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The Indian Awaaz (theindianawaaz.com) is a fast growing English news website based in New Delhi. Website covers Politics, Economy/Business, Entertainment, Health, Education, Technology, Fashion, Lifestyle, Stock Market, Commercial issues and much more. It has separate sections in Hindi and Urdu too.

Congress in quandary as FIR filed against Rahman Khan

While the BJP is euphoric jubilant the Congress which is battling corruption charges at the national level feels embarrassed following the state government FIR against Mr. Khan for an alleged fraud case on Thursday.

Budget session of parliament is beginning from February 21 and if he remained on the coveted chair of the august house, the opposition is all set to make it another big issue. Sources in the congress party said that Khan issue has created another headache for the party. “We are already facing a lot of trouble. The Rahman Khan issue has only added to our woes”, said a senior congress leader adding that it is up to Mr. Khan as how he convinces the party   high command in his defence.   

Khan however strongly denied any fraud in the matter. He said that filing an FIR without giving any notice or opportunity to him to explain any allegation ‘was a deliberate attempt to tarnish my image’. He said that the complaint relates to what transpired in 1996 and 2000. He said that filing the FIR  after a gap of 11-15 years is prima facie untenable.

Armed with its inquiry report, the  state Cooperative Department got an FIR registered against Khan and two others on charges of financial irregularities to the tune of Rs 102.02 crore in the alleged loan scam in Amanat  Cooperative Bank. The complaint was registered with the Commercial Street police on Wednesday.

Karnataka Cooperative Department, has accused Khan of granting loan of Rs 57.66 crore to 48 fictitious characters when he was the chairman of the bank during 1989-2002.

According to minister for cooperation Laxman Savadi, the cooperative department’s joint registrar Sehar Banu had conducted an inquiry into alleged irregularities and submitted a report stating that the loss to the state exchequer was Rs 102.02 crore.

Savadi said “When Khan was president, he had sanctioned loans to benami names. After an inquiry, the total amount of the scam has been pegged at Rs 102.02 crore. Along with him, two others, Zia Ul Sharief, former president of the bank and A.A. Qatib, former director of the bank have also been booked under same sections.”
He also said that  a report would be sent to the Centre on the issue soon.

In its second inquiry report, the cooperation department had clearly maintained that irregularities were taken place between 2002 and 2005 when Zia Ul Sharief was the President and Rahman Khan was one of the directors of Amanath Cooperative Bank.

The complaint has also highlighted the administrative lapses like non calling of tenders, transfer of funds etc which was the responsibility of the then CEO.

Probe report:
* Wrongful transfer of money to Khan’s son, Maqsood Khan’s account, by PHR Developers – Rs 1.54 crore.
* Violation of RBI norms while waiving off loan amount under one time settlement scheme – Rs 28.25 crore.
* Sharief mismanaging his loan account – Rs 0.09 crore.
* Waiving of principal and interest amount of Qatib – Rs 0.09 crore.
* Sanctioning loan to NRI’s violating RBI norms – Rs 0.51 crore.
* Deposit of more amount to PHR Developers – Rs 8.37 crore.
* Violation of norms while sanctioning loan amount to City Towers and K. Farooq Ahmed – Rs 4.93 crore.

 

India to legislate Right to Food Act soon

The much hyped proposed Right to Food Bill had recently ran into rough weather with the PM’s Economic Advisory Committee turning down the proposal of the National Advisory Committee (NAC) over the magnitude of distribution of food. This brought the prime minister’s office in direct confrontation with the ruling Congress Party chief, Sonia Gandhi who heads the NAC.The PM’s Economic Advisory Committee was for targeting the poor while the NAC was for universal coverage. It has been proposed to distribute highly subsidized 35 kg foodgrains per family per month – rice at the rate of Rs 2 per kg and wheat at the rate of Rs 3 per kg.
Inaugurating the global conference on – Leveraging Agriculture for Improving Nutrition and Health – organized by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in New Delhi on Thursday, Dr Singh said : “Since malnutrition is particularly high amongst the poor and the vulnerable section, this needs to be supplemented by viable social safety nets. We are committed to soon bring before our Parliament a Right to Food Act which will seek to ensure this outcome.”
The Prime Minister also made a case for genetically modified (GM) crops by supporting Golden Rice. “I understand that research efforts have made it possible to bio-fortify some crops for better nutrition outcomes. Golden Rice containing beta carotene provides the calories as well as nutritional supplements that take care of several diseases associated with vitamin A deficiency,” he said.

He also said that multi-grain flour that mixes soybeans, oats and millets with wheat in different product combinations was yet another approach to meet the challenge of malnutrition.

Dr Singh called for a major revolution in agricultural marketing. He suggested that technological advances should be combined with sound policies and gave the instances of the successes of Green and White Revolutions in the country. The upcoming 12th Plan would focus on modernization of agricultural marketing with the involvement of the private sector.

He said that malnutrition was a complex process in which habits regarding feeding the new born babies, maternal and child health, and also water quality were at least equally important.

“Malnutrition is not only a consequence of poverty, it is also a cause of poverty. A malnourished child is more vulnerable to disease and less able to earn a leaving. The complexity of causes that underlie malnutrition calls for a multi-sectoral strategy to address the three key issues of availability, access and absorption”, the Prime Minister said.

He said that experience has shown that rapid growth in GDP in general and, even agriculture in particular, though necessary, was not sufficient to produce desirable nutritional and health outcomes among the socially and economically disadvantaged groups of the community.

“The complexity of causes that underlie malnutrition calls for a multi-sectoral strategy to address the three key issues of availability, access and absorption…..We need to address the issues of absorption of nutrition, health and hygiene, which in turn depend on many other factors such as the availability of clean drinking water, sanitation and also on the education and status of women in society,” the Prime Minister said.

He narrated the steps taken by India to address these complex issue by citing examples of Integrated Child Development Services, Mid-Day Meal Scheme for school children, implementation of Right to Education Act  to back Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (Universal Education Plan), National Rural Health Mission, Swajal Dhara for providing a time-bound programme for ensuring clean drinking water to all habitations and women participation in agriculture.

The National Food Security Mission launched a few years back was designed to promote the spread of best practices that would increase productivity of food grains in areas and states where there was scope for such increase and there indeed is scope for such increase. Additional location, specific interventions like Eastern Region Development Programme to address underlying constraints to agricultural productivity and market opportunities are being supported. The constraints of infrastructure, various climatic stresses like moisture, salinity and floods are also being addressed. Programmes for diversified agriculture including horticulture, dairy, fishery, poultry and emphasis on millets having high protein, fibre and mineral content have been launched.

The Food and Disaster Management Minister of Bangladesh, Dr Muhammad Abdur Razzaque  said that his country was implementing 60 food and non-food based targeted safety net programmes focusing on poor and the disadvantaged including women and children. The recently prepared Country Investment Plan articulates 12 prioritised programmes to help achieve the objectives in the medium term.

“I need to recall here that Official Development Assistance (ODA) to agriculture has been reduced to 4% in 2007 from 19% in the 1980s, which needs to be revamped. I would appeal to the international community to revive the spree of supporting research and innovation in agriculture through CGIAR front line research and researches of regional and national institutions,” he said.

Bangladesh’s Vision-2021 document has set, among others, the target of achieving self-sufficiency in food by 2021 and ensure a minimum of 2,122 k cal per person per day of food to all and bring down the poverty incidence to 15%.

He said that under SAARC, a number of  institutional frameworks and initiatives have been devised for improving food security and leveraging agriculture for improving nutrition.

Centre to reveal names of black money holders

Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium, appearing before a bench headed by Justice B Sudershan Reddy, said the government has issued show cause notices against the persons accused of having black money in foreign banks. The bench asked the government to ensure that Hasan Ali Khan, a Pune-based businessman, accused of stashing money in foreign banks, does not leave the country. The court was hearing a petition filed by noted lawyer Ram Jethmalani and some former bureaucrats seeking the court’s direction to the government to bring black money back to the country.

$41.99 bn defence deals in pipeline

The report suggests critical success factors based on analysis of the best global practices in the aerospace and defence industry. India’saerospace sector has emerged as the fastest-growing one in the world. The report goes on to suggest that the nascent industry has now a foothold to catapult into becoming a leading aerospace and defence hub.

The CII-KPMG study further says that indigenization of the industry and acquiring of advanced technologies will facilitate lowering of dependence on imports. Issues of supply chain integration, technological inferiority and funding are some of the needs to be addressed.

The CII-KPMG report was released by the Indian Minister of State for Defence, MM Pallam Raju at the ongoing 8th Aero India-2011 show in Bengaluru.

The Indian Defence Minister, AK Antony in his inaugural speech at Aero India-2011 had said  India aerospace industry has emerged as one of the fasted growing in the world and India was slated to become the hub for global aerospace industry. He said that the defence expenditure, currently at 2.5% of GDP, will increase over the next two decades. The CII-KPMG report vindicates India as one of the biggest markets for aerospace and defence.

KPMG Chief for India operation, Richard Rekhy says the Defence Procurement Policy (DPP) 2011 is a widely accepted, well planned document, reflecting the government’s commitment to forging international partnerships through expansion of offset policy.

HC reserves judgement on Sen

This development came after the High Court at Bilaspur heard all sides on three different dates beginning 24th of last month. Earlier the court heard the case presented by the state government. It may be mentioned here that the rights activist Dr. Vinayak Sen, currently undergoing life term handed down by a Sessions Court in Raipur on charges of sedition, had moved the High Court against the judgement.

Govt approves recapitalisation of rural banks

the Information and Broadcasting Minister Mrs. Ambika Soni said that the 1100 crore rupees share of the central government will be released as per the provisions made.  She added that a capacity building fund with the corpus of one hundred crore rupees will be set up in collaboration with NABAD for training, the rural bank staff and other reputed institutions. Mrs. Soni said another amount of seven hundred crore rupees will be provided as a contingency fund to meet the requirement of week regional rural banks particularly in north eastern and eastern region.

The Union Cabinet has also approved a proposal for providing central sales tax laws related compensation to the States incurred in the current fiscal.
In another decision the Cabinet decided to amend the existing Press and Registration of Books Act. The objective is to streamline the age old processes and to address certain issues concerning print media policy and guidelines. It also proposes to make filing of annual statements by publishers compulsory and has provisions to limit on foreign news content and foreign investments.

The Union Cabinet Thursday approved the proposal to move a necessary amendment in the coin age bill 2009.  The changes in the Bill will be made as per the requirements says an official press release and the revised bill will be reintroduced in Parliament.

High-powered committee to review ISRO–Devas deal

The two-member Committee, headed by B K Chaturvedi, Member, Planning Commission, will review the technical, commercial, procedural and financial aspects of the Agreement between Antrix and Devas Multimedia Pvt. Ltd. The panel will also review the adequacy of procedures and approval processes followed by Antrix, ISRO and Department of Space, and suggest improvements and changes. The Committee has been asked to submit its recommendations to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh within one month. Singh is minister incharge of Department of Space.

Talking to media here Thursday, the Information and Broadcasting Minister, Mrs. Ambika Soni said that the Secretary, Department of Space, Dr. K. Radhakrishnan Thursday briefed the Prime Minister and the Cabinet members on the contract between the Commercial arm of ISRO Antrix and the private company Devas Multi-Media for developing applications. The Minister also said that that the committee has been asked to submit reports within a month. The committee has two members, Mr. B.K. Chaturvedi and Mr. Narasimhan

Meanwhile Devas Multimedia, who has reportedly struck a deal with Antrix for S-band spectrum Thursday said that the company had all appropriate approvals from the government for its business. Devas President and CEO Ramachandran Viswanathan said it still has the legally binding agreement with Antrix Corporation and was awaiting delivery of the contracted space segment capacity from ISRO. He said Devas has secured appropriate approvals from the government related to conducting its business.

Black money, blackens Indian democracy

This is happening in the backdrop of a situation where farmers are committing suicide; rural people are in distress, poor becoming poorer, people losing their livelihood. Few are, of course, becoming rich through largescale corruption amounting to millions of rupees, evasion of tax payment and stashing away ill-gotton money in German and Swiss banks in Liechtenstein Island. Such is the paradox of the day.

Another paradox is money laundering leading to foreign funding of terrorist activities in the country. Terrorists are also funded through fake currency and resources mobilised through drug trafficking.

The government’s premier investigating agency, CBI is engaged in a cover up game and the government has no guts to allow free and fair investigation by a Joint Parliamentary Committee.

The political leaders have failed to give a proper leadership in a crusade against corruption and price rise. Perhaps the nation is waiting when the people will come out in the streets on their own as has been in Egypt. If such a thing can happen in a dictatorship, then why not in a democracy?

The ill-gotten money is now being stashed away in 15 banks in Liechtenstein Island, out of which seven are Swiss. Noted lawyer, Ram Jethmalani who has filed a PIL in the Supreme Court has estimated $1500 billion illegally stashed away in LGT and other foreign banks. The Global Financial Integrity has estimated the amount at $462 billion.

According to Jethmalani if the total ill-gotton money is brought back it would wipe out all the debts of the country, each family would get Rs 2.5 lakh each and there would be a tax-free Budget for next 30 years.

The government, however, has the details of depositors of the ill-gotton money and is unwilling to make it public claiming that the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement with Germany would come in the way of making the information public. If this is so, then why the government in a democracy should strike an agreement with any other country which compels it to withhold informations of genuine public importance and concern.

The government has submitted the documents to the apex court under a sealed cover and has requested not to disclose the contents to the petitioner. But the government’s contention is being challenged as Liechtenstein island is an independent principality – monarchy – in Europe and the DTAA with Germany would not come in the way of public disclosure if the government opts to source information directly from Liechtenstein Monarchy.

Other view is that the DTAA should not come in the way when transactions concerned only Indians. DTAA comes into play when transactions are between German and Indian entities.

The US Administration has recently been successfully in getting back the ill-gotton money from these banks. Why can’t India garner this courage and competence?

The Union finance minister, Pranab Mukherjee claims that India has begun playing a proactive role in the global crusade against illicit funds. But no concrete action is seen on the ground.

He says that India played an active role in finalizing the Declarations of G-20 Finance Ministers Meetings in London and Pittsburg which included delivering an effective programme of peer review, capacity building and counter measures to tackle non-cooperative jurisdictions that fail to meet regulatory standards. As a result, all the tax havens have now agreed to end the bank secrecy. They have also agreed for not applying the principle of dual criminality while exchanging information for tax purposes.  Countries are also willing to enter into Tax Information Exchange Agreements in the absence of a tax treaty.

India is playing a very active role as a Vice Chair of the Peer Review Group of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for tax purposes and making a positive contribution. It also joined the Task Force on Financial Integrity and Economic Development in order to bring greater transparency and accountability in the financial system.

It has joined as the 34th member of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on  June 25, 2010. FATF membership is important as it will help India to build the capacity to fight terrorism and trace terror funds and to successfully investigate and prosecute money laundering and terrorist financing offences.

India on December, 15, 2010 gained membership of the Eurasian Group (EAG), which is a Financial Action Task Force (FATF) styled regional body, responsible for enforcing global standards on anti-money laundering (AML) and combating the financing of terrorism (CFT) in the Eurasian region. The Eurasian Group is strategically and geopolitically important for India to fight financing of terrorism and money laundering through drug trafficking and fake Indian currency notes. India is actively participating as an Observer in OECD and is also a member of the UN Tax Committee and Sub-Committee on Transfer Pricing.

But where is the action on the ground to book the culprits, Mr Finance Minister?  Mere membership of global bodies will not help unless action is backed by sincerity and determination…….

India has Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements (DTAAs) with 79 countries, but as many as 74 DTAAs needs to be modified to broaden the scope of the articles of exchange of information to include that on banking transaction. This show that how DTAAs were drafted and signed without proper homework.

Letters have been issued to 65 countries for initiating the negotiations to modify the relevant articles in DTAAs. Ongoing negotiations with 9 countries has been put on the fast track.

In negotiating new DTAAs with 15 countries, attempts are being made to ensure that articles concerning exchange of information are in accordance with the international standards and specifically providing for exchange of banking information.

Two new DTAAs have been notified and in 11 more, negotiations have been completed and are in the advanced stage of finalization. Negotiations are in progress in another 2 DTAAs.

DTAA with Switzerland was signed on August, 30 2010 and is now before the Swiss Parliament for approval. Once the Swiss Parliament grants the approval, DTAA will become operational.

India has completed negotiations for 10 new Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEAs) with Bahamas, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Isle of Man, Cayman Islands, Jersey, Monaco, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Argentina and Marshall Islands out of 22 identified countries/jurisdictions. G-20 Communique has made mandatory the signing of TIEAs in case any country demands this instrument with low or no tax jurisdictions and countries.

To sum up, a total of 23 negotiations in line with international standards have been completed for DTAAs and 10 for TIEAs. In 31 cases, DTAA negotiations and in 5 cases, TIEA negotiations are in progress.

On June 1, 2009 the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) was amended whereby the predicate offences listed in the Schedule to the Act were substantially increased in terms of the Acts covered and sections covered under such Acts. This amendment has tremendously widened the scope of money laundering investigations by the Directorate. The provisions of the Act also allow for causing attachment of the tainted proceeds located abroad by requesting the foreign administrations through Letters of Request issued by competent courts. FIU-INDIA is fully functional now.

However, the existing transfer pricing provisions which were introduced in  2001 do not have detailed provisions as compared to transfer pricing provisions of developed countries. There is need to upgrade these transfer pricing provisions to meet the challenges of growing intangible economy and various complex cost sharing arrangements. DGIT (International Taxation) has constituted a committee to look into the issue of revising the transfer pricing provisions. The committee will submit its report by March 2011.  

The DGIT (International Taxation) is slated to formulate a strategy for swift and uniform application of law on international taxation and transfer pricing. A committee has also been constituted to formulate a strategy for proactive and comprehensive representation before AAR, Tribunal, High Court and the Supreme Court by February 2011.
The Finance Minister claims that the new Direct Tax Code Bill slated to be introduced in the Parliament would help to unearth black money in the country.

Recently overseas units of Income Tax office has been set up in 8 countries only namely, USA, UK, Netherlands, Japan, Cyprus, Germany, France and UAE to track illegal funds of Indians. These 8 offices will soon be functional. However till date only two Income-tax overseas units located in Mauritius and Singapore and these units are providing some valuable information. A dedicated Exchange of Information (EOI) Unit with direct access power is being created under the Foreign Tax Division of CBDT to ensure that the work of exchange of information is effectively carried out.

Much needs to be done in making the laws more effective for checking tax evasion and sources of illegal money both inside and outside the country. International agreements and bilateral agreements with countries should ensure that informations are made public in the best interests of democracy and effective actions taken to book the culprits.

 

Neighbourhood poses security challenges for India

Delivering the inaugural address at the 8th Aero India 2011 here, the Indian Defence Minister, AK Antony said : “India’s democratic credentials and a fast growing economy have convinced the world that it can play a responsible and a stabilizing role in the region.  India has always been a votary of peace.  Yet, violent disturbances in our immediate and extended neighbourhood pose security challenges for our nation and the region as a whole”.  

Saying that India was committed to rapid modernisation of its Armed Forces and equiping them with the state-of-the-art systems, equipment and platforms, he said : “Our current defence expenditure – 2.5% of its GDP, is consistent with our projected security requirements and is bound to increase over the next two decades”.

Antony called for joint ventures, public-private partnerships and licence production under transfer of technology  for the all-round development of Indian aerospace industry which which has emerged as the fastest growing in the world. The Hindustan Aeronautic Ltd is one company which has some rich experience in the field. Some other major companies have recently entered the fray, he said.

Over 40 foreign delegations are participating in the Aero India-2011.

“We have charted out a course to increase self-reliance in the defence sector by creating a strong industrial base in the country.  The recently released Defence Production Policy spells out the blueprint of the roadmap that we intend to follow.  We are encouraging our public and private sector industries to become active partners in this initiative.  I am sure that leading international aerospace companies will form long-term partnerships with the Indian industry”, Antony said.

He informed that India was fine tuning its Defence Procurement Procedure through periodic reviews to make it as transparent and efficient as possible. The scope of the existing Offset Policy Guidelines has been expanded to include civil aerospace, internal security, training and eligible products and services for the discharge of offset obligations

Aero India 2011 will showcase the latest international technology in the fields of military and civil aircraft, avionics and sub-systems, as well as radars in the defence and aerospace sector.  This event will further enhance India’s emergence as an attractive market and a key outsourcing hub for global aerospace firms.  India possesses all the essential ingredients – namely cost-effective manufacturing, skilled engineers, efficient organizations, the technology and software to do so.

Six Muslims acquitted in fake encounter case

Additional Sessions Judge Virender Bhat acquitted, Bashir Ahmed Shah, Saqib Rehman Nazir Ahmed Sofi, Hazi Gulam Moinuddin Dar, Abdul Majid Bhat, Abdul Qayoom Khan and Birender Kumar Singh who were arrested by the Delhi Police after a “fake encounter” in July 2005 here.

No encounter had taken place on the night of July 1. 2005, at all and an absolutely fake encounter has been projected.

“The story of the encounter was carefully scripted in the office of Special Staff, Delhi Police, Dhaula Kuan, by its main author Sub Inspector Ravinder Tyagi with the assistance of sub inspectors Nirakar, Charan Singh and Mahender Singh,” the ASJ said.

The prosecution told the court that accused Saqib Rehman, Nazir Ahmed Sofi, Gulam Moinuddin Dar and Bashir Ahmed Shah were arrested following a encounter near Gurgaon-Delhi road on July 1, 2005.

According to police version these four accused were in a car and on being asked to stop, they tried to flee and the police team overtook them and they were made to stop.

The prosecution said that the accused opened fire on the police team and after encounter, they were arrested by the police team and an army combat uniform, fake currency of Rs 50,000 and sketch of Palam Air Force station was recovered from their possession.

In its chargesheet, police claimed the accused persons disclosed that they were working on the directions of ISI of Pakistan.

Police also claimed that after the interrogation of the four, they arrested three others and recovered huge amount of fake currency notes, an AK-47 assault rifle, several magazines, and cartridges from them.

All the accused, however, claimed innocence before the court and said they have been falsely implicated in the case.

Accused Gulam Moinuddin Dar submitted to the court that he was involved in anti-militancy operations in Kashmir Valley and was instrumental in surrender of various militants before the police, but was falsely implicated in this case.