Despite CIC order, political parties not complying with RTI
In a time of deep political polarisation, refusing to comply with
the RTI Act seems to be one of the few issues that has united national
parties across the ideological spectrum.
Despite a June 2013 ruling from the Central Information Commission
(CIC) that they fall within the ambit of the transparency law, parties
insist that they cannot be considered public authorities under the Act.
Six years on, with another LokSabha election in the offing, the
Supreme Court is set to adjudicate on the issue, with a petition filed
jointly by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and RTI activist
Subhash Chandra Agrawal coming up for hearing on March 26.
“We are in favour of transparency, but we don’t get any government
funding, so how can we be considered public authorities under the Act,” said
D. Raja, RajyaSabha MP. He added that internal discussions of the party
could not be made public. “With regard to finances, we have nothing to hide.
We provide information to the Election Commission and the Income Tax
authorities,” he said.
The issue goes back to October 2010, when ADR filed an RTI request
seeking information on donations and contributions received by political
parties. Of the six parties then recognised by the Election Commission as
national parties, only one, the CPI, accepted that it was a public authority
under the Act.
ADR complained to the CIC, the highest appellate body under the
RTI Act.In June 2013, a full bench of the CIC ruled that the national
parties are public authorities under Section 2(h) of the Act, and directed
them to make voluntary disclosures, appoint public information officers and
respond to RTI applications.
IWDRI workshop on disaster management concludes
The two-day International Workshop on Disaster Resilient
Infrastructure (IWDRI) successfully concluded here . Experts from 33
countries representing a wide variety of development and disaster risk
contexts, multilateral development banks, the United Nations, the private
sector, academia, policy think tanks and other stakeholders participated in
The Workshop identified good practices of disaster risk management
in key infrastructure sectors such as Transport, Energy, Telecom and Water.
It also discussed emerging technologies and nature-based innovation in the
context of climate change and its impact on creation, operation and
maintenance of infrastructure.
The need and practical issues concerning finance and insurance for
infrastructure were also discussed during the workshop.It set the stage for
taking the dialogue on the proposed Coalition for DRI (CDRI) forward at the
The CDRI is envisaged as a knowledge exchange and capacity
development partnership. India had announced the creation of a CDRI soon
after the Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, which was
held in New Delhi in 2016.
Various international agreements have also reiterated the
importance and long-term benefits of investing in resilient infrastructure.
The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR), 2015-2030, which
is the first major agreement of the post-2015 development agenda, identifies
investing in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) for resilience and to build back
better in reconstruction as priorities for action towards reducing disaster
Similarly, Goal 9 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
recognizes disaster resilient infrastructure as a crucial driver of economic
growth and development.
Dollar-Rupee swap decision likely to boost FPI
The RBI’s decision to infuse rupee liquidity through long term
foreign exchange swap, a first of its kind in liquidity management policy,
is likely to boost investments by foreign portfolio investors under the
voluntary retention route (VRR).
The central bank will conduct dollar-rupee buy/sell swap action of
$5 billion for a three-year tenor, on March 26. Such a swap route has been
explored by various emerging market economies as an effective tool to manage
Apart from liquidity infusion, the move will boost the country’s
foreign exchange reserves and is likely to support the exchange rate.
Introduced on March 1 by RBI, the VRR for investments by foreign
portfolio investors (FPIs) is subject to a minimum retention period of three
years from the date of allotment.
According to SoumyaKantiGhosh, Group Chief Economic Adviser, SBI,
the new tool could have several implications, including lowering cost of
hedging for the importers, with forward premia taking a dip.
There is no liquid market for three-year forward cover. Three-year
forward cover is not easily available in the market and here, RBI is
providing that cover and the premium could be lower. And the premium will be
“Also, this move will complement the recently announced VRR route,
wherein the stated objective of the regulator is to attract long-term and
stable FPI investments in the debt market while providing FPIs with
operational flexibility to manage their investments,” Mr. Ghosh said.
Jet airways to cut more domestic flights
After pulling out of Abu Dhabi, Manchester and Hong Kong over the
past 48 hours, Jet Airways on Thursday slashed its domestic schedule by
cutting departures from Delhi to all metro cities, except Mumbai.
A look at the schedules from Delhi showed that, on Thursday, there
were no domestic departures to Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai and Kolkata.
The cash-strapped airline has also stopped accepting bookings for the
Mumbai-Hong Kong flight beyond March 22. The Delhi-Hong Kong service was
The NareshGoyal-led Jet is facing its worst financial crisis, with
debt exceeding $1 billion. The carrier, which is struggling to stay aloft,
has delayed payments to banks, suppliers, and aircraft lessors resulting in
some of them moving to terminate lease deals and take back their aircraft.
At Chennai, 16 departures were cancelled. Of the four flights that
operated, 3 were to Mumbai and one to Paris. From Hyderabad, two flights
were operated to Mumbai, compared with the 6 departures it normally
operates. In Kolkata, 8 out of 10 departures were cancelled, with just one
each to Guwahati and Mumbai taking off.
Flights to airports like Mangalore, Kozhikode, Thiruvananthapuram,
Bhuj, Coimbatore were not being operated, data showed.
Jet’s services to Amsterdam, Paris and London have not been hit.
All flights are available for booking through the entire schedule and are
The United States has asked Pakistan to take sustained, verifiable
and irreversible action against the perpetrators of terrorism and warned the
country that another terror attack on India will prove to be “extremely
Asked about steps being taken by Pakistan after the Balakot
airstrike, the official said the U.S. and the international community needed
to see “irreversible and sustained” action against the terror groups. “It’s
early to make a full assessment,” the official said.
In the recent days, the official said, Pakistan had taken some
“initial” actions. It had frozen the assets of some terror groups and made
some arrests. It had taken administrative control of some of the JeM
facilities. “But we clearly need to see more. We need to see irreversible
action,” the official said.
Meanwhile,The eight-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)
on Wednesday offered to smoothen a bilateral dialogue between India and
Pakistan so that the two countries can resolve their differences, following
last month’s terror attack in Kashmir.
At his first press conference after taking over as the SCO
Secretary-General, Vladimir Norov offered “mediation,” to support direct
talks between both countries. He said the SCO member-states were ready “to
offer mediation as there is an intention [by India and Pakistan] to resolve
the differences in a bilateral format”.
EU agrees to extend Brexit beyond March deadline
European Union leaders have agreed on a plan to delay the Article
50 process, postponing Brexit beyond 29 March. The United Kingdom will be
offered a delay until May 22, if MPs approve the withdrawal deal negotiated
with the European Union next week.
After a meeting, the EU said Britain could postpone its departure
until May 22 if the UK Parliament approves Prime Minister Theresa May's
divorce deal with the bloc next week.
In a press conference with European Commission President
Jean-Claude Juncker, European Council President Donald Tusk said that Mrs
May has accepted an offer of two options for short delays to the date of
Britain's withdrawal from the European Union.
Meanwhile, a petition started just on Wednesday, following her
comments, calling for Article 50 to be revoked and for the U.K. to remain in
the EU rapidly gained thousands of signatories, with the website crashing at
one point because of the activity. By early afternoon on Thursday,
signatories had crossed 9,00,000. The petitions committee said that nearly
2,000 signatures were being added each minute.
Public pressure for the government to either revoke Article 50 or
hold a referendum has continued to grow amid concern that the conditions
under which the EU are set to offer the U.K. an extension to Article 50 to
avoid crashing out of the EU are impossible to fulfil.
::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::
Indigenous bridge inducted into the Army
In another inspring example of indigenisation of defence
equipment, 5 Metre Short Span Bridge was formally handed over to the Indian
Army in a ceremony at the Talegaon facility of Larsen & Toubro Limited.
The Bridge is indigenously designed & developed and is the result
of close coordination between the Corps of Engineers and the DRDO laboratory
at Pune R&DE (Engineers).
The equipment has been manufactured by Larsen & Toubro Limited and
has been delivered three months ahead of schedule. All stakeholders have put
in concerted efforts to overcome challenges and realise the ‘Make in India’
initiative of the government, which aims to ensure self sufficiency in our
The Bridge will meet the important requirement of providing
mobility to own forces by speedy establishment of bridges. The Bridge is one
of the numerous indigenous projects of Corps of Engineers which have made
significant progress and are nearing induction and will soon join the units
of Corps of Engineers.
Olympic torch for 2020 unveiled
Organisers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics today unveiled a
cherry-blossom shaped torch for the Games as the city prepares for the famed
flower season to begin in coming days.
The top part of the torch is shaped in the traditional emblem of
the sakura, or cherry blossom using the same cutting-edge technology as in
production of Japan's bullet trains, the organisers said.
Fukushima was chosen as the starting point for the Olympic torch
relay. The passing of the flame is scheduled to start on March 26, 2020, and
the torch will head south to the sub-tropical island of Okinawa the starting
point for the 1964 Tokyo Games relay before returning north and arriving in
the Japanese capital on July 10.