Online news channel!

Tag: modi

Rahul Gandhi alleges Modi took money from Sahara; why is PM afraid of probe, asks Congress

In response to the BJP’s defence of the corruption charges leveled by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala questioned as to why Modi is hesitant to come clean and issue a clarification.

Earlier in the day, Rahul had raked up the Sahara and Birla papers that reportedly have entries of some payments made to Modi when he was the chief minister of Gujarat.

A file photo of Randeep Surjewala. CNN News 18

A file photo of Randeep Surjewala. CNN News 18

The Income Tax Department had raided Sahara Company on 22 November, 2014. Rahul said as per the records, Rs 2.5 crore was given to Modi on 30 October, 2013; Rs 5 crore on 12 November, 2013; Rs 2.5 crore on 27 November, 2013; Rs 5 crore on 29 November, 2013. He added that entries showed Rs 5 crore given to the prime minister on 6 December, 2013; Rs 5 crore on 19 December, 2013; Rs 5 crore on 13 January, 2014; Rs 5 crore on 28 January, 2014, and Rs 5 crore 22 February, 2014.

To this, Surjewala added another entree recovered by the I-T department in a raid at the Birla office, where he claimed that a note was added that said, “Rs 25 crore paid to Guajarat CM, rest??.”

Basing his case against the ruling disposition on these reported pieces of evidence, Surjewala wondered why the BJP was rattled and hurling abuses at the Opposition when all that it had to do was to order an independent probe.

Surjewala said that Rahul and the Congress party respect Modi and the office he holds, and they too want him to come out unscathed of these allegation. He added that the prime minister’s credibility and integrity are at stake.

Surjewala asked that why, between 2014 and 2016, has the CBI or I-T department not once summoned Modi and interrogated him.

“If such allegations were leveled against ordinary citizens, wouldn’t the investigating agencies at least question them,” Surjewala asked.

He said that nine incriminating entries have been found in a computer in the Sahara raids, whether they are true or not is the only question that the Opposition asks.

Surjewala also invoked an incident pertaining to BJP veteran Lal Krishna Advani in order to corner Modi. He said that only a mere dairy entree had cropped up incriminating Advani in graft charges and Advani had at the time offered to leave politics and resign from the Lok Sabha if the charges were proved. “So what is Modi ji afraid of?,” Surjewala asked.

Surjewala further added, “Vipaksh ka kaam hai rajneeti ki Ganga ki safai ka. and Vipaksh k taur pe hum sarthak sawaal puch rahe hain. isliye na khije na tilmilayein aur saaf saaf bataein (It is the responsibility of the Opposition to cleanse the Ganga of politics and that is what the Congress party was doing. We are asking pertinent questions. It is not something that should perturb them.)”

“We want an unbiased probe by an agency that the nation trusts. Credibility and honesty of the prime minister is at stake… Modi ji should come clean and not hide behind his cronies and clarify whether these proofs are true or not,” he said.

Invoking Modi’s popular election time slogan, which he also used to justify his demonetisation move, “Na Khaunga, Na Khane Dunga,” Surjewala said that it had become all the more important that the prime minister goes through this “test.”

“These allegations are not based on hearsay or political mudslinging but two pieces of evidences with the investigation agencies. Modi ji has been sitting on it for months. He should come clean about it. Why is he not ordering an independent probe,” Surjewala said.

First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 19:16 IST

To end black money in political funding, Modi govt must do more than blame old law

On Saturday, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley embarked on a spree of damage control mode by issuing a statement on the Narendra Modi government’s stance on political funding and black money. Political parties have not been granted any exemption after demonetisation and the introduction of Taxation Laws (Second Amendment) Act, 2016 which came into force on 15 December, said Jaitley.

He added: “Income and donations of political parties fall under the purview of Section 13A of the Income Tax Act 1961 and there is no change in its provisions. In this era of instant outrage, a 35-year-old law is presented as a new law being passed by the NDA Government.”

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

This statement came in response to media reports and a political storm brewing among certain Opposition parties after the revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia said, “If it is a deposit in the account of political parties, they are exempt. But if it is deposited in any individual account, in anyone’s account, that information will definitely come on our radar.” Adhia’s statement drew immediate media and political attention in the context of the ongoing demonetisation exercise. The plan, originally announced on 8 November gives time to deposit old, invalidated Rs 500, Rs 1,000 currency notes in banks till 30 December (in bank branches) and 31 March (at Reserve Bank of India counters).

Going by Adhia’s statement, political parties could have deposited any amount without paying taxes or facing any investigations. Hence, the possibility opens up for tax cheats to approach a registered political party to make their loot legit with an understanding that the money will be returned at a later date — with a cut going into the pocket of the agent (in this case, the political party).

Under the current rules, no political outfit needs to show the source of funds for cash donations under Rs 20,000. Hence, parties have a logical opportunity to show a majority of their deposits under this category by creating thousands of backdated receipts and can, thus, launder black money with no questions asked. Typically, political parties do not even keep receipts for donations.

According to an analysis of political funding by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) in the past few years, around 75 percent of such funding in India remains opaque and falls in the anonymous donation category.

Here, we have a serious problem.

Political parties have a clear option to print backdated receipts and launder black money. This is a major hole in the implementation of demonetisation, one of the main goals of which is to unearth the black money in the system. What the finance minister clarified in his carefully-worded statement on Saturday is absolutely true to every word. Exemption to political parties is not a law that was created by the Modi government. This is a law that has been in existence for a while.

But, there are few things of which the government has to take note:

First, whether the law is old or new, the fact is that political parties presently enjoy a big loophole to make their black money white openly. They do enjoy immunity from paying tax and tax scrutiny/prosecution if these outfits show that money came through small donations. This is what Adhia probably meant and what the finance minister reiterated in his statement when he said that the income and donations of political parties “fall in the purview of Section 13A of the Income Tax Act of 1961” and that “there is no change in its provisions”.

The question is given that the Modi government has waged an all-out attack on black money, shouldn’t it have plugged this loop hole before demonetising 86 percent of the currency in circulation, risking serious economic and social repercussions? The government managed to amend the income tax law for individuals, why didn’t it expand the purview for political parties? The demand of the Election Commission, seeking an amendment of laws to allow exemption from tax only to parties that win seats in elections and ban anonymous contributions of Rs 2,000 and above to parties, should be an eye opener to the Modi government and prompt it to ponder over the holes in the black money war plan.

Second, it is true that under Section 13A of the I-T Act, political parties have to submit audited accounts, income and expenditure details, and balance sheets as Jaitley says in the clarification. The finance minister also says that following demonetisation, no political party can accept donations in Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes since they were rendered illegal tender. Any party doing so would be in violation of the law. “Just like anyone else, political parties can also deposit their cash held in the old currency in banks till 30 December, provided they can satisfactorily explain the source of income and their books of accounts reflect the entries prior to 8 November,” he said.

Here, isn’t Jaitley himself giving a clue to political parties how to deal with their black money — that parties can still take invalidated higher denomination currency notes (including those from black money hoarders for a decent cut) and make thousands of backdated receipts to show the funds arrived before the cut-off date?

If the parties choose to act as conduits of ill-gotten wealth, isn’t it almost impossible for the government and taxman to track down the tax cheats?

Third, at a time when the Modi government is aggressively pushing for electronic transactions (cashless), why is the government silent on making political funding can’t be made cashless including that of the ruling party? According to PTI, there are 1,866 registered political parties in India as on August, 2015, including six national parties. Many of them haven’t even contested elections. There has been a rush for registration of political parties, with as many as 239 new outfits enrolling themselves with the Election Commission between March 2014 and July this year, taking their number to 1,866.

According to data compiled by the EC, in the last Lok Sabha election in 2014, 464 political parties had fielded candidates. The present figure could be much more than 1,866 since 2015, many more parties would have joined the club. Political parties get massive donations from individuals and institutions. They need funds for those who contest elections from their parties and spend substantial funds on administrative, functional expenses. There are no official records for most of these transactions. The possibility of crooks launching political parties solely with the aim of laundering funds is high.

Four, what prevents the government from asking banks details of deposits done by political parties in the months prior to demonetisation (remember the sharp surge in bank deposits between July and September) and after 8 November, including those of the BJP and thereby, setting an example? Asking party members to hand over details of bank deposits to party president alone wouldn’t suffice if clean transparency is the goal. Given the radical nature of the demonetisation exercise and considering that banning 86 percent currency in one go isn’t a conventional step, the government shouldn’t hesitate in going the whole hog to attack all sources of black money. Unarguably, the most critical part of the black money battle is tackling political funding, which is missing here.

Jaitley’s clarification that the I-T Act that protects politicians is an old law and the Modi government had nothing to do with it is not a valid argument

It was the responsibility of this government to plug the necessary loop holes before attempting a big gamble to hunt tax cheats, who have been looting the country. The government should have foreseen that crooks will think far ahead and use one of the 1866 political parties as black money laundering machines to make a mockery of the system. If that happens, isn’t the pain and trauma forced up on the common man who has, by far, stood by the Modi government on this move going in vain?

When it comes to political funding and black money, the Modi govt could surely do much more than blaming an old law and hoping tax cheats will follow the rules of the game.

First Published On : Dec 19, 2016 11:53 IST

Jammu and Kashmir: Congress demands JPC probe into demonetisation

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Congress demanded a probe by Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) into demonetisation, charging that it had benefited only some rich people on Thursday. “We demand that there should be a JPC probe into the demonetisation scheme announced by the Prime Minister,” senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member K Rehman Khan said.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“There are apprehensions of selective leaks ahead of the announcement for benefitting some rich (people),” he said. Khan said the BJP had demanded an investigation by JPC into the 2G scam when UPA was in power and they should agree a similar probe now for demonetisation.

“The former Union Minister said the Prime Minister’s announcement had put common masses in trouble. “Why are they troubling the common masses? Is the black money with poor people?” he asked. Khan said Modi, while announcing the demonetisation move, had sought 50 days time for setting things right and so far “36 days have passed but nothing has changed.” “What miracle can he do in the remaining 14 days?” the Congress leader asked. He said a “dictatorial system” was being established in the country as the demonetisation announcement by the Prime Minister had undermined the independence of the Reserve Bank of India. “RBI act says demonetisation is carried out by the RBI.

It is the RBI Governor who signs the pledge on currency notes and not the Prime Minister. Where is the RBI Governor?” Khan asked. He said, initially the government claimed that demonetisation will save Rs 4,00,000 crore which will be used for welfare of the people but “now even that dream is crashing.”

Criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not taking part in the discussion on demonetisation in Parliament, he said, “Why is the PM hesitating in coming to the Parliament? We want to debate, discuss and express our opposition to the move through a vote.” “We know that we do not have the numbers in Lok Sabha but we want to show that the Opposition is united on the issue,” he said.

Speaking on the Kashmir issue, Khan said that the situation is grim in the region and the Prime Minister’s police has “failed” to bring the situation under control.

First Published On : Dec 15, 2016 14:41 IST

Who knew? Narendra Modi’s black money move kept a closely guarded secret

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi handpicked a trusted bureaucrat, little known outside India’s financial circles, to spearhead a radical move to abolish 86% of the country’s cash overnight and take aim at the huge shadow economy.Hasmukh Adhia, the bureaucrat, and five others privy to the plan were sworn to utmost secrecy, say sources with knowledge of the matter. They were supported by a young team of researchers working in two rooms at Modi’s New Delhi residence, as he plotted his boldest reform since coming to power in 2014.When announced, the abolition of high-value banknotes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 rupees came as a bolt from the blue. The secrecy was aimed at outflanking those who might profit from prior knowledge, by pouring cash into gold, property and other assets and hide illicit wealth.Previously unreported details of Modi’s handling of the so-called “demonetization” open a window onto the hands-on role he played in implementing a key policy, and how he was willing to act quickly even when the risks were high. While some advocates say the scrapping of the banknotes will bring more money into the banking system and raise tax revenues, millions of Indians are furious at having to queue for hours outside banks to exchange or deposit their old money.Labourers have also been unpaid and produce has rotted in markets as cash stopped changing hands. Not enough replacement notes were printed in preparation for the upheaval, and it could take months for things to return to normal. With India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, holding an election in early 2017 that could decide Modi’s chances of a second term in office, there is little time for the hoped-for benefits of his cash swap to outweigh short-term pain.Modi has staked his reputation and popularity on the move. “I have done all the research and, if it fails, then I am to blame,” Modi told a cabinet meeting on November 8 shortly before the move was announced, according to three ministers who attended.
DIRECT LINE TO MODI Overseeing the campaign, with support from the backroom team camped out at Modi’s sprawling bungalow in the capital, was Adhia, a top finance ministry official. The 58-year-old served as principal secretary to Modi from 2003-06 when he was chief minister of Gujarat state, establishing a relationship of trust with his boss and introducing him to yoga.Colleagues interviewed by Reuters said he had a reputation for integrity and discretion. Adhia was named revenue secretary in Sept. 2015, reporting formally to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. In reality, he had a direct line to Modi and they would speak in their native Gujarati when they met to discuss issues in depth.In the world’s largest democracy the demonetisation was revolutionary: it called into question the state’s promise to “pay the bearer” the face value on every banknote. At a stroke, Modi scrapped money worth 15.4 trillion rupees ($220 billion), equal to 86% of cash in Asia’s third-largest economy.The idea is backed by some economists, although the speed of its implementation is widely seen as radical.”One is never ready for this kind of disruption – but it is a constructive disruption,” said Narendra Jadhav, a 31-year veteran and former chief economist of India’s central bank who now represents Modi’s party in the upper house of parliament. Modi, in his TV address to the nation, cautioned that people could face temporary hardship as replacement 500 and 2,000 rupee notes were introduced. Calling for an act of collective sacrifice, he promised steps to soften the blow for the nine in 10 Indians who live in the cash economy.
“BIGGEST, BOLDEST STEP” Immediately after the address, Adhia sent a tweet: “This is the biggest and the boldest step by the Government for containing black money.The boast harked back to Modi’s election vow to recover black money from abroad that had resonated with voters fed up with the corruption scandals that plagued the last Congress government. Yet in office, he struggled to keep his promise.Over more than a year, Modi commissioned research from officials at the finance ministry, the central bank and think-tanks on how to advance his fight against black money, a close aide said. He demanded answers to questions such as: How quickly India could print new banknotes; how to distribute them; would state banks benefit if they received a rush of new deposits; and who would gain from demonetisation?The topics were broken up to prevent anyone from joining the dots and concluding that a cash swap was in the offing. “We didn’t want to let the cat out of the bag,” said a senior official directly involved. “Had people got a whiff of the decision, the whole exercise would have been meaningless.”Under Adhia’s oversight, the team of researchers assembled and modeled the findings in what was, for it, a theoretical exercise. It was made up of young experts in data and financial analysis; some ran Modi’s social media accounts and a smartphone app that he used to solicit public feedback.Yet for all the planning, Modi and Adhia knew they could not foresee every eventuality, and were willing to move swiftly. The announcement caused chaos, with huge queues forming at banks when they reopened after a short holiday. New 2,000 rupee notes were hard to come by and barely any new 500 rupee notes had been printed. India’s 200,000 cash dispensers could not handle the new, smaller, notes and it would take weeks to reconfigure them.Filling ATMs with the 8 trillion rupees ($117 billion) in new banknotes that the finance ministry reckons are needed to restore liquidity to the economy is even trickier. In a best-case scenario, in which India’s four banknote presses churned out new 500 and 2,000 rupee notes designed to replace the abolished ones, it would take at least three months to hit that target.SECRECY PARAMOUNTSecrecy was paramount, but clues had been left. Back in April, analysts at State Bank of India said that demonetisation of large-denomination notes was possible. The Reserve Bank of India, the central bank, also disclosed in May that it was making preparations for a new series of banknotes that were confirmed in August when it announced it had approved a design for a new 2,000 rupee note.The printing presses had only just started turning when the media finally started to run with the story in late October. “The plan was to introduce it around Nov. 18, but there was a clear sign that it could get leaked,” said one person with direct knowledge who, like others interviewed by Reuters, asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.Some officials in the finance ministry had expressed doubts about scrapping high-value notes when the idea came up for discussion. They now feel resentment at the secrecy in which Adhia rammed through the plan on Modi’s orders. They also say the plan was flawed because of a failure to ramp up printing of new notes ahead of time.Other critics say the Adhia team fell prey to a form of “group think” that ignored outside advice. In the words of one former top official who has worked at the finance ministry and central bank: “They don’t know what’s happening in the real world.”

Demonetisation: From ‘Now I save more’ to ‘If this continues we will be jobless,’ Mumbai reacts

A lot can happen in thirty days, and this stands true even for the impact of demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes, which was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 8 November. Psychologists say, it take 21 days to form a new habit, has this move impacted people in such a way that their lives will change for ever?

Firstpost spoke to a few Mumbaikars experiencing the cash crunch. We asked them three questions.

—   Since it’s been a month of experiencing cash crunch, what was the biggest impact of this move on their lives?

—   How would this move change their life in the long term?

—   Did Narendra Modi do the right thing with a move like this.

The responses we got from the people of Maximum city will surprise you, keep watching.

First Published On : Dec 8, 2016 21:02 IST

Ashton Carter to visit India in his last overseas visit as US Defence Secretary

Washington: Days ahead of his visit to India, US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter on Sunday said that the defense ties between the world’s two largest democracies has never been as close as it is now with their militaries exercising together by air, land and sea like never before.

“The US-India defense relationship is the closest it’s ever been. Through our strategic handshake – with America reaching west in the re-balance, and India reaching east in what Prime Minister Modi calls his Act East policy – our two nations are exercising together by air, land and sea like never before,” Carter said in his address to the Regan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California.

Slated to be in India on 8 December, Carter would travel to Japan, Bahrain, Israel, Italy and the UK. This is for the first time that an outgoing American Defence Secretary has included India in his itinerary for the final overseas trip.

A file photo of Ashton Carter. APA file photo of Ashton Carter. AP

A file photo of Ashton Carter. AP

“We also have a technological handshake — as the US — India Defence Technology and Trade Initiative, grasps hands with Prime Minister Modi’s Make in India campaign — that’s helping our countries move toward more diverse co-development and co-production of weapons systems,” Carter said.

Carter would meet Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and other leaders during his trip to New Delhi. “He (Carter) will look to build on the strategic handshake between the two nations and to continue the momentum in the relationship over the past decade, including expanded defence cooperation during his time as Secretary,” the Pentagon had said in a statement last week.

Carter said the US-Japan alliance remains the cornerstone of Asia-Pacific security. “And with our new Defense Guidelines, the US-Japan alliance has never been stronger, or more capable of contributing to security in the Asia-Pacific and beyond,” he said.

Carter also reflected on the re-balance strategy of US President Barack Obama. “It will ensure DoD continues to help provide the security necessary for that consequential region — which is home to nearly half the global population and nearly half the global economy — to remain a place where everyone can rise and prosper for decades to come,” he said.

“That’s been American policy and practice since the end of World War II more than 70 years ago. Regardless of what else was going on at home or in other parts of the world — during Democratic and Republican administrations, in times of surplus and deficit, war and peace – the United States has remained economically, politically, and militarily engaged in the Asia-Pacific,” he said.

The US, he said, has long taken a principled and inclusive approach, and collaborated with a network of regional allies and partners to enable security and uphold important principles like resolving disputes peacefully;
ensuring countries can make choices free from external coercion and intimidation; and preserving the freedom of overflight and navigation guaranteed by international law.

“Because we did so, out of the rubble of World War II, economic miracle after miracle has occurred. Think about it….first Japan, then Taiwan, South Korea, and Southeast Asia rose and prospered, and today, China and India are doing the same,” Carter said.

That progress has produced incredible changes in the region: populations are growing, education has improved, freedom and self-determination have spread, economies have grown more interconnected, and military spending and cooperation are growing, he added.

“Amid all this remarkable change and progress, America’s interests and objectives in the Asia-Pacific have endured: we still want peace, stability, and progress there. But as the region has changed, our approach to how we meet those interests and uphold those enduring principles has had to change along with it,” he added.

First Published On : Dec 4, 2016 13:59 IST

Demonetisation: ‘VIP’ privileges should count as corruption too

I watched a clip online over the weekend. It showed a young woman carrying an infant, venting her anger while standing in a serpentine queue outside a bank. In the course of her tirade, she spoke of not having enough cash to buy vegetables. She was really angry.

A thought crossed my mind: If she were a ‘VIP’ living in a bungalow built by Lutyens, the young woman would have vegetables growing in a part of the back or side garden. She would even have an efficient maali (gardener) paid by the taxpayer to tend to those vegetables and the flowers in the flower beds on the side of the house and the lawn in front.

Come to think of it, the young woman would also have had the finest fruit, not to speak of nuts and sweets and cakes, brought as gifts by less important persons.

If she were a member of Parliament, she might even have convenient access to nicely priced fruit juice, coffee beans and tea leaves, not to speak of extremely nicely priced meals. But for that, she would have had to have had the wherewithal to get to become a very important person. But then, she would quite likely have been the son or daughter of one.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Of course I am all for rooting out corruption. I just wish we could also have a little less of the sort of nice little conveniences that very important people take for granted, and we don’t generally think of as corruption.

Misuse of free air and rail travel, for example.

Easy reservations too. I was to travel by train recently but, when I got to the station with my luggage, I was amazed to find that my booking was still on the wait-list, and so was to be treated as cancelled. I had been second on the waiting list when the ticket was purchased a couple of weeks before, and so I had presumed that the booking would have been confirmed by the time it came time to travel.

I went to the ticket inspector’s office to see if I could be accommodated. The man said it couldn’t be done. The coach was already chockablock with RACs (I had forgotten the category — reservation against cancellation). As I looked deflated, he said sympathetically that I should get a ‘VIP’ to help out next time, in case I knew one.

While it may be very laudable to get people to transact online or by plastic, it would be so very nice if we could also level the playing field for all citizens, including ‘VIPs’ and the owners of online operations. Could ‘VIPs’ also get into line please and pay like everyone else, the same prices and overhead costs as everyone else? Please? I was with a ‘VIP’ friend one morning recently and saw some houses that were all furnished, carpeted and set up. Apparently, that’s the way they are handed over to ‘VIPs’ — in the most swanky, easy-to-live areas of our otherwise polluted, congested cities.

Very nice.

But if we’re serious about cleaning out corruption, shouldn’t we take a brief moment to ask how much the taxpayer pays for all this?
Don’t get me wrong. I am, as I said, all for rooting out corruption. Let’s just expand our focus on what constitutes corruption a tiny bit.

First Published On : Nov 14, 2016 13:20 IST

ATM chaos, demonetisation woes: Narendra Modi must stop his emotional atyachar

Prime Minister Narendra Modi should stop this emotional atyachar. The buck really stops here. All around there is pain, suffering and anarchy. He just has to see the obvious and take note. Empathise, help and act instead of making more promises and rolling out new threats.

All around there is anarchy. Life has come to a standstill. Bazaars are shut, malls vacant, roads empty, squares where unorganised labourers gather for their daily employment resemble Babylon. Every day, people get up in their ghost towns and, like zombies, pursue just one thing: some bank notes, their own hard-earned money, to run their daily lives. But there is none.

Banks have no money. ATMs have no currency notes. Their cassettes can’t accommodate the new currency. Their staff can’t service the eager mob. Everyone is a pauper, a mendicant seeking his own money as alms. And, while the common man suffers, gets beaten in queues for cash, inspectors unleash a raj of raid, fear and insecurity. Definitely not the time to warn of more hardships in December. Threaten to look into records right up to 1947. Thank you!

He need not cry for the sacrifices he has made for the country. We respect them. He needs to cry for the sacrifices India’s masses are making every day because of the ill-planned scheme that has been unleashed.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

He needs to listen to the battle cry on the streets. People are calling the state their enemy. This could turn out to be his Waterloo.

His threat of a new war in December is like the promise of another glorious war from the ramparts of Tokyo while the Battle of Stalingrad rages at home. People first need to come out alive of this mayhem. December is far away. It is, like the World War bridges of Arnhem, too far.

Yes, there was a need to go to war against black money. But, what was the tearing hurry to implement it without printing adequate currency notes, getting banks and ATMs ready? Without thinking through the pain and misery that would disrupt life?

He has rushed in where economists fear to tread. Without any plan. Without any strategy. Like an impatient general launching a strike without adequate ammo, without manpower, without supplies, without any regard to the foot soldiers of India and their lives. Just to create a big bang sound economics has been replaced with dramatics.

He demands more suffering and promises the India of dreams in return. Like Swachh Bharat? Like Smart Cities? Like the promise to tame Pakistan with surgical strikes? Like the promise of Rs 15 lakh in every account? Like Namami Gange? Like the new dawn in Kashmir?

Okay, let’s go back into history, right down to Independence. Let us start with 2016. What did this government do about the Panama Paper leaks which named tax-evaders from India? How many of them were caught and penalised?

How much of the Rs 90 lakh crore money parked in illegal offshore accounts was identified and brought back to be distributed in every Indian account, Rs 15 lakh per head?

What is the status of the promises made in 2013-14?

Let’s go farther back a bit. Now that every penny spent since 1947 would be accounted for, we should know how the BJP financed its poll campaign in 2014. Where did all that money come from? Throw open accounts of political parties since 1947 to public scrutiny. Let’s see where the 3-D holograms, jets, rally funds came from. Let’s see how the jumla parties in 2017 elections in UP and Bihar would be organised.

Let’s start the cleaning where it should begin first: At home.

How does India become a sapnon ka Bharat (India of dreams) if every aam aadmi is forced to seek testimonials to honesty by queuing up at banks, lining up dry ATMs to get his white recycled through the government machine as white? If malls, shops are raided by hungry, when there is chaos, fear and dread of the unknown? When accumulated savings suddenly turn into illegal stash. Where everyone with cash in the pocket becomes restless, fearful and a potential target for your inspectors?

When the chants of har, har turned into the dirge of ha-ha kar?

We realise he is playing the old Ameer-Garib game. Like Manmohan Desai, he is writing a script where every aam aadmi thinks he is the baddie beating up the rich man with kaala dhan stashed in his mattress. And where they feel like the hero–Coolie, Mard Tangewala— by making them believe their sacrifice is a part of the fight against the real thugs with money. And the aam aadmi is queuing up to buy the tickets.

We know he is trying to do an Indira Gandhi to India. Like her, he is trying to crack down on the new monarchy, abolishing their privy-purses, so to speak, to give the man on the street the feeling that guillotine of your monetary revolution is falling on the ‘Monied Antoinettes’ of the country. Apres moi, les deluge of money?

He promises there would now be no hoarding of cash since notes of higher denomination are out. Perhaps the new Rs 2000 notes would auto combust after a certain date.

He promises terror-financing would end. Perhaps wire transfers, hawala would go out of fashion.

He promises counterfeit currency would disappear from the market. Perhaps, the neighbours do not know the art of producing the new Rs 2000 notes.

As Faiz said, Hum Dekhenge! (We will see!)

We will see if prices come down, education and health care become more affordable and accessible to all as a right, if job opportunities rocket, the GDP zooms, bureaucracy gives up its principle that corruption is an inbuilt incentive for development.

For the moment, all we can see is the misery of people desperate for cash. The unorganised labour waiting for someone to hire them for the day. The small traders seeking cash to replenish stocks. The housewives waiting for new notes to pay for vegetables, milk and other household essentials. That old woman with fears of her Rs 15000 she had stashed in her flour basket for the rainy day becoming kaala dhan.

Ask the machinery to run faster, infuse more cash, end the humiliation of people being caned for withdrawing money from their own accounts.

Ab ki baar no emotional atyachar!

First Published On : Nov 13, 2016 16:57 IST

Modi govt wears a mask of nationalism, dubs those showing mirror as anti-nationals: Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress accused the Modi government on Sunday of trampling the three pillars of democracy – executive, judiciary and media, and said there was no place for dissent in it as it dubs as “anti-nationals” all those showing it the mirror of truth. Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the attitude of the Modi government does not match with India’s pluralist character and the freedom of expression of an individual and that is why it was imposing ban on the media.The Congress also stood out in support of NDTV, on which a day-long ban has been imposed over coverage of the Pathankot terror attack, and said the entire country was now strongly opposing this “death-knell” imposed on the channel. “The Modi government is trampling upon the three pillars of democracy – the executive, the judiciary and the media. Criticism or dissent is not acceptable to this Modi government which is gripped with the disease of self-praise and wants media to toe its line.”Whenever someone shows it the mirror of truth, this government wears the mask of nationalism and dubs those showing it the mirror as anti-nationals. The attitude of Modi government does not match with the pluralist thought and freedom of expression of an individual,” he said.In a statement, Surjewala said the entire intellectual class and journalists were now standing out against this ban which was a bid to throttle the independent voice and anyone who raised their voice against the Modi government. The Congress leader said that doubts were now being raised over the patriotism of those who had questioned the Modi government for allowing Pakistan’s ISI to enter the Pathankot air base in the name of investigations into the terror attack. “We have to awaken the Modi government which is in deep slumber due to intoxication of power,” he said.

Dussehra politics: Narendra Modi in Lucknow as cracks surface in Samajwadi Party

Narendra Modi will headline Dussehra day in Uttar Pradesh’s capital city Lucknow – already thrumming with the drumbeat of big ticket state elections early summer of 2017. Tuesday will likely witness an assault of Ram – Ravan one-liners from lecterns across the state as cracks appear in Samajwadi Party. BSP supremo Mayawati is calling on Muslims to ignore the BJP and the SP and come into her fold. Mayawati‘s math is this: the Dalit vote in UP is at least 22% for every seat and BSP has the shortest path via the Muslim vote.

Uttar Pradesh elections will be a four horse race that will test at least two record setters – strategist Prashant Kishor, who has never lost an election, and Rahul Gandhi who has never won one. The Samajwadi Party’s problems are no secret – it’s all in the family. Akhilesh Yadav is in open confrontation with his paternal uncle Shivpal Singh Yadav – the state’s PWD minister.

Seizing her chance, Mayawati is pitching her case to segments of upper caste and urban voters to add to her Dalit base which gave her a 20% vote even in the 2014 election.

PosterModi380PosterModi380Political rivals in Uttar Pradesh chieftains are bracing for a day of high octane stump speeches – “Opportunistic politics” is driving Narendra Modi to Lucknow on Dussehra says UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav as Modi readies to make a grand entry. Home minister Rajnath Singh will travel with the PM to the venue. BSP supremo Mayawati claims BJP has tanked to third position so PM Narendra Modi is coming to Lucknow to shore up the numbers.

Approximate timing of Dussehra political speeches, Oct 11:

RSS chief Nagpur speech: between 8 – 9 am
Narendra Modi at Lucknow: after 6 pm
Rahul Gandhi at Ramlila maidan: after 5 pm
Arvind Kejriwal at Luv Kush Ramlila Maidan: after 3 pm

At a book launch in Delhi, Modi threaded the needle for what he may say in Lucknow, tracing the origins of the non-Congress alternative in India and why politics must not be the preserve of the past if that past is rotten. Reading from Deen Dayal Upadhyay’s works, he linked lines from his book reading to how India’s army must be strong and ready not because it wants to be an aggressor but because it is essential for a country. He also offered an ‘explainer’ of the concept of unresolved issues as the new normal in an interdependent world.

Modi is scheduled to be at the Ramlila ground for about an hour – his first public appearance after the surgical strikes against terror targets in Pakistan. Late Monday night, PTI reports that at least 250 terrorists belonging to three Pakistan-based terror groups are active in the Kashmir valley, trying to target security forces to “avenge” the surgical strikes carried out by the Indian Army in PoK.

Quoting intelligence inputs, top government sources said most of the 250 terrorists belonging to Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and Hizbul Mujahideen infiltrated before the surgical strikes on the intervening night of September 28 and 29. The terrorists were given clear instructions by their handlers across the border to target security forces in Kashmir valley to “avenge” the surgical strikes, sources said.

Despite Modi’s message to the contrary, Lucknow’s streets have come alive with posters full of military imagery – armed soldiers, reference to ‘surgical strikes’, Modi with a clenched fist – the works.

Taking aim at Modi’s Lucknow visit on Dussehra, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said “had there been elections in Bihar, he would have slayed Ravana there”.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav backed Rahul Gandhi’s controversial ‘dalali’ remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi on India’s surgical strikes saying the Congress leader must have said it after “much thought”

Yadav and SP general secretary Amar Singh, who were daggers drawn in the inner-party battle recently, on Monday made contradictory statements on the army’s surgical strikes in PoK, exposing differences in the party leadership, much to the BJP’s delight.

But Lucknow is not the only location to watch. Over West in Nagpur, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat would deliver his annual Vijayadashmi speech at Reshimbagh Ground on the same day when Modi take centrestage at the Aishbagh Ramlila in Lucknow. Both are a departure from tradtiion – RSS workers will be seen wearing their new outfits and it’s the first time Prime Minister Modi will be outside Delhi on Vijayadashmi day.

“This year’s Vijayadashmi is very special for the country,” Modi said to ringing applause in New Delhi that grew louder and settled only after an entire minute.

State elections are coming up in 2017. After the Bihar wallop in 2015, the BJP is girding for a tight contest in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state. BJP won 71 seats of 80 in 2014 during the Lok Sabha elections and a low water mark of 47 seats of 403 in the 2012 assembly election.

UP: Youth arrested for supporting Pakistan and sharing objectionable photos of PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> A youth was arrested for allegedly circulating objectionable photographs related to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and in support of Pakistan on WhatsApp. Sohail Ansari was arrested from Salaiyadeeh in Vindhamganj area on a complaint by a BJP worker, police said. It was alleged that he circulated objectionable pictures of Modi and one in support of Pakistan on social media, they said.

Congress blames Modi for ‘complete disarray’ in Pak policy, dares to sack Parrikar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress on Monday targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Uri terror attack, holding him “singularly responsible for the complete disarray” in the government’s policy vis- -vis Pakistan, and dared him to act against Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar for “a massive intelligence and operational failure”.’Failure of Modi'”The Uri terrorist attack, which has been propagated, planned and executed by Pakistan, is the result of failure of the political leadership of the Modi government. Reports clearly point towards a massive intelligence and operational failure inside the government,” Congress’ chief spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala told reporters here. He asked Modi to show courage of conviction by fixing responsibility and accountability for this “complete failure”.”India’s borders & National Security has been under siege for last 2 years. Def Min. should be held accountable (sic),” he tweeted earlier in the day. Surjewala said yesterday’s terror strike on an Army base in which 18 soldiers were killed “is an attack on our national conscience and perpetrators of the attack should be brought to book at the earliest”. He took a swipe at the government’s policy vis- -vis Pakistan and said it should approach the international community for imposing comprehensive sanctions on Pakistan which harbours global terror network and uses terrorism as an instrument of state policy.”Prior to the 2014 Lok Sabha election, Narendra Modi consistently counselled the Congress government to ‘stop writing love letters to Pakistan’. Modiji used the oft-quoted rhetoric of ’56-inch chest’ as also ‘bringing 10 heads back in lieu of one’, besides asking the government to ‘answer Pakistan in the language they understand’. “Time has come for us to remind Narendra Modi of his ‘jumlas’ and rhetoric once again. Since becoming the Prime Minister of the country, Modi has indulged in saree-shawl diplomacy to impromptu visits to Pakistan to attend wedding celebrations and birthday parties with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif,” he said.’Policy based on wholesale confusion'”The truth is that the Modi government’s Pakistan policy is based on wholesale confusion rather than pragmatic and decisive cohesion. “Modi is singularly responsible for this complete disarray of foreign policy wherein a renegade, pariah nation like Pakistan, which is harbinger of global terror network and which stood isolated amongst international community on account of sustained policy of the Congress-led UPA government, is trying to project itself on international arena as a player for regional stability in Southeast Asia,” he said. Surjewala said India’s borders and national security “have been under siege for last two years”. “There have been over 900 border ceasefire violations by Pakistan in J&K. India has borne the brunt of unchecked terrorist attacks coming from Pakistan in Udhampur, Gurdaspur, Pathankot and Pampore leading to heavy casualties of Army and police, including senior most officers,” he told reporters.”After the grave provocation of terrorist attack on Pathankot airbase, the Modi government invited a Pakistani investigation team to Pathankot headed by the dreaded ISI. Pakistan not only brashly refused to permit a bilateral visit of Indian investigating team, it shockingly accused India of engineering the Pathankot airbase attack and killing its own soldiers,” he said. He said the Modi government “appears to have learnt no lessons” which finally resulted in the cowardly Uri attack.He also questioned why the government did not take preventive measures to pre-empt the Uri attack if there was information available from different agencies. “Modi government needs to answer as to why no preventive measures were taken to pre-empt the Uri terror attack if there was credible information available from different agencies and security experts, more so considering the vulnerability of the Uri Brigade area and also its proximity to Line of Control,” he said.Why soldiers were kept in tent?Surjewala also sought to know why the soldiers were housed in tents when two military buildings were vacant. “Why were soldiers housed in tents when two military buildings were vacant and available, which led to casualties? Who leaked information regarding troop movement and changeover, that is that the 10-Dorgra Regiment was in the process of making space for 6-Bihar Regiment? Isn’t it not a clear cut failure of command and control structure in the Modi government,” he asked.Taking a dig at Parrikar, he said the Defence Minister is “busy threatening fellow Indians like Aamir Khan” and asked whether the priorities have gone wrong for the government. “He (Parrikar) is busy attacking fellow Indians and passing intemperate remarks against everybody rather than doing his own responsibility. The responsibility, if any, lies at the doorsteps of the Modi government and at doorsteps of Manohar Parrikar, the Defence Minister of the country, who has proved himself to be a utter and complete failure,” Surjewala said.In one of the deadliest attacks on the Army in recent years, 18 jawans were killed and 19 others injured as heavily armed militants stormed a battalion headquarters of the force in North Kashmir’s Uri town in the wee hours yesterday. Four militants involved in the terror strike were killed by the Army.Surjewala said the government must also take appropriate steps at the international fora so that Pakistan is declared as a “terrorist state”. Replying to a question, he said, “The government must tell the people of the country about the complete and total operational and intelligence failure. Any investigation that needs to take place must take place, but it should not be for the purpose of brushing issues under the carpet which is usually done by the Modi government.” “More so, we demand responsibility and accountability must be fixed,” he said.Asked if Congress will back action like what the USA did in case of Osama bin Laden, Surjewala said, “The government has to take a call on what kind of operational action it will take. Whatever action is taken, which is in the national interest and against terrorists and those who patronise them…not only Indian National Congress, all parties will support the government.”Asked if Congress sees any link between India raising the Balochistan issue and the Uri attack, he said, “Pakistan- occupied Kashmir is very much an integral part of India and if there are human rights violations in Balochistan and if the Army there has been accused of mass rapes, that’s an issue which successive Indian governments have raised from time to time. To link the terror attack coming from Pakistan to the Balochistan issue is uncalled for. Responsibility lies at the doorsteps of the Government of India to protect its borders as also its citizens.”Asked whether the Centre should grant asylum to exiled Baloch leader Brahamdagh Bugti, he said, “The government will have to take note of the same. I am certain that in accordance with our procedures as also our stand on national and international fora, the government will take an appropriate call on the issue.”Will Modi sack Parrikar? Attacking Parrikar, he said, “Will Prime Minister show courage of conviction and fixing responsibility and accountability for this complete failure, particularly that of his Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who is more of a Swayamsevak, than holding the serious and responsible position of the Defence Minister of the country?”He said on behalf of the people of India, Congress calls upon Modi to traverse the distance from ‘rhetoric’ to ‘reality’, from ‘projection of self’ to ‘protection of national interest’. “Uri terror attack demands a firm and appropriate response from Indian Government to punish the guilty,” he said. At a Congress briefing, party spokesman Manish Tewari launched an equally scathing attack on the Modi government. “Their (Modi government’s) definition of policy is unfortunately limited to only headline management. The unfortunate reality is that this government neither has any strategic sense nor any tactical understanding,” he said. Replying to a question, he favoured India mustering required support in the international community for moving a resolution to declare Pakistan a “sponsor of terrorism”.Tewari asked the Prime Minister two questions – “can you assure the country that there will not be another terrorist attack? Do you have a policy towards Pakistan and if you do, what is that policy?” In a reply to questions about whether the Prime Minister should attend the SAARC summit scheduled to be held in Pakistan in November, he said it was for the government to take a call on the issue. He recalled that the Prime Minister had paid an impromptu visit to Pakistan last year and the way Home Minister Rajnath Singh was treated during his recent visit to the country was known to everybody.

Swachh Bharat effect: Inspired tribal sells goat to build toilet at home

Jaipur: Inspired by the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, a tribal has sold off his goat and mortgaged the ornaments of his wife to complete the construction of a toilet in his house in Rajasthan’s Dungarpur district.

A daily wager, Kanti Lal Rot, who lives with his mother, wife, children and widow of his brother, in a thatched house along Dungarpur-Ratanpur road was inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission) after he was informed about the campaign by local activists.

Representational Image. AFPRepresentational Image. AFP

Representational Image. AFP

The activists convinced him to construct a toilet in his house.

He was told that he will get Rs 4000 each from the centre, the state government and from the municipality if he constructs a toilet in his house following which he started to construct the toilet.

“He started digging work all by himself and constructed a structure with the help of some labourers after he got the first installment. The amount he got was spent in construction work. When he had no money to pay labourers, he sold one of his five goats for Rs 5000 and mortgaged silver ornaments of his wife and made the payment,” K K Gupta, Vice Chairman of Muncipality Dungarpur, said.

Gupta visited the family on Wednesday after he came to know that he had to sell his goat to make the payment for toilet construction to labourers and praised him.

He also gave him Rs 4000 to get back the mortgaged ornaments and felicitated him.

When India and China can agree on CWC, then why not on NSG?

Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi successfully convinces the global community during his foreign visits that India should be allowed into the Nuclear Supply Group (NSG), given the country’s impeccable nonproliferation record and nuclear know how, China is doing its best to deny India the exalted status.

India applied for NSG membership on 12 May, 2016, and the fate of the application will be known when the extraordinary plenary meeting of the NSG is held on 9 and 10 June. The United States, Russia and other major powers support India’s contention. Switzerland, which was against the Indian bid, has now agreed to support – a major diplomatic victory that Modi scored in Geneva on 5 June.

President Pranab Mukherjee meets China's Premier Li Keqiang at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. File photo ReutersPresident Pranab Mukherjee meets China's Premier Li Keqiang at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. File photo Reuters

President Pranab Mukherjee meets China’s Premier Li Keqiang at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. File photo Reuters

The NSG comprised 48 nuclear supplier states that have voluntarily agreed to coordinate their export controls governing transfers of civilian nuclear material and nuclear-related equipment and technology to non-nuclear-weapon states. It aims at averting nuclear exports for commercial and peaceful purposes from being used to make nuclear weapons. Its members are expected to forgo nuclear trade with governments that do not subject themselves to international measures and inspections designed to provide confidence that their nuclear imports are not used to develop nuclear arms.

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to talk to Ambassador Rafael M Grossi, chairman of the NSG, during his visit to Delhi. Underscoring the importance of the NSG, he told me that global demand for clean nuclear energy is growing, notwithstanding what the critics may say (China has or proposes to have 30 Nuclear Power Plants (NPP). India wants to have eight or 10 of them. Bangladesh is building one. NPPs are under construction in Central Asia, Southeast Asia, Latin America and East Europe. And here, one is not talking of the already well established NPPs in the developed world). Hence, there is going to be more and more nuclear trade – fuel, machineries and technologies. And here comes the importance of non-proliferation and transparency. The NSG tries to ensure transparency in nuclear trade. The NSG guidelines require that importing states provide assurances to NSG members that proposed deals will not contribute to the creation of nuclear weapons. Potential recipients are also expected to have physical security measures in place to prevent theft or unauthorised use of their imports and to promise that nuclear materials and information will not be transferred to a third party without the explicit permission of the original exporter.

In addition, final destinations for any transfer must have International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards in place. The IAEA is charged with verifying that non-nuclear-weapon states are not illicitly pursuing nuclear weapons. IAEA safeguards are to prevent nuclear material or technology from being stolen or misappropriated for weapons include inspections, remote monitoring, seals, and other measures.

The guidelines comprised two parts, each of which was created in response to a significant proliferation event that highlighted shortcomings in the then-existing export control systems. Part I lists materials and technology designed specifically for nuclear use. These include fissile materials, nuclear reactors and equipment, and reprocessing and enrichment equipment. Part II identifies dual-use goods, which are non-nuclear items with legitimate civilian applications that can also be used to develop weapons. Machine tools and lasers are two types of dual-use goods.

In sum, Grossi told me, “The mandate of the NSG is to produce, export, import nuclear material and equipment; exchange information on export and import policies; prevent misuse or abuse of legitimate trade of nuclear goods for hostile use and offer technological expertise to countries seeking its assistance.”

Once a country is admitted as a member of the NSG, what benefits do accrue to it? Does it make access to technology, equipment and material easier? Does each transfer have to be approved by the NSG? Grossi’s answers were, “In today’s world, no country operates in isolation. Nuclear industry is a big industry and you must have international cooperation as well as the needed mechanisms. Here, the membership of the NSG helps in providing comforts both to the nuclear supplier and recipient. Once admitted, a NSG member (1) gets timely information on nuclear matters, (2) contributes by way of information, (3) has confirmed credentials, (4) can act as an instrument of harmonisation and coordination , and (5) is part of a very transparent process with regard to the material, equipment and technology. These advantages cannot be quantified, but these generate a very positive atmosphere.”

However, the NSG chairman made it clear that not each transfer of information related to the nuclear field has to be approved by the NSG. “The NSG is not a supra-national authority. It is only a mechanism for exchange of information; it provides a forum for consultation,” he said.

Importantly, Grossi was evasive on India’s prospects for joining the NSG. “India’s membership quest is a work in process. India is important. No member in NSG is against India. India is far more advanced in nuclear energy than many NSG members. You just cannot ignore India. India is a key nuclear power that has focused on developing its nuclear energy for use in the agriculture sector, in the field of medicine, in the development of its nuclear plants. It has an excellent reputation, an indisputable role, which will be much more in the future. The globalisation of India’s nuclear programme is something to be welcomed.

“But then, ultimately, it (decision on India’s membership) is going to be a political decision. The NSG functions on the premise of compatibility and consensus through established guidelines. If I were to talk about how India could contribute to strengthening the NSG, I would say, in a very general statement, that all countries active in the nuclear field have something to contribute. Nobody denies this fact. The important thing is to fine tune the process; where consensus can be achieved, to do it in a fair, concise and transparent manner.”

However, Grossi was hopeful that there would be a consensus on India. And he had a point when he said, “My role as the chairman of the NSG is to facilitate the process of consensus on India’s membership. As it is, without being a member of the NSG and without being a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT), India has already got some concessions from the IAEA in 2008 on nuclear trade. So in India’s case, we are no longer very orthodox and legalistic. My responsibility, therefore, is to tell everybody where we can meet half-way. I am playing the role of an honest broker on the question of India’s membership. In fact, my experience in the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) tells me that we can find a consensus on India. If in CWC India, Pakistan and China could agree, it is not impossible to see India joining the NSG.”

I will like to emphasise the particular sentence of the NSG chairman – “So in India’s case, we are no longer very orthodox and legalistic.” But this is precisely what China is being, when it talks of blocking India on the grounds that it is not a member of the NPT. Even legalistically, China does not make any sense when it says that membership of the NPT is a prerequisite for NSG membership. When the NSG was set up in 1974, France, then a non-signatory to the NPT, became a member. Japan had not ratified the NPT when it became a member of the NSG. Neither had Argentina and Brazil.

The truth is that the Chinese objection to India’s membership in NSG is essentially political. Despite all its talks on the desirability of a multipolar world, China will never tolerate India emerging as one of these poles. In Beijing’s multipolar world, there is only one Asian pole, and that is China. For China, India is part of the “strategic periphery” which China has historically sought to weaken, control, or diplomatically manipulate. Pakistan is a pawn in this Chinese diplomatic game. There are, thus, obvious limitations to the “Hindi-Chini Bhai-Bhai (Indians and Chinese are brothers)” idea. And they constitute the biggest challenge to Modi in the realms of foreign policy.

Is this promised Acche Din? Rahul Gandhi slams rising petrol and diesel prices

Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday mounted an attack on the Modi government for raising prices of petrol and diesel, wondering whether these are the “promised acche din”. “The Modi Government increased petrol and diesel prices for the 3rd time in last one month. Is this the promised #AccheDin”, the Congress Vice President said on micro-blogging site Twitter. At the AICC briefing earlier, party spokesperson Sushmita Dev targeted the government for raising the prices of petrol and diesel for the third consecutive time in last 30 days. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>She also faulted the Modi dispensation for raising the service tax to 15 per cent.”This insensitive Government has not even spared the women of the household already reeling under high prices of Dal and vegetables and has dealt a double blow by increasing the cost of non-subsidized LPG cylinder by Rs 21 and commercial cylinder by Rs 37″, she said.She said even ATF fuel for Air Travel has been hiked by a steep 9.2 per cent making it difficult for families to travel in these summer holidays. She said while the present price of diesel (In Delhi) is Rs 53.93 per litre and that of Petrol and Rs 65.60 per litre, they should have been Rs 21.66 and Rs 25 respeectively as per the decrease in international crude prices. Taking a jibe at the government’s tagline on its 2nd anniversary that “desh badal raha hai,” she said what was actually happening was that the common man was being burdened with rising prices

Only development which has happened is on front of communalism: Sanjay Jha on Modi govt

Congress claimed that the “honeymoon phase” of the Narendra Modi-led NDA government is over and people have started questioning the Centre. “The honeymoon phase of Modi-led government is over and it cannot be extended further anymore. In a democracy, people have the right to question the government and it has already started with the Centre,” Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha said. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Releasing a book on the “failures” of the Modi government in the last two years, he alleged that “the only development which has happened is on the front of communalism”. “Opposition parties like Congress and the media have seen this development of communalism happening during the current government’s tenure,” Jha alleged, adding “a dangerous communal environment has been created in the country through issues like ‘ghar wapsi’ and ‘beef ban'”. He also claimed that BJP’s aim to have ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’ is a product of their “inner-hatred towards secularism”.Claiming that the voice of dissent against the Modi-led government has been “suppressed systematically”, the Congress spokesperson said, “We should fear as the country is in hands of a government that knows to manipulate sentiments of people.”

Two years of Modi govt: ‘NDA govt not fulfilled any of its promises,’ alleges Anil Shastri of Congress

Congress on Saturday alleged that the BJP-led NDA government’s claim of achievements was a “lie” and it “has not fulfilled any of the promises in the last two years”.”Be it in jobs creation, growth in agriculture sector, GDP growth, containing food inflation and GDP growth, Modi government is a total failure. The achievements that the government talked about is a lie and it has not fulfilled any of the promises in the last two years rule,” Senior Congress leader Anil K Shastri said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said the most laughable promise of Modi was with regard to bringing back black money and depositing Rs 15 lakh each in the bank accounts of every citizen. “No black money has been unearthed. On the other hand more black money has come in the market,” Shastri alleged.
ALSO READ Two years of Modi govt: ‘BJP celebrating without achieving anything,’ says Mallikarjun KhargeNDA that came to power on the plank of development had failed in keeping the promises and “all indices affecting the ordinary citizen are in dire straits”. The agriculture growth of minus 0.2% was the lowest growth rate in the sector in the recent years, he alleged.Taking a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his frequent foreign visits, Shastri said “it is not to promote India, but to promote Prime Minister himself. Let him promote himself, but he is not going to get any Nobel prize”, Shastri said, adding, “Modi has to be sensitive to the needs and aspirations of the people of the country”.
ALSO READ Two years of Modi govt: PM did an excellent job sloganeering but nothing on ground, says Congress leaderHe also attacked the Foreign policy of the NDA and said “it has been inconsistent, straits, inept and incompetent”.To a question on the drubbing the party had received in the recent assembly polls, he said in Assam it was the anti-incumbency factor that led to the defeat. Besides, there was a false propaganda on emigrants by the BJP. However, “we respect the mandate of the people”, he said.
ALSO READ Two years of Modi govt: Modi’s rule ‘most disappointing’ for the country, says CongressIn Tamil Nadu, he said Congress was only a minor player. With regard to Kerala, Shastri maintained that UDF and LDF used to share the power alternately.However, he said the increase in the vote share of BJP has to be viewed seriously. “Only Congress can stop the growth of BJP in the state”, he claimed. “BJP is covertly and overtly indulging in communal polarisation across the country” he alleged.

Modi govt has reduced women’s security issue into a ‘joke’: AAP hits out at BJP

New Delhi: Attacking the Centre over non-disbursement of Nirbhaya Fund, AAP on Friday accused the Narendra Modi government of reducing the serious issue of women’s security into a “joke”.

Flanked by AAP’s women legislators — Alka Lamba, Rakhi Birla and Sarita Singh — the party’s Delhi unit convenor Dilip Pandey said that the Centre is yet to have a policy on women’s security or a national law for compensation in case of crime against women.

After the rape of a 23-year-old woman in Delhi in December 2012, the Centre had created Nirbhaya Fund which could be used for the security of women.

Referring to BJP President Amit Shah’s press conference where he presented the report card of Modi government in two years in office, Pandey said there was no reference of women’s security in it.

A file photo of Narendra Modi. PTIA file photo of Narendra Modi. PTI

A file photo of Narendra Modi. PTI

“The Modi government has reduced a crucial issue of women’s security to a joke,” Pandey alleged.

He said BJP leaders are in “ostrich mode” as they have “failed” to see the “failures” of the Modi government. He claimed that employment has reached its all time low and growth in core sectors too has reached “nadir”.

Rohtas Nagar MLA Sarita Singh demanded a special session on women’s security in Parliament, similar to one organised by Delhi government.

She said if Modi government was so serious about women’s security then why has it not given assent to the bills passed by the Delhi Legislative Assembly.

“Why has the Centre not yet disbursed the Nirbhaya funds two years after coming to power and what is the status of the fund? The High Court and the Supreme Court has lashed out at the Modi government several times for not releasing the Fund.

“There was no reference of women’s security in Amit Shah’s press conference. When there is a compensation policy in Goa and Odisha, why is there no policy at the national level? Does the Centre have any policy on women’s security? Should we consider that the claims made by BJP on women’s security as ‘jumla’?” Pandey said.

Chandani Chowk legislator Alka Lamba said records show that crime against women has risen since 2014.

“The Modi government has said that there should be one- stop centre for women, but of all the districts in the country, only 14 districts have such functional centres,” Lamba said.

Rakhi Birla charged that crime against women and dalits have risen ever since the Modi government has come to power.

Two years of Modi govt: PM did an excellent job sloganeering but nothing on ground, says Congress leader

Attacking the Modi government as it completed two years in office on Thursday, Congress leader Girija Vyas questioned the GDP figures for the last two financial years and claimed the official numbers given by the ruling dispensation raised “broad skepticism”.Referring to the country’s growth figure, the Congress leader said, “Officially it grew at 7.3% in 2014-15 and 7.5% in 2015-16. But, there is broad skepticism about this data. Many experts believe the actual rate is around 5.5%.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>She told reporters here that the Modi government at the Centre has done an “excellent job on the sloganeering and shouting front” but “nothing” on the ground.”This government has done an excellent job in sloganeering and shouting from rooftops about renaming schemes, rechristening Congress-UPA’s success stories, such as Aadhar and DBT (direct benefit transfer) for LPG consumers among others, and making hollow claims,” she said.Referring to the BJP’s promise of bringing back black money from abroad within 100 days of coming to power, she asked, “Have you received Rs 15 lakh in your bank account yet?” “The pre-poll promise of Modi to bring back the black money from foreign soil was perhaps one of his biggest ‘jumlas’,” Vyas said.”Estimated by the BJP at approximately Rs 80 lakh crore, Modi promised the electorate to recover this money while Rajnath Singh promised to do this within 100 days of assuming power. But the ground reality speaks a different story,” she said.Asked about demand of some Congress leaders for carrying out “surgery” after party’s poor show in elections in four states and Union Territory of Puducherry, Vyas said she is “not aware” of any such demand.”I have not heard so,” she said.The former Union minister said BJP in its 2014 General elections manifesto had promised two crore jobs every year.”By simple calculation, it would have provided four crore jobs by May 2016. However, out of those four crore new jobs, the Modi government has managed to add only 1.55 lakh in 2015,” she claimed. On Modi’s statements of “Na Khaaunga na khaane dunga (neither I will take bribe, nor will I allow anyone)”, Vyas said the Prime Minister has kept a “maun” (silent) on this critical issue now, citing examples of “Vyapam scam, Rs 20,000 crore GSPC KG Basin scam, Lalitgate, DDCA”.”The government has failed to ensure deportation of Vijay Mallya who owes the country Rs 9,000 crore and is deliberately going slow on it,” she alleged.Targeting Union Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani over her educational degrees, she said it’s “unfortunate that such a person is heading a crucial ministry like HRD”.She criticised the government for its handling of JNU protests and Hyderabad Central University’s Rohith Vemula suicide case.”The only thing this strategy seems to have achieved is to turn college campuses from Hyderabad to Pune to Aligarh to Jadavpur into war zones,” she alleged.

What makes Modi unique? His ability at pragmatic compromise and efficient messaging

In India’s federal structure, the union government is like a gas-filled balloon that floats all around the country with not an inch of land of its own. This is a metaphor which Prime Minister Narendra Modi would appreciate as he completes the second year of his five-year term in government.

His angst with those trying to take the gas out of the balloon was evident when he recently addressed a group of retiring Rajya Sabha members. “You have stopped benefits to states by not passing the bills related to GST and afforestation,” he said in his speech. Interacting with these MPs, he mentioned that states would have benefitted during this monsoon had nearly Rs 42,000 crore meant for afforestation been cleared.

But that was not to be. Yet he is sure that all these bills would be passed in due course. It is his enormous confidence in the future that rattles his fiercest rivals. From where does he derive such confidence? Is he not a braggart? His critics ask and invent answers that suit them.

Modi defies all strait-jacketed description of his personality for many reasons. Let us examine the most prominent among them:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTIPrime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

Long experience as chief minister

Modi is the only Prime Minister to have a very long stint as chief minister. While Morarji Desai, Charan Singh and VP Singh were at the helm of their respective states, none had a long stint. Also, Modi headed a state acknowledged as an economic powerhouse. His seamless graduation as Prime Minister endows him with a unique understanding of Centre-state relations. Significantly, all chief ministers who became prime ministers never faced a hostile Centre during their stints in states. In sharp contrast, Modi consistently faced a hostile union government for a decade (2004-2014).

The dynamic of Centre-state relations and its inherent vulnerability is well understood by him. In many states where regional satraps are against Modi, he is cautious enough not take the battle to a bitter end. However, his own follies showed up when he worked against Congress regimes in Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh. Though he succeeded in Arunachal Pradesh, in Uttarakhand he found himself on the wrong side of public opinion and the legally established position and withdrew tactically. That makes one thing clear – he would make mistakes but correct himself in the face of people’s opinion.

The story of the union government’s obduracy over the Land Acquisition Bill and its “perceived capitulation” bears testimony to his capacity to change position. Insiders in the government maintain that the bill was agreed upon in a meeting of state chief ministers with Nitin Gadkari, who was the in-charge of rural development as well. Chief ministers from Kerala and Maharashtra asked for a change in the land acquisition process to fuel growth.

However, Modi soon realised that he was led up the garden path when the Opposition started resisting it. That the mistake caused the BJP to lose Delhi elections was signal enough for the Prime Minister to change tack and reorient his policies towards the rural and agriculture sectors. Apparently, Modi’s reservoir of deep understanding of Centre-state equations is one of the major attributes that is largely ignored in the analysis of his politics.

Widely travelled in India

Within the Sangh Parivar and the BJP, Modi is regarded as the only leader, perhaps next to LK Advani, to have travelled the length and breadth of the country, having spent days in nearly 450 district headquarters. As a pracharak-turned-politician, he travelled extensively and interacted with workers at block level. He still retains most of those contacts and often interacts with those workers on a regular basis. Like feisty regional leaders Nitish Kumar, Lalu Prasad, Mamata Banerjee and Arvind Kejriwal, Modi is mostly rooted to the ground. Over the years, he has evolved his own feed-back system that runs parallel to the party’s organisational structure.

Understanding of the power of messaging

As he completes two years in office, there are enough indications that messaging plays an important role in his own understanding of India. This strategy is not dissimilar to what he successfully employed in Gujarat. For instance, he has turned the completion of two years almost into a festival across India. Having gained experience in such festivities in Gujarat, Modi has started experimenting with it at the national level.

Such an exercise is apparently meant to mobilise and oil the party’s organisational machinery in a big way and infuse confidence in workers. Though Modi himself makes speeches, tweets and holds interaction almost every day, the mobilisation of the party’s organisation is aimed at dispelling scepticism among the party’s cadres about the government’s performance. In strategic parlance, it is like psy-ops where you not only checkmate the adversary but also consolidate your position by drumming up your prowess.

There is no doubt that it requires a lot of hot air to keep the balloon of the union government afloat across the country and run the business of governance efficiently. Given his long experience as an administrator and powerful politician, he understands the relevance of hot air and ground reality better than most.

Mann Ki Baat: PM Modi pitches for saving ‘every drop’ of water during Monsoon

New Delhi: Linking the intense heatwave and drought to environmental degradation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday made a strong pitch for a mass movement to save forests and conserve “every drop” of water during the upcoming Monsoon season.

Modi, who has been reviewing drought situation with Chief Ministers recently, said a number of states have taken some good initiatives towards water conservation and that he had asked Niti Aayog to study the best practices for their replication all over the country.

In his monthly radio programme ‘Mann Ki Baat’, he also talked about some other issues, like the need for moving towards cashless society for transparency and curbing black money.

A file photo of Narendra Modi. PTIA file photo of Narendra Modi. PTI

A file photo of Narendra Modi. PTI

During the 30-minute broadcast, the Prime Minister also urged the countrymen to practice Yoga for illness-free life and informed that on the International Yoga Day on 21 June, he would join a programme in Chandigarh.

Referring to the intense heatwave being witnessed in the country, he said concerns increased few days back when news came in that Monsoon could be delayed by a week beyond 1 June.

“Most parts of the country are experiencing intense heatwave. Be it humans, birds or animals, all are troubled…
It is only because of environment that such problems continue to increase. Depletion of forests has been going on, trees continue to be cut. In a way, the humankind itself destroyed the environment and put itself on the path of destruction,” he said.

He mentioned the recent cases of fire in forests of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, and said the root cause of such incidents is that there are dry leaves and little carelessness.

“That is why, saving forests and conserving water becomes everybody’s responsibility,” Modi said while underlining the need for saving “every drop” of water, which he described as “God’s ‘prasad'”.

“I urge the countrymen, let us decide that we will not let even a drop of water go waste during June, July, August and September (comprising Monsoon season)… The issue of water concerns not only the farmers but everybody… The rainy (Monsoon) season is coming.. Start the preparations now to see where to save water,” he said.

“I urge you. Do not let this (Monsoon) season go. In the coming four months, a mass movement in the form of ‘Save Water Abhiyan’ is needed to save every drop of water. And this task is not only of the governments or politicians but that of the common masses,” he said, seeking contribution from the media too in this endeavour.

Aim will be to boost trade, energy partnership: PM Modi on Iran visit

Tehran: Ahead of his maiden visit to energy-rich Iran, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said enhancing connectivity, trade, investment and energy partnership will be his priority with the post-sanction Persian Gulf nation.

Modi, who arrives here this evening, will hold talks with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and its President Hassan Rouhani to boost bilateral trade, energy and strategic ties.

“Enhancing connectivity, trade, investments, energy partnership, culture and people to people contacts would be our priority,” he said in a series of tweets.

After arrival in Tehran, he was scheduled to visit a local gurudwara.

Modi said that his meetings with Rouhani and the Supreme Leader of Iran would provide an opportunity to advance “our strategic partnership”.

Rouhani will be hosting a lunch for him.

“My meetings with President Rouhani and Hon’ble Supreme Leader of Iran will provide an opportunity to advance our strategic partnership,” he said.

Noting that he looked forward to the conclusion of the Chahbahar Agreement during his visit, the Prime Minister said, “India and Iran enjoy civilisational ties and have shared interest in the peace, security, stability and prosperity of the region.

A file photo of PM Modi. PTIA file photo of PM Modi. PTI

A file photo of PM Modi. PTI

Chabahar is a port in South-East Iran that will enable India to bypass Pakistan and open up a route to land-locked Afghanistan with which New Delhi has close security ties and economic interests.

From Chabahar, the existing Iranian road network can link up to Zaranj in Afghanistan, about 883 kms from the port. The Zaranj-Delaram road constructed by India in 2009 can give access to Afghanistan’s Garland Highway, setting up road access to four major cities in Afghanistan — Herat, Kandahar, Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif.

Besides visiting the gurudwara, Modi will also inaugurate an International Conference on ‘Retrospect and Prospect’ of India-Iran relations.

“I am looking forward to my visit to Iran today & tomorrow, at the invitation of President Rouhani,” he added. Besides signing a deal on development of Chabahar port, India is looking at doubling oil imports from Iran which a few years back was its second-biggest oil supplier, as well as getting rights to develop a giant gas field.

Post-sanctions Iran has seen a flurry of diplomatic and business activity with leaders from China and Russia courting Tehran.

Earlier, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had visited Tehran.

Chabahar port, located in the Sistan-Baluchistan Province on Iran’s southern coast, is of great strategic utility for India. It lies outside the Persian Gulf and is easily accessed from India’s western coast.

The port project will be the first overseas venture for an Indian state-owned port. India and Iran had in 2003 agreed to develop Chabahar on the Gulf of Oman outside the Strait of Hormuz, near Iran’s border with Pakistan.

But the project moved slowly because of western sanctions against Iran. The sanctions were lifted in January and since then, India has been pushing for conclusion of an agreement.

About a fifth of the oil consumed worldwide each day passes through the Strait, a shipping choke point that separates the Persian Gulf from the Gulf of Oman and Indian Ocean.

Indian investment in phase-1 will be in excess of USD 200 million, including USD 150 million line of credit from Exim Bank, an agreement for which would also be signed during the visit.

Besides signing of commercial contract for Chabahar Phase-1, Modi will witness signing of a trilateral agreement on transport and transit corridor among India, Afghanistan and Iran.

The trilateral agreement is seen to significantly enhance prospects of India’s connectivity with Afghanistan, Central Asia and beyond such as the North-South corridor.

Modi and the Iranian president are also likely to review peace and stability in the region which faces several challenges, including terrorism and violent extremism, besides cyber crime and maritime security.

Modi greets Afghan President on birthday, this time correctly

New Delhi: Over three months after wishing him wrongly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday ensured that he greeted Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on the correct date of his birthday.

“Happy Birthday President @ashrafghani…got the date right this time. :),” Modi tweeted.

A file photo of PM Modi. AFPA file photo of PM Modi. AFP

A file photo of PM Modi. AFP

Ghani responded by a tweet: “Bahut dhanyavaad Mr. PM. It’s always a delight to hear from such dear friend of mine and a strong supporter of our people.”

Modi had earlier mistakenly wished the Afghan President on 12 February.

“Happy birthday @ashrafghani. Praying for your long life & exceptional health and a joyful journey ahead,” the Prime Minister had tweeted on that day.

Ghani had then tweeted back: “Greetings from Munich Mr. PM. Although, my Birthday is on 19th May, but I’d still like to thank you for your gracious words :).”

The faux pas had led to trolling of the Prime Minister on the social media.

At UN, India highlights need for co-operation between developed, developing countries

United Nations: India has underlined the need for cooperation between developed and developing countries to achieve the ambitious new 2030 global agenda for sustainable development.

“South-South cooperation, by definition, is among partners sharing similar challenges and traversing broadly similar paths towards development… It defies easy categorisation and temptations to straitjacket it should be resisted,” India’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Tanmaya Lal said at a high level committee South-South Cooperation on Tuesday.

South-south cooperation is vastly different from the North-South aid that has a distinct context of historical obligations and where one set of partners is far better placed to assist, he said.

UN logo. ReutersUN logo. Reuters

UN logo. Reuters

“Excessive emphasis on South-South Cooperation as the principal new component of a redefined Global Partnership is misplaced. In fact, it is the North-South cooperation that needs scaling up to serve the new Agenda,” Lal said.

Lal stressed that overemphasising the necessity of harmonising standards between South-South and North-South cooperation is equally misplaced, running the risk of diluting the richness and diversity of South-South Cooperation.

He said the 2030 agenda sees the developing countries as active agents of change and not merely as passive recipients of assistance. The agenda applies equally to the North or the developed nations, enjoining them to also take concrete and measurable actions to attain sustainable development.

Lal also termed as “ironical” that while South-South Cooperation is being discussed at the UN, discussions on North-South aid continue to be a monopoly of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, defying the “spirit of universality of the new development Agenda”.

He said that India has long held that UN should provide more substantive support to South-South Cooperation.

“We remain hopeful that through the UN Office for South-South Cooperation, the institutional support of the United Nations will also increase commensurate with the importance and scale of South-South Cooperation,” Lal said.

Chronic poverty, proliferation of conflicts from geopolitical struggle for power, humanitarian crises – many of them man-made and leading to large scale movements of people reflect that there has not been enough of cooperation among nations, he said.

Lal referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s comments on the core ideals of South-South Cooperation when the Indian leader had said that south-south cooperation is a partnership beyond “strategic concerns and economic benefits” but is formed from the “emotional bonds we share and the solidarity we feel for each other”.

Uttar Pradesh CM meets PM Modi, seeks Rs 11,000 cr for drought situation

New Delhi: With Uttar Pradesh hit by a severe drought, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Saturday sought nearly Rs 11,000 crore from the Centre as Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the situation in the state and directed immediate assistance.

Days after rejecting the Centre’s offer for a water train for Bundelkhand, Yadav sought financial assistance to buy 10,000 tankers to carry water to villages of parched region and other drought-hit districts of Uttar Pradesh.

“The Centre and the state have to work together…farmers have faced the onslaught of both hail storm and drought…we want to increase the number of tankers to carry water to villagers,” Yadav told reporters after the hour-long meeting with the Prime Minister.

Akhilesh Yadav. ReutersAkhilesh Yadav. Reuters

Akhilesh Yadav. Reuters

Under various heads, Yadav demanded nearly 11,000 crore from the Centre for drought relief.

Asked why the state government had rejected offer to send water train to Bundelkhand, he said there is water in Bundelkhand but his government needs means to carry it to villages. “Can a train carry water to villages,” he questioned.

At the meeting, Modi said the Centre and states have to work together to mitigate the problems faced by the people due to the drought, a PMO statement said.

Yadav apprised Modi of the efforts undertaken for mitigation of problems faced by people because of drought conditions, it said.

It was noted that the state has submitted a memorandum two days back for assistance for the Rabi 2015-16 season and the prime minister directed that the process be completed, and assistance be provided without delay, it said.

The state shared the action plan for revival and restoration of 78,000 water-bodies including tanks, ponds, and farm ponds; one lakh new water-bodies and recharge structures.

This is to be achieved by utilising funds available in schemes such as MNREGA and Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana, the statement said.

The meeting was told that an amount of Rs 934.32 crore has been released to the state under the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF), after adjustments of the state balances.

This is in addition to Rs 506.25 crore released as central share of State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) for 2015-16 to the state. A further amount of Rs. 265.87 crore has been released as first instalment of SDRF for 2016-17.

PM Modi running a one-man ‘Presidential government’: Arun Shourie

Arun Shourie on Friday hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi accusing him of “narcissism” and of running a one-man “Presidential government” the direction of which was “dangerous” for India. Shourie, a Cabinet minister in the Vajpayee government who has drifted away from BJP in recent years, called the Modi government “a Presidential government without checks and balances” and said that the direction of the government under his supervision “is not good for India”.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a 40-minute interview to Karan Thapar for India Today TV’s “To The Point” programme, he analysed the two years of Modi government and warned that over the next three years he expected “a more systematic attempt to curb civil liberties” and an increase in “decentralised intimidation” besides “choking” of “inconvenient voices”. Shourie accused the prime minister of narcissism, which he described as both “self-love to an exaggerated extent and insecurity”, and Machiavellism, which meant that he “exploits events to his benefit”, according to a press release issued by the channel. The former minister, who has criticised Modi in the past also, said that the prime minister’s “attitude to people is to use and throw them”. He treats people “like paper napkins” and was “remorseless”, he alleged. Shourie also referred to the raging controversy over the AugustaWestland helicopter deal and criticised the Modi government for not appealing against the acquittal by the Italian trial court of the company’s two former chiefs Giuseppe Orsi and Bruno Spagnolini.According to him the reference by the Italian appeals court judge to the Indian government being unhelpful in the matter was specific to the Modi government.

PM Modi is against MPs deciding their own salary hike, say reports

India’s Members of Parliament want a hike in their salary. However, they might have hit a roadblock in the form of Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself. The Prime Minister is said to be against this practice in principle, DNA reported.

File photo of Prime Minister Modi.

File photo of Prime Minister Modi.

A joint parliamentary committee on salaries and allowances, headed by Gorakhpur MP and BJP leader Yogi Adityanath, recommended raising the salary of MPs from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh, while also increasing the constituency allowance and secretarial allowance from Rs 45,000 to Rs 90,000. It also recommended raising the pension from Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000, the report added.

The Parliamentary affairs ministry examines such matters. It has taken note of the recommendations, which may be finalised only after the ongoing budget session, DNA quoted ministry sources as saying.

“The Prime Minister has said in the past that the decision on increase in salary of MPs should be linked to the hike in pay of certain posts (say that of the Cabinet secretary or President and vice president). MPs should not decide their own salaries and allowances,” The Economic Times quoted a senior minister as saying.

Many MPs feel that the salary they draw is meagre when compared to the expenses they incur. This is the main reason why they feel the need for a pay hike, The Economic Times reported.

The last salary hike took place in 2010, when Meira Kumar was the speaker of the Lok Sabha. Back then, the salaries of MPs was hiked from Rs 16,000 to Rs 50,000, which was a three-fold rise, The Hindu said.

Modi made ‘God’ by BJP, ‘bhakts’ will land him in spot: Shiv Sena

Firing another salvo at ally BJP, Shiv Sena on Tuesday took a dim view of its senior leaders for their extravagant praise of Prime Minister Narendra Modi by making him a “God”, warning it is the “bhakts” who would eventually get politicians into trouble.Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu recently sang his paeans to the prime minister calling him as “God’s gift to India”. Naidu’s ministerial colleague Radha Mohan Singh also used a similar description while praising Modi.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a sarcastic note, Sena also asked if the emotional call the Chief Justice of India Justice TS Thakur made on Sunday for increasing the number of judges to tackle the mounting number of cases could be termed as an “achievement” of the Modi Government.”Senior BJP leaders are issuing statements that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is an ‘avtar’ of God. Since he has been made a God, there is bound to be a temple and festivals in his name. A Ram Temple may not be constructed in Ayodhya but there will be ‘shlokas’ chanted in the name of this new God,” the Sena said in its mouthpiece ‘Saamana’.The BJP should remember that former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi spent a lot of money on advertisements, but eventually lost power after the 1975-77 Emergency, it said. “It is the bhakts (devotees) that eventually get politicians and Gods into trouble. This has been so from the time of Mahabharat to the present political situation in Delhi,” it said.”The Chief Justice of India broke down in front of Prime Minister (while making an appeal to increase number of Judges). Should this be considered an achievement of the Modi- led Government?”Thirty-three per cent of the country is reeling under drought and areas like Marathwada (in Maharashtra) and Bundelkhand (a backward region spread across MP and UP) have become desolate and appear like burial grounds. Government schemes have not reached there even in two years. This cannot be termed as a failure of the previous Government,” it added.”What happened to the pre-election promises of bringing black money back, taming inflation, ending corruption? How can we say these are the achievements of Modi Government?” the Sena organ questioned.The Uddhav Thackeray-led party is an ally of BJP-led Governments in Maharashtra and also at the Centre. ‘Saamana’, a Marathi daily, has been critical of several policies and decisions of the Modi Government, ranging from its stand on Pakistan to Uttarakhand political crisis.

Uttarakhand crisis: Shiv Sena says Modi govt has ‘disrobed itself’

In yet another attack on the Modi government after the Uttarakhand High Court verdict, key NDA ally Shiv Sena today said the Centre’s decision to impose President’s rule in the hill state has been “thrown into the dustbin” and that it had “disrobed” itself. The Modi government suffered a major embarrassment after the Uttarakhand High Court in a stunning verdict quashed the imposition of President’s Rule in the state.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Sena while welcoming the landmark verdict to restore the democratically elected Government said it also “belittled” the office of the President.”The judiciary has thrown into the dustbin the Centre’s decision to impose the President’s rule in Uttarakhand. It has also discredited Centre’s stand that the President had endorsed its recommendation,” said an editorial in Sena’s mouthpiece ‘Saamana.’The Court’s observation that the President can err literally means the Modi government has committed a mistake by imposing Central rule in the hill state, it said.”The Modi government tried to use the President’s office for political gains but were prevented from doing so by the Court. Thus, not only has the Centre disrobed itself, but also belittled the office of the President,” it said.”Looking from a democratic perspective, the verdict should be welcomed,” the Sena said. The High Court also castigated the Centre for uprooting a democratically-elected government.

Salute the mothers who motivate their daughters to study: PM Modi in Jammu and Kashmir

Jammu: Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday for a day-long visit.

A file photo of Narendra Modi. PTIA file photo of Narendra Modi. PTI

A file photo of Narendra Modi. PTI

State Governor N N Vohra, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh and other senior officials of central and state governments received Modi at the airport.

The Prime Minister arrived to address the convocation of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University, formally inaugurate a 250-bedded super specialty state-of-the-art hospital and address a public rally.

India will rule the 21st century which is the era of knowledge and with 800 million youths below the age of 35 years, the dream of every young person can become a progress story of this country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the convocation ceremony.

He said this is a century of knowledge and whenever there has been an era of knowledge, India has shown the way.

“India will lead the 21st century because the energy required for the 21st century, which is knowledge and that is with India. India has 800 million youth power which is below 35 years. Dream of every youth can become a progress story for the country,” Modi said.

The Prime Minister told the students that the question of “what next” will play on their minds but the person who knows what lies ahead won’t need to depend on others.

“Recall what your parents did for you. They sacrificed their own happiness for yours. You may have thought of so much in your childhood but it may not have worked out. Forget that and instead, think of what you have achieved,” he said.

Modi said this university has been built with the contribution of millions of pilgrims, many of whom came from far away places.

“Let’s pledge that we will do something for the poor, because it was the poor pilgrim who contributed to build this university,” he said.

“Our nation is scaling new heights of progress and with such a youthful population we can achieve so much. Dream to do something and not to become someone,” he said.

Modi said a unique feature of this university is that while other varsities in the country are run by tax payers’ money given by parents, this one is being funded by millions of poor people who come to pay obeisance to Vaishno Devi shrine.

Invoking former President A P J Abdul Kalam, the Prime Minister said, “You don’t only need facilities but dedication too.

“Kalam, who laid the foundation stone of this university and was known as the Missile Man, at one time used to sell newspapers. Darshan Manjhi of Bihar had no education or facilities but he had a dream and he constructed a road all by himself.”

Modi said that if facilities were everything then the people who have all such facilities should have achieved everything in life but that was not the case.

The convocation was attended by Jammu and Kashmir Governor N N Vohra, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and Union and state ministers, among others.

The Prime Minister told the students that ‘Deekshant Samaroh’ (convocation ceremony) has a history of thousands of years as it has continued since the days of ‘Treta Yug’ (mythological period of King Rama).

“You must realise your dreams. Our scientists worked to ensure that a probe vehicle reached Mars in less than Rs seven per kilometre,” he said.

He asked the students to not get demoralised if their dreams were not always fulfilled.

“Problems come in life but you must strive to move ahead. This university is a mini-India and when you move out of here be the ambassadors of the ‘Crown of India’ (Jammu and Kashmir),” he said

With inputs from agencies

Basit exemplifies Pakistan’s double dealing: Ex-envoys

New Delhi: Was Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit speaking at variance with the official line on relations with India when he said that the bilateral “peace process is suspended”, or was it said deliberately with the permission of Islamabad?

According to former envoys, Basit’s statements are another example of Pakistan’s “double-dealing”, with one suggesting that Islamabad should “recall him for spoiling bilateral relations.”

Abdul Basit. File photo. AFPAbdul Basit. File photo. AFP

Abdul Basit. File photo. AFP

Both Prabhu Dayal, who has served in the Indian consulate of Karachi and recently released a book “Karachi Halwa”, and Rajiv Dogra, India’s former consul general in Karachi, say that the current impasse in relations and Basit’s statements show that ties with Pakistan are not moving forward.

G. Parthasarathy, India’s former high commissioner to Pakistan, was more direct. “There are two categories of Pakistani diplomats, one reporting to the foreign office, and the other beholden to the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence). I regard Basit as belonging to the second category,” Parthasarathy told IANS.

“Pakistan is not at all sincere about peace. Its game-plan has been to talk peace with us, while at the same time doing everything possible to pursue a proxy war with India and to hurt us in whichever manner possible,” Dayal, who was India’s Consul General in New York before retiring in 2013, told IANS.

“I am not at all surprised that Pakistanis have back-tracked on the peace talks, and they are not likely to become serious or sincere in this regard at any time in the near future,” he said.

On Thursday Basit, speaking at an event here, said that the peace process between India and Pakistan were “suspended” and that the National Investigation Agency team from India could not go to Pakistan to probe the Pathankot attack.

“The Pakistan ambassador says whatever the foreign ministry tells him to. He will not say anything on his own; he represents the government of Pakistan and he cannot be saying anything at variance with their position,” said Dayal, adding that Pakistan’s policy has “always been double-faced, and this is another example of it”.

Dogra termed Basit’s statement that the peace process has been suspended as “perhaps the most undiplomatic statement that I have ever heard a diplomat make”.

“You can say that negotiations are suspended, the talks are suspended; but to say that the peace process is suspended means that you are declaring war,” Dogra said.

“So, should such a high commissioner be taken seriously?” he added.

He wondered whether the Pakistan High Commissioner and the government in Islamabad were playing good cop, bad cop. “He (Basit) keeps provoking India, and Islamabad plays a calming effect, tries to temper it down – whether by design or error,” he Dogra said.

“And while Islamabad was giving the officialese (that India and Pakistan are in talks on holding talks), the high commissioner was giving his sentiments – maybe at the behest of someone or the other,” he added.

To Basit saying that a NIA would not be allowed, the former diplomat said: “The high commissioner is so authoritatively saying there is no reciprocity, it can only mean that from the Pakistan side there was no confirmation of the conditions put in our letter (India’s letter on allowing the Pakistan Joint Investigation Team).”

Asked where he saw the bilateral relations headed, Dogra, who has also served as India’s Permanent Representative at the UN. said: “I don’t think relations are headed on an upward swing. Unfortunately, the signals from Islamabad, and more particularly from the high commissioner in Delhi, are negative.”

He said the latest developments are a “signal that its (Pakistan’s) intentions are not exactly peace-like.”

The problem, he said, was that “every time India tries to open the door, Pakistan slams it shut.”

On Basit, the envoy said: “If Pakistan feels its high commissioner has stepped out of line and given a statement contrary to Pakistan’s official stand, should it not reprimand him for spoiling relations, and even call him back.”

Modi on Assam elections: ‘It’s about state’s future, not politics’

Guwahati: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said the ongoing Assembly polls in Assam is not about winning or losing, but it is significant for the future of the state.

“This election does not mean who will win or lose. It does not matter who forms the government or who does not. This election is for the future of Assam,” Modi said here at a poll meeting, his last before the second and final phase of voting on April 11.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTIPrime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

“You will have to decide the future of Assam. It is also about the future of the youth, women and children of the state,” Modi said at the rally in Maligaon Railway Stadium.

Claiming that Assam is moving backward on every issue, he said the state was among the top five after Independence, but is now among the poorest five states in India because of successive Congress governments.

“This is because of the misrule, misdeed, nepotism and corruption by Congress. Do you want to rescue Assam from this deep pit or not? Only one engine in Delhi cannot pull Assam out of this pit. I need one more engines in Assam,” Modi said.

Stating that this is his last election rally in Assam, the Prime Minister said: “My dear brothers and sisters, please vote for BJP on April 11 and elect the government with full majority.”

The rally attended by Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Kalikho Pul, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju, DoNER Minister Jitendra Singh and Union Sports Minister-cum-BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Sarbananda Sonowal.

Also were present BJP’s alliance partners AGP President Atul Bora and BPF chief Hagrama Mohilary along with candidates of the four constituencies in Guwahati. TR NN SMJ

Pathankot probe: India pushes back after Pak says ‘no reciprocity’

New Delhi: Countering the Pakistan high commissioner’s assertion that the visit by Pakistani JIT was not on reciprocity, India on Thursday said before the team’s visit here, both sides had agreed that it would be on the basis of reciprocity.

A file photo of Abdul Basit. AFPA file photo of Abdul Basit. AFP

A file photo of Abdul Basit. AFP

“We have seen comments by the Pakistani high commissioner on the visit of the JIT Team to investigate the terrorist attack on the Pathankot Air Base that have reference to reciprocity.

“MEA would like to clarify that on 26 March, 2016, before the visit of the JIT, the Indian high commission formally conveyed to the Pakistani foreign ministry that the Terms of Reference ‘are broadly agreed to with the proviso that these would be on the basis of reciprocity and followed in accordance with extant legal provisions’.

“Subsequently, the JIT visited from March 27 to April 1, 2016,” external affairs ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said.

During a media interaction earlier, Pakistan high commissioner Abdul Basit said, “The whole investigation is not about the question of reciprocity in my view. It is more about extending cooperation or our two countries cooperating with each other to get to the bottom of the incident.”

Reacting to Basit’s remarks that the India-Pak peace process stands “suspended”, Swarup referred to the press conference of Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman Nafees Zakaria in which he said,”I have stated this many times that both countries are in contact with each other and it has been reiterated from both sides that modalities are being worked out.

“I will again state that negotiations are the best means to resolve the issues. I have read the statement of the Indian foreign secretary you are referring to and in that also there was indication that the talks would take place.” He was asked about the status of India-Pak foreign secretary-level talks.

Pakistan envoy says talks with India ‘suspended’, NIA won’t be allowed to visit Islamabad

Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit on Thursday said bilateral talks between India and Pakistan were “suspended” and that there was no question of allowing an NIA team to visit Islamabad for the Pathankot probe.

However, the Ministry of External Affairs cited the Pakistan foreign ministry spokesperson saying that both sides were in contact with each other over foreign secretary level talks. MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said the visit of the National Investigation Agency team to Pakistan was on the basis of reciprocity, previously agreed upon.

The Indian Express breaks down how the hugs and handshakes between Modi and Sharif have come full circle.

Abdul Basit. File photo. AFPAbdul Basit. File photo. AFP

Abdul Basit. File photo. AFP

Asked at the Foreign Correspondents Club here about a meeting between the foreign secretaries of the two countries, Basit said: “There is no meeting scheduled for now. I think at present the peace process is suspended.

“India is not ready as yet,” Basit said, but quickly added that “we can only resolve issues through dialogue”.

Basit also ruled out a reciprocal visit by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to Pakistan to probe the Pathankot attack.

“The investigation (into the Pathankot attack) is not about reciprocity,” he said.

Swarup in his statement cited the Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesperson in Islamabad as saying that both sides were “in contact with each other” over the foreign secretary level talks.

The Pakistani spokesperson said: “…It has been reiterated from both sides that modalities are being worked out. I will again state that negotiations are the best means to resolve the issues.” He added that Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar too had indicated in a recent statement that talks would take place.

Basit also said that the arrest of an alleged Indian spy, Kulbushan Jadhav, proved Islamabad’s allegations that New Delhi was causing unrest in Balochistan.

The announcement comes nearly three and half months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Lahore on December 25 on an unannounced trip to attend the wedding of the granddaughter of his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif.

Modi’s trip had raised hopes about the resumption of peace talks between the rival neighbours.

Basit’s statement appears to be the first official word from Pakistan about the latest breakdown in the now-on-now-off peace process with India.

The meeting between the India and Pakistan foreign secretaries was earlier scheduled for January 15. But it was stalled after a group of suspected Pakistani terrorists attacked the Indian Air Force base in Pathankot, killing at least seven security personnel.

After a team of Pakistani investigators visited Pathankot to probe Indian charges that Pakistani terrorists were to blame for the January 2 attack, New Delhi had expected Islamabad to allow the NIA to visit that country to take the investigation forward.

Earlier, reading out a prepared statement, Basit referred to the arrest of alleged Indian spy Jadhav in Balochistan last month and said that it “irrefutably corroborates what Pakistan has been saying all along”.

“We are aware of all those who seek to create unrest in Pakistan and destabilise the country. They are bound to fail.”

He said Pakistan had arrested scores of terror operatives with “foreign linkages” over the past month. “The presence of such elements is quite disturbing, to say the least.”

Jadhav was arrested on March 3 after he was allegedy deployed in Iran’s Chabahar port before crossing into Balochistan to meet some separatist leaders in the restive Pakistani province. India says Jadhav was a retired naval officer, not a spy. But Pakistan released a so-called confession video by Jadhav claiming he worked for Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) — India’s external spy agency — and had financed Baloch insurgents.

Basit also spoke on Jammu and Kashmir, saying it was “the root cause of mutual distrust and other bilateral issues”.

“And attempts to put it on backburner will be counter-productive,” he added. “The resolution of (the) Jammu and Kashmir (dispute) should be fair and just.”

With IANS

PM Modi in Brussels: Trade, terrorism and investment on the cards at India-EU summit

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Brussels on Wednesday, just days after the devastating terrorist attacks in the city, to take part in the 13th Indian-European Union summit.

The visit is focused on counter-terrorism and, in the aftermath of the bombings in the Belgian capital, is being seen as a positive step to strengthen the EU-India relationship.

The PM was greeted with a red carpet welcome and a guard of honour at the Brussels airport. The visit comes just days after the twin airport and metro bombings in the city in which at least 32 people were killed, including an Indian — Raghavendran Ganesha, an Infosys employee from Bengaluru.

The PM also laid a wreath at the Maelbeek Metro Station to pay homage to the 20 victims killed during an attack on a train last Tuesday.

The aim of the summit is to yield a specific road map for EU-Indian cooperation that would lay down an action plan till 2020. Apart from the EU summit, where Modi signed several agreements with member nations, bilateral talks were also held with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel to further trade relations and develop counter-terrorism strategies. PM Modi also included meetings with Europe’s top Indian businessman, and attended a jamboree to address the Indian Diaspora late on Wednesday. The previous EU-India summit, held in New Delhi in 2012, had remained deadlocked on various key issues and a breakthrough in negotiations for a free trade agreement, although unlikely, will be the major focus of the summit.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel. AFPIndian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel. AFP

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel. AFP

Diplomats on both sides will meet to hash out a common policy to tackle issues like migration, terrorism, data security, reduction of trade duties, development of research avenues etc., and are expected to adopt declarations on water partnership, and energy and climate partnership.

The discussions in the closed door meeting will focus on latest developments in the EU’s and India’s respective neighbourhoods. This included the situations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, North Korea, Nepal, Syria and Ukraine.

Projecting a positive yet cautious stand before the summit, the EU had said in a statement that, “the summit in Brussels will be an opportunity to re-launch relations and make concrete progress on areas of mutual interest, including trade and investment, energy, climate, water and migration.”

Bilateral Trade

The meeting with Belgian PM aimed to expand trade, investment and high technology partnership between the two countries. Within the EU, Belgium is India’s second largest trade partner and in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Brussels, counter-terrorism was a major talking point of the meeting.

PM Modi issued a statement following the Brussel attacks last week, saying that ,”No words are enough to salute the resilience and spirit of the people of Belgium. We stand shoulder to shoulder with them in the wake of the horrific attacks in Brussels and share the grief of those who lost their loved ones.”

Apart from the meeting, the two also remotely activated the India-Belgium ARIES (Aryabhatta Research Institute for Observational Sciences) Telescope.

Engaging the Diaspora

In Brussels, the PM also met with the Members of European Parliament (MEPs), Indologists, Belgian CEOs as well as a wide cross section of the Indian Diaspora in Belgium. He also interacted with the Board Members of the Association of Diamond Traders in Belgium.

Modi also met with Europe’s top Indian businessmen, including a delegation of diamond traders from Antwerp, where India’s Patel community dominates the diamond trading hub – the largest in the world, with about 84% of the world’s rough diamonds. Later in the day, Modi also met with a jamboree to address the Indian Diaspora, in the style of other similar gatherings for Indians in the UK, Germany and the US. From Brussels, Modi will leave for Washington to attend the Nuclear Security Summit on 31 March and 1 April and from there, he will travel to Saudi Arabia on a two-day visit with a focus on boosting energy and security cooperation.

‘God’s gift to India’: Venkaiah Naidu has some high praise for PM Modi

New Delhi: Union minister M. Venkaiah Naidu on Sunday dubbed Prime Minister Narendra Modi “god’s gift to India” and a “messiah of the poor” and said India is recognised and respected everywhere because of him.

Urban Development Minister Venkaiah NaiduUrban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu

Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu

“Modi is a god’s gift for India. He is the messiah of the poor. He inherited challenges in each and every sector. He is steering clear of them,” Naidu said while moving the political resolution adopted on the final day of two-day BJP national executive meet.

He also said that Modi is seen as a leader of the largest democracy in the world.

“India is recognised and respected everywhere because of Narendra Modi,” he said.

However, when reporters asked Home Minister Rajnath Singh about Naidu’s statement, he said he “did’nt hear Venkaiahji saying this”.

He also declined to reply whether he or the BJP believes Modi is god’s gift to the nation.

Naidu also said that Modi has become one of the most popular leaders in the world and is working to make India a strong and wealthy country.

IANS

BJP to woo Dalits, farmers; Modi urges workers to focus on development

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday called on party workers to lay thrust on the agenda of development and asked them to not to be diverted by the non-issues as the two-day BJP national executive meeting drew up a roadmap to reach out to Dalits as well as rural and farm communities.

“We need to focus on our own agenda. Let’s not get trapped by opposition. Vikas, vikas, vikas (Development) is my only focus and it is our country’s solution to all problems,” Prime Minister Modi told the party meeting.

Narendra Modi. APNarendra Modi. AP

Narendra Modi. AP

Home Minister Rajnath Singh told reporters later that Prime Minister in his address said, “It will be an endeavour of our (BJP’s) rivals that we get embroiled in all kinds of unnecessary controversies and our government’s developmental works are not discussed among people.”

The two-day BJP national executive meeting concluded here on Sunday with the ruling party adopting a resolution in which it said “nationalism, national unity and integrity are an article of faith with the BJP”.

Amid debate about slogans like “Bharat Mata ki Jai”, the party accused a “very microscopic minority” of “indulging in a kind of demagogy that goes against the very essence of our constitution”.

“Talking of destruction of Bharat cannot be supported in the name of freedom of expression,” it said.

“Our constitution describes India as Bharat also and refusal to chant victory to Bharat is tantamount to disrespect to our constitution itself. ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ is not merely a slogan. It was a mantra of inspiration to countless freedom fighters during the independence struggle. It is the heartbeat of a billion people today. It is reiteration of our constitutional obligation as citizens to uphold its primacy. The BJP wishes to make it clear that it will firmly oppose any attempt to disrespect Bharat and weaken its unity and integrity,” the party said.

In an attempt to reach out to Dalits, Rajnath Singh announced that it was decided prime minister will visit Mhow in Madhya Pradesh, the birthplace of the Constitution’s architect Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar on his birth anniversary on April 14.

He said the party has chalked out various future programmes and will reach out to every section of the marginalised society.

“From April 14 to 16, our leaders and party cadres will hold social harmony programmes at panchayat level. During the period, they will convey the messages of Dr. Ambedkar to the people and will reward the talented students of that panchayat,” he said.

Rajnath said Modi will also visit Jamshedpur in Jharkhand on April 24, where he will address a conference of representatives of panchayats.

BJP president Amit Shah announced in Sunday’s session that for 10 days from April 14, the party will have programmes under the aegis of Gram Uday to Bharat Uday, Singh said.

From April 17 to April 20, there will be Kisan Sabhas in all villages. “The prime minister is committed to double farm income by 2022. We will enlist the opinion of farmers on this,” he said.

Talking to reporters separately, Rajnath Singh and Jaitley said that while the party was open to scrutiny and criticism, it “will not tolerate anti-nationalism”.

“We expect political opposition as a normal course but at any cost we cannot tolerate any anti-national thought process,” Singh said.

Jaitley said the ideology of “nationalism” guides the party’s belief and that chanting “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” — the cause of a recent row especially in Maharashtra — was an issue which should not be debated at all.

“We believe this is one issue on which there should be no debate. People in India should have absolutely no difficulty as far as this slogan is concerned and the best example we saw yesterday (Saturday) at Eden Gardens (during the India-Pakistan World Twenty20 match),” Jaitley said.

In Maharashtra, MIM legislator Waris Pathan was suspended on March 16 from the assembly after he refused to say “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”.

Jaitley also asserted that the party will record a “decisive” victory in Assam and will improve its performance in other states like Kerala and West Bengal.

He mocked the Congress for playing second fiddle to regional parties in many states.

“Look at Bihar, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu. I think the Congress has lowered its political ambitions. It is quite content becoming the tail-ender of any alliance,” he said.

IANS

Modi talks ‘nationalism’, BJP explains ‘freedom of speech’ at party’s national level pre-poll huddle

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday that “nationalism is our strength” and needs to be spread while the BJP stressed the ideology of “nationalism” guides its belief, and the constitution allows freedom of speech but does not permit “destruction of the nation”.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTIPrime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

“Nationalism is our strength and it should be further spread,” Home Minister Rajnath Singh quoted Modi as saying in his concluding remarks at the two-day meet of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s national executive.

According to him, Modi also said that anti-nationalism would not be tolerated at any cost.

The political resolution, passed at the meet, said that ideology of nationalism guides the party’s belief and direction.

“Constitution of India allows complete freedom to dissent and disagreement but does not permit destruction of the nation. We completely support freedom of expression,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told reporters after the resolution’s passage.

On “Bharat Mata ki Jai”, he said: “We believe this is one issue on which there should be no debate. People in India should have absolutely no difficulty as far as this slogan is concerned and the best example we saw yesterday (Saturday) at Eden Gardens (during India-Pakistan Twenty20 world cup match).”

The resolution said that “nationalism, national unity and integrity are an article of faith with the BJP” and accused a “very microscopic minority” of “indulging in a kind of demagogy that goes against the very essence of our constitution”.

“Talking of destruction of Bharat can’t be supported in the name of freedom of expression,” it said, warning the refusal to chant “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” in the name of freedom is also unacceptable.

“Our constitution describes India as Bharat also and refusal to chant victory to Bharat is tantamount to disrespect to our constitution itself. ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ is not merely a slogan. It was a mantra of inspiration to countless freedom fighters during the independence struggle.

“It is the heartbeat of a billion people today. It is reiteration of our constitutional obligation as citizens to uphold its primacy. The BJP wishes to make it clear that it will firmly oppose any attempt to disrespect Bharat and weaken its unity and integrity.”

BJP president Amit Shah, in his address on Saturday, said the party would not accept criticism of the nation in the name of freedom of speech and expression.

IANS

After SAARC meeting, Sushma Swaraj leaves Nepal for India

Pokhara: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Friday left this Nepalese resort town after attending the SAARC Ministerial meeting on sidelines of which she held the first bilateral talks with her Pakistani counterpart after the Pathankot terror attack and discussed the issue.

After wrapping up her three-day visit, Swaraj left Pokhara on an Mi17 chopper for Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh from where she will head to Delhi on a special flight.

She announced on Thursday that a Pakistani Joint Investigation Team will arrive in India on 27 March to carry forward its probe into the Pathankot terror attack.

Sushma Swaraj. File photo. PTISushma Swaraj. File photo. PTI

Sushma Swaraj. File photo. PTI

The assault figured very high in the over 20-minute meeting between Swaraj and Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz, the first political-level engagement between the two sides after the 2 January terror strike on the key air force base.

Swaraj also accepted Pakistan’s invitation for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit Islamabad for the SAARC Summit to be held on 9-10 November this year.

She also pitched for unleashing the “collective strength” of SAARC while underlining the need for a South Asian Economic Union with greater connectivity and forward movement on pending agreements on rail and motor vehicles.

PTI

‘BJP subscribes to RSS ideology, gets signals from us but not under remote control’: RSS

New Delhi: RSS on Thursday said it sends “signals” to the BJP-led government at the Centre but dismissed suggestions it held a “remote control” over it. It also said that it has a right to give suggestions to the government like any other organisation in a democracy and is proud to have produced two prime ministers – Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Narendra Modi.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

“There is no control, but certainly remote is there. Remote is there, signal is there. RSS is not having any remote control on BJP or any other political party.

“RSS swayamsevaks are working actively and are participants in BJP. BJP also subscribes to certain views and ideology of RSS and the inspiration they take in public life. If family members come to RSS for suggestions, is it remote control or affection? There is no complaint from BJP and there is no wish from RSS,” RSS Joint General Secretary Dattatreya Hosabale said at an event.

Asked if RSS was an ‘extra-constitutional authority’ in the present government, he said, “Where is the extra-constitutional authority? We are not doing any hide and seek. Presentations at RSS meeting is not wrong. If they make presentations before RSS, they can make presentations before this conclave. It is a democracy. We have every right to make suggestions to any government.”

Rejecting criticism that RSS gave diktats to the Modi government, he said RSS swayamsevaks are working actively in BJP and they are like “family members”.

Hosabale said in a democracy the RSS can make suggestions to any government of the day, be it BJP or Congress, even though Congress will not listen to them.

“We are proud that RSS has produced two prime ministers. Both are listening to the voice of the people,” he said, adding both Vajpayee and Modi listened to them.

“Vajpayee also listened and Modi also is listening. But, listening does not mean he is heeding (to) it. We are proud. I wish Vajpayee also had the opportunity to become prime minister at Modi’s age,” the RSS leader said. He said, “We wanted that a budget of this kind should come. We had also suggested to Congress.”

Asked if RSS has asked for a temple, Hosabale said, “We have asked for a mandir at Ayodhya. That is our dream. It is the wish of the people. It is for the country and government to take up the issue. We are hopeful. We are also confident that they will also fulfil the aspirations of people. They have included it in their manifesto.”

To a question on whether homosexuality is a crime as considered under Article 377 IPC, he said, “I don’t think homosexuality should be considered a criminal offence as long as it does not affect the lives of others in society.”

He said, “sexual preferences are private and personal. Why should RSS express its views in a public forum? RSS has no view on that. It is for people to have their way. Personal preference of sex is not discussed in RSS and we don’t even want to discuss that.”

Section 377 of Indian Penal Code terms homosexuality as unnatural and carries a maximum punishment of 10 years in jail. Going by the global trends in this regard, there have been demands within the country to decriminalise homosexuality.

PTI

Ahead of Modi visit, India, US focus on ‘concrete results’

Washington: Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s visit, India and the US have agreed to work together to achieve concrete results in key areas including defence, trade and investment and civil nuclear energy.

S Jaishankar.S Jaishankar.

S Jaishankar.

They have also agreed to deepen their collaboration against Pakistan-based terror groups Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), responsible for several terrorist attacks in India and other terrorist threats.

The agreements were reached during Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar’s just ended four-day visit to Washington to review India-US bilateral relations and to prepare for India’s participation at the March 31-April 1 Nuclear Security Summit (NSS).

Modi is expected to have a bilateral meeting with President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the 50-nation summit. There is also widespread speculation that he may also meet his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif, who too has been invited to the NSS.

Jaishankar’s meetings in Washington “focussed on further consolidating bilateral relations in the year ahead and enhancing convergence on regional and global issues”, according to an Indian embassy press release.

“In this context, both sides agreed to work for achieving concrete results in key areas of bilateral cooperation including defence, trade and investment and civil nuclear energy,” it said.

During a meeting with US National Security Advisor Susan Rice at the White House here on Tuesday, the two agreed to deepen their already close collaboration against Lashkar-e-Taeba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and other terrorist threats.

While LeT is held responsible for the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, JeM is blamed for the January 2 attack on the Indian Air Force station at Pathankot.

Rice and Jaishankar also “affirmed their commitment to deepening bilateral cooperation on climate change, trade and defence,” according to a statement by National Security Council (NSC) spokesperson Ned Price.

“They also discussed US-India collaboration against Lashkar-e-Taeba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and other terrorist threats,” it said.

“Building on their leaders’ commitment to make the US-India partnership a defining relationship for the 21st century, they agreed to deepen their already close collaboration on these issues.”

Apart from Rice, Jaishankar also had meetings with Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, US Trade Representative Mike Froman, Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Under Secretary of State Thomas Shannon, Under Secretary of State Rose Gotteemoeller as well as other senior officials.

In the US Congress, he had meetings with Chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee Senator Bob Corker, Chairman of Senate Armed Services Committee Senator John McCain and Chairman of Senate Intelligence Committee Senator Richard Burr to exchange views on bilateral, regional and international issues.

IANS

The match report they didn’t print: Football Club Indoctrin Nationala vs Jay Anew, a tale of self-goals

If one were watching a football match, Football Club Indoctri Nationala (FCIN) would be in the running for a record number of self-goals.

The opposing side would be approaching half-time – yes, this game would still have a long way to go – in better spirits. Audiences would have applauded the surprise goals it had slipped in, seemingly out of nowhere, amid otherwise extraordinarily effective defensive play.

Audiences would be growing by the minute, and the match would be the talk of town. Among the hottest topics of discussion: when would this wonder team now taking on FCIN with such zest and nerve reveal the name and banner under which its players would play the big championship match?

For the moment, it wasn’t even clear who all were playing on the amazing team opposing FCIN – except that they were cool, unflappable and better coordinated than FCIN. Calmly, they dribbled and slipped the ball to each other, playing with the amazing coordination of a dream team.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Let’s imagine some highlights: FCIN’s first self-goal came when the team went after Jay Anew in a coordinated side tackle by Mantry, Santry, Bussy, Abe Weepy and others – after the grey-masked bandana-ed Kash Mearly tried to slip a loose ball past Abe Weepy.

Already off-side, Kash Mearly slipped off the field while team FCIN swooped in on Jay Anew. Nobody missed Kash Mearly. He had seemed dodgy anyway. No one was sure who had invited him as a guest player.

FCIN had a reason for letting Kash Mearly slip away. And the entire FCIN team was really excited at the chance to swoop on to Jay Anew. They all hated Jay Anew, who had spent earlier seasons flashing a red card at all FCIN’s players, as if he was a referee.

The second self-goal came when FCIN tried to run down the spindly Tired Comred, who was playing left of centre, with a flying tackle in the early minutes of the game. As Polly Tickle Dogmatix at left back ran to Tired Comred’s side, FCIN tackled both together. The duo bounced back, ably helped by a deft pass from Dilly Sarkar and surprise backing from Raul, the hitherto ineffective centre-forward.

Team Opposition had come together like a dream – a nightmare for FCIN.

The third self-goal came off a penalty after a foul by FCIN team members standing off-field near the bench. That’s when the audience started growing. It was now clear that this was no benefit friendly. It was going to be a crucial match for the next championship.

The game slowed down for a while, while the opposing team engaged in brilliant defensive play. Then came the big goal of the match, under floodlights. The ball soared in with a piercing yell from the new striker – ‘waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaz doh! It happened as soon as FCIN allowed striker Kanya Prez back on the field after forcing him off over a disputed foul and following up with injuries off the field.

As soon as he got back, Kanya Prez got the ball under his left foot at the very edge of the field. Playing expertly barefoot, he struck the ball with a light but firm touch – unerring. The ball arced across the field straight into FCIN’s goal, starkly lit by the floodlights.

Kanya Prez’s injuries seemed to have worked like an elixir. The audience on the left of the field and on either side was on its feet in a thunderous wave of applause. FCIN was on the back foot. The loud fans who had been sitting behind the FCIN goal went quiet. Some showed their thumbs down.

SFX Mirror

A mirror called fudge-tape had been laid across the centre line. Players could pass through it but the audience behind FCIN’s goal couldn’t see past it. To them, the opposite goal seemed to be near that centre line. The entire game seemed to be only on their side of the field. Whenever FCIN kicked the ball to the centre line, their fans cheered wildly – sure that they had scored a goal. To them, the penalty area seemed like centre-field.

Fudge-tape was very effective. It amplified the booming commentaries from behind the FCIN goal line. Through most of the first half, those commentaries spoke repeatedly of Kash Mearly’s early move, calling it a foul the like of which could not be tolerated on anyone’s home ground.

The referee – having sworn never to use a red card – kept flashing what looked like a saffron card at the opposing team. They didn’t like it. Some of them flashed blue cards back at him. A few in the audience held up `boo’ cards.

The booming commentators in the box behind the FCIN goal line yelled shrilly that blue looked green. Either way, it upset them. Authority could do no wrong, they yelled, so it was a green light for the referee to force the opposing team to like him.

The referee, who was called Patri Arki, agreed. He sent some of the opposing team into the barred and bolted dressing-down room, and threatened to send other team members there. But they still did not like him.

So, having taken a green signal from their blue cards, he would not award penalties to the opposing team, even when they and their fans appealed that FCIN had played foul. The linesmen too turned a blind eye when FCIN kicked the ball – and members of the opposing team – off the field.

Speaking in tongues? After BJP leader’s remarks on Kanhaiya, party sacks him, asks him to hold his tongue

Badaun: The BJP Yuva Morcha leader, who had announced a reward of Rs 5 lakh for cutting off JNU Students union leader Kanhaiya Kumar’s tongue, was on Saturday expelled from primary membership of the party for six years.

The president of district unit of BJP, Harish Shakya, said that the party has expelled district president of BJP Yuva Morcha, Kuldeep Varshnay for six years.

Shakya told reporters that party has nothing to do with Varshnay’s controversial statement.

Image courtesy: Tewitter/@ibnliveImage courtesy: Tewitter/@ibnlive

Image courtesy: Tewitter/@ibnlive

“Varshnay’s statement is his personal one and the party has nothing to do with it…he has been expelled from the primary membership of the party for giving such a statement without the consent of party office bearers,” he said.

Shakya stated that a notice to remove Varshnay from the post had been issued six months ago, and Ankit Maurya was made working president in his place.

Varshnay had on Friday announced Rs 5 lakh prize money for cutting off the tongue of Kanhaiya Kumar who he had alleged was speaking against the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi ever since he was released on bail.

Kumar who was arrested on February 12 on sedition charges was released from the Tihar jail on 3 March after the Delhi High Court granted him interim bail for six months.

PTI

#SwachhSurvekshan: Mysuru ranked the cleanest among 73 cities; Dhanbad is the filthiest

Mysuru is the cleanest of 73 cities and Dhanbad in Jharkhand is the dirtiest in the “seminal” Swachh Survekshan results the government rolled out on Monday — a cleanliness monitor based on extensive surveys across Indian cities carried out by Quality Council of India (QCI). Navi Mumbai and Greater Mumbai both make the cut and are grouped in “leader cities”.

Image courtesy NeelabhToonsImage courtesy NeelabhToons

Image courtesy NeelabhToons

Chandigarh, Tiruchirapalli, Delhi (NDMC) and Vishakapatnam come right behind Mysuru in the top five “leaders” which have high levels of sanitation and cleanliness. Chennai in Tamil Nadu just about makes it into the Aspiring Leaders category coming in last among 22 cities while Panaji leads this bunch. More than one city in Bihar is bunched with the laggards, including state capital Patna. Two important cities in Kerala — a state which goes to the polls soon, are in the ‘Accelaration required’ category.

Unveiling the results, Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said “a clean India is the most profound statement that the country can make to the world which is keenly watching us.”

Prime Minister Modi launched ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ in 2014 and laid a roadmap for improving the level of sanitation and cleanliness in the country with a vision to create a Clean India by 2019, the 150th birth year of Mahatma Gandhi. The QCI Swachh Survekshan informs this effort with measurable data points — the first of its kind in the country. QCI and the government invite citizens to tweet their views to @SwachhBharatGov.

Key findings:

Less than 3 in 10 people (25 percent) have access to a public toilet within 500 metres.
Almost 9 in 10 of those surveyed have a toilet at home.
Only 2 in 10 people (23 percent) can locate a trash can.
Less than 2 in 10 (18 percent) people find their areas always clean.

Although cities have been ranked point wise with a variety of indicators and cross checks, these four categories offer a better “understanding” of the results, says the survey.

Cities with a score of 1,400 and above are leaders, those with less than 1,000 are slow movers while the other two categories come within the 1,000-1,400 point scale.

The total of 2,000 points at the upper end comes from three sources: Service level status data (1,000), independent observation (500) and citizen feedback (500)

Calling this a “seminal project”, Quality Council of India chairman Adil Zainulbhai said he hopes the survey “becomes the cornerstone for a much intensive exercise of local government and citizens working together for a better future for the next generation”.

“A well ranked city wholly benefits from its cleanliness – by leading to influx of the new-age, economically strong working class population further strengthening the economic market of the city,” says Zainulbhai, former India chief for McKinsey.

“In fact, we have already started moving towards our next task — even more challenging. It is to make Swachh Survekshan a quarterly affair and go on to rank as many as 4,000 cities and towns in the country,” Zainulbhai said.

Adil Zainulbhai. Twitter @ChairmanQCIAdil Zainulbhai. Twitter @ChairmanQCI

Adil Zainulbhai, chairman of Quality Council of India. Twitter @ChairmanQCI

Prime Minister Modi also weighed in saying: “We reached Mars. No PM or Minister went. It was the people who did it, our scientists who did it. So can’t we create a Clean India?”

Underling the ‘objective’ nature of the Swachh Survekshan survey, Zainulbhai said the “power and penetration of technology was used to minimize human subjectivity in the surveys.”

“The assessors were given tablets to fill the surveys and click evidence-based pictures of the locations in the cities. The pictures were also geo-tagged to detect precise locations, ensuring accuracy and transparency. Assessors were not given the op-tion to amend, revise or re-do the survey unless approved or requested by the control room, on a real time basis.”

There are 15 cities in the “leader” category while the other 58 cities get sorted into three other categories — ‘Slow movers’, ‘Accelaration required’ and ‘Aspiring leaders’.

Other “leader” cities:
Surat
Rajkot
Gangtok
Pimpri Chinchwad
Greater Mumbai
Navi Mumbai
Pune
Vadodara
Ahmedabad
Imphal

Aspiring leaders:

Panaji
Thane
Coimbatore
Nagpur
Hyderabad
Bhopal
Allahabad
Bhubhaneshwar
Vijayawada
Indore
Shimla
Madurai
Lucknow
Warangal
Nashik
Jaipur
Gwalior
Agartala
Ludhiana
Vasai – Virar
Gurgaon
Chennai

Acceleration required:
Delhi-SDMC
Bengaluru
Thiruvananthapuram
Aizawl
Gandhinagar
Delhi-North DMC
Kozhikode
Durg
Kanpur
Agra
Srinagar
Amritsar
Guwahati
Faridabad
Shillong
Delhi-EDMC
Hubli Dharwad
Kochi

Slow movers:
Aurangabad
Jodhpur
Kota
Cuttack
Kohima
Dehradun
Ranchi
Jabalpur
Kalyan-Dombivili
Varanasi
Jamshedpur
Ghaziabad
Raipur
Meerut
Patna
Itanagarh
Asansol-Durgapur
Dhanbad

Self assessment and independent data collection

After the initial round of self assessment, Swachh Survekshan moved to the next round of independent observation and on-ground assessment by QCI assessors. “Survey assessors used maps and simple handheld recording formats and photographs” to record data and visual evidence, with “location, date and time are tagged on all the pictures.”

4 zones in each municipality

Each municipal jurisdiction was divided into 4 zones and QCI zeroed in on these specific locations within that zoning: Slums including informal settlements and urban villages, ‘non-slum’ neighborhoods, main market area and places of worship, bulk waste generators including hotels, banquet halls, weekly vegetable market areas, two community Toilets and 2 public toilets in each zone.

Key numbers in #SwachhSurvekshan:

73 cities ranked
1 lakh citizens participated
110 assessors
3,000 plus locations
1,168 public toilets
876 residential areas

The exercise also involved six measurable aspects of sanitation and hygiene:

– How cities proposed to stop open defecation and integrate solid waste management systems

– Communication strategies on information, education and behavioral change

– Systems adopted for sweeping, door-to-door collection and transportation of waste

– Efficiency in processing and disposal of waste

– Deployment of public and community toilets

– Progress in construction of individual household toilets.

QCI’s Zainulbhai said a happy outcome of this survey would be healthy competition between cities and bottom-up change for a cleaner India and a sense of ownership among government stakeholders and citizens.

With inputs from IANS

#SwachhSurvekshan: Mysuru is India’s cleanest among 73 cities; Delhi in top 5 while Dhanbad is dirtiest

Mysuru is the cleanest of 73 cities and Dhanbad in Bihar is the dirtiest in the “seminal” Swachh Survekshan results the government rolled out on Monday — a cleanliness monitor based on extensive surveys across Indian cities carried out by Quality Council of India (QCI). Navi Mumbai and Greater Mumbai both make the cut and are grouped in “leader cities”.

Chandigarh, Tiruchirapalli, Delhi (NDMC) and Vishakapatnam come right behind Mysuru in the top five “leaders” which have high levels of sanitation and cleanliness. Chennai in Tamil Nadu just about makes it into the Aspiring Leaders category coming in last among 22 cities while Panaji leads this bunch. More than one city in Bihar is bunched with the laggards, including state capital Patna. Two important cities in Kerala — a state which goes to the polls soon, are in the ‘Accelaration required’ category.

Unveiling the results, Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said “a clean India is the most profound statement that the country can make to the world which is keenly watching us.”

Prime Minister Modi launched ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ in 2014 and laid a roadmap for improving the level of sanitation and cleanliness in the country with a vision to create a Clean India by 2019, the 150th birth year of Mahatma Gandhi. The QCI Swachh Survekshan informs this effort with measurable data points — the first of its kind in the country. QCI and the government invite citizens to tweet their views to @SwachhBharatGov.

Key findings:

Less than 3 in 10 people (25 percent) have access to a public toilet within 500 metres.
Almost 9 in 10 of those surveyed have a toilet at home.
Only 2 in 10 people (23 percent) can locate a trash can.
Less than 2 in 10 (18 percent) people find their areas always clean.

Adil Zainulbhai. Twitter @ChairmanQCIAdil Zainulbhai. Twitter @ChairmanQCI

Adil Zainulbhai, chairman of Quality Council of India. Twitter @ChairmanQCI

Although cities have been ranked point wise with a variety of indicators and cross checks, these four categories offer a better “understanding” of the results, says the survey.

Cities with a score of 1,400 and above are leaders, those with less than 1,000 are slow movers while the other two categories come within the 1,000-1,400 point scale.

The total of 2,000 points at the upper end comes from three sources: Service level status data (1,000), independent observation (500) and citizen feedback (500)

Calling this a “seminal project”, Quality Council of India chairman Adil Zainulbhai said he hopes the survey “becomes the cornerstone for a much intensive exercise of local government and citizens working together for a better future for the next generation”.

“A well ranked city wholly benefits from its cleanliness – by leading to influx of the new-age, economically strong working class population further strengthening the economic market of the city,” says Zainulbhai, former India chief for McKinsey.

“In fact, we have already started moving towards our next task — even more challenging. It is to make Swachh Survekshan a quarterly affair and go on to rank as many as 4,000 cities and towns in the country,” Zainulbhai said.

Prime Minister Modi also weighed in saying: “We reached Mars. No PM or Minister went. It was the people who did it, our scientists who did it. So can’t we create a Clean India?”

Underling the ‘objective’ nature of the Swachh Survekshan survey, Zainulbhai said the “power and penetration of technology was used to minimize human subjectivity in the surveys.”

“The assessors were given tablets to fill the surveys and click evidence-based pictures of the locations in the cities. The pictures were also geo-tagged to detect precise locations, ensuring accuracy and transparency. Assessors were not given the op-tion to amend, revise or re-do the survey unless approved or requested by the control room, on a real time basis.”

There are 15 cities in the “leader” category while the other 58 cities get sorted into three other categories — ‘Slow movers’, ‘Accelaration required’ and ‘Aspiring leaders’.

Other “leader” cities:
Surat
Rajkot
Gangtok
Pimpri Chinchwad
Greater Mumbai
Navi Mumbai
Pune
Vadodara
Ahmedabad
Imphal

Aspiring leaders:

Panaji
Thane
Coimbatore
Nagpur
Hyderabad
Bhopal
Allahabad
Bhubhaneshwar
Vijayawada
Indore
Shimla
Madurai
Lucknow
Warangal
Nashik
Jaipur
Gwalior
Agartala
Ludhiana
Vasai – Virar
Gurgaon
Chennai

Acceleration required:
Delhi-SDMC
Bengaluru
Thiruvananthapuram
Aizawl
Gandhinagar
Delhi-North DMC
Kozhikode
Durg
Kanpur
Agra
Srinagar
Amritsar
Guwahati
Faridabad
Shillong
Delhi-EDMC
Hubli Dharwad
Kochi

Slow movers:
Aurangabad
Jodhpur
Kota
Cuttack
Kohima
Dehradun
Ranchi
Jabalpur
Kalyan-Dombivili
Varanasi
Jamshedpur
Ghaziabad
Raipur
Meerut
Patna
Itanagarh
Asansol-Durgapur
Dhanbad

Self assessment and independent data collection

After the initial round of self assessment, Swachh Survekshan moved to the next round of independent observation and on-ground assessment by QCI assessors. “Survey assessors used maps and simple handheld recording formats and photographs” to record data and visual evidence, with “location, date and time are tagged on all the pictures.”

4 zones in each municipality

Each municipal jurisdiction was divided into 4 zones and QCI zeroed in on these specific locations within that zoning: Slums including informal settlements and urban villages, ‘non-slum’ neighborhoods, main market area and places of worship, bulk waste generators including hotels, banquet halls, weekly vegetable market areas, two community Toilets and 2 public toilets in each zone.

Key numbers in #SwachhSurvekshan:

73 cities ranked
1 lakh citizens participated
110 assessors
3,000 plus locations
1,168 public toilets
876 residential areas

The exercise also involved six measurable aspects of sanitation and hygiene:

– How cities proposed to stop open defecation and integrate solid waste management systems

– Communication strategies on information, education and behavioral change

– Systems adopted for sweeping, door-to-door collection and transportation of waste

– Efficiency in processing and disposal of waste

– Deployment of public and community toilets

– Progress in construction of individual household toilets.

QCI’s Zainulbhai said a happy outcome of this survey would be healthy competition between cities and bottom-up change for a cleaner India and a sense of ownership among government stakeholders and citizens.

With inputs from IANS

US F-16 sale: Congress takes a dig at Modi, calls Pakistan a ‘terrorist entity at its core’

New Delhi: Congress today took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over Obama administration’s decision to sell F-16 jets to Pakistan, saying his “singular achievement” on foreign policy front is that both US and Russia have become “major arms suppliers” to Pakistan. “The singular achievement of Modi’s foreign policy is that both US and Russia have become major arms suppliers to Pakistan,” party spokesperson Manish Tewari said here.

Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari. PTI

Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari. PTI

He said the US has a long standing defence relationship with Pakistan “despite it being virtually a terrorist entity at its core”.

“F-16s are not tactical weapons. They are strategic platforms that have the potential of tilting the conventional power balance in the region,” he said. India on Saturday, summoned US Ambassador Richard Verma here and conveyed its “displeasure and disappointment” over Obama administration’s decision to sell F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan.

Despite mounting opposition from influential lawmakers from both the Republican and Democratic parties, the US State Department notified the US Congress that it has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Pakistan for F-16 Block 52 aircraft,
equipment, training, and logistics support. The proposal needs approval by the US Congress.

PTI

Stop double standards on dealing with terror, India and UAE tell the world

New Delhi: India and the UAE have strongly condemned state sponsors of terrorism and use of terrorism as a state policy, according to a joint issued on Friday, the concluding day of the three-day visit to India of Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Commander of the USE Armed Force Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Image courtesy: Twitter/@MEAIndiaMohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Image courtesy: Twitter/@MEAIndia

Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Image courtesy: Twitter/@MEAIndia

The statement said that both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sheikh Mohamed “strongly condemned extremism and terrorism in all of their forms and manifestations, irrespective of who the perpetrators are and of their motivations”.

“They reiterated that any justification for terrorism and any link between extremism or terrorism and religion should be strongly rejected by the international community,” it stated.

“They reiterated their condemnation for efforts, including by states, to use religion to justify, support and sponsor terrorism against other countries, or to use terrorism as instrument of state policy.”

The statement also deplored efforts by countries to give religious and sectarian colour to political issues and pointed out the responsibility of all states to control the activities of the so-called “non-state actors”, and to cut all support to terrorists operating and perpetrating terrorism from their territories against other states.

“The two sides deplored the use of double standards in addressing the menace of international terrorism and agreed to strengthen cooperation in combating terrorism both at the bilateral level and within the multilateral system,” it stated.

“In the context of the growing phenomenon of religious intolerance and radicalisation being witnessed worldwide, the two leaders commended each other on their efforts to build pluralistic societies based on universal values of humanity and peaceful co-existence among different faiths and communities.”

On the business and economic front, the Gulf nation expressed its interest in investing in infrastructure development in India, especially in priority areas such as railways, roads, ports, and shipping.

During the visit of Modi to the UAE in August last year, the first by an Indian prime minister in 34 years, the Gulf nation committed $75 billion in investments in India’s infrastructure sector.

In Friday’s statement, the two leaders welcomed the signing of a framework memorandum of understanding (MoU) between which would serve to facilitate and expand the participation of UAE investors in infrastructure projects in India.

“The two sides described these developments as important steps towards reaching the USD 75 billion target for UAE investments in India’s infrastructure development plans,” it said.

India also thanked the UAE for showing interest in the proposal for establishing a semiconductor fabrication facility in India.

“The two sides agreed to further business-to-business cooperation in information technology (IT), information technology-enabled services (ITeS), and electronics system design and manufacturing (ESDM),” the statement said.

Both countries also agreed to enhance cooperation in space science and space technology and to explore a long-term plan to identify cooperation projects in areas of mutual interest.

With energy being the central pillar of the economic relationship between the two countries, the Modi and Sheikh Mohamed expressed satisfaction at their growing bilateral trade in the energy sector.

“They welcomed the intention of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) and the Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Ltd. (ISPRL) to sign a memorandum of understanding on the establishment of a strategic petroleum eeserve in India, and agreed to conclude negotiations in the near future,” the statement said.

“The two sides looked forward to increased cooperation in the crude oil sector, including through training, and human resources development. The Indian side conveyed the keen interest of Indian oil companies in forming joint ventures with and offering equity participation to UAE companies, as well as in seeking participation in prospective exploration rounds in the UAE and in opportunities for joint exploration in third countries.”

On climate change, the two leaders noted that the development of sustainable sources of energy was a shared strategic priority.

In the area of defence cooperation, the two sides renewed their commitment to strengthening the existing cooperation in training, and joint exercises as well as identifying opportunities to cooperate on the production of defence equipment in India.

“The two leaders agreed to enhance cooperation to strengthen maritime security in the Gulf and the Indian Ocean region, which is vital for the security and prosperity of both countries,” the statement said.

The Abu Dhabi also appreciated the role and contribution that the Indian community has made to the UAE’s development, noting that Indian citizens in the UAE were highly respected for their peaceful and hard-working ethics.

There are around 2.6 million expatriate Indians in the UAE, around 60 percent of whom are blue collar workers.

IANS

‘There is a crisis of confidence in the government’: Manmohan Singh

New Delhi: Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said there is a crisis of confidence in the government and that Prime Minister Narendra Modi must give “every Indian” the confidence that he cares for people’s well-being.

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh. AFPFormer prime minister Manmohan Singh. AFP

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh. AFP

Singh was critical of the prime minister for not speaking on issues like beef or communal riots in Muzaffarnagar and elsewhere.

Stating that “people don’t believe the government”, the former prime minister said, “when they (apparently industrialists) go and call on the ministers, they say the right things, but when they come out, all of them say that nothing much has changed… There is today a crisis of confidence in the government.”

Singh said beef controversy and issues like intolerance were problems.

“I don’t know. I cannot read his mind. But he is the prime minister of all the people of India and he must give every Indian the confidence that in him we have a prime minister who cares for our well-being,” he said.

Reacting to his remarks, Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the criticism was “misplaced” while adding that the Modi government had launched a host of schemes like Mudra and Jan Dhan besides other welfare measures for the downtrodden and weaker sections of society.

“Singh is very welcome. He advised the prime minister to be PM for all India and I will like to say that Modi’s campaign was ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’ (with all, development for all) and he is very clearly fulfilling this,” the BJP leader said.

PTI

Liver and kidneys dysfunctional: Siachen survivor battles for life as India roots for Lance Naik

Lance Naik Hanamanthappa Koppad, who clung to life buried 30 feet under a massive ice and snow debris that hurtled down a mountain slope on unforgiving Siachen glacier, was on Tuesday battling for survival after being evacuated.

Lance Naik Hanamanthappa. Sameer Yasir/FirstpostLance Naik Hanamanthappa. Sameer Yasir/Firstpost

Lance Naik Hanamanthappa. Sameer Yasir/Firstpost

Prime Minister Modi described Koppad as an “outstanding soldier” whose “endurance and indomitable spirit” cannot be described in words. “We are all hoping and praying for the best,” Modi added. Parrikar said his prayers are with the soldier. “Doctors are putting in best. Let us pray for him,” he said.

According to CNN-IBN, liver and kidneys of the injured soldier are dysfunctional. He is comatose and his condition is extremely critical, Army Hospital Research and Referral said after Koppad was flown in here from Siachen Glacier.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and Army chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag visited the hospital and asked the nation to pray for his well being.

Koppad, who was rescued yesterday from an altitude of 20,500 feet by a team of over 150 soldiers and two canines, Dot and Misha, and was initially declared dead by authorities, was flown in here by an IAF aircraft accompanied by a critical care specialist of the force and a medical specialist from the Siachen base camp.

Fortunately, there was no cold exposure-related frostbite or bony injuries to him, a medical bulletin issued by the hospital said. “He has been placed on a ventilator to protect his airway and lungs in view of his comatose state. He remains extremely critical and is expected to have a stormy course in the next 24 to 48 hrs due to the complications caused by re-warming and establishment of blood flow to the cold parts of the body,” it said.

“It is a rebirth for all of us,” said Mahadevi, wife of Koppad, with a visible sense of relief as his miraculous survival. Mahadevi said the family was going through an ordeal after it came to know of the tragedy, but the news of his survival brought smiles back on their faces. We were going through a painful ordeal after the avalanche struck…The news of his survival brought smiles back on our faces. We were all crying and had almost lost hope. I didn’t know what to do. I have a one-and-half-year old daughter,” she said.

With PTI

Assam elections will be showdown against Modi; BJP will be crushed, says Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi

Guwahati: As the Mughals were crushed in the battle of Saraighat, the BJP will be vanquished in the forthcoming assembly elections in Assam, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said on Monday.

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi. AFPAssam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi. AFP

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi. AFP

Gogoi said the elections will be a showdown between him and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and the NDA government’s failure on all fronts and its anti-people and anti-poor policies will be his main poll planks.

“The BJP-led government at the Centre has made a U-turn on all issues concerning the people and it has utterly failed in fulfilling the poll promises made to the people,” he said.

“The frequent visit of central ministers to Assam has been primarily aimed at covering the failure of the central government and it has indulged in show business and fake assurances,” Gogoi said.

“The visits of the central ministers are aimed at hoodwinking the people and diverting their attention from the failure of the central government,” he said.

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat also visited Assam twice recently, primarily to polarise the otherwise peaceful ambience of Assam, he said.

“The RSS is trying tacitly to sow the seeds of discord in Assamese society which was moulded and shaped by the philosophy of Srimanta Sankardeva and Ajan Fakir. We are committed to build a modern Assam based on the edifice laid by these saints,” he said, adding that the state government will foil any such activity.

IANS

Attack on First Family proves Congress’s cynical gameplan has finally got to Modi

Narendra Modi’s frontal attack on Congress’s First Family, blaming it for failing to reconcile with the defeat in 2014 Parliamentary elections, not letting the Parliament function and stalling pro-poor, pro-reform bills is indicative of BJP’s confrontationist stance ahead of the Budget session of Parliament.

Modi’s barbs against Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul emanates from the BJP leadership’s belief or maybe even frustration that the Congress would yet again resort to disruptionist politics in both Houses of Parliament and there isn’t much the government’s floor managers can do to make them see reason.

Narendra Modi is aware that government is staring at yet another washout during Budget session. ReutersNarendra Modi is aware that government is staring at yet another washout during Budget session. Reuters

Narendra Modi is aware that government is staring at yet another washout during Budget session. Reuters

Congress has gathered enough ammunition — Gujarat Chief Minister Aanandiben Patel’s daughter Anara linked in an alleged “subsidized” land allotment, Maharastra Governor’s sanction to prosecute Ashok Chavan, Rohit Vemula suicide – to target Modi and stall the proceedings.

That’s the pattern the Congress has been following for the past three sessions.

Anara Patel’s business dealings could come handy for the Congress as it seeks to resume agitation inside Parliament, similar to what was seen during last year’s Monsoon session when it demanded the sackings of Shivraj Singh Chauhan, Vasundhara Raje and Sushma Swaraj.

This year’s Budget on February 29, the third one to be delivered by the Modi government, is vitally important both for the path the country may take and for BJP’s fortunes.

Passage of budget, however is not an issue because the ruling party at Centre has absolute majority in Lok Sabha.
Rajya Sabha, where the BJP is in minority and Congress is in majority, has no role in passage of budgetary provisions.
Modi has so far made a distinction between his speeches made inside and outside the Houses.

Inside the Parliament, Modi has delivered statesmanlike speeches, reaching out to the opposition whereas in public rallies, his speeches resemble that of BJP’s lead campaigner.

The Prime Minister is aware that when the Parliament would meet for two-part Budget session, pre and post recess, election process in the five states of Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry would be under way. The Parliament, in all likelihood, would become an arena for shadow boxing.

It is the second time in past two months that Modi has vented his ire against Congress high command over the manner in which the latter chose to stall Parliament.

On Friday, during a rally in Assam, he said: “This one family is bent on not letting Rajya Sabha function. This one family is bent on not letting any work take place in the country. ‘The people defeated us, so we will take revenge. We will take revenge on labourers’, that is its attitude,” he said.

The Prime Minister went on to list a number of bills which the “family” did not allow to be discussed and passed in Upper House.

In December at a conclave organized by Jagran Forum of Dainik Jagran, Modi hit out at Congress leadership, blaming the Gandhi family (without taking names) for disrupting legislative work.

“Democracy cannot function at the whims and fancies of anyone… Democracy cannot be restricted to elections and governments alone”.

He described the two main dangers in democracy as “mantantra” (whims and fancies) and “dhantantra” (money power)”.
“You must have seen that these days this (disruptions) have become a norm. Does a country run like this? The Parliament is not being allowed to function and the rights of the poor are getting stalled.

“What is being discussed? The GST and Parliament. Whatever has to happen with GST, will be done in consultation with everybody but what about the poor, what about the common man?

“That’s why we are asking them to make Parliament run, for the sake of the poor.

“If we negate this institution, it will put a question mark on democracy,” Modi had said.

It would be a mistake to interpret Modi’s attack on Congress’s First Family solely as an attempt to unseat the three-term old Tarun Gogoi government in Assam.

Ahead of the Winter session, the Prime Minister had invited Sonia, Rahul and Manmohan Singh for tea at his residence to discuss the passage of GST and other bills.

Despite the extra effort on Modi’s part, the Congress went back on warpath after making some conciliatory noises. The fate of GST still hangs in balance.

Modi’s statement and Rahul counter is ample proof that this time, even a perfunctory mood of conciliation will be absent.

U-turn on MGNREGA? Now, NDA govt terms scheme cause of ‘national pride’

New Delhi: As MGNREGA completes ten years on Tuesday, Narendra Modi govermment, which earlier appeared critical of the UPA’s flagship rural job scheme, on Monday hailed the measure saying the achievements of a decade are a “cause of “national pride and celebration”.

In a statement, the government also claimed that the last financial year saw a “revival” of the programme and announced that the focus in upcoming years will be towards simplifying and strengthening the procedures of the scheme and towards building sustainable assets to benefit the poor.

Some announcements are also expected on Tuesday when Finance Minister Arun Jaitley delivers a keynote address at MGNREGA SAMMELAN-2016.

VIllagers carrying out MGNREGA work. File photo. ReutersVIllagers carrying out MGNREGA work. File photo. Reuters

VIllagers carrying out MGNREGA work. File photo. Reuters

The government statement added that there will be a renewed focus on sustainable individual assets to benefit the poor and vulnerable households under the scheme in future.

Marking the completion of ten years of UPA’s flagship rural job guarantee scheme, which was announced by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi in February 2006, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi will tomorrow visit Bandlapalli village of Anantpur in Andhra Pradesh from where the scheme had taken off.

The UPA government had then described it as “a landmark in our history in removing poverty from the face of the nation”.

The Narendra Modi-led NDA government, which was initially critical of the scheme, has continued with the programme even as the Prime Minister had last year dubbed it a “living monument” of Congress’ “failure” to tackle poverty in last 60 years.

“Do you think, I will put an end to the scheme. My political wisdom does not allow me to do it. This is a living monument of your failure to tackle poverty in 60 years. With song and dance and drum beat, I will continue with the scheme,” Modi had said during the Budget Session last year.

In a statement, the Rural Development Ministry has said that the achievements of MGNREGA of a decade are a cause of national pride and celebration.

It noted that since the start of the programme, the expenditure on the programme has amounted to over Rs 3,13,844. 55 crore of which 71 per cent has been spent on wage payments to workers.

“Of the workers, the percentage of Scheduled Caste workers has consistently been about 20 per cent and Scheduled Tribe workers has been about 17 per cent,” it said adding that a total of over 1,980 crore person days have been generated so far out of which the percentage worked by women has steadily increased much above the statutory minimum of 33 per cent.

“Sustainable assets have been created linked to conservation of natural resources and overall development of Gram Panchayats. More than 65 per cent of the works taken up under the programme are linked to agriculture and allied activities,” it said.

PTI

Modi calls for strict action on customs, excise sector complaints

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday took strong exception at complaints and grievances from people related to the customs and excise sector and asked for strict action against concerned officials.

PM Narendra Modi. ReutersPM Narendra Modi. Reuters

PM Narendra Modi. Reuters

Modi, who chaired his ninth interaction through PRAGATI – Pro-Active Governance And Timely Implementation – urged all secretaries whose departments have extensive public dealing, to set up a system for top-level monitoring of grievances immediately.

Later in the day, Modi held a meeting of his council of ministers to review progress on schemes related to some ministries and laid thrust on faster delivery of government initiatives.

According to the sources, the meeting reviewed schemes and government initiatives related to ministries such as agriculture, chemical and fertilizer and water resources.

Such meetings were likely to be held every month, added the sources.

The meeting with to review implementation of schemes came a day after the government completed 20 months in office.

The coming year was crucial for the government as it will be completing half of its term.

The opposition has accused the government of being high on promises and low on delivery.

It has also slammed the government over rise in prices of some food items such as pulses.

BJP leaders have dismissed the allegations of the opposition and said that the slew of initiatives government were already showing impact and will show greater results in the coming days.

In his interaction through PRAGATI, Modi reviewed the progress of vital infrastructure projects in road, railway, coal, power and renewable energy sectors spread over several states including Maharashtra, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, and Rajasthan.

An official release concerning the PRAGATI said that among the projects reviewed were the Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link, the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) and the Jal Marg Vikas Project from Allahabad to Haldia.

Modi also reviewed the progress of the Ujjwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY).

He reviewed implementation of the National Old Age Pension Scheme and emphasized the need to ensure that beneficiaries receive the payment on time.

IANS

India has the labour and the market for your product: Modi to French president

Chandigarh: As the fastest growing big economy in the world, India has both the skilled workforce to produce as well be the market for French products, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday.

“India is the fastest growing economy in the world. We have the labour and the market for your products,” Modi said at the India-France chief executives meeting here along with visiting French President Francois Hollande, according to a tweet by external affairs ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup.

“I’ve had the opportunity of meeting President @fhollande five times in the last year,” Modi said, according to another tweet by Swarup.

Modi in Chandigarh. Image courtesy: Twitter/@MEAIndiaModi in Chandigarh. Image courtesy: Twitter/@MEAIndia

Modi in Chandigarh. Image courtesy: Twitter/@MEAIndia

Modi earlier met Hollande at the Rock Garden in the city created by French architect Le Corbusier, after the latter’s arrival here on a three-day official visit to India.

“Glad to welcome @fhollande in the city built by the great Le Corbusier. PM @narendramodi addresses the CEO’s Forum,” Swarup said in a separate tweet.

During Hollande’s visit, France is likely to sign a memorandum of understanding with Chandigarh to help it develop as a smart city, official sources said.

France has committed to help three Indian cities – Chandigarh, Nagpur and Puducherry – to develop as smart cities.

“Defence, green economy, smart cities, infrastructure, transportation, water and financial sector on the agenda of the Indo-French CEO’s Forum,” Swarup tweeted earlier.

IANS

Netaji died in 1945 Taipei plane crash, says 1995 Cabinet note

New Delhi: Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose died in an air crash in Taipei on August 18, 1945, a Union Cabinet note 50 years later said amidst the raging controversy over the INA chief’s mysterious disappearance.

1995 Cabinet note surfaces/ AFP1995 Cabinet note surfaces/ AFP

1995 Cabinet note surfaces/ AFP

However, a full five days after the air crash, a top official of the British Raj had weighed the pros and cons of “trying” Netaji as a “war criminal” and suggested that the “easiest way” would be to leave him where he was and not seek his release, suggesting that he may be alive then.

This emerged from documents that form part of 100 secret files, comprising 16,600 pages which were made public by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Netaji’s 119th birth anniversary in the capital on Saturday.

Reacting to the development, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee demanded that Bose be given the title of “Leader of the Nation”, and said the country has the right to know the truth about his mysterious disappearance.

“The country has the right to know about the fate of Netaji. 75 years ago, Netaji left the country, but we still don’t know the fact about his disappearance. People have the right to know the truth,” Banerjee said at a function in Darjeeling. In Delhi, Congress made a strong pitch for declassifying all files related to Bose, but said the way Prime Minister has set about the task, raises doubts about his intentions.

“Congress has already said that it would like to see all files to be declassified because attempts are being made to raise a controversy and misguide people of the country through a mischievous political campaign”, party’s senior spokesman Anand Sharma said.

Among the declassified documents was a Union Cabinet note of February 6, 1995, signed by then Home Secretary K Padmanabaiah, which said, “There seems to be no scope for doubt that he died in the air crash of 18th August 1945 at Taihoku.

Government of India has already accepted this position. There is no evidence whatsoever to the contrary.” The note further said, “If a few individuals/organisations have a different view, they seem to be more guided by sentimentality rather than by any rational consideration.

The belief of these people that Netaji was alive and out of contact with any individual, but would appear when found necessary, has also lost relevance by now.” The cabinet note was prepared for the government to take a stand on bringing the “mortal remains” of Netaji from Japan to India, kept in the Bose Academy in Tokyo.

PTI

Congress cries conspiracy, claims Nehru’s ‘war criminal’ letter forged

The Congress smells conspiracy in the declassification of the files related to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. It has raised doubts on government’s intention behind the declassification.

Netaji Bose. File photo. AFPNetaji Bose. File photo. AFP

Netaji Bose. File photo. AFP

“The way the PM has carried this out raises doubts about the intention of the Government of India. The nation needs to understand this. The BJP or any of its affiliates can’t claim of any leader who were on the forefront of the freedom struggle,” former Union minister and senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said after the files were declassified at National Archives of India by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

According to the India Today TV, in one of the classified files, the nation’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru referred to Subhas Chandra Boase as a “war criminal”.

Nehru’s purported letter written to the Prime Minister of England, Clement Attlee on 27 December, 1945 – four months after the plane crash in Taipei, had mentioned Bose as a war criminal.

A portion of the purported letter:

Dear Mr Attlee,
I understand from reliable sources that Subhas Chandra Bose, your war criminal, has been allowed to enter Russian territory by Stalin. This is a clear treachery and betrayal of faith by the Russians as Russia has been an ally of the British-Americans, which she should not have done. Please take note of it and do what you consider proper and fit.

“We have said from the very beginning that this is a deliberate controversy. The Congress will expose and take action against this mischievous fake letter (allegedly written by Nehru to Atlee). We will take all measures to punish people once identified. Whoever is taking ownership must come forward,” he said.

While cautioning the media to be careful of the “fabricated letter”, Sharma said, “We would appeal to the media to be careful before a fabricated and forged document is used to sensationalise and to defame one of India’s greatest sons. Jawaharlal Nehru was a great leader (Maha Nayak), India’s first PM and a world-class statesman. There is a need to first ascertain the authenticity of the letter before conveying something which is not only questionable but part of a criminal conspiracy. Forgery is a criminal offence under the Indian Penal Code.”

Echoing Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s tweet, Sharma, the Deputy Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha said, “Netaji was a great national leader, president of Indian National Congress and participated in the freedom struggle. Which truth the Congress has suppressed? Netaji had only one daughter and what she has said is in public domain and the country must respect her sentiments because she has been anguished by this deliberately created mischief and controversy.

Netaji’s other close relatives like grand-nephew Sugata Bose, who is a respected Historian and Ashish Ray (journalist) – they have commented in great detail. We do not wish to join issues with others and enter into any kind of debate.”

Remembering Bose on his 119th birth anniversary on 23 January, Rahul Gandhi described him a man of extraordinary courage, a patriot and a charismatic leader. “Netaji’s contribution to India`s freedom struggle will continue to inspire us,” tweeted Gandhi today.

Paying homage to Netaji in the morning, Congress president Sonia Gandhi said, “Congress Party can never forget his contribution to the national struggle for freedom for founding of an independent democratic republic of India. He will always live in the hearts of all Indians for his patriotic fervour and dedication to the Indian Republic.”

Chittopriyo Bose, one of the Netaji’s relatives said, “No previous government did what the Modi government has done today. We’re satisfied. We’ve requested the PM for the declassification of files in foreign land, so that more can be known about Netaji. Congress was in power for almost 60 years and there may be some files during their tenure in West Bengal, which hasn’t yet been declassified.”

However, the Congress maintained silence on why it refrained from declassifying Netaji files, despite remaining in power for almost six decades.
“Probably there was an apprehension that it would convert into a major law & order problem, besides relations between India and other nations (mentioned in the files) might get tarnished. No one was aware about the content of the files. Those days India also had friendly ties with the erstwhile USSR,” a senior Congress leader said on condition of anonymity.

Netaji files: BJP only trying to spin conflict of ideologies, says Nitish Kumar

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today accused BJP of trying to create conflict between different ideologies by riding on the declassification of files related to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Prime Minister Narendra Modi today released digital copies of 100 declassified files related to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose at the National Archives of India (NAI). Even the Congress calls the Modi government move a “mischievous political campaign”.

Narendra Modi'sNarendra Modi's

Narendra Modi’s “mischievous campaign,” says Congress on Netaji files/ Reuters

“BJP, which has nothing to do with the struggle for Independence, by declassifying files related to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose is basically making an effort to create conflict between different streams of ideology in the struggle for country’s Independence,” Kumar told reporters here.

“The BJP whose leaders had no role in the Independence movement are basically interested in creating ‘conflict’ between different ideologies for political gains,” Kumar, a known detractor of PM, said.

Netaji’s family members, who arrived in Delhi for the event, broke down after seeing the files. Today also marks the 119th birth anniversary of the freedom fighter.

The NAI now plans to release digital copies of 25 declassified files on Bose in the public domain every month.

Modi, in his meeting with members of Bose family in October, had announced that the government would declassify the files relating to Bose and make them accessible to public.

The first lot of 33 files were declassified by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and handed over to the NAI on December 4, last year.

Subsequently, the Ministries of Home Affairs and External Affairs too initiated the process of declassification of files relating to Bose in their respective collection which were then transferred to the NAI.

Soundbites from the ringside

Amartya Sen: Right now in the country, there is a sense of division which has often been cultivated along communal lines so much so that the word secularism is often used as a bad word… We are waiting for the day when democracy and liberty would be used as a bad word too.

Anand Sharma: Congress has already said that it would like to see all files to be declassified because attempts are being made to raise a controversy and misguide people of the country through a mischievous political campaign.

Bose’s grandnephew Surya Kumar Bose: But these are not the intelligence files. What we need is the intelligence files not only of our country but also of Russia, the UK, the US, Japan to solve the mystery.

Sugata Bose: The Japanese have shared with us the information they had regarding Netaji… But, I believe Modi should have spoken to Abe, whether it be in Tokyo or in Delhi, or Varanasi… I don’t think he has spoken to him (Abe) regarding this. I do not know whether Modi has done anything on the Netaji issue. I don’t feel he had spoken to Abe (regarding Netaji’s disappearance). He also did not pay his respect by visiting the Renkoji temple… But, other Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited the temple to show their respect,” he said of Modi’s Japan tour last year: Subhash Chandra Bose’s kin and historian Sugata Bose.

With Agencies