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PM Modi’s New Year’s Eve Speech: BJP hails speech, Opp attacks PM

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Opposition parties attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “failing” to show “sensitivity” towards people’s pain due to demonetisation in his address to the nation, while BJP hailed him for announcing a string of welfare measures for the weaker sections.Slamming Modi for his “lacklustre” address, Congress called him a merchant of “false promises” and wondered why he did not mention how many “lakhs of crores” in black money and fake currencies the government managed to wipe out through demonetisation in the last 50 days.Congress Spokesperson Randeep Surjewala alleged the Prime Minister totally failed to show any sensitivity to people’s pain as no relief from financial restrictions was announced despite widespread expectation.The Left parties attacked him for “failing” to address problems of the poor and farmers caused by demonetisation and charged him with delivering a “budget speech” in view of forthcoming assembly polls in UP and some other states.”He spoke like a pracharak for most of the 45-minute speech…It was like a budget speech,” CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said.BJP President Amit Shah, however, hailed Modi for welfare measures and called them “great step” towards opening the avenues for the weaker sections of the country.”The prime minister opened up avenues for poor, farmers and youth of this country after the record availability of money in the banks since Independence following the demonetisation. It is a great step for the weaker sections of the country,” he said.Surjewala said though crores of people were reeling under severe difficulties and a large number of them lost their jobs, Modi did not talk about any roadmap for them.”The Prime Minister’s so called cleansing drive took 125 lives of innocent Indians and put crores of people in severe difficulties. But Modi did not uttter a single word for those who died. This is reflection of his insensitivity to the peoples’ pain,” Surjewala said. Attacking Modi for not lifting restrictions on withdrawal of cash even after the 50-day period, the Congress spokesman said the PM only believes in “hitting headlines and giving no deadlines”. “The entire country was listening with curosity that the Prime Minister will lift the restrictions on withdrwal of their hard earned money from banks. But people will still have to reel under this economic anarchy.”The Prime Minister said it will take time to improve the banking system in the new year. It means he belives in hitting headlines and not giving deadlines,” he said.Yechury, who had asked a number of questions to the Prime Minister ahead of the latter’s address to the nation, rued Modi did not announce any compensation for daily wage earners, fishermen, agricultural workers “who were hit hard by demonetisation”.He also questioned why the Prime Minister did not announce debt waiver to farmers while Rs 1.12 crore taken in loans by corporates have been written off.”He (Modi) has talked about hardships of people standing in queues. But he said nothing on compensation to those 115 persons who died in queues while withdrawing money,” Yechury said.In a series of tweets, Shah said, “PM @narendramodi has given a futuristic & visionary address to the nation, sharing a series of welcome initiatives for poor & farmers.”PM @narendramodi wonderfully articulated the passion & enthusiasm with which 125 crore Indians supported the movement against corruption.”BJP leader and Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu also welcomed the announcements, tweeting, “I specially thank PM @narendramodi for reducing interest rate on housing.A big boost to housing sector & big boon to the poor &middle class,” he tweetedComing down hard on the PM, Surjewala said demonetisation has taken away the jobs, hit the farmers and traders and made life difficult for every section of the society but there was no word of relief for them in his address.”Who benefitted from the demonetisation. Only a handful of 50 people who are Modiji’s friend. This is why he said yesterday that the deposits of the people in the banks would be used for strengthening banking system and infrastructure.Noting that there was “nothing new” in PM’s announcements, he said Modi is selling what Congress was implementing whether the Rs 6,000 maternity benefit to pregnant poor women or interest subvention on houses for the poor.Stating that the decision of demonetisation has destroyed the back bone of poor and medial class, Surjewala said Modi should have announced 20 per cent bonus for farmers above MSP, compensation for those who lost job during this period among others.Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), the ruling alliance partner in Bihar, said the address proves that even Modi himself has accepted that demonetisation has “failed.” In a series of tweets, party chief Lalu Yadav posed a series of questions to the PM on the demonetisation, saying the people of the country would be standing in the queues from Monday again.”Where is the report card, why did not (Prime Minister Modi) disclose how much black money (has been) unearthed. How much (money) has been deposited, how many jobs lost, how much is the loss to the economy and how it would be compensated,” Lalu tweeted.In another tweet, he sought to know from the PM how much money was spent on printing of new notes.Taking a dig at Modi’s speech, which did not mention any timeline for the return of normalcy in the banking system, he said the PM, who had in his November speech asked the people to bear the pain for 50 days, “did not give any deadline.””Prime Minister publicly misleading the nation is not a good sign. Nobody will have faith in such a Prime Minister,” he tweeted.”The boring speech of today signals that the PM has accepted that demonetisation has failed. Had there been even a single achievement he would have gone to the town, tom-toming it,” he said.”The country will be in the queues again on the eve of the new year, such an expressionless, ineffective and crawling pre-budget speech,” he said.He claimed that the PM has no “remorse” even after taking away the lives of hundreds of people, and 25 lakh people’s jobs.

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

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

Many questions remained unanswered, disappointed with PM Modi’s speech: Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Slamming Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his “disappointing” address, Congress on Saturday wondered why he did not mention how many “lakhs of crores” of black money the government managed to wipe out through demonetization in the last 50 days.Congress Spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said demonetization has paralysed the economy but the Prime Minister in his address did not answer many crucial questions. “Mr Prime Minister, people wanted to know how many lakhs of crores of black money did you wipe out in the last 50 days? Why didn’t you speak about it,” he asked. Surjewala said “We are disappointed with PM’s speech as many questions were left unanswered. His decision paralyzed economy; country can’t run this way.”The Congress once again asked Modi to withdraw the restrictions imposed on withdrawals post demonetization. Surjewala said the “so-called cleansing drive took 125lives of innocent Indians and put crores of people in severe difficulties. But the Prime Minister did not uttter a single word for those who died.” He said the 50 days the Prime Minister had asked for were over but there was no announcement on when he will take back the restrictions on withdrawal of cash.”The entire country was listening with curiosity that the Prime Minister will lift the restrictions on withdrawal of their hard earned money from banks. But people will still have to reel under this economic anarchy. “The Prime Minister said it will take time to improve the banking system in the new year. It means he believes in hitting headlines and not giving deadlines,” the Congress spokesperson added.Coming down hard on the Prime Minister, Surjewala said demonetization has taken away the jobs, hit the farmers and traders and made life difficult for every section of the society but there was no word of relief for them in PM’s address. “Who benefited from demonetization. Only a handful of 50 people who are Modiji’s friend. This is why he said yesterday that the deposits of the people in the banks would be used for strengthening banking system and infrastructure.The Congress Spokesperson said National Food Security Act already has special focus on women and entitles them to receive “maternity benefit of not less than Rs 6,000 and that there was nothing new in PM’s announcement of the financial assistance for them”.

Modi speech: PM thanks Indians for standing by demonetisation, rewards them with sops

Amid the celebrations to mark the beginning of a new year, what caught the fancy of the people in different parts of the country and kept them glued to their television sets and radios was Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s address to the nation.

The prime minister’s speech comes 52 days after his announcement of demonetisation, made in a similar address to the nation on 8 November.

Screenshot of PM Modi during his New Year's Eve addressScreenshot of PM Modi during his New Year's Eve address

Screenshot of PM Modi during his New Year’s Eve address

On Saturday evening, Modi thanked 1.25 billion Indians for the resilience they showed in bearing the problems that came with his demonetisation drive, and doing so with much dignity and patience.

Lauding Indians with a couplet “Kuch baat hai ki hasti mitti nahi hamari“, Prime Minister Modi said, “People of India have lived and proved this adage. What India has done will find no parallel in the world.”

Repeatedly thanking and applauding Indians for supporting the demonetisation decision, calling it a “shuddhi yagna”, Modi said that the evils of corruption and black money compelled even honest people to bend in despair, and made him feel “suffocated”. Modi said that these people wanted relief from such suffocation.

Dwelling more upon the resilience of the people, Modi said that on numerous instances — be during the Indo-China war or the Kargil war with Pakistan — people of India have displayed immense sacrifice and resilience. He added that they were all fights with outsiders, but after demonetisation, people were fighting to kill their inner evil, which was comparatively more difficult.

Talking about how people reacted positively to demonetisation, Modi said that a time will come when the country’s intelligentsia will discuss the fight shown by people in defeating their inner demons and deformities. He said the resilience shown by the people in the last 50 days was an epitome of sacrifice to defeat what was wrong.

“The events of 8 November told us how 1.25 crore Indians took the trouble and made the efforts to prove that honesty and virtuosity are most important,” Prime Minister added.

Accepting the pain that people have to face because of demonetisation, Modi said, “I know that to withdraw your own money, you had to bear pain. People shared their pain with me. But I realised that you considered me your own. You showed that you don’t want to be left behind in this fight against corruption.”

He added that the government’s top priority will now be to normalise the functioning of the banking system. Modi said that there will be renewed focus on every aspect of the sector, and especially on making things normal in rural areas.

Stressing on the fact that tax evasion has now become all-pervasive in the country, Modi said that as per official records, only 24 lakh people claim to be earning more than Rs 10 lakh, which is unbelievable given the opulence that is on display in most of the cities.

Sending a clear message to the “corrupt and dishonest” citizens of the country, Modi said that is very obvious now as to what will happen to them. “The law will take its own course. But government’s priority will be to ensure how the honest can be helped and be supported,” he said.

While lauding the efforts of the banking sector, who “worked really hard” in the last 52 days, he also made it amply clear that the people, including government officials, who have indulged in fraudulent practices, will not be spared.

Apart from stressing on demonetisation warning wrong doers, and applauding the honest, Modi also announced a slew of reforms and schemes to benefit the rural poor. Some of them were: An eight percent interest rate will be guaranteed on deposits of upto Rs 7.5 lakh for 10 years for senior citizens; interest will be paid monthly. Modi also announced a 4 percent interest rate cut against home loans of up to Rs 9 lakhs, and 3 percent against home loans upto Rs 12 lakhs for the year 2017.

While there will be detailed analysis of the reforms, the prime minister has sent out a clear message in his New Year’s Eve address: While the honest can expect ache din, it will surely be bure din (tough times) for the corrupt.

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 21:30 IST

He didn’t say Mitron once, he has unfriended the nation: Twitter reacts to PM Modi’s speech

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi set out a stern warning of tough action against the “dishonest” people even as he announced a slew of sops for senior citizens, farmers, rural housing, women and small entrepreneurs to soften the blow of demonetisation. He also assuaged the honest people that the government will act as a friend to them so that their difficulties are eased. Among the sops announced in his address to the nation at the end of 50-day demonetisation period, Modi said senior citizens will get 8 per cent interest on deposits of upto Rs 7.5 lakh for 10 years and deposit of Rs 6000 into accounts of pregnant and lactating women in rural areas to meet medical expenses.For farmers, he announced that banks will not charge interest for 60 days on loans taken from district cooperative central bank and primary societies for rabi crop. For construction or expansion of a rural house, 3 per cent interest will be waived on loan of upto Rs 2 lakh. Announcing two new schemes under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, he said 4 per cent interest subvention on loans upto Rs 9 lakh and 3 per cent on loan upto Rs 12 lakh.”The law will take its course with full force. The government will help the honest and protect them and see their difficulties are eased. How honest will gain from the government. This government is a friend of good people and wants to build on the good environment for the people to return to goodness,” he said.Perhaps the most surprising bit was PM’s refusal to say the word Mitron. Here’s how Twitter reacted to his speech:

Modi speech: Great expectations not belied but PM backs off from sharing details

It was Plato and Socrates more than Mark Anthony.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had this brilliant end of the year opportunity and he chose the sober road rather than raise the nation’s BP with shrill rhetoric.

It was more a lesson delivered than a soul-stirring speech.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTIPrime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

He did not get down and dirty and give us the brawl we wanted, the marching of the corrupt went missing. The script was far too mature and adult and cerebral to excite.

That is what his detractors will pick on.

As the sun slipped down for the last time in 2016 the tryst with India notwithstanding, a whole nation was more than just mad keen to know what he would say. This was the biggest show of the year.

But, in a lighter vein, Modi forgot to wish the nation a happy new year.

What magic did they expect at this fluid stage? Just because it was scheduled for new year’s eve does not give it a special dimension. Also, raising the pre-speech media hype was unfair and uncharitable.

Nothing changes tomorrow. People will live and die just like any other day. Consequently, to presume that Modi would give a road map with milestones was a bit much. He iterated the efforts of the past fifty days and heaped spoonfuls of praise on the public for joining in the battle.

Especially in assuaging the level of discomfort being admirably tolerated by his 1.2 billion mitrons.

He was unflappable. Chillingly blunt and so even-keeled that one wasn’t sure if it was the great orator or a subdued victor who has broken the back of corruption and is humble in that grasp on the laurel wreath.

Dropping the interest on low-cost housing was the first arrow to leave the quiver after the first twenty minutes of liquid sentiment.

We waited for more arrows and the praise for farmers came on the heels of informing us sans any date that the banks would get back to normal soon. How soon was left an open gate.

His new schemes were rural and based largely on reducing loan interests and giving the rural sector a boost with a 60-day payment vacation.

Modi segued from the praise phase into the rural phase with a call to co-operatives to ease their interest level and in the next 90 days three crore farmers would have the Kisan card changed to the Rupay card to make it easier for them to engage in transactions.

Several of the small scale industries would be given relief and those small businessmen would benefit loans on lesser interest.

If you add the several initiatives they come up to quite a bit. Women upliftment, maternity health schemes, senior citizens, all were given an honorable mention, each section of society being gently disarmed with gratitude and courtesy.

It was a great way to lay the groundwork for something more tangible after multiple references to marching ‘together’ and acknowledging the public agony for the past two months.

There was no glee, none of that public rally mocking undertone the Modi has begun to love so much.
Way ahead of the game without the theatrics he could have taken demonetization by the scruff of its neck and shaken the demon out of it.

It may have been a risk but an Act in which the monologue that covered the catching of the big fish, the bringing in of money from abroad, cleansing the corruption in the bureaucracy and the government, in politics and its nexus with the underworld, something for us to say, yes, the schemes are great and should have been there anyway, but what about telling us what tomorrow brings.

He set off on that angle with the announcement that only 2.4 million Indians earn 10 lakh plus a year and we thought okay, here it comes, the harsh stuff. But it did not. He warned bankers and officials indeed but non-specifically.

He could have shared with us why the RBI is being cagey and not transparent.

Shared with the people at least how exactly these lakhs of crores (different figures depending on who you are reading) have changed the fiscal landscape and what percentage of the underground, parallel economy has been wrecked.

This is it. We do not know. The media flings figures with dozens of zeros in them and yet nobody has told us in specific who is hurt, how many of the bad guys have fallen and has their nefarious system collapsed.

At the end of all this we want something to justify the long hours in the queue and the ongoing discomfort. And this was the missing vital element.

One Lodha, one lawyer called Tandon raided or placed in custody do not a summer make. These guys should have been caught anyway, not because of demonetisation but because they should have been on the radar of the authorities period.

Why were these income tax raids and all these sleuths not playing pink panther with the same gusto before 8 November.

Modi should have used today to come out swinging from his corner and telling the people of India that the sacrifice they made and are still making has begun to pay off.

And if he could tell them step by simple step how the exercise is paying off he could also have shared some of the dirt.

I think the figures are now becoming mythical and have no impact. Perhaps Modi felt the same way and decided to go for concrete steps he is taking rather than offer instant sops.

The abrupt ending and the sudden goodbye came as a surprise… we were looking for more.

But that is our problem, not his.

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 20:49 IST

Mamata so engrossed with chit funds,she can’t think beyond lotteries: Piyush Goyal slams BHIM criticism

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hiting back at West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for criticising the new BHIM app launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi , Power Minister Piyush Goyal on Saturday said she should think beyond her ‘own narrow interests.’Banerjee described the new Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) as a lottery app, named after BR Ambedkar by the Centre. Goyal urged the West Bengal Chief Minister to understand that this is for the benefit of the poor and the deprived section of the society. “I urge her to go beyond her own narrow interests and consider it at the national interest for a change,” he added.The Minister said the app has nothing to do with the Lucky Grahak or DigiDhan Vyapar Yojanas and explained that BHIM app, which was launched by Prime Minister Narenda Modi yesterday, is for digital payments.Banerjee had said that the app is a reflection of crude mentality of the Centre and it insults the backward classes. “This app has nothing to do with the Lucky Grahak or DigiDhan Vyapar Yojanas. Mamataji is so engrossed and involved with lotteries and chit funds that she cannot see beyond lotteries,” Goyal told PTI.The Minister was of the view that the app will strengthen the digital payments infrastructure in the country. The UPI & USSD modes of payment for transacting business, and for paying for goods and services, will be made simpler, more robust and secure through this app, he said. “We are delighted that Bharat Ratna Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar’s name has been associated with this app,” he added. Elaborating further, Goyal said: I do hope that Mamataji will get out of her phobia of attacking everything that Prime Minister does for sensationalising things”.

Mulayam reinstates Akhilesh Yadav: Amar Singh hails decision, says conspiracy to break party ‘failed’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh hailed SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav’s decision to revoke expulsion of his son Akhilesh Yadav and brother Ramgopal as the right thing and said the conspiracy to break the party and the family has “failed”.”Mulayam Singhji has done the right thing. He has given a message through his decision that he will not let either the Samajwadi Party or his family break till he is alive. The conspiracy of the people who wanted the party and the family to break has failed,” he said.Singh also clarified that he does not want to break the party.Congratulating Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and SP General Secretary Ramgopal Yadav, he said, “Those who had this misconception that I will try to break the party, I would like to tell them that I am not here to break the party. instead I want to keep it united.””If somebody is still hurt due to me, I want to tell that I am ready to sacrifice myself to ensure unity in SP pariwar and the workers,” he said.”We have to fight the communal forces and ensure that secular front is victorious in the upcoming elections,” Singh added.Earlier in the day, when Amar Singh was asked about the crisis in the party after supremo Mulayam Singh expelled Akhilesh and Ramgopal for six years after they put up candidates against the official nominees and summoned a party meet on Sunday.Amar had said, “The foundation of this party was laid by Mulayam Singh with much dedication and hard work. I have said this earlier and will say it now, that Mulayam Singh is the chief of SP and the father of Akhilesh Yadav as well,” he said.Mulayam had yesterday said he had taken the action against Akhilesh and Ramgopal to save the party which he had built through hard efforts.”We have to save the party. The party comes first. That is why we are expelling both Akhilesh and Ramgopal,” he had said.He explained that the decision was taken after Ramgopal, in his capacity as general secretary, called an emergency meeting of the party on January 1 and Akhilesh “supported” it.Ramgopal called the meeting after a showcause notice was issued to him and Akhilesh by Mulayam for releasing a list of candidates, parallel to the one issued officially by Mulayam.

Rahul Gandhi submits charter of demands to Modi, wants all restrictions on cash withdrawals gone

New Delhi: Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi put forth a charter of demands to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking him to lift restrictions on cash withdrawals immediately and pay Rs 25,000 to every family below the poverty line.

Rahul Gandhi. PTIRahul Gandhi. PTI

Rahul Gandhi. PTI

Gandhi took to Twitter to highlight his demands ahead of Modi’s second television address to the nation on Saturday, after his surprise 8 November announcement, where he announced the demonetisation of Rs 1,000 and old Rs 500 currency notes.

The Congress vice-president, a staunch critic of the government’s decision to demonetise the notes, listed out his eight demands to Modi as the 50-day period asked by the prime minister to normalise the situation expired on Friday. and there still isn’t seem to have some issues with the availability of notes.

He has dubbed the move the single most arbitrary decision in the history of the world affecting 1.3 billion people. Besides asking Modi to “lift restrictions on withdrawal of money with immediate effect”, Gandhi demanded the prime minister to deposit Rs 25,000 in the account of one woman in each Below Poverty Line (BPL) family.

He advocated immediately abolishing charges on digital transactions and called for income and sales taxes rebate of 50 percent to small-scale shopkeepers and businesses. Gandhi demanded the prime minister to compensate all bank account holders with special interest rate at 18 percent per annum for the “time restrictions are in place”.

He also urged doubling of number of guaranteed workdays and wage rate under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment
Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) for a year and a special one-time bonus of 20 per cent over and above the Minimum Support Price
(MSP) of all rabi crops.

Another of his demands was that rate of ration under public distribution system (PDS) be halved for a year under the provision of Food Security Act. In one of his tweets, Gandhi said, “Destroyed in the last 50 days: trust in the Prime Minister’s word. Weekly cash withdrawal limits must go.”

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 17:30 IST

Demonetisation: The objective of accountability behind the ordinance extinguishing old notes

What was the agenda behind the cabinet approval for promulgating of an ordinance extinguishing the Reserve Bank of India’s liability for cancelled Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes? Was it a mere fulfilment of legal formality so as to prevent chances of someone claiming his right to encash disbanded notes on the basis of a promise to pay the bearer? If it was to fulfil only mere legal formalities, then the obvious question will be on what basis circulation of these very currency notes were made illegal with effect from 8 November midnight? Being a layman in legal matters, I leave it to the concerned experts to ponder over it.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

What else could be the motive behind the move now? Out of Rs 15.4 lakh crore scrapped currency notes, already Rs 14 lakh crore, which is a whopping 90.9 percent, have already come back to the banking system. By any standard, the current step is a major success, one aimed at making unaccounted income accountable. This is a clear indication of the grip of the incumbent government. It also indicates how seriously people take decisions initiated by the prime minister.

Assuming that still around Rs 1 lakh crore do not get accounted, nobody would have shown guts to claim its value merely on the basis of promise to pay the bearer. That would have remained as mere pieces of paper. At the most, these scrapped notes would have got the honour of getting exhibited under palliate clubs. Anyway, the government’s treasury would have got enriched by an amount equivalent to unclaimed part of scrapped currency notes which may not be more than five percent of the scrapped notes.

What could be the hidden agenda? What would be implications of the ordinance? It definitely reflects determination of the prime minister to tackle menace of black money for which he was given mandate by the people. Among those who declared their income, there will be those who end up paying penalty for not filing returns on time. At the most, their social image may get tarnished. But they don’t have alternate escape route under the determined government.

Who are these persons who don’t mind their ill-gotten wealth getting drained away? Obviously, these are the persons who simply cannot afford to declare their income and pay penalty as other simpletons have done. In this case, resolving of one problem means getting trapped into a much more dangerous web. How can corrupt politicians and bureaucrats declare black money and get away by simply paying penalty? Instead of resolving the problem, it would lead them into a deeper trap. It would automatically lead to investigation about sources of their income. They would end up accepting bribe which means likely end of their career and jail term.

It also has to do with nature of the person called Narendra Modi. Once he takes initiative to reach the target, he is known for trying to achieve it at any cost and go forward with the killing spirit. Perhaps the prime minister is determined to clean up the entire political spectrum and government machinery without sparing anybody. In the process, he may have to sacrifice many of his own colleagues apart from taking on political opponents. No doubt, it is really a bold step. It looks like the prime minister is aware of tremendous risk involved. His real support and strength in this fight against black money is from common men. Despite facing hardship of standing in queues for hours together, they still stand by the Prime Minister. In fact, the measure initiated by the prime minister to tackle black money has become a true people’s movement today. Any movement blessed by people is bound to be a success despite numerous hurdles.

(Dr Jagadish Shettigar is a former member of Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council and currently, Economics Professor at Birla Institute of Management Technology, Greater Noida.)

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 17:25 IST

Last minute patch-up in feud-ridden SP; Akhilesh Yadav, Ram Gopal back

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After a massive show of strength by Akhilesh Yadav, who was expelled from SP by father Mulayam Singh Yadav, the party supremo on Saturday backed down revoking with immediate effect the expulsion orders of his son and brother Ram Gopal.After hectic confabulations involving Akhilesh Yadav’s warring uncle Shivpal Yadav, Mulayam and the Chief Minister, Shivpal tweeted that on the SP supremo’s directive, expulsion of Akhilesh and Ram Gopal Yadav from SP was being revoked with immediate effect. “I am coming after having met party chief Mulayam Singh along with CM Akhilesh Yadav. Netaji has given the order that the suspension orders of Akhilesh and Ram Gopal are terminated with immediate effect,” Shivpal said. “All of us together will fight communal forces and we will once again form a SP government in UP with full majority. These are my orders. We will hold discussions within ourselves and decide, and prepare for the upcoming elections,” he said. “All matters have been solved and we will fight the upcoming polls together. We will all sit togther with Netaji and I am sure all problems will be resolved,” he said. On a day of fast-paced developments, Akhilesh earlier in the day convened a meeting of SP legislators where over 200 of the 229 party MLAs turned up expressing their loyalty with the chief minister, a day after he was expelled from the party for indulging in “indiscipline”, pushing the ruling party to the precipice of a vertical split.Some SP MLCs and senior party functionaries loyal to Akhilesh also attended the meeting at the chief minister’s official residence at 5-Kalidas Marg.Senior SP leader and UP cabinet minister Azam Khan then arrived at the CM’s residence and after a brief stay, they drove to Mulayam’s bungalow at a stone’s throw distance.

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

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

Army chief’s appointment: Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi breaks silence, says won’t resign

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Eastern Army Commander Lt. Gen. Praveen Bakshi finally broke silence on his resignation on Saturday. “I won’t resign. Extending all support to Lt. Gen. Bipin Rawat,” Lt. Gen. Bakshi said, while addressing the officers of Eastern Command via teleconference.This statement by the Lt. Gen. Bakshi comes in the wake of rumours and speculations doing the rounds that he might resign after being superseded by Lt. Gen. Bipin Rawat as the Army Chief.However, the Defence Ministry is yet to consider Lt. Gen. Bakshi’s name for the post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) that could happen in the coming year.Lt. Gen. Bakshi is likely to meet Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in January. Sources in the ministry say Lt. Gen. Bakshi could be offered an appointment outside of the military. Lt. Gen. Bakshi was to be leave till January 1. He joined office on Saturday at the Fort William, the army’s Eastern Command Headquarters.

Day after expulsion, Akhilesh Yadav holds meeting, majority of MLAs present

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Setting the stage for a show of strength, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, who was expelled from Samajwadi Party by his father and SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, on Saturday held a meeting at his residence where a majority of the 229 party MLAs were presentThough the exact number of those present at the meeting was not immediately known, insiders maintained that a majority of the 229 SP MLAs were present. Besides, some SP MLCs and senior party functionaries loyal to Akhilesh attended the meeting. Akhilesh is expected to meet his supporters and party workers later in the day to prove his strength.The chief minister’s 5-Kalidas Marg residence appeared to be the hub of high drama with youth supporters of Akhilesh assembling in large numbers to vent their fury over his expulsion and that of his uncle Ram Gopal Yadav.Political activities heated up right from the morning with a series of meetings planned during the day, when Mulayam will meet party candidates announced by him and state SP chief Shivpal Yadav, the warring uncle of Akhilesh.Meanwhile, Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh today termed the crisis in the party as “unfortunate” and asked party members to support Mulayam in the family feud. “I appeal to the party members to stand with Netaji (Mulayam). Whatever is happening is very unfortunate,” Amar, who had recently made a comeback to the party after a long exile, said. Mulayam had yesterday expelled his son Akhilesh and Ram Gopal from SP for six years after they put up candidates against the official nominees and summoned a party meet tomorrow, pushing the ruling party to the precipice of a split just ahead of the UP Assembly elections likely to be announced any day now. Mulayam had said he took the action against Akhilesh and Ram Gopal to save the party which he had built through hard efforts. “We have to save the party. The party comes first. That is why we are expelling both Akhilesh and Ram Gopal ,” he said.He explained that the decision was taken after Ram Gopal , in his capacity as general secretary, called an emergency meeting of the party on January 1 and Akhilesh “supported” it.

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

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

Demonetisation: Rs 4,500 per day ATM limit is of little help when 2/3 machines run dry

ATMs will dispense a maximum Rs 4,500 per day per account holder beginning 1 January, said a circular from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Friday. Friday marked the end of the 50-day period Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised he will take to bring back normalcy after the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes on 9 November. Earlier, daily limit was Rs 2,500 per day. An enhanced limit is a relief for citizens and will help to shorten queues further, but only in areas where ATMs are dispensing cash.

The problem is only a third of the total ATMs in the country (around 2 lakh) are dispensing cash and most of them are in urban centres with the periphery areas continuing to run dry, according to reports (read here and here). In other words, the enhanced ATM withdrawal limits would not help the people in non-metros much.

PTI file photoPTI file photo

PTI file photo

Banks are unable to fill their ATMs on account of an acute cash shortage, especially lower denomination notes that is persisting even after 50 days of demonetisation and the situation is unlikely to get better soon, said a few bankers this writer spoke to.

“We are looking at February-March before things become normal,” said one of the bankers. This is the reason banks have asked the government to extend the curbs on cash withdrawals beyond 30 December till the time there is adequate quantity of new currency infused in the banking system. Ultimately, it is the banker who has to face the angry customer.

The RBI has retained the weekly cash withdrawal limit of Rs 24,000. But, the problem is that banks are unable to honor even that amount and the customer is forced to often settle for what is available at the moment at the bank counter. Of course, this situation will ease further in the weeks ahead, but much depends on the ability of government mints to churn out sufficient units of new currency. Until 19 December, the RBI has infused Rs 5.92 lakh crore of currencies into the system, which is less than half of what the public has deposited in the form of invalidated notes (Rs 12.44 lakh crore as on 10 December).

On Friday, PM Modi launched a new payment app, BHIM, that allows anyone to transfer money to any bank accounts. The PM stressed on the need to embrace cashless payment modes at the earliest and elaborated on the incentives government planning to encourage individuals and merchants using electronic payment modes. A change into cashless economy is indeed good in an aspiring economy and government initiatives, such as UPI-supported BHIM app, are helpful to facilitate such a migration.

But, Modi’s immediate challenge remains to 1) normalise the cash situation in the economy; and 2) give a convincing cost-benefit analysis of the demonetisation exercise to 125 crore Indians. Modi has a major task of justifying his act that has pushed the economy into an economic standstill and has caused gross inconvenience to a large number of the population due to the lack of preparedness of the government to implement the currency swap.

When PM address the nation on the New Year Eve, there are questions he’ll need to answer on how did the note ban help the country to achieve the originally stated goals — black money, fake currency, corruption and terror funding. Also, most critically, the general public would expect clarity from the PM on when the cash crunch will end. The 50 days the PM sought has, for sure, eased the pain to an extent, but has not ended the cash crunch.

Another question the PM owes answer is clarity on the political funding. Though his government has repeatedly assured that rules will be same for all, there is lack of clarity on political funding since the government also says that provisions of existing laws will continue.

This would means that political parties will enjoy certain immunity from tax scrutiny since cash donations below Rs 20,000 do not require the source to be revealed. Can Modi score a point by stating that the government will work towards the necessary changes in laws to make all political donations through digital mode? If yes, that’ll be much bigger catalyst in the process of creating a cashless economy than announcing lucky draws.

For now, when the PM addresses the nation on the eve of new year, the big question common man probably would want to ask the PM is how long the current cash shortage will continue.

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 11:28 IST

Akhilesh Yadav chairs meeting with all SP MLAs

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Expelled Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav chaired a meeting of Samajwadi Party MLAs at 9 am on Saturday at his official residence.Mulayam Singh yesterday expelled Akhilesh and National General Secretary Ram Gopal Yadav from the party for six years over indiscipline late on Friday night. “I solely founded the party, what is their (Akhilesh and Ram Gopal) contribution? They are destroying the party,” he said. “To save the party, we have expelled both Ram Gopal and Akhilesh Yadav for six years from the party. No one has the right to call for a national executive meeting other than the party chief, and by doing this, you (Akhilesh and Ram Gopal) have hurt the party’s interest,” Mulayam told media here. “I will decide as to who will be the chief ministerial candidate of the party,” he insisted.This move comes after Akhilesh had released a list of 235 candidates out of the total 403 seats for upcoming state assembly elections on Thursday, rejecting the list announced by Mulayam Singh Yadav on Wednesday. “We have declared a list of 325 candidates for the 2017 assembly polls; 78 seats still remain. Names of the candidates for the rest of the 78 seats will be announced soon,” Mulayam had said on Wednesday. Akhilesh’s name did not figure in the first list. Mulayam said his son being the chief minister, can contest from any assembly seat he wishes to.

Newsroom diaries 2016: Marathwada, elections, Olympics, demonetisation and how we covered them

This past week Facebook has resounded with plangent laments about the year that will not end.

Most timelines are lengthy dirges punctuated with cries of cashlessness, Aleppolessness, musiclessness and Baracklessness. Annus horribilis is the Latinate of choice.

There hasn’t been a better year for journalism in recent history. The sordidness of 2016 has presented our estate with sufficient opportunities to peel open and consider the human condition. It has allowed us to recount such stories that newsmen and women don’t often get to tell. This is especially true for a band of journalists relaying reports, opinion and analysis from a newsroom freed of the constraints that tie down a print publication — no curbs on article length, supporting media, revisions and improvements, narrative possibilities, and so on.

Firstpost is one such outfit.

The Firstpost newsroomThe Firstpost newsroom

The Firstpost newsroom

Four stories we’ve reported in the past year should serve to showcase the breadth of material (and digital reporting opportunities) 2016 has provided the Firstpost newsroom.

The first came early when a visiting former chief minister of Maharashtra told us of the seriousness of drought conditions in Marathwada. We dispatched three writers to the region, each equipped with a small camera — none had used one in the course of reporting — to record the extent of damage. The series that resulted from their month-long journey, encrusted as it was with rich media, helped set the general course of debate on state intervention and the failure of successive governments in instituting any lasting solutions to address water scarcity in Marathwada.

In preparing for elections held to elect members to five state Assemblies, in May, we resolved to replicate a television newsroom online; in-studio political analysts, an anchor, multiple video and audio feeds from the five states, data visualisation, combined with on-ground reportage, gathered by writers applying — many of them for the first time — the fundamental tenets of print journalism to digital storytelling methods.

Soon after, the sports desk — frugally peopled — came up against the Rio Olympics, which afforded them the chance to run one of the lengthiest live blogs Firstpost has operated thus far, spanning 16 days, book-ended by the two ceremonies at the Maracana Stadium.

The fourth story is a biphonic texture of two stories that occurred almost simultaneously, over the course of 24 hours, beginning 8 November: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise announcement that 86 percent of currency in circulation would be rendered invalid in 50 days‘ time, and an election in the US that advanced the likelihood of an orange-haired real estate huckster with tenuous grasp of policy occupying the Oval Room.

Both offered Firstpost the occasion to set off a lengthy, live, accretive discourse drawn from analysis that combined text, video and audio; we hadn’t embedded such a large volume of fragmentary opinion pieces in live blogs until then. The election allowed us to build on what we’d learnt in May — we ran an eight-hour broadcast on the website, with commentators weighing in live from Toronto, New Orleans, New York, Delhi, Dubai and Mumbai.

And from all accounts, those last two stories have yet to coil themselves to a close.

The fading days of 2016 could well serve as prologue for the year before us.

A newsroom is made not by the technology or resources at its disposal, but by those who inhabit it. For a more personalised view on the experiences of various members of the Firstpost newsroom while covering specific stories, check out the following accounts:

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 08:51 IST

Demonetization will cause 1.5% GDP loss

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

Arunachal strife: PPA says Pario to be CM, BJP claims Khandu has numbers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As a politically tumultuous year in Arunachal Pradesh came to an end, the stage was set for another turmoil in the state assembly.Amidst reports that the ruling People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA) had announced that Takam Pario would take over as Chief Minister, the BJP ruled out any change in the top post saying Pema Khandu had the backing of a majority of MLAs.Khandu’s term seemed set to be cut short on Thursday night when his party suspended him, his deputy Chowna Mein and five other MLAs allegedly for anti-party activities. However, uncertainty continued on Friday as fissures within the PPA surfaced.”It was a failed coup by the Takam Pario group. Khandu has the backing of 33 of the 43 MLAs in the 60-member assembly,” BJP state president Tapir Gao told DNA. Besides, the BJP’s 12 MLAs and two independents are also backing Khandu, taking the total to 47.The BJP, which was an ally of the PPA, made it clear that it would support Khandu, and that there would be status quo in Arunachal Pradesh assembly.Government spokeperson Bamang Felix said 35 of the 43 PPA MLAs have reposed faith in Khandu’s leadership. “Everything is going normally as usual and the Chief Minister is still enjoying absolute majority,” he said.However, a section of PPA chose Pario, the richest MLA in the assembly, as its candidate to replace Khandu, who left the Congress in September and joined PPA. Party president Kahfa Bengia said Pario will be the next CM.Bengia said the party will now go to any length to ensure that they are in power. “Khandu and some MLAs were plotting to become turncoats by joining the BJP by January 15. The next few days will be crucial; if Khandu’s faction does something unconstitutional, we will take a legal recourse and revoke them from the party,” Bengia said over the phone from Itanagar.The PPA, the only regional party in the state, is an alliance partner in the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA). The state has seen three different chief ministers in 2016.The political turf war began when Congress dissidents revolted against Nabam Tuki when he was chief minister. Congress rebel Kalikho Pul became CM with the support of 11 BJP MLAs. The Congress moved Supreme Court which restored Tuki government, only to be in power for a short term as he did not have the majority. However, MLAs backed Khandu instead of Pul, who committed suicide following which his wife won the election as BJP candidate.

Apologise for ‘blunder of demonetization’: Kejriwal attacks PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to tender an apology to the people during his address to the nation on New Year’s Eve on what he said was a “blunder of demonetization”.Kejriwal, also the national convener of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which governs Delhi, said Modi has committed a blunder by demonetizing high-value notes and pushed India into a deep economic crisis.”Modi had demanded 50 days to implement the exercise, but there’s no sign of people recovering from its after shocks,” he said and demanded a roll back, suggesting that Modi should make an announcement in this regard in his address on Saturday.”There’s no solution other than rolling back demonetization,” the former Income Tax department official told reporters. Alleging that the RBI was “tight-lipped” on the amount of money demonetized or black money recovered, he asked the prime minister to explain how much of illegal wealth has returned and what amount of money was being pumped into the system.Initial estimates by RBI suggest Rs 14 lakh crore (in high-value notes) was in circulation, which has returned to RBI, but only Rs 4 lakh crore of new currency of Rs 2,000 notes was available for circulation, said Kejriwal, who had criticised the drive soon after it was launched on November 8.Financial experts all across the world have spoken against demonetization, he said, but only BJP president Amit Shah and “his team of sycophants” were hailing the decision. He also challenged the prime minister to order “any probe” against him. “I am not scared of Modi threats and open to any probe of my accounts by any central agency,” he said.Kejriwal maintained that Modi accepted bribes from big corporates such as Sahara and Birla.Modi had taken Rs 40 crore from Sahara on October 30, 2013 and Rs 25 crore from Birla group on November 12, 2013, he claimed, adding that the IT department has seized relevant documents from Sahara and Birla offices but no notice was issued to Modi.He said under the IT Act section 132(4A), any document recovered during raid is deemed to be true unless proved wrong by the party accused. “Not even a notice was issued to Modi and all Income Tax Commissioners dealing with the case were transferred,” he said.

11 miners dead in Lalmatia colliery mishap in Jharkhand, rescue operations to resume Sat morning

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ten miners were killed and an unspecified number feared trapped when a massive mound of earth came crashing down on them at Lalmatia open cast coal mine of Eastern Coalfields Ltd (ECL) Thursday night, the worst such disaster in over a decade.Heavy machinery was deployed as rescuers, including those from the NDRF, toiled through the day extricating bodies and looking for survivors. “Unfortunately the casualties have increased from seven in the morning to 10,” the coal ministry said in a statement.”Rescue teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Eastern Coalfields Ltd (ECL)/Bharat Coking Coal Ltd (BCCL), state government and experts have been continuously carrying out rescue work at the accident site of ECL’s Rajmahal Open Cast Expansion Project in district Godda, Jharkhand,” the statement said.Central Mine Planning and Design Institute (CMPDIL, the consultancy arm of Coal India Ltd., has deployed magneto meters along with imaging system for locating magnetic and conductive material up to a depth of 80 meters, the statement said.R R Mishra, officiating CMD of ECL, a Coal India subsidiary, said that the incident occurred at around 7:30 pm last night when excavators were working there following which rescue operations was launched immediately.Senior officials of Director General of Mines Safety (DGMS) have arrived at the site and launched an inquiry.All 10 excavators and dump trucks which were swamped under the debris have been recovered. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Coal Minister Piyush Goyal, Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das and other leaders have expressed grief over the loss of lives.”Saddened by the loss of lives at a mine in Jharkhand. My prayers are with those trapped inside. Spoke to CM Raghubar Das on the situation,” Modi said on twitter.Das said an assistance of Rs two lakh will be given to the families of the miners who died in the accident, while ECL also announced an ex-gratia compensation of Rs five lakh each to these families, in addition to the amount to be paid under the Workmen’s Compensation Act.14 miners were killed at Central Saunda coal mine in Ramgarh district of Jharkhand in August 2005. The country’s worst mining disaster had occurred at Chasnala in Dhanbad district in the then Bihar state in 1975 in which 375 lives were lost.

Chhattisgarh: BJP registers victory in municipal council polls

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP on Friday registered victory in the Bhilai-Charoda municipal corporation and Sarangarh municipal council polls putting to rest speculation that demonetisation would impact party’s prospects in the recently held civic elections in Chhattisgarh.”BJP’s nominee Chandrakanta Mandle won the mayor’s seat in Bhilai-Charoda, defeating Congress candidate Jyoti Banjare by a margin of 4922 votes,” a state election official said. Mandle received 27,184 votes followed by Banjare in the second position of the tally with 22,262 votes, he added.Likewise, BJP’s Amit Agrawal defeated Congress’ Suraj Tiwari for the post of president of Sarangarh Municipal Council by 1096 votes. Agrawal secured 6221 votes, while Tiwari got 5125 votes.BJP put up a good show in Bhilai-Charoda winning 16 out of 40 wards (for corporators) while the main Opposition Congress managed to get 13 and remaining 11 went to Independent candidates.Besides, BJP also won byelection held in four wards for corporators and Independent candidates emerged victorious in 2 wards (by-poll).”The victory clearly indicates that it is peoples’ stamp of approval for demonetisation decision of Prime Minister. It is also a signal that people of the state will bring BJP to power for the fourth consecutive time in the next 2018 assembly election,” state BJP chief Dharamlal Kaushik told reporters.The victory that came on the 50th day of demonetisation brought cheer to Chief Minister Raman Singh led BJP who had suffered a setback in the urban body election for 10 municipal corporations held in 2014-15.Congress had won four out of 10 corporations then while the ruling BJP was reduced to four, two less from previous time in that election.Besides, rest of the two seats were won by Independent candidates.

Living in denial? Mamata Banerjee says no communal clashes in Dhulagarh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today said no communal clash took place at Dhulagarh in Howrah district and termed it as “local problem”. “It is a small matter. It is a local problem. That was not a communal problem. I will stick to police’s version,” she told mediapersons at the state secretariat. Earlier in the day the Chief Minister denied any incident of rioting at Dhulagarh and alleged that “wrong information” was being given on social media. “In the last 15 days, social media is running wrong information on an incident which did not take place at all,” Banerjee said at a programme here in an apparent reference to reports of violence earlier this month at Dhulagarh, which is barely 20 km from the state secretariat.”In order to break news one must not act irresponsibly. If something has really happened then you (media) have every right to report it but I think a field survey must be done,” she said.Her remarks came even as a senior government official had yesterday said strict actions were taken against those involved in the Dhulagarh violence and the process of giving compensation to the affected has started.The state government, Banerjee said today, is the first to help a family when their home is damaged or they are affected.”If there is an accident, we immediately take steps to help the family…. We do it on humanitarian grounds but we do not do any publicity,” she said.District police said inhabitants are wary of returning to their homes at Dhulagarh. Delegations of BJP, CPI(M) and Congress were stopped from visiting the troubled areas of the district and police superintendent of Howrah (Rural) Sabyasachi Raman Mishra was transferred in the wake of violence within less than a fortnight of his appointment.BJP has hit out at Banerjee over the Dhulagarh incident.”This is height of politics of appeasement. I want to ask those intellectuals, who cried over 2002 riots in Gujarat and then intolerant India, that when are they going to Kolkata,” Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had said yesterday. Earlier, a non-bailable warrant was filed against Zee News reporters by the government of West Bengal for covering the Dhulagarh riots, claimed Zee News editor Sudhir Chaudhury.. He had written on Twitter: “@MamataOfficial Govt files FIR against me& @ZeeNews reporter for covering #DhulagarhRiots with Non Bailable sections. FIR for showing truth?”Zee News Chief Editor Sudhir Chaudhary wrote on Facebook: “ Just to inform all of you Mamta Banerjee Govt has filed an FIR against me and ZeeNews reporter Pooja Mehta and cameraperson Tanmay Mukherjee for covering Dhulagarh Riots on Zee News.The FIR has non bailable sections which is enough to gauge their intentions to arrest me and my colleagues. Pooja Mehta is just 25 and got the taste of Mamta’s intolerance so early in life in the form of a non bailable FIR.This is what a young girl reporter getting to learn from a woman chief minister who claims to be the champion of democracy.It’s another low point in our democracy to see a democratically elected govt using police force to curb media in an effort to suppress uncomfortable facts and reality.When you can’t manage media,use the state machinery to conquer the media only to conceal the failures of your administration. It shows the intolerance of a chief minister who is using the state machinery as her personal fiefdom and acting like a feudal lord. I see the positive side of this blunder as a window for all free minds of this nation to act and show fascist forces their actual place. Or once again Selfish Politics will prevail? That’s my fear. #IntolerantMamta”On December 13, clashes between two communities erupted following the Milad-ul-Nabi celebrations in Dhulagarh. Locals in the village alleged that ‘unprovoked’ clashes erupted after an infuriated mob in a procession of Milad-ul-Nabi celebrations started charging bombs at the houses. However, members in the procession allege that they were prevented from taking out the procession, following which violent clashes broke out.A week after clashes erupted in Howrah district’s Dhulagarh, the Bengal governor Keshari Nath Trpathi summoned Bengal Director General of Police (DGP), Surajit Kar Purkayastha on Thursday. This comes a day after BJP Rajya Sabha MP Roopa Ganguly led a delegation and met the victims of Dhulagarh incident.Disclaimer: Zee News is DNA’s sister organisation.

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee denies rioting in Dhulagarh, blames social media

Kolkata: West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday denied any incident of rioting at Dhulagarh in Howrah district and alleged that “wrong information” was being given on social media.

“In the last 15 days, social media is running wrong information on an incident which did not take place at all,” Banerjee said at a programme in Kolkata, in an apparent refernce to the reports of violence in Dhulagarh, which is barely 20 km from the state secretariat.

“In order to break a news one must not act irresponsibly. If something has really happened then you (media) have every right to report but I think a field survey must be conducted,” she stated.

File photo of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. PTI

File photo of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. PTI

Her remarks came even as a senior government official had said on Thursday that strict actions were taken against those involved in the Dhulagarh violence and the process of giving compensation to the affected had started. The state government, Banerjee said on Friday, is the first to help a family when their home is damaged or they are affected.

“If there is an accident, we immediately take steps to help the family…. We do it on humanitarian grounds but we do not do any publicity.”

It was learnt from sources that the state government was paying compensation of around Rs 35,000 to families whose houses were damaged in the incident.

District police said inhabitants are wary of returning to their homes at Dhulagarh.

Delegations of BJP, CPI(M) and Congress were stopped from visiting the troubled areas of the district and police superintendent of Howrah (Rural) Sabyasachi Raman Mishra was transferred in the wake of violence in less than a fortnight of his appointment.

BJP has hit out at Banerjee over the Dhulagarh incident claiming that Hindus have been targeted in the violence. “This is height of the politics of appeasement. I want to ask those intellectuals, who cried over 2002 riots in Gujarat and then intolerant India, that when are they going to Kolkata,” Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Thursday.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 16:52 IST

Exclusive | After Modi took office, there are fewer communal clashes, focus on development: Venkaiah Naidu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Has demonetization served its purpose of taking out black money from the system?Yes, it has done so. It is a vaccine against the scam and it has done the job.Critics say that a large amount of black money is abroad and not in India and all cash is not black.This is wrong to say that most of the black money is stashed abroad. You may recall that the first decision taken was constituting an SIT to find the black money stashed abroad. Secondly, we also came out with a bill in Parliament on the funds stashed abroad. Then we took initiative in G20 and followed it up by entering into the agreement on multiple avoidance tax treaty with Mauritius and Cyprus, which we then followed up with Switzerland and then with the US on FETA. PM has been consistent. PM also gave time to Indian people to declare the money. He has been doing things systematically. The black money is now in the open and this is the biggest achievement. Every rupee is being accounted for. There will be scrutiny.The scheme caused public inconvenience. Was it avoidable?It was not possible. It was like a cancer spread into the country. The entire system was affected. Serious action was required. In 1971, the former finance minister YB Chavan recommended demonetization. Justice Wanchoo committee also recommended it. The Congress didn’t act upon it. In the 1980s, the bill on benami transactions was passed but the government did not notify it. We did it. In 2012, the Supreme Court of India directed the government to form a mechanism to bring back black money. This government did it. UPA slept over it. One after another, there were reminders. This chemotherapy has been administered. Some people are complaining that it will lead to hair fall. So one has to choose whether you want hair fall or one wants to fall itself. People welcomed it as a gamechanger. People wanted drastic action and we have done it. We have 130 crore population. We had a parallel economy, drug mafia, a high number of fake notes and a neighbour that promotes terror etc. Everywhere black money was prevalent. We delivered a death blow and that is why there is so much hue and cry. I admit that there is an inconvenience. It might continue for few more days because people are used to cash. Arrangements could not be made because advance information could not be given. It is a temporary pain for long term gain.When will the caps go? When do we expect the liquidity to return to normal?PM has already assured that pain will be eased step by step.On this issue, the Opposition did not allow the Parliament to function. Do you expect demonetization to cast its shadow on the Budget Session as well?I hope it doesn’t happen. Parliament is to debate and discuss, which could not happen. At the end, the Opposition wanted a debate but early on they avoided the debate and disrupted (it). Then they went to the President. The government was willing and PM was ready to intervene and respond. In fact, the debate had started and Opposition had fielded Anand Sharma, Pramod Tiwari and Manmohan Singh. They fielded him as the third candidate but that is the choice of the party. Mayawati, Ram Gopal Yadav, Piyush Goel and others spoke, including me, but they changed the goal posts and asked for the Prime Minister. PM came but (they) didn’t allow the house to function. They lost a golden opportunity for a debate. It was a proper forum to highlight the issue, but they missed it.There is a perception that senior leaders of BJP and Congress don’t talk, unlike in the days when Vajpayee was Prime Minister?Everyone has a different style. Vajpayee’s style is different, Modi’s style is different and then Nehru, Indira and Rajiv had a different style. PM told the Opposition that we are ready for discussion but it didn’t happen. I know you have in mind what Advani ji said but I’m also sad and unhappy that Parliament wasn’t allowed to function. Then I always tell the Opposition, I propose, you oppose and let the House dispose.Rahul Gandhi has attacked PM on the issue of demonetization and Sahara papers. Your response?Rahul Gandhi is behaving in the most irresponsible and immature manner. My personal advice is that he should graduate himself, otherwise he would be failing himself and his party in the process. Personal criticism has been out of frustration. Congress has called Modi names. They called him maut ka saudagar, then Rahul Gandhi called him khoon ka dalali and then they called him Hitler, Mussolini, Gaddafi and former external affairs minister called him ‘impotent’. This has not helped them and their stature has gone down.The principal charge of the Opposition is that 50 odd families are being helped through the process of demonetization?Absurd and meaningless. They shouted these slogans in Parliament. Adani and Ambani. They said, “Modi hai hai”. I got up and told them, “Adani and Ambani, aapka meherbani”.Adani and Ambani were not born during Modi’s regime. They were born and brought up during Congress regime. Who are these 50 families and how did they prosper? 1.86 lakh crore of the bank money which has become NPA was all given during the Congress regime by these people. All the concession to Ambani and Adani was given during Congress regime. Now, in order to portray us as pro business and against poor people, they are shouting these slogans. We are different. We feel that both industry and agriculture is important to country’s interest. Each should be respected. (In) media, there is black sheep. Every sector has a black sheep. Take action against them. Vijay Mallya was given loans during Congress regime. The loans were restructured during Congress’ tenure. This will boomerang on them. These are cheap tactics.BJP in 2016 was able to make its presence felt in the Northeast by winning Assam. What are the prospects of the party in Uttar Pradesh?Absolutely. BJP is becoming a real all-India party. When I joined this party, people would make fun of me that I’m joining a Brahmin baniya, urban, North India party. Today, we have MPs throughout the country. We will win Karnataka. We have done well in Kerala. Our votes have gone up. In Tamil Nadu, we have prospects because of the vacuum and the demise of Amma. In UP, the stakes are high and we will come to Parliament. We got 71 seats in Lok Sabha. People have seen the performance of SP and BSP. The alternative is BJP.Doesn’t it worry you that demonetization might impact BJP adversely?That is what is being discussed by media. Going by the grassroots feedback, our appeal has increased. This is the feed back I’m getting from UP. Look at the result of Chandigarh. We got 20 seats. Chandigarh is a big city. People from UP and Bihar stay there. In Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan local body elections, we have done well. Even after demonetization.Prime Minister has invested his political capital in a scheme like demonetization. Do you think it was worth the risk?Yes, it was worth taking. We have not come to rule the country. We want to develop it. He is known for taking risks. He has taken it up as a challenge. He went for a surgical strike against our neighbour, who is interfering in our affairs. He is known for taking tough and bold decisions. He wants to improve the living condition of the people.Last year, the debate on nationalism and citizenship dominated universities and many areas of our society. In retrospect, how do you see it?What is wrong with discussing nationalism? Nation means people and people means all communities. It means all sections. It means Bharat Mata ki jai. It means Daliton ki jai, Christian ko jai, Jains ko jai, sabhi backwards ko jai. It encompasses every community. We should feel proud of it. Earlier, it was a curse to talk about nationalism. Now people feel proud and people talk about it. 122 countries have recognized yoga. There nothing wrong with it.Many scholars would say that there is a difference between ethnic and civic nationalism.Perverts. This because of 2000 years of foreign rule and Macaulay. This education system has gone into mind. The influence of socialist model has also affected us. People have change and the mandate has changed, but people in certain sections who were well entrenched, their minds have not changed. They have lost the battle but still holding key positions like media, also the so-called leftists and so-called progressives.There was a big clash in the Dhulagarh of West Bengal. Hundreds of shops were looted and people were thrown out of houses but so called secular media is neither reporting it nor discussing it. On the other hand, Zee TV has reported it prominently but an FIR has been launched against them. The so-called people sitting in the Lutyen’s Zone of Delhi, the big progressive people aren’t talking about it. Is talking about Hindus a crime in this country? This is perverted secularism and that is why people have rejected it. Secondly, the ultra-leftist people take up the issue of JNU and shout slogans about Hyderabad but society remains peaceful. Our image has improved. I don’t know why this perverted meaning is being given to Hindu. It is a way of life, not a religion. It is a way of living. We don’t want to discriminate against people on the basis of religion and race. After Modi’s coming in, there are less communal clashes and the focus is on development and good government. My opponents lost the elections badly and they have not been able to digest it. That is why they are attacking Modi personally and indulging in disinformation campaign.Lastly, did the surgical strike change the nature of play between Pakistan and India?I don’t think that Pakistan would understand but a message has gone. It was not for a political purpose but it became inevitable to show the world and to Pakistan that India is capable of retaliation. That has been done. It has raised the morale of the Indian armed forces and it has raised the morale of the Indian people living in India and also abroad.

Delhi Police battled controversies, cracked high-profile cases in 2016

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>From arresting three JNU students on charges of sedition to booking of several AAP MLAs, 2016 saw Delhi Police battling a series of controversies even as it cracked a number of high-profile cases, nabbed wanted terrorists and busted an espionage ring involving a Pakistan High Commission staffer.Crime against women continued to rise and a number of brutal rape and assault cases kept the police on its toes though it managed to solve some of them in quick time.In June, a multi-city kidney racket involving doctors and touts was busted by Delhi Police while it arrested Khalistan Liberation Front chief Harminder Singh Mintoo who had escaped from Nabha jail. A number of persons suspected to have links with ISIS and al Qaeda were also caught in the course of the year.Women safety in the national capital continued to be a cause of concern with 1,981 cases of rape being reported till November 30 even as police launched a number of initiatives to contain crime against women.The brutal stabbing of a 21-year-old girl in Burari in broad daylight in September by a man who was allegedly stalking her for several months, and the videos of the shocking incident left people horrified. In February, the arrest of JNU Students Union president Kanhaiya Kumar and two others on charges of sedition for allegedly organising an event against hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, triggered a huge controversy with Opposition political parties slamming police for “working at the behest of ruling BJP”.The arrest of Kumar catapulted him to national fame and resulted in students protests across the country. The arrests also led to a nationwide debate on nationalism. Police had also come under severe criticism following attacks on journalists and students and teachers of JNU at the Patiala House court by some lawyers just before Kanhaiya was to be produced.In October, JNU student Najeeb Ahmed went missing, a day after he was allegedly involved in a brawl with some students including ABVP activists, leading to an agitation with students alleging police inaction in tracing him. The uneasy relationship between the AAP government and Delhi Police continued this year as police arrested nine AAP MLAs, drawing angry reaction from the party with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal alleging the law enforcing agency was acting at the behest of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.The MLAs arrested are Dinesh Mohaniya, Prakash Karwal, Gulab Singh, Amanatullah Khan, Somnath Bharti, Rituraj Govind, Naresh Balyan, Sharad Chauhan and Jagdeep Singh and the charges ranged from rioting, outraging the modesty of woman, sexual harassment, criminal intimidation and assault.Sandeep Kumar, who was sacked as Cabinet Minister over an “objectionable” CD, was arrested on rape charges on the complaint of the woman who purportedly figured in the CD.The Anti-Corruption headed by Mukesh Kumar Meena, was also involved in a tussle with the AAP dispensation over registration of cases and questioning of AAP ministers and MLAs, including deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, Kapil Mishra, Gopal Rai, Amanatullah Khan.The brutal killing of a 23-year-old Congolese national by three youths following a brawl over hiring an auto-rickshaw in south Delhi in May made national headlines as the government rushed to assure the African community in India of their safety.Delhi Police’s Special Cell continued to clamp down on terror activities with the arrest of six people for suspected links with al Qaeda and ISIS.The year ended with them nabbing Mintoo, who had escaped from Nabha jail, from Nizamuddin railway station here.In October, the Crime Branch also busted an espionage ring with the arrest of four people who were allegedly sharing sensitive defence documents and deployment details of BSF along the Indo-Pak border with a Pakistan High Commission staffer.The staffer Mehmood Akhtar was later declared persona non-grata by the government and he had to leave the country.Following the demonetization of high-value currencies, police raided various areas across the city and recovered over Rs 17 crore in illegal cash.The year ended with a 20-year-old girl, who was on a job hunt, allegedly being raped in a car in South Delhi’s Moti Bagh area, a grim throwback to the horrific Delhi gangrape of a para-medic student in a moving bus four years ago.The alleged suicides by former Director General Corporate Affairs B K Bansal and his son in September, two months after his wife and daughter committed suicide, allegedly due to harassment by CBI, not only drew criticism for the premier investigating agency but also for police as it didn’t register any case despite the presence of purported suicide notes of Bansal and his son.The contentious case of Sunanda Pushkar didn’t see any headway for the second consecutive year even as police accepted that her death was not natural and questioned her husband Shashi Tharoor and Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar in February.Some of the other developments in the case included the formation of a medical board to study the FBI report, sending reminders to Canada to send details of deleted chats from Tharoor and Sunanda’s Blackberry phones, and Enforcement Directorate being requested to investigate the financial irregularities related to now-defunct Kochi IPL franchise.Some of the high-profile cases being investigated by Delhi Police included hacking of Twitter and email accounts of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and missing files concerning Ishrat Jahan encounter from MHA.The Crime Branch cracked down on the notorious red light G B Road in the heart of the city in August dismantling a vast human trafficking and prostitution racket, arresting the kingpin couple and their several accomplices.The suicide by an ex-serviceman close to Ministry of Defence building over the OROP issue kept police busy with many politicians raising the issue and slamming Modi government.As many as 3,400 personnel of paramilitary and Delhi Police were deployed at banks and ATMs across the national capital after serpentine queues led to law-and-order problem in some areas.In the new year, police envisages to modernise its operations and reduce burden on its more than 80,000 personnel by mulling over the possibility of introducing eight-hour shifts on the lines of its Mumbai counterpart.Delhi Police will also be setting up a separate control room for handling calls on phone number 112, which will be India’s equivalent of 911 of the US’ all-in-one emergency services, that will be rolled out from January 1 and the closure of 100 that is the go-to solution for people in distress.

Demonetisation Day 50: Feudal nature of criticising Modi is truly rotten, says NDTV’s Ravish Kumar

While it is true that demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes may not have led to the rosy picture which the central government had been painting till now, some of the criticism against the government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is truly rotten. And journalist Ravish Kumar hit the nail on the head in this op-ed piece in NDTV, where he writes about the feudal nature of the punishment which a section of people think the prime minister should face.

There have been a considerable number of cheap posts on social media which directly or indirectly talk about throwing shoes at the prime minister.

Kumar pointed out how wrong it was to use such language against any person by explaining how this was linked with casteism.

Senior journalist Ravish Kumar. Screengrab from YouTube video

Senior journalist Ravish Kumar. Screengrab from YouTube

“Hitting someone with a shoe is in principle anti-Dalit. If you investigate stories about hitting someone with a shoe, you will find that this sort of language was used only by those who were upper-caste. And this was done only against the Dalits or weaker sections of society. Hitting someone with a shoe is the language of hate. I hate the language of hate as much as I hate the politics of hate,” Kumar wrote in the article.

Kumar, the senior executive editor of NDTV India, added that it was also true that the prime minister may have himself encouraged mob mentality when he said that he would “willingly stand at any public square you select, and accept any punishment the country decides to give me…”

Ravish Kumar’s article raises a pertinent point: Criticism, even in its most severe form, is essential for democracy but any criticism which encourages violence, whether against the prime minister or the common man, is uncalled for.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 14:19 IST

Government notifies Disabilities Bill

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Government has notified the recently passed Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill which provides for reservation in government jobs for persons with benchmark disabilities from 3 to 4%, and in higher education institutes from 3 to 5%, Union Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot said on Friday.”The Bill was passed by Parliament in the winter session and then it was sent to the President for his assent. After the nod from the President, it was notified on Wednesday,” Union Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot said on the foundation day of the National Trust.On the occasion, Gehlot launched the mobile app and Facebook Page of the National Trust.”Through the app, information regarding the schemes and programmes will be disseminated. The Facebook page was launched with an aim to bring together all NGOs and organisation working in this field on the same platform,” Gehlot said.With the enforcement of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, every child with benchmark disability between the age group of 6 and 18 years will have the right to free education. The legislation has been made to bring Indian laws in line with the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities.Under the newly enacted Act, the types of disabilities have been increased from the existing seven to 21. The newly added types include mental illness, autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, chronic neurological conditions, specific learning disabilities, multiple sclerosis, speech and Language disability, thalassemia, hemophilia, sickle cell disease, multiple disabilities including deaf blindness, acid attack victims and Parkinsons disease.Also, disability has been defined based on an evolving and dynamic concept and government will have the power to add more types of disabilities.As per the Act, assaulting, insulting, intimidating, denying food to a person with disability or sexually exploiting a differently-abled woman and performing a medical procedure on such women without consent which may lead in termination of pregnancy will draw a jail term up to five years once the law is passed.Any person who contravenes any provision of the act will be punished with a maximum fine of Rs 5 lakh.

Demonetisation Day 50: Still too early to call it an ‘utter flop’ or ‘glorious success’

Maine sirf pachaas din maange hain… 30 December tak mujhe mauka dijiye…  Agar 30 December ke baad, koi meri kami rehjaye, koi meri galti nikal jaye, koi mera galat irada nikal jaye, aap jis chaurahe mein mujhe khada karenge, main khada hokarke desh jo saza karega, wo saza bhugatne ke liye taiyyar hoon (I have only asked for 50 days. Give me time till 30 December. After that, if any fault is found in my intentions or my actions, I am willing to suffer any punishment given by the country).

That’s what Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in Goa on 13 November five days after he demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. And three days before the 50-day period he sought was up, he delivered a judgement on himself when he said at an election rally in Dehradun on 27 December:

 “Through the note ban, in one stroke, we destroyed the world of terrorism, drug mafia, human trafficking and underworld...

 In an interview with India Today this week, he went a step further when he said:

 “Black money has all been forced out into the open, whomsoever it may belong to — whether it is corrupt politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen or professionals.”

Modi wants us to believe that he has delivered what he promised in the 50 days, and that his “safai abhiyan” (clean-up campaign) will go on.

I have no problem in confessing that I am not an economist. But I am aghast at the way some, like Modi himself, have concluded that this demonetisation is a huge, rip-roaring success that will rewrite the economics textbooks. On one hand, we have those who are singing paeans to Modi in praise of his “bold” war against black money. On the other hand, there are others who, at the very first sight of a long queue before an ATM, rubbished the whole thing as the stupidest thing any prime minister had ever undertaken on the planet since the invention of currency.

Most of those who resorted to the premature song-and-dance were obviously the so-called bhakts of Modi.

And most of those who wrote a political obituary for the prime minister hardly a day or two after 8 November were bhakts of another kind: Left-leaning or Congress-supporting Modi baiters. It is likely that, if Modi hadn’t gone for demonetisation, they might have questioned why he hadn’t, to make good on his poll promise of ferreting out black money. If, after demonetisation, the ATMs functioned smoothly with a copious flow of the new Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 notes, they would have asked why there weren’t enough Rs 100 notes.

If Modi sneezed, they would ask why he wasn’t coughing. If Modi coughed, they would wonder why he wasn’t having hiccups. They are that sort of people. They must be disappointed that the ‘cash riots’ that they were hoping for, haven’t broken out on India’s streets.

On Friday, the two sides will once again deliver their predictable judgments, ignoring the fact that it is the last day for swapping old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes for the new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 currency. With all its good and bad effects, the demonetisation churn will continue for some more time, and perhaps it will be several months or even a year before we can arrive at a considered judgment as to whether it did any good, and whether whatever good it did, was worth the terrible things that it has so far inflicted on the people and economy of India.

File iamge of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

File iamge of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

So far, we have seen only the bad effects of it. Dozens have died in queues, and millions have lost jobs. Lack of cash led to a sharp fall in spending, which in turn led to a crash in business in virtually every sector. Fathers couldn’t get daughters married the way they wanted. In some places, farmers dumped their produce on the roadside because it was not worth selling at the rock-bottom prices.

In other places, farmers had no money to buy seeds to grow fresh crops. Not a day passed after demonetisation without a moving tale of woe being reported from one part of the country or another. The picture of a former jawan weeping in a bank that went viral summed up best the agony India went through.

All these problems of demonetisation were a direct result of the woefully slow process of remonetisation. The humongous goof-up in ensuring availability of enough cash after the scrapping of 86 percent of the currency (in value) in a country where 87 percent of the transactions are said to be in cash, is all too clear. Enough has already been said about it by friends and foes of Modi, and those who are neither.

Questions that Modi must answer now

The question upfront now is: What is the country getting in return for all that misery that India was made to go through?

It’s now reasonably clear from official data that the cash windfall that the government had expected from demonetisation — black money that hasn’t been swapped or deposited in the banks which would drop into the government’s kitty — will hover around Rs one lakh crore.

Of the total of Rs 15.4 lakh of cash in the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes that were demonetised, Rs five lakh crore was estimated to be black. So if only some Rs one lakh remains unclaimed, what happened to the rest of the Rs four lakh crore? How much of it has been burnt by its holders? How much of it has been turned into white by illegitimate means? How much of it has been seized in income tax raids? And how much has been declared under the voluntary disclosure schemes?

These are questions that are not difficult to answer. So Modi must answer them.

This is not to suggest that the absence of a huge cash “windfall” in terms of “extinguished money” means that the demonetisation is a total, miserable failure. Despite claims by Modi baiters, the effect of scrapping the high-value notes on counterfeiters, terrorists, Maoists and drug-traffickers cannot be underestimated, at least in the short term. But the questions that will take more time to answer are the ones related to the expansion of the tax net, additional resources that will be available to the government for job-creating schemes and the effect on  GDP — key aspects that will determine the ultimate success or failure of Modi’s adventure. It will be a while before we can judge these after-effects.

Although you can depend on the Union Budget that will be presented on 1 February to throw up some real and artificial clues, Modi must answer all the questions that he can right now — without delay, and without hysterics and histrionics.

The author tweets @sprasadindia

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 13:27 IST

India cash crunch: Rupee deposit deadline looms

People in India have until the end of Friday to deposit discontinued notes in bank and post office accounts.

Demonetisation Day 50: Expect no clear winner in this drawn Test for Indians

For a nation that loves cricket, the demonetisation drive launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8 to pull out 86% of the cash floating in India’s economy has been like a one-day match, with roughly 50 days to the core deadline set by the government to swap bad cash with good resembling the number of overs in a game full of twists and turns.

As Modi gets ready to address the nation on December 31 in a stock-taking speech, sober watchers of the game may find no nail-biting finish or clear winner. We might need to use something resembling the Duckworth-Lewis method that cricket scorers use when rains or disruptions mar a match.

PTI file photoPTI file photo

PTI file photo

We can expect the prime minister to announce on Saturday some populist handouts that would make the headlines on the New Year Day as he declares partial victory in a long-term war on black money that he will vow to carry on. But the real ammunition may be held back until the February 1 budget.

What is clear is that there is no fairy tale El Dorado of a huge pile of unambiguously wasted black cash as it was being made out soon after the government pulled the plug on old 500 and 1,000-rupee notes. There was talk of a fiscal bonanza for the government through a windfall dividend from the Reserve Bank of India then. The RBI has since virtually ruled out such a possibility.

Of the Rs 15.4 lakh crore worth of scrapped currency, some Rs 14 lakh crore has been deposited in banks or exchanged already. Some more money may trickle in through the ambiguous Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Deposit Scheme window over the next three months or in last minute deposits on Friday. Clearly, there is no winning shot in this match in sight.

What we can expect next is a patient round of bean-counting in the Finance Ministry as taxmen zero in on high-value cash deposits. Some 60 lakh depositors have put in deposits totalling Rs 7 lakh crore since November 8 in instances exceeding Rs 2 lakh each. But toothcombing these and actually calling the bluff on tax evaders may take months or years and in cases involving big fish, involve appeals to income tax tribunals or even high courts.

However, we can reasonably expect Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to announce a very comfortable fiscal deficit situation for the 2017/18 financial year when he rises to present the budget on February 1. This would be largely though anticipated income tax gains from the deposits made in banks. The minister is already setting the mood by pointing to robust growth in tax collections..

A low deficit will give the government enough elbow room to play shots – be it in the form of lower taxes for citizens, populist schemes, recapitalising banks scarred by bad loans or fresh spending on infrastructure.

A Robin Hood-like transfer of a big chunk of fiscal gains to the poor holders of Jan Dhan Yojana may be the most romantic outcome of the demonetisation drive.

This, in fact, may become a political necessity because the government has been bitten badly on two fronts. A fall in the current year’s GDP growth resulting from the demonetisation is an economic scar, while stories of millions of industrial workers and farm hands suffering due to the cash squeeze resulting from demonetisation spell political wounds ahead of state elections in UP and Punjab.

To this we may add the image damage caused by a slew of ad-hoc measures linked to the drive – the latest of which is a Quixotic ordinance to fine those who may be caught with more than 10 outlawed notes. The international media has hit Modi where it hurts.

The government also faces a 5-judge bench of the Supreme Court on the Constitutional validity of the demonetisation. In the judiciary and in election rallies, the after-effects of demonetisation may drag on – long after the queues in front of ATMs vanish. That would make it seem like a drawn test match, not a one-day sizzler.

(The writer is a senior journalist. He tweets as @madversity)

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 07:56 IST

Rift widens as Akhilesh meets supporters; objects to father’s list

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The war games are likely to continue within the Yadav family, a day after Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav snubbed his son and UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, by publicly announcing 325 candidates of the 403 assembly seats on Wednesday. The list which omitted names of candidates suggested by the UP CM, suggested that the party was in danger of splitting before the crucial polls in the state.Hectic political activities began on Thursday right from the morning as party leaders have been gathering outside the residences of Akhilesh and Mulayam and huge crowds assembled outside Mulayam’s brother Shivpal Yadav’s residence. Sources close to the UP Chief Minister said that Akhilesh was likely to announce his own list of candidates for the state polls. They also said the candidates declared by him are likely to contest on different symbols as independent candidates.”Yes, Akhilesh Yadav is likely to announce his own list of candidates for UP polls,” said SP MLA Indal Singh. Singh’s remarks came after the CM’s meeting with those of whom who had been denied tickets.The UP CM who had just arrived from Bundelkhand, convened a meeting on Thursday of his supporters and legislators who had been denied tickets. He also met ministers who were denied tickets. Among them were Pawan Pandey, Ram Govind Chaudhary and Arvind Singh ‘Gop’. Sources close to him said that in the highly charged atmosphere, several of his loyalists had asked him to defy his father and uncle Shivpal Yadav, and go ahead with his own list of candidates.Later in the day, Akhilesh met his father Mulayam, and his uncle Shivpal was also present. But the talks did not seem to have yielded the desired results.The tension before the meeting was clear as an upset Akhilesh said,”The list does not include names of certain candidates who are sure to win. I will take it up with the SP chief and tell him that some of them have done really good work and they should be given tickets.” Since then the UP CM has remained incommunicado.Akhilesh’s supporter Uday Veer Singh said, “The Chief Minister has always fought for justice and he will continue to do so.” Singh however refused to comment on whether a new party would be formed.The list Mulayam unveiled on Wednesday, included 176 sitting MLAs. It not only left out several pro-Akhilesh ministers, but also did not carry the names of over 50 sitting MLAs. On the other hand, 10 ministers, including Shivpal, who had been sacked by the Chief Minister, over the past few months, got tickets. These former ministers were in open defiance of Akhilesh and it had paid off.In a late night tit-for-tat action, the Chief Minister had struck back, sacking two Shivpal loyalists — Surabhi Shukla, vice-chairperson of UP Awas Vikas Parishad and her husband Sandeep Shukla from the post of advisor of Rajkiya Nirman Nigam. Sandeep has been fielded from Sultanpur Sadar seat.Mulayam had also ignored Akhilesh’s objections to certain names, like Sigbatullah Ansari, brother of jailed gangster Mukhtar Ansari, and Atiq Ahmed who faces over 40 criminal cases including that for murder. The list also included tainted minister Gayatri Prajapati, whose sacking and re-induction as minister exposed the factional infighting in the ruling party.The SP supremo also made clear his differences with Akhilesh on the issue of a pre-poll alliance by ruling out any pact for a grand alliance. He even refused to project a chief ministerial candidate, dealing a serious blow to his son at a time when polls are to be announced very soon.A senior party leader said that by taking on political dons and criminals, Akhilesh was attempting to grow bigger than his party. The party leader also admitted that the chief minister’s image was getting bigger by the day but also added that the image was yet to grow as big as his father’s — who has the ability to turn political fortunes at the elections.

PM to address nation on New Year’s eve

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The last time Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation on a late evening, he had taken the country by surprise. As the 50-day period after demonetization expires, he is all set to make another address through public broadcaster Doordarshan, this time before the dawn of the New Year. Speculation is rife about the speech — whether it would be about another unforeseen announcement, a road map of the post-demonetization scenario, a thanks to the people, or more incentives for the common man.Modi had said in his public rallies after demonetization that for 50 days people would have to endure the troubles in the aftermath of demonetization to help him deliver the “India of your dreams”. At a meeting with BJP MPs during the Winter Session of Parliament, Modi had said there would be a, “New India in the New Year”.If these statements are any indication, the Prime Minister could be aimed at assuaging the people, either in his address to the nation or at his Lucknow rally on January 2. However, the content of his address is likely to be shrouded in secrecy, like the last one when he announced the decision to ban old Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes.He could be just thanking the people for bearing the inconvenience caused after demonetization, sources said. Modi has been indicating that demonetization was just the beginning of the fight against corruption and that steps would be taken against benami property.Under attack from the Opposition for the inconvenience caused to people in the aftermath of demonetization, this would also give the Prime Minister an opportunity to counter it. The issue had stalled the entire Winter Session, giving neither Modi nor Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi a chance to speak on the floor of the House.The government is confident that the worst was over and things had started moving towards normalcy. BJP is confident that Modi’s gamble has paid off, projecting him as a decisive Prime Minister who has taken a bold decision of fighting corruption.Meanwhile, Rahul Gandhi, at a hurriedly convened press conference on Wednesday, reeled out a set of demands which included exposing names of black money hoarders in Swiss banks, return of “financial independence” by removing the limit of withdrawals of Rs 24,000 a week from the bank accounts, and compensating the poor and traders who have suffered. Rahul also posed questions, such as how much black money had been found after the announcement of demonetization on November 8, the extent of the economic loss to the nation and how many people have lost their jobs due to demonetization.

India rupee ban: ‘I feel like there’s a lot of chaos’

The BBC asks people in Mumbai and Delhi for their views of India’s bank note ban – which the government says is aimed at curbing illegal cash holdings, or so called “black money”.

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

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

India didn’t lobby for better ratings from Moody’s: Venkaiah Naidu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Information and Broadcasting Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday denied reports that the government is trying to influence a credit rating agency to improve its sovereign debt ratings. A recently published report showed that India had criticised Moody’s rating methods and pushed aggressively for an upgrade, but the U.S.-based credit rating agency declined to entertain citing concerns over the country’s debt levels and fragile banks.”At the end of the day rating is done by them. So, there is no question of the government trying to influence anybody. We are trying to place facts before them. Like the World Bank and other agencies, they have now increased our rating in various aspects of governance, including ease of doing business, including the periodical review,” Naidu told media. The report further alleged that the finance ministry questioned Moody’s methodology, saying it was not accounting for a steady decline in India’s debt burden in recent years. It said the agency ignored countries’ levels of development when assessing their fiscal strength. Moody’s rejected those arguments saying India’s debt situation was not as hunky -dory as the government maintained and its banks were a cause for concern.

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

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

UP Elections 2017: SP headed for virtual split, Akhilesh Yadav releases own list of candidates for 235 seats

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The feud in Uttar Pradesh’s first family appeared to be worsening, with an unhappy Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Thursday meeting legislators who have not found place in the list of 325 declared candidates and then conveying his objections to his father and SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav who had announced the nominees yesterday. After the meeting, SP MLA Indal Singh said that UP CM is likely to come up with his own list of candidates for the upcoming UP elections.According to ANI, Akhilesh Yadav has released his own list of candidates for 235 constituencies. Of them, 171 are seating MLAs and there are 64 new faces. Hectic political activities began in the morning with party leaders gathering outside the residences of Akhilesh and Mulayam. A big crowd assembled outside Shivpal’s residence also. Akhilesh, clearly upset over being apparently kept out of the process to select candidates for the upcoming Assembly polls, met at his 5-Kalidas Marg residence here his supporters, including legislators and office bearers who do not figure in the list, party sources said. Later, he spoke to Mulayam to convey his displeasure over the list of candidates from which names of his close confidants are missing, the sources said.Mulayam, along with his brother and state party chief Shivpal Yadav, yesterday declared candidates for 325 of the 403 Assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh and ruled out projecting Akhilesh as the Chief Ministerial candidate.Akhilesh was away on Bundelkhand tour when the list was released at a hurriedly-convened press conference. The Chief Minister and Shivpal have been involved in a power struggle for several months now. The list, which includes 176 sitting MLAs, announced by Mulayam and Shivpal in the absence of Akhilesh, has left out several pro-Akhilesh ministers, including Ram Govind Chaudhary, Pawan Pandey and Arvind Singh Gope, and does not carry names of over 50 sitting MLAs.Besides, 10 ministers, including Shivpal, sacked by the chief minister over the past few months have got tickets. These former ministers were in open defiance of Akhilesh and it paid off. Within hours after release of the list, which clearly bore the stamp of Mulayam and Shivpal, Akhilesh had said he would take up the choice of candidates with the party chief.”The list does not include names of certain candidates who are sure to win. I will take it up with the SP chief and tell him that some of them have done really good work and they should be given tickets,” an upset Akhilesh had said last night. In a late night tit-for-tat action, the Chief Minister struck back sacking two Shivpal loyalists — Surabhi Shukla, vice-chairperson of UP Awas Vikas Parishad and her husband Sandeep Shukla from the post of advisor of Rajkiya Nirman Nigam. Sandeep has been fielded from Sultanpur Sadar seat.With agency inputs

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

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

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

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

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

RBI Governor Urjit Patel. PTIRBI Governor Urjit Patel. PTI

RBI Governor Urjit Patel. PTI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra was more direct.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s wrong if we gave info: Venkaiah Naidu asks on India “lobbying” for ratings upgrade

New Delhi: There is nothing wrong in the government presenting facts before an international ratings agency, Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said today, striking a defiant note on being asked about reports that the government had “lobbied” Moody’s for a ratings upgrade and failed. This is perhaps the first time the government has acknowledged that it was in some dialogue with Moody’s for a rating review, though the minister did not take the name of the rating agency.

A Reuters report had said last week that while India criticised Moody’s ratings methods and pushed aggressively for an upgrade, the U.S.-based agency declined to budge citing concerns over the country’s debt levels and fragile banks. Winning a better credit rating on India’s sovereign debt would have been a much-needed endorsement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s economic stewardship, helping to attract foreign investment and accelerate growth.

File photo of Venkaiah Naidu. PTIFile photo of Venkaiah Naidu. PTI

File photo of Venkaiah Naidu. PTI

Previously unpublished correspondence between the Finance Ministry and Moody’s shows New Delhi failed to assuage the ratings agency’s concerns about the cost of its debt burden and a banking sector weighed down by $136 billion in bad loans, the piece went on to say.

On November 16, Moody’s affirmed its Baa3 issuer rating for India, while maintaining a positive outlook, saying the government’s efforts had not yet achieved conditions that would support an upgrade.

“Any agency rates on the basis of information available. What’s wrong if we gave information, placed facts before this agency? Rating is still done by them,” Naidu said while addressing media on achievements of two-and-a-half years of the Modi government.

In letters and emails written in October, the finance ministry questioned Moody’s methodology, saying it was not accounting for a steady decline in the India’s debt burden in recent years. It said the agency ignored countries’ levels of development when assessing their fiscal strength.

Rejecting those arguments, Moody’s said India’s debt situation was not as rosy as the government maintained and its banks were a cause for concern.

To another question on whether the Rs 2000 note will be withdrawn soon, Naidu said that concerns over this note being misused and RSS ideologue S Gurumurthy’ suggestion that it be withdrawn “will be kept in mind”. Does this mean the government will take Gurumurthy’s advice and put this particular currency denomination out of circulation soon?

This piece quotes an interview Gurumurthy gave to a television channel to say that the Rs 2,000 note was introduced only to meet the demand-supply gap after Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes were sucked out of circulation. And that the banks would be asked to hold back Rs 2,000 notes and replace them with lower denomination notes eventually.

Naidu gave out many statistics to buttress his assertion that the two-and-a-half years of the Modi government have been more productive than decades of Opposition rule.

Some stats:

The General insurance industry saw 29 percent growth with premium collection of Rs 9162.81 crore for the month of November.

Rabi sowing increased by 6.37 percent, number of foreign tourists was up by 9.3 percent and foreign exchange earnings increased by 14.4 percent this year

1,36,427 villages declared open defecation free, over three crore toilets built under ‘Swachch Bharat’

14.7 lakh houses approved under PM Awas Yojana. The minister is also known for coining catchy slogans on the go and he did not desist today from doing so. At various points during the interaction, he coined slogans like

Demonetisation is an anti-scam vaccine

It is our endeavor to transform this Desperate India to a New India.

Our government’s endeavour is to unleash the ‘might’ of money through a white money economy

India has changed, Congressmen haven’t

From red tape earlier to red carpet (for investors, under the Modi regime)

We want to create white money, opposition wants a white paper (On demonetisation)

In reply to a question on government’s lacking focus on the entertainment sector, Naidu immediately referred to Aamir Khan starrer ‘Dangal’ which has reported high box office collections since its Christmas release, in India and abroad. It is a little ironic that the minister chose to quote collections from a film where Khan is the lead, given its reported antipathy to comments this actor made sometime ago.

This story says e-commerce major was forced by people associated with the ruling party to end Khan’s contract as a brand ambassador after his comments were criticised by the BJP.

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 18:49 IST

Working to address safety issues in train travel: Rail Minister Suresh Prabhu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Indian Railways is working on a comprehensive strategy to make train travel safe and comfortable, making it a preferred mode of transportation for all, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said on Thursday. Therefore, we are working on a comprehensive strategy for creating safe, comfortable, convenient, affordable train journey for the people of India, Prabhu, who inaugurated several railway initiatives at the Secunderabad railway station here from New Delhi, said in his address. Noting that there have been a number of inadequacies in the railway system that need to be rectified, he said the Railways is working on plans to address safety and other issues to make train travel safe and comfortable in 2017.But we will definitely make sure that we succeed in this mission of ensuring that railways will become a new preferred mode of transportation for everybody, he said. The initiatives inaugurated by Prabhu included Commissioning of 500 kWp Grid Connected Solar System at Secunderabad station; commissioning of LED based lighting at MMTS stations; inauguration of Renovated MMTS Booking office on Platform No.6/7 at Secunderabad station; inauguration of Additional Foot over Bridge at Hyderabad Station; launching of Hi-speed Wi-Fi at Secunderabad and Hyderabad stations and Extension of Karimnagar-Lingampet Jagityal DEMU service up to Morthad.The South Central Railway is headquartered at the Secunderabad railway station here. Expressing happiness over the inauguration of the new initiaitives, Union Labour Minister and Secunderabad Lok Sabha member Bandaru Dattatreya said the FOB at Hyderabad station was proposed by him 12 years ago during his earlier tenure as Union Minister. Some other initiatives inaugurated today were proposed earlier but could not be completed due to shortage of funds and other problems, he said.The Narendra Modi government is taking steps for expeditious completion of different initiatives, he said. Describing the Multi Modal Transport System (MMTS) in Hyderabad as his dream project, Dattatreya said he could complete the first phase of MMTS during his earlier tenure and that the second phase needs to be completed. The state government needs to release its share of funds for the projects and that he is pursuing with the Railway Minister for implementing different initiatives in Telangana.State Home Minister N Narasimha Reddy and others were present on the occasion.

Punjab Elections 2017: Twitter war between Amarinder Singh and Arvind Kejriwal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal were engaged in a war of words on Twitter with the former daring the AAP chief to contest against him in the upcoming Punjab polls.Kejriwal said he was not contesting Punjab Assembly elections and was fighting the Badals and state minister Bikram Singh Majithia to help free the state from the menace of drugs, following which Amarinder demanded an apology from him for making “false personal commitments”. “Always knew your screeching in Punjab was pure drama!Now that you’ve conceded,apologise for your months of lies & false personal commitments,” Amarinder said on Twitter.His reply came after Kejriwal said, “I m not fighting punjab elex. So, ur challenge hollow. We r fighting Badals/Majithia, who sunk Punjab in drugs. N u r fighting us, not them?” The Twitter war started with Aam Aadmi Party nominating former journalist and Delhi MLA Jarnail Singh to contest against Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal from Lambi constituency. Amarinder termed Jarnail as a “weak candidate” and alleged that AAP was “colluding” with the Badals. “Jarnail’s nomination bid from Lambi shows AAP-SAD collusion to ensure Badal’s victory. Reeks of an underhand deal!” the PCC chief tweeted.Kejriwal replied, “Sir, r u fighting against Prakash Badal ji or Sukhbir Badal or Majithia or safe seat?” Amarinder then dared Kejriwal to contest against him and tweeted, “Badals’ story is over. You tell me where you’re contesting from and I will come fight you there!” The AAP chief retorted, “So, u r fighting me, not Badals/drugs. Badals also say they will fight against me. U n Badals wish to fight agnst me not agnst each other.” The former Punjab chief minister shot back with a tweet saying, “I’ve defeated Jaitely-Majithia combine when you didn’t even know a thing about Punjab. But tell us, why are you so scared of fighting me?”Kejriwal then replied that he was not contesting Punjab polls and was only seeking to free Punjab from the menace of drugs mafia allegedly patronised by the present dispensation. Congress, which has been in political wilderness for a decade now after losing two successive elections at the hands of the ruling Akali Dal-BJP combine, is seeking to wrest back power. Amarinder, who is contesting his last elections, is Congress’ face in Punjab, but is pitted against entrant AAP which is giving Congress a good fight.Punjab Assembly elections are slated for early next year and the announcement of its schedule is likely soon.

Kerala BJP president launches 24-hour fast against LDF’s ‘anti-people’ policies

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Attacking CPI(M)-led LDF government for its ‘anti-people’ policies, BJP President Kummanamam Rajasekharan on Thursday launched a 24-hour-fast in front of the secretariat here.The protest, demanding restoration of distribution of subsidised foodgrains and rice through ration shops and to end “increasing incidents of violence” against Dalits, commenced at around 11 am on Thursday and will end Friday morning.BJP national spokesman and former chairman of National commission for SC/ST Bizay Sonkar Shastri inaugurated the fast. BJP workers came in a procession to the fast venue.Women workers also offered ‘Pongala’ (ritualistic offering of porridge made of rice) in front of the Secretairat raising slogans against the government of Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, which they alleged had failed in proper distribution of rice and foodgrains to the poor people.Former union minister and BJP’s lone MLA in the assembly, O Rajagopal, was among those who spoke. BJP leaders alleged that atrocities against Dalits have increased during the LDF’s seven-month rule.BJP has chosen to launch its protest against LDF on a day when the left front is organising a 700km long ‘human chain’ from Thiruvanathapuram to the northern tip of the state, Kasaragod at 5 pm to protest ‘hardships’ faced by people following demonetization of high value notes.

From Modi & Rahul to Saif-Kareena, everyone who faced the wrath of trolls in 2016

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Internet trolls kept the social media abuzz in 2016 and spared none, be it Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi, cricketer Mohammad Shami or even ‘Saifeena’ , unleashing posts and memes that ranged from controversial to hilarious to bizarre.Demonetization Demonetization was one of the most trending topics of the year 2016. Following its announcement on November 8, Twitter went into a meltdown and within hours, trolls produced a goldmine of memes and posts on the social media.Commenting on long queues at ATMs and banks, one Twitter user Sahil Shah said, “Don’t know if line to ATM or Shirdi.” A meme showed Modi’s face photoshopped on a painting of French Queen Marie Antoinette with a caption reading Modi Antoinette. It said, “I they don’t have notes, let them use plastic.”One Karthick posted, “The volume of memes generated within 1 hour of PM’s announcement shows that unemployment is a bigger problem than black money,” alluding to the number of posts and memes that surfaced online post demonetization.Mohammed ShamiRecently, Shami was attacked by trolls after he posted a picture with his wife Hasin Jahan, who was wearing a sleeveless gown. They asked him to ensure that his wife is dressed modestly in a hijab.However, other social media users, including cricketer Mohammed Kaif, lyricist Javed Akhtar and his actor son Farhan came to Shami’s defence. Kaif tweeted a screenshot of the critical comments saying, “The comments are really really Shameful. Support Mohammed Shami fully. There are much bigger issues in this country. Hope sense prevails.”Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan’s son TaimurSimilarly, Bollywood actors Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan came under fire from social media users over naming of their newborn son, Taimur. People took umbrage saying it was the name of a Turco- Mughal emperor who invaded India in the late 14th century. They also called for boycott of the actors’ films and compared Taimur to Adolf Hitler and Osama bin Laden.Some users, however, mocked the choice of name in a light hearted manner. One tweet said, “I think instead of screwing up Mumbai station names, the Maha government should change Taimur Ali Khan’s name, that too on priority basis!!” An RJ from Kolkata Mir Afsar Ali attracted online trolls for wishing everyone a merry Christmas but the radio jockey hit back at his detractors in a Facebook post that went viral, saying he was shocked by some of the comments advising why a Muslim should not be “celebrating/wishing” on the festival.Rahul GandhiLately, even political leaders seem to have taken to trolling people. Rahul Gandhi, who himself is a frequent target of trolls, took a dig at the government over the frequent changes in policies following demonetization. He posted a picture of a pole with a cluster of traffic lights, saying, “Government orders after demonetization.” Soon after the post, a parody account of the Congress leader, @RoflGandhi_, tweeted, “Bhai thoda sa toh gap rakho apne aur mere account mei.” Trolls also poked fun at Rahul Gandhi when his Twitter account was hacked, with one user saying, “#RahulGandhi’s account hasn’t been hacked, it’s just that for the first time he himself is tweeting from that account.” “So finally staff at @OfficeOfRG have taken that phone back from #RahulGandhi,” another one tweeted.Arvind KejriwalTrolls also took a dig at Kejriwal, with one Manish Jain saying, “#RahulGandhi Someone please also hack Kejriwal’s account. Won’t be difficult. Password must be modimodimodi .” Memes about Sonam Gupta also kept social media buzzing as users endlessly discussed whether she was ‘bewafa’ or not. It all started with a Rs 10 note on which someone had written ‘Sonam Gupta bewafa hai ‘. Soon the picture went viral, catching the attention of trolls and spawning memes. Pictures of currencies of different countries with ‘Sonam Gupta bewafa hai ‘ written on them also turned up online.The Delhi Chief Minister, who has been nicknamed Mufflerman by netizens, took to Twitter to make an official announcement of winters hitting Delhi. “Thand aa gayi hai. Muffler nikal agay hai. Aap bhi apna khyal rakhien,” said the AAP chief.Sushma SwarajEven the favourite of social media, Foreign Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, expertly trolled a man who had sought her help in replacing a defective refrigerator. She replied to his tweet, saying, “Brother I cannot help in matters of a refrigerator. I am very busy with human beings in distress.”Shilpa ShettyBollywood actor Shilpa Shetty too was trolled on Twitter after she said that George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” should be included in the syllabus as “it will teach the little ones to love and care for animals”. Twitterati also did not take kindly the statement and #ShilpaShettyReviews trending on Twitter with people posting jokes about other books and movies. “The Mummy Returns is a great sequel… To Stepmom. #ShilpaShettyReviews,” a Twitter user wrote.Similarly, another user tweeted, “Fifty Shades of Grey is an amazing coloring book. Children will love it.” Social media users also did not spare director Ashutosh Gowarikar over the historical inaccuracies in his film “Mohenjadaro”. “Relax guys, its an Ashutosh Gowarikar film. By the time he was done shooting Indus Valley got iron tools, horses and silk. #MohenjoDaro,” Twitter user Subhashish said. “Currently Independence Day looks more historically and scientifically accurate than Mohenjo Daro,” Mihir Fadnavis said.Suresh PrabhuA man was trolled by the Twitterati when he tweeted Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu, asking for diapers for his toddler with most users requesting the minister not to pay attention to such “nonsense”. One user asked if the “Railways was a diaper service company”.

2016 for MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan: Simi activists encounter, Hindutva politics dominated the year

Bhopal: 2016 saw Shivraj Singh Chouhan firmly in the saddle as he completed his 11th year as Madhya Pradesh chief minister though he had to grapple with the situation arising out of the controversial police encounter in which eight suspected Simi activists were killed.

Chouhan also managed to win back RSS’ confidence after all did not seem to be well following police allegedly beating up Sangh pracharak Suresh Yadav in September at Balaghat district over a WhatsApp message with communal overtones.

He was also upbeat after CBI, the prosecution agency in the multi-crore Vyapam admission and recruitment scam, told the apex court that the electronic evidence in the rip-off was not tampered with.

The Congress has been alleging that the electronic evidence in the scam were tampered with by the state police to save Chouhan and his family.

Cow vigilantes too were seen in action in the first half of the year and in one such case, two Muslim women were beaten up at Mandsaur railway station on suspicion of carrying beef in July.

The state witnessed communal unrest in some parts.

After the encounter killings of suspected Simi activists who had mysteriously escaped the highly-fortified central jail here on Diwali night allegedly killing a security guard, questions were raised but Chouhan’s defence was that the police action was taken “for public good”.

File photo of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. AFP

File photo of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. AFP

Minutes after the encounter, Chouhan, who seldom speaks to the media, hurriedly convened a press conference to dub the undertrials as “terrorists” who posed a serious threat to society after escaping from the jail.

After the encounter, Muslims huddled in a mosque, on being denied permission to hold a public meeting. They claimed the killing was stage-managed.

Earlier, the community had often found the moderate Chouhan in their midst on Eids, once wearing a Muslim skull cap which Prime Minister Narendra Modi had refused to don.

After initial resistance, the state government agreed to a judicial probe into the encounter after the outcry and criticism by media and public.

The month-long Simhasta-Kumbh mela in the ancient city of Ujjain in April-May too made a political splash when BJP chief Amit Shah took a holy dip with the Dalit seers.

This drew the wrath of seers who said they were being divided on caste line for the first time.

The event also took a political hue with Congress blaming BJP for hijacking the event for political gain and siphoning off crores of rupees from the state exchequer.

Besides, the mela, considered to be one of the biggest congregations of Hindus, saw the participation of eunuchs for the first time despite the reservation of Hindu clerics.

After police action on Suresh Yadav, local Sangh Parivar leaders took to the streets in Balaghat and a confrontation between the RSS and the Chouhan government seemed imminent.

To mollify the RSS, the state government booked Balaghat Additional Superintendent of Police and other policemen and charged them with attempt to murder. The accused policemen, still at large, were suspended.

But RSS apparently wanted more. Finally, the Chouhan government shunted out Inspector General of Police and Superintendent of Police from Balaghat to placate it.

As the lower rungs of Sangh Parivar were still frowning, Chouhan flagged off a 5-month-long yatra from Amarkantak in Anuppur district – the origin of river Narmada – on December 11 with RSS at the helm of the event.

The event, called Narmada Seva Yatra, ostensibly aimed at turning the river pollution-free and maintaining the sanctity of the water body considered to be holy in Hindu scriptures.

At the start of the yatra, RSS general secretary Bhaiyaji Joshi heaped praises on Chouhan for his deep faith and respect for the holy river.

Then on December 19, in an apparent endorsement, senior RSS functionary Alok Kumar said Madhya Pradesh was a laboratory of Sangh Parivar’s ‘ekathma manavad’ (integral humanism).

Twenty-eight people hailing from the state perished in the derail incident of Indore-Patna Express near Kanpur on 20 November.

After 32 years of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, victims of the world’s worst industrial disasters and the organisations helping them rejoiced on December 7 when a local court issued notices to the then district collector and the then superintendent of police for allegedly helping Union Carbide Corporation CEO Warren Anderson to escape from the state capital and criminal prosecution in December 1984.

Anderson who died last year was facing charges of criminal liability in the compensation case for the disaster.

BJP also won a number of by-polls in the state that were held during the year including Shahdol (ST) Lok Sabha seat and three assembly seats.

During the end of the year, Aam Aadmi Party national convenor Arvind Kejriwal held a public meeting here. AAP has already raised cadres in several parts of the state with an eye on the 2018 assembly polls.

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 14:57 IST

Demonetization: Congress demands Modi’s apology, to hold country-wide protest from January 6

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress on Thursday demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi apologise to the nation for the “suffering” caused to the people by note-ban when he speaks on New Year’s eve and vowed to hold country-wide protests from January 6.Attacking Modi, who is set to address the nation after end of the 50-day period he had sought from the people to ease their problems due to cash crunch, Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said that the Prime Minister is good at making announcements that are far from reality.”Even after 50 days of demonetization step, normalcy has not been restored.”PM Modi’s demonetization move has turned out to be ‘Deshbandi’ (lockdowbn of country). Development has come to a standstill. It is a scam and an uncalled move. It has resulted into economic instability in the country. Several people have died due to cash crunch across the country. It is a surgical strike on the country’s poor and has caused them immense suffering,” Surjewala said at a press conference in Jaipur. He claimed that note ban has led to 115 deaths in last 50 days, RBI has changed its rules 126 times and it will take eight months to print the equivalent currency notes.”Starting from January 6, we will continuously hold protests across the country against demonetization. We demand compensation for aggrieved family members, income and sales tax rebate to traders and common man,” he said.Congress leader Meem Afzal said the Prime Minister “has so far not had a word of sympathy for the victims, forget about an apology”.”But we expect him to apologise when he speaks on the issue at the end of the 50 days he had sought,” he told reporters in Srinagar.”Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised to create two crore new jobs every year but only 1.5 lakh jobs have been created in two and half years. After announcing demonetization last month, at least 10 crore people have been rendered jobless,” he claimed.Afzal claimed as many as 11 crore man-hours were spent every day in queues outside banks and ATMs as people struggled to withdraw their own money.”Money was taken from people’s pockets and put in the banks. 130 crore people of the country were made to queue up for their money. The time people should have spent earning their livelihood was spent in the queues,” he said.He said the Congress party demands an apology from the Prime Minister to the nation for these deaths and also compensation to the next of kin of the victims.Afzal said the Congress party also demands that 18 per cent interest be paid to the people on the money they have deposited in the banks.Alleging that some BJP leaders have been caught with stashes of new currency notes, Surjewala demanded a high-level inquiry.”Ordinary people are standing in bank lines to withdraw money, but a parallel black market flourishes in converting black money into white by charging commission up to 30 per cent commission,” he alleged.Surjewala also said that PM’s credibility is under cloud as his named has allegedly surfaced in Birla and Sahara dairies for receiving kickbacks when he was the Gujarat Chief Minister. BJP has rejected these charges, terming them as false, baseless and malafide.

Pak PM Nawaz Sharif writes to Sushma Swaraj wishing her speedy recovery

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has wished speedy recovery to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj who underwent a kidney transplant recently.According to official sources, Sharif wrote a letter to Swaraj wishing her quick recovery.The External Affairs Minister had undergone a kidney transplant at AIIMS on December 10 and was discharged on December 19 from the hospital.

Grenade hurled at Union Minister Rajen Gohain’s house, didn’t go off

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A grenade was lobbed at the house of Union Minister Rajen Gohain in Nagaon town, but there was no casualty as it did not explode.A police official said that eye witnesses had claimed that two motorcycle-borne miscreants hurled the grenade post midnight at the house of Union minister of state for railways.No one was injured as the grenade did not explode, the official said.Security forces, which rushed to the spot, later defused the grenade.The miscreants immediately fled the scene after hurling the grenade.Gohain and his family were not in Nagaon and only security guards were posted at the house.Police have launched an investigation to find if any militant group is involved in the attack.

Why can’t her body be exhumed? Madras HC raises questions over Jayalalithaa’s death

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>More than three weeks after the demise of former AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa, the Madras High Court on Thursday raised questions over the death of the former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and asked why her body can’t be exhumed.”Media has raised a lot of doubts, personally I also have doubts in Jayalalithaa’s death,” said Justice Vaidyanathan who was hearing a petition.”When she was admitted in hospital, it was said that she was on proper diet. At least after her death now, truth should be revealed,” Vaidyanathan said.The judge also went on to say that the court could order the exhumation and post-mortem of Jayalalithaa’s body, reported TheNewsMinute.A PIL has been filed in the Madras High Court seeking a commission comprising retired Supreme Court judges to look into “questionable incidents”, including her sudden hospitalisation, reported recovery and the cardiac arrest resulting in her death.
ALSO READ AIADMK appoints Jayalalithaa’s close confidante Sasikala as party General SecretaryPetitioner PA Joseph, a city resident, listed the sequence of events since Jayalalithaa’s admission to Apollo Hospital here on September 22 and claimed that the “secrecy” preceding her death gave rise to “grave doubts” in the minds of the people.The public interest litigation, which listed 12 respondents, including the Apollo Hospitals chairman, is likely to be taken up for hearing by the vacation bench of the court on December 29.The petitioner pleaded that the commission must peruse all the records, reports and documents in possession of the government as well as the hospital and look into “several questionable incidents”, including her sudden hospitalisation, reported recovery and the subsequent cardiac arrest resulting in her death on December.

PM Modi likely to address nation on New Year’s eve, may speak about roadmap post demonetization

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the 50-day period for depositing of demonetized notes expiring tomorrow, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to address the nation before the dawn of the New Year.”Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to address the nation before dawn of the New Year,” sources said.However, it was not clear as to whether he would address the nation on Friday or Saturday.In his address, the Prime Minister may speak about the roadmap post the demonetization period especially on the steps likely to be taken to ease cash flow that has been a major problem ever since demonetization took place.He may also speak on the steps to deal with the problems the economy faces after the demonetization was announced on November 8.The Prime Minister in his public meetings in the last few weeks has been urging the people to bear with the pain following the government’s decision and that it would start easing gradually once the 50-day period is over.On Tuesday, Modi met economists and experts at a meeting in Niti Aayog to discuss the current economic situation.

Demonetisation ordinance explained in seven points: Here’s how it will impact you

In a bid to discourage holding of old denomination currencies beyond 31 March, 2017, the Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday approved promulgation of an ordinance to impose a penalty, including a jail term, for possession of the scrapped 500 and 1,000 rupee notes beyond a cut-off.

Any currency note issued by the government is legal tender and the RBI has a legal obligation to make payment for the amount stated on the note. However, the ordinance does away with that legal obligation on the part of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

1) If you possess banned notes in Rs 500 and Rs 1000 denominations, you can only exchange it at select branches of the Reserve Bank of India.

2) If you hold over 10 notes of the banned currency after 31 March, 2017, you could be fined Rs 5,000 or worse, sent to jail for four years. If you transact in these notes, you could likely attract a penalty of Rs 5,000.

3) If you possess banned notes in denominations of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 beyond March 31, 2017, you could be fined amounts in multiples ranging from Rs 5,000 to Rs 50,000. You also have to give a declaration stating why you could not submit the money in the stipulated time frame until 30 December, 2017.

4) Just in case you cannot go physically to an RBI branch to deposit the banned notes, you can still do it by sending the money through insured post. You still will have to provide the aforementioned declaration on why you could not deposit the money.

5) If you have kept banned notes in hand for souvenirs, you can keep up to 10 notes and for numismatics upto 25.

6) Any citizen who is outside the country may authorise in writing enabling another person in India to deposit the notes into a bank account. The person so authorized has to come to the bank branch with the specified bank notes, the authority letter and a valid identity proof

7) Any payment towards tax, surcharge, penalty and deposit under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) can be made in old bank notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000. However, this can be done only until December 30. The PMGKY which began on 17 December, is open for declarations till 31 March, 2017

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 11:02 IST

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

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

Jammu & Kashmir cabinet approves draft of Governor’s address

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jammu and Kashmir cabinet on Wednesday approved the draft of the address, to be delivered by Governor N N Vohra, to the joint sitting of the State legislature on January 2 next year.The cabinet, which met under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, approved the draft of the address, to be delivered by the Governor to the joint sitting of the State legislature on January 2, 2017, an official spokesman said.Legislative Assembly Speaker Kavinder Gupta issued the provisional calendar for the fourth Session of the 12th Legislative Assembly.As per the provisional calendar, starting from January 2, with the Governor’s address to Legislature, the House sittings would continue till February 4, 2017.According to the calendar discussion on motion of thanks on the Governor’s address and reply thereto will be held on January 3 and 4.The annual financial statement of expenditure for 2017-2018 and presentation of supplementary statement of expenditure for 2016-2017 will be held on January 9, 2017.The general discussion on budget will be held on January 10 and 11 ending with reply thereto.As per the calendar, the demand for grants for various departments would be taken up from January 12 to January 27 and the Appropriation Bills will be taken up on January 28.There shall be government business on January 30.Private members resolutions will be taken up on January 31 and February 2 and private members bills on February 1 and February 3.There will be government business on February 4, if any, the calendar issued read.

Dalai Lama, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar plant Anand Bodhi tree sapling

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama, who was in Patna on Wednesday, called Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar an old and close friend, as the duo planted a sapling of ‘Anand Bodhi tree’ at the popular Buddha Smriti Park.The Dalai Lama, who is visiting Bihar for the Kalchakra Puja at Bodh Gaya, was received at the airport by the Bihar Chief Minister, who received blessings from the Dalai Lama as the two exchanged greetings.At the Buddha Smriti Park, which was inaugurated by the Dalai Lama in 2010 and houses saplings of the original Bodhi trees as well as several other Buddhist relics from across the world, the spiritual guru first offered prayers for world peace and harmony at the Patliputra K arun Stupa.After this, the Dalai Lama along with Nitish Kumar, prayed in front of Lord Buddha’s earth-touching posture statue, and planted the holy Anand Bodhi tree sapling there.Interacting with media persons, the Dalai Lama termed it a matter of pride to be visiting Bodh Gaya as a Buddhist monk. “Buddha’s teachings of non-violence and compassion are very much relevant today. Along with prayers, training of mind is also very important to avoid mental stress and anger,” he said.Referring to the Chief Minister as an old and close friend, he said, Nitish’s presence was commendable for him. He also stressed on love and harmony among Buddhists across the world.“India and I share a guru-shishya relationship. All our knowledge is from India and people should learn from the country’s history and philosophies,” he added.He also offered prayers at the Bodhi tree planted at the Bihar CM’s residence apart from participating at a luncheon there. He then left for Bodh Gaya, which is gearing up for the Kalchara Puja.THE SACRED TREEA very large and old sacred fig tree – the Bodhi Tree at the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya, Bihar – is the tree under which Shakyamuni Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment, making it is the most important of the four main Buddhist pilgrimage sites. The Anandabodhi tree in Sravasti, Uttar Pradesh and the Bodhi tree in Anuradhapura – both are said to have been cultivated from the original tree.

Govt, BJP say the worst is over on demonetization front

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

No more ‘Jung’ as Anil Baijal becomes Delhi’s L-G

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former IAS official, Anil Baijal on Wednesday replaced Najeeb Jung as Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor. Jung resigned from the post last week.Sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said that the decision was taken by President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday after he accepted Jung’s resignation.External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj took to Twitter to congratulate Baijal. “I welcome Shri #AnilBaijal as the Lt.Governor of Delhi, (SIC)” Swaraj tweeted.Baijal, a 1969 batch IAS officer, had previously served as Union Home Secretary under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government and has held the several key positions in other ministries.Officials said that while Baijal’s name was recommended by the MHA, the papers reached the President’s office on Tuesday evening.Baijal had retired from service in 2006 as Secretary, Urban Development Ministry and has served as the former Vice-Chairman of Delhi Development Authority.He is also credited with the designing and roll-out of the Rs 60,000 crore Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) which was launched by the UPA government.Jung’s sudden resignation had come as a surprise to many including Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. “I spoke to Najeeb Jung over the phone and he said that he has resigned for personal reasons. We wish him all the best for future and look forward to working with the new L-G,” media reports quoted Kejriwal as saying.Delhi Home Minister Satyendar Jain, who was at loggerheads with Jung over a host of issues — including the foreign visits by AAP ministers, also met the outgoing LG on Wednesday.Jung became Delhi LG in July 2013, replacing Tajender Khanna, another IAS officer. A former IAS official of 1973 batch, he was initially posted in Madhya Pradesh and was last associated with Jamia Millia Islamia, where he was the vice-chancellor from 2009-2013.The former L-G had constantly been in the news for the past two years for his confrontation with the AAP’s Delhi Government and Chief Minister Kejriwal. He had also formed the committee chaired by VK Shunglu on August 30, to examine 400 files on decisions taken by the Kejriwal regime.

Mulayam Singh Yadav snubs son, kills hopes of grand alliance

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav not only poured water on the dream of stitching together a grand alliance with Congress and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), but also snubbed his son, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, by announcing 325 candidates out of total of 403 for the upcoming assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. The list of candidates he released, at a hurriedly convened news conference in Lucknow on Thursday, bore the stamp of Akhilesh’s bete noire—uncle Shivpal Yadav.Congress leaders in Delhi, however, are still pinning their hopes that Akhilesh, who has been in touch with their party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, will fight back. “Wait, it (the alliance) is still in process. We hope better sense prevails in the SP to fight unitedly against the BJP,” a senior Congress leader told DNA.SP supremo Mulayam has been quite annoyed with the Congress demanding some 125 seats. Though interlocutors said the party’s bargain had come down to 85 seats, the SP was apparently not ready to part more than 50 seats. It is also believed that besides a large chunk of seats, the Congress was also insisting for the post of deputy chief minister.Even after Wednesday’s announcement, there are still 78 seats for which the candidates have not been announced, leaving a window of negotiations for an alliance still open. The elections are expected to be held in late February or early March in 2017 along with Punjab and Goa.Among those who have made it to the SP’s list of candidates is Akhilesh’s notable detractor Atiq Ahmed, who faces 44 serious criminal charges—including that of murder. But 53 other sitting lawmakers, out of the SP’s current 224, have been dropped. Among them are close aides of the Chief Minister like Arvind Singh ‘Gop’, Pawan Pandey, and Kamal Akhtar.When asked as to where Akhilesh would contest the elections from, Mulayam said, “He can contest elections from anywhere he wants.” Besides Atiq, Akhilesh had also expressed reservations against Sibagtullah Ansari, whose name figures as a candidate from Mohamdabad. Sibghatullah is the elder brother of Muqthar Ansari, again a noted don. Another name which had upset Akhilesh is Aman Mani Tripathi, who was arrested by the CBI in a case related to the killing of his wife. Tripathi’s name, however, did not figure in Wednesday’s list.Significantly, Mulayam also “ruled out” projecting his son as the chief ministerial candidate.”SP has no tradition of projecting anyone as its chief ministerial candidate. Some parties do it, and in the process bite the dust. In SP, the legislators elect their leader,” he said replying to a question in this regard.Mulayam’s announcement to “go alone” also came just days after BSP supremo Mayawati claimed that the BJP was exerting pressure on the SP chief and his family through the Enforcement Directorate, I-T department and CBI to join hands with the Congress so as to “divide Muslim votes” and stop her party from coming to power.The SP supremo also said that BJP would get a befitting reply from the electorate for demonetization and criticised it for not fulfilling its promises. He also stated that elections would be held before February 28 next year.Earlier, Akhilesh had submitted a parallel list of 403 candidates, in retaliation to party’s list, comprising largely of his loyalists. This move triggered a fresh feud in the already divided Yadav family.”It was an attempt to marginalise the chief minister by Mulayam and his uncle Shivpal, by declaring tickets without consulting him. But I am sure better sense in the larger interests of state and the party will prevail,” said Udaybir Singh, SP’s sacked MLC, who continues to be an advisor to Akhilesh.

India has taken up movement to embrace digital transactions: PM Modi

Wed, 28 Dec 2016-11:55pm , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> India has taken up the movement to embrace digital transactions with “unprecedented vigour”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday night while commenting on DigiDhan Mela organised in Goa.”Today’s #DigiDhanMela in Goa saw widescale participation. Colleagues @manoharparrikar, Shri Shripad Naik & CM Parsekar also took part,” Modi tweeted. “India has taken up the movement to embrace digital transactions with unprecedented vigour. My gratitude to people of India,” he added.The Prime Minister said every DigiDhan mela is “a fine way of learning about digital payments & even inspiring others to use digital means.”

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