Enforcement Directorate officials sent to Singapore on Lalit Modi’s trail
The government on Monday sent Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials to Singapore to expedite the letter rogatory (LR) the agency had sent to the country earlier in the day. This is the first major step against former IPL chief the fugitive Lalit Modi since the controversy involving Modi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje broke out. The ED sent two LRs to Singapore and Mauritius on Monday under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The LRs pertained to the investigation into a deal between Sony’s Singapore based subsidiary Multi Screen Media and World Sports Group, signed by Modi, the LR asks for the banking transactions of both MSM and WSG to investigate their links with Modi.
Maharashtra Education Minister Vinod Tawde facing accusations of irregularities in awarding contract
The finance department has sought a detailed probe into allegations of irregularities in a Rs.191 crore contract awarded by Tawde’s School Education Department without e-tendering. The news broke just days after another Minister in the Maharashtra government, Pankaja Munde, was accused of corruption in awarding a contract worth Rs 206 crore. The current case pertains to the supply of fire extinguishers to 62,105 zila parishad schools in Maharashtra. Following the government’s order, the contract was awarded to Thane based Reliable Fire Engineers on February 27. The finance department’s approval was not taken before signing the rate contract.
UNICEF report indicates a drop in immunization cover in Maharashtra, Gujarat
A survey conducted by United Nations Children’s Fund has thrown up some uncomfortable statistics for the government indicating a drop in the immunization cover in 5 States. The data from the Rapid Survey of Children conducted during 2012-2013 was submitted to the Women and Child Development Ministry which has refused to accept it, questioning the very basis of the survey. This comes amid whispers that the reason behind the government refusal to accept the report maybe the fact that one of the state in which a dip in immunization cover was recorded is the then-Modi ruled Gujarat. The Ministry maintained that the reason for the refusal to the survey was the lack of clarity in the methods used for the survey, what the basis of the survey was and who commissioned the survey.
Turmoil in Assam over National Register of Citizens
The National Register of Citizens based on Independent India’s first census of 1951 is being updated to make it a reference point for checking an individual’s citizenship status. The updating is based on the legacy data comprising two documents-the 1951 NRC and electoral rolls up to the midnight of March 24, 1971. People figuring in these lists and their descendants with proof of linkage are eligible for inclusion, apart from those possessing any or all of 12 sets of citizenship documents like passport, birth certificate. The exercise being conducted by the Assam Government under the guidance of the Registrar General of India has drawn in criticism from various quarters post a statement by CM Tarun Gogoi proposing that the NRC be updated on the basis of latest electoral rolls. The reason for the criticism being that such a revision will allow Bangladeshi immigrants to be considered citizens leading to resentment among indigenous groups.
TAPI pipeline construction set to begin in December
Work on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline is expected to begin in December, according to a statement given by Turkmenistan’s ambassador to India Prakhat H. Durdyev on Monday. In an event organized by the Ananta Apsen Centre on India-Central Asia relations the ambassador also informed those assembled of the interest expressed by countries like Nepal and Bangladesh in joining the project. The comments come ahead of PM Modi’s week-long visit to Central Asian Republics beginning on the 6th of July.
ILO arm protests against government interference
The labour wing of International Labour Organisation (ILO) raised concerns over the Center’s move to restrict outsiders in trade unions. In a statement released on Monday by the desk officer for the Asia and the Pacific region for the ILO Raghwan, it was asserted that the ILO convention allows Trade Unions to decide their structure and the government’s role is that of a facilitator. The Industrial Relations Bill states that only individuals engaged in an industry can become office bearers of a trade union in the formal sector and only two outsiders can become office-bearers in the unorganized sector. The government maintains that the move is aimed at ensuring that the trade unions are a true reflection of the workers and that it is aimed at preventing the politicization of trade unions.
Government considers legal services’ liberalization
Outgoing Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher has stated that a committee of secretaries of the government is looking into the matter of allowing, in a phased manner, foreign legal companies to practice in the country. The secretary went on to state that the move is being considered to introduce competition in the sector but there are no plans to open litigation to foreign companies. The government was in talks with the Bar Council of India and the Society of Indian Law Firms, both representative bodies of the country’s legal sector, and according to the secretary both have agreed to the move.
Armed Forces short on bulletproof vests
The Indian Army is short on bulletproof vests by about 1.86 lacs even though it was cleared by the Defence Acquisition Council way back in October 2009. The army is yet to get lightweight modular jackets almost a decade after it first demanded them, these jackets coupled with ballistic helmets protect the head, neck, chest, groin and sides of soldiers. The Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had last year announced the emergency procurement of 50,000 new jackets, but according to government sources it is set to take another six months at least.
Information Commission orders the release of information on Priyanka Gandhi’s land deal
A full bench of the Himachal Pradesh State Information Commission on Monday directed the Shimla ASM to release information relating to the Priyanka Gandhi land deal within 10 days. The RTI petition seeking information on the land deal filed by RTI activist Dev Ashish Bhattacharya was contested citing security concerns. The commission has also issued notice of penalty for delay and fixed July 23 as next date of hearing.
Report on net neutrality recommends disallowing zero rating plans
The Department of Telecom’s (DoT) report on net neutrality has apparently recommended disallowing the zero rating plans of telcos. The report has further recommended that the government ban throttling and any sort of prioritization of Internet traffic. The report along with the telecom regulator’s recommendation will form the basis of the government’s policy on net neutrality. Net neutrality is a concept that guarantees consumers equal access to all data, apps and services on Internet with no discrimination based on tariff or speed.