One million amphibian species at risk of extinction

40% of amphibian species, more than a third of all marine mammals threatened: UN report

Relentless pursuit of economic growth, twinned with the impact of climate change, has put an ”unprecedented” one million species at risk of extinction, scientists said on Monday in a landmark report on the damage done by modern civilisation to the natural world. Only a wide-ranging transformation of the global economic and financial system could pull ecosystems that are vital to the future of human communities worldwide back from the brink of collapse, concluded the report, which was endorsed by 130 countries, including the U.S., Russia and China.

Image result for marine mammals“The essential, interconnected web of life on Earth is getting smaller and increasingly frayed,” said Professor Josef Settele, who co-chaired the study, launched in Paris on Monday by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). “This loss is a direct result of human activity and constitutes a direct threat to human well-being in all regions of the world.”

145 authors, 50 countries

Compiled by 145 expert authors from 50 countries, the study is a cornerstone of an emerging body of research that suggests the world may need to embrace a new “post-growth” form of economics if it is to avert the existential risks posed by the mutually-reinforcing consequences of pollution, habitat destruction and carbon emissions. Known as the Global Assessment, the report found that up to one million of Earth’s estimated eight million plant, insect and animal species is at risk of extinction, many within decades.

The authors identified industrial farming and fishing as major drivers with the current rate of species extinction tens to hundreds of times higher than the average over the last 10 million years. Climate change caused by burning the coal, oil and gas produced by the fossil fuel industry is exacerbating the losses, the report found. Robert Watson, a British environmental scientist who chairs the IPBES, said it would be possible to start conserving, restoring and using nature sustainably only if societies were prepared to confront “vested interests” committed to preserving the status quo.

Known as the Global Assessment, the report found that up to one million of Earth’s estimated eight million plant, insect and animal species is at risk of extinction, many within decades.

“The report also tells us that it is not too late to make a difference, but only if we start now at every level from local to global,” Mr. Watson said in a statement. “By transformative change, we mean a fundamental, system-wide reorganisation across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values.”

The report’s blunt language echoed the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which said in October that profound economic and social changes would be needed to curb greenhouse gases quickly enough to avert the most devastating consequences of a warming world.

The findings will also add to pressure for countries to agree bold action to protect wildlife at a major conference on biodiversity due to take place in China towards the end of next year.

3-year review

The Global Assessment contained a litany of estimates made after a three-year review of some 15,000 scientific papers that showed the profound impact of the rise of a globalised industrial society on the planet over the past half century.

Combining wide-ranging disciplines to measure how the loss of the natural world affects human societies, the report identified a range of risks, from the disappearance of insects vital for pollinating food crops, to the destruction of coral reefs that support fish populations that sustain coastal communities, or the loss of medicinal plants. The report found that the average abundance of native species in most major land-based habitats has fallen by at least 20%, mostly since 1900.

The threatened list includes more than 40% of amphibian species, almost 33% of reef-forming corals, and more than a third of all marine mammals. The picture was less clear for insect species, but a tentative estimate suggests 10% are at risk of extinction. “We have been running from one frontier to another frontier trying to find cheap nature (to exploit) in every corner of the planet,” said Eduardo Brondizio, a professor of anthropology at Indiana University in the United States who co-chaired the Global Assessment. “The key message: business as usual has to end.”

PARIS, MAY 06, 2019

Cyclone Fani: A rare one to hit Indian shores

Cyclone Fani: A rare one to hit Indian shores

Cyclone Fani, one of the biggest storms in years to make landfall in India, slammed the city of Puri in Odisha with winds raging up to 200 kmph on Friday. Though, in terms of maximum windspeed, Fani is only the seventh highest among cyclones to have originated from the Northern Indian Ocean since the 2000s, very rarely do such cyclones which were formed in the month of April over the Bay of Bengal go on to make landfall in India. This makes Fani a unique case of a cyclone that originated in April.

The following image shows the path of all severe cyclones ( maximum wind speed of >47 knots) to have originated in the month of April over the Bay of Bengal between 1891 and 2017.

Cyclone Fani: a rare one to hit Indian shores

As can been seen from the image, only once before, April 1966 to be precise, did such a severe cyclone hit the Indian mainland.

A rarity

April is an unusual month for a cyclone in India. Of the 1,528 recorded depressions/cyclonic storms/severe cyclones over the North Indian Ocean since 1891, only 45 (3%) occurred in the month of April. Thats the fifth least among all months after July, February, March and January.

Table shows depressions (maximum wind speed between 17 and 33 knots) / cyclonic storms (between 34 and 47 knots) / severe cyclones (>47 knots) occurred between 1891 and 2019 over the North Indian Ocean.

cyclone tableObservations from the table

1. Depressions (those which does not get converted to bigger cyclones) are lowest at the start of a year and gradually increase and peak at August before dropping again in number terms.

2. But, cyclonic storms and severe cyclones follow a slightly different pattern. Their numbers first peak in May and then dip only to peak again in October-November.

Interestingly, the probability of a depression getting converted into a Cyclonic Storm/ Severe Cyclone is very high in April. 44% of all storms in April were Severe Cyclones, a number that is less only than the number for the month of May (48%).

Table shows the share of recorded depressions/cyclonic storms/severe cyclones in various months between 1891 and 2019

cyclone table 2

How big is Fani?

The Indian Meteorological Department had issued a warning that the Cyclone Fani will reach the Odisha coast on Friday afternoon with maximum speed of 170-180 kmph going up to 200 kmph or 108 knots. How does this maximum speed compares to other cyclones since 2000 in the North Indian Ocean?

In the 178 depressions/cyclonic storms/severe cyclones recorded since 2000, Fani’s Maximum Sustained Surface Wind of 108 knots was the seventh highest.

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When only the month of April is considered, Fani’s maximum speed is the highest recorded since the 2000s,  closely followed by Cyclone Mala which was formed over Bay of Bengal and proceeded to make landfall in Myanmar in 2006.  Table shows the top 25 cyclones in terms of maximum wind speeds recorded since 2000.

cyclone table 3

It does not necessarily mean that higher the wind speed, the damage would be higher. Some of the cyclones listed never made landfall in India or had weakened before the event.

 -MAY 03, 2019

Air pollution is third-highest cause of death in India

Air pollution is third-highest cause of death in India among all health risks: report

On an average, the life of a South Asian child born today will be shortened by 2 years and 6 months growing up in current high levels of air pollution, while the global life expectancy loss is 20 months. This when current exposure to outdoor and indoor Air pollution contributed to over 1.2 million deaths In India in 2017, according to a new global study, State of Global Air 2019 (SOGA2019), released on 03 April, 2019.

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The report published by Health Effects Institute (HEI) said that worldwide, air pollution was responsible for more deaths than many better-known risk factors such as malnutrition, alcohol use, and physical inactivity.

In India, air pollution is the third-highest cause of death among all health risks, ranking just above smoking; each year, more people globally die from air pollution related disease than from road traffic injuries or malaria.

In China and India

The study found that China and India together were responsible for over half of the total global attributable deaths, with each country witnessing over 1.2 million deaths from all air pollution in 2017. China has made initial progress, beginning to achieve air-pollution decline.

Overall, long-term exposure to outdoor and indoor air pollution contributed to nearly 5 million deaths from stroke, diabetes, heart attack, lung cancer, and chronic lung disease in 2017.

Out of these, 3 million deaths are directly attributed to PM2.5, half of which are from India and China together. The South Asian region — Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan — led the world as the most polluted, with over 1.5 million air-pollution related deaths according to the report.

‘Steps taken in India’

“At the same time, India has initiated major steps to address pollution sources: the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana Household LPG program, accelerated Bharat Stage 6/VI clean vehicle standards, and the new National Clean Air Programme. These and future initiatives have the potential, if fully implemented as part of a sustained commitment to air quality, to result in significant health benefits in coming years,” said Robert O’Keefe, vice president, Health Effects Institute.

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Meanwhile, for the first time, this year’s report and website include worldwide estimates of the effect of air pollution on life expectancy. Worldwide, air pollution reduced life expectancy by an average of 20 months in 2017, a global impact rivaling that of smoking; this means a child born today will die 20 months sooner, on average, than would be expected without air pollution.

The report also highlighted that nearly half of the world’s population — a total of 3.6 billion people — were exposed to household air pollution in 2017. Globally, there has been progress: the proportion of people cooking with solid fuels has declined as economies develop.

But in India, 60% of the population still uses solid fuels; in Bangladesh that number rises to 79%, underscoring the importance of achieving success in government initiatives to address the problem.

The State of Global Air 2019 annual report and accompanying interactive website are designed and implemented by the Health Effects Institute in cooperation with the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Texas, Austin.

NEW DELHI, APRIL 03, 2019

Indian National Congress Sessions from its inception

Indian National Congress Sessions from its inception 

From its foundation on 28 December 1885 by A.O. Hume, until the time India gained its independence on 15 August 1947, the Indian National Congress was considered to be the largest and most prominent Indian public organization, as well as the central and defining influence of the long Indian Independence Movement.

Retired British Indian Civil Service (ICS) officer Allan Octavian Hume founded the Indian National Congress (A political party of India, to Free India from the British Colonial rule) in order to form a platform for civil and political dialogue among educated Indians. After the Indian Rebellion of 1857, control of India was transferred from the East India Company to the British Empire. British-controlled India, known as the British Raj, or just the Raj, worked to try to support and justify its governance of India with the aid of English-educated Indians, who tended to more familiar with and friendly to British culture and political thinking. Ironically, a few of the reasons that the Congress grew and survived, particularly in the 19th century era of undisputed British dominance or hegemony, was through the patronage of British authorities and the rising class of Indians and Anglo-Indians educated in the English language-based British tradition.

first_indian_national_congress_1885

On 28 December 1885, 72 social reformers, journalists and lawyers congregated for the first session of the Indian National Union at Gokuldas Tejpal Sanskrit College, Bombay; the conference was renamed as the Indian National Congress. It took place under the leadership of  Womesh Chandra Bonnerjee.

The second session of the Congress took place under the leadership of Dadabhai Naoroji on December 27, 1886 in Calcutta. The number of delegates had increased to 434. Towards the end of the session, the Congress decided to set up Provincial Congress Committees across the country.

The Post Liberalization Era (1990-2018)

The Post Independence Era (1947-1990)

The Pre Independence Era (1900-1947)

All-party resolution; In solidarity with forces in defending India’s unity

All-party meeting resolution: In solidarity with forces in defending India’s unity

An All-party meeting on Saturday on the car bomb attack on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama, Kashmir, that killed 40 jawans adopted a unanimous resolution to condemn terrorism and the support it receives from across the border. The meeting was presided by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

Opposition leaders told Mr. Singh that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should convene another meeting with the leaders of the national and regional parties to discuss the future course of action. “We condemn terrorism in all forms and the support being given to it from across the border. India has, during the past three decades, faced the menace of cross-border terrorism. Of late, terrorism in India is being actively encouraged by the forces from across the border. India has showed both firmness and resilience in dealing with these challenges,” read the resolution. “The entire nation speaks in one voice to express its determination to fight these challenges. Today, we stand united, in solidarity with our security forces in fighting terrorism, and in defending the unity and integrity of India,” it added.

New Delhi: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and other dignitaries during an all-party meeting on the Pulwama terror attack at Parliament House, in New Delhi, Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019.

Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said the entire nation stood united, and pointed out that the attack was the biggest casualty that armed forces had suffered since 1947, barring wars.

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah said the Prime Minister should personally handle the sensitive situation and immediately take strong action.

Sanjay Raut of the Shiv Sena said the government should learn from former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s tenure to take immediate action against Pakistan.

D. Raja of the Communist Party of India said concerns were also expressed about the safety of Kashmiri students and citizens settled in other parts of the country after Mr. Abdullah raised the issue of Kashmiris facing the ire of people in Jammu on Friday.

The Home Minister assured the meeting that the government will not allow social harmony to be affected and will take action, even if someone from the BJP, was involved in any such act.

Anand Sharma and Jyotiraditya Scindia of the Congress, Sudip Bandyopadhyay and Derek O’Brien of the Trinamool Congress, Jithendra Reddy of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi and Ram Vilas Paswan of the Lok Jan Shakti Party, among others, also attended the meeting.

NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 16, 2019

Rafale deal of NDA 2.86% cheaper than UPA’s: CAG

Rafale deal of NDA 2.86% cheaper than UPA’s: Comptroller and Auditor General

The much-awaited Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report on the acquisition process of 36 fighter jets on Wednesday said the NDA Government’s Rafale deal was 2.86 per cent cheaper than the UPA’s offer in 2007, but the Government made major concessions to the French vendor by including unwarranted India-specific enhancements that led to price escalation.

The report said that as per the deal signed by the NDA regime, the delivery of the aircraft would be faster by just one month compared to the UPA schedules.

Image result for rafale deal

While the CAG report contradicted the claims made by several Government Ministers that the current price of Rafale jets in fly-away condition was nine per cent cheaper than the UPA’s deal, it said the price of the 36 fighter jets was 17.08 per cent cheaper after equipping it with India-specific enhancements under the new deal.

The report tabled in Parliament noted that the Government overruled the IAF suggestion to postpone six enhancements till more Rafale aircraft were procured in future. The IAF proposal was not accepted by the Defence Ministry which said this would tantamount to dilution of Air Staff Qualitative Requirements (ASQRs). The Ministry said this was also not in consonance with the basic framework provided by the Joint Statement of April 10, 2015 by the Defence Acquisition Council that aircraft must have same configuration.

Moreover, during negotiation of 36 aircraft in 2015, in view of the huge cost escalation and the reduced number of aircraft to be purchased, the Indian negotiation team headed by the Deputy Chief of Air Staff proposed to reduce the number of India-specific enhancements. But the Dassault Aviation, manufacturer of Rafale jets, stated since its price was a total package the Defence Ministry would have to take up the matter with the French Government.

The Defence Ministry, while rejecting the IAF suggestion, said reduction of India-specific enhancements was not considered after due deliberation as it was a temporary deferment only for cost reduction measure. The CAG noted that four of these enhancements were stated to be not required in the technical and staff evaluations. The cost of these four enhancements constituted about 14 per cent of the India-specific enhancements contracted cost.

The Ministry stated that “scaling down the requirement to limit cash outgo cannot be considered as saving,” the CAG report said.

The Rafale deal was inked in 2016 after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and then French President Minister Francois Hollande in a joint statement on April 10, 2015 announced an inter-governmental agreement (IGA) to procure 36 jets from France in fly-away condition.

The NDA Government went in for the IGA after scrapping the nearly decade long negotiations under the UPA regime for procuring 126 medium multi-role aircraft (MMRCA) often termed as mother of all deals then. Rafale, manufactured by Dassault Aviation of France, emerged as the lowest bidder but differences over various issues delayed the final inking of the deal. The MMRCA envisaged buying 18 jets in fly-away condition and the remaining to be manufactured by the public sector aviation giant Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) under a transfer of technology pact. The overall deal at that time was pegged about Rs 45,000 crores.

While the Congress has all along alleged wrongdoings in the Rafale deal claiming that the NDA Government bought the each aircraft at a huge cost of Rs 1,600 crore as against the UPA offer of Rs 560 crore.  However, the Government in Parliament two years back said the cost of each aircraft without weapons was Rs 670 crores.

In the backdrop of the NDA Government justifying outright purchase of 36 Rafales urgently to meet the operational requirements of the IAF due to its depleting squadron strength, the CAG noted as per the Dassault offer in UPA regime for supplying 18 jets off the shelf covered delivery schedule between 37 months to 50 months from the signing of the contract.

Audit indicts Govt for useless India-specific enhancements that led to price escalation

The next 18 aircraft, which were to be manufactured by the HAL were to be delivered from 49th to 72 months. However, the CAG noted as against the delivery period of 72 months in the earlier offer, the contracted delivery schedule for the latest deal was 71 months, thus an improvement of one month.

The report also mentioned that the Indian negotiating team had asked the French side for a delivery schedule of first batch of 18 jets in 24 months and the next batch of 18 in 36 months.  However, the French offered 18 jets by 36 to 53 months and remaining 18 aircraft to be delivered in 67 months. This was better than the delivery schedule of 2007 by five months.

The Indian negotiation team had apprehensions about this delivery schedule of 71 months because at the time of signing the contract the Dassault had an order backlog of 83 aircraft. Considering its production rate of 11 aircraft a year, clearing this backlog itself would take more than seven years. The Defence Ministry in its response to the CAG said the project was currently on schedule and the progress was being closely monitored by the resident project management team and also through the inter Governmental bilateral high level group. As per the IGA, the first aircraft will be delivered to India in October this year while the last one will be handed over in October 2022.

Meanwhile, the CAG in its report said in terms of engineering support package and performance-based logistics, the deal was 6.54 per cent expensive. The report did not include controversial issue of pricing as the Defence Ministry maintained that price could not be revealed due to security concerns and therefore the pricing part was redacted from the CAG report.

The report said it examined 11 contracts pertaining to the IAF signed between 2012-13 and 2017-2018 with a total value of Rs 95,000 crores. These included Rafale, Apache attack helicopters, Chinook heavy lift helicopters, PC-7 basic trainer aircraft, pods, missiles, additional C-130 J aircraft, ammunition and associated equipment, reconnaissance systems, full mission simulator for SU-30 and Doppler weather radar.

-Microstat | 14 February 2019 | New Delhi

INTERIM BUDGET 2019-2020 SUMMARY

BUDGET SUMMARY WITH MAJOR HIGHLIGHTS OF INTERIM BUDGET 2019-2020

Interim Budget 2019-20 was presented in Parliament by the Union Minister for Finance, Corporate Affairs, Railways and Coal, Shri Piyush Goyal on 01 February, 2019. Besides having a major Scheme for the farmers, it provides tax concession and sets the Developmental Agenda for the years to come.

A New Deal for 12 Crore Small and Marginal farmers with direct income support, a path breaking Pension initiative for 10 Crore unorganized sector workers, exempting income up to Rs 5 lakhs from Income Tax, reforms in stamp duty, highest ever budgetary allocation of Rs 3 lakh crore for Defence, record allocation of funds at Rs 58,166 crore for North Eastern Areas, a new AIIMS for Haryana, single window clearance for Indian film makers at par with foreigners and higher budgetary allocations for Education, Health, Infrastructure and for the welfare of weaker sections including Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, a Separate Department of Fisheries for welfare of 1.5 crore fisherman are some of the major highlights of the Interim Budget 2019-20.

Major Schemes

New Scheme- namely “Pradhan Mantri KIsan SAmman Nidhi (PM-KISAN)” to extend direct income support at the rate of Rs. 6,000 per year to farmer families, having cultivable land upto 2 hectares is announced.

While presenting the Interim Budget 2019-20, the Union Minister for Finance, Corporate Affairs, Railways & Coal, Shri Piyush Goyal said that “our Government is launching a historic programme PM-KISAN with an outlay of Rs.75,000 crore for the FY 2019-20 and Rs.20,000 crore in the Revised Estimates of FY 2018-19”.

Under this Government of India funded Scheme, Rs.2,000 each will be transferred to the bank accounts of around 12 crore Small and Marginal farmer families, in three equal installments. This programme would be made effective from 1st December 2018 and the first installment for the period upto 31st March 2019 would be paid during this year itself, Shri Piyush Goyal said.

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To provide sustained and focused attention towards development of Fisheries, the  Government has decided to create a separate Department of Fisheries. Finance Minister said that through the measure, the Government wants to promote further growth over 7% to promote livelihood of about 1.45 crore people dependent on the sector.

The Finance Minister announced 2% interest subvention to the farmers pursuing the activities of animal husbandry and fisheries, who avail loan through Kisan Credit Card. Further, in case of timely repayment of loan, they will also get an additional 3% interest subvention.Quote_7.jpg

Allocation of Rs.750 crore for Rashtriya Gokul Mission has been announced for the current year itself. Setting up of “Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog” to upscale sustainable genetic upgradation of cow resources and to enhance production and productivity of cows has also been announced. The Aayog will also look after effective implementation of laws and welfare schemes for cow.

Quote_5.jpgTo provide pensionary benefits to at least 10 crore labourers and workers in the unorganised sector a new Scheme called ‘Pradhan Mantri Shram-Yogi Maandhan’ is announced.  The Finance Minister said that within next five years it would be one of the largest pension schemes of the world. A sum of Rs.500 crore has been allocated for the Scheme. Additional funds will be provided as needed, Shri Goyal added. The scheme will also be implemented from the current year, he said.

Tax Benefits

Individual taxpayers having taxable annual income up to Rs.5 lakhs will not be required to pay any income tax. The Finance Minister said that persons having gross income up to Rs. 6.50 lakhs are not required to pay any income tax if they make investments in provident funds, specified savings and insurance etc. Additional deductions such as interest on home loan up to Rs. 2 lakh, interest on education loans, National Pension Scheme contributions, medical insurance and medical expenditure on senior citizens etc, are also provided for in the Interim Budget 2019-20. Thus tax benefit of Rs. 18,500 crore is proposed to be provided to an estimated 3 crore middle class and small taxpayers comprising self employed, small business, small traders, salary earners, pensioners and senior citizens.

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For salaried persons, Standard Deduction is being raised from the current Rs.40,000 to Rs.50,000. This will provide additional tax benefit of Rs. 4,700 crore to more than 3 crore salary earners and pensioners.

Exemption on levy of income tax on notional rent on a second self-occupied house is also now proposed. Currently, income tax on notional rent is payable if one has more than one self-occupied house.

TDS threshold on interest earned on bank/post office deposits is being raised from Rs. 10,000 to Rs.40,000.

TDS threshold for deduction of tax on rent is proposed to be increased from Rs. 1,80,000 to Rs.2,40,000 for providing relief to small taxpayers.

The Finance Minister says that the Government wants the GST burden on home buyers to be reduced and accordingly the GST Council was moved to appoint a Group of Ministers to examine and make recommendations in this regard at the earliest. Shri Goyal said that soon, businesses comprising over 90% of GST payers will be allowed to file quarterly return.

Inflation

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The Finance Minister said that the Government has been successful in bringing down average inflation to 4.6% over last five years, which is lower than the inflation during the tenure of any other Government. In fact Inflation in December 2018 was down to 2.19% only.

Shri Goyal said if we had not controlled inflation, our families would have been spending around 35-40% more today on basic necessities such as food, travel, consumer durables, housing etc.

The average rate of inflation during previous five years 2009-2014 was a backbreaking 10.1%, he pointed out.

Fiscal Deficit

The fiscal deficit has been brought down to 3.4% in 2018-19 RE from the high of almost 6% seven years ago, the Finance Minister mentioned.  He said, the Current Account Deficit (CAD), against a high of 5.6% six years ago, is likely to be only 2.5% of GDP this year. “We contained the fiscal deficit notwithstanding the Finance Commission’s recommendations increasing the share of the States from 32% to 42% in central taxes, which we accepted in the true spirit of cooperative federalism, thereby transferring significantly higher amounts to the States”, Shri Goyal said.

Growth and FDI

The Finance Minister Shri Piyush Goyal stated that a stage for high growth in decades to come, has now been set, after a wave of next generation path breaking structural reforms over the last five years, including introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST) and other taxation reforms.

The country witnessed its best phase of macro-economic stability during the last five years. “We are the fastest growing major economy in the world with an annual average GDP growth during last five years higher than the growth achieved by any Government since economic reforms began in 1991. From being the 11th largest economy in the world in 2013-14, we are today the 6th largest in the world”, the Finance Minister asserted in his Opening Remarks  of his Budget speech.

Shri Goyal said that due to such a stable and predictable regulatory regime, growing economy and strong fundamentals, India could attract massive amount of as much as $239 billion of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) during the last 5 years, when most of the FDI was allowed to come in through the automatic route.

Enhanced allocations for major Schemes

Announcing an allocation of Rs.60,000 crores for MGNREGA for Budget Estimates 2019-20,  the Finance Minister said that additional allocations will be made, if required.

Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) is being allocated Rs.19,000 crore in BE 2019-20 as against Rs.15,500 crore in RE 2018-19. During the period 2014-18, a total number of 1.53 crore houses have been built under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, he announced.

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By March, 2019, all households will be provided with electricity connection.  Till now, 143 crore LED bulbs have been provided in a mission mode which has resulted in saving of Rs.50,000 crore for the poor and middle class.

He said through the world’s largest healthcare programme, Ayushman Bharat, to provide medical treatment to nearly 50 crore people in the country,  around 10 lakh patients have already benefited through free treatment for medical treatment which would have otherwise cost them Rs. 3,000 crore. Lakhs of poor and middle class people are also benefiting from reduction in the prices of essential medicines, cardiac stents and knee implants, and availability of medicines at affordable prices through Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Kendras, the Finance Minister added.

Shri Goyal also said that 14 of the 21 AIIMS operating or being established in the country presently have been announced since 2014. He also announced setting up of a new – the 22nd AIIMS in Haryana.

Allocation for Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) is being increased from Rs.23,357 crore in RE 2018-19 to Rs.27,584 crore in BE 2019-20.

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A substantial increase is proposed in the allocation for welfare of the Scheduled Castes  and Scheduled Tribes. The allocation of  Rs.56,619 crore  made in BE of 2018-19 for Scheduled Caste, further increased to Rs.62,474 crore in RE is proposed to be enhanced to Rs.76,801 crore in BE for 2019-20, an increase of 35.6% over BE of 2018-19. For the Scheduled Tribes also, proposed allocation in 2019-20 BE is Rs.50,086 crore as against Rs.39,135 crore in BE 2018-19, an increase of 28%.

The Finance Minister said that a Welfare Development Board to frame special strategies for the benefit of the  hard-to-reach De-notified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic communities will be set up under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. He said that a Committee under NITI Aayog will also be set up to complete the task of identifying De-notified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic communities not yet formally classified.

Shri Goyal said under the Ujjwala Yojana aiming delivery  of 8 crore free LPG connections, more than 6 crore connections have already been given and the remaining will get free gas connections by next year.

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The Finance Minister announced that a National Artificial Intelligence Portal will also be developed soon as a part of the National Programme on ‘Artificial Intelligence’.

The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion will now be renamed as the Department for Promotion of Industries and Internal Trade.

The Finance Minister stated that the Government e-Marketplace (GeM), created by the present Government two years ago, resulted in average savings of 25-28% and the platform will now be extended to all CPSEs. Transactions of over Rs. 17,500 crore have taken place so far. The Finance Minister announced that for the first time, the country’s Defence Budget will be of over Rs.3 lakh crore.  The Finance Minister, Shri Piyush Goyal pointed-out that domestic air traffic passengers have doubled during the last five years, leading to large number of jobs also being created. The number of operational airports has crossed 100 with the commissioning of the Pakyong airport in Sikkim.  Arunachal Pradesh came on the air map recently and Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram have come on India’s rail map for the first time.

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Capital support from the budget for Indian Railways is proposed at Rs.64,587 crore in 2019-20 (BE). The Railways’ overall capital expenditure programme is of Rs. 1,58,658 crore. The Finance Minister, who is also holding the portfolio of Railway Ministry, announced that the Operating Ratio is expected to improve from 98.4% in 2017-18 to 96.2% in 2018-19 (RE) and further to 95% in 2019-20 (BE).

India’s installed solar generation capacity has grown over ten times in last five years. Stating this, Shri Goyal said that “our commitment to promote renewable energy is reflected in setting up the International Solar Alliance, the first treaty based international inter-governmental organisation headquartered in India. This sector is now creating lakhs of new age jobs, he added.

The Finance Minister announced that in Entertainment industry, which is a major employment generator, regulatory provisions will now rely more on self-declarations. To promote entertainment industry, the Single window clearance for ease of shooting films, now available only to foreigners, will also be made available to Indian filmmakers. “We will also introduce anti-camcording provisions in the Cinematograph Act to control the menace of piracy”, he said.

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Saying that “We are poised to become a Five Trillion Dollar Economy in the next five years and aspire to become a Ten Trillion Dollar Economy in the next 8 years thereafter”, Shri Piyush Goyal said that there has been a Growth of 18% in Direct Tax Collections in 2017-18 and increase in tax base by as many as 1.06 crore people filing income tax returns for the first time in FY 2017-18, mainly on account of demonetization.

Shri Goyal said that he is proposing, through the Finance Bill, necessary amendments to levy Stamp duties on one instrument relating to one transaction and get collected at one place through the Stock Exchanges.

The duty so collected will be shared with the State Governments seamlessly on the basis of domicile of buying client, he said.

In all the total expenditure is to incrRailway.jpgease from Rs.24,57,235 crore in 2018-19 RE to Rs.27,84,200 crore in 2019-20 BE.

A rise of Rs.3,26,965 crore or approximately 13.30%. This reflects a high increase considering low inflation. The fiscal deficit of year 2019-20 is estimated to be 3.4% of GDP.

 

The Finance Minister pointed out that after completion of the fiscal deficit consolidation programme, the Government would now focus on Debt consolidation.

He said “We have maintained the glide path towards our target of 3% of fiscal deficit to be achieved by 2020-21. India’s Debt to GDP ratio was 46.5% in year 2017-18.

The FRBM Act prescribes that the Debt to GDP ratio of the Government of India should be brought down to 40% by 2024-25.

“Along with completion of the fiscal deficit consolidation programme, we will now focus on Debt consolidation”, he added.

Highlights of the Interim Budget 2019-20

The key highlights of the Interim Budget 2019-20 presented by the Union Minister for Finance, Corporate Affairs, Railways & Coal, Shri Piyush Goyal in Parliament today are as follows:

New Announcements

Farmers

·         12 crore small and marginal farmers to be provided with assured yearly income of Rs. 6000 per annum under PM-KISAN

o   Outlay of Rs. 75,000 crore for FY 2019-20 with additional Rs. 20,000 crore in RE 2018-19

·         Outlay for Rashtriya Gokul mission increased to Rs 750 crore

·         Rashtriya Kamdhenu Ayog  to be setup for sustainable genetic up-gradation of the Cow resources

·         New separate Department of Fisheries for welfare of 1.5 crore fishermen

·         2% interest subvention to Farmers for Animal husbandry and Fisheries activities; additional 3% in case of timely repayment.

·         Interest subvention of 2% during disaster will now be provided for the entire period of reschedulement of loan

 Labour

·  Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maandhan scheme to ensure fixed monthly pension to 10 crore unorganized sector workers

o   Rs 3000 per month after 60 years of age with an affordable contribution of only Rs 100/55 per month

Budget-at-a-Glance-English.jpg

 Health

·         22nd AIIMS to be setup in Haryana

 MGNREGA

·         Rs. 60, 000 crore allocation for MGNREGA in BE 2019-20

 Direct Tax proposals

·         Income upto Rs. 5 lakh exempted from Income Tax

·         More than Rs. 23,000 crore tax relief to 3 crore middle class taxpayers

·         Standard Deduction to be raised to Rs. 50,000 from Rs. 40,000

·         TDS threshold to be raised from Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 40,000 on interest earned on bank/post office deposits

·         Existing rates of income tax to continue

·         Tax exempted on notional rent on a second self-occupied house

·         Housing and real estate sector to get boost-

o   TDS threshold for deduction of tax on rent to be increased from Rs. 1,80,000 to Rs. 2,40,000

o   Benefit of rollover of capital gains increased from investment in one residential house to two residential houses for capital gains up to Rs. 2 crore.

o   Tax benefits for affordable housing extended till 31st March, 2020 under Section 80-IBA of Income Tax Act

o   Tax exemption period on notional rent, on unsold inventories, extended from one year to two years

 Fiscal Programme

·         Fiscal deficit pegged at 3.4% of GDP for 2019-20

·         Target of 3% of fiscal deficit to be achieved by 2020-21.

·         Fiscal deficit brought down to 3.4% in 2018-19 RE from almost 6% seven years ago

·         Total expenditure increased by over 13% to Rs.27,84,200 crore in 2019-20 BE

·         Capital Expenditure for 2019-20 BE estimated at Rs. 3,36,292 crore

·         Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) allocation increased to Rs. 3,27,679 crore in BE 2019-20

·         National Education Mission allocation increased by about 20% to Rs. 38,572 crore in BE 2019-20

·         Allocation for Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) increased by over 18% to Rs. 27,584 crore in BE 2019-20

·         Substantial increase in allocation for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes –

o   Allocation for SCs increased by 35.6% – from Rs. 56,619 crore in BE 2018-19 to Rs. 76,801 crore in BE for 2019-20

o   Allocation for the STs increased by 28% – from 39,135 crore in BE 2018-19 to Rs. 50,086 crore in 2019-20 BE

·         Government confident of achieving the disinvestment target of 80,000 crore

·         Focus now on debt consolidation along with fiscal deficit consolidation programme

Poor and Backward Classes

·         “First right on the resources of country is that of the poor”: FM

·         25% additional seats in educational institutions to meet the 10% reservation for the poor

·         Targeted expenditure to bridge urban-rural divide & to improve quality of life in villages

·         All willing households to be provided electricity connections by March 2019

North East

·         Allocation to be increased by 21% to Rs. 58,166 crore in 2019-20 BE over 2018-19 BE

·         Arunachal Pradesh came on the air map recently

·         Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram came on India’s rail map for the first time

·         Container cargo movement through improved navigation capacity of the Brahmaputra

 Vulnerable sections

·         A new committee under NITI Ayog to identify all the remaining De-notified nomadic and semi-Nomadic tribes.

·         New Welfare development Board under Ministry of social justice and empowerment for development and welfare of De-notified nomadic and semi nomadic tribes

 Defence

·         Defence budget to cross Rs 3,00,000 crore for the first time ever

 Railways

·         Capital support of Rs.64,587 crore proposed in 2019-20 (BE) from the budget

·         Overall capital expenditure programme to be of Rs. 1,58,658 crore

·         Operating Ratio expected to improve from 98.4% in 2017-18

                                                                             to 96.2% in 2018-19 (RE) and

                                                                             to 95% in 2019- 20 (BE)

 Entertainment Industry

·         Indian filmmakers  to get access to Single window clearance as well for ease of shooting films

·         Regulatory provisions to rely more on self-declaration

·         To introduce anti-camcording provisions in the Cinematograph Act to control piracy

 MSME and Traders

·         2% interest subvention on an incremental loan of  Rs 1 crore for GST registered SMEs

·         Atleast 3% of the 25% sourcing for the Government undertakings will be from women owned SMEs

·         Renewed Focus on Internal trade ; DIPP renamed to Department for Promotion of Industries and Internal trade

Digital Villages

·         The Government to make 1 lakh villages into Digital Villages over next five years

 Other Announcement(s)

·         New National Artificial Intelligence portal to support National Program on Artificial Intelligence

Achievements during 2014-19

State of the Economy

·         India universally recognized as a bright spot of the global economy during last five years

·         “Country witnessed its best phase of macro-economic stability during 2014-19”, says FM

·         India is now the 6th largest economy in the world from being the 11thlargest in 2013-14

·         Annual average GDP growth during 2014-19 higher than any government since 1991

·         Government has broken inflation’s back from backbreaking inflation during 2009-14: FM

·         Average inflation down to 4.6%, lower than during any other Government

·         Inflation in December 2018 down to 2.19% only

·         Fiscal deficit down to 3.4% in 2018-19 RE from the high of almost 6% seven years ago

·         CAD likely to be only 2.5% of GDP this year against a high of 5.6% six years ago

·         India attracted massive amount of FDI, worth $239 billion, during the last 5 years

·          “India is solidly back on track and marching towards growth and prosperity”, says FM

·         India becomes the fastest growing major economy in the world

·         Double-digit inflation contained and fiscal balance restored

·         Liberalization of FDI policy, allowing most FDI to come through the automatic route

Farmers

·         Assured MSP of minimum 50% to all 22 crops

·         Interest subvention doubled in last 5 years

·         Soil Health card, Neem coated Urea game changer in farm sector

Labor

·         Employment opportunities expanded ; EPFO membership increased by 2 crore

·         Minimum income for every category of workers increased by 42% in last 5 years

Poor and Backward Classes

·         10% reservation for the poor  in educational institutions and government jobs

·         Free electricity connection to every household under Saubhagya Yojana

·         World’s largest healthcare programme, Ayushman Bharat, for nearly 50 crore people

·         Aspirational Districts Programme for development in 115 most backward districts

·         Rs. 1,70,000 crore spent during 2018-19 for cheaper food grains to poor and middle class

·         143 crore LED bulbs provided in mission mode with the cooperation of private sector

·         Poor & middle class are saving Rs. 50, 000 crore p.a. in electricity bills due to LED bulbs

·         10 lakh patients benefited from free treatment under Ayushman Bharat

·         Jan Aushadhi Kendras providing medicines at affordable prices to poor and middle class

·         14 out of 21 AIIIMS operating presently have been announced since 2014

·         Government tripled rural roads’ construction under the PMGSY

·         15.80 lakh habitations out of 17.84 lakh connected with pucca roads

·         Rs. 19,000 crore for PMGSY in BE 2019-20 against Rs. 15,500 crore in RE 2018-19

·         1.53 crore houses built under PM Awas Yojana during the 2014-18

Women development to women led development

·         6 crore free LPG gas connections provided under Ujjwala Yojna ; All 8 crore by next year

·         70% of MUDRA Loan availed by Women

·         Maternity leave extended to 26 weeks

·         Financial support for pregnant women under Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana

Youth

·         Over one crore youth trained under Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikash Yojana

·         Self-employment boost through MUDRA, STAND-UP and START-UP India

MSME and Traders

·         Up-to Rs 1 crore loans can be availed in less than an hour

·         25%-28% is the average savings due to GeM (Government e-Market place)

Income Tax

·         Tax collections nearly doubled in five years- from Rs. 6.38 Lakh crore in 2013-14 to almost Rs. 12 lakh crore this year

·         80% growth in tax base- from 3.79 crore to 6.85 crore in five years

·         Tax administration streamlined- Last year, 99.54% of the income-tax returns accepted as were filed

·         Technology intensive project approved to improve assessee friendliness –In two years, returns to be processed in 24 hours and refunds issued simultaneously

·         Earlier benefits given to middle class-

o   Basic exemption limit increased from Rs. 2 lakh to Rs. 2.5 lakh

o   Tax rate reduced from 10% to 5% for the tax slab of Rs. 2.5 lakh to Rs. 5 lakh

o   Standard deduction of Rs. 40,000 introduced for the salaried class

o   Deduction of savings under section 80C increased from Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 1.5 lakh

o   Deduction of interest for self-occupied house property raised from Rs. 1.5 lakh to Rs. 2 lakh

·         Special benefits and incentives already given to small businesses and startups-

o   Overall compliance processes simplified.

o   Threshold for presumptive taxation of business raised from Rs. 1 crore to Rs. 2 crore

o   Benefit of presumptive taxation extended for the first time to small professionals fixing threshold limit at Rs. 50 lakh

o   Presumptive profit rate reduced from 8% to 6% to promote a less cash economy

o   Tax rate for about 99% companies reduced to 25%

GST

·         GST made India a common market

·         GST led to increased tax base, higher collections and ease of trade

·         Inter-state movements now faster, more efficient, and hassle free

·         Responsive and sensitive reduction of tax rates – Most items of daily use now in the 0% or 5% tax slab

·         Relieving the businesses and service providers-

o   Exemptions from GST for small businesses doubled from Rs. 20 lakh to Rs. 40 lakh

o   Small businesses having turnover up to Rs. 1.5 crore pay only 1% flat rate and file one annual return only

o   Small service providers with turnover upto Rs.50 lakhs can opt for composition scheme and pay GST at 6% instead of 18%

o   Soon, businesses comprising over 90% of GST payers to be allowed to file quarterly return

·         Encouraging GST revenue trends – The average monthly tax collection in the current year is Rs. 97,100 crore per month as compared to Rs. 89,700 crore per month in the first year

Infrastructure

·         Civil Aviation – UDAN Scheme

o   Number of Operational Airports crossed 100

o   Latest: Pakyong airport in Sikkim

o   Domestic Passenger traffic doubled in last 5 years

·         Roads

o   India is the fastest highway developer in the world

o   27 kms of highways built each day

o   Stuck projects completed – Eastern Peripheral Highway around Delhi

 – Bogibeel rail-cum-road bridge in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh

·         Waterways

o   Flagship programme of Sagarmala along the coastal areas

o   For first time, container freight movement started on Kolkata to Varanasi inland waterways

·         Railways

o   ‘Safest year’ for railways in its history

o   All Unmanned Level Crossings on broad gauge network eliminated.

o   Semi high-speed “Vande Bharat Express” introduced – first indigenously developed and manufactured

Climate Change

·         International Solar Alliance

o   To promote renewable energy

o   First treaty based international inter-governmental organisation headquartered in India

o   Installed solar generation capacity grown over ten times in last five years

o   Now creating lakhs of new age jobs

Digital India Revolution

·         More than 3 lakh Common Service Centres (CSCs) exist to deliver services to the citizens

·         India now leading the world in the consumption of mobile data

·         Monthly consumption of mobile data increased by over 50 times in the last five years

·         Under Make in India, mobile and parts manufacturing companies increased from 2 to more than 268 providing huge job opportunities

Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile (JAM) and Direct Benefit Transfer

·         In the last five years, nearly 34 crore Jan Dhan bank accounts opened

·         Aadhaar now near universally implemented

·         Ensure the poor and middle class receive the benefits of Government schemes directly in their bank accounts by eliminating middlemen

Customs and trading across borders

·         Customs duties on 36 capital goods abolished

·         Digitization of import and export transactions

·         RFID technology to improve logistics

Steps against corruption

·         Government walked the talk on corruption and ushered in a new era of transparency: FM

·         RERA and Benami Transaction (Prohibition) Act have brought transparency in real estate

·         The Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018 to help confiscate economic offenders

·         Government conducted transparent auction of natural resources such as coal & spectrum

Drive against Black money

·         Undisclosed income of about Rs 1,30,000 crore brought under tax through initiatives like Black money Law,  Fugitive Criminal offenders Act, Demonetisation etc.

·         Benami assets worth Rs 6,900 crore have been attached

·         18% growth in Direct tax

Banking Reforms and Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC)

·         The IBC has institutionalized a resolution-friendly mechanism

·         Government has stopped the culture of “phone banking”: FM

·         Government adopted 4Rs approach of recognition, resolution, re-capitalization & reforms

·         Government has implemented measures to ensure ‘Clean Banking’

·         Government has already recovered Rs. 3 lakh crore in favor of banks and creditors

·         Government has invested Rs. 2.6 lakh crore for recapitalization of public sector banks

Cleanliness

·         Government launched Swachh Bharat Mission as a tribute to 150 years of Gandhi Ji

·         FM thanks 130 crore Indians for translating Swachh Bharat into a national revolution

·         India has achieved 98% rural sanitation coverage

  •  5.45 lakh villages have been declared “Open Defecation Free”

Defence

·         OROP under implementation in full spirit with Rs 35,000 crore already disbursed

·         Military pay service hiked

Other achievements

·         Government put a stop to questionable practices of hiding high NPAs

·         Swachh Bharat Mission as the world’s largest behavioral change movement

Key message in the Interim Budget 2019-20

·         Moving towards realizing a ‘New India’ by 2022 –

o   Clean and healthy India with universal access to toilets, water and electricity to all

o   An India where Farmers’ income would have doubled

o   Ample opportunities to youth and women to fulfil their dreams

o   An India free from terrorism, communalism, casteism, corruption and nepotism 

Vision for the next Decade 

·         Foundation for India’s growth and development laid in the past 5 years

·         Poised to become a Five Trillion Dollar Economy in the next five years

·         Aspire to become a Ten Trillion Dollar Economy in the next 8 years thereafter

Ten dimensions of Vision for India of 2030

India would be a modern, technology driven, high growth, equitable and transparent society

1.      To build physical as well as social infrastructure and to provide ease of living

2.      To create a Digital India, digitize government processes with leaders from youth

3.      Making India pollution free by leading transport revolution with Electric Vehicles and focus on Renewables

4.      Expanding rural industrialisation using modern digital technologies to generate massive employment

5.      Clean Rivers, safe drinking water to all Indians and efficient use of water through micro-irrigation

6.      Besides scaling up of Sagarmala, Coastline and Ocean waters powering India’s development and growth

7.      Aim at our space programme – Gaganyaan, India becoming the launch-pad of satellites for the World and placing an Indian astronaut into space by 2022

8.      Making India self-sufficient in food, exporting to the world to meet their food needs and producing food in the most organic way

9.      A healthy India via Ayushman Bharat with women having equal rights and concern for their safety and empowerment

10.  Transforming India into a Minimum Government Maximum Governance nation with pro-active and responsible bureaucracy

-PIB/ 01 February, 2019 / New Delhi

CRISIL REPORT: GUJARAT STAYS ON TOP BUT BENGAL MAKES BIG GAINS

GUJARAT STAYS ON TOP BUT BENGAL MAKES BIG GAINS: CRISIL REPORT  

As many as 12 of 17 states in the Reserve Bank of India’s non-special category grew faster than the growth pace of  the national economy in 2018, a Crisil report has said. In its report titled ‘States of growth 2.0’, Crisil said, “As many as 12 of 17 states in the Reserve Bank of India’s non-special category grew faster than the 6.7% pace the national economy clocked in fiscal 2018”. Crisil said that the growth however has not been equitable.

“Low-income states have not sustained high growth long enough to meaningfully bridge the per-capita income gap with the high-income states. In fact, the chasm is widening,” the report added.

Moreover, growth has not quite been conducive to job creation in a majority of the states. That’s because 11 states have recorded lower growth in ‘employment-intensive’ sectors such as manufacturing, construction and trade, and hotels transport and communication services, compared with the national rate, it said.

Crisil report found that on the fiscal front, most states veered off the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act (FRBM) line. “Despite this, due to little fiscal legroom for the Centre and increased share of states in central transfers, states are now the new engines of public spending. Although Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Bihar were the biggest spenders overall, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Telangana topped the list of states that spent the most out of their budget on capex,” Crisil said.

It added that the spending is not as much as they ought to be in health and education. The debt ratio was over 30 percent in Punjab, Rajasthan and Kerala, while Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Karnataka managed to keep it relatively low.

For most states, an increase in the primary deficit (which captures the current fiscal stance of the government) was the major cause of the rise in the debt ratio, the report added.

-January 22, 2019

BJP National Convention 2019: Amit Shah’s speech

Salient points of speech of BJP National President Amit Shah at the BJP National Convention at Ramlila Ground, New Delhi

In the last week alone, the government of Narendra Modi ji has taken two major decisions that have massive implications for future. The first of to these two decisions was providing 10% reservation for the poor from the upper castes in education and jobs.  Prime Minister has got it cleared in the Cabinet and parliament in a manner of less than one week to fulfill the aspirations of crored of upper caste youth in this country. In my view, the 124th amendment to the Constitution giving reservation to the upper caste youth is one of the most significant amendments to the constitution since it was framed.

The second major decision of the government under the leadership of Narendra Modi ji is simplification of the GST and the relief given to the small traders and manufacturers. As per this major decision, small traders and manufacturers with turnover upto Rs.40 lakh are exempt from registration under GST. Likewise, the turnover limit for coverage under the composite scheme has been increased from Rs.1 crore to Rs.1.5 crore.

He called upon the entire parliamentary board of the Bharatiya Janata Party to join him in congratulating and complimenting the prime minister for the truly historic decisions in the last one week.

Describing Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi as the most popular Prime Minister since independence Shri Amit Shah exhorted the delegates attending the national convention to take a resolve and vow to re-elect the Prime Minister with a bigger mandate in 2019. Shri Amit Shah stated that the national convention was to strengthen our resolve to usher in New India as envisioned by Honorable Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Shri Amit Shah said that in a tribute to Swami Vivekananda during his Jayanti, which will be celebrated on January 12, the BJP would implement the vision of Swami Vivekananda. He said that the party would celebrate the party’s victory in 2019 which also happens to be 150th year of Gandhiji’s birth and 500th year of Guru Nanak.

Recalling the contributions of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee the BJP President stated the this is the first national convention of the BJP when Atal ji is not alive. Atalji provided leadership to the BJP from the Jan Sangh days and recalled how Atal-Advani duo strived to take the BJP to every corner of the country and in establishing it as a national party. Though there is a vacuum after the demise of Atal ji he would always remain with the people and the party as it pursues his goals.

Highlighting the significance of Ramlila Maidan as a venue where the party had resolved to secure a win in 2014 and the venue where the first rally to end the undemocratic Indira Raj after the imposition of emergency, Shri Amit Shah stated that 2019 would also become a significant milestone at the venue for securing outright majority for the BJP.

Shri Amit Shah emphatically stated that a victory in 2019 for the BJP is also important for 50 crore poor people of this country,  for the youth and for women who have suffered neglect under previous Congress dispensations and have not had access to even basic needs. For over 70 years people waited for a leader who would Make India great and Shri Narendra Modi had arrived to fulfill that desire.

Highlighting that the so-called Opposition Alliance has neither a leader nor any positive agenda, he said that the 2019 electoral battle will have an impact that would last for centuries. Underscoring the importance of 2019 battle, Shri Shah drew a parallel with the Great Maratha rulers in pre-British era who won 134 battles but a defeat in Panipat third battle had brought in the British Raj which subjugated India for 200 years.

Recalling the 2014 verdict the BJP national president said the people of this country have given an outright majority to a government after a gap of 30 years. He further stated the BJP was in power in only 6 States when the party secured a majority in 2014 while at present the party is in power in 16 States. Further, he said, the membership of the BJP has risen from 2.4 crores in 2014 to 11 crores at present. Once the party scores a victory in 2019 the party would expand its influence and become a dominant party even in the south of India going as far as Kerala, he added.

Stating the there is no leader to rival the popularity of prime minister Shri Narendra Modi, Shri Shah said that the BJP’s victory in 2019 was certain as the people of the country are with the BJP under the leadership of Shri Narendra Modi. Highlighting the desperation of the so-called grand alliance the BJP President said that the politics is not just arithmetic or physics but produces chemical reactions. Referring to the alliance between Samajwadi Party and Congress party in 2017 UP assembly polls , the BJP President stated that the BJP had secured a massive mandate despite that alliance. He exuded confidence that the BJP would secure over 50% vote and would go on to win at least 74 scenes in Uttar Pradesh in 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Taking a dig at rival political parties that are feeling compelled to come together despite their known rivalries owing to the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP President said that these attempts would fail.

Reeling out statistics as to how poverty and deprivation remained unaddressed despite the Congress having ruled India for 55 years the BJP President stated howin the last 4.5 years 6 crore women have received free LPG connections , 9 crore households have received a toilet , 2.5 Crore houses have received electricity, 2.5 crore households received free housing under Awas Yojana. Describing Ayushman Bharat as the world’s largest Health Insurance programme, the BJP President said that 50 crore people of the country who could not afford Healthcare are receiving Rs 5 lakh health insurance cover for hospitalization and for other expenses as well.

Highlighting significant improvement in the overall national security scenario, Shri Shah attributed improvements to the security doctrine followed by the Modi government which gave freehand to the armed forces to retaliate every act of provocation and infiltration with a heavy response. Naxalism has also been curbed and the problem has nearly ended, he said. The BJP government had given respect to the armed  forces by fulfilling a long standing demand of the armed forces for One Rank One Pension (OROP), he added.

Unlike the week-kneed response of the Manmohan Singh government in similar situations, our government carried out retaliatory surgical strikes after 16 of our sleeping soldiers were killed in a terrorist attack in Uri, he said. The whole world has started looking at us differently and with more respect after the surgical strikes, he added.

Demanding that the Congress party must make its stand clear on the National Register for Citizens (NRC), Shri Shah said that many opposition parties in Parliament shed tears for illegal immigrants who pose a threat to India’s security. Describing how this problem is eating away our resources like termites, he castigated them for vote bank politics.

Highlighting how India’s image and prestige has enhanced over the last 4.5 years under Modi government, Shri Shah recalled that Shri Narendra Modi was asked to inaugurate Davos summit though leaders from India never received such honour in the past. He also noted as major achievements the International Yoga Day, UN Champion of the Earth award for the PM Modi and India’s contribution to the deliberations in Paris Climate Summit.

Lambasting the corrupt rule of the Congress party before 2014 which looted Rs.12 lakh crore in various scandals, the BJP President listed various initiatives of Narendra Modi government like the SIT against black money, framing of rules under the benami act, fugitives act demonetisation etc to launch a big attack against black money. By implementing direct benefit transfer (DBT) under various schemes, the BJP government has plugged leakages and insured savings to the tune of Rs.80000 crore, he added.

Describing the Narendra Modi government as a Spotless government, the BJP president stated that the party cadres can hold their heads high for a government of total integrity. Highlighting how the Congress Party continues to indulge in lies and calumny even after the Supreme Court found absolutely no merit in the allegations being made in Rafale procurement and no need for any investigations. Shri Amit Shah has congratulated and complimented finance minister Shri Arun Jaitley and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for exposing lies of Rahul Gandhi and Congress Party during the parliamentary debates on the issue. Stating that the Congress Party is getting desperate as the party’s image is tarnished after the revelations by “Mama Michel” and Uncle Quattrocchi. Scare of a big defeat and the immaculate image of the government have made a desperate Congress to resort to lies and Propaganda, Shri Shah revealed.

Shri Amit Shah said that the likes of Vijay Mallya, Mehul Choksi , Nirav Modi who escaped India were in partnership with the Congress Party which allowed them to loot public money and that they would never have fled India had the Congress been in power. Because “chaukidar is holding everyone by the neck, they felt compelled to flee. Modi ji’s government will ensure that they return to India and payback everything they looted from this country with the Congress party’s collusion and help.

Source – http://www.bjp.org/ 11 January 2019/ New Delhi