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Rampur – where Mahatma’s ashes rest in peace

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Rampur in Uttar Pradesh

New Delhi, Feb 6 : Rampur in Uttar Pradesh is the only other place, apart from Delhis Rajghat, where Mahatma Gandhis ashes are preserved at a very special Samadhi.

What makes Rampur different is that this district has the highest Muslim population in Uttar Pradesh and more importantly, has never had a major Hindu-Muslim riot. Secondly, it was also the first princely state to accede to the Indian union. Rampur State’s first parliamentary representative was freedom fighter Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, who in October 1947 urged Muslims at Delhi’s Jama Masjid to “pledge that this country is ours, we belong to it and any fundamental decisions about its destiny will remain incomplete without our consent”.

Culturally, Rampur has much to be proud of. Nawab, Kalve Ali Khan, is known for initiating Rampur’s celebrated connection with music. Literate in Arabic and Persian, his dream of setting up a Darbar that could match the brilliance of the pre-1857 Oudh Court, was achieved by his son Nawab Hamid Ali Khan.

Rampur added to the country’s cultural heritage by gifting India with its own Hindustani classical style of music, with the Rampur Seheswan Gharana. Also, some of India’s greatest musicians are known to have practised their art at Rampur, including tabla player Ahmad Jan Thirakwa, sarangi player Bundu Khan, sarod player Fida Hussein Khan, and Kathak dancers Acchan Maharaj and Kalka Prasad. The Nawab’s own guru, Wazir Khan, a member of the family of Tansen, was treated with great respect and given a seat next to the Nawab’s throne.

Under Nawab Hamid Ali Khan’s rule, the state’s standards of education received a boost. A Member of Council during the Viceroyalty of Lord John Lawrence, he was knighted in Agra by the Prince of Wales. The Jama Masjid in Rampur was built by him at a cost of Rs. 300,000. Ali Khan ruled successfully for 22 years and 7 months. After his death his son Mushtaq Ali Khan took over and appointed W. C. Wright, as the Chief Engineer of the state and built many new buildings and canals. He was succeeded by Nawab Hamid Ali in 1889 at the age of 14, whose rule saw considerable growth in education. Many new schools were opened during his reign, and donations were provided to colleges – the Lucknow Medical College for instance received Rs. 50,000.

In 1905 Nawab Hamid Ali, built a magnificent Darbar Hall within the Fort, which now houses the famous collection of Oriental manuscripts held by the Rampur Raza Library. Raza, was himself a poet and an artist who composed Hindi poetry and played the khartal (a percussion instrument). He is remembered for performances for his family members on many occasions. Raza is known to have given the famous ghazal singer Akhtaribai Faizabadi the title of Begum – a title that she was known by thereafter.

The royal palace �Khas Bagh’, built in stages and completed in 1930, is a strange amalgam of Mughal and British architectural styles. It was the first palace in India to install an air-conditioning unit, but is now in a sad state. The Palace’s wood panelling, chandeliers, carpets and the many portraits of Nawabs, are uncared for. It has been said that the kitchen was a very important place in those early days, with visits by royalty from other states. The Rampur kitchen was known for its specialized cooks – one who could make two types of rice dishes in a single handi, while another was an expert in �Shab deg’.

It has also been said that Rampuri Cuisine has imbibed many influences from other cuisines – perhaps even more than the Lucknowi Cuisine. In addition to Mughlai, there were the cuisines from Afghan, Lucknow and Kashmir dishes that the khansamas were exposed to. These influences have now become part of the Rampuri tradition. It is interesting to know that it was the Rampur cuisine that introduced the use of papaya and bottle gourd as mutton tenderizers. Use of �varq’ (silver foil) on food was also their invention and used liberally to dress up their famous halwas. Rampur cuisine also continues to use clay pots for cooking many of their dishes. Onion in different forms was the essential base of each dish that was made – such as raw onion paste, golden and browned onion.

An air strip for landing of planes was especially built to ensure the rulers of Gwalior, Dholpur and Patiala, could arrive in their private jets – their last visit became became the last great celebration witnessed by Rampur, before it merged with India. It is said that Raza did not sign the merger agreement under duress and also graciously gave up some of his most precious possessions such as his collection of books.

The Rampur Raza Library is housed in Hamid Manzil, a European-style mansion of Italian marble and gold-plated walls, located in the heart of the town. It stores 2,500 specimens of Islamic calligraphy, 5,000 miniature paintings, 17,000 manuscripts, and 60,000 printed books. The collection includes a seventh century Quran written on parchment and ascribed to Prophet Muhammad’s son-in-law, Hazrat Ali. Another rare book is a Persian translation of Valmiki’s Ramayana – said to be Aurangzeb’s personal copy.

On 1st July 1949 the State of Rampur was merged into the Republic of India. Rampur today presents a slightly decayed appearance: the palaces of the Nawabs are crumbling, as are the gates and walls of the fort. However, the Library remains a flourishing institution of immense value to scholars from all over the world.

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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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