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Maharashtra farmer’s march demanding loan waive reaches Mumbai

Anusha Bhattacharya



Demanding compensation for drought and the transfer of forest rights to tribals, thousands of farmers and tribals began a two-day march from Thane to Mumbai today. The farmers are demanding implementation of the Swaminathan Committee report, which suggested that farmers must have assured access and control over resources such as land and water. They are also demanding an increase in the Minimum Support Price and a judicial system to ensure its implementation



Brookfield Asset Management bets big on India

Ali Azar



Brookfield Asset Management – A Canadian firm with $ 350 billion of assets under management and a 120 year heritage, seems to be favouring India, and is on a deal making spree in the country with acquisition of hotels, real estate and a massive gas pipeline.

Just last week, an investment trust led by Brookfield bought Reliance Industries’ East West Pipeline – a 1,400 km pipeline that transports natural gas and connects Kakinada on the eastern Andhra coast to Bharuch in Gujarat on the west coast for an acquisition price of ₹ 13,000 crore.

Previously, Brookfield had invested around $ 7 billion in India, which includes the acquisition of office and retail assets of Hiranandani Developers in Mumbai, purchase of Equinox Business Park from Essar Group, which is a commercial property in Mumbai’s business district of Bandra Kurla Complex and has also invested in roads and renewable energy.

However, its latest acquisition on Monday, of hospitality chain, Hotel Leela Ventures is the one that’s making waves. At a transaction value of ₹ 3,950 crore, Brookfield marked its entry into the Indian hospitality sector and the promoters of the Leela brand, led by C.P. Krishnan Nair, who founded the group in 1986, will transfer assets, properties, management and other contracts of Leela Hotels at Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai and Udaipur; which collectively contributed 88% of the net worth in F.Y. 2018.

However, Brookfield is not alone in its bullishness on India; almost all sovereign funds from West Asia, Singapore as well as Canadian Pension Funds are recognising India as a key destination and purchasing assets here.


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Woman SPO killed by militants at her home in Jammu and Kashmir

News Desk




According to the local police officials, SPO Khushboo Jan was visiting her home when the militants entered her house and opened fire.


New Delhi| A woman Special Police Officer, Khushaboo Jan was killed by the militants in Jammu and Kashmir’s Shopian district on Saturday when she was visiting her home. This is the first time a woman police official has been killed by the militants. The police have launched a search operation in the area.

Khushaboo Jan’s family stayed in Vehil area of the Shopian district. According to the local police officials, she was visiting her home when the militants entered her house and opened fire. She suffered several injuries in the attack and was moved to the hospital. However, she succumbed to her injuries.

Khushaboo Jan leaves behind her parents and two brothers- both of whom are still studying. The family has registered a complaint.

Meanwhile, several valley politicians condemned the attack. Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah tweeted about the incident calling it an “act of terror”. He tweeted, “A lady special police officer (SPO) was shot & killed outside her home in South Kashmir earlier today. I condemn this act of terror & extend my condolences to her family & all her J&K police colleagues.”

PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti too tweeted about the incident and offered her condolences to the family. “I strongly condemn this brutal act of terror. My condolences to the family. This vicious cycle of death and destruction seems to have no end,” she said.

Since last year, the incidents of militants killing SPOs have been on the rise. SPOs act as informers for the country’s security agencies.

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Modi govt’s lost credibility, wave unfavourable to BJP: Sharad Pawar




Mumbai | The wave in the country is unfavourable to the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had lost credibility, NCP chief Sharad Pawar said on Saturday.

In an interview to PTI, the Maratha strongman cited the BJP’s losses in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in the assembly polls held in November-December last year. Pawar said these states were ruled by the BJP for 10 years and nobody could have predicted the party’s drubbing.

“Modi himself concentrated on and campaigned extensively in these states. But what was the ultimate result? It is a clear indication that the wave in the country is not favourable to the BJP, particularly in rural India,” he said. He said people in rural areas were miffed with the Centre over farm distress, farmers’ suicides and other agrarian issues.

Pawar said during his term as the Union agriculture minister, when he learnt of a farmer’s suicide in Yavatmal in Maharashtra, he brought then prime minister Manmohan Singh to meet the distressed family.

The NCP chief said he had found at the time that the cause of the farmers’ suicide was agrarian crisis, financial burden and notice by banks for defaulting on loan repayment. “Within one week, I gave a proposal to the Cabinet to waive agriculture loans. Loans worth Rs 70,000 crore were waived. Not only that, interest rates were substantially reduced,” he said.

He said during his tenure, India became the largest exporter of rice and second largest exporter of wheat, sugar and cotton, stressing that it was the outcome of the UPA government’s actions like loan waiver.

Pawar said Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had announced a Rs 34,000 crore loan waiver but farmers were still waiting for their loans to get written off. “Since January 2015 to 6 March 2018, 11,998 farmers committed suicide…(It is) a total failure of the BJP-Sena government in the sector,” Pawar claimed.

Slamming the prime minister, Pawar said Modi, during the 2014 Lok Sabha campaign, had promised to bring back black money from foreign accounts and deposit it into people’s accounts but they were still waiting for it. Pawar claimed that at least 100 people died and more than 15 lakh lost their jobs due to demonetisation.

“The RBI said all the money in circulation finally came back. Only last week, there was a statement from the RBI that demonetisation has not helped remove black money or improve economy. Not only that, it created a serious impact on trade, agriculture and other sectors,” he said.

The former defence minister said while Rafale is a good aircraft, the Indian Air Force first suggested them to the Cabinet when Manmohan Singh was the prime minister. “But appropriate decision was not taken due to polls. In 2007, there was a request for 126 Rafale aircrafts and the purchase price quoted by Dassault was Rs 350 crore per aircraft. In November 2016, MoS Defence (Subhash) Bhamre gave a reply in Parliament that the price is Rs 670 crore per aircraft,” he said. “In February 2017, Dassault and Reliance Defence made a joint statement where they mentioned the price as Rs 1660 crore per aircraft,” Pawar said.

The former Maharashtra chief minister claimed that apart from price inflation, one of the clauses UPA government had put in the Rafale purchase was of a guaranty, which was waived by the NDA government.

Another condition was that a certain number of aircrafts would be purchased and the technology not available in India would be produced in France, and the rest of the assembly work will be done in government owned factories in Nashik, Bangalore, Lucknow, he said.

“This condition also has been waived and the entire responsibility has been given to Reliance Defence of Mr Ambani. The company was registered two weeks ago before the agreement. It has acquired land in Nagpur and only the foundation stone ceremony has been done. There is no factory, infrastructure, technical support or machinery and such a company has been given the job,” he claimed.

The government and Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group has dismissed allegations of corruption and denied any wrongdoing.  “When the Supreme Court asked for documents, it was told by the AG that documents of the agreement were lost. He then corrected his statement and said someone copied them. The documents, which the defence minister refused to give to Parliament in the name of secrecy, were copied from the Defence Ministry and appeared in newspapers,” he said.

He asked how the BJP-led government, if it cannot protect sensitive documents from its own ministry’s office, can protect the interest of citizens. “The government’s performance has not been upto the mark anywhere and they have have lost their credibility,” he said.

On another query, he said after the Pulwama attack, there was an aggressive campaign by the PM and BJP leaders that the IAF strike on terrorist launch pads in Pakistan was the party’s victory. He alleged the BJP was trying to politically exploit the situation.

On another query on Union minister Nitin Gadkari and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis claiming that Pawar was not contesting the upcoming polls sensing defeat, the NCP chief said, “They are making childish statements.”  “They are making childish statements. I do not even need to take cognisance of them. That shows their immaturity,” he said.

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