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UP Elections 2017: Ready to contest in all assembly seats, says Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress on Saturday said it was ready to contest all assembly seats in the upcoming elections in Uttar Pradesh, even as it chose not to comment on the internal affairs of Samajwadi Party.”We are working in all the seats … We have said we are ready to contest all the seats in the state and we are preparing for the polls,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said. Asked about the fast-paced developments in ruling SP in UP, he said, “We don’t comment on the internal affairs of other parties. There had been a quarrel yesterday and today there was a patch up. It is a good thing. The family is together which is a good thing.”Speaking about the party’s campaign in the state, Surjewala said the Congress’ slogan is ’27 saal, UP behaal’ (27 years, UP in doldrums). Congress will contest the polls on the plank of development, rising above the caste and communal issues, he added.

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

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

India’s cash crunch making some in Modi’s party anxious | Reuters

By Rupam Jain

NEW DELHI Cash shortages weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s decision to abolish large currency notes are making allies and members of his ruling party anxious, with some distancing themselves from the move ahead of a series of state elections.Modi removed 500 and 1,000 rupee notes, worth around $7.50 and $15 respectively, on Nov. 8, billing it as an attempt to root out corruption, end terror financing and move the country into the age of digital payments.He promised to replace all old bills with enough new currency notes by the end of this month. But his government has struggled to do that, leading to long lines at banks and a slump in economy activity. Nearly 90 percent of transactions in India used to be in cash.Interviews with six lawmakers from Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and a senior leader of the party’s ideological parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), show his party cadre is starting to worry that the cash crunch could hurt their prospects in several states that go to the polls next year.Some parliamentarians said that while they thought Modi’s decision was good, its execution had been botched and they were faced with constituents who were increasingly upset.”There is no doubt that it is difficult to convince voters that everything will be fine,” said Santosh Gangwar, the junior finance minister who is leading the BJP campaign in Uttar Pradesh.      “Every candidate who will be contesting polls is nervous because they feel people may not vote for the BJP … There is tension and we cannot deny it,” he said.    Of the BJP’s 71 MPs from Uttar Pradesh, 28 have been to BJP President Amit Shah and the finance minister’s office to seek solutions for the cash crunch, said a senior finance ministry official.BJP EXPECTS “BIG VICTORY”

BJP spokesman G.V.L. Narasimha Rao said that despite temporary difficulties, the prime minister continued to enjoy overwhelming support.”Party cadres are highly enthused about a big victory in upcoming elections, and if a few are apprehensive, they will realise the reality soon,” Rao said.    Disquiet within the BJP underscores how Modi’s unprecedented bet is turning into a test of popularity, and could go some way to determining his political future.It has become a central issue in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, where the outcome of elections early next year will be key for Modi’s expected bid for a second term in 2019.    The opposition, led by the Congress party, has joined forces, mocking the government for being ill-prepared for so-called “demonetisation” and blaming it for hardships faced by the poor as a result. It has called for Modi’s resignation.     The senior RSS official said they had counselled Modi days before the move to take time to prepare the ground for such a massive exercise, including setting up two new mints and expanding the banking network, and to roll it out in phases.

    But the prime minister decided to press ahead, and he alone would bear responsibility for its failure or success, the official added.    Earlier this month, N. Chandrababu Naidu, chief minister of Andhra Pradesh and a political ally of Modi, abruptly distanced himself from the move.    Modi and senior members of his cabinet defend demonetisation. In an interview with India Today magazine on Thursday, Modi said it would give the economy a boost and provide long-term benefits, including forcing the country’s vast shadow economy into the open.”GRIM SITUATION”

    Modi’s announcement enjoyed popular support at first, with many people prepared to endure hardship as long as others were forced to give up ill-gotten wealth or pay tax.But shortages of new 500 and 2,000 rupee notes have caused tempers to rise as millions queue at banks and ATMs to draw money.    Last week, more than three dozen BJP lawmakers, many of whom came from states that go to polls next year, met with Shah to demand that the government sends more cash to their constituencies, and quickly.     The MPs told Shah about severe cash shortages and hardship to local businesses and ordinary people, according to several lawmakers who attended the meeting.They told the BJP president that they did not have the courage to hold election rallies at a time when people still had to stand in line, sometimes for hours, to get money. Some said they had not started door-to-door campaigning.    “The situation is grim, and we cannot ignore it,” Jagdambika Pal, a BJP lawmaker from Uttar Pradesh who attended the meeting, told Reuters. “It is a challenge for every BJP lawmaker to manage the situation, but we cannot do anything if there is no money in the banks.”($1 = 67.9550 rupees) (Additional reporting by Rajesh Kumar Singh and Manoj Kumar; Editing by Paritosh Bansal and Mike Collett-White)

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

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 18:20 IST

Demonetization broke the myth that powerful can’t be harmed: Shivraj Singh Chouhan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Terming the demonetization decision as “historic,” Madhya Pradesh CM, Shivraj Singh Chouhan said Prime Minister, Narendra Modi with his “courageous” call broke the myth that powerful people can’t be harmed in the country.”India witnessed a historic decision on November 8, 2016. This day has given a meaningful reply to the queries raised by the people at large on the style of functioning of governments. “Often allegations are levelled against the governments that they can not take tough decisions under pressure. They fear to take decisions that could harm powerful people,” Chouhan said in his blog on the issue on Thursday evening.”Our PM has broken the myth with his courageous decision to demonetize Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes,” he said. “The decision of demonetization is historic in a way that it surprised everyone and this is the distinct feature of it. India has seen decision of demonetization twice in the history of 100 years but those decisions gave ample time to the people having black money in the form of currency to change it.”Thus the main objective of the decision was partially met. This time, however the decision did not give any time to people with black money,” the Chief Minister said. Those criticising the decision say that it could have been taken with better planning and people should have been given ample time. It is beyond my comprehension as to whom these critics are referring to when they talk of giving time to people, he wrote in the blog.”Who are those about whom critics say time should have been given to them. It is obvious that they are favouring those who had black money in the form of currency,” Chouhan said. The decision of the Prime Minister to encourage cashless transaction is to transform the country from a developing nation to a developed one. All the aspects should be examined before criticising such a move, said Chouhan.

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

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

Arunachal crisis: Ram Madhav says BJP will stand by CM Khandu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The newly formed People’s Party of Arunachal Pradesh (PPA) is in crisis. The newly formed outfit has suspended its own chief minister Pema Khandu, son of former chief minister Dorji Khandu, who died in a helicopter crash four years back.The reason for the sudden shift in position is not known but the PPA has decided to suspend seven MLAs. The PPA also would be taking disciplinary action against the MLAs.A floor test is expected to take place in Itanagar on Friday (today). Sources say that the ruling party decided to do away with the chief minister because of his continued closeness with the Congress.Sources indicate that Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi was pretty much clued into the affairs of the development, which took place in the North-Eastern state. Sources also say that it would not affect the chance of the BJP-supported government as the suspension would not destabalise the government. The Congress had split last year with MLAs moving out of the stable lock, stock and barrel. Sources said that the MLAs had complained against Pema Khandu. The Congress tried its best to take legal recourse but the split in the party was so intensive that even legal help could not do much.Ram Madhav, BJP general secretary, who is in charge of the state, said: “The president does not have the power to remove the chief minister. BJP is supporting Pema Khandu’s government. The chairman can only do so. Let’s see what happens.”

UP IAS officer Sanjeev Dubey allegedly commits suicide in Lucknow

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Senior IAS officer Sanjeev Dubey on Thursday committed suicide by hanging himself at his residence in Lucknow, police said.His body was found by his family members at his 14, Gautampalli residence in Lucknow.The 1987-batch Uttar Pradesh cadre officer was posted as Principal Secretary in the Home Guard department and had held several important posts.Dubey has left behind a suicide note highlighting health problems as a reason behind his extreme step, police sources said, adding he was suffering from several painful health conditions like osteoporosis Sources close to him said he was under depression for past several months due to illness.Police said the matter came to light when he did not open the door of his residence till late in the day. Meanwhile, UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav condoled Dubey’s demise even as senior officials, including DGP Javeed Ahmed and Chief Secretary Rahul Bhatnagar visited his house.

Govt, BJP say the worst is over on demonetization front

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

IAF sorties helped government fight cash crunch

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a bid to help the common man with the demonetization process, the government has been pressing the Indian Air Force (IAF) into action. From assisting in the functioning of currency printing presses 24×7 to airlifting cash, the IAF has already transported 610 tonnes of currency and will continue to do so over the next few days.”The Air Force has played an important role in lifting currency. We have done 35 sorties and transported 610 tonnes of cash till now, said Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha on Wednesday.”We have also helped in running one of the mints 24×7,” he added.The decision to rope in the IAF was taken about 10 days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetization—making old Rs 500 and Rs. 1000 notes illegal and replacing them with new ones.It is unprecedented for IAF to transport cash which is usually done by train. Sources said since it was an “emergency-like situation” the IAF had been roped in to bring down delays in currency, reaching different centres across the country.The four currency printing centres are located in Nasik (Maharashtra), Devas (Madhya Pradesh), Mysore (Karnataka) and Salboni (West Bengal). Sources said the employees at the press have been working overtime to meet the cash demands in the country.From close by airfields in Mysore, Indore, Ozar and Kalaikunda, IAF planes are carrying out sorties almost daily to meet requirements.”The cash is transported by road to the airfields from where the Air Force transports it to different centre. This is saving time in transportation,” said a government official. The aircraft being used for transporting the currency are C 130, C17 and AN 32, sources said.Once the cash reaches the destination the local authorities take charge.Sources said initially there was a shortage in currency as the printing machines lacked the capacity to meet the increased demands. The government had announced printing of new Rs. 1000 notes but that has not begun yet.”While the Rs 2,000 notes and Rs 500 notes are being printed the void left due to non printing of Rs 1,000 note has created a crunch,” said a government official dealing with the subject.Officials privy to the details said out of a total currency requirement of 17.5 lakh crore, Rs 8 lakh crore is expected to be in 500 and Rs 7 lakh crore in 1,000 denominations. “10 per cent of this demand is being met per month,” the official added.The rest of the demand is to be met with other notes including Rs 2,000.

Uttar Pradesh assembly elections: SP’s Mulayam Singh Yadav rules out alliance with any party

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amid speculations, Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav on Wednesday ruled out the possibility of an alliance with any political party for the upcoming Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.Addressing the media, Mulayam said, “Samajwadi party is not forming an alliance with anyone.” The SP supremo also said that the BJP will get a befitting reply for demonetization from the people itself.Last week, amid whispers about an SP-Congress-RLD alliance, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad had said that the party was ready to contest the Uttar Pradesh polls, due next year, on its own for now.Singh also said that the party had declared a list of 325 candidates and the names of candidates for rest of the 78 seats would be announced soon. The party has given tickets to 176 sitting MLAs.(More details awaited)

PM Modi condoles death of Sunderlal Patwa, calls him ‘dedicated leader’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the death of former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Sunderlal Patwa on Wednesday, and described him as a “hardworking and dedicated leader”. Patwa, 92, died on Wednesday morning at a local hospital after suffering a heart attack.”(I am) saddened on the passing away of Sunderlal Patwa. He was a hardworking & dedicated leader whose good work as MP CM will be remembered,” Modi said in a tweet.He also said that Patwa strengthened the BJP and was always admired by workers. “My thoughts are with his family. May his soul rest in peace,” the PM said in another tweets.BJP President Amit Shah also expressed his condolences over the demise of the veteran party leader. He said that Patwa held various responsibilities from Jansangh to BJP, and that his hard work and dedication will continue to inspire the party workers.All India Congress Committee (AICC) General Secretary Digvijaya Singh also paid tributes to Patwa, saying that his death is an irreparable loss for the state. “Patwaji was a fearless and hardworking leader,” he added.Terming Patwa as a “political thinker”, Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee president Arun Yadav said his demise is not only a loss to the state but also to the country’s politics. MP’s Public Relations Minister Narottam Mishra said that Patwa’s politics was for serving the society. “He continuously worked for the welfare of the society and the poor,” Mishra said.

Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Sunderlal Patwa passes away after brief illness

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Veteran BJP leader and former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Sunderlal Patwa passed away in Bhopal on Wednesday after a brief illness. He was 92.Patwa’s wife had died a few years back and they had no children. His nephew Surendra Patwa is Minister for Culture and Tourism in the present BJP-led state government. Patwa suffered a heart attack in the morning and was rushed to hospital where he breathed his last, Bansal Hospital’s Executive Director Dr Skand Trivedi said.Soon after getting information about Patwa’s demise, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan rushed to the hospital. Later, Chouhan condoled the death of the senior BJP leader. In a tweet, he recalled Patwa’s life-long contribution for the development of Madhya Pradesh and said his death is an irreparable loss to the state.Born on November 11, 1924, Patwa served as Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister twice, first for a brief spell of less than a month in 1980 and later, riding on the Ram Mandir ‘wave’, he came back to power in March 1990.However, his second stint on the seat of power was curtailed by imposition of the President’s rule in 1992 after the demolition of the Babri Masjid. He was also elected as the Lok Sabha member from Chhindwara in the 1997 by-poll by defeating Congress strongman Kamal Nath in his home turf. Later, Nath wrested the seat from him in 1998, the party sources said.In 1999 general elections, Patwa won the Hoshangabad Lok Sabha seat and became a Cabinet-raked minister in the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government at the Centre, they added.

‘Sahara-Birla’ papers: Why is PM shying away from independent probe, asks Sheila Dikshit

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Toeing the party line, Sheila Dikshit on Tuesday targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi wondering why he was shying away from an independent probe into the ‘Sahara-Birla’ papers relating to pay-offs, days after her comments questioning autheticity of the documents put Congress on the backfoot.The Congress’ CM candidate in Uttar Pradesh also debunked speculation that she was distancing herself from the campaigning in the poll-bound state in the wake of the controversy.”Why is @PMOIndia shying from an independent and a thorough probe into the #BirlaSaharaPapers?,” Dikshit tweeted.Dikshit, whose name allegedly figured in the ‘Sahara diaries’ along with many other politicians, had trashed it, putting party Vice President Rahul Gandhi in a tight spot as he had charged Modi with taking money from corporate houses based on the document.”I have said what I had to. The ball is in the court of the @PMOIndia & others now. Will he respond and come out clean? #SaharaBirlaDiaries (sic),” Dikshit said in another tweet.With BJP targeting it following Dikshit’s comments, Congress maintained that it wanted an independent and thorough probe into the “Sahara diaries” corruption issue.There was speculation that Dikshit may not remain Congress’ chief ministerial face in Uttar Pradesh following the controversy.Rejecting the speculations, Dikshit also junked reports that she has suspended her scheduled programmes in Aligarh.”I am amused to see ‘Sheila distances herself from UP’ speculation in media. Aligarh was not on my schedule. I will be in Barabanki tomorrow,” she said.The former Delhi Chief Minister’s name purportedly figured in the list that Congress had put out in a tweet two days back as proof of its allegations against Modi which upset her.On Sunday reacting strongly to the allegations, Dikshit had vehemently denied any wrongdoings calling the charges “all hearsay”. He had said the Supreme Court had already made observations on the diaries, comments that appeared similar to BJP’s argument in defending Modi.

UP polls: Sheila Dikshit ‘amused’ to see speculations

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Senior Congress leader Sheila Dikshit on Tuesday rubbished reports suggesting that she has withdrawn her name as the party’s chief ministerial candidate for the 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.The former Delhi chief minister said that she was amused to see speculations that she has distanced herself from the Uttar Pradesh polls.Meanwhile, Dikshit also threw light on her upcoming visits to various places in the politically crucial state in the run up to the assembly polls. “Aligarh was not on my schedule. I will be in Barabanki tomorrow,” Dikshit tweeted.Earlier, it was reported that the former Delhi chief minister may withdraw her candidature after her name appeared on the Sahara list.The report said that Dikshit is unhappy with her name being surfaced in the recent Sahara diary leaks and Twitter fiasco following the same.With Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi over ‘ Sahara diaries’ bribery issue, a controversy erupted after the grand old party put out a list linked to it on Twitter in which a reference to Dikshit also allegedly figured.ikshit strongly denied the charges and trashed the documents, saying the Supreme Court has already made its observations on them.

Ball in PMO’s court, will PM Modi come clean? Sheila Dikshit on ‘Sahara diaries’

With Dikshit’s name figuring in the “Sahara diaries” bribery case, stoking a controversy, there could be uncertainty over her continuation as party’s chief ministerial face in Uttar Pradesh, party insiders feel. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Senior Congress leader Sheila Dikshit has denied reports of withdrawing her name as Congress chief ministerial candidate for the upcoming Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. Earlier, it was reported that the former Delhi chief minister may withdraw her candidature after her name appeared on Sahara list. The report said that Dikshit is unhappy with her name being surfaced in the recent Sahara diary leaks, and Twitter fiasco following the same. She also said: “I have said what I had to. The ball is in court of PMO & others now. Will he respond & come out clean?”With the Congress vice-president targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi over ‘ Sahara diaries’ bribery issue, a controversy erupted after the grand old party put out a list linked to it on Twitter in which a reference to Dikshit also allegedly figured. Dikshit, who is the Congress’ chief ministerial candidate in Uttar Pradesh, strongly denied the charges and trashed the documents, saying the Supreme Court has already made its observations on them.

No cockfights on Sankranti, orders Hyderabad High Court

Tue, 27 Dec 2016-12:20am , Hyderabad , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Hyderabad High Court on Monday directed the Andhra Pradesh government to take all possible measures to prevent cockfights during the Sankranti (Pongal) festival.Collectors must ensure that no cockfights take place in their respective districts, said the court in response to a public interest litigation against the game involving rosters. Traditionally, these fights are organised in Andhra Pradesh on the occasion of Sankranti, especially in the coastal areas of the state.They have become contentious due to animal rights issues and also because betting and other illegal activities are associated with them.

EC prepares for elections in 5 states, asks MHA to deploy 1 lakh paramilitary personnel

Mon, 26 Dec 2016-10:16pm , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An estimated one lakh paramilitary personnel along with state police forces are likely to be deployed in the upcoming assembly elections in five states, including politically crucial Uttar Pradesh. Election Commission (EC) has asked the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to make available 1,000 companies (100 personnel in each company) for the assembly elections expected to be held in next two months.The EC has made the request during a recent meeting with the top officials of the MHA which discussed various aspects of security during the polling, official sources said. In addition to the Central forces, police forces of all states will be deployed for the election duties.Sources said that the MHA is expected to accede to the request of the EC and convey its decision to the poll body soon. Assembly elections in Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur are expected to be held in single phase while in Uttar Pradesh it is likely to be multi-phased. The schedule for the polls is likely to be announced by the EC anytime between December 28 and January 4.

Demonetisation: Note ban adds to cotton farmers’ misery in AP and Telangana

Crop losses, mounting debts and a spate of pest attacks apart, the cotton farmers of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh now have to deal with the demon of demonetisation as well.

“The note ban has been a worse epidemic than the white fly or pink bollworm for cotton farmers,” says Konda Surekha, a former minister from Warangal, one of the most prominent cotton-growing areas in Telangana. These farmers are sour that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had picked a wrong time for banning big currency notes — the harvest period of the Kharif season for cash crops like tobacco, tomato, groundnut, sugarcane and cotton. Now prices have fallen by 20 to 30 percent and they are unable to clear loans due to the ushering-in of the cashless regime in agricultural markets.

“My cotton stock withered at the market yard as traders said they had no cash to pay and offered cheques,” said Jagarlamudi Anil Babu, a cotton farmer of Prakasam district. Farmers say that banks would rather adjust cheques towards loans and interest than disburse cash.

A variety of issues abound for the cotton and textile industry like the non-implementation of the promised loan waiver, the delay in institutional credit and fall in global demand.

Cotton farmers in five districts of Telangana and six districts of AP are wringing hands in distress as cotton prices crashed to Rs 4,100 per quintal from Rs 5,600 per quintal in the pre-demonetisation period. “Adding to our woes, the traders are asking us to accept payments in cheques or scrapped notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000,” says a cotton grower from Inkollur in coastal Andhra who deferred cotton-plucking for a week due to demonetisation.

Representational image of a cotton-gatherer in Warangal. AFP

Representational image of a cotton farmer in Warangal. AFP

The RBI decision to allow scrapped notes circulation among farmers in marketing their produce and also purchase of seeds and fertilisers has given them temporary relief, but Telangana’s farmers say that Modi should have chosen mid-January to February for demonetisation. A cascading impact is evident from the distress on cotton farmers — weddings, house warming functions and thread ceremonies are either low-key affairs or deferred. Besides cotton, the tobacco industry is dominated by 70 percent cash transactions in the vicious circle of growers, lenders, commission agents and exporters.

Andhra Pradesh and Telangana contribute to one-third of the country’s cotton trade. Chirala in Guntur and Siricilla in Karimangar are popular for their handloom and lungi markets and concentration of looms – they are considered the biggest in Asia for exports to Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

According to the US-based International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) the currency crunch in India has created shortages in domestic textile market and also hit exports to global markets. Cotton exports from Australia, Mali, Burkina Faso and the US could fill up the gap caused by Indian cotton in 2016-17. The ICAC report also blamed the note ban as an ‘untimely move’ detrimental to the Indian cotton market, which could have a domino effect for the next two years.

Officially 21 cotton farmers had committed suicide in 2016 from June to December. Unofficially though, 61 farmers have committed suicide since June and 12 more in the months of November and December.

Since its birth as a new state in June 2014, Telangana has recorded 1,269 suicides. The Hyderabad-based Centre for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA), estimates farmer suicides in Andhra Pradesh in the past 20 years (1995-2014) at 38,000. Lack of access to institutional credit and low crop insurance add to farmers’ woes. “Besides, in anticipation of loan waivers, a large number of farmers did not repay loans last year, and banks have refused loans this year,” points out GV Ramanjeyulu, executive director of CSA.

“They take up crops in Kharif with high interest loans and high expectations to wipe off old dues but often end up adding to their debts and consequent suicides,” says K Changal Reddy, a farmers’ representative.

 Local common sense

In many parts of Telangana and Andhra the crisis has been tackled with local common sense. “Farmers are deferring payments to daily wagers but pay partly in the form of rice and also stood guarantee to small loans taken by them in the local grocery shops,” says Palaparthi Srinivasa Rao, a cotton farmer of Srikakulam. Traders linked payments to fertilisers and seed suppliers for the benefit of farmers. “We also tied up with lorry operators and hotels to pay their dues from the amounts due to them,” says Gopalakrishnaiah, a cotton exporter in Guntur market.

Kuvulu Rythu Sangam (Andhra Pradesh Tenant Farmers’ Association) state secretary N Ranga Rao says that for the Kharif crop season, farmers needed Rs 3,200 crores to take up harvesting in about 40 lakh acres. Another Rs 2,400 crores is needed for the Rabi season. “Since private money lenders also do not have valid currencies now, we depend on government to release crop loans early,” he said.

The monthly report of the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) said the cotton market in Andhra Pradesh, one of the major producers in the country, has plunged into a deep crisis in the aftermath of demonetisation, as trade and export transactions have almost come to a halt and cotton prices have slumped by Rs 1,000 per quintal from Rs 5,000 to Rs 4,100 in just 40 days. Though the CCI has opened over 40 purchasing centres and offered cash payments in Rs 2,000 notes, the farmers are unwilling to sell and choose to suffer rather than sell at the current prices.

Arrears in loan waiver payments

Although both Andhra and Telangana government announced farm loans waiver as a poll promise, they have been paying dues to banks in installments. Telangana government had pegged arrears at around Rs 18,000 crores and Andhra had reduced the burden to Rs 36,000 crores. Banks were advised to issue new crop loans with the promise that loans as of June 2013 would be borne by the government. However, the RBI had opposed the bulk farm loan waiver initiative of both the states and advised banks to release only crop loans in a guarded manner and ensure that until clearance of arrears, farmers’ slates would not be cleaned.

As a result, banks refuse to give fresh loans until old loans are either paid by the farmer or by the state government. As a result, farmers had to take up farming with savings and loans from private money lenders. “My money lender wants cash and not cheque,” says Bharatakka, a cotton farmer of Ibrahimpatnam in Nalgonda district.

Cotton crop grown in Andhra is sent to the ginning mills of Guntur district which supply cotton to textile mills in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Karnataka. According to market sources, almost 70-80 percent of transactions have come to a halt and the market has been hit hard. This has meant the denial of wages to over two lakh people engaged in cotton trading, spinning, ginning and harvesting activities in the state.

In Telangana too, the situation is similar. Traders are offering farmers sops now to get them to sell their cotton and accept cheques — trips to Mumbai, Shirdi and Tirupati are being offered. “If we deposit the cheques in the banks, the bankers will adjust it against loans and interest and the government will not reimburse it,” said Muthyala Reddy of Warangal.

“Cotton trade is always cash and carry activity and bank operations are hardly 10-15 percent. If we offer to pay online or through cards, our suppliers of seeds and fertilises will just reject,” says a cotton farmer, K Samaiah at Enumamula market yard in Warangal. “The ceiling on withdrawals had also made us delay payments. The government cap on withdrawal at Rs 24,000 per week has sandwiched the farmers,” says Phani Raj, a cotton trader at Chilakaluripeta.

Continuing trouble for cotton

The cotton crisis since 2014 in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh had led farmers to shift to other crops due to delay in institutional credit and an unending wait for farm loan waivers. The total area under cotton declined by 12 percent to 10.5 million hectares this year against 11.88 million hectares in 2015-16.

In 2015 and in early 2016 the crop was hit by the white fly and pink bollworm leading to 30 percent drop in yields. “We are asking the farmers not to use non-Bt cotton seed as refuge crop and reduce area under cotton,” says K Dhananjaya Reddy, commissioner for agriculture (Andhra Pradesh).

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 15:21 IST

Yadav vs Yadav: Fresh power play by Akhilesh, Shivpal over ticket distribution

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The contentious issue of ticket distribution today again exposed the rift in Samajwadi Party with state party chief Shivpal Yadav attacking Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav over his reported parallel list of candidates.The choice of candidates for 175 seats by Shivpal has apparently not gone down well with his defiant nephew Akhilesh who, according to party insiders, is understood to have prepared his own list of preferred candidates for all the 403 UP Assembly seats and sent it to his father and party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav.This is Akhilesh’s second power play in the last three days. On December 24, Akhilesh had met first-time MLAs at his residence and promised to give them party tickets.Chinks in the ruling party’s armour once again came to the fore when Shivpal sent out a series of tweets virtually suggesting that he was the boss when it came to distributing tickets for the assembly elections due in few months.Shivpal said the name of 175 candidates were already finalised and warned that any indiscipline would not be tolerated as it may harm the party’s image. He asserted that distribution of party tickets was done on on the basis of winnability.”Tickets will be distributed based on wins. So far 175 people have been given tickets. The Chief Minister will be selected by the legislature party which is according to the party’s constitution. No indiscipline will be tolerated in the party,” he tweeted in Hindi.While party sources maintained that Mulayam will take the final call on candidates, UP minister Juhi Singh sought to downplay any controversy over ticket distribution saying it was a non-issue.During their recent public turf war after Akhilesh was replaced with Shivpal as party chief by Mulayam, the former had insisted that he should have a say in the ticket distribution as the election was a test of his government’s performance.The latest development comes after Mulayam had brokered a fragile peace between Shivpal and Akhilesh as the infighting threatened to damage SP’s poll prospects.As differences over ticket distribution cropped up, opposition parties took a swipe at the ruling party in Uttar Pradesh.”This is a sign that the party (SP) is in total disarray and they talk about giving a fight to the BJP,” UP BJP General Secretary Vijay Bahadur Pathak said.The tussle in Samajwadi Party will prove to be its nemesis in the coming polls, Pathak said.Congress termed the development as SP’s “internal matter”.

Uttar Pradesh: BJP takes jibe at Yadav family, says Samajwadi Party should focus on law and order

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday taunted the ongoing feud between Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and his b’te noire uncle Shivpal Yadav, saying the first family of the Samajwadi Party should resolve the ‘mahabharat’ and focus on law and order, corruption and lack of administration in the politically crucial state.BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli also used the occasion to take a jibe at reports suggesting about the possibility of a ‘mahagathbandhan’ in the run up to next year’s Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls.”However, in the first family of the Samajwadi Party of Uttar Pradesh a ‘mahabharat’ is already on for quite some time. Now, it appears that there are multiple lists – one by the uncle, one by the nephew who is the Chief Minister and there are all sorts of disputes. They should resolve that,” Kohli told ANI.”As far as the people of Uttar Pradesh are concerned, they are obviously going to vote on the track record of the Samajwadi Party. The substantial issues are law and order, corruption and the lack of administration,” he added.The tussle in Uttar Pradesh’s ruling family reignited yesterday after Akhilesh drew up his own list of poll candidates and submitted it to Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, bypassing his uncle and state president Shivpal Yadav.The Chief Minister’s surprise move angered Shivpal, who is officially in-charge of ticket distribution in consultation with the party president.Shivpal tweeted that ticket distribution would be decided by ‘victory potential'”The party will not tolerate any indiscipline that might hurt the party’s image,” he tweeted.According to sources, Akhilesh while reviewing the list of candidates for 403 assembly seats expressed concern over the party giving 181 tickets to ‘tainted’ persons.This is not the first time that Akhilesh and his uncle have clashed over tickets distribution. The Chief Minister, who is of the view that his image and record is party’s strength, had earlier this month expressed displeasure over the decision to field don-turned politicians Atiq Ahmed and Mukhtar Ansari’s brother Sibaqtullah Ansari for next year’s elections.The Ansari brothers belong to Quami Ekta Dal, which recently merged with the party despite opposition from Akhilesh.Mulayam has so far made all attempts to engineer a truce between his son and brother, but seat allotment has remained a thorny issue in the Samajwadi Party.

Sheila Dixit junks Sahara documents: BJP takes on Rahul Gandhi for ‘fabricated’ claims

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday questioned Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s intent after former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit junked the documents related to ‘Sahara diaries’ bribery issue and said this clearly indicates that whatever he speaks is lie and fabricated.”Everyone knows that Sheila Dikshit is a trusted person of the Gandhi family and if she has refuted and she has very clearly stated that there is no truth in it the fact is now open to everyone to see that what the intent of Mr Rahul Gandhi was and what he is up to,” BJP leader Zafar Islam said. “That is why I am saying again and again that people of India do not pay attention to Rahul Gandhi because it is all lie and all fabricated and always far far away from truth,” he added.With the Congress vice-president targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi over ‘Sahara diaries’ bribery issue, a controversy erupted after the grand old party put out a list linked to it on Twitter in which a reference to Dikshit also allegedly figured. Dikshit, who is the Congress’ chief ministerial candidate in Uttar Pradesh, strongly denied the charges and trashed the documents, saying the Supreme Court has already made its observations on them.

Delhi: Brace yourself for foggier days ahead, says IMD

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While Delhiites gear up to usher in the New Year in style, weather might play a spoilsport, with dense fog and smog expected in the coming week. The national Capital was engulfed in a thick layer of fog on Sunday, resulting in a low visibility of around 300m.At 8.30am, visibility was recorded at 600m. It dropped down to 300m at 11.30am, before improving a bit three hours later. A shallow layer of fog enveloped the city till afternoon, while sun was not visible throughout the day. Maximum and minimum temperatures were recorded at 24.5 degrees Celsius and 8 degrees Celsius, respectively.According to an India Meteorological Department (IMD) official, the maximum temperature was expected to rise in the coming week, with shallow fog likely to occur in Delhi-NCR, especially on December 29 and 30. The weatherman said the maximum humidity was recorded as 98 per cent, whereas minimum was at 91%. “Though the weather was quite pleasant on Sunday, the coming days might be a little warmer, as maximum temperature is going to increase,” said R Vishen, Scientist-In-Charge, Regional Meteorological Centre (RMC), IMD.Meanwhile, despite the weather helping, air quality in the Capital remained in the “very poor” category. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on Sunday marked the Capital’s air under “very poor” category. “The winter has finally begun to set in and there will be more smog in the coming days. The air quality might even reach the “severe” category,” said Anumita Roy Chowdhury, Head of the Centre for Science and Environment’s (CSE) clean air campaign.In the neighbouring east and west Uttar Pradesh, moderate fog with isolated dense fog in many areas is expected to build up in the next few days. This weather spells trouble for people with asthma and a weak immune system.

Dinanath Bhargava who sketched national emblem dies at 89 in Indore

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Dinanath Bhargava, a co-artist in the team that sketched the national emblem ‘Lion Capital of Ashoka’ and decorated the pages of the Constitution’s manuscript, died at the age of 89 in Indore.Bhargava was suffering from cardiac ailments since the past decade.His daughter-in-law Sapekshi Bhargava said that he breathed his last on Saturday. “He is survived by four children including two sons,” she added.Born on November 1, 1927 at Multai in Betul district of Madhya Pradesh, Bhargava was chosen by noted painter Nandlal Bose, then the Principal of Kala Bhavan Shanti Niketan, in the group for designing the pages of the Indian Constitution’s manuscript.Bhargava was pursuing a 3-year Diploma in Fine Arts at Shanti Niketan at that time.The national emblem of India was adapted by the Government of India on 26th January 1950.

Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah caught getting his shoelace tied by man: Yet another instance of VVIP elitism

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah was caught on camera getting his shoelaces tied by a man. A video tweeted by ANI shows the chief minister getting his laces tied and even offering his second leg to the man who was tying his shoelaces.

#WATCH: Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah caught on camera while getting his shoelaces tied by a person, in Mysuru.

— ANI (@ANI_news) December 25, 2016

Meanwhile, the media adviser to the Siddaramaiah has clarified in a tweet that the man seen tying the shoelaces is not his staff or employee but his relative.

It is hereby clarified that the person tying CM Siddaramaiah’s shoelaces is not his staff but his relative: Media Adviser to Karnataka CM

— ANI (@ANI_news) December 25, 2016

The video generated considerable interest among Twitterati who were appalled by the chief minister’s actions. And, General Secretary of BJP in Karnataka, CT Ravi tweeted that it showed the “arrogance of a pseudo socialist.”

Arrogance of Pseudo Socialist @CMofKarnataka has no limits. Absolutely disgusting that Siddaramaiah gets his shoes fitted by an assistant.

— C.T.Ravi (@CTRavi_BJP) December 25, 2016

This faux pas comes from Siddramaiah just days after his Twitter page erroneously wrote Siachen instead of Sichuan and his team took almost 30 hours to correct the error.

Such VIP elitism isn’t new. Earlier this year, the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Singh Chouhan came under fire after he visited a flood hit district in Madhya Pradesh but he was carried by others.

Panna: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan visits flood affected areas in the state.

— ANI (@ANI_news) August 21, 2016

Pankaja Munde, the minister for rural development, women and child development in Mahrashtra also got into a bit of trouble after a member of her staff was seen carrying her slippers during her recent tour of drought-affected regions in the state. During her visit to Sonpeth in Parbhani district, Munde took her slippers off seeing a muddy road ahead; while she walked bare-feet, a man picked up her slippers which the news channels showed.

First Published On : Dec 25, 2016 15:29 IST

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

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

Rajnath Singh expresses confidence about BJP sweeping UP polls

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday expressed confidence about the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sweeping the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections next year with an absolute majority.BJP will win the Uttar Pradesh election with an absolute majority, Singh said while en route to Lucknow.Singh, who will address parivartan rally in Lucknow, added, ‘BJP’s parivartan rally has laid the foundation of change in Uttar Pradesh and people of the state also believe that change is certain.”Speaking on demonetisation, Singh said the decision to impose a ban on Rs 500 and Rs. 1000 currency notes should not be seen as an election issue.”Demonetization is not about electoral loss or victory. The demonetization decision has been taken keeping national interest in mind, and therefore, it should not be associated with the election,” Singh said, adding that the demonetization decision has been taken to curb corruption, black money and to strengthen the economy of the country.He further said that the demonetisation also helped fight terrorism as many accounts of the Naxalites have been seized post the announcement of the drive.

Congress’s second Punjab list out

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Treading cautiously yet again, Congress while releasing the second list of candidates for the upcoming Assembly elections in Punjab remained silent on the fate of SAD turncoats.A list of 16 candidates was released by Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), which included six sitting MLAs, namely President, Indian Youth Congress (IYC), Amarinder Singh Raja Warring from Gidderbaha, Amrik Singh Dhillon from Samrala, Jagmohan Singh Kang from Kharar and Karan Kaur Brar from Muktsar. Two youth Congress leaders were also nominated, including Birenderjit Singh Pahra (Gurdaspur) and Daman Thind Bajwa (Sunam).

Lunch pe charcha: When PM Modi brought his own tiffin to lunch with booth workers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday brought his own tiffin to lunch with BJP booth workers’ in Varanasi where he addressed a rally and shared his own experiences.”Everyone including PM Shri Narendra Modi brought their own tiffins and had discussion over a meal,” said BJP on Twitter.It also added that ‘such equality’ was possible only in BJP.The party said that Modi interacted and had lunch with more than 26,000 booth workers belonging to over 1700 booths in Varanasi.On his first visit to his Lok Sabha constituency since demonetisation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked BJP cadres in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh to tell people about the central government’s initiatives.Modi, who interacted with party cadres and had lunch with them, sought to enthuse them by sharing his own experiences and telling them how he rose through the ranks, according to Piysh Vardhan Singh Rajkumar, co-convener of the BJP’s IT cell for Kashi region.This was Modi’s first visit to his constituency Varanasi since announcing demonetization decision on November 8.(With PTI inputs)

Agra-Lucknow Expressway to open for commuters today: Akhilesh Yadav’s development spree continues

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav‘s ambitious new Agra-Lucknow Expressway, which was inaugurated in November, will open for commuters on Friday. Akhilesh, who plans to contest the upcoming Assembly elections in the state on the plank of development, on Thursday also laid the foundation of Purvanchal Expressway project which will connect Lucknow to Ghazipur. With Assembly polls likely to be announced any time now, Akhilesh has been on a ribbon cutting spree since the start of the week and set a record of sorts.

The 302-kilometre-long six-lane expressway, which is India’s longest, is expected to considerably reduce the travel time between Lucknow and Delhi which usually takes 12 to 14 hours. The dream project of Akhilesh was inaugurated in Bangarmau by his father and Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav on the eve of latter’s birthday at least a month ago.In a first for any road launch, six fighter jets of the Indian Air Force (IAF) on Monday made a touchdown barely skimming the road before taking off to mark the opening of the Agra-Lucknow Expressway which can be also used for war-like emergency situations.

The Agra-Lucknow Expressway, which was built in a record time of 23 months, is expected to reduce the road travel time between Delhi and Lucknow by five to six hours. According to The Financial Express, the Agra-Lucknow Expressway has a design speed of up to 120 kms per hour and will have automatic traffic management systems aimed at reducing road accidents and helping even at the time of fog. The report added that the six-lane expressway is expandable to eight lanes.

At a prepatory meeting, states chief secretary Rahul Bhatnagar met with UP Expressways Industrial Development (UPEIDA) and police officials earlier this week to ensure that the necessary traffic management system, road safety and emergency services are in place. Quoting Bhatnagar, Hindustan Times reported, “Police officers have been told to provide one police van (Dial 100) and one ambulance (108 service) on every 30 kilometre stretch of the expressway and also set up requisite check posts.”

File photo of UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. PTI

File photo of UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. PTI

At the time of inauguration, three Mirage 2000 and three Sukhoi-30 jets of the IAF carried out the ‘touch and go’ on a portion of the newly constructed Expressway which has an RCC construction and reinforced and appropriately marked to facilitate aircraft landings. The portion used for the operations is located at Ganj Moradabad in Unnao district in Uttar Pradesh. The expressway has an 8-lane bridge across the river Ganga. This will connect Kanpur and Unnao.

The aim of the exercise is to check feasibility of Expressways being used as alternate airstrips in case of dire emergencies or non-availability of runways for any reason, a defence official said.

Reports said that the Expressway includes 4 rail over bridges, 13 major bridges, 57 minor bridges, 74 vehicular underpasses, 148 pedestrian underpasses and 9 flyovers. It also stretches across 10 districts, 236 villages and 3,500 hectares of land.

The Agra-Lucknow Expressway is considered to be a Greenfield project as there were no work constraints of existing buildings or infrastructure. Uttar Pradesh Expressway Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA) purchased almost 3,127 hectares of land without a murmur of dissent and decided to pay four times the circle rates (CR) to the land owners in rural areas and twice the CR in urban parts, as purchase cost. The rest of land was acquired through land acquisition method.

Mulayam, at the time of inauguration, congratulated officials for completing the Expressway in a record two years time along with the chief minister who took personal interest in it.

“At the time of laying of foundation stone of the Expressway, I had asked as to when it will be completed and when four years were asked for its completion I had refused to lay the foundation stone. Later, however, it was done giving 22 months for completing it. The result is before everyone to see that today the road is ready in two years. Earlier, it used to take 12 to 14 hours to reach Delhi and now the distance will be covered in far less time. It will be very beneficial for the people,” he said. Akhilesh said the project would prove to be an example before the country as no other state had such a vast expressway. “Samajwadis will go to the polls on the back of such great work,” the SP chief said.

“When roads are laid they lead to development, this road will connect capitals like New Delhi and Lucknow, it will have industries, petrol pumps and mandis along the route and on returning to power in Uttar Pradesh, the SP government will take this expressway further till Ghazipur and Ballia in record time, it will connect one end of the state to the other,” he said.

A high-level meeting held in November, which was presided over by the chief secretary Rahul Bhatnagar, it was decided that every 30 km, on both sides of the 302-km long Expressway, a Dial-100 police vehicle and 108 Ambulance would be stationed for any emergencies. It was also instructed that signages and milestones be put up before the route is thrown open for public use. The chief secretary also ordered breath analysers and speed radars to check traffic violators on the Expressway.

With inputs from agencies

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 13:00 IST

Mock me but reply my questions: Rahul Gandhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Some 400 km away from Varanasi, in Bahraich, a combative Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi asked the PM to mock him, but reply his questions as well. At a ‘jan aakrosh rally’ in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, he told Modi that he could make fun of him as much as he can but should answer the questions raised by him.“The charges have not been levelled by me alone but by the youth of India who feel cheated as you had promised them jobs,” an aggressive Rahul said. Sticking to his guns, he alleged Modi, as Gujarat chief minister, had taken Rs 40 crore from the Sahara group in nine instalments over six months between 2013 and 2014. Coming down hard against the note ban, he insisted that the prime minister came out with the surprise decision not to help the poor but the ‘super rich 50 families of India’. “I will repeat the same question to the PM…Congress wants to eradicate corruption and if the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) initiates any step in this direction, it will be extended full support but this note ban decision is not against corruption or black money,” he said.“Modiji said those standing in bank queues are thieves. Today, I saw people standing in front of banks. Modiji, they are not thieves but honest poor,” he said, adding that there was not a single rich or ‘suited, booted’ person who is seen on the Prime Minister’s aircraft when he goes abroad, standing in the lines. ‘Modiji, first tell us what was contained in the 10 packets from Sahara,” he later tweeted.

BJP using Shivaji memorial event to market PM Modi, CM Fadnavis: Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Congress on Thursday accused the BJP-led Maharashtra government of trying to derive a political mileage from a scheduled foundation stone laying ceremony of Chhatrapati Shivaji memorial, which will be performed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”Government is spending Rs 18 crore for publicity of the event. The money is being used for marketing Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s image.”Instead of wasting money on marketing the two leaders, the amount should be utilised for construction of the memorial,” Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) president Ashok Chavan told reporters.Against the backdrop of the BJP touting the project as “vachanpurti” or fulfilment of their electoral promise, Chavan said it was the Congress which had made the commitment for the construction of the memorial in their poll manifesto.”When we assured this in our manifesto the BJP never spoke about it. We even made the budgetary provision for the project. BJP is politicising the event. Fishing community has some reservations and the government should resolve them,” he added.

Ahead of elections, UP govt gives assent to include 17 Other Backward Castes in SC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Playing the caste card ahead of Assembly elections, the Akhilesh Yadav government on Thursday gave its assent to include 17 Other Backward Castes in the Scheduled Castes (SC) list.A Cabinet meeting presided over by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Thursday morning cleared the proposal in this regard, officials said.The proposal, considered to be aimed at wooing the OBCs in the coming elections, will now be sent to the Centre for clearance, they said. The 17 sub-castes which the government wants included in the SC category are Kahar, Kashyap, Kewat, Nishad, Bind, Bhar, Prajapati, Rajbhar, Batham, Gaur, Tura, Majhi, Mallah, Kumhar, Dheemar and Machua.Earlier in March 2013, the Uttar Pradesh Assembly had passed a resolution asking the Centre to include 17 castes of the state into the list of Scheduled Castes (SC) category.In the resolution presented by Social Welfare Minister Avdhesh Prasad and passed by the voice vote in the House, it was stated that in a detailed study by UP SC/ST Research and Training Institute, these 17 castes have been found ‘deserving’ to be included in the list of Scheduled Castes (SC).The Mulayam Singh Yadav government too had passed the resolution in the state Cabinet in February 2004 and had sent recommendation to the Centre for inclusion of these castes in SC list in December 2004.Later, Mulayam went ahead and issued a government order on October 10, 2005 giving SC benefits to these castes, which was, however, struck down by the High Court.Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh are likely to be held early next year.

SP continues to be govt of ‘gundaraj’: BSP attacks Yadavs over woman’s beating in Mainpuri

Thu, 22 Dec 2016-01:53pm , New Delhi , ANI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) on Thursday condemned the Mainpuri incident where a woman was brutally beaten for resisting molestation and said the ruling Samajwadi Party continues to be the government of gundaraj.”We have seen very recently that in Mainpuri district, which is Akhilesh Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav’s home district, a woman has been mercilessly and brutally beaten up by goons of the Samajwadi Party. Therefore, Akhilesh Yadav’s party continues to be the government of gundaraj and I am sure that this time the people of UP will show Akhilesh Yadav the door,” BSP leader Sudhindra Bhadoria said.He further said that incidents of gang-rape, molestation and women battering are going on unabatedly under the Samajwadi Party’s regime in Uttar Pradesh.
ALSO READ Watch: Woman brutally beaten for resisting molestation in Uttar PradeshA woman was recently molested and later beaten up along with her husband in Uttar Pradesh’s Mainpuri district in broad daylight. The video of the brutal incident has also gone viral.

Watch: Woman brutally beaten for resisting molestation in Uttar Pradesh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Uttar Pradesh police has arrested a man for brutally beating a woman in a market place for resisting molestation.A case has been registered at Kishani area police station in Mainpuri against the three miscreants.One of the suspects, Anand Yadav, has been arrested. A special team has been made to nab the remaining two culprits.”I was asking a few persons about Ajay’s shop, but they said that come inside with us, we will tell you. I asked him to talk with respect. But he started abusing us and started fighting. The person used a stick to beat my husband, but hit me instead,” the victim said.Superintendant of Police Sunil Saxena said, “We have registered the case and after that the medical checkup was done. We have taken the preventive action by arresting the accused. The accused was arrested within hours of the incident and after that a special team has been made to arrest the remaining culprits. We have made a team which includes the surveillance team and sub-inspectors. I am monitoring that; soon we will complete the remaining proceedings.”

Tamil Nadu: Rama Mohana Rao sacked, Girija Vaidyanathan appointed as new chief secretary

Tamil Nadu’s chief secretary P Rama Mohana Rao was sacked from his post on Thursday following Income Tax Department’s raids on his official residence in Chennai, reports said.

Rao, who was appointed as the new chief secretary just six months ago in a major reshuffle, has been replaced by Girija Vaidyanathan, an Indian Administrative Service officer of the 1981 batch, CNN-News18 said.

Apart from taking on the role as chief secretary, Vaidyanathan will also hold full additional charge of vigilance commissioner and commissioner for administrative reforms, The Hindu said.

Vaidyanathan was serving as the additional chief secretary and commissioner of land administration in Tamil Nadu, CNN-News18, said. However, according to The Hindu, she is just two and half years away from retirement.

On Wednesday, the I-T Department had initiated raids on 13 premises including Rao’s official residence in Chennai, his son, Vivek’s house in the city, and that of his relatives in Andhra Pradesh.

According to reports, the raids started at Rao’s Annanagar residence in Chennai for 24 hours, during which the tax officials recovered Rs 30 lakh in new Rs 2,000 notes, five kilogrammes of gold and documents with details of undisclosed assets worth about Rs 5 crore, The Indian Express said.

Reports also said that the raid was conducted based on information received from some road contractors who were detained for questioning based on previous raids. Rao was appointed chief secretary in June this year.

First Published On : Dec 22, 2016 13:00 IST

Now, Law Ministry to bring tribals under Uniform Civil Code, too

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While debate over Muslim Personal Law is still raging in the country, the Law Commission has now decided to bring tribals under the ambit of the proposed Uniform Civil Code (UCC). Tribals in India have so far governed themselves and decided their own customs through special constitutional rights.Top sources in the commission and law ministry told dna that the commission is soon likely to come up with its second questionnaire seeking public opinion on whether tribals should be brought under UCC.The questionnaire is also likely to have questions pertaining to certain practices that are part of some tribal cultures. Some controversial practices in tribals include wife-swapping and mating of minors.In October, the law panel came out with its first questionnaire, asking citizens to give their views on ending several religious practices and customs that had been branded anti-women in major religions—Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. It sought public views on controversial practices such as triple talaq, polygamy, polyandry, Maitri-Karar and a long waiting period for divorce in Christianity. Maitri-Karar, even though banned by law, is still practised sporadically in Gujarat.Through this, a married Hindu man signs a friendship pact on stamp paper with another woman and brings her home to live together.That questionnaire did not have any specific questions related to tribals but a certain section of the community has already moved the Supreme Court against the UCC. In their petition, they contended that government was making an attempt to impose UCC which will be against their ethos, customs and religious practices. To this, the commission had said they were open to suggestions and objections from tribals.Sources in the commission and law ministry confirmed the development and said that the decision to include tribals in UCC was taken in a high level meeting on December 7. The officials also discussed the desirability and feasibility of a supplementary questionnaire for the purpose of engaging tribals in the debate and the law commission chairman Justice BS Chauhan gave a go-ahead to the idea of second questionnaire, sources said.”Certain constitutional and legal safeguards available to various communities and groups such as Article 371 A, 371 B, article 244 read with fifth and sixth schedule of the Constitution of India, Section 1 of CrPC and section 1 of IPC also needs to be taken into consideration while working on a Uniform Civil Code,” Sources quoted Justice Chauhan from December 7 meeting.Article 371 A gives special status to Nagaland, which houses a significant tribal population while article 371 B grants special status to Assam which again houses many tribes. Nagaland in fact has cultural autonomy in following their traditional practices as Article 371 A bars legislation by Parliament on “Naga Customary law and procedure”.Similarly, the thrust of Article 244, the fifth and sixth schedule is the protection of cultural distinctiveness of tribals across the country.There are total 645 district tribes in the country and the states which have maximum tribal population are North Eastern states, Chhatisgarh, Odisha, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh etc.According to sources, the panel decided to include tribals in the proposed UCC after analyzing responses to the first questionnaire.Sources said responses to the Commission from Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and West Bangal Chief Ministers Trinamool Congress formed the basis of the idea.The two political parties questioned the fallout of the Uniform Civil Code on the constitutional provisions which provide special status to tribals.Quoting AIMIM’s response to the commission, a source said, “Will a Uniform Civil Code not violate certain provisions of the Constitution. If exceptions may be created for certain groups-then what shall be the basis of such exceptions?”

Tamil Nadu: IT sleuths raid chief secretary residence, office; recover Rs 30 lakh, five kg gold

Chennai: In perhaps the first case of a top bureaucrat being raided, the house and office of Tamil Nadu chief secretary was on Wednesday searched by Income Tax officials who claimed to have recovered Rs 30 lakh cash in new notes and five kgs of gold besides getting “disclosure” about Rs five crore of unaccounted income.

With about 35 personnel of CRPF providing security, around 100 Income Tax sleuths, launched the raids as early as 6 am at 15 places, including the office and the residence of Chief Secretary P Rama Mohana Rao, his son Vivek and some relatives in Chennai and Chittoor in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, IT sources said.

A top Income Tax official said Rs 30 lakh in cash in new notes and five kgs of gold were recovered during the raids.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

“Disclosure” of Rs 5 crore of unaccounted income allegedly by Vivek was also obtained, he added.

Rao or his son could not be contacted for their comments.

The IT action came in connection with a case related to the biggest cash haul of new notes post demonetisation after the department raided some sand mining operators of Tamil Nadu in Chennai.

“We proceeded (to carry out the raids) on the basis of evidence which includes documents, notings and others pointing to receipt of income by Rao and his son to the tune of about Rs 16 crore to Rs 17 crore,” the Income Tax official said.

The search locations included the residence of Rao here, his kin and associates, besides his chamber at the Secretariat, he said.

The searches, top IT sources said, were launched against Rao’s son Vivek Papisetty and his relatives, including his father-in-law based in Chittoor.

To a query on the type of evidence they had, the official said, “We have lots of evidence, otherwise, how we can conduct searches.”

He referred to the recent seizure of Rs 135 crore in cash and 177 kg of gold from sand mining baron Shekar Reddy and Srinivasulu and said “through that (operation) too we have evidence”, without elaborating.

Reddy and and his associate K Srinivasulu were on Wednesday arrested by CBI and remanded to judicial custody by a Chennai court.

First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 22:41 IST

Comments on demonetization were distorted: Chandrababu Naidu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> A day after making critical remarks on demonetization, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Wednesday said his comments were “distorted” and that he has been supporting the exercise.He, however, said problems arising in the aftermath of demonetization “continue” as “we are going (about them) in a routine manner”. “We have to take an innovative approach,” he remarked. He heads the panel set up by the Centre to look into issues arising from demonetization. His party- TDP- is part of the NDA government. The 13-member committee would meet again on December 28 to work out solutions to the ongoing problem, he said.”I spoke to (NITI Aayog CEO) Amitabh Kant this morning and asked him to convene the meeting,” he said.He said he had sought a ban on high denomination notes “long ago” and written a letter to the Prime Minister seeking abolition of 500 and 1,000 rupee notes after the recent Income Disclosure Scheme.”I have supported this (demonetization) concept,” he said, inaugurating a two-day conference of district Collectors here. Addressing a workshop of Telugu Desam MPs, legislators and leaders here yesterday, he had said, “demonetization was not our wish but it happened. More than 40 days after demonetization, there are still a lot of problems but yet there appears to be no solution.””I am spending two hours daily to ease the problems caused by demonetization. I am breaking my head daily but we are unable to find a solution to this problem,” he had said.He claimed that his remarks were “distorted by some”. “I am disgusted with the way money is distributed during elections. Why should we spend money in elections? That’s why I wanted a ban on big notes,” Chandrababu said.”In my life, I did not focus on anything as much as I focused on demonetization. I troubled the bankers, RBI and the district Collectors by reviewing the situation for hours every day. But still things did not happen as fast as we wanted,” he said. “There is attitude problem. We could not make use of the available infrastructure and we could not innovate,” he said, referring to the problems being faced by people in the aftermath of note ban.”I am totally pained that we could not distribute welfare pensions on time this month. I was so angry. I gave a warning to the banks and then the RBI acted. From now on, we will distribute pensions physically and not through banks,” the Chief Minister said.He also spoke on other topics like growing number of divorces in the US, the problem of aged population in Japan and of ageing population in China and the advantage India has in terms of “demographic dividend”.

UP polls | Problems faced by people due to demonetization will lead us to victory: Akhilesh Yadav

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav feels the days of caste-based politics in the state are over and now the two Ds — development and demonetization problems — will work in favour of the Samajwadi Party in the upcoming assembly polls.According to him, his family feud is no more a factor and all issues have been changed post demonetization. “That is a thing of past now. We are working together to win the elections. Issues have changed and post demonetization nobody remembers that (family feud) now. All the other issues have been left behind and demonetization has emerged as the key issue,” he said.He asserted that Uttar Pradesh will vote for his work, image and not on caste equations. “Our work in last five years and the problems people are facing due to demonetization will lead us to victory in upcoming elections. Jo kataarein ATM ke bahar lagi hai wo polling booth ke bahar lagegi (polling booths will see long queues like ones outside ATMs now),” Akhilesh.When asked who he considers the bigger rival — BJP or BSP, he said people of Uttar Pradesh have lost faith in both of them. “BJP has done nothing for Uttar Pradesh in last two and a half years. The Prime Minister was elected from UP, home minister and defence minister are also representing UP. They have maximum number of MPs from UP but they have given nothing to the state apart from Adarsh Gaon Yojna and nothing is happening on that front also,” he said.”As far as BSP is concerned, people are not interested in getting elephants installed everywhere,” he added.His father and SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav has already ruled out any pre-poll alliance with Congress but Akhilesh said it will be premature to predict anything as of now. “Of course the party president will take a call on that but I believe that we will get 300 plus seats if we enter into a pre-poll alliance with Congress. I know that netaji (Mulayam) has said there will be merger, no alliances but there is still time for the elections and you must wait and watch. Politics is full of surprises and you never know what will happen tomorrow,” he said.”I do not have any doubt on getting an absolute majority but we can get 300 plus seats if we fight together. Samajwadis believe that Congress is their best friend when it is weak,” he said.

RISE INDIA aims at training 1,00,000 drivers in 3 years

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>At the Skill India exhibition organised in Kanpur by Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Prime Minster Narendra Modi, announced the e-launch of RISE INDIA’s new driving training institutes at various locations in the country. RISE INDIA, a NSDC partnered company and a Strategic Investment firm contributing to Skill Development and Education across India, have launched state-of-the-art driving training centers at Sikar and Coimbatore.This announcement was made in the presence of in the presence of Honorable Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Union Minister of State Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Murli Manohar Joshi, Member of Parliament, Kanpur, UP, Ram Naik, Governor, Uttar Pradesh, Devendra Singh, Member of Parliament, Akbarpur, UP. RISE INDIA will train around 1,00,000 drivers over a period of three years. The joint project will involve Ola and NSDC identifying people from various section of the society and skilling them to become driver entrepreneurs.Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, said, “There is a growing need to introduce and participate in National movements and initiatives favoring skill development to foster rural and economically underprivileged people of our country. Dedicated partners such as RISEINDIA help us add value to the lives of countless youth through efficient education, training, skill and entrepreneurship development”.Ajay Chhangani, CEO, RISE INDIA said, “This is a proud moment for RISE INDIA. This initiative not only contributes to the Prime Minister’s Skill India Mission, but also creates a robust skill ecosystem for the youth by generating value in skilled professionals. Together with OLA, we will enhance the capacities of driving training centers or programmes across the country to provide effective training and development in the country”.Ashok Jain, Chairman, RISE INDIA, said, “We are grateful to be a part of this initiative taken by Government of India. As we all know the transport industry is in great need of skilled drivers, with a lack of expert drivers troubling the vehicular environment. We note immense potential in our partnership and are certain that this will bring about great impact along with some great opportunities for the youth of India especially for those who want to be a part of the automotive industry under this project”.RISE INDIA has been on the forefront, contributing to the Skill India Mission through innovative skill training programmes, simultaneously building livelihood for youths across the country. At the launch ceremony, key representatives from investors, members, advisors and partners of RISE INDIA came forward to boost driving training and generate more employment in the driving sector. The organization invested Rs. three to five crore in each of the institutes. Each of these institutes are fully equipped with latest technologies and facilities such as Simulators, Driving Tracks, Jodging and Boarding, LNV, HMV and Earth Moving Infra equipments. Training will be completely free for all the candidates under PMKVY ,The flagship program under Minsitry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship.In the next seven years, RISE INDIA will be providing effective training to over 2.5 lakh candidates and simultaneously up skill another 2.5 lakh existing drivers, raising awareness on crucial issues such as road safety, and technically advanced driving skills. The preeminent organization will be setting up over 50 centers in various locations including Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Rajasthan.When it comes to road safety, there is a lack of awareness among drivers. Tapping this potential need for innovative driving training, RISE INDIA, one of the largest organizations providing Driving Training in India, offers effective and comprehensive driving training, promoting holistic development of individuals. Driving training is an important sector, which not only leads to employment and self-employment, but also enhances road safety, ensuring social mobility and economic progress of the nation.Through its ventures, RISE INDIA has succeeded in the training and placement of students in sectors such as retail, IT, BSFI, construction, driving and renewable energy. Since its incorporation in 2012, RISE INDIA has witnessed an escalated growth with employee strength of over 300 and a PAN India presence, distinguishing itself from its contemporaries.

Sheroes to get honoured for selfless service

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In an attempt to recognise the efforts of women who have chosen unconventional life paths for the betterment of society, Stop Acid Attack (SAA) has decided to confer upon them an award named ‘Sheroes Samman’.“We are planning to give ‘Sheroes Samman’ award to women who have broken the stereotype and are engaged in unconventional jobs, such as driving a bus or an auto, or those who have been educating other women in rural areas,” said Ashish Shukla, one of the founding members of the SAA campaign.The name of the award has been derived from name of a chain of cafes — ‘Sheroes Hangout’ — opened in various parts of Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Udaipur to rehabilitate acid attack survivors from across the country. The group has called for nationwide nominations and the final results will be declared in March next year.“We will choose the women by taking into account suggestions and entries online. We are still working on the list. The results will be declared in March 2017,” Ashish said.Razi Sultan, winner of the United Nations (UN) Malala Award, has already been shortlisted. The rest of the names are still being discussed.“We launched the award last year, but this time, we are doing it at a larger scale and on a bigger platform. We have invited entries and are also sending invitations to a lot of ‘Sheroes’ ourselves,” Ashish added.Last year, Vineeta Arora had won the award for her selfless work to better the lives of street dogs. Having grown up witnessing the discrimination between pet and stray dogs, and the cruel treatment meted out to the latter, the Gulmohar Park resident had decided to become the voice of the defenceless creatures while she was still in college.At the time, she used to write articles to spread awareness regarding several issues, including treatment of injured dogs, among people.Then she started feeding and treating stray dogs by getting associated with various NGOs, shelter homes and pet houses. She, however, faced strong resistance from local people. “Many people picked fights with me while I was feeding the dogs and the cows. At least in case of cows, religious factors cropped in, but no one cared about the dogs,” Vineeta said.The journey became even more difficult after she got married. “In the initial years of marriage, I could not work for these dogs as my in-laws raised objections. I could not keep dogs at home as well,” she said.But gradually, the opposition fell away.Vineeta’s hardwork finally paid off when she started her own shelter home in Agra in 2014, with the help of her husband. “I started the shelter home Caspers’ in the memory of my pet dog, who lost his life in a road accident. The home was registered as an NGO two years after its inception,” she said.Over 45 dogs have been adopted from Caspers’ till now. It is also home to 43 dogs, and care is provided to injured, paralysed and abandoned dogs.“We have proper rules and guidelines while giving the dogs for adoption. The team from our NGO goes to the owner’s house before the adoption. An inspection is carried out after the adoption as well. If dog is found chained, it is brought back,” Vineeta said.

Naga group meets Rajnath Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As Manipur continues to witness violent clashes between warring groups of Meitei, Naga and Kuki on the issue of carving out seven new districts, a delegation from the United Naga Council (UNC), a powerful Naga group responsible for the economic blockade, met union home minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday and demanded imposition of President’s rule in the state.The two-member delegation, vice president T S Warngam and speaker of UNC assembly affairs S Kho John, blamed Manipur Chief Minister Ibobi Singh for orchestrating violence to scuttle the Naga peace process and win the 2017 assembly elections.Union Home Ministry sources said, Rajnath Singh has not given any assurance to the Naga group besides taking up the issue with Manipur Chief Minister. After burning its fingers in Arunachal Pradesh that witnessed strong reaction from the court, the Centre wants to be sure of its action, sources said.

US finds remains of WW II soldiers in NE

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After years of concerted efforts, US government officials have found remains of soldiers who fought during the World War II in Arunachal Pradesh. A team of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) visited several locations in Arunachal Pradesh.In a statement, American Ambassador to India Richard Verma lauded the findings. “The United States is committed to making sure all the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who served our country come home. DPAA’s mission in India is a vital part of that commitment,” he said.Mission Commander Lt Col Pritz of the American Embassy, too, issued a statement thanking the Indian government.Efforts to locate the remains around Arunachal were going on since 2003. It was only in 2008 that India and the US entered into an understanding to let the American search crew inside the area.Between 2006 and 2010, the crash sites of several US aircraft have been discovered in the area. Some of these are the crash sites of C-87 transport (41-23696), B-24J bomber (42-73308) nicknamed as “Hot as Hell”, C-46A transport (41-24724), B-24D bomber (42-40069) nicknamed as “Pregnant Swan”, C-47DL transport (41-18518), C-87 transport (42-107259), C-46A transport #41-24739, C-87 transport (41-23791), 308th Bomb Group B-24J 42-100184, and, 08th Bomb Group B-24J 42-73242, nicknamed “Haley’s Comet”.In these crashes, the number of suspected casualties is over 50. In April this year, the crew found the remains of soldiers travelling in a C-109 that crashed on July 17, 1945, travelling from Jorhat in Assam to China’s Hsinching province.

AAP’s victory in Delhi was an accident: MP BJP chief

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ahead of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s rally in Bhopal on Tuesday, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Madhya Pradesh has said it doesn’t see any threat in increased activities of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the state.”AAP’s victory in Delhi was an accident. Entire country has witnessed the poor show of Kejriwal government in Delhi. The people of Delhi have been suffering,” MP BJP chief Nandkumar Singh Chouhan told reporters here last evening.Firing a salvo at Kejriwal’s ‘Parivartan Rally’ in Bhopal, Chouhan ruled out any possibility of the rise of ‘third force’ in the state, recalling that he had defeated Alok Agrawal, the convener of MP’s AAP unit, from Khandwa during last parliamentary elections.The MP BJP chief is a Lok Sabha member from Khandwa. “The next assembly election of the state would be contested under the leadership of Shivraj Singh Chouhan (Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister),” he said and ruled out any possibility of the MP CM shifting out of state politics.The MP BJP President also reiterated that the party would not field again the MLAs who performed poorly. “Only those with good performance would be given tickets in the next assembly polls,” he added.Polls in Madhya Pradesh are scheduled to be held in 2018.

Sometimes Rahul Gandhi speaks meaningful things: BJP leader on Cong VP’s kind gesture towards Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday said it was surprised to see Rahul Gandhi extending a kind gesture towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he asked Congress supporters to restrain from raising ‘murdabad’ slogans against the latter at Congress rallies.”Sometimes ‘Pappu’ (Rahul Gandhi ) speaks meaningful things and we hope this gesture of respect towards the Prime Minister remains in his heart, otherwise he is the kind of person who is known to tear cabinet decisions passed by his own Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh,” BJP leader Prem Shukla told ANI.While addressing a rally in Uttar Pradesh’s Jaunpur district yesterday, Rahul Gandhi said, “We have a difference of opinion with Prime Minister Modi and the BJP. But let’s not say murdabad. That is the work of the RSS.”

PM Modi and Rahul Gandhi take battle to UP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi took the political battle around demonitization to poll bound Uttar Pradesh (UP). In Kanpur, Modi attacked Opposition for not allowing Parliament to function.In Jaunpur, Gandhi alleged that the note ban had punished the poor with cash crunch. Modi hit back, saying the Opposition was defending the corrupt by opposing the ban on 500 and 1,000 rupee notes aimed at eliminating black money.In Delhi, the Congress lashed out at the government for its two recent orders, alleging that the banks have been turned into police stations.Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said Modi government has conducted a dual surgical strike on the employees, industrial work force by reducing the interest rate from 8.8per cent to 8.65per cent for all Employee Provident Fund contributors, and also banning deposit of more than Rs 5,000 in demonetized notes. He said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had promised that anyone can deposit scrapped notes in banks up to December 30 and in the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) till March 31 by filling up a form.Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh wrote a strong letter to the PM amid a sense of disappointment among opposition leaders over Rahul Gandhi’s reluctance to reveal the information about “personal corruption” of the Prime Minister. Rahul made a scathing attack on the Prime Minister at his Jaunpur rally in Uttar Pradesh but avoided making any reference to his explosive threat In his letter, Singh confronted Prime Minister for his charge on the Opposition fighting to protect the corrupt. In a letter to the PM, he asked why it was soft on BJP leader Janardan Reddy who spent hundreds of crore on his daughter’s marriage? Why are you not acting swiftly on Lokpal, Whistle Blower Protection Act, Benami Properties etc?”The party also released a list of as many as 125 orders issued by the government since the demonetiszation. Surjewala said the government has really made everyone cashless, be it the people, banks or ATMs while only the e-wallet companies licensed by the Modi government in 2015 are flourishing under the PM’s call for digitisation of the economy.The e-wallet companies are making 2.5 to 5 per cent profit which means a 100-rupee note exchanged 20 times becomes zero as these companies make Rs 100 on 5 per cent commission they charge, the Congress spokesman explained.

Demonetisation challenge: Govt underestimating ‘digital ignorance’ among people is a big mistake

On 8 November, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, it was projected and seen as a big blow to unaccounted wealth and black money. In the following weeks as the images of long queues across the country started emerging; challenging the “good intention” of the government, another narrative was put in place to soothe the common man who was at the receiving end.

On 13 November, the prime minister while speaking at the foundation stone laying ceremony of the Mopa airport in Goa, made an emotional appeal to the citizens to bear the “pain” for “50 days” to help him deliver the “India of your dreams”.

An emotional Modi had said, “I promise you, I will give you the India of your dreams… If someone faces a problem, I also feel the pain. I understand their problem but this is only for 50 days.”

A narrative was build: The pain that people were facing was short-term which will yield wondrous long-term results. As weeks passed, demonetisation which was essentially seen as an attack on black money, was gradually projected as an attempt to make India a cashless economy.

On 15 December Modi came up with two schemes named Lucky Grahak Yojana and Digi Dhan Vyapar Yojana to incentivise cashless transactions. In a series of tweets, Modi said the schemes “will further incentivise digital payments” and it would be a big boost in the move towards “cashless and corruption-free India”.

The two schemes would cover small transactions between Rs 50 and Rs 3,000 to encourage every section of the society to move towards digital payments.

India is now being seen as moving towards a cashless economy. It raises an important question: Are people prepared to embrace this new way of life?

Consider these scenarios of people juggling with their new life in a ‘cashless economy’ that also highlight the sticking points in our digital edifice. 

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Case 1: In Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur district, a man enters a store selling VIP bags. After selecting his product, he asks the shop owner whether he accepts debit or credit cards. The store owner reluctantly replies in affirmative and takes the card from the customer. He swipes the card and punches the amount. The bill is produced and it is a happy ending.

Welcome to ‘Digital India’.

But the story has an anticlimax. As the man leaves the store, he is stopped by the owner. The store owner reveals to the customer that instead of the actual payment of Rs 6,600, by mistake he punched only Rs 66. The customer looks upset and amused at the same time. He asks a simple question: What if by mistake one extra zero was pressed?

The store owner replies, “This is new to us. You cannot expect us to learn all this in a day. It has been thrust upon us without giving us the time to get use to it.”

Case 2: Atul, who runs a canteen in one of the offices in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, is struggling daily to get stable supply. He says, “Paytm and all are good, but there are many issues. Firstly, while I can accept the payment through Paytm, not everyone, from a vegetable seller to the milkman, knows about this. They just want cash.”

He adds, “I too am facing problem with Paytm. It allows me to transfer up to Rs 25,000 in a month whereas I am receiving much more in my account. As I cannot transfer the rest of the money in my bank account, I am also incurring loss of interest (Paytm website confirms this cap)

Case 3: A person books a private airlines flight using Paytm wallet and his ICICI debit card. The flight gets cancelled due to bad weather. The man calls up the airlines for the refund. He is told that as he has made the booking through a travel portal, he should contact the portal for the refund. Fair enough. The man calls up the portal and is told by the portal that as he has made the payment through Paytm, he should contact Paytm for the same. The man calls Paytm and is informed that the payment was made using ICICI debit card so he should call the bank. The bank, in turn, asks the customer to call Paytm. After much of argument, Paytm accepts that the amount will be refunded in 72 hours.

A happy ending may be? No, this story too has an anticlimax. Four days have passed and the man is waiting for his refund, frantically making calls to all the parties.

All the above mentioned cases point to one thing: The unpreparedness of the economy to go the cashless way. And in this regard, sudden push by the government towards cashless economy has left great number of people; living in small cities clueless, for whom digital transaction is still a “thing of tomorrow”.

The Indian Express reported on 20 December that Arundhati Bhattacharya, head of the State Bank of India (SBI) has stressed that government “should find ways to disincentivise cash transactions, such as imposing a charge or levy above a specified limit or threshold, after normalcy is restored in banking operations following the demonetisation move.”

The report stated, “According to Bhattacharya, if India wants to de-emphasise cash, there should not only be an incentive for people to move towards a cashless economy but also a disincentive for transacting excessively in cash, while leaving out small-ticket transactions”.

While strong measures like the one suggested by the SBI chief or the limit on free cash withdrawal from ATMs have indeed pushed people to go for digital transitions, the problem faced by them in the last one month is due to the sudden and large scale change in their transaction behaviour that demonetisation demands.

The underlying fact remains that underestimating digital ignorance among people was a big mistake of the government and the same is posing challenge to its well-intentioned decision of demonetisation .

First Published On : Dec 19, 2016 19:48 IST

Demonetisation: Rs 18 lakh in new 2,000 currency notes seized in Noida

Noida: Rs 18 lakh in new currency notes have been seized from Sector 57 in Noida and three men have been arrested in this connection, said the police on Sunday.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The three accused–Vinay Kumar from Jind, and Mahendra Kumar and Praveen Kumar from Hisar–were arrested last evening by a team of Uttar Pradesh Anti Terrorist Squad and Income Tax Department.

“The arrests were made following a tip off that some people were carrying a huge amount of counterfeit currency in Bhishanpura village in Sector 57,” Deputy Superintendent of Police UP ATS (Western UP Wing) Anoop Singh said.

The team searched the car of the accused following which Rs 18 lakh in new currency notes of Rs 2,000 was found, he said.

No counterfeit or old currency notes were found. The car has also been impounded, the DSP said.

The team is interrogating the accused and more arrests and seizures are expected on basis of the information, he said.

First Published On : Dec 18, 2016 11:49 IST

Rs 66 lakh in new notes seized in Hyderabad, Rs 18 lakh in Noida, 3 arrested

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Income Tax department has seized Rs 66 lakh cash, all in new Rs 2000 notes, as part of the anti-black money crackdown operations in Hyderabad, while Rs 18 lakh in new currency notes were seized in Delhi.The first incident, that occurred in Hyderabad on the night of December 16, was reported at the Telugu Academy in Himayatnagar when an I-T team intercepted few people who ran into a nearby apartment on seeing the team.”Search of the apartment led to recovery of Rs 36 lakh cash, all in Rs 2000 denomination. Sources of the cash are being probed into,” I-T sources said.In the second incident in the same city on December 17, department investigators along with police intercepted a speeding Honda Activa in the Tank Bund area.”Cash of Rs 30 lakh in Rs 2000 denomination was found with two persons.The case is being probed,” they said.The three accused in Noida case –Vinay Kumar from Jind, and Mahendra Kumar and Praveen Kumar from Hisar–were arrested on Saturday evening by a team of Uttar Pradesh Anti Terrorist Squad and Income Tax Department.”The arrests were made following a tip off that some people were carrying a huge amount of counterfeit currency in Bhishanpura village in Sector 57,” Deputy Superintendent of Police UP ATS (Western UP Wing) Anoop Singh said.The team searched the car of the accused following which Rs 18 lakh in new currency notes of Rs 2000 was found, he said.No counterfeit or old currency notes were found. The car has also been impounded, the DSP said.The team is interrogating the accused and more arrests and seizures are expected on basis of the information, he said.

Mere development not enough to win election: Subramanian Swamy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP MP Subramanian Swamy on Saturday said mere development of the society or nation was not enough to win the election and BJP can never win an election until it pushes forward Hindutva as it’s core agenda.Addressing a gathering in the Ruia College here, he said, “People often say that the governments should focus on developmental works, which should be, but our history says something else. It says that whichever government focused on only development in India could never win the election.”Swamy was here to release the book “Sachchai” written by Shivsena leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut.”Be it Narasimha Rao who abolished licence raj, Rajiv Gandhi who introduced industrial revolution in the country, Morarji Desai who brought down the prices of rations or N Chandra Babu Naidu, the reformer of Andhra Pradesh…All these people lost in subsequent elections,” Swamy added.”And we should not forget Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji too … who put forth India Shining slogan. Of course India was shining at economic front, but he could not win the election and number of seats were reduced to half,” the BJP leader added.”And this is why I emphasise that developmental works for a government are necessary but not everything,” Swamy said.”We won 2014 election on two basis. Putting forth the Gujarat model of governance and people set aside their caste perception, rose above it and voted for Hindutva. This is why I always moot Hindutva as a core issue to address and govern our country which is predominantly Hindu,” he added.

11 opposition MLAs suspended for day from Telangana Assembly

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Eleven MLAs of the opposition Congress and TDP were on Saturday suspended from the Telangana Legislative Assembly after they vociferously demanded discussion on defection of opposition MLAs to the ruling TRS.The opposition MLAs were suspended as they shouted slogans and also entered the well of the House. Speaker S Madhusudanachary said the matter (defection of opposition MLAs to TRS) is under his consideration.Legislative Affairs Minister T Harish Rao, who moved the motion for suspension of the members, said the opposition members were indulging in unnecessary politics on a matter that is under the consideration of the Speaker.He said the motion for suspension of the MLAs was moved to ensure that the Question Hour goes on smoothly.The suspended members are D K Aruna, M Bhatti Vikramarka, T Jeevan Reddy, G Chinna Reddy, T Jeevan Reddy, N Padmavati Reddy, J Geeta Reddy, Rammohan Reddy and Vamsichand Reddy (all Congress) and A Revant Reddy and S Venkata Veeraiah (TDP). Protesting against the suspension of his party colleagues, Leader of Opposition (Congress) K Jana Reddy staged a walk-out, after making a speech during a debate on power situation in the state.Criticising him, state IT and Industries Minister K T Rama Rao said it was not right for the opposition leader to walk out after attacking the government on power issue.Congress adopted a “spit and run” policy both in Parliament and in the Assembly, Rama Rao said. Talking to reporters after suspension, Congress MLA M Bhatti Vikramarka said both the suspension and defection of opposition members to TRS were against the principles of democracy. The ruling TRS MLA G Suneetha told reporters that Congress members tried to stall the proceedings as they did not want the “good work being done by the government to be discussed”.It was decided that debate on any issue would be taken up after the Question Hour, but Congress members tried to stall the proceedings, she said. Congress and TDP adopted double standard on defection as opposition YSR Congress members had joined the ruling TDP in Andhra Pradesh, and opposition members were admitted into Congress when Y S Rajasekhara Reddy was Chief Minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh, she pointed out.

11 Oppn MLAs suspended from Telangana Assembly

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Nearly a dozen members of the Congress and TDP were suspended from the Telangana Legislative Assembly on Saturday over their demand for debate on defection of Opposition MLAs into ruling TRS.The suspension of nine Congress and two TDP MLAs for the day came as the Opposition members entered the well of the house.Talking to reporters after suspension, Congress MLA M Bhatti Vikramarka alleged that their suspension and alleged defection of Opposition members into TRS was against principles of democracy. The ruling TRS MLA G Suneetha told reporters that the Congress members tried to stall the House as they did not want the good work being done by the government to be discussed in the House.It was decided to take up any adjournment motion after Question Hour but Congress members tried to stall the proceedings, she said.Congress and TDP adopted double standards on defection as Opposition YSR Congress members have joined the ruling TDP in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh now and Opposition members were admitted into Congress when Y S Rajasekhar Reddy was Chief Minister in undivided Andhra Pradesh, she alleged.

Four years since Jyoti Singh’s death, yet poor governance fails to protect women

Violence is immortal. Out of helplessness, it is predicted; out of fear, it is anticipated. It breaks into the warm walls of the psyche and freezes in one dark corner of it. Time and again, it sends chills down the spine. Since 2012, on each 16 December, a sharp coldness returns to stab Delhi in the back. This was the night that turned a 23-year-old paramedic, against her will, into a symbol of oppression against women. Raped, injured and left to die on a busy Delhi road, her own identity had an anonymous end. Jyoti Singh lives on as Nirbhaya, a reminder that violence lives next door.

Back then, debates on moral conditioning and legal action took off like missiles, turning public discourse into a battlefield of spontaneous opinions. But there was one more factor that needed some serious addressing, and it still does. Her rapists had a history of drug addiction.

For over 25,000 drug addicts in need of urgent relief in the capital, the government offers only five drug de-addiction centres, which too are jointly run by NGOs and are struggling for clearance of funds. Why doesn’t the 2013 Mental Health Care Bill feature a provision for rescue services, where the doctors have the right to pick up addicts from the street and cure them?

Drugs are about denial and quite rarely will an addict want to believe that he or she is in need of help; even families and friends don’t want to accept it as a problem. Hemant Kumar, a family counsellor at the Nasha Mukti Kendra in Amberhai in Dwarka, Delhi was an addict for nearly two decades. He says that there is great restlessness and a wave of nastiness that takes over an addict and at that point acts like robbery, inflicting harm on someone, to raping or abusing a woman, become vents for the rage erupting inside. Are women in Delhi, then, not vulnerable at the hands of those afflicted with drug problems, who roam around uncured?

According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), a total of 3,37,922 cases of crime against women (both under various sections of IPC and SLL) were reported in the country during the year 2014, as compared to 3,09,546 in the year 2013; thus showing an increase of 9.2 percent during the year 2014.

File image of protests in Delhi following the rape of Jyoti Singh in 2012. PTIFile image of protests in Delhi following the rape of Jyoti Singh in 2012. PTI

File image of protests in Delhi following the Nirbhaya rape case in 2012. PTI

Incidents of incest rape (rape by blood relatives like father, brother etc.) in the country have increased by 25.7 percent during 2014 over the previous year (from 536 cases in 2013 to 674 cases in 2014). Delhi (140 cases with 144 victims) has reported the highest number of such incidents followed by Maharashtra (94 cases with 102 victims) and Kerala (62 cases with 63 victims). There were 713 victims for 674 reported incest rape cases in the country during the year 2014.

Crimes have continuously increased during 2010-2014 with 2,13,585 cases reported in 2010, which increased to 2,28,649 cases in 2011, which further increased to 2,44,270 cases in 2012 and 3,09,546 cases in 2013. In 2014, a total of 3,37,922 such cases were reported.

The rate for crimes against women was reported as 56.3 in 2014. Delhi has reported the highest crime rate (169.1) compared to 56.3 at all India level during the year 2014, followed by Assam (123.4), Rajasthan (91.4), Tripura (88.0), West Bengal (85.4), Madhya Pradesh (79.0) and Telangana (78.3).

Rape cases in the capital are registered by the police, who give the statistics to the NCRB and are reported by the media. But what about women in conflict zones, where an overcast of political complications shadows the crimes against them?

“In Kashmir, women have directly and indirectly been victims of violence, I would say, survivors of violence. Whether it is a women being raped, beaten up or humiliated by the government forces or even often due to domestic violence. The indirect impact of violence on women has also been when their male family members are subjected to torture, killing or kidnappings by the forces. When a son is arrested, it is the mother who faces the impact of it or if her husband has been arrested or treated inhumanely,” said Fahad Shah , a journalist and writer from Kashmir.

Munaza Rashid, lawyer at the Kashmir High Court, said that Jyoti Singh’s rape wasn’t planned. In Kashmir, assaults against women in villages are planned. “During the recent agitation that has lasted five months, there were plenty of reports about pellets being fired at the men but no one talked about how the armed forces go and attack the homes of the protesters, where the wives and daughters of these men are. They know what will hurt these men the most. In some cases, in the name of a combing operation, they intrude into their private belongings – sanitary pads and undergarments – and perform an act of mental molestation,” Rashid said.

She explains that if this issue is raised, it will be perceived as an attempt to malign the forces. She says that women’s issues in Kashmir need to be raised by women’s voices that are independent and not bound by the Hurriyat or political agenda. Since three years, she informs, civil society activism has grown and women are finding a platform to open up in front of other women.

In 2014, 23 February was declared Kashmiri Women’s Resistance Day. On this day, in 1991, a Battalion of the 4th Rajputana Rifles of the 68th Brigade had conducted a cordon-and search operation in the adjacent Kunan- Poshpora villages in Kupwara.

The villagers allege that when the army cordoned off the village, the men were taken to a field for interrogation overnight and the women were gang-raped in their homes. “In North Kashmir, three to four years ago, a woman’s husband was in jail. Whenever she went to visit him, she’d be raped by the jailer. To protect her husband from his onslaught, she kept quiet,” informs Ifrah Butt of J&K Coalition of Civil Society, research and advocacy based in Srinagar.

At a sessions court during the hearing of the Kunan-Poshpora case, a senior Army counsel had said, recounts Butt, that it is like ”flogging a dead horse”, implying that the women should let go of it.

In the North East, another part of the country torn by violence, women are fighting another kind of battle. More than 15,000 women were raped in Assam in the last 15 years. On 12 December, to commemorate Nupi Lan or Women’s War that was fought in 1904 and 1939, the Representation of Women in Peace Negotiations Bill, 2016 was submitted to the Parliament.

“We have proposed the framework of a peace committee for women that will be their voice in governance,” said Kalyani Mathur, Project Officer at Control Arms Foundation of India. Sadly, only two women have participated in the 17 peace talks on the North East.

“The government only talks to men with guns. Women have been absent in every form of decision making. We want to change the power-dynamic,” said Binalakshmi Nepram, founder of the Manipur Gun Survivors Network, which has saved and help rebuild more than 20,000 lives displaced and damaged by violence.

In the capital, there is a concentration of five to seven lakh Indians from the North East and 66 percent come here for higher studies. In a place like Manipur, explains Nepram, a three year degree will take five years because of constant combing operations, bandhs and lockdowns. Once, a lock down had lasted for 100 days, she recounts.

When they migrate to Delhi, there’s a great chance that they will be perceived as ‘sexually available’, owing to differences that stem, quite naively and only, from culture. In 2014, the rape of girl by a Phd-IIT scholar was being portrayed as a case of stove-burning by the Police, till the girl’s sister demanded a second post-mortem and strangulation marks were detected.

Multiple cases of rape and murder of North Eastern girls have surfaced in Munirka, South Delhi, in the last three to four years. “After the Jyoti Singh incident, we submitted recommendations for special protection measures for rape in conflict areas. Justice Verma recorded it in his almost 600-page document, but when the Government of India drafted the Anti Rape Law, the whole section of rape in conflict areas had been taken out,” she said. The Delhi office of CAFI has counselled many rape victims from the North East and even packed their bodies and sent them back home.

‘Ache waqton ki tammana mein rahee umra rawaan’. It seems that women in the country will have to wait a long time to witness good times, where they can feel safe and free.

First Published On : Dec 17, 2016 09:35 IST

India must respect ‘core interests to avoid disturbance in bilateral ties’: China on Dalai Lama’s meeting with President

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>China took strong exception to Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama’s meeting with President Pranab Mukherjee at the Rashtrapathi Bhavan on Friday during a children’s summit, saying India must respect China’s “core interests” to avoid “any disturbance” to the bilateral ties.”Recently in disregard of China’s solemn representation and strong opposition, the Indian side insisted on arranging for the 14th Dalai Lama’s visit to the Indian Presidential palace where he took part in an event and met President Mukherjee,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang told a media briefing here. “The Chinese side is strongly dissatisfied with and firmly opposed to that,” he said, replying to a question on the Dalai Lama’s presence in the opening session of the ‘Laureates and Leaders for Children Summit’, organised by Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi’s Children’s Foundation on December 10. “The Dalai Lama is in political exile and is long been engaged anti-China separatist activities with the attempt of separating Tibet away from China under the cloak of religion,” Geng said.The Chinese side firmly opposes any form of contact between officials of the other countries with him. “We urge the Indian side to see through the anti-China separatist nature of the Dalai Lama clique, fully respect China’s core interests and major concerns, take effective means to remove the negative impact caused by the incident to avoid any disturbance to China-India relationship,” Geng said.Responding to China’s reaction Vikas Swarup, MEA, said, “India’s position is consistent.​His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a respected spiritual leader. It was a non political event which he attended.”China routinely protests world leaders meetings with the Dalai Lama. This is the second time that China objected to the Dalai Lama’s activities in India in recent months. Beijing in October this year objected to India’s permission to the Tibetan spiritual leader to visit Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims as part of southern Tibet.Early this month, China also objected to the visit of prominent Tibetan religious leader, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje to Arunachal Pradesh, hoping that India would abide by consensus and refrain from taking any action that might complicate the boundary dispute. India also came under the criticism from Chinese official media over the Dalai Lama’s visit to Mongolia following which Beijing was accused of imposing a blockade of the land-locked country.While China besides criticising Mongolia for permitting the Dalai Lama reportedly blocked movement along the Mongolia-China border, Beijing was also livid over the Mongolian Ambassador to India Gonchig Ganhold’s appeal to New Delhi to help Mongolia to deal with China’s countermeasure against Ulaanbaatar.India has said Mongolia can avail the US $1 billion aid, which one of the Chinese newspaper Global Times termed it as a bribe. An article in the daily also warned Mongolia that it is “politically harebrained” to ask for New Delhi’s support as it will further complicate bilateral ties.

India’s cash crackdown linked to drop in child trafficking | Reuters

By Roli Srivastava and Nita Bhalla

MUMBAI/NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Business has been slow at the Thakkar Bappa Colony shoe manufacturing hub in eastern Mumbai since the Indian government withdrew high-value bank notes last month in an attempt to curb tax evasion and counterfeit currency.Orders to the numerous shoemakers lining the slum’s narrow streets have almost dried up due to a dearth of bank notes in circulation, say the businesses which mainly rely on cash transactions.Yet while factory owners complain of a slump in profits and a dip in productivity, child rights activists say “demonetisation” drive has a silver-lining: it has stemmed the steady stream of children trafficked here to stitch shoes. “Children came from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan to work here,” said Sugandha Patade from the charity Pratham which rescues and rehabilitates child workers in the area.”In the last month, no new child workers have come and those who were working here have been sent back to their villages as there are no orders for them to work on.”Police agree the cash crunch could be hitting traffickers who buy and sell children for labour, but say more detailed analysis is required before they can make a direct link.India has almost 6 million child workers, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO), but activists say this is a gross underestimate. More than half are employed in agriculture and more than a quarter in manufacturing – embroidering clothes, weaving carpets or making match sticks. Children also work in restaurants, shops and hotels and as domestic workers.

The children – mostly from poor rural areas – are taken to cities by gangs who sell them into bonded labour, force them into sex work or hire them out to unscrupulous employers. In many cases, they are unpaid.ANECDOTAL EVIDENCE
The shock currency move, announced on November 8 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, aims to bring billions of dollars worth of unaccounted wealth which people are hoarding, or “black money”, into the mainstream economy and curb corruption.

High denomination 500- and 1,000-rupee bank notes have ceased to be legal tender for transactions and can only be exchanged at banks for smaller notes or the newly introduced 2,000-rupee note.Banks are meant to alert the Reserve Bank of India and tax authorities of any unusually large sums being exchanged which may be the product of illicit activities.There is no study on the impact of banning high denomination notes on child labour, but some children’s groups say they have anecdotal evidence of its repercussions in areas such as Mumbai, Delhi and other urban centres.Child rights activist and Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi, who has welcomed the demonetisation policy, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that human trafficking and child labour were among the largest sources of black money.

His own charity – Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), or Save the Childhood Movement – has reported fewer children in areas where there are small-scale factories and ‘placement-agencies’ which often traffick girls and women for domestic work. “These days, they don’t frequently see transportation of children by traffickers in these areas and they are not able to operate so easily because they cannot use the black money which funded their illicit businesses before,” said Satyarthi.BBA has for example found no cases of girls being trafficked at three popular railway stations in the northeast state of Assam over the last two months, compared to a monthly average of six before the demonetisation policy.In Uttar Pradesh, the charity Safe Society says five children were rescued in the last month from the town of Gorakhpur, against a monthly average of 15 to 20.But Satyarthi warned that child labour would persist unless human trafficking is addressed in the impoverished areas where the children are taken from.”This means punishing offenders, providing protection on the ground such as introducing social welfare programmes for the poor, raising awareness on trafficking and child labour, and providing good quality education,” he said. (Reporting by Roli Srivastava and Nita Bhalla; Editing by Emma Batha. Please credit Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking and climate change. Visit

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

First Published On : Dec 16, 2016 19:32 IST

Ram Gopal Varma’s ‘Shasikala’ plan catches AIADMK, Sasikala off guard

Coming soon to a theatre near you will be Shasikala. That is if filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma’s planned cinematic venture on the life and times of VK Sasikala, the trusted confidante of former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa does not get dragged to the courts. Given the AIADMK’s penchant for intimidating opponents through legal battles, chances of Varma’s venture landing up in court are quite high.

Varma hopes to get around that rather simplistically. His central character is called Shasikala, not Sasikala. The extra ‘H’ is RGV’s fig leaf to claim this is his own story and a fictional character.



On Thursday, the day the AIADMK spokesperson announced that Sasikala will be the next general secretary of the party, Varma registered the title of the film. Explaining the rationale for making the film on Sasikala, Varma tweeted saying he respected Jayalalithaa but he respected Sasikala much more. “Jayalalithaa ji respected Sasikala ji much more than she respected anybody else proves why I should call my film Shasikala,” he tweeted.

“I find it fascinating that just a close confidante of a person in power can create so much turbulence in so many ways,” says Varma. The filmmaker claims he is essentially interested in Sasikala, the person. Varma who has just started writing the script says the film will deal with the period from the time Sasikala first met Jayalalithaa, till the former CM’s death.

“It will be the biography of Sasikala’s journey with Amma,” explains Varma. “I think Amma seen from the point of view of someone so close to her will be much more interesting.” He plans to speak to people who have known the 59-year-old Sasikala over the past four decades.

“This will be an outside interpretation of happenings on a public domain mixed with personal information from sources close to her, who may not wish to be named,” says Varma. As of now, RGV does not plan to seek permissions from anyone before shooting the film. The AIADMK taken by surprise by Varma’s move has not formulated its stand on the filmmaker’s decision, as it is preoccupied with more pressing matters of succession.

Through his career, Varma has shown a fascination with making movies on real life characters. His Company in 2002 was a take on the underworld war between Dawood Ibrahim and Chotta Rajan. His Rakta Charitra in 2010 is one of the best movies to capture the politics of blood and gore in Andhra Pradesh’s Rayalaseema region.

More recently, Varma captured the life of forest brigand Veerappan. The movie received rave reviews for his lead character’s uncanny resemblance to the bandit and the stylish manner in which it was shot in the forests of Karnataka. Varma’s Telugu venture Vangaveeti which is based on the life of politician Vangaveeti Mohana Ranga and the violent gang warfare and politics of Vijayawada in the 70s and the 80s in Andhra Pradesh will release on 23 December. Varma who himself grew up in Vijayawada and has experienced the turbulence firsthand has said that making a film on the controversial politician was his dream project. Like Veerappan’s wife who went to court against the movie, Ranga’s family has also raised objections to Vangaveeti.

“Real life stories are fascinating because they deal with real emotions and hence the connect is much more,” says Varma, explaining his obsession with people rooted in present-day politics and conflicts.

Interestingly, both Sasikala and Ram Gopal Varma have one thing in common. Both have been video library owners, back in the era when video cassettes were a rage.

The last big budget movie made on the life and times of Dravidian politicians was Mani Ratnam’s Iruvar in 1997, in which Mohanlal played MGR. Jayalalithaa’s role was essayed by Aishwarya Rai while Prakash Raj played Karunanidhi. Varma is undecided if Shasikala will be only in Tamil or will have a Telugu and Hindi version as well.

First Published On : Dec 16, 2016 16:06 IST

Rahul-Modi meet | PM heard us but did not commit to anything: Congress VP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Rahul Gandhi-led Congress delegation met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday to highlight the plight of farmers in the country and demanded a loan waiver for them. During the meeting, which came in the backdrop of Gandhi’s fierce attack on the Prime Minister over demonetization, top Congress leaders presented a memorandum to Modi on demands of farmers including loan waiver, reducing power bills to half and remunerative MSP for farm produce.The delegation included Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, deputy leaders in both Houses Anand Sharma and Jyotiraditya Scindia, Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh and UP Congress chief Raj Babbar.After the meeting, the Congress Vice President said that Modi heard them patiently but did not commit to anything. “We, Congress party delegation, met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the plight of farmers of this country. Every single day, a farmer is committing suicide in Punjab. Farmers are committing suicide all over the country. The government has removed the import duty on wheat. This is a devastating blow. So we went to the Prime Minister to request him on behalf of farmers of this country to waive their loans,” he told reporters.He said the Prime Minister accepted that the situation of farmers is serious but did not say anything on loan waiver.Sources said the Prime Minister gave the delegation a patient hearing and told Rahul Gandhi to “keep meeting him”.Gandhi has been targeting the Prime Minister often, with his latest offensive being on demonetization. He claimed on Wednesday that he had information about alleged “personal corruption” of the Prime Minister, but the BJP dismissed it as a “joke”.Gandhi had raised the farmers issue during his recent Deoria to Delhi yatra in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh. The Congress has collected over 2 crore “Kisan maang patras” from across Uttar Pradesh and over 34 lakh from Punjab which also goes to polls early next year.

Vyapam scam: ‘Truth has finally prevailed,’ says CM Chouhan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hours after the Supreme Court ruled that it would no longer monitor the alleged Vyapam scam, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said on Thursday that truth has finally prevailed as all allegations against him turned out to be false. “All allegations turned out to be false and the truth has finally prevailed. It has been ruled there was no tampering,” he said.”Truth always wins. False allegations were levelled against me to tarnish my image and my family was also dragged into it. I had a firm belief that all allegations against me will prove wrong,” he added.The apex court earlier in the day said that further monitoring is not required in the alleged Vyapam scam as the special courts have begun trial in cases related to the same. The bench comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and NV Ramana said they do not intend to further monitor the issue and grant four months to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to finish the pending investigation. However, the court has given liberty to the parties as they can come to the court when the need arises.The CBI has filed a status report of the investigation as per earlier orders of the apex court. The court was informed by the Solicitor General, on behalf of CBI, that there was no tempering in the hard disk. The Vyapam scam is an admission and recruitment scam involving politicians, senior officials and businessmen in Madhya Pradesh.Earlier in September, the Supreme Court had directed the CBI to take over all the 72 Vyapam scam cases pending trial at various courts in Madhya Pradesh. As now, over 40 people linked to the scam have died under mysterious circumstances since 2013, the year when the scandal was first reported.

Virbhadra PMLA case: Delhi HC reserves order on plea to quash CBI case

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi High Court reserved its verdict on the plea of Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh on Thursday, seeking quashing of FIR lodged against them in connection with a disproportionate assets case.Justice Vipin Sanghi concluded the hearing on the pleas, which claimed that there was no order, direction or judgement by any court that had authorised the CBI to inquire, investigate or register regular cases and exercise jurisdiction in the territory of Himachal Pradesh.The Chief Minister has pleaded during the hearing that the raids on his private residence and other premises in Delhi were conducted with “malafide intentions and political vendetta” by the central investigating agency. He has alleged that CBI had overstepped its jurisdiction in filing the case as the cause of action did not arise in the territory of Delhi.Seeking setting aside of the entire process of CBI investigations and case filed against him and his wife, their counsel argued that the permission of the state government and Home Department was not sought before raiding the residence of a sitting Chief Minister. Opposing their contentions, CBI had earlier said the allegations against Singh in the case are “very serious” as a huge amount of money was involved and the state government has shown “over anxiety” in protecting him.It had said that they had jurisdiction to register and investigate the case in Delhi as the disproportionate assets were allegedly acquired by the Congress leader from the income generated here when he was a Union minister during UPA regime. Singh had already got an interim order from the Himachal Pradesh High Court (HC) on October 1, 2015 restraining the agency from arresting, interrogating or filing a charge sheet in the case without its permission.The matter, in which the Himachal Pradesh HC had passed the interim order, was transferred by the Supreme Court to the Delhi HC, which on April 6 this year had asked the CBI not to arrest Singh and directed him to join the probe. On November 5 last year, the apex court had transferred Singh’s plea from Himachal Pradesh HC to Delhi HC, saying it was not expressing any opinion on the merits of the case, but “simply” transferring the petition “in interest of justice and to save the institution (judiciary) from any embarrassment”.CBI had moved the apex court seeking transfer of the case here and setting aside of the interim order granting Singh protection from arrest and other relief given to him. Singh has sought directions from the court to quash the FIR registered against him and his wife under Sections 13(2) and 13(1)(e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 109 of IPC by CBI on September 23 last year here and urged the court to summon record of the preliminary inquiry and the FIR.The petition has said the CBI had acted without jurisdiction by conducting probe into alleged offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act against the highest democratically elected constitutional functionary in the state without any consent from the state government, a pre-requisite under Section 6 of Delhi Special Establishment Act.