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HINDU, MAY 31, 2017
Retired civil servants pen anthology
A compendium of 30 articles on challenges faced by civil servants during their careers was released on Tuesday.
As many 32 retired civil servants of the 1966 batch have contributed to the anthology titled Making a Difference: Candid Perspectives from Civil Servants.
The book has been edited by ex-Delhi Chief Secretary Shailaja Chandra. Its Kindle edition was made available on Amazon.in from Tuesday. Among those who shared their experiences in the book are former Cabinet Secretary B.K. Chaturvedi, ex-Chief Election Commission N. Gopalaswami and Ms. Chandra.
Range of issues
The articles cover issues such as economic reforms, aviation security, gaps in census data, and challenges in building national highways.
There are light-hearted stories, too, like one about the transformation of a circus into a zoo in Maharashtra.
The authors said they hoped that the anthology would inspire the current members as well as those aspiring for the civil services.
The royalties from the book will be donated to a charity.
ECONOMIC TIMES, MAY 29, 2017
Poorquality picture on admit card? Bring ID proof like Aadhaar card: UPSC to civil services aspirants
NEW DELHI: Civil services aspirants will have to bring a copy of Aadhaar card or other identify proof to appear in the UPSC's preliminary examination on June 18 in case the photographs on their admit cards are of poor quality. In instructions issued to the aspirants for the test, the UPSC said those who have poorquality photographs on the e admit cards will have to bring "a photo identity proof like Aadhar card, driving licence, passport or voter icard and two passportsized photographs one for each session for appearing in the examination with an undertaking". The admit cards for the examination can be downloaded from the UPSC's website. The Aadhaar card, issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India, is a 12digit unique identity number and it can act as proof of identity and residence. The civil services examination is conducted annually by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) in three stages preliminary, main and interview to select officers for Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and Indian Police Service (IPS) among others. Mobile phones, calculators, IT gadgets and any other communication device such as bluetooth etc. won't be allowed inside the premises where the examination is being conducted, the UPSC said. Going abroad? Get unlimited incoming & 3 GB Airtel Narsee Monjee Distance Management PG programs Distance MBA Recommended By Colombia "Any infringements of these instructions shall entail disciplinary action including ban from future examinations," the Commission said. Candidates are advised not to bring any valuables/costly items and bags to the examination halls, as safe keeping of the same can not be assured. The Commission will not be responsible for any loss in this regard, the instructions said.
ECONOMIC TIMES, MAY 29, 2017
Government starts online performance assessment system for bureaucrats
30 Group A officers and 99 Group B officers have been sent on retirement in the past few months.
NEW DELHI: Probity, Sparrow and Solve -- these are the three new buzzwords for the central government by whichbureaucratsand their service records are now going to be assessed through online portals to take the big call on retiring the non-performers or identifying those lacking integrity.
The latest is the 'Online Probity Management System' launched by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) few days ago in association with other ministries to assess the integrity and performance levels of officers.
The government has been assessing the performance of all officers who have turned 50 or 55 or have completed 30 years of service to decide whether they be allowed to continue in service or compulsorily retired.
"Since the number of officers under review is huge, it involves lot of paperwork at ministries and the submission of regular physical reports.
The new 'Probity' portal makes the process completely online by which ministries can now submit their reports online and the government gets a birds eye-view of the status on one portal," a government official told ET.
The Minister of State for DoPT and PMO Jitendra Singh on Tuesday said 30 Group A officers and 99 Group B officers had been sent onretirementin the past few months. Citing the huge number of officer records being scanned, Singh said 24,000 Group A officers and 42,251 Group B officers were put under the scanner before the recent compulsory retirements while the government was looking into service records of another 34,451 Group A officers and 42,521 from Group B to check on non-performers.
The new 'Probity' portal is also monitoring the rotation of officers on sensitive and non-sensitive posts to identify officers occupying sensitive positions for over three months, a senior bureaucrat told ET.
The Sparrow (Smart performance appraisal report recording online window) system of the DoPT is meanwhile being used to make the entire appraisal system online and accessible for review by the ministries concerned.
The DoPT has recently extended 'Sparrow' from just the IAS cadre to 13 cadres, including the central secretariat services (CSS). An official said the idea is to make the 'Probity' and 'Sparrow' portals work in conjunction. The third DoPT portal is 'Solve' --a system for online vigilance enquiry for board-level appointees.
There is a plan to expand this portal for other employees to help the government coordinate between 'Probity', 'Sparrow' and 'Solve' portals to assess officers' performance and integrity.
PIONEER, MAY 25, 2017
48 BABUS YET TO FILL ONLINE APPRAISAL FORM4
As many as 48 IAS officers of the State have not filled their online appraisal forms despite repeated reminders being sent by the Personnel Department. The last date for marking the entries under the SPARROW window for online appraisal is December 31, 2016 for the year 2016-17. Under the All India Services Performance Appraisal Report Rules if the entries are not marked by the fixed date the process for appraisal cannot be done later. Because of the delay the work of reporting/reviewing and accepting at the higher level has been put on hold. If the officers do not mark their entries by 31/12/2017 the documentation of their appraisal work would not be completed and their promotions etc would be disrupted. Notably, the manual system of PAR will not be accepted by the Government of India,
PIONEER, MAY 27, 2017
FIVE IAS OFFICERS GET ACS RANK
The State Government has promoted five 1986- batch IAS officers to the Additional Chief Secretary (ACS) rank.
The General Administration Department on Thursday issued a notification in this regard on approval of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
The officers who were elevated are Asit Kumar Tripathy, Laxmi Narayan Gupta, Suresh Chandra Mohapatra, Sudashan Pal Thakur and G V Venugopala Sarma.
Sources said these officers were eagerly waiting for elevation as their batch mates in 20 other States have already got ACS ranks.
According to the decision, the promoted officers would continue in their present posts. While Tripathy is now named as ACS, Home, Gupta as ACS, MSME, Mohapatra as ACS, Forests and Environment, Sarma as ACS, Higher Education and Thakur would continue as Chief Administrator, KBK region.
TRIBUNE, MAY 25, 2017
Haryana no to across-board increase in retirement age
Would mean denying jobs to youth: Finance Minister
Disappointing thousands of employees, the Haryana Government today ruled out an across-the-board raise in the retirement age from 58 to 60. A three-member Cabinet subcommittee, constituted to study the issue, met for the second time under Finance Minister Capt Abhimanyu here today. Significantly, Health Minister Anil Vij was absent once again.
It was decided to consider a two-year extension for staff of departments facing a staff crunch. The next meeting on June 14 will consider limiting the term of non-IAS department heads as well as the selection norms for filling group D posts.
Capt Abhimanyu said an across-the-board increase in the retirement age was not desirable as it would only mean blocking job opportunities for the youth.
On May 8, the subcommittee had asked the Chief Secretary to submit a report on the number of vacancies, the number of employees retiring by the year-end and those re-employed. It seems only 39 officials have been re-employed. Departments, such as Elementary Education, Secondary Education and Irrigation will see a large number of vacancies in the coming years. We will have to decide accordingly, he said.
He said the government had already told the Haryana Public Service Commission and Haryana Staff Service Commission to fill 50,000 vacancies. Former CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda had raised the retirement age to 60 at the fag-end of his tenure. It was reversed by the Khattar government in 2014, but in February this year, it set up a subcommittee to study the issue afresh.
HINDU, MAY 24, 2017
IAS body criticises Guptas convictionSays ex-Secretary got then PMs nod
The IAS Association has hit out against a lower court order, which convicted former Coal Secretary H.C. Gupta in a case pertaining to illegal allocation of coalfields under the UPA government.
In a statement, the association said that approval of then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who also had the coal portfolio, had been obtained for coal block allocation.
In seven out of the 10 cases where Mr. Gupta has been accused, the CBI has not found evidence against him and had sought to close the cases, but the court did not agree. In three cases, the CBI had filed a charge sheet against him, the allegation primarily being of not following the guidelines, the statement said.
Mr. Gupta was the ex-officio capacity chairman of the screening committee set up for recommending allocation of coal blocks to different private firms. There is no charge of personal gain/gratification or in any case against Mr. Gupta. The fundamental point which clearly emerges is that Mr. Gupta is alleged to have not followed guidelines, and that the court seems to be taking the view that it is only the chairman who is responsible, not the members, said the statement.
ECONOMIC TIMES, MAY 24, 2017
Government asks 129 'nonperforming' babus to leave in public interest
NEW DELHI: As many as 129 government officers have been forced to retire in past few months in public interest for being nonperformers, Union minister Jitendra Singh said today. The action is part of review being done by the central government to check deadwood of its workforce. "A total of 30 Group A officers and 99 Group B officers (total 129) have been sent on retirement in past few months," he said during a press conference. The punishment of compulsory retirement was given after reviewing service records of over 24,000 Group A officers and 42,251 Group B officers. He said the authorities are looking into the service records of another 34,451 Group A officers and 42,521 from Group B to check the nonperformers. Singh, Minister of State in the Prime Minister's office, said the government has zerotolerance policy towards corruption and it is committed to ensure citizencentric governance. Help this drivers daughter battle Cancer! MILAAP Ready to go? What about travel Insurance? Bajaj Allianz Recommended By Colombia The Centre had in January terminated a senior IAS officer on grounds of nonperformance. Earlier in 2014, grafttainted IAS couple in Madhya Pradesh, Arvind and Tinoo Joshi, were dismissed from service, four years after an incometax search on their house led to detection of disproportionate assets worth Rs 350 crore and recovery of Rs three crore cash. A service review on a government employee is conducted twice first after 15 years and again after 25 years of completion of qualifying service.
STATESMAN, MAY 28, 2017
Coal convictions ~ I
The conviction of a former Coal Secretary, the present Chief Secretary of a state, and a Director (hereafter referred to as Coal Trio ) by a CBI court in the allocation of coal mines raises several disturbing issues.
For one, the government is a collective endeavour, not an individual enterprise, neither a latter-day East India Company nor for that matter a limited liability partnership. The logical corollary is that officers owe their allegiance to 1.30 billion Indians, not to a Board of Directors. The colonial government laid out extensive rules and regulations that have, by and large, stood the test of time, with minor modifications. Procedures of conduct of business and discipline are well-established and lines of control and coordination clearly delineated. With steady expansion of governmental activity, it was but inevitable that this structure would expand. As it expanded so did the levels of accountability such as RTIs, anonymous / pseudonymous complaints, Parliamentary Questions and Committees, Standing Committees, Expenditure Finance Committee, public suggestions, an often an aggressive media, public interest litigation and many more. Individual arbitrariness can now be openly and easily challenged.
Second, the doctrine of separation of powers found extensive application in government rules of business. For instance, a fresh proposal that originates in a Section Officer of a functional wing of a Ministry is routed through an Under Secretary, Deputy Secretary/Director, Joint/Additional Secretary or both, and thence to the Integrated Financial Adviser, finally to the Secretary/ Minister in accordance with the prescribed delegation of financial powers. In case inter-state and inter-ministerial consultation/concurrence is involved, then a similar network takes over before an opinion is given to the originating m. A similar procedure is followed regarding payments.
A sanctioning authority cannot sign a pay order for even a rupee. The officer who prepares a payment bill is different from the on who scrutinizes it, and the final cheque signing authority is different from the one into whose cash-book that payment goes. There is no way a senior officer can act in splendid solitude.
The third issue is the rapidly dwindling financial fortune of the states and the Centre. The recent NK Singh committee report on Government debt pegged the Government of Indias debt to GDP ratio at 68 per cent... with this figure rising alarmingly every year. In 2016-17, recent media reports said that the Government had paid about Rs 12 lakh crore, of a Rs 22 lakh crore expenditure budget, towards debt servicing in the last fiscal alone. In addition, the central government is divesting small percentages of its shares in public sector undertakings and allowing their listing on the countrys bourses.
Further, government shares in large private sector companies are also reported to be up for sale, though to state-owned entities like LIC, mainly. Revenue expenditure too is rapidly rising with expenses on defence and home, bank recapitalisation and currency demonetisation and implementation of the 7th Central Pay Commission award and many more, leaving most capital expenditure to be funded by borrowings. The ongoing economic downturn has not helped governments either; it has instead adversely affected collection of revenues in real terms. It is, therefore, obvious that governments no longer have the solo wherewithal to bankroll mega projects. Hence the rising stress on public-private partnerships, outright and strategic sales of public sector units, monetisation of physical assets owned by the government and their entities, often unrealistic dividend payouts by public sector units, and many more measures.
Inevitability of best-conditions/price for state assets thus became the source of sustenance for a cash-strapped government even as its civil servants were hardly trained for it.
Fourth, these adversities coupled with popular expectations have had their invariable fallout on the civil service. Neither were the old rules revised nor were the new rules unambiguous. A classical Weberian bureaucracy that relied on state resources for its absolute power, gradually found itself in the mould of negotiators seeking official and remunerative deals for their employers, from the non-government sector that also was a major source of election financing. The end result was the bureaucracys hasty cobbling of one-sided and unilaterally-imposed guidelines that hobbled the negotiator rather than than enabled him/her. Neither were the covenanted bureaucracys antediluvian recruitment methods via the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) re-written, nor was their training and, least of all the protection that they merited for their lack of training and business sense.
What use was a botanist IAS officer if he/she could not negotiate because he/she was not trained to do so? What was infinitely worse was the fact of popular perception, fanned moslyt by the media, demanding that a civil servant be a public servant while being a businessman, an evident contradiction in terms. In fact, with rising private participation in the economy, particularly in infrastructure and defence, many more senior civil servants may face the jail at a time when they ought to be enjoying playing golf and camping in their post-superannuation years.
Fifth, successive governments vacillated from allocation to auction of natural and public resources, both equally opaque. Auction of telecom airwaves stymied Indias telecom sector and maimed it with amongst the highest non-performing assets of public sector banks and little resources to expand and improve connectivity. It also wrecked the financial position of BSNL and MTNL. Scandalising the award of licences to new competitors played into the hands of the existing domestic operators cartel in the absence of MTNL and BSNL. A compliant TRAI only compounded the mess. Likewise, in coal auctions, an unstated windfall gain on a Coal Ministry file virtually ended up making a case for import cartels. Abnormally high rates of spectrum and FM airwaves subsequently caused the Government of India to realise barely a tenth of their target. The shortfall of about Rs. 65000 crore would have been made good by borrowing at interest rates of 7-11 per cent per annum.
Constitutional functionaries and investigation force heads, all serving or former civil servants themselves, to play into this vacuum between policy and implementation, for entirely selfingratiating reasons. This wreaked havoc upon the exchequer and the nation by propounding revenue generation as the be-all and end-all of government policy. In the process, they also severely dented the credibility of institutions they headed. The end result was also abnormally high minimum reserve prices for all natural and public resources that were plainly commercially unviable.
The writer is a senior public policy analyst and commentator
STATESMAN, MAY 29, 2017
Regretfully, successive governments and courts, for long attuned to believing there was no replacement for government rules, paid heed to the scandalizing of nearly all public policy decisions on natural and public resources, without much visible and final gain on the legal enforcement of accountability, several years later. Needless to add, opacity surrounding appointment of top civil servants to sensitive posts has always been the subject matter of extensive debate, merit being the critical casualty. Many a constitutional functionary and investigative agency head are presently under the scanner.
A survey conducted by UNODC in 2011 showed that there was corruption in 9.68 per cent of PPP procurement, 19.35 per cent fabricated and false financial statements, another 19.35 per cent colluded with governments to select a pre-determined bidder while 22.58 per cent resorted to bribery to governments PPP related partners. On the governments side, 10.11 per cent of officials surveyed felt that government tender evaluators colluded with the private partner, 13.48 per cent accused politicians of colluding with politicians, 20.22 per cent believed that independent consultants hired by the government colluded with the concessionaire, 25.84 per cent believed that there was misrepresentation of facts by bidders and 30.34 per cent thought that concessionaires misrepresented facts. Private PPP partners felt that the prime reason for corruption was due to lack of rules (26.90 per cent), lack of transparency (19.23 per cent), weak monitoring procedures (15.38 per cent) and the absence of enforceable penal provisions (19.23 per cent).
On the other hand, the government responded by blaming lack of due diligence (9.17 per cent), lack of transparency (12.50 per cent), lack of rules and guidelines (14.10 per cent), no penal provisions (14.17 per cent), poor grievance redressal (14.17 per cent) and weak monitoring (18.33 per cent) as the major cause of corruption in PPP ventures. In fact, both government and PPP partners agreed that confidentiality of bids were shared by both partners and that corruption also had its genesis in the definition of the pre-qualification criteria. Likewise, government and their PPP partners agreed that there was pressure from senior members of the government. India is no exception when it comes to PPPs. The coal case possibly had all these failings.
Did the Coal Trio have the support of unambiguous rules and regulations in their endeavours in this cess pool? Further, did they have any option but to pay heed to their political master even when their service rules demanded an absolute level of probity that even God would not have? In that event, why did they not record their objections to their Minister even if that meant an outward kick to a sinecure or voluntary retirement? Did investigators and courts consider the fact that these civil servants violated non-binding guidelines? No mens rea has been found in the case against Gupta, Kropha and Samaria, say media reports. Then what is the legal basis of the conviction is the next obvious question? How do government rules and regulations distinguish between a corrupt act and a bona fide but failed business decision and who judges such failures? There are no answers so far.
Almost everyone is harping on a particular provision of the Prevention of Corruption Act and service conduct rules that have landed the Coal Trio in trouble and which is wide enough to encompass matters from coal mine allocation to sneezing on duty, all justified in the name of unbecoming behaviour and the need for absolute integrity. Ironically, the very rules that civil servants had authored in the distant colonial past have never been rewritten to address the demands of our democracy.
For instance, taking advantage of governments travelling allowance rules, a colleague of mine bought two Manipuri ponies while he was posted in that state. On his transfer to Mumbai, the government paid for the transport of his horses. This officer then made a tidy killing at Mumbais Mahalaxmi Race Course where these ponies earned handsome rewards till they were sold for several lakh rupees.
Was this unbecoming behaviour? Was this absolute integrity? Should the officer have deposited his winnings in the races or the sale consideration of the ponies years later? One could argue either way. That, precisely, is the crux of the Coal Trios ongoing tribulations.
Finally, in 1994, a Maharatnas apex executives were found to be receiving large telephone bills at their official home phones with call details showing overseas outward calls having been made. These executives were also incurring abnormally high entertainment expenses and staff car running costs. This Maharatna then faced a severe orders crunch and were rapidly losing their senior general managers to the emerging private power producers. The company had no choice but to overlook such expenditures if they were to retain their top management. In fact, their gross salaries ran into paltry thousand rupees every month whereas their contract approving powers were Rs. 50 crore and above. For the manifold risks incurred by the Coal Trio and many others like them, present and future, there is neither corresponding protection of rules nor hedging by larger salaries. The quality of recruits to covenanted services is declining in academic attainment standards every year and there are gaping holes in the working strength of each central and allIndia service, often ranging upwards of an unsustainable 40 per cent. Yet the civil services needs just a bare pass mark in an undergraduate pass course although technical, legal and finance officers face barriers like a 60 per cent undergraduate aggregate, GRE, GMAT, CLAT and other scores, work experience, specialised degrees, for much lower salaries. The coal case has made government service even more unattractive, way beyond the absence of pension for post-2003 recruits.
INDIAN EXPRESS, MAY 24, 2017
MHRD plans national test for schoolteachers
In a bid to monitor absence of teachers in schools, a biometric, portable attendance system will be rolled out in Chhattisgarh from August.
The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) is considering a national-level test for school teachers based on which states could choose to employ them.We are proposing a national test like Common Admission Test (CAT, which the IIMs employ) or SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) for evaluation of teachers. We will have a merit list and let the states decide whether they want to employ these teachers or not. They still have the choice to conduct their own exams. We will not force the evaluation on them, said Anil Swarup, secretary, MHRDs department of school education and literacy, on the sidelines of a seminar on Creating a robust school education system as the bedrock of new India organised by the Merchants Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The CAT-like evaluation will be a benchmark for teachers, but a lot will depend on discussion with the state governments. We wish to have talks with all stakeholders. Then the recruiting agencies will decide.
Meanwhile, Swarup said that around 40 to 50 per cent of B.Ed colleges may lose affiliation in the coming months for not responding to National Council for Teacher Educations (NCTEs) instructions to furnish affidavits on their functioning.
The NCTE had asked for affidavits for details like how many teachers these colleges have and etc. Around 35 to 40 per cent have not even responded. This indicates that there is some problem. It is becoming clear that a large number of so-called B.Ed colleges are not doing the work that they are meant to do. We will come down heavily on people who are playing with education in this country, Swarup said adding, Do not be surprised if 40 to 50 per cent of B.Ed colleges lose their affiliation in coming three to four months.
In a bid to monitor the absence of teachers from duty in schools, Swarup said that a biometric, portable attendance system will be rolled out in Chhattisgarh from August.
In some states, 25 per cent teachers do not attend schools. We are doing a huge experiment in Chhattisgarh. All schools will have GPS-linked biometric-enabled tablets to monitor attendance of teachers. It will also store all data created at the school level. We are introducing the system first in Chattisgarh as a pilot from August and then hope to extend it all over the country gradually, but it is again up to the states to introduce the system, he said adding, After Chhattisgarh, some other states like Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan also showed interest to implement it on their own.
INDIAN EXPRESS, MAY 27, 2017
Delhi govt school principals told to stay an hour extra everyFridayPrincipals say this is a move in the right direction and will help in better planning.
The teachers and heads of Delhi government schools have a new order from the government: Stay back one hour after school on Friday. While issuing the directive, the government pointed out that heads of schools, during staff meetings, focus more on discussing administrative issues than the quality of education. The circular, from the Directorate of Education (DoE), was sent to the schools on Friday. They have also been told that if any holiday falls on Friday, the meeting must be held on Thursday.
It has been observed that during staff meetings, the heads of schools are focussing more on administrative issues, at the cost of monitoring core academic quality. Paucity of time is cited as the reason for the same, read the notice sent to schools. Teachers and principals have been told that teaching, learning and academic discussions are pivotal activities and must be prioritised above all else.
With this one-hour extension on Fridays, the single shift school teachers will have to stay in school from 7.15 am to 2.45 pm or 7.45 am to 3.15 pm. Those functioning under the double shift for morning schools will have to stay in school from 6.45 am to 1.45 pm. For evening, the timing is 12.45 pm to 7.45 pm. There are, however, separate timings for summer and winter.
The government has also enlisted specific issues that need to be discussed during the one-hour Friday meetings. The increased duration of one hour is to be purely used for monitoring and planning discussions on issues such as assessment of learning gaps, strategies to bridge gaps, maintenance and checking of notebooks, designing of class tests, preparing personal lessons, inputs about weak students and initiatives for improvement in their performance, read the circular.
From time to time, the meetings can also be utilised to discuss curbing truancy, improving discipline and punctuality. Principals say this is a move in the right direction and will help in better planning. This is a very good initiative as it will help teachers and the schools to prepare better. It is being practiced in all private schools, so why not have it in our government schools as well, said Awadhesh Jha, principal of Sarvodaya co-ed Vidyalaya, Sector 8 Rohini.
However, the Government School Teachers Association (GSTA) raised its voice against the directive. If this directive is not taken back, we will protest against it. It has nothing to do with improvement of the school or the children, said Ajay Veer Yadav, general secretary, GSTA.
TIMES OF INDIA, MAY 26, 2017
`VCs cannot recruit or take policy decisions 3 months before end of tenure'
CHENNAI: The state higher education department has directed vicechancellors of state universities to avoid recruiting or taking crucial policy decisions during the last three months of hisher tenure.
The department sent a letter stating as much to all universities last month. The animal husbandry department has reportedly sent similar instructions to the VC ofTamil NaduVeterinary and Animal SciencesUniversity(Tanuvas).
It is based on a recommendation from the principal secretary to the governor-chancellor, based on several representations made by teachers' associations pertaining to corruption in recruitments.
The department had earlier issued a Government Order (GO) on April 14 that barred universities from recruitmenting until the redeployment of excess staff fromAnnamalai Universityis completed.
A senior official said the department took the decision to avoid charges of corruption that surround recruitments to teaching and nonteaching posts that are advertised during the fag end of the career of a vice-chancellor.
Professors across the state say they have to pay close to `20 lakh for the post of assistant professor. They have welcomed the order.Association of University Teachers(AUT) vice-president N Pasupathy alleged that Salem-basedPeriyar Universityviolated the directive by conducting interviews for a postgraduate extension centre at a university in Dharmapuri on May 24. The term of the VC is due to end on June 15. The ratification to conduct recruitments has been placed for review in Thursday's syndicate meeting.
A senior official from Periyar University clarified that the higher education department treated this as a special case and gave them permission based on a representation.
"The file was circulated to the syndicate," the official said.
The higher education department took into consideration the fact that Dharmapuri is a comparatively backward district and that the advertisments were floated a year ago, sources said.
However, no such relaxation will be provided for other universities, a senior official said.
DECCANN HERALD, MAY 31, 2017
Govt for making father's name optional
'That's a good suggestion. If somebody wants to mention his/her mother's name, it's his/her choice. We will look into it to see if mentioning the father's name is mandatory,' HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar said. PTI file photo
The Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry has favoured Union Minister Maneka Gandhis request for scrapping the rule stipulating the compulsory mention of fathers name on academic certificates.
It, however, needs to find out if mentioning the students fathers name for his/her academic certificates is mandatory in higher education.
Thats a good suggestion. If somebody wants to mention his/her mothers name, its his/her choice. We will look into it to see if mentioning the fathers name is mandatory, HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar said.
So far we understand that mentioning the fathers name in a students certificate should not be mandatory. I know some cases where students submitted the name of their mother for the academic records with their educational institutions, instead of giving the name of their father, an official in the ministry said.
The issue brought to the notice of the ministry by Maneka Gandhi, however, needs to be examined, he said.
HINDUSTAN TIMES, MAY 26, 2017
5.35 lakh UP teachers to get 7th pay commission benefits from May
At least 5.35 lakh teachers at government-run primary and upper primary schools in Uttar Pradesh will start getting salaries as per the recommendations of the seventh pay commission by the end of May.
At least 5.35 lakh teachers at government-run primary and upper primary schools in Uttar Pradesh will start getting salaries as per the recommendations of the seventh pay commission by the end of May.
Though the government issued the order on December 22 last year, which stated that the benefits would be granted with retrospective effect from January 1, 2016, the implementation got delayed in the absence of a software for the purpose, officials said.
The teachers in about 1.60 lakh schools across the state will get a salary hike, which will range between Rs 5,733 and Rs 13,674, depending on their pay scale. The arrears from January 2016 to April 2017 will be paid in two instalments in the financial years 2017-18 and 2018-19.
According to sources, there are plans that arrears will be paid as and when funds are available with the government.
Finance controller (basic) Manishankar Pandey said the work of salary fixation and data feeding has begun in all the districts and that officials have been directed to complete the work on priority.
Senior finance and accounts officer (basic education) Vimlesh Yadav said the scale of the task could be gauged from the fact that the work of salary fixation and data feeding of over 13,500 government school teachers was underway in Allahabad district alone.
He said the teachers would receive the enhanced salary by the end of this month.
STATESMAN, MAY 29, 2017
Underemployment more serious than unemployment: Niti Aayog
"Severe underemployment" and not unemployment is a more serious problem as a job that needs to be done by one person is often performed by two or more workers, says the government's policy think tank Niti Aayog.
This assertion comes amid Congress's criticism of the Narendra Modi government over creating lesser jobs.
In its draft three-year action agenda report for 2017-18 to 2019-20, the Niti Aayog stressed on the need for creation of high-productivity and high-wage jobs.
"Indeed, unemployment is the lesser of India's problems.
The more serious problem, instead, is severe underemployment.
A job that one worker can perform is often performed by two or more workers," it said.
The draft report was circulated among the Governing Council members (consisting of chief ministers of all states and others) of the Niti Aayog on 23April.
Contrary to some assertions that India's growth has been jobless, the Employment Unemployment Surveys of the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), which till date remain the most reliable sources of information on the country's employment situation, have consistently reported low and stable rates of unemployment over more than three decades, it said.
Citing examples, the Niti Aayog said as per NSSO survey, in 2011-12, 49 per cent of the work force was employed in agriculture but the sector contributed only 17 per cent of India's GDP at current prices.
Second in 2010-11, firms with less than 20 workers employed 72 per cent of India's manufacturing workforce but contributed only 12 per cent of manufacturing output, it said.
According to 2006-07 NSSO survey of service firms, the 650 largest enterprises accounted for 38 per cent of services output but only employed two per cent of service workers.
"Put another way, the remaining service firms employed 98 per cent of the work force but produced only 62 per cent of the outcome," the report said.
Citing the example of China's ageing work force, the Niti Aayog stressed on attracting big firms working in that country to India which has availability of large workers at competitive wages.
"The experience of countries that managed to transform rapidly, such as South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and China, shows that the manufacturing sector and the ability to compete in the vast global marketplace hold the key to the creation of well-paid jobs for law and semi-skilled workers.
"The 'Make in India' campaign needs to succeed by manufacturing for global markets," it said.
The report said due to an ageing work force in China with high wages, many large-scale firms in labour-intensive sectors currently manufacturing in that country are looking for lower-wage locations.
"With its large workforce and competitive wages, India would be a natural home for these firms," the report said.
TRIBUNE, MAY 17, 2017
Not enough reforms happening
Several irritants deter foreign investment in India red tape, unpredictable taxes and high debt among them. By scrapping the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), the government has belatedly removed at least one nuisance, one bureaucratic layer. The rest of the bureaucratic maze is intact. Not much should be made of one entity going; it had become redundant long ago. More than 90 per cent FDI proposals come through the automatic route. For the remaining the department concerned will give time-bound clearances and rejections have been made difficult. Officials propensity to sit on files may reduce. Still the government needs to shed more fat. There are many undertakings that have either become irrelevant or are a drain on resources.
More needs to be done if India is to improve its ranking on the ease of doing business from a low of 130th in a list of 190 nations. The country is missing out a great opportunity thrown by a tough global economic environment; it is not doing enough to set its house in order when surplus global capital is waiting to be tapped. Moodys downgrade of its China rating on account of the debt debilitating the countrys financial muscle offers India both a chance to fill the space being vacated and a lesson not to go the China way. Indias high debt has held back a global rating improvement. The other constraints frequently pointed out include corruption, infrastructural bottlenecks, inflexible labour laws and a swifter legal mechanism for dispute settlement.
The governments tendency to retrospectively amend laws is taxing for both foreign and domestic investors. How crucial laws can be amended quickly and without debate was clear from the manner in which the money Bill was passed recently. Vast discretionary powers have been given to tax officials, strengthening the dreaded Inspector Raj. The GST was supposed to lower taxes, simplify procedures and raise productivity. Doubts have risen with greater clarity about its final shape. Japan has pledged huge investments in the Delhi-Mumbai and Chennai-Bengaluru industrial corridors as also the bullet train project. It has made 35 specific suggestions relating, among others, to taxes, banking, logistics, infrastructure, visas and lack of Centre-state coordination. But the government has not been responsive enough.
DECCAN HERALD, MAY 24, 2017
Overstaying VIPs, a legacy to be rid of
Thick-skinned politicians who have been overstaying in the posh government bungalows in the elite New Delhi area or what is called Lutyens Delhi are going to lose their coveted abode. The NDA government at the Centre is now ready to destabilise long-time power-wielders from their very roots. The Union Cabinet has approved an amendment to the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act 1971 that will make eviction of overstaying VIPs from government accommodation much easier. As against 60 days notice at present, the overstaying allottees will be given three days time to vacate. Besides, the jurisdiction of lower courts to intervene in such matters has been removed and henceforth, the aggrieved parties can only approach the high court or the Supreme Court for possible relief.
When the British government moved its imperial capital from Calcutta to New Delhi in 1911, architect Edwin Lutyens was commissioned to design the Viceroys House (now used as Rashtrapati Bhavan), the Rajpath and a series of sprawling mansions for high-ranking officials, which is recognised as Lutyens Bungalow Zone (LBZ). These 1,000-odd bungalows, sitting on two to three acres each of prime land along with another 9,000 or so plush government accommodation, are much in demand by the new elite of independent India. There are rules and regulations for their allotment, mostly to ministers, high-ranking bureaucrats, MPs, political parties and prestigious institutions, but problems have arisen whenever those losing entitlement have refused to move out. Some prominent politicians or their surviving family members had turned squatters of Lutyens Delhi as it was both a matter of status symbol and necessity for them to remain close to seats of power. Currently, there are two Congress chief ministers and a BJP chief minister, who are hanging on to the bungalows allotted to them when they were Union ministers. Over the last three years, the NDA government has managed to evict about 1,500 squatters of different categories, and the new amendment should make the process much smoother.
Maverick advocate-politician Ram Jethmalani, who was briefly the Union minister for urban development in a coalition government in 1998, had questioned the need for maintaining an expensive LBZ for a small section of power-seekers, when a large number of citizens lived in over-crowded localities. He had even set up a six-member committee of architects and planners to suggest ways for optimum utilisation of space with better amenities. Maybe, it is time to take a fresh look at this colonial legacy.
TELEGRAPH, MAY 24, 2017
A growing chasm- The disconnect of the intellectuals
One of the striking features of the present situation in the world is that in almost every country there is a disconnect between the people and the intellectuals. Of course, one may interject that they were never connected: there was always a big social divide between them, and little direct contact or awareness of one another. But political parties provided a bridge between them, so that the intellectuals had a constituency among the people through these parties. They were always ideologically divided among themselves, but so were the people; hence the indirect connect between the intellectuals and the people was unaffected by such divisions.
In Britain, for instance, many intellectuals of the Left, empathizing with the workers, built links with them through political parties like the Labour Party or the Communist Party. Conservative intellectuals also built such links, through the Conservative Party, withitsrank-and-file supporters.
In general, what the intellectuals said mattered, if not directly to the people then at least indirectly through the political parties, which commanded people's allegiance and which themselves were led by intellectuals or persons who valued intellectuals.What we now have, however, is a growing disconnect of the people not just from the intellectuals but also from the traditional political parties that valued, and to an extent still value, intellectuals.
In India of course, because of the anti-colonial struggle that drew significantly on their support, there was a regard for intellectuals among the common people which was especially pronounced for academics. In the old days in Delhi, when I sometimes committed some minor traffic offence while driving absent-mindedly, I would be let off by the cops when they heard that I taught at the Jawaharlal Nehru University. In villages, people often looked up to the local school teacher to get their moral bearings right.
All this has changed, of late. The emerging Right, almost everywhere in the world, is led by people who neither can be called intellectuals by any stretch of the imagination nor have much use for intellectuals. Neither Donald Trump, nor Narendra Modi, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Nigel Farage can be said to have had a notable educational background, not even Marine Le Pen (who had a rather undistinguished legal education). The fact that they shun intellectuals, who also by and large reciprocate the feeling, is not surprising. What is noteworthy is the declining fortunes of political parties that did cherish intellectuals, and, even more importantly, a discernible distrust everywhere among the people for intellectuals. The rise of right-wing parties with divisive agendas and little by way of concrete programmes for the benefit of the people, despite the opposition of the overwhelming majority of intellectuals, is a clear symptom of this.
This is not a sign of coming to maturity on the part of the people where they do not need anyone to tell them what is right and they themselves become their own intellectuals; had this been the case, one would have applauded this new trend. There is alas an element of sheer anti-intellectualism in the air at present which is disturbing because it can be used, and is being used, for fascist purposes.
How can one explain this change that has occurred? While the answer is not easy, the neo-liberal dispensation to my mind has played a role in this shift, and I can think of at least three ways in which it has done so. First, there is no doubt that intellectuals, including academic intellectuals, have been major beneficiaries under this dispensation. I had once suggested on the basis of a rough calculation (The Telegraph, May 25, 2015) that in India the relative income of a representative academicvis--visa representative peasant today is at least three times what it was in 1973. While neo-liberalism has entailed the withdrawal of support by the State from peasant agriculture, pushing the peasantry into distress and even suicides, it has opened up opportunities for a segment of the middle class, including the intellectuals. Since a worsening of the position of the peasantry is generally accompanied by a worsening of the position of workers, both organized and unorganized, the economic and, hence, the social distance between the working people at large and the intellectuals has increased considerably.
This is not confined only to India. It is a global phenomenon in which the improving position of the Indian and the Chinese middle classes in the era of globalization stands out with particular sharpness. Indeed, economist Branko Milanovic has shown that if we plot the percentage increase in real income between 1988 and 2008 on the vertical axis and the world population in percentile groups of ascending income along the horizontal axis, then we get an 'elephant curve'. Those towards the bottom have not witnessed much increase in real income; those in the middle, consisting, significantly, of Indian and Chinese middle classes, have witnessed much improvement (the elephant's back); those further up have, again, witnessed little improvement (the workers in the advanced countries); while the top decile has certainly witnessed significant improvement (the elephant's raised trunk). Everywhere in short the distance between the working people and the intellectuals, who have participated in this middle class prosperity, has increased. Not surprisingly, people's attitude towards intellectuals is marked today, unlike earlier, with a degree of hostility.
Secondly, whether for this reason or because of a certain idealistic yearning for transcending narrow nationalistic boundaries (which is certainly the case with the European progressives), intellectuals, including even those belonging to the Left, have, by and large, been votaries of globalization. No doubt the progressive ones among them have criticized globalization for its many failings, but the idea of delinking one's economy from globalization has scarcely been mooted in a serious manner by any of them; which is why notwithstanding all their criticism they have willy-nilly fallen in line with the neo-liberal agenda.
In no country of the world have liberal, and even Left, intellectuals played the role of being 'tribunes of the people'. On the contrary, notwithstanding all their sensitivities, they have gone along with the celebration of globalization that finance capital has orchestrated. In our country, where caste consciousness additionally buttresses insensitivity towards the poor, this celebration has taken the form of singing hosannas to high GDP growth, with, at best, a complacent belief that its benefits would eventually 'trickle down' to the poor.
There has been little in short to distinguish the intellectuals from the standard cheerleaders for globalization; and since the intellectuals have also been its beneficiary, it is hardly surprising that the victims of globalization, whether in the US or in India, have lost respect for the intellectuals, attributing to them an 'I-am-all-right-Jack' attitude.
This is also the reason why people have increasingly got disillusioned with the traditional political parties, whether of the Right or of the Left: these parties have also gone along with globalization with apparent unconcern for the sufferings it has caused to the working people. True, many progressive parties have gone along with it because any alternative to it would cause immense difficulties in the period of transition, difficulties arisinginter aliafrom the capital flight that would inevitably accompany any delinking from globalization. But whether out of pusillanimity or commitment, the support for globalization among traditional political parties has not endeared them to the working people who are hard-hit by globalization. Hence, even the indirect link that the intellectuals had with the peopleviapolitical parties has got snapped; the traditional political parties constituting this link have themselves declined.
The third way in which globalization has adversely affected the position of intellectuals is by a process of destruction of education which it has effected by commoditizing it. If critical thinking has been discouraged, if capsules called 'learning' have been sought to be imparted to students whose parents have paid through their noses for such education and who, therefore, have only one over-riding objective, namely, to reproduce these capsules in examination time to get good marks that would enable them to land lucrative jobs for recouping their parents' expenditure, then little scope is left anyway for appreciating the positions taken by intellectuals. The decline in the quality of intellectual life to which globalization has contributed greatly is certainly responsible in part for the decline in the status of intellectuals.
This decline, however, is unfortunate, since the disconnect of the people from the intellectuals, among whom there is usually a preponderance of opinion in favour of tolerance, secularism and the Welfare State, opens the way for fascist and divisive forces to thrive. But overcoming this disconnect requires far greater engagement on the part of the intellectuals than they have shown until now with the plight of those who have been the victims of globalization.
INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC RELATIONS
ECONOMIC TIMES, MAY 25, 2017
US proposes to reduce developmental assistance to India
WASHINGTON: The Trump administration has proposed to reduce its developmental assistance toIndiafrom USD 85 million in 2016 to a mere USD 33.3 million in 2018.
A major portion of the proposed developmental assistance to India is the US Agency for International Development-led global health programme, which again has dropped from USD 35.5 million in 2016 to USD 19.6 million for the next fiscal beginning October 1, 2017.
In the budget proposal, the US' financial assistance to India for international military education and training has been slightly increased from USD 1.2 million to USD 1.3 million, whereas the financial assistance towards counter- terrorism cooperation has been retained at USD 2 million.
Overall, US PresidentDonald Trumpproposed a massive reduction in American aid to South Asian countries.
In his maiden annual budget, he has chopped off foreign military financing to all countries in South Asia except forPakistan.
Afghanistan, where US has stationed more than 8,000 troops and where the Trump Administration is considering sending more soldiers on the ground, has managed to retain largest level of American funding for the fiscal year 2018.
According to the annual budget proposals sent by the State Department to the Congress, the entire foreign assistance to South and Central Asian countries have been reduced from about USD 2 billion in 2016 to USD 1.4 billion in 2018.
Of this, Afghanistan alone accounts for more than half USD 782 million for the fiscal year 2018.
ForBangladesh, the State Department has reduced the financial assistance from USD 210 million in 2016 to USD 138 million in 2018.
A major chunk (USD95 million) of assistance to Bangladesh is towards strengthening of democracy and economic development of this South Asian country.
Maldives, which is facing extinction from the dangers of climate change, has received a massive cut in developmental assistance from USD 3.3 million in 2016 to a mere 440,000 in 2018, as per budgetary State Department proposals.
Nepal too is off the Trump's list of Foreign Military Financing as the budgetary proposal for 2018 indicates the figure to zero as against USD 18 million in 2016.
But it has maintained the same level of assistance towards military training and education: USD 0.8 million in 2016 to USD 0.9 million in 2018.
Sri Lanka is another country where Trump has proposed a massive budgetary cut in its financial assistance which has come down from USD 42.5 million in 2016 to a mere USD 3.3 million in 2018.
Most of the funding (USD 2.8 million) would towards peace and security including combating weapons of mass destruction, and stabilisation operations and security sector reform.
Military training and education accounts for another half a million USD, according to US budgetary papers.
The author is Professor Emeritus, Centre for Economic Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
PIONEER, MAY 26, 2017
US CUTS PAK MILITARY AID BY 60%
Overall, Trump Admin proposes massive $190 million reduction in financial support
The Donald Trump Administration has slashed its Foreign Military Funding (FMF) to Pakistan from $255 million to $100 million for the 2018 fiscal, but has kept its options open whether it would be a grant or should be converted into a loan, according to a US official. In all, the US State Department has proposed a massive $190 million reduction in its financial aid to Pakistan as compared to the 2016 fiscal.
Last year, the US assistance to Pakistan under the State Department budget was $534 million, which included $225 million towards foreign military funding. The current 2017 fiscal ends on September 30 this year.
The Foreign Military Funding or FMF for Pakistan would be provided in the form of a loan guarantee, said Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management of Budget in the White House.
Responding to questions, Mulvaney said the Trump Administration has proposed to convert its FMF programme to many countries from aid to financial loan. Pakistan is one of those countries. However, the White House added, Whether the funding is provided through grants, or as a subsidy for a guaranteed loan, is an option the State Department can exercise to ensure our foreign assistance best supports our national interests.
The White House said that FMF to Israel and Egypt would continue to be in the form of grant. While we may use FMF to leverage loans for some countries, we will still maintain the flexibility to use it as grant assistance where needed, a State Department spokesman told PTI when asked about the budget proposal of $100 million in foreign military funding to Pakistan.
This budget focuses on bilateral FMF assistance requested for Israel ($3.1 billion), Egypt ($1.3 billion), Jordan ($350 million), and Pakistan ($100 million), the spokesman said on Tuesday.
This is one of the options that the administration had explored in its internal deliberations, but the request itself does not make that determination, the White House later clarified indicating it might revert to the original financial grant to Pakistan to sell military hardware if need be.
Our argument was instead of giving somebody $100 million, we can give them a smaller number worth of loan guarantees and they can actually buy more stuff. We did not change it for Israel. We did not change it for Egypt, said Mulvaney.
In another major development, the Trump administration in its annual Budget for 2018 fiscal beginning October 1 this year has proposed to end the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capabilities Fund (PCCF), which was budgeted as $9 million in both 2016 and 2017.
PCCF was designed to build the counterinsurgency capabilities of Pakistans security forces engaged in operations against extremists in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
While the counterinsurgency purpose underlying the PCCF account and the maintenance of close US Pakistani military ties remain important administration priorities, these needs have been met through other accounts, including Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and International Military Education and Training (IMET), since the FY 2014 Request, the White House said in its budgetary explanation.
The State Department said the $100 million in FMF to Pakistan will be used to advance US national security interests in that country by supporting Pakistans capacity to improve stability and security and fight terrorism, including through the elimination of safe havens for terrorist and militant organisations.
The money would be used to continue efforts to build the counterterrorism and counterinsurgency capabilities of Pakistans security forces to improve security in the tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan, achieve progress on joint US-Pakistan objectives, including bilateral efforts to decimate core al-Qaeda elements and confront the emerging threat posed by ISIS-Khorasan Province.
Funds will also improve Pakistans ability to participate in US-led Coalition Maritime Forces and patrol its maritime borders to stem the flow of illicit materials and personnel, it said.
PIONEER, MAY 27, 2017
TRUMPS SAUDI VISIT AND WIDENING ISLAMIC SCHISM
Trump arrived in Saudi Arabia to rebuff the various attempts at policy making by Obama when he struck a clearly discernible nuclear deal with Iran and attempted a wholehearted rapprochement between the Sharia nation and the Satan Nation as has been the nomenclature employed in the general tardy narrative between both the nations
PresidentDonald Trumptweeted on landing in Saudi Arabia, where-in the Saudi state head was brought on an aircraft car to receive the US President. The tweet expressed, I have reached Riyadh and I am looking forward to the afternoon and the evening that lies ahead. The royal welcome accorded to Trump happens to be that of phalanx of red, white and blue contrails as the Air Force One, hovered over Riyadh and the terminology used by the Saudi leaders has been Historic. The multistory image of the President was another mainstay of the larger paraphernalia which accompanies Trumps visit toSaudi Arabia. The entire rubric of the crusade against ISIS and fundamentalist terror happens to be a prime time concern of the American dream and the intent to prepare the homeland and protect it with repeated fusillades against the global spread of the terror group internationale.
The entire visit and the ministrations of the American empire are pitted against the rising overarch of Islamic terror, which has already expressed its slithering expanse and impactful malfeasance in the nations premised in the European continent apart from the territorial avatar of ISIS in the hotly contested terrain of West Asia. Since a few years, the US has been attempting to forge a consensual coalition, as an adjunct to the global, War on Terror, which envisages the Sunni NATO nations such as Saudi Arabia which can go ahead with the annihilation of the Shia expanse in West Asia. Also, the US made attempts to normalise bilateral relations with Iran but with the advent Trump, that thought pattern in the policy reaches a change. Washingtons strivings are on to forge a bond with the NATO countries with twilight zone nations such as Turkey and the traditional allies such as Saudi Arabia. The efforts have always been on the anvil in order to cobble together an edifice and a coalition to counter the Shia group of nations. Thus, an international front to counter global jehadi terror can be what the Global-Peace-Doctor ordered for the day.
The controversial earnestness with which President has donned the mantle in the US is, part of the global strivings with the objective being the containment of global terror groups such as ISIS, Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda, et al. The allegation which can be labelled at Washington is that the strike potential, which has been unleashed over West Asia, has not been replicated with the Korean antagonist who is a perennial nation State actor which is recalcitrant in its ways and posturing. The Committee on Foreign Relations too says, Islams schism, simmering for fourteen centuries, doesnt explain all the political, economic, and geostrategic factors involved in these conflicts, but it has become one prism through which to understand the underlying tensions. Two countries that compete for the leadership of Islam, Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran, have used the sectarian divide to further their ambitions. How their rivalry is settled will likely shape the political balance between Sunnis and Shias and the future of the region, especially in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain, and Yemen. There is a proxy battle which has always been fought with the jehadi terror mongers attempting a novae faade of unity to wage a war of attrition against Islamic terror. Historically, too, the succession matter over who had to be anointed as the head of the religion was formed which divided Islam into twin sects of Shias and Sunnis. It was Ali Ibn Abi Talib, who formed the name around which the Shias collaborated and congealed as one part of the Islamic schism. The Sunnis remained as the followers of the group of Mohammad. It is this sectarian divide which has been the brimstone over which several West Asian conflicts have been spawned and the myriad nations from outside the religion and the region have been involved in the regional drama as it unfolded through the last few decades in the twilight zone of international polity. The treatment meted out to the non-Arab Muslims too became a schism in the region and the Arab and non-Arab regions on the whole.
An American web portal informs us that, Irans Islamic Revolution in 1979 gave Shia cleric Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini the opportunity to implement his vision for an Islamic government ruled by the guardianship of the jurist (velayat-e faqih), a controversial concept among Shia scholars that is opposed by Sunnis, who have historically differentiated between political leadership and religious scholarship. Thus, one of the all encompassing and all pervading divisions between Shias and Sunnis has been over the issue of the amalgamation of the Political and Religious which is what the entire regional fracas is all about to a certain extent. The NATO argument too informs us, What is to be guarded against is the all pervading expanse and the rise of the state of Iran as a regional power. The recent lifting of sanctions against the nation state of NATO has also been an achievement of sorts for President Rouhani, who is a reformist and has romped home as the victor in the Iranian elections with a thumping victory percentage of 57 per cent. Arab Spring too brought out Iran into prominence as the various nations were at least symbolically democratised, especially in the nations with a Shia majority. Tehran has mobilised the entire Shia communities across the West Asian firmament in order to assist the Government forces in Assads Syria. Thus, apart from the American concern of toppling the applecart of the ISIS, the Shia Irans regional influence too remains a cause to be militated against if stability and stolidity has to be reached in the West Asian region. This is the quintessential West Asian dilemma, which America faces in both the short and long term. President Trump has become the first American President to visit a West Asian nation as one of his initial visits abroad after entering the heady portals of White House. Trump arrived in Saudi Arabia to rebuff the various attempts at policy making by President Obama when he struck a clearly discernible nuclear deal with Iran and attempted a wholehearted rapprochement between the Sharia nation and the Satan Nation as has been the nomenclature employed in the general tardy narrative between both the nations.
The New York Times reports, The Saudis treated him like royalty, with red carpets, lavish meals and American flags flying everywhere. They repeatedly used the word historic to describe his visit, gave him a medal, projected a multistory image of his face on the side of the palatial Ritz-Carlton hotel, where he was staying. Its the spectacle which forms the nascent characteristic of US Foreign policy which hinges on larger-than-life antics with US recently missiling Syria under the rubric of strict reservations being expressed by Russia. The Saudi foreign Minister was informed that the Trump Administration aims at downing extremism and the export of extremism by Tehran. In summation, the American standpoint in the Houthi conflict in Yemen and the proclamation of an arms deal worth $110 billion with Riyadh happen to be the other frameworks which bring together the twin traditional allies against an Islamic state which breathes its last in the bad lands of Iraq.
(The writer teaches International Relations at Indian Institute of Public Administration, Delhi)
BUSINESS STANDARD, MAY 27, 2017
Govt wants to reduce PF contribution to increase take-home salaryTrade unions oppose saying it will weaken the social protection of employees
The labour ministry has proposed to reduce the employers contribution to the EmployeesProvident Fund(EPF) from 12 per cent to 10 per cent. The proposal, which will be opposed by trade unions, will come up for approval in the meeting of the Central Board of Trustees (CBT) on Saturday.
Around 50 million employees in the country receiveprovident fundcontributions. The move, according to the labour ministry, will increase the take-home salary of employees. But trade unions opposing the move termed it an attack on social security.
According to the agenda paper of the meeting, the EmployeesProvident FundOrganisations (EPFOs) CBT will consider a proposal to lower the rate of contribution to be paid by employer and equal contribution by employees from the present 12 per cent to 10 per cent by issue of appropriate order by the Central Government.
The EmployeesProvident Fundand Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952, empowers the Central government to lower the contribution rate and the government intends to issue a notification to effect the change. The ministry has also said that the main grounds on which it has requested theEPFOto place the proposal in the agenda are that there were demands from various quarters on many occasions to review the present rate of EPF contribution and placing it at par with other social security schemes, such as the National Pension System.
There have been demands from various quarters on many occasions to review the present rate of EPF contribution and place it at par with other social security schemes such as the NPS, etc, the letter from the labour ministry said.
The Economic Survey had called for giving a greater choice to workers to decide if they wanted to make their contribution to the EPF.
Advocating labour reforms, the Survey said low-wage employees (people earning less than Rs 20,000 salary per month) received just 55 per cent of their salary because 45 per cent was deducted under heads such as the EPF, Employee Pension Scheme (EPS), Labour Welfare Fund (LWF), and Employee State Insurance (ESI).
It said low-wage employees might prefer receiving these contributions now than benefitting from them later.
Given the difficulty of reforming labour laws per se, the thrust could be to move towards affording greater choice to workers which would foster competition amongst service providers, the report said.
Trade unionleaders said this would be an attack on employees social protection. We will definitely oppose this move; this is being done for employers interests and will weaken workers interests, said DL Sachdeva, secretary, All IndiaTrade UnionCongress.
Ramen Pandey, president, Indian NationalTrade UnionCongress (INTUC), said: We from theINTUChave no hesitation to say that the proposal in Item No10 of the said meeting agenda appears to be the most retrograde policy proposal brought before the CBT.
ASIAN AGE, MAY 27, 2017
Govt bans sale of cows for slaughter at animal markets
The rules make it mandatory for the cattle buyers to give an undertaking citing that animals are not for slaughter.
New Delhi: In a move that is expected to have huge repercussions on the countrys meat industry, the government has banned the sale of cattle at animal markets for the purpose of slaughter.
According to the Central regulation, only farmland owners will be allowed cattle business at animal markets. The notification covers bulls, bullocks, cows, buffaloes, steers, heifers and calves, as well as camel.
The rules make it mandatory for the cattle buyers to give an undertaking citing that animals are not for slaughter. The market committees will have to check the buyers' bonafides and keep records of sale and preserve it for six months, said the government notification effective from Friday.
Take an undertaking that the animals are bought for agriculture purposes and not for slaughter, reads a directive to committees overseeing animal markets in the rule notified under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act of 1960 that gives the Centre powers over animal welfare. Importantly, the eight page rule also says cattle buyers cannot sell the animals outside the state without permission.
Taking animal outside the state will require special approval of the state government nominee, it said.
While the new rules prohibits sale of young and unfit animals, it prescribes about 30 norms for animal welfare in markets, including water, fans, bedding, ramps, non-slippery flooring, veterinary facility and separate enclosure for sick animals.
The regulations also make it mandatory for veterinary inspector to certify proper loading and unloading of animals to ensure they are not cramped inside trucks.
"No animal market will now be able to run without approval of district animal market committee to be headed by a magistrate and having two representatives of government-approved animal welfare groups," it further added.
The rules have been drafted following the Supreme Court directions aimed at improving condition of animals in these markets.
Over the last year, rumours of cow slaughter and the sale of beef have triggered violence in parts of the country and is a sensitive political topic since the BJP led government came to power in 2014 with several BJP led states enacting strict laws to punish cow slaughter.
HINDUSTAN TIMES, MAY 27, 2017
Beyond bull: Why new restriction on cow slaughter will hurt India
When the Government of India issued an extraordinary notification on Tuesday, restricting the sale of cattle for slaughter in animal markets and imposing rules that put a majority of the countrys animal markets in danger, it willy-nilly hit much more than the meat industry.
It is easy to framerules banning the slaughter of the cow, its progeny, its distant cousin the water buffalo, and its passing acquaintance the camel. It is much harder to think of life without buttons, soap, toothpaste, paint brushes and surgical stitches.
Only 30% of cattle slaughtered in India is used for meat either local consumption or export while 70% of the carcass is traded for industries that deal in the aforementioned products, along with about three-dozen other items of daily use. Most of the 30% cattle slaughtered, of course, is the water buffalo because the culling of cows for meat is either totally banned or allowed with strict riders in all but five states. Whats more: eating, selling, transporting or exporting meat of the cow genus is a non-bailable offence, punishable with up to 10 years in jail in all of northern, central and western India.
So, when the Government of India issued an extraordinary notification on Tuesday, restricting the sale of cattle for slaughter in animal markets and imposing rules that put a majority of the countrys animal markets in danger, it willy-nilly hit much more than the meat industry. Sources say the meat industry relies on animal markets for 90% of its supply. The impact on allied industries is unclear.
The government may think the decision is politically rewarding at a time of easy vigilantism. But there are economic implications across the board on exports, the environment, the rural economy -- issues that should have been addressed before taking a hard line.
According to the 2012 Livestock Census, India has a total of 191 million cows and bulls, and 109 million water buffaloes. These are together roughly 25 per cent of Indias human population. Most of these end up on the streets at strays, spewing methane in this age of global warming. With culling a bad word now, the number, according to experts, will rise, perhaps exponentially.
India exported 2.4 million tonnes of buffalo meat to 65 countries in 2014-15, or 23.5% of global beef exports according to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy. It was worth Rs 30,000 crore, accounting for 1% of Indias total exports, part of the Pink Revolution that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had so derisively talked about during the 2014 Lok Sabha campaign.
As far as the bovine economy goes, however, it was only a tiny sliver.
The biggest impact of the government notification will be on Indias largely non-mechanized rural economy, in which the life cycle of bulls and bullocks provides farmers with a sustainable economic model. A couple of former colleagues and I had worked out the math in an article for India Today magazine a couple of years ago.
If a farmer buys a bullock for Rs 25,000, it remains sellable at the same price for about two years. Once it becomes unproductive due to injury or illness, the farmer sells it for culling for about Rs 10,000. This 40% return on investment then allows the farmer to raise capital for a replacement animal. If this replacement cost is taken away from the farmer, it not only makes it harder to procure a new set of healthy bullocks for ploughing, it adds the additional burden of paying for the animals upkeep.
In 2014, the used-cattle market in Maharashtra, for example, yielded an annual turnover of Rs 1,180 crore. When the state government banned the culling of cow and its progeny in 2015, a farmer with an unproductive bull suddenly had nowhere to go. Since the average bovine consumes about 65 litres of water and 40 kg of fodder a day, estimates put the cost of taking care of a bull at nearly Rs 40,000 per year at 2015 prices. With an estimated 1.18 million unproductive bulls in Maharashtra alone, feeding them costs about Rs 4,700 crore per year.
The ban in Maharashtra did not include buffaloes, making the new government notification all the more unpalatable.
So, when anti-culling supporters celebrate taking away the most delicious item on the menu in Lucknows Tunday kababs or in a Goan shack, they should consider exactly what theyre losing, and ask themselves: Is depriving other people their meat really worth the cost?
ECONOMIC TIMES, MAY 25, 2017
After IAS secretaries, government to link IPS promotions too with performance
The message is clearly that performance will be rewarded and that merely having a long tenure left is no guarantee for a good posting.
NEW DELHI: The upcoming selections for the rank of director general for Indian Police Service officers are expected to follow the same mantra as that for the post of secretary for Indian Administrative Service officers earlier this month, with the government rewarding performance as per its new policy.
A significant number ofIPSofficers are likely to be empanelled as DG equivalent, making it more difficult to get top postings that will be reserved for DGs,peoplefamiliar with the matter said.
This will be in line with empanelment of manyIASofficers as secretary equivalent, which has made it harder for bureaucrats to hold top posts such as heading departments or ministries.
The government had empanelled 17 IAS officers from the 1984 batch as secretaries while 15 were made secretary equivalent. Similarly, from the 1985 batch, 20 were designated secretaries while 21 made it to the secretary equivalent post.
"In the past, a small number of officials were given the equivalent post and this was mostly because they had short time for retirement and would not be ideal for an important post that requires long service.
This time, even officials with long tenures - even more than two years left - have been given the equivalent tag," a government official said on condition of anonymity.
The message is clearly that performance will be rewarded and that merely having a long tenure left is no guarantee for a good posting. This is being seen as part of a larger move by theNarendra Modigovernment to make officials more accountable.
There is no clarity yet on the criteria to be followed for selection to the equivalent ranks, one of the persons cited earlier said, but it is believed that the 360 degree profiling being carried out at the very top evaluates the case of each officer before taking a call. The profiling is believed to rely not only on the official files and records of the officer but also an informal channel of feedback to get a holistic view.
DECCAN HERALD, MAY 24, 2017
The changing party system
Peter Ronald deSouza,
The rise and rise of the BJP across India, even in places where it was weak, has produced several explanations for its success. These range from the presence of Modi as the new Loha Purush of Indian politics, to Amit Shah its Chanakya, to the dedication of RSS cadres who, as the foot soldiers of the party, take its message through the last mile, to the apparent policy profusion and decisiveness of the NDA government as compared to the alleged policy paralysis of the UPA, to the three average monsoons that have allowed the rural crises to muddle through rather than become full blown.
Beyond these causal factors, the smiling of lady luck is also acknowledged. While it would be interesting to compile a long list of factors that have contributed to the rise of the BJP, all of which I believe are partly valid, I think there are five points, in particular, that are key to its success.
The most significant factor is of course the rise of Modi as a plebiscitary leader. A plebiscitary leader is one who is able to appeal to people over the heads of organisations and institutions and thereby build an affective relationship between him and his followers. This relationship results in a submission of the followers to the world view of the leader, one where the attitude of critical assessment is replaced by uncritical loyalty. The followers believe the picture of the world that the leader presents.
The leader relieves the cognitive stress that the followers experience as they try to make sense of the world. He explains it. He identifies the causes, the enemies and the solutions. Pseudo secularism is a cause, as is Nehruvian socialism and disrespect of the majority culture. Pakistan is the enemy. A muscular nationalism is the way to restore India to its former glory. These are short forms of longer arguments but they constitute the running themes of Modis transformation of public discourse.
The second factor, perhaps equally important, is the organisational form that has emerged in the BJP. While it is reminiscent of the structure that had served the Congress well in the 1950s and 1960s, so comprehensively described in The Congress Party of India: the Dynamics of a One Party Democracy by Stanley Kochanek, the BJP has added to that organisational form many structures at every level.
The feedback mechanism of the BJP allows the party president to monitor, respond, revise and reprimand. As a result the power of the local gets diminished and the power of the top gets enhanced.
Over time, an authority form, more like the Communist parties than the Congress of yore, has emerged. Amit Shah has created an organisational form that is truly remarkable. It customises policies for local requirements, retains control at the top resulting in sycophancy and fear of dissent, and responds effectively to the changing dynamics of local and national politics. It is a cross between an FMCG company and a Lalajis firm.
Added to this power of a strong leader and an effective organisation are the linkages between the BJP and social and the cultural fronts that comprise the Sangh Parivar. Here too, there are parallels between the BJP and the Congress of an earlier period.
The latters connects with labour unions, peasant movements, youth organisations, mahila mandals etc, gave it legitimacy and helped its agenda setting. The old Congress was a movement party which now the BJP has become.
However, in addition to its having organisational presence in many of the secular spaces of state and society, the BJP has importantly also established its presence in the cultural domain deliberately changing the key elements of the national imagination and discourse. This is well documented in the recent book by Amrita Basu, Violent Conjuncture in Democratic India.
Nationalism has become the key platform of our public discourse with the nation being endowed a sacredness such that critical discourses are seen as anti-national and unpatriotic. Writer Kalburgis scepticism, and those of other rationalists who challenge this cultural assertiveness, are deemed as being offensive.
To the organisational form, led by a strong leader, the BJP has added a cultural enchantment that taps into Indias diverse cultural resources and re-interprets it from the perspective of a narrow cultural nationalism. Bharat Mata is elevated to the sacred pantheon. The nation is Bharat Mata. These two factors of movement party and cultural nationalism give the BJP the power to drive the public discourse. It sets the terms to which the other parties must respond.
One is tempted here to briefly mention the fifth factor which is Indias strategic value in the current global geopolitics. To contain China, weaken Russia and to create new alignments in Asia, India has a crucial role. India is a beneficiary both of its location and its size. This is what I mean by luck. Indias interests and the interests of the western global order seem to be aligned.
These five aspects in combination have given the BJP the winning formula. Will it produce the same one dominant party system of the past described by thinker Rajni Kothari where intense party competition was between one dominant party the Congress and other parties who were only parties of pressure never having the potential to replace the Congress. Each party of pressure connected with a faction within the Congress with whom it shared ideological affinity.Is a one dominant party system of the BJP emerging? Both yes and no. Yes because of the BJPs dominance due to the five factors mentioned earlier. This dominance will stay, at least for now, unless two or more factors fall away.
And No because, unlike the Congress which was a catch all party of multiple ideological persuasions, the BJP is ideologically fairly homogenous because of the project of Hindutva. So with whom will the parties of the opposition align? Something to think about for our democracy.
(The writer is Professor, Centre for Study of Developing Societies, New Delhi)
POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT
TELEGRAPH, MAY 27, 2017
A bleak outlook- The road to mob rule in Uttar Pradesh
Politics and Play- Ramachandra Guha
In March 1946, a three-man 'Cabinet Mission' arrived from England to seek to t