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Homes not for landless -Basant Kumar Mohanty

-The Telegraph New Delhi: A revamped central housing scheme promising shelter for all rural families by 2022 has no room for the landless. Dalits, Adivasis and nomadic tribes who have no land will be forced live without dignity as the Centre has discontinued assistance to landless people for purchasing land under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G), activists say. It has also dropped plans for a law to give plots to the landless. The Pradhan Mantri Yojana, launched last year as a new version of the Indira Awas Yojana, offers Rs 1.2 lakh per house in the plains and Rs 1.3 lakh in hilly tracts and the north-eastern states - but only to those who have land. The Indira Yojana had a component of Rs 20,000 for purchase of a "house-site" by the landless but this has been discontinued, official sources said. The UPA government had in 2012 initiated the process of bringing a...

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MSPs should have an expiry date, but job is tough: Arvind Subramanian

-PTI New Delhi: Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) Arvind Subramanian today took the line that the minimum support price on foodgrains for farmers should not continue forever and there should be an "expiry date". "Minimum support price (MSP) originally came into being because we had a big problem of lack of self-sufficiency in foodgrain production. It (MSP) was used as means of providing incentives to farmers. It has been successful. We no longer have the scarcity of foodgrains, cereals, etc," Subramanian said at an event here. "But the problem with all these things are (although) many of these things work, they should not remain forever. There must be expiry date." Subramanian, an on-leave senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, further said, " MSP policy not only favours cereals, but de-facto favours cereal producing regions. It widens regions disparity." Please click here to read more. ...

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Freedom with defects -Ramachandra Guha

-The Telegraph After the third general elections held in 1962, the scholar-statesman, C. Rajagopalachari, wrote a fascinating, if now forgotten, essay on the imperfections of our young democracy. "The Indian electorate", remarked Rajaji, "suffers from well-known defects from which Western democracies are relatively free. The Indian voters are in great measure poor and vulnerable to bribery: even a day's expense for food serves to buy a large number of the poor voters." Rajaji had witnessed and campaigned in elections held in British India, and now in independent India as well. "What is to be deplored most in the recent elections", he wrote in 1962, was "the terrible rise in election expenditure and the manner in which money flowed for the purchase of the votes of the poor and illiterate. Money running so alarmingly ahead of education, leads one to ask what hope or way out is there for democracy. The hunger for...

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Onion production might fall by 5.8% in 2016-17 crop year: Government -Sanjeeb Mukherjee & Agencies

-Business Standard Horticulture production to exceed food grains output for fifth year in a row The Centre’s first advance estimates for horticulture production for 2016-17 crop year that will end in June showed onion output might fall 5.8 per cent during the year to 19.7 million tonnes, while potato and tomatoes could rise marginally. Onion production in 2016-17 could fall to 19.71 million tonnes as against 20.93 million tonnes last year. The output is expected to be down due to fall in acreage to 1.18 million hectares in 2016-17 from 1.32 million hectares in the last year. Overall, fruit and vegetables in 2016-17 are expected to be a record 287.32 million tonnes, as against 286.18 million tonnes. Among other key vegetables, production of potato is estimated to be higher at 43.88 million tonnes this year as against 43.41 million tonnes last year. Please click here to read more. ...

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Clean Ganga project hurts livelihoods, divides communities -Deeptiman Tiwary

-The Indian Express Suspension of work during festivals to ensure a cleaner Ganga and cow vigilantism, which has led to closure of several abattoirs and brought raw hide supply to half, have made things worse. Kanpur: The Namami Ganga Project has hurt leather workshop owner Aqueel Ahmed, 27. His earnings have dwindled with the crackdown on factories polluting the river in Kanpur’s Jajmau area. A kilometre away, priest Ramesh Prasad Tiwari, 63, has a different take. He is happy with the project for completely opposite reasons. Tiwari’s earnings have plummeted due to increasing pollution in the river. He hopes that a cleaner Ganga would attract greater footfall at his temple on the river banks and boost his earnings. The contrasting views are symptomatic of how the Rs. 20,000-crore project has divided communities, something that is likely to be reflected in voting patterns on Sunday. Ahmed supports the project but not at the...

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