August 30, 2011

life in financial markets: how companies manipulate government to stop market regulators from investigating them

Anna Hazare's close aides, last week, were comfortable in dealing with a representative of the government who happens to be pressurising the stock market regulator, Securities and Exchange Board of India, to go easy in ongoing investigations in the cases of certain large influential companies and corporate groups. None other than India's finance minister, Pranab Mukherjee, as per this newsreport published in today's Indian Express newspaper, is influencing Sebi to "manage" ongoing investigation cases against certain influential corporate gorups.

Here is the newsreport:

Ex-SEBI member to PM: ID leaked, family at grave risk

P. Vaidyanathan Iyer

A whole-time board member of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the stock market regulator, has complained to the government that he and his family are at “grave” risk after his letter to the Prime Minister complaining against Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, the minister’s advisor Omita Paul, and his chairman U K Sinha, was sent to the finance ministry — and his identity leaked.

In that first letter sent on June 1, K M Abraham, a 1982 IAS Kerala-cadre officer — his term in SEBI ended on July 20 — alleged that Mukherjee and Paul put pressure on Sinha to “manage” some high-profile corporate cases and, in the process, undermined the regulator’s integrity.

Abraham’s letter referred to several enforcement cases against groups including Sahara, Reliance Industries Ltd and ADAG companies, Bank of Rajasthan and MCX-SX, a new stock exchange that currently offers trading facilities in currency derivatives.

“While reviewing these cases in his three months as Chairman SEBI, Shri U K Sinha has directly or indirectly, referred to how these cases are sensitive and are engaging the attention of the Union Minister for Finance or Smt Omita Paul, Advisor to the Finance Minister,” Abraham alleged.

Sinha had replaced C B Bhave as SEBI chairman on February 18 this year.

A fortnight after receiving Abraham’s letter, the PMO sent a copy to Economic Affairs Secretary in the finance ministry, R Gopalan, for his comments. Expressing anguish at this, Abraham wrote again to the Prime Minister on June 24.

“I couldn’t have gone to the Finance Minister who (as U K Sinha disclosed) had conveyed his interest in a few cases in SEBI to the Chairman personally.

Giving a copy of my letter that bears specific references to corporate houses, to the Finance Ministry, under the present circumstances can have the unintended consequence of exposing our lives and safety to grave risks,” he said.

Sinha did not respond to an email sent by The Indian Express almost 10 days ago.

When contacted, Paul said: “I do not know Abraham. I have never spoken to him. The Finance Ministry has sent its response on the issue to the PMO, the Department of Personnel and Training and the Central Vigilance Commissioner.”

Paul referred the newspaper to a Finance Ministry official, who said that Abraham was “perhaps raising these issues” because he was trying to deflect allegations against him.

These relate to his purchase of a flat in Mumbai built by Kohinoor Planet Construction Ltd. The flat is in the same complex where the National Stock Exchange, an entity regulated by SEBI, bought commercial space, raising questions of conflict of interest.

Further, the official said, Abraham may have been cut up with the Ministry for not extending his tenure by another two years and with the new SEBI chairman for not clearing a file relating to his appointment as Director in the National Institute of Securities Market. He was the only candidate shortlisted by a search committee set up during Bhave’s tenure.

The institute is a public trust set up by SEBI to add market quality through educational initiatives.

Upon receiving Abraham’s letter from the PMO, Gopalan wrote to Sinha on June 21 seeking his comments. After two reminders from the ministry on June 29 and July 5, Sinha replied that Abraham’s allegations are “completely baseless, motivated and are an attempt to tarnish the image of the government; apart from being a malicious attack on me as Chairman of Sebi”.

In his July 8 letter, Sinha also said Abraham was “under severe stress and tension” for the last one month or so.

“He appears to be suffering from an insecurity complex which has got aggravated after some media articles regarding CBDT probing certain properties purchased by him and by (one) Mr M S Sahoo, other whole-time member,” Sinha wrote to the ministry. He, however, said in the letter that Sebi — after verification of facts on Abraham’s purchase of the flat — sent reports on February 11, March 14, May 9, May 25 and July 4 that “the allegations are not true”.

Sinha added: “His (Abraham’s) behaviour is being erratic and he seems to be under some delusion about threat to his family.”

When contacted, Abraham said: “I had applied for a Provident Fund loan from the government for purchasing the flat.” Further, he said, there are thousands of entities regulated by SEBI and each of them may have commercial space in Mumbai. “Does that mean, I cannot buy a flat in any complex where an entity regulated by SEBI has bought space?”

In his June 1 letter to the Prime Minister, Abraham had said: “Sinha mentioned that ‘they are not interested in too many cases in SEBI’, and if he is able to ‘manage’ these few cases, then it becomes ‘easy’ for him.” On a few occasions, he wrote, the SEBI Chairman mentioned that, “the ‘Big Man’ (which he then clarifies is the Union Finance Minister) is interested, and that he has personally told him so”.

Several times, he wrote, “the Chairman has aired his sad frustration that the ‘Lady’ (referring to Smt Omita Paul, Advisor to the Union Finance Minister) is controlling everything — and all such things are being done at her instance... I have heard him mention that it is so difficult to interact with the Finance Ministry.”

August 16, 2011

life in general: undemocratic, dictatorial government of India

Criminal Procedure Code sections were applied by the Delhi Police, under instructions from the home ministry of the central government of India, in arresting civil activists Anna Hazare, Kiran Bedi, Arvind Kejriwal and a few other aides of Hazare, today morning.

These activists intended to hold a protest in Delhi against the weak anti-corruption legislation being put to vote by the government of India.

This is the latest incident of the government of India has been directly or indirectly acted against civil activists. There have been several similar instances all over the country, many of which go unreported in the mainstream media.

I am sure that the Congress party and other political parties which form part of the ruling alliance in the central government of India, will not be able to get away with their undemocratic, dictatorial acts for too long. 

Not that alternatives such as Hindu-extremist Bharatiya Janata Party, the Left parties and others are much better. The peformance of their governments in a few states where they won the state elections are not less dictatorial. But the Congress party cannot be allowed to get away with fast degeneration of democratic principles. 

Immediately below is a newsreport on Anna Hazare's arrest by the Delhi police, and following it is another commentary on the unfair restrictions which Anna Hazare and his followers were being asked to comply with.


Unfazed Anna Hazare fasts in police custody as protests in his support spread far and wide

 | New Delhi, August 16, 2011 | 07:37

Anna Hazare; Protests against Anna's arrest.
Hours before he was to launch his fast against corruption, Anna Hazare was on Tuesday arrested by the Delhi Police, preventing him from going ahead with his proposed protest. Other prominent activists in the Lokpal Bill campaign - Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi and Shanti Bhushan - were also arrested.
Delhi Police personnel; Anna Hazare supporters
Delhi Police personnel and Anna Hazare supporters near his residence.
Hazare and his associates were arrested under CrPC sections 107 and 151. Hazare, a 73-year-old Gandhian, was taken into custody from a residential area in Mayur Vihar before he was to proceed to the venue of his fast at J.P. Park, where prohibitory orders are in place.
My arrest won't stop protest: AnnaIn a CD relased by his team members after his arrest, Hazare urged people to carry on the fight against corruption through non-violent means.
"How can my arrest stop this agitation against corruption? My team will carry on the anti-corruption stir further and this fight will continue," he said.
"I appeal to the people to be non-violent and not damage any individual's or national property. Nobody should be hurt," Hazare urged.

Hazare fasts in police custodyHazare, Bedi and Kejriwal were brought to the Delhi Police Officers' Mess at Civil Lines after their arrest, where the Gandhian launched a fast. Hazare's team said he was not even taking water.

Protests in support of Hazare
Team Anna is planning to move the Supreme Court against the arrests. Meanwhile, there were reports of massive support pouring in for Hazare, with IIT Kharagpur students planning to go on a hunger strike.

Residents of Hazare's village Ralegan Siddhi took to the streets in protest. Scores of people trooped out of their homes soon after news of the arrest of Hazare and his team members reached the village, about 230 km from Mumbai.

There was a spontaneous shutdown in the village. Many villagers, including women, marched to the local Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation bus depot and raised slogans against the government.
While thousands of activists staged a march in Pune, a large number of protestors started a gathering near Dadar in Mumbai. An agitation is planned at Azad Maidan in Mumbai later on Tuesday where prominent activists, including Medha Patkar, are expected to congregate.

Union Home Secretary R.K. Singh said efforts were made in the morning to persuade Hazare to give up his proposed fast, but he refused to relent.

Cops tried to persuade AnnaAccording to sources, senior police officials, including DCP (Crime) Ashok Chand, met with Hazare in the morning at an East Delhi apartment, where he was staying, in a bid to convince him to not go ahead with his planned protest defying prohibitory orders at J.P. Park.
Emergency is back, cries Bedi
Flaying the police move, Bedi said: "Emergency has revisited the country. This is undemocratic and unconstitutional," she said.
Around 500 supporters were with Anna at the time of his arrest. Chanting 'Bharat Mata ki jai' and 'Vande Matram', they created hurdles in the way of police personnel as they were trying to take him to a nearby police station.

Government has become dictatorial: Prashant BhushanPrashant Bhushan, a key civil society member of the joint Lokpal Bill draft committee, said: "The government has become dictatorial. Democratic rights are being infringed upon, which will lead to more anger among the people."

Anna detention undemocratic: Ramdev
Baba Ramdev said the arrest of Anna Hazare was undemocratic.

Ahead of the proposed fast by the Gandhian, a group of people had thronged the East Delhi apartment where Hazare was staying to pledge their support to his protest. Security personnel, including some in plainclothes and some from the special branch, were deployed around the apartment premises.

Chetan Bhagat, Anupam Kher slam arrest
Author Chetan Bhagat said Hazare's arrest was a disastrous move by the government while actor Anupam Kher called it the saddest day for Indian democracy. Anupam Kher said, "Government has angered the common man."

PM holds CCPA meet
Prime Minister Manmohan  Singh held a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs to take stock of the situation.

After the Delhi Police denied him permission to hold his fast, Hazare had on Monday given a call to his supporters to fill up jails all over the country if he is arrested.
Addressing a press conference after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh slammed him for resorting to fast as a protest when Parliament was seized of the Lokpal bill, the Gandhian had said he will go to J.P. Park in Delhi on Tuesday, the venue of his fast, even though the Delhi Police imposed prohibitory orders.
"If I am arrested, I will continue my hunger strike in jail. If I am released, I will go back to the venue and this circle will continue," he said.
Hazare said once he is arrested, people should fill up the jails in every village across the country. "Going to jail for the country is no crime...It is a decoration," he said.
He accused the Prime Minister of "speaking" the language of his ministerial colleague Kapil Sibal saying that the Lokpal bill was before Parliament which will take the call.
Before his press conference, the 73-year old activist had made an unscheduled visit to Rajghat on Monday, where he sat in meditation. Hundreds of supporters gathered around him.
The Delhi Police refused permission to Gandhian and his supporters, saying that Hazare's team refused to give an undertaking on restricting the number of days of protest and protesters besides four other conditions.
In his speech at the Red Fort on Monday morning, the prime minister decried Hazare going on fast and said Parliament alone will decide on Lokpal and those having grievances should approach Parliamentary Committees for airing their views.
-With inputs from Headlines Today and PTI


Protest is central to a democracy

Gyanant Singh | August 16, 2011 | 08:03
Delhi Police has put arbitrary restrictions on Anna's fast.
It is ironic that the capital of the largest democracy in the world has no place for public protest. One might not agree with Anna Hazare or like his mode of protest but the manner in which he has virtually been denied a right to sit for an indefinite fast protest against corruption cannot be justified in a democratic country like India.
The government may be right in claiming that it was its prerogative to draft or give a final shape to the Lokpal Bill but it will find it difficult to explain the use of its power to regulate protests to virtually stifle dissent being expressed in the form of a peaceful protest.
Since the proposed protest was against inaction on part of the executive, the government dealing with the group should clearly seem to be fair and reasonable.
Despite Anna having compromised on the venue for his much publicised 'indefinite' fast protest beginning today, the Delhi Police restricted the duration of his protest to three days at the 'rear portion' of the Jai Prakash Narayan Park on Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg.
Incidentally, the Anna-led group had given up the Jantar Mantar site and had decided to settle for another venue after it was stressed that no 'indefinite' protest could be allowed at Jantar Mantar as many organisations would want to hold protest at the site as the monsoon session of Parliament was in progress.
The new venue was agreed to between the Anna camp and the police after the latter stated that such a long protest could not be allowed at Jantar Mantar in view of the need for equitable distribution of space for protests by various groups.
In a letter on August 16, the Delhi Police said it had 'now been advised' that the venue could not be allotted beyond 'one or two days' due to legal and administrative constraints. It would,
however, persuade the land owning agency to extend the period to three days. To add insult to injury, Anna, Shanti Bhushan, Prashant Bhushan, Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi have been asked to sign an undertaking that they would ensure that "the gathering does not exceed 4000/ 5000 persons". Apart from the fact that it would be beyond their control to predict the number of people unlike in political rallies where supporters are ferried to the venue, restricting the number of people to a maximum of 5,000 would amount to curtailing the rights of thousands of people who would like to voice their concern against corruption by going to the venue.
The right of people to visit the site to support the protest - which may be justified or unjustified - is independent of the right of Anna or his team.
With team Anna terming the restrictions as unconstitutional and gearing up to defy the Delhi Police diktats, Union minister Kapil Sibal quoted a Supreme Court judgment (1973 1 SCC 227) stating that "the right which flows from Art. 19(1)(b) is not a right to hold a meeting at any place and time". Though Sibal stopped at this, the next line of the judgment stresses that the state can only impose 'reasonable' restrictions in the interest of public order.
"Freedom of assembly is an essential element of a democratic system. The basic assumption in a democratic polity is that government shall be based on the consent of the governed," the Supreme Court has said in the judgment quoted by the minister.
It further stressed that free consent implied discussions and the right of citizens to "meet face to face with others for the discussion of their ideas and problems, and public streets are the 'natural' places for expression of opinion and dissemination of ideas." On limiting the crowd, Sibal said it could have been more if he had opted for far off Burari as the venue for protest. If this argument is taken to be valid, one cannot explain the symbolic march of our first freedom fighters from Meerut to Delhi in 1857 and repeated 'Delhi Chalo' refrain by protesters across the country.
Besides, the Delhi Police had initially agreed to venue. Sibal was further joined by his colleagues in the government to question the protest at a time when the Bill had already been introduced in Parliament.
The ministers reportedly stressed that Anna's demand was unconstitutional and his protest at this time was an affront to Parliament.
No doubt Parliament is an important institution but 'we the people' of the country also enjoy a special status in the Constitution.
Such a protest may not be justified in normal circumstances but to prevent it by imposing onerous conditions might be worse.

August 12, 2011

life in general: extremely ugly violence-cum-murder committed by police in pune, maharashtra

Earlier this week, on Tuesday (August 9) afternoon, farmers and residents of some villages in Pune district (in Maharastra state of India) were protesting on the Bombay-Pune Expressway. Their protest involved wrongful acquistion of their lands for a water pipeline project which would pass through their villages and supply water to a large industrial township, Pimpri-Chinchwad, in the Pune district.

An extremely ugly and a highly shocking thing happened at the protest! The protesting villagers were fired upon directly by the police, and when they began to run away from the firing, the police chased them and kept firing at them directly. There was no threat to life to the policemen from the protestors but the police kept firing away. At least 3 villagers lost their lives and several were seriously injured.

Obviously, the permission to open fire, came from very senior politicians of the state government of Maharashtra (the deputy chief minister, Ajit Pawar, seemingly the one to have given permission to do so). The rural police of the Pune district, headed by Superintendent of Police, Sandip Karnik, blindly followed the orders, or even if there were no such orders, he gave the green signal to his men out of sheer criminal madness.

The police gave all kinds of excuses for their firing but when video footage emerged, clearly showing policemen chasing villagers and firing at them, their claims have proved to be nothing but ugly deception.

Immediately below is a video, from youtube, showing a clipping of Star News television channel's coverage, which shows the ugly police firing. After the video, I have copied-and-pasted three newsreports that shed more light on the matter.


 | Mumbai, August 11, 2011 | Updated 09:20 IST  
The claim of the Maharashtra police and state home minister R. R. Patil that the firing on farmers who were protesting against land acquisition on Mumbai-Pune Expressway on Tuesday was done in 'self defence' has fallen flat on the face.
Footage of the incident shot by local cameramen reveals a completely different picture.
Mail Today has footage of the firing that shows that the police shot and killed farmers without any warning. The footage shows that the policemen did not use their weapons as a last resort or for self defence. They can be clearly seen aiming their guns and shooting at the farmers.
The footage also shows superintendent of police Sandeep Karnik firing at the fleeing protesters from an INSAS rifle.
The police had claimed that they had to fire when the villagers resorted to arson. However, the video shows that it was not the protesters but the policemen who began vandalising vehicles on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway.
Ganesh Taras
Ganesh Taras (25), one of the protestors, was hit in the thigh by a police bullet.
Ganesh Taras (25), who was shot in the thigh, said the protesters were deliberately beaten and provoked by the police. "Is this the way the police should have tackled people who were protesting peacefully? We were already winding up the function when they deliberately beat us up and provoked us. The police chased and shot people who were running away, without any warning," Taras, who is admitted in the ICU in Talegaon General Hospital, said. He added that the police showed no mercy and even women were shot.
Another protester, Ajit Chowdhary (24), who was shot in the leg, said, "Ironically, I was shot while helping out a policeman who had fallen down. I was helping him get up when they fired at me. I was shocked; another youth who came to help me was also shot. I don't know what happened to him." Raman Pawar, a farmer, admitted that stones were thrown at the police by the protesters.
"Some of us did throw stones at the police. However, the police deliberately provoked us. We were ready to move away from the expressway and wanted the collector to come and give us an assurance. The collector did not bother to come and the police started thrashing us, which resulted in the stone throwing," Pawar said.
He added that the 'unwarranted' police action was carried out under the orders of deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar as the Pimpri-Chinchwad water project - against which the farmers were protesting - is his pet project.
"There is no question that the police fired to kill us and the orders were given by Ajit Pawar, who wants water from the Pawna dam to be given to Pimpri-Chinchwad. They can kill some more of our men but we will not give even a piece of our land or water to them," Pawar said.


I don’t want to be a pawn: Maval victim

Pushed to the wall by pressure from all quarters, Pune SP Sandip Karnik suspended six cops, and held a 2-hr-long press conference. His answers raised more questions about the police action in Maval.

Gitesh Shelke, Nitin Brahme 
►  Police have ‘no idea’ who shot Moreshwar Sathe dead on Tuesday. His friend Vasant Garade says Sathe was shot in cold blood by cops as he walked towards him

►  Tempo driver Navnath Pangare, shot in the leg, denies his statement given to cops on video in a Lonavala hospital that someone in a white car shot him. Says he has no idea who did

►  If both sides of E-way were shut down, how did a car pass through?

►  Pangare’s family has alleged that SP Karnik and a police inspector came to Pune hospital, urged them to avoid media, said all expenses would be ‘taken care of’

►  Mediapersons claim that Karnik made them delete footage of the clash, say cops told them to take Pangare’s byte

Refuting the claims of the police about the circumstances in which he received his bullet injury, tempo driver Navnath Pangare said he has no idea who shot him. His police statement says occupants of a private white Indica or Indigo car fired at him. Pangare is undergoing treatment at a private hospital here. His family is alleging that SP Sandip Karnik and a police inspector approached them in Pune and told them all medical expenses would be met and to avoid the media.

Meanwhile, police claims about the death of Moreshwar Sathe — one of the three shot dead on Tuesday — have been challenged by Sathe’s friend who was present with him on the E-way. Vasant Garade told Pune Mirror that Sathe had been taken to a police van, but was released and was walking towards him and others when police shot him from behind in cold blood.

How did moreshwar sathe die?

Vasant Barku Garade, a close friend of deceased Sathe who was present at the site, said, “About four policemen nabbed him and took him to the van. They made him sit inside for a while. We saw him sitting in the police van. After five minutes, we saw him alighting from the van. He was walking towards us and policemen were standing with their guns near the van. As he was walking, a bullet pierced the nape of his neck and emerged from his mouth.”

Sathe, who was a tractor driver, owned a small piece of land, and had gone to the agitation site. Garade and other villagers who say they were witnesses claimed that Sathe was killed by cops encounter-style.

Karnik refuted the allegations saying police have not indulged in encounter tactics while quelling the farmers’ agitation on Tuesday. “Yes, it is true that police had attempted to detain him at the agitation site. He was caught and was made to sit in the police van parked nearby. But it not known when he left the police van. He left the van without knowledge of the policemen. Also, it is not known how he died of a bullet injury. He might have died by a police bullet, but it wasn’t an encounter.” Karnik said.

Who shot Navnath Pangare?

Pangare, a resident of Khed-Shivapur, was admitted to the general ward of a private hospital in Shivajinagar where he was operated for his bullet injury. However, on Wednesday night, a team of policemen led by Karnik allegedly went to the hospital and shifted Pangare to the ICU.

His father Vitthal told Pune Mirror that policemen restrained family members from speaking to mediapersons. When family members opposed Pangare’s shift to ICU citing high expenses, cops present there told them not to bother about ICU expenses. “We do not want ICU facilities but police have forced us to move to the ICU. We were told to say that Navnath has been discharged from the hospital. We do not know the reason behind such orders,” Vitthal said.

Pangare’s ‘statement’ was recorded by police on video at a Lonavala hospital where he was initially admitted. According to it, Pangare says “Indica-wala challa hota, ani tyatun golibar zhala” (A white Indica was passing by and there was firing from it).

However, on Thursday, Pangare denied having ever made such a complaint or given such a statement to the cops. Police said Pangare had lodged a private complaint registered with the Vadgaon Maval police station. “I just gave a statement to the police but I don’t know whose bullet it was. I don’t know who fired at me. I have not filed any complaint. I don’t want to be made a pawn in the game,” Pangare said.

Police dragging Moreshwar Sathe away after trouble broke out on the E-way on Tuesday

Karnik said Pangare’s tempo was heading towards Pune from Mumbai when it got caught in traffic on the Expressway. “Both the corridors — Mumbai and Pune — of the Expressway were blocked and Pangare’s tempo was standing on Pune corridor at Kamshet tunnel. Around five policemen were standing there. It was at around 1.30 pm when when an Indica or Indigo car passed through. Pangare said unidentified occupant/s of the car fired at him. The case was registered with Lonavla police and then transferred to Wadgaon Maval police station.”

He added: “We have not found spent cartridges from the site of the firing and we are yet to get ballistic reports of the bullet found in Pangare’s thigh. Police have obtained vital clues about the car and suspects will be tracked down. As per Pangare’s statement, we have registered the case against the car’s occupant/s.” What he didn’t spell oit was how a private car drove through when both E-way corridors were blocked.

  Cops instructed media to delete some footage 

The controversy surrounding the Pune Rural police’s role in the Maval firing is deepening. New revelations show that cops may have forced local cameramen to delete videos of the firing.

On Tuesday afternoon, local reporters landed at Baur, as the firing took place. They recorded the agitation, firing and stone pelting – but policemen soon routed them.

On condition of anonymity, one mediaperson told Mirror, “After the firing, we rushed to the truck and started recording videos of the police damaging the vehicle. Suddenly, one officer who was with the superintendent of police came and threatened us and ordered us to delete the videos. We ran to the SP and told him that some police were damaging vehicles, but he became angry with us. He said, ‘Do you know whose vehicles these are? You do not see anything’. Then, the SP wrote down our names and those of our publications and left.”


For two decades, Maval farmers have surrendered land to mega projects like the Expressway, MIDC, SEZs, a ring road, but it was dy CM Ajit Pawar’s pipeline project that broke the proverbial camel’s back. Farmers who took on cops on Tuesday say they don’t want to give the govt any more land, but Ajit Pawar is forcing them to

Pune Mirror Bureau
Posted On Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 05:46:24 AM

The body of the first victim of Tuesday’s mayhem, Shyamrao Tupe, lies on the Expressway as farmers clash with police over land acquisition
Even as the horror of Tuesday afternoon and the images of devastation and death sink in, a scratching of the surface reveals a taluka of farmers pushed to the wall by deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar and his Nationalist Congress Party’s (NCP) designs on their land.

  How Ajitdada acquired the wrath of Maval farmers  

Cops open fire in a conflagaration that wreaked havoc on the E-way
Protestors mill amidst confused traffic and alert security forces during riots on Tuesday
Farmers who clashed with cops said they would not have resorted to the extreme step of blocking the E-way, had Pawar given a patient hearing to their valid demands — compensation for the land being acquired for the proposed pipeline project from Pavana dam to Pimpri-Chinchwad and permission to draw water from the pipeline for irrigating their agriculture holdings. Land for the pipeline project is to be acquired in Donje, Shirgaon, Somatne, Parandwadi, Urse and Adhe villages. Farmers protesting the Pavana pipeline are stressing that it is a “politically motivated project.”

“The NCP had its own designs. Their modus operandi is to deny water to the local farmer and make his survival difficult. He will ultimately sell his land and migrate elsewhere. Of course, the political land mafia will do the rest — snatch the land,” said Keshav Wadekar, a local farmer.

Deepak Phalle, a farmer from Baur, gave vent to the collective fear of being dispossessed of their ancestral land and robbed of the Pavana dam waters, when he told Pune Mirror, “Ajit Pawar is our guardian minister, but he does not want to protect the interests of Maval farmers because they have not voted for the NCP.”

Phalle’s allegation is reflected in the project’s progess report. It was launched before the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls in 2009, but the NCP adopted a go-slow approach during the elections fearing an adverse reaction from voters. It lost the Maval Lok Sabha seat to Shiv Sena’s Gajanan Babar, and then the Assembly segment to BJP’s Sanjay Bhegade. Work on the project was relaunched with full vigour in December 2009.

Farmer Santosh Dabhade from Dabhade Wasti said the pipeline was laid in such a way that land belonging to NCP supporters was spared, while those like him aligned with opposition parties like BJP had to give up their land. “JCBs were pressed into service to flatten our standing crop. When we opposed the action, police cases were registered against us,” Dabhade said.

The farmers said they were fighting for the last crumbs of land left with them. “In the past two decades we have lost land to the MIDC, then the Expressway followed by special economic zones. We hear the ring road project too is in the pipeline. We have lost thousand of acres for paltry or no compensation,” said Ajit Dabhade from Talegaon.

Rajabhau Chavan, a farmer who was injured in the lathicharge, said, “This is nothing but a political conspiracy to finish the Mavalas in Maval.” He warned that the Mavalas had withstood injustices for centures since Shivaji’s time. “Ajit Pawar may have forgotten, but we have fought enemies like the Mughals in the past,” he said.

Shiv Sena’s MP from Maval Gajanan Babar said, “We strictly condemn the barbaric action against the farmers. This is the fourth firing incident against innocents in the state. This is happened on the orders of guardian minister Ajit Pawar. The SP should be charged with murdering the people. This battle will continue. We will ensure that this project is not completed over the dead bodies of farmers.”

► NCP had its own designs — they deny water to the farmer, make his survival difficult. He ultimately sells off his land and migrates. Then the political land mafia do the rest

- Keshav Wadekar, a farmer from the area

August 03, 2011

life in financial markets: india's prolonged tax breaks to IT companies

I have always doubted the credibility of continued favoritism being extended to the information technology (IT) industry by the government of India. This is usually given by way of exemption from various applicable taxes (income tax, excise duty, customs duty etc) or in other ways.

Here is a summary of the incentives given to the IT industry, as revealed by the government itself in the Indian Parliament today, in response to a question by a member of parliament.

Ministry of Communications & Information Technology
03-August, 2011 15:13 IST
Incentives to IT industry
The Minister of State for Communication and Information Technology, Shri Sachin Pilot today informed Lok Sabha in written reply to a question that Government extends several incentives for Information Technology Sector in the country. Under Software Technology Parks (STP) scheme, approved units are allowed to import goods required by them for carrying on software export activities as per the Foreign Trade Policy. Such goods may be imported either on outright purchase basis or free of cost or on loan basis from the client without payment of custom duty. Apart from this, the approved STP units can avail excise duty exemption on procurement of indigenously available capital goods, components & other specified goods.
Apart from this, Software is exempted from basic customs duty. Furthermore, several items for the IT sector are covered under the ITA Agreement, and hence exempted from customs duty. Section 10AA of the Income Tax Act provides for a deduction from the total income of hundred percent of profits and gains derived by a unit located in a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) from the export of articles or things or from services for the first 5 consecutive assessment years, of fifty percent for further 5 assessment years and thereafter, of fifty percent of the ploughed back export profit for next 5 years.
As per the Central Board of Excise & Customs, Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance, the Central Excise duty collection from IT Sector in respect of units registered with Central Excise during the current financial year upto June, 2011 is Rs. 4.47 Crore. Collection from other charges viz. MOT, Fines, Penalties etc. is Rs. 45.3 lakhs only in respect of these units. The “Other Charges” relate to Central Excise duty and do not include Service Tax and Customs Duties.
(Release ID :73758)