GIST

Newspaper GIST

Summary

Opposition has no authority to question EC, says Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on his third visit to poll-bound Gujarat this month on Sunday, slammed the Opposition for questioning the Election Commission's motives in delaying the announcement of the Assembly poll schedule for the State.

GST rate structure needs rejig, says Hasmukh Adhia

Some rejig in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) rate structure is required to reduce the burden on small and medium businesses, Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia said on Sunday.

In Dhaka, Sushma calls for safe return of Myanmar nationals

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday expressed concern at the violence in Rakhine State of Myanmar and said India wanted the safe return of Rohingya to their homeland.

Rules to be eased for Tibetan refugees

India is all set to simplify travel rules for Tibetan refugees who want to visit foreign countries. Now they have to secure an 'exit permit' from the Home Ministry before applying for a visa with any foreign mission.

Ensure State panels for women are set up: SC

The Supreme Court has asked the Centre if state commissions for women (SCW) actually exist. The top court raised the question as it dealt with the issue of precarious conditions faced by destitute widows living in Vrindavan and other places across the country.

NIA set to charge-sheet Naik

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is all set to file a chargesheet against controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik this week for his alleged role in terror-funding and money-laundering cases, an official said.

Delicate talks ended Doklam, says China

China on Sunday said that its focus on developing peaceful lines of communication with other countries was paying dividends as seen in ending border tensions with India.

Returning Rohingya may not get back land

Rohingya Muslims who return to Myanmar after fleeing to bangladesh are unlikely to be able to reclaim theiir land and may find that their crops have been harvested and sold by the government, according to officials and plans seen by Reuters.

Paytm bank eyes 'more' digital wallets

Paytm Payments bank expects the new stricter Know Your Customer (KYC) norms, set by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for digital wallets, to boost customer acquisition process for its banking operations, a top company official said.

Editorial

In a Foreign Policy Haze

The U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson directed a good course for the India-U.S. relations ahead of his scheduled visit to India. He stressed in boosting growth ties through mapping convergences in fields of connectivity, trade and economics and counter-terrorism cooperation. He stated that the “most profound transformation” in the US-India ties is the growing strategic convergence and he further agreed that “the world’s two greatest democracies should always have the two greatest militaries.” The comments by the US Secretary of State was welcomed by New Delhi, as they included several broadsides on China’s actions and workings on the Indo-Pacific and and the BRI project. However, Mr. Tillerson’s views are underlined by strategic US comments. It is better that India doesn’t show any enthusiasm until the U.S. policy gets more settled down, as the policies of the Trump administration highlight a different portrait. Trump’s actions also portray confusing signals, like the policy and public statements, and Twitter comments often contradicting one another. One such strategic example was the US views on its relationship with Pakistan. Days before the U.S. Defence Secretary James Mattis and the Joint Chiefs of State Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford stated to a Senate armed service committee that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan proved links with terror groups and also suggested that the partnership with the country of Pakistan was all but over. However, after release, US President Donald Trump tweeted immediately stating that it was starting to “develop a good relationship with Pakistan as well as its leaders”. Thereafter also, the Chief of State John Kelly referred the country of Pakistan as a “great partner”, and Mr. Tillerson stating that Pakistan was much critical to regional stability. The Pakistan view by the US is disappointing for India that Washington isn’t much pro-active in condemning the decision by the Pakistan government for dropping terrorism charges as well as paving the road for the release of 26/11 mastermind and Lashkar-e-Taiba leader Haz Saeed from detention. Mr. Tillerson, on the other hand is more interested in brokering communicative dialogue between the countries of India and Pakistan.

Unacceptable Fetters

The ordinance by Rajasthan making disclosing of the names of all public servants facing corruption allegations a public offence before the government provides formal sanction for prosecuting them is a grave danger to media freedom as well as the public’s right to get knowledge. In recent times, the legislative scenario highlights to adding more protective layers to the officials from all corruption cases. While no person can now object to genuine measures that are aimed at insulating honest officials from any frivolous or wrong doing charges, there seems to be no justication made for the Vasundhara Raje government in Rajasthan to prescribe a long two-year prison term for disclosing all identities of concerned public servants. The Section 228-B, which is the freshly introduced Indian Penal Code offence relates to all acts done during the discharge of social functions, and is a direct threat to the proper functioning of the media as well as the whistle-blowers. It is a direct patently unreasonable restriction that is levied on legitimate journalism as well as activism against venality. In addition to this, the Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Ordinance of 2017 restrains judicial magistrates from ordering any investigation without having prior sanction. This may also paralyse any impending probe, as no investigating agency would then be able to approach a sanctioning authority without acquiring any material. This is the first time a section like this prescribing punishment for any disclosure is being introduced in the country, though the provisions barring all investigations or prosecutions without any prior sanction are available. The anti-corruption legislation of India looks like to be in a state of unacceptable scenario. It is high time that the Centre enforce a robust body of legislation which punishes the due corrupt, gives protection to the honest, and also ensures time-bound public services and good whistle-blower safety.

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