Saturday, March 2, 2013

Union Budgets of total outlays is Rs 1665297 Cr of which non plan budget is order Rs 1109975 Cr and plan budget scores to Rs 555322Cr and the fiscal deficit amounts to the order of plan is rs 542499 Cr. Thus Planning Commission rightly  said it would have been little irresponsible for it to pester government for allocating more funds for Plan expenditure when fiscal deficit is burgeoning.

"I think it will be little irresponsible for the Planning Commission to start pestering on a Plan in a period when the fiscal deficit has to be brought under control," Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia told reporters in a post-Budget interaction in New Delhi on Friday.
He further said that if the government was allowed to run with a high fiscal deficit, it would have been a crisis.
"... and frankly if we allowed that (high fiscal deficit) to go, you would not survive without a crisis. We will be in a crisis," Ahluwalia said.
Government's fiscal deficit in 2012-13 has been contained at 5.2 percent of the GDP (gross domestic product) from estimate of 5.3 percent. For 2013-14, government targets to maintain fiscal deficit at about 4.8 percent of the GDP.
The government has raised Plan expenditure for 2013-14 by 6.58 percent to Rs 5.55 lakh crore from the Budget estimates of Rs 5.21 lakh crore in the current fiscal.
However, the jump in the Plan expenditure for 2013-14 is 29.4 percent when compared with the revised estimates of the same for current fiscal at Rs 4.29 lakh crore.
"In the budget for 2012-13, the estimate of Plan expenditure was too ambitious and the estimate of Non-Plan expenditure was too conservative. Faced with huge fiscal deficit, I had no choice but to rationalise expenditure. We took a dose of bitter medicine. It seems to be working," Chidambaram said in his Budgetary speech on Thursday.
The Planning Commission had asked for a raise of about 15 percent in the Plan expenditure for 2013-14 over budget estimate for the current fiscal.
Hopeful of better GDP growth in 2013-14 fiscal, says Montek
Expressing disappointment at poor third quarter GDP growth, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia has said he is hopeful of a better show next financial year as the Budget has been made on an estimate of 6.5 percent growth.
"The GDP figure of 4.5 per cent for the third quarter of the current fiscal is of course disappointing. I hope the figures will be better than this because these are preliminary estimates...but the government has agreed that this year our growth performance has been somewhat weak," Ahluwalia told reporters in New Delhi on Friday.
In October-December quarter, growth slipped to the decade's lowest owing to weak performance of agriculture, mining and manufacturing sector.
"Now the real issue is if we can improve the growth in the year 2013-14. And we hope that we will be able to improve it. The budget has been made on an estimate of 6.5 per cent growth in the next fiscal," Ahluwalia said.
Referring to Finance Minister P Chidambaram, he said: "Many things are in process and until those things are final, he cannot announce those things in the Budget. But we hope whatever are the things in process, decision will be taken in the next 3-5 months and we will be able to know what can be done.
"The Finance Minister himself said he is doing something for financial inclusion and there are many other things as well."
In reply to a question about benefits of Direct Benefit Transfer scheme, Ahluwalia said it will be good for the intended beneficiaries.
"I think DBT scheme will work for the benefit of the intended beneficiaries. It will remove the middlemen and money will be transferred directly to the beneficiary account. And the second thing is that if these transfers are done on the basis of Aadhaar numbers, duplication will be avoided and this will be a very important thing," Ahluwalia added.

Diesel price for bulk consumers like Railways has been hiked by almost a rupee per litre, while the price of cooking gas (LPG) is cut by Rs 37.50 a cylinder that consumers buy beyond their quota of subsidised bottles.

 Neither the retail prices of diesel sold through petrol pumps nor rates for subsidised LPG cylinders has been changed.  The government had in January allowed state-owned oil firms to sell diesel to all consumers taking supplies from their installations at market price.  Pursuant to the decision, oil companies sold diesel to bulk consumers like Defence, Railways and State Road Transport Corporations at a rate of Rs 58.58 per litre as compared to Rs 48.16 per litre price of the fuel at petrol pumps in Delhi.  Industry sources said the oil firms yesterday hiked the price of diesel for the bulk consumers by 94 paisa, excluding local sales tax or VAT.  The actual increase for consumers will be up to Rs 1.25 per litre.  The hike in bulk diesel price was necessitated by the firming up of international oil rates.  This has led to loss on diesel sold through petrol pumps rising to Rs 11.26 per litre from Rs 10.72 last month.  Also, oil companies cut the price of cooking gas (LPG) that consumers will have to buy beyond their quota of 9 subsidised cylinders in a year.  The non-subsidised LPG will cost Rs 904.50 per 14.2-kg cylinder as against Rs 942 a bottle previously.  Just yesterday, the oil companies had raised petrol price by Rs 1.40 a litre, excluding VAT on firming global oil rates.  The hike in Delhi translated into Rs 1.68 and petrol now costs Rs 70.74 a litre in the national capital.  Together with Rs 1.50 per litre hike in rates effected from February 16, petrol price have been raised by about Rs 3 per litre in two weeks.  Sources said oil firms continue to incur a loss of Rs 439 on sale of every 14.2-kg cylinder at subsidised rate of Rs 410.50 in Delhi.  On kerosene, they lose Rs 33.43 per litre and will end the fiscal with a loss of Rs 163,500 crore on fuel sales. 

Comprehensive Agrarian Reforms Needed

  • Bring a Separate Budget for Agriculture
  • Comprehensive Agrarian Reforms Needed not Cosmetic Allocations
  • Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements and National Alliance of People’s Movements to Protest Land Grab and Neglect of Agriculture from March 18th at Jantar Mantar
New Delhi : Finance Minister, in his budget speech talked about spreading the gains of the Green Revolution to Eastern States but also acknowledged the stagnation and loss in fertility and other ills in Punjab and other states and accordingly made allocation for crop diversification. But why is the same scheme not spread out to other states, why would one wait for the same problems to manifest and then start the same prescriptions. The state of Indian agriculture and Indian farmers are critical today. It is not only due to farmers suicide (16,000 to 17,000 year) but those alive are also not better off. The changes proposed by the Finance Minister are cosmetic and will have no impact on the state of agriculture.
The focus on urbanisation, industrialisation and infrastructure will not be able to absorb the large work force which is currently engaged in agrarian sector. They will be worse off, than what they are today. With a huge population base, the push for contract and commercial farming, the food security and employment will be jeopardised.
There has been an increase from 17692 crores to 27049 crores proposed but no change in the Minimum Support price…Whatever was increased last year… so procurement of 1,18,000 crores for the Food Security Act will not indicate any benefit through increased prices, to the farmers. A big amount of agriculture budget and overall focus is on credit – opening of credit network for crop loan, to scheduled private commercial banks beyond public banks and cooperative credit societies and banks. This can open up scope for fraudulent bidding and it need not be true redressal of the problem of indebtedness leading to suicides.
Its good that atleast now it’s recognised that nutritional crops – millets like bajra, maize with wheat need to be brought back. But only pittance 200 crores for pilot projects. Agriculture biotech management institutions in Chhatisgarh, jharkhand, Karnataka is welcome step but at the same push for BRAI and introduction of bt seeds is leading to complete loss of farmers control over the input. These will continue to make them more dependent on the market.
There is severe drought in the state of Mahrashtra and other states due to poor Monsoon, which needed attention but has been neglected. Budget offers no concrete time bound plans to deal with such situations. Farmers groups have already rejected the budget and feel that this year too the effort has continued to be the same and nothing concrete has been done, since the attempt is only on increasing foreign investment.
Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA has termed the budget in denial mode about the farmer’s crisis. They added that the Economic Survey focuses mostly on the production numbers and not the net returns to the farmers – and even on the production front the target growth rate of 4% was not met. The MSPs are mentioned but not the fact that in many states they are below the Cost of Production. The Price Support Scheme and Market Intervention Scheme are given lip service, but they were used minimally in just 5 states, that too in just 1 or 2 crops in each state. It is necessary to have a Price Guarantee policy and a Farmers’ Income Commission to make the incomes of farming families as the central concern of the agricultural policy. The Budget should have announced at least Rs.2000 crores for Price Stabilization or Market Intervention fund – that would have incentivized the farmers to meet production targets as well as helped them make a decent living. The farmers’ crisis is strongest in the rain-fed areas which are more than 50% of the cultivated area but receives less than 10% of the benefit of subsidies and support systems. A massive program of focused attention is needed for rainfed areas in a new paradigmatic approach, but it doesn’t find any mention,”
We strongly feel that there is a need for separate Agriculture Budget to be presented on lines of Railway Budget, every year, which looks at issues comprehensively and makes a sincere effort at addressing the crisis.
The scourge of land acquisition continues to haunt the farmers and the new bill, Right to Fair Compensation, Transparency in Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Bill, will not provide any relief to them. The Bill neglects the Parliamentary Standing Committee recommendation that no agricultural land should be acquired.
In light of these impending crisis and government’s neglect of agriculture “Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements and National Alliance of People’s Movements alogn with other groups will hold Kisan Khet Mazdoor Mahapanchayat at Jantar Mantar from March 18th onwards.
  • Land rights – no to acquisition for private purpose and a moratorium on land acquisitions until government comes up with a white paper on all the land acquired, utilized and not utilized, status of resettlement and rehabilitation for the project affected people.
  • Farmers income – which includes Farmers Income Guarantee Act /Farmers Income Commission, fair remunerative prices of crops and minimum assured income
  • Sustainable technologies –NO TO GMO’s yes to Agroecology (agricultural science that valorizes farmers local innovations, natures own processes and traditional knowledge), Stop BRAI bill!
  • We oppose all the new legal frameworks that are against food and farmers sovereignty- No to free trade, No FDI In retail, No commodity and futures trading in agriculture, create universal PDS and support local farmers
  • Stop farmer suicides – acknowledge them and provide fair relief and rehabilitation to victims, recognize women farmer’s suicides and conduct special parliament sessions on farmers suicides.
Yudhvir Singh (BKU)
Rakesh Tikait (BKU)
K Puttanaiah
Chamarasa Patil
Nandini Jairam (KRRS)
Chukki Nanjundaswamy (KRRS)
S Kannaiyan (SICCFM)
MedhaPatkar, Narmada Bachao Andolan;
Dr. Sunilam, Kisan Sangharsh Samiti (MP)
Suniti S R, Ulka Mahajan,
Vijay Diwan, NAPM Maharashtra;
Madhuresh Kumar (NAPM)
Prafulla Samantara, NAPM Orissa;
J. P. Singh, Rupesh Verma, Kisan Sangharsh Samiti UP;
Bhupender Singh Rawat, Bhumi Bachao Andolan
Sudhir Vombatkere, NAPM Mysore

Sahachari Foundation: Design One 2013, A Two-Day Couture Extravaganza

Sahachari Foundation Presents Design One 2013, A Two-Day Couture Extravaganza

by sagarmedia on March 2, 2013
New Delhi, February 27, 2013: Sahachari Foundation launched the third edition of Design One at The Lodhi (formerly The Aman) in New Delhi on February 27, 2013. Bollywood actress Sridevi inaugurated the exhibition at The Lodhi.
Design One 2013 brings together established and upcoming designers with a unique offering of distinct, carefully selected fashion and accessories.Ԩe exhibitionⳠobjective is to raise awareness and funds for deserving NGO’s while promoting talent from across the country.
Design One was held on February 27, 2013 from 1 pm to 7 pm and on February 28, 2013 from 10:30 am to 7 pm on the splendid grounds of The Lodhi, on Lodhi Road.
Design One 2013 featured Masaba, Abha Dalmia, Falguni Mehta, Kothari Jewellers, Atsu, Anjali Kalia, EKA by Rina Singh, Nimaaya by Neeru & Madhu, Ranji Kelekar, Nidhi Tholia, MYRA by Anju Narain, Amrich, CVH Studio, Aarti Charitable Trust, Shine, Bodhi Tree, Mrinalini, Loulou Des Indes, Nikasha and Crimzon by Sonali Dalwani, among others.
The exhibition showcased fabulous selections, focusing on everyday-wear, casual yet chic ensembles, exquisite jewellery and accessories. For shoppers in search of an inimitable fashion experience, Design One was the place to be. The exhibition brought together a very diverse group of designers and NGOs such as Aarti Charitable Trust, CEQUIN, and Shine who were given complimentary spaces at the exhibition.
Speaking on the occasion, Bollywood actress Sridevi, said, ㄥsign One is an exciting event to be associated with. The causes that Sahachari Foundation works for and the charities it supports are important to social development. I think it is a wonderful idea to bring about awareness and give back to society through events such as these designer exhibitions, where the scope of raising funds is immense. I admire the dedication and solidarity with which the wonderful ladies of Sahachari have worked.伯span>
Proceeds from the exhibition will be donated to select NGOs at the end of the year.
Earlier in the month, All Cargo Ltd donated a car on behalf of Sahachari Foundation to Sakha Cabs for Women. Designers Shivan and Narresh donated a specially designed Mastectomy Blouse for All for breast cancer victims to the Women’s Cancer Initiative – Tata Memorial Hospital, represented by Ms Sunita Kohli. The car and the mastectomy blouse were handed over by Srimant Yashodhara Raje Scindia.
༯span>Amruda Nair, Spokesperson Sahachari Foundation said, 㗥 chose Sakha Consulting Wings because of their work with women and their endeavor to ensure safe transport for women.伯i>
The Design One Preview saw a very exclusive guest list including Sujata Assomull Sippy, Feroze Gujral, Masaba Gupta, Neena Gupta, Atsu Sekhose, Amit and Richard, Priya Paul, Kavita Bhartiya and Sunita Kapoor.
About Sahachari Foundation:
The Sahachari Foundation, a registered Trust dedicated to the betterment of the lesser privileged, is a group of ladies who use their prominent social profiles to help deserving charitable institutions particularly in the areas of education, health care, social welfare and promotion of the Arts. The group comprises of Lakshmi Nair, Mala Goenka, Gauri Pohoomul, Sheela Bhogilal, Brinda Khatau, Pallavi Kanoria, Minakshi Bajaj, Madhu Ruia, Nilima Kilachand, Daksha Mehta and Parul Choksey. The mission is upliftment, altruism, societal responsibility, and, above all, empowerment.

Myanmar: UN aid reaches people in conflict-affected Kachin area

Saturday, March 2, 2013


A UNHCR-supported camp for internally displaced people near Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin state. Photo: UNHCR/A. Kirchhof

1 March 2013 – United Nations and international agencies for the first time in more than a year delivered badly-needed aid to hundreds of people in northern Myanmar’s Kachin state following a cease-fire and a de-escalation of violence, while warning of poor living conditions in communal shelters.
“A 10-vehicle convoy brought relief items for 400 displaced families, equivalent to some 2,000 individuals,” a spokesperson for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Adrian Edwards, told journalists today in Geneva.
The team, including UNCHR, World Food Programme (WFP), UN Children’s Agency (UNICEF) and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA), travelled between 17 and 21 February to Hpakant area, west of the Kachin state capital.
The inter-agency visit was the first to the area since January 2012 in which UN staff were able to reach internally displaced people.
Mr. Edwards said the visit was made possible after access was granted by the Myanmar Government.
The team distributed tarpaulins for shelter, blankets, mosquito nets, cooking sets, clothes and sanitary items.
It also assessed living conditions in 17 camps in Hpakant housing more than 6,000 internally displaced persons.
Aid workers said the communal shelters were overcrowded and lacked privacy, leading to tensions and potential security issues. They also noted a need for improved water and sanitation facilities, as well as more health-care services and improvements to camp infrastructure.
Some 75,000 people have fled their homes in Kachin since fighting began in June 2011 between Government troops and the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO). The fighting intensified in September and December last year, before authorities in Myanmar announced a unilateral ceasefire in January.
The UN had said it remained committed to helping and supporting the people of Myanmar, including through its good offices and through humanitarian aid and development.
Over the coming weeks UNHCR plans to return to Hpakant to distribute supplies for another 1,000 displaced families that have yet to receive any assistance, Mr. Edwards said.

Dr.K.Chiranjeevi proposal to extend Visa-on-arrivals to 16 countries

Union Tourism Minister Dr.K.Chiranjeevi has met Union Home Minister Sri Sushil Kumar Shinde today and submitted a proposal to extend Visa-on-arrivals to 16 countries.
          The Ministry of Tourism strongly felt that the “Tourist Visa – on – Arrival (TVOA)” facility for those countries, which are potential source markets to India and where there have been no security related issues in the past or likely to be in future can be taken up under this scheme. Accordingly, the Ministry of Home Affairs accepted the proposal of the Ministry of Tourism and introduced “Tourist Visa – on – Arrival (TVOA)”   scheme for the tourists from five countries viz. Singapore, New Zealand, Luxembourg, Japan & Finland on a pilot basis for a period of one year w.e.f. 01st January 2010.
                 The TVOA scheme was extended by the Ministry of Home Affairs on an experimental basis for one year for the nationals of six more countries viz. Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Philippines, Indonesia and Myanmar arriving at the airports of New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata, with effect from 01st January 2011. Thus, the Tourist Visa – on – Arrival with a maximum validity of 30 days with single entry facility is being granted by Immigration Officers at Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata airports to the citizens of eleven countries viz. Singapore, New Zealand, Luxembourg, Japan, Finland, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Philippines, Indonesia and Myanmar.

An independent study conducted by the Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management (IITTM) has noted that TVOA scheme has a significant and positive impact on the decision to travel to India. This scheme needs to be expanded to cover more countries and more ports of entry. The Ministry of Tourism had proposed extension of TVOA to the following markets:
(i)                Germany, France, Spain, Poland, Sweden and Norway to cover the European and Scandinavian countries which are key inbound markets.
(ii)             Russia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan to cover the emerging markets from the CIS countries.
(iii)           Brazil and South Africa to cover foster IBSA Cooperation and Trinidad & Tobago to foster our historical links.
(iv)           Thailand, Malaysia and Brunei to cover all the ASEAN countries which will be consistent with our look east policy.
The Ministry of Tourism had also proposed extension of TVOA to more airports namely Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kochi, Goa, Bodhgaya and Trivandrum.

        Visa on Arrival is an attraction for potential tourists in key markets and at times also helps in tapping the people who make decisions at the last moment. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is considering this issue of extending TVOA to the 16 countries proposed by MOT earlier.
            Keeping in view the recent travel trends, the Ministry of Tourism now also proposes TVOA scheme for South Korea, which is a very important tourist generating market.
Vijitha Bandara clinches 8th NCR Cup trophy
1st March, New Delhi: Gannon Dunkerley 8th NCR Cup has seen a Sri Lankan winner second time in a row as Vijitha Bandara ran away with the trophy on the final day at the Delhi Golf Club. N Thangaraja who has turned professional now, won the trophy last year. Bandara shot four-over 76 for the total of 293 in windy conditions to lift the trophy.

India’s Prince Kajotia who has joined Indian Navy recently, returned with the career best finish after shooting three-over 295 as a runner up. India born Thai Samarth Dwivedi ended the day with 3rd position as he scored 300 while coming from behind another Indian Lakhan Singh WAS tied for fourth place along with Amit Kumar at 303.

Bandara started the day with a birdie on 1st and was one-over after front nine. After taking a lot of pressure on himself, 24-year-old Bandara dropped two shots and made a double bogey on 10th. Number one on Sri Lanka amateur circuit, Bandara got confused in choosing the clubs on 11th hole as the wind speed high and he used 3-wood for the tee shot where in he normally uses his 52 wedge. His best shot of the tournament came on the finishing hole where he rescued the ball from a difficult condition as he landed his tee shot in right bushes but managed a par with advice from his caddy.

A delighted Bandara said, “I am so excited to show the trophy to the defending champion N. Thangaraja in my country. The pressure, which was built on me throughout the day, helped me in choosing the right clubs at the right place. Though, I am not very happy to tell my today’s scores but I can take this kind of victory any day.”

Another highlight of the day was a hole-in-one on 7th hole by Devendra Singh who finished 22nd. Lakhan Singh took the longest drive challenge prize on 6th hole, which was also a hat-rick in NCR Cup by him. Sunny Nagar won the straightest drive on 10th hole.


President Obama’s solution for resolving the sequester

The White House Friday, March 1, 2013
Starting today, our government will need to grapple with a set of arbitrary budget cuts that will hurt the economy, make life harder for middle-class families, and threaten our national security. That’s what Washington means when it talks about the sequester.
Not everyone will feel the consequences of these cuts immediately, but if sequestration is allowed to continue, it will make life more difficult for Americans all across the country. That’s a fact that no one disputes.
And the reason we are here is because some members of Congress have made a choice to prioritize these cuts over closing tax loopholes for the wealthy. But there is still time for them to make a different choice and undo this manufactured crisis.
Today, President Obama discussed this situation and answered questions from the press. “This is not a win for anybody,” he said. “This is a loss for the American people.”
Help us make sure your friends and neighbors know what’s at stake. Share this video of President Obama on Facebook or Twitter — or even just forward this email to your friends.
Watch President Obama's statement from the Briefing Room
PS — We put a page together that outlines President Obama’s solution for resolving the sequester, explains what these cuts will mean for communities across the country, and asks you to share your story. Check it out:
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