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Their relentless attempts at wrecking the status quo- Protesting students of FTII

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By Sreyashi Mazumdar

Treading upon the cock-a-hoop street of Jantar Mantar, with drops of sweat trailing down their nose, their cries attuning to the vigor of an unfinished battle, hollering – “Inqelab Zindabad”- the protesters, hailing from across the board, holding placards, reiterated their demands for an accredited chairperson being officiated at the helm of affairs at FTII.

The protest which kicked off on the 12th day of June exemplifies a relentless effort put up by the students of FTII, who have been incessantly demanding the removal of Ganjendra Chauhan- the present chairperson of the renowned filmmaking institution.
Not giving in to the nonchalance of the central government on the entire issue of how Gajendra Chauhan despite being ineffective and not worthy of being the chairperson of FTII, around 80 students of the institute staged a protest at Jantar Mantar today. Filmmakers, academicians, and renowned theatre personalities were seen flocking the burning grounds.
“We are not against any particular ideology, all we want is the government to look into our demands. Gajendra Chauhan isn’t suitable for the post of a chairperson. He  doesn’t bear the required credentials which were borne by the former chairpersons like Saeed Mirza, Shyam Benegal etc,” said an FTII student.
Taking a dig at the central government’s high headed move, Kavita Krishnan, Secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association, fleshed out her take on the issue, “The government thinks that every institute of this country on a drive to undo the Indian culture. They are trying to unleash a monochromatic culture. The appointment of Ganjendra Singh is nothing less than an attempt at scuttling the multi-dimensional aspects of art forms like filmmaking, theatre and even education. The government will be forced to give in to the demands of the protesting students, they cannot let loose the students for one Gajendra Chauhan.”
Tuning into a similar line of thought, Arvind Gaur, the creative director at Asmita theatre Group, ruminated on the surging dictatorial attitude put forth by the government, “One cannot delimit the tenets of art and culture. One requires understanding the multifaceted nature of art itself. Further, he sounded his attempt at bringing forth a change through a string of street plays.
Hoping for a fruitful outcome, the vociferous cries of the protesters would continue reverberating the capital city until the awaited demand comes into being.
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Welcome the new Chairman of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Anupam Kher

Actor Kabir Bedi said Anupam “would do wonders” in his new role

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Veteran actor Anupam Kher. Wikimedia

Pune, October 11, 2017 : Anupam Kher, an actor with a repertoire of over 500 movies including international projects, was named Chairman of the prestigious Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) in Pune. The film industry hailed the move.

Official sources confirmed Anupam’s appointment. He will succeed the controversial Gajendra Chauhan, whose appointment had triggered student protests.

Anupam’s wife Kirron Kher, an actress and BJP MP from Chandigarh, told Times NOW: “I’m very happy. Of course, it’s a challenging job for anybody. It’s not going to be an easy job. These chairmanships are crown of thorns. Here, people do get against you, but I am sure Anupam will be able to take them along because he is an extremely talented person.”

Anupam, who began his acting career with “Saaransh” in 1984, also has his own acting institute Actor Prepares.

Kirron said Anupam was the right choice to head the FTII, which provides training in acting, direction and other technical aspects of film making in a country which is one of the largest producers of movies.

ALSO READ Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) in Pune to Screen Films Made by its Alumni from August 5

“My husband is a very fine actor. He has been in the film industry for so many years. He is very capable of (being FTII head).

“He has been teaching acting for so long. He is the only person who earlier headed CBFC, then National School of Drama and now has been appointed Chairman of FTII.

“So, I am a very proud wife today. I would like to thank the government and the Information and Broadcasting Ministry,” she said.

Asked what she meant by ‘crown of thorns’, she said: “I meant the CBFC, not FTII.”

Filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar tweeted: “Heartiest congratulations to Anupam Kher for being appointed as the Chairman of FTII.”

Filmmaker Pritish Nandy called it an “excellent change” at FTII. “Finally, the government is listening to us.”

Actor Kabir Bedi said Anupam “would do wonders” in his new role. (IANS)

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70 Years of Independence But No Right to Live With Dignity for Women: National Commission for Women Data

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Indian students shout slogans as they hold placards demanding stringent punishment for rapists during a protest in New Delhi, India, April, 23, 2013. VOA
Oct 3, 2017: India completes 70 years of Independence, yet women of the country fight for their ‘right to live with dignity’. Our women are still not free from the clutches of societal customs. According to the media reports (2016-17), the National Commission for Women (NCW) received maximum complaints under this category, ahead of rape or molestation.
The NCW is a statutory body appointed to safeguard women’s rights. The highest number of complaints registered by NCW were 4,373 under the ‘right to live with dignity,’ followed by dowry harassment (1,752), disrespecting the modesty of a woman (946) and violence against women (943), reported IndiaTimes.
“The NCW is founded upon the recognition that in a patriarchal society, women face a far greater degree of vulnerability and, hence, any effort to reform any law cannot go against this well-evidenced fact and reality and now argue that men are equally if not more vulnerable than women,” All India Progressive Women’s Association secretary Kavita Krishnan said, reported PTI.
Many a times police personals ask women inappropriate and insensitive questions during investigations. It is startling to see that NCW department has registered 3,963 complaints of police apathy, which also top the cases of molestation or dowry.
Often women are compelled to marry against their choice. Indian women grapple with the right to choice in marriage and forceful arranged marriages that dominate consensual marriages in the Indian society. NCW received 337 complaints about women wanting the right to choose their own spouses.

In the famous conflict between Maneka Gandhi and Union of India, she challenged her impounded passport in the apex court. Maneka was issued a passport on 1976, and within a week, the same was impounded because of the public interest. A writ petition was filed with the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court of India gave a new light to Article 21 (III) by demonstrating that the right to live is not merely a physical right but encompasses the right to live with dignity as well.
As per the Article 21 of Indian Constitution:
No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to a procedure established by law.

Prepared by Naina Mishra of Newsgram. Twitter @Nainamishr94

 

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Decoding the Indian Agrarian Crisis and Fake Farmers Facade

Gaurav Tyagi believes half baked measures like loan waivers just make people lazy parasites.

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An increasing number of farmers in India are committing suicide due to debt pressure. To tackle the issue, the government has come up with farm loan waivers. (VOA)

– By Gaurav Tyagi


New Delhi, September 18, 2017 : 
Indian and International media is full of articles regarding large number of farmers in India committing suicide due to debt pressure.

Instead of going to the root of the problem and analyzing the reasons for this phenomenon, Indian politicians have come up with an absurd idea of farm loan waivers.

Majority of Indian farmers under debt trap own very little land. Farming on such small piece of land is not economically feasible. This sector is highly unorganized. Most of the time, no planning is involved in cultivation, irrigation and harvesting.

Middlemen exploit farmers by buying their produce at a very low price and then selling it at a premium to the end consumers.

The irony is that a large number of Indian politicians claim huge incomes from agriculture while farmers starve.

In the province of Madhya Pradesh 24 farmers committed suicide this year over crop loss and failure to repay loans but 18 of the 20 cabinet ministers of the state have shown ‘agriculture’ as their main source of huge incomes.

How come politicians are earning in Billions through farming while the real farmers are struggling to make both ends meet?

Let’s examine the issue in-depth.

The income earned from agricultural land is exempt from income tax under section 10 (1) of the Income Tax Act 1961. Politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen in India launder their money misusing the above income tax clause.

Normally, one cannot own agricultural land in India unless their forefathers have been agriculturists. Rich and influential people in the country obtain agriculturist certificates by ‘greasing the palms’ of the local land officials.

Farmers are not required to maintain detailed records in India. This provides an excellent loophole to pass off unaccounted and undeclared cash as agricultural income. It is done by showing fake sales cash receipts of agricultural produce, which like other certificates can be purchased in India through bribes.

Approximately 800,000 tax declarants in India state exorbitant amounts as agricultural incomes while filing their annual income tax returns.

This income, a whopping INR. 874 Lakh Crores was eight times more than the cumulative GDP of India for the financial years 2011 and 2012.

The average annual income declared by these assesses comes out to be anywhere between Rs. 30-80 Crores, on which they don’t pay any taxes.

It’s obvious that the aforesaid is not agricultural earning instead it’s declared as agricultural income by these assesses just to avoid paying taxes.

According to National Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) Delhi, with hardly any farming land has more farmers indulging in agriculture than Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and West Bengal provinces.

Delhi’s so called ‘farmers’ received Rs. 22,077 Crores in agricultural loans during 2009. In reality, these ‘self proclaimed farmers’ are the owners of big farm houses on the outskirts of the capital.

The authorities are well aware of this malpractice. The Tax Administration Reform Committee in its report in November 2014 said, “Agricultural income of non-agriculturists is being increasingly used as a conduit to avoid tax and for laundering funds, resulting in leakage to the tune of Crores in revenue annually”

The Finance Minister of India, Arun Jaitley on 26th April said that the government of India does not plan to tax the farm income.

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Finance Minister of India, Arun Jaitley, wikimedia

It reveals that Indian politicians cutting across party lines indulge in this malpractice, 27% of the winning Lok Sabha M.P’s in 2014 elections have declared wealth of over Rs. 1 Crore, majority of which has been mentioned as agricultural income.

Indian opposition politicians blackmail the political party in power by indulging in spurious farmer agitations.

If there is a bumper crop then the opposition parties start shouting that prices have crashed due to over-supply in the market. When farming cultivation fails due to the vagaries of nature, then they start throwing statistics about farmers suicide.

A group of ‘self proclaimed’ farmers from Tamil Nadu province camped at Jantar Mantar in Delhi, the Indian capital city during March this year and indulged in cheap theatrics to draw attention to their protests.

The leader of this group, P. Ayyakannu is demanding that all farmers should be given loan waivers from banks and quoted highly inflated figures of farmers suicides in Tamil Nadu.

The Tamil Nadu government on 28th April, 2017 conveyed to the Supreme Court of India that no famers committed suicide in the state and clarified that a few, who took this extreme measure did it due to personal reasons.

Many farmers died due to old age and other medical issues. Ayyakannu clubbed all of them together to gather national as well as international attention.

ALSO READ Farmers welfare: What Indian agricultural sector needs to learn from Denmark?

Ayyakannu called off this whole play in Delhi on 23rd April after 40 days, when the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu came to meet these protestors.
He said that their group is giving a one month’s time-frame to the government in order to fulfill their demands otherwise, they would resume their protests in the national capital from May 25 on a bigger scale.

This impostor farmer leader Ayyakannu again came back to Delhi again on 16th July with his gang of ruffians to continue their drama.

Ayakannu as per media reports is not even a farmer, but a lawyer, who makes huge amounts of money through out of court settlements and personally owns hundreds of acres of land.

He and his bunch of hooligans all look quite healthy and well-fed. They don’t appear like destitute farmers as claimed by them.

Fake farmers like the aforementioned Ayyakannu are just the front faces of this façade in the name of farmers.

The remote controls of such characters remain in the hands of politicians, who use them for their narrow, selfish, corrupt agendas depending on the political situation at the state and national level.

The governments of Punjab, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajasthan & U.P. provinces have waived off agricultural loans worth Billions. This has set up a very bad precedent for the rest of the country.

ALSO READ Exclusive: Angry Farmers and Distressed Leaders

There are no ‘free lunches’ in this world. These half baked measures like loan waivers just make people lazy parasites.

The following steps would go a long way in helping the real distressed farmers;

  • Scientific soil and climate testing should be done across all farming regions in India. Farmers can then be educated about which crops to grow profitably, in how many cycles; depending on the soil conditions and climate of the region.
  • Implement agricultural reforms like farming co-operatives, where farmers having small agricultural land holdings can be encouraged to come together and pool their land plus resources together.
  • Crop storage infrastructure should be built and maintained in every village so, that farmer can store their surplus produce rather than sell it desperately at a low price.
  • Crop insurance must be compulsorily introduced all over the country wherein, farmers by paying a nominal amount need not bother about their crops getting destroyed through excessive rain or drought.
  • Organic farming needs to be encouraged instead of over-reliance on chemical fertilizers. The food waste produced by an entire village can be easily turned into biodegradable compost, through innovative schemes like Vermicomposting.
  • Vermicast can replace fertilizers in the agriculture fields. This would save money for the farmer and provide high quality chemical free crops.
  • The APMC’s (Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees) have created a coterie of middlemen, who along with the complicity of these committees, form a virtual barrier between the farmer and the consumer, paying the former a pittance for his produce and charging the latter exorbitant amounts for fruits and vegetables.
    Vegetables are purchased at Rs. 2 or 3 a kg from farmers and then sold at 30 to 40 rupees per kg to urban consumers.
    This setup has been going on for decades in every town and city of India. Millions of urban Indians pay artificially higher prices and majority of farmers are underpaid due to this flawed system.
    The profits are made by middlemen, who do not pay taxes on these huge earnings. It is a common practice for them to store money in cash and not in banks.

These APMC’s must therefore be abolished immediately. Farmers should get direct access to the end consumer through the elimination of middlemen. This would ensure a better monetary return for farmers.

  • Private moneylenders in and around the villages charge a very high rate of interest from farmers. This unscrupulous sector should be bought under government regulation by bringing down the rate of interest to a rational level.
  • Government schools in villages are in shambles. They need to be upgraded so, that quality education at an affordable price is available to every child in the village.
    This would uplift farmers children through educational empowerment. It will enable them to make a transition to non-agricultural professions in future and enhance their family earnings considerably.

The aforementioned steps would cost the government far less than what it is losing in the absurd loan waiver schemes, which anyways don’t help the poor marginal farmer at all.
As regard dealing with the fake farmers of India.

The solution entails; no farm loan waivers and bringing the agricultural income above a certain threshold under the tax bracket.

The aforesaid measures would prevent the fake farmers façade spreading rapidly all over the country, while resolving the agrarian crisis of India by assisting needy farmers of the country.

The author is a Master Degree holder in International Tourism & Leisure Studies from Netherlands and is based in China. 


 

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