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PM Modi’s New Year’s Eve Speech at 7:30 PM | Live streaming and where to watch in India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rejecting media reports that the PM’s address to the nation at 7:30 PM on December 31, the BJP said that that the speech would go ahead as planned. The BJP Twitter handle tweeted: “Narendra Modi live address to the nation at 7:30 PM on Dec 31: Live streaming and where to watch in India.”Here’s how you can watch PM Modi’s address:Time: 7:30 PM IST on December 31, 2017Watch it on Facebook live on BJP’s pageWatch the live stream on YouTubeCheck it on the BJP websiteYou can also watch the speech on PM Modi’s website​The speech will also be broadcast on all TV channels including Zee News. ​DNA will add the links when the PM speaks. What we know so far? The BJP-led NDA Government, which has come under sharp criticism post the November 8 demonetization drive, will roll out a massive canvassing campaign beginning with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the nation on December 31.Sources said all Central Ministers have been asked to visit at least 10 places and hold rallies and mass contact event so as to convince the masses about the decision to demonetize high-value currency notes.As many as 10 towns visited by each minister will be mix of rural and urban places and more focus will be on poll-bound states as Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and especially rural areas.In the wake of the realisation in the government that demonetization related problems will continue for some time, a detailed dossier on demonetization issue has been given to all Central Ministers explaining need of the drive to various milestones achieved along with its success stories.All mass media platforms from radio, TV to field publicity will be used.Sources disclosed that around 60-page documents have been distributed to all ministers by the Finance Ministry in which every aspect of demonetization has been described point by point.The Finance Minister in the document has described the need for initiating such a step, future action plan and impact on major policies.Prime Minister Modi had earlier urged the nation to give him 50 days post the demonetization decision to get things back on track. After demonetization, the government has taken a number of steps to ensure that no hardship is faced by tourists and the industry is not affected.Till date, the government has made several changes to the norms.The demonetization decision has also taken a toll on the common man, with reports of some dying while standing in queues to collect money.In between all this, Prime Minister Modi has continued to address the nation at various public gatherings and his ‘Mann ki Baat’ radio programme.

Deadline to deposit banned notes ends today. Here’s a list of flip-flop in norms by Centre post demonetization

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The deadline to deposit old Rs. 500 and 1,000 currency notes ends on Saturday. However, the people will still have time to exchange the currency notes at designated Reserve Bank of India (RBI) counters till March 31 after giving valid reasons for not depositing defunct notes in their accounts by December 30. From today, it will be illegal to have the banned notes and one could be fined heavily for carrying them according to a new law.One can deposit old notes only in select branches of RBI after today’s deadline. Furnishing wrong information while depositing the old currency between January 1 and March 31 will attract a fine of Rs 5,000 or five times the amount. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to address the nation this evening, and according to reports, is expected to spell out the post-demonetization roadmap. This will be his second address to the nation since his announcement to scrap 1,000 and 500 rupees notes on November 8. While announcing the landmark decision, he had asked the people to give 50 days for demonetization and getting accustomed to a cashless economy. In a television address to the nation on November 8, Prime Minister Modi said, “The magnitude of cash in circulation is directly linked to the level of corruption. Inflation becomes worse through the deployment of cash earned in corrupt ways.” He said to break the grip of corruption and black money, the government has decided that from midnight Rs. 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes will cease to be legal tender. Till date, the government has made several changes to the norms.After reports on crop sowing taking a hit due to no availability of cash, the government allowed the farmers to buy seeds with old Rs 500 currency notes. A November 17 announcement allowed the farmers to withdraw up to Rs. 25,000 per week from their KYC-compliant account.Following reports on abuse of Jan Dhan accounts, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) capped the withdrawal limit to Rs 10,000 per month.On November 17, the government made more modifications to the existing rules. Families could now withdraw up to Rs. 2.5 lakh for weddings. The currency exchange limit was reduced from Rs 4,500 to Rs 2,000 per person.The traders in agricultural mandis were permitted to draw up to Rs 50,000 in cash per week to pay for sundry expenses like wages.Also, government employees up to Group C could draw Rs. 10,000 salary in advance in cash.The demonetization decision has also taken a toll on the common man, with reports of some dying while standing in queues to collect money. In between all this, Prime Minister Modi has continued to address the nation at various public gatherings and through his ‘Mann ki Baat’ radio programme.Making an emotional appeal at an event in Goa on November 13, Prime Minister Modi asked the “honest” people of the country to bear the hardships for another 50 days.Exactly two weeks later on November 27, the Prime Minister urged the farmers and small traders to go cashless at his monthly ‘Mann ki Baat’ address. “The common man will be trouble free if they are made aware of the digital financial transaction options,” he said asking the youth to lead the change.The opposition cornered the government during the Winter Session of Parliament over the inconvenience faced by the nation post-demonetization.

Demonetisation: RBI ups ATM withdrawal limit to Rs 4,500/day from 1 Jan

The Reserve Bank on Friday late night increased the withdrawal limit from ATMs to Rs 4,500 per day from the current Rs 2,500 from 1 January. However, there has been no change in the weekly withdrawal limit, which stands at Rs 24,000, including from ATM, for individuals (Rs 50,000 in case of small traders).

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

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

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

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

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

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

However, it remains to be seen whether the relaxation in cash limits will be of any help to the customers as, according to media reports, banks do not yet have enough cash to supply to the ATMs.

A report in The Indian Express on Friday said only 40 percent of the 2.2 lakh ATMs in the country have cash to serve the public.

The report quotes Ramaswamy Venkatachalam, managing director, India and South Asia, Fidelity Information Services (FIS), as saying that banks are not meeting the “full cash requirement” to operate ATMs round the clock.

The RBI and the government also seem to be clueless about when the cash situation will return to normalcy, though they insist there is enough notes to dispense.

Even on the 50th day of demonetisation they have not been able to provide the update the details of the new currency issued and also the deposits of old notes received.

The last press release on the cash situation was on 21 December from the RBI. As of 19 December, the banks have issued Rs 5.93 lakh crore to public either over the counter or through ATMs. That is a nearly 40 percent of the cash sucked out of the system on 9 November, when the demonetisation came into effect.

In this backdrop, while the public and the authorities are remain clueless about when the cash situation will improve, the increase in withdrawal limit from ATMs would mean little for the customers.

With PTI

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 09:41 IST

Linear projects: A rising threat to our forests and wildlife: Fauna

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Earlier this month, on December 5, locals at Hojai in Assam’s Nagaon district witnessed a distressing incident. A speeding Kanyakumari-Dibrugarh Vivek Express rammed into three elephants, killing them. It included two pregnant elephants, who delivered stillborn calves. Only 12 days later, two adult elephants and a calf were killed when a train hit them 125kms away from Guwahati, again in Nagaon district. These two accidents along with another one on December 6 took the life of eight elephants in December alone.The accidents in Assam and the rise in proposed linear projects such as highways, railway line doubling, power transmission lines and canals once again bring to attention how perhaps certain developmental projects pose the biggest threats to our forests and wildlife. A deeper look into projects that have been both, proposed and cleared, reveals that they will pass through some of our most dense forests that are home to rich biodiversity, varied wildlife and are precious sources of freshwater in fast warming climate. In 2016, some crucial linear projects that will fragment our forests, were cleared or have made their way towards being cleared.Wildlife corridors under threatFor instance, in March, the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL), chaired by the Prime Minister, cleared conversion of the 227-km long Gondia-Jabalpur line from narrow gauge to broad gauge. Of this 227km, 77km will pass through the Kanha-Pench tiger corridor, considered one of the most crucial in the country for it allows tigers from two different source populations and gene pools to move to newer territories.In Eastern India, the Indian Railways has approved expansion of the 156km long Sambalpur-Angul railway line, that already fragments Satkosia-Ushakoti-Badrama elephant and tiger landscape.Conservationists and wildlife activists have argued that while large linear projects should be avoided in forests and wildlife habitats, there is also an acute lack of standardized environmental safeguards.Lack of willIn the case of National Highway – 7 widening, that will pass through the Kanha-Pench wildlife corridor and the Pench tiger reserve, the National Highway Authority of India was dragged to court to have them construct environmental safeguards such as underpasses and overpasses for safe wildlife passage.The NH-7 case illustrated that government agencies were unwilling to initiate expenditure on environmental safeguards to prevent wildlife casualties, until courts ordered them to. Following this case, the union ministry for environment, forest and climate change commissioned the Wildlife Institute of India to prepare guidelines on incorporating environmental safeguards in linear infrastructure. The ministry also commissioned this report with a view to ensure speedy clearances for linear projects.The guidelines were made public in October and suggested minimum engineering solutions such as elevated ramps and sections should for wildlife to cross highways and fencing in case of railways. The guidelines though, do not have to be followed mandatory, as they have not been notified.Environmentalists have also questioned these guidelines. “I don’t think these guidelines will be followed because the project developers always try to go for safeguards that will be least expensive. We need to put in place a conservation fund for linear projects and project proponents ought to involve environmental experts at the start of the project and not at the clearance stage. These projects are fragmenting and damaging valuable forest resource,” said Anish Andheria,, President, Wildlife Conservation Trust, a non-profit organisation working in 110 protected areas across 19 states.Other conservationists said that the current dispensation has junked an earlier decision of the environment ministry to stop new roads in protected areas. “The NBWL, in its previous term, had recognised linear infrastructure as one of the major threats to forests and wildlife. This prompted formulation of guidelines that said that no new roads will be constructed in protected areas. Why were those guidelines junked? asks Prerna Bindra, conservationist and former member of NBWL standing committee.Upcoming projects passing through forests and protected areasProposed linear projects waiting for wildlife and forest clearance:Dedicated freight corridor passing through Gautam Buddha Sanctuary, home to leopards, bears and chitalCasterlock-Kulem railway line doubling and Tinaighat – Castlerock railway line doubling in Dandeli wildlife sanctuaryHubli-Ankola railway line will pass through Western Ghats forests, Bedthi conservation reserve at Yellapur and buffer region of Anshi Dandeli Tiger ReserveBarkhera-Budni third railway line construction in Ratapani wildlife sanctuary. Project will take up 104.75 hectares of the sanctuary

Demonetisation was single biggest case of total mismanagement, says Chidambaram

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

P Chidambaram. PTIP Chidambaram. PTI

P Chidambaram. PTI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Agusta Westland case: Delhi High Court issues notice to SP Tyagi against bail given to him

The Delhi High Court on Friday, on the Central Bureau Investigation’s plea, issued a notice to ex-Indian Air Force chief SP Tyagi against the bail given to him on 26 December. Tyagi was granted bail by a special court in Delhi which said that the CBI had failed to state the alleged bribe amount and when it was paid. The Delhi High Court on Friday sought the response of ex-IAF chief SP Tyagi on CBI’s plea challenging his bail claiming its probe would be “hampered” if he remains out. Justice Vipin Sanghi issued notice to Tyagi and listed the matter for hearing on 3 January.

Tyagi, who retired in 2007, his cousin Sanjeev Tyagi and lawyer Gautam Khaitan were arrested on 9 December by the CBI in connection with a case which relates to the procurement of 12 VVIP choppers from the UK-based firm Finmeccanica, during the UPA-2 regime. The court would decide the bail pleas of Sanjeev Tyagi and Khaitan on 4 January.

Tyagi, 72, who was interrogated by the CBI in its custody for seven days, had been asked by special CBI judge Arvind Kumar to furnish a personal bond of Rs 2 lakh and one surety of like amount as pre-requisites for his release on bail.

The court had asked Tyagi not to leave the National Capital Region (NCR) without its permission and ordered him not to tamper with the evidence or try to influence the witnesses.

“CBI failed to state as to how much cash was paid to the accused and when it was paid. Admittedly, the CBI has seized the documents regarding properties in 2013 and more than three years and nine months have passed but could not conduct probe in this regard. Accused was arrested after about three years and nine months, LOC was withdrawn by CBI, his accounts were de-frozed after the agency gave ‘no objection’ and accused was allowed to travel abroad,” the court, in its 26 December order, had said.

File photo of SP Tyagi. PTI

File photo of SP Tyagi. PTI

It had noted that Tyagi had joined the investigation as and when CBI called him and it was not the case that he either tampered with evidence after registration of the FIR or influenced witnesses in the case.

“CBI’s apprehension that the accused may tamper with the evidence is without any basis… Accused has been a senior government servant. The correctness or otherwise of the allegation as to whether the accused has taken any kickbacks and in what manner he was connected with the same, can only be looked into during the course of the trial,” it had said.

While granting the relief, the court had taken note of Tyagi’s advancing age and his health conditions and had said no purpose would be served by keeping him behind the bars.

During the hearing, Tyagi’s advocate Manger Guruswamy had said that her client “could not be deprived of freedom if the investigation is taking time to complete”.

She had also claimed that in the last four years after registration of the FIR, the CBI has never been able to confront Tyagi with any incriminating evidence till date.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the CBI, had opposed the bail pleas of the accused, saying if set free, they might influence witnesses and hamper the “multi-layered probe by various agencies in more than one jurisdictions involving several countries”.

“We have evidence where the meetings unofficially took place for the purpose of crime. At this stage, please do not entertain their bail pleas. Let the probe be completed,” he had said, seeking dismissal of the bail pleas of all the three accused and adding the matter has “tarnished country’s name”.

On the court’s query whether the CBI had any material regarding SP Tyagi receiving money, the agency replied the former IAF chief had purchased several properties for which the sources of income were not disclosed by him and alleged that he had abused his official position.

Advocate Pramod Kumar Dubey, counsel for Khaitan, had also countered CBI’s argument, claiming that the agency was trying to sensationalise the matter and there was no allegation that his client had not joined the probe or tried to influence it.

Sanjeev Tyagi’s counsel Manav Gupta had also opposed CBI’s contention saying there was no reason to claim that if granted the relief, his client would hamper the probe.

The accused had sought bail on the grounds that the evidence was documentary in nature and had already been seized by CBI and they have cooperated with the probe agency.

The court had on 17 December sent all the three accused to judicial custody till 30 December.

The CBI had said it was a “very serious” and “a very high-profile” case requiring interrogation to unearth larger conspiracy as the “interest of the nation was compromised”.

Tyagi’s counsel had earlier claimed that the decision to procure VVIP choppers from AgustaWestland was a “collective” one and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) was also a part of it.

With inputs from PTI

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 14:47 IST

Supreme Court dismisses plea against appointment of new Chief Justice of India

Supreme Court dismisses plea against appointment of new Chief Justice of India

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a petition seeking the quashing of Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar’s appointment as the next Chief Justice of India.

Supreme Court of India. Reuters

Supreme Court of India. Reuters

The vacation bench of Justice RK Agrawal and Justice DY Chandrachud dismissed as “without merit” the petition by the National Lawyers Campaign for Judicial Transparency and Reforms and others.

President Pranab Mukherjee on 19 December appointed Justice Khehar as the 44th Chief Justice of India. He will be sworn-in on 4 January, 2017. The incumbent Chief Justice TS Thakur retires on 3 January.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 14:20 IST

Four die in India coal mine collapse in Jharkhand

At least four workers are killed and a dozen are feared trapped in a coal mine in India.

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

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

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

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

PTIPTI

PTI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13,000 beer bars in Maharashtra to close down from May 1

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After the Supreme Court’s (SC) judgment of banning liquor shops within 500 metres of state and national highways, in Maharashtra, 13,000 beer bars will be shut down from May 1.According to a Maharashtra excise department circular, the government will not give permission to open liquor shops adjoining state and national highways. “The earlier permissions for liquor shops at highways will be valid up to May 2017. After that, there will not be any renewal of liquor shops. This order will also be applicable for the liquor shops whose adjoining road goes through villages, towns and districts,” stated the circular. The copy of the circular is with DNA.The circular also reads that the advertisements which contains liquor signs and pictures will not be permitted to be displayed along state and national highways. “If there are any such advertisements, they have to be removed immediately. People should not see any liquor shop near the highways. Liquor shops will not be permitted within 500 metres of service road of highways. Besides, one day permits will not be given to hold parties and functions,” stated the circular.Senior government officials said that the apex court has said that more than revenue, the life of the person is most important. “Maharashtra annually earns over Rs 20,000 crore from the sale of liquor. More than 50 per cent revenue is generated from highways only. We may lose Rs 10,000 crore if the SC order is implemented in totality,” said a senior government official.Arrive Safe, an NGO had filed the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in SC with the aim of ending drunk driving. In its December 15 order, the SC gave the judgment that no liquor shops on national or state highways from April 1and existing licences of liquor shops won’t be renewed after April 1.”We will lose our livelihood with the implementation of this apex court order. The 60 per cent wine and other licences will get affected. We are trying to explore the legal remedy,” said Dilip Giyanani, Chairperson of the Maharashtra Wine Merchant Association.

Navy Admiral Sunil Lanba appointed as chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba on Thursday took over the baton of the chairman of the chiefs of staff committee (CoSC) from outgoing IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha even as the government plans to create a new post to focus exclusively on inter-services issues and acquisitions.He would, however, be assuming charge as Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee with effect from afternoon of December 31.Army chief Gen Dalbir Singh, who also retires from service on December 31 and Principal Staff Officers of all three Services and HQ Integrated Defence Staff were present on the occasion.The government is working on either creating a post of chief of defence staff (CDS) or a permanent chairman CoSC chairman.While the contentious CDS is likely to be a five star post, the permanent Chairman COSC will be a four-star, a post that that the three Services have agreed to.Admiral Lanba assumed command of the Indian Navy on May 31 this year. He is a Navigation and Direction specialist and has served on board numerous ships in both the Eastern and Western Fleets. Air Chief Marshal Raha, had taken over as Chairman COSC on August 1, 2014. Under his stewardship, the Services received a vital boost in jointmanship, a statement by the Defence Ministry said.During his tenure the Defence Communication Network got operationalised and training standards of the Tri Service Institutes such as NDA, DSSC and CDM were enhanced. The much awaited National War Museum got approval from the government.He was instrumental in enhancing the role of military diplomacy with friendly foreign countries, the statement added.Various Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Operations during crisis situations both within and outside India such as J&K floods, Chennai floods, evacuation of Indian and foreign nationals from Yemen and Nepal Earthquake were successfully conducted.He also played a pivotal role in formulation of the new Defence Procurement Procedure, thereby “streamlining and fast tracking defence procurement which has so far been plagued by laborious procedures and long delays”.

1.5 cr free LPG connections issued to BPL households in less than 8 months

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Government has achieved its target of providing 1.5 crore free cooking gas (LPG) connections to poor households in less than 8 months.The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUJ) aimed to provide 5 crore free LPG connections to BPL families in three years.The target for the first was set at 1.5 crore.The first year target has been “achieved within a span of less than 8 months and the scheme is being implemented now across 35 states/UTs,” an official statement said.A woman member of BPL family identified through Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) data is given a deposit free LPG connection with financial assistance of Rs 1,600 per connection.The scheme was announced in the Budget for 2016-17 with an allocation of Rs 8,000 crore for three years.Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched PMUJ on May 1 from Balia in Uttar Pradesh. “14 states/UTs having LPG coverage less than the national average, hilly states of J&K, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and all North-East States are identified as priority states for implementing the scheme,” the statement said.The top five states with maximum connections are UP (46 lakh), West Bengal (19 lakh), Bihar (19 lakh), Madhya Pradesh (17 lakh) and Rajasthan (14 lakh).These states constitutes nearly 75% of the total connections released.The households belonging to SC/ST constitute large chunk of beneficiaries with 35% of the connections being released to them. “With the implementation of PMUY, the national LPG coverage has increased from 61% (as on January 1) to 70% (as on December 12, 2016),” the statement added.

Demonetization: 60 lakh depositors put Rs 7 lakh cr in banks since Nov 8, claim govt officials

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As many as 60 lakh individuals and firms have made large deposits totalling an astonishing Rs 7 lakh crore in old notes, top government officials said on Thursday while warning that every penny of tax will be extracted as the black money does not become white by merely putting it in banks.They said the government will not hound any genuine depositor but at the same time will not hesitate in tracking all such deposits and litigating any tax evasion by a black money holder trying to convert illegal wealth.Post demonetization, unaccounted wealth holders have an option to avail of a tax evasion amnesty scheme Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) and pay their dues, failing which the government’s long arms will surely catch them, they said.
ALSO READ Demonetization ordinance: Minimum Rs 10,000 fine for holding more than 10 scrapped notes, no jail term”People are thinking that money has come into the banking system and it has all become white. This is not so. We have been getting daily information of all the deposits above Rs 2 lakh, Rs 5 lakh and the number and amount deposited. We have been collating this information with past information about the each person,” a top government official said.”So, there is a huge scope for taxing now which has arisen and we do hope that people will understand that simply because they have put in bank it has become white that is not the case. We do hope that people themselves will come forward to participate in the scheme. But if they don’t, they are not going to be happy,” the official further said.
ALSO READ Post demonetization, auto sector to see sharp decline in DecemberThe tax department is armed with systems to track those with multiple banks accounts as well as those who are depositing in accounts of others and tax department will not leave anyone who is trying to evade taxes, he added. “Even if you take deposits of more than Rs 2 lakh, we have information about more then 60 lakh individuals, companies and institutions who have deposited more than Rs 7 lakh crore of money. That’s an astonishing number. We will be looking at it. For individuals the deposit figure would be Rs 3-4 lakh crore.”We do expect a lot of revenue buoyancy because of this either in this year or in subsequent years but nobody will go scot-free,” the official said.Following the demonetization of 500 and 1,000 rupee notes on November 8, the government has come out with PMGKY under which people can disclose unaccounted cash and come clean by paying 50%. Besides, the scheme provides for a mandatory deposit of 25% of such income in the zero-interest bearing Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Deposit Scheme, 2016, for four years. PMGKY commenced on December 17 and shall remain open for declarations and deposits up to March 31, 2017.

‘How can you just forget her,’ ask parents of December 16 Delhi gangrape victim

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The parents of the December 16 gangrape victim on Thursday voiced their displeasure in no uncertain terms with the government naming the “one-stop” crisis centres for women ‘Sakhi’ instead of Nirbhaya, alleging it was a bid to erase the memory of their daughter from public discourse.”Initially, the Women and Child Development Ministry had announced setting up one-stop crisis centres across the country and name them ‘Nirbhaya centres’. But as the project rolled out, they named them ‘Sakhi’. It’s not done!” said Asha Devi, mother of the victim.”What happened with my daughter had sent a message to the society and government that crimes against women has crossed all boundaries and that we need to wake up and act. How can you just forget her,” she asked the government.Nirbhaya centres, or Sakhi centres, are a one-stop crisis centre for women in distress and are funded by Union government. They are to be set up in all 640 districts and 20 additional locations across the country.The programme to launch such centres was conceived as a tribute to the victim of the December 16, 2012 gang-rape case.But Asha Devi alleged the government was trying to wipe off the account of their daughter’s sufferings. “Government and society can forget her, but how can I? Her face flashes before my eyes the moment I close them, and then I look deeper in her eyes and I could feel the pain she endured on that fateful night and I wake up with a soul-shattering chill.” The victim’s father, Badri Singh Pandey, rued that the Nirbhaya Fund, a corpus announced by Union government in 2013 budget, was not being “properly utilised” and that there still were several dark spots in the city, which needed to be lit.”A substantial amount of Rs 500 crore from the Nirbhaya Fund is being used on installing CCTV cameras at railway stations, but that should have been done by the Railways. Tell me, how many victims of rape have been benefited by the fund,” he said.The parents visited ‘Gandhi Samadhi’ on Thursday to remember their 23-year-old daughter, who died on December 29, 2012, at a hospital in Singapore where she was airlifted from Delhi.Four of her six rapists have been lodged in jail as they have appealed against their death penalty. One committed suicide and another, a juvenile at the time of the crime, was released after spending three years at a correctional home.According to Delhi Police statistics, 2,199 rape cases were registered in the capital in 2015 and till November 30 this year, 1,981 cases of rape have been reported.As per National Crime Records Bureau, Delhi has highest rate of crimes against women among all cities in India. Last year, the total number of cases of crime against women in Delhi was 17,104.

Navy chief Sunil Lanba takes over as chairman, Chiefs of Staff committee

New Delhi: Navy Chief Sunil Lanba will take over charge as chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee on Saturday afternoon, and has been handed over the ceremonial baton by outgoing incumbent, IAF Chief Arup Raha.

The senior-most of the service chiefs is given the charge of the Chiefs of Staff committee.

On Thursday, Air Chief Marshal Raha handed over the baton to Admiral Lanba at a ceremony in the South Block, which houses the Defence Ministry.

Lanba will assume the charge from the afternoon of 31 December, the day Raha retires.

Indian Navy Chief Sunil Lanba. File photo. CNN-News18

Indian Navy Chief Sunil Lanba. File photo. CNN-News18

Army chief, Gen Dalbir Singh, who also retires from service on 31 December, and Principal Staff Officers of all three services and the Integrated Defence Staff were present on the occasion, an official statement said.

Admiral Lanba assumed command of the Indian Navy on 31 May, 2016. He is a navigation and direction specialist and has served onboard numerous ships in both the eastern and eastern fleets.

He is an alumnus of National Defence Academy (NDA), Defence Services Staff College (DSSC), Wellington, College of Defence Management (CDM) and Royal College of Defence Studies, London.

Air Chief Marshal Raha, the outgoing chairman, COSC had taken over as chairman COSC on 1 August, 2014, and under his stewardship, the services received a “vital boost in jointmanship”, the statement said.

“During his tenure, the Defence Communication Network got operationalised and training standards of the Tri Service Institutes such as NDA, DSSC and CDM were enhanced,” the statement said.

“The much awaited National War Museum got approval from the government. He was instrumental in enhancing the role of military diplomacy with friendly foreign countries. Various humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations during crisis situations both within and outside India such as Jammu and Kashmir floods, Chennai floods, evacuation of Indian and foreign nationals from Yemen and Nepal Earthquake were successfully conducted,” it said.

“He also played a pivotal role in formulation of DPP-16 thereby streamlining and fast tracking Defence Procurement which has so far been plagued by laborious procedures and long delays,” it said.

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 20:15 IST

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

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

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

ReutersReuters

Reuters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Demonetisation impact: Double-digit growth in India’s tax collection figures, says Arun Jaitley

New Delhi: Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday said that the impact of demonetisation is clearly visible with tax collection figures seeing double-digit growth.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. PTIFinance Minister Arun Jaitley. PTI

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. PTI

“The impact of demonetisation on tax revenue and collection is already visible. There has been a 26.2 percent increase in central indirect tax collection till November 30,” he said at a press conference here, adding till 19 December, direct tax collection increase has been to the extent of 14.4 percent against a growth rate of only 8.3 percent previous year.

Till 19 December, the net increase in direct taxes has been 13.6 percent after factoring in the refunds, he said.

“In the central indirect taxes there is an increase of 26.2 percent till 30 November. Excise duty is up by 43.5 percent, service tax by 25.7 percent and custom duties up by 5.6 percent,” Jaitley said.

“Notwithstanding the critics, it is a very significant increase in all indirect taxes till November 30,” he added.

Life insurance, tourism, petroleum consumption, flow of mutual fund investment have all increased during this period, the Finance Minister said.

Jaitley said demonetisation has brought a large part of money into the formal banking system which has increased the ability of the banks to lend.

On the liquidity situation in the markets, he said that a major part of the demonetised currency has been replaced with new notes and circulation of Rs 500 has increased.

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 16:51 IST

First batch of Indian fishermen released from Pakistan arrives in Gujarat

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

AIADMK appoints Jayalalithaa’s close confidante Sasikala as party General Secretary

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) on Thursday adopted a resolution to work under leadership of Jayalalithaa’s close confidante VK Sasikala, who is also known as Chinnamma.The resolution was passed at the party’s general council meeting that is underway in Chennai.According to ANI, 14 resolutions were passed in AIADMK general body meeting, including one to confer late CM Jayalalithaa with the Magsaysay Award and the Nobel prize for World Peace.A resolution demanding Jayalalithaa’s birthday be celebrated as ‘National Farmers Day’ was also adopted in the meet.Top party leaders including party presidium E Madhusudhanan​ and Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, who is also the party treasurer were among the participants.
ALSO READ Wrong to nominate ‘Chinnamma’ as AIADMK gen secy, she tried to kill Jayalalithaa: Sasikala PushpaAfter the passing away of J Jayalalithaa on December 5, party cadres and top functionaries including Chief Minister O Panneerselvam had been urging Sasikala to assume the party’s top post of General Secretary and lead them.The venue of the meeting, Srivaru Venkatachalapathi Kalyana Mandapan sported life size hoardings of a smiling Jayalalithaa waving to party workers in the departed leader’s favourite green colour.Several leaders had also urged Sasikala to assume the mantle of both the party and governance as general secretary and Chief Minister respectively.On Wednesday, AIADMK cadres had allegedly attacked and injured the husband of expelled party MP Sasikala Pushpa, who was accused of trying to create a law-and-order problem ahead of the General Council meeting here.

After CBI summons TMC MPs, Mamata alleges Modi govt of doing ‘politics of vendetta’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Reacting sharply to the CBI issuing summons to two TMC MPs in connection with the alleged Rose Valley chit fund scam, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday alleged that the Narendra Modi government at the Centre was resorting to “politics of vendetta”, but asserted that her party could not be stopped in this manner.”This is politics of vendetta. Trinamool Congress cannot be stopped in this way,” the TMC chief said. TMC parliamentary party leader in Lok Sabha Sudip Bandopadhyay and party MP Tapas Pal have been asked to appear at the CBI office here on December 30. Banerjee had stated in Delhi yesterday that the country was witnessing a “super emergency” under Modi’s rule without its formal declaration.All sections of the society are being frightened by “Gabbar is coming, Gabbar is coming”, she had said and added that the country could not be run through such threats. She had also accused the prime minister of taking away the people’s rights. On demonetization, Banerjee said, “Let us wait for two more days and then, the 50 days would be over. We will decide accordingly.”

Sasikala to be elected AIADMK gen secy, but will stay away from GC meet

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>V K Sasikala, former chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s aide, has not revealed her cards yet but she is expected to be elected the AIADMK General Secretary on December 29 as thousands of party executives, with their supporters, flooded Chennai today. Sasikala herself is expected to stay away while the party executive committee and general council will formally elect her as the leader. She apparently wants to convey the impression of a reluctant politician — that she doesn’t want any post but it is the party that has thrust the post on her.All the district units of the ruling party had already held meetings to adopt a resolution, urging her to take over the leadership. Her election on December is expected to be a mere formality. Posters hailing the Chinna Amma (Small Mother) have sprung up all over Chennai to greet Sasikala.In the style of the DMK (party banners would have its president M Karunanidhi displayed prominently with its leaders Annadurai and Periyar in the background), and that of the Jayalalithaa-led AIADMK until recently (Jaya’s face would be the focus with MGR in the background), AIADMK banners now display Sasikala in the foreground with Jaya in the background.Whatever dissent there was in the party over the elevation of Sasikala to the post held by Jaya has been put down with a firm hand by the party leadership.Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, ever the loyalist, has been co-ordinating the arrangements for the meet on Dec 29, although the event would mark the first decisive step towards Sasikala acquiring a strangle-hold over the party and the government. Panneerselvam’s days as chief minister are clearly numbered.For Sasikala, it has been a long and patient wait. She was merely made an executive committee member and was even removed from the party as Jayalalithaa suspected the loyalty of Sasikala’s relatives. She was brought back into the Poes Garden residence of Jayalalithaa and into the party in 2012.It is this gap that was questioned by some dissidents in the party on the ground that one has to be a member continuously for at least five years to qualify for a post. Since Sasi has not completed five years of continuous membership, the legal impediment was raised by a few party personnel. However, this was nipped in the bud by party seniors who pointed out that the party executive could adopt a resolution to waive this clause and to ratify the election of Sasi. Therefore, the executive meeting will also be held in addition tothe general council to enable the smooth election of Sasi on Dec 29.Sasikala will enter the party headquarters only after being elected its supremo so that she will have a triumphant and powerful entry, a party senior said.The BJP’s plan to marginalise Sasikala had not worked, an AIADMK source said, adding that the party with 49 MPs could not be threatened with a mere raid on the chief secretary’s office and residence. The BJP realises that Sasikala would not be as pliable as Panneerselvam. Governor Vidyasagar Rao even asked vice chancellors of universities to explain why they prostrated at Sasi’s feet a few days ago at the Poes Garden. It remains to be seen if the Centre would tighten the screws on Sasi and members of her family or will the BJP make a strategic retreat and try and get cosy with her, in view of the changed situation. It appears that for the time being, it is the BJP that will blink first.

EC orders FIR against Maha BJP chief Raosaheb Danve for poll code violation

Thu, 29 Dec 2016-12:20am , Mumbai , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Maharashtra Election Commission on Wednesday asked the Aurangabad district collector to file an FIR against state BJP president Raosaheb Danve for his statement where he asked voters to accept “Laxmi” before the polls.Danve had made the controversial statement at a campaign rally in Paithan in Aurangabad district on December 17 before the municipal council polls.”On the eve of elections, Laxmi comes to your house and you should accept it,” Danve had said at Paithan rally.An Election Commission official said here that the Commission had asked Aurangabad collector to file a first information report against the BJP leader for violation of model code of conduct. Earlier the Commission had served a show-cause notice to Danve who had defended himself, saying he did not mean money when he referred to “Laxmi”. Congress and AAP had complained to the Election Commission demanding action against the state BJP chief.

Chennai: Hotels, clubs directed to wind up New Year parties by 1 am

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The city police has issued directions to hotels and clubs in Chennai, hosting special programmes on New Year’s eve, to wind up celebrations by 1 am.A direction to this effect was given to hotel owners during a meeting chaired by Additional Commissioner of Police K Shankar, Deputy Commissioners (South zone) S Anbu, (East zone) S Manoharan in Chennai, a police release said on Wednesday.Hotel authorities have been directed to take up all preventive measures ahead of the celebrations so that no untoward incidents take place, it said.The advisory issued to the hotels include, checking all vehicles entering the premises and noting their registration numbers, to close swimming pools from 6 pm on December 31 onwards to 6 am of January 1, 2017.They were also asked to deploy security guards in large numbers in the hotel premises, the release said. Besides, the police officials have warned the new year’s eve revellers of strict action against drunk driving. Vehicles would be seized if more than two persons were seen travelling in a motorcycle, they said.
ALSO READ Party poopers: No DJ, early deadline for Kochi hotels on New Year’s eveThe public have been advised not to venture into the sea or set off crackers in places where people gather in large numbers, the release added.

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

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

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

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

Arup Raha. Image courtesy: PIB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IIMC faculty sacked for allegedly backing Dalit labourers, objecting to appointment of course director

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An academic associate at Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) was terminated by the institute allegedly for raising voice against the sacking of 25 Dalit labourers working at the campus and against the recent appointment of a course director. The institute has also debarred him from entering the campus premises, saying it would “vitiate” the peaceful atmosphere.According to Narendra Singh Rao, who was working as a contractual employee at the institute from 2012, he had been abruptly thrown out of the institute while he was on medical leaves. “I have been victimised for raising voice against the sacking of 25 Dalit employees working at the campus. Also, I objected the illegal appointment of a course director as she was neither qualified nor experienced for that post,” Rao told DNA.The institute, however, denied the allegations saying Rao’s termination was completely based on clause 1 of the service contract, which says that “services of the employee can be terminated at anytime without assigning any reason”.“Shri Rao while accepting appointment had duly put his endorsement on the terms and conditions of his appointment,” the institute said in a statement.A letter issued to Rao by the institute on December 21, said that his services were terminated with “immediate effect” under clause 1 of the contract signed by him on September 23, 2013. It, however, stated that he would be paid salary of one month in lieu of the notice period.According to sources at IIMC, the administration had received complaints against Rao, accusing him of propagating indiscipline at the campus. “As many as ten written complaints were received against Rao for misbehaving with his colleagues and trying to disturb the peaceful environment at the campus,” they said.This is the second incident of its kind in a year, where a faculty member has accused IIMC of curbing voices of dissent on campus. Earlier this year, an associate professor at IIMC, Amit Sengupta, had also resigned from the institute after he was transferred to Odisha, for allegedly supporting students of JNU, FTII and speaking about the suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula at HCU.“IIMC has turned into a playground for right-wing forces where any voice other than that is being silenced,” Sengupta said. According to him, Rao has also become a victim for raising voice against the right-wing forces prevailing on campus. “Because of his academic qualification and his immense popularity among students, he had become a thorn in the flesh of an institute which is driven by the utter mediocrity,” he said.Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) is one of India’s premier institute for journalism. Besides Delhi, it has five other branches in Odisha, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Jammu and Kashmir and Kerala.

SP Tyagi is like family, but won’t have sympathy if he’s found guilty: IAF chief Arup Raha

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Outgoing Air Force chief Arup Raha came out in support of former chief SP Tyagi, recently arrested in the Rs 3,600 AgustaWestland helicopter deal case being probed by the CBI, drawing a parallel with the Bofors case where charges of corruption could not be established.Calling Tyagi a member of the Air Force family, Raha said his sympathies were with the former chief. “If a member of your family goes through a rough patch, you will have sympathy for him. If he is found guilty, punish him,” Raha said on Wednesday while addressing a press conference. He is due to hang up his uniform on December 31.Raha appeared to downplay the allegations, saying nothing could be proved as in the Bofors case. “Corruption issues have come up from time to time. Despite investigation, not much was achieved,” he said.Tyagi, who has been granted bail, was recently arrested three years after CBI named him as an accused in the helicopter deal. The agency was not able to file a charge sheet but arrested him for custodial interrogation based on new facts.A Delhi court granted Tyagi bail despite CBI’s opposition. It is alleged that as Air Force chief Tyagi took kickbacks to change the specifications of the VVIP helicopters, swinging the deal in favour of AgustaWestland.

Demonetisation: Urjit Patel must come out of Modi’s shadow to arrest RBI’s unmaking

Demonetisation has shown its many faces to various stakeholders since 8 November. A bold, high-risk reform experiment for the Narendra Modi-government, a big learning for 125 crore Indians on what a disruptive reform actually means to their daily lives and, finally, a trial by fire for the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) that is now fighting to save its image and credibility. The demonetisation episode has inflicted severe damage to RBI’s integrity–something that hasn’t happened in the past even when the central bank had to walk a tight rope through multiple economic crises that originated both in India and abroad.

As Usha Thorat, a former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) deputy governor writes in her Op-ed for Indian Express: “There have been times when the Old Lady of Mint Street was criticised for being too conservative and cautious — for not being able to keep up with innovation and markets — never has she been accused of not knowing her job. Never has she been the butt of as many jokes as in the last few days.”

RBI Governor Urjit Patel. PTIRBI Governor Urjit Patel. PTI

RBI Governor Urjit Patel. PTI

Thorat is probably the only voice, so far, among former RBI top brass to speak up openly on the issue of RBI’s eroding credibility. As far as the demonetisation issue is concerned, the RBI has been in a sad state clearly overshadowed by the Modi-government in all respects.

Beginning with the decision-making, the roll out and repeated U-turns on rules, all along it appeared that the North Block is in command, rather than Mint Street, when 86 percent of the currency in the country was scrapped in one go by PM Modi in a televised statement. The RBI has remained on the sidelines since then.

The RBI, one of the most reputed institutions in the country, known for its credibility and independence (operational) is now reduced to an object of jokes on social media. Thorat acknowledges this in her Op-ed when she wrote, “it is indeed a sad day to see one of the most respected public institutions in India becoming an object of ridicule and scorn”.

It appears that the RBI remains clueless at a time the common man is exposed to such massive disruption in his daily life as a result of an executive decision, making it largely inaccessible for him to draw his own money on account of curbs.

What was the turning point? Demonetisation has probably been only a trigger to expose the change in the working style of the central bank post the Raghuram Rajan era. The RBI leadership under Urjit Patel has so far been a near-failure to carry forward the virtues the central bank has guarded over several decades. There have been major shortcomings on many accounts, some of which Thorat has mentioned in her piece.

These can be summarised mainly into two issues — lack of transparency and absence of effective communication.

Beginning late evening of 8 November, government functionaries have dominated the demonetisation scene with the RBI largely reduced to an agency whose job is to only notify what is already there in public domain. At a time when the common man was gripped with panic seeing closed ATMs/ bank branches, long queues (which continues to an extent even now) and uncertainty regarding how long the cash crunch situation will continue, the RBI should have addressed the public to calm nerves and offer firm guidance, but Patel chose to remain silent for a long time. About 60-circulars in just one month of demonetisation doesn’t give a sense to the public that the RBI had any plan or conviction about the demonetisation rollout.

Thorat talks about the pressing need for more transparency and effective communication in RBI’s functioning. “The RBI top management must communicate more through the media and speaking opportunities. This is necessary in the interest of transparency and credibility. It generates confidence that the RBI believes in honest communication.”

Further, the former deputy governor tells RBI management. “Be transparent. It is good that the RBI has started giving some information on the notes issued and deposited periodically. Doubts have been expressed on the double counting of old notes returned to the RBI. There are press reports that the data furnished by the RBI on notes issued between December 10 and December 19 do not tally between the pieces and values. Data on notes returned to the RBI after December 12 has not been officially released — this is generating enormous speculation whether the notes returned exceed the notes issued.”

Transparency has been an issue all along.  This was true for the timely availability of information on the amount of old currency deposits returned to the banking system or regarding the break-up of the new Rs 500, Rs 2,000 denominations infused.  As far as the total chunk of currency infused, the last available data is as on 10 December, which was released on 13 December. According to this, banks have garnered Rs 12.44 trillion (Rs 12.44 lakh crore) in banned notes till 10 December, while they have issued Rs 4.61 trillion.

According to Thorat, “The RBI would do well to release every week, say, every Monday, data on the notes issued, denomination and value-wise, as also on old notes returned, to set all speculation to rest.”

There are two other instances worth mentioning that gives clues on a break from the past in the central bank’s mode of functioning and preparedness. One is RBI’s decision (read the Firstpost column here to not invite a number of journalists for the policy presser, the first after the Modi-government announced demonetisation. The second is its major flip-flop on the decision to cap deposits in old currency at Rs 5,000, which was later withdrawn due to public anger.  On 19 December, the RBI issued a notification imposing restrictions which it had originally promised time till 30 December (as also the Prime Minister) to accept old currency deposits without any limit.  “Could it (the RBI) not have refrained from issuing the circular of December 19 that clearly went against earlier assurances and had to be rescinded immediately?,” Thorat asks.

It is unfortunate to see an institution of RBI’s repute, which is regarded as one of the best central banks in the world, fighting a trust deficit of this magnitude. The loss of central bank’s credibility will have disastrous impact on Indian economy and lead to bigger problems. There is an immense responsibility on governor Patel, whose credentials for the role at RBI are second to none, to get his act together and take control of the situation, thus regaining the lost image of India’s central bank.

Here, Patel would do well to pay heed to Thorat’s caution.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 13:50 IST

Demonetization: Workers laid off on refusing to accept salary in old notes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Workers employed by a builder on Tuesday complained to police that their services were terminated after they refused to accept salary in demonetized currency notes.”On complaint of the workers, the builder has been called for questioning. If any illegality is found, action will be taken against him. Also, efforts will be made so that workers get salary through cheques,” DSP Arvind Yadav said.They also held a protest outside the builder’s office.A worker, Shesh Kumar, alleged, “The salary for October was paid in old currency notes which was accepted by the workers. Now, the builder is pressurizing us to accept November’s salary and that for December in advance in old currency notes.””When we refused, the builder informed us that our services have been terminated,” the worker alleged.

Demonetisation: Cabinet to decide on note ban ordinance today; another U-turn on cards?

The Union Cabinet meeting today is likely to take up an ordinance to end the legal tender of the demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, media reports say. The ordinance will also likely specify the date when the notes will become illegal, which is widely speculated to be 30 December.

There have also been reports saying the ordinance is likely to impose penalties on anyone possessing the junked notes beyond 30 December when the deadline to deposit them in banks expires.

However, there has not been any official word on the move.

ReutersReuters

Reuters

The ordinance will formalise the demonetisation, which was an executive decision announced on 8 November. According to a report in The Indian Express, which quotes a government official, this is a requirement as otherwise the demonetised notes will continue as a legal tender.

“If we do not put an end date on the legal character of the old notes, then they can be infinitely valid as a legal tender,” the official has been quoted as saying in the report. Explaining the rationale, he also said ending the legal tender of all notes on 30 December is important as it will clear the uncertainty for the government on how much money has flown into the system.

The ordinance will extinguish the liability of the government and RBI towards the promise to pay the bearer of these notes their value because of a statutory requirement.

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

According to the official cited in the IE report, the deposit of old notes will be allowed after 30 only in cases of exigencies.

However, if the government decides the cut-off date as 30 December that will be another U-turn by the government and the RBI. Prime minister Narendra Modi had on 8 November said the RBI window to deposit these notes will remain open beyond 30 December until 31 March. An ordinance that seeks to end the deposits on 30 December would mean the government and the RBI are going back on another promise they made to the common man.

The government had while announcing the demonetisation of the old currency allowed holders to either exchange them or deposit in bank and post office accounts. While the facility to exchange the old notes has since been withdrawn, depositors have time until Friday to deposit the holding in their accounts at the bank branches.

Media reports earlier said there could be a cap of holding no more than 10 notes of each after 30 December and violation of the rule could draw a fine of a minimum of Rs 50,000 or 5 times the amount in question — whichever is higher. However, there was no confirmation on this.

For those depositing any accounted funds, or black money, it has offered them an amnesty provided they paid 50 percent of it as tax and penalties and parked a quarter of it in a zero-interest bearing deposit for four years.

Out of the Rs 15.44 lakh crore worth of 500 and 1000 rupee notes in circulation on November 8, close to Rs 13 lakh crore have been deposited in accounts or exchanged for valid currency.

With PTI

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 08:37 IST

Withdrawal cap may be eased to Rs 4,000/day, Rs 40,000/week: sources

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As Prime Minister Narendra Modi gets ready to address the nation after almost 50 days into demonetization on December 30, a reliable source told DNA that the government was seriously considering relaxing current restrictions on withdrawals from banks and ATMs from Rs 2,500 per day and Rs 24,000 per week to Rs 4,000 per day and Rs 40,000 per week respectively.Modi had sought 50 days to normalise the liquidity situation after he made Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes illegal from November 8 midnight.A source in the government, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said since the shortage of cash continued to persist, the restriction on withdrawal may not be completely removed but would be eased.”Today, for instance, the restriction is Rs 24,000 per week and Rs 2,500 per day; they might increase that to Rs 4,000 per day and Rs 40,000 per week, but nevertheless, will continue with the restrictions. All of this is expected to be announced by the PM on December 30 evening. He is planning an address (to the nation) at 8 pm in which he is going to connect what he said on November 8 and ask countrymen to be patient,” he said.Also, the government is contemplating an ordinance to restrict holding of banned notes and penalising their possession of beyond a certain limit after December 30. However, the ordinance is likely to be issued only after the liquidity situation improves. “That (ordinance) is being discussed very seriously, but there are two specific challenges. One is that in terms of the RBI (Reserve Bank of India) notification issued on November 8 that even after January 1 people have time till March 31 to deposit with RBI. Technically the ordinance can’t be issued with effect from January 1 because if they say that holding the currency is illegal after January 1, then those who would have planned to deposit it with the RBI (after December 30) will not have that window (given by the government earlier),” said a source.The second issue was shortage of liquidity in the economy; “even today, the country is largely running on Rs 2,000 note. Other denomination notes have not yet been made available and the process of contracting for new currency notes has just started. The problem is not going to vanish from first week of January,” he said.According to the source, tenders for printing of new currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 were issued from December 22. “The government can’t just call anybody and ask them to do it. They have to buy the paper, the ink, open tender, and then do it,” he said.Also, the government does not want to take any unpopular decision. “With the after-effects of demonetization still lingering, it does not want to become more unpopular—saying on one hand that holding old money is illegal and you can be penalised, while on the other it still cannot meet the currency demand,” he said.

Gujarat government extends a helping hand, takes 220 fishermen released from Pakistan in custody

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The officials of the fisheries department of Gujarat Government took custody of 220 fishermen who were handed over by Pakistan to Indian agency, late on Monday night, a senior official said. “These fishermen were released from the Landhi jail in Karachi on December 25 as a goodwill gesture and were handed over to the Border Security Force (BSF) at the Wagah Border on Monday,” Ashok Patel, superintendent of the fisheries department of the Gujarat government said. “The team (of fisheries department) has been camping in Amritsar to make arrangements for bringing these fishermen back to Gujarat,” he said.Talking from Amritsar, Ramesh Makwana, one of the released fisherman, who hails from Tad village in Una taluka of Gir Somnath district, said, “We never expected release of 439 fishermen by Pakistan at one go and it came as a surprise for all of us. Another batch of 219 fishermen will be released on January 5, 2017.” “The Edhi Foundation a Karachi based non government organisation made arrangements for bringing us to Lahore from Karachi by a special train,” said the released fisherman.He thanked Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani among others for taking up the issue for their release with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who in turn took up the matter with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif.Makwana, while describing the harsh conditions in which they stayed in Pakistani jail, said, “They had to face lot of hardships as about 100 fishermen were kept in a single room in the prison and had to face mosquito menace.” He said they realised that they had entered into enemy territorial waters only after Pakistani Marine Security Agency (PMSA) nabbed them. “Most of us are sole bread earners of our family,” said Makwana.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rohit Deo is the full-time Advocate General of Maharashtra now

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It took eight months and a strongly worded High court order for the Devendra Fadnavis government to finalise the name of Adv Rohit Deo as the advocate general of Maharashtra. Deo’s name has been recommended to the Governor on Tuesday by the cabinet. The government had told the Bombay High Court on Friday that it would appoint the AG by 30 December. Congress MLC Sanjay dutt had dragged the Fadnavis government to the court three months back over its prolonged indecision at the cost of state’s welfare. Deo is currently the acting advocate general and has been handling all cases of the government since Shreehari Aney quit in April this year following a controversial statement supporting separate VIdarbha state. Dutt said, “Even as Maharashtra Govt concedes to my demand & finally appoints Advocate General, CM needs to answer why he waited for 9 months to appoint acting AG as AG!” Dutt added that Maha CM owes apology to Maha People following HC order in my petition stating that the appointment of an Acting Advocate General is Not Constitutionally valid.HC order through my petition shall ensure that No Govt will falter on appointing Advocate-General as per Article 165 of Constitution of India.

Odisha: H5N1 strain of Avian Influenza Virus confirmed

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fishries, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has informed the Odisha Government regarding the confirmation of H5 N1 strain of Avian Influenza virus in Keranga village of Khordha district of the state.The samples from the said epicenter were sent to the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD), Bhopal who confirmed on December 25 that the aforesaid samples were found positive in RT-PCR and Real time RT-PCR for H5 N1 strain of Avian Influenza virus.The state was intimated of the positive results on December 25. The state was requested to carry out the control and containment operations as per “Action Plan of Animal Husbandry for Preparedness, Control and Containment of Avian Influenza (2015)” which was circulated to the states by the Government of India in March, 2015.It is also available on Department website (www.dahd.nic.in) under link: Animal Health-Bird Flu. Therefore, control and containment measures as per above Action Plan on Avian Influenza needs to be carried out by the state. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare was also intimated in the matter.

91% pickpockets in Delhi metro are women

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Continuing the trend witnessed over the past few years, women constitute over 91% of pickpockets apprehended by the CISF in the Delhi Metro network in the national capital region. The force, that is tasked to provide armed security to Delhi Metro operations, apprehended a total of 479 pickpockets, out of which an overwhelming 438 were women, according to official data.The full-year data, updated till the middle of December, states that the security force undertook a little over 100 operations to check pick pocketing in the rapid rail lifeline of Delhi and its adjoining areas, that carries an estimated 26 lakh commuters every day. The overwhelming number of women indulging in these crimes has shown a constant trend over the last few years and the Central Industrial Security Force, after apprehending these women, hands them over to the Delhi Police for legal action under law.Recently, the CISF had unearthed a notorious gang of such women who had robbed a US-based Indian lady of her jewels and valuables while she was travelling in the Delhi Metro with her husband. “The figures state that women constitute over 91%(of the total pickpockets) in pick pocketing crimes in the Delhi Metro. “It has been found that the modus operandi of these women is to either carry a child or travel in a group to con and pick a purse or other valuables of a traveller, be it a man or a woman,” a senior official said.In order to check these crimes, the force regularly undertakes special operations and deploys women and men personnel in plain-clothes to keep an eye on trouble makers. Last year, 93%of the total number of pickpockets apprehended by the CISF in the Delhi Metro were women.In 2014, over 300 women were intercepted for these crimes making them about 94% of those held, while in 2013, of the total 466 pickpockets held across various stations of the Delhi Metro, 421 were women and the rest were men. This year, during the same time period till mid-December, the force also found 106 missing children and handed them over to their guardians or the station controlling authorities.

Check: Osmania University Degree Supply Results October 2016 declared at osmania.ac.in

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The long wait of anxious candidates are over. Osmania University has declared the Supply Results October 2016 of Under graduate Bachelors of Arts (BA), Bachelors of Science (B Sc) and Bachelors of Commerce (B Com) and Bachelors of Business Administration (BBA). It was declared on December 27 at Osmania University’s official website – osmania.ac.inHere’s how you can check the results: 1. Log on to the official website – osmania.ac.in2. Click on – Degree Supply Results 20163. You will be directed a new page.4. Select your course.5. Enter your hall ticket number.6. Your result will be displayed. You can take a print out for future reference.About Osmania University:Osmania University was established in 1918. It is the seventh oldest university in India and the third oldest in south India.All the best to the candidates.

Party poppers: No DJ, early deadline for Kochi hotels on New year’s eve

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>There will be no DJ parties in the city to usher in the new year with the police announcing stringent rules on Tuesday for hotels for organising special events on the night of December 31. Parties that can be enjoyed by people of all age groups, from children to elderly, will be permitted in hotels in Kochi on the new year’s eve, police said.After holding a meeting with representatives of hotels here, police said new year parties should be concluded by 12.30 AM in order to facilitate the safe journey of party-goers back home by 1 AM. According to a tough compliance list for party hosts, there will be police presence at the parties and events will be monitored through CCTV cameras.Abkari rules should be followed for serving liquor in the parties, police said. Tough measures have been taken to curb drug consumption and music accompanied by obscenity during the New Year parties, they added.

Ex-TN chief secy Rao slams Modi govt for I-T raids, claims ‘political vendetta’

Days after the Income Tax Department raided the house of the former chief secretary of Tamil Nadu P Rama Mohana Rao, he addressed the media on Tuesday and raised several questions about the “unconstitutional” raids. Speaking to the media, Rao, who was removed from the post of the chief secretary on 23 December, said that he still holds the post and authorities have no evidence against him.

“After 32 years of service, if this is the condition of a chief secretary, how can CRPF enter my house? Why did they not transfer me? This is political vendetta. I was under house arrest for over 26 hours. They (Centre) have no respect for the state government,” Rao said.

Rao thanked West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi for “supporting my cause” and also alleged that his life was in danger. “They did not have any search warrant against me. The search warrant had name of my son. They have found nothing — no incriminating documents were found during the raids,” Rao said. Pointing towards a room that was alleged to be a secret chamber by the income tax authorities, Rao said that it was the store room. “What secret chamber?” he asked.

Alleging interference from the BJP-led Centre, Rao also said that the Central government has no business raiding the house of a chief secretary of a state. “Where is the state government? What role or business does Government of India and CRPF have to enter a chief secretary’s chambers? Did they get the chief minister’s permission? Isn’t this a unconstitutional assault? Where’s the state govt? On whose permission did CRPF enter my house. If they wanted to search my house, they could have transferred me. How much time does it take for a chief minister to transfer a chief secretary?” asked Rao.

Remembering former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu J Jayalalithaa, Rao said that if she were here, this would have never happened. “If Honourable Madam (Jayalalithaa) was here today, this would not have happened. I managed Madam’s funeral and handled when Chennai was battered by the cyclone. My reputation precedes me. I am a big hurdle to many. I am a hardcore man and they fear me,” said Rao, adding that he feared for his life.

On 21 December, Income Tax authorities raided the house and office of Rao after a tip-off. The premises were searched by officials, who claimed to have recovered Rs 30 lakh in cash in new notes and five kilograms of gold besides getting “disclosure” about Rs five crore of unaccounted income. The raids were carried out at 15 places, including the office and the residence of Rao, his son Vivek and some relatives in Chennai and Chittoor in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, I-T sources had told PTI.

Rao was appointed as the Tamil Nadu chief secretary in June 2016.

Rao also refuted claims that he had any business links with mining baron Shekhar Reddy. A senior I-T official had told The Indian Express that the raids at Rao’s home and office were linked to the seizure of Rs 132 crore in cash (including Rs 34 crore in new notes) and 177 kilograms of gold from mining baron J Sekhar Reddy earlier this month. “Documents seized from Reddy’s premises were the major evidence, as they had details linked to Rao. It was a matter of ascertaining locations before launching the raid,” the official told the paper. Rao, however, on Tuesday said:

Within 24 hours after the raid, Girija Vaidyanathan, an officer with a no-nonsense work ethic, was appointed as Rao’s successor. The political class reportedly wanted to wait till an FIR was filed but was advised that the raid had already dented the image of the government and any delay would only reflect poorly on the AIADMK.

With inputs from agencies

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 11:49 IST

Norway ‘child abuse’: India wants child united with natural parents, says Sushma Swaraj

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After an Indian woman from Norway wrote to Sushma Swaraj about her son being taken away by Norwegian authorities, the Minister of External Affairs has said that India will convey to the officials that it wants child’s restoration with its parents. Gurvinderjit Kaur, whose son has been taken away by the Norwegian authorities, had approached the Indian Embassy in Oslo seeking government’s intervention, following which the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said it will now chalk out the future course of action in the case. Kaur had approached the Indian government with the “formal written” request in this regard, BJP leader Vijay Jolly said.”Our Ambassador in Norway is meeting the Norwegian authorities today regarding Aryan. I refuse to accept that foster parents can take better care of the child than the natural parents. The foster parents are totally ignorant of the Indian culture and our food habits.”We want restoration of Aryan to his natural parents. This is our firm stand and Indian Ambassador will convey this to the Norwegian authorities,” she said.Kaur and her husband, who is a Norwegian national, have alleged that authorities in that country have taken away their 5-year-old son Aryan, also a Norwegian national, on a frivolous complaint of abuse. In its response, the Norwegian Embassy had asked for “restraint” in the case, assuring that it is being handled with “complete sensitivity and awareness”.According to Jolly, the Indian Ambassador “is slated to meet highly placed Norwegian officials in Oslo on December 27”. Jolly also maintained that according to the mother, the child is being “daily served porridge and bread while he is fond of Indian food”.This is the third case since 2011 when children have been taken away from their Indian-origin parents by the authorities in Norway on the grounds of abuse.In 2011, a three-year-old and a one-year-old were separated from their parents, prompting the then UPA government to take up the issue with Norway.The Norwegian court later allowed the children to be reunited with their parents.In December 2012, an Indian couple was jailed on charges of ill treatment of their children, 7 and 2 years. Later, they were sent to their grandparents in Hyderabad.With agency inputs.

Congress calls for all-opposition anti-demonetisation meet, Left, JD(U) and NCP to skip

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Congress Party has called for a anti-demonetization meeting on Tuesday.The meeting will be followed by a joint press conference to be addressed by Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and other opposition leaders. Congress president Sonia Gandhi is also expected to join.However, its attempt to unite all opposition parties against demonetization has suffered a severe jolt with the Left, Janata Dal United and the Nationalist Congress Party expressing their inability to attend.The meeting is seen as an attempt on the part of the grand old party to paper over the cracks that developed when several opposition parties skipped the joint march to Rashtrapati Bhawan on December 16 over demonetization.Communist Party of India (Marxist) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury yesterday said there were no consultations and things were not planned properly for the joint meeting.He, however, said there is no dispute within the opposition on demonetization and its impact on the people.JD (U) and NCP sources have also cited improper co-ordination as a reason for not participating.JD (U) leader K C Tyagi said no common minimum programme has been worked out for it, adding that all opposition parties do not have the same stand on the banning of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 currency notes.Congress leader and former union minister Jairam Ramesh, however, has downplayed some political parties skipping the meeting, citing local and regional compulsions as reasons for non-particpation.Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is in New Delhi for the meeting. DMK, RJD and others are also scheduled to participate.

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

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

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

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Breather for Tyagi as court grants bail

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a major setback to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), a Delhi sessions court granted bail to former Air Force chief SP Tyagi on Monday. Tyagi was directed to furnish a bail bond of Rs 2 lakh and one surety for a like amount.Sanjeev Tyagi and Gautam Khaitan, the co-accused, were denied bail and will remain in judicial custody till December 30.Tyagi and the other two allegedly received kickbacks while buying a dozen AW-101 VVIP helicopters from the UK-based AgustaWestland company. Tyagi, who was held on December 9, is the first chief from any wing of the armed forces to be arrested.The CBI arrested the accused more than three years after registering the FIR.”During the arguments, the CBI failed to state as to how much cash was paid to the accused and when it was paid,” Special CBI Judge Arvind Kumar noted. The additional sessions judge gave his order after hearing arguments from the defence and the CBI last week.Representing the CBI, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, on Friday, submitted that, if released, the former air chief would influence the witness and tamper with the investigation. However, the court found these charges to be “unfounded” and “without any bias.”The court forbade Tyagi from tampering with evidence and influencing witnesses. It directed him to join the investigation as and when called by the CBI. Tyagi also cannot leave the NCR region without court permission.The former air chief’s bail was hailed by veterans who have been supporting him throughout his incarceration. Shortly after receiving bail, IAF Chief Arup Raha made a statement to the media saying that Tyagi’s arrest had affected the morale of the Air Force and dented the image of the forces. Raha also added that Tyagi should not be treated like a common criminal.Such sentiments were echoed by Tyagi’s supporters — retired Air Marshals and Air Vice Marshals who thronged the courtroom to stand beside their chief. The community, who was incensed over Tyagi’s arrest and incarceration, had even come out with a petition seeking his release. The petition garnered over 2,000 signatures.Tyagi, his cousin Sanjeev, better known as Julie, and Khaitan were arrested by the CBI on December 9 in an illegal graft case. The FIR, which the CBI had filed close to four years ago, stated that Tyagi had granted approval for reduction of the service ceiling (height of flying capability) of the choppers from 6,000 metres to 4,500 metres. This, the CBI alleged, was instrumental in making AgustaWestland eligible to participate in a bid to supply helicopters.The probe agency further alleged that Italian middlemen Guido Haschke and Carlos Gerosa had given Tyagi cash, camouflaged in the form of consultancy fees, to alter the operational requirements.Representing the defence, Menaka Guruswamy refuted all charges levelled against her client. In her arguments for bail submitted last week, Guruswamy stressed that the charges against Tyagi were economic in nature, for which the documents had already been investigated by the CBI. She claimed that the only charge against her client was vague and that the CBI had based their allegations on the judgment from an Italian court of appeals.Incidentally, the Italian Supreme Court accepted the plea and ordered a re-trial of Giuseppe Orsi and Bruno Spagnolini, former CEOs of Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland. The two were then convicted for bribing Indian government officials for a 560 million Euro deal involving the sale of 12 helicopters.

Beware! Ordinance likely to impose penalty for holding old Rs 500, Rs1000 notes post Dec 30

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The government is understood to be mulling an ordinance to impose penalties on anyone possessing the junked Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes beyond December 30 when the deadline to deposit them in banks expires.There was no official word on the move which is likely to come up before the Cabinet on Wednesday but sources said penalties may be imposed on anyone holding more than 10 notes each of the old currency after December 30. The ordinance may also extinguish the liability of the government and RBI towards the promise to pay the bearer of these notes their value because of a statutory requirement.In 1978 a similar ordinance was issued to end the government’s liability after Rs 1,000, Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000 notes were demonetised by the Janata Party government under Morarji Desai.The government had while announcing the demonetization of the old currency allowed holders to either exchange them or deposit in bank and post office accounts. While the facility to exchange the old notes has since been withdrawn, depositors have time till Friday to deposit the holding in their accounts.For those depositing any accounted funds, or black money, it has offered them an amnesty provided they paid 50 per cent of it as tax and penalties and parked a quarter of it in a zero-interest bearing deposit for four years.Reports said that there could be a cap of holding no more than 10 notes of each after December 30 and violation of the rule could draw a fine of a minimum of Rs 50,000 or 5 times the amount in question — whichever is higher, but there was no confirmation.Holders of such currency have an option to deposit them in RBI by March 31 but even that period may be curtailed, they said. Out of the Rs 15.44 lakh crore worth of 500 and 1000 rupee notes in circulation on November 8, close to Rs 13 lakh crore have been deposited in accounts or exchanged for valid currency.

EC prepares for elections in 5 states, asks MHA to deploy 1 lakh paramilitary personnel

Mon, 26 Dec 2016-10:16pm , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An estimated one lakh paramilitary personnel along with state police forces are likely to be deployed in the upcoming assembly elections in five states, including politically crucial Uttar Pradesh. Election Commission (EC) has asked the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to make available 1,000 companies (100 personnel in each company) for the assembly elections expected to be held in next two months.The EC has made the request during a recent meeting with the top officials of the MHA which discussed various aspects of security during the polling, official sources said. In addition to the Central forces, police forces of all states will be deployed for the election duties.Sources said that the MHA is expected to accede to the request of the EC and convey its decision to the poll body soon. Assembly elections in Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur are expected to be held in single phase while in Uttar Pradesh it is likely to be multi-phased. The schedule for the polls is likely to be announced by the EC anytime between December 28 and January 4.

Demonetisation: Woman finds Rs 100 crore in Jan Dhan account, seeks PMO intervention

Ghaziabad: Shocked to find nearly Rs 100 crore in her Jan Dhan account in a Meerut branch of a state-run bank, a woman on Monday sought the PMO’s intervention after the bank officials did not attend to her complaint and kept asking her to come some other time.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

In the complaint to the PMO, sent by her husband Ziledar Singh, Sheetal Yadav said she maintained a Jan Dhan account in Sharda road branch of the State Bank of India (SBI). On 18 December, she went to draw money from the ATM of ICICI bank near their house and was shocked to see that her account stood at Rs 99,99,99,394.

Unable to believe it, she said she asked the person standing next to her in the queue to check it and he confirmed the same amount. She went to another ATM of YES bank nearby and found the same balance.

She continued to visit her bank for two days but the staff did not attend to her complaint and asked her to come after a day when the branch manager would assist her to rectify the matter. When she again went to the bank, she was sent back under another pretext.

Singh, who works in a transformer manufacturing company, said that his wife, working in the packaging department of a factory, draws a salary of Rs 5,000 per month while he also works on a meagre salary. They were shocked when this huge amount came into her account.

Frustrated over the local bank staff’s attitude, Singh said he asked an educated person to help them to send a mail to the PMO.

“We have posted a mail on 26 December to the PMO to help us in solving our problem from where about Rs 100 crore came into the account where the maximum limit of deposit is restricted to Rs 50,000 only,” he said, showing the ATM slips and bank passbook to the media.

No bank employee was available for comments.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 22:12 IST

Demonetisation: Govt mulling ordinance to penalise those holding junked notes beyond 30 December

New Delh: The government is understood to be mulling an ordinance to impose penalties on anyone possessing the junked Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes beyond 30 December when the deadline to deposit them in banks expires.

There was no official word on the move which is likely to come up before the Cabinet on Wednesday but sources said penalties may be imposed on anyone holding more than 10 notes each of the old currency after 30 December.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The ordinance may also extinguish the liability of the government and RBI towards the promise to pay the bearer of these notes their value because of a statutory requirement.

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

The government had while announcing the demonetisation of the old currency allowed holders to either exchange them or deposit in bank and post office accounts. While the facility to exchange the old notes has since been withdrawn, depositors have time till Friday to deposit the holding in their accounts.

For those depositing any accounted funds, or black money, it has offered them an amnesty provided they paid 50 per cent of it as tax and penalties and parked a quarter of it in a zero-interest bearing deposit for four years. Reports said that there could be a cap of holding no more than 10 notes of each after December 30 and violation of the rule could draw a fine of a minimum of Rs 50,000 or 5 times the amount in question — whichever is higher, but there was no confirmation.

Holders of such currency have an option to deposit them in RBI by March 31 but even that period may be curtailed, they said.

Out of the Rs 15.44 lakh crore worth of 500 and 1000 rupee notes in circulation on November 8, close to Rs 13 lakh crore have been deposited in accounts or exchanged for valid currency.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 21:50 IST

Demonetisation: Farmers to get 60 additional days for repayment of crop loans, says RBI

Mumbai: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Monday said that in view of demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, farmers, whose short term crop loan repayment date falls between 1 November and 31 December, will get an additional 60-day grace period.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“In view of the constraints faced by farmers for timely repayment of loan dues on account of withdrawal of legal tender status of Specified Bank Notes (SBNs), it has been decided by the government to provide an additional grace period of 60 days for prompt repayment incentive of 3 percent to those farmers whose crop loan dues are falling due between 1 November and 31 December,” RBI said in a notification.

Currently, according to the existing crop loan interest rebate scheme for 2016-17, apart from the two percent annual rebate, an additional interest rebate of 3 percent is also provided if the farmer repays the loan up to the actual date of repayment or the date fixed by banks for repayment, whichever is earlier.

This benefit does not accrue to those farmers who repay after one year of availing such loans.

If the farmers, whose crop loan repayment date falls between 1 November and 31 December, repay the crop loan within 60 days from their loan repayment date, the additional three percent interest rebate will continue to apply, it said.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 20:56 IST

SP Tyagi a ‘sound professional’, shouldn’t be treated like criminal: Air Chief Marshal Raha

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Describing former IAF chief SP Tyagi as a “sound professional”, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha on Monday said he should not have been treated like a “common criminal”.Tyagi, arrested on December 9 in AgustaWestland chopper scam case, was today granted bail by a special court here.Special CBI Judge Arvind Kumar granted the relief to Tyagi on a personal bond of Rs two lakh and one surety of like amount.”You know, it is sub-judice so it won’t be right for me to say anything. But, it is very unfortunate, I think for sure, that a person of his stature has been indicted by the CBI and other investigating agencies. He has been put under custody,” Raha told NDTV’s “Walk the Talk” programme.He said the arrest “obviously” hurts the morale of the people of the armed forces. “I can’t say it doesn’t dent our image or reputation. It definitely does and I am sure we will go by the law of the land. And the judicial process will be completed on the (basis of) evidence produced. I will be very happy if he can acquit himself because for the reason that he is the former chief,” he said. Talking about his personal rapport with Tyagi, Raha said he has worked under him.”I have worked with him as well. So I knew him quite well. Professionally, he is very sound and it is very unfortunate that this kind of accusations are there. It does dent our reputation. We are just hoping that the thing gets settled quickly this way or the other. Whatever is the decision of the court or the judicial process, we will go by that. We will accept it,” he said. Asked if he agreed that he should not have been kept with common criminals, Raha replied saying he agrees. “I don’t know the exact evidences that the investigating agencies have but if they could treat him a little more respectfully I would be be very happy,” he said.

Jessica Lall case: AAP government to take a call on Manu Sharma’s parole

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi High Court on Monday asked the AAP government to decide in three days the parole plea of Manu Sharma, undergoing life term for killing model Jessica Lall in 1999. “The government of National Capital Territory of Delhi is directed to dispose of the application/representation of the petitioner (Sharma) within three days from the date of receipt of this order,” Justice Pratibha Rani said.The court said the order passed by the government should be communicated immediately to the petitioner and his counsel through the jail superintendent. The direction came on plea by Sharma, who sought three months’ parole to enable him appear for LLB second semester exams from December 31, attend his Personal Contact Programme and re-establish social ties.Advocate Amit Sahni, appearing for Sharma, said three month was required as the convict has to appear before the Registrar in Chandigarh on January 19 next year for registration of his marriage. Sahni said the government has not yet taken any decision on the application since October this year.Additional Standing Counsel Sanjay Lao, appearing for the government, then said the application filed by the petitioner seeking parole shall be disposed of expeditiously. The court noted that the parole application was sent to the competent authority only on December 7, which has not yet been decided.The convict, who has been given parole six times since September 2009, has completed a post-graduate diploma in Human Rights and is now pursuing a Bachelor’s in Law course from Annamalai University, Chennai.Sharma, son of former Union Minister Venod Sharma, was awarded life imprisonment by the high court in December 2006 for killing Jessica Lall in 1999. The trial court had acquitted him, but the Delhi High Court had reversed it and the Supreme Court had upheld the life sentence in April 2010. Lall was shot dead by Sharma after she had refused to serve him liquor at the Tamarind Court restaurant owned by socialite Bina Ramani at Qutub Colonnade in South Delhi’s Mehrauli on the night of April 30, 1999.

UP Elections 2017: Another bout of power struggle in SP over ticket selection

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The bitter power struggle between Akhilesh and Shivpal Yadav came to the fore once again today on the ticklish issue of ticket distribution with the Chief Minister differing with his uncle over selection of candidates.As reports of strains over ticket distribution cropped up, Opposition took a swipe at the ruling party in Uttar Pradesh with BSP supremo Mayawati saying the infighting has split Samajwadi Party into two camps.Shivpal, who had replaced Akhilesh as state party chief during a bitter feud in the Yadav clan, however, maintained there was “no problem” and if there is any it would be resolved.”The matter of ticket (distribution) will be cleared. As soon as elections will be announced, all problems will be resolved…When I have already said everyone’s opinion is being considered, there is no problem…Why are you (media) creating problems,” he posed.After Akhilesh reportedly sent a parallel list of candidates to his father Mulayam Singh Yadav, Shivpal today met the SP supremo at his residence here for over three hours apparently to iron out differences.Akhilesh is believed to be opposed to nomination of Sigbatullah Ansari, who is the brother of jailed gangster Mukhtar Ansari. He also does not favour giving ticket to Atiq Ahmed from Kanpur, who faces over 40 criminal cases including those of murder and attempt to murder, and Aman Mani Tripathi, now arrested by CBI in a case related to the killing of his wife.These names have reportedly upset Akhilesh Yadav so much, sources say, that he has sounded out his father Mulayam and asked him to intervene. The choice of candidates for 175 seats by Shivpal has apparently not gone down well with his defiant nephew Akhilesh who, according to party insiders, prepared his own list of preferred candidates for all the 403 UP Assembly seats and sent it to Mulayam. The list drafted by the Chief Minister carries his name as well as a candidate from Bundelkhand region where he will embark on a ‘Rath Yatra’ on December 28.During their recent public turf war, Akhilesh had insisted he should have a say in the ticket distribution as the election was a test of his government’s performance. This is Akhilesh’s second power play in the last three days. On December 24, Akhilesh had met first-time MLAs at his residence and promised to give them party tickets.

Mamata arrives in capital to attend joint Oppn meeting, Left to stay away

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Raising the stakes in her fight against Modi government on demonetization, Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee arrived in New Delhi to attend a meeting of opposition parties and a joint press conference tomorrow along with Congress, DMK, RJD and other parties.Mamata, who is spearheading the fight against demonetization, will be part of the joint opposition meeting, TMC sources said. Banerjee told reporters at the Kolkata airport, “The Congress has called me for the meeting. Let’s see what happens!” She will attend the media briefing at Constitution Club along with other Opposition leaders including representatives from DMK and RJD among others, sources added. Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi are expected to attend the meeting.While the Left parties announced they are staying away, the JD(U) also gave hints that it may follow suit. A top TMC leader told PTI while reacting to CPI-M’s pull-out, said, “It is the CPI-M’s internal matter. But we feel that it is for them to decide on which side they are.” TMC chief will be in the capital for three days and expected to meet several leaders from different political hues during her stay.We want to highlight the hardships caused due to demonetization across the country, a senior TMC leader claimed. CPI(M) not to attendCracks appeared in the Opposition’s unity as the CPI(M) today decided to stay away from a press conference by the opposition parties convened by the Congress, citing “lack of coordination and consultation” among the participants. “We have decided to stay away from the press conference of opposition parties convened by the Congress because there has been no proper consultation and coordination among the parties,” CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury told a press conference here.”Most of the parties were neither consulted nor informed about what will be the agenda of the meeting. Several opposition parties have reservation about the way the meeting has been convened,” Yechury said.The Congress is striving for uniting the Opposition on the issue of Rahul Gandhi’s charges of “personal corruption” against the Prime Minister and plans are afoot for a joint press conference by its president Sonia Gandhi and other opposition leaders on December 27.Yechury said that a few days back he had received a call from the Congress leadership inviting him to the press conference on December 27. “But when I wanted to know what will be the agenda of the meeting, plan of action and whether all opposition parties have been called, I didn’t receive any answer,” Yechury said. On being asked if the decision to stay away would not provide ammunition to the BJP camp, Yechury said,” When you want to take the opposition unity of 16 parties from a Parliament level to a political level then you need to hold consultation and discussion with the political leadership. A decision should be taken on the basis of proper consultation.That was not done, which is unfortunate,” the veteran leader said.He noted that in order to take forward the unity of opposition parties, references should be taken from the efforts that the CPI(M) has taken during the 1996 United Front government and UPA-I government. Yechury wondered why only the Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee was invited to the press conference and Chief Ministers of Tripura, Bihar, and the NCP leadership were not properly consulted. “Why are you only inviting Chief Minister of West Bengal and not calling CMs of Bihar, Tripura and other states which have non-BJP governments?” he questioned.

Demonetization: Problems will not end after December 30, says Rahul Gandhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Questioning Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his assurance to people that problems due to demonetization will end after December 30, Rahul Gandhi today said the “economic lockdown” will continue to hurt the poor, farmers and workers the most.”Modiji has said that the problems will end after December 30. But I can say with confidence that it will not be so. These hardships will continue for six-seven months and beyond,” the Congress Vice President said addressing a rally here. He was referring to the Prime Minister’s repeated assurance to the people that the problems due to note ban will begin to ease after the 50-day period. Persisting with his attack on the demonetization issue, Gandhi alleged that the Modi Government at the centre and Vasundhara Raje government in Rajasthan had not taken a single step for the poor. “The note ban decision is not against corruption but is an economic lockdown. It is not against black money but against the poor, farmers, labourers and women,” he alleged.”99 per cent of the people do not have black money and they were targeted by the demonetization drive while on the other hand, there are 50 families who have lakhs and crores of rupees and that is black money,” he said.Stating that the Congress party wants to eradicate corruption and its leaders would support the NDA government against the menace, Gandhi alleged that the decision of demonetization was “totally against the people of the country”.He said that only six per cent black money is stored in cash while the remaining is in the form or real estate and gold and is also stashed in Swiss bank accounts. “In the last two-and-a-half years, Modi only worked to create a divide in the country and functioned only for the rich,” he alleged. Rahul alleged that the Modi government tried to “murder” the Land Acquisition Act, which benefits the farmers, and also attempted to stall other pro-poor steps like MNREGA started by the Congress.He alleged that the BJP governments have failed to fulfil three demands of the farmers, namely debt waiver, lower power tariff and proper price for their produce. He also alleged that the tribals were being exploited in BJP-ruled states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. “The entire government is functioning of the rich. What Narendra Modi ji is doing at the Centre, the same is being done by the chief minister of Rajasthan.”In Rajasthan, privatisation is going on. Power tariff was raised by 18 per cent. Have Modiji and the BJP government here taken any step for the poor. They have done nothing for the poor,” he said.

Demonetisation: Note ban adds to cotton farmers’ misery in AP and Telanagana

Crop losses, mounting debts and a spate of pest attacks apart, the cotton farmers of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh now have to deal with the demon of demonetisation as well.

“The note ban has been a worse epidemic than the white fly or pink bollworm for cotton farmers,” says Konda Surekha, a former minister from Warangal, one of the most prominent cotton-growing areas in Telangana. These farmers are sour that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had picked a wrong time for banning big currency notes — the harvest period of the Kharif season for cash crops like tobacco, tomato, groundnut, sugarcane and cotton. Now prices have fallen by 20 to 30 percent and they are unable to clear loans due to the ushering-in of the cashless regime in agricultural markets.

“My cotton stock withered at the market yard as traders said they had no cash to pay and offered cheques,” said Jagarlamudi Anil Babu, a cotton farmer of Prakasam district. Farmers say that banks would rather adjust cheques towards loans and interest than disburse cash.

A variety of issues abound for the cotton and textile industry like the non-implementation of the promised loan waiver, the delay in institutional credit and fall in global demand.

Cotton farmers in five districts of Telangana and six districts of AP are wringing hands in distress as cotton prices crashed to Rs 4,100 per quintal from Rs 5,600 per quintal in the pre-demonetisation period. “Adding to our woes, the traders are asking us to accept payments in cheques or scrapped notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000,” says a cotton grower from Inkollur in coastal Andhra who deferred cotton-plucking for a week due to demonetisation.

Representational image of a cotton-gatherer in Warangal. AFP

Representational image of a cotton farmer in Warangal. AFP

The RBI decision to allow scrapped notes circulation among farmers in marketing their produce and also purchase of seeds and fertilisers has given them temporary relief, but Telangana’s farmers say that Modi should have chosen mid-January to February for demonetisation. A cascading impact is evident from the distress on cotton farmers — weddings, house warming functions and thread ceremonies are either low-key affairs or deferred. Besides cotton, the tobacco industry is dominated by 70 percent cash transactions in the vicious circle of growers, lenders, commission agents and exporters.

Andhra Pradesh and Telangana contribute to one-third of the country’s cotton trade. Chirala in Guntur and Siricilla in Karimangar are popular for their handloom and lungi markets and concentration of looms – they are considered the biggest in Asia for exports to Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

According to the US-based International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) the currency crunch in India has created shortages in domestic textile market and also hit exports to global markets. Cotton exports from Australia, Mali, Burkina Faso and the US could fill up the gap caused by Indian cotton in 2016-17. The ICAC report also blamed the note ban as an ‘untimely move’ detrimental to the Indian cotton market, which could have a domino effect for the next two years.

Officially 21 cotton farmers had committed suicide in 2016 from June to December. Unofficially though, 61 farmers have committed suicide since June and 12 more in the months of November and December.

Since its birth as a new state in June 2014, Telangana has recorded 1,269 suicides. The Hyderabad-based Centre for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA), estimates farmer suicides in Andhra Pradesh in the past 20 years (1995-2014) at 38,000. Lack of access to institutional credit and low crop insurance add to farmers’ woes. “Besides, in anticipation of loan waivers, a large number of farmers did not repay loans last year, and banks have refused loans this year,” points out GV Ramanjeyulu, executive director of CSA.

“They take up crops in Kharif with high interest loans and high expectations to wipe off old dues but often end up adding to their debts and consequent suicides,” says K Changal Reddy, a farmers’ representative.

 Local common sense

In many parts of Telangana and Andhra the crisis has been tackled with local common sense. “Farmers are deferring payments to daily wagers but pay partly in the form of rice and also stood guarantee to small loans taken by them in the local grocery shops,” says Palaparthi Srinivasa Rao, a cotton farmer of Srikakulam. Traders linked payments to fertilisers and seed suppliers for the benefit of farmers. “We also tied up with lorry operators and hotels to pay their dues from the amounts due to them,” says Gopalakrishnaiah, a cotton exporter in Guntur market.

Kuvulu Rythu Sangam (Andhra Pradesh Tenant Farmers’ Association) state secretary N Ranga Rao says that for the Kharif crop season, farmers needed Rs 3,200 crores to take up harvesting in about 40 lakh acres. Another Rs 2,400 crores is needed for the Rabi season. “Since private money lenders also do not have valid currencies now, we depend on government to release crop loans early,” he said.

The monthly report of the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) said the cotton market in Andhra Pradesh, one of the major producers in the country, has plunged into a deep crisis in the aftermath of demonetisation, as trade and export transactions have almost come to a halt and cotton prices have slumped by Rs 1,000 per quintal from Rs 5,000 to Rs 4,100 in just 40 days. Though the CCI has opened over 40 purchasing centres and offered cash payments in Rs 2,000 notes, the farmers are unwilling to sell and choose to suffer rather than sell at the current prices.

Arrears in loan waiver payments

Although both Andhra and Telangana government announced farm loans waiver as a poll promise, they have been paying dues to banks in installments. Telangana government had pegged arrears at around Rs 18,000 crores and Andhra had reduced the burden to Rs 36,000 crores. Banks were advised to issue new crop loans with the promise that loans as of June 2013 would be borne by the government. However, the RBI had opposed the bulk farm loan waiver initiative of both the states and advised banks to release only crop loans in a guarded manner and ensure that until clearance of arrears, farmers’ slates would not be cleaned.

As a result, banks refuse to give fresh loans until old loans are either paid by the farmer or by the state government. As a result, farmers had to take up farming with savings and loans from private money lenders. “My money lender wants cash and not cheque,” says Bharatakka, a cotton farmer of Ibrahimpatnam in Nalgonda district.

Cotton crop grown in Andhra is sent to the ginning mills of Guntur district which supply cotton to textile mills in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Karnataka. According to market sources, almost 70-80 percent of transactions have come to a halt and the market has been hit hard. This has meant the denial of wages to over two lakh people engaged in cotton trading, spinning, ginning and harvesting activities in the state.

In Telangana too, the situation is similar. Traders are offering farmers sops now to get them to sell their cotton and accept cheques — trips to Mumbai, Shirdi and Tirupati are being offered. “If we deposit the cheques in the banks, the bankers will adjust it against loans and interest and the government will not reimburse it,” said Muthyala Reddy of Warangal.

“Cotton trade is always cash and carry activity and bank operations are hardly 10-15 percent. If we offer to pay online or through cards, our suppliers of seeds and fertilises will just reject,” says a cotton farmer, K Samaiah at Enumamula market yard in Warangal. “The ceiling on withdrawals had also made us delay payments. The government cap on withdrawal at Rs 24,000 per week has sandwiched the farmers,” says Phani Raj, a cotton trader at Chilakaluripeta.

Continuing trouble for cotton

The cotton crisis since 2014 in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh had led farmers to shift to other crops due to delay in institutional credit and an unending wait for farm loan waivers. The total area under cotton declined by 12 percent to 10.5 million hectares this year against 11.88 million hectares in 2015-16.

In 2015 and in early 2016 the crop was hit by the white fly and pink bollworm leading to 30 percent drop in yields. “We are asking the farmers not to use non-Bt cotton seed as refuge crop and reduce area under cotton,” says K Dhananjaya Reddy, commissioner for agriculture (Andhra Pradesh).

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 15:21 IST

India conducts fourth test launch of Agni-V missile

India successfully conducts a fourth test launch of its nuclear-capable ballistic missile.

Tamil Nadu: DMK General Council meet on January 4

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>DMK announced that its General Council meeting on Monday, which was deferred in view of M Karunanidhi’s hospitalisation, would be held on January 4, 2017.DMK General Secretary K Anbazhagan said that the General Council, originally slated on December 20 under its President M Karunanidhi, will now be held next month.The General Council was earlier scheduled on December 20 amidst an increasing chorus from Stalin’s supporters for his elevation.Stalin, also leader of the opposition in the Tamil Nadu Assembly, was expected to be appointed working president of the party in the General Council, the powerful decision-making body of DMK.However, the meet was deferred following Karunanidhi’s hospitalisation due to lung and throat infection.Karunanidhi was discharged from the private hospital on December 23.

Yadav vs Yadav: Fresh power play by Akhilesh, Shivpal over ticket distribution

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The contentious issue of ticket distribution today again exposed the rift in Samajwadi Party with state party chief Shivpal Yadav attacking Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav over his reported parallel list of candidates.The choice of candidates for 175 seats by Shivpal has apparently not gone down well with his defiant nephew Akhilesh who, according to party insiders, is understood to have prepared his own list of preferred candidates for all the 403 UP Assembly seats and sent it to his father and party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav.This is Akhilesh’s second power play in the last three days. On December 24, Akhilesh had met first-time MLAs at his residence and promised to give them party tickets.Chinks in the ruling party’s armour once again came to the fore when Shivpal sent out a series of tweets virtually suggesting that he was the boss when it came to distributing tickets for the assembly elections due in few months.Shivpal said the name of 175 candidates were already finalised and warned that any indiscipline would not be tolerated as it may harm the party’s image. He asserted that distribution of party tickets was done on on the basis of winnability.”Tickets will be distributed based on wins. So far 175 people have been given tickets. The Chief Minister will be selected by the legislature party which is according to the party’s constitution. No indiscipline will be tolerated in the party,” he tweeted in Hindi.While party sources maintained that Mulayam will take the final call on candidates, UP minister Juhi Singh sought to downplay any controversy over ticket distribution saying it was a non-issue.During their recent public turf war after Akhilesh was replaced with Shivpal as party chief by Mulayam, the former had insisted that he should have a say in the ticket distribution as the election was a test of his government’s performance.The latest development comes after Mulayam had brokered a fragile peace between Shivpal and Akhilesh as the infighting threatened to damage SP’s poll prospects.As differences over ticket distribution cropped up, opposition parties took a swipe at the ruling party in Uttar Pradesh.”This is a sign that the party (SP) is in total disarray and they talk about giving a fight to the BJP,” UP BJP General Secretary Vijay Bahadur Pathak said.The tussle in Samajwadi Party will prove to be its nemesis in the coming polls, Pathak said.Congress termed the development as SP’s “internal matter”.

VVIP Chopper scam: Ex-Air Force Chief SP Tyagi gets bail, can’t leave Delhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Delhi court on Monday granted bail to former Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal (retired) SP Tyagi in the AgustaWestland chopper scam case.The Court granted bail to Tyagi on a surety of Rs 2 lakh. However, the court directed him not to leave Delhi NCR and not to tamper with evidence.The judicial custody of Sanjeev Tyagi and Gautam Khaitan’s will continue as the court will hear the bail plea on January 4.The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) counsel earlier on December 23 requested the court not to disclose evidences to anyone saying that if the evidence gathered will be disclose, there would be implication on future investigation.Commenting on the bail issued to all the three accused related to the scam, the investigating agency had said they are on pre-charge sheet stage and a very crucial time of investigation is going on.Counter attacking the CBI’s plea, SP Tyagi’s counsel said, “CBI isn’t showing or telling evidence against him and if he (SP Tyagi) tries to prove his innocence, they will accuse him of non-cooperation since he’s not incriminating himself.”Tyagi’s counsel hjad also alleged that CBI in the last four years has never been able to establish any evidence against ex-air chief regarding receipt of any bribe.Tyagi has been accused of influencing the deal in favour of AgustaWestland during his tenure as the IAF chief.He has, however, repeatedly denied the allegations.

Kirti Azad terms Arun Jaitley ‘inefficient’, seeks his resignation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Continuing his tirade against Arun Jaitley, suspended BJP leader and MP Kirti Azad on Sunday termed the Finance Minister as an “inefficient” person and sought his resignation holding him responsible for the hardships faced by the common man post-demonetisation.”It is Arun Jaitley who is bringing disrepute to the government… It is he who is responsbile for the hardships faced by the common people post-demonetization. The Finance Minister is an inefficient person and is also not an economist. He should resign,” he told reporters here.”Our Prime Minister has taken a decision (of demonetizing high value notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000) and banks are indulged in converting crores of black money into white.In whose jurisdiction these banks come? These bank come under the ambit of the Finance Ministry,” said Azad, who represents Darbhanga in Lok Sabha.The former cricketer was suspended by party chief Amit Shah on December 23 last year for publicly targeting the Finance Minister for “irregularities” in DDCA, of which Jaitley was the President for 13 years till 2013.He had also criticised Jaitley two months back saying that those “rejected” by the electorate have not only been made ministers but have become “all in all” in the government and the party.Azad attacked the government, saying it would have made sufficient arrangements and preparations to deal with the situation post-demonetisation “had its intentions been clear”.”The government’s policymakers do not have practical knowledge. Their all assessments are based on far from reality,” he alleged.While frequent raids are being conducted across the country to catch people having black money, why such raids were not conducted earlier by the Finance Ministry, Azad wondered.Cashless transaction system, which is being aggressively promoted and popularised by the government, seems to be difficult to succeed in a country like India, Azad said and added that e-payment is not cent per cent safe and secure.Demonetization has its adverse impact on farmers, labourers, workers, small traders, jewellers, he said adding that even vegetable growers are not getting fair price of their produce.”There are people (in the party), who have been rejected by the people in the elections, have not only been made ministers (in the Union government) but have actually become ‘sarve-sarva’ (all in all) both in the government and in the organisation,” Azad had told a press meet at his residence on October 23, 2016 in his Lok Sabha constituency Darbhanga.He was apparently referring to Jaitley who had lost in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls but was made Union minister.

Jharkhand native on streets after thrown out by in-laws, gurudwara

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Manjeet Kaur, a native of Bokaro in Jharkhand, pays Rs 25 at the Rakab Ganj Gurudwara every time she needs to use the washroom, ever since the Bangla Sahib Gurudwara authorities allegedly forced her to leave their premises.At the time of her menstrual cycle, she changes in the Delhi Police bus standing outside the Parliament Street police station. Kaur was thrown out of her house by her in-laws nearly nine months ago, and she has been making rounds of various Gurudwaras in the Capital since then. She has now filed a complaint against the Bangla Sahib Gurudwara authorities. Kaur got married in December 2015, and soon afterwards, her husband left the house saying his parents had dispossessed him of their property. A month later, Kaur was also allegedly evicted.Since then, the BSc graduate has been staying in various gurudwaras after selling off her belongings. “My in-laws asked me to leave. Then the Gurudwara authority also told me to leave the premises. Now, I am on the streets in the winters with all my belongings. My phone is not working and I cannot contact anyone,” said Kaur.The complaint registered at the Parliament Street police station, accessed by DNA, stated on December 4, the manager and two lady guards of the Gurudwara asked her to leave.Defending their stance, the Gurudwara authorities said a person was not allowed to stay inside the premises for more than 2 to 4 days. “In case a person wishes to stay in the premises, they need to write an application to the management. If the request and the reason is valid, only then he or she would be allowed to stay,” said Parminder Singh Pal, Media Advisor of the Delhi Gurudwara Committee.He added: “Resources are limited and we cannot allow everyone to stay here for long. The place is meant for people who are travelling and need to rest or who have made prior bookings.”When asked why she was not going to shelter homes, Kaur said the facilities have strict rules and she cannot use her laptop or mobile phone. “At shelter homes, everyone has to deposit their mobiles and laptops. I want to look for a job but I will be unable to do it there. Also, the washrooms are very dirty,” she said.She also said her mother has a meagre pension of Rs 1,600 and lives in a rented house in Bokaro. “I have not told my mother that I am living on the streets. I cannot go and live with her as I don’t want to be a burden on her,” Kaur said.She has also written to President Pranab Mukherjee and the head of all the Gurudwaras in Delhi, for justice. Often, she can be seen asking for help from people on the Parliament Street, and even makes calls from mobile phones of people working in buildings around the Parliament Street area. She now plans to sell her vanity case so that she can repair her phone and look for a job.

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