The Indian Express | 5 days ago | 24-11-2022 | 02:50 pm
The fast-unto-death of Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta Sidhupur) president Jagjit Singh Dallewal to press for various demands of farmers entered its sixth day on Wednesday, while the dharna at six highways of Punjab entered its eighth day.The demands of farmers include enhanced compensation for land acquired for national highway projects, compensation for crop damage due to inclement weather and pest attack, and rolling back of heavy fines imposed for stubble burning. The dharnas are being organised under the banner of Samyukt Kisan Morcha (Apolitical). On Wednesday, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leaders, including Parambans Bunty Romana and Prem Singh Chandumajra, called on Dallewal and enquired about his health. SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal also called up Dallewal to enquire about his health.Romana said, “I had gone to meet Dallewal ji on behalf of the party president. The SAD chief had also called him up.We assured him (Dallewal) that the party is with the farmers and we extend all our support to them.”Effigies of Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann were also burned at all the six highways in Mansa, Patiala, Bathinda, Faridkot, Hoshiarpur and Amritsar. Dallewal is sitting on hunger strike at Tehna T-point in Faridkot.BKU Sidhupur members widely circulated pictures of various AAP leaders sitting on roads when they were in the Opposition. The pictures included that of Bhagwant Mann sitting on a dharna at Sangrur in 2018 when he was the Sangrur MP; of the then AAP MLAs Aman Arora, Peermal Khalsa, Nazar Singh Manshahia, Kultar Singh Sandhwan, and Gurdit Singh Sekhon, among others, sitting on roads at various sit-ins during the previous Congress government when AAP was in the Opposition.“Farmers are very much irked by the statement of the Punjab CM. They want the CM to apologise for it. It was also conveyed to Vidhan Sabha Speaker and Kotkapura MLA Kultar Singh Sandhwan when he came to meet Dallewal on Monday,” said Sukhmander Singh Dhilwan, a BKU Sidhupur farmer leader.CM Mann had slammed the farmers’ unions on Friday last for frequently blocking roads in Punjab as part of their protests.Kaka Singh Kotra, another state leader of BKU Sidhpur, said, “Several sarpanches made arrangements to provide us dry ration at all the protest points. People are now understanding that we are sitting on a dharna for a public cause.”Sukhmander added, “We are giving way to traffic from one side of the road and so we are not putting the commuters to inconvenience.”Late in the evening SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal tweeted: “Spoke to BKU (Ekta-Sidhupur) president S Jagjit Singh Ji Dallewal who is on fast unto death for past 5 days. Inquired about his well being & assured complete support to him. @Akali_Dal_ is a party of farmers & is committed to safeguard the rights of farming community at all costs.”Speaking to reporters at the protest site in Faridkot on Wednesday, Dallewal said, “Even if I die, I appeal to farmer colleagues to carry out their protests in a peaceful manner.”He said his weight loss, fluctuation in blood pressure and low blood sugar level were not weighing on his mind at the moment. “I am not thinking about these things. We are here so that the government should issue a notification for the demands they had already been accepted,” he said.A medical team has been stationed at the protest site in Faridkot to monitor Dallewal’s health.Jai Inder Kaur backs DallewalDaughter of former Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh and BJP leader Jai Inder Kaur Wednesday came out in the support of farm leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal and other farmers who are sitting on protest.Kaur said, “Our farmers led by BKU leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal have been sitting on a protest for the last 8-9 days in various places in Punjab. They are keeping forward their genuine demands that were earlier promised to them by the state government which now has backtracked on all its promises. I stand fully in support of these protesting farmers and urge CM Bhagwant Mann to come down from his high horse and fulfill his promises to our farmers.”Condemning Mann for what she termed as a ‘betrayal’, Kaur said, “Bhagwant Mann led government has repeatedly backstabbed Punjab’s farmers. First they promised to provide Rs 2500 per acre compensation to farmers for stubble management but later they completely refused and even worse, they started filling cases and marking red entries against the farmers who had to burn stubble due to the incompetence of the state government. Mann’s government completely failed to provide any alternative to stubble burning and is now instead of taking responsibility is blaming farmers for it’s misdeeds.”“The present government is totally failing our farmers on all front and is clearly more focused on the Gujarat elections, instead of taking care of business in Punjab,” she said.
GIFT City occupies 886 acres between Gandhinagar and AhmedabadIndia's newest financial hub is rising from scrubland near the banks of the Sabarmati river once dominated by marsh birds and grazing buffalo.In Gujarat, just a few glass-fronted towers greet the 20,000 employees of companies such as JPMorgan Chase & Co. and HSBC Holdings Plc who commute in each weekday. Its full name is Gujarat International Finance Tec-City, but it's more commonly known as GIFT City. It occupies 886 acres between Gujarat's capital, Gandhinagar, and Ahmedabad, its biggest city. As of October, bankers managed a combined $33 billion here.What's drawing these companies? An exemption from the many rules and taxes that hamper business and trading in the rest of India. GIFT City is an experiment in free markets nestled inside a $3 trillion economy - one of the world's fastest-growing - that's long been reluctant to let its national currency, the rupee, become a plaything of international investors. The goal is to create a welcoming place where India-centric trading that's moved to Dubai, Mauritius or Singapore can return home.At first, Gujarat seems an unlikely location. On the west coast, it's the ninth-most populous state-and, as a mark of respect for Mahatma Gandhi, who was born in Gujarat, it bans the sale of alcohol, that lubricant for many a financial deal. Narendra Modi started planning GIFT City in 2008, when he was still the Chief Minister, and his ascension to Prime Minister in 2014 allowed him to give the project more policy help and a higher profile. In a July speech to bankers, regulators and executives from India and overseas, he proclaimed that "the vision of India's future is associated with GIFT City."Prime Minister Modi's government has offered an array of incentives, including a 100% tax holiday for a decade to businesses that set up within the hub's International Financial Services Center, or IFSC. Rules are being tweaked to encourage Indian companies to lease ships and aircraft through GIFT City rather than on foreign shores. Foreign universities will eventually be allowed to bypass regulations to open local campuses, and companies can use an international arbitration centre to avoid India's notoriously poor contract enforcement mechanisms.A key concern that the financial centre seeks to address is India's lack of full convertibility of its currency. Converting money into foreign currencies requires cumbersome documentation, and that's pushed trading in rupees and rupee-denominated financial assets to offshore centres that Indian regulators can't monitor. But within GIFT City most of these rules don't apply, enabling onshore trading in key currency derivatives contracts, which can counteract some of the effects that offshore trades have on the rupee exchange rate.Another product has migrated to the financial centre: a popular derivative based on a benchmark gauge of Indian stocks that was traded on the Singapore Stock Exchange. In 2022 the National Stock Exchange opened a cross-border trading link with Singapore - similar to the Hong Kong-Shanghai connect - to allow global investors to trade stock derivatives listed on the Indian market without needing to set up shop in India.Trading volumes have increased since a single regulator, the IFSC Authority, was created by the government in 2020 to streamline approvals and oversight in the special economic zone. In October, average daily turnover on the two stock exchanges in the financial center climbed to $14.6 billion, from $3.4 billion two years before, cumulative derivative transactions by banks jumped to $466 billion, from $22 billion, and cumulative banking transactions rose to $303 billion, from $45 billion."Beyond the shores of India, in some of those centres where India-centric business developed, they are able to notice that something is happening, and things may not be the same in the future," says Injeti Srinivas, the IFSC Authority's chairman. "Business is gravitating toward IFSC."A new international bullion exchange will let qualified jewellers directly import gold through GIFT City, a change from current rules permitting only some banks and nominated agencies approved by the central bank to do so. That loosening of restrictions is set to widen the importer base in India, the world's second-biggest consumer. An aircraft leasing and financing business is operating in GIFT City to tap into the demand of one of the world's hottest aviation markets for new-plane orders. Ship leasing will start soon.In July, JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank AGstarted operations in GIFT City. JPMorgan will initially offer clients foreign exchange derivatives and wants to leverage its position as one of the largest suppliers of physical bullion in the country. Deutsche Bank aims to tap the rising number of companies in India that need cross-border banking services, ranging from hedging to financing. (In 2018, Bloomberg LP, the owner of Bloomberg Markets, entered into an agreement to provide capital markets expertise to GIFT City.)"We think the GIFT City policy is a calibrated approach toward internationalisation of the rupee," says Srinivasan Varadarajan, a managing director in global emerging markets at Deutsche Bank in Mumbai. "It is similar in some characteristics to what has been seen in Asia over the last decade."Jaxay Shah, founder and managing director of property developer Savvy Infrastructure Pvt., is among the people betting on this growth. His company, which built the tower that houses Bank of America Corp. offices and the IFSCA's temporary headquarters, has purchased two nearby plots to double its holdings in GIFT City. "When else in my career would I get this kind of smart city, where there is an economic vision and no red tape?" Mr Shah says.GIFT City is the first in India to offer district cooling, an energy-efficient air conditioning system, as well as central waste, water and electricity management. Although it offers beautiful streets and boulevards and pristine sports centres, plus recent additions including a school and a hospital, workers tend to disappear in the evenings, taking electric buses to homes in nearby cities that have amenities such as cinemas and fast-food restaurants.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comSome younger executives in Mumbai, Delhi and Gujarat, who asked not to be identified because they weren't authorised to comment, say they're often questioned on calls about whether alcohol will be permitted. Multiple policymakers and lawmakers told Bloomberg Markets that they expect authorities will provide yet another rule exemption-to allow licences to buy and consume alcohol. The state government realises it needs to amend its teetotaller requirements to attract residents and ensure the project's success, they say.And that, in a nutshell, is the story of GIFT City: an oasis in which companies can escape rules and bureaucracy. An attempt to lure billions of dollars back to onshore markets. A "sandbox" in which fintechs can play with new products with seamless links to global systems. Perhaps even a vision for India's future.Featured Video Of The DayTelangana Politician YS Sharmila's Car Towed Away By Cops With Her In It
— Mansi SinghAbout 66 per cent of schools in India lack access to the internet, with states such as Bihar and Mizoram having 92 and 90 per cent schools, respectively, in this category as per a Unified District Information System for Education plus (UDISE+) report for 2021–22.The report, which is an Education ministry initiative to collate data about school education, shows that 80 to 85 per cent of schools lack internet access in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, West Bengal, Meghalaya, Odisha, Telangana, and Tripura.Delhi and Lakshwadeep each have 100 percent schools with working computer facilities and 97.4 per cent schools with access to the internet. Delhi is also the only Union Territory (UT) to have 100 per cent of its schools with an internet connection. Other UT’s such as Chandigarh (98.7 per cent) and Puducherry (98.4 per cent) also perform well in this category.At 94.6 per cent and 92 per cent, Kerala and Gujarat are the top-performing states in this respect. Gujarat is also the only state in the country where more government schools have internet access than private. (94.2 per cent and 89. 6 per cent, respectively).However, the gap between government and private schools persists. While 59.6 per cent of the private and unaided schools and 53.1 percent of government-aided schools surveyed had internet access, only 24.2 per cent of government schools did so.The report adds that less than 50 per cent of the schools surveyed had functional computers, with accessible functional mobile phones for teaching purposes just at 20 per cent.The availability of smart classrooms is also low. Out of the 1.4 million schools in the country, only 2,22,155 have functional smart classrooms with digital or smart boards used for teaching. Out of its 3911 schools, Mizoram has only 25 schools with smart classrooms. Tamil Nadu has zero schools in this category. In what is indicative of a large gap between different regions in the country, West Bengal has 99.99 per cent schools with smart classrooms. Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, and Kerala also have more than 90% in this respect.However, the report shows an overall uptick in comparison to previous years. Although the total number of schools in India have decreased in the last four years, from 15,51,000 in 2018-’19 to 1,48,9,115 in 2021–’22, the number of schools with internet facilities have increased from 2,90,447 (18.3%) in 2018–’19.to 5,04,989 (33.9%) in 2021–’22.
The BJP converted Ahmedabad — the city of Begum and Badshah — to Karnavati, while successive Congress governments made Gujarat unsafe through communal riots and smuggling of arms for terrorist activities through porous borders, said Union Minister Amit Shah at Naranpura in Ahmedabad Monday.“BJP sealed the borders, sent smugglers to jail and forced them to leave Gujarat; thus, saving the entire western India from terrorism. Congress governments made Gujarat unsafe through communal riots and smuggling for arms for terrorist activities through porous borders,” Shah said. He also alleged that the Congress tried to delay the Sardar Sarovar project since the dam was named after Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.While speaking about how the BJP has enforced law and order in the state, he referred to how Jagannath Rath Yatra had to be stopped due to communal riots in Ahmedabad. He also said not a single police station in Gujarat had to impose a single day of curfew in the past 20 years.Talking about the Sabarmati Riverfront, Shah said the Congress had agitated saying that the land acquired on the banks of Sabarmati will be given away to industrialists. “Today, the riverfront has become the centre of activity in the city,” he reminded.Shah also highlighted the party’s efforts to ensure that Ahmedabad could host the Olympic Games in 2036.Earlier in the day, as he addressed an election campaign for BJP candidate Ketan Inamdar at Savli Assembly seat in Vadodara, Shah blamed the Congress for delaying the Sardar Sarovar project since the dam was named after Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.“(Pandit Jawaharlal) Nehru had laid the foundation stone of the dam in 1961, even before I was born, but it was Morarji Desai’s ‘mistake’ that he named it after Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. The moment the dam became Sardar Sarovar, the Congress stepped back and did not want to complete the project… They couldn’t make do with the name,” alleged Shah.Referring to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as “mauni Baba”, Shah also blamed the Congress’s “vote bank politics” for the continuous attacks on Indian soldiers by Pakistan.Shah attributed the completion of the project to Modi’s grit during his tenure as the Chief Minister of Gujarat due to which the Central Government was forced to clear the construction of the dam.“The Congress leaders ask what benefit Savli has if the Narmada water reaches Saurashtra and Kutch… Will it not benefit Savli when those areas prosper because of Narmada water and bring along overall growth? But how does one explain this to the Congress because the distance between Congress and wisdom is 300 miles,” he charged.Yet again reminding the “lesson taught” to rioters during the 2002 riots of Gujarat, Shah said, “They (Congress) orchestrated the Hindu-Muslim riots and ensured that there was a curfew for 250 of the 365 days… Bombs used to be found from homes of their cabinet ministers and 200 people would get stabbed daily in Ahmedabad jail. In 2001, when Narendrabhai became the chief minister, no man had the courage to cast an evil eye on the rath yatra of Lord Jagannath… The Congress had backed rioters always and so in 2002, they (miscreants) made another attempt to create a riot. But they were taught such a lesson that they never lifted their heads again.”Due to “vote bank politics”, Shah alleged, for 10 years until 2014, the UPA government did nothing when “the Pakistanis would come and cut the heads of our soldiers”. “In 2014, Narendra Modi became the PM but Pakistan did not realise what difference it would make if the BJP was in power… When Pakistan attacked Pulwama and killed our soldiers, within 10 days, Narendrabhai gave orders to the Army and Airforce to teach them a lesson… He has sent across a message that no one should play around with the borders and soldiers of India or they will have to pay a price.”
Assam Chief Minister and one of the star campaigners of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Gujarat elections, Himanta Biswa Sarma, on Monday launched an attack on opposition Congress for providing such an eco-system to the country where issues likes love jihad became very easy, and called for a law against love jihad that is possible “only in the BJP government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi”.On his second visit to Gujarat for campaigning, Sarma raised the infamous Delhi murder case involving Aftab Poonawala and Shraddha Walkar from Mumbai, which he had raised during his earlier visit also.The Assam CM said that before her murder, Shraddha had lodged a complaint with Maharashtra police against Aftab but an FIR was not registered. “At that time, the government in Maharashtra was that of Shiv Sena, Congress and Nationalist Congress Party… because of Congress’s politics of appeasement, a special class has got freedom to do whatever they want… ‘you do anything and law will not touch you’. It is because of Congress’s appeasement that the country has started seeing incidents like that of Aftab-Shradhha.”Sarma mentioned that Shraddha was cut into 34 pieces and such gruesome murder is possible only if some other agenda was attached to it. “Else, you will never cut a person, with whom you have lived for some time, into 34 pieces,” he said.“Therefore, I believe that the country needs a law against love jihad. And it can be possible only in the BJP government under the leadership of Narendra Modi,” Sarma said.Defending his statement that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has started looking like Saddam Hussain (former chief of Iraq), Sarma said, “Some people from Congress got unhappy (with my comment). What is there to be unhappy about? I did not call him Bahadur Shah Zafar (the last emperor of the Mughal dynasty). I only said that your face looks like Saddam (Hussain). Remove the beard and again you will look like Rahul (Gandhi). What is the problem? That is my assessment. You are giving it publicity by trolling me,” Sarma said.Mentioning about the BJP manifesto for the Gujarat elections, Sarma said that the issues like checking love jihad, commitment for Uniform Civil Code, work against radicalisation, increasing medical insurance for poor from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh, resolve against terrorism, announcement to express readiness to hold Olympics, etc., have come up during the Gujarat elections.“The country has started feeling the agenda of 2024 (Lok Sabha elections) on which issues the 2024 elections will be fought,” he said, adding that Congress did not control terrorism in the country, but it was done by PM Modi after 2014.Sarma said that the BJP is set to win more than 150 seats in the current state assembly elections and more than 400 in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.In reply to a question whether he was trying to polarise Hindu voters in Gujarat, Sarma said, “What is the problem in it? Don’t Hindus have a right to talk like a political force? Is it only the right of (Asaduddin) Owaisi to polarise? ”“We too have a right to talk about Sanatan Sanskruti in India, to talk about Hindu asmita (pride) and also talk against the exploitation of women in Muslim community. Why do you think that by talking about Hindu pride, the country will be polarised?”Replying to a question on radicalisation, Sarma said that nobody is saying that an entire community is radicalised. “There are patriots in that community as well. But unfortunately, Popular Front of India (PFI) and Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) also come from that community. So, we have to accompany the patriots from that class and destroy the radicals.”In its manifesto, the BJP has promised to have a cell against radicalisation. Sarma said that we need to have a “vaccine” against radicalisation.Sarma also campaigned for BJP candidates Hardik Patel in Viramgam and Alpesh Thakor in Gandhinagar South constituencies later in the day. In Motera area of Ahmedabad, which falls under Gandhinagar South constituency, Sarma participated in a programme organised by the local Assamese population.
At his last rally in Rajkot for the first phase of Gujarat elections, for which campaigning ends Tuesday 5 pm, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in Rajkot that this election is to “make our Gujarat developed, prosperous and touch new heights”.“Now, we can’t afford to tread slowly. We have completed 75 years of Independence and whatever capital we have accumulated and strength we have gained, whatever difficulties we have overcome, we can’t afford to walk for another 75 years. Whatever we want to do, we must do in just 25 years. This election is to resolve that we want to take Hindustan and Gujarat to that height, come what may,” he said.Addressing a rally on Race Course ground in Rajkot, Modi said his government trusts the people and added that after he became the prime minister in 2015, his government repealed 5,000 archaic laws and had done away with 40,000 compliance requirements. He also said that his government did away with the requirement of getting attested photocopies of documents and also started becoming guarantors of small time traders and even vegetable vendors so that they can get bank loans through Mudra and PM Swanidhi schemes.“During the Congress era, there was no trust in people. It didn’t trust the people. Government used to function in its own way even as people would struggle. We have changed this situation and there is a huge difference…,” Modi said adding that the Congress had the the mentality that used to prevail during the days of gulami (foreign rule).“Britishers had decided to not trust anyone in the country. This British trait was later transferred to Congress to not to trust citizens… Congress, during its rule, entangled the common man in such a way that he started believing that government was maa-baap (the provider) and that not a step can be taken without the concurrence of the government. Congress wanted that the country’s poor, middle class, trader, businessmen continue making rounds of (offices of) of Congress leaders and government,” Modi said.Adding that the BJP runs the government in a way in which those who need government shouldn’t feel the absence of it and those who don’t need it shouldn’t find it blocking their way unnecessarily, he said, “We have always believed in trusting the people of this country as they love the country as much as we do and mean good to the country.” He cited it as the reason behind the government doing away with the requirement of interviews for filling Class III and Class IV positions.In Jamnagar, the PM said, “I have got one more opportunity to seek blessings of Lord Dwarikadhis and darshan of you all.”