While taking a very grim view of the trend of false implication of the relatives of the husband in matrimonial disputes, the Telangana High Court in an extremely laudable, learned, landmark and latest judgment titled P Rajeshwari And Another Vs The State Of A.P. in CRL.P. Nos. 6400 and 7242 of 2013 pronounced as recently as on July 14, 2022 minced absolutely no words to observe that the false implication of the relatives of the husband in matrimonial disputes based on general and omnibus allegations, if left unchecked would result in misuse of the process of law. It is high time and the Centre must step in and promptly amend the law by introducing reasonable checks and balances like where the allegations are mala fide and with intent to falsely implicate then the women who does so and so also her relatives who abet her to do so must be made to undergo a minimum imprisonment term of at least five years and so also would have to give compensation of few lakhs of rupees to the husband. This will definitely go a long way in checking the open and rampant abuse of dowry laws against the husband and his relatives. We thus see that the Bench of Hon’ble Sri Justice A Santhosh Reddy ordered to quash further proceedings against the mother-in-law/A2, brother-in-law/A3 (husband’s brother), and sister-in-law/A4 (wife of husband’s brother) of a woman, who had levelled allegations of harassing her for dowry [booked u/s 498-A IPC and S. 3, 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act].
At the outset, this cogent, composed, convincing and common order authored by a Single Judge Bench of the Telangana High Court comprising of Hon’ble Sri Justice A Santhosh Reddy sets the ball rolling by first and foremost putting forth in para 1 that, “Crl.P.No.6400 of 2013 is filed by the petitioners/A-2 and A-4 under Section 482 Cr.P.C. to quash the proceedings in P.R.C.No.123 of 2013 on the file of IX Metropolitan Magistrate, Miyapur.”
Simply put, the Bench then states in para 2 that, “Crl.P.No.7242 of 2013 is filed by the petitioner/A-3 under Section 482 Cr.P.C to quash the proceedings in P.R.C.No.123 of 2013 on the file of IX Metropolitan Magistrate, Miyapur.”
Needless to say, the Bench then observes in para 3 that, “Since these two criminal petitions arose out of the same crime number and one P.R.C., they are being disposed of by way of common order.”
To put things in perspective, the Bench then envisages in para 4 that, “The second respondent herein filed a private complaint before the Court of IX Metropolitan Magistrate at Miyapur alleging that her marriage with A-1 took place on 14.12.2006 at Gold Merchant Association Community Hall, Gandhi Bazaar, Ongole, Prakasham District. During the time of marriage, Rs.5.00 lakhs cash and 25 tulas of gold were given towards dowry to the accused. Since the day of marriage, in-laws started harassing the second respondent on one or other pretext and suspecting her fidelity. It is alleged that A-1 harassed the second respondent physically and mentally for additional dowry. The second respondent went to the house of her in-laws at Ongole during the month of February, 2007 for leading marital life. A-1 continued the harassment and used to come in drunken condition and used to undress her and beat her till early hours of the following day. On their demand, the father of the second respondent gave additional dowry of Rs.3.00 lakhs on 20.04.2007. A-3 husband of A4 expressed his sympathy towards her and took her forcefully in his lap and tried to caress her, when the second respondent resisted and tried to run away, upon which A-3 told that entire family would support him. When she revealed the incident the entire family supported him and warned her that she has no option except to satisfy him and he tore her blouse. With great difficulty, the second respondent hit him with pestle and he sustained injuries. It is also alleged that the second respondent informed to A-1 and her father-in-law, they called A-3 and A-4 and all of them gagged her mouth and mercilessly beat her. Thereafter, the second respondent was brought by A-1 to Hyderabad on 28.02.2007 and left her at her parents house.”
While continuing in the same vein, the Bench then discloses in para 5 that, “It is also alleged that the mother-in-law of the second respondent was insisting her to do all house-hold work and find fault with her deliberately and used to abuse her in filthy language. During the month of June, 2011, A-4 along with his cousin brother came to her residence and threatened with dire consequences if additional dowry is not given. On 16.03.2012 midnight her husband contacted to the father of the second respondent and threatened him with dire consequences if he does not convince his daughter to join him. Basing on the complaint referred, a case in crime No.203 of 2012 was registered for the offences punishable under Sections 498-A, 354 IPC and Sections 3 and 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act and after completion of investigation, the charge sheet was filed against the A-1 and the petitioners/A-2 and A-4 for the offences punishable under Sections.498-A IPC and Sections 3 and 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act and under Sections 498-A and 354 IPC and Sections 3 and 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act against A-3 and the same was numbered as PRC.No.123 of 2013 on the file of X Metropolitan Magistrate, Miyapur. Aggrieved by the same, the present Criminal Petitions are filed.”
As we see, the Bench then points out in para 7 that, “Learned Senior counsel for the petitioners submits that the petitioners are relatives of husband of the second respondent and they were residing in different places and she made all the allegations against her husband only except saying that A-3 touched her hand in the year 2007 and that too when her brief stay of two months in her husband’s house and when she went to the house of A-3 to discuss the issue. Insofar as A-2 and A-4 are concerned, the learned Senior counsel for the petitioners submits there are no allegations against the petitioners/A-2 and A-4 except saying that they abused the second respondent in her brief stay of two months at her in-laws house that she is not cooking properly. Therefore, the continuation of proceedings against the petitioners/A-2 to A-4 without therebeing any material allegations satisfying the alleged offences and making the petitioners to undergo the rigor of trial, would amount to abuse of process of law and prayed to quash the proceedings.”
To be sure, the Bench then states in para 8 that, “Learned Senior Counsel relied on the following decisions:
1. Preeti Gupta v. State of Jharkhand (2010) 7 Supreme Court Cases 667
2. Geeta Mehrotra v.State of Uttar Pradesh (2012) 10 Supreme Court Cases 741
3. K.Subba Rao v. State of Telangana (2018) 14 Supreme Court Cases 452
4. Mirza Iqbal alias Golu v. State of Uttar Pradesh 2021 SCC Online SC 1251
5. Kahkashan Kausar @ Sonam v. State of Bihar 2022 SCC OnLine SC 162.”
As it turned out, the Bench then specifies in para 10 that, “A perusal of the allegations of the charge sheet would reveal that A-1 is the husband of the second respondent, A-2 is the mother of A-1. A-3 is the brother of A-1 and A-4 is the sister-in-law of A-1. The marriage of A-1 and the second respondent took place on 14.12.2006 at Gold Merchant Association Community Hall, Gandhi Bazaar, Ongole, Prakasham District. At the time of marriage, an amount of Rs.10.00 lakhs, 25 tolas of gold was demanded, but on negotiations dowry amount was reduced to Rs.5.00 lakhs and 25 tolas of gold. The father of the second respondent spent huge amount in the marriage. It is further alleged that A-1 and the second respondent went to Tirupathi and returned to the house of the second respondent and thereafter, the accused started suspecting infidelity of the second respondent and used to beat her with belt. It is also alleged that the second respondent went to the house of in-laws at Ongole during the month of February, 2007 and A-1 continued harassment. It is alleged that the second respondent informed the first petitioner and others, but they did not take any steps. Further they demanded additional dowry. The father of the second respondent paid Rs.3.00 lakhs on 20.04.2007.”
Furthermore, the Bench then maintains in para 11 that, “The main allegations against the A-3, who is the husband of A-4, is that he expressed sympathy towards her and took her forcibly in his lap and tried to caress her and the second respondent resisted and tried to run away and she informed the same to A-1 and her father- in-law and they called A-3 and A-4 and all of them gagged her mouth and mercilessly beat her and on 28.02.2007 A-1 left the second respondent at her parents house.”
Most forthrightly, the Bench then sought to clearly state in para 12 that, “The allegations of the charge sheet coupled with the statements of the second respondent, her father and other witnesses reveal that there is only allegation against the petitioner/A-3 that he expressed his sympathy towards the second respondent and caught hold her hand. She resisted the alleged incident occurred prior to 28.02.2007. If at all there is truth in the allegations of the second respondent, so far as A-3 is concerned, she being a software Engineer would not have kept quite without taking any recourse from 12.06.2007 on which date the second respondent was alleged to have molested by the petitioner/A-3. . The said allegation prima facie do not make out or satisfy the essential ingredients of the alleged offence under Section 354 IPC and appears to have made with an oblique motive.”
It cannot be just glossed over that the Bench then unequivocally states in para 13 that, “Coming to the allegations made against the petitioners/A-2 to A-4 infact, the learned Senior Counsel submitted that they are residents of Ongole, Prakasham District. Admittedly, in the complaint, it is alleged that the second respondent is not living with A-1 since 28.02.2007, on which date she was taken to her parents house. The only allegation made by the second respondent after she left to her parents house is that on 16.03.2012, A-1 called her and threatened her with dire consequences. It appears these allegations are prima facie appears to be made to implicate the petitioners probably to bring pressure on the family.”
While citing the relevant case law, the Bench then hastens to add in para 14 that, “It would be relevant at this stage to take note of opt observation of the Hon’ble Apex Court in G.V.Rao v.LHV Prasad (2000) 3 SCC 693 and at para No.12 held as under:
“12 There has been an outburst of matrimonial dispute in recent times. Marriage is a sacred ceremony, main purpose of which is to enable the young couple to settle down in life and live peacefully. But little matrimonial skirmishes suddenly erupt which often assume serious proportions resulting in heinous crimes in which elders of the family are also involved with the result that those who could have counselled and brought about rapprochement are rendered helpless on their being arrayed as accused in the criminal case. There are many reasons which need not be mentioned here for not encouraging matrimonial litigation so that the parties may ponder over their defaults and terminate the disputes amicably by mutual agreement instead of fighting it out in a court of law where it takes years and years to conclude and in that process the parties lose their “young” days in chasing their cases in different courts.””
Most commendably, the Bench then states upfront in para 15 that, “Coming to the facts of the present case, when the contents of charge sheet and the statements of the witnesses, F.I.R. are perused, it is apparent that all the main allegations are against A-1 for the alleged offences under Sections 498-A IPC and Sections 3 and 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act, whereas the family members i.e. A-2 and A-4 who is mother and sister in law of A-1 appears to have been implicated by way of general and omni bus allegations and there is no specific and distinct allegations have been made as to the role played by them in the alleged offences. Insofar as, A-1 is concerned, the veracity of the allegations made against him need not be examined by this Court, since he is not before this Court. However, as far as the petitioners are concerned, the allegations made against them being general and omnibus, do not warrant prosecution.”
While citing most relevant case laws, the Bench then notes in para 16 that, “In Preeti Gupta (supra 1), the Hon’ble Apex Court held as under:
32. “It is a matter of common experience that most of these complaints under section 498-A IPC are filed in the heat of the moment over trivial issues without proper deliberations. We come across a large number of such complaints which are not even bona fide and are filed with oblique motive. At the same time, rapid increase in the number of genuine cases of dowry harassment are also a matter of serious concern.
37. Before parting with this case, we would like to observe that a serious relook of the entire provision is warranted by the legislation. It is also a matter of common knowledge that exaggerated versions of the incident are reflected in a large number of complaints. The tendency of over implication is also reflected in a very large number of cases. The criminal trials lead to immense sufferings for all concerned. Even ultimate acquittal in the trial may also not be able to wipe out the deep scars of suffering of ignominy. Unfortunately a large number of these complaints have not only flooded the courts but also have led to enormous social unrest affecting peace, harmony and happiness of the society. It is high time that the legislature must take into consideration the pragmatic realities and make suitable changes in the existing law. It is imperative for the legislature to take into consideration the informed public opinion and the pragmatic realities in consideration and make necessary changes in the relevant provisions of law.”
In Mizra Iqbal Alias Golu (supra 4), the Apex Court held as under:
“ However, we deem it appropriate to add by way of caution that we may not be misunderstood so as to infer that even if there are allegations of overt act indicating the complicity of the members of the family named in the FIR in a given case, cognizance would be unjustified but what we wish to emphasise by highlighting is that, if the FIR as it stands does not disclose specific allegation against the accused more so against the co-accused specially in a matter arising out of matrimonial bickering, it would be clear abuse of the legal and judicial process to mechanically send the named accused in the FIR to undergo the trial unless of course the FIR discloses specific allegations which would persuade the court to take cognizance of the offence alleged against the relatives of the main accused who are prima facie not found to have indulged in physical and mental torture of the complainant wife.””
Most significantly, the Bench then ostensibly lays bare in para 17 stating that, “It is manifest from the judgments of the Apex Court relied on by learned senior counsel as cited above, the false implication of the relatives of the husband in matrimonial disputes basing on general and omnibus allegations, if left unchecked would result in misuse of the process of law. In the instant case, the relatives of A-1 i.e. A-2 to A-4 have been roped in on the basis of omnibus allegations and without any specific instances of their involvement in the alleged offences deserves to be quashed to avoid the rigor of undergoing trial.”
Frankly enough, the Bench then holds in para 18 that, “For the aforesaid reasons, I am of the view that from the averments of the complaint, F.I.R., charge sheet and the statements of the witnesses apparently there is no sufficient to material prima facie to proceed against the petitioners /A-2 to A-4 for the alleged offences.”
Quite candidly, the Bench then also maintained in para 19 that, “Therefore, this Court is of the view that continuation of the proceedings against the petitioners herein would certainly amount to abuse of process of law. It is, therefore, considered as fit cases to invoke the inherent powers of this Court under Section 482 Cr.P.C., and quash further proceedings against the petitioners/A-2 to A-4.”
Finally, the Bench then aptly concludes by holding in para 20 that, “In the result, both the criminal petitions are allowed and the proceedings against the petitioners/A-2 to A-4 respectively in P.R.C.No.123 of 2013 on the file of IX Metropolitan Magistrate, Kukatpally at Miyapur, are hereby quashed. Miscellaneous petitions, if any, pending shall stand closed.”
In essence, what the Telangana High Court has ruled in this leading case is a clear pointer of what is most notably pointed out also that the false implication of the relatives of the husband in matrimonial disputes based on general and omnibus allegations, if left unchecked would result in gross misuse of the process of law. It is really high time and Centre must also now step forward and insert adequate safeguards in penal laws to ensure that the laws meant for ensuring the safety of women does not become a potent instrument to harass, humiliate and harangue the husband and his relatives as we see so very often which the Telangana High Court has so very forthrightly, firmly and finally pointed out in this case also! There can certainly be no more dilly dallying anymore on this now!
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NCEL granted export permission for rice and sugar
The newly established National Cooperative Exports Ltd (NCEL) has received authorization to export 14,92,800 tonnes of non-Basmati rice to 16 countries and 50,000 tonnes of sugar to two countries, as disclosed by Cooperation Minister Amit Shah in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.
Functioning under the ambit of the Multi-State Co-operative Societies Act, 2002, the NCEL, registered in January this year, operates across agriculture, allied activities, handloom, and handicraft items. With an objective to double its revenue by 2025 from the present Rs 2,160 crore, the entity has actively enrolled numerous cooperatives, garnering 2,581 membership applications from 22 states and Union Territories.
Minister Amit Shah emphasized that NCEL’s primary objective is to create an export-friendly environment, particularly for agricultural commodities, leveraging India’s comparative advantage in these sectors. The cooperative body welcomes the participation of cooperative societies, from grassroots to apex levels, interested in engaging in export activities.
The key focus of NCEL remains on utilizing the surplus available within the Indian cooperative sector by accessing global markets. This strategic expansion aims to enhance the demand for Indian cooperative products on an international scale, ensuring better price realizations for these goods and services.
NCEL’s operational scope encompasses a comprehensive ecosystem to promote exports, spanning procurement, storage, processing, marketing, branding, labelling, packaging, certification, research and development, and trading across all goods and services produced by cooperative societies.
Moreover, the cooperative export body intends to facilitate cooperatives in availing benefits from various export-related schemes and policies curated by different ministries, streamlining and enhancing their export endeavours.
The establishment of NCEL underscores a concerted effort to leverage cooperative strengths in India’s export landscape, promising to amplify market reach and economic returns for agricultural commodities and allied sectors through strategic global engagements.
The initiative by the Cooperation Minister, Amit Shah, signifies a concerted push to empower cooperative societies in India’s export realm. By extending export permissions for substantial quantities of non-Basmati rice and sugar, the National Cooperative Exports Ltd (NCEL) is poised to facilitate a significant leap in the global market for agricultural produce.
This move aligns with India’s broader objective to bolster its global trade footprint, leveraging the competitive edge of its agricultural sector. Through NCEL, the aim is not only to foster increased export volumes but also to ensure a more equitable distribution of economic gains, channelling the benefits back to the grassroots level of cooperative societies.
Moreover, the strategic focus of NCEL on diverse export-related activities, including procurement, storage, branding, and research, speaks volumes about the comprehensive approach taken to fortify the entire export ecosystem. This encompassing strategy, coupled with NCEL’s commitment to guiding cooperatives in navigating export-related policies and schemes, underscores a forward-thinking approach aimed at creating a conducive environment for cooperative-driven exports.
The enthusiasm surrounding NCEL’s permissions signals a transformative phase for India’s cooperative sector. By leveraging cooperative strengths and fostering a global market presence, the initiative not only aims to boost export figures but also promises to uplift local communities, thereby enhancing the socio-economic fabric of the country.
Election Commission declares 253 RUPPs as inactive, bars them from availing benefits of the Symbol Order, 1968
Additional 86 Non-existent RUPPs shall be deleted from the list and benefits under the Symbols Order (1968) withdrawnAction against these 339 (86+253) non-compliant. RUPPs takes the tally to 537 defaulting RUPPs since May 25, 2022
In continuation of the earlier action initiated on May 25, 2022 for enforcing due compliances by Registered Unrecognized Political Parties (RUPPs), the Election Commission of India led by Chief Election Commissioner, Shri Rajiv Kumar and Election Commissioner Shri Anup Chandra Pandey today further delisted 86 non-existent RUPPs and declared additional 253 as ‘Inactive RUPPs’. This action against 339 non-compliant RUPPs takes the tally to 537 defaulting RUPPs since May 25, 2022.
As per statutory requirements under section 29A of the RP Act, every political party has to communicate any change in its name, head office, office bearers, address, PAN to the Commission without delay. 86 RUPPs have been found to be non-existent either after a physical verification carried out by the respective Chief Electoral Officers of concerned States/UTs or based on report of undelivered letters/notices from Postal Authority sent to the registered address of concerned RUPP. It may be recalled that ECI had delisted 87 RUPPs and 111 RUPPs vide orders dated May 25, 2022 and June 20, 2022, thus totalling the number of delisted RUPPs to 284.
This decision against 253 non-compliant RUPPs has been taken based on reports received from Chief Electoral Officers of seven states namely Bihar, Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana & Uttar Pradesh. These 253 RUPPs have been declared inactive, as they have not responded to the letter/notice delivered to them and have not contested a single election either to the General Assembly of a State or the Parliament Election 2014 & 2019. These RUPPs have failed to comply with statutory requirements for more than 16 compliance steps since 2015 and are continuing to default.
It is also noted that of the above 253 parties, 66 RUPPs actually applied for a common symbol as per para 10B of the Symbol’s Order 1968 and did not contest the respective elections. It is pertinent to note that privilege of a common symbol is given to RUPP based upon an undertaking for putting up at least 5 percent of total candidates with regard to said legislative assembly election of a State. Possibility of such parties occupying the available pre-election political space by taking benefits of admissible entitlements without contesting elections cannot be ruled out.
Coastal clean-up campaign receives a huge response: Dr. Jitendra Singh
The 75-day long ongoing Coastal Clean Up Campaign is receiving a huge response from across the sections of society and besides others, Governors, Chief Ministers, Union Ministers, celebrities, film and sports personalities, civil society groups etc. are joining the campaign with overwhelming enthusiasm and pledging their support to the longest and largest beach cleaning campaign in the world titled “Swachh Sagar, Surakshit Sagar”, coordinated by Union Ministry of Earth Sciences with collaboration from all the other Union Ministries, departments as well as governments of the coastal States.
Addressing a press conference today, three days ahead of “International Coastal Clean-up Day” on 17th September, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology, Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences; MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh said, he will join the campaign at Juhu beach in Mumbai on 17th September and informed that Governor Maharashtra Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis, BJP MP Poonam Mahajan and several personalities as well as NGOs will also join at Juhu.
The Minister also thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his support through social media. The PM has stressed on keeping India’s coasts clean as he praised efforts of volunteers to remove garbage from the Juhu beach in Mumbai. Responding to a video posted by Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh about the clean-up at the beach, Modi tweeted, “Commendable… I appreciate all those involved in this effort. India is blessed with a long and beautiful coastline and it is important we focus on keeping our coasts clean”. The Minister said, “A cleanathon was organised at Juhu Beach in Mumbai, saw participation in large numbers especially by youngsters and Civil Society.
Dr Jitendra Singh informed that Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan will take a lead in the clean-up campaign at world famous Puri beach, while Pratap Chandra Sarangi, former union minister will be at Chandipur. BJP MP from Hooghly, West Bengal Ms Locket Chatterjee will be at Digha on D-Day. R.K.Mission head will lead the campaign at Bakkhali in southern Bengal.
Chief Minister of Gujarat Bhupendrabhai Patel will be at Porbandar (Madhavpur), while Union Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying Parshottam Khodabhai Rupala will join the clean-up operation at Jafrabad, Amreli.
Governor of Goa P. S. Sreedharan Pillai and Chief Minister Pramod Sawant will take part in beach cleaning campaign in South and North Goa beaches on 17th September.
Similarly, Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan will be at Kochi, while MoS External Affairs V. Muraleedharan will be at Kovalam beach at Thiruvananthapuram.
Governor of Karnataka Thawar Chand Gehlot will join the campaign at Panambur beach in Mangalore, while the Governor of Telangana, Dr. Tamilisai Soundararajan will lend her helping hand at Puducherry beach.
Governor of Mizoram Dr. K. Hari Babu will take part in Vizag beach while L. Murugan, Union MoS, Information and Broadcasting will join the event at Chennai
Dr Jitendra Singh informed that the campaign has entered the mode of whole of Government approach plus whole of nation participation.
Dr Jitendra Singh said, apart from active cooperation of Ministries of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Jal Shakti, Health and Family Welfare, Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, External Affairs, Information and Broadcasting, organisations and associations like National Service Scheme (NSS), Indian Coast Guard, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Seema Jagran Manch, SFD, Paryavaran Sanrakshan Gatividhi (PSG), along with other social organizations and educational institutions are participating in the clean-up campaign.
The MPs of coastal states have also pledged full support to the first-of-its-kind and longest running coastal clean-up campaign in the world and they also advised the Ministry of Earth Sciences to undertake a variety of activities by involving local NGOs.
DASHBOARD TO BE SET UP SOON TO SHARE THE BEST TECH PRACTICES AMONG THE CENTRE & THE STATES: UNION MINISTER JITENDRA SINGH
Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology; Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences; MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh today announced setting up of a Dashboard to share the best technology practices among the Centre and the States.
Presiding over the concluding session of the two-day “Centre-State Science Conclave” at Science City in Ahmedabad, Dr Jitendra Singh informed that a high level mechanism will be developed by the Department of Science and Technology to monitor and coordinate the follow up action of the conclave. The Minister also asked the States to appoint a Nodal officer in each of the States to coordinate and cooperate with the Special Committee for knowing and sharing the best practices.
Giving the example of heli-borne technology launched from Jodhpur, Rajasthan in October, 2021, Dr Jitendra Singh said, to start with, the States of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab and Haryana were taken up for this latest heli-borne survey.
The Minister pointed out that if the same technology is uploaded on Dashboard, other States may join and share this CSIR technology from source finding to water treatment and thus benefit millions of people across the country.
Dr Jitendra Singh said, it will also positively contribute to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Har Ghar Nal Se Jal” as well as “doubling farmer’s income” goals. He said, the latest state-of-the-art technology is being employed by Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) for mapping groundwater sources in arid regions and thus help utilise groundwater for drinking purposes.
The 2-day ‘Centre-State Science Conclave’ was formally inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Science City, Ahmedabad, yesterday. Dr Jitendra Singh expressed satisfaction that important plenary sessions with State S&T Ministers discussed in detail on issues like Agriculture, Innovation for producing portable drinking water including application of technologies like Desalination, Heli borne methods developed by DST, Clean Energy for All including S&T role in Hydrogen mission, Deep Sea Mission of MoES and its relevance for Coastal States/UT, Digital healthcare for All and Synergizing Science with National Education Policy.
A special session with the CEOs of over 100 Start-Ups and industry at the Centre-State Science Conclave’ in Ahmedabad came up with scientific solutions in the field of agriculture, drone, artificial intelligence, biotechnological solutions, single-use plastic alternates, irrigation and digital health amongst others.
Many of the State governments have shown keen interest in some of the technologies and agreed to partner with some of the startups for State-specific technological solutions.
Floods, economic crisis and political bickerings: A saga of Pakistan’s mismanagement & insensitivity
The worst floods in several decades have wreaked havoc in Pakistan, one of the most populous countries of South Asia. The floods have touched the country’s 220 million people’s lives directly or indirectly. More than 1,300 people have died with 81 out of 160 districts directly affected by the floods, leaving at least 33 million people homeless.
The heat waves followed by rains and glacial melting has been a global trend this year bringing out the stark reality that despite all talks and conventions, the world community has failed to contain and reverse climatic change. But Pakistan’s case is unique.
Beyond the human losses, the country’s economic managers have the most challenging task ahead as floods ravaged the country’s road and communication network, damaged an incalculable number of houses, and destroyed millions of hectares of crops.
Niaz Murtaza, a political economist, describes present crisis as “a triple whammy”, putting together economic, political and natural. “The poor had been suffering the first two months because of inflation, job loss and political paralysis. Now the floods have pushed millions into ruin,” he said.
Despite this, the political masters are not only busy in bickering and allegations against each other, but have also triggered a blame game on social media as usual, pointing fingers on India for the flood havoc. The bombardment of propaganda, nevertheless, cannot change the reality that Pakistan government and its institutions have utterly failed in fulfilling their duties towards its citizens.
Ludicrous as it is, it cannot absolve the leadership of Pakistan that has failed people in terms of economic mismanagement, entrenched corruption and naked cronyism in the system. Added to these are the wrong policies and priorities of Islamabad which have been instrumental in bringing economic crisis and political instability. The floods have only abetted it.
The natural disaster has struck Pakistan while economy is passing through the difficult phase of multiple challenges including Balance of Payment (BoP) crisis, heavy debt burden and solvency-related issues. The protracted economic crisis is likely to deepen further despite conclusion of talks with the IMF for release of Extended Fund Facility credit.
While Finance Minister Miftah Ismail estimates that the country has incurred a total loss of “at least $10 billion”, independent analysts, including Uzar Younus, Director of the Pakistan Initiative at the Atlantic Council’s South Asia centre and economist Ammar Habib Khan, put the figure between $15-20 billion, and expect it to rise further as information is coming with a great lag.
Existing infrastructure is collapsing with the flooding submerging one-third of the country, pushing 37 per cent of population into poverty. Pakistan is literally and figuratively under deep water, writes Nasir Jamal. It may take a few more months before the damages can be assessed. Even before the flooding, 60 per cent of the population was suffering from hunger, malnutrition and related diseases and the figures are bound to shoot up now.
In view of the mammoth loss, the IMF’s $1.2 billion credit now seems to be a peanut. Pakistan was earlier wounded and now it is bleeding. Floods will exacerbate the economic crisis that had shown initial signs of abating with the IMF deal. Twin deficits, growth prospects and inflationary expectations will be worsening, inflicting misery on the poor. Despite increasing gravity of the situation, saving people’s life and livelihood have not still become the priorities among the political class who are revealing in an ugly slugfest.
The real cost of the natural calamity is being borne by millions of poor kids, pregnant women, elderly and sick persons crowded under the open sky or tents, prone to hunger, diseases and insecurity as they wait for aid. It will be weeks before many can even return to their villages as the land drains and dries. It will take months, even years, to recover from the loss of housing, animals, crops and cultivable land.
Covid-19 had only disrupted economic exchange without damaging the economic base. But the flood has destroyed crops, land, animals, bridges, etc. negatively impacting deeper on the poor and the economy. And the insensitive political class in Pakistan is still deeply engrossed in political maneuver and cunning tricks against each other rather than presenting a united face at the time of calamity. That is the character of Pakistan’s politics.
In view of the contribution of agriculture to the extent of one fourth of the GDP, the country would have to face major revenue loss due to crop losses. As per the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s August 29 report, almost 80 per cent of crops in Sindh, which produces roughly 30% of Pakistan’s cotton output, were destroyed.
Close to 70 per cent of Pakistan’s textile industry, an important source of employment and foreign exchange, uses the cotton produced in the country. Floods are likely to cause severe shortage of cotton, said Abdul Rahim Nasir, Chairman of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association. He added that instead of earlier average import of cotton estimated at about 4 million bales, Pakistan would now need to import just the double of that figure, at a potential cost of $3 billion.
Shahrukh Wani, an Oxford economist, says the flood will make it terribly difficult for the government to reduce the trade deficit because while the country will need to import food to “compensate” for lost crops, the textile sector will find itself struggling due to “potential shortage” of cotton crop.
The biting inflation which rose to 25% in the month of July from a year earlier, the highest since May 1975, is taking its own toll on the living conditions of masses. The flooding would further push up the inflation and accentuate the scarcity of even essentials.
Amreen Soorani, Head of Research at JS Global Capital Ltd, said that “the main concern from the floods is the impact on inflation”. Even the IMF warned that the runaway inflation could trigger protests and instability.
Islamabad secured funds from the IMF for immediate bailout of the economy from the saturating forex crisis. However, the problems would be far from over for Islamabad. As the advanced countries are focused more on the impact of Ukraine-Russia war and trying to cope with recessionary pressures while some of the development partners including Middle Eastern countries and China are down with donor fatigue, Islamabad has scant probability to get any major international relief.
For now, the immediate challenge that government will face is to fulfil the conditions of raising taxes and applying austerity measures as part of its agreement with the IMF for its bailout package. This might turn out a politically unpopular move and could flare up the political bickering. The condition is rife for mass protests in view of increasing cost of living for many months now, which opposition could take advantage of. Anger is rising across Pakistan over the slow pace of government relief efforts.
The catastrophic floods have put a downward pressure on growth prospectus. Initial estimates suggest that the economic growth rate may slow down to just 2 per cent. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has said that the recent floods caused more damage than the 2010 calamity wherein the economic losses had been estimated at $9.7 billion. The floods have already caused supply chain-related issues.
Even during natural calamity, politicians are concerned about their political agenda rather than allowing international aid agencies to import essential food items from the neighbouring country. Cases after cases of corruption are cropping up, “you reveal mine, I will reveal yours”, an unending slugfest continues.
Instead of fighting the fallout of the devastating natural calamity united, they are engrossed in manoeuvre and cunning tricks and a regressive thought process whether or not to allow aid flow from India. Some of the government top officials have suggested importing essential commodities such as food and medicine from India, while others are still the victim of the old rigidities and anti-India mindset.
India is an undoable reality of being the most potent vehicle of South Asia’s growth vision as it is a responsible regional power and the fastest growing economy of the world, which offers a big market for exports and sourcing imports. Islamabad needs to understand that cooperation with neighbours does not reduce the stature of a calamity hit country.
Separated in 1947, Sikh brother meets sister reunite
The Kartarpur Corridor has once again reunited another family after a man who separated from his parents when he was only a few months old in 1947, finally met his sister in Pakistan.
Amarjit Singh was left out in India along with his sister while his Muslim parents came to Pakistan. All eyes went teary as they saw the emotional scenes of the brother-sister reunion in Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, Geo News reported.
Amarjit Singh arrived in Pakistan via the Wagah border with a visa to meet his Muslim sister and to remain as her guest.
His sister, 65-year-old Kulsoom Akhtar, could not control her emotions after seeing Amarjit.
Both hugged each other and kept crying. She had travelled from her hometown in Faisalabad along with her son Shahzad Ahmed and other family members to meet her brother.
Kulsoom said that her parents came to Pakistan from the suburbs of the Jalandhar region of India in 1947, leaving behind her younger brother and a sister, Express Tribune reported.
Kulsoom said she was born in Pakistan and used to hear about her lost brother and a sister from her mother. She said that her mother used to cry every time whenever she remembered her missing children. Kulsoom said that she did not expect that she would ever be able to meet her brother and sister. However, a few years ago, a friend of her father Sardar Dara Singh came to Pakistan from India.
Kulsoom’s mother told Singh about her son and daughter she left behind in India. She also told him the name of their village and the location of their house in the neighbouring country.
Amarjit then visited her house in Padawan village of Jalandhar and informed her that her son was alive but her daughter was dead. Her son was named Amarjit Singh who was adopted by a Sikh family back then in 1947, The Express Tribune reported.
After getting the brother’s information, Amarjit and Kulsoom Akhtar contacted on WhatsApp and using the Kartarpur Corridor and the meeting between the two siblings became a reality.
Now an elderly man, Sardar Amarjit Singh came to Gurdwara Sahib in a wheelchair. Kulsoom Akhtar also could not travel due to back pain, but she showed courage and reached Kartarpur from Faisalabad along with her son. Both the siblings kept crying while embracing each other and remembering their parents.
Amarjit said that when he first learned that his real parents were in Pakistan and were Muslims, it was a shock to him. However, he comforted his heart that many families were separated from each other in addition to his own family.
Many Muslim children became Sikhs and many Sikh children became Muslims, Express Tribune reported.
He said that he always wanted to meet his real sister and brothers. He said that he is happy to know that three of his brothers are alive. However, one brother who was in Germany has passed away.
He said he will now come to Pakistan via the Wagah border with a visa and spend time with his family. He also said that he will take his family to India as well so that they could meet their Sikh family. Both the siblings had brought many gifts for each other.
Shahzad Ahmad, son of Kulsoom, said that he used to hear about his uncle from his grandmother and mother. He said that all of the siblings were very young at the time of Partition and no name was given to Amarjit or perhaps, after so many years, the name had slipped out of mind.
“I understand that since my uncle was brought up by a Sikh family, he happens to be a Sikh, and my family and I have no problem with this,” he added.
Shahzad said that he is happy that even after 75 years his mother has found her lost brother.
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