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President rejects call to disqualify 27 AAP MLAs, party celebrates

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Ram Nath Kovind

New Delhi, Oct 25: In a major boost to the AAP, President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday dismissed a petition seeking disqualification of 27 party MLAs on charges of holding Office of Profit as Chairpersons of Rogi Kalyan Samitis (RKS) in Delhi government hospitals, prompting the ruling party in Delhi to claim victory.

After the petition filed by a Vibhor Anand in 2016 seeking their disqualification was dismissed on Thursday by the President as not maintainable, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) hit out at the Election Commission, wondering whether it was truly independent or not.

In his order, the President said that “the question of alleged disqualification of Alka Lamba and 26 other Members of Delhi Legislative Assembly is not maintainable”.

The order came four months after the Election Commission ruled that the office of chairperson in RKS in hospitals fell under the exempted category of the Delhi Members of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) Act, 1997, and so the MLAs could not be disqualified.

The AAP, which has been at loggerheads with the Modi government over several issues, claimed victory but said it was clear that the party’s name was allowed to be sullied although the allegation at the first place was not based on facts.

“Most unfortunately, the Election Commission not only decided to entertain such a trash as a petition but also decided to initiate the proceedings on the basis of rubbish which in normal circumstances would have been consigned to the dustbin,” the AAP said in a statement.

Delhi Minister Gopal Rai accused the poll panel of wasting two long years over the petition without any solid evidence against the MLAs.

“Everyone knows that the MLAs involved in the RKS had nothing to do with Office of Profit… The Election Commission wasted two years because of some pressure from somewhere. At last, the truth is out,” he said.

The MLAs against whom the petition was filed were Alka Lamba, Shiv Charan Goel, Jagdeep Singh, Bandana Kumari, Ajesh Yadav, S.K. Bagga, Jitendra Singh Tomar, Rajesh Rishi, Rajesh Gupta, Ram Niwas Goel, Vishesh Ravi, Jarnail Singh, Naresh Yadav, Nitin Tyagi, Ved Prakash, Somnath Bharti, Pankaj Pushkar, Rajendra Pal Gautam, Kailash Gahlot, Hazarilal Chouhan, Sharad Kumar Chauhan, Madan Lal, Rakhi Birla, Mohammad Ishraque, Anil Kumar Bajpai, Surender Singh and Mohinder Goyal.

The AAP and the Delhi government had maintained that RKS were advisory in nature, meant to help hospitals develop strategies, and there was no profit to be made by holding the posts as its Chairperson.

The Chairperson of RKS was not entitled to any salary or emoluments or perks of any kind apart form the office space in the hospital concerned, the party said.

On Thursday, the AAP reacted with righteous anger.

Nagendra Sharma, the media advisor to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, said it was “extremely surprising that it took President nearly four months after he received the EC opinion to issue the order dismissing a fake complaint against 27 Delhi MLAs in RKS matter where he did not even take 24 hours to disqualify 20 MLAs in January.

“EC is (also) guilty of allowing the falsehood to be sustained in an open and shut case. Remember, EC even gave a notice to the Speaker in November 2016 who is not even a RKS member,” he tweeted.

The AAP statement said the “fake complaint” against its MLAs should have been dumped by previous President Pranab Mukherjee and not forwarded to the Election Commission.

“Unfortunately, this did not happen and a bogus complaint was allowed to be publicised to create a doubt in the minds of the people and this ‘tamasha’ was allowed to linger on for two years.”

The Election Commission is also hearing another plea to disqualify 20 AAP MLAs for allegedly holding Office of Profit as Parliamentary Secretaries.

In January, the poll panel had recommended the disqualification of the 20 and the President accepted the opinion the next day.

Now, the matter is being heard afresh by the Commission after the Delhi High Court had termed the poll panel decision as “bad in law”.

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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