Mumbai: Former chairman of Jet Airways Naresh Goyal and his wife Anita Goyal were denied permission to travel abroad Saturday by the immigration authority at Mumbai airport, sources said. The couple was to travel by Dubai-bound Emirates flight EK 507 when the immigration authority denied them permission to fly, they said. The checked in baggage, which was in the name of Anita Goyal, was also offloaded from the flight. The flight was scheduled to depart at 3.35 pm. Also Read – Pak activated 20 terror camps & 20 launch pads along LoC Naresh Goyal could not be reached for comments. Response to a query sent to Emirates was also awaited. Last month, Jet Airways officers and staff association president Kiran Pawaskar had written to the Mumbai police commissioner that the passports of Goyal and other directors and senior members of the Jet Airways management be impounded as the airline had not paid salaries to its employees for several months. Naresh Goyal, along with Anita Goyal, had resigned from the board of Jet Airways, which he founded 26 years ago, in March following a debt restructuring plan. He had also resigned as the airline chairman.
New Delhi: Two men who were returning from a gym were shot dead in Delhi, police said on Thursday. The incident took place in Jyoti Nagar area of North East Delhi on Wednesday night. “The number of shooters is still not clear. Initially, it looks like a case of murder because of personal enmity,” said a senior police officer.
London: Actor David Harbour says the new season of ‘Stranger Things’ will examine his character, Chief Jim Hopper’s relationship with his adopted daughter, Eleven. Harbour said season three will explore their dynamic and how it is changing now that Eleven is growing up, reported Digital Spy. “Eleven is growing up and I think that’s the terrifying thing for Hopper. He doesn’t like the idea of his baby daughter hanging out with boys. So the season starts with him a little bit uncomfortable. Also Read – Pollution makes you more aggressive”His daughter is becoming a teenager and beginning to find herself, so that’s scarier for Hopper than any Demogorgon creature that he’s going to have to deal with,” Harbour said at MCM Comic-Con. The actor teased that the episode eight of the new season is something to look out for. “You get to see a lot of that throughout the season and it’s very unexpected what happens in the end and it’s very, very moving. I think episode eight is the most moving thing we’ve ever shot,” he said. The series has received 31 Emmy Award nominations, including for Outstanding Drama Series, four Golden Globe Award nominations, and won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series in 2016. ‘Stranger Things 3’ will launch on Netflix on July 4.
In the era of technology, drafting regulations to govern them is perhaps the kind of safeguards we ought to realise. Technology along with good intent has been a boon for mankind. Today we are environed by technology, misuse of which can have deleterious effects on our present and future. Policies around technologies, which have the potential to become detrimental to us in the wrong hands, are necessary. The bank-related frauds that have cautioned account holders of deceit regarding their accounts and cards are a kind of example of misusing technology for detrimental purposes. Online transactions, account management and bank affairs are one set of safeguards that we require – which have been proactively provided by banks in the form of information and measures to stay secure – for our security. But since we now have more data which can be stolen or misused, there ought to be more safeguards to protect ourselves. In the age of cyber advancement, cybersecurity becomes utterly important. With India emerging as the second country with most-Internet access, protection of data has risen to be a priority. Not just personal data but institutional, governmental, intelligence, et al. Data today drives the world and internet is pervasive. And, things which drive the world – money and now data – will always be lucrative for those with malice intent. It is this inevitable situation of data protection that urges governments and institutions to bring up security measures. The government plays a crucial part in data protection and cybersecurity. It has the capacity to govern the internet – which drives data across interfaces – through a robust framework which will act as a regulator. In this regard, NITI Aayog’s efforts to draft a policy on artificial intelligence and cybersecurity take a leap towards the next step of protecting and regulating data technology. Fiction novels and movies show how data in future can be as priceless as identity. Not to say that it is the case today but we are not far from that. Right from the Aadhaar Card which has our biometrics to our profiles on social networking websites which house our personal information; data is vulnerable. Of course, there are safeguards but those have been breached and it is, therefore, in public interest to build a framework and draft legislation which governs it, and directly, not pseudo governance through existing legislatures regarding technology. India has embarked on the path of digitisation and comprehensive digitisation is underway. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are two parts which need to be explored under this proposed security draft. With the advent of AI and ML, cybersecurity is headed for paradigm changes and NITI Aayog’s attempt to cook policies regarding those is a step in the right direction. Developing centres of excellence in AI and ML across the country will not only empower research along those but also train professionals and increase competencies. Considering how AI and ML are part of the next revolution in technology and industry, it is crucial to harness benefits from developing both, that too indigenously, while providing a safe environment for its application. This will create capacity for skilled labour and operators, increasing employability – a major concern for India right now. Apart from industrial training and general research, AI and ML should also be taught to students in universities on a grand scale to create a technically-proficient pool which will be instrumental to the AI and ML market. Also Read – Securing nutritionCybersecurity is one aspect of growing technology. India must also look forward to setting up centres for developing these on a scale where it contributes to our net exports. Manufacture of technology-driven commodities will expand India’s market and help India become a global player in the technology market. With this view in mind, the National Policy on Software Products – approved by the Cabinet earlier this year – aims to transform India from a net importer of software products into a net exporter. Skilling people in augmented reality (AR), AI, ML, etc., remains as important as safeguarding those in the collective interest of the nation. With the pace that India has portrayed in adopting digital payments, transition into AI and ML-driven lives is not a far cry. We must prepare, for the world is set to be all the more technological.
Kolkata: Renowned Hindusthani vocalist Samaresh Chowdhury died of a heart attack at a private nursing home in Durgapur on Thursday night.He was 64 years old. His mortal remains were brought to Nilachal Housing Estate where he lived later it taken to Narendrapur Ramakrishna Mission where he studied and later worked as a teacher. His mortal remain were also taken to Rajya Sangeet Academy. He was cremated at the Keoratala crematorium on Friday evening. Chowdhury was a popular teacher because of his simplicity, sincerity and good manners. He was a brilliant teacher and worked very hard to help his students to learn the nuances of Hindusthani classical music.
Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee appealed to the junior doctors on Saturday to end their strike and resume work at the earliest as hundreds of patients await medical treatment, including children and the elderly.Claiming that the government has taken all measures for their safety and security, she reiterated that no action like promulgation of the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) will be taken against the agitating doctors. Also Read – IAF receives its first Rafale fighter jet from FranceThe reaction of the Chief Minister came after a representation from the junior doctors from NRS Medical College & Hospital did not turn up for talks at Nabanna on Saturday despite the former giving them time for a meeting with her. “Healthcare is an essential service that cannot be stopped. I will appeal to them on behalf of the government to please join work on humanitarian grounds and restore normalcy by lifting the strike. I will not take any action against them. Let good sense prevail,” Banerjee said. Also Read – Cosmology trio win Nobel Physics PrizeShe also reiterated that “one must show respect to the constitutional body”. “I have cancelled all my programmes and waited for them on Friday. I did the same today (Saturday) as the government is keen to resolve the impasse. I think the state Secretariat, Nabanna, is the highest place for holding talks on such matters. We have shown enough patience and have already adhered to all their legitimate demands. We are open to any other additional demands that may be put forth… But we want an amicable solution to this problem. I have spoken to the Governor and he is convinced,” she maintained. The CM referred to a number of instances where other governments had taken strong action against the agitating doctors. “The BJP government under Modi in 2009 had imposed ESMA and arrested 150 doctors on strike. The Tamil Nadu government had increased internship of the doctors from one to two years. But I believe in democracy and my government is extremely sensitive to their demands. I don’t want to take any stern action against them as it will be a blot on their careers forever. Some junior doctors met me today (Saturday) and have said they want to join work. I am hopeful that soon more and more doctors will resume their duties,” she added.
Tel Aviv: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu have used their “excellent” personal equation to deepen the bilateral ties which are moving in an “upward trajectory”, India’s Ambassador to Israel Pavan Kapoor has said.Ties between India and Israel, into the 27th year now, strengthened with Modi’s historic visit to the country in July 2017 during first term, Kapoor told PTI. Stating that the relationship is moving in an “upward trajectory”, the envoy said, “Modi and Netanyahu share an excellent equation and it is in their tenure that we have had Modi coming to Israel for the first time and Netanyahu visiting India”. Modi visited Israel in July 2017, the first visit by an Indian prime minister in 70 years. During the historic visit, the personal chemistry and the warmth between Modi and Netanyahu, also known as Bibi, were apparent not only in their prepared remarks but also their repeated hugs. In their prepared speeches, both leaders described each other as, “my friend” and embraced each other three times. Ambassador Kapoor said that a lot of people from India and Israel are travelling to each other’s countries for work and leisure and that has pushed tourism. “I think what both (Modi and Netanyahu) have tried to do is to build this connection between the institutions so that the relationship grows in all sectors. They have expanded and deepened the relationship in several areas and it is bound to increase,” Kapoor said. He specifically singled out the post-conscription visits by Israelis to India as a special draw to find “solace”. “People of both countries are spending, experiencing each other’s countries. A large number of Israeli people travel to India after their military service and they go and find solace (in India), they spend many months travelling and they have a good experience,” he said. Indian tourist arrivals to Israel has jumped to 70,000 last year from 12,000 earlier, he said. “It is a Holy Land… we have a lot of pilgrimage tourist coming in for visit to Jerusalem,” Kapoor said. He said yoga, which originated in ancient India, is popular in Israel too. “Yoga is very popular here. The popularity for yoga is huge, the number of yoga teachers per capita is highest in this country,” he said. Speaking about the cultural similarities, the envoy said that just like Indians, Jewish people have close ties with families and sit down for dinners Friday evening.
Kolkata: The Metro Railway, Kolkata has increased its earning from ticket selling by almost 4 percent, compared to the previous financial year. On Wednesday, General Manager (GM) of Metro Railway P C Sharma stated that Metro authorities have successfully increased the revenue not only by ticket selling, but from all angles.On Wednesday, Sharma handed over awards to selected Metro Railway staff members who had rendered their meritorious services in different spheres during 2018-19. He also informed that this year, Esplanade has been declared as the ‘Best Kept Station’ of the year. Also Read – City bids adieu to Goddess DurgaApart from the earnings, Sharma also stated that keeping the hassle-free commuting of passengers in mind, several aged escalators are being replaced by new ones. Some of the work has already been done, while several others are in the pipeline. Five new escalators will be commissioned shortly in different Metro stations. “We are committed to provide good service to the commuters and for that we are continuously upgrading the system,” said Sharma. Also Read – Centuries-old Durga Pujas continue to be hit among revellersApart from the infrastructure, Sharma claimed that Metro authorities have taken the security matter very seriously as well. During last year, Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel had intervened and prevented several crimes. According to his claim, 12 cases of crime against women commuters had been detected and 22 offenders had been detained and handed over to the police last year. RPF personnel at different Metro stations had also saved 20 persons from committing suicide and rescued 37 children who were lost. He further informed that among the new projects, the piling work of Bimanbandar (Airport) underground yard construction, which is going to be the largest underground yard in India, will be completed this year.
Lucknow: Following in the footsteps of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has now asked “corrupt, tainted and non-performing” officials to take voluntary retirement or else they will be forcibly retired. Recently the Modi government had “forcibly retired” 15 senior IT officials on similar grounds. Adityanath, while reviewing the performance of secretariat administration department on Thursday evening, said that there was no room for corrupt and non-working officials in his government. The Chief Minister mentioned the arrest of three private secretaries in January who were caught on camera taking bribe and said that he had zero tolerance for such acts. He also said that “outsiders” coming to the Vidhan Bhawan, secretariat annexe and other government buildings should not be allowed to carry mobile phones. This order comes in the wake of the fact that lately, there have been several instances of mobile recordings making their way to TV channels. These recordings are related to poor behaviour by government employees, lack of cleanliness in government building and the presence of touts in some departments. The Chief Minister further directed that meeting halls and auditorium in the newly constructed Lok Bhawan should be completed at the earliest and also be named after “inspiring” leaders. He further ordered removal of banners, posters and hoardings from the surroundings of Vidhan Bhawan and Lok Bhawan.
Kolkata/Darjeeling: The Regional Meteorological Center at Alipore on Tuesday forecast heavy rain in the districts of south Bengal owing to an active monsoon condition by the end of this month.Heavy to very heavy rain have been predicted in all the districts of South Bengal with the intensity likely to be more in the coastal districts of East Midnapore, South 24-Parganas and North 24-Parganas. There is also prediction of heavy to very heavy rainfall in the Western districts such as Purulia, Bankura, West Midnapore, Birbhum, Jhargram in the next few days. Also Read – City bids adieu to Goddess DurgaThe intensity of rainfall in North Bengal districts will reduce from Wednesday. All the districts in North Bengal had received heavy to very heavy rainfall in the past few days whereas the South Bengal districts only witnessed some scattered rainfall. The heat and humidity was high in South Bengal districts for the past two weeks. The prediction of heavy rainfall in the city and other South Bengal districts by the end of this month has given a sense of relief to the people who were under the spell of intense heat. Also Read – Centuries-old Durga Pujas continue to be hit among revellersA low pressure area is also expected to form over Bay of Bengal and adjoining West Bengal and Odisha coasts. It may further intensify the situation. Rains will be accompanied by the thunderstorm in some parts of the districts. The city may also witness gusty winds along with rain. “The metropolis, which has been experiencing sweltering heat for the last few days, is likely to receive heavy rain after June 28. There had been a delay in the advent of monsoon in the state. It had made its official entry a few days ago but no heavy rainfall occurred in South Bengal so far. A scattered rainfall in some parts also contributed to the rise of humidity and discomfort level,” a weather official said. He also said that the intensity of the rainfall in North Bengal will go down from Wednesday where the South Bengal districts are set to receive heavy rainfall. It will reduce the humidity level that has been troubling people for sometime. Incessant rainfall since Monday night in the Kalimpong district has triggered numerous landslides in remote parts of the district. Heavy rainfall in neighbouring Bhutan has resulted in water level of most of the rivers flowing into North Bengal rising heavily with some areas of Dooars being inundated. Rongo was completely cut off owing to a major landslide on the connecting road. In Bindu the house of one Lal Babu’s house was damaged owing to a huge rock falling on the house. Jholung recorded 370 mm of rain. There were numerous landslides in the region. In many parts including Dalgaon parts of the road was washed away. With the rise in water level of the Gairibas stream, communication had come to a standstill. Meanwhile, with the water-level of the Torsa, Murti, Kaljani and other rivers rising considerably many parts of Jaigaon including Jaigaon was inundated. A landslide in a forest village in Kumai washed away a house killing a woman identified Manju Darjee (35) and injuring others.
Mumbai: Filmmaker David Dhawan says the remake of “Coolie No. 1” is a new film, and will explore new zones. Varun Dhawan will be stepping into the shoes of veteran Govinda, who featured in the 1995 film, which was directed by his father David. David is on board to helm the remake as well. Actress Sara Ali Khan will be filling in for Karisma Kapoor from the original. Produced by Vashu Bhagnani, the remake will release on May 1 next year. Also Read – Rihanna to release 500-page ‘visual’ autobiography “After re-watching the original, I started working on the script. For six months, I wondered if I should make it or not,” David said in a statement. “Finally, I decided to adapt it. It’s actually a new film. I’ve worked on it for almost a year with the original writer Rumi Jaffery on the screenplay and Farhad Samji on the dialogue,” he added. David’s “Coolie No 1” released on June 30, 1995. “Ever since I saw ‘Aankhen’, I wanted to work with David Dhawan. And when I happened to meet him, I signed him for a film without knowing what it would be,” Bhagnani said. “Initially, he thought of me as a kid and one day, called me out of the blue to ask if I had seen the Tamil film ‘Chinna Mapillai’, and that we should remake it. Whatever I have learnt about films over the years is because of Davidji,” he added.
CHENNAI: P. Rajagopal’s story has it all: rags to riches, the visionary creator of a trailblazing restaurant chain – and having a romantic rival murdered after some fateful cosmic advice. On Sunday, the founder of Saravana Bhavan, the eatery found in India and beyond – from Leicester Square to Lexington Avenue via Singapore, Sydney and Stockholm – is due to begin a life sentence. Rajagopal, 71, always dressed in white with a strip of sandalwood paste on his forehead, is the pious son of an onion trader from a village in Tamil Nadu. Also Read – Balakot strikes show major shift in govt’s handling of terror attacks: IAF chiefIn 1981, having opened a grocer’s shop in Chennai – then known as Madras – he took the brave step of opening his first restaurant at a time when eating out was unusual for most Indians. The winning formula was, and remains, dosas, vadas and idlis, which taste homemade, and are affordable. The concept spread beyond India, with around 80 outlets abroad today catering mostly to the homesick Indian diaspora in the United States, the Gulf, Europe and Australia. Also Read – Pak activated 20 terror camps, 20 launch pads along LoCHe also treats his staff generously, giving even the lowest-ranking employees benefits like health insurance. In return, they adoringly call him “annachi” (“elder brother”). Alongside Hindu gods, the restaurants invariably have two pictures of him on the wall: one with his sons, who now run the business – and one with his trusted spiritual guru. But his beliefs, by no means unusual in India, proved to be his undoing. In the early 2000s, Rajagopal reportedly took an astrologer’s advice to make a fateful decision – to take as his third wife, the daughter of an employee he had his eye on. The young woman in question was already married and rejected his advances, but Rajagopal is not a man used to taking no for an answer. Threats, beatings and exorcisms directed at the woman, her husband and her family over months all failed, and in 2001 – after one failed attempt – the husband was murdered on Rajagopal’s orders. In 2004, he was found guilty and sentenced to 10 years. On appeal, he was convicted of murder and the sentence increased to life, a decision then upheld by the Supreme Court in March. He is meant to surrender by July 7 and spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Manchester: India’s famed top-order imploded on a day when it mattered most as a gritty New Zealand survived a swift counter-attack from Ravindra Jadeja to win an exciting World Cup semi-final by 18 runs, here Wednesday. Indian top-order had one failure due and much to their horror, the semi-final proved to be their doomsday. Jadeja (77 off 59 balls) used every ounce of his ‘bits and pieces’ skill but the ‘men in blue’ could only get as far as 221 in 49.3 overs in pursuit of 240. Also Read – Squadrons which participated in Balakot air strike awarded citations on IAF DayNew Zealand made it to their second successive final, with credit going to their pacers’ – Matt Henry (3/37) and Trent Boult’s (2/42) – deadly opening spell and Lockie Ferguson’s steely nerve in the penultimate over. The script was eerily similar to the 2015 World Cup semi-final and just like that evening in Sydney, skipper Virat Kohli was once again out cheaply and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (50) was stuck in the middle overs. Mitchell Santner (2/34) bottled Dhoni up and there was too much left for Jadeja to do even as he smacked four sixes and four boundaries to raise hopes of a turnaround. Also Read – SC declines Oil Min request to stay sharing of documents on Reliance penaltyCall it irony, Dhoni, in what could be his last international innings, was run-out by a direct throw from Martin Guptill. This was after Dhoni and Jadeja raised visions of an improbable win after adding 116 runs for the seventh wicket, coming together at 92 for six. Jadeja came in under overcast conditions when all looked lost and then wielded the willow like a sword, proving a point to critics like Sanjay Manjrekar in the most befitting manner. Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the result as “disappointing” but hailed the Virat Kohli-led team’s fighting spirit in the nail-biting thriller.
New Delhi: The government Wednesday extended the 15th Finance Commission’s term by a month till November 30, and mandated the panel to suggest ways for allocation of non-lapsable funds for defence and internal security.The government on November 27, 2017, notified the 15th Finance Commission, headed by N K Singh, to suggest, among other things, the formula for devolution of funds to states by the Centre for five years commencing April 1, 2020. The meeting of the Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Wednesday approved the changes to the Terms of Reference (ToR) of the 15th Finance Commission to address “serious concerns” regarding the allocation of adequate, secure and non-lapsable funds for defence and internal security of India. Also Read – How a psychopath killer hid behind the mask of a devout laity!”Under the ToR of the Commission, it is proposed to ensure an assured allocation of resources towards defence and internal security imperatives. “The amendment provides that 15th Finance Commission shall also examine whether a separate mechanism for funding of defence and internal security ought to be set up and if so how such a mechanism could be operationalised,” an official statement said. Also the Cabinet approved the extension of the term of the Commission up to November 30, 2019. Also Read – Encounter under way in Pulwama, militant killed”It will enable the Commission to examine various comparable estimates for financial projections in view of reforms and the new realities to finalise its recommendations for the period 2020-2025,” the statement added. It further said that the ToR of the Commission takes into account the fiscal /budgetary reforms. The commission was constituted in the backdrop of various major fiscal /budgetary reforms introduced by the government in the past 4 years, like closure of the Planning Commission and its replacement by NITl Aayog, removal of distinction between Non-Plan and Plan expenditure, advancing the budget calendar by one month and passing of the full budget before commencement of the new financial year, introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST) from July 2017 and new FRBM architecture with debt and fiscal deficit path, it said.
The Union Budget for 2019-20 ignored issues of social security and employment and did not show any intent to boost rural India. The Budget tabled by Nirmala Sitharaman on July 5, 2019 was a disappointment for 13 crore rural households dependent on the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). The act continues to fight widespread corruption and administrative negligence 13 years since its inception. Technology-based, centralised, faulty implementation has thrashed local accountabilities and increased leakages. Also Read – A special kind of bondAnyone who has closely observed the jobs scheme based on the act (MGNREGS) will acknowledge that it can be revived only through: Adequate allocation of Budget funds Timely payments to workers Completely decentralising implementation Improving entitlements (ie, wages, compensations and worksite facilities) The Central government failed to acknowledge these issues and tried to paint a false picture—that implementation of MGNREGA has improved in the last five years. Also Read – Insider threat managementIt has made tall claims time and again on MGNREGA implementation through faulty MIS (Management Information system), flawed studies and surveys; but the government is neither keen on providing dignified wages nor allocating adequate funds. The Centre has also unlawfully denied paying minimum wages to workers. Agricultural minimum wages exceed MGNREGA wages in almost all states. The 2019-20 Budget has Rs 60,000 crore for MGNREGA, lower than the Rs 61,084 crore revised estimate for 2018-19. This reduction in the budget has no explanation. Independent activists, researchers and organisations working on MGNREGA have repeatedly claimed with rationales that the scheme can’t function properly with anything less than Rs 88,000 crore. The Centre had to allocate supplementary budgets for three straight years after original allocations were exhausted in the first few months of the respective financial years due to heavy demand from workers. Supplementary allocations, however, were considerably delayed and slowed down work across the nation. The government has the power to release funds centrally to workers’ accounts and the luxury to control the pace of the programme through slowing down administrative processes, non-release of funds to states and delay allocating supplementary budget. Therefore, it becomes easy for them to play with the numbers on the MIS and keep the figures well below the targets set at the beginning of the year. Going by MIS figures, the Centre generally argues that allocated funds are adequate and supplementary funds are used to manage the deficit. However, the truth is that the potential, need, and demand for work are much more than what is finally shown as achieved on the MIS. There are currently about 13 crore job card (JC) holding families in the nation, of which 7.5 crore households have worked at least one day in the last three years (recorded as active JCs), according to the official website. To ensure adequate opportunities for these 13 crore households to access 100 days’ employment, the government needs to allocate at least Rs 2.8 lakh crore (Rs 217/person/day). Even if the government intends to provide allocations for at least 50 days’ employment for active JC-holding families, nothing less than Rs 81,000 crore will be required annually. Allocation for a year includes pending liabilities of previous years. That has ranged Rs 5,000-10,000 crore in the past three years, eating into the budget in real terms. Also, budget calculations never adjust for inflation. Work demand for NREGS Let’s look at another perspective to understand the inadequacy. Considering each application demands work for at least 14 days, according to 2018-19 data, the government should allocate funds for at least 310 crore person-days. The government though approved only 256 crore person-days in ’18-19 and 258 crore for ’19-20. Registered work demands on MIS are far less than the actual needs and demands. Genuine work demands are not registered in most regions and dated receipts are not provided, thereby denying employment to workers. Moreover, people also do not get work under MGNREGA despite being in need as adequate schemes are not opened by local administration. In some areas of certain states, MGNREGA work opens only during specific seasons and time. The centre needs to ensure uninterrupted operations by primarily ensuring allocation of adequate funds for the programme. The Centre should respect the idea of the decentralised planning processes through Gram Sabhas across the country and allow adequate fund allotment, according to labour budgets provided by each Gram Panchayats. NREGA wages Workers across the nation have been demanding higher wages in accordance with the recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission, but to no avail. Different committees constituted by the Centre vouched for higher MGNREGA wages, but they have been conveniently ignored. The recent central committee for fixation of national minimum wage, headed by Anoop Satpathy, recommended that the national minimum wage should be fixed at Rs 375 per day. Union Minister for Rural Development Narendra Singh Tomar, however, recently said the national minimum wage will not be applicable to MGNREGA and will be governed by its own law. His knowledge and understanding of the Act seem incomplete as it primarily states that the MGNREGA wages cannot be less than the minimum wage. These open violations of the law raise a question mark on the government’s intention for the poorest communities. Further, the Centre’s valiant attempts to prove that payments have been streamlined through the Aadhaar-linked payments (ALP) system, is a joke on the workers who have been suffering due to the centralised Aadhaar-based payments (ABP) system. MGNREGA and Economic Survey The recent Economic Survey indicated that prior to 2015 when direct benefit transfer (DBT) via ABP came into effect, all MGNREGA payments were done through Gram Panchayat bank accounts. It is a false claim. The Centre had been making payments to the bank accounts of workers from 2011 through electronic fund management system (E-FMS). It is, however, not very difficult to understand why 2015 has been taken as a benchmark. The Survey mentioned that ABP reduced duplication of job cards and depleted corruption at local levels. This government has been quite active in the past few years to establish the narrative that Aadhaar has been able to wipe out ghost beneficiaries from the system and managed to save significant tax money, which has been invested in other developmental and welfare activities. The narrative of ‘Aadhaar-based savings’ is a myth and far from reality. On the contrary, many genuine job cards have been deleted due to hierarchical pressure in implementation of DBT. An application under the Right to Information in 2016-17 revealed so called “ghost beneficiaries” only constituted 1.4 per cent of total JC holding households. MGNREGA payments worth more than Rs 1,000 crore have been rejected citing “inactive Adhaar” from 2015-16 to 2018-19. How can an Aadhaar be inactive is a mystery. The survey also claimed a reduction in delays in wage payments post-ALP. The use of Aadhaar in payments arise once pay orders are sent to the Centre and wages are released centrally through the electronic payment system via Aadhaar-based DBT. Prior to the signing of the pay order, there are multiple reasons for payments being delayed due to local administrative lapses. Aadhaar has no solution for these implementing and delivery flaws. The survey report seemed to have completely ignored the current state of governance and the incompetence of the administration in ensuring proper supply. Delay in NREGA payments It is now well known that the Centre has defined MGNREGA payments complexly. They have divided the process into two stages; Stage I is considered to be the set of processes until local authorised functionaries sign electronically generated pay orders; In Stage II, the Centre credits wages to accounts. The faulty MIS in NREGA does not account for the Stage II delays and shows a misleading figure of on-time payments. So, while ideally a delay should be calculated if wages are not credited to worker’s accounts in 15 days, the delay on the part of the Centre is not really accounted. The Union government was directed by the Supreme Court (May 18, 2018 verdict) to show delays in both stages in the official website. The Centre, however, recently included a report Stage II tracking on the website, which does not show the delay but only gives out the volume of transactions currently pending. This anyway was shown in other reports earlier. The government should come up with only one delay-payment report, accounting for the entire time taken and delays during the closure of the muster roll and wages getting credited to worker’s accounts. The current two-stage conundrum is a trick tactfully engineered to create a false impression. The MGNREGA Sangharsh Morcha and People’s Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG)—organisations and individuals working on MGNREGA—recently said underfunding and inappropriate use of technology continue to violate worker’s entitlements and demanded adequate allocation. Is the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government interested in grassroot realities after securing a powerful mandate despite ignoring real, ground issues? (Debmalya Nandy is currently working on MNREGA in Jharkhand. He has worked with tribal populations in various parts of Jharkhand and Odisha in the past nine years. Views expressed are strictly personal)
Sonebhadra: Revival of Maoist activities in Uttar Pradesh’s Sonebhadra district has put intelligence agencies on alert. According to highly placed sources, there have been reports of Maoist supporters holding meetings in the region that was once the centre of Maoist activities. This could indicate a possibility of resurgence of Maoist activities in the region after the massacre of 10 people belonging to the Gond tribal community. A senior official of state intelligence agency said: “We are aware of the possible repercussion and have activated our sources. We are keeping a close vigil on Naxal (Maoist) supporters and are monitoring their movements.” Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’ A number of telephones in the region have been put under surveillance, sources said. Central intelligence agencies are also keeping an eye on the situation. According to sources, about two dozen youths of Murtiya and Umbha Villages where the massacre took place have gone underground and their families are not disclosing any information about their whereabouts. Reports claim some Maoist leaders from Dantewada and Bastar in Chhattisgarh have also been seen in the neighbouring Mirzapur area. Sonebhadra, Mirzapur and Chandauli have been Maoist-prone areas in Uttar Pradesh though Maoist activities have not been pronounced in the past one and a half decade. The last major Maoist attack in the state had taken place in November 2004 when 17 Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) jawans were killed in an ambush near the ‘Narkati’ culvert in the Chandauli district.
New Delhi: Reversing their five-month buying trend, overseas investors have pressed the exit button in July and pulled out a net Rs 3,758 crore from the Indian capital markets on account of multiple headwinds, including the super-rich tax announced in Budget 2019-20.As per the latest depositories data, foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) pulled out a net sum of Rs 14,382.59 from equities during July 1-26, but invested Rs 10,624.15 crore in the debt segment, taking the total net outflow to Rs 3,758.44 crore. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscalPrior to this, FPIs infused a net Rs 10,384.54 crore in June, Rs 9,031.15 crore in May, Rs 16,093 crore in April, Rs 45,981 crore in March and Rs 11,182 crore in February into the Indian capital markets (both equity and debt).In the equity segment, “FPIs have been on a selling spree since the announcement of super-rich tax … in the Union Budget for 2019-20,” said Himanshu Srivastava, senior analyst manager research at Morningstar.Expressing similar views, V K Vijayakumar, chief investment strategist at Geojit Financial Services, said “The sentiments have been impacted by the higher tax on FPIs registered as trusts and association of persons. However, the main reason for the selling is the sharp slowdown in the economy particularly in segments like autos. Besides, the second quarter results from corporates have not been reassuring.” Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boostIn addition, sub-par monsoon in key areas, lacklustre earnings season, slowing domestic growth and weak rupee added to the concerns of FPIs, he added.On the other hand, inflow in debt markets was witnessed amidst re-emergence of growth concerns globally, due to which central banks around the world softened their monetary policy stance.”Hence, the yields in some countries are ultra-low or even negative while India, with relatively higher yield, is one of the best options available to FPIs for fixed income investments,” Srivastava noted.Going ahead, the flows into Indian equities would be largely driven by the growth trajectory of the Indian economy along with policies and reform measures undertaken by the government, Srivastava said.
Kabul: Deadly violence marred the start of Afghanistan’s election season on the weekend, after President Ashraf Ghani insisted “peace is coming” to the war-torn nation. At least 20 people were killed and 50 others wounded on Sunday in an attack targeting the Kabul office of Ghani’s running mate, Amrullah Saleh. The violence came on the first day of campaigning for the upcoming presidential elections, serving as a grim reminder of Afghanistan’s woeful security situation and the sort of mayhem and murder that have beset previous polls. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USThe attack began around 4:40 pm (1210 GMT), when a huge blast struck near the office of Green Trend, a youth and reform-focused civil society organisation Saleh heads. He escaped without serious injury, his office said. The interior ministry said the assault began when a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-packed car at the entrance to the building, then three attackers ran inside. After about six hours the siege ended with all attackers killed and the rescue of about 150 people who had been trapped in the building, according to the interior ministry, which also provided the toll of 20 dead and 50 wounded. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential pollsNo group immediately claimed responsibility. Earlier on Sunday, a buoyant Ghani kicked off his campaign by insisting “peace is coming,” after nearly 18 years of conflict, and that pivotal talks with the Islamist extremist Taliban would take place. He is hoping to fend off challenges from 17 other candidates to score a second term at twice-postponed presidential elections now slated for September 28. On Saturday Ghani’s peace minister, Abdul Salam Rahimi, said direct talks would take place with the Taliban within two weeks as part of a larger, US-led push for peace. Such a development could be crucial, as the Taliban — who now control or influence about half of Afghanistan — have so far refused to speak to Ghani’s government. They consider the Kabul administration illegitimate. War aside, the country faces a host of major issues ahead of the election, including rocketing crime, a lacklustre economy, soaring unemployment, and crumbling infrastructure. Voters are despondent about the prospects of a fair election. Many worry about a repeat of violent attacks on previous polling stations by the Taliban and other insurgent groups trying to undermine Afghanistan’s fragile democracy. Ghani insisted this year’s vote would be “clean”, but distrust is rife. Sayed Jan, a 27-year-old student, said he won’t be voting as he has lost faith since the 2014 election that was mired in allegations of fraud and ballot stuffing. “We have been betrayed by the candidates in the past. We cannot trust them this time,” he told AFP. “We need peace in Afghanistan instead of elections. Even if I vote, the election will be fraudulent.” In Kabul, security forces fanned out across the city as leading candidates held rallies.
New Delhi: The CBI on Sunday raided Unnao rape accused MLA, Kuldeep Singh Sengar’s premises in Uttar Pradesh in addition to conducting searches at premises related to the other accused in the rape victim’s accident investigation.Officials from the special CBI team formed to probe the case, conducted searches at four districts in the state, including Unnao, Lucknow, Banda, and Fatehpur, according to sources in the know. Further, CBI officials also visited the Sitapur jail, where the expelled BJP MLA is currently lodged, to question him in connection with the case. Investigators also questioned the driver and cleaner of the truck that hit the teenager’s car. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’The 19-year-old rape survivor was travelling in a car with her lawyer and family, when a truck hit them in a head-on collision, killing her two aunts and leaving her and her lawyer in critical condition. The truck’s number plates were blackened. Sources here added that people who visited Sengar in jail in the days before the accident are also being examined. Central Bureau of Investigation officials had on Saturday also visited Sitapur jail to speak to officials there and examine visitor logs. In the meantime, the Unnao cases are set to begin trial on Monday in the court of Judge Dharmesh Sharma at Tis Hazari here. The court has issued a production warrant for Sengar and his associate Shashi Singh to be produced before it. Other accused in the case are to be produced on Tuesday. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KThe central probe agency had filed a chargesheet last July against Sengar and Singh for raping the teenager and another one against the MLA’s brother, Atul Sengar for the murder of the rape victim’s father, who was killed in custody of UP Police. The Supreme Court had last week taken suo moto cognizance of the Unnao rape victim’s accident and ordered that the trial be moved to a Delhi court, which is to finish hearing the trial on a day-to-day basis within 45 days. In the same order, the Apex court had asked the CBI to complete the probe in the rape victim’s accident and file a chargesheet by Aug 14. The accident case will remain with a Lucknow court, till the central agency completes its probe. Following this, the CBI has made extensive efforts to finish the investigation in the prescribed time. The agency constituted an additional special team of around 20, comprising of officers from the sub-inspector level to the Superintendent of Police level. According to officials, this team is assisting the five-member team from Lucknow that was already probing the case. In addition to this, a six-member team of “top experts” of different fields from the CBI’s Central Forensic Science Laboratories are also in UP helping with the investigation. While the rape victim herself remains in critical, having recently developed pneumonia her lawyer is now able to breathe without a ventilator. Both are being treated at the KGMU Hospital in Lucknow. The Apex court had suggested that both the rape victim and her lawyer could be airlifted to AIIMS here if their families wanted, provided their medical condition allowed.
New Delhi: Supporters and admirers from all over the country on Sunday braced the sun and rain to bid their last goodbyes to former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who passed away at AIIMS here on Saturday at 12:07 pm.Not just people who have been with the party for decades, but freshly minted saffron soldiers and people who had no association with Jaitley’s ruling BJP or politics also waited in lines at the party headquarters to catch a glimpse of the 66-year old BJP troubleshooter and Minister-extraordinaire. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murderThe BJP’s go-to man for solutions – Jaitley’s mortal remains were on Sunday afternoon placed at the party’s national headquarters, located on Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg here, where thousands of party workers waited in line to pay their last respects – some with garlands in their hands; some with tears in their eyes. “There is no one like him in Indian politics anymore. He stood out among all the others who rely on playing the blame-game,” MK Mishra, a Delhiite outside the party headquarters said, adding that he was there just as a citizen and not associated with the party or with politics. Sanjeev Gupta (40), a Delhi party worker also echoed that “there was no one like him in politics.” Also Read – Two brothers held for snatchingsSenior party workers from Chennai (Tamil Nadu), ML Raja and BT Arasukumar were also waiting in line to pay their last respects to Jaitley and said, “He was a great economist, wonderful legal man, and a great human being. This is a great loss for everyone.” Another party worker from Bijnor, UP, said, “I have always wanted to meet him, and now I will get to see him, but on such a tragic day.” 26-year-old Vineet Behal from Ludhiana said that Jaitley was his inspiration to finally join the party. He said, “He (Jaitley) was always grounded and truly a very tall leader.” In fact, Bharat Dave (54), a senior manager at the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), who had travelled to the Capital from Bombay was also waiting in line and said that Jaitley beautifully understood both finance and law. “He has always tried to find ways to fix things – maybe not all people like it – but it will yield long-term fruits,” Dave said. Remembering the time when he met Jaitley at the BSE stamp launch, Dave said, “He was always positive with the facts. He wouldn’t falsely paint a rosy picture. He would explain that he does not have a magic wand and policies need time to bear fruits.”