<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>PM Narendra Modi has slammed the Opposition in his recent interview to the IndiaToday for stalling debate in the Parliament following demonetization. He also accused them for using the Upper and Lower House for ‘openly supporting and protecting the dishonest’.”While Parliament sessions being washed out is a major concern, this blatant endorsement of dishonesty is even more disconcerting for the nation. Debate is critical in a democracy. Had they allowed a debate to take place, it would have revealed a number of dimensions of this mammoth exercise to the nation,” PM Modi said.He said he wanted to speak in both houses but couldn’t as the Congress didn’t allow it, despite the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s appeal to them, as they did not want to a debate in the Parliament over the issue of note ban. He also dismissed the allegations by the Congress that the demonetization was done for political gains. He said that the while the party claims that the note ban was a political decision it also blames the Centre of making the common man suffer. Questioning the two contradictory accusations, Modi said that Congress’ attack on him was illogical. “Maybe, as members of the Opposition, they have to conjure something up to criticise me about, however illogical it may be. I sympathise with their difficulty,” ModiHe also reiterated his earlier attack on the Congress that former prime minister Indira Gandhi had junked the proposal of note ban – as claimed by Madhav Godbole’s in his book Unfinished Innings: Recollections and Reflections of a Civil Servant.- fearing backlash in elections. Rebutting Manmohan SinghModi said indicated that it was ironic that the former prime minister Manmohan Singh called the note ban “monumental mismanagement” as despite Singh’s various high profile roles in the government for 45 years, many in the country ‘continued to live in poverty and deprivation”.He also said that by calling demonetization ‘organised loot’ , Singh was probably referring to the various scams under his own tenure as the prime minister in the UPA governance.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Cashless? No problem. That’s the attitude the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) exuded as it settled the bill for an order of 6.5 lakh pants entirely in cheque. Not only that, the resulting Rs 19 lakh due in sales tax was all settled in cheque by the Sangh, sending a firm message to black money hoarders and demonetization doubters, that going cashless was not really a problem.“The RSS does not go in for any transaction other than the regular day-to-day expenditure of the Pracharaks so we faced no problem after the decision to demonetize old currency was announced,” said RSS Akhil Bharatiya Prachar Pramukh Manmohan Vaidya.Vaidya also stated that training exercises were also underway for the cadre and senior pracharaks to help them better understand how to conduct digital transactions. He also pointed out that RSS Pracharaks or offices handle very little cash which is why the Sangh was not much affected with the decision to demonetize currency.The 6.5 lakh pants were ordered over four months ago, when the Sangh had taken the momentous decision to shed their shorts for khakhi brown full pants. More than four months ago in July 2016, the RSS gave orders to 3-4 mills from Bhilwada to make 13 lakh meters of cloth. Vaidya revealed that while the RSS had sent three lakh meters of cloth outside Maharashtra so that the pants would be stitched at respective places, the RSS on its own had used the remaining cloth to make 6.5 lakh full pants which were stitched by giving the orders to the tailors.As a result of this, the RSS were able to conduct the Vijayadashami Sanchalan or march in Dussehra in October this year, in their changed attire of full pants, instead of the traditional half pants.Apart from the RSS, Vaidya said that he believed that demonetization was for the good of the people and generally it was being seen as a positive move. “I have been getting feedback from a cross section of society which says that they are happy about the decision to demonetize currency.”
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Career bureaucrat Anil Baijal was on Wednesday appointed as the new Lt Governor of Delhi, a post which has fallen vacant after sudden resignation of Najeeb Jung.70-year-old 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. The President accepted the resignation of Jung and also ordered for appointment of Baijal, who will be the 21st Lt Governor of the national capital. Baijal 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.
<!– /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.
<!– /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.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday mocked at Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, saying that the latter was “learning how to make speeches”. He was speaking in Varanasi on Thursday, his first tour of his parliamentary constituency in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, since demonetization. His speech was closely watched, since it came a day after Gandhi accused him of accepting kickbacks from corporate houses when he was Gujarat Chief Minister.Modi, without naming Gandhi, replied to the allegations with sarcasm, saying: “It is good that he has started speaking. In 2009, you couldn’t even tell what is in this packet. Now we are finding out…Since the time he has learnt how to speak, I am the happiest,” the Prime Minister said. “There would have been an earthquake had he not spoken… good that he has started speaking, we now know that there’s no chance of an earthquake,” he chuckled to his audience. We now know that there is no chance of an earthquake.” Modi didn’t even spare his predecessor Manmohan Singh, and referred to him by name.”Look at Manmohan Singhji. Do you know he has been in the core team of those in charge of the country’s economy since the seventies? Even he says that in the country where 50 per cent people are poor, how can all these digitisation happen? Now is this his report card or mine? Whose legacy am I dealing with?” he said.”They have a youth leader; he is learning how to speak… Since the time he has learnt how to speak, I am the happiest,” the Prime Minister said. “There would have been an earthquake had he not spoken… good that he has started speaking, we now know that there’s no chance of an earthquake,” he chuckled to his audience.He also attacked the Opposition for stalling Parliament over the currency ban, by alleging that they were trying to “rescue the corrupt”. He even drew parallels between Pakistan providing cover fire to terrorists to cross the border with the Opposition opposing the note ban to protect kala dhan (black money) as well as kale mann (ill-intentions) of many. “Many people say I had not taken into account the consequences of this huge step. In fact, the only thing that I could not take into account was the brazenness with which many political parties and leaders will come to the rescue of the corrupt. But I am happy that this drive, aimed at eliminating kala dhan has exposed so many kale mann,” Modi said.Taking on former finance minister Chidambaram over his assertion that online transactions could not find wide acceptance in India since nearly half its villages were not even electrified, PM Modi said: “Whose faults are he pointing at? Did I uproot electric poles or snap cables in villages which had electricity?”.Referring to Gandhi’s assertion at a public meeting in Gujarat on Wednesday that payments through cards, online transfers etc., would face hurdles in the country due to low literacy levels, the PM ridiculed the previous Congress governments for keeping people illiterate.”I hope he does not say that I had indulged in some sort of black magic to make illiterate those who knew how to read and write. He never thinks before he speaks and he may not have realised that he has admitted the failure of the long reign of his own party.” Calling himself Kashi ka bachcha (a child of Kashi), Modi said: “I am, nonetheless, delighted to see that the power of this holy land has made me work and forced detractors to admit, even if unwittingly, their failures,” he concluded.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a scathing attack on opposition for stalling Parliament over demonetization, Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleged on Thursday that they were trying to “rescue the corrupt” like Pakistan gives cover fire to terrorists to cross border and said the note ban will expose the ‘kala dhan’ (black money) as well as ‘kale mann’ (ill-intentions) of many. “Many people say I had not taken account the consequences of this huge step. In fact, the only thing that I could not take into account was the brazenness with which many political parties and leaders will come to the rescue of the corrupt.But I am happy that this drive aimed at eliminating ‘kala dhan’ has exposed so many ‘kale mann’,” Modi said. The Prime Minister, who was on his first tour of his Lok Sabha constituency after Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes were demonetized on November 8, was speaking at a function organised inside the Benares Hindu University campus.Charging the opposition parties, who have been attacking the government over demonetization, with “brazenly standing in support of the corrupt and the dishonest”, Modi compared their stalling of parliamentary proceedings during the latest session to “firing at the borders by Pakistan in a bid to provide cover to infiltrators”.
ALSO READ After PM Modi mocks Rahul’s ‘earthquake’, Congress VP says ‘answer me’He also hit back at former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and P Chidambaram, saying their argument that promoting cashless economy was futile due to poverty, illiteracy and electricity not reaching villages in the country “exposes” their own report card. Reacting to his predecessor Manmohan Singh’s assertion in the Parliament that a cashless economy was not feasible for the country where nearly 50% of people were poor, the Prime Minister said, “I wonder whether he was giving his own report card by admitting the dismal situation. After all, he has not just been the Prime Minister for two terms and a Finance Minister previously. Since the 1970s he has been holding key positions”.Taking on former Finance Minister Chidambaram over his assertion that online transactions could not find wide acceptance in India since nearly half of its villages were not even electrified, Modi said “whose faults is he pointing at. Did I uproot electric poles or snap cables in villages which had electricity”.
ALSO READ Manmohan Singh exposing his own misdeeds, says PM ModiHe also took potshots at Rahul Gandhi’s assertion that payments through cards, online transfers etc. would face hurdles in the country due to low literacy levels, saying, “I hope he does not say that I had indulged in some sort of black magic to make illiterate those who knew how to read and write. “He never thinks before he speaks and he may not have realized that he has admitted the failure of the long reign of his own party.”Calling himself “Kashi ka bachcha” (a child of Kashi), Modi said, “I am, nonetheless, delighted to see that the power of this holy land has made me work and forced detractors to admit, even if unwittingly, their failures”. Urging the people to have patience in the face of the inconveniences which have ensued demonetization, Modi said, making use of a metaphor, “The stench of a garbage heap becomes unbearable when a cleanliness drive starts. But if we persevere and remove every bit of filth, we can build a beautiful garden on the clean spot”.
ALSO READ Rahul Gandhi hits back at Modi, says mock me, but answer questionsReiterating the need to move towards a “cashless economy”, Modi said “once black money is eliminated from the system, it is essential to ensure that fresh black money is not generated. Net banking, mobile banking and payment through cards is the way forward”. Earlier, the Prime Minister laid the foundation stones for a cancer research centre and a super specialty hospital and stressed on the need for “not just health insurance but also health assurance wherein the poorest of the poor have access to the best possible treatment and medicines”.Modi, who also interacted with artistes performing a stage play “Chanakya”, hailed the political and economic thought of the ancient Indian strategist saying “so many ideas have come and gone but he remains as relevant as ever”. Offering words of appreciation for the ongoing “Rashtriya Sanskritik Mahotsav” (national cultural festival at BHU), Modi said, “Art must be a part of our life and artistes must get due respect since it is art alone that can prevent human beings from becoming like robots which have intelligence but no sensitivity.”The Prime Minister was speaking in the presence of Union Ministers Mahesh Sharma and Anupriya Patel.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking on Rahul Gandhi for his criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on demonetization, Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting M. Venkaiah Naidu said the Congress Party has no moral right to do so since it was under their previous regime that a parallel economy laden with black money was allowed to function in the country.”Let them further up the ante, they have no credibility, not even one person is going to believe what the Congress says because they have ruled the country and ruined the country. All this is happening in the country because of the misrule of the Congress and what have they done to unearth black money,” Naidu told ANI.”What is it you that have done to unearth the black money, why have you not acted on the Supreme Court guidance to form the SIT on black money, the order came in 2012, and how this parallel economy has been going on years together. It was the Congress rule that provided for all scams and scandals. You have pushed the country into a cesspool of corruption,” he added.He further asserted the Congress has no moral authority to raise questions on the Prime Minister.”In the two years, Prime Minister Modi has repaired the economy enhanced the image of the country and has earned the respect of the country and international community and what have we inherited? We inherited fiscal deficit, trade deficit, current account deficit led by great economist Dr. Manmohan Singh,” Naidu said.Naidu said the Congress is now getting frustrated as their election prospects are on the down swing and their presence in parliament is diminishing.”From last 20 days, Congress and its friends prevented parliament from functioning. You gave a call for bharat bandh which was a flop. You called for aakrosh rally it fissile out. You wanted a debate, we started, but you ran away from it,” he added.Recalling Prime Minister Modi’s remark, Naidu said demonetization is a bitter pill for a long term ill while adding that will benefit people in the long term.”It is a revolutionary and transformatory move in every transformation. There will be some problems and affects, but after affects it will be good that is why people showing monumental patience, they have confidence in leadership of the Prime Minister and feel that this step is a moral step,” he said.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP on Monday slammed the Uttarakhand government for declaring a special 90-minute Friday break for Muslim employees, saying it will set a wrong precedent and accused the Congress of “communalising” the state’s politics ahead of the assembly polls.Accusing the Congress of pursuing a divisive agenda in its greed for power, the party said few people will be left working in the government offices if Hindus, who observe different forms of pujas across the month, are also given a similar concession. BJP National Secretary Shrikant Sharma told reporters here that Congress has a history of “dividing” people on communal lines in its greed for power and what it has done in Uttarakhand is an attempt to hide the Harish Rawat government’s failures.”There is no issue with people of different faiths offering prayers of their choice. But this decision will set a wrong precedent on the matter of principle. From Monday to Saturday, faithfuls in our culture worship different Gods and offer prayers. “If everybody is to be given a favour like this, then who will work in government offices. It is an attempt to communalise the state’s politics ahead of the polls as the government has failed on all fronts. It has nothing to show to people for its work and is attempting to hide its failures under its communal agenda,” he said.Congress has given communal colour to terrorism in its greed for power, Sharma alleged, claiming that the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had gone on to say that minorities have the first right to the nation’s resources. For BJP, the poor have the first right, he claimed. The Uttarakhand government has announced a special 90- minute break will be given to the government employees from the Muslim community in the state for Friday prayers.
On the 41st day of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 50-day promise to get back normalcy in common man’s life post 8 November demonetisation announcement, yet another promise is broken made to the common man.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), in a press release said in the remaining days of this month, one can make a deposits in Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes in excess of Rs 5,000 only once per account.
If you want to deposit cash in banned currency in excess of that amount, you’ll have to explain in the presence of at least two officers on why you could not do it earlier. Even if the deposits are made in small amounts multiple times, if they add up to the magic number of Rs 5,000, again you stand exposed to questions.
One wonders what happened to PM Modi’s promise (read the full text of PM Modi’s 8 November speech here) to the nation that, “Persons holding old notes of 500 or 1,000 rupees can deposit these notes in their bank or post office accounts from 10th November till close of banking hours on 30th December 2016 without any limit. Thus you will have 50 days to deposit your notes and there is no need for panic. Your money will remain yours. You need have no worry on this point.”
The RBI circular is also silent on why should an honest citizen need to answer a banker on the timing of his deposit and the amount? A banker, after all, is not an investigator. Or is the assumption here that anyone who hasn’t deposited invalidated currencies in their bank accounts are hoarders of black money?
Repeated flip-flops in withdrawal/exchange rules since 8 November makes one wonder what is the nature of the plan both the RBI and the government claims to have for the ‘well-thought out’ rollout of currency ban. It reminds one the statement of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s caution to the RBI, an institution he headed once, about the trust deficit the central bank is facing with the way it dealt with the demonetisation from the very beginning.
“It is no good that everyday the banking system comes with modification of the rules, the conditions under which the people can withdraw money. That reflects very poorly on the Prime Minister’s office, on the finance minister’s office and on the Reserve Bank of India. I am very sorry that the Reserve Bank of India has been exposed to this sort of criticism which I think is fully justified.” The ardent fans of frequent rule flip-flops in government and the RBI would do well reading history and find the story of a former Delhi sultan, Muhammad bin Tughluq.
What do the government and the RBI achieve by breaking their promise by restricting deposits before the 30 December deadline? One possibility is that the government doesn’t want a likelihood of all money demonetised returning to the bank counters. At the last count, almost Rs 13 lakh crore of the Rs 15.4 lakh crore demonetised currency notes had found their way back to the bank counters. If all the Rs 15.4 lakh crore returns, it will be an egg on the face of the government, which probably expected a good part of the unaccounted wealth to get destroyed. This would have helped it to say that much illegal cash is destroyed in the exercise. Earlier, the government was expecting only around Rs 10 lakh crore to return, but the public surprised the government by depositing money diligently.
If the action is to target hoarders, it is unlikely that the government finds any luck with this latest flip-flop. The tax evaders would have deposited their money much earlier in small doses either by creating fake accounts (like in the Axis Bank episode), donating to one of the 1866 political parties that enjoy no tax, no scrutiny under the current laws, by splitting the amount to several small bundles or depositing it multiple benami accounts.
Thus, the likely victims of this latest U-turn will be the common man, some of whom would have waited for the queues in banks to get short to deposit their old currency savings. If they have a large amount to deposit, they should get ready to face questions at bank counter to establish that this is their own money. Last month, the government had abruptly stopped the currency exchange facility at bank counters after initially promising until 30 December. Remember, a number of time rules have changed for the common citizens on cash withdrawals and deposits. Bankers, at one point, even inked customers to ensure people don’t withdraw cash beyond certain specific limits, reminding one of war-time rationing.
Demonetisation story is taking new turns rapidly with changing goal posts and theories of as yet uncertain gains in the long term. But, no matter what the final gains of the demonetisation are, both the RBI and the government will have to answer the common man on the repeated breach of promises while executing a ‘well planned operation’ and fight a growing trust deficit that’ll also have likely political implications.
First Published On : Dec 19, 2016 15:38 IST
New Delhi: Blaming the government for not allowing Parliament to work over demonetisation, some Opposition parties led by the Congress on Friday urged President Pranab Mukherjee to intervene.
A host of Opposition leaders including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Vice President Rahul Gandhi, Trinamool Congress lawmaker Sudip Bandyopadhyay and Sharad Yadav of the Janata Dal United met Mukherjee and submitted a memorandum.
“Because of the government’s attitude, no debate on crucial issue of demonetisation was possible during the winter session of Parliament,” the memorandum said.
“We made best efforts to ensure that the demonetisation issue is discussed but the government did not allow our adjournment motion,” Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge told the media later.
“This government has endeavoured to break every principle of democracy and the entire responsibility of not allowing Parliament to function lies with the government,” he said.
First Published On : Dec 16, 2016 15:51 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The nation on Tuesday paid homage to those who sacrificed their lives while defending Parliament House from dastardly terror attack on this day in 2001.PM Narendra Modi, former PM Manmohan Singh, Members of Parliament and leaders from different political parties paid floral tributes to the bravehearts at the plaque in Parliament House in the morning.Two persons from the Parliament Security Service of the Rajya Sabha, five Delhi Police Personnel and a woman constable of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) laid down their lives while preventing the entry of terrorists inside the Parliament House Building. A gardener of CPWD also lost his life in the attack.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The BJP took exception to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s remarks that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh are dividing the country on religious lines, saying he is suffering from “attention seeking disorder”. The Congress vice president had earlier in the day taken a dig at Singh and remarked that while he agrees that Pakistan is trying to divide India along religious lines, the Home Minister and his “boss” (PM Modi) have also been doing the same.”Rahul is suffering from attention seeking disorder. It is a shameful statement. He does it for a good TRP,” BJP secretary Srikant Sharma said here. He said while the entire country and the world community are united against Pakistan on the issue of terrorism, Gandhi’s remarks only encourage those seated in power in Islamabad. “No other party than Congress knows it better how to divide the country on religious lines. The 1984 anti-Sikh riots are the biggest example … then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said minorities have the first right on resources.
A month after the old currency notes of Rs 500 and 1,000 were banned overnight, in an editorial for the newspaper The Hindu on Friday, Singh wrote how the decision will hurt the Indians who earn their wages in cash, while the black money hoarders will get away with a “mere rap on the knuckles”.
“The popular saying “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” serves as a useful reminder and warning in this context,” wrote Singh saying that although the intention to get the country rid of the black money is genuine, the method adopted by the current government is flawed.
Singh goes on to explain that millions across the country who earn their wages and hence, save, exclusively in cash has been the worst hit. “To tarnish these as ‘black money’ and throw the lives of these hundreds of millions of poor people in disarray is a mammoth tragedy,” he writes.
Meanwhile, Singh says that only a fraction of the actual black money is stored in cash form (rest in land, gold, foreign exchange, etc) by the guilty. And these people have much easy access to banks and other facilities.
He goes on to call Modi’s decision a “travesty of this fundamental duty”.
Singh also slammed the government for propagating that it has solutions for all the problems while the previous one did nothing. “It is not so,” writes Singh, saying the government needs to take care of the weak and not run away from responsibility.
Echoing his Rajya Sabha speech from last month, Singh said the move can even have an adverse effect on the GDP growth and job creation.
Last month Singh broke his silence on the central government’s demonetisation move, criticising Modi over the decision. During a debate in Rajya Sabha on 24 November, Singh said, “The GDP of the country will decline by about 2 percent by what has been done. And this is an underestimate and not an overestimate.”
Experts have agreed with Singh’s observations — who is an eminent economist — and concurred that the decline in GDP could be as high as three or four percent.
First Published On : Dec 9, 2016 10:03 IST
An “enigmatic woman”, a “shy actor”, the “astute politician”, the “iron lady”, a “beloved leader”: The late AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa has earned many such monikers through her work as six-time Tamil Nadu chief minister. She was a fighter, so much so that she managed to hold together a disillusioned and broken party in the post-MG Ramachandran era, single-handedly around her cult. However, it was her efforts following the tsunami that shook Tamil Nadu on 26 December, 2004, that best highlighted her administrative skills.
The tsunami left over 9,300 people dead and many more homeless in India, Sri Lanka and South-East Asia. In Chennai, the death toll was 131; Nagapattinam was worst-hit with 788 deaths, and in Kanyakumari, around 392 people died, according to a report by The Hindu. The earthquake off the coast of Sumatra that caused the tsunami was recorded at a magnitude of 8.9 by the United States Geological Survey. It caused buildings in lands as far away as Thailand, Bangladesh and Singapore to sway.
Jayalalithaa announced a Rs 153.37 crore relief package, divided into a general package and a separate one for fishermen. Families would get Rs 1 lakh as compensation for every member lost, along with one dhoti, one sari, two bedsheets, 60 kg of rice, three litres of kerosene, and Rs 1,000 in cash for groceries. Furthermore, Rs 1,000 was to be given for purchase of utensils, Rs 2,000 so they could put up accommodation. Per family, and there were about one lakh families in all, the package would cost about Rs 5,000. The fishermen also recieved an extra Rs 65 crore meant to cover gill nets and boats, according to another report by The Hindu.
Once the state tsunami relief fund of Rs 1,000 crore was exhausted, she wrote to then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking for a donation of Rs 1,120 from the National Contingency Fund, according to The Telegraph.
It was only a matter of hours before Nagapattinam had its power supply back. With the state working on disaster management for over seven years, response time had been reduced significantly; mobile cranes and ambulances were on patrol. The government entrusted district administration with rehabilitation of affected families, and when they were found to be incompetent, she reshuffled or sacked officers immediately, according to a report on Rediff.
A report by NDTV says that Jayalalithaa drew up the Emergency Tsunami Rehabilitation Scheme in 2005, according to which 14,364 houses would be built for 444 villages along coastal Tamil Nadu, the ones most severely affected by the tsunami.
She called on Manmohan Singh again, urging the prime minister to house the tsunami warning centre in Chennai in the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT), as it would be psychologically reassuring to the coastal population. She cited the 50 seismic disturbances that had taken place in TN, including seven severe and very severe cyclonic storms in 50 years leading up to 2005, according to The Hindu.
Jayalalithaa even extended help to the Sri Lankan government by instating officers to guide the island nation in the process of rehabilitation, according to Deccan Chronicle quoting state revenue minister RB Udhayakumar. After China and Pakistan denied help to Sri Lanka, Colombo looked to Jayalalithaa for assistance. And she responded.
Her administrative style was uncompromising, whether it was banning the sale of gutkha, or mandatory installation of rainwater harvesting systems, but, she got things done on time without any ifs or buts, as was seen with the tsunami relief, ensuring people remembered not the ruthlessness of her tenure, but the help it gave them.
First Published On : Dec 6, 2016 19:20 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Demonetization has “changed the rules of the game” for all parties as black money will now be out of elections, BJP President Amit Shah on Tuesday said and asserted that the upcoming UP Assembly polls will be contested on performance and not on politics of caste and nepotism.Shah also hit out at former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has criticised demonetization, saying that despite being an economist, he had brought the growth rate down “from 8 per cent to 4 per cent” while a “chaiwallah” PM has again raised it to 7.6 per cent.Speaking at a programme ‘Agenda Aaj Tak’, the BJP chief said that people were supporting the Centre’s demonetization move and it has also “changed the rules of the game by dealing a blow to blackmoney” which was used in elections.”If it causes problems, it will cause problems for all political parties. It will be a level playing field. We want that black money is removed from the system, it is they who don’t want it,” Shah said.Responding to a question about BSP chief Mayawati calling demonetization as financial emergency, Shah responded with a jibe saying it was definitely so for her party.”In the upcoming UP elections, the politics of caste, the politics of nepotism will be coming to an end and the politics of performance will take centre-stage,” he said.Hitting out at political rivals, Shah said that till November 8, they were asking “what are you doing on black money and now they are saying why are you taking action against black money”.He claimed that post demonetization black money will not survive, because if is left in homes it will become junk and if it comes to banks it will become part of the system and will be taxable.Asked about Singh’s criticism, Shah said that he is an economist who was at top financial positions for years from RBI to Finance Ministry to being Prime Minister.”Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was not an economist but he had taken the economy to a growth rate of 8 per cent.”Then Singh became PM and left it at 4 per cent. Now a ‘chaiwallah’ PM has taken over and again raised it to 7.6 per cent,” Shah said.It is Manmohan Singh, who has to answer questions rather than asking them, the BJP chief said. When he left the post, crores of people did not even have bank accounts, he said.Shah said that after seeing Singh, he does not want to be an economist.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Noting that former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s remarks on demonetization have raised questions over “trustworthiness” of banking system, Shiv Sena today said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision is imposing a “significant cost” on economy and the implementation of the policy has been “absolute mismanagement”.A delegation of Sena MPs today submitted a memorandum to RBI deputy Governor R Gandhi, requesting “active measures” to ease out the “chaos” caused by invalidation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes. Sena is a junior alliance partner of the BJP-led governments at the Centre and in Maharashtra. “We were told that RBI is taking steps to expedite the printing of currency so that there is no shortage of cash flow,” Mumbai North East MP Ganjanan Kirtikar told PTI. Apart from Kirtikar, Rajya Sabha MPs Sanjay Raut, Anil Desai and their Lok Saha counterparts Arvind Sawant, Rahul Shewale were present at the meeting that lasted for over 20 minutes.In the memorandum, Sena MPs referred to criticism of the demonetization policy by Singh in Parliament.”Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s remarks on the floor of Rajya Sabha give rise to the questions on trustworthiness of the banking system, as he asked government to name any country where people have deposited their money but are not able to withdraw it,” it said. Singh had termed the roll out of demonetization as “monumental mismanagement”. “The country is increasingly worried about the absolute mismanagement in implementation (of demonetization) and daily announcements that show chaos. In no other country would such a decision, where citizens are looked down as thieves, be welcomed peacefully. We look forward to seeing the active measures taken by the RBI on easing out the chaos by demonetization,” stated the memorandum.Sena claimed the declaration to scrap old high value tenders made by Modi last month is “imposing significant costs on economy.” “The costs are becoming apparent, millions standing in queue to withdraw cash, individuals unable to buy essentials, the disruption of small business, trade, agriculture, thus the entire economy has derailed because of the improper and so far failed implementation policy adopted by the agencies.”The frustration, mental agony and trauma caused to the people, who have been restrained to withdraw their legitimate money from their bank accounts, has resulted in more than 80 deaths till date,” it said. Sena said RBI’s norms regarding withdrawal of up to Rs 2.50 lakh cash for weddings have dealt a “severe blow” to people as the conditions are very stringent, resulting in postponement or cancellation of marriages. “Our party president Uddhav Thackeray has welcomed the policy decision of the government to weed out the corruption and black money from the society, but raised serious objections on the implementation part of it. “Inadequate preparations in rolling out new currency, insufficient notes at the bank counters & ATMs, inordinate delay in recalibration of ATMs, has put people to inconvenience and hardships,” the memorandum said.Referring to RBI’s ban on cooperative banks to deposit and exchange old notes, Sena said 371 district co-operative banks, which are the backbone of the rural economy, too have suffered serious setback. Sena also referred to the Bombay High Court’s observation that some arrangements need to be made to address the plight of DCCBs following demonetization. “Thus, in nutshell, from labourers to farmers, from weavers to artisans, from workers to traders and businessmen, from service sector to manufacturing sector all are the sufferers in the onslaught of demonetization,” it said.The memorandum said, “Modi assured the people of India on November 8 by saying ‘your money will be your money, you don’t have to worry about this, we have made arrangements to ensure that citizens suffer the least possible difficulty’. The PM also urged people for 50-day timeframe to streamline the currency circulation.” “The countdown has already begun as 27 out of 50 days have passed by and 23 days are left for the government to put the derailed economy back on track and restore normalcy.” Stating that people are anxiously awaiting and watching the moves of the government in dealing with worsening situation, it said that every constituent of the society wants to heave a sigh of relief on December 30.”Eminent economists like Amartya Sen, Manmohan Singh and many others have questioned the wisdom of the government in playing demonetization gamble. Government has sighted long term gain out of demonetization measures but as observed by Manmohan Singh in his remarks ‘In the long run we all are dead’ (it) needs serious thinking on the part of the government,” it said. Sena further said the government should not be “too late” to exercise “corrective steps” as more complexities may deteriorate the health of the nation. “The question remains, given the timeline, will RBI score over the challenges ahead and smoothen the disarrayed state of the economy? Remember that the common man is the pulse of the economy, will he get solace after December 30?,” it asked.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>TMC supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is not against demonetization per se, but the way it is being implemented, Yoga guru Baba Ramdev said on Saturday. “I praise Mamata Banerjee because she is very simple and stays in a cottage and wears hawai chappals. I think she is not opposed to the demonetization move per se. But I feel she is not happy the way it was implemented,” he said at the Infocom seminar here. Banerjee has been most vocal among opposition parties against demonetization and held protest meetings in Delhi, Patna and Luckhow.The Yoga guru-cum-entrepreneur said, “I had planted the seeds of demonetization. I continued the movement from 2009 to 2014 and asked the government to withdraw Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes as it was the root cause of corruption, black money, terror and militant funding”. Now with demonetization, black money generation, corruption and terror funding had stopped totally, he claimed.”The common people is getting inconvenienced due to cash crisis. But none is complaining against this,” he said.Praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the move, Ramdev sarcastically said former PM Manmohan Singh, who had never spoken a word on any issue, had actually spoken now on the issue.”This is the effect of demonetization you see,” he quipped.
New Delhi: Former Home Minister P Chidambaram has said the recent Nagrota attack is as “shameful” as the 2008 Mumbai carnage and has “disproved” the belief that surgical strikes can end cross-border terrorism.
Speaking at the launch of former National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon’s book, titled “Choices:Inside the making of India’s foreign policy’, Chidambaram said there was no “unified command” at the level of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
“What happened at Nagrota is just as shameful as what happened in Mumbai. The cross-border, cross-LoC action will not prevent Pakistan-based terrorist groups from attacking Indian installations and camps,” he said last night.
“The strikes restore balance at the border. It sends a signal to Pakistan that if you can do it we can do it. But to imagine that surgical strike will put an end to cross-border action, that has been disproved by what has happened in Nagrota,” he said.
He claimed that there was “no coherence” at the level of MHA and attributed it to discontinuation of a “good practice”.
“I think the practice of having a Home Minister, home secretary, the special secretary, the DIB, the director RAW and NSA meet every day was a good practice. The practice has stopped. That is why there is no coherence, no coordination, no unified command at the level of home affairs,” he said.
Noting that engaging Pakistan is the “only answer” that India has, Chidambaram said the present government started at one extreme and has now swung to another extreme.
“The first extreme was over-enthusiasm and the second is their own making. Eventually you have to live with your neighbours. The only answer is to engage Pakistan through trade, cultural exchanges or people to people exchanges,” he said.
About surgical strikes, Chidambaram said the ownership should have been left to the army.
“First, the ownership should have been left to the army like we have in the past. Second, we should not make statements like ‘Pakistan called us yesterday and begged us to stop’ or make statements like ‘I will gouge their eyes’. These statements make us a laughing stock.
“Our cross-border strikes do not deter Pakistan sufficiently. There are other options that can be explored. Going public about surgical strikes limits your options,” he said at the launch which was also attended by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
He said though India’s response to 26/11 attacks was “extremely poor”, it gained “enormously” by choosing not to retaliate militarily.
“Our capacity to respond was extremely poor. It took us three to four days to clear three to four terrorists holed up in a hotel. Retaliation was not an option. Neither desirable nor feasible at that point of time.
“India gained enormously by not retaliating. By the time the UPA stepped down, Pakistan had been virtually isolated… What we now witness are daring attacks on Army camps… One must measure the efficacy of a policy by its outcomes. The ceasefire along the LoC did produce an outcome,” Chidambaram said.
About the deteriorating security situation in Kashmir, he said his government’s policies brought several years of “relative peace and tranquillity” in the Valley, but “all that lie shattered today”.
“Origin of this decline is the completely unethical, unacceptable coalition between two parties that were bitterly opposed to each other. That is the greatest provocation in the Valley. As long as that unethical combination remains, I can’t see any way forward in Kashmir,” he said.
First Published On : Dec 3, 2016 15:35 IST
Indian opposition parties say thousands will participate in protests against the cash ban.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Lashing out at former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for his criticism of demonetization, Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal on said it was the UPA government who did the “height of organised loot and “mismanagement of economy” in allocation of coal blocks.Goyal delivered a speech on demonetization and its future effects on Indian economy at a city-based college.Singh had termed demonetization a “monumental management failure” and “organised loot” during a debate on the issue in Parliament.”If there was any height of organised loot and mismanagement of economy that had taken place, it had taken place during the allocation of coal block between 2006 and 2009 and if you read the files of coal allocation, you will come to know the magnitude of the scam as tremendous loot had taken place during the allocations and CAG, in their report, had mentioned of the loss of Rs 1,86,000 crore in these allocations,” said Goyal.He claimed that during the UPA government there was “competition over scams” like CWG, Adarsh, 2G, Augusta Westland.”When we are now acting against black money and corruption, the same person, who was leading the then government, who was custodian of all the system and an economist, is calling this historical move an ‘organise loot’,” he said.On the nation-wide protest called by Opposition tomorrow, he said any sane person in the country has understood that the people of the country have stood in the support of the decision.”The people of this country have shown immense faith and trust in Modiji and despite bearing hardships, everybody is saying that Modiji has done a good job,” he said.There will be benefits in the long run as the move will help eradicate unemployment, poverty in the country and farmers, women, underprivileged and unorganised sector will be benefited, he said.Asked about the government’s move against ‘benami properties’ he said in last three budgets, several moves were taken to fight against black money and corruption.”In future, you will see more thrust on ease of business and ease of taxation,” said Goyal.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Lashing out at former prime minister Manmohan Singh for his criticism of demonetisation, Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal on Sunday said it was the UPA government who did the “height of organised loot” and “mismanagement of economy” in allocation of coal blocks.Goyal delivered a speech on demonetisation and its future effects on Indian economy at a city-based college. Singh had termed demonetization a “monumental management failure” and “organised loot” during a debate on the issue in Parliament. “If there was any height of organised loot and mismanagement of economy that had taken place, it had taken place during the allocation of coal block between 2006 and 2009 and if you read the files of coal allocation, you will come to know the magnitude of the scam as tremendous loot had taken place during the allocations and CAG, in their report, had mentioned of the loss of Rs 1,86,000 crore in these allocations,” said Goyal. He claimed that during the UPA government there was “competition over scams” like CWG, Adarsh, 2G, Augusta Westland.”When we are now acting against black money and corruption, the same person, who was leading the then government, who was custodian of all the system and an economist, is calling this historical move an ‘organise loot’,” he said. On the nation-wide protest called by Opposition tomorrow, he said any sane person in the country has understood that the people of the country have stood in the support of the decision. “The people of this country have shown immense faith and trust in Modiji and despite bearing hardships, everybody is saying that Modiji has done a good job,” he said. There will be benefits in the long run as the move will help eradicate unemployment, poverty in the country and farmers, women, underprivileged and unorganised sector will be benefited, he said. Asked about the government’s move against ‘benami properties’ he said in last three budgets, several moves were taken to fight against black money and corruption. “In future, you will see more thrust on ease of business and ease of taxation,” said Goyal. Appealing youths in Pune, Goyal said being an intellectual city, entrepreneurship and technology hub and epicentre of education, Pune has the potential to become thefirst city to go 100 per cent cashless by adopting e-payments options.”I was speaking to youths today and an idea came into the mind that why we should not form an action committee for digital payments and set up a target of 15 days to go about the transformation. “Through this action committee, youths can reach out to the society and arrange camps and help small traders, merchants, small time vendors and shop keepers to adopt digital payment options which are available in the market and lead towards the first 100 per cent cashless city,” he added.
Beijing: Terming Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetisation move as “very bold”, China’s official media said it was a “gamble” that would create a precedent irrespective of whether it succeeds or fails and China will draw lessons from its impact on corruption.
“Modi’s move is very bold. We cannot imagine what would happen in China if the country bans its 50 and 100 yuan notes,” said an editorial in the state-run Global Times titled ‘Modi takes a gamble with money reform’. 100 yuan is China’s highest currency note.
“To prevent a leak of information jeopardising the implementation of the demonetisation reform, the roll out of the plan had to be kept confidential. Modi is in a dilemma as the reform aims to render the black money useless but the process goes against the governance principle of winning support of the public before initiating a new policy,” the editorial said.
“As more than 90 per cent of transactions in India are made with cash, banning 85 per cent of the currency in circulation brings a lot of trouble to people’s daily life” sparking fierce criticism including from “former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who termed it as organised loot”, it said.
“Demonetisation can crackdown on corruption and shadow economy but it is obviously unable to solve the deeper social and political issues that help breed the aforementioned problems,” the editorial said.
However, it stated that as far as the root causes of corruption exist, the problems will always resurface. “In other words, the Modi government wishes to turn a long and arduous reform into a one-off deal,” it said.
“Demonetisation is a gamble for Modi. He bet on both the execution ability of the government and the tolerance level of the Indian society, hoping that the benefits of this reform can outrun the negative social impacts and low morale,” the editorial said.
It asserted that the “Western-style” democratic system of India allows little room for such bold moves. “However, he is really carrying it out, and will create a precedent no matter he succeeds or fails,” it said.
“Reform is always difficult and requires more than just courage. Modi’s demonetisation came with good intention but whether it can succeed depends on the efficiency of the system and the cooperation of the entire society.
More and more people are growing pessimistic about the ability of Modi’s government to control the process,” the editorial said. Noting that China’s reform and opening-up has been going on for nearly 40 years, the editorial said it had ups and downs but remained largely stable.
“Its success is based on broad public support,” it said. “The strong execution capabilities of the Communist Party of China are built on the consensus of the entire country. By observing India’s reforms we will draw lessons, which would in turn help us understand our own reforms,” it said.
First Published On : Nov 26, 2016 18:39 IST
Mumbai: We have been “inviting” Pakistan to play a role in the Kashmir problem on various occasions despite the neighbouring country having lost its standing in that state, former RAW chief A S Dulat said in Mumbai on Friday.
We have been inviting Pakistan to play a role in the Kashmir problem on various occasions despite the neighbouring country having lost its role in that state,” Dulat said.
“We (government) need Pakistan as something to fall back on. We must not forget that in the 2013 elections in Pakistan, Kashmir was not the issue in their election.”
“Nawaz Sharif never spoke of Kashmir during that election campaign. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan had also said ‘Let’s forget Kashmir’. Then, how come Pakistan still got active in Kashmir?” he said.
“After J&K elections, we tried to maintain status quo, which was dangerous. J&K was already polarised and after BJP winning some seats, it formed the government with PDP.
“Though it was a natural alliance based on their voting, the ground reality was of unrest after then chief minister thanked Pakistan and separatists, which invited Pakistan back in the game,” Dulat said.
“Post 9/11 attack on twin towers in the US, even separatists from Kashmir had lost hopes from Pakistan and latter’s support to them and one of them had openly told me about it. In the following year’s Pakistan’s role was reduced further in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.
“But when Manmohan Singh became prime minister in 2004, his approach towards Kashmir changed. I think he did not know how to manage the Kashmir issue. He spent more time on Pakistan and it is because the people around him told him so,” Dulat said.
“There was also chance for Manmohan Singh during 2006-07, but he did not visit Pakistan. We missed the window of taking peace talks ahead,” Dulat said.
Referring to former Pakistan army chief turned President General Pervez Musharraf, Dulat said, “There has not been a more reasonable person on Kashmir than Musharraf.” “He had suggested a settlement across LoC but unfortunately it was not followed up seriously. Today, he has become a persona non-grata in Pakistan,” Dulat said.
On the Modi government, he said, “Looking at his massive support in Lok Sabha, he has a greater opportunity on Kashmir issue and if the government talks, holds dialogues, there will be some solutions.”
“After Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister, J&K people felt that he would walk the Vajpayee path, because Kashmiris were highly impressed by Vajpayee.
“Surprisingly, Hurriyat Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq had congratulated Modi for the win. But today, most of the
separatists have joined hands against Modi government,” the ex-RAW chief said.
“One misconception about Kashmir is that we believe they always want something from us,” Dulat said.
The Jammu and Kashmir government now a days pays only lip service to the Modi government, as a result of which the state has been in a worse situation in last four months, he said.
“Kashmir’s recent unrest has some roots in then Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s press conference after his swearing-in where he praised separatists and Pakistan for ensuring smooth elections,” Dulat said.
“I think he got carried away but it gave a wrong message,” he said.
“Earlier, clashes during Amarnath yatra polarised Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.
This background later led to massive stone-pelting in the valley after the killing of Burhan Wani who had the audacity to post his photo on social media and challenge the government, Dulat said.
During the UPA government, “where Manmohan Singh had everything on platter”, his advisers probably convinced him to engage only with Pakistan, which led to unrest among Kashmiris, he said.
Relations between separatist leadership and NDA regime had improved so much that Hurriyat Conference began to be called “Advani Hurriyat”, Dulat said.
“Musharraf would be regretting walking out of Agra (summit),” Dulat said about the then Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s visit in 2001, as it stalled the dialogue.
About the recent `surgical strike’, Dulat said, “May be we did not need so much media hype” as it leads to increase in tension. “Look at the LoC, more civilians are dying now from both sides,” he said.
Dulat and Sudheendra Kulkarni of Observer Foundation paid tributes to the senior journalist Dilip Padgaonkar, who had headed Centre-appointed interlocutors’ panel for Kashmir, and who passed away in Pune earlier on Friday.
First Published On : Nov 26, 2016 11:04 IST
A day after Narendra Modi‘s 8 November demonetisation move, a friend forwarded a message saying “kuch bhi kaho bhaiyon, Manmohan Singh devta admi (PM) tha” (Whatever you say about him brothers, Manmohan Singh was a godly man). The message carried an implicit meaning, the former prime minister during his decade-long tenure allowed you to do whatever made you and all concerned to do whatever they wanted to do — white, grey or black.
Manmohan’s doctoral philosophy in economics and politics cautioned him not to ever think or say na khaunga na khane dunga (Neither will eat nor will allow others to eat). He thus would happily turn a blind eye, see nothing, speak nothing to wrong doings, fixing and scams after scams. And of course, for him, “cash for vote” never happened to save his regime in summer of 2008.
If someone got an opportunity and dared to ask him pointed questions on scams he would conveniently blame it all on pulls and pressures of a coalition. If all round public pressure was built, CAG slammed for Commonwealth, 2G, Coalgate and so on when the responsibility of wrongdoing would land at his doorstep he would seek shelter in an Urdu couplet, “Hazaaron jawabon se acchi hai meri khamoshi, na jaane kitne sawaalon ka aabru rakhe.” (My silence that is better than a thousand answers, for I kept dignity of end number of questions). He thus remains a devta (God), for his past and present followers ever willing forgiveness even for all kinds of sinners.
It is interesting to note that the person who was condemned while in office for happily presiding over biggest loot and policy paralysis in Independent India and was thrown out of office by people in 2014 with humiliating numbers, only 44 Lok Sabha MPs has suddenly been rediscovered by a section of people as a virtuous economist, able administrator, astute politician and a prolific public platform speaker. It should be left to individual judgment to conclude why Singh is now being looked as an angel to a certain section of people and politicians.
A prime minister by chance, Singh will always be judged by history as the one who owed more allegiance to his political boss in 10 Janpath. He rather chose to turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to the happenings around him during his tenure in office both in UPA 1 and UPA 2.
So when leader after leader from Congress benches, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Satyavrat Chaturvedi with supportive voices from other friends in opposition, Sharad Yadav, Naresh Agrawal, Derek O’Brien, Sitaram Yechuri were thundering in Rajya Sabha that Singh wants to speak and be immediately be allowed to speak, the nation was taken by surprise. The curiosity was overpowering as to what he would speak and since so many opposition leaders were so enthusiastically rooting for him to speak, it was anticipated that the contents of his speech would be as desired by his political boss in the Congress. It is important to note what was said about him, on his survival instincts even when he was the prime minister that he “is an overrated economist and underrated politician.”
The former prime minister began with the right note: “The Prime Minister has been arguing that this is the way to curb black money, to prevent the growth of counterfeited currency notes and also to help in control of terrorist finance activities. I do not disagree with these objectives…” and then changed gear into a typical politician who only knew the art of survival.
Mark his words: “Even those who say that this measure will do harm or will cause distress in the short run, but is in the interest of the country, in the long run, I am reminded of John Keynes, who once said, ‘In the long run, we are all dead’. And therefore, it is important to take note of the grievances of the people, the ordinary people, who have suffered as a result of this imposition on the country overnight by the Prime Minister…”
Singh is essentially saying that no prime minister should take harsh decisions for heralding longer terms goods for the nation. Think of present and only present and do what can make you stick to your chair. To put it simply be a status quoist. His advice to Modi is thus: don’t think “in the long run” for he could no longer be there — be a survivor, don’t ever consider being a visionary and maker of a different world or domestic order and society.
Singh indeed was speaking from his own experience. It would be worthwhile to remind how Manmohan gulped one humiliation after another by his fellow party colleagues and most of all public condemnation by Rahul Gandhi when the Congress vice-president tore an ordinance drafted by his cabinet when Manmohan was travelling to the USA as prime minister and was about to have a summit meeting with American president. The politician in Singh took all that meekly and quietly. Despite that worst ever public humiliation he continued to hail Rahul’s leadership.
About Singh’s profound remark that “in fact (demonetisation), it is a case of organised loot and legalised plunder of the common people”, less said the better.
When Singh said “and what is more, what has been done can weaken and erode our people’s confidence in the currency system and in the banking system”, he perhaps had in mind the kind of habit many had developed during his regime and before, keeping loads of currency notes in their mattresses, bed boxes, wall cavity in car seats, doors and elsewhere.
In an article on Firstpost, R Jagannathan very well argued, “whether demonetisation and the replacement of old notes with new ones are enough to damage confidence in the banking system is questionable. One would have thought that prolonged inflationary policies through unabated money printing — which was what happened during UPA 2, when the fiscal deficit crossed 6 percent — would have done more to debase the currency than a demonetisation to replace currency notes. And just to refresh his memory, the first major bank scam happened during his watch in 1992, when Harshad Mehta actually looted bank cash to make hay in the stock markets. And as for restrictions on people drawing their own cash, any banking system can — at times — place such restrictions. Banks even now place restrictions on daily cash withdrawals from ATMs. When banks fail, then too restrictions happen.”
Singh and others in opposition ranks can be rest assured as and when Modi rises to speak in Parliament on demonetisation, he would surely respond to the charges and advice given by his predecessor.
First Published On : Nov 25, 2016 19:43 IST
Demonetisation is not just causing hardships for the common man it is also shifting the focus of the economic policy maker from the future to the near term. Finance Ministry officials are reacting almost every day to address the demonetisation challenges. In the process, they may be losing the plot on economy front.
As I had pointed out on 20 November column it is the RBI that should be responding to these issues. While the RBI governor continue to be unavailable to address concerns of not just the citizens but also investors, mandarins at finance ministry continue to douse daily fires. The challenge will get tougher by the day for that the financial budget is scheduled on 1 February, 2017. The Budget date has also been advanced as the country is trying to synchronise financial year with the calendar year.
The challenge is that in the short-term demonetisation is likely to have an impact on spending, trade, tourism, logistics, real estate. This needs to be addressed immediately and the government shouldn’t wait till budget to fix the problem. Technically the process of demonetisation is expected to get over by 31 December this year. The impact of it on some sectors like real estate, gold and tourism will continue in the January-March quarter as well. Therefore, at the least two crucial quarters of the year will surely get adversely affected by demonetisation if necessary steps are not taken immediately.
Some short-term measures have to be announced to accelerate spending and boost the sectors that have witnessed irreparable damage. These measures can’t wait till the budget as any delay will lead to further damage. For instance, secondary market deals in the real estate sector have crashed in last fortnight, especially after the demonetisation move. The unorgainsed segment of the sector will be hit hard as experts believe the sector generates black money vitually in every transaction. The black component in old currency notes has led to the collapse of transactions. It may recover but the impact on real estate prices is real, which is good by itself as it makes housing affordable. But deals may still not happen due to high circle rates. As the prices come down circle rates have to adjust downwards for these deals to happen. This is something only the state government can do if it wants to bring back the liquidity in the real estate market.
The central government can tinker at the most with some FDI norms. What it can do is provide for a higher income tax exemption on home loan payment to push the retail market to borrow and buy homes. But this subsidy can only come in the budget, or can it be announced now and made actionable in the budget. Such steps will help in bringing back the momentum in growth that has been lost due to poor implementation of demonetisation. As an announcement has the ability to boost sentiment.
Informal, unorganised or the MSME sector, which is the largest employer in the country, too, has been hit by demonetisation. The impact on their business has been due to the loss of liquidity or squeeze in spending in the supply chain, which means the issue is more complex for a single step that could help it directly. Consumer behavior after demonetisation indicates that people have curtailed discretionary spending to save cash. This is a serious issue because the huge of black money in the sytem in the past majorly contributed towrards the high item sales. High value items that used to be bought with unaccounted money has also vanished. To replace unaccounted money spend and discretionary spend, the government will have to take measures in the short term and not leave it till the budget.
This is one more reason for the mandarin to step out of the line of fire on demonetisation and focus on these immediate short-term measures. It is one reason too many for the RBI Governor to start responding to implementation issues. The former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh criticised the government on implementation but also polarised the issue with his statement on plunder and legalised loot. His estimate of a drop of 2 percent in GDP also seems to be strange, especially, without any explanation on how he arrived at this magic figure.
But the impact of demonetisation on the economy is real in the short term as I have pointed in the past. Therefore, it is important that officials think of some immediate steps. Any delay because of being mired in solving implementation failures is going to have a much bigger impact on the real economy.
The writer is a policy commentator based in New Delhi. He tweets @yatishrajawat
First Published On : Nov 25, 2016 17:12 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress ally DMK backed former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for his criticism on the way the BJP government has implemented demonetization and charged Prime Minister Narendra Modi with ignoring the people by not responding to Singh’s queries on the matter. DMK Treasurer and Tamil Nadu Opposition Leader MK Stalin said the Centre was coming up with all kinds of announcements “as if they are giving sops” to people ever since the Rs 1,000 and old Rs 500 currency ceased to be legal tenders. “Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh put it beautifully when he called it (the way demonetization was being implemented) a monumental management failure,” he said, referring to the former’s criticism of the government in the Rajya Sabha yesterday.By making such a statement, Singh had expressed his ‘anguish,’ on the matter, Stalin told reporters here. “Modi ignoring Manmohan Singh shows the extent to which the Prime Minister ignores people,” he said when asked for his views on the matter.To a question on the bull taming sport of jallikattu, Stalin said DMK would hold a massive protest demanding it be allowed next year, if the Central and state governments did not pursue the matter. The Supreme Court had recently upheld its ban against holding Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu, coinciding with the harvest festival of Pongal in January.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after Opposition parties launched a scathing attack on the Prime Minister in the Rajya Sabha over demonetization, Narendra Modi on Friday defended the move and said that citizens were the soldiers against corruption and black money.Speaking at a programme on Friday in the run-up to Constitution Day, Modi said, “The common citizen of India has become a soldier against corruption and black money. Every person has a right to spend his or her money. No one can take anyone’s money. Now people can spend through mobile technology also.”Lashing out at the Opposition, the Prime Minister said that those accusing the government of not being prepared for demonetization were themselves not ready for the move. “If they had got even 72 hours, they would have praised me. We have taken a very big decision.”He also said that India was often ranked low in global rankings on corruption. “We need to improve it,” he said.Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday ripped apart the demonetization move, calling it a “case of organised loot and legalised plunder” and “a monumental failure” as a brief thaw marked the government-Opposition stand off.An economist himself, Singh delivered a speech that was heard in rapt attention and received with repeated thumping of desks by those in the Opposition.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking a dig at the opposition who have decided to launch ‘Aakrosh’ (anguish) Day over the demonetization issue, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday said people are only happy about the government’s decision and it is the few opposition parties who are ‘Aakrosh’ about the decision.Launching a scathing attack on the Congress after former prime minister Manmohan Singh termed the demonetization issue to be a blunder, Jaitley said that it was ironical of the previous government to consider it a blunder since it was under then that the black money transactions had become glaring and rampant.‘We were not surprised when we heard from those who ran the government between 2004 and 2014 that they didn’t like these anti-black money steps. The maximum black money was generated in the country between 2004 and 2014. Commonwealth Games scandal, the 2G corruption scandal, the coal block scandal all took place during this period,’ he said.‘Those who didn’t consider these scandals to be a blunder are now considering this campaign against corruption and black money to be a blunder,’ he added.Jaitley said that instead of engaging with the government in a debate over demonetization, the Congress is ‘manufacturing reasons’ to run away from the debate.Responding to Dr. Singh claims that the demonetization will weaken the Indian economy and adversely impact the GDP of the country, Jaitley said, ‘‘as far as the medium and long term impact on the economy is concerned, including on India’s GDP, it is going to be a positive impact. Lot of money that operates in the shadow economy will now be a part of banking structure. The banks will have a lot more to support the economy. The private sector investment which was so far lacking will now be back into the economy.’He said that the banks which were hitherto struggling because of the NPA problem would have a lot more money to lend for agriculture, infrastructure, social sector and the possibility of banks lending at lower cost would also rise.‘Additionally, when more and more transactions comes into the banking network in the long run, you will find taxation, both direct and indirect, improving therefore in the medium and long term, it will have a positive impact,’ he said.Stepping up the opposition tirade against demonetization, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today castigated the government and the Prime Minister over the move, saying its implementation was a “monumental management failure” and a case of “organised loot and legalised plunder.” Singh, who spoke in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Rajya Sabha, said the decision will result in decline of GDP by 2 per cent, it being an “under-estimate”. He hoped the Prime Minister will find a practical and pragmatic decision to mitigate the sufferings of the common man and the poor who have been in distress after the decision. He said agriculture, unorganised sectors and small industry has also been hit hard by it and people were losing faith in the currency and banking system. “These measures convinced me that the way the scheme has been implemented, it’s a monumental management failure. And in fact, it is a case of organised loot and legalised plunder. “It is not my intention to pick holes what this side or other side does. But I sincerely hope that the PM even in this late hour will help find us practical and pragmatic ways to provide relief to the suffering of the people of this country,” he said in Rajya Sabha as the debate on the issue resumed after Modi came into the House.Earlier, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad requested Chairman Hamid Ansari and Leader of the House Arun Jaitley that the Question Hour should not be taken up as the Prime Minister was present in the House and the debate be taken up.Azad’s request was readily accepted by the government with Jaitley saying that the debate should start immediately and Modi will certainly participate in it.Participating in the resumed debate, Singh said it is important to take note of the grievances of the ordinary people who have suffered as a result of this imposition on the country “overnight” by the Prime Minister.”My own feeling is that the national income, that is the GDP of the country, can decline by about 2 percentage points as a result of what has been done. This is an under-estimate and not an over-estimate.”Therefore, I feel the Prime Minister must come with some constructive proposal on how we can implement the scheme and at the same time prevent the distrust that has been caused to the common people,” Singh said. The former Prime Minister did not agree with the Prime Minister’s plea to wait for 50 days for the results of demonetization to come about, saying no one knows about the final outcome of the decision.”Well 50 days is a short period, but for those who are poor and deprived sections of the community even 50 days of torture can bring about disastrous effect. And that’s why about 60 to 65 people have lost their lives. Maybe more.”What is more is, what has been done can weaken and erode our people’s confidence in the currency system and in the banking system,” he said.Asking Modi to spell out the names of countries where people have deposited their money in banks but are not allowed to withdraw their money, he said, “this alone I think is enough to condemn what has been done in the name of greater growth.”He said the scheme of demonetization, the way it is being implemented, will hurt agricultural growth in our country, small industry and all those people who work in the informal sectors of the economy. Singh, an eminent economist, criticised the government for issuing fresh instructions and modifying the rules every day on the conditions under which people can withdraw their money.”That reflects very poorly on the Prime Minister’s Office, the Finance Minister’s office and on the Reserve Bank of India. I am very sorry that the Reserve Bank has been exposed to this kind of criticism which I think is fully justified,” the former Prime Minister said. He said though he agreed with the objectives of the scheme to demonetise currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 as spelt out by the Prime Minister, he wished to highlight the problems that the common people and poor have been subjected to by the move.”But I do want to point out at least that in the process of demonetization monumental mismanagement has been undertaken about which today there is no two opinions in the country as a whole,” he said.Referring to those saying that the move which was doing harm and creating distrust in the short run was good in the long run, Singh quoted John Maynard Keynes to say that “in the long run, all of us are dead”.”I urge upon the Prime Minister to find practical, pragmatic ways and measures to relieve the distress of the people, who happen to be a great majority of our people. After all 90 per cent of our people were in the informal sector, 55 per cent of our workers in agriculture are feeling distress,” he said.He also noted that the cooperative banking system which served large number of people in rural areas was non-functional and has been prevented from handling cash.The senior Congress leader said though it is not his intention to pick holes in what this side or other side does, but hoped that the Prime Minister “even in this late hour will help find us practical and pragmatic ways to provide relief to the suffering of the people of this country”. With inputs from agencies
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Attacking the Modi government, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday called the implementation of demonetization as ‘monumental management failure’ and urged the Prime Minister to find a practical and pragmatic solution to give relief to the common man.”We don’t disagree with the objective of fighting graft but it was a monumental management failure the way it was done,” Singh said after Rajya Sabha resumed debate on demonetisation in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s presence.”It is important to take note of the grievances of the people suffering. 60 to 65 people have lost their lives, what has been done can weaken our people’s confidence in currency and banking system,” he added.Stating that the PM had asked people to wait for 50 days but for the poor section even 50 days can be detrimental, he said. adding, “I want to ask PM, can he name any country where people have deposited their money but are not able to withdraw it?”The former prime minister also said that the way demonetization was implemented would hurt agriculture, small businesses and informal sector and that the GDP would see a decline of at least 2.5%.Taking on RBI for every day modification of rules, Singh said, “It is not good that every day the banking system comes out with modification. The cooperative banking sector which is serving large number in the rural sector is not operational. PM must come with some constructive proposal on how we can implement the scheme.”Earlier in the day, opposition parties decided not to hold talks with the government over demonetization till November 28 when they will mark the ‘Aakrosh Diwas’.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi visited several ATMs in the national capital this morning where he interacted with people standing in long queues to withdraw new currency.Before heading to Parliament, Gandhi visited ATMs in several areas including Anand Parbat, Zakhira, Inderlok and Jahangirpuri where he enquired from people about the difficulties being faced by them following the Centre’s decision to withdraw Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes.However, this was not Gandhi’s first visit to an ATM after the big announcement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8.He had landed up at Parliament Street branch of State Bank of India here on November 11 and stood in the queue with the people there to exchange demonetised currency notes with new ones.Last week as well he had made an unscheduled brief stop at an ATM in suburban Vakola in Mumbai and interacted with the people standing in a queue.Gandhi who has been critical of the demonetization move had launched a scathing attack on the Prime Minister saying he was “laughing” while people were dying in queues outside banks and ATMs to withdraw money and the move will turn out to be a “big scam”.He had also claimed that many economists including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had found the decision to withdraw the high-value tenders to be without rationale and the government did not seem to be going after the “big players” in black money like Vijay Mallya and Lalit Modi.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the nation in paying tributes to country’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on his 127th birth anniversary on Monday.”Tributes to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on his birth anniversary,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet.Besides Mukherjee and Vice President Hamid Ansari, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress vice President Rahul Gandhi and Delhi’s former chief minister Sheila Dikshit paid floral tributes to Nehru at his memorial ‘Shanti Van’ here.At the end of the ceremony, the dignitaries released tricolour balloons in the air amid playing of bands and patriotic songs by school children.Nehru was born to Motilal Nehru and Swaroop Rani on November 14, 1889, in Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh and his birthday is celebrated as Children’s Day in the country as he was fond of children. He remained in office until his death in 1964.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>When the Army Chief Dalbir Singh, Navy Chief Sunil Lanba and the Indian Air Force Vice Chief B. S. Dhanoa arrived to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his office around 2 pm on Tuesday, they had expected to receive orders to launch a punitive action against Pakistan. But the meeting, where National Security Advisor Ajit Doval was also present, turned into a routine one with the PM asking for a briefing on the situation along the LoC, international border (IB) and the preparedness of the Armed Forces amid ceasefire violations after the surgical strikes in September.Their apprehensions were not unfounded. For many days now, top officials from the finance ministry and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had been quarantined in a highly secretive portion of South Block, the seat of the defence ministry, away from the prying eyes of outsiders and journalists. Rumours were flying fast that these officials at this secret place were on a mission assessing and analysing the costs of strikes against Pakistan.Top sources here told DNA that the idea to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes had originated last June, when a report from the financial intelligence service concluded that the government’s scheme running till September 30, to unearth black money, would yield a paltry Rs 3,000 to Rs 4,000 crore. This is when an old proposal submitted by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (DoBT) to then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in 2012 was taken out of the shelves, dusted and read. Taking note of these proposals, Prime Minister Narendra Modi acted on them.Such a dramatic address, as the Prime Minister made to the nation on Tuesday, should have not come as a surprise. Earlier too, the PM had made his intentions clear in a televised interview to a leading channel in September. He had said then: “No one should blame me if I take tough decisions after the 30th (of September). This money belongs to the country’s poor. No one has the right to loot this. This is my commitment. I am working with full force and will continue the effort (to act on black money),” he said.The planning for this ‘strike’ against black money was kept a well guarded secret. Even the PM’s cabinet ministers and other officials in the Finance Ministry were kept completely in the dark and were only informed of the plan shortly before Tuesday’s address. But they were not allowed to leave the room, where the cabinet meeting had been held, till the prime minister had finished his address.In the run-up to the PM’s declaration, the concerned officers were asked to prepare notes themselves, instead of depending on juniors, to avoid any leak of sensitive information. It is believed that the PM, while calling on President Pranab Mukherjee on October 1— to brief him about surgical strikes across the LoC— had broached the subject and asked for his guidance.It is not known what the President said to the PM but one can suspect he was enthusiastic about the idea. In fact, Mukherjee, as a finance minister in the UPA government, had taken this proposal to then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who, after a series of meetings, had shot it down.Senior Congress leader and former finance minister P. Chidambaram, who had succeeded Mukherjee admitted on Wednesday that such suggestions had come to the UPA government. “Yes, from time to time, suggestions were given on high denomination notes but it was then felt that perhaps the economic gains from this would not be so great,” he said. An acclaimed economist himself, former PM Manmohan Singh perhaps felt that the inconvenience caused to the common man would outweigh the economic gains.Sources from within the Congress party said, it was then felt that the economic activity would contract further in the country which was already under a spell of low growth.Once the quarantined officials reported on Tuesday morning that they had placed things in order, the notification was printed in the basement of the finance ministry in North Block— the same press where Union Budget is printed. In fact, in the preparation and printing of the Union Budget, around 100 officials remain locked up in North Block office till the Budget has been presented.But while the Congress may have considered this proposal while it was in government, it was certainly opposing them now. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi said in his tweets, the move was creating utter chaos for the common man.In one tweet he said. “Once again MrModi shows hw little he cares abt ordinary ppl of this country-farmers, small shopkeepers,housewives-all thrown into utter chaos.”At a press conference on Wednesday, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram stressed that the timing of the decision was wrong, particularly when it came just ahead of the month long marriage season across the country from November 15. Chidambaram said, “The introduction of new series of notes is estimated to cost between Rs 15,000-20,000 crore and hence the economic gains of demonetisation should be at least equal to that amount.”The former Finance Minister also pointed out that he hoped the decision would not meet the fate of another move introduced in 1978 by the then Janata government. The government had then removed high denomination notes —Rs 1,000, Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000— but this had failed to achieve its objective, as these notes were re-introduced shortly afterwards and the volume of unaccounted wealth and income was believed to have increased.On the other side, the BJP is hailing Prime Minister Modi for his “master stroke” in removing black money. However senior BJP leaders told DNA privately that they were worried over the decision and its possible fallout on the upcoming Assembly elections. These leaders said they hoped that the PM’s decision would not create panic, particularly in villages where the banking system is in its infancy and cash is much required. It remain to be seen how such people adjust to life with the new currency notes and how this move will impact the PM’s image, in the months to come.
With a section of the retired military personnel attacking the Modi government over pension anomalies vis a vis their civilian counterparts (this has seen the unfortunate incident of an alleged suicide by a retired soldier in Haryana) and with politicians starting to use them as weapons against their opponents, the issue of One Rank One Pension (Orop) is proving to be quite ominous from the point of view of the overall civilian-military relationship in the country. And this is an irony as the history of the Orop agitation suggests that the Modi government has been the most sympathetic to over 20 lakh ex-servicemen (ESM) and about six lakh war widows.
Of course, as defence minister Manohar Parrikar has told The Indian Express, the Orop process will take two more months to be fully completed. “Within 18 months, we resolved the 43-year-old OROP issue to high satisfaction levels, and all pending issues will be resolved shortly,” he said, adding, “Most of the pending issues have been inherited by this government. Barring the disability pension, most other issues have their origin in the Sixth Pay Commission, which we are committed to resolve. It is inappropriate to allow vested interest groups to deliberately build a narrative that is factually baseless and devoid of merit.”
And it seems the majority of the ESM community is satisfied with the Orop scheme announced by the Modi government, if one goes by a report of The Times of India. In fact, in his address on Thursday to Army veterans in Budgam, Jammu and Kashmir, Parrikar said, “Only one lakh ex-servicemen are not getting pensions as per the Orop scheme due to some technical difficulty or documentation problems. We will resolve them in the coming two months.”
It may be noted that the Modi government officially notified on 7 November, 2015 the implementation of the Orop scheme – equal pension for equal number of years in the service in the same rank. Orop was to be implemented with effect from 1 July, 2014, fixed on the basis of the calendar year 2013, though the veterans wanted the year to be 2014. Arrears will be paid in four half-yearly instalments, but all widows, including war widows, would be paid arrears in one instalment. The pension has been re-fixed for all pensioners as the average of minimum and maximum pension in 2013. Those drawing pensions above the average will be protected.
The annual expenditure on the Orop scheme has been estimated at around Rs 7, 500 crore. The arrears from 1 July, 2014 — the date of implementation as announced by the government — till 31 December, 2015, will be approximately Rs 10,900 crore. This has pushed the defence budget for pensions from Rs 54, 000 crore to around Rs 65, 000 crore. This is an increase of about 20 percent of the defence pension outlay.
Under the Orop scheme, the gap between the rate of pension of current pensioners and past pensioners will be bridged every 5 years. Although the veterans have been demanding equalisation of pension every year, the government went for a compromise of every five years, as against the present system of pay revisions for all the government servants every 10th year. It is said that this compromise is not for the monetary implications (which will not be much) but for administrative difficulties. Revising every year will prove very cumbersome and complicated.
However, the government’s Orop measures have failed to satisfy a section of the veterans, who are increasingly politicising what was once a genuine agitation by hobnobbing with opposition leaders like Derek O’Brian, Rahul Gandhi, Capt Amarinder Singh, Brinda Karat and Arvind Kejriwal. This is rather strange since the differences between the notification and demands are very minor. And here too, the government is open to rectify anomalies, if any, arising out of implementation of Orop, through a Judicial Committee, which, headed by a Supreme Court judge.
It may be noted that the veterans were receiving Orop until 1971, the year when the Indira Gandhi government cut down military pension from 70 percent of the last pay drawn to 50 percent of the last pay drawn and increased – simultaneously – the pension of the civil servants from 30 percent of the last pay to 50 percent. Since then, it has so happened that every central government has downgraded the military in pay, perks and status, compared to the civilian bureaucrats. One such principle has been the “non-functional upgradation” (NFU) for the bureaucracy. The NFU means that when an Indian Administrative Service or Indian Foreign Service officer (the topmost civil service in the country) is promoted to a certain rank (say joint secretary), all his or her batch mates from Group ‘A’ central services automatically start drawing the pay scale of joint secretary two years after his or her promotion. This continues all the way up the line.
The same does not apply to the military, which is a highly pyramidal structure, with 60 percent retiring by 40 years of age, another 20 percent retiring at the age of 54, 19 per cent retiring at the age of 60 and one percent (those who become Chiefs of their respective services) getting additional two years. In contrast, 99.9 percent civilian bureaucrats retire at the age of 60 only.
Of course, it is a huge myth that the Orop did not exist at all in our armed forces and that Orop existed for all civilians.
The Orop was there for all those, whether in civil service or in the military, who reached their super-time scales (the basic of Rs 80000 per month and above). The secretary rank in civil service, Lt Generals and their equivalents in commander ranks in the military do get the Orop after their retirement. But then, given the fact that most in the military retire much earlier than 60 years of age, the Orop demand was very much legitimate, particularly when it was abruptly ended by the then Congress government, that too after the military gave the country a splendid victory in the 1971 war. Since then, the veterans have been fighting for this injustice to be rectified.
When defence minister Manohar Parrikar announced the Orop scheme on 5 September, 2015, there was a little confusion over whether personnel who retire voluntarily will be covered under the Orop scheme. But subsequently, both the prime minister and defence minister clarified separately that everyone who retires early (because of injury, illness, lack of further promotions or family compulsion after serving the mandatory tenure – 15 years for Jawans, 20 years for officers) will get benefit of Orop.
Yes, there are still some little irritants, which the constituted judicial committee will look into. If still dissatisfied, the veterans can always to go higher courts. But these are not the issues over which one can continue to issue threats to the government and politicise the movement. All told, it is the Modi government that implemented its poll promise within 15 months of coming into office of implementing the Orop, something the agitators have not appreciated enough. Here, one may quote Independent Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar, a parliamentarian who has been at the forefront for the Orop demand, the day the government announced the OROP scheme.
According to him, “The announcement of One Rank, One Pension (Orop) by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar is the culmination of 40 years of wait by the Veterans and Widows. It is our country’s thanksgiving to them for decades of service and sacrifice. This decision makes Orop the biggest and most significant welfare measure for veterans in Post-Independent India by any Government and for that I thank Prime Minister Modi, Defence Minister Parrikar and Finance Minister Jaitley and the Government for the fulfilling this important promise. For me personally, today’s announcement marks 9 years of struggle and perseverance on Orop — starting with the dark days of proud veterans giving up their medals in 2006. Orop was one of the first issues I took up after I joined active politics—and expectedly today is a big day for me personally and for my time in public service. Apart from raising it repeatedly in Parliament and media to the point that I was even called ‘Orop Rajeev’ by many political leaders. I have also had the honour of sitting with veterans in many protests in Bengaluru and Delhi, including at Jantar Mantar.”
Take another gentleman, Bhagat Singh Koshyari, former Uttarakhand chief minister. The very definition of the Orop was devised by a parliamentary committee that was headed by him in 2011. And what does he say about the ongoing agitation? “Maybe some in the agitation are thinking just because the government is listening to them, they should squeeze out as much as possible. Greed may be playing a part. I can’t rule out that there may be political motivations to this issue as well.” He wonders how one did not see any protests against a party that ruled for six decades almost but the protesters upped the ante when the Modi government was barely a year old.
It is worth seeing the record of the Manmohan Singh government with regard to the issue of Orop. Based on the Koshyari Committee’s report, the government arrived at a figure of Rs 1300 crore required to pay the arrears for Orop in 2011-12. In 2013-14, the government enhanced the amount to Rs 1573 crore. P Chidambaram, the then finance minister, in his interim budget speech on 17 February 2014, granted a measly Rs 500 crore (based on the estimate of Rs 1573 crore) for the year 2014-15.
It is obvious that the UPA government made a half-hearted attempt to woo the veterans, that too just on the eve of the 2014 elections. Otherwise, how can one explain the Manmohan Singh government’s calculation that the Orop would cost between Rs 1,000 to 1600 crore? Therefore, it is sheer dishonesty when Congress leaders like Rahul Gandhi and AK Antony say that it is “we who accepted the principle of Orop and NDA is only implementing it.”
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Criticising Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi for making the One Rank, One Pension (OROP) scheme a subject to ‘partisan politics’, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has asked the former to check his facts while questioning on the implementation of the scheme. “We would like to say that Rahul Gandhi needs to do his homework rather well. But the fundamental issue is he should not make the welfare of armed forces a partisan issue,” Prasad said.The Law minister asserted that OROP has been given by the Narendra Modi government amounting to more than Rs 10,000 crores while adding that the whole architecture is now in place for similar slab rate of pension which is in tune with the recommendations of the seventh pay commission. “The government has referred to anomaly committee and no decision has been taken,” Prasad added.Responding to the Rahul’s charge accusing the government of downgrading the status of military officers with regards to their civilian counterparts, Prasad said , “Since 1998-99 including the Manmohan Singh government, no new policy decision has been taken to change it, therefore I would urge Rahul Gandhi that at least please don’t do partisan politics on Armed force issues. Addressing a letter to Prime Minister Modi, Rahul Gandhi asserted that decisions taken over the last few weeks by the government have adversely affect the morale of the armed forces, adding that it was the government’s duty to show the soldiers, who risk their lives each day to defend the nation, that they are cared for.”Just days after our soldiers conducted the surgical strikes, the disability pension system was converted to a new slab system, that in many instances drastically reduces the pension received by these brave men in case of a disability. The roll out of the 7th Pay Commission continues to keep our defence forces at a disadvantage and further exacerbates the disparity between them and civil employees,” the letter read.Further accusing the government of downgrading the status of military officers vis a vis their civilian counterparts in a letter dated 18th October 2016, Rahul stated that the OROP implemented by the government, does not fully meet the genuine demands of the ex-servicemen and they have been forced to come out on the streets to make their voice heard on this vital issue. “As a responsible democracy we must make sure that the brave soldiers who put their lives on the line for each one of us, feel the love, support and gratitude of 125 crore people. I therefore urge you Prime Minister to ensure that our soldiers get their due whether it is regarding compensation, disability pension, or parity with civil employees,” he said.The Congress vice president also emphasised that the anomalies in the 7th Pay Commission must be addressed at the earliest, as soldiers should not have to struggle to claim what is surely due to them on behalf of a grateful nation.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday asserted that religion cannot dictate upon the rights of an individual and attacked Congress over its stand on the Uniform Civil Code, saying it was the Constituent Assembly controlled by the party that had envisaged a common civil law for all Indians.”The Constitution today guarantees each individual right to equality, right to live with dignity. Therefore as far as personal laws are concerned I am one of those who believe that set of rights that personal law has… will have to be regulated by the Constitution.”Personal law cannot practise, propagate discrimination; cannot allow a compromise with human dignity. Personal law and practises can certainly deal with religion, can dictate upon rituals. The religion cannot dictate upon rights of individuals,” the Finance Minister said.The government’s affidavit on triple talaq is a secular approach, an approach that cuts upon religion, he said.He rejected the criticism of the government by various Muslim bodies, saying personal laws have been amended by the various governments and cited the amendment brought in by the first NDA government in divorce laws governing Christians. The Church fully supported it, he said.The Manmohan Singh government had also brought changes in Hindu Succession Act to bring the woman at par with the man in inheritance, Jaitley told Times Now.Taking a dig at Congress, he said he was “amazed” at its stand as he recalled that the likes of Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel, who belonged to the party, had envisaged an Uniform Civil Code.He added that the Law Commission, which has sought views of various stake holders on the UCC, is carrying out an academic exercise following a judicial order and it was not the government’s decision.
Washington: The real threats to India are “internal” and emanate from communal and social violence, not from outside forces such as Pakistan or China, former national security advisor Shivshankar Menon has said.
Asked if Pakistan or China pose an existential threat to India, Menon said: “No”.
“In terms of national security, I think the real threats are internal,” he told PTI.
“There’s no existential threat to India’s existence today externally, unlike in the 50s or when we were formed. And for many years till late 60s there were actual internal separatist threats, not any more. I think that we have actual dealt with,” Menon said.
His long career in public service spans diplomacy, national security, and India’s relations with its neighbours and major global powers. Menon served as national security advisor to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh from January 2010 to May 2014.
Menon’s first book post retirement Choices: Inside the making of India’s Foreign Policy is all set to hit book stores globally next week.
Asked to elaborate on what he meant by internal threats, he said: “If there are real threats to India, to the idea of India, India’s integrity, today they actually come from within the country.”
“If you look at violence in India, deaths from terrorism, from left wing extremism, declined steadily throughout this 21st century until 2014-2015. Even now the basic trend for terrorism, left wing extremism is down. What has increased is since 2012, communal violence, social violence, internal violence has increase. That is something we need to find a way in dealing with,” Menon said.
“This is not a traditional law and order problem, which our traditional instruments, the police, the states know how to deal with. You look at violence against women, communal, caste violence, if you look at those firms of violence, these are all a result of tremendous social and economic change of uprooting of population, urbanization… various forms of change, which we still need to learn how to deal with,” he said.
Menon said those are the threats, which in the long run, has a “potential to make real difference”.
“India has changed. It is normal. It happens to most societies where there is change. But you also have to learn new ways of dealing with,” he said and attributed the new threats to the rapid and fast development of the country.
When asked that some people attributed this to the BJP coming to power, Menon said even that is a consequence of the change that the Indian society is undergoing now.
Menon previously served as India’s foreign secretary from 2006 to 2009 and as ambassador and high commissioner to Israel from 1995-1997, Sri Lanka (1997-2000), China (2000-2003) and Pakistan (2003-2006).
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Prime Minister of India is on duty all the time, the PMO has said, adding no leave records of former prime ministers are available with it. The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said this when an RTI applicant sought a copy of leave rules and procedures for the Prime Minister of the country from it and the Cabinet Secretariat.”The Prime Minister can be said to be on duty all the time,” the Right to Information (RTI) response from the PMO said.The applicant also wanted to know if former prime ministers Manmohan Singh, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, H D Deve Gowda, I K Gujral, P V Narasimha Rao, Chandrashekhar, V P Singh and Rajiv Gandhi had availed any leave and were there any records.”Information regarding leave record of previous Prime Ministers is not a part of records held by this office. However, it may be noted that no leave has been availed by present Prime Minister i.e Shri Narendra Modi since taking over charge,” the RTI response said.A similar RTI application was also filed by the RTI applicant to other authorities like Cabinet Secretariat to ascertain if they have any information about leave of former prime ministers and rules regarding this for the Head of the government.But there was no response and the application was transferred to Home Ministry which further sent it to the PMO which said it does not have any information about leave records of former prime ministers.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Asserting that the recent surgical strike by the Indian Army in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) was not the first mission ever, as several of its kind was undertaken during the UPA regime, the Congress on Sunday took a swing at Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying that his predecessor, Manmohan Singh never ‘publicised’ such operations. Speaking to ANI Congress leader Rajiv Shukla re-iterated former army chief, General Bikram Singh’s statement that such strikes have taken place before as well.’Such operations have been carried out before, even during the time of Manmohan Singh ji but he never publicised it and kept beating the drum about it. The Army kept doing its job and neutralising terrorists.Former Army chief, Gen Bikram Singh came on record earlier to say that such strikes by Indian soldiers have taken place in the past as well, including in the wake of the decapitation of two Indian soldiers in January 2013 when Manmohan Singh’s UPA was in power. Earlier, Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi on Friday praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a day after the Indian Army conducted surgical strikes across the Line of control (LoC).”I want to thank him (PM Modi) that for the first time in two and half years he has taken an action that is of the stature of PM,” said Rahul addressing a rally in Bulandshahar. “Modi has my full support; the Congress party and entire nation is standing by him,” he added.”All of us stand firmly united against terrorism and those who support and sponsor it. The Congress party and I salute the Indian Army and our jawans for acting valiantly to defend our country and our people,” Rahul had said on Thursday.Adding that India had also shared details of the surgical strikes with Pakistan Army and expected them to cooperate in the fight against terror, he said, “The motive of this operation was to hit out at the terrorists who were planning to infiltrate into our territory.”Pakistan has, however, denied the strikes took place, with PM Nawaz Sharif saying, “The notion of surgical strike linked to alleged terrorists bases is an illusion being deliberately generated by Indian to create false effects.”
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Pranab Mukherjee paid tribute the Mahatma Gandhi on the occasion of his birth anniversary early Sunday morning. They were at Rajghat along with several top party leaders to pay respects to the father of the nation.In his message to the nation on Saturday evening, Mukherjee said, “Gandhiji’s ideals of non-violence, freedom, equality and religious tolerance have eternal value.”Gandhiji taught us the value of harmonious co-existence and mutual respect. He displayed a rare constellation of abilities and showed how individuals can advance social and political change. He had an exemplary passion for justice and an indefatigable spirit of service to mankind.”Prime Minister Modi had said cleanliness and sanitation were very close to the heart of Mahatma Gandhi and it was the social responsibility of every citizen to help fulfill Gandhiji’s vision of Clean India.Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, Vice President Hamid Ansari, BJP leaders LK Advani, M Venkaiah Naidu, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also paid their respects at Rajghat.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after the strikes across the Line of Control, it was business as usual at Raisina Hill. A calm-looking Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a 20-minute speech in which he narrated anecdotes and made suggestions on cleanliness, waste management and building toilets, but was silent on the surgical strikes carried out just a little over 24 hours earlier.The message—action needs no words—was palpable and had percolated to his council of ministers and the BJP.The leadership has conveyed to the ministers and the party that they should exercise restraint from making chest-thumping statements about the strikes. Finance minister Arun Jaitley and BJP president Amit Shah are understood to have asked the party leaders on Thursday evening to speak cautiously, at a time when the government wanted to avoid further escalating tension. There was concern about sleeper cells becoming active and possible retaliation, sources said.Besides, any extreme reaction from the government or party leaders could raise expectations of the people, sources said. The surgical strikes have completed Modi’s cycle of offensive strategy which began with isolating Pakistan at the global stage, moving to the economic steps by reviewing the Indus water treaty and then seeking to review the MFN status.Only the Army and its operational wing have been authorised to speak to media, according to sources, at the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) meeting on Thursday itself, DGMO Lt Gen Ranbir Singh, was asked to address the media and not any minister. Sources said, the PM has drawn up a strategy to be adopted, where the operations get the backing of all the people, irrespective of political affiliations.Modi did not want it to be confined to a party affair or raise tensions to a point that invited international attention. The Army and the ministers were told that it was a limited counter-terrorist operation and that an impression should not be created that India has launched a war. The Prime Minister, however, asked Home minister Rajnath Singh to speak to chief ministers of the border states and Jaitley to brief international fund managers to reassure them about India’s fiscal situation and tell them not to worry about FDI and investments in India. Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar will brief envoys of select countries. He was also told to brief foreign media stationed in Delhi.In an advisory, the home ministry has conveyed to the states that additional forces should be deployed in all sensitive places, strategic installations, markets, religious places and other key places to ensure security, the sources said keeping in mind the upcoming festive season.The BJP, which was basking in the government’s “befitting reply” to the Uri attack, on Friday refrained from flaunting the strikes. On the other hand, the Opposition came out in support of it.Modi had called up former Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and Deve Gowda, while foreign minister Sushma Swaraj drove down to 10, Janpath, to brief Congress President Sonia Gandhi. She was greeted by Manmohan Singh, who had gone there to receive Swaraj. Sonia, who is recovering from illness after she collapsed during her road show in Varanasi on August 2, congratulated the External Affairs Minister and the government for sending a “strong message” to Islamabad that terror would not be tolerated.At a road show in Bulandshahr on Friday, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi said “I want to thank him that in the past two-and-a-half years, this is the first action which can be termed as worthy of prime minister.”
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Indian Army’s clinical exfiltration mission carrying out surgical strikes across the LoC inflicting ‘significant damage’ to terrorists and those who protect them has shocked the world. It is not only due to the fact that it comes at a time, when most commentators assumed India will be showing strategic restraint post PM Modi’s speech, but also the manner and language with which the army decided to break the news was striking and emphatic.Indian DGMO Ranbir Singh said that he has informed the Pak DGMO about the strikes once the operation was done and clearly conveyed India’s locus standi vis-à-vis cross-border terror. It was the first time India publicly acknowledged that it had carried out a preemptive strike across the LoC. Pakistan’s reaction so far has ranged from denial, exasperation and finally baying for retribution. If one looks at what has transpired in the last couple of days, some clear points emerge:1. The threshold of tolerance has been loweredDGMO’s statement says that India attacked the terror pads inside LoC as soon as credible information was received about terrorists looking to infiltrate. It indicates that India is ready to make preemptive strikes to shield its citizens rather than waiting for the enemy to attack. Contrast it with post 26/11 response, where Manmohan government decided against any such move fearing escalation. It is certainly a brave new India trying to project a no-nonsense attitude towards terror. Can the army and the upper echelons of the political class keep this level of tolerance for strikes in the future? It may determine the course of the Indo-Pak relationship.2. Pak establishment in a fixThe response to India’s surgical strike from Pakistan is a story in itself. Initially Nawaz Sharif strongly condemned ‘unprovoked aggression’ from India. It was followed up by Pak military playing down the surgical strike story saying it was routine fire-fight at the LOC. On Friday, Sharif warned India that Pakistan can also carry out a ‘surgical strike’, which was followed up by 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed practically saying the same thing. For Pakistan, it is a double edged-sword. Acknowledging it was a surgical strike means they will be under the pressure to retaliate and risk massive escalation. On the other hand, not doing anything will give a dour message to the electorate. Modi has essentially put Sharif in a bind by using the first mover’s advantage. It is up to Pakistan now to decide how to play the geo-political game in the near future.3. PM Modi’s Pak policy – A case of leveraging a massive mandatePM Modi invited Nawaz Sharif and other SAARC leaders to his oath-taking ceremony as a goodwill measure. Last year, he took an impromptu detour while coming back from Afghanistan to wish Sharif on his birthday. When Modi did this Pak outreach – it wasn’t the case that situation was extremely conducive for bilateral talks. Yet PM did his bit knowing he had the legroom to handle a hostile reaction from his core constituency. He allowed an ISI team to visit Pathankot after the siege was over. Yet, Pakistan didn’t warm to India’s olive branch and continued to give covert and overt support to terror activities in India. Nawaz Sharif eulogising Burhan Wani in UN was the proverbial last straw that broke the camel’s broke. In one swoop, India has switched the game against Pakistan and it has been made clear that talks are off the table till they mend their ways. India’s payback to Pakistan post Uri attack is part of the same doctrine. India will like to maintain cordial relations but not at the cost national security. It is time for a more muscular policy without mere posturing. An unsure leader can’t take decisive action. Modi on the other hand, could tinker his Pak policy knowing he enjoys the support of the electorate.4. Global response to surgical attackPM Modi in his speech at Kozhikode highlighted how India will be looking to marginalise Pakistan in the international forum. The India-led pull-out has virtually scuttled the 19th SAARC summit which was scheduled to be held at Islamabad in November but has been postponed. While Pak cried foul post India’s surgical strike, most countries have either taken a cautious stance or openly supported India. Bangladesh and Afghanistan have sided with India. But the most significant endorsement has come from Russia which while calling for talks between the two hostile nations has asked Pakistan to stop sheltering terrorists in their country.US and Pak ally China have reacted in a tempered manner to the surgical strike urging both the countries to aim for de-escalation. Prima facie, India’s stance has been vindicated, the fact that a surgical strike was done to stop imminent terror strikes have received a broad acceptance in the global community. That’s a big win for Modi’s foreign policy.5. India united – A rare political unison Virtually every political party in India has supported the surgical strike and backed the government’s steps to counter Pakistan. Congress VP Rahul Gandhi, went as far as to call this the ‘first time Modi acted like the PM of India’. A back-handed compliment no doubt, but Modi will take it for now. The fact remains that with the Uri payback, PM Modi has managed to silence his critics, charm the neutrals and assuage the core base who were increasingly getting iffy with lack of action on several fronts. Modi is almost midway through his term – a time when the traditional support base of a leader starts depleting. For PM Modi the afterglow of this attack is a golden opportunity to push legislative agendas, when the nation wants its politicians to speak in one voice. It is a time for Modi to reboot his policies and look for greater consensus to implement the mandate people have entrusted him with.All in all, India has played its card right with the decisive blow. The script could have gone horribly wrong. A botched operation would have meant a huge face loss for both the army and civilian leadership. But an aspirational superpower, looking to get its seat at the high-table with other world powers can’t afford to be defensive when its sovereignty is threatened. India has just defined the new-normal to the global community.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amid apprehensions of flood waters entering into Patna town, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday said silt deposited in Ganga after the construction of Farraka Dam was responsible for spate in the river and asked the Centre to remove the dam or come out with a ‘Silt Management Policy’.”The current flood situation has been caused by siltation of river Ganga. This situation is the result of silt getting deposited in Ganga after construction of Farakka dam. The only way to remove silt from the river is to remove the dam,” Kumar told reporters after the review meeting on flood situation here. If the central government has any other option (other than removing the dam), then it should start working on it, he added.In his Independence day address too, Kumar had raised the issue saying that the depth of river Ganga had reduced following the silt deposition in the river due to construction of dam at Farakka. Stressing that Ganga has become shallow due to siltation, Kumar said “I have consistently been raising this issue for the past 10 years. I had raised the issue when Manmohan Singh was the Prime Minister and now I am raising it before the Narendra Modi government.”Due to siltation in the river, the depth of Ganga river has reduced and water spreads to the adjoining areas in the event of rise in the water level, he said. “I appeal to the Government of India to prepare a policy on silt management. The central government should consider it after taking stock of the situation…It should come out with the mechanism or wayout to prevent silt getting deposited in the river Ganga, otherwise it could prove to be a terrible situation in years to come,” Kumar said.
After attacks from Anand Sharma and Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Rahul Gandhi also jumped on the bandwagon to mock Narendra Modi over the NSG bid. The Congress scion who is on holiday wrote on Twitter: “NSG: How to lose a negotiation by Narendra Modi #FailedModiDiplomacy.”Earlier, Congress targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi over India’s failed NSG bid, calling it an “embarrassment” to the country and a “huge diplomatic letdown” by his government and questioned the “desperation” to gain membership of the elite nuclear club.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The main opposition party also demanded that the prime minister explain what went wrong, saying the government had raised “huge expectations.””The Prime Minister must explain what went wrong and what is his stand on Pakistan particularly and Pakistan’s record on nuclear non-proliferation,” former Union Minister Prithviraj Chavan told reporters at the AICC briefing.Chavan, who was Minister of State in the PMO in the Manmohan Singh government handling various charges including Atomic Energy, also sought to compare the situation in 2008 when the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group(NSG) gave India a waiver and the present failed NSG bid. “It is same NSG, same situation, same countries, and NSG gave India a waiver!” Maintaining that in 2008, nobody raised the issue of India’s NPT status and nobody put precondition about criterion, he claimed it was because of US’ support and India’s “strong diplomacy” that the country got the waiver.”We are highly disappointed by the outcome of the NSG plenary at Seoul. Government had raised huge expectations.There was last minute flurry of activity by Prime Minister himself, Foreign Minister & various delegations,” Chavan said.He said the prime minister made personal pleas to China and other countries but “what is disappointing is that out of 48 countries….anywhere between 10-16 countries have not supported India’s cause.”Chavan also said that the statement of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday that India has no objection to entry of Pakistan to NSG is “absolutely shocking”.Speaking separately, senior party spokesman Anand Sharma came down hard on the government by terming the developments at the NSG meet as an “embarrassment” to India.He said the prime minister needs to realise that diplomacy needs “depth and seriousness and not public tamasha”.”We do not know why India showed its desperation and allowed the country to be equated with Pakistan on the issue of NSG membership,” Sharma said”It’s high time that Prime Minister Narendra Modi realises that diplomacy requires gravitas, depth and seriousness. PM Modi needs to realise diplomacy needs depth not public tamasha,” he said.”The world saw the PM make a spectacle of himself and India. Now India faces embarrassment unnecessarily,” Sharma added.
It would be a “fantastic gesture” by the NDA government if it announces Bharat Ratna to P V Narasimha Rao, said Sanjaya Baru, who has been media advisor to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.”I think next week is the 95th birth anniversary of P V Narasimha Rao. It would be a fantastic gesture on the part of Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi to announce ‘Bharat Ratna’ (to Rao),” he said in reply to a query from audience during a panel discussion to mark the 25th anniversary of Rao becoming India’s Prime Minister.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Baru’s new book “1991-the year that changed India” would be released next month. Baru hailed the contributions of Rao as the Prime Minister who initiated the economic reforms in the country and steered the country in difficult times.Former CBI director K Vijayarama Rao and Rao’s grandson Subhash, a BJP leader, were the other panelists in the discussion held on Tuesday night. Contrary to the “popular perception”, Rao was elected as the Prime Minister by Congress MPs in 1991 and not nominated to the post, Baru said on the occasion.Dismissing the claims that Rao only “implemented” suggestions on the economic reforms programme, he said it was Rao who decided to implement the policies.”Various committees submitted a series of reports suggesting various policy changes. None of these policy changes were implemented during the five years when Rajiv Gandhi was Prime Minister. He had 400 MPs in Parliament… It was Narasimha Rao who decided to implement those policies,” Baru said.Subhash said a memorial for Rao is being built in New Delhi and that the governments of both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have favoured conferring ‘Bharat Ratna’ on the former Prime Minister.
A non-economist like me is highly confused.
For the past month or two, volumes of opinions and news reports – in print, digital and broadcast – articulated by a number of leading economists and financial experts have been telling ordinary citizens that they should thank their stars for living in India at a time when Raghuram Rajan is the RBI governor. Based on their analysis, I was indeed thanking my stars.
The sum and substance of their argument was that India would be doomed in case Rajan ceases to be the governor, the foreign capital will leave on a supersonic jet from India, the economy will collapse, and though India will still be called India it would look more like Afghanistan, Sudan, Ethiopia et al.
Come 4 September, no NRI will ever again believe in India. No industry and business will ever believe in India. RBI without Raghuram Rajan would be like Agra without Taj Mahal. Now was the time to curse the stars, for it looked like Rajan was leaving.
They meant to say that the highest ever inflow of foreign capital, achieved in the year in 2015-16, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been boasting about – US$ 55.46 billion as against US$ 36.04 billion during the financial year 2013-14 – was an intellectual heist.
The FDI figures were correct, they said, but the inflow was not because of the so called dynamism of Modi, or the Make in India, Digital India mantras etc, or the meetings he had with NRIs, heads of governments and nations and with business leaders across the globe. It was because, collectively and individually, the world saw Rajan as the chief of the central bank and because of the confidence he inspired in them.
So in a way, for foreign investors India was Rajan and Rajan was India, as simple as that. But didn’t we hear something like this a few decades ago, India is Indira and Indira is India, albeit in an entirely different context.
I believed the learned writers. After all, they are supposed to know about this intricate subject. They have travelled the world and have high sounding degrees from some of the best known institutions in the world or had served at fanciful positions in various governments at the Centre or been part of some research institute or the other.
It also didn’t matter that the industry, which till other day, was said to be unhappy with Rajan’s resistance to cut interest rates but suddenly they all came together to tell that Rajan was a superman, a demi-God who has taken avatar in India during the worst of times. He was as badly needed to be there at the helm in RBI as a good monsoon in the parched lands of Vidarbha.
I started wondering if it will be alright when Rajan leaves after another three years term, say with an extension till 2019, or if he is so indispensable then why not give him a special term – retirement at 75 so that in next 20-23 years he can take India on a course where nothing can ever hamper us. People would not even care to elect a prime minister or a chief minister, or who it was, for Rajan’s RBI will take economy to a path where even Saudi Kings would envy us.
I had my self-interest. I didn’t want a deluge to hit India and by consequence my family, friends acquaintance and so on, I secretly began praying for better sense to prevail on the Modi government so that it gives an extension to Rajan.
Some of us had seen and even suffered in the 2008-09 meltdown. Based on these arguments, I started worrying about those who worked in multinationals and in companies with foreign capital inflow.
If there was such a massive breakdown in the economy, then even the mightiest of Indian companies would have serious problems, for the world economy is now interconnected. A sense of insecurity was making life difficult for those who cared to read the experts.
The experts had also implied that we must thank the two great visionaries in erstwhile UPA 2 regime, the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and then Finance Minister P Chidambaram. If those two, under the able guidance of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, had not spotted and enticed a brilliant Raghuram Rajan to first accept the post of Chief Economic Advisor in 2012 and then be the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India for a three-year term beginning in first week of September 2016, then India by now would yet again have become a land of snake charmers and spices.
And yes, a few days ago Chidambaram had said that, “Modi government didn’t deserve Raghuram Rajan”. Rahul Gandhi expressed gratitude to him through a tweet, “Thank you Dr Rajan for steering the economy in difficult times. People like you make India great”, while lamenting in another tweet that Modi didn’t need experts like him. In September last year, Rajan on his part had the most awe inspiring statement, “My name is Raghuram Rajan and I do what I do.”
I quietly thanked Manmohan Singh, Chidambaram and Sonia Gandhi for bringing him back to India and entrusting him charge of the Indian economy. But why did the economy nosedive and inflation reach an all time high during 2012-14, when he took charge in government and RBI? Why did banks give more loans to Vijay Mallya? And why did corruption plague the UPA government?
Perhaps because he had just come in and his patrons didn’t really understand his policies and it led to a situation where UPA – a regime that brought him in was thrown out of power in May 2014 with such force that no one had seen ever before – reduced to a paltry double digit number of 44. Chidambaram didn’t have the courage to even contest elections, Manmohan Singh announced his retirement and Rahul Gandhi‘s votes were reduced by over a lakh.
That thought was confusing. The economic expert writings had not reflected on that period. Should Modi not be thanked for giving Rajan the space to make the turnaround that he wished to make. But the experts were telling us that Rajan as an individual was bigger than the institution, the RBI. Superheroes are always bigger. Remember T. N. Seshan, former Chief Election Commissioner of India. We were also told that the economy moved on right track because Rajan had conflicts with government and that he did what he wanted.
What was most assuring under the circumstances was Rajan’s own headline grabbing one liner delivered on 7 June, just a fortnight back, “It would be cruel of me to spoil all the fun the press is having.”
This meant that he was having fun at what was appearing in press and would be there for a longer haul, and he indicated that he wished that. But who on earth would like to leave the post of RBI Governor, till he is forced out (non-extension of term).
On Saturday evening, when many were in the process of spending a good time with their family, Rajan dropped a bombshell – he is quitting, well not quitting but going back to the part of world he knows better, academia in the University of Chicago, USA. India or its economy was orphaned over the weekend.
In his e-mail to a sundry staffers in RBI, also released to the media, he told us first-hand what experts had told us before, that he saved the day for India, “I took office in September 2013 as the 23rd Governor of the Reserve Bank of India. At that time, the currency was plunging daily, inflation was high, and growth was weak. India was then deemed one of the `Fragile Five’. In my opening statement as Governor, I laid out an agenda for action that I had discussed with you……By implementing these measures, I said we would `build a bridge to the future, over the stormy waves produced by global financial markets’,”
“Today, I feel proud that we at the Reserve Bank have delivered on all these proposals……We have done far more than was laid out in that initial statement, including helping the government reform the process of appointing Public Sector Bank management………I will be returning to academia when my term as Governor ends on September 4, 2016. I will, of course, always be available to serve my country when needed,” Rajan said.
Was he telling about his achievements or was he telling us about the inefficiencies or lack of grasp and aptitude of previous RBI governors?
His words were very assuring, always be “available to serve”, but then a number of experts explained that “when needed” wouldn’t be in the life time of the Modi government.
Eminent economist Ashok Desai, who served as Chief Consultant with ministry of finance in 1991-93 when Manmohan Singh was finance minister, wrote for Firstpost: “But I do hope he will not get too busy, for there is one thing he should take time out for, namely, write a book about India. It would be great if he told us in his own words about what went wrong between him and India; the more frankly he does it, the better,”
“But even if he does not indulge in luminous candour, even if he keeps the J-word (apparently referring to Jaitley) out of it, his very style will make it riveting reading; in fact, the more he shrouds the shocking real events in civility, the better it will read. And who knows, he may throw out some good ideas about how to reform our economy. There may not be much chance of doing so under the present regime. But regimes come and go; ideas live on – until proved wrong,” Desai wrote.
Some others predicted that on Monday, when the markets opened, rupee would get devalued and that stocks at all markets would plunge to a new low.
By afternoon Desai was proven wrong. Modi government announced its resolve to go on the reform path, without the sage counsel of Rajan. The single biggest announcement concerning FDI in recent times was announced – in nine major sectors including 100 percent in defence, civil aviation and pharma.
The stock market boomed again. The rupee remained stable. The economists, and rival Congress party, predicting the gloomy doomsday arrival after Rajan’s exit were caught unaware. The Congress fielded Rahul Gandhi’s close confidante Jairam Ramesh to declare that, “it is a panic reaction to show the world that it is business as usual even after Raghuram Rajan has announced his exit.”
It didn’t matter that Ramesh had been a union minister, and very well knew that such decisions are arrived at after months of deliberations and file pushing at various levels. It also didn’t matter that some of these announcements were made in this year’s budget speech by the finance minister. If Ramesh is to be believed, then the Modi government rushed through all the paper work in just one day – something that the UPA government couldn’t do in 10 years in power.
One hopes now that the same economic experts would return on the subject to clear confusion, without painting Rajan as a demi-God and without implying that the previous governors were virtual time wasters.
The author is a policy commentator based in New Delhi. He tweets @yatishrajawat
Everything that has to be analysed about Raghuram Rajan and his departure has been done. It is not the departure of the man that is the issue, but the unfinished agenda or the challenge that this country faces which is the issue.
An articulate and a contrarian as a RBI governor is a rarity but as with all other things we focus on the person more than the process. We focus on the personality and forget the system behind it. Which is why we do not build institutions but flaky heroes — who break away at the first sign of pressure.
Rajan’s departure is unconventional as the man — this is the same person who criticised Manmohan Singh and his government for its failure to reform the system. A few weeks before he was appointed governor, Rajan as a speaker to celebrate 20 years of reforms, spoke disparagingly about the government’s efforts. He was not known to be politically correct then nor is he now, although as a governor he did become much more careful.
He is known to be correct, and his claim to fame was he predicted the subprime crash.
He wrote that banks by their nature and size become risk averse and lend to the safest borrower. As a governor was he able to diversify the lending practices of the banks and increase their lending base. As an academician, he knew all the problems and he even had a solution to a some of them. Has he been successfully in implementing those solutions, reforming the system in a way that he lectured?
If Rajan was to evaluate his own performance, how will he rate himself? Did he fulfil the mandate he was given? When he looks back at his time as governor, will he see it with satisfaction or as an opportunity squandered?
Much more important, is if we move away from the person and actually look at the issues and challenges facing the financial system and the economy. It would give this debate a better structure.
We have a dysfunctional banking system. Not only is it saddled with bad debts and poor balance sheets, it is also unable to diversify its lending base nor give credit where it is needed most. I wrote about the banks’ inability to lend to the MSME sector here. Rajan started the process of unbundling NPAs, created a system for delinking decision-making from banks to a committee.
Will this process of pressure on promoters to repay their loans continue with the new governor or will the political and bureaucratic alliance short circuit it? To understand the process of NPA classification and redressal I would recommend compulsory reading of Deputy Governor R Gandhi’s speech delivered in September 2015. It shows the systemic change that has been institutionalised for NPAs, but as everyone knows, it does not take long for the system to be dismantled.
For the first time, promoters at all levels were worried about their loans, they were asked to divest their assets and debt-restructuring was a process, not a decision. Even large corporate houses that had taken loans for diversification were not safe. The very contours of crony capitalism were questioned. This process is not complete and it is important that the system be allowed to function.
Mandarins at the Ministry of Finance, if supported by their political masters, can find a way around any system and this is the issue that has to be kept under scrutiny post-Rajan. Mandarins at the ministry did not make it easy for the current or even the past governor to function. Even though, Rajan’s predecessor was a bureaucrat and bent when he was asked to bow, he did not have an easy time. Rajan’s departure also shows that he did not want to fight the system, the bureaucrats or the politicians anymore. His resignation is clearly a sign of giving up against insurmountable odds.
This is something that will surely bother him as his legacy is poorer because of it.
The governor’s job is as much about politics as economics, the political establishment comes with a corporate lobby towards whcih even the bureaucratic establishment veers. It is the governor’s job to distinguish what is important for the country and what the political establishment wants it to do. To have a yes man at the governor’s post is a sure sign for disaster, because a weak individual will always bend faster than is needed and more than is required.
The agenda that Rajan set has not changed our financial system, which is still not out of the woods.
It will be fallacious if the establishment does not recognise this and appoint a strong governor again.
The final twist in Bank of Baroda’s comi-tragic efforts to recover a Rs 550-crore loan to Vijay Mallya is yet to come.
Firstpost investigations have already shown how the bank ordered a freeze on five accounts belonging to three of its regular retail customers. Their accounts were put on lien because they were identified as “guarantors” to Mallya’s loan.
The first customer is a farmer in Uttar Pradesh’s Pilibhit district, the second a vegetable vendor in Khar and the third a security guard in Vile Parle (both based in Mumbai).
The security guard was operating a Pradhan Mantri Bima Yojna account and had a grand balance of Rs 93 in his account when BoB froze it to make him cough up the loan on which Vijay Mallya had defaulted!
Firstpost reported this travesty in three earlier parts of this continuing series. You can read about them here:
The bank, it later turned out, mistook the three customers for two directors on the board of Kingfisher — Manmohan Singh Kapur and Subhash R Gupte — because of the “similarity” of the names of these two gentlemen with those of the farmer, vegetable vendor and security guard! The bank wanted to proceed against them because they were guarantors to the loan.
It is beyond anybody’s comprehension to figure out how a bank can mix up the identity of two guarantors to a Rs 550-crore corporate loan. But let’s suspend reason for a bit. Manmohan Singh Kapur and Subhash R Gupte were indeed long-serving members on the board of Kingfisher. They both resigned in early April 2014. So let’s take the bank’s explanation for the faux pas on face value and assume that Kapur and Gupte were guarantors to the loan.
Immediately two questions crop up: One, how come the bank did not have the contact details of the guarantors and, two, how difficult would it have been to locate two directors of Kingfisher Airlines even if the bank did not have their contact details? After all, both Kapur and Gupte are well-known professionals and are on the boards of a clutch of other listed companies. Kapur retired as CMD of Vijaya Bank and Gupte served as acting chairman and MD of Air India.
The next question to ask is whether Kapur and Gupte were guarantors to the loan. It took just a few calls for Firstpost to get their contact details. And what they told Firstpost turns the entire story spun by BoB on its head.
Both Kapur and Gupte vehemently denied that they stood guarantee for Mallya’s loan. Gupte said the loan was given against Mallya’s personal guarantee and that of United Breweries.
Listen to this brief conversation between Firstpost and Kapur:
Gupte was more forthcoming:
The import of this is that BoB froze five accounts (owned by three retail customers) mistaking them for Kapur and Gupte, the two guarantors of Vijay Mallya’s Rs 550 crore. But Kapur and Gupte are not guarantors at all!
Unless the bank knows something Kapur and Gupte don’t know about themselves, here’s what it looks like: The bank mistook not just three retail customers for two guarantors for a huge corporate loan, but also mistook who the guarantors were!
Simply put, BoB does not even know who the guarantors are for Vijay Mallya’s loan of Rs 550 crore.
The “technical error” defence of BoB is clearly not enough. Two critical questions need to be answered by the bank:
1) If Kapur and Gupte were “thought” to be “guarantors” to Mallya’s loan by virtue of being directors on Kingfisher Airlines, what about the rest of the board members. At the time of the loan, there were seven directors on the board including Mallya. So what about the other four directors? Has the bank tried to freeze their accounts too?
2) Both Kapur and Gupte have told Firstpost that they do not bank with BoB. Then, what is all this fuss about? If neither of them had an account with BoB, what is the basis of the freeze list (which was supposed to be a list of accounts owned by the two)? What is BoB trying to freeze then?
These are just two of the many questions that raise serious concerns about the systemic abuse of public money. Every retail customer knows the rigours through which they are put for small personal, vehicle, education and home loans. This BoB case inadvertently reveals that all that due diligence is reserved only for the farmer, the security guard and the vegetable vendor. That’s what we will deal with in the next part of the series.
This is the fourth part of a series that aims to look at how huge corporate loans are doled out without due diligence. By highlighting all the horrors committed by Bank of Baroda in freezing the account of a farmer, a security guard and a vegetable vendor, it seeks to zero in on the system abuses by banks in granting corporate loans. This series attempts to give you a peep into why and how NPAs are created and why Finance Minister’s Arun Jaitley’s offer — to ring-fence banks from criminal investigation for entering into “commercially prudent” settlements — should be extended extremely prudently.
New Delhi: Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union president Kanhaiya Kumar on Monday wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, targeting him on a range of issues.
Saying that “a situation of emergency has been created in every university”, Kumar in his Facebook page wrote the open letter to Modi asking him: “Is this the situation that you were promising when you were chanting the slogan of ‘achche din’ across the length and breadth of the nation?”
“You (Modi) have handed the reins of our temples of learning into the hands of those who are not just averse to knowledge, but also determined and proven opponents of history, art, culture and logic,” the JNUSU president wrote.
Kumar accused Modi for returning favours to those who financially paved his ascent to power.
Kumar said that no new jobs have been created, farmers are killing themselves, poor are increasingly becoming poorer, students can’t afford to study, those who do make it to the various universities face caste-based humiliation and discrimination.
“Brilliant students are forced to hang themselves from fans. Or else they are raped and/or murdered. And if by some miracle they manage to save themselves from such vile acts then their fellowships are stopped in order to deter them pursuing higher studies,” he mentioned in his letter.
He added that even the basic rights of teachers and workers have been targeted forcing them to come out on the streets and protest against the system and getting arrested.
“It seems that a situation of emergency has been created in every university,” he wrote.
The open letter targets the Prime Minister with words that “the country won’t change by changing the meat or the video. The nation will be transformed when the condition of its people are improved.”
Kumar said that under Modi’s regime, things have only gone from bad to worse.
Kumar asked: “Had you (Modi) delivered development in the last two years, you would not have to spend crores of rupees to advertise it.”
He said that the apparent reality is that Modi has done nothing to improve the lives of the people.
“I question you here as a student. You spend Rs 200 crore on advertisements, but you don’t have Rs 99 crore for non-NET scholarships for the research scholars,” Kumar said.
“You have thousands of crore of rupees to buy battle tanks, but you don’t have money to pay minimum wages to workers. You have thousands of crores of rupees for air trips but you can’t give farmers fair minimum support prices for their crop.”
He claimed Modi’s policies seem like “a series of misfortune for the common masses”.
Kumar said the “next generation” will ask Modi why he remained silent on the issue of ministers spreading hatred against a particular community, ministers framing false cases against students on the basis of fake tweets.
“Why were you silent when meat samples were switched and communal venom was being spread? The main question is – whether you have been elected to bring development or to strengthen those who spread hatred and violence,” the letter questioned.
He also accused Modi of forgetting the issue of price rise and inflation in the Indian economy, citing one of the taglines of his election campaign – “Bahut hui mahangai ki maar, Abki baar Modi Sarkar”.
“You (Modi) mocked Manmohan Singh for his silence. But neither do you speak for us. And when you do speak, it is not for the impoverished masses of this country, but for America, where lawmakers give you a standing ovation,” Kumar wrote in the letter.
Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi on Monday led a protest in Punjab’s Jalandhar city against the drug menace in the state and said that the problem would be resolved in a month if the party comes to power.The Congress vice-president’s protest came at a time when there is an ongoing controversy over certification of the Bollywood film Udta Punjab, based on the menace of drugs in the state. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Addressing a rally, Rahul Gandhi said, “If Punjab needs a better future, there is no other way but to stop drug menace in the state. On one side there is the drug menace, and on the the other, there are law and order, unemployment issues.”The Congress leader said that the party will remove the drug problem in a month if it came to power, adding that the party intended to give more authority to the police.(Protesting against drug abuse and law & order issues in Punjab earlier today)Stating that there are good police officers in Punjab police who want to work, Rahul said the SAD government wasn’t giving them the required freedom to perform their duties.”Four years ago when I came to Punjab and urged the government to address the drug issue, I was mocked by the Akalis,” he added.Rahul also spoke regarding the Udta Punjab row, saying, “Movies are being banned, they have banned Udta Punjab as they still don’t want to accept the reality, because it is profitable for them.”The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has dubbed Gandhi’s protest against drugs as ridiculous and alleged that the Congress was adopting double standards as the grand party had failed to initiate any action on the same when the matter was brought to the notice of former prime minister Manmohan Singh.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi will lead a protest in Punjab’s Jalandhar city on Monday against the drug menace in the state.Gandhi, who will be accompanied by members of the Congress’ Punjab unit, is also expected to highlight the alleged deterioration in the law and order situation in the state.”Will join the mass protest in Jalandhar on Monday, 13th June, to highlight rampant drug abuse and collapse of law & order in Punjab,” Gandhi’s office tweeted earlier on June 10.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has dubbed Gandhi’s protest against drugs as ridiculous and alleged that the Congress was adopting double standards as the grand old party had failed to initiate any action on the same when the matter was brought to the notice of former prime minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.The Congress vice-president?s protest comes at a time when there is an ongoing controversy over certification of Bollywood film ‘Udta Punjab’, based on the menace of drugs in the state.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited 38 countries (visiting some countries more than once) making 19 international trips till 8 June, 2016, traveling abroad for 97 of 743 days since he assumed office on 26 May, 2014, according to IndiaSpend analysis of Ministry of External Affairs data.
Modi’s predecessor Manmohan Singh visited 23 countries (visiting some countries more than once) leaving the country 17 times during his second term in office over a similar period, until 8 June, 2011, traveling 76 of 747 days since he assumed office on 22 May, 2009.
During his first term, Singh travelled for 64 days over a similar period, visiting 15 countries making 16 international trips (visiting some countries more than once) between 22 May, 2004 and 8 June, 2006.
Modi recently returned from a five-nation tour—Afghanistan, Qatar, Switzerland, USA and Mexico–which began on 4 June, 2016. This was Modi’s fourth visit to US since he assumed charge as Prime Minister.
This is an updated version of the story ‘Modi vs Manmohan: Both Global Roamers’ published earlier on 16 May, 2015. Read here.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Doha on Saturday on a two-day visit which is focused on giving a new push to the economic ties, particularly in the hydrocarbon sector, between India and the energy-rich Qatar.On his visit to Doha, he met Indian workers in Downtown Doha at their camp and said, “My first program in Doha is meeting you all.”Watch PM Modi interact with Indian workers:He applauded the workers and expressed his gratitude towards them. He said, “When someone from our nation comes, who speaks our language, knows of our land, we want to ask them how they are, know them.”He then went on to thank the doctors in Doha. “Sometimes loneliness is a disease. When someone asks how we are, we feel better. But when someone who speaks our language asks us that, half the loneliness goes away,” PM added.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Modi being proud of the workers said that India’s image is not formed on the basis of how our embassy works but based on Indians everywhere around the world. “The way you guys work is the reason why Indians are appreciated, want to offer you all my gratitude,” said PM Modi.He then said he will work to his best extent to help the workers working in Doha.The workers in return were left teary-eyed after meeting the PM. One of the worker said, “PM Modi is the best PM, he sat with us, asked us about our troubles.”Other said, “It was like meeting someone from our family, it got me teary-eyed.”Later during his stay, Modi will hold detailed talks with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and address the business community of Qatar, a country which is India’s largest supplier of LNG requirements, accounting for 65% of the country s total imports last financial year.On his arrival, Modi was warmly received by Qatar’s Prime Minister Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani at the airport.”Reached Doha. India attaches great priority to strong ties with Qatar & my visit seeks to expand bilateral ties between our nations,” he tweeted on his arrival.The Prime Minister has been focusing on improving ties with the Gulf region which is crucial for India’s energy security. He has already visited United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.Modi is the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Qatar in the last eight years. The then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had visited Doha in 2008.”India’s historical and close relations with Qatar are marked by mutually beneficial commercial exchanges and extensive people-to-people contacts,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup had said ahead of the visit.There has been regular exchange of high-level bilateral visits in the recent past. The Emir of Qatar had visited India in March 2015. Previously, the then Emir of Qatar had visited India in 1999, 2005 and 2012.From here, the Prime Minister will travel to Switzerland on way to the USA.
Dropping a hint at joining the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Bollywood actor Om Puri on Wednesday said he had no choice left other than joining the saffron party.”We don’t have any choice left other than sitting in Modiji’s lap. We have seen others’ laps. (Abhi dekhiye humare paas to koi choice hai nhi, sivay Modi ji ki godi mein baithne ke. Baaki godiyan humne dekh li hain),” Puri told the media, while addressing a press conference here during the promotion of his upcoming film ‘Marathwada’.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking a pot shot at Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Puri said, “Sonia Gandhi thinks of making her son the Prime Minister, look at his age, his experience, see what he says. Are we fools? Pranab Mukherjee is very much experienced and very learned statesman and he has been in the Congress for so long. In order to make your son the prime minister, you made him the President.”He further stated that Sonia had made former prime minister Manmohan Singh a puppet for 15 years, who didn’t even look up to the eyes of the people and speak, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi at least does so.Urging all the MPs to watch ‘Marathwada’ Puri said these kind of films are made with a lot of research works.”The problem is not farmers committing suicide, the problem is they don’t get proper money for their crops. It’s a matter of shame if the farmers could not be saved. The village head should look into the matter and inform the Prime Minister,” he added.In the film, Puri plays a farmer in Marathwada, one of the worst drought-affected areas, who threatens to commit suicide after his son committed suicide under the financial burden triggered by drought, which finally catches the government’s attention.
Terming the performance of two-year-old Modi Government as the “most disappointing” for any dispensation since independence, Congress on Thursday said there is little to celebrate for the country,as it fielded a battery of senior leaders to counter government’s claims of development and delivery.”Modi ji why are you celebrating. Is there prosperity all around in the nation,” party spokesperson Kapil Sibal said adding, these were “two years of hollow promises”.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Attacking the NDA government on a wide range of issues from economy and employment to foreign policy, the Congress leaders also contrasted Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s performance vis a vis his predecessor Manmohan Singh under UPA rule.The opposition party alleged that the NDA government is “surviving just on advertisements” and challenged it for a debate.”Singh did not talk much but his work was bespeaking. Modi ji keeps on talking but his work speaks of nothing…. I challenge Modi government, any of its minister to come and debate with us,” Sibal said.”Modi ji why are you celebrating….Is Varanasi (Modi’s Parliamentary constituency) clean now? Have the youths got employment? Did the farmers’ suicide stop. What has happened in last two years that you are celebrating?”The AICC also released a short film titled “pragati ki tham gai chaal, do saal, desh ka bura haal (The pace of progress is halted, the country in a bad shape in two years)”, slamming the government on 10 issues, besides making a power-point presentation which projected the government’s performance as “abysmal”.Addressing the joint press conference, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, AICC Communication Department Chairman Randeep Surjewala and Sibal alleged that the two-year tenure of the government is full of “hollow promises”.
The Delhi High Court will on Monday hear the petition moved by Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, seeking directions to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to provide him with the reasons on the basis of which, search and seizure was carried out at his premises in a money laundering case.The petition was moved on May 16 before Justice Manmohan who listed the matter for hearing today. In his petition, Singh has sought quashing of the April 19 order of the adjudicating authority and the May 12 decision of the appellate tribunal, which dismissed his pleas to provide him with the reasons to believe, which formed the basis for the search and seizure of documents.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In his plea, he has contended that reasons for initiating the search are ex-facie illegal, arbitrary and liable to be quashed. On September 26 last year, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had searched the Chief Minister’s residence and 10 other places in connection with the case.Later, the ED conducted raids and summoned Singh for questioning in Delhi after the registration of the case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
India has pledged US $1 million for modernisation and teachers’ training at a prestigious school in Afghanistan as part of its long-standing support to the war-torn country’s education sector.India has decided to grant the financial assistance of US $1 million to the school over a period of 10 years, in pursuance of India’s long-standing support to Habibia School in Kabul, the Indian Embassy in Kabul has said in a statement.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The school is one of the largest and most reputed schools in Afghanistan. It was established in 1904 by King Habibullah. An Indian, Dr Abdul Ghani, was the school’s first principal.The funds will be utilised for replacement of electricity transformers and related works, immediate civil repairs, modernisation programme and annual routine maintenance. To administer this assistance efficiently and in a transparent manner, a Memorandum of Understand (MoU) was signed on Wednesday between Embassy of India in Kabul, Ministry of Education, Afghanistan and Habibia High School.The MoU was signed by Ambassador of India Manpreet Vohra, Minister of Education Assadullah Hanif Balkhi and Principal of Habibia School Sayed Shah Lala Bakawly. Under this assistance, electrical works including replacement of two transformers have already commenced and civil works are expected to begin soon.These maintenance works are expected to cost approximately US $150,000. During the subsequent nine years, an amount of US $ 60,000 would be released each year to the school for annual routine maintenance. The remaining amount of US $310,000 will be utilised for modernisation programme, teachers’ training, upgradation of school labs and equipment.Many prominent Afghan personalities have graduated from the school including President Ashraf Ghani and former president Hamid Karzai. The renovated school building was inaugurated in 2005 jointly by Karzai and then prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh. India and its people stand committed to the development of education sector in Afghanistan and assist country in rebuilding and modernising its educational system and institutions, the statement added.
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday remembered his father Rajiv Gandhi on his 25th death anniversary and said that the former prime minister had taught him to fight for values that are dear to him, no matter the hardships ahead.”Remembering Rajivji today, he touched the lives of so many as a leader, as a friend & above all as a good human being. As a father he taught me that no matter how full of struggle & hardships the path ahead. The values that we hold dear- the values of truth, freedom, equality & justice, are worth fighting for,” Rahul said in a series of tweets.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Earlier today, Congress president Sonia Gandhi accompanied by Rahul, daughter Priyanka Gandhi and son-in-law Robert Vadra paid homage to Rajiv Gandhi at the at Veer Bhumi memorial here. President Pranab Mukherjee, former prime minister Manmohan Singh and a number of Congress party leaders also paid tributes to the former youngest prime minister of India.Rajiv, who was the sixth and youngest prime minister of India, was assassinated on May 21, 1991 at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu during a poll campaign.
Rubbishing the opposition’s assertion that the Centre is interfering with the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday said the manner in which the credibility of some of these investigating agencies have declined was a record. “The manner in which the investigating agencies were used, the manner in which credibility of some of the investigating agencies declined, I think was a record. And, therefore, these are matters ultimately which the court will have to take a view. Ultimately this will all go before the court. And, if anything is wrong or improper, I am sure the court will take an appropriate view,” Jaitley said in a press conference.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”In each of the cases I referred to, each case without a single exception, the court didn’t even frame the charge. They (UPA) discharged the accused even without a trial and that discharge took place not under NDA but even when the UPA was in power, “he added.Citing that he wrote a letter as an opposition to the then prime minister Manmohan Singh listing the number of cases with detail of how the chargesheet has been fabricated by the UPA government, he said, got one line reply that these matters are ‘sub-judice'”These are legal matters, which are based on quality of evidence. When during the UPA, some of these chargesheet used to be filed by the investigating agencies, you can go back to my Facebook and see the letter I wrote as an opposition to then Dr Manmohan Singh listing the number of cases with detail of each case illustrating how the chargesheet has been fabricated by the UPA. I got one line reply back that these matters are sub-judice,” Jaitley said.The Congress had yesterday accused the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) of interfering in the 2008 Malegaon blast case to give “clean chits” to accused people with RSS-BJP background, and sought to drag National Security Advisor Ajit Doval’s name into the row.The opposition party urged the Supreme Court to take into its custody the chargesheet, official files, notings and other relevant documents in the case to ensure justice.The NIA now contends that prime accused in the Malegaon blasts were framed by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) which planted evidence against him.The NIA last week gave a clean chit to accused Sadhvi Pragya Thakur and five others by stating lack of evidence to justify their prosecution in the case.NIA said out that witnesses against accused had retracted their statements.The Malegaon 2008 blast case was a first case in which Hindu extremists, including Lt. Colonel Prasad Shrikant Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur were chargesheeted in 2009 by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad.The NIA took over the case in 2011. (ANI)Ends APNNNNani
Ram Chandra Kalsangra and Sandeep Dange, the two absconding accused in the 2008 Malegaon bomb blast case, have been mentioned as ‘RSS workers’ in the charge sheet filed by the NIA last week. Naming Kalsangra as accused number 13 and Dange as accused number 14, the NIA has referred to the two as “RSS worker” against the column for occupation in its charge sheet.Both of them have been on the run after their names surfaced in connection with the Malegaon blasts. The duo have been named as accused in other cases too that included Samjhuata train blasts in February 2007 in which 68 people were killed.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>When asked to comment on its workers being named in the Malegaon charge sheet, RSS Head of Communication department Manmohan Vaidya said, “they were with RSS. We do not know about their whereabouts. Neither do we know about their involvement in the case. “We do not support any kind of violence. But there should be a thorough judicial probe into the entire incident and anyone found guilty should be punished,” Vaidya said. Kalsangra and Dange are proclaimed offenders with the CBI and NIA announcing a cash reaward of Rs 10 lakh on information leading to their arrest. An Interpol Red Corner notice has also been issued against the two.According to the NIA charge sheet, the examination of some of the acquaintances and associates of the duo was carried out during which the agency alleged that all the mobile phone numbers traced at the time of the blast at Malegaon were used by the accused. Kalsangra alias Ramji and Dange are alleged to have imparted arms and explosive training to some of the accused at Bagli hill top in Devas of Madhya Pradesh. The two-wheeler, in which the explosive material was planted and placed outside a mosque on September 29, 2008 in Malegaon, was being used by Kalsangra for the last two years, the NIA said. The vehicle was in the name of Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, who has been given a clean chit by the NIA. Seven people were killed in the Malegaon 2008 blast.