Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Budget 2015-16 agenda

India to help neighbours, developing world


The world is eagerly watching the unfoldment of the assurances of the Modi government to its neighbourhood and to the developing world. And also the new emphasis in the country’s foreign policy of maintaining friendly relations with countries for attracting investments and boosting trade so as to make India a new centre of the growth engine for the world. India is slated to emerge as a security provider in the region.

Prime Minister Modi on assuming office has said that his foremost priority is South Asia and then the extended neighbourhood. The leaders of South Asia were present at his swearing in ceremony as a gesture of goodwill. In fact this was the first occasion for any Indian prime minister where any world leader was present at the oath taking ceremony.

In the extended neighbourhood, Modi diplomacy begun its first debut with the changing of the ‘Look East Policy’ to ‘Act East Policy’ and roping in the remote Pacific Islands Forum to the level of summit-level talks with India. In the ASEAN bloc, the less developed countries like Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam (CMLV) has been selected on priority for deepening development cooperation.

The Union Budget presented by the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley last week amply focused on making India an attractive destination for investment and to make the ‘Make in India’ programme a success. However, the Budgetary proposals has also gone beyond to make the CMLV countries as “manufacturing hubs.” With a view to catalyze investments from Indian private sector, a project development company through separate special vehicles (SPVs) will set up manufacturing hubs in in CMLV countries. Thus this would new approach that can by conveniently called ‘Make by India’ in contrast to ‘Make in India’.

India has also promised to extend the visa-on-arrival facility to the citizens of as many as 150 countries.

However, development cooperation with CMLV countries is not new. India has been helping these countries in its various development programmes. But this an attempt to be a partner in their industrialization process in a defined and dedicated manner.

Vietnam is a friendly country having strategic relationship with India. It has allotted oil exploration blocks to an Indian public sector company in the South China Sea, much to the displeasure of the Chinese. Cambodia and Laos, though India’s friendly countries, had taken a different view over China’s claim over South China Sea at ASEAN meeting. India has rightly embarked on its development cooperation with these two countries at this juncture.

Myanmar is India’s immediate neighbour and is the gateway to South-East Asia. Plans are afoot for ensuring land, rail and maritime connectivity through this country to other regions of ASEAN. 
This is the right time to deepen relationship with Myanmar when democracy is taking roots in that country. The setting up of manufacturing hubs in Myanmar will greatly help the remote north-eastern states of India when full-fledged connectivity is established with that country and more trading points are opened at the border. India has assured Rs 270 crore as aid to Myanmar in the current fiscal year.

Earlier the President Pranab Mukherjee in his opening address to the joint session of the Parliament expressed government's intention for seeking greater integration in South Asia and developing relations with South East Asia and lauded recent attempts to deepen relationships with Russia, China, US, Japan, Australia and Pacific Island with the implicit intention of boosting trade, investment and security. The President’s address particularly mentioned about deepening ties with Europe, West Asia, Central Asia, Africa and South Americas.

Among, India’s immediate neighbour, Bhutan would be the largest recipient of aid. This was the first country in South Asia where Prime Minister Modi chose to visit after assuming office. India had, under the erstwhile UPA regime, promised Rs 4,500 crore for Bhutan’s 11th five-year plan (2013-18) and Rs 500 crore towards economic stimulus package. India has the onus of funding Bhutan’s five-year plans. Under the new Modi regime the budgetary proposals for the year 2015-16 has scaled up the total corpus of aid to Bhutan to Rs 6160.20 crore.

In terms of aid package, next comes the war ravaged Afghanistan with a total of Rs 676 crore. This has been done keeping in view the aid flow from other countries in the consortium. India’s engagement with Afghanistan is crucial. As Pakistan has denied land route access to Afghanistan, India has planned to reached Afghanistan by using the Chabahar port in Iran and by using the rail and road connectivity as proposed to connect to Afghanistan and beyond to the Central Asian republics.

In the current fiscal, India has committed Rs 500 crore aid to Sri Lanka. This aid will also take into account the rehabilitation of the war displaced Tamils in the northern and northeastern provinces. The Indian public sector, IRCON is executing five projects in the Northern Province which includes reconstruction of railway lines from Omanthai to Pallai, Madhu Road to Talai Mannar, Medawachchiya to Madhu Road and Pallai to Kankesanthurai in the Northern Province of the country at an estimated total investment of $550 million.

India has assured Rs 250 crore as aid to Bangladesh in the current fiscal year. IRCON is executing projects for construction of the second Bhairab Railway Bridge with approach rail links at an estimated investment of $40.10 million. This project is scheduled to be completed in 2016.
IRCON is also currently executing two prestigious projects for construction of new broad gauge railway line between Jogbani in India and Biratnagar in Nepal and between Jayanagar in India and Bardibas in Nepal. It has also been entrusted the work of designing and construction of Akhaura (Bangladesh) – Agartala (India) rail link. India has scaled up its aid assistance to Nepal to Rs 420 crore in the current fiscal year.

IRCON has recently completed a double tracking railway project of 98 km between Seremban and Gemas in Malaysia on turnkey basis including electrification, signaling and telecommunication works at an investment of more than $1 billion.

Total aid assistance to Maldives has been hiked to Rs 183 crore, while aid assistance to distant Mongolia is Rs 2.50 crore and to Eurasian countries it is Rs 20 crore.

India has also hiked its aid assistance to Africa to Rs 200 crore in the current fiscal year. India is rendering development assistance to Africa through Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme. Apart from Africa being a major beneficiary, the ITEC is also extended to countries in Central Asia, South-East Asia and Latin America. India has pegged its aid to Latin American countries to Rs 15 crore in the current fiscal year. For ITEC programme, Rs 180 crore has been earmarked.

In Algeria in the African continent, IRCON is executing a 93 km double line railway project between Oued Sly and Yellel at an estimated investment of $353 million. The work involves construction of second line and upgradation of existing line and is slated to be completed by March 2016.

Another area where India assists developing countries is through the Colombo Plan and India’s contribution to this fund in the current year is Rs 8.60 crore.  India’s aid to other developing countries is pegged at Rs 83.44 crore. Aid for disaster relief is earmarked at Rs 25 crore. The budget for total technical and economic cooperation with other countries and advances to foreign governments has been pegged at Rs 9107.02 crore. With these agenda in place, the Modi government wants to begin its debut in the neighbourhood and in the developing world.

(ASHOK B SHARMA is a senior Columnist writing on strategic and policy issues in several Indian and foreign newspapers and magazines. He contributes frequently to The Dail Observer, Bangladesh and the The Diplomatist magazine. He can be reached at ashokbsharma@gmail.com His mobile phone number +91-9810902204)

Wendell Rodricks picks KASHISH 2015 International poster contest winner

Delhi-based Niharika Rastogi to receive Rs 20,000 cash award for winning poster, selected from 122 entries from 38 countries.

Wendell Rodricks, one of India’s top fashion designers has picked the poster submitted by Delhi-based art director Niharika Rastogi as the winner of the KASHISH 2015 International Poster contest. Along with winning a cash prize of Rs 20,000, instituted by Rodricks, Niharika’s poster will also be the look of the sixth edition of KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival, scheduled to be held between May 27-31, 2015. South Asia’s biggest and India’s only mainstream LGBT film fest will be held at two venues, Mumbai’s iconic art deco Liberty theatre and Alliance Fran├žaise de Bombay.

"The winning poster was very cinematic in its visualization," said Rodricks. "There is a calm without the shrill in terms of excessive colour. It is what we need today to communicate the LGBT cause. It reaches out to everyone without a sexual barrier. Anchoring the base in the city of Mumbai is another plus. This is a poster that truly opens the LGBT door to embrace every person by reaching out with a hand and touching hearts via cinema," added Rodricks.

It was a keenly contested fight, and one that was truly international. In a record, the contest this year received 122 entries from 38 countries across the world.

Complete Press release attached alongwith pics


March10, 2015 (C) Ravinder Singh ravinderinvent@gmail.com

When Reliance Anil Ambani was under Notice to Suspension and Revoke
Licences in Orissa in 2005 and 2006 respectively [Notices dated
13.05.2013 under Section 19(3) of the Electricity Act, 2003] GOI
continued to award new contracts to Reliance Groups and Banks
continued to extend Term Loans and Grant new loans.

“NESCO, WESCO & SOUTHCO – in Case No. 21/2006 dated 27.10.2006 are,
hereby, revoked under Section 19 of the Electricity Act, 2003 with
immediate effect, i.e., from 4th March, 2015.”

People of India have Little or No Equity therefore New Projects &
Licenses since 2005 like UMPP, METRO LINES, Transmission, Highways,
etc were ILLEGAL ENRICHMENT of Ambanis – allegedly diverted Rs.29,000
crores worth Coal illegally for instance – Has Now Acquired Defense

Reliance Infrastructure Ltd Share Holding
Category    No. of Shares    Percentage
Promoters    127,627,036    48.53
Foreign Institutions    51,426,804    19.55
Financial Institutions    45,195,079    17.19
General Public    27,283,917    10.37
Other Companies    4,046,491    1.54
NBFC and Mutual Funds    1,562,240    0.59
Foreign - NRI    1,386,221    0.53
Central Government    131,572    0.05

Did you probe coal diversion from Sasan, SC asks CBI
The Supreme Court on Monday asked the CBI whether it had investigated
alleged diversion of coal from captive coal blocks allotted to
Reliance ADAG's Sasan ultra mega power project (UMPP) and asked for
its response by April 27.

Citing the SC's September 24 judgment cancelling allocation of 214
coal blocks since 1993, advocate Prashant Bhushan informed the court
that the CAG had estimated that loss from diversion of coal from
captive coal blocks allotted to Sasan UMPP alone stood at Rs 29,000
crore.Bhushan told a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur, Kurian Joseph
and A K Sikri that in the judgment, the SC had held that diversion of
coal from captive mines allotted to power projects was illegal and had
banned any further rerouting.

He said captive blocks were allotted to UMPPs to help project
proponents sell power generated by them at a cheaper price to the
grid. Sasan UMPP was allotted Moher and Moher Amroli Extension blocks.
The SC asked CBI counsel Amarendra Saran whether the agency had probed
this aspect. Saran said the agency had registered three FIRs but was
unable to specify whether these included any against Sasan UMPP.

“Inform us on this. So far, you (the CBI) have not given any probe
status report to us on this,“ the SC said. Bhushan said a probe was
needed against Sasan UMPP as Reliance ADAG officials had met then CBI
director Ranjit Sinha several times at his official residence when the
agency was probing the coal block scam.

Ravinder Singh, Inventor & Consultant, INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGIES AND PROJECTS
Y-77, Hauz Khas, New Delhi-110016, India. Ph; 091- 9718280435, 9650421857

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