India becomes the 83rd country and Mumbai the 1,501st city to witness the protests which started in New York’s Wall Street against greedy capitalism and corporate greed
Mumbai: The ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement reached the financial capital today with a small crowd of Left-leaning activists protesting on Dalal Street where the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) is located, reports PTI.
India becomes the 83rd country and Mumbai the 1,501st city to witness the protests which started in New York’s Wall Street against greedy capitalism and corporate greed.
The Occupy Wall Street movement started in the private park Zuccotti in New York’s downtown Manhattan area in September which caught attention of the rest of the world, particularly in the West which is reeling under an extended period of financial turbulences since the fall of Wall Street titans in September 2008.
The Communist Party of India (CPI) has taken the lead in the stir against corporate greed and the failure of the capitalist model of development.
Activists from CPI, its student wing All India Youth Federation and the All India Bank Employees Association and others started assembling on the high security street. They were taken into preventive detention as soon as they started sloganeering and unfurling banners.
The protesters included Tushar Gandhi, the great grandson of the Mahatma Gandhi.
“It is important to explain to our people that if we subsidise diesel artificially, by running up a large fiscal deficit, that would also exert an upward pressure on prices,” chief economic advisor Kaushik Basu said
New Delhi: On a day the government was battling the political fallout of petrol price hike, its economic advisor pitched for a bold decision on freeing diesel prices, which he claims would eventually cool down inflation, reports PTI.
“I personally believe that we should decontrol diesel prices, which will take some pressure off the fiscal burden.
And in the long run, it will cause inflation to go down,” chief economic advisor Kaushik Basu told PTI in an interview.
Inflation should ideally be below 5%, he said.
“However, (it is) important to explain to our people that if we subsidise diesel artificially, by running up a large fiscal deficit, that would also exert an upward pressure on prices,” Mr Basu said.
In September, headline inflation was measured at 9.72% and food inflation has risen to a nine-month high of 12.21% for the week ended 22nd October.
While petrol prices are market-linked, the government administers the prices of LPG, kerosene and diesel backed by heavy subsidies.
Only Thursday oil marketing companies increased petrol prices by Rs1.80 per litre. Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee has acknowledged that the hike in petrol prices will have some impact on inflation.
Both Congress’ allies and opposition parties have slammed the price hike and have sought its roll back.
Petroleum minister S Jaipal Reddy has sought a meeting of the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGOM) to devise ways to cut the mounting losses to oil marketing companies due to the pricing of diesel, domestic LPG and kerosene as oil companies.
Prices of the cooking fuel and diesel were last revised in June.
Mr Basu, who also heads a prime minister-appointed panel on inflation, said deregulating diesel prices will make India a more responsible country environmentally, because then “we will not encourage over-consumption of diesel over other more environment-friendly energy substitutes”.
On inflation, he said bringing it down is a priority.
“I would like Indian inflation to be kept firmly below 5%. In fact, I would like a target of 4%. That gives you flexibility for relative price adjustment and also purchasing power parity adjustment, which is natural during high growth,” he said.
The CEA, however, admitted that India won’t be able to bring down inflation to the target of 5% by the end of the fiscal.
“But if we can reach 5% or less sometime toward the end of the next calendar (2012), that would be good,” he added.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has hiked interest rates 13 times since March 2010, in its bid to tame inflation, a cause of big concern for the government.
The central bank expects inflation to moderate to 7% at March-end and Mr Basu agrees with the forecast.
The Nandan Nilekani-led UIDAI wanted to issue Aadhaar cards instead of the laminated letter mentioning the UID number. However, all of a sudden, it has cancelled its tender issued for printing of Aadhaar cards without giving any reason
The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which is on a high for tagging residents under its ambitious unique ID (UID) project Aadhaar, has been compelled to stick with its mandate and not venture out of its marked territory. The UIDAI, led by Nandan Nilekani, has cancelled its tender for printing of Aadhaar cards within a month of issuing it, without giving any reason.
Earlier, on 4th October, the UIDAI issued a tender, (F. No. 14014/07/2011-Logistics) inviting bids for printing and delivery of Aadhaar cards. The notice said, "As of now, UID number is being delivered to the resident in the form of a laminated letter through post. Now the GoI (Govt of India) has decided to deliver the UID/Aadhaar number in the form of an Aadhaar Card. This Request for Proposal document is intended to invite bids from reputed and reliable firms for undertaking the work of Printing of the Aadhaar Card and delivering that card to the designated Post Offices across India. The data for the preparation of Cards will be provided by the UIDAI in electronic form."
The UIDAI launched the Aadhaar scheme in September last year and the authority is expected to issue two crore UID (12-digit unique) numbers by end-March 2012. So far the UIDAI has generated 5.96 crore Aadhaar numbers and more than one crore residents have enrolled themselves in the system across the country.
Issuing any identification card under the Aadhaar scheme was never the mandate of UIDAI. Here is what the site of the Authority says: "UIDAI has been created as an attached office under the Planning Commission. Its role is to develop and implement the necessary institutional, technical and legal infrastructure to issue unique identity numbers to Indian residents."
However, the tender inviting notice shows that the Authority is acting on the decision taken by the government. Currently, the UIDAI is under heavy criticism for concerns like privacy issues, use of biometrics and the incentives being paid for enrolling more residents. Many voices have been raised against the forceful implementation of the UID project, with most objections focused on concerns over privacy. The incentive issue will certainly push government employees to enrol more residents by any means, when they don't know what Aadhaar is and how it would affect their lives.
While some activists, like Advocate Kamayani Bali Mahabal had started petitioning the Prime Minister, others like VK Somasekhar, founder-trustee of Grahak Shakti and Col (Retd.) Thomas Mathew of Citizens' Action Forum have sent legal notices to UIDAI and the Planning Commission questioning their “illegal” activities in implementing the UID project, or Aadhaar, without any legal authority to do so.
The National Identification Authority of India (NIA) Bill is still pending before Parliament. The Bill seeks to constitute a statutory authority and lay down its powers and functions, besides deciding the framework to issue the UID or Aadhaar numbers. Yet, the Indian government and UIDAI have gone about implementing the scheme and issuing Aadhaar numbers without any Constitutional validity as yet.
According to an expert, the government is the Executive not empowered by the Constitution to implement projects spending public money without legislative sanction. "In the case of UIDAI, while the Executive may appoint anyone to head it, the government is legally constrained from implementing the project and issuing Aadhaar numbers," the expert said.
The NIA Bill is under the consideration of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance, headed by former finance minister Yashwant Sinha and has members from across the political spectrum.