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Five reasons why AAP Lokpal is Mahajokepal

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Delhi chief minister and AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal found himself in a fix after Swaraj Abhiyan leader Prashant Bhushan at a scathing press conference on Sunday elucidated how the Delhi Lokpal Bill 2015 had gone back on all the main promises of the Jan Lokpal movement, calling it a ‘cruel joke’ on the people.

Bhushan, flanked by AAP founding member and his father Shanti Bhushan, reminded Kejriwal and his supporters that one of the reasons of formation of the Aam Aadmi Party was to realize the long-standing dream of an independent Lokpal, which would curb corruption and weed out corrupt elements out of the system.

Yogendra Yadav, the expelled AAP founding member, in a Facebook post, mentioned the demands made by the Lokpal movement.

  • The appointment of the Lokpal was to be done in an open manner by involving the public in the search process.
  • The final selection of the Lokpal was to be done by a committee where independent, non-political and non-governmental appointees had a majority.
  • A special investigative agency was to be created by or controlled by the Lokpal.
  • The jurisdiction of the Lokpal was to be extended to all the functionaries of the relevant government.

When the fledgling party secured a historic victory in the Delhi Assembly polls last year, it was expected that the dream of having a strong, independent Lokpal would come true. However, Bhushan said, “Under pressure due to unjustified delay, the Delhi government has tabled a Jan Lokpal Bill, a cheating to the people and the Lokpal movement.”

Here are the five reasons why it’s ‘Mahajokepal’:

  1. Appointment of Lokpal

Bhushan, who reportedly has a copy of the Delhi Lokpal Bill 2015, in a statement said that the selection committee for the Lokpal would consist of High Court Chief Justice, the Chief Minister, Assembly Speaker and Leader of Opposition.

He alleged that this clause made it clear that the AAP government wanted the appointment of Lokpal to be controlled by the political class and would not let any appointment be made without the approval of ruling party.

Jan Lokpal movement’s promise

The Janlokpal bill had, on the other hand, envisioned that the appointments be made independent of the will of the political class.

“But the provision in the present bill cheats the spirit of an independent Janlokpal. Out of the four members in selection committee, three would be from the political class. This is completely contrary to what Arvind Kejriwal has had always said about the independence of the ombudsman,” Bhushan said.

  1. Removal of Chairperson or members of the Jan Lokpal

In the Jan Lokpal bill introduced by Delhi government, as per the provisions mentioned in section 6(1) of the proposed bill, the Lokpal can be removed by a motion passed by the Delhi assembly by a 2/3rd majority of the members present and voting in the assembly.

“Needless to say, if the act sees the light of the day, the Lokpal will be completely at the mercy of AAP government,” Bhushan alleged.

Jan Lokpal movement’s promise

The Jan Lokpal movement had always argued that the anti-corruption and investigating agencies end up becoming instruments in the hands of ruling governments. So there was a pressing need for an effective Lokpal that would be delinked from any interference of ruling governments and political control.

“It is sad to see the AAP bringing a bill which would ultimately leave the Lokpal at the mercy of Delhi government, making it a joke,” Bhushan said.

  1. Investing machinery not independent

Bhushan alleged that no investigative machinery has been given to or placed under Delhi Lokpal as per section 10 in the proposed bill. Without its own independent officers, solely recruited for and dedicated to the institution, the Lokpal would merely be like the various other commissions and tribunals.

“This effectively means that the Lokpal will have to carry its investigations through officers and machinery provided by governments. Needless to say the investigating officers would obviously be under the control of those governments which provide it.”

Jan Lokpal movement’s promise

The Janlokpal movement, Bhushan said, had always stressed that investigating officers should be free of the influence or control of any government. It was argued that no less than an independent investigative machinery vested with the institution of Lokpal would be effective in curbing corruption.

  1. Jurisdiction of the Lokpal

The former AAP leader claimed that as per the present bill, the jurisdiction of the Lokpal would be to investigate any corruption offense in Delhi, be it various agencies and functions under the central government. It means that the state Lokpal can investigate the central government as well. This, he said, has been deliberately done to invite confrontation with the Centre

Jan Lokpal movement’s promise

“This is totally contrary to what was envisaged in our Jan Lokpal bill where the state Lokayukta were supposed to investigate the corruption of officers of state governments only and the Central Lokpal would investigate the officers from central government, “ Bhushan said.

He alleged that this provision has been introduced with malafide intentions to ensure that the central government does not approve and the bill never gets passed. The AAP will then claim that it tried to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill, but the central government obstructed it.

  1. Penalty on false complaints

Bhushan claimed the Delhi Jan Lokpal Bill 2015 prescribes 1-year jail for false complaints, the falsity of which will be decided by this ‘Sarkari Lokpal’.

Jan Lokpal movement’s promise

“This is also what we had fought against since it will deter complainants. It is not there in the Uttarakhand bill which Kejriwal said this is modeled on,” Bhushan said.

The Swaraj Abhiyan leader slammed the AAP government for not making the draft public to enable public consultation and comments.

“The plan was to pass this Maha joke pal bill with a dramatic flourish and then play victim by claiming that the Central govt is obstructing it,” Bhushan said, adding, The Delhi Jan Lokpal Bill, 2015 is not what the anti-corruption Lokpal movement had fought so deeply for. It is merely an eyewash and not the bill which made thousands and thousands volunteer for a crusade against corruption.”

Bhushan reminded Kejriwal that in fact, the present bill was worse than the central government’s Jan Lokpal Bill, against which the present Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal had spoken so vehemently.

“Leave alone ministers, not even a rat will go to jail on the basis of this Bill. No proper investigation will be possible under it,” Kejriwal had said in December 2013 regarding a proposed legislation by the central government while terming it a “Jokepal Bill”.

He posed following three questions to Kejriwal in this regard:

  1. We would like to know what compelled the Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal to now bring the Jokepal bill, which he had once fought against?
  2. Does he now believe that a corrupt rat will go to jail on the basis of this new bill?
  3. How would he guarantee that the proposed Lokpal will not end up becoming his political instrument against opponents/for corruption, as is the case with institutions like CBI or CVC?

It is hoped the ‘anti-corruption crusader’ Kejriwal would care to answer these pertinent questions, instead of terming anyone pointing out flaws in the Bill as ‘BJP supporters’. The Aam Aadmi Party that claims to represent the interest of the common man should clear the air as to what compelled it to introduce such a toothless and weak Lokpal as alleged by its founding members.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Compromised Janlokpal Bill formality accomplished by the strongest state government in India.Why there is a Parivartan /Change behind Original Jan Lokpal Arvind Sir Ji ? Stop fooling people that search cum selection committee will follow.During the launch of a new vehicle does the producer promises selection of parts and its quality search search will be announced later.When you claim there is not even a comma or full stop change in the original Janlokpal version then why you kept it parked for almost a year.

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Is Delhi’s air going to take the structure of ‘London’s Smog’?

Breathing in Delhi is equal to smoking 40 cigarets.

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Smog in Delhi
In recent time, there is a huge increase in the smog in around Delhi. Wikimedia commons

New Delhi, Nov 15 On a cold December morning some 65 years ago, a seemingly dense fog engulfed the City of London. People went about their business as usual as it was a common occurrence at that time. It didn’t take long, however, for Londoners to realise that this was no regular fog but a toxic combination of smoke and fog — smog.

That Great Smog of 1952 — often called “The Big Smoke” — killed an estimated 12,000 people and had long-term ill-effects on the health of the city’s residents.

Last week, AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria compared the alarming pollution scenario in Delhi with London’s 1952 crisis. Environment experts agree that if serious steps are not taken, Delhi may soon face a similar kind of “air pollution disaster” which London did 65 years ago.

The Big Smoke did not happen in London all of a sudden. There were signs — alarming signs — as even before the 1952 crisis, the British capital experienced smog events several times in the past which they called “pea soupers”. Those were similar to what Delhi may be experiencing today.

Just as in Delhi today, the smog engulfed London, reducing visibility and causing discomfort to children and the elderly and to those suffering from respiratory diseases. The number of patients reporting to hospitals with respiratory ailments used to increase at that time of the year.

But it took the air pollution disaster of 1952 for the British government to acknowledge the magnitude of the crisis and take a slew of measures to undo the damage — including passage of the Clean Air Act 1956 and shift from coal-based fuel to alternative fuels.

While some experts wonder if Delhi is also waiting for a disaster like The Big Smoke to take stringent measures to improve the city’s air quality, others feel the disaster is already upon us and would have long-term health impacts on Delhi’s residents.

Eminent environment expert C.R. Babu said what we face in Delhi today is much more serious than the London smog.

“In London, smog killed because people faced breathing problems. But the toxins in Delhi’s air could lead to long-term problems and chronic health disorders, and not just short-term health issues,” Babu told IANS.

“Vehicular exhausts have large amounts of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons which are toxic in nature and are also carcinogenic,” he added.

Babu warned that the situation would become much worse if the government didn’t act fast. “Just like the London incident was called an ‘air pollution disaster’, what we have today is a similar disaster in Delhi. But in Delhi’s case, people will suffer for longer periods.”

“It is time for the government to think deeply about long-term planning for preventing such air pollution disasters,” he added.

According to AIIMS Director Guleria, the alarming pollution level in the city has already led to an at least 20 per cent increase in the number of persons complaining of cardiac and respiratory problems.

He also warned that about 30,000 persons may lose their lives in the National Capital Region alone due to the current pollution levels, numbers which, he said, he had extrapolated from the number of hospital admissions.

Vivek Chattopadhyay, Programme Manager at the Centre for Science and Enviromment, said it could be a watershed moment for Delhi and should not be taken lightly.

“Ultimately, we are dealing with a health crisis, not just visibility problems,” Chattopadhyay told IANS. “There are huge health costs and, as per estimates, air pollution is costing India around three per cent of the GDP in terms of health costs.”

Chattopadhyay said that the recurring smog incidents of Delhi are major warning signals and just as was the case of London before the big disaster, the powers that be in Delhi may also be unaware of the magnitude of the problem.

“The problem is that our health system won’t be able to tell how many are affected. We need a comprehensive data recording system. Hard statistics are needed about the number of cases of respiratory problems, cardiac arrests and strokes that are reported in the hospitals,” he said.

As for precautionary measures, he said there was a need to introduce clean fuel for everything and a parity of laws across NCR and not just in Delhi.

“Delhi in isolation cannot remain clean. It is high time that the government woke up and an inter-state meeting was held to collectively solve the problem. It has become a recurring thing and there is a need to change the way we work. The time for action is now,” he said.

R. Suresh, Fellow and Area Convenor at TERI (The Energy and Resource Institute), pointed out that Delhi’s response to the crisis has so far been reactive, not pre-emptive, which needed to change.

“While weather is not in our control, what we can control are ground-level emissions. What we have witnessed so far is that we face a crisis every year and then the government reacts. We need a long-term solution,” Suresh told IANS.

“We know that November-December is the peak time for air pollution. So our precautionary measures should happen before November. Why wait for Diwali to ban crackers? For next year, measures should be taken now.”

While Suresh said that the main problem was stubble burning in the neighbouring states as well as construction and road dust, Babu maintained that the exhaust from automobiles are more dangerous.

“You have to regulate automobiles — stringent measures are needed. For example, Singapore has decided to stop registration of all new vehicles. Why can’t we do that in Delhi? Almost every household has a vehicle today. More than the need, it has just become a symbol of social status,” he said. (IANS)

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Manoj Bajpayee is an amazing actor and a team player on set: Sidharth Malhotra

Sidharth Malhotra on Thursday treated his fans to a question and answer session over Twitter.

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Actor Sidharth Malhotra
Actor Sidharth Malhotra. Wikimedia Commons

November 7, 2017: Actor Sidharth Malhotra, who will be seen sharing screen space with Manoj Bajpayee in “Aiyaary”, says the National Award winning actor is amazing and a team player.

Sidharth Malhotra on Thursday treated his fans to a question and answer session over Twitter.

A user asked the “Student Of The Year” actor about his experience working with Manoj in “Aiyaary”.

Sidharth replied: “He’s an amazing actor and a team player on set.”

“Aiyaary”, set in Delhi, London and Kashmir, revolves around two strong-minded Army officers having completely different views, yet right in their own ways. It is a real-life story based on the relationship between a mentor and a protege.

Presented by Plan C and Jayantilal Gada (Pen), the project is produced by Shital Bhatia, Dhaval Jayantilal Gada, Motion Picture Capital.

When asked about the development of the film, Sidharth replied: “Awesome. Excited to show it in a few months.”

Sidharth, 32, also described his “Brothers” co-star Akshay Kumar as his “brother from another mother.”(IANS)

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The major Challenge is to make the Youth of the Country Entrepreneurial and not Job Seekers : Venkaiah Naidu

"The challenge for us is to make the youth entrepreneurial, and not become job seekers," Venkaiah Naidu said pointing to the NDA government's various initiatives.

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Venkaiah Naidu
Venkaiah Naidu. Wikimedia Commons
  • At a time of tepid job growth and continuing income disparities, the major challenge is to make the youth of the country entrepreneurial and not job seekers, Vice President  Venkaiah Naidu said on Thursday.

“Disparities continue to remain in India and so there is a need for inclusive growth… there is the need to take care of the suppressed, oppressed and depressed,” Venkaiah Naidu said at the Bharatiya Yuva Shakti Trust’s (BYST) silver jubilee celebrations here with Britain’s Prince Charles as the chief guest.

“The challenge for us is to make the youth entrepreneurial, and not become job seekers,” Venkaiah Naidu said pointing to the NDA government’s various initiatives to encourage youth enterprises like Startup India, Standup India and the Mudra financing scheme for underprivileged sections.

Modelled on Prince Charles’ Trust for business startups, BYST, founded by Lakshmi Venkatesan, daughter of former President R. Venkatraman, is engaged in building rural entrepreneurship — “grampreneurs” — as also enterprise among under-privileged sections, which includes business mentoring. The current BYST chairman is Bajaj Group chief, Rahul Bajaj.

“Without mentoring, it would be very difficult to set up startups, with all the business, marketing and other vital issues involved in the first two-three years,” Prince Charles said in his address at the International Mentoring Summit organized by BYST to mark its 25 years.

“What amazes me are the sheer number of jobs these young entrepreneurs had created. The aim of such a project should be to create a virtual cycle of creating entrepreneurs who can then invest in the future of business,” Charles said referring to his trust.

BYST was officially launched in 1992 by Prince Charles and expanded its operations to six major regions of India.

Out of these six regions, four — Delhi, Chennai, Pune and Hyderabad — run the urban programme while two regions — Haryana and Maharashtra — run the rural programme.(IANS)