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Chinmayanand – The man who wears many hats

Born in Gonda district into the royal family of Avadh in 1947, Chinmayanand’s real name remains under wraps. He did his masters from Lucknow University and then renounced royalty to lead an ascetic life.

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Chinmayananda

Lucknow, Sep 2 (IANS) This 72-year-old man wears many hats. He is a politician, a saint, an educationist, a tantric, a Yoga guru, a philosopher and also an editor.

Swami Chinmayanand, a senior BJP leader, is now courting controversy over allegations of sexual misconduct.

Born in Gonda district into the royal family of Avadh in 1947, Chinmayanand’s real name remains under wraps. He did his masters from Lucknow University and then renounced royalty to lead an ascetic life.

However, when sainthood befriended politics during the Ayodhya movement, Chinmayanand was one of the first saints who took to politics.

On November 9, 1989, when Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leaders prepared to perform ‘shilanyas’ in Ayodhya and lay the foundation for the ‘proposed grand temple’ there, it was Chinmayanand who played the role of master of ceremonies.

He contested and won the 1999 Lok Sabha election from Jaunpur and went on to become a minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.

In between, Chinmayanand set up several educational institutions in Shahjahanpur, the Swami Shukdevanand Post Graduate College (known as SS College) being one of them.

Chinmayanand runs these colleges in various capacities (trustee and manager). He also became the editor of two monthly magazines – Pramarath and Vivek Rashmi.

Chinmayanand set up ashrams in Haridwar and Shahjahanpur.

A former disciple and manager of Mumuksh Ashram, run by Chinmayanand in Shahjahanpur, opened a can of worms in 2011 when she filed a first information report against him, alleging that she had been held captive, raped and assaulted for several years by him.

But Chinmayanand’s clout prevented any kind of action against him and the victim finally moved out of Shahjahanpur.

UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who shares a good relationship with Chinmayanand, visited the Mumuksh ashram in February 2018.

A month later, in March 2018, the then Additional District Magistrate (administration), Shahjahanpur, Sarvesh Dixit, sent a letter to a senior prosecution officer, directing him to move a petition in court for withdrawal of the case. The plea was turned down by the Chief Judicial Magistrate.

The latest case against him – complaint of sexual harassment by a law student of the SS college – has not surprised anyone in Shahjahanpur.

“Chinmayanand is known for such misdeeds but no one dares to utter a word because of the immense clout that he enjoys in the corridors of power. Journalists who have dared to even try to expose him, have lost their jobs,” said a local journalist on condition of anonymity.

It was this clout and his proximity to the chief minister that acted as a deterrent for the police to even try and investigate the complaint of the law student who later fled the city.

However, with the Supreme Court getting tough in the matter, Chinmayanand’s dream run may finally end.

The apex court on Monday directed the Uttar Pradesh government to set up a Special Investigating Team (SIT) to probe sexual harassment allegations made by the law student against Chinmayanand.

The top court also asked the Allahabad High Court to monitor the probe.

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Research and development activity to get hit as WD benefit to cease from FY21

According to experts, R&D activity is a key proponent of the ‘Make in India’ strategy and to further expand the manufacturing sector in the country.

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Research and development activity

New Delhi, Feb 19 : India Inc’s R&D activity might get adversely impacted as weighted deduction (WD) benefits, including those on capital expenses, stand withdrawn from the next fiscal.

Till now, the Income Tax Act allowed for weighted deduction for all R&D activities.

However, four years back a sunset provision was introduced in the Budget on the availability of weighted deduction from April 1, 2020.

This deadline was expected to have been extended in this year’s Budget. However, that did not happen.

“The weighted deduction was a key reason for entities to invest in R&D infra. This withdrawal will impact future investments in this area,” said Amarjeet Singh, Senior Partner, International Tax and Regulatory, KPMG in India.

According to experts, R&D activity is a key proponent of the ‘Make in India’ strategy and to further expand the manufacturing sector in the country.

Besides, R&D investments into India have grown with many MNCs establishing their research bases here.

“The ‘Make in India’ programme has got the booster of a reduced tax rate. Similarly, had the government continued with the weighted deduction for R&D, it would have surely ensured that India marched ahead both in manufacturing and in the corresponding R&D,” said Gukul Chaudhri, Partner, Deloitte India.

“So, while India may not lose its tag as the R&D lab of the world, the availability of weighted deduction would have ensured that India continued as one of the most attractive destinations for R&D in the world,” Chaudhri added.

The Finance Act, 2016, restricted the availability of expenditure incurred on scientific research to 150 per cent from April 1, 2017, and no weighted deduction from April 1, 2020.

“Globally, most countries are encouraging R&D activity as it generates new ‘intellectual property’ (IP), which in turn creates sustainable revenues. Such IP or new product gives rise to a new industry and other supporting activities,” said Samir Kanabar, Partner, Tax and Regulatory Services, Ernst & Young.

“In India, several sectors like auto, pharma etc. have invested substantially in R&D facilities to develop new IPs, patents and hence, a new tax regime to boost R&D was a major expectation,” Kanabar added.

However, Suman Chowdhury, President, Ratings, Acuite Ratings and Research, said that the reduction in weighted tax deduction will not have any significant effect on India Inc’s R&D activity.

“India’s R&D activity has held steady at 0.7 per cent of GDP over 5 years and no visible signs of positive outcomes were seen emanating from private enterprises despite such benefits,” Chowdhury said.

“Nevertheless, corporates now enjoy a reduced effective corporate tax structure, which should more than compensate for the loss, at least for the manufacturing sector. Service oriented enterprises, whose business model thrives on innovation, do not require incentives to do R&D in our opinion,” Chowdhury added.

(Rohit Vaid can be contacted at [email protected])

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AGR risk for GAIL, OIL and Powergrid stays: Fitch

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New Delhi, Feb 19 : India’s telecom-related regulatory dispute still is event risk for GAIL, OIL and Powergrid, Fitch Ratings said on wednesday.

Fitch Ratings continues to treat any payments that three India-based companies – GAIL (India) Limited (BBB-/Stable), Oil India Limited (BBB-/Stable) and Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd (BBB-/Stable) – may have to make under a demand notice from the Department of Telecom as an event risk for the companies’ ratings.

Fitch is not taking immediate rating action on the three companies, as the Supreme Court of India allowed the companies to withdraw their clarification applications on February 14, 2020, and resolve their dispute with Department of Telecom outside the court.

This is in stark contrast to the court’s decision to demand immediate payments from the telecom companies that are also involved in the dispute, Fitch added.

“We expect the three companies to eventually resolve the dispute, although resolution timing is uncertain. A speedy solution is important to prevent disrupting the companies’ investment plans and damaging their performance. The three companies are considering an appeal against the demand notices. We understand that they have the option to resolve the matter through alternate dispute-resolution mechanisms available to state-owned enterprises. This is in addition to the legal options available to telecom license holders in general,” it said.

The Department of Telecom has issued demand notices to GAIL, OIL and POWERGRID for Rs 1,831 billion, Rs 480 billion and Rs 220 billion, respectively.

The notices include license fees on non-telecom revenue and additional interest and penalties on the license fees. However, the three companies’ telecom-related revenue is insignificant, at around Rs 0.5 billion, Rs 0.01 billion and Rs 23 billion, respectively, for the same time period as the demand notices.

The three companies have created telecom infrastructure for internal use and have obtained national long distance and Internet service provider licenses to rent out spare capacity. They maintain that their licenses differ from the unified access licenses held by telecom companies, hence, the court’s decision on adjusted gross revenue for telecom companies does not apply to them.

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Kanpur tanneries asked to shut down again

Aftab Alam, a leather exporter, said the closure order would not only damage the business image of tanneries but would affect leather export too.

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UP tanneries Business

Kanpur, Feb 17 : The Regional Pollution Control Board of Uttar Pradesh has ordered 248 tanneries in Jajmau area of Kanpur to stop their operations from February 19 till further orders, without assigning any reason.

The tanneries, which remained closed for a period of 13 months on the charge of polluting Ganga, were allowed to start production on December 20 for two months only.

S.B. Franklin, regional pollution control board officer, said the time limit of two months is expiring on February 19.

Feroz Alam of Small Tanners’ Association said that on December 20 last year, the government, while granting permission to run the units with half capacity, had also stated that the tanners would be allowed to run their units till next year if they followed the necessary norms and standards fixed by the pollution control board.

He said, “During the last two months, not a single notice was issued to any tannery by the regional pollution control board because the tanneries did not flout the norms set by it.”

He said that the UP Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) had not given any reason for the closure order now.

Aftab Alam, a leather exporter, said the closure order would not only damage the business image of tanneries but would affect leather export too.

He said the tanneries which have got orders from foreign companies would suffer if they failed to supply the goods in time.

The tanners would also face problems in getting new orders in future, he added.

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