The New Indian Express – Farm loans: Soon, licence must for money lenders in Punjab

Harpreet Bajwa

The cabinet also approved another bill to create a Price Stabilization Fund to ensure that farmers in the state get the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for their produce.

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 24 August 2018. The Punjab Government has decided to streamline the system of money lending to farmers by fixing a limit on the advance on per acre of land, with the rate of interest also to be duly determined by the government.

The cabinet also approved another bill to create a Price Stabilization Fund to ensure that farmers in the state get the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for their produce.

The state cabinet today approved the introduction of Punjab Settlement of Agricultural Indebtedness Bill, 2018, in the Vidhan Sabha session beginning tomorrow.

The Bill, aimed at further relieving the state’s farmers from the vice of debts, proposes a series of measures to protect the interests of the farming community, saving them from the clutches of unauthorized money lenders who charge exorbitant rates to give unlimited amounts as loans.

With the enactment of the Bill, only licensed money lenders will be allowed to advance the money, with lending by others deemed to be illegal.

Only these licensed money lenders will be allowed to move the debt settlement forums, which will be headed by Commissioners. The lender would be required to submit proof of the amount lent to the farmer.

It has also been decided to bring down the total number of debt settlement forums from 22, as per the existing Act passed in 2016, to five. The new forums would be constituted at the divisional levels. This would help in ensuring a more systematic approach to handling farm debt cases.

The decision to amend the existing law on farm loans has been taken to curb the growing trend of agricultural indebtedness, resulting in the mismatch between the prices of agricultural inputs and minimum support price of agricultural produce. The farmers raise loans from both institutional and non-institutional resources.

However, while the institutional loans are regulated through various special legislations governing the institutions providing such loans, non-institutional loans are largely unregulated having no mechanism for redressal of grievances of debtor.

In the light of this, the Government has thus enacted the Punjab Settlement of Agricultural Indebtedness Act, 2016 which provide a framework for regulation and settlement of agricultural debts.

The cabinet also approved a Bill to create a Price Stabilization Fund to ensure that farmers in the state get the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for their produce. The Bill will be tabled for enactment in the Vidhan Sabha session, beginning tomorrow, it was decided by the Cabinet.

The Bill is aimed at protecting the interests of farmers in the event of a sudden fall in prices of certain agricultural commodities below normal prices. It will bring about amendments to section 25 (A), 26 and 28 of the Punjab Agricultural Produce Markets Act, 1961.

As per the amendments, the contribution will be charged out of the commission charged by arhtiyas towards Agricultural Produce Price Stabilization Fee.

The Market Development Fund and Market Committee Fund are being amended by inserting new clause (xxii) after section 26 & 28 of the Punjab Agricultural Produce Markets Act, 1961, so that these funds can also be used in the Price Stabilization Fund.

The step has been taken in view of the pitiable condition of the state’s farmers, pushing many of them to suicide in the recent past. The state government has already taken several other path-breaking initiatives for the welfare of the beleaguered farmers, including waiver of debts of small and marginal farmers. – Akalis launch personal attack on Justice Ranjit Singh; Seek his arrest for ‘leaking’ report

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 24 August 2018. Launching a personal attack on Justice Ranjit Singh on August 23, the Shiromani Akali Dal and BJP affiliated legislators submitted a “resolution” to the Punjab assembly speaker Rana K P Singh seeking arrest of Justice Ranjit Singh for allegedly leaking its confidential Investigation report before its presentation in the Punjab assembly.

Beside it, the SAD-BJP alliance also sought dismissal of the Cabinet Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa for allegedly fabricating evidence.

They requested the Speaker to impress upon the Punjab assembly to approach the Supreme Court to get a sitting judge appointed to probe cases of sacrilege in Punjab. The duo parties alleged that Justice Ranjit Singh Commission had created false evidence while probing incidents of sacrilege.

Going further, the SAD-BJP alliance also leveled baseless accusations of questioning the existence of the supreme Sikh throne against the Justice Ranjit Singh Commission.

The alliance has accused the Commission of deliberately trying to lower their “dignity” by launching a “Congress-inspired tirade” against those in the service of these institutions.

The SAD-BJP legislators also submitted a notice for breach of privilege motion to the Speaker and urged him to take prompt action against all those who could have leaked the Commission report, including the ex-judge himself, Randhawa and AAP leader Sukhpal Khaira.


19 July 2018

Scheldedijk and Gentbrugge brug (bridge)

Tweekapellenstraat – Bus 3 to Mariakerke Post

Tweekapellenstraat – Bus 3 to Braemkasteel

Sint-Simon and Sint-Judas Church


Gent-Sint-Pieters – Dampoort railway line

To see all my pictures:

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The Economic Times – Students’ visa policy & support to Sikh radicals key irritants

Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury

New Delhi – India, 24 August 2018. India’s relations with the United Kingdom are being tested over a slew of issues ranging from visa policy for students to extradition of fugitives and refusal to check Sikh separatists.

The Narendra Modi government had identified the UK as a key country with which to nurture ties even post Brexit given the strong partnership between the two nations since 1947.

Prime Minister Modi has made two trips to the UK, including one in April this year when the two countries signed 26 agreements across sectors from cybersecurity to nuclear energy and fintech.

However, the Theresa May government appears to have only hardened its stance on sensitive issues, casting a shadow on bilateral relations. Officials termed the stance inexplicable given that the partnership showed immense promise, and blamed it on both political exigencies and bureaucracy in the UK.

The go-ahead to the pro-Khalistan rally in the heart of London on August 12 and the UK’s lenient attitude towards Sikh radicals, guided apparently by vote bank politics, has emerged as the latest irritant for India.

The May government’s refusal to include India in the special category for student visas has not helped, nor has the inaction on several extradition requests related to fugitives such as Vijay Mallya.

Experts said there is a growing perception that the UK is growing too close to Pakistan for India’s comfort. They said there is no plausible reason why the UK government has not acted on India’s repeated requests for extradition of fugitives as well as Sikh extremists.

What has also intrigued the Indian establishment is the repeated request for consular access for Sikh terrorist Jagtar Singh Johal, who is currently lodged in jail in India.

“The priority of the British government, it appears, is not expansion of bilateral ties in the post-Brexit period but issues related to violation of sovereignty and rule of law,” said an expert, who did not wish to be identified.

Further, the UK’s moves to change the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ rules and a visit by Khaleda Zia’s lawyer Lord Carlyle to Delhi were opposed by the Modi government.

According to Britain’s former high commissioner to India Richard Stagg, a “lack of trust” permeates the relationship between Britain and India.

Another expert said, “Indians are saviours of English language given the country’s large English speaking population and rising number of English authors. Yet bonafide students from India have not been included in the special category of visas and special treatment is meted out to safeguard fugitives like Mallya.”

There are also reports that Chinese students have been exempted from appearing in English language test while seeking admission to UK universities.

The UK government has, however, denied this charge. “There has not been any lowering of requirements. All students globally need to maintain the same level of English needed to study in the UK,” a British government official told ET.

“There is no cap on the number of genuine students who can visit the UK. In the year ended March 2018, we granted more than 15,000 Tier 4 student visas, a 30% increase on the previous year.”

According to the UK government data more than 530,000 visas were granted to Indian nationals in 2017-18 and 89% of Indian nationals who applied for a UK visa in 2017 were successful.

In June the UK government exempted doctors from the Tier 2 visa cap. So there will be no restriction on the numbers of Indian doctors and nurses who can be employed through the Tier 2 visa route, said the British official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The May government claims it is doing a lot to encourage Indian talent. In June the UK announced a new ‘start-up visa’ route that widened the applicant pool of talented entrepreneurs and made the visa process faster and smoother for entrepreneurs coming to the UK.

“This replaces a visa route which was exclusively for graduates, opening it up to a wider pool of talented business founders,” said one of the British officials cited earlier.

Bilateral trade and investments are also on an upswing, according to British officials. There are 26 masala bonds currently listed on the London Stock Exchange, with a combined outstanding value of over £3.65 billion (? 3,30,00 crore). Bilateral trade between the UK and India increased 17% between 2016 and 2017.

However, Sir Stagg, who served in Delhi from 2007-11, said that the May government lacks an India strategy. He said that India and the UK should focus more on security and defence cooperation, and joint exercises of armed forces, and work together for reform at international bodies such as the United Nations and World Trade Organization.

Can somebody please explain to the Indian press and to the Indian government that being a radical, or to campaign for self-determination are not crimes in democratic countries ! And why do they call somebody a terrorist who has been accused of many crimes but has not been convicted by a court ?
Man in Blue

The Hindu – Congress defends Rahul’s warning against exclusion

Special Correspondent

New Delhi – India, 23 August 2018. The Congress on Thursday strongly defended party president Rahul Gandhi’s speech in Germany where he had argued that excluding large sections of people from the development narrative could lead to insurgency in any part of the world.

On Wednesday, Mr Gandhi told the Bucerius Summer School at Hamburg (Germany) that the BJP government has excluded tribals, Dalits and minorities from the development process and that could be a “dangerous thing”.

He said that in 2003 after the USA attacked Iraq and defeated Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein, they brought a law that stopped a particular tribe in Iraq from getting jobs in the government and in the army.

“It took the United States a couple of months to defeat Saddam Hussein’s Army, hardly any American soldier died. A few months after the invasion, the network that was excluded from jobs in Iraq, the Tikriti tribal network, linked up with the cellphone network in Iraq and with the network of artillery shells that were left in villages.

And you got an insurgency that caused massive casualties to the Americans. It didn’t end there. That insurgency slowly entered empty spaces. It entered the empty space in Iraq and in Syria and then it connected with…a horrific idea called ISIS,” Mr. Gandhi said

“If you don’t give people a vision in the 21st century, somebody else will. And that’s the real risk of excluding a large number of people from the development process,” Mr. Gandhi said.

After being attacked by the BJP, the Congress explained the context of the party chief’s comment. “Unemployment is the biggest issue and Mr Gandhi explained how this sort of anger, not just in India but across the world, can lead the youth to the wrong path, violence and hatred.

But the BJP doesn’t even acknowledge joblessness as a problem,” said former Union Minister R P N Singh at a press briefing.

At the Hamburg speech, the Congress chief linked the lynching incidents in India to joblessness as well and the lack of opportunities for the poor. He claimed lynchings were the result of the anger emanating from joblessness and destruction of small businesses due to the note ban and a flawed Goods and Services Tax.

Asked about his now famous hug to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Parliament, the Congress chief revealed that many of his party colleagues didn’t like it. He said it is “foolish to respond to hate with hate” and alleged that the Prime Minister had made hateful comments against him.

Mr Gandhi said he disagreed with the suggestion that India was the worst place for women in the world but admitted incidents of violence against women in the country were rising.

Asked how can the rising violence be tackled, he said through non-violence and forgiveness. “And for forgiveness, you need to understand where it is coming from. My father was killed by a terrorist in 1991.

When the terrorist died a few years later, I wasn’t happy. I saw myself in his children,” he said, referring to LTTE chief Velupillai Prabakaran, responsible for the killing of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, being shot dead by the Sri Lankan Army in 2009.