IRS |Institute of Regional Studies


Contemporary Regional Developments in India

7th March - 13th March
  • PM Modi speaks to Rajnath Singh over attack on statues, govt takes serious note: Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned incidents of vandalism reported from some parts of the country and warned of stern action against those found guilty. Modi spoke to home minister Rajnath Singh and expressed his strong disapproval of the incidents, a government spokesperson said even as reports of another statue being defaced in West Bengal emerged. “MHA (ministry of home affairs) has asked the states that they must take all necessary measures to prevent such incidents...,” the spokesperson said. BJP chief Amit Shah had a warning for party workers. “I have spoken to the party units in both Tamil Nadu and Tripura. Any person associated with the BJP found to be involved with destroying any statue will face severe action from the party,” Shah tweeted. A Facebook post, which has since been deleted, by senior Tamil Nadu party leader H Raja talked about Periyar statues meeting the same fate as that of Lenin in Tripura. “Who is Lenin and what is the connection between Lenin and India?... Lenin’s statue has been removed in Tripura. Today it is Lenin’s statue in Tripura, tomorrow it will be the statue of caste fanatic EVR Ramasamy,” he had posted on Tuesday, referring to social reformer popularly known as Periyar. A few hours later, a Periyar statue was vandalised in Velloreand petrol bombs thrown at BJP office in Coimbatore. In West bengal, members of an ultra-Left student outfit vandalised and defaced a statue of BJP ideologue Syama Prasad Mookerjee in Kolkata.Police arrested six members of the “Radical,” believed to be a pro-Maoist students body formed in Jadavpur University four years ago, over the incident at South Kolkata’s Tollygunge. According to a senior home ministry official, Singh spoke to Tripura governor Tathagata Roy after he appeared to justify the toppling of Lenin’s statue in South Tripura district.“What one democratically elected government can do another democratically elected government can undo. And vice versa,” the governor had tweeted. Responding to reports of Singh’s intervention, Roy had tweeted, “The Governor has received no such written communication from the Union Home Minister…”Later Roy tweeted, “I am advised that pulling down statues (Lenin’s or anyone else’s) unless done by lawfully empowered authorities, qualify as ‘Mischief’ under Indian Penal Code. They are bailable and non-cognizable offences. Trying to blow them up to something like rioting or murder is unwarranted.”
    (Hindustan Times, 7.3.2018)
  • Macron visit to India: Chinese ambition in the Indian Ocean region is bringing France and India closer French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte begin a key, three-day visit to India on 7.3.2018. India sees France as a key partner, both politically and strategically, especially now, as an island of political stability and continuity in an increasingly uncertain world. The past year has seen great political upheaval not only in the United States of America with the arrival of a whimsical and often contrary president, but also across Europe, which has witnessed enormous political upheaval. Britain, caught in the negotiating coils of Brexit, has little time for anything but its own woes with the EU. Italy has just shooed in an extreme-right, anti-immigrant, anti-EU political formation with gigantic question marks hanging over the type of government that will emerge. Germany, the powerhouse of the European Union, has returned Angela Merkel to chancellorship, but with a substantially weakened hand. Spain is locked in an internal separatist debate while countries such as Hungary, Poland or the Czech Republic are all moving towards the extreme right. Europe is in the midst of identity angst. It is with this backdrop that Macron, elected President with more than 65% of the vote and a thumping parliamentary majority for his Republique En Marche! party, comes to India for a State visit that is likely to produce several positives for both sides. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Macron will co-chair the founding conference of the International Solar Alliance, an Indian initiative first mooted at the Paris Climate Change Conference of 2015. Both India and France have pledged to substantially reduce their carbon emissions and work towards energy transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
    (Hindustan Times, 9.3.2018)
28th February - 06th March
  • I-T sleuths unearth Rs 3,200 crore TDS scam
    The income tax department has unearthed a Rs 3,200 crore scam where 447 companies deducted tax from its employees but did not deposit with the government and diverted to further their business interests.The TDS wing of the I-T has initiated prosecution against these firms and in some cases, warrants have been issued, sources said. Under the Income Tax Act, the offences attract a minimum punishment of rigorous imprisonment of three months to a maximum of seven years with fine. Prosecution is initiated under Section 276 B. I-T is contemplating adding IPC Sections of cheating and criminal breach of trust as this act amounts to duping its employees, sources said. The offenders mainly include builders with one of them, a leading and politically connected, diverting Rs 100 crore collected from his employees for business purposes.
    (Times of India: 05.03.2018)
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Saudi Arabia had granted Air India permission to fly over its territory on its new routes to and from Tel Aviv.
    (The Hindu, 06.03.2018)
  • Britain to take up ‘persecution’ of religious minorities in India
    Britain will raise the issue of alleged persecution of Christians and Sikhs in India during the April meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London and Windsor, following demands by MPs to take it up with Prime Minster Narendra Modi. During a lengthy debate at the Westminster Hall of the House of Commons on ‘Freedom of religion or belief’ last week, MPs cited details of alleged persecution in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and elsewhere, and demanded that ministers discuss it when Commonwealth leaders are here for CHOGM. A ministry of external affairs officer in India said the ministry would need to see the transcript of the debate before making any comments on the issue. Martin Docherty-Hughes (Scottish National Party) mentioned the detention in Punjab of his constituent, Jagtar Singh Johal, allegedly without charge, and claimed that “members of the Sikh community across the UK have become gravely concerned that they, too, may be detained on the simple premise of being a member of the Sikh faith”.
    (Hindustan Times, 05.03.2018)
  • Central Bank's New Directive Threatens To Bring Down India's Booming Digital Wallets Industry; In 2016, the Indian government force-fed the idea of a cashless society to its citizens, pushing them into the arms of the digital payments industry through its demonetization programme that abruptly scrapped 85% of its currency. It led to the rapid digitization of India’s monetary system, slated to grow $500 billion by 2020, contributing to 15% of GDP, with a slew of public and private players, from the government and multiple fintech companies to messaging apps vying for customers’ wallets. While digital wallet companies such as Paytm, MobiKwik, FreeCharge, Ola Money, and Amazon Pay gained massive ground, Alibaba-backed Paytm, India's top digital payment firm, hit 100 million downloads on Google Play Store in December. Two years later, the scene has changed. Strict regulation of Indian central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), has dealt a blow to the growing digital wallet business. It all started last October, when the RBI directed digital payments companies to ensure that the payment instruments issued by them adhere to know-your-customer (KYC) norms -- a process through which financial institutions verify information about customers, including their identification details and biometrics -- by February 28 to pave the way for interoperability between prepaid payment instruments (PPIs), bank accounts and cards in a phased manner. Ironically, this regulation comes at a time when mobile wallets reported a 14% growth in January transactions at 113.6 million compared to 99 million in December 2017.
    (Forbes, 04.03.2018)