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#MeToo: Women don’t go to work to be harassed, says Smriti Irani

The #MeToo movement exploded in Bollywood, media, politics and corporate sector after actress Tanushree Dutta renewed a decade-old complaint of harassment against Nana Patekar two weeks ago. Filmmaker Vikas Bahl, singer Kailash Kher, actors Rajat Kapoor and Alok Nath, and journalist-turned-politician M.J. Akbar are among those named as alleged predators.

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smriti irani

Mumbai, Oct 11 : Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani on Thursday supported women coming out with their stories of sexual harassment at workplace, saying that they go to work to live their dreams and earn their living respectfully and not to get harassed.

Irani was interacting with the media at a FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO) event here.

The #MeToo movement exploded in Bollywood, media, politics and corporate sector after actress Tanushree Dutta renewed a decade-old complaint of harassment against Nana Patekar two weeks ago. Filmmaker Vikas Bahl, singer Kailash Kher, actors Rajat Kapoor and Alok Nath, and journalist-turned-politician M.J. Akbar are among those named as alleged predators.

Being a former television actress herself, Irani said: “Women don’t go to work to be harassed. They go to work to live their dreams and to earn a respectable living. So, it must be difficult for them to come out and talk about whatever happened in their professional life.

“It is an extremely important phase (in the evolution) of our society where more and more women are getting support, so that they can speak out and I feel that there are enough instruments in our judicial and police system to deliver justice. I am hopeful that all these ladies speaking out will get the justice they deserve.”

As the #MeToo campaign gained momentum, some women journalists also accused M.J. Akbar, Minister of State for External Affairs, of sexually harassing them during his stint as editor in two newspapers.

Reacting on the accusations of sexual assault levelled against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, Irani said: “The gentleman concerned would be in better position to speak on this issue.

“I appreciate that the media is accosting his (former) female colleagues, but I think it is for the gentleman concerned to issue a statement not for me, because I was personally not present there. But I have said again and again that the women speaking out should in no way feel ashamed.

“Anybody who is speaking out shouldn’t be victimized or mocked at. That is my only appeal to everybody who is witnessing this surge of outpouring of emotions, of anger on the internet and offline as well.”

Meanwhile, pressure has been mounting on the NDA government to sack Akbar. Political parties like the Congress and the CPI(M) have demanded his resignation.

IANS

India

Withdraw farm bills, guarantee MSP: Rahul Gandhi to Modi Govt

The video messages of various Congress leaders were posted on the party”s official Twitter handle with a hashtag ”SpeakUpForFarmers”.

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Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi, Sep 26 : Stepping up its attack on the Centre over the farm bills passed by Parliament, the Congress Saturday ran a social media campaign — Speak up for farmers — with Rahul Gandhi demanding the government withdraw the proposed legislations and give a guarantee on MSP.

The three bills were passed by both houses of Parliament during the Monsoon Session and are awaiting presidential assent.

In a video message as part of the Congress” ”Speak up for farmers” campaign, Gandhi told farmers they were being persistently “attacked”.

“First demonetisation, then GST, then you were not given a single rupee at the time of coronavirus, attempt was being made to kill you (farmers), you are being made a slave of corporates, and now these three deadly Bills,” Gandhi said in his video message.

These bills are aimed at finishing off farmers and hurt them, he alleged.

“We are standing with you (farmers) and together we will stop these Bills,” Gandhi said.

“I want to say to the government — you have made a very big mistake. If farmers hit the streets, it will result in tremendous damage. Don”t waste time, withdraw these laws immediately and give guarantee on MSP (minimum support price) to farmers,” the former Congress chief said.

As part of the Congress” ”Speak up for farmers” campaign on social media, several party leaders such as Priyanka Gandhi, K C Venugopal, P Chidambaram, Ahmed Patel, Salman Khurshid, Tariq Anwar, Sachin Pilot and Shashi Tharoor, posted videos expressing support for farmers and calling for the withdrawal of the bills.

The video messages of various Congress leaders were posted on the party”s official Twitter handle with a hashtag ”SpeakUpForFarmers”.

Farmers from all over the country are unitedly raising their voices against the new agricultural bills, Priyanka Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi.

“No provision of MSP in the bills, contract farming and mandi system being ended is like hitting the hard work of the farmers with an axe,” she said.

“Today, the whole of India is united against this injustice,” Priyanka Gandhi said.

“The hurry in passing these bills is only to favour the BJP”s crony capitalist friends… The Congress party is taking this agitation throughout the country to support our farmers,” said Venugopal, the Congress” general secretary organisation.

Chidambaram, in his remarks, said, “The APMC (Agricultural Produce Market Committee) Act today is a safety net for a large section of farmers. The MSP is a price signal & the market takes a signal from MSP. These two Bills will eliminate MSP as a price signal & in the course of time the APMCs will wither & vanish.”

Tharoor said the fact is that the farmers of the country are in a state of agitation and concern as the three bills have been “bulldozed” through Parliament by the BJP government.

In an earlier tweet, Gandhi said, “Let us raise our voices together against the atrocities and exploitation of farmers by the Modi government.”

“Join the Speak Up For Farmers campaign through your video,” he said, tagging a video in which the party called for the withdrawal of the bills.

The Congress, through its official Twitter handle, alleged the agriculture bills passed by the government in a “highly undemocratic manner are nothing but an attack on our farmers and an attempt to transform agriculture into another revenue stream for their crony capitalist friends”.

Along with many other opposition parties, the Congress has claimed that the bills — Farmer”s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 — will harm the interest of farmers and benefit corporates, a claim denied by the government.

The Centre has asserted the bills will be beneficial for farmers and increase their income.

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With tweet on Covid-19 vaccine, Rahul Gandhi takes a jibe at PM’s ‘Mann ki Baat’

Gandhi had earlier attacked the Centre over Covid-19 vaccine, saying a strategy should have been in place by now and said the government’s alleged “unpreparedness” is “alarming”.

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Rahul Gandhi

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday questioned the government on its strategy to deal with the coronavirus pandemic in India. On Twitter, he also took a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is going to hold his Mann ki Baat today.

“It’s a justified question, but how long will India wait for the government’s answer? Hope Covid access strategy would have been the ‘Mann ki Baat’,” Gandhi tweeted. He also attached a screenshot of a news article on development of Covid-19 vaccine.

PM Modi will address the nation through the 69th edition of his ‘Mann ki Baat’ programme. The outreach talk focuses on a range of subjects.

The Mann Ki Baat’s latest episode comes a day after the Prime Minister’s pre-recorded video address to the UN General Assembly where he expressed his concerns about the pace of reform of the United Nations its response to challenges such as terrorism and the Covid-19 pandemic.

PM Modi assured the international community that India’s coronavirus vaccine production and delivery capacity will help all humanity in fighting the pandemic.

“As the largest vaccine producing country of the world, I want to give one more assurance to the global community today. India’s vaccine production and delivery capacity will be used to help all humanity in fighting this crisis. In India and in our neighbourhood, we are moving ahead with phase 3 clinical trials in India. India will also help all the countries in enhancing their cold chain and storage capacities for the delivery of the vaccines,” he said.

PM Modi said even during these very difficult times of the raging pandemic, the pharmaceutical industry of India has sent essential medicines to more than 150 countries.

Gandhi had earlier attacked the Centre over Covid-19 vaccine, saying a strategy should have been in place by now and said the government’s alleged “unpreparedness” is “alarming”.

He had demanded that the government clearly define an inclusive and equitable vaccine access policy to ensure its affordability and fair distribution.

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CMS planning to hire 1,000 employees in next two months as it expands

CMS is planning to hire 1,000 employees in the next two months with salaries upward of Rs 30,000 per month as it expands into service vertical of cash collections

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Leading cash management services provider CMS is planning to hire 1,000 employees in the next two months with salaries upward of Rs 30,000 per month as it expands into service vertical of cash collections for its partner banks, NBFCs and microfinance firms, a company official said.

CMS Info Systems (CMS) has signed up for cash and cheque collections with several companies, including, Mahindra Finance, L&T Finance and Hero FinCorp.

Anush Raghavan, Senior Vice-President and Head Cash Business Unit of the CMS said that with a network spanning over 115,000 ATMs and retail outlets that spread across 98.3 per cent of districts in India, the company is uniquely positioned as the “backbone of the circulation cycle” of the economy.

“While CMS has built out the offering for NBFCs, we are also looking at the cash pickups from the other industries such as travel, education; cheque collections for the insurance industry, apart from doorstep banking service for senior citizens.

“CMS is looking to hire 1000 employees in the next two months. We will continue to expand and hire more in this fiscal,” he said.

The company, he added, will be working with NBFCs and microfinance companies on both B2B collections and also B2B2C collections.

CMS handles cash processing to cash-in-transit, from cards to ATM network management, retail management and managed services.

The company said large NFBCs are currently dealing with hundreds of local collection agencies. Citing an example, it said that any vehicle finance company will be spending Rs 100-300 crore a year on their collections. The opportunity for collections is in the size of about Rs 4,000 crore a year, just in the auto space.

Though disbursement of loans happens digitally, EMI payments happen in cash. More than 80 per cent of loans are repaid in cash, said CMS.

Apart from cash collections, the collection agents of CMS would also be undertaking other services for NBFCs and MFIs such as KYC and other tech-enabled services. Average salary of such collection agents could be upwards of Rs 30,000 per month, CMS said.

Raghavan further said cash is still the king in India as RBI data shows that 87 per cent of total consumer transactions in the country happen in physical cash.

“The business of cash is not going away with digital and tech payments coming in. India is still a long way to adopt digital payments because of issues with financial literacy, basic literacy, technology adoption and availability and other social issues,” he said.

Cash collections service is predominantly for semi-urban and rural towns, CMS said. Cash usage continues to be high among Rural and non-metro towns in India.

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