India’s plan to give millions cheap food will cost more than its forecast of Rs 1.3 trillion (USD 23.8 billion) a year and will accelerate inflation, a leading adviser on food issues for the government said in an interview.The bill aims to provide subsidized wheat and rice to 70 percent of the 1.2 billion people in India, home to 25 percent of the world’s hungry poor, according to a UN agency, despite being one of the biggest producers of food supplies.The Congress party, which leads the coalition government, is pushing to pass the National food Security Bill before elections, which are due by May 2014.But the government’s own estimates say the bill would increase India’s annual food subsidy by 45 percent, threatening to add to an already hefty fiscal deficit. Critics say it is little more than an attempt to divert attention from corruption scandals involving the government. Calculation is that (Rs 1.25 trillion) is front-end subsidy. There are many costs that have not been counted.Food Minister KV Thomas has said the bill could cost Rs 1.2-1.3 trillion a year. The budget for the current year ending March 31, 2014 sets aside Rs 900 billion as the bill still awaits passage by parliament. Gulati, who advises the government on prices to pay farmers for their crops, said large-scale state grain purchases to meet commitments under the bill would lead to higher inflation.
Category Archives: Politics
The government which introduced amendments to the landmark Food Security Bill in the Lok Sabha could not get it passed as opposition stalled proceedings in the House over killing of Sarabjit Singh in Pakistan and other issues.Food Minister K V Thomas moved amendments to the National Food Security Bill, which was originally introduced in Parliament in December 2011, but no discussion on it could take place as the Opposition-led by BJP persisted with protest over Sarabjit Singh’s death.The cause was also not helped as other members raised issued like Chinese incursion and coalgate scam, forcing adjournment of the House for the day without passage of the measure.Major changes in this bill include doing away with priority and general classifications of beneficiaries and providing uniform allocation of 5 kg food grains (per person) at fixed rate of of Rs 3 (rice), Rs 2 (wheat) and Rs 1 (coarse grains) per kg to 67 per cent of the country’s population. Protection to 2.43 crore poorest of poor families under the Antodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) to supply of 35 kg food grains per month per family would continue.That apart, nutritional support to pregnant women without limitation are among other changes proposed in the Bill. At the proposed coverage of entitlement, total estimated annual foodgrains requirement is 61.23 million tonnes and is likely to cost the exchequer Rs 1,24,724 crore.
In a major move aimed at reforming the global financial architecture, the BRICS finance ministers today agreed on the setting up of a development bank to fund infrastructure and development projects in the five-nation grouping of emerging powers.The agreement came after weeks of negotiations among the five emerging economies in a move aimed at changing the rules of governance in global governance, especially the Bretton Woods institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.Senior Indian negotiators have said that the BRICS bank initiative will be cleared at the level of the heads of government when the summit adopts the report of the finance ministers. Issues including capital, membership and governance still dog the BRICS bank over which a final document may get ready by next year. Still it may take years before it finally gets going.The BRICS bank can also borrow from other banks to pitch in with the much-needed capital. The BRICS bank will focus on funding infrastructure and development projects in the BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries in a direct challenge to the way the World Bank and IMF do their business.However, Indian negotiators are also conscious of the fact that issues like capital, membership and governance are yet to be thrashed but before the summit can put a seal of approval on launching the BRICS bank.
Facing demands from India and other countries for banking details of persons with alleged black money in Switzerland, the European nation has proposed new rules for combating money laundering and mandating extra due diligence by banks before accepting clients’ money.Switzerland’s Federal Council, the country’s top-most policy making body, has proposed that these norms would be put through an extensive consultation process till June 15.
The proposals come within days of Switzerland promising deepening of dialogue with India on administrative assistance and exchange of information about suspected illicit wealth stashed by Indians in the Swiss banks.At the same time, Switzerland’s finance ministry has also made it clear that it would not entertain any banking information requests that are based on stolen or illegally obtained account details, while it has also refused to consider any fishing expedition for Swiss bank details.In its latest proposals, the Federal Council said it has adopted two consultation drafts – one for implementation of the revised international recommendations on combating money-laundering and terrorist-financing, and the second for putting in place and extended due diligence requirements should prevent untaxed assets from being accepted by financial intermediaries in Switzerland.India is probing alleged stashing of untaxed funds in certain Swiss banks. The country has not got details of such funds directly from Switzerland and it is said that these details found their way to India after certain account details were stolen electronically by a third party.
All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) MLA Akbaruddin Owaisi, who was arrested on the charge of not cooperating with the police in connection with the hate speech case against him, has been sent to 14-day judicial custody. Sources say Owaisi was arrested as the police officers were not convinced by the MLA’s explanation that he had gone to London for medical treatment. Owaisi was on 8th Jan’13 night taken to Nirmal in Adilabad district of Andhra Pradesh where an FIR has been registered against him for allegedly delivering a hate speech. Owaisi’s lawyer Shafiuddin Khan on Tuesday accused the police of arresting the MLA arbitrarily. He claimed that the MLA was not well and could collapse due the stress after his arrest. Akbaruddin Owaisi never wanted to evade the law, he had been cooperating. Owaisi had not eaten food since morning, he was not even given the medical report. We have not been informed by the police where Owaisi has been taken. Owaisi was not allowed to go to his house also, Owaisi had gone to London for re-evaluation and medical check-up. Two FIRs were registered suo motu at Adilabad and Nizamabad districts while a third case was registered by Osmania University police, following a court directive after Owaisi allegedly used inflammatory language against a particular community in December 2012. Owaisi has been booked under Sec 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion) and Sec 295A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings) of IPC. The MIM legislator has also been booked under Sec 121 (waging or attempting to wage war, or abetting waging of war, against the Government of India) of IPC. Meanwhile, Owaisi’s lawyer has filed three more petitions in the court demanding medical treatment and higher security for the MIM MLA.
India’s commercial capital, Mumbai, has been named among the world’s ‘dirtiest’ cities, ranking last in the ‘cleanest streets’ category, a global survey of 40 key tourist cities has found. According to TripAdvisor’s Cities Survey, Tokyo grabbed the first place while Mumbai ranked last in the list of ‘cleanest streets’.Similarly in the category of ‘ease of getting around’, Mumbai ranked at the last position while Zurich stood at first place, the survey revealed the cities with rudest locals, dirtiest streets and worst shopping.It found that Moscow was home to world’s least-friendly locals. The Russian city ranked last in a number of categories, including ‘friendliest locals’. Tokyo was the most highly decorated world city, ranking number one for best taxi services, friendliest taxi drivers, best public transportation, cleanest streets and safety. New York City took out the top spot for shopping, but travelers felt the city’s streets could use a sweep with the Big Apple ranking 28 out of 40 for cleanliness. “New York City’s global reputation as a shopping mecca was reinforced by the opinions of the TripAdvisor community worldwide.The survey, completed by more than 75,000 people, looked into how travelers and locals viewed 40 key tourist cities around the world.
Two days before Gujarat goes to vote, Congress’s yuvraj Rahul Gandhi is finally set to enter the battleground on Tuesday. However, the question is whether it is a little too late to take on Chief Minister Narendra Modi. The Congress leader will address meetings at Sanand in Ahmedabad in central Gujarat and at Jamnagar and Amreli in Saurashtra regions. Observers say it’s in the rural confines of Saurashtra that the most powerful political battle is being fought. The BJP rebels led by Keshubhai Patel will be looking to dent Modi in the BJP’s original bastion.Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have already campaigned in the state where the party is out of power for two decades. Congress’s announcement of Rahul campaigning in Gujarat came when Narendra Modi dared Rahul Gandhi to campaign in Gujarat. Modi had said that Rahul Gandhi was not campaigning in Gujarat because he did not want to take responsibility of his party’s likely defeat in the Assembly polls. “One of the Congress leaders from whom they have big expectations had camped in Uttar Pradesh for 12 months and people kicked that party out of the state. This ‘precious’ leader of the Congress has not dared to campaign here for assembly elections,” Modi had said. The leader knows the temperament of Gujarati people. He has realised that they won’t be able to impress the people of Gujarat. Hence, he decided to pay merely token visits here. He doesn’t want to take the responsibility of his party’s defeat here,” the Chief Minister had said. Modi had also ridiculed the Congress for ‘withdrawing’ all photographs of Gandhi family members from its poll-related campaign material in Gujarat. “This has happened for the first time in 60 years.Congress has assiduously made an attempt to prevent polarisation of election campaign on communal lines and hence refrained from touching on the issue of post-Godhra riots this time, which it had used to the hilt in last assembly elections. Senior Congress leaders have been targeting Modi’s development claims instead this time. Addressing a rally in Siddhpur on Monday, Sonia also dubbed the Modi government as “anti-people” alleging that the BJP-led dispensation in Gujarat is indulging in “wrong-doings”. Attacking the development plank of Modi government, she said one should ask why more than four and half lakh farmers were not getting power connection despite the Centre providing electricity. Polls in Gujarat will be held on December 13 and 17.