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Try 16+ as adults in POCSO cases : Parliamentary panel

It has to be borne in mind that in the present circumstances we see that someone between 16 and 18 years of age can be tried as an adult, under POCSO or the Indian Penal Code, only if he/she is charged with heinous crimes such as murder or rape. This is definitely a glaring loophole in our penal law which needs to be plugged immediately. The decision usually vests with a Juvenile Justice Board. If tried as juveniles, they are sent to a reform home, not a jail. In addition, a process of rehabilitation is also drawn up.

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It has to be said right at the very outset that in a fresh, fine, favourable and fortunate development, according to people familiar with the matter, a top panel has recommended to the Union Government that it should reduce the age for trying people as adults under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act from 18 to 16 to check increasing crimes against children which is certainly a matter of grave concern also as the number of cases are certainly multiplying also very rapidly. How can all this be allowed to go unchecked, unhindered, unaccounted and unpunished under any circumstances? This is a long standing demand also of many women organisations also which has to be taken into account!

To put things in perspective, it must be pointed out that the top committee took note of the irrefutable fact that cases registered under POCSO rose from 32,608 in 2017 to 47,325 in 2019 that is an increase of nearly 45% in two years and made important recommendations to check cyber crime, improve the condition of sex workers and increase police accountability in cases of crimes against women. This should certainly be a matter of grave concern for all progressive minded citizens of India. It also cannot be glossed over that it was also noted that the stringent law was often misused to criminalise consensual relationships.

It has to be borne in mind that in the present circumstances we see that someone between 16 and 18 can be tried as an adult, under POCSO or the Indian Penal Code, only if they are charged with heinous crimes such as murder or rape. This is definitely a glaring loophole in our penal laws which needs to be plugged immediately. The decision usually vests with a Juvenile Justice Board. If tried as juveniles, they are sent to a reform home, not a jail. In addition, a process of rehabilitation is also drawn up.

As it turned out, it is then also pointed out that the Members of the Parliamentary Panel on Home Affairs felt that juveniles convicted of minor sexual offences may grow up to commit more heinous crimes if left unchecked and unaccounted for. Absolutely right! This alone explains why it asked the Union Home Ministry and Women and Child Development Ministry to see if the age limit could be reduced to 16.

In fact, it is my personal opinion that it goes beyond an iota of doubt that for crimes against women, age should certainly not be the criteria. Those who dare to indulge in such reprehensible and regressive acts must certainly be always awarded strict punishment even though I would like to add here that they must be given an opportunity to reform and rehabilitate also and not condemned to jail for whole life but in case of repeated offenders or those who do more than once, no opportunity should be given again nor should any leniency be shown towards them!

It goes without saying that when a men or boy knows how to commit a crime against women or girl then he must be fully prepared to meet the serious consequences also emanating from his cowardly, dastardly and despicable acts! To leave them lightly will certainly only encourage them to commit further more and more such crimes which will affect more and more innocent women and girls which our nation certainly cannot afford under any circumstances! This is what the lawmakers must always keep in mind while making such laws!

To tell the truth, these landmark, laudable and learned recommendations come at a time when there has been an alarming rise in cases of teenage boys raping or assaulting very young girls, some aged 3 or 4. There can be no tolerance for such most dastardly, most despicable and obviously most dangerous incidents of crimes against young girls! It needs no Albert Einstein to arrive at this palpable conclusion!

Needless to state, we also see how several experts too have said that this trend necessitates the move to reduce the threshold for trying suspects as adults. However, it cannot be ignored that some other experts argue that reducing the age would be contrary to the jurisprudence of juvenile justice. A balance had to be strike and this is precisely what the top panel has chosen to do also!

It would be pertinent to mention that the top panel’s recommendations will now be tabled in Parliament as early as next week. The top panel also pointed out earnestly, elegantly and effectively that there was potential of misuse of the law, citing information from states about cases where an 18-year-old boy has been arrested under POCSO for marrying a juvenile girl with her consent. This has to be certainly guarded against and ensured that no innocent is ever convicted. We saw how Vishnu Tiwari was jailed for 20 years and how he was just recently acquitted by the Allahabad High Court! Who will return his precious 20 years?

It cannot be also glossed over that the top panel also commended Uttar Pradesh for its good conviction rate under the law. On an unflattering note, it must be said seriously and sincerely that a huge credit for it certainly goes to the incumbent UP CM Yogi Adityanath who has shown full seriousness to ensure that no criminal is ever left unpunished or let off lightly under any circumstances. It is most unfortunate that he as MP in 1998-99 had strongly voiced his voice in favour of a High Court Bench in Gorakhpur but more than 21 years down the lane we see that Centre has still not catered to his legitimate demand nor has it catered to the legitimate demand of former PM late Atal Bihari Vajpayee who had himself demanded a High Court Bench for UP at Meerut while in his capacity as Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha in 1986!

It is a national tragedy that UP which is the biggest state of India has just one High Court Bench and that too so near to High Court at Allahabad at just 200 km away at Lucknow where there was just no need for Bench and yet created in 1948 but for more than 9 crore people of more than 26 districts there is not just a single Bench. This despite the unpalatable truth that Justice Jaswant Singh Commission had recommended 3 High Court Benches for UP and one for West UP yet in 2021 there is none! Why Centre pompously announces setting up of two more High Court Benches for a peaceful state like Karnataka with just 6 crore population at Dharwad and Gulbarga in 2008 first as circuit benches and then made full time Benches in 2013 but not a single for West UP which accounts for more than half of pending cases as Justice Jaswant Commission itself acknowledges? This too must be addressed at the earliest for it is UP which tops in maximum pending cases and not Karnataka and Maharashtra where Centre has approved Benches from time to time! This despite the irrefutable fact that it is Maharashtra which tops in Justice Index List and not UP or Bihar where there is not even a single High Court Bench!

In hindsight, it may be pointed out that POCSO which was enacted in 2012 was brought in to ensure that there is a prompt check on mounting crimes against children and lists the maximum punishment as life imprisonment and death. It defines a child as anyone under 18. The Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 which governs the proceedings against minors in India – was amended in 2015 to try some juveniles between 16 and 18 as adults if they were accused of heinous crimes that attracted a minimum punishment of seven years. The change came in the backdrop of the 2012 Delhi gang rape case where one of the accused was 17 and tried as a minor which created a huge national uproar!

Having said this, we ought to keep in mind what child rights expert Swagata Raha says on this that, “For heinous offence, children over 16 can be tried as adult, the provision already exists…This recommendation does not take into account numerous studies and the Tamil Nadu government’s submission that POCSO is being utilized to criminalise relationships.” We also ought to know that Enakshi Ganguly who is the co-founder of HAQ Centre for Child Rights, warned of the possibility of criminalizing consensual sex and said that, “We are seeing a spurt in such incidents across the government. Are we going to institutionalize this now? We need to be in a preventive mode, not a penal one.”

It is worth noting that the panel noted that cybercrime against women and children rose from 4,330 in 2017 to 8684 in 2019 and transcended geographical boundaries. Therefore the top panel recommended that law enforcement agencies across the country coordinate to check such crimes, the people added, on condition of anonymity. This is certainly the crying need of the hour also as better coordination will ensure that criminals don’t escape away unnoticed!

Be it noted, the panel’s discussion also focused its attention on criminals using Virtual Private Network (VPN) – which allow a user to mask their location – to access the dark web, bypass security walls and remain anonymous. It very rightly, reasonably and remarkably recommended that the Union government permanently identify and block such VPNs. There can be just no denying or disputing it!

It cannot be ever ignored nor should it ever be ignored that the Committee received several submissions about women complainants finding it difficult to lodge police complaints and suggested strict action against police officers and law enforcement personnel who refused to file such cases, or registered false cases. How can this be ever taken for granted or just glossed over? Strictest police accountability must be there on police so that this serious deficiency is addressed at the earliest! The panel also recognized that the government did not support the sanctity of sex work but highlighted the need to safeguard them from violence, protect their rights and provide them legal aid. Very rightly so!

It is a no-brainer that the first biggest step to help women is to make it easy for women to lodge FIR and for this she should not be made to the police station. There are good people in every department but their number too are now decreasing in every field which includes police also. It is widely reported also time and again that there are many policemen who either demand bribe or groundlessly refuse to lodge FIR or agrees to lodge FIR but on lesser serious IPC Sections and this is what urgently needs to be checked now and here!

To cite the most latest example is as reported in Hindustan Times dated March 12, 2021 in which the heading was “HUMILIATION BY COPS MAY HAVE FORCED RAPE SURVIVOR’S FATHER TO KILL SELF: KIN.” It was also written in this news that, “The father of a 13-yearr-old gang rape survivor who was killed after he was hit by a truck in Kanpur may have died by suicide due to police humiliation during the course of the probe, a release said on Thursday. The development came a day after the deceased’s brother, in an FIR, alleged that the incident was orchestrated by the accused – son of a local police officer and his friends. The relative, a cousin of the deceased, said the girl was repeatedly asked objectionable questions at the hospital when she was sent for medical examination. “Just imagine how one must have felt running from one hospital to another with police raising questions over the character of his daughter, that too in his presence,” the relative said. It was the manner in which the cops dealt with the case that perhaps drove the father to take his life, the relative said. “He was so frustrated with the police that he committed suicide,” he added. The family claimed that the questions were asked at health centres in two districts. The sub-inspectors and constables present on the spot did not care if their questions troubled the survivor’s father, he said. The teen was reportedly sent for medical examination five times across various medical centres. “Have you ever heard a rape survivor being examined so many times,” the girl’s uncle said.”

To sum up, all changes in laws are useless if the police are not reformed! It is a national tragedy that police reforms as were enunciated in Prakash Singh case in 2006 have not been implemented 15 years later in 2021! This is the real nub of the problem!

It merits no reiteration that policemen who err must be also severely punished as per law and held accountable for their serious wrongs as also lapses! Under no circumstances should they be let off by just suspending them for a brief period and then recalling them again once popular anger of people subsides! We keep seeing this time and again and therefore this must be redressed by our lawmakers!

Truth be told, the top panel must also suggest ways whereby a woman rape survivor is not made to run from pillar to post to get herself examined and to lodge an FIR plead as also her father and get harassed, humiliated and harangued for no fault of theirs thus thereby being punished doubly – first by criminals and then by police! This has to end once and for all if we truly want India to progress, prosper and become powerful in the real sense! No denying it!

Of course, Judges too must be very careful in ruling in such cases by adopting a zero tolerance approach and should ensure that victims always get full justice and never feel cheated in her fight for justice by letting off the victims lightly! Unless this happens, things are not going to change and status quo will either continue or things will deteriorate even further as criminals and sex offenders will become more and more emboldened after being let of lightly! We all saw recently how a sex offender in Hathras mercilessly killed the father of girl victim after coming out of jail while he was working in his field and that too in her presence!

To put it mildly: Can our law makers allow this ever to keep happening repeatedly right under their nose as has been the case most unfortunately till now? Certainly not! No doubt, the landmark, learned and laudable recommendations made by the top panel must certainly be implemented also promptly but other steps too need to be taken as hereinbefore discussed above so that no shortcoming or loophole is left unattended, unchecked and untreated! Very rightly so!

The panel noted that cybercrime against women and children rose from 4,330 in 2017 to 8,684 in 2019 and transcended geographical boundaries. Therefore, the top panel recommended that law enforcement agencies across the country should coordinate to check such crimes. This is certainly the crying need of the hour as better coordination will ensure that criminals don’t escape unnoticed.

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Policy & Politics

Clarion call for universal brotherhood and peace

Renowned spiritual gurus make strong pitch at Lokmat National Inter-Religious Conference in Nagpur.

Vijay Darda

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Nature and god cherish diversity. That is why they gave mankind flowers of different fragrances and fruits of different tastes. Human beings should accept this diversity while following religion too. There is only religion and that is humanity. And the only difference is that of creed, sect and the way of worship. Therefore, only by respecting each other’s beliefs, holding hands and moving forward, will the future generations become free from the evil of religious violence. In these words, the world renowned spiritual gurus gave the clarion call for universal brotherhood and peace to the world from Nagpur on Sunday.

Speaking at the Lokmat National Inter-Religious Conference organised by the Lokmat Media on the topic ‘Global Challenges to Communal Harmony and Role of India’ to mark the golden jubilee year of Lokmat’s Nagpur edition at Kavivarya Suresh Bhat Auditorium in Nagpur on Sunday, the spiritual gurus expressed concern over the growing incidences of violence globally. They said India, which is the origin of four main religions and which has maintained harmony through diversity for thousands of years, is already a spiritual world leader on the path of tolerance and harmony.

While the Union surface transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari was the chief guest at this conference, the mayor Dayashankar Tiwari was the guest of honour. The founder of the Art of Living Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of Patanjali Yogpeeth Swami Ramdev, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha’s Brahmaviharidas Swami, founder of Ahimsa Vishwa Bharti, New Delhi, Acharya Dr Lokeshmuni, Archbishop of Mumbai Cardinal Oswald Gracias, founder of Jeevanvidya Mission, Mumbai, Pralhad Wamanrao Pai, founder of Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre, Leh, Ladakh, Bhikkhu Sanghasena and Gaddi Nashin of Dargah Ajmer Sharif, Ajmer, Haji Syed Salman Chishty expressed their views during the conference. The chairman of editorial board of Lokmat Media and former member of Rajya Sabha Vijay Darda, editor-in-chief of Lokmat Media Rajendra Darda, managing director of Lokmat Media Devendra Darda, joint managing director of Lokmat Media Rishi Darda, director (operations) of Lokmat Media Ashok Jain and group editor Vijay Baviskar were also present on the occasion.

The rule of nature never changes and it cannot change. It does not have any religion and therefore, action guides the reaction. Keeping this in mind, social harmony can be established. There is a need to create mutual acceptance for other religions as well. Moreover, universal brotherhood can be achieved by establishing communal harmony and unity through mutual coexistence as well as non-violence and peace, the Dharmacharyas said in one voice.

Vijay Darda in his introductory remarks explained the objective behind organising this conference. The editor of Lokmat Samachar Vikas Mishra conducted the proceedings while Rajendra Darda proposed a vote of thanks. On this occasion, the dignitaries released the Lokmat Media’s Diwali special issues ‘Deepotsav’ and ‘Deepbhav’.

CONGREGATION OF DHARMACHARYAS FROM COUNTRY, ABROAD

The Dharmacharyas of all religions spared time from their busy schedule to attend this conference. Brahmaviharidas Swami specially came from the United States of America for this conference. Swami Ramdev came from Haridwar despite his tight schedule. Sri Sri Ravishankar arrived from Bengaluru on Sunday morning. Dr Lokeshmuni came from New Delhi, Bhikkhu Sanghasena from Ladakh while Haji Syed Salman Chishty came from Ajmer. Archbishop Cardinal Oswald Gracias and Pralhad Wamanrao Pai came from Mumbai. It may be noted here that for the first time after the coronavirus pandemic, so many Dharmacharyas came together and shared a platform at the conference organised by the Lokmat Media and the Nagpurians got an opportunity to witness the Congregation of Dharmacharyas.

IT’S IDEOLOGICAL KUMBH MELA, NOT CONFERENCE

The concept of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ is our ancient culture and communal harmony can be established through the feeling of Sarvadharma Samabhav. The world will get a message of love, peace and brotherhood due to this, said the Dharmacharyas at this conference. Organised at the heart of the country, this conference is actually the ideological Kumbh Mela, and the message and appeal of communal harmony conveyed through it should reach every part of the world, opined all Dharmacharyas.

GREETINGS OF SARSANGHCHALAK

The sarsanghchalak of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh Dr Mohan Bhagwat expressed his feelings through a video message. Dr Bhagwat said, “Religion is the connector. But if the human feeling is negative, people work to divide the society by abusing religion. This is because there is no interaction with each other. Therefore, we need to remind the community that we are one.”

DIVERSITY IS UNIQUENESS OF INDIA

The religion keeps people together. But some people plot to create hatred in the name of religion. But we should keep in mind that diversity has essence and god too is essence. Intellectuals become happy due to diversity and fools fight with each other. Diversity has to be accepted in human life. Sarvadharma Samabhav and diversity are unique qualities of India. It is the duty of the religion to solve various disputes and enmity.

– Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

WORLD HAS DANGER FROM RELIGIOUS, FINANCIAL AND POLITICAL TERRORISM

The world is facing biggest threat from religious, economic and political terrorism. The name should be Sarva Panth and not Sarva Dharma. Instead of saying that all will be Hindus, Muslims or Christians, we should say that all should be made human beings. The country works as per the Constitution while the society is based on spirituality. There is a need to take a stand that we all are united.

– Swami Ramdev

UNIFIED EFFORTS REQUIRED

Once upon a time, landing on the Moon or space travel were like dreams. But now they are reality now. Many feel that prevailing social harmony in the world is a dream. But it is my belief that this dream will be fulfilled. If the entire society makes collective efforts for spreading love, following rules and developing good life, the global social harmony can be established. Instead of expecting social harmony from the world, people have to start with themselves.

– Brahmaviharidas Swami

WORLD SHOULD BECOME NON-SECTARIAN, NOT SECULAR

Existence of others should be acknowledged as much as our own. Religion is humanity and we all are extensions of opinions. This country is not secular but non-sectarian. Today a positive feeling is required. This world is beautiful except for negativity. The chariot of messengers of peace here should go forward. The discussion on thoughts in this congregation of religious leaders should reach every part of the world. The lifestyle based on Ayurved, yoga-pranayam and restraint should be accepted once again.

– Acharya Dr Lokeshmuni

FOCUS ON SIMILARITIES, NOT CONTRADICTIONS, IN RELIGION

As the hatred is being spread in the name of religion, the world needs to create an attitude of acceptance of the existence of other religions along with mutual dialogue. The concept of god and some thoughts are different in every religion. But there are many similarities too. If we think with an open mind and brain, it will appear that we all have more of the same links than contradictions. Therefore, instead of paying attention towards contradictions, we should focus on the similarities.

– Cardinal Oswald Gracias

HUMANITY IS SOUL OF ALL RELIGIONS

Efforts to make each other happy and respect for each other’s feelings are worship to god. These are the values of human culture and these should be inculcated from childhood. Equality, civility, harmony, tolerance, gratitude and moral values are all values of life. These values will have to be inculcated and social harmony will be established. Humanity is very important in life and it is the soul of all religions.

– Pralhad Wamanrao Pai

VALUABLE ROLE OF INDIA FOR NON VIOLENCE, PEACE

Whatever is going on in the world is very disturbing and worrisome. Religious violence, war, aggression, hatred and prejudice have ravaged the world. In such a situation, the role of India is very important to make the world understand the importance of non-violence, peace and compassion. The time has come for us to be unified and find solutions to the problems of the world.

– Bhikkhu Sanghasena

‘DESTINY’ IS BASIC FOUNDATION OF ALL RELIGIONS

What feeling you are worshipping your god with is important. If any person offers namaz and commits any act which is a blot on humanity, his namaz is of no use. ‘Destiny’ is the basic foundation of all religions. Damage to the faith of any religion is the greatest crime.

– Haji Syed Salman Chishty

EVERYONE’S ‘RASHTRADHARMA’ IS SAME

Our clothes are different in colour. Similarly, the worship methods are different. The sects can be different. But, everyone has the same meaning. The ‘rashtradharma’ of all of us is one. This is the real strength of Indian culture. Our culture is not connected to any particular religion. Sarvadharma Samabhav is our philosophy. Respect for all is the way of life. Unity in diversity is the unique feature of our country.

– Nitin Gadkari

LOKMAT UPHELD IMPORTANCE OF SECULARISM

The Lokmat upheld the importance of secularism right from day one. It’s stand has been Sarvadharma Samabhav. No religion is bigger than humanity and we upheld these values. The Lokmat respected all religions and creeds. People have been living together since ages and ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ is the culture of the country. The guidance of Dharmacharyas on social harmony is important in the backdrop of the fundamentals in the current situation that were created in the name of religion.

– Vijay Darda

PATH OF PEACE, GOODWILL CAN PROTECT WORLD

At a time when people are being murdered in the name of religion globally, the world is looking to India for a solution to this problem. India’s responsibility at the global level has increased as it has been following the ideas of non-violence preached by Lord Mahavir, Tathagat Buddha, Guru Gobind Singh and Mahatma Gandhi. Only the path of peace and harmony can save the world.

– Rajendra Darda

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Photo Caption

Union surface transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari, mayor of Nagpur Dayashankar Tiwari, founder of the Art of Living Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of Patanjali Yogpeeth Swami Ramdev, founder of Ahimsa Vishwa Bharti Acharya Dr Lokeshmuni, Gaddi Nashin of Dargah Ajmer Sharif, Ajmer, Haji Syed Salman Chishty, founder of Jeevanvidya Mission, Mumbai, Pralhad Wamanrao Pai, Archbishop of Mumbai Cardinal Oswald Gracias, founder of Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre, Leh, Ladakh, Bhikkhu Sanghasena, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha’s Brahmaviharidas Swami, chairman of editorial board of Lokmat Media and former member of Rajya Sabha Vijay Darda, editor-in-chief of Lokmat Media Rajendra Darda, managing director of Lokmat Media Devendra Darda, joint managing director and editorial director of Lokmat Media Rishi Darda and group editor Vijay Baviskar holding their hands up together during the Lokmat National Inter-Religious Conference organised on the topic ‘Global Challenges to Communal Harmony and Role of India’ by the Lokmat Media at Kavivarya Suresh Bhat Auditorium in Nagpur on Sunday.

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Policy & Politics

Making it happen: Digital transformation in TNPFC

Anil Swarup

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Technology can transform governance and make life easy for the common man. The question is not about the availability of technology, it is about attitude of those that have to first appreciate its relevance and then to have the “courage” to use it. Chandra Kant Kamble, a young IAS officer did that in an organization that was archaic and conservative.

The Tamil Nadu Power Finance and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd., (TNPFC) was incorporated in 1991 as a wholly owned State Public Sector undertaking and registered as a Non-Banking Finance Company (Deposit). TNPFC started with capital of Rs 99 lakhs. The deposits grew to Rs 33,000 crores by 2019. The company mobilizes funds primarily through public deposits and has been funding Infrastructure projects undertaken by Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Limited (TANGEDCO). As on 31.03.2021, the company’s paid-up capital is Rs. 3767 Cr. TNPFC has been a profit-making company since its inception.

The total financial assistance provided to TANGEDCO for power generation and related projects by way of long-term and short-term loans is Rs. 1.56 lakh Crores. The net loan outstanding from TANGEDCO stood at Rs. 39,984.79 Cr on 31.3.21.

Fixed Deposit service offerings

Fixed deposits are mobilized from the public, Institutions, Government Departments and the State Government Schemes such as cash incentive scheme, Bread-winning scheme, Chief Minister’s Girl Child Protection Scheme, Oru Kala Pooja Scheme and Covid 19 Scheme. The average interest rate offered by the company is 150 basis points more than the rates provided by public sector banks. Steady growth of deposits was possible even during the pandemic, due to focused policies and an attractive interest rate on term deposits.

Legacy Challenges in TNPFC

When Chandra Kant took over as Managing Director of TNPFC in 2018 it had archaic database issues like data integrity, redundancy, partial data and data multiplicity. The company operated with less than 50 staff members and none of the branch operations had a digital channel such as a web portal or mobile application. TNPFC did not have the ability to collect payments online for the creation of new fixed deposits. Further, the company was unable to renew or close existing fixed deposits online. public depositors needed to visit the Chennai branch to receive the proceeds from closure of fixed deposits through a cheque instrument.

The regulatory directions on IT compliance and covid pandemic accelerated the pace of digital transformation at TNPFC, covering entire customer requirements fresh deposits, renewal, closure, nomination and other change request services

SOLUTION FRAMEWORK: INNOVATION, PROCESS CHANGE, TECHNOLOGY ADOPTION & CAPACITY BUILDING

Innovation

Online Web portal and mobile application based full fidelity deposit account creation for existing and new depositors, thereby offering deposit creation services 24 x 7 x 365 – a first for Government controlled NBFC.

Integration with Core Banking System to automate Cheque and Bank Statement reconciliation for both online and offline fixed deposit confirmation receipt generation.

Disbursement of Deposit Maturity proceeds directly via digital payment service integration across NEFT, RTGS, IMPS and UPI – providing real time business-hour payment services without cheque issuance and clearing delays.

CAPACITY BUILDING AND OPERATIONAL EFFICIENCY

Established Customer Support Team for managing average daily queries of 300 emails, 200 IVR calls and 100 postal requests.

Journey from 7154 backlog emails, to responding on same day basis. Between April and July, TNPFC responded to 12,411 emails compared to pre-covid period of less than 20 emails per day.

Automated online BoT based verification process for PAN Card and Aadhaar verification process for KYC norms. Video Conferencing for Video KYC towards Customer Identity Confirmation process as per RBI Regulatory Compliance.

THE IMPACT

Digital Transformation of web portal and mobile application led to the mobilization of retail deposits of over Rs. 1080 Crores through online channels alone, during the period from April 2020 till May, 2021

Cloud Computing operations automation enabled TNPFC mobile deposits online 24×7 with integrated payment gateway services and instant deposit confirmation receipt generation.

Provided digital banking experience through Digital Channels (Web & Mobile) for depositor interactions and service requests processing, thereby eliminating the need for physical presence.

Timely disbursement of deposit funds for beneficiaries approved by Social Welfare and School Education departments / State Government. Fund disbursement of Rs. 1626 Cr in real-time to 8 lakh beneficiaries across 32 districts, through the launch of online payment services integration by Hon’ble Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.

Improved Treasury and Fund Flow management through the adoption of purpose- built Executive Workflow Management Application, thereby drastically transforming Fund Management towards transparent Cashflow pipeline visibility and approval process workflows for Government Securities Investments. Cloud deployment of GoI MEITY empaneled Cloud Service Data archival and retention towards regulatory compliance adherence. Adoption of Business Continuity Plan towards robust operational management of TNPFC ICT preparedness and operational support during the pandemic led workplace and workforce restrictions.

IMPACT ON DIGITAL INTERACTIONS

In the middle of Covid-19 pandemic, the TNPFC management focused on improving depositor user experience through digital adoption across NBFC operations using automation and integration to re-organize diverse systems. The emphasis was on advanced analytics driven customer support for digital channels (email, IVR, WhatsApp) and a 24×7 Online web portal & mobile App for common citizens to carry out deposit service requests from the comfort of their homes.

With digitalization of every function, TNPFC has shifted from generic demography of retired service personnel to a more “smart experience”, that provides a digital banking experience for all types of depositors, which is a refreshing change for a government run NFBC.

Financial performance

The CRAR (Capital adequacy) improved from 3.4% to 13.48%. For the first time, TNPFC started treasury operations, invested @1800 Cr in Gsec and T bills (earned @ 40 Cr) and used call options for Rs1000 cr bond repayment saving interest payment @ Rs 45 Cr. Profits that stood at Rs 83.20 Cr during 2018-19 rose to Rs 505.03 Cr during 2019-20 and further to Rs 723 Cr (unaudited) in 2020-21

Chandra Kant Kamble made it happen in an organization that had not looked at technology as a tool for improving its performance. He could make-it-happen on account of his foresight and his ability to convince the stakeholders about the whole idea and his team to deliver that idea.

Anil Swarup has served as the head of the Project Monitoring Group, which is currently under the Prime Minister’s Offic. He has also served as Secretary, Ministry of Coal and Secretary, Ministry of School Education.

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Policy & Politics

INDIAN REAL ESTATE SECTOR ATTRACTS $1.8 BN PE FUNDS IN H1 FY22, Y-O-Y RISE OF 27%

Tarun Nangia

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TOP 10 DEALS IN H1 FY 2022

Displaying continued confidence on the Indian real estate sector, private equity funds pumped about USD 1,790 Mn into the sector in the first half of the FY2022, finds ANAROCK Capital’s latest Flux Market Monitor for Capital Flows in Indian Real Estate. This is a 27% growth over the corresponding period in FY 2021 when inflows were approx. USD 1,410 Mn.

“The average ticket size for the PE deals in the current period declined by 32% – from USD 114 Mn in H1 FY21 to USD 78 Mn in H1 FY22,” says Shobhit Agarwal, MD & CEO – ANAROCK Capital. “Notably, investors this time preferred single city deals in contrast to multi-city deals. As seen, the share of multi-city deals reduced from 77% to 42% in H1 FY 2022. Further, the top 10 deals in H1 FY22 contributed a approx. 81% of the total PE investments in the country.”

In comparison with H1 FY21, structured debt and equity witnessed considerable growth in H1 FY22, at 25% and 28% respectively. Structured debt went primarily towards project-level assets.

SEGMENT-WISE BREAKUP

Of the total private equity inflows of USD 1,790 Mn in the period:

• The commercial office sector once again attracted the bulk of investments – nearly 33% or approx. USD 591 Mn.

• The Industrial & Logistics sector saw significant investments of approx. USD 537 Mn in H1 FY22, comprising a 30% overall share.

• Residential sector saw investments to the tune of USD 394 Mn i.e., approx. 22% of the total PE funds.

• Data Centres, Land and Mixed-use developments attracted the remaining 15% of the overall PE inflows comprising 5% each

Data further revealed that while overall PE inflows in Indian real estate increased in H1 FY2022, the share of foreign funds reduced by 19% as compared to H1 FY21. Investments by domestic funds jumped from less than USD 10 Mn in H1 FY21 to USD 650 Mn in H1 FY22, a reflection of the improving situation in the country resulting in higher confidence by domestic funds.

OTHER NOTABLE TRENDS

With total PE investments seeing a close to 27% yearly jump in H1 FY2022, investor confidence in Indian real estate is seen to be increasing.

• Foreign investors continued to remain major contributors with a approx. 63% share of the total inflows of USD 1790 Mn. However, in the same period of FY2021, they contributed a 99% share. This indicates the growing confidence of domestic funds amid the growing economy despite the second COVID-19 wave.

• Investors have maintained their confidence in listed REITs. Post the dip in market capitalisation earlier this year, REITs have bounced back well.

• Demand for flexi offices is gaining momentum; they are expected to attract more PE investments over the next 1-2 years.

• Operators are aggressively looking at expansion of data centres across major locations in the country.

• Like seen in FY2021 trends, last-mile funding continues to gain momentum. SWAMIH Fund & various foreign funds are actively evaluating and executing various options.

• The residential sector is witnessing accelerated consumer demand amid growing preference for homeownership coupled with historically low home loan rates. Investors will seek various investment themes within this asset-class.

• Private equity investments were approx. USD 1.41 bn in corresponding period of FY21

• Commercial sector attracted highest investments (of 33%), followed by Industrial & Logistics (30%) & Residential (22%)

• Investors this time preferred single city deals in contrast to multi-city deals earlier; top 10 deals in H1 FY22 contributed nearly 81% of the total PE investments in the country

• Avg. ticket size for PE deals declined 32% – from USD 114 Mn in H1 FY21 to USD 78 Mn in H1 FY22

• While overall PE inflows in Indian RE increased, share of foreign funds reduced 19% in H1 FY22 compared to H1 FY21; investments by domestic funds jumped from less than USD 10 Mn in H1 FY21 to USD 650 Mn in H1 FY22, reflecting their confidence

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Policy & Politics

KARNATAKA HC DIRECTS STATE TO COMPLY WITH SC DIRECTIONS BARRING INSTALLATION OF STATUES ON PUBLIC ROADS, PAVEMENTS

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In a welcome, wonderful and wise judgment titled Akhila Bharata Kshatriya Mahasabha v. State of Karnataka in WP No. 49960/2017 delivered on September 7, 2021, the Karnataka High Court has directed the State Government to ensure compliance with the landmark, learned and laudable directions of the Supreme Court barring installation of statues or construction of any structure in public roads, pavements, sideways and other public utility places. This was the crying need of the hour also. Now the State Government in Karnataka is duty bound to comply with it.

To start with, this brief, brilliant and balanced judgment authored by the then Acting Chief Justice Of Karnataka High Court – Hon’ble Mr Satish Chandra Sharma for himself and Hon’ble Mr Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum sets the ball rolling first and foremost in para 2 wherein it is put forth that, “The facts of the case reveal that the 1st petitioner is an All India Trust and 2nd petitioner is the State level Trust, as stated in the petition, involved in the work of social economical upliftment of the people belonging to backward and downtrodden community. Their grievance is that inspite of the order passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court on 18.01.2013 in SLP.No.8519/2006 the bust of Sri.Shivarathri Rajendra Swamiji at the southern entrance of Mysore palce near Gun house is being installed and the State Government has granted permission for the same. The order of the State Government dated 3.3.2017 is on record and a prayer has been made for quashment of the order of the State Government (Annexure-E) as well as the order dated 28.8.2017 (Annexure-F) meaning thereby that the prayer has been made for quashment of the resolution passed by the Mysuru Mahanagara Palike as well as the State Government for installing the statue of Sri. Shivaratri Rajendra Mahaswamy at Gun house circle, which is on the main road. It has also been stated by the petitioners that a request was also made initially for installing the statue of Sri. Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wodeyar to the District Urban Development Cell and the same was rejected citing the judgment of the Apex Court and inspite of the judgment of the Apex Court, permission has been granted to install the statue of Sri. Shivarathri Rajendra Swamiji.”

 To put things in perspective, the Bench then points out in para 3 that, “The State Government has filed the statement of objections and the stand of the State Government is that the present petition has been filed with the vested interest, as the request of the petitioners was turned down for installing the statue of Sri. Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wodeyar and it is only after their request was turned down, they are raising hue and cry as the State Government has granted permission to install the statue of Sri. Shivarathri Rajendra Mahaswamy at Gun House circle. It has been stated that the Supreme Court in the case of Union of India .vs. State of Gujarath and others has directed not to grant any permission for installation of any statue or construction of any structure in public roads, pavements, sideways and other public utility places. However, the Gun House Circle is in existence since from the Maharaja’s period and there are several such circles in Mysuru City and several such statues are already in existence and therefore, Mysuru Mahanagara Palike has taken a decision to instal the statue of Sri. Shivaratri Rajendra Mahaswamy in the Gun House Circle as the circle is in existence since long time and it is not part of the public road nor does it fall within the definition of pavement, sideways and other public places.”

Quite rightly, the Bench then enunciates in para 8 that, “The undisputed facts of the case makes it very clear that the place where the statue in question is likely to be installed is certainly one of the most busy square near Mysuru palace near Gus House. The map has been filed by the State Government and the same reveals, as many as six roads are joining at the square and the circle is certainly the part of the road. It is really strange that the respondent-State Government has stated before this Court that it is not part of the road. Colour photographs have also been filed in the matter. The maps and all other documents clearly establish that the spot is in the center of the road and therefore, the issue is whether the statue can be installed at the center of the road on the circle which is in existence?”

Quite significantly, the Bench then hastens to recall in para 9 that, “The order passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Special Leave to Appeal(Civil) No.8519/2006 dated 18.01.2013 on I.A.No.10/2012 reads as under:

1. We have heard Mr. Basavaprabhu S. Patil, learned senior counsel for the applicant and Mr. M.T. George, learned counsel for the State of Kerala.

2. Mr. M.T. George, leaned counsel for the State of Kerala placed before us a copy of the order dated September 7, 2011 passed by the Government of Kerala granting permission for installation of statue of late Shri. N. Sundaran Nadar, Ex-Deputy Speaker of Kerala Legislative Assembly near to Neyyattinkara-Poovar Road in the curve turning to the KSRTC Bus Stand Neyyattinkara in the Kanyakumari National Highway near bus stand.

3. We have our doubt whether such permission could have been granted by the State Government for installation of statue on the national highway.

4. Until further orders, we direct that the status-quo, as obtaining today, shall be maintained in all respects by all concerned with regard to the Triangle Island where statue of late Shri. N. Sundaran Nadar has been permitted to be sanctioned. We further direct that henceforth, State Government shall not grant any permission for installation of any statue or construction of any structure in public roads, pavements, sideways and other public street lights or construction relating to electrification, traffic, toll or for development and beautification of the streets, highways, roads etc. and relating to public utility and facilities.

5. The above order shall also apply to all other states and union territories. The concerned Chief Secretary/Administrator shall ensure compliance of the above order.””

Most significantly, the Bench then makes it clear in para 10 that, “The Hon’ble Supreme Court has categorically directed the State Governments not to grant any permission for installation of any statue or construction of any structure in public roads, pavements, sideways and other public utility places and therefore, on account of the order passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court, the question of permitting the State Government and the Mysure Mahanagara Palike to install the statue does not arise.”

Furthermore, what is equally significant is that the Bench then also makes it pretty clear in para 11 that, “In the considered opinion of this Court, neither the petitioners nor any one can install the statue on the island which is on the road (circle which is on the road) keeping in view the judgment delivered by the Hon’ble Supreme Court.”   

Finally and as a corollary, the Bench then holds in para 12 that, “Resultantly, the writ petition is allowed. The impugned orders passed by the State Government dated 3.3.2017 and the order dated 28.8.2017 of the 2nd respondent-Mysuru Mahanagara Palike are hereby quashed. The State Government is also directed to ensure compliance of the directions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the entire State of Karnataka.”

 In conclusion, it may well be said that the Karnataka High Court Bench comprising of the then Acting Chief Justice Hon’ble Mr Satish Chandra Sharma and Hon’ble Mr Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum have by this cogent, commendable, composed and convincing judgment left not even an iota of doubt of any kind that the State Government of Karnataka has just no option but to comply with the Supreme Court directions baring installations of statues on public roads and pavements. This is specifically elaborated upon most elegantly in para 9 and 10 which the State Government of Karnataka has to adhere to in totality. This will certainly well serve the public interest also which should always be paramount under all circumstances also!

Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate

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Policy & Politics

Textiles sector poised for a $100 bn export: Vikram Jardosh, MoS for Textiles

Industry should take full advantage full advantage of the global market shifts: Secretary, Ministry of Textiles.

Tarun Nangia

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The Government has set a strong aspirational goal of achieving $100 billion from textiles exports in thenext 5 years and we will remain committed to ensure implementation of all development schemes and bring in many more schemes in pursuit of this aspiration, said Darshana Vikram Jardosh, Minister of State for Textiles, Ministry of Textiles, Government of India.

Government has already announced MITRA scheme to attract new investments and build mega textile parks in the country. Other significant programs including the launch of PLI scheme for achieving manufacturing excellence and RoDTEP for enhancing export competitiveness will help India to position it as a global leader in the sector.

The Minister was speaking at the inauguration of TEXCON: The 13th edition of the International Conference on Textiles & Apparel organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry today. A specialCII-Kearney report was also released on “Creating a competitive advantage for India in the global textiles and apparel industry”. The report covers the entire textile value chain and highlights the imperatives for both government and industry to bring global positioning for the sector.

Speaking on the occasion, Upendra Prasad Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Textiles said that the Government is making all efforts to proactively address the challenges and facilitate the creation of an enabling environment for the growth and development of the Textiles and Apparel sector. “We are capable to meet the domestic as well as the global market demands. I would like to urge the industry to take full advantage of the present global market shifts in establishing the excellence and prominence of India globally.”

Dilip Gaur, Chairman, CII National Committee on Textiles and Apparel & Managing Director, Grasim Industries Limited, Aditya Birla Group said, achieving breakthrough growth in Indian textiles will imply doubling down on multiple areas. The key ones include increasing share in MMF fiber and yarn, become regional leaders in apparel and fabrics and further augmenting India’s position as global home textiles leader. “Government of India has already shown strong commitment to this sector by launching multiple mega schemes in recent times which set a very positive tone for the future and to energize all industry stakeholders to take necessary steps forward in achieving the goals”, he added.

Kulin Lalbhai, Co-Chairman, CII National Committee on Textiles and Apparel & Executive Director, Arvind Ltd said, “The growing sentiment around “China plus one” sourcing is a golden opportunity for Indian textiles to stage a turnaround and gain back its leadership position as a lead exporting economy.” India is much better placed to maximize this opportunity as compared to competitors like Vietnam and Bangladesh because of India’s strategic depth.

Dilip Gaur, Chairman, CII National Committee on Textiles and Apparel & Managing Director, Grasim Industries Limited, Aditya Birla Group said, achieving breakthrough growth in Indian textiles will imply doubling down on multiple areas. The key ones include increasing share in MMF fiber and yarn, become regional leaders in apparel and fabrics.

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Policy & Politics

Piyush Goyal calls for free trade within rules-based multilateral trading system

We must work to resolve issues posed by Non-Tariff Barriers in international trade: Piyush Goyal.

Tarun Nangia

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The Minister of Commerce and Industries, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution and Textiles, Piyush Goyaltoday called for free trade within a rules-based multilateral trading system with honesty and transparency as core values. He added that wherever India faces an unfair or unjust treatment, it will take reciprocal action. Shri Goyal also emphasized upon the need for resolution of issues posed by Non- Tariff Barriers in international trade. He was addressing the 54th Convocation of Indian Institute of Foreign Trade in New Delhi today.

Referring to India’s recent achievement of 100 crore vaccines, he said that the milestone was the result a collective effort of 130 crore Indians and a proof of India’s ‘Atmanirbhartha’ and its resolve to leverage its capacities to the best possible extent and to serve the needs of the entire world.

Piyush Goyal said that a convocation is an important ceremony that marks the next step in the journey of the graduates when they grow from ‘acquisition of knowledge’ to ‘application of knowledge’.

He commended IIFT for contributing immensely to India’s external trade since its establishment in 1963. He said that IIFT has been widely recognized for its strong knowledge &resource base and has been consistently ranked amongst theleading business schools in the Asia-Pacific Region.

Underscoring the need for a committed and vibrant leadership in the field of academics in India, Shri Piyush Goyal called for enhancing exposure of our students to the best of technology, foreign law, economics, and international trade. Calling for tie-ups of Indian Universities with institutions of eminence across the world, he asked Indian universities to enter into sustained collaborations with such institutions.

Encouraging academic institutions to engage on a much larger scale with the industry, Shri Goyal asked students to take up internships with both the public sector and private players. Speaking of the opportunities offered by online education, Shri Goyal called for more exploration into online and hybrid modes of education.

Piyush Goyal told the students that they were graduating amidst one of the most disruptive events in the collective memory of our times. He emphasized that in the post-COVID ‘New Normal’, we can no longer play by the old rules. He called for using the disruptive interventions brought about by COVID to reorient our conventional, traditional thinking processes. Offering two cents from his versatile experience in foreign trade, Shri Goyal urged the students to ‘Learn, Unlearn, Relearn and Repeat’.

Piyush Goyal said that despite challenges, India under PM Modi has aimed to convert a crisis into an opportunity for transformation. He said that India is being looked upon as a trusted partner & we are engaging with like-minded nations e.g. EU, UK, Canada, Australia & UAE for early conclusion of FTAs.

Referring to India’s ambitious programmes like the PM GatiShakti National Master Plan for infrastructure and multimodal connectivity, Shri Goyal said that there was a need for planned, focussed efforts to create infrastructure in the country by breaking silos and bringing in synergy. “There is a need to bring in quality and productivity in all we do. A ‘Made in India’ product must be a guarantee to the world”, he added.

Applauding the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s visionary leadership, Goyal said that India’s decisive leadership, strong industry, vibrant media and its resolve to uphold the rule of law, had made India a trusted partner to world nations.

Lamenting that India had suffered from several missed opportunities in the past, Shri Goyal expressed the hope that we would now be able to seize every opportunity available to us to grow. “The past is a stepping stone, not a milestone”, he added.

Observing that contemporary India was confident & yet dissatisfied, he said that dissatisfied, confident people are the ones who would change the world. He urged fellow Indians to never settle for less and to work together to make India a global leader.

On the occasion, Shri Goyal presented several awards for excellence to graduating students.

Encouraging academic institutions to engage on a much larger scale with the industry, Shri Goyal asked students to take up internships with both the public sector and private players. Speaking of the opportunities offered by online education, Shri Goyal called for more exploration into online and hybrid modes of education.

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