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Modi won’t survive if Rafale probed, says Rahul; Reliance rebuts charges 

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New Delhi/Mumbai, Nov 2 :Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Friday alleged that French defence major Dassault Aviation had paid “kickback” to Reliance to secure the Rafale deal, and claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would not survive if the “huge corruption” in the purchase was probed.

Reliance has, however, rubbished the allegations as “blatant lies”.

Rejecting Gandhi’s allegations, Reliance accused the Congress of resorting to “blatant lies” and “distorted facts” to mount an “unwarranted campaign of calumny and falsehoods” against the Group and its Chairman Anil Ambani.

“If an inquiry starts on this (Rafale deal), Modi is not going to survive it, guaranteed,” Gandhi said here alleging the deal to procure 36 Rafale jets was “done by Modi to give Ambani Rs 30,000 crore”.

Gandhi cited two reasons for his claims: “One, because of corruption. Two, because it is very clear who the decision maker was.

“Nobody would be able to say that some General in the Air Force or the Defence Minister or some bureaucrat from the Defence Ministry (was the decision maker).”

Gandhi said that if there was nothing to hide, Modi would have ordered an inquiry into the decision to purchase the fighter jets from France.

“But Modi is silent. He has lost his sleep because of tension as he knows he will be caught.”

Claiming Dassault Aviation “invested Rs 284 crore” in a “loss making” Indian company, Gandhi said it was the “first installment of kickback” that was paid by the French defence major to secure the deal.

He said that Dassault CEO Eric Trappier’s claim that his company chose Reliance as its offsets partner because it had land available next to an airport, had been belied as it had been revealed that the land was bought by the money that was “invested by Dassault”.

Gandhi alleged Trappier was “lying” to save Modi who in April 2015 had announced the inter-governmental deal to buy the jets in “complete violation” of defence procurement policies.

He also alleged that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Director Alok Kumar Verma was “removed” because he was looking into the documents pertaining to the deal that could “nail” Modi.

“It is obvious that there is enough material in public domain to nail Modi,” he said alleging that Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s recent visit to France was a part of a cover-up which the Modi government was indulging in to prevent the truth from coming out.

Gandhi also said that Modi was “terrified” and would never agree for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the deal.

Strongly denying Gandhi’s allegations, Reliance Infrastructure said it was “deeply unfortunate” that the group and its chairman were continuously being dragged into a political battle ahead of the state and general elections.

It said that Dassault’s investment in Reliance Airport Developers Ltd (RADL) had no link with the Rafale contract.

“Congress attacks on Anil Ambani in his individual capacity are shameful and deplorable,” the company said in a statement, adding that Anil Ambani had not entered into any transactions personally with Dassault nor had he derived any personal benefit from any transactions.

It said that RADL transaction was completed in full compliance with applicable FDI and all other regulations and that the information was in public domain since December 2017, nearly a year ago.

“It is clear that the Congress’ consistent allegation that Anil Ambani has received contracts worth Rs 30,000 crore is a blatant attempt to mislead the public for their own political gains and is a concoction of lies,” it said rejecting Congress’ allegation that “land at Mihan, Nagpur was bought from funds provided by Dassault”.

“Any suggestion of any payment to Anil Ambani is absolutely false and mischievous,” it said, adding that payment for the land at Mihan was made from 2015 to 2017, much before the investment by Dassault in RADL.

The company said the Indian and French governments, Dassault and Reliance have clarified on multiple occasions that there was no offset contract for Rs 30,000 crore to Reliance, related to purchase of 36 aircraft.

India

Journalism is a responsibility, not a tool to mislead people, says Javadekar

Javadekar said the meters installed in around 50,000 households that measure television viewership “cannot measure the opinion of 22 crore” people and “we would expand its circumference so that we know what the people watch and what they wish to watch”.

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Prakash Javadekar

“Journalism is a responsibility, not a tool to mislead people”, Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar told students of the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) when he virtually inaugurated the orientation programme for the academic session 2020-21.

The I&B Ministry, which overlooks the autonomous mass communication institute, said in a statement that Javadekar “advised the media students not to be trapped in sensational or TRP-centric journalism and imbibe the skills of healthy journalism ensuring that anything good happening in society should also become news”.

Javadekar said the meters installed in around 50,000 households that measure television viewership “cannot measure the opinion of 22 crore” people and “we would expand its circumference so that we know what the people watch and what they wish to watch”.

“The freedom of the press has value in democracy and it has to be preserved at any cost. But we should keep in mind that freedom comes with responsibility… you understand both the aspects of the story, but your reporting should lead society in the right direction. TRP-centric journalism is not good.”

“There is no need for any drama or sensation if your story is based on facts. There are plenty of constructive stories in society, but sadly nobody in the media has time to publish them,” he said.

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Proposal to allow corporate houses to set up banks a ‘bombshell’: Rajan, Acharya

They also said that the proposal is “best left on the shelf”.

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Ragharam Rajan Viral Acharya

The RBI working group’s proposal to allow corporate houses to set up banks is a “bombshell” and at this juncture, it is more important to stick to the tried and tested limits on involvement of business houses in the banking sector, according to an article jointly written by former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan and ex-Deputy Governor Viral Acharya.

They also said that the proposal is “best left on the shelf”.

“The history of… connected lending is invariably disastrous — how can the bank make good loans when it is owned by the borrower? Even an independent committed regulator, with all the information in the world, finds it difficult to be in every nook and corner of the financial system to stop poor lending,” the article said.

Last week, an Internal Working Group (IWG) set up by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) made various recommendations, including that a large corporate may be permitted to promote banks only after necessary amendments to the Banking Regulations Act.

The IWG was set up to review extant ownership guidelines and corporate structure for Indian private sector banks.

Referring to the group’s proposal to allow Indian corporate houses into banking, the article said, “its most important recommendation, couched amidst a number of largely technical regulatory rationalisations, is a bombshell”.

“… it proposes to allow Indian corporate houses into banking. While the proposal is tempered with many caveats, it raises an important question: Why now?,” the article said.

The article — posted on Rajan’s LinkedIn profile on Monday — noted that the IWG has suggested significant amendments to the Banking Regulation Act of 1949, aimed at increasing the RBI’s powers, before allowing corporates houses into banking.

“Yet if sound regulation and supervision were only a matter of legislation, India would not have an NPA problem. It is hard not to see these proposed amendments as a subtle way for the IWG to undercut a recommendation it may have had little power over.

“In sum, many of the technical rationalisations proposed by the IWG are worth adopting, while its main recommendation — to allow Indian corporate houses into banking — is best left on the shelf,” they opined.

Also Read | S&P sceptical of allowing corporates into Indian banking sector
“Have we learnt something that allows us to override all the prior cautions on allowing industrial houses into banking? We would argue no. Indeed, to the contrary, it is even more important today to stick to the tried and tested limits on corporate involvement in banking,” the article said.

Further, Rajan and Acharya said that as in many parts of the world, banks in India are rarely allowed to fail — the recent rescue of Yes Bank and of Lakshmi Vilas Bank are examples. For this reason, depositors in scheduled banks know their money is safe, which then makes it easy for banks to access a large volume of depositor funds.

They noted that the rationales for not allowing industrial houses into banking are then primarily two. First, industrial houses need financing, and they can get it easily, with no questions asked, if they have an in-house bank.

According to Rajan and Acharya, the second reason to prohibit corporate entry into banking is that it will further exacerbate the concentration of economic (and political) power in certain business houses.

“Even if banking licenses are allotted fairly, it will give undue advantage to large business houses that already have the initial capital that has to be put up. Moreover, highly indebted and politically connected business houses will have the greatest incentive and ability to push for licenses,” they said.

The approach of the RBI regarding ownership of banks by large corporate/ industrial houses has, by and large, been a cautious one in view of serious risks, governance concerns and conflicts of interest that could arise when banks are owned and controlled by large corporate and industry houses.

For the first time in 2013, the RBI, in its Guidelines for Licensing of New Banks in the Private Sector, had prescribed several structural requirements of promoting a bank under an Non-Operative Financial Holding Company (NOFHC).

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India

Does NEP seek to end reservation policy? Sitaram Yechury asks PM Modi

In the letter, Yechury highlighted how the NEP had no mention of reservations for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Class communities, and the differently-abled.

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Sitaram Yechury

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, asking him if the new National Education Policy sought to end the reservation policy in the educational institutions.

In the letter, Yechury highlighted how the NEP had no mention of reservations for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Class communities, and the differently-abled.

Approved by the Union cabinet in July, the NEP replaces the 34-year-old National Policy on Education framed in 1986. It is aimed at paving the way for transformational reforms in school and higher education systems.

“I am writing this letter to highlight one particular issue which is causing great anxiety especially among SC, ST, OBC communities and the disabled,” Yechury said. “It is truly shocking that NEP 2020 makes no mention of reservations for these sections, either for admissions or for appointments to teaching and non-teaching positions.”

In fact, even the word ‘reservation’ does not appear anywhere in the policy document. This has led to widespread concern whether this act of omission is deliberate, conveying the intention to reverse many decades of efforts to integrate quality, quantity and equity in the education system, according to Yechury.

The CPI(M) leader sought Modi’s response to a set of questions, which the former said were pertinent aspects that need to be discussed.

“Does NEP 2020 seek to end the policy of reservations for SC, ST, OBC and disabled in educational institutions? If not, could you please clarify as to why NEP2020 does not contain any mention of reservations?,” Yechury asked.

He alleged that various elements of the NEP were being rolled out in different parts of the country in an ad-hoc “piecemeal manner” without discussing with important stakeholders — state governments (education is on the concurrent list), students, teachers, non-teaching staff and experts.

“This is creating grave uncertainties and confusion about the actual direction proposed for the Indian Education system under this new policy, by your government,” he added.

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