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Special rules for India? US protests CAA but accepts only Jews, Evangelical Christians, Ukrainian Catholics and 'certain' Iraqis

An Indian-origin US lawyer has argued on Twitter that the United States’ criticism on India regarding the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was ‘misguided’, adding that US has a version of the CAA that protects religious prosecuted groups.

Rajdeep Singh Jolly took to Twitter to say, “After further study, I believe U.S. criticism of India’s Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was misguided. The law merely reduces wait times for certain persecuted minorities seeking asylum, much like the Lautenberg Amendment under the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) (sic).”

Rajdeep Singh Jolly
After further study, I believe U.S. criticism of India’s Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was misguided. The law merely reduces wait times for certain persecuted minorities seeking asylum, much like the Lautenberg Amendment under the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP).

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12:06 PM - May 17, 2020
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According to Jolly, who shared a screenshot of an Amendment in the US Constitution, certain members of religious minority groups in Eurasia and the Baltics, including Jews, Evangelical Christians and Ukrainian Catholics are considered under a reduced evidentiary standard for establishing a well-founded fear of persecution.

Even Eastern Europe picked and chose the type of refugees they wanted. According to a 2015 report in Quartz, during the peak of the Syria refugee crisis, many Eastern European nations were choosing Christian refugees over Muslims. Slovakia’s interior ministry said it would be willing to take in 200 refugees, but would strongly prefer non-Muslims. ”We want to choose people who really want to start a new life in Slovakia. Slovakia as a Christian country can really help Christians from Syria to find new home in Slovakia,” a spokesperson for the ministry had said at the time.

Several human rights organisations have criticised the Narendra Modi-led administration about the CAA, saying it is ‘unconstitutional’ and a direct target at minority communities, particularly Muslims.

According to the CAA, Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs and Parsi migrants who have illegally entered India in the past five years from Muslim-majority nations such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, are eligible to apply for Indian citizenship. The Centre has excluded Muslims from this list as the other religions, they say, have faced prosecution I in these nations and it is India’s ‘moral obligation’ to provide them shelter. Why is the provision extended only to people of six religions, and not Muslims, and why does it apply only to people coming from these three countries?The Union government claims that people of these six faiths have faced persecution in these three Islamic countries, Muslims haven't. It is, therefore, India's moral obligation to provide them shelter.

India has witnessed nationwide protests over the CAA, with Shaheen Baug in Delhi witnessing protests for nearly a month.

5 reasons that leave many unenthused about the Atma Nirbhar schemes

The Greeks once described man as the only living creature who can stand upright, lift his face to the stars and laugh. Jackals laugh too, but they don’t walk tall and lift their heads high. Human beings want to be proud of their achievements. And you don’t really need a government to tell people to be Atma Nirbhar (self-reliant), unless it is a tacit admission that all along governments did everything to crush the self-reliance of Indians.

The current slew of announcements by the government confirms such fears.

First, India is almost down on its knees. What it needs urgently are investments – from anywhere. And as much as is possible.

For perhaps the first time in its independent history, the country may see a negative GDP growth. Part of it was on account of the lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. But part of the economic disaster the country faces is on account of past policies – ranging from a poorly understood and misapplied demonetisation, a badly implemented GST and a confused approach to law and order itself. Hence investors are shying away from India.

Yes there are fables being told – of how rising labour costs will send investors in China scurrying to India. But a Normura study last year showed that only 3 of 56 companies leaving China came to India . Ditto with the fairytale that the global COVID-19-triggered move to shift logistics away from China will benefit India. Some – foolishly – suggested reserving parcels of land for potential investors. But as CNBC in Indonesia pointed out out on 11 May 2020, “Indonesia won the battle over Southeast Asian countries as a main destination for the relocation of US factories. Trump decided to relocate around 27 US factories from China to Indonesia.” Nobody has moved to India, as yet. So, whom are the policy makers gulling?

Nobody wants to come to India because it is difficult to do business here (though its ranking have improved since 2017. But what has not improved is its inability to enforce contracts. (see chart).


India even changes its business rules, after investors have put in their money. Look at the way the rules of business were changed for wholesale and online trade after Walmart and Amazon entered India. Everyone knows how telecom rules were changed. And now the government wants to disrupt the payment gateway, e-wallet, credit card and debit card markets by changing more rules. Worse, India discourages companies from opting for international arbitration .

Investors enter when their investments are safe and dispute resolution is effective (sadly, the government is the main litigant in half the disputes). Allocating Rs 21 lakh crore (see chart) will not remedy this flaw. It needs integrity and political will. Else the country will experience more pain, poverty and death. Dispute resolution is obviously the key.

There are four other reasons why Atma Nirbhar does not impress many.

Take reason #2. Take the biggest allocation – for MSMEs – in Tranche 1. It allows MSMEs to borrow without collateral. This is what Indira Gandhi did in 1982 with her loan melas. Loans were given without collateral. Much of the money did not come back, as feared by prudent bankers. This will happen again. Moral: Don’t introduce schemes which tempt people to be corrupt. Instead give 2-5% of turnover as a grant to all MSMEs. The honest are then kept honest.

Third, an outlay of Rs.21 lakh crore has been announced. But half the amount relates to measures announced earlier. That, as economist Kaushik Basu has pointed out, is woefully inadequate.

Fourth, there is little audit. Normally, good governance demands that the larger the sums involved, the stronger should be the audit controls. Yet PM CARES (unlike the PM’s National disaster Relief and other funds) is not subject to CAG audit., That does not inspire confidence.

Lastly, there is little vision in the proposals. Nowhere is this more visible than in the proposals for agriculture (tranche 3). This is both surprising and immensely saddening. Agriculture remains the backbone of India where 50% of its population dwells. That is a huge purchasing power for a consumption economy. It is also a huge voting block. Moreover, as studies have shown, a rupee invested in agriculture goes a lot farther than if invested in industry. Yet there is no grand plan, no incentive for investment, no attempt to push agriculture up the value chain.

Instead the government has hobbled agriculture, especially milk, which is the most successful agricultural product. But the lack of vision and the lost opportunities in agriculture, education and healthcare will be grist for another article. The omissions are sad and horrifying.

All sectors will be open for private sector: Nirmala Sitharaman plays the big shot on Day 5

As part of Atmanirbharbharat scheme, the finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, made an announcement that all private sectors will be allowed in all sectors in the country. In the sectors, where there are more than four public sector enterprises (PSEs), she stated, there will be a merger.

She added this decision to increase participation of private players is part of the coherent policy to make India self-sufficient. The Union Minister said, “Public sector will continue to play an important role in defined areas.”

Sitharaman added, “We will define the bareas where their presence will be impactfully felt.”

The government will announce a new policy soon to permit private players into areas where public sector enterprises are heavily present or have a monopoly. She added that the list of strategic sectors requiring presence of PSEs in public interest will be notified. “In strategic sectors, at least one enterprise will remain in the public sector but private sector will also be allowed. In other sectors, PSEs will be privatised.” But this move is subjected to timing that is based on feasibility, among other things.

This decision is made to minimise wasteful administrative costs, and bring down the number of public sector enterprises in strategic sectors and other areas


'Why didn't you carry their suitcase or children?': Nirmala Sitharaman slams Rahul Gandhi's 'sit-in' with migrants

On Sunday, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman took a break from announcing new reforms in the fifth tranche to lash out at Congress and the Opposition parties.

Urging Opposition parties to work together for migrants, she said the Centre was working with states and lashed out at the Congress, ‘begging Sonia Gandhi to speak more responsibly to deal with migrants’.

Answering a question by a journalist about Opposition criticism, she said that PM Modi had asked migrants to stay in states and that the government was trying its best to help migrants.

Watch from 1:37:00:

She asked why Congress state governments weren’t asking for more trains to help migrants.

Taking particular umbrage with Rahul Gandhi sitting with migrants yesterday, she labelled the act ‘dramebaaz’ and begged the opposition to ‘stop its politics’.

She asked Rahul Gandhi why he didn't help the migrants. She said: "Was this the time? Wasn't that drama? Why are you wasting their time? Why didn't you carry their suitcase or their children?"

She further said: “With folded hands, I want to ask Sonia Gandhi, let us speak responsibly. Let us deal with our migrants more responsibly.”

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi met a group of migrant labourers walking back to their village in Uttar Pradesh near the Sukhdev Vihar flyover near the Delhi-Faridabad Border and interacted with them for an hour on Saturday.

The party on Saturday released photograph and video clips of Rahul Gandhi talking with the group, including women and children, who were walking from their work site near Ambala in Haryana to their village near Jhansi, a distance of over 700 km.

The Congress leader sat on the footpath on the Mathura Road with the group and heard them out, said a party leader.

The Congress later alleged that the police had taken the labourers in preventive custody following directions from the "top to do so."

Later, the opposition party arranged transport to sent the group to their destination.

"Adhering strictly to the law, at the request of Rahul Gandhi, volunteers of Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee have stepped up help the migrants returning to their native villages," said a close aide of the Congress leader.

No fresh insolvency proceeding will be allowed for up to one year: Nirmala Sitharaman

At the last press briefing on the Rs 20 lakh crore package, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman stated that no fresh insolvency proceedings will be initiated against any companies impacted due to COVID-19 for up to one year.

The minister also stated that the minimum threshold to initiate insolvency proceedings be raised to Rs 1 crore (from Rs 1 lakh, which largely insulates MSMEs).

The union minister added that debts related to COVID-19 will be excluded from the 'default' category under Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC).

She added the special insolvency resolution framework for MSMEs under Section 240A of the Code to be notified soon. “There is no clarity how long it will take for companies to recover. So, this decision was taken.” She added this law will be passed as an ordinance. “We will take it to the Parliament, when it resumes.”


Good news for state govt: Centre increases states' borrowing limits from 3% to 5% for FY2020-21

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday said that the Centre has now increased the states borrowing limit from 3% to 5% for the Financial Year 2020-21.

Nirmala Sitharaman said that the States have so far borrowed only 14 percent of the limit which is authorised to them and 86 percent of the limit still remains unutilised. Several State government had requested that the Centre releases more funds to tackle the coronavirus crisis.

"However, Centre has decided to increase borrowing limits of states from 3 percent to 5 percent of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) for 2020-21."

With this, the Centre will provide States extra resources worth Rs. 4.28 lakh crore.

Further, Sitharaman said that Centre, like the states, has faced a sharp decline in revenues and despite this the Centre has consistently extended generous support to states in this hour of need.

Devolution of taxes worth Rs 46,038 crore in April was given fully even though actual revenue shows unprecedented decline from Budget Estimates.

She said that the Revenue Deficit Grants to states worth Rs 12,390 crore was given on time in April and May, despite Centre's stressed resources

Advance release of SDRF funds worth Rs. 11,092 crore in first week of April was also done, she added.

At Centre's request, RBI has increased Ways & Means Advance limits of States by 60%.

In addition to this number of days state can be in continuous overdraft from 14 days to 21 days has now been increased to quarter from 32 to 50 days in a quarter.

On Sunday, Sitharaman announcing the last tranche of the economic package, said that today 7 measures will be announced. This includes MNREGA scheme, Rural and urban health and education, businesses, decriminalization of Companies Act, ease of doing businesses and COVID-19, public sector enterprises-related and state government and resources for state government.


Here's what we know about the 24 migrant labourers who were killed in a truck accident in UP's Auraiya

Auraiya: As many as 24 labourers were killed and several were injured after the truck they were traveling in, collided with another truck in Auraiya, Uttar Pradesh on Saturday morning.

According to the officials, the incident occurred at around 3.30 am. All the labourers were mostly from Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.

Speaking to ANI, Archana Srivastava Chief Medical Officer, Auraiya said that 15 people have been referred to Saifai PGI.

"24 people were brought dead, 22 have been admitted and 15 who were critically injured have been referred to Saifai PGI. They were going to Bihar and Jharkhand from Rajasthan," Archana told ANI.


"The accident took place in Mihauli in which 24 people died, and around 15 were injured. A trailer truck carrying around 50 migrant labourers was coming from Rajasthan and it collided with a DCM truck.

The accident took place on Saturday between 3.00 am and 3.30 am," Circle Officer, Auraiya, Surendranath Yadav told PTI.

"The DCM truck was coming from Delhi and heading towards Chhatarpur in Madhya Pradesh. The trailer truck hit the DCM vehicle. Both the vehicles turned upside down after losing control," he said.

When asked to elaborate further on the reasons which led to the incident, Yadav said, "We spoke to some of the survivors of the accident. Even they could not recall how the accident took place."

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has directed Commissioner and Inspector General Kanpur to visit the site and give the report on the cause of the accident immediately.

"Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has taken note of the unfortunate incident in Auraiya. He has expressed his deepest condolences to the families of the labourers who lost their lives," Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Awanish Awasthi told ANI.

"Chief Minister has also directed that all the injured be provided medical care immediately and the Commissioner and IG Kanpur to visit the site and give the report on the cause of the accident immediately," Awasthi added.


In exchange for HCQ tablets, Donald Trump says US will send ventilators to India to battle coronavirus

President Donald Trump has announced that the US will donate ventilators to India, moments after he underlined the close partnership between the two countries and called Prime Minister Narendra Modi his "good friend".

India's tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases crossed 85,000 on Friday, surpassing China's count of 82,933 confirmed cases.

"I am proud to announce that the United States will donate ventilators to our friends in India," Trump tweeted on Friday. However, the White House did not say how many breathing devices would be sent.

"We are sending a lot of ventilators to India. I spoke to Prime Minister Modi. We are sending quite a few ventilators to India. We have tremendous supply of ventilators," Trump told reporters before boarding Marine One on his way to Camp David.

The president is scheduled to spend his weekend at Camp David for a number of meetings.

At Trump's request, India had last month allowed the export of 50 million hydroxychloroquine tablets to treat COVID-19 patients in America, the country worst hit by the pandemic.

Earlier in the day, Trump praised India and Prime Minister Modi. "India has been so great and as you know your prime minister has been a very good friend of mine. I just got back a short while ago from India and we are very much together," the president said, referring to his visit to New Delhi, Ahmedabad and Agra in February.

During a press briefing, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said, "The president just extolled our great relationship with India. India has been a great partner to us for quite sometime. I am encouraged to hear ventilators to India." She said India would be among several countries that would getting the ventilators.

Trump on Friday said the US and India are cooperating to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. "Together we will beat the invisible enemy! We stand with India and Prime Minister Modi during this pandemic," Trump told reporters in the Rose Garden of the White House.

Trump has also lauded Indian-Americans scientists and researchers for their efforts in developing medicines and vaccine for the the deadly coronavirus.

"We have a tremendous Indian population in the United States and many of the people that you are talking about are working on the vaccine too. Great scientists and researchers," Trump said.

This is the first time that a president has recognised the scientific and research talent of the Indian American community.

A large number of scientists are engaged in cutting edge research in various aspects of medical science, including at the National Institute of Health, universities, research institutes and bio-pharma startups.

He said a COVID-19 vaccine would likely be available by the end of the year. He has announced appointing former head of vaccines at GlaxoSmithKline to spearhead the vaccine development effort.


Coronavirus in Mumbai: BMC teachers assume the role of watch guards; allege they are being 'forced' into the role without protective equipment, training

Mumbai: Over 554 BMC teachers and nonteaching staff from the distant suburbs of Kalyan, Kasara, Karjat, Titwala, Virar and Bhayandar have been mandated to work as support staff at Covid-19 hospitals, quarantine centres, containment zones and ward offices in Mumbai.

Teachers have revealed they are being forced to take up the role of watch guards without any training, lack of personal protective equipment and are being suspended if they fail to report for duty for more than two days in a row. Teachers and non-teaching staff say they are working in three 7-8 hour shifts every day.

Requesting anonymity, a teacher said, "We have to sit in a tent outside quarantine centres and containment zones, to oversee if food is being delivered to patients, whether doctors are coming for regular check-ups and to monitor public adherence to quarantine rules. We have to serve as watch guards for seven to eight hours every day.


Some of us do not have proper masks, face shields or hand sanitisers." Since some of them commute from far-off areas by bus or civic vehicle, they are late to work sometimes; and, for this infraction, they are suspended.

A staffer posted at the NSCI Dome, Worli, which has been turned into a quarantine facility, said, "We are suspended if we are late for our shift or if we are absent for more than two consecutive days. Every day, we are travelling for two to three hours from far-off suburbs and there are no trains. It is unfair that we are forced to risk our lives."

Further, this assignment is not voluntary but mandatory, revealed Swapna Kshirsagar, BMC ward officer of F/South ward (Parel and Dadar east area). Kshirsagar said, "We have received directions from the municipal commissioner.

Teachers and non-teaching staff have to serve as support staff on mandatory basis." Though this decision is being enforced by the BMC administration, the civic education department has not authorised it, nor has the teachers' consent been obtained.

MBMC Education Officer Mahesh Palkar said, "We have not received any directions from the education department." According to Sainath Durge, BMC education committee member, "If teachers and staff are facing issues then they can approach the BMC for necessary measures."

Though this decision is being enforced by the BMC administration, the civic education department has not authorised it, nor has the teachers' consent been obtained. BMC Education Officer Mahesh Palkar said, "We have not received any directions from the education department." According to Sainath Durge, BMC education committee member, "If teachers and staff are facing issues, then they can approach the BMC for necessary measures."


'Complete your Yale degree': Smriti Irani trolled for saying 'ration provided to 80 crore families in India'

Union Minister Smriti Irani is back at headlining for her latest statement on a news channel's LIVE debate. Irani during an interaction with Aaj Tak journalist Anjana Om Kashyap asserted that the Modi government had provided ration to 80 crore families in India.

However the statement didn’t sit well with many social media users who called out Irani for her math gaffe. Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill reacted saying, "We should immediately start CAA exercise to locate our lost citizens coz Census has been lying that India’s population is 135+ Cr whereas PM says India has 600 Cr voters & as per Smriti Irani Indi- has 80 Cr families (x4 = 320 cr people); It will be Anti-National not to find them."

Jaiveer Shergill

We should immediately start CAA exercise to locate our lost citizens coz Census has been lying that India’s population is 135+ Cr whereas PM says India has 600 Cr voters & as per Smriti Irani Indi- has 80 Cr families (x4 = 320 cr people); It will be Anti-National not to find them

9:58 AM - May 15, 2020
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Another user commented, "Even if a family has just 3 members, it will come to 240 crs and India's total population is just 136 crores. At least make your lies little reasonable. Lockdown time is being used productively by Smriti Irani in doing PhD in stupidity."

Even if a family has just 3 members , it will come to 240 crs and India's total population is just 136 crores. Atleast make your lies
little reasonable.

Lockdown time is being used productively by Smriti Irani in doing PhD in stupidity.

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5:24 AM - May 15, 2020
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Cow Momma
Government has provided free rations to 80 crore families.
- Smriti Irani.
No. of households in India = 25 Crore. 

Who exactly is this govt. feeding? Pakistanis? Chinese?