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Nitish demands Special Status for Bihar

“As Bihar is an economically backward state, it deserves the status of Special Category State just like Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and the eight north-eastern states. This will help attract private investment and reduce the burden on the state which is currently the predominant engine for development,” he said during his meeting with the Union Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee today.

For the closing year of the special plan of Backward Region Grant Fund (BRGF) the Chief Minister demands that Bihar would need Rs 3,145.43 crore for completing the ongoing schemes. This includes Rs 805 crore for the revised estimate for state highway works in progress and Rs 389 crore for the revised cost of the rail-cum-road bridge on River Ganga at Patna with approach roads. He also demanded full release of BRGF fund earmarked for 2011-12.

According to him, as long as private investments do not flow, Bihar needs to enhance public investment. Bihar’s GDP at 2004-05 prices in 2010-11 has been estimated at Rs 1,34,323 crore and its per capita income was 37.6% of national average. Bihar needs to augment its GSDP by Rs 2,22,919 crore at 2004-05 prices to achieve the national average. Taking a conservative estimate of ICOR at 3:1, it would need an investment of Rs 6,68,757 crore at 2004-05 prices.

The Chief Minister further explained that assuming 70% of investment would flow from the private sector, the public sector investment needed for achieving the national average growth level  will be Rs 2,00,627 crore which when spread for a period of five years works out to an annual investment of Rs 40,125 crore at 2004-05 prices or around Rs 60,000 crore at current prices. Given Bihar’s historically large development deficit, the burden needs to be shared between the central and the state government.

He alleged that the Bihar’s share of grants under the 13th Finance Commission has fallen to 10.917% of tax devolution from 11.028% in the 12th Finance Commission. This deficit has to be compensated with special grants.

He urged the Union Home Ministry to expedite the process so that Bihar gets Rs 5,030.71 crore (as on March 31, 2010) in pension liabilities and Rs 285.78 crore in State Government Guaranteed Bonds from Jharkhand as per Bihar Reorganisation Act, 2000.

The ceiling of borrowing limit for 2011-12 fixed at Rs 6342 crore should be raised upwards to allow Bihar to make adequate market borrowings.

The Bihar Chief Minister urged the Union Finance Minister to tell the commercial banks to increase their lending in the state. Bihar’s cash-deposit ratio at 32% is way behind the national average. While banks’ deposits have crossed Rs 100,000 crore, their credit profiles have not kept pace.

Bihar faced second consecutive drought in 2010 and hence the Union Finance Ministry should approve interest subvention scheme for Bihar. The roll out of core banking system needs to be expedited in Bihar, particularly for Grameen Banks.

The Union Government should release the balance of Rs 1000 crore sanctioned by the Planning Commission for the State Plan in 2010-11.

Centre should fund 90% of the cost for the implementation of RFCTE Act in Bihar. Given the state’s historical development deficit in physical infrastructure it requires a one-time investment of Rs 19,000 crore phased over a few years and and Rs 12,000 crore annual recurring fund.

The Bihar Chief Minister suggested drastically reducing centrally sponsored schemes (CSSs) and devolving funds allocated for different sectors in consultation with the state governments.  He said that all central government’s funds should be routed only through the Consolidated Fund and not through any government sponsored societies.


Experts for steps to check fraud in NRI marriages

The Chairperson of the National Commission for Women, Girija Vyas while initiating the discussions at a national seminar on ‘Issues Relating to NRI Marriages’ here on Tuesday suggested the need for compulsory registration of marriages in India. The consensus at the seminar was for overall changes in the relevant laws.

“There is a need for a separate legislation to address issues including matrimonial discord, maintenance of spouses and children, child custody, settlement of property. This can serve as a comprehensive ready reference for foreign courts deciding litigation between NRIs and Indian citizens,” said Ms Vyas.

She suggested the need for change in the process of issuing passports such as its cancellation pertaining to offending NRI spouse, detailed particular of spouse and photographs. Indian Government must become a member of the Hague Conference on Private International Law with a view to fight cases against NRIs who have cheated their spouses.

Under the provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1956, if both the parties are Hindus at the time of marriage, then the parties have to file divorce in the country of their origin that is India. The Committee on Empowerment of Women (2006-07) set for solving the problem drawn from the Supreme Court has suggested that any court abroad cannot dismiss the marriage solemnized in India and the alimony should be given to the girl.

“Section 498A is not acceptable worldwide and is taken as a joke by NRIs and legal experts in other countries,” she said.

She urged for formulating guidelines for the police and law enforcement agencies to deal with the cases, complaints arising out of NRI marriages including concealing of marital status by NRI grooms by using existing legal mechanism and procedures. Special cell should be set up for NRI marriages. FIR must be registered in the police cell specially created for such cases involving NRI marriages. Special cell should also be set up in Indian Missions in target countries.

If NRI marriages are solemnized in religious institutions, these institutions must be made to check the credentials of the groom and also issue certificate of marriage.

While Indian Missions abroad are assisting in giving legal aid to the aggrieved parties, the National Commission for Women (NCW) has been made a coordinating agency at the national level to receive and process all complaints relating to Indian women deserted by their overseas Indian husbands. The NCW has set up a NRI Cell on August 27, 2009 dealing exclusively matters relating to deserted Indian women by their overseas Indian husbands.

About 515 complaints have been received so far till December 31, 2010, out of which 416 are from India, 15 from US, 11 from Australia, 8 from UK, 6 from Thailand, 5 from UAE and the remaining from other countries.

In India maximum number of cases of wives deserted by their overseas husbands are Delhi, 68 followed by UP 42, Haryana 36, Punjab 27, Maharashtra 27, Gujarat 25, Andhra Pradesh 24 and 13 cases each from West Bengal and Tamil Nadu.    

The Union Minister for Women and Child Development, Krishna Tirath suggested that registration of marriage should also be done in the country where the spouse would live with her husband. Indian Missions abroad should help in the process.

While Prof VC Govind Raj of Indian Society of International Law emphasized the need for a concrete legislation, the additional secretary in the ministry of external affairs said that the prevention of fraud can be done by signing a pre-nuptial and affidavits should be signed by both parties and marriages performed in India would come under the jurisdiction of Indian courts.


Prez, VP,PM greet nation on Milad-Un-Nabi


In her greetings, Mrs Patil expressed hope that Holy Prophet’s message of universal brotherhood, compassion, tolerance and service to humanity will guide and inspire the people to follow the path of harmony.

In his message Mohammed Ansari has said that Milad-Un-Nabi reminds us of the life and spiritual teachings of Prophet Mohammad. Through the message of love, humanism, righteousness and tolerance, the teachings of The Prophet continues to be a source of spiritual strength for all humanity.

In his message, the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh  said the birth and life of the Prophet symbolises a message of selflessness, brotherhood and amity among people.

The Prophet’s life and work is an inspiration to lead a life of compassion and brotherhood. May the festival spread peace, love and tolerance among all, the Prime Minister added.

Darjeeling strike to continue

The announcement came shortly after his announcement of relaxation in bandh for 24 hours from Tuesday.  The indefinite bandh which entered the sixth day Monday was called to protest the February eight Sibechu police firing which claimed lives of three Morcha activists. 

Large number of Morcha supporters courted arrest protesting against the incident in Darjeeling, Kurseong and in Kalimpong Monday but they were released on  bond later.  They were demanding CBI enquiry into the Sibechu police firing and creation of a separate state of Gorkhaland comprising of Darjeeling hills, Terai and Doors in Jalpaiguri district.

Rahat gets ‘Rahat’ from DRI

As investigations continued to find out the source of the huge amount of foreign currency, the three men were freed after being asked by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) to surrender their passports and appear again for questioning after three days

They have been asked not to leave the country until further order. They have surrendered their Passports to Directorate of Revenue Intelligence. Official sources said that Rahat and two others Maroof and Chitresh Shirivastava have been asked to appear before DRI on February 17 again.

Rahat Fateh Ali Khan was detained at the IGI airport here by revenue intelligence sleuths after he and two of his troupe members were caught allegedly carrying worth 60 lakh rupees foreign currency with out any declaration. Rahat and two of his troupe members were extensively questioned.

In a related development, sleuths of DRI carried out searches at an event management company in Mumbai in connection with alleged recovery of foreign currency. Sources privy to the investigations claimed that the sleuths found 51 lakh rupees in cash which was seized besides some documents which could be helpful in the probe being carried out by the DRI .During the day Pakistan Television said that Interior minister Rehman Malik has directed its envoy in New Delhi to extend legal support to the singer. Some members of the commission also visited DRI Delhi office during the day where the singer was questioned.


Nilekani to evolve mechanism for subsidy

The task force would evolve mechanisms to provide direct subsidies on kerosene, LPG and fertilisers to intended beneficiaries.

The Finance Ministry in a release said that the task force has been constituted in light of the overwhelming evidence that the present policy of giving subsidy on kerosene is resulting in waste, leakage, adulteration and inefficiency. The Task Force would submit its interim report within four months of its constitution.

The recommendations of the report would be implemented on a pilot basis by the concerned ministries under the supervision of the Task Force in the following six months. Besides, the Task Force would evolve a model of direct transfer of subsidies on these items by re-engineering existing systems, processes and procedures in the implementation process.

The panel has also been asked to design appropriate IT systems and  bringing about changes in the administration and supply chain management. Besides the  UIDAI chairman, the team will consist of secretaries from finance,chemicals & fertilizers, agriculture, food & public distribution, petroleum & natural Gas and rural development along with DG UID Authority


2G scam: Govt relents, ready for JPC


Congress leader privy to the government affairs here said a 21-member JPC is likely to be constituted to probe the issue and a formal announcement is expected to be made during the budget session, which begins next week.

The one-month-long winter session was a complete washout as the opposition was unwilling to agree for anything less than a JPC. Congress top brass including party chief Sonia Gandhi and PM Manmohan Singh held deliberations on Monday to chalk out a strategy for smooth functioning of the parliament.

Congress gave enough indications that it might not be averse to a JPC to probe the 2G scam if the opposition is ready for a prior debate and agree to modalities for such a probe. This was the first interaction among the senior leaders after Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who is also the Leader of Lok Sabha, convened an all-party meeting last week to break the logjam in Parliament on the opposition demand for a JPC into the 2G spectrum issue. Mukherjee had assured the opposition leaders that he would get back to them after consulting the Prime Minister. The entire Winter Session of Parliament was washed out following the deadlock.

The meeting assumes significance as the government also has to decide on the bills to be brought in the upcoming session as also give finishing touches to the budget 2011-12 which will be presented by Mukherjee on 28th February. The Union Cabinet will discuss the JPC issue on Tuesday to consider the President’s address to Parliament on the opening day of budget session on February 21.

The Presidential address to the joint sitting of Parliament comes out with the government’s policies for the year and views on various topical issues. Mukherjee will also meet party leaders at the AICC headquarters on Tuesday to seek suggestions from them on the Budget. “Democratic institutions must be allowed to function…What modus operandi …it is for the Government and the opposition to work it out”, party spokesman Manish Tewari told reporters here .

Tewari said that Congress has been consistently demanding a debate in Parliament on the issue. “Opposition should not run away from a debate. The demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe should not become a subterfuge to run away from debate. Debate on the floor of the House is a fair, legitimate and just demand”, he said.

Message from Egypt

What happened in the land of pharaohs is under-current yearning for change and democratic rule. In simple terms-Egypt is reborn.

The Tahrir Square-the epicenter of revolt has been cleaned up as the protestors slowly trudged to their homes. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has stepped in to fill in the void as Hosni Mubarak fled the Cairo promising that the “current government and governors to manage affairs until the formation of a new government”

“The Arab Republic of Egypt is committed to all regional and international obligations and treaties,” a senior army officer said in a statement. 

The Supreme Council swung into action immediately. The Parliament was dissolved and Constitution suspended. The Council has also given a solemn assurance that election would be held to usher in popularly-elected democratic government.

But there is lingering suspension that whether the Council honour it’s committed to the 80-million people who ousted Mubarak. The 16-man Council led by Defense Minister Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi , it is known is averse to democracy.

Given this situation, peoples fear, is to a certain extent justified, the Military might not relinquish power that easily with United States looking the other way, because, Egypt is a staunch ally in the Arab world.  

Nevertheless, the uprising in Egypt has rocked the Arab world like never before. The people’s power to overthrow well-entrenched dictators all over the Islamic world is spreading like forest fire.

The Tsunami-like revolution started in tiny Tunisia. President Zine El Abidine fled the country after a month-long uprising.

Taking courage from the Egyptians, Algeria and Yemen followed as thousands took to the streets for mass protests. In the Algerian Capital, thousands participated in demonstations defying official clampdown for pro-reform, a day after Hosni Mubarak resigned as the Egyptian President.

The protestors raising slogans such as “No to the Police State”. The demanded reforms to usher in democracy but stopped short of  demand for removing  President Abdel Aziz Bouteflika.

Now it is turn of Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh to face the people’s wrath.  Here it was youth power leading the march. They gathered in Central Sana demanding President Saleh to step down.

The protestors marched towards Sanaa University crying “Get out, Get out Ali”.

In Libya, Muammar Qaddafi who ruled with iron hand appeared rattled as a huge protest been planned for the second week of February.

The Morroccon Government has ordered troops out to cities as preventive measure to ensure that demonstrations do not take place. A pro-western government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri was overthrown and a Hizabollah backed government is in place in Lebanon  and Jordanians have been on the street demanding bread and freedom.


ULFA leaders meet PM

The ULFA leaders were closeted with the prime minister for about 15 minutes. The meeting was described as a courtesy call by the ULFA leaders as Dr Singh represents Assam in the Rajya Sabha.

On Thursday last, the eight-member ULFA delegation met Home Minister P Chidambaram and Home Secretary G. K Pillai and began the process of dialogue, after three decades of insurgency.