India’s First Women’s-Only Bank #BharatiyaMahilaBank


Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday inaugurated the “Bharatiya Mahila Bank” or Indian Women’s Bank, the country’s first women-oriented bank aimed at providing loans and financial services to women.

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The bank, fully owned by the government, started with an initial funding of 10 billion rupees ($161 million) and an all-women board comprising eight members.

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram had announced setting up the bank in his budget speech in February, as part of government measures to generate employment opportunities and provide funding for women.

Many, including members of the opposition, welcomed the announcement at the time. But some commentators felt the move was populist and sought to attract female voters ahead of federal elections in May next year.

Sonia Gandhi, the president of India’s ruling Congress party, of which Mr. Chidambaram and Mr. Singh are members, has asserted that a dedicated women’s bank is aimed at improving the self-sufficiency of women.

“Only 26% women in the country today have bank accounts,” Mr. Chidambaram said at a press conference in Mumbai on Tuesday, adding that a women’s-only bank will help increase this statistic.

Access to finance and banking not only helps empower women but also broadens the social base of development, thus fostering equitable growth. This is an area in which India lags far behind,” Prime Minister Mr. Singh said in his inaugural speech.

The bank, headquartered in New Delhi, will be headed by Usha Ananthasubramanian, a former executive director of Punjab National Bank, the country’s second largest state-run lender by assets. Tuesday was the launch of the inaugural branch in Mumbai.

Mr. Chidambaram said the bank is starting with seven branches and has a target to open 25 branches by March 2014. He expects the bank to open a branch in every state capital and eventually expand to smaller towns and villages, perhaps even overseas.

The bank’s priority will be women and it will design its products around them, he said.

Facts You Must Know About the Food Bill


We cannot imagine our life without a pinch of food in a day as it is the most essential element for human beings to survive. In an overpopulated country like India, there is more demand for basic necessities like food, clothing and shelter, out of which, food serves as the most important component for a healthy living. The country is home to 25 percent of starving poor people of the world.

Recently, the Central government with the main aim to combat poverty and hunger of its ever increasing population had introduced ‘Food Security Bill’ which is considered as the world’s largest welfare scheme. The bill guarantees highly subsidized food grains to two-thirds of the population. Here are some of the facts worth knowing about this food legislation as listed by rediff.com

Initial Stage of Food Bill

7326Rwim Food Security Bill- the most ambitious project of the UPA government was first drafted by its Chairperson Sonia Gandhi way back in the year 2010. Initially, the bill aimed to supply food to around 75 percent of the country’s population. C Rangarajan, an Indian Economist led a panel which urged the government to reduce entitlements and also to reform the Public Distribution System (PDS).

.A year later, the draft report was circulated by the ministry of food for public opinion. In July 2013, the government approved an ordinance that covers 67 percent of the country’s population.

 Provision Included

523C8cAG In this scheme, the government rolled out 5 kg of rice, wheat and coarse grain at Rs 3, 2 and 1 per kg respectively to an estimated 800 million people i.e. 75 percent of rural and 50 percent of urban population every month. The rest will be designated as general ones.
Under the welfare scheme Antyodaya Anna Yajna, families below the poverty line (BPL)will be entitled with 35 kg food grains per household every month and general households will get  3 kg. But, the scheme does not provide pulses and edible oils, due to the lack of supply in the country.

 Empowering Women and Children

iz47SyRf The food bill is not only confined to the general masses but also gives equal importance to women and children . The bill seeks to empower women by entitling meals and maternity benefits of not less than 6000. Besides these benefits, pregnant women and lactating mothers will also receive maternity benefit of at least 6000. Woman should be at least 18 years old to avail ration card. As per prescribed nutritional norms, Children between the age group of 6 months to 14 years will be allowed to take home ration or hot cooked food under ICDS and Mid-Day Meal Schemes.

 Food grains required and the cost involved

2904B5qx It is estimated that the total food grains required for this welfare scheme is around 62 million tons a year. This means subsidy bill of over 12.4 million will be required to successfully implement this food bill all over the country.

Procedures involved in choosing the Beneficiaries


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Beneficiaries for the bill will be chosen on the basis of the 2011 population census. The states and union territories are allowed to include their own criteria or can employ census data based on social, economic and caste, where the government is meant to identify households within its jurisdictions. But in the original Food Bill, the central government is responsible for identifying it.

Misconception about the bill

Many people have raised the question whether India can afford such an expensive scheme, where the country’s annual food subsidy bill will witness more than double  of 1.3 trillion rupees. It is also claimed that this bill will only fill the pockets of those corrupt and inefficient state-owned cheap food ration shopkeepers. It is said that, the food bill is an extensively regarded key method of the union government to entice people to vote for them in the upcoming 2014 election.

Forbes’ Ten Most Powerful Women


Angela Merkel #1

Chancellor of Germany since 2005, Angela Merkel is the most powerful woman in the world. (Photo by Getty Images)

Dilma Rousseff #2

Brazil president Dilma Rousseff is ranked second in the Forbes list. Rousseff, ranked the third most powerful woman in 2012. (Photo by Getty Images)

Melinda Gates #3

Co chair of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Melinda Gates is ranked third most powerful woman globally by Forbes this year. (Photo by Getty Images)

Michelle Obama #4

The First Lady of the United States of America, Michelle Obama is ranked fourth most powerful woman globally by the Forbes. (Photo by Getty Images)

Hillary Clinton #5

Described by Forbes as one of the most watched and listened-to women on the planet, Hillary Clinton is ranked fifth most powerful woman globally by the magazine. She was second in the Forbes list while also making it to the top 20 of the most powerful people in the world last year. (REUTERS)

Sheryl Sandberg #6

Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of one of the most powerful social networking sites, Facebook is the sixth most powerful woman in the Forbes list this year. Ranked tenth last year, Sandberg is credited for the increase in company’s U.S. mobile revenue in 2012. (REUTERS)

Christine Lagarde #7

Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is the seventh most powerful woman in the world. Lagarde became the first woman to run the IMF as she assumed office. (REUTERS)

Janet Napolitano #8

Janet Napolitano, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, United States is the eighth most powerful woman in the Forbes list this year. (REUTERS)

Sonia Gandhi #9

United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi is ranked ninth in the Forbes list of 100 most powerful women globally. (AFP)

Indra Nooyi #10

PepsiCo chief Indra Nooyi is the second Indian name to feature in this year’s Forbes list of 100 most powerful women globally. (Photo by Getty Images)

BJP blames UPA policies for poor economic growth


Accusing the government of flip-flops, indecision and mis-governance, the BJP today said its policy paralysis and corruption have affected the country’s growth rate and left its economy in a mess.

Slamming the government for its “failure” to control price rise and inflation, it also demanded an “immediate” roll back of hike in all administrative prices of diesel, gas, petrol, rail and other services “as the common man is reeling under unprecedented economic burden.”

Targeting the government on the issue of corruption, it said, the VVIP helicopter scam and the Farm Loan Waiver scam are the latest additions in this government’s “unending list of corruption.”

“It is fascinating to note that Italy, which was to benefit from the helicopter deal, went after the bribe givers immediately when they got the wind of corruption, while India, the sufferer of this scam is not ready to trace the bribe takers. Mystery still shrouds over the mention of the recipients as ‘the family’,” the BJP Economic Resolution passed at its National Council meeting here said.

It said while the government has ordered a CBI probe, it is not ready to have it monitored by the court.

“It has neither registered FIR nor issued Letters Rogatory (LR). It is offering JPC knowing full well that it cannot investigate and come to conclusion. This fuels speculation that the government is more interested in ensuring a white wash to protect the bribe receivers rather than unearth the truth and punish the guilty,” it said.

It said the biggest failure of the UPA government is its inability to tame inflation and bring down the prices.

Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, while seconding the Economic Resolution, said India will scrap FDI in multi-brand retail policy when BJP-led NDA comes to power.

“Unfortunately, inflation is not the result of any natural disaster but is purely a gift of this government. Bad food stock management and distribution anomalies triggered the inflationary pressure in the first place,” the resolution said.

When the country is required to stock only 30 million tonne of food grains in the godowns, the UPA has stocked a huge quantity of more than 70 million tonne of food grains thereby creating shortages in the market and fuelling prices, the opposition party said.

Drawing comparison of the economic situation of the country between now and the NDA government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the resolution maintained that the BJP-led government inherited a lowly growth rate of 4% in 1998, but due to its commitment to make India an economic superpower, it had put the economy on a fast growth trajectory.

“As a result of the visionary leadership of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, India for the first time in decades witnessed 8.25% growth rate in 2004 when the BJP led NDA government demitted office.”

It said the NDA government had put in place the historic economic legislation – the Fiscal Responsibility and Budgetary Management (FRBM) Act which sought to rein in the fiscal deficit below 3%.

“Ironically, under the Congress leadership, it is the central government that has shown scant commitment towards this resolve while the state governments are instead broadly adhering to the FRBM targets which is reflected in their financial numbers,” the resolution said.

It alleged that inflation and corruption have become the “hallmarks” of the UPA government.

“The country also has to suffer the ignominy of experiencing economic downslide under the leadership of an economist Prime Minister under whom every economic macro-parameter has steadily declined…The BJP holds the Congress led UPA government guilty of non performance, policy paralysis and lack of direction,” the resolution said.

-PTI

Tough times ahead for Rahul, scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family


Rahul Gandhi

 A special Congress session over the weekend formally launched Rahul Gandhi as the official No. 2 after party chief Sonia Gandhi, making him the presumptive prime ministerial candidate of the party for the 2014 general elections, but the battle is half won and tough times lie ahead for the 42-year-old fifth-generation leader of the Nehru-Gandhi family.

Gandhi alluded to the challenges when he talked about the “poison” that came with such heavy political responsibility and the attached personal risks. His mother, who came to his room and cried on Saturday night, perhaps understands it better than anyone else.

Nine assembly polls – five big ones in Delhi, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Chhatisgarh, where the Congress will have direct contest with the Bharatiya Janata Party, and four in the northeast – will test his leadership skills.

The return of the third edition of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance in 2014 will also depend on how the Amethi lawmaker is able to restructure and re-energize the party for the big political fight. He heads the party’s coordination panel for the 2014 polls.

Rahul Gandhi is also expected to give key roles to younger leaders so the party is able to reach out to all voters, 70 per cent of whom are below the age of 35. Connecting with the country’s youths, who are angry over corruption, crave for better systems of governnance and want accountability from politicians, will be a major task for the new Congress vice president.

The Nehru-Gandhi family scion would also be expected to spell out his position on various national issues clearly as he now holds an official post in the Congress.

While any success in the elections will bring him credit, he would also have to accept the blame in case of a failure.

“Rahul Gandhi faces enormous challenges during the coming polls as his leadership skills would be tested,” Zoya Hasan, who teaches political science at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, told IANS.

“His speech after being made vice president pointed out many wrongs in the party. Now he has to set things right,” she said.

The move to make him vice president, which marks a generational shift in the 127-year-old party, is significant. Party insiders said the decision was postponed for a while due to reservations among some senior leaders. But members of the Youth Congress, National Students Union of India and the younger leaders in the party – who comprised a third of the 350-odd delegates at the session – made strong demands for his elevation.

Over 50 senior leaders who shared the dais with Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the session, not only heard Rahul with rapt attention, but stood up as soon as he finished his speech and were seen competing with one another in congratulating him. Rahul had arrived.

In an impassioned speech, Rahul made it clear that he does not hanker for power and stressed the need to transform the party’s systems and develop new leaders at all levels while saying the youths must be involved in decision-making.

Rahul struck an emotional chord when he related how his mother cried when she met him after his appointment.

The question now is whether he will be able to bring the middle class, especially the “restless and impatient” young, to the Congress camp from which they stood quite alienated over perceptions of corruption, misgovernance, inflation and insensitivity to issues that concern them

IANS

Rahul Gandhi aims at transforming India


25.01.2012 Индия политика Рахул Ганди партия Индийский национальный конгресс

Rahul Gandhi, scion of India’s Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty and widely tipped as a future prime ministerial candidate, promised to work to transform the country in a speech Sunday.

Gandhi, 42, son of party head Sonia Gandhi, was elevated to the Congress party‘s vice presidency on Saturday.

He exhorted his party to prepare 40 to 50 leaders who can effectively run the country and called for a greater role for youth in decision-making.

“There is a young and impatient India, demanding a greater voice in the nation’s future,” he told a party conclave in the northern city of Jaipur.

“Our priorities are clear, the time has come to question the centralized, unresponsive and unaccountable systems of decision-making, governance, administration and politics. The answer is not in making the system better, the answer is to completely transform the systems,” he said.

While Congress leaders have maintained that Gandhi’s candidacy will only be decided at a later stage, the Indian media have forecast a face-off between Gandhi and Narendra Modi, a leader from the main opposition Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party.

Mother, I want to live: #Delhi #gangrape victim


Even as Delhi‘s 23-year-old gangrape victim’s condition deteriorated, she has shown immense sipirt to live.

According to television reports, in a written communication to her mother, the girl has said: “Maa, main jeena chahti hoon” (Mother, I want to live).

Several politicians have been visiting the girl at Safdarjung Hospital where she was admitted after being brutally sexually assaulted in a moving bus on Sunday night.

On Tuesday night, Congress president Sonia Gandhi also visited the hospital to meet the rape victim.

Her condition, which had improved a little after she was operated upon on Sunday night, deteriorated Monday evening. Doctors are battling to keep infections at bay as the injuries are extensive. Her platelet count had dropped, with blood pressure being unstable.

The next 24 hours are critical. If she pulls through, her chances of survival will improve, say doctors.

Specialists from AIIMS trauma centre have been called in before doctors decide whether the girl needs to be operated upon further. They hope to curb further spread of infection.

Meanwhile, taking suo motu cognisance of the gruesome incident, Delhi High Court asked Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar to file the status report in two days.

Delhi High Court, which rapped the police for failing to prevent the rape in a moving bus, asked the government to provide best medical facilities to the victim and her friend.

Four of the six men who allegedly raped the girl have been arrested. The driver of the bus, in which she was gangraped and tortured, has been remanded to police custody for five days. Serch is on for two more culprits who are absconding.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has also issued notices to Home Ministry and Delhi Police and sought a report on the incident within two weeks.