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Vijay Kelkar Committee report on balanced regional development: Debate likely in the winter session of State legislature

The Vijay Kelkar committee report on balanced regional development in Maharashtra and the action taken report are expected to come up for discussion during the two week winter session of the state legislature slated to begin on December 11 at Nagpur. Opposition Congress and Nationalist Congress Party, who have organised a morcha at the legislature on a number of issues including farmers plight, government’s inept handling of the implementation of crop loan waiver scheme and deteriorating finances, have made a fresh demand for special debate saying that its implementation was necessary to boost the regional development. Opposition’s demand comes at a time when leading water expert Madhav Chitale has mooted separate Marathwada state while former state advocate general Shrihari Aney along with some local leaders has been pursuing demand for statehood for Vidarbha region.Though not part of recommendations, but in the chapter on perspectives of stakeholders, the committee recorded views like demand for autonomy for Vidarbha or sentiments aired in support of creating a separate state, if the government is unable to remove the injustice of underdevelopment and deprivation.The Vijay Kelkar committee, which was constituted by the Congress-NCP government to suggest ways for balanced regional development in the state, had proposed reworking the development paradigm and resource allocation in a radical manner. The panel had suggested major overhaul in allocation of plan funds for regions, and had 146 major recommendations. The around 600-page report was tabled in the legislature in December 2014. The panel was constituted in 2011 and submitted its report in 2013.Leader of opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde told DNA, “The report came up for discussion in the winter session held in December 2014 but the government has yet to hold debate on its action taken report. NCP and the opposition in general will press for such a debate when the government is not providing enough attention on the removal of regional imbalance.’’Congress party’s deputy leader in the council Sharad Ranpise said even though the government had appointed a committee comprising ministers to study the report and made suggestions, it lacks political will for its implementation. ”The government needs to put the implementation of Kelkar committee report on fast track to achieve regional balance,” he noted.On its part, the BJP spokesman Ganesh Hake defended a slew of initiatives taken by the party led government in last three years to boost development of Maharashtra. He informed the government’s focus has been to complete long pending irrigation projects, strengthen transport infrastructure, transform agriculture and attract more investments especially in less developed areas. The committee had formulated a model for financial allocation that aims to remove the irrigation backlog in next eight years and that of other sectors like health, education and connectivity by the end of the 14th plan or say the next 12 years. Further, the committee had suggested the region wise allocation of funds including Vidarbha (33.24%), Marathwada (25.31%) and rest of Maharashtra (40.71%), a paradigm change from the current ratios of 23.03%, 18.75% and 58%. Further, the committee had pressed the need to restructure regional development boards, which will be headed by the chief minister, and preparing five-year perspective and annual plans for the regions; establish a project appraisal board for managing large public private partnership (PPP) projects, and make power available in Vidarbha at cheap rate.
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Top leaders, industrialists, cine stars mark GST launch

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Top leaders, industrialists, economists and celebrities tonight descended to witness the launch of landmark GST at the historic Central Hall of Parliament which opened for a midnight ceremony for the first time in two decades. President Pranab Mukherjee, who piloted the first constitutional amendment for unifying more than a dozen central and state taxes, shared a specially erected dais in the circular hall with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Vice- President Hamid Ansari. Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and former prime minister H D Deve Gowda too were on the dais with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Former prime minister Manmohan Singh too was supposed to be on the dais but he yesterday sent a regret letter to the Prime Minister’s Office apparently owing to his Congress’ party’s decision to boycott the “tamasha” (gimmick) launch ceremony. The Parliament building complex was illuminated just like it is done on national festivals such as the Independence Day and the Republic Day. At the stroke of midnight, Mukherjee and Modi pressed two buttons on a glass box decorated with orchids and GST inscribed on it. The pressing of buttons launched the GST and a two-minute video showcasing India’s diverse culture and tradition. Mukherjee and Modi warmly shook hands after the launch. Industry doyen Ratan Tata, RBI Governor Urjit Patel, Member of Parliament cum cine star Hema Malini and Shatrughan Sinha hogged much limelight with many of the participants greeting them. When Finance Minister Arun Jaitley entered the hall, Patel walked up to him to exchange pleasantries. Thereafter, the minister walked up to Tata, former Empowered Committee chairman Asim Dasgupta and former economic affairs secretary Vijay Kelkar to greet them. Almost the entire council of ministers and MPs from ruling alliance sat in the circular hall along with opposition leaders from the Samajwadi Party, the BJD, the NCP and the JD-U. The Congress, the Left, the TMC and the RJD boycotted the ceremony. NCP leader Sharad Pawar was seated with BJP president Amit Shah in the front row. As soon as former deputy prime minister and senior BJP leader L K Advani arrived, Shah gestured him to take a seat on the front row. Advani then sat between Pawar and Shah. SP’s Ramgopal Yadav was seated in the front row, so were Bhartruhari Mahtab of the BJD and AIADMK’s A Navaneethakrishnan. Subramanian Swamy, a bitter critic of GST-Network — the IT backbone provider for the new indirect tax regime– was also present at the launch. Former finance minister Yashwant Sinha as also Vijay Kelkar, who had first mooted the concept of GST in a report to finance ministry way back in 2003, were also present at the launch. Tata, who sat on the eighth row initially, was requested by S S Ahluwalia to walk up to the initial rows. Tata then went to sit in the fourth row along with Dasgupta and Kelkar. Media tycoon and Rajya Sabha MP Subhash Chandra, SP leader Amar Singh and Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule were also present at the launch. Among the bureaucrats, Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia, DEA Secretary Tapan Ray, Finance Secretary Ashok Lavasa, apart from CBEC chairperson Vanaja Sarna and Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia were present. Recently retired DEA secretary Shaktikanta Das too was present. Unlike the last midnight event held in 1997 on the occasion of golden jubilee of the independence at a special session of Parliament, it was a gala event at its circular – shaped hall that had been loaned for the launch of the historic reform. Former prime minister H D Deve Gowda too was present on the dais to launch the new taxation system that is set to dramatically re-shape over USD 2 trillion Indian economy. As if giving representation to regional political parties, former Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and National Conference leader Abdul Rahim Rather were invited for the event. Former GST Council chairman Sushil Kumar Modi, former finance ministers of West Bengal and Kerala Asim Dasgupta and K M Mani, who played crucial role in negotiations for GST, were also present. CEC Nasim Zaidi, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, Niti Aayog member Bibek Debroy and chief economic advisor Arvind Subramanian were also present. The GST Bill was originally piloted by Mukherjee when he was finance minister in the previous UPA regime in 2011. The GST Council, that brings together the central and state governments, has met 18 times to thrash out how the tax will work. Originally, the launch of GST which had been in the works for over a decade, was to be done from Vigyan Bhawan — the largest convention centre in the national capital that has hosted majority of the meetings of the GST Council. But the historic Central Hall was thought to be a better choice considering the importance of the new indirect tax code that unifies more than a dozen separate levies to create a single market with a population greater than the US, Europe, Brazil, Mexico and Japan put together. GST will simplify a web of taxes, regulations and border levies by subsuming an array of central and state levies including excise duty, service tax and VAT. It is expected to gradually re-shape India’s business landscape, making the world’s fastest-growing major economy an easier place to do business. GST has been dubbed as the most significant economic reform since the BJP government came to power in 2014 and is expected to add as much as 2 percentage points to the GDP growth rate besides raising government revenues by widening the tax net. A four-rate structure that exempts or imposes a low rate of tax of 5 per cent on essential items and top rate of 28 per cent on cars and consumer durables has been finalised. The other slabs of tax are 12 and 18 per cent.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Women’s duty to inculcate good values in children: RSS female

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A senior office-bearer of RSS’s female wing, Rastra Sevika Samiti, today said women should not forget their primary responsibility: to hold family together and inculcate virtues in children. Samiti’s North India head Chanderkanta said men and women are equal in a marriage, but it is the responsibility of a woman to keep the family together and to bring up the children as good citizens. “Women can pursue their careers. Today, they are in every field and playing important roles. But, one thing they should remember that children spend their maximum time with their mothers and it is their duty to inculcate virtues and good values in them,” she said. To strengthen and integrate the society women must be “made more cultured”, she suggested. She said no one listens to the weak and the women must become stronger for any society become free from fear. Rashtra Sevika Samiti was founded by Lakshmi Bai Kelkar in Nagpur 80 years ago. The organisation claims it believes in the ideology of gender equality and works for physical, intellectual, and spiritual growth of women and for their greater contribution in the family, society and the country.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

BJP, Shiv Sena indulge in poster war ahead of BMC elections

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As elections to the cash-rich Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and nine other municipal corporations in Maharashtra are fast approaching, saffron allies, Shiv Sena and BJP, appear to be engaged in a poster war.While some BJP leaders, including Thane MLA Sanjay Kelkar, have put up hoardings urging the party to go solo in the civic polls, the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena has also put up banners claiming to have achieved some major infrastructure projects in BMC.Interestingly, Shiv Sena has changed its election catchline from ‘karun dakhawale’ (we did it), which was widely used in the 2012 BMC and 2014 assembly elections, to ‘did you know’ (about Sena’s development works) in the current run for BMC. “The hoardings that have come up in Thane and Pune in the last few days reflect a large section of BJP, which is demanding that the party should contest the civic elections all alone. This is not just about breaking an alliance, but about creating more opportunities for the party to grow,” Kelkar said.Shiv Sena spokesperson Neelam Gorhe said, “There is nothing wrong in both parties aspiring for expansion. As the final decision about the alliance is going to be taken by Uddhav Thackeray and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, then why should we bother about the comments made by any other leader.”Another Sena leader said, “The hoardings are nothing but assertion of the BJP workers’ views. Even Shiv sainiks have put up billboards to strongly present our work and achievements. This time, we are better prepared and hence countering them through hoardings.” Elections to 10 municipal corporations, including Mumbai, Thane and Pune, will be held on February 21, while polls to 26 zilla parishads (ZP) will be held in two phases on February 16 and 21, followed by counting of votes on February 23.Over seven crore voters in major cities and vast rural stretches areas will elect 1,258 corporators, 1,558 members of district councils and 3,116 panchayat samiti members.Stakes are high in the battle for the ruling BJP, which emerged as the winner in the just-concluded four-phase elections to 191 municipal councils and 19 nagar panchayats of Maharashtra. Whether the saffron allies will clinch a firm pre-poll pact, given the strains in their relations despite sharing power in the state and central government, remains to be seen.

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