INDO-BRITISH RELATIONS – THE QUANTUM LEAP FROM ELIZABETH I TO ELIZABETH II - The Daily Guardian
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INDO-BRITISH RELATIONS – THE QUANTUM LEAP FROM ELIZABETH I TO ELIZABETH II

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On 8th September, 2022 at 4.30 pm GMT, Queen Elizabeth II, the longest reigning British monarch, passed away peacefully at Balmoral Castle, her royal estate in Aberdeenshire, nestled deep in the heart of the Scottish Highlands, at the age of 96. Significantly, Britons all across the world had celebrated her Platinum Jubilee which began on 6th February, 2022 and ended on 5th June,2022 to mark 70 glorious years of her “televised” coronation and stellar service to Britain. Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled her death in two separate tweets reading, “Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will be remembered as a stalwart of our times. She provided inspiring leadership to her nation and people. She personified dignity and decency in public life. Pained by her demise. My thoughts are with her family and people of UK in this sad hour.’ and ‘I had memorable meetings with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II during my UK visits in 2015 and 2018. I will never forget her warmth and kindness. During one of the meetings she showed me the handkerchief Mahatma Gandhi gifted her on her wedding. I will always cherish that gesture.’ at 11.13 pm IST and 11.14 pm IST respectively. The handkerchief that Modi referred to in a moment of helpless nostalgia was a crocheted, cotton lace created from double yarn spun by Mahatma Gandhi and knitted by a Punjabi girl, which was sent by Gandhi as a wedding gift to the Queen in November, 1947 through the safe hands of Lord Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Mountbatten, the then Indian Governor General of India, after he eulogised Gandhi, ‘If a cloth could be made from yarn you have spun, that would be like receiving the Crown Jewels.’ The Queen visited India several times. She first visited India in January,1961 and met with several heads of state and toured the country’s most-loved historical sites, including the Taj Mahal about which our great Noble laureate national poet Rabindranath Tagore aptly observed, ‘The Taj Mahal rises above the banks of the river like a solitary tear suspended on the cheek of time.’ She also attended the grand Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi on 26th January, 1961. At a civic reception in honour of the Queen on 28th January,1961, at the historic Ramlila Maidan, where a magnificent temple-like pavilion was specially built for the Queen, Prime Minister Nehru welcomed her in his own characteristic manner, ‘It is good to honour friends and honoured guests but in our mind there is ever that old quest which continues. We always think of the steps which we have to take in order to reach the end of that quest. You are welcome here in this city of Delhi, which has been a city of kings and emperors but which today is the capital of the Republic of India, and I think no king or emperor could give you the welcome which the republican citizens of Delhi have given you.’

She visited India again in 1983 and 1997, when India marked the 50th year of its Independence from British rule. Although the Queen scrupulously refrained from making any comments on the Jallianwala Bagh massacre during her state visits to India in 1961 and 1983, she eventually broke her silence on the incident at a state banquet in Delhi on 13th October, 1997:

‘It is no secret that there have been some difficult episodes in our past – Jallianwala Bagh, which I shall visit tomorrow, is a distressing example. But history cannot be rewritten, however much we might sometimes wish otherwise. It has its moments of sadness, as well as gladness. We must learn from the sadness and build on the gladness.’

On 14th October, 1997, the Queen visited Jallianwala Bagh at Amritsar and bowing her head in a rare gesture of remembrance paid her respects to the Indian martyrs with a 30‑second moment of hushed silence. During the visit, she wore a dress of pink apricot or saffron colour, which was of religious significance to the Sikhs. She also removed her shoes while visiting the monument and laid a wreath at the monument. Here was a Queen…when comes such another?

Turning the pages of history back to the year 1497, the Portuguese King Manuel I commissioned the legendary explorer and navigator Vasco da Gama to lead a voyage to India to discover a viable maritime route from Western Europe to the East. On 8th July,1497, da Gama sailed from Lisbon aboard his flagship São Gabriel leading an armada of four ships. On 20th May,1498, da Gama landed in Kappadu near Calicut (now Kozhikode) in the pepper rich Indian State of Kerala after having spent more than two years away from home, including 300 gruelling days at sea, and travelling an awesome distance of over 24,000 miles by sea. Da Gama’s maiden voyage to India was a pioneering milestone in world history as it marked the genesis of global imperialism and triggered a considerable spurt in European voyages to India. The British adventurer John Mildenhall of the Elizabethan era was the first Englishman who arrived in India in 1599 by the arduous overland route. That very year, he met the titanic Moghul Emperor Akbar the Great, with a self assumption of ambassadorial dignity. On 31st December, 1600, Queen Elizabeth I granted a Royal Charter to the Company named ‘The Governor and Company of Merchants of London Trading in the East Indies’, commonly known as “The East India Company”, the right to carry on trade with all countries of the East. Initially, the Company confined its activities to the lucrative spice trade with Java, Sumatra and the Moluccas. By 1608, it had opened a factory in Indonesia and a docking facility near Surat in the Indian State of Gujarat. The resounding victory of the Company over the Portuguese at the fierce naval battle that took place on 29th and 30th November,1612 off the coast of Swally, a village near Surat, gave the Company the raison de’etre to seek a firm foothold in India. It made an impassioned plea to the Moghul Emperor Nur-ud-Din Muhammad Salim, known by his imperial name Jahangir, meaning ‘conqueror of the world’, for exclusive rights to build factories in Surat and other areas. On 24th August, 1608, Captain William Hawkins, a representative of the Company, landed at Surat aboard the Company’s first trading ship ‘Hector’ and thereafter proceeded to the Court of Jahangir in Agra (which he reached on 16th April,1609) with a letter from King James I seeking permission for English merchants to transact business in India. Hawkins carried ‘toyes’ for the Emperor and wore a ‘violet and scarlet outfit with a taffeta-lined and silver lace-trimmed cloak’ keeping in mind the glitz and glamour of the Moghul Court. He was warmly received by Jahangir, who was irresistibly impressed by Hawkins’ remarkable command of Persian and Turkish, his insatiable appetite for women and his enormous capacity to gulp down copious quantities of wine. Jahangir gifted him an extremely beautiful Christian Armenian maiden named Mariam (whom he subsequently married!) from his well stocked harem of over 5,000 women. He also granted Hawkins access to the royal table where, as the Emperor’s favourite drinking companion, Hawkins narrated wild and wicked tales that invariably made Jahangir explode with peals of laughter. Jahangir affectionately conferred upon Hawkins the epithet of ‘Inglis Khan’! But due to the vehement opposition of the Portuguese, who even went to the extent of telling Moghul officials that King James was a ‘King of Fishermen and of an Island of no importance’, and the Surat merchants, Jahangir made a volte-face to the serious detriment of the Company and Hawkins’ mission proved to be utterly abortive. Next year, Jahangir issued a ‘farman’ or ‘royal edict’ permitting the English to establish a permanent factory at Surat. In 1615, a British mission under the renowned parliamentarian and diplomat Sir Thomas Roe, who was the first English ambassador to India, succeeded in obtaining ‘farmans’ from the Moghul Court granting the British the unique privilege of free trade sans the liability to pay inland tolls. Roe’s visit to Jahangir’s court in 1615 was a watershed moment in the history of Indo-British relations. His visit opened the doors of British colonial presence in India, which eventually became the jewel in the crown of the mighty British Empire. The rest is history and need not be repeated here for the sake of brevity!

Time inevitably marches on and exactly 400 years after Roe’s landing in India, the charismatic and vibrant Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in London on 12th November, 2015 on a three-day historic visit to the UK. Shortly after landing, Modi headed straight for 10, Downing Street, to meet the then Conservative Prime Minister David William Donald Cameron. The two leaders engaged in fruitful discussions that culminated in £9bn worth of commercial deals between the two countries in the retail, logistics, energy, finance, IT, education and health sectors. At the joint press conference later in the afternoon, Cameron said, “I believe we are already natural partners, as the world’s oldest democracy and the world’s largest democracy, we share so many of the same values. And the ties between our people bind us together, with 1.5 million people of Indian origin living here in the UK, the second largest Indian diaspora anywhere in the world…We want to forge a more ambitious, modern partnership, harnessing our strengths and working together for the long term to help shape our fortunes at home and abroad in the 21st century. As leaders, we share similar priorities to create jobs and opportunities for all, to protect our people from terrorism, and to tackle global challenges like climate change…We want a modern, essential partnership founded on old ties, but defined and fuelled by the modern, diverse, dynamic countries that we are both today.” 

In the first speech by a serving Indian PM to the British Parliament, which received a thunderous standing ovation, Modi said in ringing tones in his carefully cultivated English, ‘On the way to this event, Prime Minister Cameron and I paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi outside the Parliament. I was reminded of a question I was asked on a tour abroad. How is it that the statue of Gandhi stands outside the British Parliament? To that question, my answer is: The British are wise enough to recognise his greatness; Indians are generous enough to share him; we are both fortunate enough to have been touched by his life and mission; and, we are both smart enough to use the strengths of our connected histories to power the future of our relationship…Strong as our partnership is, for a relationship such as ours, we must set higher ambitions. We are two democracies; two strong economies; and, two innovative societies. We have the comfort of familiarity and the experience of a long partnership… It is also natural and inevitable that our economic relations will grow by leaps and bounds. We will form unbeatable partnerships, if we combine our unique strengths and the size and scale of opportunities in India…But, a relationship as rich as this, with so much promise as ours, cannot be measured only in terms of our mutual prosperity…And, terrorism and extremism are a global force that are larger than their changing names, groups, territories and targets. The world must speak in one voice and act in unison to combat this challenge of our times. We must adopt a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism in the UN without delay. There should be no distinction between terrorist groups or discrimination between nations. There should be a resolve to isolate those who harbour terrorists and willingness to stand with nations that will fight them honestly. And, we need a social movement against extremism in countries where it is most prevalent and, every effort to delink religion and terrorism….This is a huge moment for our two great nations. So, we must seize our opportunities, remove the obstacles to cooperation, instill full confidence in our relations and remain sensitive to each other’s interests. In doing so, we will transform our strategic partnership, and we will make this relationship count as one of the leading global partnerships.’ At night, Modi attended an ‘intimate’ dinner hosted by Cameron at Chequers (the 16-century mansion in Buckinghamshire which is the country retreat of the British Prime Minister) for which Cameron’s chefs had prepared a British autumn salad of beets and roots as a starter, followed by a main course of porcini mushroom pulao, tarka dal and cucumber salad with mango pudding for dessert.

Next day, Modi made a spectacular rock-star style appearance at London’s famous Wembley Stadium. Modi addressed a mammoth audience of around 60,000 people, mostly of the Indian diaspora. In his welcome speech, Cameron highlighted the growing list of British-Indian MPs and predicted that soon a British-Indian might become the UK PM! The former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak almost made it to that exalted position in the internal Conservative Party elections recently! When Modi’s turn came, he proudly asserted it was ‘a historic day for a great partnership between two great nations’, hailed India’s ‘special relationship’ with the UK and assured the wildly cheering ‘Modimanic’ audience, ‘I would like to ensure you that the dreams you have dreamt – and the dreams every Indian has dreamt – India is capable of fulfilling these dreams.’ Earlier in the day, Modi, immaculately dressed in a white kurta-pyjama with a maroon ‘Modi’ jacket, had lunch with Queen Elizabeth II within the majestic confines of the iconic Buckingham Palace, after which the Queen showed Modi a rare collection of items from the palace’s repository that included the cotton lace given to the Queen by Gandhi. Before lunching with the Queen, Modi participated in an invigorating Round Table of British and Indian business leaders at 10, Downing Street. On the ultimate day of his visit, Modi visited the Tata Motors-owned Jaguar Land Rover factory at Solihull in the West Midlands region that is characterised as the numero uno Indian investment in the UK. Away from the glare of television cameras and the misgivings of his domestic critics, Modi’s visit to the UK not only strengthened bilateral ties, but brought the people of the two great democracies even closer and radically reshaped the contours of Indo-UK relations.

Prime Minister Theresa May visited India on 6th November, 2016 in her first bilateral visit to a non-European country since becoming Prime Minister. Explaining the decision, May said, ‘It matters now more than ever. India is the fastest-growing major economy.’ May had previously referred to India as a ‘key strategic partner’ in the aftermath of Britain voting to leave the European Union. She was accompanied by Trade Secretary Liam Fox and a delegation of 33 business leaders aiming to boost trade and investment between India and the United Kingdom.

Queen Elizabeth II hosted the official launch of the UK India Year of Culture on 27th February 2017 at Buckingham Palace with my close friend and Law Faculty batchmate Arun Jaitley representing Modi. The British Council worked with the Palace and the British-Indian start-up Studio Carrom to project a peacock, India’s national bird, onto the facade of Buckingham Palace.

Modi visited the UK for the second time on 18th April 2018 as an official Guest as part of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. During the course of that visit, Modi and Prime Minister May discussed a new UK-India Tech Partnership, intended to create thousands of jobs and generate significant investment in both the economies, and discussed in extenso various topics, including defence cooperation and chemical weapons attacks in Salisbury and Syria. After his meeting with May, Modi visited the Science Museum to explore the ‘5000 Years of Science and Innovation’ exhibition and interacted with Indian-origin and other scientists and innovators based in the UK. The event, hosted by the King to be Prince Charles, included the launch of a new Ayurvedic Centre of Excellence, aimed at creating a first-of-its-kind global network for evidence-based research on yoga and Ayurveda. Modi also paid a courtesy call to Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. This meeting culminated in a royal dinner gala which was hosted by the Queen for the Commonwealth leaders. Away from the glare of television cameras and the misgivings of his critics, Modi’s second visit to the UK not only further strengthened bilateral ties, but brought the people of the two great democracies even closer and radically reshaped the contours of Indo-UK relations.

On 31st March, 2022, the UK Foreign Secretary Mary Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Truss, who has taken over as UK’s new Prime Minister on 6th September, 2022, attended the India-UK Strategic Futures Forum along with the Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar in Delhi. She was asked to comment on India’s decision to buy discounted oil from Russia, to which she answered with amazing gumption that India was a sovereign nation and that she was not going to tell it what to do. She acted in the right spirit and did not put Indo-UK relations in jeopardy!

Her predecessor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson visited Ahmedabad, Gujarat, on 21st April, 2022 on his first Prime Ministerial visit to India. The highpoint of his brief stay in Ahmedabad was his visit to Mahatma Gandhi’s Sabarmati Ashram. Johnson wrote in the visitors’ book, ‘It is an immense privilege to come to the ashram of this extraordinary man, and to understand how he mobilised such simple principles of truth and non-violence to change the world for better.’

The true spirit and essence of Indo-British relations was succinctly captured by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru at the State Banquet in honour of Earl and Countess Mountbatten way back on 15th March,1956 in the following words,‘That relationship was not based on any hoops of steel or ropes. It was a relationship of free will, without even silken bonds. And because there was nothing to tie, there was nothing to break it. We see often enough today all kinds of strong bonds being forced to tie one country to another, bonds of iron and steel. And yet that iron breaks and even the steel melts away. In a moment of crisis, the bond is not so strong as it looks. The manner or relationship which was evolved between India and England is of a different kind and different texture. Because we had known each other both in conflict and in co-operation and had settled our conflicts in a civilized, human way, we have survived many things, many differences of opinion. This is because we fundamentally wished for and developed the mood to co-operate even if we differed. It is a little difficult to define that relationship because it is often the indefinable things that are the most important and the most precious of all.’

BRIEF NOTE ON THE AUTHOR

The author is an internationally reputed senior lawyer practising in the Supreme Court of India and various High Courts and Tribunals in India. He has been closely associated with some of the topmost Indian corporates like Tata Sons Ltd., Tata Consultancy Services Lt., Tata Steel Ltd., Reliance Industries Ltd., ITC Ltd., ICI India Ltd. and Hindustan Unilever Ltd. as a lawyer and advisor. He addressed a select gathering of MPs and other eminent persons in the House of Lords in February,2009 and was awarded the prestigious “Ambassador of Peace Award”. In April,2009, he was also invited to the House of Commons. He was also invited by Chatham House and by the Universal Peace Federation in London several times. He is an avid debater, public speaker, writer, broadcaster, telecaster, artist, painter, sculptor, music critic and filmmaker. He is also an indefatigable lover of western classical music and has one of the largest private collections of western classical music in India.

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Policy & Politics

Fake news and the legal angle

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Fake news” is the catch phrase of the day! Fake news is a genus of “yellow” or “synthetic” journalism that encapsulates deliberate disinformation or hoaxes spread via conventional print and broadcast news media or online social media.  In February, 2018, the BBC defined fake news as “false information distributed deliberately, usually for political or commercial purposes”. Fake news, although a term of fairly recent origin, has prevailed since time immemorial. In the 13th century BC, the mighty Egyptian Pharaoh Ramesses II, popularly known as “Ramesses the Great” consciously spread fake news portraying the Battle of Kadesh, the earliest pitched battle fought in human history in 1274 BC, as a decisive victory for the Egyptians against the Hittites of Anatolia (modern day Turkey) in the city of Kadesh, a bustling trading centre in the ancient world. And on 26th March, 1475, Easter Sunday, a Franciscan preacher, Bernardino da Feltre, gave a series of sermons in Trent, Italy, claiming that the Jewish community had murdered a two-and-a-half-year-old Christian infant named Simonin and had drained his blood and consumed it to celebrate Passover, a major Jewish holiday that commemorates the exodus of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. The fake news spread like wild fire and the Prince-Bishop of Trent Johannes IV Hinderbach ordered the city’s entire Jewish population to be forthwith arrested and tortured. Lamentably, fifteen of them were pronounced guilty and mercilessly burned at the stake! Pope Sixtus IV (who patronised the construction of the Sistine Chapel and the creation of the Vatican Apostolic Library!), made a heroic but abortive effort to stamp out the news which had spiralled out of control. The popular fervency boosting these anti-semitic “blood libel” legends made it nigh impossible for the papacy to take any punitive action against Hinderbach, who eventually went on to defiantly canonize “Little Martyr Simon” as a Saint, crediting him with a hundred miracles. The Nazis scrupulously resurrected the fake news set afloat in Trent as a malicious “Goebbelsian” propaganda weapon against the Jews in the spine chilling Holocaust.
Fake news in India has had a deleterious effect on our nation’s unity and integrity leading to multiple episodes of violence between castes and religions and has interfered with robust public policies. It has often spread through the smartphone instant messenger WhatsApp, having presently 487 million monthly active users in the country. The Supreme Court of India has taken a very grave view of the indiscriminate spread of fake news. On 17th July, 2018, a panel headed by the former Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra recommended that Parliament pass a new “special law” that would instil fear in would-be attackers and demanded that the police take immediate steps to investigate and curb the dissemination of “irresponsible and explosive” messages and videos that could incite mob violence and lynchings. On 14th November,2019, the Supreme Court summarily rejected a batch of review petitions in the contentious Rafale fighter jets matter. What has now most regrettably come to light is that the wholly unwarranted stand of the opposition led by the Indian National Congress Party under the stewardship of its then President Rahul Gandhi (who is presently spearheading a highly publicised nationwide political marathon!), was singularly influenced by deviously contrived fake news (presumably not of Gandhi’s own making!) calculated to disparage the Prime Minister of India and his Government. Such fake news not only induced Gandhi to make the highly defamatory remark “Chowkidar Chor Hai” but perfidiously ascribe such remark to the Supreme Court. Significantly, on 8th May, 2019, Gandhi gracefully tendered an unconditional apology to the Supreme Court for wrongfully attributing the offending phrase to the court and the court took specific note of his apology whilst dropping the contempt proceedings against him in the Rafale case on 14th November, 2019. The Supreme Court on 2nd September,2021, expressed grave concern over the proliferation of fake news in the absence of a regulatory mechanism and asked the Centre if it was “really serious” about fixing accountability on web portals and other media to check the menace.
In a recent study published in the peer-reviewed academic journal American Behavioral Scientist, researchers from the Pennsylvania State University in the US, including Professor S.Shyam Sundar, have identified seven types of fake news, an advance that could help better spot misinformation, and create technology that can automatically detect misleading content. They have narrowed down myriad examples of fake news to seven basic categories, namely false news, polarised content, satire, misreporting, commentary, persuasive information and citizen journalism.
The Government has taken a serious note of rising incidences of fake news on social media and digital platforms and has decided to set up a fact-checking module under the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting to identify such areas and take corrective action. The government’s FACT Check module is tasked to work on 4 principles of find, assess, create and target which will involve round the clock monitoring of online news sources and social media posts.
The social media platforms cannot remain innocent bystanders to the spread of “irresponsible and explosive messages” or evade their responsibilities. The focus must not just be on messaging platforms but also on search engines like Google. Intermediaries and search engines should do much more and publish what they are doing to counter the irrepressible spread of fake news. On 16th July, 2022, the Union Information & Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur urged the Government’s communicators to be agile and adaptable to take up challenges such as fake news. And on 26th September, 2022, Thakur revealed that the Government had blocked 45 videos and 10 YouTube channels for airing fake news with intent to spread religious hatred. The Minister asserted that these channels were working against the interest of the country by spreading fake news to spoil India’s relationship with friendly nations.
As our economy and lives digitise increasingly, there is an imperative need for greater understanding of the do’s and don’ts and the laws governing the conduct of participants. This needs to be carried out by the apps and platforms in conjunction with the Government to usher in a “realistic world”. Platforms and intermediaries need to comply with data access demands legally made by our security agencies. Our law enforcement agencies need to detect and prosecute spam farms and those who are responsible for spreading content that foments crimes and hatred. The cyberspace is replete with criminals and lawbreakers. To make matters worse, bots without human supervision are capable of effortlessly spreading fake news to millions of people around the world. Our enforcement of laws needs to become more tenacious and the prosecution of even a few offenders would send a stern message of deterrence to others. Technology is meant for the public good. But then technology is a double-edged sword and the celebrated Norwegian historian and political scientist Christian Lous Lange aptly observed, “Technology is a useful servant but a dangerous master.” So when technology is used with the intention to harm, the Government and intermediaries must close ranks and act unitedly to ensure that our country, our democracy and our way of life do not fall a hapless prey to pernicious ill winds that blow no good.

BRIEF NOTE ON THE AUTHOR
The author is an internationally reputed senior lawyer practising in the Supreme Court of India and various High Courts and Tribunals in India. He has been closely associated with some of the topmost Indian corporates like Tata Sons Ltd., Tata Consultancy Services Lt., Tata Steel Ltd., Reliance Industries Ltd., ITC Ltd., ICI India Ltd. and Hindustan Unilever Ltd. as a lawyer and advisor. He addressed a select gathering of MPs and other eminent persons in the House of Lords in February,2009 and was awarded the prestigious “Ambassador of Peace Award”. In April,2009, he was also invited to the House of Commons. He was also invited by Chatham House and by the Universal Peace Federation in London several times. He is an avid debater, public speaker, writer, broadcaster, telecaster, artist, painter, sculptor, music critic and filmmaker. He is also an indefatigable lover of western classical music and has one of the largest private collections of western classical music in India.

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Quality will define brand India in the time to come: Piyush Goyal

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Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution and Textiles, Piyush Goyal today asked the Quality Council of India (QCI) to strive to bring about convergence of all the various quality and standards organizations in the country so that they may work in tandem towards building a world-class quality system in India and make quality a national mission. He was addressing the gathering at the Silver Jubilee Celebration of QCI in New Delhi today. With the motto ‘Gunnwatta se Atmanirbharta’, the event commemorated the efforts made by QCI in its pursuit of delivering quality of services, products, and lives.
“Convergence will also help us scale up absorption of quality standards, help us take the national quality mission to every citizen and every business in the country so that the business environment, the investment environment that we have been able to create in the country can grow from strength to strength and help India become a developed nation by 2047”, Goyal said. He also urged QCI to help align India with international quality standards.
Other dignitaries in attendance at the event included Shri Amitabh Kant, India’s Sherpa to the G20, Shri Anurag Jain, Secretary, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Shri Anil Agrawal, Additional Secretary, DPIIT, Adil Zainulbhai, Chairperson, QCI and Capacity Building Commission and Secretary General of QCI, Dr. Ravi P. Singh.
Goyal emphasized that quality will define brand India in the time to come. He observed that quality never comes at a cost but saved costs and improved productivity. He urged the citizens of the nation to imbibe the determination to do everything they do in a better, more efficient, more cost effective, more useful and more measurable manner. “The culture of quality has to be ingrained in the nation if it is to become a developed country by 2047. This idea of quality can truly transform this country faster than anything else”, the Minister added.
The Minister spoke of the Panch Pran articulated by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi as India celebrated 75 years of independence and said that PM Modi wanted India to change its mindset, remove the historical baggage of colonialism, become more confident, more self-reliant and bolder in our ambitions to plan for India being a developed nation by 2047.
The Minister said that PM wanted India to be proud of its history, culture, heritage and traditions which held a lot of lessons capable of helping India progress as a society. He said that we must be very proud of the thread of unity that binds us amidst great diversity. He asked that we perform our duties towards fellow citizens and the nation with ‘kartavya bhavna’. The Minister highlighted that commitment to quality was a virtue that would transcend every single one of the Panch Pran, a virtue that would help us achieve all the five vows faster and smarter.
He applauded QCI for bringing quality consciousness into the entire coal ecosystem and said that this initiative of QCI has been in the spirit of national service because it transformed the way coal industry perceived quality. He opined that prior to 2014, there was significant gap in the price paid and the quality of coal received due to lack of adherence to quality standards. He noted that once QCI stepped in and started undertaking initiatives like third party sampling of coal, there was transformative improvement in quality in the sector.
Goyal noted that Food Corporation of India’s (FCI) commitment to quality had resulted in better quality food grains reaching consumers who were mostly underprivileged. Shri Goyal also highlighted that the process of distribution of these food grains was now completely technology enabled using biometrics and said that under One Nation One Ration Card (ONORC), beneficiaries could pick up their food from anywhere in the nation. “The entitlement is transparent, the delivery is transparent and all of this happens through a quality-assured process”, Shri Goyal said.

The Minister also applauded the role played by QCI in the One District One Product (ODOP) initiative to encourage products from remote areas to find markets in India and abroad. He said that QCI was helping the Commerce Ministry introduce the concept of quality in remote parts of the country so that products from these areas also become acceptable in Indian and international markets. He added that QCI had also contributed significantly in the GI tagging initiative and in completing the Swacch Surveykshan. Shri Goyal also appreciated the QCI for helping bring quality consciousness at storage points in various warehouses of FCI, the Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC) and different states.
Goyal pointed out that QCI had played a leadership role in the initiative of the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC).

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PM addresses IAS officers of 2020 batch in the concluding session of Assistant Secretary Programme, 2022

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PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the IAS officers of the 2020 batch in the concluding session of the Assistant Secretary Programme, 2022 at Sushma Swaraj Bhawan in New Delhi earlier today.
Speaking on the occasion, Prime Minister said that the officers have got the opportunity to serve the country during the Amrit Kaal and help realise the Panch Pran. He said that Officers have a key role in ensuring that the target of a developed India is achieved in Amrit Kaal. He highlighted the significance of out-of-box thinking and adopting a holistic approach in their endeavours. He cited the example of PM GatiShakti Master Plan for showcasing the significance of such a holistic approach.
Prime Minister discussed the importance of innovation and how it has become a collective effort and part of work culture in the country. He talked about the Start-up India scheme and how the number of startups in the country has witnessed a significant jump in the last few years. He noted that this has been made possible due to several Ministries coming together and working as a team through a ‘whole of government’ approach.
Prime Minister mentioned how the focus of the governance has shifted outside Delhi, to all regions of the country. He gave examples of how important schemes are now being started from places outside Delhi. Prime Minister suggested the officers develop an understanding of the local culture of the area of work and strengthen their connection with local people at the ground level. He asked them to focus on One District One Product and explore the opportunities of exporting products of their district. He also asked the officers to prepare their action plan for the Aspirational Districts Program. Speaking about MGNREGA, Prime Minister spoke about implementing the scheme in a more effective manner. He also underlined about the significance of Jan Bhagidari spirit and said that this approach can play a key role in tackling malnutrition.
Highlighting the success of Jan Dhan Yojana earlier, Prime Minister talked about the importance of digital economy and exhorted the officers to try to connect people across villages with digital economy and UPI. Further, underscoring the importance of service to the nation, Prime Minister talked about the significance of performing one’s duties, adding that the mentality of ‘Rajpath’ has now changed to the sentiment of ‘Kartavya Path’.
During the programme, eight presentations were given by the Assistant Secretaries to the Prime Minister. The topics of these presentations included Poshan Tracker: tool for improved monitoring of Poshan Abhiyaan; Enabling multi-lingual voice based digital access through Bhashini; Corporate data management; Matribhoomi Geoportal – Integrated National Geoportal of India for Governance; Tourism potential of Border Roads Organisation (BRO), Changing the face of post offices through India Post Payments Bank (IPPB), Development of coastal fisheries through artificial structures like reefs; and Compressed biogas – fuel for future. This year, a total 175 IAS Officers of 2020 batch have been posted as Assistant Secretaries in 63 Ministries/Departments of Government of India from 11.07.2022 to 07.10.2022.

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BJP accuses CM Kejriwal of corruption in electricity discoms

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BJP on Thursday leveled another corruption charge against the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). This time, party spokespersons Syed Zafar Islam and Harish Khurana accused Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal of appointing chosen officials to facilitate corruption in the electricity companies and prevent audits.
BJP spokesperson Syed Zafar Islam pointed out the Delhi Chief Minister’s previous promises and accused him of “stealing” electricity. In 2013, Kejriwal used to accuse the two companies of the Anil Ambani group and Tata Discom of being “thieves”. I want to ask what happened that the man who used to talk about stopping electricity theft, is himself stealing electricity,” Islam said.
“BSES Rajdhani Power Limited (BRPS) and BSES Yamuna Power Limited (BYPL). In both these companies, 51% of the shares are with Anil Ambani and the remaining 49% with the Delhi Government. “Since the Delhi government also had a 49% stake, the government used to keep retired IAS officers, retired Finance Secretaries, and retired Revenue Secretaries as its representatives to protect their interests,” the BJP leader continued. But, Kejriwal Ji removed them and appointed his own pawns to protect his own interests and facilitate corruption. ND Gupta and Jasmine Shah are known for corruption. Kejriwal has kept them as his pawns,” Islam said
He also alleged Kejriwal of stopping the audit of the government funding and accused him of corruption by giving commissions. “The Kejriwal government took a decision in 2016 that audits will be conducted every year. But, he didn’t follow his own decision. Because, if the audit had been done, it would have revealed how much money went to the public and how much to the beneficiaries, “Islam said.” Islam said.
BJP spokesperson Harish Khurana also attacked the Kejriwal government, saying, “When the AAP government came, Kejriwal used to say that we would waive off all the electricity bills and the electricity bills would be the lowest in Delhi. He also used to accuse the power discom of being thieves”. He claimed that the public has no idea of how their money had been spent and demanded an audit of government spending. 
“A total of Rs 16,233 crores has been extracted as fixed charges in the last five years. Rs 12,408 crores were given as subsidies between 2015 and 21. 2,677 crores were given as a surcharge, the regulatory assets were worth 9,195 crores, and 3,900 crores were paid for the power purchase agreement. But, the total figure stands at Rs 49,636 crores”, Khurana said.
“No one knows the calculation of this Rs 49,000 crores. I want to ask, do the people of Delhi don’t have the right to know how their money has been used? We are only asking what the Kejriwal government promised. We demand the whole audit of the government spending,” Khurana said.
The allegation comes amid a spate of corruption cases being investigated against several AAP leaders, including Manish Sisodia, Satyendra Jain, Amantullah Khan, etc.

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Policy & Politics

India emerges as the world’s largest producer and consumer of sugar and world’s 2nd largest exporter of sugar

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India emerges as the world’s largest producer and consumer of sugar and world’s 2nd largest exporter of sugar

In Sugar Season (Oct-Sep) 2021-22, a record of more than 5000 Lakh Metric Tons (LMT) sugarcane was produced in the country out of which about 3574 LMT of sugarcane was crushed by sugar mills to produce about 394 LMT of sugar (Sucrose). Out of this, 35 LMT sugar was diverted to ethanol production and 359 LMT sugar was produced by sugar mills. With this, India has emerged as the world’s largest producer and consumer of sugar as well as the world’s 2nd largest exporter of sugar.

The season has proven to be a watershed season for Indian Sugar Sector. All records of sugarcane production, sugar production, sugar exports, cane procured, cane dues paid and ethanol production were made during the season.

Another shining highlight of the season is the highest exports of about 109.8 LMT that too with no financial assistance which was being extended upto 2020-21. Supportive international prices and Indian Government Policy led to this feat of Indian Sugar Industry. These exports earned foreign currency of about Rs. 40,000 crores for the country.

The success story of sugar industry is the outcome of synchronous and collaborative efforts of Central and State Governments, farmers, sugar mills, ethanol distilleries with very supportive overall ecosystem for business in the country. Timely Government interventions since last 5 years have been crucial in building the sugar sector step by step from taking them out of financial distress in 2018-19 to the stage of self-sufficiency in 2021-22.

During SS 2021-22, sugar mills procured sugarcane worth more than 1.18 lakh crore and released payment of more than 1.12 lakh crore with no financial assistance (subsidy) from Government of India. Thus, cane dues at the end of sugar season are less than ₹ 6,000 crore indicating that 95% of cane dues have already been cleared. It is also noteworthy that for SS 2020-21, more than 99.9% cane dues are cleared.

Government has been encouraging sugar mills to divert sugar to ethanol and also to export surplus sugar so that sugar mills may make payment of cane dues to farmers in time and also mills may have better financial conditions to continue their operations.

Growth of ethanol as biofuel sector in last 5 years has amply supported the sugar sector as use of sugar to ethanol has led to better financial positions of sugar mills due to faster payments, reduced working capital requirements and less blockage of funds due to less surplus sugar with mills. During 2021-22, revenue of about ₹ 18,000 crore has been made by sugar mills/distilleries from sale of ethanol which has also played its role in early clearance of cane dues of farmers. Ethanol production capacity of molasses/sugar-based distilleries has increased to 605 crore litres per annum and the progress is still continuing to meet targets of 20% blending by 2025 under Ethanol Blending with Petrol (EBP) Programme. In new season, the diversion of sugar to ethanol is expected to increase from 35 LMT to 50 LMT which would generate revenue for sugar mills amounting to about ₹ 25,000 crores.

There is an optimum closing balance of 60 LMT of sugar which is essential to meet domestic requirements for 2.5 months. The diversion of sugar to ethanol and exports led to unlocking of value chain of the whole industry as well as improved financial conditions of sugar mills leading to more optional mills in ensuing season.

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Policy & Politics

DFS modifies Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme for Civil Aviation sector

ECLGS necessary for collateral-free liquidity at reasonable interest rates to tide over their present cash flow problems

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DFS modifies Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme for Civil Aviation sector

Recognising that an efficient and strong civil aviation sector is vital for the economic development of the country, the Department of Financial Services (DFS), Ministry of Finance, has modified the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) yesterday to enhance the maximum loan amount eligibility for airlines under ECLGS 3.0 to 100% of their fund based or non-fund-based loan outstanding as on the reference dates or Rs. 1,500 crore, whichever is lower; and of the above, Rs. 500 crore shall be considered, based on equity contribution by the owners.

All other criteria terms and conditions parameters prescribed under the operational guidelines of the ECLGS on 30.8.2022 shall be applicable as it is.

The modifications introduced are aimed to give necessary collateral-free liquidity at reasonable interest rates to tide over their present cash flow problems.

Earlier in March 2022, the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) was extended beyond March 2022, till March 2023, to implement the announcement made in the Union Budget 2022-23 by Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman. Keeping in view the high proportion of non-fund based credit in the overall credit of the civil aviation sector, the eligible borrowers were permitted to avail up to 50% of their highest total fund and non-fund based credit outstanding, subject to a maximum of Rs. 400 crore per borrower. 

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