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

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

My fellow citizens,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Demonetistion has dealt a severe blow to these trades.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Positive change has always found space in our country.

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

More and more people are transacting digitally.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy New Year

Jai Hind !!!

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

Demonetization: 60 lakh depositors put Rs 7 lakh cr in banks since Nov 8, claim govt officials

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As many as 60 lakh individuals and firms have made large deposits totalling an astonishing Rs 7 lakh crore in old notes, top government officials said on Thursday while warning that every penny of tax will be extracted as the black money does not become white by merely putting it in banks.They said the government will not hound any genuine depositor but at the same time will not hesitate in tracking all such deposits and litigating any tax evasion by a black money holder trying to convert illegal wealth.Post demonetization, unaccounted wealth holders have an option to avail of a tax evasion amnesty scheme Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) and pay their dues, failing which the government’s long arms will surely catch them, they said.
ALSO READ Demonetization ordinance: Minimum Rs 10,000 fine for holding more than 10 scrapped notes, no jail term”People are thinking that money has come into the banking system and it has all become white. This is not so. We have been getting daily information of all the deposits above Rs 2 lakh, Rs 5 lakh and the number and amount deposited. We have been collating this information with past information about the each person,” a top government official said.”So, there is a huge scope for taxing now which has arisen and we do hope that people will understand that simply because they have put in bank it has become white that is not the case. We do hope that people themselves will come forward to participate in the scheme. But if they don’t, they are not going to be happy,” the official further said.
ALSO READ Post demonetization, auto sector to see sharp decline in DecemberThe tax department is armed with systems to track those with multiple banks accounts as well as those who are depositing in accounts of others and tax department will not leave anyone who is trying to evade taxes, he added. “Even if you take deposits of more than Rs 2 lakh, we have information about more then 60 lakh individuals, companies and institutions who have deposited more than Rs 7 lakh crore of money. That’s an astonishing number. We will be looking at it. For individuals the deposit figure would be Rs 3-4 lakh crore.”We do expect a lot of revenue buoyancy because of this either in this year or in subsequent years but nobody will go scot-free,” the official said.Following the demonetization of 500 and 1,000 rupee notes on November 8, the government has come out with PMGKY under which people can disclose unaccounted cash and come clean by paying 50%. Besides, the scheme provides for a mandatory deposit of 25% of such income in the zero-interest bearing Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Deposit Scheme, 2016, for four years. PMGKY commenced on December 17 and shall remain open for declarations and deposits up to March 31, 2017.

Demonetisation: 60 lakh depositors put Rs 7 lakh cr in banks since 8 Nov

New Delhi: Armed with information about Rs 7 lakh crore deposits made by some 60 lakh individuals and companies, the government today warned of hauling up anyone unable to show legal means saying mere depositing in bank does not convert black money into white.

Top officials said while the government will not hound any genuine depositor, it will not hesitate to litigate at any forum to catch any black money holder trying to convert illegal wealth into white.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Post demonetisation, unaccounted wealth holders have an option to avail of a tax evasion amnesty scheme Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) and pay their dues, failing which the government’s long arms will surely catch them, they said.

“People are thinking that money has come into the banking system and it has all become white. This is not so. We have been getting daily information of all the deposits above Rs 2 lakh, Rs 5 lakh and the number and amount deposited and we have been collating this information with past information about the same person,” a top government official told PTI.

“So, there is a huge scope for taxing now which has arisen and we do hope that people will understand that simply because they have put in bank it has become white that is not the case. We do hope that people themselves will come forward to participate in the scheme. But if they don’t, they are not going to be happy,” the official further said.

The tax department is armed with systems to track those with multiple banks accounts as well as those who are depositing in accounts of others and tax department will not leave anyone who is trying to evade taxes, he added.

“Even if you take deposits of more than Rs 2 lakh, we have information about more then 60 lakh individuals, companies and institutions who have deposited more than Rs 7 lakh crore of money. That’s an astonishing number. We will be looking at it. For individuals the deposit figure would be Rs 3-4 lakh crore. “We do expect a lot of revenue buoyancy because of this either in this year or in subsequent years but nobody will go scot-free,” the official said.

Following the demonetisation of 500 and 1,000 rupee notes on November 8, government has come out with PMGKY under which people can disclose unaccounted cash and come clean by paying 50 per cent tax. Besides the scheme provides for a mandatory deposit of 25 per cent of such income in the zero-interest bearing Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Deposit Scheme, 2016, for four years.

PMGKY commenced on December 17 and shall remain open for declarations and deposits up to March 31, 2017.

The official said that tax department is doing data analytics. The purpose of demonetisation was to bring the money into the banking system so that there is a money trail with regard to the anonymous cash holding.

“We don’t want to send any inspector to people but at least we would like people to know that we know about them. Now this is a big change. Earlier, people used to keep a lot of black money and think that nobody knows about it. Now, the entire black money has come into the banking system,” he said.

The official said that at least 70 per cent of bank accounts have PAN numbers and are linked with Aadhar, and hence all deposits can be easily tracked. Besides, RBI has already asked banks within two months all accounts have to be linked with PAN or else there will be restrictions.

“It is better to disclose the deposits under the PMGKY and pay the tax rather than keep it hidden as the tax department will eventually be able to track them,” the official said.

The PMGKY scheme provides an opportunity to persons having undisclosed income in the form of cash or deposit in an account maintained with a specified entity (which includes banks and post office) to declare such income and pay tax, surcharge and penalty totaling in all to 49.9 per cent of such declared income.

Besides, the scheme provides that a mandatory deposit of not less than 25 per cent of such income shall be made in the zero-interest bearing Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Deposit Scheme, 2016, for four years.

“When there is a scheme of 50 per cent tax payment available, no one should keep money at home. Unless it is a case of corrupt officer he doesn’t disclose. Business people will put money in bank and relax,” the official added.

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 17:42 IST

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

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

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

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

War on black money: Income Tax dept begins process of analysing deposits post demonetization

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The I-T department has begun the process to examine bank deposits and transactions to check possible black money instances and said once the last opportunity to declare funds in old notes under the PMGKY scheme ends it will be very tough for hoarders.Interacting with representatives of trade bodies, Chartered Accountants and other professionals, Principal Commissioner of Income Tax A K Chauhan said that under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) scheme, cash and deposits “maintained” by a person can only be declared by an entity and not in the name of someone else. “We are in the process of examining and identifying deposits in bank accounts. So, I would say don’t feel complacent…People who wish to use the scheme should avail the PMGKY. We are putting in our efforts to analyse the data that we obtain from the Financial Intelligence Unit and others to do this,” he said.”After the closure of the scheme, it will be really really tough for evaders,” Chauhan told the participants. He said the scheme is valid for people and entities who maintain their own cash and deposits, and if they aim to avail the PMGKY for someone else, whose accounts they handle, that will fall into the purview of the Benami Transactions Act, which is not allowed under the latest scheme. “The declaration made under the PMGKY shall not confer any benefit, concession or immunity on any person other than the declarant,” he said.Chauhan also told them that the PMGKY should not be considered as the “Income Declaration Scheme Part-II” as it has a different “motive and purpose”. While ensuring that the “confidentiality” of the declarations under the latest scheme will be guaranteed, he said this was the “last opportunity” for people with black money to come clean. The PMGKY provides last chance to holders of undisclosed income in the form of old 500 and 1,000 rupee notes to come clean but any person facing prosecution for corruption, holding benami property, money laundering, violation of foreign exchange or drug trafficking among others will not be eligible to be a declarant under the scheme.The senior I-T department official of Delhi region reiterated the salient features of the scheme during the interactive session. Tax at the rate of 30 per cent on the undisclosed income, surcharge of 33 per cent of tax and penalty of 10 per cent on such income is payable, besides mandatory deposit of 25 per cent of the undisclosed income is to be ensured in the PMGK Deposit Scheme. Income declared under the scheme will not be included in the total income of the declarant under the Income Tax Act for any assessment year.Also, non-declaration of the black money under the scheme now but showing it as income in the tax return form would lead to a total levy of 77.25 per cent in taxes and penalty. In case the disclosure is not made either using the scheme or in return and the taxman later detects it through its intelligence and investigation methods, a further 10 per cent penalty on tax will be levied followed by prosecution, he added.The declarations, he said, can be made by the declarant before the Jurisdictional Principal Commissioner of I-T or using the e-filing portal of the department in prescribed forms for both the primary scheme and the deposits scheme.

Govt approves Rs 11,000 crore road projects for areas hit by worst Left-wing extremism

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The government has approved an over Rs 11,000-crore project to construct all-weather roads and improve connectivity for security reasons in nearly 40 districts worst hit by the Left-wing extremism and violence.Approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), the ‘Road Connectivity Project for Left Wing Extremism Affected Areas’ will provide connectivity in 35 worst affected LWE districts – which account for 90% of total LWE violence in the country – and 9 adjoining districts, critical from security angle.To be implemented as a vertical under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, more than 5,400 kilometres of road would be constructed/upgraded and 126 bridges/cross drainage works would be taken up at an estimated cost of Rs 11,724.53 crore. The roads will be operable through the year, irrespective of weather conditions.The fund sharing for the LWE road project will be same as the PMGSY – in the ratio of 60:40 between the Centre and states for all states except for North Eastern and three Himalayan States (Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand) for which it is 90:10.Finance Ministry will allocate Rs 7,034.72 crore to the Ministry of Rural Development for the project during the implementation period 2016-17 to 2019-20. Ministry of Rural Development will be the responsible for sponsoring and implementing the project.The roads taken up under the scheme would include Other District Roads (ODRs), Village Roads (VRs) and upgrading of the existing Major District Roads (MDRs), that are critical from the security point of view.Bridges up to a span of 100 metres, critical from security angle, would also be funded on these roads. National and state highways have been excluded from the project.The roads to be constructed under the scheme have been identified by the Ministry of Home Affairs in consultation with the state governments and security agencies.PMGSY was launched in 2000 as a centrally-sponsored scheme with the objective to provide all-weather road connectivity to all eligible unconnected habitations in the rural areas.

RBI takes a U-turn, now withdraws restriction on KYC accounts with deposits above Rs 5,000

In a fresh twist to the government’s previous announcement on cash deposits in the banks, the Reserve Bank of India has issued a fresh notification, withdrawing restriction on Rs 5,000 deposits for KYC compliant account holders.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The fresh notification by the RBI, following a massive public backlash, comes just two days after the central bank had said individuals can deposit over Rs 5,000 in old currency bills only once until December 30 and that too after explaining why it had not been done so far.

The central bank said that on reviewing its notification of December 19, it is advising banks to withdraw the two conditions for fully KYC-compliant accounts.

After banning old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes on 8 November, the government had allowed all of the cash holdings with any person to be deposited in bank accounts till December 30.

There was no limit on the quantity or value of the junked notes that could be deposited. However, the government on 17 December issued a gazette notification putting restrictions on deposits henceforth.

On 19 December, the central bank had said that now-defunct notes in excess of Rs 5,000 shall be credited to only KYC-compliant accounts and if the accounts are not KYC-compliant, credits may be restricted up to Rs 50,000 subject to the conditions governing the conduct of such accounts.

The equivalent value of specified bank notes tendered may be credited to an account maintained by the tenderer at any bank in accordance with standard banking procedure and on production of valid proof of identity, the RBI had said.”The equivalent value of specified bank notes tendered may be credited to a third party account, provided specific authorisation therefore accorded by the third party is presented to the bank, following standard banking procedure and on production of valid proof of identity of the person actually tendering,” it added.

The above restrictions shall not apply to tenders of SBNs for the purpose of deposits under the Taxation and Investment Regime for the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, 2016.

Meanwhile, in a notification, the Finance Ministry had said: “There shall not be any limit on the quantity or value of the specified bank notes that are tendered for payment and deposit made under the Taxation and Investment Regime for the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, 2016”.

With PTI inputs

First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 13:29 IST

Demonetisation: Why PM Modi shouldn’t have offered another scheme for tax cheats

The new scheme for tax cheats that is in force now shows the desperation of the Narendra Modi government to somehow show demonetisation has indeed worked well in trapping the black money in the system.

This was necessitated as close to Rs 13 lakh crore has already returned to the banking system through deposits out of the Rs 15.4 lakh crore demonetised on 8 November.

It is anybody’s guess how much of these deposits will turn out to be ‘black money’ at the end of this whole exercise. Much depends on the taxman. Under this scheme Pradhan Manrti Garib Kalyan Yojana, evaders get another opportunity to bring out their ill-gotten wealth by paying 50 percent tax and penalty and by parking a quarter of their illegal assets in a scheme for four years.

Representational image. CNN-News18Representational image. CNN-News18

Representational image. CNN-News18

This is the last such scheme, the government has said, for black money holders — something they had said even when the first IDS (income declaration scheme) scheme for domestic black money holders was launched a few months ago.

That time, the government warning was that post September, there will be big crackdown and no chance will be given for anyone to come clean again. But here we are again with yet another black money scheme .

This, in all likelihood, will give an idea to the tax cheats that the ‘last chance’ for black money holders will keep returning periodically. The latest amnesty-like scheme tells us one clear thing. This is born out of the government’s growing realisation that demonetisation may not be an effective tool on the black money hunt.

Hence, the government was forced to once again offer incentives to tax cheats to get some money out of the shelves. The taxman has, so far, not found much luck in unearthing the illegal cash from raids, which is evident from the numbers given by the CBDT chairman last week. The department has so far conducted searches and seizures in about 291 cases, carried out surveys in 295 cases, where it has seized over Rs 316 crore including Rs 80 crore in new notes in raids, besides jewelry of Rs 76 crore, totaling Rs 393 crore, the chairman said.

The department has also sent over 3,000 notices on the basis of deposits in bank accounts. One needs to see how much illegal money is unearthed post this exercise. The other side of this exercise is that the honest taxpayer will feel foolish with repeated amnesty schemes for tax cheats.

In fact, the last black money scheme was even better for the evaders. Those who declared black money under the scheme had the option to pay the 45 percent tax in three easy installments — 25 percent by 30 November, another 25 percent by 31 March 2017 and the balance amount by 30 September 2017. The 45 percent penalty black money holders need to pay include tax, surcharge and penalty.

If someone with unaccounted money didn’t use such easy an installment scheme then, he is either a fool or someone who knows to fool the taxmen for the rest of his life. The chances that this time the tax amnesty scheme, which is open until 31 March 2017, may not yield much since the evader, who skipped the attractive September scheme, will now have to pay 50 percent of tax/ penalty and lock quarter of his deposits for four years. Rather, he would look for alternative ways such as benami channels.

Including the first scheme for foreign black money holders, this is the third amnesty the Modi government has offered to tax cheats. There is an obvious danger in rolling out back to back amnesty schemes. In the BJP Parliamentary meet, PM Modi mentioned the 1971 K N Wanchoo Committee report to support his ongoing demonetisation move.

But, the same report and the Shankar Acharya Committee in 1985 had also pointed out the ill-effects of announcing black money voluntary declaration schemes unless there is a compelling reason to do so. “Resorting to such a measure during normal times and that too frequently, would only shake the confidence of the honest taxpayers in the capacity of the government to deal with the law breakers and would invite contempt for its enforcement machinery,” the Wanchoo panel had said in 1971.

Whether the scenario, under which Modi announced demonetisation and black money declaration scheme for tax cheats falls under the description of ‘normal times’ or not is a matter of debate. But, PM Modi will do well revisiting the Wanchoo report for clues on the consequences of back-to-back black money declaration schemes.

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 16:11 IST

Demonetisation: RBI curbs deposits; 6 points to note if you have more than Rs 5,000 old notes

The government and the Reserve Bank of India have today come out with new rules to curb money laundering at bank counters. As per the new rules, if a customer is making deposit above Rs 5,000, he or she will face questions from the bank officials on why the deposits were not made earlier.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Stipulating that restrictive conditions will also apply on the cumulative deposit of such notes in a single account when it exceeds Rs 5,000, RBI said that defunct currency up to any amount can be deposited under the new black money amnesty PMGKY scheme.

Here’s the full text of the RBI’s rules in today’s notification:

i) Tenders of SBNs (specified bank notes) in excess of Rs 5,000 into a bank account will be received for credit only once during the remaining period till 30 December, 2016. The credit in such cases shall be afforded only after questioning tenderer, on record, in the presence of at least two officials of the bank, as to why this could not be deposited earlier and receiving a satisfactory explanation. The explanation should be kept on record to facilitate an audit trail at a later stage. An appropriate flag also should be raised in CBS to that effect so that no more tenders are allowed.

ii) Tenders of SBNs up to Rs 5,000 in value received across the counter will allowed to be credited to bank accounts in the normal course until 30 December, 2016. Even when tenders smaller than Rs 5,000 are made in an account and such tenders taken together on cumulative basis exceed Rs 5,000 they may be subject to the procedure to be followed in case of tenders above Rs 5000, with no more tenders being allowed thereafter until 30 December, 2016.

iii) It may also be ensured that full value of tenders of SBNs in excess of Rs 5,000 shall be credited to only KYC compliant accounts and if the accounts are not KYC compliant credits may be restricted up to Rs 50,000 subject to the conditions governing the conduct of such accounts.

iv) The above restrictions shall not apply to tenders of SBNs for the purpose of deposits under the Taxation and Investment Regime for the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, 2016.

v) The equivalent value of specified bank notes tendered may be credited to an account maintained by the tenderer at any bank in accordance with standard banking procedure and on production of valid proof of Identity.

vi) The equivalent value of specified bank notes tendered may be credited to a third party account, provided specific authorisation therefor accorded by the third party is presented to the bank, following standard banking procedure and on production of valid proof of identity of the person actually tendering, as indicated in Annex-5 of our circular cited above.

First Published On : Dec 19, 2016 16:29 IST

Demonetisation rule change: You can make more than Rs 5,000 deposit only once per a/c before 30 Dec

The finance ministry and the Reserve Bank of India have put in place new restriction on deposits of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 until 30 December in another effort to curb money laundering.

According to a finance ministry notification (read here), deposits of the demonetised notes above Rs 5,000 can be made only once until 30 December, the last date for banks to take deposits of old notes. However, there is no restrictions on depositing cash under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, a black money declaration scheme under amended taxation laws.



“Tenders of SBNs (specified bank notes) in excess of Rs 5,000 into a bank account will be received for credit only once during the remaining period till December 30, 2016,” the RBI said in a notification to banks posted on its website.

The central bank has also said in such cases the notes will be credited to deposits “only after questioning tenderer, on record, in the presence of at least two officials of the bank, as to why this could not be deposited earlier and receiving a satisfactory explanation”.

“The explanation should be kept on record to facilitate an audit trail at a later stage. An appropriate flag also should be raised in CBS to that effect so that no more tenders are allowed,” the RBI has said.

However, banks can allow deposits of up to Rs 5,000 in value to be credited to bank accounts in the normal course until 30 December.

Moreover, if you have made deposits smaller that Rs 5,000 your account, and if such deposits taken together on cumulative basis exceed Rs 5,000 then they may still have to face the questions from the banks officials. In such cases, you may not be allowed to make more deposits thereafter until December 30.

Also deposits above Rs 5,000 shall be credited to only KYC compliant accounts and if the accounts are not KYC compliant the limit for deposits stays at RS 50,000.

However, these rules are not applicable to deposits under the Taxation and Investment Regime for the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana.

First Published On : Dec 19, 2016 13:53 IST

PM Garib Kalyan Yojana providing chance to turn black money into white begins today

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>President Pranab Mukherjee’s assent to the Taxation Laws (Second Amendment) Bill 2016, the Act which has provisions to levy total tax, penalty and surcharge of 50% on the amount deposited post demonetization, comes into force on Saturday.Under the scheme, the money collected from taxes and penalty on undisclosed incomes can be deposited in the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojna (PMGKY) account from December 17 to March 31.The declarations will be kept confidential and people can also give information about black money on this email ID. The money generated from disclosure of unaccounted cash under the Act – which has higher taxes and stiffer penalty of up to 85% in respect of those found to be involved in conversion of black money into white – will be used for welfare scheme, said Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia here yesterday.Announcing the scheme here at a press conference, Adhia said unaccounted cash can be disclosed under PMGKY that comes with 50% tax and penalty and will be there from December 17 to March 31.”We want people to join PM Garib Kalyan Yojana, as they contribute to welfare of the people through this scheme. The declarations under new black money disclosure scheme will be kept confidential. People can give information about conversion of black money into white to the government through email address created to get such info,” said the Revenue Secretary.Stating that the Financial Intelligence Unit is analysing and monitoring deposit information, he said, “The government doesn’t want the inspector-raj to affect people, but the people should understand that all information about their deposits is with the department.” He, however, said mere depositing black money won’t make it white unless tax is paid on it.Meanwhile, Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) Chairman Sushil Chandra said, “We have conducted searches and seizures in about 291 cases, carried out surveys in 295 cases. We have also issued around 3,000 notices on the basis of deposits in bank accounts and have, so far, seized cash of more than Rs 316 crore, of which new currency is above Rs 80 crore, jewellery 76 crore, total seizure Rs. 393 crores.”He said, 2600 crore rupees of undisclosed income has been admitted by the taxpayers post – demonetization.The Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha last month as a Money Bill without discussion. Later, the Bill was sent to the Rajya Sabha, but it could not take up the legislation following the deadlock between the government and the opposition.Since it was a Money Bill, it is deemed to be passed if it is not returned by the Upper House to the Lok Sabha within 14 days.

Demonetisation: Rs 1.64 cr worth undisclosed money in Jan Dhan accounts, says I-T dept

New Delhi: The Income Tax department has found “various inconsistencies” in cash deposits in Jan Dhan accounts and detected about Rs 1.64 crore deposited by persons who have never filed returns as their income shown is below the taxable limit.

“Investigation being conducted by the Income Tax Department across India into the sudden surge in cash deposits in Jan dhan accounts have revealed various inconsistencies,” a Finance Ministry statement said.

Undisclosed money worth about Rs 1.64 crore has already been found in Jan Dhan accounts, it said.

The money has been deposited by persons who have never filed returns, with their income being below the taxable limits, it added.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The money has been detected at Kolkata, Midnapore, Ara (Bihar), Kochi and Varanasi, the statement said, adding that Rs 40 Lakh has been seized from one such account in Bihar.

Undisclosed income so detected will be brought to tax as per the provisions of the Income Tax Act, 1961, apart from other actions depending upon the outcome of investigations, it said.

“The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), once again urges the account holders not to consent to any kind of misuse of their accounts which would expose them to the dangers of being held responsible for the tax evasion by unscrupulous elements,” said the statement.

After Prime Minister Narendra Modi surprised entire nation with demonetisation of 500 and 1,000 rupee notes on November 8, deposits in Jan Dhan accounts have increased to 28,685 crore. As of November 9, the balance in about 25.5 crore such accounts was Rs 45,636.61 crore.

The total deposit in 25.85 crore such accounts was Rs 74,321.55 crore at the end of November 30, as per Finance Ministry data. The total was Rs 72,834.72 crore in 25.68 crore accounts at the end of November 23.

The Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna was launched in August 2014 to increase banking penetration and promote financial inclusion in the country.

First Published On : Dec 4, 2016 19:14 IST

India nudges Iran to award expedition rights of Farzad-B field to ONGC Videsh

New Delhi: India has nudged Iran to quickly award rights to develop the coveted Farzad-B gas field in the Persian Gulf to ONGC Videsh by wrapping up negotiations that have been dragging on for months.

Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan met Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Saturday to press for award of rights to develop the field, which was discovered by OVL, at the earliest.

“Our relationship is much more than a usual (bilateral) relationship,” Pradhan told PTI. “We stood by them (Iran) in their difficult times (US and western sanctions) and continued to buy oil from them.” He said that he reminded the visiting minister of Iran’s commitment to awarding the field development to OVL on nomination basis.

Minister of State Petroleum & Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan. Twitter/ @dpradhanbjp

Minister of State Petroleum & Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan. Twitter/ @dpradhanbjp

“I hope they will complete the process within the agreed time frame,” he added.

In October, the two nations had pushed back the timelines for concluding a deal on Farzad-B field to February from November agreed previously.

“Let me just say that I am hopeful of concluding the deal within the agreed time frame,” Pradhan said when asked if Iran would awarded the field to OVL within this fiscal.

Iran is reportedly unhappy with the $10 billion plan submitted by OVL, the overseas arm of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), for development of the 12.5 trillion cubic feet reserves in Farzad-B field and an accompanying plant to liquefy the gas for transportation in ships.

It feels the $5 billion cost OVL and its partners have put for developing the field is on the higher side and wants it to be reduced. OVL will earn a fixed rate of return and get to recover all the investment it has made in the field development.

India, however, feels that Iran is not making the right comparison by comparing it with South Pars field development. Farzad-B field is more complex than South Pars and has high sulphur, whose production and handling cost is additional.

The field in the Farsi block was discovered by an Indian consortium led by OVL in 2008. It has an in-place gas reserve of 21.7 tcf, of which 12.5 tcf are recoverable.

But India initially felt deterred from investing because of the fear of sanctions imposed by the US. But with the lifting of sanctions this year, it is back discussing a master development plan involving investment of $5 billion in field development and an equal amount in an LNG plant.

OVL is preparing a Master Development Plan for the gas field while also working on a gas pricing formula keeping in view of the global gas price scenario, sources said. Gas produced from the field can either be converted into LNG by freezing at sub-zero temperature and shipping in cryogenic ships to India or transported through a pipeline — via overland passing through Pakistan or sub-sea.

Iran and six world powers in July last year sealed a deal to curb the Islamic Republic’s nuclear programme in return for ending sanctions, opening prospects of Indian investments in the Persian Gulf field. The sanctions were lifted in January this year.

First Published On : Dec 4, 2016 14:40 IST

Taxi driver stumped after Rs 98 billion credited to his Jan Dhan account

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A taxi driver from Punjab was in for a huge surprise on November 4 when an amount of Rs 98,05,95,12,231 was credited to his State Bank of Patiala (SBoP) account. However that joy was short lived as the money was debited the next day.According to the Hindustan Times, Balwinder Singh, the billionaire-for-day, was astounded by this strange transaction in his account. “I had opened the account under Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY). My balance usually is around Rs 3,000,” he said.He went to the bank several times but instead of giving him any clarity about the incident, on November 7, they just gave him a new passbook which was clear of the Rs 98 billion entry. While the bank manager did not come forth with any explanation about the entry, lead bank manager Sandeep Garg said that the entry was a manual error. Instead of passing a credit entry of Rs 200, the assistant manager (accounts) entered the bank’s 11-digit internal Banking General Ledger account number in the amount column. The mistake was corrected the following day and the entry was reversed.However the bank did not tell Singh about the error immediately. Deputy commissioner Bhupinder Singh Rai has confirmed the details of the incident. An official has said that the bank acted irresponsibly on various counts. “Instead of telling the account holder themselves, they did even attend to him when he visited the branch,” the official said.An investigation was carried out by IT officials from Barnala, Sangrur and Patiala were led by assistant commissioner Pritpal Singh. The probe went on till midnight.

Another window for black money holders as govt looks to tweak Income-Tax?law

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Those having sleepless nights because of the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes lying with them have now been given a window by the government, which placed a Bill in the Lok Sabha on Monday to tweak the provisions of the Income-Tax (I-T) Act.This legislation has an income disclosure scheme, under which black money holders can deposit the banned high-value currency notes in their accounts and declare them to the government. Once they do that, they can bring a part of that cash into the system after paying various levies.DNA simplifies the government move.What does the new black money scheme mean?The new scheme – Taxation and Investment Regime for Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, 2016′ (PMGKY) – is part of the Taxation Laws (Second Amendment) Bill, 2016 introduced in the Parliament on Monday. It attempts to plug loopholes in the I-T Act, 1961, which is being misused to conceal black money.What does it propose?Make penalty provisions more stringent and amend Section 271AAB for a two-tier tax penalty regime of 30 per cent and 60 per cent after presidential assent, which is expected soon.What does it mean to black money holders?They will get a window till December 30 for depositing unaccounted money in banks and come clean about it by paying higher tax, penalty and a surcharge of 49.9 per cent. The can deposit 25 per cent of unexplained income in a zero-rated government scheme with a four-year lock-in period.Is the 33 per cent surcharge levied on penalty?It is levied on the tax amount. For example, at 30 per cent, the tax paid on an undisclosed income of Rs 100 is Rs 30. The surcharge would be charged on Rs 30 at 33%, which comes to Rs 9.9. The penalty proposed is 10 per cent, which would be Rs 10. So, tax, penalty and surcharge on the unexplained income of Rs 100 would be Rs 49.9 or 49.9%.How much will they have to pay in total?Besides tax, penalty and surcharge, those who declare black money will also have to park 25% of that in the PMGKY scheme for four years without earning any interest. This means Rs 25 of the Rs 100 will fall there. So, the total amount to be paid to the government would be Rs 75 on undisclosed income of Rs 100.How much money will be at their disposal?Those declaring hidden wealth will be able to bring back Rs 25 of the unexplained Rs 100 back into circulation and into the formal sector. They can withdraw another Rs 25 after four years.What if they fail to make use of this window?Then they can file tax returns at the end of the financial year and declare unknown income. But they will have to pay 60 per cent tax, 25 per cent surcharge and 10 per cent penalty. This means, they will have to pay Rs 75 (tax, penalty and surcharge) on Rs 100 against Rs 50 during the window period.If they do not disclose income while filing returns, the 75 per cent levy would become 85 per cent. In case of misreporting or under-reporting or any other wrongdoing, they would be governed by the current provisions under Section 270A of a levy of 50 per cent (under-reporting) and up to 200 per cent (misreporting)

Varanasi: Salvation homes to admit only ‘terminally ill’ to shed city’s association with death

Probably troubled with constant criticism that Varanasi is often associated with death and dying, India’s holiest city is turning a new leaf in its attempt to gain a new identity.

The first step will be taken by the end of next year in January 2017 when devotees attempting entry into the city’s salvation homes — mukti, mumuksha or moksha bhavans — will be doubly screened and only those with terminal illnesses will be admitted.

A little over 20,000 very sick devotees visit Varanasi every year to die because death in this holy city is supposed to break the cycle of death and rebirth. Once one dies in Varanasi, he or she is never reborn, and thus attains salvation, or moksha, the Hindu term signifying freedom from the cycle of life and death. But over the years, nearly half of them were turned away by the hostel authorities because they did not die and were found occupying their rooms — stubbornly waiting for death — for months, in some cases years.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“Time has come to stop this death tourism,” says Bhairavi Nath Shukla of Kashi Laabh Mukti Bhavan in Varanasi, also the Lok Sabha constituency of top BJP leader and prime minister, Narendra Modi.

He says there are over 200 such homes ready to house those wanting to die, some set up way back in 1920 like the Mumukshu Bhawan (Home for the Ailing), Kashi Laabh Mukti Bhavan, and Moksha Bhawan (Salvation Home) near the Assi Ghat.

Interestingly, many Indian and multinational companies came forward to renovate the city, especially its decaying ghats but not showed interests in sprucing up the death homes.

“The death homes are not something many look up to,” says Shukla.

He says the hostel owners will now look for “anytime death” patients rather than those who doctors claim “should not occupy a hospital bed for obvious reasons”. “The wait for death is not a very encouraging sign in a city full of life,” says Shukla.

Shukla said the new move was to control hordes of people landing up at the doors of his and other salvation homes in the city. “Somewhere, it was impacting the sanctity of the city, too many coming to die is not good news for anyone, especially when you do not know about the person’s medical condition. Scores of them waiting to die is not a good sight,” he says.

Now, Shukla — currently renovating his ten room Mukti Bhavan — is accommodating only those who doctors have declared terminally ill. After renovation, there will be 16 rooms for people who wish to die. There will also be a temple and a priest round-the-clock to offer special services.

Officials at the Moksha Bhavan near Assi Ghat and two big ones near the iconic Daswadamedh Ghat in the city say their homes — like other salvation homes — mostly run on charity and hence, the need to tighten annual expenses.

“Not every guest has all the time in the world. And no one can predict death. So, we are admitting patients who the doctors have strongly hinted would die soon,” says Anand Pradhan, an official at Moksha Bhavan.

Although the rules may appear bizarre, earlier, it stipulated a person to stay for a fortnight and die within that period. Once checked in, guests were offered a number and asked to drop their names. Expectedly, in most cases, the period would be extended up to three months, causing a huge waiting list of people keen to die in the city.

“Relatives of those patients refused to leave when asked to make way for others,” says Pradhan, happy at the new guidelines which will definitely slow down the entries. “No one can predict when someone will die, the doctors can only give an indication.”

Kalawati Devi, 99, has been staying at the Moksha Bhavan for a little over four months. “We pray every day she dies but she lives for yet another day. She wanted to die in Varanasi because her husband, and her brother, also died here,” says her son Sangram Singh, 75.

Routinely, sons, daughters and relatives of those ailing patients would bring them to Varanasi, unsure when the patient would die. The waiting period was invariably long. Though there are no records, it is estimated that a little over 500,000 people — for the last two decades — have made use of the services of such hostels to breathe their last, their age ranging between 95-110 years.

Anjan Chakravarty, who has been living in Varanasi for more than four decades, says the move will cut down those seeking death in the holy city. “I have always believed that Varanasi is a city of life, not death, despite the city being synonymous with pyres at the ghats and the elderly waiting to die. Hopefully, this death tourism will slow down,” he adds.

Chakravarty, however, says that the hostel owners will find it tough to follow the rules. “The government did not make any rules. The hostel owners made it because it was an easy way to earn money. Now this long wait to death is causing them discomfort. It’s good that they are now seeking only terminally ill patients,” he says.

But Delhi-based publisher Pramod Kapoor for whom Varanasi is almost a second home, feels the new move will genuinely trigger a dilemma in the minds of many. “A death in Varanasi is never mourned, so I doubt whether waiting to die in Varanasi will ever be looked down upon by the visitors to the city. Like the temples, ghats, Ganges, this one — over decades — has come to stay.”

And finally, even doctors cannot predict the exact time of death. “The selfie generation may not like the practice and seek a change, but it will be tough to get rid of those wanting to die in Varanasi,” says Kapoor.

After all, a death wish is a death wish.

First Published On : Nov 28, 2016 09:46 IST

Mizoram: Question mark on Bru people repatriation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mizoram Bru Displace People’s Forum (MBDPF) President A Sawibunga expressed doubt that thousands of Bru people, now lodged in six relief camps in North Tripura district would be willing to return to Mizoram unless each repatriated family is disbursed money for construction of a house under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY). MBDPF is an apex body of the Bru people lodged in the Tripura relief camps since the later part of 1997. Sawibunga, who is now in Aizawl to appear before a district court in which he is the accused in a defamation case, said that the centre has to give official assurance that all the families in the camps would be given house construction expenses under the Prime Minister’s program of housing for all.He lamented that many bona fide residents of Mizoram in the six relief camps were not identified by the Mizoram government officials who conducted the identification since November two till Wednesday. “The officials did not bother to check ration cards issued by the Mizoram government and other documents saying their instruction was to identify only those enrolled in the 1995 Voters lists,” he said, adding that many descendants of voters whose parents have died were also left out in the identification.He also said that the Tripura government officials issued birth certificates to only few Bru babies born in the relief camps which created problems in identification. Mizoram government officials identified 32,857 Brus belonging to 5,413 families during the identification process who would be repatriated as per the proposed road map for Bru repatriation.According to the Road Map-V for Bru Repatriation, around 21,000 Brus belonging to 3,445 families were to be repatriated, but the figure had shot up much more than the target earlier.Meanwhile, the physical repatriation, scheduled to commence from November 30 is not likely to begin as per schedule due to various problems, state home department officials said.The officials said that the Ministry of Home Affairs’ delay in making final decision on the proposed enhancement of rehabilitation and resettlement package for the resettled Bru families and the recent demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes hindered physical repatriation to begin as per schedule.At this rate, the physical repatriation may only take off in February next year, some officials said.

Jan Dhan accounts richer by Rs 21,000 crore in 15 days

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A massive sum of Rs 21,000 crore has flowed into accounts opened under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) in the two weeks since the government withdrew Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.On November 9 – the demonetization came into effect at 12 midnight following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement on the evening of November 8 – the balance in about 25.5 crore such accounts was Rs 45,636.61 crore. It has since jumped an estimated 46 per cent to Rs 66,636 crore, finance ministry sources have revealed.West Bengal leads the pack of states which has seen the highest deposits so far, followed by Karnataka, they added.The surge in deposits has given rise to suspicion that black money hoarders could be using their staff and other poor people as mules to launder their cash.One Jan Dhan account holder told DNA on condition of anonymity that 20 per cent commission was being offered to those willing to deposit money into their accounts. With the government declaring that deposits up to Rs 2.5 lakh would not be questioned, there are instances of Jan Dhan account holders being enticed to put the money and keep a percentage when they finally withdraw it.Launched on August 28, 2014, Jan Dhan accounts can have deposits up to Rs 1 lakh a year. Those accounts that don’t adhere to Know Your Customer norms have a lower limit Rs 50,000.Of the 25.51 crore Jan Dhan accounts, 23.27 per cent had no money in them – amounting to 5.86 crore zero-balance accounts.Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said that the government is looking into money that has “popped up” suddenly into the zero-balance accounts. “We are getting some complaints that suddenly monies have popped up in the Jan Dhan accounts, so there is a misuse…,” he had said.Income tax sources said they are monitoring unusual deposits in all accounts, including Jan Dhan accounts. All Jan Dhan accounts which have deposited more than Rs 50,000 in the last 15 days are on the radar.However, there is also the view that the Jan Dhan account holder can get away by saying that the amount represented his/her life savings that were kept at home.During his recent Agra rally, the Prime Minister had asked the poor to not allow the misuse of their accounts.
BLACK TO WHITE: HERE’S HOW THEY’RE DOING ITPaying a commission, about 20%, to a Jan Dhan account holder for depositing the black moneyDonating to a temple, then collecting it after paying the priest a commissionBack-dated fixed deposits in cooperative banks and credit societiesApproaching the banknote mafia to collect at least 50% backPaying four-five months salaries in advanceBooking and cancelling air/train ticketsProfessional money laundering firmsUsing farmers as agri income is not taxed.Using political parties as donations up to Rs 20,000 is permitted

Indian civilsation existed before PM Modi came to power: P Chidambaram

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress leader P Chidambaram attacked the Narendra Modi government for obliterating everything about India before it came to power and said it believes there was no civilisation prior to that.”As far as the present government is concerned, India began, civilisation began only on May 26, 2014,” Chidambaram said at the Tatas-run Mumbai LitFest today while addressing a panel discussion on ‘Banking for the bottom billion’.The former Finance Minister was referring to the NDA government not adding the 13 crore no-frills accounts, opened during the UPA regime, with the Jan Dhan ones that were opened during the present government’s financial inclusion drive.While the UPA government had opened these accounts between 2004 and 2014 under its financial inclusion drive, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had relaunched this under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana on August 28, 2014, under which around 25.51 crore accounts have been opened so far.Chidambaram noted that as many as 13 crore no-frills accounts were opened under the UPA rule, but are blacked out now.”These 13 crore accounts which we opened between 2004 and 2014, under the guidance of C Rangarajan, as far as the (present) government is concerned, they don’t exist, they are blacked out,” he said, adding that “Jan Dhan is only another name for no-frills accounts”.The Congress leader praised the government’s efforts for this financial inclusion drive, but said by simply opening an account, one’s behaviour can’t be changed. “People must have money to deposit in the account, they must have a need to borrow from that account, otherwise account will remain dormant. So, how does our bankers jugad sense work? The government pulls them up for saying dormant accounts, they put one rupee from their pockets in those accounts,” he added.Earlier in the day, he had said the after-effects of the demonetisation will last longer than expected as it was carried out without much thinking and he also doubted if the government had consulted its Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian on this before taking the decision.”You are seeing the first-order effect of withdrawing, sucking out 86 per cent of the currency in circulation from the market. The first order will continue for several weeks now. Then, you will see the second-order effect,” he said.”My suspicion is the only knowledgeable economist in the government Arvind Subramanian was not consulted,” he said.

Haryana: PM Modi inaugrates year-long jubilee celebrations; declares 7 districts open defecation free

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched three schemes for Haryana on Tuesday, declared seven rural districts of the state open defecation free and eight as kerosene free as he inaugurated the year-long golden jubilee celebrations of its formation.Addressing a huge gathering at the Tau Devi Lal stadium in Gurgaon, he also lauded the steps taken by Haryana towards improving the adverse sex ratio and called upon the people of the state to take a pledge to protect the girl child. Haryana was carved out as a separate state from the then joint Punjab on November 1, 1966.On protecting the girl child, Modi said, “This golden jubilee year, every Haryanvi should take a pledge to save the girl child and there should be no let up in this regard and the girl child will not be allowed to be killed in the mother’s womb. There cannot be a bigger occasion for golden jubilee than this.” He also thanked the elders and mothers of Haryana who took upon themselves to protect the girl child and helped in improving the sex ratio. “I want to commend people of Haryana that they respected the sentiment when I had begged for saving lives of girls when I launched Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao campaign (from Panipat in January 2015). “Today, I can say with satisfaction, that people of Haryana respected this sentiment. Gender ratio has improved in the country and if any state is making fast improvement in this, it is Haryana,” he said.
ALSO READ PM Modi lauds steps taken by Haryana towards improving dismal sex ratioModi said Haryana has taken fast strides in development and its people have made a mark in all spheres of life, and thus the state has the potential to steer the country forward and act as its growth engine. “If we move forward keeping public interest and participation in mind, then we can achieve something. I am confident that Haryana has much strength to take the country forward and can act as its growth engine,” he said.The schemes Modi launched are ‘Deen Dayal Jan Awas Yojana’, Automation of Fair Price Shops and Kerosene Free Haryana. The ‘Deen Dayal Jan Awas Yojana’ aims to put a check on the development of unauthorised colonies and simultaneously achieve the target of ‘Housing for All-2022’ at reasonable rates in small and medium potential towns.Automation of the Fair Price Shops involves provisioning of point of sale device at every fair price shop with connectivity to ensure Aadhaar-based biometric identification of the beneficiaries and online transactions of food grains and other commodities. This system will benefit 29.30 lakh poor families and 1.32 crore beneficiaries in the state.With coverage of the remaining six lakh families out of the 11.05 lakh BPL families under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjawala Yojna (PMUY), Haryana is well on way to becoming the first major state to be kerosene free. Haryana has set the target to become Kerosene Free by March 31, 2017.

In times of polls, ministers head to Congress citadel armed with PM’s pet scheme

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A team of three senior union ministers are all set to descend on the Congress bastion of Amethi to launch Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship scheme to distribute gas connections to the poor.A week after writing to Congress vice-president and Amethi MP Rahul Gandhi seeking his presence on the occasion, petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan along with Human Resource Development minister Prakash Javadekar and textiles minister Smriti Irani, who was BJP’s candidate from the seat in 2014, will be in the constituency in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh on Saturday.Sources said since Gandhi did not respond to the letter, the government will go ahead with the distribution programme in his absence. Generally, the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojna providing LPG connections to BPL women, involves participation of MPs cutting across party lines, they said.The ministers will also inaugurate the Rajiv Gandhi institute of petroleum technology (RGPIT). Gandhi on Friday put out his reply to Pradhan on this saying the UPA government had initiated the RGPIT Act in 2007 and that he has been personally visiting the campus at Jais since 2008. “I am happy that this historical effort of ours is moving forward. I would, however, like to bring to your notice that a number of other major development initiatives in Amethi which had either been legislated or received cabinet approval have not progressed during the current NDA government,” he said. These included Jagdishpur Paper Mill, Rajiv Gandhi National Aviation University, National Automotive Testing and R & D Infrastructure Project, Institute of Driving and Training and Research and Kendriya Vidyalaya.The politics over schemes has gained momentum as assembly elections in UP get closer. Sources said the government wanted to step up LPG distribution in Amethi, where 1.2 lakh beneficiaries have been identified who qualify for the scheme. So far, 36,000 connections have been given and 8000 applications cleared. However, Amethi has recorded a 53 per cent LPG coverage, just one per cent less than the average in UP. The national average is 61 per cent.The Modi government has been underlining its schemes aimed at reaching out to the poor. The government had tried to make the Ujjwala scheme apolitical by trying to distribute the connections through the local MPs in a bid to involve all stakeholders, sources said.The Prime Minister had launched the scheme, which aims to provide five crore LPG connections to women in BPL households over the next three financial years, at a cost of Rs. 8,000 crore, from Ballia in UP in August this year.

‘This forest is like an old friend’ – tribal women fight for land ownership | Reuters

By Manipadma Jena

RANAPUR, India (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – For the tribal women of Gunduribadi village, in India’s Odisha state, an early morning patrol is essential to conserve their forest, but what they are protecting goes far beyond food security or even their livelihoods.Four decades ago, logging and theft of commercial timber and bamboo had denuded hills, depleted groundwaters and dried up streams around Nayagarh district, forcing people to migrate in droves, said Arjun Pradhan, 70, headman of Gunduribadi village.The crisis prompted the community to embark on a campaign to nurture their forest and restore the ecosystem, he said.”What you see today as Nayagarh’s democratic movement to sustain community forests resources and become self-reliant was born of necessity 40 years ago after six droughts in 10 years shattered its farm and forest-based livelihoods,” Pradhan said.Today, the revitalised ecosystem provides water all year round, with a stream irrigating small farms even in mid-summer, when pond floors dry and crack in many parts of India.The conservation plan is so successful it has become a template for forestry across Odisha, Arjun Pradhan said.Now the tribal women who conserve the forest are fighting for legal ownership under India’s 2006 Forest Rights Act (FRA) law, which recognises forest-dwellers’ rights over their traditional lands and resources.Government data shows that between early 2008 and July 2016, out of a total 4.2 million claims for titles filed under the FRA, only 1.6 million, or a third, were awarded. Out of this figure, just 44,500 titles were given to communities or villages, out of a potential 170,000 villages.Progress in implementing the law has been slow as India, one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, seeks land for industrial use and development projects, land experts said.Across Nayagarh, a total of 850 villages protect around 100,000 hectares (247,105 acres) of forestland. In 2015 Nayagarh’s forest cover was 53 percent of its total geographical area, more than twice that of India’s 21.3 percent.In India, almost 150 million people in 170,000 villages live inside or on the fringes of forests, which they rely on for subsistence and income.

There are just 27 households in Gunduribadi, owning barely a hectare (2.4 acres) of land each.But as rain falls on farms in the foothills of the village, it carries nutrient-rich humus from the forest, enriching the soil and adding to the bounty of crops and wild food. The soil is so packed with nutrients that each hectare provides around 6,500 kg (14,330 lb) of rice each harvest, three times more than on farms near unprotected forests, locals say.The forest also provides a range of seasonal food for local families, as well as extra income from medicinal plants that can be sold at market.”This forest is like an old friend that never fails to help us cope during droughts and bad crop years, saving us from starvation and [the need for] migration,” Dami Nayak, a local woman aged 80, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Another woman living in Gunduribadi, Janha Pradhan holds out a small harvest of sweet tuber, known locally as “pichuli”, which she collected on her morning patrol. For the 44-year-old widow on a meagre income, these wild yams are more nutritious than potatoes – and cost nothing. Such food is harvested carefully to nurture the forest.”We never pull out the entire root but carefully cut out a portion and leave the remaining root beneath the soil to regrow,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.The wild food includes bamboo shoots rich in protein, wild mushrooms, spine gourds and bean vines that proliferate on sturdy trees, as well as iron-rich spinach that wards off anaemia, a major health concern for rural women and children.While the women also obtain wood for fuel from the forest, they never chop the trees for firewood. “On our morning patrol we break off dry branches and carry them home,” said Kama Pradhan, 35. “But we are selective, we know which species of wood does not give out harmful smoke.”

Conservation is based on simple yet binding rules set by the village council, which permits villagers to collect dry shrub fuelwood, fodder and edible products sustainably, based on need.Felling trees – usually for rebuilding houses, or for weddings or funeral pyres – needs permission, and taking axes into the forests is banned.Over the years, the plan has entailed sacrifices: as forests regenerated, goats were sold and banned for 10 years to stop them nibbling green shoots. The twice-daily meals of rice were cooked once to reduce fuelwood and let forests grow.A community policing system was introduced. Known as “thengapali”, it entails members of four families passing on the duty of forest patrol to four other families by placing sticks outside their homes at night.Gunduribadi’s patrols say they are protecting benefits that are key to the future survival and wellbeing of the community.Despite protecting the forest with their lives – sometimes literally, when confrontations with gangs plundering timber or babmboo risk turning violent – most forest-dwelling communities lack legal recognition of land ownership.Activists say collective rights have been sidelined and that millions of forest-dwellers are still struggling with the complicated process of registering claims.They say that a 2015 law that outlines a framework for the use of compensatory afforestation funds shuts village councils out of the planning and implementation of afforestation.This will not only encourage the exploitation of community land, they say, but destroy the bio-diverse and climate-resilient forests that communities like Gunduribadi survive on. (Reporting by Manipadma Jena, Editing by Jo Griffin; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit news.trust.org)

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

Bhubaneswar fire: JP Nadda blames hospital for lapses; says all guilty should be punished

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Detecting serious lapses in fire safety measures at Sum Hospital where a massive blaze killed 21 people, Union Health Minister JP Nadda on Wednesday said all those responsible for the incident should be punished.”It is saddening and very very shocking and worrisome too. I found some safety issues are there (at Sum Hospital) which need to be addressed,” Nadda told reporters after visiting the fire-ravaged private hospital in Bhubaneswar.Asking the state government to take necessary steps, the Union minister said “the faith of the people should be restored and accordingly, the people who are responsible (for the incident) should be punished. At the same time the protocol and guidelines should be maintained”.The minister also visited different hospitals including AIIMS, Capital hospital, AMRI hospital and KIMS to enquire about the patients undergoing treatment there since Monday night after being shifted from the fire-hit healthcare facility.Nadda, who also held discussion with health officials on the matter, assured all support to Odisha government for the treatment of patients affected in the Sum Hospital fire.”I am not here for blame game. Our priority is proper treatment of patients who have been affected due to the fire at a medical facility two days ago,” Nadda said.Stating that the Centre would take measures to ensure better treatment of the fire-hit patients, Nadda said the state government had constituted panels for conducting inquiry into the mishap. The state government should implement fire safety measures at hospitals, he said.The Health Minister was accompanied by Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.

Bhubaneshwar hospital fire: JP Nadda, Dharmendra Pradhan to take stock of situation today

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Health Minister J P Nadda and Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan will arrive in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday to take stock of the fire tragedy at SUM hospital that has claimed 19 lives.Nadda is scheduled to visit the AIIMS to oversee the treatment of the injured and will hold a review meeting with the central and state government officers and AIIMS authorities.On the basis of the preliminary fact-finding report, Odisha government on Tuesday filed two criminal cases alleging negligence in conduct and safety against the hospital and initiated administrative inquiries into the mishap.The Bhubaneswar Commissionerate police have arrested four hospital staff on charges of negligence in conduct and safety.The Odisha Human Rights Commission has also registered a suo motu case over the fire accident and served notices to the state Health Secretary and Director General (Fire Services) to submit a report within three weeks.Some patients who were shifted from SUM Hospital to other hospitals in Bhubaneswar after the fire mishap, are said to be in critical condition and fighting for their life at the ICUs.

Mumbai Marathi school introduces spoken English classes to save itself from shutdown

Mumbai: Every year around 30 Marathi medium civic schools shut down in Maharashtra posing a serious threat to the state-aided education system. But amidst the gloom, one school may have given a ray of hope to hundreds of Marathi schools in the state.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The senior officials of the directorate of education seems to be quite taken by a unique experiment conducted in one of state’s oldest schools — DS High School, run by Shiv Shikshan Sanstha in Sion, Mumbai. The school recently tied up with Bhakti Shah, a linguistic expert based in Boston, to create a curriculum for its teachers in spoken English.

Teachers, in group of five, spend two hour each week to attend spoken English classes.

“The method uses phonetics with focus on accent neutralisation. Around 35 teachers attend these classes each week and the change is visible,” says Rakesh Damania, a linguistic expert who has been conducting the training programme devised by Shah. “The enthusiasm to learn conversational English in the senior teachers is very high. We start with small phrases, then sentences and we also used a skit format for everyone to perform,” he explained.

DS High School has 2,750 students in its Marathi division (largely from Sion-Dharavi area), but the aspiration level is very high.

The project aims to ensure that teachers start conversing with the students in English and ultimately teach some subjects in English. “We have informed the parents about the project and the response is amazing. Our admissions have not been affected at all. Today, even the poorest parents want their children to learn and speak in English. It is one singular reason for students to opt out of Marathi schools. So, we decided to work on it with the best linguistic expert for our teachers, who will eventually start speaking in English with students,” explains Rajendra Pradhan, president, DS High school.

With Marathi medium schools failing to attract kids, the schools are facing the inevitable conclusion – a shut down. The decline in enrollments has crossed a whopping 60 per cent mark. More than 30,000 students have dropped out of civic schools in the past five years, according to a report by Praja Foundation, a non-governmental organisation. This is despite the fact that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has a mid-day meal plan and very low fees.

The message is clear – change or perish. As expected, the politicians in the area have merely offered lip service but no real help. All parties have and will yet again play the Marathi pride card (civic elections in Mumbai are slated in Feb 2017), but offer no solution even as Marathi medium aided schools are shutting down fast.

Pradhan, an ex-student himself, is taking some path-breaking decisions — get the school’s global alumni together, approach corporate companies to get funds under CSR to ensure the school survives the private English school onslaught, but also help other Marathi-aided schools nearby.

The management’s decision also prompted the school’s principal, AM Mahadik, to join the spoken English class. Mahadik, a winner of many state awards in education, admitted that it was tough for him to communicate in academic conferences as he is unable to speak in English. “I’m attending the classes, and I want this project to work,” he told Firstpost.

History teacher Kalpana Patil stated that the stress on spoken part of the language rather than tough grammar is working for her as well as many teachers. “I’ve started speaking to students in English. It is a good beginning,” she said.

On the other hand, Anagha Bhiwandkar, an English teacher herself told us, “The truth is that teaching the English textbook comes natural to me, but even I’m unable to converse in English. I’m glad that the school is giving us the opportunity to train ourselves and learn the language,” she said.

So, will all this eventually work? “Frankly, we have no option. The teachers have to bring in the change in them and pass it on to students. Today, spoken English is a key element for all kids to find a job and progress. We are doing it and yet protecting the Marathi culture,” added Pradhan.

Smita Deshmukh is a senior journalist and communications expert based in Mumbai. You can follow her on twitter @smitadeshmukh

Dharmendra Pradhan blames Odisha govt for Encephalitis deaths

Fri, 14 Oct 2016-03:36pm , Bengaluru , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Friday said the Odisha government’s “failure” to take preventive measures to check Japanese Encephalitis had led to the deaths of 50 infants.”The local government (Naveen Patnaik government) failed to take preventive measures, and that is the main reason for this kind of alarming scenario in Malkangiri district of Odisha,” he told reporters after inaugurating Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited’s Green R&D Centre near Hoskote, about 30 kms from here.Pradhan said the Centre was extending all kind of support to the Odisha government to bring the disease under control. “The government of India is extending every kind of help. Hope that things are under control. It could have been prevented by taking preventive measures. Now, let us see – let us work together to prevent that epidemic,” he said.

Mumbai to undergo London like CCTV expansion

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking a leaf out of London’s mass video surveillance network, the state government is planning to launch a community-based policing model for CCTV based-surveillance by public and private establishments.A collaborative framework will be laid down for authorities to receive video feed from entities like housing societies, public offices, shops, restaurants, malls and religious places. While improving the surveillance system in cities, this will also enhance the level of protection and deterrence for these institutions. The government is also looking at examining ways to establish last-mile connectivity to tap into the feeds of cameras positioned towards roads and public domains.On Sunday, the Maharashtra government will launch its Rs 949 crore project which includes a network of 4,717 cameras at 1,510 locations in Mumbai. The Mumbai CCTV project floated after the 26/11 terror attacks for surveillance at sensitive spots and faster response due to real-time streaming, includes network connectivity to 102 public and private establishments. It also includes high-value targets like malls, hospitals, Railway stations, schools and hotels for the police to tap into their CCTV networks based on requirements and worst-case scenarios.”Many entities like jewellery shops have installed CCTVs. We are looking at collecting video feeds from their cameras which cover roads and public places outside their premises. We will also request these establishments to set up cameras to cover vulnerable and sensitive areas. This will help the police and enhance the level of security for these entities as well,” a source told dna. Care will be taken to ensure that the CCTV systems do not cause a loss of privacy and these establishments will be involved on a voluntary basis.”We are planning to send instructions to public and private institutions including housing societies and even mandals with details like the type of cameras to be installed, their specifications and protocols to be followed. Contact details of those handling security will also be collected,” said a state government source.”We plan to eventually integrate these private camera systems with our network and this will ensure that no technical issues are created in the integration,” the source added, pointing to how over 90% of the cameras used in London were not established by the government.”We already take the feed from private entities, but this will make it more structured. Moreover, the police will get information about establishments where CCTVs are already installed, which will help in crime detection,” the source stated.Vijay Kumar Gautam, principal secretary, Information Technology (IT) said a committee under him would submit a report on the type of cameras to be used, standard specifications and last-mile connectivity to integrate the feed with the larger CCTV network. The committee will also suggest policy interventions to the state urban development department like if setting up CCTV cameras covering the public areas and domain could be integrated into the standard guidelines for building permissions from the security perspective.-Though the Mumbai CCTV project initially planned to establish 6,020 remotely-controlled, high-definition quality IP cameras in the city, the number of cameras was brought down to 4,717 at 1,510 spots due to the decision to increase the number of poles at the sites.-The high-level enquiry committee under former union home secretary Ram Pradhan, which probed the 26/11 attacks, had pointed out that unlike their counterparts in cities like New York, the Mumbai police had no ready access to CCTV cameras in private premises like hotels.

Jammu and Kashmir: Mehbooba Mufti launches Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojna

Jammu: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti launched the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) in the state to provide free LPG connections to BPL households on Wednesday.

File photo of Mehbooba Mufti. AFP

File photo of Mehbooba Mufti. AFP

Apart from Mufti, Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan and Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh gave away free LPG connections to 11 women from BPL households.

Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Minister said that the initiative, in line with creating smokeless villages across the country, has come as a moment of pride for the women in BPL households for getting LPG connection as an identity of their own and to lead a smoke-free, less polluted, convenient and healthy life.

PMUY was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May 2016. Under PMUY, five crore LPG connections will be provided to BPL families across the country during the next three years.

For Jammu and Kashmir, a target of 35 lakh connections has been set under PMUY out of which one lakh connections are to be provided during next 15 days.

Under the scheme, the enrolment of the BPL families have been made constituency wise all over the state and the deserving people shall be given free LPG connections along with a gas stove and a regulator.

Highlighting that such schemes are designed keeping in mind the welfare of the poor, the Chief Minister said that PMUY will benefit the poor, especially the women.

Providing LPG connections to BPL households will ensure universal coverage of cooking gas, Mufti said, adding that this measure will empower women and protect their health by reducing the labour and time spent on cooking.

Pradhan said the LPG would be made available to everyone in the state.

He said in the next two years no home in Jammu and Kashmir would be without LPG connection. He also announced that a new LPG bottling plant would be started in Kargil, while gas production would be increased in Leh.

Defence Minister Parrikar condemns attack on BJP leaders in Odisha

Bhubaneshwar: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Sunday condemned the attack on the vehicles of BJP leaders allegedly by Biju Janata Dal (BJD) workers in Odisha and dared the ruling party to target him.

“I am the defence minister of the country. If anyone (BJD) has guts, let him come in front of me,” Parrikar told reporters.

The Odisha government is feeling insecure even though the assembly elections are three years away, he said.

“The ground under their feet is slipping. They are doing this out of fear,” said Parrikar.

He said the incident in Bargarh district on 24 June—in which some BJD leaders allegedly attacked the convoy of central ministers Santosh Gangwar and Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti and former Jharkhand chief minister Arjun Munda—was pre-planned and condemnable.

File photo of Manohar Parrikar. PTIFile photo of Manohar Parrikar. PTI

File photo of Manohar Parrikar. PTI

The three were attacked in the district town when they were on their way to attend Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) Vikas Ustav in Bargarh.

Union Drinking Water and Sanitation Minister Ram Kripal Yadav and Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan also criticised the ruling BJD.

“It is a very unfortunate incident. I had never seen such incident anywhere else in the country. What happened in Bargarh is open hooliganism,” said Yadav who represents Bihar’s Pataliputra constituency in the Lok Sabha.

He said Bihar also suffers from bitter political divisions, but there is no goondaism among the parties.

“The politics of this kind can be possible only in Odisha, not in any other part of this country. I strongly condemn this incident. There is no place for such hooliganism in a democracy,” he added.

Petroleum Minister Pradhan said the ruling party has resorted to undemocratic processes.

“The people of Odisha always believe in the democratic process. Slippers, sticks, stones and using filthy language are utterly undemocratic methods. As the ground under their feet is slipping, they have become totalitarian,” said Pradhan.

Parrikar, Yadav and Pradhan were in Odisha to attend BJP’s Vikas Ustav in Cuttack on Sunday.

The ruling BJD has been trying to make light of the incident and denying responsibility.

“There was no attack on anyone. The issueless BJP is making it an issue unnecessarily. The police is investigating into the matter,” said BJD MP Prasanna Acharya.

Meanwhile, the state BJP has decided to stage block-level demonstrations on 29 June to protest against the attack on its leaders’ vehicles. It will also hold a demonstration in front of Raj Bhavan here on 4 July.

Nothing has changed in last 2 years as 400 persons die every day in road accidents: Nitin Gadkari

An average of 400 persons die every day in road accidents in India with “faulty engineering” being a major cause, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Thursday while admitting that not much has changed even after two years of “dedicated work and sincere efforts”.Releasing a report on road accidents in India in 2015, the Minister for Road Transport and Highways said he is “deeply pained” at the findings that show 17 deaths in 57 crashes per hour and over 54% of those getting killed being in the age group of 15-34 years.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Let people criticise us but I want to make the report public. Our two years of dedicated work and sincere efforts has resulted in not much change but we are committed to changing the scenario as I cannot allow this. My heart fills with immense pain,” he said.”This magnitude was not killed in wars, epidemic and militancy,” Gadkari told reporters while releasing the report.”Human sacrifices cannot be allowed. We have taken a slew of steps in the last two years to minimise this including launch of Pradhan Mantri Sadak Suraksha Yojana and earmarking 1% of the project cost for road safety that translates to Rs 5,000 crore on it,” he added.He said though the reports lists driver’s fault for 77.1% of the road accidents in 2015, “faulty road engineering” is one of the major causes.Gadkari also sought to blame the previous government, saying that the steps taken by the “UPA regime to economise construction cost has done away with several overbridges and underpasses on many crucial roads leading to high number of accidents at several places including on Delhi-Gurgaon stretch”.He said the government is confident of bringing down road fatalities by 50% in a year’s span through massive initiatives that include decision to construct 4-lane highways where the traffic is over 10,000 pcu (passenger car unit) as against previous specification of 25,000 pcu.

Dadri: Villagers defy prohibitory orders, demand FIR against Akhlaq’s family within 20 days

Despite the District Magistrate of Gautam Budh Nagar clamping Section 144 CrPC in Bishada village in Dadri, the villagers on Monday held a panchayat to discuss the lynching incident. Earlier in the morning, the villagers had threatened to hold a mahapanchayat demanding an FIR to be registered against Mohammad Akhlaq’s family.Eight months after Akhlaq was lynched by a mob that accused his family of storing and eating beef, a report prepared by a forensic lab in Mathura had said that the meat sample belonged to a “cow or its progeny”.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The panchayat on Monday was held at the same temple where the announcement was made on September 28, 2015 that incited the mob.Local Shiv Sena leaders and BJP leader Sanjay Rana, whose son allegedly led a mob that attacked Mohammad Akhlaq, were also present at the panchayat. Rana said that his son Vishal is the “real victim” of the incident. Azaan JavaidPratab Singh Sisodia, a village elder who claimed to have read some parts of the Quran said, “Surah al bakrah says cow slaughter is not allowed in Islam. Akhlaq may have been a victim, but ‘we’ are the bigger victims.”Azaan JavaidOther village elders at the panchayat claimed that Akhlaq was not well and hence when he saw the mob approaching, he got frightened. They claimed that he did not die of the beatings.Shiv Sena leader Mahesh Kumar Ahuja addressed the panchayat and said, “Where Muslims are 10% of the population, there is no trouble. But when the Muslim population increases, problems begin. I request you to have more kids who will join the army and police. Don’t restrict yourself to one or two kids.”Ahuja also blamed Akhlaq’s family of being responsible for the cow slaughter. “Why do they have an issue with a CBI inquiry?” he said.Father of Vinay, another accused in the case, said the issue had been blown out of proportion for mere vote bank politics. “Do Hindus not vote? Do only Muslims vote? This politics of vote bank politics must stop.”The panchayat said they would give an ultimatum of 20 days to government and that their anger would not be quelled. “If the situation remains tense, and the government doesn’t take action, marenge nahi maarenge. (we’ll kill, not die)” said Bhag Singh, who has been the Pradhan for 15 years. VHP leader Surendra Jain had on Sunday visited the village and claimed that the accused had been falsely implicated.Meanwhile, BJP leader Vinay Katiyar supported the demand for registration of an FIR against Akhlaq’s family members and demanded that the compensation given to them be withdrawn.”The question is that cow slaughter had taken place. The report has come and now FIR should be lodged against those involved in cow slaughter. Those who have been locked up in jail should be released. The compensation should be withdrawn. The government should take back the three houses given to them,” the BJP leader said.

PM Modi has boosted India’s image, ‘stupendous’ work being done under his leadership: Ram Vilas Paswan

Union Minister and LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan on Saturday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has boosted India’s image on the global stage and “stupendous” work is being done under his leadership for development of the country.Paswan heaped praise on Modi for his energetic style of working. “Modi means work and work means Modi,” Paswan, who is on a visit to Maharashtra as part of the NDA government’s public outreach programme, said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The union minister, who today addressed a public rally at Kolhapur, around 375km from here, as part of the programme, told PTI that the “image of India in the world has got a boost after this government came to power.””Stupendous” work is being done under Modi’s leadership for development of the country, he said.”Modiji has boosted image of the country around the world as can be seen from the overwhelming response to his foreign trips.”This is the golden era for Indian economy. It is the government’s policy to empower the poor, farmers and youth,” said Paswan, whose party is a key constituent of the BJP-led government at the Centre.Social welfare schemes like the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana and Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojna have ushered in a change in the lives of common man, Paswan said.The NDA government, which last month completed two years in office, is encouraging Dalits and women to become entrepreneurs and providing necessary financial assistance in this regard, he said.This is a revolutionary step, the Minister added.The Union Food Minister said there has been a saving of Rs 1,0000 crore through a campaign against bogus ration cards.”Our ministry detected 1.62 crore bogus ration cards.” After the Modi government came to power, the quantum of finances to states and revenue sharing has increased, he said.

PM Modi chairs meeting on drought and water scarcity in Odisha with CM Patnaik

Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a high level meeting on drought and water scarcity situation in parts of Odisha for which an amount of Rs 600.52 crore has been released under National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF), after adjustments of the state balances. Issues like progress in other agriculture schemes, piped water supply, and banking extension facilities in rural areas also came up for discussion in the meeeting in which Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, senior officials from the government of India and the state were present. Both the Centre and state resolved to work together in the meeting.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The amount of Rs 600.52 crore released is in addition to Rs 560.25 crore released as central share of State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) for 2015-16 to the state. A further amount of Rs. 294.375 crore has been released as first instalment of SDRF for 2016-17, an official release said. Patnaik said that Odisha has completed District Irrigation Plans for all 30 districts, as required under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY).He emphasized the state s commitment to implement the Scheme expeditiously.As part of water conservation efforts, the state has constructed 25,000 farm ponds, 7,000 check dams, 4,000 diversion weirs, 4,000 percolation tanks, 400 water harvesting structures and 350 community tanks.

Gold Monetisation Scheme mobilises 2.8 tonnes so far

New Delhi: The government has so far collected 2.8 tonnes of gold under the Gold Monetisation Scheme (GMS), which has been in force for a little over six months, Parliament was informed today.

“Gold Monetisation Scheme which was announced in the Union Budget 2015-16, was launched on November 5, 2015, and a total of 2.8 tonnes of gold have so far been deposited by 105 depositors under this scheme,” Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.

gold`gold`“Temples and trusts have so far deposited a total of 1,512 kilograms of gold under the scheme.”

The scheme is intended to mobilise idle gold held by households and institutions of the country and facilitate its use for productive purposes, and in the long run, reduce the country’s reliance on the import of gold.

The scheme, which did not pick up initially, was fine-tuned to make it more attractive and convenient to encourage entities holding idle gold to come on board.

Currently, there are 46 assaying and hallmarking centres that are qualified to act as collection and purity testing centres (CPTCs) for handling gold under GMS.

India imports about 1,000 tonnes of gold every year and the precious metal is the second-highest component of the import bill after crude oil. An estimated 20,000 tonnes of gold are lying with households and temples.

Replying to a separate query, the minister said that till April 20, 2016, 21.61 crore accounts have been opened under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), of which 9.62 crore accounts are Aadhaar-seeded.

PM Modi sounds poll bugle in east UP, launches free LPG connection for BPL families

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday virtually sounded the bugle for its “Mission UP” with a visit to Ballia, home town of former PM Chandrashekhar, in remote eastern UP. Modi called himself “mazdoor number 1” as he launched the “Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana” on labour day or May Day. The Rs 8000-crore project involves distribution of free LPG connections to a whopping five crore BPL families in next three years. Modi’s Sunday visit is seen as crucial as UP elections are due in less than a year, and east UP accounts for the largest chunk of 103 seats in the 403-strong UP Assembly. Of the 36, Lok Sabha seats in this region, the BJP won 35 in 2014, except for Azamgarh, which Mulayam Singh Yadav won. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Modi slammed the successive state governments, pointing out that despite that several former PMs hailed from UP, the state had not seen any growth and had remained plagued by poverty. Modi said, “UP gave several PM but number of poor in UP has only increased…There are faults in policy for poor in UP…Poor have always begged before UP govt…They have broken the confidence of poor in UP.” Modi was at pains to explain that his visit to Ballia was not to sound the poll bugle for UP elections scheduled for next year. He asserted that development of UP was his priority. “Some people are writing that Modi has come to sound the bugle for the UP elections. But they should know that it is the people who sound the bugle. I am here to work for development and for the welfare of the poor,” he said.”Thousands of crores will be spent on this Ujjwala scheme. Earlier governments did not do anything for development of UP and we are putting in more funds than any government has pumped for UP’s development,” Modi said. BJP’s UP in-charge Om Mathur, who was present on the occasion, expressed confidence of his party repeating the 2014 Lok Sabha charismatic show in 2017 assembly elections as well. “We are sounding the party’s poll bugle from here and every big scheme launched by PM Modi is done keeping UP in mind. Such schemes benefit UP the most and we will definitely get political benefit of such big schemes. We will win in UP polls,” said a confident Om Mathur.The PM launched the national scheme on Labour Day in the presence of Governor Ram Naik, Union Ministers Dharmendra Pradhan, Kalraj Mishra, Manoj Sinha and UP BJP chief Keshav Maurya and BJP MP from Ballia, Bharat Singh.UP CM Akhilesh Yadav chose to give the event a miss. He, however, sent his Cabinet Minister Ram Gobind Chowdhary to attend the event. PM reaches out to Nishads with e-boats Accusing the erstwhile Congress governments of pursuing “vote bank politics”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today took potshots at Nehru-Gandhi family and reached out to the numerically significant Nishad community in Uttar Pradesh as he launched solar-powered boats for plying on river Ganga. “You have already seen how many schemes are named after one family. We also felt tempted to name the project after those who belonged to us. But this Modi is made of a different stuff. I named it Naavik (boatman). I did not name it after any of my family members or any leader. I have given a name, which gives immortality to the fishermen community,” Modi said.

‘Pro-poor’ PM Modi launches eco-friendly boats in Varanasi

Asserting that a finally a pro-poor government is in power after several successive pro-rich governments, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said the launch of environment friendly E-boats would empower the economically weaker section of boat operators of Varanasi.In his address after launching solar powered E-boat, Prime Minister Modi said that his government is empowering the poor so that they can battle poverty and enjoy a better future. “This government is for those who have no support,” said Prime Minister Modi.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Previous government ignored the agony of the poor and only paid heed to the grievances of the rich but we are different. Several elections have been conducted and different parties have won but nobody has paid any attention to the fact that the poor is becoming poorer,” he added.Prime Minister Modi further highlighted his ambitious banking schemes for the poor ‘Jan Dhan Yojana’, ‘Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana’ and said that his government does not make schemes to strengthen vote banks, but to strengthen the poor. “Schemes that strengthen people are more important than the schemes that strengthen vote banks,” he said.”Through Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana, we asked banks to give loans without guarantee as this country is for poor, banks are for poor,” he added.Earlier, Prime Minister Modi took a ride in an e-boat at Varanasi’s Assi Ghat. These E-boats will not only reduce pollution, but will also bring down the operational costs, thereby enabling higher incomes for those who earn their livelihoods through such boats on the River Ganga. During a hectic day in his Lok Sabha constituency, Prime Minister Modi also took a ride in an e-rickshaw at a function in Varanasi’s DLW ground, where he later distributed 1,000 such rickshaws to the people.The Prime Minister even met prominent citizens of the city at the guest house of Diesel Locomotive Works (DLW) and launched the Pradhan Mantri Ujjawala Yojna (PMUY) at Ballia. At the launch of PMUY, the Prime Minister said that he chose Balia to launch the scheme because the number of LPG’s connections in Uttar Pradesh is lowest in this district.

Farmers may soon get insurance cover for crop damage caused by elephants

Farmers may soon get insurance cover for crop damages caused by elephant raids and migration under Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana. The Union environment ministry is in talks with the agriculture ministry on the issue, and is expected to soon move an official proposal on the issue. Union environment, forest and climate change minister Prakash Javadekar has agreed to the proposal in-principle, senior officials from the ministry said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana provides for insurance cover against crop loss caused by natural calamities. Farmers have to pay 2% premium for all Kharif crops and 1.5% for all Rabi crops while in the case of annual commercial and horticultural crops, 5% premium has to be paid.According to the last official estimation study, there are more than 30,000 elephants in the country across 16 states with high concentration in north-eastern states and southern states. Elephants cover large distances in herds and they raid croplands for food or cross through them during migrations, causing major crop damages and financial losses to farmers.Obstruction of the natural migratory path of elephants, fragmentation of elephant corridors due to human interference and lack of legal protection for elephant corridors are some of the chief causes of elephants raiding crops or entering habitation, ministry officials said.”Crop raiding by elephants happens frequently in north-eastern states, eastern states and southern states. From forested areas, elephants are known to migrate long distances through human habitations and croplands. This often happens at night and thus curbing crop damage is extremely difficult,” said a senior official from environment ministry.As per official data, in 2014-15 alone, Rs 34.5 crore worth compensation was paid for crop damages due to elephants by Centre and State agencies. In 2013-14 and 2012-13 the compensation paid was Rs30 crore and Rs34 crore respectively. Apart from the crop damages, human-elephant conflict also claims nearly 400 people and more than 100 elephants each year.The central-eastern landscape sees some of the worst cases of crop damages and human-elephant conflict across Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal. According to environment ministry data, Odisha sees average crop damage of 14,097 acres, Chhattisgarh has sees 12,230 acres of average crop damage per year while in West Bengal it is 2500-3000 acres of average crop damage per year.

Uttar Pradesh: Farmers, Samajwadi Party to oppose PM Modi’s visit; local outfit to fly black kites

After Samajwadi Party, a group of farmers and a local outfit on Friday said they will oppose Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the district on May 1.The farmers alleged that their crops have been damaged due to preparations for the visit in Maldepur adjacent to the Lucknow-Ballia National Highway where the Prime Minister is scheduled to launch Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana to provide LPG connections to women below poverty line.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Agitated farmers on Thursday staged a protest demanding compensation for damage to crops. They were joined by Puvanchal Peoples Party (PPP), a local outfit, which announced that they will too oppose Modi’s visit.Gram Pradhan Vinod Paswan alleged that without the consent of land owners, works were carried out on the land and crops were damaged.They alleged that during Lok Sabha elections, Modi’s public meeting was held at the same place and farmers were promised compensation, which has not yet been fulfilled.The PPP has announced that they will fly black kites to oppose Modi’s visit.”Purvanchal is facing the problem of backwardness, unemployment and hunger, and BJP, which has won all the seats of this area barring Azamgarh, has not done anything to address these problems,” PPP chief Anup Pandey said.”This visit of the Prime Minister is aimed at garnering votes during the coming Assembly elections in the state and has got nothing to do with the plight of people in this region,” he alleged.Meanwhile, local Samajwadi Party leaders have also decided to oppose Modi’s visit over Centre’s alleged apathy towards the development of the district.A delegation of SP leaders, including Ambika Chowdhury and Narad Rai, on Sunday handed over a memorandum to district administration, demanding establishment of AIIMS and other developmental projects.”The district has been ignored by the Centre. With the PM’s visit, we haven’t got any positive indication for start of any developmental project, which is why we are protesting his visit,” the memorandum said.BJP MP Yogi Adityanath has, however, termed the protest as an act of “foolishness” and said the Prime Minister is coming here to launch a scheme related to free distribution of LPG connections to poor.”May God give them (SP leaders) good sense so that they can understand what PM is doing,” he said earlier this week.

Civil Services Day: Energy of 125 crore Indians will take nation ahead, all should be agents of change: PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday honoured civil servants for excellence in implementing government’s key projects in New Delhi on the occasion of Civil Services Day.The Prime Minister’s awards for excellence in public administration have been instituted with a view to acknowledge, recognise and reward the extraordinary and innovative work done by officers of the Central and State Governments for the welfare of common citizen. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”It is important to create trust among people, in all districts of the nation. We should work to overcome all obstacles and create an atmosphere where everyone can contribute. The energy of 125 crore Indians will take the nation ahead,” the PM said at the event.Stressing that engaging with civil society is very important, PM Modi said, “Only being an administrator and controller is not enough. Everybody, at every level, has to be an agent of change. What you are doing is not a ‘job’, it is a service. He also encouraged civil servants to experiment in order to bring in changes in the system. This time, a new category of excellence in implementing priority programmes has been added to the Prime Minister’s awards. It includes the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna, Swachh Bharat Mission, Swachh Vidyalaya and Soil Health Card Scheme.A total of ten districts will be awarded this year under the four Priority Programmes.These awards will be given in three Groups – the first group consists of eight North-Eastern States and the three Hill States of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.The remaining 18 States constitute the second Group while the third Group comprises of the seven Union Territories.

Maharashtra: Cheating case against developer of Maple Group for ‘misleading’ ad of cheap housing scheme

Taking suo-moto action in the city- based Maple Group’s “misleading” newspaper advertisements of a cheap housing scheme, police on Tuesday registered a case of cheating against three senior executives of the construction firm and other staff members.The Maple Group had recently published advertisements to promote its scheme promising a one-bedroom-hall kitchen flat for just Rs 5,00,000 on the outskirts of Pune.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”After the state government issued a notice to the Maple Group, we had also shot off a letter to the developer and sought credentials of the project. However, we did not get any reply, which prompted us to lodge a complaint against the group suo-moto,” said Tushar Doshi, Deputy Commissioner of police.The case has been registered under 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 417 (cheating), 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy) and 34 (common intention) of IPC against group’s CMD Sachin Agarwal, MD Navin Agarwal, Sales Manager Priyanka Agarwal and other officials.Doshi said that in their probe so far, they have found that the advertisements, carrying pictures of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Pune Guardian Minister Girish Bapat in newspaper advertisement while announcing their housing project titled ‘Maharashtra Housing Day’ were “misleading and false” in nature.”Since, the scheme looked fishy, we decided to take suo- moto action in this connection and a case was today registered in this regard,” he said.The complaint, filed at Shivajinagar police station, said, “Through the misleading advertisement in the newspapers, the suspects tried to cheat people by promising apartments at Rs 5 lakh and collected non refundable amount.” Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) and Mission Director of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) have already issued a notice to the group and asked them to withdraw the controversial advertisements, stop collection of money from people and refund it to the people from whom the money has been collected.The advertisements gave an impression that it was a part of Pradhan Mantri Aawas Yojana. However, the state government yesterday clarified that Maple Group’s project was not linked in any manner with the Central or state government schemes.

Probe ordered into private housing ad with Maharashtra minister Girish Bapat’s pic

Maharashtra Minister Girish Bapat on Monday sought to distance himself from the recently launched controversial low-cost housing scheme, advertised by a city-based builder as a government project with the former’s endorsement and ordered a Collector-level inquiry into it.The photograph of Bapat, the Guardian Minister of Pune, appeared in the prominently-displayed advertisements circulated by the firm Maple, which called upon people to register their names for ownership of homes by May 1, the Maharashtra Day, promising one bedroom flats for Rs 5 lakh on the outskirts of Pune.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Speaking to PTI on Monday, Bapat said he had written to the firm as to how his photograph and name was used in the project advertisement without his consent.”Pune District Collector has been directed to conduct an inquiry into the episode and the report would be submitted to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, whose photograph has also appeared in the misrepresented advertisement,” he said.The minister also clarified that the project had no approval from Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA), the nodal agency sanctioning government housing projects.”I have asked concerned authorities to ensure that money paid by common people for the scheme should be returned to them,” Bapat said.The firm advertised the project as ‘Maharashtra Housing Day’, giving the impression that it was part of the Pradhan Mantri Aavas Yojana, implemented through the state government agencies.

Maharashtra: Hologram and barcode compulsory on liquor bottles

Maharashtra government on Monday made it mandatory to have a ‘track and trace’ mechanism, and hologram on liquor bottles to ensure the stuff inside is genuine.In order to know if the liquor bottle is genuine or fake, all one will need is a barcode scan from mobile phone. The decision was taken at a meeting of the state cabinet here, chaired by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.To root out the menace of spurious liquor, the state Excise department proposed to make it mandatory for all liquor bottles to carry a hologram and barcode with embedded covert and overt features. This will enable a “track and trace mechanism”, which will follow the journey of the beverage from the manufacturer to the final point of sale and also reveal its authenticity to consumers and officials, an official said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Retailers will have to stock special lenses so that consumers can read the covert security features on the hologram, invisible to the naked eye, and thus verify the brew’s authenticity. The hologram cannot be replicated or reused and will also reveal if the liquor is duty-evaded or smuggled, he added.Scanning the barcode will enable consumers to know when and where the liquor was manufactured and when it was sent from the distillery to the wholesaler and further to the retailer and if it is an original or a fake, he said. The move is expected to eliminate duplicate and spurious liquor.Maharashtra Cabinet also decided to implement ‘Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna’, new crop insurance scheme in the state to boost farming sector. There will be uniform premium of 2 per cent for all Kharif crops and 1.5 per cent for all Rabi crops, and five per cent in case of annual commercial and horticultural crops.The use of technologies like smart phone, remote sensing will be encouraged in this scheme to reduce the delays on settlement of claims.

Tamil Nadu Elections 2016: AIADMK, DMK ‘fooling people’, says BJP

BJP on Sunday accused the ruling AIADMK government and DMK of doing “petty politics”, saying both the Dravidian parties presented “corruption full bad governance” and were fooling people while Prime Minister Narendra Modi has presented “corruption free good governance.” “Modiji has presented corruption free good governance but AIADMK and DMK has presented in Tamil Nadu, a corruption full bad governance. They are doing petty politics and fooling voters,” Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters here.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”AIADMK and DMK are playing smart politics, smart games here,” he said. Flaying the AIADMK government for allegedly pasting ‘amma’ stickers on a centrally sponsored scheme, Javadekar, also BJP election in-charge for Tamil Nadu, said, “in giving free rice to poor, 90 per cent is central government subsidy. 10 per cent is what state government gives. But they are putting label and calling it as Amma Free Arisi (Rice) scheme. What we are saying at least call it as Pradhan Mantri Arisi.” “Poor people get Amma Arisi free of cost that is 20 kilos under free rice scheme. What is the proof of Amma free Arisi?…Central government gives Rs 32 where as Amma (Jayalalithaa) gives Rs three and that is labelled and stickers are pasted as Amma Arisi (rice)..This kind of politics they are playing.” “It is not Amma Arisi. It is Modi Arisi. We can say it as Pradhan Mantri Arisi. We are not fond of names. But who is giving what and it must be named together…they are fooling people,” Javadekar said.Claiming that coconut growers in Tamil Nadu were not given government subsidy, he said, “I met coconut growers here and they are suffering…They are not given any subsidy. They are not allowed to tap coconut for making herbal drink.” “Government does not want poor to take healthy drink but only TASMAC (state run liquor outlets) liquor. That is what they are interested in because it is their business,” he charged.For importing palmolein from Malaysia, Javadekar claimed the state government was giving subsidy to Malaysian farmers. “…You are not helping your own farmers. Why cannot you give subsidy on coconut oil. If you give subsidy on coconut oil, poor farmers growing coconut will survive and poor person will be happy to use coconut oil than palmolein for cooking.” “So you get votes from Malaysia not from Tamil Nadu farmers,” he said.

India links $20 bn oil and gas investment in Iran to favourable terms

Stepping up its energy ties with Iran, India has lined up $20 billion as investment in oil and gas as well as petrochemical and fertiliser projects in the Persian Gulf country subject to provision of concessional rights.

Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, on a two-day visit to Tehran from April 9, also discussed with his Iranian counterpart the repayment of nearly $6.5 billion that Indian refiners owe to Iran, but there is no agreement yet on rights to develop Farzad-B gas field in the Persian Gulf discovered by OVL.

Representaional image. AFPRepresentaional image. AFP

Representaional image. AFP

The minister informed the Iranian side that Indian companies could invest up to $20 billion and are interested in setting up petrochemical and fertiliser plants, including those in Chabahar SEZ, either through a joint venture between Indian and Iranian public sector companies or with private sector partners.

“In this regard, he requested Iran to allocate appropriate and adequate land in the SEZ. He also requested the Iranian side for favourable treatment in the pricing of gas for India and supply of rich gas at competitive price on long-term basis for the life of joint venture projects Indian companies are interested in setting up,” an official statement read.

Pradhan said India did a fine balancing act after Prime Minister’s visit to Saudia Arabia earlier this month.

Accompanied by ONGC Videsh MD Narendra K Verma and Indian Oil Corp (IOC) Chairman B Ashok, Pradhan sought to engage with the leadership of the oil-rich nation that has stepped out of international sanctions.

This was the first visit by an Indian minister since the US and other western powers lifted sanctions against Iran in January.

Within days, Chinese President Xi Jinping travelled to Tehran, signing 17 accords and agreeing to increase bilateral trade by more than ten-fold to $ 600 billion in the next decade.

Keen not to rub Saudi Arabia the wrong way — China’s largest oil supplier — Xi visited Riyadh and Egypt before heading to Tehran.

“Pradhan had meetings with Minister of Petroleum Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, Senior Advisor to President of Iran on Free Trade Zones Akbar Torkan and Governor of Iranian Central Bank Dr Valliolah Seif,” the statement said.

The two nations, it said, discussed developments regarding Farzad-B gas field and expressed confidence in concluding an agreement at the earliest.

“The issue relating to payment of dues by Indian refineries to Iran towards purchase of crude oil was also discussed. Pradhan conveyed that India is committed towards making payments as and when banking channels, acceptable to both sides, are available,” the statement added.

He said competitive gas pricing is crucial in making the projects attractive for prospective investors. He also expressed India’s interest in setting up an LNG plant and a gas cracker in the Chabahar port.

New Delhi is looking to increase engagement with the sanction-free Iran by raising oil imports and possible shipments of natural gas. It also wants rights to develop Farzad-B gas field in the Persian Gulf discovered by OVL.

Sources, however, said a deal for field was not signed during Pradhan’s visit as Iranian Parliament, Majlis, is yet to approve new Iran Petroleum Contract (IPC) under which the Farzad-B field is to be given to the OVL-led consortium.

IPC ends two-decade old buyback system that prevented foreign companies from booking reserves or taking equity stakes in Iranian companies. Under some circumstances, the new model allows reserves to be booked, but foreign companies would still not own oil fields.

While previously foreign firms were paid a fixed fee for discovering and bringing to production an oil and gas field, the new model raises their profit by grading the fee based on the risk of the fields, allows contracts to last for up to 25 years and no ceiling on capital expenditure.

Foreign firms are to be paid a fee per barrel and they will also be entitled to an increase in profits in the face of dramatic oil price fluctuations.

Indian firms have so far shied away from investing in Iran for the fear of being sanctioned by the US and Europe. The same was deterring New Delhi from claiming rights to invest nearly USD 7 billion in the biggest gas discovery ever made by an Indian firm abroad.

But after the lifting of sanctions, India is making a renewed pitch for rights to develop 12.8 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves OVL had found in 2008.

Pradhan also conveyed to the Iranian side that both countries must expand the basket of oil and gas trade.

He expressed India’s interest in importing LPG from Iran and said companies from both sides could discuss on setting up an extraction plant in Chabahar, if required. Both sides agreed to continue examining various means of evacuation of gas such as LNG, including through the proposed Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline.

Pradhan visited Chabahar Free Trade Zone and Port for a site visit and discussed the facilities and incentives which could be offered to Indian companies.

The visit came 9 years after the previous visit by an Indian minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas. It was the first visit of an Indian minister to Iran after sanctions were lifted this January.


PM Modi to launch Stand up India scheme for loans to SC/STs, women on April 5

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on Tuesday launch the ‘Stand up India’ scheme under which banks will give loans of up to Rs 1 crore to SC/ST and women entrepreneurs.

“Prime Minister will be launching the Stand Up India scheme and a web portal for the scheme on April 5, at Noida,” a finance ministry statement said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. REUTERS

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. REUTERS

The event would be attended by Governor, Uttar Pradesh, Union Finance Minister, Union Minister for Culture and Tourism and Union Minister of State for Finance, among others.

The ‘Stand up India Scheme’ is aimed at promoting entrepreneurship among Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes and women by giving loans in the range of Rs 10 lakh to Rs 1 crore for setting up a new enterprise.

“The scheme is expected to benefit large number of such entrepreneurs, as it is intended to facilitate at least two such projects per bank branch on an average one for each category of entrepreneur,” the statement added.

SC/ST and women entrepreneurs who avail loan would be given a RuPay Debit Card for withdrawal, besides comprehensive support like pre-loan training, facilitating loan, factoring and marketing.

There would be a Rs 10,000 crore refinance window through Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) and the National Credit Guarantee Trustee Company Ltd (NCGTC) will create a corpus of Rs 5,000 crore.

The government will create a web portal for online registration and support services and also prepare a credit history of borrowers.

“The intent of the proposal is to leverage the institutional credit structure to reach out to these under-served sectors of the population by facilitating bank loans in the non-farm sector set up by such SC, ST and women borrowers,” the statement said.

During the launch, 5,100 e-rickshaws would be distributed by Bhartiya Micro Credit (BMC) under the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojna scheme.

In addition, the recipients will also be covered under Pradhan Matri Jan Dhan Yojna, Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Jivan Jyoti Yojana, Atal Pension Yojana and eight other significant schemes.

“The idea is to facilitate the upgradation of pedal rickshaw pullers into e-rickshaw owners and help create threefold increment in their income. Credit for all these facilities are being provided under Mudra Scheme,” said Vijay Pandey, MD, Bhartiya Micro Credit.

Besides, customers will also be able to book e-rickshaws through Ola mobile app and make online payment via Freecharge, which will be integrated under the Digital India initiative.

SIDBI would engage with the Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and various institutions. The offices of SIDBI and National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) shall be designated Stand Up Connect Centres, the statement said.

Stand up India is among the various financial inclusion and social security schemes introduced by the government.

Under the Jan Dhan Yojana, over 21.3 crore accounts have been opened, while under the Mudra Yojana loans over Rs 1.22 lakh crore has been disbursed.

Current Naxal situation ‘best’ in 15-16 years: Rajnath Singh

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday said the Centre was successful in tackling Naxal-related violence in the country and the present situation was the “best” in over a decade-and-a-half. He also said the Centre was prepared to hold talks with the Naxal outfits if they abjured violence and laid down their arms.”If you compare with previous years, the situation is under control. We have been successful in controlling the problem and will continue with that. The situation today is best in the past 15-16 years…one can see the statistics,” he told reporters here when asked if the Centre has effectively reined in Left Wing Extremism.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”In the past I have said that the government is ready to talk with interested parties, but first they have to leave the path of violence and lay down their weapons,” Singh said.He was responding to a question about the recent Naxal attack in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district which left seven jawans dead on May 30.Regarding the delay in formation of BJP-PDP coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir and whether it does not send out a message of “political instability”, Rajnath said, “forming a coalition government sometimes take time”.”Every coalition has its own compulsions. You have to create consensus. As far as BJP-PDP coalition government is concerned I am confident that it will prove true to the expectations of the people of the state,” he said.To a query that at a time when all political parties were trying to woo Dalits, would the Centre implement reservation in promotion for them, the Union Minister said BJP does not indulge in politics of caste and religion and was working to build a strong India by taking all sections along.On Uttar Pradesh government’s allegation regarding non-cooperation by the Centre in drought-hit Bundelkhand region, he said every state should first discharge its responsibility.”Whatever support is required will be given. It had been done so in the past as well. The Centre has hiked states’ share in central taxes from 32 per cent to 42 per cent, which in itself is a historic step. The allegation of non-cooperation is baseless,” he said.Earlier, at an awareness programme for Pradhan Mantri Fasal Beeema Yojna, he said the government was working for the betterment of farmers and efforts were underway to help them double their income.

PM Narendra Modi seeks speedy integration of land records with Aadhaar

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday called for integration of all land records with Aadhaar at the earliest as he examined the progress of its digitisation, a move aimed at checking fraudulence, among other things, in the registration of land deeds.Chairing his 11th interaction through PRAGATI — the information and communications technology (ICT)-based, multi-modal platform for Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation, the Prime Minister said it is extremely important to ensure the successful implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana. The government had last year initiated a pilot project to develop a modern, comprehensive and transparent Land Records Management System based on the principle of authentication vis -a-vis linking with the Unique Identification Number (Aadhaar). The aim was to implement a conclusive land titling system with title guarantee.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The departments of registration and stamps in various states have already begun Aadhaar-based biometric verification. Jind district in Haryana became the first district in the country to successfully complete the pilot project of linking land records with Aadhaar. Of the total of eight villages selected for the pilot project, two were in Jind.Reviewing the progress of provision of citizen-centric services electronically, the Prime Minister also called for a comprehensive district-wise review of how many services are actually being delivered online. “The Prime Minister asked about mission-mode projects under Digital India. Examining the progress of digitisation of land records, the Prime Minister called for integration of all land records with Aadhaar at the earliest,” an official statement said.

Diversify farming activities, reduce agricultural risk and increase income: PM Modi’s advice to farmers

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday called for raising farm income through diversification in farming activities and urged all stakeholders, including states, to take a resolve to double the income of farmers by 2022.

Addressing farmers at the Krishi Unnati Mela, he said the task of doubling farm income may be challenging but was a worthy objective.

Calling to “raise farm incomes through diversification in farming activities”, he said farmers could also opt for timber plantation along the edges of their fields and begin animal husbandry.

Diversification in farming activity will reduce the risk associated with agriculture, he added.

File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AFPFile photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AFP

File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AFP

Modi said India’s future had to be built on the growth of agriculture and prosperity of its farmers and its villages and the union budget presented last month would have a far-reaching impact on these sectors.

He said the next revolution in Indian agriculture had to be built on technology and modernisation and the eastern part of India had the maximum potential to achieve it.

“The government is working towards this goal,” he said.

Modi said reduction of input costs was the first element towards raising farm incomes and said the Soil Health Card scheme, and the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana were steps in this direction.

Modi also explained the benefits of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, and said it had been evolved after wide ranging consultations. He said the scheme was characterized by minimum premium and maximum security.

On the occasion, the prime minister gave away the Krishi Karman Awards for 2014-15 to states and farmers.

He also launched a mobile app “Kisan Suvidha” for farmers.

The mobile app will provide information to farmers on subjects such as weather, market prices, seeds, fertilisers, pesticides and agriculture machinery.


India, Middle East countries in talks on oil-for-food scheme | Reuters

NEW DELHI India is in talks with some Gulf nations to buy oil to fill its strategic reserves and sell food in return, seeking to use its position as the world’s third-largest oil importer to both secure energy supplies and boost exports.

Indian Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan told reporters the idea was still fluid, but New Delhi had held preliminary conversations with the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Abu Dhabi’s crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, have discussed the issue twice, Pradhan said.

“We are discussing various models,” Pradhan added.

India imports about four-fifths of its oil needs, with bulk of that supplied from the Middle East. A global supply glut has oil-rich countries there struggling to boost sales.

India is also the world’s biggest rice and wheat producer after China and has large stocks of the staples.

Countries in the Middle East import food in large quantities as the region has less arable land and water.

The cost of food imports there could double to $70 billion in 20 years, as climate change hits crop yields and the population rises, an analyst at the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas told the Thomson Reuters Foundation last year.

On Feb. 1, rice stocks at the state-run Food Corporation of India were 16.2 million tonnes, against a target of 7.6 million tonnes. Wheat stocks totaled 20.3 million tonnes, higher than the government-set target of 13.8 million.

“They can buy food from here and store in India or in their countries; and we can buy oil from there and store in our strategic storage,” Pradhan said.

Pradhan said such a deal would help Indian farmers secure a new market for their produce, mainly rice and wheat.

The mechanism envisaged by India will be different from the United Nations-designed oil-for-food programme, in which Iraq was allowed between 1996 and 2003 to sell oil in exchange for goods that met basic humanitarian needs, including food and medicines.

Pradhan said India had offered the UAE a part of its Mangalore strategic reserves to store oil. Under the arrangement being proposed by the Indians, the Gulf state would be allowed to use about a third of that oil for trade, while keeping the rest for India to use as strategic reserves.

India will complete the first phase of its strategic reserve to store 39 million barrels by May and later this year begin work on the second phase which will have a capacity to hold 91.6 million barrels, Pradhan said.

(Additional reporting by Mayank Bhardwaj in NEW DELHI; Editing by MarkPotter)

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

Bureaucrats from Centre and states to get awards for implementation of PM’s pet schemes

Bureaucrats from both the Centre and states will be conferred Prime Minister’s award for excellence in implementing NDA government’s priority programmes like ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’ and ‘Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana’.The awards will be presented to the officers on April 21, observed as Civil Services’ Day, for their contribution to effective implementation of the government’s key initiatives.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The central government usually gives away “Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence in Public Administration” on the Civil Services Day.The award, which carries a citation and cash prize, is to recognise and reward the extraordinary and innovative works done by officers of the central and state governments. All officers of central and state governments, individually or as a group or as organisations are eligible for consideration.However, from this year onwards, the civil servants will get Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence in Implementation of Priority Programme–Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Gramin), Swachh Vidyalaya, Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana and Soil Health Card.Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Jitendra Singh said it is necessary to encourage bureaucrats doing good work as the effective implementation of the government’s key initiatives by them is essential for good governance.”All programmes like Clean India Mission, especially for rural areas, Jan Dhan Yojana for financial inclusion and Clean Schools are very important to ensure welfare of common people and country. That is why bureaucrats are being encouraged to ensure their effective implementation and their good work can be awarded.”Their way of implementing these programmes can also act as guidance for other states and union territories to implement other pro-people measures,” he told PTI.Singh said the government is taking various measures to ensure maximum governance. “We are encouraging bureaucrats to try innovative ideas by use of information technology to ensure that benefits of social welfare schemes and other economic measures reach even poorest of the poor man,” the Minister said.The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Gramin) is to bring about an improvement in the general quality of life in the rural areas, by promoting cleanliness, hygiene and eliminating open defecation in rural areas.Whereas, Swachh Vidyalaya mission is aimed at ensuring separate toilets in every school for boys and girls. The objective of Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana is to provide weaker sections and low income groups access to various financial services like savings bank account, need based credit, remittances facility, insurance and pension.The Soil Health Card scheme is meant to give each farmer the soil nutrient status of his holding and advise him on the dosage of fertilisers, besides information on soil modification for long-term improved soil health.

As it happened: Kanhaiya Kumar in JNU tells Modi to listen rather than talk about ‘Mann Ki Baat’

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JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar reached the Jawaharlal Nehru University premises on Thursday hours after being released from Tihar jail where he was lodged on the charge of sedition, triggering celebrations on the campus that had lately become a venue for vociferous protests.

Students and teachers eagerly awaiting to catch a glimpse of Kanhaiya had gathered at the Ganga Dhaba from where they will take out a victory march to the Administration Block which has become a venue of protest since his arrest on 12 February.

People also queued up outside Kumar’s hostel Brahmaputra with ‘dhols‘ and ‘daflis‘ to accompany him during the march.

Kanhaiya Kumar. PTI

Kanhaiya Kumar. PTI

Meanwhile, two separate meetings of the students union and JNU teachers association were underway to decide the future course of action. Kanhaiya is expected to address the gathering after the march.

However, the university administration maintained the report of the high-level committee has not been submitted to it yet.

“The five-member panel had a deadline till 12 am today. The varsity will take a call based on the recommendations of the panel,” a senior JNU official said.

“Kanhaiya was released from the jail at around 6.30 pm after his bail bond and release orders were properly scrutinised,” Additional IG (Prisons) and Tihar Spokesperson Mukesh Prasad said.

The student leader was greeted with loud cheers by his supporters when he came out of Tihar Jail. Celebrations also erupted on the JNU campus.

A court in New Delhi had ordered the release of JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar from the Tihar jail after he furnished bail bond in the sedition case, a day after he was granted six months’ interim bail by the Delhi High Court.

Kanhaiya, who was in Tihar jail after being remanded to judicial custody in connection with the case, had furnished his bail bond before a magistrate at a makeshift court in a police station in New Delhi.

According to the sources, the magistrate had accepted his bail bond and ordered his release from jail.

Sources had told PTI that he had furnished a personal bond of Rs 10,000 and one surety of the like amount as directed by high court on Wednesday.

A faculty member of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), professor SN Malakar, had stood surety for him.

Kanhaiya was granted interim bail after the high court had observed that FIR lodged in connection with an on-campus event that led to his arrest on sedition charge suggested it “is a case of raising anti-national slogans which do have the effect of threatening national integrity”.

He was arrested on 12 February in the case in which he and others, including two arrested JNU students Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, are accused of raising anti-India slogans during an event organised inside the JNU campus on 9 February.

The two other students who were arrested are presently in judicial custody.

(With inputs from PTI)

Both Left and TMC slam Budget

Picking flaws in the Union Budget 2016-17, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury on Monday said it lacked vision and was full of “hollow promises”.It also burdened commoners by way of “inflationary” indirect taxation, he said. “As with the previous two budgets, this budget of the Modi govt is again full of hollow promises and slogans. The numbers just don’t add up. “FM says Budget is about fulfilling ‘desires & dreams’ but it has no vision. The dead certainty from it is of a shrinking economy,” Yechury said in a series of tweets.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Rajya Sabha member observed that the schemes announced/supported by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the budget were the ones opposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi before elections, adding increasing cess will hurt common man.”Increasing cess hurts the common man, with indirect tax collections proposed to be up by Rs 20,600 cr. Direct tax proposals are down by Rs 1,060 cr. This means more burden on common people as indirect taxes are inflationary. So there will be no expansion in domestic demand,” he stated. Trinamool Congress on Monday dubbed the General Budget 2016-17 as “hopeless,” saying it does not offer any solution to the economic problems. “This budget is not constructive, nor is it creative. It is stereotype and routine. We are left with no option, but to call it a hopeless budget,” TMC, which rules West Bengal, said in a statement here. The party headed by Mamata Banerjee said the budget does not offer any hope for the farmers, downtrodden or even for industry.”There is no hope for industry, no hope for the farmers, no hope for the poor, no hope for the middle class, no hope even for the Sensex,” TMC said, adding “no major tax reforms to benefit the middle class. Lots of big words. No real big solutions.” Taking on Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, TMC said “The FM made an attempt to emphasize on social sector schemes. But the reality is different. Almost 40 social sector schemes have been stopped and states have been burdened for funding new schemes.”While giving an example of the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sevak Yojana, TMC said “Instead of the Centre, which is now funding 100 per cent, it will only fund 60 per cent and the states have to bear 40 per cent. So in West Bengal where Rs 3000 crore was spent, the state would now have to shoulder a burden of Rs 1200 crore. Is this cooperative federalism?” The TMC was also critical of the FDI policy.”We believe in total transparency. Why has the FM not mentioned the details of the changes in the FDI policy in his budget speech? It is shrouded in an annexure and opens up 100 per cent FDI in many sectors. Why can’t the government be transparent?,” it asked.

Railway Budget 2016: Congress says Centre repackaging UPA schemes

Opposition on Thursday accused the NDA government of repackaging the schemes of the UPA regime and cutting down the allocations for schemes for farmers and poors while the ruling side insisted that India has emerged as the bright spot in the global economy.Leading the opposition attack, Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ministers are working under the influence of RSS and there was a huge difference between their policies and intentions.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Speaking on the Motion of Thanks to President’s address, Kharge said the people who surround the Prime Minister won’t let him go too far. Responding to the opposition’s charge, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said “we are proud of RSS” and its capacity, capability and devotion to this nation. He said because of the steps taken by the NDA government, India, according to IMF chief, is now among the few bright spots in global economy and is an island of hope.Responding to Kharge’s charge that eight government schemes are named after Prime Minister, Naidu said the Prime Minister is an institution and that one of the books had mentioned that 618 schemes in the country were named after one family. He said Modi will not the run the country for another 25 years but the institution of Prime Minister will be there.”The people of India gave mandate to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, “he said adding opposition should not obstruct functioning of Parliament or derail the bills. He said India’s reputation in the world has been going up after Modi visited 32 countries in a short period of time.The Prime Minister will also take up the issue of supply of F-16 fighter planes to Pakistan, Naidu said. He was responding to the questions by opposition as to why Modi has not taken up the issue of F-16 fighter planes with US President Barack Obama even though he talks to him.Naidu said India is growing faster than China and has improved its ranking by 12 points in the ease of doing business. Naidu further said the economy has shown significant improvement with inflation coming down, fiscal and current account deficit under control and government announcing host of schemes for the welfare of poor.Refuting the charge that Prime Minister is interfering with the functioning of ministers, he said as head of the government he has the right to advise his ministers. He said unlike the past government “where the Prime Minister presides and ‘Madam’ decides, (Now) Prime Minister presides and decides”.Earlier Kharge said the President’s address had failed to focus on woman, farmers, poor, workers, dalits and adivasis and that there was a need to change the thought process to build a strong and far-sighted India.The Congress leader said the schemes — Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, Swasthya Bima Yojana, Jeevan Jyoti Yojana, Krishi Sinchai Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana — are all repackaged versions of the UPA government’s schemes.”You are trying to divert the attention of the government, this tactics will not work for long,” he said.Kharge said although the government keeps on saying that no work was done by the UPA, its own chief economic advisor had said that proverty reduction has been the fastest between 2005 and 2012. He further said as many as 3 crore people come out of the poverty line in eight years during the UPA rule.Kharge also said that Modi had once criticised the MGNREGA rural employment scheme of the UPA government. Modi was present in the House when Kharge was speaking.”There is a heavy influence of RSS on you. This is fine for BJP and Pracharaks, but not good for the Prime Minister. There are different medicines for different diseases. RSS has never thought about poor,” Kharge said.P Nagarajan (AIADMK) said the central government should provide subsidised food to the poor as was being done by the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa. He also demanded that the Central government should transfer funds directly into the accounts of poor affected by Chennai floods.Nagarajan said center should also expeditously release the funds for construction of houses for poor affected by the floods.

PM Modi to address farmers at Sehore Kisan Kalyan Mela today

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address farmers at a Kisan Kalyan Mela at Sehore in Madhya Pradesh on Thursday, highlighting his Government’s initiatives for the development of the agriculture sector and welfare of farmers.He will also release guidelines for operationalisation of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, a path-breaking scheme for crop insurance, which was approved by the Union Cabinet last month.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The scheme will come into effect from the upcoming Kharif season. It envisages a uniform premium of 2 percent to be paid by farmers for Kharif crops, and 1.5 percent for Rabi crops. The premium for annual commercial and horticultural crops will be 5 percent.There is no upper limit on the Government’s subsidy for this scheme. The provision of capping the premium rate, which existed in earlier schemes, and resulted in low claims being paid to farmers, has been done away with. Farmers will get claims against the full sum insured, without any reduction.The Prime Minister will also distribute soil health cards, and crop insurance settlement claims to select beneficiaries.”Will be in Madhya Pradesh for a special programme- the Kisan Kalyan Mela, where I will interact with my farmer sisters & brothers,” tweeted Prime Minister Modi.”I look forward to releasing guidelines for operationalisation of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, the path breaking crop insurance scheme,” he said.”Will distribute soil health cards & crop insurance settlement claims to some farmers during the programme,” he added.

PM Narendra Modi lashes out at Gandhis for disruption in parliament

Prime Minister Narendra Modi blamed the Gandhi family for disruption in Parliament on Friday during his visit to Assam. He has alleged that they are taking revenge for defeat in Lok Sabha polls. “There is one family which is not ready to let us take decisions,” he said.In his speech, Modi also asked people of Assam to give a chance to BJP. He said that the laws for the welfare of Assamese can become a reality if there is a government in Assam which listens to the Centre.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>PM Modi, in his earlier speech, also batted for a new development model for the north- eastern states to enable the harnessing of the “collective strength” of the region along with the neighbouring countries as part of the Centre’s ‘Act East Policy’.During a visit to Assam, he said that the development of the north-eastern and eastern states of the country is a matter of priority for his government. “There must be a new development model for north-eastern states so that the collective strength of the region along with the neighbouring countries of Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia can be achieved,” Modi said after dedicating the Brahmaputra Cracker Polymer Ltd BCPL) and Numaligarh Refinery Ltd’s wax plant to the nation. “There must be balanced and all-round development of the country. It cannot be that the western part of India progresses, but the eastern and north-eastern parts lag behind. “In that case, the nation’s development will remain incomplete,” he said.The Prime Minister said that the inauguration of the two projects would lead to a ‘Rashtriya Vikas Yatra’ and “bring immense joy to the people of the state as well as to the rest of the country”. “If the then Prime Minister had the opportunity to inaugurate the projects 25 years ago, new industries and employment opportunities would have come up and there would have been all-round development and happiness in the state,” he said.”If the projects had been completed 25 years ago, the second generation of people would have reaped benefits from these units. An entire generation has lost the benefits of these projects,” the Prime Minister said. Modi said his government had evolved a new development model for the north-east and strengthening of the railway infrastructure of the region was the first step in that direction. “Lack of connectivity has hampered the development of the region. Strengthening of the railway infrastructure will connect Assam and the north-east with the rest of the country,” he said. The Prime Minister said in the past, projects were not planned in time and, even after their conception, they were not completed within the stipulated period. “It seems it is my luck to complete all good work and it is my government’s effort to ensure that all incomplete and good projects, irrespective of who began it, are completed within the scheduled time,” he said. “I have taken the initiative and make a special effort to complete stalled projects aimed at the welfare of the people and development of the nation. I talk to the chief secretaries of the states to ensure that pending projects are completed at the earliest,” Modi said. “If India needs to progress, we have to ensure that all projects are completed within the stipulated time so that the nation can develop,” he said.The Prime Minister said that the two projects would help in the setting up of many small factories in Assam and youths in the state should take advantage of the government’s ‘Start- up India, Stand up India’ initiative along with the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana. “Assam’s youth is intelligent and capable and should come forward to set up industries by taking advantage of the incentives under these schemes,” he said.He said that while the importance of the plastic industry is well-known, its production in the country is low. “There is a potential for setting up of plastic industry in the region and youths should come forward to start enterprises in this sector,” he said. Modi said his government was also committed to skill development of the youths of the region to ensure an increase in their earning power. He also said his government was committed to the principle of cooperative federalism and both the Centre and the state government would work together to ensure all-round progress and development.With agency inputs.

Government, BJP to chant farmers, poor, dalit to counter Oppn campaign

During his nearly two-hour meeting with various morchas of the BJP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi underlined the need to take the government’s pro-poor and pro-farmers schemes to the villages.The Prime Minister, who listened most of the time, told the morchas at the meeting on Sunday to involve themselves in creating awareness about social welfare schemes like the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (Prime Minister Crop Insurance Scheme), sources said. He also sounded a note of caution to refrain from making controversial statements.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Modi himself is taking the lead in spreading the message about the crop insurance scheme by holding farmers rallies this month in four states — Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka. Barring Odisha, where he will address the rally in Bargarh on February, the venues in the other states are yet to be finalised, a BJP leader said. The last rally will be in UP on February 28, a day before the presentation of the budget.Facing Opposition allegations of being “anti-farmer” and “pro-corporate”, the BJP views the crop insurance scheme as a “game-changer”. A party leader said it will not only bring the scheme into focus but also galvanise the cadre. The government is targeting at least 50 per cent farmers to join the scheme.The government had come under attack for the changes it proposed in the land acquisition bill, which has been put on the backburner.Meanwhile, Modi, in his recent meetings with his council of ministers, or in speeches at various events has been emphasising on the government’s concern for the poor, dalits and farmers. In his latest “Mann ki baat”, Modi had spoken of the need to get farmers to join the crop insurance scheme.In Chennai on Tuesday, Modi accused the Opposition of instigating the dalits against the government and said his regime was working for the uplift of dalits and downtrodden. He made it clear that there was no question of doing away with reservation for dalits.Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s trips to Hyderabad University after dalit student Rohith Vemula’s suicide was seen by the BJP as an attempt to play politics.As the BJP starts gearing up for the crucial UP election, party chief Amit Shah is expected to go to Bahraich to pay home to Raja Suhaldev, an 11th century king of the Passi community, a dalit sub-caste.

Republic Day 2016: Full text of President Pranab Mukherjee’s powerful address to the nation

On the eve of the 67th Republic Day, President Pranab Mukherjee, addressed the nation. Here’s the full text of his address: 1. On the eve of the sixty-seventh Republic Day of our nation, I extend warm greetings to all of you in India and abroad. I convey my special greetings to members of our Armed Forces, Para-military Forces and Internal Security Forces. I pay my tribute to the brave soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice of their lives in defending India’s territorial integrity and in upholding the rule of law.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2. On twenty-sixth January 1950, our Republic was born. On this day, we gave ourselves the Constitution of India. This day saw the culmination of heroic struggle of an extraordinary generation of leaders who overcame colonialism to establish the world’s largest democracy. They pulled together India’s amazing diversity to build national unity, which has brought us so far. The enduring democratic institutions they established have given us the gift of continuity on the path of progress. India today is a rising power, a country fast emerging as a global leader in science, technology, innovation and start-ups, and whose economic success is the envy of the world.3. The year 2015 has been a year of challenges. During this year, the global economy remained subdued. Unpredictability ruled the commodity markets. Uncertainty marked the institutional responses. In such troubled environment, no one nation could be an oasis of growth. India’s economy also had to face the blowback. Weak investor sentiments led to withdrawal of funds from emerging markets including India putting pressure on the Indian rupee. Our exports suffered. Our manufacturing sector is yet to recover fully.4. In 2015, we were also denied the bounty of nature. While large parts of India were affected by severe drought, other areas reeled under devastating floods. Unusual weather conditions impacted our agricultural production. Rural employment and income levels suffered.5. We can call out these challenges because we are aware of them. There is a great virtue in acknowledging a problem and resolving to address it. India is building and implementing strategies to solve these problems. This year, with an estimated growth rate of 7.3 per cent, India is poised to become the fastest growing large economy. Contraction in global oil prices has helped maintain external sector stability and control domestic prices. Despite occasional setbacks, industrial performance this year has been strong.6. Aadhaar, with its present reach of 96 crore people, is helping in direct transfer of benefits, plugging leakages and improving transparency. Over 19 crore bank accounts opened under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana is the single largest exercise in the world at financial inclusion. The Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana aims to create model villages. The Digital India programme is an effort to bridge the digital divide. The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana targets farmer’s welfare. Increased spending on programmes like MGNREGA is aimed at enhancing employment generation to rejuvenate the rural economy.7. The Make-in-India campaign will boost manufacturing by facilitating easy conduct of business and improving competitiveness of domestic industry. The Start-up India programme will foster innovation and encourage new-age entrepreneurship. The National Skill Development Mission envisages skilling 300 million youth by 2022.8. There will be, amongst us, occasional doubters and baiters. Let us continue to complain; to demand; to rebel. This too is a virtue of democracy. But let us also applaud what our democracy has achieved. With investments in infrastructure, manufacturing, health, education, science and technology, we are positioning ourselves well for achieving a higher growth rate which will in the next ten to fifteen years help us eliminate poverty.9. Reverence for the past is one of the essential ingredients of nationalism. Our finest inheritance, the institutions of democracy, ensure to all citizens justice, equality, and gender and economic equity. When grim instances of violence hit at these established values which are at the core of our nationhood, it is time to take note. We must guard ourselves against the forces of violence, intolerance and unreason.10. For revitalizing the forces of growth, we need reforms and progressive legislation. It is the bounden duty of the law makers to ensure that such legislation is enacted after due discussion and debate. A spirit of accommodation, cooperation and consensus-building should be the preferred mode of decision-making. Delays in decision-making and implementation can only harm the process of development.11. Peace is the primary objective of a rational consciousness as well as our moral universe. It is the foundation of civilization and a necessity for economic progress. And yet, we have never been able to answer a simple question: why does peace remain so elusive? Why has peace been so much more difficult to attain than degenerate conflict?12. As the twentieth century closed down with a remarkable revolution in science and technology, we had some reason for optimism that the twenty-first century would mark an era in which the energies of people and nations would be committed to a rising prosperity that would eliminate, for the first time, the curse of extreme poverty. That optimism has faded in the first fifteen years of this century. There is unprecedented turbulence across vast regions, with alarming increase in regional instabilities. The scourge of terrorism has reshaped war into its most barbaric manifestation. No corner can now consider itself safe from this savage monster.13. Terrorism is inspired by insane objectives, motivated by bottomless depths of hatred, instigated by puppeteers who have invested heavily in havoc through the mass murder of innocents. This is war beyond any doctrine, a cancer which must be operated out with a firm scalpel. There is no good or bad terrorism; it is pure evil.14. Nations will never agree on everything; but the challenge today is existential. Terrorists seek to undermine order by rejecting the very basis of strategic stability, which are recognized borders. If outlaws are able to unravel borders, then we are heading towards an age of chaos. There will be disputes among nations; and, as is well-known, the closer we are to a neighbour the higher the propensity for disputes. There is a civilized way to bridge disagreement; dialogue, ideally, should be a continual engagement. But we cannot discuss peace under a shower of bullets.15. We on our subcontinent have a historic opportunity to become a beacon to the world at a time of great danger. We must attempt to resolve the complex edges of our emotional and geo-political inheritance with our neighbours through a peaceful dialogue, and invest in mutual prosperity by recognizing that human beings are best defined by a humane spirit, and not their worst instincts. Our example can be its own message to a world in anxious need of amity.16. Each of us has the right to lead a healthy, happy and productive life in India. This right has been breached, especially in our cities, where pollution has reached alarming levels. Climate change has acquired real meaning with 2015 turning out to be the warmest year on record. Multiple strategies and action at various levels is necessary. Innovative solutions of urban planning, use of clean energy, and changing the mindsets of the people call for active participation of all stakeholders. Permanence of such changes can be ensured only if people own these changes.17. Love for one’s motherland is the basis of all progress. Education, with its enlightening effect, leads to human progress and prosperity. It helps us develop forces of spirit which can revive lost hopes and ignored values. Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan had said and I quote: “End-product of education should be a free creative man who can battle against historical circumstances and adversities of nature” (unquote). The advent of the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” demands that this free and creative man should also be able to master the velocity of change to absorb disruptions which are getting embedded in the systems and societies. An eco-system that fosters critical thinking and makes teaching intellectually stimulating is necessary. It must inspire scholarship and encourage unfettered respect for knowledge and teachers. It must instill a spirit of reverence towards women that will guide social conduct of an individual throughout his life. It must breed a culture of deep thought and create an environment of contemplation and inner peace. Through an open-minded approach to the wider spectrum of ideas emanating from within, our academic institutions must become world-class. A beginning has already been made with two Indian institutes of higher education finding place in the top two hundred in international rankings.18. The generational change has happened. Youth have moved centre-stage to take charge. March ahead with Tagore’s words from Nutan Yuger Bhore:”CHOLAAY CHOLAAY BAAJBEY JOYER BHEREE -PAAYER BEGEYI POTH KETEY JAAY, KORISH NEY AAR DERI”Move ahead, the roll of drums announce your triumphal march;With feet of glory, you shall cut out your own path;Delay not, delay not, a new age dawns.Thank you.Jai Hind!

Basant Kumar Panda elected BJP’s Odisha unit chief

Senior BJP leader Basant Kumar Panda was on Thursday elected unopposed as the party’s Odisha unit chief. The firebrand leader from western Odisha who is also the BJP legislature party leader in the State Assembly was formally declared elected to the top post as no one else filed nomination for it. Stating that the 54-year-old legislator was the sole candidate for the post, returning officer Rajkishore Das made a formal announcement about Panda’s election as the new party president for Odisha. With Panda emerging as the sole candidate, there is no need for holding election for the post now, he said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Panda, who has been a Sangh Parivar member since long, succeeds Kanak Vardhan Singhdeo. As per the notification for filing of nominations for the post issued by the party yesterday, the filing of papers was held between 9.30 am and 10.30 am. Panda, who represents Nuapada constituency in the State Assembly, had filed three sets of papers signed by 10 proposers.”We will work together to put an end to the dark chapter of BJD’s misrule in the state. Congress will also be countered effectively,” said Panda, who was congratulated by senior party leaders after being elected to the top post.Collective efforts would be made to strengthen the party at the grass-roots level to enable it to come to power in thestate on its own, he said adding BJP would work hard to protect the interests of the poor, farmers and workers. For the supervision of the election, the central party leadership has appointed its national general secretary Saroj Pandey, who was present during the process. Senior BJP leader and in-charge of Odisha, Arun Singh, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and outgoing state BJP chief K V Singhdeo were present there. Pradhan expressed the hope that the party would be strengthened in the state under the leadership of Panda.Senior leader and MLA from Neelagiri Pratap Sarangi said all party leaders and workers would make sincere endeavour to oust Naveen Patnaik government.

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