Archive for ‘rahul gandhi’

21/02/2019

‘PM has never given, only taken’: Rahul Gandhi slams Modi for denying ‘shaheed’ status to jawans

As the country mourned the Pulwama killings, there has been an increased demand for according ‘Shaheed’ status to the martyred jawans.

SNS Web | New Delhi | 

In a fresh attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack, Congress president Rahul Gandhi said the “jawans gave their lives but have been denied the ‘Shaheed’ status.

 

In strong words, the Congress president said the “PM has never given and only taken”.

In an indirect reference to the government allegedly supporting industrialists like Anil Ambani, as accused by the opposition, Gandhi tweeted, “Jawans give their lives but are denied the status of “Shaheed”. While this man has never given & only taken. He’s gifted 30,000Cr of their money & will live happily ever after. Welcome to Modi’s NEW INDIA”.

As the country mourned the Pulwama killings, there has been an increased demand for according ‘Shaheed’ status to the martyred jawans.

The CRPF jawans were addressed as martyrs in resolutions passed in various state assemblies to condemn the terror attack and to announce compensation for the bereaved families from the respective states.

While the Madhya Pradesh government announced compensation of Rs 1 crore, the Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand governments announced Rs 25 lakh each.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat also assured government jobs to one member from each family.

According to the set rules, the Central Government provides Rs 10 lakh as ex gratia for the death of jawans due to accidents in the course of duty or death due to terrorist acts in the line of duty. Apart from this, the wife of the dead jawan would receive a pension, which would go to parents if he is not married.

The government does not recognise the term ‘martyr’.

In December 2017, the government had informed the Central Information Commission that there was no term as ‘martyr’ or ‘shaheed’ in the army or the police. Instead, a soldier or policeman killed in action is called ‘battle casualty’ or ‘operations casualty’, respectively.

In 2016, the Ministry of Home Affairs informed the Lok Sabha that the word ‘martyr’ is not used in reference to any casualties from the Indian armed forces during battle.

Earlier in 2015 too, the Government had informed the Parliament that the term ‘shaheed’ or martyr is not defined “anywhere” and that there is no official order to accord the same to defence or paramilitary personnel.

The CAPFs like CRPF, BSF, ITBP, CISF, SSB and NSG have made representations to the Union Home Ministry that ‘shaheed’ salutation is being demanded by the personnel of these forces.

Source: The Statesman
Advertisements
16/02/2019

Political parties unite at all-party meet on Pulwama killings, slam Pak for supporting terror

Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad stated that the Opposition parties have informed the home minister that they would stand with the government to end terror in the country.

SNS Web | New Delhi | 

A resolution adopted by the all-party meeting chaired by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday condemned the cowardly terrorist attack on the CRPF convoy in Pulwama that left at least 44 jawans dead and over 45 seriously wounded.

The meeting was attended by leaders of the BJP government as well as opposition parties who unitedly expressed grief with the families of the bereaved.

The resolution also condemned terrorism in all forms as well as the support it was getting from across the border.

It further went on to say that “India has during the past three decades faced the menace of cross-border terrorism.”

In a direct attack at Pakistan, the resolution said, “terrorism in India has been actively encouraged by the forces across the border adding that India has displayed both firmness and resilience in dealing with these challenges”.

It said the entire nation speaks in one voice to express its determination to fight against terrorism.

“Today, we stand united in solidarity with our security forces in fighting terrorism and in defending the unity and integrity of India,” the resolution added.

The all-party meeting was held to brief top leaders of different parties on steps being taken by it to meet the challenge.

The meeting comes a day after Home Minister Rajnath Singh went to Kashmir to take stock of the situation.

Read | Rajnath announces curbs on civilian movement when convoys of security pass any area

The meeting was attended by Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma and Jyotiraditya Scindia of the Congress, Sudip Bandyopadhyay and Derek O’Brien of the TMC, Sanjay Raut of the Shiv Sena, Jithendra Reddy of the TRS, D Raja of the CPI, Farooq Abdullah of the National Conference, Ram Vilas Paswan of the LJP among others.

Naresh Gujral of the Akali Dal, Upendra Kushwaha of the RLSP and Jai Prakash Narayan Yadav are among others who are attending the meeting.

Addressing the media after the meet, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad stated that the Opposition parties have informed the home minister that they would stand with the government to end terror in the country.

“We stand with the government for unity and security of the nation and security forces. Be it Kashmir or any other part of the nation, Congress party gives its full support to the government in the fight against terrorism,” he said.

The opposition parties also requested the Home Minister to request the PM to meet the presidents of all national and regional parties, Azad said.

This was supported by other parties too, he added.

“We have also decided that there are many disagreements with the government, but for the sake of our country, security of all, we will stand with the government to end terror. The government has our support,” Azad said.

The Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) had claimed responsibility for the suicide attack.

Read | 44 CRPF jawans killed, nearly 45 injured in suicide attack in J-K’s Pulwama; JeM claims responsibility

A suicide bomber had rammed an SUV carrying 350 kg of explosives into a bus carrying the CRPF troopers in the deadliest attack in decades on security forces in Jammu and Kashmir.

India had earlier rejected Pakistan Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua’s claims denying her country’s links to the Pulwama terror attack, saying that JeM, which claimed responsibility for the attack on Thursday, is based in Pakistan, and the “links are clear and evident and for all to see”.

The External Affairs Ministry spokesperson on Friday termed as “preposterous” the demand for an investigation, saying there is a video of the suicide bomber declaring himself a member of the terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).

The spokesperson said India has not seen any constructive approach from Pakistan on bilateral relations and it has been sheltering terrorists and terror organisations such as JeM. He said Islamabad has not taken any action against such groups despite international demands.

India also demanded that Pakistan take immediate and verifiable action against terrorists and terror groups operating from territories under its control to create a conducive atmosphere in the region free of terror.

Political parties have closed ranks following the attack and have offered their support to the NDA government on its response on the matter.

Expressing solidarity with the Government of India and the security forces, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday condemned the dastardly attack.

Addressing a press conference, Rahul Gandhi said the type of violence unleashed against the soldiers was “disgusting”.

Refusing to comment on any other issue, Rahul Gandhi said this was a time of mourning, sadness and respect adding that the Congress is fully supporting the Government and the security forces.

Source: The Staesman
15/02/2019

Pulwama attack: India will ‘completely isolate’ Pakistan

India has said it will ensure the “complete isolation” of Pakistan after a suicide bomber killed 46 soldiers in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Federal Minister Arun Jaitley said India would take “all possible diplomatic steps” to cut Pakistan off from the international community.

India accuses Pakistan of failing to act against the militant group which said it carried out the attack.

This is the deadliest attack to hit the disputed region in decades.

Both India and Pakistan claim all of Muslim-majority Kashmir but only control parts of it.

An insurgency has been ongoing in Indian-administered Kashmir since the late 1980s and there has been an uptick in violence in recent years.

How will India ‘punish’ Pakistan?

India says that Jaish-e-Mohammad, the group behind the attack, has long had sanctuary in Pakistan and accuses its neighbour of failing to crack down on it.

It has called for global sanctions against the group and has said it wants its leader, Masood Azhar, to be listed as a terrorist by the UN security council.

Although India has tried to do this several times in the past, its attempts were repeatedly blocked by China, an ally of Pakistan.

Mr Jaitley set out India’s determination to hold Pakistan to account when speaking to reporters after attending a security meeting early on Friday.

He also confirmed that India would revoke Most Favoured Nation status from Pakistan, a special trading privilege granted in 1996.

Pakistan said it was gravely concerned by the bombing but rejected allegations that it was in any way responsible.

But after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a speech that those behind the attack would pay a “heavy price”, many analysts expect more action from Delhi.

After a 2016 attack on an Indian army base that killed 19 soldiers, Delhi said it carried out a campaign of “surgical strikes” in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, across the de facto border. But a BBC investigation found little evidence militants had been hit.

However analysts say that even if the Indian government wants to go further this time, at the moment its options appear limited due to heavy snow across the region.

map

How did the attack unfold?

The bomber used a vehicle packed with explosives to ram into a convoy of 78 buses carrying Indian security forces on the heavily guarded Srinagar-Jammu highway about 20km (12 miles) from the capital, Srinagar.

“A car overtook the convoy and rammed into a bus,” a senior police official told BBC Urdu.

It stands as the deadliest militant attack on Indian forces in Kashmir since the insurgency began in 1989.

The bomber is reported to be Adil Dar, a high school dropout who left home in March 2018. He is believed to be between the ages of 19 and 21.

Soon after the attack Jaish-e-Mohammad released a video, which was then aired on the India Today TV channel. In it, a young man identified as Adil Dar spoke about what he described as atrocities against Kashmiri Muslims. He said he joined the banned group in 2018 and was eventually “assigned” the task of carrying out the attack in Pulwama.

He also said that by the time the video was released he would be in jannat (heaven).

Dar is one of many young Kashmiri men who have been radicalised in recent years. On Thursday, main opposition leader Rahul Gandhi said that the number of Kashmiri men joining militancy had risen from 88 in 2016 to 191 in 2018.

India has been accused of using brutal tactics to put down protests in Kashmir – with thousands of people sustaining eye injuries from pellet guns used by security forces.

What’s the reaction?

“We will give a befitting reply, our neighbour will not be allowed to de-stabilise us,” said Prime Minister Modi.

Mr Gandhi and two former Indian chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir all condemned the attack and expressed their condolences.

The attack has also been widely condemned around the world, including by the US and the UN Secretary General.

The White House called on Pakistan to “end immediately the support and safe haven provided to all terrorist groups operating on its soil”.

Pakistan said it strongly rejected any attempts “to link the attack to Pakistan without investigations”.

What’s the background?

There have been at least 10 suicide attacks since 1989 but this is only the second suicide attack to use a car.

Prior to Thursday’s bombing, the deadliest attack on Indian security forces in Kashmir this century came in 2002, when militants killed at least 31 people at an army base in Kaluchak near Jammu, most of them civilians and relatives of soldiers.

At least 19 Indian soldiers were killed when militants stormed a base in Uri in 2016. Delhi blamed that attack on the Pakistani state, which denied any involvement.

The latest attack also follows a spike in violence in Kashmir that came about after Indian forces killed a popular militant, 22-year-old Burhan Wani, in 2016.

More than 500 people were killed in 2018 – including civilians, security forces and militants – the highest such toll in a decade.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars and a limited conflict since independence from Britain in 1947 – all but one were over Kashmir.

Who are Jaish-e-Mohammad?

Started by cleric Masood Azhar in 2000, the group has been blamed for attacks on Indian soil in the past, including one in 2001 on the parliament in Delhi which took India and Pakistan to the brink of war.

Most recently, the group was blamed for attacking an Indian air force base in 2016 near the border in Punjab state. Seven Indian security personnel and six militants were killed.

It has been designated a “terrorist” organisation by India, the UK, US and UN and has been banned in Pakistan since 2002.

However Masood Azhar remains at large and is reportedly based in the Bahawalpur area in Pakistan’s Punjab province.

India has demanded his extradition from Pakistan but Islamabad has refused, citing a lack of proof.

Source: The BBC

12/02/2019

PM Modi acted like middleman of Anil Ambani: Rahul Gandhi

The Congress has been repeatedly alleging a scam in the multi-crore Rafale fighter jet deal with France.

SNS Web | New Delhi | 

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of compromising on national security and called him a “middleman for Anil Ambani”.

Addressing a press conference on Tuesday in New Delhi, Gandhi, whose party has been repeatedly alleging a scam in the multi-crore Rafale fighter jet deal with France, cited a media report which said that Ambani met the French Defence Minister just days before the inking of the fighter jet deal.

“An email has come into light that states ‘A. Ambani visited the Minister’s office… Mentioned MoU in preparation and intention to sign during PM visit’. How is Anil Ambani meeting the French Defence Minister prior to PM’s visit?” Gandhi said while showing the email to media persons.

“Modi is under oath to protect secrets. He has given these secrets to Anil Ambani, who knew about the biggest defence deal in the world 10 days before. This in itself is criminal. This in itself will put the Prime Minister in jail,” Gandhi said.

Alleging that the PM has compromised with national security, Gandhi said, “Defence Minister says he doesn’t know about the new deal, whereas Anil Ambani is sitting in the French Defence Minister’s office saying PM will sign an MoU with him involved.”

“This is the breach of the Official Secrets Act. PM was working as the middleman for Anil Ambani,” he added.

“First, it (the deal) was a matter of corruption, now it is a matter of official secrets act. Investigation should begin immediately,” Gandhi demanded, reiterating that the new development is serious.

Rejecting the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report on the Rafale deal, Gandhi even went on raising a finger at the Supreme Court’s judgement based on that report.

“Supreme Court judgement is open to question. It does not have jurisdiction and has quoted the CAG report which does not exist,” he said.

A three-Judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had dismissed all the petitions calling for a probe in the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France.

According to a report published by The Indian Express on Tuesday, Anil Ambani visited then French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian’s office in Paris and had a meeting with his top advisers in March 2015. NDTV reported that Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence stated that the visit had nothing to do with Rafale but to discuss a Naval Utility Helicopter deal for which the government of India had issued a Request for Information in 2015.

Gandhi had on Monday slammed the PM for “facilitating loot” in the deal by removing the anti-corruption clause, as was reported by a daily.

Read More | PM Modi facilitated loot in Rafale deal: Rahul Gandhi

“Every defence deal has an anti-corruption clause. The Hindu has reported that the PM removed the anti-corruption clause. It is clear that the PM facilitated loot,” Gandhi told reporters outside the Andhra Bhawan in New Delhi where he came to support Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu’s protest against the Centre.

“NoMo anti corruption clause. The Chowkidar himself opened the door to allow Anil Ambani to steal 30,000 crore from the IAF,” Gandhi tweeted from his official handle using his “chowkidaar chor hai” jibe at the PM.

Congress members have been raising the matter since the start of the Winter Session of Parliament on 11 December, demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the Rafale deal.

Source: The Statesman
11/02/2019

Priyanka Gandhi on stage, Rahul says time to win Uttar Pradesh back

Rahul Gandhi,Congress president,Priyanka Gandhi Vadra
Congress president Rahul Gandhi, party general secretary (incharge of east UP) Priyanka Gandhi Vadra during a roadshow from the Chaudhary Charan Singh airport to the UPCC headquarters in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.(Subhankar Chakraborty/HT PHOTO)

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday underlined his party’s ambitions in Uttar Pradesh saying the party cannot afford to be weak in the state.

‘Congress started in UP and it cannot stay weak here. Priyanka Gandhi and Jyotiarditya Scindia will make Congress strong in UP again,’ Rahul said at headquarters in UP unit of the Congress in Lucknow at the end of a mammoth road show that his sister Priyanka launchedin her first visit to .the state sicne her appointment as c general secretary in charge of eastern U.P.

While the roadshow marked Priyanka’s formal entry into active politics, Rahul set his sight beyond the upcoming general elections to regain power in U.P.

‘Congress party has to form government in Uttar Pradesh.’

‘I respect Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav, but Congress will fight with all its might in Uttar Pradesh,’ Rahul said.

The Congress won two Lok Sabha seats in U.P. in 2014.

“In every defence deal there is a clause against corruption.Narendra Modi scrapped the corruption clause to benefit Anil Ambani,” he said.

He also accused the Prime Minister of ignoring farmers and favouring industrialists.

The Congress has consistently attacked the Modi government for not addressing farm distress in the country and the issue was one of the main election planks for the grand old party in the recent assembly elections in five states.

Source: Hindustan Times

11/02/2019

Congress will fight to transform Uttar Pradesh, nation: Rahul Gandhi

Urging Congress workers to “transform UP”, Rahul Gandhi said that PM Modi’s “hollow promises of have come to light”.

SNS Web | New Delhi | 

With an appeal to the people of Uttar Pradesh to bring the Congress to power at the Centre in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, party president Rahul Gandhi presented his party as the one that can bring a progressive government for farmers, Dalits, youth and the poor.

Addressing Congress supporters in Lucknow on Monday at the conclusion of a massive roadshow with Priyanka Gandhi and Jyotiraditya Scindia, the 48-year-old Gandhi said that there is need to empower grassroot leaders to help bring the party to power and fulfil the aspirations of the people.

Slamming the BJP-RSS, Gandhi said, “This is an ideological battle. On one hand there is the Congress ideology of love, harmony and brotherhood. On the other, there is BJP-RSS ideology of dividing and weakening the nation.”

Urging Congress workers to “transform UP”, Gandhi said that PM Modi’s “hollow promises of have come to light”.

“Congress workers must fight this battle with issues that concern the youth, farmers. There is no dearth of issues. Congress party will fight to transform UP and the nation,” he added, while assuring the supporters that the party will “play on the front foot”.

Criticising Narendra Modi over the promises he made, Gandhi said that the youth of the country believe that the Prime Minister has failed to fulfil them.

“Uttar Pradesh has witnessed what Narendra Modi did for the last 5 years in the country. Youth are saying that Modi failed his promise to provide employment and benefited only people like Anil Ambani,” he said.

Attacking the NDA government and PM Modi over the Rafale deal, in which the Congress smells a scam, Gandhi cited a series of media reports stating that the Defence Ministry expressed its strong reservations to the “parallel negotiations” conducted by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) with France on the multi-billion dollar fighter jet deal and that the government removed the anti-corruption clause from the Rafale fighter jet defence deal.

“Modi had said that he has a 56-inch chest. He wants to be a ‘Chowkidar’. The truth has now surfaced that he conducted parallel negotiations in the Rafale deal. The clause that enabled investigation in case of corruption, was waived off by Mr. Modi,” he said.

Also Read | Defence Ministry objected to PMO role in Rafale deal, says report; Rahul Gandhi slams PM Modi 

Earlier today, Gandhi had accused PM Modi of “facilitating loot” in the Rafale fighter jet deal with France.

“Every defence deal has an anti-corruption clause. The Hindu has reported that the PM removed the anti-corruption clause. It is clear that the PM facilitated loot,” Gandhi told reporters outside the Andhra Bhawan in New Delhi where he came to support Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu’s protest against the Centre.

Read More: PM Modi facilitated loot in Rafale deal: Rahul Gandhi

“NoMo anti corruption clause. The Chowkidar himself opened the door to allow Anil Ambani to steal 30,000 crore from the IAF,” Gandhi tweeted from his official handle using his “chowkidaar chor hai” jibe at the PM while attaching a report.

The report, published by The Hindu, stated that just days before it signed the Inter-governmental Agreement (IGA) for 36 Rafale fighter jets, the Centre had waived off critical provisions for anti-corruption penalties as well as overruled financial advisers’ recommendations for making payments through an escrow account.

Mega roadshow

Monday’s roadshow, which was witnessed by thousands in the city, marked the official entry of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra into active politics.

Appointed Congress general secretary of Uttar Pradesh East last month by her brother, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is being seen by Congress loyalists as a fortune changer for the grand old party in electorally powerful Uttar Pradesh.

From onboard an open top bus, Priyanka Gandhi, her brother Rahul, Scindia and Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee chief Raj Babbar were seen waving to a sea of supporters who had gathered to catch a glimpse of the leaders.

Read More: Priyanka Gandhi Vadra kicks off mega Lucknow roadshow with Rahul

The approximately 20-km long roadshow started from Amausi airport to the Nehru Bhawan office of the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee located a Mall Avenue near Hazratganj.

Ahead of her visit to the state, a group of party workers geared up to work as her “army”, complete with a pink uniform that has her photo and a message. They call themselves the ‘Priyanka Sena’.

Earlier on Sunday, in a message to party supporters and voters, Priyanka Gandhi said she hopes to start a “new kind of politics” in which “everyone will be a stakeholder”.

“… I have hope in my heart that together we will start a new kind of politics, a politics in which all of you will be stakeholders — my young friends, my sisters and even the weakest person, all their voices will be heard,” said Gandhi through the Congress’s Shakti App.

While Priyanka will concentrate on 42 seats of eastern UP, Scindia will focus on 38 seats of western UP.

Priyanka’s first meeting is scheduled with the workers of the Mohanlalganj (reserved) constituency while the last interaction slated for Thursday will be with the workers of the Misrikh (reserved) Lok Sabha seat.

UP East also has Varanasi, the parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Modi, and Gorakhpur, a stronghold of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

Source: The Statesman
03/02/2019

Seemanchal Express tragedy | Rail fracture may have caused derailment; PM Modi, Rahul Gandhi express grief

The Railways suspect rail fracture as the probable cause of the derailment of the Delhi-bound Seemanchal Express on Sunday morning that left at least seven dead and scores injured.

SNS Web | New Delhi | 

The Railways suspect rail fracture as the probable cause of the derailment of the Delhi-bound Seemanchal Express on Sunday morning that left at least seven dead and scores injured.

“Prima facie cause of Seemanchal Express accident is rail fracture of CMS  X-Ing at Barauni end of station yard,” Rajesh Kumar, the Chief Public Relations Officer of the East-Central Railway, was quoted as saying by ANI.

The exact reason behind the accident will be unearthed after the Commission of Railway Safety (CRS) concludes its investigation into the derailment.

Eleven coaches of the train went off the rails before dawn near Sahadai Buzurg in Vaishali district at a time when most passengers were deep in sleep.

Kumar said that the 12 unaffected coaches are being moved to Hajipur where more coaches will be attached before the train moves to its original destination at Anand Vihar Terminal railway station (ANVT) near New Delhi.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar were among those who expressed grief at the loss of lives.

“Deeply anguished by the loss of lives due to the derailment of coaches of the Seemanchal Express. My thoughts are with the bereaved families. May the injured recover quickly. Railways, NDRF, and local authorities are providing all possible assistance in the wake of the accident,” wrote PM Modi on Twitter.

Narendra Modi

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar also directed the state administration to provide all assistance in the rescue and relief operation.

He announced a compensation of Rs 4 lakh each to the kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to the injured.

A statement from Railway Minister Piyush Goyal’s office said that the Minister is in touch with Railway Board members and GM ECR regarding the accident.

The Indian Railways also announced that ex gratia Rs 5 lakh each will be given to the kin of the deceased while Rs 1 lakh would be given to the grievously injured and Rs 50,000 to those who have suffered simple injuries. The Railways will also bear medical expenses.

Read More: Seven killed as 11 coaches of Delhi-bound train derail in Bihar

Rajesh Kumar said that one general coach, one AC coach (B3), three sleeper coaches (S8, S9, S10) and four more coaches derailed between 3-4 am near Shadai Buzurg railway station in Vaishali district.

The train, number 12487, was running at full speed when it derailed.

Officials fear that the death toll might increase as many are still trapped inside the derailed coaches.

Locals were the first to respond to the accident site. People were seen trying to rescue those trapped inside the derailed coaches before a massive rescue operation was launched involving personnel from NDRF and police.

NDRF personnel went in through broken windows to scan the insides of the overturned coaches for those trapped. Sniffer dogs, too, were deployed to help in the rescue mission.

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter
The teams of doctors were rushed from nearby Sonpur and Barauni.
The Railways has also issued help line numbers – Sonpur 06158221645, Hajipur 06224272230 and Barauni 06279232222.
Source: The Statesman
29/01/2019

Is Rahul Gandhi’s minimum income guarantee for India’s poor viable?

India's poorImage copyrightAFP
Image captionMillions of Indians remain vulnerable to income shocks

India’s opposition Congress Party has promised to guarantee a minimum income for the country’s poor if it wins the upcoming summer elections.

So will this scheme be a game-changer and bolster the fortunes of the Congress party? (There are rumours that the BJP is primed to announce a similar scheme soon) Or does it risk becoming a handout, fuelled by populism, mired in confusion and blighted by misallocation?

The details of the minimum income plan will be only revealed in the party manifesto, which is due soon.

To be sure, this is not is an Universal Basic Income, where the idea is that everyone gets a fixed income from the state without any conditions, even if they start full or part-time work. (Last April, Finland decided not to expand a two-year limited pilot in paying 2,000 randomly chosen people a basic income, which had drawn much international interest.)

The Congress’s scheme essentially promises a basic income support for India’s poorest households after fixing an income eligibility threshold. It is also likely to be progressive in nature: if the household is entitled to, say 50,000 rupees ($700; £534) a year, and it already earns 30,000 rupees, it will receive 20,000 rupees as income support. So the poorer the family, the more income support it will get.

Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee, a professor of economics at MIT, told me that there is “a lot of sympathy for the minimum income guarantee in purely ethical terms”. But, he says, there will be a lot of challenges in implementing it in a vast and complex country like India.

India's poorImage copyrightAFP
Image captionThe gap between the rich and poor has widened in India

For one, what happens to India’s massive rural employment guarantee programme? The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGA) also promises a minimum income to every rural household by providing at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year. Will the new scheme also count income from the rural programme? What happens if someone stops going for rural work?

More generally, who will be too rich to become a beneficiary? If a resident simply stops working and therefore becomes poorer, should the person be eligible for the scheme? More pointedly, who should become eligible for the money, and based on what data? (There are various estimates on the exact number of poor in India, and the counts have been embroiled in controversy.)

“Our research suggests this is where the poor often lose out and the less poor make hay, partly – but probably not mostly – because of corruption, but also because the less poor are better at figuring out how to make claims,” says Prof Banerjee.

Then there’s the problem of what economists call the “moral hazard” – undue risks that people could take if they don’t have to bear the consequences of it.

‘Lack of incentive’

Welfare schemes, many economists believe, can end up trapping people in poverty. One criticism of guaranteed income support is that it reduces the incentive to work – generations of families stay on welfare in the US because there’s no incentive to come out of it.

Economist Vivek Dehejia wonders whether something similar could happen with this scheme. “If you fix a household income eligibility threshold of 10,000 rupees a month to be eligible for income support, what incentive do you have rise above it,” he says.

There are also questions about where India will find the money to support such a scheme – we are talking about hundreds of millions of eligible families who will have to be paid.

India already has more than 900 federally funded schemes – like cheap food, fertiliser subsidies, rural jobs guarantee, crop insurance, student scholarships – accounting for about 5% of the GDP by budgetary allocation. Many of these schemes are marred by leakage, wastage, exclusion of the eligible, and even fraud.

Economists wonder whether the vast amount of money required for the new income scheme will come from pruning subsidies and existing welfare schemes, which are always politically difficult.

“A lot thinking and working has gone into the income scheme,” Praveen Chakravarty, head of the data analytics department of the Congress party, told me. “It is fiscally doable without drastic reduction of existing welfare schemes”.

India's poorImage copyrightAFP
Image captionGuaranteed basic income is intended to pull more people out of poverty

So the plan is to apparently find money for it through expenditure reduction (trimming wasteful government expenditure?) and “new revenue streams” (new taxes?). Both are going to be daunting tasks.

Vivek Dehejia says the scheme would make financial sense if it subsumes other welfare schemes and subsidies. Otherwise, he says, it will “become another handout, and will not help fix India’s poorly sorted out welfare architecture”.

Clearly, the scheme, inspired in part by the Brazil’s Bolsa Familia or Family Grant to lift people out of poverty will also reignite the debate over cash transfers to the poorest, who, some believe, often do not have enough fiscal knowledge and information to handle money. However. the Indian scheme will be unique because Bolsa Familia is a conditional transfer of money

Test for the state

Supporters of cash transfers say they reduce poverty, give the poor the choice to spend as they think best, targets better, and acts as a buffer against shocks. It also improves financial inclusion, and by helping the poor to consume more, boosts the GDP. Other economists, most notably Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, believe that people in a market driven economy will spend more on private education and healthcare if the state gives them a minimum income.

Any which way, handing out guaranteed income in a vast and complex country in India will remain a formidable challenge, irrespective of the government in the power. It will be a test for the Indian state.

29/01/2019

‘Is this promise also fake’: Mayawati on Rahul’s income guarantee plank

Mayawati,Rahul Gandhi,Minimum Income Guarantee
Hitting out both at the Congress and ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Mayawati drew a parallel between the promise made by Rahul Gandhi with those made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi before coming to power in 2014.(PTI)

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati took a dig on Tuesday at Congress president Rahul Gandhi over his “minimum income guarantee” promise made at a public rally in Chhattisgarh on Monday. Taking a swipe at the Congress president, Mayawati questioned if “this promise also a fake one like Gareebi Hatao’.

Hitting out both at the Congress and ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Mayawati drew a parallel between the promise made by Rahul Gandhi with those made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi before coming to power in 2014.

“Is this promise also a fake one like ‘Gareebi hatao’ and current government’s promises on black money, 15 lakh and achhe din? Both the Congress and the BJP have failed, and proved to be two sides of the same coin,” Mayawati was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

Earlier addressing a public rally in Chhattisgarh, Rahul Gandhi had promised that if voted to power in 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress government would announce the scheme to ensure minimum income guarantee to all the poor people in the country. He pitched this promise as the main poll plank of the Congress party.

“The Congress-led government is going to give minimum income guarantee. This means, every poor person in India will have a minimum income. This means there will be no hungry, poor people in India,” Rahul Gandhi said.

The announcement by the Congress president only four days ahead of the Narendra Modi government presents interim budget before the Lok Sabha polls likely to be held in April-May this year. The statement also followed the decision by the Modi government to give 10 per cent reservation in jobs and education to the poor among the unreserved, otherwise called the general category, people.

 

Following the tie-up between the BSP and the SP, the Congress party appointed Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the sister of party president Rahul Gandhi as the general secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh East in a move that aimed at galvanising the ground-level workers of the party. Senior Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia was given the charge of Uttar Pradesh West.

Rahul Gandhi later said that Priyanka Gandhi and Scindia had a specific target of forming the next government led by the Congress in Uttar Pradesh. The state would hold assembly elections in 2022. But before that the Congress faces a stiff task in Uttar Pradesh during the Lok Sabha elections.

Source: Hindustan Times
15/01/2019

Rahul Gandhi’s swipe at PM Modi over award, Smriti Irani returns compliment

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the first recipient of the Philip Kotler Presidential award on Monday.

INDIA Updated: Jan 15, 2019 14:43 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Rahul Gandhi,Congress,Narendra Modi
Congress president Rahul Gandhi has been relentless in his attacks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over a range of issues.(REUTERS FIle Photo))

Congress president Rahul Gandhi today took a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi who received the Philip Kotler Presidential award on Monday saying he wanted to “congratulate” him on winning “the world famous” prize that has no jury and has never been given out before.

The award focuses on the triple bottom-line of ‘people, profit and planet’. It will be offered annually to the leader of a nation, a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said. According to the award citation, Modi was selected for his “outstanding leadership for the nation”.

Rahul Gandhi

@RahulGandhi

I want to congratulate our PM, on winning the world famous “Kotler Presidential Award”!

In fact it’s so famous it has no jury, has never been given out before & is backed by an unheard of Aligarh company.

Event Partners: Patanjali & Republic TV 🙂https://thewire.in/business/modi-wins-first-ever-philip-kotler-presidential-award-but-what-is-it-exactly 

Modi Wins ‘First-Ever’ Philip Kotler Presidential Award – But What Is it?

Top BJP leaders praised the PM for winning a prize with no disclosed jury or process – from a marketing group whose organisers ducked questions, calling it “a very confidential award”.

thewire.in

9,074 people are talking about this

The Congress chief’s dig at the PM evoked a sharp response from Union textiles minister Smriti Irani who accused the Gandhi family of conferring Bharat Ratna awards on its members.

Law of Unintended Consequences

continuously updated blog about China & India

ChiaHou's Book Reviews

continuously updated blog about China & India

What's wrong with the world; and its economy

continuously updated blog about China & India