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Bollywood’s organised sections escaped impact, but daily wagers suffered

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demonetisation

Mumbai, Nov 4: Sections of the Indian film and television which did business through banking channels remained largely on track after the November 8, 2016, demonetisation. But Bollywood’s daily wagers — spot boys, lightmen, casual actors and other temps — continue to face its after-effects, say industry experts.

“Initially, our members faced a dearth of work, but that has settled down with time. It is those people who used to get daily conveyance of Rs 100 who are still facing issues,” Gangeshwarlal Shrivastava, General Secretary, Film Studio Setting and Allied Mazdoor Union, told IANS.

Instead of daily getting Rs 100 directly from the production team for conveyance, the workers are now paid collectively for around 15 days — which has affected their routine. “This is one aspect on which we have not been able to put pressure on producers because it doesn’t make sense to transfer 100 rupees every day,” said Shrivastava, on behalf of the 500 members of the organisation.

Ashoke Pandit, Vice President, Indian Motion Pictures Producers’ Association, said demonetisation was no demon to the film industry as it largely deals in cheques and digital transactions, instead of cash.

“The daily wages in many cases, were turned into weekly or half-monthly payments and were being done in cheques by many producers since corporatisation happened. Use of cash was negligible in film productions, perhaps only for ‘chai-naashta’… It’s not what the industry used to be 10 to 15 years ago,” Pandit contended.

Initially, demonetisation had spelt hard luck for Bollywood as movie buffs were reluctant to visit theatres — and were instead increasing “footfalls” at queues outside banks.

Farhan Akhtar’s “Rock On 2” failed despite the buzz around it, and the actor’s father had admitted that the film’s business “was obviously affected by demonetisation” after it was released just days after the decision was taken.

Some single screen theatres also shut down nationwide after the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes were scrapped.

Gaurav Verma, Chief Revenue Officer of superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment, said not all releases at that time bombed.

“The demonetisation announcement may have affected a few films, but we released ‘Dear Zindagi’ a few weeks after demonetisation and the film did well at the box office. And let’s not forget that just about eight weeks later, ‘Dangal’ came (on December 23) and became one of the biggest hits of all times,” Verma said.

The move gave a push to a much-needed culture of digital transactions in the film industry, especially from the consumers’ perspective, he said.

“The number of digital transactions for ticket bookings jumped to 50 to 60 per cent after demonetisation, and it turned easier for consumers to book tickets. Also, more digital transactions meant less manpower pressure, leading to a certain ease in business,” he said, adding that it was a positive step that the industry was marching towards becoming a more organised digital sector.

The immediate response of a host of film celebrities on demonetisation was that it was important to support what was “good for the nation” rather than seeing its short-term impact on films.

Read more…Small, medium firms were limping back when GST added to pain: Stakeholders

Minister of Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore had last year said black money was not being used in films as it used to be earlier. He was confident that, with demonetisation, there would be more transparency in film funding, and as a result, good cinema would get a boost.

Television industry veteran J.D. Majethia says the TV world welcomed the demonetisation move. “Initially, like the whole nation faced an issue, even we faced it. But when it came to our payments, there was no problem as such, because in our production house, every employee, including the spot boy, is paid by cheque. Therefore, we did not face any major problem.”

Did any cost-cutting happen due to demonetisation?

“In television, finishing an episode shoot on time is one of the most important factors. Therefore, when it comes to unit members, we hire as per requirement. Cutting down on spot boys or lightmen does not bring a huge change in the budget if you have a huge set. But not finishing your shoot on time will surely affect the budget; so cost-cutting on unit members did not happen,” he said.

IANS

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Saab is interested in Indian fighter jet deal: Swedish official

The Saab Gripen will be contesting with the likes of the Russian MiG 35, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Boeing F/A 18 and Lockheed Martin F-16 for the upcoming deal.

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Rafale deal scam

Amid the raging controversy over the Defence Ministry’s procurement of the Rafale fighter aircraft from French firm Dassault Aviation, a senior Swedish official has said that his country’s firm Saab, in its Gripen aircraft, has the requisite experience to contest for the upcoming Indian deal for manufacturing 110 new fighter jets under the Make in India programme.

“I know that Saab is interested, they want to be a part of this procurement,” Teppo Tauriainen, Director General for Trade in the Swedish Foreign Ministry, told IANS in an interview here.

“They think they have something good to offer that will be of interest to India,” Tauriainen said.

“They, of course, know what the expectations of the government is in terms of local production and cooperation with a local partner.”

India is expected to select by the end of this year one fighter aircraft that will be manufactured by the private sector under the Make in India programme for supply to the Indian Air Force.

The Saab Gripen will be contesting with the likes of the Russian MiG 35, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Boeing F/A 18 and Lockheed Martin F-16 for the upcoming deal.

While MiG has already said that it will have state-owned Hindustan Aeronautic Limited (HAL) as its local partner, Indian companies like Tata, Reliance Defence, Mahindra and Adani are in the fray for local partners in the project that is expected to be worth over $20 billion (Rs 1.44 lakh crore).

Tauriainen said that for Saab, contesting for the deal will be nothing new as it has signed a similar deal for Gripen with the Brazilian government with Embraer as its local partner.

“I have myself visited the Brazilian partner, Embraer, and seen there are a lot of spin-offs locally in the Brazilian economy from this fighter jet deal,” he said.

“So, I think for Saab, as a company, it won’t be unusual to do it the way the Indian government wants it to happen.”

During his visit to Sweden in April this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that defence and security have emerged as an important pillar of the India-Sweden bilateral partnership.

“Sweden has been a partner of India in the defence sector for a long time. I am confident new opportunities for cooperation in this sector will arise in the future, especially in defence production,” Modi said.

During that visit, an India-Sweden Partnership was also announced with a fund of 50 million Swedish kronor (around $5.6 million) for innovation cooperation in the fields of smart cities and sustainability.

Asked what steps have been taken in this connection, Tauriainen said that the dialogue for these projects has started though none of these projects have started operating.

“But we have come quite far to identify areas where we think there is a potential to do cooperation,” he said.

He said that sustainable technology is a broad area and is very much related to how cities are built in terms of transport, energy, waste and waste water.

“There we have some interesting experiences and I hope that is of relevance to India,” Tauriainen said.

“Some technologies we have already tested in Sweden. Other technologies will have to be adapted to Indian conditions,” he added.

In Sweden, waste is actually used to generate power and only one per cent of the waste goes to the landfill.

Asked about the presence of around 180 Swedish companies in India and their role in the Indian economy, Tauriainen said these are doing good business despite “some limitations”.

“They wouldn’t mind if those limitations are taken away. But they are interested in the Indian market and most of them are interested in expanding,” he said.

(Aroonim Bhuyan can be contacted at [email protected])

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Now Congress calls Arun Jaitley ‘court jester’

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Randdeep Surjewala

New Delhi, Sep 20: Hitting back at Arun Jaitley, the Congress on Thursday dubbed the Finance Minister a “court jester” who is “desperate to stay relevant”.

Amid the relentless trading of charges between the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the Rafale deal, Jaitley on the day took to social media to accuse Gandhi of “concocting lies” on the deal for the France made fighter jets and the bad loans of banks.

He said the Congress leader was “polluting” public discourse.

Hitting back, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala, in a tweet, called the BJP leader a “court jester” and demanded answers on the Rs 41,000 crore Rafale “scam”.

“And yes ‘Jait-LIE’ ji (sic), the desperate quest to stay relevant of a ‘court jester’ by wasteful blogs continues.

“Please reply: Why hide behind abuse when trapped in Rafale maze? Why supersede HAL for Rs 30,000 crore contract? Why no answer on Rs 41,000 crore loss in Rafale Scam,” said Surjewala in his response to Jaitley’s tweets.

The Congress has been gunning for the Narendra Modi-led government over the Rafale deal. Besides approaching Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) Rajiv Mehrishi for a special and forensic audit and demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the deal, the party has also sought the resignation of Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman over the issue.

The Modi-led government and the BJP have been dismissive of all the charges by the Congress.

IANS

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Rahul Gandhi concocting lies on Rafale, NPAs: Arun Jaitley

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Arun Jaitley

New Delhi, Sep 20: Calling him a “clown prince”, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday accused Congress President Rahul Gandhi of “concocting lies” on the Rafale fighter jets deal and the bad loans of banks. The Congress leader was “polluting” public discourse, Jaitley said.

In a Facebook post, he said Gandhi first “lied” on the Rafale deal and was now lying on the non-performing assets (NPAs) claiming that the BJP government had waived loans of 15 industrialists amounting to Rs 2.5 lakh crore. Not a single rupee of any debtor had been waived, he said.

“His (Gandhi’s) strategy is simple, concoct a lie and repeat it as many times” as possible, Jaitley said and wondered whether a person with a “temperament to concoct facts” deserved to be a part of the public discourse.

“The world’s largest democracy must seriously introspect whether public discourse should be allowed to be polluted by the falsehood of a ‘clown prince’,” he added.

Referring to Gandhi winking at his party men after hugging Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the parliament, the BJP leader said the public discourse was a serious activity, not a laughter challenge, and that it could not be reduced to a “hug, a wink or repetition of falsehood”.

“In mature democracies those who rely on falsehood are considered unfit for public life. Many have been banished from political activity because they were caught lying. But this rule obviously can’t apply to a dynastic organisation like Congress party,” he said.

“If the Rafale concoctions were the first big lie, the second one stated repeatedly is that Modi waived of Rs 2.5 lakh crore of 15 industrialists. Every word of that sentence repeatedly uttered by Rahul Gandhi is false,” he added.

Jaitley said the amount being referred to by Gandhi were lent by the banks prior to 2014 when the UPA government was in power, which then “kept rolling over the loans to conceal them (as) loans despite the default”.

“The truth, Mr. Rahul Gandhi, is that your government allowed the banks to be looted. The loans were inadequately securitized. Your government was in complicity… By repeating a lie on several occasions, you can’t change that reality,” he said.

The Finance Minister said while the UPA leaders claimed that when they went out of power, the NPAs were only Rs 2.5 lakh crore. The truth was that NPAs were actually Rs 8.96 lakh crore and were hidden under the carpet as revealed by an asset quality review conducted by the Reserve Bank of India.

He said no effective steps were taken by the UPA to recover or reduce the NPAs and post 2014-15, they increased not because more money was lent but because interest was mounting on the overdue amounts.

“The only effective move which has taken place in this regard is the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC). It has changed the debtor-creditor relationship in India.”

He said the Reserve Bank of India had identified the twelve major defaulters who jointly owed about Rs 3 lakh crore to various banks.

“The banks under UPA took no steps to recover these loans. They did not prosecute a single major debtor who had siphoned off money. It is the NDA government which through IBC, changed the debtor-creditor relationship and enabled the banks to effectively pursue the recovery,” Jaitley said.

IANS

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