Gandhinagar, Thursday: Impressed by Gujarat’s ‘development model’, Kolkata-based Ladies Study Group on a four-day visit to the State today extended invite to Chief Minister Narendra Modi to visit their city and make detailed presentation on Gujarat Government’s proactive policies, experience in various fields and unique success stories.
A 15-member delegation of the Group, led by Ms. Shubha Kanoria, which paid a courtesy call on Mr. Modi here, requested him to give some glimpses of his working style, some instances of ‘political will’ to the common man outside Gujarat, too. During their interactive session, she said, the nation is waiting for the type leadership qualities that are exuded by Mr. Modi.
The group was particularly impressed by an atmosphere of visible peace and prosperity, women’s empowerment, electoral reforms rising above vote bank politics, skill development of youth, water conservation, tourism development, good governance, people’s participation, patriotism, woman and child welfare, pride and esteem in the state.
Chief Minister’s Additional Chief Secretary K. Kailashnathan and Secretary Arvind Sharma were present during the meeting.
That Dalits are not even allowed entry into temples in some pockets of Gujarat has not stopped the Narendra Modi government from coming up with the revolutionary idea of training 'safai kamdars' or manual scavengers in karma-kand.
Swadesh Daily's insight:
GANDHINAGAR: That Dalits are not even allowed entry into temples in some pockets of Gujarat has not stopped the Narendra Modi government from coming up with the revolutionary idea of training 'safai kamdars' or manual scavengers in karma-kand (Hindu religious rituals).
The move was endorsed by the state budget presented in the assembly earlier this week—a couple of days after BSP chiefMayawati announced her prime-ministerial ambitions, throwing her hat into a ring already occupied by Modi's.
Gujarat's social justice department has proposed a new provision in the budget to train safai kamdars in Vedic religious rituals, a Brahmin monopoly till now. A provision of Rs 22.50 lakh has been made for the programme in the budget for 2013-14.
The move is aimed at helping Modi, himself belonging to an OBC caste, gain greater support among backward castes across the country. It is learnt that Modi plans to attend marriage ceremonies solemnized by priests from the most oppressed of all Dalit communities. Under the proposed scheme, safaikamdars and their children will be trained for karma-kand at reputable institutions such as SolaBhagvatVidyapith and Somnath Sanskrit University. "The government will ensure reasonable employment through this training," said an official. Dalit-rights activists have welcomed the decision. "The move is reformist," said ManjulaPradeep of Dalit-rightsorganisationNavsarjan. "We appreciate it. The state government should seriously address issues such as untouchability, ban on the entry of Dalits in temples, social and economic boycott, forced migration and manual scavenging."
Recently, about 100 Dalit families of Galsana village in Ahmedabad were prevented from entering the village temple, leading to clashes between communities. In September, the state government's role was criticized when three Dalit youths were killed in police firing in Thangadh in Surendranagar.
Ten commandos of Gujarat police are currently facing departmental inquiry after being debarred from the chief minister Narendra Modi’s security team in the past two years.
Swadesh Daily's insight:
AHMEDABAD: Ten commandos of Gujarat police are currently facing departmental inquiry after being debarred from the chief minister Narendra Modi's security team in the past two years. They were kicked out because they could not kick the habit of consuming tobacco!
"Just recently, a commando manning one of the look-out towers at the chief minister's bungalow was caught chomping gutkha while on duty," said deputy commissioner of police, BK Jha, who is in-charge of CM's security cover.
Virtues required to qualify for deputation in the CM security team go even beyond the most eligible bridegroom! Besides , a good professional track record, cops handpicked for the assignment are not expected to have any vices like smoking, chewing tobacco and consuming alcohol. The last one is strictly taboo in 'dry' Gujarat where policemen are often found drunk.
CM's security has less than 100 men plucked from different cadres of the police and paramilitary forces. The best men apply for the positions as it is considered a prestigious assignment to guard someone who is perhaps highest on the terror hit-list .
However, in their enthusiasm, many personnel lie about their habits, which later lands them in trouble. "Such officials are suspended with immediate effect from the CM security and face departmental inquiry," said the senior official.
Personnel in the CM security usually follow eighthour shifts to ensure that they are not overworked. On outdoor assignments, however, they have to often stand on their feet for over 24 hours.
Reasons for not allowing any window to take a smoke break are obvious. "Securing a CM is a job of high concentration. We cannot have craving get the better of concentration. Every second matters in securing high profile people" .
For the Indian Air Force, the AugustaWestland controversy could not have come at a more inopportune time. The Air Force plans to induct 300-350 aircraft, including combat jets, transport aircraft and helicopters over the next decade.
Swadesh Daily's insight:
For the Indian Air Force, the AugustaWestland controversy could not have come at a more inopportune time.
The Air Force plans to induct 300-350 aircraft, including combat jets, transport aircraft and helicopters over the next decade. But the scandal that has erupted around supply of 12 VVIP helicopters is likely to cast a shadow on its plans, at least in the short run.
This is for the first time an Air Chief's name has cropped up in scam of any kind. Whether Air Chief Marshal (retired) SP Tyagi has received the bribe mentioned in the Italian prosecutors report will have to be proved after a thorough investigation both in Italy and India. In absence of any concrete proof I would like to withhold any judgement although Air Chief Marshal (retired) Tyagi has himself demanded a speedy probe and denied any wrongdoing.
The controversy has, however, stunned the Air Force fraternity.
Former Air Force chief PV Naik, speaking to me from Pune this afternoon, said as much. He pointed out that the Air Force has never been involved in any scam before. "I think all the IAF deals are very transparent. All procurement is signed through ministry of defence, finance etc," he pointed out.
Although the Defence Ministry has not yet made it clear if the Rs.3750 crore deal with the AugustaWestland company will be scrapped or the deliveries of the remaining nine helicopters will be delayed indefinitely, Air Chief Marshal (retired) Naik was clear that any delay will be costly in terms of operational requirements.
"The helicopters should come to the Air Force as soon as possible. The IAF really needs it. The deal should not be delayed, according to me," he said. The probe can go on, he added.
Later, talking to different sources in the government, I have tried to piece together the entire sequence of events in this long drawn out contract process. This is what I have managed to learn so far. There could be gaps in information though.
In the year 2000, aware that Mi-8 VVIP helicopter fleet had only 10 years to go before being phased out, IAF suggests to the PMO and the Defence Ministry that there is a need to look for suitable and modern replacement. The Mi-8s are typical Russian product: sturdy, dependable but with very little comfort level to offer. (Air Chief Marshal AY Tipnis was the Air Chief then)
A request for proposal (RFP) is floated. Six companies respond. One of the key requirements in that RFP was the competing helicopters must be able to fly at altitudes around 6,000 metres with full load.
After trials, only one helicopter, Eurocopter's EC 225, was able to fly at that altitude.
In 2003, the IAF sent its evaluation report to the PMO. Brajesh Mishra, National Security Adviser (NSA) and Principal Secretary to Atal Behari Vajpayee, asked the Special Protection (SPG) that guards the VVIPs for its comments. The SPG apparently said the EC-225 was not suitable because its cabin height was too short (at 1.39 metres) and that neither the VIPs nor the SPG personnel would be able to stand upright inside such a short cabin.
Mr Mishra then wrote to ACM S Krishnaswamy who had taken over from Tipnis in 2001 expressing concern on two points: A single vendor situation had arisen because of the specification that said the helicopters must be able to fly at altitudes around 6,000 metres and that SPG's inputs were not taken. Having seen that letter briefly, I remember a couple of lines. It said, in parts: "It is unfortunate that SPG wasn't taken on board... I suggest you and the defence secretary work out the specifications in consultation with the SPG..." Mr Mishra's point was the competition must be broadened and SPG's requirements must be met.
So, the Air Force, in consultation with the SPG, drew up the entire Air Staff Qualitative Requirement (ASQR) once again. That was in 2003 itself. The new specifications said the helicopters must be able to fly at an altitude of 4,500 metres and that its cabin must be at least 1.80 m in height.
Meanwhile, Air Marshal Tyagi took over as Air Chief in 2004. However, it took the Air Force Headquarters and the Defence Ministry's acquisition wing another three years to issue a fresh RFP. That was in2006.
The NDA government had been ousted. UPA was in power. The new RFP which went by the specifications finalised in 2003 was issued to six different vendors when Pranab Mukherjee was the Defence Minister.
Three companies - makers of Mi-172, Sikorsky which made the S-92 helicopters and Augusta Westland's AWA101 - responded to the RFP.
Meanwhile, the MoD had put in place a new concept - the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) - which lays down stringent rules and regulations. Under the DPP, all companies that bid for contracts above Rs. 100 crore have to sign an integrity pact which binds the companies to give an undertaking that no bribes would be paid or agents would be used in the contracts.
The Russian company that makes Mi-172 withdrew from the competition at an early stage refusing to sign the integrity contract!
That left AugutaWestland and Sikorsky in the race. By now this was late 2007.
Fali H Major, himself an ace helicopter pilot, had meanwhile taken over as the Air Chief after ACM Tyagi superannuated in 2007.
The evaluations and trials of S-92 and AW-101 began and continued over the next couple of years (2008-09). According to Air Force sources, S-92 was found to be non-compliant on four counts:
1. It could not reach 15,000 feet without maximum power
2. Its 'hover out of ground effect' wasn't sufficient
3. Its drift down altitude was not meeting the requirement
4. Missile airborne warning system wasn't up to the mark
AugustaWestland with its three engines was a bonus, according Air Force test pilots since one engine failure still meant it had two to fall back upon.
Sometime in 2009, Air HQ sent its recommendation to the Defence Ministry and after all going through the stringent financial and technical requirements mandatory under the DPP, a contract was signed in February 2010.
By this time, ACM Naik was the Air Chief.
The first of the AW-101 arrived in India in late 2012. Two more followed in quick succession.
Even before the deliveries had started, reports had begun appearing in Indian media about some underhand dealing.
Early this week, the manure hit the fan and by now everyone is an expert on who has got what and how much money has changed hands.
Politics has also begun on the matter.
Over the next few days, the controversy will remain in the headlines. Then we will discover something new to outrage over and move on.
Whether or not a former Air Chief received a kickback will remain a matter of investigation.
One is just hoping that this episode (and the last word is yet to be heard on this) will not further slow down India's overall defence acquisition process.
Within hours of the arrest of Giuseppe Orsi, CEO of Italian aerospace firm Finmeccanica, on corruption charges, the defence ministry asked the CBI to probe India’s Rs 3,760-crore deal with the company for 12 VVIP helicopters.
ROME/NEW DELHI: Italian police arrested the chief executive of aerospace and defence giant Finmeccanica on Tuesday for corruption and embezzlement in relation to alleged bribes given to the Indian government, Italian media reported.
Giuseppe Orsi had been under investigation for months and had denied any wrongdoing in the deal for the sale of 12 AgustaWestland helicopters to India in 2010. The magistrate in the case also issued an order for the head of AgustaWestland, Bruno Spagnolini, to be put under house arrest.
Two suspected intermediaries in the bribes who reside in Switzerland have also been targeted with extradition requests, the reports said. The price of shares in Finmeccanica fell by slightly more 9.13 percent in morning trading on the Milan stock exchange to 4.236 euros. Finmeccanica is not the only Italian industrial giant under investigation.
Prosecutors last week announced they were looking at Paolo Scaroni, chief executive of energy major ENI, over allegations of bribes paid to Algerian officials to win contracts there. Italy's third largest bank, Banca Monte deiPaschidi Siena, has also been shaken by a series of investigations over mismanagement that has forced it to seek a public bailout.
India Tuesday ordered an inquiry into reports of alleged bribery of government officials by Finmeccanica after the Italian aerospace giant's chief was said to have been arrested by Italian police. "A probe by the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) has been ordered and further details will be given soon," Indian defence ministry spokesman Sitanshu Kar told AFP.
The announcement came after Italian media reported earlier Tuesday that police had arrested the chief executive of Finmeccanica for corruption and embezzlement in relation to alleged bribes given to the Indian government.Finmeccanica chief executive Giuseppe Orsi had been under investigation for months and had denied any wrongdoing in the deal for the sale of 12 AgustaWestland helicopters to India in 2010.
The magistrate in the case also issued an order for the head of AgustaWestland, Bruno Spagnolini, to be put under house arrest. The size of the helicopter deal was valued at $748 million last November in a statement given to the Indian parliament by the government. The delivery of the choppers was scheduled for between January and July of this year.
Two suspected intermediaries in the bribes who reside in Switzerland have also been targeted with extradition requests, the reports said. Separately, Finmeccanica issued an emailed statement from Rome saying that its operations "will continue as usual". It said it was issuing the statement "with reference to the precautionary measures issued today towards the chairman and CEO of Finmeccanica and the CEO of the controlled Company AgustaWestland". In addition, the company said it "expresses support" for Orsi and hoped "that clarity is established quickly, whilst reaffirming its confidence in the judges".
News: Baba Ramdev India Independent 4 June Anna Hazare Rahul Gandhi Sonia Gandhi Priyanka Gandhi Robert Vadra Priyanka Vadra India World How India Against Corruption Fight BJP NDA congress world India ISI pakistan agent spice Electronic Voting Machine Tampering froud china supreme court india world Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena BSKS Yasin Malik separatist dance bar yasin malik
An American lawmaker has asked the US government to "support openly and fully" the vision and ideas of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, observing that because of his extraordinary leadership his state is now an economic powerhouse of the...
Swadesh Daily's insight:
Washington: An American lawmaker has asked the US government to "support openly and fully" the vision and ideas of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, observing that because of his extraordinary leadership his state is now an economic powerhouse of the country.
"With such accomplishment, it is my sincere hope that the United States will take a new look at Gujarat and support more openly and fully the ideas of Mr Modi as he works for the betterment of the world's economy by creating jobs at home and abroad for purposes of improving the lives of people across the globe," Congressman F N Faleomavaega said in his speech on floor of the US House of Representatives on Wednesday.
A non-voting delegate to the US House of Representatives, Mr Faleomavaega represents America Samoa in the US Congress and is a Democratic Ranking Member to the House Foreign Affairs Sub Committee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment.
He is the only American Congressman to have come out in open support of the Gujarat Chief Minister in the 113th Congress.
The Republican Congressman from Illinois, who supported Mr Modi in the previous 112th Congress, lost the November Congressional elections.
"Shri Modi's vision is rare. His leadership is remarkable. It is because of his extraordinary leadership, Gujarat is now an economic powerhouse with companies like Ford and General Motors also setting up factories in a move that promises to strengthen US-India trade and investment," Mr Faleomavaega
Middlemen, girlfriends, family connections and of course hard cash - AgustaWestland representatives stopped at nothing to reach former air chief SP Tyagi and swing the chopper deal in the company’s favour, documents filed by Italian prosecutors say.
a key middleman asserting that he met Tyagi “6/7 times”, which includes meetings at the offices of the former air chief’s cousins and at the Bangalore airshow when Tyagi was still in office.
This contradicts Tyagi’s claim that he met a middleman just once — and that too after he retired. The former air chief, who has also denied receiving bribe to push the Rs. 3,760-crore VVIP chopper deal, did not respond to phone calls and text messages.
His cousins — Julie, Dosca and Sandeep — have been identified by the Italian prosecutors as the key go-betweens who helped Finmeccanica win the contract to supply 12 helicopters to the Indian Air Force. AgustaWestland is a unit of defence group Finmeccanica.
A sum of around Rs. 70 lakh was paid in bribe to the “Tyagi family”, the prosecutors have said.
The remaining money was transferred through a service contract facilitated by a company identified as IDS India.
Conversations between middlemen — transcribed in the prosecution’s documents submitted to the court — indicate that their girlfriends were involved as they tried to liaise with the Tyagi cousins, especially Julie, who was given the money.
“The money was put in the hands of Julie in cash during trips to India,” a middleman identified by the prosecutors only as ADR is quoted as saying. “The agreement was with the Tyagi family but the money was handed over only to Julie.”
The “relationship” between the Tyagis and the go-betweens used by AgustaWestland started in 2001, when Carlo Gerosa — a middleman — met Julie at a wedding in Lugano, Italy. It was in 2000-01 that IAF talked about need for VVIP choppers.
The documents suggest that when AgustaWestland felt that the contours of the tender for the VVIP choppers would rule them out as their helicopters couldn’t fly at the height (18,000 ft) initially stipulated by the IAF, the company turned to Gerosa and his boss, Ralph Haschkhe, who knew the Tyagi cousins.
Between 2005 and 2007, the middlemen met SP Tyagi at least six times: twice at the offices of his cousins, and at least once at the Bangalore airshow which is held every two years. “He was still in uniform and came to visit the Finmeccanica booth,” ADR is quoted as saying.
The BJP today said it has been raising the financial irregularities in the VVIP helicopter deal with an Italian company for the past one year and insisted that the Congress-led UPA government give an explanation about the reported anomalies.
The BJP in Gujarat seems to be unstoppable with the party today posting impressive wins in civic elections by winning 47 of the 76 municipalities for which elections were held.
Swadesh Daily's insight:
The BJP in Gujarat seems to be unstoppable with the party on Tuesday posting impressive wins in civic elections by winning 47 of the 76 municipalities for which elections were held.
Out of 75 municipalities, the results of which were declared on Tuesday by the State Election
Out of 76 municipalities where election were declared, Halvad in Surendranagar and Kutiyana in Porbandar were won by BJP unopposed and polling was held for 74 nagar palikas or municipalities on Sunday.
Counting for the Bhachau municipality was suspended as the seals of some of the EVMs were found to be broken and the election commission said that counting there would be held later.
Out of the 75 municipalities, the BJP has won 47, the Congress in nine, independent candidates have emerged as a majority block in nine municipalities while no party could manage majority in 10 municipalities.
BJP has won 1,142 out of 1,905 seats across all municipalities while Congress won 442 seats and independent won 290 seats.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) also made inroads by winning 13 and 16 seats respectively, whereas Samajwadi Party (SP) has won 2 seats.
Gujarat Parivartan Party led by Keshubhai Patel claimed that 54 of the independents who won were its candidates.
"If the SEC had provided us a common symbol in the municipal elections, we would have been able to win more seats," party general secretary Gordhan Zadafia said.
Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, elated by the victory, coming it within couple of months after victory in the assembly elections, said, "Thankful to people of Gujarat for the continued faith in us. Congrats to BJP workers for major win in municipalities polls".
State BJP spokesperson IK Jadeja said that besides retaining all the Municipalities where BJP was in power, the party has snatched 10 from the ruling Congress party.
Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee president Arjun Modhwadia said, "Congress fought on party symbol in 57 of the 75 municipalities while elsewhere, it contested the polls by forming nagrik samitis. Actually, Congress has won 19 and lost another 10 by only 2 or 3 seats. The BJP fought on party symbol and misused the state machinery during the polls".
The Central Bureau of Investigation will investigate a 4,000-crore helicopter deal between the government and Italian defence giant Finmeccanica, whose CEO was arrested today for allegedly offering bribes in India to land the contract, according to...
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its political wing BJP on Tuesday demanded strong action against Kashmiri separatist leader Yasin Malik, who was seen with Jamat-ud-Dawah (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed during a protest in Islamabad on Sunday against Parliament attack conspirator Afzal Guru's hanging.
RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav said merely impounding the passport of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chairman for his anti-India stand taken in Pakistan would not be adequate action against him as he shared the dais with the 26/11 Mumbai attack mastermind.
"Hurriyat Conference and Yasin Malik have been involved in the anti-national activities. It is a pro-separatist and pro-terrorist organisation. The matter has come up about his meeting with Hafiz Saeed... Government should take action... it must take very strong measures to send a message. Seizing the passport is not enough," Madhav said.
He was reacting to Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde's remark that the government might consider impounding Malik's passport.
Reacting to Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah voicing his party's dissent on the execution of Guru, the RSS leader said, "The statement of Omar Abdullah is very unfortunate. He has appeared in favour of separatists. It is absolutely shocking and unfortunate that a person holding constitutional position is giving such statement. It is highly un-recommended to give such statement by a chief minister."
Senior BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu said, "I don't know why the government is not serious about it. He (Malik) met him (Saeed) seven times. It is an objectionable matter. The Indian government should take action."
"It is objectionable that an Indian leader goes to Pakistan and shares dais with a terrorist. The matter is very serious... The government of India should make a clarification on this issue. We demand a detailed response from the government," he added.
Slamming the home minister for his "saffron terror" remark, Naidu said, "The statement given by Sushilkumar Shinde is irresponsible. He has called terror as saffron terror. Terror groups celebrated the statement in Pakistan. He should offer unconditional apology failing which the prime minister should dismiss him. We have decided that we will not attend any meeting called by the home minister as a leader of the House. We will carry on our agitation. We will highlight the issue inside and out of Parliament."
Malik sharing dais with Saeed is a grave issue: Congress
The Congress also criticised Malik for joining Saeed in protests in Pakistan. The party's media cell in-charge, Jagdambika Pal, sought action against him from the government.
"It is unfortunate that he shared stage with Saeed. He (Malik) is an Indian citizen. It should be investigated. He has always indulged in anti-national activities. We should object to Pakistan government too," Pal told media persons.
"Home minister has already said that 'we will look into the matter'. He wanted to destabilise Jammu and Kashmir. Proper investigation should be done that how his involvement his," he said.
Malik went to Pakistan on valid passport: PDP
Reacting to the developments, PDP leader Nizamuddin Bhat said in Jammu, "He has gone there on a valid passport. When we say anything about them, they don't agree. You have a stated policy here in the state. There are political considerations also. It is between the government of India and the state government."
"We will reiterate our step.. for national interest it is not good. We, the people of Kashmir, are sufferers. We question government of India, what do they want to do. What message they want to send," Bhat said.
Muslim cleric criticises Malik
Even Lucknow-based Muslim cleric Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahali criticised Malik for his protest in Pakistan.
"The situations arising after the execution are unfortunate. They way Yasin Malik shared stage with him (Saeed) is a serious issue. Government should enquire into the matter. I think it is a serious issue," Mahali said.
"The memories of 26/11 are still fresh in the minds of people. It gives a wrong message at international level also. If the family members were informed then it would not have become such a big issue," the cleric said, holding the Centre responsible for Malik's protest as he also advocated allowing the family of Guru to perform rituals at his grave in Tihar Central Jail.
India today executed Mohammad Afzal Guru, a convict in the 2001 terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament. Supporters of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa Islamic organization shout slogans during an anti-India demonstration to condemn the hanging of Mohammad...
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