PRIYANKA VADRA TO VISIT RAJIV GANDHI’S ASSASSINATION PLACE IN TAMIL NADU DURING ELECTION CAMPAIGN ON 3 APRIL - The Daily Guardian
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PRIYANKA VADRA TO VISIT RAJIV GANDHI’S ASSASSINATION PLACE IN TAMIL NADU DURING ELECTION CAMPAIGN ON 3 APRIL

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Congress campaign in poll-bound Tamil Nadu is all set to witness an emotional moment as party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Saturday is scheduled to visit Sriperumbudur in Kanchipuram district, where her father and former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in 1991.

According to the party sources, her visit is not associated with political developments or poll campaigning, it will a personal affair only. After the visit on April 3, she will campaign in Kanyakumari parliamentary seat, which fell vacant after the demise of Congress MP H Vasanth Kumar. The party has fielded V Vijayakumar to retain the constituency, sources added.

In Tamil Nadu, Congress is contesting on 25 assembly seats in alliance with the DMK. The Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu will be held in a single phase on April 6 and the counting of votes will be done on May 2.

Priyanka Gandhi is actively campaigning in poll-bound states like Assam, Kerala and will now campaign in Tamil Nadu. She has done two tours of Assam till now and her third visit is scheduled for April 2.

She will also address the rallies in West Bengal, added the party sources.

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WHY LORD RAM’S EXAMPLE IS RELEVANT IN TODAY’S WORLD

Subhomoy Bhattacharjee

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Children, some critics say that the Ramayana and Lord Ram’s example are irrelevant in the modern world. Their view is that in today’s age of science and technology, Ram’s path is too extreme and impractical. There may be some truth to their criticism because ages ago when the story of Ramayana took place, society and family life were firmly rooted in dharma. Back then, moral and spiritual values such as truthfulness, self-sacrifice and humility governed the land. Thus, people genuinely appreciated and followed the guidance and example of a ruler rooted in dharma. They really appreciated Ram’s ways, cherishing him as dharma personified.

As the King of Ayodhya, Ram gave prime importance to doing his dharma towards his country and its citizens. Both as a king and as a human being, he was perfect—loving, compassionate, fearless and considerate. He always had his subjects’ well-being and his country’s prosperity at the forefront of his mind. For him, everything else was secondary. Thus, his abidance in dharma had a huge impact on the citizens of Ayodhya. That is why they all wanted to accompany Ram to the forest when he went into exile.

It’s true we will not be able to duplicate Ram’s ways. Amma doesn’t think anyone can be that perfect. Regardless, no one can deny the fact that, thousands of years later, Ram’s life still remains as an immense source of inspiration to millions of people across the world and that it will forever continue to serve such a purpose.

Not everyone who worships Ram meticulously follows his teachings. But when compared to most people—the majority of which are mired in selfishness—Ram’s devotees must be relatively more dharmic. Actually, that is enough. Indeed such impact is the purpose of avataras like Ram. Because, as Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita, “Even a little practice of this a dharma saves one from great fear.”

Children, the truth is that if we could observe even an infinitesimal part of what Lord Ram showed us, the world would be in a much better place than it is today.

The writer is a spiritual leader, guru and humanitarian who is revered as the hugging saint by her followers.

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PRACHI DESAI ON WHY SHE MADE A COMEBACK WITH ‘SILENCE’

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Actress Prachi Desai recently joined NewsX for a candid interview as part of NewsX India A-List. Prachi has made a comeback in Bollywood after a long break with the suspense-thriller Silence… Can You Hear It?, which released on Zee5 on 26 March. She is currently basking on its success.

Talking about it, she said, “I think so far the response has been great. Also, I’ve done a film after a while so that excitement is special. The intention was to do something different as it’s been a while and that has paid off. The one thing I’m consistently hearing every day from people is it’s nice to see me back after a gap. That’s good to hear as it gives you a sense of hope. It also reminds me that people do want to watch me and are happy to see me again and there cannot be a better feeling than that.”

When asked about what convinced her to say yes to this film, Prachi expressed, “It just ticked all the boxes, there aren’t any specific requirements for every film that you do but it’s just the basics so whether it was a good and engaging script, the role was different and appealing and it’s made by a debutant female director. I’ve always wanted to work with female directors and feel like we need more of them in this industry and that is the case with this movie. I needed to do a strong role which is why I took a while to say yes to something and it happened when ‘Silence’ came my way and I immediately said yes.”

Sharing more insights from her experience, she said, “I love the film and love espionage thrillers, and murder mysteries in general. I don’t think you’ll believe this but I enjoy watching horror movies a lot and watch them often. With thrillers, it just keeps you at the edge of your seat most of the time if it’s written and directed well. This particular movie was a page-turner. When I was reading the script I just needed to know what’s gonna happen next and that’s a good sign.”

Sharing her experience of working with Manoj Bajpayee and being on sets with him, Prachi mentioned, “Manoj sir is like an institution in acting. I would just keep observing him the whole time on the set, watching him perform, how he prepares for every particular scene and trying not to creep him out while doing that. I feel a lot of things are going on in his head at a time, he is so talented. I think it rubs off very nicely on all of us as you want to also do well in the scene since he’s so good.”

She added, “He’s a very selfless actor. He makes sure that everybody in the scene is equally involved and if he ever feels like you can do something that will make your performance better, he shares that with everyone. The kind of involvement and dedication he has, despite being such a busy actor is commendable. He’s someone who’s done far more work than all of us in the film put together. Even then, he would just be involved with his 100% and probably worked as hard as we did. Considering the number of hours we worked, he doesn’t shy away from the hard work at all and that’s refreshing.”

On taking up a new role, Prachi said, “It was unplanned, an actor’s life is sometimes unpredictable. However, there came a point when I just felt like I needed to maybe detour from the roles that I’m doing and do something slightly different. It may not be earth-shattering but I needed that shift, and I don’t know if the casting directors or the filmmakers are lazy as they feel like this person does something well so keep on giving them the same role that makes their job easier as they don’t have to work hard with you to do something different.”

“That happened and repetitive things came my way. For a while, I enjoyed my space and made the most of it. But after a point, it felt like I can do so much more and needed people to open up to that. When that did not happen, you’re an actor and if you’re not a producer yourself, all you can do is probably wait or try and add something different to your role. But you only have this much only and you can do it within that scope as you can’t make a different film for yourself. The waiting period took a little longer than expected. Certain things in that span were very interesting but did not materialise for some reason, and as an actor, at times you never know how months and years pass by and then there we were struck with the Covid-19 pandemic and an entire year went into trying to deal with the new normal. After all the wait, I feel, it has been worth it.”

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THE ESSAR STEEL RESOLUTION: AN IBC SUCCESS STORY

One of the largest recoveries which happened after the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 was put into effect was the Essar Steel Ltd resolution. It brought benefits for the operational creditors, the banks and the company’s employees, which would not have been possible under the previous regime, and is proof of the merits of the new Code.

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Not long after the implementation of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), the Reserve Bank of India identified the first 12 large cases for the insolvency proceedings. The case of Essar Steel Ltd was one of them. The Essar Steel Ltd (ESL for short) had financial debts of Rs 49,000 crore. The money was owed to a group of banks led by SBI, which included PSU and private sector banks. The lenders referred ESL for insolvency resolution to NCLT Ahmedabad in July 2017. The NCLT admitted the insolvency proceedings in August 2017 and it was followed by the submission of EOL by five metal giants, including ArcelorMittal and Numetal. However, the government introduced Section 29A in the Code, which barred the promoters of companies that defaulted on loans for 12 months from submitting bids. Naturally, the lenders rejected the bids of ArcelorMittal and Numetal, because of default in Uttam Galva and KSS Petron Pvt Ltd. The bidders challenged this all the way to the Supreme Court, but weren’t successful. They were ordered to pay the dues of Uttam Galva and KSS Petron to be eligible for bidding. This was the legal side of the resolution proceedings.

Meanwhile, on the operational side, immediately after the admission of the insolvency proceedings, the NCLT and lenders appointed Shri Satish Kumar Gupta, an independent insolvency resolution professional. The lenders, after considering bids, appointed British company Alvarez & Marsal to run the company during resolution proceedings. Though it was not the lowest bidder, Alvarez & Marsal was appointed due to its reputation as a turnaround specialist as it had successfully managed large stressed firms. The team of Alvarez & Marsal managed to take the lenders on board, convinced the operational creditors (vendors) to extend the credit line and revived the operations of ESL. They managed to increase production from 4.60 lakh tonnes per month to 6.00 lakh tonnes per month! Steady international steel prices also helped. Within months, there was an operational turnaround of the company. By the time the appeals of ArcelorMittal were decided by the Supreme Court, there was an operational turnaround in the company. This encouraged ArcelorMittal to agree to pay the dues of Rs. 7,500 crore in the case of Uttam Galva and KSS Petron, and also to increase its bid for Essar Steel Ltd to Rs 42,000 crore from its initial bid of Rs. 29,000 crore, amounting to 92% of the credit liability. 

Here we want to make it clear that this resolution proceeding wasn’t a very smooth process. It had its share of obstacles. First, the promoters approached the Gujarat High Court in July 2017, challenging the RBI’s decision to identify Essar Steel among the first 12 large cases for insolvency resolution. However, they weren’t successful. Later the introduction of Section 29A resulted in the litigation being taken to the Supreme Court by the rejected bidders. In spite of all the obstacles, the realisation for financial creditors was completed within 850 days. One can say that the introduction of Section 29A helped the banks in getting additional realisation for ESL as well as Uttam Galva and KSS Petron Ltd.

BENEFIT TO THE BANKING SECTOR

Rs 42,000 crores (92%) were realised and introduced in the economy as against a debt of Rs. 49,000 crores. Imagine, what would have happened in the earlier system: the resolution would have involved a protracted legal battle for a decade or so, while the debtor company would have closed down operations, and assets, plants and machinery would have been put to disuse and decay. Finally only a pittance would have been recovered from whatever asset could be salvaged.

BENEFIT TO OPERATIONAL CREDITORS

Since the company continued to be run by the turnaround specialists, the OCs came on board and extended credits. The company achieved operational turnaround and so the operational creditors got to continue their business with the company and also realise their dues. This was a win-win for both the OCs and the company.

BENEFIT TO EMPLOYEES

The resolution proceedings ensured that not only did the company continue its operations but also achieved an operational turnaround. This was great news for employees who feared retrenchment. After the resolution, ArcelorMittal took over the company and continued its operations. Hence, most of the employees except the top management echelons would get to keep their jobs. This could never happen in resolution proceedings prior to the Code.

CONCLUSION

A word of caution here: not all cases result in such high realisations. The average realisation for financial creditors under the Code has been 46.84% within an average period of 380 days as compared to 23% over endless delays under the earlier regime. A significant benefit is the early realisation, as we all know there is a huge time cost for money. Further, the Code has enabled the realisation of 192.09% of the liquidation values (almost equal to market values).

As per the report of the IBBI, about 50.32% of insolvency proceedings (CIRPs) are initiated by the OCs. It’s further seen that more than half of the CIRPs initiated by the OCs have been closed on appeal, review or withdrawal, which indicates that for fear of losing control and ownership of the company, debtors have preferred to pay the OCs and resolve amicably.

Needless to say, the speedy and convenient resolution has greatly strengthened the business ecosystem, boosted the confidence and kindled animal spirits in the economy. Several good debt-laden companies like Essar Steel, Bhushan Steel, Electro Steel, Amtek Steel, Bhushan Power and Steel, Alok Industries, and Reliance Communications have been revived with minimal loss of employment, loss of assets or loss in production. 

The Code has given much required assurance and confidence to international investors too. No wonder, the rank of India in the index for Ease of Doing Business has seen a significant jump, from the 142nd position in 2014 to the 63rd in 2019. 

Sreenivas Bidari is a senior IRS officer hailing from Karnataka. Ranjit Kejriwal is an FCS and Registered Valuer (SFA). The views expressed are personal.

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CAPT AMARINDER APPROVES LEGISLATION OF TEACHERS’ TRANSFER POLICY

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CHANDIGARH : In a slew of decisions to further improve the functioning of schools in the state, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday gave in-principle approval for legislation of Teachers Transfer Act in the Vidhan Sabha, while announcing Rs 500/month increase in the salaries of Mid-Day Meal workers and distribution of another 2.14 lakh smartphones to Class XII government school students this year.

The enactment of legislation will give legal sanctity to the Teachers Transfer Policy introduced by his government in 2019 to make the entire process transparent, efficient and corruption-free, said the Chief Minister, pointing out that since the policy was brought in, not a single complaint of corruption had been received concerning the transfer of school teachers. Under the policy, which has now also been extended to non-teaching staff, of 1.12 lakh teachers, so far 21600 teachers had availed the benefit.

On the issue of salary hike for MDM workers, Captain Amarinder said it was a long pending demand of the workers, who had got a hike last in 2017. The move will benefit 42000 MDM workers in 19000 schools.

The Chief Minister further announced that the process of distribution of 2.14 lakh more smartphones will commence within three months, with budget allocation already made for 2020-21. The proposal will be cleared at the next meeting of the state cabinet, and orders for the phones will be placed immediately thereafter to enable distribution to commence within the time frame, said Captain Amarinder. The proposal for procurement of smartphones for these students had already been sent to the Department of Industries, he added.

Pointing out that 1.75 lakh students studying in class 12th had already been provided Smart Phones during 2020-21, the Chief Minister said 3502 Tablets had already been provided to the students of Government schools, while Rs. 5.25 crore had been kept aside for e-Libraries.

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Srinagar-Leh highway reopens for one-way traffic after four months

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Due to the hectic efforts of the Border Roads Organization (BRO), all the debris and snow has been cleared at and around the Zojila pass, which connects Kashmir with Leh, finally. Now the highway would be reopened after four months but only for one-way traffic.

Hundreds of trucks are waiting on both sides to cross over as the Srinagar-Leh road got closed again because of the fresh snow and avalanches in some areas.

BRO pressed its men and machinery and after a lot of efforts, they were able to clear the road on Tuesday. The officials told the media that vehicles carrying essential commodities are being allowed from Kashmir.

The DC Kargil told the media on Tuesday that they will reopen the Srinagar-Leh highway for one-way traffic and only light motor vehicles carrying essential commodities from Kashmir will be allowed to move towards Ladakh.

Beacon authorities have said on Tuesday that the decision to allow the traffic from both ways would be taken after monitoring the situation and taking into consideration the weather conditions prevailing in Kashmir and around Zojila pass.

Beacon had tried to keep the Srinagar-Leh highway open in February but the snowfall, avalanches and inclement weather forced them to temporarily close the highway again so that they could clear the debris and allow hundreds of trucks to move into the Ladakh region.

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A UNIFIED CALL CENTRE FOR CITIZEN GRIEVANCES IN PUNJAB BY MONTH-END

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CM Captain Amarinder Singh.

Punjab is all set to have a unified state-wide single-number call centre to address all citizen-centric grievances by the end of the month. Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday directed that the process to standardise the redressal mechanism be expedited, with instructions for bringing all the 500 citizen services in the state online, through the Sewa Kendras, within this year. He approved the recruitment of 503 personnel at various levels to give the necessary push for the process.

Chairing a virtual meeting of the Board of Governors of the Punjab State e-Governance Society (PSEGS), the Chief Minister also directed that for the convenience of citizens, Home Delivery of services and Tatkal services should also be launched from Sewa Kendras immediately. He ordered total computerisation and digitisation of the backend of the citizen-centric service mechanism to ensure effective and timely disbursal of services.

Currently, 329 services of various departments are being delivered from these Sewa Kendras to the citizens, with Saanj Kendras (Police) and Fard Kendras (Revenue) recently integrated into the system. These services shall also have a computerised backend and digitised legacy records.

To help achieve these targets, Captain Amarinder gave the go-ahead to the Department to hire 503 personnel at different levels.

Taking note of the success of the E-office in ensuring the smooth functioning of government offices, with reduced physical contact, during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Chief Minister also ordered the adoption of the E-office by all offices of the state government, including all Directorates, District and field offices, Boards, Corporations etc, by 31 May. This would enable the state to move toward paperless government functioning with increased efficiency and minimal human intervention, said an official spokesperson after the meeting.

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