Constitutional Lokpal gets Cabinet clearance

After two days of intense drafting by a group of ministers and officials, the new draft of the Lokpal Bill along with the Constitution (Amendment) Bill was cleared at a special Cabinet meeting that lasted 70 minutes. The bill will be introduced in Lok Sabha on Thursday and the existing one, introduced in August, would be withdrawn

New Delhi: The Cabinet late Tuesday approved a historic bill for creation a Lokpal with Constitutional status that will have no control over Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) but brings within its purview the prime minister with a number of safeguards, reports PTI.

Not succumbing to Anna Hazare’s demand for inclusion of CBI under Lokpal, the government also decided against hiving off of the prosecution wing of the CBI.

After two days of intense drafting by a group of ministers and officials, the new draft of the Lokpal Bill along with the Constitution (Amendment) Bill was cleared at a special Cabinet meeting that lasted 70 minutes.

The bill will be introduced in Lok Sabha on Thursday and the existing one, introduced in August, would be withdrawn.

The Lokpal will be a nine-member body, whose chairman will be selected by a four-member panel consisting of prime minister, Lok Sabha speaker, leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha and Chief Justice of India or his nominee from among the Supreme Court judges, sources told PTI.

The bill provides for the prime minister to be brought under the purview of the Lokpal with certain safeguards that keep out aspects like international relations, public order, atomic energy, space, internal and external security from inquiry.

Probe on any complaint against the prime minister will be decided by the full bench, of which at least three-fourth should agree. The probe will be in-camera and if a complaint is dismissed, the records on it should not be made public.

Though the Lokpal will have no control over CBI, a demand strongly pursued by Mr Hazare, an important provision has been added under which the CBI director will be selected by a committee of the prime minister, leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha and Chief Justice of India or a Supreme Court judge, they said.

Another major demand of the Team Anna which has not be accepted relates to inclusion of Group ‘C’ employees under the Lokpal.

They will be out of direct ambit of Lokpal but under the supervision of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), which will have to report to the Lokpal.

The Lokpal will have superintendence over the cases referred to CBI by the anti-graft ombudsman.

The watchdog will have the powers to carry out preliminary inquiry to be headed by a ‘Director of Inquiry’ and will have a prosecution wing under a director.

Appointment of SPs and above in CBI will be done by a committee consisting of CVC, vigilance commissioners, home secretary and secretary, DoPT.

The Lokpal cannot initiate any inquiry suo motu and a complaint will be required.

The inquiry wing will be headed by a director for preliminary inquiry. The Lokpal can also ask the CBI to conduct the preliminary inquiry, which should be completed within 180 days.

Ideally, the preliminary inquiry should be completed within 90 days and extension if necessary should be sought in writing.

In the cases referred to the CBI, the investigating agency will submit report to Lokpal. At least three members of the Lokpal bench will go through the report to decide whether to file a charge-sheet or a closure report or to recommend a departmental inquiry.

If a charge-sheet is filed, the prosecution wing of Lokpal will initiate proceedings in a special court.

No sanction or approval of any authority will be required under directions of Lokpal.

Departing from the original bill, the government has now proposed 50% reservation for SC/ST, OBCs, minorities and women in the Lokpal bench and in the search committee.

Half of the bench would be members from judicial background.

It will have a five-year term and its chairman or a member can be impeached only after at least 100 MPs make a representation.

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RBI penalises 19 banks for flouting derivative norms: Govt

The RBI had imposed penalties on 19 commercial banks for contravention of various instructions issued by the central bank in respect of derivatives such as failure to carry out due diligence in regard to suitability of products and selling derivatives products to users not having risk management policies

New Delhi: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has imposed penalties on 19 commercial banks, including SBI, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and Citibank, for violating norms on derivatives, reports PTI.

The RBI has informed that it had imposed penalties on 19 commercial banks on 26 April 2011, for contravention of various instructions issued by RBI in respect of derivatives such as failure to carryout due diligence in regard to suitability of products and selling derivatives products to users not having risk management policies, minister of state for finance Namo Narain Meena said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha.

RBI has issued show-cause notices to banks. In response to this, banks submitted their written replies, he said.

“On a careful examination of the banks’ written replies and the oral submissions made during the personal hearings, the RBI found that the violations were established and the penalties were thus imposed,” he said.

While a fine of Rs15 lakh each was slapped on Axis Bank, Barclays, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Kotak Mahindra and Yes Bank, Rs10 lakh each was imposed on Citibank, BNP Paribas, SBI, Credit Agricole -CIB, Development Credit Bank, ING Vysya Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland and Standard Chartered Bank, he said.

Besides, a fine of Rs5 lakh each was slapped on Bank of America, DBS Bank, Deutsche Bank, HSBC and J P Morgan Chase Bank, he added.

Mr Meena also said that RBI has informed that the estimated loss of Rs33,000 crore in the foreign exchange derivative transaction may not be the actual losses but the gross Market to Market (MTM) gains or losses to the customers.

MTM gains or losses are basically an accounting concept wherein the financial institutions would record the value of outstanding financial contracts at fair value while preparing financial statements, he added.

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The weekly haat way to reducing expenses

 If you are looking at reducing your household budgets and at the same time interested in learning more on how the direct to seller with minimal middle-men concept works in India, then attend your friendly neighbourhood ‘haat’ or weekly market regularly

The FDI in retail or not debate continues, with most of the action being taken up for big and for small debates, while reality is that the smallest on the ground, the weekly ‘haats’ which are India’s equivalents of the “farmer's markets” elsewhere in the world, are rapidly gaining ground in an era of better roads, smaller trucks and mobile phone-based supply chains. A visit to one such weekly ‘haat’ just opposite Noida’s upscale and swanky Sector 50 and not far from the tony Noida Golf Course revealed prices at easily half or even lower than the going levels for everything from food items of all sorts to footwear both new and repaired to new and second hand electronic items.

More interestingly, the wide variety of upscale  luxury motor vehicles parked in the vicinity and the familiarity that their occupants revealed with the merchants and their wares spread out on most everything from durries on the ground to hand-carts up front with mini-trucks as back-ends for more variety, was a revelation in itself. Frankly, there was hardly anything not available there which is not also found at prices way higher in Delhi - from foei gras to FabIndia knockoffs - all ostensibly from the same vendors who supply the bigger stores in town. Armani meets AR Mani, in a manner of speaking.

This is hardly rocket science or news anymore, but there is a generation of people who believed that the world began and ended in malls, who are now picking up brand new silk waistcoats otherwise retailing for Rs1,500 at about Rs300 and loading up on potatoes at Rs10 for 3-kg pre-packed paper bags is a sizeable saving on budgets. This is right next to the stack on the ground selling denim trousers in all sizes for Rs50 and upwards. And there is no dearth of newspaper ads and inserts of prices prevailing for the same items at bigger stores, for direct comparisons. Also, in one section, are vendors who will buy your scrap and ‘kabaddee’ at way higher rates than the gent going past your house on a cycle.

But then, it is not only about prices, either, though bargaining is an art form which also expands one’s forgotten humour horizons. The sheer range of knowledge that these sales persons display, micro-mini entrepreneurs, all is mind-boggling, and the rapid fire comments on how much customers can pick up for less than the cost of parking in a mall is sure to hit the correct spot—on weekends, parking rates at many of the malls have now gone into three-digit numbers, and perception is that if you go there in a smaller car, then you get a parking slot far away from the access points in the dingiest corner of the basement parking lots—while here you walk across or bring out the cycle for better deals, dressed in your pyjamas if you so desire.

There is the young man selling freshly ground ‘atta’ of all sorts and combinations, coarse and other grains mixed with everything from soya to dried vegetables and more, holding forth confidently on the subject of gluten free and why the older coarse grains are better for us in India. And giving small combo sample packs of different mixes good enough to make a dozen or more rotis for the impulse purchase price of Rs10. In reasonably decent English, the young man explains to potential customers how he sells these sample packs “at cost”, also because they have his mobile number and mini calendar inside for future, repeat and regular home delivery. And that he cares for people with diabetes, too.

Not too far is the young lady, confident that the world will be saved from lacto intolerance and much more with her range of tofu, again, the small Rs10 sample bag is an ice breaker. Here the story is on how intelligence as well as strength for adults is directly linked to the benefits from soya-based products, while milk is good too, but only for growing children. Does any adult animal drink milk is what she states and asks—and that’s logic which is unbeatable, probably has some scientific significance somewhere, too.

The dhaniya-pudhina-fresh lime-fresh chillies seller has his own pitch going—offering a small bag of free potatoes with his wares, with a ditty about changing times, to the effect that how his stuff used to be free with vegetables at one time, but is now soon going to offer free vegetables with his repertoire, so buy before the prices go up. Prod him further, and he reveals that in the back of his truck, he stores fresh herbs for those who know what they want—keeping it there to reduce spoilage by handling.

To add to the colour and fun, major MNC brands as well as multi-level-marketing products of the branded and packed variety of consumer goods are also available—often at prices below the “best deal” rates advertised by shops in the neighbourhood.  As a matter of fact, pretty much everything that can be bought in a mainstream market or mall, is also available here—and if is not, they will offer to source it for you and deliver it to your home. There is the usual slew of “Chinese goods" too, of the glassware and electronic gadgetry kind, even spices from Pakistan and Afghanistan, reportedly picked up in bulk from the recent trade fair.

If you are looking at reducing your household budgets and at the same time interested in learning more on how the direct to seller with minimal middle-men concept works in India, then attend your friendly neighbourhood ‘haat’ or weekly market regularly. You don't have to buy, pavement-watching in lieu of window shopping is a well recognised sport here, and repeat visits will make you a regular with other benefits—including free sampling of products.

There are, of course, some caveats here which need to be made very clear:

  • Bargaining is essential. If you do not know how to bargain, then hang around, tune in, identify and follow the experts around.
  • Invest in a small portable weighing machine, with which you can re-confirm the weight of what you are buying.
  • The issue of fakes in branded goods is as worrisome at regular outlets as it is at such locations.
  • A good way of firming up a local warranty is by taking a photo of the vendor and his goods.
  • Going for the first time with somebody who knows the market is a good idea.
  • The later you go, the cheaper the prices for perishables, although the best may have been sold by then.
  • You are not going to get a cash receipt for things, now will your plastic work here.
  • Like in the real world, you will rub shoulders with all segments of society, and the single class Delhi Metro has fixed that.
  • If in doubt, be direct about your queries, and decide on the response’s genuineness on your own.

Reducing expenditure is now a fact of life, across the board, and the haats take some of the bite away. Good luck.

 

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COMMENTS

p k

5 years ago

i wonder if any such HAAT is there in Pune?

Prakash Bhate

5 years ago

FDI in retail will not be able to stop these weekly haats; in fact, such haats despite the fierce bargaining, shortchanging in weights, cash transactions only, price fluctuations as the day proceeds, mud and slush during monsoons will give the retailers, local or foreign, a run for their money. Those opposing FDI in retail are either scared and have no confidence in the abilities of Indian people or have vested interests or are just opposing for the sake of opposing. It is high time that consumers get a level playing field.

Arun Iyer

5 years ago

Very nice article.
This is the real Bharat; and the need of the day.

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