The Times of India – Intolerance on rise, defend the spirit of Constitution

New Delhi, 13 June 2017. Painting a bleak picture of “rising authoritarianism”, “intolerance” and “majoritarianism”, a group of retired bureaucrats has issued a direct appeal to public authorities and constitutional bodies to take corrective action to defend the spirit of the Constitution.

In an open letter, 65 former bureaucrats of central services said they decided to speak out in view of “a sense of deep disquiet at what has been happening in India” and had no political affiliation.

It is a litany of complaints that has agitated intellectuals and activists over a couple of years and dominated the political discourse during the Narendra Modi regime.

Among those who have signed the letter are super cop Julio Rebeiro, former Prasar Bharati CEO Jawahar Sircar, former secretary, planning commission NC Saxena, EAS Sarma, Harsh Mander, Aruna Roy among others.

The former officers, who have worked with central and state governments for decades, have lamented a “growing climate of religious intolerance that is aimed primarily at Muslims”, tracing it to the Prime Minister’s controversial remarks about “burial grounds and cremation grounds” (shamshan vs kabristan) and power supply during religious festivals of different communities, widely seen as a dog whistle to Hindutva storm-troopers during UP elections.

“In the run-up to the elections, an odious and frankly communal comparison was made…” the letter says, without referring to the PM.

Pointing to a conspiracy against Muslims, the letter points out that banning the slaughter-houses targets the livelihoods of minorities besides breeding communal violence.

Referring to the lynching of Akhlaq in Dadri, Pehlu Khan in Jaipur, attacks on nomadic shepherds in J&K, the petition points to the wider problem of “vigilantism” which also underlines the functioning of “anti-Romeo” squads.

“Gaurakshaks function with impunity and seem to be doing so with the tacit complicity or active encouragement of state machinery….(anti-Romeo squads) a thinly-veiled effort to prevent Hindu-Muslim relationship or marriage, there is no justification to harass these couples,” it says.

The former top bureaucrats said students and academics who talk about social justice and equality are being subjected to harassment by the administration, backed by a “supportive government”, as seen in Hyderabad and JNU campuses.

“Argumentation and discussion about different perspectives, the lifeblood not only of institutions of learning but of democracy itself, are being throttled,” the letter laments, adding, “Disagreement and dissent are considered seditious and anti-national. Such attitudes have a chilling impact on free speech and thought.”

The letter also accuses the government of using violations of FCRA and IT Act to target civil society organisations who have taken a critical stand against the State, while underlining the “ugly trend of trolling and online intimidation of activists, journalists and intellectuals”.

“In the face of rising authoritarianism and majoritarianism, which do not allow for reasoned debate and dissent, we appeal to all public authorities, public institutions and constitutional bodies to take heed of these disturbing trends and take corrective action. We have to reclaim and defend the spirit of the Constitution of India,” it says.


The Tribune – Rescue operation on at Panipat gurdwara after Monday’s partial collapse

Tribune News Service

Panipat, 13 June 2017. Rescue operation is on at Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha Pehli Patshahi on National Highway here on Tuesday.

One person was killed and eight others injured when the main portion of the gurdwara collapsed on Monday evening.

An NDRF team is trying to reach those stuck under the debris.

Gent: From Kouter to Gentbrugge Pirennelaan

Gent: Kouter to Gentbrugge Pirennelaan
07 May 2017



Pirennelaan – underneath E17 flyover

Pirennelaan – Motorway, Railway, Tram

Pirennelaan – Motorway, Railway, Tram
Since 21 May Trams 21 and 22 have been replaced by Tram 2
Melle-Leeuw – Gent-Zuid – Kouter –
Rozemarijnbrug – Sint-Pieters – Zwijnaarde Bibliotheek
No more tram service to Pirennelaan and Gentbrugge DC

Gent Gurdwara
08 May 2017

Mata Sahib Kaur Gurdwara
Kortrijksepoortstraat 49
B-9000 Gent – Oost-Vlaanderen

To see all my pictures:

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The News – Sikhs stopped from coming to Pakistan

Samjhota Express returns empty

Islamabad, 13 June 2017. The Samjhota Express sent to Attari, Amritsar, for Sikh pilgrims was returned empty as Indian authorities stopped them from coming to Pakistan for the ‘Jor Mela’, according to the Foreign Office spokesperson.

A statement issued from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that Indian authorities returned the train, saying Pakistan had agreed on sending a special one for the pilgrims not the Samjhota Express.

The Indian authorities intercepted the pilgrims at the Attari border in Amritsar, read the statement. They were coming to Pakistan for the ‘Jor Mela’ to observe the death anniversary of Guru Arjun Das for which around 100 pilgrims were issued visas by the High Commission for Pakistan, it added.

Foreign Office Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria stated Pakistan had made all the arrangements, keeping in consideration the religious values of Sikhs.

The statement further stated that India did not hold human values important. Even the medical visa process was troublesome for Pakistanis, it added. In held Kashmir human beings are used as shields, it read. India has also targeted civilians along the LoC and Working Boundary.

The Hindu – States will have to bear farm loan waivers from their own coffers: Jaitley

On bad loans, he says the RBI is preparing a list of debtors whose cases will be considered for speedy resolution

Special Correspondent

New Delhi, 12 June 2017. The States going in for farm loan waivers will have to generate funds from their own resources, Finance minister Arun Jaitley said on Monday came after a meeting he had with public sector bank (PSB) chiefs, where among other things, the situation on bad loans was discussed.

Mr Jaitley’s comments come in the backdrop of farmers’ agitations across the country as well as State governments such as Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, both BJP-ruled, announcing farm loan waivers.

There are also similar demands for farm loan waiver in States, including in Madhya Pradesh and Haryana (both BJP-ruled), Punjab (Congress-ruled), Tamil Nadu (AIADMK government).

This is the second time that Mr Jaitley has spoken on these lines. In March, he said in the Rajya Sabha, “This issue of loan waiver has cropped up in several States. The Centre has its policies for the agriculture sector, under which we provide interest subvention and other support.

We will continue to give all that. If a State has its own resources and wants to go ahead in that direction, it will have to find its resources. The situation where the Centre will help one State and not the others will not arise.”

On bad loans, Mr Jaitley said the Reserve Bank of India is at an advanced stage of preparing a list of debtors whose cases would be considered for speedy resolution through the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) process.

Mr Jaitley, who was speaking to reporters, said, “Under the new ordinance issued, the RBI is at a fairly advanced stage of preparing a list of those debtors where a resolution is required through IBC process. You will be shortly hearing about it.”

The meeting, he said, also discussed the challenge regarding weak credit growth as well as the state of resolution of Non Performing Assets (NPA) and the state of finances of the PSBs. “There are already about 81 cases filed under the IBC, of these 18 cases have been initiated by financial creditors.

These are already before the National Company Law Tribunal and since the bulk of the NPAs – about 70% – are either in consortium or in multiple banking arrangement, a speedy resolution is required,” he said.

RBI Deputy Governor S S Mundra, who attended the meeting, said the RBI was discussing the issue of bad loans with banks and that “information has already been collected on such accounts from banks”.

The RBI is learnt to be looking at certain large stressed accounts. Guidance from an internal advisory panel is expected soon on the accounts that would be referred to the IBC.

Officials said the National Investment & Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) may also be roped in to help the banks in the sale of a portion of their stressed assets.

“The NIIF has options of take out financing, and discussions were also held on providing last mile finance to stalled projects,” a senior official said, adding that telecom was among the sectors discussed for stressed assets resolution.

At the meeting, a detailed presentation was made and it emerged that in FY17, the banks have made stable operating profit of Rs 1.5 lakh crore. Subject to various provisioning requirements, there has been a net profit of Rs 574 crore.

Mr Jaitley said though PSB consolidation was not on the meeting’s agenda, “We are actively moving in that direction. I can’t give you further details as these are price-sensitive information. But you can take it that there is movement in that direction.”

The meeting also reviewed all financial inclusion schemes, the Stand Up India initiative, cyber-security and Goods and Services Tax related issues.