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Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) receives lesser attention.

In contrast to developments in Pakistan and India Pakistan relations, Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) receives relatively lesser attention. In the case of both its units – ‘Gilgit Baltistan’ and Ázad Kashmir’ India has however vital interests. Recent developments in India Pakistan relations, tensions on the LOC and finally, domestic developments in Pakistan itself have impacted this constituent part of Jammu and Kashmir in different ways further highlighting the anomalies of its juridical and constitutional status. The strategic dimensions of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK)
as a whole are also changing with the qualitatively new interface that has developed between Pakistan and China in recent years.
New Delhi, September 26th, 2017:
Ananta Aspen Centre organized an interactive session on “Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and Cross Border Linkages” with Ambassador S K Lambah, Chairman, Ananta Aspen Centre and Former Special Envoy of the Prime Minister of India, Ambassador TCA Raghavan, Adviser, Ananta Centre and Former High Commissioner of India to Pakistan and Dr. Ashok Behuria, Senior Fellow and Coordinator of the South Asia Centre, The Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA).
Ambassador Lambah in his remarks took us back to the history and establishment of PoK. What is PoK? Why is it such a sensitive subject to both Pakistan and India? He shared that PoK is divided into 3 major parts: Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), Northern Kashmir and Pakistan. He mentioned that Azad Jammu and Kashmir council heads PoK which is governed by the Prime Minister of Pakistan. According to him the biggest failure of the Indian Foreign Services has been its inability to project the condition of PoK to the world.
A vital part of the session was the discussion about Gilgit Baltistan. Ambassador Raghavan pointed out that Gilgit Baltistan was only the Shia majority of Pakistan. This has reduced from 85% to 65% in recent years. Gilgit Baltistan was formed in 1993 due to judicial process and not due to popular protests. Ambassador Raghavan quoted “Gilgit Baltistan was a sacrificial goat for AJK”. We should remember that the people of Gilgit Baltistan do not like to be absorbed into AJK.
They consider themselves a different entity. Protests have been taking place in Baltistan on “No Taxation without representation”. Dr Ashok Behuria provided detailed remarks on the governance of different regions of PoK and
mentioned that China is now reluctant to invest in Pakistan. It was observed that the SinoPakistan relations are now dominated by economic and not political ties. The Karakoram Highway was built by the governments of Pakistan and China. It was started in 1959 and was opened to the public in 1979. This highway connected the Gilgit Baltistan region to the ancient Silk Road from Kashgar to Abbottabad. 80% of the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) route will pass through Gilgit Baltistan. The implications of this scenario were discussed in the session. It is
speculated that people are demanding inclusion of Giglit Baltistan in Pakistan because of Chinese influence.
About Ananta Aspen Centre:
Engaging India, Nurturing Change Ananta Aspen Centre is an educational and policy studies organisation based in New Delhi. It focusses on values based leadership and open dialogue on challenges facing Indian society to help foster its transformation. The Centre engages civil society, business, governments and other key stakeholders to share ideas and bring a wide range of perspectives on issues important to India’s development, foreign policy, strategic affairs and national security. Ananta Aspen Centre is an independent non-profit organization registered under the Indian Trusts Act and under 12A and 80G of the Income Tax Act.
For more information, contact: Ms Vaishnavi Mulay | Mobile: +91 8920 871106 /011-40733312
Email: vaishnavi.mulay@anantacentre.in

Manish  Sisodia: Indian economy economy in peril

Delhi Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister  Manish  Sisodia issued the following statement on the worrying condition of the country’s economy :  
Two former Finance Ministers of India, Mr Yashwant Sinha and Mr P Chidambaram, both of whom have presented atleast 10 union budgets between them, have sound a very serious alarm on the current situation of Indian economy.
Mr Yashwant Sinha has today reiterated what many leading economists have been saying since recent months that –  INDIAN ECONOMY IS ALREADY IN A MESS, IT IS FURTHER HEADED FOR DISASTER.
The current worrying condition of Indian economy, which is a matter of national concern and not a party specific issue is because the individuals running the Central Government have little understanding of economic policies.
From fastest growing economy, the Modi government has thrown the Indian economy into a free fall, which will have disastrous consequences for the country.    
How has the BJP’s Central government Driven India’s Economy into Ground

Point 1 – BJP came to power in 2014 on the promise of complete economic transformation of the country. As Yashwant Sinha ji expressed today, it seems the BJP has achieved its goal in three years. The country’s economy is in complete shambles.
  • All key economic indicators show that the Economy is going through its worst in many years. From being world’s fastest-growing major economy just one year ago, we have become a “free-fall economy” with slow growth, low investmentand no jobs.
o   Lowest GDP growth rate since 2014 – Our growth rate has fallen consistently over the last six quarters from 9.1% in Jan-Mar 2016 to 5.7% last quarter – the lowest since 2014. This is a catastrophic fall especially since 1 per cent lower annual GDP growth = loss of Rs 1.5 lakh crore national income and loss of millions of jobs. Manufacturing and Agriculture sectors, which employ a majority of Indians, have suffered the worst decline.
o   Lowest Private Investment in 25 years – Fresh investments by the country’s top 1000 non-financial companies hit a new low of just 5.8% growth in fiscal year (FY) 2016-17, the slowest since 1992. In absolute terms, these companies invested only Rs 2.07 lakh crore in FY17 as against an all time high of Rs 5.7 lakh crore in FY 14.
o   Lowest Job Creation in 8 years–Most worryingly, the state of the economy throws into dark the future of 1.2 crore Indian youth entering the job market every year. PM Modi promised to create 1 crore jobs every year and launched Skill India, Startup India and Make in India. None of these have worked so far as official figures from the Labour Bureau show that only 1.55 lakh jobs were created in 2015 and 2.31 lakh jobs in 2016. Besides manufacturing, massive job cuts are being reported from service industries such as IT and Banking.

(The picture of gloom in Indian economy is being echoed everywhere – all of the country’s financial media houses, most reputed industry leaders (SBI, Hindustan Lever, L&T etc.) have all expressed that the economy is in crisis.)

The big question therefore is how did we get here?

Point 2 – Decisions have been based solely on political rhetoric rather than sound economics or common sense. As a result, major financial reforms have been botched up
  • Demonetisation was a complete failure– We all know whose decision was it. It’s clear now that Demo had negligibleimpact on black money, and ended upcreating an unprecedented crisis in agriculture and SME sectors. The unprecedented spate of farm loan waivers by several state governments are the legacy of demonetisation. Overall, 15 lakh jobs were lost and 150 people died due to hardship caused by demonetisation. Who is answerable for this man-made disaster?
  • Botched up GST design and rollout– GST was widely accepted as a positive reform for the Indian economy. But thanks to this government’s incompetence, today we have among the most complicated GST structure globally which is causing severe compliance issues, lower than expected tax collections and a crisis-like situation in sectors such as textile[1].Moreover, tax slabs of many items are as high as 28%. In comparison, Delhi’s experience – based on sound economics – shows that reducing tax rates to 5% or 10% increases compliance and overall tax collections.
  • Raid Raj– Post demonetisation and GST rollout, Raid Raj is now an accepted way of functioning in the Finance Ministry. In February this year, Section 132 of the IT Act was amended to legalise tax raids on people based on mere suspicion or unsubstantiated rumour. In comparison, Delhi has shown in the last 2 years that putting a complete stop to Raid Raj only boosts confidence among the traders and industry and spurts economic growth.
  • Formation of Economic Advisory Council after 3 years– acceptance that decisions in past 3 years were devoid of sound economics

Point 3 – Strong economies cannot be built on a foundation of fear and intolerance
  • India’s greatest strength has been its culture of tolerance and protection of constitutional rights
  • However, over the last 3 years, a climate of hate and intolerance is being systematically propagated by the ruling party. Journalists are being killed, media has been become state puppet and opposition parties are being victimised through state institutions.
  • Even the former RBI governor and one of world’s topmost economists, Raghuram Rajan, said earlier this month that intolerance will derail India’s economic growth.


Point 4 – Difficult yet most urgent structural reforms have been ignored because they they are not glamorous
  • Issue of NPAs– Right from when this government took charge in 2014, it was clear that NPA issue in Indian Banking sector was the severest in its history. Three years have passed, and the problem has only worsened and reach to the point of Rs 8 lakh crore in loan defaults. This is adversely affecting private investment and job growth
  • Black money– Tall claims have been made that this government was serious is tackling black money. Yet, there has been no action on the Swiss bank accounts and Panama papers issue.
  • Monetary Policy– RBI has been too inflation focused leading to artificially high interest rates and dampening of investment and consumption
  • Minimum wages– Private consumption will increase only if there is more disposable income in each household. While the Centre has accepted the 7th Pay Commission Recommendations, what about minimum wages in all sectors including for NREGA workers? Earlier this year, Delhi government took a historic decision on this front and increased  minimum wages for unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled workers by 37%

The Aam Aadmi Party demands that Modi government should take immediate corrective measures to save the country from an economic disaster. It should not sit in ego and must consult all stakeholders, including elected state governments on how to salvage the situation.

Reforming personal laws: Dr Farrah Ahmed

Dr Farrah Ahmed is an Associate Professor at Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne. Before this, she was a Lecturer in Law at the Queen’s College, University of Oxford.
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Dr Farrah  talk  defend a proposal that seeks to address the stalemate that has arisen in Indian family law from the tension between a constitutional directive to enact a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) and the deep concerns about the UCC as well as how it is debated. It will defend the implementation of a UCC in India supplemented by a well-regulated state-recognised regime of religious ADR. The hallmark of this proposal, setting it apart from informal dispute resolution systems already widely practised in India (in khap panchayats, for instance), is that its outcomes would be recognised and enforced by the state if minimum thresholds of justice and fairness are met. It is hoped that a proposal of this kind would help the many citizens who lack access to affordable, speedy and accessible justice.
Image may contain: 1 person, sitting, table and indoor
Farrah’s research spans public law, legal theory and family law. Her recent work on constitutional statutes, religious freedom, the doctrine of legitimate expectations, the duty to give reasons, social rights adjudication and religious tribunals has been published in the Cambridge Law Journal, the Modern Law Review, the Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, Public Law, and Child and Family Law Quarterly. Her book Religious Freedom under the Personal Law System was published by Oxford University Press in 2016
Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting and indoor

Japan snap general election on October 22nd

Japan’s Lower House of the Diet is dissolved for a snap election. Japan’s Cabinet has set the date for a snap general election on October 22nd. The campaign will begin on October 10th.
On Thursday, the Lower House speaker read the official declaration to dissolve the chamber. Some opposition members boycotted the session, accusing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of avoiding a debate over alleged influence peddling scandals.
After the session, Abe told members of his Liberal Democratic Party to get ready for the election.
Abe says he wants a fresh mandate on how to use the expected revenue from a scheduled consumption tax increase in 2019. He also wants voters to assess how he is handling the growing threat from North Korea.
The leader of the main opposition Democratic Party is considering a possible merger with a new party launched by Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike. Seiji Maehara is expected to let members run as candidates of Koike’s party.
The Tokyo Governor’s new party called “Hope” is shaking up the political landscape. In July, Koike’s party trounced Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party in the Tokyo municipal election. She is now taking that momentum to the national level. But Koike says she is not thinking about a merger with the Democrats.

Dear Sagar Media Inc, Education has turned into a business.

Dear Sagar Media Inc,
Education has turned into a business.
Private schools are increasing their fees every year.
Run by the education mafia schools are looting, harassing and even threatening helpless parents.
And no one is stopping them.
Sign my petition and hold these schools accountable.
Caught between inefficient government schools and the expensive private ones, it’s the middle class that is suffering.
Forced to pay for an education which does not even guarantee our child’s safety.
So where is all this money going?
Sagar Media Inc, it’s high time the HRD ministry steps in and stops this loot.
A central legislation regulating fee hikes is the need of the hour.
Schools should be stopped from indulging in such profiteering.
Fee hike affects each one of us. If we all unite and take a stand the government will be forced to listen to us.
Sign my petition and demand a central law to regulate fee hikes in private schools across India.
Thank you for your support.
Anubha
Petitioning Prakash Javdekar, Arvind Kejriwal, Anil Swaroop, Manish Sisodia
Central law to regulate fee hike across private schools in India
Sign my petition
Sign my petition
The person (or organisation) who started this petition is not affiliated with Change.org. Change.org did not create this petition and is not responsible for the petition content.
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