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Government clarifies PM Modi signed memento, not national flag

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By NewsGram Staff-Writer

credit: www.images.indianexpress.com
credit: www.images.indianexpress.com

New York/New Delhi: After sharp criticism from the Congress over PM Narendra Modi putting his autograph on what appeared to be an Indian flag, the Union government has clarified that it was only a memento.

The controversy erupted after super chef Vikas Khanna, who had dished up the fare for the prime minister’s dinner with Fortune 500 CEOs on Thursday, approached Modi with the flag crafted by children of Smile India Foundation to be gifted to President Barack Obama. When Khanna told him that he wanted to present it to Obama, Modi autographed it.

Modi also praised Khanna, a four-time Michelin-starred chef, for the dinner held at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York.

The story broke after Khanna displayed the autographed flag to the media.

According to the rules governing the national flag, putting any inscription on the flag is considered disrespect.

Twitter was abuzz on Friday under the hashtag #ModiDisrespectsTricolor after the incident, which evoked a sharp reaction from the Congress.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said in New Delhi: “We are not petty like BJP. We respect the office of the prime minister… However high you may be, the national flag is above you, you should understand this.”

Congress leader Manish Tewari tweeted:

However, Press Information Bureau director general (media and communication) Frank Noronha clarified that the “memento signed by PM Modi did not have the Ashok Chakra on it or the ‘white’ color band on it”. He tweeted:

The BJP accused the Congress of “raking up a controversy where none exists” and making “irrelevant and unwarranted” comments against Modi.

In New York, external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup, when asked by IANS, said: “It was not a flag.”

Swarup said Khanna wanted to present the artwork to President Obama and he wanted Modi’s autograph on it as he thought it would be a nice gesture.

Swarup said that the child’s drawing was being erroneously portrayed as the national flag.

Asked if the artwork was taken back, Swarup said that it was only taken for a review.

Khanna tweeted that it was not a flag, under his handle @TheVikasKhanna.

“Dear all, It is not the National Flag. A differently abled girl from my Foundation who I treat like my daughter had attempted an artistic hand impression on a light brown piece of cloth. It didn’t have the three colors of the national flag represented. Was more like the insignia of the Make In India. Unnecessary controversy is being created deliberately,” he said.

Khanna had presented a cuisine that included sandalwood saffron sherbet, paneer ravioli, saffron sheermal and mango-ginger soup. Many of the dishes were from his coffee table book on festival cuisine in India.

(With inputs from IANS)

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The Answer to The Impending Questions On Demonetization Are Here

While it did broaden the country’s tax base, it was a nightmare for the immense, cash-dependent informal economy.

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Indian Currency. Pixabay

Nearly all of the currency removed from circulation in a surprise 2016 attempt to root out illegal hoards of cash came back into the financial system, Resever Bank of India  has announced, indicating the move did little to slow the underground economy.

Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi’s currency decree, which was designed to destroy the value of billions of dollars in untaxed cash stockpiles, caused an economic slowdown and months of financial chaos for tens of millions of people or demonetization.

Modi announced in a November 2016 TV address that all 500-rupee and 1,000-rupee notes, then worth about $7.50 and $15, would be withdrawn immediately from circulation. The banned notes could be deposited into bank accounts but the government also said it would investigate deposits over 250,000 rupees, or about $3,700. The government eventually released new currency notes worth 500 and 2,000 rupees.

 

demonetization
An activist of Congress party hold the banned 500 and 1000 rupee notes.

 

In theory, the decree meant corrupt politicians and businesspeople would suddenly find themselves sitting on billions of dollars in worthless currency, known here as “black money.”

“A few people are spreading corruption for their own benefit,” Modi said in the surprise nighttime speech announcement of the order. “There is a time when you realize that you have to bring some change in society, and this is our time.”

But even as the decree caused turmoil for those in India who have always depended on cash — the poor and middle class, and millions of small traders — the rich found ways around the currency switch. In the months after the decree, businesspeople said that even large amounts of banned currency notes could be traded on the black market, though middlemen charged heavy fees.

demonetization
Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with mayor, flickr

The reserve bank of India report said in its Wednesday report that 99.3 percent of the $217 billion in notes withdrawn from circulation had come back into the economy. Some officials had originally predicted that number could be as low as 60 percent.

Also Read: Diverse Gathering To Be Addressed This World BioFuel Day: PM Narendra Modi

“Frankly, I think demonetization was a mistake,” said Gurcharan Das, a writer and the former head of Proctor & Gamble in India. He said that while it did broaden the country’s tax base, it was a nightmare for the immense, cash-dependent informal economy.

“You can’t overnight change that in a country which is poor and illiterate. Therefore, for me it’s not only an economic failure but a moral failure as well,” Das said. (VOA)