Karnataka to float non-profit company to spur investments

Jul 28, 2016 0

Benglauru–Karnataka is setting up a non-profit company to spur investments in diverse areas with industry participation, state Industries Minister R.V. Deshpande said on Thursday.

“The company will have six to nine directors on its board from the industry and profits will be used to promote its objectives, with no dividend to the board members,” Deshpande said at a two-day summit here.

The firm will be set up under Section 8 of the Companies Act, 2013.

R.V. Deshpande

R.V. Deshpande

As per the specific law, the company will be registered for charitable or not-for-profit purpose with the Corporate Affairs Ministry.

“We are keen on setting up a grand convention centre near the airport at Devanahalli on the city’s outskirts and building elevated roads, subways and flyovers to improve infrastructure,” Deshpande said at the 12th India Innovation summit, organised by the Confedration of Indian Industry, with ‘Spirit of Innovation — Celebrating the Entrepreneur’ as its theme.

Exhorting the industrialists to invest more in research for high quality, competitiveness and customer satisfaction, the minister said innovation would make the country stronger, richer and a super power.

“Karnataka is the first state in the country to implement a start-up policy to foster entrepreneurship, innovation and job creation. The central and state governments and the industry should support a good start-up in the interest of building a strong country,” Deshpande claimed.

Asserting that the state government would ensure Bengaluru retained its lead position as the country’s start-up and innovation hub, the minister said Karnataka was the world’s largest tech capital after Silicon Valley in the US and London in Britain.

Addressing the members of the CII, Accenture India managing director Rekha M. Menon said India was transitioning into a society, facilitating innovation and entrepreneurship by design.

“The government is pushing policy frameworks to promote innovation.A Open Innovation will be the platform on which organisations can leverage to promote guided disruption. They must work with start-ups and niche technology firms,” Menon stressed.

In a special address,AUS Trade Representative Office deputy ambassador Robert W. Holleyman said India contributed significantly to global innovation, which accounts for 8 per cent of its GDP.

“Though entrepreneurs are drivers of innovation, governments have a major role to play in ensuring there is an opportunity for innovators to grow. Information Technology (IT) has been a key component in the growth of India and the world over,” Holleyman noted.

Setting the theme, Infosys co-founder and summit chairman S. Gopalakrishan said though 80 per cent of start-ups fail, entrepreneurs were not failures.

“The industry needs to encourage them by sharing learnings and experiences so that more start-ups are fostered. The government is supportive on ease of doing business and regulative policies but a lot more needs to be done,” Gopalakrishnan added.

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PM Modi reviews NITI Aayog’s 15-year vision document, pushes for innovation

Jul 28, 2016 0

New Delhi– The 15-year long term plan Vision Document prepared by NITI Aayog has drawn out ambitious plans for the country’s development, towards eradicating poverty and achieving targets of sustainable development, Vice Chairman of the plan body Arvind Panagariya said here on Thursday even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged the panel to lay a foundation for growth.

At a meeting of the NITI Aayog, Prime Minister Modi directed the panel – also called a policy research arm of the government after dismantling of the Planning Commission, to “shed the past”.

“Prime Minister said I am a person who does experiment and I have confidence this shows results,” Panagariya told reporters after Modi reviewed the Aayog’s Vision Document at a high-level meeting.

“The NITI Aayog should strive to excel and come out to take new challenges and Vision Document should lay the foundation of the 21st century for India,” an official source later said quoting the Prime Minister.

“Prime Minister has stressed on transformational changes rather than having incremental changes,” the source told IANS.

Modi, also an admirer of new technology and innovation, said that there is a “need to win” the war of policies and chase things according to the technological demands.

“We won’t speculate on the vision document, many issues have been raised for the first time. We have an ambitious vision,” Panagariya said.

“We had a good meeting with Prime Minister for over two hours, he desired to review our flaws in the planning system,” he said.

Prime Minister Modi, who is Chairman of NITI Aayog, reviewed the progress made by the policy research arm of the government and suggested remedial measures.

Asked whether the Vision Document will be approved by the NITI Aayog Governing Council, Panagariya said no decision has been taken on this.

The Council is headed by the Prime Minister with all Chief Ministers on its board.

Modi urged NITI Aayog to take inspiration from events such as the success of the Give-it-Up campaign.

“This experience shows that people are not only interested in benefits for themselves as experts would feel. It proves that people are motivated by the larger public good,” he said.

The meeting was also attended by the Minister of State for Planning Rao Inderjit Singh, members of the NITI Aayog, besides senior officials from the NITI Aayog and Prime Minister’s Office.

The vision document and action plan of NITI Aayog and their review have become important because by the end of fiscal 2016-17, the 12th Five Year Plan prepared by the now-defunct Planning Commission comes to end.

Set up in January 2015, the NITI Aayog was mandated by the Prime Minister and the Governing Council to come up with a 15-year vision document for a period up to 2030.

The NITI Aayog was also assigned to working on a 7-year strategy starting from 2017-18 to 2023-24 to convert a vision document into implementable policy.

Modi-africa-sIt is also to work on a 3-year action plan for 2017-18 to 2019-20 as part of the National Development Agenda. This has been linked to the 14th Finance Commission award period.

According to Panagariya in his address, PM Modi has underlined that the vision document should not be treated only as a vision document for 15 years but “it should lay down the foundation of an entire century”.

Among other issues, PM stressed that there is a need to make an exhaustive list of “untapped natural resources”, the potential of which should be and can be exploited.

Modi also pointed out that there is a need to make states “equal partners” in economic and social development and also that plans should aim at strengthening states – which ultimately can go a long way in creating a strong India.

“We need to think of multiple utility of existing institutions and resources in to benefit maximum number of citizens,” the Prime Minister said.

For its part, in the presentation made by NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman emphasis was given on enlisting the services of experts from different fields.

“Increased complexity of the economy has meant that as a general rule, it is no longer possible for generalists to learn any subject within a matter of weeks,” Panagariya said in presence of the PM.

Panagariya said that the Aayog will be cautious enough not to be bogged down by the legacies of past and will avoid repeating some of the mistakes of the Planning Commission.

Modi in principle said even for export potential, suggestions should come from the states and the Centre then can play a role of a catalyst.  (IANS)

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India should not lag behind in outer space mining

Jul 28, 2016 0

Kolkata– With the US wanting to press ahead with asteroid mining and unlock resources of the moon, India will lag behind if it does not seize the outer space mining opportunity, said a TIFAC official here on Thursday.

Prabhat Ranjan, Executive Director of Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC), said the potential exploitation of moon and asteroids as a mineral resource can be a “big game changer”.

Prabhat Ranjan

Prabhat Ranjan

“Moon is already being seen as a mineral wealth and further one can go up to the asteroids and start exploiting this. This can be a big game changer and if India doesn’t do this, we will lag behind,” Ranjan told reporters.

He was speaking on the sidelines of a seminar on ‘Technology Thrusts on Materials and Manufacturing Sector in India’ at the Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute, which is part of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

The maiden roadmap on ‘Materials’, a part of TIFAC’s Technology Vision 2035, was launched during the inaugural.

“According a NASA estimate, the amount of mineral wealth resident in the asteroid belt (between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter) would be equivalent to US$100 billion dollar per person on earth,” Ranjan said.

“In the next 10 to 15 years, we expect that outer space would be exploited for mineral wealth and India should not lag behind. We will provide these inputs to various government bodies. We will tell them what lies ahead in the future.”

The US is poised to approve the first commercial space mission beyond the Earth’s orbit, paving the way for a space startup co-founded by an Indian-origin entrepreneur to go ahead with its proposed Moon mission.

The government’s endorsement would make way for Moon Express, a relatively obscure space startup co-founded by Naveen Jain, to land a roughly nine-kg package of scientific hardware on the Moon sometime next year.

The formal approval, which could be months away, may also pave the way for potential commercial space tourism and asteroid mining ventures.

“Whoever goes and exploits first would start to gain that wealth. (Going by) The discussion I had with them they would want to see if they can see if India’s rockets can be used for it,” said Ranjan. (IANS)

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Indian Cabinet Nods a Number of Projects

Jul 27, 2016 0

No separate guidelines needed by defence PSUs for JVs, decides Cabinet

New Delhi–The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved doing away with the existing guidelines for establishing joint venture companies by defence public sector undertakings (DPSUs).

These guidelines which were notified in February 2012 will not be required for separate joint ventures by the DPSUs, the guidelines issued by the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) and Ministry of Finance (MoF) from time to time, which are uniformly applicable to all central public sector enterprises (CPSEs) will be applicable for the DPSUs, an official statement said.

According to officials, the abolition of the guidelines will provide a level playing field between DPSUs and the private sector.

“It will allow DPSUs to forge partnerships in an innovative manner enhancing self-reliance in defence and provide for enhanced autonomy of DPSUs,” officials said.

All nine DPSUs, that is, Mazagon Dock Ltd, Goa Shipyard Ltd, Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Ltd, Hindustan Shipyard Ltd, Bharat Electronics Ltd, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, Bharat Earth Movers Ltd, Bharat Dynamics Ltd and Mishra Dhatu Nigam Ltd will be benefited through this decision.

“In the emerging scenario with primacy being accorded to indigenous manufacturing and ‘Make in India’, it is felt that having multiple set of guidelines may lead to ambiguity and incongruity in the environment,” an official added.


Cabinet nod to revised cost estimate for projects under NATRIP

New Delhi–The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the revised cost estimate for projects under the National Automotive Testing and R&D Infrastructure Project (NATRIP), an official statement said.

The decision to approve the revised cost estimate worth Rs 3,727.30 crore for NATRIP projects was taken at its meeting here, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The approval ensures completion of projects under NATRIP for the establishment of the global test centres in India, said the statement.

“This will address the R&D requirements of the automotive industry, full-fledged testing and homologation centres,” it said.

The centres are are within the northern auto-cluster at ICAT, Manesar, Haryana, the southern auto-cluster at GARC-Oragadam, Chennai, while existing centres at ARAI-Pune and VRDE-Ahmednagar in Maharashtra will be upgraded for the western auto-cluster, it said, adding that the new infrastructure will enable vehicle and component manufacturers to develop and certify products which meet global standards.


Cabinet approves key changes in GST Bill

New Delhi–In a bid to strengthen the chances of passage of the crucial GST Bill, the Union Cabinet here on Wednesday approved key changes in the proposed legislation, including dropping the proposed one per cent additional tax on inter-state sale, sources said.

This provision’s removal has been a key demand of the opposition Congress.

The cabinet, which met under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, also agreed to include the mechanism to compensate states for all loss of revenues for five years.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi earlier told the Rajya Sabha that the GST Bill will come up for discussion in the first week of August. It is pending in the Rajya Sabha, where the National Democratic Alliance government lacks a majority.

On Tuesday, West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra chaired the meeting of the empowered committee of state finance ministers to form a consensus on the bill, and the states agreed to keep the GST rate out of the bill. However, there was no decision on what the rate should be as all the states did not agree on the proposed 18 per cent rate.

The Congress demands that the constitutional amendment bill sould provide for capping the GST rate at 18 per cent.

Mitra said a broad consensus has been worked out on the GST and all are of the opinion that taxes on the common man need to be reduced. At the same time, there is a need to ensure that the trend of revenue collection continues, he added.

“It is very important that tax on the common man is significantly reduced. At the same time we need to safeguard the taxes going to the state exchequer,” he said.

The states are demanding that there should be no dual control on businesses with an annual turnover of less than Rs 1.5 crore, and this issue has to be resolved for the GST to happen, Mitra said after the panel’s meeting.

“We will work towards this so that small businesses do not suffer. It has to be through a consensus for the GST to happen,” Mitra added.

The Congress is also demanding an independent dispute resolution mechanism for the GST.

The GST was first mooted by the previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government.


Cabinet approves AIIMS in Bhatinda

New Delhi–The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the setting up of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Punjab’s Bhatinda district, said an official statement.

“The union cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the establishment of a new AIIMS at Bhatinda in Punjab under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY),” it said.

The institution shall have a hospital with capacity of 750 beds which will include emergency/trauma Beds and AYUSH Beds, private beds and ICU Speciality and Super Speciality beds.

“In addition, there will be an administration block, AYUSH block, auditorium, night shelter, hostels and residential facilities,” said the statement.

The cost of the project for establishment will be Rs 925 crore.

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PM Modi to chair NITI Aayog meet, review 15-year vision plan

Jul 27, 2016 0

New Delhi– Prime Minister Narendra Modi will preside over a crucial meeting of the NITI Aayog on Thursday wherein a “concrete shape” may be given to country’s first-ever 15-year vision document for accelerating all-round development, sources said.

“The NITI (National Institution for Transforming India)Aayog will make a presentation to the Prime Minister on a study report and document on the 15-year plan at the meeting,” an official source said here.

Indian Prime Minister Mody

Indian Prime Minister Mody

Once the Prime Minister shares his views on the 15-year vision document prepared by NITI Aayog, its governing council, headed by the Prime Minister and comprising Chief Ministers, is likely to meet to review it at a later stage.

The much-awaited 15-year vision document aims to target inclusive development and eradicate poverty in the country.

Unlike the five-year plan visions drawn earlier under the Planning Commission, the new long term vision plan would also focus on sectors like infrastructure, commerce, education and health, the source said.

Modi had announced dismantling of Planning Commission and setting up of NITI Aayog in 2014.

Along with Modi, Union Ministers like Radha Mohan Singh (Agriculture) and Arun Jaitley (Finance) will also take stock of the NITI Aayog’s works on a separate seven-year strategy paper from 2017-18 to 2023-24.

The NITI Aayog was also assigned by Prime Minister prepare a 3-year action plan for 2017-18 to 2019-20 as part of the National Development Agenda, which will be aligned with the 14th Finance Commission award period, the source said.

Sources said Modi is keen to involve the Chief Ministers for the consultation process as the 15-year document will essentially signal a “paradigm shift” in the very planning process marking the virtual end of the “five year planning system” enforced in the country since 1951.

The NITI Aayog on Wednesday held consultations with the Chief Secretaries of the states to discuss the vision, strategy and action plan documents.

The 15-year vision document may be finalised as a policy statement by the year-end.

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60 percent of Indians will live in Urban areas by 2050

Jul 27, 2016 0

New Delhi– Indian government on Wednesday said about 60 percent Indian population will live in cities by 2050.

“It is estimated that by 2050, 60 percent population of the country will live in cities as the rate of urbanisation in India is dramatic,” Union Minister of State for Urban Development Rao Inderjit Singh told the Lok Sabha during question hour.

He said according to 2011 Census, nearly 31 per cent of the country’s population resides in urban areas, and a large number of people would migrate to cities in coming decades.

Rao Inderjit Singh

Rao Inderjit Singh

But he maintained that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has drawn up plans and under the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) steps will be taken to strengthen big cities first and infrastructure and other facilities will be strengthened in smaller cities in the second stage.

AMRUT provides for improvement of basic urban infrastructure like water supply, sewerage, storm water drainage, urban transport and development of green space and parks with special provision.

He also said that states and Union territories can raise funds required against their share through own resources or through the World Bank or foreign financial institutions.

Some of the broad targets of AMRUT scheme — launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015 — are ensuring access to tap water and sewerage facilities, greenery like parks and open spaces, digital and smart facilities like weather prediction, internet and WiFi facilities, and pollution reduction by encouraging secure public transport. (IANS)

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Space Wars: Devas wins arbitration case, India mulls legal recourse

Jul 26, 2016 0

Chennai– India has lost its arbitration case in an international tribunal against Bengaluru-based Devas Multimedia Private Ltd for cancelling its space/satellite contract with the government-owned Antrix Corporation, Devas said on Tuesday. The government said that the order is being examined and “legal recourse will be taken”.

In a statement, Devas said: “A Permanent Court of Arbitration tribunal has found that the government of India’s actions in annulling a contract between Devas and Antrix Corporation Ltd., and denying Devas commercial use of S-band spectrum, constituted an expropriation.”

The ruling on Monday was the second by an international tribunal arising out of the cancellation of the contract between Devas and Antrix, the commercial arm of Indian space agency Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the statement added.

The Hague-based tribunal, which regularly takes cases involving states, including investment treaty claims brought under arbitration rules of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), also found that India breached its treaty commitments to accord fair and equitable treatment to Devas’s foreign investors.

According to Devas, the unanimous decision included the arbitrator appointed by India.

Reacting to the development, G.Madhavan Nair, who was ISRO Chairman when the deal was signed, told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram that all this happened because of the UPA-2 government.

S. Rakesh, Chairman-cum-Managing Director of Antrix Corporation Limited, was not available for comments.

However, the Department of Space, in a statement, said that in the award, issued on “jurisdiction and merits on July 25, 2016”, the tribunal has said that the Indian government’s essential security interest provisions “do apply in this case to an extent” and the “limited liability of compensation shall be limited to 40 per cent of the value of the investment” but the precise quantum has not been determined as yet.

“The Tribunal has dismissed the claims as regards violation of other provisions of the Treaty viz., (i) unreasonable or discriminatory measures; as also (ii) Most Favoured Nation treatment,” it said, adding that the “award is being examined and legal recourse will be taken”.

“We also remain committed to pursue our larger national interests including sovereign strategic security interests in this matter,” the statement said.

In an earlier decision, an International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) tribunal in 2015 found unanimously that Antrix’s repudiation of the contract was unlawful, and awarded Devas damages and pre-award interest of approximately $672 million, plus post-award annual interest accruing at 18 per cent until the award is paid in full.

According to Devas Chairman Lawrence Babbio, with the PCA award, two international tribunals have now unanimously agreed that financial compensation should be paid after annulment of Devas’s rights.

“Other courts in France and the United Kingdom have agreed that the award against Antrix ought to be enforced. We prefer a mutually agreeable resolution of this matter. But until that occurs, Devas and its investors will continue to press their claims before international tribunals and in courts around the world,” Babbio was quoted as saying in the statement.

The PCA tribunal unanimously found that by annulling the contract in 2011 and denying the commercial use of S-band spectrum, the Indian government expropriated the investments of Devas’s foreign shareholders and also acted unfairly and inequitably, thus making it liable to pay financial compensation.

Antrix entered into an agreement with Devas in 2005 for the long-term lease of two ISRO satellites operating in the S-band.

However, the then United Progressive Alliance government cancelled the controversial contract in February 2011, invoking sovereignty and decided to use the advanced satellite for the country’s strategic use.

Under the annulled deal, Antrix was to lease satellite transponders to Devas for allowing it to offer digital multimedia services using the S-band wavelength (spectrum), reserved for strategic purpose.

The space agency launched the GSAT-6 on August 27, 2015 from its spaceport at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, about 90 km north of Chennai, as a communication satellite, using a heavy rocket.

In June this year, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had issued a notice to Devas for alleged violation of foreign exchange laws involving around Rs 1,200 crore.

According to a government statement, Devas Multimedia is suspected to have received FDI of Rs 578.54 crore between May 2006 and June 2010 from various overseas investors, but the share subscription agreements it entered with them contained clauses contrary to the conditions specified in the approvals granted by Foreign Investment Promotion Board.

Devas Multimedia was also charged with contravening the FDI regulations under FEMA for assuring foreign investors an annual eight per cent priority dividend in addition to other dividends on cumulative basis, and for one tranche of receipt of funds, issuing a security akin to an External Commercial Borrowing (ECB) promising higher returns than the ceiling fixed by the Reserve Bank of India.

According to the probe agency, a show cause notice has been issued to the Indian investors, the persons responsible in the Indian company, including its directors and foreign investors.

The ED has initiated adjudication process, and in case the alleged contravention is proved, the noticees are liable for penalty under FEMA, which may be up to thrice the sum involved in such contravention.

Meanwhile the Department of Space said the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) have filed an FIR against Devas and other unknown public servants of Antrix/ISRO/DOS and it is presently under investigation. (IANS)

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Regulating air fares will violate law: Minister

Jul 26, 2016 0

New Delhi–The government on Tuesday said that any attempts to regulate air fares of India-based passenger carriers on international routes will violate law.

According to Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha, the government’s intervention to reduce air fares will be anti-competitive.

Jayant Sinha

Jayant Sinha

“An intervention by the government in the matter of airfare reduction of domestic airlines operating on international sector to protect the interest of NRIs would not only be in contravention of Indian law, but also anti-competitive,” the minister informed parliament.

“Airlines offer fares on various levels, which are driven by market forces. As the demand goes up, the seats on lower fare levels get filled. This is a global practice in the aviation industry,” Sinha said in a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha during question hour.

The minister elaborated that airlines are free to fix reasonable tariffs under the provision of Aircraft Rules, 1937.

“However, airlines remain compliant with the regulatory provisions of sub-rule 2 of Rule 135 as long as the fare charged by them does not exceed the fare established and displayed on their website,” Sinha added.

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Indian Parliament passes bill to allow kids below 14 to be engaged in home-based work

Jul 26, 2016 0

New Delhi– The Parliament on Tuesday passed the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2016, seeking to prohibits employment of children below 14 years in any “profession” but allows “home-based work”, such as helping their families in forests, agricultural fields and small family-run units with the Lok Sabha giving its nod.

Bandaru Dattatreya

Bandaru Dattatreya

“This bill is historic and will go a long way in curbing the menace of child labour. For the first time we have also ensured that adolescents between the age group of 14 and 18 years cannot be employed in any hazardous work,” Union Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya said in Lok Sabha pushing for its passage.

The Rajya Sabha had passed the bill last week.

The new amendments brought in this bill were “essential”, the minister said, adding that the bill in no way discourages children from going to school.

Among other things, the new changes in the bill include heftier penalties on violators – jail term of six months to two years, from the earlier three months to one-year term, and a fine of Rs 20,000-Rs 50,000, up from Rs 10,000-Rs 20,000.

“We have also brought in the element of cognizable offence for the first time,” Dattatreya said, countering Congress floor leader Mallikarjun Kharge, also a former Labour Minister.

The Minister asserted that under the provisions of the new law, “Employer, who violates the provisions of this Act, will be highly punished. The punishment will be stricter. It is a deterrent one. We have made it cognizable. Earlier it was non-cognizable, now it was made a cognizable offence.”

Among others Ranjit Ranjan (Congress), Virendra Kumar (BJP), N.K. Premchadran (RSP) and C. Gopalkrishnan (AIADMK) also participated in the debate.

Kalyan Banerjee of Trinamool said “Child labourers can be found in urban dwellings, around 80 per cent reside in rural areas where they are forced to work in agricultural activities such as tanning, livestock, rearing, forestry and fisheries.”

Kalikesh Singh Deo (Biju Janata Dal), however, demanded that the bill be referred to a select committee of the House for wider consultation.

Kharge maintained that the 2012 bill brought in by the UPA regime was good enough and the new amendments would not serve any purpose.

The charge was, however, strongly contested by Dattatreya.

Replying to questions raised by Trinamool Congress member Kalyan Banerjee and Biju Janata Dal member Kalikesh Singh Deo, the Minister said the government has carefully defined “family” in relation to a child, that would include a child’s “mother, father, brother, sister and father’s sister and brother and mother’s sister and brother”.

Singh Deo, the MP from Bolangir in Odisha, had during the debate argued that some “uncles and Mamaji” can misuse this definition.

On this Dattatreya said, “In India often children after the unfortunate death of their parents are looked after by their close relatives and are dependent on them”.

The new law would also apply to those who work “as artists” in an audio-visual entertainment industry, including advertisement, films, television serials or any such other entertainment or sports activities except the circus, he said.

The safety measures have to be maintained, he said adding that “no such work shall effect the school education of the child”.

Kharge complained against a clause which says the central government may at times “specify the nature of the non-hazardous work to which an adolescent may be permitted to work”.

Among other features of the new bill, Dattatreya said it has been “linked to the Right to Education Act of 2009” so that every child should go to the schools.

Later the House passed the bill by voice vote after the amendments moved by several opposition members were either withdrawn or negated. (IANS)

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Art of Living questions Rs 120 crore damage assessment, terms it unscientific

Jul 26, 2016 0

New Delhi–The Art of Living (AoL) claimed before the National Green Tribunal that C.R Babu, member of its expert committee formed to assess damage to Yamuna flood plains due to AoL’s World Culture Festival (WCF), gave his decision “even before examining the area”.

Sri-Sri-YamunaThe AoL referred to an interview of Babu in a magazine that it will take 5-10 years to restore flood plains and cost Rs 120 crore, as it noted that during the last hearing on July 19, the expert committee of which C.R Babu is a member, sought “more time” to complete the assessment.

“Mr Babu was an independent expert appointed by the NGT and he was suppose to submit his findings as a confidential report in a sealed envelope. While he had spoke to media, gave his decisions and disclosed his findings, without even conducting the assessments,” AoL’s legal advisor Kedar told IANS.

He alleged that another member of the expert committee in a letter admits that “the Rs 120 crore assessment” was based on unscientific hypothesis and pre-conceived.

“The problem is that now the expert committee would be under pressure to uphold their unscientific decision, because its most unlikely that they would accept their fault,” he said.

“…this clearly reflects bias and a pre-conceived and a predetermined mind and prejudice on the part of Mr C.R Babu. I respectfully submit that this is extremely wrong on the part of an independent expert to openly express his opinion before even conducting any scientific investigation which exhibits massive prejudice..” AoL’s application submitted on July 19 stated.

“May I request that NGT may consider this view as the recommendation rather than as an adhoc figure of Rs 120 crore as cost of restoration which did not have any scientific basis,” AoL added in its application.

The World Culture Festival was held here from March 11 to 13, was embroiled in a controversy that it harmed the local ecology as well as disturbed the farmers and their crops.

The NGT had imposed a fine on Aol for organising the event in the flood plains.

The Festival attracted 172 leaders from across globe, and over 3.7 million people from 155 countries. The seven-acre stage on which the event was hosted was build in 50 days and dismantled in 28.

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