Archive for May 8th, 2017

Amendment to Banking Regulation Act is just a political signal: Some insights from history..

May 8, 2017

Under the Ordinance, the Central Government .. empowered, at any time, to direct the Reserve Bank to undertake an inspection of the books and accounts of any banking company incorporated under the Indian Companies Act and to make a report to the Central Government. If, after considering the Bank’s report of inspection, the Central Government were of the opinion that the concerned bank’s affairs were being conducted to the detriment of the interests of its depositors, the Government could prohibit the bank from receiving fresh deposits or refuse its inclusion in the Second Schedule or, if it had been so included, direct its exclusion from the Schedule. The Ordinance further prescribed penalties for contravention of its provisions and empowered the Central Government to publish the whole or any part of the inspection report after giving reasonable notice to the concerned bank.

One might be thinking that this Ordinance is the recent amendment to Banking Regulation Act 2017, which has been much in news. But this Ordinance was passed 70 years ago in 1946! Though, the ordinance was defective as it only gave RBI powers to regulate banks in British India and not Princely States. But still it is not as if RBI did not have powers over banking.

Further the Ordinance gave sweeping powers to RBI:

(more…)

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Battle over lands in Jharkhand: Traditions vs Development ..

May 8, 2017

This story has every bit of masala (spice). Jharkhand State Government is trying to undo old tenancy laws which will allow companies to ire/purchase lands from tribals. The tribals are obviously opposing the move:

Ulihatu is the birthplace of Birsa Munda, a tribal hero elevated to godlike status. He fought against the British in the late 19th century, leading to the enactment of the Chhotanagpur Tenancy Act of 1908, which prohibits the sale of tribal land to non-tribals. In fact, there had been several revolts even earlier, all of which had forced the British to enact the Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act. Later amendments gave the Indian government power to take over the land for public welfare projects, as well as industrial and mining purposes.

In November last year, it was reported that the Jharkhand Assembly okayed more changes to the two laws, which are commonly referred to as the CNT Act and SPT Act. The government had first tried the Ordinance route to push through the changes, similar to what the Centre had attempted earlier with the Land Bill. (In 2015, the Modi government promulgated an ordinance thrice to implement its Land Bill, but allowed it to lapse subsequently following protests by the Opposition.)

The tribals are clearly not buying the promise of ‘development’ that these amendments are supposed to usher in. There are other worries too.

Karma Oraon is a prominent leader of the Jharkhand Adivasi Sangharsh Morcha, the organisation spearheading the joint protests by 40 different groups. The Morcha even organised a rally in March. According to Oraon, only 23 per cent of the land in Jharkhand is being used for agriculture, a livelihood on which nearly 90 per cent of the tribal population is dependent. A professor of anthropology at Ranchi University, Oraon likened the amendments to vajrapat, a body blow. “They have absolutely no care for the interests of the Adivasi,” he had said during an earlier meeting at his well-appointed office in the university. “How will an ordinary tribal ensure that he remains the actual owner of the land once he leases it to a mighty company? Will he be able to drive it out if he wishes? Moreover, the local tribals are not well-versed in the ways of the market economy and will not utilise the money they get in a proper manner.”

I ask the young tribal hunting for rabbits if the prospect of a job at one of the new factories or power plants that’s likely to come up on acquired land, interests him. “They will ask for a degree for a job and we do not have them,” he says matter-of-factly. “Even with a degree, there is no guarantee of a job as they will mostly hire their own people,” he adds. His companions nod.

An old man, who was listening in silence, speaks up at this point. “In 2013, the Supreme Court gave gram sabha the power to decide whether land can be acquired by the government. The same will be followed here.”

Indore’s rise as cleanest city of the country…

May 8, 2017

Nice story from Pretika Khanna of Mint. In three years Indore has risen from 149th ranking to top ranking:

From being placed 149th in a cleanliness ranking of India’s cities in 2014, Indore Municipal Corporation climbed to the 25th position in 2016, and to the top of the heap in 2017.

This swift progress was aided by the corporation’s efforts to improve garbage collection, and turn open-defecation free (ODF).

Needs a detailed case study..


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