p2003

A parliamentary panel has recommended regulating the registration or suspension of political parties through a law of Parliament to prevent “non-serious” players from misusing the benefits extended to registered political outfits. Close on the heels of the Election Commission (EC) flagging the misuse of political parties as conduits for the flow of illegal money, the parliamentary committee on personnel, public grievances law and justice has said in its latest report that the provisions relating to the registration of political parties needs to be made more stringent so that non-serious political parties are not able to register in the first place. The panel wants the registration of all such parties that do not contest elections and exist only on paper to be cancelled.

“The possibility of regulating the registration of political parties and suspension/cancellation of their registration through a law of Parliament may also be explored to prevent misuse of facilities/benefits available to registered political parties by unscrupulous elements,” report submitted to Parliament this past week says. In 2016, the EC initiated action against 225 parties out of the 1,864 registered (but non-recognised) ones for existing only on papers and had for never having contested any election since their formation.

The move is part of the poll panel’s drive to usher in electoral reforms, which also includes suggesting the lowering of cash donations to political parties from Rs 20,000 to Rs 2,000. There are seven national parties, 48 state parties and 1,864 registered parties that are not recognised as on February 2017. National parties have an allotted election symbol, which its candidates can use during polls across the country. Similarly, state parties too have symbols allotted to them, which cannot be used by any other party or candidate in the state where it is recognised.

Earlier, political parties had turned down the poll panel’s suggestion of increasing the security deposit during elections to weed out frivolous candidates. Participation of political parties in general elections has increased many-fold over the years. In the last general election to Lok Sabha in 2014, 465 parties contested elections, up from 53 during the first general election in 1952. The panel, headed by Congress MP Anand Sharma, has also suggested linking electoral rolls with the Aadhaar card number to prevent bogus voters being added to lists. The poll panel had to suspend the process of linking electoral rolls and authenticating voter details with Aadhaar data after the Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that the unique identification number could be used only for PDS and LPG distribution schemes. However, the parliamentary panel wants the commission to revisit the issue. “The committee though is aware that Election Commission of India and the State Election Commissions are independent bodies, yet an initiative should be taken to prepare common digital electoral roll,” it said.

News source: Hindustan Times

Published in Politics

p2002

AICC General Secretary Kamal Nath has said Congress must adopt and adapt to the changed grammar of electoral battles in India. He tells CL Manoj that Rahul Gandhi must undertake organisational restructuring and the leadership must evolve a creative agenda and imaginative political plots to appeal to the new India. Excerpts

Don’t you think the outcome of the assembly polls in five states has strengthened your rivals’ claim that Congress is sinking?
Let us talk hard facts and figures that expose the BJP hype. Congress has never been a player in the UP polls. From being the party with about 25 seats, we have come down to seven. UP poll was about BJP vs SP vs BSP. Yes, BJP scored an impressive victory. Congress has also lost in Uttarakhand because our party had a major split before elections. In Goa, where BJP was in government, Congress won 17 seats, which is 43 per cent of the assembly's strength and BJP won 13 seats, just 32 per cent.

Who did badly? In Manipur, despite a Congress government for 15 long years, we won 28 seats, which is 47 per cent of the assembly strength, whereas BJP won just 21 seats, a mere 35 per cent. So, who did badly?

Yet, BJP formed governments in Goa and Manipur by offering allurements, a fact evident in ministers from non-BJP parties and defectors dominating BJP governments. 

In Punjab, where Akali Dal and BJP were in government, Congress won 77 seats, which is 66 per cent of the assembly against BJP’s three seats, which is 2.1 per cent of total seats. So, who did badly? So, what is BJP trumpeting about? Yet, the serial defeats raise a question mark over the party’s once envied political prowess? 

I think the nature of politics in India, especially electoral battles, has changed. The Congress must adopt and adapt to the new grammar of electoral politics. Elections are now won by political management at booth and village levels.  Congress, therefore, must focus on creating a much stronger organisational base at the booth and panchayat levels for political organisational mobilisation and for effective social engineering.

Why is Congress lagging behind BJP in mastering the changing politics?
Frankly, a lot of organisational weaknesses crept in when Congress was in power for 10 years till 2014 because we all had got bogged down by the nitty gritty of administrative and coalition issues, resulting in weakening the grassroots-level organisation. And BJP, having been out of power at Centre for long, had a lot of time at its disposal to strengthen its organisation.

But hasn’t Rahul Gandhi been engaged in organisational revival for too many years now?
He has been working hard. It is unfair to expect Rahul Gandhi to personally go to each block and village to rebuild the party organisation. Now Rahul Gandhi should carry out major organisational restructuring.
The task is for the collective leadership to show deeper commitment in reigniting our organisational energy. Congress must evolve a new creative social agenda and imaginative political plots that will appeal to the new India, the young India, and must dictate national political agenda and discourse.

News source: Economics Times 

Published in Politics

p2001

The elevation of Yogi Adityanath as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh is an odious and ominous development. It is an odious choice because the BJP has picked someone who is widely regarded as the single most divisive, abusive, polarising figure in UP politics. He is a politician who has, for most of his political career, been the mascot of militant Hindu sectarianism, reactionary ideas, routinised conflict and thuggery in political discourse, and an eco-system where the vilest legitimations of violence are not far away. It is an ominous development because it sends as clear a signal as it is possible to send at this time; the already accomplished political fact of the marginalisation of minorities in UP and elsewhere will now be translated into a programme of their cultural, social and symbolic subordination. It signals that the BJP will now be dominated by extremes, its politics shaped largely by resentment rather than hope, collective narcissism rather than an acknowledgement of plurality, hate rather than reconciliation, and violence rather than decency. Hubris has set in. The party believes it can get away with anything. It now intends to. The election results gave Prime Minister Narendra Modi an unprecedented mandate. It is true that most of us who did not expect the mandate are hardly in a position to explain what the results represented. All we know is that for a variety of reasons, people reposed trust in Modi overwhelmingly over his rivals. He got credit for leading from the front. He has chosen to interpret his mandate in a way that licenses and empowers the worst tendencies of his party. This is now not a statement just about UP: It is a statement about the prime minister’s inclinations and judgement. In the moment of his political triumph, he has chosen to defeat India.

BJP supporters are hiding behind the façade of party democracy to legitimise this choice. Yes, the formal imprimatur of the legislative party is behind him. But given Modi’s power, this explanation is hard to digest. If Adityanath was so clearly a popular choice, what was the hesitation in declaring him the chief ministerial candidate before the elections? If it was uncertainty about his ability to win across the state, then the result does not alleviate it. So, the only conclusion is that it was a duplicity of sorts —”of sorts” because the ideological currents were apparent in the prime minister’s speeches and the BJP manifesto. BJP Will Work For All Sections Of Society Without Any Partiality, Says Yogi Adityanath. But every argument that leads to legitimising this choice bodes ill for the country. If the legislature electing Adityanath is indeed the best interpretation of the mandate, then Indian democracy is corroded to the core: For it is effectively saying that India is now communalised to the point where a figure like Adityanath is the popular choice. We have to then give up the last vestiges of democratic hope in the idea that while the people may misjudge or commit mistakes, while they may occasionally excuse a crime, they will not vote for the wholescale destruction of basic values. It has been hard to resist misanthropy towards the role of citizens in Indian democracy. Many elites have succumbed to it in a self-defeating way. But it is that democratic respect that has perhaps made us underestimate our capacity to legitimise political evil.

News source: Indian Express

Published in Politics

e1705

India's largest biometric-based identification system Aadhaar on Thursday got a thumbs up from World Bank chief economist Paul Romer. The chief economist described it 'the most sophisticated ID programme in the world. "The system in India is the most sophisticated that I've seen. It's the basis for all kinds of connections that involve things like financial transactions," Bloomberg quoted Paul Romer as saying. He went on to say that it would be better if world follows the same system. "It could be good for the world if this became widely adopted," Romer said. Romer is of the view that world needs to have one standardized system for people's ID.

"Other countries are also looking at similar programs, but research shows it's best to develop one standardized system so people can carry their IDs wherever they go in the world," Paul Romer added. Aadhaar is a 12 digit unique-identity number issued to all Indian residents based on their biometric and demographic data. It was initially a document for identification purpose, however, it has now been made mandatory for some of the government-run programmes. Earlier in January, the Ministry of Rural Development and the Ministry of Labour made Aadhaar number mandatory for members and pensioners of the Employees' Pension Scheme and for those registered under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee (MGNREGA) Scheme. It has also been mandatory for the registration of the vehicles in Tamil Nadu.

Aadhaar is the world's largest biometric ID system, with over 1.123 billion enrolled members as of 28 February 2017.

News source: Business Today

Published in Economics

e1704

NEW DELHI: India has expressed strong opposition to the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, which is the key to Beijing's ambitious 'One-Belt, One-Road' initiative, even as it slammed Islamabad for not taking concrete steps to stop crossborder terrorism. "The CPEC passing through Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir challenges Indian sovereignty," said the Union defence ministry in its annual report submitted to Parliament on Wednesday. In the past too, India has criticised the Chinese-funded CPEC, which links China's Muslim dominated Xinjiang province to the Gwadar deep-sea port in Pakistan, because it passes through Gilgit-Baltistan in PoK, which New Delhi considers its own territory.

During the G-20 summit at Hangzhou in September last year, PM Narendra Modi had expressed India's concerns over the CPEC in his bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, holding that the two countries needed to be "sensitive" to each other's strategic interests. Taking note of China's significant restructuring of its People's Liberation Army to boost its offensive military capabilities, the defence ministry also reiterated India's support for freedom of navigation and overflight, and unimpeached commerce, based on international laws in the contentious South China Sea. New Delhi has taken to criticising Beijing's strongarm tactics in the South China Sea , even as it slowly but steadily builds military ties with countries like Vietnam, Malaysia and others locked in territorial disputes with China in the region. "India undertakes various activities, including cooperation in the oil and gas sector, with littoral states of South China Sea (Vietnam, for instance)...India believes that states should resolve disputes through peaceful means....," said the MoD. Turning to Pakistan, the MoD said: "Although the (Pakistani) military has made efforts to improve the security situation in the country, it has avoided taking action against jihadi and terror outfits that target Pakistan's neighbours."

News source: Economics Times

 

Published in Economics

e1703

NEW DELHI: India on Thursday slammed Pakistan for its unilateral action to make Gilgit-Baltistan the fifth province of the neighbouring country and asserted that such actions have no legal validity. “The position of the government on Jammu & Kashmir is consistent and well known. The entire state of J&K was acceded to India in 1947. It has been, is and will always be, an integral part of India. A part of Jammu & Kashmir has been under illegal occupation of Pakistan.  Any unilateral step by Pakistan to alter the status of that part will have no basis in law and will be completely unacceptable,” MEA spokesperson Gopal Baglay said when asked to comment on Islamabad’s action at a media briefing here.  It will also be a violation of the agreement between the two countries to address all issues bilaterally through peaceful means, which was enshrined in the Shimla Agreement of 1972 and reiterated through the Lahore Declaration in 1999, Baglay said.

“I must also say that such a step will not camouflage the illegality of Pakistan’s occupation of parts of Jammu & Kashmir and the gravely concerning and serious human rights violations there, as well as denial of democracy to the people there,” he said.  The MEA spokesperson also rejected Pakistan’s effort and intention to meddle in India’s internal affairs, including in judicial process. “We also totally reject the completely untenable link sought to be established by Pakistan with any other matter currently under purview of the Indian courts. A strong Indian democracy and justice system need no self-serving sermons, that too from a country like Pakistan.”  “Pakistan is well advised to refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of India in any form; not to resort to denial from the reality of terrorism emanating from its soil; and take action to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism in the territory under its control.”

News source: Economics Times

Published in Economics

e1702

A 10 March research paper prepared by the staff at the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)’s monetary policy department tells us that the 8 November demonetisation move by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not done any major damage to the economy so far. Instead, the note ban promises several positives to the economy in the medium to long term, the preliminary assessment says. The RBI distances itself from the observations saying these are not its official views, but entirely belongs to those of the contributing staff.

Reuters
The core theme of the paper is that “demonetisation has had some negative macroeconomic impact, which, however, has been transient as remonetisation has moved at an accelerated pace in last twelve weeks" — a view the RBI and government have maintained so far. More importantly, demonetisation is expected to have a positive impact over the medium to long term, the paper says. “In particular, there is expected to be greater formalisation of the economy with increased use of digital payments. The reduced use of cash will also lead to greater intermediation by the formal financial sector of the economy, which should, inter alia, help improve monetary transmission,” it says.

Here are some of the observations in the paper:

Economy: Demonetisation impacted various sectors of the economy; however, the adverse impact, in general, was short-lived as it was felt mainly in November and December 2016. The impact moderated significantly in January and dissipated by and large by mid-February 2017, reflecting an accelerated pace of remonetisation. The GVA growth in Q3 of 2016-17 was felt mostly in real estate and construction, but because of stronger growth in agriculture, manufacturing, electricity, and mining, the overall impact on GVA growth was modest. With remonetisation progressing at a fast pace, the adverse impact is expected to have reversed from the latter part of Q4 of 2016-17. GVA growth is estimated to recover significantly in 2017-18. But what about the protruding disconnect between GDP and other high frequency macro indicators? Read an earlier comment on this here.

Banks: With the return of SBNs (specified bank notes or invalidated old notes), currency in circulation declined and deposits with banks surged. The share of ‘investment in government securities’ on the asset side of banks’ balance sheet increased significantly. Large surplus liquidity led to a significant improvement in monetary policy transmission as reflected in a significant decline in deposit and lending interest rates. The sharp increase in low cost CASA (low cost) deposits by banks is expected to have increased banks’ net interest income.

News source: First Post

Published in Economics

e1701

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday said that all GST laws including the State GST and Union Territory GST have been approved by the GST Council.  The approval paves way for the tabling of GST Bill in the current session of the Parliament. The Council has already cleared Central GST (CGST) and integrated GST (IGST) Bills and the Compensation legislation.  Here are the highlights of what Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said at the press conference after GST Council meet:

  1. Cess on sin goods is 12 per cent, capped at 15 per cent.
    State GST and UT GST cleared by GST Council.
    Laws will be taken to cabinet and then to the parliament for approval
    Some marginal correction in remaining regulations will be required.
    Any supply made to SEZ will be zero rated.
    Commerce Ministry proposal on SEZ approved by GST Council
    Have kept a provision of ad valerom and specific duties for cigarette and tobacco
    Tobacco cess capped at 290 per cent ad valorem
    Cess capped at 15 percent for luxury cars and aerated drinks.
    Coal cess capped at Rs400/tonne
    Pan Masala cess capped at 135 per cent ad valorem
    Not decided to levy cess on bidis for now.
    July 1 is tentatively the roll out date for GST. Have sufficient buffer time till July 1
    Fitment of various commodities will be approved in the meeting of March 31
    Next meeting of Council to be held on March 31.

  2. Last year in August, the Rajya Sabha cleared a bill that amended the Constitution to enable India's biggest tax reform - GST. GST is a proposed system of indirect taxation merging most of the existing taxes into single system of taxation. It was introduced as The Constitution (One Hundred and First Amendment) Act 2016. GST would be a comprehensive indirect tax on manufacture, sale and consumption of goods and services throughout India, to replace taxes levied by the central and state governments. The GST is consumption based tax levied on the supply of Goods and Services which means it would be levied and collected at each stage of sale or purchase of goods or services based on the input tax credit method. Once it is in force, GST will replace at least 17 state and central taxes.

  3. News source: Business Today

Published in Economics

p1706

The big bang of Punjab Assembly election has ended in a whimper for cricketer-turned-TV 'laugha-ter' Navjot Singh Sidhu. After being tipped as the next deputy chief minister of Punjab, motormouth Sidhu, who is now better known for his laughathons on Kapil Sharma's comedy show, has finished off as the minister of local government, tourism & cultural affairs, and archives and museums. We are sure he has accepted his political task for the next five years with the humility and grace it deserves but that's quite a fall from the pre-poll fantasies that surrounded his glamorous persona. After all, he was the second most popular figure in the run-up to the Punjab Assembly election, after Captain Amarinder Singh.The former ace India batsman's tryst with politics has been rather colourful. For most of his tenure as BJP MP from Amritsar (2004-2014), he was more known for his presence on the popular comedy show hosted by Kapil Sharma, rather than any substantial groundwork in his Lok Sabha constituency.

Insiders believed it to be one of the major reasons for the party replacing him with Arun Jaitley as its Amritsar candidate in the 2014 general elections. After a short stint in the Rajya Sabha last year, he came into talks with rival parties Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), obviously for a bigger political share in the run-up to the Punjab Assembly elections held last month. He even launched his own outfit, ‘Awaaz-e-Punjab’ before the crucial elections. It's interesting that Sidhu carried out negotiations with both the Congress and AAP simultaneously, where he is known to have bargained hard. At one point in time, he was known to have demanded a share of about 7-8 seats from AAP, that would have included seats for hockey Olympian Pargat Singh and two Independent legislators, Balwinder Singh Bains and Simarjit Singh Bains.

There had been a lot of flip flop at Sidhu’s end, who kept people of Punjab guessing about his joining a new party. Lots of negotiation took place between Sidhu on one hand and, Congress and AAP on the other. Eventually, ace cricketer — who successfully gave himself a second career with his gift of gab, long after his peers made peace with retirement — joined the Congress. In face of the Congress victory, rumours started doing the rounds that Sidhu would be elevated to the position of deputy chief minister, to which the Congress rank and file is even known to have protested. But with the ship being led by none than Captain— a seasoned politician, who knows the ropes of his job better than any other in the state — rumour mongers should have known that the talk of deputy chief ministership for Sidhu, would eventually, end the way rumours end. In a whimper. Old timers would recall a similar case of Shatrughan Sinha, a stalwart actor-turned-politician, who was awarded the important portfolio of Health Ministry in the Atal Behari Vajpayee government in the centre in 2003-2004, only to be shunted to Shipping, that for just a month in August 2003, before being divested of all ministerial responsibilities. Achievers in fields other than politics should know that acting in front of camera, or wielding the willow is one matter, while running the government is another.

While, Sidhu’s supporters were confident about the leader taking over the post of the deputy CM till last evening, many senior Congress leaders within Punjab Congress were found to be in a protest mood. No one within the state Congress wanted that a late entrant (Sidhu joined Congress in mid-January) should be elevated to the position of a deputy CM due to his star status. Ahead of elections, Sidhu had campaigned for the party only for a fortnight. “Navjot Singh Sidhu has not been given the post of deputy CM as rumours were abuzz on this issue. Captain is a wise and seasoned politician, who knows what portfolio should be allotted to whom. Since he has the mandate, he won’t take portfolio distribution lightly. Sidhu anyway doesn’t have any previous experience as a minister. It’ll be a good opportunity for him to know how the government functions and also to perform,” a senior leader from Punjab Congress told Firstpost.

News source: First Post

Published in Politics

p1705

New Delhi: Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Keshav Prasad Maurya was today admitted to the intensive care unit at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital here after he complained of uneasiness. According to a senior doctor of the hospital, the 48-year-old leader was admitted at 3.38 PM. "He was suffering from cough and cold and mild fever for last seven days and overwork due to his political commitments. "On admission his blood pressure was slightly higher. At present he is fully conscious and better. He is kept under observation for further evaluation," medical superintendent Dr A K Gadpayle said. Maurya is being seen as one of the strong contenders for the chief minister's post in Uttar Pradesh after the BJP posted a landslide win in the assembly polls.

News source: First Post

Published in Politics
Page 5 of 33

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