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Rahul Gandhi meets protesting sanitation workers at Jantar Mantar

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File Photo.

rahul gandhi 121116Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday met sanitation workers who have been protesting here for not been given their wages. He assured them of getting their demands fulfilled.

“We will get your demands fulfilled,” he told the workers at Jantar Mantar.

“This isn’t a speech for safai karamcharis (sanitation workers) but for the weak, poor, and the underprivileged people of this nation,” he said.

-(IANS)

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PM Modi in Varanasi: Sanitation is worship, Cleanliness Is a Way to Serve the Poor

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The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi addresses the gathering, at Shahanshahpur, Varanasi Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh on September 23, 2017.

Varanasi, Sep 23 :  Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing a public gathering in Varanasi said that sanitation is worship for him, as it can rid the poor of various diseases.

The gathering was largely attended by people on the second day of his Varanasi visit. Modi visited, Shahanshahpur a village of his Lok Sabha constituency. Where he laid the foundation stone of a public toilet in the area.

“That is because sanitation is also a kind of worship for me. It will rid the poor of my country of various diseases and the economic burden due to those diseases that result from dirty surroundings,” he said while addressing people there.

He said while no one likes garbage, everyone in India shies away from the responsibility of keeping their surroundings clean.

“It is the responsibility of every citizen and every family to keep their surroundings clean so we are able to build clean villages, clean cities and a clean nation,” Modi said.

The Prime Minister urged people to take one resolution each, to improve the nation by 2022. The year will also mark the 75 years of independence.

“In the coming five years, we have to be committed towards that resolution. If 125 crore people take one resolution each and live up to it, then the nation would move 125 crore steps forward in the next five years,” he said.

(IANS)

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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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Mann Ki Baat: Violence Will Not Be Tolerated, Says PM Narendra Modi

The statement came in the aftermath of the verdict of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Ram Rahim Singh

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Narendra Modi
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the nation. VOA
  • Narendra Modi opposed violence at Mann Ki Baat Radio Show, “Violence will not be tolerated, and those involved in it will be severely punished.”
  • Modi also praised the Muslim organization Jamiat-Ulema-e-Hind for their recent initiative towards cleanliness drive
  • PM announced that the government is introducing a ‘Sports Talent Search’ Portal which aims at spotting sports talent and groom it

New Delhi, August 27, 2017: Prime minister Narendra Modi stated on Sunday condemning the violence that such clashes will not be tolerated and those involved in it will be severely punished. The statement came in the aftermath of the verdict of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Ram Rahim Singh.

In the radio show, Mann Ki Baat, Narendra Modi addressed the issue without calling the Dera chief name directly, “When on the one hand, a sense of festivity pervades the land, and on the other, news of violence comes in, from one part of the country, it is only natural to feel concerned. Ours is the country of Buddha and Gandhi; it is the land of Sardar Patel who gave up his all for the unity of the nation. We have been hearing and saying Ahimsa Parmo Dharmah from our childhood.”

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“In my address from the ramparts of the Red Fort, I had said that violence in the name of faith will not be tolerated, whether it is communal belief systems, whether it is subscribing to political ideologies, whether it is allegiance to a person or customs and traditions. No one has the right to take the law into one’s own hands in the name of one’s beliefs.”

“In the Constitution given to us by Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar, there is every provision for ensuring justice for each and every person. I want to assure my countrymen that people who take the law into their own hands and are on the path of violent suppression – whether it is a person or a group – neither this country nor any government will tolerate it. Each and every person will have to abide by the law; the law will fix accountability, and the guilty will unquestionably be punished.”

The show was broadcasted for thirty minutes, where Mr. Modi also talked about the prominence of festivals that add to the diversity of the nation while wishing them on a variety of festivals. He even asked people to connect festivals with cleanliness.

Modi also praised the Muslim organization Jamiat-Ulema-e-Hind for their recent initiative towards cleanliness drive. He asserted that the organization had marked an inspiring quintessence of unity by cleaning two mosques and 22 temples afflicted by floods in Gujarat.

With the forthcoming celebration of National Sports Day on August 29, which is also the birth anniversary of the Indian hockey legend- Major Dhyan Chand, Mr. Modi announced that the government is introducing a ‘Sports Talent Search’ Portal on Monday which aims at spotting sports talent and groom it.

“Any talented child who has an achievement in sports can upload his biodata or video on this portal. The Ministry of Sports will impart training to selected emerging players,” the Prime Minister said.


NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt.