During the year ended June 2012, the World Bank Group extended loans of $3.2 billion for various projects, including the national mission clean Ganga project
The World Bank on Wednesday assured India of funds to the tune of $3-$5 billion every year for the next four years to assist development projects and poverty eradication programmes.
“The World Bank Group would work towards continuing its level of annual assistance of $3- $5 billion to India over the next four years,” World Bank president Jim Yong Kim told reporters.
During the year ended June 2012, the World Bank Group extended loans of $3.2 billion for various projects, including the national mission clean Ganga project.
Kim, who is on a three-day visit to India for the first time after taking over as president last year, said that the Bank will complement its enhanced financial lending with technical assistance and knowledge services to help India improve implementation of its development programmes.
Asked whether the World Bank plans to close the International Development Association (IDA) soft loans window for India as it has become a middle-income country, he said: “We are in the middle of discussions right now about our IDA strategy ... we are going to be as creative as possible to maintain our commitment to India at very high levels.”
“The bank is concerned about the poor, and about 400 million people live in India,” Kim said.
“We hope, especially working through IFC, $3-$5 billion can leverage many more billions for investment in India. We believe that India is a good investment and we will deepen our engagement as much as we can use every bit of flexibility and creativity to get there,” he added.
Kim said that India has the potential of achieving a higher growth than 6% projected for the next fiscal.
Bergoglio is the first Jesuit first Latin American to become pope and is believed to have been the runner-up in 2005
Argentinean Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected Pope Francis I on Wednesday, becoming the Roman Catholic church’s first Latin American pontiff after a conclave to elect a leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.
The 76-year-old conservative emerged from the balcony of St Peter’s Basilica to the cry of “Habemus Papam!” (“We Have a Pope!”), as tens of thousands of pilgrims clambered over barriers and broke down in tears, overcome with emotion after suspenseful prayer vigils worldwide.
White smoke earlier billowed from the Sistine Chapel and the bells of St Peter’s Basilica rang out, signalling the election had taken place after five rounds of voting in the Vatican—one more than when Benedict XVI was elected in 2005.
Bergoglio is the first Jesuit to become pope and is believed to have been the runner-up in 2005.
The first wisps of smoke in the evening sky prompted cries of “Long live the pope!” from pilgrims clutching rosaries and waving flags in the square, where the image of the tiny copper chimney was projected onto four giant screens.
Bergoglio, who is the 266th Pope in the Catholic Church’s 2,000-year history, retired to a chamber known as the “Room of Tears” immediately after the nomination to don his papal vestments and then prayed in the Pauline Chapel.
Bells pealed in churches across Italy to celebrate the announcement and residents of Rome could be seen racing to the floodlit 17th-century Vatican plaza, running out of their homes and cafes to reach the square in time.
Cardinals have been locked up behind the Vatican walls and cut off from the outside world since Tuesday, meeting in a sublime Renaissance chapel swept for recording devices and installed with scramblers to prevent any communication.
The historic election after Benedict’s abrupt resignation last month was being followed around the world on live television as well as through social media and smartphone apps—this is the first ever tweeted conclave.
At the high-level meeting held at Moneylife Foundation’s office on Wednesday to discuss the Passport mess in Pune, TCS officials showed hesitancy in making the document public. Indeed, an earlier CIC decision ordering TCS to make it public has been defied
During the Wednesday high-level meeting of the Pune Passport Grievance Forum (PPGF) conveners with top officials of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) at the Moneylife Foundation office in Mumbai, one of the points raised was making the Master Service Agreement (MSA) between TCS and the ministry of external affairs (MEA) public. This would make responsibilities and roles of both the entities transparent.
Shailesh Gandhi, former Central Information Commissioner and RTI activist, who was also present at the meeting, informed that in one of the hearings in 2012, while he was CIC, it was TCS which had shown unwillingness to make the document public. He said, that “we need to know who is objecting to making it public, MEA or TCS? In my experience during a hearing, it was TCS that was unwilling.” Tanmoy Chakrabarty, vice-president and head for government-industry solutions unit at TCS put the onus on the MEA for making it public, when this query was asked by Mr Gandhi at the meeting, but then went on the defensive stating that, “We will have to ask our legal cell.”
Vijay Kumbhar, one of the conveners of the PPGF has already filed a CIC complaint against TCS for not putting up the MSA in the public domain. He is waiting for the date of hearing. At the meeting, he brought it to the notice of the TCS officials, being in a public private partnership (PPP) venture with the government body, wherein the MEA has outsourced the above work and has given authorization as well as permission to TCS for the same and as the MEA provides funds for the above and mode of funding is Build, Operate, Transfer (BOT), TCS is public authority.
Mr Gandhi, the then CIC, had in a hearing pertaining to TCS on the issue of a Passport Seva Kendra having been built on an allegedly illegal property in Ghaziabad had ordered that the Master Service Agreement should be made public, barring the portion.
The TCS representative had brought the copy of the order at the time of hearing. Mr Gandhi in his order had stated that, “The Commission has looked at the agreement and the contentions of the respondent (TCS person). The Commission agrees that the rate mentioned in the contract if disclosed could harm the competitive position of the service provider. In view of this the Commission directs that the rates mentioned in the Agreement can be severed as per the provisions of Section 10 of the RTI Act. The Commission asked the respondent to specifically point out the information in the contract which could be said to be held in a fiduciary capacity. The respondent (TCS) states that he needs to get instructions from the ministry on the matter of disclosure of the Master Service Agreement as part of its Section 4(1) (b) obligations. The Commission therefore adjourns the matter to 1 May 2012 at 05.00pm.”
On 1 May 2012, the TCS representative remained absent and asked for more time to consider whether the Agreement should be made public. Mr Gandhi, in his order stated: “Respondent: Absent; The Commission has been informed that the third party Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has asked for time to voice its objections to disclosure of information. In view of this the Commission adjourns the hearing to 27th June 2012 at 4.00pm. All parties may send their written submissions, if they wish, before 30 May 2012 and copies of such submissions would be sent to opposite parties. Any rejoinders will be sent by the third party M/s TCS, MEA and the appellant to each other and to the Commission before 15 June 2012.”
The Commission directed TCS as well as the PIO (MEA) and the appellant to appear before the Commission on 27 June 2012 at 4.00pm to give their arguments.
On 27th June, again the TCS representative remained absent at the hearing. However, Tarunima Vijra and Dushyant Manocha, advocates for TCS were present. They asked for adjournment and a fresh date as their senior official VP Singh was travelling. Mr Gandhi denied another date stating that, “The Commission is conscious of the fact that its time is paid by the poorest man in India and it therefore does not have the luxury of giving another adjournment.” Mr Manocha also argued that the information is exempt under Section 8 (1) (d) & (e) as the information is “commercially competitive and disclosing would harm competitive interest of the TCS.”
Shailesh Gandhi, ordered the PIO of MEA to disclose information.
His decision on 4 July 2012 read as follows:
“The Commission had given adequate opportunity of hearing to the third party M/s Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) to explain its objections and put forth its arguments before the Commission to establish that the information sought by the appellant was covered by the exemptions of Section 8(1)(d) &(e) of the RTI Act.
“The third party TCS has claimed exemption under Section 8(1) (d) & (e) of the RTI Act but has given no explanation as to how the information sought by the appellant is exempt. The third party TCS has undertaken a commercial transaction with the ministry and has been given the authority to run the Passport Seva Kendra on behalf of the government. The government has effectively sub-contracted its function through a contractor.
“Since the third party TCS has not given any arguments to support its claim for exemption under Section 8(1) (d) & (e) of the RTI Act the Commission does not have any basis for accepting whether the said claim is justified. Since no justification had been provided for the claim of exemptions the Commission cannot see any justification for denial of information to the appellant.
“This is information that can certainly be obtained by the ministry from TCS if it is not available and would squarely fall in the definition of information as defined under Section 2(f) of the RTI Act which states, ‘information’ means ‘any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force’. When the government asks a private party to conduct any functions which it has been conducting earlier in the nature of providing vital services to the citizens such as providing a passport, it certainly has to be able to access all information regarding the activity from the private body to which it has given the contract.
“The Appeal is allowed.
“The PIO is directed to provide the information to the appellant before 25 July 2012.” -Shailesh Gandhi, Information Commissioner 04 July 2012.
Tanmoy Chakrabarty has promised the PPGF to seek advice from TCS’s legal cell and revert at the earliest.