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Property Act: Opposition to SC ruling ‘misplaced’, says J&K finance minister Drabu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Terming the opposition to SC ruling on the SARFAESI Act with respect to Jammu and Kashmir as “completely misplaced”, state Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu on Saturday said the apex court has only reaffirmed that the state laws prevail.”I think we will have a lot of occasion to discuss this in the Assembly, but I think it (opposition to the SC ruling) is completely misplaced… the Opposition has been doing this for very very long.”While speaking at a Jammu and Kashmir Bank event here, Drabu told reporters that “there is nothing in the Act (to be opposed). In fact, it reaffirms quite a few things, one of which is that the Transfer of Property Act actually prevails over SARFAESI (the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act)”.According to him, banks cannot sell any immovable mortgaged property to non-state subjects.”In the event of a bank taking recourse to property, they cannot sell it to a non-state subject and in the last budget, I had already made a provision for an asset recovery company with the J-K Bank which can buy these impaired assets,” he said.”So, I think the Opposition is completely clueless in what they are saying and bears no relation to what the Act has and it is not today, this has been going on since 2003,” he claimed.Referring to his stint in the bank as its chairman, he recalled making some pertinent proposals.”But I think what eventually has happened is we have got clarity on it that the Transfer of Property Act of J-K will actually prevail over this (SARFAESI) and you cannot sell any immovable mortgage property to non-state subjects.” It can be a huge business opportunity for J-K bank, he felt.Asked if the state would bring any other law on the issue, he said the law department will have to discuss the same.

IIT Madras websites hacked, institute says ‘examining’ issue

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Some auxiliary websites of the IIT Madras here have been found hacked and the institute on Friday said it was examining the “vulnerabilities” that led to the hacking episode.The institute said it runs a “main website and auxiliary sites,” and these were “maintained by different entities,” such as “centres, labs and student bodies.” “While the main website of IIT-M has not been hacked, some of the auxiliary sites were hacked yesterday. The hacking was discovered early in the morning and the auxiliary sites were taken down and subsequently restored,” the institute said in a release.”The institute is examining the vulnerabilities that led to the hacking of the auxiliary sites and is taking steps to address them,” it added.The hacking episode is also being debated in social media.

Duncan Road Minor’s Murder: Police probe reveals juveniles didn’t attend college after kidnapping girl

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Around 200 residents of Duncan Road gathered at JJ Marg police station on Tuesday and appealed to the police to try the arrested juvenile duo in the three-year-old’s murder case as adults. The family of 3.5-year-old Junera-Tabassum Fatema Khan, who was allegedly murdered by her neighbours for ransom, also told the police that they suspected that the family of one of the juveniles was involved in the incident. The residents also thanked the police for their swift action.The police have recorded the statements of around ten witnesses in the case.Mumtaz Khan, Junera’s father, said, “We want them to be tried as adults, we want their family also to be arrested. We are certain that the boys are adults and the JJ Marg police has told us that the will do tests for the same.”While speaking about the investigation of the case, an officer privy to the probe said, “We have collected circumstantial, forensic, technical, and scientific evidences against the two juveniles to make the case water tight. We have recorded the statements of 10-12 witnesses for the same.”While another senior police officer said, “We have sent our teams to the spots where we had traced the last location of the juveniles. Our team is collecting CCTV footage from the areas. We have also obtained Call Data Record and sent the (mobile) sim card as well as recordings for technical verification.”Earlier during the investigation, it was revealed that the first year Science students of Siddharth College had stolen chloroform from their college laboratory which was later used to kill the girl. The police is seeking a clarification from the college authorities for the same. During the investigation of the college authorities, it was revealed that “the accused hadn’t attended college since they had kidnapped the girl.”The police also suspects the involvement of other people in either manipulating evidence, or involvement in planning the murder or hiding facts, the officer added, “We are looking at all the angles. We have also spoken to a couple of peers of the accused and are investigating if there was any involvement (of other people) or if someone helped them to destroy the evidence.”

Economy in year 2016: Brexit, Trump victory, demonetisation turn conventional wisdom around

Year 2016 was a fairly turbulent year for both the world economy and India not so much because there were any great surprises in terms of economic events or extraneous shocks but on accounts of forced developments which will have a long lasting impact.

When the year started, the question really was as to when the world economy would turnaround as there were differing signs emanating from different countries. The direction of movement of the Federal Reserve was more or less known while the ECB was to continue to maintain status quo while Bank of Japan was to reflate. The world economy has been moving along expected lines and the Chinese recovery was also almost on course. Therefore there did not seem to be any perverse sign to think otherwise.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Two major developments however have changed the perception not so much from the point of view of things going wrong this year, but more from a futuristic perspective. These are the BREXIT followed by Donald Trump’s victory, which though unexpected has been convincing with the Republican Party having a majority in the Congress and Senate. BREXIT is symptomatic of the world turning towards becoming more closed and the dictum of free trade and investment is being questioned seriously today. While the referendum in Britain could have termed a ‘one off case’, similar undercurrents prevail also in France and Italy where public opinion is veering towards movement away from the Union and probably at some time from the euro currency.

Countries have started thinking more of isolationism as it is believed that globalization progressively impedes growth as the benefits could be leaning more towards the rest of the world. USA for example believes that the major challenge today is jobs and that they are being lost to outsiders at both the unskilled and skilled levels. This was probably one reason why Donald Trump succeeded. When dealing with the strongest economy, there is always a case of the weaker countries benefiting more than the former, and this perception has led the Americans to believe that they have been losers. This has given a shot to pro-protectionist policies.

BREXIT does not mean the end of ties with the EU but Britain no longer has to accept the goods and people of the continent based on these water tight agreements. Quite clearly conventional wisdom is being turned around now and while presently no singular action has been taken, the future of the world economy is going to be far from normal once these ideologies are implemented. In fact, even the progress made by the WTO which is always a conflict between developed and developing countries will be questioned within the former set of nations as they compete with one another. The latter would also tend to be reinforced through trade barriers once it is realized that they are disadvantaged on the basis of restrictions in export of services.

Closer back home, the growth story had been building quite firmly with even the second quarter corporate results giving one the impression that things were turning around. The consumption story was being told rather convincingly with the pre Diwali sales laying the road of optimism. This was when the government embarked on the big demonetization exercise. While the entire nation has welcomed it unequivocally, there have been doubts raised in terms of the economic impact and it is almost certain that growth will slow down and that it will take two to three quarters for recovery – which will be mid 2017 at the earliest. While the objectives of dealing with black money and forcing the public to be technology-savvy are localized issues, from the point of view of the economy, things have been pushed backwards.

The impact on growth has been debated and while the numbers are a matter of subjective conjecture, the fact is that jobs have been lost and consumption buffeted mainly due to absence of currency which still dominates 90 percent of our transactions. Arguably, the impact would, be of a temporary nature as money is only a means of payment and is a facilitator rather than a commodity on its own. Therefore the production processes will continue as before once normalcy steps in. However, specific industries have taken a major blow like real estate, consumer goods, automobiles, tourism, transport, hospitality to name a few. The timing of the bounce back will vary but for sure will take a couple of quarters.

Hence, we too are ending the year on an uncertain note, though there is the feel good factor that black money has been slayed or at least an attempt has been made to do so. This would, also be an interesting phenomenon to watch out for in the New Year whether we change, what the economist Alfred Marshall have said, our ordinary business of lives.

The major concern however, for the entire world is the decision taken by OPEC to cut back output. Presently it does not seem to be an issue, but given that the last two to three years have been very hospitable as oil prices have been depressed, this may be a warning. It is still uncertain whether the OPEC nations will stick to their targets as there are signs of desperation as these countries which run only on oil may be tempted to ‘cheat’ to improve their incomes which could make this decision self-defeating. This can be a defining event for the world in 2017 as higher crude prices have always pressurized economies in terms of higher inflation and lower growth prospects. As most countries are on the anvil of such a turnaround, higher oil prices can delay the process.

Hence, the world will have to look at what the European countries do and what Donald Trump actually does when he becomes President. Will he drive immigrants out or dilute the free trade agreements and turn fully protectionist? It is hoped that what he has promised is political rhetoric and would get moderated along the way. But the dollar has become stronger as have the stock indices which mean that the markets are positive about these outcomes. Back home in India, the final numbers of growth will tell the story but for sure the deferment of the certainty of high growth due to the twist in tale on account of demonetization will remain a contentious issue for discussion.

(The writer is Chief Economist, CARE Ratings. Views are personal)

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 07:32 IST

‘Domicile certificates’ to West Pakistan refugees is unacceptable: Farooq Abdullah

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After the separatists, National Conference leader and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah on Tuesday said the move to grant ‘domicile certificates’ to West Pakistan Refugees is “unacceptable” and his party would oppose it.”The idea of issuing ‘domicile certificates’ to West Pakistan Refugees is unacceptable and National Conference won’t be a mute spectator to such extra-constitutional misadventures that aims at circumventing the state’s special constitutional status and character,” he told reporters here. Farooq said there was a clear effort to exploit the West Pakistan Refugee issue to further a traditional agenda of weakening the state’s special status and eroding the State Subject Law.He said the government’s “excuse” that certain certificates and documents were being issued to West Pakistan Refugees as proofs of identification were “absurd justifications”. “West Pakistan Refugees have already been given Adhaar cards and before that other proofs of identity that enable them to apply for Central government and other jobs. “Why the present government suddenly found the need to issue another form of an identity proof is incomprehensible,” said Farooq, a former Union Minister.He was commenting on the issue which has already become controversial with separatists slamming it and vowing to oppose it tooth and nail. “National Conference will do everything necessary to ensure such machinations to erode the state’s special status are defeated,” Farooq said. “These belated sympathisers of the West Pakistan Refugees have never done anything to help them in the pursuit of their day-to-day challenges and are exploiting this issue now only to serve their own political interests,” he added.”While we have always empathised with the refugees and will continue to do so, there is no denying the fact that they are not and cannot become the state subjects of Jammu and Kashmir. Any efforts by the state government to the contrary will be unconstitutional and illegal,” he said.

How Mormons find love in India

Ian Trueger visits a Mormon event in India, designed to help young followers find love.

In less-cash mode, govt mulls tighter cheque bouncing law

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After demonetization, the government is now trying to fight the ‘demons’ that could come in the way of ensuring a less-cash economy. As part of this exercise, the government is examining a proposal that could lead to sterner action in cheque bouncing cases.With more people using non-cash modes for transactions, the government is facing demands, particularly from traders’ bodies, for a legal system that makes payments made through cheques more secure, according to sources.If the proposal is accepted, the government could come out with a legislation to amend the law pertaining to cheque bounce cases. Among the measures that government is examining is that the defaulter will be given a month’s time, after which, if the matter is not settled, it would attract arrest even before the case is settled, the sources said.At present, dishonour of a cheque, in view of inadequate funds in account, is a criminal offence under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Act, 1881, and can be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with fine of twice the amount of the cheque or both.Sources said that despite the law, there were several instances when the payee was made to wait to get the money for years after a cheque bounced. There were 18 lakh cases of cheque dishonour pending in courts across the country till 2014 end, according to a reply in Lok Sabha. While Maharashtra topped the list of such pending cases, it was followed by Gujarat, Rajasthan and West Bengal.The proposed amendments to deal with this issue, which are yet to get the final stamp of approval, could be brought in the budget session of Parliament in February. The objective is to cut down litigation and act as deterrent to defaulters.The traders, who traditionally have been BJP supporters, have expressed concerns about the problems of cheque bouncing, particularly at a time when more and more people were adopting non-cash mode of payments, the sources said.Ghanshyam Aggarwal, former co-convenor of the BJP’s traders cell, said traders’ apprehensions on various issues after demonetization, like the problems they faced due to the limit on cash withdrawal have been conveyed to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.Earlier this year, the government had notified the Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Bill, 2015, to allow filing of cheque bounce cases in a court at the place where it was presented for clearance and not the place of issue. Litigants had to sometimes travel long distances to different places from where cheques were issued and not honoured.

Though considered insignificant, stalking claims several innocent lives

By Divya Vijayakumar

A month ago, a friend wandered into a grocery store where she saw a vaguely familiar man staring at her. She approached him and asked if they knew each other. He said: yes. He knew her name and even rattled off a list of places where he’d seen her before — at track practice, a park close to her home, a bookstore. With growing discomfort, she turned to leave when he called out to her. “It was your birthday two days ago, wasn’t it? Happy birthday.” This last bit of information was not even on social media.

While she was shaken by the interaction, many people didn’t consider it something to worry about. After all, they countered, he wasn’t harming her. In fact, he’d been nice to her and wished her happy birthday. While she chose not to go to the police, she felt unsettled for a long time after the incident.

On 17 December, Jyothi Kumari, an advocate in her 20s, was on her way to work in Bengaluru when she was murdered by Madhu, who had been stalking her for years. He had constantly harassed her when she was younger. He would follow her to college and incessantly telephone her house. He disappeared for a while when her uncle intervened but two months before the incident, Jyothi had approached the police saying that Madhu had resurfaced. He attacked her when she was in her PG and also stolen her scooter. All that the complaint yielded was a “stern warning”. No FIR was filed.

S Swathi, an Infosys employee was hacked to death by her stalker at Chennai’s Nungambakkam railway station in June. Image courtesy: Facebook

S Swathi, an Infosys employee was hacked to death by her stalker at Chennai’s Nungambakkam railway station in June. Image courtesy: Facebook

Jyothi is the latest in a growing number of women who have been harassed and killed by their stalkers — angry, entitled men seeking revenge after their advances were rejected. Many of these crimes also share a pattern of having been committed in public places, often as these women were travelling to or from their place of work.

Pinki Devi, a beautician in Gurgaon was stabbed to death by her stalker at a metro station in Delhi in October. S Swathi (in pic), an Infosys employee, was hacked to death by her stalker at Chennai’s Nungambakkam railway station in June.

With every horrific case, what becomes clear is this — stalking cannot be brushed aside as something casual. Yet there are movies and pop culture that glorify stalking, depicting it as proof that a man’s persistence pays off. Just a few months ago Tamil actor Sivakarthikeyan defended stalking saying that it does not matter if in a movie the hero’s feelings are not reciprocated initially, if his thoughts are “pure” and if he is willing to marry the girl.

The Indian Penal Code (IPC), thankfully, was amended in 2013 to include stalking as a crime. The Section 354 of the IPC deals with attempts to outrage a woman’s modesty: the amendment introduced Clause 354D to specifically address instances of stalking and defines a stalker as any man who follows, contacts, or attempts to contact a woman to foster a personal interaction with her, despite her clear indication of disinterest.

Despite this, the police still often do not file a FIR under Clause 354D of the IPC but prefer Clause 354A that deals with molestation. But, 354A only covers incidents where a man initiates unwanted physical contact that is explicitly sexual, demands sexual favours, forcefully shows pornography against the will of a woman or makes sexually coloured remarks — things that may or may not happen in a case of stalking.

If my friend had indeed tried to complain to the police about the stalker in the grocery store, how effective would it have been? Journalist Arunima Mazumdar wrote of experiencing something similar when she called the police after being harassed by an old classmate, both online and offline, from 2013 to 2015. Mazumdar was made to wait for hours at the police station before an officer nonchalantly commented that Pradhan hadn’t really “done” anything to her. A FIR was not filed and the stalker was let off after writing an “apology” letter.

As per the law, stalkers can receive bail if they are convicted of the crime for the first time — and this sometimes gives the offender an awful opportunity for revenge (bail can be denied only in the case of subsequent convictions for stalking). For instance, Lakshmi, a 32-year-old housewife, was stabbed to death in Delhi in September by Sanjay Kumar. He had already been arrested for harassing her but had secured bail. In 2015, Meenakshi, a teenager in Delhi, was also murdered, by Jai Prakash despite her family having lodged a complaint against him for stalking — two years before she was murdered.

So is there a law that can ensure that stalkers don’t approach women after police complaints have already been made? While India does not have provisions for restraining orders in the way that the US does, prohibitive injunctions have been cited as a method of ordering a person to not interfere with another’s liberty.

Lawyer Aarti Mundkur clarifies that although injunctions are filed in civil courts, this can only be done if there is already a criminal case pending against the accused for the same. Such injunctions are rarely granted anyway. Rebecca John, a senior advocate in the Delhi High Court, also says that these civil proceedings are long drawn out and arduous. According to her, the most important concern is of enforceability — currently, there is nothing that ensures that stalkers follow injunction orders — and so these injunctions often turn out to be only scraps of paper.

A video entitled The Horribly Slow Murderer with the Extremely Inefficient Weapon went viral a few years ago — it’s a horror-comedy short film where a ghoulish stranger follows a man around, trying to kill him. It’s funny because his weapon of choice is a spoon. All that the stranger does is to shadow him constantly, tapping away with a spoon. The victim slowly loses his sanity. His complaints to the police are not taken seriously because they sound ludicrous. That’s what stalking can feel like. Somebody whittling another’s security away with something seemingly innocuous. Somebody whose fixation transcends the fact that the other person is also human, with her own feelings and the right to not be interested.

The Ladies Finger (TLF) is a leading online women’s magazine delivering fresh and witty perspectives on politics, culture, health, sex, work and everything in between.

First Published On : Dec 24, 2016 15:17 IST

Gurgaon: 21-year-old woman drugged & raped, falls into shaft while trying to flee

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A 21-year-woman was allegedly drugged and raped by two men in southwest Delhi’s Dwarka, following which the accused were arrested, police said.The accused have been identified Sunil (26) and Himmat(22), DCP(Southwest) Surender Kumar said.The woman claimed that she was brought forcefully from Gurgaon to a flat in southwest Delhi on Wednesday night where the accused drugged raped her, they said.The flat is rented by Nitin, Sunil’s driver. Nitin was out of town when Himmat and Sunil allegedly took the girl there.The incident came to light while the girl was trying to escape from the flat and fell from the window into the shaft and sustained severe injuries. While trying to prevent her from escaping, Himmat also fell from the window, police said, adding Sunil had gone out when this happened.Hearing the duo’s cries, the neighbours made a PCR call alleging that some thieves were hiding in the shaft.The girl sustained severe back injuries and was taken to DDU Hospital from where she was referred to Safdarjung Hospital where her condition is stated to be stable, they said.After gaining consciousness, she told police that the duo raped her after she lost consciousness upon being drugged.The accused were arrested after the woman’s medical examination was conducted, police said.On the other hand, the accused claimed she came with them willingly and that they didn’t kidnap her. They said Sunil had gone out to get some food while Himmat and the girl were drinking in the flat.They claimed that Sunil and the woman were standing near the window when they lost balance and fell, they said.Himmat hails from Mahendragarh in Haryana and had come to Delhi around 15-20 days back to work with Sunil, whose cars were earlier plying for Uber, a police official said.

Dear Rahul Gandhi, it’s time for you to stop taking Indian democracy for granted

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Shakespearean Fool can get away with saying anything as he is not held to the same standards of probity as other characters. However, the Fool is unlikely to be the main plot point in any story because he’s there to provide the laughs. And sadly, for a lot of Indians, Rahul has become a meme rather than a leader who can be trusted to lead the nation. And this was evident, when speaking in Mehsana, Gujarat he claimed the PM had bribes from the Sahara and Birla groups when he was CM of Gujarat. The allegations stem from what has come to be known as the Sahara-Birla Diaries. Frankly, when Rahul promised an ‘earthquake’ and proof of PM Modi’s ‘personal corruption’ one had hoped for something better than allegations that were first hinted at by Arvind Kejriwal in the aftermath of the surgical strike and one that was repeated in the Delhi assembly on November 16.Now it’s true that in a post-truth world, elections can be won by casting aspersions and mud-slinging, hoping some of it sticks, but for that you need a solid ground to begin from and Rahul Gandhi’s earth-shattering revelations were based on documents that had already been dismissed by the SC as ‘zero, fictitious and not authentic’. Advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing the NGO Common Cause had demanded an investigation into these allegations. The SC bench consisting of Justice Khehar and Justice Mishra had pointed out that Sahara never had ‘genuine documents’ and the Birla computer entries were flaky because any kid with a computer and printer could type things on a piece of paper and demand a probe. At the next hearing, things spiralled out of control when Bhusan alleged that Khehar might be compromised since his ‘file for elevation as Chief Justice of India was pending with the government’. This led to a sharp reprimand from Khehar who pointed out that Bhushan hadn’t brought this up earlier during the hearing. He said: “It is very unfair of you to have appeared before us earlier and not pointed this out then, and bring it up now.” Justice Mishra rebuked Bhushan saying, “So, you think we can succumb to any force? You doubt the highest Constitutional court?”, while AG Rohtagi called it a ‘cheap tactic’.That Rahul Gandhi should give credence to these rumours, shows the lack of imagination and political ineptitude emanating from the Congress leader’s team. Not only can they not define themselves beyond criticising PM Modi, they are clutching at straws by borrowing wild allegations.It seems that the Congress, just doesn’t know how to crack the Modi code because the BJP has successfully managed to place him as an icon synonymous with India. In a simplified binary world, if you’re against the Prime Minister, you are deemed to be against the nation.Indian democracy has been waiting with bated breath since 2004 for Rahul to get his act together, but while the spirit has been willing from time to time, the voters have shown all the enthusiasm of a snail returning home from a funeral. Since the BJP came to power with its ginormous verdict in 2014, one could count the meaningful Rahul Gandhi moments on our fingers.There were some moments of Vipassana-enthused ‘Suit-Boot’ Sarkar jibes, some support for students of HCU and JNU and a ham-handed attempt to join the intolerance debate. There was the ill-advised ‘khoon ka dalali’ remark against the surgical strikes and finally the opposition to demonetization.Perhaps demonetization was a strong case to bolster one’s dissenting credentials but Rahul Gandhi failed to make a mark with contradictory remarks which have swung from claiming the BJP knew about demonetization beforehand to the allegations that the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was unaware, and that the entire move is an attack on the poor. He even claimed in Modi’s cashless India, 5-6% from every transaction would go to the rich! The real problem for Rahul, is that his family legacy is a poisoned chalice. Whatever crime he accuses the Modi govt of perpetuating, the Congress has been there and done that.Corruption? Coalgate, Commonwealth Games, Bofors, 2G scam. Intolerance? Hi Grandma. Riots against a particular religion? Sorry Dad. While argumentum ad hominem is a logical fallacy, in politics, like life, those who live in glass houses find it harder to cast stones. And when they accuse Modi of something, the accusation always comes back like a boomerang because it has been the Congress that has been in power for so long since independence. Rahul’s position as a serious campaigner has also taken a hit as his Khat Pe Charcha in UP, saw more enthusiasm for the khats than the charcha. Even master strategist Prashant Kishore seems to have given up on his product as an alliance with SP looms large on the horizon which is bad news for Congress’ UP CM face Sheila Dixit.The hallmark of a democracy is a strong opposition but the Congress seems ill-equipped to provide one as the BJP juggernaut rolls on. The strongest voices of the Opposition at this moment comes from non-Congress leaders like Mamata Banerjee, Nitish Kumar and Arvind Kejriwal, who are the complete antithesis of the Congress VP. While the former three have fought their way to the top, quite like PM Modi, Rahul Gandhi still bears the appearance of a man who doesn’t know what to do with his inheritance.And it’s harming the Congress party as well, because the focus on the first family, is preventing the rise of any charismatic leaders who could lead the party out of their moment of darkness. Perhaps it’s time for Rahul Gandhi to stop playing the role of a dilettante politician and move on, so that India’s Grand Old Party can rebuild itself before it gets consigned to the dustbin of history. Because the electorate, a brave and new impatient India, is making it abundantly clear, election after election, that it has no respect for a man or a family who can’t get their house in order. Or as PM Modi put it while speaking in Varanasi: “They have a youth leader; he is learning how to speak. Since the time he has learnt how to speak, I am the happiest. In 2009, you couldn’t even tell what is inside this packet. Now we are finding out. If he hadn’t spoken, there could have been an earthquake. It would have been an earthquake that people would have had to deal with for 10 years. Good he has started speaking… there is no chance of an earthquake now.”

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

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

Scientists reveal what caused intense 2015 heatwave which resulted in 2500 deaths in India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The deadly heat waves that killed nearly 2,500 people in India and 2,000 people in Pakistan last year were exacerbated by human-induced climate change, scientists including those from IIT-Delhi have found.Researchers examined observational and simulated temperature and heat indexes and found that the heat waves in the two countries “were exacerbated by anthropogenic climate change.”While the two countries typically experience severe heat in the summer, the 2015 heat waves – which occurred in late May/early June in India and in late June/early July in Pakistan – have been linked to the deaths of nearly 2,500 people in India and 2,000 in Pakistan.Researchers used “factual” simulations of the world and compared them to “counterfactual” simulations of the world that might have been had humans not changed the composition of the atmosphere by emitting large amounts of carbon dioxide, said Daithi Stone from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) in US.”It is relatively common to run one or a few simulations of a climate model within a certain set of conditions, with each simulation differing just in the precise weather on the first day of the simulation; this difference in the first day propagates through time, providing different realisations of what the weather ‘could have been,'” said Stone. “The special thing about the simulations used here is that we ran a rather large number of them. This was important for studying a rare event; if it is rare, then you need a large amount of data in order to have it occurring frequently enough that you can understand it,” Stone added.Researchers, including those from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, examined both observational and simulated temperature alone as well as the heat index, a measure incorporating both temperature and humidity effects.From a quality-controlled weather station observational dataset, they found the potential for a very large, human-induced increase in the likelihood of the magnitudes of the two heat waves. “Observations suggested the human influence; simulations confirmed it,” said Michael Wehner, climate researcher at Berkeley Lab.The heat waves in Pakistan in late June/early July of 2015 were also similar killing around 2,000 people. The research team also found that, despite being close in location and time, the two heat waves were “meteorologically independent.”

DMK, AIADMK in catch 22 over leadership issue

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Both the AIADMK and the DMK are in a piquant situation — have to amend the party constitution to elevate Sasikala and Karunanidhi’s son Stalin respectively for them to play a larger and key role. Senior AIADMK leaders including Chief Minister o Panneerselvam and his cabinet colleagues (most of whom double up as secretaries of the party’s district units) have urged Jayalalithaa’s aide V K Sasikala to take over the post of general secretary hitherto held by Jayalalithaa.In the last three days, they have met Sasikala often to press their demand so as to keep the party together. Panneerselvam has even given a statement asking her to lead the party as it required ‘military Discipline” and she knew the nuances of political moves to counter the opposition.A problem which the party has to surmount is the Constitution — Section 30 (5) of the AIADMK Rules and Regulations stipulates : Those who want to contest for the post of office beaers of the organisation should have been member of the party for five years without any break’. In December 2011, Sasikala and her close relatives as also her husband M Natarajan, were expelled from the AIADMK by Jayalalithaa. Sasikala was also asked to leave the Poe’s Garden residence of Jayalalithaa. It was only in April 2012 that Jayalalithaa took Sasikala back into the Garden.Though the date of her re-admission into the party is not known, it is possible that this too must have been in April 2012. Since it is only a little over four years since the re-entry of Sasikala, technically she cannot be considered for any post. Therefore, when the party general Council meets in April as is likely, it would have to amend the Constitution to reduce this period from five to four years or the Executive Committee can pass a resolution, making out a special case for Sasikala and get it ratified by the General Council later. Similarly, an amendment would be required to create a new post for Sasikala in case she opts for a post like Joint General Secretary or Additional General Secretary.Sasikala has so far not given any indication to the party leaders about her response to their request. Perhaps, all the district units and general Council members may be asked to sign a memorandum containing their request to Sasikala — for her to be sure of near–unanimous support, and to ensure it is a smooth affair. Meanwhile, the main opposition DMK is also grappling with legal and technical issues to elevate Stalin. While Stalin’s supporters have been urging his father to make him party President so as to inject some energy into the party, Karunanidhi seems to be reluctant to part with his own post . Karunanidhi realises that the moment he gives up the post of president, he would get sidelined. At the same time, he needs to give more importance to Stalin in order to get work done and to build the party.Those close to Karunanidhi have suggested that the post of a Working President be created for Stalin, which would ensure that Karunanidhi remains the President, even while meeting Stalin supporters half-way.The DMK has convened a meeting of its General Council on December 20. Although the agenda is not known, the elevation of Stalin is on the cards. The party needs the General Council to adopt a resolution and amend the Constitution to pave the way for Stalin. The AIADMK and the DMK are running on a parallel track these last few months. The leaders of both parties were hospitalized one after the other. Both parties are also facing the need to find new leadership. While AIADMK lost its leader, Karunanidhi needs rest.

Bihar: 2 killed, 1 hurt while listening to music on railway tracks

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Two youths were killed and another youth was critically injured after they came under the wheels of a train while sitting on railway tracks and listening to music, the railway police said on Tuesday.The incident happened last night between gate number 24 and 25, about 1 km from Darbhanga station.Three youths sat on the railway tracks and were engrossed in music from their mobile phones with headphones in plugged their ears, the police said.”They could not hear the horn of the Samastipur-Darbhanga-Raxaul DEMU and came under the wheels of the train. While Mohammad Umar died on the spot, another youth identified as Mohammad Sohail, died on the way to hospital,” officer-in-charge of railway police NK Singh said..”The third youth Mohammad Shabir was battling for his life at the Darbhanga Medical College and Hospital (DMCH),” Singh added.

Demonetization: Why PM Modi’s December 30 deadline could cost BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>“I have done my calculations. Your problems will be eased post December 30”, assured PM Modi at a rally in Gujarat. This deadline of things going back to normal is probably the only thing Modi has kept constant since the demonetization decision was announced on November 8. “Give me 50 days and the problem of black money will be solved,” was his impassioned plea. Since then, the goalpost of demonetization has been largely shifted to promoting cashless economy, but PM Modi runs the risk of a serious credibility loss by sticking to the December-end deadline of easing all pains owing to cash crunch.According to Reuters estimates, it will take at least three months to replenish the 86% volume of Indian currency that were made invalid post demonetization. While the withdrawal limit for banks per week is Rs 24,000 per account, most banks are unwilling to give an amount greater than Rs 10,000 due to lack of cash. The problem continues unabated in varying degrees across the country. Even the Supreme Court has asked for the Centre’s reply in this matter. While the Attorney General may believe ATM queues have shortened considerably, the picture from different parts of the country are in stark contrast. IIP data for October (pre-demonetization) shows contraction owing to weak manufacturing numbers and is likely to get only worse. Most rating agencies have cut India’s GDP growth rate owing to low consumption.The likes of Larry Summers, Manmohan Singh and Kaushik Basu have warned of a cascading effect of this economic turbulence with looming fears of job losses and slowdown. The only glimmer of hope comes from Morgan Stanley which believes India’s economy will be back on track in April, 2017. Amidst all these grim predictions, one wonders whether PM Modi is guided by false hope or a wrong set of advisors about the possible economic fallout and the severity and longevity of it. The hope is to trust that PM Modi has the rare insight which many of the pre-eminent economists are missing. Even his Finance Minister believes it will be a couple of quarters before the economy picks up. A note ban of this extent in an economy like India has never been done. Hence, there is no available data or model to properly estimate the extent of demonetization. One also can’t ignore that many of the eminent economists failed to predict the 2008 crisis. So, Modi may still beat the odds. PM Modi’s December 30 deadline is based on two promises. One is that people’s hardship would be eased beyond that and second, these 50 days will be a body blow to black money racketeers. Whether hardship has eased will be judged by the voting public by their personal experiences. So far, the government hasn’t promised publication of tangible statistics, that will reveal the amount of black money tracked in this entire exercise. PM Modi has anchored this audacious demonetization scheme using his personal charisma and integrity to the hilt. People have been largely appreciative, despite suffering hardships. The schadenfreude of the rich suffering is too alluring for the poor and the middle class to let go off. But even a successful marketing campaign has its limitation and expiry date. The unquestioned support towards demonetization among a large section of population has already started to waver, seeing the innumerable flip flops by the RBI and Finance Ministry, looking to implement a new rule everyday. But post December 30, people will like to see some actual results to convince themselves that all these countless hours of lining up for cash were worth something.The entire digital push is commendable, but as an FT commentator says, was the entire process too much, too soon? A tight schedule for changing the fundamentals in a country as big as India looks daunting if not impossible. The amount of cash seizures in new notes (close to Rs 100 crore) means there is a systemic rot in the banking system and clearly a nexus exists between unholy bankers and traders. The government has to urgently plug the loopholes or else the entire mission behind demonetization will go to waste. The message currently being received is the big fishes are getting away and the lesser mortals are facing the brunt. PM Modi may have sold the dream well, but will the gullible mass get a rude reality shock will only be known in the New Year. And BJP may just face the wrath in the elections. PM Modi’s high stakes gamble is increasingly looking shaky.

Revenue jump will not attract taxmen, govt assures traders

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>To encourage digital transactions, the Revenue Department has directed its officials to not check the past records of businesses, in case the turnover shows a sudden increase due to the use of digital means of payment. The announcement is expected to allay the fears of traders and businessmen, who were concerned that the turnover jump brought about by the shift to digital modes may attract tax sleuths’ attention.Most businessmen and traders dealt in cash earlier but have now been forced to adopt the digital payment system, which keeps an account of each and every penny received. This is leading to sudden jumps in the turnover amount. Traders were apprehensive that they will be asked to explain the huge gap in the last and current year’s performance to the tax department.The government decision to not reopen last year’s files even if the turnover increases, as long as the traders shift to digital modes of payment, has come as a huge relief for business owners. The tax evasion cases, which usually come to light through an abrupt jump in the turnover amount, are filed under section 147 of the I-T Act, 1961.In an internal communication, a copy of which is with DNA, the Revenue Department has stated that the turnover jump “could not be the sole reason” to believe that someone’s income escaped assessment in the past. The Department further stated that reopening files under section 147 was feasible only when the assessing officer “has reason to believe that any income chargeable to tax has escaped assessment for any assessment year”, and not on the basis of mere suspicion.As per the I-T Ministry data, there was a 95 per cent increase in the number of transactions through the Point of Sale (PoS) system in November as compared to October. While 50.2 lakh transactions took place through the PoS system in October, the number was 98.1 lakh in November.In line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetization drive, the government is pushing the digital payment system. The expectation is that in a cashless economy, no financial transaction would remain undisclosed.RS 30 CR SEIZEDBulk seizures of new currency rose on Saturday with three more incidents being reported including one in which the IT department recovered Rs 5.7 crore cash in new notes secretly stashed inside the bathroom tiles of a hawala dealer in Chitradurga district in Karnataka (see pic). A fresh seizure of Rs 24 crore cash in new notes was also made by the IT department in Chennai.

NGO launches exhaustive RTI portal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While the state continues to drag its feet on offering a website dedicated to the Right to Information Act, 2005, an NGO has come out with an exhaustive RTI portal. While an official state government RTI portal has been in the pipeline for the past four years, the last update from the government was that it would be launched after the monsoon session.The website developed by the NGO promises to provide exhaustive information pertaining to the filing of RTI applications, RTI rules of various states, orders of the Supreme Court and High Courts, among other related details. The website seeks to provide regular RTI applicants with answers to any queries they may have, as well as initiate a first-time applicant to ways in which an RTI application can be filed.Called mahitiadhikarmanch.ngo – named after the NGO which derives its name in Marathi from the RTI Act, the portal has rules of different states in their respective state languages. The RTI Act itself is available in 10 languages including Marathi,besides English and Hindi, on the website.“A lot of organizations do work on RTI. However, there is no single website that gives the information on all the details about the RTI. On our website, we have put up the RTI Act and even the rules in all languages. There is a link to all information commissions and all organizations that work towards the RTI Act. There are important SC and HC judgments related to RTI Act, motivational songs and talks by various people. Information will also be provided of various workshops on RTI that people can look forward to attend. We are trying to make the website as live as we can make it,” said Bhaskar Prabhu, of Mahiti Adhikar Manch, that has come out with the website.The website will be followed by a RTI vehicle that will educated people on the Act moving from place to place. “In future we will also put up details of all the Acts that relate to or compliment the RTI Act like the Indian Evidence Act, Records Maintenance Act, Services Act and all other Act that co-relate with the RTI,” said Prabhu.

Demonetisation: Is meta-corruption and ‘jugaad’ getting the better of good intent?

Since 8 November almost 12 lakh crore in demonetised notes have been deposited into banks, the RBI recently said at a news conference. On Friday, while facing some tough questions on shoddy implementation, the Centre admitted before the Supreme Court that it did not expect 80 per cent of the scrapped currency to return.

We must be cautious here. Return of the money into the banking system does not mean that demonetisation has failed. Indeed, economists such as Surjit Bhalla of The Observatory Group, a New York-based macro policy advisory caucus, has stressed that even if all of the devalued currency were to return, tax revenues will jump and therefore the move would have achieved its objective.

Be that as it may, if we narrow down on the gap between the government’s hope and reality, it reflects a mismatch that should be scrutinised. It ought to tell us two things. One, the government perhaps underestimated the innate Indian talent for jugaad. Two, meta-corruption seems to be at work. When the tools of cleaning a system are also corrupted, any effort at cleansing the system is likely to face resistance.

A file image of people queuing in the line outside ATM. ReutersA file image of people queuing in the line outside ATM. Reuters

A file image of people queuing in the line outside ATM. Reuters

Black wealth isn’t just top-down corruption, it permeates nearly every strata of the society to create a parallel, rent-based system. Everything moves subject to greasing of the palm. It divides the nation into bribe givers and takers. While the economic repercussions serve to keep a major part of the population poor and out of the development loop, black money is also a moral hazard. While fighting this systemic problem, regulation can only serve a limited role. Unless the risk of generating black money exceeds its accruable benefits, hoarders may find ways to beat the system.

Critics and experts have hence warned the government that demonetisation must be seen as the means to an end, not an end in itself. It must be followed by structural reforms such as simplification of income tax, revoking of stamp duty, etc, to trigger a behavioural change. Since demonetisation’s success is also dependent on whether or not people see this as a personal battle against graft, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has repeatedly tried to vest the ownership to individuals, urging, almost imploring them to take up the cudgels on his behalf. Simply put, Modi has invested huge trust on the collective will for this radical policy to succeed.

Was he wise in doing so? Let us consider some pointers.

According to latest government data for fiscal ended 31 March 2012-13, only one percent of all Indians pay income tax. This was revealed when the Centre this year disclosed as part of a transparency exercise direct tax data for the last 15 years. According to a PTI report, a total of 2.87 crore individuals filed income tax returns for that year, but 1.62 crore of them did not pay any tax — leaving the number of taxpayers at just about 1.25 crore which was close to one percent of the country’s total population of about 123 crore at that time.

While this doesn’t necessarily indicate that a majority of Indians are dishonest, it certainly points to the fact that Indians have a complex relationship with notions of corruption and taxation.

R Jagannathan, in his Swarajyamag column succinctly explains the Indian mindset. “In the Abrahamic system, it is criminal to evade tax. Thus you are a good guy if you pay tax, and a bad guy if you don’t. The outcome is binary. In the Dharmic mindset that most Indians operate in, we both pay taxes and attempt to evade them, depending on what we think is just and acceptable. Tax is a matter of individual judgment and negotiation. Punishment for not paying tax is karmic – outside the ambit of the state.”

From temple donations, paying advance salaries, using Jan Dhan accounts of the poor, pressing the unemployed youth into service as money mules, using bank accounts of relatives to park unaccounted cash to buying and cancelling high-value train tickets, demonetisation has sprung some really innovative ideas.

While this is one part of the problem, the other part is plain dishonesty. Ever since the high-value notes were decommissioned, some duplicitous bank officials have conspired with the rich and corrupt to launder their existing black money and almost simultaneously create a pool of fresh black wealth even as the honest majority stood for hours on end in fruitless queues to get access to their daily quota of own legitimate cash.

In report after report, we find unscrupulous individuals subverting the system in collusion with some bankers to turn their black money into white. Livemint gives details about the biggest seizure of black money on Friday since the demonetisation, with I-T officials confiscating about Rs 106 crore in cash and 127 kg in gold from a Chennai businessman and his associates. In two other raids, the I-T department found Rs100 crore in an Axis Bank branch in Delhi, and Haryana police officials caught three men with Rs 17 lakh in new currency notes, according to the report.

A cartel that converted black into white with a hefty 35 percent commission was caught in Mumbai, a fake currency racket was busted in Hyderabad, a doctor in Kolkata’s tony Salt Lake area was found hiding wads of new Rs 500 and Rs 2000 notes worth Rs 10 lakhs in his chamber while I-T raids in Bengaluru unearthed Rs 152 crore of unaccounted wealth in new notes, old notes and bullion. In between, Enforcement Directorate has arrested two managers of a private bank for assisting the corrupt in laundering money. The picture isn’t pretty. We can only imagine the extent to which laundering has gone undetected.

These cases reduce the moral strength of the fight against black money. People, who have been very patient so far and have withstood extreme inconvenience with a degree of support and stoicism, may soon be feeling disillusioned. While previous opinion polls had indicated huge support in favour of demonetisation, fresh data from a new opinion poll suggests that the public support may be waning.

According to new data from a Huffpost-BW-CVoter opinion poll, “proportion of people who said that the pain of demonetisation was worth the stated aim of curbing black money continued to fall for the third straight week, while in semi-urban and urban India, support that was growing might now be reversing. Support fell the fastest among the poor and the middle class, and fell slower among the rich.” The poll’s margin of error is +/- 3 percent at the national level and +/- 5 percent at the regional level.

While demonetisation is an ongoing exercise that may throw new revelations each week, these findings do indicate that the government has less space to play around with unless some stability is quickly restored. Is corruption getting the better of good intent?

First Published On : Dec 10, 2016 17:02 IST

Why banks are unable to allow minimum weekly withdrawals of Rs 24,000: SC seeks Centre’s reply

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Friday sought the Centre’s response on issues like whether district cooperative banks could be allowed to accept deposits in demonetized notes with some stringent regulations and why banks are unable to allow minimum weekly withdrawals of Rs 24,000 to customers.The hearing, in which the Centre accused some advocates of politicising the issue in the garb of the public interest litigation, also witnessed the bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur expressing dismay over lawyers breaching decorum of the court by out-shouting each other. While the high-decibel hearing was on, the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said though demonetization has been carried with long term beneficial aims, its immediate concern was to ease the inconvenience of the people and asked Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to apprise it on December 14 on issues relating to district cooperative banks and the non-adherence to fixed weekly withdrawal limits by the banks.Further the bench said it would like to know the government’s stand on the demand for extending the order for hospitals to accept the fees in demonetized notes. Keeping in mind that the law under which the November 8 notification was issued for demonetization has been challenged, the bench proposed to frame legal questions and told Rohatgi that since a detailed and long hearing would be required, he should ponder over whether the matter can be referred to a five-judge constitution bench.The bench said it would take a decision on December 14 on the plea of the Centre that proceedings in various high courts on petitions relating to demonetization be stayed and transferred either to the apex court or one of the High Courts for adjudication. “Every day new petitions are being filed in the Supreme Court and in High Courts. The High Courts are adjourning the case for one day or two days… law officers are being asked to appear,” Rohatgi said and asked the bench to consider staying the proceedings in High Courts and transferring them either to the Supreme Court or to one high court.The bench also considered submissions of senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for one of petitioners opposing the demonetization, and the Attorney General in framing legal issues to be deliberated upon by it in future hearing. “We can straightaway frame the questions. The first one can be: whether the November 8 notification is ultra-vires to the Section 26 (2) (power to demonetize) of the Reserve Bank of India Act,” the bench said. Indicating that it was “open to the idea of sending the matters to a five-judge bench”, the bench said the second question could be whether the demonetization “falls foul of” Article 300A which says that no person shall be deprived of his/her property without a provision in law.Whether the decision is unconstitutional as it violates Article 14 (equality before the law) and Article 19(1)(g) (freedom to practice profession and occupation) under the Constitution, it said. Accepting Sibal’s suggestion, the bench said the question that the restriction on withdrawal of “legitimate and taxed money” by the banks is violative of various fundamental rights. “Whether district cooperative banks have been discriminated against by denial of the permission to accept deposits,” the bench posed. Sibal said he has also challenged the validity of the RBI Act provision on the ground of “excessive delegation of power” to demonetize currency notes.Then came the suggestion of the Attorney General who said that a question was “what is the scope of judicial review in the matters of fiscal/economic policy”. The bench accepted the suggestion. Raising the issue of CPI(M) filing the PIL in the instant matter, Rohatgi said another question would be “can a poltical party file the public interest litigation?” The bench, during the hearing, asked Attorney General about the benefits and objectives of the demonetization. Referring to the November 8 notification, Rohatgi said it was for fighting blackmoney, ill-gotten money used for terror financing and curbing fake currency.He said the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes constituted 86 per cent of total currency and the move was kept secret to make demonetization effective. “It was not possible to print ten lakh crore currency in advance and re-calibrate all ATMs in advance. The cat would have been out of the bag. There is bound to have been some kind of inconvenience,” the Attorney General said. He referred to the recent decision of the Centre to incentivise digital transcations and said that people would be benefitted if they pay for their rail and air tickets and other services digitally.Rohatgi said around 12 lakh crore demonetized currency notes have come back to the banking system. He submitted that economic policy decisions should not be judicially reviewed. While Rohatgi was making submissions, senior advocate and former finance minister P Chidambaram said there are only four lakh crore new currency notes that have been pumped and since there are only four printing press of RBI and the Centre, it was not possible to substitute demonetized currency notes before six-to-seven months.Chidambaram, Sibal and former foreign minister and senior advocate Salman Khurshid, appearing for different clients, were quite vocal and critical of the Centre’s move on demonetization. Chidambaram said that the government is “rationing” the currency distribution because the short fall is going to continue for quite sometime. He raised the issue of district cooperative banks which have been barred from accepting deposits in old demonetised notes and said that lakhs of peoples, specially farmers, are suffering due this.”I don’t see any farmers here. This is all bogey,” the Attorney General responded curtly. When the bench sought to know about the feasibility of allowing cooperative banks to accept deposits with stricter regulations, Rohatgi said it cannot be done as there are several practical impediments. Dealing with some of the impediments, he said accounts with the cooperative banks are not “KYC (know your customer) compliants” and as the societies are the account holders, it would be difficult to ascertain which individual member has deposited what amount.Instead of RBI, these cooperative banks are being regulated by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) and it is the matter of common knowledge as to who run these banks in various states, Rohatgi said. As lawyers were trying to out-shout each other for being heard, the CJI expressed his dismay, saying, “I have served 23 years on the bench and never seen such an unruly behaviour from the advocates.” The CJI said that he was in his last week as a judge and would be “going with a heavy heart” that lawyers behave in such a manner on sensitive issue like demonetization.The bench then cited the example of Chidambaram waiting patiently for his turn and said that you all should look at him. The Attorney General said that there are over one lakh societies in the country and “only God knows how many persons are behind them (societies).” He refuted the submission of Chidambaram that farmers are at the receiving end saying “this is all in the air. They can go and deposit in a nearby State Bank branch or any other bank”.When Sibal said that many farmers have no other bank accounts, Rohatgi said they can open now also. The top court had on December 2 asked the Centre to spell out the measures taken to ease suffering of and inconvenience to the people in rural areas. The Centre had on November 24 filed an affidavit in the apex court on demonetization and had said that the “bold move” would eradicate black money and slush funds operating since Independence which cast a “parallel economy” hitting the poor and the middle class.On November 29, the apex court had agreed to hear pleas of 14 cooperative banks of Kerala seeking its nod to transact business like banks and others seeking demonetization of any currency note higher than Rs 100 denomination.

Kashmir unrest: Rights group accuses India of ‘indiscriminate’ use of force against protesters

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> A US-based health rights group has accused Indian security forces of “excessive” and “indiscriminate” use of force against protesters with weapons like pellet guns during clashes in Kashmir this year, resulting in injuries and deaths.In their report, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) describes the excessive and indiscriminate use of force against protesters by Indian state police and Central Reserve Police Force with weapons misleadingly represented as “less than lethal”.These included tear gas grenades, pepper gas shells, live ammunition, and 12-gauge shotguns loaded with metal pellets, which account for the majority of injuries, it said in a report yesterday.”While Indian authorities claimed that the use of these weapons was meant to reduce the potential for injuries or fatalities, PHR researchers found that their use had in fact caused serious injury and death,” a media release said.It also accused security forces of using “intimidation tactics” against medical workers attempting to treat the injured.PHR said it found that authorities actively impeded protesters’ access to urgent medical care, both by harassing medical workers attempting to treat protesters and by preventing doctors from reaching the hospitals where they work.PHR called upon the Indian government to demonstrate its respect for the rights of all citizens by: prohibiting weapons for crowd control that are indiscriminate and cause excessive injury and death, namely the 12-gauge shotgun loaded with No9 shot; and provide adequate equipment and training to police forces to minimize injuries and deaths caused by police action.It also called upon India to cease unlawful practices that obstruct access to health care.

Woman who lost husband in 26/11 set to complete HSC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>November 26, 2008 is a day Mumbai never forgets. The terrorist attack resulted in hundreds of deaths and left citizens on edge. While the day affected everyone, several individuals have shared inspiring stories of how they picked themselves up after losing a loved one. An anonymous woman, who was profiled on Humans of Bombay on Sunday, shared her story of how she completed her education after she lost her husband at Mumbai CST.“I’ve always been a homemaker while my husband worked at the railway station. We were very content with our lives,” she said.The woman spent most of her time raising her two daughters, while her husband would work. One day, she fell ill and the family faced difficulties. It was at this time when her husband requested his mother to come from their native place in Bihar to take care of his wife. “After a few months when I recovered and my mother-in-law was leaving to return to Patna, my husband went alone to drop her off at the station, sometime around 9 pm. I was sleeping when my sister-in-law called me around 10 pm, told me about the attacks and said my husband wasn’t answering his phone. I rushed down to the phone booth to call him and after trying many times someone finally picked up and said, ‘the person who’s phone this is, is dead; come claim the body’.It took the woman a few months to recover, but as time went by she began pulling herself together. “I had two daughters who had their whole lives in front of them and I had to make sure that I did everything I could to educate them better. I received compensation from the government which I used for their education and to take care of the house and my mother. I was also offered a job by the Railways, but since I had only studied till Class VIII, I couldn’t get a job that paid me half as well, but I took it anyway. I wanted to set a better example for my daughters, so after a few months I decided to join school again,” she recalls.During that period, she would prepare food for her children, drop them to school, go to work, return to make dinner, do her homework and then attend night school. “I have no idea where the strength came from. I just loved that I was educating myself to never feel helpless again—I finally passed my SSC and I am on my way to clearing my HSC and through this time I got my promotion as well.”While remembering her husband, the woman says she knows that he would be proud. “Sometimes life takes people away. I still sometimes question why 26/11 had to ever happen, but the only way to fight back is to not give up. Every year, that day marks the death anniversary of my partner, but it also remains the day I became independent, where I didn’t succumb to the terror but used the pain to make my girls and me stronger.”

SC to hear pleas on demonetization on December 9

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The crucial hearing on the measures taken by the Centre to ease suffering of and inconvenience to people in rural areas, who are mostly dependent on cooperative banks, post-demonetization will be taken up by the Supreme Court on December 9.The apex court could not take up the matter today, as scheduled earlier, since Chief Justice TS Thakur, who had to head the bench, did not hold the court. The top court had on December 2 asked the Centre to spell out the measures taken to ease suffering of and inconvenience to the people in rural areas. While hearing a batch of pleas challenging various aspects of demonetization, the court had said that all the parties should sit together and prepare a list of categories of cases which could be referred to high courts and those that could be heard by the apex court.Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Centre, had said that the government was aware of the situation in cooperative banks which lack proper infrastructure and mechanism as compared to scheduled banks.The submission came after senior advocate P Chidambaram, appearing for cooperative banks, questioned the government’s decision, saying that the rural economy was almost paralysed due to non-inclusion of cooperative banks. The court was hearing a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the decision to demonetise Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes, besides on the issue of inconvenience faced by the common man due to it.It had also asked the Attorney General to file an additional affidavit explaining the “schemes and steps” taken to ease the situation that has arisen due to demonetization.The Centre has recently moved the apex court seeking transfer of all the petitions pending in various high courts to either the Supreme Court or one of the high courts. It had on November 24 filed an affidavit in the apex court on demonetization and had said that the “bold move” would eradicate black money and slush funds operating since Independence which cast a “parallel economy” hitting the poor and the middle class. On November 29, the apex court had agreed to hear pleas of 14 cooperative banks of Kerala seeking its nod to transact business like banks and others seeking demonetization of any currency note higher than Rs 100 denomination.

Fire breaks out at South City Mall in Kolkata

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A major fire broke out at South City Mall in Kolkata on Sunday morning and as many as 15 fire tenders were rushed to the spot. Two hydraulic ladders were also pressed into service. Disaster Management Group officials are stationed outside the mall.Since the entire third floor was engulfed in smoke, firefighters put on oxygen masks to reach the spot where the fire was.The fire broke out at around 9.15am on the third floor of the mall, where the food court is housed. While no injuries were reported in the incident, all those who had reached the mall to watch the day’s first movie show were safely evacuated.”Prima facie it seems the fire was caused due to a short circuit. No one was trapped inside the mall. We are trying to douse the fire as soon as possible,” said Kolkata Mayor Sovan Chatterjee.Meanwhile, the electricity supply has been disconnected in the mall.

Codify Personal law in two to three years, Muslim women

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Buoyed by the success of having equal rights access restored at the Haji Ali Daargah in the sense that both men and women will be allowed to the same point, the Bharatiya Muslims Mahila Andolan (BMMA) which had filed a public interest litigation demanded codification of personal law in two to three years and pledged to renew their fight to ban instant triple talaq and nikah halala. The group has also filed a public interest litigation (PIL) on the same with the Supreme Court. On Thursday while celebrating a decade of their existence at the Marathi Patrakar Sangh, the group also presented case studies of women who continued to suffer due to them. These included women from across the country who had gathered including Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Bangalore and West Bengal among others. While some did not want their identities to be disclosed, others like Shabista Shaikh from Maharashtra did. “My husband one fine day said triple talaq over phone and ended our marriage. He was having an affair. Today I have a son to look after. He goes around telling everyone that I am mad. Was I not mad till the time I had a son?,” said Shaikh reciting her story. While hers was a case of direct divorce, Nagma, one of the members of BMMA from Rajasthan described how a woman in her state was divorced through triple talaq twice after being raped. “She was married and this person raped her and took her pictures. Those were shown to her husband. Her husband divorced her. She was married again but again through triple talaq she was divorced. The police is not even willing take an FIR,” informed Nagma about the case study. Cases studies of women getting to see their children after 22 years after triple talaq and that women’s consent not being considered while divorce were raised in the meet. Neha Khan, another victim of triple talaq who had come from MP said, “My question to the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) is that when Nikah is conducted, our consent is taken first. Should that not also be the case during divroce. They should tell us that.””Even though members of All India Personal Law Board call us names, use filthy language to describe us, we will now go ahead with renewed vigour to demand abolition of (instant) triple talaq and nikah halala,” said Noorjehan Safia Niaz, co-convenor of BMMA. “In two to three years we also want the Muslim personal law to be codified should include age of marriage, custody, property rights among others. We do not recognize authority of personal law board. We have decided that we not going to be afraid and get cowed down by them or threats,” said Zakia Soman, co-convenor of BMMA.BMMA decides to rest Dargah fight for now The Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) has decided to rest their case on Haji Ali Dargah. “Restoring status quo prior to 2011 when both men and women were allowed to touch the grave at the Haji Ali Dargah would have been ideal. But for now we are resting our case because we have got the legal and moral victory, trustees were good to us and at least no discrimination stands now. We have too much work before us so we are resting the Haji Ali Dargah matter for now,” said Soman.

War on black money: At least 50 people nabbed, over Rs 90 crores cash seized after demonetization

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In the three weeks since PM Modi announced the demonetization decision, at least 100 cases have been reported of large amounts of cash being seized by authorities across the country.Though there seems to be divided opinion on the planning, implementation and after-effects of demonetization, it has also given sleepless nights to several black money hoarders. While there have been reports of people burning or throwing demonetized Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes in dustbins and rivers, there have also been instances where people have been caught red-handed trying to hide, exchange or find other ways to convert any untaxed or black money.On the basis of media reports so far, around Rs 90 crore has been seized in old and new currency and around 57 people have been detained and arrested since November 10. The maximum number of incidents were reported from Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi and Bihar. Two cases involving BJP leaders were also reported from Maharashtra and Gujarat, where money amounting to Rs 91.5 lakh and Rs 31 lakh respectively was seized.
ALSO READ Jan Dhan deposits jump to Rs 64,250 crore, Uttar Pradesh leadsThough, no official figure on fraudulent transactions is available yet, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has released data on the deposits made since November 8. A total of Rs 2.99 lakh crore was reportedly deposited in banks from November 19 to 27, while Rs 5.11 lakh crore was deposited between November 10 to 19. There has also been a sharp increase in Jan Dhan deposits across the country. Rs 27,200 crore were deposited in 25.68 crore accounts in just 14 days, from November 9 to 23, while the deposits before November 9 amounted to Rs 45,636.61 crore.While those trying to hide their black money are finding loopholes in the system, the government is trying to avoid leaks. Income Tax Amendment Bill which was passed by Lok Sabha on Tuesday proposes 85% tax plus penalties for those caught illegally converting money, while those who disclose black money will have to pay 50% tax, out of which 25% will be returned after four years.
ALSO READ War on black money: 50% tax on unaccounted deposits, 85% tax if caughtIn order to ensure that people do not deposit someone else’s unaccounted black money in their account, it was earlier declared that the Income Tax department would punish the violators of newly enforced Benami Transactions Act with penalty, prosecution and rigourous jail term of a maximum seven years. PM Modi had on November 8 declared that Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes would not be legal tender starting midnight that evening, which sent a wave of panic across the country. Opposition parties, who are not happy with this decision of the government have been protesting against demonetization in Parliament for the last 10 days, while blaming the PM for 82 deaths related to bank hassles that took place after the announcement was made.

From Vicco ads to crying babies: 5 other issues SC needs to tackle in theatres after national anthem

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>We ought to be thankful that we live in a country where the apex court of the land is always at hand to hand out important judgements that affect citizens. Despite a shortage of judges, which has led to a passive-aggressive ‘don’t cross the Lakshman Rekha fight with the Centre’, an SC bench was at hand to hand out a landmark judgement ordering all theatres to screen the national anthem before films. The SC bench also added that all present must ‘stand up in respect’ till it ended. They felt that the practice would ‘instil a feeling within one a sense of committed patriotism and nationalism.’ There was also a purely existential moment when Justice Mishra remarked: “People must feel this is my country. This is my motherland… Arrey, who are you? You are an Indian first. In other countries, you respect their restrictions. In India, you do not want any restrictions?”Now as grateful as one is to the SC for being the cheerleader for pre-screening nationalism, one must hope that SC will also take cognizance of the other atrocities that take place in an Indian movie theatre, even the ones they call multiplexes. Here are some of them:Exorbitant ticket prices and cost of snacks How can we call ourselves a democracy when a Sidharth Malhotra film like Baar Baar Dekho can set an individual back by Rs 400? Isn’t it enough that one has suspended all disbelief and acknowledged that Sid is a genius mathematician? Surely, this isn’t why the Army is defending the nation at the border?And while we’re at can anyone explain how a tub of popcorn, even with a smidgen of cheese and caramel on it costs Rs 300. No economist worth his salt (which barely exists in the popcorn tub) has ever been able to explain the exorbitant price, and one must conclude that the only reason for this is that all theatres are money-laundering fronts. Vicco Turmeric cream ads While we’re on the subject of pre-movie videos, perhaps we need to talk about the other videos that are thrust upon us before the main event starts. They usually consist of insurance ads, smoking cautions and a Vicco turmeric spot which haven’t changed since Independence. Honestly, how is Vicco turmeric still a thing in 2016? Phone overuse during show times And that brings us perhaps to the most heinous type of filmgoer around – the phone-user. The esteemed court must have noticed that cell phones are now more ubiquitous than toilets, and the average human is unable to go 30 seconds without checking his phone. While understandable, none of this excuses the constant interruptions and the SC must figure out a way that a patriotic movie-goer’s experience isn’t ruined by these modern contraptions.Nepotism in BollywoodNow this isn’t a purely theatre-based problem, but since the judiciary has a deep understanding of the nepotism problem, perhaps they can help us with the end product that is vitiating our movie-going experience. How many times must we endure Abhishek Bachchan and Uday Chopra, simply because they were born in the wrong family? How many years do we give Varun Dhawan before he does an Alia, and can show a semblance of acting skills? Now before some smart-aleck reader points out that I’ve the choice, to not go to watch them, the SC order has made it clear, that in the theatre, a man’s gotta do, exactly what a man’s gotta do.People making out and crying babies And the last point of contention is reserves for those unruly elements who feel that just because they’ve shelved out the money, they can do anything in a theatre. Surely, there’s someone who can put an end to this tonsil hockey game. And while they’re at it, might they also consider the case of individuals who like to show off they’ve had coital relationships by bringing their new-borns to movie theatres.Now one barely agrees with social media enthusiast and US President-elect Donald Trump, but there’s a time and place for babies, and a rally, just like a movie theatre is not one of them. One is extremely hopeful that the country’s judiciary will take my complaints as seriously as they did Shyam Narayan Chouskey’s complaint who got the ball rolling in 2001 when he complained that audiences didn’t stand up when the national anthem played during Karan Johar’s Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gham! Bharat Mata Ki Jai. Jana Gana Mana… (hope you’re standing).

Demonetisation: As salary day heightens cash crunch, we may be facing a nightmare

Banks and customers may be staring at a nightmarish week ahead as demand for cash is expected to see a sudden spike with customers queuing up to withdraw their salaries to settle monthly bills.

The informal sector staff, especially domestic helps, newspaper vendors, milk seller and the like, are likely to be impacted the most as these segments of population are yet to go digital fully despite the government push.

Though the increase in demand is a usual occurrence at the beginning of every month, this time it is going to be different as this is the first salary withdrawal after the demonetisation-induced cash crunch started affecting the normal life of many in the country.

To be sure, the authorities are assuring everything is being taken care of. They insist that there is enough cash available with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and banks. But the ground situation belies such assurances. The truth is there is no cash with either the banks or at the ATMs.

ReutersReuters

Reuters

What has aggravated the problem is the short supply of Rs 500 and Rs 100 notes. While banks are willing to give away Rs 2,000 notes and ATMs are loaded with these high denomination notes, customers are not willing to take these. The demand is for smaller denominations, which is in short supply.

A report in The Times of India cites a banking official as saying that the smaller denomination notes now available are not even adequate to meet even one percent of the demand.

And the demand for cash is indeed going to be high. The fact is despite the government’s push towards a cashless economy, very few people in the informal sector have adapted to digital payments. For instance, payments to the maid in the beginning of the month has to be made in cash. Like maids, many others like the milkman, newspaper man, etc., have not come online yet. Rather, it cannot happen overnight no matter how much ever the government forces them to go cashless.

“I have to a lot of payments to be made in cash around 30 November. And in my personal experience at banks, they have not been able to meet my demand for cash,” an economist at a domestic brokerage said.

Interestingly, there is not even data available on how much is the usual withdrawals during the beginning of the month.

“The only way to arrive at a ballpark figure is by looking at the salary bill of the government and drawing a monthly figure from that. Of this figure, around 70 percent is usually withdrawals as 30 percent is the savings rate. But that only gives us the figure for public sector employees,” says Madan Sabnavis of Care Ratings.

What is adding to the confusion is the lack of regular updates either from the government or the Reserve Bank of India on the evolving situation. Because of this, even after 22 days of the demonetisation announcement, the general public remains clueless what exactly is the current situation.

Prime minister Narendra Modi and his supporters have been harping on many things – from ending terrorism to moving to a cashless economy. But, on the ground, the common man knows only one thing – that the cash crunch is biting. And in the next few days, expect the situation to only get worse.

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 10:14 IST

SC collegium has failed to recommend a single name in a year: Govt hits back at CJI

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Facing flak from the Chief Justice of India over rising vacancies in the high courts, the government cited data to hit back on Tuesday, saying the Supreme Court collegium has failed to recommend even a single name in the past one year even as seven posts are lying vacant in the apex court.The government also reminded that out of 430 vacancies in the high courts, no recommendation has been received for 279 posts from any of the 24 high courts. “There are seven vacancies in the Supreme Court, with one from as long as one year. No recommendation has been made to the government from the Supreme Court collegium,” a highly- placed source said on Tuesday.He pointed out that between 2015 and 2016, a total of 370 proposals were received from various high courts. Out of these, 328 were processed and sent to the Supreme Court collegium, which in turn processed 290 and held back 38 names. “Out of the 290 names, the SC collegium rejected 99 names and recommended 191 names. At 34.13%, it is one of the highest rejection rate. It only underscores the importance of improving the appraisal system against the backdrop of SC judgement on improving the collegium system,” the source said.Out of the 191 names recommended by the SC collegium, government has appointed 120 as judges. The source said 28 more names have been received by the government for high courts which are “under process”.Since 1990s the appointment average has been 80 high court judges. While the maximum was 121 in 2013, the present government has appointed 120 judges this year. Responding to a question on vacancies in lower judiciary, the source said it id the prerogative of the high courts and the Centre has no role.There are 4,937 vacancies as on June 30 out of a sanctioned strength of 21,320. To a poser on the delay on the part of the SC collegium to respond to the revised draft of memorandum of procedure, the source said the collegium will now have to take a call on whether to make new appointments on the old MoP or the new document as the apex court had in December ordered that the collegium system need to be made more transparent.

Demonetization: Income Tax Amendment Bill passed in Lok Sabha without debate

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amid a din, a bill which seeks to tax money deposited in banks post demonetization was passed in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday within minutes without any debate. Amid fierce slogan shouting by the opposition, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the Taxation Laws (2nd Amendment) Bill, 2016 was brought after it came to the government’s notice that some people were trying to illegally exchange the demonetised Rs 1000 and Rs 500 currency notes.He said as per the amendment proposed, those caught illegally converting money will have to cough up 60% tax plus penalties, which will come to 85%. Those who disclose black money to banks will have to pay 50% tax, including surcharge and penalty. While they will get back 25% immediately, the rest 25% will be returned after 4 years. “It will give means to the Government of India to run schemes like Garib Kalyan Kosh…I urge the House to accept the amendments,” he said.Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said since the bill is of urgent public importance, it has to be passed immediately. Though she wanted a debate, she said “it is impossible” because of the behaviour of the opposition members. She also disallowed some amendments moved by opposition members as they required approval of the President which could not be obtained.
ALSO READ PM Modi will speak in Parliament if demonetization debate takes place: BJPTwo amendments by NK Premchandran (RSP) and B Mahtab (BJD) were allowed. While Premchandran refused to move the amendment as he was shouting slogans, Mahtab’s was negated by a voice vote. The Bill was later passed by a voice vote amid din.Earlier, several opposition members said the bill could not be discussed before the debate on demonetization as the measure was a follow up of the note ban decision. Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and TMC’s Sudip Bandhopadhyay said the two — Adjournment Motion on demonetization and the Income Tax Amendment Bill can be discussed together as the issues were similar.Saugat Roy (TMC) said since Jaitley introduced the Bill “surreptiously” and “stealthily” amid din on Monday, the opposition did not get a chance to oppose its introduction as per rules. B Mahtab said discussion on demonetization was also necessary along with a debate on the bill as it had serious repercussions on the Income Tax laws. He said a way should be found.When opposition members questioned bringing the bill for consideration and passage on Tuesday at a short notice, Jaitley and Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said they were casting aspersions on the Chair. Soon members rushed to the Well and kept shouting slogans till the bill was passed. Soon the House was adjourned for the day.

Opposition protest, confusion runs supreme

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amidst utter confusion, whether there is call for a ‘Bharat Bandh’ or ‘Jan Aakrosh Divas’, Opposition parties on Monday hit the streets across the country to protest against scrapping of high-value notes. While the Congress said that there is no call for a strike and call was only for protests, the Left parties enforced a 12-hour bandh in West Bengal. It was, however, not supported by the ruling Trinamool Congress which is most vocal against the note ban. Taking advantage of confusion, the ruling BJP members also hit the markets, launching ‘Jan Abhaar Divas’ – a day to express gratitude to people for ignoring strike. At many places, they offered sweets and flowers to traders, who had not closed shutters. Further Nitish Kumar’s abstention robbed the ‘nationwide protests’ its strength.The state-wide 12-hour strike called by the Left parties to protest demonetization failed to evoke much response in West Bengal. It evoked a partial response in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. In Bihar workers of RJD, Congress and Left parties disrupted train services at many places, but offices and schools registered normal attendance. In Kerala, the shutdown called by Kerala’s ruling LDF on Monday was total. The protest affected the functioning of both the Houses of Karnataka Legislature, but the state remained normal.In Delhi, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad clarified that the Opposition parties had never called for any strike, as it would have caused inconvenience to people. “We had called for Jan Akrosh Divas and not Bharat Bandh,” he said. He claimed that lakhs of angry and anguished people participated in the protests. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee threatened to demonstrate outside Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s residence against demonetization, vowing to dislodge him from the seat of power if the scrapping of high value currency notes is not withdrawn. “The entire country is suffering. There is no money in banks, ATMS. So far 80 people have died due to the hardships caused by demonetization. But Narendra Modi is having a sound sleep and giving lectures on taking the country towards cashless economy,” she told a rally in Kolkata.Congress party chief spokesman Randeep Surjewala told a press conference that the ruling alliance was not able to fathom the pain and anger of 125 crore. More than 20,000 beating ‘thalis’ thronged a march organised by Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken in the evening from the Mandi House to Jantar Mantar. Surjewala released a list of rules and directives on demonetization changed 105 times in the last 19 days to point out how the entire country has left the country confused.He said entire informal sector comprising of 90% of India is in deep distress. There are only 2.4 crore credit card holders and 9 crore debit card holders in and many these are held in multiples by one person. As per the RBI figures of June, 2016, there were 48 crore transactions worth Rs2293 crore through these cards. While mobile wallets have grown by 500%, after the demonetization, the amount transacted has been only Rs11,000 crore, a miniscule figure compared to the cash withdrawn, Surjiwala said.In supportNotwithstanding, the Opposition protests, Nandan Nilekani, who was head of previous UPA government’s Aadhaar project, supported the government’s ban on high-value notes. He said while the credit for creating the Aadhaar system goes to the UPA government, Dr Manmohan Singh, he was grateful to PM Modi for taking it forward. “A lot will depend on the next three months. If they accelerate digitization… long-term, it will be a very good development,” he said.

Opposition divided over ways to protest demonetization today

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The demonetization exercise by the Modi government has brought a rarely seen unity among opposition parties, but they stand divided over the way they would protest against the measure on Monday. While the Left parties, including the CPI(M) and CPI have called a 12-hour bandh to protest against demonetization of old high-value currency notes in West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee’s TMC will not join it and only hold protests. The Congress too has decided not to go for a bandh. Senior party leader Jairam Ramesh said no ‘Bharat Bandh’ has been called by the party which will hold nation-wide protests as part of ‘Jan Aakrosh Diwas’.The JD(U) has decided not to participate in the protests by opposition parties on Monday or West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s proposed dharna in Patna on November 30 after its leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar welcomed the demonetization decision.”We have supported he Centre’s demonetization move. How can we oppose or be the part of activity like bandh which is meant to protest the issue which our party has strongly supported,” Bihar unit JD(U) President Bashishtha Narayan Singh said. “JD(U) will not be part of any agitation against demonetization including the dharna by Mamata Banerjee on November 30 in Patna,” party Secretary General K C Tyagi said. “We have taken an ideological position in favour of demonetization so how can we be part of any agitation seeking its roll back,” Tyagi said.Odisha’s ruling BJP will also not join the protests with its leader and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik having hailed the demonetization decision. The opposition parties have been divided over the ways to protest against demonetization ever since Mamata Banerjee decided to march to the President against it. While she was joined by AAP, National Conference and Shiv Sena, an NDA ally, other opposition parties stayed away. Shiv Sena has backed demonetization but is unhappy over the way it was causing problems to people.Mamata’s TMC and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP are the only parties which have demanded a roll back of the exercise, while other parties have voiced displeasure over the way it was being implemented which was causing hardship to common people.

I know the child is not mine

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Smiles and some significant bellies welcome you when you climb the stairs of the ‘surrogacy hostel’ that houses 21 women in various stages of pregnancy waiting to deliver the ‘tenant’ child. A short drive off the Gurugram highway, the hostel in a small residential colony in this suburban town adjoining New Delhi is run by an organisation promising a ‘complete solution to surrogacy needs’, including ‘surrogate care’, in the National Capital Region (NCR). In the large common area, the women, some with young children tucked by their side, sit around watching television.Most of them are unaware that the government introduced a bill in the Lok Sabha banning commercial surrogacy three days ago on November 21. Amongst them is Jira, who is 34 weeks pregnant. Jira is carrying a baby for a childless couple (they discovered a year ago that the wife didn’t have a uterus) who found her through the agency and agreed to pay Rs 6,85,000 for a healthy child. While she’ll receive Rs 3 lakh in installments during her pregnancy and after the delivery, the rest would be used by the agency for managing the hostel and providing medical care and food. She can visit her family for a week after the first trimester; and her husband can visit her whenever he wants. Her younger child lives with her in the hostel. “I’m just renting my womb for Rs 3 lakh to a woman who needs a child,” says Jira, who came from Champaran in Bihar to Delhi six years ago with her husband. They have two children, aged eight and two-and-a-half years old.This is Jira’s second time as a surrogate mother. She needed the money then, and she needs it now. “My brother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer seven years back. We took a big loan for his treatment. But he died and we are heavily in debt. We moved to Delhi to find work in factories,” she says. “A lady at my last workplace told me about surrogacy and the money it provided. We were counselled by the doctors who confirmed that no intercourse would be involved as they will only inject an egg into me.”Legally speakingPeople such as Jira and the couple will be impacted by the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016. It is the first step towards preventing the exploitation of poor women by prohibiting commercial surrogacy, a thriving industry that sees 2,000 cases in Delhi/NCR alone. As per the bill, Indian heterosexual couples who are legally married for at least five years can try for surrogacy after they produce necessary documents to confirm that they cannot reproduce/procreate. The surrogacy will only be possible with a relative who is married, has a child and has never been a surrogate before. While there is a need to regulate the industry, some believe that the ban would be unfair on both sides—to the surrogate mother and the parents-to-be.“Commercial surrogacy ban is a way to sideline women who do not have a uterus,” says Dr Abha Majumdar, director and head of IVF and Human Reproduction at Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi. “The law should be such that it safeguards the women who bear children for others; it shouldn’t call them or the child illegal. With this law we are risking women, who cannot have children, their homes. Surrogacy is the only option for those who marry into families that want them to bear children.” The introduction of the new law will be helpful only to married couples who can successfully convince a relative to be a surrogate for them. It does not provide any solutions for single parents, homosexuals, divorced or couples who live together. “If the law is introduced, surrogates will still bear children commercially, but there will be no guarantee of them getting paid,” warns Majumdar. “We should instead look at removing the middleman, safeguard the surrogate and provide better health facilities.”

India: 6% girls experience harassment before age 10, 41% before age 19

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>More than four in every 10 women in India experience harassment or violence before they attain the age of 19, a survey has found. The survey conducted by NGO ActionAid in four countries showed that 41% of Indian women experienced harassment before they attained the age of 19.6% of them experienced harassment before the age of 10 years in India, followed by Brazil (16%), the UK (12%) and Thailand (8%). “41% of women in India have experienced some form of violence or harassment in the past month. The figure is even higher in other countries as 67% of women polled in Thailand and 87% in Brazil having been subjected to harassment or violence in the past month. In UK, 57% women experienced the same. “More than one in four (26%) women in India said they have been groped in the past month, while 20% women in Brazil, 26% in Thailand and 16% in the UK were groped,” according to the survey report released on Friday.The survey was commissioned to mark International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women. The survey found that 82% of women in India said they have taken step to protect themselves against harassment. This figure rises to 91% for women between 25 and 34 years old. Steps range from avoiding parks and poorly lit areas (35%) and changing a travel route (36%) to using an everyday object like keys as a weapon (23%) or carrying a protective device such as a rape alarm or pepper spray (18%).”Cross country findings suggest immediate actions are needed on part of societies and governments to curb harassment and violence against women. While awareness on rights of women, women’s abilities and potential has seen incremental advances over the last decades, we are still a long way off to realize a promise of a just and equal world.”Threats to safety of women is directly related to the patriarchal mindsets that manifests itself in streets, workplace and at homes. On International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women, ActionAid India urges all nations to take effective steps to challenge these patriarchal mindsets and sexist attitudes which are the root causes of this culture of harassment and violence against women,” said Sandeep Chachra, Executive Director at ActionAid India.

Villagers club leopard to death in Mandawar village

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A tense drama unfolded for nearly three hours on Thursday morning in Mandawar village, 30 km from Gurgaon, as a leopard, which had strayed into the village and injured nine people, was clubbed to death by a mob of hundreds.Forest guards were among those injured by the leopard and they were taken to the Sohna civil hospital. Residents of Mandawar, located at the foothills of Aravallis, spotted the 2.5-year-old leopard around 8 am after it was found crouching under a cot.While some immediately locked themselves up in their homes, several others pursued the wild cat with sticks, rods and axes. The villagers were quick to make a distress call to the Gurgaon Forest Department, and a team of nearly 10 was dispatched to the spot to tranquillize and capture the leopard.”The leopard did not attack anyone immediately. First it moved around the village, moving away from residents. It entered a cattle shed and later hid beside a nearby farmhouse. As the villagers closed in, it entered a nullah. By this time, the mob had grown in numbers and the leopard dashed towards them. Even our staff was beaten up by the villagers,” said MD Sinha, Conservator of Forests, Gurgaon circle.The leopard clawed at people and bit a few as it ran and climbed houses in the village. Soon, residents of neighbouring areas too joined and the Forest Department could not control the large mob. According to sources, as the leopard was about to attack one villager, the mob struck it on its head with axes and large sticks. It was overpowered and the spotted cat died on the spot.”Since the mob was out of control, there was no clear line of sight to aim the tranquillizer at the leopard. We also had difficulty retrieving the leopard’s body as villagers surrounded it,” added a forest official at the spot. The leopard’s body was sent for a post-mortem to the Sultanpur National Park and it was cremated soon after. The Forest Department has registered a case against unknown persons for killing the leopard, which is listed as a Schedule I endangered species under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.Encroachment of forest land and increasing human habitation near the Bandhwari-Mangar Bani forest of Aravallis are posing a threat to leopards, forest officials said. “While human life is certainly more important, we also need to curb the pressure on this dense and contiguous forest stretch,” added Sinha. The Bandhwari to Damdama forest, including Mangar Bani, is spread across more than 5,000 hectares on a 30-km stretch. While this stretch is home to an estimated 30 leopards, the Gurgaon forest circle confirmed through camera trap images the presence of five leopards in Gurgaon.

Demonetization ka side effect: Illegal opium trade in West Bengal’s Malda goes up in smoke

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has been vociferous in her criticism of demonetization, claiming the rural economy will be jeopardised by it. But in Malda, in North Bengal, demonetization has also affected the illegal opium trade in a big way.Malda is also a hub for illegal arms, cow smuggling and is referred to as India’s fake currency capital.The National Investigating Agency (NIA) in a report last year said that 90% of Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN) pushed into the country from Pakistan is routed through Bangladesh. Since Malda shares a porous border with Bangladesh, carriers smuggle the FICN into the country from here and release it into circulation. “Malda works as a landing point for agents, who circulate fake currency into the country. Malda shares its border with Nepal and Bhutan in the north and Bangladesh in the south. Agents who come from Bangladesh can easily sneak into our country as most of the International Border does not have fencing. Some agents even produce fake documents while entering our country,” a senior NIA official said.While the Bengal government has banned the cultivation of opium poppy, illicit opium trade has become rampant in the district and is partially dependent on the fake currency in circulation. Opium is a derivative of the poppy seed pod. Its cultivation takes place across three months – November, December and January in Malda. Agents from Bangladesh smuggle the poppy seeds and give it farmers. Farmers in return are increasingly cultivating the poppy seeds for better returns compared to the cultivation of other crops. “A bigha (0.4005 acres) of cultivable land yields 4 kgs of opium latex. The farmers scrape the latex before the poppy seeds mature and the latex is dried. For one kg of opium latex, a farmer is offered anywhere between Rs 60,000 – Rs 65,000 by the agent. Later, the villagers, who double up for the carriers, deliver the consignment from one point to another and receive a handsome amount of money, mostly fake currency notes. A carrier is supposed to cover a distance of 100 metres, which makes it difficult for the security agencies to keep track, as the entire village is engaged in it,” said a carrier, adding, “The final carrier hands it over to the agent and he deals with the drug mafias and the agents are paid Rs 1 lac for a kg of opium. The drug mafia later sends the consignment to other districts of Bengal like Birbhum and Murshidabad for processing. The opium latex is further processed into heroin and smuggled across the International Border into Bangladesh.” However, following the demonetization move, the opium trade has taken a hit and farmers are being offered Rs 30,000 for a kg of opium latex. “It is usually one of the most lucrative businesses. Cultivation of other crops depends highly on the rainfall we receive that particular year. But, cultivation of poppy is a great deal as it only takes three months to grow. It does not destroy the quality of the soil and keeps it ready for the cultivation of any other crop for the rest of the months. But, following the demonetization, we are being offered only half the amount of what was promised,” said a farmer, who refused to be named. He added, “The money that we used to receive also contained fake currency notes, but we did not mind as the fake notes were accepted anywhere in the district. Thousands of fake notes are in circulation in the district and no one refuses to accept it, hence we did not mind accepting those notes in the form of payment.” In the last five years, poppy cultivation has increased many folds. While the Kaliachawk-III was known for its poppy cultivation, it has now spread across Kaliachawk-I, II and Chachol-I, II besides blocks like Gajol, Bamongola and Habibpur. While the local police is taking up modern techniques like the use of drones to identify poppy fields and destroy them, farmers grow crops like sugarcane and maize on the periphery and use it as camouflage, making it difficult for identification. Last year, police reportedly destroyed several hundred acres of poppy fields. However, officials of the security agency reveal that some local police officials are hand in glove with the drug mafia and are often paid a commission to prevent destruction of their fields.

Demonetization: Now you can book a ‘chotu’ for Rs 90/hour to stand in an ATM line for you!

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>PM Modi’s war on black money and the demonetization of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes has shaken the nation. While the country seems split between deciding whether it’s a good or bad move, some entrepreneurial individuals are using this as a clever business opportunity. With many people forced to stand in line to either exchange their notes or deposit them a Delhi-based start-up called Book My Chotu is using it as an opportunity to provide some gainful employment and make some money as well.The Delhi-based start-up which describes itself as ‘first on-demand helper booking website’. A Facebook post from the company claimed: “Are you short of cash? Need a Helper to stand in Queue of the bank / atm till the time your turn comes?? www.bookmychotu.com First on demand helper booking service Hire Hourly Helpers @INR 90 per hr Available in DELHI NCR****Please note our boys will not go inside bank , they will just stand in the queue for our customers as we understand that there can be some emergency and our helpers can help you in the same by saving your valuable time . Also chotu is just a name , all our helpers are above 18yrs of age.Quite cleverly, the company is making sure they are on the right side of the law by not using their employees to go inside the bank and actually exchange the money. CEO and founder Satjeet Singh Bedi told Hindustan Times: “It started when my mother was ill and I needed immediately needed cash. I requested my teammates to stand in the queue in place of me and quickly replaced them when my turn came.”When asked if other people standing in the queues objected, Bedi said that it was already a common practice amongst family members and insisted that ‘chotus’ be treated with respect.

Demonetization: Man commits suicide, another collapses and dies in Kerala

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An elderly man in Kerala allegedly ended his life on Monday fearing he would not be able to withdraw money deposited in a cooperative bank due to demonetization and another collapsed and died while standing in a queue in a bank, police said.A 73-year-old Omanakuttan Pillai from Cheruvillayil in Pamba valley in Kottayam district committed suicide by hanging in his bedroom, they said. Pillai had deposited Rs five lakh in a service Cooperative bank and following demonetization he grew apprehensive that he would not be able to withdraw his money, they said.In another incident, Chandrasekharan (68) collapsed and died while he was standing in a queue at a bank in Kollam district.The retired BSNL employee was waiting in the queue at Nallila branch of State Bank of Travancore during a second visit to the branch when he collapsed, police said.He had visited the branch in the morning, but on seeing the long queue, he returned after lunch to withdraw cash from his account. While waiting to collect his token, he is said to have collapsed.Though he was rushed to the hospital, his life could not be saved, they added.On November 11, a 75-year-old man, standing in a queue at a branch of the State Bank of Travancore, collapsed and died, while another died while filling forms to deposit his scrapped high denomination notes in the state.

Chhattisgarh: CRPF personnel killed, jawan injured in blast by Naxals

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A CRPF personnel was killed on Tuesday and a jawan injured in a pressure bomb blast triggered by Naxals in the dense forests of Chhattisgarh’s insurgency-hit Sukma district. “The incident took place early this morning when a patrolling team of CRPF’s 74th battalion was out on an area domination operation in Chintalnar police station area,” a CRPF official said. While security forces were cordoning off a patch between Burkapal police camp and Chintalnar, jawans inadvertently stepped over a pressure IED (improvised explosive device), concealed beneath the earth, triggering the blast that left Sub Inspector B S Bist and head constable Sudhakar, belonging to 74th battalion, injured, he said.Soon after the incident, reinforcement was rushed to the spot to retrieve the injured personnel, he said. “Sub Inspector Bist succumbed to injuries while being evacuated,” the official said, adding that the injured Sudhakar was airlifted to Jagdalpur for treatment and his condition was said to be out of danger.Yesterday, two jawans of the same CRPF batallion were injured in a pressure bomb blast in Chintalnar area.

Amid House logjam, government and BJP firefight oppn’s note ban offensive

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As business in Parliament remained paralysed, the government and BJP turned their attention to ensuring that they did not lose political capital from demonetization in times of polls. Just when both houses adjourned for the day amidst an Opposition-government standoff on the issue, BJP chief Amit Shah walked into the Parliament House complex and had a 45-minute meeting with finance minister Arun Jaitley in his office. Sources said the agenda of the meeting was political. Finance secretary Shaktikanta Das was also present at the meeting. With elections in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Punjab due early next year, the BJP cannot afford to allow the inconvenience caused to the common man post demonetization, particularly in rural areas, to continue for too long. Sources said government will focus on agriculture sector over the next eight to ten days to make farmers secure during the Rabi season. While the BJP is confident of gaining political mileage from demonetization in the long run, the government would have to take immediate steps to mitigate the hardships in the immediate aftermath of the announcement.Meanwhile, inside Parliament, the government seems to be in no hurry to engage with the Opposition in finding a way out of the deadlock. While the Opposition is insisting on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s presence in Rajya Sabha and an adjournment motion to discuss demonetization in Lok Sabha, the government appears to be buying time before either House debates it.The government has taken a slew of measures—allowing farmers to buy seeds with old Rs 500 notes in Rabi crop sowing season, RBI providing an additional 60 days to repay loans and mulling over giving cooperative banks money which they can disburse through NABARD to help farmers.Hoping that the troubles post demonetization will wane as time goes, the government is adopting a wait and watch approach. While given the majority in Lok Sabha, the government does not have to fear the fallout of an adjournment motion, it could be sensitive about its wording. However, the government is yet to reach out to the Opposition, sources said.The government has not given in to the Opposition demand for the Prime Minister’s intervention in the Upper House, saying their concerns will be answered by the finance minister.

Demonetisation: Chit funds are not black money, govt should relax norms for its continuity

The move by the government to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes by replacing them with new Rs 500 and Rs 2000 notes has taken the country with surprise. The move by the government is to tackle the menace of black money, corruption, terror funding and fake currency.

From an industry perspective, we think that this is a very welcome move by the government and which has taken the black money hoarders with surprise.

PTIPTI

PTI

It is arguably the boldest decision ever taken by the Government of India to curb the black money and reboot the entire financial system. It is very powerful in the sense that it will completely transform the way people of India deal with cash, accounting and paying taxes while using their money.

However, opinion on this decision is very far from a consensus in both the expert and the non-expert realm. The first question raised against this move is the significance of cash as a component of the money laundering networks in India. Economists have argued that this move has left the biggest chunk of black money untouched – the stacks that lie in undisclosed accounts in Swiss Banks.

The next question that may be raised is the preparedness of the government and the banks regarding implementation of a move of this scale. The argument provided for why this move was announced and administered overnight is that it denies hoarders
of black money the chance to dispose of it. While that may appear to be sound logic, it has also apparently impacted the banking system’s ability to ensure a smooth transition. Several ATMs across the nation continue to be useless by virtue of not
having enough fresh notes, while the ones that are refilled are attacked by painfully long lines and eventually emptied at once.

This in turn is the third major question raised against this policy – who is affected the most? The removal of large sums of legal tender unquestionably affects all individuals who need to engage in cash transactions in some form. Those with access
to plastic money are less directly impacted even in the short term, but in both the long and short term, specific sections have been disproportionately hit. Disenfranchised groups who lack the access to ID documents are chief among these.

The rural poor who lack the infrastructure to set up deposit accounts and who currently hold all their money in cash form have been directly hit. Even those who do have access to accounts among them struggle with ill prepared banks and post offices, small and dispersed in number, and the need to take off several crucial hours from work – sometimes in vain. It is also difficult to estimate the numbers of women across the board that will be potentially irrecoverably impacted by this policy – women who do not inform their families of hidden stashes of cash, who are otherwise fully dependent on male members of the family and who stand to lose years of savings because they cannot confess to their presence.

Chit fund, the industry I represent, is an indigenous financial institution serving as an instrument to save and borrow at the same time. It is considered to be one of the efficient financial instruments that cater to the needs of the poor.

Primary users of chit funds are daily wage earners, salaried individuals, housewives and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME). It is used by households for consumption purposes like marriage, buying property, education and also as a way to
save free cash to provide for unforeseen emergencies and to help MSME to accumulate capital.

Though the chit fund industry is large, growing and provides useful financial services to those who are otherwise excluded from formal institutions like commercial banks, the government, even otherwise, has imposed stringent rules that has stymied its progress. For example, the government has fixed the commission at 5 percent of chit value for the chit fund operators for the last fifty years. However, the costs of running a chit have increased manifold during the same time. This has resulted in exodus of many smaller value schemes from registered space to the unregistered space, thus increasing the risk for members. In light of the heightened importance of financial inclusion in the country, it is very ironic that the government has persecuted a sector which efficiently caters to the financial needs of those who are otherwise excluded from the formal banking sector.

While demonetisation is a big boost to the Registered Chit Fund industry, as it would weed out the unregistered operators, it has also, simultaneously, indirectly hit the working of the registered industry. The above referred users of chit fund are used to
making cash payments for their monthly installments and even in case of cheque payments, they first deposit cash in their banks accounts. This cash payment, out of their daily income, is definitely not ‘Black Money’ and still they are being
inconvenienced due to demonetisation. In the absence/delay of this substantial collection, the legitimate chit operators will find it difficult to honor their payout commitments to the subscribers.

In the above scenario, few suggestions for relaxation of norms that could be given are listed below.

a. Allow chit fund companies to accept old high denomination (OHD) currency, till 30 December 2016, only in respect of those transactions wherein the chit subscriber gives a undertaking of it not being unaccounted money. This would help those who are willing to deposit OHD in their account but are unable due to the prevailing chaos at banks.

b. Other financial intermediaries can also be roped in, according to their specific needs, on similar lines.

c. The OHD accepting companies can be directed to file a declaration along with necessary supporting documents at the end of the stipulated period which would act as a deterrent to any misuse of the relaxation.

It would seem that my wish list is quite long, but the above-listed financial intermediaries, can also help in OHD exchange process if due precautions are put in place. This will also, to some extent, help control the chaos at banks.

While it is too soon to declare whether the long-term gains are indeed forthcoming, the “short term” sacrifices have been more than just significant. They have been immensely painful.

As we all know, nations were never built in a day and stepping stones like these may not be easy to traverse but are essential to reach the final destination. While the masses are ready for these adjustments and sacrifices, the Government should also
fine tune the existing legislations and facilitate smoother transition and take necessary steps in this regard.

To conclude, demonetisation comes with immense benefit but the government of India should also consider about informal sector where most of the payment is in cash only. Hence we can say the move is good but Utilitarian Principle would make it further better.

The writer is general secretary of All India Association of Chit Funds (AIACF).

First Published On : Nov 21, 2016 18:41 IST

Demonetisation: Is the Supreme Court poised to jump into the currency ban vortex?

In the past couple of days, the print and visual media have carried reports that the Supreme Court has called on the central government for details of the difficulties caused to the ‘common man’ and the measures to ameliorate them. This was in response to some PILs brought up before them.

One would have normally expected the apex court to have summarily dismissed the PILs, mentioning that the action was squarely in the competence of the Executive, and there was nothing remotely unconstitutional in the demonetisation measure. Indeed, some reports had also mentioned a comment from the bench in the apex court referring to ‘disturbances’ and ‘riots’. While the exact terminology and the context used by the bench were not immediately available, nor cited in full, it was a little surprising that such a reference apparently appears to have been made.

The Supreme Court of India. AFP

The Supreme Court of India. AFP

One writes this article with trepidation. Most people in India have the highest possible regard for our apex court, and see it as the final custodian, arbiter and guardian of our Constitution. Countless times in the past, the apex court has stood up for the common man, and taken strong, often unpleasant stance against the Executive when the occasion demanded it. Among the three pillars of the Constitution, the popular perception is that legislature has completely failed to perform any meaningful substantive positive role in the governance of the country. Its sole claim to fame is that ‘sovereignty’ vests in this body. It has no achievement to talk about in the past seven decades.

The Executive at the Centre and in the State, in popular perception, have a mixed record. While basic levels of governance have been assured by the Executive over time, the failures are palpable. Abysmal educational standards, unacceptable public health conditions, and a corrupt economic system, where arguably over 60 percent of the population is in near poverty, hand-to-mouth existence levels over 70 years of misgovernance are the net result of the Executive’s past performance. The political class has turned out in general to be purely interested in its own benefits, with very little interest in public affairs. They have suborned what was arguably one of the world’s best civil services to serve their immediate needs to the exclusion of the nation’s call for service. In this background, it can be argued that the judiciary had no option except to shine just by comparison; no doubt this is clearly true – in addition the higher judiciary in the country by and large has maintained some standards which are still highly appreciated by the thinking Indian.

This does not mean that all is well with the judiciary. The judicial system is still unable to deliver justice to the common man – expensive, dilatory and delayed justice is denial of justice. The district level and lower criminal courts are seen to be as corrupt as the police and investigative machinery; many high courts do not have a savoury reputation (one is consciously mild in making this point – one should hear corporates and lawyers privately discussing how cases are to be fixed); each civil and revenue case would take decades to reach conclusion; a judicial arbitration process is usually destined to span decades — the criticism can go on. No major steps for reforms have been taken in the matter of dealing with the menace of interminable adjournments; rampant, dilatory interlocutory orders; harnessing of technology for recording evidence and speeding up the trial process; humane treatment to under-trials; and flagrant abuse of the system by rapacious lawyers. The popular perception is that the legal system is ‘elitist’. If you have the money or political clout, you can handle it à la a Salman Khan or a Lalu. How much of the above is true, and how much is exaggerated prejudice, each person would have a view. All that can be said is that the system needs very serious reforms. One has not seen major steps underway to address these aspects with any kind of sustained attack.

Having said this, there is no doubt that the apex court still is dear in sentiment to most thinking Indians.

Clarifying and elaborating the rights of the citizen under Article 19, 21 and others, consistently championing the position of the common man against the predatory attacks of a rapacious executive have been the hallmark of the Supreme Court’s standing posture. While many have often argued against the encroachment by the judiciary into the turf of the legislature and executive, this has always been to sustain the basic position of the citizen.

Thus, for example, the periodical random pronouncements on pollution and environment, frequently staccato and often possibly ill-conceived without full comprehension or analysis of all relevant aspects, often based on arguments produced by competing counsel who may not represent the full interest of the common man – despite these shortcomings, in the face of paralysis of action by the executive, at least the issue is highlighted. Thus, for example, the total failure of the Delhi government and central government in addressing the Delhi air crisis is mitigated by the intervention by the Supreme Court, normally an issue which is totally in the domain of the executive. Such instances can be multiplied. The intervention in the administration of cricket, for example, is in light of abject failure of the Executive to address the glaring lapses in this field. Likewise, the issue of binding guidelines in postings and transfers of senior officers of the All India Services, normally which ought to be exclusively within the domain of the executive, was essential in the face of rampant misuse of such powers by the central and state governments. It is another matter that most state governments are in utter contempt of the Supreme Court’s orders in this regard. The Supreme Court’s intervention, even in matters fully in the domain of the Executive, are clearly essential when there is inaction by the Executive.

The danger, of course, is that having ‘tasted blood’, the process will not stop. In matters purely in the province of the Executive, where the Executive consciously takes action (well or ill, it is a matter of opinion), it is important that there should be no judicial overreach. All aspects of a particular major issue may not be available in the course of a short discussion or hearing. The apex court does not have the machinery to embark on a total and meaningful appraisal of the losses and gains from a major policy step. The long term policy-making for the economy should be entirely in the province of the Executive. In the matter of the current demonetisation, it will be a dangerous precedent for the apex court to come in with their own approach or comments or observations or directions.

First Published On : Nov 21, 2016 08:44 IST

Vultures feed and breed

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While the dwindling numbers of vultures are a cause for concern, an initiative by the state forest department to ensure that these endangered raptors get to feed on carrion has led to their population rising in the Left wing extremism- affected district of Gadchiroli.The ‘vulture restaurant’ model has led to a rise in the numbers of species like Gyps indicus (Indian Vulture or Long-billed Vulture) and Gyps africanus (White-backed vulture) in a tribal dominated district in Vidarbha. Out of total 23 vulture species found globally, India has nine in the wild. While helping dispose of carcasses which would have otherwise been a public health problem, these birds act as natural scavengers.“In the vulture restaurant model, we ask villagers to take the animal carcasses to these restaurants located away from villages instead of burying or burning them. The carcasses are kept in an enclosed area with a raised platform to attract vultures in the vicinity who feed on them while making food available exclusively for vultures, it keeps away competition. This has led to an increase in vulture population,” said P.Kalyankumar, chief conservator of forests, Gadchiroli.The vulture conservation effort was launched in 2012 from Gadchiroli and Kamlapur. The platforms prevent the raptors from being disturbed by other animals like dogs when they feed on the carcasses.He added that the number of these winged scavengers stood at around 800 compared to less than 100 when they started off with the idea in 2013. Most of these birds are from the resident population and some vultures also come from neighbouring Chhattisgarh to feed.The department pays villagers Rs 500 per dead cattle to serve as an incentive to deposit carrions at the 25 such vulture restaurants in the district. “The sightings have improved and gone up around these villages. The number of nesting sites has also increased,” said Kalyankumar, adding that these restaurants had been selected in areas with water sources and trees for these raptors to nest.“We have appointed gidhad mitras (friends of vultures) for villages with a vulture restaurant. They have been given binoculars and a camera and have been trained in conservation. They count the number of birds and inform our nodal officers,” he explained, adding that now, they were mapping nesting sites and asking farmers to preserve huge canopy trees. “The actual enumeration of nesting colonies has been started. We are surveying these nesting sites in minute details and taking their GPS locations. This will help us map their nesting patterns, behaviour and locational preference,” said Kalyankumar.The use of painkiller diclofenac for treating livestock and the resulting presence of the drug in animal carcasses which vultures fed on, led to these birds dying of kidney failures. In 2006, the veterinary manufacture of the drug was banned. Environmentalist Kishor Rithe of the Satpuda Foundation noted that this would tide over the food shortage faced by vultures due to farmers selling off aged, dying livestock to traders for culling. However, Vibhu Prakash of the BNHS Vulture Conservation Breeding Programme, noted that their studies showed the vultures did not face a problem of food availability. Prakash said the main problem for vultures was diclofenac, the presence of which in a carcass would kill several birds. “Human formulations are available in the market and are used for treating cattle,” said Prakash, adding that their 2013 carcass sampling survey had shown that around five to six percent carcasses had traces of the drug, when it should be less than 1%. “However, prevalence of diclofenac has come down,” he noted, adding that the Centre had banned multi-dose vials last year.

After four months of unrest, people in Kashmir resume normal life

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The city along with rest of Kashmir was buzzing with activity on Saturday with offices, shops and other business establishments opening in the Valley which saw return of normalcy after 133 days of shutdown as separatists suspended their stir for the weekend. The situation has been by and large peaceful over the last few weeks in the Valley, which had been hit by clashes between violent protesters and security forces following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani in an encounter on July 8. The unrest had left 86 people dead and many others, including 5,000 security personnel, injured.Shops, offices, business establishments and fuel stations opened this morning for a full day for the first time since the unrest began. While some had started opening earlier defying the separatists, others did business few hours on some days of the week whenever relaxation in the strike was announced.There was massive traffic on the roads in Srinagar the summer capital- as public transport resumed fully and people came out to carry out their day to day activities. The authorities had increased the presence of traffic personnel on the roads to manage the traffic. Similar reports of people resuming their normal life were received from most of the other district headquarters of the Valley.With the start of Board exams for classes 10 and 12 this week, life in the Valley had been gradually returning to normalcy. The authorities last night restored mobile internet services on postpaid numbers due to improvement in situation. However, such facility on prepaid numbers continued to remain snapped and there is no word yet on their restoration.The separatists have been issuing weekly protest programmes. They had for the first time announced a two-day relaxation in the strike beginning today.

Demonetization: BJP trains guns on Ghulam Nabi Azad again, demands apology

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Even as the Government-Opposition standoff paralysed Parliament, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked MPs of the ruling coalition to fan out to explain the demonetization decision to people in their constituencies over the weekend.After a review meeting convened by the Prime Minister on Friday morning, the BJP parliamentary party conveyed the message to all NDA MPs to reach out to people about the “long-term benefits” of the move through gatherings, social media and statements. According to sources, the BJP’s parliamentary party office has also compiled all notifications and circulars—11 by the finance ministry and 16 by RBI—issued since November 8 for MPs to refer to.The government has been under attack from the Opposition over the handling of demonetization leading to “hardships” for the common man. While in Parliament there was no sign of an end to the deadlock in either House, the government is hopeful that normalcy would resume next week, inside and outside Parliament.At the same time, the government is unlikely to give in to the Opposition demand for a discussion on demonetization under an adjournment motion. Looking at past precedents, the government has found that Congress regimes have also been disinclined from accepting Opposition demands for adjournment motions, sources said. The government is agreeing to a debate, but only under rule 193, which does not entail voting. “We are for debate… One united message should go from the House,” said Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar.Meanwhile, the treasury benches in Rajya Sabha are insisting on an apology from Leader of Opposition in the House Ghulam Nabi Azad for comparing deaths after demonetization with the killings in the Uri attack. “We feel he should tender an unconditional apology. It concerns national security and involves the forces. Both Congress and Azad should set it right,” Kumar said. On the Opposition’s demand for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s presence in Rajya Sabha, Kumar dismissed it, describing it as an “afterthought.”Also speaking on the issue, Information and Broadcasting minister Venkaiah Naidu said it was a “fig leaf to play out their strategy of disruption. The PM will intervene whenever there is a need.”So far, the government has been evasive on whether it would agree to the Opposition’s demand for the Prime Minister’s presence, an issue which has been stalling the Rajya Sabha since Thursday. While the Opposition prevented further debate, insisting on the presence of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the House, the ruling benches sought an apology from Azad. Deputy chairman PJ Kurien repeatedly adjourned the House and finally called it a day at 2:30 pm when the Opposition did not allow even the listed private members’ business. The scene was not very different in the Lok Sabha where Speaker Sumitra Mahajan rejected all adjournment notices of opposition members. She first adjourned the Question Hour and finally adjourned the House for the day at 12.25 pm, after allowing the special mentions by over half a dozen members despite the din.BJP’s New Delhi MP Meenakshi Lekhi was on her feet referring to Azad’s speech in the Rajya Sabha in her special mention in the Lok Sabha. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, however, cited the norms and asked her not to take the name of an MP from the other House.

Kolkata’s money lending ‘Kabuliwalas’ struggle to cope after demonetization

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Kabuliwalas in West Bengal have traditionally played the role of money lenders in the community, giving out small loans in times of crisis. However, they themselves are in crisis these days.In the 19th century, these Afghan migrants popularly known as ‘Kabuliwalas’, came to the eastern Indian city of Kolkata from Pashtunistan, the modern day Afghanistan-Pakistan, in search of greener pastures. They would go from from door to door selling attar (perfume), dry fruits, spices and fabrics procured from Afghanistan. Over the years, they became money lenders and would charge high interest rates. Still, Bengalis have a special place in their hearts for them because of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s endearing 1892 story about the friendship between a Kabuliwala and a five-year-old girl Mini. This story comes alive every time someone calls out, ‘Kabuliwala’ in the bylanes of the city. It might be a foreign land for him, but Nidim Khan, a third-generation Afghan money lender, says he feels at home in Kolkata. He, and several other Kabuliwalas have settled in the northern part of Kolkata and their building is famously known as the ‘Khan Kothi’. With minimal furniture and a beautiful carpet brought from Afghanistan, the house is neat and tidy. Nidim, a 28-year-old Afghan, who was born in Kabul, moved to Kolkata with his father a decade ago. Since then, he has been assisting his father in the business of money lending. But following the demonetization, he says they are trapped in a situation where they cannot recover the money they had lent or give out more money as loans to people. “We are not being able to recover the money as the people who had borrowed from us are repaying in old currency notes, which we cannot accept. People do not have enough Rs 100 notes or the new Rs 2,000 notes,” says Nidim adding, “They are asking for more time to repay their loan. On the other hand, we do not have new currency notes to give away as loans.”The Kabuliwalas do not hold bank accounts, which prevents them from exchanging old currency notes with them. “Since we are not Indian citizens, we do not hold any bank accounts. The currency notes in our possession are of no use to us as we cannot exchange them. We do not deal in bonds and agreements. Our business thrives on just promise and trust,” says Nidim’s father, Afroz who has been in the business of money lending for the past two decades in Kolkata. “While our income has dropped in the last few years, we have also had to reduce our interest rates from 10% to 5-6% flat. While we have been struggling with bad debts due to non-payment, the demonetization has hit our business harder,” added Afroz.

Demonetisation: ‘Tough day’ for the common man, but we all know who’s having ‘sleepless nights’

The ‘stupid common man’ is happy about the cleaning and with a masochistic smile, sipping the ‘strong tea’, to which in any case, he has become accustomed over the years.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing a rally in Ghazipur (Uttar Pradesh) on Monday, said, “My decision is a little harsh. When I was young, poor people used to ask for ‘kadak’ (strong) tea but it spoils the mood of rich.”

The prime minister has indeed served very strong tea to the people. But it is essentially spoiling the taste buds of those who had in many ways legitimised the illegitimate. While the stories of people struggling in long queues have made the headlines, those who were never part of these queues are intelligently concealing their pain. After all, their expression of dissent is illegitimate.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

When did we last find a top ranking bureaucrat, a politician of some standing, a celebrity or a Porsche-driving businessman standing in the queue for an ATM? It was not that their absence ever made the news, rather it was the other way round.

It was always the common man who was seen standing there, in those long queues. Why is it that the ‘harassed’ lot who are smilingly bearing the brunt of the sudden demonetisation — with great dignity for the greater good — are projected as victims, when they are acting like dutiful soldiers in this battle against corruption?

Why instead we are not talking about those who are having sleepless nights, those who are calling their relatives and friends with generous offers of depositing Rs 2.5 lakh in their bank accounts.

While these people might not be profiled like the ‘60-year-old man who fainted standing the queue’, their numbers are no fewer.

Consider this:

Case 1: On a WhatsApp group of a family from Uttar Pradesh, with most of the members in white collar jobs and one in the civil services (details of the group were shared by one of the non-confirming members), a discussion progressed on 9 November around the topic of demonetisation. While most of the members discussed both pros and cons of the move, one among them was all resentful and dissenting. He was the one who wore the white collar with all ‘civility’. The reason was clear to all the members but no one spoke of it.

Case 2: A marriage venue was shifted from a fancy and expensive heritage site in Rajasthan to a modest banquet hall in Delhi. Nobody asked the reason for the change but everyone who was informed about it could not help a wry smile.

Case 3: At an upscale eating joint in Central Delhi, a man swiped his cards many times and the beads of sweat increased on his forehead with each declined transaction. He had heard the very same morning that the income tax (I-T) department had been instructed to monitor bank accounts and report any ‘abnormal’ transaction. He called a friend and informed him about declined transaction and asks him to ‘do something’.

These are the people who are finding this attack on their accounted wealth absurd.

These are the people who are hit hardest, but then they are using all their sophistication to hide their angst.

In a country where upari kamaai is seen as an achievement and ‘just salary’ is frowned upon, who in his right senses can argue against the existence of huge amounts of black money?

In August last year, CID officials raided a flat in Bengaluru owned by a Karnataka cadre IAS and found cash worth Rs 4.37 crore. Last year in a raid at the premises of former Noida chief engineer Yadav Singh, CBI sleuths found, along with documentary proof of 38 properties, Rs 10 crore in cash. A long list of such cases can be put forward to stress how corrupt government officials and politicians have hoarded crores of rupees in cash, by selling out the entire system.

The common man might be having a tough day in dealing with the cash crunch, but it is the corrupt who are having sleepless nights. And it is evident in memes and jokes on demonetisation doing the rounds on WhatsApp and Facebook.

The best humour is often designed by sad realities.

On 8 November, former Indian cricketer Virender Sehwag supported Modi’s decision and tweeted:

In this context, it is fairly ironic that the real victims are not talked about. Sehwag’s wonderful homour was designed by the reality that the corrupt were having a gala time till 8 November.

Abhishek Waghmare, an analyst with IndiaSpend, in an article published on Firstpost,wrote, “The sudden announcement will directly affect black money hoarded by Indians, and will possibly present them two alternatives: either deposit the money after identifying themselves to banks, or exchange the money by 24 November, 2016. According to basic calculations, with a daily limit of Rs 4,000 a day, a maximum of Rs 60,000 can be exchanged by a person, in 15 days from 10 November to 24 November. From 24 November onwards, the exchange process will be eased for convenience, meaning the exchange limit will be increased. However, there is no limit on deposits”.

He added, “As the deadline for Indian individuals to declare undisclosed income — the Income Declaration Scheme — ended on 30 September, 2016, no ‘unaccounted for’ money can be declared now. It ceases to be money; instead it will be a ‘worthless piece of paper’, as (Modi) termed it in his speech”.

The extent of unaccounted wealth and black money is vast and it is no secret. Given this fact, just focusing on the problems faced by the people in the implementation of the demonetisation, and calling for its withdrawal is a perfect case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

First Published On : Nov 15, 2016 13:01 IST

10 mn new Rs 500 notes dispatched

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As many as 10 million new notes of Rs 500 denomination, printed at the Currency Note Press (CNP) here, are on their way to Mumbai. While the first consignment of five million notes in new design was dispatched on Friday, another consignment of five million notes was sent on Sunday.The printing of new notes has been going on since about a month. Considering the rise in quantum of work, the Press Mazdoor Sangh had urged the employees to work on holidays and weekly offs as well. “Our employees responded positively,” said Sangh’s General Secretary Jagdish Godse.

War on black money: Cong leader Sanjay Jha shares 2013 Kenya election pic to show ‘long bank queues’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>One of the downsides of the demonetisation drive has been the long queues outside banks and ATMs. While there are news pieces about serious grievances being aired from across the country, there is also a grim disinformation drive on social media to make the situation look worse than reality. Twitter currently has become the new political battleground to take your opposition a peg or two down, but political parties still need to remember to share information that’s real. On 13 Nov, Naseem Ahmed who claims on his Twitter bio that he’s Ex Gen.Sect @INCIndia Dist. Chandni Chowk – Secretary DELHI State (sic), had tweeted a picture of people supposedly queuing up outside a bank. Bizarrely, the pic was from the 2013 Kenyan election. While one can understand a relatively unknown individual sharing the picture, even Indian National Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha shared the picture and sub-tweeted: “What a photo this !!! Unbelievable !” Sanjay Jha got called out on Twitter:Hitting out at the Congress, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said it did not have the strength to touch high value currency during its rule and asserted that the “clean up” was required as a lot had been looted in the last 70 years.”I am surprised that the Congress is asking why did I stop Rs 1000 notes and 500 notes. When you stopped 25 paise, did we say anything? You could dare to stop only 25 paise, that’s what your power was limited to. But you did not make higher denomination currency notes illegal. … We did it.”People have chosen a government and they expect so much from it,” Modi said, as he took on Congress which has been critical of the Centre’s demonetisation move.”You had also agreed to stop (black money), but you did not have the strength to stop big notes. You wanted to run the vehicle (by stopping) 25 paise,” he said.Lashing out at the previous UPA government, he said, “On the night of November 8, at 8 o’clock, did you see (what happened)? In 2012, 2013, 2014 newspapers were filled with news about lots of money being eaten up in scams like coal and 2G. But after November 8, their position was such that they had to stand in line for Rs 4,000.””Those who question me today… those who had heard my speeches… I have not said this for the first time. Many years ago I had said in a public function that Congress doesn’t have strength so they are stopping 25 paise, if I’m given a chance I will stop Rs 1,000 note,” he said.The Prime Minister, who was speaking at the centenary celebrations of Karnataka Lingayat Education (KLE) Society, a leading educational institution here, said the government did not want to harass the honest but would not spare the dishonest.”… it has been 70 years, tell me has the country been looted or not? Has corruption taken place or not? Are big stacks of cash lying at houses or not?” the Prime Minister said, strongly defending “the war” against black money.”Enough has been looted. You have seen looters. For 70 years the country has been looted, give me 70 months I will clean it up,” he added.”These people who used to ask what has Modi done? Switch on your TV and see what Modi did on 8th November,” he said.Stating that he has started a “sacred work” for the “honesty” people, he added, “If you believe in my honesty and my work, if you believe in my words to clean up notes I need you blessings, please bless me.”With agency inputs

Good intention, bad execution: Chetan Bhagat on Modi government’s war on black money

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While’s India’s self-proclaimed intellectuals often look down upon Chetan Bhagat and his work, India’s best-selling author has some very keen insights into what the common man is thinking. On Saturday, the One Indian Girl author took to Twitter to explain that while the government’s move to demonetize Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes might be well-intentioned, the execution has been poor.He wrote on Twitter: “While demonetization might be well-intentioned, the poor execution such as empty ATMs may lead to a lot of suffering for ordinary citizens. To queue for several hours to find an empty ATM for Rs 2,000 of your own money is no fun. Execution of an idea as important as the idea. Incompatibility of notes, small limits, limited number of bank branches and the massive swapping required – did they run through scenarios? All Indians being asked to prove they aren’t criminals and their money is legitimate. Least u can do is not make them suffer while doing so Don’t use patriotism as an excuse for bad operations research type planning. What’s not going well has to be told, in national interest I love my country.”He added: “I am all for cleaning up economy. I am for big ideas, like demonetization. However, I also think execution is important. It will be sad if good idea to clean up economy becomes political negative for govt who did it. Will discourage. Hope execution fixed soon. People on twitter are digital savvy, comfortable with digital payments world. Most real sufferers of liquidity crunch not on social media. Wonder why the size of the new notes was changed, taking them unusable in existing ATMs, esp when secrecy meant u couldn’t modify ATMs. Changed physical dimensions of notes made them incompatible with ATMs. No need to justify that mistake by saying stand in q for patriotism.” Arun Jaitley said on Saturday it would take time for banks to make changes to automated teller machines to dispense the new bank notes as millions of people lined up at branches to get cash. Arun Jaitley said ATMs had not been calibrated before the announcement this week to demonetise 500 and 1,000 rupee notes for secrecy reasons. “It is a massive operation, it will take time.” Congress party leader and lawyer Kapil Sibal on Saturday questioned the centre on demonetisation issue and asked why common persons like him had to stand in line when the bank account and the money was his. Stating that the decision was not well thought out one and made in haste, Sibal said,”my question is…account is mine, money is mine, then why should I stand in a line.”Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party had informed its friends about the demonetisation of currency notes before hand and claimed that he had evidence to prove his charge. He also demanded a complete rollback of the move as it is creating panic among the common people and giving rise to rumours of shortage of essential commodities. The allegations also come at a time when the people are thronging banks and ATMs to withdraw and deposit cash. The government had kept the banks shut for one day and ATMs for two days after the announcement in order to prepare for the rush for cash.On 8th November, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetisation of Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes with effect from midnight, making these notes invalid in a major assault on black money, fake currency and corruption.In his first televised address to the nation, Modi said people holding notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 can deposit the same in their bank and post office accounts from November 10 till December 30. (In his 40-minute address, first in Hindi and later in English, the Prime Minister said the notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 “will not be legal tender from midnight tonight” and these will be “just worthless piece of paper.” However, he said that all notes in lower denomination of Rs 100, Rs 50, Rs 20, Rs 10, Rs 5, Rs 2 and Re 1 and all coins will continue to be valid.He also announced that new notes of Rs 2000 and Rs 500 will be introduced. ATM withdrawals will be restricted to Rs 2000 per day and withdrawals from bank accounts will be limited to Rs 10,000 a day and Rs 20,000 a week.Banks will remain closed tomorrow and ATMs will also not function tomorrow and day after, Modi said. He expressed confidence that the staff of banks and post offices will rise to the occasion to introduce the new order within the available time. He also expressed confidence that political parties, workers, social organisations and the media will go further than the government in making it a success.

The war on cash

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ever since the war on terror began to be tracked via its money trail, a parallel war on cash began simultaneously. While the timing of the announcement—that India will be eliminating existing Rs 500, Rs 1,000 notes, and will introduce a new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 note with embedded tracking technology—has taken India by surprise, the advantage set to be gained by any loss in transactional convenience to a consumer is offset by the inroads the government will make in combating illegal and criminal activity. To be fair, eliminating High-Denomination Currencies (HDCs) would not be met with a perceptible drop in the crime rate, but it would definitely make life harder for those who seek to escape surveillance. The problem with the underground economy is that 90 per cent of the population does not use HDCs. Even in the US 90 per cent of HDC notes are circulated outside the country and it is suspected that they are used primarily for illegal transactions. In India too, there has been some suspicion that HDCs are primarily used to either escape the tax net, if not worse: they form the prime money trail in arms and terror financing. For years, many advocates globally have been calling for the demonetisation of HDCs to this end.The highest denomination of notes in the US is $100, which is 0.25 per cent of their Per Capita Income, or $40,000. By comparison, India’s Rs 1000 notes comprise 1 per cent of our PCI. So, we have a disproportionately higher component of higher currencies even when compared to a developed economy. With the Prime Minister’s Jan Dhan Yojana, more than 240 million new bank accounts were brought under the revolutionary financial inclusion scheme in record time. The country will see an exponential proliferation of Aadhar-based mobile payments and those using the United Payment Interface. The new app-based cashless society have put the benefits of cashless transactions up on public display. The new app-based cashless society have put the benefits of cashless transactions up on public display. With the new economic inclusiveness, mobile wallets and micro payments will get a boost, the need for currency will go down further. It is then supposed that HDC use will be used to escape surveillance and track illegal activities. The sectors that are likely to be most hit will be real estate, education and election funding, among others.The swiftness of the announcement has taken everybody by surprise. Either way, it’s a brave new move by the government and a much needed tough stand sure to draw the black money out of the closets. While the black money clean-up last month was aimed at taking old funds out of circulation, the current move will also block new funds from infiltrating the market. Black money has a crippling effect on institutions and governance in society. It reduces the availability of legitimate funds that contribute to actual infrastructure building and widens the trust deficit in society. In as much, the demonetisation is to be welcomed all around.

How PM Modi announced the decision to invalidate Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking the nation by surprise, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tonight announced demonetisation of Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes with effect from midnight, making these notes invalid in a major assault on black money, fake currency and corruption. In his first televised address to the nation, Modi said people holding notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 can deposit the same in their bank and post office accounts from November 10 till December 30.In his 40-minute address, first in Hindi and later in English, the Prime Minister said the notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 “will not be legal tender from midnight tonight” and these will be “just worthless piece of paper.” However, he said that all notes in lower denomination of Rs 100, Rs 50, Rs 20, Rs 10, Rs 5, Rs 2 and Re 1 and all coins will continue to be valid. He also announced that new notes of Rs 2000 and Rs 500 will be introduced.ATM withdrawals will be restricted to Rs 2000 per day and withdrawals from bank accounts will be limited to Rs 10,000 a day and Rs 20,000 a week. Banks will remain closed tomorrow and ATMs will also not function tomorrow and day after, Modi said. He expressed confidence that the staff of banks and post offices will rise to the occasion to introduce the new order within the available time.He also expressed confidence that political parties, workers, social organisations and the media will go further than the government in making it a success. Besides depositing money in bank accounts, the Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes can also be exchanged with lower denomination currency notes at designated banks and post offices on production of valid government identity cards like PAN, Aadhaar and Election Card from November 10 to November 24 with a daily limit of Rs 4000.Those unable to deposit Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes till December 30 this year can do so in designated RBI offices till March 31 next year after filling a declaration form along with proof and reasons, the Prime Minister said.Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes will be valid for transactions related to booking of air tickets, railway bookings, government bus ticket counters and hospitals till the midnight of November 11 and 12.”Banks will be closed tomorrow. It will cause some hardship to you….Let us ignore these hardships… In country’s history, there comes a moment when people will want to participate in the nation building and reconstruction. Very few such moments come in life,” Modi said. While making the announcement, the Prime Minister saidthe sweeping measures were aimed at curbing the “disease” of corruption and black money which have taken deep root.”There is a need for a decisive war against the menace of corruption, black money and terrorism… Corruption, black money and terrorism are festering wounds which make the country hollow from within,” he said, adding such activities hold back the nation’s progress.Describing illegal financial activities as the “biggest blot”, Modi said that despite several steps taken by his government over the last two-and-a-half years, India’s global ranking on corruption had moved only to 76th position from 100th earlier.”This shows the extent of the web of corruption in the country. The disease of corruption is the domain of some veted people who are flourishing. Some people have misused their positions and benefitted. On the other hand, honest people are suffering,” he said.He linked fake currency to terrorism and questioned how enemies of the countries are using such methods to harm India.”We have to get rid of this termite of corruption,” he said.

War on Black Money: 5 key takeaways from PM Modi’s annoucement

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced that the currency notes of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 denominations will not be legal tender beginning November 9. Prime Minister also added that all banks will remain closed for public work tomorrow. ‘Terror strikes at the innocent. Who funds these terrorists’ Across the border, our enemy uses fake currency and dodgy funds to sponsor terror – this has been proven repeatedly. The process of cash circulation is directly related to corruption in our country impacting the lower classes of our society. From midnight November 8 today, Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes are no longer legal tender,’ Prime Minister Modi said while addressing the nation.‘You have 50 days (From November 10 to December 30) to deposit notes of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 in any bank or post office. Respite for people for the initial 72 hours. The government hospitals will accept old Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes till November 11 midnight,’ he added. Prime Minister Modi said notes of Rs. 2000 and Rs. 500 will be circulated soon. ‘The RBI has decided to limit the notes with higher value. There will be more purification the more we get support from you. Let’s continue the process of cleanliness and work together for successful completion of this initiative. We want to take this fight against corruption even ahead,’ he added. The Prime Minister further said that on November 9 and in some places on November 10, ATMs will not work.Here are some imporant takeaways: Less bang for your black bucks: Those with large amounts of large-denomination black money in cash will be hit hardest, since offloading this cash will become extremely difficult. Exchanging crores of rupees at banks will likely attract the attention of the taxman.Less counterfeiting: These denominations were the most easily and widely counterfeited notes. Taking them out of circulation will eliminate a big source of fake notes. Terrorism funding: A significant amount of terrorism was funded using counterfeit and/or high-denomination notes. This will also be hit badly.Election funding: It is an open secret that elections in India are largely bankrolled by massive amounts of black money, typically in cash that are often used as direct bribes to voters. This spigot will now be shut off, disrupting the electoral system. The UP and Punjab elections will the first to face the brunt of this move.Corruption: Most bribes across the system are typically paid in cash. While smaller amounts will not be affected, large amounts of bribes will now be limited, at least until the new denominations of Rs 500 and Rs 2000 are introduced in large numbers. But again, those will already accumulated cash will be hit hard.

Theresa May drives a hard bargain on UK visa norms as India stress on greater liberalisation

The depth of the differences between India and UK over the latter’s immigration policy became clear on Monday as British Prime Minister Theresa May schmoozed with Narendra Modi first during a joint tech summit and later during an extensive one-on-one at New Delhi’s Hyderabad House.

On Day 1 of her India visit, the first non-European outing for May since assuming office, she stuck manfully at her job of wooing Indian investors and pitching for greater trade relations between the two nations but the difficulty of her position was all too apparent.

As Firstpost wrote on Sunday, Brexit and her own hawkish immigration policy have put May in a fundamentally conflicting position when it comes to courting foreign investment, especially from India whose companies invest more in the UK than in entire EU combined and employ more than 100,00 people, and yet are at the receiving end of a regressive visa policy that has grown tougher and tougher over the years.

PM Narendra Modi and UK PM Theresa May. PTIPM Narendra Modi and UK PM Theresa May. PTI

PM Narendra Modi and UK PM Theresa May. PTI

In particular, new changes to immigration rules announced last week were aimed specifically at making it harder for Indian IT professionals to visit UK through the Intra-Company Transfer Route (ICT) which forms the basis of 90 percent British visas issued to India.

Inevitably, as The Financial Times points out, bilateral trade has been slowing in recent years, falling from $15.7 billion in 2011-2012 to $14 billion in 2015-2016, despite India’s strong growth. The UK currently sits 13th in the list of India’s trading partners, according to figures from the Indian commerce department — behind Germany, Indonesia and Belgium.

The reason is clear. While Britain welcomes Indian investment, it abhors the skilled foreign workers that these businesses need and these already hard positions have concretised due to Brexit. So while Britain wants to become an open, throbbing global destination for trade and commerce, its immigration figures (which May has sought to bring down to an unrealistic figure of 100,000 per year, including students) sit directly at odds with its ambition.

The tension of these contradictory positions were all too clear when on Monday, May appeared ready to toe India’s line on terrorism, delivered a speech high on rhetoric extolling New Delhi’s eminence as an emerging world power and from advocating for a permanent seat at UN to backing India’s entry into the NSG club, she said everything that New Delhi wanted to hear from the head of a P5 nation. Yet to India’s chagrin, she remained rigid on a visa liberalisation scheme and refused to commit to a greater people-to-people mobility between the two nations.

Expectedly, Narendra Modi nudged May for a regularisation of the visa norms during a joint tech summit, urging Britain to open its doors for Indian students many of whom are increasingly being denied visas despite getting enrolled in some of the best British universities.

“Education is vital for our students and will define our engagement in a shared future,” Modi said at the summit alongside May. “We must, therefore, encourage greater mobility and participation of young people in education and research opportunities.” He also picked up the topic of restrictions on visas for skilled workers, saying that the UK-India joint working group which was formulated on Monday “should not only focus on trade in goods but also the expansion of services trade, including greater mobility of skilled professionals,” reported Daily Mail.

Prime Minister Modi’s concern stems from recent figures that show that UK’s new immigration policy — geared towards pushing Indian students home almost as soon as the courses are over — has led to a drastic fall in number of Indian students enrolling in British universities, from 68,238 in 2010 to 11,864 this year, according to official UK figures.

May, who had started the trip by saying that British visa norms for India are best in business and Indians to get more preferential treatment than any other nation, appeared at the end of the day to have gravitated to a more reconciliatory position. She offered a faster visa process for high net-worth Indian individuals and their family members but when it came to visas for skilled workers or students, a key Indian demand, she tied it up with illegal immigration.

She told reporters, post her talks with Modi, that “the UK will consider further improvements to our visa offer if at the same time we can step up the speed and volume of returns of Indians with no right to remain.”

This “solution” also found mention in the joint statement where “2 prime ministers agreed that ensuring simple and effective visa systems depended critically on cooperation to protect the integrity of border and immigration systems. This included ensuring the timely and efficient return of individuals to their country of origin as required by their respective national laws.”

While offering a fast-track visa service for Indian business travelers is a welcome step, May’s position on letting more Indian students and skilled Indian professionals remain stubbornly steadfast. Both nations announced a slew of tie-ups in areas of defence and cyber security on Monday and more could be coming up on Tuesday. Yet fact remains that the talks would achieve little beyond atmospherics unless UK and India and get down to solving the single issue that has so far resisted all solution: immigration.

Poor country like India cannot afford corruption: PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Asserting that a poor country like India cannot afford luxury of corruption, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said the State should be policy-driven and not based on whims of an individual. Addressing a function on anti-corruption, he emphasised on use of Aadhaar and other information technology-based applications to check corruption.”When we make rules and if there is any ambiguity in it which is open to people’s inference then it opens door for corruption. That is why State should be policy-driven. It should not run on individuals’ whim. If state is policy- driven, then there are restrictions for ifs and buts. And if there are no ifs and buts then there is no scope for discrimination,” he said.The Prime Minister said if the government emphasises on policy-driven State then there will be less scope for interpretation by an individual.”Law, rules and system will speak for itself. One will get what he deserves. That is why our efforts are to make all the things policy-driven and in black and white because of which nobody will get to do anything ‘idhar udhar ka’ (malpractices),” he said.In an advice to government departments, Modi said people must be involved while making draft laws for any governance- related matters.”While making laws if we use many minds then the law would be good. Secrecy does not matter in this,” he said.The Prime Minister was speaking during the valedictory function of vigilance awareness week (October 31 to November 5) organised by Central Vigilance Commission. He said there has been degradation of values in the country.”A poor country like us cannot afford luxury of corruption. If only few takes all the money (that to illegally) then how will common men will be benefited?” he asked.Modi said the common man is honest and is willing to pay any price to ensure improvement in the system.Referring to Aadhaar, he said information technology has major role in checking corruption and improving system.”There is a common perception that “sab chor hain” (all are thieves). This perception of pessimism makes a man worry… We can change these things with the help of technology,” he said.

UK raises Vodafone tax dispute; wants early resolution

New Delhi: Raising the multi-billion dollar Vodafone tax issue, the UK today asked for speeding up the arbitration process to resolve the dispute even as India assured that it will not resort to retrospective taxation route in such cases.

AFPAFP

AFP

Britain’s minister for international trade Liam Fox, during his bilateral meeting with Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Siatharaman, flagged the Cairn Energy and Vodafone issues, demanding they be resolved expeditiously.

“Their request was at least in the Vodafone case, would we (India) please not delay or would you (India) please expedite the arbitration, so that (the case) gets a closure,” Sitharaman told reporters here.

She said they wanted the Vodafone case to be expedited without further delays.

“I certainly assured them that I will pass it on to the Finance Ministry,” she said.

Global MNCs like Cairn Energy and Vodafone have invoked Bilateral Investment Treaty and served arbitration notice to India over tax disputes. While the tax demand on Cairn Energy is Rs 10,247 crore, that on Vodafone is Rs 14,200 crore. Sitharaman said the issue was raised during the trade negotiations.

“I reaffirmed this government’s commitment that we shall not take the retrospective taxation route and we also have in this government explained that we believe in a simplified taxation structure framework,” she said.

The minister said that when NDA government came to power in 2014, both the matters were sub-judice or under arbitration.

“We had a limitation that we could not go into dealing with those specific issues which were under arbitration. Anything which was leading towards it or around it, we tried removing it and cleansing it and making it simpler,” she added.

J&K situation extremely fragile; around 300 militants still active: DGP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Describing the situation in Jammu and Kashmir as “extremely fragile”, state DGP K Rajendra has said around 300 militants are active in the state and that continuing infiltration along the Line of Control (LoC) is a cause of worry.. “The continuing infiltration along the border is a cause of worry which can change the whole game,” the Director General of Police (DGP) told a meeting of top civil and police officials of the state, chaired by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, here yesterday.Referring to the situation in Kashmir where the unrest triggered by the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in July completed four months, Rajendra said even though the intensity and spread of the situation has come down, it continued to be “extremely fragile”. “While the intensity and spread of situation has come down, the situation is extremely fragile. At present, 250-300 militants are active. Given the present situation, we need to have a road map for next two-three months,” he said.The DGP said at least 70 buildings have been set ablaze by miscreants during the ongoing unrest in the Valley. “53 of these 70 buildings have been damaged totally,” the police chief said. He said the restoration of normalcy will remain the top priority for the forces in coming days. “While a semblance of normalcy has been restored, there is no scope for complacency. Police will continue its drive against miscreants,” he said.At the meeting, Deputy Commissioners and SSPs of Kashmir division made detailed presentations on the ongoing development works, some of which have been affected due to the situation. They also provided figures on the number of cases filed over the last four months and the arrests made in those cases.

250-300 militants active in J&K, says state police chief

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It’s official—there are 250 to 300 militants active in the terror-plagued Jammu and Kashmir. Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police Koondaveeti Rajendra Kumar said the continuing infiltration along the border is a cause of worry which can “change the whole game”.“While the intensity (of protests and street violence) has come down, the situation is extremely fragile. At present, 250-300 militants are active. Given the present situation, we need to have a road map for next two to three months,” he said while addressing the meeting of top civil and police officials chaired by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.Rajendra said at least 70 buildings were set ablaze by miscreants during the ongoing situation with 53 of them damaged completely. “The restoration of normalcy will remain the top priority for the forces in the coming days.While a semblance of normalcy has been restored, there is no scope for complacency. Police will continue its drive against miscreants,” he said.On this occasion, Mehbooba announced that her government would review cases against those youths who have been participating in street protests in the last four months.“We will review those cases where students and first-timers are found to be involved. We will talk to their parents and get their assurances that their wards will not participate in protests in future. We can’t go on arresting people. There should be a different and empathetic plan of action to contain the situation,” Mehbooba said.

SP among 100 injured in Kashmir clashes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> At least 100 people, including a Superintendent of Police (SP) and 35 other security personnel, were injured on Wednesday in clashes between stone-pelting mobs and law enforcing agencies in different parts of Kashmir valley, officials said.The intense clashes took place in Soura area in the outskirts of Srinagar after police tried to arrest some youth allegedly involved in disturbing law and order, leaving 80 people including SP Hazratbal and 35 other securitymen injured, they said. Among the civilians injured, three received pellet injures while another was hit by a tear-smoke shell during the clashes which continued throughout the day, the officials said.The clashes broke out when police, assisted by paramilitary forces, launched a cordon and search operation to nab some youth in Anchar locality of Soura, they said. Commenting on the incident, a police spokesman said “miscreants in large numbers pelted stones heavily upon the deployments at Anchar-Soura resulting in grievous injuries to SP Hazratbal and 35 other police and security forces personnel. “While dealing with the law and order in the area, three civilians who were part of the mob also sustained injuries.They were shifted to SKIMS Soura for treatment. The condition of all of them is stated to be stable,” the spokesman said. He said a Deputy Superintendent of Police was injured during another clash which took place between stone-pelting protesters and security forces at Tarzoo village of Sopore township in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district. However, officials said 15 people were hurt in the clashes during which police fired dozens of teargas shells and used batons to restore law and order.In Shopian district of south Kashmir, the spokesman said miscreants pelted stones on police and security forces deployed at Dachoo, Rabben, Nagbal and Sugan during the day.Police chased the protesters, using mild force, he said. However, officials said at least five persons sustained minor injuries in the clashes.

Bhopal jailbreak: Constable killed by SIMI activists was preparing for daughter’s wedding

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Head Constable Ramashankar Yadav, killed by SIMI activists for escaping from jail in Bhopal, was a doting father who was excited over forthcoming marriage of his daughter but the tragedy has now pushed the family into profound grief.”Ramashankar was happy and excited over his 24-year-old daughter Sonia’s wedding scheduled for December 9,” his nephew Vijay Shanker Yadav said.Ramashankar, who had earlier suffered a heart attack, was busy making arrangement for the wedding, he said.”My uncle was busy making arrangements for his daughter’s marriage. But as fate had it, we got the news of his killing by SIMI men this morning,” Vijay said.Ramashankar’s two sons — Shambhunath (36) and Prabhunath (32) — are in Army, who are currently posted at Guwahati and Hissar, respectively. While Prabhunath has reached Bhopal, Shambhunath is scheduled to arrive late tonight, he said.”My uncle’s body is at morgue after postmortem. His mortal remains will be consigned to flames tomorrow,” he added. A pall of gloom has descended on Yadav family after the incident.”We will sit and talk whether to go ahead with the wedding or postpone it,” Vijay added.

Month after surgical strikes: Appraisal of India’s new strategy of dealing with Pakistan

Exactly a month ago, Indian special forces crossed the Line of Control (LoC) to prevent imminent infiltration of Pakistan-sponsored terrorists into Indian territory. While this was certainly not the first time such an action was undertaken, the government’s decision to publicise this attack and, therefore, signal to Pakistan that it no longer buys the logic of inexorable escalation that was supposed to follow any Indian breach of the LoC – however limited – certainly establishes New Delhi’s intention to forge a new course in its dealings with Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

This is as good as any occasion gets to record what the strikes have established – and what they haven’t.

The Prime Minister is unpredictable – and that strengthens India’s hand

Consider this. Following the Uri attack on 18 September, the BJP’s core constituency was all but baying for blood. So when it was the Prime Minister’s turn to speak at the Kozhikode conclave on 23 September, it was natural for many to expect him to hint at a military response to come.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

This was not the case. Instead Modi spoke of a thousand-year war against poverty that both countries were urged to fight and win, and made a direct appeal to the people of Pakistan, reminding them of the common thread of history that united the two countries. It looked to all but a few sanguine PM-watchers that the military option was closed – and Delhi was back to the ‘more-of-same’ policy.

Wrong. It is now clear that soon after the Uri attack, the government had decided on a military response, albeit on a limited scale, and with precise counter-terrorism objectives in mind. By highlighting the common challenges both the countries faced – and by invoking the bonds between them – Modi softened the blow to come, and cleverly delinked the people of Pakistan from the military regime there. By keeping both his domestic base as well as Rawalpindi guessing, Modi has lived up to the maxim that, in strategy, surprise is paramount.

Pakistan, beyond bluster, is a traditional power which knows when to back off

An article of faith, evangelised mostly by Washington DC scholars and think-tankers, has been that any Indian military response to Pakistan-sponsored terrorism would be ineffective and/or escalatory – do too little and it wouldn’t matter; do too much, and a general war will follow under a nuclear overhang. India didn’t seem to have good force-based deterrence or compellence options in front of it, these mandarins suggested. (It is deliciously coincidental that two of the most prominent American voices who have argued along these lines were actually in Delhi a couple of days before the 28 September strikes making these very arguments.)

At the heart of this perceived lack of options is another deep-rooted perception of Pakistan as a non-unitary, irrational actor where no single entity possessed a monopoly on the use of force, and where the state fails to coldly calculate the costs versus benefits of escalation. To a large extent, Pakistani players have cultivated this image for themselves. Henry Kissinger once said (ironically enough, during a visit to Peshawar in the early 1960s): “A madman who is holding a hand grenade in his hand has a very great bargaining advantage.” Pakistan became the quintessential madman in the eyes of many American – and Indian – decision makers and analysts.

By denying that the surgical strikes even took place, Pakistan chose to de-escalate. By choosing to de-escalate, Rawalpindi, beyond the facade of an ideologically-driven revisionist power, demonstrated that it is quite attuned to rational cost-benefit calculations behind retaliation. The madman is quite adept at poker, it seems.

So much for escalation, but was the strike effective? While a single cross-LoC action with very limited objectives is unlikely to change Pakistan’s behaviour completely, Cyril Almeida’s Dawn column – and the attendant kerfuffle in Rawalpindi – does attest to the fact that it did, in conjunction with Pakistan’s growing isolation in the international stage, nudge the Sharif government in the direction of a rethink vis-a-vis Pakistan’s addition to the employment of proxies. The strikes were a first step in, what analyst
Manoj Joshi called, India’s emerging strategy of compellence.

Strategic restraint is dead. Long live strategic restraint!

Senior BJP leader Ram Madhav, hours after the Uri attack, warned Pakistan that the era of “strategic restraint is over.” But do the surgical strikes really mean that it is so?

Yes and no. Yes, to the extent that ‘strategic restraint’ was nothing but a sophisticated-sounding euphemism for India’s default “do-nothing” option of the past, perhaps motivated by self-deterrence in face of certain escalation terminating in nuclear war. In other words, if ‘strategic restraint’ is a matter of necessity and not choice – a restraint forced on India rather than adopted by India – then the strikes indeed mark the end of an era.

No, to the extent that restraint, as a strategy, often compliments resolve. Together, resolve – when it comes to necessary application of force – and restraint – which directs limited force towards clear-cut achievement of political objectives – are both needed for successful deterrence, a point brilliantly made by the Nobel-winning game theorist Roger Myerson. In fact, restraining resolve often enhances deterrence, as Myerson showed. The 28 September strikes demonstrated both. It was restrained both in the choice of forces employed (land-based, and not air-power based), scope (shallow penetration of territory India claims to be its own) as well its diplomatic billing (counter-terrorism operation aimed at neutralising imminent infiltration rather than taking the fight to the Pakistani conventional army).

28 September, 2016 – in other words – would mark as a day when India adopted restraint as a strategy to compliment strategic resolve. The effective marriage of the two would determine the contours of India’s Pakistan strategy in the years to come.

The author is a fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi and a national security columnist for Firstpost. Views expressed here are personal. He tweets @AbhijnanRej.

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