul needles PM Modi, united Opp looks to turn on the heat

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Concentration of power in the hands of one individual is dangerous for the country and chaos due to demonetization is a direct result of this, Rahul Gandhi said in a direct attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Flagging the inconveniences people are facing due to “poor implementation” of the demonetization decision, he said the move has “dented” the Indian economy hugely and caused tremendous hardship to fishermen, farmers, labourers and daily wage earners.The Congress vice president added that the entire Opposition was one on this matter and would jointly take on the government in Parliament. “Concentration of power in the hands of one individual is not good but dangerous for the country. The chaos due to the prime minister’s decision of demonetization is a direct result of this concentration of power,” he said.”The demonetization decision has hurt the economy in unimaginable ways and has severely dented it besides hitting the fishermen in coastal areas, farmers in northern India, labourers, artisans and daily wage earners,” he said.”The prime minister took this decision without thinking of the consequences. The entire Opposition is together on this issue and will jointly take on the government in Parliament,” said Rahul, who was with Congress PresidentIn a rare show of unity, ten major opposition parties today came together and resolved to corner the government on demonetization within and outside Parliament even as Congress leader Rahul Gandhi alleged banks were giving cash to a few “through the back door” while the poor were made to stand in queues.Finding a common ground on demonetization which has caused hardship to people, leaders of Congress, Trinamool Congress, JD(U), BSP, CPI(M), CPI, NCP, RJD, JMM and DMK held a meeting in the national capital this morning to forge a common plan of action with an aim of mounting attack on the government.Leaders of these parties will hold such strategy sessions every morning before Parliament assembles during the ongoing Winter session, sources said.It was decided that MPs of these 10 parties will stage a sit-in near Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in the Parliament complex on Wednesday. This will be followed by a march to Rashtrapati Bhawan, date for which is being worked out, the sources said.Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, who visited several ATMs this morning and interacted with people, claimed he was told that cash was being taken out surreptitiously from the back door in the banks for a few “selected people” while there were long queues of common people waiting outside for hours.”They said they are in the queue and deals are being made and cash is taken out from back door. And some selected people are given that cash. Those who are rich getting that and those who are poor they are made to stand in the queue.”They will be in the queue for three days and then they will leave (without cash). People are facing losses because of this,” he said.On Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remark that the country will come out like gold after this exercise, the Congress leader said, “I feel the coffers of the PM’s own 15 or 20 people’s will be filled up and their loans will be waived.Poor people, those who are in the queue, will only suffer losses.”West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee alleged the Prime Minister was threatening parties raising voice against demonetization and said she will hit the Delhi streets to protest against the government action.”The Prime Minister is threatening other parties who are raising their voice against demonetization. PM should be sober. PM should behave like a PM. If necessary, he should convene an all-party meeting on the issue,” Banerjee told a press conference in Kolkata.”There is no ego fight. There should be a plan of action on demonetization. My humble submission is that let us work together to solve the issue. The people are suffering,” the Trinamool Congress supremo said.BJP hit back at Banjerjee, accusing her of spreading “canards” about demonetization and asked her to come clean on the charge that her party received huge funds from a fictitious company before 2014 Lok Sabha polls.”Mamata Banerjee resembles the comic character of ‘Betal’. She keeps on blabbering lies, false statements and canards. She should stop spreading those lies. She is questioning the Prime Minister, but what is her credibility?” BJP general secretary Siddharth Nath Singh said. MoreShe had arrested a professor for circulating cartoonsand a farmer for seeking a clarification regarding crops. She had asked the police administration to harass a college student for questioning her. She should not make those statements,” Siddharth Nath Singh said.Prime Minister Modi had told a rally in Agra yesterday said that political leaders behind multi-crore chit fund scams were attacking him because they had been hit hard by demonetization, indirectly referring to Mamata Banerjee.”She is yet to answer our queries about the involvement of her party leaders in Narada and Saradha scam. I would like to ask her what is the basis of the huge donation that her party had received from a fictitious company. From where did this black money come?” Singh said.Mamata Banerjee said besides Delhi she will go to Lucknow and places in Bihar and Punjab to protest against demonetization.”This is not a political issue. We are speaking on behalf of commoners. Markets are closed. Small traders are hit,” she said, adding “I have no personal interest. I am doing this for the sake of the people of the country.” Centre’s demonetization move is a plan which even the country’s worst enemies would not be able to better, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury alleged as he targeted the Modi dispensation over withdrawal of Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes.He said the recovery of unpaid bank loans from corporates should have been the government’s priority instead of demonetization, which has “hurt only the poor”.”Even if our worst enemies wanted to hurt rural India, after two drought years, they couldn’t have made a better plan #demonetizationDisaster.”Recovering unpaid bank loans from rich corporates should have been govt’s priority instead of #demonetization which has hurt only the poor,” Yechury said on Twitter.Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal exhorted people to “change PM, not notes”.Kejriwal continued to target Modi over the issue, asking the latter to come clear on his “relations” with a mobile wallet company, claiming its business has seen an “upswing” since demonetization.”Note nahi, PM Badlo (Change PM, not note),” the Chief Minister, who is touring poll-bound Punjab, tweeted.In another tweet, he urged Modi to either waive loans of farmers or deposit Rs 10,000 in each Jan Dhan account using the money deposited by people in banks since November 10, the day banking operations resumed post demonetization.Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis defended the demonetization decision, saying those opposing Modi were harming the country and that people should come together to “win this decisive battle against black money”.”We are going towards a new economic independence. In this battle for economic independence, the person who stands with Modi ji for the next 50 days will become a soldier in this battle and the one who does not stand with the PM will be against this country,” Fadnavis said.”Now, you have to decide whether you want to become a soldier in the battle for economic freedom or whether you want to become a ‘desh virodhak’ (those against the country),” he said addressing a campaign rally for municipal polls in Ratnagiri.

Indian Army eager to teach a lesson to enemy, waiting for permission: Parrikar

Panaji: The Army is eager to teach a lesson to enemy of the country and it is just waiting for permission from the government, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said in Panaji on Sunday.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

“The morale of the Army has gone up. Army wants to teach lesson to our enemy. They are just waiting for permission from the government…We gave them permission two-three times,” Parrikar said during BJP’s campaign meeting in Vasco.

His statement came days after Pakistan conducted a military exercise in a strategically located area in Punjab province bordering India with its Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif saying that they will give a “befitting response” to any “ambitious and reckless move” by its enemies.

Parrikar said, “We want to tell our enemy that if they stare at us, we can stare with bigger eyes.”

The minister said the country’s borders are secured and no one could dare attack India.

“We are completely committed towards the security of the country. It is not just about tightening the border but we have also given required armaments to the soldiers,” he said.

Taking a dig at Congress, Parrikar claimed that after the Bofors scam, the Army did not get a new artillery gun in 30 years until the Narendra Modi government took up the initiative to manufacture “Dhanush” at HAL.

“Tejas aircraft, whose design was on the drawing board for last 33 years, is going to become a reality now. The former governments were not interested as the aircraft was supposed to be built by the government and hence they wouldn’t get any commission out of it,” he alleged.

Hailing demonetisation of high value currencies, Parrikar said the government has also given importance to “economic security” of the country.

“The country by withdrawing Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denominations has taken the challenge to fight against black money,” he added.

First Published On : Nov 21, 2016 08:08 IST

Demeaning sacrifice of armed forces is a cardinal sin: Jitendra Singh hits back at Ghulam Nabi Azad

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Union Minister of State in the PMO Jitendra Singh said that making any statement which demeans the sacrifice of the armed forces of the country was a cardinal sin which cannot be repented.”Any direct or indirect comment or statement that demeans the sacrifice of our soldiers or insults their services is a sin, a cardinal sin which cannot be repented,” he said, reacting to Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad’s remarks which were expunged. Singh, who was in Kathua, said it was because of these brave soldiers that the people in the country were in a position to begin their day as per their wishes. On the increase in the incidents of ceasefire violations from the Pakistani side in which several people have lost their lives, Singh said it was for the first time in past several years that Pakistan was getting a befitting reply. “People living in border areas agree that the retaliatory action which is happening this time has never been seen before and that is why the morale of the people is high,” he said.He said the morale of the army and paramilitary forces was high which has boosted the morale of the entire country.Earlier addressing a public meeting, Singh said the demonetisation move will enrich rural economy of India and actually benefit those sections of society who were being held to ransom as a result of black money hoarding by a few.”The opposition leaders, who are uncomfortable with this decision, are regularly putting out different arguments to challenge it and one of the arguments put across is, how will it help the large population of India living in rural and semi-rural areas or the large number of common citizens queueing up for exchange of currency notes.”The answer to this is very simple. When a handful of people hoarding unaccounted money are made to surrender it to the banks, this will ultimately end up in reinforcing the country’s legitimate exchequer and increase the quantum of money in the banks,” he said.”As a result, this would enable the state exchequer to carry forward the Modi government’s pro-poor schemes in a more effective manner by providing higher financial resources, possible reduction in interest rates for loans to the poor, needy and youth entrepreneurs, and raising the overall capacity of fair economic transaction,” he said.Singh said the entire exercise was carried out keeping in mind the interest of the poorest of the poor and, therefore, ultimately those who had to undergo initial inconvenience during this transition would be the actual beneficiaries.The demonetisation drive has evidently proved that if the leadership of the country is honest and well-meaning, the poorest of the poor living even in villages are ready to cope with initial inconvenience in return for larger profits and gains for themselves and their next generation, he said. PTI TSS ABSMN11202051NNNNPTI

From ‘housing for all by 2022’ to attacking Mamata: Highlights of PM Modi’s speech in Agra

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi said political leaders behind multi-crore chit fund scams are attacking him as they have been hit hard by demonetization, in remarks seen as sharp attack on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. He also hit out at the Congress saying governments in the past 70 years kept quiet on blackmoney because they were worried about losing power.Addressing a ‘Parivartan rally’ here, Modi cautioned people holding Jan Dhan accounts not to allow themselves to be used for laundering the money of the rich by depositing their ill-gotten wealth as they could unnecessarily get into problems with law.”I know what sort of people are raising their voice against me? Does the country not know whose money was invested in chit fund business? Lakhs and crores of poor people invested money in chit funds. But with the blessings of politicians, crores and crores of rupees have vanished.”Due to chit fund loss, hundreds of head of families were forced to commit suicide. Look at history and they are questioning me,” he said in barbs aimed apparently at Banerjee, who had been rallying political leaders against the demonetization decision.However, the Prime Minister did not name any leaders. Some Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders have been arraigned before courts in cases relating to chit fund scams in West Bengal. Modi said previous governments did not take any step to check blackmoney as they were worried more about losing power than about the country. “For how long will the country keep quiet? They (previous governments) kept quiet for 70 years. Not because they were unaware of this disease. They worried less about country and more about power. That’s why they were not ready to take any step (to check it),” the Prime Minister said, in a veiled attack at Congress.PM’s barb at Mayawati “I know some people have lost everything (because of demonetization). (if) you have to become MLA, bring so many notes, then you will become an MLA. Notes had been stashed.What will happen to these notes? Whom did these notes belong to? Did these not belong to the poor and honest people? This game should come to an end,” Modi said here in the poll-bound state.He did not name anybody but the comments are seen directed at Mayawati who has been accused of taking money in lieu of giving tickets for the upcoming Assembly polls due early next year.Some of Mayawati’s former party leaders, like Swami Prasad Maurya, have accused her of “auctioning” tickets for the 2017 Assembly elections. Maurya made the allegation while announcing his decision to quit BSP on June 22. Mayawati has denied such allegations. “This is our effort to ensure that the middle class gets its due, aspirations of the poor are fulfilled and exploitation of the middle class comes to end. This black economy is making the country hollow from within,” Modi said.”I have taken this decision not to cause harassment to anybody. I have taken this decision for the coming generations and change the fate of our youth,” the Prime Minister added. He said he had stated on the first day of the announcement on November 8 that it will take 50 days for the changeover. “Had I sought 50 days or not? This is such a big country and the decision is so huge that there will be some trouble,” he said.Demonetization will reduce drug use Modi said on the one side cross-border terrorism was killing army personnel and on the other hand economic terrorism was pushing the country’s youth and economy towards catastrophe.He said fake currency notes were pushed into the country and because of the demonetization the business of drugs and other narcotics have come to stand still.”There is a big jolt to the business of fake Indian currency notes due to demonetization,” the Prime Minister said.Referring to government’s decision of demonetization of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, Modi said the decision has not been taken to harass people but to help poor, marginalised and honest people.He cautioned people not to let their Jan Dhan accounts to be misused by corrupt people.”I have come to request you. These corrupt people are very cunning. They may approach you to deposit Rs 2.5 lakh in your account. They can ask you to return Rs two lakh after six months and offer you Rs 50,000. But please do not let these people take advantage of you.”Law is very tough… the corrupt would say it is not my money and the people in whose accounts the money is deposited will be answerable. Unnecessarily poor will have problem with law. I do not want my brothers and sisters to have any problem,” the Prime Minister said.There are reports of misuse of zero-balance Jan Dhan accounts by blackmoney hoarders and the Centre is looking into it. It has warned that violators will be prosecuted under the Benami Transactions Act that carries a penalty, prosecution and rigorous jail term of a maximum seven years. Modi also formally launched ‘Housing for All’ in rural areas under which the government proposes to provide an environmentally safe and secure pucca house to every rural household by 2022.Named as the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (Gramin) or PMAY-G, in its first phase the target is to complete one crore houses by March 2019. “The unit cost for these houses has been significantly increased and now through convergence a minimum support of nearly Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 1.6 lakh to a household is available.”There is also a provision of Bank loan upto Rs 70,000, if the beneficiary so desires. The selection of beneficiaries has been through a completely transparent process using the Socio Economic Census 2011 data and validating it through the Gram Sabha,” an official release said.PMAY-G is a major step forward in bringing together Skill India, Digital India, Make In India, Information Technology/ Direct Benefit Transfer Aadhaar platform and Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, it said.The programme provides for skilling 5 lakh rural masons by 2019 and allows over 200 different housing designs across the country based on a detailed study of housing typologies, environmental hazards and the households’ requirements.A large-scale use of local materials is envisaged along with a complete home with cooking space, electricity provision, LPG, toilet and bathing area, drinking water etc through convergence, the release said.The programme targets the poor households and uses of information communication technology and space technology to further confirm correct selection of beneficiaries and progress of work.”The entire payments are through IT/DBT mode with Aadhaar linked bank accounts with consent, to ensure complete transparency and accountability. There is a provision for orientation of beneficiaries. A 45 days on site hands-on skill training of rural masons helps poor households to move up the skilling ladder,” it said. The PM saw over 40 of the over 200 building designs and interacted with newly trained rural masons and beneficiaries.He also distributed sanction certificates to a few beneficiaries from Agra district.

Demonetisation: PM Modi aborted plan to calibrate ATMs for Rs 100 notes. Why?

Across the country, ATMs are dead and the lines outside banks are killing. In a few cases, literally and unfortunately so.

An entire population of 1.25 billion is living in misery, craving something they already have: A strange contradiction of shortage in abundance.

People can’t bank the cash in their hand, nor lay their hands on the cash in their bank. As yesteryear screen villain Ajit famously never said, “It’s like living in liquid oxygen… The liquid is choking them and oxygen is not allowing them to choke.”

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

So, there’s only one question to which the nation really wants the answer: Did Prime Minister Narendra Modi send a country into war against black money without planning?

Also, did he push his troops to the front lines high on emotion and low on ammunition? The scale of the crisis since 11 November when the banks opened for transactions after two shut days suggests so. National Opposition parties and those opposed to Modi’s sudden crackdown are sure this was a Quixotic idea of a destiny-seeking prime minister in a tearing hurry. Even those who are willing to see this as part of their national duty are at a loss to explain the chaos and hardship unleashed by the cash purge.

The government, on the other hand, insists that if it had planned it on the lines the Opposition parties are suggesting — recalibrating the ATMs before announcing the note ban, this massive operation would have delivered a still-born. Any plan to recalibrate ATMs would have lifted the veil of secrecy and black money would have either changed colour or form. There was, the government says, just no other way to do this other than to dive head first into the deep waters of currency replacement with a hope (that people would understand and endure) and a prayer (that it passes off without event).

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The Opposition parties are not wrong — this could have been planned better and the government is not giving us all the facts. The truth is the government did have a plan. Not for recalibration — for which it has come under severe attack — but for the preemptive calibration of ATMs. If this plan had run its course, it could have considerably smoothened the currency exchange at ATMs. But the plan ground to a halt even before it took off. But more on that later.

Buried under 44 other notifications of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in this month, is the notification of 2 November (see below) that is headlined ‘Dispensation of Rs 100 denomination banknotes through exclusive ATMs’.

   RBI Dispensation of Rs.100 Denomination Banknotes Through Exclusive ATMs by Firstpost on Scribd

The contents of the notification were even more noteworthy, in retrospect of course. Under the cover of a ‘pilot’ project, the RBI asked banks to calibrate 10 pe cent of all ATMs in the country to dispense only Rs 100 notes. To further throw prying eyes off the trail of the brewing demonetisation plan, the RBI slipped this big ticket reform under its pet Clean Notes Policy, running since 2013.

Here’s the operative part of the notification signed by P Vijaya Kumar, chief general manager:

“A review of steps taken by banks for installing ATMs dispensing lower denomination banknotes was conducted and found that very few banks had taken initiatives in setting up ATMs dispensing lower denomination notes including Rs 100 denomination banknotes.

“In keeping with the objectives of Clean Note Policy and to ensure that genuine requirement of members of public for Rs 100 denomination banknotes are met, the banks should increase dispensation of Rs 100 banknotes through ATMs which are widely used for distribution of banknotes for retail use.

“With a view to encourage the banks in that direction, it has been decided to conduct a pilot project wherein 10 percent of the ATMs in the country will be calibrated to dispense Rs 100 banknotes exclusively. You are, therefore, advised to configure/calibrate 10 percent of your ATMs to facilitate this arrangement.”

See the notification below:

   RBI November Notification by Firstpost on Scribd

There are 1,03,282 on-site and 98,579 off-site ATMs in the country. This brings the total to 2,01,861 ATMs in all (as per the RBI’s bank-wise ATM statistics as of July 2016). That means by 17 November, when calibration will have been completed, the government had planned for around 20,000 ATMs to dispense only Rs 100 notes. This would have considerably eased the hardship of citizens who are left stranded with notes they cannot use.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

A little detour to understand the difference between calibration and recalibration is necessary here:

Every ATM has three cartridges — also called bins — to keep cash, with one each for notes of the denominations of Rs 100, Rs 500 and Rs 1,000. To ensure that the ATM dispenses notes of only Rs 100, the cartridges carrying the other two denominations would need to be removed and replaced with cartridges of Rs 100 denomination. This change would not have raised any suspicions because Rs 100 notes were already in use. The banks would just need to order more cartridges of Rs 100 denomination.

But distributing the new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 notes from ATMs would have required changing the cartridges, or recalibrating them as per the size and other parameters of the new notes. Recalibration of nearly 1,80,000 ATMs across the country would certainly have had tongues wagging about the impending currency replacement. So, recalibration, it seems, was not part of the plan and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley spoke the truth.

Two things are obvious from a post-facto reading of this (then) seemingly innocuous notification.

First, the government and the RBI had anticipated that after removing the larger Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denominations, there would be a mad rush for denomination of Rs 100 for retail use. And they had rolled out what now seems like a graded plan to meet the challenge of the small notes.

Second, the ATMs were supposed to have been ready by 17 November to dispense only Rs 100 notes. A day after that deadline has passed, it is unclear how many of the 20,000 ATMs are fully Rs 100-note-ready. Chances are very few ATMs are, because at 8 pm on 8 November, this plan was blown off the tracks by the prime minister’s sudden announcement of demonetisation.

The notification was issued on Wednesday, 2 November and the prime minister went live on Tuesday, 8 November. That’s a little over three working days between the two dates. It’s hardly likely that the banks could have done much more than just crank up their systems. And after that, they have been left to deal with the deluge.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

That raises the bigger question: If the calibration of ATMs was scheduled between 2 November and 17 November, why was the demonetisation bomb detonated midway knowing fully well that banks were still not ready? It is very unlikely that the two moves were disconnected from each other. The RBI could not have been on a Clean Note Policy binge six days prior to the entire banking system of the country being shaken from its roots. Particularly when the new notes that have now been released bear the signature of Urijit Patel.

The RBI’s notification does indicate that the government was working to a plan and a schedule. It suggests that the next big move on demonetisation should have been made after 17 November, although it is impossible to know how soon or how much later. But plans had to be abandoned. What was the provocation? Did the government suspect that the plan was leaked? Images of the Rs 2,000 note were, after all, floating on social media very early this month.

Unless the government is forthcoming with answers, we will have keep wondering if on 8 November, Modi was announcing the demonetisation plan or delivering it prematurely.

First Published On : Nov 19, 2016 09:41 IST

Fake notes smuggling has stopped post demonetization: Kiren Rijiju

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Fake Indian currency notes (FICN) worth around Rs 400 crore are in circulation in the country at any given point of time and smuggling of such notes from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal has completely stopped after the demonetization announcement, Union minister Kiren Rijiju said on Friday. “Smuggling of FICN from three international borders – Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal – has completely halted after the announcement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” he told reporters here. The Minister of State for Home said at any given point of time, fake notes valued around Rs 400 crore are in circulation in the country. He said annually counterfeit notes worth Rs 70 crore are infused in the country. Proceeds of illegal sale of drugs, opium, arms etc. have also been completely stopped, Rijiju said, adding hawala transaction is also badly hit.Fake notes worth Rs 12.35 crore were seized by the security agencies till June. In 2015, counterfeit notes worth Rs 34.99 crore were seized while in 2014, the value was Rs 36.11 crore and in 2013 it was Rs 42.90 crore.An estimated Rs 700-Rs 800 crore terror funding is done in India out of which Rs 300-Rs 400 crore are being used by Naxals annually, Rs 20-Rs 30 crore by Kashmiri separatists and Rs 350-Rs 400 crore by insurgents in the northeast.Meanwhile, official sources said there are around Rs 40,000 crore black money in circulation in the country and these funds were also badly hit by the demonetization of old Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes.The total currency in circulation in the country as on September was Rs 17,00,000 crore, sources said.

Demonetization responsible for 55 deaths, PM Modi has imposed ‘tax terrorism’: Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Stepping up its attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress held his “draconian decision” on demonetisation responsible for the death of 55 people and asked him to apologise to their families and the country.Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala released a list of 55 persons who lost their lives while standing in queues at banks and ATMs in the wake of demonetisation and demanded compensation to their families besides probe into their death.”The draconian decision of a dictatorial Prime Minister has led to 55 deaths. Who is responsible for this? The PM should apologize to the familes of those who lost their lives and also to the country. His whimsical decision has led to this,” he told reporters.He also said, “Government must pay adequate compensation to these 55 families who lost their near and dear ones. Their deaths must be investigated and consequent action taken.” He also accused the Prime Minister of “acting first and thinking later”, alleging that no proper planning was made by his government before implementing the decision which has thrown the country into “financial anarchy and chaos”.Surjewala said while the people of the country are facing hardship and harassment because of the “whims and fancies” of the Prime Minister bent upon “image building”. He alleged the Prime Minister was now dubbing all those questioning his demonetisation exercise as “anti-nationals”.The Congress leader also demanded that the cooperative sector, which includes banks and societies, be allowed to use old currency notes as the rural economy has been “shut” ahead of the Rabi sowing season.He said following the “Tuglaqi farman” (diktat) issued 10 days ago on demonetisation, the entire country has been plunged into “financial emergency and anarchy”, and the “hapless and helpless” people of India are languishing in long queues amid utter chaos and confusion.”All this has been done on account of obduracy of one individual and for his image building. India has a Prime Minister who decides first, thinks later and listens to no one. When glaring mistakes and bungling are caught, anyone asking questions is branded as ‘anti-National’,” Surjewala said. Surjewala alleged the Modi government has imposed “tax terrorism” across the country. The Income Tax department has “shut” the markets and it is creating “fear psychosis” among the traders and businessmen, with the small and medium sector industry being “shattered”. “Modiji has become the new architect and symbol of tax terrorism in the country,” he said.Surjewala said the government has changed its directions on demonetisation 18 times ever since the announcement was made by Modi 10 days ago which showed its “ill-preparedness” and “ill-planning”.”Despite this mess, anyone asking questions is branded as anti-national. Time has come for people of India to ask as to who has acted against the national interest?” he said.He said the country’s image globally has been dented due to the government’s action and foreign investors have taken out Rs 6,500 crore from the market.”Foreign Institutional Investors and Foreign Portfolio Investors have lost confidence in the government. In first five days, FIIs and FTIs have withdrawn one billion USD from the economy or nearly Rs 6500 crore,” he said.Criticising government’s decision to ink the fingers of those coming to change currency to which the Election Commission of India has raised objections, he said, “The truth is that the government’s right hand does not know as to what is being done by the left hand. Confusion confounds Modi government completely.”Quoting experts, he said demonetisation had led to withdrawal of 86 per cent of currency in circulation and, as a result, 1,658 crore notes of Rs 500 and 668 crore bills of Rs 1000, totalling 2,327 crore notes valued at about Rs 15 lakh crore have been withdrawn.He said the Rs 1000 rupee notes were printed by ‘Bhartiya Reserve Bank Note Mudran Private Limited’ which has the capacity to print 133 crore notes per month working in two shifts and even if it were to work for three shifts it can print 200 crore notes per month and the entire operation would take 3.5 months to complete if it prints the new Rs 2000 notes.Similarly, Rs 500 notes are printed by ‘Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Limited’ which has a capacity to print 100 crore notes per month and even if its capacity is doubled overnight, it will still take nearly eight months or more to print 1658 crore notes of Rs 500.”It is thus clear that the claims of government to print new notes are hollow, deceptive and a bundle of lies,”he said.The Congress leader said the farm sector has been worst hit by demonetisation after the government decided to unilaterally put an embargo on all Cooperative Banks, Rural Development Banks, Primary Land Development Banks and Cooperative Credit Societies from either changing old currencies or dispensing new notes.”In one stroke, Modiji has broken the back of the entire agricultural sector. Shockingly, Modi government summarily rejected the recommendations of its own Agriculture Ministry, which wanted that farmers should be permitted to purchase seeds and fertilizers with old notes. Prime Minister Modi has paralyzed the entire agricultural economy,” he said.

From Modi Antoniette to ‘undeclared Emergency’: How Govt faced the heat in Rajya Sabha over demonetization

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The winter session of Rajya Sabha opened with a united opposition mounting an assault on the government over demonetisation, saying it had led to “economic anarchy” in the country and alleged selective leak of the information before the announcement which should be probed by a Joint Parliamentary Committee.The government rejected as baseless the opposition charge that there was “leakage” of the November 8 decision and said everyone was taken by surprise which is why there are “initial” problems.Joining ranks over the raging issue, parties like Congress, JD(U), RJD, SP, BSP, Trinamool Congress, Left and AIADMK slammed the government, particularly targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for making Rs 500 and Rs 1000 denomination notes invalid and said the “ill-timed” and “ill-conceived” step had severely hit the common people, the farmers and the poor.During a discussion on demonetisation, which was taken up after suspension of all business in response to notices given by a host of opposition members, a scathing attack was made on the government which strongly defended the step as one taken in national interest and to end corruption and black money, which it linked to terror activities in the country.Alleging that the information had been leaked to BJP units and ‘friends of BJP’, a number of opposition parties demanded a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into it.During the course of 7-hour debate which remained inconclusive, there were repeated demands by the opposition members that the Prime Minister should be present in the House to listen to the members. Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said Modi, who did not come to the Rajya Sabha today, should at least be present tomorrow and possibly intervene.Congress leader Anand Sharma – File Photo Initiating the debate, Congress leader Anand Sharma used wit and humour to attack Modi, saying he was “insensitive” to problems caused to the common man.The “ill-timed” and “ill-conceived” move has unleashed “economic anarchy” in the country and benefited a few, he said.”Your government is insensitive,” he said, adding Modi was riding a bullet train in Japan when old, women and common man were queueing up at banks at 3 am to get currency to buy their daily needs.Questioning the government’s contention that the step was taken to end the menace of black money, the former Union Minister said a bigger Rs 2000 note has been brought which is similar to the paper on which ‘churan’ is sold and “sheds colour”.Sharma alleged that the information on demonetisation was selectively leaked. “Your BJP units have deposited crores of rupees (just before the November 8 decision),” he said.He quoted some media reports to support his allegation, saying State Bank of India – the country’s largest lender – knew of the decision way back in March and a Gujarati newspaper had in April published a report of move to withdraw 500 and 1000 rupee notes.Sitaram Yechury (File Photo) Among those who demanded a JPC probe were Congress’ Pramod Tiwari, JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav and CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury.Congress is unequivocally opposed to black money and opposes any force that print counterfeit currency, Anand Sharma said while alleging that the government policy was to “benefit those who are your friends and hurt those who question you.”He said the government, in one stroke, took away 86.4 per cent of the over Rs 16 lakh crore currency in circulation.”Did the government think that 86 per cent of the currency in circulation was counterfeit or blackmoney,” he asked.He said an atmosphere has been created in the country where questions cannot be asked and those doing so are branded as anti-nationals.”The magnanimous Prime Minister allowed Rs 4000 of old currency to be changed… What right does the Constitution give the government to place restrictions on withdrawal of one’s hard-earned money,” the Congress leader asked, adding one has to “beg to be allowed to withdraw his own money.” He demanded a probe into “how many people bought more than Rs 1 crore of foreign currency and bullion” since April.”This is a serious issue… you never kept secrecy (about the decision),” the Congress leader said.He also wanted the Prime Minister to state where he got Rs 23,000-24,000 crore, estimated by the International Money Watch Group, for his Lok Sabha elections. He also asked if cheque or credit card payments were made to organise his rally in Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh a few days ago.Sharma said Modi had in his Goa speech had stated that those standing in line at banks were those involved in 2G spectrum and coal scam as well as holding blackmoney.”I condemn the Prime Minister for calling the poor standing in queue for his Rs 4000-4,500, blackmoney holders and scamster,” he said.The Congress leader also referred to Modi’s statement in Goa last week that certain forces were out to eliminate him and asked him to name the conspirators wanting to do so if the government has any such input.”Congress and this House will not tolerate anyone trying to harm the Prime Minister of the country,” he said.He took a dig at Modi for calling himself a ‘sanyasi’ (saint) and ‘tapasvi’, saying he was someone who “changes clothes five times a day”, has become the Prime Minister and travels around the globe.Sharma demanded that the names of persons holding accounts in Swiss bank and those revealed in the Leichtenstein and HSBC lists should be made public. The names of bank loan defaulters above Rs 5000 crore should also be made public.While the decision had put the common man to immense hardship by way of having to stand in long queues to lay hands on valid currency to meet daily needs, the information about demonetisation was selectively leaked to the “friends of BJP,” Sharma alleged.The move had branded 86 per cent of the currency in circulation black money and “everyone a criminal,” he said adding when Modi announced the plan it was expected that adequate arrangements would be made for dispensing new notes. So banks and ATMs were shut on November 9 but the expectation of normalcy from next day were dashed with queues only getting longer by the day.Piyush Goyal (File Photo) Power Minister Piyush Goyal, who spoke on behalf of the ruling side, rejected as baseless the opposition charge that there was “leakage” of the decision and said everyone was taken by surprise which is why there are “initial” problems.”There is no politics in it. It is a step taken in national interest,” he said, adding it will help the country in the long run.”If anyone has the strength to take on black money and corruption, it is the BJP government and Narendra Modi,” the minister said.He claimed that common people are out in support of the government’s move which is aimed against graft and terror and that the step will lead to curbing inflation and tax rate may come down.Goyal claimed that the country has welcomed this initiative of the Modi government and it is natural that some people who have black money and are indulging in corruption and blackmoney are worried about it.”There is no curb on honestly-earned money. So nobody should have a problem,” he added.”Desh me imandaar ka samman hua hai aur be-imaan ka nuksaan hua hai, (The honest have been honoured and the dishonest have faced losses),” he said.”I am confident that public is understanding the initial problems because the decision was kept a secret. No honest tax-payer will lose a single rupee. The loss will be of those who have amassed wealth through corruption and black money and the public should also support the government in the move,” he said.Goyal said some pain and difficulty in the implementation of such a decision is inevitable but despite that the people have strongly supported the move.He urged all the parties to support the move so that the House gives a message to the country that all are against corruption and black money.To Sharma’s charge that those questioning the government are labelled as anti-national, he said, “Understandably if someone opposes it (demonetisation), questions will be raised on whether they are against ending the menace of corruption and black money in the country.”Taking a dig at the opposition, he said, “We thought all political parties will support us in Parliament. But for some reasons they have opposed the move. It seems they are worried due to the large public favouring it and supporting the government despite the problems being faced by them.” Goyal also said BJP has already put out its poll expenses on the website and after this step all will think before indulging in corruption and black marketing.Responding to issues raised by the opposition, he said some people have been saying that seven or ten days’ time should have been given. “Secrecy is most important for such a step,” he added.Listing the benefits of the move, Goyal said interest rates will come down, inflation would be curbed and even the tax rate will come down.”If 5 people don’t pay tax, the brunt is borne by the rest of 95 percent people. And if taxes are paid, there will be more money with the Centre to carry out welfare works for farmers, women, SC and ST sections,” he added.With regard to allegations that the move has been timed to benefit BJP in the UP elections, he said such a statement itself implies that people support this step.To demands that the government should declare the names of people who have Swiss Bank accounts, Goyal said such a step will make it difficult for government to obtain more information about such accounts.But some people want the government to make the error of declaring these names and then it will have difficulty in getting this information, he claimed.Sharma said an “undeclared emergency” has put common people to grave inconvenience while crime money, ill-gotten wealth and that accrued through corruption or tax evasion is black money.The Prime Minister should answer if he considers money in the market, or in households, or with farmers, workers and employees was also blackmoney, the Congress leader questioned.Ram Gopal Yadav (File Photo)Ram Gopal Yadav, who was expelled from SP but spoke on behalf of the party, joined Anand Sharma in alleging that information on demonetisation was “leaked” and termed it as a scam. He sought a JPC probe.”A BJP leader in Punjab had tweeted on November 5 about the new Rs 2000 note. How did this happen? This is an issue of concern. There is a scam in this. This should definitely be probed,” he said.The government decision has led to lot of hardships in the villages and the villagers have stopped buying normal things like toothpaste and hair oil, he said.The common people, especially the poor and the housewives were put to great hardship through this move and if elections are held today they will teach this government a lesson, said Yadav, a leader of poll-bound Uttar Pradesh.”Do not hold elections now. If you meet and ask for votes from housewives in villages, they will beat you up with ‘belan’ and you will have to embalm your back with turmeric,” he said, adding that you might lose elections if you hold early polls.”Elections are not fought with money power. You cannot win elections through money power. No one can win elections like that. Elections are won only by winning the hearts of people,” he said.Yadav said the entire House was against corrupt and drug money but lamented that an impression is being created that those opposing this are against curbing black money which is erroneous.On the Prime Minister’s remarks that he might be killed because of his move, Yadav said there should be a probe to find out who these people are and precaution should be taken.He said it should also be probed if the statement was made only for political motive.AIADMK leader Navneet Krishna said the RBI and the government have failed the rural people with this move which has threatened the saving habit of people.JD(U) Sharad Yadav, while seeking a JPC probe into the suspected leak, said the sudden move was akin to “jumping out of a moving train”.He said unlike the rich, who the PM said were standing in queue, it was the poor, handicapped and old people who were doing so to get their hands on their hard-earned money.He alleged that while loans worth Rs 7,000 crore was written off today by banks including Rs 1,200 crore of Vijay Mallya and said the Prime Minister has made the honesty of the country to stand in queues.Yadav also took a dig at Arun Jaitley, saying he was sure that the Finance Minister was not part of the decision making on demonetisation, because if he had been, Jaitley would have tipped him off. This remark left most members including Jaitley laughing.CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said of the 130 crore population in the country, only 2.6 crore have credit cards.He took a dig at Modi and narrated the infamous quote of Queen Marie Antoinette during the French revolution who had said that people can eat cakes when they don’t have bread. “We have Modi Antoinette who says ‘If you don’t have paper, use plastic'”.

Shows govt is serious about tackling black money: Read Chetan Bhagat’s take on demonetization

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Government of India announced the demonetization of the currency notes of values Rs 500 and Rs 1000, on November 8. The step was reportedly taken to curtail the black money that is in circulation, which is eventually expected to have far-reaching impact on the economy of the country, as well as cut the funding of all the anti-social elements.But the reception of the move was widely varied across the country. While some applauded, others were left appalled by this abrupt step. There were also reports of rampant inconvenience but the government along with the RBI, took steps to easy in the move.On that, Chetan Bhagat, the author of the books Revolution 2020, 3 Mistakes of My Life, amongst others, shared his opinion on Facebook. This is what he had to say:My Take on DemonetizationMany have asked me to give my views on demonetization, suggest any positive ideas and explain the benefits and issues in simple terms. Since it is not possible to do it all in a few tweets. Here is my take on it., both the MOVE itself as well as the EXECUTION of it.THE MOVE:Benefits:1) It shows government’s seriousness to tackle black money. This signaling effect alone is a huge benefit to the nation where many evade taxes.2) It will ensure a significant part of the black money gets back to the government. It’s not true that nobody gains from the money burnt/thrown away. (See next point)3) The old money not swapped in banks is effectively the government’s Profit. Say 17 lakh crs of total money existed in old notes, and only 13 lakh crores comes back. For remaining 4 lakh crores, the government can print new notes, and keep it themselves. Hence, the government does stand to make a lot of money in this (which can be then used for people)4) It’s nice to see a PM who works, has innovative ideas and wants to make a change. We have had leaders who sat quietly and did little. It is good to see a man of action.At the same time, like any policy, there are some issues.Issues:1) Execution of such an exercise in India is no joke. We just aren’t technically ready to do this in a smooth manner. (That is why we are facing some execution issues, which I get into later.)2) There are some tricks still people can use to swap black money into new money. It will reduce the amount of black money recovered.3) There is a huge cash economy in India. It isn’t ‘black’. It’s just cash. To suck up so much liquidity will lead to a slowdown and losses for a lot of people, for no fault of their own. The slowdown in economic activity will cause lower profits, and in turn lower taxes for the government.4) A potential crash in real estate prices. While some want property prices to fall, a huge drop can cause an economic shock, reduction in bank collateral values etc., again leading to a recession.5) The exercise by definition involves everyone swapping their money after showing their credentials. In effect, everyone has to prove they are innocent and have clean money. This is somewhat invasive to citizens, and while there is no other way, it remains an issue.6) The exercise would be expensive, and that cost needs to be taken into account.7) It’s a jolt to our stable monetary system. Doing it again and again will cause people to lose confidence in our currency. It’s really a one-off, and even that destabliizes things.8) The tax department may use it as an excuse to harass people later, with endless questioning about the extra bank entries.Net Effect:Overall, demonetization is a good move. Given the extent of black money in the country, and the tiny taxpayer base, something had to be done. It had to be drastic. It has been done now. We should now do what it takes to make it succeed.THE EXECUTION:As important as an idea is it’s execution. There clearly have been execution issues, causing pain to a lot of Indians who have wasted a lot of productive time in queues. While doing things for the nation is good, one need not have to suffer because of bad planning or someone not thinking things through. The good and bad of the execution are:Good:1. It’s happening, and still the country is chugging along. Banks across the country are slow, but doing their bit. There is no mass hunger, or calamity so far. Thank God.2. Government is taking steps to ease the pain. The change in limits helps. The banks are also devising ways to manage the crowds.3. People in India are on the whole, taking it well.Bad:1. Someone didn’t plan the logistics well – it is one thing to make an excel spreadsheet of number of bank branches and the people involved. It is quite another to when you deal with India’s reality on the ground. There are bottlenecks galore in this exercise – whether printing of notes, uncaliberated ATMs, or limits to the number of cash vans. One can say whatever about the secrecy required, but it seems that while finance professionals sat and spoke up in the meetings, industrial engineers and operations research experts probably did not to the extent required. We are seeing the fallout now.2. Citizens do not have to take so much pain. Inconvenience is one thing, suffering quite another. To say bear it in the name of patriotism is not listening to the issue – the execution is not efficient. It is the same as how people say – “Oh, the temple is dirty, bear it in the name of God.” Sorry, God had nothing to do with it. The temple management didn’t keep the temple clean. Same ways, patriotism has nothing to do with the fact that someone didn’t plan the ATMs better or didn’t make the new 500-Rs note available early.FINAL CONCLUSION AND IDEAS FOR SMOOTH EXECUTION:In final analysis, we should support demonetization, but keep reminding the government to iron out the execution issues. Some ideas:1. Online appointment booking for banks.2. Easy forms, which can be pre-filled. Faster check-outs at banks.3. Hiring interns at banks for short term, supervised by existing employees.4. Opening banks 24 X 7 after new hires come in.5. Supplying enough notes to banks as fast as possible.6. Fixing the ATMs7. Declaring one or two holidays (not for banks!) for people to get their finances in order 8. Removing withdrawal limits as fast as possible.9. Having empathy for people in lines, from the highest levels of government.10. Giving an incentive to people to come to the bank. A meal coupon would go a long way too.I hope the above helps you understand demonetization better. I also hope you focus on the making the exercise work, which means supporting the idea and yet demanding better execution. It also means not to get sucked into any propaganda or political drama.Do share with others if you think this will help people get some clarity on what is going on and what needs to be done.God bless.Thanks, love and Jai Hind,Chetan Bhagat

‘With 95% exam attendance, J-K students gave befitting reply to militants’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Students from Jammu and Kashmir have given a befitting reply to terrorists as 95% of them appeared for their class XII board examination in the state, which is in itself is a powerful “surgical strike”, HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar said on Tuesday.”In Kashmir Valley, for the past several months, schools were shut, over 30 had been burnt. But students from J-K, Leh and Ladakh have given a befitting reply to terrorists with a presence of 95% in the board exam held on Monday,” he said.Emphasising that this was “India’s reply”, Javadekar said the country believed in education and progress and the message was that no design to break the country would succeed.”I’m proud of those children and their parents who are the strength of India. Education is the way to progress. They have understood and given this befitting reply. We have seen the surgical strike of the army, but this reply given by students is also a powerful surgical strike,” he said.Javadekar, who was speaking at an event ‘Kala Utsav’, said all should get a basic level of education that supports them in life but added that unique talents should be brought to the fore as well.Later speaking on the sidelines of the event, he made it clear that compulsory class X board examinations will be introduced for CBSE students from the next academic session 2017 18.”There is no confusion, today more than 23 million students appear for tenth board examination over the country through state boards. For CBSE also half the students appear for the exam, while half don’t appear because there was an option available,” Javadekar said.Now those 2 million who chose the option will also have to take the exam, he said.The measure, however, he emphasised will be implemented from the next academic year, saying goalposts or rules should not be shifted mid-course. The move will bring about parity with state boards, he said.

War on black money: PM Modi asks for fifty days, Rahul Gandhi cries foul

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hitting out at the Congress, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said it did not have the strength to touch high value currency during its rule and asserted that the “clean up” was required as a lot had been looted in the last 70 years. “I am surprised that the Congress is asking why did I stop Rs 1000 notes and 500 notes. When you stopped 25 paise, did we say anything? You could dare to stop only 25 paise, that’s what your power was limited to. But you did not make higher denomination currency notes illegal. … We did it.”People have chosen a government and they expect so much from it,” Modi said, as he took on Congress which has been critical of the Centre’s demonetisation move.”You had also agreed to stop (black money), but you did not have the strength to stop big notes. You wanted to run the vehicle (by stopping) 25 paise,” he said.Lashing out at the previous UPA government, he said, “On the night of November 8, at 8 o’clock, did you see (what happened)? In 2012, 2013, 2014 newspapers were filled with news about lots of money being eaten up in scams like coal and 2G. But after November 8, their position was such that they had to stand in line for Rs 4,000.””Those who question me today… those who had heard my speeches… I have not said this for the first time. Many years ago I had said in a public function that Congress doesn’t have strength so they are stopping 25 paise, if I’m given a chance I will stop Rs 1,000 note,” he said.The Prime Minister, who was speaking at the centenary celebrations of Karnataka Lingayat Education (KLE) Society, a leading educational institution here, said the government did not want to harass the honest but would not spare the dishonest.”… it has been 70 years, tell me has the country been looted or not? Has corruption taken place or not? Are big stacks of cash lying at houses or not?” the Prime Minister said, strongly defending “the war” against black money.”Enough has been looted. You have seen looters. For 70 years the country has been looted, give me 70 months I will clean it up,” he added.”These people who used to ask what has Modi done? Switch on your TV and see what Modi did on 8th November,” he said.Stating that he has started a “sacred work” for the “honesty” people, he added, “If you believe in my honesty and my work, if you believe in my words to clean up notes I need you blessings, please bless me.” Asserting that he has not hidden anything from the people, Modi sought their support in “protecting the honest” in the ongoing drive against black money, amid reports of long queues and cash crunch at banks and post offices where people thronged to exchange the now-invalid currency.”If I lie, you have the right to get angry on me. I had said on the first day, give me 50 days for this work, give me time till 30 December. I had said on the first day itself that there will be difficulty till 30 December. I have worked taking the country into confidence.”There are crores of people in this country who are living with honesty. Please tell me isn’t it the duty of the government to protect the honest, to punish the dishonest?” he said seeking people’s support on the issue.”The country is happy. On November 8, the poor of India slept in peace and the rich went in search of sleeping pills but no one was there to give it to them,” he remarked.Emphasising that “humongous task” was involved in the operation, Modi said, “I have only asked you for 50 days for the sake of the country.”The government had removed tax on credit cards and debit cards in budget, he said, adding, “It was done because I had to do this today.”Jan Dhan accounts were also opened along with which Rupay cards were given to 20 crore people so that they get used to transacting with it, he said. “It will take time, but we started it two years ago. I have not done it all of a sudden,” he added.Hinting at more steps to crackdown on black money, the Prime Minister said, “Dishonest and those protecting them listen to me with open ears, after December 30 Modi will not stop.””Those who were not putting 25 paise in Gangaji are today putting these notes in the river. I saw on TV that a sweeper woman got Rs 57,000 in garbage which she informed to police. The PM also complimented bank officials for their work, saying, “I was seeing that those working in banks what they used to work in one year, they have worked in these 10 days…. appreciate them for their good work.” “The country is tired of corruption. There is pain, I agree that because of this decision of mine there is pain, but there is more gain for the country,” he said, adding, “I want to assure you that I’m standing with you.” The exercise will continue till December 30 and it will be fruitful, Modi said, as he warned that “those trying to show honesty by other means and trying to deposit money, I will open your history and impose 200 per cent penalty.”Mediocrity comes face to face reality: Rahul GandhiTaking a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi getting emotional over inconvenience caused to the common man over the government’s demonetisation step, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said the PM was now facing concrete reality. In a series of tweets, the Congress vice-president said, “First laughter now tears! Mediocrity comes face to face with reality.””If trucks go off the roads, supply of essentials across the country will be paralysed. Hope Mr Modi has a plan for this,” he said in another tweet while pointing at the liquidity crunch.Gandhi had earlier tweeted about a smiling Modi during the latter’s visit to Japan recently. “Modi laughs as poor cry,” he had tweeted. The Prime Minister got emotional while addressing a function at Panaji over the problems being faced by people after the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes.

Watch: Dr Subhash Chandra backs PM Modi’s war on black money

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Essel Group Chairman and Rajya Sabha member Dr Subhash Chandra threw his weight behind PM Modi’s war on black money stating that it was a ‘good thing for all us’. He said: “My humble submission to whosoever is listening to this is to support him (PM Modi). This is a good thing for all of us, particularly the common man. Maybe big people like me will hate, but I ask them also, let us stop this. Let us be clean. Let us enjoy the money we earn, because the enjoyment can be only if you make legitimate money. Our military give their lives for the country, why can’t we give him the 50 days that he has asked for. In fact, I am willing to give 500 days. Of course, even today I am very happy because we had no issue of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes in our group.”

Salt price rumours: Govt says no shortage of salt, promises strict action against hoarders

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rubbishing rumours of shortage of salt in the country, the Union government on Friday said there has been no increase in prices of the commodity which is being sold at Rs 14-15 per kg in retail markets. “This is rubbish. There is no truth in this rumour. There is no shortage of salt in the country. On an average, salt prices are ruling at Rs 14-15 per kg same at last year’s level. There has not been increase in prices,” Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan told PTI. Uncessary panic is being spread that salt is being sold at Rs 200 per kg. “Those who have sold at Rs 200, the UP government should take action and arrest them,” he said.Department of Consumer Affairs Government of India have been informed about the rumoured increase in the prices of salt in some parts of the country. The Department monitors the prices of 22 Essential Commodities on daily basis. As per the prices reported by centres from across the country, there has been no increase in price of salt whatsoever. There has been no report about any disruption in production of salt, its supply and distribution. remaining quantity is for industrial use and exports. Thus, there is sufficient manoeuvrability to meet any unexpected localised shortage, if any. No cause for Panic thus. The total production of salt in India, on an average, is about 220 lakh tonnes. Of this, only around 60 lakh tonnes is used for domestic consumption.If anyone is selling at such high rates in any parts of the country, the state governments should take immediate action, he added. In a series of tweets, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman too said there was no shortage of edible salt. “Baseless rumours being spread. Salt Commissioner & Jt Secretary Shri Raghavendra monitoring the situation. Asst.Salt Commissioners reporting from the field. No shortage. Monitoring will be on-going,” she tweeted.Lack of small denomination currency on Friday triggered rumours of black marketing of essential commodities like salt as shopkeepers refused to provide change when offered with higher denomination notes.In Uttar Pradesh, there were reports of panicked customers flocking to market as rumours flew thick and fast that salt has gone out of shelves and shopkeepers are selling at a premium — a high as Rs 200 per kg. Consumer Affairs Secretary Hem Pande said, “There is no truth in this rumour. It is all rumour mongering. There is no problem in supply, distribution and prices of salt in the country.”UP ADG (Law and Order) Daljit Chaudhary promised to take strict action against those spreading rumours and assured people that there was no shortage of salt. Other officials also looked to assure people that salt wasn’t in short supply, and it wouldn’t be sold at a higher rate. The Moradabad DM said: “These are rumours that salt will be sold at higher rates, this led to panic among people today. Salt is not going to be sold even one rupee more than its original rate, so people need not worry.” He said that the prices have been ruling stable at Rs 12 per kg in the wholesale markets and Rs 14-15 per kg in retail. Asked if the Centre has spoken on this issue with the UP government, Pande said, “We have spoken to state officials and they too informed us that there is no truth in this rumour. Prices in UP are ruling on an average at Rs 16-17 per kg”.The centre has also checked the price situation of salt in other states as well and there has not been any increase in the rate of the essential commodity. Meanwhile, Delhi government also appealed to Delhiites not to pay attention to rumours of shortage of salt in the city and assured that there is no scarcity of such essential commodity.Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said teams of food supply officers and sub-divisional magistrates are rounding city’s markets where salt is available in sufficient stock.

Rs 500, Rs 1000 banned: Resale property market, small builders to be hit by PM Modi’s revelation

New Delhi: Unorganised builders and secondary (resale) property market would be adversely impacted following the government’s decision to demonetise Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes with effect from midnight, according to real estate developers and consultants.

Housing prices could witness downward pressure, helping revive demand in the sluggish housing segment, they added.

“We are moving toward the cashless economy which is a sign of maturing economy. It’s a step in the right direction,” DLF CEO Rajeev Talwar told PTI.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

“The blackmoney was mostly in land purchase. But in last 6-7 years, there has been no major land buying in this sector. Big builders and organised players are already using bank channel and they would gain from this decision. Unorganised players and the secondary market would be impacted,” he said.

Asked about impact on real estate sector especially housing, Talwar said: “There could be downward pressure on prices, which will boost demand”.

When contacted, JLL India Country Head and Chairman Anuj Puri said: “It will not have any impact on the primary residential segment as the buyer in this sector are driven by mortgage. The impact will be felt in the secondary market and the unorganised developers community where there were still cash dealing.”

Terming it as a very good move, Puri said: “This decision will help institutionalise the real estate sector”.

“Its a fantastic and bold move by the government. A lot of money will get into the banking systes,” CREDAI Chairman Irfan Razack told PTI.

“Listed entities and organised players will not be affected from this decision,” he said, adding that there would not be much impact on housing demand and sales.

Razack, who is chirman of bengaluru-based Prestige Estates, said there could be some impact on secondary market of big cities but primary market is largely through banking channel.

Realty industry body CREDAI President Gitambar Anand said that primary market will not be impacted but resale market will feel the pinch.

Rs 500, Rs 1,000 notes banned, new Rs 2,000 note: Twitterati expects major real estate crash after Modi’s address

Rs 500, Rs 1,000 notes banned, new Rs 2,000 note: Twitterati expects major real estate crash after Modi’s address

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address to the nation took the country by storm with his announcement to make Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes untenable as legal tender post midnight on 8 November, 2016.

Rs 1000 note: Soon to become part of memoryRs 1000 note: Soon to become part of memory

Rs 1000 note: Soon to become part of memory

The prime minister said that this was done ‘in a grand sacrifice to cleanse the country like you cleanse your surroundings’, the government has decided to make Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes no more legal tender post midnight tonight. So these notes in your possession are mere useless pieces of paper.

Modi said the measures were aimed at curbing the “disease” of corruption and black money which have taken deep root. “There is a need for a decisive war against the menace of corruption, black money and terrorism… Corruption, black money and terrorism are festering wounds which make the country hollow from within,” he said.

Twitteratti termed it a ‘surgical strike on black money’. Here are some of the ‘note’-worthy tweets:

Some chose to see the word ‘ban’ in this manner:

Which party would benefit, asked some:

Baba Ramdev too was evoked:

Freedom of press should be used in the nation’s interest: Naidu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> With opposition and media slamming action against NDTV India, Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said the NDA government is committed to freedom of press but media should use it keeping in mind the interests of the nation and the people. The Union Information and Broadcasting Minister also said the well-being of the country and society should be kept in mind before broadcasting or publishing any news, and stressed that news and views should not be mixed. “A big discussion is going on in the country that there should be freedom of press. It should compulsorily be there and the government is committed to this. But, there is a need to think. We are citizens first and then the journalists. That’s my view,” he said. “Our government believes in freedom of press and wants the media to truly appreciate the value of such freedom so that it is best used in the interest of the country and the people,” Naidu said addressing a programme for Urdu journalists here.He said while giving/broadcasting news, oen should keep in mind the interests of society and nation first. “The news you are giving should not promote clashes between groups, religions or create unrest in society. The news should not cause harm to the nation’s interests. There should be self-restraint (in following rules),” Naidu said.Journalists should remember that freedom of expression is best utilised only when the value of such freedom is fully appreciated, he said, adding that when this freedom is not exercised judiciously, our existing laws provide for necessary interventions. He advised that journalists must always look for information, but must run the news only after confirmation. “Be nearer to truth and keep away from sensationalism. But what is happening in the electronic media is sensationalism,” he said.Stating that there are some regulations that media should not preach, something which is anti-national; not propagate against the interest of the country aspects like obscenity, vulgarity, encouraging violence, Venkaiah asked electronic media and cinema should seriously think about how to avoid vulgarity, obscenity and violence. He said, “The important thing in media is credibility… which is very important…but now credibility is missing in most of the media, which is unfortunate. We must always work for credibility.” Emphasising that news and views should never be combined, Naidu said “But it is now happening in the country. People are trying to combine news and views, which should never be mixed.”The minister further said information along with confirmation is the “best ammunition”. “Information can fight corruption, inequality, discrimination, oppression. Information can give you entitlement. Through information people will be empowered,” he said. “First give the news and then have the debate. but what is happening is, even TV debates try to mix both the things and then they argue and try to teach us also,” he said.The Union Minister also urged journalists to first focus on truth and then focus on pro-people, rural people, weaker section, women and their views should be heard.”You (journalists) have to reflect the reality of the social combination of the society so that you will be doing justice,” he said, adding that journalists must upgrade their skills and try to become “ideal” journalists.”Urdu is a sweet language and it has also enriched Indian culture over the centuries, but unfortunately some people have linked it with religion in between. Time has come we have to encourage our regional languages…as a language Urdu should also be encouraged,” he said. The minister also said that plans were afoot to increase the time of Urdu bulletin aired on Doordarshan.

People of country broadly happy with decision: Naidu on NDTV India ban

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Information and Broadcasting minister M Venkaiah Naidu attacked those criticising the one-day ban on NDTV India over its Pathankot coverage, saying the “belated criticism” is clearly “ill informed and politically inspired” to create a controversy. The belated criticism of the action proposed to be taken against NDTV India for violating the norms of live coverage of anti-terrorist operations by security personnel in Pathankot in January this year is clearly ill informed and politically inspired, he told reporters here. “Such reactions that came a day after the Government’s decision was in public domain on November 3, 2016 was clearly an afterthought, suggesting a motivated design to create a controversy where none existed,” the senior minister said. He asserted that people of the country should know that the UPA Governments, during 2005-14, ordered several TV channels to go off air in 21 instances, for a period ranging from one day to two months for showing obscene visuals including 13 cases of telecasting ‘Adult’ rated certified films.One channel was taken off air for 30 days for telecasting a sting operation, he said. “People of the country are also wise enough to appreciate which of the two violations showing obscene visuals at the stroke of midnight and risking the lives of defence personnel and civilians through a live telecast of anti-terrorist operations in broad daylight- is a serious threat to the interests of the nation including its sovereignty, integrity and security,” Naidu said. The Minister said the decision against NDTV India was not based on any newly invented rule and principle. “The ground on which action has been proposed against NDTV India was only a logical conclusion of concerns clearly articulated by the UPA Government in various advisories issued after 26/11 terror attacks on multiple targets in Mumbai in 2008,” he said. Rejecting criticism that compared the present case to Emergency, Naidu said many BJP leaders and a large number of activists were at the “worst receiving end of Emergency and would shudder to even think of doing the same to others and particularly, in respect of freedom of media.” Responding to criticism by Editors Guild of India, Naidu said, “The Editors Guild of India, a responsible organisation that took a full day to come out with its response should realise that under Sub-section (2) of Section 20 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, Central Government is required to regulate or prohibit the transmission of any channel or programme in the interest of sovereignty, integrity and security of India and as per Para 8.1 of Uplinking Guidelines, is empowered to take action for transmitting any objectionable content inconsistent with public interest. Therefore, the Government is not required to approach the Courts in such cases, as suggested by the Guild, he added. “I leave it to the wisdom of the Editors Guild to ponder if the decision against NDTV India for the reasons explained, is really reminiscent of the dark days of Emergency,” he said. Naidu said that very recently in an interaction, he had stressed that effective self-regulation by media is the best way of protecting its freedom and we are committed to it.”I also said that freedom is best upheld when its value is fully appreciated. In this case, that much valued freedom was not put to best use by NDTV India. I am happy to note that the people of the country are broadly with the decision in the matter of NDTV India,” he said.Always, there will be a minority who are critical of whatever the Government does in the best interest of the country, Naidu added. The minister also said that in several advisories issued by the previous UPA Government, all news and current affairs TV channels were clearly asked to exercise restraint, maturity and sensitivity while reporting on anti-terrorist operations in the larger interest of safety and security of security forces involved in such operations and civilians. Expressing concern over continued violations, the then UPA Government concluded that any coverage violating such norms amount to coverage against the interests of the nation, he added. Naidu said the NDA Government too issued a couple of such advisories and like the then UPA Government, noticed continued violations as in the case of Gurdaspur terrorist attack. As the Government is deeply committed to upholding the sovereignty, integrity and security of the country, particularly, in the context of cross border terrorism, the government issued a Gazette Notification in March this year requiring TV channels to limit live coverage of anti-terrorist operations to the briefings of designated officers, in the larger security interests involved, he said. NDTV India, in this case has been found to have violated this provision and was found to be unrepentant about what they have done. This channel was also found to have resorted to similar violations earlier, he said. This decision, accordingly, was only a culmination of the larger security concerns being expressed since 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. The Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) that recommended action against the channel did so after duly acknowledging the instant reach and power of television unlike other media and only recommended suspension of telecast just for one day as a token, so that the said channel cannot get away completely for being even unrepentant in the matter.

Mulayam Singh Yadav invites Janata Parivar leaders to SP’s silver jubilee celebrations

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amid the talk of a Bihar-like grand alliance in Uttar Pradesh, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, who shared dais with Janata parivar leaders on Saturday at an event marking the party’s silver jubilee, said he had invited all to “sit together” and think about the problems prevailing in the country.”Today is the foundation day of the party. I have not invited all of them (Janata Parivar leaders) without any reason. We have to think about the entire nation and the problems people are facing. We will unitedly think about it…,” he said in his address.Six offshoots of ‘Janata Parivar’ had merged together last year ahead of the Assembly elections in Bihar to form a new party to take on a resurgent BJP. The merger took place almost two decades after the then Janata Dal disintegrated in the 90s.”The country is dealing with problems on the border. Soldiers are laying down their lives to save the country. This is the time for struggle, he said, adding, “One cannot get power for free. For this, he has to struggle.” Mulayam claimed that the Muslim community was “facing most atrocities in the country”.”We have to see if atrocities are inflicted on Muslims under the SP rule. This should not happen in our government. Muslims want an SP government in the state again…,” he said and asked Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav to look into problems of the community.Mulayam claimed that 21 crore people do not get a proper meal in India and asked SP workers to observe the party’s foundation day as “Sankalp Diwas” with an aim to eradicate poverty. He also said the party cannot include all in the state and national executives.”Everyone wants to become a member of the party executives. This is a challenge…The national executive should not be big,” he said.

Venkaiah naidu decries criticism of ban on NDTV India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>enouncing references to the Emergency in the context of the one-day ban on NDTV India channel, Information and Broadcasting minister Venkaiah Naidu on said the action against the Hindi news channel was taken in the interest of the “country’s safety and security”.Addressing a press conference, he said the NDA government has the highest regard for freedom of media and politicisation of such issues will only affect the safety and security of the country. He also slammed Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi for “talking about the dark days of Emergency”. “I was surprised, aghast. Some people talked of Emergency-like situation. The action was taken in the interest of the country’s safety and security”, he said.”I do not know how they are saying this is the first time. I read in a newspaper today that it is first time (that Government has issued a ban on a television channel). Shall I give the list of how many times channels were ordered to go off air?”, he asked. Listing out the names of some of the channels that were banned in the past, he said, “AXN was banned for two months. FTV was banned for two months. Enter10 for one day. ABN AndhraJyoti seven days. Al Jazeera was banned for five days for showing wrong map of India. “These are all done earlier. Now they are saying it is done for the first time, murder of democracy, Emergency reminiscent and all”, he noted.
ALSO READ Govt on NDTV ban: Nation comes first “People know what is good and what is bad and people understand what is required in the larger interest of the country. That is why I saw that people on social media supported the Government’s stand except some people who are not well informed”, he said. “Politicisation of such issues will affect the safety and security of the country”, Naidu, who is here to attend a conference organised by Builders Association of India, said.Maintaining that the Government was duty bound to act on such issues and does not require to approach the courts, he said, “I have to answer tomorrow in Parliament. I have to answer people tomorrow.”
ALSO READ Govt defends NDTV India ban, says UPA gave 21 such orders “Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi is talking about dark days of Emergency. Do you know what is Emergency? Some people who were in the Congress at that time and now in different political parties also joined the chorus now because it has become a fashion. They just want to use each and every occasion to criticise the government and take the name of the Prime Minister for each and everything”, he said. Responding to criticism by Editors Guild of India, Naidu said, “The Editors Guild of India, a responsible organisation that took a full day to come out with its response should realise that under Sub-section (2) of Section 20 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, Central Government is required to regulate or prohibit the transmission of any channel or programme in the interest of sovereignty, integrity and security of India and as per Para 8.1 of Uplinking Guidelines, is empowered to take action for transmitting any objectionable content inconsistent with public interest.
ALSO READ From Kejriwal to Rahul Gandhi: How politicians reacted to NDTV India’s one-day banTherefore, the Government is not required to approach the Courts in such cases, as suggested by the Guild, he added. “I leave it to the wisdom of the Editors Guild to ponder if the decision against NDTV India for the reasons explained, is really reminiscent of the dark days of Emergency,” he said.Naidu said that very recently in an interaction, he had stressed that effective self-regulation by media is the best way of protecting its freedom and we are committed to it. “I also said that freedom is best upheld when its value is fully appreciated. In this case, that much valued freedom was not put to best use by NDTV India. I am happy to note that the people of the country are broadly with the decision in the matter of NDTV India,” he said.Always, there will be a minority who are critical of whatever the Government does in the best interest of the country, Naidu added. The minister also said that in several advisories issued by the previous UPA Government, all news and current affairs TV channels were clearly asked to exercise restraint, maturity and sensitivity while reporting on anti-terrorist operations in the larger interest of safety and security of security forces involved in such perations and civilians.Expressing concern over continued violations, the then UPA Government concluded that any coverage violating such norms amount to coverage against the interests of the nation, he added.

S&P’s decision to hold India rating for 2 yrs hits Modi govt where it hurts the most

In a major set back for the Narendra Modi government, which came to power promising a quick turnaround of economy and jobs, global ratings agency on Wednesday said it is retaining its rating for the country at BBB-, with stable outlook, depsite the government’s best of efforts urging the company to revise upwards the ratings. This is the lowest investment grade rating.

What came as a bigger shock was S&P’s assertion that the rating for the country is unlikely to change for two years.

ReutersReuters

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The government has reacted with anger. Department of economic affairs secretary Shaktikantha Das at a press conference said the rating agency should do introspection for not upgrading India despite unparalleled reforms anywhere in world. He also said there is disconnect between investors’ thinking and rating agencies and also promised to continue taking measures necessary to strengthen the economy, boost GDP growth and create jobs.

Here are the key facts of the development:

What did the rating agency say?

1) A rating constraint is India’s low GDP per capita, which we estimate at
US$1,700 in 2016.

2) We believe domestic supply-side factors will increasingly bind economic performance, and the government has little ability to undertake countercyclical fiscal policy given its current debt burden.

3) This debt load and India’s overall weak public finances are additional rating
constraints.

4) The country’s fiscal challenges reflect both revenue underperformance and constraints on expenditure.

5) Although we expect the administration to pursue medium-term fiscal consolidation, we foresee that planned revenues may not fully materialize and subsidy cuts may be delayed.

6) The stable outlook balances India’s sound external position and inclusive policymaking tradition against the vulnerabilities stemming from its low per capita income and weak public finances.

7) But the rater has also given credit for the government’s efforts. It said the NDA government has made progress in building consensus on a passage of laws to address long-standing impediments to the country’s growth. These include comprehensive tax reforms through the likely introduction in the first half of 2017 of a goods and services tax to replace complex and distortive indirect taxes. Other measures include strengthening the business climate (such as through simplifying regulations and improving contract enforcement and trade), boosting labour market flexibility, and reforming the energy sector.

8) Despite all this, the agency has said that it does not “expect to change our rating on India this year or next, based on our current set of forecasts”.

What did the government say?

Talking to reporters after S&P Global Ratings’ issued the statement, economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das said: “If the rating has not been improved, it’s a matter which doesn’t bother us so much. It’s a question which calls for an introspection among those who do the rating.”

According to him, global investors feel India is highly “under-rated”. “There is a disconnect, therefore, between what the investors are thinking of, what they have in their mind, and (what) the rating agencies are concluding. I think somewhere there is a disconnect,” he said.

“If you compare the various factors which the report itself talk about, is there any other economy that equals this? So with all this, if there is no improvement, I think it’s a matter for the rating agency itself to put a question to itself and perhaps undertake a kind of introspection,” Das said.

Why is the government worried?

The rater’s assertion that it will not raise the rating has hit the govenrment where it hurts the most.

In every international forum possible prime minister Narendra Modi has marketed India as the most investor friendly country. Listing out his acheivements, he has insisted that he has turned around the country’s processes. A rating upgrade would have supported his arguments.

Apart from this, a fairly large amount critics still believe the prime minister has done nothing much to improve the economy. The schemes that he has launched are just a rehash of the one the UPA-2 had rolled out, they say. They feel the government is doing a fine job of managing the headlines. Had an upgrade come now, it would have served to shut the mouths of these ‘naysayers’.

Also, S&P’s statement closely follows Moody’s, which also made somewhat similar staments about the country in September. “We have a positive outlook on India. On balance, the risk is on the upside. We are continuously monitoring the rating. We see pressure building up in 1-2 years and any tangible change could bring about a change in rating,” Moody’s Sovereign Group Senior V-P Marie Diron had said. Moody’s has a ‘Baa3’ rating with a positive outlook for India.

It is to be noted that both the raters had accorded the low ratings during the UPA regime because of the then prevailing policy paralysis and global situation. while Moody’s accorded the Baa3 rating in August 2011, S&P’s low investment grade rating came in April 2012. The only change they have made in the last 4-5 years is in the outlook. While S&P changed the outlook to stable in September 2014, Moody’s did it in April 2015.

It definitely pricks the NDA government that despite pitching for an upgrade many times with the raters, they have not obliged and the rating continues to be the one that the country got under the UPA. Unless the rating changes, Modi cannot claim a complete break from UPA’s past. And this indeed is painful and explains the shocked reaction from the government.

However, with S&P ruling out any upgrade for two more years, the NDA government seems to be running out of luck on this count.

With inputs from Kishor Kadam

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