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Upper caste quota violates basic tenet of reservations: Experts

The bill violates the “basic feeling (tenet) of reservation” which is usually considered as compensation for the social boycott faced by the marginalized communities.

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New Delhi, Jan 10 : The Constitutional amendment bill creating 10 per cent quota for economically backward sections in the general category is only for the “privileged class” and violates the basic tenet of reservations, activists and academics say.

“This reservation is not for the poorest of the poor communities. This is for the privileged class,” Ashok Bharti, Chairman, National Confederation of Dalit Organisations (NACDOR), India, told IANS.

He said the government cannot divide the society in the name of income and caste.

“Those who are earning around Rs 1 lakh or a little above cannot compete with those who are earning around Rs 7 lakh yearly.

“Government officials in their initial days of service earn less than Rs 8 lakh per annum but their children will be drawing the benefits in the education and job sector,” he said.

Parliament on Wednesday passed the 124th Constitutional Amendment Bill, with the Rajya Sabha approving the measure a day after the Lok Sabha did so.

The cabinet had on Monday approved the Bill, providing 10 per cent reservation in jobs and educational institutions for people belonging to “unreserved categories”, including Christians and Muslims, with an annual income limit of Rs 8 lakh and land holding ceiling of about five acres.

Apoorvanand, a Professor in Delhi University’s Hindi Department, said the bill violates the “basic feeling (tenet) of reservation” which is usually considered as compensation for the social boycott faced by the marginalized communities.

“People belonging to upper caste have no history of social boycott even if they were economically weak. It has always been the marginalized communities and women who have faced discrimination,” Apoorvanand told IANS.

Currently, in central-government funded higher education institutions, 22.5 per cent of available seats are reserved for Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) students (7.5 per for SCs, 15 per cent for STs) and 27 per cent for OBCs.

Apoorvanand said the latest measure was aimed at winning upper caste vote in the Lok Sabha elections.

“The reservation came after the loss (of BJP) in the recent (Assembly) elections and the feeling that the party lost them as people of a particular group were not happy with them. It is clear that the move is to appeal to that group.”

Badri Narayan, a Professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), described the new reservation as a “strategic move of the BJP”.

“This is not a new demand. People have been demanding reservation (for upper castes) from very long. Parties too have spoken about it in their manifestos. The government may say that the timing was correct, but questions will be raised on the intention of the government over why this is done just before the elections,” Narayan told IANS.

Echoing this, Bharti said the measure had been pushed through in haste without any discussions with the stakeholders.

“How will the bill benefit the economically backward masses and not only a certain class? Does this mean only the poor from the upper caste or the poor of all communities? Does the government know how many will get the benefit? There are too many questions which the government should answer and set out a clearer picture before implementing (the measure).”

Bharati, however, saw a silver lining in the measure.

“This quota will also have a positive impact. It will remove the stigma from Dalits. Now even the Brahmins, Thakurs and Baniyas will have a quota,” he said.

Apoorvanand contended that the reservation was granted to hide the government’s failure in generating sufficient employment opportunities for the youth.

“This government has failed in terms of employment generation. What is the purpose of promising a reservation if the Centre cannot create job opportunities?

“If you are not generating employment and promising me reservation, where will you give the reservation? The 10 per cent of zero is zero,” he said.

Harjeet Kaur Bhatia, Head and Professor, Department of Educational Studies at Jamia Millia Islamia, had an entirely different take on the issue.

“Reservation as such needs to be abolished. We cannot have a reservation for every class eliminating the merit. We should have reservation for education but when it comes to jobs, everybody should be included,” Bhatia said.

(Nivedita Singh and Somrita Ghosh can be contacted at [email protected] and [email protected])

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Madhya Pradesh farmers hopeful of being ‘debt-free’ as loan waiver scheme kicks-off

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Bhopal, Jan 22 : A week after the launch of the loan waiver scheme in Madhya Pradesh, the Congress government claims 19.54 lakh farmers have filed their applications in the six days till Sunday.

While the opposition BJP has been calling the “Jai Kisan Rin Mukti Yojana” a trick to cheat the farmers, the question is how the farmers of the state perceive the entire exercise.

Kailash Chaudhary, a farmer from Mandsaur district’s Babulda village, said: “About two years ago, six farmers sacrificed their lives for their rights in Pipliya Mandi. This is the beginning of the victory of their fight.”

“Forms are being filled for waiver of loans up to Rs 2 lakh. We feel that the government is taking our demands seriously,” Chaudhary told IANS.

Mandsaur was the centre of farmers’ agitation in 2017 when six farmers were killed in police firing in June, 2017. After the incident, the farmers’ movement had taken over the whole state, which then spread to the whole nation.

Farmer’s leader Kedar Sirohi said: “Farmers in different parts of the state are excited about the loan waiver. They are filing applications in large numbers.”

“To ensure they don’t face any difficulty in filing applications, leaders and workers of farmer organisations are helping them. Government officials is also alert to help out the farmers. Colour coding of application forms has made it easier for farmers to fill out the applications,” he said.

According to official figures, out of the 19.54 lakh forms filed till Sunday, around 60 per cent were green forms, 35 per cent were white forms and 5 percent were pink forms. The farmers are hopeful of becoming debt-free through this exercise.

As per the scheme, the farmers of the Aadhaar seeded list will have to submit green applications and the farmers of non-Aadhar seeded list will have to submit white coloured applications. Farmers have to submit a pink application to file an objection or claim against information provided in the green or white list.

However, the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had been accusing the Congress of misleading the farmers and terming the scheme a trick to cheat them.

Former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan said the Congress promise of a loan waiver won’t be fulfilled by a mere announcement.

“The Chief Minister (Kamal Nath) and Congress leaders are saying they have fulfilled their promise of loan waiver to the farmers. But the promise has not yet been fulfilled. An announcement does not mean fulfillment of the promise,” he said, adding the Congress was misleading the farmers.

Congress spokesperson Syed Jaffer responded that 55 lakh farmers will get their loans waived of under the scheme, for which the due process needs to be followed.

“No matter what charges the BJP makes, the truth is that farmers are happy and they trust that the Congress is fulfilling the promise that they made to them,” he said.

“Those farmers who are in debt, neither are they now receiving notices from the banks nor is their property being seized. Under BJP rule, farmers had to go to jail and lose their property just for not paying their power bills,” Jaffer told IANS.

Calling the scheme pro-farmer, farmer leader Shiv Kumar Sharma told IANS that political parties were creating doubts about the scheme.

“Farmers were reeling under debt which had increased manifold over the last one-and-a-half decade. Now they are getting waiver of up to Rs 2 lakh. The government is new and one should wait before making adverse comments,” he said.

Kamal Nath had signed the farm loan waiver file soon after taking oath as the Chief Minister. The filing of forms for the waiver started from January 15 and will continue till February 5.

According to the government, farmers will start getting the money in their loan accounts from February 22.

The Chief Minister had said that the scheme would benefit around 55 lakh farmers by waiving their loans worth Rs 50,000 crore.

(Sundeep Pouranik can be contacted at [email protected])

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Entertainment industry is run by a glamorous mafia: Pahlaj Nihalani

Dropping another bomb, Nihalani says he suspects the hands of some big guns in sabotaging “Rangeela Raja”.

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Pahlaj Nihalani

Mumbai, Jan 22 :Govinda, “Rangeela Raja”, Pahlaj Nihalani-backed comeback vehicle for Govinda, did not open well. Nihalani says it is because his film did not get the theatres required as the entertainment industry is run by a “glamorous mafia”.

“I am being targeted for my blunt views on the workings of censor board, and because of me, my leading man Govinda is being targeted. If you ask me, Govinda and I have the maximum number of enemies in the film industry,” Nihalani said.

Lamenting the lack of theatres for “Rangeela Raja”, Nihalani says he was refused a release in places like Bihar and Jharkhand.

“These are traditional strongholds of Govinda. And not a single theatre in Patna or Ranchi agreed to play ‘Rangeela Raja’. Why? Because my film is bad? Are only quality films released in theatres? And who decides that my film is substandard? A handful of critics for whom I did not have a press show, so they are upset with me and they are taking it out on my film,” he said.

Dropping another bomb, Nihalani says he suspects the hands of some big guns in sabotaging “Rangeela Raja”.

“I know who they are. I know the people who want to finish off Govinda and me. The entertainment industry is run by a glamorous mafia. They all sit, eat, sleep and make movies together. Solo producers like me with no corporate backing are being pushed out of the film industry in the name of corporotization,” he said.

But Nihalani says he isn’t going away anywhere.

“I belong to this industry as much as those who are currently monopolising the A-list stars. I will make another film with Govinda and prove he too is an A-list star.”

Nihalani says he has always believed in introducing new talent and will continue to do so.

“I introduced Govinda and Chunky Pandey. In ‘Rangeela Raja’ I’ve introduced Mishika Chourasia. I am confident she has a very bright future. Unless the industry will punish her for being Pahlaj Nihalani’s protege.”

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BenQ launches 4K home cinema projectors in India

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w2700 cinematic color with true 4k kv

New Delhi, Jan 22 : Taiwanese electronics company BenQ on Tuesday launched two new 4K home cinema projectors — “W2700” and “W5700” — with CinematicColor technology, projector-optimised HDR-PRO support and individual factory colour calibration in India.

The new projectors, “W2700” and “W5700”, priced at Rs 2.49 lakh and Rs 2.99 lakh respectively, are the world’s first 4K home cinema projectors, the company said.

“With this new range of 4K projectors, we are extremely optimistic that these will turn any room into a world-class home theatre with video enhancing technologies,” said Rajeev Singh, Managing Director, BenQ India.

Fuelled by DCI-P3 colour space, “W2700” delivers the highest level of image accuracy while the “W5700” projector provides a 1.6X big zoom along with 2D H/V lens shift that is ideal for audio visual (AV) rooms.

The HDR-PRO supported projectors also incorporate auto colour and tone mapping techniques to offer improved brightness and contrast range along with ideal image optimization for vivid video quality.

Designed with a compact profile, the light weight projectors facilitate tailored AV personalization with versatile short throw, big zoom and lens shift for a wide range of home cinema possibilities, the company said.

The projectors would begin shipping in the first quarter of 2019.

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