Monthly Archives: OCTOBER 2016


Akhilesh Yadav to be CM face in Uttar Pradesh
17.10.16 - TEAM PT
Akhilesh Yadav to be CM face in Uttar Pradesh



The Samajwadi Party on Monday announced that Akhilesh Yadav will be its chief ministerial face in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections again.

Briefing the media, party vice-president Kironmoy Nanda said the announcement had the approval of party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.
 
Addressing a press conference in the past week, Mulayam had refrained from declaring his son as the chief ministerial candidate, saying that the decision would be taken by Samajwadi Party’s legislature panel after the elections would be concluded.
 
The declaration by the 76-year-old leader came a day after his cousin Ram Gopal Yadav penned a hard-hitting letter to him, saying, "History is ruthless. It spares no one.” Ram Gopal further added that Akhilesh is undoubtedly the most popular leader in Uttar Pradesh, and stated that there should be no ambiguity regarding the chief ministerial face of SP.
 
Ram Gopal further warned that Mulayam would be solely responsible for his comments if Samajwadi Party ends up winning less than 100 seats in the coming elections.
 
He had on Sunday warned Mulayam Singh that history would not forgive him if he did not project Akhilesh Yadav as the chief ministerial candidate.
 
Soon after getting the letter, Mulayam Singh met Ram Gopal Yadav in New Delhi for some three hours.
 
The crisis in the Samajwadi Party started after Akhilesh was removed as the party's Uttar Pradesh chief and replaced by his uncle Shivpal last month. Akhilesh has also expressed his displeasure at Mulayam making Amar Singh a top party functionary.
 
The assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh are expected to be held in February-March 2017. 




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Varanasi stampede: 24 killed; During Overcrowded Religious Event
15.10.16 - TEAM PT
Varanasi stampede: 24 killed; During Overcrowded Religious Event



At least 24 people were killed and many were injured in a stampede at a religious gathering on the outskirts of Uttar Pradesh's Varanasi on Saturday. 

The incident took place when thousands of followers of religious leader Jai Gurudev were on their way to Domri village on the banks of the Ganga to take part in the two-day camp, police said.

About one lakh devotees took part in the procession despite the fact that permission was sought for a gathering of only 3,000 people.

 A man died of suffocation because of the surging crowds, which led to panic. Rumours that the bridge had collapsed fueled more chaos, said police chief Javeed Ahmed.

"We are investigating crowd management and will take action against those responsible," Mr Ahmed said.
 
Spokesman of Jai Gurudev Sansthan Raj Bahadur said the devotees were proceeding towards the camp, but police started sending them back though they kept on thronging the bridge.

This led to rumours that the bridge ahead has collapsed leading to stampede, Raj Bahadur said, alleging there was a serious lapse on the part of the administration.
 
Senior police and administration officials of Varansi and Chandauli have rushed to the spot to carry out relief and rescue operations.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi , who is also the MP from Varanasi, expressed anguish over the incident and asked senior officials to take stock of the situation. He also announced a solatium of Rs 2 lakh each to the families of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to those injured.

"Deeply saddened by the loss of lives in the stampede in Varanasi. Condolences to the bereaved families. Prayers with those injured," the PM tweeted.

"I have spoken to officials and asked them to ensure all possible help to those affected due to the stampede in Varanasi," he said in another tweet.
 
Jai Gurudev, who died in 2012, is among several self-styled "godmen" who enjoy cult-like following among thousands of followers. The sect made headlines earlier this year when 24 people including two police officers were killed in violence at a park where devotees had been squatting for two years.
 
This is not the first time that a stampede has cost precious lives. In the recent past, during Mayawati’s rally, two women were killed and 21 people injured in a stampede at the main gate of the Kanshi Ram Smarak Sthal after BSP chief Mayawati addressed a huge gathering there to mark party founder Kanshi Ram’s tenth death anniversary.




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Will India's tax evasion amnesty scheme curb 'black money'?
14.10.16 - Sanjoy Majumder*
Will India's tax evasion amnesty scheme curb 'black money'?



Earlier this month, the Indian government announced that tens of thousands of people had taken advantage of a tax evasion amnesty scheme to declare more than $9.5bn (£7.3bn) in undisclosed incomes and assets.

It's being seen as a financial windfall for the government and also being described as an unqualified success at tackling the country's long-standing underground economy or black money problem.

Cash transactions are a way of life in India. They could involve simple purchases on the street, or large-scale ones involving suitcases stuffed with used notes to buy automobiles or even property.

A significant part of this cash flow is hidden from the government, to avoid paying tax.

Cleaning up this system and cracking down on black money has been a stated goal for India's Narendra Modi-led government.
 
'Secrecy'
 
From June this year, the government ran a highly visible campaign, entreating citizens to use a four-month window to declare previously undisclosed assets and incomes in exchange for complete immunity from prosecution as well as anonymity, so long as they paid 45% in taxes and penalties.

"We conducted a series of town-hall meetings all over the country," says Hasmukh Adhia, India's revenue secretary.
"All the top officials as well as local-level tax commissioners attended. People had a lot of doubts about the scheme but we assured them of the secrecy aspect," he added.
 
All sorts of people took advantage of the amnesty scheme.

A group of street food vendors from Mumbai are said to have contributed $7.5m. A real estate developer from Gujarat, Naresh Agrawal, who says he has an annual turnover of $45m, declared the equivalent of $6m.

"The rules have become much more stringent now. If you get caught using black money to strike a real estate deal, you have to pay 100% tax and penalties. No builder wants to take that risk," Mr Agrawal said.

"Earlier you were always nervous of getting caught. Now that I have disclosed everything, I can sleep easier."

'Property deals'

That's the reason why many believes this scheme has worked so well, especially when compared to previous attempts, because the government is making it harder for people to conduct large cash transactions.

"A lot of black money would get exchanged as part of property deals," says Shalini Jain, a tax consultant with global financial services company, Ernst and Young.

"Now the government has made it mandatory to cut tax at source in these transactions, so it brings to attention any property transaction. This has discouraged many from going ahead with it."

By some estimates, the government could raise nearly $4.5bn from the scheme. But it may not be as good as it sounds.
 
Only 3% of India's 1.2 billion strong population are said to pay income tax, yet less than 65,000 people came forward during this amnesty programme.

Economist Arun Kumar points out that it's only a fraction of the country's undisclosed wealth.

"You have to account for not just undeclared income but also the wealth it generates after it is invested, used to buy property etc," he says.

"By my estimate, India's undisclosed wealth is about 60% of its GDP, which makes it around $1.35 trillion."

And, the big fish may have got away.

"We have to wait for the final breakdown but it appears that most of those who came forward are small business owners or relatively small players. The big hoarders have either not taken part or have only disclosed a nominal amount of their holdings," Prof Kumar adds.

The government says it plans to use the money to fund public welfare programmes, so in effect it will plough the recovered wealth back into the economy.

It's already been described as a resounding success. But it's unlikely that it will make India's black money problem go away.
 
(courtesy: BBC.com)




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Centre opposes triple talaq, polygamy; urges SC to see practice in light on gender justice
07.10.16 -
Centre opposes triple talaq, polygamy; urges SC to see practice in light on gender justice



In a first such instance in the history of independent India, the central government today told the Supreme Court that it is against the practice of triple talaq that allows a Muslim man to divorce his wife by pronouncing the word ‘talaq’ three times.

The Ministry of Law and Justice, in its affidavit, referred to constitutional principles like gender equality, secularism, international covenants, religious practices and marital law prevalent in various Islamic countries to drive home the point that the practice of triple talaq and polygamy needed to be adjudicated upon afresh by the apex court.

"It is submitted that the issue of validity of triple talaq, ‘nikah halala’ and polygamy needs to be considered in the light of principles of gender justice and the overriding principle of non-discrimination, dignity and equality,” the affidavit filed by Mukulita Vijayawargiya, additional secretary in the Ministry, said.

The constitution allows Muslims, the biggest religious minority group in the country, to regulate matters such as marriage, divorce and inheritance through their own civil code.

The Supreme Court has been examining how much it can interfere in Muslim laws governing family-related issues as it hears a plea to end the practice which permits Muslim men to divorce their wives by saying talaq three times.

The top court had asked the government to weigh in on the debate as to whether intervening in the law would violate the Muslim community's fundamental rights.

Women's rights activists have long called for reform of the Muslim personal law which they say discriminates against women. What they want instead is a well-defined law that criminalises polygamy, unilateral divorce and child marriage.

Campaigners say the "triple talaq" practice - which allows Muslim men an instant divorce with Muslim women being divorced via Facebook, Skype and text message - is unconstitutional because it violates the right to equality.

Responding to a batch of petitions including the one filed by Shayaro Bano challenging the validity of such practices among Muslims, the Centre first dealt with the right of gender equality under the Constitution.

"The fundamental question for determination by this court is whether, in a secular democracy, religion can be a reason to deny equal status and dignity available to women under the Constitution of India,” it said.

Referring to constitutional principles, it said that "any practice by which women are left ‘socially, financially or emotionally vulnerable’ or subject to the whims and caprice of menfolk is incompatible with the letter and spirit of Article 14 and 15 (Right to Equality) of the Constitution”.

Earlier, the top decision-making body for Muslims in India, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, said the court cannot interfere in the religious freedom of minorities and "rewrite personal laws in the name of social reform".

The petition being considered by the Supreme Court also seeks an end to polygamy and 'halala', which mandates that if a woman wants to go back to her husband after a divorce, she must first consummate her marriage with another man.




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Every Indian wants Surgical Strikes Against Pak but not a fake one: Sanjay Nirupam
04.10.16 - TEAM PT
Every Indian wants Surgical Strikes Against Pak but not a fake one: Sanjay Nirupam



Just a day after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal questioned the authenticity of India’s  ‘surgical strike’ claims,  another Indian politician has demanded credible evidence of the incident from the Indian government.
 
Courting a massive controversy earlier in the day, Nirupam called on the Centre to give proof of the surgical strike that took place in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), while asserting that India was by not doing so, being insulted by Pakistan in the international arena.

"Every Indian wants #SurgicalStrikesAgainstPak but not a fake one to extract just political benefit by #BJP. Politics over national interest," he tweeted.
 

Attacked for the comment, he later clarified, "I'm not saying you release all video footage, I don't think so either... as it may not be in the interest of national security... but there is a need to show some proof."

"The way BJP was indulging in politics, putting up banners and taking credit gives a view whether such strikes did happen. In Goa, the Defence Minister (Manohar Parrikar) is being publicly felicitated. Why were earlier surgical strikes not announced in a press conference? Why was a press conference done now (by DGMO Lt Gen Ranbir Singh)?. Was there any pressure from the government?" he asked.
 
Congress later disowned its leader Sanjay Nirupam's suggestion that last week's surgical strikes across the Line of Control are "fake" unless the government offers proof.
 
The Congress spokesperson said: "We have taken serious note of Sanjay Nirupam's statements."

At the same time, the party said the government must "call Pakistan's bluff".

"It's time for the government to expose Pakistan's malicious propaganda. The evidence should be made public," said party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala.

Mr Nirupam's challenging of the government and army's account of what transpired comes as the BJP derided Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram for seeking proof of the cross-LoC strikes.

Mr Chidambaram on Monday said it is up to the government to furnish evidence. Mr Kejriwal has said that while he lauds PM Modi's firm handling of Pakistan, foreign media reports including in The New York Times and Washington Post are furthering Pakistan's false propaganda. Though he stopped short of asking for the video of the strikes to be shared, Mr Kejriwal said the PM must act to counter the reports, which were filed by journalists who were taken to villages on Pakistan's side of the Line of Control by the Pakistani army. Villagers there joined army generals in declaring that India had not crossed the de facto border last week.




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Comment by: Kunal Ravi Gupta

It's embarrassing to see a politician of your stature as speaking against own country. You should be thrown out of the country. You should shift to Pakistan as you are the ambassador for them. As an Indian I am proud of my country and my soldiers who stand at the border for me and my fellow Indians. I am shocked by your statement. Today, when we are expected to stand together as Indian, you are concerned about your personal gain and your so called pathetic party. Simple question, are you an Indian?

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