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PM Modi inaugurates the Dhola- Sadiya river bridge

Sonu Kanojia



Hindu World Bureau

Today Narendra Modi, Prime Minister (PM) inaugurated the Dhola-Sadiya Bridge India’s longest river bridge. In a series of tweets, PM described the Dhola-Sadiya Bridge as one of the most important infrastructure projects to be undertaken in India. Construction of the bridge began in 2011 under the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways in Public Private Partnership (PPP) with Navayuga Engineering Company Limited.

The bridge was scheduled to become operational from December 2015, but finish of construction works was delayed. The project cost around 10 billion rupees and has taken about six years to complete.

The bridge is longer than the Bandra-Worli Sea Link by nearly two-third. The 9.3-km bridge over Lohit river will provide connectivity between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Besides, the bridge has strategic importance as it is near Anini, 100km away from China border, and can withstand the weight of a 60-tonne battle tank.

The bridge will boost communication across eastern Arunachal Pradesh. The most significant beneficiary will be the Army, whose convoys will now save an estimated three to four hours in their journey from Assam to their posts at Kibithoo, Wallong and Chaglagam on the Arunachal-China border. Thus, the bridge is a great strategic boost to India’s defence capabilities in the North East.


Make sure private banks stay in Indian hands: RSS affiliate to new RBI governor





New Delhi | Days after new RBI governor Shaktikanta Das assumed charge, an RSS-affiliated outfit on Thursday said he should “rethink” about the regulatory framework for private bank ownership in the country so that it remains in Indian hands.

The Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) Thursday organized a discussion on ‘Future of Banks in India’, which was moderated by its co-convener Ashwani Mahajan.

After the discussion a paper was released, in which the SJM said, “There is a need for the new RBI Governor to rethink the regulatory framework for private bank ownership. None of us want India homegrown banks to be allowed in the hands of foreign players.”

These remarks come just two days after Das was appointed as the Central bank governor and a day ahead of RBI’s central board meet in Mumbai.

The Sangh affiliate further suggested that the promoters cap should also be reexamined, adding “present guidelines for compulsory dilution of the equity appear unnatural” as it is helping more foreign funds to make way into the Indian markets.

“SJM is worried that the foreign funds are increasing their penetration among the public sector banks as well as taking control of various private banks. In absence of any agreements on this at multilaterals, including the World Trade Organisation (WTO). SJM believes that the ownership of banks in India should stay among Indians,” the paper said.

It is worrisome, as India doesn’t have mature funds with deeper pockets to take up equities in the banks, the forced equity dilution pushes the banks to go abroad, SJM said while underlining that the motive of bringing in private sector banks in 2001 was to bring in more competition in this space and improving the access to credit to more Indians.

Asserting that the country needs strong and healthy banks for inclusiveness in the society, the SJM said there are two main disruptors for banks, the implementation of International Financial Reporting System (IFRS) based accounting standards and BASEL-III norms.

Basel III capital regulations are a global capital to risk norms. As per the norms, banks have to maintain a minimum common equity ratio of 8 percent and a total capital ratio of 11.5 percent.

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Supreme Court to pronounce verdict on pleas for probe into Rafale fighter jet deal




Eric Tappier

New Delhi | The Supreme Court is scheduled on Friday to pronounce the verdict on pleas seeking court-monitored probe into India’s multi-billion dollar Rafale fighter jet deal with France. A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had reserved its verdict on a batch of pleas on November 14.

Advocate M L Sharma was the first petitioner in the case. Later, another lawyer Vineet Dhanda had moved the apex court with the plea for court-monitored probe into the deal. AAP leader Sanjay Singh has also filed a petition against the fighter jet deal.

After the three petitions were filed, former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie along with activist advocate Prashant Bhushan had moved the apex court with a plea for a direction to the CBI to register FIR for alleged irregularities in the deal.

The Centre has defended the multi-billion deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets and opposed public disclosure of the pricing details.

India signed an agreement with France for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft in a fly-away condition as part of the upgrading process of Indian Air Force equipment. The estimated cost of the deal is Rs 58,000 crore.

The Rafale fighter is a twin-engine Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) manufactured by French aerospace company Dassault Aviation.

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Rights of elderly must be recognised and implemented, says Supreme Court




Supreme Court

New Delhi | Statutory rights of over 10 crore elderly persons in India must be recognised and implemented, the Supreme Court said on Thursday, directing the Centre to obtain information from all states and Union Territories about the number of old age homes in each district.

It also suggested a relook at the pension for the elderly so as to make it is more realistic.

Emphasizing the social justice aspect, the apex court said that state is obligated to ensure that right to live with dignity, shelter, and health of citizens, including the elderly, are not only protected but also enforced.

A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta directed the Centre to obtain information from all the states about the medical facilities and geriatric care available to senior citizens in each district.

It said based on the information gathered by the Centre, a plan of action should be prepared for giving publicity to provisions of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 to make the elderly aware about their constitutional and statutory rights.

The court said status reports be filed by the Centre on these issues by January 31.

It said the Centre must exercise its power and issue appropriate directions to the states for effective implementation of the provisions of the 2007 Act and also conduct a review for the purposes of monitoring its progress.

Referring to the ongoing schemes of the government which are meant for elderly, the bench said, “It is high time that the Government of India has a re-look at these schemes and perhaps overhaul them with a view to bring about convergence and avoid multiplicity”.

“In particular, the Government of India and the state governments must revisit the grant of pension to the elderly so that it is more realistic. Of course, this would depend upon the availability of finances and the economic capacity of the Government of India and the state governments,” the bench said.

It said there is a need to continuously monitor progress in the implementation of rights of the elderly, the only available solution is a “continuing mandamus” (writ issued as a command) to ensure that rights of people are enforced.

The bench referred to the speech delivered by President Ram Nath Kovind on Constitution day on November 26 and said he had “emphasised that social justice remains a touchstone of our nation building”.

“Social justice in the Preamble of our Constitution has been given pride of place and for good reason, since it is perhaps the most important and significant form of justice,” it said.

The bench said “fortunately”, the Constitution of India is “organic” and the Supreme Court is “forward-looking” and this combination has resulted in path-breaking developments in law, particularly in the sphere of social justice.

The bench said this in its judgment delivered on the pleas by former union minister and senior advocate Ashwini Kumar and one Sanjeeb Panigrahi who both have raised the issues concerning the elderly.

The bench noted in its order that the Centre had in 2007 fixed monthly pension of Rs 200 for persons between the age of 60-79 years and Rs 500 for those aged above 80.

It referred to several verdicts of the apex court and said right to live with dignity is a part of the right to life as postulated in Article 21 of the Constitution.

It noted that the Centre had informed the court about the National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP), which was introduced in 1995 and deals with pensions for elderly and other issues.

The bench said the Centre, state governments and union territory administrations must work “in tandem” if they want to make the scheme workable and meaningful.

It said about two-decades ago, the court had recognized right to shelter or right to reasonable accommodation as one of the basic needs of any human being but unfortunately, attention was not paid to the needs of elderly who require special care and attention.

“No blanket order can be prayed for by the petitioner or even argued for overlooking the financial capacity of the state,” the bench said.

“No doubt, at some stage the petitioner did contend that in matters of fundamental rights, financial issues take a back seat but it must be remembered at the same time that the resources of the country are not unlimited and when it comes to the court directing the state to expend amounts,” it said.

It noted that the number of elderly has increased from 1.98 crores in 1951 to 7.6 crore in 2001 and 10.38 crore in 2011, and it is projected that the number of senior citizens in India would increase to 14.3 crores in 2021 and 17.3 crores in 2026.

The bench said it is the time to recognize that there was a large number of elderly persons who are rendered ‘homeless’ due to the migration of their families to other parts of the country and even outside India.

“In the absence of a suitable number of old age homes, and homes as per their status, they are left to fend for themselves making them vulnerable to mishaps and other unforeseen events,” it said.

“Therefore, there cannot be any excuse of lack of finances either by the Government of India or by the state governments in strictly implementing the provisions the MWP (Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens) Act. In short, if not the constitutional then at least the statutory rights of elderly persons must be recognized and implemented,” the court said.

It made it clear that the court was not at all critical of the efforts made by the Centre or states on the issue concerning the elderly.

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