Tags Posts tagged with "india"

india

    27
    Hindus call the river Ganga Mata, or mother Ganga, and they believe that a dip in the holy river absolves sins of a whole lifetime.

    Indian government has spent less than a 25% of the funds available for a mission to clean up the river Ganga over the past two years. This information has come to light after a federal audit, which has cited various lapses in the core planning and overall financial management of this flagship scheme.

    The Modi government had only used approximately USD 260 million of the USD 1.05 billion that was allocated for the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) program for the period April 2015 to March 2017, this is according to a CAG report. The report also says that it is found in a survey that the water quality in eight of 10 towns along the Ganga did not meet the outdoor bathing standards. The160-page report was presented to parliament last week. Since then the water resources ministry, which is in charge of the NMCG, had been unable to respond to a request for comment.

    PM Narendra Modi’s administration had committed USD 3 billion in the year 2015 for a five-year project to clean the 2,525-km long stretch of river that is heavily polluted despite it being a water source for more than 400 million people.

    PM Narendra Modi, who himself represents the holy city of Varanasi, had made the clean-up of the river one of his key campaign promises in the 2014 general election, which he won with a heavy margin.

    The Ganga river is one of the most revered rivers in the world but sadly also one of the most polluted. It is worshipped primarily by Hindus, who make up for about 80 % of India’s 1.3 billion population. Hindus call the river Ganga Mata, or mother Ganga, and they believe that a dip in the holy river absolves sins of a whole lifetime.

    This river, stretching from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal, is also used as dump for waste products, produced by hundreds of factories which flow untreated into the Ganges. It is time that the government reconsiders its position and takes strict measures to purify the most revered river in India.

     

    -Archit

     

     

    264
    Sources familiar with the raids and ongoing investigations by SEBI said that it had also asked and investigated about the trading data.

    Scores of Indian securities officials raided on the homes of brokers and related businessmen on Friday, 22nd Dec. in a wide reaching early morning raid in Mumbai, and some other cities.

    Raids by The Securities and Exchange Board of India, can be taken as a signal that the probe is gathering high pitch on a national scale. The investigation is being carried out to try to find out who exactly was responsible for circulating those messages about a few major Indian companies’ classified corporate announcements in social media chats.

    On Friday, 22nd Dec more than 70 officials of SEBI searched the homes of various traders and brokers and seized their property, including their mobile phones and laptops.

    The investigation was kick started in the previous month when 12 different messages about predicted results and other classified financial information about the companies came into circulation in a few private WhatsApp groups. These social media groups consisted mainly of businessmen like, traders and brokers.

    The teams reviewed transcripts from some WhatsApp groups and documented at least the chats where the previously mentioned messages about prominent companies’ classified financial information. According to a report, more than thirty premises of various brokers and dealers were searched.

    Vikram Limaye, who is the current chief executive of the National Stock Exchange, has said in an interview last week that, Stock exchanges are cooperating completely with SEBI and having a separate investigation about the matter.

    According to a report, last month, sources familiar with the raids and ongoing investigations by SEBI said that ithad also asked and investigated about the trading data on the previously mentioned companies.

    The Securities and Exchange Board of India has in recent years have widened the scope of the internal trading rules and expanded the perimeter on what information is considered to be an “unpublished price-sensitive information”.

     

    -Archit

    337
    S&P had last upgraded India’s sovereign rating from BB+ to BBB– in January 2007, i.e. 10 years ago.

    Standard and Poor’s (S&P) a popular credit rating agency on Friday 24 November, kept its rating of India unchanged, i.e. at the lowest investment grade of BBB–, at a stable outlook. The reasons cited for no change in improvement of Indian credit rating were, a heavy fiscal deficit, high government debt and particularly low per capita income.

    The rating agency has said that factors such as the imposition of goods and services tax (GST) and demonetisation have led to a little quarterly stalling in India’s high growth potential, the medium-term outlook for the growth of Indian Economy remains very favourable. This analysis was based on private consumption, a highly ambitious public infrastructure programme, and a bank restructuring plan that is supposed to help increase the investments.

    The Narendra Modi government has been expecting an upgrade in its rating following an increase by Moody’s Investors Service (a similar credit rating agency), last week. Moody’s has raised India’s sovereign credit rating from the lowest investment grade i.e. Baa3 to Baa2, and has also changed the outlook of economy from stable to positive. It is expected that if the government continues to focus on economic and institutional reforms, it will, over some time, enhance India’s growth potential that is particularly high.

    S&P though, in its statement, said that the stable rating outlook duly reflects its view that in the next two years, India’s economy will continue to grow strongly and it will maintain its external account position and the fiscal deficits will remain manageable. S&P had last upgraded India’s sovereign rating from BB+ to BBB– in January 2007, i.e. 10 years ago.

    Subhash Chandra Garg, who is the Economic affairs secretary, has said in a statement that S&P has exercised caution, though it also has hopeful views similar to Moody’s about the Indian economy.

    Ranen Banerjee, who is the partner at PwC India has said  in his statement that S&P’s review is very clearly a conservative call in which the agency prefers to see the results of government reforms that are initiated before a revision in rating while Moody’s on the other hand went through a rating revision based on the initiated reforms.

    S&P’s has clarified that ratings might improve if the government’s reforms improve the net general government fiscal deficit and also lead to a reduction in the total level of net general government debt. Similarly they might also improve if India’s external accounts strengthen by a significant amount.

    In a warning it said that the rating might fall if the GDP growth turns out to be a disappointment. It will also fall if the net general government deficit rises by a significant amount.

    S&P’s has projected India’s external debt to an average of 8.4% of current account receipts from 2017 to 2020, being underpinned by an improved current account deficit, which expectedly averages at 1.8% from 2017 to 2020.

    S&P’s has projected India’s GDP growth to an average of 7.6% from 2017 to 2020. It has also said that any ongoing expenditure pressure at either the central government or the state levels will slow the fiscal consolidation. However, India’s external position will strengthen because of the rupee’s liquidity in the international foreign exchange markets.

     

    -Archit

    205

    The election to the Press Club of India finally ended today with one thousand seven hundred journalists voting from 10 AM to 6 PM. As compared to the last year, this time 250 more members voted and it is being believed that this enhancement may be due to the enrollment of fresh members.

    However, both the camps i.e. the Lahiri and Sen panels are keeping their fingers crossed till the final results come out on Sunday, the 26th November evening but observers say that it was more or less a mix voting trend, totally unpredictable as the contest was neck to neck. Whatever may be the final outcome of this prestigious annual poll but one thing is for sure that the club did a massive business today with PCI members and their fellow beings thronging the club in large numbers, since afternoon.

    The liquor, tea, snacks and lunch were open for the whole day finally dinner in the evening obviously leading the club to make tremendous profits out of the record sale. The elections of press club of India is an annual feature which is an opportunity for journalistic fraternity to meet their old friends at least on this day for sure. Prominent among those who voted in this election were the editor in chief of India TV Rajat Sharma, Chief editor and anchor of India News Deepak Chaurasia, popular TV Anchor Ajit Anjum, former AAT Tak Anchor Deepak Sharma, veteran journalist and octogenarian Vishva Bandhu Gupta, former Railway minister and veteran journalist Ajay Singh, NDTV Anchor and popular journalist Ravish Kumar, former CBI spokesman and Press Secretary to former president Dr. Abdul Kalam Mr. Khan, Pankaj Vohra, Punya Prasoon Vajpayee of AAJ Tak and others.

    A large number of journalists of print and electronic media were seen campaigning and voting for their respective panels. The significance of the PCI election is that while during this period the membership of all the journalists enrolled to this body gets renewed i.e. the balance if any is cleared and the club do a hefty business as well through the sale of liquor and food stuff. The current panel of Lahiri, Bharti, Vinay n Mahua is on the saddle since 2010 and each time which ever panel had contested against them has lost.

    This would be their eighth victory in succession if they win though what happens on Sunday after the counting session in the evening, is anybody’s guess. However, the contest between both the panels have been very competetive and nothing outrightly can be predicted as to who’s going to win and who’s to lose.
    Sunil Negi, President, Uttarakhand Journalists Forum
    Member, Press Club of India

    665
    He asked, if raising questions on bullet trains makes one anti-development? Or does questioning the financial policies like GST and demonetisation makes one a tax evader?

    After one year of demonetisation, previous Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday, 07 November 2017 said that the Demonetisation and Goods and Services Tax (GST) were poorly designed and very hastily implemented over the country.

    The Congress had already announced that it would observe November 8, the day demonetisation, as ‘black day’.

    He said that during his tenure as PM of the country, his government had originally come up with GST, but Narendra Modi was at the head of the section blocking it and the present GST is a great leap away from their vision. He further said that GST has been converted into a complicated mess because of multiple slabs and additional cess which is a burden. He also accused the government of Gujarat of selling forest lands to industries rather than allowing tribals to farm on the land.

    Repeating his speech from Rajya Sabha, he compared demonetisation to legalised plunder. According to him, the day of demonetisation was a black day for Indian economy and democracy. He said that such a coercive step has not been taken in any economy across the world.

    He claimed that these economic reforms taken by the NDA government had only helped our rival, China, since exports have rapidly increased this year.

    Industries in Vapi, Surat, Morbi and other parts of Gujarat were damaged by demonetisation and GST implementation, he said, adding that these measures had decreased small businesses. He also said that, along with demonetisation, GST has founded a feeling of tax-terrorism in the country.

    He criticised the current Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi on his presonal project, the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train corridor. He said that the project is vane. But he defended himself by asking if raising questions on bullet trains makes one anti-development? Or does questioning the financial policies like GST and demonetisation makes one a tax evader?

     

    -Archit

     

    263
    He said that incidences of pelting of stones and protests in J&K and naxal activities in affected districts have reduced as an impact of demonetisation as these miscreants have run out of cash.

    Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Tuesday, 07 November 2017 that demonetisation is a turning point in the country’s economic history and has provided the next generation with a fair and honest system to live in.

    In a blog 1,843 words long, Arun Jaitley said that, November 8, 2016 signifies the resolve of the government of India to cure the country from the disease of black money. He said that the day would be remembered as a watershed moment in the books of history of Indian economy. Doing an overall analysis, he said, it would right to say that the country has moved on to a more cleaner, transparent and honest financial system.

    On the eve of the demonetisation, which invalidated 86 per cent of the currency in circulation, Mr. Jaitley said that it has met its objective of reducing cash in our economy, ending the anonymity of cash, brought more individuals inside the tax net and all the while dealt a blow to black money holders.

    He said that the benefits of the move may not yet be visible to some people but the next generation of India would view the decision with a great sense of pride.

    On November 8 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the demonetisation of Rs.1,000 and old Rs.500 notes for fighting corruption, removing black money, cutting terror funding and removing fake currency in one stroke. Total currency worth Rs.17 lakh crore approx. was in circulation in country on November 8 2016. Around Rs.15 lakh crore worth of currency was withdrawn and as on June 30, 2017, approx. Rs.15 lakh crore has been deposited back in banks.

    Mr. Jaitley said that post demonetisation, the currency in circulation is less by more than Rs.3 lakh crore. This meets with the objective of less cash economy in order to reduce the flow of black money in to the system.

    The removal of anonymity has led to 56 lakh new individual tax payers who are filing returns this year and self-assessment tax paid by non-corporates has increased by 34%. The leads gathered during demonetisation period have led to the identification of 2.9 lakh suspected shell companies and 2.24 lakh companies were de-registered as a result. Actions were taken to freeze their bank accounts. He said that more than 28,000 companies had deposited and approx. withdrawn Rs.10,000 crore from 50,000 bank accounts before they were struck off.

    The Income Tax Department took action against more than a thousand shell companies that were used by over 22,000 beneficiaries in laundering more than Rs.13,300 crore. To stop further money laundering, SEBI has introduced a Graded Surveillance Measure at stock exchanges.

    He said that incidences of pelting of stones and protests in J&K and naxal activities in affected districts have reduced as an impact of demonetisation as these miscreants have run out of cash.

    He also said that demonetisation led to a leap in digital payments. And more than 350 crore transactions, valued at around Rs.6.6 lakh crore were carried out through credit cards and debit cards. The value of transactions for debit and credit cards was Rs.4 lakh crore during 2015-16.

    Jaitley said that, with the return of cash in the banking system, now almost entire cash holding in the economy can be tracked. This inflow includes suspicious transactions ranging over Rs.1 lakh crore. The tax administration is now using data analytics to find and crack suspicious transactions.

     

    102

    China is again in the anti India news with papers furnishing front page stories on its one by one anti India actions to keep Indian political leadership in the state of quandary. While the Indian side is still encouraging massive sale of Chinese products in India and boosting economies of both the countries by way of strengthening n boosting Indo China trade relations, expansionist Dragon is busy in creating problems after problems for India.

    After Doklam stand off that got settled after more than one and a half month’s hectic parleys at diplomatic level and visit to China on the sidelines of the BRICS summit by the Indian prime minister and the National Security Advisor, China has on the One Belt One Road issue also pressurised India to relent but ultimately failed to make India accept its OBOR expansionist proposal and has now come up with a more disturbing idea of diverting the water of BRAHMAPUTRA through a would be 1000 kilometre tunnel to its countryside and construction of 32 massive dams on its waters.

    Though the Brahmaputra river originates from China and Assam and entire North East being on the downstream side would be badly affected if the diversion of water from Brahmaputra to the Chinese side, as being planned by it takes place in the near future. According to reports pouring in the Chinese government has already constituted a team of about 100 scientists and tunnel experts to execute this over ambitious project of diverting the massive flow of Brahmaputra towards its territory in the Tibet side of Indo China border thus badly affecting the huge population of the entire northeastern region and Bangladesh.

    China seems to be least concerned about the annoyance and protest of India and Bangladesh including the environmental hazards involved in this highly expensive 1000 kilometre tunnel project. China has already invested about 40 billion US dollar in its CPEC PROJECT in PAKISTAN OCCUPIED Kashmir and build a highway from China to Gwadar in the India region occupied illegally by Pakistan. China is rapidly preparing its military base in POK to pose a direct challenge to India in the eventuality of war with Pakistan. China through its various nature of border disputes with India and anti India stance as above, always tries to keep the former on tenter hooks and insecure position. Whether it’s the issue of membership of UN Security Council or NSG or granting of Pak terrorists Mohd Azhar or Hafeez Sayeed the tag of dreaded International terrorists by UN, China has always opposed India’s stand tooth and nail.

    SUNIL NEGI

    383
    WhatsApp has hit strides in India, becoming the most popular messaging app, partially due to its simple user interface and its end to end secure encryption.

    European Union has come down harshly over privacy concerns for users of popular social media platform WhatsApp. This came in wake of WhatsApp not resolving the concerned authorities’ concerns over the popular apps’ sharing of user data with its parent company Facebook, even a year after it was first issued a warning.

    WhatsApp has hit strides in India, becoming the most popular messaging app, partially due to its simple user interface and its end to end secure encryption. WhatsApp changed its privacy policy in mid last year and started sharing users’ phone numbers and their other information of personal nature with Facebook without a proper memo that informs the users of this face. This act drew widespread criticism and regulatory scrutiny across Europe and Asia, and WhatsApp for a time suspended the data sharing for EU users only. Asia still lags behind when dealing with issues concerning cyber security and privacy.

    EU data protection authorities, however, taking strict actions, said in a letter, sent to WhatsApp on Tuesday 24th Oct and published on Wednesday, that the company had still not resolved their concerns about sharing user data without their prior consent.

    The authorities have noted that the information given to users about the privacy policy update by WhatsApp was highly ambiguous and seriously deficient considering it was related to getting their consent.

    The Authorities noted that while there is a balance to be found and regualted between presenting the user with too much of the information and not enough information, the initial alert made no mention at all of the crucial information users needed. They were unable to make an informed choice, and simply clicked the agree button that resulted in their personal data being shared with the company of Whatsapp, i.e. Facebook and its family. This information can be now shared with other partner websites and can be used to present the users with targeted advertisements.

    The data protection authority of Ireland, which has final jurisdiction over Facebook in the European Union because the company has its European headquarters in Dublin, said that in April it had hoped to reach a deal over the issue of data sharing with WhatsApp and the partner websites. A WhatsApp spokesperson said that, they have engaged previously with other data protection authorities to explain how their terms and privacy policy update applies to those people who use WhatsApp in Europe. They also said that they remain committed to respecting the applicable law and will continue to work with concerned officials in Europe to address the questions over privacy.

    The data protection authorities also raised concern over the argument of users’ consent not being given as freely as WhatsApp claimed. WhatsApp had effectively adopted a ‘take it or leave it approach.’ This ends in users either giving their `consent’ to the sharing of their data or they are from then on unable to avail themselves of WhatsApp’s messaging services.

    A new European Union data protection law will come in force in May 2018, which will give regulators the power to fine companies up to 4% of their global turnover for violating the cyber privacy laws.

    What we need in India and other Asian countries is a similar outcry for cyber privacy and enactment of strict laws to protect the interests of users on a regular basis.

     

    -Archit Upadhyay

     

    1720
    Deepavali can be celebrated with equal fervour by various other means as well. Direct evidence is available of deterioration of air quality at alarming levels every year due to burning firecrackers during Deepavali.

    On Monday, Oct. 9, the Supreme Court suspended the sale of firecrackers in Delhi NCR region till November 1, 2017. This step was taken to test whether a Deepavali without firecrackers will have a “positive effect” on the health of citizens of this region and a steadily deteriorating air quality of Delhi NCR.

    Deepavali can be celebrated with equal fervour by various other means as well. Direct evidence is available of deterioration of air quality at alarming levels every year due to burning firecrackers during Deepavali. Particularly in 2016 pm [particulate matter] levels had shot up by three times, making Delhi the worst city in the world, as far as air pollution was concerned. Direct and immediate cause therefor was burning of crackers during Deepavali for this incident.

    The Bench of judges pointed to the various efforts made by the government, the media and civil society to create awareness of the harms of burning firecrackers, especially on the children. The adverse effects have been witnessed year after year. The air quality deteriorates abysmally and the city chokes on air. This leads to closing of the schools and the authorities are compelled to take various measures on emergency basis, when faced with a “health crisis”.

    Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has consistent stated for the past 20 years that sulphur in fireworks should be banned. It released in a statement, “Sulphur on combustion produces sulphur-dioxide and it is extremely harmful to health.” The CPCB has clearly said that between 9 p.m. to midnight on Deepavali, the levels of sulphur-dioxide content in the air rise dangerously.

    293
    The United Nations will not work effectively if it is used merely as forum for destructive propaganda.

    Tennyson in ‘Locksley Hall’ presented his vision of the world where “war-drum throbb’d no longer, and the battle flags were furled.” Mudaliar, the Dewan of Mysore speaking on behalf of undivided India had once said, the great reality, which all religions teach is the dignity of the common man.

    However, all those words rang hollow, when the Indian and Pakistani delegations faced each other in the U.N. Reality was rare, as even the photograph brandished by Pakistan’s Maleeha Lodhi as being from Jammu and Kashmir was actually from Gaza. In any case, the India-Pakistan war of words was outdone by the U.S. and North Korea.

    However UN’s 72nd General Assembly was made one of its most disappointing sessions because of its ineffectiveness on each of the issues pointed out by Secretary General António Guterres in his speech on September 19.

    According to him seven biggest threats that face the world today are:

    • Nuclear peril.
    • Terrorism.
    • Unresolved conflicts and violations of international humanitarian law.
    • Growing inequality.
    • Climate change.
    • Cyber warfare and misuse of artificial intelligence.
    • Refugees.

    UN’s actions in the case of North Korea just amounted to some more sanctions against it. The truth about sanctions is that they do not work on rogue states but they only isolate their populations from the world, which works in favour of regime’s stranglehold on its people.

    On the basis of satellite pictures and the accounts of eyewitnesses, the UN Human Rights chief called military action in post-democracy Myanmar,  a “textbook case of ethnic cleansing”, as close to half a million Rohingya fled from Rakhine villages that were then burnt down and landmines were laid along the border with Bangladesh to prevent their return.

    Given that Hafiz Saeed and his associates now plan to stand for public office in Pakistan and while Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi received bail despite financial sanctions, more action is expected from U.N.

    Mr. Guterres pointed out on the issue of inequalities that, “eight men represent as much of the world’s wealth as half of all humanity”

    UN’s first Secretary General, Trygve Lie, ran an equally divided forum and faced the same challenges before finally resigning from his post in 1952. His last words were, “The United Nations will not work effectively if it is used merely as forum for destructive propaganda. Neither will it work if it is used only as a convenience when national interests are directly involved, and regarded with indifference, or bypassed or opposed, when the general world interest is paramount.”