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Modi speech live: PM rolls out slew of reforms, schemes to benefit rural poor

Dec 31, 2016

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the nation on Saturday, in which he is expected to spell out the roadmap ahead after the expiry of the 50-day period for depositing of demonetised notes. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to address the nation before dawn of the New Year,” sources told PTI.

This will be his second address to the nation since his announcement in a similar address on 8 November to scrap Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes.

While announcing the landmark decision, he had asked the people to give 50 days for rolling it out.

Against this backdrop, the Prime Minister may speak about the roadmap ahead, especially on the steps to ease the cash flow that has been a major problem ever since demonetisation took place.

He may also speak on the steps to deal with the problems the economy faces after the demonetisation.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

The prime minister in his public meetings in the last few weeks has been urging the people to bear with the pain following the government’s decision and that it would start easing gradually once the 50-day period is over.

Modi also accused the Congress leadership of “desperation” in the face of his “tough” demonetisation decision and said it was the first time that a concerted effort was made by the Opposition to “openly” protect the dishonest through disruptions in Parliament.

He also slammed Manmohan Singh, who had described demonetisation as a “monumental mismanagement” and an “organised loot”, and sarcastically said that his predecessor might have been referring to the “unending string of scams” like 2G, CWG and coal block allocation “under his leadership”.

Modi said while the honest will not be harassed, those with black wealth have “only a few days to hide” and will not be spared.

“I pity a few of our opponenets, especially the Congress leadeship, for the desperation they have been exhibiting…Congress leaders are entirely pre-occupied with only one thing – elections.”

“There is nothing political in the demonetisation decision…It was a tough decision taken to clean up our economy and our society. If I were guided by short term electoral politics, I would have never done so,” he told India Today in an interview.

With regard to the washout of the recent Winter session due to disruptions over demonetisation, the Prime Minister said the government tried its best to keep Parliament functioning.

“I was keen to speak in both Houses. Yet, there was a concerted attempt by the Congress to derail the functioning of the Houses rather than have a proper debate. While opposition in Parliament is understandable, this is the first time it is being used to protect the dishonest and that too so openly,” he said.

With inputs from agencies

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 20:00 IST

2016 was gloomy; 2017 may get gloomier: The new normal is bitter and disregards truth

2016 was a gloomy year.

Chaos overwhelmed order and noise trumped good sense all through. Propaganda suffocated truth and opinion rode roughshod over facts. At the end of it India appeared to have finally settled into the new normal.

Welcome to the post-truth age. And goodbye the old world obsessed with morality.

What is the defining feature of the new normal? It has to be obfuscation of and disregard for truth. It rides on the brute power of propaganda and not-so-subtle manipulation of mass opinion. Truth is no more simple black and white; it is imbued with many shades and ambiguities. Innuendos, insinuations and disinformation designed to be malicious and address the lowest common denominator play a role to cloud it.

Representational image.

Representational image.

India was angrier, bitter and more cynical than ever the whole of the year, thanks to the crudity in the air. The hate talk, the unbridled combativeness and expression of acrimony is likely to continue through the next year and beyond. The rise and rise of the emotion-driven, and sometimes irrational, Right is one reason why. The failure of those in the ideological Left and the middle to develop a convincing counter-argument to them is another. But the worst is the inability of the ordinary Indian to keep himself insulated from political developments and study the reality around dispassionately.

The new normal is characterised by low trust and the tendency of players, political and otherwise, to exploit the trust gap through calculated lies and half-truths spread among people. Lies are what remained in full play in 2016. Every allegation against every political leader in the media and elsewhere was falsehood. The choice of the word ‘lie’ is deliberate. Over the last two-and-half years we have been hearing of scandals and involvement of political biggies in them. Television channels produce irrefutable proof every other day. How come none of the accused is in jail so far? How come Robert Vadra‘s land deals make it to headlines every couple of months yet he is not even in the court once? Obviously, we were being fed untruth all along or someone wanted to keep us distracted from our many existential problems.

The worst part is, we as a people have started enjoying the lies, elevated them to some kind of mass entertainment. The spicier it is the better. Obviously, we don’t give a damn. We have made truth irrelevant to our lives and facts redundant.

In the process we have diminished ourselves morally. In the post-truth age morality, private, public and institutional has taken a dip. It was evident the way we bought propaganda peddled by politicians on both sides of the ideological divide with a conniving media with unrelenting relish and happily became part of their political wars. We forgot that the idea of India was bigger than any ideology or leader. It is unlikely to change anytime soon.

The diminishing of institutions of public trust is a dimension of the new normal. So when the judiciary passes a verdict it is no more accepted as sacrosanct; when the Army says it conducted surgical strikes there are as many doubters as believers and when the Reserve Bank of India offers facts on demonetisation, there is suspicion. The police no more inspires respect. Government, run by politicians as they are, has always been low on credibility. How does a democracy function when all its institutions lack vigour and the social capital called trust? We were too busy asserting ourselves over others to notice the damage to the institutions and with them the sense of order.

Yes, 2016 was gloomy. 2017 promises to be no better.

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

Fact vs Fiction: Here’s a comprehensive debunking of panic-creating rumours on demonetization

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>One mega announcement, 9 days, and thousands of hours spent waiting in a gigantic queue later, the demonetization dust seemed to have settled a bit. And just when the Indian population was slowly and gradually accepting the inconvenience for that amorphous idea of the ‘greater good’, social media happened.While the common man was struggling to keep up with his demonetized currency notes, trying to exchange/deposit/withdraw – whatever seemed possible at the time – some gossip mongers were going around painting the town red with baseless rumours. These rumours soon gained a life of their own, metastasizing through various messaging and social media platforms, creating unprecedented panic among citizens.Some were more sinister than others. For example, a memo from the All India Motor Transport Congress that warned of distress in the transport sector started being shared as a call for a national strike by transporters that would cripple all distribution networks, particularly vegetables, fruit, milk, and similar essential goods. Another set off panic buying – and opportunistic profiteering – when it claimed that salt and sugar prices had risen multiple times their regular price. This, of course, led to long lines at kirana stores, some of whom decided to make the most of the opportunity. But as with all things, it is critical to separate the fact from fiction. Because no, your new lilac coloured Rs 2,000 currency note is not going to bleed pink or purple, and neither does it have a nano GPS chip to track in which part of the world it’ll be spent. DNA busts some more rumours and myths about the demonetization as well as the new currency note. File photo of traders holding packets of edible salt (Right) and a screen grab showing a Rs 2,000 note bleeding colour (left)Rumour: The new Rs 2,000 note is equipped with a trackable nano chip.Truth: The Reserve Bank of India dismissed these rumours on November 16, 2016. Alpana Killawala, spokesperson for the central bank, said: “Such a technology does not exist at the moment in the world, then how can we introduce such a feature?”Rumour: Many netizens took to Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp forwarding messages and posts about a nation-wide strike by the transport industry because of demonetization.Truth: Ministry of Road Transport and Highways clarified in a tweet dated November 12, 2016, saying, “No call for strike by AIMTC. Please do not believe in rumours.”Rumour: Some decided to spread a rumour about how the salt prices have increased due to demonetization, again largely via digital platforms.Truth: Nirmala Sitharaman, Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry tweeted on November 11, 2016: “No shortage in the supply of edible salt. Baseless rumours being spread. Salt Commissioner & Jt. Secretary Shri Raghavendra monitoring the situation. Asst. Salt Commissioners reporting from the field. No shortage. Monitoring will be on-going. Feedback maybe given #mociseva”Another clarification was issued by Shaktikanta Das, Economic Affairs Secretary, on November 15, 2016. “Have enough stock of salts; no reason for temporary surge in price or shortage; supply of essential commodities being closely monitored,” he said.On November 11, 2016, Delhi Police also issued an advisory for the same, stating, “Reports have been received regarding spread of rumours about shortage of salt and other essential food items in Delhi and adjoining states. These rumours are false and baseless. Citizens are advised to not fall for such rumours and discourage their spread. Action as per law will be taken against rumour mongers found indulging in such mischievous acts.”Rumour: After the demonetization of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, the Prime Minister will again address the nation and declare Rs 50 and Rs 100 currency notes as demonetized.Truth: Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) tweeted on November 16, 2016, saying, “This is baseless and there is no intention of cancelling the legal tender status of any other denomination of notes.” Rumour: The colour is rubbing off the new Rs 2,000 note and it is of poor quality.Truth: MIB, in a series of myth busting posts on Twitter on November 16, 2016, tweeted: “Currency notes have a security feature called intaglio printing. The first test for a genuine currency note is to rub it with a cloth which creates a turbo-electric effect, transferring the ink colour onto the cloth.” Rumour: Reports of violence outside banks and ATMsTruth: Sanjay Beniwal, Special Commissioner of Police (Operations) said, “We received over 4,000 calls today (before 6pm on November 12, 2016). There were sporadic incidents of violence reported from the city but there were no reports of any grievous injury.”Simultaneously, was another clarification was issued by Delhi Police on the same issue. “Delhi Police received a large number of PCR calls mostly informing about long queues, long wait, crowding, etc. at banks/ATMs.Adequate police arrangements in this regard were already in place at banks/ATMs. All these PCR calls were attended to promptly. It is clarified that almost none of these calls were regarding violence. In fact, there was only one instance of minor scuffle at a bank branch in Sabzi Mandi area of North Delhi.”Rumour: Certain corporates and party members were in the know.Truth: Another MIB tweet clarified: “Complete secrecy was maintained and there was no leakage of the government’s intention in any section.”Rumour: Many Indians believe that the end does not justify the means, referring to the inconvenience caused because of a sudden decision to discontinue the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes. Since Monday (November 9, 2016) morning, 12 hours after the announcement was made by the Prime Minister, people have been queuing up in front of banks and the ATMs to withdraw cash and get as many currency notes of Rs 100 as possible. Truth: “The parallel economy corrodes and eats into the vitals of the currency’s economy adversely affecting the poor and middle classes more than others,” MIB said in a statement.Rumour: Those dealing in black money will find other ways of doing so, therefore the demonetization drive is ultimately futile.Truth: MIB’s tweet said, “Necessary watch is being maintained by enforcement apart from amendments in the Benami Transactions Act, 1988 and information sharing agreements done with the foreign governments. Rumour: The next step to curtail dealings in black money will involve sealing bank lockers and freezing jewellery. Truth: MIB categorically rubbished such rumours. “This is baseless. There is no such proposal for sealing bank lockers or freezing jewellery,” it tweeted. Rumour: In Delhi, another very interesting rumour had made the rounds on social media. Individuals claimed that money could be withdrawn from RBI after getting the official stamp from the area DCP.Truth: Delhi Police had to issue an advisory to rubbish such rumours, saying “These rumours are false and baseless. It is advised that citizens should disregard such rumours. They are being spread by mischievous elements.Action as per law is being taken against such rumour mongering. Citizens should only rely and act upon information provided by authentic and verified government websites and press releases.Most importantly, though, those spreading such rumours are also at risk of facing legal action. Delhi Police issued an advisory on November 11, 2016, for such mischievous elements. “Those mischievous elements spreading baseless rumours are warned that their actions may lead to prosecution under Section 153 & 505 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) along with relevant sections of Information Technology Act. All citizens are advised to disregard such rumours and false information being spread over social media. Citizens are also advised to report to the police about any individual engaged in spreading rumours and causing fear & alarm in the general public.

Mathura violence: SP’s family demands CBI probe

The family members of City SP Mukul Dwivedi, killed during the clashes between police and encroachers in Mathura, on Saturday demanded that a CBI probe be ordered into the incident. Without naming anybody, Archana Dwivedi, wife of the City SP, said her husband was made a “scapegoat” and demanded CBI probe into the incident. “When there were para military forces, who are trained to deal with this kind of violence, stationed in Mathura then why senior district police officials sent newly-recruited policemen to a guerilla war,” she asked. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Archana said, “It was like playing with their lives” and alleged that other police personnel escaped from the spot leaving her husband behind. She demanded a probe by CBI into the incident. Seconding her demand, Praful Dwivedi, younger brother of the SP, said, “Truth will not come out if any state-level agency probes the incident, country’s largest and independent investigation agency like CBI should be handed over the matter.”

Free speech is no joke; defamation must be dealt with sternly

That our politicians would seek shelter under Article 19 of the Constitution, which allows freedom of speech and expression to Indian citizens, to protect their right to defame others is curious indeed. By upholding the validity of sections 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code which criminalise defamation, Supreme Court has done a great service not only to the nation but also to the cause of truth. The political class won’t be happy. But for now they will have to live with it.

The court pointed that the right to freedom of speech was not absolute and it had to be balanced with the right to dignity and life. The right to speech did not mean the license to tarnish the reputation of others, it maintained. The moral principle involved in the matter is clear. It’s surprising that political parties and media houses would have objection to it and claim it had a ‘chilling effect’ on free speech.

Representational image. IBNLiveRepresentational image. IBNLive

Representational image. IBNLive

Can we have a right to defame? Let’s put the question in a different way. Can we let liars have a free run? Obviously not. A society has to be criminal in character which allows people to go on making slanderous allegations against others and just get away with it. It would be in conflict with the people’s right to know the truth, a principle not explicitly stated anywhere but which permeates the entire spectrum of our civilisational existence. It is not without reason that liars are treated with disdain in all societies.

Free speech is a wonderful concept in itself, it means a lot of power for the citizens. But, it also comes with the responsibility to maintain restraint. Once the restraint goes, free speech becomes meaningless, free-for-all exercise. Politicians in India and section of the media, some were petitioners in the case, have been particularly irresponsible in the last many years. What we have seen is well-orchestrated vilification campaigns against rivals spread through lies and half-truths. The media in many cases have been a willing partner in disseminating lies.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has been making serious allegations all political rivals. Not long ago he accused Finance Minister Arun Jaitley of being complicit in cases of financial irregularity in DDCA. Right now, he is busy trying to prove that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s degree certificates are forged. The BJP, on its part, has been raking up cases of alleged corruption against Congress leaders. Adversarial politics has gone so deep in the India that no political party is averse to throwing muck at others with little care for consequences. It would still be acceptable if the allegations led to court cases and convictions. But no one seems serious on that. Truth it seems is nobody’s business.

The shoot and scoot tactic has become a convenient political tool. The big problem here is it tantamounts to conning the public at large. As politicians in cahoots with the media go on playing the perception manipulation game, it’s the ordinary people who end up feeling duped. They tend to treat the leaders and the media with some respect and don’t expect them to be frivolous with facts and in their allegations. As a welter of allegations and counter allegations fly thick and fast, they have a reason to feel that they are being taken for a ride. They have a right to know the truth, but the leaders are busy conspiring to keep them away from it.

Politicians can keep fighting each other, but they have no right to manipulate public opinion through lies. The atmosphere of suspicion and acrimony they create through their antics is abominable. That is the reason why defamation must be treated with iron hands. Free speech is no joke. It’s better everyone realised that.

Pune: Fergusson college principal expresses regret over letter to police

Fergusson College principal R G Pardeshi on Thursday expressed “regret” over the letter written to police wherein he had sought action against individuals for allegedly raising anti-national slogans on the campus during an informal ABVP’s ‘Truth of JNU’ event on Tuesday.Pardeshi has already retracted his statement wherein he had stated that such slogans were raised, calling it a “human error” while drafting the letter. Pardeshi said in a release today that “the education institute does not believe in taking sides.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The letter, which was issued to the police, was written in tremendous tension due to the chaos in the campus. The said letter was drafted by my office and I had little time to verify the contents. It is purely a human error and it was not intended to hurt feelings of any person or group and as an educational institute, we do not believe in taking up sides,” the release said.Pardeshi said the letter given to the police stands withdrawn.”In this episode, if any person is hurt, we express regrets,” he said.Pardeshi’s letter to police had caused a flutter with the reference to the sloganeering during ABVP’s informal event to discuss the topic ‘Truth of JNU’ in presence of JNU ABVP leader Alok Singh.In the wake of the letter, several Dalit organisations accused him of branding students including Sujat Ambedkar, great-grandson of B R Ambedkar and son of former MP Prakash Ambedkar, as “anti-nationals”.Meanwhile, the Deccan Education Society, which runs the college, today appealed to the political, social and educational institutes to cooperate so that academic activities in the college continue smoothly.

Pune: Journalism students receive threat for inviting Kanhaiya Kumar

Journalism students at an institute in Pune have claimed they were threatened against inviting JNU students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar for a discussion by a suspected activist of BJP’s youth wing, police said on Thursday.A non-cognisable offence has been registered against one Omkar Kadam, who is believed to be a worker of Bhartiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), after a complaint was lodged against him by students of Ranade Institute last evening, an official attached with Deccan Gymkhana police station said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As per the complaint, Kadam went to the institute last evening and threatened the students with “dire consequences” that if they invite Kanhaiya to the campus, they (students) will be “beaten up,” he said.Kadam also advised the students to go to Delhi to hear Kanhaiya, police said, adding preventive action would be take against the accused.”There were no plans to invite Kanhaiya; however, following the threat, we would like to invite him to hear his version of JNU incidents, the way we heard Alok Singh, JNU’s ABVP president on Tuesday during an informal discussion on ‘Truth of JNU’,” said one of the students.Ranade Institute is the journalism college of Savitribai Phule Pune University.

Netaji files: Why we won’t allow him to rest in peace. It’s politics, stupid

Let’s now allow Netaji, wherever he is, to rest in peace. The venerable soul surely won’t be loving the fact he is being treated as a political football.

A fresh tranche of the Netaji files is out and there are no smoking guns yet. Several conspiracy theories, tell-tale ‘revelations’ and three enquiry commissions later we stand exactly where we were decades ago on the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose disappearance mystery. Those who have been secretly hoping that the files would directly indict Jawaharlal Nehru have been left disappointed so far.

netajibose-AFPnetajibose-AFPSome of the files indeed reflect that the Congress dispensation led by him and later were equally unsure about the truth and had to go by circumstantial evidence. The letter, purportedly written by Nehru to Clement Atlee, that mentions Netaji as a ‘war criminal’ is likely to spice up politics in the run-up to West Bengal elections. But the fact remains that the files declassified by the West Bengal government is September last and the current lot that has been read this far, reveal nothing that would bring the matter to a conclusion.

Even after the entire lot of documents involving Netaji is placed in public domain there would still be scope for doubts and speculation. This part done, the question next would be about the missing papers in some files and documents lying abroad, most of which will be impossible to procure. His family members – there’s difference of positions here too – may be genuinely interested in knowing the truth about the leader, but for the rest the interest remains in prolonging the matter for motive other than getting to the truth. By the ‘rest’ we mean political players of all hues.

The political implications of the declassified letters are thus more interesting than the central issue. The visible loser in the whole declassification process is the Congress. It now loses the luxury of choosing an alliance partner in West Bengal, which goes to polls not too long away. The ‘war criminal’ letter and whatever remotely incriminating comes up later will make it difficult for it to bargain from a position of strength. A few days ago, it was mulling the option of going with Mamata’s Trinamul Congress or the Left. With the Netaji papers likely to be discussed heavily in the election, it will be a liability for its alliance partners.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who released 64 files earlier, will obviously seek to cash in on the fact that she was the first to declassify the Netaji files. Now she has upped the ante already demanding that Netaji be given the title of ‘Leader of the nation’in the manner in which Mahatma Gandhi was called the ‘Father of the nation’. Besides putting the Congress, which was beginning to look confident again after random electoral victories across the country, in a spot of bother, she has a stick to beat the other rivals on the block, the Left Front and the BJP.

The Left Front, the main rival of the Trinamul, again will be left with some answering to do in connection with the files. While it has been demanding of the centre that these be declassified, it never took the initiative to make public whatever documents the state had concerning Netaji. And it was in power for 34 long years. With Mamata already stealing a march on it and having claimed a moral high ground, it will be a tough task for it to catch up now.

Despite all the noise and fury the BJP is still not a major player in the state. While it would have loved to play the declassification card to impress voters in the state, the problem is Mamata has already pre-empted it. It would still go to town claiming it did what the Left and the Congress couldn’t in all these years, but the gains would be limited.

Thus if there’s a political gainer from the exercise in the state, it has to be Mamata and her party. But, of course, the equations change if there are new revelations showing the Congress in a better light.

So let us rest assured that the noise over the Netaji mystery will not die anytime soon. Truth is incidental to it, politics is the core.

Madam won’t be happy: Congress leader praises Arvind Kejriwal’s Punjab rally

A senior Congress leader from Punjab created a flutter by praising Arvind Kejriwal’s show at Muktsar, insisting that there was never such a huge rally in the poll-bound state. “AAP, Maghi conference at Muktsar(Pb), a record breaker. Never before In Muktsar, so many people heard any leader from Punjab or India,” Jagmeet Brar tweeted about Kejriwal’s rally at Maghi Mela in Muktsar. In a message to an AAP leader, he also tweeted, “This was Historic. Never before in History of Muktsar such a big responsive gathering.” Replying to another tweet, the former Faridkot MP admitted that it was a fact that AAP’s show was good and said what has come out is from the heart and it will have its effect. “Dil se Jo baat nikelti hai asar Rakhti hai, par Nahin takkte parvaz magar Rakhti hai,” he said quoting Iqbal.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a series of tweets, Brar said, “Please ponder over this natural truth; And as the smart ship grew in status, grace, and hue, In shady silent distance grew the iceberg too.” Brar also wrote, “Gandhi, Nehru, Maulana Azad, Lagpat Rai, Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, Sukhdev, JP, wore Topi and turban, I love them. Why to criticise topi bhai.” “Right from 1975 feudal’s of Punjab, Akali and Congress were against me, God’s grace, I “beat on,” like a boat” against the current.” He, however, also clarified saying, “I would never alter my conduct even I have to die hundred deaths. Truth prevails. I am not after any office or position.” He claimed that he has been a political prisoner on 17 occasions and went to jail at the age of 18 during Emergency. Brar later clarified that what he was speaking was the “truth” and was only “ringing the bell”. He said his remarks should be viewed as an “awakening” for the party “to wake up and step up its activities in the state and start connecting with the people”.Asked if this was indicative of his leaning towards AAP and his joining the outfit, he categorically denied doing so.These remarks came on a day his known detractor Amarinder Singh was declared the face of the Congress in the Punjab assembly elections, thereby virtually projecting him as the CM candidate.Brar was recently inducted back into the Congress fold after Congress chief revoked his suspension. Congress suspended him in January last year following his differences with the party leadership at the Centre and in the state.

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