The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has cancelled Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) licences of about ever since it came to power in May 2014.
The home ministry, which took the action, has justified it saying these organisations were technically violating various provisions of the Act.
Cancellation of license would mean that these NGOs are no longer eligible to receive foreign funds. It should be noted that several of these NGOs are involved in rights-based advocacy work, especially working in the domain of human rights.
A plethora of civil society organisations have issued statements against this mass cancellation of FCRA licences stating that this is nothing but an ‘abuse of legal procedures’.
They also “unequivocally condemned the present use of the FCRA as a tool of repression by the current government”.
Organisations such as Greenpeace India, Amnesty International India, TARSHI Delhi and the Centre for Social Justice were all signatories to this statement.
Even the National Human Rights Commission has issued a notice to the home ministry on the issue.
“Prima facie it appears FCRA licence non-renewal is neither legal nor objective and thereby impinging on the rights of the human rights defenders in access to funding, including foreign funding,” the apex human rights watchdog in the country said in the notice.
The FCRA is an intimidating law, especially since the original Act came into force in 1976 during the Emergency by the Indira Gandhi-led government. The Act, at that time, prohibited MPs, electoral candidates, political parties, judges from accepting foreign contributions.
Even “correspondents, columnist, cartoonist, editor, owner, printer or publisher of a registered newspaper” were included in the ambit of the definition of candidate under the Act. The objective was certainly to remove all voices of political dissent, though the ostensible legislative intent suggested that the law was to restrain foreign intervention from internal, domestic matters.
The new FCRA, amended by the Finance Bill 2016, has many changes that render it more severe than its predecessor.
For one, the registration under the previous FCRA was permanent; the present law has altered this, mandating that FCRA licences would expire after five years.
A renewal process would mean that prescribed authorities, that is the State, would have arbitrary power to decide whether an NGO can renew its licence afresh.
The new law also puts a 50 percent restriction on the proportion of foreign funds, thereby controlling the way an NGO spends its money.
Another change, and perhaps a significant one, is that the 1976 law targetted political parties. The new law, however, aims at “organisations of a political nature”.
The FCRA Rules, 2011, drafted by the United Progressive Alliance government, defines what “organisations of a political nature” may include – farmers’ organisations, students’ unions, trade unions, workers’ unions, youth forums, women’s wing of political parties, youth organisations based on caste, community, religion, language and “any organisation… which habitually engages itself in or employs common methods of political action like ‘bandh’ or ‘hartal’, ‘rasta roko’, ‘rail roko’ or ‘jail bharo’ in support of public causes”. The list is astonishing as it clearly targets people and organisations that want to critique, censure and challenge present political discourse.
It is absolutely appalling that the government would amend the legislation in a way that all “organisations of a political nature” are rendered powerless, while political parties are vindicated for prior violations of the law.
In 2014, the Delhi High Court indicted both the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) as well as the Congress of receiving foreign funds in violation of provisions of Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA).
The verdict came after a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed by the Association for Democratic Reforms. A division bench comprising justice Pradeep Nandrajog and justice Jayant Nath asked the government and the Election Commission (EC) to act against the two political parties for accepting foreign funds from Vedanta subsidiaries.
The question, at this juncture, is why is the government apprehensive of NGOs whose work is to democratically interrogate so that constitutional rights and freedoms are not violated. Another question is whether the FCRA is indeed a tool of repression as civil society organisations have declared?
In April 2015, a legal analysis was developed by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association.
It stated that FCRA norms and regulations “are not in conformity with international law, principles and standards”. The FCRA violates the right to freedom of association, an integral freedom incorporated within the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which India is a party.
The right, though not absolute, are amenable to reasonable restriction; however, the analysis suggests that restrictions such as “public interest” and “economic interest” invoked under the FCRA cannot be termed as legitimate restrictions as they are too ambiguous and may give rise to arbitrary and discretionary powers.
Therefore, should the FCRA be repealed? Perhaps not, as regulation of NGO funding is a significant matter. However, curbing the voices in the civil society by way of a colourable legislation is unacceptable and simply put, draconian.
First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 21:24 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Government dared Congress President Sonia Gandhi to respond in Parliament to allegations against her party over AgustaWestland scam, claiming that the opposition party is stalling both Houses as it has a lot to hide.Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar targeted Sonia as the government and opposition stepped up the blame- game over disruption of Parliament proceedings.He also attacked Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, saying “those who are speaking about transparency, integrity and credibility from roof top, why are they not ready to debate about AgustaWestland.”The Minister demanded that the Congress President speak on the issue of chopper scam and “note jugaad”, a reference to allegation that its worker had offered to exchange old currency notes for new.Taking on TMC and Left parties, Kumar questioned their “silence” on the issue of AgustaWestland and said do they subscribe to Congress stand on the chopper scam “as they have not uttered a single word on this”.Blaming Rahul for stalling of both houses, Kumar lashed out at the Congress leader, calling him “mastermind of gagging the Parliament.””The only other time when Parliament was gagged in this manner was during Emergency period,” he alleged.Justifying government’s position in Parliament, Kumar said it tried everything possible to initiate the debate in both houses and was ready to consider both feedback and criticism of the opposition over the issue of demonetisation.In all meetings, the opposition parties were in favour of action against corruption and black money, though they had issues about implementation of demonetisation move which they should have raised in the house, he said.”The whole debate is lost due to myopic strategy of Congress, Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Left parties.Government persuaded them but they were not ready for reconciliation,” Kumar added.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The political row over the recent Army drill at toll plazas in West Bengal flared up again today with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar dashing off a stinging letter to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, saying her allegations can “adversely” impact the morale of the force and the TMC chief hitting back over his “wild assertion”.In the two-page letter, Parrikar told her that he was “deeply pained” over the allegations regarding the deployment of the army personnel and that the same was not expected from a person of her standing and experience in public life. Parrikar said that while political parties and politicians may have the luxury of making “wild and unsubstantiated allegations against each other”, one needs to be extremely careful while referring to the armed forces.”Your allegations in this regard run the risk of adversely impacting the morale of the country’s armed forces and the same were not expected from a person of your standing and experience in public life,” the Minister said.Banerjee, who is a strident opponent of the Centre’s demonetization move, had accused it of deploying the army at toll plazas in West Bengal without informing the state government and described it as “unprecedented” and “a very serious situation worse than Emergency”. The Trinamool Congress stayed put in her office in Kolkata overnight in protest against the deployment and had asked whether it was an “army coup”.Terming it as “avoidable controversy” over the exercise carried out by the Eastern Command in West Bengal and other states under the jurisdiction to collect information about the movement of heavy vehicles at toll gates, Parrikar, in his letter dated December 8, said it is carried out by all formations of the army all across the country for many years. He said the exercises are held as per the dates convenient to the army in consultation with agencies of the state government.”I have been deeply pained by your allegations as reported in the media. If only you had enquired with the agencies concerned of the state government, you would have come to know of the extensive correspondence between the Army and the state agencies including the joint inspection of sites carried out by them,” Parrikar said. Hitting back, Banerjee said, “I take strong exception to your wild assertion that my articulation of the rights of the state government vis-a-vis Army deployment without clearance has impacted the morale of the armed forces.”Your general observations about the political parties and politicians to have the luxury of making wild and unsubstantiated allegations may be apt for your party, but we do not belong to that group,” she said in a two-page reply. The chief minister also maintained that the Ministry of Defence has not taken prior permission of the state government for large deployment of Army personnel in civilian areas.Parrikar said the army authorities were forced to put the record straight in the matter by presenting evidence of their communication with the state agencies concerned including rescheduling of the data collection operations on their response. TMC MP Derek O’ Brien charged the Centre with playing politics on the issue. “Look who is playing politics. The letter has not even reached the chief minister of Bengal and it has already been leaked in the media in Delhi.”
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Minister Giriraj Singh has advocated ‘Nasbandi’ (sterilisation) after demonetization for population control to spur development, but the idea was trashed by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar as “bakwaas” (nonsense).The Union Minister of State for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) had come up with the idea yesterday and had said after “notebandi” (demonetization), there is an urgent need to make laws for “nasbandi” (sterilisation) in the country.”India has 17% of the world population which adds population equal to Australia every year. The country only has 2.5% of land mass of the globe with only 4.2% of water resources. In this scenario, the population explosion in the country is proving to be a big roadblock for development. We need a population control act to tide over the problem,” Singh had said.He had also reportedly talked about sterilisation to control the population growth at a function in his Nawada parliamentary constituency on Sunday last.Chief Minister Nitish Kumar trashed the idea as “bakwaas” (nonsense). “The country has seen effect of Nasbandi earlier,” he said referring to the mandatory sterilisation drive during Emergency period.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Union Minister Giriraj Singh has advocated ‘nasbandi’ (sterilisation) after demonetization for population control to spur development, but the idea was today trashed by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who said the country has seen the effect of such a move in the past.The Union Minister of State for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) had come up with the idea yesterday and said that after “notebandi” (demonetization), there is an urgent need to make laws for “nasbandi” (sterilisation) in the country. “India has 17 per cent of the world population which adds population equal to Australia every year. The country only has 2.5 per cent of land mass of the globe with only 4.2 per cent of water resources. In this scenario, the population explosion in the country is proving to be a big roadblock for development. We need a population control act to tide over the problem,” Singh had said.He had also reportedly talked about sterilisation to control the population growth at a function in his Nawada parliamentary constituency earlier.Chief Minister Nitish Kumar trashed the idea as “bakwaas” (nonsense).”The country has seen effect of nasbandi earlier,” he said, referring to the mandatory sterilisation drive during the Emergency period.Singh’s party BJP, however, chose to remain cautious over his remark. The party sought to distance itself from the word ‘nasbandi’, but asserted the need for birth control for nation’s development.”There may be some differences while choosing words to communicate one’s message. What Giriraj Singh meant to say is to have birth control measures in order to check population explosion. This is the government’s policy to go for birth control. Even some social organisations work in the field… I am not saying anything on nasbandi,” Bihar BJP president Nityanand Rai told PTI.Leaders from other parties slammed Singh for the remark, saying he is merely trying to create a sensation by making such statements. Bihar Congress president and minister Ashok Choudhary said, “People like Giriraj Singh, who belong to an ideology, are trying to create a sensation in the society by making such statements. If they are really concerned about the nation’s development, they should correct it through policy measures…He is trying to sow division in the society.” Stating that both the Central and state governments have already taken a lot of effective steps to check population, Choudhary said, “It has been found that wherever female literacy level is high, fertility rate is low and vice-versa. We are trying to create that kind of system and hence, the state government has decided to open 10+2 school in every panchayat.” RJD spokesman Mrityunjay Tiwari said Singh was known for his controversial statements.”No one takes note of his statements. He must respect the dignity of the post of minister,” he said.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has reportedly locked herself up in her office in the state Secretariat in Kolkata, citing the alleged presence of Indian Army trucks outside as the reason. She has further claimed that she would leave her office only once the army is asked to move.
Mamata had earlier alleged the large presence of army vehicles deployed at toll booths across highways, saying the state government was kept in the dark over this move.
“Army has been deployed in the state without informing the state government. This is a very sensitive issue. This is unacceptable. We do not know anything about it. It has never happened,” Banerjee told the media. “We want details. Federal structure has been disrupted and democracy twisted. Has Emergency been declared? We had no information.”
A Defence Ministry spokesman said there was “nothing alarming about this” and the exercise is carried out as per government orders. “The army conducts the annual exercise throughout the county with the aim of getting statistical data about the load carriers that could be made available to the army in case of a contingency,” said the spokesman.
The three-day exercise, now being conducted within the Eastern Command area, would end on Friday.
She iterated that a civil operation cannot be launched by the army without informing the state and claimed it was the result of a “political vendetta”.
“What was the magnitude of the incident that the central government didn’t inform the state government? This is a political vendetta,” she said.
Continuing her tirade against the Narendra Modi-led central government, she said: “Is it some kind of planning to start a war within the country? The road is ours and is administered under the state’s law and order although it is categorised under the Centre’s National Highway Authority of India.”
She claimed public is being harassed and their vehicles are being stopped along the toll collection points.
“Even if the Army carried out a mock exercise, the state government should have been kept in the loop. The public is panicking. If this is happening in a civil area in Bengal, this could happen in Bihar, next in Uttar Pradesh, then in Tamil Nadu and other states as well. It is a very serious situation and it is dangerous than Emergency. We are facing an extremely black day,” she said.
With inputs from IANS
First Published On : Dec 1, 2016 23:09 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A private airline plane carrying West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee hovered for over half an hour in the Kolkata sky before landing at the NSCBI Airport here on Wednesday night, prompting Trinamool Congress to allege that it was a conspiracy to eliminate the party supremo.”The flight took off from Patna at 7.35 PM, an hour behind schedule, and landed here at shortly before 9 PM, after hovering over 30 minutes in the sky due to technical reasons,” airport officials said, adding that such incident was nothing new in any airport. Senior Trinamool Congress leader and state Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim, who was accompanying Banerjee in the flight, however, took strong exception to “delayed permission from the ATC” for the flight to land and alleged that it was a conspiracy to eliminate the CM.Hakim claimed that even as the pilot announced 180 km away from Kolkata that the plane would land within five minutes, it ultimately touched down after over half an hour, “seriously inconveniencing the chief minister and other passengers”. “The pilot sought permission for landing from the ATC as the plane was flying short on fuel but the ATC kept the flight on hold,” he alleged. “This is nothing but a conspiracy to kill our chief minister as she has raised voice against demonetization and is touring the country to organise a mass movement against the anti-people decision,” Hakim said.When contacted, a senior ATC official said he was not aware of such incident. Mamata terms demonetization decision as ‘super Emergency’Stepping up her attack on the Centre over demonetization, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today dubbed the drive as “super Emergency” and vowed to agitate against it till a rollback of the decision.”The government has taken away the freedom from the people that they have been enjoying for the past 69 years. The government has snatched ‘Roti, Kapda aur Makan’ from the people… A people’s movement was started during the Emergency days… Today, the situation is even worse than Emergency, it can be termed as super Emergency,” the Trinamool Congress supremo said.”People are facing difficulties and inconveniences.They (NDA Government) have sold the country. It is the duty of political parties to raise their voice for the people and we will continue with our agitation till the government takes a decision to roll back the demonetization move,” she said. Mamata was addressing a gathering here in the course of her party’s nationwide campaign against demonetization. Raising the the issue of funding of PM Modi’s public meetings in foreign countries, she asked “From where do they get money to hold such mega public meetings in foreign countries like the US?”.She also raised issue of registration of land by BJP in Bihar for opening offices in districts and displaying deed numbers of land purchased by the BJP, questioned the PM’s intentions as to how could BJP buy huge chunks of land in the month of September, a few weeks before the announcement of demonetization on November 8. Without naming anyone, Banerjee said, “If someone comes with us, then it is good. But, it certainly pains us if someone is not with us in the struggle for common people. This is people’s cause. People will not forgive ‘gaddars’ (betrayers).”Mamata, who arrived in the state capital yesterday, also met RJD chief Lalu Prasad at the latter’s residence. The ruling JD(U) has already made it clear that it would not be present at Banerjee’s agitation programme in the light of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s support to demonetization. Questioning Modi’s poll promise of depositing Rs 15 lakh to every individual’s bank account from money stashed away illegally, Banerjee said, “What happened to the promise? Not a single paise came to anyone’s account nor any single paise was brought from the Swiss bank.” Lalu Prasad and his RJD have also been from time and again questioning the fate of this promise.”Entire industry sector and economy are witnessing a slowdown due to demonetization as a result of which people, mostly from Bihar who have migrated everywhere in search of jobs, are not getting their payments, especially in the jute industry and tea gardens in Bengal,” Banerjee said. Displaying two new notes of Rs 500 denomination having some dissimilar features, she alleged it smacked of a “big scam”.”The prime minister painted everyone as having black money, even those who file IT returns and pay taxes,” she said adding “The PM also disrespected the ‘stree shakti’ (women power) and ‘stree-dhan’ (women wealth).” In order to buttress her point that majority of people still rely on cash transactions in the absence of banking facilities, the TMC chief gave figures of availability of bank branches saying, of the 8,400 gram panchayats in Bihar, 5,000 panchayats do not have branches of any bank.After the programme was over and Mamata left the venue, senior RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh told reporters, “Nitish Kumar should not have supported the Centre’s decision of demonetization. It creates doubt among the people whether everything was fine in the grand secular alliance.” “There is no unanimity in the JD(U) itself on demonetization as Sharad Yadav, former JD(U) president, is saying something different while Nitish is supporting demonetization,” he said.Singh and party state unit chief Ramchandra Purbe, a few leaders of the Bihar unit of Samajwadi Party and Jan Adikar Party of Pappu Yadav along with TMC’s senior leader Mukul Roy were present on the dais.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tensions between the judiciary and the government flared up once again on Saturday as both sides cautioned each other against crossing the “lakshman rekha” with Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad recalling that the Supreme Court had failed while the high courts had shown “great courage” during the Emergency.On Sunday, Former Solicitor General of India Harish Salve said he was saddened by the row. “As a stakeholder in system, I’m saddened that the issue of appointments of judges has reached this impasse,” Salve told ANI.Differences between the two sides first showed up when Chief Justice of India TS Thakur said at a function on Saturday morning that there is a shortage of judges in high courts and tribunals requiring government intervention, a view Ravi Shankar Prasad strongly disagreed with.Later, at another function in the Supreme Court lawns, the CJI cautioned that no organs of government should cross the “lakshman rekha” and stressed judiciary has been given the duty to watch that all remain within their limits. He was responding to Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, who in an apparent reference to the Emergency and other political scenarios, said, “The delicate balance of the Constitution was disturbed in 1970s. That balance must be restored.”Hours later, Rohatgi said at another Law Day function in the presence of CJI and his likely successor Justice JS Khehar that “all including judiciary must recognise there is ‘lakshman rekha’ and be ready for introspection.” While the CJI did not respond to it, Justice Khehar said, “Judiciary has always kept to lakshman rekha by upholding the Constitution.” “Emergency brought out strengths and weaknesses of the Constitution,” he said responding to the AG’s remarks.However, the Law Minister was very vocal in attacking the Judiciary by saying that the “Supreme Court failed us during the Emergency and all high courts showed great courage”. “Courts may quash the order of the government. Courts may set aside a legislation but the governance must remain with those who are elected to govern,” he said, adding handling of the issues relating to Emergency in the ADM Jabalpur case in which the apex court held that even Fundamental Rights can be suspended was a “monumental lapse”.He allayed apprehensions on curtailment of freedom by the present dispensation saying not only he but also the Prime Minister suffered during the Emergency and “it will preserve the freedom of all organs of the State”.Justice Khehar said, “Judiciary is mandated to shield all persons, citizens and non-citizens alike, against discrimination and abuse of State power. “Liberty, equality and dignity of citizen have flourished substantially in India due to the pro-active role of judiciary in the country,” he said adding that “a progressive civil society and a pulsating media have contributed to keep the constitutional values on track.”
New Delhi: Tensions between the judiciary and the government flared up once again on Saturday, as both sides cautioned each other against crossing the “Lakshman Rekha”, with law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad recalling that the Supreme Court had failed while high courts had shown “great courage” during the Emergency.
Differences between the two sides first showed up when Chief Justice of India TS Thakur said at a function that there is a shortage of judges in high courts and tribunals requiring government intervention, a view Prasad strongly disagreed with.
Later, at another function in the Supreme Court lawns, the CJI cautioned that no organs of government should cross the “Lakshman Rekha” and stressed judiciary has been given the duty to watch that all remain within their limits.
He was responding to attorney general Mukul Rohatgi, who in an apparent reference to the Emergency and other political scenarios, said, “The delicate balance of the Constitution was disturbed in 1970s. That balance must be restored.”
Hours later, Rohatgi said at another Law Day function in the presence of the CJI and his likely successor, Justice JS Khehar, “All, including judiciary, must recognise there is a ‘Lakshman Rekha’ and be ready for introspection.”
While the CJI did not respond to it, Justice Khehar said, “Judiciary has always kept to the Lakshman Rekha by upholding the
Constitution. Emergency brought out strengths and weaknesses of the Constitution.”
However, the law minister was very vocal in attacking the judiciary, by saying, “Supreme Court failed us during the Emergency and all high courts showed great courage. Courts may quash the order of the government; courts may set aside a legislation but the governance must remain with those who are elected to govern.”
Prasad also added that issues regarding the Emergency in the ADM Jabalpur case in which the apex court held that even Fundamental Rights can be suspended was a “monumental lapse”. He allayed apprehensions on curtailment of freedom by the
present dispensation, saying he and Prime Minister both suffered during the Emergency and “it will preserve the freedom of all organs of the state”.
Justice Khehar said, “Judiciary is mandated to shield all persons, citizens and non-citizens alike, against discrimination and abuse of state power. Liberty, equality and dignity of citizen have flourished substantially in India due to the pro-active role of judiciary in the country,” he said, adding that “a progressive civil society and a pulsating media have contributed to keep the
constitutional values on track.”
First Published On : Nov 26, 2016 22:09 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a rare interview, Sonia Gandhi spoke to India Today about her mother-in-law and one of India’s most iconic prime ministers Indira Gandhi. In a conversation that lasted 30 minutes, she reminisced about her first meeting with Indira Gandhi in 1965 and how they ended up speaking in French since Sonia Gandhi couldn’t speak in English properly. She described Indira as ‘gentle and understanding’, and that she gave Rajiv and Sonia, all the space they needed. Sonia Gandhi refused to speak about politics, but shared some interesting titbits about Indira. Here are some of the highlights from her interview: On Indira influencing her to join politics Describing her decision to join politics as tough, Sonia said: “I didn’t want to join politics. I didn’t want my husband to join politics. He was not keen. He was happy being a pilot. But I felt a certain duty to my mother-in-law and my husband, and I saw them work day in and day out to uphold certain values and principles. And when it came to my call, I felt that I was being cowardly not to join.”Asked if Indira pushed her to join politics she said: “I don’t think she pushed anyone to join politics, but she brought up her sons in a manner in which they understood the kind of work and sacrifice she had done to uphold certain values. She didn’t want to be in politics herself. That’s my belief.”What she felt about family members joining politics When asked about the Gandhi family in politics: “Just like in a family of doctors or professors joined politics, one or the other within the family will choose the same path as the father. There’s a difference because in politics you are elected or defeated democratically.”What Indira Gandhi stood for When asked if Indira Gandhi pushed the idea of family first, she said: “It was always about the country. There was nothing in my head but to uphold my mother-in-law’s ideals.” She added that Indira Gandhi’s ideals were shaped by secularism and that she believed all Indians were equal, regardless of their religion. She also refused the notion that Indira played ‘vote bank politics’.Whether Indira regretted the Emergency When asked about Indira Gandhi’s reaction to Emergency, she said: “I cannot say how she would react to the Emergency today. But I can say that if she had not felt extremely uncomfortable with it at some stage, then she wouldn’t have called for elections.” She also mentioned instances when Rajiv Gandhi, in his pre-political days as a pilot, told his mother about the reaction to the Emergency in different parts of the country, stories that he had heard from passengers.Whether Congress needed a leader like Indira to counter PM Modi Asked if Congress needed a leader like Indira Gandhi to counter Narendra Modi and BJP, she mentioned that when Indira became the president of the Congress, she was ridiculed and made fun of. She added: “Rahul and Priyanka can take on their opponents. So much is expected of us because of our surname, we sort of gather inner strength to make it possible to face such things.”On whether Congress would come back from 44 seats She said: “It’s absolutely possible we will come up from 44 seats. Absolutely come back to power. You come up, you go down, it’s part of life.”Whether PM Modi is like Indira GandhiAsked whether she was troubled by the fact that Modi was being compared with the late Prime Minister as a strong personality, Gandhi said, “It does not trouble me because I do not believe in it. I have my own clear views about it. There is no comparison. Absolutely not.”Whether Priyanka was like Indira She added that all of them (Priyanka, Rahul and herself) had been influenced by Indira Gandhi in different ways. She said: “Everyone one of us have been influenced by Mrs Gandhi in different ways, I’ve been influenced in my own way. It’s no model, that I am like Indira. We all have been influenced.”Whether Rahul would take forward her legacy She said: “I am not the one to decide that or reply.”On Indira Gandhi’s deathSpeaking about Indira Gandhi’s death, Sonia said that her mother-in-law was aware about a threat to her life. She said: “I was in my room and I heard some noises. Diwali was a few days ago and at first I thought it was firecrackers. I sent a lady to check what the noise was about. She came back howling. And then I saw her body riddled with bullets.””My mother-in-law knew, she had given instructions what to do in her death. We took her to the hospital. It was a terrible ordeal, there was no ambulance, she was placed in an ambassador and I was sitting with her in my arms. There was a lot of traffic.” She added that Indira’s death was a terrible blow to the entire family.On Indira’s greatest contribution She said: “Her greatest contribution is her loyalty to the people of India. Because from that everything flows. There was something about her, her deep compassion with people. That very few talk about. She had a connect with the average person. She had a deep compassion and empathy for the underdog.Whether being a woman surrounded by men bothered IndiraShe said: “I don’t think so. She did say that she never felt she was a woman amongst all these colleagues. She always felt equal.”On the 1971 – Bangladesh Liberation War Speaking about Indira Gandhi’s bravest moment – the 1971 War, she said: “Indira felt strongly for the people of East Bengal. Terrible atrocities were committed. We heard horrific stories and we felt pain. She would tell us about what’s happening there. She never saw herself as Ma Durga. She was a woman who was completely devoted to the people of her country. She had a sense of sacrifice.”Other aspects of Indira Gandhi She was a great writer. She was interested in everything and everybody. She was interested in classical music, heritage, classical art, folk art, folk music and environment.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s strong pitch for simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies, the Law Ministry has suggested consideration of the issue from the legal and logistical angles separately.The legal angle would involve constitutional amendments that would be required to be passed before the idea could be implemented on the ground.The ministry has, in a note sent to the “highest level” of the government, split the issue into two parts for consideration.Following the recommendation of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law in December last to hold the two polls together, the Law Ministry had sought the views of the Election Commission.The Commission, while supporting the idea, had made it clear that it will cost a lot and the Constitution will have to be amended to curtail or extend the term of certain state assemblies.Now, after analysing the report of the standing committee and the poll panel, the Law Ministry has split the issue into two parts — one dealing with legalities involved and the other regarding logistics, infrastructure and finances.In its reply to the Law Ministry in May, the Commission said it supports the proposal but cost involved will be to the tune of over Rs 9,000 crore.Deposing before the parliamentary panel which gave its report on ‘Feasibility of holding simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and state Legislative Assemblies’, the Commission had expressed similar “difficulties”.The Commission has told the government as well as the committee that simultaneous conduct of elections would require large-scale purchase of Electronic Voting Machines and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines.”For conducting simultaneous elections, the Commission expects that a total of Rs 9,284.15 crore will be needed for procurement of EVMs and VVPATs.”The machines would also need to be replaced every 15 years which would again entail expenditure. Further, storing these machines would increase the warehousing cost,” the Parliamentary panel had said quoting EC.While as per electoral law, elections can be held six months prior to the end of the term of a House, the term of the House cannot be extended except during proclamation of Emergency. Ensuring that the term of houses in states are either extended or curtailed to match with that of the Lok Sabha will require amendment to three to four articles of the Constitution.President’s Rule in states and ‘no confidence motions’ against governments are situations which may occur. The government will have to see how to deal with such situations when it wants all states to have elections along with the Lok Sabha, official sources said.The production of sufficient number of EVMs by two PSUs — BEL and ECIL will also have to be considered as they need time to procure new machines.Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for a public debate earlier this month on the issue as frequent elections cost a lot and the election-time code of conduct disrupts governance.”Leaders from various parties support simultaneous polls in private but do not speak out publicly … it warrants a public debate in which media can play vital role,” said Modi at a post-Diwali function at the BJP office here.The issue is likely to be discussed in the Lok Sabha during the ongoing winter session as some parties want the issue to be debated following demonetisation.On March 19, Modi had told a meeting of BJP office-bearers that state elections coupled with local-level polls, spread across virtually every year, often “hinder” execution of welfare measures. He was keen on holding simultaneous elections once in five years.The government feels that while one-time cost in holding simultaneous polls would be high, the exercise may bring down expenditure involved in ‘election bandobast’ such as deployment of central forces and poll personnel.
But in spite of the 40-minute long address to the nation by Modi and the countless discussions, debates and explanations that followed, it seems that it is still unclear what exactly it means when we say ‘currency note’ and ‘legal tender’.
Because of this ambiguity around the terms, and the aggressive crackdown on black money, several reports have emerged where people are being turned away at hospitals and not been given medicines at pharmacies etc. because of the demonetisation.
Demonetisation merely means that a certain set of notes are no longer accepted as ‘legal tender’. It certainly does not mean that accepting such tender is a punishable offence. Hospitals and other emergency services do not need government permission to continue to accept these notes – the old Rs 500, Rs 1,000 notes. In fact, anyone can legally accept an old note as long as they are willing to take the risk of depositing it themselves before 30 December.
All hospitals have to do is to issue a receipt to people who pay in cash and ask them for an ID proof. Then the hospitals can legally deposit the cash and declare it as their income (which it lawfully is).
If the ambiguity around demonetisation can be removed, then no one really has to die; human lives need not be collateral in the war against black money.
So what exactly is ‘legal tender’?
The Indian rupee is technically made up of a rupee coin that is issued under the Coinage Act of 2011 – which includes the one rupee note. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) issues bank notes of the Indian rupee. The rupee, like the pound sterling, is accordingly convertible into coin.
But, since it is quite difficult for a human being to carry around a lot of coins – imagine carrying around five hundred or even a hundred rupees in coins – the concept of bank notes comes into the picture.
The RBI holds on to the coin for you and issues you a promissory note. You can use the note just the same way you can use the coin. When you present said note, the RBI has an obligation to exchange the note for the coin on demand. That’s the meaning of the “I promise to pay the bearer the sum of Rs X” written on each note.
Legal tender, however, is something quite different from a bank note. Say, my neighbour’s son washed my car over the weekend and expected compensation for his services to the amount of Rs 100. Now, I could just give him a box of chocolates worth Rs 100 for his work, but he could lawfully refuse to accept those box of chocolates. But, if I paid him using a Rs 100 note, he cannot legally refuse.
This is what legal tender means. If an instrument is legal tender, it shall be unlawful to refuse to accept the payment of an amount expressed in that instrument. So, if someone owes you money and is willing to pay you that money in rupee, you cannot legally refuse to accept it.
But here’s what most people don’t understand in the example outlined above – nothing really stops my neighbour’s son from accepting that box of chocolates either.
If one reads the RBI notification carefully, the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes have only ceased to be legal tender, but their use and possession has not been made unlawful. In fact, you can deposit unlimited amounts of those notes into your bank accounts – provided amounts increasing Rs 2.5 lakhs are declared as income.
Thus, hospitals and other emergency services can continue to accept these notes without causing any inconvenience to the public at large. For the sake of transparency, they can even implement KYC norms and ask for photo ID before they take the cash payment – though it is not required.
In fact, any person or business is free to continue to accept the demonetised currency as long as they declare the income and deposit it into their account. The only requirement that comes with something being legal tender is that one cannot refuse to accept it as payment.
At a time when everyone is stretched, including the banking system, it may make sense for emergency services to cooperate and voluntarily start the process of accepting the old demonetised notes and depositing them into their accounts. This can help avoid any further loss of life and make the lives of patients easier.
First Published On : Nov 17, 2016 07:41 IST
The view that there should be complete synergy between the stakeholders of democracy is dangerous. On the contrary, the character of a robust democracy is defined by the friction between its four pillars — executive, legislature, judiciary and a free media. An existence of tension between these forces is a good thing and ultimately works to strengthen the institutions.
But this tension is a force of good as long as it is not allowed to degenerate into an ugly free-for-all, the kind of which we witnessed over the weekend since the government first proposed and then put on hold a move to take NDTV India off the air for a day on 9 November. None of the dramatis personae — the government, media or the opposition — emerge from this macabre play without sullying their credibility.
The Narendra Modi government’s image has taken yet another heavy beating, and this time it has only itself to blame. Its actions lacked conviction, its communication strategy was in a shambles, and it moved with all the deftness of a bull in a china shop. An interplay between democracy’s stakeholders must follow a clearly defined set of guiding principles rather than ad hocism. The Centre erred in slapping even a token “ban” — howsoever grave the channel’s error might have been — and then botched it up further in an attempt to sound magnanimous.
The government believes that NDTV India jeopardised national security while covering the Pathankot terror attack and that it violated the newly introduced clause — 6(1)p — to the Programme Code of the Cable Television Network Rules, 1994, that restricts live coverage of terrorist attacks in the interest of national security. The amended rules prohibit any telecasting of strategically important information during a counter-terrorist operation and restrict the channels to periodic official briefings.
There are two important points to be made here. One, it is undeniable that terrorists and its handlers can exploit real-time dissemination of information from electronic medium to plan their strategy and there have been cases — noticeably during the 26/11 Mumbai attacks — where these have been used to devastating effect.
The Supreme Court in 2012 had lambasted the “reckless” coverage of Mumbai terror attacks and found that “by covering live the terrorist attack on Mumbai in the way it was done, Indian TV channels were not serving any national interest or social cause. On the contrary, they were acting in their own commercial interest, putting national security in jeopardy.” As Times of India had reported, “the court found from the transcripts of conversations between terrorists holed up in Taj Hotel, Oberoi Hotel and Nariman House and their handlers in Pakistan that the terror masterminds were watching the live telecast and got important inputs about the positioning of security forces.”
However, and now we come to the second point, as terrorists bring their violence close to us and into our living rooms, media is also trying to keep up with evolution. Mainstream media around the world are increasingly putting self-regulation in place while covering these “live” situations and Indian channels are also following suit. It is instructive to remember that even while ripping apart media’s handling of the 26/11 attacks, the Supreme Court did not advise press freedom to be subjected to government scrutiny.
And therein lies the crux of the problem. NDTV India may or may not have erred in airing information that the government says was “sensitive”, but which according to the channel was anyway available in public domain. But the moment the government took it upon itself to scrutinise and then penalise the channel — even if it was a token penalty — it embarked on the slippery slope of media censorship. While evaluating the role of one pillar of democracy — a free media — it vested too much power on bureaucracy and opened itself to criticism that the bar may be lowered in the future.
It wasn’t as if there were no options before the government to send a message across that media must behave more responsibly when it comes to matters of national security. The ministry could have, as The Hindu points out in its editorial, approached the News Broadcasting Standards Authority which was set up by the News Broadcasters Association in the light of the 2008 Mumbai attacks recognising the need for a more restrained and responsible coverage. It could have also set up a quasi-judicial body or formed an independent panel to scrutinise NDTV India’s coverage. Instead, in its actions, the government came across as a heavy-handed bully and not nearly as a power guided by “liberal, democratic ethos”, as Union Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu has claimed.
The media, on the other hand, has emerged from the incident as a shrill, hyperbolic force that instead of reason, relies on rhetoric to get a point across to the detriment of its credibility. The abundant equivalences comparing the I&B ministry’s decision to the 1975 Emergency were amusing and worrying in equal measure. Amusing because, the plethora of articles in every medium — print, electronic or digital — accusing Modi government of declaring “undeclared Emergency” are the greatest proof that such accusations were ridiculous. While they were right to criticise the government for its ham-handed ways, such rhetorical gymnastics devalue the real horrors of Emergency.
During the 21-month period starting June 1975, the Indira Gandhi government, recalls a recent Indian Express article, muzzled the press by censoring or banning most mainstream dailies. “The Indian Express and The Statesman left the lead editorial space blank as a mark of protest. Correspondents of The Times of London, The Daily Telegraph, The Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor and The Los Angeles Times were expelled. Reporters of The Economist and The Guardian left after receiving threats. The BBC withdrew its correspondent. The home ministry told Parliament in May 1976 that 7,000 persons had been held for circulating clandestine literature opposing the Emergency. Kishore Kumar was banned by All India Radio after he refused to support the Youth Congress.”
By equating the Modi government’s decision with Emergency, the media has shown itself to be not worthy of the responsibility that is vested upon it. It risks devaluing itself to a political force instead of the being the neutral watchdog.
The most disgraced lot to have emerged from this fiasco are the political parties who tried to claim the moral high ground by going along with the media’s assumptions that an Emergency has been promulgated In India. The Congress appeared to be burning in righteous indignation led by its vice-president whose knowledge of history is matched only by his leadership abilities. Rahul Gandhi may have forgotten that the UPA had banned 21 channels during its tenure due to various reasons and that his grandmother subjected Indian citizens to the sole instance of Emergency.
AAP supremo, and Delhi Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal exhorted all TV channels to go off the air on 9 November to show solidarity with NDTV. “I hope the whole media goes off (the) air for a day in solidarity with NDTV,” Kejriwal had tweeted.
For someone who is such a staunch believer in press freedom, it was odd that Kejriwal would threaten to send media persons to jail for allegedly promoting Narendra Modi. As Times of India reported in 2014, a video of Kejriwal’s diatribe against the media at a fundraiser in Nagpur saw him promise an inquiry against media persons if AAP came to power. “If our government comes to power then we will set an inquiry into this. And along with media people, all will be sent to jail,” he was heard saying in the clip.
Another of Modi’s virulent critics, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, has an even “greater record” when it comes to tolerating criticism. Apart from the well-publicised instance of a Jadavpur University professor who was sent to jail for sharing a cartoon, there have been reports of a youth in Malda getting arrested for making a derogatory remark against the TMC chief on Facebook.
As mentioned before, friction between pillars of democracy is welcome. But all stakeholders must act with equal responsibility to ensure that it doesn’t become a free-for-all.
Flying abroad recently on an international flight, an erudite Indian journalist, well established in high-end social circuits at home and abroad, especially in our immediate neighbourhood in general and our western neighbour in particular, wondered aloud how the term ‘presstitutes’ came about in India, whether it was coined by a military veteran-turned-politician and why this term?
She had probably never heard of John Swinton, the former chief of staff of The New York Times, who addressed New York Press Club in 1953, saying:
“There is no such thing, at this date of the world’s history, as an independent press. You know it and I know it. There is not one of you who dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinions out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job.”
Swinton went on to say:
“If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before twenty-four hours my occupation would be gone. The business of the journalist is to destroy the truth; to lie outright; to pervert; to vilify; to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell the country for his daily bread. You know it and I know it and what folly is this toasting an independent press. We are the tools and vassals of the rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes.”
Whether ‘intellectual prostitutes’ is better than ‘presstitutes’ or vice-versa may be debated but speaking of the aforementioned reporter (who was part of an Indian delegation,) she announced in a bilateral discussion with a friendly country, “I do not agree with any of my delegation members that Pakistan should be called a terrorist state”. This was more shocking since no other country including Pakistan was present — this being a bilateral dialogue between India and the friendly country. When told later that she should have spoken this way, she shot back reasons A, B, C, D, and E why she cannot be faulted — the sum total of which was ‘Freedom of Speech’. When asked whether she saw any difference between a debate on TV in India versus projecting one’s own country’s viewpoint as part of an Indian delegation especially when Pakistan has upped its proxy war on India, she gave a blank look as if some gibberish was being thrown her way.
Not to mention that when told our response to Pakistan must include the sub-conventional, her query after years of journalism was, “What is sub-conventional?”. Of course she took umbrage when another delegation member (a former IAS official) told her that she appeared to be the elder version of a Indian television journalist and columnist who works as a consulting editor with a New Delhi-based TV channel.
Now let us look at the commotion over NDTV India being blocked for 24 hours for broadcasting sensitive information during the terrorist attack on the IAF airbase at Pathankot. The Opposition is delighted with added ammunition to disrupt the forthcoming Winter Session of Parliament, in addition to the OROP-related suicide by Subedar Ram Kishan Grewal, the disappearance of JNU student Najeeb Ahmad (could he have left the country?), surgical strikes, civilian casualties due Pakistani ceasefire violations and what-have-you — official work, including GST, be damned. NDTV India’s day-long ban is being equated with the years of Emergency. According to others, India is going the Pakistan way, with Islamabad having imposed restrictions on Pakistani journalist Cyril Almeida, putting him on the Exit Control List for breaking a story on the tiff between Pakistan’s civil and military leadership.
The intriguing part is that while Pakistan acted against Almeida almost instantaneously, the action against NDTV India comes almost 10 months after the event. Besides, what does the single-day ban convey? What type of token for having broadcast “sensitive information”? The decision reportedly was taken by an inter-ministerial committee (IMC) comprising joint secretaries from the ministries of Home, Defence, External Affairs, I&B, Health and Family, Women and Child Development, plus representative of the Advertising Standards Council of India — all in all, a diverse and august group. According to the grapevine, the IMC found the TV channel to have violated the provisions of the Program Code, specifically Clause 6 (1) (p) of the code, in its coverage of the Pathankot terrorist attack.
The Program and Advertising Code of the Cable TV Network Rules, 1994 has been incorporated in the Cable Act and is taken from the content code governing All India Radio. But when Clause 6 (1) (p) of the code was added in June 2015, doesn’t the action against NDTV after almost 10 months after the broadcast show the lackadaisical and callous manner in which we deal with what has been referred to as a leak of “sensitive information”? After the elapse of so many months, it is difficult to remember what the broadcast really was considering every channel was broadcasting continuous coverage of the terror attack. But what exactly did NDTV India broadcast that was not being broadcast by some of the other channels, if not all? If the information endangered national security, did the IMC inform the NSA? And, isn’t a one-day ban akin to the knee-jerk reaction of arresting Hurriyat leader SAS Geelani and then sending a delegation to meet him next day?
“The decision to take the channel off the air for a day is a direct violation of the freedom of the media and therefore the citizens of India, and amounts to harsh censorship imposed by the government reminiscent of the Emergency. This first-of-its-kind order to impose a blackout has seen the Central government entrust itself with the power to intervene in the functioning of the media and take arbitrary punitive action as and when it does not agree with the coverage.”
The case of a token ban on NDTV India and its justification can be argued by concerned parties, even the highest — at the Supreme Court-level, and one cannot argue whether it was right or wrong. However, as a nation we must acknowledge that our reporting is devoid of any sense of national security when needed most.
Some of the prominent examples include:
– Entire layout of Parliament shown post the terrorist attack, including who sits where and routes of entry and exit.
– Continuous coverage during terrorist attacks especially the 26 November, 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai giving location and movement of own troops, giving advantage to Pakistani terrorists.
– Pincers and arrows of Strike Corps objectives in enemy territory being shown after corps-level exercises.
– Options for future operations being openly discussed by TV channels with maps and models post the recent surgical strikes.
– Visuals and broadcasts that incite racial and communal violence.
Forget China and Pakistan, but name one other country where broadcasts like the above are made. They all are careful not to jeopardise national security. Where, and if, national security is involved, forget token bans, there should be prosecution — Freedom of Speech can’t be exploited to jeopardise national security.
The author is a veteran Lieutenant-General of the Indian Army
(Firstpost is from the same stable as IBN7 which competes with NDTV India)
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The war of words over the one-day ban on Hindi news channel NDTV India by the Centre escalated with I and B minister Venkaiah Naidu saying it was in the interest of “country’s security” and the opposition asserting the action will lead to “second Emergency”. Naidu while denouncing references to the Emergency in the context of the order for blackout of the channel on November 9 over its coverage of Pathankot attack slammed the opposition parties for “politicisation” of such issues, noting that the Modi government has the highest regard for freedom of media. Listing out the names of some of the channels that were banned in the past, he said, “AXN was banned for two months. FTV was banned for two months. Enter10 for one day. ABN AndhraJyoti seven days. Al Jazeera was banned for five days for showing wrong map of India. “These are all done earlier. Now they are saying it is done for the first time, murder of democracy, Emergency reminiscent and all,” the Information and Broadcasting Minister noted. Official sources gave details of “warnings” issued by the previous UPA regime against the NDTV group over telecast of some of its programmes. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and fellow JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav, DMK chief M Karunanidhi, BSP supremo Mayawati and RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav hit out at the Centre, calling the ban an “insult to freedom of expression” and demanded its withdrawal. The CPI(M) politburo said it showed the “authoritarian” attitude of the Modi government. Justifying the government’s decision, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said NDTV India appeared to have violated the guidelines issued by the Centre over live coverage of an anti-terror operation.Addressing a press conference in Chennai, Naidu also slammed Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi for “talking about the dark days of Emergency”.”I was surprised, aghast. Some people talked of Emergency-like situation. The action was taken in the interest of the country’s safety and security”, he said, adding, “Politicisation of such issues will affect the safety and security of the country.”Parrikar stressed that it was a security related issue and the channel appeared to have violated guidelines for coverage of terror attacks. “It is not a ban. They have been asked to put off the channel temporarily for a day,” Parrikar told reporters here in response to a query.”When you show the anti-terror operation live, the handlers of terrorists get the information…. It appears that these guidelines were violated by the channel during the Pathakot attack coverage. It appears like that,” he said.The minister added, “The guidelines on airing the live anti-terrorist operations were issued by the UPA government after the (26/11) 2008 Mumbai attack. In last five years, there were 21 such incidents wherein different channels violated the guidelines.””The Central government’s decision to ban NDTV India is condemnable. The decision tantamounts to controlling the freedom of media. It is quite necessary to have a free and impartial media in a country like India,” Nitish Kumar said in a statement in Patna.At a news conference in Lucknow, Mayawati accused the Modi government of throttling Freedom of Press. “If the Central government continues with such activities, it will lead to a second Emergency and those black days will be etched in the minds of people,” Karunanidhi said, adding the action reminded him of the Emergency days when his articles in party mouthpiece ‘Murasoli’ were ‘banned’ then.Lalu Prasad said the government action is an attack on democracy. “Narendra Modi, BJP and RSS is taking country toward emergency and dictatorship”, Lalu said while addressing Samajwadi Party(SP) celebrations in Lucknow.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A lot has been said and much not said since a government committee took the decision to ban NDTV India for a day. Many members of the press and opposition politicians (including those who have no compunction in crushing dissent in their own backyard) compared the situation to an Emergency-like situation. For the uninitiated, the Emergency referred to here was when former PM Indira Gandhi had declared an internal emergency in 1975 which comprised a crackdown on the press and any form of dissent.While NDTV India’s Ravish employed mime artists to protest the decision, NDTV said in an official statement: “The order of the MIB has been received. It is shocking that NDTV has been singled out in this manner. Every channel and newspaper had similar coverage. In fact, NDTV’s coverage was particularly balanced. After the dark days of the emergency when the press was fettered, it is extraordinary that NDTV is being proceeded against in this manner. NDTV is examining all options in this matter.”Front-page headline connoisseurs The Telegraph called it an On AIR EMERGENCY ERA BLACKOUT and a lot of people seemed to be of the opinion that another Emergency was upon us. However, a lot of Indian Twitter users appeared unconvinced with the doomsday announcement as they created a hash tag titled #FeltLikeEmergency to mock the situation. Here are some of the best tweets:
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>enouncing references to the Emergency in the context of the one-day ban on NDTV India channel, Information and Broadcasting minister Venkaiah Naidu on said the action against the Hindi news channel was taken in the interest of the “country’s safety and security”.Addressing a press conference, he said the NDA government has the highest regard for freedom of media and politicisation of such issues will only affect the safety and security of the country. He also slammed Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi for “talking about the dark days of Emergency”. “I was surprised, aghast. Some people talked of Emergency-like situation. The action was taken in the interest of the country’s safety and security”, he said.”I do not know how they are saying this is the first time. I read in a newspaper today that it is first time (that Government has issued a ban on a television channel). Shall I give the list of how many times channels were ordered to go off air?”, he asked. Listing out the names of some of the channels that were banned in the past, he said, “AXN was banned for two months. FTV was banned for two months. Enter10 for one day. ABN AndhraJyoti seven days. Al Jazeera was banned for five days for showing wrong map of India. “These are all done earlier. Now they are saying it is done for the first time, murder of democracy, Emergency reminiscent and all”, he noted.
ALSO READ Govt on NDTV ban: Nation comes first “People know what is good and what is bad and people understand what is required in the larger interest of the country. That is why I saw that people on social media supported the Government’s stand except some people who are not well informed”, he said. “Politicisation of such issues will affect the safety and security of the country”, Naidu, who is here to attend a conference organised by Builders Association of India, said.Maintaining that the Government was duty bound to act on such issues and does not require to approach the courts, he said, “I have to answer tomorrow in Parliament. I have to answer people tomorrow.”
ALSO READ Govt defends NDTV India ban, says UPA gave 21 such orders “Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi is talking about dark days of Emergency. Do you know what is Emergency? Some people who were in the Congress at that time and now in different political parties also joined the chorus now because it has become a fashion. They just want to use each and every occasion to criticise the government and take the name of the Prime Minister for each and everything”, he said. Responding to criticism by Editors Guild of India, Naidu said, “The Editors Guild of India, a responsible organisation that took a full day to come out with its response should realise that under Sub-section (2) of Section 20 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, Central Government is required to regulate or prohibit the transmission of any channel or programme in the interest of sovereignty, integrity and security of India and as per Para 8.1 of Uplinking Guidelines, is empowered to take action for transmitting any objectionable content inconsistent with public interest.
ALSO READ From Kejriwal to Rahul Gandhi: How politicians reacted to NDTV India’s one-day banTherefore, the Government is not required to approach the Courts in such cases, as suggested by the Guild, he added. “I leave it to the wisdom of the Editors Guild to ponder if the decision against NDTV India for the reasons explained, is really reminiscent of the dark days of Emergency,” he said.Naidu said that very recently in an interaction, he had stressed that effective self-regulation by media is the best way of protecting its freedom and we are committed to it. “I also said that freedom is best upheld when its value is fully appreciated. In this case, that much valued freedom was not put to best use by NDTV India. I am happy to note that the people of the country are broadly with the decision in the matter of NDTV India,” he said.Always, there will be a minority who are critical of whatever the Government does in the best interest of the country, Naidu added. The minister also said that in several advisories issued by the previous UPA Government, all news and current affairs TV channels were clearly asked to exercise restraint, maturity and sensitivity while reporting on anti-terrorist operations in the larger interest of safety and security of security forces involved in such perations and civilians.Expressing concern over continued violations, the then UPA Government concluded that any coverage violating such norms amount to coverage against the interests of the nation, he added.
Sharad Yadav slams govt over ban on NDTV India
New Delhi: Senior JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav today expressed shock at the government’s decision to take news channel NDTV India off the air for 24 hours as a punitive measure.
“I am shocked… I highly condemn this decision of the government. It is an infringement on the freedom of speech as provided in the Constitution of India. Further, without going into the details of what this channel has shown and other channels have shown while covering the Pathankot terrorist attack, it is completely unfair to take such an action against this channel.
“I do not remember such an action has been taken by any government in the past after the Emergency period. From now on the press will have fear in their minds while giving free and fair news. It is a great threat to democracy,” he said.
The Rajya Sabha member hoped that right sense will prevail upon the government and it will withdraw the order.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The one-day ban on a leading Hindi TV channel ‘NDTV India’ by the Centre over its coverage of Pathankot attack drew sharp condemnation today from opposition parties and media bodies which called it “shocking and authoritarian” and reminiscent of Emergency days. The leaders of the non-BJP parties and the media bodies also demanded immediate withdrawal of the order imposing the blackout on November 9.There was also a suggestion by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh that all newspapers and channels “show courage” and “go off air and not publish” on that day to register their protest.West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the order of the inter-ministerial panel of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry showed that an emergency-like situation prevailed in the country while Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi slammed it as “shocking and unprecedented”.The Editors Guild of India condemned the order as a “direct violation” of the freedom of the press and similar sentiments were echoed by the Broadcast Editors’ Association (BEA).NDTV while terming the order as “shocking” has alleged that it has been “singled out” and said it is examining all options in the matter. “The Editors Guild of India strongly condemns the unprecedented decision of the inter-ministerial committee of the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to take NDTV India off the air for a day and demands that the order be immediately rescinded,” the Guild said in a statement.”The decision to take the channel off the air for a day is a direct violation of the freedom of the media and therefore the citizens of India and amounts to harsh censorship imposed by the government reminiscent of the Emergency.” The BEA while expressing deep concern at the government’s decision said imposing a ban is a violation of freedom of expression.Alleging that the government action smacked of “authoritarianism and intimidation”, Rahul and other Congress leaders hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”Detaining opposition leaders, blacking out tv channels- all in a day’s work in Modiji’s India.”NDTVBanned-shocking and unprecedented (sic),” the Congress Vice President said on twitter. Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel, who is also political secretary to party president Sonia Gandhi, said, “Government’s decision to ban NDTV India smacks of authoritarianism and intimidation.” Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah lashed out at the Centre, asking if these were the promised “achhe din (good days)”.”NDTV ban is shocking. If Government had issues with Pathankot coverage, there are provisions available. But ban shows an Emergency-like attitude.,” Banerjee said in a statement in Kolkata. “I hope the whole media goes off air for a day in solidarity wid NDTV. Congratulations to Editors Guild for showing courage to stand up against Modi Govt’s dictatorship,” Kejriwal tweeted.
Two days ago, while speaking at the Ramnath Goenka Awards function, Prime Minister Narendra Modi argued that the Emergency should be repeatedly analysed and talked about, lest we forget.
“Every generation must keep reflecting on the Emergency period in an unbiased manner so that no future political leader can even wish to commit the same paap [sin],” Modi said.
The PM needn’t worry. Around the time he was talking about the Emergency, the government’s inter-ministerial committee on information and broadcasting was suggesting a decision the BJP may have derided as paap during the Emergency: A one-day ban on NDTV India for “broadcasting sensitive information” during the attack on the Pathankot air base.
The committee’s decision, obviously, violates the basic principle of natural justice. With its unilateral decision to punish the channel, the government is trying to unequivocally convey that when it comes to the media, it can act as the judge, jury and the executioner. The message is simple: If the government does not agree or approve, you better shut up and pay a price.
A few days ago, Indians were gloating over their democratic values and freedoms guaranteed to the media, while criticising the restrictions imposed on Pakistani journalist Cyril Almeida, who was put on the exit control list for breaking a story on the tiff between his country’s civil and military leadership.
With its harsh, punitive action against NDTV, the government has unfortunately reminded us of how we have started imbibing the undemocratic, tyrannical practices of the neighbour we so love to despise and ridicule.
As the Editors Guild of India has argued: “The decision to take the channel off the air for a day is a direct violation of the freedom of the media and therefore the citizens of India, and amounts to harsh censorship imposed by the government reminiscent of the Emergency. This first-of-its-kind order to impose a blackout has seen the Central government entrust itself with the power to intervene in the functioning of the media and take arbitrary punitive action as and when it does not agree with the coverage.”
The very premise of the ban — that the channel’s broadcast compromised national security — is bogus. On the night of 31 December, at least six terrorists crossed the border, held the Superintendent of Police Salwinder Singh at gun point and then sneaked into the high-security air base without any restrictions.
Their unrestricted movement in the high-security zone was a massive intelligence failure. That an important air base on the India-Pakistan border is so porous that anybody can merrily walk in and hide there for several hours without being noticed is a damning indictment of our security apparatus.
Even a year after the attack, we do not know how the terrorists crossed the border, walked into the airbase and launched an attack that lasted at least 48 hours. Since the security agencies failed to capture even one of the infiltrators alive, nobody knows who helped them enter a high-security defence installation. Nobody has been punished so far, nobody has been held accountable. No wonder, since the right lessons were not learnt from Pathankot, similar incidents happened in military camps in Jammu and Kashmir barely a few months later.
Ironically, while the big questions remain unanswered, the committee has already identified the fall guy: A TV channel reporting on the incident. Coincidentally, the only channel identified for punishment has always been perceived to be among the few independent voices in the country that is being increasingly dominated by media houses that kowtow to the government, crawl when asked to bend. And its anchors have always been high on the hit list of cheerleaders of the government and right-wing trolls.
How is a TV channel to be blamed for reporting a terror attack? Soon after the 26/11 terror strikes on Mumbai, Firstpost Editor-in-Chief BV Rao had debunked this TV-helped-terrorists theory. “It presumes that the terrorists left the crucial job of intelligence gathering at ground zero to India’s news channels! Which in turn presumes the terrorists were cocksure the Indian security establishment would goof up its most elementary job of securing the war zone and keeping the media at bay,” he argued.
Similar questions can be raised about the Pathankot attack. Did the terrorists leave their base in Pakistan relying on the Indian media for inputs? Were they relying on the happenstance of a TV reporter informing them on the exact number of planes and nature and amount of ammo at the base? If that be the case, did they bring GPS sets, maps and other communication devices to play Pokemon during the 48-hour encounter?
As Rao had argued then, by accusing the media of helping the terrorists, the government manages to deftly deflect the debate from uncomfortable questions about the quality of our response. By pinning the media down with absurd charges of complicity with the enemy, it ensures the media was on the defensive and did not raise any questions about the efficiency of the 60-hour operation.
I see some gaps, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had admitted after the lapses that allowed terrorists a walk in the Pathankot base. News reports had pointed at a lot of confusion within the government ranks over the response to the attack and its handling by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.
Writing on the incident, defence expert Ajai Shukla had argued that India was lucky to get away with limited losses in spite of inept handling of the attack. He pointed out that the security agencies were warned 24 hours in advance about the attack and yet, “when the NSA met the army chief on Friday, he asked for only two columns of soldiers (some 50 troops). Intent on directly controlling what he anticipated would be a walk in the park, and without anticipating that there might be more than one group of terrorists, Mr Doval led with his trump card — he ordered 150-160 National Security Guard (NSG) troopers to be flown down immediately from New Delhi. The army was placed on the sidelines”.
Even a year after the attack, we do not know how the terrorists crossed the border, walked into the airbase and launched an attack that lasted at least 48 hours
Clearly, diverting the blame to a TV channel helps everyone in the government. It takes the debate in a different direction, taking the attention away from the real flaws and problems, finds a convenient scapegoat, and gives its cheerleaders an opportunity to applaud punitive action against a TV channel and anchors they want tamed.
The only problem with the decision is this: By embracing the Emergency’s code of punishment, how will the BJP help us forget the paap committed by Indira Gandhi?
PS: A few weeks ago, NDTV decided to drop former home minister P Chidambaram’s interview after running its promos the entire day. The government’s decision to ban it for a day would perhaps remind it of the essence of Martin Niemoller’s immortal words: When they came for Chidambaram, I didn’t speak up. One day when they came for me, I cried but everyone said my complaint was just ‘drivel’.
An Inter-ministerial committee of the Information and Broadcasting ministry had recommended on Thursday that a leading Hindi news channel be taken off air for a day after it concluded that the broadcaster had revealed “strategically-sensitive” details while covering the Pathankot terrorist attack.
The ministry has asked the channel NDTV India to be taken off air for a day on 9 November. The Committee felt that such srucial information, which was revealed by the channel, could have been picked up by terrorist handlers.
The committee, in its order, observed that the channel “appeared to give out the exact location of the remaining terrorists with regard to the sensitive assets in their vicinity” when they telecast in real time.
The channel, while confirming the receipt of the order, said that its “coverage was particularly balanced”.
The Editors Guild of India condemned the government’s move and said that the I&B Ministry’s decision is “a direct violation of the freedom of the media and therefore the citizens of India and amounts to harsh censorship imposed by the government reminiscent of the Emergency.”
Now, even the Mumbai Press Club has condemned the ban and demanded that the ban be withdrawn.
Here is the full statement by the Mumbai Press Club:
The Mumbai Press club which represents over 2,500 journalists, strongly and unequivocally condemns the ban by the Union Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (I&B) on the Hindi news channel NDTV India for purportedly airing “sensitive information” in respect of the Pathankot attack by terror groups near the border. The Club also demands that the ban, imposed for one day on 9 November, should be withdrawn forthwith.
NDTV India in its response to a show cause by the government has said that channel did not report anything which other channels and newspapers had not covered simultaneously. It is therefore mischievous to singles out a particular channel for such penal action.
Though there are various legal options available for the government in the Indian Court of Law for any irresponsible media coverage, the I&B ministry action of banning against a specific TV channel that has been critical of the government, and has done serious ground reporting on the views of the common man, does not augur well for freedom of expression of the country.
The I&B ministry’s order imposing the ban is vague and also does not disclose what specific clips or information can be termed ‘sensitive’ and ‘useful to the enemy’.
Any penal actions like the ban of NDTV India that infringes on media operating and reporting freely will be stoutly resisted by media persons everywhere.
Mumbai Press Club
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said credibility is the biggest challenge for media in the age of technology and it is important for media establishments to maintain it.Speaking after giving away the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards organised by The Indian Express, he said earlier people with certain training and qualification came to journalism but today anybody with a mobile phone can click a picture and upload it. “People now have a lot of news. In this context, maintaining credibility is a big issue and the biggest demand of time,” he said.In a lighter vein, the Prime Minister said while media had full freedom to comment on everything and everybody, it does not like others’ views on it. Tongue-in-cheek, he said he must be the only privileged politician after Independence to have got so much of media attention and he is eternally grateful to it. Setting two important matters before the media, Modi said he does not have any issue with the government being criticised by the media but there should be no mistake in reporting. National unity, he added, should be the priority as India is a diverse country.”Any compromise is a news for you and you move on to the next news but such a compromise leaves behind deep wounds. We (politicians) may be making more mistakes than you but please strengthen forces of national unity. He also pitched for a world-class Indian media organisation to propagate the country’s view strongly across the globe and cited current debate on environment and global warming. He said such an organisation should not belong to the government. He said all big countries are working for having a strong media voice at the global level and for India it is an opportunity as well as a challenge.Awards were given to journalists in print, TV and digital media in various disciplines. Viveck Goenka, Chairman and Managing Director of the Express Group in his welcome address said that apart from these awards, the group would also be giving a new award to district-level officers for making a positive impact on governance. On the occasion, Modi hailed Ramnath Goenka’s role during the Emergency which, he added, is an important lesson for people to understand the dangers democracy faces.He also said reflection on the Emergency period should take place frequently across generations so that “no politician is born who feels like committing such a sin.” “In India the period of Emergency is important. When we talk of Emergency, some people feel bad. It is viewed politically. That period of politics (politicising the issue) is over.” The Prime Minister said the era of Emergency is also useful to keep his ‘biradari’ (the political class) vigilant.During the Emergency, very few people emerged who challenged the system. “(Late) Ramnath Goenka and the Indian Express chose to do that, fearlessly,” he said.In his vote of thanks, The Indian Express Chief Editor Raj Kamal Jha agreed with the Prime Minister that credibility is an issue that the media should introspect upon. The government cannot be blamed for it, he said. The media will have to look within, he added. However, he said criticism from the government is a badge of honour for journalists. To those who say that good journalism is dying, he said it is only getting better but bad journalism is getting noisier.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> In a scathing attack on Congress, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday termed the 1984 anti-Sikh riots as one of the “biggest examples of destruction” the country witnessed during the party’s rule.”I sometimes say when history will be written, 1984 will be known, ‘vinash ka saal’ (year of destruction)… When Congress was in power, the kind the destruction we witnessed, 1984 was one of the biggest examples of that,” he alleged at a function here to mark the Punjabi Suba Golden Jubilee. “Terrorism spread in Punjab because of the mistakes of Congress. Punjab and Punjabis faced the maximum consequences during that time,” Jaitely alleged.”Dismissing governments, terrorism, putting democracy in danger, not allowing other governments to finish their terms, putting people behind bars and putting the 1984 blot on the country, were part of its regime,” he claimed.He lauded Punjab and its people for successfully fighting several kinds of difficulties. “When the country faced the danger of poverty, Punjab was ahead in making contributions toward the Green Revolution.Punjab then faced the (Indo-Pak) 1971 war bravely. There was no such problem that Punjab did not face,” Jaitley said.During the Emergency, when “democracy was in danger”, the biggest ‘Satyagraha’ was done by SAD and Jan Sangh, he claimed. The Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government has given heritage status to Jallianwala Bagh and Amritsar. The city was also selected under the Smart City Mission, the Union Minister said. Congress and its domination is getting weaker, he claimed, adding there is a new confidence in India under the leadership of Modi.”India is now the fastest growing economy. Today no one can play mischief with us. The whole world knows that we have different kind of government,” Jaitley claimed. “If an enemy makes any attempt at the border or if anyone conspires against India, it will get the same reply as it has been getting for the last two-months,” he said. He lauded the Badals for standing like a “rock” when Punjab faced turbulent times during the Emergency, the anti-Sikh riots and terrorism. “All his life, he (Parkash Singh Badal) has kept the BJP and Akali Dal united. The alliance is not just a political one but meant to bring the whole society together,” he said. “The problems which we faced in the last 30-32 years have turned into a black chapter of history. Today the programmes are changing,” Jaitley said.Appreciating the work of the ruling SAD-BJP alliance in Punjab, he said the “map” of the state’s cities and villages are changing because of the state government’s efforts toward welfare and development. “The map of Punjab’s cities, mandis and villages is changing. A new chapter is being written,” he said.”Today, we complete 50 years (of Punjabi Suba). The Centre extends full support to the state. If the next government is of SAD-BJP, the Centre will double its support,” Jaitley said. He said this was a joyous occasion for every Punjabi across the globe as the state is commemorating its golden jubilee, since it was formed on November 1, 1966.”We have formed government two to three times without serving the full tenure as the Centre had dismissed the government. It has happened many times with Punjab,” he said, adding there were not too many occasions when BJP and Akalis were both at the Centre and state.”There were few instances when alliance partners were in power both at state and centre. Because of such relationships Punjab witnessed unparalleled development,” he said, adding the alliance’s rule was far better than that of the Congress regimes. During Emergency the alliance opposed it tooth to nail. The current era would be best remembered as the “years of reconstruction”, the Union minister claimed.”The slur of the 1984 Sikh carnage, frequent dismissal of democratically elected governments, menace of terrorism and several misdeeds of Congress spoke volumes of its dubious character,” he said, adding concerted efforts on part of Badal has resulted in reviving Punjab’s pristine glory. “Punjab has witnessed complete transformation with Badal as Chief Minister and it would be at the pinnacle of all-round progress and lead the country to prosperity if our alliance is voted back to power,” he reiterated.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It was a free for all at the Samajwadi Party meeting in Lucknow on Tuesday as party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, his son and UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, and Akhilesh’s uncle Shivpal Yadav tried to humiliate and intimidate each other.Sources say that Mulayam will make one more patch up bid, but going by Monday’s happenings, that looks increasingly unlikely. After washing dirty linen in public, it will be hard for all of them to get past it.The bone of contention was Amar Singh, Rajya Sabha member and Party General Secretary. While Mulayam publicly took his brother Shivpal Yadav and Singh’s side, Akhilesh cursed at and accused the absent Singh in front of his father and uncle.The workers’ meet had been called by Mulayam inside the party office and the present media was not permitted to shoot videos. After preliminary speeches, Akhilesh Yadav was given the chance to speak first from the Yadav clan.Akhilesh assured workers that he did not inten1d to split the party, but accused Singh of vendetta against him. “I only sacked those who are close to Amar Singh and they will not be tolerated in this government. And yes, I didn’t consult anyone,” he said. This left Shivpal and Mulayam visibly embarrassed. Akhilesh didn’t stop there, saying that he too needed to take care of his career.”It is a lie that Ram Gopal Yadav asked me to sack Shivpal,” said the Chief Minister. Though he kept praising his father in his speech, the bitterness was there for all to see.Shivpal, who didn’t waste time on niceties, didn’t even bother to acknowledge the Chief Minister. When the crowd booed, he said, “I know who is sitting on the stage.”Mincing no words, Shivpal then proceeded to confront Akhilesh. “I joined politics the year you were born. I did cycle yatras even before you thought of cycle as an idea for the election symbol” he said.Getting even more personal, Shivpal went on to accuse Akhilesh of lying to his father. “I swear in the name of my son that Akhilesh himself told me that he would split the party,” he said.Making an emotional pitch, Shivpal then told workers that he has worked harder than anyone for the good of the party. He said, “I would meet Akhilesh even when he wasn’t interested in seeing me.” Then turning towards his brother Mulayam, he said. “Enough is enough and this indiscipline has to be curbed. Allow me to expel people from the party,” said Shivpal.The situation then took a turn for the worse as supporters of Akhilesh tried to boo him down. But Shivpal was not to be put out. “I can also get a crowd. We also know how to organise these things. So don’t try these tricks on me,” he told the crowd.It seemed the situation could not get any worse for the Samajwadi party, but Shivpal’s last comment stunned everyone. “Aap log Amar Singh ke paanv ke dhool ke barabar bhi nahi ho. (You are not even equal to the dust on Amar Singh’s feet),” he told the crowd.In the end, Shivpal requested Mulayam to take charge of the party.Finally, it came to the moment that everyone had been waiting—their ‘Netaji’, as Mulayam Singh Yadav is called, to speak. Mulayam began by accusing his son Akhilesh of “neglecting Muslims” and said he would be “thrown out of the party” if he didn’t behave.He said Shivpal had been there for him during the days of his struggle during the Emergency, something he would never forget. He also handed over a piece of advice to Akhilesh: “Those who cannot listen to criticism cannot become leaders.”What surprised everyone was the manner in which Mulayam defended Singh. He said that Singh had come to his and his family’s rescue in a case which could have landed all of them in trouble.”Both Shivpal and I will not leave Amar Singh because he came to our rescue when no one else did. We need to at least acknowledge our gratitude,” he said.Apart from the Singh issue, Mulayam continued to give son Akhilesh an earful in his address. He chided him and asked him to stop speaking nonsense when addressing workers.The SP supremo then tried to restore peace and asked his brother and son to hug and make up. A half-hearted hug ensued and it looked like normalcy would be restored. But all this failed when an agitated Akhilesh again mentioned Singh with reference to a recent article in which they had been depicted as Mughal rulers.The situation by then had become so tense that NSG guards had to intervene to keep father and son away from each other. It was in this melee that the meeting ended.Post this unprecedented public spat, SP workers and the top leadership will find there is much to introspect and mull over the party’s future. Right now though, that future looks very bleak indeed.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday rued the media’s tendency to set the agenda and said it selectively picks parts of people’s comments to suit its narrative.On the occasion of the release of his book, ‘Andhere se Ujale ki Aur’ (From darkness to light), the Finance Minister came in for lavish praise with BJP chief Amit Shah hailing him as one of the few post-Independence leaders who worked to restore value-based polity. In his address on the occasion of release of the book, an anthology of his write-ups, blogs and speeches translated in Hindi, Jaitley said he has been in the thick of political events since the days of Emergency and has been writing for decades on relevant issues.”One reason for writing more is that the character of media also changed with time. It became more interested in setting the agenda than what you are saying. It will highlight those parts of a statement that is relevant to issues picked up by it,” he said. While releasing the book, Shah said Jaitley in his write-ups expressed the voice of rural India despite coming from an affluent background and having grown up in Lutyens’ Delhi, and has also criticised the media despite being considered “a media’s darling”.Praising his work as the Finance Minister, he credited him with piloting two “achievements” of the Narendra Modi government–the GST bill and the Income Declaration Scheme. “When values in public life fell after Independence, then some leaders consistently fought to restore them. If a list of such leaders, irrespective of party affiliations, is made, Jaitley’s name will figure among them,” the BJP chief said, praising him for his transparent and value-based politics.He was also among those party leaders who started the practice of putting in place a sound election management system, from strategising to picking relevant issues, Shah said. Referring to BJP’s multi-pronged campaign for 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Jaitley said he wrote on the party’s request regularly from July-August 2013 to May 2014 when the last round of polls took place and results were announced.His aim has been to express the party’s viewpoint seriously and added that he has never used a word or sentence may have caused it trouble. He also rued the lack of humour and satire in public life, saying there used up be a lot of space for this earlier and referred to the likes of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and politicians Piloo Mody and Madhu Dandavate.Rajya Sabha member Swapan Dasgupta said Jaitley combined humour with erudition and is heard in silence when he speaks in the Rajya Sabha, which otherwise sees uproar when BJP members speak.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bhubaneshwar hospital fire has once again exposed how scant regard was paid to rules and regulations, which led to the death of 22 people.Back in 2011, when the fire at Kolkata’s AMRI hospital claimed over 90 lives, there was a lot of concern raised. While the West Bengal Chief Minister ordered a judicial probe into the case, a commission was set up, headed by retired Justice of Calcutta High Court Tapan Mukherjee. The commission’s investigation revealed that the centrally air-conditioned building did not have a vertical firestop which could have prevented smoke from the basement from reaching the upper floors.AMRI’s basement had inflammable articles, along with a radiology unit and oxygen cylinders, where the fire broke out due to a short circuit. Later, the smoke from the basement travelled to the top floors through the AC-duct, which resulted in the death of most patients due to suffocation. The floors did not have sufficient fire-fighting equipment, the commission’s investigation revealed.The commission later came up with certain recommendations that all existing and new hospitals across West Bengal had to comply with to get a clearance from the Fire and Emergency Services Department and Health Department. These mentioned that each hospital should have a trained fire fighting team to be presided by a retired official of the Fire and Emergency Services Department. The team would also have to conduct mock drills from time to time.Another recommendation mentioned that each hospital should have a dedicated Emergency Evacuation Chute, which can be used in case of any emergency. The chute would inflate and allow patients to roll down from the roof.This apart, the AC-ducts were recommended to have a mechanism where the air-circulation would stop once it detected black smoke, preventing it from entering other floors. Besides this, hospitals were also asked not to store anything in their basement floor or convert it into a godown.However, it looks like no lessons were learnt from the Kolkata hospital fire, leading to a repeat of the tragedy in Bhubaneshwar.The fire on Monday evening rapidly spread to other areas on the same floor of the four-storey SUM Hospital-cum-medical college. Most of the victims were in the first floor ICU of the hospital. Doctors said that most of the deaths took place due to suffocation. The police and fire brigade personnel along with volunteers and hospital staff had to launch a massive rescue operation as more than 500 indoor patients were trapped in the building.The blaze is suspected to have been triggered by an electric short circuit in the dialysis ward on the first floor of the hospital. Meanwhile, three contract-based electricians working for the hospital have been suspended. The three employees were on the shift the night of the tragedy and were responsible for handling the power supply. The Odisha Government has also formed a three member committee under a Revenue Divisional Commissioner (RDC) to probe the matter.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>One person was killed and at least four others are feared trapped under the rubble after a five-storey under construction building collapsed on Wednesday near Bellandur in Bengaluru, officials said. One body has been recovered so far, officials said, as the rescue operations carried out by the State Disaster Response Force are underway.”Four persons escaped, four are suspected trapped. One of them was rescued alive,” Director General of Police, Fire and Emergency Services, M N Reddi said in a tweet.ANI Twitter HandleANI Twitter HandleBengaluru Mayor G Padmavati visited the spot and said quality issues in the construction was the main reason for the mishap. Stating that one entire floor was constructed in an unauthorised manner, she said “strict and merciless action will be taken against the owner, architect and Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike officials involved”.
Congress on Monday took a veiled dig at Subramanian Swamy describing the controversial BJP MP as “nuclear fissile material” brought in Parliament by the ruling party which was bound to “implode” it.”They have brought nuclear fissile material in Parliament and has kept it there. It will implode them. (Finance Minister Arun) Jaitley is feeling being imploded”, party spokesman Kapil Sibal told reporters without taking the name of Swamy.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Apparently referring to Swamy’s attacks on Jaitley, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan and Finance Ministry officials, he said that such a thing had never happened during the UPA rule.”What is the use of the Prime Minister now disapproving Swamy’s attacks when RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan has already said no to a second term”, he said replying to a question on Prime Minister’s response to the issue in an interview. He also suggested that the Prime Minister, who has completed two years in office, should address a press conference, instead of giving an interview to a news channel.”Modiji, have a press conference. Let our journalists ask you questions. This is better than an interview with one person”, he remarked.He also attacked the Prime Minister and the BJP for targeting Congress over the Emergency imposed 41 years back when Indira Gandhi was at the helm. “How do you have an anniversary on Emergency & how do you do a ‘Mann ki Baat’ on Emergency”, he wondered.Alleging that there was a “silent emergency” in place since the Modi government took over, he claimed that even BJP veteran L K Advani had spoken of the danger.Advani, he recalled, had remarked sometime back that “at the present point of time the forces that can crush democracy, notwithstanding the provisions of the Constitution and legal safeguards, are stronger.”Insisting that the issue of Emergency was being raised by the ruling party for “petty politics”, he said the Emergency of 1975 can never happen today because of amendments in the Constitution.Taking a dig at the government, he reminded it that there are “many emergencies in India to be dealt with like farmers emergency, drought emergency & unemployment emergencies. Deal with them.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley attacked the Congress over clamping of Emergency on its 41st anniversary on Sunday, calling it a “dark night” for the country and a “blot” on the party.Recalling the Emergency period when Indira Gandhi was the prime minister, Jaitley asserted its impact was to “inflict a dictatorship” on the country while Modi said the “shining example” of “democratic” powers of a common citizen” seen during that period should keep reminding the nation again and again. Modi spoke about the Emergency when he addressed the nation on his monthly radio programme ‘Mann Ki Baat’. “Sometimes some people mock at my ‘Mann Ki Baat’ programme and even criticise it. This is possible because we are committed to democracy,” he said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”.. today when I am talking to you on June 26, we should not forget that our strength is democracy, our strength is people’s strength and our strength is every citizen. We have to take this commitment further and strengthen it,” he added. He said that the democracy, which empowers every citizen, had been suppressed on this day in 1975. “The morning of June 26, 1975, was such a black night when Emergency was imposed on the country. All rights of the citizens were taken away. The country was turned into a prison. Along with Jayaprakash Narayan, lakhs of people and thousands of politicians were sent to jails,” he recalled.The Prime Minister said it is the strength of the countrymen that they have lived this democracy. “When the newspaper offices are sealed and radio speaks only voice, people on the other hand make you realise the power of democratic forces. This is a big strength for any nation,” he said in apparent reference to the Emergency days. He said there should be an attitude that people continue to realise their strengths. Jaitley targeted the Congress over Emergency and operation Blue Star at the Golden Temple among other issues and threw a challenge at the present Congress leadership, asking if it had any views and internal debate on them.”If one looks back at the history of the Congress Party after independence, the blots on it are economic reforms being delayed by over two decades, transformation of India in to a dynastic democracy, the imposition of Emergency in 1975, Operation Blue Star and corruption,” the minister said in his Facebook post – ‘Constitutional dictatorship imposed by Mrs Indira Gandhi forty-one years ago’. “The impact of the Emergency was to inflict a dictatorship on the country,” said Jaitley, who was imprisoned during the Emergency period.On June 26, 1975, Indira Gandhi imposed an internal emergency in the country, he said, adding “the phoney reason she gave was that there was a breakdown of public order in as much as Jayaprakash Narayan had asked the police and the army not to follow illegal orders.” The actual reason, however, was that her continuation as the Prime Minister was threatened since the Allahabad High Court had unseated her as Member of Parliament for adopting corrupt practises during her election, he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday talked about the “dark days” of the Emergency declared in 1975 when he addressed the nation through his radio programme Mann Ki Baat.
“Sometimes, people make fun of Mann Ki Baat. But this is possible only because of democracy,” said Modi.
“26 June, 1975 was a dark day for democracy in India. The country was turned into a jailkhana,” the Prime Minister said. “The rights of citizens were taken away. Many political leaders like Jayaprakash Narayan were put behind bars,” he said.
“We must not forget that our power is democracy. Our power lies in every citizen’s strength,” Modi said. “We should keep reminding the people about their power in a democracy. We should unite the people,” he added.
“There was a day when the voice of people was trampled over but now, that voice is given encouragement and people of India express their views on how the government is performing,” the PM said.
“There was a time when the taxes used to be so overwhelming that tax evasion had become a natural behaviour,” he said.
This brought PM Modi to the topic of tax evasion. “We lose our peace by violating rules. Why not give correct information about income and assets to the government?” he said.
He then said that people with undisclosed incomes and assets had “an opportunity to declare their assets before 30 September.”
“There are only 1.5 lakh people in the country whose taxable income is over Rs 50 lakh…Get free of your earlier dues once and for all by giving correct information about your income and property to the government,” Modi said.
He also gave an example of a retired government employee called Chandrakant Kulkarni who donated almost a third of his pension for Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. “Chandrakant, who gets Rs 16,000 as pension, wrote to me and pledged to donate Rs 5,000 every month for Swachhta Abhiyan,” he said.
“Today, it is not difficult to connect tax payers with the government. Yet old habits die hard,” he said. “Those who do not disclose undisclosed income by September 30 will face difficulties,” he added.
Isro and Indian scientists
PM Modi also congratulated Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) scientists for launching 20 satellites in one go. “It is a matter of great pride that Isro scientists launched 20 satellites in one go…Isro has got a special place in the world. That is why the world is looking towards India when it comes to space research,” he said.
Saying that the scientists had predicted a good amount of rainfall for India this year, Modi added, “Our scientists are constantly contributing to the nation. I wish more of our youth become scientists.”
“Yesterday, I was in Pune where I met students who made one of the satellites that was launched along with others. This satellite signifies the skills and aspirations of the youth of India,” he said.
First batch of women fighter pilots
Modi also praised the first batch of India’s women fighter pilots. “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao has touched so many lives. The results of the various examinations show how women are excelling,” he said. “The three women fighter pilots — Avani Chaturvedi, Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh — have made us all very proud,” he added.
The Prime Minister also talked about yoga and International Yoga Day. “When the world connects with us through yoga, it feels that the world is connecting with our past, present and future,” he said. “Twitter used the yoga emoji for this year’s International Yoga Day. Yoga has the power to unite the world,” he added. He also talked about how the image of a yoga posture projected onto the United Nations headquarters filled him with pride.
Modi then called for a programme to battle diabetes with yoga. “Can’t we run a successful abhiyan to fight diabetes with yoga?” he said. “Please use #YogaFightsDiabetes to share your own experiences about yoga against diabetes,” he said.
What you gonna do when they come for you
Give Arvind Kejriwal more ammo to shoot at you
To have the police pick up AAP lawmaker Dinesh Mohaniya while he was addressing a media conference is taking the fight to the gutter.
Lt Governor Jung who is the second favourite target of Arvind Kejriwal couldn’t have done a more sterling job feeding the Delhi Chief Minister’s neurosis by sending in the police during the middle of a conference.
Even though Modi is not linked even tenuously to these incidents, for Kejriwal, it is all orchestrated by him.
The Lieutenant Governor owes an explanation.
Kejriwal is now one of the two shotgun barrels in India that are hot with constant indignation (the other is our friend Subramanian Swamy). For him, Mohaniya’s arrest couldn’t have been better scripted.
One has to ask why a man like Jung would give Kejriwal such a splendid opportunity. Even if the LG had received orders to go for it, did it really have to be like this? Dredge for virtue and you find none, except that it gives Kejriwal so much more fun. Talk about playing into his hands.
Would it really have mattered if Mohaniya had been arrested after the media had taken off? Did it have to turn into a spectacle more fitting for a B-grade movie?
What did Kejriwal do? The moment he heard about it, he accused Modi of declaring an Emergency, and he got listeners. He roped in the citizens of Delhi and told them that Modi is now arresting, raiding and filing false cases against individuals that the good people of the capital elected.
At this moment, blaming Modi is difficult because one cannot establish a nexus. The buck, for now, stops with the Lt Governor, and I think he owes the media an explanation for the intrusion.
If he is guilty, throw the book at him. But till then, it seems particularly stupid to send the cops in to arrest a man in the middle of a media conference.
The arrest reflects a bullying approach that is almost Nazi like in its persecution. The action was aggressive and petty, and gave the Modi government’s enemy number one Arvind Kejriwal a loaded gun.
Didn’t anybody think it through and say, “Hey, don’t make it so dramatic; just take him in when he comes out. Let’s not give Kejriwal so much ammo.” That lack of intelligence is appalling.
It is not as if the guy was armed or was holding people hostage. Such a dramatic arrest seemed like a bad move.
In a first of its kind in the country, Maharashtra will now be equipped with mobile cyber forensic vehicles that will gather cyber-related evidence from the spot in cases of cyber crimes. The first batch of these vans is expected to be available by the end of this year. To begin with, the vans — which are part of the government’s Rs 800-crore cyber security project for the state — will be used for smaller towns or rural belts that do not have well-equipped cyber labs.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Each vehicle, expected to cost between Rs 20-50 lakh, will be equipped with equipment meant for data acquisition and analysis. “It will be as good as a physical cyber forensic lab. In most cases of cyber crimes, by the time computers are examined, it is often too late to follow many of the leads that are produced. These vans are expected to resolve the issue of unnecessary delays,” said a senior government officer.Also, in most cases, computer forensic examiners do not understand the investigations adequately enough, causing them to overlook relevant information and expend resources needlessly. The new vans will have policemen trained as computer forensic examiners for more efficient collection of data.Sources claim that as of now, a police men who is usually not a trained computer examiner seizes computers, digital media and electronic devices encountered during a search. Customarily, examinations are conducted later, in cyber labs, after the material is packaged and transported there. There are many anecdotes of investigators being forced to wait for years to see examination results. Plus, an examination sometimes produces more questions than answers for those conducting the investigation.This, however, is not the first attempt to improve cyber investigation in the state. Sources claimed a single van was acquired last year for the Gadchiroli region as a pilot project, but that failed to meet expectations due to its poor quality.”It was a makeshift arrangement, wherein the van and the equipment were bought separately and then fixed locally here to make the end product a low-cost one. However, this time, we are looking forward to buying highly-advanced vans designed only to be used as cyber vans,” the officer added.The cyber crime project is one of the most ambitious projects that the BJP-led government launched in 2015. The proposed project is expected to comprise three parts — cyber labs, a Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) and a training centre. Once the plan is ready, the department aims to train at least 1,000 police personnel to crack cyber crime cases. The project is being studied by consultant company PwC.
By demanding 89 cuts in Anurag Kashyap’s film ‘Udta Punjab’, Pahlaj Nihalani, the chief of the Central Board of Film Certification of India (CBFC) may have bent over backwards – yet again – to appease the government. But this is not the first time that the CBFC, also referred to as Censor Board has made outrageous demands to gag creativity.
The present generation might not be aware of a Hindi film that was made four decades ago—Kissa Kursi Ka—directed by Amrit Nahata, who was also a three-time MP. In the last 40 years, the incidences related to this film might have gone out of public memory, but it remains the most classic, textbook case of the government of the day blatantly coercing a filmmaker.
Kissa Kursi Ka (A tale of a throne), a spoof on the politics of Indira Gandhi and her younger son Sanjay, was not just banned during the Emergency in 1975, but its negatives were confiscated and destroyed at an auto plant in Gurgaon (which later became Maruti Udyog).
This political satire not only spoofed Sanjay Gandhi but people close to Indira Gandhi’s coterie—like her private secretary RK Dhawan, her guru Dhirendra Brahmachari and Rukhsana Sultana, a close associate of Sanjay Gandhi. After Nahata submitted the film to the Censor Board for certification in 1975, it was sent to a revising committee and finally to the Central government. The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting headed by minister Vidya Charan Shukla (popularly called VC) slapped a show-cause notice to Nahata raising 51 objections. As Emergency had been declared, all the prints including the film’s master print were confiscated from the CBFC office and burnt at the auto factory in the presence of Sanjay Gandhi and VC.
The rest is history, as a legal case ran for 11 months. The Shah Commission, established by the Janata government to inquire into excesses committed during the Emergency, held Sanjay Gandhi guilty for burning the prints. Both Sanjay Gandhi and VC were sentenced to a month and two-year jail term imprisonment respectively. Sanjay Gandhi was denied bail. The verdict was later overturned. During the Janata Party government, the public finally got to see the film in 1977.
There are numerous instances of the Censor Board playing the role of ‘’His Master’s Voice.” Besides Kissa Kursi Ka, more than two dozen of Hindi films faced the Censor Board’s axe for various reasons from political pressures to high octane sexual content.
But two prominent and award-winning acclaimed films which were gagged, though for a limited period by the board, for political undertones were Garam Hawa and Aandhi.
Garam Hawa (1973): Directed by MS Sathyu with Balraj Sahni in the lead role, Garam Hawa was held back by the CBFC for eight months as they feared that the movie could instigate communal riots in the country. The movie showed the agony of a Muslim family during the partition of India. However, the film was highly acclaimed, achieved success and won prestigious awards.
Aandhi (1975): Directed by Gulzar and based on the novel by Kamleshwar, Aandhi was a political movie allegedly based on the life of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and her relationship with her estranged husband. It was banned when Indira Gandhi was in power. The film showed the main lead Aarti Devi portrayed by Suchitra Sen smoking and drinking. But, in reality only the look of Aarti Devi was inspired by the politician Tarkeshwari Sinha and Indira Gandhi. The movie was banned after 20 weeks of its release as Emergency was declared. Later, during the Janata Pary-rule, it was again released and aired on Doordarshan.
The other lesser known yet appreciated ones were:
Amu (2005): Directed by Shonali Bose, with Konkona Sen Sharma and Brinda Karat in lead roles, this movie revolves around the 1984 riots where thousands of Sikhs were massacred. The movie faced the wrath of the Censor Board and it was cleared only after making six “politically motivated” cuts and with an “A” certificate.
Parzania (2007): Directed by Rahul Dholakia and David N Donihue, the movie has the backdrop of communal riots in Gujarat. Though the film had an all-India release, it was banned in Gujarat. It was only after an initiative by civil rights group ANHAD that it was shown in some parts of Gujarat.
Inshallah, Football (2010): A documentary film by Ashvin Kumar was about an aspiring footballer who was denied the right to travel abroad on the pretext that father was a militant in the 1990s. The film faced difficulties in getting the necessary censor certificate due to its highly sensitive and political content related to Jammu & Kashmir.
Meanwhile, the Bombay High Court on Thursday has pulled up the CBFC over the controversy surrounding ‘Údta Punjab’. The Punjab Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh has declared that it would release the uncensored copies of the film at Majitha in Punjab on 17 June.
Will Censor Board take lessons from past?
Despite succumbing under government pressure, the then Censor Board could not prevent Kissa Kursi Ka from becoming a powerful tool for the Janata Party in destroying the Indira Gandhi-led Congress in the 1977 Lok Sabha polls. The film created a strong controversy and built a negative perception amongst the minds of voters against Indira Gandhi-led government.
Will CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani take some lessons from the act of his predecessor’s mistake?
New Delhi: As Modi government completes two years in office on 26 May, it has planned a month long campaign where ministers and MPs will highlight “achievements” and also apprise people of measures that were stalled due to “obstruction” by Congress-led opposition in Parliament.
At a meeting of BJP Parliamentary Party on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi raked up the issue of imposition of Emergency in 1975 and told party MPs that younger generation should be apprised on its anniversary on 26 June on how an attempt was made “to crush democracy and who were the people behind it”.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Pratap Rudy told reporters that in the meeting Modi spoke about the two years of NDA government and said that all ministers will travel to 200 main “nerve centres” across the country and inform people about their achievements.
“The Minister and MPs will also apprise the people about the laws and welfare measures which were not allowed to be passed in Parliament because of obstruction of some people and the damage that happened because of this. People will be told about who are the people who have caused this obstruction,” Rudy said.
The Modi government has been accusing the Congress of obstructing several of its reform measures.
Rudy said that MPs of the party will spend at least one night in their constituencies while they would hold interactions with people in adjoining constituencies and other areas.
The minister also said the Prime Minister spoke about how an attempt was made to “crush democracy” during Emergency and emphasised that the younger generation needs to be apprised of this.
In the meeting, the newly nominated members to the Rajya Sabha including Subramanian Swamy, Navjot Sidhu were also introduced, Rudy said.
Former president of Bharatiya Jan Sangh (BJS) and veteran RSS leader Balraj Madhok died in New Delhi on Monday. Madhok (96) was unwell for some time and had been admitted to AIIMS for a month, where he died around 9 AM. The last rites will be conducted in the evening. A two-time Parliamentarian, Madhok represented the NCT of Delhi and South Delhi in the 2nd and 4th Lok Sabha in 1961 and 1967 respectively.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Born on February 25, 1920, in Jammu and Kashmir’s Skardu area, he was the founder Secretary of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). In 1951, he was the convener of the first convention of Bharatiya Jana Sangh and was appointed the national Secretary. In 1966, he was elected as National President of Bharatiya Jana Sangh.A teacher, he was head of the Department of History in PGDAV College, New Delhi and edited “Organiser” in 1947-48 and Hindi Weekly “Veer Arjun” in 1948. He was also Founder Secretary, Jammu and Kashmir Praja Parishad. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has condoled the demise of Madhok and said his ideological commitment was strong, had immense clarity of thought and was selflessly devoted to the nation and society.”Heartfelt condolences on the sad demise of a stalwart leader of Jan Sangh Shri Balraj Madhok. Balraj Madhok ji’s ideological commitment was strong & clarity of thought immense. He was selflessly devoted to the nation & society.”Had the good fortune of interacting with Balraj Madhok ji on many occasions. His demise is saddening. Condolences to his family. RIP,” Modi said in a series of tweets. His close associate L K Advani also described him as one who was fully committed to its ideology and principles. “I am deeply grieved to learn about the passing away of Balraj Madhok. I mourn Balraj Madhok’s passing away and offer my heartfelt condolences to his two daughters. May the departed soul rest in peace,” he said in his condolence message.Advani said Madhok led the party in the general elections of 1967, when the party won 35 seats in Lok Sabha. “He was fully committed to its ideology and principles. During the Emergency he was detained under MISA for 18 months,” he said. Union Minister of Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan tweeted, “Balraj Madhok left for heavenly abode today – India loses a great intellectual, thinker and a social reformer. May his soul rest in peace.”
Several new political parties may be formed in India as the proposed amendment in the Finance Bill 2016 will allow them to receive funding from “foreign source”. Some of the new parties are likely to be called ‘Green & Peace Party’, ‘Sabrang Party’, ‘Participatory Party’, ‘Human Rights Party’, ‘Collectives Party’, ‘Nationalist Party’ and ‘Azaadi Party’ etc.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The gold rush to form political parties will be triggered by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s proposal in his budget speech last month to amend section 2 of the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA) 2010 retrospectively.The real reason for this proposal seems to be to overcome the Delhi High Court’s judgment in March 2014 which found violation of FCRA 2010 provisions by the Congress and the BJP when they received donations from Vedanta group of companies. In the FCRA 2010, any Indian company/agency which has more than 50% foreign ownership has been designated as a “foreign source”. The proposed revision will link ownership criterion to FDI caps approved from time to time. So, a company operating in a sector which has approved FDI caps above 50% can still continue to be treated as an Indian source for this purpose.If the proposed amendment with retrospective effect is passed by the parliament as a part of the budget proposals next month, it will open doors for foreign funding of political parties and all ‘activities of a political nature’, which are hitherto banned under FCRA since the inception of this law in 1976 during the Emergency.A large number of economic sectors have FDI caps above 50%, implying that foreign companies operating in India in those sectors can now make donations to political parties under FCRA. For example,— Agriculture has 100% FDI, so companies like Monsanto, Du Pont and Advanta can donate to political parties— Pharmaceutical sector has 100% FDI, making it possible for multinationals like Glaxo, Abbott, Pfizer to make such donations— Telecom FDI is also 100% FDI, so the likes of China Telecom, Verizon & AT&T can also do the same— Private Banks have FDI limit of 74%, so ANZ, JPMorgan & Credit Suisse can now make donations to Indian political partiesAs the floodgates of foreign corporate funding of political parties open, questions about foreign influence on public policies and internal security matters will not arise as it will become legitimate to do so. Therefore, civil society entities engaged in campaigns and advocacy—’activities of a political nature’—can also benefit from such donations.Another reason for the rush to form political parties will be the relatively weak regulatory system governing such entities in the country. Under section 13A of the Income Tax Act, political parties are 100% tax exempt for income derived from any source, including business income. They are expected to file an annual income tax return, but most do not do this regularly and there is no compliance mechanism to ensure this either. Most political parties show donations from individuals as their main source of income, but no donation below Rs 20,000 need be reported or accounted for. So a political party can show income of Rs 100 crore (or more) from such ‘small’ donations without sharing any information about the donors.In light of the above, a national movement for registration of ‘new’ political parties may well be launched by a wide variety of civil society organisations so that all advocacy efforts can be systematically and openly financed by foreign individual and corporate sources!The author is Founder-President, PRIA.
Twenty four hours after a portion of an under construction flyover near Girish Park in Kolkata collapsed, leaving 24 dead and over 90 injured, rescue operations have come to an end.The rescue operation was carried out by the Army and several teams of the NDRF besides Kolkata Police’s Disaster Management Group (DMG) and Civil Defence Group and, Fire and Emergency Services Department. The operation was carried out throughout the night on Thursday, despite facing all kinds of difficulties.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>All those who were trapped underneath the debris were pulled out by Friday morning. The entire stretch, which was covered in mounds of rubble has been cleared and the DMG is still at the spot trying to prevent people from going close to the part of the collapsed flyover.A committee set up to investigate the flyover collapse – comprising municipal body officials, Kolkata Police and construction of flyover experts reached the spot to decide the fate of the remaining flyover.The police on Friday detained 7 workers in Kolkata in connection with the flyover collapse, according to police sources. The workers are said to have been labour heads at the Kolkata flyover construction site. However, it was not confirmed whether these were indeed employees of IVRCL or independent contractors hired by the company. The Kolkata Police raided the residence of a Director of IVRCL but found that he was not there. There were reports that IVRCL employees had fled their office premises in Hyderabad after the incident occurred.Three FIRs had been filed against IVRCL at Jorasanko Police Station on Thursday but on Friday the legal head of the company denied knowledge of it. “We have no information about the FIRs because they have not been served to us so far,” he said at a press conference.The West Bengal government has announced compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the dead, Rs 2 lakh for the seriously injured and Rs 1 lakh for the injured.With ANI inputs.
A portion of a Vivekananda flyover collapsed on Thursday afternoon leaving several trapped. Rescue operations are underway and officials are trying to pull out people trapped under mounds of rubble. Disaster Management Groups, officials of Kolkata Police and Fire and Emergency Services are at the stop. DMG officials are using gas cutters to save trapped people.. According to ANI, 10 people have died. Rescue operations are underaway near Ganesh Talkies (Girish Park) in Kolkata. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>
You either die a hero or live long enough to become a villain (or see Zack Snyder ruin your legacy), but Kanhaiya Kumar seems to have lost the halo that was painted behind him by some of the media fraternity since he got bail.If the azaadi speech at JNU made some talk about him like he was the second coming of Jesus (or to get it more culturally correct, the tenth coming of Vishnu), then his sad apology for the Emergency and 1984 riots should leave no doubts about his particular brand of azaadi, which now seems more than anything else about freedom from Modi, BJP and RSS.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Make no mistake, Kanhaiya Kumar is certainly BJP’s creation, helped by many in the media who would love to gravitate towards a figure they can rally around. His initial speech was genius as he spoke with clarity to dismiss the notion that he and his mates were ‘anti-national’. It was even made out to be a watershed moment.The focus on Kanhaiya made him a figure BJP or Modi hadn’t faced yet. He was a poor worker’s son who had made it to JNU with grit and intellect. It gave the likes of Sitaram Yechury sudden relevance while politicians descended in hordes to show their support. Sanjay Jha compared him to counter-culture icon Che Guevara while Shashi Tharoor —in that impeccable diction which allows men to get away with things—went even further and evoked Bhagat Singh. For a while, he became a 15-minute crusader a la Anna Hazare, the symbol of discontent against the establishment. Then it crumbled, as things are wont to when you have cameras on you 24/7.On Monday, Kanhaiya compared the alleged onslaught on varsities with the Gujarat riots (a comparison which is over-the-top to begin with) and then went on to explain the fundamental difference between ‘Emergency’ and ‘fascism’.Speaking at JNU for what seems now like the umpteenth time, he went on to explain how the 2002 Gujarat riots and 1984 Sikh massacre were different. He was quoted as saying by PTI: “There is difference between Emergency and fascism. During Emergency, goons of only one party were engaged into goondaism, in this (fascism) entire state machinery is resorting to goondaism. There is difference between riots of 2002 and 1984 Sikh riots.””There is a fundamental difference between a mob killing a common man and massacring people through state machinery. Therefore, the threat of communal fascism we are faced with today, there is an attack being launched on universities, because like Hitler, Modi ji doesn’t have support from intellectuals in India. No intellectual is defending Modi regime,” he added.Perhaps we should have expected this after his meeting with Rahul Gandhi, but this apologist behaviour for one of India’s worst atrocities on a minority community is condemnable.(Read: Why we should never forget 1984 anti-Sikh riots)His statements attempting to downplay the Sikh riots by saying that there’s ‘a fundamental difference between a mob killing a common man and massacring people through state machinery’, makes it seem like the 1984 riots were just a spontaneous outburst of feeling.In case he needs a reminder of the horrors of 1984, here’s what Jagmohan Singh Khurmi wrote in The Tribune:“Such wide-scale violence cannot take place without police help. Delhi Police, whose paramount duty was to upkeep law and order situation and protect innocent lives, gave full help to rioters who were in fact working under able guidance of sycophant leaders like Jagdish Tytler and HKL Bhagat. It is a known fact that many jails, sub-jails and lock-ups were opened for three days and prisoners, for the most part hardened criminals, were provided fullest provisions, means and instruction to “teach the Sikhs a lesson”. But it will be wrong to say that Delhi Police did nothing, for it took full and keen action against Sikhs who tried to defend themselves. The Sikhs who opened fire to save their lives and property had to spend months dragging heels in courts after-wards.”The government estimated that the violence resulted in the death of 3000 individuals while over 20,000 fled the city of Delhi and many have called it an organised pogrom. The courts have failed to find anyone responsible. Rajiv Gandhi trying to justify it with this his ‘When a giant tree falls, the earth below shakes’ comment instead of condemning the violence tells us exactly how he felt about the violence that followed.Hitler vs IntellectualsSince Kanhaiya underscored the importance of understanding history before reaching a conclusion on any issue, here’s a little history lesson on the treatment of intellectuals under Hitler’s regime, many of whom fled the Nazi regime in Germany and the rest of Europe. While some escaped to the US, others went to Great Britain and helped both these nations become the hubs of intelligentsia in various fields, from philosophy to physics.The list of scientists who fled Nazism across Europe reads like the who’s who of intelligentsia at the time. The list includes both Jewish and non-Jewish minds like Niels Bohr, Albert Einstein, James Ranck, Eugene Winger, Otto Lowei, Otto Meyerhof and Otto Stern. Other on the list were Ernico Fermi, Wolfgang Paul, Viktor Hess, Peter Debye and CP Henrik Dam. Many emigrated to Britain, helped by the economist William Beveridge who had set up the Academic Assistance Council with the aim of rescuing Jewish and politically vulnerable academics. This organisation helped 1,500 academics escape Germany and continue their research work in Britain, a list that included Born, Bethe, Krebs, Ochoa and many more.If these names seem even vaguely familiar, it’s because they’ve created or discovered pretty much everything you read in your high-school textbooks.Hitler’s brutishness and anti-intelligentsia stance actually helped a cultural shift as the Europe’s best and brightest left to help bolster the United States and Great Britain. You can read about this tectonic cultural shift here, here and here.The last time I checked, no one was fleeing India for prosecution. So perhaps, we should stop making a comparison similar to Ghulam Nabi Azad equating RSS and ISIS, and wait a bit before comparing a democratically-elected government to one of the most terrible regimes in the history of humanity.
India is set to introduce a single national emergency number, similar to 911 in the US or 999 in Britain, officials say.
New Delhi: Family members of two Jet Airways crew members, who were injured in the Brussels airport blasts, are being flown to the Belgian capital, the airline said on Wednesday while maintaining that both the employees are “safe” in hospitals where they are being treated.
The airline, which has cancelled its flight services to Brussels till Thursday in view of the closure of the airport following Tuesday’s blasts, also said that its teams are closely working with the local authorities for resumption of operations.
Brussels airport serves as the Mumbai-based airline’s European hub for its international operations, which is now being relocated to Dutch capital Amsterdam from coming Sunday.
“Jet Airways crew who were injured (in the blasts) are safe in hospitals. Our staff in Brussels are coordinating with the local authorities and hospitals to ensure that all the required medical care is provided to them. We have made arrangements for family members of the injured crew to travel to Brussels,” an airline spokesperson said.
Jet Airways staff are with guests at each of the locations in Brussels and are providing assistance to ensure they are comfortable, the airline said.
Two Jet Airways crew members, identified as Nidhi Chaphekar and Amit Motwanai from Mumbai, were injured in the explosions that rocked Brussels’ Zaventem airport on Tuesday morning which led the airline to cancel all its flights to and from the Belgian capital till today.
The airline, later, also announced cancellation of its flights from Mumbai and Delhi to Brussels, scheduled for Thursday.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the airline said that it was closely monitoring the situation in Brussels.
The airline’s Emergency Response Centre in Mumbai and the Local Incident Control Centre in Brussels are working round the clock to provide all possible support to the airline’s staff and guests, it said.
“Our staff are with guests at each of the locations in Brussels and providing assistance to ensure they are comfortable,” it said.
The carrier has also deployed its teams from India and Continental Europe to help in the coordination efforts, it added.
Lucknow: AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi’s programme in the city on was cancelled after he was denied permission by the district administration to hold a meeting on grounds of “law and order situation” in the state.
An angry AIMIM slammed the SP government’s decision to deny permission, saying it was “afraid” of Owaisi as the UP government had “done nothing” for the minorities.
Owaisi is currently facing fire for refusing to chant ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’, claiming that it is matter of personal choice and no one can be forced to do so.
Owaisi, who had to visit Lucknow today, was denied permission by the district administration to hold a meeting on grounds of “law and order situation” in the state, Additional District Magistrate (est) JS Dubey said in his order.
“He is, however, free to visit Lucknow,” the order stated.
During his proposed two-day visit to the state, Owaisi was to visit Azamgarh in connection with a programme also but that too has been cancelled.
“Owaisi’s programme has been cancelled after the district administration denied permission. As he cannot hold roadshow, address public meeting and cannot attend gathering of more than 30 persons, he has cancelled his visit,” AIMIM state president Shaukat Ali told PTI.
Alleging that the SP government was afraid of Owaisi, Ali said, “The present SP government did nothing for the minority community in its four-year regime. It is afraid of Owaisi, who is not only party president, but MP also.”
“They have imposed Emergency in the state. A party president and MP is being repeatedly stopped in UP. They are strangulating democracy as Muslim-Dalit are coming with AIMIM and also most backward are also joining the party. This has given reasons to SP to get worried,” he said.
Ali said AIMIM supporters would hold a demonstration here against the SP government’s attitude towards their party president.
Kanhaiya Kumar, president of JNU Students’ Union, is the new poster boy for left-liberals, neutrals (code word for Modi-haters) and the general intellectual class of the country. Some have already compared him to counter culture icon Che Guevara and predicted a meteoric political curve for him after his soul-stirring speech at JNU post his release from Tihar Jail.ICC World Twenty20 2016: Afghanistan vs Scotland, Group B 2nd T20 Match Live Cricket Scores & Ball by Ball commentaryA day later, Sitaram Yechury announced that Kanhaiya who is a leader of the student wing of CPI will campaign for the Left in West Bengal. There are reports that he may be also roped in to campaign in Kerala, where the Left has a realistic chance of being put to rout by the Congress. Now, in normal circumstances, a political leader or sympathiser is expected to tow a fixed line to propagate the message of his party. But part of Kanhaiya’s appeal and his cult status lies in the refreshing change he has brought to India’s discourse, questioning many ‘injustices’ with biting satire. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He wants azaadi (freedom) in India, not from India. In his list of things Indians should get independence from are burning issues like poverty, Brahmanical supremacy, religious bigotry, and farmer distress. All’s well and good so far. But Kanhaiya’s move to campaign for the Left begs the question whether on the capmapign trail he will raise the issue or address several errors of omissions and commissions committed by the party over the years. If the Left is leveraging his presence to give oxygen to its fledging existence, surely it is essential on Kanhaiya’s part to speak about some of the blatant injustices propagated under the party’s watch in recent years in West Bengal.Let’s revisit a few glaring ones:Nandigram massacre On March 14, 2007, when the Left government was in power, at least 14 innocent villagers were killed in a police firing in Nandigram. Their crime was protesting against the setting up a chemical hub in the area. The then West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi expressed ‘cold horror’ over the incident. The issue became a rallying point for anti-Left forces to turn the political tide in the state. The then CM Buddhadev Bhattacharya later condemned the police action. But till date, the Left is yet to give a satisfactory answer as to who instructed the police to open fire.SingurSingur was another travesty of justice on part of the Left government. A party which had championed farmers’ rights decided to acquire around 1000 acres of farmland for Tata’s Nano project, without getting consent from farmers. After unwilling farmers rallied behind Mamata Banerjee to give the existing government a tough time, the Tata group finally had to leave Singur to set up factory elsewhere.But Singur also had its martyr in Tapasi Malik, a young TMC activist who was raped, murdered and burnt to death. A lower court convicted CPI(M) leader Suhrid Dutta and party activist Debu Malik in the case. Will Kanhaiya care to answer why Tapasi Malik, who also belonged to a backward community, didn’t get the attention Rohith Vemula did or what justification the Left government had in forcefully taking away farmers’ land?Nanoor violenceIn the early 2000s, when the state was seeing massive political unrest, with places like Keshpur suddenly making news, the Nanoor massacre stood out for its brazenness. 11 landless labourers were allegedly killed by CPI(M) workers in Nanoor, situated in Birbhum district. In total, 44 people were convicted of murder among which were four CPI(M) workers. According to a study done between 1955 and 2005, West Bengal, Bihar and Tamil Nadu have seen the most political violence and the Left parties have been more involved in such violence than any other party. The list can be only extended by recounting similar incidents. But the limited point is that the same leadership which was at the helm at the time has still not shown any trace of remorse, and Kanhaiya will be campaigning to bring them back to power. By maintaining silence on this kind of ghastly political violence, the effort has been to erase it from the public’s mind. It is easy to equate any imploding law and order situation or state excess to the Emergency and any leader with a strong power centre to Hitler. But it is more difficult to condemn all kinds of violence, injustice and inequity unequivocally, without looking for banners, angles and justifications. Many who have believed in Kanhaiya have kept their faith in the power of the youth to cleanse the system of its filth. But selective silence will not help Kanhaiya.Till now Kanhaiya Kumar’s interaction with the media has been more or less with the sympathetic brigade who have been ‘bowled over’ by his speech and failed to ask him any tough questions. Tough questions like what Kanhaiya thinks about the JNU students who booed Professor Makarand Paranjape who didn’t toe the left-liberal line at JNU and talked about atrocities by the Communist regime under Stalin’s leadership. Expect him to be bombarded with these tough questions on the campaign trail. We will look forward to the answers. Silence will not be golden there.
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar on Monday attacked Rahul Gandhi accusing him of creating an impression that there is “dictatorship” like situation in the country.Dismissing the Congress Vice President’s charges against the NDA government as not having “a head or a tail”, he said “it’s not even worth responding to…rather, it is not even a charge.” Javadekar said Rahul is talking about the oppressed class and the poor but his party did nothing for them while it was in power for last 10 years. “Rahul Gandhi is going everywhere and wants to impress that there is dictatorship like situation in the country, which is not the case.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”If anytime the country had witnessed dictatorship, it had been brought by Congress during the Emergency between 1975-77. So, it is their legacy and not our working style,” Javadekar said. The Minister claimed the Narendra Modi government is open to every citizen and was following the model of inclusive growth. “The Modi government belongs to farmers, youth, poor and the oppressed class and it is working for the uplift of these sections and they are liking it. But, those who did not even think about these sections for 10 years are now concerned about them.”Because of this, they raise questions that does not have head and tail. It’s not even worth responding to…rather, it is not even a charge,” Javadekar said. Asked about JNU student union leader Kanhaiya Kumar campaigning for Left parties in Assembly poll-bound West Bengal and Kerala, Javadekar said “everyone has a right” to do that.
Indira Gandhi had a perfect explanation for everything that went wrong in India during her tenure: It was a conspiracy of India’s foreign enemies.
During Indira’s time, enemies came in different forms. They were Pakistanis, imperialists, capitalists and even the CIA. And together they got the flak for everything that Indira did not like.
When Indira imposed Emergency on the country, spooked by an agitation of students that drew out Jai Prakash Narayan from retirement, she justified it by saying her government was foiling a conspiracy against the nation that was backed foreign enemies of India.
So, when she jailed politicians from across the political divide, imposed censorship on the Press, banned strikes and demonstrations, Indira effectively meant this: All these people and institutions could have played into the hands of foreign enemies and destabilised India.
Indira’s template lives on four decades after the Emergency. Her ghost continues to speak through the very people who she had jailed, called a threat to national security.
On Sunday, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, one of India’s most respected politicians, internationalised the slogan-shouting in the JNU by saying it had the blessings of terrorist Hafiz Sayeed.
“I also want to make it clear that the JNU incident has the support of LeT chief Hafiz Saeed. We should also understand this reality that Hafiz Saeed has supported this incident and it is extremely unfortunate,” he told the media.
Singh’s statement came within hours after a tweet from an unverified account in the name of Hafiz Saeed. “We request our Pakistani Brothers to trend #SupportJNU for our pro-Pakistani JNUites brothers.” It also exhorted JNU students to come to Pakistan for spreading the anti-India in its universities.
It is amusing to note that “Hafiz Saeed” is now willing to fight his silly war on Twitter and use hashtags to attack India. Better that then sending fidayeens across the border.
If only it were true.
According to a report in the Indian Express, the home minister’s statement was based on a fake Twitter account. Intelligence and police sources, however, told The Indian Express they had no evidence that the tweet in question was issued by the Lashkar-e-Taiba chief or an individual connected to him.
Saeed denied tweeting from that account. He even took potshots at the Indian government for taking a parody account seriously.
After being panned on social media for getting misled by a fake Twitter account, the home ministry later clarified that the statement was based on intelligence inputs.
Rajnath Singh is a politician of unquestionable integrity, his public life has been unblemished and non-controversial. He inspires both respect and admiration even among rivals and critics, which is not something that can be said about many other politicians. When he says something, as Firstpost editor Ajay Singh argues, it must be taken seriously.
So, it is quite possible that Hafiz Saeed is indeed fomenting trouble in one of India’s premier educational institutes and influencing its students, who are among India’s best minds and talents.
But, isn’t this a great cause for concern? Shouldn’t India be worried that Hafiz Saeed now has the power and the means to cause unrest in India’s top varsities right under the nose of the government?
It is a cause for serious concern. And this is precisely why the government should tell us more about why it thinks some JNU students are puppets in the hands of the LeT. Saying that the fear is based on intelligence inputs just wouldn’t wash. It will sound like an ode to Indira’s policy of blaming everything on the enemies of the state.
Writing for The Telegraph, Mukul Kesavan argues that the government’s response to the events in JNU verges on the insane. “The BJP’s response to radical student activism, whether it is Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad or Kanhaiya Kumar in JNU, is uncannily like the fearful, vengeful reaction of Krishna’s wicked uncle. The Krishna story shows us two ways of dealing with unbiddable youth: the love and nurture supplied by his foster mother on the one hand and the fearsome, but ultimately futile, use of power by his uncle on the other.
“In our story, Kanhaiya’s mother, Meena Devi, who worked her fingers to the bone to give her son an education that she and her husband didn’t have, is obviously Yashoda. The question we should all ask is why are so many in the BJP auditioning for the role of Kansa?””
There are several other unanswered questions about the episode.
There is indeed something fishy about the happenings at JNU. It has conspiracy written all over it from the very beginning. There are too many claims and counterclaims, videos, fake tweets and rumours floating around.
Who were the students shouting pro-Pakistan slogans? Will that won’t be too difficult to find out if they are visible on HD videos? Identify them, check their antecedents, ask them a few polite questions and we’d know. It won’t take long, will it?
Where did the Hafiz Saeed tweet originate from? Who circulated it? Would that be too difficult to know in the age of widespread electronic snooping?
And, of course, what is the extent of Hafiz Saeed’s influence on our young minds?
Blaming everything on foreign-based anti-India forces could be good rhetoric. But, as Indira found out later, crying wolf will not satisfy the collective conscience of the nation eager to know who are the real villains of the JNU drama.
For god’s sake, we can’t be a dumb republic that frames it policies on the basis of fake tweets.
If that be the case, khuda (god) is the only hafiz (protector) of this country now.
Leaders of Left parties and JD(U) on Saturday called on chief minister Arvind Kejriwal here seeking a magisterial probe to establish the “authenticity” of evidence produced against JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar, arrested on sedition charge in connection with an event organised on the campus against the hanging of Afzal Guru.The delegation comprising CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI national secretary D Raja and JD(U) MP KC Tyagi termed the on-going developments at the JNU as a “political conspiracy” by Centre to terrorise the students, “reminding of days of Emergency”. “The evidence based on which this conspiracy has been hatched is wrong. There is need to have an independent probe to check authenticity of the evidences.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Hence, we came here to meet Kejriwal seeking independent magisterial enquiry. He has assured us to look into the matter positively,” Yechury told reporters after the meeting, which took place after the delegation first met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. Yechury stated that an independent probe is required to ascertain if all the evidences needed have been furnished by the police before court and whether those are “authentic”.On being asked why the delegation called on Kejriwal after meeting Singh, Yechury said given the incident occured in the territory of Delhi, the AAP leader, being Chief Minister, has all the rights to conduct a probe and establish the authenticity of the evidence. Tyagi defended Kanhaiya claiming the JNUSU president had not raised “anti-India” slogans and he has done “nothing wrong” by criticising RSS, BJP and HRD Minister Smriti Irani.Kanhaiya, member of CPI’s student wing AISF, was yesterday arrested in connection with a case of sedition and criminal conspiracy over holding an event at the prestigious institute against hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, sparking widespread outrage among students and non-BJP political parties. Kanhaiya’ arrest come against the backdrop of a controversy at JNU, which erupted earlier this week, when some students had pasted posters across the campus inviting people to a protest march against what they claimed was “judicial killing of Guru and Maqbool Bhatt” and in solidarity with “struggle of Kashmiri people for their democratic right to self-determination” at the varsity’s Sabarmati dhaba.The event occurred despite varsity administration having cancelled the permission following a complaint by ABVP members. The JNU administration had already ordered a “disciplinary” inquiry into the incident saying, the act of students going ahead with the event despite cancellation of permission amounted to indiscipline and any talk about country’s disintegration cannot be “national”.
The Delhi police, on Friday, entered the student hostels of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus here and arrested student union president Kanhaiya Kumar in a sedition case over an event at the varsity’s campus against hanging of parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. The police apparently had the permission of the university Vice-Chancellor to search for 20 students, against whom there are sedition charges for chanting anti-national slogans.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Even as home minister Rajnath Singh and HRD minister Smriti Irani advocated strong action against those involved in the ‘anti-India’ act, Kumar’s arrest brought the students and teachers on one platform. Demanding Kumar’s immediate release and dropping of charges against him, more than 600 students took out a candlelight march in the evening. They also demanded that the police keep off the campus.While the agitators claimed that Kumar had not made any anti-national remarks during his 20-minute speech following alleged vandalism by the ABVP (Akhil Bharitiya Vidyarthi Parishad) activists at the venue of Afzal Guru death anniversary event, police said they were prompted to act due to the alleged anti-India sloganeering at the event.Rajnath Singh, in a tweet, said: “Anyone who raises anti-India slogans or tries to put a question mark on nation’s unity and integrity will not be spared.” Irani too came out with a statement that the “nation can never tolerate an insult to Mother India.”Responding to the events, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury tweeted, “What is happening in JNU? Police on campus, arrests and picking up students from hostels. This had last happened during Emergency.” The JNU teachers’ union too came out in support of the students criticising police action.The ABVP, meanwhile, demanded that the organisers of the Guru event should be expelled from the university.A high-level inquiry committee has been constituted by the university administration to investigate into the incident.
Kolkata: Displaying bonhomie, senior leaders of the CPI-M and the Congress on Wednesday pitched for an alliance in the upcoming assembly polls in West Bengal, saying both parties needed to forget the bitter rivalry of the past.
Communist Party of India-Marxist politburo member Mohammed Salim and state Congress spokesman Om Prakash Mishra painted a grim picture of the state under the present rulers, Trinamool Congress, alleging that civil liberty was absent and opposition parties were victims of violence and terror tactics.
“When the house is on fire, we shout and call our neighbours. Then we don’t remember whether we had some old quarrel or disagreements with these neighbours,” Salim said at a discussion organised by the Press Club.
“Let us not live in the past. We have to respect the sentiments of the people who want freedom from the misrule and tyranny perpetrated by the Trinamool Congress,” he said.
He said that while the CPI-M had opposed the Congress during the Emergency, the present situation in the state was akin to an “undeclared emergency”.
“It is not the right time to harp on our past differences. But it is the right time to come together to fulfil our common goal of ridding Bengal of Trinamool misrule and taking it back on the road to progress,” said Salim, who is also a Lok Sabha member.
Mishra said there was no denying the fact that the two parties were at loggerheads during the 34 years of the CPI-M led Left Front rule.
“We may again have differences in the future. But this is not the right time to cling on to the past. We have to face the electorate jointly, as that is the wish of the people.”
However, Trinamool Congress leader Sabyasachi Bagchi claimed the alliance would be “fruitless” as the people have made up their mind to back the “mindboggling” development initiatives taken up by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
“We are not bothered whether the alliance is formed or not. We only know that the opposition is in no position to win, as people feel they are inimical to policies of development,” he said.
Meanwhile, CPI-M central committee member Shyamal Chakraborty exuded confidence that the committee would give its approval in favour of the alliance with the Congress.
“This is a state issue. Our recent party plenum said it was for the state unit of the party to take a stand in such cases. And on that basis it will be discussed by the central committee.”
Asked during a television programme about the Visakhapatnam party Congress’s electoral tactical line of having no truck with the Congress, Chakraborty said “the tactical line can always be changed depending on the ground situation”.
With the polls less than three months away, the state leadership of the CPI-M has been making overtures to the Congress for a joint fight against the Trinamool.
Last week, a majority of state Congress leaders also conveyed to party vice president Rahul Gandhi their desire to team up with the CPI-M at the hustings.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi will take the final decision on the possible alliance.
The Marxists have announced they would formalise their stand at a two-day state committee meeting from February 13.
The state committee’s decision would be conveyed to the CPI-M central committee, which is scheduled to hold a three-day session beginning February 16 to take the firnal decision on the alliance.
Even as his reported comments gave fuel to the Congress to take on Prime minister Narendra Modi, senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said his remarks were “misunderstood and misinterpreted”. The Congress, however, cashed in on it blaming the Prime Minister’s “not believing in dialogue” for the opposition-government face off in Parliament, while the BJP accused Congress of stalling key reform bills.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The Prime Minister does not believe in dialogue. He likes one-way communication, be it with his organisation or with the media. Even inside Parliament, he does not believe in discussion…” senior Congress spokesman Anand Sharma told reporters on Sunday. He went on to allege that his “arrogance and obstinacy are responsible for the situation of confrontation between the government and the opposition” and that he had not made any effort to usher in an atmosphere of constructive cooperation.Sharma, deputy leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, criticised Modi’s style of functioning in response to questions on Sinha’s reported comments at a conference in Goa on Saturday, which seemed to be targeting Modi without naming him. Sinha, however, denied making any reference to the Prime Minister and said the reference to emergency had nothing to do with the Modi government. “It is complete misinterpretation. Anyone who has reported this, has completely misunderstood what I have said,” he said, a day later. Sinha is one of the four BJP veterans who have questioned the party leadership’s style of functioning, particularly after the Bilhar election. Meanwhile his son Jayant Sinha, who is a minister in the Modi government, tweeted that he had spoken to Yashwant Sinha and that the news agency story “completely misquotes him”.During a discussion at the ‘Difficult Dialogues’ conference in Dona Paula, Sinha when asked about the present day culture of “I, me, myself” said elected representatives including to Parliament and Assemblies have to go back to the people who elect them. He referred to the Emergency of 1975 and the outcome of the “most concerted effort in our country to still the voice of dissent”.Further, he said “we all know how the people of India reacted. So, there would be aberrations here, aberrations there, we might be very concerned about the present situation because some of these things according to us are taking place.””But the great Indian society will take care of it and will consign to the dust those who do not believe in dialogue in India. The people of India will consign him to the dust, you just have to wait for the next elections,” Sinha was reported to have said.Meanwhile, BJP retaliated to the Congress saying it was creating hurdles in path of development and key reform bills. “Where on one hand world leaders are lauding PM’s leadership and India’s growth story, Congress leaders are playing politics of lies and deceit for petty selfish gains,” spokesperson Shrikant Sharma said.
After reports quoted BJP leader Yashwant Sinha saying that PM Narendra Modi and his government would meet the same fate as the Indira Gandhi-led Congress govt after the Emergency, the senior politician has denied having made the comment. “I was taking part in a discussion yesterday, the subject of which was ‘Is dialogue dead’. I started by saying that consensus is the soul of democracy and consensus can be achieved only through dialogue. And therefore, dialogue cannot be dead in a country where democracy is strong and thriving,” he explained.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He added that he went on defending this position. “When some people referred to some cases of intolerance… I reminded them of imposition of Emergency by Indira Gandhi and I said that people of this country taught her a lesson in 1977. Because it is not in our spirit to be intolerant, it is not in our spirit to stifle dialogue. Therefore, both democracy is alive and dialogue is alive. That is what I said.” he said.”Anyone who has reported anything else, has completely misunderstood what I have said and has done injustice to me,” Sinha said slamming the media.Sinha, who was finance minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, was reported to have commented without naming Modi, “…the people of India will consign him to the dust, you just have to wait for the next elections.” Alluding to the general elections in 1977 when Congress was ousted from power, he said such a neglect (of dialogue) will make the government last “19 months”, the same duration as the Emergency. “We all know how the people of India reacted to the Emergency which was the “most concerted democratic effort in our country to still the voice of dissent,” he was reported to have said. He had also said that under Vajpayee, the NDA government was able to pass several important legislations with the help of dialogue with opposition. His onslaught came on the same day when another BJP leader, actor-MP Shatrughan Sinha, said that veteran leaders Vajpayee, L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi “deserve much more than what they have been given”. “Currently these leaders including me are trapped between oppression and respect,” Shatrughan said in Pune. With agency inputs.
Reacting to veteran BJP leader Yashwant Sinha’s outburst that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government would meet the same fate as that of the Indira Gandhi-led Congress, which was drubbed in the elections after Emergency, his party colleague Shaina NC on Sunday said everyone is entitled to their opinion, but this smells of some kind of dissatisfaction of not being included in larger scheme of things.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”People are entitled to opinion, some satisfactory some not so satisfactory, but all in all, it is the public of this country that will decide,” she said.”I don’t think that anyone can defect from the issue, because Modi ji’s work is here to speak. The way he has performed as a prime minister and continues to do so on the international forum and in India, nobody can take that away from him,” she said defending Prime Minister Narendra Modi.On the film fraternity going increasingly vocal on the issue of intolerance, the BJP leader said, “I don’t know if people are getting affected by this kind of commentary, but I only want to say that no kind of commentary can cause any discomfort to ‘Indianess’ of India, because we are a united country and we will always be, despite our diversities in ideology, religion, thought process etc.””My only appeal to the film fraternity will be rather than giving these kind of statements, it’s important to keep people unified by positive messages,” she said on the sidelines of monthly yoga event organized at Marine Drive in Mumbai.”Modi ji started International Yoga Day on June 21, and thus, we thought why not to keep the movement alive by doing Yoga every month at Marine Drive. Sometimes for women, sometimes for senior citizens and sometimes for Mumbai Police, however, this time it is for children,” she said.
Amid talk of intolerance, veteran BJP leader L K Advani on Tuesday said there was no question mark on the freedom of expression in the country and wondered who were the people saying so.”I do not know who are the people saying that there is no freedom of expression in India. This right (freedom of expression) has always been there… Such a question does not arise today,” Advani, who is said to be unhappy with the party leadership, told the media after a flag-hoisting ceremony at his residence.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Several writers and artistes have said intolerance has risen under the Modi government, a claim dismissed as politically motivated by it and BJP.Advani declined to comment on BJP president Amit Shah’s meeting with him on Sunday after the latter’s election as the party chief. BJP had said Shah had gone to him to seek his “blessings”.People fought against attempts to stifle freedom of expression during the British rule, he said and referred to the Emergency as he recalled that when “our government” tried to do so, people fought back.He said the only concern today should be about arousing patriotism in every citizen and how people in every field can become patriots.On Republic Day, it was natural for a feeling of nationalism to be present all around but efforts should be made to keep it alive all the time by the means of education and sport besides others methods, he said.BJP leaders and Union ministers Najma Heptulla and Rajiv Pratap Rudy were present.Advani, besides party veterans Murli Manohar Joshi, Yashwant Sinha and Shanta Kumar have met a couple of times in recent months and they had issued a strongly-worded statement criticising the partyleadership after their first meeting on leadership after their first meeting on Diwali eve.
“A huge void has been created by his demise. Though he is not physically present now, his work and memories are before the people of Jammu and Kashmir and that needs to be carried forward,” he said.
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Bertrand Russell – philosopher and logician – argued in his 1938 book ‘Power: A New Social Analysis’ that everyone wants power. Expounding on his power theory, he said that power existed in two forms – explicit in leaders; and implicit in their followers. We are either born to lead or be led by someone. He believed that people choose a leader and follow him because they believe that his triumphs are theirs, that they imbibe the qualities of their leaders. Most men don’t have the temerity to lead, so they follow. Read: (Why fans act so crazy)
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