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Rice prices may increase more: Assocham

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New Delhi: With India experiencing spiralling pulse-prices, Assocham on Sunday called for close monitoring of food prices, warning that rice prices may soon reach “boiling point” with stocks falling fast as a fallout of deficient monsoon and drop in output.

“Prices of rice may shoot up to reach a boiling point in the coming months as the stocks of the key staple cereal are depleting fast, owing to deficient rains and fall in output,” Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) said in a statement here.

“After pulses, onion and some edible oils like mustard oil, rice may cause pain-in-stomach of the consumers if timely adequate safeguards are not taken,” Assocham’s latest study said.

The industry chamber said though the government estimates kharif rice production at 90.61 million tonnes (MT), the target is unlikely to be achieved owing to severe deficit rains in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra and Karnataka “and the best that could be achieved is 89 MT”.

“The actual production may be around 103 MT during 2015-16. On the stock front, rice stocks have been steadily declining in the past three years,” the study reported.

“As against the stocks of 24.59 MT in 2012, only 13.89 MT (plus unlimited paddy 3.61 MT) are in stock as of today,” it added.

The study titled “Impact of weak/deficient monsoon on agricultural production and prices” said: “Increasing export outgo on account of PDS (Public Distribution System) and other welfare schemes will continue to weigh on availability in the open market”.

“Unless the government is able to handle the situation prudently, depleting stocks will soon reflect on the open market prices.”

It said the deficient monsoon this year is likely to slow down the economy considerably and accentuate inflationary pressure coupled with shortages of essential food items across the country.

“A recurring monsoon failure might push the country into a tight corner in respect of rice, sugar, etc.,” it said.

Assocham suggested that Direct Seeded Rice (DSR) should be encouraged to conserve water.

“Presently, less than 10 percent of paddy production is under DSR due to limitations in the availability of suitable equipment for DSR in clay soils. Urgent attention is needed in this regard to expand DSR acreage on war footing,” the chamber said.

“Given the drop in kharif 2015 foodgrain production at 252.68 MT for 2014-15, against a record 265 MT for 2013-14, it is highly doubtful if India could reach even 250 MT for 2015-16, which is ominous,” it added.

(IANS)

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India Demands Data on UN Staff Misconduct, Use of Immunity

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United nations
India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about misconduct by UN staff. Flickr

United Nations, Oct 7: In an attempt to break the wall of silence around the crimes and UN staff misconduct and those on its assignments, India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about such cases and the immunity invoked against prosecutions.

Yedla Umasankar, the legal advisor in India’s UN Mission, touched a raw nerve here by criticising the UN on Friday for not vigorously following up allegations of serious wrongdoing by its employees who enjoy the equivalent of diplomatic immunity, a prized possession of its staff.

“It appears that the UN system itself may be reluctant to waive immunity even for serious misconduct carried out by its personnel while serving on its missions, so that such cases can be prosecuted by the host governments,” he told the General Assembly’s committee on legal affairs.

“Even a few of such instances or allegations of crimes committed by UN personnel is highly damaging for the image and credibility of the United Nations system and its work around the world,” he added.

His statement also touched on the practice of some countries that protect their wrongdoers at the UN.

Umasankar demanded that secretariat disclose how many cases of serious misconduct by UN personnel were registered and the number of cases where the UN refused to waive immunity to allow their prosecution.

He also wanted to know in how many cases the host country wanted the immunity waived so it can prosecute those accused; the number of times the UN asked the host country or the country that sent them to prosecute them; how many times it consulted countries before waiver of the immunity of their personnel and how many of them refused UN’s request to waive their citizens’ immunity.

The information he wanted does not cover the diplomats sent by member countries to represent them at UN bodies and enjoy diplomatic immunity with the nations hosting the UN facilities.

After scores of serious allegations of sexual misconduct by peacekeepers, especially exploitation of children, the UN vowed to uphold a policy of zero tolerance and began publishing data on such cases in peacekeeping operations including how they were dealt with.

Starting with the year 2015, it began identifying the nationalities of those accused.

However, it has not made public a roster detailing all the allegations and proven cases of serious misconduct across the entire UN.

While the focus has been on sexual exploitation and abuse reported on peacekeeping operations, Umasankar said that “at a broader level, the issue of accountability has remained elusive in some cases”.

He attributed it to “the complexities of legal aspects relating to sovereignty and jurisdiction”, the immunity or privileges that may be necessary for UN operations, and the capability or willingness of countries to investigate and prosecute the accused.

He noted that the UN itself cannot make criminal prosecutions.

While Indian laws has provisions for dealing with crimes committed abroad by its citizens, not all countries have them, he said.

Those countries should be encouraged and helped to implement such measures, he added. (IANS)

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PM Modi is Optimistic about NDA’s Reforms to Boost Up Indian Economy

Lashing out at the critics, the Prime Minister elucidated about his government’s firm determination to boost up India’s economy. Admitting the economic plummet witnessed during the span of April-June, Modi declared that his government was devoted to back-pedal the mishaps due to the structural reforms of the economy. Let us look at what PM Modi said in his speech.

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Challenges to Modi Government
Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Wikimedia

After facing severe criticisms over economic deceleration for a very long time, Modi finally broke his silence while addressing the Golden Jubilee Year Celebrations of the Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) in Delhi. Lashing out at the critics, the Prime Minister elucidated about his government’s firm determination to boost up Indian Economy.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetization policy brought down the country’s GDP growth rate to a mere 6.1%. The implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) added to the plight of already sick Indian economy.

Admitting the economic plummet witnessed during the span of April-June, Modi declared that his government was devoted to back-pedal the mishaps due to the structural reforms of the Indian economy. Let us look at what PM Modi said in his speech.

On Economic Reforms

PM Modi was very straightforward to acknowledge the economic slump caused. He assured that the BJP government was capable of reversing the trend and would take important decisions in that direction. Further, the Prime Minister informed that a cleanliness campaign has been started to remove the people who try to undermine the nation’s unity and integrity. Under this cleanliness campaign, a Special Investigation Team (STI) has started working ever since the Modi government came to power.

On Critics

Welcoming the constructive criticisms, Modi declared that his government is sensitive enough to accept the prevailing denigrations in the Indian economy and are rectifying their mistakes. The Prime Minister opined that people have the right to criticize the wrong, but one should restrain from fabricating an environment of panic in the country. Further, he added that his government has started working towards the “development of new India, new culture, new celebration, and new traditions.” Some people do not welcome the reforms even though they are good for the nation simply because they are anti-BJP. “People who sleep well only after spreading pessimism about government’s economic reforms need to be combated”, emphasized Modi.

Past Economic Deceleration

After achieving a whopping growth of 7.5% over the last three years, Modi acknowledged that the growth rates dropped sharply in April-June but the BJP government would not sit back until putting Indian economy on firm footing. While addressing the gathering, the Prime Minister recalled a time when Indian economy growth rate was as low as 0.2% under the previous government thereby emphasizing the fact that India can recover from the economic sluggishness.

Mainstreaming Informal Sector

Encouraging the movement from the informal sector to mainstream economy, PM Modi assured, “People coming to mainstream fear that their old records may be reopened. We will not let that happen because earlier their old way of business was necessitated by prevailing circumstances. Nothing is more sinful than blocking those who want to come to the mainstream. Let bygones be bygones.”

On Doklam

Many people opined that the BJP Government would not be able to handle the Doklam crisis. Describing the censurers as hypocrites, Modi elucidated that “when the economic growth is favorable, it is the same people who like the institutes and process; but the moment situation becomes unfavorable to them, they say that the system is not right, the process is not right, people working in it are not right and just accuse people.” The Prime Minister also held the view that before drawing any conclusion, it is imperative to identify these people at once.

On Transport System

Modi made a comparative study of the BJP government with the previous ones. He argued that in its last three years, the UPA government constructed National Highways spanning an area of 15,000km while the period under his government has witnessed the construction of more than 34,000km National Highways. As far as the construction sector is concerned, Modi claimed that the total number of foreign investment has increased by 75% from 2014-2017. The foreign direct investment in the air transport sector has also registered a growth by 69% in the past three years. Likewise, in the mining sector, there has been an increase by 56%.
The Prime Minister also told that the BJP government is trying to increase the speed of development while creating a large number of job opportunities. He added that the government knows the value of the hard-earned money and thus their policies are aimed at improving the lives of poor and middle class. Moreover, most of the government schemes are launched to empower the poor. What affects them the most is corruption and black money estimated Modi.

– Prepared by Mohima Haque of Newsgram
Twitter: mohimahaque26

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‘Janaraksha Yatra Kerala’ Witnesses escalating BJP-Left Confrontation

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Amit Shah, President of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Amit Shah, President of the Bharatiya Janata Party. Wikimedia

Hurling anti-left maneuver during Janaraksha Yatra Kerala, Indian BJP National President Amit Shah launched serious allegation against the ruling CPM government for triggering political violence and imputed to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan the culpability for the mass killings of party workers in the state.

The BJP Chief traced back the origin of violence-centric politics in ”God’s Own Country” to the inception of the Communist regime. “Left always paralyses the state it rules. West Bengal and Tripura witnessed similar political vehemence under the CPM government”, elucidated the President.

Criticizing the Human Rights Activists of the nation, Amit Shah pointed out that they are very selective when it comes to what they support. “You turn your eyes away when our workers die. Why is there no march in Delhi? Violence has no color. More than 120 workers of the BJP have succumbed due to political violence so far. What was their fault? They were working for the betterment of Kerala”, complained the BJP Chief.

Acclaiming BJP’s ideology enthusiastically, Shah called upon the people to join as workers. Addressing the gathering at ‘Janaraksha Yatra Kerala’, the President added that family members of the deceased have stood by the BJP and he wouldn’t let the martyrdom of the workers go waste.

Amit Shah inaugurated the ‘Janaraksha Yatra Kerala’ at Payyannur to protest against alleged killings of party workers. The “padayatra” was led by the party’s State President Kummanam Rajashekhharan.

The National President of BJP attributed the diminishing power of the CPM to their increasing reliance on political violence. Apart from CPM, the once dominating Congress is also losing momentum thereby giving BJP the opportunity to flourish with their ideology. “More the mud of violence, more the lotus will bloom” added Shah.

The BJP Chief assured his party workers and volunteers that BJP would fight the war with CPM until emerging victorious. Shah declared, “We must all unite against the rule of the Left Government.”

Shortly after the launching of the yatra, three BJP workers adorning the National Highway 66 were ambushed by anonymous men on Monday. During his address, Shah alleged that the assailants were CPM cadres who have also destroyed BJP flags in the area.

Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is ready to augment the saffron stand with his visit to Kerala on Wednesday. As per the report of Times Now, Adityanath will basically be in the Muslim-dominated district of Mallapuram.