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Jung not over? LG Anil Baijal non-commital on fixing relationship with Kejriwal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former bureaucrat Anil Baijal took over as 20th Lt Governor of Delhi and struck a cautious note on where the LG’s office will stand in repairing the fractured relationship between the Centre and AAP government which had hit rock bottom under his predecessor. 70-year-old Baijal, who had served in a number of key positions at the Centre including as Union Home Secretary, was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Chief Justice of Delhi High Court G Rohini, 10 days after Najeeb Jung’s abrupt resignation as the LG.Baijal said addressing key challenges like women’s safety, pollution, traffic congestion and strengthening infrastructure will be his priority areas.The oath ceremony was attended by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Delhi Chief Secretary MM Kutty, leader of Opposition in Delhi Assembly Vijender Gupta among others.On being asked about tussle between previous LG Jung and the city government on a range of issues including administrative control over the bureaucracy, Baijal said, “This is speculative. I don’t know why and how the relationship will improve. We will sit and talk and then you will get to know.”Welcoming Baijal’s appointment, Kejriwal said he was hopeful that under the new LG, governance in the national capital will see new momentum overcoming the past hurdles.”I am very hopeful that in the future, we all – MLAs, Delhi government, people of Delhi – will work with the Lt Governor for overall development of Delhi. “In the last few months, some works of Delhi government have come to a standstill. I hope that these works will be expedited,” Kejriwal said at an event at Delhi Assembly complex.Baijal said he will put his best efforts in improving law-and-order situation, women’s safety, traffic congestion besides strengthening infrastructure and civic amenities in the city.”Delhi is a megapolis which has several problems like women safety, law and order, huge population, infrastructure, civic agencies and congestion. We all know about these problems. We will work with elected government to solve them,” he told reporters. Baijal also thanked President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for giving him the responsibility. A 1969-batch IAS officer, Baijal had served as Union Home Secretary under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government besides holding key positions in other ministries.He was actively associated with the designing and countrywide roll-out of Rs 60,000-crore Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) launched by the Manmohan Singh government. Baijal had retired from service in 2006 as Urban Development Secretary. He had served as vice chairman of Delhi Development Authority and is known to be well versed with the city administration.The former bureaucrat was also on the executive council of think-tank Vivekananda International Foundation, several of whose former members have been appointed to senior positions by the Modi government including NSA Doval.Baijal, known to follow the rule book, will have to take a series of important decisions including on the report of Shunglu committee, set up by Jung to examine over 400 files pertaining to decisions taken by the AAP government in the last two years.The Shunglu committee has reportedly pointed out “irregularities” in some of the Kejriwal government’s decisions.His immediate task will also include appointing a new chairman of Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) which has been headless since November after the appointment of incumbent Krishna Saini was turned down by Jung.Jung and the AAP dispensation had clashed over a range of issues including transfer and posting of bureaucrats, setting up of enquiry commissions and among others.There was a running battle between L-G office and Kejriwal government with the latter constantly challenging the former’s supremacy in the city administration.Jung had won the court battle as the Delhi High Court had stamped the primacy of Lt Governor in the affairs of Government of NCT.However, AAP government had approached the Supreme Court challenging the high court verdict and during a recent hearing in the case, the apex court had said the elected government should have some powers.

Hope stalled work expedited under new LG: Arvind Kejriwal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday said he is hopeful the works that have come to a standstill in the national capital will be expedited under new Lt Governor Anil Baijal.Baijal (70), a former Union Home Secretary, took over as the Lt Governor of Delhi today. “I am very hopeful that in the future, we all – MLAs, Delhi government, people of Delhi – will work with the Lt Governor for development of Delhi. “In the last few months, some works of Delhi government have come to standstill. I hope that these works will be expedited,” Kejriwal said.Baijal’s predecessor Najeeb Jung and the Delhi government have been at loggerheads on a range of issues including transfer and posting of officers since AAP came to power. On being asked about his relationship with the AAP government after taking oath, Baijal said, “This is a speculative thing and I don’t know how the relationship will improve. We will sit together and talk.” Baijal was administered the oath of office and secrecy of Lt Governor by Chief Justice of Delhi High Court G Rohini.Apart from the Chief Minister, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, judges, Delhi Chief Secretary M M Kutty, Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, Water Minister Kapil Mishra, New Delhi MP Meenakshi Lekhi, Opposition leader Vijender Gupta and other two BJP MLAs O P Sharma and Jadgish Pradhan, senior bureaucrats attended the oath-taking ceremony. Baijal, a 1969 batch IAS officer, had served as Union Home Secretary under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, besides holding key positions in other ministries.He had retired in 2006 as secretary of the Urban Development Ministry. He was also the vice chairman of Delhi Development Authority. Baijal was actively associated with the designing and roll-out of Rs 60,000 crore Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) launched by the Manmohan Singh government. The former bureaucrat was also on the executive council of the think-tank Vivekananda International Foundation, several of whose former members have been appointed to senior positions by the Modi government including National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.

RBI’s refusal of details sheer arrogance, sets dangerous precedent: Activist Shailesh Gandhi

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

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

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

Shailesh Gandhi. Image courtesy Shailesh Gandhi’s Facebook page

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

Excerpts from the conversation:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shailesh Gandhi. Image courtesy Shailesh Gandhi’s Facebook page

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

Excerpts from the conversation:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Demonetization will cause 1.5% GDP loss

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former finance minister and Congress spokesperson P Chidambaram on Friday pegged the hit to the GDP at 1.5 per cent that is Rs 1.5 lakh crore as against former prime minister Manmohan Singh, who had pegged the loss to 2 per cent or more. He said the govt should not misread people’s patience as being happy with the demonetization, asking the Prime Minister to put an end to all restrictions on withdrawals of own money by the people and grant them back the economic freedom to withdraw as much money as they want in the new year.He said it is fair to expect that there shall be no queues outside bank branches and ATMs, that all ATMs will be open round the clock, fully stocked with currency notes, the bank will pay the money written on the cheque and not ask the drawer to draw another cheque of smaller amount.Dropping a hint that the whole demonetization exercise was PM Modi’s own brainwave, Chidambaram asked for making public the agenda note of the board of governors of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Cabinet note on the demonetization on November 8. He pointed out that RBI Governor Urjit Patel and only three non-official directors of the RBI Board met in Delhi at 5.30 pm on November 5 and took the decision to recommend demonetization of 85 per cent of the Indian currency in just 30 minutes. He wants to know how the governor and ‘three wise men’ reached such a momentous conclusion in so short a period and said that it should be made public what was discussed and if there were any dissents.Chidambaram said it would bring out the truth that everything was prescribed to both the RBI Board and the union ministers at the Cabinet meeting to have the command performance (as per the PM’s wish). He said he only hopes that there would not be another ‘surgical strike’ of this dimension on the people. Taunting at the BJP leaders describing the bank note withdrawal as a ‘surgical strike’, he said, “it should rather put all surgeons to shame.”

Fresh twist in Arunachal Pradesh, Pema Khandu claims support of 49 MLAs

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As a fresh political drama unfolded in Arunachal Pradesh after Chief Minister Pema Khandu was suspended from PPA along with six other MLAs, his government on Friday claimed majority support and the BJP backed him, but the ruling party said there will be change in leadership.The Pema Khandu government claimed support of 49 of the 60 MLAs, including 35 of Peoples Party of Arunachal (PPA) legislators, a day after he was suspended from his own party.Government spokesperson Bamang Felix claimed that 35 out of the 43 PPA MLAs have reposed their faith and allegiance in the leadership of Khandu.”We have support of 49 MLAs including 35 PPA, 12 BJP along with one associate BJP member and one independent,” he claimed at a press conference here.”Everything is going normally as usual and the chief minister is still enjoying absolute majority from PPA, BJP and independent MLAs,” Felix said in response to queries.The PPA, which has total 43 MLAs, had midnight last night temporarily suspended Khandu, deputy chief minister Chhowna Mein and five other MLAs from the primary membership of the party for their alleged “anti-party activities”.Stating that there was no question of change in leadership, Felix said, “We are looking at the legal aspects of the suspension of seven MLAs including Khandu.” “The PPA is not a single man party. Whatever decision was taken by the party’s president Kahfa Bengia was his own.”We are trying to sort out the differences among the party MLAs and our door is open for all,” the spokesman added.Responding to a query on BJP s claim that process is on for the PPA MLAs to join it, Felix said that since PPA is an alliance partner of BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) government “no such question arises”.Bengia on his part said that Takam Pario, PHED minister, is likely to be the next chief minister.”The sudden decision of the PPA is not acceptable to us as they have never discussed with us. In the interest of development of the state and its people, BJP cannot be a party to change of government every six months,” BJP legislature party leader Tamiyo Taga told a press conference.Taga, who is also the Textile and Handicraft Minister, further said that the party has decided to support Khandu on the floor of the assembly if the Governor issues directives for a floor test.Khandu broke away from the Congress along with 42 lawmakers in September this year, managing a coup that suddenly left the party out of power in the state.Arunachal has been battling political instability since December last year when Congress dissidents revolted against former chief minister Nabam Tuki.After a series of dramatic developments, which included a special session held at a hotel to vote out Tuki, Congress rebel Kalikho Pul became chief minister in February with the help of 11 BJP lawmakers.The Congress then moved Supreme Court, which turned the clock back and restored Tuki’s government.But Tuki was out within days as he did not enjoy a majority in the 60-member assembly.Pul, who insisted that he be reinstated as chief minister, was left alone in the last minute when lawmakers supposedly backing him shifted their loyalties to Khandu.Pul committed suicide in August and a month later, Khandu walked out of Congress with 42 lawmakers and joined the PPA.

Crisis in Arunachal: PPA suspends CM Khandu and six others from primary membership

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> In a fast-paced development, the Peoples’ Party of Arunachal (PPA) late on Thursday night suspended Chief Minister Pema Khandu, Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein and five other party MLAs from the primary membership of the party temporarily with immediate effect for alleged anti-party activities.The five other MLAs are Jambey Tashi (Lumla), Passang Dorjee Sona (Mechuka), Chow Tewa Mein (Chowkham), Zingnu Namchom (Namsai) and Kamlung Mossang (Miao). PPA President Kahfa Bengia in an order stated that by virtue of the power vested in him by the Constitution of the party and the resolution adopted in the state executive committee meeting held on December 20, the MLAs are placed under suspension temporarily from the primary membership with immediate effect pending initiation of disciplinary proceedings.Bengia said prima facie he was satisfied with the proofs of their indulgence in gross “anti-party” activities. The order further stated that with the suspension, Khandu ceased to be the leader of the PPA Legislature Party.He directed the party MLAs and PPA functionaries not to attend any meeting called by Khandu and said that any members failing to comply with the order would have to face disciplinary action of the party.Bengia, in a letter to Assembly Speaker T Norbu Thongdok requested him to declare the suspended MLAs as unattached members of the House and arrange separate sitting for them in the House. He further requested the Speaker to communicate the development to the Governor

Note ban policy: RBI’s autonomy under threat, say experts

New Delhi: Has the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) under its new governor, Urjit Patel, surrendered its hard-fought autonomy? Many experts feel so, particularly after the manner in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s government has handled the demonetisation drive.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, also a former governor of the RBI and a finance minister, lamented in Parliament recently that constant modifications in the country’s banking system following demonetisation was not good for the country or the RBI.

RBI Governor Urjit Patel. PTIRBI Governor Urjit Patel. PTI

RBI Governor Urjit Patel. PTI

“That reflects very poorly on the Prime Minister’s office, on the Finance Minister’s office and on the Reserve Bank of India,” he told the Rajya Sabha last month. “I’m very sorry the Reserve Bank of India has been exposed to this sort of criticism, which I think is fully justified.”

What is unclear in this whole exercise is how much say the country’s central bank — the apex monetary policy authority, established on April 1, 1935, following the enactment of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934 — had in the policy decision.

“The government said the RBI has recommended the demonetisation. I do not know whether the government has forced the RBI to ask or the RBI took the call on its own,” RBI’s former Deputy Governor K.C. Chakrabarty told IANS over phone from London.

“I’ll not be able to say (on RBI’s views being valued) unless the minutes of the board meet is shown,” he added, alluding to some interference by the government, since RBI’s position has always been against demonetisation.

“That was the consistent view of the Reserve Bank in the past,” Chakrabarty said.

In a reply to Bloomberg, on a right-to-information query, the apex bank said that the decision to withdraw the legal tender character of the Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes was taken by the RBI board at 5.30 p.m. on November 8 — less than three hours before Modi announced it to the country.

Overnight, Rs 15.44 lakh crore or 86 percent of the currency in circulation was declared illegal. Norms were announced by the Prime Minister on how people could deal with such currency in their possession — which were subsequently changed on an almost daily basis.

Regarding autonomy, Chakrabarty said: “You must understand the autonomy that the RBI was getting from the government was because the government was to give the autonomy to the institution. If the government does not want to give anybody autonomy, the RBI cannot do anything.”

West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra was more direct.

“Most eminent people in India have been RBI governors, including the present governor (Urjit Patel). He is a good economist. Now the same autonomous institution has lost its teeth. It has been issuing notices and withdrawing notices as per government’s instructions,” Mitra told IANS.

“What is very dangerous regarding demonetisation has gone unnoticed. The deeper issue is that fundamental institutions of India of historic nature are being undermined and emasculated. Therefore, the faith in them by the people is under question today,” he added.

The money that was declared illegal is yet to be replaced in any substantial measure — at last count, the RBI said Rs 5.93 lakh crore of new Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 have been issued. Since November 10, most ATMs across the country have remained shut and those which do open their shutters run dry of cash very quickly. Bank cash counters have the same woes, despite restrictions on the amount that individuals or companies can withdraw.

Many bankers too seemed to have lost faith on the towering apex institution.

“Yes, the RBI seems to have lost its autonomy in the issue of demonetisation which has been totally mismanaged,” a chief executive of a bank told IANS, declining to be named.

“The RBI should have advised the government on the ground reality about withdrawing 86 percent of the currency notes in circulation and the logistical issues,” he added, suggesting that the central bank should have stuck to its ground.

In fact, Duvvuri Subbarao, former RBI Governor and Finance Secretary, has been rather candid about his relationship with the government and the finance minister (P. Chidambaram at that time) when he was at the helm at Mint Street, the headquarters of the RBI in Mumbai.

“Both have the same objective of growth, but RBI looks at long-term growth and the government looks at short term growth that results in different priorities for both. There is no way out,” Subbarao told IANS.

“It all depends on the chemistry between the finance minister and the governor,” he said.

But experts hope the question of autonomy could come under less pressure, now that a Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has been named and has started functioning — with three representatives each from the government and the RBI, and the veto power with the Governor.

“I support formation of MPC, though it will curtail the decision-making powers of the RBI Governor,” said Subbarao. “The Governor will discuss and listen to all stakeholders in the committee, so he will not be solely responsible for the decision on interest rates.”

But some domain experts like M.R. Sivaraman, former Union Revenue Secretary and former Executive Director at the International Monetary Fund, don’t think demonetisation exercise, at least, reflects loss of the RBI’s autonomy. On the contrary, they feel it is RBI that should have handled the situation better.

“Demonetisation will curb black money, eliminate fake currency and bring out unaccounted cash stashed away into the banking system,” said former Infosys board member T.V. Mohandas Pai, dismissing suggestions about loss of independence.

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 19:26 IST

Can Viral Acharya, RBI’s new deputy governor solve Mint Street’s communication block?

It’s been only a few hours since his name was announced as the new deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in charge of monetary policy, but Viral Acharya is already a star. Media reports describe him as ‘Poor man’s Rajan’, picking the phrase from one of his old interviews, while some wrote about how the cricketer, singer and poet Acharya also has a music album to his credit.

The newfound stardom and fanfare accompanying Acharya in Indian media reminds one the initial days of Raghuram Rajan, former RBI governor, who was often called as a ‘rock star’ governor of Mint Street and James Bond who’s put the “sex” back into the Sensex’. At 42, Acharya, is the youngest deputy governor of the RBI. One needn’t be surprised if he morphs into a ‘junior rock star’ in media.

Viral Acharya - RBI Deputy Governor. Image courtesy - NYU-Stern.Viral Acharya - RBI Deputy Governor. Image courtesy - NYU-Stern.

Viral Acharya – RBI Deputy Governor. Image courtesy – NYU-Stern.

But once the welcome party is over, there is a trial by fire awaiting Acharya, who is entering the RBI at a time when the economy is fighting a self-imposed demonetisation crisis and the central bank itself is fighting a major trust deficit and credibility crisis, due to the way it has handled the Modi government’s decision on the evening of 8 November to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes.

Acharya needs to hit the ground running making the RBI’s voice heard in the monetary policy committee (MPC) on the course of interest rates in a challenging economic scenario. Since there is already an MPC with experts in place, Acharya’s task wouldn’t be too tough as in the old days when the monetary policy was solely the central bank’s responsibility.

Nevertheless, there is likely to be pressure from the ruling political dispensation for steeper rate cuts in the backdrop of a sharp decline in economic growth due to the demonetisation-induced cash crunch.

The RBI itself has lowered the GDP forecast for the fiscal year 2017 to 7.1 percent from 7.6 per cent while forecasters have gone even more pessimistic forecasts (one even predicted 3.5 percent for current year).

Acharya isn’t a big fan of ultra-loose monetary policies though. He believes such a policy stance ,when introduced in a weak banking system, can turn out to be disastrous. In an interview given to Bloomberg Quint, Acharya had said, “We are yet struggling to figure out what the global economies are from the ultra-loose monetary policy. Whereas, now we are seeing emerging evidence of the unintended consequences that these policies have had. So, the biggest problem that I worry with low interest rates is when parts of your banking sectors aren’t healthy; it’s a recipe for disaster.” This was in the global context, but applies to India as well.

On the bad loan issue, one of the big headaches for India’s policymakers, Acharya had made two important remarks in the same interview.

First, to hive off bad loans into a separate entity. Acharya had said that Indian banking system need to create a bad-loan bank to separate the good assets from the bad. “I am absolutely proposing, either explicitly or implicitly, that we separate the unhealthy parts of the troubled banks from the healthy parts,” Acharya said.

Secondly, he warned that taking profit from the RBI and using it for the recapitalisation of state-run banks is a solution to the capital problems of India’s PSU banks.

“I don’t think half-baked solutions like taking the RBI’s profits and putting them into public sector banks is the way to go. I think that is just like putting on a band aid and actually it’s a pretty bad band aid in my opinion, because it, kind of, distances the fiscal authority from the monetary, it reduces the distance of the two. It, kind of, almost says that central bank should generate profit because you have to recapitalise the public sector. Everything smells wrong about it.”

Interestingly, one of the thought processes within the Modi government when it announced demonetisation was that the exercise will create some fiscal boost in the form of a ‘windfall’ profit from the RBI when its currency liability goes down.

The idea didn’t work since most of the money demonetised returned to the banking system and RBI governor Urjit Patel clarified that there is no such plan to transfer a one-time surplus to the government on the cards. India’s PSU banks are reeling under heavy bad-loan burden (totalling Rs 6 lakh crore as on September) and need huge capital to meet their Basel-III credit requirements, credit expansion needs and bad loan provisioning.

In a research paper co-authored with Krishnamurthy V. Subramanian of Indian School of Business — State intervention in banking: the relative health of Indian public sector and private sector bank — Acharya had said that many of the problems faced by Indian public sector banks are due to their lack of efficient human resources (he cited the P J Nayak committee report here), their inability to adapt to a rapidly changing technology and the issue of dual regulation of these banks by both the RBI and finance ministry. In the paper, Acharya strongly advocated that in the due course some of the public sector banks will have to by privatised.

“Over the long run, some of the public sector banks can be privatised or their assets reallocated. Some of them could be acquired by the relatively well-capitalised private sector firms; the ones with worst asset quality could be wound down; and, greater entry of smaller and newer banks can be enabled to yet maintain healthy levels of competition,” Acharya said.

As Patel’s deputy in charge of monetary policy, there is no clarity whether Acharya will have a say in the bad loan resolution issue. But, if he continues to argue for some of the above recommendations in the past, he may run into trouble with the government, especially on the issue of using RBI profit to recapitalise state-run banks.

But, beyond these two issues — monetary policy and banking sector NPAs — what one needs to watch is whether Acharya can offer a solution to the communication block the Reserve Bank is suffering ever since Patel took over as RBI governor. Over the years, especially during the tenure of Raghuram Rajan, the RBI has taken serious efforts to improve the central bank’s communication to the public also using public engagements of the RBI top brass to converse and clarify key policy decisions with various stakeholders. This was done with the assessment that effective communication is equally critical for a central bank as much as taking policy decisions.

But, arguably, the RBI under Patel has been a failure to carry forward this effort, especially during the demonetisation rollout. Former RBI deputy governor, Usha Thorat, in a column in The Indian Express, criticised the RBI for not communicating to the desired extent on certain critical aspects of demonetisation. “The RBI top management must communicate more through the media and speaking opportunities. This is necessary in the interest of transparency and credibility. It generates confidence that the RBI believes in honest communication,” Thorat said. Governor Patel’s prolonged silence since 8 November, despite uncertainty on cash crunch gripping the public, had attracted strong criticism.

Can Acharya, an articulate academic, fill the void of the effective communicator in the central bank? “Perhaps he can,” said Gaurav Kapur, an independent economist. “ Not just on the demonetisation issue, but on other policy decisions as well. Acharya can be the person to communicate the RBI’s policy decisions more effectively, which was largely missing during the demonetisation episode,” Kapur said.

Over to you Mr Acharya.

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 12:38 IST

Anil Baijal is next Delhi L-G: Will Arvind Kejriwal now steer away from collision course?

Former Union home secretary Anil Baijal is all set become the new Lieutenant Governor of the National Capital Territory of Delhi. He is yet another high-profile appointee from New Delhi-based think tank Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF) to get a top government position.

Baijal’s appointment as next LG of Delhi marks the closure of a weeklong suspense on the successor of Najeeb Jung who made a surprise announcement of his resignation on 22 December. Sources said it took some time for the Modi government to accept Jung’s resignation and name his successor because President Pranab Mukherjee was on his customary southern sojourn to Hyderabad.

Delhi L-G designate Anil Baijal. Image courtesy News18Delhi L-G designate Anil Baijal. Image courtesy News18

Delhi L-G designate Anil Baijal. Image courtesy News18

Another informed source told Firstpost that three things went in Baijal’s favour — first, he had been Union home secretary in the Vajpayee government, with LK Advani at the helm in home ministry; second, he had been 1969 batch IAS officer of AGMUT (Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-Mizoram and Union Territory) cadre who had served in Delhi and outside in various capacities; third, he has good equations with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. Given the contours of the present ruling establishment, his proximity with Doval is considered to be a big positive that went in his favour and that made him a frontrunner to take up this constitutional post in Delhi.

The founder director of VIF Ajit Doval is NSA, Nripendra Misra as principal secretary to the Prime Minister is another top notch person from VIF in government, distinguished fellow A Surya Prakash is Prasar Bharati chairman, and former DRDO chief VK Saraswat, who served in VIF is a full-time member of the Niti Aayog. KG Suresh now DG of Indian Institute of Mass Communication had been editor of VIF. Baijal is the latest high-profile Modi government appointee who had been associated with VIF and Doval.

Taking into account his experience in the North Block, Baijal’s tenure as Union home secretary will come handy in carrying out his responsibilities as the new L-G. The L-G designate is well conversant with Delhi’s constitutional and administrative position, as also of political nuances. More so given the kind of conflict situations that arose almost on a daily basis between Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Baijal’s predecessor Najeeb Jung, Baijal’s ability in maintaining the fine balance or managing potential conflict situations with incumbent AAP government will be closely watched.

Delhi has a unique position as a Union Territory or as a half state where most of the executive powers rest with the L-G and not with the elected government. In a judgment delivered in August this year, Delhi High Court settled the constitutionality of who is the boss in Delhi. The verdict had come as a body blow to the Kejriwal government. The high court ruled that Lieutenant Governor is the administrative head of Delhi. All decisions taken by elected government ministers must be communicated to him. Unlike governors in other states, the Lieutenant Governor in Delhi isn’t bound by the ministers’ advice. In the event of a dispute between the L-G and the Delhi chief minister, their decisions should be communicated to the Centre for a final call.

The Kejriwal government has yet not reacted to the appointment of Baijal as the L-G. It would perhaps wait for situations to unfold to make its first observation. Given the nature of strained relations between the Kejriwal government in Delhi and Modi government at the Centre, any restraint by AAP leaders from making sharp and quick reactions could be considered a healthy development, at least for now.

What had troubled AAP most during their two-year long business interaction with Jung as L-G was the latter’s abilities to read the fine prints on files. Like Jung, Baijal too is gentle, suave and articulate. The Aam Admi Party thus could take its time before making an assessment of the new L-G and make either kind of comments on him.

This writer had earlier noted that the manner in which Jung and Kejriwal parted ways would ever be heartening. Two men who had fought bitterly to protect their respective turf put on a rare display of civility buried the hatchet and walked away. Jung invited Kejriwal for breakfast, and the latter left his residence on a happy note. Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia also met the outgoing lieutenant governor and spoke of happy memories, with no trace of the bitterness that marked their last two years.

The way Jung chose to voluntarily quit the coveted L-G post has made him distinct from the rest of his peers, present and past occupying Raj Bhawans and Raj Niwas. Governors or lieutenant governors usually make headlines only when they are sacked by an incoming regime, or when they commit some outlandish act in contravention to the constitutional protocol. Appointment of a governor is big news only for those concerned, not the public at large. Jung, however, is a different case. His appointment, tenure, and departure would all be discussed for a long time to come, and even be cited as a case study by students of Indian politics.

Baijal has a task cut out for him. Each of his moves would be closely scrutinised by the people of Delhi, media and political parties. His actions would naturally be compared and contrasted with his predecessor, Jung.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 20:11 IST

Former Union Home Secretary Anil Baijal likely to be new Delhi LG

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Career bureaucrat Anil Baijal looks set to become the next Lt Governor of Delhi, a post which has fallen vacant after sudden resignation of Najeeb Jung.A 1969 batch IAS officer, Baijal had served as Union Home Secretary under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government besides holding key positions in other ministries. 70-year-old Baijal, whose appointment papers have been sent to President Pranab Mukherjee for his approval, had retired from service in 2006 as Secretary, Urban Development Ministry. He is a former vice chairman of Delhi Development Authority.Baijal was actively associated with the designing and roll-out of Rs 60,000 crore Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) launched by the Manmohan Singh government. The former bureaucrat was also on the executive council of the think-tank Vivekananda International Foundation, several of whose former members have been appointed to senior positions by the Modi government including National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.Jung had submitted his resignation on December 22, ending a nearly three-and-half-year-long eventful tenure, mostly marked by bitter confrontation with AAP government. Meanwhile, the government today recommended to the President, who on his annual winter sojourn at Rashtrapathi Nilayam in Secunderabad, acceptance of Jung’s resignation.

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

Nine months after Sreehari Aney’s resignation, Maharashtra Cabinet approves Rohit Deo as next advocate general

Mumbai: The BJP-led Maharashtra government has chosen acting Advocate General Rohit Deo as its next Advocate General, nine months after his predecessor Sreehari Aney quit the post following a huge row triggered by his espousal of statehood for the Vidarbha and Marathwada regions.

A meeting of the state Cabinet, chaired by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, recommended elevation of Deo to the AG’s post to Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, a senior official said.

Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis. File photo. PTI

Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis. File photo. PTI

Aney had courted controversy by advocating statehood for Vidarbha and Marathwada regions, which was vehemently opposed by the ruling partner Shiv Sena.

The Sena had then seized on the issue to target the BJP, which, as matter of policy, favoured smaller states, despite Fadnavis asserting that bifurcation of Maharashtra was not on his government’s agenda.

The government had recently filed an affidavit in the Bombay High Court, saying the post will be filled by the end of this month.

The Division Bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Anuja Prabhudessai was hearing a petition filed by Congress MLC Sanjay Dutt, urging the court to direct the state to appoint an A-G under Article 165 of the Constitution.

The court had criticised the state for not complying with the deadline of 23 December and had adjourned the matter to 9 January.

It had earlier observed that constitutional and statutory functions were suffering due to the non-appointment of the AG and has hurt the cause of justice.

On 18 November, 2014, Sunil Manohar was appointed as the AG, but he resigned on 9 June, 2015. On 11 June, 2015, additional Solicitor General Anil Singh was given the additional post of acting A-G. On 14 October, 2015, Aney was appointed as the AG, and he resigned on 22 March, 2016.

Reacting to the decision, Dutt claimed that the government was compelled to take a decision on the matter after he moved the high court.

In a tweet, Dutt said, “The government has conceded my demand and finally appointed Acting AG as AG.”

“However, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis needs to answer why he waited for nine months to appoint Acting AG as the new AG,” said Dutt.

“Maharashtra Chief Minister speaks of good governance but his indecisiveness reflects lack of governance! If acting AG Rohit Deo only was to be made the AG, why the government had waited for 280 days?” he asked in another tweet.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 14:07 IST

Government appoints Viral Acharya as RBI deputy governor

Government appoints Viral Acharya as RBI deputy governor

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The government has appointed Viral V. Acharya, a professor of economics at New York University, as one of the Reserve Bank of India’s four deputy governors for a term of three years, according to a statement on Wednesday.

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The RBI had a vacancy for deputy governor after Urjit Patel was promoted to Governor earlier this year.

The statement did not mention which portfolio Acharya would be assigned. Patel had headed the prestigious monetary policy, which is now overseen by RBI Deputy Governor R. Gandhi as part of a widened remit.

Acharya teaches at the Stern School of Business in New York university. According to his resume, he has research interests in regulation of banks, corporate finance, credit risk and asset pricing.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 13:45 IST

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BJP accuses Rama Mohana Rao of ‘doing politics’ by thanking Rahul and Mamata

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> BJP on Tuesday lashed out at former Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary P Rama Mohana Rao over his critical remarks on Income Tax raids at his home and office and charged him with “doing politics” by thanking West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.Party’s state unit President Tamilisai Sounderrajan said no one is above the law and sought to know why Rao would talk about the state’s security when an elected Chief Minister was there to take care of it. “By thanking Mamata Banerjee and Rahul Gandhi, his intentions are clear. It is clear that he is brazenly doing politics,” she said in a statement. She asked if he was “challenging” the Chief Minister and Governor by his remarks.”Who is he to say that there is no security for the people of Tamil Nadu? Why is he bothered when there is an elected Chief Minister? (to take care of that),” she said. Further, the Income Tax department can carry out checks anywhere in connection with a probe, she said responding to Rao’s contention that the tax men’s search warrant did not have his name.Tamilisai also slammed Rao for claiming that he continued to be state Chief Secretary and termed it as “arrogant.” “Overall his remarks amount to impeding the peaceful situation in Tamil Nadu. The fact is he has become a wrong precedent by a wrong action (of talking to the media). It is amazing that an official does not have the patience to wait for law to take its own course,” she added.

Mamata govt filed FIR against Zee News reporters for covering Dhulagarh riots, says Sudhir Chaudhury

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a case of crackdown on press freedom, a non-bailable warrant was filed against Zee News reporters by the government of West Bengal for covering the Dhulagarh riots, claims Zee News editor Sudhir Chaudhury.. He wrote on Twitter: “@MamataOfficial Govt files FIR against me& @ZeeNews reporter for covering #DhulagarhRiots with Non Bailable sections. FIR for showing truth?”Zee News Chief Editor Sudhir Chaudhary wrote on Facebook: “ Just to inform all of you Mamta Banerjee Govt has filed an FIR against me and ZeeNews reporter Pooja Mehta and cameraperson Tanmay Mukherjee for covering Dhulagarh Riots on Zee News.The FIR has non bailable sections which is enough to gauge their intentions to arrest me and my colleagues. Pooja Mehta is just 25 and got the taste of Mamta’s intolerance so early in life in the form of a non bailable FIR.This is what a young girl reporter getting to learn from a woman chief minister who claims to be the champion of democracy.It’s another low point in our democracy to see a democratically elected govt using police force to curb media in an effort to suppress uncomfortable facts and reality.When you can’t manage media,use the state machinery to conquer the media only to conceal the failures of your administration. It shows the intolerance of a chief minister who is using the state machinery as her personal fiefdom and acting like a feudal lord. I see the positive side of this blunder as a window for all free minds of this nation to act and show fascist forces their actual place. Or once again Selfish Politics will prevail? That’s my fear. #IntolerantMamta”On December 13, clashes between two communities erupted following the Milad-ul-Nabi celebrations in Dhulagarh. Locals in the village alleged that ‘unprovoked’ clashes erupted after an infuriated mob in a procession of Milad-ul-Nabi celebrations started charging bombs at the houses. However, members in the procession allege that they were prevented from taking out the procession, following which violent clashes broke out.A week after clashes erupted in Howrah district’s Dhulagarh, the Bengal governor Keshari Nath Trpathi summoned Bengal Director General of Police (DGP), Surajit Kar Purkayastha on Thursday. This comes a day after BJP Rajya Sabha MP Roopa Ganguly led a delegation and met the victims of Dhulagarh incident.Disclaimer: Zee News is DNA’s sister organisation.

Adarsh scam: Congress MP Ashok Chavan challenges nod granted to CBI to prosecute him

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress MP Ashok Chavan has approached the Bombay High Court challenging a decision of Maharashtra Governor C Vidyasagar Rao granting sanction to CBI to prosecute him in the Adarsh housing society scam.In February this year, Governor Rao had granted sanction to the CBI to prosecute Chavan for offences under IPC sections 120 (b)(criminal conspiracy) and 420 (cheating and under various provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, in the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society case.The CBI had accused the former state Chief Minister of approving additional floor space index for Adarsh society in return for two flats for his relatives. He was also charged with illegally approving, as the then Revenue Minister, allotment of 40 per cent of the flats to civilians.Chavan, in his petition filed recently, challenged the sanction order and said it was “arbitrary, illegal and unjust” and passed without “proper application of mind” and with “malafide intentions”.The petition, which came up for hearing on December 22, was then adjourned. It will now come up for hearing before a division bench of the high court on January 23, 2017.Earlier, Chavan was forced to step down from the post of the Chief Minister in November 2010 after the allegations emerged against him.While the CBI named him as an accused in its FIR, in December 2013 the then Governor K Sankaranarayanan had refused permission to it to prosecute Chavan in the scam, leaving the central probe agency with no choice but to close the case against him.However, in March last year, the high court dismissed a plea made by Chavan, who is the sitting Lok Sabha MP from Nanded, seeking deletion of his name from the case, as the Governor had refused to grant sanction.Following this, the CBI re-approached the Governor seeking sanction, which was granted in February this year.

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.

BJP submits ‘charge sheet’ against Himachal govt, Virbhadra terms it ‘bundle of lies’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Himachal Pradesh BJP on Saturday submitted a “charge sheet” to the Governor against the alleged “omission and commission” by the Congress government, which completed four years in office, even as Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh termed it as a “bundle of lies”.The Congress government in the state celebrated four years in office today by organising a rally at Dharamsala which was addressed by party vice president Rahul Gandhi.The 75-page “charge sheet” submitted to Governor Acharya Devvrat includes allegations against the Chief Minister, his Cabinet colleagues, Congress leaders and 41 individuals and institutions and demands a probe into these charges by a central investigating agency.It also highlights the “failures” of the state government in developmental front, accuses it of financial mismanagement and its lukewarm attitude in implementing the projects sanctioned by the Modi government at the Centre.The charges levelled by BJP against Virbhadra Singh are a compendium of cases registered against him by various agencies and alleged misuse of office.Terming the “charge sheet” by BJP against his government a “bundle of lies”, the Chief Minister said, “It is an old habit of BJP to make false allegations. It had submitted similar “charge sheet” twice in the past and implicated me in false cases but I was acquitted by courts.” Singh claimed the Congress government has ensured overall development of the state during the last four years and the charge sheet was prepared out of “frustration” of BJP leaders.State irrigation and public health minister Vidya Stokes, health and family welfare minister Kaul Singh Thakur and agriculture minister Sujan Singh Pathania termed it a “futile exercise” as the charges were “contrary” to facts.Reacting to accusations of corruption, they claimed the state government has adopted a policy of zero tolerance towards corruption and if BJP leaders have any proof, they should go to the Lokayukta. Else the party should seek apology from the people.

PM Modi lays Foundation for Rs 3,600-crore grand memorial for Shivaji Maharaj

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the Foundation for a Rs 3,600-crore grand memorial for Shivaji Maharaj off the city coast on Saturday, an event that comes a few months ahead of the civic polls and amid tussle among parties to claim the legacy of the 17th century warrior king. Modi, accompanied by select dignitaries, including Governor Vidyasagar Rao, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray, sailed in a hovercraft from Girgaum Chowpatty beach in south Mumbai to reach near the memorial site, some 1.5km off the coast.The PM performed the ‘jalpujan’ at the designated spot, symbolically marking the start of construction of the magnificent memorial in the Arabian Sea, which, according to the state government, is going to be the tallest such structure in the world. Shivaji’s descendants Udayanraje Bhosale and Sambhaji Raje (both Parliamentarians) were also on board the hovercraft. Before the event, Fadnavis handed over to Modi a ‘kalash’ (vase) containing river waters and soil collected from all districts in Maharashtra.When the hovercraft reached the memorial site, Modi immersed the ‘kalash’ in the sea. The PM also inspected a float depicting Shivaji Maharaj’s coronation. During the ceremony, Modi was seen talking to Thackeray, whose party, despite being an ally, has been a bitter critic of many of the BJP-led NDA Government’s decisions, including demonetization. Earlier in the day, Sena alleged the BJP has “hijacked” the occasion to reap political benefit.In October last year, Thackeray had ‘boycotted’ a foundation stone-laying ceremony for the Ambedkar memorial, apparently after he was denied a seat along side the PM on the dais. The proposed memorial’s main feature will be an imposing 192-metre-tall statue of a triumphant Maratha king riding a horse. The statue will be surrounded by an art museum, an amphitheatre, auditorium, exhibition gallery and other facilities.In run up to the ceremony and Modi’s visit, the BJP government launched an advertisement blitzkrieg. Maharashtra’s nodal agency for information dissemination, DGIPR, had instructed officials in districts to put hoardings and posters celebrating the event. The government also released radio jingles, newspaper and television advertisements, and online commercials to promote the grand ceremony.With elections to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) round the corner, the BJP in Maharashtra left no stone unturned to ensure Modi’s official visit here also boosts the party’s chances in the crucial elections. Shiv Sena is ruling the BMC for over two decades in alliance with BJP. The event marking laying of foundation for the memorial is being seen as the BJP Government’s ‘vachanpurti’ (fulfilment of Assembly poll promise).The state government had ordered collection of water from all rivers across Maharashtra and soil from historic sites, which were brought to Mumbai in metal pots (kalash) on Friday. This was then collected in a large pot, which Modi immersed at the ‘jal pujan’ site. The ‘jal pujan’ ‘muhurt’ at the memorial site was at 2.59 PM. Three hovercraft were roped in to carry the PM and other dignitaries to the 16.5-hectare rock islet off the coast along Girgaum Chowpatty.Major political parties, including BJP and Shiv Sena, are competing to claim the legacy of Chhatrapati Shivaji, a highly revered figure in Maharashtra and across the country. BJP’s bickering ally Shiv Sena as well as Opposition Congress and NCP are miffed the way the ruling party is trying to “appropriate” the legacy of the Maratha king. Sena, which has always claimed the legacy of Shivaji, faced a challenge on that front for the first time from the BJP in 2014, when General Elections changed the social and caste equations with aspiring Marathas, OBCs and some Dalit factions joined hands with the saffron party. The memorial project has been facing stiff opposition from fisherfolk and environmentalists, who have alleged it would affect marine life and ecology of the Arabian Sea.

Not a government of Sonia Gandhi where institutions can be over ruled and subverted: BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Coming down heavily on former prime minister Dr. Manmohan Singh who sought to know whether the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) was given sufficient time to hold deliberations on the government’s demonetization move, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has said the present dispensation, unlike the UPA tenure, does not ‘subvert and over rule’ the institutions and perform their duties mandated by the constitution.”As far as institutions under the present dispensation is concerned, every regulator is performing their duty as mandated by the constitution and this is not the government of Sonia Gandhi where institutions can be over ruled and subverted,” BJP leader GVL Narasimha Rao said.Rao said Singh worked as a puppet in the hands of Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi and accused the former prime minister of subverting the institutions for political benefit.”Manmohan Singh himself had lacked authority as the prime minister even when Rahul Gandhi went on a rampage and tore ordinance papers that were cleared by Singh and he talks about institutions, I find it rather curious,” Rao added.During a meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on Finance on Thursday Singh suggested that the panel, which is looking into the demonetization decision, call government officials to depose before it hears RBI Governor Urjit Patel.The issue was being discussed in presence of independent experts, including economists Rajiv Kumar and Mahesh Vyas, former chief statistician Pronab Sen and Kavita Rao of National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, who had been called to offer their views to the panel. Three of the experts were critical of the demonetization decision.RBI governor Patel will brief the panel on January 18 or 19 on demonetization and its implications, while government officials, mostly from the Finance Ministry, will be asked to depose before it on January 11 or 12.

PM Modi in Maharashtra for inauguration of Shivaji memorial, Mumbai and Pune metro

Mumbai: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be on a day’s visit to Maharashtra on Saturday, where he will lay foundation stones for the grand memorial of Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and the metro rail projects in Mumbai and Pune.

Modi will inaugurate the newly-built campus of the National Institute of Securities Management in MIDC Patalganga in neighbouring Raigad district.

He will then proceed to the site in the Arabian Sea off Mumbai coast, where the state government is planning to build a mega memorial for Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

The Prime Minister’s visit assumes political significance as the high-stake elections to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) are just a few months away.

Narendra Modi. PTINarendra Modi. PTI

Narendra Modi. PTI

The main feature of the Shivaji memorial, slated to cost Rs 3,600 crore, will be a 192-metre-tall statue of the iconic Maratha king. The site is a rocky outcrop, roughly 1.5 km from the Raj Bhavan shore.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis recently said the ‘Shiv Smarak’ will not only be the tallest memorial in the country, but in the entire world. He had thanked Modi for “making it possible.”

Later, Modi will address a public function at the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) ground in suburban Bandra, after laying foundation stone for two Metro rail projects, Elevated Rail Corridors Project and Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL).

Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, whose party is an ally of ruling BJP, is expected to share the dais with Modi at the MMRDA event.

The PM will then leave for Pune, where he will lay the foundation stone of the Pune Metro Rail project. NCP leader Sharad Pawar will share the stage with Modi at this event.

The memorial project has been facing stiff opposition from fisherfolk and environmentalists, who have alleged that it would affect marine life and ecology of the Arabian Sea.

A rally was flagged off at Chembur on Saturday, where representatives from various districts gathered with collections of sand and soil from Chhatrapati Shivaji’s forts across the state.

The rally led by a ‘Shivaji chariot’ will conclude at the Gateway of India, where the Chief Minister will receive the vase carrying water and soil from all districts of the state. This will then be handed over to the Prime Minister and carried to the memorial site.

For the MMRDA event, the government has sent out invitation to over 3,000 VVIPs and dignitaries, including members of the royal family and Shivaji historians.

Ever since it came to power in Maharashtra in October 2014, BJP has been quietly trying to usurp the near-monopoly that bickering ally Shiv Sena has held over the 17th century Maratha king for the last many years.

Ahead of the Maharashtra Assembly election in 2014, BJP had used the name of Chhatrapati Shivaji for electoral gains, with a famous tagline seeking to evoke Shivaji’s blessings.

The government and BJP are trying to make the memorial event a success with hoardings at important places of all districts and also through campaigns in print, TV and social media.

Meanwhile, an official said those who would accompany Modi in the hovercraft to the jalpujan and bhumipujan venue off Mumbai coast, will include Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, Chief Minister Fadnavis, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, NCP’s Satara MP Udayanraje Bhosale and BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP from Kolhapur Sambhaji Raje Bhosle.

First Published On : Dec 24, 2016 09:02 IST

BJP delegation to visit Dhulagarh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Following communal tension at Dhulagarh in Howrah district of West Bengal since last week, a team of three BJP Central leaders will visit the violence affected area and meet the families of victims.The team will comprise of Lok Sabha MPs Jagdambika Pal and Satyapal Singh. Rajya Sabha MP Roopa Ganguly was supposed to be the third member of the team but had been excluded because of her health conditions. She had fallen sick suddenly and had been admitted to AMRI Hospital. State BJP president Dilip Ghosh will also accompany them. “There had been serious communal disturbances in the area which the Centre has been apprised of and now the party national president Amit Shah wants a team to visit the place and take stock of the situation.Members of the team will visit the place, meet family members of the affected and later prepare a report and send it to the Centre. “We had earlier met the Governor regarding this and told him about the violence there. He had summoned the Director General of Police Surajit Kar Purkayastha on Thursday and questioned him regarding the instance of violence,” Ghosh said talking to DNA.A statement released on Thursday by the governor house said that the governor had asked the DGP to ensure peace in the area and to take strict action against offenders.He also added over 150 families have been rendered homeless owing to the violence. Criticising the role of the state and administration he said, “The votebank policy of Mamata Banerjee has led the police and administration to be mere spectators of the massacre. She tries to derive political dividend out of almost everything.” He added that media has been kept away from the place and that people were furious at the role of the government. “Those who have lost lakhs were given Rs 35,000 as compensation cheques. They had protested against it,” Ghosh added. The team would reach Dhulagarh on Saturday at about 1 pm.BJP leaders had alleged that instances of violence have risen during the reign of Mamata-led government.The Dhulagarh violence had sparked off last week when members of two communities had clashed when a procession by members of one community was taken out. Sources said that they started hurling bombs at each other and Howrah Police had to resort to lathi charge, fire tear gas shells and use water canon to bring the situation under control.

PM Modi to lay foundation stones for mega Shivaji memorial, Mumbai & Pune metro on Saturday

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be on a day’s visit to Maharashtra on Saturday, where he will lay foundation stones for the grand memorial of Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and the metro rail projects in Mumbai and Pune.Modi will inaugurate the newly-built campus of the National Institute of Securities Management in MIDC Patalganga in neighbouring Raigad district.He will then proceed to the site in the Arabian Sea off Mumbai coast, where the state government is planning to build a mega memorial for Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.The main feature of the Shivaji memorial, slated to cost Rs 3,600 crore, will be a 192-metre-tall statue of the iconic Maratha king. The site is a rocky outcrop, roughly 1.5 km from the Raj Bhavan shore.Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis recently said the ‘Shiv Smarak’ will not only be the tallest memorial in the country, but in the entire world. He had thanked Modi for “making it possible.”Later, Modi will address a public function at the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) ground in suburban Bandra, after laying foundation stone for two Metro rail projects, Elevated Rail Corridors Project and Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL).Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, whose party is an ally of ruling BJP, is expected to share the dais with Modi at the MMRDA event.The PM will then leave for Pune, where he will lay the foundation stone of the Pune Metro Rail project. NCP leader Sharad Pawar will share the stage with Modi at this event.The memorial project has been facing stiff opposition from fisherfolk and environmentalists, who have alleged that it would affect marine life and ecology of the Arabian Sea.A rally was flagged off at Chembur today, where representatives from various districts gathered with collections of sand and soil from Chhatrapati Shivaji’s forts across the state.The rally led by a ‘Shivaji chariot’ will conclude at the Gateway of India, where the Chief Minister will receive the vase carrying water and soil from all districts of the state.This will then be handed over to the Prime Minister and carried to the memorial site.For the MMRDA event, the government has sent out invitation to over 3,000 VVIPs and dignitaries, including members of the royal family and Shivaji historians.Ever since it came to power in Maharashtra in October 2014, BJP has been quietly trying to usurp the near-monopoly that bickering ally Shiv Sena has held over the 17th century Maratha king for the last many years.Ahead of the Maharashtra Assembly election in 2014, BJP had used the name of Chhatrapati Shivaji for electoral gains, with a famous tagline seeking to evoke Shivaji’s blessings.The government and BJP are trying to make the memorial event a success with hoardings at important places of all districts and also through campaigns in print, TV and social media.Meanwhile, an official said those who would accompany Modi in the hovercraft to the jalpujan and bhumipujan venue off Mumbai coast, will include Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, Chief Minister Fadnavis, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, NCP’s Satara MP Udayanraje Bhosale and BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP from Kolhapur Sambhaji Raje Bhosle.

Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik should listen to farmers or BJD’s poll calculations could go awry

Farmers’ protest never gained as much steam. Recently in Odisha, more than 4,000 farmers under the banner of NavaNirman Krushak Sangathan, tried to congregate in Bhubaneshwar on 14 December to press for their three-point charter of demands – price, prestige and pension. However, even before they arrived in the city, many of them were driven back and the rest were apprehended by the police. NKS is a farmers’ body that has no political affiliation.

Fifty platoons were on their toes not to allow the farmers enter the city precincts, leave alone reach the venue or agitate in front of the assembly that was in session. The DCP was so threatened to maintain discipline that he shot off a letter to the government that farmers’ behaviour during the protests could be embarrassing and lawlessness might rule the roost. His advisory worked and the farmers were hoarded into police vans as soon as they stepped into the city.

Through the year, these crop producers have been organising rallies in various district headquarters alleging raw deal from the government in assuring them proper pricing for their produce, security in the form of pension and recognition for their contribution to the state’s economy. Their demands included proper fixing of minimum support price, subsidy and sufficient mandis to keep their produce safe.

Stray incidents of farmers’ suicides have trickled in from some parts of the state over the years but because the situation has not been as bad as in other parts of the country, no heed was paid. The agriculture minister feigns ignorance about anything affecting the farmers and easily passes the buck saying these issues don’t come under his ministry’s purview answering a question in the recently concluded assembly session. The minister and the ministry are not even aware about the number of farmers in the state.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. PTI

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. PTI

While some surveys put the figure at more than 45 lakh, the agriculture census shows 32.79 in 2010-11. Add to it the Odisha Economic survey that puts the figure at 41 lakh. Going by the survey, the total number of cultivators is 67.4 lakh who make for 23.4 percent of the total workers.

At a time when Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, too good at citing figures in interviews about his government’s “achievements”, leaves no opportunity to boast that the state that was recording -7.02 percent annual growth rate in the field of agriculture in 2000-2001 when he took over, has reached 13.24 percent by 2014-15. The state government, with pride, projects an average growth rate of agriculture and allied sectors in the state at 4.12 percent as against Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal which are at 4.11, 3.05 and 2.38 percent, respectively. Even the comparative productivity of foodgrains is shown to have grown 18.9 percent from 1950 till 2014, according to the Directorate of Agriculture and Food Production, Odisha.

Isn’t it imperative then for the government to look into the demands of the people who have made this “achievement” possible? Instead, it decided to throttle the same farmers who had come to the city to talk about their rights. The issue rocked the Assembly with the Opposition members staging walkout the same day. The House was adjourned and members protesting the decision of arresting scores of farmers including the advisor NKS, Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, went to the governor to seek his intervention to release the farmers. Barring two leaders of the Sangathan, others were released the same evening.

It is shameful since the state that has been bagging the Krishi Karman award for productivity for consecutive years, does not allow the people behind the effort, into the capital city.

However, the members of the NKS have continued their agitation by wearing black badges and decided to be on a hunger strike on 3 January and intensify the stir it if the government still does not give them their due.

With the rural poll bugle sounded for February 2017, these incidents do not augur well for the Naveen Patnaik government. Calculated leniently, the 40-odd lakh farmers have the capacity to make the BJD’s poll calculations go awry.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 11:20 IST

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

Najeeb calls it quits, speculation over new ‘Jung’ begins

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi Lieutenant Governor (LG) Najeeb Jung on Thursday submitted his resignation to the Centre, sparking speculation who could be the next incumbent.Jung’s sudden resignation caught everyone unawares. Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi claimed that the LG had given no indication of his plan to resign two days ago when he had a meeting with him. Even officials in the LG’s office and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal expressed their surprise.On his part, Jung said he would now join his first love – academics. Sources said that the front runners for the post include former IAS officer Anil Baijal, former Delhi police commissioner BS Bassi, current LG of Pondicherry Kiran Bedi, former IAS officers GK Pillai, VK Duggal and DM Sapolia, and BJP leader Jagdish Mukhi.Sources added that while the appointment of the new LG may be politically influenced, it is highly unlikely that a politician would be anointed. “The Delhi LG is the top administrator. Therefore, a politician has never been appointed. However, the political leanings of the official may play a major factor in the decision,” said a source in the LG’s office. He added that the current decision taken by the LG may have been influenced by the Union government.There are also rumours that Delhi may see its first woman LG. Meanwhile, Kejriwal and Deputy CM Manish Sisodia tweeted their surprise at the sudden announcement. The two wished Jung the very best for his future endeavours.”I spoke to Najeeb Jung over the phone and he said that he has resigned for personal reasons,” reports quoted Kejriwal. Jung had been constantly in the news for the past two years for his confrontations with the AAP government. He had formed a committee, chaired by VK Shunglu on August 30, to examine 400 files on decisions taken by the Kejriwal regime.Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari said that the party appreciated Jung for the work he did in Delhi and asked Delhiites to respect his decision. The Congress, however, attacked the Modi government for Jung’s sudden exit and questioned the timing of his unceremonious exit.”The PM should explain if there was any deal between him and Kejriwal behind the exit of Jung. The Congress will come out to the streets and protest if an RSS-connected or RSS-supported person is appointed as LG,” said Ajay Maken, Delhi Congress chief.Jung became LG in July 2013, replacing Tejendra Khanna, another IAS officer. Jung was initially posted in Madhya Pradesh and was last associated with Jamia Millia Islamia, where he was the Vice-Chancellor from 2009-2013.”The LG’s resignation will be submitted to the President of India through the Ministry of Home Affairs. However, till the time a new LG is appointed Jung will continue to occupy the chair, in case any emergency arrives,” said SK Sharma, former Secretary of Delhi Assembly.Earlier in the day, Jung issued an official statement, thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the people of Delhi and Kejriwal for their support over the past three years.Possible SuccessorsAnil Baijal, a 1969-batch IAS officer, served as home secretary in the Vajpayee govt. Believed to be close to the RSS.GK Pillai, a 1972-batch IAS officer of the Kerala cadre. Served as Union home secretary.BS Bassi, former Delhi Police Commissioner. Accused by political parties as a BJP spokesperson for his antics towards the end of his tenure as the commissioner. Currently a member of the UPSC.Kiran Bedi, initially associated with India Against Corruption and a close associate of Arvind Kejriwal. Parted ways after the inception of the Aam Aadmi Party. She later contested election on a BJP ticket, and was projected as the Delhi CM candidate. Currently Governor of Pondicherry.Jagdish Mukhi. A senior BJP leader, he is currently the Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Rumoured to be close to the RSS.VK Duggal, a 1968 batch IAS official. Was Governor of Manipur during UPA regime in 2013. Stepped down in 2014 after the BJP came to power.Sapolia, a 1979 batch IAS official. Appointed by the Centre as the Delhi chief secretary, after removing SK Srivastava, who was rumoured to be close to Arvind Kejriwal.

Home Secretary met Najeeb Jung two days ago, was unaware of his resignation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The sudden resignation of Delhi Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung seems to have caught the Home Ministry unaware with Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi saying Jung had given no indication two days ago when he had a meeting with him. “The LG met me day before yesterday but he did not give any indication of submitting his resignation. Another meeting of mine with the LG is scheduled for tomorrow (Friday)… I have come to know about his resignation only from the media,” Mehrishi told reporters as soon as the news flashed in TV channels.Delhi being a Union Territory, the LG looks after the Delhi Police and he reports to the Union Home Ministry. Jung regularly meets senior Home Ministry officials for various official works and in his recent interactions he had given no clue about his impending resignation from the post. Official sources said whenever the political leadership of the Central government wants to remove a Governor or LG, the onus of conveying the message, asking the incumbents to put in their papers, usually rests with the Union Home Secretary.In the case of Jung, Mehrishi had not conveyed any such message, sources said. It came as a surprise for the Home Ministry officials that Jung has decided to put in his papers without giving any hint in advance. In fact, sources said the LG had intimated the Home Secretary that from December 25 to January 1 he will be visiting Goa on a private tour.
ALSO READ Despite bitter-sweet experiences, we did a good job in Delhi with Najeeb Jung: Manish Sisodia Sources said there is no fixed tenure for a LG of any of the Union Territories even though a Governor is normally appointed for a period of five year or till further order “whichever is earlier”. The LG is appointed without specifying any tenure, sources said.

Dhulagarh riot: Pressure mounts on Bengal govt as Governor summons DGP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A week after clashes erupted in Howrah district’s Dhulagarh, the Bengal governor Keshari Nath Tripathi summoned Bengal Director General of Police (DGP), Surajit Kar Purkayastha on Thursday. This comes a day after BJP Rajya Sabha MP Roopa Ganguly led a delegation and met the victims of Dhulagarh incident.On the same day, the Bengal government removed the district Superintendent of Police, Sabyasachi Raman Mishra and posted him as SRP Sealdah, a post considered less significant. The Deputy Commissioner of Howrah Police Commissionerate (Traffic), Sumit Kumar was posted as the new Superintendent of Police, Howrah (rural) district.Meanwhile, a team comprising central leaders of the BJP are all set to visit Dhulagarh next week.On December 13, clashes between two communities erupted following the Milad-ul-Nabi celebrations in Dhulagarh. Locals in the village alleged that ‘unprovoked’ clashes erupted after an infuriated mob in a procession of Milad-ul-Nabi celebrations started charging bombs at the houses. However, members in the procession allege that they were prevented from taking out the procession, following which violent clashes broke out.Local residents claim that they had to flee with their children and elderly as soon as the mob hurled country-made bombs at their houses. Later, the mob allegedly looted the houses and fled with the money and jewellery, later, setting it on fire.“Nothing is left. We are looted of all our belongings. They ransacked and vandalised our houses and eventually set them on fire. We could not save a single penny from our houses, only managed to save our children and ran for life,” said a local, Lakshmi Mallya.

Was Najeeb Jung removed to bring someone who is close to RSS, asks Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The resignation of Najeeb Jung as Lt Governor today caught Delhi’s political circle by surprise with the Congress terming the exit “unceremonious” and the BJP claiming he was “upset” with the AAP government.Leader of Opposition in the Delhi Assembly Vijender Gupta said a BJP delegation had met the L-G yesterday over delimitation of municipal wards when Jung had “expressed” his displeasure with the Kejriwal government.”Even then (yesterday) he was upset with the AAP government stalling work. But we did not foresee this. He told us that he was going a week-long leave. Delhi needed him,” Gupta said.Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi said Jung has a meeting scheduled with him tomorrow.”The L-G met me day before yesterday but he did not give any indication of submitting his resignation. Another meeting of mine with the L-G is scheduled for Friday (tomorrow)… I have come to know about his resignation only through media,” Mehrishi said.Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken sought the response of the Centre over Jung’s “unceremonious exit” while party leader PC Chacko suggested the resignation might be due to BJP’s pressure.”Was he removed to bring someone who is close to RSS? Was it done considering the upcoming municipal polls? Jung is an able administrator,” Maken told reporters.”BJP never takes independent stand as far as the office of Governor is concerned and this is putting many a Governors in difficulty. May be this is behind the resignation,” Chacko said.

Jung’s tenure ‘disgraceful’, worked at the behest of Modi: Kumar Vishwas

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal described the resignation of Lt Governor Najeeb Jung on Thursday as a surprise even as AAP took a jibe at the LG, saying he worked under the “influence” of the Narendra Modi dispensation. The AAP also questioned whether the power tussle between the Centre and Delhi government will continue even after the appointment of a new LG.Kejriwal said Jung’s resignation is a surprise to him and wished him for his future endeavours. Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said, despite the “sweet bitter” experience, the AAP government and Jung did a good job in Delhi. “Good wishes to Najeeb Jung for his future endeavour. God should give some good sense to them who controlled him. Will the war continue even after Jung’s (exit)?” Delhi minister Kapil Mishra said.Senior AAP leader Kumar Vishwas termed Jung’s tenure “disgraceful”. Vishwas alleged that the LG troubled the Delhi government at the behest of Modi dispensation, but took a jibe saying Jung would get a better posting. “Modi government promotes its people. We hope, he gets a better posting after this. I am unhappy that his tenure was disgraceful. Now that he has gone, good luck to him. Najeeb Jung’s behaviour was not his. He was under the influence of someone. We hope the next LG gives priority to issues concerning people and does not work under anyone’s influence,” Vishwas said.
ALSO READ Jung resigns: Kejriwal ‘surprised’, MHA cluelessIn a sudden move, Jung resigned on Thursday amid a bitter confrontation with the AAP government. Without citing reasons, Jung’s office said he has submitted his resignation to the Centre. 65-year-old Jung, a former IAS officer, had assumed charge of Lt Governor of Delhi on July 9, 2013.

Kejriwal party do: Twitter reacts to Najeeb Jung’s resignation as Delhi LG

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a sudden move, Delhi Lt Governor Najeeb Jung resigned today, ending a nearly three-and-half- year-long eventful tenure, mostly marked by bitter confrontation with AAP government on a range of issues that virtually brought governance to a halt on many occasions. Without citing reasons for the decision, 65-year-old Jung, who had taken charge in July 2013, thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his help and cooperation and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for his “association”.In a brief statement, Jung’s office said he has submitted his resignation to the Government of India and that he would be returning back to academics, “his first love”. Sources close to him told PTI that his resignation has nothing to do with his acrimonious relationship with the AAP government and he was contemplating to quit for last few months. “His decision to quit was not at all related to his relationship with the AAP government. It was purely a personal decision which he was mulling over for quite some time,” they said. Reacting to Jung’s resignation, Kejriwal said the decision surprised him. “Sh Jung’s resignation is a surprise to me. My best wishes in all his future endeavours,” he tweeted.

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)

Demonetisation: Jaitley claims enough cash in system, but discrepancies emerge in RBI, govt numbers

New Delhi: Several new and large discrepancies have emerged in the stated positions of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the government on the printing and distribution of new currencies following the demonetisation of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes on 8 November.

These discrepancies include a highly unlikely surge in the supply of high-denomination notes in two days. They also show substantial divergence in figures given by the central banker and those given by the government in Parliament. And finally there’s an unexplained hiatus in the supply of notes for 11 days.

Either parliament has been misled, or claims about the supply by the RBI are flawed.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Let’s look at the figures in chronological order:

On 28 November, the RBI issued a press release saying that the public had withdrawn Rs 2.16 lakh crore in new notes from accounts or ATMs till 27 November. As RBI chose not to give any break-up of this amount, it is fair to assume that some of this was in lower denomination notes of Rs 100 or less.

However, according to a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha, the Minister of State for Finance, Arjun Ram Meghwal, categorically stated that, by 29 November, a total of 1,608 million pieces (160.8 crore) of Rs 2,000 denomination and 156 million (15.6 crore) pieces of Rs 500 had been supplied — a total of 1,764 million pieces (or 1.76 billion) amounting to a little over Rs 3.29 lakh crore. The minister’s reply came on 6 December.

There are two significant points to note here:

One, that the government’s number implies that the currency disbursal had shot up by over Rs 1.13 lakh crore in just two days. This, when the RBI had supplied Rs 2.16 lakh crore in 17 days till then — at an average of only Rs 12,700 crore a day.

Moreover, Meghwal’s number pertained only to high denomination notes, whereas the RBI number was a mix of all denominations. In other words, the discrepancy between the two sets of numbers would have been even higher if the minister’s reply in Parliament had included the smaller denomination currency notes disbursed till 29 November.

Now things begin to get even more curiouser.

On the day the monetary policy was announced (7 December), the RBI revealed a new set of disbursal figures. The Deputy Governor of RBI, R Gandhi, said a total of Rs 4 lakh crore had been disbursed as of the previous day.

Of this amount, Rs 1.06 lakh crore was in smaller denomination currency notes, according to Gandhi, while the rest — Rs 2.94 lakh crore — implicitly, was by way of high-denomination notes.

This figure of Rs 2.94 lakh crore, which was announced seven days after the date of disbursal given in Parliament reply, is substantially less than the amount of Rs 3.29 lakh crore mentioned in the minister’s written statement about supply till 29 November.

Yet again, on 12 December, Gandhi, while speaking to reporters, said that a total of 1.7 billion notes of higher denomination of Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 had been issued to the public till 10 December.

That means, a full 11 days after Meghwal’s reply that 1.76 billion high-value notes had been disbursed by 29 November, the RBI was stating that the notes given out had been less or at best the same — if one assumes that he was giving a rounded-off figure of 1.7 billion.

Was the disbursal or printing of new notes stopped from 29 November to 10 December?

How does the RBI square with these discrepancies?

Further, the government has been talking about the printing presses working overtime. Economic Affairs Secretary, Shaktikant Das, told Doordarshan in an interview on 17 December that 80 percent to 90 percent of the currency being printed a few days after the demonetisation date was of Rs 500 notes.

According to Meghwal’s information, the amount of Rs 500 notes supplied till November 29, a full 20 days after demonetisation, was only Rs 7,800 crore (15.6 crore notes).

In comparison to the value of notes that were demonetised — Rs 8.58 lakh crore — the new Rs 500 notes amount to less than one per cent (0.91 per cent).

If we take Gandhi’s words at face value, then, even on November 10 — more than a month after demonetisation came into effect — there was not much change.

Of course, the Rs 2,000 notes, which the Economic Affairs Secretary has said were being printed for “months” are considerably more in circulation.

The value of such notes supplied on 29 November was Rs 3.21 lakh crore (160.8 crore x Rs 2,000) — almost 47 per cent compared to value of Rs 6.86 lakh crore (of Rs 1,000) demonetised. But Rs 2,000 notes are not easy to spend and have created a bottleneck in the cash economy.

Again, according to Gandhi’s information, till December 10, there seems to have been no change even in the Rs 2,000 notes circulated.

The shortage of notes, it seems, would continue much beyond the 50 days that the prime minister has mentioned.

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 15:38 IST

IAS, DANICS officers meet Rajnath over resolution against ‘misbehaviour’ by Delhi govt

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>IAS and DANICS Officer associations, which passed a resolution last week against “misbehaviour” by Delhi government political executives, has met Union Minister Rajnath Singh and handed over the resolution to him.”We met the Union Home Minister yesterday and handed over our resolution passed last week against ‘misbehaviour’ by political executives in the Delhi government and other issues,” a member of the associations claimed. Both the associations had expressed “anguish and pain” at the alleged “misbehaviour by political executives” and appealed to the Kejriwal government not to resort to “misdemeanour, unfounded allegations, mis-information” campaign against officers, under any circumstance, according to the resolution which was adopted jointly by the Associations of AGMUT cadre IAS and DANICS officers. Ministry of Home Affairs is the cadre-controlling authority of AGMUT cadre IAS and DANICS officers.In the resolution, IAS officer Association and DANICS (Delhi, Andaman Nicobar Island Civil Services) officer Association had allegedly voiced against “injustices” of any kind by the political executives of Delhi government meted out to the officers working under it. Following the Associations’ move, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had alleged that IAS officers working in the Delhi government were being “threatened” and “provoked” by PMO and Lt Governor to revolt against him.In January, all DANICS officers’ association had gone on a one-day mass leave after the city administration had suspended two of their colleagues.

Justice JS Khehar appointed 44th Chief Justice of India by President Pranab Mukherjee

Justice JS Khehar is set be the next Chief Justice of India after President Pranab Mukherjee formally gave his nod to his appointment. He will succeed CJI TS Thakur as the 44th Chief Justice of India after the latter demits office on 3 January.

The Chief Justice of India, the highest authority in the judiciary, is traditionally appointed on seniority basis, on the recommendation of the incumbent Chief Justice. As Justice Khehar was the senior-most judge after the Chief Justice TS Thakur, his name was recommended to the government on the principle of seniority. As Chief Justice, Khehar will have a tenure of over seven months as he would be retiring on 28 August, 2017.

Justice Khehar in a file image. Twitter/ @airnewsalerts

Justice Khehar in a file image. Twitter/ @airnewsalerts

Justice Khehar will be the first Sikh to occupy the highest office. However, as a report in Live Mint states, his appointment assumes importance as doubts were raised that Justice Khehar might be superseded by the government. A group of prominent lawyers had, earlier this month, urged the government to overlook Justice Khehar’s seniority, citing his verdict on the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) case.

Justice JS Khehar was heading the five-judge constitution bench that junked the National Judicial Appointments Commission for the appointment of judges as unconstitutional holding that it intruded upon the independence of judiciary.

Incidentally, Justice Khehar also presided over the five judges’ constitution bench that had quashed the then Arunachal Pradesh Governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa’s decision to advance the assembly session from January 2016 to December 2015, as it directed restoration of ousted Chief Minister Nabam Tuki’s government. But subsequent political developments in Arunachal Pradesh took a different course.

Having done LLB and LLM from Punjab University, Chandigarh, Justice Khehar was awarded gold medal for securing first position in the university LLM examination.

Before being elevated as a judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Chandigarh on February 8, 1999, Justice Khehgar had practised before it as well as the Himachal Pradesh High Court and the Supreme Court. He was twice appointed as the acting Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court from 2 August, 2008, and again from 17 November, 2009.

He was elevated as Chief Justice of Uttrakhand High Court on 29 November, 2009. Later, he was transferred as Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court.

Justice Khehar was elevated as judge of the Supreme Court on 13 September, 2011.

First Published On : Dec 19, 2016 21:46 IST

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

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

DNA Evening Must Reads: SC on Anurag Thakur; Mamata’s meeting with Urjit Patel; and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. Local Arunachal Congress leaders ‘astonished’ by corruption charges against Kiren RijijuUnion Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, who is at the centre of a controversy for having sought release of payments for contractors named in a vigilance probe, said on Thursday that the Congress Party has made a grave mistake by raising their finger against him, and therefore, they will have to pay the price for their lifetime. Read more here.2. Demonetization: Mamata meets RBI governor Urjit Patel, complains about ‘political discrimination amongst states’Amidst protests by Trinamool Congress against demonetization, RBI Governor Urjit Patel met Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during which she expressed concern over hardship faced by people and “political discrimination amongst states”. Read more here.3. Aleppo: Rebel evacuation under way after ceasefire dealAn operation to evacuate thousands of civilians and fighters from the last rebel bastion in Aleppo was under way on Thursday, part of a ceasefire deal that would end years of fighting for the city and mark a major victory for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Read more here.4. Demonetization | 90% ATMs recaliberated, focus on printing Rs 500 notes: Shaktikanta DasEconomic Affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das stated that the total number of notes in lower denominations of Rs 100 and below supplied in the last five weeks is three times of what the Reserve Bank of India supplies in a year. Read more here.5. SC threatens perjury, contempt proceedings against BCCI President Anurag ThakurThe court reminded the BCCI top brass that Thakur as President of the board had asked for a letter from ICC CEO Dave Richardson that the appointment of a CAG nominee in the cricket body would compromise with autonomy and amount to government interference. Read more here.

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

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

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

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

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. File photo. PTI

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. File photo. PTI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

International Tea Day: Mamata urges Centre to help tea workers hit by demonetisation

Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday yet again urged the Centre and RBI to “extend a helping hand to tea garden workers”, who she alleged were “dying” in the aftermath of demonetisation.

Her comments came on a day when RBI Governor Urjit Patel was in the city to attend the apex bank’s central board meet.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. File photo. PTI

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. File photo. PTI

On the occasion of the International Tea Day, Banerjee said in her tweet that the tea garden workers were hungry and dying due to demonetisation.

“RBI must immediately restore payments by our government through DMs (district magistrates),” Banerjee said.

She said as many as 97 people died following the 8 November decision.

The Trinamool Congress supremo had on Wednesday demanded that the RBI restore and continue payments by the state government till March 2017.

TMC legislators and senior state ministers organised a sit-in in front of the Reserve Bank of India office in Kolkata on Wednesday to protest against the insufficient supply of new currency notes in the state.

Banerjee also accused the central government of discriminating between states with regard to disbursement of cash from the RBI.

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

RBI Governor Urjit Patel shown black flags by TMC supporters in Kolkata

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Urjit Patel, who was in Kolkata to conduct the central board meeting following demonetization, was shown black flags by Trinamool Congress supporters outside the regional RBI office in the city. TMC supporters sporting black flags and shouting slogans ‘Go back Urjit’ staged a demonstration outside the RBI office. Later, a procession led by senior TMC leaders reached the office and registered their protest against demonetization. Earlier in the day, the Left had staged a demonstration outside the RBI office. Patel met senior officials of RBI to take stock of the situation prevailing in eastern and north-eastern states post demonetization. However, Patel was seen dodging the media right from his arrival in the city on Wednesday afternoon. Patel did not take the vehicle of the convoy provided by the state government. He took another vehicle from the airport and left for his hotel.On Thursday morning, Patel’s meeting at the RBI regional office was scheduled for 10 am. However, he reached the office much ahead of the scheduled time and entered the office building through the ‘out’ gate to prevent any interaction with the media. Around 3.30 pm on Thursday, Patel is likely to meet Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to discuss issues faced by banks in the state.

Bureaucrats provoked by PMO, LG to revolt against Delhi govt: CM Arvind Kejriwal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal alleged that IAS officers in the city were being “threatened” and “provoked” by PMO and Lt Governor to revolt against him, even as he asked the bureaucrats to “fall in line”.He told a press conference that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was using Lt Governor Najeeb Jung and the bureaucrats as “pawns” to take revenge against the AAP government. The AAP leader also took on the IAS Officers Association, which had recently passed a resolution against “misbehaviour” by political executives in the Delhi government, saying “it has turned into a forum that only shields the corrupt and the inefficient.” “They (IAS officers) are being threatened with ACB, police and CBI. They are being provoked to revolt against me. I know who all are taking money. IAS officers are being forced to meet and speak out against the Delhi government. LG is getting it done on the prodding of Prime Minister’s Office (PMO),” he said. When asked what action he would take against the ‘erring’ officers, Kejriwal said they will “fall in line” once the Supreme Court gives power to the elected government or the Anti-Corruption Branch comes under its jurisdiction.The Aam Aadmi Party chief accused the Prime Minister of shooting off from the shoulders of the LG and the bureaucrats, saying, “Modiji does not do politics directly”.Accusing the Health Secretary of not showing up during a recent inspection in LNJP hospital despite the orders, Kejriwal said strong action should be taken against him, so that no officer shows such “insensitivity” in the future.The IAS association has put a blot on the entire IAS service by shielding corrupt and inefficient officers. Have they ever discussed the hurdles put up by the LG on mohalla clinics or unorganised colonies? Have they discussed any issue concerning public interest? “They have nothing to do with the public. They are content with their cars and bungalows. When I had joined the service, it was about serving the country. Stealing and defending it audaciously won’t be tolerated,” Kejriwal, a former IRS officer, said.The AGMUT (Arunachal Pradesh-Goa- Mizoram and Union Territory)-cadre IAS Officers Association and DANICS Officers Association had jointly passed a resolution on December 13 against “misbehaviour” by political executives in the Delhi government.

Karnataka Excise Minister resigns over sex scandal, CM orders probe

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Stung by an alleged sex CD scandal, Karnataka Excise Minister HY Meti resigned on Wednesday with government ordering a CID probe into the entire purported episode over the charge that he sought sexual favour from a woman in return for help.Meti’s exit came days after the alleged scandal erupted with the 71-year-old minister, considered close to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, submitting his resignation to him, saying he was doing so of his own accord to avoidembarrassment to the government. Siddaramaiah said he has accepted the resignation and ordered a CID inquiry into the entire purported episode. He said, “Mr H Y Meti, Minister for Excise, voluntarily submitted his resignation to me. I have recommended his resignation to His Excellency Governor of Karnataka for acceptance. I have also entrusted the entire episode to CID and (asked it) give a report as early as possile, to know the truth about the incident.” “Meti is claiming it is a conspiracy, he is not involved in such an incident and has totally denied it. That is why I am entrusting the matter to CID to inquire into it,” said Siddaramaiah, who was under Opposition pressure to drop Meti.On allegations that he was in the know of the alleged incident but was trying to shield the Minister, he said “It is totally false. If I was aware I would have taken action immediately. I was not aware…” Meti said he resigned of his own volition to avoid any embarrassment to the government and the Chief Minister. “I have done nothing wrong. I have requested the Chief Minister to hold an inquiry,” Meti, who has been rubbishing the allegations against him, told reporters after submitting his resignation.Meti, considered close to Siddaramaiah from his Janata Dal days, was given a cabinet berth in June this year, when 14 ministers were dropped and 13 others inducted in a bid to give a face-lift to his more than three-year-old government. The alleged scandal has come as a huge embarrassment to the Congress government, close on the heels of another controversy stirred by Minister Tanvir Sait after video footage emerged showing him purportedly watching pictures of skimpily clad girls on his mobile on dais at a public function recently.The controversy involving Meti has been brewing since Sunday after RTI activist Rajashekar Mulali accused him of seeking sexual favour from a woman in return for help. There are contradictory reports about the woman allegedly involved as multiple videos have emerged with her claiming to be the Minister’s relative in one and retracting from it in another.Mulali had also claimed that some supporters of Meti had threatened him not to release the CD. An audio tape had surfaced in connection with the alleged sex CD where a man claiming to be a supporter of Meti is heard threatening the RTI activist. Speaking to reporters in Delhi, Mulali said he has information about more such incidents involving a couple of Ministers and at least three MLAs.Reacting to this, Siddaramaiah said “I don’t know, let him release.” Earlier Meti had rejected reports on the alleged CD, calling it false. He had also said none of his supporters had threatened the RTI activist.

Senior Karnataka minister HY Meti quits over alleged sex CD scandal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hit by an alleged sex CD scandal, Karnataka Excise Minister HY Meti resigned, saying he has quit to avoid embarrassment to the Siddaramaiah government while denying any wrongdoing on his part.As the controversy snowballed with the Opposition demanding his exit, Meti met Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and submitted his resignation.”Excise Minister HY Meti has resigned. I have recommended to Hon’ble Governor to accept the resignation. I have also ordered a probe,” Siddaramaiah tweeted. “I have resigned on my own volition to avoid any embarrassment to the government and the chief minister,” Meti told reporters after he met the Chief Minister. “I have done nothing wrong. I have requested the Chief Minister to hold an inquiry,” said 71-year-old Meti, who has been rubbishing the allegations against him. The minister landed in a row after an RTI activist Rajashekar Mulali claimed that he was in possession of a CD containing Meti’s alleged indecent act with a woman who approached him for a favour. The activist had also claimed that some supporters of Meti had threatened him over the CD, which had not been released till the minister’s exit. However, an audio tape had surfaced in connection with the alleged sex CD, where a man claiming to be a supporter of Meti is heard threatening the RTI activist. “…All the reports that are coming on TV channels are false. I don t know who that RTI activist is, I only saw him on TV today. Also none of my supporters have threatened anyone, the language they are using is not the one spoken in north Karnataka,” Meti had said earlier after the row erupted. Meti had also said he did not know who was behind the CD as “I don t have any enemies..” but added that he did not intend to lodge a police complaint, saying, “let them produce the video and prove the allegations first, after that I will take required action, whether to file a police complaint or whatever needs to be done.”

Amidst demonetization row, Mamata Banerjee likely to meet Urjit Patel on Thursday

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who recently criticised RBI Governor Urjit Patel for being silent on people’s suffering due to Centre’s demonetization move, is likely to meet him in Kolkata on Thursday.Patel will arrive in the city on Wednesday for some official engagements and his meeting with Banerjee is likely to take place on Thursday afternoon, a top official of the Chief Minister’s Office told PTI today.State Chief Secretary Basudeb Banerjee will meet Patel and take him to the state secretariat ‘Nabanna’ where the meeting will be held, the official said. The meeting assumes significance as Banerjee had criticised Patel on December 8 questioning his ‘silence’ on the suffering of the common people following demonetization.It is a custom for the RBI Governor to meet the Chief Minister whenever he visits a state and there was a formal request from Patel’s office for an appointment of Banerjee. On being asked why Banerjee agreed to meet the RBI boss when she was critical of him, the official said this was an opportunity for the state government to place its views on issues related to demonetization directly before Patel.So, the problems faced by common people of the state would come up for discussion during the meeting, he said.Banerjee is one of the most vocal opposition leaders against demonetization since it was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8. Patel will be here to attend the Central Board meeting of the RBI tomorrow. He will also meet bankers and industry leaders during the visit.

Demonetisation: RBI says banks get Rs 12.44 lakh crore in old notes till 10 December

Mumbai: RBI today said banks have garnered Rs 12.44 trillion (Rs 12.44 lakh crore) in banned notes till 10 December, while they have issued Rs 4.61 trillion to them since the demonetisation drive began 35 days ago.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“The old notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000, which have been returned to the Reserve Bank and the currency chest, amounted Rs to 12.44 trillion as of December 10,” RBI Deputy Governor R Gandhi told reporters here.

The money that various banks have issued through their counters and ATMs since 10 November and up to 10 December stood at Rs 4.61 trillion, he added.

In volume terms the number stood at 21.8 billion pieces of notes of various denominations, of which 20.1 billion pieces were of Rs 10, Rs 20, Rs 50 and Rs 100. The number of higher denomination of new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 notes stood at 1.7 billion, he said.

Hence, while the notes surrendered have risen by almost Rs 1 trillion, cash disbursal has risen only a little since 7 December, when RBI had said that banks had issued Rs 4.27 trillion of new notes post demonetisation through ATMs and bank counters, the banned notes collected stood at Rs 11.55 trillion.

“The entire system is continuously gearing up for supporting the circulation of notes in the hands of the public. Daily, we are issuing more and more notes, getting it printed and issuing it and this will be a continuous affair. The public are requested to freely use the notes that they have in their hands rather than hoard it,” Gandhi said.

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

Goa CM Parsekar cries foul against two sacked cabinet ministers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar who sacked two of his ministers from his Council of Ministers late night on Monday said that they had made certain allegations against him wherein he decided to drop them.”The reasons are well- known. They had made certain allegations against me wherein I decided to drop them. It’s my prerogative as well. As of now, the portfolios (held by the sacked ministers) are retained by me,” Parsekar said .In a letter to Goa Governor Mridula Sinha, Parsekar recommended the removal of Ramkrishna, alias, Sudin Dhawalikar and Pandurang, alias, Deepak Dhawalikar from the Council of Ministers.”Under Article 164 of the Constitution of India, I hereby recommend you to remove the following Ministers from the Council of Ministers: Shri Ramkrishna Sudin Dhawalikar and Shri Pandurang Deepak Dhawalikar. The portfolios allotted to both the respective ministers shall be retained by the undersigned, till further arrangements,” Parsekar wrote in his letter.The decision to drop the two ministers Sudin Dhavalikar (PWD) and Deepak Dhavalikar (Weights and Measures), both of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, came after several days of bitter acrimony between alliance partners Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and MGP over the choice of Parsekar as chief minister.

Goa CM Laxmikant Parsekar sacks two ministers of ally MGP from his cabinet

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a significant development, Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar on Monday night dropped two of his Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party colleagues from cabinet following their outburst against the BJP-led government, raising prospects of new permutations and combinations in the state going to polls next year.Parsekar faxed the communication to Goa Governor Mridula Sinha late night recommended dropping of Sudin Dhavlikar and Dipak Dhavlikar from the cabinet. With this, the total number of ministers in Parsekar-led cabinet is reduced to ten.”I have recommended that both the ministers be dropped under article 164 (1) of Constitution of India,” the CM told PTI.He said all the portfolios which were allotted to both the ministers are reverted to him, till they are allotted to anyone else.MGP was represented by Sudin and Dipak Dhavlikar in the cabinet.MGP had fought 2012 Assembly election in alliance with BJP. While BJP won 21 seats in the 40-member house, MGP was victorious on three. Hence, ouster of two MGP ministers won’t pose any threat to the government.While Sudin Dhavalikar held important portfolios like Transport and Public Works Department, Dipak Dhavlikar headed Rural Development Agency.Responding to a question, Parsekar said he was yet to decide on filling both the vacancies.When contacted, Dipak Dhavalikar said he was yet to receive any communication about his removal from the cabinet.”I can’t comment as we are yet to receive any communication,” he said.MGP, the first regional ruling party after Goa was liberated from Portuguese in 1961, had recently decided not to have a pre-poll alliance with the BJP if Parsekar continues to lead the party.Sudin recently accused Parsekar of taking Goa ten years backward during his rule of two-and-half years, while Dipak, the MGP president, had dared the BJP to dissolve the Assembly and face election on their own and win the majority seats.”So if BJP wants us to go, they should dissolve the Assembly. It is not the government of their own. We also have a share in it. Let BJP dissolve the Assembly and face election on their own and win the majority seats,” Dipak said.Interestingly, RSS rebel Subhash Velingkar-led Goa Suraksha Manch (GSM) had proposed alliance with MGP for polls.Hinting at this, Parsekar told reporters earlier in the day, “What has happened that suddenly Dhavalikar has started reacting this way in last two-three days ? Has he met someone who has instigated him or he has started dreaming of becoming chief minister?”

Vasundhara Raje reshuffles cabinet, six new ministers introduced

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In her second cabinet reshuffle, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje inducted six new ministers on Saturday including a Dalit woman MLA, elevated two state ministers to Cabinet rank and dropped two state ministers. Five Parliamentary Secretaries were also appointed separately.With two years to go for assembly elections in the state, Raje said the second cabinet reshuffle was an exercise to work with a “full team” to complete the government’s goals in the remainder of its tenure. BJP MLAs Srichand Kriplani (Nimbahera) and Jaswant Singh Yadav (Behror) were inducted as Cabinet rank ministers while Banshidhar (Khandela), Dalit face Kamsa Meghwal (Bhoplagarh), Dhan Singh Rawat (Banswara) and Sushil Katara were inducted as State Ministers.State Ministers Ajay Singh and Baboo Lal Verma were also elevated to Cabinet rank while Jeetmal Khant and Arjun Lal Garg were dropped. They tendered their resignation which was forwarded to the Governor Kalyan Singh. The Governor administered oath to the 8 ministers (6 new and 2 elevated) at a ceremony in Raj Bhawan.The council of ministers, apart from the chief minister, now has 29 members with 17 Cabinet and 12 State Ministers. The portfolios will be announced soon. Before the reshuffle, there were 13 cabinet and 12 state ministers. After the swearing-in ceremony of the newly-inducted ministers was over, five Parliamentary Secretaries were also appointed by the chief minister.Shatrughan Gautam (Kekri), Kailash Verma (Bagru), Narendra Nagar (Khanpur), Omprakash (Mahwa), and Bhima Bhai (Kushalgarh) were appointed as Parliamentary Secretaries. Chief Minister Raje administered them oath in her office. “Team Rajasthan is working good and now this is an opportunity to work with the full team. In the last two years, the full team will work with dedication which will benefit all,” Raje told reporters at Raj Bhawan.Newly-inducted Cabinet minister Jaswant Yadav said he would fulfill all the responsibilities given to him. “I am thankful to the chief minister and the party’s leadership for giving me this chance. I will do my best and work to make the state progress and reach new heights and will discharge my duties to the fullest,” Yadav said after taking oath.The members of council of ministers and newly inducted ministers were asked to remain present in Jaipur for a meeting on Saturday. The ministers and MLAs started visiting the official residence of the chief minister where they were informed about the development. After their meeting with the chief minister at noon, the six MLAs left the her residence for the BJP’s state headquarters where they were felicitated and garlanded by the party’s state president Ashok Parnami and other leaders before the swearing-in ceremony.This is the second cabinet reshuffle since Vasundhara Raje was sworn-in as the chief minister on December 13, 2013. The first reshuffle took place in October 2014.

Most of the 1,400 tourists evacuated from Andaman islands

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A fleet of seven ships and six helicopters evacuated most of the 1,400 tourists stranded in two islands of Andamans due to cyclonic weather since Monday, officials said on .As the weather cleared in the morning, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force and union territory administration started a joint evacuation drive and brought back most of the stranded tourists to Port Blair from Havelock and Neil islands. “The remaining tourists will be shifted by tonight. All are safe and were taken care of,” an official of the Andaman and Nicobar islands said.He said three Mi-17V-5 military transport helicopters from the Air Force and three Pawan Hans helicopters of the Union territory administration besides seven ships from Navy and administration have been regularly plying between islands for the operations.Located about 40 km from Port Blair, Havelock and Neil are the most popular tourist attractions in the Andamans where the tourists were stranded since Monday due to torrential rains, choppy seas and heavy winds as neither aircraft nor ships could operate.The cyclonic storm ‘Vardah’, which was lying 250 km west-northwest of Port Blair, is very likely to intensify into a severe cyclone later in the night, according to the MeT department.Lt Governor of the islands Jagdish Mukhi said there was no untoward incident and no loss of life or property due to the inclement weather. “We are sending all tourists back home from Port Blair according to their flight timings. We have also made arrangements for their stay here,” an official said.

Andaman crisis: Navy, IAF, Coast Guard deployed to rescue 1000 tourists stranded on Havelock Island

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Lieutenant Governor of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Jagdish Mukhi, on Friday said that approximately 1000 tourists are stranded on Havelock Island due to bad weather, out of which 320 are foreign nationals. The Indian Navy said that six ships, two Indian Coast Guard ships had sailed out from Port Blair for rescue operations on Friday. Three Indian Air Force choppers were also part of operation.Mukhi had on Thursday assured that the tourists stranded on Havelock Island are safe and that there has been no damage to property or loss of life. Mukhi said, “In Andaman and Nicobar deep depression continues to prevail, but we are hoping the situation will be normal by the evening. In this week, there has been no damage to property or loss of life.” He further said that only tourists have been asked to stay inside their hotels because of the bad weather and the rough sea.On Thursday, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had assured that the government will launch the rescue operations immediately after the intensity of the cyclone reduces and evacuate the tourists stuck in Andaman’s Havelock island. “Spoke to Lieutenant Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Dr. Jagdish Mukhi who apprised me of the situation in Havelock Islands. All the tourists who are stranded in Havelock Island are safe. The government has made all the preparations to evacuate them,” Singh tweeted.The Indian Navy on Wednesday informed about their ships reaching Havelock Island and the evacuation of tourists from there to Port Blair to start as soon as the weather gets normal. Tourists were stranded at Havelock Island after heavy rains lashed the region.The Andaman and Nicobar Disaster Management, which speculated cyclonic storm to hit the area, contacted Indian Navy and requested for an evacuation process be initiated. Havelock Island is the largest chain of Islands and is a famous tourist destination.

Arvind Kejriwal, Najeeb Jung in dust-up over vaccum cleaning plan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi government’s much-hyped project of vaccum cleaning the roads has hit yet another hurdle. Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung has sought a detailed report regarding the project before it can be implemented.Lashing out at Jung, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said, “The LG has put forth unnecessary objections against the vaccum cleaning project, thereby halting a project that the entire city has been waiting for. He has sought a detailed report from us. We will respond to all the objections, but until then, there will then be no vaccum cleaning in Delhi.” Among other queries, the LG has asked the Delhi government: “Who is the competent authority to authorise the takeover of these functions (sweeping and parking activities) by the Public Works Department (PWD) from the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD)?” The LG has also sought a detailed examination from the legal, administrative and financial points of view, detailing implications for all the stake holders.The proposal to sweep the dusty Delhi roads mechanically was announced last December, among several other decisions, including installation of air purifiers and mist fountains, taken by the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to check the alarming levels of air pollution in the city. Terming the objections an attempt to ‘stall the initiative’, the Delhi CM said, “Written submission has been filed in the Supreme Court that vaccum cleaning will be done on the city roads. I think this is a contempt of the Supreme Court order.” He added, “The Delhi government is neither asking for money from the MCD nor trying to take over their functions. Instead, we are providing a facility to the municipal corporations.” Kejriwal said he has now directed Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia to meet the LG next week and request him to let the government go ahead with the project. The LG office, meanwhile, refused to comment on the issue.The PWD is responsible for nearly 1,260km of road network. The rest fall under the jurisdiction of the civic bodies. The Delhi government’s vaccum cleaning project has been hitting one hurdle after the other. Earlier, the project was stalled due to the lack of interested bidders, and then those who approached the government quoted exorbitant rates.

Exclusive: Bangladesh panel finds insiders negligent in central bank heist | Reuters

By Serajul Quadir
| DHAKA

DHAKA A Bangladesh government-appointed panel investigating the cyber-heist of $81 million from its central bank in February found five officials at the bank were guilty of negligence and carelessness, the head of the panel told Reuters on Thursday.In his first detailed comments on the inquiry since a report was submitted to the government in May, former central bank governor Mohammed Farashuddin said the officials were low to mid-level and were not directly involved in the crime. “They were negligent, careless and indirect accomplices,” he said in an interview in his office. “The committee came to the conclusion that the heist was essentially committed by external elements.”Bangladesh has so far refused to make the inquiry report public saying it wanted to deny perpetrators knowledge of the investigation into one of the world’s biggest cyber-heists.It was not immediately known if Bangladesh had shared the report with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, the main agency investigating the crime.Farashuddin did not name the officials he found were negligent. A senior central bank official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said no action had been taken against any employee since the inquiry report had not been made public.Bangladesh Bank spokesman Subhankar Saha declined comment.

Although over 10 months have passed since the heist, there have been no arrests and no word on who carried out the complex heist. Hackers used stolen credentials to try to transfer nearly $1 billion from Bangladesh Bank’s account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York through the SWIFT transaction system. Many of the transfer orders were blocked or reversed but $81 million was sent to accounts in a branch of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC) in the Philippines.The money eventually went into the sprawling casino industry in the Philippines and most of it remains untraced.

Like Bangladesh police investigators, Farashuddin said the inquiry panel also found the hackers may have exploited loopholes in the bank’s online security when technicians hooked up the central bank’s local money transfer system with SWIFT’s international payments network late last year. SWIFT has denied charges that its technicians were responsible for exposing Bangladesh Bank’s systems to hackers.Reuters has reported earlier that Bangladesh Bank had not protected its computer system with a firewall, and used second-hand $10 electronic switches to network computers linked to SWIFT, weaknesses that the hackers may also have exploited.Farashuddin said that RCBC was responsible for allowing the stolen funds to be withdrawn and disbursed into the casino industry. Bangladesh has said it wants RCBC to compensate it for its losses.

RCBC has said Bangladesh Bank was “negligent” in letting the initial security breach take place there, and hence the Manila-based bank need not pay any compensation. So far only about $15 million of the stolen funds have been recovered.Farashuddin said his personal opinion was it would be better to make the inquiry report public, since it would make clear that some local officials were negligent but not responsible for the heist.”If the government would publish, then Bangladesh Bank’s position would be strengthened,” he said.Bangladesh’s law minister said earlier this week that his government would share the findings of the inquiry with Philippine authorities. (Writing by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Dec 8, 2016 20:51 IST

Demonetisation day 30: Govt’s digital push is good, but it also shows a changing narrative

At this stage, there appear to be no immediate tangible monetary gains of demonetisation in sight, hence the change in the primary narrative and target of Narendra Modi government’s major currency crackdown to cashless economy isn’t difficult to understand.

This is even more evident from Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s presser on Thursday detailing government’s big package to push cashless transactions in the society. The announcement, mainly reduction in transaction charges on digital payments and tax rebates on smaller transactions makes it clear that the government intends to pursue the theme of cashless economy with more vigour in the days ahead.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AFPPrime Minister Narendra Modi. AFP

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AFP

Announcing the measures, Jaitley said the government will offer reduction of 0.75 percent on digital transactions for fuel purchase, similar discounts on suburban railways tickets, insurance policy payments, toll payments on national highways besides offering Rs10 lakh free insurance cover for travellers who book railway tickets through digital mode. The minister also announced the offering of free Rupay credit cards to farmers and two PoS terminals each to one lakh villages with population over 10,000. These measures are indeed positive to encourage more people do digital transactions and lessen the use of cash.

This new focus also reflects in prime minister’s recent speeches too. Marking the 30-day of demonetisation, the PM said, “We also have a historic opportunity to embrace increased cashless payments and integrate latest technology in economic transactions.” This is something which he said in the last Mann Ki Baat programme too. Modi saluted people “for wholeheartedly participating in this ongoing Yagna against corruption, terrorism, and black money”, and said, “government’s decision has several gains for farmers, traders, labourers, who are the economic backbone of our nation.” The shift in focus as 30 days of demonetisation gets over would likely raise further questions from the opposition. Modi’s critics would perhaps want to know the status of the originally stated objectives of fighting black money, corruption and terror funding. This is particularly so when seen against the hardships majority of India’s poor have been pushed into due to this massive exercise in the economy.

But, there are reasons to believe that the shift in the government narrative to cashless economy is also due to the indications that the gains on black money wouldn’t be major. Let’s set aside political claims and counter claims and look at this one month impartially. What are the salient features of one month of demonetisation?

On the negative side, there have been repeated flip-flops on rules, stories of cash crunch from across the country, the huge hit on rural economy and massive disruption of the informal sector that employs a majority of poor Indians giving them their livelihoods. On the positive side, we have seen a notable jump in non-cash transactions and the move has impacted the counterfeit note networks for now. After a month of demonetisation, the available data point out to the possibility that immediate gains from the drive are unlikely to be anything significant than one had hoped for. This is unless the government comes out with a big number on the amount of unaccounted cash uncovered and taxed to benefit the exchequer.

A cost-benefit analysis of demonetisation will have to be done once the government is done with the process and that’ll happen sooner than later. Unless there is a clear monetary gain at the end of the demonetisation exercise, the government will find it difficult to explain the timing and massively disruptive nature of the whole exercise, given the hit on the economy, which is difficult to estimate at this stage.

Speculations that the government will benefit from a “windfall” gain from RBI when a significant chunk of currency notes do not find their way back to the system, has ended after RBI governor Urjit Patel clarified that there is no plan to give any special dividend to the government.

Anyway, Patel’s clarification was irrelevant since almost Rs12 lakh crore money have come back to the banking system already (out of the Rs14 lakh crore demonetised).

Going by this pace, almost the entire money will come back to the banking system before the deadline to deposit old notes expires on 30 December. So what is the immediate monetary gain for the government now?

The only tangible benefit thus becomes the tax recovery from unaccounted cash deposits. If through the exercise, taxmen manage to get hoarders taxed for a substantial amount, the plan is a success, since that money is now taxed and up for productive use. The unaccounted cash could come back to the banking system either in the form of voluntary deposits or when the taxman knocks on the doors of tax evaders. In the first case, the tax and penalty will together be around 50 percent plus 25 percent of the deposits get locked for four years. If they get caught with the illegal cash, they will have to pay a penalty of 85 percent. Certainly, it isn’t an easy exercise for the taxman since the crooks know well how to keep their ill-gotten wealth safe, such as using benami accounts. Part of the reason why the government chose to offer an amnesty scheme to tax cheats is knowing this difficulty.

One should see government’s big push to cashless economy in this context. The government probably realises that at this stage putting the whole weight behind the cashless narrative is a safer bet rather than chasing the black money mirage, where a big success appears unlikely. Such a narrative will also have a revolutionary reform character. However, there are major challenges in aligning the consumer behaviour in favour of digital transactions in a country like India, where a majority of the poor still live in ash economy and initiatives such as two PoS terminals per village may not be effective enough. Even developed countries such as Singapore are still dependent on cash transactions to a significant extent is a proof that cash is something difficult to get rid of. Most experts agree that the change to cashless society should happen over a period of time, rather than being forced on the poor.

First Published On : Dec 8, 2016 20:01 IST

Andaman and Nicobar: Cyclonic weather persists in Havelock island, no casualties reported

Port Blair: With the cyclonic weather condition persisting in the Andamans, around 1,400 tourists remained stranded in two islands on Thursday and naval ships deployed for evacuation were unable to enter the habour due to strong winds.

There were, however, no reports of any casualty from either Havelock or Neil islands hit by the cyclonic weather since Monday.

The rains have stopped since morning but the wind is still blowing hard.

“The weather continues to be bad. Navy ships which were deployed for evacuation have not been able to enter the harbour because of strong winds and choppy seas,” a Defence official told PTI.

In the morning, two ships from the administration had sailed from Port Blair but could not berth in the jetty of the islands due to strong winds and rough seas, administration officials said.

Speaking to the media after a meeting with Lt Governor Jagdish Mukhi, Deputy Commissioner of South Andamans Udit Prakash Rai said, “A decision has been taken that hotels where tourists are stranded will not take any room rent from them, besides giving them food and water for free.”

“The administration will make all arrangements to send tourists back home once they are rescued,” he said.

Flight operations are normal since morning on Thursday.

“Today we are hopeful that the stranded tourists will be brought back to Port Blair. There is no need to panic as everyone is safe,” the administration official said.

The official said that there was no report of any loss of life or major damages to property.

However, trees in the islands have been uprooted and electric posts twisted.

Besides the tourists, 600 of whom are from West Bengal, local population in ten villages of Havelock and Neil islands has been affected due to limited supply of essential commodities.

Mobile and internet connectivity have snapped in many areas while transmission faults are hampering power supply.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Officials said they are also coordinating with all airlines for the smooth and timely return of the tourists.

The tourists have been requested to stay in their rooms till weather conditions improve. They have also been asked to stay away from coastal areas.

The administration has asked all tour operators not to take any tourists towards north and middle Andaman as a precautionary measure.

The Lt Governor is himself monitoring the situation.

All the emergency operation centres across the islands are functioning round the clock and are on high alert.

Meanwhile, Air India has waived the cancellation and refund charges for travel to and fro from Port Blair.

Air India spokesperson said in Kolkata that flight operations by the airlines were normal on Thursday.

He said that applicable penalties of re-issuance, date change, no-show, cancellation and refund charges for travel to and from Port Blair stand were waived on all tickets issued to the stranded tourists on or before 7 December for travel during the period between 6 December and 9 December.

The two islands, approximately 40 km from Port Blair, have been hit the most by cyclonic weather conditions caused by a severe depression over southeast Bay of Bengal which led to heavy rainfall, strong wind and rough sea conditions.

The MeT department has predicted that the weather condition in the archipelago is likely to improve with the centre of depression likely to move towards north-westward direction from Friday.

“The depression is very likely to intensify into a deep depression during the next 24 hours and into a cyclonic storm in subsequent 24 hours,” officials said.

Neil and Havelock are two of the most popular tourist attractions in Andamans and the only means of transportation from them are vessels and choppers.

First Published On : Dec 8, 2016 17:09 IST

1400 tourists remain stranded in Andamans, no casualties

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the cyclonic weather condition persisting in the Andamans, around 1,400 tourists remained stranded in two islands on Thursday and naval ships deployed for evacuation were unable to enter the habour due to strong winds.There were, however, no reports of any casualty from either Havelock or Neil islands hit by the cyclonic weather since Monday.The rains have stopped since morning but the wind is still blowing hard. “The weather continues to be bad. Navy ships which were deployed for evacuation have not been able to enter the harbour because of strong winds and choppy seas,” a Defence official said.In the morning, two ships from the administration had sailed from Port Blair but could not berth in the jetty of the islands due to strong winds and rough seas, administration officials said.Speaking to the media after a meeting with Lt Governor Jagdish Mukhi, Deputy Commissioner of South Andamans Udit Prakash Rai said, “A decision has been taken that hotels where tourists are stranded will not take any room rent from them, besides giving them food and water for free.” “The administration will make all arrangements to send tourists back home once they are rescued,” he said.
ALSO READ 1,400 tourists stranded in Andamans due to cyclonic weatherFlight operations are normal since morning on Thursday. “Today we are hopeful that the stranded tourists will be brought back to Port Blair. There is no need to panic as everyone is safe,” the administration official said.The official said that there was no report of any loss of life or major damages to property. However, trees in the islands have been uprooted and electric posts twisted. Besides the tourists, 600 of whom are from West Bengal, local population in ten villages of Havelock and Neil islands has been affected due to limited supply of essential commodities.

Demonetization: Mamata Banerjee slams ‘dictator’ PM Modi for man-made financial emergency

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday alleged that demonetization is a manmade disaster of financial emergency caused by a dictator and said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi must clarify the situation and take responsibility for the chaos created in the last one month.Continuing her outburst against the ruling dispensation, Mamata alleged that the rule of the BJP-led NDA regime is the darkest period in Indian democracy. “What is the hidden agenda and who is the beneficiary? Beneficiaries are only the Prime Minister and his people. Parliament is liable to the people. That was not taken into account,” she said.The Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo also used the occasion to launch a frontal attack on Prime Minister Modi and said that he didn’t care about the people but instead looted everybody’s money. “Many Prime Ministers assumed office, but nobody did this what Narendra Modi has done. It is public money, but the Prime Minister is acting as if all of this is his own. Where is the black money? This is public money that you have taken, the tax payers’ money,” she added while lambasting him for not consulting anybody before taking the decision.The TMC also questioned RBI Governor Urjit Patel’s silence on the matter. “Under the leadership of the current Prime Minister, the government is derailed completely. The RBI Governor is silent on the entire matter. Nobody is giving details on the currency notes. He (Prime Minister Modi) thinks as if he is a tiger, and the only one who is right. Everything is done in huge secrecy as if he is some Ali Baba. He should realise he is occupying a constitutional post,” said Mamata.”The RBI Governor is also with Modi ji, he should be playing his own role. People don’t know what will happen tomorrow. The Prime Minister just doesn’t respond… no reply. He only gives speeches, not answers. Prime Minister Modi must take responsibility for the chaos created in the entire one month,” she added.The West Bengal Chief Minister earlier vented her ire on Facebook, saying no black money has been recovered so far but the white money of the common people has been snatched away. “One month of harassment, pain, hopelessness, financial insecurity and utter chaos. That is all that the common people has got after the black decision on demonetization announced a month back on 8th Nov, 2016. No black money has been recovered. Only white money of the common people has been snatched away,” Mamata wrote.”Even no black money has been recovered from foreign countries. In the name of recovery of so called black money, the ruling party at the Centre has created assets in the form of land, bank deposits, gold, diamond and have become more and more capitalists. All the common people are helpless,” she added.Mamata further wrote that immediate action is necessary to restore the trust and confidence of the people on the banking and financial sector of the country. “People must have hassle-free access to their own money and feel secure that their money is safe with banks and financial institutions,” Mamata shared.”We have raised the issue repeatedly in Parliament and in different other platforms. Leading economists have criticized this mindless demonetization. But there is no response yet. PM must clarify the situation to the nation and take entire responsibility,” she added.Meanwhile, Prime Minister Modi has praised the nation for supporting the demonetization decision which he termed as ongoing yagna against corruption, terrorism and black money. In a series of tweets, he said that the government’s decision has several gains for farmers, traders, labourers, who are the economic backbone of the nation.Prime Minister Modi further said that though the government’s measure will bring a degree of inconvenience, this short-term pain will, however, pave the way for long-term gain.Meanwhile, both houses of the Parliament were adjourned for the day as an united opposition cornered the government over the demonetization move.

Thirty days of demonetisation: The death of the Rs 1,000 note is a sad news for Indian economy

Exactly a month after the Rs 1,000 note, lovingly known as “Ek Hazaar” and its younger brother the equally loved “Panch Saw” were taken into custody by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), it is believed that the older brother has met its end under mysterious circumstances.

Tight-lipped RBI officials declined to give any details of what occurred and attempted to divert the attention by underscoring their success in releasing a slimmer and more robust avatar of the younger brother into circulation.

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Since Panch Saw has refused to make any statement, what transpired behind the closed doors is not known, but the sad, if yet unconfirmed demise of the highly loved Ek Hazar has sent a wave of sorrow through its supporter and fans.

A weeping businessman said that the bringing in of a muscleman twice the size of Ek Hazaar and then falling back on the weak younger brother of the deceased was a dreadful situation. Asking not to be identified, he confided that the inside story indicates there are irreconcilable differences between the newly inducted bully called “Do Hazaar” and the popular Panch Saw, the gap between them being literally unbridgeable.

“They are not even on speaking terms,” he said, “But don’t quote me on it.”

It is believed that Panch is deeply upset about the way his older brother was treated and sees Do Hazaar as an impostor and a nuisance.

Official RBI sources rejected the theory that there had been a bungling within its premises leading to the death of Ek Hazaar.

Even now the RBI spokesman was not prepared to confirm the passing away of the once powerful leader of the fiscal party whose influence had been all pervasive.

When confronted with the fact that not a single bulletin had been issued over the past thirty days with regard to the health of the Rs 1,000 note and the public’s right to know what exactly the position was, the RBI spokesman said Ek Hazar was in custody as a precautionary measure against corruption, and was hale and hearty and would soon be released.

But exactly thirty days after being stripped of its powers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Arvind Kejriwal and Rahul Gandhi were seen making a beeline for the RBI main office. The RBI governor was closeted with them on the top floor leading to the speculation that something had gone wrong.

If Rahul Gandhi had gone there it could only mean the note had gone to its heavenly abode.

As people began to gather outside the RBI one staunch supporter of Ek Hazaar said, “If the news is true we now have no second line of defence. No economic pyramid. The people have been left in the lurch and no one is telling us what has happened.”

According to sources Ek Hazaar, once the bulwark of the Indian financial system was a victim of shortsightedness and poor medical treatment. Seeing as how the younger brother was resurrected it is pretty much inconceivable that the older sibling is allegedly dead.

A famous economist who had been flown in from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said he believed this was a case of eco-medical malpractice because nowhere in the world is the top currency followed by one worth 25 percent in value.

“The trauma is so massive,” he added, “That an amputated currency totem pole will forever limp along despite any prosthetic that may be recommended. If Ek Hazaar is actually dead, it is indeed a very sad day for the Indian economy.”

First Published On : Dec 8, 2016 13:36 IST

Govt to launch rescue operation soon to evacuate 1,400 stranded tourists: Rajnath Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday assured that the government will launch the rescue operations immediately after the intensity of the cyclone reduces and evacuate the tourists stuck in Andaman’s Havelock island.”Spoke to Lieutenant Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Dr Jagdish Mukhi who apprised me of the situation in Havelock Islands. All the tourists who are stranded in Havelock Island are safe. The government has made all the preparations to evacuate them,” Singh tweeted.Singh also appealed to the family members of the stranded tourists not to panic. “The government will launch the rescue operations immediately after the intensity of the cyclone reduces. The teams are ready in Port Blair. I appeal to the family members of stranded tourists that they should not panic as everyone in the Havelock Islands are reported to be safe,” he added.Andaman and Nicobar Islands Governor Jagdish Mukhi yesterday confirmed that 1,400 tourists are stuck on Havelock Island and added that the administration has asked them to stay indoors till the weather gets normal. The Indian Navy yesterday informed about their ships reaching Havelock Island and the evacuation of tourists from there to Port Blair to start as soon as the weather gets normal.Tourists were stranded at Havelock Island after heavy rains lashed the region. The Andaman and Nicobar Disaster Management, which speculated cyclonic storm to hit the area, contacted Indian Navy and requested for an evacuation process be initiated. Havelock Island is the largest chain of Islands and is a famous tourist destination.

Modi will never make a Muslim the Vice President: Kejriwal hits out at ‘Hitler’ Jung

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Miffed over the appointment of Dilraj Kaur as the member secretary of DCW, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal hit out at Lt Governor Najeeb Jung, likening him to “Hitler”. “LG is acting like Hitler, following in footsteps of his masters Mr Modi n Amit Shah…Najeeb Jung has sold his soul to the Prime Minister,” Kejriwal said in a series of tweets. The appointment of member secretary to the DCW (Delhi Commission for Women) recently emerged as yet another flashpoint between Kejriwal and Jung. He also claimed that Jung was selling his soul to become the Vice President, but Modi wouldn’t make a Muslim the Vice President. Kejriwal had termed as “unconstitutional” the earlier appointment of Alka Diwan to the same post, saying Jung had overlooked the name suggested by the government. DCW chief Swati Maliwal had alleged that the appointment of Diwan led to the stalling of the functioning of the Commission and was subverting its autonomy.

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