National


ISRO sets world record, launches 104 satellites

MMNN:15 Feb. 2017

The Indian Space Research Organisation on Wednesday scripted history by successfully launching a record 104 satellites, including India's earth observation satellite, on a single rocket from the spaceport here.
This is the highest number of satellites ever launched in a single mission.
Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV-C37 blasted off at 9:28 am from the first launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre and first injected Cartosat-2 series satellite into orbit followed by the other 103 nano satellites, including 96 from the U.S, in a gap of about 30 minutes.
As the scientists at the Mission Control centre broke into cheers, ISRO Chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar announced: "All 104 satellites successfully placed in orbit. My hearty congratulations to the entire ISRO team for the wonderful job they have done."
Earlier, the Russian Space Agency had launched 37 satellites in one go.
ISRO had earlier launched 23 satellites in a single mission in June 2015.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Team ISRO for the successful launch.
In today's complex mission after the end of 28-hour countdown, the PSLV-C37 injected the 714 kg Cartosat-2 series satellite followed by ISRO's nano satellites INS-1A and INS-1B in an 505 km polar Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO).
This was followed by launch of the other 101 nano satellites of overseas customers in blocks in a series of separations.
INS-1A and INS-1B will carry a total of four different payloads from Space Applications Centre (SAC) and Laboratory for Electro Optics Systems (LEOS) of ISRO for conducting various experiments, ISRO said
Cartosat-2 series satellite, with a mission life of five years, will send images that would cater to coastal land use and regulation, road network monitoring, distribution of water, creation of land use maps among others
PM lauds launch
Meanwhile, ISRO chief A.S. Kiran Kumar said at the mission control centre at Sriharikota that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has congratulated the space agency team for the successful launch.
"Congratulations to @isro for the successful launch of PSLV-C37 and CARTOSAT satellite together with 103 nano satellites!," Mr. Modi said in a tweet.
"This remarkable feat by @isro is yet another proud moment for our space scientific community and the nation. India salutes our scientists," he said.



From Husband To Nephews, The Return Of All VK Sasikala's Men

CHENNAI:MMNN:15 Feb. 2017

Ahead of being jailed today, VK Sasikala executed precise action to ensure that the controls of her party, the AIADMK, will remain firmly in her clutches. Two nephews, expelled by party matriarch J Jayalalithaa in 2011 were brought back to the party by her; one of them, TTV Dinakaran, was made the party's No 2 with the title of Deputy General Secretary. Ms Sasikala retains the most powerful position of General Secretary.
As she headed in a convoy of cars to present herself in neighbouring Karnataka to be jailed, her husband, M Natarajan, who she had to publicly disown to reunite with Ms Jayalalithaa in 2012 after a falling out, spoke briefly to NDTV. "Yes, I'm in touch with Sasikala. I am going to the airport (to fly to Bangalore for Sasikala's surrender before the court)," the controversial businessman said before driving away in a grey BMW.
Ms Sasikala, a video cassette seller who also made the occasional promotional film for the AIADMK, met Ms Jayalalithaa, who had ended her blockbuster movie star career to enter politics, in the 80s. Their friendship was tested by corruption scandals, and at times, interrupted, but they always returned to each other, with Ms Jayalalithaa describing her aide as the woman who ran her house and provided her emotional support in the assertively male world of Tamil Nadu politics.
At the end of 2011, Ms Sasikala, Mr Natarajan and 12 of their relatives were ejected from the AIADMK by Ms Jayalalithaa on charges of conspiring against the party, though it was reportedly their attempt to influence administrative decisions and appointments that were a significant constituent of the large and very public estrangement. Ms Sasikala was asked to move out of Ms Jayalalithaa's bungalow in Poes Garden in Chennai. To return, months later, she had to pledge no contact with her male relatives including her husband.
When Ms Jayalalithaa died in December, his presence at the funeral, where Ms Sasikala performed the last rites, was seen by some as an audacious move. At the time, the AIADMK offered a defense. "In her moment of agony and crisis, probably Sasikala would have needed her family members around her," said V Maitreyan, a parliamentarian, who has since turned on Ms Sasikala in a feud over who should be Chief Minister now.
It is in no small measure that Ms Sasikala's family intertwined with Ms Jayalalithaa. The Supreme Court yesterday found Ms Sasikala guilty of conspiring with Ms Jayalalithaa during the politician's first term as Chief Minister in the early 90s to illegally build a fortune that included prized real estate. Ms Sasikala's sister-in-law, Ilavarasi, and her nephew, TTV Sudhakaran, were also found convicted. All three are sentenced to four years in prison In 1995, Mr Sudhakaran's wedding, an uninhibited parade of money, thousands of guests, hundreds of elephants and chefs, and saris and jewelry, turned into a sinkhole for Ms Jayalalithaa, who had adopted him as her foster son. The scale of the arrangements impelled protests and court cases, alleging that Ms Jayalalithaa had abused her office at Chief Minister. She was famously photographed with Ms Sasikala in identical silk saris, laden with gold, including matching waistbands. The politician disowned Mr Sudhkaran a year later, when she was also voted out.
It is Mr Sudharakan's brother who has been given made the party's deputy chief today. Justifying his return two months after Ms Jayalalithaa's death, Ms Sasikala said he had "apologized in writing and in person". The other nephew who's back in the AIADMK fold is Dr S Venkatesh.
Ms Sasikala's family, disparagingly dubbed "the Mannargudi mafia" after their hometown, was one of the reasons why public anger surged when the AIADMK revealed it had picked her to replace O Panneerselvam as Chief Minister about 10 days ago. Online campaigns like #SasiakalaNotMyCM also ridiculed the positioning of a political novice for the state's top job.
With Mr Panneerselvam refusing to surrender office, Ms Sasikala has nominated loyalist and minister E Palaniswamy as the AIADMK's presumptive Chief Minister. It's now up to Gvoernor C Vidyasagar Rao to decide who should be given the chance to prove a majority in the legislature, when, and how.



PM Modi Refers To Rajiv Gandhi In Attack On Congress Over Notes Ban

NEW DELHI: MMNN:19 Dec. 2016

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed supporters at a rally in Uttar Pradesh's Kanpur. Here are the highlights:
>>There is a strong desire for change in Uttar Pradesh.
>>I don't just see the winds of change. I see a storm for change.
>>If the youth of Uttar Pradesh come together, then nothing can stop India from progressing.
>>Countries with youthful populations progress at a much faster pace.
>>India has a majority of its population under the age of 35 and this will increase further. Our youth is our biggest strength and will carry India to new heights.
>>Energy projects have been set up to improve the lives of those in remote areas.
>>Others political parties are busy with their own worries and troubles. They don't have time for the people.
>>Today, you have a government at the Centre which is dedicated to the poor of this country.
>>We are fighting black money and corruption. We are doing all we can to make a better India.
>>Our agenda is stop corruption, stop black money. But others have an agenda of 'Stop Parliament'.
>>Despite the President of the country telling them to do their job and let Parliament function, they continued to disrupt Parliament.
>>For the first time, the country has seen a government dedicated to punish the corrupt.
>>The opposition parties were seen protecting the corrupt.
>>Those with the habit of malpractice and cheating people of this country will not be allowed to get away anymore.
>>It is time for Uttar Pradesh to change along with the rest of the country. That will be possible only when you vote for change.
>>In the All-Party meeting, I told every party that India wants to move towards honesty.
>>I urged every leader to come together and work towards this.
>>I had said earlier that elections (Lok Sabha and Assembly Polls) are held separately, thereby adding a lot of monetary strain. It also allowed a space for black money to make its way into the system.
>>We should work towards having simultaneous elections for the Centre and the state.
>>We must win the fight we've started against black money, counterfeit money and corruption.
>>People of Uttar Pradesh are tired of Goondaism.
>>Unaccountable, corruption and doing as they please - this is the functioning style of the Congress.
>>I am happy to say that barring 70-72 villages out of 1600-odd villages, all others have got electricity.
>>These 70-odd villages will also get electricity soon. This was not done in all these years by those who ruled for so many years.
>>You all know how difficult it was to get a gas cylinder connection. Now that process has become so simple.
>>We have stopped the misuse of urea by the corrupt and have ensured that farmers get their due share.
>>There is a constant surveillance and monitoring being done at all banks. You can see for yourself how many corrupt people are being caught everyday from across the country.
>>Did you ever see so many corrupt people being caught before? The proof of who is acting against black money and corruption is in front of you.
>>I said this earlier and today I am repeating myself: The difficulties you all have faced over the last month will go away very soon.
>>The situation is improving towards normalcy with each passing day.
>>Starting December 25, every day, the government will give Rs. 1,000 to 15,000 people using e-payments - 15,000 new people every day.
>>That means, once someone gets it, they cannot get it a second time. This will happen every day for 100 days.
>>Small traders will be the beneficiaries of this. Digital transactions will put an end to black money.
>>The people of India came together - 125 crore people came together for honesty.
>>No matter how much one praises, it won't be enough for the great people of India. This is not a success for a Prime Minister, or a success for any political party. It is a success, a win for the people of India.


To end black money in political funding, Modi govt must do more than blame old law

NEW DELHI: MMNN:19 Dec. 2016

On Saturday, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley embarked on a spree of damage control mode by issuing a statement on the Narendra Modi government's stance on political funding and black money. Political parties have not been granted any exemption after demonetisation and the introduction of Taxation Laws (Second Amendment) Act, 2016 which came into force on 15 December, said Jaitley.
He added: "Income and donations of political parties fall under the purview of Section 13A of the Income Tax Act 1961 and there is no change in its provisions. In this era of instant outrage, a 35-year-old law is presented as a new law being passed by the NDA Government."
This statement came in response to media reports and a political storm brewing among certain Opposition parties after the revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia said, "If it is a deposit in the account of political parties, they are exempt. But if it is deposited in any individual account, in anyone's account, that information will definitely come on our radar."
Adhia's statement drew immediate media and political attention in the context of the ongoing demonetisation exercise. The plan, originally announced on 8 November gives time to deposit old, invalidated Rs 500, Rs 1,000 currency notes in banks till 30 December (in bank branches) and 31 March (at Reserve Bank of India counters).
Going by Adhia's statement, political parties could have deposited any amount without paying taxes or facing any investigations. Hence, the possibility opens up for tax cheats to approach a registered political party to make their loot legit with an understanding that the money will be returned at a later date - with a cut going into the pocket of the agent (in this case, the political party).
Under the current rules, no political outfit needs to show the source of funds for cash donations under Rs 20,000. Hence, parties have a logical opportunity to show a majority of their deposits under this category by creating thousands of backdated receipts and can, thus, launder black money with no questions asked. Typically, political parties do not even keep receipts for donations.
According to an analysis of political funding by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) in the past few years, around 75 percent of such funding in India remains opaque and falls in the anonymous donation category.
Here, we have a serious problem.
Political parties have a clear option to print backdated receipts and launder black money. This is a major hole in the implementation of demonetisation, one of the main goals of which is to unearth the black money in the system. What the finance minister clarified in his carefully-worded statement on Saturday is absolutely true to every word. Exemption to political parties is not a law that was created by the Modi government. This is a law that has been in existence for a while.
But, there are few things of which the government has to take note:
First, whether the law is old or new, the fact is that political parties presently enjoy a big loophole to make their black money white openly. They do enjoy immunity from paying tax and tax scrutiny/prosecution if these outfits show that money came through small donations. This is what Adhia probably meant and what the finance minister reiterated in his statement when he said that the income and donations of political parties "fall in the purview of Section 13A of the Income Tax Act of 1961" and that "there is no change in its provisions".
The question is given that the Modi government has waged an all-out attack on black money, shouldn't it have plugged this loop hole before demonetising 86 percent of the currency in circulation, risking serious economic and social repercussions? The government managed to amend the income tax law for individuals, why didn't it expand the purview for political parties? The demand of the Election Commission, seeking an amendment of laws to allow exemption from tax only to parties that win seats in elections and ban anonymous contributions of Rs 2,000 and above to parties, should be an eye opener to the Modi government and prompt it to ponder over the holes in the black money war plan.
Second, it is true that under Section 13A of the I-T Act, political parties have to submit audited accounts, income and expenditure details, and balance sheets as Jaitley says in the clarification. The finance minister also says that following demonetisation, no political party can accept donations in Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes since they were rendered illegal tender. Any party doing so would be in violation of the law. "Just like anyone else, political parties can also deposit their cash held in the old currency in banks till 30 December, provided they can satisfactorily explain the source of income and their books of accounts reflect the entries prior to 8 November," he said.
Here, isn't Jaitley himself giving a clue to political parties how to deal with their black money - that parties can still take invalidated higher denomination currency notes (including those from black money hoarders for a decent cut) and make thousands of backdated receipts to show the funds arrived before the cut-off date?
If the parties choose to act as conduits of ill-gotten wealth, isn't it almost impossible for the government and taxman to track down the tax cheats?
Third, at a time when the Modi government is aggressively pushing for electronic transactions (cashless), why is the government silent on making political funding can't be made cashless including that of the ruling party? According to PTI, there are 1,866 registered political parties in India as on August, 2015, including six national parties. Many of them haven't even contested elections. There has been a rush for registration of political parties, with as many as 239 new outfits enrolling themselves with the Election Commission between March 2014 and July this year, taking their number to 1,866.
According to data compiled by the EC, in the last Lok Sabha election in 2014, 464 political parties had fielded candidates. The present figure could be much more than 1,866 since 2015, many more parties would have joined the club. Political parties get massive donations from individuals and institutions. They need funds for those who contest elections from their parties and spend substantial funds on administrative, functional expenses. There are no official records for most of these transactions. The possibility of crooks launching political parties solely with the aim of laundering funds is high.
Four, what prevents the government from asking banks details of deposits done by political parties in the months prior to demonetisation (remember the sharp surge in bank deposits between July and September) and after 8 November, including those of the BJP and thereby, setting an example? Asking party members to hand over details of bank deposits to party president alone wouldn't suffice if clean transparency is the goal. Given the radical nature of the demonetisation exercise and considering that banning 86 percent currency in one go isn't a conventional step, the government shouldn't hesitate in going the whole hog to attack all sources of black money. Unarguably, the most critical part of the black money battle is tackling political funding, which is missing here.
Jaitley's clarification that the I-T Act that protects politicians is an old law and the Modi government had nothing to do with it is not a valid argument
It was the responsibility of this government to plug the necessary loop holes before attempting a big gamble to hunt tax cheats, who have been looting the country. The government should have foreseen that crooks will think far ahead and use one of the 1866 political parties as black money laundering machines to make a mockery of the system. If that happens, isn't the pain and trauma forced up on the common man who has, by far, stood by the Modi government on this move going in vain?
When it comes to political funding and black money, the Modi govt could surely do much more than blaming an old law and hoping tax cheats will follow the rules of the game.


Pranab Mukherjee blasts a disrupted Parliament: 'For God's sake, do your job'

NEW DELHI:MMNN:8 Dec. 2016

President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday ripped into Parliamentarians over the continued logjam in both Houses and said "For God's sake, do your job."
Ever since the winter session of Parliament began on November 16, both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha have been repeatedly adjourned, as both ruling and opposition MPs have squabbled over PM Narendra Modi's November 8 decision to scrap high value currency notes.
The President is having none of it.
"For God's sake, do your job. You are meant to transact business in Parliament. Disruption of Parliament is not acceptable at all," Pranab Mukherjee said.
Delivering the Defence Estate Day Lecture 2016 on "Reforms for a stronger Democracy", the President said people send their representatives to Parliament to work for the country and not to agitate.He said he was concerned that disruption of parliamentary work has become a "practice".
"Dharnas can be organised anywhere else," he said, and urged MPs to debate and discuss issues of public importance in Parliament.
Just yesterday, BJP stalwart LK Advani, too, criticised MPs for holding up Pariamentary proceedings.
Proceedings in the Lok Sabha were disrupted for the 15th consecutive day today as the Opposition continued to engage in sloganeering demanding a debate on demonetisation under a rule that entails voting.
As soon as the House assembled, the leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge wanted to raise an issue but Speaker Sumitra Mahajan did not allow him to and started Question Hour.
This prompted members belonging to the Congress, Trinamool Congress and theLeft parties to rush into the Well demanding a discussion on the scrapping of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes.
As Mahajan refused to concede to the demand, Opposition members raised slogans. As the din refused to die down, an upset Speaker warned the protesting MPs to not disturb the entire House through their protests. Members belonging to Samajwadi Party and the NCP extended their support to their opposition counterparts by standing in the aisles along their seats.
"What is this? I am warning you. Please, please, I am repeatedly telling you if you want to debate, debate. But don't disturb the whole House," she said.
Amid the continued din, the Speaker took up five questions before adjourning the House for nearly 20 minutes till noon.
With both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha adjourned for the day without transacting any significant business, the logjam therefore continued.



'Personal law not above Constitution': Read Allahabad HC observation on Triple Talaq

New Delhi:MMNN:8 Dec. 2016

The Allahabad High Court on Thursday called the practice of triple talaq among Muslims as 'unconstitutional'. Saying that no personal law board is above the Constitution, the court held that triple talaq violates the fundamental rights of Muslim women.
Here is the operative part of Allahabad High Court's observation:
The question which disturbs the Court is should muslim wives suffer this tyranny for all times? Should their personal law remain so cruel towards these unfortunate wives? Whether the personal law can be amended suitably to alleviate their sufferings? The judicial conscience is disturbed at this monstrosity. The first wife has to live life for no fault of her but for the reason that her husband got attracted to a lady half of her age which is the reason for being divorced. The view that the Muslim husband enjoys an arbitrary, unilateral power to inflict evil instant divorce does not accord with Islamic injunctions.
It is a popular fallacy that a Muslim male enjoys, under the Quaranic Law, unbridled authority to liquidate the marriage. The whole Quoran expressly forbids a man to seek pretexts for divorcing his wife, so long as she remains faithful and obedient to him. The Islamic law gives to the man primarily the faculty of dissolving the marriage, if the wife, by her indocility or her bad character, renders the married life unhappy; but in the absence of serious reasons, no man can justify a divorce, either in the eye of religion or the law. If he abandons his wife or puts her away in simple caprice, he draws upon himself the divine anger, for the curse of God, said the Prophet, rests on him who repudiates his wife capriciously. In other Islamic State, where the husband must satisfy the court about the reasons for divorce.
However, Muslim law, as applied in India, has taken a course contrary to the spirit of what the Prophet or the Holy Quoran laid down and the same misconception vitiates the law dealing with the wife's right to divorce. The divorce is permissible in Islam only in cases of extreme emergency. When all efforts for effecting a reconciliation have failed, the parties may proceed to a dissolution of the marriage by 'Talaq' or by 'Khola'. The statement that "the whimsical and capricious divorce by the husband is good in law, though bad in theology" cannot be approved as the correct law. The correct law of talaq as ordained by the Holy Quran is that talaq must be for a reasonable cause and be preceded by attempts at reconciliation between the husband and the wife by two arbiters- one from the wife's family and the other from the husband's; if the attempts fail, talaq may be effected.
(Ref: Pathayi v. Moideen 1968 KLT 763; A. Yousuf Rawther Vs. Sowramma, AIR 1971 Kerala 261; referred to with approval by the Supreme Court in Shamim Ara vs State Of U.P. & another : 2002 (7) SCC 518). The decision in Shamim Ara was rendered in 2002, wherein, the observation of the Division Bench judgment of the Kerala High Court was noticed and approved, which was rendered 20-30 years before.
Country has in recent times marched steps ahead in all walks of life including progressive interpretation of laws which cannot be lost sight of except by compromising with regressive trends.... "Law is dynamic and its meaning cannot be pedantic but purposeful." (Refer-- Bai Tahira Vs. Ali Hussain AIR 1979 SC 362).
The purpose of Law in a modern secular State based upon the Constitution is to bring about social change. The muslim community comprise a large percentage of Indian population, therefore, a large section of citizen, in particularly women, cannot be left to themselves to be governed by archaic customs and social practise under the garb of personal law purportedly having divine sanction. The women of the community continue to suffer bias, deprived of the protection, they should otherwise get through provisions in the Constitution that provide for equality and non discrimination.
India is a nation in the making, geographical boundaries alone do not define a nation. It is to be adjudged, amongst others, on the parameter of overall human development and how the society in particular treat their women; leaving such a large population to the whims & fancy of personal law which perpetuate gender inequality and is regressive, is not in the interest of society and the country. It impedes and drags India from becoming a nation. The instant divorce (Triple Talaq) though has been deprecated and not followed by all sects of muslim community in the country, however, is a cruel and the most demeaning form of divorce practised by the muslim community at large. Women cannot remain at the mercy of the patriarchal setup held under the clutches of sundry clerics having their own interpretation of the holy Quoran. Personal laws, of any community, cannot claim supremacy over the rights granted to the individuals by the Constitution.
I would not like to say anything further for the reason that the Supreme Court is seized with the matter.
In Shamim Ara, a statement merely made in the pleadings "written statement" though unsubstantiated that the wife was divorced upon delivering copy of the written statement, was not accepted by the Supreme Court and the subsequent marriage contracted by the husband was held void.
In the facts and circumstances of the present case, the petition stands dismissed. The legality of the marriage/divorce and rights of parties is kept open.



PM Narendra Modi wins TIME Magazine's Person Of The Year - Reader's Poll

NEW DELHI: MMNN:5 Dec. 2016

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on Monday declared as the winner of TIME Magazine's Person Of The Year - Reader's Poll.
According to TIME Magazine, Modi won with 18 per cent of the vote when the poll closed Sunday at midnight. TIME Magazine's Person Of The Year will be announced on December 7, and is selected by TIME Magazine editors.
"He (Modi) placed well ahead of his closest contenders, including Barack Obama, Donald Trump and Julian Assange, who all received seven per cent of the "yes" vote. Modi was also placed far ahead of other prominent figures of this year, like Mark Zuckerberg (two per cent) and Hillary Clinton (four per cent).
It is for the second time that Modi has won the online readers' poll for Time Person of the Year title, securing the honour in 2014, when he had got more than 16 per cent of the almost five million votes cast.
For the fourth year in a row, Modi is among the contenders for Time's 'Person of the Year' honour, which the US publication bestows every year to the one "who has most influenced the news and our world in the past year, for good or ill".
Last year German Chancellor Angela Merkel was Time's 'Person of the Year'.
This year's poll was conducted in partnership with Opentopic and IBM's Watson, thereby assisting TIME editors to see how candidates were influential on the Internet.



Nagrota: Militants gained entry from forest behind Army camp

NEW DELHI: MMNN:5 Dec. 2016

The militants who attacked the Army camp at Nagrota in Jammu and Kashmir, had entered the premises from the forest area in its rear, official sources said today.
The sources claimed that the militants used the forest area located behind the Army camp to gain entry. The area has barbed wire and a small wall, they said.
Two Indian Army officers and five jawans were killed in an eight-hour long gun battle at the military camp near the Army's 16 Corps headquarters in Nagrota on November 29.
Three militants were also neutralised in the attack.
The Army unit is located just three kms from the Corps Headquarters at Nagrota.
A statement by the Army soon after the attack had said that the terrorists forced their way into the Officers Mess complex by throwing grenades and firing at the sentries.
However, Army chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag said on the sidelines of an event that the incident was under investigation and a final report will clarify everything.



PM Modi sits in Rajya Sabha even during adjournment, chats with MPs

NEW DELHI: MMNN:1 Dec. 2016

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday remained seated in the Rajya Sabha even during an adjournment of 15 minutes as members from various political parties, including some from the opposition, were seen going to his seat to exchange pleasantries or for a chit-chat.
Amid opposition demand for the presence of Modi through the debate on demonetisation , the Prime Minister reached the Upper House shortly before the Question Hour at 12:00 hours. Questions relating to Prime Minister's Office were listed to be taken up on Thursday.
However, the House was adjourned after about 15 minutes till 12:29pm.
During this adjournment, Modi remained seated in the House and so were most of the members from both treasury as well as opposition benches. Cinestar-turned politician Jaya Bachchan (SP) went to the Prime Minister and was seen exchanging pleasantries. She was followed by AIADMK members and a Left MP.
Renowned boxer and member Mary Kom was also seen discussing certain things with Modi. As members kept meeting him, there were some lighter moments too, as the Prime Minister was seen smiling at times.
Rajya Sabha remains paralysed
As Chairman Hamid Ansari called for the first question of the day at noon, leader of opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said while the Prime Minister has been addressing his party MPs in Parliament House and even speaking outside, the opposition parties have been demanding his presence during the debate on demonetisation issue.
"We had been demanding for last 15 days (presence of PM). ...We are against black money. We want to speak on this issue but with whom? Our anguish is that the Prime Minister is holding weekly meetings with his MPs in Parliament House. He is also speaking outside. Our demand is that the Prime Minister should be here and listen to us," Azad said.
When the senior Congress leader also alleged that the PM has remarked that the opposition parties support black money holders and said it was a "big allegation", BJP members protested the remark.
Law and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and urban development minister M Venkaiah Naidu insisted that the House should continue with the debate on demonetisation, which started on November 16, the first day of the Winter session.
Ansari also said that the debate has not been concluded and called the listed speaker A U Singh Deo (BJD) to start.
Sharad Yadav (JDU) said he too agreed that the debate should continue, but it "cannot be one-way traffic" and demanded that the Prime Minister should remain seated in the House all through the discussion.
"Why are you assuming that he (PM) will not participate," Ansari asked the opposition member.
As Singh Deo rose to put forth his points on demonetisation, Congress members started raising slogans like "Pradhan Mantri Mafi Maango (PM should apologise)" from the aisles.
Naidu said the Prime Minister is here and the unfinished debate should be resumed. However amid din, the House was adjourned for 15 minutes.
When it reassembled at 12.29pm, Congress members were again on their feet raising slogans as BJD member started the debate.
Amid noisy scenes, Deo said, "We support any move taken by the Government of India for corruption and black money."
But as the sloganeering continued, Ansari adjourned the House till 2pm.
However, when the Rajya Sabha resumed proceedings again after 2pm, opposition members kept raising slogans, leading to adjournment of the Upper House for the day.


Delhi High Court quashes government ban on over 300 medicines like Corex, Saridon

NEW DELHI:MMNN:1 Dec. 2016

The Delhi High Court today set aside a government notification that had banned 344 fixed dose combination medicines. The decision has brought major relief to the country's pharmaceutical industry.
The ban, notified on March 10, affected around 6,000 medicine brands, including several popular ones like Corex, Phensedyl, Saridon and Vicks Action 500 Extra. The banned combinations belonged to several therapeutic areas like cough and cold syrups, respiratory formulations and even topical dermatological medicines.
Drug makers immediately challenged the ban at high courts across the country, with Delhi receiving over 450 petitions asking for a stay on the decision. Pfizer was the first to get interim relief from the Delhi court for its cough syrup 'Corex'.
Glenmark, Procter & Gamble, Abbott, Sanofi, Wockhardt, Cipla, Lupin and Dr Reddy's also figure among the hundreds of petitioners that opposed the ban.
Justice RS Endlaw, who heard the cases from March to June, allowed their petitions. According to legal experts, this means the government's notification has been quashed.
The decision may have had a positive impact on pharma stocks--at 11:46am, the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) Healthcare index was up 0.69% over its previous closing.
A fixed dose combination (FDC) is a cocktail drug that contains two or more therapeutic ingredients packed in a single dose.
Over 2,000 FDCs exist in India, according to government sources. Among other reasons, FDCs are desirable here for their effectiveness in treating many symptoms of illness at a lower cost than two or more separate medicines.
The central drug regulator had undertaken an exercise to weed out FDCs that were not approved elsewhere in the world or not required in India due to better existing alternatives. It had argued that it banned these 344 combinations for public health safety reasons after an expert committee headed by Chandrakant Kokate found them to be "irrational".
Companies, on the other hand, argued that their brands had been in the market for decades, with some even producing no objection certificates (NOCs) granted by the central drug regulator for their combinations.
Before this judgment, the government had moved a petition at the Supreme Court to transfer all FDC-related matters being heard in the country so that they could be clubbed and heard afresh. The apex court isexpected to make a decision on whether to accept or reject these petitions this Friday.


Demonetisation: Manmohan Singh's full speech in Rajya Sabha

NEW DELHI: MMNN:24 Nov. 2016

Calling it a ‘monumental mismanagement', former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday said that the demonetisation of high value currency notes has caused great distress to the common man of the country. He remarked that the GDP of the country could shrink by 2 percentage-points due to the way it has been implemented.
Here is the full text of Manmohan Singh's full speech in Rajya Sabha:
I rise to highlight some of the problems that have risen after the decision to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes.
Prime Minister has been arguing that this is the way to curb black money, to prevent growth of forfeiture currency notes and also to help in control of terrorist finance activities. I do not disagree with these objectives. But I do want to point out this that in the process of demonetisation monumental mismanagement has been undertaken about which today there is no two opinions in the country as a whole. Even those who say that this measure will do harm or cause distress in the short term but be in the interests of the country in the long run should be reminded of what John Keynes said once," In the long run all of us are dead."
And therefore, it is important to take note of grievances of the ordinary people who have suffered as a result of this imposition on the country overnight by the Prime Minister.
And I say so with all responsibilities, that we do not know what will be the final outcome.
Prime Minister has said that we should wait for 50 days. Well 50 days is a short period. But for those who are poor and from the deprived sections of the society even 50 days torture can bring about disastrous effects. And that's why about 60 to 65 people have lost their lives, maybe more. And what has been done can weaken and erode our people's confidence in the currency system and in the banking system.
I would like to know from the Prime Minister the name of any country he may think of where people have deposited their money in the banks but they are not allowed to withdraw their money. This alone,I think, is enough to condemn what has been done in the name of greater good of the people of the country.
And Sir, I would further like to point out that in my opinion that the way the scheme has been implemented will hurt agricultural growth in our country, will hurt small industry, will hurt all those people who are in the informal sector of the economy. And my own feeling is that the national income, that is the GDP, can decline by about 2 per cent as a result of what has been done. This is an underestimate, not an overestimate. Therefore, I feel that the Prime Minister must come up with some constructive proposal on how we can implement this scheme and at the same time prevent this distress that has been caused to the common people.
It is no good that everyday the banking system comes with modification of the rules, the conditions under which the people can withdraw money. That reflects very poorly on the Prime Minister's office, on the Finance Minister's office and on the Reserve Bank of India. I am very sorry that the Reserve Bank of India has been exposed to this sort of criticism which I think is fully justified.
I, therefore, would not like to say much more than this. I urge upon the Prime Minister to find practical, pragmatic ways and means to relieve the distress of the people who happen to be a great majority. After all, 90 per cent of our people work in the informal sector, 55 per cent of our workers in agriculture are reeling in distress. The cooperative banking system which serves large number of people in the rural areas is non-functional and has been prevented from handling cash. So, in all these measures convince me that the way this scheme has been implemented is a monumental management failure, and in fact, it is a case of organised loot, legalised plunder of the common people.
With these words, sir, I conclude. It is not my intention to pick holes in what one side does or another side does. But I sincerely hope that the Prime Minister will view that this late hour will help us to find practical, pragmatic ways and means to provide relief to the suffering of the people of this country. Thank you.


Karunanidhi asks DMK cadre to participate in protest against demonetisation

CHENNAI: MMNN:24 Nov. 2016

DMK president M Karunanidhi on Thursday asked the party cadre to participate in a nationwide protest on November 28 against demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes.
"It has been 16 days since Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetisation. Still many people are standing in queues outside ATMs and banks to either withdraw money or to exchange invalid notes," said Karunanidhi in a statement.
He said more than 70 people had died standing in queues outside ATMs and banks. "Opposition parties have called for a nationwide protest on November 28 to condemn demonetisation.
I request party cadre and public to join the protest and raise their voice against the BJP government," Karunanidhi said.
Meanwhile, DMK treasurer and leader of the opposition M K Stalin asked why the AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu had not set up a lokayukta."The Supreme Court has asked the Centre why it has not set up lokayukta. The same question is applicable in the case of Tamil Nadu government too," Stalin said in a statement.