List of newspapers covered



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LIST OF NEWSPAPERS COVERED



BUSINESS STANDARD

DECCAN HERALD

ECONOMIC TIMES

FINANCIAL EXPRESS

HINDU

HINDUSTAN TIMES

INDIAN EXPRESS

PIONEER

STATESMAN

TELEGRAPH

TRIBUNE









CONTENTS

BLACK MONEY 3-5

CIVIL SERVICE 6-16

CORRUPTION 17-18

ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT 19-21

EDUCATION 22-29

FINANCIAL INSTTITUTIONS 30

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 31-33

LABOUR 34

POLICE 35

POLITICAL PARTIES 36-38

POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT 39-43

PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION 44-45

PUBLIC SECTOR 46-47

RAILWAYS 48

UNITED NATIONS 49-50

URBAN DEVELOPMENT 51-53

WOMEN 54







BLACK MONEY

TELEGRAPH, FEB 16, 2017



A tempestuous season- Lasting effects of demonetization

Dipankar Dasgupta

It is surely incorrect to view India's demonetization exercise as an instance of monetary policy. Monetary policy à la economics addresses issues linked to gross domestic product, unemployment, inflation and so on. India demonetized, however, to curb corruption. The policy may well find success, in which case the government will rightfully deserve to be praised.

Unfortunately though, the exercise has produced adverse side effects for the entire economy, involving matters quite unrelated to the policy goals. A great deal has been written on the matter already and hardly any purpose will be served by reproducing them. Suffice it to say that the problems have led to an economic slowdown. The slowdown has come about mainly on account of a fall in demand for commodities caused by the severe scarcity of currency, which happens to be the commonly preferred medium of transaction in India. The government has been trying to remonetize by issuing new currency, but on account of inadequate infrastructural facilities, the process is turning out to be painfully slow. As a result, markets too may take a while to recover. And slow market revival has undesirable implications for employment, both in the formal and informal sectors. To this extent, even if demonetization turns out to be successful in achieving its goals, the government, in its enthusiasm, may end up throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

To address corruption as well as the currency shortage problem, the government began to advocate digital transactions simultaneously with a push towards universal banking. How soon digital banking can spread across the country, including in remote rural areas, is still unclear. Quite apart from the poor penetration of mobile connectivity and the internet beyond metropolitan areas, questions have been raised about the very ability of a major section of the population, both rural and urban, to turn tech-savvy at short notice. Many are still reluctant to part company with cash, whether lacking in education or not. However, even those who are willing to rely primarily on digital transactions are not finding it easy to do so. And this in well-connected urban areas.

A true life example illustrates the point. A gentleman visited a well-known supermarket in Calcutta recently to purchase groceries. He paid a sum of around Rs 4,000 with a debit card issued by a much trusted nationalized bank. The card was swiped and the pin number correctly punched in. To his surprise, the EDC machine came up with the embarrassing message,"Payment Declined", when the person knew perfectly well that his savings bank deposit was adequately large to cover the payment. To avoid further uneasiness, he produced yet another debit card, issued by a private bank and the transaction went through smoothly. Within seconds, a message arrived on his smartphone that the necessary sum had been debited from his account and he came back home a happy man, though not completely so, since the rejection of his perfectly healthy first card continued to linger in his mind. And it was then that a second message arrived on his phone, around 45 minutes after he had left the shop. The nationalized bank was telling him that the value of his purchase had been duly debited from his account.

He had ended up paying Rs 8,000 for buying commodities worth Rs 4,000. To leave nothing to doubt however, he checked both his accounts online and found that the same sum had indeed been deducted from both accounts. The man rushed to the bank next morning, where the branch manager asked him to write a letter describing the incident and passed it on to a junior officer. The latter came up with additional information. This was a routine affair, she explained, and that customers are expected to produce a document signed by the merchant confirming the rejection of the card. He then rushed back to the supermarket therefore and requested it to certify that it had not received any payment through the card in question. The merchant too agreed that this was no isolated incident and even produced supporting documents, that is, carbon copies of a large number of such slips issued to its clients. The merchant explained that the money had not reached his organization and that it was probably lying in the bank's own suspense account. Normally, the man was further told, it takes at least 21 days for the money to be refunded. The harassed gentleman brought back the slip of paper to the bank, which notified him in turn that his account was likely to be credited within the next 45 days. Whether the money will be reverted back at all is anybody's guess at this point of time, since the bank manager was convinced that the merchant had received double payment.

The person clearly faces a dilemma now. Whether or not he receives back his money, he will be wary of using the nationalized bank's debit card in future. He will surely postpone many of his planned purchases, and either revert to cash transactions or use the private bank's debit card. Given the government's general disapproval of cash transactions though, he may even forgo the cash route, except for negligible expenditures. For larger expenses, he is likely to use the private bank's card alone, provided of course that his deposit in the bank is sufficiently high. And since the nationalized bank as well as the merchant confirmed that his case constituted the rule rather than the exception, there are many others who must have found themselves in similar predicament, some losing perhaps significantly larger sums of money. Worse, the rejections could have occurred in hospitals instead of grocery stores, with patients waiting to be admitted, and everyone does not carry a second debit card, especially daily wage earners, the size of whose bank deposits will be paltry at best.

Why should cards issued by nationalized banks be rejected while those issued by private banks, or at least most of them, be safely usable? Nationalized banks obviously have a much larger customer base compared to private banks. The erratic rejection of cards issued by public sector banks suggests that their servers have been under acute pressure since the day currency and corruption turned indistinguishable. A private bank is unlikely to face this difficulty since its server space per customer is doubtlessly large. The gentleman's experience suggests then that the banking sector does not have adequate infrastructure to deal with digitization. Matters are unlikely to improve with the government's decision to universalize banking habits. Unless the banks' digital infrastructure expands in tandem, keeping cash transactions on a tight leash will not be easy. And the inadequacy of elementary education in large pockets of the country cannot make matters any easier.

The government assures us that the problems associated with demonetization are temporary at worst. They will disappear in the so-called long run. This reminds one of John Maynard Keynes' observation in A Tract on Monetary Reform. "Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task," he had written, "if in tempestuous seasons they can only tell us, that when the storm is long past, the ocean is flat again." One wonders if Keynes' thoughts might not apply mutatis mutandis to non-economists as well.

The author is visiting professor of economics, Ashoka University




CIVIL SERVICE

ECONOMIC TIMES, FEB 23, 2017


Tamil Nadu govt forms panel to go into 7th pay commission suggestions


The Panel will also study recommendations by the Centre on revised pension scale and related matters and give its suggestions on extending them to the state government beneficiaries.

CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu government today announced constitution of a committee of officials to go into the recommendations of 7th Central Pay Commission and accordingly suggest on revising pay scales for state government employees.

Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami announced constituting a five-member panel headed by Additional Chief Secretary, Finance, K Shanmugam for this purpose.

The committee, whose others members include Principal Home Secretary Apurva Verma, has been asked to "study the Central government's decisions on recommendations on revised pay scale made by the 7th Pay Commission" and make suitable suggestions on pay scale revision of state government employees, he said.

The Panel will also study recommendations by the Centre on revised pension scale and related matters and give its suggestions on extending them to the state government beneficiaries, he said in a statement.

"This committee will also go into matters relating to various allowances and make suitable suggestions," he said, adding, he had asked the panel to submit its report by June 30, 2017.



TRIBUNE, FEB 21, 2017

3 more IAS officers get Chief Secy scale



  • On February 17, the Cabinet okayed the proposal of the Personnel Department

  • Those who stand to benefit from the decision and will move from the Principal Secretary rank to the Additional Chief Secretary (ACS) rank include Anil Khachi and AJV Prasad (both of the 1986 batch and currently on Central deputation), Tarun Kapoor, Principal Secretary (Forests and Environment), and Nisha Singh, Principal Secretary (Ayurveda), both ofthe 1987 batch.

  • Prasad is due to return to the state in March this year. As such Khachi will be given proforma promotion

  • The number of ACS-rank officers will still remain at 16 with three officers — Deepak Sanan, PC Dhiman and SK BS Negi — having retired recently

  • Himachal has a cadre strength of 147 with more than 20 officers being on Central and outside postings

Pratibha Chauhan

Himachal will once again have 16 IAS officers in the grade of the Chief Secretary rank with the Cabinet giving a nod to the grant of apex scale to three more bureaucrats, currently serving in the Principal Secretary rank.

The Cabinet, in its meeting on February 17, okayed the proposal of the Personnel Department. Those who stand to benefit from the decision and will move from the Principal Secretary rank to the Additional Chief Secretary (ACS) rank include Anil Khachi and AJV Prasad (both of the 1986 batch and currently on Central deputation), Tarun Kapoor, Principal Secretary (Forests and Environment), and Nisha Singh, Principal Secretary (Ayurveda), both of the 1987 batch. Prasad is due to return to the state in March this year. As such Khachi will be given proforma promotion.

With the Cabinet approval already being there, the meeting of the Screening Committee, chaired by the Chief Secretary, will be held shortly to grant the ACS rank and grade of Chief Secretary to these four officers. The number of ACS rank officers will still remain at 16 with three officers — Deepak Sanan, PC Dhiman and SK BS Negi — having retired recently. Himachal has a cadre strength of 147 with more than 20 officers being on Central and outside postings.

There are seven officers in the Chief Secretary grade (fixed at Rs 2.25 lakh) posted within the state. These include Chief Secretary VC Pharka (1983), Adviser to the state government Vineet Chawdhry (1982), ACS Tarun Shridhar (Power and Personnel-1984), Narinder Chauhan (Public Works-1984), Srikant Baldi (Finance-1985), Manisha Nanda (Urban Development and Town and Country Planning- 1985) and Arvind Mehta (Agriculture).

After Prasad, Kapoor and Nisha Singh are promoted to the ACS rank, the number of bureaucrats in the grade of Chief Secretary posted within the state will reach 10. However, with Prasad due to retire in March, the number will go down to nine. Those who enjoy the apex scale and are on Central deputation include Ajay Mittal, Secretary Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Asha Ram Sihag, Secretary Coordination and Public Grievances, Bharthi Sihag, Secretary, Ministry of Fertilisers, Ajay Tyagi (1984), SEBI Chairman, and BK Aggarwal and Sanjeev Gupta, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

HP has 7 officers

There are seven officers in the Chief Secretary grade (fixed at Rs 2.25 lakh) posted within the state. These include Chief Secretary VC Pharka (1983), Adviser to the state government Vineet Chawdhry (1982), ACS Tarun Shridhar (Power and Personnel-1984), Narinder Chauhan (Public Works-1984), Srikant Baldi (Finance-1985), Manisha Nanda (Urban Development and Town and Country Planning- 1985) and Arvind Mehta (Agriculture). 

ECONOMIC TIMES, FEB 21, 2017


Prime Minister Narendra Modi to honour babus for promoting key programmes



The awards are instituted to acknowledge, recognise and reward extraordinary and innovative work done by districts or organisations.

NEW DELHI: Bureaucrats will be honoured by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for their good work in promoting key programmes of the central government.

Five priority programmes of the Centre -- Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY), Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY), e-National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) and Standup India/Startup India -- have been identified for this purpose by the government.

Those found performing with excellence in promoting these programmes will be given the 'Prime Minister's Awards for Excellence in Public Administration' on the occasion of Civil Services Day on April 21.

The awards are instituted to acknowledge, recognise and reward extraordinary and innovative work done by districts or organisations of the central and state governments.

There shall be a maximum of 15 awards under the priority programme category and two awards under the innovation category, according to a press release issued by the Personnel Ministry today.

"There has been an overwhelming participation of districts and state and central government organisations. 1,515 applications have been received from about 600 districts across states and union territories under the priority programmes category.

"830 applications have been received from organisations of central or state government or district under the innovation category. The applications received will be evaluated on a holistic basis by high-level committees at three levels. Shortlisted candidates shall make presentations and citizen feedback will also be obtained through a call centre. Spot studies will be conducted to verify implementation of the programme or initiative," it said.

The registration for the Prime Minister's Awards 2017 was enabled through an online web portal created by the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG).

Applications were received from January 1 to 25 through the online portal.

In addition to the awards in priority programmes, awards will be given to organisations of central and state governments or district for innovations in environment conservation, disaster management, water conservation, energy, education and health, women and child centric initiatives, etc.

TELEGRAPH, FEB 20, 2017



Babus see red at booze bar

Dipak Mishra


Patna, Feb. 19: The bureaucracy is smarting from the state government's decision to amend the service conduct rules and making consumption of liquor at any place of the globe punishable.

On Wednesday, the Bihar cabinet, with chief minister Nitish Kumar in the chair, uncorked the Bihar Government Service Conduct Rules, 2017 - the country's first roving prohibition, barring bureaucrats and judicial officers from consuming liquor or any intoxicating substance even when they are outside the state.

The changed rules apply to IAS, IPS or other officials on deputation to the Centre, any other state, or outside the country. The changes stipulate that government employees will have to adhere to the ban on consumption of intoxicants in any area they might be present at any point of time.

A senior Bihar officer posted outside the state said he was being teased by colleagues on how he could also become a victim of chief minister Nitish Kumar's drive against liquor consumption.

The senior officer mourned that now he had to be careful and drink within closed doors and away from the camera glare like his colleagues in Bihar. "What is the use of framing rules which cannot be implemented? If any public servant goes to the US and drinks, does the state government have a mechanism for reporting the violation?" remarked former director-general of police Manoje Nath.

Officials are quick to point out that the new rule encroaches upon their space. "Apart from being civil servants, we are also private citizens. We are not civil servants when we go on holidays or attend a private function," a senior IAS officer said under the condition of anonymity, stressing that the government's move was being seen as the state's "obsession" with liquor consumption - as reflected in a joke doing the rounds of social media that in Bihar, a person could now be prosecuted for "dreaming about liquor". They point out that such a rule does not exist even for employees of Gujarat which has been dry for over five decades.

IAS and IPS officers wonder how the Bihar government could impose their law on them when they were All-India government service employees whose conduct rules are governed by the Centre. The Bihar government, on its part, argues that when total prohibition was implemented on April 5, 2016, state government officials, including IAS and IPS officers, had pledged in writing that they would not consume liquor and would dissuade others from doing so.

Violation of the pledge, the government argues, will also enable the government to take disciplinary action against them. The amended service conduct rules would be applicable to IAS, IPS and other officials on deputation to the Centre, any other state, or even outside the country. Though the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act 2016 cannot be extended beyond the state's boundaries, the government can proceed against them for violating the conduct rules if they get proof to that effect.

"Despite what the state government says legally and technically I do not think that their writ can extend beyond the borders of Bihar. Any action by the government on account of drinking liquor outside the state will find judicial remedy," said former chief secretary V.S. Dubey.

In private conversations, the government is facing flak from its own allies. "We supported the prohibition law but that does not mean we should be over-obsessed with it. The anti-liquor law of Bihar has been the object of jokes in Delhi and other metros. How can the state government boast that it has jailed more than 32,000 persons for violating the law, way above the capacity of Bihar jails," quipped a senior RJD leader.

Incidentally, RJD chief Lalu Prasad was on Friday asked about overcrowding of Bihar jails by liquor law violators and was asked if new prisons had to be built. "No, why should new jails be built? These persons are arrested and go to jail. They get bail and come out and they go back to jail again for violating the rules again," Lalu joked.


HINDU, FEB 17, 1017



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