Friday, February 28, 2014

Leaders from UP, MP, Gujarat join AIADMK

 Signalling its pan-India expansion, members of various parties from Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat joined ruling AIADMK in the presence of party supremo and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.
An AIADMK release said that, a total of 201 leaders and members of parties such as Congress, Samajwadi Party and Janata Dal (U) from Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh received AIADMK membership cards from Ms. Jayalalithaa at the party headquarters in Chennai.
Uttar Pradesh JD (U) unit general secretary Rakesh Kumar; NCP leader Yogendra Kumar Pandey; Samajwadi Party Muzaffarnagar district secretary Bhopal Shaini; and UPCC member Sanjay Shaini were among those who joined the AIADMK and the initiative for this was taken by party Rajya Sabha MP V. Maithreyan, it said.
This development comes amid calls for a larger national role for Ms. Jayalalithaa after the Lok Sabha elections and days after she unveiled her party’s manifesto assuring to increase IT exemption limit to Rs. 5 lakh and implement various freebies being extended in Tamil Nadu to the entire country if it is elected to be part of the next government.

Besides its base of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, the AIADMK has state units in Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Further, as many as 300 members of DMDK, PMK and Congress in the state also joined the AIADMK, the release said. Ms.Jayalalithaa asked the new comers to cooperate and work with her in ensuring ‘peace, prosperity and progress for the entire nation’, which is AIADMK’s poll plank for the coming Lok Sabha polls.

To school and back – on a boat

While children travelling by bus or walking to school is common, here is a group that takes a boat from across the boundary. Over 150 children of Irukkam, a coastal village of Nellore district in Andhra Pradesh, spend two hours every day travelling by boat across the Pulicat Lake to reach their schools in the Tiruvallur district of Tamil Nadu. Their families depend on fishing for a livelihood.
They study at government schools, panchayat union schools and a private school in the coastal villages in the Gummidipoondi taluk of Tiruvallur. S. Prakash, a class X student of Government Higher Secondary School said that, his village has only Telugu-medium primary schools. A majority of the families in Irukkam village  are Tamil-speaking and are not familiar with Telugu. Hence want to study in Tamil schools. That is why students come to schools in Tamil Nadu. Prakash has been travelling by boat right from class II and wants to pursue computer science engineering in a college in Tamil Nadu. There are many like him, including girls, who do not mind the distance and mode of transport. The youngest is Charumathi, a LKG student.

The boat ride comes with risks. Many children sit on the edges of the mechanised boat throughout the hour-long journey. They have to walk nearly 1.5 km to and from the shore, wading through ankle-deep water, even knee-deep water in certain places.
A boatman and a resident said that they travel by boat for nearly seven km. Once reached, the children walk in water and it is sad to see their uniforms getting wet in the morning. They also said that, there is 5 feet deep water throughout the travel. It becomes difficult when it rains midway.

Everyday, the children’s journey begins at 7.30 a.m. from Irukkam. The return journey starts at 5 p.m. Once all students assembled, their journey (thirst for education) begins. They cannot come to school when it rains heavily. While students from class I to VIII pay Rs. 50 every month as boat charges, others pay Rs. 90.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Jaya woos investors

 Unwilling to let BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi appropriate the mantle of a growth crusader, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa pitched in, saying the state had received higher incremental investments under her governance, even more than Gujarat.
Addressing a gathering of industrialists after unveiling new industrial, auto and biotech policies, she said, “According to CMIE (Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy), incremental investment attracted by Tamil Nadu between June 2011 and January 2014 is 1,46,800 crore. Tamil Nadu has achieved 18.2% growth in investments, higher than states like Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka.”
The government showcased agreements with 16 businesses keen to establish operations in the state. The memoranda of understanding signed at the event signify commitments worth 5,081 crore and may help shore up the sagging image of TN as an investment destination.

Wanting to be seen as a serious contender on the national scene, and not a regional satrap, Jayalalithaa said, “I have a vision for India in which Tamil Nadu will play a key role — a vision of a resurgent India, a nation with an inclusive society and open markets, a nation of enterprise and creativity driven by knowledge and shaped by family values, a nation of growth with equity, a nation with peace, stability and development, a modern, secular and prosperous India. I want to assure you all that this day is not far.”
The audience had a galaxy of businessmen, including Venu Srinivasan of TVS, Rafeeque Ahmed of Farida Group, Kris Gopalakrishnan of Infosys, Ficci president Sidharth Birla and Rana Kapoor of Yes Bank.
The CM’s pitch to investors was the first in more than a year. The last time she reached out to corporate India was in 2012 when she interacted with a slew of businesses and signed up agreements worth 26,625 crore.

Monday, February 24, 2014

As birthday cake, Jayalalitha gets Parliament on a platter, literally

The supporters of AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa, who has already gone public with her ambition of becoming the country's next Prime Minister, signaled their determination to help her realise her goal by cutting a giant Parliament-shaped cake in the party headquarters at Chennai this afternoon to celebrate her 66th birthday.
Seeking to gain a headstart over her rivals, Ms Jayalalithaa simultaneously announced the names of her party's candidates for all the 40 Lok Sabha constituencies from Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.
Her supporters had started gathering in the AIADMK headquarters in Chennai since early this morning. The selection of the shape of the cake was symbolic, as it conveyed the message that they were serious about getting Puratchi Thalaivi, or the Revolutionary Leader as she is fondly called by her fans in Tamil, installed in 7, Race Course Road, the official residence of the Indian prime minister. It was cut in the presence of the Tamil Nadu chief minister. The party cadre organized a string of charity work across the state  to mark the occasion. "The cake symbolizes Amma would be the next prime minister. We are happy," gushed a senior party leader Anwar Raja who's also a candidate.

Releasing the list of AIADMK candidates for the 39 Lok Sabha constituencies from Tamil Nadu and the lone Puducherry seat, Ms Jayalalithaa announced that she would flag off her party's campaign for the general election on March 3 from the temple town of Kanchipuram. "Our slogan is peace, prosperity and progress," she told her followers.
In the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the AIADMK had won 9 of the 39 Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu, but she has set her sight higher this time round. She has already forged alliances with the CPM and CPI, which won a seat each five years, and have pockets of influence in and around the industrial towns of Coimbatore and Madurai. Seat-sharing talks with the two Left parties are going on, and the AIADMK would withdraw its candidates from the seats allocated to the two alliance partners.

She refused to offer her comment of the Supreme Court's decision to stay her government's decision to release the seven Rajiv Gandhi assassination case convicts, arguing that the matter was sub-judice. On the centre's review petition  challenging her cabinet's decision to release all seven convicts she just said," The Centre has written to us and we would counter it. Whatever is required we would legally do it at the Supreme Court. We can't talk about this as the issue is in court."

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Telangana finally

Special Category Status for Seemandhra for 5 years
Resource gap in successor state of Andhra Pradesh in first year will be compensated in regular Union Budget for 2014-2015
Hyderabad will be the joint capital for both the States for ten years

Lok Sabha and Assembly Seats

Lok Sabha
Assembly Seats

How the 15th LS fared?

Bills Passed
Bills Not Passed
Right to Education
Anti-Rape law
Whistleblower Protection
Food Security Bill
Unorganised Workers’ Bill

Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, 2012
Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013
Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services Bill, 2011
Prevention of Bribery of Foreign Officials Bill, 2011
Public Procurement Bill, 2012

A look at how various Lok Sabha fared on Bills
Lok Sabha
(Term, Elected Year)
Bills Introduced
 (LS +RS)
Bills Passed
(LS +RS)
Bills Lapsed (End of each LS term)
I (1952)
II (1957)
III (1962)
IV (1967)
V (1971)
VI (1977)
VII (1980)
VIII (1984)
IX (1989)
X (1991)
XI (1996)
XII (1998)
XIII (1999)
XIV (2004)
XV (2009)

15th Lok Sabha comes to an end

A day after Parliament passed the contentious Telangana Bill, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the country had the capacity to rise above partisan politics to enact crucial laws in the national interest. Dr. Singh said in his closing remarks in the Lok Sabha (on Feb 21, 2014), the last day of the 15th Lok Sabha that, the passage of the Telangana Bill indicated that this country can take difficult decisions. The House was later adjourned sine die. Dr. Singh hoped that a new sense of consensus would emerge “out of this strife and tension that prevailed in the atmosphere at times.”
In his speech, Leader of the House Mr. Sushilkumar Shinde said members from the government and the Opposition might vociferously vent their differences inside Parliament, but these sentiments were not carried outside. Appreciating the Opposition, particularly the Leader of the Opposition Ms. Sushma Swaraj, Mr. Shinde said they took together decisions on a number of landmark laws. He also drew the attention of the House over the manner in which the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act was passed unanimously.
As she spoke for the last time, Ms. Swaraj praised UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi for her gracefulness and BJP leader L.K. Advani, whose eyes welled up, for his judiciousness. She said when the 15th Lok Sabha’s history was written, it would say that while there were the most interruptions, much-awaited Bills were also passed. Speaker Meira Kumar said she was pained by the frequent disruptions, and hoped that logic would replace pandemonium.
 While 23% of the Bills passed by the Parliament in the 15th Lok Sabha were discussed for more than 3 hours, 18% were passed with less than 5 minutes of discussion

  • In an embarrassment, ex-Rail Minister Mr. Dinesh Trivedi’s budget rolled back, had to quit office.
  • Mega graft cases ruled the House: 2G, CWG, Coalgate, Railways Promotion, Tatra trucks Agusta Wsetland Chopper, Antrix-Devas, Adarsh and others

Big Guns’ Report Card:-

L. K. Advani
Sushma Swaraj
Sonia Gandhi
Rahul Gandhi
Questions Asked

Multi Super Specialty Hospital

After overcoming legal hurdles and addressing a host of re-engineering issues, the multi super-specialty hospital on the Omandurar Government Estate was formally inaugurated by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa through video conferencing (on Feb 21, 2014).
Established at a cost of about Rs. 143 crore, the hospital has come up at the site where the Assembly and a section of the Secretariat functioned during 2010-2011. Originally built for the Assembly and a host of offices meant for the Chief Minister, Cabinet ministers and some government departments, the building, which now houses the hospital, has a plinth area of 10 lakh sq ft.
On Ms. Jayalalithaa’s return to power in May 2011, the Secretariat moved back to Fort St. George. In August that year, she announced that the building on the estate would be used to accommodate a multi super-specialty hospital.

The hospital has super-specialties such as cardiology, cardiothoracic wing, neuro surgery, vascular surgery, reconstructive hand micro surgery, medical and surgical oncology and neurology, besides units for blood transfusion, post-operative care, intensive care and radio diagnosis. There are 14 operation theatres — two each on the ground and first floors and four each on the fifth and sixth floors. For the benefit of patients, two ramps have been provided, from the sixth floor to the ground floor. In addition to 300 toilets, an additional 212 toilets have been constructed.
The hospital has facilities including cardio cathlab, neruo cathlab, and digital X-ray, MRI and CT scan, in addition to 20 dialysis units. A computerised hospital management information system is in place. Two hundred intercoms and five hundred local telephone connections are available. Each floor has a battery-operated car, apart from a 11-seater car for movement outside the hospital. Two canteens, one on the ground floor for caregivers and another on the third floor, have been set up. Clinical nutritionists are in place to provide specialised patient diet. There are about 160 CCTVs. For maintenance and security, the services of 150 persons are being utilised through outsourcing. Mechanical sweepers are being employed, said a senior official.

Initially, posts for 83 doctors and 232 paramedical staff have been created. Another building on the estate, now being remodelled for a medical college, is likely to be ready in a year.

TN Industrial Policy 2014

According to the Tamil Nadu Industrial Policy 2014 released recently, automobile and auto components sector, renewable energy equipment manufacturing industries, aerospace industry and bio-technology and pharmaceutical sector will be given special thrust by the government.
Stating that they were priority sectors, the policy document said specific policies aimed at creating enabling infrastructure and offering special incentives had been formulated. Further, aerospace industry would be given special importance.
The objectives of the new industrial policy – fourth in the post-liberalisation era in Tamil Nadu with the previous policies released in 1992, 2003 and 2007 – include positioning the State as the most preferred for manufacturing, with a reputation for efficiency and competitiveness. It seeks to attract incremental investments of over 10 per cent every year in manufacturing, to create employment opportunities for an additional two million people by 2016, double exports in another two years and to achieve rapid industrialisation of the southern districts. The approach to be adopted includes provision of world class infrastructure, improving the quality of human resources and providing incentives to the investors.

Apart from releasing the industrial policy, the first copy of which was received by CII president Kris Gopalakrishnan, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa also released the Tamil Nadu Automobile and Auto Components Policy 2014 and Tamil Nadu Biotechnology Policy 2014.
With the policy on automobile and auto components, first of its kind, Tamil Nadu wants to retain the State’s leadership position to enhance its competitive edge and to address the critical issues faced by the industry.
The biotechnology policy’s objective is to take up a detailed inventory of the bio-resources in the State and to attract research and development institutions and manufacturing firms by implementing various measures, include developing high quality infrastructure.
Ms. Jayalalithaa said the new industrial policy would further strengthen Tamil Nadu competitiveness as a world class manufacturing hub and herald a new era of industrialisation. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Pardon to Rajiv Gandhi killers: Jaya's master stroke, Centre in a fix

 It is Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa's masterstroke. Jayalalithaa has now put the ball in the Centre's court by ordering the release of all 7 Rajiv Gandhi killers from jail. She has given just three days' time to the Centre to ratify the decision. The Centre is shocked by this sudden development. It looks confused and is trying to come up with a proper response.
After Telangana, the Congress is facing one more trouble from the South. Its decision on the release of Rajiv Gandhi killers will have an impact on the Lok Sabha polls in Tamil Nadu. Jayalalithaa has positioned herself as the sole protector of the Tamil people. If the Centre refuses to ratify the decision, Jayalalithaa can make it a big issue during the polls.
Union Law Minister Kapil Sibal said, "We respect the decision of the Supreme Court commuting their death sentence. We want to know BJP's reaction. The same party was baying for the blood of Afzal Guru. It is not saying anything about others on the death row."

Jayalalithaa has now put the ball in the Centre's court by ordering the release of all 7 Rajiv Gandhi killers from jail. Under Article 161 of India's Constitution, the state government has the power to grant pardons and suspend, remit or commute sentences in certain cases. But legal experts say the centre has to ratify the decision.
If Congress led UPA at the Centre refuses to ratify the Centre's decision, will the DMK, actor Vijaykant led DMDK etc still ally with Congress in the LS polls? Can they be seen as tying up with party that stopped the release of these fellow Tamils?
Interesting that Jayalalithaa who has always been anti-LTTE has taken this decision. Jayalalithaa has been one of the most vocal critics of the LTTE and its methods. She was also on the hit list of the LTTE.
It seems she has changed her mind after the decimation of the LTTE in May 2009 by Sri Lankan armed forces. Perhaps the political considerations outweighed even a very serious matter of utmost importance like granting pardon to Rajiv Gandhi killers.
Announcing the decision Jayalalithha said in the TN Assembly, "CrPC section 435 asks for state to seek centres nod if offence investigated by central agency (in this case CBI). But all convicts will be released if there is no reply in 3 days as per powers vested in the state and spelt out in section 432 of CrPC".
By doing this, Jayalalithaa has snatched the issue from the hands of all other Tamil political parties. Even if the Centre denies ratifying it, it will still serve her political purpose.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

SC commutes death sentence for Rajiv Gandhi’s killers to life sentence

 The Supreme Court commuted the death sentence of three men convicted of killing former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to life in prison and left it to the Tamil Nadu government to decide whether to release them by granting them remission. The court granted relief to Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan agreeing that there had been an 11-year delay on the Centre's part, in deciding on their mercy plea.
A bench headed by the Chief Justice of India, P Sathasivam, also rejected the Centre's view that the convicts did not deserve mercy. The Centre's lawyer, Attorney General Goolam Vahanvati, had said there was "not a word of remorse" in the convicts' petition for mercy. He said that, they were leading a disciplined life, entertaining and educating inmates, so there is no agony, torture or dehumanizing effect due to delay. The lawyer for the convicts argued that "agony and torture need not be physical injuries."

On January 21, the Supreme Court commuted the death sentences of 15 convicts, announcing that "inordinate and inexplicable" delays in carrying out executions were grounds for reducing their original punishment.
Santhan, Perarivalan and Murugan were convicted in 1998 for Mr. Gandhi's assassination in 1991.  Their mercy petition was sent to the President of India, the last stage in the process of appeals, in 2000 and was rejected 11 years later. Their hanging was stayed in 2011 on the orders of the Madras High Court.

Murugan's wife Nalini was also sentenced to death but it was commuted to life on the intervention of Rajiv Gandhi's widow Sonia Gandhi. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Interim Budget 2014-2015

Interim Budget 2014-15
Highlights of P. Chidambaram's Interim Budget (Vote-on-Account)
* For the first time the finance minister is not making Budget speech. This budget is actually an Vote on Account.
* I learned hardwork from Harvarad University
* No downgrade form rating agencies
* 1 million jobs targeted
* Rs. 1200 cr for North Eastern States
* Financial Year 2012-13 were year of turbulence. Only a handful of countries could keep their heads above water, one of them is India
* Fiscal deficit will be contained to 4.6 per cent of GDP.
* Agri GDP growth increased to 4% during UPA II; in the current year it is estimated at 4.6%
* 67% of popualtion covered under NFSB
* Seven nuclear power reactors under construction.
* Four ultra mega solar pojects to come up under National Solar Mission
* Rs. 100 crore as corpus for solar mission.
* Govt. has approved National agro-forestry policy
* Additional Rs 1000 crore for Nirbhaya Fund.
* National Skill development trust to get additonal Rs 1000 crores
* Direct Benefit Transfer to be rolled out throughout the country
* Government fully committed to Aadhaar
* Average growth under NDA rule (1999-2004) was around 4% and while in UPA (2004-2014) it is 6.5%
* Pegs growth rate for 2014-15 at 5%
* Banks are under stress
* Implement One Rank, One Pension for Defence personnels
* India needed Young Soldiers
* 10 years ago, minorities had just 14 lakh bank accounts. Now they have 42 lakh bank accounts.
* Banks will cross the Rs.7 lakh crore of agricultural credit. Our target is Rs.8 lakh crores.
* Over 25 lakh students have got education loans. We have disbursed over Rs.57000 crores
* LIC has opened more than 1000 offices. Other PSU insurance companies have opened more than 1800 offices.
* One financial record for all individuals will be created.
* Some insurance bills have not been passed by the Parliament. I regret.

* Food Subsidy shoots over Rs. 1 lakh crore
* Rs. 500 crore for defence
* India's GDP - 11th largest in world. Soon, it will be the third largest in the world after USA and China
* Spending on education increased to Rs 79,251 cr
* When our aim is high growth, there will be a moderate inflation.
* Public Private Partnership will be encouraged. We must focus more on manufacturing sector.
* Rs 2,46, 397 crore for subsidies
* Rs. 1,16,000 crore allocated for food subsidy
* Ministry of Health and Family Welfare gets Rs. 33,725 cr
* Ministry of HRD gets Rs. 67,398 cr
* ministry of Defence gets Rs. 2.24 lakh cr
* Drinking water and sanitation ministry gets Rs. 15,260 cr
* Social Justice and Empowerment gets Rs. 6730 cr
* For Ministry of Housing and Poverty Alleviation- Rs. 6000 crore
* For Ministry of Women and Child Development - Rs. 21,000 crore
* Budgetary support to railways has been increased to Rs. 29,000 crore. Railways need to mobilise support through market borrowing
* Eight national manufacturing zones have been approved along the Delhi-Mumbai corridor
* Launched investigations into black money stashed away in foreign banks.
* To Stimulate growth excise duty will be reduced from 12% to 10%.
* 7 new airports tocome
* Changes in Indirect Tax Rates
* Automobile industry will benefit from excise duty reduction
* Focus on manufacturing and manufacturing exports.
* All taxes for exports should be waived
* Subsidies must go only to the most deserving
* Budget estimates for 2014-15 - Revenue deficits will be 3%.
* Duty cut on 2 and 4 wheelers (2 and 4 wheelers to get cheaper)
* 140 miillion people have been lifted from the poverty.
* No service tax on rice
* Mobile phones, AC, Fridges prices will be reduced
* No change in income tax
* Concluded the speech by quoting from the great Tamil saint Thiruvalluvar's couplets.