BJP gains big in Bodoland, to back new ally to take power in council - The Daily Guardian
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BJP gains big in Bodoland, to back new ally to take power in council

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GUWAHATI/NEW DELHI: Assam’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will support its new ally—United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL)—to take power in the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) as the results of the elections to the 40-member autonomous body threw up a fractured mandate even as the saffron party made big gains.

The BJP and the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) had fought against each other in the BTC polls despite ruling Assam together along with the Asom Gana Parishad.

Accompanied by Finance and Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Sunday announced that student leader-turned-politician Pramod Boro, president of the UPPL, would be the new chief of BTC.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP president J.P. Nadda congratulated Sonowal, Sarma and Assam party chief Ranjit Kumar Das for the party’s success in the BTC polls, which were held in two phases on December 7 and 10 and result declared on Saturday and Sunday.

The BJP, which heads Assam’s ruling coalition, has emerged as the major winner as the party has won in nine seats this time. It had managed just one seat in the last BTC polls in 2015.

The BPF, which has been ruled the BTC ever since 2005 after the tribal autonomous body was constituted in 2003 as a political solution to Bodo agitation for a separate state, has won 17 seats this time while UPPL got 12 seats. The opposition Congress and Gana Suraksha Parishad managed to get one seat each.

Shah, greeting the Assam Chief Minister and BJP leaders, said: “NDA secured a comfortable majority in Assam BTC election. Congratulations to our ally UPPL, CM Sarbananda Sonowal, state President Ranjit Kumar Das, Himanta Biswa Sarma and state BJP unit. I thank people of Assam for their continued faith in PM Narendra Modi’s resolve towards a developed Northeast.”

Nadda, in a tweet, said: “Congratulations to NDA partner UPPL and Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal, Astate President Ranjit Kumar Das, senior minister Himanta Biswa Sarma for securing clear majority in Assam BTC election. The result shows the faith of people in the leadership and policies of Hon PM Narendra Modi Ji.”

Sonowal said: “My cabinet colleague and NEDA (North East Democratic Alliance) convenor Himanta Biswa Sarma has already said the UPPL, BJP and GSP will form the council together. Pramod Boro would be the Chief Executive Member and his deputy will be from the BJP.”

“The people in the Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) have shown they want peace, stability and development. Possibly for the first time, the BTC elections were held in a very peaceful and democratic manner besides the participation of all sections of people overwhelming,” he said after the meeting with leaders of all winning parties.

The BTC election was held after a Bodo peace accord was signed in New Delhi on January 27 by the leaders of all four factions of the NDFB including Boro, besides Sonowal.

The BTC election is dubbed as the semi-final to the 126-member Assam Assembly poll due in April-May next year. The BTC administers four districts—Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalguri—in northwest Assam bordering West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh and Bhutan.

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GLAD THAT I LISTENED TO MY INSTINCTS: TANUJ VIRWANI

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Tanuj Virwani, who has won a lot of accolades for his role in ‘The Tattoo Murders’, recently joined NewsX for an exclusive interview as part of NewsX India A-List and opened up about his current projects and how the pandemic has been affecting him.

Tanuj Virwani is an actor and model, who has won a lot of accolades for his role in ‘The Tattoo Murders’ on Disney+Hotstar, and yet again he packed with a powerful role as ACP Aditya in ‘Murder Meri Jaan’ streaming on Disney + Hotstar alongside Barkha Singh. Along with being an actor he has shown a keen interest in direction and writing and has made several socially relevant short films. Tanuj recently joined NewsX for an exclusive interview as part of NewsX India A-List and talked about how his current projects and roles in it and how the pandemic has been affecting him.

When asked about what convinced the director and also him to do the role in his recent film ‘Tattoo Murders’, Tanuj shared with us, “If you propose that question in front of our director Shravan sir maybe he will ask what convinced Tanuj to do the role. It was sort of a perfect role because I think I was also itching to do something different. Since I have started getting work, I have been offered an array of roles such as after ‘Inside Edge’ I have been offered interesting projects. It was more urban in the treatment of how those characters lived, and I specifically felt that with the character of Prabhat Pratap on ‘Tattoo Murders’, it offered me the chance to do something drastically different and I like to experiment.”

“On this particular project, I did not have the sort of pressure to carry a shoot but I was okay to try something different because sometimes you will pass with flying colours and audience will embrace it or sometimes just mixed reactions. But if you don’t try, if you don’t take that first step into the water you will never know whether you can sink or swim. I think the OTT platform also largely should be credited because it really gives us as actors a lot more scope for experimentation, shoots and even films.”

When asked about how appealing the role was to him, the actor replied, “Absolutely, the one thing I am happy having seen the show entirely is that our director who is also one of the writers on the show was kind of able to read it in the authenticity that was present in the writing. Many times what happens is that things get lost in translation, you might read a script and whereas the whole story may appeal to you but when you see the way it’s finally done on the screen executed very differently. In this particular case, I feel Shravan sir has done an excellent job of maintaining the authenticity and it’s very raw and very edgy because there’s no sex involved in a lot of projects was involved shooting in real life which I think will be impossible during a pandemic but we finished shooting just before Covid has hit.”

When asked about his success with digital platforms, Tanuj said, “I think just the visibility of what OTT platform offers to actors like myself and many others in my position is insane. I still remember when I was signed on ‘Inside Edge’ and we were shooting back in 2016, a lot of us were very cautiously optimistic that we know we are making something cool and interesting but no one could have in their wildest dreams thought like the impact it could have. Today when you look at the entire landscape of entertainment in our country it has just shifted so dramatically and has given birth to so many wonderful actors and I consider myself very fortunate that I am an active actor at this point of my career who is getting these opportunities. I am just so glad that I listened to my instincts and it has given me even more confidence on going ahead to trust my instincts.”

While talking about his next upcoming movie, the actor shared with us and said, “The lineup seems to be very solid right now so I believe my next release would be a show called ‘Tandoor’ that is based on a Tandoor murder case that happened in Delhi in 1995 and I am portraying the role of the person who was responsible for it and it’s a miracle to get that on Covid situation. I have got another show coming up with Barkha Singh so I am looking forward to it as it has given me another opportunity to do other works. There is one upcoming project which I am passionate about with the mafia in Bombay city because it’s again a very different kind of project.”

When asked how the actor himself has adjusted to the pandemic situation, Tanuj revealed, “Everybody collectively put our guards down and we are in a probably worst situation than from last year. I would like to say is that we all have been redirecting for the last year about social distancing, sanitisation and wearing masks and hence I request viewers to take of themselves and others around especially those who are vulnerable. It has been frustrating for me also but whenever I put on television I consider myself extremely fortunate and grateful to be in the position that I am and there is so much to look forward to in life and I am sure few years from now when we will look back at this as learning curve thinking and how we lived through it and we survived.”

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Cryptocurrencies: Regulation is the constructive way forward

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Is the wave of cryptocurrency a destructive tsunami that shall annihilate the financial system or a lucrative opportunity that ought to be pushed towards profitable shores? Given that the first cryptocurrency, bitcoin, traded at $0.08 when it was created in 2009, even after accounting for its significant fluctuations, its current value of $35,876, is enough to make jaws drop and eyes roll. 

What makes cryptocurrency so valuable despite it having no intrinsic value? Top cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum and Bitcoin trade at amounts that are unthinkable for an intangible piece of code. While this can be baffling, on deeper scrutiny, print money’s valuation is equally without any intrinsic value. Once the gold standard was removed in the 1930s as a basis to value fiat currency, the central bank of a country was effectively the sole determinator of its value. So the RBI dictates the value of the Rupee and if it decides to devalue it against the dollar or print more money, it can easily do so. However, there is still a level of stability associated with the value of the rupee owing to several factors on the demand and the centralised nature of its regulation, as is true of most fiat currency from stable economies. On the other hand, it begs the question of whether a currency whose value can fluctuate from $58,000 to $30,000 on an Elon Musk tweet can be said to have any level of stability.  

The value of cryptocurrency is derived from demand and supply, media forecasts and finite coin mining. Being platformed on blockchain technology and a decentralised distributed ledger system it has no central authority which approves and maintains a record of the database and determines its value. Despite the banking system being one of the oldest institutions backed by the Central government, the absence of an intermediary has not stalled the growth of cryptocurrencies because it has developed on a peer to peer network, being freely tradable by individuals and vesting control directly into the hands of the owner. Its convertibility into fiat currency is also at the behest of individuals who, through exchanges, are perfectly happy accepting it as tender which constitutes a discharge of debt. 

Moving forward, there is great uncertainty about the place of cryptocurrencies in the formal economy on account of the concerns of the state-regulated banking system. Lately, the Chinese government, amongst others, has vowed to crackdown on crypto-exchanges amidst growing leakages from their financial system. El Salvador, in stark contrast, became the first country to formally introduce cryptocurrency in its financial system and recognise it as legal tender. Several countries stand between these two extremes and recognise cryptocurrency in a limited capacity by regulating its use. India is at such an inflection point and must decide which path to follow. 

As with most significant technological developments, India viewed cryptocurrency with scepticism but did little about it from 2008 till sometime in 2018, when the RBI decided to come out with a circular that disallowed banks from allowing persons to trade in cryptocurrency. That step was taken without the legislature disallowing trade in cryptocurrency, so it effectively never made cryptocurrency illegal but created a surrogate ban for its official trade. The result was cryptocurrency exchanges relocating themselves outside of India and those wanting to trade in cryptocurrency proceeding to do it from outside the country. The RBI’s circular was struck down by the Supreme Court in its judgment in Internet and Mobile Association of India v RBI, which meant that crypto-currency, never considered illegal in India, could be traded and conversions into fiat currency done through the formal banking channel. However, as with most things, matters did not end with the Supreme Court’s decision. The recent experience with cross border trade in cryptocurrency in violation of foreign exchange guidelines served as another important reminder that regulation, and not prohibition, is the way forward. The cryptocurrency exchange WazirX was put on notice by the Enforcement Directorate for the alleged violation of foreign exchange laws. 

Rather than a blanket or a surrogate ban, acknowledging that the Indian authorities are well within their rights to prosecute the unauthorised and illegal use of cryptocurrency is the way to serve all stakeholders and is better in the long run, even from a tax collection standpoint. Allowing interested traders to access the market through legitimate and regulated means would help negate many of the worries associated with cryptocurrency transactions. Banning cryptocurrency is likely to further incentivise investment through the black market thereby leading to even more leakages from the formal economy. 

India can take several cues from beyond its borders on how to approach the regulation of cryptocurrency. The European Union, while cautioning against the dangers of cryptocurrencies, has permitted its use by regulating it. Cryptocurrency trading is also permitted in the USA, UK, Canada, Brazil and Russia, amongst others. For example, in the USA, people who trade in cryptocurrencies must follow centralised regulations and must register with accredited bodies to enforce anti-money laundering programs, keep appropriate records and make reports to FinCEN. With the active monitoring of such reports, it is possible to regulate the entire market holistically to avoid funding criminal activities such as terrorism. 

With carefully crafted safeguards most of these concerns can be tamed. The potential for cryptocurrencies to destabilise the system can be addressed by simple checks such as permitting trading only through exchanges and limiting deposits and withdrawals. By placing limits on the volume of sales and purchases as a percentage of the total holding, the volatility can be controlled in the same manner as the stock market. That said, while there have been talks of cryptocurrency regulation in India and several policy papers, they have not materialised into a proper regulation. A bill in Parliament proposes criminal penalties for mining, holding, selling, trading, issuance, disposal, or use of cryptocurrency and at the same time introduces the Digital Rupee as the RBI backed digital currency. However, that was followed by a ministerial press statement that suggested that even if the bill was tabled for the RBI to launch a Digital Rupee, it would not criminalise cryptocurrency. That bill is yet to be tabled. Further, high echelons of the government and in particular the Finance Ministry have made positive statements to the media on the subject, which shines a bright ray of hope, but not without the usual policy surprises.  

The question is whether India wants to follow China or embrace the winds of change with strong controls that are in sync with the liberal free-market economy. By embracing new technologies in our democratic and progressive nation, the twin objective of strengthening the dream of a digital India and not missing on the Blockchain revolution will become a reality. Gautam Buddha’s adage holds true even in today’s world: “Change is never painful, only resistance is.” There is no reason for India to impose a complete ban. Appropriate regulation and taxation are the tools to introduce it within the system for safe and legal use.

Nakul Dewan is a Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India and Barrister, Twenty Essex, Singapore and London. Nakul was the lead counsel who successfully argued against the RBI’s cryptocurrency ban in Internet and Mobile Association of India v RBI. Avishkar Singhvi is an Independent Advocate, Supreme Court of India. The views expressed are personal.

By embracing new technologies in our democratic and progressive nation, the twin objective of strengthening the dream of a digital India and not missing on the Blockchain revolution will become a reality. Gautam Buddha’s adage holds true even in today’s world: “Change is never painful, only resistance is.” There is no reason for India to impose a complete ban on cryptocurrency. Appropriate regulation and taxation are the tools to introduce it within the system for safe and legal use.

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BOMBAY HC TO HEAR KANGANA’S PLEA SEEKING PASSPORT RENEWAL ON 25 JUNE

Shweta Verma

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In the latest development on actress Kangana Ranaut’s plea seeking passport renewal, the Bombay high court on Tuesday refused an urgent hearing on the plea which seeks directions to the authorities to renew her passport, which expires in September. According to the actress, she has to travel to Hungary for the shooting of a film. The renewal has allegedly been denied over a sedition case against her. The court has called the application vague and also said Kangana was not wide awake to mention all details. She also did not cover the authorities as a party. The high court noted Ranaut in her application had sought relief only for herself but her sister’s name Rangoli Chandel was also mentioned as an applicant. The bench accordingly granted advocate Siddiquee the liberty to amend the application and to implement the Passport Authority as a party by the end of the day. The court allowed Kangana Ranaut to amend the application and posted the hearing in the matter on June 25.

The bench dismissed Ranaut’s advocate Siddiquee’s request for an earlier date of hearing. Siddiquee said Ranaut needed to travel out of India for the shooting of her film whose schedule had been fixed for later this week. The HC, however, said June 25 was the earliest date it could assign for the hearing.

“It is just a film. The schedule can be changed. First of all, the application is vague. If she was so vigilant, she could have approached the court with all details in advance. It is just a matter of one week, a film production takes over a year. June 25 is the earliest date we can give,” the judges said.

In her application filed on Monday, Ranaut had said she needed to travel to Budapest this month for the shooting of her upcoming film ‘Dhakkad’ and thus, needed her passport renewed.

The FIR was registered against Ranaut and her sister, Rangoli Chandel, in October 2020 on a magistrate’s order for allegedly creating communal disharmony through their statements and tweets. The Bandra police registered an FIR against Kangana Ranaut and her sister under IPC sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, etc), 295A (deliberate acts hurting religious sentiments), and 124-A (sedition).

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ANDHRA PRADESH MAKES ‘ENGLISH MEDIUM’ COMPULSORY IN ALL DEGREE COLLEGES

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The Andhra Pradesh Government has decided to make ‘English Medium’ compulsory across all Government, Private Aided and Unaided Degree colleges in the state from the academic year 2021-22. The Department of Higher Education of Andhra Pradesh strongly feels that the introduction of English medium education at the UG level would enhance the career prospects of graduates. According to the findings in the India Skills Report of 2019, English figured among the top three skills, along with learning agility and adaptability, that employers look for in India.

Out of nearly 2.62 Lakh students who have taken admissions into degree colleges across the state, only 65,981 students are admitted into Telugu medium background during 2020-21. Out of 65981 Telugu medium students, 24007, 16925, and 24960 have enrolled themselves in BA, B.com, and BSc courses respectively. This particular decision is bound to immensely benefit these students as well.

A 2016 report of Cambridge University titled ‘Findings of English at Work: Global analysis of language skills in workplace’ highlights that about 90% of employers look for in India say that English language skills are important for their organization.

A majority of BSc students have been seen to have taken up opportunities across the country, and in some cases abroad. Considering, this proficiency in the English language becomes essential for opening up new avenues for the students and ensuring their career growth.

Data proves that a large number of BA graduates prefer getting into sales and marketing, apart from journalism and research. Keeping in mind, the fact that most companies have started to prefer multilingual candidates and the emphasis on English, it is essential that the students pursue their UG in English medium.

Moreover, With the advent of top-notch technology, the commerce industry has become highly dynamic, fast-paced and algorithm/software-oriented in the last two decades. Therefore, the English language serves as an essential tool for professionals in the industry who are in the process of becoming highly successful.

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SC adjourns IUML plea challenging MHA notification on citizenship by two weeks

Ashish Sinha

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On Tuesday, the Supreme Court said it would hear after two weeks a plea challenging the Centre’s notification inviting non-Muslims belonging to Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan and residing in 13 districts of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, and Punjab to apply for Indian citizenship.

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the IUML, requested a vacation bench comprising Justices Hemant Gupta and V Ramasubramanian to grant two weeks to respond to the counter-affidavit filed by the Central Government on Monday.

The Union Home Ministry on Monday filed an affidavit before the top court stated that the notification issued in May has nothing to do with the Citizens Amendment Act. The Union Home Ministry has stated that it has issued similar notices five times in the past.

“The notification dated 28 May 2021 seeks to merely delegate the power of the Central Government to the local authorities in particular cases. The said notification does not provide for any relaxations to the foreigners and applies only to foreigner who have entered the country legally as the Central Government used its authority under Section 16 of the Citizenship Act and delegated its powers to grant citizenship by Registration or Naturalisation to District Collectors,” the MHA submitted.

The MHA in its affidavit further said that such citizenship-granting power, in effect delegation of power, in respect of “minority Hindus with Pakistani citizenship” who had migrated to India five years back was also delegated to Collectors of all the Districts in the State of Rajasthan.

MHA also said that initially, this delegation of powers of Central Government to District Collectors of Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Home Secretary of Gujarat State were only for one year.

The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) had also filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the Centre’s move to grant citizenship to non-Muslim refugees in thirteen districts in five states.

The petition had been filed in the Supreme Court by League General Secretary PK Kunhalikutty challenging the amendment to the Citizenship Act.

The League wants the notification issued by the Central Government inviting applications for citizenship to be stayed immediately.

The plea also said that the two provisions read together do not permit the classification of applicants on the ground of religion and therefore the order goes beyond what is permitted by the provision itself.

The order does not withstand the test of Article 14 in as much as it treats people within a particular class i.e. persons entitled to apply for citizenship by registration and naturalisation unequally by virtue of their religion, the plea added.

The Petitioner further said that the concept of granting citizenship to persons based on religion was introduced vide the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019, and the impugned order and rules as challenged in the present writ.

The said act is against Articles 14, 15, and 21 of the Constitution and violative of the basic structure of the Constitution, the plea added.

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AFTER UP AND MP, GUJARAT IMPLEMENTS ‘LOVE JIHAD’ LAW, GUILTY CAN BE JAILED FOR 4-7 YRS

Abhijit Bhatt

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The Love Jihad (Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act) Act has been implemented in Gujarat on Tuesday. The act was passed in the recently concluded budget session of the Assembly and was approved by Governor Acharya Devvrat recently. About two months ago, the Minister of State for Home Pradipsinh Jadeja introduced the Freedom of Religion Reform Bill 2021 in the Gujarat Legislative Assembly. The notification was issued by the government after the approval of Governor Acharya Devvrat.

After Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat becomes the third state to implement this law.

The Gujarat government has mentioned a penalty of up to 5 years and a fine of up to Rs 2 lakh for those who would violate this law, while there would be a sentence of 7 years and a fine of Rs 3 lakh for the crime if a minor is involved. In addition to this, provision has been made for 7 years for offenses against women belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

Legal action will also be taken against those who help the individuals who are committing the crime. In some cases, it will also become a non-bailable offense. A special provision has also been made that an officer below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police cannot investigate this. The new section 4 provides for punishment in connection with the sole purpose of converting a person by getting him married or helping him to get married.

The unlawful conversion would be a non-bailable offense if the offense is proved to be committed against the institution and organization of the marriage.

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