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

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

PM Modi’s New Year’s Eve Speech: Mamata says PM took over FM’s job, Kejriwal calls it ‘disappointing’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Describing Narendra Modi’s address to the nation tonight as a “pre-budget speech”, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee alleged that the Prime Minister deviated from the actual agenda of black money and demonetization. “PM deviated from actual agenda of black money & #DeMonetisation PM just took over post of Finance Minister and made pre-Budget speech (sic),” Banerjee said in a series of tweets.”So the FM was missing from this advance Budget Speech made by PM. Modi babu, empty vessels make the most noise,” she said claiming it was a “heartless, baseless speech”.Banerjee reminded the Prime Minister that he forgot to even pay respect to more than 112 citizens who died in queues to get cash.”Saying Nation Address & doing political vendetta. In the name of addressing the nation, Modi Babu is serving his selfish personal agenda,” she tweeted.”The Nation Address became the Budget Address.Financial Emergency continues in the name of black money cleanup. Money not available in banks. Still no concrete solutions to problems,” Banerjee said.Attacking Modi she said he wanted 50 days to deliver promises but “badly failed”.”PM who runs nation in the name of ‘Suddhikaran’ just underwent ‘Buddhiharan’,” she said adding promises were broken and he has snatched common man’s financial rights.She also asked where are the figures of demonetisation and how much of black money was recovered? “What did the nation gain after 50 days of excruciating pain,” the West Bengal CM asked while claiming that 2017 will mark the end of demonetisation and start of “DeModitisation”.”This will be the New Year Resolution of all 125 crore people of this great country,” she said. Questioning the restrictions imposed on cash withdrawal she said the government cannot simply “snatch away” economic rights of the people. “Modi Babu, public are not beggars. Why are there still restrictions on cash withdrawal?. 50 days are now over. How can you take away the rights of citizens to withdraw their own hard-earned money ? A government just cannot snatch away people’s economic rights,” she said. The Reserve Bank of India said last night that cash withdrawal limit from ATMs would be increased to Rs 4,500 per day from the current Rs 2,500 from January 1. However, there has been no change in the weekly withdrawal limit, which stands at Rs 24,000, including from ATM, for individuals and Rs 50,000 for small traders. Kejriwal calls speech ‘disappointing’ Terming Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address as “disappointing”, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today accused him of “cheating” people and claimed that “not a single penny” of black money was recovered and there was no reduction in corruption due to demonetization. He also hit out at the prime minister for “not offering any relief” to the people suffering due to demonetization. In a series of tweets, Kejriwal said, “Modiji sounds so hollow now. People have stopped believing anything that he says. He has become a subject of ridicule internationally.”Modiji has cheated the entire nation. Neither a single penny of black money has been recovered nor has corruption come down. He has lost all credibility.”Prime Minister’s boring speech was heard patiently by the people in the hope that he will announce when can they withdraw their own money without restriction. In the end, they were disappointed.”Senior AAP leader Ashutosh also accused the prime minister of trying to “bribe” the people hit by the currency ban “by offering them sops” and termed his address as an “election speech”.”Modi’s speech was not about demonetization, but about election. He tried to bribe the people of India who are angry with him by giving them sops,” he said. Taking a dig at the prime minister’s address, Delhiminister Kapil Mishra said Modi sounded like “a doctor who has not understood his patient’s ailment”.Swaraj India chief Yogendra Yadav said the speech had no reference to the number of new currency notes printed or steps taken to curb black money. He described it as “below expectation”.”What happened to black money? How much black money (was) recovered? What are the future plans against black money? What about black money in politics?,” Yadav tweeted.

Arunachal Pradesh to have BJP govt as 33 MLAs led by Pema Khandu join party

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The political turmoil in Andhra Pradesh has taken a positive turn for the BJP as 33 MLAs of the People’s Party of Arunachal Pradesh (PPA) have joined the party on Saturday.The MLAs were led by Pema Khandu who was on Thursday suspended from PPA among 10 other members.The 33 MLAs joined the BJP after a meeting today. Arunachal Pradesh now has a BJP government as the party has 2/3rd majority. The PPA, which had total 43 MLAs, had on Thursday midnight temporarily suspended Khandu, deputy chief minister Chhowna Mein and five other MLAs from the primary membership of the party for their alleged “anti-party activities”. It later suspended four other members. A total of eleven MLAs were suspended till now.The Pema Khandu government had claimed on Friday support of 49 of the 60 MLAs on Saturday , including 35 of Peoples Party of Arunachal (PPA) legislators, a day after he was suspended from his own party.Government spokesperson Bamang Felix had claimed that 35 out of the 43 PPA MLAs have reposed their faith and allegiance in the leadership of Khandu. “We have support of 49 MLAs including 35 PPA, 12 BJP along with one associate BJP member and one independent,” he claimed at a press conference here. Arunachal has been battling political instability since December last year when Congress dissidents revolted against former chief minister Nabam Tuki.After a series of dramatic developments, which included a special session held at a hotel to vote out Tuki, Congress rebel Kalikho Pul became chief minister in February with the help of 11 BJP lawmakersThe Congress then moved Supreme Court, which turned the clock back and restored Tuki’s government. But Tuki was out within days as he did not enjoy a majority in the 60-member assembly. Pul, who insisted that he be reinstated as chief minister, was left alone in the last minute when lawmakers supposedly backing him shifted their loyalties to Khandu. Pul committed suicide in August and a month later, Khandu walked out of Congress with 42 lawmakers and joined the PPA.

Jaggi Vasudev on notebandi, nationalism and why he stands behind Narendra Modi

Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev is known for speaking his mind on a wide range of issues. In his new book Inner Engineering: A Yogi’s Guide to Joy (Penguin Random House India Pvt. Ltd), he has redefined spirituality. He does not describe himself as the usual ‘guru’, which he once called a four letter word. Instead, he prefixes it with another four-letter word ‘sadh’ to complete his self-description. To talk to us, he walked into a central Delhi garden, kissed gently by the winter sun, in a turban that hides the colour of his hair and a cotton-candy beard that gives it away. Spirituality for him is not a straight jacket. He enjoys playing ball, flies choppers and wears jeans when not in loose cotton pants, and surprises you by calling spirituality a ‘technology’. Spirituality is neither detachment, self-abnegation nor being less worldly than anybody else. He engages with every contemporary issue and doesn’t hold back. Though not politically aligned with any party or leader, he discusses demonetisation and nationalism, the two hot-button issues of the day. With the disclaimer that he is not ‘nationalistic freak’, he says India needs to stand behind somebody who has taken a huge political risk (a reference to Narendra Modi and demonetisation), and that emotional commitment to a country is an essential ingredient for nation-building. Edited excerpts:

Your book revolves around your healing principle of ‘Inner Engineering’. Can you explain the concept?

This is not a teaching, preaching, philosophy, religion, this is a technology for wellbeing. Show me one person who doesn’t need a technology for wellbeing? In India, the book is leading across sections and doing even better than fiction and that is a statement from the people that it was needed. When it comes to other aspects of our life, we employ science and tech to make things work. When it comes to religion, we still have silly philosophies and ideologies. Why? This is a movement from religion to responsibility. Without turning inward, there is no way you will have yourself the way you want yourself to be. When you can approach medicine in a scientific manner, why can’t you approach inner-wellbeing in a logically correct and scientifically verifiable way, I ask?

The reason why somebody feels insecure and miserable is because they haven’t taken charge of their inward and out of insecurities and the bad experience of life, people may do many things in reaction.

Political developments across the globe in 2016 suggest that countries are closing their doors. Is there a way to go inwards into your culture and identity without pitting them against that of another?
Going inwards is not about culture, it is not about politics or the positions that we take in the world. Going inwards is because the source of your experience is within you. The reason why somebody feels insecure and miserable is because they haven’t taken charge of their inward and out of insecurities and the bad experience of life, people may do many things in reaction. Going inwards means you are in charge of how you experience your life, you can make it beautiful or ugly, blissful or miserable. Right now, because people haven’t turned inwards, there is much fear of suffering and anxiety, and anger against each other. We are trying to fix the reactions, when we should be fixing the source.

In the context of demonetisation, tell us if India is more critical of governmental decisions than before and do most believe that policies are designed to harm them?

We are critical of governmental decisions because we are used to governments that don’t take any decisions. Now when any decision is made, we think it is wrong. We’ve been a developing nation f70 years because we are simply unwilling to fix the fundamentals. There are certain serious problems in the country, do you want to take them head-on or do you want to pussyfoot around them forever? Demonetisation is a little bit of a confrontation with the problem that nearly 60 percent transactions are beneath the radar. How do you run a nation when a little over two per cent pay taxes? How does a nation’s administration function effectively without revenue? This is a system coming from a colonial era and the nomenclature still continues. Even today, district administrators are called collectors because in those days their job was to collect taxes. Earlier, whoever didn’t pay tax was a hero. We are still in that hangover. We can’t live in little nations of comfort and wellbeing, it’s time that we work for the wellbeing of the nation as a whole and for that some painful steps have to be taken. Right now, the issue is that if I have to start my own business, I have to build my own road, generate electricity, and manage sewage. This is not an excuse to not be in the tax net. Only if we pay, we can demand services. Democracy is not a spectator sport, we can participate through various instruments on a daily basis and demand results. If 30 percent of the population doesn’t come in the tax net in the next 10 years, we won’t have a developed nation. Nothing significant happens without some pain.

That said, do you think the present government is doing a good job?

The present government is doing a very good job by wielding a stick at those who are not being compliant with the nation’s goals. But the political game in a democratic country is nebulous. They will have to do a few populist things. When somebody takes a huge political risk to correct something, you have to stand with them. Once people have elected a government, all of us should simply support it. If you pull their leg, how will they function? I am not politically aligned with a party or a fan of any leader but believe in the wellbeing of a democratic nation. If you have any other commitment going against the nation’s growth, it is a crime. Those who are sitting in comfortable places are doing these things without understanding what we are denying to those who have barely eaten. You go to the remotest parts of Africa and you’ll find that the children are bouncy and healthy. Though there is experience and cultural strength in India, we are not doing well on the ground.

sadhguru 825sadhguru 825

Do we define nationalism too much? Why has it become necessary to prove that we are Indian?
Right now the big issue is that of playing the national anthem in theatres. Because you have popcorn in one hand and cola in the other, you can’t stand up. If there is no pride about the country, how do you build a country? Nationalism is not an ultimate goal, but an immediate need to move the people in one direction, otherwise everybody has their own caste, creed, religion, all kinds of things. We are talking about nuances of liberal freedom when half the people have not eaten. Right now, we’re in the basics, let’s understand this. I am not a nationalistic freak, my work is beyond national, racial and religious borders, and my idea of humanity is 7.3 billion people. But the nation is the largest mass of people and to bind it together and take it forward, national identity is important. Emotional commitment to the country is needed.

Is this the era of collective rage, clashing opinions and a lack of action?
The rage is limited to the media. There is a big sense of satisfaction and fulfilment among the poorest of poor in this country, because they feel that for the first time somebody has hit the rich. I only wish this digitisation process had started a year earlier, and 30 to 40 percent of the population had moved into a cashless economy. People are protesting all the time. There is more activism in the country than activity, we need activity. We have inherited this from a pre-independence era where we call for a bandh, shut down electricity, rasta roko, rail roko. Gandhi’s technology was fine when someone else was ruling us. How do we shut down our own nation? I am not for mad fanaticism at all but I am asking, how do you move people without getting them emotionally identified with the nation?

Not all mental ailments are because of pathological causes, but also happen because of social causes. In the West, one of the biggest problems is loneliness. In India, there is no room for loneliness because someone is always walking over you.

A recent Bollywood movie Dear Zindagi discussed the subject of mental health. Does everybody secretly like to believe they are depressed or that they need to be rescued? Is the youth ready or nation building, if they are self-absorbed?
In India, the self-absorbed youth is only a small segment coming from affluent families in urban centres. The rest of them are not like that. The population is largely community-oriented, so people are not depressed on the same scale as Europeans are. Not all mental ailments are because of pathological causes, but also happen because of social causes. In the West, one of the biggest problems is loneliness. In India, there is no room for loneliness because someone is always walking over you. This may look like an irritant at some point but it helps people stay mentally healthy. We are slowly withdrawing from that and moving toward a different mode, and there will be a price to pay.

Is spiritualism now a capitalism-driven material need, just like a bag or a pair of jeans?
There is substantial medical and scientific evidence to prove that only when you are in a pleasant state of experience, your body and brain works at its best. If you want to succeed in the world, it is only a question of harnessing your body and brain to the fullest. If you do this successfully, will you become unsuccessful in the world? Miserable people are not successful. The spiritual process is a self-realisation. You can use a phone better if you know more about it. The same thing applies to the brain, the greatest and most sophisticated gadget on the planet. Spirituality is not a disability, it is the greatest empowerment you can receive, your body, mind, thought, emotions and energy will function for you and not against you if you know the nature of your existence fully. It’s just like you can either open up the cosmos with a phone, or just use it in a rudimentary way to SMS your friend.

Is social media leading to a rise in depression because one has constant access to other people’s achievements? Are we in a state of constant denial?
Every gift given to you is becoming a problem because you are trying to extract happiness from the world. You need to understand that all human experience happens from within. If you’re seeking joy from Facebook, you’ll be miserable because you’ll see wrong faces. Every technology that comes to you has come to enhance your life and not take away your joy. You have to move from compulsiveness to consciousness. Your very mind is the source of your misery. People want the brain of an earthworm? Why? It took us years of evolution to get here. Those who are joyful in their own way, by their own nature, their genius will unfold. Right now, the fear of suffering has cramped you up, you are blaming Facebook, blaming the phone, blaming technology. This is because your own intelligence has turned against you. If the source of your existence is in your hands, you will choose pleasantness.

Over 18,000 children have committed suicide in 2015, if we don’t accept that we are doing something fundamentally wrong, we have not gotten life properly. The entire world looked toward Indian culture for guidance when it came to life.

Why do we have to lose our peace and then find ways to bring it back?
Our schooling system is a leftover from the British times. They designed it mainly to demand obedience. This was her majesty’s requirement. We should have seen what kind of schooling we need for a free India. We need free human beings with a free-ranging mind. A large segment of population has been in extreme poverty and it all became about how to get a job. So, nobody could be trained about anything that concerns life. Over 18,000 children have committed suicide in 2015, if we don’t accept that we are doing something fundamentally wrong, we have not gotten life properly. The entire world looked toward Indian culture for guidance when it came to life. We are not making use of anything we know and are reinventing India from a western perspective. If you say anything Indian, people say mad nationalism is happening. There are 120 weaves in this country, we were the greatest textile nation in the country. But we are killing it totally because our brains are still in Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). At the same time, our Indianness shouldn’t be rigid, history shows us that we have been able to absorb anything that comes our way without resistance and still retained our culture. This is a nation that has explored the interiority of the human mechanism like none other, we have the USP for how a human being can be joyful. This is a methodology we can offer the entire world. First, at least a majority in India has to get this.

So, economic wellbeing isn’t enough for development?
Economic wellbeing alone will not translate into human wellbeing. For instance, in the export town of Tirupur in Tamil Nadu, almost everybody earns two to three times more than those in neighbouring towns. Last year, on Diwali, Tamil Nadu sold 36 crore worth of alcohol and in this about 24 to 25 crore was from Tirupur. It is a town of merely 8 lakh people. Wherever economic wellbeing has happened, 40 per cent has become diabetic. This is why we’re talking about yoga nation.

Can spiritual leaders take a political stand?
If you can stand for an election, why can’t I? I won’t but that’s my choice. I have as much right as you have to stand for elections.

What kind of India do you envision for in 2017?
Right now, 60 percent of the population is undernourished, we are producing half and substandard human beings. The next thing is empowerment. We can educate people toward better agriculture, skill people in different ways; human beings must be empowered to do whatever they want. The next thing is ecology. This is a very serious problem that has gone unattended. Some studies show, on an average, all Indian rivers are depleting by 8 percent per year. This means, in 15-20 years, rivers will become seasonal. For instance, Kaveri doesn’t reach the ocean for two and a half months. What are we going to leave for our children? Barren land? Fly from Delhi to Chennai and every five minutes you will see large patches of brown. When sunlight continuously falls, bio-activity sinks deeper and deeper; what you think is soil today will become sand tomorrow. The per capita potable water you had in 1947, today you have 19 – 20 percent of it. In 2020, you’ll have only 7 seven percent of it. We need drastic ecological policy steps, which people will hate like they hate demonetisation.

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 10:09 IST

Mulayam should explain why he imposed Akhilesh on UP after 2012 polls: BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>People of Uttar Pradesh have already “expelled” Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav should now answer as to why he “betrayed” the state by imposing his son after 2012 polls, BJP said soon after Akhilesh was expelled for six years from the party.”Akhilesh Yadav has let down the people of Uttar Pradesh with the all-round failures of his government. He has not fulfilled any promise. People are feeling betrayed. Now Mulayam Singh Yadav has expelled him from the party. People have already expelled him due to his governance failures,” BJP National Secretary Shrikant Sharma said.”Mualayam Singh Yadav should answer as to why he imposed his son on the state and betrayed it,” he said.People had voted for SP in 2012 as they were angry with the Mayawati government over poor law and order and development but SP has also let them down, he said, blaming Yadav for “deteriorating law and order” as his portfolios includes the Home department.Voters will not fall in this trap this time, Sharma said, claiming that they have made up their mind to vote for BJP.”There is wave in our support,” he claimed. BJP governments in various states have brought development and ensured double digit growth, he said.

Demonetisation was single biggest case of total mismanagement, says Chidambaram

New Delhi: Insisting that the Opposition’s concerns on demonetisation have been found correct, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should now make a categorical announcement of an end to all restrictions on cash withdrawals.

P Chidambaram. PTIP Chidambaram. PTI

P Chidambaram. PTI

“When the prime minister addresses the nation, the people expect that he will make a categorical announcement that all restrictions on money have been ended,” Chidambaram told reporters at AICC headquarters on Friday.

The senior Congress leader said that the woes of demonetisation should come to an end by Friday evening as the prime minister had asked for time till 30 December. Noting that Modi had recently said at a rally that “through the note ban, in one stroke, we destroyed the world of terrorism, drug mafia, human trafficking and underworld”, he said that it was therefore, fair to expect that these objectives would be achieved by the end of today.

“It is fair to expect that beginning Monday, 2 January, 2017, all restrictions on money imposed on 8 November, 2016 will be removed and the people will be able to withdraw the money in their bank accounts. 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,” he said.

Chidambaram said that the only person who can assure the people on these matters is Modi himself, because the government has “dubbed all of us in the Opposition as supporters of black money hoarders and tax evaders”.

On the government’s claim that people are happy and there have been no incidents of rioting, he said people are patient. “But please don’t mistake patient people for happy people,” he had said.

Seeking to debunk government’s claims on the benefits of demonetisation, he said, “Events of the last 50 days have proved us correct. Hoards of black money in new Rs 2,000 notes have been found.”

He further said that bribes have been given and taken in new Rs 2,000 notes and there is “no guarantee” that black money will not be demanded or generated in future or that bribes will not be given or taken in future in the new currency.

Dubbing the way the demonetisation was announced and implemented as a “single biggest case of total mismanagement”, he regretted the most momentous decision has been taken “without consulting key officials”.

Making a strong pitch for compensating people for the hardships they faced, he lamented that the government has “not uttered a word” about compensating the people for the economic losses heaped upon them by demonetisation.

He also demanded that the agenda note and the minutes of the meeting of the RBI board of directors held on 8 November, 2016, along with the Note for Cabinet on demonetisation placed before the Cabinet on 8 November, 2016, should be made

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 20:03 IST

Demonetization: Jaitley misleading people with his statements, says Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Congress Party has accused Finance Minister Arun Jaitley of quoting wrong facts and misleading the people of this country with his statements with regard to demonetization.”It is very surprising that Arun Jaitley is giving such a peculiar statement, saying that there was no unrest, but it has been reported that that more than 100 people have died in the country,” Congress leader Pradeep Bhattacharya.”I cannot believe that Arun Jaitley does not know this thing. Definitely he knows this thing in spite of that he said something wrong and he thought if I say something wrong people will believe it, but now, people have started thinking that he is saying untruth and trying to mislead the people of the country,” he added.Bhattacharya said he can very emphatically and very clearly say that people who have died and those who are suffering due to present situation will never forgive this type of painful situation.Responding to Jaitley’s statement that the people are supporting the demonetization initiative, the Congress leader said, the finance minister clearly knows that people are not supporting them.”What the people would do, people are hesitating, they are showing their grievances very clearly, they have shown it very clearly that that they cannot accept this kind of functioning by the Government of India,” he said.

Rahul is obsessed while Mamata is biased on demonetisation: BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday has said that Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s seeking a reply from Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the government’s demonetisation drive is ridiculous and added that the former is obsessed with demonetization.”Rahul Gandhi is obsessed with demonetization scheme may be his party is deeply hurt with this move. Seeking reply from Prime minister is ridiculous because in every public meeting, Prime Minister is addressing, he is raising the issue and giving clarification to the people of India. It is more important to speak to the people than to these discontented elements,” said BJP leader S Prakash.He further said that more than Rs. 5 lakhs crores scandals were exposed by the CIG and other independent authorities during the Congress regime, but Rahul did not speak a word on any of scams adding,”Now when, there is no scam and only demonetization is taking place, commenting on the same issue repeatedly will not convince the people.”Congress vice-president, earlier in the day, escalated his attack on Prime Minister Modi, saying the goal of his ambitious demonetization drive has completely failed as people are continuing to suffer.Addressing the media after an anti-demonetization meeting which was attended by all the opposition parties except the Left, Janata Dal (United) and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Gandhi said,”Demonetization has done absolutely nothing against corruption. What it has done instead is to leave people without any money.”Prakash also took dig at West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who also went all guns blazing at the Prime Minister over his decision to scrap Rs. 500 and Rs. 000 currency notes and said that Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief?s demand is irrelevant and her crusade against demonetization is highly biased.”I think she should more focus on Saradha chit fund scam’s accused as her own MP is still in jail, may be, she has forgotten or dumped him. Let her stable it first and then look at national aspirations,? Prakash said.”Unfortunately, Mamata Banerjee’s mind is totally clouded with biased opinion over demonetization. I hope after December 31 she will realise her mistake and the benefit of demonetization will certainly be known to the people of India in coming days,” he added.

Indian diaspora can now apply for OCI cards till June 30, 2017

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Centre has extended for six months the last date for applying for conversion of Person of Indian Origin (PIO) cards to Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cards to June 30, 2017 from December 31, 2016.It has been decided, with the approval of the competent authority, to extend the date for submission of the application for registration as OCI card holder by the erstwhile PIO cardholders till June 30, 2017, an official notification said. This was for the third time the date for conversion of PIO cards to OCI cards has been extended since March 31, 2016.The PIO card was first implemented in 2002 as a benefit to foreign nationals who could establish at least a third generation tie to Indian origin. The PIO card was valid for travel, work, and residence in India for a period of 15 years. The OCI card was implemented in 2005, carried more expansive benefits than the PIO card, and was valid for the holder’s lifetime.Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced in 2014 that the PIO and OCI cards will be merged and the Indian diaspora will be given maximum possible benefits. Simultaneous existence of PIO and OCI cards led to confusion among People of Indian Origin residing abroad, officials said.

Rohit Deo is the full-time Advocate General of Maharashtra now

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It took eight months and a strongly worded High court order for the Devendra Fadnavis government to finalise the name of Adv Rohit Deo as the advocate general of Maharashtra. Deo’s name has been recommended to the Governor on Tuesday by the cabinet. The government had told the Bombay High Court on Friday that it would appoint the AG by 30 December. Congress MLC Sanjay dutt had dragged the Fadnavis government to the court three months back over its prolonged indecision at the cost of state’s welfare. Deo is currently the acting advocate general and has been handling all cases of the government since Shreehari Aney quit in April this year following a controversial statement supporting separate VIdarbha state. Dutt said, “Even as Maharashtra Govt concedes to my demand & finally appoints Advocate General, CM needs to answer why he waited for 9 months to appoint acting AG as AG!” Dutt added that Maha CM owes apology to Maha People following HC order in my petition stating that the appointment of an Acting Advocate General is Not Constitutionally valid.HC order through my petition shall ensure that No Govt will falter on appointing Advocate-General as per Article 165 of Constitution of India.

J-K | Give peace a chance, imperative for dialogue & development: CM Mehbooba Mufti

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Asking people of Jammu and Kashmir to “give peace a chance”, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has said it was imperative for dialogue and development and would have a “soothing impact” on India-Pakistan relations.”For achieving the objective of development and dialogue, a congenial atmosphere of peace and tranquility needs to be created. I seek people’s cooperation in creating an environment conducive for development and dialogue,” Mehbooba said while interacting with people after kick-starting various developmental projects in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district yesterday.”The chief minister said her government would work on the twin objectives of development and dialogue and asked the people of the state “to give peace a chance”. The people of J-K have a huge responsibility to ensure a congenial and peaceful atmosphere in the state so that it has a soothing impact on the relations between the two neighbouring countries (India and Pakistan) which ultimately can pave the way for getting the state out of its difficulties,” Mehbooba said.She regretted that every section of society suffered losses during the turmoil of past few months which also delayed the completion of many developmental projects in the state.The Chief Minister said the government has planned a major developmental programme for the state and asked the people to extend their cooperation for its successful implementation.Addressing the students after inaugurating the new building of the Government Women’s College, Pulwama, the Chief Minister said empowerment of women is key to development of the state.She asked the girls to focus on education as it has the potential to bring about the desired social change. Mehbooba said women hold an important place in society and their empowerment would signal a positive turnaround. She asked the students to attain different skills “so that they are not only educated but empowered as well”.

BJP not doing politics on religion but justice & honesty: Rajnath Singh in Assam

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday said people have accepted BJP as a party of their own by electing it to power at the Centre with thumping majority even though opposition parties had made allegations in the past that it practised politics over religion.”There was a big allegation that BJP used to do politics over religion or over communalism. Now that allegation has gone away. Had it been a party of doing politics over religion, then the 1.25 billion people of the country would not have elected to power with a clear majority,” he said addressing a meeting of the BJP’s Assam unit here. Singh, a senior BJP leader, said the party never practiced politics over religion nor did over communalism but on the issue of justice and honesty.”We are a party of doing politics over justice and honesty. We are a party which takes everyone along and wants to march forward with everyone’s cooperation,” he said. The Home Minister said BJP’s politics is centred around humanity – irrespective of whether someone is Hindu, Muslim, Christian or from any other religion. Describing Indo-Bangladesh agreement on land-swap as a very significant pact for bilateral relations, Singh said after the exchange of ‘enclaves’ along the border, Dhaka has been supporting India in every international forums.”Be is on terrorism or be it on any other issues, Bangladesh has been supporting India in every international forum ever since we have completed the process of exchange of enclaves between India and Bangladesh.Singh said security of the more than 200-kilometre-long Indo-Bangladesh border in Assam was a priority for the BJP government and it will be completely sealed in next one and a half years. “We are committed to sealing the 223.7-km Indo-Bangladesh border in Assam and the process is on. It is expected to be completed within the next year and a half,” he said.The Home Minister said Bangladesh is a neighbouring country and India shares a good and warm relations and wants to continue and remain committed to in the future. The Home Minister, without referring to the issues of illegal migration and granting of citizenship to Hindu refugees, assured the people of Assam that BJP was committed to protect the interests of the indigenous population of the state as per Clause 6 of the Assam Accord.”We are committed to Clause 6 of the Assam Accord and will protect it even if we have to amend the Constitution,” he said. Referring to the updating of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, Singh said the process is underway and the state government should complete it soon. Singh said the Centre will make no compromise on the issue of insurgency as he claimed that violence has considerably come down in the state. “If any people or group have any grievances, problems or issues, we are ready to talk to them… We are ready to embrace them and talk. But if there is violence, there will be no compromise,” he said.The Home Minister claimed people have supported Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “bold step” to demonetise high-value currency notes and his fight against black money and corruption. “The Prime Minister’s bold step of demonetization has been welcomed by the people of the country and we are grateful for that,” he said. The Prime Minister’s fight against black money and corruption was “beyond any doubt” and the people of the country have expressed their gratitude by supporting him despite facing initial difficulties, the home minister said.”People did face initial difficulties after demonetization was announced, but no one has questioned the intention of the Prime Minister. “People had to wait for hours in queues outside ATMs, but when told they were facing difficulties, many replied, ‘When our jawans our dying on the borders to protect our country against enemies, then why can’t we stand in queues for a few hours.’ This is the spirit of our people,” he said.Modi on November 8 had announced to demonetize Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, and said new notes of denominations Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 will be issued in their place, leading to a rush among people to exchange their notes at banks and withdraw new notes from ATMs.

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.”

Mumbai: Couple dies in Aarey helicopter crash, family gears up for fight against authorities

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A fortnight after suffering around 40% burns from the crash of a private helicopter in Mumbai’s Aarey colony, Vrinda Modi (34), succumbed to her injuries. Vrinda’s condition deteriorated in the past two days, said a family member. She was on that helicopter to enjoy a ride to celebrate her sixth wedding anniversary.Vrinda’s husband and co-passenger Ritesh (35), had succumbed to his injuries two days after the crash. He had multiple injuries on head and chest. Doctors at Airoli’s Burns hospital had been battling to save Vrinda whose entire upper torso was burnt following the crash.”She was recovering well till three days back but she then got a very virulent infection following which her health deteriorated. I was very hopeful of her recovery,” said Dr Sunil Keswani, medical director, national burns hospital.“We want people to know what the rides are not safe. People’s lives are not being valued and the joyrides have already been started again,” said Ritesh’s brother-in-law Jaimin Parekh.The family members are waiting for the DGCA report before taking action but are clear that they will fight on behalf of the couple who are survived by a 2-year-old child.The private helicopter had crashed in Aarey’s Filter Pada area on December 11 at 9:10 am. The injured were immediately rushed to the Seven Hills hospital in Marol area.While the pilot of the private helicopter Praful Mishra (53) died on the spot, technician Sanjeev Shankar, 24, who suffered fractures has flown back to his hometown, Patna and is recovering. His father, while speaking to DNA earlier, had said that officials of the company discharged him in a hurry and asked him to be taken back, while assuring to pay for his medical treatment.

Pakistan to enforce conversion

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan’s Sindh Assembly which unanimously passed a Bill recommending jail term to perpetrators of forced conversion, may soon be struck down to please religious political parties.Minorities— Hindu, Sikh, Christians, Ahmadiyya, Hazara—constitute 2.3 million of the Muslim-majority country and continue to live in fear. The Sindh province is home to a majority of the Hindus in Pakistan. The Sindh Assembly in November passed a Bill preventing the forced conversion of minorities.The Sindh Criminal Law (Protection of Minorities) Bill-2015 proposed by Pakistan Muslim Leaugue-Functional (PML-F) parliamentarian Nand Kumar Goklani last year, recommended a five-year jail term for perpetrators and three years for facilitators of forced conversions.Under the Bill, forcibly converting a minor is also a punishable offence and gives 21 days to adults to consider their decision to convert. However, soon after the Bill was passed, hardline religious parties protested claiming that it was an attempt to make Pakistan a ‘secular’ nation and the provisions went against the spirit of Islam. The parties criticised the minimum age of 18 years for any person to change their religion and are of the view that such a law would make it difficult for members of religious minorities to adopt Islam.A furore was created by religious clerics. Farahnaz Ispahani, Author of Purifying The Land of the Pure: The History of Pakistan’s Religious Minorities said, “At any and every opportunity where the rights and protections for Pakistanis who are from religious minority groups or for women are being secured, the religious/political force of the powerful Muslim clergy is seen acting to prevent these protections.”Rising UproarAfter facing the ire of religious groups and succumbing to the threats of terrorist Hafiz Saeed who warned of a movement against the Bill, it was sent to the Governor for his assent. The Bill will now be reviewed and amended by the Assembly, without waiting for the Governor’s assent, Nisar Ahmad Khuhro, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs had said.“Hafiz Saeed’s threats are very worrying as are the threats to the lives of the Hindu and Muslim lawmakers involved with the Bill. If Saeed continues to fan the flames it will create an atmosphere of fear and violence which could derail the Bill completely,” said Ispahani. Khuhro, in his statement, referred to Verse 256 of Surah al-Baqarah of the Holy Quran (see box), according to which no person could be forced to change their religion, adding that no Muslim could think about passing a law that was against this basic tenet of Islam. The minister also said that the Sindh Assembly had only declared unlawful the act of contracting marriage below the age of 18 and for this purpose a law had been passed.The Sindh police have also warned 13 lawmakers and a bureaucrat of possible ‘harm’ by religious parties, especially to those who were in the Standing Committee on Minority Affairs in which the Bill was considered.“In my opinion, religio-political parties with little or no representation in parliament, or in this case the Sindh Assembly, cannot and must not dictate to the elected representatives of the people. Nor can the Assembly be held hostage to the will of pressure groups who have no real support among the electorate,” added Zarrar Khuhro, Pakistani journalist.Bill to revoke?Post much chaos, Pakistani media have reported that the Sindh government might consider retracting the Bill.According to Pakistan media, a Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) spokesperson has claimed that Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zadari—also the ruling government in Sindh—has given his word to JI chief Sirajul Haq that the Bill will be struck down. Associated Reporters Abroad Pakistan correspondent, Naila Inayat calls it shameful that progressive political parties such as PPP are succumbing under pressure. “The Bill was being seen as a major relief to the minorites in Sindh, especially the Hindu community, which has been complaining of forced conversion, abduction and marriages.” Referring to data from Pakistan Hindu Council and Movement for Solidarity and Peace, Naila points out that four girls are converted to Islam girls converted each year.With no concrete changes to the Bill yet, the fate of minorities remains uncertain.”The ‘otherization’ of people of other faiths or Muslim sects that have been rejected by the orthodoxy has been seen repeatedly and increasingly in Sindh and all over Pakistan,” said Ispahani.

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.

Arvind Kejriwal gets bail in false affidavit case

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Delhi court on Saturday granted bail to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in a case of allegedly giving false information in an affidavit filed in the run up to 2013 Assembly polls.Metropolitan Magistrate Ashish Gupta granted the relief to Kejriwal, who appeared in court in pursuance to its direction, on a personal bond of Rs 10,000 and posted the matter for next hearing on April 7, 2017.The court had on August 31 exempted the CM from appearance for one day while directing him to personally appear before it today, considering that bail proceedings were pending.Kejriwal was allowed exemption by the court on the ground that he could not appear due to “exigencies of work and some important meetings and discharge of his duties”.The court had summoned Kejriwal in February this year on a criminal complaint filed by Neeraj Saxena and Anuj Agarwal on behalf of the NGO, noting that the politician had prima facie “willfully concealed” and “suppressed” his details in 2013 elections.It had noted that there was “sufficient ground” to proceed against him on allegations that he had concealed his correct address and suppressed the market value of his property in his affidavit to the Election Commission.Earlier, the NGO had approached Delhi High Court with a plea seeking quashing of Kejriwal’s nomination papers on the ground of “illegalities” in his affidavit.High Court had refused to entertain the plea and directed the petitioners to approach a magisterial court for remedy.The NGO in its petition before the high court had alleged that Kejriwal had violated provisions of the Representation of the People Act by submitting an affidavit which had incorrect details of his assets and income at the time of filing of the nomination.The offence under section 125-A of the Act entails a punishment of six months jail term and/or fine or both.The complaint was filed under several sections of RP Act and IPC for the alleged offences committed by him before holding the office of the Chief Minister of Delhi.The complaint alleged that Kejriwal falsely gave his Delhi address so as to qualify for contesting polls in the capital though he was living at Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh.This prima facie amounted to willful concealment, suppression and furnishing of false information, it was claimed.

PM Modi should stop ‘ridiculing’ Rahul Gandhi, admit demonetization was a ‘mistake’: P Chidambaram

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Taking a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for ridiculing Rahul Gandhi’s remarks, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said though he too could ridicule him, he will not do that and said Modi should rather answer the questions posed.”He (Rahul) says mock me but answer the questions of the people, the duty to respond to the question… lies with the Prime Minister… however he is ridiculing and acting (mocking Rahul),” Chidambaram said.Stating that he too knows how to mock and poke fun, the former finance minister said, “I can also talk like Prime Minister… and ridicule…, however, I will not do that because he is India’s Prime Minister.”Chidambaram said though Modi belonged to “another party” and “propagated several policies that we cannot accept, I respect him as he is India’s Prime Minister. I will not ridicule him or poke fun at him, I only ask questions, he should answer the questions.””Why are you (the Centre and Modi) punishing people like this (by demonetising) and what sin have they committed? Why are you harassing people and the farmers… what is the reason…I would like to ask,” he said.He said Rahul Gandhi is addressing people in several states, including Gujarat, on demonetisation and related issues.”The Prime Minister addresses meetings, Rahul Gandhi is also doing it and the media is giving equal importance to his speeches like they do for the PM and I welcome it. However that is not enough,” he said and described the claims of BJP government regarding demonetization as “falsehood.” Corruption is happening black money is being hoarded by using Rs 2,000 notes, he claimed and said party workers should apprise people on such “false claims.””I bow my head before the people for their patience,” Chidambaram said, adding people are perhaps waiting for the Prime Minister’s December 30 deadline for things to get normal.”No government or Prime Minister has the authority to inflict so much pain and harassment on the people. They did not vote for them (BJP) for this,” he said. Chidambaram said the Prime Minister should have accepted that he had taken a wrong decision. “He (Modi) is a big (magnanimous) man… had he said that I made a mistake, had Modi sought forgiveness, he would have been a big man,” the senior Congress leader said. He said Indira Gandhi had generously admitted that promulgation of Emergency in 1975 was a mistake as it had led to suffering of people (not in Tamil Nadu) and promised to never do it again till such time she was Prime Minister. “That is why she continues to live in the hearts of people as a towering leader though she passed away 32 years ago,” he said.”There is nothing wrong in accepting one’s mistake…there is nothing wrong in saying that I have done a mistake.” Chidambaram said if Modi had admitted he had taken a “wrong decision based on wrong advice” and he was not told of the quantum of currency that will be scrapped, it would have been generous.If Modi had said he was not apprised about the note printing capacity and how many months it would take to print such notes and on the duration of ATM recalibration, he would have been magnanimous, he said.Modi should have admitted that he had not taken into consideration the fact that people would be hit and daily wage earners would be affected, Chidambaram said.

Demonetisation: Swipe machine shortage, security worries threaten to sour cashless dream

The government has a humongous task ahead driving transition into cashless economy as the public is forced to go cashless with inadequate infrastructure and security system in place. The lack of digital preparedness is already threatening to hit the consumption growth, data shows.

The data released in a State Bank of India report shows that value per card transaction has declined though the volume of transactions has increased post the surprise demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes on 8 November. India’s largest bank has pointed out that the reason for the decline could be the woeful shortage of PoS machines in the country. India has 15.1 lakh such machines, while it would need another 20 lakh to meet the demands of cashless transition, according to the report.

Another reason for the fall in transaction value is the general slowdown in spending as customers are holding on to whatever little cash they possess. If this trend continues, it is likely to hit the corporate earnings and in turn economic growth.



“Despite Government’s move to reduce the cash transactions in the economy, people are standing in queues to withdraw money from banks and ATMs. It is not easy to shift all the people to use digital mode in their day to day transaction, which may be due to a number of reasons like level of education, acceptability of technology, lack of infrastructure etc,” the SBI report has said.

The comment by the SBI  should come as an eye-opener for the government and RBI officials, who have been insisting that enough cash is being dispensed to meet the demand from the customers.

Forty-four days have passed after the demonetisation announcement. People are still thronging the ATMs and bank branches to withdraw cash. According to the RBI, from 10 November to 19 December, banks have given away Rs 5,92,613 crore worth notes to the public.

The central bank has issued a total of 22.6 billion pieces of notes, of which 20.4 billion belonged to small denominations of Rs 10, Rs 20, Rs 50 and Rs 100. As much as 2.2 billion were higher denominations of Rs 2,000 and Rs 500. However, the bank has not yet given the data on how many Rs 500 notes have been dispatched.

The value of currency the RBI has released into the system is just about one-third of the Rs 15.44 lakh crore that was in circulation when the move was announced. This wide gap is the reason for the present cash crunch. What is making matters worse is the shortfall of PoS machines in the country.

The SBI report notes that over the last 6 years the average withdrawal from an ATM was around Rs 3,000 in a month. The bank calculates that this would mean around Rs 8,000 crore is required per day for smooth functioning of ATMs.

“This translates into Rs 3.7 lakh cash requirement per ATM per day to meet the customers requirements. This may be the amount of cash required for the daily transactions, a part of which needs to shift to digital,” it notes.

However, the immediate transaction value that needs to be shifted from ATM to other digital channels is a whopping Rs 46,000 crore per month, until the limit of Rs 2,500 at ATMs remains imposed, it said.

By this calculation, the bank doesn’t expect the government to withdraw the limit until January. However, that seems to be a very conservative estimate.

Govt needs to step up

In order to facilitate such a huge volume of transaction to digital, the government needs to step up. As the report notes, first and foremost a better ecosystem of incentives for the banks to deploy swipe machines has to be put in place.

“Simultaneously, the objective of the government should be very quickly bring on-board new merchants, particularly small and marginal traders, grocery shops, etc. on digital platform,” the report has noted.

As noted earlier, India has just 15.1 lakh PoS machines. In order to shift over to cashless, there is a requirement of 20 lakh more – that is more than double. When will this be met is anybody’s guess.

Along with it, there is an urgent requirement to invest in IT security systems, which also needs to be incentivised by the government, says the report.

This is a big challenge given the country has just been witness to one of the biggest ATM security breaches, in which lakhs of debit cards of various banks were compromised. The banks were then advising the customers to not use ATMs of other banks. Post the demonetisation which happened in a few weeks’ time after the debit card scare, this advise, interestingly, suddenly saw a reversal with the government itself asking the public to go to any bank ATM that has cash to withdraw money.

Clearly, in passing such an order to banks and customers, the government has just ignored the safety aspect completely. And that too at a time when the technological advance has rendered financial frauds boundary-less.

In a survey of 309 top corporate executives in India, consultancy firm Deloitte found 70 percent of the respondents expected frauds to increase in the next two years. And the survey was held well before the demonetisation started – during 1 October to 30 November.

Post the demonetisation, which has quickened the pace of transition to cashless, the possibility of frauds must have just increased.

“SMEs are struggling to mitigate even well-known frauds such as bribery and corruption. Given the inherent limitations of these organisations, there is need for government intervention to help tackle fraud,” said Rohit Mahajan, Deloitte India Head (Forensic – Financial Advisory), after releasing the sruvey resultes on Wednesday. According to him, the government start creating awareness about frauds and security systems among the small firms, which are all the more vulnerable to frauds.

The government, however, seems to be busy changing rules on a daily basis and making unsubstantiated claims, ignoring the pain that the customers, banks and companies are going through. It is high time it pulled up its socks and dealt with the emerging situation which seems to be already spinning out of control at least in some pockets.

First Published On : Dec 22, 2016 13:11 IST

Sasikala vs Sasikala: AIADMK files a petition to quash former MP’s petition

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>AIADMK filed a petition in the Madras High Court on Wednesday seeking quashing of the plea by expelled AIADMK MP Sasikala Pushpa and her husband to restrain the ruling party from appointing former chief minister Jayalalithaa’s aide VK Sasikala as party General Secretary. The petition was filed by AIADMK Presidium Chairman E Madhusudanan.Justice K Kalyanasundaram adjourned the case to December 23 and directed Rajya Sabha member Sasikala Pushpa and her husband Lingeswara Thilagan to file their counter in the matter. Sasikala Pushpa and her husband had on December 16 filed the plea seeking an interim injunction from the court from appointing Sasikala against the backdrop of a chorus by partymen in her support for the top party post.Referring to reports in the media that “few party members” wanted Sasikala, called “Chinnamma” by her party people, to assume the top party post, the counsel for the MP submitted that the primary eligibility to contest the election for the General Secretary is that the contestant must have been a primary member of the party continuously for five years as per the AIADMK bye-laws.Sasikala was expelled from the party by the then General Secretary Jayalalithaa in December 2011. It was only in March 2012 that she was again given the primary membership. So far, she has not completed the mandated five years, and hence, was ineligible to contest, counsel for Sasikala Pushpa had contended on December 16. KM Vijayan, counsel for the MP, had submitted that AIADMK bye-law under Section 20 (2) says that the General Secretary should be selected by all the primary members of all party units. He further submitted that AIADMK proposed to amend the party bye-laws to facilitate appointment of Sasikala as General Secretary.Assuming the rule of “continuous five-year membership” was amended, still the “basic structure” for selection of the General Secretary by all primary members of all party units cannot be amended, he said. Also, as per the Societies Registration Act, a minimum of 21 days notice has to be served on the members for attending the General Council, the counsel said.AIADMK counsel B Kumar had then submitted that Sasikala Pushpa was expelled from the party on August 1 this year. “She has not challenged her expulsion. She has no locus standi to comment about the activities of AIADMK.” He had said AIADMK, a recognised political party by the Election Commission, was not registered under the Societies Registration Act. AIADMK was registered as a political party under Representation of the People (RP) Act with the EC, he had submitted.

German police say arrested man may not be Christmas market attacker | Reuters

By Michelle Martin and Sabine Siebold

BERLIN A Pakistani asylum-seeker arrested on suspicion of killing 12 people by mowing through a Berlin Christmas market in a truck may not be the attacker, and the real perpetrator could still be on the run, German police said on Tuesday.The truck smashed into wooden huts serving mulled wine and sausages at the foot of the Kaiser Wilhelm memorial church, one of west Berlin’s most famous landmarks, at about 8 p.m. on Monday. Forty-eight people were injured, 18 severely.News of the arrest of the 23-year-old Pakistani led politicians in Germany and beyond to demand a crackdown on immigration.Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters: “There is much we still do not know with sufficient certainty but we must, as things stand now, assume it was a terrorist attack.”She added: “I know it would be especially hard for us all to bear if it were confirmed that the person who committed this act was someone who sought protection and asylum.”In a dramatic twist, police later said the suspect had denied the offence and might not be the right man. “According to my information it’s uncertain whether he was really the driver,” Police President Klaus Kandt told a news conference.Berlin police tweeted that they were “particularly alert” because of the denial. “Please be alert,” they added.Die Welt newspaper quoted an unnamed police chief as saying:”We have the wrong man. And therefore a new situation. The true perpetrator is still armed, at large and can cause fresh damage.”The truck belonged to a Polish freight company and its rightful driver was found dead in the vehicle. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said a pistol believed to have been used to kill him had not yet been found.German media said the arrested man had jumped out of the driver’s cab and run down the street towards the Tiergarten, a vast park in central Berlin. Several witnesses called police, including one who chased the suspect while on the phone, constantly updating officials on his whereabouts.”STATE OF WAR”
The attack fuelled immediate demands for a change to Merkel’s immigration policies, under which more than a million people fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere have arrived in Germany this year and last.

“We must say that we are in a state of war, although some people, who always only want to see good, do not want to see this,” said Klaus Bouillon, interior minister of the state of Saarland and a member of Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU).Horst Seehofer, leader of the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, said: “We owe it to the victims, to those affected and to the whole population to rethink our immigration and security policy and to change it.”The record influx has hit Merkel’s ratings as she prepares to run for a fourth term next year, and boosted support for the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD). Senior AfD member Marcus Pretzell blamed Merkel for the attack on Twitter.AfD leader Frauke Petry said Germany was no longer safe and “radical Islamic terrorism has struck in the heart of Germany”.The incident evoked memories of an attack in Nice, France in July when a Tunisian-born man drove a 19-tonne truck along the beach front, mowing down people who had gathered to watch the fireworks on Bastille Day, killing 86 people. That was claimed by Islamic State.EUROPE DIVIDED

The mass influx of migrants and refugees to the European Union has deeply divided its 28 members and fuelled the rise of populist anti-immigration movements that hope to capitalise on public concerns next year in elections in France, Germany and the Netherlands.Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico said the latest attack would change perceptions of migration. “I think that the cup of patience is beginning to spill over and Europe’s public will rightfully expect rather stronger measures,” he said.Nigel Farage of Britain’s UK Independence Party tweeted: “Terrible news from Berlin but no surprise. Events like these will be the Merkel legacy.”On Tuesday morning, investigators removed the black truck from the site for forensic examination. People left flowers at the scene and notes, one of which read: “Keep on living, Berliners!” One woman was crying as she stopped by the flowers.Bild newspaper cited security sources as saying the arrested man was Naved B. and had arrived in Germany a year ago. In legal cases German officials routinely withhold the full name of suspects, using only an initial.A security source told Reuters the suspect had been staying at a refugee centre in the now defunct Tempelhof airport.Die Welt said police special forces stormed a hangar at Tempelhof at around 4 a.m. (0300 GMT). A refugee there who gave his name only as Ahmed told Reuters security guards had told him there was a raid at around 4 a.m.Prosecutors declined to immediately comment on the report.

Merkel and de Maiziere both stressed the need for Germans to remain uncowed by the attack.”We do not want to live paralysed by the fear of evil,” said the chancellor, who discussed the attack by phone with U.S. President Barack Obama and convened a meeting of her security cabinet.”Even if it is difficult in these hours, we will find the strength for the life we want to live in Germany – free, together and open.”Other European countries said they were reviewing security.Austrian Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka said he had told the heads of regional police forces to intensify surveillance measures. He called for biometric and fingerprint checks to be introduced along the Balkan route travelled by many migrants arriving in Europe, in order to better control foreign jihadist fighters’ movements.London police said they were reviewing their plans for protecting public events over the festive period.Flags will be hung at half-mast around Germany on Tuesday and Berlin Christmas markets were closed for the day out of respect. The German soccer league announced a minute’s silence at all matches on Tuesday and Wednesday, at which players will wear black ribbons.Dresden tourist information service said authorities had erected concrete blocks around the Striezelmarkt, one of Germany’s oldest Christmas markets, to increase security.Festive markets selling ornate, often hand-crafted decorations, seasonal foods and hot spiced wine are a beloved tradition in Germany.Manfred Weber, head of the centre-right European People’s Party, said: “It’s not an attack on a country; it’s an attack on our way of life, on the free society in which we are allowed to live.” (Reporting by Michelle Martin, Caroline Copley, Joseph Nasr, Emma Thomasson, Paul Carrel, Madeline Chambers in Berlin; additional reporting by Shadia Nasralla in Vienna; Writing by Michelle Martin; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 19:54 IST

Sasikala must resist temptation to be Tamil Nadu CM; sycophancy has to be timed well in politics

The rise of VK Sasikala to the post of the AIADMK general secretary in Tamil Nadu after the death of J Jayalalithaa wasn’t unnatural because the latter had never given any indication who her political heir was. Sasikala appeared to be the de facto inheritor as the party hadn’t seen anybody else mixing so closely with their leader.

The logic was simple: if there’s no “Amma” it must be “Chinnamma”. Politically it will work too, because reportedly “Chinnamma” has been handling critical affairs of the party and dealing with senior officers and ministers for quite some time. The other men and women in the party couldn’t have nursed any leadership ambition because under Jaya, all they had been conditioned was to plea, prostrate, and take orders.

But the new development, in which senior party leaders are upping the ante in Sasikala’s favour, is fraught with big risks, if not existential risks for the party. Some of the leaders now want her not just as party general secretary, but also as the chief minister. According to them, the legacy of Jayalalithaa should not stop with the top party post, but should extend to the head of the office too.

The state revenue minister RB Udayakumar, supported by a few others, openly appealed to her to take on the chief minister’s job as well. Udayakumar, who incidentally also heads a party affiliated organisation named after Jaya, said that all the 50 district secretaries of his organisation supported his proposal. Reportedly, such requests are also coming in from various district units of AIADMK and other affiliate associations as resolutions, and leaders from different parts of the state have been meeting Sasikala to persuade her personally. Sasikala has accepted all the resolutions, but hasn’t said anything yet.

Former Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa and her aide Sasikala. PTIFormer Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa and her aide Sasikala. PTI

Former Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa and her aide Sasikala. PTI

Curiously, the demand for Sasikala’s elevation comes at a time when chief minister, O Panneerselvam, the only known Jaya nominee, is in Delhi. Panneerselvam went to Delhi to demand posthumous national honours for Jaya and to request financial assistance to mitigate the damage caused by cyclone Vardah. While he was canvassing for a Bharat Ratna for Jaya and the installation of a life-size bronze statue of her in the parliament, his party and cabinet colleagues are asking Sasikala to take his position. Panneerselvam chose to keep quiet when reporters in Delhi asked him about this development.

Is this a set up?

Clearly something is amiss. Either the opposition to Panneerselvam, which many thought would erupt when he was made the chief minister, is raising its head now or somebody is deliberately playing up Sasikala. There could be three possibilities: one, a group that is jealous of Panneerselvam becoming the chief minister for caste or power reasons wants to bring him down; two, the same group alone or joined by others genuinely feels that Sasikala alone can run the party and the state with an iron fist the way Jaya did; and third, Sasikala herself is writing the script and deploying proxies to act it out it for her. These three scenarios may be operating independent of each other, however the chances of an overlap cannot be ruled out because the script seems to be too simple and too straight to be true. Realpolitik is complex and treacherous.

Whatever be the motive, Sasikala becoming the chief minister will be a big, strategic mistake. The first and, probably, the last folly, if she ever succumbs to the temptation.

Sasikala’s rise to the top of the party would keep her within the party and would let her control it with all the efficiency and sagacity she has; but becoming the de facto executive head of a state with constitutional obligations is an entirely different ballgame. She may have had some reasonable exposure with ministers and senior officers being Jaya’s confidante, but that was, at best, the role of an extra-constitutional proxy. Real rule comes with real roles and accountability, while proxy rule rides on somebody else’s accountability.

Being a chief minister, particularly that of the second largest economy in India which is one of the top FDI destinations, an aspiring welfare state, and home to a number of consular offices, is not easy. It takes vision, statesmanship, ability to wear multiple hats, and the skills of an official deal-maker. Even if one has all these qualities, it should be endorsed by the people of the state, not by party leaders. The template that Sasikala has to fit into is that of Jayalalithaa, who was an exceptionally tall figure in India. She had the knowledge, personality and skills to be a lone ranger and get things done her way. Therefore, if Sasikala becomes the chief minister she cannot escape unfair judgment by both the state and the rest of India. People will be more demanding of Sasikala than of Panneerselvam because the latter has a political constituency and hadn’t asked for the job.

It’s not a worthwhile risk because it can obliterate all that she has on hand now. Being the general secretary — as the legacy holder of Jayalalithaa — is a priceless gift that she should not fritter away by either being ambitious or being persuaded by others. The point to be noted is that even in dynastic politics, all those who made it big – whether it’s Mayawati, Naveen Patnaik or tottering Akhilesh Yadav – were people with both political and administrative skills. There are many examples of people liquidating a legacy because they didn’t have it in them.

Sasikala should be happy as the general secretary because that will let her continue her proxy rule of the state. She will be Jayalalitha by proxy. Having a pliant chief minister, ministers and even key officers will keep her as the real power centre. And the biggest bonus is that she can still stay behind the scenes.

If she indeed has chief ministerial aspirations, probably she should use this period to build an appropriate public persona around her emerging cult and do a calibrated soft launch while keeping her relatives as far away as possible. As Jayalalithaa used to say, “Makkal Theerpae Mahesan Theerpu” (Voice of the people is the voice of God). Unless she gets there, there is no long term future or political safety. In politics, sycophancy and cultism do work, but they have to be timed well. Those big posters of Sasikala that one sees in Chennai and elsewhere in the state don’t have any significance, except an implicit plan in the making, as of now.

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 11:31 IST

Gadchiroli can be naxalfree in five years if other departments give their 100%: Abhinav Deshmukh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>What is your biggest challenge?To win people’s confidence and handle sensitivities of my staff which is not only the largest in the state (5,600) but works in most difficult area. In other districts we deal with other crimes. In Gadchiroli, other crimes are almost nil. Here, apart from fighting with the leftwing extremists, we have to engage with the people in different ways. There is a huge gap between administration and people in this area because of inaccessibility. This vacuum was occupied by the naxals. Now, we have to replace the Naxals and occupy that space with better administration.There are around 12,000 police personnel deployed in the district including C-60, CRPF and SRPF. Still the district is faraway from curbing naxalism. Why?South Gadchiroli is still naxal dominated because of hilly forest terrain. Moreover, we share border with naxal affected districts of Chhattisgarh. While we have been focusing on one district with full force, Chhattisgarh police have to look after six districts with naxal dominance.Don’t we have inter-state collaboration to share the information?We do have joint operations and meetings. But naxals are surviving because of jungle and borders. Over 4,000 sq km of Abujhmarh which is spread between Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh offers safe heaven to naxals.What is the total number of naxals active in this district? What strategies are being adopted to make the district naxal-free?There are 205 active naxals now. While Andhra people hold top posts (in CPI-Maoist), those from Maharashtra are only junior members. Our strategy depends on their tactics. Encounters, arrests, surrenders and confidence building among villagers-all are being used.Is there any effect of demonetisation on Naxalism?Post 8 November, 11 naxals have surrendered in the district. Total surrenders this year has been 44. From making up their mind to sending us feelers and leaving the group and reach to us safely, it usually takes around two months to surrender. We will have to wait for another two-three months to assess the impact of demonetisation on naxals.Tribals often complained of police atrocities. How would you justify that?We have told our people to be extra-sensitive. Some cops do behave irrationally sometimes but such incidents could be very few. Besides, naxal supporters run false propaganda against cops as well.What needs to be done to curb naxalism now?We have controlled naxalims considerably. Its time for other departments to put in their efforts to fill the development backlog. Then only we can curb naxalism.But villagers say there is no government department on ground except police.Other departments suffer with staff shortage. Those who are transferred in this district, don’t join. Hence, government schemes are poorly implemented. Now, we are holding camps to disburse loans, make aadhar cards and caste documents of tribals. People expect us to address every problem. Over 30 villages are unelectrified and some are half electrified.Power outage is very common in rainy season when no body turns up to re-connect. Road connectivity is another major issues. Children seek good eduction. We share all these information with the concerned departments.How many years it would take to curb naxalism from this area?With all government departments coming together to give their best, naxal problem can be wiped out from Gadchiroli district within five years. This is an achievable target.

Rebel Aleppo’s final agony | Reuters

By Suleiman Al-Khalidi and Ellen Francis

AMMAN/BEIRUT As the bombardment of Aleppo intensified in the days before the collapse of the city’s rebel enclave, Mahmoud Issa would try to comfort his terrified children.”My small daughter would sleep with her hands over her ears … I would tell her ‘don’t be afraid, I am next to you.'” Issa told Reuters there was another motive too. “What being close means of course is that we die together, so no one who stays alive would be sad about the others.”Thousands of people trapped in eastern Aleppo faced cold, hunger, destitution and an uncertain wait to leave their city as refugees while government forces seized the last rebel pocket, a major prize in the Syrian war.As reports spread of killings by government soldiers and allied militiamen, denied by Damascus, many were hit by the painful reality that they may never return home.The battle for Aleppo had begun in 2012, a year after the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, but it was only this summer that the army and allied Shi’ite militias backed by Russian air power besieged the rebels’ eastern zone.On Nov. 24, the attackers made a sudden advance prompting retreats by the rebels that ended with their acceptance of a ceasefire and agreement to withdraw last Tuesday.Despite the evacuation of around 10,000 people, many more remained stuck after the agreement broke down, hostage to complex negotiations between armed groups on each side.Images from within the last rebel-held area in recent days showed crowds of people huddling around fires, clothes pulled tight against the bitter weather, seeking shelter among piles of rubble and twisted metal.”NOBODY TO BURY THEM”
“All the residents were crammed in three or four districts. People were in the streets, so any mortar shell that fell caused a massacre. The dead needed somebody to bury them. There was nobody to bury them,” a man in his 40s who was evacuated from the city told Reuters.Like others interviewed for this article, the man asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals. On Wednesday, the area was pummelled by air strikes and artillery fire, a bombardment that reached a climax before midnight.”The shells were falling around us at the rate of my breathing,” said Modar Shekho, a nurse whose father and brother were both killed by bombs in the last two weeks. He escaped Aleppo last week in a convoy to rejoin his family in the rebel-held countryside outside the city.The White Helmets civil defence rescue group, which operates in Syria’s rebel-held areas, had suspended organised service after volunteers were scattered in the retreat and much of its equipment was lost or rendered useless by fuel shortages.”We are working with our hands just to get people from under the rubble,” said Ibrahim Abu Laith, a civil defence official.Bodies were lying in the streets, residents said.

Photographs sent by a medic showed a man in a field clinic picking his way between people lying on the floor under blankets in a corridor with blood smeared on the wall. FAMILIES SEPARATED IN CHAOS
Most people had only a bag or two of possessions with them.”Everyone in Aleppo has moved nearly ten times. There was no longer any place. Every time I move to a house it gets shelled,” said Adnan Abed al-Raouf, a former civil servant.In the chaos, families were split up. Wadah Qadour, a former construction foreman, described how a man carried his bleeding wife looking for help had failed to realise their daughter was not following behind — one of the families separated in the chaos. “The girl was put in an orphanage,” said Qadour. One Reuters photograph showed a mother cradling her child in a blanket as they sat by the side of a road beside rubble.

“It got dark outside. People squatted in the streets, and they started making fires to keep warm. Most people hid from the cold in open shops,” said Shekho, the nurse whose father and brother had died. “Thousands of families slept in the streets waiting for the buses to come back.” Crowds attempted to reach buses on Thursday, when at least three convoys managed to leave Aleppo for the rebel-held areas in countryside to the west.When vehicles arrived at midnight, everybody rushed for a place. “Each of us picked up his stuff and we went right away,” said Shekho. “Thousands of families were crowding into the buses.” He managed to leave Aleppo. Still, thousands of people remain stranded, with estimates as high as tens of thousands. “They were still waiting in the streets and it got really cold and the buses were late,” said another nurse in Aleppo. REPORTS OF KILLINGS
Growing panic centred around unconfirmed reports of summary killings and other accusations of abuses by the army and its allies in captured areas. Five people told Reuters about the same incident involving young men from their neighbourhood in al-Kalasa who had fled into the basement of a clinic. They were not heard of again and their former neighbours were convinced they had been killed in the government advance.

Six other people from the Bustan al-Qasr quarter said they had been told by people who remain that the bodies of nine members of a family called Ajami had been found in a house. Damascus and its allies – which include the Lebanese militia Hezbollah and the Iraqi militia Harakat al-Nujaba – have denied that any mass arrests or summary killings took place. An elderly man told Reuters his identity card had been confiscated at a government check point and he was told to go to a school to collect it. Once there, he and some younger men were put into a room. Soldiers told them they would be killed but at the last minute took him and some others out. Then they heard shooting from inside the room, he said. Reuters was not able to verify the reports independently. HARD CHOICES
For rebels trying to decide what to do in the face of defeat, fear for families and other civilians weighed heavily.After vowing never to leave, rebels acknowledged they had no alternative as bombardments pounded residential areas. They accepted the terms of a withdrawal set out in a U.S.-Russian proposal that offered them safe passage out of the city, after it was presented to them by U.S. officials, rebel officials said. But no sooner had they embraced the idea of surrendering, than Russia declared there was no deal.Rebel commanders decided their only option was to fight to the death, said the commander of the Jabha Shamiya rebel group. “They were very hard days, because we were responsible for civilians – women, children, the elderly,” said Abu Ali Saqour, speaking from eastern Aleppo. Later that night, the army and its allies made another lightning advance, taking the Sheikh Saeed district after intense fighting and pushing the rebels back during the next day to a last tiny pocket. New talks between Russia and Turkey, the main foreign supporter of the rebels, led to a new evacuation deal, but implementation would be halting at best, leaving thousands of people in limbo in freezing temperatures. Yousef al Ragheb, a fighter from the Fastaqim rebel group, was ordered by his commanders to shred stacks of documents and dump equipment from a headquarters. After hearing that the ceasefire was holding, Abdullah Istanbuli, a protester-turned-fighter, spent hours burning his belongings and smashing his furniture to prevent it being looted after he left. “We are burning our memories … No I don’t want any one to live in my house after me,” he said. (Reporting by Suleiman al-Khalidi in Amman and Ellen Francis in Beirut. Additional reporting by Tom Perry and Lisa Barrington in Beirut. Writing by Angus McDowall in Beirut; Editing by Michael Georgy and Peter Millership)

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

First Published On : Dec 19, 2016 21:52 IST

From ATM to Paytm, government must stop taking commission: Mamata hits out at Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Monday the Modi government did not understand the hardship faced by the people who were made “fakir” after demonetization. “Realising the people’s difficulties, Venezuala withdrew the decision on demonetization, but the Modi government doesn’t listen to anyone. It is a deaf and dumb government,” she told a public meeting here. “The common people understand the problem, but the Prime Minister does not. We don’t know when he will realise. By that time the country will be in the grip of a femine,” she added.”The people can’t withdraw their own money. We don’t know whether that is safe”, Banerjee said. Slamming the Centre for promoting a digital economy, the TMC chief said, “they are saying buy this app, buy this mobile. Don’t listen to them. Else you will become fakir”.She further hit out at Modi for dubbing himself a “fakir” and said that the Prime Minister used to describe himself as a “chaiwala” the before the Lok Sabha elections and claimed that now he has turned into a crorepati. “What is the definition of fakir,” Banerjee asked.”Money for the 100 days work should not be paid through Paytm in lieu of commission. From ATM to Paytm, govt must stop taking commission. Centre cannot dictate people where to keep their money,” she said.In an apparent reference to BJP, the chief minister alleged, “they are trying to divide the people in the name of religion when they cannot provide food to them. This will not be tolerated”. She also instructed the state administration to deal with such attempts firmly.”As long as I am alive, I’ll continue to work for the people. Political parties exist because of the people. Without them we are nothing,” Banerjee said.She said a water supply project “Jal Tirtha” worth Rs 1,100 crore had been taken up to irrigate 32,000 hectares of farmland in the district. “We started a university in Bankura. We have launched health centres, polytechnic colleges and Karma Tirthas here,” she added.

Violation of code of conduct: Amit Shah gets clean chit by UP Police

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Uttar Pradesh Police has given clean chit to BJP President Amit Shah in two separate cases of alleged violation of code of conduct during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.While filing the final reports on Saturday, police said there was no evidence against Shah.Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Arun Kumar has fixed dates for filing of objection by the complainants in the two cases.The court has fixed January 17 in Baburam case while January 3 in Ramkumar case for filing of objections, according to the prosecution.Earlier this year the court had returned the final report to police in the Barwar case filed by Baburam, saying they were deficiencies and asked them to rectify it.Police had registered case against Shah on the complaint of the then Sub Divisional Magistrate Baburam under sections 188 IPC (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and 123(3) of Representation of People Act (relating to appeal by a candidate to vote on basis of religion, race, caste, community or language) and on the complaint of Assistant Returning Officer Ram Kumar separately in Kakroli and New Mandi police stations in the district.The BJP leader was accused of making objectionable speeches in Barwar village.Shah had allegedly said that, “If (Narendra Modi) Modi wins, ‘mulla’ Mulayam’s government will fall”.The cases against the BJP leader were registered on the directive of the Election Commission which had banned the leader from campaigning in UP.

Demonetisation: Black money disclosure under PMGKY scheme to kick start tomorrow

In order to fight black money that has been rampant in our economy, the government today announced that voluntary black money declaration under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) will begin starting tomorrow i.e 17 December. People with unaccounted cash can disclose it under PMGKY scheme by paying 50 percent tax and penalty before 31 March, 2017, said Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia.

“We want people to join PM Garib Kalyan Yojana and through this scheme they contribute to welfare of the people. Unaccounted cash can be disclosed under PMGKY that comes with 50 percent tax and penalty starting from tomorrow till 31 March, ’17,” said Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia.

Hasmukh Adhia, Revenue secretary.Hasmukh Adhia, Revenue secretary.

Hasmukh Adhia, Revenue secretary.

In this regard, the President also cleared amendment to the taxation laws.

Meanwhile, CBDT chairman Sushil Chandra also said they have issued around 3,000 notices to people based on the details of deposits in bank accounts. Further, the tax department also conducted searches and seizures in about 291 cases and carried out surveys in 2915 cases, said CBDT chairman.

So far, the tax department through several raids have seized over Rs 316 crore, including Rs 80 crore in new notes besides jewelleries worth Rs 76 crore, taking the total to Rs 393 crore, added CBDT chairman.

The Lok Sabha, which passed the Taxation Laws (2nd Amendment) Bill, 2016, on 29 November, said it proposes to levy a total tax, penalty and surcharge of 50 percent on the amount deposited post demonetisation while higher taxes and stiffer penalty of up to 85 percent await those who don’t disclose but are caught.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said the bill was brought after it came to the government’s notice that some people were trying to illegally exchange the demonetised Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 currency notes. Jaitley said as per the amendment proposed, those caught illegally converting money will have to cough up 60 percent tax plus penalties, which will come to 85 percent.

Those who disclose black money to banks will have to pay 50 percent tax, including surcharge and penalty. While they will get back 25 percent immediately, the rest 25 percent will be returned after 4 years.

First Published On : Dec 16, 2016 17:43 IST

‘Parliament not working is unconstitutional’: Prakash Javadekar questions example being set for students

New Delhi: Expressing displeasure over the ongoing Parliament logjam, Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar on Thursday questioned what will he show to the students of Kendriya Vidyala during their visit to the House.

Javadekar was present at an event to mark the foundation day of the Kendriya Vidyalaya schools.

File photo of Prakash Javadekar. PTI

File photo of Prakash Javadekar. PTI

Criticising the opposition for not letting the parliament function, he said, “Where is the Parliament functioning?” even as he expressed concern over the impact it would make on the school children, who visit Parliament to watch the proceedings.

“I wonder what should I show to the school children from Kendriya Vidyalayas who will come to watch the proceedings. Should I show them what kind of ‘hungama‘ is going on in the Parliament. They come having learnt lessons of discipline but would go back learning indiscipline,” Javadekar said.

“People choose a government after five years and in a Democracy, people’s mandate is above all. And in this way, if the Parliament does not work, this is undemocratic and an insult to the mandate,” he said.

“I think gradually the people’s opinion will create pressure on these people that this won’t do. Everyone has to work and in Parliament you should give your opinion, that is democracy. You should oppose, that too is democracy. But this is no way to not let function an elected government. And my pain is what should I show to the KV students,” Javadekar added.

The HRD minister also announced of a National Conference in education to be held in March and said those who have come up with new innovations and experiments will be felicitated. There will be discussions so that we share best practices, he said.

First Published On : Dec 15, 2016 14:23 IST

Kashmir: Mehbooba Mufti asks security forces to refrain from using pellet guns

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday asked security forces to restrain themselves from using pellet guns and differentiate between stone-pelters/militants and their families, while noting that force was used to deal with law and order in the Valley during the recent unrest.

“When we have to deal with such situation, we have to use force sometimes and I have no hesitation in saying this. We should all speak truth. We had to use force because we had to protect the lives and properties of all the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” she said.

The chief minister was speaking at the passing-out parade of Jammu and Kashmir Police at Commando Training Centre in Lethpora in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

Mehbooba said if force was not used, losses would have been more.

“If we had not done so, there could have been more killings, more losses. But now, our endeavour should be to see towards those people who were confined to their homes because of the situation, strikes and curfew and what they have gone through in these six months,” she said.

The chief minister said now that the situation has improved and the time has come to “change our ways”.

“But now I think that when the situation has improved, the time has come to heal the wounds of the people. Now, we have to change our ways. We have to differentiate between the situation as of on Wednesday and what was four months back. We will have to give special focus to the youth,” she said.

She said security forces have to differentiate between offenders like militants and stone-pelters and their families.

File photo of Mehbooba Mufti. PTI

File photo of Mehbooba Mufti. PTI

“We cannot weigh every youth by the same scale, we cannot see every youth with suspicious eyes, then the situation will not improve. We have to differentiate between militants and their families. We have to differentiate militants from their parents, siblings and children and we cannot weigh them by the same scale.

“If any youth is a habitual stone-pelter, we will have to differentiate between him and his family. You have to differentiate between an elder person involved in such activities and a student and see how to tackle them,” she said.

Mehbooba asked the security forces to exercise restrain while dealing with law and order situations.

“I hope that you will not deject me because I want J-K to prosper again, where guns or pellet guns are not used. I hope that police and security forces try to not use pellet guns. If there is an attack on your camp or police station, then I understand, but if someone throws stones at you, you should try to restrain yourselves till we find an alternative to pellet guns and ban them completely,” she said.

As many as 86 people, including two policemen, have been killed and several thousand others injured in the ongoing unrest in the Valley that began on 9 July, a day after Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter with security forces.

Around 5000 security forces personnel have also been injured in the clashes.

The chief minister said reconciliation was the only way forward in Jammu and Kashmir.

“I am of the belief that there is no way forward in J-K other than reconciliation. PSA and Afspa are temporary and I want you to help me, our government, in creating such an atmosphere in J-K where a time will come when PSA is used only against criminals, drug addicts and smugglers and not against 40-year-old or 80-year-old or 19-year-old or students.

“No one from outside can help us in doing that. We have to help ourselves and in that, the role of police is very important,” she said.

“We had army and security forces here before as well, but when militancy erupted here, Afspa had to be imposed. Now, we all have to try together to create such an atmosphere where such laws like Afspa, PSA or other hard measures are gradually revoked. I or my ministers cannot do this alone, after the role of people of J-K, your role is very important for that,” she said.

Praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his decisions like paying a visit to Lahore and demonetisation, Mehbooba said no other prime minister would have taken such decisions.

“I am hopeful that you will help me in creating such an atmosphere in J-K where there is reconciliation and dialogue. I want to make it clear that the current PM has guts to visit Lahore and he did it despite criticism but unfortunately Pathankot (attack) happened.

“It is this PM who took such a huge decision of demonetisation, knowing that people will face hardships and will be angry for some time. I do not think any other PM would have taken such decisions,” she said.

The chief minister said once peace is established in the state, it can act as a bridge of peace between India and Pakistan.

“If you all help us in creating peace in J-K, then I assure you, the people of J-K, that the way our PM went to Lahore by keeping everything else on the side and offered a hand of friendship, and when there was unrest, he sent a (all-party) delegation from Delhi to listen to people, understand and talk, so if we can create a better situation, then we can create conditions for dialogue with everyone not
only in J-K, but we can act as a bridge of peace between India and Pakistan (as well),” she said.

First Published On : Dec 14, 2016 17:08 IST

Demonetisation is biggest scam of the year, must be investigated: P Chidambram

Former finance minister P Chidambram demanded a special investigation team to probe the arrests involving huge amounts of new currency notes while adressing the press on Tuesday. The senior Congress leader also hit out at the Narendra Modi government saying that the move has broken the back of the people and will have long-term effects on the Indian economy.

Referring to the recent arrests were the authorities found people with lakhs of new notes, the former finance minister called demonetisation the “biggest scam of the year and that it must be investigated”.

“Demonetisation is the worst attack on the poor. The Prime Minister should go out and see for himself the real picture before ATMs. People are angry, but they have no choice but to stand in queues,” he said, adding that demonetisation has affected the livelihood of 45 crore people in the country who depend on daily wages.

Senior Congress leader P Chidambram. AP

The congress MP also questioned the government’s decision to keep District Cooperative Central Banks out of the move. “Because of this, the farmers are suffering, there is no money to buy seeds, to hire labour or buy fertilisers. There’s no money even to buy supplies,” he said.

The Narendra Modi government had demonetised old notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 in a televised announcement on 8 November in order to curb down black money, corruption, fake currency and terror financing. The announcement has led to a cash crunch in the country.

Chidambram also said that the government has been shifting the goal of the move. “First it was black money. They have now found a new goal called cashless economy. But you can’t go from 3 percent cashless to 100 percent cashless in a month. Where are the machines? Where is electricity?” he said.

Terming demonetisation as a case of “khoda pahad nikli chuhiya“, the senior Congress leader alleged that unlike what the government claims, “the move has actually helped bring more black money into the system”.

Answering a question on whether the reduction in interest rates will help the economy, Chidambram said while in a normal economy interest rate going down is good, but it’s not the same for India.

“This is not a normal situation. India is going through a very bad period of tepid growth. Credit growth is lowest in 20 years. The aggregate demand is low; demonetisation has made it even lower. There’s no green investment either. These are the numbers that are relevant. Any government must look at these figures.”

As for inflation, he said that low demand has helped control inflation but the economy won’t surive a long period of low demand. “If there’s no demand, it will affect production. Some factories have already started laying off people,” he said.

The senior Congress leader also attacked the government and it claims that the situation will normalise post 30 December. “The government has withdrawn 23,000 crore notes from the market. To print that many notes, it will need at least seven months time,” he said, adding that the cash crunch will continue.

Chidambram also asked the Reserve Bank of India to release the minutes of the meeting that took place before the 8 November announcement of the move by Prime Minister Modi, saying that it would give the nation a clear idea as to who said what about the move.

First Published On : Dec 13, 2016 13:17 IST

Rahul Gandhi blasts PM Modi over demonetization, compares it with natural calamity

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Congress has upped the ante against PM Narendra Modi’s demonetization move. Following former Finance Minister P Chidambaram’s criticism of the exercise on Tuesday, the party’s VP Rahul Gandhi blasted Modi saying he has waged a war against the people of this nation.Speaking to traders at the Dadri Anaj Mandi in Uttar Pradesh, he said, “PM Modi waged a war against poor people on November 8. Can you see a single rich person standing in queues for cash?”Mocking Modi’s drive to make economy cashless, Gandhi said “PM’s narrative has changed over time, first it was fight against black money, then terrorism and now it’s about making society cashless. PM talks about making the society cashless, society has already become cashless because of this move. People are suffering. The farmers won’t even realise how 5% of their money would go to rich business when they use cashless transactions.””A few big businessmen have taken Rs 8 lakh crore loans from banks, which they are not paying back. PM cannot bring back money from the loan defaulters as they were the ones to market him. Hence, PM has made you stand in lines for banks to function.” Gandhi said.The Gandhi scion also said, “Modi first said that demonetization will work against funding of terrorists but days later militants were caught with new notes. He then said that the move will help fight fake currency issue, but the amount of fake currency is equal to 2 paise of Rs 100.

Chennai: Three youths beaten up for not standing during national anthem in theatre

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Less than a month after the Supreme Court directed cinema halls across the country to play the national anthem in theatres, a youth and two students were allegedly beaten up in a theatre in Chennai for not standing up when the national anthem was being played.According to Times of India, the incident took place in Kasi Theatre in Ashok Nagar. When the national anthem was played and seven to eight people reportedly remained seated.The report said that during the interval, one Vijayakumar grabbed Viji, a freelancing movie reviewer, by the collar and demanded why he did not stand up for the national anthem. In an argument that ensued, 20 people ganged up and rained blows on Viji and two women Sabaritha and Shreela.”We were harassed and manhandled by the men. They issued life threats and assaulted us. We did not have any intention to show disrespect,” Shreela, told the daily.28-year old Vijayakumar who is accused of assaulting them claimed that the group of eight were taking selfies, clapping and whistling when the anthem was played. “Angered by this, along with around twenty others in the theatre, I questioned the group during the interval. And a verbal fight erupted. Immediately the manager from the theatre pacified us and we continued watching the movie along with a security guard,” Vijayakumar told The New Indian Express.”We strongly believe that a cinema hall is not the place to play national anthem and mandatorily ask everyone to stand up for it. We had already decided that we wouldn’t do so,” said Leenus, one of the people in the group, told The NewsMinute.The victims also alleged that none from the audience came to the rescue.”People must feel this is my country and this is my motherland,” a bench of justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy had said while stressing that it was the duty of every citizen of the country to show respect to the national anthem and the flag.

Mumbai: Helicopter crashes in Aarey Colony, two fire tenders rushed to spot; 4 people injured

Mumbai: Helicopter crashes in Aarey Colony, two fire tenders rushed to spot; 4 people injured

A helicopter crashed in Aarey colony in Mumbai on Sunday. Two fire engines were rushed to the spot, reports CNN-News18.

Four people have been injured and have been shifted to a nearby hospital for medical aid, reports ANI, adding that the helicopter Robinson R44′ crashed in the Filter Pada area of Aarey Colony in Goregaon.

The fire has been extinguished, added ANI.

With inputs from PTI

First Published On : Dec 11, 2016 13:26 IST

NSG bid is developmental aspiration, don’t give it political colour: FS Jaishankar to China

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Calling for respecting each other’s legitimate aspirations, India on Friday said China should not give a political colour to New Delhi’s efforts to access civilian nuclear technology, in reference to Beijing’s opposition to its NSG bid.In his address to India China Think-Tanks Forum, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar also pitched for bilateral cooperation in dealing with “fundamentalist terrorism”, expressing dismay over the two countries not being able to come together on the issue at critical international forums. His remarks are seen as a reference to China opposing India’s move to get Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar designated as a global terrorist by the United Nations.Jaishankar also said, “At a time of change, we should obviously pay great attention to strategic communication. This could help avoid misunderstanding and promote greater trust and cooperation.”Without mentioning India’s NSG bid, Jaishankar said there was a need for broad-basing the nuclear technology control group and stressed on deeper Indo-China cooperation on major global issues like implementation of the Paris climate agreement.”In India’s case, predictable access to civilian nuclear energy technology is key. The broad-basing of the nuclear technology control group is also helpful to a more representative international order.”Keeping in mind this solidarity of major developing states, it is important that China view this as a developmental aspiration and not give it a political colouring,” he said. Seeking deeper bilateral engagement, he said “Let us at least respect each other’s strong sense of independence and legitimate aspirations while seeking accommodation and building trust.”Talking about threat of terrorism, he said “As diverse and pluralistic societies, we both face threats from fundamentalist terrorism. Yet, we do not seem to be able to cooperate as effectively we should in some critical international forums dealing with this subject.” The Foreign Secretary, without elaborating, also said “Even on sovereignty, surely there can be more sensitivity and understanding.” In an apparent reference to China not supporting India’s bid for permanent membership of the UNSC, he said, “Though we have a commitment to a more democratic world order, our actions in respect of the reform of the UN Security Council are in contrast to our approaches to usher in a more equitable international economic order through reform of the existing multilateral institutions.”Jaishankar said there was need for greater convergence between the two sides in dealing with various regional and global issues and that both should not see each other as a competitor. “There are few precedents for the near-simultaneous rise of two major powers, that too in close proximity. When these powers have a tangled contemporary relationship, the process becomes even more complicated,” he said, adding “look at the similarities between ‘India as a Leading Power’ and the ‘China Dream'”.Jaishankar said a narrative that both the countries have always been distant from each other was successfully created by western powers which had an interest in doing so. “Although India was among the earliest governments to establish ties and promote cooperation with the People’s Republic of China, the three lost decades compel us to still play catch up with relationships that came very much later.”Viewed from the perspective of our bilateral ties, the progress in the last 28 years since we have normalised ties has been commendable,” he said. He said there has been peace and tranquillity at the Sino-India border while both sides agreed on political parameters and guiding principles for settlement of the boundary question. “Inevitably, challenges that emanate from differential logistical capabilities and a lack of commonly agreed line of actual control continue. But hopefully, as these gaps narrow, we will see a greater stability that would be helpful towards arriving at a final boundary solution,” he added.Talking about bilateral trade, he said there has been efforts to bridge the trade deficit which is in China’s favour. The Foreign Secretary said in recent years, Sino-India ties were projected and analysed by some quarters in primarily competitive terms. “This is an imbalance picture, if only because it ignores the substantive cooperation that we have so painstakingly developed in so many fields,” he said adding, “one obstacle to developing greater common ground is an undue attachment to the concept of balance of power.” “Major powers have to work with each other even if their interests diverge on some issues. Those powers who have more distance between them will be at a disadvantage in such a situation. It is in the mutual interest of India and China not to be in that predicament,” he said.The Foreign Secretary said policy changes on the Indian side have significantly improved the investment conditions for Chinese companies in India. “In fact, the sharpest change in FDI commitments since 2014 has been by Chinese companies a testimony, in equal measure, to their confidence and our openness,” he added.

For God’s sake, do your job: President blasts MPs for stalling Parliament

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> In a stinging attack on the opposition over Parliamentary paralysis, President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday said the House is not a place for dharna and disruption which amounts to “gagging of majority” by the minority.He told Parliamentarians that they are meant to discuss and transact business and not to disrupt.”Disruption is totally unacceptable in Parliamentary system. People send representatives to speak and not to sit on dharna and not to create any trouble on the floor,” he said speaking on “Electoral reforms for a stronger democracy” on the occasion of Defence Estates Day Lecture here. Himself a veteran Parliamentarian before he became the President, Mukherjee said, “Disruption means you are hurt, you are gagging majority. Majority never participates in this disruption. Only minority comes to the well, shouts slogans, stops the proceedings and creates a situation in which the Chair has no option but to adjourn the House. This is totally unacceptable”.Mukherjee’s sharp attack on Parliamentary disruption comes in the midst of paralysis of Parliament for over a fortnight over the issue of demonetization.The President noted that Parliament is in session for only a few weeks in a year. “For demonstration, you can choose any other places. But for God’s sake, do your job. You are meant to transact business. You are meant to devote your time for exercising the authority of members, particularly Lok Sabha members over money and finance,” he said. Maintaining that he is not targeting any single party or individuals, he said the responsibility is of everyone.”Fact remains that this (disruption) has become a practice which should not be acceptable at all. Whatever be the differences, we have the opportunity, to speak our mind, to speak freely and no court can interfere in what I say on the floor of the House,” he said. Mukherjee said that even if a member is levelling an allegation against someone, no court can prosecute him because he has said so on the floor of the House.”This type of freedom should not be misused by causing disruption,” he said.

We are with Hurriyat till they are on right track: Farooq Abdullah

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Opposition National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah on Monday said his party was not against Hurriyat Conference and supported the Kashmiri people’s demand for their rights but it would not tread the “wrong path” for achieving these goals.Addressing his party workers at a function to commemorate the 111th birth anniversary of his father and party founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah at Hazratbal, he asked the Hurriyat leaders not to go separate ways saying “be united and we are also standing with you”. “Do not think of us as your enemies, we are not. But we are not ready to tread the wrong path. So, I am telling you from this sacred place that you (Hurriyat) move forward, we are with you till your steps are on the right track and till you take this nation forward in a right manner,” he said. However, later talking to reporters, Abdullah said the issue was not whether he was with the Hurriyat or not.”This agitation which talks about demanding the rights of the people of Kashmir, NC is with them on this to the extent of they talking about rights. We neither were nor are against (demanding) the rights,” he said.The former Union minister said the people talking of “freedom” were indulging in propaganda. He also said the “fire” in the Valley would not be extinguished till India and Pakistan do justice with the people of the state.”Remember this, till this fire is there, it cannot be extinguished till India and Pakistan do justice with us, with the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. The more they try to extinguish this fire, the more it will rise,” he said.He asked his party workers not to be away from “this struggle”. “We are a part of this struggle. We have fought regularly for the interests of this Valley,” he said.Responding to his criticism by the BJP over his recent remarks over India’s claim on PoK, Abdullah said he has never spoken anything against the country.”Farooq Abdullah has never spoken anything anti-national. This (Kashmir) issue is not my creation. This issue is from 1948, it is not anything new. It is still in the UN Security Council. It is in the agreement between India and Pakistan which Indira Gandhi as Prime Minister of India and Zulfikar Bhutto as Prime Minister of Pakistan signed that Kashmir issue would be resolved through dialogue,” he said. He said both the countries would have to resolve their issues through dialogue.”I do not know anything about whether they (Pakistan Prime Minister s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz and NSA Ajit Doval) talked or not. But one day both the countries will have to resolve their issues through dialogue. There is no other way,” he said. He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi wishes to solve this issue and “I hope one day he will talk to Pakistan as there is no other option”.”Both the countries should exhibit restraint. When border skirmishes happen, people on both sides suffer losses. Both are parts of Kashmir,” he said. Commenting on the Prime Minister’s remarks at a Jalandhar rally that he was determined to stop the flow of water into Pakistan and bring it for farmers of Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir, Abdullah said people of India were “befooled”.”People of India were befooled. What did Modi say in Jalandhar? He said he will stop Pakistan’s water. Which rivers has he stopped water from?” he said.

Even beggars in India have gone cashless post demonetisation, says PM Modi

Moradabad: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today referred to a WhatsApp video showing a beggar using a swipe machine to persuade people to shift to digital monetary transactions, insisting Indians do not take long to accept new things if they know the intention behind an action is right.

“I don’t know how far it is true but there is a video going viral on Whatsapp of a beggar being told by a man that though he wanted to help, he does not have change,” Modi told in BJP’s Parivartan rally.

“The beggar asks him not to worry and takes out a swipe machine and asks for his debit card,” the Prime Minister said as the crowd burst into peals of laughter.

Image courtesy Twitter/ BJP for UP

Image courtesy Twitter/ BJP for UP

He said Indians do not take long to accept new things if they are told the intentions are right.

Amidst chants of “Modi-Modi” by the audience, the Prime Minister referred to hundreds of villages which do not have power, even 70 years after Independence.

“People in villages also want to see TV, they also like to see ‘saas-bahu’ serial but as there is no electricity how can they see it,” Modi said, referring to the popular TV show.

The government has said money recovered from those hoarding it post demonetisation exercise would be used for people’s welfare like infrastructure development.

Replying to the opposition’s charge that farmers have been hit hard by demonetisation and sowing has been affected, he said, “I especially want to thank farmers who despite all problems have not allowed sowing to be affected, it has rather gone up from last time.”

“They (opposition parties) are misleading people, creating an atmosphere of pessimism,” he said.

Taking a dig at those who have been attacking him over the move, he said, “Some people have lost glow on their faces, earlier they used to chant money-money, now they are chanting Modi-Modi.”

First Published On : Dec 3, 2016 19:34 IST

If beggar can use a swiping machine, India can go digital: PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Prime Minister Narendra Modi referred to a WhatsApp video showing a beggar using a swipe machine to persuade people to shift to digital monetary transactions, insisting Indians do not take long to accept new things if they know the intention behind an action is right. “I don’t know how far it is true but there is a video going viral on Whatsapp of a beggar being told by a man that though he wanted to help, he does not have change,” Modi told BJP’s Parivartan Rally . “The beggar asks him not to worry and takes out a swipe machine and asks for his debit card,” the Prime Minister said as the crowd burst into peals of laughter.He said Indians do not take long to accept new things if they are told the intentions are right. Amidst chants of “Modi-Modi” by the audience, the Prime Minister referred to hundreds of villages which do not have power, even 70 years after Independence.”People in villages also want to see TV…they also like to see ‘saas-bahu’ serial but as there is no electricity how can they see it,” Modi said, referring to the popular TV show.The government has said money recovered from those hoarding it post demonetizationexercise would be used for people’s welfare like infrastructure development.Replying to the opposition’s charge that farmers have been hit hard by demonetizationand sowing has been affected, he said, “I especially want to thank farmers who despite all problems have not allowed sowing to be affected…it has rather gone up from last time.” “They (opposition parties) are misleading people, creating an atmosphere of pessimism,” he said. Taking a dig at those who have been attacking him over the move, he said, “Some people have lost glow on their faces…earlier they used to chant money-money, now they are chanting Modi-Modi.”

EC reviewing laws to cleanse political funding: Chief Election Commissioner

New Delhi: The Election Commission (EC) is working towards a “comprehensive review” of the election laws as it is “eagerly awaiting” government’s response on its slew of proposals to decriminalize politics and cleanse political funding, CEC Nasim Zaidi said here today.

The poll watchdog, he said, is also seeking to empower itself to countermand elections in cases of money power abuse, drawing from the recent experience of Tamil Nadu elections where candidates in countermanded polls contested again with impunity.

Zaidi, while delivering inaugural address at the ‘National Interactive Conference on Electoral Laws’, said the legal researchers of the poll body, in collaboration with legal luminaries and institutions, are working to address the need for a comprehensive review of the Representation of People (RP) Act.

“Electoral reforms is another important area which needs to be addressed in a very systematic manner. We are happy to release a compilation of 47 proposals of electoral reforms sent by the Commission from time to time for law making.

“These have also been examined by Law Commission and many proposals of EC have been endorsed for legislation,” he said.

Election Commission of India building. IBNlive

Election Commission of India building. IBNlive

Zaidi said while he understands that the recommendations made by the EC and Law Commission in this regard are being “scrutinised” by a task force in the Law Ministry, their “outcome is eagerly awaited”.

“Of these, recommendations pertaining to decriminalization of politics, prevention of abuse of money, transparency in funding of political parties, making bribery a cognisable offence, criminalising paid news, empowering EC to countermand election in cases of bribery and abuse of money in election on the lines of countermanding in event of booth capturing are important,” he said.

The CEC went on to add that it was important to undertake a “comprehensive review” of the RP Act in view of issues and challenges that have been thrown up before it from time to time and hence the poll body should “come up with a draft RP Bill which can then go through the motion of examination by competent authority in due course to time”.

He added that such a review of the said Act is “overdue for past few decades”.

Recounting the Tamil Nadu instance, he said “if law had been amended in time enabling EC to countermand elections on account of abuse of money or bribery, it would have served as a deterrence in the recently held elections.”

“So, it is a classical example how a challenge thrown in one set of election needed legal amendment to plug loopholes in subsequent cases and how it led to litigation,” he said, adding many writ petitions were filed in the Madras High Court in this incident.

The CEC said while election disputes have gone down after Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) were introduced, the legal fraternity needs to study the present trend of number of disputes like in the nomination process, campaign and corrupt practises under the RP Act and find ways to “minimise” them.

First Published On : Dec 3, 2016 18:01 IST

World AIDS Day: United by HIV, those living with the condition build support systems

“You realise that the disease eats away at your very being. I’ve seen many girls come into Budhwarpet completely healthy, and then slowly, become sicker. Before HIV, I thought being positive was a great thing,” says Ranjana Devi.

Devi is not HIV positive, but she oversees the workings of a community organisation in Budhwarpet in Pune that administers health and social welfare services for female sex workers — a group that is immensely vulnerable given the nature of their work.

I meet Devi and many others like her in October 2015 during a capacity building workshop for leaders from various community organisations. And thus, began my annus mirabilis of working with over 1,20,000 key population individuals, through 84 community organisations, vulnerable to HIV and AIDS, consisting of female sex workers, gay men and transgenders.

Sex workers mark World AIDS Day in Kamathipura, Mumbai's red light district in 2014. Reuters

Sex workers mark World AIDS Day in Kamathipura, Mumbai’s red light district in 2014. Reuters

Sarala Tai, a board member of another community organisation, is carrying an eight-year-old “positive” girl. This girl’s mother was a street-based sex worker in Kolhapur, who died due to the lack of access to antiretroviral therapy (ART). In between the workshop, Sarala Tai tells me: “Aisa hi hai na, Madam. Yeh auratein chali jati hain aur bachha mujhe chhor jatin hain. Kya karungi main iska? Kaam bhi nahi sikha sakti (These women die and leave their children to me. What will I do with her? I cannot even make her learn the trade).”

Months later, in Rajamundry in Andhra Pradesh, I sense no despair in Nupur, a helpdesk facilitator. “HIV paas laya hum sab ko. CO (community organisation) kaise hota phir?” (HIV has brought us together. How else would our CO have existed?).

Harping on a similar note, in February 2016, Malavika, the President of the Idayam Thirunangaigal Munettra Sangam (ITMS), Namakkal — a community organisation for transgenders and gay men tells me: “(…) programme ne pehchaan di hai, madam (the HIV/AIDS programme bestowed us with identity).”

Stigma and discrimination is an everyday reality for the vulnerable

What I know of HIV and AIDS is through occasional field visits, pivot tables and legal declarations. With a background in gender-based violence in conflict areas, my lens is generally myopic — I often look at violent incidents against community members isolated from the looming lentivirus itself. But this is fast changing. Every day, stories of unbearable stigma and discrimination is slowly opening my eyes.

Obula, president of a female sex worker community organisation in Kadiri, Andhra Pradesh, recounted an incident of child sexual abuse in her jurisdiction from two years ago. The child was raped by influential people and left to die, she said. No stakeholders — neither the police nor lawyers from the Legal Aid Clinic — were ready to help because her mother, a sex-worker with an HIV positive status, would never stand a chance in front of a politician’s son.

An HIV positive sex worker in Sholapur, Shahnaz’s life’s earnings amounting to over Rs 3 lakhs were taken away by her gharwali — the brothel madam — because she was a victim of the disease. The gharwali emotionally and physically abused her in the course of the recovery of the money. The community organisation’s members stood by her side throughout the process of reporting the crime and battled the stigma and discrimination. And in the end, she received her money back.

Representational image. Reuters

“People who are affected by HIV are all living with an inferiority complex,” says Surbhi, who is gender-fluid and HIV positive. “They don’t say it openly, but I have said it. As far as I am concerned, I don’t have anything more in life. I have to be open. Basically, I’m an open type of person. Everybody knows, that I talk openly. So, I will talk about everything and put up with everything. If anyone beats me, I will take it, if someone scolds me, I will accept it. But everyone will not be like that. People who live in society, live under the blanket of prestige. I’m not in that blanket, so I don’t take it as something big,” she adds.

Community Organisations Born out of HIV Programmes

“The disease has claimed lives but it has also given us each other. This condition brings friends. I plan to write poetry on this and share with you,” says Vijji from Thiruvallur. Vijji is gender-fluid. She has lost a few friends to the virus, and finds solace in art and poetry.

A constant victim of ridicule and discrimination, Vijji was always different and understood the trauma of the HIV-positive population. “Community organisations help overcome the trauma and look ahead towards the future. Ironically, community organisations would not exist if HIV did not. It is odd, isn’t it?” she says.

Ushodaya Mahila Sangam (UMS) is a community organisation for female sex workers in Telangana. A total of 13 People Living with HIV (PLHIVs) are a part of UMS, and the team at UMS wanted to ensure a sustained arrangement of nutrition for them. They reached out to the Mandal Revenue Officer who in turn helped connect them with the Ration Dealers Association. The Ration Dealer Association and the team had a meeting where UMS explained the concept of vulnerability reduction to the president of the association and discussed how he could help them do more for these 13 most vulnerable. Since then, UMS has been receiving rice and wheat for its PLHIV members from the members of the Ration Dealers Association and an unflinching support from its president on all occasions.

Then there’s Sree Shakti Sangam (SSS) in Tirupati, which moved mountains for an HIV positive couple who fell in love and married in 2011. The SSS team reached out to the couple when the man’s CD4 count decreased to 22 and he needed to go for the second line treatment. Due to his deteriorated health condition, he was unable to work for over two months and needed urgent medical care. The team took proactive steps to raise money to ensure insurance to meet costs and ensured that their child was tested for HIV. At this point, the SSS team also explained to the couple about the benefits of insuring in PMJJBY and PMSBY schemes. They discovered that while he has a bank account, he does not have any money deposited in it. They decided to gather money from the community and got him insured him under the schemes of PMJJBY and PMSBY. Currently, the family is living happily with proper care and treatment and is confident about giving a bright future to their daughter who is not HIV positive

Peer Networks Serve as the Backbone of Community Support

The community is at the centre of the HIV response and intervention. For this, at the grassroots, a unique camaraderie exists within community members, which is capitalised on the ground to seamlessly connect members with services. Whether it is reporting and redressal of a violent incident or opening a bank account, or using government welfare services, the first point of contact is always another community member — an individual who has seen it all, and wants to reach out to others like her.

Since 2004, with the commencement of HIV/AIDS programmes, a cadre of women leaders have emerged as well. The objective of these programmes was to reduce the risk and vulnerability from HIV/AIDS infections, but in the process, it gave rise to a collective of sex workers who began questioning discriminatory legal and political frameworks. Since 2014, 2,130 women have assumed the role of women’s rights defenders within 71 community organisations in 47 districts spread across Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. These women are the basic structure of the community organisations and the primary advocates of human rights in the districts where they work. They are also usually the first responders to any instance of gender-based violence in their jurisdiction.

Sudha, a sex-worker who is HIV positive, was shunned by her in-laws. Living in Shahada Town with her son and daughter in law, she gave up sex work recently because of immense support from her peers at the community organisation. They regularly counselled her, provided her with nutrition and also supported her with financial planning. After struggling for years as a sex-worker and depending on others for financial resources, today, Sudha is no longer financially dependent. She has her own Kirana store.

Acceptance of diverse identities

In my opinion, what the HIV programme did was bring much-needed acceptance to a plethora of identities and sexual orientations and also offered space for movements and advocacy. For Malavika, a transgender, the programme gave her an identity. Her family disowned her, but the community and the community organisation embraced her with open arms, as did many stakeholders. She has advocated for the Transgender Bill, like many others in her community, and believes that this would not have been encouraged without the HIV programme in place.

Representational Image. Reuters

Representational Image. Reuters

Nayan who is gay, and secretly a part of a Jamat system in Theni, could come out to his parents when they were discussing HIV treatment. During the course of his life, Nayan has studied hotel management in the UK, where homosexuality is no longer looked down upon. He came back to India only when he realised that conditions for LGBTQI were becoming better. He participates in queer prides across India and hopes that one day, in his future, homosexuality and same-sex marriage in India will be legal.

I’ve been a part of the HIV programme for a little more than a year, and for a year, I’ve seen my life change little by little every day. In between field visits, the wait for HIV/AIDS Bill to get parliamentary approval and the faces of countless HIV-vulnerable community members, often my heart sinks: the United Nations and other international organisations, time and again, talk about eradicating the disease by 2030, but financial resources in the sector continue to dwindle. But in the middle of field visits, sometimes unnamed faces come to me and smile, and I retrieve my inspiration to work for them, with them.

First Published On : Dec 1, 2016 14:29 IST

BJP hails SC verdict on national anthem

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Welcoming the Supreme Court’s order on national anthem, BJP on Wednesday said it will strengthen the spirit of nationalism and the idea of ‘Ek Bharat, Shrestha Bharat’.The apex court today directed that cinema halls across the country must play the national anthem before the screening of a film and people should stand up as a mark of respect. “BJP welcomes this order and commend the court for this. It will strengthen the spirit of nationalism. National anthem and tri-colour unite us as a nation and this unity will be further strengthened,” party’s National Secretary Shrikant Sharma said. A strong national spirit will help India become a ‘vishwa guru’ (world leader), he said.BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli said the order is a reminder to people that they should have affection and duty towards national institutions and symbols. “Its a welcome order. Of late, there has been certain controversies. People are not standing up in cinema halls when national anthem is being played. “The SC has adjudicated and passed an order in terms of it. That has to be welcomed. It is a reminder to people that we have to have affection and duty towards our national institutions and symbols,” Kohli said.The Supreme Court also directed that the national flag should be shown on screen when the anthem is played. “People must feel this is my country and this is my motherland,” a bench of justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy said while stressing that it is the duty of every citizen of the country to show respect to the national anthem and the flag.Directing that its order be shown in electronic and print media and be followed in letter and spirit, the court said, “Time has come when people should feel they live in a nation.”

Modi has surpassed Tuglaq and Hitler: Mamata Banerjee hits out against demonetizaton

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Charging the Prime Minister with flouting the constitutional rights of people by bringing in demonetization, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who today took her protest to Uttar Pradesh, dared him to declare his bank account details before seeking information from other BJP leaders. “Modiji has surpassed (Muhammad bin) Tuglaq and Hitler…he has flouted the constitutional rights of common people,” the Trinamool Congress chief said at a rally against demonetization organised jointly with the ruling Samajwadi Party. Vowing to fight till demonetization is rolled back, Banerjee said, “The fight against note ban will continue till this decision is revoked as note culling has shut shops, markets and agricultural operations.” Daring the Prime Minister to first declare his own bank account details and of BJP president Amit Shah, Banerjee said, “Modi has asked BJP MPs and MLAs to give details of their bank accounts, but he needs to start with himself and BJP president Amit Shah.”Just before demonetization, large number of properties have been bought in the name of BJP and its president,” she alleged referring to media reports claiming that BJP bought several pieces of land, worth crores of rupees, in Bihar weeks ahead of the demonetization declaration on November 8.Terming the demonetization move as a “big scam” and “black emergency”, Banerjee exhorted the people to make the campaign against it a ‘people’s movement’ and termed it as a ‘freedom struggle’ which should not be given up “as there is a danger to country’s freedom because of Modi”.Coining the slogan “note-bandi wapas lo, nahi to Modiji wapas jao (take back demonetization, or Modi go back),” she alleged that after depositing the money of BJP, RSS and Bajrang Dal in foreign banks and attacking common people, the Prime Minister is now set to snatch the houses and lands of common people in the coming days.”Hindustan will not be run as per the whims of one individual but its people…he (Modi) is forcing things on people and this had not happened even during the dark days of Emergency,” she alleged. Modi’s promise of bringing back black money stashed away in foreign banks, the West Bengal Chief Minister alleged that instead of fulfilling it, he foisted numerous hardships on the poor and unemployed without formulating any backup plan. “Had I been in Modi’s place, I would have rolled back the decision,” she said, adding demonetization was a matter of concern for the entire nation and the Opposition is united against it in the Parliament, and in Uttar Pradesh TMC and SP have come together. She also expressed gratitude towards Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav for sending his ministers and helping in organising the rally. Earlier, SP national vice president and Rajya Sabha MP Kiranmoy Nanda said his party was with TMC on the issue. “People of the state will undertake surgical strikes in the coming elections on the BJP which raised hue and cry over surgical strikes after going back on its promise of bringing back black money from foreign accounts,” Nanda said. He alleged that Centre has got savings earned through hard work deposited in banks, terming it as black money, to offset the loss suffered by them due to people like Vijay Mallya.UP minister Arvind Singh Gope, who reached the rally with a message from Akhilesh, said that like all her earlier struggles, Banerjee will win this fight against demonetizationas well.”The Centre has taken this step to mislead people in view of the coming Assembly polls in many states,” Gope alleged, adding it is for the first time in history that people are not able to withdraw their own money from banks.

‘Unable to hold connection of jallikattu with right of freedom of religion’: SC rejects TN’s review plea

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court has dismissed the Tamil Nadu government’s plea seeking review of its 2014 verdict banning use of bulls for jallikattu events in the state and bullock-cart races across the country, saying that there was no connection of jallikattu with the right to freedom of religion under the Constitution. A bench of justices Dipak Misra and RF Nariman observed that when a bull is “tamed” for the purpose of an event, “the fundamental concept runs counter to the welfare of the animal which is the basic foundation of PCA (Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) Act”. “We are unable to hold that there is any connection or association of jallikattu with the right of freedom of religion in Article 25,” it said. The apex court said there was a “frontal collision and apparent inconsistency” between the PCA Act and the Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act, 2009.”It is inconceivable that a bull which is a domestic animal should be tamed for entertainment and a wide ground can be put forth that it is not a ticketed show, but meant for celebrating the festival of harvest.”Such a celebration for giving pleasure to some, both the participating and the people watching it is such an act that is against the welfare of animals and definitely amount to treating the animal with cruelty,” the bench said. It also dealt with the arguments advanced by senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, appearing for Tamil Nadu, who had said that every festival has the root in religion and when jallikattu is an event that takes place after harvest, it has religious flavour and such an ethos cannot be disregarded.”Though the aforesaid argument is quite attractive, we have no hesitation in saying that such an interpretation is an extremely stretched one and inevitably result in its repulsion and we do so. Such kind of imaginative conception is totally alien to the fundamental facet of Article 25 and, therefore, we are compelled to repel the submission,” it said. “In view of the aforesaid analysis, we do not perceive any merit in this review petition filed by the State of Tamil Nadu and, accordingly, it stands dismissed,” the bench said.The apex court had on January 21 dismissed similar pleas for re-examination of the 2014 judgement. The court, during in-chamber proceedings, had dismissed the review petitions filed by some residents of Tamil Nadu seeking reconsideration of the ban order on the controversial bull-taming sport. On January 8, the Centre had issued a notification lifting the ban on jallikattu in Tamil Nadu with certain restrictions, which was challenged in the apex court by Animal Welfare Board of India, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India, a Bangalore-based NGO and others.The apex court had stayed the notification. Jallikattu, also known eruthazhuvuthal, is a bull-taming sport played in Tamil Nadu as a part of the Pongal harvest festival. The court in its 2014 judgement had said that bulls cannot be used as performing animals, either for jallikattu events or bullock-cart races in the states of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra or elsewhere in the country and banned their use across the country.The apex court had declared Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act, 2009 as constitutionally void, being violative or Article 254(1) of the Constitution.

‘We thought people would understand’: Left Front red-faced after demonetization protest falls flat

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The Left Front was left red-faced as its 12-hour strike to protest the Centre’s demonetization of high-denomination currency notes failed to evoke much response from the people, with front chairman Biman Bose acknowledging that the “thought” behind it was wrong. “We thought that the people would understand the reason behind the strike. The thought we had was not right; it was wrong. We have understood this. We will take lessons from it in the future. We will discuss it at the party meetings,” he candidly told reporters. However, Bose argued that the strike was called at a “very short notice”.”We hope the people will understand next month why we had called the strike. Banks, ATMs are out of money, so how will they run their families in the days to come? It is a complex issue which the people will understand from their personal experiences,” he said.The strike was announced by the Left parties at 8 pm on November 25 after an urgent meeting called by the front. It failed to evoke much response since government and private buses, trams and other modes of transport, including private vehicles, were seen plying on the roads normally, while most of the shops and markets remained open.Train services of the Eastern Railway in Sealdah and Howrah sections, besides Metro Rail services, were also normal, Railway sources said.Bose said the strike was called to protest the Centre’s decision to demonetise high-value currency notes and demand more time for the masses to tide over the hardship.”We had never demanded a rollback of the decision as the TMC had. We are not against unearthing of black money. What we had demanded was more time for the people to absorb the effects of the decision,” he added.Arch rival Trinamool Congress, which too is against the Centre’s move, said it was good that the Left Front had understood the “futility” of calling strikes.TMC secretary-general Partha Chatterjee said, “It is good that they have understood the basic fact that the people are fed up with strikes and bandhs. A strike puts a lot of economic burden on the state. We too had opposed the demonetiazion and demanded a rollback. They could have taken out a rally. But no, as TMC had a rally scheduled for today, they called a strike.” Terming as “flop show” the nationwide strike and protest calls given by opposition parties today, BJP said people have rejected both as they have no faith in “tainted” parties behind them.”People have rejected those who support black money and corruption and appreciated the efforts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi against black money and corruption. The leaders behind the calls for ‘Bharat Bandh’ and ‘Jan Aakrosh Diwas’ are tainted and have been rejected by people,” BJP National Secretary Shrikant Sharma said.The Congress President and the vice president are involved in the National Herald case and out on bail, he said and alleged that the Saradha scam had tainted TMC chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.The Samajwadi Party is running its government in Uttar Pradesh with the support of land and mining mafias, while BSP chief Mayawati is accused of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) scam, he alleged, targeting opposition parties behind the ‘Jan Aakrosh Diwas’ call.Attacking Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, he said his party’s MLAs are accused of various crimes and added it appears that the black money he had kept has gone waste with demonetiazion of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.”Any call given by such leaders was bound to flop. BJP expresses its thanks to people for rejecting these parties,” Sharma said. Accusing the Centre of being “anti-poor”, non-BJP parties hit the streets across the country to protest against scrapping of high currency notes disrupting normal life in Left-ruled states of Kerala and Tripura where a bandh was observed.As the Centre’s demonetisation drive completes three weeks, the protests were staged as part of the opposition’s ‘Jan Aakrosh Divas’.Terming as “flop show” the nation-wide strike and protest calls given by the opposition parties, the BJP said people have rejected both as they have no faith in “tainted” parties behind them.While the Left constituents called a 12-hour bandh, other parties including Congress and TMC only held protests. JD(U) and BJD did not participate in the protests.Hundreds of workers from various Opposition parties, led by DMK, were arrested when they staged protests across Tamil Nadu. The parties slammed the ban on Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes as a “war on rural poor” that was causing “hardship” to the common man.DMK Treasurer M K Stalin, state secretaries of CPI-M and CPI G Ramakrishnan and R Mutharasan respectively, along with a several workers of their parties were among those arrested when they staged protests separately in front of central government offices and nationalised banks, police said.During their protest in the national capital, seven Left parties including the CPI(M) and CPI decried the invalidation of old currency notes as “anti-poor and pro-corporate” and demanded that the government let people use these notes until it makes new notes available.Gwalior district Congress President Darshan Singh died of cardiac arrest in Gwalior soon after submitting a memorandum during the ‘Jan Aakrosh Diwas’ protest. Gwalior Divisional Commissioner S N Roopla said Singh was part of a Congress delegation which came for submitting the memorandum to him.In Kerala, the ruling CPI(M)-led LDF sponsored 12-hour strike against demonetisation evoked a near total response.Shops and business establishments downed shutters and state- run KSRTC and private buses kept off the roads across the state in response to the strike which began at 6 AM.The Left Democratic Front took out marches at various places with state CPI-M Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan here attacking the Centre for causing ‘hardship’ to the people in the name of its crackdown on black money. The Opposition Congress-led UDF, which did not participate in the hartal, took out a march to the Raj Bhavan instead to register its protest against the Centre’s decision to scrap high value notes and consequent crisis in the state’s cooperative sector.Ruling Congress in Karnataka held protests and rallies throughout the state against demonetisation. The protest affected the functioning of both the Houses of Karnataka Legislature, now in a 10-day winter session at Belagavi, as they did not sit today in line with the decision taken by the Business Advisory Committee (BAC).Life in Bengaluru and elsewhere remained normal with commercial establishments, educational institutions, banks and private offices working as usual and public transport and Metro maintaining their regular services.The state-wide 12-hour strike called by Left parties to in West Bengal failed to evoke much response. Government and private buses, trams and other private vehicles were seen plying on the road while most of the shops and markets were open. The strike call by the Left Front has been opposed by the ruling TMC.Train services of Eastern Railway in Sealdah and Howrah sections, besides Metro Rail services were also normal.Normal life was hit in Left-ruled Tripura with schools, colleges and shops remaining closed and vehicles staying off the roads. However, banks were open as they were out of the purview of the bandh.In Maharashtra, Congress and NCP hit the streets though normal life remained unaffected with no disruption to public transport or functioning of offices and businesses in Mumbai and other parts. P

Delhi Queer Pride Parade: LGBTQ community rally for a ‘life without fear’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Draped in rainbow colours, hundreds of people on Sunday marched in the heart of the national capital for the 9th Queer Pride Parade to show solidarity with the LGBTQ community in making a united call for equality of gender and sexuality and seeking “a life without fear”.Organised by the Delhi Queer Pride Committee, the march kicked off from the corner of Barakhamba Road and Tolstoy Marg here, and saw members of the community as well as their friends and family members turn out with placards, masks and costumes.”Pride is an inter-mingling of many movements – feminism, anti-caste movements, for free speech, so this march is important as it is a united call for a prejudice-free India,” one of the participants said, requesting anonymity.Another participant, Delhi University student Esha, said unlike earlier occasions, it is important for queer people this year to shout back equally louder to combat “noise from homophobic groups and an unfriendly government”.”I’m not out yet so I tend to keep a low profile at LGBTQ events, but this year pride is important as a show of strength more than ever because noise from homophobic groups and an unfriendly government seems to have become louder. It is important that we as queer people should shout back equally louder,” Esha said.One of the organisers, Rituparna Borah, said this year’s parade saw a greater participation than the last year, with around 800-1,000 people turning out.”People from all walks of life, identifying with different sexual orientations and genders took part in the parade, that culminated at Jantar Mantar,” another organiser said.While the focus of the ‘pride’ has been the repeal of Section 377 that criminalises same-sex unions and the demand for dignity for people who do not conform to society’s ideas of sexual orientation or gender, different movements joined the parade this year in solidarity with the LGBTQ community.This year’s march was also in support of Dalits, Muslims, women, disabled, Kashmiris, people in the North-East, Adivasis, academics, filmmakers and students, according to an earlier statement on the Facebook page created for the event.The march saw demands being voiced by a wide section of society – from the demand to live free of fear to calls to break down patriarchal mindsets.”More than ever, we assert that our pride is inextricably tied to a broader demand for freedom and dignity for all,” a statement said.A participant, who works with a private company here, said, “We want to live without fear of any kind of repercussion from our family and from the workplace because of the gender we identify with. It is important to live a life without fear.”

Delhi Queer Pride Parade: Hundreds march seeking ‘a life without fear’

New Delhi: Draped in rainbow colours, hundreds of people on Sunday marched in the heart of the national capital for the 9th Queer Pride Parade to show solidarity with the LGBTQ community in making a united call for equality of gender and sexuality and seeking “a life without fear”.

Organised by the Delhi Queer Pride Committee, the march kicked off from the corner of Barakhamba Road and Tolstoy Marg and saw members of the community as well as their friends and family members turn out with placards, masks and costumes.

“Pride is an inter-mingling of many movements — feminism, anti-caste movements, for free speech, so this march is important as it is a united call for a prejudice-free India,” one of the participants said, requesting anonymity.

LGBT Community members and supporters during the Delhi Queer Pride March in New Delhi on Sunday. PTI

LGBT Community members and supporters during the Delhi Queer Pride March in New Delhi on Sunday. PTI

Another participant, Delhi University student Esha, said unlike earlier occasions, it is important for queer people this year to shout back equally louder to combat “noise from homophobic groups and an unfriendly government”.

“I’m not out yet so I tend to keep a low profile at LGBTQ events, but this year pride is important as a show of strength more than ever because noise from homophobic groups and an unfriendly government seems to have become louder. It is important that we as queer people should shout back equally louder,” Esha said.

One of the organisers, Rituparna Borah, said this year’s parade saw a greater participation than the last year, with around 800-1,000 people turning out.

“People from all walks of life, identifying with different sexual orientations and genders took part in the
parade, that culminated at Jantar Mantar,” another organiser said.

While the focus of the ‘pride’ has been the repeal of Section 377 that criminalises same-sex unions and the demand for dignity for people who do not conform to society’s ideas of sexual orientation or gender, different movements joined the parade this year in solidarity with the LGBTQ community.

This year’s march was also in support of Dalits, Muslims, women, disabled, Kashmiris, people in the North-East, Adivasis, academics, filmmakers and students, according to an earlier statement on the Facebook page created for the event.

The march saw demands being voiced by a wide section of society — from the demand to live free of fear to calls to break down patriarchal mindsets.

“Hence, more than ever, we assert that our pride is inextricably tied to a broader demand for freedom and dignity for all,” a statement said.

A participant, who works with a private company here, said, “We want to live without fear of any kind of
repercussion from our family and from the workplace because of the gender we identify with. It is important to live a life without fear.”

The parade is a yearly festival, held on the last Sunday of November, to honour and celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and many gender and sexual non-conforming people, and their supporters.

First Published On : Nov 27, 2016 20:03 IST

Demonetisation: Post Offices see rise in cash deposit, Rs 32,631 cr deposited since 10 November

New Delhi: People have deposited a staggering Rs 32,631 crore in nearly 1.55 lakh post offices across the country following demonetisation of Rs 500/1000 currency notes.

The post offices have also exchanged about Rs 3,680 crore of old currency notes between 10 November and 24 Department of Posts Secretary BV Sudhakar told PTI.

“From 10 November to 24 November, we have exchanged 578 lakh notes of value of about Rs 3,680 crore. If you look at the deposits, 43.48 crore old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes were accepted as deposits, and their value is about Rs 32,631 crore,” he said.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

As many as 1.55 lakh post offices — about 1.30 lakh in rural areas and the rest 25,000 in urban and semi-urban areas — are playing a “prominent role” in the entire exercise, he added.

During the same period, Rs 3,583 crore was withdrawn from post offices, Sudhakar said. Following demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes from midnight of November 8, people rushed to banks and post offices to deposit or exchange old currency notes. Serpentine queues were seen in front of banks, ATMs and post offices with people lining up to get valid currency notes.

Those without postal savings accounts were also permitted to exchange the old notes up to a certain limit in the post offices by producing their identity cards.

While the window of a fortnight to exchange these currency notes over-the-counter at banks and post offices ended on 24 November, the old notes can be deposited in bank accounts until 30 December.

Asked about the break-up for exchanges, withdrawals, deposits made in rural versus urban areas post demonetisation, Sudhakar pointed out that nearly 88 per cent of post offices are in rural areas and the rest in urban locations, and accordingly majority of the transactions too may have been in rural areas.

“It really depends on the demand… Even urban area locations such as Sansad Marg post offices in New Delhi, has seen high volume of exchanges…depending on the demand, disbursements vary, and hence one cannot exactly say… But based only on composition of post offices, we can say that more would have been in rural areas,” he said.

Sudhakar said the Department has made special arrangements to ensure that cash reaches rural post offices. Sudhakar said the entire situation was being monitored through control rooms at directorate and each state down to
the level of subdivisions.

“It was micro-monitored up to village level…every hour we were taking feedback…The crowd was intense, and there was a sudden surge so we had to pull all staff for this work,” he said adding that staff worked for xtended hours till 8 pm.

People up can deposit old Rs 500 and 1,000 notes in Post Office Savings Account at present, he said, adding such notes cannot be deposited in other schemes like fixed deposits, monthly income scheme and recurring deposits.

“Earlier we were accepting deposits in all saving account that is savings bank, recurring deposits, monthly income schemes and even certificates. Now we are accepting only in the savings bank account so that is the restriction in all 1.55 lakh post offices,” he said.

First Published On : Nov 27, 2016 13:57 IST

Demonetization to have gains in long run: Chandrababu Naidu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Demonetization problems are temporary but the gains in the long run will be fruitful, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu said as he enlisted the steps taken by his government to help the people in this situation. The Andhra government has adopted several innovative ways to solve the problems of the people and become a role model state in the country in cashless transactions, he said.The steps taken by the state government include setting up of four committees to oversee cashless transactions, arrangement of 19,000 e-PoS (Point of Sales) machines involving students and self-helf women’s groups and starting a mobile application ‘AP Purse’. “The demonetization problems are temporary but the gains in the long run will be fruitful,” he said.The Chief Minister urged the people to endure the currency crisis for some more time to come and asked them to face it in a challenging spirit.To overcome the problems post scrapping of the high value currency of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000, the Andhra government is planning to distribute free mobile phones to people, particularly the economically-backward classes to undertake cashless transactions, Naidu said. Naidu, who has been holding teleconferences with bankers and officials to ensure that problems of people are minimised, has announced the decision to set up four committees to oversee cashless transactions, Jan Dhan bank account and Rupay dealings and overall expenditure.The state government is also planning to start ‘AP Purse’ to provide short term, middle term and long term benefits to the people. While terming as unfortunate that the demonetization problem has prolonged, he lauded the people for having patience by being in such long queues at banks and ATMs. He asked the people to make effective use of mobile currency, online transactions and debit and credit cards and Rupay cards.He has written to Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, seeking more funds of smaller denominations to the state to ease out the problems of people. The Chief Minister said the state government had received an additional Rs 2,000 crore, of which Rs 400 crore is in the denominations of Rs 100. He hoped that this would bring some relief to the people. Naidu said he had requested the Centre and RBI to send Rs 5,000 crore to the state. He suggested that out of this, at least Rs 1,000 crore should contain smaller denominations like Rs 10, Rs 20, Rs 50 and Rs 100.He added that the state government had earmarked Rs two crore to each of the districts, which would be of great help to small businessmen to continue their business transactions non-stop.

BJP settled its black money before demonetization, will lead to its exile from UP: Mayawati

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Claiming that the Modi government has taken the demonetization decision in a hurry with “100%” political interests of BJP in mind, BSP chief Mayawati said on Saturday it has caused difficulties to 90% of the common people. She also asked how a decision which has caused problems to 90% of the people could be in interest of the nation. “Now to prove that his wrong decision is correct, the Prime Minister is getting emotional and shedding tears. What is this if not blackmail,” she said.Addressing a press conference in Delhi, Mayawati said since her party is the main challenge to BJP in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh elections, its leaders were making baseless statements against BSP. “There is no doubt that the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has in a hurry and without proper preparation demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes. This immature decision has been taken 100% because of their political interests which has caused havoc across the country,” she said.She also said that while BJP managed to settle its “do number ka paisa” (black money) in the past ten months when the demonetization move was conceived, the decision was “so ill conceived, half baked and immature that it will lead the party to a permanent political exile in Uttar Pradesh in the coming assembly polls.”Mayawati claimed the situation was like an “economic emergency which is condemnable”. She said that since BJP government at the Centre could not fulfil even one fourth of its poll promises in its two and a half years in office and to divert people’s attention, the demonetization decision was taken adding that the move will “boomerang”.She added that Modi says that he “left his family for the country which is a good thing”. “But you cannot play with the interests of people,” she said as she accused the Centre of being “dictatorial” in its approach. The BSP leader also said that nearly 100 people had died and the Centre has not extended any economic support to them.She also accused the government of being dictatorial in its approach. “How can a decision which has caused difficulties to 90% of the people be in public interest,” she asked, adding people have been forced to stand in queues to get their own money.The former chief minister claimed that in UP the Congress is surviving on “oxygen support” while SP is an old friend of the BJP and not even openly opposing its policies. She claimed her party is the major threat to the BJP because of which its leaders are making baseless charges against it.Terming a BJP rally in Agra as a “flop”, Mayawati said that even the Prime Minister had attacked BSP claiming that after demonetization those who paid notes will not become MLAs. She said the BJP may not be aware that her party deposits the contributions made by its workers and leaders in banks and not in coffers like some other parties. Hitting back, BJP claimed it seems all the money Mayawati had collected by “selling” party tickets in elections have gone waste with demonetization and that the move has hit at the roots of politicians-bureaucrats nexus in “looting” public money. It also rejected as “baseless” her allegation that the demonetization decision was taken keeping its political interests in mind, saying she was staring at a “massive loss” in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls and levelling unfounded charges in desperation.”The Prime Minister’s decision was not against some people or party but against black money, corruption and those involved in fake currency, drugs and terror funding. It may be possible that some political parties have been affected as well. Modi is targeting black money but leaders like Mayawati, Akhilesh Yadav (UP Chief Minister) are targeting him. People rejected her in 2012 and then in 2014 polls. BSP was a movement during Kanshi Ram’s time but is busy collecting money under her. It seem all the money she had collected by selling poll tickets have gone waste with demonetization,” BJP National Secretary Shrikant Sharma told reporters.BJP also said the government’s decision has hit at the roots of nexus of politicians and bureaucrats who “looted” the public money and ensured that even basic facilities like drinking water and electricity were not available in villages for 70 years. To Mayawati’s charge that there was tacit understanding between BJP and SP, he said it was in fact SP and BSP which had joined hands against BJP. Had it been not so, then the accused in the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) scam, which allegedly happened under the BSP rule, would have been punished, he said.

PM Modi failed to fulfil any of his promises, ‘unworthy of trust’: Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Congress accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “not being worthy of trust” as he has failed to fulfil any of his promises. Congress spokesperson Kapil Sibal said though Modi has claimed that the situation after demonetization will be normalised in 50 days, it will take around six months for the RBI to replace all the demenetized currency. He said the Prime Minister is not ready to face Lok Sabha, where his party enjoys a majority, as his own people are against him and will stand exposed in Rajya Sabha as he would not be able to answer the questions posed to him there.”Modiji promised that he would bring back Rs 80 lakh crore black money back to India. Has he fulfilled that promise? No. He said he would bring Lokpal? Has he implemented it? “Which promise has he fulfilled? Why should we believe him? We have no faith in this Prime Minister. He is not worthy of trust,” he said.Sibal further said the Prime Minister said that the situation will normalise in two days, but it did not happen.Then the Finance Minister said the situation will normalise in two weeks, but that did not happen either.”Now he says situation will normalise in 50 days. How will it normalise?” he said, adding that going by the capacity of RBI printing presses it will only be able to monetise the replaced currency in six months time.”When Modiji first entered Parliament he made a show of bowing his head and calling it a temple. Today the situation is the Prime Minister will inaugurate a book on Constitution, yet not give the Constitution the dignity it deserves. The true meaning of the Constitution. The etiquette of Parliament.On these things, the Prime Minister has no care,” he alleged.Attacking Modi, Sibal said over 47 people have lost their lives till November 17 in the wake of demonetization decision, still the country’s ‘chowkidar’ is sleeping well.”How is the nation’s ‘chowkidar’ sleeping while the people are facing such hardships?” he asked.The Congress leader wondered of the PM thinks that all the leaders in the Opposition are black money hoarders.”He says opposition is worried because they had no time (to change currency) but BJP had a lot of time. They (BJP) had all the information. They deposited cash and they purchased land. And then he says that it is the Opposition which is against the nation,” he said.On Prime Minister speaking outside Parliament against the opposition, Sibal asked, “Why doesn’t he speak in Lok Sabha.Is it because he is afraid of his own people?” He said “In the Rajya Sabha, he is silent as he will be asked questions when he comes to the House. If asked questions he would be expected to answer and if he does not answer, then he will be exposed. People will realise that the Prime Minister’s knowledge may be deficient on certain topics.”Sibal warned Modi not to take the country towards disaster as this could happen if the country’s economic order collapses.Saying that the Congress was not asking for a rollback of the demonetization decision as it does not expect the Prime Minister to do so, he said “I don’t expect this PM to roll back. The PM mocked at our people in this country from Japan. I expect this Prime Minister to think about the promises made to the people of this country”.Sibal also accused the Prime Minister of doing politics on the basis of lies. He also said that there has been a rise in ceasefire violations ever since India carried out surgical strikes.”We want you should truly handle terrorism, not through speeches or demonetizing currency. Don’t talk of ‘achche din’, but bring ‘sachche din’ in the country,” he said.He also criticised the government, saying it has changed the rules 172 times since November 8 when it took the decision on demonetization. Recalling Modi’s criticism of UPA when the Indian currency fell internationally, the Congress leader asked, “I want to ask him if the Rupee was on an escalator. He used to say earlier that the Rupee is on a ventilator.” Sibal said as per the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) data for 2015-16, 2,203 crore pieces of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes were needed to be printed and till November 18, Rs 1.03 lakh crore has been withdrawn and Rs 33,000 crore has been exchanged.”Rs 1.3 lakh crore has been pumped into the economy. What is the value of the currency which is demonetized , it is Rs 14 lakh crore? They have four printing presses for currency and in 2015-16, the intent was to create 2203 crore pieces.”The amount printed was 2012 crore pieces. This is in one year, in two shifts. Based on this, the time required for the currency notes to be printed is at least six months. RBI has said that in the rush two variants of notes have been printed,” he said.The Congress leader also cautioned that there are only 19 Issue Offices of RBI that provide currency to banks and wondered how the banks will get all this money in such a short period of time.Sibal wondered that with nearly 80 crore people earning less than Rs 10,000, “Is the money with them, black money?” He also said as per RBI, the total amount of counterfeit notes is 0.0007 per cent of the total cash floating.

RSS backs demonetization, says country’s economy to become safe and vibrant

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Justifying the demonetization move, RSS on Friday said it is a step taken in the national interest with “honest intention” of initiating transparent monetary practices that will make the country’s economy safe and vibrant.Head of RSS’ communications department Manmohan Vaidya said that “all anti-national, separatist and terrorist activities in the country seem to have come to a sudden halt, resulting in restoration of normalcy in Kashmir Valley after a long time”. “It is obvious that the common people have to face difficulties initially as this is a drastic step towards financial integrity and accountability in the country with the aim of making our economy safe and vibrant,” he said.Vaidya said the decision taken by the government to demonetize high value currency notes is in national interest and with the honest intention of setting in motion cleaner and transparent monetary transactions and practices in the country. He said its impact is being felt everywhere and urged the people to cooperate with the government to help bring in transparency in the country.”We appeal to the people to cooperate and support the government in this noble endeavour, irrespective of the temporary but unavoidable inconvenience being caused. We are confident that the patriotic people will cooperate with the government for a better tomorrow,” he said.

What has Naveen Patnaik done in last 17 years: Amit Shah attacks Odisha govt

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Holding Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik responsible for the “backwardness” of Odisha, BJP chief Amit Shah on Friday called upon the party cadre to ensure the “end” of the BJD government in the state which had “failed to meet the basic needs of the people”.”While many states have developed in a few years, Naveen Babu’s government has failed to provide drinking water, electricity, health and education to the people. Odisha remains the same as it was a few years back. What has Naveen Babu done in the last 17 years for the development of Odisha,” he told the gathering at the BJP’s ‘Jana Jagaran Maha Samabesh’ here. Dubbing the plight of Dana Majhi, who carried his wife’s body on his shoulders for 10 kms from the hospital after being denied a hearse, as a “shame”, Shah said the youth from Odisha migrated to other big cities in search of work as the government had failed to give them employment. Rejecting the BJD’s allegation of Centre’s negligence towards the state, the BJP chief claimed that the Centre had given Rs 1.3 lakh crore to Odisha in the last two-and-a-half years.While the previous UPA government had given Rs 23,000 crore to Odisha in 2013, the NDA government has sanctioned Rs 63,000 crore in 2016. From Rs 764 crore in the 2013 rail budget, the amount has reached Rs 4,682 crore in 2016, he claimed. The Centre, Shah said, has announced to spend Rs 20,000 crore for the development of the national highways in Odisha of which, Rs 4,500 crore was meant for the coastal roads. A huge amount was given to the state for the development of rural roads, waterways, electrification, health, education and other sectors. The Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry has planned investments of Rs 33,000 crore in Odisha, while Nalco was engaged in developing the peripheral areas of Sri Jagannath Temple in Puri, he said.”The BJD government is not letting the benefits of the Central schemes reach the common man,” Shah said and urged the people to “uproot” the state government in the next election. He also urged the people of Odisha to change the BJD government as Prime Minister Narendra Modi was “for the development” of the eastern state. Development is certain wherever the BJP is in power, Shah said and cited the instances of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Haryana. Union ministers Jual Oram, Dharmendra Pradhan, Odisha BJP chief Basanta Panda and BJPLP leader KV Singhdeo were among those who attended the programme.

Remembering 26/11 attack: Chaiwalla who alerted passengers about attack still awaits govt job promised to him

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Eight years have passed since the Mumbai 26/11 terror attacks, but for those who saw it unfold in front of their eyes, the memories of that night remain etched in memory.While everyone is in mourning and paying their tributes to victims of 26/11, a Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) railway station tea vendor, Mohamed Taufiq Sheikh, popularly known as Chhotu the Chaiwalla, recollected the worst memory of his life.”I was waiting at CST that night to collect money for the tea I had just delivered. When I heard the gunshots, I thought they were fireworks, but then, there were two or three explosions. I turned around and saw a long line of people waiting at the ticket counter. So, I ran towards them shouting “Bhago, Bomb Hai (Run, it’s a bomb)! People left everything behind and ran towards the road. When I entered the ticket office, the officers there abused me for chasing them away, but then another bomb exploded right outside where we were,” he said.”By then the firing was coming from some distance. So, I got up and crawled outside to see countless bodies’ some dead, some still having life in them. I called my wife at that point and told her that I might die because there could still be bombs at the station. She asked me to leave and go home. I stayed at CST the whole night with one other police officer,” he added.While everyone who sacrificed their lives that day got recognition, this Chaiwalla never asked for it. The government promised him a job in the railways, but eight years on he still sells tea. And no, he has no demands or complaints!”I never did what I did for any award or recognition, but I have received 28 awards since then and a promise that I would get a job in the railways, a promise which is still not fulfilled eight years on. If it was the son of a minister or politician who had done the same thing, God knows how much they would have done for him, but at the end of it, I’m a poor chaiwallah and I have no regrets. I would do it all over again,” he added.Praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership, Taufiq Sheikh said he too is happy to serve the nation and would happily risk his life again.

Maximum black money transactions took place under UPA: Arun Jaitley hits back at Manmohan Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking a dig at the opposition who have decided to launch ‘Aakrosh’ (anguish) Day over the demonetization issue, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday said people are only happy about the government’s decision and it is the few opposition parties who are ‘Aakrosh’ about the decision.Launching a scathing attack on the Congress after former prime minister Manmohan Singh termed the demonetization issue to be a blunder, Jaitley said that it was ironical of the previous government to consider it a blunder since it was under then that the black money transactions had become glaring and rampant.‘We were not surprised when we heard from those who ran the government between 2004 and 2014 that they didn’t like these anti-black money steps. The maximum black money was generated in the country between 2004 and 2014. Commonwealth Games scandal, the 2G corruption scandal, the coal block scandal all took place during this period,’ he said.‘Those who didn’t consider these scandals to be a blunder are now considering this campaign against corruption and black money to be a blunder,’ he added.Jaitley said that instead of engaging with the government in a debate over demonetization, the Congress is ‘manufacturing reasons’ to run away from the debate.Responding to Dr. Singh claims that the demonetization will weaken the Indian economy and adversely impact the GDP of the country, Jaitley said, ‘‘as far as the medium and long term impact on the economy is concerned, including on India’s GDP, it is going to be a positive impact. Lot of money that operates in the shadow economy will now be a part of banking structure. The banks will have a lot more to support the economy. The private sector investment which was so far lacking will now be back into the economy.’He said that the banks which were hitherto struggling because of the NPA problem would have a lot more money to lend for agriculture, infrastructure, social sector and the possibility of banks lending at lower cost would also rise.‘Additionally, when more and more transactions comes into the banking network in the long run, you will find taxation, both direct and indirect, improving therefore in the medium and long term, it will have a positive impact,’ he said.Stepping up the opposition tirade against demonetization, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today castigated the government and the Prime Minister over the move, saying its implementation was a “monumental management failure” and a case of “organised loot and legalised plunder.” Singh, who spoke in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Rajya Sabha, said the decision will result in decline of GDP by 2 per cent, it being an “under-estimate”. He hoped the Prime Minister will find a practical and pragmatic decision to mitigate the sufferings of the common man and the poor who have been in distress after the decision. He said agriculture, unorganised sectors and small industry has also been hit hard by it and people were losing faith in the currency and banking system. “These measures convinced me that the way the scheme has been implemented, it’s a monumental management failure. And in fact, it is a case of organised loot and legalised plunder. “It is not my intention to pick holes what this side or other side does. But I sincerely hope that the PM even in this late hour will help find us practical and pragmatic ways to provide relief to the suffering of the people of this country,” he said in Rajya Sabha as the debate on the issue resumed after Modi came into the House.Earlier, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad requested Chairman Hamid Ansari and Leader of the House Arun Jaitley that the Question Hour should not be taken up as the Prime Minister was present in the House and the debate be taken up.Azad’s request was readily accepted by the government with Jaitley saying that the debate should start immediately and Modi will certainly participate in it.Participating in the resumed debate, Singh said it is important to take note of the grievances of the ordinary people who have suffered as a result of this imposition on the country “overnight” by the Prime Minister.”My own feeling is that the national income, that is the GDP of the country, can decline by about 2 percentage points as a result of what has been done. This is an under-estimate and not an over-estimate.”Therefore, I feel the Prime Minister must come with some constructive proposal on how we can implement the scheme and at the same time prevent the distrust that has been caused to the common people,” Singh said. The former Prime Minister did not agree with the Prime Minister’s plea to wait for 50 days for the results of demonetization to come about, saying no one knows about the final outcome of the decision.”Well 50 days is a short period, but for those who are poor and deprived sections of the community even 50 days of torture can bring about disastrous effect. And that’s why about 60 to 65 people have lost their lives. Maybe more.”What is more is, what has been done can weaken and erode our people’s confidence in the currency system and in the banking system,” he said.Asking Modi to spell out the names of countries where people have deposited their money in banks but are not allowed to withdraw their money, he said, “this alone I think is enough to condemn what has been done in the name of greater growth.”He said the scheme of demonetization, the way it is being implemented, will hurt agricultural growth in our country, small industry and all those people who work in the informal sectors of the economy. Singh, an eminent economist, criticised the government for issuing fresh instructions and modifying the rules every day on the conditions under which people can withdraw their money.”That reflects very poorly on the Prime Minister’s Office, the Finance Minister’s office and on the Reserve Bank of India. I am very sorry that the Reserve Bank has been exposed to this kind of criticism which I think is fully justified,” the former Prime Minister said. He said though he agreed with the objectives of the scheme to demonetise currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 as spelt out by the Prime Minister, he wished to highlight the problems that the common people and poor have been subjected to by the move.”But I do want to point out at least that in the process of demonetization monumental mismanagement has been undertaken about which today there is no two opinions in the country as a whole,” he said.Referring to those saying that the move which was doing harm and creating distrust in the short run was good in the long run, Singh quoted John Maynard Keynes to say that “in the long run, all of us are dead”.”I urge upon the Prime Minister to find practical, pragmatic ways and measures to relieve the distress of the people, who happen to be a great majority of our people. After all 90 per cent of our people were in the informal sector, 55 per cent of our workers in agriculture are feeling distress,” he said.He also noted that the cooperative banking system which served large number of people in rural areas was non-functional and has been prevented from handling cash.The senior Congress leader said though it is not his intention to pick holes in what this side or other side does, but hoped that the Prime Minister “even in this late hour will help find us practical and pragmatic ways to provide relief to the suffering of the people of this country”. With inputs from agencies

Blow to Govt: SC refuses to stay cases against demonetization

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The government suffered another jolt with the Supreme Court refusing to restrain high courts across the country from taking up issues arising out of its decision to demonetize Rs 1000 and Rs 500 currency notes, saying people may get “immediate relief” from them. The Centre’s claim that demonetization was a “success” as over Rs six lakh crore have already been deposited and about Rs 10 lakh crore was expected to come to the exchequer till December end which would prevent hoarding of cash, failed to cut ice with the apex court as it refused to stay the ongoing proceedings before the high courts. The setback to the government came in quick succession as the apex court on November 18 had refused to stop high courts from entertaining challenges to the November 8 notification, observing that people were seriously affected and doors of courts cannot be shut in a situation which “may lead to riots”.Despite the government making a fervent plea for stay on high courts’ proceedings in demonetization cases on the ground that the situation was “much better” with long queues declining and there was “a big surge in digital use of money transaction,” a bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur said, “We don’t want to stay it.” “There are various issues. People may get immediate relief from the high courts,” the bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao, said. Some of the issues which have come up before high courts are for removing the weekly cap of Rs 24,000 on withdrawals, questioning the use of old currency notes of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 at public utility centres like hospitals and petrol pumps and direction to ensure sufficient cash in ATMs.Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi’s submission that over Rs six lakh crore have been deposited so far and queues in banks, ATMs, post offices have shortened remarkably and, if required, the time limit of depositing and exchanging the Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 old notes may be extended beyond December 30, did not impress the bench to provide any relief to the Centre.The high denomination currency notes of Rs 1000 and Rs 500 used to constitute 80 to 85 per cent of the legal tender and the top law officer said demonetizing them was a “move to remove 70 years of slush money.” “If it takes another 20-30 days to remove it, I do not think its a big deal,” he told the bench adding that “it is a success till now.” “The money will be used in the economy and the lending rates will come down,” he told the bench which only issued notices and sought the response of those who have approached different high courts on the Centre’s plea seeking transfer of the matters to the apex court or any one of the high courts.The apex court posted the transfer petition of the Centre for hearing on December 2 and said it will hold its scheduled hearing on main matters on Friday in which some public spirited persons and advocates have not only questioned the legality of the notification but have also raised other issues including unpreparedness of the Modi dispensation in implementing the controversial decision.The day’s hearing saw the bench asking the Attorney General about the situation and steps taken by the government on the issue.”We think you must have taken appropriate steps. What is the situation now? We believe that the situation has improved,” the bench asked.The Attorney General assured the bench that the situation was “much better” and the government was monitoring it “day-by-day and hour-by-hour” and “a committee has been set up to go across the country to take stock of the ground situation of the demonetization move”.When the bench asked “How much have you collected”, Rohatgi gave the figure of over Rs six lakh crore. To this, the bench said the total value of the demonetized currency notes was around Rs 15 lakh crore.”If you will get around Rs 10 lakh crore, will you say it is a success,” the bench asked. Rohatgi said he would file an affidavit giving details of the money deposited.”There is a big surge in digital use of money transaction after the demonetization move. The idea is to move as per the general rule which says that cash money in the market should be around four per cent of the GDP. It is around 12 per cent of the GDP in India. The more cash you have in the market, the more the people will hoard. The aim is to reduce it to around eight per cent of the GDP,” he said. Rohatgi also told the bench that there was no shortage of currency notes but the problem was in transporting them to every corner of the country.

Demonetization biggest scam in India under pretext of patriotism: Kejriwal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Keeping up with his tirade against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has termed demonetization as “the biggest scam” of Independent India, accusing him of “benefiting” the rich industrialists at the cost of poor under the pretext of patriotism.Aam Aadmi Party volunteers protesting over demonetization of high value currency notes, at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi today distributed pamphlets of Kejriwal’s letter to the countrymen alleging that demonetization involved a scam of Rs 8 lakh crore. “These billionaires have usurped Rs 8 lakh crore until now, of which the government has waived off Rs 1.14 lakh crore.”The government estimates that deposits worth Rs 10 lakh crore would be deposited in banks. This will be used to waive off remaining seven lakh crores. Five days after the demonetization, the government has already waived off Rs 6000 crores of 63 billionaires,” Kejriwal’s letter alleged. “This is cheating. The whole country is being fooled. Poor, middle class, traders, farmers, housewives and workers are depositing their hard earned money in the banks and the government is doling it out to the billionaires,” the letter reads.He said in the letter that people are now asking if “attacking” black money was intended then why the big billionaires were not caught who have black money.” Kejriwal also alleged that the country was being “looted” in the name of patriotism and the money deposited by people in the banks will be “doled out” among millionaires. “People are also saying let the elections come and we will take revenge for each minute spent in the queues,” he added.

Demonetization: SC to hear Centre’s transfer plea on Wednesday

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear on November 23 a plea of the Centre seeking transfer of all demonetization cases to either one high court or the apex court.A bench of Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justice DY Chandrachud listed the matter after Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi mentioned it and sought an urgent hearing. Rohatgi said that as directed by the apex court on the last hearing of the case, the Centre has filed the transfer petition. The apex court had on November 18 dubbed as a “serious issue” the long queues outside banks and post offices and expressed its reservation on the Centre’s plea seeking a direction that no other court in the country should entertain petitions challenging the November 8 notification demonetizing Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 currency notes.It had made the remarks after the AG submitted that any matter relating to challenge to the demonetization issue be heard by the apex court only. However, the bench had said, “People are affected. People are frantic. People have the right to approach the courts,” noting that people were facing difficulties. The bench had questioned the relief measures undertaken by the Centre and asked why it had squeezed the exchange limit to Rs 2,000.The AG had then explained the situation by stating that after printing, the currency has to be moved to thousands of centres across the country and ATMs have to be re-calibrated.He had also said that Rs 100 notes are in circulation and the ATMs needed to be re-calibrated to issue new currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 2,000.The Centre had moved the apex court on November 17 seeking a stay on the proceedings before various high courts and other courts except the apex court against demonetization issue, saying otherwise it will create a lot of confusion. The apex court had on November 15 refused to stay the government’s demonetization notification, but asked it to spell out the steps taken to minimise public inconvenience.Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a televised address to the nation on November 8, had announced that Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes will no longer be legal tender from November 9. He had said the government has declared a “decisive war” against black money and corruption.