In a sensible, strict, simple and straightforward judgment titled Vikram Dhondiram Raskar and Ors. v. State of Maharashtra and Ors. in Civil Writ Petition No. 923 of 2021 that was reserved on July 1 and then finally pronounced on July 22, 2022 minced just no words whatsoever to hold precisely that candidates aggrieved by violations of recruitment guidelines should raise their objections before appearing for the interview. It ought to be noted that a Division Bench of Justice RD Dhanuka and Justice MG Sewlikar minced just no words to make it pretty clear that, “It is well settled that a candidate who is called for the interview and takes part in the interview, cannot turn around and pick holes and contend that the selection process was conducted in violation of the guidelines.” We thus see that the Bombay High Court thus dismissed a writ petition which had challenged the legality of the recruitment process of a co-operative bank and the appointments thereof.
At the outset, this extremely commendable, cogent, composed and convincing judgment authored by Justice MG Sewlikar for a Division Bench of Bombay High Court comprising of Justice RD Dhanuka and himself puts forth in para 2 that, “In this Writ Petition, the petitioners are seeking declaration under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India that the entire selection process pursuant to the advertisement dated 5th March, 2019 including short-listing of the candidates and their consequential appointments are illegal and bad in law and for setting aside these appointments with further directions to Respondent Nos.1 & 2 to conduct and complete the enquiry under Section 79A of the Maharashtra Co-operative Societies Act, 1960.”
While mentioning about the facts, the Bench then envisages in para 3 that, “The facts in a nutshell can be stated thus:
Respondent No.1 is the State of Maharashtra. Respondent No.2 is the Commissioner for Co-operation & Registrar, Cooperative Societies, Maharashtra State. Respondent No.3 is the District Deputy Registrar, Co-operative Societies (DDR), Sangli, who has the power of superintendence over Respondent No.4 Bank. Respondent No.4 is a Co-operative Bank registered under the provisions of the Maharashtra Co-operative Societies Act, 1960.”
To put things in perspective, the Bench then discloses in para 4 that, “The allegations made by the petitioners are that on 5th March, 2019, an advertisement for recruitment of 400 posts of Junior Clerk was published in “Daily Sakal”. The conducting of the examination and selection of candidates was outsourced to respondent No.5 Maharashtra Institute of Hardware & Software Technology Private Limited, Amravati (MIHST Pvt. Ltd.). The petitioners also applied for the post of Junior Clerk. Accordingly examination was conducted by MIHST Pvt. Ltd. on 14th September, 2019 and 15th September, 2019. The said examination was conducted on line in two parts. First part of the examination was held on 14th September, 2019 and second part was held on 15th September, 2019. 5609 candidates had appeared for the said online examination. On 26th October, 2019, MIHST Pvt. Ltd. declared the result of the said on-line examination.”
As it turned out, the Bench then states in para 5 that, “According to the petitioners, 1251 candidates were declared qualified for the interview. The interview was conducted between 30th October, 2019 and 11th November, 2019 in the office of respondent No.4 Bank. Final result was declared on 18th November, 2019. According to the petitioners, there were several illegalities in the conduct of examination and interview. Therefore, the petitioners raised their grievance before the District Collector, Sangli. It was their primary contention that the recruitment process was carried out in violation of the guidelines issued by respondent No.1. For enquiring into the allegations made by the petitioners, the DDR (respondent No.3) was appointed as an enquiry officer. The DDR submitted his report to the District Collector, Sangli on 31st December, 2019. According to the DDR the recruitment process was conducted in accordance with the guidelines. The petitioners have, therefore, filed this Writ Petition seeking redressal of their grievances.”
As we see, the Bench then reveals in para 6 that, “Respondent No.5 MIHST Pvt. Ltd. filed its reply on 23rd March, 2022. Respondent No.5 admitted that the job of conducting examination was outsourced to it by respondent No.4 Bank. It has contended that examination was conducted on 14th September, 2019 and 15th September, 2019 in accordance with the existing guidelines. It has, therefore, prayed for the dismissal of the Petition.”
To be sure, the Bench then aptly states in para 7 that, “The petitioners filed a rejoinder on 29th March, 2022. It is contended that the candidate, namely, Dipali Jagannathrao Mane (Roll No.501577) was declared ineligible as she had secured 75 marks. However, she was called for the interview and was not only selected for the post of Junior Assistant but also was confirmed. This sole instance itself is indicative of the fact that the selection process smacks of malafide.”
Needless to say, the Bench then notes in para 16 that, “The first and foremost issue that needs consideration is the maintainability of the Petition. Learned Counsel Shri.Ugle for the petitioners submitted that respondent No.4 is an instrumentality of the State Government as the State Government has financial and administrative control over the affairs of respondent No.4 Bank.”
Simply put, the Bench then observes in para 20 that, “Shri Ugle learned Counsel for the petitioners could not point out any provision indicating that though respondent No.4 is a private institution, respondent No.4 is an instrumentality of the Government and the Government exercises control over it. None of the parameters enumerated by the Supreme Court in the above judgments get attracted so as to make respondent No.4 an instrumentality of the State. Therefore, Respondent No.4 cannot be considered as an instrumentality of the State, by virtue of which writ cannot be issued against respondent No.4.”
Quite rightly, the Bench mentions in para 21 that, “Even if it is assumed for the sake of argument that respondent No.4 is the State within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution, still the petitioners cannot succeed.”
Most notably, the Division Bench then very rightly articulates in para 22 holding that, “It is not in dispute that the petitioners had participated in the interview. They preferred this Writ Petition and raised objections about violations of the guidelines only after they were not selected for the post of Junior Clerk. It is well settled that a candidate who is called for the interview and takes part in the interview, cannot turn around and pick holes and contend that the selection process was conducted in violation of the guidelines. If the petitioners were aggrieved because of the violations of the guidelines, they ought to have raised their grievance before appearing for the interview. They did not do so. They appeared for the interview and only after they were not selected, they preferred this Writ Petition.”
Be it noted, the Bench then points out in para 23 that, “Learned counsel Shir Mankapure relied on the case of Madan Lal and others Vs. State of J & K and others (1995) 3 SCC 486. In the case of Madan Lal (supra), the facts were almost identical. The candidates in that case were declared to be eligible for oral interview. After getting rejected in that interview, they challenged the selection process. The Supreme Court held thus :
“9. Before dealing with this contention, we must keep in view the salient fact that the petitioners as well as the contesting successful candidates being respondents concerned herein, were all found eligible in the light of marks obtained in the written test, to be eligible to be called for oral interview. Up to this stage there is no dispute between the parties. The petitioners also appeared at the oral interview conducted by the Members concerned of the Commission who interviewed the petitioners as well as the contesting respondents concerned. Thus the petitioners took a chance to get themselves selected at the said oral interview. Only because they did not find themselves to have emerged successful as a result of their combined performance both at written test and oral interview, they have filed this petition. It is now well settled that if a candidate takes a calculated chance and appears at the interview then, only because the result of the interview is not palatable to him, he cannot turn round and subsequently contend that the process of interview was unfair or the Selection Committee was not properly constituted. In the case of Om Prakash Shukla v. Akhilesh Kumar Shukla : 1986 Supp SCC 285, it has been clearly laid down by a Bench of three learned Judges of this Court that when the petitioner appeared at the examination without protest and when he found that he would not succeed in examination he filed a petition challenging the said examination, the High Court should not have granted any relief to such a petitioner.””
While continuing in a similar vein, the Division Bench then states in para 24 that, “Similar observations are found in the case of Ramesh Chandra Shah and others Vs. Anil Joshi and others (2013) 11 SCC 309. The Supreme Court held thus :
“17. Those who were desirous of competing for the post of Physiotherapist, which is a Group ‘C’ post in the State of Uttarakhand must have, after reading the advertisement, become aware of the fact that by virtue of the Office Memorandum dated 3.8.2010, the Board has been designated as the recruiting agency and the selection will be made in accordance with the provisions of the General Rules. They appeared in the written test knowing that they will have to pass the examination enumerated in Para 11 of the advertisement. If they had cleared the test, the private Respondents would not have raised any objection to the selection procedure or the methodology adopted by the Board. They made a grievance only after they found that their names do not figure in the list of successful candidates. In other words, they took a chance to be selected in the test conducted by the Board on the basis of the advertisement issued in November 2011. This conduct of the private respondents clearly disentitles them from seeking relief under Article 226 of the Constitution. To put it differently, by having appeared in the written test and taken a chance to be declared successful, the private respondents will be deemed to have waived their right to challenge the advertisement and the procedure of selection.
18. It is settled law that a person who consciously takes part in the process of selection cannot, thereafter, turn around and question the method of selection and its outcome.””
Most remarkably, the Bench then clearly states in para 25 that, “These two decisions of the Supreme Court unequivocally reveal that a candidate who is declared eligible for the interview, and appears for the interview, cannot complain of the alleged violations in the selection process. Even if it is assumed for the sake of argument that the answer-key was not published before declaration of the final result, it is not such a grave violation which would render the entire selection process illegal. At the most, it can be said to be an irregularity and not an illegality. Therefore, we do not find any substance in this contention of the petitioners.”
Most pragmatically, the Bench then mandates in para 26 that, “We are not inclined to exercise writ jurisdiction in this matter for one more reason. Parties are at dispute whether answer key was published before the interview or after the holding of the interview. They are also at dispute whether merit list/waiting list was published before the interview. These are questions of fact which cannot be gone into in the petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.”
It is worth noting that the Division Bench then most forthrightly holds in para 27 that, “Another limb of argument of learned counsel for the petitioners was that Dipali Jagannathrao Mane was declared unsuccessful in the written test, but, she was still called for the interview, appointed and was confirmed too. It is pertinent to note that the petitioners had appeared for the post of “Junior Clerk” and said Dipali Jagannathrao Mane had appeared for the post of “Junior Assistant”. The petitioners have no locus to challenge the selection process of the post for which they had not applied and, therefore, this argument deserves outright rejection.”
Finally, the Bench then concludes by holding in para 28 that, “For the reasons discussed hereinabove, writ cannot be issued against respondent No.4. The Petition is, therefore, devoid of any substance. We, therefore, dismiss the Writ Petition with costs of Rs.10,000/-. Costs shall be deposited with the Legal Services Authority of this Court. Rule stands discharged.”
All discussed, we thus see that the Bombay High Court in this learned judgment has made it manifestly clear that the candidate cannot complain of alleged violations in the selection process after appearing for interview. In other words, the Court has vindicated the age old famous dictum that, “You cannot have the cake and eat it too.” Very rightly so!
The petitioners also appeared at the oral interview conducted by the Members concerned of the Commission who interviewed the petitioners as well as the contesting respondents concerned. Thus the petitioners took a chance to get themselves selected at the said oral interview. Only because they did not find themselves to have emerged successful as a result of their combined performance both at written test and oral interview, they have filed this petition. It is now well settled that if a candidate takes a calculated chance and appears at the interview then, only because the result of the interview is not palatable to him, he cannot turn round and subsequently contend that the process of interview was unfair or the Selection Committee was not properly constituted. In the case of Om Prakash Shukla v. Akhilesh Kumar Shukla : 1986 Supp SCC 285, it has been clearly laid down by a Bench of three learned Judges of this Court that when the petitioner appeared at the examination without protest and when he found that he would not succeed in examination he filed a petition challenging the said examination, the High Court should not have granted any relief to such a petitioner.
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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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