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Policy & Politics

Politics on Central Vista project unreasonable

A modern building equipped with the latest digital technology replacing the 90-year-old Parliament House is the need of the hour. Do you know that 12 ministries of the Central government are functioning from rented buildings and the government spends about Rs 1,000 crore annually to pay the rent? Around Rs 20,000 crore would have been paid towards rent only during the period I was in Parliament. This project is the need of the hour keeping the future in mind. If all the ministries are brought together, it will help them function even more proficiently.

Vijay Darda

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If we just keep trying to prove Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrong on everything, it will weaken the very existence of the Opposition. The voice of the Opposition will carry weight only if the opposition or protest will be constructive, and not just for the sake of it. Today some people are protesting about the Central Vista project, but they should understand that the first initiative was taken by the then Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar during the Congress-led government in 2012 to build a new Parliament building. The leaders of other parties including Atal Bihari Vajpayee had supported it.

Under the Central Vista project, the offices of the Vice President, the Prime Minister as well as all the 51 ministries will be housed under one roof. MPs will have offices. All the buildings will be connected to each other. This will benefit from the security point of view and help get rid of the problems people face during the VIP movement too.

The project will cost about Rs 20,000 crore and Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to complete most of the important work of this project before the end of his second term in 2024. The rest of the work will be done later.

A section of the society is questioning the need to spend such a huge amount on the project in the midst of this pandemic when the economy is badly hit. People are also questioning the purpose and benefits of this project.

Normally, this logic may sound right, but if you understand things with a deeper perspective, you will understand how important the completion of the Central Vista project is from the administrative point of view keeping in mind the future. I have been a part of the Parliament for 18 years so I have seen and understood the requirements closely. Many of these buildings are dilapidated. It is difficult to work sitting there. The legislative section of India sits in the Parliament House whereas the President, Vice President, Prime Minister and officials of 51 ministries sit at different places. Rashtrapati Bhavan, Parliament House, North Block and South Block, and National Museum building were built in 1931. After that Nirman Bhawan, Shastri Bhawan, Udyog Bhawan, Rail Bhawan and Krishi Bhawan were constructed between 1956 and 1968. Today, 39 ministries are housed in different buildings in the Central Vista area while 12 ministries are occupying rented premises outside.

You will be surprised to know that their annual rent is about Rs 1,000 crore and their distance from the PMO and other ministries is quite long too. Obviously, the administrative work gets hampered. So, is it justified to spend such a huge amount on rent? Just calculate how much rent the government would have paid till now. Around Rs 20,000 crore must have been paid only during the period I was in Parliament.

Another important point is that when the buildings were built in Central Vista and its surrounding areas, there was no digitalization like it is today. Now along with the security of Parliament House and ministries, there is always a big question for the security of digital files. Building a new complex will ensure better security for both.

India is a rising power in the world today. Priorities are changing, so it is very important that the entire Central government should be accommodated in a cluster of buildings equipped with modern technology so that ministers can easily reach out to each other, meet and interact. If 51 ministries located in the buildings being rebuilt in the Central Vista project are near each other, it will definitely benefit from the administrative point of view.

We also have to keep in mind that our population is growing, so surely the number of MPs will have to be increased too in future. Keeping this in mind, the new building of Parliament House will be built on about 65,400 square metres of land and have a large Constitution Hall, a lounge for MPs, a library, offices of several committees, etc. The Lok Sabha chamber will have a seating capacity for 888 members and the Rajya Sabha chamber will have the same for 384 members. Along with this, there will be ample space for the National Museum, National Archives and Indira Gandhi Art Museum and our heritage will also be displayed in a dignified manner.

Those who are critical of this project say that an amount of Rs 20,000 crore should be spent on helping the poor and providing healthcare facilities during the pandemic. But the question is whether the government is executing this project by diverting the funds meant for the poor or the needy? Of course not. The government is not rolling back any welfare scheme meant for the poor. All schemes are running as before. I believe that the poor must be helped and every government has been doing this. The point is we have to plan for the future too.

If we look at the post-independence history, be it Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee or any other person who has been in power, everyone has worked on planning for the future and that is why India has occupied this prime position today. If Rajiv Gandhi would not have dreamt of a technology-rich India, had we been where we are today? We must worry about the present. Problems should also be solved, but we should also dream of a better future. The office of our Prime Minister should also be state-of-the-art, equipped and secure like the Parliament and Presidential buildings of America, Russia, Britain and other developed countries. That’s why I want to say that there should be no politics, at least in the case of the Central Vista project. There are several other subjects for politicking.

The author is the chairman, Editorial Board of Lokmat Media and former member of Rajya Sabha.

India is a rising power in the world today. Priorities are changing, so it is very important that the entire Central government should be accommodated in a cluster of buildings equipped with modern technology so that ministers can easily reach out to each other, meet and interact.

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Policy & Politics

Amid Rajasthan crisis, Rahul Gandhi: ‘BJP-RSS wants people to fight…’

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WILL RAHUL GANDHI’S YATRA PAY OFF?

At the completion of the 19th day of the Bharat Jodo Yatra, the grand old party’s effort to connect with the people of the nation, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi yet again slammed the Modi government on Monday. His new comments, which were directed at the BJP, came even as his party was dealing with tensions in Rajasthan politics.

In a tweet, the 52-year-old Congress MP wrote in Hindi what he has often said before: “Today, loans worth billions of rupees are being waived off for big industrialists. But if a small trader or a farmer cannot repay even a small loan, he is declared a defaulter, and put in jail.”

Bharat Jodo Yatra is against every injustice. Raja ke yeh do Hindustan, Bharat sweekar nahi karega (These two versions of the country, India won’t accept),” he further added.

At a speech following the end of the 19th day of the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’, Gandhi said, “The BJP-RSS wants this river (people at this rally) to get divided, wants residents to fight with each other. They want a river where if somebody falls, nobody picks him up and where everybody is alone. They run the country by dividing it and spreading hatred”.

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Dr Mansukh Mandaviya awards best performing states for PMJAY and ABDM at Arogya Manthan 2022

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Dr Mansukh Mandaviya awards best performing states for PMJAY and ABDM at Arogya Manthan 2022

“There should be no space for fraud in AB-PMJAY which aims for healthcare of the poorest from the society. We need to use all available technology tools to remove even the smallest scope for any fraud”. This was stated by Dr Mansukh Mandaviya at the closing day of the two-day Arogya Manthan 2022, celebrating completion of 4years of Ayushman Bharat PMJAY, and one year of Ayushman Bharat Digital Health Mission, here today. Ms Veena George, Minister of Health, Government of Kerala and Dr V K Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog were also present.
Speaking on the occassion while awarding top performing states, districts, integrators and health facilities, Dr Mandaviya said that the two days’ brainstorming session would contribute to giving additional boost for rethinking and improving PM-JAY and ABDM. “Even a small suggestion has the power for bringing big change”, he stated.
Dr Mandaviya urged states who are still to cover eligible beneficiaries, to accelerate their efforts to provide Ayushman Bharat cards to all of them. He also encouraged stakeholders to bring innovative solutions for integrating technology in digital health.
Union Health Minister awarded the Ayushman Utkrishtata Puraskaar (Ayushman Excellence Awards) 2022 to felicitate the Top Performing State/UT (Andhra Pradesh), Top Performing District (Parvathipuram Manyam, Andhra Pradesh), Top Performing Government Facility (District Hospital Dharwad, Karnataka), Best Performing States (Kerala, Meghalaya, Gujarat, Manipur, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh), Best Performing UTs (Chandigarh, J&K), and PMAMs (Pradhan Mantri Arogya Mitras) under the AB PM-JAY and ABDM. The winners of ABDM Hackathon Series Round 1 (Bajaj Finserv Health – Team Excalibur) were also awarded at the ceremony.
The second day of Arogya Manthan 2022 had panel discussions with eminent thought leaders from relevant public and private sector organizations.
The sessions covered best practices & learnings from the states, digitization of health insurance in India, international best practices in digital health and way forwards sessions to deliberate and collaborate for drawing the future roadmap of the two schemes, AB PM-JAY and ABDM.
Shri Rajesh Bhushan, Union Health Secretary, Dr R S Sharma, CEO, National Health Authority (NHA). Principle Health Secretaries of States, NHM MDs, representatives from international Organisations and the private sector were present.

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Foreign trade policy extended for six months

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Foreign trade policy extended for six months

The government has received requests from Export Promotion Councils and leading exporters that we should continue with current Foreign Trade Policy (2015-20), which had been extended from time to time.
In recent days, exporters and industry bodies have strongly urged the government that in view of the prevailing, volatile global economic and geo-political situation, it would be advisable to extend the current policy for some time, and undertake more consultations before coming out with the new policy.
The government has always involved all stakeholders in formulating policy. In view of this, it has been decided to extend the Foreign Trade Policy 2015-20, valid till Sept 30, 2022 for a further period of six months,

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Union Home and Cooperation Minister Shri Amit Shah addressed the Kisan Sammelan in Ahmedabad, Gujarat today

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Union Home and Cooperation Minister Shri Amit Shah addressed the Kisan Sammelan in Ahmedabad, Gujarat today

After completing the Narmada project which was pending since decades, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has completed the herculean task of bringing Narmada waters to Kutch
Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Government of Gujarat is determined to solve the long-standing problems of the farmers, now 164 villages of Fatewadi, Kharikat and Nalkantha areas were included in the Narmada Command Area and the problem related to irrigation was ended
Narmada water is taken to 53,215 hectare of land of farmers of 164 villages which were facing the problem of irrigation, lakhs of people will be benefitted by this
Union Home and Cooperation Minister Amit Shah addressed the Kisan Sammelan in Ahmedabad, Gujarat today. Many dignitaries including the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Shri Bhupendra Patel were also present on the occasion.
In his address, the Union Home Minister said that since many years 164 villages of this region have been deprived of complete irrigation system, but today under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Government of Gujarat has included 164 villages of Fatewadi, Kharicat and Nalkantha region under Narmada Command Area to eliminate the problemls in irrigation. Now, Narmada’s water will be delivered to 53,215 hectare land of farmers of 164 villages troubled by the problem of irrigation, which will benefit lakhs of people. He said that now Narmada’s water would come through the canal and if farmers would be able to produce three crops on this 70,000 hectare land, then this area would be full of prosperity.
Amit Shah said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had brought Narmada waters to this point in Gujarat. He said that the previous governments had stopped the Narmada scheme from 1964 based on one or another excuse, but when Shri Narendra Modi became the Chief Minister of Gujarat, he first worked as the Bhagirath of Gujarat to implement the Narmada scheme in Ahmedabad. Shri Shah said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has implemented many schemes to double the income of farmers in the last 8 years. Agricultural insurance has been made scientific, attractive and easier for the common people so that they can use it. Every year, Shri Narendra Modi has made arrangements to directly deposit Rs.6,000 in the bank accounts of small, big and marginal farmers.
The Union Cooperation Minister said that earlier there used to be black marketing of fertilizers or manure and farmers did not get their due, but Shri Modi ended the black marketing of manure by introducing neem coated urea and is now promoting natural farming. Shah requested all the farmers to adopt natural farming. He said that more than three lakh farmers in Gujarat have adopted natural farming. He said that 21 acres of natural farming can be done from one cow and there is no expenditure on urea, pesticides etc. Shri Shah said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is encouraging the farmers of the country to go for natural farming. The Union Home Minister requested the youth of Nalakantha to talk to five or ten progressive farmers doing natural farming in their village and know their experiences about natural farming.
Amit Shah said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has started many new initiatives through the Ministry of Cooperation. Primary Service Cooperative Boards used to do only lending work, but now they will also be able to work as FPOs. These divisions will now be able to take gas agency, they will also be given priority in petrol pumps, distribution of water and will also be able to do the work of PCO. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has connected all such works with Primary Service Cooperative Boards. He said that soon we are going to form a new multistate co-operative society which will act as export house and export the produce of the farmers and the profit will go into the bank account of the farmer. Apart from this, there is no system of marketing, certification and testing for natural farming at present, hence we are moving towards creating such a cooperative society for the proper testing of both the soil and its produce and its branding with Amul.

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Govt. commits Rs. 7,385 crore under fund of funds for Startup India Investment for 88 Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs); 720 startups supported by AIFs

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Govt. commits Rs. 7,385 crore under fund of funds for Startup India Investment for 88 Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs); 720 startups supported by AIFs

Fund of Funds for Startups (FFS), launched under Startup India initiative in 2016 by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has committed Rs. 7,385 crore to 88 Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs) as of 24th September 2022. These AIFs in turn have invested Rs. 11,206 crore in 720 startups. FFS has been playing a monumental role in mobilizing domestic capital in Indian startup ecosystem.
FFS was announced with a corpus of Rs. 10,000 crore. The corpus is to be built up over 14th and 15th Finance Commission Cycles (FY 2016-2020 and FY 2021-2025) through budgetary support by Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India. Under FFS, support is extended to SEBI registered Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs), which in turn invest in startups.
FFS has not only made capital available for startups at early stage, seed stage and growth stage but also played a catalytic role in terms of facilitating raising of domestic capital, reducing dependence on foreign capital and encouraging home grown and new venture capital funds. Collectively, the AIFs supported by FFS have a target corpus of over Rs. 48,000 crore. Among the prominent AIFs of leading startup investment firms supported under FFS are Chiratae Ventures, India Quotient, Blume Ventures, IvyCap, Waterbridge, Omnivore, Aavishkaar, JM Financial, Fireside Ventures, and more.
The amount committed under FFS has seen a notable growth over the years recording a CAGR of over 21% in since the launch of the Scheme. Furthermore, Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) which is responsible for operationalising the Scheme has undertaken a series of reforms recently to expedite the drawdowns to enable AIFs assisted under FFS to avail accelerated drawdowns. This has created a positive impact and have resulted in year on year (Q1 FY 2021-22 vis-à-vis Q1 FY 2022-23) surge of 100% in the amount of drawdowns.
FFS has helped anchor 67 AIFs out of 88 AIFs supported and 38 of these are first time fund managers which is line with FFS’s core objective of anchoring venture capital investments for Indian startups.
Investments into eligible startups is approximately 3.7 times of FFS disbursements which is well above the minimum stipulated 2 times under the Scheme. Performing startups supported through FFS are showing valuation increase by more than 10 times with number of them even achieving unicorn status (valuation of over USD 1 billion). Dunzo, CureFit, FreshToHome, Jumbotail, Unacademy, Uniphore, Vogo, Zostel,Zetwerk etc., are some of the notable startups funded through FFS.The returns generated from the success of these startups and innovation created will remain within the country and facilitate generation of employment and creation of wealth.

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Capt Amarinder Singh to attend BJP core committee meet

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Captain Amarinder Singh, a former chief minister of Punjab, will attend the Punjab BJP’s core committee meeting on Monday at the party’s Chandigarh headquarters.

After joining the BJP exactly one week ago, this will be the former Congress leader’s first trip to the party’s headquarters. In the national capital, his daughter Jai Inder Kaur and son Raninder Singh both joined the BJP.

On September 19, Capt. Amarinder Singh combined his party, the Punjab Lok Congress, which he launched after leaving the Congress last year, with the BJP.

On Monday evening, Capt. Amarinder Singh and Ashwani Sharma, the chief of the state BJP, will address a joint press conference.

After the assembly elections in February, this will be the former chief minister’s first appearance in public in the state.

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