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Here are 15 best New Year WhatsApp messages

15. May your expectations in this New Year morning be realised with each and everyday of the year. This is to wish you a good health that will maintain the energy to flip your wing while soaring into greater heights towards your destiny.

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Unfair to drag Sonia Gandhi in DDCA mess: P Chidambaram

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He said the probe by Serious Frauds Investigation Office (SFIO) into the DDCA affairs was referred by the then Sports Minister Ajay Maken on some complaints he had received.

Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Sunday said it was “unfair” to drag Congress president Sonia Gandhi in an alleged attempt to fix Finance Minister Arun Jaitley during the UPA regime and accused the Modi government of acting with “ulterior motives” in the National Herald case.He said the probe by Serious Frauds Investigation Office (SFIO) into the DDCA affairs was referred by the then Sports Minister Ajay Maken on some complaints he had received. “I was told by Mr Ajay Maken that when Maken was the Sports Minister, complaints were received and those complaints were referred to the SFIO. “I have not read the SFIO report. Therefore I cannot comment. Seems a bit unfair to drag the name of Mrs Gandhi. Mr Maken is in the best place to explain who referred the matter to SFIO,” he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Chidambaram was commenting on an interview given by Jaitley to a newspaper in which he had alleged that a BJP MP had met Sonia Gandhi during the UPA tenure “and they said they will fix Jaitley.” Though Jaitley did not name the MP, the newspaper suggested it was Kirti Azad, who has been running a campaign against alleged corruption in the Delhi cricket body DDCA. On the Congress charge of BJP and Modi government practising vendetta politics against the party, he said if Subramanian Swamy’s complaint in the National Herald case was a private one “the government should have said we are completely neutral and we are completely indifferent to what happens to that complaint. BJP leaders and ministers should not have spoken on the matter.” But on the day the Delhi High Court pronounced the judgement, Chidambaram said “virtually every BJP leader jumped with both feet and started commenting freely.” As early as August of 2014, three months after they came to power, senior BJP ministers commented that there is prima facie case in the National Herald complaint. “Why should the BJP minister or BJP leaders comment on a case if it is a purely private complaint?,” he asked.Asked on the criticism about Jaitley’s facebook post on the case which critics said was a direction to the enforcement agencies, Chidambaram said “there is a very strong reason to believe that the government is acting with an ulterior motive.”Without naming Swamy, he said the private compliant wrote to Prime Minister on August 13, 2015 complaining against the then Enforcement Directorate head Rajan Katoch and five days later he “was virtually sacked.” “I am told that letter is in public domain,” he said. Asked who in the government was driving the probe in the National Herald case, he said “I cannot answer that question. I don’t know who is in and who is out. I can speak generally about government.”

Would like to see how far foolish govt will go in harassing Karti, says P Chidambaram

The son of the former finance minister also said that he was informed that investigation was on for three firms.
File Photo
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Karti Chidambaram, the son of former finance minister P Chidambaram, on Wednesday said that neither he nor any of his family members were shareholders or directors of any of the firms raided by the central agencies.”Some officers of the investigating agencies visited my offices today. I made it clear to the investigating officers what I had publicly stated earlier. Neither I nor any member of my family is a share holder or director of any of the said firm. We do not have any economic interest in the said firms,” Karti said.P Chidambaram in a statement said that the Government must target him directly, if they wish to do so. He also said that the government must not ‘harass friends of my son who carry on their own businesses and have nothing to do with politics.’ <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He also said, “Nothing was found in the ‘fishing and roving enquiry’. I would like to see how far a foolish government will go in harassing Karti. I still believe that the departments I left behind have many officers who will act according to law and their conscience.”The son of the former finance minister also said that he was informed that investigation was on for three firms.”Two of the firms belong to my friends. They are owned by professionals and managed by a competent board of directors, I am not aware of the third firm,” he said”I have no doubt that the two firms belonging to my friends will answer any question put to them and clear any allegation made against them,” he added.Karti also pointed out that nothing related to the said firms was found and taken from his office.”As far as I am concerned, I maintain that there was and is no basis for them (investigating agencies), to have visited or to make any enquiries in my office,” he added.A joint team of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Income Tax (IT) department had searched the premises of companies allegedly connected to Karti Chidambaram. Former finance minister P. Chidambaram had earlier told ANI in an interview there was no wrongdoing in the said firms.”I don’t know what they (ED) did. They searched two firms and they leaked out to the media that these firms were linked to my son. I flatly denied it and I was furious. That evening, they put out a statement saying that no politician or any member of his family is a shareholder or a director in these two firms. The matter has ended there,” Chidambram told ANI.

Government’s plans for Parliament’s winter session going awry?

When the session began last week, the government strategy appeared to have revolved around the passage of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Opposition members protesting in Rajya Sabha on Thursday

PTI
The government’s efforts for a smooth winter session appear to be fading as new issues are cropping up to fuel confrontation between the government and opposition.When the session began last week, the government strategy appeared to have revolved around the passage of the Goods and Services Tax (GST). A week later, the mood has changed to a bitter government-opposition face off, with sparring in Rajya Sabha, the BJP listing out corruption cases against Congress leaders and GST’s fate hinging on the main opposition party, which seems to be divided on it.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>That the Congress would be unrelenting in its approach towards government was apparent from Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s speech in Lok Sabha on intolerance. On Thursday morning, at a meeting convened by him, party leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge was criticised by his colleagues who were of the view that the government was let off too easily in the intolerance debate. The issue is likely to come up in Rajya Sabha next week when it takes up CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury’s notice for a house resolution.Gandhi and other younger Congress leaders are understood to be taking a less conciliatory stand on GST than the older generation which includes former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Some Congress leaders are of the view that having brought its demands for amendments from a dozen to three, it should not make further compromises on these.Meanwhile, relations have soured inside the Rajya Sabha. Soon after the government-Congress confrontation in the House over Kumari Selja’s remarks on discrimination in a Dwarka temple, BJP fielded commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman to tear into the Congress. At a press conference, Sitharaman listed out corruption charges against Congress leaders and chief ministers bringing into its line of fire senior members right from Preneet Kaur to former finance minister P Chidambaram, over the ED raids in firms linked to his son Karti Chidambaram.However, to questions about the passage of GST bill, she said she hoped that the attack on the party would not effect the Congress stand on the bill. “GST is something which is their (Congress) bill. It is in national interest. If these are becoming an issue because of which Congress party, and I would not imagine that, would not support GST, then it would be a sad day,” she said, expressing hope that it would deal with the allegations with “maturity”.Sitharaman also raised the charges against Congress chief ministers of Kerala, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand– Oommen Chandy, Virbhadra Singha and Harish Rawat– demanding that the party take action against them.The tit-for-tat politics brings back memories of the last session, which was a washout. However, Sitharaman said the attack on Congress should not be linked to business in the House.”I would expect business to run and constructive engagement. I hope its not being suggested that whenever BJP picked up the omissions of Congress, it is tied up with Parliament’s functioning,”she said.To add to the acrimony between the government and opposition, BSP objected to union minister VK Singh’s presence in Rajya Sabha over his alleged remarks about the death of two dalit children.

BJP attacks Congress over corruption, targets Chidambaram

Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also raised the issue of alleged corruption charges against chief ministers of Kerala, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand at a press conference and demanded that Congress take action against these leaders.

Nirmala Sitharaman

With Rajya Sabha again witnessing disruptions, BJP on Thursday tore into Congress over the alleged involvement of its leaders in corruption cases and sought to link former Finance Minister P Chidambram’s actions to his son’s “interest” in some companies run by his friends.Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also raised the issue of alleged corruption charges against chief ministers of Kerala, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand at a press conference and demanded that Congress take action against these leaders. Citing a recent notification by the Swiss government, she said it had “reinforced” the charge that Preneet Kaur, a minister in the UPA government, had an undisclosed bank account in Switzerland. Kaur is Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh’s wife.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP’s strong attack indicated that there was still no thaw in the frosty relations between the two parties, hopes of which were raised after Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently met Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and sought their cooperation for the passage of GST bill.Sitharaman, however, said she would not “imagine” that the attack on Congress would have a bearing on its stand on the GST bill. “GST is something which is their (Congress) bill. It is in national interest. If these are becoming an issue because of which Congress party, and I would not imagine that, would not support GST, then it would be a sad day,” she said, expressing hope that it would deal with the allegations with “maturity”.Alleging that Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram was linked to firms accused in the 2G scam cases, she said the recent raids by Income Tax and Enforcement Directorate authorities on certain firms allegedly connected to him were “part of larger 2G enquiry”. Chidambaram as the finance minister “allowed” certain money transactions to happen because his son had an “interest” in these firms, she alleged. Sitharaman, the Commerce and Industry Minister, cited a number of purported transactions, including one of Rs 40 crore in cash, between firms connected to the 2G scam, as she accused Chidambaram of “allowing” them to happen because his son had an “interest” in some of the companies.On Chidambaram describing the IT and ED searches as a “malicious onslaught” by the government, Sitharaman said what the agencies were doing was on the basis of “prima facie” evidence they had got.Raking up the alleged corruption cases involving Congress leaders, she said, “Congress is behaving as if they have not heard even a whisper. It is not one but several instances of corruption where Congress is happily looking the other way. We hope it engages in matters of public importance.” Taking a jibe at the opposition party, she wondered “how hollow its words could be” when it questions the government in Parliament over black money cases.”There is a pretence that nothing has happened,” she said, referring to the allegation of a solar scam accused in Kerala that he had paid Rs 5.1 crore bribe to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy. She also attacked Congress over “lack of action” in corruption charges against Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand chief ministers Virbhadra Singh and Harish Rawat respectively.”I wonder if Congress has any mechanism to check corruption within the party. These are serious allegations involving institutions, constitutional posts… We demand action from Congress. It should answer to these allegations,” she said.Sitharaman said Kaur had been denying that she ever had an account in a Swiss bank but a recent notification issued by the tax authorities there, asking her and her son Raninder Singh to “exercise their right to be heard” reinforce the allegation. “The so called allegation is getting reinforced not by a leaked document but by a Swiss government notification. Is Congress party seized of it?” she asked.

Chidambaram latest party leader to be targeted by Modi government, alleges Congress

The CBDT has, however, virtually dismissed Chidambaram’s charges of vendetta in the searches and said it was based on “credible information of tax evasion” and “financial irregularities”.

P Chidambaram

Congress on Wednesday said former Finance Minister P Chidambaram was the latest party leader to be targeted by the Modi government in its “politics of vendetta”.The party said the IT and ED raids on some premises of two groups based in Chennai and Tiruchirappali of associates of Chidambaram’s son Karti was “politics of vendetta”. Chidambaram had yesterday called the searches a “malicious onslaught”. “We have seen certain approach of this government in respect of Shankersinh Vaghela of Gujarat, Virbhadra Singh of Himachal Pradesh, Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot in Rajasthan… There is no hesitation (in saying) the tendency, the philosophy show politics of vendetta,” Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi told reporters. He suggested that when things happen in such a way for party leaders one after another, “there will be a natural tendency to believe” that there is such politics.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Chidambaram has given a detailed and a written statement. There is no question of second-guessing it. We support it, we stand by it. When it is pointless to try and mix-up his and his family’s name, when the CBDT’s own clarification is that neither of those two were addressed,” Singhvi said. Chidambaram has said no one from his family has “any equity or economic interest in any of the firms that are being targeted”.The CBDT has, however, virtually dismissed Chidambaram’s charges of vendetta in the searches and said it was based on “credible information of tax evasion” and “financial irregularities”.

NCP questions ‘witch-hunt’ at firms linked to Chidambaram’s son

Memon said, the moment one steps out of power, they are crowded with all kinds of investigation and enquiry which sends a very ‘wrong’ message.

Karti Chidambaram
File Photo

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Wednesday backed former finance minister P. Chidambaram, a day after he accused the government of a ‘malicious onslaught’ against his family, saying he has reasons to believe why this ‘witch-hunt’ is on.”Well, Mr Chidambram seems to have reasons to believe that since he has been out of office, all these kinds of witch-hunts are happening. People in this country don’t have total faith in the credibility and honesty of our investigative agency,” commented NCP leader Majeed Memon.”We have seen in the past, the Supreme Court has also called the CBI as a caged parrot,” he added.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Also read: Aircel-Maxis raid: Prepared to face “malicious onslaught” from govt, says P ChidambaramMemon further said, the moment one steps out of power, they are crowded with all kinds of investigation and enquiry which sends a very ‘wrong’ message.”People believe that those in power are exempted from any legal action, which is a very bad sting for a society governed by rule of law,” he added.Chidambaram, on Tuesday, had dubbed the raids conducted on two firms in Chennai, one of which had links to his son Karti, as a ‘malicious onslaught’ launched by the BJP-led NDA Government.”I am travelling and I have been informed about searches conducted on certain firms in Çhennai allegedly linked to my son. If the government wishes to target me, they should do so directly, not harass friends of my son who carry on their own businesses and have nothing to do with politics,” Chidambaram said in a statement.The Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax Department had earlier conducted raids in Chennai on firms allegedly owned by Karti.Related read: Income-Tax, Enforcement Directorate raid on Karti Chidambaram’s firms

Satanic Verses row: Chidambaram has proved Congress is an intolerant party, claims Kiren Rijiju

Chidambaram, who was a Minister of State for Home under the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi when the ban was imposed in October 1988, said speaking at a litfest.

Kiren Rijiju

Amidst the ongoing debate over alleged intolerance, Union Minister Kiren Rijiju on Monday said former Finance Minister P Chidambaram’s statement that banning Salman Rushdie’s book ‘The Satanic Verses’ was a mistake has punctured the Congress stand on the controversial issue.”The atmosphere of intolerance created by Congress was punctured by Chidambaram even before the discussion,” he told reporters as Lok Sabha took up the issue for debate. Rijiju, Union Minister of State for Home, said it has now proved that Congress has made a mistake by levelling the allegations that there was an atmosphere of “intolerance”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Congress itself is an intolerant party. Chidambaram has proved this,” he said. Twenty-seven years after the then Rajiv Gandhi government banned Rushdie’s controversial novel, Chidambaram had said on Saturday that it was “wrong.””I have no hesitation in saying that the ban on Salman Rushdie’s book was wrong,” Chidambaram, who was a Minister of State for Home under the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi when the ban was imposed in October 1988, said speaking at a litfest in New Delhi.

A faint rainbow emerges: Politicians and political parties express support for LGBTQI rights, push to repeal Sec 377

In times when we are vehemently discussing ‘intolerance’ in the country, the LGBTQI rights have oft been given the raw end of the deal in debates and discussion. But the movement in the country got a fresh and positive push in the right direction. Union Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, speaking at the Times LitFest on 28 November said that the Supreme Court’s ruling on criminalising homosexual relations need to be reconsidered as such laws “were not in sync with the jurisprudential development on gay rights world over,” reported The Times of India.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. ReutersFinance Minister Arun Jaitley. Reuters

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Reuters

The paper quoted him saying, “The court was not dealing with any personal law and was on the issue of order of nature and the Delhi high court has held that it was not an offence. The SC took a very conservative approach on the issue and the judgment needs to be reconsidered.”

While he made statements in his ‘personal capacity’, political parties like Aad Aadmi Party and the Left vociferously supported the rights of the LGBTQI community and said that they were in support of repealing the Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which criminalises homosexual relations. P Chidambaram also said that the Delhi High Court verdict decriminalising gay sex was “wonderful” and that the Supreme Court should have upheld it, according to The Times of India.

Jaitley’s remarkable statements ring true, India with its negative outlook on homosexuality, where it is marked as a ‘criminal offence’ places the country in the group along with countries like Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Iran and Yemen. According to The Independent, these countries invoke the death penalty for homosexuals.

In 2012, the government submitted data to the apex court putting the number of homosexuals in India at 25 lakh, of these, 7 percent were HIV positive, according to The Hindu. The government also submitted that criminalising homosexuality could lead to fewer men and women coming out and seeking medical help in terms of HIV.

In response to Jaitley’s progressive remarks, Subramanian Swamy took to Twitter and said:

Twitterati’s did not take his statements well and egged him on,

Subramanian Swamy and his statements aside, the LGBTQI rights movement appeals to the very basic tenets of our Constitution that guarantees fundamental rights to all citizens of the country. However, as far as the right to belong to any sexual orientation and freely practice said affiliations are crushed by the weight of morality that is subscribed a section of people in the country. And this very subscription being prescribed to the rest of the country is problematic and goes against the very grain of our Constitution.

It is heartening to see politicians who usually are at loggerheads with each other about ideologies and philosophies, are rising to the occassion to stand in favour of what can only be described as a draconian and irrelevant law in these times. Shouldn’t laws understand the needs of the people it seeks to protect?

In the US, gay marriage was only recently legalised, perhaps we can aspire towards that goal by decriminalising a person’s sense of identity — his/her sexual orientation. Our laws need to further themselves from the heteronormativity that has been prevailing since the times they were formulated in.

BJP asks Congress to be tolerant after Chidambaram’s remark on Satanic Verse ban

P Chidambaram

Congress leader P Chidambaram’s admission that the Rajiv Gandhi government’s decision to ban Salman Rushdie’s novel ‘Satanic Verses’ was wrong on Sunday found support from independent voices, while BJP wondered why it took him 27 years to say so and advised the opposition party to be a “little tolerant”.”The question arises that after close to nearly three decades why was there a need to do so (to admit the mistake). If it is reflective of Congress’ thinking, then one needs to see it in a larger perspective and everyone, which includes Congress particularly, needs to be a little tolerant,” BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He, however, said caution needed to be exercised by all as “Constitution puts reasonable restrictions on the freedom of expression”. Noted author Amitav Ghosh said he was glad that Chidambaram, who was Minister of State for Home in the Rajiv Gandhi government when it had banned Rushdie’s book in October 1988, accepted that it was a wrong decision.Lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan said he agreed with Chidambaram entirely. “These kinds of books are literary pieces and in my view there is no occasion to ban such book,” he said. Congress leader Manish Tewari said the former Union minister was absolutely correct and that time had come for the country to move beyond proscribing books and other creative material. “We need to create tolerant ethos in this country,” he said.”I have no hesitation in saying that the ban on Salman Rushdie’s book was wrong,” Chidambaram had said on Saturday, speaking at a list-fest. He had also said the Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi was also wrong and that the late prime minister had herself admitted as much.

Congress reopens Lalit Modi case; to move privilege against Jaitley & Swaraj for misleading Parliament

Party chief spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewalawaraj alleged that the government had deliberately started extradition proceedings against Lalit Modi instead of seeking his deportation

The Congress once again reopened ‘fugitive’ cricket manager Lalit Modi’s case accusing the government of ‘bundles of lies’, indicating that it will move privilege motion against external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and finance minister Arun Jaitley for misleading both Houses of Parliament.The party chief spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala countered the government argument that no criminal case was registered against Lalit Modi to seek his deportation. He cited a money laundering case registered way back in 2012 to counter the claim perpetuated by both Swaraj and Jaitley in Parliament.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The party also released letters of P Chidambaram, he had written to his UK counterpart George Osborne in 2013. The government had refused to release these letters. Osborne letter confirms that his government had discussed the issue with the Indian High Commission in London, belying Swaraj claim that Chidambram had not kept the external affairs ministry in loop, while exchanging letters with his British counterpart. Chidambaram in his letter on August 21, 2013 had also clarified that India was not seeking the extradition of Modi, but deportation.Surjiwala further alleged that the government had deliberately started extradition proceedings against Lalit Modi instead of seeking his deportation. He said the government is rather helping Lalit Modi to escape the clutches of the Indian law and live a life of ultimate luxury. He flayed both Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj as both have been the lawyers and know very well that they are making a false alibi that Lalit Modi’s deportation is not possible.”By helping Lalit Modi get British travel documents on 01.08.2014 pursuant to request by Sushma Swaraj in July 2014, the Modi government ensured that no case for deportation survives against him,” Surjewala said, noting that the previous UPA government was pursuing his deportation which is a quick expeditious process as against extradition.He said both Jaitley and Swaraj know that the extradition process is lengthy enough to take 8-10 years by which time the public memory will fade away from the Modigate scandal and that is why the government refused to place in public documents various communications exchanged between then finance minister P Chidambaram and the UK government for Modi’s immediate deportation instead of extradition.Surjewala also challenged Jaitley’s false claim in Parliament that Lalit Modi can not be deported from UK since it requires a criminal case against him which did not exist. He cited the UK’s Immigration and Asylum Act, 1999, and its replacement by Immigration Act, 2014 to assert that there is no requirement for a pending criminal proceedings in the home country for an illegal immigrant to be deported from the UK.He said the UK has a law and policy to remove illegal immigrants not having valid travel documents and Chidambaram had specifically cited in one of his communications to the UK government about 2784 cases where “emergency certificates” were issued by the Indian High Commission in London in five years up to 2013 to facilitate deportation by the UK authorities. He alleged that deportation case against Lalit Modi was annulled when external affairs minister helped him to get travel documents.

Rajkot’s SCA stadium becomes eco-friendly with solar power installation

In terms of saving of carbon emission, it translates to a saving of about 50 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.

The stadium has utilised the space for helping to protect the environment (Representational Image)

Getty Images
The three-year-old Saurashtra Cricket Association’s Khanderi Stadium on Sunday became the second stadium in the country, after Chennai’s M A Chidambaram Stadium, to become a solar-powered venue, SCA announced here. SCA Stadium, situated 15 kms from the city on the road to Jamnagar, has installed 50 KWP solar rooftop system which was inaugurated before the commencement of the third ODI today between India and South Africa, a media release said. SCA has also plans to put up additional capacity in the near future to pioneer green power generation.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The plant of installed now is designed to generate 6833 units per month which makes it 82,000 units annually of solar power, and will be used for captive consumption purpose and monthly saving of electricity bill of around Rs 54,600, SCA said. In terms of saving of carbon emission, it translates to a saving of about 50 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.German based Solar Company PV Line Pvt Ltd has designed, engineered, supplied and executed the project and the stadium is now eco-friendly. The stadium has utilised the space for helping to protect the environment, the release added.The ODI today is the third international game played at this new venue here following the inaugural 50-over international and the T20 game against England and Australia respectively, both held in 2013.Matches, earlier, used to be held at the multi-purpose Madhavrao Scindia ground, or the race course ground, within the city.

Report on ‘investments’ by me and Karti in private healthcare firm false: P Chidambaram

Senior Congress leader and former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Sunday said the entire report concerning him and his son Karti holding investments in a private healthcare company was “false”, “malicious” and “a political campaign against members of the UPA”.

P Chidambaram

Getty Images
Senior Congress leader and former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Sunday said the entire report concerning him and his son Karti holding investments in a private healthcare company was “false”, “malicious” and “a political campaign against members of the UPA”.”Let me say clearly that the entire report is false, malicious and part of a political campaign against members of the UPA government or individuals belonging to the Congress party”, he said in a statement referring to media reports.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Neither I, my son nor any member of my family have any equity or investment or economic interest in the company concerned.”I have no knowledge of events concerning the Income Tax department or its officers said to have taken place in June 2015 and subsequently. The UPA government demitted office in May 2014″, he said.Pointing out that the company has globally “renowned investors” who have invested in it and an eminent Board of Directors, he said, “I am sure they will defend the company against the malicious allegations”.”I would like to say through this statement that the media must be responsible and truthful. Carrying false and malicious reports without independent verification will certainly attract the provisions of law and I shall not hesitate to place the matter in the hands of my lawyers to take appropriate action under law”, he added.

Money laundering: Enforcement Directorate are after Congress’ gen-next

Karthi Chidambaram, Sachin Pilot, Ravi Krishnan investigated along with former CM Ashok Gehlot

Karthi Chidambaram and Sachin Pilot

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday registered a criminal complaint in the Rajasthan Ambulance scam case and booked former chief minister Ashok Gehlot, Sachin Pilot (Rajasthan Congress president) and sons of two former Union ministers on money laundering charges. The agency took cognisance of the CBI FIR in this regard to register its case under the Prevention of money laundering Act (PMLA) and named Karthi Chidamabaram and Ravi Krishna, sons of senior Congress leaders P Chidambaram and Vayalar Ravi respectively.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former national rural health mission (NRHM) director will also be investigated in the case.ED will investigate these high-profile names for irregularities in awarding contract of Ambulance service to Ziqitza Healthcare by Rajasthan government in 2010.In 2009, Ziqitza Healthcare, a company run by Ravi Krishna and Karthi Chidambaram, got a contract to operate 108 ambulances across Rajasthan. An audit report of health department of Rajasthan found huge amount of money fudged in this contract. Ziqitza Healthcare has fudged the bills and alleged financial irregularities to the tune of Rs.2.56 crore.Ziqitza operated GPS-fitted ambulance services in Rajasthan between 2010- and 2013. Ziqitza’s contract was cancelled in 2013.The ED suspects that the kickbacks paid in this scam were laundered by some people and used to acquire tainted assets.

CBI takes over probe against former Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot, Sachin Pilot in ambulance scam

The CBI has taken over the ambulance scam probe against former Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot, Sachin Pilot and other members of the Congress party.

Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot

The CBI has taken over the ambulance scam probe against former Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot, Sachin Pilot and other members of the Congress party.The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had last year said that Congress Party leaders should be willing to undergo a CBI probe for their alleged involvement in an ambulance scam.Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje had earlier asked for an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on the ambulance scam in which her predecessor, Ashok Gehlot and other Congress leaders face allegations.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rajasthan Health Minister Rajendra Rathore said the Congress was finally facing a kind of probe it had frequented on other parties, when in power.”This is in the nature of the Congress. They had framed a lot of people in fake encounters and would involve the CBI and make a lot of noise about it. They should not have a problem if any institution or the CBI is involved in investigation, rather they should welcome it,” he said.Other leaders who have been named in the scam include Sachin Pilot, Ravi Krishna, son of former Cabinet minister, Vayalar Ravi and former finance minister, P Chidambaram’s son, Karti Chidambaram, among others.The scam dates back to 2009 when Krishna’s company, Ziqita Health Care Limited got the tender to run the 108 ambulance service, which was a part of the union government’s National Rural Health Mission and a public-private partnership.The BJP in 2012 had alleged that Krishna’s company was being paid money for ambulances which were on record only on paper. An audit report followed and financial irregularities were found but no action was taken. Pilot and Karti Chidambaram had been directors in Ziqita, which further complicated matters.

Modi govt’s policy on Pakistan swings like a ‘wild pendulum’: Congress

Asked about the proposed Indo-Pak talks, Chidambaram said that the policy of Congress party was very clear.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
As the first-ever talks between NSA of India and Pakistan set to be held on August 23 here, Congress today said the Narendra Modi dispensation has no policy on Pakistan and its “so-called stand” swings like a “wild pendulum”.”The policy of Modi’s Government and Modi particularly has swung from one extreme to another – from ’56-inch chest’ and ‘Biryani diplomacy’ to mangoes. Where is the policy? The so-called stand of Modi Government swings like a pendulum. It is not even a pendulum which swings within certain limits. It is a wild pendulum. There is no policy,” former union Minister P Chidambaram told reporters.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Asked about the proposed Indo-Pak talks, Chidambaram said that the policy of Congress party was very clear.”We support the idea of talks, but talks must be held under conditions in which we can be sure that there will be an outcome from the talks,” he said.National Security Advisors (NSA) of India and Pakistan will hold talks on terrorism-related issues for the first time on August 23 in New Delhi, which Islamabad sees as an “ice-breaking” step though not a breakthrough. The decision to hold NSA-level talks was taken at a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif last month at Ufa in Russia. The two sides agreed on a “meeting in New Delhi between the two NSAs to discuss all issues connected to terrorism”, a statement had said after their interaction.

You gave Lalit Modi right of residency in the UK, Government tells Congress

After days of disruptions, Lok Sabha on Wednesday debated the role of external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje in the LalitGate on an adjournment motion by the government. The motion was later defeated by a voice vote. Swaraj delivered a strident attack on Congress, which felt letdown with some of the regional parties – the TMC, AIADMK and TRS – turning their back on the main opposition party, accusing it of creating logjam. Swaraj said the Congress’ top two — Sonia and son Rahul – can ill afford to accuse anyone else of abetting or shielding corruption. “Since you like holidaying so much, next time you take a break, I suggest you read up on your family history, read all the kale karname (wrong deeds) and ask, ‘momma, how much money did we make in the Quattrocchi case, why did we let (1984 Bhopal gas tragedy accused) Warren Anderson go?” she said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Lalit Modi a fugitive?Defending her act of getting Modi the British travel papers, Sushma said no court had declared him an absconder and as such she cannot be accused of helping a fugitive. She said Chidambaram was having a personal enmity to carry on campaign against Modi with the British authorities without keeping the foreign ministry in loop. She said Chidambaram’s acts were not appreciated in the UPA government and that was why it did not bring back Modi to India even in four years. “You gave him the right to residency in UK,” she said.Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said since it relates to the investigating agency (ED) under his ministry, he may clarify that “it is only last week that a non-bailable warrant has been issued against him” and “prior to that, there were investigations pending by the ED.”Sonia rushes into Well of HouseAn agitated Congress president Sonia Gandhi entered the Well of the Lok Sabha after BJP member Dushyant Singh shouted “Rahul ki mausi ke paas kitna black money hai?” (How much black money has Rahul Gandhi’s aunt got?) The Congress president was heard saying, “kya bola (what did he say)?” While protesting, she addressed Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and said, “What is this?”RS fails to take up GST Bill on penultimate dayThe upper House of Parliament again faced a logjam by Congress on the penultimate day of monsoon session making it almost impossible for the government to clear Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill. Congress forced two adjournments in Rajya Sabha in the pre-lunch session as it took strong exception to some business houses asking Parliament to function. Outside, Pawar hosts non-BJP, non-Congress leaders Non-Congress and non-NDA regional parties met at Pawar’s residence to form a common political strategy and discussed a range of issues including crucial Bihar polls scheduled to be held later this year. The meeting was attended by Mulayam, Mamata, Sharad Yadav and Farooq Abdullah.

Lalit Modi dares CBI to issue red corner notice, claims BJP, Congress together targeting him

Ex-IPL commissioner and fugitive Lalit Modi on Wednesday dared the CBI to issue a red corner notice against him.

Ex-IPL commissioner and fugitive Lalit Modi on Wednesday dared the CBI to issue a red corner notice against him.In an interview with Rajdeep Sardesai, Modi claimed that Interpol had informed him there was no red corner notice against him, and that he would be allowed to represent his case. Modi denied he had ever received summons from an Indian court and inferred that there were no charges against him. He claimed that he had ignored a court notice only when asked to appear with a passport.Slamming Rahul and Sonia Gandhi, Modi smelt a conspiracy in the Parliament logjam. “For last 15 days Parliament has been stalled due to a non-issue, this is politically motivated. Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi should worry about Robert Vadra, 2G and other scams, and not about me,” he stated. Modi also claimed he had never met Rahul Gandhi, only other members of the Gandhi family. But interestingly, he claimed he had ‘powerful friends’ in the previous government.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Claiming a threat to life, the ex-IPL commissioner refused to return to India. Throwing out names, he said Arun Jaitley, Rajiv Shukla, Anurag Thakur and Jagmohan Dalmiya were a very powerful coterie. He called the cricket establishment in India a ‘mafia’, which is a hotbed of politics. Modi attacked BCCI, labeling all its committees a ‘sham’. He asserted that all BCCI committees had been formed to target him.Passing the buck, Modi said his family had taken RBI’s permission to buy shares in the company owned by Vasundhara Raje’s son Dushyant. He said his family ‘have a long association with the Scindia family’ and this cannot be termed a business relationship. “But if helping an ailing woman (his cancer-sticken wife) is conflict of interest, so be it”, he said angrily.Lalit Modi went on to accuse former UPA minister P Chidambaram of ‘asking for favours regarding the Chennai Open tennis championship.”Modi again reiterated that NCP chief Sharad Pawar ‘was on my side’ and once again dared the CBI to issue a red corner notice.The ex-IPL commissioner added that his lawyers would challenge any red corner. He said that certain leaders in BJP and Congress were ‘united by cricket’ and gunning for him.

Human remains recovered from Dornier that of 3 crew members, confirms lab report

“The remains belong to Commandant Subhash Suresh, Deputy Commandant Vidyasagar and Deputy Commandant D Sai M K Soni.

The Coast Guard on Saturday said that the human remains recovered from the Dornier aircraft salvaged last month were that of the three crew members.The CG said the human remains had been handed over to Tamil Nadu Forensic Laboratory for a DNA test and blood samples of the kin of the three deceased personnel were obtained matching the identity.The lab has confirmed that the recovered remains belong to the crew members, it added.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The remains belong to Commandant Subhash Suresh, Deputy Commandant Vidyasagar and Deputy Commandant D Sai M K Soni.The bereaved family members have been intimated about the confirmation of the DNA test,” it said in a release.Under Operation ‘Talash’, the Coast Guard along with several national and state agencies, had undertaken massive search operations for the Dornier aircraft which went missing while it was on a routine surveillance flight on June 8 off Chidambaram.After a month long search, the Coast Guard recovered the wreckage along with some human remains in July. The search operation was officially called off last month.

Aircel-Maxis deal: P Chidambaram twisted FIPB norms

An audit report of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has put former Finance Minister P Chidambaram in a spot, as it alleges that he violated rules of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) by clearing Aircel-Maxis deal involving Rs 3,514.45 crore. And the Department of Telecom (DoT) completely ignored the fact that Malaysia-based Maxis Group has as much as 99.3 percent stakes in Aircel, while the Indian government rules allow a foreign company to have only 74 percent stake in a telecom company.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>FIPB rules clearly state that the Finance Minister can only approve proposal worth Rs 600 crore and it is mandatory that he refers all proposals above Rs 600 crore to the Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs (CCEA). But Chidambaram passed it without referring it to CCEA.Final CAG audit report, exclusively accessed by dna, says: “MoF (Ministry of Finance) letter dated 20 March 2006 conveying the approval of FIPB for foreign investment in Aircel Ltd was silent on the quantum of foreign investment of Maxis group of Malaysia approved investment in Aircel Ltd.’’According to CAG audit report, the MoF was in the know way back on January 25, 2006 (through an application of Maxis Group to FIPB) that there would be total foreign exchange inflow of $800 million, approximately Rs 3,500 crore. “MoF did not recommend the proposal to the CCEA for approval as per the extant rules. There was nothing on record to indicate as to why the proposal was not sent to the CCEA for approval,’’ says CAG audit report.CAG report further argued that FIPB had recommended all proposals above Rs 600 crore to CCEA, if one goes by 74 of its meetings held during 2007-2014. “Hence, MoF had the powers to approve the foreign investments only up to Rs 600 crore whereas Maxis/GCSH (Global Communication Service Holding Ltd, 100 percent Mauritius-based subsidiary of Maxis) invested Rs 3,514.45 crore in the Aircel Ltd on 21 March 2006 based on the MoF letter 20 March 2006,’’ says CAG report.Above all, CAG audit report alleges that DoT did not do necessary due diligence while processing the telecom licences for the Aircel Group. Maxis Group itself declared in their filing for Quarter ended March 2006 before the Malaysian Stock Exchange that they had defacto 99.3 percent stakes in Aircel Ltd and “this effectively gives the Group (Maxis) 99.3% economic returns from the investment in Aircel,’’ says the CAG report.Thus, CAG alleges that DoT failed to scrutinise and thus violated FDI rules for Unified Access Service License. DoT also did not seek to find if the Ministry of Finance has taken necessary CCEA’s approval for the Aircel project where a foreign company had invested more than Rs 3,000 crore, CAG report says.dna has learnt that CAG has also sent its findings to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to further investigate the role of finance and telecom ministers and DoT officials.The DoT official record shows that Maxis Group had entered Indian business through Mauritius route by 100 percent owning a GCSH.The Finance ministry has given permission to Aircel, where GCSH was allowed to increase its direct equity from 26 percent to 65 percent and indirect holding of 8.999 percent through Deccan Digital Network Ventures. Besides, the Finance Ministry also allowed GCSH to set up an investment holding joint venture and wholly owned company, South Asia Communications Pvt Ltd.GCSH procured 39 percent equity of Aircel for $422 million or Rs 1868.19 crore and raised the FDI in Aircel to 65 percent and remaining 35 percent equity owned by Indian JV Deccan for $378 million or Rs 1,673.41 crore and that too on the same day. Interestingly, Deccan was formed as JV between Maxis’ subsidiary GCSH and Indian company Sindiya Securities and Investment Ltd with ratio of 25.7 (foreign): 74.3 (Indian).Deccan paid Rs 1,673.41 crore to procure 35 percent equity of Aircel on March 21, 2006. This was possible because in addition to paid up equity of Rs 46 crore, Deccan also got preference share equity of Rs 1,634 crore from India company South Asia Communication Pvt Ltd (SACPL), which is also 100 percent subsidiary of GCSH. It means GCSH actual investment in Deccan was (11.8+1634.46) Rs 1646.26 crore. Indian partner Sindiya Investment was only Rs 34.2 crore. It’s clear that foreign holding ratio in Deccan was 97.97:2.03.Therefore, the total investment of GCSH turned out to be Rs 3,514.45 crore as on March 21, 2006. It is clear if we consider earlier investment of GCSH in Aircel worth Rs 1,261 crore in January 2006, the effective investment of GCSH or Maxis becomes 99.30 percent. Sindiya as an Indian partner had only 0.7 percent holding. This holding and number was not mentioned in the Finance ministry approval.When asked, Chidambaram told dna: “Please talk to FIPB officials. These were clarified by Mr Mukherji in Parliament. There was no additional foreign investment in the company. Only the promoter changed. Mr Ashok Chawla was Additional Secretary and Mr Ashok Jha was Secretary, DEA.’’Earlier, the issue was raised in the Rajya Sabha in May 2012, and Chidambaram had admitted that he presided over the clearance by FIPB and the discrepancies in the valuation of shares need to be addressed under purview of law.He had then said, “The law can be set in motion on these two things. Parliament was assured that the then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee would address these violation of rule in the course of his reply. However, the clarification never came in Parliament.Former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran is already under the scanner of the probe agencies as he was accused of misusing his office to engineer the sale of telecom Aircel to Malaysia’s Maxis Group.

India is 100% Hindu nation, no need for community to spread terror: Shiv Sena

Attributing terrorism to Hindus worked against Congress as the community ensured the party’s decimation in the Lok Sabha elections, it said

Adopting an aggressive tone over the debate on ‘Hindu terrorism’, the Shiv Sena on Monday said India is “one hundred per cent a Hindu nation” and the community has no reason to spread terror in its own country.The statement comes days after Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh accused Congress of weakening the fight against terror by coining the term ‘Hindu terrorism’. “Giving terror a saffron colour and playing politics over it was a cunning and selfish move. Terming Hindus as terrorists and putting a veil over green terror sponsored by Pakistan is being dishonest towards your own country,” an editorial in Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ said on Monday.”India basically belongs to the Hindus and one hundred per cent it is a Hindu nation. Hindus have no reason to spread terror in their own country,” it said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Attributing terrorism to Hindus worked against Congress as the community ensured the party’s decimation in the Lok Sabha elections, it said. The Sena further asked whether terror activities in Jammu and Kashmir could be attributed to Hindu organisations. It also sought to know if the acts of Afzal Guru and Ajmal Kasab will be called as “Hindu terror”. “Were Ajmal Kasab and Afzal Guru sponsored by Hindu organisations? Did Pakistan make a certain ‘Kashinath’ into Kasab and send him to India to spread terror?” the Sena asked.The “rumours” spread by Congress have given strength to Pakistan’s conspiracies and “have filled the chests of ISI and LeT with pride”, the party alleged. The Union Home Minister, after making a statement in the Lok Sabha on Gurdaspur attack last week, had said the previous UPA government had coined the term ‘Hindu terrorism’ to change the course of probe into the incidents of terrorism.”In this House in 2013, the then Home Minister (P Chidambaram) had coined the new terminology ‘Hindu terrorism’ in order to change the course of probe. Because of this, we have not been able to fight terrorism as strongly as we should be. “As a consequence of coining the new term of ‘Hindu terrorism’, Hafiz Sayeed (LeT founder) of Pakistan had congratulated the then Home Minister. Our government will never allow such a shameful situation again,” Singh had said.

Chidambaram accuses Rajnath Singh of distorting ‘Hindu terror’ remarks

Former Home Minister P Chidambaram on Saturday attacked Home Minister Rajnath Singh accusing him of resorting to a completely distorting Hindu terror remarks to blame the former UPA government.

P Chidambaram

PTI photo
Former Home Minister P Chidambaram on Saturday attacked Home Minister Rajnath Singh accusing him of resorting to a completely distorting Hindu terror remarks to blame the former UPA government.He said former Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde in the UPA regime had questioned Hindu terror in a very different context but Singh’s statement was a completely diversionary argument.Chidambaram said Shinde made a statement outside Parliament and did not use the phrase Hindu terror in the manner in which Rajnath Singh was quoting.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”What he (Shinde) was referring to was the right wing extremist groups and some of them were charged in several bomb blast cases, Malegaon, Mecca Masjid and one or two other cases.”Many of those charged had very close links with the RSS. In fact, a few were even members of the RSS and that is all part of the chargesheet in the investigation,” he said reacting to Singh’s statement in Parliament accusing the UPA of weakening the fight against terrorism by use of words Hindu terror.Chidambaram said Shinde had questioned Hindu terror but in a very different context where he was contrasting the other terrorist groups, which owed allegiance to some other religion.”But I don’t think he branded terrorism as Hindu terrorism. I think Rajnath Singh is completely distorting the statement,” he said. Chidambaram said for many years people have used the word ‘red terror’ and descriptions like ‘Islamic terror’ even when Muslim groups have protested against it.He said Shinde could have avoided the expression “but I don’t think Mr Shinde used the word ‘Hindu terror’ in the way Mr Rajnath Singh is implying. I think the correct way to describe the problem is right wing extremists or terrorist groups.”On the Gurdaspur terror attack, he said from all material available in public domain it appears that the incident involved intelligence failure.”There is no harm admitting that there was a failure of intelligence. You don’t get intelligence every time on all possible incidents. The honest thing to do is to admit the intelligence failure and try to find out why that failure occurred and try to fix it,” Chidambaram said.Asked about reports of a clean chit being given to Pakistani government on Gurdaspur incident, the former Home Minister said there were state actors, non-state actors and non-state actors supported by the Pakistan government.”Now where does the Gurdaspur terrorist group fit in I can’t say. But let us not forget there are non-state actors acting independently in and from Pakistan,” he said.To a question whether NSA-level talks should go ahead with Pakistan, he said the Congress position was not that no talks should take place. In fact, it was the BJP’s position, he said, adding Prime Minister Modi during the election campaign had criticised the UPA for what he called “biryani diplomacy”.”Congress believes that talks are the only way forward. The question is in what circumstances the talks take place and on what conditions they take place. Assurances must be secured before talks take place,” Chidambaram said, accusing the NDA government of making “flip-flops” on handling with Pakistan. He claimed that the Ministry of External Affairs is not being involved in making the country’s policy on Pakistan, and hence such “flip-flops” are occurring.

AAP govt cites P Chidambaram’s 2011 letter to counter Lt Guv Najeeb Jung on powers

dambaram, in the letter dated January 31, 2011, had cited the then Attorney General Goolam E Vahanvati in clarifying Delhi Government’s queries on whether it had the right to fix circle rates.

The AAP government on Friday cited a communication by the then Home Minister P Chidambaram to Delhi Government in 2011 to strongly counter Lt Governor Najeeb Jung’s assertion that ‘Government’ in Delhi meant the LG.Officials in the Delhi Government said that Chidambaram, in a letter to then Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, had clearly “clarified” that government in Delhi meant the elected government and that Lt Governor was “bound” to act on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Chidambaram, in the letter dated January 31, 2011, had cited the then Attorney General Goolam E Vahanvati in clarifying Delhi Government’s queries on whether it had the right to fix circle rates.In the letter to Dikshit, the then Home Minister quoting the Attorney General’s views said that government as per provision of the “Indian Stamp Act, 1899 and the Rule 4 of the Delhi Stamp (Prevention of Undervaluation of Instruments) Rules, 2007, read with the provisions of Entry 63 of List II of the seventh schedule of the Constitution” meant government of NCT of Delhi.The letter came in response to Dikshit government’s queries about whether it has powers to fix cirle rates in the city.”Hence the Government of Delhi has the right to fix the minimum rates and Lt governor is bound to act on the aid and advice of the government of Delhi (council of Ministers in this regard). The LG is being advised accordingly in this matter,” the letter said.Amid his confrontation with AAP government on appointment of DCW chief Swati Maliwal, Jung, in a letter to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had on Tuesday referred to a Home Ministry order of 2002 to assert that “government in Delhi meant the LG”.Kejriwal had slammed Jung on Thursday for his assertion that he was the ‘Government in Delhi’, saying it will result in dictatorship and that his stand was not only unconstitutional but “laughable” in a democratic country.The LG clarified his position on the issue in a letter to the Chief Minister today, saying Kejriwal misunderstood him. Jung said it was never been his intent to “negate the position of the Chief Minister or the authority of the elected government”.

PM Narendra Modi’s desire to have NSG hub in Gujarat remains on paper

Incidentally, the glitch happens to be at the end of BJP ruled Gujarat government which is yet to respond to Home Ministry’s request to confirm transfer of suitable land to the elite commando force.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s keen desire to have a National Security Guards (NSG) hub in Gujarat to handle terror exigencies about which he first spoke as chief minister in 2011 still remains on paper because of bureaucratic delay.Incidentally, the glitch happens to be at the end of BJP ruled Gujarat government which is yet to respond to Home Ministry’s request to confirm transfer of suitable land to the elite commando force.On the request of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, the then union home minister P Chidambaram had approved a NSG hub for Gujarat March 18, 2011 on condition that the state government would provide land free of cost at the location found suitable by the NSG. But it kept hanging fire because of bureaucratic delays.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Soon after becoming prime minister, Modi gave fresh push to the proposal and the Gujarat government responded by offering land measuring about 41 acre suitable enough for establishing a NSG hub.Without wasting time, the PMO drafted a Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) Note and circulated it for inter-ministerial consultation on December 5, 2014.On January 6 this year, the union home ministry, the nodal ministry, sent a letter to the Gujarat government requesting it to hand over the identified 41 acre land to NSG.Keen to give shape to PM’s pet project, a team of senior NSG officials visited Gandhinagar the same month but to their dismay it found out that the land that is being offered measures not 41 but 36 acres.On May 8, the union home ministry again wrote to the Gujarat government asking it to confirm the status of transfer of the land to NSG free of cost so that requisite approval Centre can be conveyed on the project.Despite home ministry asserting that finalisation of the CCS note is held up for want of confirmation of handing over suitable land to NSG, the Gujarat government is yet to respond to the Centre.

Lalit Modi committed offences during Congress rule, but no action was taken: Government

They are searching for some issue but they are not getting any issue. During their regime everything has happened. Why did they not take any action against Lalit Modi? Why did they not bring him back to India? What had refrained them (from doing so)?” Gowda asked.

Government on Thursday sought to drag Congress into the controversy raging over some of its key leaders’ questionable links with Lalit Modi, saying the former IPL boss committed all offences during the UPA rule but it took no action against him.While Law Minister Sadanand Gowda attacked Congress alleging the UPA government did not take any action against Modi, his cabinet colleague Rajiv Pratap Rudy dismissed the demand of resignation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”They (Congress) have lost their base across the country. They are searching for some issue but they are not getting any issue. During their regime everything has happened. Why did they not take any action against Lalit Modi? Why did they not bring him back to India? What had refrained them (from doing so)?” Gowda asked.He insisted that Swaraj supported Modi, accused of laundering money to the tune of over Rs 700 crore, due to “humanitarian concern” over the health of his wife.Congress has said that the UPA government strongly pursued probe against Modi and took up the matter of his deportation to India with the UK government. The then Finance Minister P Chidambaram had even met his British counterpart to push the matter, besides writing to him twice.Asked about the demand for resignation of Swaraj and Raje, Union Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy said, “It is just an imagination of Congress and nothing like that is going to happen.””There is no such issue and I think everything has been clarified by our spokesperson. So I don’t think there is much to be read into what is happening,” Rudy said.Though BJP and the government have come in full support of Swaraj who helped Modi obtain travel documents from the UK, where he has been staying after he left India to avoid investigative agencies, they have been more restrained in their defence of Raje, who has been accused of secretly helping him in his immigration.A company owned by Raje’s son Dushyant Singh, who is an MP, also reportedly received investment from Modi, an old family friend of Raje.

Live | Lalit Modi – Sushma Swaraj row: Chidambaram demands release of letters to UK authorities

Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday said letters written to British authorities on Lalit Modi case during UPA rule should be released as they will answer the former IPL Commissioner’s accusations against him and Congress.”The complete answer to Mr Lalit Modi’s accusations against UPA can be found in the letters to the UK Chancellor. Release them,” Chidambaram, a senior Congress leader, tweeted.His reaction came a day after Lalit Modi accused Congress and Chidambaram of making him a target of “political vendetta” in the aftermath of Congress leader Shashi Tharoor losing his ministerial job following the IPL scam.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Latest updates11:54 IST Wednesday, 17 June 2015Raje should quit along with Swaraj: CongressWith the latest revelations in Modigate drawing Vasundhra Raje into the controversy, Congress demanded that Rajasthan Chief Minister also resign along with External Affair Minister Sushma Swaraj.Swaraj should step down and Raje should also resign for “helping Lalit Modi, an economic offender and fugitive,” spokesperson Shobha Ojha told reporters.Ojha also targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying his silence in the matter so far showed that “there is a mute support by the PM to these leaders”.Besides, she said the party wanted a Supreme Court monitored Special Investigation Team (SIT) to go into the Modigate.11:41 IST Wednesday, 17 June 2015P Chidambaram demands release of letters to UK In the interest of transparency, Government of India should release the letters written to the UK Chancellor on the Lalit Modi case.11:00 IST Wednesday, 17 June 2015Congress leader PL Punia said, “Helping a person (Lalit Modi) who has serious charges against him is a very serious matter. Sushma Swaraj & Vasundhara Raje have serious allegations on them, Prime Minister must come out and take actions against them.”10:59 IST Wednesday, 17 June 2015Needs clarification from Vasundhara Raje – Sachin PilotPerson who created black money, indulged in illegal activities was being helped by Rajasthan CM, this needs clarification from her, said Congress leader Sachin pilot.So far Latest on Lalit Modi-Sushma swaraj rowVasundhara Raje supported in writing my immigration plea in UK: Lalit ModiLalit Modi, former IPL chief, tonight made explosive claims that Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje had supported in writing his immigration plea in Britain and that he has a “family” relationship with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj whose husband and daughter had provided legal services “free of cost”.Holidaying in the tiny Balkan nation of Montenegro, Modi told Rajdeep Sardesai of India Today TV channel in an interview that Raje had accompanied his wife to Portugal for her cancer treatment two years ago. Raje became chief minister of Rajasthan for the second time in December 2013.The comments of the tainted former IPL Commissioner assume significance because it came hours after it was reported that Raje had given a “Witness Statement” in August 2011 to British authorities supporting his case for immigration in Britain which he has made his base after fleeing from India where he faces serious charges of money laundering and FEMA violations. Read moreMEA, Finance Ministry embroiled in blame game over Lalit Modi’s passportA blame game appears to be brewing between the External Affairs Ministry and Finance Ministry over not challenging the Delhi High Court order restoring the passport to tainted former IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi.Sources in the MEA sought to blame the Enforcement Directorate on not challenging the order on the ground that it was the ED which was investigating cases against him and it should have followed up the matter in the High Court.They said if ED had consulted the MEA, then it would have approached the court with an appeal but the agency never came to either with details of the investigation or the request to challenge the judgement. Read morePM Modi protecting Lalit Modi, a ‘man of black money’: Rahul GandhiContinuing his attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the Lalit Modi issue, Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said the man who had promised to bring back black money has now “jumped to the rescue” of a “man of black money”.Talking to reporters during his padayatra, the Congress vice-president said, “Who is Lalit Modi? He is man of black money. In the world of cricket, he is man of black money. Now Modi ji is jumping to his rescue.” He said that the entire nation remembers Narendra Modi promising voters during the election campaign last year to bring back black money and deposit Rs 15 lakh in each bank account. Read more:

AFSPA removal a victory for sanity and humanity: Chidambaram hails Tripura decision

New Delhi: Tripura government’s decision to withdraw AFSPA from the state was on Thursday hailed by former Home Minister P Chidambaram as victory for sanity and humanity while Hurriyat’s moderate faction hoped it will serve as an “eye opener” for political parties in Jammu and Kashmir.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

“My plea to repeal AFSPA heard in Tripura. AFSPA withdrawn. Victory for sanity and humanity,” Chidambaram wrote on microblogging site Twitter.

The senior Congress leader had strongly advocated, as Union Home Minister, for repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958.

“Some things do not have a place in a civilised country. One of them is AFSPA,” he had said recently.

Welcoming the decision, CPI demanded that the Centre repeal the law.

Expressing concern over alleged abuse of the act leading to violation of human and democratic rights of locals resulting in their alienation, CPI said that what the CPI-M government had done in Tripura is the “right thing”.

“There has been the demand in North-East including Manipur that AFSPA be repealed. A similar demand has also been raised in Jammu and Kashmir.

“Over the years, use and abuse of the act has led to violation of human and democratic rights and led to alienation of local people. The new situation demands that Centre should review the situation and ensure AFSPA is repealed. Tripura has done the right thing,” CPI leader D Raja said.

The moderate faction of separatist Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq said the revocation of AFSPA from Tripura should serve as an “eye opener” for the ruling class of J and K who make “loud claims” about the revocation of this “draconian” law from the state, “but in reality have no interest or intentions to do so”.

A Hurriyat spokesman also said it is a bold decision.

“Many governments came and pledged to revoke AFSPA from the state but all these pledges and claims proved to be blatant lies made just for public consumption,” he added.

PTI

Don’t use Army against Maoists: VK Singh

Union minister of state for external affairs General (retd) V K Singh opposed deployment of the Army in Maoist-affected areas on Tuesday, saying that the use of armed forces against “our own citizens” would “tarnish” its image.

“There are lots of things to do to overcome the menace of Maoism. Deploying the Army is not the answer. If armed forces are deployed there (Maoist hit areas) they will shoot our own citizens. This would tarnish the reputation and image of the Army,” Singh, former Army chief, said, replying to queries during a discussion based on his autobiography titled ‘Courage and Conviction’.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Recalling a meeting he had with former union home minister P Chidambaram after the 2010 Maoist attack in Tadmetla (Chhattisgarh), in which 76 troopers were killed, he said, “During that meeting I told the Minister that we have to introspect to know the cause (behind Maoism)”.

“Chidambaram told me that I was not in favour of deploying the Army to tackle Maoism. I told him that the problem is not that the Army doesn’t want to go there (Maoist-hit region) but what message would go out if we deployed the Army there,” Singh said.

“I had even told the then defence minister that the Army should be deployed only if there is a threat to national security, particularly from any other country,” he said.

Singh’s statement comes in the wake of a series of Maoist attacks in Chhattisgarh in the last three days, in which 13 security personnel were killed. The external affairs ministry had 29 files and the PMO had 60, he added.

PTI

Good riddance to Sec 66A; Nehru’s Article 19(2) curbs on free speech should be next

The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Section 66A of the Indian Information Technology Act, 2000, as amended by the UPA in 2008, is one of the most important judicial blows struck in favour of free speech. It should set the stage for a review of Article 19(2) of the constitution itself, since this article restricts the citizen’s right to free speech by prescribing a whole raft of situations in which she can be gagged.

The intellectual parent of section 66A of the IT Act is actually the ill-defined clauses of Article 19(2) (of which more later), which either needs to be scrapped or defined more precisely so that there is less scope for abuse.

Section 66 A, of course, is the right place to begin the free speech fightback. It is one of the most draconian laws in India, especially given its all-purpose wording that enables any law-enforcement authority lock up anyone for alleged verbal offences committed in cyberspace.

The section holds that “Any person who sends, by means of a computer resource or a communication device, (a) any information that is grossly offensive or has menacing character; or (b) any information which he knows to be false, but for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred or ill will, persistently by making use of such computer resource or a communication device, (c) any electronic mail or electronic mail message for the purpose of causing annoyance or inconvenience or to deceive or to mislead the addressee or recipient about the origin of such messages, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and with fine.” (Italics mine)

Supreme Court of India struck down the Sec 66A in its entirety today. AFP.Supreme Court of India struck down the Sec 66A in its entirety today. AFP.

Supreme Court of India struck down the Sec 66A in its entirety today. AFP.

If merely causing “annoyance or inconvenience” can attract stiff penalties under this section, it means a government can literally put anybody in jail for almost anything. This has happened with two teen girls who had posted something innocuous on Facebook after the death of Bal Thackeray, with a man who tweeted something about P Chidambaram’s son Karti, with a guy who posted something that Uttar Pradesh minister Azam Khan did not like, and with a Bengal professor who emailed a joke on Mamata Banerjee.

Successive governments – and especially UPA’s Law Minister Kapil Sibal – have argued that the wording of this section is similar to laws in the US, UK and Australia. In a parliament debate in December 2012, Sibal said: “The clause is based on identical UK, US and Australian laws and borrows the ‘exact words’ from them.”

That’s precisely is the nub of the problem. The reality is that strong states with a history of implementing the rule of law and with cast-iron commitments to the freedom of speech know how, when and with whom to apply such stringent provisions. Weak states, like India, tend to misuse strong provisions because we do not have a strong tradition of implementing the rule of law fairly and without political or community bias. A central law, by the time it gets down to implementation by states with varying capacities to implement it, can effectively be subverted to settle private and personal scores.

However, the mere striking down of section 66A of the IT Act is not enough. To uphold free speech in cyberspace and then retain laws circumscribing the same in the physical world – in books, movies or public speeches – makes no sense at all. Freedom cannot be restricted to cyberspace alone.

This means it is time for the courts to take a close look at Jawaharlal Nehru’s prime folly: the curtailment of free speech by the insertion of article 19(2) barely a year after we had adopted the Constitution.

Section 19(2) of the constitution is the mother lode of illiberalism, as it allows the state to impose “reasonable restrictions” on free speech. Many of what one would consider reasonable may be unreasonable to others.

After gloriously announcing in 19 (1) of the statute book that “all citizens shall have the right (a) freedom of speech and expression”, Nehru and Sardar Patel quickly amended it to insert proviso 19(2), which says: “Nothing in sub clause (a) of clause ( 1 ) shall affect the operation of any existing law, or prevent the state from making any law, in so far as such law imposes reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub-clause in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.” (Italics mine).

Note the words in italics. “Reasonable restrictions” on the exercise of free speech and expression have been used to ban books, censor movies and literary works, and arrest people whose views you don’t agree with, since almost anyone who can collect a crowd to oppose something they think is “offensive’ can be seen as a threat to public order. A ban can be justified in almost any circumstance, whether it is work that offends Muslims, Hindus, Christians, or various castes (as was the case with Perumal Murugan’s book that offended the Gounders).

The reference to banning speech that may offend friendly foreign states can be used to stop anyone from criticising America or even Pakistan. Even contempt of court is not something the government needs to defend. The courts can do so themselves, but any court that uses this restriction frequently is deserving of contempt – for courts are not above criticism themselves in a free country.

Also, one wonders why a Supreme Court that can scrap section 66A was so squeamish about junking section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalises homosexuality. The court is clearly inconsistent in its defence of fundamental freedoms.

This is the time to scrap not only section 66A, but also reframe the restrictions on free speech under Article 19(2) and the illiberal sections of the IPC. Does the court have the courage to do so?

Section 66A of IT Act was poorly drafted and misused: Congress’ P Chidambaram

New Delhi: Congress leader P Chidambaram on Tuesday welcomed the Supreme Court judgement holding Section 66A of the IT Act as unconstitutional, saying it was poorly drafted and misused.

Congress leader P Chidambaram said Section 66A of IT Act was poorly drafted. PTI

Congress leader P Chidambaram said Section 66A of IT Act was poorly drafted. PTI

“I welcome the judgement of the Supreme Court holding that Section 66A of the IT Act is unconstitutional.

“The section was poorly drafted and was vulnerable. It was capable of being misused and, in fact, it was misused,” he said.

The former Union Minister, who held the Home and Finance portfolios in UPA government, said there could be a case of misuse of freedom of speech and in such cases ordinary laws should apply and the offender should be dealt with under them.

“If some provisions of the law have to be strengthened, that could be considered. But Section 66A was not the answer,” Chidambaram said.

In a landmark judgement upholding freedom of expression, the Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down a provision in the cyber law which provides power to arrest a person for posting allegedly “offensive” content on websites.

Terming liberty of thought and expression as “cardinal”, a bench of justices J Chelameswar and RF Nariman said, “The public’s right to know is directly affected by section 66A of the Information Technology Act.”

Justice Nariman, who pronounced the verdict in a packed court room, also said that the provision “clearly affects” the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression enshrined under the Constitution.

Elaborating on the grounds for holding the provision as “unconstitutional”, it said terms like “annoying”, “inconvenient” and “grossly offensive”, used in the provision are vague as it is difficult for the law enforcement agency and the offender to know the ingredients of the offence.

PTI

Sec 66A is good riddance; Nehru’s Article 19(2) curbs on free speech should be next

The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Section 66A of the Indian Information Technology Act, 2000, as amended by the UPA in 2008, is one of the most important judicial blows struck in favour of free speech. It should set the stage for a review of Article 19(2) of the constitution itself, since this article restricts the citizen’s right to free speech by prescribing a whole raft of situations in which she can be gagged.

The intellectual parent of section 66A of the IT Act is actually the ill-defined clauses of Article 19(2) (of which more later), which either needs to be scrapped or defined more precisely so that there is less scope for abuse.

Section 66 A, of course, is the right place to begin the free speech fightback. It is one of the most draconian laws in India, especially given its all-purpose wording that enables any law-enforcement authority lock up anyone for alleged verbal offences committed in cyberspace.

The section holds that “Any person who sends, by means of a computer resource or a communication device, (a) any information that is grossly offensive or has menacing character; or (b) any information which he knows to be false, but for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred or ill will, persistently by making use of such computer resource or a communication device, (c) any electronic mail or electronic mail message for the purpose of causing annoyance or inconvenience or to deceive or to mislead the addressee or recipient about the origin of such messages, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and with fine.” (Italics mine)

Supreme Court of India struck down the Sec 66A in its entirety today. AFP.Supreme Court of India struck down the Sec 66A in its entirety today. AFP.

Supreme Court of India struck down the Sec 66A in its entirety today. AFP.

If merely causing “annoyance or inconvenience” can attract stiff penalties under this section, it means a government can literally put anybody in jail for almost anything. This has happened with two teen girls who had posted something innocuous on Facebook after the death of Bal Thackeray, with a man who tweeted something about P Chidambaram’s son Karti, with a guy who posted something that Uttar Pradesh minister Azam Khan did not like, and with a Bengal professor who emailed a joke on Mamata Banerjee.

Successive governments – and especially UPA’s Law Minister Kapil Sibal – have argued that the wording of this section is similar to laws in the US, UK and Australia. In a parliament debate in December 2012, Sibal said: “The clause is based on identical UK, US and Australian laws and borrows the ‘exact words’ from them.”

That’s precisely is the nub of the problem. The reality is that strong states with a history of implementing the rule of law and with cast-iron commitments to the freedom of speech know how, when and with whom to apply such stringent provisions. Weak states, like India, tend to misuse strong provisions because we do not have a strong tradition of implementing the rule of law fairly and without political or community bias. A central law, by the time it gets down to implementation by states with varying capacities to implement it, can effectively be subverted to settle private and personal scores.

However, the mere striking down of section 66A of the IT Act is not enough. To uphold free speech in cyberspace and then retain laws circumscribing the same in the physical world – in books, movies or public speeches – makes no sense at all. Freedom cannot be restricted to cyberspace alone.

This means it is time for the courts to take a close look at Jawaharlal Nehru’s prime folly: the curtailment of free speech by the insertion of article 19(2) barely a year after we had adopted the Constitution.

Section 19(2) of the constitution is the mother lode of illiberalism, as it allows the state to impose “reasonable restrictions” on free speech. Many of what one would consider reasonable may be unreasonable to others.

After gloriously announcing in 19 (1) of the statute book that “all citizens shall have the right (a) freedom of speech and expression”, Nehru and Sardar Patel quickly amended it to insert proviso 19(2), which says: “Nothing in sub clause (a) of clause ( 1 ) shall affect the operation of any existing law, or prevent the state from making any law, in so far as such law imposes reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub-clause in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.” (Italics mine).

Note the words in italics. “Reasonable restrictions” on the exercise of free speech and expression have been used to ban books, censor movies and literary works, and arrest people whose views you don’t agree with, since almost anyone who can collect a crowd to oppose something they think is “offensive’ can be seen as a threat to public order. A ban can be justified in almost any circumstance, whether it is work that offends Muslims, Hindus, Christians, or various castes (as was the case with Perumal Murugan’s book that offended the Gounders).

The reference to banning speech that may offend friendly foreign states can be used to stop anyone from criticising America or even Pakistan. Even contempt of court is not something the government needs to defend. The courts can do so themselves, but any court that uses this restriction frequently is deserving of contempt – for courts are not above criticism themselves in a free country.

Also, one wonders why a Supreme Court that can scrap section 66A was so squeamish about junking section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalises homosexuality. The court is clearly inconsistent in its defence of fundamental freedoms.

This is the time to scrap not only section 66A, but also reframe the restrictions on free speech under Article 19(2) and the illiberal sections of the IPC. Does the court have the courage to do so?

India court scraps online arrest law

India’s Supreme Court strikes down a controversial law which allows police to arrest people for comments made online and on social media.

Budget 2015: Jaitley takes black money head on, disincentivises cash payments

While presenting the Union Budget 2015-16, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that he will make schemes to disincentivise cash payments. He said he wanted to make India a cashless society, which means more debit card usage. P Chidambaram had introuced and abolished the Banking Cash Transaction Tax.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. AP

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. AP

Jaitley also promised a new tax regime at par with the rest of the world. This means tax breaks for business will be reduced.

The distinction between FII and FDI investment is to be abandoned. To wean the public away from gold imports, government will issue its own gold coins, with the Ashok Chakra mark.

The Finance Minister also set up the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund with Rs 20,000 crore contribution from the government. The Budget also provided additional funds for investment in infrastructure, Rs 70,000 crore more in 2015-16 over the previous year. Rail and road companies can also issue tax-free infrastructure bonds to raise funds for investment.

Government will also establish five ultra mega power projects, but this will given to private entrepreneurs only after all clearances are obtained. This will catalyse investments of Rs 1 lakh crore.

Bond markets will be deepened. Small ports may be corporatised to raise funds and grow.

Start-ups will also get a boost, especially in IT. A Rs 1,000 crore fund was announced for the same. Government also established incubation and facilitation programme for start-ups in technology.

Congress downplays Karti Chidambaram’s response to showcause notice

Congress on Wednesday downplayed the actions of Karti Chidambaram, son of senior party leader P Chidambarm, who has refused to give an explanation to the Tamil Nadu Congress on his alleged anti-party activities.

Congress on Wednesday downplayed the actions of Karti Chidambaram, son of senior party leader P Chidambarm, who has refused to give an explanation to the Tamil Nadu Congress on his alleged anti-party activities.”If I read Karti’s statement correctly, he himself is saying that he will like the matter to be adjudicated upon at the level of the AICC and by the Congress High Command”, party spokesman Randeep Surjewala told reporters.Karti had sought to turn the tables on Tamil Nadu Congress Committee President EVKS Elangovan, who slapped a showcause notice on him, by refusing to give him an explanation . He had contended that only All India Congress Committee’s Disciplinary Committee was competent to seek it.Karti was issued the notice on January 23 for alleged remarks against the party and its high command at a meeting of his supporters, collectively named ‘G-67’, a reference to those born after 1967, the year in which Congress lost power in Tamil Nadu. In his speech at the meeting on January 22, while analysing the electoral travails of Congress, Karti had appreciated Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his “political knowledge and acumen” in steering the party to success.In the notice, Elangovan had said Karti had criticised the party high command and thus ‘put spokes’ in the growth of Congress and sought an explanation in a week. To a question on possible action against party leader Janardan Dwivedi for his controversial remarks praising the Prime Minister, Surjewala said “the General Secretary In-charge of Communication Department has clarified the matter and Dwivedi himself had made an elaborate statement on the issue. The matter rests right there at present and it needs no further comment.”

Digital connectivity should become as much a basic right as access to school: PM Narendra Modi at Indian Science Congress

The 102nd Indian Science Congress would deliberate on two flagship and ambitious programmes of Government of India — Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan and Make in India. Along with veteran scientists, this science congress will have politicians, bureaucrats and corporate bigwigs deliberating on various aspects of science and technology for human development.Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the 102nd Indian Science Congress on Saturday. Nobel laureates, noted scientists as well as academics of global repute are scheduled to participate in the event hosted by Mumbai University, its Vice Chancellor Rajan Welukar said.The theme of the event, which will conclude on January 7, is ‘Science and Technology for Human Development,’ Welukar said. The inaugural session and main sessions would be held at the Kalina campus of the Mumbai University. The five-day event is expected to be attended by around 12,000 delegates, he said. The the event was held last time in Mumbai in 1969.”Science and technology has helped reduce poverty and advance prosperity. ……A nation’s progress and its human development are linked to science and technology. Science and technology can also remove national barriers, unify the world and advance peace,” Prime Minister Modi said while addressing the 102nd session of Indian Science Congress at the Mumbai University.Stating that he felt honoured to participate in the event, the Prime Minister added that he found science and technology an invaluable ally in governance and development. “It is a great honour to participate in the Indian Science Congress. I thank University of Mumbai for hosting it. I feel humbled by the work that scientists do. And, I find science and technology an invaluable ally in governance and development,” he added. (Read more)General president of the science congress Dr SB Nimse, who is also the vice-chancellor of Lucknow University, told dna that it is perhaps for the first time that subjects of the symposia and sessions have already been decided so that deliberations ultimately lead to larger national good.The congress is being hosted by Mumbai University from January 3 to 7 and it would be inaugurated by prime minister Narendra Modi on Saturday. Right from former president Dr APJ Abdul Kalam to scientific adviser to Government of India R Chidambaram, stalwart scientists like Dr Anil Kakodkar, K Kasturirangan, Dr Raghunath Mashelkar, Dr Vijay Bhatkar, Dr CD Mayee will participate in various sessions. Corporate leaders like Arun Firodia of Kinetic group of companies, Ravi Pandit of KPIT, bureaucrats like chief secretary of Maharashtra Swadheen Kshatriya and secretaries of various departments are also taking part. Union minister Prakas Javadekar would be expressing his views on science and technology in Sankrit literature while Union minister Harsha Vardhan would chair one session.Dr Mashelkar who is spearheading the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan will chair separate sessions on this subject. There will be a separate sessions on the subjects ‘Innovate and Make in India’ and ‘Role of Smart Cities in Economic Development’.Dr Kakodkar who is known for his contributions in the field of atomic energy will be chairing a session named ‘Science and Technology for Inclusive Development’. Kshatriya is participating in this session.The issue of farmers’ suicide would be touched upon and explored by Brajmohan Misra, the principal adviser for department of economic and policy reseacrh of the Reserve Bank of India. This issue will be taken care of in Bharatiya Agri-Industries Foundation’s Girish Sohani’s presentation on emergent needs and strategies that work for rural India.Indian Space Research Organization (Isro) chairperson K Radhakrishnan will make a presentation on Mars mission while principal scientific advisor to Government of India and one of the topmost scientists of the country, R Chidambaram, will lead the discussion on the subject ‘Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Skill Development’ which is an ambitious initiative by the US government.From computing to innovation and space to ocean research, from Clean India to Innovative India — all aspects will be deliberated upon in the science congress. Around 15,000 delegates and seven to eight thousand students will participate in it. Children’s Science CongressFormer president Dr APJ Abdul Kalam will interact with students at the Chidlren’s Science Congress which will be held on the sidelines. Dr Mashelkar will also interact with its participants so that the Swachh Bharat message reaches its target audience — India’s torch bearers.With inputs from Shalendra Paranjpe

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