Nation
Ethics panel recommends Mallya expulsion from Rajya Sabha
New Delhi : The Rajya Sabha ethics panel has recommended the expulsion of Vijay Mallya "with immediate effect" from the house after his resignation was rejected by Chairman Hamid Ansari.
 
"Having considered the whole matter, including Mallya's (resignation) letter, the Committee of Ethics unanimously decided at its meeting on May 3, 2016, to recommend to the house that Vijay Mallya be expelled with immediate effect," the panel said in its recommendation to the upper house.
 
The report was tabled in the house on Wednesday by panel chairman Karan Singh.
 
"The committee hopes that by taking such stern action, a message would reach the general public that parliament is committed to take such steps as are necessary against erring members to uphold the dignity and prestige of this great institution."
 
The house will now take a call on the recommendation before adopting or rejecting the committee report.
 
Mallya is accused of defaulting on more than Rs.9,000 crore in loans he had taken from a consortium of banks. He left India on March 2 and is believed to be in the United Kingdom. His passport has been revoked after he failed to appear for three consecutive summons by the Enforcement Directorate.
 
In an apparent attempt to pre-empt his expulsion, Mallya wrote to Chairman Ansari on Tuesday seeking to resign from the house because he did not want his "name and reputation to be further dragged in mud".
 
However, Ansari turned down the resignation on procedural grounds.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Land reforms fail, 5 percent of India’s farmers control 32 percent land
The average land given to the rural landless is small and falling, from 0.95 acres in 2002 to 0.88 acres in 2015 - a 7.4 percent drop over 13 years - and a slowdown is evident in the process of taking land away from rich landlords, the RTI data revealed
 
Why it is difficult to reverse more than half-a-century of land-reform failures?
 
 
Five facts, gleaned from the 2011-12 agricultural census and 2011 socio-economic caste census and this correspondent’s data, summarise the failure of India’s land reforms:
 
* No more than 4.9 percent of farmers control 32 percent of India’s farmland
 
* A “large” farmer in India has 45 times more land than the “marginal” farmer
 
* Four million people, or 56.4 percent of rural households, own no land
 
* Only 12.9 percent of land marked - the size of Gujarat - for takeover from landlords was taken over by December 2015
 
* Five million acres - half the size of Haryana - was given to 5.78 million poor farmers by December 2015
 
What has largely failed nationwide - with the exception of West Bengal - over 54 years since a land-redistribution law was passed is not likely to improve, according to data this correspondent received to a right-to-information (RTI) application filed with the Department of Land Resources of the Indian government’s Ministry of Rural Development.
 
The average land given to the rural landless is small and falling, from 0.95 acres in 2002 to 0.88 acres in 2015 - a 7.4 percent drop over 13 years - and a slowdown is evident in the process of taking land away from rich landlords, the RTI data revealed.
 
As of December 2015, land declared “surplus” (meaning, it could be taken away from landlords) across India stood at 6.7 million acres; the government took over 6.1 million acres; and distributed 5.1 million acres to 5.78 million people.
 
Similarly, the land declared surplus has fallen over the years. Between 1973 and 2002, an average of 150,000 acres was declared surplus, and an average of 140,000 acres was distributed every year. In contrast, between 2002 and 2015, the land declared surplus every year was 4,000 acres, while land in government possession and distributed declined by 29,000 acres and 24,000 acres per year, respectively
 
This means that there is less land declared surplus every year over the past 13 years and what was once a growing trend of government possession and distribution has reversed.
 
The slowdown and fluctuations in land-distribution data over the years are usually because of disputes over how much is to be taken away; courts restored some land to original owners; and some land was unfit for cultivation, according to a 2009 report from the Centre for Rural Studies, Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA), Mussoorie.
 
The surplus land under litigation increased by 23.4 percent, from 920,000 acres to 1.14 million acres between 2007 and 2009. Some states, such as Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat and Maharashtra, created land tribunals to quickly settle such cases.
 
Irrespective of the fluctuations, the land declared surplus, up to 2015, is 12.9 percent of the 51.9 million acres that should be taken away from landlords, the LBSNAA estimated as cited in the report of the Committee on State Agrarian Relations and Unfinished Task of Land Reforms from 2009. The land in government possession and land distributed is 11.7 percent and 9.8 percent, respectively of the 51.9 million acres that should be declared surplus.
 
Why land is important to further economic progress
 
As many as 570 million Indians, or 47.1 percent (including 6.7 percent in urban areas), still depend on agriculture, which contributes 15 percent to the GDP, according to a 2011-12 National Sample Survey Office 2011-12 report and 2011 census data.
 
South Korea and Taiwan - and Japan before them - implemented sweeping land reforms before transforming agriculture and moving their people to manufacturing, Jayati Ghosh, a professor at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University, wrote in a 1997 column for the Economic and Political Weekly. As agriculture’s importance diminished, agricultural productivity kept rising.
 
But as India tries to ramp up manufacturing-through programmes such as Make in India - the failure of land reforms may worsen rural poverty.
 
India has 101 million landless, equivalent to populations of Germany and Sri Lanka
 
West Bengal - land-reforms champion - gives rural landless area larger than Goa
 
The RTI response received by this correspondent revealed that West Bengal has outperformed other states.
 
It has declared the most land “surplus” (1.41 million acres, or nearly one-and-a-half times the area of Goa), and accounts for 21 percent of such land so declared nationwide.
 
West Bengal has taken possession of 1.32 million acres, 93.6 percent of land declared surplus statewide, and distributed 1.05 million acres, 79.8 percent of the land in the state’s possession.
 
West Bengal also accounts for more than half (54.2 percent) of India’s land-reform beneficiaries. As many as 3.14 million of the rural landless got free land over 60 years.
 
The Draft National Land Reforms Policy has credited West Bengal, Kerala and Jammu and Kashmir for having performed best in surplus land distribution.
 
Jammu and Kashmir is the worst performer, according to data from the RTI reply, which is also riddled with inaccuracies.
 
The draft National Land Reforms Policy, prepared in 2013, suggests policy correctives:
 
* Stopping land-holding exemptions to religious, educational, charitable, research and industrial organisations beyond 15 acres
 
* Allowing smaller land-holdings in states where the existing limit is more than five to 10 acres for irrigated land and 10 to 15 acres for non-irrigated land
 
* A “single-window” to redistribute surplus land within a specified time
 
* A crackdown on benami - in someone else’s name - land
 
* A database of land inventories available for public scrutiny
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Parliamentary panel had rapped Mallya's UB 4 decades ago for illegally importing hops
Enquiries reveal that after more than four decades, no action was taken against anyone, in spite of the strongly-worded report. Only the Quarantine Act was amended to prevent such frauds.
 
New Delhi : The UB Group of liquor baron Vijay Mallya, who is on the verge of being expelled from the Rajya Sabha after defaulting on debts of Rs.9,000 crore to Indian banks, was sharply rapped by a parliamentary panel four decades ago for trying to illegally import Australian hops that would have played havoc with the country's agriculture, a reply to an RTI querry by IANS has revealed.
 
"How a private brewery could get clearance from both the Ministries of Commerce and Agriculture and DGTD and make a daring attempt to smuggle in, in a way, infested hop cuttings by air without the necessary permits from the Directorate of Plant Protection, Quarantine and Storage is a matter which calls for a thorough investigation with a view to fixing individual responsibility. The matter should be referred to Central Vigilance Commission," the Public Accounts Committee said in its 136th report on Feb 25, 1975.
 
The report, however, was never made public.
 
Enquiries reveal that after more than four decades, no action was taken against anyone, in spite of the strongly-worded report. Only the Quarantine Act was amended to prevent such frauds.
 
The committee, headed by Lok Sabha MP from West Bengal Jyotirmoy Basu of the CPI-M, was informed by the finance ministry that a consignment of hop plant root cuttings (12,000 numbers) packed in six cases was off-loaded at the Palam Airport on May 19, 1974 from an Air India plane. After examination, the consignment was destroyed. Hop plants are used to add flavour and improve beer quality.
 
The consignment was imported by United Breweries Ltd which at that time was headed by Mallya's father, Vittal Mallya. 
 
The committee had taken cognizance of a news item that the import of worm-infested hop plants posed a threat to the Indian farming. It had also examined the representatives of the ministries of commerce and agriculture (Directorate of Plant Protection, Quarantine and Storage). The report is, however, silent on why exactly the plants were sought to be imported.
 
The PAC observed that the case had thoroughly exposed the ineffectiveness of the age-old and outdated legislation and the governmental machinery and the loopholes in the regulatory measures promulgated by the Indian government from time to time to prevent the import of infested plants which constitute a great potential hazard.
 
The report further said the panel was "informed that the government of India is examining the question of imposition of penalties in respect of the transaction of import of hop plants in contravention of the provisions of the Destructive Insects and Pests (DIP) Act and that they are also examining the need for a comprehensive revision of the DIP Act."
 
The committee was also informed that the India had written to the Australia pointing out that the consignment in question was not accompanied by certificate saying it was free from injurious diseases.
 
Vijay Mallya's passport was revoked earlier after he ignored at least three summons from the Enforcement Directorate for a probe into his Rs.9,000 crore default. now in the United Kingdom, the industrialist says he has been forced into exile.
 
A parliamentary ethics panel on Wednesday recommended that Mallya's Rajya Sabha membership be revoked with immediate effect. His term was to end in May.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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