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24% MPs/MLAs say they don't need to pay tax or have no income
Manoj K., In tax returns filed a year before they were elected, 72 per cent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress MPs and MLAs claimed they earn less than Rs 10 lakh, according to an analysis of affidavits of 4,848 (of 4,910) lawmakers. As many as 75 per cent of MPs and MLAs nationwide declared annual incomes less than Rs 10 lakh. Around 35 per cent of lawmakers said their annual income is less than Rs 2.5 lakh while 40 per cent have declared annual income between Rs 2.5 lakh and Rs 10 lakh.As many as 1,141 (24 per cent) MPs and MLAs claimed exemption from income tax or have no income at all."We can conclude that we are largely a tax non-compliant society," Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said, sarcastically, during his budget speech on February 1.Sharing income tax data, Jaitley said that of 37 million individuals (of a total population of close to 1.3 billion) who filed tax returns in 2015-16, 9.9 million (27 per cent) declared annual incomes below the exemption limi...




BJP competes with BSP in fielding 'tainted' candidates in UP
IndiaTomorrow.net, Lucknow, Feb 15: Howsoever strongly BJP leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi may speak – from stages of election campaigns – against rise in crimes in Uttar Pradesh during the incumbent Samajwadi Party government and previous Bahujan Samaj Party regime, BJP has done little to appear distinct from other parties when it comes to filed candidates of clean image in the ongoing Assembly elections in the state.   With 40% of its 73 candidates in the Phase 1 polling (held on 11 Feb), BJP was ahead of three other major parties – BSP, SP and Congress.   The assessment of candidates of Phase 1, Phase 2 and Phase 3, conducted by Association for Democratic Reform (ADR), 66 (31.73%) out of 208 candidates of BJP have declared criminal cases against them. BSP of Mayawati, with 74 candidates (36.74%) with criminal records (out of its 207 candidates), is ahead of BJP. There seems to be a competition between the two in this field also. &...




Uttar Pradesh: Lok Sabha MPs, 71 of them from BJP, could not spend Rs 333 Cr of development fund
Rs 135 Cr of MPLAD fund remained unspent in 33 Dalit/Muslim Lok Sabha constituencies held by BJP. IndiaTomorrow.net, Lucknow, Feb 10: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party BJP won the 2014 Lok Sabha elections on the plank of development - the party won 71 out of 80 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh alone - and they want people of India's most populated state to vote them in the ongoing Assembly elections also for development.   "We are willing to do everything for the growth of UP. To change the fortunes of Uttar Pradesh, change the government in the state," asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi while addressing an election rally in Meerut."   But a study of the performance of Members of the 16th Lok Sabha from UP says that a whopping Rs 333.6 crores of MPLAD funds remain unspent in the state - Rs 135 crores of these funds not spent in 33 Lok Sabha constituencies where either Dalits or Muslims are in sizeable number.  Every year, an MP is give...




UP Polls: BJP at No. 1 in fielding candidates with criminal cases
Ghazanfar Abbas, IndiaTomorrow.net,Lucknow, Feb 4: On the day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was asking people to defeat ‘SCAM’ (Samajwadi Party, Congress, Akhilesh and Mayawati) for allegedly promoting crime and corruption in Uttar Pradesh, an analysis of candidates of all parties in the fray for 1st phase of the Assembly elections revealed that Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is at No. 1 in fielding candidates with criminal cases.Addressing an election rally today in Meerut in Western Uttar Pradesh that will vote in 1st phase, PM Modi said, “This is BJP’s fight against SCAM (Samajwadi Party, Congress, Akhilesh and Mayawati)” and asked people defeat SCAM.But the analysis of affidavits of the candidates in this phase shows that BJP is hardly any different from other parties when it comes to field ‘clean’ candidates, rather it is a little ahead.In the 1st phase, 73 Assembly seats will go to poll on 11 Feb. BJP has fielded candidates...




Leprosy Eradication Day: India reports world's 60% new cases
Ghazanfar Abbas, IndiaTomorrow.net, New Delhi, Jan 30: This day every year is observed, in India, as Leprosy Eradication Day. Ten years after eliminating the disease as a public health problem, leprosy is again becoming an epidemic in the country.   The latest report of the World Health Organization shows that India accounts for 60% of the global total of new cases of leprosy. The statistics provided by WHO suggests that India still needs to adopt inclusive approach in order to end the scourge of leprosy.   Although India achieved elimination of leprosy as a public health problem in 2005, it has the largest number of leprosy patients in the world and pockets of high endemicity report thousands of new cases every year. In 2015, a total of 127, 326 new cases were detected in the country accounting for 60% of the global total of new cases, compared with 125,785 new cases in 2014. Of the new cases, 8.9% were children and 6.7% presented with visible deformities.  ...




Representation of minorities very low in Delhi govt. departments: Minority panel's annual report
Mumtaz Alam, IndiaTomorrow.net, New Delhi, Jan 28: In Delhi Tourism & Transportation department of the Delhi government, there are 741 employees against the sanctioned posts of 1004. Presently, there are only 32 employees from minority communities, reveals the annual report 2015-16 of the Delhi Minorities Commission. In the Delhi Metro, there are currently 80683 staffers – only 282 of them are from minority communities.   The Chapter 10 of the report is titled “Representation of Minorities in Govt. Services”. A chart carrying facts about 12 departments are given there.   Departments Posts Sanctioned Present Strength Minority Community SC/ST/OBC 82 65 1 Training (UTCS) 61 48 3 Food Safety 189 92 5 Delhi Tourism & Transportation 1004 741 32 Public Grievan...




Good, bad, ugly: Health of 5 states going to polls
Oommen C. Kurian, Shalini Rudra, Rhea Colaco and Raushan Tara Jaswal,  While healthcare has largely been a neglected issue in past general elections, major parties started talking about health in their manifestos from 2004. In some states, there's evidence it is becoming increasingly important, a 2014 Lancet report said, citing the Rajiv Aarogyasri Community Health Insurance Scheme for poor families as a major reason for a second term in 2009 for the late Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y.S.R. Reddy, and Gujarat's Chiranjeevi Yojana, which provides skilled healthcare to pregnant women in collaboration with the private sector and contributed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's popularity when he was Chief Minister.Healthcare is important to political and economic debate because inadequate public healthcare and healthcare expenses push an additional 55 million people back into poverty in India every year, according to a 2015 Lancet paper.However, health-related political discussion...




Budget 2017: The school education crisis - and opportunity
Shreya Shah,Budget 2017 is an opportunity for the government to concentrate on improving school education for over 260.5 million children who enrolled in elementary and secondary school in 2015-16 -- children who will form the core of Indias working-age population, one billion by 2030, the largest in the world."Business as usual" will not solve the problem, submitted Pratham, an education nonprofit, in a pre-budget consultation with the Finance Ministry. "Unless major shifts are undertaken on an urgent basis to build children's foundational skills, we are losing huge opportunities each year for improving the life chances of an entire generation of children and youth in this country," the consultation note added.Higher education dominated last year's education budget (with an increase of 13 per cent over the 2015-16 budget) and the conversation about education -- with policies for improving the quality and ranking of higher education, creation of a higher-education f...




69% income of political parties is from unknown sources: ADR Report
Ghazanfar Abbas, IndiaTomorrow.net, New Delhi, Jan 24: About two-thirds of the total income of political parties in the last 11 years (FY 2004-05 to 2014-15) came from unknown sources, reveals a report prepared by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR). The report is based on the national and regional parties' income tax returns and statements filed with the Election Commission of India.   The report reveals that total income of the political parties (6 National and 51 Regional) between FY 2004-05 and 2014-15 was Rs 11,367.34 cr. Just 31% of that income (i.e. Rs 3534.36 cr) was from known sources while the rest 69% (i.e. Rs 7,832.98 cr) was from unknown sources.   "This unknown source of funding to the political parties is worrisome. Till the political parties will not bring transparency, black money can't be checked in the elections. Parties needed an internal democracy.  De-listing of the parties is a complex task for the authorities but can play a cruci...




'Note ban has caused Rs 20,000-50,000 per acre loss to farmers'
Ranjana Narayan, New Delhi, Jan 22: India's cash-driven agri sector continues to reel under the effects of demonetisation, with farmers growing fruits and vegetables suffering "huge losses", say farm leaders who want the Union budget to "compensate" them for these losses.Amid reports of farmers dumping or refusing to harvest crops like tomatoes and peas due to a crash in prices as traders did not have the cash to purchase the produce, farmer leader Ajay Vir Jakhar said, "Farmers growing perishables like fruits and vegetables have suffered losses of Rs 20,000 to Rs 50,000 per acre on an average."The loss is huge," Jakhar, Chairman of Bharat Krishak Samaj (Farmers' Forum, India), told IANS.Explaining the "very bad situation", farm leader Sudhir Panwar, President of Kisan Jagriti Manch, told IANS: "When the trader says that there is no money to purchase the crop, what is the way out for the farmer? Either sell at throwaway prices or dump t...




As Maharashtra makes big mining push, tribals push back
Poorvi Kulkarni, Etapalli and Bhamragad talukas, Gadchiroli (Maharashtra): Over two nights in early January, Madia Gond tribals -- or Adivasis, as they prefer to be called -- of southeastern Maharashtra gather every year in a clearing to celebrate their pre-harvest festival. They sing, dance and feast on pork and mutton as they worship their deity, Thakur Dev. This year, there was disquiet among the 1,000 Adivasis who had congregated here from 70 neighbouring villages. As they sat huddled around festive bonfires, they discussed the big push being given to mining activity in the region by government of India's richest state by state gross domestic product (GSDP).On December 23, 2016, 80 trucks and an earthmover were burnt, The Telegraph reported, 20 km from the festival site, allegedly by Maoists opposed to mining projects revived after nearly a decade. In 2016, the state asked companies that had halted mining -- in the Madia Gond village of Surjagad -- for fear of naxal attacks to...




BIMARU states: Little progress in 2 years, learning crisis for millions of children
Prachi Salve and Alison Saldanha, In 2016, some learning outcomes for 111 million school-age students between ages six and 15 remained mostly unchanged in BIMARU states (Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh), when compared to 2014, after declining for four years, according to the 2016 Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) released in January 2017. If the math and reading skills of these 111 million children -- nearly half of India's 252 million school-age children -- cannot be improved, it is unlikely that India will be able to completely reap the demographic dividend from its working-age population of 869 million by 2020 -- the largest of any country.Here are the highlights of the new report:1) In Uttar Pradesh, only 7.2 per cent of Grade III students in government schools could read a Grade II text; 7.9 per cent could subtract two-digit sums (national average: 25.2 per cent for reading, 27.7 per cent for math)2) In Bihar, 75.2 per cent of Grade VIII children cou...




2016 hottest year on record, says World Meteorological Organisation
Geneva, Jan 19: The year 2016 was the hottest on record, with an average temperature 1.1 degrees Centigrade (2 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than in pre-industrial times, the World Meteorological Organisation said.The WMO said on Wednesday it combined data from NASA, the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the British Meteorological Office and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts to analyze the world temperatures.In a statement, the American space agency said this was the third consecutive year that set a record for high global temperatures since record-keeping began in 1880, Efe news reported."The planet's average surface temperature has risen about 2.0 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere," read the statement.NASA said weather phenomena like El Niño and La Niña also contributed to shor...




If IITs had more Dalit professors, would Aniket Ambhore be alive?
Charu Bahri, In March 2012, Sanjay and Sunita Ambhore, parents of Aniket Ambhore, 19, a first-year electrical engineering student at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT-B), received a letter informing them that their son -- admitted in the Scheduled Caste (SC) quota -- had failed two courses. Concerned, the Ambhores -- Sanjay, a bank manager, is a Dalit; Sunita, a junior-college lecturer, is not -- met one of Aniket's professors, who told them their son could not cope with IIT workload and would be happy in "normal" engineering colleges (with lower standards). He implied, they said, that SC students took up to eight years to complete a course that normally took four years. The professor suggested counselling to help Aniket focus on studies and named anti-depressants he could take.The comments were a shock to Sanjay and Sunita, they said, who were until then mostly unaware that such attitudes existed in higher-education institutions. However, "Aniket did n...




Over 6,000 endangered turtles seized in Uttar Pradesh
New Delhi, Jan 12: In one of the largest catches, third this year, as many as 6,430 endangered soft shell and flap shell turtles were seized in Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday, officials said.The turtles were bound for West Bengal. Previously two such huge seizures were effected in West Bengal where over 1,600 soft shell turtles were caught from the interstate smugglers, who hailed from Uttar Pradesh.The turtles were seized from Amethi district by the state police's elite Special Task Force (STF), and one trafficker was nabbed but two others fled, officials disclosed on Wednesday.On interrogation, the arrested man confessed that he was part of a larger interstate wildlife trafficking network."This is a big network and active in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. We suspect about three dozen people in the supply chain of the UP kingpin. The network is active around the plains of Ghaghra and Sarayu river and their tributaries," Arvind Chaturvedi, who heads the Uttar Pradesh Special Task F...




Retreating monsoon worst in 140 years; TN declares drought as 144 farmers die
Abhishek Waghmare, The Tamil Nadu government declared a drought on January 10, after 144 farmers ended their lives between October and December. As many as 106 farmers were reported to have committed suicide in one month, according to a notice issued by the National Human Rights Commission to the state government on January 5. The retreating northeast monsoon -- usually unnoticed in India owing to the singular importance of the larger southwest monsoon -- in 2016 was the worst-ever over the last 140 years, according to Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) records, since 1876."It is an unprecedented situation," S. Panneerselvam, Professor and Head, Agro Climate Research Centre, Tamil Nadu Agriculture University, Coimbatore, said. "It has severely affected 21 of 32 districts of Tamil Nadu.""Tamil Nadu celebrates Pongal on January the 16th," said Panneerselvam. "It is when the harvest begins, but the yield this time is going to be the worst the st...




India reduces baby deaths but still hasn't met 2012 targets
Rhea Colaco, First, the good news: 37 babies died for every 1,000 that were born in 2015, two better than the government's projections of an infant mortality rate (IMR) of 39 for that year, according to new data released last week. That's a drop of 53 per cent over 25 years.Now, the bad news: The target for IMR reduction was 67 per cent; it has fallen 10 short of the target 27 that India agreed to under the 2015 millennium development goals (MDGs), set in consultation with the United Nations. India has also not achieved the IMR target of 30 that the government itself set for 2012.To get an idea of India's global standing, compare its 2015 IMR average of 37 with IMRs of 35 for 154 low- and middle-income nations; five for 26 north American nations and three for 39 nations in the Euro area.There were wide variations in IMR -- a bellwether of national health -- across India, according to the latest report from the Sample Registration System (SRS) bulletin, with smaller, more literate state...




Only 1 in 100 sexual assaults in Karnataka ends in conviction
Devanik Saha, The New Year's eve sexual attacks against female revellers in Bengaluru may have generated nationwide outrage, but most such cases end up with no punishment: No more than one in 100 cases registered in Karnataka under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) -- "Assault on women with intention to outrage her modesty" -- ended in a conviction in 2015, according to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data.Nationwide, one in 10 such cases ended in conviction, 10 times better than Karnataka's record.In 2015, of 5,112 cases registered under Section 354, only 69 (1.3 per cent) ended in conviction. Of the 9,118 persons arrested in these cases, only 107 (1.2 per cent) were convicted.Across India, 82,422 cases of sexual assault were registered, of which 8,408 (10 per cent) ended in conviction. Of 101,571 persons arrested for these attacks, 11,342 (11 per cent) were convicted.While the number of cases under this section rose by 92 per cent from 42,968 in 2011 to 82,422...




Alcohol abuse increases risk of heart disease
New York, Jan 3: Alcohol addiction can increase the risk of heart attack, atrial fibrillation and congestive heart failure along with other risk factors like diabetes and high blood pressure, a study has found.The findings showed that alcohol abuse was associated with a two-fold increased risk of atrial fibrillation -- irregular, often rapid heart rate causing poor blood flow.There is also a 1.4-fold increased risk of heart attack and a 2.3-fold increased risk of congestive heart failure -- a condition in which the heart does not pump blood well.These increased risks were similar in magnitude to other well-recognised modifiable risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity."We found that even if you have no underlying risk factors, abuse of alcohol still increases the risk of these heart conditions," said lead researcher Gregory M. Marcus, Director at the University of California, San Francisco.Completely eradicating alcohol abuse would result in over 73,000 ...




Demonetisation a 'pseudo war' against corruption: Yogendra Yadav
Saurabh Katkurwar,New Delhi, Dec 15: Terming the decision to devalue high-denomination notes a "pseudo war" against black money, anti-corruption activist Yogendra Yadav criticised the government for seeking to dilute the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA), saying this would weaken the actual battle against corruption and help the corrupt."The point we are trying to make is that it is pseudo war against black money. Not an actual war. It is a very small step in the larger picture of corruption issues in the country. The (amendment) bill will help the corrupt. We are going to pose 10 questions to the government," Yadav told IANS ahead of a demonstration his Swaraj India Party is to hold on Sunday against black money and corruption -- and the weakening of the anti-graft mechanism.The Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, was first brought in 2013 and the Cabinet has approved the changes proposed by a Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha. The changes will dilute and...




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