Citizens' Issues
Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Madan Mohan Malviya to be conferred Bharat Ratnas

At 90, Ex-PM Vajpayee and the late freedom fighter Madan Mohan Malviya will be conferred the Bharat Ratna

 

The President's secretariat said today that former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and former freedom fighter and educationist Madan Mohan Malviya would be conferred the prestigious Bharat ratna, India's highest civilian honour. 
 
The announcement comes a day before both awardees shared birthdays on 25 December. 
Atal Bihari Vajpayee being conferred the award gained support and praise from all quarters for his role in leading the nation and making an indelible mark on the India polity.
 
Vajpayee served 9 terms in the Lok Sabha and two in the Rajya Sabha, He was one of the founding members of the Bharatiya Jan Sangh, some members of which went on to set up the Bharatiya Janata Party. He served as the External Affairs Minister in the Morarji Desai Cabinet and held two terms as Prime Minister, first in 1996 and again from 1998 to 2004, which included the time of the Kargil war.
 
The late Madan Mohan Malviya was an important figure in the freedom struggle and a noted educationist with great influence on Indian cultural life. 
 
Malviya held the office of the President of the Indian National Congress for two terms. He was one of the early leaders of the Hindu Mahasabha and set up one of the largest educational institutes in India, the Banaras Hindu University.
 

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Foreigners dump emerging market debt but buy Indian debt

Bond yields of emerging markets have jumped by 150 basis points on the back of a huge sell-off from foreign investors. But they continue to pour money into Indian debt

 

The last few weeks have witnessed one of the worst sell-offs in emerging market debt since the financial crisis of 2008, foreigners dumped emerging market debt for a variety of reasons. But in an interesting case of decoupling, foreigners continued to pour money into the Indian debt market. 
 
As oil prices tumbled, debt of emerging market countries, whose economies and finances are most dependent on oil exports, began underperforming. Crude oil dropped 48% since June, to about $55 a barrel, squeezing exporters from Venezuela to Russia and Nigeria. Venezuelan sovereign US dollar debt fell by more than 10% in November, pushing yields to over 20%. Russia’s U.S. dollar debt was down 2.6%. Ukraine’s government bonds slid 10% in November. However, there has been no impact on Indian debt and foreign investors were net buyers. In fact, thank to rapidly declining inflation, yields too have dropped significantly from the highs seen last year.
 
To control attract inflow and stem the outflows, the Central Bank of Brazil raised the benchmark interest rate by half a point to 11.75% on December 3 amid high inflation, low economic growth and a falling currency. Central Bank of Russia hiked its benchmark one-week repo rate from 10.5% to 17%, effective December 16.
 
In fact, the yield spread between high grade emerging markets and US AAA-rated corporate debt has jumped, almost doubling in less than three weeks to the highest level since mid-2012. A few analysts suspect some signs of trouble in certain emerging markets.
 
The EM bond market has also been under selling pressure based on the stand taken by the US Federal Reserve, that they may increase rates sooner than expected, even though they stressed patience. The Fed is possibly laying the ground for its first interest rate increase since 2006, threatening to reverse the capital inflows into developing nations.
 

Foreigners had panicked about a rate hike and its impact on emerging markets in the middle of 2013, when over two months they had sold off Rs44,000 crore of Indian debt. But once the government appointed Raghuram Rajan as the RBI governor and the rupee stabilised, they have been net buyers all through.

 

India seems to be immune from such worries of a rate hike this time. In fact, with easing inflation, the Reserve Bank is expected to cut interest rates from the prevailing 8%. Foreign investors purchased nearly Rs1.53 lakh crore of Indian debt over the past one year. Indian mutual funds, over the same period have purchased Rs6.21 lakh crore of Indian debt.
 
The Indian 10-year benchmark yield which was trading above 9% in April 2014, is now trading a little over a 100 basis point lower at around 7.93%.

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Bombay HC rejects Railways proposal to levy cess for medical services

Samir Zaveri, who had filed the PIL, told the court that annual income of the suburban Railways was Rs1,824 crore, while expenditure was Rs1,624 leaving a balance of Rs200 crore as surplus

 

The Bombay High Court has rejected the proposal of Central and Western Railways to levy cess on Mumbai suburban commuters for funding emergency medical centres at stations. The HC said it is the statutory obligation of the authorities under the Constitution to provide such service. 
 
Suresh Kumar, Railway Counsel, informed a bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka that the authorities were proposing to levy a cess on monthly season ticket holders for such services. 
 
The Bench, while hearing a petition filed by railway and RTI activist Samir Zaveri, rejected the proposal saying that the Railways were under the obligation to provide emergency medical services free of cost to the commuters. Even the Constitution gave a right to the citizens to enjoy the right to safety, the bench ruled. 
 
While the Railways pleaded that their expenditure exceeded income and hence a levy was proposed, the petitioner, Zaveri, who himself lost both his legs in an accident, argued that suburban Railways were making a profit. 
 
Zaveri said he had learnt through an RTI that the annual income of the suburban Railways was to the tune of Rs1,824 crore, while the expenditure was Rs1,624 leaving a balance of Rs200 crore as surplus. 
 
The court also ordered the Railways to provide Emergency Medical Rooms at all the stations as soon as possible. 
 
The Railways informed that at big stations, where the accidents have numbered more than 100 in the recent months, emergency medical rooms would be set up in three months and at other stations they would come up in the next six months. 
 
The bench, however, asked the Railways to provide such services at the earliest. 
 
The court directed the Maharashtra Government to provide cardiac care unit to the ambulances stationed at the railway stations to carry accident victims to hospitals in emergency. 
 
"In keeping with the court orders, the Railways have to provide at their own cost an emergency medical room equipped with a bed, doctor and a nurse at every station and also keep ambulance as stand by to shift injured to hospitals in case of accidents," said the bench.
 
After a trauma centre was set up at Dadar railway station on the orders of the court, the HC in March 2013 ordered the Railways to consider setting up such rooms at other major stations — Churchgate, Mumbai Central, Bandra, Andheri, Borivli, Vasai, Palghar, Kurla, Thane, Dombivli, Kalyan, Karjat, Wadala, Vashi and Panvel — which had seen over a 100 accidents in the previous year. 
 
Hundreds of people die every year on city's suburban railway system after falling from overcrowded trains and crossing the tracks, the PIL said and sought medical facilities for accident victims in the "golden hour" (within one hour of the accident).
 
According to railway police statistics, about 3,600 people die and over 4,000 are injured every year, with activists blaming overcrowding and the lackadaisical attitude of railway authorities for the mishaps. 
 
Moneylife Foundation has set up the Samir Zaveri Railway Helpline that provides email assistance to all commuters. 
 

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COMMENTS

Reena

2 years ago

Great Work (Seva to society)

Narendra Doshi

2 years ago

Dear Samir,
Well deserved act acomplished. I am sure your continuous zeal will ensure implementation in the not too distant.Kudos once again.

V K JAIN

2 years ago

My heartfelt gratitude and appreciation for your PIL and rest of the services provided by you Shri Samir.

Virendra Jain

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