The Hindu: October 16, 2015 00:51 IST Take the cue from the President
In those moments when questions emerge about the fragility of the state's constitutional principles — over what has transpired since the Dadri lynching and the killing of Kannada scholar M.M. Kalburgi, for example — it is incumbent on high constitutional functionaries to rise to the occasion and seek to answer them. These incidents have triggered a response from India's intellectuals who have earned recognition, with a string of litterateurs returning their Sahitya Akademi awards, concerned about the silence of the august body over rising intolerance. Right-wing chauvinists have seemingly become more emboldened, with even former fellow-travellers of the BJP such as Sudheendra Kulkarni being targeted for initiatives related to bettering India-Pakistan ties. It is in this context that President Pranab Mukherjee's statement a week ago at Rashtrapati Bhavan, where he underlined the need to retain diversity, plurality and tolerance as the core values of our civilisation, came as a balm. The President later re-stated those sentiments on foreign soil – in Israel, speaking to politicians in the Jewish state, suggesting that "religion should not be a basis for a state". While the remarks were more apposite to the Israeli context, these could be seen as a reiteration of how India should not go the Israeli or Pakistani way. The words by the President, who occupies a ceremonial role, are in contrast to the reticence shown by the Prime Minister in reassuring citizens about his government's seriousness in tackling communal hatred.
The Prime Minister could do that in several ways. He could reprimand Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma who has come up with several controversial statements recently. He could acknowledge that communalism — especially of the majoritarian kind that seems to have received a fillip since the present government came to power — would not be tolerated. He could reiterate the commitment of his government, which was elected on the promise of development, to stem the rising tide of intolerance, and reassure those returning their Akademi awards of his government's commitment to secularism and law and order. Instead, we have heard Narendra Modi merely expressing sadness about the Dadri lynching, and using the clichéd argument of law and order being a State subject, trying to avoid the onus. Mr. Modi's colleague, Nirmala Seetharaman, tasked with giving a response, also came up with a faulty argument, suggesting that there is something to be debated about communalism. Secularism is a bedrock of India's Constitution, and what needs to be debated is the means to achieve the separation of religion and the state. The sense is that the ruling party wants to disregard this and bring the very question of secularism under debate. This is clearly untenable, and it is to be hoped that Mr. Modi would live up to his constitutional role. The President has shown the way.
Necessary for (someone) as a duty or responsibility.
· take one's cue from. Follow the lead of another, as in I'm not sure what to bring, so I'll take my cue from you.
Respected and impressive.
Give (someone) the courage or confidence to do something or to behave in a certain way.
Apt in the circumstances or in relation to something.
A rebuke, especially an official one.
The main body or stalk of a plant or shrub, typically rising above ground but occasionally subterranean.
Solid rock underlying loose deposits such as soil or alluvium.
(especially of a position or view) not able to be maintained or defended against attack or objection
The Hindu: October 16, 2015 00:47 IST
Lessons from an agitation
The end of the 17-day strike by nearly three lakh plantation workers in Kerala, following a wage settlement before a tripartite committee, should come as welcome relief to the ailing sector. It took six rounds of negotiations at meetings of the Plantation Labour Committee, comprising representatives of managements, trade unions and the government, to do that. Under the settlement, the daily wages of workers in tea, coffee, cardamom and rubber plantations will go up by a fair measure. The agitation drew much political attention as it followed a successful strike by women workers at Kanan Devan Hills Plantations Ltd in Munnar last month. Keeping out the mainstream trade unions, the women organised themselves independently to extract a 20 per cent bonus offer from the management, comprising 8.33 per cent statutory bonus and 11.67 per cent ex gratia payment. It was obvious that the women's initiative gave the required impetus to a wider agitation across the State, and fuelled fears of fraternal strikes in other plantations in the country. The State government, which knew that the workers' demand for higher wages for livelihood was justified, was caught in a dilemma as it was equally aware of the crisis gripping the sector owing to falling commodity prices and allied ills. It is possible that the authorities got the managements to arrive at a wage settlement by offering concessions in the form of lower plantation tax and agricultural income tax, besides subsidised electricity supply.
There is little doubt that the conditions of workers in the plantation sector leave much to be desired. Many of them live on-site in one-room line houses, and the scope for quality education for their children is limited. The government's plans to upgrade housing and provide more schools in the plantation areas are welcome, but it requires sustained effort to bring about a significant change in the workers' lot. The plantation managements have their stories of woe too. They say rising production and labour costs have made their produce uncompetitive in both domestic and overseas markets. Contending that the average price of each kilogram of tea, rubber or cardamom is less than the cost of production, planters have sought to link wage increases with a corresponding enhancement in labour productivity. It is in the fitness of things that the government has also decided to appoint a one-man commission to go into the gamut of issues in the sector. The bottom line is that while the entire sector needs to improve its competitiveness and productivity, it is equally important that the plantations remain responsible employers.
A state of anxiety or nervous excitement.
Consisting of three parts.
The force or energy with which a body moves.
Of or like a brother or brothers.
Great sorrow or distress.
The complete range or scope of something
Starting this week, foreign portfolio investors or FPIs will be allowed to invest in debt issued by state governments. The relaxation of rules in the last monetary policy review by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) was welcome. The response has been positive, with FPIs picking up over Rs 900 crore in state government debt in the last few days. The RBI intends to raise the investment ceiling in state government debt for FPIs in several stages, taking it to Rs 50,000 crore by March 2018. FPIs already have holdings close to the permissible limits in central government debt. In the current calendar year, FPIs have bought close to Rs 50,000 crore of central debt. FPIs can now invest an additional Rs 16,431 crore, including in state government securities, and the limits will be enhanced by another Rs 16,600 crore from January 2016. Indian state government debt offers some of the best yields in the emerging markets category. India is also reckoned to be among the least risky of the emerging market economies. State government debt is available at significantly higher yields compared to those for central debt. The spreads in state government debt over central treasuries amount to 80-90 basis points for instruments with the same tenures.
However, state government debt may also be attractive for some of the wrong reasons. There are market imperfections and those imperfections could lead to potentially dangerous situations. In effect, there is an implicit sovereign guarantee for state government debt issued by any of the 29 states. Due to that, there is not much difference between state debt yields despite wide variations in state ratings. No Indian state has ever defaulted. It would be incumbent on the Centre (and the RBI) to ensure that no state ever does default, especially to foreign creditors. But against the backdrop of implicit guarantees, creditors are likely to look for the highest available yields, assuming that the default risk is effectively zero. Going purely by yields, the states with the worst financial policies are also likely to be the most attractive from an investor's viewpoint because the highest yield will be associated with the states that have the lowest ratings. Thus, it is possible that West Bengal (rated BBB-plus) could place larger quantities with FPIs than Gujarat (A-plus) because West Bengal will surely offer somewhat higher yields.
This factor - implicit sovereign guarantees for all - could in itself raise questions about the relevance of the rating system. It could lead to topsy-turvy situations with major misallocations. States raise debt for multiple reasons, of which only some are sensible. Many states, for example, subsidise power to consumers and raise debt to service the losses their electricity boards incur as a result. Some states are quite large and their gross domestic product could be equivalent to that of small countries. So the state government debt market could, in some senses, be considered analogous to the euro zone: states with widely different fiscal positions and economies of different sizes are unified in a single currency market. The Greece crisis points to the problems that can arise from distortions in such markets. Ways must be found to guide states towards greater fiscal responsibility. Unless the curbing of profligate expenditure goes hand in hand with this liberalisation, helpful access to more funding could lead to problems down the line.
Implied though not plainly expressed.
A supreme ruler, especially a monarch.
Necessary for (someone) as a duty or responsibility.
Comparable in certain respects, typically in a way that makes clearer the nature of the things compared.
"the fairground ride turned riders topsy-turvy"
Recklessly extravagant or wasteful in the use of resources.
A ticket to ride
Radio-taxi aggregators like Uber and Ola have been embroiled in legal battles ever since a female passenger was allegedly raped by an Uber driver in December last year, spotlighting app-based cab services' inadequate and half-hearted consumer-safety measures. Confusion surrounding the proper legal requirements for these companies was intensified by the lack of a clear regulatory framework to deal with them — a problem the Indian government is not alone in facing. The Union ministry of road transport guidelines issued this week will go some way towards clarifying the compliance burden on the likes of Uber and Ola. Though the states do not have to abide by the advisory, it creates a broad structure that should help remove ambiguity for taxi-app companies, which face different or outdated laws around the country.
The guidelines impose additional costs on app-based cab aggregators. They require them to have 24×7 call centres and establish driver-training programmes that include gender-sensitisation. They also mandate that a vehicle be equipped with a "device capable of physical location tracking" and that the operator conduct stringent criminal background checks on drivers. Several of these have already been adopted by taxi-app services in response to the intense criticism after the December 2014 incident, as well as the threat of bans. Ride-hailing apps are mired in controversy across the world — as a reaction from entrenched interests, and because incidents such as the alleged rape raise uncomfortable questions about the fundamental premise of such services, which depend on strangers trusting each other to work while shortcircuiting the safeguards that apply to their more traditional versions.
Yet, while the government is rightly concerned with ensuring that ride-hailing services prioritise safety, it must also not seek to pass on the entire responsibility for people's safety onto private companies. In fact, the success of Uber and Ola owes much to their promise of flexibility and freedom of movement, especially to women, that the state
has consistently failed to guarantee through the provision of reliable and safe modes of public transportation.
Involve (someone) deeply in an argument, conflict, or difficult situation
The action or fact of complying with a wish or command.
Establish (an attitude, habit, or belief) so firmly that change is very difficult or unlikely.
· be/become mired (down) in sth
› to be involved in a difficult situation, especially for a long period of time:
The peace talks are mired in bureaucracy.
Oct 16 2015 : The Times of India (Ahmedabad)
Youngest Startup Nation
Policies to encourage startups need to bring the bureaucracy on board
The Prime Minister's Office is reportedly working out an integrated plan to encourage startups. This plan does not restrict itself to encouraging startups in the technology sector, but also hopes to trigger more investment in manufacturing.Such a plan would also be timely as some surveys show that India this year has emerged as the country which is attracting the most foreign investment.
Niti Aayog member Bibek Debroy believes an essential feature of startups is their power to disrupt established ways of doing things.Juxtapose this description with the NDA government's frequently cited overarching aim of making India a very easy place to do busi ness, and we are on the right path to creating a conducive environment for startups. Of course, the devil is in the detail. The most far reaching plans to liberalise India's economic environ ment have been undone by bureaucracy lagging the political leadership's approach. For examp le, the plan to encourage startups is reported to include tax breaks. But when governments in the past have offered tax breaks on a variety of activities, this was more than offset by the difficulties arising out of engaging the tax department. Therefore, creating a conducive environment for startups will need more than a few tweaks in policy.It will need the political executive to find ways to bring the bureaucracy in sync with new objectives.
Encouraging startups will lead to more jobs. This is perhaps the greatest gain to a young society . The disruptive nature of young companies in India's e-commerce sector is indicative of the depth of entrepreneurial skill available here. Actually this is the world's youngest startup nation with 72% of the founders being less than 35 years of age.
Place or deal with close together for contrasting effect.
Forming an arch over something.
Making a certain situation or outcome likely or possible.
A consideration or amount that diminishes or balances the effect of a contrary one.
Twist or pull (something) sharply.
Oct 16 2015 : The Economic Times (Mumbai)
Rob FTIL to Let Off NSEL Defaulters?
Sebi should apply its mind to the NSEL case
Here is a curious case of an official clarification of a news story confirming it definitely . Outgoing finance secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, said a story in The Financial Express, wrote to the finance minister criticising the Revenue Department opposing the proposed amalgama tion of scam-struck National Spot Exchange Ltd (NSEL) with its promoter company , Financial Technologies (India) Ltd (FTIL). One arm of the government was thwarting another arm was the letter's nub. The government has clarified that Revenue based its opinion on advice from the Enforcement Directorate, which felt that its investigation would be impeded by the proposed amalgama tion, and that it was quite possible for different arms of the government to have different points of view without any desire to favour anyone being at work. Fair enough.
The clarification does not contest the rest of the reported letter, which reveals poor understanding of the NSEL scam and cavalier disregard for the damage to investor confidence in the stability of India's legal and policy framework arising from breaching a listed company's li mited liability, even as its promoters' deemed culpability is still under inv estigation and sub-judice. When the regulator abruptly terminated some contracts on NSEL, certain traders defaulted on their obligation to pay another set of traders on the exchange. NSEL's settlement guarantee fund has the liability to pay for the trades guaranteed by the ex change, but not for the amounts borrowed to finance the badla-like trades carried out on the exchange. The Mumbai High Court and Maharashtra's Economic Offences Wing have frozen assets of the defaulting traders, who traded contracts with non-existent underlying stock.The right thing to do is to recover the money from the defaulters to pay off their dues.
NSEL must be penalised for its faults, whose precise identification should be a priority for Sebi. It would a grievous error for the government to force the amalgamation and rob FTIL shareholders to let the defaulting traders off the hook.
Delay or prevent (someone or something) by obstructing them; hinder.
Prevent (someone) from accomplishing something
The crux or central point of a matter.
A supporter of King Charles I in the English Civil Wa
Responsibility for a fault or wrong; blame.
(of something bad) very severe or serious.
The Guardian view on Sweden and immigration: breaking point
wedish democracy works very well providing the voters don't disagree. But ever since the last general election handed the nationalist Sweden Democrat party the balance of power, Swedish politics have been riven by substantive disagreement.
The Sweden Democrats are a genuinely reactionary party. They want their country, and indeed the world, to be the way it seemed in the 1980s, before globalisation swept much of the social democratic state away, and washed in hundreds of thousands of dark-skinned foreigners. Their social and economic policies are an incoherent mess but their one political demand is clear: a massive and permanent cut in refugee immigration, to levels almost as low as British policy allows under this government. The Sweden Democrats want a cut of 95% in humanitarian immigration. This one policy demand has propelled them over the last 10 years from being an obscure groupuscule with clear neo-Nazi roots to a party with 13% of the seats in parliament, and over 20% in the latest opinion pollsThe response of the other parties has been to ignore them resolutely and with equal firmness hope that they would go away. This alternative to a strategy was severely tested last December when the Sweden Democrats voted to reject the budget proposals of the minority leftwing coalition and then announced they would vote with the government to prevent any centre-right budget proposal. This threatened an emergency election, or complete paralysis. The response was to double down on the policy of ignoring the Sweden Democrats: in order to avoid an election the other seven parties in parliament came to an agreement that they would fix their votes to produce the same outcomes as if no Sweden Democrats had been elected. Since then, the European refugee crisis has developed in its tragic and astonishing magnitude, while Sweden in particular has also attracted large numbers of Roma from inside the EU, some of whom beg for a living. The two inflows have strained the policy of trying to ignore the Sweden Democrats to breaking point.
There are now more than 7,000 applications for political asylum a week in Sweden and the system is almost at bursting point. There have been small riots in Malmö over the demolition of a migrant camp set up for Palestinians and a general sense that the fabric of Swedish society is under strain.
At this point the small, and traditionally leftish Christian Democratic party cracked and at its annual congress repudiated the agreement reached last December. This example was immediately followed by the Conservatives. It seems that this is a ploy to put pressure on the Social Democrats to abandon their minority government and to form a more stable coalition with one or more of the centre-right parties. There is also a perceptible weakening of support for the policy of unrestricted immigration for anyone who can make it across the EU as far as Sweden. The Sweden Democrats, calling this "the greatest catastrophe of the modern age", have just announced a nationwide campaign for a referendum on immigration. They cannot force one, but they can ensure that tension remains high all winter.
Europe should look at this crisis and learn. It can no longer expect two countries – Sweden and Germany – to do all the hard work of absorbing Syrian refugees.
Split or tear apart violently.
Not discovered or known about; uncertain.
A political or religious splinter group.
A small, thin, sharp piece of wood, glass, or similar material broken off from a larger piece.
Refuse to accept or be associated with.
IS in Pakistan
There's no mistaking it any longer: the self-styled Islamic State is making inroads in the country.
In a militancy-riven landscape like that of Pakistan, where violent extremist groups have had a long run virtually unimpeded by state action until recently, this signifies a dangerous new dimension in the war against terrorism.
However, the stance adopted by the authorities suggests they are either deliberately underplaying the threat, perhaps for public consumption, or else are unmindful of the wider ramifications.
According to statements by law-enforcement agencies this week, investigations into the Safoora Goth carnage in Karachi in May have uncovered the existence of a number of terrorist groups "inspired by IS's ideology"; notwithstanding Sindh police's denial that it had issued a list of suspected militants linked with these.
The IGP Sindh informed the Senate Standing Committee on Interior that the group responsible for the Safoora Goth massacre is also associated with IS and that its commander had since fled to Syria.
From the outset, the state has emphatically denied the presence of IS in Pakistan; doing otherwise is especially inconvenient at a time when it is seen as taking proactive steps against terrorism.
Law-enforcement authorities are still at pains to point out there may not be any direct links between militants in Pakistan and IS, the entity fighting in the Middle East.
Even if true, that is an inconsequential detail: it is the group's ideology that matters, and the danger lies in the fact that Pakistan's militant networks are a natural constituency for this pan-Islamist and violently sectarian ideology.
Moreover, IS has also staked a claim to this region — which it refers to by its historical name of Khorasan — as part of its expansionist agenda; and its territorial gains in Syria and Iraq, where it is putting its ultra-radical ideology into practice, offer a template for terrorist groups in Pakistan.
Among these is the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, one of the main perpetrators of sectarian carnage in the country, whose links with the 'IS-inspired' militants have been disclosed by the police.
Others likely to be seduced by the IS model are disaffected elements from comparatively, or nominally, peaceful organisations aspiring to more 'robust' means of achieving their objectives.
It seems that even urban, educated youth are not immune, evidence of how Pakistani society as a whole has drifted to the right over the years.
Extremism is not static: if allowed to fester — whether by design or by ill-considered policies — it will spawn ever more radical versions of itself.
The trajectory of terrorism both in the international as well as the domestic arena is illustrative of this.
Many local outfits that began with state-sponsored jihadist objectives have displayed increasingly reactionary, even anti-state, tendencies.
Some, it seems, are still being tolerated, as long as they toe the line. If Pakistan is to definitively change course, there must be no room for such elements on its soil.
Progress; an advance
Split or tear apart violently.
Not obstructed or hindered.
Create difficulties for (someone or something), resulting in delay or obstruction.
In a forceful way.
(perpetrate) perform an act, usually with a negative connotation; "perpetrate a crime"; "pull a bank robbery"
The killing of a large number of people.
(of a wound or sore) become septic; suppurate.
(of a fish, frog, mollusk, crustacean, etc.) release or deposit eggs.
(especially of change or action) relating to or affecting the fundamental nature of something; far-reaching or thorough.
The path followed by a projectile flying or an object moving under the action of given forces.
· toe the line
>accept the authority, policies, or principles of a particular group, especially unwillingly.
"he knew that he had to toe the official line because he couldn't afford to be put on the dole"