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Congress takes on Modi over ‘industrialist’ remark

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Manish Tewari

New Delhi, July 29 (IANS) With Prime Minister Narendra Modi asserting that he was “not afraid of” publicly standing beside industrialists because his intentions were “noble”, the Congress hit out at him, saying he should not lend his legitimacy and respectability to such corporates.

“If the Prime Minister feels alright to be photographed with such people, who allegedly ripped off the banking system, and run away to Antigua and London or probably disappear from the earth, then I leave it to the Prime Minister’s wisdom to lend his legitimacy and respectability to such people,” Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said at a press conference.

“The question is not the capitalists or industrialists. The question is what kind of capitalists or industrialists,” he said, while stressing his party was not against industrialists and capitalists, but against “crony capitalists”.

“The Congress feels that private enterprise has a legitimate place in the developmental trajectory of the country. But what we are against is crony capitalism and the nexus between the suit and the boot. ‘The Suit Boot ki Sarkar’, when the government functions for the benefit of a few at the cost of many,” he said.

Tewari also hit out at Modi for comparing himself with Mahatma Gandhi, saying: “What is even more astonishing is that the Prime Minister went and compared himself to Mahatma Gandhi.

“Its unfortunate because no politician should compare himself to the father of the nation. He said that even Mahatma Gandhi used to carry industrialists with him. Again the question is what kind of industrialists. They were those people who in the teeth of British tyranny, British imperialism, in the teeth of persecution were ready to stake in sacrifice everything they had for the freedom of India.”

These industrialists stood with Mahatma Gandhi and the Indian National Congress because their goal was the freedom of India, and were “not those industrialists who had gamed the banking system and runaway with thousands of crores of public money,” he said.

Slammed Modi over development issues, Tewari said that “the Prime Minister patted himself on the back saying that the country is developing splendidly”, but this is not borne out by facts.

“The facts are that farmers are forced to sell their crop below the minimum support price. The fact is that small and medium industry is closing down rapidly across the country.”

On Modi’s visit to Uttar Pradesh, Tewari said when any Prime Minister visits a state seven times, six or nine months before the Lok Sabha elections, it is possibly the most “potent barometer of the nervousness” of both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Prime Minister of India.

“This is perhaps the seventh trip that the Prime Minister is making to Uttar Pradesh in less than a month.”

He also criticised BJP President Amit Shah’s interview to a newspaper where he mentioned the Rs 12 crore Mudra loans for youth, saying the question was “how many sustainable livelihoods have those loans created”.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala meanwhile tweeted: “Dear PM, your political career reeks of a culture of cronyism! From giving land to your crony friends at throwaway prices in Guj to GSCPC scam, from promoting select mobile wallets in DeMo to gifting largest defence contracts in Rafale! So spare us the lecture!”

Analysis

Resurgence of nativism, protectionism in West disturbing: Manmohan

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Manmohan_singh

New Delhi, Aug 8 (IANS) Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday said that resurgence of “nativism and protectionism in the West is a disturbing trend” and the “old and tried approaches may not suffice”.

“Building goodwill and peace among nations is of paramount importance,” he said after releasing a book, “Ten Ideologies – The Great Asymmetry between Agrarianism and Industrialism”, authored by his former Cabinet colleague S. Jaipal Reddy.

Singh said that in the process of writing the book, Reddy brings out that the “divisions based on race, religion, caste or colour are products of the historical periods, but cannot be accepted by holistic reading of history”.

“While alluding to the beginnings of the Industrial Age, the author has pointed out that the historical foundations for the new era were provided by China, India and West Asia, both in ancient times and medieval period,” said Singh addressing the audience at the Constitution Club of India.

“The technologies borrowed from the East helped the West in having the Renaissance, Reformation, Scientific Revolution etc. It was these intellectual movements which stimulated historical changes and new schools of thought. They were all happening at about the same time,” said Singh.

Singh further said: “The resurgence of nativism and protectionism in the West is a disturbing trend. Old and tried approaches may not suffice. We should not hesitate to think afresh.

“While doing so, the paramount thing is to build goodwill and peace among nations. In this context, the conflict of mindsets of Agrarian and Industrial eras that Sri Jaipal Reddy focuses upon is relevant.”

Singh also said he was reminded of his Cambridge days as he went through the book.

“As I went through the book and came across the ideas of masterly thinkers, I have been reminded of my own Cambridge days.

“It is like going back to basics. I have enjoyed this refreshing experience and benefited by it. I am happy to note that Jaipal Reddy is trying to build a new approach to meet the current crises in the world. This is what we should focus on,” he said.

Praising Reddy, Singh further said: “Although he has been a professional politician, he has proved to be an intellectual as well. I hope and trust that this will set a new trend in Indian politics.”

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Truckers call off strike after government agrees to consider demands

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Truck Strike

New Delhi, July 27 (IANS) The All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) on Friday called off their their nationwide strike on the eighth day of their protest after the government agreed to consider their demands.

Welcoming the decision, Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari said the government was “sensitive” to the demands.

“We have already agreed to some of their demands earlier. For the rest demands, we have set up a high level committee,” Gadkari tweeted.

As per the joint statement issued, Insurance Regulatory Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has agreed the demand of review of premium for third party insurance for heavy vehicles and the government has agreed to devise a mechanism for seamless movement of transport vehicles across toll plazas.

Also, the government will explore possibility of extending health benefits under ESIC to the drivers and co-workers of the commercial vehicles and notify National Permit Scheme for tourist vehicles.

The government also plans to extend coverage of Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana to the drivers and co-workers of the commercial vehicles.

The high level committee will look into issues such as E-way Bill implementation, GST related issues of the transport sector, rationalisation/ abolition of TDS rates, rationalisation of rates for presumptive tax on transport vehicles, seamless travel across the state borders and highways, Direct Port Delivery.

Union Finance Minister Piyush Goyal and AIMTC President S.K. Mittal were among those present in the discussion.

Transportation services to and from ports, refineries and industrial units have been stopped from July 20.

The AIMTC had demanded that diesel be brought under the ambit of GST and tax structures like the e-way bill should be simplified.

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Analysis

Actual sugarcane FRP hike is Rs 6, not 20: Agri activists

The government has approved a premium of Rs 2.75 per quintal for each 0.1 per cent increase in the recovery over and above 10 per cent.

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sugarcane

New Delhi, July 18 (IANS) The government’s decision on Wednesday to increase the Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) for sugarcane for 2018-19 (October-September) season by Rs 20 to Rs 275 for a quintal comes with a rider that the new rate will be applicable only when the recovery rate is 10 per cent.

The recovery rate — of sugar from sugarcane — was 9.5 per cent when the government had fixed the FRP of Rs 255 for a quintal in 2017-18.

If the recovery rate of 9.5 per cent is considered for 2018-19, the farmers will get only Rs 261.25, which is a hike of roughly Rs 6.25, on year-on-year basis.

According to Union Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, 295 mills of the total 550-odd mills in the country have reported recovery rate of over 10 per cent.

“Earlier, the recovery rate was 9.5 per cent. But it is increasing now. There are 295 mills which have reported over 10 per cent recovery rate, 82 have between 9.5 and 10 per cent, while there are only 127 mills that have below 10 per cent recovery rate. As the majority is of 10 per cent, we have gone with it (while fixing the FRP),” Paswan told reporters here.

The average national recovery rate is 10.51 per cent, while it is 10.20 per cent and 11.47 per cent in major sugar producing states of Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, respectively, he said.

However, agriculture activists called the hike in the FRP “shameful”, saying the actual hike would be below 3 per cent.

“It’s like peanuts. It is not even 3 per cent since expenses on electricity, labour and fertlizer have gone up significantly. The hike should have been done rationally,” said V.M. Singh, president of Rashtriya Kisan Majdoor Party.

He said the remuneration at 10 per cent recovery rate in 2017-18 was Rs 268, which means the actual hike is only of Rs 7 this year.

There are about five crore sugarcane farmers in the country and about five lakh workers are directly employed in sugar mills.

The total remittance to sugarcane farmers by the millers would be over Rs 83,000 crore.

The government has approved a premium of Rs 2.75 per quintal for each 0.1 per cent increase in the recovery over and above 10 per cent.

According to the government, the production cost of sugarcane for 2018-19 is pegged at Rs 155 per quintal, so the FRP of Rs 275 per quintal would provide a return of 77.42 per cent.

The FRP is determined on the basis of recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP).

Paswan said there will not be any reduction in case recovery rate goes below 9.5 per cent and farmers will get Rs 261.25 per quintal.

As per the Food Ministry’s figures, the cane arrears, which stood at Rs 14,538 crore at FRP (Rs 23,232 crore at state advisory price – SAP) on May 21, has come down to Rs 9,319 crore (Rs 17,824 at SAP) following the various steps taken by the government in May including the Rs 7,000-crore package.

“Our top priority is farmers. To ensure that millers can pay farmers their dues, we give them such facilities,” Paswan said.

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