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Friday, October 26, 2018

CAGED PARROTS

By on Friday, October 26, 2018

                                                                                    BACKGROUND OF TWO IPS OFFICERS



Alok Verma joined the IPS in 1979 at age 22 and was allotted to the AGMUT (Arunachal, Goa, Mizoram, UTs) cadre. He was the youngest officer in his batch. Prior to assuming the office of CBI Director, Verma had been Commissioner of Police, Delhi; Director General of Prisons, Delhi; Director General of Police, Mizoram; DGP, Puducherry and IGP, Andaman & Nicobar Islands. He is the only CBI Director to hold the top post without any prior experience in the agency. Rakesh Asthana, a 1984 batch IPS officer of the Gujarat cadre, has investigated many important cases, including the fodder scam case (during an earlier stint in the CBI) and the 2002 Godhra train burning when he was Inspector General in charge of Vadodara Range. His investigation into the fodder scam is regarded as key to the case resulting in the conviction of RJD chief Lalu Prasad. He is widely seen as being close to the current ruling dispensation. Let us understand how a director in CBI is appointed and how the others are appointed.
 HOW ASTHANA WAS APPOINTED
The former CBI director Anil Sinha retired on December 3rd, 2016. His deputy Rupak Kumar Dutta was widely speculated to be the next CBI director. But, just a day ahead, he was surprisingly shifted out of the CBI and made special secretary in the Home Ministry. Dutta who served for nearly 14 years in CBI was Special Director since 2014.
RAKESH ASTHANA SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN IN CBI
Rakesh Asthana, a 1984-batch Gujarat cadre IPS officer, is not new to the controversy and the corruption. Rakesh Asthana supervised the probe into the 2002 burning of the ‘Sabarmati Express’ train at the Godhra railway station. He was handpicked by the government to be the interim director of the CBI. On August 30, 2017, the CBI had registered an FIR against three senior Income Tax officials for allegedly accepting bribes from Gujarat-based Sterling Biotech and Sandesara Group of Companies. A “Diary 2011” was found in the company premises, which detailed a monthly payout to the accused officials, including income tax officials, policemen and politicians in Gujarat. Rakesh Asthana’s name figures in the diary of Sterling Biotech — CBI itself has registered an FIR. It seems that the present government is “hell-bent” on destroying the independence and integrity of the CBI. Asthana’s appointment for special director on October 22, 2017 had happened in controversial circumstances. The selection committee comprising the central vigilance commissioner (CVC) K.V. Chowdary whose own role was under question cloud in the investigations related to Sahara-Birla diaries; and two vigilance commissioners and the secretaries to the home ministry and the department of personnel and training (DoPT) appointed him unanimously. However, it was then reported that Verma had queried to Asthana’s elevation in the organization.
 While the CBI director was not a member of the selection committee, the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, under which the CBI operates, says that the director has to be compulsorily consulted before being appointed any person higher the rank above superintendent of police. However, the Supreme Court had then thought that it should not interfere in the government functioning, giving Asthana the benefit of doubt.
HE WORKED AS INTERIM DIRECTOR CBI FOR A SHORTWHILE
Rakesh Asthana, working as an Additional Director of CBI in April 2016, was given charge of interim director to the CBI for a brief period between December 3, 2016 and January 18, 2017 after Anil Sinha demitted his officeHe noted that merely two days before of Sinha’s retirement, the second-in-command at the CBI,  R.K. Dutta, who should have taken over as the interim director was transferred to the ministry of home affairs as special secretary (internal security). The transfer of Dutta was extraordinary benevolence as the post he was given “was specially upgraded from the level of joint secretary to the special secretary”. Asthana has always landed plush positions because of his proximity with the top brass in the Modi government.
 Rakesh Asthana has been allegedly influencing a coal scam case at the CBI in which the name of Bhaskar Khulbe , a West Bengal cadre IAS officer, who is now one of the most trusted lieutenant of Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, in the PMO had come up. Asthana is said to have taken a stance that Khulbe should be made a witness rather than an accused in the case. As secretary in the PMO, he (Khulbe) is one of Narendra Modi’s most trusted aides. He handles all the transfers and the postings of officials in Central Government, working closely with P.K. Mishra, additional principal secretary to the prime minister.
Rakesh Asthana’s soft stance against Khulbe in the case was “hardly a surprise, given his proximity to (P.K) Mishra in the PMO”. The report adds that Mishra, also a Gujarat cadre officer, had backed Asthana’s appointment as the special director in the CBI and ensured to the selection committee, headed by the CVC, K.V Chowdary, to appoint him unanimously despite the CBI director’s objections.
HOW A CBI DIRECTOR IS APPOINTED:
 Before the Lokpal Act was legislated, the CBI director was appointed by the DSPE Act. Now, the Lokpal Act governs the appointment of the CBI director. The process to select the CBI director is begun in the Home Ministry which prepares a list of IPS officers who are eligible for the post on the basis of their seniority and their experience in the field of probe. The MHA list is sent to the Department of Personnel where is prepared a final list on the basis of "seniority, integrity and experience in the investigation of anti-corruption cases". The search committee examines the names and recommends to the government for the appointment of CBI director. The decision of the committee could be unanimous or divided with a member recording the note of dissent. Earlier, under the DSPE Act, the CBI director was appointed on the basis of recommendation by a panel comprising the Central Vigilance Commission as chairperson, other vigilance commissioners, Home Secretary and Secretary (Co-ordination and Public Grievances the Cabinet Secretariat).The CBI director is appointed by the Centre on recommendation of a search committee comprising of Prime Minister as the chairperson, the Chief Justice of India and the Leader of Opposition. The Chief Justice of India can nominate a Supreme Court judge if he does not attend to the search committee meeting. In the absence of a formal Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, the leader of the floor of the largest opposition party (in present case Congress) takes part in the search committee meetings.
WHAT IS THE CAUSE OF CURRENT PROBLEM
 It traces its origins to events of mid-2017, when the government refused to appoint certain IPS officers into the CBI despite recommendations from the CBI Director. In October 2017, the CBI Director handed over a confidential note to the CVC during a panel meeting over the promotion of Asthana to the post of Special Director. The note alleged corruption on Asthana’s part with regard to the Sterling Biotech case of August that year; It alleged that according to a diary found on the premises of the company, Asthana was paid Rs 3.88 crore by the company (which in October came under probe for loan defaults of over Rs 5,000 crore). Yet the CVC panel unanimously cleared Asthana’s promotion, taking no record of Verma’s submissions. It said the allegations were not verifiable. In June this year, the Director targeted Asthana again, now through a letter to the CVC that said that Asthana could not represent him in his absence in a CVC meeting over CBI appointments. The Director said Asthana was being probed for alleged corruption. Asthana hit back by writing to the Cabinet Secretary in the month of August this year that Verma was interfering in his probes and had tried to stall a raid on Lalu Prasad in the IRCTC case. He also alleged corruption on Verma’s part. Less than two months later, Verma got an FIR registered against Asthana as an accused in a case of corruption.
WHAT ARE THE CHARGES AGAINST ASTHANA
 Asthana is alleged to have demanded a bribe of Rs 5 crore from a Hyderabad-based businessman through two middlemen to help him get off the hook in the Moin Qureshi case. CBI has alleged that at least Rs 3 crore had already been paid to Asthana through the middlemen. The agency claims that it has evidence, through WhatsApp chats between the middlemen and the businessman, of bribes having been paid. But the businessman seems to have never met or spoken to Asthana.
According to the CBI FIR, when a middleman offered to arrange a meeting in Dubai, the businessman refused. CBI has argued that, since this was a case of bribery and not of abuse of official position in connection with a decision taken on policy or otherwise, this would not be under the purview of Section 17A of the recently amended Prevention of Corruption Act. Section 17A says, “No police officer shall conduct any enquiry or inquiry or investigation into any offence alleged to have been committed by a public servant…, where the alleged offence is relatable to… (the) discharge of his official functions or duties, without the previous approval… of the government. …No such approval shall be necessary for cases involving arrest… on the spot on the charge of accepting or attempting to accept any undue advantage…”
 RAKESH ASTHANA DAUGHTER’S MARRIAGE- NEIGHBOUR’S ENVY, OWNER’S PRIDE
 The marriage of his daughter was a treat to eye and he reportedly got venue, catering, rooms and cars for his daughter’s wedding all on “complimentary basis” allegedly from at least a dozen persons including some loan-defaulters and fugitives. A day after Gujarat cadre IPS officer and number 2 in the CBI Asthana was named in an FIR for allegedly accepting bribe, a CBI team landed in Vadodara on Sunday to get details of a lavish wedding ceremony of his daughter. CBI questioned about a dozen people and received replies on expenses made and facilities provided from at least four hotels during the 2016 wedding of its Special Director Asthana’s daughter in Vadodara. The report claims that “a perusal of these replies and CBI documents show that several venues were availed by the Asthana family on complimentary basis. “Referring to the CBI documents, it stated that the catering for the event was provided by Hotel Express Towers which did not charge the expenditure. In a signed document provided to CBI, the Hotel Express Towers said, “We were only supplying food at the event and no other services were provided and the function was done on complimentary basis so no bill was raised for the Sangeet Sandhya held on 24/11/2016.
The wedding ceremony, according to CBI documents, was organized on November 25 at the Sunken Garden, The Lakshmi Vilas Palace, the home of the erstwhile royalty of the Gaekwads. In its reply to the CBI, The Laxmi Vilas Palace has said that the venue was provided to the Asthana family on complimentary basis. It further alleged that catering for the wedding was handled by Vadodara’s oldest five star hotel The Grand Mercure Surya Palace and the documents do not show the payment. This has been under circulation that around 1,200 guest of eminence attended the wedding. The CBI team collected all these receipts and invoices as evidence, it added. Apart from this, the Asthana family also booked 35 rooms for two days in the Sun City Club and Resort in Vadodara. In its reply to CBI, the club said it provided the rooms on “complimentary basis”. The owner of the property is reportedly confessed to CBI that as “our resort was new at that time, even before we had launched the resort and we found it as an honor to host such prestigious guests to make them stay at our property and thus we offered it all on complimentary basis.
The CBI has also claimed in its report that a BMW car and a Honda CRV were used by the Asthana family during the function. It says the vehicle was provided by Sandeep Barot, transport incharge of Chetan Sandesara, Pertinently, a PIL filed by petitioner Prashant Bhushan in the Supreme Court raising doubts over Asthana’s integrity, which was later dismissed by SC last year. Meanwhile, the fight between the CBI's top two men is becoming curiouser and curiouser.
ROLE OF RAW OFFICER
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has also named special director Rakesh Asthana as an accused in a bribery case for accepting a bribe of Rs 2 crore to settle meat exporter Moin Qureshi’s case. Apart from Asthana, the CBI has also named RAW number two Samant Kumar Goel in the FIR. Goel has been accused of facilitating the deal between Asthana and Qureshi. The FIR was filed on October 15 and one Manoj, who allegedly transferred the bribe, was arrested the following day. Qureshi was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in August last year. According to the agency, he was arrested under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and he was not cooperating in the probe. The meat exporter has been accused of laundering money for a host of public servants.


Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Case Of Aadhar

By on Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The origin of Aadhar dates back to the year 1999, post-Kargil war times when the head of security analysis, Mr. K. Subrahmanyam, wanted to assess the sense of security situation among the citizens of India.
The first prominent step in the inception of Aadhar was taken in January-2009 by the GoI (UPA-II tenure) under the Prime Ministership of Dr.Manmohan Singh with the formation of UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India); and by Mr Nandan Nilekani, co-founder of tech giant Infosys materializes, headed the statutory authority under the ambiance of Ministry of Electronic and Information Technology. It was, only in March-2016 when Aadhar act took its shape, passed in the Lok Sabha as a money bill to give legislative backing to the former and started to broaden its horizons.
The rationale, given in introduction of the world’s largest bio-metric digital record base by the GoI, was to reach up to the common masses specifically to the people dwelling in the remote areas to fulfil the aim of financial inclusion.
There were numerous schemes and benefits articulated by the GoI to increase the Aadhar-intrusion to the biggest extent possible vis a vis the introduction of AEPS (Aadhar Enabled Payment Sysytem) where individual can perform all the typical banking transactions viz. balance check, deposit, cash withdraw and aadhar-to-aadhar fund transfer in a hassle free manner.
This was introduced to ease the functioning of the Banking Correspondent's to reach into the rural masses and enlighten them with the literature of financial inclusion and the benefits in an easy manner.
Another initiative in the same lines was taken by the SIDBI (Small Industries Development Bank Of India) to ease the business ventures undertaken by the MSME (Micro,Small & Medium Enterprises) by introducing the digitally motivated platform of Udyog Aadhar under which the MSME will self-certify its existence, bank account, owners Aadhar details and other basic information.
Based on the same the MSMEs can be issued, a unique identifier (i.e the Udyog Aadhar Number), which can be used to leverage all the benefits enlisted by the respective ministries and departments under the GoI with ease.
Now the big question to ponder upon is what went wrong that the Apex court had to intervene and make amendments to the Aadhar Act when everything was adequately going well.
On 26th September, 2018 the Hon’ble Supreme court of India under the supervision of the 5-judges constitutional bench struck down the Section 47, Section 57 of the Aadhar Act 2009 which allows the private entities like telecom to leverage the data collected by UIDAI. The moves come under the issue of data leakage instances observed globally.
SC also passed the amendments noting that it will henceforth not mandatory for an individual to link the bank accounts and mobile number with Aadhar respectively however it is still the prerogative of an individual to held the link between PAN (permanent account number) and Aadhar.
The semantic of the state of Aadhar can only be taken by being cognizant of the main objective of the same rather than glorifying or criticizing the functionalities.
The SWOT analysis should be given impetus to assess how far the objectives have materialized yet and the identification of the focus areas.
Writer is alumni of IIT BOMBAY
your comment solicited
email us: buntline123@gmail.com

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Why BJP kept on waiting construction of Ram Temple?

By on Tuesday, October 23, 2018

THE MATTER HAS BEEN TAKEN FROM HINDI WRITES-UP;  COMPILED AND EDITED BY THE BUNT LINE 

The RSS has announced that it is to review the function of Uttar Pradesh government on Oct 24, and has also reprimanded the Union Government for Ram Temple issue.
Why is RSS trying to scrutinize the functioning of UP Government & is chiding to the Modi government while it has not been conferred any constitutional power like Governor, Prime Minister and President?
Why is it issuing command to the State government and is chiding Modi Government on the issue of Mandir construction has unexplained rights.
 Incase let it be assume that the BJP is an adopted child of RSS, why the BJP is replying clarification of its relation with the RSS to the oppositions? -- Who look saying like, “The BJP is a puppet and is being pulled or controlled by RSS.”
Many times other parties’ supremo and the former chief ministers of this state have also said so.
 It is noticeable that Mr Amit Shah and the assistant Dr Krishn Gopal Mishra including other chief of RSS will participate in the meeting that is to be held on 24th October.
It is strange that the RSS is going to discuss on the feedback review instead of top leaders of the BJP in this meeting -- even that the RSS can decide the future of many faces in the cabinet and in the organization.
It is not confirm that the PM Modi is to participate in this meeting, but cannot be denied too. However Yogi Aditya Nath and his Deputy Chief Ministers, Dr Mahendra Nath Pandey, State BJP president and Mr Sunil Basal shall be participant of this meeting.
Sir Mohan Bhagwat, the RSS chief, has toughen his statement on Temple construction issue, "Why doesn’t the BJP bring in bill for the ‘construction of Ram temple'?"
The scheduled meeting has its own importance after the statement. However the statement of RSS chief that the Hindutva is not mature without Muslims had surprised the Muslim community; now he is trying to lure the scheduled caste.
If the RSS endorses all the needful help in election to the BJP, why it does not come in the fray?
Mohan Bhagwat’s statement appears that the BJP is trailing in the coming Parliamentary election 2019. The reason of this fact is that Mohan Bhagwat had not spoken such any statement before the parliamentary election-2014 whatever he is continue.
However it looks a split opposition, but no such sign is looking in future. if it hadn't so, the RSS should have not been under worrying.
It appears that there may be a big change to replace PM Narendra Modi after winning of the parliamentary election.
(‘We will arrive at Ramlala, and build temple there’) Ram Lala Hum Aayenge Aur Mandir Wahi Banayenge slogan has been shouted for the past many years, but it looks that there is no so far BJP government optimum.
Why? The reason is that no such slogan is in propaganda campaign of present government as has been shouted during the Babri Masjid demolition.
Where the resentment is among the Hindu for the BJP policies; the awareness is also here that the BJP has formed its government with grand-slam victory; and if it ensures, it can bring in a law to construct Ram Temple, but it is kidding the Hindu’s faith.
Although the BJP shall bring in a bill before the election after a scold of RSS; and will construct Ram Temple so that it could hide its tenure’s flaws, showing Hindu's card to let the BJP be able to win the election—2019.
It explains that there may be sporadic riots with the construction of Temple; there may be murders of a few innocents; the curfew can be clamped; the arrested shall be sent behind the bars; but after the construction completed, there shall return of peace and normalcy in situation in the affected areas.
Ram Temple Nirman bill can be passed exactly as the SC/ST revision bill was passed. Both matters were in the court and the BJP, having gone against the court’s verdict, achieved success in passing the SC/ST bill in both houses; in the same way, it can bring in bill for Ram temple construction and shall be able to pass it; but why the BJP has been waiting the election-2019 for Ram Temple after winning its parliamentary election-2014 is not better to write here?

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Dussehra in Punjab left condolence -- to state; to country!

By on Saturday, October 20, 2018

Running train kills more than 50 Dussehra fair crowd in Amritsar
Shukhveer Aluwalia; Amritsar
On the occasion of Dussehra, the celebration of Ravana effigy burning near the railway track at Zoda crossing in Amritsar Punjab was going on suddenly it turned into grief atmosphere on Friday evening.
More than 50 people have been killed when a huge crowd was the spectators of the burning effigy of Ravana which turned into intense flames – and the crowd retreated; tried to escape themselves narrowly spill away from the spot towards the railway track; meanwhile Jalandhar Express ran into the crowd.
The Train was in speed, and the spectators of this celebration came into the trap of this fatal accident on Friday this week in Amritsar.
Atleast 50 people have been killed in this fatal accident. According to report, on the occasion an effigy of Ravana was being burnt to celebrate the fair of Dussehra near the Railway track at Zoda crossing.
Those who had to be returned would never be come back; and those who are safe are preparing for funeral; those who had to carry milk for their children are seeking bamboo for pallbearing. The mothers are in stir to search their children whom they were waiting. The shrouds to wrap, the wood to burn and the places to put the bodies of their beloved one are lacking.
The eye witness says that it is a very strange accident -- and it is not an accident rather a murder. Several questions are here to be posed which have had no answer. Who is responsible for this accident is to find in this question?
1- How the Ravana effigy burning fair was allowed near the Railway track?
2. Why didn't maintained the needful security measures in this fair by the local administration.
3. Why didn't the DM order to the railway to run slow train?
4. Why didn't the management of fair communicate instruction to the people not to cross the railway track?
5. Why didn't the Police ensure the security measures before managing this fair? The people of country need the answer of these questions, but all these questions are being subsided in the frame of investigation now. The Chief Minister of Punjab Captain, Amrinder Singh, has announced Rupee 5 Lakh ex-gratia to teh next kin of the deceased of this accident and ordered an inquiry.
The effigy laden with crackers began to burst and the intense fire turn into high flame, the spectators went over the railway track and a few of them were already bystanders there.  


Friday, October 19, 2018

N D Tiwari is no more; took his last breath

By on Friday, October 19, 2018

It's good bye

Mr ND Tiwari, 93, former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh and Uttara Khand, died in Max hospital at New Delhi on Thursday evening.  Tiwari's prolong illness deteriorated his condition yesterday evening. It is coincidence that Mr Tiwari’s birth day was yesterday when he took his last breath.
Mr Tiwari had taken the charge of Chief Minister post three times during the years 1976-77,1984-85 and 1988-89; then Uttara Khand during 2002-07, and became the Governor of Andhra Pradesh during the year 2007-09. He had been on high profile posts like finance and foreign ministry during the tenure of former Prime Minister Late Rajiv Gandhi..




Tuesday, October 09, 2018

SIR, WHY YOU PROMISE WHEN NOT ABLE TO KEEP?

By on Tuesday, October 09, 2018
There has been a perpetual tendency with the prime minister that he promises but always falters on that, I understand, promising something is much easier than having the capacity to deliver. I will like to tell you some of the promises in the Agricultural sector which has not been fulfilled till today. This government promised on the price stabilisation fund to help regulate price volatility of important agro-horticultural commodities such as onion, potatoes and pulses and it was set up in 2014-15 but it is ineffective till this day. The second most important issue was establishment of National Agriculture Market for electronic trading and connecting the existing Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees and other market yards to create a unified national market for agricultural commodities. This was also set up in 2016 but largely non-functional since then. The third promise was 50% profits for farmers over cost of production but now the government has started to say it is not possible. The next promise was to unbundle Food Corporation of India (FCI) operations into procurement, storage and distribution for greater efficiency but not much headway was made in this regard. A high-level committee headed by former food minister and senior BJP leader Shanta Kumar, was formed to look into the issue but the committee had junked the idea in its report in 2015. This reality of agrarian crisis has to be understood in right perspective and it has to reckon with in the current kharif marketing season itself, even as it has announced a fresh round of minimum support price (MSP) increases for the about-to-be-planted rabi crops.Farmers have already started bringing their freshly-harvested kharif crops of moong (green gram), urad (black gram), bajra (pigeon-pea) and short-duration paddy varieties, besides early pickings of cotton, into the mandis. Peak arrivals will happen, though, only after next month. But even before that, almost all kharif crops are selling at well below their declared MSPs as is shown in the following table
TABLE-1 MINIMUM SUPPORT PRICE VERSUS MARKET PRICES (Rs. /Quintal) CROP




MSP




CURRENT MARKET PRICE
BAJRA
1950
1350(JAIPUR,RAJASTHAN)
JOWAR
2430
1300(JALGAON,MAHARASHTRA)
MAIZE
1700
1400(DEVANGREE,KARNATKA)
RAGI
2897
2200(NAGMANGALA,KARNATKA)
ARHAR/ TUR
5675
3400(LATUR, MAHARASHTRA)
MOONG
6975
5200(PALI,RAJASTHAN)
URAD
5600
2900(TIKAMGARH,MP)
GROUNDNUT
4890
3750(GONDAL)
SOYABEAN
3399
2990(UJJAIN,MP)
NIGERSEED
5877
3900(DINDORI,MP)
SUNFLOWER
5388
3700(CHITRADURGA,KARNATKA)
COTTON
5150
5150(SRIGANGANAGAR)
SOURCE: Ministry of Agriculture 2018
Take, for instance, bajra. This coarse grain is quoting in major markets across poll-bound Rajasthan at Rs 1,250-1,350 per quintal, as against the MSP of Rs 1,950 announced by the Modi government. Jowar, likewise, is trading in Jalgaon, Latur, Sholapur and other centres of Maharashtra at Rs 1,200-1,400 per quintal. Its MSP was handsomely raised from Rs 1,700 per quintal in 2017-18 to Rs 2,430 for this season, just as that of bajra was, from Rs 1,425 to Rs 1,950. Even more revealing is ragi or finger-millet. This crop’s MSP was hiked by 52.5 per cent, from Rs 1,900 to Rs 2,897 per quintal. But its current average modal price at Davangere and the Nagamangala market of Karnataka’s Mandya district according to data from the Union Agriculture Ministry’s own agmarknet.in portal is in the Rs 2,100-2,200 range. In the case of kharif pulses arhar (pigeon-pea), moong and urad the ruling market rates are below not only their latest, but even the 2017-18 and 2016-17 MSPs of Rs 5,450 and Rs 5,050/quintal, Rs 5,575 and Rs 5,225/quintal, and Rs 5,400 and Rs 5,000/quintal, respectively (see accompanying table).The only crop that, as of now, is selling at just around MSP levels is cotton. One reason for that is the tight domestic supply position and greater prospect for exports. Those similar hopes of China buying more from India, in order to offset cutbacks in purchases from the US haven’t materialised yet, though, in soyabean. The oilseed, a major crop grown in Madhya Pradesh (which is also going for Assembly polls in just over a month), is now fetching less than Rs 3,000 per quintal in Ujjain. This is again below the current MSP of Rs 3,399 per quintal and also the Rs 3,050 for 2017-18.The other significant crop that has been arriving in the mandis of Haryana and Punjab is Pusa-1509, a short-duration basmati paddy variety. About 10 days back, it was being traded at Rs 2,650-2,700 per quintal, but has since fallen to Rs 2,300-2,400 levels. The main triggers for this have been grain quality issues on account of crop damage from unseasonal rains last week and also uncertainty over Iranian purchases, post the recent US trade sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Prices of par-boiled rice from the new Pusa-1509 crop have come down in the last 10 days, from Rs 5,100-5,200 to around Rs 4,700 per quintal. There has been a decline even for white steamed rice from Rs 6,300-6,400 to Rs 5,900-6,000. This will naturally reflect in the prices paid for paddy as well. What all this simply translates into is the fact that while announcing MSPs for crops and fixing these at over 1.5 times their estimated production costs the so-called Swaminathan formula is easy, actual implementation on the ground isn’t at all so. The only two crops where the MSPs seem realistically implementable are paddy and cotton. In paddy, because there is assured government procurement: Out of India’s estimated 112.91 million tonnes rice production in 2017-18, as much as 38.18 million tonnes was bought by the Food Corporation of India and state agencies. In the case of cotton, farmers are likely to get MSPs this time only because of the market, not the government. But in all other crops including the likes of ragi, sesamum, nigerseed and sunflower the MSPs will probably remain just on paper.
MSP HIKE IS BENEFICIAL TO FARMERS?

The decision to hike the MSP for kharif crops is welcome relief for the farming community reeling under severe distress due to the collapse of agricultural commodity prices and a general collapse of demand in the economy, much more in the rural economy. This is nowconfirmed from several sources, including a decline in real wages in agriculture (a sustained decline for the last four years), the decline in commodity prices and a general sense of joblessness among the youth. Some of this is also captured in the GDP deflator, which shows a sharp fall from more than 5% in 2016-17 to only around 1% for 2017-18.The demand of farmers, based on the Swaminathan committee recommendations, was MSP at 1.5 times of the C2 cost (total cost including imputed cost). But what has been announced is 1.5 times the A2+FL cost (paid out cost plus family labour cost). The MSP announced barely covers 1.5 times the A2+FL cost and will give a return of only 12% over C2 as against the demand of 50% over C2 cost. But the announced MSP is also significantly lower than the average wholesale price of paddy at ₹1,950 per quintal in April 2018, which is lower than ₹1,980 per quintal in April of last year. I shall like to enlighten about how the different terminologies are used while finalising MSP. The National Commission on Farmers as the panel headed by the agricultural scientist was called did not elaborate on what really constituted “weighted average cost of production” in its report submitted in October 2006. The Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP), on the other hand, gives three definitions of production costs: A2, A2+FL and C2. A2 costs basically cover all paid-out expenses, both in cash and in kind, incurred by farmers on seeds, fertilisers, chemicals, hired labour, fuel, irrigation, etc. A2+FL cover actual paid-out costs plus an imputed value of unpaid family labour. C2 costs are more comprehensive, accounting for the rentals and interest forgone on owned land and fixed capital assets respectively, on top of A2+FL. Despite these concerns, the announcement of MSP increase is not just timely but also a much-needed respite at the time of rural distress. If properly followed through by adequate procurement, it can certainly raise agricultural commodity prices and also inject much-needed demand if this also materializes in higher income for a large majority of farmers. But it would also require the government to loosen its purse strings beyond what was promised in the budget this year.
Uma Shanker Singh
writer is a retired IFS
mailus: buntline123@gmail.com


Employees of different departments demonstrated to restore Old Pension Scheme

By on Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Kshitiz Kant;Lucknow
The thousands of government employees from various departments arrive for their demands of Old Pension re-implementation at Eco Garden Lucknow.
The demonstration of government employees including teachers and officers was spectacular on Monday noon this week.
 The heavy police forces were deployed outside to control the crowd in the wake of a fear to march towards the State Assembly 4 Kilometer away from the spot. The watch over the activities of these people was on alert at the garden gate.
The vehicles entry in the campus was prohibited; all these were parked outside on the road.
The voice of government employees including their leaders and the top office bearers in this organized rally addressed to these employees at state levels was high.
Mr Hari KIshor Tiwari, convenor of Old Pension Restoration Forum, has said that the battle of Old Pension shall be fought till the affirmative result comes.
  Dr Dinesh Chandra Sharma, president of the Old Pension Restoration Forum, said: ‘The fund recovered on the name of New Pension Scheme is invested into Share Market.  No provision of minimum pension has been guaranteed in this scheme which has brought the future of the teachers and the employees on the verge deadend.’ He asserted, "if the Old Pension is not restored,the government should be alert for the forthcoming election consequences."
It is noticeable here that India's many banking scams and the leading infrastructure companies defaulted on payments to lenders triggering panic in the markets and the amount of 10% shares of UP Government in the NPS have not yet been paid .

Sunday, October 07, 2018

All India Pradhan Sangathan stages Dharna for Fund, Function and Functionaries power

By on Sunday, October 07, 2018

Kshitiz Kant:Lucknow
An Association of Uttar Pradesh Village Heads has been, and is staging its continuous Dharna at Eco Garden Lucknow on Sunday this week.
Mr Ram Sevak Yadav, state president of this Association, told to the media person: “ We need freedom to perform our work as the Head of Villages under article-73 of the constitution which confers us the power to exercise our self-government at village level Panchayat; and the same has been empowered in 1994 revising the Panchyati Raj Act 1947."
He said, “The BJP government during Kalyan Singh tenure had undertaken the process of decentralising the power by Gram Swaraj and affirmatively to exercise its power was given to the Gram Panchayats by issuing Government Orders step by steps, which have been now deactivated; rather say the powers have been snatched from Village Panchayat."
He allegedly added, "The district level and block level officers are intervening in the rights of  heads of villages, and corruption in all their varied ramifications are reigning supreme because they have been empowered to conduct a disciplinary inquiry against the heads of villages. These officers victimize to the head of villages, or system of State Panchayti Raj, by misusing the provisions in the extent of inquiry."
He demanded, "The present BJP government must have to restore all the system like former state BJP government (during 1999) to maintain the powers and the rights of Panchayats.”
  He also demanded to delete the obsolete section of the rulings in UP Panchayti act 1947 by the revision and to bring into operation of the recommendations of State Finance Commision to increase the budget fund to the Panchayats.
He also demanded: "The levy recovery under Indian Constitution 243J; under section-37, UP Panchayti Raj act 1947; and under the rulings 220 must have allowed; and also demanded from the government to authorize Panchayats to exercise to make its rulings.”



Wednesday, October 03, 2018

WHY KEEN TO SAVE IL&FS?

By on Wednesday, October 03, 2018

When the world marked the 10th anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers which triggered the global financial crisis in September 2008, India's leading infrastructure finance company IL&FS defaulted on payments to lenders triggering panic in the markets. Below is all about IL&FS and what went wrong with it:
WHAT IS IL&FS?
IL&FS Ltd, or Infrastructure Leasing & Finance Services, is a core investment company and serves as the holding company of the IL&FS Group, with most business operations domiciled in separate companies which form an ecosystem of expertise across infrastructure, finance and social and environmental services. A brain child of the late MJ Pherwani, IL&FS was founded in 1987 with equity from Central Bank of India, Unit Trust of India and Housing Development Finance Co to fund infrastructure projects when peers IDBI and ICICI were focused more on corporate projects.
WHO OWNS IL&FS?
State-owned Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), which owns a 25.34% stake in IL&FS, is its largest shareholder, followed by Japan’s Orix Corporation (23.54%). Other key shareholders are the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (12.56%), Housing Development Finance Corporation (9.02%), Central Bank of India (7.67%), and State Bank of India (6.42%).
WHAT AILS THIS COMPANY
As infrastructure became the central theme in the past two decades, IL&FS used its first mover advantage to lap up projects. In the process, it has built up a debt-to-equity ratio of 18.7. The group with at least 24 direct subsidiaries, 135 indirect subsidiaries, six joint ventures and four associate companies is sitting on a debt of about Rs 91,000 crore. Of this, nearly Rs 60,000 crore of debt is at project level, including road, power and water projects. A major reason behind troubles of IL&FS is complications in land acquisition. The 2013 land acquisition law made many of its projects unviable. Cost escalation also led to many incomplete projects. Lack of timely action exacerbated the problems.
WHAT HAS HIT IL&FS?
A credit crunch facing major Indian infrastructure financing and building company, Infrastructure Financing and Leasing Services Ltd (IL&FS), has roiled the nation's financial markets in recent days, triggering concerns about risk in the rest of the country's shadow banking sector. As Prime Minister in 2014-15 announced a major program to build highways, roads, tunnels, affordable housing and renewable power generation across the country, IL&FS's ambitions grew and it was one of the biggest beneficiaries of the drive. It has won several of these projects, either through direct bidding or joint ventures, but has taken on heavy debt as a result. Until early August, it had an AAA rating from credit rating agencies largely thanks to its place at the center of government infrastructure plans and its robust list of top shareholders.
WHAT WENT WRONG?
In summary - the company piled up too much debt to be paid back in the short-term while revenues from its assets are skewed towards the longer term. IL&FS first shocked markets when it postponed a $350 million bonds issuance in March due to demand for a higher yield from investors. Under increasing pressure from the Reserve Bank of India to identify and deal with bad loans quickly, the country's banks were wary of extending and rolling over loans if the credit risks were high. This made it more difficult for IL&FS to refinance its debt as it came due. IL&FS' net debt to earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization, a measure of a company's ability to pay debt through its operating income, was hovering around a ratio of 11 at the end of March 2018, based on data from the company's latest annual report. Analysts consider anything above 5 a red flag. Then came a string of rating downgrades, beginning in June. In more troubles for the crippled IL&FS group, India Ratings on Tuesday downgraded the long-term issuer rating of a group company, IL&FS Environmental Infrastructure and Services (IEISL), and placed its ratings under watch. The agency has also downgraded the ratings of various debt instruments to ‘BB’.Rival rating agency Icra had last month junked the ratings of most of the group companies. The downgrade by India Ratings reflects a similar rating action on its parent, IL&FS, following the default on repayment of commercial papers. The board of IL&FS then rushed to approve a rights issue of 45 billion rupees to be completed by October. The board also sought to recapitalize IL&FS Financial Services, ITNL and three smaller subsidiaries. The Company said in its annual report that because many of company's claims and other payments involved government contracts it might take two-three years to get these resolved. By the middle of September, IL&FS and IL&FS Financial Services had a combined 270 billion rupees of debt rated as junk by CARE Ratings and a further six group companies had suffered downgrades with a negative outlook on another 120 billion rupees of borrowings.
SERIOUS LAPSES ON PART OF GOVERNMENT
This brings us to the IL&FS episode where the mayhem began in the first place. A look at the financials of ILFS Financial Services (IFIN) — whose commercial paper was swiftly downgraded from A1+ (having a very strong degree of safety and lowest risk) to A4 (very high credit risk to default) and then to default status in a matter of two weeks — suggests that there were enough warning bells in the company’s books for lenders or ratings agencies. As per the FY18 financial results of the company, its gearing (debt/equity) was a high 8 times and the rise in provisioning and interest costs was already adding pressure on the company’s profitability. The company’s exposure to infrastructure sector, only increases the risk. While rating agencies have been taking note of the company’s high concentration in loan book, deterioration in asset quality and subdued profitability, they assigned top notch rating to the company’s CPs, drawing comfort from the strong parentage of the IL&FS group. But the swift downgrading of the parent company’s ratings has once again highlighted that placing undue importance on promoter backing and parentage can cost dearly— ratings of instruments issued by many PSU banks suffer from a similar myopic view. In ICRA’s September 3 release, the rating agency had taken stock of a delay by IFIN in meeting its commercial paper (CP) repayments due on August 28, 2018. But since the delay in CP redemption was on account of technical issues and the facilities were repaid through surplus available with IFIN along with funding support from the group, the rating was left unchanged.
In its September 17 release when it finally downgraded the company’s CPs to D rating, citing recent irregularities in debt servicing, it also interestingly mentioned the change in definition of ‘companies in the same group’.It has stated that as per IFIN’s board policy, each business vertical of IL&FS and its respective SPVs were considered as an individual group; thus the various verticals were not treated as companies of the same group.
LACK OF REGULATOR’S OR GOVERNMENT’S ROLE
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is reportedly conducting a forensic audit into IL&FS’s books. The banking regulator, along with market watchdog Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), released statements on Sept. 23 to allay investor concerns.The company, however, has been directed by the RBI now to follow guidelines set out in the Companies Act, for determining ‘companies in the same group’, wherein entire loans to IL&FS group companies would be classified as exposures to companies in the same group, impacting capital adequacy calculations. Such reporting lapses coming to fore only after a crisis unfolds once again raises questions over the murky role of auditors in the entire episode, much like in the PNB scam. For the IL&FS group as a whole that has a consolidated debt of about ₹91,000 crore, the high debt level itself should have raised red-flags with lenders and the regulator. Given that the group has about 135 subsidiaries — 27 direct and 105 indirect — and loans have been extended to group companies, the regulator, as a pre-emptive measure, should have ensured proper inspection of the books of accounts.
DIGGING DEEPER
Road construction is undertaken by IL&FS mainly through special purpose vehicles floated by its subsidiary IL&FS Transportation Networks (ITNL). Crippled infrastructure development and finance company IL&FS has claimed that if funds worth Rs 16,000 crore stuck with concession authorities were released on time, it wouldn't have landed in the mess it is currently in.
EFFECT ON INDIVIDUAL’S INVESTOR
Since the defaults have been on commercial papers, it will affect individual investors, too. This is because mutual funds invest in them and these CPs are supposed to be relatively secure investments. Even the value of unit-linked insurance plans, endowment plans, the National Pension Scheme, etc. will be hit. There may also be some indirect effects. For instance, several projects, including the Bengaluru Metro construction plans, are likely to be delayed, which will affect individuals, too, besides the firms involved.
WHY GOVERNMENT IS KEEN IT SAVE IL&FS
There are certain issues which I am very curious to understand but not getting any answer and they are as below-
(1) If IL&FS could be saved then why not Vijya Mallya?
(2) Is it not an attempt to save foreign investors