Citizens' Issues
Human trafficking: NHRC seeks report on placement agencies

The Commission took suo motu cognisance of a media report that claimed surging demand for domestic help in Delhi is fuelling a business that thrives on human trafficking by unregulated placement agencies


The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Thursday asked Delhi Police to submit a report about placement agencies working in the national capital on allegations over their involvement in human trafficking.
According to an official statement, the Commission has issued a notice to the Delhi Police Commissioner to respond within two weeks with a report on the number of placement agencies, registered or unregistered, functioning in Delhi and the steps taken to keep a check on them.
The step was taken after the Commission took suo motu cognisance of a media report surging demand for domestic help in Delhi is fuelling a business that thrives on human trafficking by unregulated placement agencies. Hundreds of agencies are reportedly involved in the business of selling domestic workers.
There are allegations that the root cause of exploitation of tribal people, mostly women and children and those hailing from rural areas is that there is no hold on the placement agencies, which have emerged as the hubs and transit point for human trafficking.
The Commission has observed that the contents of the press report, if true, raise a serious issue of violation of human rights of women and children.


India bans ISIS under Unlawful Activities Act

ISIS had already been declared banned in India under a UN Schedule. The recruitment of youths from India and their radicalisation in ISIS is a matter of serious concern for the country


India on Thursday decided to ban terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and all its affiliate organisations under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The terrorist group is responsible for series of savage attacks and killings in Iraq and Syria.
In a notification, the Home Ministry, said, "Recruitment of youths to the outfit from India and their radicalisation is a matter of serious concern for the country especially with regard to its likely impact on national security when such youth return to India."
Recently, retired chief of Intelligence Bureau (IB) Asif Ibrahim had said there was an imminent danger of Indian youths moving to the conflict zone (Iraq-Syria), emerging as a role model, and such developments may directly or indirectly pose a threat to the country. “The threat potential is accentuated with some lower rung elements returning from conflict zone,” he had said.
It must be noted four Mumbai youths had gone to Iraq-Syria in May 2014 to join ISIS. One of them returned late last year while the whereabouts of the remaining three are yet to be known.
A Bangalore-based executive of a multi-national company was arrested in December last year for allegedly running a pro-ISIS twitter handle.
Last month, another person from Hyderabad was barred from travelling to Syria, ostensibly to join ISIS.
The Islamic State/Islamic State of Iraq and Levant/ Islamic State of Iraq and Syria/Daish and all its manifestations have been declared as outlawed in India under UAPA, a notification issued by the Ministry said.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh had said in Parliament on 16 December 2014 that the West Asian group had already been declared banned in India under a United Nations (UN) Schedule.
According to the latest notification, the outfit is operating in Iraq and neighbouring countries and has been resorting to terrorist actions to consolidate its position in that area by recruiting youth for ‘Global Jehad’ to achieve the objective of establishing its own ‘caliphate’ by overthrowing democratically elected governments.
The group is also resorting to terrorism in the form of killing of innocent civilians and security forces and the central government believes that the Islamic State/Islamic State of Iraq and Levant/Islamic State of Iraq and Syria/Daish is involved in radicalisation and recruitment of vulnerable youth from various countries including India.
Singh had said the group has been proscribed under the provisions related to organisations listed in the Schedule to the UN Prevention and Suppression of Terrorism (Implementation of Security Council Resolutions) Order, 2007 made under section two of the United Nations (Security Council) Act, 1947.


Rail Budget: No fare hike, Prabhu defines 9 areas of thrust
Suresh Prabhu, presenting his first Railway Budget, refrained from populist measures like announcing new trains. Although there is no increase in passenger fare, freight rates for coal, cement, iron, and steel have been increased
While keeping subsidised passenger fares unchanged, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Thursday increased freight rates for transportation of coal, cement, iron, and steel in his Rail Budget for 2015-16. Interestingly, unlike his predecessors, Prabhu refrained from announcing any new train, but assured members of Parliament (MPs) that he would review their requests before announcing any new train.
The Railway Minister, presenting a full Rail Budget for the Narendra Modi government also announced several facilities for passengers like mobile app for complaints, water vending machines at major stations, CCTVs cameras in some long-distance trains and EMUs. For safety of women, cameras will be provided in selected mainline coaches and ladies compartments in suburban local trains, without affecting their privacy, Prabhu said. 
Except for high-speed diesel, freight rates were hiked for LPG, kerosene, iron and steel, cement, urea and coal. Freight rate for high-speed diesel was lowered by 1% while for LPG, kerosene, iron and steel it was hiked by 0.8%, for cement 2.7%, for urea 10% and for 6.3%.
The Railway Minister’s action plan hinges on four goals, five drivers, and nine thrust areas that he spelled out in his Budget speech. Railways seeks resource mobilization for higher investment, decongestion of heavy haul routes and speeding of trains and project delivery, better passenger amenities and safety, and to make railways a preferred mode of transport for masses, Prabhu said. 
The four goals envisaged in the five-year period by Prabhu includes, improving customers experience, making rail safer for travel, modernising rail infrastructure, and making railway financially sustainable. He also said that the railways would reach out for multilateral development institutions, long-term pension funds for raising resources in the next five years.
Prabhu also announced plans to set up a Transport Logistics Corp of India that would cater to the logistics need of Railways.
To achieve the four goals, the Railway Ministry will work on five key drivers of action – adopting a medium term perspective planning including a new White Paper; building partnerships with public sector units (PSUs) and funding agencies; Leveraging funding opportunities including Pension Funds; revamping management practices and systems; and setting standards for governance and transparency, Prabhu added. Railways will also leverage additional resources and envisage an investment of Rs8.5 lakh crore in next five years, the Minister added.
In order to make travel on Indian Railways a happy experience, the Budget presented by Prabhu has given thrust on cleanliness, while proposing a new department for keeping stations and trains clean under Swachh Rail-Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. New toilets will be built at 650 additional stations; online booking of disposable bed rolls will be made available. 24X7 helpline number 138 and a toll-free number 182 for security related complaints have also been proposed by the Railway Minister in the budget.
Prabhu said, Travelling Ticket Examiners (TTEs) will be provided hand-held terminals for verification of passengers. A centrally managed Railway Display Network in over 2,000 stations in next two years will be included besides an “SMS Alert” service to inform passengers in advance of the updated arrival/departure time of trains at starting or destination stations, he added.
The Railway Minister said, under the Adarsh Station Scheme, 200 more stations would be included while B-category stations would provide wi-fi internet facility. Prabhu said, the Railways has approached the National Institute of Design to design user friendly ladders for climbing upper births. He also said there would be more lower berths for senior citizens. Besides, TTEs will now be instructed to help senior citizens, pregnant women and differently-abled persons in obtaining lower berths and middle bay of coaches would be reserved for women and senior citizen, the Minister added.
The Railway Minister said, 77 projects covering 9,400 kms of doubling, tripling and quadrupling works along with electrification, covering almost all States, at a cost of Rs96,182 crore will be taken up. To accelerate the pace of Railway electrification, 6,608 route kilometres will be sanctioned for 2015-16, an increase of 1,330% over the previous year.
Prabhu said, the speed of nine railway corridors will  be increased from existing 110 and 130 kmph to 160 and 200 kmph, respectively so that inter-metro journeys like Delhi-Kolkata and Delhi-Mumbai can be completed overnight. Average speed of freight trains in empty and loaded conditions, will be enhanced to 100 kmph for empty freight trains and 75 kmph for loaded trains.
Declaring safety of paramount importance for Railways, Prabhu out lined an action for accident prone areas. The Budget also proposes 970 ROB/RUBs and other safety-related works to eliminate 3,438 level crossings at a total expense of Rs6,581 crore, 26 times higher than the previous year. 
Prabhu, in his Budget for 2015-16 also proposed of constituting an innovation council called “Kayakalp” for business re-engineering and introducing a spirit of innovation in Railways besides setting up of Technology portal to invite innovative technological solutions. 

The Railway Minister also announced revamping of its public-private-partnership (PPP) cell to make it result oriented. 
According to Budget Estimates, Plan Outlay for 2015-16 has been proposed to Rs1,00,011 crore, an increase of 52% over RE 2014-15 plan size. Out of this 41.6% resources will come from Central Government support while 17.8 % will be generated from internal resources, Prabhu added.  



Anand Vaidya

2 years ago

"He also said there would be more lower births for senior citizens."


(Should be Berths, not Births)



In Reply to Anand Vaidya 2 years ago

Thanks for pointing out the mistake. Its corrected.


2 years ago

It is difficult to say anything about this budget except the Minister has not made any attempt to bring in the needed funds for new railway lines and electrification of existing railway routes running on diesel engines. The increase in tariff on freight rates will affect economic growth.

Narendra Doshi

2 years ago

Excellent Dream to be realized, step by step. Mr. Prabhuji, keep implementation. Good luck and best wishes.

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