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Chidambaram criticizes government, claims economy stuck in groove

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New Delhi: The Indian economy is stuck in a groove and the growth of the Gross Domestic Product in 2015-16 is not likely to be higher than 7.3 percent, former finance minister P. Chidambaram said on Friday.

There was acute distress in rural India since promised jobs were not created and people were not impressed by Modi’s numerous visits to foreign countries, he said at a press conference here.

The Congress leader said the BJP-led government had confidently predicted the growth of Indian economy at 8.1 to 8.5 per cent in 2015-16 at the beginning of 2015 and that many of its promises, including on more jobs, were premised on a high growth of GDP.

“I am afraid none of the promises has materialized. For the whole of 2015-16, GDP growth is not likely to be higher than 7 to 7.3 percent, which means it will be the same as – or lower than – in 2014-15. The economy is stuck in a groove,” Chidambaram said.

He said the mid-year economic analysis has pointed out that private investment and exports – two of the four drivers of demand – were languishing.

“The Indian economy is like a car running on two wheels. Corporate balance sheets are stressed, net sales have fallen by 5.3 percent, and profit after tax is flat. Non-food credit growth at 8.3 percent is the slowest in 20 years. The growth of credit to industry is 4.6 percent while credit to medium enterprises has actually shrunk by 9.1 percent,” the Congress leader said.

The former minister said exports have recorded decline for 12 successive months compared with the previous year. “This is unprecedented,” he said.

He said the government did not seem confident of meeting the fiscal deficit target of 3.9 per cent and cautioned it against deviating from the path of fiscal consolidation in 2016-17.

“Crop insurance is unavailable to most farmers. Banks are reluctant to give loans against jewelry. Education loans have practically stopped,” he said.

The Congress leader accused the government of failing to check price rise and alleged growing intolerance, saying these had led to “much grief and fear among the people”.

The former minister said the 26th quarterly employment survey showed that job creation in manufacturing and export-oriented sectors fell by 43,000 whereas these sectors added 182,000 jobs in the same period in 2014.

“There is no evidence that the promised jobs are being created,” the former finance minister said.

Chidambaram referred to the low prices of international crude oil and said there was no international pressure on the government.

“I am not yet prepared to say that there has been fiscal mismanagement, but there are pointers to serious mistakes in fiscal management.”

Chidambaram accused the Narandra Modi government of not engaging the opposition on any important issue and said people were wondering if the central government had a clear and consistent policy on Pakistan.

He also rejected the charge of “obstructionism” made against the Congress by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday.

Chidambaram said the Congress opposition to the government’s alleged wrong policies or poorly-drafted laws or acts of misconduct or misuse of government agencies cannot be termed as obstructionism.

The Congress leader said that the overbearing attitude of the government was mainly responsible for the frequent disruptions in parliament and the absence of cooperation outside parliament.

He said the Congress had cooperated with the government in passing 67 and 45 bills in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha respectively during the last 19 months.

Referring to Nepal, he said India seemed to have lost the goodwill of the people as well as the government of Nepal as also Madhesi parties.

“Rhetoric, U-turns, and impulsive steps do not make for a coherent foreign policy,” he remarked.

Referring to Modi’s visits abroad, the Congress leader said: “When anything is overdone, there are not only diminishing returns, but it also invites ridicule, as you will find from a cursory survey of the social media.” (IANS)

(Photo: www.sify.com)

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Economy, Culture and Human bonds most important Ties that bind Saudi Arabians and Indians together

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Egypt, Pixabay

May 2, 2017: Economy, culture and human bonds are the most important ties that bind Saudi Arabians and Indians together. Our association is one of the fondest and one of the oldest in the world, going back all the way to the third millennium BC. There had been ancient peaceful contacts and interactions between the two peoples, including immigrations from both sides.

India has for many centuries welcomed Arabs, who have come here to settle, study or for trading. Over the years that I have proudly served as Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the Republic of India, I have come across so many stories of the deep human bonds that exist between the peoples of Saudi Arabia and India. I have heard stories of Arabs who came decades ago to Gujarat, Bombay (now, Mumbai), Delhi and Hyderabad for learning, trade and work. No wonder the name of India, “al-Hind”, is very common in Saudi Arabia and the Arab world. Several Indian goods that entered the Arab world were named after their place of origin. Indian swords, a favourite in the Arab world, were known by names such as Hindi, Hindawani and Muhannad.

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Evidently, Saudi Arabia and India have a shared history of culture and of people’s ties. As recently as the beginning of this century, there were approximately 1.5 million Indians working and living in Saudi Arabia. That number has now risen to over three million people. Doctors, engineers, IT professionals, workers, academicians, scientists and chemists are all part of the Indian community in Saudi Arabia, working hard to establish themselves in almost all economic sectors, given the plethora of opportunities. We look at them as partners. Ravi Pillai is a good example that comes to my mind. Mr. Pillai moved to Saudi Arabia in the late 70s, and since then, he has established himself as one of the most successful businessmen across the region — in construction, hospitality, education and retail. His businesses today employ more than 70,000 people.

Consider this as an example: A billionaire industrialist who owns multiple hospitals in the region, a visionary doctor, a multi-millionaire in retail business, a successful investment banker, all have one thing in common — they all are Indians who have established their fortunes in Saudi Arabia and the region.

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Success stories around Indians are not an exception in Saudi Arabia. They are highly regarded for their educational and technical achievements; for their integrity and sense of discipline; for their honesty and devotion to work. The contribution of Indians in economic development has been acknowledged by our government and we have made significant efforts to make them feel at home. Employees of large companies have access to state-of-the-art housing facilities and their children have access to schools with a board of education of their choice. For instance, the Indian board of education of CBSE following NCERT curriculum is taught in many schools across the country. Be it education or housing, jobs or lifestyle choices, there is access for everyone — natives or expatriates.

We have worked diligently to ensure that the guests of the Kingdom have an accessible redressal system to protect them from any violations. When it comes to the rights of workers, all contracts that each of them gets into with their employers are detailed out addressing every aspect of their work life. Saudi labour law provides to all expatriates full legal protection, which includes a unified labour contract, and provisions that prohibit employing persons in jobs different from the profession stated in the contract or holding their payments. Article 61 of the labour law requires the employer to “treat his workers with due respect and refrain from any action or utterances that may infringe upon their dignity and religion”.

It also lays down guidelines of giving workers the time required to exercise their rights without any deductions from their wages. Further, Article 101 lays down provisions for rest periods wherein “no worker shall work for more than five consecutive hours without a break of no less than thirty minutes each time during the total working hours for rest, prayer and meals”.

In fact, we always aim to ensure best practice. For instance, the Ministry of Labor and Social Development announced on April 23, 2017, that they will open bank accounts for domestic workers in the country. This has been done to ensure that all domestic workers get their wages and entitlements on time and that employers honour their contracts. Job security will also improve through this move, as employers will have to register their contracts electronically.

We also have one of the most progressive corporate policies around employees serving their notice period. In such situations, these employees are entitled to eight fully-paid hours per week or a full day per week to look for alternative employment.

I will re-emphasise that there are provisions and guidelines for any employee in any sector to seek legal redressal in case of dispute or violation of their labour rights. Violators in Saudi Arabia are penalised and punished for violating labour laws.

The Kingdom also has a very strong law prohibiting the trafficking of humans. In 2009, Royal Decree number M/40 dated 21/7/1430H declared that any person who was convicted would be liable to face imprisonment and pay a huge fine. The law was further strengthened last year ahead of the anti-human trafficking day (August 9), reinforcing the commitment of our government against this injustice. The Ministry of Interior also issued an order regarding human trafficking, emphasising the need and the importance for everyone to come and work together, to prevent it.

“Treat people as you would like to be treated” is an Islamic principle. You have a similar saying in the Indian text of Hitopadesha which states that, “one should always treat others as they themselves wish to be treated”. This principle, and the bond of friendship have been brought to life many times. One such instance that immediately comes to mind is that of an Indian guest worker in Saudi Arabia, who was jailed for two months after getting into an altercation with his colleague in a third country. His parents sought help from his Saudi-based employer, who readily made all arrangements to get him out of prison, including physically travelling from Riyadh to Abu Dhabi to secure his release. This is just one of the many examples of friendship and goodwill that exist between the people of the two countries.

A bilateral agreement on labour cooperation for recruitment of General Category Workers was signed during the visit of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Saudi Arabia in April 2016. The two countries are constantly working together to improve the situation of workers. An agreement on Labour Cooperation for Domestic Service Workers Recruitment was signed between Saudi Arabia and India in 2014. Additionally, in 2014, the two governments signed a bilateral agreement that allows prisoners to spend their sentenced term in their home country if they wish.

Also, a Joint Working Group on consular issues was established under the umbrella of the India-Saudi Arabia Joint Commission to discuss consular issues on a regular basis.

Recently, while going through news clippings from across the Kingdom, one particular news item caught my attention — a Saudi Arabian employer threw a wedding reception for her help and even paid for her honeymoon. Stories like this are not rare in our country and employers across Saudi Arabia recognise and appreciate the hard work and dedication of those that work for them.

There is always a significant reward for hard work and perseverance, and that is true for most of our Indian guests who have come to Saudi Arabia and have embraced us as their own, collaborating with us in our journey of growth and development.

(Saud M. Al-Sati is Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to India. The views expressed are personal)

(IANS)

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Price rise in the Gold Market due to Shopping of Jewellery in this Wedding Season

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Gold Jewellery in display at a shop, Wikimedia

New Delhi, Feb 8, 2017: Due to increased shopping of jewellery in this wedding season, gold prices soared further by Rs 220 to Rs 29,325 per 10 grams at the bullion market. The rise in the demand for gold is due to the rising wedding season demand despite weakness in global cues. Here is some data related to the price hike:

  • Standard gold (99.5 purity) climbed by Rs 220 to conclude at Rs 29,325 per 10 grams from Monday’s closing level of Rs 29,105.
  • Pure gold (99.9 purity) also jumped by a similar margin to end at Rs 29,475 per 10 grams as against Rs 29,255 earlier.

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  • Silver (.999 fineness) rose by Rs 175 to finish at Rs 42,540 from Rs 42,365 yesterday.
  • Spot gold was down 0.4 percent at USD 1,230.40 per ounce in early trade. In the previous session, the metal touched USD 1,235.73, its highest since November 11.
  • Among other precious metals, silver fell 0.7 percent to USD 17.61. Earlier in the session, it reached USD 17.76, its strongest since November 11.

prepared by Shambhavi Sinha of NewsGram. Twitter:  @shambhavispeaks

 

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Arunachal Pradesh Government to go Cashless with the inauguration of ‘Digi Dhan Mela’

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Customers line up outside a New Delhi bank to exchange outdated currency or make withdrawals. (A. Pasricha/VOA)

New Delhi, Jan 20, 2017: The Arunachal Pradesh Government on Friday took the historic step to go cashless with the inauguration of ‘Digi Dhan Mela’ in tune with the central government’s programme of ‘100 cities 100 melas’ for a cashless economy.

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The Digi Dhan Mela, a central government initiative, is aimed at incentivising digitally enabled transformation in the country following the November 8 demonetisation of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes.

Emphasising on the need for a collective effort from all citizens, the minister said it was necessary for the country to move along with the government.

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“Unless we work together, success cannot be achieved. If everyone contributes to the nation, it cannot lag behind,” Raju said.

He exuded confidence that the newly formed Bharatiya Janata Party-led government in the state would contribute towards nation building.

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Appreciating the enthusiastic response of the people to go digital and contribute towards nation building, Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju called for organising the mela in districts and zillas (blocks) so that people from every corner are covered.

Rijiju said development and success cannot be achieved without hard work and pain. (IANS)