Yuva Sai Sagar

An online news channel

Tag: narendra-modi

PM Modi’s announcements will pave way for ‘cleaner and bigger GDP’: Arun Jaitley

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The slew of measures announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi will enhance economic activities and pave way for “cleaner and bigger GDP”, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said today. In a series of tweets, Jaitley said: “PM’s announcements will enable a cleaner & bigger GDP…PM’s announcements will enhance economic activities”.Referring to the sops announced for different sectors, he said agriculture, MSME and housing segments will get a fillip.The Finance Minister, who will be presenting the budget for 2017-18 in February, also said the government is committed to cleansing political funding.On the announcement of fixed 8 per cent interest rate on 10-year deposits up to Rs 7.5 lakh for senior citizens, Jaitley said it is “great news”.In his address to the nation, Modi said home loans in urban areas up to Rs 9 lakh and Rs 12 lakh will receive interest subvention of 4 per cent and 3 per cent, respectively. Also, in rural areas home loans up to Rs 2 lakh will get interest rebate of 3 per cent.Modi also said government will bear 60-days interest burden on farm loans taken for rabi crops and also doubled Nabard funding corpus to Rs 41,000 crore.All 3 crore Kisan Credit Cards holders will be given RuPay debit cards, he added.

Modi speech: Farmers’ fitting reply to critics as rabi sowing up, claims PM; announces sops

New Delhi – In a bonanza to farmers post demonetisation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced that government will bear interest for 60 days on crop loans taken by farmers from district cooperative banks and primary societies for sowing operations this Rabi season.

In his national address on the eve of the New Year, Modi also announced that the 3 crore ‘Kisan Credit Cards’ would be converted to RuPay Card within three months to help farmers purchase various inputs anywhere. Nabard will be given an additional Rs 20,000 crore to finance district cooperative banks and societies.

Prime minister Narendra Modi. File photoPrime minister Narendra Modi. File photo

Prime minister Narendra Modi. File photo

“In the last few weeks, an impression was sought to be created that agriculture sector has been destroyed. Farmers themselves have given a fitting reply to those who were doing so. Rabi sowing is up by 6 per cent when compared to last year. Fertiliser offtake is up by 9 per cent during this period,” Modi said.

The government has taken care to ensure that farmers do not suffer for want of access of seeds, fertilisers and credits, he added.

“Now, we have taken some more decisions in the interest of farmers. Farmers who had taken loan for the Rabi crop from district cooperative central banks and primary societies will not have to pay interest on such loans for a period of 60 days,” the Prime Minister said.

Farmers who have paid interest during the last two months will get this amount back directly in their bank accounts, he said.

Arrangements are being made to provide farmers better access to loans from district cooperative banks and primary societies, Modi said.

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 21:55 IST

Modi speech full text: Indians showed resolute honesty can defeat dishonesty

Following is the full text of Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s address to the nation on the eve of New Year 2017:

My fellow citizens,

In a few hours, we will be ushering in the new year of 2017. 125 crore Indians will join the rest of the world, in welcoming it with new hope, new energy and new dreams.

Since Diwali, our nation has been witness to a historic rite of purification. The patience, discipline, and resolve displayed by 125 crore Indians, will play a critical role in shaping the future of the nation for years to come.

In God’s creation, humans are endowed with fundamental goodness.

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

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

With time, the distortions of badness creep in. People feel suffocated in a bad environment, and struggle to come out of it. Corruption, black money, and counterfeit notes had become so rampant in India’s social fabric, that even honest people were brought to their knees.

People were forced by circumstances, in defiance of their inherent goodness. It seemed at times, that the evils and corruptions of society, knowingly or unknowingly, intentionally or unintentionally, had become a part of our daily lives. Developments post-Diwali have shown, that crores of Indians were looking for an escape from this suffocation.

We have, during the external aggressions, of 1962, 1965, 1971 and Kargil; witnessed the intrinsic strength of our citizens. Such collective energy and patriotism is understandable, in the face of external threats. However, when crores of Indians unite to fight a war against internal evils, it is unparalleled.

Indians have, with firm resolve and infinite patience, faced difficulties with a smile, re-defining the concept of sacrifice. We have lived these ideals. 125 crore Indians have shown, in their fortitude, the importance we place in truth and goodness. This has been written on the sands of time.

Indians have displayed the strength of people power, utmost discipline, and the ability to discern the truth in a storm of disinformation. They have shown that resolute honesty, can defeat dishonesty.

They have shown how much, even people trapped in poverty, are willing to do, to build a glorious India. The people, through persistence, sweat and toil, have demonstrated to the world, an unparalleled example of citizen sacrifice, for the brighter future of a nation.

Usually, when people’s movements have arisen, the people and the government have been at loggerheads.

It is historic, that both the people and the government are on the same side in this battle against evil. The Government is well aware, that in this period, you had to queue up, and face difficulty in withdrawing your own money. I received letters from many people. They have shared their pain and sorrow with me, but also emphasized their support. You have talked to me as one of your own. In this fight against corruption and black money, it is clear that you wish to walk shoulder to shoulder with us. For us in Government, this is a blessing.

My effort is to take the banking system to normalcy as fast as possible in the new year. I have asked all concerned officers in the Government to focus their attention to this task. They have especially been told to proactively resolve the problems in rural and remote areas.

Friends,

There is no precedent globally, to what India has done. Nations similar to us do not have the amount of currency that we had. Over the last ten to twelve years, 500 and 1000 rupee currency notes were used less for legitimate transactions, and more for a parallel economy. The excess of cash was fuelling inflation and black-marketing. It was denying the poor, their due. Lack of cash causes difficulty, but excess of cash is even more troublesome. Our aim is to achieve a balance. Economists agree that when cash is outside the formal economy, it is a cause of worry. When it joins the mainstream, it is an opportunity for development.

I am sure, if great sons of India like Jayaprakash Narayan, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Ram Manohar Lohia, and Kamaraj had been present today, they would have applauded the patience, discipline and resolve of our countrymen.

In the past few weeks, there have been many gratifying instances – it would take weeks to list them.

It is a healthy trend for any nation, when the people wish to join the mainstream abiding by the law, and helping the Government in serving the poor.

Friends,

How long will we overlook facts that stare us in the face? I wish to share some information with you, which will either make you laugh, or make you angry. According to information with the Government, there are only 24 lakh people in India who accept that their annual income is more than 10 lakh rupees. Can we digest this? Look at the big bungalows and big cars around you.

If we look at any big city, it would have lakhs of people with annual income of more than 10 lakh. Do you not feel, that for the good of the country, this movement for honesty, needs to be further strengthened?

In this fight against corruption and black money, it is natural to debate the fate of the dishonest. What punishment will they get? The Law will take its own course, with its full force. But the priority of the Government now is how to help the honest, protect them, and ease their difficulty.How can honesty gain more prestige?

This Government is a friend of good people. And it aims to build an enabling environment for the dishonest to return to the path of goodness.

It is also a bitter truth, that people have complaints of bad experiences at the hands of Government machinery, and some government officers.

This reality cannot be wished away. No one can deny that Government officers have a greater responsibility than common citizens.

Therefore, it is the responsibility of all of us in Government, at central, state and local levels, to protect the common man, help the honest, and isolate the dishonest.

Friends, It is accepted the world over, that terrorism, Naxalism, Maoism, counterfeit currency trade, drug trade, human trafficking – all of these depend on black money.

These evils have become a festering sore on society and Governments.

Demonetistion has dealt a severe blow to these trades.

Today, youth who had turned to the wrong path, are returning to the mainstream in large numbers. If we remain vigilant, we can now save our children from returning to those evil ways of violence and cruelty. The fact that so much of the cash in circulation has been deposited in the banking system indicates the success of this mission.

Events of the last few days indicate that escape routes for the dishonest have all been sealed. Technology has played a big role. The habitual offenders will be forced to abandon their misdeeds and join the mainstream.

Friends, This also represents a golden opportunity for the country’s banking system. During this period, bank employees have worked day and night.

Female employees too, worked till late hours as part of this mission.

Post office staff, banking correspondents- all did exceptional work.

Amid this herculean effort, some grave crimes by some officers in some banks have come to light. Some Government officers have also committed serious offences, and tried to take advantage of the situation. They will not be spared.

At this historic juncture, I wish to make an appeal to the banks.

History is witness that the Indian banking system has never received such a large amount of money, in such a short time.

While respecting the autonomy of the banks, I appeal to them to move beyond their traditional priorities, and keep the poor, the lower middle class, and the middle class at the focus of their activities.

India is celebrating the centenary of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay as Garib Kalyan Varsh. Banks should also not let this opportunity slip. They should take appropriate decisions in public interest promptly.

When policies and programmes are made with clear objectives in mind, not only are beneficiaries empowered, but both short term, and long term benefits are achieved. Spending is carefully scrutinized, and chances of good results are maximized.

The more the villages, the poor, the farmers, the dalits, the tribals, the marginalized, the oppressed, the deprived and women are empowered, and financially enabled to stand on their own feet, the stronger the country will become, and the faster will be the pace of development.

Friends, to further the principle of Sabka Saath – Sabka Vikaas, on the eve of the new year, Government is bringing some new programmes for the people.

Even so many years after independence, millions of poor do not have their own home. When black money increased in our economy, houses became out of reach of even the middle class. The Government has taken some major decisions to ensure homes for the poor, the neo middle class and the middle class.

Two new middle income categories have been created under the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana in urban areas. Loans of up to 9 lakh rupees taken in 2017, will receive interest subvention of 4 per cent. Loans of up to 12 lakh rupees taken in 2017, will receive interest subvention of 3 per cent.

The number of houses being built for the poor, under the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana in rural areas, is being increased by 33 per cent.

In addition to this, another scheme is being put in place for the neo middle and middle class in rural areas. Loans of up to 2 lakh rupees taken in 2017, for new housing, or extension of housing in rural areas, will receive an interest subvention of 3 per cent.

Friends in the last few weeks, an impression was sought to be created that the agriculture sector has been destroyed. Farmers themselves have given a fitting reply to those who were doing so. Rabi sowing is up by 6 per cent compared to last year. Fertilizer offtake is up by 9 per cent. During this period, the Government has taken care to ensure that farmers do not suffer for want of access to seeds, fertilisers and credit. Now, we have taken some more decisions in the interest of farmers.

Farmers who have taken loans for the Rabi crop from District Cooperative Central Banks and Primary Societies, will not have to pay interest on such loans for a period of 60 days. Farmers who have paid interest during the last two months, will receive these amounts back, directly into their bank accounts.

Arrangements are being made to provide farmers even better access to loans from cooperative banks and societies. NABARD created a fund of 21,000 crore rupees last month. Now, Government is adding 20,000 crore rupees more to this. The loss that NABARD suffers by giving loans to cooperative banks and societies at low interest rates, shall be borne by the Government of India.

The Government has decided, that 3 crore farmers who have Kisan Credit Cards, will be given RuPay debit cards within three months. Kisan Credit Cards were launched in 1998, but so far, it was essential to go to a bank, to use them. Now, farmers will have RuPay Debit Cards, which they can use anywhere.

Just as agriculture is vital for the economy, so are the medium and small scale enterprises also called the MSME sector. Government has taken some decisions in the interest of small and medium businesses, which will also boost employment.

Government of India underwrites loans given by banks to small businesses through a trust. So far, loans were covered upto one crore rupees. This limit is now being enhanced to 2 crore rupees. Earlier the scheme only covered bank loans. Hereafter it will cover loans given by NBFCs as well. This decision will enable better access to credit for small shop-owners and small enterprises. Banks and NBFCs will not levy high interest on these loans, as Government of India is bearing the cost of underwriting them.

Government has also asked banks to raise the credit limit for small industry from 20 per cent of turnover to 25 percent.

Banks have also been asked to increase working capital loans from 20 per cent of turnover to 30 per cent, for enterprises that transact digitally.
Many people connected with this sector have made cash deposits in the last few weeks. Banks have been asked to take this into account when deciding on working capital.

A few days back, Government announced a major tax relief for small businesses. Income of businesses with turnover of up to Rs 2 crores was calculated at 8% of the turnover. Now, for such businesses income from digital transactions will be calculated at 6%. This will effectively reduce their tax liability by 25%.

Friends,

The progress of the MUDRA Yojana has been very encouraging. Last year, nearly 3 and a half crore people have benefited from this. The Government now aims to double this, giving priority to Dalits, Tribals, Backward Classes and Women. A new scheme is being launched for pregnant women.
We are introducing a nation-wide scheme for financial assistance to pregnant women. 6000 rupees will be transferred directly to the bank accounts of pregnant women who undergo institutional delivery and vaccinate their children. This scheme will help reduce the maternal mortality rate, in a big way. This will help ensure nutrition before and after delivery, and improve the health of mother and child. So far, pregnant women in 53 districts were being given financial assistance of 4000 rupees, under a pilot project.

We are initiating a scheme for senior citizens. Banks often reduce their deposit rates, when they receive a large volume of money. This should not adversely impact senior citizens. Under the scheme, senior citizens will receive a fixed interest rate of 8 per cent for a period of 10 years, on deposits upto 7.5 lakh rupees. The interest will be paid monthly.

Friends,

Political parties, political leaders and electoral funding, figure prominently in any debate on corruption and black money.

The time has now come that all political leaders and parties respect the feelings of the nation’s honest citizens, and understand the anger of the people.

It is true that from time to time, political parties have made constructive efforts to improve the system.

I urge all parties and leaders to move away from a “holier than thou approach,” to come together in prioritising transparency, and take firm steps to free politics of black money and corruption.

In our country, people ranging from the common man to the President, have at some point or another, advocated simultaneous conduct of state and national elections.

This is to break the endless cycle of elections, reduce election expenditure, and minimize pressure on the administrative machinery.

The time has come for this to be seriously considered and debated.

Positive change has always found space in our country.

We can now see a positive momentum towards digital transactions in India.

More and more people are transacting digitally.

Yesterday, Government has launched a new, swadeshi platform for digital transactions – named BHIM after Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar.

BHIM stands for Bharat Interface for Money. I call upon the youth, the trading community, and farmers to connect with BHIM as much as possible. Friends, the developments, decisions, and policies that were put in place after Diwali, will of course be evaluated by economists.

It will be good if social scientists also do the same.

As a nation, India’s villages, poor, farmers, youth, educated and uneducated men and women, have all displayed infinite patience and people power. In a short time, the new year of 2017 will begin. Exactly 100 years ago, in 1917, Mahatma Gandhi initiated a Satyagraha in Champaran. Now, a century later, we witness that the people of India continue to share that feeling towards truth and goodness.

Today, Mahatma Gandhi is not among us. But the path towards truth that he showed us, is still most appropriate. As we begin the centenary year of the Satyagraha, let us recall the Mahatma and resolve to follow his message of truth and goodness.

We cannot allow this fight against black money and corruption to stop or slow down. Firmness in truth is a guarantee for success. A country of 125 crore, with 65 per cent below the age of 35, having the means, the resources, and the capability, has no reason to stay behind.

The new dawn of the New Year, comes with the resolve of new success.

Let us all come together, to move ahead overcoming obstacles and constraints.

Happy New Year

Jai Hind !!!

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 21:28 IST

Modi speech: Here is a list of all schemes announced by the PM

Modi speech: Here is a list of all schemes announced by the PM

By

New Delhi – Following is the list of sops that Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced during his speech on the eve of the New Year.

1) For the poor: Two new schemes under PM Awaas Yojna. Home loans for poor and middle class people up to Rs 9 lakh will get 4 percent exemption on interest and 3 percent for up to Rs 12 lakh loans.

Prime minister Narendra Modi. File photoPrime minister Narendra Modi. File photo

Prime minister Narendra Modi. File photo

2) For farmers: Sixty days interest waiver for farm loans taken from from district co-operative banks and co-operative societies.

3) For senior citizens: 8 percent interest up to Rs 7.5 lakh deposit by senior citizens in banks.

4) For small businesses: Credit guarantee for micro small and medium enterprises to be raised to Rs 2 crore from current Rs 1 crore.

5) For women: Pregnant women across India will be given Rs 6,000 in their bank accounts to take care of initial medical needs.

6) For farmers: The government will convert 3 crore Kisan Credit cards to RUpay Credit cards.

7) For small businesses: Banks have been asked to raise cash credit limit for small businesses to 25 percent from 20 percent.

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 21:05 IST

Comment using Disqus

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.

LIVE New Zealand Vs Bangladesh Live Score

NZ vs BAN | Dec 31st, 2016

NZ 239 2 41.2

RUNS

WKTS

OVERS

Cricket Scores

Modi’s speech a balm for demonetisation pain, PM doles out sops for weaker sections

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced interest rate subsidy for housing of the poor and also waived off interest rate for farmers, in an effort to address the pain endured by the weaker sections of the society following his demonetisation decision. However, Modi did not provide any clarity on the note ban exercise or its impact on the economy.

Narendra Modi gestures as he addresses the nation on New Year's Eve, PTINarendra Modi gestures as he addresses the nation on New Year's Eve, PTI

Narendra Modi gestures as he addresses the nation on New Year’s Eve, PTI

In a televised address on Saturday evening, Modi praised the spirit shown by Indians and their sacrifice in fighting black money. “The problems which the people have faced for the betterment of the country is an example in itself,” Modi said, in the speech aired all over the country.

The demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes from 9 Novmeber — as much as 86 percent of currency in circulation — created a cash crunch in the country, as the government and RBI were not ready with the replacement currency.

Even after 51 days, banks and ATMs are still not replenished with enough cash to meet the demand from the customers. The non-availability of cash in hand has resulted in a slump in the economy, as scores of informal sector jobs have been lost and consumption declined.

The sops announced on New Year’s Eve may come in this context.

In an effort to balance out the pain for the poor, who have been the worst-hit, the prime minister announced two new housing schemes. According to the first scheme, for home loans up to Rs 9 lakh in urban areas, an interest rate subsidy of 4 percent will be given, and for loans up to Rs 12 lakh, the subsidy will be 3 percent.

Secondly, for the rural poor, Modi announced a 3 percent interest subvention for loans up to Rs 2 lakh.

Apart from this, for farmers, the government will bear a 60-day interest for loans taken from primary credit societies and district cooperative banks.

The third scheme is the increase in the credit guarantee for the small traders to Rs 2 crore from Rs 1 crore. The note ban has broken the MSMEs as the sector has witnessed a decline in business post the demonetisation announcement. The increase in the credit guarantee is an effort to address their pain.

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 20:56 IST

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

It was Plato and Socrates more than Mark Anthony.

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

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

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTIPrime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

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

That is what his detractors will pick on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But that is our problem, not his.

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

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

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

Rahul Gandhi. PTIRahul Gandhi. PTI

Rahul Gandhi. PTI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Demonetisation to Donald Trump: The biggest stories of 2016, as voted by our readers

2016 was a remarkable year for news.

Filled with stories painted in all sorts of hues, it’s unlikely there’s been a year that was as uplifting as it was saddening, as rewarding as it was frustrating, as exhilarating, as shocking.

Roughly 10 days ago, we began asking you what you thought was the biggest story of the year across a variety of sections.

Here’s what you thought:

Let’s start with Business, where your biggest story of the year — somewhat unsurprisingly — was demonetisation.

In a surprising move, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the decision to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes on 8 November, and in the process, sucked out a major chunk of currency notes in the country. As there weren’t enough notes of smaller denominations to replace the banned ones, the move created an artificial cash crunch.

People queued up in front of banks and ATMs to withdraw cash and deposit old notes. As they are still struggling to come to terms with the situation, nobody has been able to fathom the real impact of the move on daily lives. Demonetisation will remain the biggest news story not only of 2016, but even in 2017.

Demonetisation, however, wasn’t just a business story. An all-encompassing story like that affected all walks of life.

Which is probably why you voted it the biggest story of the year in terms of General News too. But since that’s covered above, let’s look at the second biggest news story of the year: Donald Trump being elected President of the United States.

Reams of newsprint and hours of airtime have been devoted to just why this was such an earthshaking story. In fact, the very idea that a rank outsider — a joke candidate, if we’re being honest — at the start of the campaign trail could swat aside all opponents to become the (arguably) most powerful man in the world was laughable. And when it happened, it shook not just the US, but the world at large.

The road to the election was marked by mudslinging, insults, accusations, sexism and much more unpleasant stuff. Ever since it became official that Trump will take office in January 2017, the entire world has been wondering just what he will do when he enters the White House. It was both his journey to presidency and the concerns about what he will do next that made this such a massive story.

In Sports, it was the rise of PV Sindhu that found the most takers.

Sindhu became an overnight sensation after her stunning run at the 2016 Rio Olympics, where she came away with the silver medal. Her incredible ability, combined with her perseverance, made her the nation’s next biggest sporting icon of 2016. After Rio, she went on to win the China Open, her first Super Series title, the Malaysia Masters, and finished as runner-up in the Hong Kong Open.

On her debut at the season-ending Dubai World Super Series Final, she reached the semis and even avenged her Olympic loss to Carolina Marin in the group stage. With these brilliant performances, she consolidated both her own and India’s position as a force to be reckoned with in international badminton. Her dominance also neatly plugged the gap left by an injured Saina Nehwal, and we hope she continues to shine even brighter in the years to come.

In the world of Technology, it was the exploding Samsung Note 7 that you picked.

The Note 7 was quite an interesting phone. In fact, we at Firstpost had a chance to use the smartphone for a short bit when it was announced in India and came away impressed. Soon after its announcement, the phablet had started selling in a few markets. Not even a month had passed and around 30 different reports of certain units catching fire began to trickle in. This turned into a deluge and the first stock for India was delayed.

Samsung even issued a statement confirming the battery malfunction issue. The company immediately began sending out replacement units to Note 7 consumers. Sadly, the second and even third replacement units were still catching fire. It was a complete disaster. The smartphone was banned from flights and announcements were made advising Note 7 users not to use the handset while travelling. Nothing screams bad PR like such public service announcements at the airport.

After numerous replacements, the company had no choice but to announce a global recall of the smartphone. One of the biggest in consumer electronics history. It sent out boxes to consumers asking them to return the handset, as it was a serious threat. It even announced and rolled out software updates to restrict battery charging. Eventually, the Note 7 had to be killed.

In the world of Entertainment, you voted for the ban on Pakistani artistes.

In the aftermath of the Uri terror attack, followed by the surgical strikes in September this year, various sections of the population demanded a ban on Pakistani artistes from the film industry. This meant that any impending film, concert or event featuring a Pakistani artiste or actor had no place in India. Some members of the Cinema Owners Exhibitors Association of India announced they wouldn’t release films featuring Pakistani artistes in four states — Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat and Karnataka.

The Indian Motion Pictures Producers Association also said that it had effectively banned any Pakistani artiste from India. This lead to a conflict in the release of Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. MNS chief Raj Thackeray took it upon himself to ensure this ban was followed. After much running around, and hush-hush conversations with the Maharashtra chief minister, the matter was finally resolved.

Which brings us to Social Media, where the most viral story of the year — as selected by you — was the visual of the Syrian boy covered in blood and dust.

Shared a million times over, this image of five-year old Omran Daqneesh emerged as the ultimate reminder of the horror and trauma thousands of people, especially children, face due to the Syrian civil war. Omran was one of five children wounded during a military strike.

Widely shared on social media, the photograph makes it impossible to forget little Omran in the ambulance, stunned by the bloody chaos. The video in which he is seen wiping dust and blood from his face is considered as one of the strongest visuals of the ravages of war in the past year.

And there you have it.

Those are the biggest stories of 2016, as voted by you.

Bring on 2017!

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 15:01 IST

Demonetization: PM Narendra Modi slams Congress for stalling debate, openly protecting dishonest

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>PM Narendra Modi has slammed the Opposition in his recent interview to the IndiaToday for stalling debate in the Parliament following demonetization. He also accused them for using the Upper and Lower House for ‘openly supporting and protecting the dishonest’.”While Parliament sessions being washed out is a major concern, this blatant endorsement of dishonesty is even more disconcerting for the nation. Debate is critical in a democracy. Had they allowed a debate to take place, it would have revealed a number of dimensions of this mammoth exercise to the nation,” PM Modi said.He said he wanted to speak in both houses but couldn’t as the Congress didn’t allow it, despite the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s appeal to them, as they did not want to a debate in the Parliament over the issue of note ban. He also dismissed the allegations by the Congress that the demonetization was done for political gains. He said that the while the party claims that the note ban was a political decision it also blames the Centre of making the common man suffer. Questioning the two contradictory accusations, Modi said that Congress’ attack on him was illogical. “Maybe, as members of the Opposition, they have to conjure something up to criticise me about, however illogical it may be. I sympathise with their difficulty,” ModiHe also reiterated his earlier attack on the Congress that former prime minister Indira Gandhi had junked the proposal of note ban – as claimed by Madhav Godbole’s in his book Unfinished Innings: Recollections and Reflections of a Civil Servant.- fearing backlash in elections. Rebutting Manmohan SinghModi said indicated that it was ironic that the former prime minister Manmohan Singh called the note ban “monumental mismanagement” as despite Singh’s various high profile roles in the government for 45 years, many in the country ‘continued to live in poverty and deprivation”.He also said that by calling demonetization ‘organised loot’ , Singh was probably referring to the various scams under his own tenure as the prime minister in the UPA governance.

FCRA licences of 20,000 NGOs cancelled: For Modi govt the Act is a repression tool

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has cancelled Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) licences of about ever since it came to power in May 2014.

The home ministry, which took the action, has justified it saying these organisations were technically violating various provisions of the Act.

Cancellation of license would mean that these NGOs are no longer eligible to receive foreign funds. It should be noted that several of these NGOs are involved in rights-based advocacy work, especially working in the domain of human rights.

A plethora of civil society organisations have issued statements against this mass cancellation of FCRA licences stating that this is nothing but an ‘abuse of legal procedures’.

A file image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. APA file image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

A file image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

They also “unequivocally condemned the present use of the FCRA as a tool of repression by the current government”.

Organisations such as Greenpeace India, Amnesty International India, TARSHI Delhi and the Centre for Social Justice were all signatories to this statement.

Even the National Human Rights Commission has issued a notice to the home ministry on the issue.

“Prima facie it appears FCRA licence non-renewal is neither legal nor objective and thereby impinging on the rights of the human rights defenders in access to funding, including foreign funding,” the apex human rights watchdog in the country said in the notice.

The FCRA is an intimidating law, especially since the original Act came into force in 1976 during the Emergency by the Indira Gandhi-led government. The Act, at that time, prohibited MPs, electoral candidates, political parties, judges from accepting foreign contributions.

Even “correspondents, columnist, cartoonist, editor, owner, printer or publisher of a registered newspaper” were included in the ambit of the definition of candidate under the Act. The objective was certainly to remove all voices of political dissent, though the ostensible legislative intent suggested that the law was to restrain foreign intervention from internal, domestic matters.

The new FCRA, amended by the Finance Bill 2016, has many changes that render it more severe than its predecessor.

For one, the registration under the previous FCRA was permanent; the present law has altered this, mandating that FCRA licences would expire after five years.

A renewal process would mean that prescribed authorities, that is the State, would have arbitrary power to decide whether an NGO can renew its licence afresh.

The new law also puts a 50 percent restriction on the proportion of foreign funds, thereby controlling the way an NGO spends its money.

Another change, and perhaps a significant one, is that the 1976 law targetted political parties. The new law, however, aims at “organisations of a political nature”.

The FCRA Rules, 2011, drafted by the United Progressive Alliance government, defines what “organisations of a political nature” may include – farmers’ organisations, students’ unions, trade unions, workers’ unions, youth forums, women’s wing of political parties, youth organisations based on caste, community, religion, language and “any organisation… which habitually engages itself in or employs common methods of political action like ‘bandh’ or ‘hartal’, ‘rasta roko’, ‘rail roko’ or ‘jail bharo’ in support of public causes”. The list is astonishing as it clearly targets people and organisations that want to critique, censure and challenge present political discourse.

It is absolutely appalling that the government would amend the legislation in a way that all “organisations of a political nature” are rendered powerless, while political parties are vindicated for prior violations of the law.

In 2014, the Delhi High Court indicted both the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) as well as the Congress of receiving foreign funds in violation of provisions of Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA).

The verdict came after a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed by the Association for Democratic Reforms. A division bench comprising justice Pradeep Nandrajog and justice Jayant Nath asked the government and the Election Commission (EC) to act against the two political parties for accepting foreign funds from Vedanta subsidiaries.

The question, at this juncture, is why is the government apprehensive of NGOs whose work is to democratically interrogate so that constitutional rights and freedoms are not violated. Another question is whether the FCRA is indeed a tool of repression as civil society organisations have declared?

In April 2015, a legal analysis was developed by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association.

It stated that FCRA norms and regulations “are not in conformity with international law, principles and standards”. The FCRA violates the right to freedom of association, an integral freedom incorporated within the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which India is a party.

The right, though not absolute, are amenable to reasonable restriction; however, the analysis suggests that restrictions such as “public interest” and “economic interest” invoked under the FCRA cannot be termed as legitimate restrictions as they are too ambiguous and may give rise to arbitrary and discretionary powers.

Therefore, should the FCRA be repealed? Perhaps not, as regulation of NGO funding is a significant matter. However, curbing the voices in the civil society by way of a colourable legislation is unacceptable and simply put, draconian.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 21:24 IST

Total mismanagement and administrative collapse: P Chidambaram flays PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former finance minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Friday took a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying since 50 days of the demonetization drive are over, all restrictions should be removed and normalcy should be restored.’It is fair to expect that there will be no queues outside bank branches and ATMs. It is fair to expect that all ATMs will be open round the clock and fully stocked with currency notes. It is fair to expect that the bank branch will pay out the money written on the cheque and not direct the drawer to write another cheque for a smaller amount,’ Chidambaram said while addressing media.Chidambaram sarcastically said that only the Prime Minister can provide an assurance on the removal of restrictions after 50 days of demonetization as the opposition has been dubbed as supporters of black money hoarders and tax evaders by him.’I wish I could hold out assurances on the matter (demonetization), but none of us in the opposition can, because the government has dubbed all of us in the opposition as supporters of black money hoarders and tax evaders,’ he said.Condemning the government for implementing a currency ban without prior planning, Chidambaram reiterated his opinion of demonetization being a case of total mismanagement.’I had also cautioned that the test of demonetization lies in the manner in which it will be implemented. It is now abundantly clear that the whole exercise was undertaken without forethought and planning; without consulting key officials; without understanding the crucial role of money in circulation’ Altogether, the whole exercise has been a case of total mismanagement, administrative collapse and widespread corruption,’ he said.Pointing towards government’s changing stand on the announcement, Chidambaram called it an absurd and undesirable goal. ‘The government has tried to change the narrative from black money and corruption to a cashless economy. No economy can become — or has become – totally cashless. We support encouraging high-value transactions to adopt the digital mode, but to insist that even low-value transactions should go cashless is an absurd and undesirable goal,’ he said.The minister also put forward his two demands and urged the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to make it public- 1. The Agenda note and the minutes of the meeting of the Board of Directors of RBI held on November 8, 2016; and2. The Note for Cabinet on demonetization placed before the Cabinet on November 8, 2016.Prime Minister Modi is all set to address the nation on New Year’s Eve regarding the same issue of demonetization, which marked its 50 days on Friday.

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

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

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

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

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

Five key reasons

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

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

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

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

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

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

Tough days ahead…

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

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

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

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

…Yet hopes are alive

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

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

Demonetization: Cash crunch making some in BJP & allies fear poll prospects in several states

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Cash shortages weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to abolish large currency notes is making allies and members of his ruling party anxious, with some distancing themselves from the move ahead of a series of state elections.Modi removed 500 and 1,000 rupee notes, worth around $7.50 and $15 respectively, on Nov. 8, billing it as an attempt to root out corruption, end terror financing and move the country into the age of digital payments.He promised to replace all old bills with enough new currency notes by the end of this month. But his government has struggled to do that, leading to long lines at banks and a slump in economy activity. Nearly 90 percent of transactions in India used to be in cash.
ALSO READ Demonetization broke the myth that powerful can’t be harmed: Shivraj Singh ChouhanInterviews with six lawmakers from Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and a senior leader of the party’s ideological parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), show his party cadre is starting to worry that the cash crunch could hurt their prospects in several states that go to the polls next year.Some parliamentarians said that while they thought Modi’s decision was good, its execution had been botched and they were faced with constituents who were increasingly upset.
ALSO READ Demonetization: Jaitley misleading people with his statements, says Congress”There is no doubt that it is difficult to convince voters that everything will be fine,” said Santosh Gangwar, the junior finance minister who is leading the BJP campaign in western Uttar Pradesh.”Every candidate who will be contesting polls is nervous because they feel people may not vote for the BJP … There is tension and we cannot deny it,” he said.
ALSO READ Demonetization: PM Modi criticises opposition for ‘openly protecting the dishonest’, slams Manmohan SinghOf the BJP’s 71 MPs from Uttar Pradesh, 28 have been to BJP President Amit Shah and the finance minister’s office to seek solutions for the cash crunch, said a senior finance ministry official.BJP EXPECTS “BIG VICTORY”BJP spokesman GVL Narasimha Rao said that despite temporary difficulties, the prime minister continued to enjoy overwhelming support.”Party cadres are highly enthused about a big victory in upcoming elections, and if a few are apprehensive, they will realise the reality soon,” Rao said.Disquiet within the BJP underscores how Modi’s unprecedented bet is turning into a test of popularity, and could go some way to determining his political future.It has become a central issue in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, where the outcome of elections early next year will be key for Modi’s expected bid for a second term in 2019.The opposition, led by the Congress party, has joined forces, mocking the government for being ill-prepared for so-called “demonetization” and blaming it for hardships faced by the poor as a result. It has called for Modi’s resignation.The senior RSS official said they had counselled Modi days before the move to take time to prepare the ground for such a massive exercise, including setting up two new mints and expanding the banking network, and to roll it out in phases.But the prime minister decided to press ahead, and he alone would bear responsibility for its failure or success, the official added.Earlier this month, N. Chandrababu Naidu, chief minister of the southern state Andhra Pradesh and a political ally of Modi, abruptly distanced himself from the move.Modi and senior members of his cabinet defend demonetization. In an interview with India Today magazine on Thursday, Modi said it would give the economy a boost and provide long-term benefits, including forcing the country’s vast shadow economy into the open.”GRIM SITUATION”Modi’s announcement enjoyed popular support at first, with many people prepared to endure hardship as long as others were forced to give up ill-gotten wealth or pay tax.But shortages of new 500 and 2,000 rupee notes have caused tempers to rise as millions queue at banks and ATMs to draw money.Last week, more than three dozen BJP lawmakers, many of whom came from states that go to polls next year, met with Shah to demand that the government sends more cash to their constituencies, and quickly.The MPs told Shah about severe cash shortages and hardship to local businesses and ordinary people, according to several lawmakers who attended the meeting.They told the BJP president that they did not have the courage to hold election rallies at a time when people still had to stand in line, sometimes for hours, to get money. Some said they had not started door-to-door campaigning.”The situation is grim, and we cannot ignore it,” Jagdambika Pal, a BJP lawmaker from Uttar Pradesh who attended the meeting, told Reuters. “It is a challenge for every BJP lawmaker to manage the situation, but we cannot do anything if there is no money in the banks.”

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

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

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

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

Senior journalist Ravish Kumar. Screengrab from YouTube video

Senior journalist Ravish Kumar. Screengrab from YouTube

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

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

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

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

Demonetisation Day 50: Pain from ‘Mahayagna’ eases in India, but not in Bharat; what have we gained?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi called demonetisation a ‘Mahayagna’ in his speech on the evening of 8 November when he scrapped Rs 500, Rs 1,000 currency notes asking citizens to ‘stand up and participate’ in the exercise to make it a grand success.

The note ban was initially sold as a war on black money, fake currency and terror funding and later as a project to create a cashless economy. Everyone, including Modi’s political rivals, lauded his intention behind note ban — cleansing the economy from illegal cash and fake currency and make each rupee floating in the banking system accountable to tax scrutiny — but in the same breath criticised the way the government and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) handled the implementation.

PM Modi asked for 50 days to end the common man’s pain. Post 50-days, let’s take a look at what has happened since the demonetisation announcement.

Prime minister Narendra Modi. PTI file photoPrime minister Narendra Modi. PTI file photo

Prime minister Narendra Modi. PTI file photo

To begin with, there were a series of flip-flops in rules that could have been avoided had there been a proper plan. More than 60 circulars were issued in just one month confusing both bankers and customers. Promises made by both the PM and RBI were broken adding to confusions.

Promises broken

Look at these statements: In his speech, Modi said “you will have 50 days to deposit your notes and there is no need for panic. Your money will remain yours. You need have no worry on this point. After depositing your money in your account, you can draw it when you need it. Keeping in mind the supply of new notes, in the first few days, there will be a limit of ten thousand rupees per day and twenty thousand rupees per week. This limit will be increased in the coming days.”

True, money in their bank accounts belonged to the citizens but Modi’s promise that people can withdraw as per their need wasn’t fulfilled since banks struggled to fill their ATMs and branches to meet the increasing customer demand. This was on account of three reasons: 1) the government mints couldn’t churn out enough new notes to meet the demand; it was beyond their capacity even after working in three shifts; 2) the fresh lot of new currencies that arrived were mostly Rs 2,000 notes; there were not enough change to go around; 3) people who managed to draw money started hoarding it as curbs on cash withdrawals created panic.

On Thursday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley refused to acknowledge even a single case of ‘unrest’ during the 50 days of demonetisation.

But, what about the ruckus at the banks and ATMs causing inconvenience to the public reported from across the country linked to demonetisation? Surely, all of it can’t be fake.

During his parivartan rally in Moradabad, UP, Modi asked Jan Dhan account holders not to withdraw the black money deposited in their accounts and promised that he will find a way for them to keep that money. This wasn’t in good taste because he was effectively offering a reward to the benami account holders for abetting a wrongdoing.

In his 8 November speech, Modi assured the citizens that they don’t need to panic and can exchange their old currency till 30 December. “From 10th November till 24th November the limit for such exchange will be 4,000 rupees. From 25th November till 30th December, the limit will be increased.”

But, the government, in fact, chose to advance the deadline much before the promised date. Lastly, there was a 19 December circular from RBI restricting deposits above Rs 5,000 only once, which was later withdrawn. Here again, a promise made initially was broken.

Lack of preparedness, transparency

The point here is both the government and the RBI were not prepared to face the rush for cash as evident from the frequent change in rules in the days following the demonetisation announcement. Even though the RBI promised a weekly withdrawal limits of Rs 24,000 (hiked from the initial Rs 20,000) and Rs 2,500 from recalibrated ATMs (from Rs 2000 initially), banks were unable to give even this amount to customers, often leading to altercations between staff and customers.

After 50 days, the cash situation has improved for sure, but only mildly. The situation has indeed turned better in metros, where ATM queues are now shorter. But, in rural areas the situation hasn’t improved much. As this Indian Express ground report states: since most farmers maintained accounts in cooperative banks, they continue to be in a spot. The informal economy, which offers employment to millions of workers, has been shattered. It will take a long time before small entrepreneurs recover from the shock. The cooperative banking sector, which plays a prominent role in rural India, is struggling to survive.

The RBI’s reluctance to communicate effectively and lack of transparency in updating information in public domain, added to confusion. An end to the cash-crunch isn’t in sight yet. Till 19 December, the RBI has infused Rs 5.92 lakh crore in the banking system as against the Rs 15.44 lakh crore demonetised. Given the physical constraints of four mints run by the RBI and government, it is unlikely that cash situation will return to normal before March 2017, according to bankers. This means, the cash curbs will stay longer.

Economy impact

Demonetisation is sure to have short-term impact on the economy which is predominantly dependendent on cash transactions the signs of which are already visible. The RBI has lowered the GDP forecast for the year to 7.1 percent, so have most private forecasters. The consumption story has taken a hit. The services sector PMI sharply fell to 46.7 in November from 54.5 in October — that is the biggest monthly drop since November 2008, just two months after the global financial crisis hit the economy following the US investment bank Lehman Brothers going bust in September.

Similarly, the manufacturing PMI too has fallen with the index shrinking to 52.3 in November from October’s 22-month high of 54.4. data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), unemployment rates fell to less than 5 percent in the week of 27 November, but has since risen to 6.1 percent in the week of 4 December to 6.6 percent in the week ended 11 December and then to 7 percent in the week ended 18 December. The impact comes with a lag and we need to wait for fresh numbers. The full impact of the demonetisation resulted cash crunch will only unfold in the next few months. If the cash crunch prolongs, things can get worse.

RBI fighting a trust deficit

Another highlight of the 50-day period was the fall of the RBI, which faced criticism for giving up its autonomy and credibility. The RBI appeared clueless how to take the demonetisation process ahead from the beginning and faced criticism from former central bankers including Usha Thorat and K C Chakrabarty. According to a Bloomberg report, the RBI board approved demonetisation less than three hours before Modi announced the decision in a televised address to the nation.

Information on how many members favored or opposed the move isn’t “on record,” the RBI said in response to queries from Bloomberg News under the Right to Information Act, the report said.

The report also cited Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s comment to lawmakers on 16 November that it was RBI’s 10-member board that came up with the idea of note ban. Was the RBI forced to approve the idea of demonetisation is something only time will tell.

Demonetisation gains

Will demonetisation deliver its originally stated long-term gains of demonetisation — winning black money, killing fake currency and terror? Long-term gains are hard to predict at this stage. The tangible gains of demonetisation will dependent up on how much illegal cash is unearthed at the end of this exercise. Demonetisation as a trigger for Indians to shift to a digital world of finance is a far-stretched idea since such a change can’t happen overnight and should be gradual. As of now, only pains are visible.

True, in the long term demonetisation may prove to be beneficial when more people come in the tax net. This coupled with the Goods and Services Tax (GST) rollout can reboot the economy. But, that point is still away. Adjusting to the loss to the economy and the pain suffered by common man that isn’t quantifiable, what will be the net gain to economy from demonetisation is a question PM Modi will have to answer with support of evidence when he once again face the electorate in 2019.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 12:01 IST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

File photo of Venkaiah Naidu. PTI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some stats:

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

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

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

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

Demonetisation is an anti-scam vaccine

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

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

India has changed, Congressmen haven’t

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

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

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

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

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

Uniform Common code part of govt’s political agenda: Oppn tells Law Commission

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Most of the opposition parties who have responded to the Law Commission questionnaire on the contentious uniform civil code have dubbed the move to refer the matter to it as part of the BJP government’s “political agenda” with some of them even questioning the timing ahead of Uttar Pradesh polls.Responding to the questionnaire, parties such as Congress, BSP and TMC are learnt to have refrained from saying as to whether they support to a common code or not. They have, however, dubbed the decision of the government to refer the matter to the law panel as part of its political agenda to further its political interests, sources said.Some parties have also questioned the timing of the decision to refer the matter to the Commission ahead of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls due early next year.The BSP, which was perhaps the first party to respond to the law panel, has slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for allegedly imposing the agenda of the RSS on the people.Responding to the law panel’s request to answer the questionnaire, BSP said the party is attaching a press statement issued by Mayawati on October 25 in Lucknow.Instead of answering the 16 questions put out by the law panel, the BSP said the press statement is its response to the questionnaire.The BSP statement said the BJP has been trying to impose the agenda of the RSS on the people ever since it came to power at the Centre.Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) is learnt to have opposed a common code and has supported its stand through certain court orders.The NCP is learnt to have opposed the practice of “instant triple talaq” but has by and large supported separate personal laws.Highly-placed sources in the panel said the questionnaire has so far received over 40,000 responses which continue to pour in even after the expiry of the deadline.While the deadline to send the responses ended on December 21, the law panel said it would continue to entertain responses received after the deadline.”Uniform Civil Code is one of the important projects before the Law Commission. The responses/replies received by the Commission are being processed. The response/replies received, if any, after the date may also be considered,” it said in a brief statement.Should the practice of triple talaq be abolished and whether a uniform civil code should be optional, the Law Commission had on October 7 asked the public seeking response on these sensitive issues. The All Indian Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) had slammed the questionnaire, saying it was uncalled for.Amid a raging debate on uniform civil code, the law panel had sought public views on the subject to revise and reform family laws, saying the aim is to address social injustice and its not against plurality of laws.The Commission said the objective behind the endeavour is to address discrimination against vulnerable groups and harmonise the various cultural practices even as it assured the people the “norms of no one class, group or community will dominate the tone and tenor of family law reforms”.In an accompanying questionnaire, the Commission had asked whether the existing personal laws and customary practices need codification and whether it would benefit people.Should the practice of triple talaq be abolished, retained or retained with suitable amendments; and whether a uniform civil code should be optional are among 16 queries by the commission.

2016 did not belong to Modi, Rahul or Urjit Patel, it belonged to the Indian hypocrite

Meet the person of the year 2016: The quintessential Indian hypocrite.

You would have met him everywhere. In queues outside ATMs, banks and multiplexes, chanting slogans, waging WhatsApp jihad, supporting boycott calls on Twitter, railing against his own countrymen and bleeding from his desktop for soldiers on the border.

His principle: Preach in public exactly the opposite of what you practise in private.

His dharma: Hate in others what you want to hide about yourself.

The year belonged to him. He screamed, shouted, outraged, pointed one finger at others, forgetting the direction of the other four. But as Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.”

India has always been an amusing bundle of contradictions, a lexicon of oxymorons. We worship at the altar of female goddesses, but have a skewed sex ratio. We boast of sanskars and lofty ideals but practice casteism, demand dowry and have a maniacal obsession with male children.

We are the land of Kamasutra, Khajuraho and have the highest growth rate of population, but we also have Pahlaj Nihalani who fears moral regression of the vulnerable masses if James Bond kisses for half-a-minute on the screen. We are a country that sings bhajans of Meera and Kabir but ends up revering Radhey and Asaram as ‘Maa’ and ‘Bapu’.

We are a country, which, in true Oscar Wilde fashion, is so clever that it doesn’t mean a single word it says.

Representational image. Reuters.

Representational image. Reuters.

But, sometimes a country’s polity and society combine to create circumstances and debates that expose our deeper contradictions, expose bigger hypocrisies. And gave us many shades of the quintessential Indian hypocrite.

This year we had the kaala dhan warrior. He rejoiced when Prime Minister Narendra Modi outlawed notes of higher denomination. In a delirium of patriotism, moral propriety and schadenfreude, he announced the end of black money and the corrupt — everyone apart from, of course, himself.

But, by next morning the kaala dhan warrior rushed to launder unaccounted cash, adjust accounts, put every bit of outlawed currency into bank accounts, announcing at the end of the day, “Yaar, apna to adjust ho gaya.”

He called it a surgical strike on the corrupt, rich and powerful and then bathed in the flowing Ganga of connivance and corruption with co-hypocrites — the broker, the banker, holder of Jan Dhan accounts, presumably the people hit most by kaala dhan.

Nothing captured the prevailing hypocrisy more than the constant changes in deposit and withdrawal rules to counter his propensity to circumvent laws that were hailed in public — Bharat Mata ki Jai — and violated in private.

We had the holier-than-thou fanatic. By day he slammed fanatics of ”that religion” for not allowing a cricketer’s wife to wear a gown. He mocked the utter lack of freedom in that religion, the tyranny of those opposing their religious and moral codes on others. By night he railed at a celebrity couple’s choice of name for their newborn, opposed a woman’s freedom to choose her husband, a person’s choice of food, a producer’s choice of the actor he wanted to cast in his film.

His ideological rival, behaved in an identical fashion. He defended a mother’s right to call her son Taimur, but not a woman’s right to protest Triple Talaq or wear a gown, proving hypocrites of the world have just one religion — hate.

We had the pious gau bhakt. He declared cow as his mother, advocated lynching of men for eating beef, skinning carcasses, but blithely went past bovines looking for food in heaps of garbage lying on roads of ‘Swachh Bharat’, ignored hundreds dying in cow shelters.

He was the bleeding heart patriot who blasted others for complaining of hardships when soldiers were dying on the border but encouraged his children to look for the best overseas job, leaving the vacancies in the Army for the neighbour’s son to fill. He shed Twitter tears when soldiers died in natural disasters in Siachen but laughed when people died in queues outside banks due to a man-made disaster or at Jantar Mantar while demanding one-rank-one pension.

He was the angry desh bhakt who danced to Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s songs, sang out aloud Honey Singh’s [email protected]#*d mein dam hai to band karwa lo” at parties but protested Ghulam Ali’s ghazal concerts. He gloated when Indian beat Pakistan in hockey but felt outraged at the thought of cricketers and kabaddi players taking on their cross-border rivals. He lamented when one state government spent a few hundred crores on ad campaigns but puffed his chest in pride when another government announced it would put Rs 3,600 crore in the Arabian Sea to showcase a warrior in a state with high rates of farmer suicides and history of droughts.

Finally, he was the social media jihadist who advocated bans on apps of online retailers endorsed by Aamir Khan but rushed to its stores every time a sale was announced. He was the Twitter activist who sought a ban on Chinese items but queued up for flash sales of mobiles made in China, paid for them through Paytm. He was the intolerant troll who wanted films to be boycotted, actors to be punished but bought tickets first-day-first-show, tamely surrendering crores in the dangal of box office, putting their money where their mouth wasn’t.

No, 2016, didn’t belong to Narendra Modi, Arvind Kejriwal, Rahul Gandhi, Urjit Patel, Aamir Khan or Salman Khan. It belonged to the quintessential hypocrite who amused and entertained us throughout the year, proving right Somerset Maugham who famously said, “It cannot, like adultery or gluttony, be practiced at spare moments; it is a whole-time job.”

Congratulations, all of us gave it one full year.

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 15:15 IST

China hopeful of better ties with India in 2017, says committed to dissolve outstanding differences

Beijing: China hopes for better ties with India in 2017 by resolving differences over India’s admission into elite Nuclear Suppliers Group and listing of JeM chief Masood Azhar as terrorist by the UN as the two nations signed off their most engaging year bogged down by the twin issues.

“This year has seen a steady development of China-India relations, with the two countries marching towards the goal of building a more closely-knit partnership for development,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told PTI summing up Beijing’s perception of the outgoing year and its vision of Sino-Indian ties for the next year.

“The leadership of the two countries have maintained frequent contacts” despite the differences, she said, referring to a number of meetings between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping at multilateral foras like G-20 and BRICS summit.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

She said that the dialogues and consultations have been going on in an orderly fashion at all levels and practical cooperation in various fields has been carried out steadily.

“As close neighbours, it is natural for our two big countries to have differences, and we have been exploring ways to resolve them through diplomatic channels. The main theme of China-India relations remains friendship and cooperation,” she said, holding out hope for a more fruitful year for bilateral ties next year with the resolution of the two major issues.

“For the year 2017, China would like to work with India for better implementation of the important consensus reached between the leadership, greater political mutual trust, wider mutually beneficial cooperation and properly management of differences so as to ensure a sustained and steady development of China-India relations,” she said.

The strength of the deep diplomatic engagement between the two sides virtually begins with the New Year as China’s second “technical hold” on India’s application for listing Azhar as terrorist under UN’s 1267 Committee will expire on 31 December, opening a new window for both the countries to address the issue which cast a shadow on Beijing’s claim to fight terrorism in all forms as the Pakistan-based

Jaish-e-Muhammad is already listed by the UN as terror group. With the end of the second technical hold by China, India is expected to submit a fresh application backed by a charge sheet filed recently by the National Investigation Agency against Azhar for his involvement in the Pathankot terror attack.

The charge sheet was expected to further reinforce India’s case for a UN ban against Azhar. Other members of the Committee including UNSC permanent members, US, Russia, France and UK had backed it earlier.

Indian officials hope that the charge sheet provides strong basis for the case for China to take a relook as Beijing in the past argued that sufficient evidence has not been provided.

“Listing in the 1267 Committee must be in line with the relevant resolutions of the UNSC and the rules of procedure of the Committee,” Hua had said, replying to question on Azhar’s issue days after NIA filed charge sheet.

On India’s admission into the Nuclear Suppliers Group too Indian and Chinese officials hope for a way out next year as China, after blocking India’s bid, began an exercise to work out a “non-discriminatory formula” to admit new members.

It is unclear yet whether a formula can be worked out where the other members of the NSG will agree for admission of China’s close ally Pakistan, whose record in nuclear proliferation during the time of its disgraced nuclear scientist Dr AQ Khan will be a stumbling block.

China is advocating a two step approach for admission of countries who have not signed nuclear-Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in the NSG. As per the new stand announced by Beijing last month, it first wants to find a solution that is applicable to the admission of all non-NPT members followed by discussions to admit specific non-NPT member.

Indian officials say it will make it another engaging year in Sino-Indian diplomacy on both Azhar and NSG fronts and hope that it would not be a futile exercise as happened this year.

However, even after the resolution of the two issues, the larger issues like the USD 46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor remain. Modi himself raised this issue with Xi during their meeting at the Chinese city of Hangzhou in September.

Significantly, as the year draws to a close, Lt Gen Amir Riaz, Commander of the Pakistan’s Southern Command which is based in Quetta, asked India to “shun enmity” with Pakistan and “join the USD 46-billion CPEC along with Iran, Afghanistan and other Central Asian countries and enjoy its benefits”.

Chinese officials say Riaz’s comments are significant as they point to the backing of the Pakistan army.

Hua said China is open for such a proposal and wondered “what is India’s take on this whether this is a good sign from Pakistan”.

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 14:50 IST

Demonetisation: Prime minister Narendra Modi to address nation on New Year eve

Prime minister Narendra Modi will address the nation on the New Year eve, said media reports. The address is likely to be at 7:30 in the evening.

Though it is not immediately known what the speech will be about, speculation is rife that it will be a stock taking of the demonetisation announced on 8 November.

The prime minister had announced the government’s surprise decision to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes in a stated aim to curb the fake currency, black money generation and terror funding.

The decision has deeply impacted the economy and normal lives of millions as it resulted in a severe cash crunch, which still continues.

PM Narendra ModiPM Narendra Modi

PM Narendra Modi

As the impact of the decision to replace about 86 percent of the currency in circulation unfolded on various sectors of the economy, the prime minister in a speech sought 50-day time period to deal with the situation. The deadline ends on 30 December.

The lack of preparation of the RBI and the government to deal with the evolving situation was evident as the printing of replacement currencies was slow and failed to keep pace with the rising demand for cash. Also even as the requirement was of more smaller denomination notes, the government released Rs 2,000 notes which did little to ease the crunch situation.

Frequent changes in rules regarding the withdrawal of cash and deposit of banned old notes added to the confusion of the public.

Ever since the pains heightened, there has been wide speculation that the prime minister will announce some sops for the rural and urban poor who have been hit badly as jobs dried up due to the sudden economic slowdown.

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 11:55 IST

Demonetisation: Prime minister Narendra Modi to address nation on 31 Dec evening

Prime minister Narendra Modi will address the nation on the New Year eve, said media reports. The address is likely to be at 7:30 in the evening.

Though it is not immediately known what the speech will be about, speculation is rife that it will be a stock taking of the demonetisation announced on 8 November.

The prime minister had announced the government’s surprise decision to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes in a stated aim to curb the fake currency, black money generation and terror funding.

The decision has deeply impacted the economy and normal lives of millions as it resulted in a severe cash crunch, which still continues.

PM Narendra ModiPM Narendra Modi

PM Narendra Modi

As the impact of the decision to replace about 86 percent of the currency in circulation unfolded on various sectors of the economy, the prime minister in a speech sought 50-day time period to deal with the situation. The deadline ends on 30 December.

The lack of preparation of the RBI and the government to deal with the evolving situation was evident as the printing of replacement currencies was slow and failed to keep pace with the rising demand for cash. Also even as the requirement was of more smaller denomination notes, the government released Rs 2,000 notes which did little to ease the crunch situation.

Frequent changes in rules regarding the withdrawal of cash and deposit of banned old notes added to the confusion of the public.

Ever since the pains heightened, there has been wide speculation that the prime minister will announce some sops for the rural and urban poor who have been hit badly as jobs dried up due to the sudden economic slowdown.

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 11:55 IST

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

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

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

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

India needs about 200-250 fighter aircrafts to maintain combat edge: IAF chief Arup Raha

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Outgoing IAF chief Arup Raha on Wednesday made it clear that just 36 Rafale fighter jets would not suffice as India needs about 200-250 more fighters to maintain its combat edge over adversaries.The Air Chief Marshal, who is set to retire on December 31, also rued that the tender for the much needed “force multiplier” mid air refuellers had to be withdrawn. He said a fresh tender is in the offing and the procurement will be speeded up. Underlining that the teeth of any air force is the combat fleet, Raha said that the country needs another production line besides the Tejas. He explained that the strength sanctioned by the government is 42 squadrons “which was a numerical value. He said what is needed “is also a capability mix”.Raha said India has enough of heavy weight fighters – the Su30 MKI – which will last for another 30-40 years. He said the light weight spectrum would be served by the 123 Tejas light combat aircraft ordered by the IAF.Terming Rafale as an excellent aircraft, Raha said it comes in the medium weight spectrum. “It is tremendously capable in all its role. It is a multi-role aircraft and can be used very effectively. It can prove its worth in any situation,” Raha said. “But we have just ordered 36 aircraft and we require more aircraft in this middle weight category to give entire spectrum of capability,” he said. Raha said a void has been created in the past because of obsolescence and many of the squadrons will be past their use-by date. “We have already used them for four decades plus. It is time to retire them and get new aircraft,” he said adding this void has to be filled up quickly and 36 Rafale aircraft “will not do as we require much more”. “Over the next 10 years, we must have 200-250 aircraft. It has to be balanced out. In the heavy weight spectrum, we have enough. But in the medium weight category, we need to have more. Yes, about 200 will be very good,” he said. India and France finally signed the Rafale deal on September 23 this year, over a year after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the deal during his Paris visit in April 2015. The planes, equipped with latest weapons and tailored for Indian needs, will be delivered to the IAF between September 2019 and April 2022. The IAF currently has 33 fighter squadrons, against the sanctioned 42.Raha also rued that IAF’s Russian-origin Ilyushin-78 tanker fleet was plagued by maintenance problems and more midair refuellers were a “strategic requirement” to extend the range of fighter planes. IL-78 fleet had served the IAF well but its availability for missions has been less due to maintenance problems. India floated a global tender for six midair refuellers in 2007 but it has been scrapped twice in the final stages. “Sadly, there have been some problem areas in the acquisition. A new tender will be out soon,” Raha said.The air chief said the terrorist attack on the Pathankot air base and the An-32 crash in which 29 people were killed were “the worst memories of my career”. “We have flown in the fighter fleet 40,000 hrs, more than last 10 years due to better serviceability. We have done an average night flying of 27 per cent which was less earlier,” he said speaking about the achievements under his tenure.

BJP attacks Rahul, asks who benefited from ‘mota maal’ in VVIP chopper scam

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday asked Rahul Gandhi to answer as to who benefited from the ‘mota maal’ in the VVIP Chopper scam and the coal scam.”Rahul Gandhi is trying to mislead people and helping the frauds. We can understand Rahul’s frustration. He has been exposed and is trying to hide his failure and deviate people by blaming government,” said BJP leader Shrikant Sharma .Sharma further said there is a difference between what Rahul says and what he does, adding “Rahul does not have any evidence if he had he would have shown that in parliament. He does not let parliament function.””We don’t do politics on deaths, Congress has this trait. Rahul talks about deaths caused due to demonetization what about farmer’s death caused in Congress regime,” he added.Labelling the Congress party as the ‘most corrupt party’ the Bharatiya Janata Party earlier on Wednesday said that the former’s vice-president Rahul Gandhi, pitches for ‘gareebi hatato’ but has never worked for the poor.Upping the ante on the government’s demonetization drive, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi earlier in the day said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sacrificed the common man in ‘yagna’ against black money.”Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he is performing a yagna against black money and corruption. As animals are slaughtered in yagnas, similarly Prime Minister Modi has sacrificed the common man in yagna against black money,” said Gandhi.He further said that demonetization ‘yagna’ is aimed at benefitting the rich and was performed for 50 families.The Congress vice-president’s fresh outburst against the ruling dispensation came a day after the anti-demonetisation meeting, which was attended by all opposition parties except the Left, Janata Dal (United) and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).

Balochistan: In no hurry to set up ‘government in exile’, says Naela Quadri

Kannur (Kerala): As part of drumming up support for setting up a ‘government in exile’, Baloch International Women’s Forum leader Naela Quadri Baloch has said they were in no hurry for it.

Baloch, who arrived in Kerala on Tuesday night as part of her effort at garnering support across the country, will speak on Wednesday at a public meeting in Thalassery near here.

Naela Qadri Baloch. File photo.

Naela Qadri Baloch. File photo. Firstpost

The meeting is being organised under the aegis of ‘Brennen Vibrant’, an organisation of the old activists of the RSS’s students wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad at Brennen College in Thalassery.

“Our goal is to set up a government in exile and we are in no hurry for that. We all know that it’s a long way ahead and we are now laying the foundation for it,” she said.

“What has come as a joy for us is that the people of Varanasi have extended their support to us and we wish to set it up there. We are also seeking the support of the Indian government for it,” said Quadri.

Quadri has been travelling across India and by now she has already addressed meetings in Delhi, Mumbai, Nagpur, Chandigarh and Bengaluru.

“I should say that at all these places the response was overwhelming, especially from the youths. What we are basically doing now is to garner support for our movement. As Balochis, we are now also connecting to our people who are settled across the world. In all we are about 40 million,” she said.

Several Baloch leaders from Pakistan and from other countries have begun visiting New Delhi since Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Independence Day address on August 15 highlighted the Baloch issue.

Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest province in terms of area, has witnessed a long-running insurgency for which Islamabad blames New Delhi.

Quadri, however, downplayed some reactions from her own people about her own role.

“I do not claim to be the leader. Our aim is to work together and at the moment we should not be wasting time on such things,” she said.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 13:37 IST

Ensure benami properties law won’t hit common man: Shiv Sena to PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Shiv Sena on Wednesday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure that the proposed law against ‘benami’ properties would not hit the common man as hard as the demonetization measure that has “harried the middle class”.Vowing to carry forward the war against corruption and black money post-demonetization, Modi had on Sunday said the government will soon operationalise a strong law to effectively deal with ‘benami’ properties.”Modi launched a surgical strike against black money to weed out money stashed abroad. But the truth is, not a single penny has been recovered. The rich of the country have incurred not even a dime’s loss after the demonetization, whereas the commonman has been harried,” an editorial in Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ said.”Now what is the government’s plan against benami properties? We hope that the middle class citizens are not crushed under the harsh steps taken by the government as did happen after demonetization. Hope that the real benami property holders do not legalise their properties while common man is stripped naked,” the ruling alliance partner said.It also said the steps taken against the rich and black money holders in fact had an adverse effect on the common people.Once an announcement on benami properties is made, those possessing estates will convert all of it into “white” within 24 hours, like hundreds of crores were converted into “white” after the demonetization decision, the Sena said.”It seems that laws are only meant to safeguard the rich while the poor get crushed under them,” it further said.The party also said that those who were hailing the surgical strike across the LoC have now stopped doing so after continued attacks by the neighbouring nation killed over 50 soldiers since the Indian military action.The Sena also sought to know from the government if it will ensure that Kashmiri Pandits get their “fair share” of land back in Kashmir before it starts accumulating ‘benami’ properties.

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

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

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

Here are some edited excerpts:

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

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

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

File image of Bibek Debroy. Image credit: Forbes India

File image of Bibek Debroy. Image credit: Forbes India

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Obviously, there was inconvenience.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you think it will impact the tax base?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Economists favour cut in income tax rate; harmonisation of custom duties

New Delhi: Simplification and reduction in personal income tax rates and harmonisation of customs duties to global levels in a bid to boost economic activities were favoured by economists at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Niti Aayog.

The meeting, which comes ahead of the Budget slated to be held in early February, did not go into the impact of demonetisation on the economy while the aspect of digitisation to make it a less cash economy figured. “Tax simplification figured quite a lot…on the direct taxation, both corporate and personal income tax on simplifying, reducing exemptions, bringing down tax rate and
aligning tax system to make India competitive with international destination,” Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Arvind Panagariya told reporters. He was briefing the reporters about the outcome of the meeting on “Economic Policy: The Road Ahead”.

Representational Image. AFPRepresentational Image. AFP

Representational Image. AFP

About the inverted duty structure, it was suggested to harmonise the tariffs to resolve the issue. “One of the issues that came up (for discussion) was tariff inversion whereby tariff on component and inputs are higher than the final products so that undercuts the incentive to produce the final product,” Panagariya said. “So the suggestion (on this issue) was to harmonise the tariff to single rate to 7 per cent or so,” he added. Besides, suggestion was made for listing of PSUs and increase use of Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) to subsidy expenditure.

Farm sector experts suggested incentivising states to undertake market reforms, create corpus fund for promoting farm mechanisation and micro irrigation, and provide interest subvention for term loans so that income of farmers are doubled by 2022. Experts also suggested that there is a need to invest in the tourism sector which has potential to generate high paying job and making Indian universities world class. Pulak Ghosh IIM Bangaluru professor said that India need to collect large volumes of data so that data driven policy can be formulated.

Among others, the meeting was attended by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Panagariya and various other senior officials from the Union Government and Niti Aayog. The economists and experts who were present include Pravin Krishna, Sukhpal Singh, Vijay Paul Sharma, Neelkanth Mishra, Surjit Bhalla, Govinda Rao, Madhav Chavan, N K Singh, Vivek Dehejia, Pramath Sinha, Sumit Bose and T N Ninan.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 08:13 IST

50 days are up, time for whip-lashes? Uddhav Thackeray mocks PM Modi’s demonetizaton move

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Continuing his tirade against Narendra Modi government over demonetization, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray asked what should we do now as the ’50-day’ period the prime minister asked for was about to end.”Narendra Modi had said give me 50 days’ time (for the situation to normalise after demonetization) or else give me whip-lashes. Fifty days are getting over on December 30, what should we do on December 31?” Thackeray asked at a rally in Dhule, north Maharashtra.He expressed confidence that Sena will retain power in the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai. Sena will win maximum number of municipal corporations in the coming polls and have maximum number of mayors elected, Thackeray claimed.Referring to the Prime Minister’s speech at Bhoomi-pujan ceremony of Shivaji memorial off Mumbai coast, Uddhav said, “After listening to the Prime Minister’s speech, after some time I felt is there any end to this (constant speech-making)?”Meanwhile, a senior Sena minister in the Maharashtra government, requesting anonymity, said his party was ready to contest the crucial MCGM elections on its own.”Sena has made up its mind to contest the elections on its own, given the bitter experience we had with BJP calling off the alliance at the last minute before 2014 Assembly elections,” he said.The minister ruled out possibility of alliance with Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. MNS was a spent force, he said. According to a senior BJP minister, the party’s top brass in New Delhi has yet had not taken serious note of the ally Shiv Sena’s regular outbursts against the Modi government. Sena has been attacking the government over demonetization move, among other issues.Sena mouthpiece Saamana today took a swipe at Modi for greeting his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif on birthday. Chhatrapati Shivaji never extended such greetings to “the enemies of the nation,” it said.

Demonetization has destroyed terror funding and human trafficking: PM Modi

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

Will fight ‘Kaala Dhan’ and ‘Kaala Mann’, wasn’t voted to cut ribbons: PM Modi in Dehradun

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said that he was not voted to cut ribbons and light lamps but work as the country’s watchman and fight the menace of black money that has destroyed the nation.”Have I been made the Prime Minister to attend small inaugurations and cut ribbons? The people are upset when I act as the ‘chowkidaar’,” he said while addressing a parivartan rally in Dehradun after the inauguration of the Char Dham highway project.Prime Minister Modi said India, which used to be called the ‘bird of gold’, has been looted by its very own people.”It is now high time for us to fight for the honest,” he added.Asserting that the country has suffered due to both – ‘kaala dhan’ and ‘kaala mann’, Prime Minister Modi said it is his government’s endeavour to strengthen the hands of the honest and law abiding citizens.Prime Minister Modi said black money has destroyed the nation and added that this government was fighting against the black money hoarders.”We had said that corrupt people will be punished and now this is happening. This is a ‘Safai Abhiyaan’ and the people of India have helped me,” said Prime Minister Modi.”Fake notes, terrorism, human trafficking and drug mafia were all dealt with in one stroke after the demonetization announcement on November 8,” he added.Acknowledging that people faced a lot of inconvenience after demonetization, Prime Minister Modi expressed his delight over the fact that the nation came forward to fight against corruption despite all hassles.The Prime Minister’s outburst came hours after Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati while defending the Rs. 104-crore bank deposits accused the ruling BJP of misusing power to malign her party’s image.

Shiv Sena takes a dig at Narendra Modi for greeting Nawaz Sharif on his birthday

Mumbai: In a veiled dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for wishing his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on his birthday amid chill in relations between the two countries, Shiv Sena on Tuesday invoked Chhatrapati Shivaji saying the warrior king never extended such greetings to “the enemies of the nation.”

Significantly, the Sena’s barb at Modi came within days of his laying the foundation for a grand memorial to Shivaji in Mumbai.

The ally also voiced its displeasure over the BJP supporters chanting “Modi, Modi” during a public meeting addressed by the prime minister, which was also attended by Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray.

File photo of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray. PTI

File photo of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray. PTI

“What is outstanding about Shivaji Maharaj’s thoughts is that he considered enemies of Swarajya as enemies of the nation. Shivaji Maharaj never extended birthday greetings to Aurangzeb, Afzal Khan and Shaista Khan,” an editorial in Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ said.

During the build-up to ‘jal pujan’ for the memorial, Sena did not hide its feeling that BJP has sought to “hijack” the event for claiming the legacy of the Maratha icon to secure political mileage.

“We only ask politicians not to use Chhatrapati to play low-grade politics. Those who claim rights on Chhatrapati will bite the dust in the end. They would do well to remember the history,” the editorial said on Tuesday.

“Ensure that the memorial does not get trapped in selfish politics, thereby forcing Shivaji Maharaj to use his sword against these self-centred politicians,” it said.

The ruling alliance partner, however, said it understood the importance of Modi in the BJP, and that his party is what it is today only due to the “Modi tonic”.

“While the Sainiks and Shivaji fans were chanting slogans hailing the Chhatrapati, BJP workers were shouting slogans in the name of Modi. Can anyone compare himself to Shivaji? Modi himself will not approve of this,” Sena said.

Notably, during the public meeting addressed by Modi here on Sunday, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s speech was interrupted for a while, apparently by BJP supporters present among the audience by chanting “Modi, Modi,”.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 14:30 IST

‘BJP forced Snapdeal to dump Aamir Khan’: Party IT chief allegedly ordered online abuse

The raging intolerance debate against actor Aamir Khan, which led to Snapdeal dropping him as a brand ambassador in February this year, was not just the e-commerce company’s first choice. According to journalist Swati Chaturvedi’s book I am a Troll, which is being published by Juggernaut, the BJP’s social media cell was implicitly told by the party’s information and technology cell head to exert pressure via social media on Snapdeal to drop Aamir as its brand ambassador.

Snapdeal had announced the termination of contract almost a month after Incredible India, the signature advertising campaign for the tourism ministry to promote India globally, dropped the actor as its brand ambassador. The decision, at that time, was attributed to Khan’s remark on “rising intolerance in India”, but the government had tried to distance itself from that controversy.

Actor Aamir Khan. AFP

Actor Aamir Khan. AFP

In her book, Chaturvedi spoke to Sadhvi Khosla, a former volunteer at the BJP social media cell. Khosla was part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s social media ‘dream’ team in the run up to the 2014 General Election. She quit the BJP social media cell as a volunteer at the end of 2015. Khosla, who runs a knowledge process outsourcing (KPO) company in Gurugram, was in the US in 2014 when she got the call from Modi’s social media team and told Chaturvedi that she was ecstatic at the offer and believed that Modi, “her idol, the man she wanted to see as the Prime Minister of India”, would bring in all the positive change and development that he promised.

In a couple of months, Khosla came to realise that everything was not as it seemed. Khosla told Chaturvedi that the BJP IT cell head Arvind Gupta, who ran the “biggest ever social media operation in the country”, told Khosla that the “goal was to attack and expose the UPA government and the Gandhi family. Volunteers were told to attack certain mainstream journalists — the book explicitly mentions the names of NDTV‘s Barkha Dutt and Rajdeep Sardesai (then of CNN-IBN) — and malign a few politicians on social media. The trolls were ordered to attack any unflattering mention of Modi,

Khosla admitted that she herself was forced to send messages trolling and abusing minorities, Gandhi family, liberals and journalists. She told the author that WhatsApp messages threatening rape against Barkha were sent out at the behest of Gupta, whose word was the last word as he was directly in touch with Modi. An IIT alumunus, Gupta joined BJP in 2010 and was part of the core team that was credited hugely for the massive mandate that Modi received in 2014.

“It was a never-ending drip feed of hate and bigotry against the minorities, the Gandhi family, journalists on the hit list, liberals, anyone perceived as anti-Modi,” she is quoted in the book as saying.

The “breaking point” for Khosla, however, was when the two reigning Khans of Bollywood were attacked. Last year in November, breaking his silence on the stormy intolerance debate, Aamir had expressed alarm and despondency over the rise in such cases. Speaking at the Ramnath Goenka Awards, Aamir had said:

“Kiran (Rao; filmmaker and Aamir’s wife) and I have lived all our lives in India. For the first time, she said, should we move out of India? That’s a disastrous and big statement for Kiran to make to me. She fears for her child. She fears about what the atmosphere around us will be. She feels scared to open the newspapers everyday. That does indicate that there is a sense of growing disquiet.”

Aamir was attacked in the worst possible manner after his comments and Khosla said Gupta messaged everyone from the party’s social media cell: “Sign the Petition to Snapdeal India. Appeal Snapdeal to drop Aamir Khan from their ads” (sic). It provided the link to sign an online petition. At the end of January 2016, Snapdeal did not renew Khan’s contract.

Khosla told Chaturvedi that this incident was the “last nail in the coffin” for her association with BJP. The decision to go after Aamir appears to have had the tacit approval of Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah. Khosla, in the book, has said that the operation to troll anyone who has unfavourable remarks for the prime minister, still continues.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Gupta rejected the claims made by Khosla and said that she was a supporter of the Opposition Congress party. Her claims are unsubstantiated, Gupta told the paper. He said the BJP had published social media guidelines on its website and never “encouraged trolling”. He said the social media cell of the BJP is being headed by another person since July 2015.

The author of I am a Troll, Chaturvedi herself has been the target of social media trolling. She filed a police complaint last year against an anonymous Twitter account that had deluged her with malicious posts.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 13:37 IST

Budget 2017: Brace for higher short-term capital gains tax, dividend income

The Union Budget 2017 is still over a month from now but the stock market is known to exhibit wild swings in the weeks before the D-day. While investors take a view about various sectors and what budget could mean for the industry, this time they need to be more worried about their own backyard if things are anything to go by.

According to a Business Standard report, the government is looking at the possibility of increasing the short-term capital gains tax or STCG on profits made on sale of shares in less than a year.

Currently, the short-term capital gains tax is fixed at 15 percent, but the BS report suggests that the rate could be increased to 20 percent during this year’s budget announcement.

ReutersReuters

Reuters

With regard to long-term capital gains tax on shares sold after 12 months which at present is nil, the government is mulling with the idea of increasing the period to 36 months i.e. an investor can enjoy tax exempiton, if shares are sold only after 3 years and not the current one year period, the BS report said.

Further, based on the tax slab, the government may even look at taxing the dividend income. Currently, companies pay dividend distribution tax, and individuals earning more than Rs 10 lakh as dividend income in an financial year are taxed at 10 percent. This tax rate may go up to 30 percent for individuals coming under high-tax bracket.

As it is, stock market players are already dealing with securities transaction tax (STT) and any move to increase tax rate on short-term capital gains could severely dent the sentiment, caution investors.

For several years, capital market industry experts are lobbying the government to completely abolish the securities transaction tax, but the government has not paid any heed to their demand. The government collects Rs 7,400 crore as STT every year.

Recent developments indicate that government could take stern measures in next year’s budget to increase tax rate on returns made by stock market investors.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday in a veiled threat indicated that the government may look at investors deriving huge income from stock market returns.

Calling for wider inclusion, Modi had said our markets must show that they were able to successfully raise capital for projects benefiting the vast majority of our population, particularly related to infrastructure.

“The true measure of success (of the stock markets) is in its impact in villages, not on Dalal Street or Lutyens Delhi. Sebi should work for closer link between spot markets like e-NAM and derivatives markets to benefit the farmers,” Modi urged.

A day after the PM’s statement Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley clarified on Sunday that there is no plan to impose long-term capital gains tax on securities investments, after a statement by prime minister raised such a suspicion.

“This interpretation is absolutely erroneous. The Prime Minister has made no such statement directly or indirectly. I was present at the function in which this speech was given. I wish to absolutely clarify that there is no occasion or opportunity to anybody to reach such a conclusion because this is not what the Prime Minister said nor is it the intention of the government as has been reported in some section of the media,” he said.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 13:14 IST

MoS Finance Arjun Meghwal responds to ex-TN chief secy Rao’s ‘political vendetta’ charges, says all are equal before law

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Responding to Tamil Nadu’s top bureaucrat P Rama Mohana Rao who was removed after tax raids at his home and office, Arjun Ram Meghwal, MoS Finance said on Tuesday that anyone who violates the law will be punished. “Everyone is equal before law, whosoever does wrong will be punished,” Meghwal said.Speaking on the topic on demonetization, he said that the government is keeping a close tab on the present situation post demonetization, adding the nation is backing Prime Minister Narendra Modi in this move to end corruption and black money menace. “Things will get better. After my field visit to smaller villages, I can say that things will very soon get better. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has understood the pulse of the public. The people want to end black money and corruption. They are in the support of the government,” he said.Meghwal claimed that despite facing hardships due to demonetization, the people are giving their full support to the government.
ALSO READ Removed after IT raids, Rama Mohana Rao says, I am Chief Secy of Tamil NaduOn the other hand, the Congress Party has called for an anti-demonetization meeting today. The meeting will be followed by a joint press conference to be addressed by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and other opposition leaders. Congress president Sonia Gandhi is also expected to join.The meeting is seen as an attempt on the part of the grand old party to paper over the cracks that developed when several opposition parties skipped the joint march to Rashtrapati Bhawan on December 16 over demonetization.Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is in New Delhi for the meeting. The DMK, RJD and others are also expected to participate. With input from agencies .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With inputs from PTI

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

PM Narendra Modi to unveil Char Dham development programme in Dehradun

Tue, 27 Dec 2016-09:27am , Dehradun , ANI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on Tuesday launch the 900-km-long Char Dham Highway Development Programme in Dehradun with an investment of Rs 12,000 crore.The road once constructed will ensure round-the-year, hassle free travel to these shrines and the famous Sikh shrine Hemkund Saheb also.The Prime Minister will also address a public rally at the city’s Parade Ground.Following the Prime Minister’s visit to the state, security arrangements have been beefed up.

Demonetisation: Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu says problems caused by note ban easing out

New Delhi: Problems caused by demonetisation are “easing out” and the move will eventually benefit the nation, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu said on Monday, days after he said the decision was not as per “our wish” and that he had to “break his head” to find solutions.

Naidu, who heads the 13-member committee formed by the Centre to look into note ban-related issues, also sought to allay apprehensions over cyber security, saying the country is “very strong” in the sphere and information technology.

“Nowadays, it is easing out. More and more cash is coming, Rs 500 currency note is in circulation. Naturally, it will ease out. The problems are there temporarily. Ultimately, it (demonetisation) is going to benefit the nation,” he told reporters here.

To a question whether the inconvenience caused by note ban will end by 30 December, Naidu said one has to consider “plus or minuses” and that the sacrifices are being made for long-term gains.

File photo of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu. AP

File photo of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu. AP

“It is going to provide future for people. Sometimes for long term gains, you have to sacrifice something, that is what is happening today. Yesterday, situation was different, today it is different, tomorrow it is going to be much more different,” he said.

On apprehensions about cyber security as the Centre pitches for turning the country into a less-cash economy, stressing more on digital transactions, Naidu said “all over the world” countries are following digital economy.

“We are very strong in cyber security and also in information technology. Our people are heading Google, Microsoft. That is the caliber India has,” he said.

The 13-member committee is expected to meet on 28 December again.

Speaking at a party workshop in Andhra Pradesh’s Vijayawada on 20 December, Naidu, who had initially supported demonetisation, said the 8 November move was not as per “our wish” and that a “lot of problems” still remain without any solution in sight.

“I am breaking my head daily but we are unable to find a solution to this problem,” he had said. A day later, Naidu had said his comments were “distorted” but acknowledged that currency problems continued.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 20:24 IST

Talk to real people about demonetization, you will get beaten up: Lalu to PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking a dig at Narendra Modi over his remark that people can punish him for demonetization after the 50-day window, Lalu Prasad on Monday asked the Prime Minister to choose a “chauraha” (roundabout) where people can punish him for triggering a chaotic situation in the country. “PM should chose his favourite ‘chauraha’ (roundabout) where people could punish him for leading the country to a chaotic condition in the name of demonetization to fight black money,” RJD President Lalu Prasad told reporters after flagging off Rath to drum up support for party dharna across Bihar on December 28.Prasad was reminding the PM of his utterances at Goa where he had asked people to give him 50 days for fight against black money through scrapping of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 currency notes. Launching a scathing attack at the PM, the RJD chief said “Madari ka khel bana diye hain kabhi notebandi to khabi cashless economy (he is re-enacting play of monkeys in the name of demonetization and than cashless economy)”.Prasad said the PM was under “illusion” that people are appreciating him by chanting “Modi, Modi”. It’s a few RSS men who occupy front seats in his rallies and shout Modi, Modi which he is reading as voice of masses”. “If election is held in the country today BJP would draw a nought,” the RJD chief said.Prasad said that the saffron party would bite dust in Uttar Pradesh poll. “BJP ka koi ata-pata nahin rahega Uttar Pradesh ke chunav mein (BJP will be no nowhere in UP polls),” he said.The RJD chief predicted victory for Samajwadi Party in UP and said like in Bihar he and other leaders from the state would campaign for Mulayam Singh Yadav party to ensure its victory in UP. Asked if family feud in SP would mar his chances in the election, Prasad who is related to Mulayam Singh Yadav’s family, dismissed it and said minor fight happens in every family.

DNA Evening Must Reads: Updates on National Herald case, ‘Dangal’ vs ‘Sultan’ at the box office, and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>National Herald case: Court dismisses Swamy’s petition seeking documents from CongressIn a relief for Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Vice President Rahul Gandhi, Delhi court on Monday dismissed BJP leader Subramanian Swamy’s plea seeking documents and ledger books from the Congress Party and the Associated Journals Limited (AJL). Read more hereDemonetization: Problems will not end after December 30, says Rahul GandhiQuestioning Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his assurances to the people, Rahul Gandhi today said the “economic lockdown” will continue to hurt the poor, farmers and workers the most. Read more hereIndia needs lower taxation levels to be competitive: FM Arun JaitleyFinance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday said India needs to move to a lower level of taxation to be globally competitive. Read more hereRussian military jet crash: Body of plane found in Black SeaRussian divers on Monday found the main body of the military plane that crashed in the Black Sea with 92 people onboard, an official told Russian news agencies. Read more hereSultan vs Dangal: Salman Khan or Aamir Khan – Who won the box office battle?Sultan and Dangal fight it out at the box office. Read more:

India-Pakistan ties: Modi’s birthday wishes to Sharif don’t signal policy change

Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote a post in his Twitter account on Sunday:

His birthday wishes to his Pakistani counterpart have rekindled hopes that the stalled negotiations between India and Pakistan are about to resume. At least this, a section in the Pakistani press believes.

In fact, Pakistan’s Express Tribune has quoted an Indian diplomat in today’s edition saying that the Indian premier might review his current strategy towards Pakistan and offer another ‘olive branch’, possibly after state elections in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, scheduled to be held in March. The Indian diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity to the Pakistani publication, said that although the current public sentiment was not in favour of talks with Pakistan unless the issue of alleged cross-border terrorism was addressed, Modi knew how to galvanise public opinion.

“Whenever he (Modi) makes any overture to Pakistan, rest assured it will not be half-hearted,” the diplomat is quoted to have said.

Incidentally, last Friday, India’s external affairs ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup had said that India was prepared for talks with Pakistan, provided the latter ensured a peaceful atmosphere. “We have never refused talks, but Pakistan has to ensure a peaceful atmosphere. Pakistan needs to stop supporting terrorism. Pakistan should create a healthy atmosphere for talks,” he had said. In other words, the spokesman had clearly pointed out preconditions that Pakistan must fulfill before the resumption of bilateral talks by the two countries’ diplomats.

Against this background, how does one view Modi offering an olive branch through his birthday wishes? First of all, was it an olive branch at all as the Pakistani press suggests? Any answer to this question should be viewed in a historical context.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif. AFP

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif. AFP

India and Pakistan have fought four times, threatened each other many a time and quarrel most of the time. In between, they have talked of peace, negotiated some confidence building measures (CBMs) such as Liaqat-Nehru Pact (1950), Indus Water Treaty (1960), Simla Agreement (1972), Lahore Declaration (1999), Lahore-Delhi Bus Service, the “cricket diplomacy,” the resumption of the dialogue (Composite Bilateral Dialogue) between Pakistan and India in 2004. But then some crisis or other – in the form of war or a war-like situation – emerges. As a result, all the CBMs become null and void, the notable exceptions being the Indus water sharing treaty, the annual exchanges of the lists each other’s nuclear installations and notifying each other in advance in respect of ballistic missile flight tests.

And when the environment becomes little more manageable, mostly due to pressure from the civil society in both the countries and international demands, their leaders once again renegotiate, mainly to restore some of the CBMs that existed earlier. But again a new crisis in their bilateral relations invariably emerges. So the cycle goes on.

The above pattern has been noticed under the Modi regime too. Case in point: Remember how Modi had invited Sharif for his swearing-in ceremony. It was under his regime that last year (6 December) Indian and Pakistani officials, led by their respective national security advisers (Ajit Doval of India and Lt Gen (Retd) Nasser Khan Janjua of Pakistan) met at the neutral venue of Bangkok “secretly” to facilitate the foreign minister Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Pakistan on 8 December (even though it was shown as attending the Heart of Asia Conference). The Bangkok parley, perhaps, was the first instance of Indian and Pakistan officials utilising a neutral venue.

Going by the joint press release of the Bangkok meeting, “Discussions covered peace and security, terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir, and other issues, including tranquility along the LoC.” In other words, the talks, which lasted about four hours dealt with all important issues pertaining to bilateral relations. And that explains why though led by the NSAs, the talks also included the two foreign secretaries – S Jaishankar and his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhary.

However, the biggest peace gesture on the part of Modi was his stop-over at Lahore and a visit to Pakistan Prime Minister’s House there on 25 December last year on his return journey to Delhi from Kabul. For this gesture, Modi was criticised vehemently by the opposition parties in the country. But all these “peace overtures” of the Modi regime did not lead to the intended results.

Maybe Nawaz Sharif was helpless in reciprocating Modi’s sentiments, given Pakistan’s peculiar decision-making structure in which, it is the Army, not the elected leadership, that dictates the country’s policy towards India. And the results were there to be seen – terrorist attacks in Pathankot, Uri, Nagrota; relentless ceasefire violations on the line of control by Pakistan; and the months-long civil uprisings in the Kashmir valley sponsored by the Pakistani establishment.

But then, all this has been only one part of the story.

The other part of the story has been that unlike his predecessors, Modi has brought about some significant changes in the nuances in his approach towards Pakistan in this atmosphere of “no-talks”.

Whereas all his predecessors, including his party’s Atal Bihari Vajpayee, had only stressed on “Pakistan’s international isolation” following every major terrorists attack on India, Modi has gone steps ahead and simultaneously pursued threats and retaliatory measures against Pakistan. He has talked openly about Pakistan’s vulnerabilities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan; exposed Pakistan’s misdeeds in Pak-occupied- Kashmir, including Gilgit-Baltistan; and suggested the possibility of relooking at Indus-Water sharing treaty, hitherto considered unimaginable. Above all, the Modi government took a strategic decision at the apex level to go across the “Line of Control” to strike at the multiple terrorist bases simultaneously(so-called surgical strikes), as distinct from the previous routine retaliatory raids on other sides , all tactical decisions taken at the local commanders’ levels.

In other words, Modi is pursuing, to borrow American scholar Sumit Ganguly’s phrase, a ‘strategy of deterrence by punishment’, which implies that “Any time Pakistan provokes, be prepared to exact a cost”. The idea here is that if Pakistan realises that its misadventure against India has a cost involved(which Modi’s predecessors were not firm enough to extract), then it may be deterred. Of course, Ganguly, who has authored the recently released book titled “Deadly Impasse: Indo-Pakistani Relations at the Dawn of a New Century”, cautions that there is always that uncertain threshold of nuclear blackmail by Pakistan in this approach, but then “the strategy of deterrence by punishment” is worth pursuing.

And finally, in my considered view the most important change that has marked India’s policy towards Pakistan under Modi is questioning the very formula that was evolved by the then I K Gujral regime – the formula of pursuing the so-called “composite dialogue” that is aimed at building confidence building measures (CBMs) and “simultaneously” solving the “core disputes”, which for Pakistan is the solution of the so-called Kashmir dispute and for India is ending cross-border terrorism.

This is a formula that has not been practiced by two contending powers anywhere in the diplomatic history of the world. The CBMs are first attained so as to make the atmosphere conducive for the solution of the dispute; they lead to the solution, not otherwise. If there is the solution of the dispute or there is no dispute, the CBMs are redundant. That is why India and China ( or any other rivals, say the USA and the then USSR during the Cold War) have always said that the eventual solution of the boundary dispute will follow improvement in bilateral relations pertaining to other areas. But in case of India-Pakistan impasse, one sees this ridiculous composite dialogue approach that talks of development of the CBMs and solution of the core disputes “simultaneously”.

Therefore, the Modi government is right when it demands that Pakistan must stop supporting terrorism before normalcy is restored in bilateral relations. The Kashmir issue should not cloud the resolution of other irritants and that the best way to resolve the Kashmir issue is creating a conducive environment, which, so goes its logic, is possible when these “other irritants” – cultural and economic interactions, combating terrorism and transparency in nuclear weapons related matters etc. – are resolved.

This being the reality, what about the question whether or not the Modi government going to resume talks with Pakistan? Talks or no talks, Islamabad cannot satisfy New Delhi’s concerns over terrorism – in fact, it will never say that “terrorists” in Kashmir are not “freedom fighters”. On India’s part, it cannot satisfy Pakistan’s expectations in Kashmir – No government in Delhi will ever have courage to say that Kashmir is not the “inseparable “ part of India. In other words, there is that problem of “trust deficit” between the two countries. And as long as this deficit is there, the two countries will continue to engage in diplomatic shadowboxing, the intensity of which may vary from time to time.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 18:39 IST

Watch: Father Tom, Indian priest abducted from Yemen, appeals to Pope, Centre to secure his release

Kochi: An Indian Catholic priest abducted from Yemen this year appealed to Pope Francis and the Union government through a purported video to secure his release from his captors.

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

“Dear Pope Francis, dear Holy Father, as a father please take care of my life. I am very much depressed. My health is deteriorating,” he said in the video, a day after Christmas. Father Uzhunnalil, who looked very weak, appeared to be reading out from a text placed before him.

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

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

He claimed his captors have made many contacts with the Government of India — President and Prime Minister.

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

He said reports had said everything has been done to get his release, “but in reality nothing” has been done. Father Uzhunnalil said a news reporter abducted in the Middle East was released as she was from France.

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

The Union Government has said efforts are being made to secure Uzhunnalil’s release, but such attempts take time. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had informed Parliament that Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself has spoken to various countries through which contacts can be established in Yemen.

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

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 18:31 IST

Uttar Pradesh assembly polls: Glow missing from face of PM Modi, Amit Shah as BSP will win, says Mayawati

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Stung by BJP’s claim that the note ban has hit her hard, BSP supremo Mayawati on Monday said it is the BJP leaders who have lost the glow on their faces as they know that they will have to pay the price in upcoming UP Assembly polls for the hardships being faced by the people.”Do I look to have lost glow on my face… It is BJP leaders Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and their central ministers who have lost glow on their faces,” Mayawati told newspersons here.Calling demonetization a “foolish” decision, she said, “People all over the country are running from pillar to post and facing immense hardships because of this immature and hurried step.””Have you not seen the faces of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah wherever they go…neither mine nor the face of any BSP worker has lost any glow as we know BSP is coming to power in UP,” she said.Mayawati was asked about BJP chief’s recent remark that she has lost glow on her face and looked ten years older after demonetization.Shah had said in Shahjahanpur that both Mayawati and Mamata Banerji have started looking 10 years older in a day because of demonetization.”I have been through the rough and tumble of politics, have you ever seen me losing my glow.”I am very happy they have taken this foolish decision of note ban…our party is not in favour of corrupion or black money and this decision is not to check corruption or black money but to divert attention from their unfulfilled promises taken in a hurry,” she said.”This decision is going to cost the BJP dear and so I have to say that glow is missing on the faces of BJP and company …in our party even the smallest worker’s face is glowing as they know that we are coming to power,” she said.To another question, she said it is to be seen at which position BJP stands in the coming polls.

India-Pakistan ties on a downward path one year after Narendra Modi’s surprise visit to Lahore

On Christmas 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave one of the biggest surprises in India’s diplomatic history, when he chose to have a stopover at Lahore to personally wish his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif on his 66th birthday and also attend his granddaughter’s wedding at his palatial house at Raiwind. Exactly a year later, all that Modi did to wish Sharif was a tweet:

The tweet may be an indicator of the deterioration in the bilateral ties between the two countries. Soon after the surprise visit last Christmas, the Pathankot Air Force station was attacked on 2 January. In a gunbattle with security forces, four militants, who allegedly entered the area in army fatigues, were gunned down. The Indian Air Force lost three of its personnel. United Jihad Council claimed responsibility for the attack.

India later nailed ISI’s hand in the attack, while Pakistan denied the accusations. However, after initially promising to allow a National Investigation Agency team to visit Pakistan to probe the attack, Islamabad backtracked. This was after an ISI probe team visited Pathankot, which was criticised by the Opposition.

While Pathankot probe was underway, Kulbhushan Yadav, an alleged Indian Navy officer, was arrested by Pakistani authorities on charges of spying. With this Balochistan came into the picture in the India-Pakistan bilateral ties. While India claimed he was a businessman, Pakistan alleged he was spying on the behalf of RAW in Balochistan and Karachi.

The decline in the bilateral ties hastened after Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter in Kashmir. His killing led to widespread unrest across the valley, with the security forces imposing curfew which remained enforced till October. It gave Pakistan a chance to raise the issue of India’s alleged human rights violations in the state.

On 10 August, Sharif held a cabinet meeting to discuss the Kashmir unrest, with the cabinet deciding to internationalise the issue. The meeting observed that “Kashmir remains an unfinished agenda of the United Nations and accordingly India must realise that Kashmir is not its internal matter, rather it is a matter of regional and international concern”.

PM Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Lahore on 25 December 2015. PTI

PM Narendra Modi and Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif in Lahore on 25 December 2015. PTI

With the unrest in Kashmir, Modi invoked the alleged human rights violations in Balochistan and Gilgit Baltistan during his Independence Day address to the nation. The reference made Pakistan to claim that this proved its contention that India has been allegedly “fomenting terrorism” in the province.

Sharif chose to hit back at India during his address to the United Nations General Assembly.

Sharif said, “Peace and normalisation between Pakistan and India cannot be achieved without a resolution of the Kashmir dispute. This is an objective evaluation, not a partisan position.”
“Our predictions have now been confirmed by events. A new generation of Kashmiris has risen spontaneously against India’s illegal occupation — demanding freedom from occupation. Burhan Wani, the young leader murdered by Indian forces, has emerged as the symbol of the latest Kashmiri Intifada, a popular and peaceful freedom movement, led by Kashmiris, young and old, men and women, armed only with an undying faith in the legitimacy of their cause, and a hunger for freedom in their hearts.”

Rebutting Sharif, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told the gathering at the UNGA that Pakistan had been ignoring the human rights violation in Balochistan. “In the last two years, in exchange of our friendship, we got Pathankot, Uri, Bahadur Ali. Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and it will remain so, she added.

India strongly condemned the reference to the slain militant and criticised Islamabad silence over the recent Uri attack. Speaking at the UN, India’s First Secretary Eenam Gambhir, called Pakistan a host to the “Ivy League of terrorism” and urged the world community to declare Pakistan a “terrorist state”.

Uri attack, which India referred to after Sharif’s speech at the UN, took place on 18 September. Heavily armed militants stormed a battalion headquarters of the Army in North Kashmir’s Uri town in the wee hours, killing 17 jawans and injuring 19 other personnel. Four militants were also neutralised. Fingers were pointed once again at Pakistan.

With the clamour for avenging Uri, India conducted “surgical strikes” over terror launchpads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The strikes — refuted by Pakistan, which even sent journalists to the area where the attack allegedly took place — escalated tensions on the border, with Pakistan even capturing an Indian soldier.

Three months after the attack by India’s special commandos, cross-border firing between the two countries is still going on.

Meanwhile, India decided to turn on the heat on the diplomatic front. Modi called Pakistan the “mothership’ of terrorism” during his address at the Brics Summit at Goa in October.

In the Goa Declaration, the five member countries of Brics asked all countries to prevent terrorist actions from their soil. It called for expeditious adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) by the UN to tackle the problem and step up practical cooperation against terrorism.

The member countries also condemned the recent attacks against some Brics countries, including that in India. “We agreed to strengthen cooperation in combating international terrorism both at the bilateral level and at international fora,” the Goa Declaration issued at the end of the summit said.

India also pulled out of the Saarc Summit, which was scheduled to be held in Islamabad. The refusal to participate, along with several other member-states, citing Pakistan’s sponsorship of terrorism, led to it being delayed indefinitely.

The Modi government took another step to rein in Pakistan, threatening to abrogate the World Bank- assisted Indus Waters Treaty. Modi is reported to have told a meeting convened on this issue, “Blood and water can’t flow together”. Pakistan reacted to this news sharply.

“India set to wage war against Pakistan,” screamed a headline of a Pakistani newspaper, The Nation

Shireen Mazari, former journalist and leader of Pakistan-Tehreek-e-Insaf party, went to the extent of saying that India’s “suspension of the treaty” was the first step towards declaring (a real) war against Pakistan. Speaking in Pakistan’s National Assembly on Monday, she demanded an immediate response to India from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The Indus Waters Treaty has now become a major bone of contention between the two countries now, with the World Bank urging both countries to sort out their issues through alternative means.

Clearly, it seems relations between the two nations have gone downhill in the last one year. With a new army chief in Rawalpindi and India acting tough on terrorism post the surgical strikes, relations might remain tense in 2017.

With inputs from agencies

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 13:48 IST

People will teach BJP a lesson in UP polls: Raj Babbar on note ban

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Raj Babbar alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the demonetization decision to “benefit a few of his friends”, causing distress to people who will teach BJP a lesson in the upcoming Assembly polls.Addressing a rally at Purkazi town in the district last evening, he said the entire nation is in distress because of the note ban and every section of the society is facing the brunt of it.”Prime Minister is changing rules on demonetization as if he is changing clothes. A man wearing suit worth Rs 10 lakh cannot call himself a fakir,” Babbar said.State congress vice president Imran Masood also hit out at Modi during the rally, saying, “Narendra Modi has failed to fulfill his promises and caused problems to people after demonetization”.

Fake news in review: Here are the top 10 forwards Indians (almost) believed in 2016

By Alison Saldanha

From currency to salt–very little escaped the reach of fake or fabricated news in 2016. Rumours spread from WhatsApp and other social media into the mainstream media. Institutions such as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco), and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had to step in and tell us what was true. Even Facebook and Google, two of the world’s biggest Internet companies, sat up and took notice.

Such news can have widespread reach: India is one of the biggest markets for several social media and communication companies–it has 160 million of WhatsApp’s one billion-plus monthly active users, 148 million Facebook users, and over 22 million Twitter accounts.

The potency of fabricated news came into focus after the 2016 US presidential elections. In the run-up to the ballot, fake news on the elections drew more engagement on Facebook than top-performing stories from major news outlets such as The New York Times, CNN, NBC News, or The Wall Street Journal, this BuzzFeed News analysis found. Other countries witnessed the rise of fake news too, according to this Guardian report, rendering it a global phenomenon in 2016.

Here are some of the most popular Indian fake news stories of 2016:

Unesco declares PM Modi best Prime Minister

Unesco has been one of the primary alleged sources of fake news in India. In June 2016, fake news broke out on WhatsApp groups, and other social media, that the UN cultural agency had awarded Prime Minister Narendra Modi the title of best prime minister in the world.

That rumour is still circulating on social media:

World billiards champion Pankaj Advani shared the news on Twitter congratulating PM Modi.

After media organisations pointed out the news was a hoax, Twitterati trolled Advani leading him to post this rebuttal:

Unesco declares Jana Gana Mana best national anthem

Another favourite Indian rumour involving Unesco is the claim that India’s national anthem–Jana Gana Mana–has been declared the “Best National Anthem In The World”. The fake news started in 2008 through email and then caught the UN agency’s attention. “We are aware of several blogs in India reporting this story, but can assure you that Unesco has made no such announcement concerning the anthem of India or any country,” a Unesco official told India Today in 2008.

Circulation of the rumour peaked around India’s Independence Day in 2016:

Unesco declares new Rs 2,000 note best currency in the world

Another fake Unesco certificate for India touched upon the notebandi crisis, as messages claimed the organisation had certified the new Rs 2,000 note as the “best currency in the world”. The message, shared widely on WhatsApp, claimed “Dr. Saurabh Mukherjee, head of cultural awareness department of Unesco announced this to media.”

The rumours caught the eye of the BBC, which reported that “thousands” of Indian WhatsApp users had “forwarded the message along with joyful emojis”.

New notes have a GPS chip to detect black money

Another notebandi rumour proliferated when PM Modi announced the withdrawal of old Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes on 8 November, 2016. In less than an hour, rumours circulating on WhatsApp of a nano geo-positioning system (GPS) tracking device embedded in the new Rs 2,000 notes gained traction. This chip, the messages said, would alert authorities if black money was hoarded .

The nano-GPS chip does not need any power source, the forward said, according to this Firstpost report. “It only acts as a signal reflector. When a Satellite sends a signal requesting location the NGC reflects back the signal from the location, giving precise location coordinates, and the serial number of the currency back to the satellite, this way every chip-embedded currency can be easily tracked & located even if it is kept 120 meters below ground level. The NGC can’t be tampered with or removed without damaging the currency note.” Mobile currency-scanner apps emerged claiming the app can scan new notes and have these authenticated by RBI, according to this Firstpost report.

The RBI has clarified the new notes contain security features such as latent images, coloured strip security threads, watermarks etc, but they do not have a chip installed, according to this The Hindu report.

Still, rumours are rampant. Recent news of authorities tracing hoards of illegally-held new notes seems to have further fanned rumours, and more YouTube videos explaining the placement of chips in the new notes are circulating on social media.

New notes have radioactive ink

Notebandi provided more fodder for fake news. Earlier this month, rumours began circulating that the RBI was using radioactive ink to print new Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 notes. The new notes include a “radioactive isotope of phosphorous (P32), which has 15 protons and 17 neutrons”. The fake news claimed the income-tax department was using the isotope to trace large quantities of cash held at a particular spot. The trace amounts of radioactive isotope employed in this exercise were not harmful to humans, according to WhatsApp messages, as FirstPost reported.

Even some banks fell prey to notebandi-related rumours, and were called out on Twitter.

WhatsApp profile pictures can be used by IS for terror activities

A WhatsApp forward, supposedly sent by the Delhi police commissioner, requested “moms” and “sisters” to delete their WhatsApp profile pictures for security purposes. These pictures were supposedly vulnerable to misuse by the terror group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (IS), whose hackers had access to citizens’ details and could easily steal their virtual identity, according to the forwarded message. The message further claimed that WhatsApp’s CEO had requested users do this for 20-25 days, while their team worked on enhancing the messaging application’s security features.

The message was signed off by an AK Mittal, who claimed to be Delhi’s police commissioner, but the phone number mentioned in the message had since been marked as “blacklisted” in Truecaller, which a caller identification application, according to this Indian Express report.

A Reddit thread discussing the WhatsApp message is here.

 RBI declares the Rs 10 coin invalid

Months before notebandi was announced, the message that the RBI had declared the Rs 10 coin invalid spread through WhatsApp, particularly to areas in Agra, Delhi and Meerut.

This confusion led shopkeepers, kiosk-owners, auto-rickshaw drivers and vendors to refuse the coins, according to this Hindustan Times report from September 2016.

In June 2016, the RBI had issued a new Rs 10 coin. At that time, rumours had spread that the old coins would now no longer be valid. WhatsApp messages made other claims too–two kinds of counterfeit coins have flooded the market, and that the RBI was phasing the coins out because of widespread circulation of fake currency–according to this Business Standard report. The RBI stepped in and clarified that the coins were indeed legal tender and those refusing to accept the currency could face legal action.

After the withdrawal of Rs 14 lakh crore–the value of bank notes withdrawn on November 8, 2016–the rumour resurfaced in Odisha, spreading panic and adding to the currency chaos as vendors refused to accept the coins, according to this NDTV report from November 2016.

Jayalalithaa’s ‘secret daughter’ and heir lives in the US

Soon after the death of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, fake news and photos of a secret daughter went viral on WhatsApp and social media. The message alleged that the woman in the photograph was Jayalalithaa’s daughter, who lived somewhere in the US in anonymity.

As it turns out, the woman in the photograph was not connected to Jayalalithaa and lived in Australia, according to popular singer and TV show host Chinmayi Sripada, who took to Facebook to dispel the rumours.

“She belongs to the family of renowned Mridangam Vidwan V Balaji,” wrote Sripada. Musician Trivandrum V Balaji also clarified that the woman in the photo was his sister-in-law.

Salt shortage in India

WhatsApp messages of a salt shortage (despite a 7,517 km coastline) in November 2016 triggered panic buying at markets past midnight, and caused a four-fold price-rise in some parts of the country. Western Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Maharashtra and Hyderabad were particularly affected by this bit of fake news, said news reports. The subsequent chaos to stock up on the essential commodity led to the death of a woman in Kanpur, while police baton-charged crowds and stopped mobs from looting grocery shops, according to this India Today report.

The government issued a clarification denying any shortage of the commodity. “We monitor the prices of 22 essential commodities on daily basis. As per the prices reported by centres from across the country, there has been no increase in price of salt whatsoever,” the department of consumer affairs said in a statement, as quoted in this The Times of India report.

Speaking at an event in Goa, PM Modi claimed the fake news was being circulated by “vested interests hurt by demonetization”, according to this IANS report. The prime minister’s claim is unverified.

“Nehru Govt has stood like a Banyan Tree”: Mark Tully

Fake news claiming former BBC India bureau chief Mark Tully called for support to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, while describing India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s government as standing “like a banyan tree, overshadowing the people and the institutions of India”, went viral on social media earlier this month. “Nothing grows under the banyan tree,” the message added.

The fake Facebook post reads: “For a year or so we may witness more of Dadris, more of Kaniyahas, more of Owaisi style shouting but finally if the *Society keeps its cool, acts maturely* and continues to perform we will sail through and the old forces will die a natural death.” The post claimed Tully made these statements while discussing “changes happening in MODI’S regime” in his new book, No Full Stops in India.

Tully rebutted the claims of the post in this Hindustan Times column, though the post still appears to be in circulation. Not everyone believed the statements were authentic but some did ask for confirmation, he wrote: “But some did think they were authentic, a few even congratulated me. The fact that people could believe such obvious fakes were genuine indicates the power of fake news…If the reports had been more credible, less absurd, my credibility would have been severely damaged.”

Indiaspend.com is a data-driven, public-interest journalism non-profit

IndiaSpend-Logo114IndiaSpend-Logo114

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 09:28 IST

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

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

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

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

DNA Evening Must Reads: PM Modi to go after benami properties, Russian military jet crash; and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. War on black money: After demonetization, PM Modi promises to go after ‘benami properties’Vowing to carry forward the war against corruption and black money post-demonetization, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the government will soon operationalise a strong law to effectively deal with ‘benami’ properties and this was just the beginning. Read more about Mann ki baat here.2. ISIS suspect Musa planned to attack Mother House in Kolkata to target US nationals: NIA chargesheetISIS suspect Mohammad Masiuddin alias Musa had planned to attack Mother House in Kolkata to target US nationals according to the chargesheet filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Friday at NIA special court. Read more here.3. Russian military jet crash: All 92 passengers onboard killed, Putin declares national mourningA Russian military plane carrying 92 people, including dozens of Red Army Choir singers, dancers and orchestra members, crashed into the Black Sea on its way to Syria on Sunday, killing everyone on board, Russian authorities said. Read more here.4. Cashless means less cash, Opposition ‘slow in understanding’: Jaitley at Digi-Dhan MelaAs the government kick-started the Lucky Grahak Yojana and Digi-Dhan Vyapar Yojana for consumers and merchants to push the digital drive, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that it is in the interest of every country that it becomes a less-cash economy. Read more about his speech here.5. Restrictions on cash withdrawals may continue beyond December 30Restrictions on withdrawal of cash from banks and ATMs are likely to continue beyond December 30 as currency printing presses and RBI have not been able to keep pace with the demand of new currency notes. Read more here.

Watch: PM Modi’s flashback video captures Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s warmth and simplicity

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi wished veteran BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his 91st birthday, praising his exemplary service and leadership. “Wishing our most beloved & widely respected Atal ji a happy birthday. I pray that he is blessed with good health and a long life,” he said in a series of tweets. “Atalji’s exemplary service & leadership has had a very positive impact on India’s growth trajectory. His great personality is endearing.Modi also tweeted an old video of him meeting former Prime Minister Vajpayee when the former was a ‘karyakarta’ of BJP. “See what Atal ji does when he meets a party Karyakarta. This simplicity and warmth of Atal ji we all cherish,” he captioned the video. The Prime Minister also wished freedom fighter and educationist Madan Mohan Malaviya on his birth anniversary. “I bow to Mahamana Pt. Madan Mohan Malaviya on his Jayanti. He has left an indelible contribution in the history of India,” he said.

PM Modi’s Mann ki Baat: Law against ‘benami’ properties to be operationalised soon

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

Making his last monthly address this year in his “Mann ki Baat” programme, he defended the frequent changes in the rules of demonetisation, saying these have been done to reduce the people’s problems and defeat such forces who are out to thwart his government’s fight against black money and corruption.

Modi sought the cooperation of public in making the “war on corruption” a success and said the wrongdoings of some are being caught only with the support of common people who are coming forward with concrete information about hoarders.

“I assure you that this is not the end. This is just the beginning in our fight against corruption. We have to win this war against corruption and black money. There is no question of stopping or going back in this fight,” he said.

The Prime Minister also lamented the logjam in Parliament that evoked displeasure from the President and the Vice President besides all-round public indignation and ire, saying he wanted a good discussion on this campaign as well as on political funding, had both Houses run properly.

He said some people who are spreading rumours that political parties enjoy all concessions and exemptions “are wrong and all are equal before law” and they have to abide by it.

“It was my earnest wish that the ongoing campaign against corruption and black money, including the realm of political parties and political funding, be discussed extensively in the Parliament. Had the House functioned properly, there would have been comprehensive deliberation.

PM Modi. APPM Modi. AP

PM Modi. AP

“Some people are spreading rumours that political parties enjoy all kinds of concessions. These people are absolutely in the wrong. The law applies equally to all. Whether it is an individual, an organisation or a political party, everyone has to abide by law and one will have to,” he said, adding that people who cannot endorse corruption and black money openly resort to searching for faults of the government relentlessly.

Giving a push to his plea for cashless economy, Modi also launched two new schemes for traders and customers that will dole out 15,000 prizes every day to those making digital transactions.

Defending the frequent changes being made in rules after demonetisation, Modi said “the government, being a sensitive government, amends rules as required, keeping the convenience of the people as its foremost consideration, so that citizens are not subjected to hardships.”

Terming this war against corruption as “an extraordinary one”, he said the forces involved in “this murky enterprise of perfidy and corruption” have to be defeated as they are devising new tactics to thwart government’s efforts every day.

“To counter these new offensives, we too have to devise appropriate new responses and anti-dotes. When the opponents keep on trying out new tactics, we have to counteract decisively since we have resolved to eradicate the corrupt, shady businesses and black money,” he said.

Lauding the public for their support in exposing the wrong-doings of some, who are devising “newer wily ways and means” to counter the fight against corruption, the Prime Minister sought more public support.

“Everyday many new people are being taken into custody, currency notes are being seized, raids are being carried out. Influential persons are being caught. The secret is that my sources of such information are people themselves.

“Information being received from common citizens is many times higher than that being obtained through government machinery,” he said, adding that people were taking risks to expose such elements. He asked them to share such information on e-mail address of the government as also on the MyGov App.

Modi also talked about the Benami Property law that came into being in 1988, but neither its rules were framed, nor was it notified and laid dormant for years.

“We have retrieved it and turned it into an incisive law against ‘Benami Property’. In the coming days, this law will also become operational. For the benefit of the nation, for the benefit of the people, whatever needs to be done will be accorded our top priority,” he said.

The Prime Minister, however, lauded both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha for passage of the Disabilities Bill to secure the rights of disabled and also their honour and dignity. The new law, he said, is in consonance with the spirit expressed by the United Nations.

He also wished the people on Christmas and remembered former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on his birthday while wishing him good health and long life.

Modi also congratulated the Indian Cricket team for its emphatic 4-0 victory over England, as also the performances of some young players like Karun Nair who scored a triple century, K L Rahul for scoring a brilliant 199, besides the leadership provided by Captain Virat Kohli and off-spin bowler R Ashwin. He also complimented the Junior Hockey Team for lifting the World Cup and the Indian Women’s Hockey Team that won the Asian Champions Trophy.

First Published On : Dec 25, 2016 13:41 IST

PM Narendra Modi greets Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif on 66th birthday

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday greeted his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on his 66th birthday.

Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif. PTINarendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif. PTI

Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif. PTI

“Birthday wishes to Pakistan PM Mr. Nawaz Sharif. I pray for his long and healthy life,” Modi tweets.

The Prime Minister wished Sharid, right after greeting the nation on the ocassion of Christmas.

“Merry Christmas! We remember and celebrate the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. His message of peace, unity and compassion inspires us all,” the Prime Minsiter said in his Christmas tweet.

Modi then wished Atal Bihari Vajpayee on the occasion of his 91st birthday in a series of tweets along with a video of the two leaders together.

“Wishing our most beloved and widely respected Atal ji a happy birthday. I pray that he is blessed with good health and a long life,” he tweeted.

“Atal ji’s exemplary service and leadership has had a very positive impact on India’s growth trajectory. His great personality is endearing,” Modi added.

First Published On : Dec 25, 2016 12:01 IST

PM Modi wishes Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his 92nd birthday

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday extended his warm wishes to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his 92nd birthday.”Wishing our most beloved & widely respected Atal ji a happy birthday. I pray that he is blessed with good health and a long life,” Prime Minister Modi said on Twitter.In a series of tweets, the Prime Minister also praised the senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader for his service and leadership.”Atal ji’s exemplary service & leadership has had a very positive impact on India’s growth trajectory. His great personality is endearing.”Prime Minister Modi also tweeted out an old video of him meeting Vajpayee when the former was a ‘karyakarta’ of the BJP.”See what Atal ji does when he meets a party Karyakarta. This simplicity and warmth of Atal ji we all cherish,” Prime Minister Modi said along with the video.Vajpayee, the only non-Congress leader who served the nation as the prime minister and completed his full term, was born on December 25, 1924. He was among the founder members of the BJP.After former prime minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Vajpayee is the only prime minister to get three successive mandates.He was felicitated with country’s highest civilian honour, Bharat Ratna, on March 27, 2015. His birthday is also celebrated as Good Governance Day.

UP elections 2017: ‘Congress to fight polls alone, no alliance talks with any party,’ says Azad

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said on Saturday that the party is ready to contest the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, due next year, on its own for now. “Congress is prepared to fight the Uttar Pradesh polls alone for now and there is no talk of an alliance with any party,” Azad said while addressing Congress workers in Meerut before leaving for Bijnore. He urged the party workers to get into battle mode for the upcoming polls.Hitting out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Azad said the demonetization decision will ruin the country and its people and claimed that every person is troubled by it. “The Centre took the decision without any preparation and this will affect their performance in the UP polls. People who faced problems after demonetization will take revenge from BJP by not voting for them,” Azad said. “Neither does the Prime Minister speaks in the Parliament, nor does he talk to the poor or the media,” he said. “Prime Minister is not at all concerned about the problems of common man and he only cares for a handful of country’s people. Rahul Gandhi is continuously raising the farmers’ issues and demonetization among the people. Congress is highlighting these issues,” he added.Azad was accompanied by party leaders Meem Afzal and PL Punia. Afzal said the public will not be influenced by any gimmicks of BJP and will teach it a lesson in the coming elections.

Parrikar floats demonetization theory behind possible alliance among Cong, SP and RLD

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Amid talks of the grand alliance for upcoming Uttar Pradesh polls, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Saturday had a dig at the Congress, Samajwadi Party and Rashtriya Lok Dal, saying demonetization by Narendra Modi has left them in no condition to contest on their own strength.”Demonetization has caused such a powerful impact that none of these parties could be able to contest the UP Assembly polls independently,” Parrikar told reporters in response to a query over the talks about formation of ‘Mahagatbandhan’ with SP, Congress and RLD as its constituents. The minister was here to attend the 62nd national convention of Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) here.Parrikar said demonetization of high value currency notes has curbed “several illegal activities” in the country.”People may be facing some problems due to demonetization, but the common man is ready to face such problems, given the good impact of this move in the long run,” the BJP leader said. Parrikar evaded direct reply on the controversial AgustaWestland Helicopter deal, saying the matter is being investigated by CBI which doesn’t work under his ministry. “We have provided all information to CBI in this matter. I could not make any comment on this issue,” Parrikar said.On escalation of tension on Indo-Pak border, Parrikar said peace is prevailing at the border to an extent as of now.

Modi warns “dishonest” of ruin, says market participants should pay more taxes

Mumbai: Warning of “ruin” for the “dishonest” after 30 December, Prime Minister Narendra Modi
on Saturday said his government will not shy away from taking difficult decisions in the interest of the country and favoured more taxes from capital markets.

Addressing public events, he also asked the dishonest not to underestimate the mood of the country against corruption.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi  addressing at the inauguration of new campus of National Institute of Securities Markets (NISM), at Patalganga, in Mumbai on 24 December 2016. Image courtesy PIBPrime Minister Narendra Modi  addressing at the inauguration of new campus of National Institute of Securities Markets (NISM), at Patalganga, in Mumbai on 24 December 2016. Image courtesy PIB

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing at the inauguration of new campus of National Institute of Securities Markets (NISM), at Patalganga, in Mumbai on 24 December 2016. Image courtesy PIB

“Dishonest people, you should not underestimate the mood of 125 crore people. You will have to be afraid of it… Time has come for ruin of dishonest people. This is a cleanliness campaign,” Modi said just with a week to go for the expiry of the December 30 deadline when the scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes can be deposited in banks.

“After 50 days (from 8 November), the troubles of honest people will start to reduce and the problems of dishonest people will begin to increase,” Modi said at MMRDA ground in the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) in Mumbai after laying the foundation of various big-ticket infrastructure projects.

Earlier in the day at a Sebi function, Modi promised more “sound and prudent economic policies” which would be “not for short-term political point-scoring” but for “larger national interests.

“Let me make one thing very clear: This government will continue to follow sound and prudent economic policies,
to ensure that we have a bright future in the long-run. We’ll not take decisions for short-term political point-scoring. We’ll not shy away from taking difficult decisions if those decisions are in the interest of the country,” Modi said.

He favoured increasing the tax contribution from various market participants in a “fair, efficient and transparent way”.

Asking the regulators and taxmen to think about the contribution of market participants to the exchequer, Modi
said, “The low contribution of taxes may be due to the structure of our tax laws. Low or zero tax rate is given to certain types of financial income.”

The Prime Minister’s remarks assume much significance ahead of the Budget to be presented on 1 February.

“We took a big decision against black money and corruption on 8 November and 125 crore Indians endured pain
but did not stop supporting me. I want to assure people of the country that this battle won’t end till we win it,” he said.

Hitting out at parties opposing demonetisation, he said, “This is not a simple battle. Those who have consumed
malai (cream) did not leave any stone unturned to foil this (demonetisation).”

Modi said, “The corrupt have made all efforts to defeat the decision (demonetisation). They even thought of managing bank officials to get their black money converted into white. And that’s how many of them got caught.”

“I said there will be pain for 50 days (after demonetisation announcement),” he said, adding people are ready to bear the pain in the country’s interest.

The Prime Minister inaugurated a new campus of capital markets regulator Sebi’s National Institute of Securities
Markets (NISM) at Patalganga on the outskirts of Mumbai at an event also attended by functionaries of the Maharashtra government led by the governor and the chief minister, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Sebi chairman UK Sinha.

Describing the 8 November announcement of cancelling as much as 86 percent or Rs 20.51 trillion worth of currency in circulation as a “difficult decision”, he said, “Demonetisation has (brought about) short-term pains, but it
will bring in long-term gains.”

On the need to increase levies on the capital markets in the light of amendments to the many of the bilateral
investment and taxation treaties, Modi said, “Those who profit from financial markets must make a fair contribution to nation-building through taxes…. We should consider methods for increasing it in a fair, efficient and transparent way.

“… Now it is time to re-think and come up with a good design which is simple and transparent, but also fair and
progressive,” Modi said, adding for various reasons, contribution of tax from those who make money on the markets
has been low due to illegal activities and frauds or due to the structure of our tax laws which offers low or zero tax rate is given to certain types of financial income.

The Prime Minister said his government has brought back the economy to good health from the brink when it was saddled with high fiscal and current account deficits and high inflation and falling rupee, since he took over in May 2014.

He further said that when the global economy is fighting lingering slowdown, “India is being seen as a bright spot.

“Our growth is projected to remain among the highest in the world.”

First Published On : Dec 24, 2016 20:54 IST

Cashless economy is ‘bigger dream’ than achche din: Akhilesh Yadav

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking a dig at Narendra Modi’s demonetization move, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav termed cashless economy as a “bigger dream” than ‘achche din’ and said the note ban will be an issue in the upcoming Assembly elections in the state.”The dream of cashless economy is a bigger one than achche din… it is however for the government to see how it will be realised,” he said at a function to distribute cheques to the families of martyrs and 14 persons who allegedly lost their lives while standing in queues outside ATMs/banks after demonetization. Attacking the BJP government on note ban, Yadav, without taking names, alleged that people have been betrayed and economy harmed.”Earlier (when the note ban was announced) people had faith, or rather confusion, that a big change will be brought… but soon after the very same people started saying that there could not have been a bigger loss to the economy… national and international economists are also writing about it. “It is for the government to see how it will work out the losses to the GDP but it is a fact the people had to face hardships and I have said earlier too that the government which pose problems are voted out by people,” he said, adding that in the coming elections those who had faced problems will stand against them.Uttar Pradesh is the first state in the country to announce compensation for the families of those who allegedly died while queuing up outside banks and ATMs for long post demonetization.Chief Minister had earlier this month announced Rs 2 lakh compensation for the families of ‘demonetization victims’. Giving examples of major risk in online transactions, Yadav said one of the accused arrested for fraudulently withdrawing money from someone’s account said that he was caught because he was a “novice”.”Anyone who becomes an expert in cyber crime will never be arrested,” the Chief Minister said after presenting cheques of Rs two lakh each to the families of 14 people who allegedly died while standing in bank queues.To a question on what will be the election issue, Yadav said “Development, road, water all will be elections issues… why would note ban not be an election issue”.Taking a dig at the BJP, Yadav said he has come to know that the ‘parivartan rath yatra’ was attacked by those standing in bank queue in Deoria recently… They need to remain alert while taking out the rath yatra and avoid banks on the route.” When asked about alliance, Yadav said party president Mulayam Singh Yadav will decide on alliance. “I have already said that SP is going to form a government and if we go into the polls in an alliance we will win more than 300 seats,” he said.Claiming that the next SP government will take forward the works undertaken by the present regime, Yadav said the state needs to be taken on a new direction towards development and prosperity. Over Centre’s schemes, Yadav said UP government was extending full support to central schemes saying that AIIMS was coming up in Rae Bareli and Gorakhpur only because the state provided land for it.”But if there is any scheme which farmers do not like or feel that they will not benefit from it what can UP government do.. it is for them to explain the benefits of their scheme to farmers and take their schemes to poor… take Jan Dhan Yojna, first it was stated that it is for the poor and when money was deposited it was termed as black money,” he said. Yadav reiterated that UP has had to suffer loss worth Rs 9,000 crore after Niti Ayog came into being.

© 2018 Yuva Sai Sagar. Theme by Anders Norén.