Citizens' Issues
Land Pratibha Patil failed to grab in Pune to become Army Club
Moneylife’s expose in 2012 on the then President Pratibha Patil’s land grab of 2,60,000 sq ft of prime A-1 Defence Land in Pune’s Khadki Cantonment for a retirement home, had forced her to return the land. The plot will take on a new avatar as the Rajendrasinghji Army Mess and Institute, from 15th August.
 
Two clubs coming up at bungalows 26A and 38, which were initially being re-modified and re-designed for Pratibha Patil’s luxurious personal home, will now be dedicated to army officers and to other ranks. An invite is being circulated within army circles, calling for memberships from the station headquarters of Aundh and Kirkee (Khadki).
 
 
Hectic activity is going on in the sprawling premises with the leveling of the ground and the bungalows being spruced up through refurbishment of walls and interiors. It is all very hush hush. When this writer called on the phone number mentioned in the invite calling for membership, the person on the other side said he has been directed not to disclose any information unless I provide my Army credentials. When contacted, the Southern Command authorities, too, were tight-lipped. However, on visiting the premises, I gathered from a reliable source supervising the construction and renovation that work was going on apace to meet the deadline.
    
 
The bungalows will have a mess of their own. Besides, it would be open for community gatherings. I noticed some guest rooms being done up. There is ample open space in front of the bungalows, bordered by trees, some of them having been hacked during Pratibha Patil’s house construction time. Landscaping too is on the anvil, but priority is being given to do up the bungalows first.
 
  
It may be recalled that Moneylife had exposed this issue. It all began with a Right to Information (RTI) application filed by a former army officer, Colonel Suresh Patil, to the Home Ministry seeking information of rules for allocation of a home to the President of India, after he or she retires. 
 
The reply from the Home Ministry said, “…under the President’s Emoluments and Pension Act, 1951 and rules framed under the President’s Pension Rule, 1962, where suitable government residence is not available for allotment to a retired President, the size of the residence to be taken on lease to be provided to a retired President shall have a living area not exceeding 2,000 sq. ft.”
“A place where government-owned accommodation is allotted to a retired President, the size of the residence is comparable to a residence allotted to a Minister in the Union Council of Ministers and if the highest type of government residence available as a particular place is less in size than a residence allotted to a Minister in the Union Council of Ministers, the highest type of accommodation available at that place shall be allotted to the ex-President. At present, a Minister is entitled to a plinth area of the bungalow as 4,498 sq ft.”
 
Moneylife thereafter got access to other information through RTI, one of which from the Secretariat of President of India’s office too questioned such a precedent. Moneylife began its investigative series on 12 April 2012 by highlighting different aspects of the issue every other day and, on 27 April 2012, a press release from the President of India’s office stated that she was returning the land. Editors Sucheta Dalal and Debashis Basu used Facebook and Twitter effectively to make each story go viral on social media. 
 
At the ground level, Col Patil, Commander Ravindra Pathak of Indian Ex-Servicemen’s Movement (IESM) and former naval personnel, Anoop Kumar Awasthi, founder of Justice for Jawans (JFJ) fought hard to build public pressure.
 
Here are some links:
 
(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting, which she won twice in 1998 and 2005, and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book, “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte”, with Vinita Kamte, and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.) 
 

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COMMENTS

manoharlalsharma

2 weeks ago

to grab land or a co-operative housing society.

manoharlalsharma

2 weeks ago

the article is common one majority of politicians whether he is area CORPORATOR , MLA ,MLC these r the agents of ministers.

Arvind

2 weeks ago

Ravi,You obviously do not know what army life is what army needs. Let some one pay you 10 times of salary and send you to Siachin/Kasmir/International border from where plywood boxes keep coming every day.

RAVI RAM PV

2 weeks ago

Why does the army etc need such lands? Cantonements etc are relics of colonial past. Let the govt pay the services 2 or 3 times the HRA etc paid to other govt dept's but, there is no logic in ccontinuing relics like free ration which are nothing but brreding grounds for corruption.

Shankar g

2 weeks ago

Great job...........Prevented a loot . Younger generation, journos/students/neighbourhood need to wake up and do such probing ,reporting .

Mahesh S Bhatt

2 weeks ago

Heartiest Congrats Moneylife Our Armymen shall bless us & so shall our Countrymen.Cheers Kudos Mahesh Bhatt

Thaikootathil Jayachandran

2 weeks ago

Good work..

Mehernosh Dordi

3 weeks ago

Good work by Moneylife

Raji Aunty Goes Shopping to Dadar
During the ’70s, we lived in an apartment complex in one of the western suburbs of Mumbai. There were 15 flats in our building. Each of us knew every other family in the building. There was lots of gossip with neighbourhood aunties speaking nineteen to the dozen and evenings were filled with laughter and banter. Despite petty differences among neighbours, there was great bonhomie and bonding among the residents.
 
My dad and other male members had a two-hour card session in the nights, from 9 to 11 p.m. On Sundays, the card sessions went on till midnight. There was no television then and Vividh Bharati was the sole source of in-house entertainment. Going to Juhu beach was like a picnic then.
 
Raji Aunty, who stayed on the first floor with her family (which included a number of children), was full of verve, energy and chutzpah. She was vivacious and the memories of her innocence and naivety are fresh after so many years. Her laughter was infectious. She was loquacious and often lost track of time when chatting with neighbours. In the ’70s, neighbours in Mumbai were more than relatives – unlike today, when one does not know who is staying in one’s neighbourhood.
 

One day, Raji Aunty was busy conversing with her neighbour. So immersed was she in the conversation that she forgot that she had kept oil in the gas stove for frying appalams (papads). Soon, the oil got over-heated and caught fire. Our building was located bang opposite an industrial colony. All of a sudden, the colony’s residents started shouting “Aag, Aag” (‘fire’ in Hindi). Raji Aunty and her neighbour were curious as to what the hubbub was all about, until it dawned on Raji Aunty that the fire had erupted in her own kitchen. That was Raji Aunty for you.
 
One particular incident deserves mention. In those days, women in the neighbourhood had the practice of going on shopping expeditions together – in particular grocery shopping. The Malad market was famous for pulses and edible oils that were available cheaper than at the neighbourhood kirana store. The housewives in our building decided to go to the Dadar market to shop for vegetables and fruits. It was an idea that caught the fancy of the womenfolk in the building.
 
They decided to travel by the Mumbai suburban rail network. Long distance bus journeys in Mumbai can be boring and tiresome. The group decided to catch a slow train to Dadar. Maybe they had not anticipated the peak hour traffic. So when the train arrived at the station there was a rush to board the train (as it always happens, even now). By the time the women had boarded the train, it began moving. Alas, Raji Aunty was the last to board the train. She firmly clutched my mother’s hands trying to hop onto the train.
 
My mother was standing on the footboard. One of the fisherwomen travelling in the compartment hit my mother’s hand. Raji aunty fell on the platform. Fortunately, she did not get hurt as the pace of the train was slow. As the train picked up speed, the fisherwoman explained to my mother that had she not intervened, my mother would have fallen from the moving train.
 
Now the housewives were in a dilemma. They did not know what to do. What was the fun in shopping if one of the group was not with them?  Anxious about Raji Aunty, the housewives decided to wait for her at Dadar station. They expected she would join them at Dadar by catching the next train. 
 
The wait proved to be interminable -- Raji Aunty was nowhere in sight. There were no cell phones in those days. So the group had no clue about the next course of action. After waiting for a good one hour, they decided to return home without shopping, as they were hardly in a mood to shop. They also worried about how they would face Ramachandran Uncle (Raji Aunty’s husband).
 
When they reached home, they went straight to Raji Aunty’s home. When they rang the bell, one of her children opened the door and what they saw shocked them. Raji Aunty was comfortably sitting on the floor and sorting out the vegetables. She saw us and exclaimed, “Oh, all of you have come back. How was the shopping?”  The group was left dumbstruck.
 
What had happened was that Raji Aunty had caught the next train to Dadar. This train happened to be a fast train that reached Dadar earlier than the train the group had travelled in. Not wanting to waste time, Raji Aunty had made enquiries about the location of the Dadar market and went about shopping as usual. She thought that the group had already left and so she caught the next train back home. 
 
There were similar such hilarious incidents regarding Raji Aunty. But, apart from anything, it was her innocence, kindness and charm that bowled everyone over. She had an inimitable style of speaking Tamil and was a mother figure to everyone in the building. This was what made her special. For a long time after Raji Aunty moved to another house, the residents felt a void that was hard to fill. 
 
(Venkatesh Ganapathy is presently pursuing his doctoral research in supply chain management from Alliance University, Bangalore. He is a freelance writer and an avid blogger. In this column, he shall be sharing the memories of his childhood in the 70's.

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Moneylife #TweetMorcha, #BankSeBachao Impact: RBI limits customer liability in digital transaction
Moneylife Foundation's persistent battle for bank customers is beginning to bear fruit. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has issued a circular to reduce liability of customers in an unauthorised electronic banking transaction. The circular also asks banks to put in place a mechanism to record and address customer grievances or pay compensation in a systematic and timely manner.
 
RBI’s action comes after two days after a unique #TweetMorcha which appealed to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the hashtag #BankSeBachao. This was preceded by a persistent campaign for two months including an online petition that garnered over 2.14 lakh signatures, several complaints from customers, letters and memorandums. 
 
Making banks responsible to prove liability of the customer in such cases, in the circular, RBI says, in case of contributory fraud or negligence or deficiency from the bank, the customer will have zero liability irrespective of whether or not she reports the unauthorised transaction. In case of third party breach, where there is no liability on bank or the customer, and the customer reports it to the bank within three days, then also she is entitled to zero liability, the Reserve Bank says.
 
"Taking into account the risks arising out of unauthorised debits to customer accounts owing to customer negligence, bank negligence, banking system frauds and third party breaches, banks need to clearly define the rights and obligations of customers in case of unauthorised transactions in specified scenarios. The burden of proving customer liability in case of unauthorised electronic banking transactions shall lie on the bank," it added.
 
In addition, banks are asked to credit the amount involved in the unauthorised electronic banking transaction to the customer's account within 10 days from reporting by the customer. 
 
RBI has also asked bank to put in place a mechanism to handle communication related with electronic banking and to resolve customer grievances within stipulated time. 
 
Reserve Bank says, banks must ask their customers to mandatorily register for SMS alerts and email alerts, if available, for electronic banking transactions. Banks also must advise customer to report any unauthorised electronic banking transaction at the earliest, RBI says, adding, "To facilitate this, banks must provide customers with 24x7 access through multiple channels (at a minimum, via website, phone banking, SMS, e-mail, IVR, a dedicated toll-free helpline, and reporting to home branch) for reporting unauthorised transactions that have taken place and/ or loss or theft of payment instrument such as card."
 
"Banks shall also enable customers to instantly respond by 'Reply' to the SMS and e-mail alerts and the customers should not be required to search for a web page or an e-mail address to notify the objection, if any. Further, a direct link for lodging the complaints, with specific option to report unauthorised electronic transactions shall be provided by banks on home page of their website. The loss or fraud reporting system should also ensure that immediate response (including auto response) is sent to the customers acknowledging the complaint along with the registered complaint number. The communication systems used by banks to send alerts and receive their responses must record the time and date of delivery of the message and receipt of customer’s response, if any, to them. This will be important in determining the extent of a customer’s liability. The banks may not offer facility of electronic transactions, other than ATM cash withdrawals, to customers who do not provide mobile numbers to the bank. On receipt of report of an unauthorised transaction from the customer, banks must take immediate steps to prevent further unauthorised transactions in the account."  
 
This also means customers need to provide mobile number in case they want to use electronic banking services, other than use of ATMs.
 
Moneylife Foundation has been at the forefront of speaking up for bank customers. Earlier this week, thousands of people joined the unique #TweetMorcha against arbitrary bank charges with the hashtag #BankSeBachao trending at top spot in India and also featuring in worldwide trends Tuesday afternoon. People from across the globe sent tweets to @NarendraModi and @ArunJaitley with the hashtags of #BankSeBachao and #TweetMorcha. 
 
 
Moneylife Foundation, along with Sanjay Nirupam, chief of Mumbai Regional Congress Committee and India’s leading bank union leaders, consumer organisations and activists had called a #TweetMorcha, a unique new form of registering an online protest to take up the issue of high bank charges. The aim of this Tweet Morcha was give  voice to the anger of all those who are being forced to pay unfair bank charges and unjust fees and make it heard by the Prime Minister. All the tweets were tagged the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s twitter handle @narendramodi.
 
The objective of this protest was to unite the voice of the agitated and vulnerable bank customers who are being subjected to unfair practices by big banks since the charges that banks are levying on their customers amount to being illegal. 
 
 
An online petition launched by us on Change.org has garnered more than two lakh signatures. (Sign the Petition). The first point in this online petition is about protecting customers in unauthorised banking transaction. It says, “We feel that with the increased use of digital payments post the demonetisation drive, it is necessary to have in place a mechanism or system to protect customers from unauthorised banking transactions. A Master circular/notification by the Reserve Bank on limiting liability in an unauthorised banking transaction will make a huge impact on protecting customers from frauds.”
 
The group, including well known NGOs, trade unions, finance editors and experts, had on 12 May 2017 presented a 1,100 page printout of over 100,000 signatures to an online petition at Change.org to M Veerappa Moily, Chairman of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance.
 
The Moneylife Foundation Campaign has certainly ruffled several feathers at the Reserve Bank as it can be seen by some decisions taken by the regulator. This includes limiting customer liability, asking banks to share details of transaction in passbook or statements, expanding role of Banking Ombudsman. However, there is so much more that the Reserve Bank needs to do, like making its Consumer Charter more effective and effectively curtailing the practice of mis-selling and unfair service charges. 
 
Here is the revised notification issued by RBI on limiting customer liability in electronic banking transaction...
 

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COMMENTS

Pradeep Kumar M Sreedharan

2 weeks ago

Mr Puri, in my opinion is the greatest beneficiary of the Banking Cartel.
He is piggy riding the PSUs and HDFC Bank doesn't appear to be a National Bank - it is more likely to be a Foreign Bank in National Sheep skin
I wait for you to leave HDFC Bank.

Pradeep Kumar M Sreedharan

2 weeks ago

Mr Puri, OBEROI serves it's Poori clean, what about you ❓
I prefer to deal with Shylocks.
I wait for you to leave HDFC Bank.

vivek mishra

2 weeks ago

Good,struggle must go on....

Arun M Purohit

2 weeks ago

WHAT ABOUT MINIMUM BALANCE REQUIRED FOR SB ACCOUNT HOLDER WHICH SUDDENLY JUMPED FROM Rs.1000/- TO Rs.5000/- ? , BANK OF INDIA CHARGING SMS ALERTS WITHOUT PERMISSION OF ACCOUNT HOLDER OR OTHERWISE THEY ARE CANCELLING MOBILE NO. , MAY I ASK WHY ? WE ARE BELONGS TO LOWER MEDIUM CLASS OF FAMILY AND UNABLE TO AFFORD SMS ALERT CHARGES , WE ARE COMFORTABLE WITH PASSBOOK ENTRY BUT UNCOMFORTABLE TO TRANSACT ON LINE TRANSACTIONS THOUGH WE HAVE DEBIT CARD , THEY ARE FORCING US TO BE REGISTER WITH SMS ALERTS WHICH AT ALL NOT REQUIRED.

Ramesh Poapt

2 weeks ago

GREAT!!

smita kane

2 weeks ago

What any Atm with deal
Bank has put restriction if u withdraw money more than 3 times from other banks Atm
Is RBi given instructions regarding the minimum balance charges
Smita kane

Aniruddha Mukherjee

2 weeks ago

Well done, keep on your initiative of public welfare, proud of you, always ready For my part.

Pradeep Kumar M Sreedharan

3 weeks ago

Whew! It took long time coming.
Most of it is common sense, but RBI had it after long - too long for the Central bank of India.

Shankar g

3 weeks ago

Congratulations.........Adorable job by the Moneylife.

SuchindranathAiyerS

3 weeks ago

It remains to be seen how this customer protection will be implemented. It is customary in India for Sarkari Babus to subvert ALL citizen rights in connivance with the judiciary and quasi judiciary

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