OPINION: Behind the amazing growth of Indianomics

OPINION: Behind the amazing growth of Indianomics ensuring distributive justice ?!!

Gorkhs Daju

From Brunei Times
By Hon’ble Darjeeling MP Jaswant Singh

Forwarded by Gorkhs Daju

NEW DELHI, Thursday, July 29, 2010: NOWADAYS, economists are assailed by irresolute thoughts: what, for example, is the right term to apply to current global economic conditions? Is it “depression”, “recession”, or, finally, “recovery”? What of the euro? Will it flounder or regain its “health”?

As these debates fill the air in finance ministries and economics departments around the globe, India continues its steady GDP growth, now projected to reach 9.4 per cent this year. Indeed, the government says that the growth rate will hit double figures soon.

Although many people seem amazed that India has maintained rapid growth for so long even in the face of the global downturn surprise is unwarranted. India’s proportion of global GDP stood at 25 per cent in 1750, but slumped to 1.6 per cent in 1900, at the high noon of imperialism. India is simply rising again to reassert its traditional global position.

Can India achieve this?

Many challenges confront India on its path to sustained strong growth, principally that of converting the country’s vast promise into reality. In order to achieve this in a true democracy, India must ensure distributive justice. It must ensure that enhanced purchasing power leads to a markedly improved quality of life for all of India’s citizens.

Currently, India has a window of opportunity, nearly unique in nature, thanks to a huge demographic dividend: almost 60 per cent of the country’s population is below the age of 30. But this advantage is limited in duration, lasting two or perhaps three decades. If it is not used now, it will dissipate.

To seize this opportunity, India first must move decisively away from state capitalism, the remnants of which continue to retard the country’s economic progress. India’s economic future lies in maximising its private sectors dynamism, which demands an acceleration of institutional reform, including privatisation at both the national and state level.

But, as the Indian economist and frequent policymaker Vijay Kelkar has put it, “India needs to fashion [its] own sui generis model of growth and development towards an advanced economy, always promoting inclusive growth, and thus gain the benefits of enhanced efficiency, greater equity, and better governance under a liberal democracy.” Simply copying American, British, or other Western policies and institutions will not work.

Moreover, India is not China; it cannot be indeed, it must not be. That is why it should not hanker after any ersatz export-led or state-directed growth.

India’s second great challenge is to resolve its enormous infrastructure shortcomings. India is no longer primarily an agricultural economy; indeed, agriculture accounts for only around 20 per cent of GDP. But this does not mean that agriculture should be neglected; on the contrary, it remains a way of life for many millions of Indians, who need capital and new technology.

Raising farm productivity and income requires improved irrigation, wasteland reclamation, warehousing, marketing, transport development, and the free movement of produce within the country. This is why rapid strengthening of India’s physical and social infrastructure is central to its progress.

This leads us to examining India’s current fixation with GDP growth as a national panacea. The theory is that the government, as the agent of the people, collects taxes and delivers public goods in return. In this sense, the Indian state has been rather a poor agent; it collects little and delivers a pittance and what it does deliver is of grossly inadequate quality. Yet the Indian state continues to ask for a disproportionately high price from the people. This must change, by directly targeting the alleviation of poverty and ultimately its elimination. I accept that the most powerful anti-poverty programme is economic growth, but it works only if and when it is accompanied by distributive justice.

Only such “just” growth can eventually be converted into high GNC: “Gross National Contentment”, a truer index of economic well-being. Rather than endless debates about higher budgetary allocations, India needs to find practical ways to promote effective, targeted, self-adjusting, and self-liquidating anti-poverty programmes.

It is not the amount of money allocated by government that matters. The true litmus test of budget expenditures is what actually gets delivered. Only an inclusive approach to reform can meet peoples expectations, and in turn spread contentment.

Project Syndicate

[Project Syndicate is an international not-for-profit newspaper syndicate and association of newspapers. It distributes commentaries and analysis (“opinion pieces”) by experts, activists, Nobel laureates, statesman, economists, political thinkers, business leaders and academics to its member publications, and encourages networking among its members.]

Jaswant Singh, the author

Hon'ble Darjeeling MP Stalwart Jaswant Singh - the author & former Finance Minister of India.

Stalwart Jaswant Singh (born January 3, 1938) is an Indian politician and member of parliament from Darjeeling parliamentary constituency.

He is Rajput from Jodhpur in the Indian State of Rajasthan and was an officer in the Indian Army in the 1960s and is an alumnus of Mayo College and the National Defence Academy (India), Khadakwasla.

He served as Finance minister in the short-lived government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, which lasted just from May 16, 1996, to June 1, 1996. After Vajpayee became Prime Minister again two years later, he became Minister for External Affairs of India, serving from December 5, 1998 until July 1, 2002.

Responsible for foreign policy, he dealt with high tensions between India and Pakistan. In July 2002 he became Finance Minister again, switching posts with Yashwant Sinha.

He served as Finance Minister until the defeat of the Vajpayee government in May 2004 and was instrumental in defining and pushing through the market-friendly reforms of the government. Known for his moderate political views, he is a self-described liberal democrat even though the Bharatiya Janata Party is often described as a right-wing nationalist organization.

He was conferred the Outstanding Parliamentarian Award for the year 2001.

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GORKHA ADIVASI POLITICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Writers’ invite for talks – govt to sound out front on set-up

GORKHA ADIVASI POLITICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Writers’ invite for talks – govt to sound out front on set-up – at last the division is clear, ‘for or against’ the ‘separate state movement & identity issue’ ?!!

Dawa Sherpa speaks to journalists on Friday at Chowrastha, where the ABGL is on a relay hunger strike to demand the arrest of Madan Tamang’s murderers - desperate to gain hill consensus and still bitter about being sidelined by Stalwart Jaswant Singh during LS Elections last April ?!! (Suman Tamang)

FROM THE TELEGRAPH BUREAU

July 30: The Bengal government has invited the Democratic Front and the GNLF for a meeting at Writers’ Buildings on August 3.

Dawa Sherpa, the convener of the Front, said in Darjeeling today: “I have received a verbal intimation, inviting us to the meeting and we will definitely be going to Calcutta.”

The Front is a conglomeration of six parties opposed to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in the hills.

In Calcutta, minister of state for hill affairs, Asok Bhattacharya, said this was being done to get the views of the “other stakeholders in the hills” on the interim set-up for Darjeeling.

“The Morcha may be in the forefront of the statehood movement, but there are other outfits in the hills which are stake holders in the development of Darjeeling,” Bhattacharya said. “That’s why we want to take their views on what the shape and form of the interim set-up in the hills should be.”

Bhattacharya said their suggestions would be incorporated in the final observations of the state government on the interim set-up that would be sent to Delhi soon. He said both he and health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra would jointly hold the meeting with the hill opposition parties.

However, the Front also wants a discussion on ABGL leader Madan Tamang’s murder and on the restoration of democracy in the hills.

“It has been proved beyond doubt that the Morcha does not allow other parties to function in the hills. The decision to call a strike in Sukhiapokhri today when we were supposed to organise a meeting has made everything clear,” said Sherpa.

Observers in the hills said the state was holding the meeting with the hill opposition parties as it did not want a repeat of the Sixth Schedule fiasco when the government thought that discussions with only the predominant party, which was the GNLF then, would solve all issues.

“Even though the GNLF had demanded the status, the arrangement could not be implemented because of stiff resistance from others and the hills plunged into another crisis,” said an observer.

The timing of the meeting is also important as during the last tripartite talks in New Delhi on July 24, the Centre had directed the state and the Morcha to submit its final observations within two weeks. “The state perhaps does not want to make any observation without impressing on the other political parties the need to accept an interim set-up for the time being,” said the observer.

Apart from the ABGL, the Front also includes the CPRM — the second largest party in the hills — GNLF (C), BJP, Trinamul Congress and the Darjeeling-Sikkim Akikaran Manch.

GNLF MLA Shanta Chhetri said her party would not attend the meeting as Subhash Ghishing had “rejected” the idea.

GJM alone can’t speak for hills: Gorkha League – a party without consensus nor moral authority ?!!

Pratap Khati - 420 against the majority consensus ?!!

From Indian Express

Siliguri, Sat Jul 31 2010, 02:58 hrs (PTI): The All India Gorkha League (AIGL) on Friday said the Central and state governments should not hold tripartite talks only with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), as it was not the sole outfit that represents the people of Darjeeling.

Pratap Khati, a member of AIGL’s central committee, said that apart from his own party there were other outfits as well which should be involved in the talks brokered by the Centre to resolve the statehood issue amicably. Khati, who met Darjeeling district president of Trinamool Congress, said: “It is horrible that the Centre and state government were holding talks with those who were named in the FIR for involvement in the AIGL president Madan among murder case.”

Khati accused the West Bengal government, in particular, of sailing in two boats by threatening to arrest GJM leaders named in the FIR and holding talks with them at the same time.

Centre should hold talks with other parties in Darjeeling – wants desperately in through veiled threats of destabilizing peace ?!!

From IBN Live

Siliguri, July 30 :PTI: The Centre and the West Bengal government’s move to hold tripartite talks with the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha would not solve the Darjeeling problem, as it was not the sole authority, a political party opposed to the GJM said today.

Central committee member of the All India Gorkha League Pratap Khati told reporters here that the Centre should hold talks with his party and others active in the hills if it was interested to establish peace.

Instead, the Centre and state government were holding talks with those named in the FIR in the killing of the party’s leader Madan Tamang, he alleged.

MEANWHILE BELOW THE PLAINS OF DARJEELING

CPM men get life for murders – Buddhadeb & Asok not implicated as head of CPM and just as morally responsible ?!!

Buddhadeb & Asok - partners in the crime of 'Murder Most Foul' ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Cooch Behar, July 30: A dozen CPM workers were sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of two Congress leaders in Mathabhanga 25 years ago.

Mahesh Roy Basunia and Gorachand Roy were hacked to death on August 7, 1985, when they were going to Bhogramguri to organise a peace rally.

Roy Basunia’s wife Anjali and son Mriganka were relieved to hear the sentence. “I am relieved that the verdict has finally come. However, I am not happy that front-ranking leaders of the CPM in the district, who were directly linked to my husband’s murder, are still roaming around,” Anjali said.

She remembered that following the murder, senior Congress leaders, including Pranab Mukherjee, had visited her home.

The verdict was read out by additional district sessions judge (special), Bibek Chowdhury.

“My husband was an MA in political science and a brilliant student of ABN Seal College. He had sat for the IAS examination and qualified twice, in 1968 and 1969. But he could not join both the times as police verifications were not sent on time because of the CPM’s intervention,” said Anjali.

She said Basunia had left a teaching job in 1970 and joined the Congress as a full-time worker. “He was a member of the railway board when Ghani Khan Chowdhury was the railway minister. He would have been 66 today,” she said.

Arun Chowdhury, a district secretariat member of the CPM, said an appeal would be made to the higher court against today’s verdict.

Rape victim extends help – CPM crimes against humanity ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Cooch Behar, July 30: A 36-year-old housewife was raped allegedly by a CPM member at Ghoksadanga last night, seven years after six members of the party had gangraped a woman in a nearby village.

The rape victim of 2003, Runu Das, today stood by the housewife and said she would help her get justice.

“I myself was raped by local CPM leaders and workers. When I heard of yesterday’s incident, I took her to the police station and lodged a complaint. I will fight for her so that Ananda Dey is put behind bars. We will also gherao Mathabhanga police station on August 1 to demand his arrest,” said Runu, who is now a Trinamul Congress member.

The housewife alleged that Ananda Dey had raped her at her home in the Mathabhanga subdivision around 9.30pm.

The Cooch Behar district president of Trinamul, Rabindranath Ghosh, said the party was behind the housewife in her fight for justice. “We will gherao the police station if the culprit is not arrested. We are also keeping a close watch on yesterday’s victim who has been sent for a medical examination.”

Additional superintendent of police Amit Javalgi said the accused was absconding and efforts were on to arrest him.

According to the police, the woman stays alone and her husband works as a carpenter in Jaigaon. Taking advantage of the situation, the accused raped her and fled the area. Her two-year-old daughter was in the house next door. Ghoksadanga is 30km from here.

CPM leader of Mathabhanga Arun Chowdhury said he was not aware of the incident and would refrain from commenting.

Runu was firm in her resolve. “I had come out in the open and fought for justice. The woman who was raped last night needs my help. People in the state know that I am a rape victim and how I fought the CPM. I am not afraid of anything.”

Runu was gangraped by the six CPM members on February 22, 2003 at the house of her in-laws. After the incident, she was driven out of her in-laws’ house in Chheramari. Since then, she and her three children have been living in a neighbouring village with her parents.

The six are serving a 10-year jail term.

Members of the National Commission for Women and Mamata Banerjee had visited Runu after the incident. Trinamul made the rape a major issue and won six gram panchayats in rural body elections.

Bullet fury spills over on second day Blaze, bandh and benched cops – the dilemma of political impartiality ?!!

An already burnt bus that was set ablaze again on Friday - lawless anger against Bengal ?!! (Mehedi Hedaytullah)

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Islampur, July 30: Violence renewed this morning and torched buses were set ablaze again as a mob went on the rampage during a bandh in Srikrishnapur where a police firing on a school campus killed a guardian yesterday.

Islampur town and adjoining Srikrishnapur were shut and traffic on the busy NH31 was held up for 10 hours because of the bandh called by the SUCI, which was supported by all the parties. Seven policemen have been suspended for their role in the firing on the Srikrishnapur High School campus.

Ganesh Gayen, the purported owner of the land adjacent to the school over which the violence and firing took place, was also arrested.

Bandh supporters set up road blockades in Islampur and Srikrishnapur from 6am, despite requests from the subdivisional administration to keep the national highway out of the purview of the protest.

After the death of Dipak Mirdha on the school premises yesterday, sub-inspector B.N. Ghosh and four constables had been placed under suspension pending departmental inquiry and block land reforms officer B. Banerjee was asked to go on leave by Islampur subdivisional officer Partha Ghosh. Three other policemen were suspended today.

The firing was provoked after the BLRO, accompanied by the policemen had come with Gayen, to take possession of an acre of land adjacent to the school. They were armed with an order issued by the additional district magistrate The teachers, students and guardians had protested the land take-over, leading to the violence and firing.

The school will remain shut till the situation calms down. “We have decided to keep the school closed till the situation normalises,” said headmaster Swapan Pal.

Echoing yesterday’s demand, CPM state committee member Sudhir Biswas said the local people want the suspended policemen, the BLRO, and Gayen to be booked for murder. “If this demand is not met, we will launch an intense agitation,” Biswas threatened.

Additional superintendent of police Annappa E said a case had been started against the policemen on the basis of a complaint filed by the headmaster of the school.

The subdivisional officer held an all-party meeting in the afternoon. He said a proposal has been sent to the government to compensate the next of kin of the dead and free treatment for the injured.

On NH31, the highway connecting Siliguri to Purnea More hundreds of passengers were stranded in their buses for almost over 10 hours till 4pm when traffic resumed.

Kalyan Das, who was travelling to Siliguri from Calcutta, was among those who got stuck. “We did not know about the bandh and with all shops closed, we had nothing to eat or drink. Such bandhs should not be called,” he said.

A picket set up by CPM supporters on NH31 on Friday - CPM blame-game ruse, naturally believable ?!! (Mehedi Hedaytullah)

The secretary of the CPM’s zonal committee, Swapan Guha Neogy, blamed the Congress and the Trinamul Congress for blocking the highway, although The Telegraph saw his party supporters set up a picket too (see picture).

The Congress chairman of the Islampur municipality, Kanhaialal Agarwal, said the blockades had been set up by the “enraged public”.

Air of revolt against axe order – police looking for political patronage ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Raiganj, July 30: A section of policemen in North Dinajpur has threatened not to carry arms while going for law and order duties because of the spate of suspensions.

Eleven policemen have been suspended in five days in the district. Official sources said four policemen were suspended on July 25 for allegedly torturing to death a high school employee at Kotar police camp the previous night, while seven were punished after a guardian was shot dead in Srikrishnapur high school yesterday.

Himanshu Saha, the district secretary of the Non-gazetted Police Karmachari Samiti, said: “We shall not carry arms while on law and order duty. Let senior officials including the district superintendent of police carry arms till the suspension orders are withdrawn.” The policemen would not take any further risk while on law and order duty. They would go unarmed and with folded hands to control a mob, Saha said.

“If we take any firm step to deal with a mob involved in destroying government properties, we are taken to task. Even if we fail to control any rampaging crowd, we are punished. Things cannot go like that,” Saha said.

The association leader claimed that yesterday four policemen were on duty when thousands of people started throwing stones targeting them. The crowd had set fire to a number of police vehicles. The four had to resort to firing in self-defence and also to protect government properties.

But the additional district superintendent of police and other senior officials who arrived there later announced that they had suspended the four policemen “to please the crowd,” Saha said.

In deference to the demand of the local people, the additional SP also announced that a murder case under Section 302 would be initiated against the suspended policemen after receiving the post-mortem report, Saha said. “We have voiced our resentment to the officer against this.”

Recalling that four constables had been benched after they picked up a high school employee from a gambling den, Saha claimed that the person had died on way to hospital but the men in khaki were blamed for the death.

The Congress-affiliated Paschim Banga Police Association state president Bijitaswa Rout also voiced concern about the district police authorities’ attitude towards the lower rung personnel.

“This has a direct bearing on the morale of the policemen. We shall take up the matter with the director-general of police.” Rout said. “If required, my organisation is ready to sit with the district police authorities to seek redress.”

Additional district superintendent of police Annapa E. admitted that the policemen were faced public wrath if they took any stern action against a mob.

“It has really been creating a problem for the policemen. But I cannot comment on the department’s decision against the policemen,” Annapa E said.

HOMELAND SECURITY: 5 CRPF men die in blast – Ulfa claims responsibility for ambush on bus carrying jawans in Assam’s Goalpara district

HOMELAND SECURITY: 5 CRPF men die in blast – Ulfa claims responsibility for ambush on bus carrying jawans in Assam’s Goalpara district – the ugly head of violence to threaten the Siliguri Corridor ?!!

ULFA threat in Assam - rears its ugly head yet again ?!!

BY BIJOY KR SARMA
WITH INPUTS FROM THE TELEGRAPH GUWAHATI BUREAU

Dhubri, July 30: A blast triggered by Ulfa damaged a bus, killing five CRPF jawans and injuring 33 of their colleagues at Bhalukdubi under Goalpara district at 8 this morning.

The explosion comes just five days after an attack on SSB jawans in Chirang district.

Anu Buragohain, who introduced himself as the “spokesperson for Ulfa”, later called up a local TV channel claiming that the blast was carried out in the thickly forested area by the outfit. He said though Ulfa had “remained quiet” for some time, security forces continued to target its cadres and that is why it had retaliated. He warned of more such strikes.

Intelligence sources, however, did not rule out the possibility of some NDFB (anti-talks) militants executing the blast at the behest of Ulfa.

“The precision of the execution certainly points to such a possibility,” a source said.

Ulfa - now joining hands with NDFB, resentment against Bengal ?!!

The bus carrying 45 jawans of the CRPF’s 12 battalion was returning to its Goalpara camp from Balijana, 13km away, where they undergo regular counter-insurgency training.

When the bus entered Bhalukdubi near Kali Mondir, an improvised explosive device (IED) planted on a roadside hill slope, level with the bus window and connected by a wire about three metres away, was triggered by Ulfa militants hiding inside the forest. The left side of the bus was pockmarked by splinters.

Pulak Sen, P.M. Rao, Ranbir Singh and N.B. Salam of the 12 battalion of the CRPF died on the spot.

The superintendent of Gauhati Medical College and Hospital, Ramen Talukdar, said 22 jawans had been brought to the hospital till this evening. Mangal Layak, a jawan, died while he was being shifted to GMCH. Talukdar said the condition of three to four jawans was critical and one Manoranjan Boro had been admitted to the emergency intensive care unit.

Ram Mohan, who sustained shoulder and hand injuries, said they had left for the counter-insurgency training early in the morning.

“I was relaxing inside the bus and chatting with some colleagues. Suddenly, we heard a loud sound and the bus started rattling. For a fraction of a second I could not guess what was happening and saw my colleagues trying to wriggle out of the windows. I, too, did so for survival,” Mohan, who hails from Andhra Pradesh, said.

Honnappa V, who sustained injuries on his right hand and face, said the blast site was covered by a dense forest and so no one initially had an idea about what caused the explosion. “Considering the impact of the blast, it was an IED triggered by militants hiding inside the forest,” he said.

“Some more injured personnel may need to be hospitalised,” Talukdar said.

Eleven jawans were taken to the CRPF camp at Goalpara after they were administered medical aid at the Goalpara Civil Hospital.

Senior police officials, including the superintendent of police, Goalpara, Luise Aind, and commanding officer in-charge, A.K. Singh, rushed to the spot.

A police source said that it was raining when the militants activated the IED and fled into the Bhalukdubi reserve forest which connects Pancharatna and Khutamari reserve forests.

The blast took place on Soulmari-Goalpara PWD road, one of the busiest stretches, 3km from Goalpara town. Vehicles bound for Bongaigaon, Dhubri, the Garo hills and Guwahati have to pass though this road. Soulmari is the point where the road meets NH 37.

Aind said the IED was powerful.“We have collected a 30-metre wire, splinter, residue of explosives and other substances and these are being examined by explosives expert to ascertain the nature of explosive used in the IED,” Aind said.

Security forces have launched an operation against Ulfa in the entire forest area, Aind added.

“I was busy attending to the seriously injured jawans and I am not in a position nor authorised to share information,” Singh said.

Rebel units not keen on talks: PC – so use of similar force and tactics, till they realize otherwise ?!!

P Chidambaram & big mining businesses - saying goodbye to all political solution ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

New Delhi, July 30: A faction of Ulfa and another of the NDFB were not ready for talks with the Centre, home minister P. Chidambaram said here in the wake of the blast in Assam’s Goalpara district that killed five CRPF jawans this morning.

Chidambaram was speaking at the monthly presentation of his ministry’s report card today.

The ministry of home affairs has appointed former Intelligence Bureau chief P.C. Haldar as interlocutor for the proposed talks with Ulfa. Haldar is conducting negotiations with the pro-talks factions of the DHD, United Peoples’ Democratic Solidarity (UPDS) and the NDFB, besides the Meghalaya-based Achik National Volunteers Council (ANVC).

“Not all rebel groups have come to the table. One faction of the NDFB and another of Ulfa are against talks,” Chidambaram told reporters. Terming today’s incident as“very sad”, Chidambaram said it was still unclear who perpetrated the attack on the CRPF convoy.

MEANWHILE

Joint move on NRC, dams – fanning the flames through the youth ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH STAFF REPORTER

Guwahati, July 30: AASU today joined hands with 24 other student organisations to launch a united movement to pressure Dispur into resuming the process of updating the National Register of Citizens, 1951, and stop construction of all mega dams for power generation.

The influential students’ union made the formal announcement of the agitation during a news conference here this evening after a daylong meeting with leaders of 24 other students’ organisations. The Sadou Asam Tribal Sangha, All Bodo Students’ Union, All Rabha Students’ Union, All Mising Students Union, All Assam Moran Students’ Union, Karbi Students’ Union and NC Hills’ Indigenous Forum, among others, will launch the movement.

AASU adviser Samujjal Bhattacharyya told the media that all the organisations expressed solidarity on the NRC update and movement against construction of mega dams.

He said the government must realise that the NRC updating process cannot be put on hold and if it is not started at the earliest, the state would embrace a major agitation.

Bhattacharyya said a delegation comprising representatives of AASU and 24 students’ organisations would meet the Prime Minister, Union home minister and Assam governor before August 15 to demand their intervention.

He said the meeting also appealed to the All Assam Minority Students’ Union not to vitiate the atmosphere of the state by communalising and politicising the NRC issue. The meet resolved to launch a statewide agitation if Dispur did not stop construction of the Lower Subansiri project.

Bhattacharyya said the organisations would again meet and discuss the issues on August 20 and 21. “The government must concede to our demands before the August 20 meeting,” he said.

Checkpost revival plea to fight vice – crime syndicates haven ?!!

The checkpost building at Gitaldaha - an invitation for goonda rajbhavan ?!! (MU Chisti)

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Cooch Behar, July 30: Residents of Gitaldaha have demanded that the abandoned immigration checkpost in the area be reopened to revive the local economy as the facility, once a busy international gateway, has turned into a den of vice.

The checkpost, about 40km from here, in Dinhata subdivision is a gambling den during the day and an illicit liquor joint after nightfall since it was closed down in 2002.

“Day in and day out, the hooligans are using the checkpost building for illegal purposes which has compromised the safety and security of the area. The authorities should immediately renovate the building and resume its operation. The closed checkpost has also affected the economy of the area,” said local gram panchayat pradhan Abdul Majid.

Majid said when the checkpost had been in operation, at least 200-300 travellers used it every day. “The numbers used to rise during Id and Durga Puja when relatives visited each other either by crossing the border. The place was thriving with a number of hotels, eateries and small shops. But since 2002, all of them have either folded up or shifted elsewhere.”

Gitaldah connects Mogulhat in Bangladesh.

Chiranjib Ghosh, the subdivisional officer of Dinhata, said although the reopening of a checkpost depended on the Centre, he would look into the matter. “We have asked police to stop the menace and ensure the safety of the area.”

Panchayat samiti member Lakshmi Prasad Kalwar said the closure of the checkpost forced about 60 per cent of the men to migrate to other states for jobs. “That is not all. People from Dinhata, who want to go to Bangladesh, have to travel 200km to Changrabandha to cross the border that means a waste of time and money.”

The president of the merchants’ association of Dinhata subdivision, Bhabani Shankar Agarwal, said he had written to the Union commerce and industry ministry to allow trade through Gitaldaha. “The Mogulhat market is five kilometres from the border and a healthy trade can be done through the checkpost helping the local economies on both sides of the border thrive,” Agarwal said.

Rustam Ali, who had run an eatery on the border, said he was forced to go to Delhi after the checkpost was closed. “I work in a brick field there and my sons work in a tailoring shop in the capital. The shut down of the border outpost has put me and many others in tremendous hardship,” Ali said.

939 infiltrators held along Indo-Bangla border till June 2010 – and more to come ?!!

From The Hindustan Times

Shillong, July 30, 2010, 21:34 IST: A total of 939 infiltrators have been apprehended along the Indo-Bangladesh border by security personnel this year till June. “Even though there are no significant incidences of infiltration on India’s borders with Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and China, the Indo-Bangladesh border is prone to

infiltration. Till June, about 939 infiltrators were apprehended on the Indo-Bangladesh border while the figure for 2009 was 2460,” an official union home ministry statement said.

On militancy, the statement said, about 121 violent incidents have occurred in Assam so far this year as against 263 in 2009.

Similarly, 183 violent incidents have been triggered by militant groups in Manipur during the current year so far as against 362 in 2009.

SIKKIM WILDLIFE: Villagers wary after wild scare – big cat, bear & boar: visitors in a week

SIKKIM WILDLIFE: Villagers wary after wild scare – big cat, bear & boar: visitors in a week – scarcity of food or other disturbances also unnoticed ?!!

Leopard scare - expanding territory ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Gangtok, July 30: The leopard, the bear and wild boars: residents of a West Sikkim village have had a scary week trying to thwart them off from their habitat.

In the first case, however, foresters are not sure if the predator was a leopard, but villagers of Lower Yangtay insist that a big cat had devoured a cow in its shed on the night of July 27, the remains of which were found the next morning.

“We were informed about the incident only yesterday. But we don’t know whether that predator was a leopard, or some other wild animal, as normal evidences like pugmarks were washed away by the rain. The carcass had also been buried by the villagers,” said divisional forest officer (wildlife, West Sikkim) Suraj Thatal.

Yangtey village is near a reserve forest. On the evening of July 28, there were reports from the neighbouring areas of more attacks on cattle by the animal.

Bear sightings - best to stay away, a seasonal thingy ?!!

The same day a bear was spotted in the forest staff quarters in Geyzing, the district headquarters of West Sikkim 116km from here. The size of the bear could not be ascertained as it was dark, said the DFO. “We have asked the school students not to venture out into the forest while coming back from school and patrolling has been intensified.”

Wildlife authorities said the suspected leopard, which killed the cow, could have transgressed into human settlement because of food scarcity in the forest. The leopard might be injured or has grown old and so depended on easy preys like domesticated animals.

Last year, Himalayan black bears had entered Yangtey and its surrounding areas.

In fact, between September and December last year, at least 70 bear transgressions were reported and some of these turned into a man-animal conflict that led to the death of one of the animals. One bear was also killed in a fierce territorial fight on November 10 at Dokeythang reserved forest near Geyzing.

The DFO said the foresters had visited the village after the first leopard raid to sensitise the people. The leopard is an endangered species and falls under Schedule I of the wildlife protection act. It mainly feeds on barking deer.

A maize field in a West district village after it was trampled by a wild boar - dangerous and delicious ?!! (Prabin Khaling)

West district is also grappling with the problem of wild boars that often enter maize fields in fringe villages. Since early last month there have been several reports from Ripdi, Bareng and Soreng of such wild boar forays. “It looks like the wild boars are particularly fond of maize. We have been trying to push these animals back into the wild,” said the DFO.

The wildlife authorities said an increase in the population of these animals and lack of food in the wild was forcing them to enter the villages.

But foresters hope that a good season for phumpseys or wild avocado this time will stop the wild forays. “Once the plants bear fruits, then both human and wild animals will enjoy the abundance.” Phumpseys are wild fruits popular with both the herbivores and human beings.

He said often people collected these fruits from the forests, creating a scarcity for the wild animals. This time, the produce has been more than last year, he added.

SIKKIM CRIME WATCH: Meal denied, man murders wife

SIKKIM CRIME WATCH: Meal denied, man murders wife – passion unjustified, family destroyed, victims of the alcoholism disease?!!

SOCIAL AWARENESS NECESSARY: Alcoholism, A genetic disease, just like diabetes or cancer - some have it and some just don't, nothing to do with will power ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Gangtok, July 30: A 40-year- old mechanic of the Sikkim transport department has been arrested for murdering his wife, a mother of two children, for allegedly refusing to serve him food.

Hari Prasad Sharma, a resident of Neopany village in Rumtek, East Sikkim, had allegedly slit her throat with a knife. Rekha bled to death at their house yesterday afternoon.

According to the in-charge of Ranipool police station, Sonam Wangchen, the local panchayat had informed him about the murder.

The villagers said the couple’s elder son was in school, and the younger son, aged around four, had gone to a crèche when the murder happened.

Alcoholism Picture - violence, lying, stealing, etc. all personality disorders which cause problems - containable through awareness and treatable rehabilitation and abstinence ?!!

Hari Prasad is employed in a workshop near Saramsa.

Although earlier he had claimed that someone had broken into their house, murdered his wife, and fled with cash and ornaments, he broke down at the police station this morning, the police said.

Hari Prasad told the police that when he returned home from work in the afternoon he found Rekha sleeping. He asked her to serve him food but she hurled abuses at him. A quarrel broke out and he hit her on the head with an utensil. “She shouted another round of obscenities, and in a fit of rage, I slit her throat with a knife,” Hari Prasad told the police.

He also confessed he had tried to cover up the crime by making up a story about a robbery in which the perpetrators fled with Rs 13,000 and gold ornaments after killing Rekha. The police said both Hari Prasad and his wife were alcoholics and used to quarrel regularly.

A case under Section 302 of the IPC has been registered at the Ranipool police station. (Now a life sentence to have natural cure ?!!)

EDUCATION: Parallel school bill in freezer

EDUCATION: Parallel school bill in freezer – all aware of the votebank ruse to reward the incompetent ?!!

The Telegraph Expose - excellent moral reporting & editing, always ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

Calcutta, July 30: A rare convergence of opinion among Opposition parties and a section of the ruling Left has forced the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government to abort its plan to fast-track a bill to create a parallel primary and secondary education system under the panchayat department.

The West Bengal Panchayat Board of Education Bill 2010, which fuelled fears of an undeclared caste system in the education system, has been put in the freezer for the time being.

The Telegraph had published a report on the bill on July 24 and raised concerns about the future of students passing out of the new education system under the panchayat and rural development department, which does not have the expertise to run an education board.

The government had stepped up the drive to push through the bill in this session itself to court a votebank of potential teachers before the Assembly elections next year, going as far as to propose an extension of the session by a day after a break to pass the legislation.

However, deviating from yesterday’s plan of placing and passing the bill on August 16, the government has deferred its passage till the winter session of the Assembly.

“The panchayat department minister wants an elaborate discussion on the bill to arrive at a consensus. That is not possible as the (extended) budget session of the Assembly ended today. That’s why we leave it to the next session,” said government chief whip Syed Mohammad Masih.

Sources in the government said that deferring the bill to the winter session — which normally gets wrapped up in less than a week — was almost like pressing a permanent pause button.

“A winter session is convened only if the government has important business and a good number of bills. Just for one bill, calling such a short session is not the usual practice,” a source said.

If the proposed legislation is not passed in the winter session, it’s likely to go into cold storage as the 2011 Assembly session will not witness a full budget but a vote-on-account because of the elections.

An “elaborate discussion” — as mentioned by the chief whip — was not part of the strategy the government had drawn up. As the passage of the bill would have created over 56,000 jobs in 16,108 sishu siksha kendras that hold classes from I to IV and 1,900 Madhyamik siksha kendras (MSKs) that run classes from V to VIII, the government wanted to rush it through.

With protests from the Opposition parties and a section of CPM-backed teachers’ associations intensifying, the government referred the bill to the standing committee a day after it was introduced.

Panchayat minister Anisur Rahman had claimed on July 28 that the bill would be passed today. The standing committee referred it back to the House in less than 24 hours without making any changes.

The growing opposition to the bill — even some former CPM ministers are against it — forced the government to buy time and the business advisory committee of the Assembly extended the ongoing session till August 16, with an adjournment between July 31 and August 15.

“The extension was planned only to get this bill tabled and cleared on August 16. But that’s not happening. Getting it cleared in the winter session is a remote possibility,” said a CPM legislator.

“At an informal meeting of Left ministers in the Assembly yesterday, the possible impact of the bill was reassessed. They realised that the passage will create more problems for the government and the party than serving the intended purpose of winning votes,” said a CPM insider.

This realisation forced the government to drop its earlier plan. “To ensure that the Opposition parties do not get any chance to claim credit by forcing the government to scrap the bill, it was decided to put it in cold storage,” said the source.

MEANWHILE

Protest at teacher selection – corruption in Education sector complete ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Siliguri, July 30: Trinamul Youth Congress today launched an indefinite dharna in front of the District Primary School Council office in Jalpaiguri, alleging that friends and family members of CPM leaders had made it to the final list for the recruitment of teachers through unfair means.

The CPM’s youth wing admitted privately that many eligible candidates had been denied jobs because of the unfair practices adopted by the council.

The council had conducted entrance tests and interviews to fill up 1,411 vacant posts of primary schoolteachers in Jalpaiguri district and around 1,000 names were published yesterday for the recruitment.

“Ever since the the recruitment process was set in motion, the council has been acting in a biased manner and there had been disputes on a number of issues like the cut-off marks, vacancies in different categories and likewise,” said Chandan Bhowmik, the secretary general of Jalpaiguri district Trinamul Congress.

“We had been suspecting irregularities and our apprehensions were confirmed yesterday when the council published the results of the tests and the interviews. We found that most of the selected people are family members, friends and relatives of CPM leaders,” he said.

According to Bhowmik, the primary eligibility to appear for the exam was a Madhyamik certificate. “Since yesterday evening, several candidates, who had secured even 90 per cent marks in Madhyamik, have been approaching us, saying they could not clear the tests and interviews. But those with lower marks in Class X board exams made it to the final list,” said the Trinamul leader.

A total of 1,31,500 candidates had submitted applications for the 1,411 posts and around 21,000 were called for the exams based on their marks in Madhyamik. The final screening was conducted through interviews, in which 6,634 candidates had appeared.

Council sources said names of candidates selected for the remaining posts were kept on hold as verification of their qualifications and other details was yet to be completed.

The sources also said the wife of the council chairman was among the chosen candidates.

The recruitment drive had met with protests for other reasons also. Members of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad ransacked a bank distributing forms for the tests in the Dooars to protest “higher” cut-off marks for tribal candidates. The council was also accused of being lenient towards candidates who had resorted to cheating during the entrance tests.

Mrinal Pal, the council chairman, said he was not ready to comment on the allegations over the phone. “I cannot speak on the issue right now,” he said before switching off his cellphone.

The selection has irked the DYFI. “Instead of the needy youths, it is the relatives of leaders, right from branch committee level to district committee, who have been recruited for jobs,” said a DYFI leader.

The CPM, however, vouched that the selection process was fair and transparent. “Trinamul is levelling baseless allegations. The council has complied with all rules and formalities during the process,” said a member of the CPM’s Jalpaiguri district secretariat.

ELECTRICITY: Third power hike in a year

ELECTRICITY: Third power hike in a year – anything surprising in Bengal ?!!

Electricity Rate Hikes - Bengal suffers more ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

Calcutta, July 30: Your monthly electricity bill will rise for the third time in 12 months.

The state electricity regulatory commission today raised tariffs for both CESC Ltd, the private utility that caters only to Calcutta, and the government-run West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company (WBSEDCL), which supplies the rest of Bengal.

The hike comes into effect retrospectively from April 1 this year. Its burden will be more for the government utility’s 75 lakh-odd customers than the 25 lakh who have CESC connections (see chart).

However, the overall bill for WBSEDCL customers will be less than that of their Calcutta counterparts, although the gap now narrows.

You can, however, save money by switching to the prepaid system that works just like a prepaid mobile phone.

Under a new prepaid scheme, domestic users will be charged a flat tariff of Rs 4 per unit for a WBSEDCL connection and Rs 4.56 a unit for a CESC connection, irrespective of how much power they consume. Earlier, as in the post-paid system, the tariff in the prepaid regime too rose for each higher slab of volume of power consumed.

Most CESC consumers who opt to install a prepaid meter will actually pay less than what they are shelling out now (before the hike). WBSEDCL consumers who make the switch will not be so lucky, but will at least save themselves a part of the tariff increase.

“The regulator this time has fixed a flat tariff, irrespective of amount of electricity consumed, if a customer gets a prepaid meter connection,” WBSEDCL chairman Malay De said.

The tariff hike will raise CESC’s revenues by Rs 150 crore more and WBSEDCL’s by Rs 600 crore. “But this additional revenue will still not be sufficient to meet our cost increase,” De said. The regulator had revised power tariffs for both utilities in July 2009, and then allowed them to again raise their tariffs on an ad hoc basis in November following an increase in coal prices.

Today’s hike raises tariffs for industrial use steeply, by nearly Rs 1.50 per unit from what was proposed in the July 2009 revision. But industrial users too can partially protect themselves from the impact of the hike by switching to prepaid meters.