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When Indians unite, their power is unparalleled: Full text of PM Modi’s New Year’s Eve Speech

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi today sent out a stern warning of tough action against the “dishonest” people even as he announced a slew of sops for senior citizens, farmers, rural housing, women and small entrepreneurs to soften the blow of demonetization.He also assured the honest people that the government will act as a friend to them so that their difficulties are eased.Among the sops announced in his address to the nation at the end of 50-day demonetisation period, Modi said senior citizens will get 8 per cent interest on deposits of upto Rs 7.5 lakh for 10 years and deposit of Rs 6000 into accounts of pregnant and lactating women in rural areas to meet medical expenses.For farmers, he announced that banks will not charge interest for 60 days on loans taken from district cooperative central bank and primary societies for rabi crop.Here’s his full speech:My fellow citizens, In a few hours, we will be ushering in the new year of 2017. 125 crore Indians will join the rest of the world, in welcoming it with new hope, new energy and new dreams.Since Diwali, our nation has been witness to a historic rite of purification. The patience, discipline, and resolve displayed by 125 crore Indians, will play a critical role in shaping the future of the nation for years to come. In God’s creation, humans are endowed with fundamental goodness.With time, the distortions of badness creep in. People feel suffocated in a bad environment, and struggle to come out of it. Corruption, black money, and counterfeit notes had become so rampant in India’s social fabric, that even honest people were brought to their knees.People were forced by circumstances, in defiance of their inherent goodness. It seemed at times, that the evils and corruptions of society, knowingly or un – knowingly, intentionally or un- intentionally, had become a part of our daily lives. Developments post-Diwali have shown, that crores of Indians were looking for an escape from this suffocation.We have, during the external aggressions, of 1962, 1965, 1971 and Kargil; witnessed the intrinsic strength of our citizens. Such collective energy and patriotism is under- standable, in the face of external threats.However, when crores of Indians unite to fight a war against internal evils, it is unparalleled.Indians have, with firm resolve and infinite patience, faced difficulties with a smile, re-defining the concept of sacrifice. We have lived these ideals. 125 crore Indians have shown, in their fortitude, the importance we place in truth and goodness. This has been written on the sands of time.Indians have displayed the strength of people power, utmost discipline, and the ability to discern the truth in a storm of disinformation. They have shown that resolute honesty, can defeat dishonesty.They have shown how much, even people trapped in poverty, are willing to do, to build a glorious India. The people, through persistence, sweat and toil, have demonstrated to the world, an unparalleled example of citizen sacrifice, for the brighter future of a nation. Usually, when people’s movements have arisen, the people and the government have been at loggerheads.It is historic, that both the people and the government are on the same side in this battle against evil. The Government is well aware, that in this period, you had to queue up, and face difficulty in withdrawing your own money. I received letters from many people. They have shared their pain and sorrow with me, but also emphasized their support. You have talked to me as one of your own. In this fight against corruption and black money, it is clear that you wish to walk shoulder to shoulder with us. For us in Government, this is a blessing. My effort is to take the banking system to normalcy as fast as possible in the new year. I have asked all concerned officers in the Government to focus their attention to this task. They have especially been told to proactively resolve the problems in rural and remote areas. Friends,There is no precedent globally, to what India has done. Nations similar to us do not have the amount of currency that we had. Over the last ten to twelve years, 500 and 1000 rupee currency notes were used less for legitimate transactions, and more for a parallel economy. The excess of cash was fuelling inflation and black-marketing. It was denying the poor, their due. Lack of cash causes difficulty, but excess of cash is even more troublesome. Our aim is to achieve a balance. Economists agree that when cash is outside the formal economy, it is a cause of worry.When it joins the mainstream, it is an opportunity for development. I am sure, if great sons of India like Jayaprakash Narayan, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Ram Manohar Lohia, and Kamaraj had been present today, they would have applauded the patience, discipline and resolve of our countrymen.In the past few weeks, there have been many gratifying instances – it would take weeks to list them.It is a healthy trend for any nation, when the people wish to join the mainstream abiding by the law, and helping the Government in serving the poor. Friends.How long will we overlook facts that stare us in the face? I wish to share some information with you, which will either make you laugh, or make you angry. According to information with the Government, there are only 24 lakh people in India who accept that their annual income is more than 10 lakh rupees. Can we digest this? Look at the big bungalows and big cars around you.If we look at any big city, it would have lakhs of people with annual income of more than 10 lakh. Do you not feel, that for the good of the country, this movement for honesty, needs to be further strengthened? In this fight against corruption and black money, it is natural to debate the fate of the dishonest. What punishment will they get? The Law will take its own course, with its full force. But the priority of the Government now is how to help the honest, protect them, and ease their difficulty.How can honesty gain more prestige? This Government is a friend of good people. And it aims to build an enabling environment for the dishonest to return to the path of goodness.It is also a bitter truth, that people have complaints of bad experiences at the hands of Government machinery, and some government officers.This reality cannot be wished away. No one can deny that Government officers have a greater responsibility than common citizens.Therefore, it is the responsibility of all of us in Government, at central, state and local levels, to protect the common man, help the honest, and isolate the dishonest. Friends, It is accepted the world over, that terrorism, Naxalism, Maoism, counterfeit currency trade, drug trade, human trafficking – all of these depend on black money.These evils have become a festering sore on society and Governments.Demonetization has dealt a severe blow to these trades.Today, youth who had turned to the wrong path, are returning to the mainstream in large numbers. If we remain vigilant, we can now save our children from returning to those evil ways of violence and cruelty. The fact that so much of the cash in circulation has been deposited in the banking system indicates the success of this mission.Events of the last few days indicate that escape routes for the dishonest have all been sealed. Technology has played a big role. The habitual offenders will be forced to abandon their misdeeds and join the mainstream.Friends, This also represents a golden opportunity for the country’s banking system. During this period, bank employees have worked day and night.Female employees too, worked till late hours as part of this mission.Post office staff, banking correspondents- all did exceptional work.Amid this herculean effort, some grave crimes by some officers in some banks have come to light. Some Government officers have also committed serious offences, and tried to take advantage of the situation. They will not be spared. At this historic juncture, I wish to make an appeal to the banks.History is witness that the Indian banking system has never received such a large amount of money, in such a short time.While respecting the autonomy of the banks, I appeal to them to move beyond their traditional priorities, and keep the poor, the lower middle class, and the middle class at the focus of their activities.India is celebrating the centenary of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay as Garib Kalyan Varsh. Banks should also not let this opportunity slip. They should take appropriate decisions in public interest promptly. When policies and programmes are made with clear objectives in mind, not only are beneficiaries empowered, but both short term, and long term benefits are achieved. Spending is carefully scrutinized, and chances of good results are maximized.The more the villages, the poor, the farmers, the dalits, the tribals, the marginalized, the oppressed, the deprived and women are empowered, and financially enabled to stand on their own feet, the stronger the country will become, and the faster will be the pace of development. Friends, to further the principle of Sabka Saath – Sabka Vikaas, on the eve of the new year, Government is bringing some new programmes for the people. Even so many years after independence, millions of poor do not have their own home. When black money increased in our economy, houses became out of reach of even the middle class. The Government has taken some major decisions to ensure homes for the poor, the neo middle class and the middle class. Two new middle income categories have been created under the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana in urban areas. Loans of up to 9 lakh rupees taken in 2017, will receive interest subvention of 4 per cent. Loans of up to 12 lakh rupees taken in 2017, will receive interest subvention of 3 per cent. The number of houses being built for the poor, under the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana in rural areas, is being increased by 33 per cent. In addition to this, another scheme is being put in place for the neo middle and middle class in rural areas. Loans of up to 2 lakh rupees taken in 2017, for new housing, or extension of housing in rural areas, will receive an interest subvention of 3 per cent. Friends in the last few weeks, an impression was sought to be created that the agriculture sector has been destroyed. Farmers themselves have given a fitting reply to those who were doing so. Rabi sowing is up by 6 per cent compared to last year. Fertilizer offtake is up by 9 per cent. During this period, the Government has taken care to ensure that farmers do not suffer for want of access to seeds, fertilisers and credit. Now, we have taken some more decisions in the interest of farmers. Farmers who have taken loans for the Rabi crop from District Cooperative Central Banks and Primary Societies, will not have to pay interest on such loans for a period of 60 days. Farmers who have paid interest during the last two months, will receive these amounts back, directly into their bank accounts. Arrangements are being made to provide farmers even better access to loans from cooperative banks and societies. NABARD created a fund of 21,000 crore rupees last month. Now, Government is adding 20,000 crore rupees more to this. The loss that NABARD suffers by giving loans to cooperative banks and societies at low interest rates, shall be borne by the Government of India. The Government has decided, that 3 crore farmers who have Kisan Credit Cards, will be given RuPay debit cards within three months. Kisan Credit Cards were launched in 1998, but so far, it was essential to go to a bank, to use them. Now, farmers will have RuPay Debit Cards, which they can use anywhere. Just as agriculture is vital for the economy, so are the medium and small scale enterprises also called the MSME sector. Government has taken some decisions in the interest of small and medium businesses, which will also boost employment.Government of India underwrites loans given by banks to small businesses through a trust. So far, loans were covered upto one crore rupees. This limit is now being enhanced to 2 crore rupees. Earlier the scheme only covered bank loans. Hereafter it will cover loans given by NBFCs as well. This decision will enable better access to credit for small shop-owners and small enterprises. Banks and NBFCs will not levy high interest on these loans, as Government of India is bearing the cost of underwriting them. Government has also asked banks to raise the credit limit for small industry from 20 per cent of turnover to 25 per cent.Banks have also been asked to increase working capital loans from 20 per cent of turnover to 30 per cent, for enterprises that transact digitally.Many people connected with this sector have made cash deposits in the last few weeks. Banks have been asked to take this into account when deciding on working capital. A few days back, Government announced a major tax relief for small businesses. Income of businesses with turnover of up to Rs 2 crores was calculated at 8% of the turnover. Now, for such businesses income from digital transactions will be calculated at 6%. This will effectively reduce their tax liability by 25%. Friends,The progress of the MUDRA Yojana has been very encouraging. Last year, nearly 3 and a half crore people have benefited from this. The Government now aims to double this, giving priority to Dalits, Tribals, Backward Classes and Women. A new scheme is being launched for pregnant women.We are introducing a nation-wide scheme for financial assistance to pregnant women. 6000 rupees will be transferred directly to the bank accounts of pregnant women who undergo institutional delivery and vaccinate their children. This scheme will help reduce the maternal mortality rate, in a big way. This will help ensure nutrition before and after delivery, and improve the health of mother and child. So far, pregnant women in 53 districts were being given financial assistance of 4000 rupees, under a pilot project. We are initiating a scheme for senior citizens. Banks often reduce their deposit rates, when they receive a large volume of money. This should not adversely impact senior citizens. Under the scheme, senior citizens will receive a fixed interest rate of 8 per cent for a period of 10 years, on deposits upto 7.5 lakh rupees. The interest will be paid monthly. Friends,Political parties, political leaders and electoral funding, figure prominently in any debate on corruption and black money.The time has now come that all political leaders and parties respect the feelings of the nation’s honest citizens, and understand the anger of the people. It is true that from time to time, political parties have made constructive efforts to improve the system. I urge all parties and leaders to move away from a “holier than thou approach,” to come together in prioritising transparency, and take firm steps to free politics of black money and corruption. In our country, people ranging from the common man to the President, have at some point or another, advocated simultaneous conduct of state and national elections.This is to break the endless cycle of elections, reduce election expenditure, and minimize pressure on the administrative machinery.The time has come for this to be seriously considered and debated. Positive change has always found space in our country.We can now see a positive momentum towards digital transactions in India.More and more people are transacting digitally.Yesterday, Government has launched a new, swadeshi platform for digital transactions – named BHIM after Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar.BHIM stands for Bharat Interface for Money. I call upon the youth, the trading community, and farmers to connect with BHIM as much as possible. Friends, the developments, decisions, and policies that were put in place after Diwali, will of course be evaluated by economists. It will be good if social scientists also do the same.As a nation, India’s villages, poor, farmers, youth, educated and uneducated men and women, have all displayed infinite patience and people power. In a short time, the new year of 2017 will begin. Exactly 100 years ago, in 1917, Mahatma Gandhi initiated a Satyagraha in Champaran. Now, a century later, we witness that the people of India continue to share that feeling towards truth and goodness.Today, Mahatma Gandhi is not among us. But the path towards truth that he showed us, is still most appropriate. As we begin the centenary year of the Satyagraha, let us recall the Mahatma and resolve to follow his message of truth and goodness.We cannot allow this fight against black money and corruption to stop or slow down. Firmness in truth is a guarantee for success. A country of 125 crore, with 65 per cent below the age of 35, having the means, the resources, and the capability, has no reason to stay behind. The new dawn of the New Year, comes with the resolve of new success.Let us all come together, to move ahead overcoming obstacles and constraints. Happy New Year Jai Hind !!!

From sops for senior citizens to affordable housing schemes: Top announcements by PM Modi on New Year’s Eve

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Addressing the nation on New Year’s Eve on the impact of demonetisztion and the roadmap ahead for the economy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said India has gone through a massive cleansing process and purification drive (Shuddhi Yatra). In a 43-minute-long address to the nation, he said the citizens of the country were desperate to break free of corruption, but had never been given a chance to do so earlier, and had in fact gotten used to the idea of offering extra money to get their jobs done.Prime Minister Modi said India has set a new example for the world through this 50-day-long demonetisation exercise, adding that their commitment and discipline to tackle the cash crunch would be a living example for generations to come. ‘This is the first instance in India’s history when the government and the people have fought shoulder to shoulder. I got thousands of letters from the people who shared their pain, but they reaffirmed their resolve to stick with the process to root out corruption and black money,’ he said.He further stated that “125 crore Indians have proved that they are willing to wait in line at banks, but do not wish to be even one step behind in the drive against corruption.” He said that what would me most surprising to a majority of the citizens would be that, “Just 24 lakh Indians had admitted to having an income of more than Rs.10 lakhs,’, which was indicative of the very high level of tax eva sion being perpetrated by those not abiding by the law. Expressing confidence that the New Year would see lesser queues outside banks and things returning to normal, Prime Minister Modi said, ‘Banks have never before seen this sort of influx of cash’, and he would like to see personnel of these institutions focusing on helping the middle class and the poor.Here are the top highlights of speech: 8% interest rate will be guaranteed on deposits of up to Rs 7.5 lakh for 10 years for senior citizens; interest will be paid monthlyRs 6,000 to be put into accounts of pregnant women in 650 districts for vaccination and other medical useTwo new schemes under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana to provide 4% interest waiver on loan of up to Rs 9 lakh and of 3% on loan up to Rs 12 lakh.Banks have been asked to raise cash credit limit to small business to 25% from 20%Government to stand guarantee for loans up to Rs 2 crore from current Rs 1 crore, to small businesses3% interest waiver on loan up to Rs 2 lakh for construction of houses in rural India.Government to pay interest for 60 days on loans taken by farmers for rabi season from district cooperative banks and primary societies

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

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

Demonetization: Why are there restrictions on cash withdrawal? Mamata to Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Questioning the restrictions imposed on cash withdrawal, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday said the government cannot simply “snatch away” economic rights of the people.”Modi Babu, public are not beggars. Why are there still restrictions on cash withdrawal?,” Banerjee asked in a statement. “Fifty days are now over. How can you take away the rights of citizens to withdraw their own hard-earned money? A government just cannot snatch away people’s economic rights,” she said. The Reserve Bank of India said last night that cash withdrawal limit from ATMs would be increased to Rs 4,500 per day from the current Rs 2,500 from January 1.There has been no change in the weekly withdrawal limit, which stands at Rs 24,000, including from ATM, for individuals and Rs 50,000 for small traders.

Demonetization | If I was guided by electoral politics, I would never have done it: PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In his first interview post demonetization, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reflected on the concerns raised in the weeks since his surprise announcement on November 8. In an exclusive interview with India Today, Modi said, “The revenue collected will be used for the welfare of the poor, downtrodden and marginalised.”The Prime Minister said that these sections of the society were central to the government’s programmes and priorities. He rejected allegations by the opposition that the move was political, in view of the upcoming state elections. “It was a tough decision taken to clean up our economy and our society. If I were guided by short-term electoral politics, I would never have done so,” he said.Asserting the move to ban the high denomination had been welcomed by the 1.25 billion citizens of the country, the PM said that the public’s enthusiasm had not been affected by the dire predictions made by critics. “This acceptance, in my view, is even more historic than the decision itself,” he told the magazine.
ALSO READ Digi Dhan Mela: PM Modi launches BHIM app, now only thumb impression needed for secure digital transaction He also said that the absence of significant incident of unrest was not a small achievement. “At the same time, as with every other process, there is always room for improvement, and I believe that we can, and must, always improve,” he said.On the frequent changes in policy post the demonetization announcement, Modi said,”One must be able to distinguish between niti (policy) and ran-niti (strategy) and not put them in the same basket. The decision of demonetization, which reflects our niti, is unequivocally clear, unwavering and categorical. Our ran-niti, however, needed to be different, aptly summarised by the age-old saying of ‘Tu daal-daal, main paat-paat’. We must stay two steps ahead of the enemy.” He also said that the changes in policy reflected the government’s ability to respond quickly and keeping up with the evolving situation.
ALSO READ Demonetization: PM Narendra Modi slams Congress for stalling debate, openly protecting dishonestyThe Prime Minister said that the return of the money to banks meant that there was a trail for every rupee and made it easier to track sources of black money and schemes of corruption. He also said that the GST and adoption of digital payments would be critical elements of system put in place the government to curb further generation of black money. The Prime called digitisation a major reform with multiple benefits, which include cleaning up of economy, proper accounting and sizing of the formal economy, greater ease and security, building of financial records and greater tax compliance.Addressing the common man’s anger against corruption, he said that it was also imperative to find ways to root out black money in politics. “Everyone, especially our political leaders and parties, will have to recognise and accept this groundswell. The tide is fast changing. Those who don’t evolve with it and insist on sticking to their old ways will only get swept away.You can read the full interview here.

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

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

Demonetisation, staff crunch: Why the I-T dept is struggling to complete scrutiny assessment

With less than 36 hours for the 31 December deadline, the Income Tax (I-T) department staff and officials are burning the midnight oil to complete the scrutiny assessment.

Advancing of the scrutiny deadline, demonetisation and verification of lakhs of bank accounts — all have compounded into an unprecedented workload which the department is grappling with.
The direct tax department’s offices at Civic Centre on Minto Road, CR Building at ITO, Aaykar Bhawan at Laxmi Nagar in New Delhi to name a few are abuzz even after midnight, as the officials are busy in the disposal of time-barred assessment cases, which was 3.66 lakh as on 1 April.

Scrutiny assessment is the examination of the I-T returns by giving an opportunity to the assessee to substantiate the income declared and the expenses, deductions, etc claimed in the returns with evidences. The purpose of the I-T department is to verify whether the assessee has correctly shown his/her income or not.

Despite assessment, verification, search and seizures being a routine job, why has it become a Herculean task for the I-T department to meet government’s demand this time?

Five key reasons

1. Advancing of the assessment deadline: Earlier, the last date of disposal of scrutiny cases was 31 March, which has been changed to 31 December from this year.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

2. Demonetisation effect: After PM Narendra Modi announced demonetisation on 8 November, the I-T department got down to verifying bank accounts where large sums of money have been deposited. After 31 December, the banks will compile details of accounts where cash has been deposited and hand over a CD to I-T department by January end. “There are 25 crore Jan Dhan accounts and money has been deposited in these accounts. Now the department besides its routine work, will also have to verify the suspected accounts, send notices, follow it up…large number of cases will come up. It’s going to be a mammoth job,” an I-T official said.

3. Staff crunch: According to the I-T department, there’s shortage of staff at multiple levels. “There’s 35% shortfall at staff level. The department is top heavy, with more number of chief and principle commissioners, whereas there’s acute shortage at deputy and assistant commissioner and assessment officer levels. Due to shortage of inspectors, field work is getting badly affected. Now, post-demonetisation, pressure on staff will increase multifold,” Ashok Kumar Kanojia, president, Income Tax Employees Federation (ITEF), New Delhi said.

4. Infrastructure bottleneck: “Government promised laptops but has not yet been given. Privacy is a problem as two officers have to share a single room and an assessee would not like to talk in presence of another officer. Besides, the department has to do online scrutiny, but the capacity of the server is so low that often an officer has to wait for long to download information. Internet bandwidth is very low in comparison to the workload, so it takes long hours to dispose cases,” added association’s general secretary Ajay Sharma.

5. Jugglery of numbers: Out of nearly 25 crore Permanent Account Number (PAN) registered with the I-T department, only 5.6 crore file I-T Returns. According to I-T department, nearly 3 crore people pay taxes. The department conducts scrutiny on 1% of the total cases of declarations. “As on 1 April, there were 3.66 lakh scrutiny cases, which has increased by more than a lakh as on date. This itself speaks about the gigantic proportion of workload,” an official remarked.

Tough days ahead…

The tax officials have predicted 2017 as a tough time for them.

“The workload will increase in days to come as the I-T officials would now deal with the information coming from banks. The department has been facing staff crunch for quite some time and it’ll have to manage with the existing staff,” added former chairperson, Central Board of Direct Taxes, Praksah Chandra.

“The department staff and officials have been working without any weekly-offs to meet the deadline. For the last three months large number of staff members hasn’t even taken any leave. It has become cumbersome due to shortage of staff and lack of adequate infrastructure. Several times we’ve communicated it to the government, but to no avail. We don’t have any magic wand to complete this humongous workload,” added Kanojia.

Meanwhile, the Confederation of Central Government Employees & Workers and Income Tax Employees Federation have given a one-day strike call on 15 February. The 21-point charter of demands of the joint call includes the problems being faced by the tax department.

…Yet hopes are alive

“There are hurdles, staff crunch, etc, but as the department is accountable towards disposal of time-barring cases, every case will be completed within deadline, how difficult it may be. Despite mounting pressure, we know the department staff will ultimately perform,” said general secretary, IRS Association, Jayant Mishra said.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 18:29 IST

Govt fields senior ministers to highlight achievements, defend demonetization

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the Congress chalking out a national agitation against the demonetization from next week, the government here on Thursday went all out to defend its note ban move, rolling out figures to prove that its drive to transition to a cashless economy had takers. The government fielded three senior ministers — Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Information and Broadcasting Minister Venkaiah Naidu and Ministry of Information Technology Ravi Shakar Prasad — to put forth an optimistic picture and highlight its achievements. Countering the opposition, the ruling BJP will also launch a massive political campaign to make people aware about digital economy.Jaitley said clear results from the notes ban were now coming in, tax collections were up, so was the life insurance business, petroleum consumption, tourism and investments in mutual funds. The minister countered naysayers who predicted that demonetization would have a severely adverse effect on the economy. “What was being predicted by the critics has to have a rationale with the revenue collections. Assessments can be unreal but revenue is real,” Jaitley said, adding that “in all the categories (of indirect tax) till November 30, there has been a significant increase in tax collection.” Till December 19, the income tax collection had gone up by 14.4%, he said.Giving a breakdown of central indirect tax collection, he said that the excise duty collection went up by 43.5%, service tax by 25.7% and customs duties by 5.6%. Even on a month-on-month basis, the tax collection this November was higher, he said.Prasad said, “Now the country is functioning at such a fast pace, but if the Congress party can’t see this, then it’s their loss.” He accused the main opposition party of being “the biggest patron of the corrupt and corruption”.Similarly, at a separate press conference, Naidu said that the note withdrawal was an effective Anti–Scam Vaccine to prevent scams taking place through corruption and black money generation. Attacking the Opposition, Naidu said that those rattled by the prospect of the government going after those who made illegitimate deposits in banks and bought benami properties were making such baseless allegations. “It is a cheap tactic to dilute the public perception about the potential benefits of note withdrawal. Government will not be retracted by such diversionary tactics,” he said.He further said that note withdrawal is a part of the grand anti-corruption strategy launched by the government in pursuit of the mandate give by the people in 2014 general elections but that some vested interested were questioning the initiatives against black money and corruption.Highlighting his government’s achievements, Naidu said his scandal-free governance, effective inflation management, increased Foreign Domestic Investments, enhanced pace of infrastructure creation, stepped up economic growth rate despite adversities, financial inclusion, transparent resource allocation, increased accountability and transparency in governance, positive macroeconomic parameters were among the achievements of the government in the past few years.Giving details about the tourism sector, he said that there had been notable growth in the comparative figures of Foreign Tourists Arrival (FTA) and Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) and online sale of e–tickets after demonetization. The Minister said that earnings from cashless ticketing in Railways has increased by 30% and the number of people booking reserved tickets online using credit and debit cards or online transactions was at 58% in November, but had now reached over 75%.He also said that more than 26 crore accounts were opened under the Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana as a step towards financial inclusion. The Make in India initiative ensured enhanced the partnership between the government and the industry, he said, and India’s ease of business ranking had improved from 142 to 130 in the world.Naidu said that about 3.09 crore farmers were covered under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana in 2015-16 and 3.66 crores this year. He stated that over 19 lakh youth were trained in useful skills under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana. Under the Stand Up India scheme, Rs 500 crore had been allocated in 2016-17 budget. Over 2.5 lakh entrepreneurs had benefited from the scheme so far, Naidu said. He also said that 1.22 crore LPG connections had been provided to BPL households under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana. On the soil health card scheme for farmers, he said that over 2.5 crore health cards had been distributed so far.Prasad too opined that the demonetization was a big success and said that digital payments had gone up by anywhere between 300% to 1500% following the move. At another press conference, Prasad, who is also the law minister, said that the government was taking every step to make digital payments foolproof. “We are reinforcing all cyber security walls,” Prasad said, adding that the IT ministry will come out with a detailed plan in this regard within a fortnight. Prasad further said that the government was also considering whether amendments were required in the Income-Tax Act to plug loopholes which may have provided tax evaders a legitimate way of legalising their black money.

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

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

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

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

PTIPTI

PTI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Outgoing Delhi L-G seeks CBI probe into AAP appointment

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Outgoing Lieutanant-Governor (L-G) of Delhi, Najeeb Jung, asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe the appointment of Soumya Jain, daughter of state health minister Satyendar Jain, as advisor to the mission director of the Delhi State Health Mission. Jung alleged that it was a case of “nepotism” saying that she came from an architectural background and had no experience in the health sector.The letter, accessed by DNA, was written to the CBI by the vigilance department of the Delhi government on December 22, the day Jung resigned. It states that the L-G has directed the matter to be referred to CBI for a detailed investigation into the irregularities in the appointment of Soumya Jain.Incidentally, Soumya, 26, was at helm of AAP’s mohalla clinic project in Delhi and was also allegedly given a huge office and staff in the Delhi secretariat.”The selection process in the government cannot be reduced to favouritism and it must offer opportunity to all concerned to apply and compete so as to attract the best talent around. The recruitment process in the government or government owned/controlled bodies must be with the tune with Article 14 of the Constitution,” the letter stated.The development is expected to further escalate confrontation between the Delhi and central governments.Satyendar Jain has defended Soumya’s appointment. When she resigned in July, the health minister had said that her daughter was not being paid any money for the job. He also stated that she had skipped her admission to IIM Indore earlier this year and chosen to work for the Delhi government instead.The letter further states that an “advisor can influence the decision of the government with the consequential bearing on finances and hence the selection process needs to be neutral”.During an inquiry, the L-G’s office found that Soumya’s appointment was in response to her request and not as a result of selection through an open and transparent process. “She offered her services without any financial consideration. The information furnished by the administrative department, however, reveals that an amount of Rs 1.15 lakh was spent on her tour and training,” the preliminary inquiry stated.Soumya had participated in a state-sponsored leadership development programme for senior management in the health sector conducted at IIM-Ahmedabad in June this year. She was the only non-medico who participated in the programme aimed at improving management efficiency in Delhi government hospitals. The rest were all doctors, who head different medical institutions run by the government.The letter also states that the proposal regarding “her appointment is silent about the existence of the post of the advisor to Mission Director at the relevant time”. Soumya was appointed on April 18, 2016, in response to her application dated April 1, 2016. Interestingly, the mission director gave approval on May 10, 2016. She had resigned in mid-July this year after allegations of nepotism in her appointment were levelled against the AAP government.

Get in line: Friday is your last chance to deposit old Rs 500, 1000 notes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The 50-day deadline to deposit the old Rs 500/1,000 notes in banks comes to an end on Friday but the cash crunch and queues before ATMs are likely to continue for some more time as currency printing presses have failed to meet the huge demand for new bills.People, however, will still have time to exchange the currency notes at designated RBI counters till March 31 after giving valid reasons for not depositing defunct notes in their accounts by December 30.The government is also planning to come out with an Ordinance making possession of old Rs 500/1,000 notes beyond a specified limit for numismatic purposes illegal and punishable.Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a surprise announcement on November 8 declared the old Rs 500 and 1,000 notes invalid.The banks started accepting deposits in scrapped notes from November 10. However, a very few ATMs opened on November 11, as most of the machines had to be recalibrated, for people to get cash which was available in Rs 2,000 denomination.Saddled with cash crunch, banks resorted to rationing of valid currency notes and fixed a withdrawal limit of Rs 24,000 per account in a week. Although the overall situation at banks has improved, ATMs still have to do some catching up. Many cash vending machines are still out of cash even after 50 days since demonetization.The government move was sharply criticised by the Opposition parties led by Congress and TMC. With every passing day, the number of circulars from the government or the Reserve Bank kept on rising that led to confusion among bankers as well as the public.Bankers believe that restrictions on withdrawal of cash from banks and ATMs are likely to continue beyond December 30.After the demonetization, the government had fixed a limit of Rs 24,000 per week on withdrawal from bank accounts and Rs 2,500 per day from ATMs in view of the currency crunch.The government and the RBI has not specified when the restrictions will be withdrawn. Finance Secretary Ashok Lavasa had said the withdrawal cap would be reviewed after December 30.

Congress rattled at prospect of govt going after illegal money: Venkaiah Naidu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Accusing Congress of trying to “tar” the government’s image by calling demonetization a scam, Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday said the note ban move was an “anti-scam vaccine” but the opposition party is rattled at the prospect of the government going after illegal money.The I&B minister said the inconvenience that has been caused because of shortage of currency notes would decline further in January and the situation would rapidly improve thereafter.Naidu said that the government was trying to usher in cleanliness in all aspects of the society and this massive exercise is a form of ‘yagna’ and there could be inconvenience. “Some asuras are always trying disturb the peace during the yagna. But this Prime Minister is determined, he wants to make this transformation of India a reality,” he told reporters in New Delhi.
ALSO READ Congress should introspect its contribution to ills like corruption and black money: BJPNaidu said that while critics had claimed that Narendra Modi had mounted a tiger, he also knows how to dismount a tiger as he had done so many times in the past.He said that the Prime Minister has provided a “scandal-free government” in the last two-and-a-half years as per the mandate of 2014 and demonetization was a part of a grand strategy to usher in transparency.Demonetization was an “anti-scam vaccine introduced by the Prime Minister to prevent scams from taking place, to curb corruption and black money generation”, he said.He claimed that Congress and its friends are making baseless allegations and are “rattled by the prospect of the government going after those who made illegal deposits in banks and bought benami properties”.Claiming that politics of “spit and run” will not work, Naidu said that the government will not be distracted by “diversionary tactics.” “It will only further strengthen the resolve of the government to trace every trail of corruption over the last seven decades,” he claimed.Naidu also emphasised that the government aims to catch unscrupulous people who have tried to misuse the system and that legitimacy of big deposits will be scrutinised. The minister stressed that the government will not rest till the last rupee in black money is accounted for. Attacking Congress, Naidu said that while the party was claiming that demonetization was benefiting only the 1% who are rich, it should answer on why 99% people continue to be poor despite its long rule. He said that during the last one year, the government has initiated a series of steps aimed at benefiting the common man.The minister said that scandal-free governance, effective inflation management, increased FDI, enhanced pace of infrastructure creation, stepped up economic growth rate despite adversities, financial inclusion, transparent resource allocation, increased accountability and transparency in governance, positive macro-economic parameters among others have been the major outcomes of the efforts of the Modi dispensation in the past two-and-a-half years.On the tourism front, he said that there has been a notable growth in the comparative figures of foreign tourist arrival (FTA), foreign exchange earning (FEEs) and online sale of e tickets after demonetization.Regarding the agriculture sector, Naidu said that despite apprehensions about demonetization adversely impacting Rabi sowing, the overall sowing across the country surpassed 573.42 lakh hectares, which is higher than the average sowing area for the last five years. He said that Rabi sowing has increased by close to 6.37% this year.Referring to the railways, the minister said that earnings from cashless ticketing has increased 30% and the number of people booking reserved tickets online using credit and debit cards or online transaction which was at 58% in November, has now crossed 75%.Naidu also said that the prices of pulses were coming down while ease of doing business ranking improved from 142 to 130 at the global level.

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

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

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

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

Govt, BJP say the worst is over on demonetization front

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Within a fortnight of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement to ban high currency notes, several ministries in his government went into a tizzy tackling problems, particularly in labour-intensive sectors.However, the government now feels the storm has passed. The string of complaints and representations that came last month owing to cash crunch from various trade and industry bodies have slowed to a trickle, a senior union minister said. As the 50-day timeline sought by the Prime Minister, who had promised a “new India in the new year” nears its end, the central government and BJP are heaving a sigh of relief saying the “worst is over”.The BJP was hoping to cash in politically on demonetization and the Prime Minister’s assurance to fight black money. Some party MPs had expressed apprehensions about the impact of the inconvenience faced by people because of the cash crunch on the party in the forthcoming elections, particularly in Uttar Pradesh. Internal ground reports also indicated that demonetization would give the BJP an advantage. The party national executive is holding its meet, the last before assembly elections in five states, next week in the Capital. Ahead of the meet, Modi will be holding a rally in Lucknow.The government has indicated that various departments have received reports from the ground showing that things had started improving over the past fortnight and the story of demonetization woes was nearly over. While it was not entirely ruling out the flip side of its impact on the economy, it saw it as a temporary phase that was waning faster than expected, the sources said.One by one, the woes of various sectors because of cash crunch in the aftermath of demonetization had to be addressed, but the situation is now returning to normal, sources said, adding that the labour force which had migrated was getting back and the use of digital mode for transactions was picking up.The worst affected were around half a dozen labour intensive sectors including handloom, carpet weavers and metal pickers, where payments were made in cash.Worried that the cash crunch would hit farmers in the northern states, including poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, where the sowing of the rabi crop was just starting, the government had asked NABARD to ensure credit flow in rural areas in the end of November, sources said. The money flow into metropolitans was cut down to increase availability in rural areas.The government had also faced demands from the RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) to withdraw the decision to scrap import duty on wheat or give an assurance that the rabi crop would be bought at the prevailing MSP. Government sources said the move was aimed at avoiding any knee-jerk reaction in case of shortage of wheat and that import was not mandatory. It is understood that the government has given an assurance that the concerns would be kept in mind.

New draft proposal may pave way for India’s NSG membership, no such luck for Pakistan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> A new draft proposal circulated among Nuclear Suppliers Group member states early this month could pave the way for India to become a member of the elite club, but this is unlikely to happen before the end of the Obama presidency next month.The American push for India to become a full-fledged member of the NSG would now have to be pursued by the incoming Trump Administration as the outgoing Obama Administration is unlikely to fulfill its promise made to the Modi Government before its term expires January 20, informed sources said. A draft formula for NSG membership to countries like India and Pakistan that are not a signatory to the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was submitted by Rafael Mariano Grossi, the former NSG Chair, who prepared the report on behalf of South Korea, the current NSG chair.According to Arms Control Association (ACA), a Washington-based think-tank who has been a fierce opponent of India-US civil nuclear deal and India’s membership to NSG, the two-page draft formula proposes “nine general commitments” that non-NPT countries like India and Pakistan “would need to make” in order to receive the “fullest” atomic trading privileges. Slamming the draft proposal for “lowering the bar”, Daryl G Kimball of ACA observed that this could pave the way for India becoming a NSG member as it already fulfills all these nine criteria outlined in the draft proposal, which was informally discussed by NSG members in Vienna this month.Informed sources in the US Government told PTI that the current “time-line” does not ensure India’s membership under the Obama Administration, for which it had tried hard, but for the Chinese “resistance” in this regard.As such, India’s NSG membership, an unfinished agenda of the India-US relationship of the outgoing US President would now have to be taken up by his successor Donald Trump. While the civil nuclear deal was an initiative of a Republican Administration, George W Bush, the incoming Trump Administration has not made any public comment in this regard.The issue is, however, believed to have come up for discussion during the initial phase of contacts that top Indian officials have established with the presidential transition team. Revealing details of the nine-point formula for non-NPT States to become a NSG members, ACA says that interested countries should have implemented and have brought into force a clear and strict separation of current and future civilian nuclear facilities from non-civilian nuclear facilities in non-NPT applicant and have provided and maintain a declaration to the IAEA that identifies all current and future civilian nuclear facilities in non-NPT applicant.It seems applicant countries to have in force a safeguards agreement with the IAEA covering all declared civilian facilities in non-NPT applicant, and all future civilian facilities which the IAEA and non-NPT applicant determine are eligible for safeguards and have in force with the IAEA an Additional Protocol covering the identified civilian nuclear facilities, which together with a safeguards agreement, allows the IAEA to detect the diversion of safeguarded nuclear material and to ensure that safeguarded nuclear material is used exclusively for peaceful purposes.The draft-guideline seems a commitment from applicant countries not to use any item transferred either directly or indirectly from a NSG Participating Government or any item derived from transferred items in unsafeguarded facilities or activities, a commitment not to conduct any nuclear explosive test and a clear description of non-NPT applicant intentions plans, and policies in support of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty upon becoming a Participating Government.It also seems a commitment to support and strengthen the multilateral non-proliferation and disarmament regime by working towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons and enhancing the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and an understanding that due to the unique nature of the non-NPT Party applications, non-NPT applicant would join a consensus of all other Participating Governments on the merits of any non-NPT Party application.””The formula outlined in Grossi’s draft note sets an extremely low bar on NSG membership and its wording is vague and open to wide interpretation,” said Kimball, who is considered as a non-proliferation czar. “This formula would not require India to take any additional nonproliferation commitments beyond the steps to which it committed in September 2008…,” he wrote. “For example, the proposed criteria for membership would simply require that India or Pakistan describe their plan for separating civilian and military nuclear facilities, which is a step that does not necessarily guarantee civil nuclear technology transfers will not benefit the military sector, and it is a step India has already taken,” he alleged.According to Kimball, the draft proposals takes into consideration a hypothetical Indian opposition to Pakistan’s NSG membership, which is also pending before it. The draft note proposes that one non-NPT member state “should reach an understanding not to block consensus” on membership for another non-NPT member state. “However, Pakistan still has grounds to object to the formula outlined by Grossi because it would require Pakistan to meet the same criteria for membership but, to engage in civil nuclear trade with NSG states, would have to win a separate NSG exemption from the full-scope safeguards requirement,” Kimball said.While the draft formula is not country-specific, as it lays down the membership criteria for non-NPT States, Kimball notes “India could theoretically claim that it has already undertaken all of the steps necessary for membership, which could then lead to a decision on membership for India, while still leaving Pakistan in a different status.”

Congress should introspect its contribution to ills like corruption and black money: BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Hitting back at Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi over his criticism of demonetization, Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said the opposition party should “introspect” its contribution towards ills like corruption and black money.Attacking the Congress, the Union Information and Broadcasting minister said the the party which has ruled India for the maximum time should give answers as it has all along “patronised” black money and corruption.He said that as the Congress celebrates its Foundation Day and it is only appropriate that the issue of black money, corruption etc, are “haunting” it.Referring to Rahul’s comments earlier in the day, Naidu said that the Congress Vice president had expressed unwisely his “vicarious pleasure” over what he thought that note withdrawal is a big failure in terms of unearthing black money. “This clearly shows that his party is with those who all along lived by black money and corruption….One of the objectives of note withdrawal has been to see that high value currency notes reach the system.”Whatever does not reach banking system obviously could be taken as unaccounted for money. It does not necessarily mean that all the currency that reached the banking system is white money,” Naidu said.One would have known by now that December 30 is not the last day of efforts for unearthing black money, he added. Claiming that spit and run won’t work, Naidu posed five questions to Rahul and Congress. He asked them to explain whether they believe that there is no black money and corruption in the country and there was no need for any measures to tackle them?If Congress believes that there is a problem of black money and corruption, why did it’s governments not take effective measures against them, he asked. Naidu also asked why Congress government brought the Benami Property law before Parliament in 1988 but did not subsequently notified it? Why some major opposition parties are refusing to join hands with Congress in its anti-note withdrawal campaign? he asked Naidu asked.Why Congress Government didn’t act on Supreme Court s directive for setting up SIT on black money, was Naidu’s fifth question. Referring to Congress Vice President’s remarks earlier, Naidu claimed that “Rahul’s smile and body language today clearly indicated that there is not much of black money in the country.”Then why don’t you muster courage and openly say so if his party’s assessment is that there is not much of black money, Naidu said. Everyone knows the close link between black money and corruption, Naidu said adding that if Congress says there is no black money in our economy, obviously, there is no place for corruption in our system. “Is this the stand of the Congress?” he asked. Naidu said that Congress is in panic and trying to create confusion. He claimed that Congress is worried as nobody was taking Rahul seriously, whether it is the people, opposition leaders or his own partymen. That is why the opposition leaders’ distanced from the meeting, Naidu claimed.Naidu said that Congress and communists are disappointed as the people have continued to support the crackdown on black money. Only some political parties which have been beneficiaries of the loot appear to be shaken, he claimed.When asked about the demand by Mamata Banerjee and Rahul Gandhi that the Prime Minister should quit, Naidu said that it was people’s love that had made Modi the Prime Minister and not the pleasure of these opposition leaders. Asked about the criticism by opposition regarding the use of Ordinance route by the Government, Naidu said that Congress has itself issued hundreds of ordinances.Responding to another question about West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Naidu said that she should first set her house in order.He added that secularism has been made to mean talking about only the minority. He said what is happening in Bengal is “disturbing.”In a question related to the happenings at the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) Naidu said it was a wrong decision and therefore the government had taken appropriate steps.Attacking the Congress, he said that rather than asking questions to the government, it should explain why it encouraged such people.

Bombay High Court refuses to grant stay on Sunburn festival being held in Pune

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A vacation bench of the Bombay High Court on Wednesday refused to grant a stay against the ongoing Sunburn Festival being held in Pune district.Justice Girish Kulkarni refused to grant interim relief and posted the petition filed by one Dattatray Pasalkar to January 9. In his petition, the agriculturist who has a plot of land adjacent to the area where the Sunburn Festival is being organised by Percept Company, claimed there were several illegalities, including damage to environment because of excavation and cutting of trees. Further, it also alleged that festival organisers would be serving alcohol at the venue without proper permission for the same. With the area near the concert venue being forest land, there were also concerns raised about noise and air pollution, and disturbance in the area.However, the organisers refuted the claims made in the petition and argued that all necessary permissions were obtained to hold the festival. It also denied cutting of trees or excavation. Moreover, the petitioner had earlier moved a court in Pune, stating the same facts and seeking peculiar relief, which was rejected. Additional Government Pleader Pravin Sawant also informed the court that he had received oral instructions from the Collector and Tahsildar office stating that all necessary permissions had been granted to the organisers.Following this, the court took everything on record and refused to grant any interim relief. The festival, which is usually held in Goa, shifted venue this year to Pune and is being held between December 26 and 31. Over the next five years, it will be held at different locations in the state.

Anil Baijal to be Delhi L-G after Pranab Mukherjee accepts Najeeb Jung’s resignation

President Pranab Mukherjee, on Thursday, accepted the resignation of Najeeb Jung as Delhi Lieutenant Governor. Former Home Secretary, Anil Baijal is slated to replace him as the new administrator of the National Capital Territory, according to India Today TV.

In his career as a bureaucrat, Baijal, a 1969 batch IAS officer, has donned many hats.

A file image of Anil Baijal. News18

A file image of Anil Baijal. News18

He retired from the service in October, 2006 as Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India. While in that ministry, he was instrumental in the designing and roll-out of the  Jawahar Lal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) with federal grant equivalent of about Rs 60,000 crore, for improvement of infrastructure and provision of basic services in urban areas of India, according to his profile on IDFC group website, of which he is a non-executive chairman and an independent director. 

He has been the union home secretary in the NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The former bureaucrat  has also been the vice-chairman of the Delhi Development Authority and had headed key public sector companies like Prasar Bharti and Indian Airlines.

In a sudden move, Jung had submitted his resignation on 22 December, ending a nearly three-and-half-year-long eventful tenure, mostly marked by bitter confrontation with AAP government.

The 65-year-old Jung, a former 1973 batch IAS officer and former vice-chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia University, had assumed charge as Lieutenant-Governor of Delhi on 9 July, 2013.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 16:29 IST

Kashmir Reader: Newspaper printing again after ban lifted

The Kashmir Reader resumes publication after a government ban of nearly three months.

Demonetisation ordinance passed: Holding old notes a criminal offence post 31 March

The Cabinet today cleared promulgation of an ordinance to penalise persons holding demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes after 31 March, when the deadline to deposit these notes at the RBI window ends.

As per the ordinance named the Specified Bank Notes Cessation of Liabilities Ordinance, holding these notes after 31 March deadline would be a criminal offence.

According to government sources cited by CNBC-TV18, those who hold old notes after 31 March is likely to face 4-year jail term and also those who transact in old notes is likely to face a penalty of Rs 5,000.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

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

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

A PTI report citing sources in the government said the ordinance is being brought as it was found to be necessary to prevent future litigations against the government for junking Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.

Seeking to prevent harassment and any ambiguity, a proviso would be added to ensure that certain category of people can still deposit the old notes in RBI branches between 31 December and 31 March next, said the report.

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

While the facility to exchange the old notes has since been withdrawn, depositors have time till Friday to deposit the holding in their accounts.

With PTI

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 13:04 IST

Scrap cash withdrawal limit, reveal how much black money recovered post demonetization: Rahul to Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Upping the ante on the government’s demonetization drive, Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sacrificed the common man in ‘yagna’ against black money.He further said that demonetization ‘yagna’ is aimed at benefiting the rich.Addressing the media on the party’s foundation day, Rahul demanded that PM Modi must reveal the amount of BlackMoney recovered since demonetization.Here are the demands made by Rahul Gandhi# Modi has performed demonetization yagna for 50 families. Many people have suffered and for this loss, government should give compensation.# Modi should reveal how much black money recovered post November 8, how much economic loss nation suffered and how many people lost their lives.# Government should come out with list of those who deposited more than Rs 25 lakh in their accounts before demonetization.# Restrictions on withdrawals must be lifted now. It is taking away the financial independence of the people.# PM must explain how he will he compensate farmers who are affected the most by demonetization.# Farmers have been hit the most, PM should waive off their loans and give bonus at 20% MSP. # A sum of Rs 25,000 should be deposited in the account of every woman of a BPL family that has suffered post demonetization.# Double MNREGA wages and Income Tax and Sales Tax rebate for small businessmen and shopkeepers.

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

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

Demonetisation countdown to day 50: Banks want cash curbs to stay beyond 30 Dec

Banks have asked the government to extend the curbs on cash withdrawal beyond the deadline of 30 December as there is not enough currency notes in the system yet to meet the demand from customers.

After the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes 8 November, there has been a cash crunch in the country as printing of replacement notes at the government and RBI-owned presses have not been able to keep pace with the demand. The demonetisation had sucked out about 86 percent of the currency in circulation.

In order to help banks, the government had restricted the withdrawal at Rs 24,000 per account per week from the branch and Rs 2,500 per card at ATMs. According to a report in The Indian Express, now the banks want the curbs to stay until there is sufficient currency notes available in the system. The government had earlier indicated that the limits will be revoked after 30 December, when the deadline for depositing old currency notes with banks ends.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The report says there is a growing consensus among bankers that the restrictions would have to continue even in the New Year so as to maintain orderly working at the banks. According to a banker quoted in the report, these restrictions are necessary as otherwise the public might flock to the ATMs and banks to withdraw cash, while there is no currency notes available. “That will become a problem,” the banker has been quoted as saying in the report.

The Indian Banks’s Association (IBA), however, has said it has not given any written representation to the government on this.

Earlier PTI haad reported that the restrictions are likely to continue beyond 30 December.

Banks at many places are not in a position to disburse even the current limit of Rs 24,000 per week due to cash crunch and are rationing the valid currency depending on cash availability. If this limit is withdrawn for individual and businesses from 2 January, it is unlikely that banks would be able to disburse the higher demand for valid currencies given the current cash position.

“Most of us think that the withdrawal limit would not be completely withdrawn. It is a possibility that it could be relaxed if the cash situation improves,” said a senior public sector bank official.

At a time when banks are struggling to meet the demand of individual customers, it would be impossible to service MSME and big corporates which requires cash in large quantity, the official said, the practical way would be to relax it gradually.

Recently, SBI Chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya had also indicated that restriction on withdrawals cannot be lifted entirely unless more cash is made available to banks.

After the demonetisation of high value Rs. 500/1000 notes, the government has fixed a limit of Rs. 24,000 per week on withdrawal from bank accounts and Rs. 2,500 per day from ATMs in view of the currency crunch that followed.

The government and the RBI has not specified when the restrictions will be withdrawn. Finance Secretary Ashok Lavasa had said the withdrawal cap would be will be reviewed after December 30.

Even bank unions are also of the opinion that the restrictions cannot be done away with in one go.

All India Bank Officers’ Confederation (AIBOC) General Secretary Harvinder Singh had also said that in all likelihood the restriction on withdrawal would continue for some more time in the best interest of banks as well as customers at large.

The situation of currency supply is known to everyone and it would be difficult to lift the limit from January 2, Singh said, adding that SME and small businesses are waiting for cap to go so that they can withdraw as per their requirement.

Reserve Bank of India has infused Rs. 5.92 lakh crore in the banking system between November 9 and December 19 against Rs. 15.4 lakh crore of scrapped notes.

According to RBI, banks had got deposits of Rs. 12.4 lakh crore defunct notes by December 10.

(With PTI)

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 10:03 IST

Demonetisation is only part of clean-up of economy: Bibek Debroy tells Firstpost

Much before economists like Jagdish Bhagwati and Arvind Panagariya weighed in favour of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policies as Gujarat chief minister, Bibek Debroy stirred a hornets’ nest by praising the Gujarat development model. Debroy was then working in the Congress’ think tank — Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Contemporary Studies. Needless to say, Debroy had to quit. But that did not stop him from speaking his mind. Debroy drew close to Modi prior to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and played a critical role in shaping up his economic policies. He was drafted as a member of the Niti Aayog after the extinction of the Planning Commission. In the mean time, he was tasked with reviewing the functioning of the Indian Railways.

At the moment, Debroy wears many hats — one of them as a defender of demonetisation. He has been valiantly defending the government’s move to make currency notes of the denomination of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 illegal tender. He says that it is just a beginning to clean up the entire economic ecosystem. In a wide-ranging interview, Debroy explains the rationale and long-term impact of the move.

Here are some edited excerpts:

Since the demonetisation drive is coming to a close, can you explain for us the objectives, benefits and travails that the exercise entailed? As an economist and policy analyst, how do you sum it up?

One should not look at 8 November (the date on which Modi declared currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 as illegal tender) in isolation. The reason I am mentioning this is because there are various other things that have happened outside 8 November and will continue to happen outside 8 November. And the day should be considered from this broader perspective. Let me give some example of that. The creation of this new black income and I am deliberately using the phrase ‘black income’ because we are talking about specifics. And there is wealth which from an economist’s point of view is stock, and there is income which is of flow.

So far as the issue of creating fresh black income is concerned, 8 November was not meant to address that. There are other instruments to take care of that, like negotiating and re-negotiating agreements with Mauritius. This has already happened. Take for instance the restriction on cash transactions above Rs 20,000. Take something like the Real Estate Bill, which among other things promises that it would transform the real estate sector from unorganised to organised. It will not happen overnight but over the period of time. The prime minister has already indicated that many such measures will be introduced. And remember in the background of this the income declaration scheme has already happened.

File image of Bibek Debroy. Image credit: Forbes India

File image of Bibek Debroy. Image credit: Forbes India

There was a greater scrutiny of people who might have had black income. So when people are criticising the demonetisation it should be understood that there are other measures which are meant to check the creation of new black income and nobody is saying that this is the only way all the issues can be addressed.

Let’s take a new target and let me define the term ‘black’. There are two different uses of the term black. They are not quite the same. The first is when the activity is illegal like crime or drugs. The other type of black is when the activity is not illegal. So the income generation is perfectly illegal but the tax that ought to be paid was not paid. Nobody is denying that black exists in non-cash forms like gold or property. There are instruments that have been introduced to tackle this and will continue to be introduced. Just because the substantial part of this black income is in other forms does not mean that it (the matter of black cash) should not be addressed.

Let’s take the third point. In India, cash is used substantially. And it is obvious as India is not a developed country. No one is expecting the use of cash in India to disappear overnight. But look at the ratios. The GDP-cash ratio in India even till last year was 13 percent. Some 15 years ago it was nine percent. Someone needs to explain how this ratio increased from nine percent to 13 percent. Even if I assume that we need cash, it should be understood that when a country develops, the use of cash reduces. Then how and why did we witness this increase?

I look at countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. What is the GDP-cash ratio in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka? It is five percent or three percent. Even in Pakistan, it is nine percent. So let us accept that there is too much cash around. Let us also accept that there have been deliberate compulsions to use cash. Take for example the Payment of Wages Act. Section 6 of the Act, which has been there for years, has said you must pay wages in cash unless you have concurrence from the employee not to do so. Who will do so? Why should we have such a rule in this age? It is only now that things have changed; it should have been done years ago.

And take for instance the high fees on non-cash modes. Someone should have objected to the rates they charge. So let us also recognise that there have been disincentives not to use cash. Let us also remember that Jan Dhan Yojana accounts have already been made. So we have now more than 260 million accounts and many have RuPay cards. But sadly for them it is just a piece of plastic that will be used at ATMs as they have not been still educated and convinced that these RuPay card can be used for something else also.

Someone will come along and say, “Look at the unbanked population in India” and add that he doesn’t believe in Jan Dhan figures. So my response is that you shouldn’t believe in these figures. But here is the survey conducted in August — not by the government, but by a private institution, and it states that 97 to 98 percent of both rural and urban populations have bank accounts. Now, if one says that all of them are not using bank accounts, I may agree. But don’t say that they don’t have bank accounts.

How much exactly do the currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 account for in the economy? And how much of it have we got back?

There is a lot of confusion around as people are using two different bases. One is the RBI balance sheet figure which is slightly old and which puts the number at Rs 14 lakh crore. The other one is the figure on 8 November. It is the latest figure and it puts the number at almost Rs 16 lakh crore. Let’s stick to the Rs 16 lakh crore base. Now out of this how much was black? How much is going to come back into the system? To the best of my understanding, no one in the government has predicted or projected anything.

How much has already come in? We don’t really know. There are all kinds of figures floating around. These figures may not always be final.

Let’s take the example of fake currency. The fake currency check goes through three different layers. Once it has gone through all three it is very unlikely that it will be deposited in the banking system. But today when you are looking at the figures it is perfectly possible that fake currency was deposited earlier. Alternately, you go and take old notes at petrol pumps. It may be showing up in the accounts that petrol pumps maintain with the bank. It may also be showing up with the report that BPCL is giving to the government. So until the figures are final, one really does not know.

But the last figure I have is Rs 12 to 12.5 lakh crore. Which means, I personally think, that most people who were going to deposit it have already done so. Even if I accept that Rs 14 lakh crore comes in by the end of the month, the remaining Rs two lakh crore is not the indicator of success. A lot of criticism is happening that only Rs two lakh crore will be left. To the best of my knowledge, no one in the government has said that it is the criterion of success. And that’s because the money that is coming to the system has not become white. It will invite taxes and penalties if required and will have deeper scrutiny. Just because it is in the banking system does not mean it is legitimate.

I mentioned earlier that people who are holding cash are being dissuaded to do so. So it is good that it comes into the system. I think it is a success as people are realising that this initiative is a serious one. So there is not much point in my hanging on to cash. To my understanding, it is an attempt at cleaning up the entire system. So if I look at it narrowly just from an economist’s point of views, I am missing the true picture. This is the beginning of an attempt to clean up the gold market. I am not talking about jewellery market, which is different. It is also an attempt to clean up the financing of capital market transactions and real estate. And also, one has got electoral reforms as part of the debate agenda.

I am not saying that something substantial has happened, but it is part of the discourse. It should be seen as part of the broader process. You can dispute the survey figures. One survey says that 60 percent of the people are supporting you, another says that 80 percent back you. What you find across all surveys is that a large number of people are supporting the measure and it is because, I feel, they have realised that 8 November was just a small piece in the process.

My last point is when you are doing something like this you can plan perfectly. But when you do plan perfectly, it becomes impossible to preserve secrecy. To preserve secrecy, I may take some decisions, you in the same position may take some other decision. It cannot be the case that my decision will be perfect as I may not be able to assess all eventualities. But if you are in my place, you might also take decisions that might not have been perfect.

Obviously, there was inconvenience.

Let me divide it into different parts. One, the task was to get enough new notes to banks; two, naturally when there is a shortage there will be rationing. So in this scenario it is decided to take smaller denomination notes to rural areas; and three, it is one thing to get the notes to the bank and it is another to take it to ATMs. As a government you do not have much of control on how the banks take the money to the ATMs because it is outsourced. So there is a problem with banks and ATMs. I think, purely anecdotally as there is no data, that bank problem has decreased day-by-day even in Delhi and Mumbai. ATMs? Yes, there are still problems. I have no idea how long it will take.

From where did the word “windfall” gain currency in this entire exercise?

Right from the beginning, I have followed what the finance minister and the finance ministry have been saying. I have seen that there was a recognition that there are three different channels through which money will come. One is the money that does return. This reduces the liabilities of the RBI. When liabilities of the RBI are reduced that is not automatically the money that in any fraction has gone to or will go to the government. It is for RBI and finance ministry to take decisions. Today, sitting here we do not know how this part will be handled.

The second part is that there will be some money that will come into the banks, mostly public sector banks. It will ease their stressed assets problems and to that extent, it enables them to lend better. But again, the banks, even if they are public sector banks, are not the government. The third is the money that actually comes into the consolidated fund of India through taxes, penalties and other means.

Now I have two things to say on this. First, I have already mentioned the income declaration scheme. Over and above this, action has been taken by the income tax department. It has resulted in a lot of money coming in. Second, when I declare Rs 100 as additional income then those Rs 100 are not revenue to the government. Only the taxes and penalties are revenue to it. It is this money that the government can use for different purposes. How the government chooses to use it we will know partly on 1 February (Union Budget). I said ‘partly’ because we will not know the figure till the end of March, which is when the window shuts. As far as windfall gain is concerned, I don’t think the government has ever used this word.

When the prime minister announced demonetisation, he laid down certain objectives: Eliminating black money and fake currency, and tackling terrorist activities. But over time it seems that goalposts have changed.

No, I don’t think they have changed. There were multiple objectives. I will give you an example. On this issue, I have been giving interviews to different people. Somewhere, I would have said something to one person responding to specific questions and I would have said something different to another, but that does not mean that my focus changed. You see it is not a single objective. Lot of people are only referring to what the prime minister said after 8 Novembe. My request is that you look at what he has been saying earlier in his monthly radio broadcast Mann Ki Baat. This has been figuring in his speeches for quite some time. It is not fair to say that goalposts are changing.

Take the case of fake currency. I don’t think that the issue is absolute amount of fake currency. In 2014, the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) put the number at Rs 400 crore. There is an Intelligence Bureau (IB) figure of Rs 2,400 crore. It is not about what the exact value of fake currency is, but to understand that it does not take a lot of money for a terrorist attack with a lot of undesirable consequences. Even Rs 10 crore is good enough to cause enough damage. If I am destroying the counterfeit apparatus today there is no surety that it will not reappear in future. It has to be a continuous process.

So you are saying in a way that this talk of changing goalposts is not valid.

I think so. I have been listening to Modi. I think the most important objective here was to clean up the system.

Now the next strike in all probability will be on benami property. How do you think the government will be able to do this? How much impact will it have on real estate? Is there any assessment?

People have been complaining that real estate sector has been destroyed because of demonetisation. I ask what has been destroyed. Is it the value of the property? Is it the registered value of the property? There is a big difference between the two. Is it the black component or the white component? And the invariable reaction of anyone I speak to on this is that what has been destroyed is the black component. In Delhi, 50 percent of transactions use to be in black and 50 percent in white. Right now the system is in shock but I am certain that when it is stable, it will no longer be 50 percent black and 50 percent white. All of it may not go, but the amounts will reduce. Whenever the Goods and Services Tax (GST) is introduced, it will bring a lot more into the net. So it is part of the entire thing and not just 8 November.

The political part — the elections etc — requires a debate. It is not easy. And you have to also see that because of this a lot of poor people have started using non-cash means. So what I am seeing, though it is difficult to get it quantified, is that in many ways middle men are getting eliminated from the system.

How do you think it will impact the tax base?

Indirect tax will increase because of GST. There is a difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion. Tax avoidance is legal whereas tax evasion is illegal. So to broaden the direct income tax net, you need to take care of exemptions. Today, when a chartered accountant is not paying his taxes it is not always the case that he is evading. Rather he might have legitimate exemptions of which he can avail. I have a feeling that in future there will be a greater degree of enforcing that for certain transactions you cannot pay in cash. The segments that will be then made more accountable will be lawyers, chartered accountants and doctors.

There is another difficult issue that is linked to it: Taxing people in rural areas. Technically taxing agricultural income is a state subject but taxing non-agricultural income of the farmer is not a state subject. There is an issue there that is more about enforcement. So part of it is broadening the base, but also simultaneously ensuring that tax department, both direct and indirect, does not unnecessarily cause harassment to honest tax payers and I feel that we will see something on this line in the budget.

How do you react to reports of people illegally exchanging money? Do you feel that banks did not behave in the manner they were suppose to?

One of the channels that was misused quite a bit was exchange, which is really an RBI thing. I think there were three problems with banks. First, they were not very vigilant about the functioning of the ATMs. They were talking about whether the ATMs were calibrated, but I am talking about how many ATMs were working. Second, from the second day we knew from newspapers that bank officials, though they worked really hard, connived. How do we know that they connived? Because they have been caught. So there is a positive way also to look at this.

I am a little confused about the third as there is lack of information about it. There is a shortage of notes. When there is a shortage, there is a certain principle on which distribution is done. What is the principle that RBI follows in distributing notes to different banks and what is the principle that banks follow in distributing to different ATMs? I don’t have any information about this but I don’t think that this was done in a very rational kind of way. If a bank like SBI has many ATMs then the bank should have information on which ATM is used to what extent and the distribution should have taken place accordingly. Am I (as a bank) doing this with efficiency? I don’t think so.

Even in case of honesty, I am not very sure that it was very efficiently followed. But this is my analysis and is purely anecdotal. I often take this route between Khelgaon and Aurobindo Marg (in Delhi) and there are roughly 20 ATMs. Two days ago I found that 10 of them were working. If there is a general shortage then all should not be working. So I think it should be probed how they allocate money.

But there were so many news reports about how old currency was exchanged for a commission of 10 percent and 15 percent, which later came down to five percent.

If they have got less money, there is some destruction. There has been some tracking of this at aggregate level. Initially, when it happened, it was happening at 35 percent. It has not come down to five percent. It has come down to a 10 or 14 percent level. There is still destruction.

How do you react to the opinion emerging from the world around on demonetisation, some of them are calling it an ‘immoral act’?

I don’t understand what is immoral here. Let us get the principles clear.

Your money is in bank. No one said that you cannot use that money. All that has been said is that there is a limit on withdrawal.

You want to pay through cheque, you can do that freely. You do digital transactions, you are free to do that. So the first principle of criticism that I am being deprived of my property is factually incorrect. Please understand that someone who is based abroad does not know what is happening on ground here. They are forming their opinion on what you people are writing here in the Indian media.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 09:40 IST

Bihar provides 50% reservation in lower judiciary

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a historic move, the Bihar government has assented to provide 50% reservation to socio-economic weaker sections of the society in lower judiciary in the state.A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of the Bihar cabinet, chaired by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, on Tuesday and will come into immediate effect after a notification in this regard will be issued by the general administration department on Wednesday.The reservation will apply to the recruitment of subordinate judicial services (munsifs and magistrates) and superior judicial services (additional district judges and district judges), general administration department principal secretary Dharmendra Singh Gangwar said.At present, while there is no reservation in superior judicial services, there was 27% quota for SC/ST and EBC in subordinate judicial services.Gangawar said the move was historic as the Bihar government was trying to reserve 50% seats in subordinate and superior judicial services for the socio-economically backward classes for the last 25 years, but, the move was rejected by the Patna high court at least eight times.According to the statement, 21% seats will be reserved for EBC, 16% for SC, 12% OBC and 1% for ST. A horizontal reservation of 35% to women and 1% to physically challenged candidates, as per the provisions made in the seven resolves of Nitish, has also been provided for.Sources said, most states at present do not have reservation in the judicial services. The decision comes after the Supreme Court judgment in ‘Government of Bihar and others versus Dayanand Singh’ earlier this year, in which the court had permitted the state government to initiate the process of consultation with Patna high court and Bihar Public Service Commission despite upholding Patna high court’s decision quashing amendments relating to providing reservation in judiciary.Gangwar said the Bihar government has accordingly consulted the Patna high court and BPSC and then decided to provide 50% reservation in the two types of judicial services.According to the data available with the government, about 1,100 posts are vacant in lower judiciary.

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

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

Odisha: H5N1 strain of Avian Influenza Virus confirmed

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

Demonetization has destroyed terror funding and human trafficking: PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hitting back at Rahul Gandhi’s charge of helping big corporates and the rich, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his government is focused on working for the poor and asserted that demonetization has destroyed in one stroke black money, terror funding as well as human and drug trafficking. Targeting parties who are opposing the note ban, he claimed some people are upset as his decision has struck the “ring leader of thieves”. Addressing BJP’s ‘parivartan maharally’ in poll-bound Uttarakhand, Modi appeared to rebut Rahul’s charge when he said that while the UPA government’s move to raise the number of subsidised cylinders from 9 to 12 was projected as momentous, his government gave gas cylinders to five crore people below poverty line. “18,000 villagers were living in 18th century without electricity… in thousand days, we have electrified 12,000 villages. Work on remaining 6,000 is on. Is this working for rich or empowering the poor,” he said.With the decision to demonetize Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes, the black money stored in cupboards and under mattresses is now coming to banks and to the people, he said, adding he is fulfilling his duty of a ‘chowkidar’ (watchman) to get rid of black money and “dark hearts” which have ruined the country. “In some, corruption is in the blood. They used back door to convert the money and thought Modi cannot see.”But we knew and now they are being caught,” he said referring to various raids by law enforcement agencies on black money hoarders. Describing note ban as a “cleanliness drive”, he thanked the people for standing by him. He also said the move is aimed at empowering the people and to give them a bright future. “I am fighting to make the honest empowered,” Modi said adding that his November 8 decision has dealt a devastating blow to black money and terror funding. The decision is not being liked by some people as he has struck directly at the “ring leader of thieves” (choron ka sardar), the Prime Minister said. Referring to the demands for ‘One Rank, One Pension’ by personnel of the armed forces, Modi said the party and the family which has ruled the country for over 40 years did nothing on the issue till the eve of 2014 Lok Sabha elections.Uttarakhand is among the various states which sends thousands of youth to serve in the armed forces. He said ahead of the general elections, UPA allocated a mere Rs 500 crore “fearing that Modi, who has a special love for soldiers, may come up with something”. The PM said the OROP entails an expenditure of Rs 10,000 crore plus which his government readily gave in installments.He said the personnel understood his plight that giving the entire sum in one go was not possible and they agreed to take it in installments. Noting that development was his government’s only objective and he was working consistently towards that goal, he said the fight against corruption and black money launched on November 8 with demonetization was a step towards empowering the country’s honest people. “Did you give me the huge mandate in 2014 to cut ribbons and lighting ceremonial lamps only at inauguration ceremonies? “Didn’t you vote me to combat and end corruption. Shouldn’t we fight the evil with all our might?” he asked.

Kerala: 38 students injured after bus overturns in Kozhikode

Tue, 27 Dec 2016-04:02pm , Kozhikode , ANI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>At least 38 people were injured after a private bus of Attingal Government College turned turtle in Kerala’s Kozhikode on Tuesday.The untoward incident took place in the wee hours when the students were returning to their college from Mysore.The injured students were rushed to a nearby hospital for medical treatment. Two students have sustained serious injuries and are reportedly in a critical condition.Further details are awaited.

Demonetisation: Four things Narendra Modi should do to take the economy out of the mess

For the Narendra Modi government, which stormed into power in May 2014, to come out of the demonetisation mess unhurt isn’t an easy task. This is despite what it promises to achieve in the future –an economy free of black money, corruption and fake notes, and no matter how good the latter-stated objectives are (including a shift to a cashless economy). And certainly not in the manner it has gone about scrapping 86 percent of currency in circulation all of a sudden on the night of 8 November throwing the economy into a crisis. The consequences so far have been disastrous — corporate profitability has taken a hit, lakhs of jobs have been reportedly lost in the informal sector, consumer ability to spend has been curtailed, farmers affected as prices have crashed, services and manufacturing sectors have been impacted and there is skepticism globally on the rationale behind Modi’s currency ban.

Not surprisingly, both government and private forecasters are competing to show lower India GDP numbers for fiscal year 2017. The estimates range from 7.1 percent (Reserve Bank of India) to an extremely pessimistic 3.5 percent by Ambit Capital, a private brokerage firm.  The available data–advance tax payments by corporates, PMI numbers, auto sales and slowdown in service-oriented sectors confirm the fear of a deeper impact to the economy.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AFPPrime Minister Narendra Modi. AFP

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AFP

Most economists have ruled the third quarter as a miss, but the real danger comes if the cash crunch-woes spill over to the fourth quarter since then there will be a cascading impact in the economy.

According to data from Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), unemployment rates fell to less than 5 percent in the week of 27 November, but has since risen to 6.1 percent in the week of 4 December to 6.6 percent in the week ended 11 December and then to 7 percent in the week ended 18 December. The impact comes with a lag and we need to wait for fresh numbers.

Need of the hour

There are a few critical tasks before the Modi-government that should be done urgently:

First, refrain from populist, non-productive expenditures such as promising the poor that the gains on black money will be distributed to them and that farm loans will be waived. The government should focus on boosting the capital base of banks on an urgent basis so that bank credit flow to productive sectors doesn’t suffer, and sell off the loss-making banks or consolidate a few if there is synergy amongst them. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has a good opportunity in the 2017 Union Budget slated for 1 February to announce some bold measures to take the reform process ahead in the public banking sector.

Presently, state-run banks are severely undercapitalized and the problem is worsened with their non-performing assets (NPAs) hitting the roof (nearly Rs 6 lakh crore as on September, 2016 or nearly 8 percent of the total bank credit), and total chunk of stressed assets (bad loans and restructured loans together) jumping to 12-13 percent of the total bank credit. Under the government’s Indradhanush plan, of the Rs 1.8 lakh crore capital needed by banks under Basel-III, the government has offered to infuse Rs 70,000 crore over four years till 2018-19 and wants the government banks to fend for themselves for the remaining Rs 1.1 lakh crore from the market. This is not enough. Also, it is almost impossible that weak state-run banks will find takers. This compounds the problem. So far, there is not much progress on the reform front. That is why the government, the majority owner in these banks, will have to think about infusing them with higher chunks of capital and push the reform button.

Two, offer a fiscal boost to the economy by ramping up infrastructure spending. A section of economists agree that the economy is in need of a strong stimulus to get back on track. This is warranted because several layers of economy have taken a hit post-demonetisation. One of the expectations from the demonetisation exercise was to get a ‘windfall’ of Rs 4-5 lakh crore provided that kind of money doesn’t return to the system as black money hoarders run for cover. The government was expecting to garner around Rs 10 lakh crore of the Rs 15.44 lakh crore demonetized on 8 November. But, that hasn’t happened yet. This, coupled with the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) clarification that there is no possibility of a transfer of surplus from the central bank to the government on account of reduced currency liability, has ruled out any immediate tangible gains for the government. Instead, the exercise has resulted in considerable damage to the economy.

Third, Jaitley should also announce reliefs to both individuals and corporations in Budget 2017 by offering substantial direct tax reductions to tide over the difficult phase. This will work in three ways—to make India still an attractive destination for companies when US president-elect Donald Trump’s administration rolls out massive tax cuts, reverse the negative mood on account of the artificially imposed cash-crunch and put more money into the household kitty to keep the consumption story going. Corporate tax incentives should be over and above the ongoing plan to bring down corporate tax rates to 25 percent over a period and gradually remove exemptions. But this hasn’t found much appeal in the industry since the effective rate is only about 23 percent after exemptions. This is the reason the marginal tax cut in the last budget hasn’t received much response. The government will have to act to regain losing momentum by offering industry a temporary stimulus.

Fourth, it is even more critical now to resolve the cash crunch as fast as possible and bring things back to normalcy. The government can’t expect a miraculous shift to digital payments in a few months replacing a world of cash. Estimates are that 70 percent of the economy still transacts in cash. Pulling out 86 percent cash in one go in a country like India and then facing a cash shortage could be compared to an act of removing blood out of a healthy human body to filling it again with better quality blood, only to realize that there is not enough stock!

Until 19 December, the RBI has infused only Rs 5.92 lakh crore into the banking system as compared with deposits worth Rs 12.44 lakh crore in old Rs 500, Rs 1,000 currencies. Of the total 22.6 billion pieces of notes of various denominations infused, only 2.2 billion belonged to higher denominations of Rs 2,000 and Rs 500. It is not clear how many of the 2.2 billion is in Rs 2,000 notes and how many are Rs 500 notes. Herein lies the problem. The ongoing cash crunch, according to bankers, is mainly due to shortage of the new Rs 500 notes. An end to the current cash crunch is possible only when there is enough Rs 500 notes coming out of the government mints.

But the tricky part for the Modi government will be to find the fiscal space to spend more simultaneously keeping the fiscal roadmap intact. It needs to meet a 3.5 percent fiscal deficit target for the fiscal year 2017. Given that demonetisation itself is unlikely to give any major fiscal boost, the only hope is for the taxmen to dig out substantial chunks of illegal cash from the system from the funds that reach bank accounts either through the black money declaration scheme or raids contributing to the exchequer. Handling a bigger budget, including that of the Railways, is another challenge. “There is a big monster called the Railway budget coming as part of the general budget this year. This can sharply spike numbers on the expenditure. How will the government handle the new situation is worth watching,” said Devendra Pant, chief economist at India Ratings and Research. The expected boost to tax kitty from more number of digital transactions will come, but only at the beginning of the next year.

The short point here is about balancing Union Budget 2017 with the much-required economic stimulus while keeping the fiscal deficit roadmap intact. This will be a trial by fire for the Modi-government.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 13:42 IST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With inputs from agencies

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

Father Thomas Uzhunnalil abduction: Sushma Swaraj responds to plea of Indian priest

On Tuesday, Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs responded to an appeal made by an Indian Catholic priest abducted from Yemen this year who through a video asked Pope Francis and the Union government to secure his release from his captors.

In a series of tweets on Tuesday morning, Swaraj said she has seen the video sent by Father Tom Uzhunnalil and that her department will spare no effort in securing his release.

In the video appeal, Father Uzhunnalil explained his deteriorating condition and sought help.

“If I were a European priest, I would have been taken more seriously. I am from India. I am perhaps not considered as of much value,” said priest Father Tom Uzhunnalil in a weak voice in the video, aired by news channels in Kerala.

“Dear Pope Francis, dear Holy Father, as a father please take care of my life. I am very much depressed. My health is deteriorating,” he said in the video, a day after Christmas.

Father Uzhunnalil, who looked very weak, appeared to be reading out from a text placed before him.

The veracity of the video, which was uploaded from YouTube and Facebook, could neither be independently verified nor was the period when it was shot known.

Father Uzhunnalil, who hails from Kerala, was abducted in March by terror group Islamic State which attacked an old-age home run by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in southern Yemeni city of Aden.

He claimed his captors have made many contacts with the Government of India — president and prime minister.

“I am very sad that nothing has been done seriously in my regard,” he said.

He said reports had said everything has been done to get his release, “but in reality nothing” has been done.

Father Uzhunnalil said a news reporter abducted in the Middle East was released as she was from France.

“I am from India and not considered. Dear people, I pray you all, ask you all, beg you all to do your might to help me to save my life. I need hospitalisation soon. Please come to my help quickly,” he said.

The Union government has said efforts are being made to secure Uzhunnalil’s release, but such attempts take time.

Earlier, Swaraj had informed Parliament that Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself has spoken to various countries through which contacts can be established in Yemen.

Swaraj had said it takes more time to secure release of people who are held captive and asked the MPs to keep “faith” in government’s efforts to trace the abducted priest.

With inputs from PTI

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 10:29 IST

Will spare no effort to secure Father Tom’s release from IS captivity, says Swaraj

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday said that she will spare no effort to secure the release of abducted Indian priest Father Tom Uzhunnalil.Swaraj’s reaction came after the Indian Catholic priest abducted from Yemen this year appealed to Pope Francis and the Union government through a purported video to secure his release from his captors.”I have seen the video from Fr Tom. He is an Indian citizen and the life of every Indian is most precious for us,” Swaraj said in a series of tweets.Stating that the government managed to secure the release of Father Alex Prem Kumar and Judith D’Souza, she added, “We have spared no effort and we will spare no effort to secure Father Uzhunnalil’s release from captivity.”In the video, aired by news channels in Kerala, Father Uzhunnalil said, “If I were a European priest, I would have been taken more seriously. I am from India. I am perhaps not considered as of much value.””Dear Pope Francis, dear Holy Father, as a Father please take care of my life. I am very much depressed. My health is deteriorating,” he said in the video.The veracity of the video, which was uploaded from YouTube and Facebook, could neither be independently verified nor was the period when it was shot known.Father Uzhunnalil, who hails from Kerala, was abducted in March by terror group Islamic State which attacked an old-age home run by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in southern Yemeni city of Aden.He claimed his captors have made many contacts with the Government of India — President and Prime Minister.External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had informed Parliament that Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself has spoken to various countries through which contacts could be established in Yemen.(With agency inputs)

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

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

Throwing Sheila under the bus? Congress demands probe into ‘Sahara Diaries’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Congress demanded an independent probe into the “Sahara diaries” in which names of former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and that of some other chief ministers also purportedly figure. “Whoever, whichever name is there should be investigated. There should be an independent probe into whosoever’s name is there. Why are you shying away from an impartial, independent probe?,” Congress spokesperson Jairam Ramesh told reporters.He said there should first be an investigation and in the course of which some names may prove to be wrong. Ramesh said action can be taken only after a probe. He also demanded an independent probe against all those BJP leaders who allegedly knew of the demonetization decision before the Prime minister announced it on November 8. He asked whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi would order an independent time-bound probe to ascertain whether there was any money laundering by certain BJP leaders and whether they were in the know of demonetization before it was announced.”Maximum Governance, Minimum Government”, “Maximum Drama, Minimum Governance” and “Maximum Publicity, Minimum Governance”, this is the motto of Narendra Modi,” he said, dubbing demonetization as a “complete failure” and an “unmitigated disaster”. He claimed that Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank, which had received Rs 500 crore deposits within two days of demonetization and asked why there was no probe into it.The Congress leader also asked who was Mahesh Shah, who had declared over Rs 13,860 crore under the income disclosure scheme, and asked whether some leaders were involved and whether any money laundering was being done at their behest.To a question on introduction of Benami Property Act and its implementation by the Government, Ramesh said the fight against corruption is a long drawn out fight.”It will require law; it will require tough executive action. Whatever steps the Government takes which we feel is going to be effective, will automatically get our support.”Any serious, well considered step and well thought out step to deal with corruption and black money will automatically be welcomed by us,” he said.”However, if Benami Property Act also becomes a gimmick like demonetization , then we are against it. demonetization has taught us, that economic policy is a serious business; these are serious issues which unfortunately the Prime Minister is unable to understand because his Governance philosophy is maximum headline minimum governance,” he said.The Congress leader said, “We are not North Korea, we are not Venezuela. We are not disintegrating Soviet Union. We are not a bankrupt Mynamar. We are an economy that is growing at 7-1/2 per cent per year and no economist in his right mind would ever recommend demonetization to an economy that is growing at that rate. demonetization has been an unmitigated disaster.”

Demonetization: Delhi govt to adhere to Centre’s orders on electronic payments

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi government has asked all its departments to make electronic payments to suppliers, contractors and institutions if the order value exceeds Rs 5,000.The Finance Department of the Delhi government has issued an office memorandum deciding to implement the recent order of the Union Finance Ministry in this regard to promote e-payments. In the memorandum, the department has asked that payments should be made to contractors, suppliers and institutions through Real-Time Gross Settlement Systems (RTGS), National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT) and Electronic Clearing Service (ECS). “It has been decided to implement the instructions (of the Union Finance Ministry)…in the departments, autonomous institutions, public sector undertakings and Corporations of Government of NCT of Delhi.”Accordingly, all payments to the suppliers, contractors, grantee/loanee institutions etc. above Rs 5,000 may be made through electronic mode i.e RTGS, NEFT and ECS with immediate effect,” the Finance Department said in the memorandum. The city administration’s move comes in line with the Centre’s decision to promote digitisation of payments following the announcement of demonetization of 500 and 1,000 rupee notes on November 8.Earlier this month, the Centre had lowered the threshold for making such payments from Rs 10,000 to Rs 5,000, a move that was aimed at attaining the goal of complete digitisation of government payments.

Delhi govt to make digital payments for transactions above Rs 5,000

New Delhi: The Delhi government has asked all its departments to make electronic payments to suppliers, contractors and institutions if the order value exceeds Rs 5,000.

The Finance Department of the Delhi government has issued an office memorandum deciding to implement the recent order of the Union Finance Ministry in this regard to promote e-payments.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

In the memorandum, the department has asked that payments should be made to contractors, suppliers and institutions through Real-Time Gross Settlement Systems (RTGS), National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT) and Electronic Clearing Service (ECS).

“It has been decided to implement the instructions (of the Union Finance Ministry)…in the departments, autonomous institutions, public sector undertakings and Corporations of Government of NCT of Delhi.

“Accordingly, all payments to the suppliers, contractors, grantee/loanee institutions etc. above Rs 5,000 may be made through electronic mode i.e RTGS, NEFT and ECS with immediate effect,” the Finance Department said in the memorandum.

The city administration’s move comes in line with the Centre’s decision to promote digitisation of payments following the announcement of demonetisation of 500 and 1,000 rupee notes on 8 November.

Earlier this month, the Centre had lowered the threshold for making such payments from Rs 10,000 to Rs 5,000, a move that was aimed at attaining the goal of complete digitisation of government payments.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 15:22 IST

Delhi: Wazirpur schools’ issues brought to govt’s notice

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Directorate of Education (DoE) organised yet another School Management Committee (SMC) Sabha on Sunday, involving government schools located in the Wazirpur Vidhan Sabha constituency.SMC members, comprising parents, social workers and principals of the government schools in Wazirpur, assembled at the Government Girls Senior Secondary School (GGSSS) in Ashok Vihar to share their grievances with the government officials. The officials from the Public Works Department (PWD), Delhi Jal Board (DJB), Delhi Police, the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM), and the Deputy Director (Education), were invited to reply to queries put forth by the SMC members.”Through these meetings, parents, students, and the school administration community are provided a one-on-one platform to discuss and resolve their problems as a team,” said Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Rajesh Gupta. The common problems ranged from shortage of teachers, water supply, electricity connection, parking, and renovation and maintenance of schools. “RO systems were promised in our school a year ago but not even one has been installed. A new hall was built but its tiles have started to come off. We also have a fire system in our school but no one knows if it works,” complained a member of the Bharat Nagar School SMC.Students also put forth their problems, such as shortage of water during the evening shift, the huge amount of home work, no facilities at computer laboratory, and lack of sports equipment. “Sometimes, we don’t even have water to wash hands. We also want some clubs in the school, so that we can show our teamwork and leadership qualities,” said Amit Kumar, a student of GBSSS, Phase II, Ashok Vihar.Meanwhile, the SHO promised more vigilant patrolling close to schools during the closing hours. The PWD gave timelines regarding minor repairs in schools. Filtering of drinking water and maintenance of ROs emerged as a major issue of concern for all schools, for which the PWD would be issuing guidelines soon. SMC Sabha is a unique model of governance devised by the AAP government to bring multiple stakeholders together to cut down on bureaucratic coordination hurdles. The model has increased accountability of officials, not just to their seniors but also to people at large.

PM Modi reiterates govt’s move to push cashless economy, unveiled two schemes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Reiterating his government’s push for moving towards a cashless economy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled two schemes—Lucky Grahak Yojana and Digi Dhan Vyapaar Yojana—during 2016’s last Mann ki Baat, his radio talk, on Sunday. These schemes will reward consumers and traders for making e-payments and using digital transactions through a lucky draw.Reminding the nation that Jesus not just served the poor but also appreciated the service done by poor, Modi said: “This is real empowerment.” As a Christmas gift, the PM said as many as 15,000 people will receive rewards of Rs 1,000 each over the next 100 days. To be eligible, consumers and traders will have to use mobile banking, e-banking, RuPay cards, Unified Payments Interface and USSD modes of payment.”These schemes have been designed keeping all sections of society in mind, with a special focus on the poor and the lower middle-class segments. Therefore, only those who make a purchase worth more than Rs 50 and less than Rs 3,000 will benefit,” said Modi.The Prime Minister lavished praise on the people for the encouraging response to the Centre’s push for cashless transactions in its fight against black money. “During the past few days, cashless transactions or cashless trading has increased by 200-300 per cent,” he said.Modi also spoke about other incentives for traders using digital payment modes. “Those businessmen who adopt digital transactions, and those who develop online payment process instead of cash transactions in their trade activities will get Income-Tax (I-T) rebate,” he added.During his talk, Modi also sought to justify the Centre’s frequent rule changes for deposit and exchange of old currency notes following demonetization. “This government is for the people. The government continuously endeavours to take feedback. What are the areas of difficulty? What are the rules that are creating hindrances? And what are the possible solutions? This government, being sensitive towards the common man, amends rules as required, keeping the convenience of the people as its foremost consideration, so that citizens are not subjected to hardship,” said Modi.Responding to letters written by citizens detailing their hardships and suggestions, the PM said that he appreciate the pains they are taking, calling them the “real agents of change” and “pioneers of transformation”.Referring to the multiple raids by the I-T department to recover hoarded new currency, the PM said: “I offer my heartiest salutations to my dear countrymen for one very remarkable thing. These days you must be seeing on TV and newspapers everyday that many new people are being taken into custody, currency notes are being seized, and raids are being carried out. Influential persons are being caught. How have all these been made possible? Should I let out the secret? The secret is that my sources of such information are the people themselves.”

PM Modi eyeing BMC polls, misled people about Rs 1.06 lakh crore Mumbai projects: Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid foundation stones for projects worth over Rs 1.06 lakh crore in Mumbai, Congress today alleged that he “misled” about the cost of the projects which was actually much lower.”The PM announced various projects with an eye on civic polls including several Metro projects the cost of which is not more than Rs 44,000 crore,” Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam said.”By saying the total cost of projects is over Rs 1 lakh crore, the PM has lied and the statement was made only with an eye on the coming BMC polls,” he said.BJP-led Maharashtra Government had no concrete plan of action nor had it arranged funds for the projects, he said. Nirupam also said that police’s action against Congress workers yesterday created “an atmosphere of terror”. Congress workers had no plans to disrupt the PM’s rally at BKC (Bandra-Kurla Complex) but the police detained them on Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s orders, he alleged.Modi laid foundation stones for many key infrastructure projects worth over Rs 1.06 trillion in the megapolis, including the country’s longest sea-bridge and two Metro lines. “Developmental works of over Rs 1.06 trillion are getting started in a single city at a single event. This will be a big milestone in the city’s history,” the Prime Minister said at his rally. PTI MM KRK

Double standard over Dalit icons: Mayawati slams BJP over Rs 3600 crore Shivaji statue

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) on Sunday alleged the Narendra Modi government of double standards, saying that at one end Shivaji statue is getting worth Rs. 3,600 whereas statues of schedule caste and OBC are being criticised for being waste of expenditure. BSP supremo Mayawati in a statement said the double standards of the saffron party exposes the caste discriminatory attitude ‘Not against Shivaji Memorial worth Rs. 3,600 crore, but why are memorials of great OBC and Dalit leaders constructed by us being criticised” it added. According to the statement, the work done by the BSP government for great poets and writers have always been criticised by the past governments including Congress, BJP and Samajwadi Party.’These tactics used by BJP and Samajwadi Party will not be able to woo the people of Uttar Pradesh as they have exposed themselves,’ the statement added.This comes as Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday laid the foundation stone for the grand memorial of Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj on board a hovercraft in the Arabian Sea off the Mumbai coast.The main feature of the Shivaji memorial is that it costs Rs. 3,600 crore.The Maharashtra Government will fund the entire project and has already set aside Rs. 2,300 crore for the first phase of construction.

Christmas cheer: Pakistan releases 220 Indian fishermen as a goodwill gesture

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Pakistan released 220 Indian fishermen, a goodwill gesture which comes amid strain in ties after the recent cross border terror incidents. The 220 fishermen released from Malir jail were arrested for allegedly entering Pakistan’s territorial waters illegally and fishing, jail superintendent Hassan Sehto told PTI. The fishermen boarded a train to Lahore, from where they will be handed over to Indian authorities at the Wagah border.”The interior ministry ordered the release of the 220 fishermen while 219 are still in our custody,” Sehto said.The goodwill gesture comes amid strain in ties between the two countries after Pakistan-based terrorists attacked an Indian army base in Uri in September.Last week, the Pakistan fishermen forum claimed that Indian maritime authorities had picked up dozens of Pakistani fishermen from inside Pakistan’s territorial waters near the Gujarat coastline and taken them away, though the government has not responded to the claim so far.

Modi launches schemes to boost cashless economy: Full text of 2016’s final Mann Ki Baat

Vowing to carry forward the war against corruption and black money post-demonetisation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said the government will soon operationalise a strong law to effectively deal with ‘benami’ properties and this was just the beginning.

Making his last monthly address this year in his “Mann ki Baat” programme, he defended the frequent changes in the rules of demonetisation, saying these have been done to reduce the people’s problems and defeat such forces who are out to thwart his government’s fight against black money and corruption. While on one hand, Modi noted the hardships faced by the common man due to the cash crunch, he also defended his government’s move and reiterated the benefits of a cashless economy.

The Prime Minister appeared hopeful that the nation will soon adapt to the digital mode of payment. With an eye on cashless economy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also unveiled two schemes — Lucky Grahak Yojana and Digi Dhan Vyapaar Yojana — for customers and traders alike to promote mobile banking and e-payments.

Here’s the English rendering of the full text of Prime Minister’s 2016’s final Mann ki Baat address.

My fellow countrymen, Namaskar, many felicitations and season’s greetings to you on the occasion of Christmas. Today is the day to give importance in our lives to service, sacrifice and compassion. Jesus had said – “The poor do not need our favours but our acceptance with affection.” In the Gospel According to Saint Luke, it is written that – “Jesus not only served the poor but also praised the service done by the poor,” and this is what real empowerment is. A tale associated with this incident is also very popular. It has been mentioned in that story that Jesus was standing near the treasury of a temple; many rich people came and donated bountifully; then a poor widow came and parted with only two copper coins. Now just two copper coins really do not amount to much. Thus it was natural that there was a lot of curiosity in the minds of the disciples gathered there. Then, Jesus declared that the widow was the greatest of those donors because while the others had donated substantially, that widow had given away all she possessed.

Today, 25th December, is also the birth anniversary of Mahamana Madan Mohan Malviyaji, who kindled resolve and self confidence in the psyche of the Indian people and gave a new direction to modern education. My most sincere and heartfelt tributes to Malviyaji on his birth anniversary. About two days ago, I had the opportunity to launch many a developmental work in Banaras, the sacred workplace of Malviyaji. I also laid the foundation stone of Mahamana Madan Mohan Malviya Cancer Centre in BHU at Varanasi. This Cancer Centre is going to be a boon for the people of not only eastern Uttar Pradesh but for the people of Jharkhand and Bihar also.

Today is also the birthday of Bharat Ratna and former Prime Minister Venerable Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ji. This country can never forget Atalji’s contributions. Under his leadership, the country proudly grew in stature in the field of nuclear power also. Whether in the role of a party leader, Member of Parliament, a minister or the Prime Minister, Atalji always established an ideal. I salute Atalji on his birthday and pray to God for his good health. As a party worker I had the privilege of working with Atalji. Many memories emerge before my eyes. This morning when I tweeted, I shared a video, in which you can see for yourself how as a small party worker one had the fortune of having affection showered upon him by Atalji.
Today, on Christmas Day, as a gift the countrymen are going to get the benefit of two schemes. In a way it is the beginning of two new schemes. Throughout the entire country, be it villages or towns, the educated or the illiterate, there is an atmosphere of curiosity as to what is cashless, how cashless business can take place, how can one make purchases without using cash! Everybody wants to understand and learn from each other. To encourage this trend, to strengthen mobile banking and to inculcate the habit of making e-payments, the Government of India is launching from today encouragement schemes for consumers as well as traders. To encourage customers, the scheme is ‘Lucky Grahak Yojana’ and to encourage traders the scheme is ‘Digi Dhan Vyapaar Yojana’.

Today, on 25th December, as a Christmas gift, fifteen thousand people will get rewards through a draw system, whereby each of the fifteen thousand winners will have one thousand rupees into their accounts and this will be not for today only; starting today this scheme will continue for the next 100 days. Everyday fifteen thousand people are going to receive rewards of one thousand rupees each. In the next 100 days, lakhs of families are going to receive crores of rupees as gift, but you will be entitled to this gift only if you make use of mobile banking, e-banking, RuPay Card, UPI, USSD – such means and methods of digital payment. The draw for rewards will be done based on your use of such digital payment methods. In addition, there would be a grand draw once every week for such customers in which the prize money will be in lakhs of rupees and three months later on April 14th, on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar, there would be a mega bumper draw where rewards would be in crores of rupees.
‘Digi Dhan Vyapar Yojana’ is mainly for traders and businessmen. Traders should adopt this scheme themselves and should encourage their customers too in order to make their business cashless. Such traders will also be rewarded separately and there would be thousands of these rewards. The traders will run their business activities smoothly and will also have an opportunity to win rewards. This scheme has been designed keeping all sections of society in mind, with a special focus on the poor and the lower middle class segments. Therefore only those will get its benefits who make a purchase worth more than 50 rupees but less than three thousand rupees. Those who make purchases of more than three thousand rupees will not be entitled to rewards under this scheme.

Even the poor people can use USSD on simple feature or ordinary mobile phones to buy and sell goods as well as make payments and thus all of them can also become prospective beneficiaries of this reward scheme. In rural areas too, people can buy or sell through AEPS and they can also win rewards. Many will be surprised to know that now there are about 30 Crore, i.e. 300 million RuPay Cards in India, out of which 200 million RuPay Cards belong to poor families which have ‘Jan Dhan’ accounts. These 300 million people can immediately become part of this rewards scheme. I have confidence that the countrymen will evince interest in this system and if you enquire from the young people around you, they would surely be aware of these things and on your asking will tell you about these. Come on, if there is a child studying in 10th or 12th standard in your family, he or she will also be able to teach you well about this. It is as simple as sending WhatsApp messages on the mobile.

My dear countrymen, I feel delighted to learn that the awareness about how to use technology, making e-payments, making online payments is spreading very fast. During the past few days, the cashless transactions, or cashless trading has increased by 200 to 300%. To give cashless trading a big impetus, Government of India has taken a very major decision. The business community, our traders can well comprehend how momentous this decision is. Those businessmen who adopt digital transactions, who develop online payment process instead of cash transactions in their trade activities will get Income Tax rebate.

I congratulate all the states and union territories, who have promoted this campaign in their own way. The Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Mr. Chandrababu Naidu is the head of a committee which is considering various schemes under this. However, I have seen that the governments also have initiated and implemented many schemes. I’ve been told that Assam Government has decided to grant a 10% discount on property tax and business license fee if payments are made through digital transaction. The branches of Grameen, that is, Rural Banks there getting 75% of their customers to make at least two digital transactions between January and March will get 50 thousands rupees rewards from the government. They have announced that under the ‘Uttam Panchayat for Digi-Transaction’, rewards of 5 lakh rupees will be given to villages doing 100% digital transaction till 31st March, 2017. Assam Government has decided to reward 5 thousand rupees to the first 10 farmers as ‘Digital Krishak Shiromani’, who will buy seeds and fertilizers entirely through digital payments. I congratulate Assam Government and also all those state governments who have taken such initiatives.

A number of organisations have also successfully carried out many experiments to promote digital transactions amongst the rural folk and poor farmers. I have been told that GNFC or Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers & Chemicals Limited, which primarily manufactures fertilizers, has installed a thousand PoS machines for sale of fertilizers for the convenience of farmers and in just a few days 35 thousand farmers were sold 5 lakh sacs of fertilizers on digital payment and this was accomplished in only two weeks! And the interesting fact is that compared to last year the fertilizer sales of GNFC have gone up by 27 percent.

Brothers and sisters, the informal sector occupies a major segment in our economy and in our pattern of life and mostly these people are paid wages for their labour and hard work in cash. They are paid their salaries in cash and we know that due to this, they are exploited also. If they are to receive 100 rupees, they get only 80 rupees, if they are to be paid 80 rupees, they are given only 50 rupees. They are deprived of facilities like insurance and those associated with health sector. But now the practice of cashless payment is being adopted; the money is being directly deposited into banks. In a way, the informal sector is getting converted into the formal sector, exploitation is coming to an end, the cut, which had to be paid earlier, has stopped now and it has become possible for the worker, the artisan, such poor persons to get their full amount of money. In addition, they are also becoming entitled to the other benefits due to them.
Our country is blessed with the maximum number of young people. Thus, we are favourably placed for using technology. A country like India should be ahead of everybody else in this field. Our youth have benefitted quite a lot from ‘Start-Ups’. This digital movement is a golden opportunity for our youth. They should impart to this as much strength as they can with their new ideas, technology and processes. But we must also connect with the drive to rid the country of black money and corruption with all our might.

My dear countrymen, I request every month before ‘Mann Ki Baat’ that you please give your suggestions, share your thoughts; and of the thousands of such suggestions received this time on MyGov, on NarendraModiApp, I can definitely say that 80 to 90% suggestions were pertaining to the war against corruption and black money, there was mention of demonetization. After I examined all the suggestions, I can say that these can macroscopically be roughly divided into three categories. Some have written in detail about people facing difficulties and encountering inconveniences. The other group of correspondents have stressed that this is such a good work being carried out for the welfare of the country, such a sacred task but they have also noted that in spite of this there are many scams being committed and new avenues of dishonesty are being explored. The third group is the one which has, while wholeheartedly supporting the action being taken, clearly stressed that this fight must be carried forward; corruption and black money must be completely destroyed and if this requires even more tough steps to be taken, those must be taken. We have many people writing this most emphatically.

I am thankful to the countrymen for helping me by writing these innumerable letters to me. Shriman Gurumani Kewal has written on MyGov – “This step of reigning in black money is praiseworthy. We citizens are facing some difficulties, but we are all fighting against corruption and we are happy that we are making a contribution in this fight. We are battling corruption, black money etc on the lines of Military Forces.” The sentiment behind Gurumani Kewalji’s text is being echoed in every nook and corner of the country. All of us are experiencing it. When the people face problems, undergo hardships, rare will be a fellow human being who will not empathise. I feel as much pain as you do. But when a task is taken up with a noble objective, to realise a lofty intent, with a clear conscience, the countrymen stay firm courageously amidst all these trials and tribulations. These people are the real Agents of Change, pioneers of transformation. I thank people for one more reason. They have not only braved hardships, but have also powerfully given a retort to those limited few who have been trying to mislead them.

So many rumours were spread, even the fight against corruption and black money was sought to be tainted with shades of communalism. Somebody spread a rumour that the spelling on the currency note was faulty, someone said salt prices had spiraled, someone proclaimed that the 2000 rupee note would also be withdrawn, even 500 and 100 rupee denominations notes were rumoured to be on their way out. But I have seen that despite rampant rumour mongering, citizens have stood firm with their faith intact. And not just that, many people came to the fore and through their creativity and intelligence, exposed the rumour mongers, brought out the falsity of the rumours and established the truth. I salute this great ability of the people also from the core of my heart.

My dear countrymen, I am experiencing one thing every moment. When a hundred and twenty five crore countrymen are standing by you, nothing is impossible. The people represent the will of the Almighty and their blessings become His blessings. I thank the people of this country and salute them for participating in this Mahayagya against black money and corruption with utmost zeal. It was my earnest wish that the ongoing campaign against corruption and black money, including the realm of political parties and political funding, be discussed extensively in the Parliament. Had the House functioned properly, there would have been comprehensive deliberation. Some people are spreading rumours that political parties enjoy all kinds of concessions. These people are absolutely in the wrong. The law applies equally to all. Whether it is an individual, an organisation or a political party, everyone has to abide by law and one will have to. People, who cannot endorse corruption and black money openly, resort to searching for faults of the government relentlessly.

Another issue which comes up is this. Why are rules changed time and again? This government is for the sake of the people. The government continuously endeavours to take a feedback from them. What are the areas of difficulty for the people? What are the rules that are creating hindrances? And what are the possible solutions? The government, being a sensitive government, amends rules as required, keeping the convenience of the people as its foremost consideration, so that citizens are not subjected to hardships. On the other hand, as I’d said earlier, on the 8th to be precise, this drive, this war is an extraordinary one. For the past 70 years, what kind of forces are involved in this murky enterprise of perfidy and corruption? How mighty are they? When I have resolved to wage battle against them, they too come up with new tactics everyday to thwart the government’s efforts. To counter these new offensives, we too have to devise appropriate new responses and antidotes. When the opponents keep on trying out new tactics, we have to counteract decisively, since we have resolved to eradicate the corrupt, shady businesses and black money.

On the other hand, many people have mentioned in their letters all kinds of wrongdoing which are going on; how newer wily ways and means are being devised. In this context, I offer my heartiest salutations to my dear countrymen for one very remarkable thing. These days you must be seeing on T.V. and newspapers, everyday many new people are being taken into custody, currency notes are being seized, raids are being carried out. Influential persons are being caught. How has all this been made possible? Should I let out the secret? The secret is that my sources of such information are people themselves. Information being received from common citizens is many times higher than that being obtained through government machinery. And we are by and large being successful in our operations on account of the awareness and alertness that the people have displayed. Can anyone imagine the level of risk, which the aware citizen of my country is taking to expose such elements! The information received has largely proved to be fruitful. For those of you wanting to share such information, you can send it on an e-mail address set up by the government for this purpose. You can also provide it on MyGov. The government is committed to fight all such wrongdoings and maladies. And when we have your active support, this fight becomes much easier.

Thirdly, there is another group of letter writers, also existing in large numbers. They say – Modiji, do not feel exhausted, do not stop and take the most stringent measures that you can. Now that you have chosen this path, the journey should culminate at its intended and logical destination. I specially thank writers of such letters, since their writing exudes a certain confidence, fortified with blessings. I sincerely assure you that this is in no way going to be a full stop. This is just the beginning. We have to win this battle and the question of feeling exhausted or stopping simply does not arise. Armed with the good wishes of a hundred and twenty five crore countrymen, there is no question of a retreat. You are possibly aware of a Law about Benami Property in our country which came into being in 1988, but neither were its rules ever framed, nor was it notified. It just lay dormant gathering dust. We have retrieved it and turned it into an incisive law against ‘Benami Property’. In the coming days, this law will also become operational. For the benefit of the Nation, for the benefit of the people, whatever needs to be done will be accorded our top priority.

My dear countrymen, I had mentioned in last month’s ‘Mann Ki Baat’ that even amidst these hardships our farmers toiled tirelessly and broke last year’s record in sowing. It is a sign of good times for the agricultural sector. The diligent hard work by this country’s workers, and farmers, and youth has scripted a new chapter of success with flying colours. Recently India proudly inscribed her name in various sectors of the global economic scenario. It is solely on account of the tireless exertions of our countrymen that on myriad indicators, India has charted an upward trajectory in global rankings. India’s ranking has gone up in the Doing Business Report of the World Bank. We are trying our best to raise the level of the business practices in India to match the best practices in the world on equal footing. And we are succeeding in that. In the World Investment Report released by UNCTAD, India’s position has risen to third in the Top Prospective Host Economies for 2016-18. In the Global Competitive Report of the World Economic Forum, India has made a big leap upwards by 32 ranks. In the Global Innovation Index 2016, we have moved up 16 rungs and in the Logistics Performance Index 2016 of the World Bank, we have risen by 19 ranks. There are many reports whose evaluation indicate that India is taking rapid strides ahead.

My dear countrymen, this time the session of Parliament became the object of ire of our countrymen. Indignation was expressed everywhere about the activities in the Parliament. The President and Vice President also explicitly expressed their displeasure. But even in such a situation, sometimes good things also take place which create a sense of satisfaction in the mind. Amid the din in Parliament, an excellent task was accomplished, which has not attracted due attention of the country. Brothers and sisters, today with pride and joy I would like to mention that a bill in connection with my government’s mission on Divyangjan, that is, differently or specially abled people was passed in Parliament. For this, I extend my heartfelt gratitude to all the members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. On behalf of millions of Divyangjan of the country I express my thanks. Our government is committed to the welfare of Divyaangs. Personally too, I have strived to lend momentum to this campaign. My intention was to ensure that the Divyangjan secure their due rights and also the honour and dignity that they are entitled to. Our efforts and our trust were fortified by our Divyaang brothers and sisters when they returned with 4 medals from the Paralympics. With their triumph, not only did they do the Nation proud, they pleasantly surprised many people through their capabilities and prowess. Our Divyaang brothers and sisters are an invaluable heritage, a precious endowment, just as every citizen of the country is.

Today I am immensely delighted that the passing of this Law for the welfare of the Divyaangjan will open up additional avenues of employment for them. In government jobs, the extent of reservation for them has been enhanced to 4%. Special provisions have been provided for in this Law for their education, facilities and also for grievances. The extent of sensitivity of the government towards the Divyaangs can be assessed by the fact that during the last two years, the central government set up 4350 camps for Divyaangs, spent 352 crore rupees for distributing implements to 5,80,000 Divyaang brothers and sisters. The government has passed the new law in consonance with the spirit expressed by the United Nations. Earlier there were seven Divyaang categories; now adding fourteen new categories this has been expanded to twenty-one categories. Many such new categories of Divyaangs have been included thereby providing them for the first time justice and opportunities. For example, categories like Thalassemia, Parkinson’s, or for that matter Dwarfism have been included.

My young friends, during the last few weeks, news items coming in from the world of sports have made all of us proud. Being Indians, it is but natural for us to feel elated. In the cricket series against England, India has triumphed 4-0. In this, the performance of some of the younger players deserves a special word of praise. The young Karun Nair scored a triple century and K. L. Rahul played a brilliant 199 run innings. Test captain Virat Kohli batted extremely well and also provided inspiring leadership. Indian Cricket team’s off-spin bowler R. Ashwin has been declared ‘Cricketer of the Year’ as well as ‘Best Test Cricketer’ by the ICC for the year 2016. My heartiest congratulations and many good wishes go to all of them. After a gap of 15 years, there was good news, in fact grand news from the hockey arena too. The Junior Hockey Team lifted the World Cup. This festive occasion came to us after fifteen years as the Junior Hockey team won the World Cup. Heartiest congratulations to these young players for this grand feat. This achievement is a very good omen for the future of our Hockey team. Last month our Women players too won laurels. Indian Women’s Hockey Team won the Asian Champions Trophy and just a few days ago in the under-18 Asia Cup, Indian Women’s Hockey Team secured the Bronze Medal. I congratulate all our Cricket and Hockey team players from the core of my heart.

My dear countrymen, may 2017 be a year full of joy and enthusiasm; may all your resolves be crowned with success; let us scale newer heights of progress; may the poorest of the poor get an opportunity to lead a better and fuller life of happiness and contentment; may 2017 be like this for all of us. For the year 2017, my best and brightest wishes to all my countrymen. Many, many thanks.

First Published On : Dec 25, 2016 18:02 IST

War on black money: After demonetization, PM Modi promises to go after ‘benami properties’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Vowing to carry forward the war against corruption and black money post-demonetization, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the government will soon operationalise a strong law to effectively deal with ‘benami’ properties and this was just the beginning. Making his last monthly address this year in his “Mann ki Baat” programme, he defended the frequent changes in the rules of demonetization, saying these have been done to reduce the people’s problems and defeat such forces who are out to thwart his government’s fight against black money and corruption.Modi sought the cooperation of public in making the “war on corruption” a success and said the wrongdoings of some are being caught only with the support of common people who are coming forward with concrete information about hoarders.”I assure you that this is not the end. This is just the beginning in our fight against corruption. We have to win this war against corruption and black money. There is no question of stopping or going back in this fight,” he said.The Prime Minister also lamented the logjam in Parliament that evoked displeasure from the President and the Vice President besides all-round public indignation and ire, saying he wanted a good discussion on this campaign as well as on political funding, had both Houses run properly.He said some people who are spreading rumours that political parties enjoy all concessions and exemptions “are wrong and all are equal before law” and they have to abide by it.”It was my earnest wish that the ongoing campaign against corruption and black money, including the realm of political parties and political funding, be discussed extensively in the Parliament. Had the House functioned properly, there would have been comprehensive deliberation.”Some people are spreading rumours that political parties enjoy all kinds of concessions. These people are absolutely in the wrong. The law applies equally to all. Whether it is an individual, an organisation or a political party, everyone has to abide by law and one will have to,” he said, adding that people who cannot endorse corruption and black money openly resort to searching for faults of the government relentlessly.Giving a push to his plea for cashless economy, Modi also launched two new schemes for traders and customers that will dole out 15,000 prizes every day to those making digital transactions. Defending the frequent changes being made in rules afterdemonetization, Modi said “the government, being a sensitive government, amends rules as required, keeping the convenience of the people as its foremost consideration, so that citizens are not subjected to hardships.”Terming this war against corruption as “an extraordinary one”, he said the forces involved in “this murky enterprise of perfidy and corruption” have to be defeated as they are devising new tactics to thwart government’s efforts every day.”To counter these new offensives, we too have to devise appropriate new responses and anti-dotes. When the opponents keep on trying out new tactics, we have to counteract decisively since we have resolved to eradicate the corrupt, shady businesses and black money,” he said.Lauding the public for their support in exposing the wrong-doings of some, who are devising “newer wily ways and means” to counter the fight against corruption, the Prime Minister sought more public support.”Everyday many new people are being taken into custody, currency notes are being seized, raids are being carried out.Influential persons are being caught. The secret is that my sources of such information are people themselves.”Information being received from common citizens is many times higher than that being obtained through government machinery,” he said, adding that people were taking risks to expose such elements. He asked them to share such information on e-mail address of the government as also on the MyGov App.Modi also talked about the Benami Property law that came into being in 1988, but neither its rules were framed, nor was it notified and laid dormant for years.”We have retrieved it and turned it into an incisive law against ‘Benami Property’. In the coming days, this law will also become operational. For the benefit of the nation, for the benefit of the people, whatever needs to be done will be accorded our top priority,” he said.The Prime Minister, however, lauded both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha for passage of the DisabilitiesBill to secure the rights of disabled and also their honour and dignity. The new law, he said, is in consonance with the spirit expressed by the United Nations.He also wished the people on Christmas and remembered former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on his birthday while wishing him good health and long life.Modi also congratulated the Indian Cricket team for its emphatic 4-0 victory over England, as also the performances of some young players like Karun Nair who scored a triple century, K L Rahul for scoring a brilliant 199, besides the leadership provided by Captain Virat Kohli and off-spin bowler R Ashwin. He also complimented the Junior Hockey Team for lifting the World Cup and the Indian Women’s Hockey Team that won the Asian Champions Trophy.

Does Good Governance mean increasing troubles? Yechury slams Modi Govt’s ‘policies of anarchy’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury took a swipe at Modi Government, asking whether observing ‘Good Governance Day’ meant increasing the troubles of people as has happened post demonetization.With the 50-day deadline on demonetization set to get over by next week, Yechury claimed none of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s stated objectives including those of combating corruption and black money have been achieved until now. “…the troubles for people (post demonetization) are only mounting further, not easing. The lines at the ATMs and banks are becoming longer.”None of the objectives that the Prime Minister set out to achieve have been achieved. If this is good governance, we all need to question,” Yechury said in a video posted on twitter.The government celebrated former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s birthday as ‘Good Governance Day’. The Marxist leader insisted the country needs “better governance” than good governance as it moves into the next year and called for redoubling resolve to improve lives of people against government’s “policies of anarchy which do not seem to be ending soon”.”And that is a challenge all of us need to meet,” he added.

Thank you for supporting demonetization: Full text of PM Modi’s Christmas special Mann Ki Baat

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Modi said many people had written to him and some had praised the government’s move to demonetise Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 currency notes. However, they have also spoken about the problems they faced due to demonetization, he said.‘Many are writing to me- ‘Modi ji thak mat jaana, ruk mat jaana aur jitna kathor kadam utha sakte ho uthao’. The people wrote to me about the problems they faced during recent times, some praised demonetisation and how it is an effective step in fighting corruption. Gurumani on MyGov app have appreciated government’s effort to curb black money, his sentiments are shared by rest of the country. I thank the people as they not only went through hardships but also answered back those who tried to mislead them,’ he added.‘Lot of questions are being raised on frequent change of rules, but I want to say that I have decided to take those indulging in corruption,’ he said. Prime Minister Modi said black money hoarders are being nabbed across the country. ‘Secret is that information by common people enables us to do it,’ he added.Assuring the nation that this is not the end but the beginning of his government’s endeavor to fight against corruption, Prime Minister Modi said, ‘It is our priority to do whatever it takes for the betterment of our nation. People are spreading rumours that political parties are exempted, this isn’t true.’Regretting the washout of the Winter Session of Parliament, Prime Minister Modi said, ‘If Parliament would have functioned there would have been fruitful discussions.’Read the full text below: My fellow countrymen, Namaskar, many felicitations and season’s greetings to you on the occasion of Christmas. Today is the day to give importance in our lives to service, sacrifice and compassion. Jesus had said – “The poor do not need our favours but our acceptance with affection.” In the Gospel According to Saint Luke, it is written that – “Jesus not only served the poor but also praised the service done by the poor,” and this is what real empowerment is. A tale associated with this incident is also very popular. It has been mentioned in that story that Jesus was standing near the treasury of a temple; many rich people came and donated bountifully; then a poor widow came and parted with only two copper coins. Now just two copper coins really do not amount to much. Thus it was natural that there was a lot of curiosity in the minds of the disciples gathered there. Then, Jesus declared that the widow was the greatest of those donors because while the others had donated substantially, that widow had given away all she possessed. Today, 25th December, is also the birth anniversary of Mahamana Madan Mohan Malviyaji, who kindled resolve and self confidence in the psyche of the Indian people and gave a new direction to modern education. My most sincere and heartfelt tributes to Malviyaji on his birth anniversary. About two days ago, I had the opportunity to launch many a developmental work in Banaras, the sacred workplace of Malviyaji. I also laid the foundation stone of Mahamana Madan Mohan Malviya Cancer Centre in BHU at Varanasi. This Cancer Centre is going to be a boon for the people of not only eastern Uttar Pradesh but for the people of Jharkhand and Bihar also. Today is also the birthday of Bharat Ratna and former Prime Minister Venerable Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ji. This country can never forget Atalji’s contributions. Under his leadership, the country proudly grew in stature in the field of nuclear power also. Whether in the role of a party leader, Member of Parliament, a minister or the Prime Minister, Atalji always established an ideal. I salute Atalji on his birthday and pray to God for his good health. As a party worker I had the privilege of working with Atalji. Many memories emerge before my eyes. This morning when I tweeted, I shared a video, in which you can see for yourself how as a small party worker one had the fortune of having affection showered upon him by Atalji. Today, on Christmas Day, as a gift the countrymen are going to get the benefit of two schemes. In a way it is the beginning of two new schemes. Throughout the entire country, be it villages or towns, the educated or the illiterate, there is an atmosphere of curiosity as to what is cashless, how cashless business can take place, how can one make purchases without using cash! Everybody wants to understand and learn from each other. To encourage this trend, to strengthen mobile banking and to inculcate the habit of making e-payments, the Government of India is launching from today encouragement schemes for consumers as well as traders. To encourage customers, the scheme is ‘Lucky Grahak Yojana’ and to encourage traders the scheme is ‘Digi Dhan Vyapaar Yojana’. Today, on 25th December, as a Christmas gift, fifteen thousand people will get rewards through a draw system, whereby each of the fifteen thousand winners will have one thousand rupees into their accounts and this will be not for today only; starting today this scheme will continue for the next 100 days. Everyday fifteen thousand people are going to receive rewards of one thousand rupees each. In the next 100 days, lakhs of families are going to receive crores of rupees as gift, but you will be entitled to this gift only if you make use of mobile banking, e-banking, RuPay Card, UPI, USSD – such means and methods of digital payment. The draw for rewards will be done based on your use of such digital payment methods. In addition, there would be a grand draw once every week for such customers in which the prize money will be in lakhs of rupees and three months later on April 14th, on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar, there would be a mega bumper draw where rewards would be in crores of rupees. ‘Digi Dhan Vyapar Yojana’ is mainly for traders and businessmen. Traders should adopt this scheme themselves and should encourage their customers too in order to make their business cashless. Such traders will also be rewarded separately and there would be thousands of these rewards. The traders will run their business activities smoothly and will also have an opportunity to win rewards. This scheme has been designed keeping all sections of society in mind, with a special focus on the poor and the lower middle class segments. Therefore only those will get its benefits who make a purchase worth more than 50 rupees but less than three thousand rupees. Those who make purchases of more than three thousand rupees will not be entitled to rewards under this scheme. Even the poor people can use USSD on simple feature or ordinary mobile phones to buy and sell goods as well as make payments and thus all of them can also become prospective beneficiaries of this reward scheme. In rural areas too, people can buy or sell through AEPS and they can also win rewards. Many will be surprised to know that now there are about 30 Crore, i.e. 300 million RuPay Cards in India, out of which 200 million RuPay Cards belong to poor families which have ‘Jan Dhan’ accounts. These 300 million people can immediately become part of this rewards scheme. I have confidence that the countrymen will evince interest in this system and if you enquire from the young people around you, they would surely be aware of these things and on your asking will tell you about these. Come on, if there is a child studying in 10th or 12th standard in your family, he or she will also be able to teach you well about this. It is as simple as sending WhatsApp messages on the mobile. My dear countrymen, I feel delighted to learn that the awareness about how to use technology, making e-payments, making online payments is spreading very fast. During the past few days, the cashless transactions, or cashless trading has increased by 200 to 300%. To give cashless trading a big impetus, Government of India has taken a very major decision. The business community, our traders can well comprehend how momentous this decision is. Those businessmen who adopt digital transactions, who develop online payment process instead of cash transactions in their trade activities will get Income Tax rebate. I congratulate all the states and union territories, who have promoted this campaign in their own way. The Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Mr. Chandrababu Naidu is the head of a committee which is considering various schemes under this. However, I have seen that the governments also have initiated and implemented many schemes. I’ve been told that Assam Government has decided to grant a 10% discount on property tax and business license fee if payments are made through digital transaction. The branches of Grameen, that is, Rural Banks there getting 75% of their customers to make at least two digital transactions between January and March will get 50 thousands rupees rewards from the government. They have announced that under the ‘Uttam Panchayat for Digi-Transaction’, rewards of 5 lakh rupees will be given to villages doing 100% digital transaction till 31st March, 2017. Assam Government has decided to reward 5 thousand rupees to the first 10 farmers as ‘Digital Krishak Shiromani’, who will buy seeds and fertilizers entirely through digital payments. I congratulate Assam Government and also all those state governments who have taken such initiatives. A number of organisations have also successfully carried out many experiments to promote digital transactions amongst the rural folk and poor farmers. I have been told that GNFC or Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers & Chemicals Limited, which primarily manufactures fertilizers, has installed a thousand PoS machines for sale of fertilizers for the convenience of farmers and in just a few days 35 thousand farmers were sold 5 lakh sacs of fertilizers on digital payment and this was accomplished in only two weeks! And the interesting fact is that compared to last year the fertilizer sales of GNFC have gone up by 27 percent. Brothers and sisters, the informal sector occupies a major segment in our economy and in our pattern of life and mostly these people are paid wages for their labour and hard work in cash. They are paid their salaries in cash and we know that due to this, they are exploited also. If they are to receive 100 rupees, they get only 80 rupees, if they are to be paid 80 rupees, they are given only 50 rupees. They are deprived of facilities like insurance and those associated with health sector. But now the practice of cashless payment is being adopted; the money is being directly deposited into banks. In a way, the informal sector is getting converted into the formal sector, exploitation is coming to an end, the cut, which had to be paid earlier, has stopped now and it has become possible for the worker, the artisan, such poor persons to get their full amount of money. In addition, they are also becoming entitled to the other benefits due to them. Our country is blessed with the maximum number of young people. Thus, we are favourably placed for using technology. A country like India should be ahead of everybody else in this field. Our youth have benefitted quite a lot from ‘Start-Ups’. This digital movement is a golden opportunity for our youth. They should impart to this as much strength as they can with their new ideas, technology and processes. But we must also connect with the drive to rid the country of black money and corruption with all our might. My dear countrymen, I request every month before ‘Mann Ki Baat’ that you please give your suggestions, share your thoughts; and of the thousands of such suggestions received this time on MyGov, on NarendraModiApp, I can definitely say that 80 to 90% suggestions were pertaining to the war against corruption and black money, there was mention of demonetization. After I examined all the suggestions, I can say that these can macroscopically be roughly divided into three categories. Some have written in detail about people facing difficulties and encountering inconveniences. The other group of correspondents have stressed that this is such a good work being carried out for the welfare of the country, such a sacred task but they have also noted that in spite of this there are many scams being committed and new avenues of dishonesty are being explored. The third group is the one which has, while wholeheartedly supporting the action being taken, clearly stressed that this fight must be carried forward; corruption and black money must be completely destroyed and if this requires even more tough steps to be taken, those must be taken. We have many people writing this most emphatically. I am thankful to the countrymen for helping me by writing these innumerable letters to me. Shriman Gurumani Kewal has written on MyGov – “This step of reigning in black money is praiseworthy. We citizens are facing some difficulties, but we are all fighting against corruption and we are happy that we are making a contribution in this fight. We are battling corruption, black money etc on the lines of Military Forces.” The sentiment behind Gurumani Kewalji’s text is being echoed in every nook and corner of the country. All of us are experiencing it. When the people face problems, undergo hardships, rare will be a fellow human being who will not empathise. I feel as much pain as you do. But when a task is taken up with a noble objective, to realise a lofty intent, with a clear conscience, the countrymen stay firm courageously amidst all these trials and tribulations. These people are the real Agents of Change, pioneers of transformation. I thank people for one more reason. They have not only braved hardships, but have also powerfully given a retort to those limited few who have been trying to mislead them. So many rumours were spread, even the fight against corruption and black money was sought to be tainted with shades of communalism. Somebody spread a rumour that the spelling on the currency note was faulty, someone said salt prices had spiraled, someone proclaimed that the 2000 rupee note would also be withdrawn, even 500 and 100 rupee denominations notes were rumoured to be on their way out. But I have seen that despite rampant rumour mongering, citizens have stood firm with their faith intact. And not just that, many people came to the fore and through their creativity and intelligence, exposed the rumour mongers, brought out the falsity of the rumours and established the truth. I salute this great ability of the people also from the core of my heart. My dear countrymen, I am experiencing one thing every moment. When a hundred and twenty five crore countrymen are standing by you, nothing is impossible. The people represent the will of the Almighty and their blessings become His blessings. I thank the people of this country and salute them for participating in this Mahayagya against black money and corruption with utmost zeal. It was my earnest wish that the ongoing campaign against corruption and black money, including the realm of political parties and political funding, be discussed extensively in the Parliament. Had the House functioned properly, there would have been comprehensive deliberation. Some people are spreading rumours that political parties enjoy all kinds of concessions. These people are absolutely in the wrong. The law applies equally to all. Whether it is an individual, an organisation or a political party, everyone has to abide by law and one will have to. People, who cannot endorse corruption and black money openly, resort to searching for faults of the government relentlessly. Another issue which comes up is this. Why are rules changed time and again? This government is for the sake of the people. The government continuously endeavours to take a feedback from them. What are the areas of difficulty for the people? What are the rules that are creating hindrances? And what are the possible solutions? The government, being a sensitive government, amends rules as required, keeping the convenience of the people as its foremost consideration, so that citizens are not subjected to hardships. On the other hand, as I’d said earlier, on the 8th to be precise, this drive, this war is an extraordinary one. For the past 70 years, what kind of forces are involved in this murky enterprise of perfidy and corruption? How mighty are they? When I have resolved to wage battle against them, they too come up with new tactics everyday to thwart the government’s efforts. To counter these new offensives, we too have to devise appropriate new responses and antidotes. When the opponents keep on trying out new tactics, we have to counteract decisively, since we have resolved to eradicate the corrupt, shady businesses and black money. On the other hand, many people have mentioned in their letters all kinds of wrongdoing which are going on; how newer wily ways and means are being devised. In this context, I offer my heartiest salutations to my dear countrymen for one very remarkable thing. These days you must be seeing on T.V. and newspapers, everyday many new people are being taken into custody, currency notes are being seized, raids are being carried out. Influential persons are being caught. How has all this been made possible? Should I let out the secret? The secret is that my sources of such information are people themselves. Information being received from common citizens is many times higher than that being obtained through government machinery. And we are by and large being successful in our operations on account of the awareness and alertness that the people have displayed. Can anyone imagine the level of risk, which the aware citizen of my country is taking to expose such elements! The information received has largely proved to be fruitful. For those of you wanting to share such information, you can send it on an e-mail address set up by the government for this purpose. You can also provide it on MyGov. The government is committed to fight all such wrongdoings and maladies. And when we have your active support, this fight becomes much easier. Thirdly, there is another group of letter writers, also existing in large numbers. They say – Modiji, do not feel exhausted, do not stop and take the most stringent measures that you can. Now that you have chosen this path, the journey should culminate at its intended and logical destination. I specially thank writers of such letters, since their writing exudes a certain confidence, fortified with blessings. I sincerely assure you that this is in no way going to be a full stop. This is just the beginning. We have to win this battle and the question of feeling exhausted or stopping simply does not arise. Armed with the good wishes of a hundred and twenty five crore countrymen, there is no question of a retreat. You are possibly aware of a Law about Benami Property in our country which came into being in 1988, but neither were its rules ever framed, nor was it notified. It just lay dormant gathering dust. We have retrieved it and turned it into an incisive law against ‘Benami Property’. In the coming days, this law will also become operational. For the benefit of the Nation, for the benefit of the people, whatever needs to be done will be accorded our top priority. My dear countrymen, I had mentioned in last month’s ‘Mann Ki Baat’ that even amidst these hardships our farmers toiled tirelessly and broke last year’s record in sowing. It is a sign of good times for the agricultural sector. The diligent hard work by this country’s workers, and farmers, and youth has scripted a new chapter of success with flying colours. Recently India proudly inscribed her name in various sectors of the global economic scenario. It is solely on account of the tireless exertions of our countrymen that on myriad indicators, India has charted an upward trajectory in global rankings. India’s ranking has gone up in the Doing Business Report of the World Bank. We are trying our best to raise the level of the business practices in India to match the best practices in the world on equal footing. And we are succeeding in that. In the World Investment Report released by UNCTAD, India’s position has risen to third in the Top Prospective Host Economies for 2016-18. In the Global Competitive Report of the World Economic Forum, India has made a big leap upwards by 32 ranks. In the Global Innovation Index 2016, we have moved up 16 rungs and in the Logistics Performance Index 2016 of the World Bank, we have risen by 19 ranks. There are many reports whose evaluation indicate that India is taking rapid strides ahead. My dear countrymen, this time the session of Parliament became the object of ire of our countrymen. Indignation was expressed everywhere about the activities in the Parliament. The President and Vice President also explicitly expressed their displeasure. But even in such a situation, sometimes good things also take place which create a sense of satisfaction in the mind. Amid the din in Parliament, an excellent task was accomplished, which has not attracted due attention of the country. Brothers and sisters, today with pride and joy I would like to mention that a bill in connection with my government’s mission on Divyangjan, that is, differently or specially abled people was passed in Parliament. For this, I extend my heartfelt gratitude to all the members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. On behalf of millions of Divyangjan of the country I express my thanks. Our government is committed to the welfare of Divyaangs. Personally too, I have strived to lend momentum to this campaign. My intention was to ensure that the Divyangjan secure their due rights and also the honour and dignity that they are entitled to. Our efforts and our trust were fortified by our Divyaang brothers and sisters when they returned with 4 medals from the Paralympics. With their triumph, not only did they do the Nation proud, they pleasantly surprised many people through their capabilities and prowess. Our Divyaang brothers and sisters are an invaluable heritage, a precious endowment, just as every citizen of the country is. Today I am immensely delighted that the passing of this Law for the welfare of the Divyaangjan will open up additional avenues of employment for them. In government jobs, the extent of reservation for them has been enhanced to 4%. Special provisions have been provided for in this Law for their education, facilities and also for grievances. The extent of sensitivity of the government towards the Divyaangs can be assessed by the fact that during the last two years, the central government set up 4350 camps for Divyaangs, spent 352 crore rupees for distributing implements to 5,80,000 Divyaang brothers and sisters. The government has passed the new law in consonance with the spirit expressed by the United Nations. Earlier there were seven Divyaang categories; now adding fourteen new categories this has been expanded to twenty-one categories. Many such new categories of Divyaangs have been included thereby providing them for the first time justice and opportunities. For example, categories like Thalassemia, Parkinson’s, or for that matter Dwarfism have been included. My young friends, during the last few weeks, news items coming in from the world of sports have made all of us proud. Being Indians, it is but natural for us to feel elated. In the cricket series against England, India has triumphed 4-0. In this, the performance of some of the younger players deserves a special word of praise. The young Karun Nair scored a triple century and K. L. Rahul played a brilliant 199 run innings. Test captain Virat Kohli batted extremely well and also provided inspiring leadership. Indian Cricket team’s off-spin bowler R. Ashwin has been declared ‘Cricketer of the Year’ as well as ‘Best Test Cricketer’ by the ICC for the year 2016. My heartiest congratulations and many good wishes go to all of them. After a gap of 15 years, there was good news, in fact grand news from the hockey arena too. The Junior Hockey Team lifted the World Cup. This festive occasion came to us after fifteen years as the Junior Hockey team won the World Cup. Heartiest congratulations to these young players for this grand feat. This achievement is a very good omen for the future of our Hockey team. Last month our Women players too won laurels. Indian Women’s Hockey Team won the Asian Champions Trophy and just a few days ago in the under-18 Asia Cup, Indian Women’s Hockey Team secured the Bronze Medal. I congratulate all our Cricket and Hockey team players from the core of my heart. My dear countrymen, may 2017 be a year full of joy and enthusiasm; may all your resolves be crowned with success; let us scale newer heights of progress; may the poorest of the poor get an opportunity to lead a better and fuller life of happiness and contentment; may 2017 be like this for all of us. For the year 2017, my best and brightest wishes to all my countrymen. Many, many thanks.

New Delhi: Court acquits two men of charges of waging war against country

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A city court has acquitted two persons of charges of waging war against the country in an over ten-year-old case registered by Delhi Police which had claimed that they were members of a banned militant outfit.Additional Sessions Judge Reetesh Singh absolved Bihar residents, Irshad Ali and Maurif Qamar, who were allegedly picked up by the Special Cell of Delhi Police in 2005.The case was later transferred to CBI following directions of the Delhi High Court. After probing the matter, CBI had filed a closure report in the case claiming that the two men were informers of the special cell and Intelligence Bureau.According to the FIR, the police apprehended Ali and Qamar from Mukarba Chowk bus stand in north west Delhi on February 9, 2006. It was alleged that both were members of banned outfit Al-Badr and were carrying arms and ammunition including pistols, live cartridges and detonators.Thereafter, an FIR under section including 121 (waging war against Government of India) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of IPC, and under several provisions of the Explosive Substance Act and the Arms Act was registered.The accused, however, approached the high court and sought a CBI inquiry in the case alleging that both were illegally picked up by Delhi Police in December 2005 from the city and that they were the informers of the agency’s special cell and Intelligence Bureau, advocate Sufian Siddiqui, the counsel for the accused, said.The high court directed a CBI probe in the matter and the agency filed a closure report.The trial court, however, rejected the CBI’s report against which the accused again approached the high court. The high court asked the city court to consider CBI’s report.The special cell, however, had approached the Supreme Court against the high court order. The apex court in December 2012 directed the trial court to take the call and, if needed, ask the agency for re investigation in the matter.The trial court then ordered framing of charges without considering CBI’s closure report, the counsel said.The accused again approached the high court challenging the city court order for trial in the case. Thereafter, the high court again asked the trial court to consider all the aspects before passing the order which has now resulted into the acquittal of the accused. The accused were on bail since July 2009.

2 lakh students to drive ‘mission Fadnavis’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In an interesting move aimed at reaching out to the youth in Maharashtra, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis will launch ‘Transform Maharashtra’—an initiative to rope in students in preparing a road map for the government’s ambitious plan envisaging a ‘Developed Maharashtra by 2025’.Fadnavis will flag off the programme on Monday at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, where he will grace the concluding ceremony of its cultural fest ‘Mood Indigo’, as the chief guest.The initiative will seek participation of more than two lakh students from 500 colleges across Maharashtra in addressing 11 crucial issues the state is facing at present—be it bridging digital divide or imparting education to its rural populace. The scheme then seeks to reach out to one crore youth through online/social media, and will provide a platform for Fadnavis to connect with the youth.A top official said, “More than 35 per cent of the population in Maharashtra are in the 16-35 age group, fresh with ideas and suggestions, which can be tapped for the betterment of the state. The move aims to leverage the intellect and energy of this segment.”Fadnavis will interact with the youth on the issues concerning the state at the event. Journalist Arnab Goswami will moderate the event, which will see over 3,500 students from various colleges in attendance. The CM will answer the questions posed on Twitter hashtag #AskMahaCM.This is the first time that the IIT Bombay is hosting the young CM—touted as pro-development and a no-nonsense politician. The government believes that these qualities will help the CM to strike a chord with the youth.The move is viewed as an attempt by the BJP government to woo the educated young voters ahead of the civic polls in Mumbai. This group has been largely apathetic towards party politics, thanks to frustration with the modern day politicos.”The need of the hour is a credible platform for the youth to share their ideas and have a meaningful dialogue with the policy makers. The ‘Transform Maharashtra’ aims to fill this void,” said a highly placed official.Though the BJP government has rolled out a few initiatives targeted at youth since it came to power October 2014—such as internship with the government and rural fellowship—those have had limited impact.On the other hand, Transform Maharashtra is being crowd-sourced by the college students. “We will suggest implementable solutions to 11 critical challenges facing the state, to the government. The students will then volunteer with government departments to drive the change we foresee,” said a member of the Action for Collective Transformation (ACT), which is spearheading the entire plan.ACT is an organisation started by a group of entrepreneurs from IIT, ISB and NIT. Currently, it is working with Government of Maharashtra to improve their strategy, last mile delivery and monitoring of key developmental programmes.#AskMahaCMAll registered students from Maharashtra, including those from Junior Colleges can be part of the initiative by registering themselves at TransformMaharashtra.com. Using hashtag #AskMahaCM you can also pose questions on Twitter.Going by the questions already posed on this hashtag, CM is likely to have a tough time at the event. Sample these:Ankur Chheda: What is more important—Statue of Shivaji Maharaj or livelihood of thousands of fishermen?Anju Chandel: Sir, Shivaji was a great leader and warrior, but why waste money on his statue? Rs3,600 crore could have saved lives of scores of distressed farmers.Prafull Sonawane: Don’t you think Maharashtra should have separate Home Minister considering the growing crime rate?Smita Iris: Although Nagpur is sub-capital of Maharashtra, still not many IT companies are there. When will Nagpur become an IT hub?Samyak Jain: Many of the heritage structures in Mumbai are crumbling. What can be done from the government and the people’s side for the same?

Modi sounds poll bugle with remote control button

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Eyeing ensuing elections, including the one to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday underlined the importance of development and warned that history would not forgive those who have destroyed the country for the last 70 years. With UP elections in mind, the Prime Minister also focused on the war against black money and development. The annual budget of the BMC is Rs 37,000 crore.Addressing a function to mark the foundation-laying ceremony of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj memorial in Arabian Sea, Modi said that development is the only solution to many present-day problems.He also laid the foundation for Metro II B, Metro IV, Kalanagar flyover, Mumbai Trans Harbour Link and the elevated corridors between Kurla and Vakola.The Prime Minister laid the foundation stones of all these projects by pressing a remote control button and told the audience that projects worth Rs 1.06 lakh crore have been kicked off with this one button.He said that increasing the pension of 3.5 million people to Rs 1,000, providing domestic gas connections, generic medicine shops and access to electricity to 18,000 villages showed that the focal point of his government was development.Stating that Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was not only a great warrior but also a multi-faceted visionary, he cited the establishment of a strong navy during that era by Shivaji as an example. Shivaji Maharaj realised the importance of sea, coastal security, and provided a strong water supply system, which is inspiring to even present-day engineers, Modi said. The Prime Minister’s address lasted for 36 minutes.Earlier, Modi, along with Maharashtra Governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis visited the proposed site of the Arabian sea memorial and performed the Bhoomipoojan and Jalpoojan at the site. He travelled to the site on a Coast Guard hovercraft.Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, Union ministers Nitin Gadkari, Piyush Goyal, Subhash Bhamare, state ministers Chandrakant Patil and Vinod Tawde accompanied them.Later, Fadnavis took the cue from Modi and gave examples of his government’s development drive. He said that his government would create additional capacity to carry millions via metro and other projects. This is unprecedented, he claimed.Like the US, which is known for its statue of Liberty, India would be known for the proposed Shivaji Maharaj memorial, Fadnavis said. He said that the previous (Congress-NCP) government could not avail permissions for the project and only made announcements, but his government procured all permissions. Fadnavis said that his Government would createThackeray requested the Prime Minister to hand over the forts of Maharashtra to the state government, so that the state would not be required to approach the Archeological Survey of India for even small works.History comes aliveA cultural show depicting greatness of Shivaji Maharaj was performed before arrival of prime Minister. Descendants from almost 100 families from the lieutenants of Chhtarapati Shivaji Maharaj were invited for the function.The entire Maharashtra cabinet was present and audience chanted Modi, Modi time and again during the programme. Fadnavis had to intervene during Chandrakant Patil’s welcome speech to pacify the crowd and shouted “Shivaji Maharaj ki Jai”, which received a huge response.

Necessary decisions in past would have avoided discomfort: PM Modi on demonetization

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a veiled attack on Congress for opposing demonetization, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said the “sins” of benami properties would not have happened and people would not be standing in queues now had necessary decisions been taken in the past.”In 1988, Parliament passed Benami Property Act but it never got notified and implemented. The papers had got lost somewhere in a stack of files. It was me who re-opened it. Sins of benami properties would not have happened had the law been implemented,” he said after the inauguration of Pune metro. “Should I let the situation be as it is or should I change it? Should the wrongdoings be undone or not? If decisions were taken years ago, I would not have had to make people stand in queues. I have taken this step because I made a promise to save the country,” the Prime Minister said.Modi warned those possessing black money to come clean now or they will stand no chance to save themselves. “Some people thought all governments are the same and this government of mine will be no different. They thought they can put their black money in banks and convert it into white. Money did not become white but their faces turned black,” he said. “There is still time where laws can help you. Come on the right path and sleep peacefully. If not, I will not sleep. I have started this war against corruption, black money, terrorism, naxalism with a lot of ‘jigar’ (heart),” he said.The Prime Minister said that due to the demonetization decision, income of urban bodies have increased by 200-300 per cent and people, who were used to breaking rules at one point of time are now made to stand in queues. Modi said that urbanisation is taking place at a fast pace today and stressed on generating employment and improving the quality of life in villages to stop migration to cities. “Only then will the run from villages to cities will slow down. If we think in pieces and for immediate political gains, we can never overcome problems,” he said.The PM said the Centre has started with a ‘Rurban’ mission which focuses on ensuring that that villages close to cities have the soul of a village and facilities of a city. “Our Digital India campaign is not just meant for cities but for rural areas as well. We have decided to launch metro projects in more than 50 cities. Had we done so in bits and pieces, projects would have become costlier, more problems would have arisen and the projects would have had lagged even after we putting in money,” he said.Modi said benchmarks of development need to become modernise and transform with changing times. “Infrastructure is not just roads, rail and air transport but also highways and I-ways (information ways), for which we need an optical fibre network. We need to work on water grid, digital network, gas grid and space technology,” he said.Modi said Pune Metro should have been visualised and implemented much earlier. “Previous governments have left a lot of work for me to do,” Modi said. The development of phase -I of Pune Metro Rail Project, which will cover a total length of 31.25 km, is expected to provide the much needed connectivity to the commuters in Pune as well as neighbouring industrial town of Pimpri Chinchwad. The project comprises two corridors — Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC)- Swargate covering length of 16.589 km and Vanaz to Ramwadi with a length of 14.665 km.The project is scheduled to be completed in five years from the date of start of work as per the Detailed Project Report (DPR). The Project will be implemented by Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MAHA-METRO), which will be a 50:50 jointly owned company of Government of India and Maharashtra government. The existing Nagpur Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (NMRCL), a joint Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) of Government of India and Maharashtra government, would be reconstituted into MAHA-METRO for implementation of all metro projects including Pune Metro Rail Project Phase-1 in the state of Maharashtra outside Mumbai Metropolitan Region.The approved alignments are expected to provide the much needed connectivity to the commuters and would pass through some of the dense and traffic congested routes in the Pune Metropolitan Area.

AMU students union claim Akhilesh Yadav govt has paid ‘lip service’ to Muslim quota demand

Sat, 24 Dec 2016-05:40pm , Aligarh , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>AMU Students Union has threatened to launch an agitation against Akhilesh Yadav Government if it fails to fulfil its promise of granting 18% quota to Muslims, made at the time of last Assembly elections. In a memorandum sent to the Chief Minister on Saturday, the Students’ Union said SP government has paid only “lip service” to the long standing demands of Muslims and has failed to even implement the recommendations of the Sachar Committee. “What is worse, it has made no serious attempt to fulfil even those commitments which were a part of the SP’s election manifesto in 2011,” the Union said.Earlier on Friday, members of the Union held a protest march to highlight their anger over Samajwadi Party’s failure to safeguard the interests of minorities in the state. The protesters marched up to the gate of the District Collectorate, raising slogans against state government. The President of the AMU Students’ Union, Faizul Hasan told media persons that it was ironical that while the SP had recently decided to include 17 fresh OBC castes in the SC quota list, Muslims had to remain content just on empty promises and lip services.

Manipur blockade: Army Chief Dalbir Singh reviews security situation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Chief of Army Staff, General Dalbir Singh arrived in Manipur capital, Imphal on Saturday to review the security situation in the wake of a blockade imposed by the United Naga Council (UNC).General Singh will also visit Assam to review the security situation there. Meanwhile, a curfew from Lamlong Bridge to Pangei area has been relaxed from 6 am to 5 pm. Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Kiren Rijiju had on Friday visited Manipur to take stock of the situation and asked the state government to step up its efforts in restoring normalcy.Earlier, expressing concern over the long blockade of a highway connecting Manipur, the Home Ministry on Thursday rapped the state government for “failing” to discharge its “constitutional” duties in ensuring smooth flow of traffic on roads despite repeated requests.
ALSO READ AAP, Cong should not do politics on Najeeb Jung’s resignation: Kiren RijijuHome Minister, Rajnath Singh also asked Nagaland Chief Minister, T R Zeliang to ensure there is no disturbance in the movement of vehicles passing through his state, as there have been reports of the Naga Students Federation (NSF) calling for a blockade of vehicles in Nagaland.In a stern message to Manipur Chief Minister, O Ibobi Singh, Rajnath said the state is facing an extremely distressing economic situation because of the continuous blockade of National Highway 2.
ALSO READ Centre slams Manipur Govt over economic blockade The blockade in the state was announced by the UNC after the Manipur Government decided to upgrade the Sadar Hills and Jiribam areas to full-fledged districts. Following the state government’s decision on November 1, UNC militants blocked the Imphal-Dimapur and the Imphal-Jiribam highways indefinitely.

GST council talks on but states, Centre remain divided

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Loose ends continued to hang even after two days of deliberations by the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council.Despite long hours of discussions on Friday, the council, which comprises officials and ministers from states and the Union finance ministry, could not approve or clear for introduction in the Budget session any of the four draft pieces of legislation – Central GST, State GST, integrated GST and Compensation Act.It remained split over the compensation to states for the revenues losses from GST rollout, administrative control of taxpayers and a host of other issues. It, however, discussed each clause of CGST separately and discussed them threadbare and agreed that the states would be compensated for revenue losses every two months instead of every quarter as decided earlier.The next meeting will be held on January 3 and 4.Finance minister Arun Jaitley, who heads the council, told the media that the council was “making reasonable headway”.”I am trying my best. I am not going to bind myself to anything. Our effort is to do it as quickly as possible and I think we are making reasonable headway,” he said.Rakesh Bhargava, Director, Taxmann, said it was “unfortunate” that the council could agree on dual control.”It is very unfortunate that the GST Council failed to agree on dual control. In the next meeting, IGST Bill and this issue will be taken up. We hope there will be an agreement,” he said.Yanamala Ramakrishnudu, Minister for Finance and Planning, commercial taxes, Andhra Pradesh, vehemently opposed the Centre’s suggestion to levy cess on some goods to compensate for states’ losses. He proposed that the Centre should fund the states’ dip in revenues from the Consolidated Fund of India.He welcomed the inclusion of fisheries in the definition of agriculture and agriculturists, which will keep fishermen out of the ambit of GST. Bhavna G Doshi, Senior Advisor, KPMG, said that the Centre would have to address the concerns of states on adequate reimbursement.”States are feeling that the cess may not be adequate. That is the point (West Bengal Finance Minister Amit) Mitra raised – that this year is not going to be good, and even the first quarter may not be good. The state may need more compensation as businesses have been hit (by demonetization). His concern was whether there would be adequate funds available (with the government for compensation),” she said.Doshi suggested that the government could consider a “special contingency fund”. Apparently, Mitra has pointed out that in the light of demonetization, resources required for compensation could go up. The government was working on compensation, based on estimated losses of Rs 50,000 crore to states.This, the KPMG expert said, may see more goods and services attracting cess than before. Doshi believes that if the council is able to thrash out all issues in the next meeting, the government may call a special session of Parliament to pass the GST Bills.MS Mani, Senior Director, Deloitte Haskins & Sells LLP, feels the whole compensation discussion was very “hypothetical”.”The assumption is that revenues do not grow in GST, but past experience has shown that revenues will definitely grow under GST. The way I look at compensation is that it is more like underwriting. So, it is not necessary that compensation risk comes true. The compensation may not be as critical as it is being made out to be. I would say that the larger gains from today’s meeting is that on many issues they seem to have achieved consensus,” he said.Mani, however, feels that dual control could be a “difficult issue”. Even Pratik Jain, partner and leader indirect tax, PwC India, believes that the “most contentious issue was the dual control or cross empowerment”.

Govt hopes Consumer Protection Bill to pass in Budget session

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The government on Friday said it is hopeful that the new Consumer Protection Bill 2015, that aims to impose harsh penalties on endorsement of misleading ads among others, will be passed in the forthcoming Budget session of Parliament.In August this year, the Centre had introduced the Consumer Protection Bill 2015 in Lok Sabha, to repeal the 30-year-old Consumer Protection Act. A Parliamentary Standing Committee had also submitted its recommendations in April.The Consumer Affairs Ministry has accepted some of the recommendations of the panel and finalised the draft Bill, which has also been vetted by the Group of Ministers, headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. “We were expecting the passage of the Consumer Protection Bill in Winter Session but that did not happen. We are hopeful that it will be passed in the Budget session of Parliament,” Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan told reporters.The Minister said that the government has made sweeping changes in the Bill as it now provides huge penalties on celebrities endorsing misleading advertisements and ban such offenders for up to three years. It also seeks to create a Consumer Protection Authority to fast-track grievance redressal of consumers on the lines of US and European countries. The Bill has a provision for product liability and penalties in certain cases of food poisoning.Highlighting the major achievements of his ministry in 2016, Paswan said that it came out with direct selling guidelines for the Rs 80 billion industry and companies have been asked to submit their declarations by January 24, 2017. That apart, the government has revised the Legal Metrology (Packaged commodities) Rules, 2011 to enable the competent authority under the Essential Commodities Act 1955 to fix standard quantities and retail sale prices of essential items.On pulses, the Minsiter said that the government has created a buffer stock of 7 lakh tonnes so far, both through imports and domestic procurement. The pulses from the buffer are being released to states and agencies for direct distribution to public at reasonable rates. So far, 55,000 tonnes of pulses have been released from the buffer, he said.Paswan said that the national food security law, under which highly subsidised foodgrains are distributed to the poor, has been implemented in all states this year.He said that significant reforms have been undertaken in Public Distribution System (PDS) to make it more transparent and leak proof and better targeting of food subsidy.

Demonetisation: Was RBI given time at all to think? Manmohan’s question is pertinent

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh, a distinguished economist and former RBI governor, has raised one more pertinent question: Was the Reserve Bank of India given enough time to discuss the demonetisation before the announcement was made?

According to a report in The Indian Express, he has raised the question at a meeting of the parliamentary committee on finance, which is studying the government’s decision to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes from 8 November.

The committee met on Thursday under the chairmanship of Congress leader M Veerappa Moily. Singh is a member of the panel.

The report quoting a panel member said Singh citing a note from the central bank said the government took the decision on 7 November and the RBI board on 8 November. Singh was of the opinion that the panel should be first listening to the government and then the RBI governor.

Manmohan Singh. PTI file photoManmohan Singh. PTI file photo

Manmohan Singh. PTI file photo

Governor Urjit Patel was to brief before the panel on 21 December. This was postponed and, according to a PTI report, the briefing will now happen on 19 January. The decision to postpone is probably in keeping with Singh’s advise.

Singh had earlier criticised the demonetisation in the Lok Sabha saying that demonetisation is “organised loot”, “legalised plunder” and “monumental failure”.

“It is no good that every day, the banking system modifies rules and conditions. This reflects poorly on the office of the PM, finance ministry and the Reserve Bank of India. I am very sorry that the RBI has been exposed to this criticism,” Singh had said then.

His views assume significance in the backdrop of criticism that the RBI has failed in anticipating the problems that is likely to crop up after the note ban and also handling the situation effectively. Many experts are of the view that this has affected the credibility of a key democratic institution that has remained autonomous and largely escaped arm-twisting by the political class of the country.

The RBI and the finance ministry together have put out more than 60 notifications and orders in about 45 days of demonetisation. This in itself is a proof that the central bank was unprepared for a move with such large scale ramifications. The frequent rule change has not only put the banks in difficulty but has aggravated the pain of the common man.

However, even more shocking is Singh’s revelation at the panel meeting that the RBI was given just one day to take the decision on demonetisation. This claim raises many questions.

Does this mean the government took a hasty decision and forced the RBI to do so ? If that is so, it means the government or the RBI had not done any ground work before announcing the decision. Or was it just a last-minute hurry after taking most of the decisions earlier? When was the RBI first informed about the impending note ban? Was it kept in dark too about the decision until the end?

If it is so, it flies in the face of the government’s claim that it has been preparing for demonetisation for many months. In fact, prime minister Narendra Modi had in a speech (watch here) claimed that it started 10 months back and had to be kept a secret fearing the tax cheats would have found ways to whiten their ill-gotten wealth.

The public has been going through unprecedented difficulties due to the cash crunch, a direct consequence of the demonetisation. While the ban sucked out Rs 15.44 lakh crore worth of currency notes in circulation, the government and the RBI have been able to pump only about one-third of the money back into the system. The public has a right to know why there is still a cash shortage. It is to be noted that the central bank or the government has not yet given a status report of the printing of notes, especially that of Rs 500.

If the RBI was given only a day to take a decision, as Singh has said before the panel, that probably explains why the authorities were not prepared for the move. The note from the RBI has to be made public at the earliest.

In fact, the government and the RBI should make public all documents and files related to the decision. It is all about transparency of governance, which PM Modi is committed to.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 10:31 IST

BJP using Shivaji memorial event to market PM Modi, CM Fadnavis: Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Congress on Thursday accused the BJP-led Maharashtra government of trying to derive a political mileage from a scheduled foundation stone laying ceremony of Chhatrapati Shivaji memorial, which will be performed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”Government is spending Rs 18 crore for publicity of the event. The money is being used for marketing Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s image.”Instead of wasting money on marketing the two leaders, the amount should be utilised for construction of the memorial,” Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) president Ashok Chavan told reporters.Against the backdrop of the BJP touting the project as “vachanpurti” or fulfilment of their electoral promise, Chavan said it was the Congress which had made the commitment for the construction of the memorial in their poll manifesto.”When we assured this in our manifesto the BJP never spoke about it. We even made the budgetary provision for the project. BJP is politicising the event. Fishing community has some reservations and the government should resolve them,” he added.

Delhi Lt Governor Najeeb Jung submits his resignation, Kejriwal ‘surprised’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Najeeb Jung, the 20th Lieutenant Governor of the National Capital Territory of Delhi, stepped down from his position on Thursday. He was appointed to the post of Lt. Governor in 2013, replacing Tajender Khanna, another IAS officer. He was the Vice chancellor of Jamia Milia Islamia University from 2009-2013. The Lt Governor’s officer has confirmed that after demitting​ office he will return to his first love “academics”.Taking to Twitter on Jung’s resignation, CM Kejriwal said, “Sh Jung’s resignation is a surprise to me. My best wishes in all his future endeavours.”Jung, in an official statement issued, thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his cooperation during his tenure as the LG of Delhi. The exact reason behind his reasons, however, behind his resignation is yet to be known. Jung had been constantly in news for the past two years for his confrontation with the AAP’s Delhi Government and CM Arvind Kejriwal. According to India Today report, Kejriwal spoke to Jung to enquire about his resignation and Jung cited personal reasons. Speaking to the channel, Jung said, “I believe I have served Delhi & have done my job, want to spend more time with my family. I have a house in Goa also where I intend to move.”He also added that he wasn’t in the race for next Vice President. “I also intend to spend time in academic works & writing. I’m looking at universities in both America & Singapore,” he added.Union Home Secretary said that he had met Jung day before and there was no inkling of it, he said he was not aware of his resignation.Jung also thanked the people of Delhi for their support and affection, especially during the one year’s President Rule in Delhi, when received unstinted support from the people of the national capital, which in turn helped run the administration in Delhi smoothly and effortlessly. He has thanked Arvind Kejriwal “for his association in the last two years”. He had joined Indian Administrative Service in Madhya Pradesh cadre in 1973. He later served as the Joint Secretary to Government of India in the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas from 1994 onwards, and resigned in 1999.This is a developing story.(With inputs from Mohit Sharma)

Has Sanjay Bhandari fled India? Middleman played havoc with defence sector

The Bofors Scandal that rocked the Rajiv Gandhi government in 1987 brought to light the nefarious presence of middlemen in defence deals. It was a syndicate that brokered big defence deals, flaunted enviable contacts, and wielded immense influence in the corridors of power and bent the rules to its huge benefits. In April 2015, when income tax officials raided a house in a Delhi’s upscale Greater Kailash area, a new face from this intriguing world of ‘defence dealers’ came before the world. The man in question was Sanjay Bhandari, whose contact list stunned investigating agencies.

According to a Hindustan Times report in 2014, after the BJP came to power, “a top secret report of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) listed Bhandari as a close aide of (Robert) Vadra, son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, and mentioned that he was friends with the son of a former senior BJP leader”.

File image of Sanjay Bhandari. News18

File image of Sanjay Bhandari. News18

The same report states, “Bhandari’s contact list was so impressive that after the I-T raids, he could send word to Prime Minister Narendra Modi through two influential people to explore possibility of immunity in exchange of information. However, his request received a cold response and he went into a shell, deserted by his powerful friends, including cabinet ministers, senior intelligence officials, industrialists, senior judicial functionaries and power brokers”.

Now a less than two years into the investigation, Bhandari is feared to have fled the country.

According to a report published in the New Indian Express, government sources are suspecting that Bhandari might have fled the country, ditching the investigating agencies. The report states:

Government sources suspect Bhandari might have reached London via Nepal, evading a look -out notice issued against him. Bhandari was earlier stopped from boarding a London-bound British Airways flight in June.  He was charged under sections 3 and 5 of the Official Secrets Act (OSA) by Delhi Police in October after the Income Tax sleuths recovered confidential defence documents during the search operation on his premises in April

Bhandari, who like many of his professional confederates, led a luxurious shadow life and would have been under wraps, notwithstanding the bad timing of his shadow-world being exposed. In an article about Bhandari, Outlook wrote:

Bhandari was barely known to the public even though he led a five-star lifestyle and had a raft of VIP contacts, among them, as enforcement agencies claim, (Vadra), son-in-law of (Sonia). Bhandari’s shadow world would have remained hidden were it not for a routine raid by income-tax officials on some Delhi-based hawala operators early this year. While probing a particular dealer, one entry was for Rs 116 crore, on beh­alf of a Delhi-based company. A probe into this company led them to Bhandari. On 26 April, Bhandari’s offices and houses in Delhi were raided

The clout, reach, influence and access to the highest echelons of power that likes of Bhandari wield can be gauged from the fact of his alleged relation with the most powerful political family of the country. “The documents seized showed, had a range of high-level contacts, was in possession of classified documents from the defence ministry and also had properties in the UAE and London, as well as a Panama-based company. For the media, the focus remained largely on his Vadra link,” stated the Outlook report.

The extent of Bhandari’s ‘reach’ can be assessed by the fact that “documents recovered from Bhandari’s premises reveals that he made investment in two properties in Dubai and London using companies registered in tax haven countries”. The agencies are likely to question individuals linked with Bhandari. As reported by the New Indian Express, Bhandari was in touch with some top guns of the country including a top officer of the finance ministry, who retired from the service last year.

The report goes on to add that the probe that is underway has also put under the scanner ties between Bhandari, a French multinational called the Thales Group and the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS).

While the escape of Bhandari has yet to be authenticated and rests in the realm of ‘fear’, it could prove to be a major embarrassment for the Centre and investigating agencies if these fears fructify and turn to reality. Given that in March this year, liquor baron Vijay Mallya fled to London — causing much criticism to the government, Bhandari’s escape can cause more problems for the government.

The reason for the concern in the ‘feared’ fleeing of Bhandari lies the fact that his escape can derail the investigations into the kickback links between politicians, businessmen and the intermediaries running this illegal multi-million-dollar commission syndicate in the country’s defence sector.

First Published On : Dec 22, 2016 16:01 IST

Kerala govt seeks report on steps to check ragging

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking a serious view of incidents of alleged ragging in two professional colleges, the Kerala government has sought a report from educational institutions on steps to check the practise and warned of stern action against principals failing to stop it.”The report is also to ensure that students who indulge in ragging get the maximum punishment as per law,” Education Minister C Raveendranath said.He directed the higher education secretary to submit a report on steps taken by educational institutions, including professional colleges, to prevent ragging.The minister said there was a clear law to prevent physical and mental torture on students in the name of ragging and such incidents were unfortunately recurring in educational institutions.It was under these circumstances that the report was sought late last night to examine whether educational heads were discharging their responsibilities to prevent ragging. “Government will take stern action against heads of educational institutions who had committed lapses in this regard,” the minister said.Raveendranath said college principals have to submit a report on the steps taken as per law to check ragging and action initiated on complaints of ragging.As many as 21 students of a government medical college in Manjeri and seven from a Government Polytechnic College in Kottayam were suspended for allegedly ragging their juniors early this week.

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