Unable to combat BJP, parties blame me

Rise above vote bank politics, says Nitish

The possibility of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) contesting Assembly polls in Bihar has triggered reactions from parties opposing the BJP. While political parties feel this move could lead to a split in the Muslim vote, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi says such reactions are an admission that these parties are unable to combat BJP politically.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said on Wednesday that parties like the AIMIM should rise above vote bank politics and “decide where they want to take the country.”

Mr. Owaisi’s reaction was swift. “I have not yet decided whether or not to contest the polls in Bihar. The Seemanchal rally I recently attended was fixed a few months in advance, and I was heartened to see the response to our party there. While I still haven’t made up my mind, the JD(U) and others have been expressing their opinion on how I will give the BJP an advantage. These parties blame me for their own shortcomings. A look at the 2014 election results will show you. In Uttar Pradesh, for the first time since Independence, no Muslim MP has been elected. In Bihar too, the BJP swept the polls, I hadn’t contested in these polls, so how come these so-called secular parties lost?” he asked.

“These people are looking to protect certain vote banks as a feudal fiefdom, whereas I’m the one who has everything to lose, like I lost my Masjid [Babri], I lost my people in communal riots, my way of life is being threatened by the BJP and the RSS. To accuse me of aiding the BJP, that too for pecuniary gain, is laughable,” he said. “If that was the case, then why did the BJP win in Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana? Was the AIMIM contesting? In Maharashtra, [where his party won 2 Assembly seats] we got 5 lakh votes for our 24 candidates, the rest of 55 lakh votes polled among the Muslim community are to be accounted for,” he said.

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Senior IPS officer Karnal Singh gets additional charge

Mr. Singh has been given the post of ED Director for a period of three months

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) on Wednesday assigned additional charge of Director, Enforcement Directorate, to 1984-batch IPS officer Karnal Singh.

Mr. Singh, who is currently an ED Special Director, has been given the additional charge of the post of ED Director for a period of three months or until further orders for a regular appointment. Mr. Singh replaces senior IAS officer Rajan S. Katoch, who held the post for almost three years.

After completion of his two-year tenure, Dr. Katoch was given three extensions as ED Director. He was appointed Secretary, Department of Heavy Industry, in January.

This is the first time an IPS officer has been chosen for the key post under the Department of Revenue. The ED is mandated to investigate cases of money laundering and foreign exchange rule violations. The agency has been pursuing several important cases of money laundering and terror funding, which are being monitored by the Special Investigation Team on black money.

Source: TH

#20, #2015, #august

Kashmiri separatists under house arrest

They were scheduled to attend a reception here on Sunday hosted by Pakistan High Commission for its National Security Advisor, Sartaj Aziz.

Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik

Upping the ante for NSA-level talks with Pakistan, the government of India on Thursday placed separatist leaders of Kashmir under house arrest. They were scheduled to attend a reception here on Sunday hosted by Pakistan High Commission for its National Security Advisor, Sartaj Aziz.

The leaders of both hardline and moderate Hurriyat Conference factions were prompt to accept Islamabad’s invitation. A similar invitation was extended by Pakistan in August 2014 when the Foreign Secretary-level talks between the two countries were around the corner. The government of India countered Pakistan’s separatist-friendly gesture by calling off the talks.

The Jammu and Kashmir police cordoned off the residences of moderate separatist Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and his hardline counterpart Syed Ali Shah Geelani, rendering them immobile. The crackdown is so harsh that Yasin Malik, the pro-Independence separatist leader who criticizes the radical demand of Kashmir’s merger with Pakistan, was detained for a few hours. Mr. Malik told The Hindu that he is out of the detention and has called a meeting to decide whether or not to attend Mr. Aziz’s reception in New Delhi.

For Ministry of External Affairs, Pakistan’s attempts to engage with Kashmiri separatists ahead of Indo-Pak engagements means the archrival is trying to exploit the events by turning them into a tri-lateral negotiations, something the government of India has always resisted.

“This is a red line we have drawn,” the Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson had said at the time of calling off the Indo-Pak talks in August 2014.

Source: TH

#20, #2015, #august

‘We toil, but you may not notice’

I reach and begin sweeping and collecting garbage around 6:30 a.m. so that it would be ready by 8:30 a.m., which is when the staff begin reporting for work.

“We begin toiling at dawn every day to make this place look like it does, but you may not notice it”.

With this, Asha Devi turns away momentarily to answer the roll call before picking up a broom and preparing for the next shift.

Like most others on her team of around a dozen cleanliness workers, she wakes up at dawn to make it to Shastri Bhawan on time — two hours before the staff make their way to the sprawling government complex that is a stone’s throw away from the Parliament.

“I reached, began sweeping and collecting garbage around 6:30 a.m. today so that it would be ready by 8:30 a.m., which is when the staff begin reporting for work. This is the drill we have been following everyday since the launch of the (Swachh Bharat) campaign, but most people are neither aware of the change nor do they acknowledge the effort we put in,” she said.

Divided into over a dozen specific circles in terms of jurisdiction, hundreds of workers like Asha attend to the maintenance needs in the complex on a daily basis – in two shifts which require identical, if not equal, zeal.

It may be a slow process, Asha says, but people are gradually adhering to the basics do’s and dont’s of waste disposal.

“Before the campaign was launched, the area used to be a mess by the time office hours got over. But this is changing. We spend almost the entire day keeping the main street clean. We don’t expect people to thank us for it, but the least they can do is try and leave it as they found it when they reach office in the morning,” she said.

Source: TH

#20, #2015, #august

Not so pretty

Many government-owned and administered buildings rely more than they should on portraying cleanliness than actual hygiene.

 Garbage seen opposite Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, in New Delhi on August 19, 2015. Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma

A ‘Swachh-er Bharat’ perhaps; but not quite. At least that is what meets the eye if one takes on the task of conducting a reality check on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s nationwide cleanliness initiative — that too in his government’s own backyard.

With a little over a month to go till its first anniversary, government employees, residents and local maintenance workers claim that things have gradually changed for the better since October 2 last year, which is when the Swachh Bharat initiative was announced by the Prime Minister from the ramparts of the historic Red Fort during his maiden public address after being elected.

A closer look, however, reveals that while that might be true, many government-owned and administered buildings rely more than they should on portraying cleanliness than actual hygiene.

The Hindu visited many such establishments including the Delhi Secretariat under the Aam Aadmi Party-led government to the centrally-administered departments under Union Ministries. The shortcomings were the same — a propensity to hide garbage in plain sight by stashing it away at the nearest parking lot, and an acute shortage of dustbins.

“It’s somewhat like the way Connaught Place was made ready almost overnight before the Commonwealth Games in 2010,” said an NDMC official on condition of anonymity.

“Except for a few, not many government buildings have designated garbage collection points or dustbins. Since we are supposed to ensure that there is no visible garbage on the streets, we move the garbage to a nondescript location,” he added.

At Shastri Bhawan, which had, by far, the seemingly most efficient garbage collection and disposal mechanism system in place, the dustbins were full but not overflowing. This, while a contingent of safai karamcharis was readying for the next shift that was still four hours away. The surrounding area was clean, except for traces of mostly vegetable garbage here and there.

“Sir, this garbage is not from our dhaba,” said an attendant when asked why a mound had collected outside his small establishment on Raisina Road. “Other people just see garbage collected here and leave theirs too. But don’t worry, it will be cleaned very soon. This is a daily affair,” he added.

At Valmiki Sadan, located next to the Mandir Marg police station where the programme was flagged off last year, and is home to an estimated 250 to 300 families that comprise 1,000 to 1,200 people, the main streets are generally clean. This is with the exception of some animal excreta in the area. Local residents, however, say the situation is better than last year.

The main roads catering to both the CGO and the Scope Complex were deceptively clean till, of course, one ventured into the parking lots that were littered with fresh garbage collected from both earlier during the day, and which would only be added to as the day progressed.

The lane between the Hanuman Mandir and Connaught Place police station was dirty to say the least. An unofficial dumping ground has come into existence here with vile smells emanating from it. The immediate vicinity of the police station, however, was spick and span.

The Lodhi Colony police station, which is close to the India Habitat Centre and the India Islamic Centre, and has served as a spot for many Swachh Bharat photo opportunities had similar stashes of garbage stowed near the parking areas.

Source: TH

#20, #2015, #august

MoEF limits eco-sensitive zone around Okhla Bird sanctuary

After consulting members of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) on Tuesday, Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar announced that the eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) around the Okhla Bird Sanctuary in Delhi will be kept within reasonable limits, keeping in mind the requirements of property buyers within the 10 km radius of the sanctuary. A move that is likely to cheer home-buyers in the region, the limiting of the ESZ does not amount to any violation of orders, Mr. Javadekar assured the press.
Union Environment Minister said that all efforts would be taken to protect wildlife habitat— FILE PHOTO

He said that as per the NGT’s instructions a meeting of the NBWL had been convened to consult them on the matter and the unanimous decision was to keep the ESZ within reasonable limits keeping in mind the property developers who had already started constructing housing projects within 10 km radius of the sanctuary and home buyers had also started paying EMIs for the houses purchased here.

Mr, Javadekar added that all efforts would be taken to protect wildlife habitat and bird sanctuaries, and these would be properly maintained and developed. “Nobody wants to kill birds and animals, but the concerns of other people also have to be taken into account while making decisions,” he said.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests will issue a notification on the matter within a week with detailed minutes of Tuesday’s NBWL meeting. CREDAI President Getamber Anand has said in response to the development, “It’s very good news for the 55,000 buyers whose homes were ready but could not occupy it.” The move is expected to give further boost to the real estate market in Noida’s Gautam Buddh Nagar district, where the bird sanctuary is located.

Commenting on the same, DLF Group Executive Director Rajeev Talwar said: “Extremely positive step taken by the government. Little delayed but will provide huge relief to home buyers whose flats were ready more than a year back but were unable to occupy them.”

He said this would also open up huge employment opportunities and economic turnover when the commercial and retail establishments get occupation certificates. “For DLF, it means opening up of the Mall of India, which is being developed in Noida, as soon as possible providing relief to hundreds of shopping and food outlets,” Mr. Talwar said.

Welcoming the decision, CREDAI national vice president Rohit Raj Modi said: “This decision was awaited and much expected by the more than 50,000 families who had invested their hard-earned income for their dream home in Noida. This has come as a big relief for them.”

Source: TH

#20, #2015, #august

Small finance bank licences next month

The RBI had received 72 applications for small finance bank licences and 41 applications for payment bank licences.

RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan.

After granting approval to 11 entities for payments banks, RBI on Wednesday said it will announce small finance bank licences next month and allayed concerns that these new entities would pose any threat to existing banks.

RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan said that new payments banks would not pose any competitive threat to the existing banks and these new entities would rather serve as ‘feeder’ for the universal banks.

The RBI had received 72 applications for small finance bank licences and 41 applications for payment bank licences.

Out of these, RBI yesterday granted ‘in principle’ approval for payments bank to 11 entities, including big names like Reliance Industries, Aditya Birla Nuvo and Tech Mahindra, as also Airtel and Vodafone.

Those having applied for small finance banks include DHFL, IIFL Holdings, Lulu Forex, SKS Microfinance, UAE Exchange and Ujjivan Financial.

Rajan said that RBI would announce small finance bank licences next month.

The small finance banks can provide basic banking services like accepting deposits and lending to the unbanked sections such as small farmers, micro business enterprises, micro and small industries and unorganised sector entities.

The payments banks would be allowed to provide payments and remittance services, but can not issue credit cards or accept deposits beyond Rs. 1 lakh. They can issue ATM and debit cards and also distribute mutual fund and insurance products.

Rajan said introduction of Payments Banks will revolutionise banking, make it very exciting for customers and existing lenders will have to improve service to retain depositors.

“I’ve no doubt banking will become very competitive and universal banks have to provide full service to retain customers,” Rajan said during a chat with SBI Chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya at the conference organised by the country’s largest lender.

TH

#20, #2015, #august

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