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The great Finance Bill trick -Niranjan Sahoo

-DNA The political funding reforms are an embarrassment to India’s claims of heralding a transparency revolution Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetization drive and his expressed desire to bring transparency in political funding, there were expectations of more concrete measures to cleanse the Augean stables of Indian politics. The government responded quickly, albeit through the Finance Bill. For the first time, the Union Budget 2017 devoted a full section (420 words) on electoral funding reforms. Yet, if these proposals, including the last-minute changes made in the Finance Bill, are critically evaluated, they come as a great disappointment. First, take a close look at some of the key announcements to improve transparency in electoral funding. It is well known that a mammoth 75-80 per cent of funding for political parties come from unknown sources. The government claims that steps like the reduction of cash contribution from Rs 20,000 to Rs 2,000...

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Adityanath, No Stranger To Criminal Cases, Promises Safer UP -Milan Vaishnav

-NDTV In his maiden appearance after being named Uttar Pradesh chief minister, Yogi Adityanath proclaimed that his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government would maintain a laser-like focus on the twin themes of combating corruption and restoring law and order. "In the past 15 years," Adityanath noted, "UP lagged behind in the race of development as previous governments indulged in corruption, nepotism, and failed on the law order front." Indeed, one of the new CM's first moves was to instruct his ministers and top bureaucrats to furnish their financial details within 15 days. Adityanath's strong statements are encouraging, but also ironic, given that he has a serious rap sheet himself; the five-time BJP MP is named in three ongoing cases - including one linked to his suspected involvement in the 2007 communal riots which inflamed his Gorakhpur constituency. As Adityanath gets to work, a new report issued by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR)...

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Shocker from Madhya Pradesh: 28,000 kids below six years of age died last year -Hemender Sharma

-India Today 79 children aged below six years die every day in Madhya Pradesh and this shows that the infant mortality rate in Madhya Pradesh is worse than even many African nations. More than 28,000 children aged less than six years have died in Madhya Pradesh in the past one year due to malnourishment and diseases resulting from it. The state women and child welfare department while accepting that children died because of disease resulting from malnourishment refuses to attribute even a single death to malnourishment. Women and child welfare department minister Archana Chitnis read out an answer to a question raised by Ram Niwas Rawat of the Congress in the ongoing budget session of the Assembly in which she accepted that 28948 children had died in the state in the past one year. And though malnourishment related deaths have been reported from across the state she refused to attribute even a single...

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State of Agriculture in India -Tanvi Deshpande

-PRS Legislative Research The key findings of the report entitled: State of Agriculture in India by Tanvi Deshpande (March, 2017) are as follows: * The agriculture sector employs nearly half of the workforce in the country.  However, it contributes to 17.5% of the GDP (at current prices in 2015-16). * Over the past few decades, the manufacturing and services sectors have increasingly contributed to the growth of the economy, while the agriculture sector’s contribution has decreased from more than 50% of GDP in the 1950s to 15.4% in 2015-16 (at constant prices).   * India’s production of food grains has been increasing every year, and India is among the top producers of several crops such as wheat, rice, pulses, sugarcane and cotton. It is the highest producer of milk and second highest producer of fruits and vegetables. In 2013, India contributed 25% to the world’s pulses production, the highest for any one country, 22%...

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How new law marks paradigm shift, gives mentally ill many clear rights -Abantika Ghosh

-The Indian Express The rights-based approach departs from the ‘assurance-based approach’ of the new National Health Policy, which essentially perpetuates the status quo, explains The Indian Express. Since the time the Mental Health Bill was introduced in Rajya Sabha in 2013, decriminalisation of suicide has been its calling card. However, the legislation travels beyond just that colonial era relic, assuming a rights-based approach to mental healthcare, and creating circumstances for removal of the stigma that is the lot of mental health patients. It is a paradigm shift that the National Health Policy passed by the Union Cabinet earlier this month, shied away from. Rights-based approach The Act lays down that “Every person shall have a right to access mental health care and treatment from mental health services run or funded by the appropriate government. The right to access mental health care and treatment shall mean mental health services of affordable cost, of good quality,...

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