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Parliament passes GST Bill, PM Modi says it will end tax terrorism

NEW DELHI: The long-delayed GST Constitution bill was passed by Parliament on Monday, marking a


India Inc hails passage of GST Bill, hopes for April 1 rollout


  1. GST will bring in much-needed transparency and higher investments in the coming years: CII director general Chandrajit Banerjee
  2. It will enhance production possibilities in manufacturing sector and expand the growth trajectory of services sector: PHD Chamber of Commerce president Mahesh Gupta

NEW DELHI: Hailing the passage of

GST Bill in Lok Sabha , India Inc on Monday said it sees a possibility of rollout of the indirect tax reform from April 1, ushering in more investments and boosting the country’s economic growth.

“With the passage of the bill, it is expected that implementation of GST with effect from April 1, 2017, will become a reality,” CII director general Chandrajit Banerjee said.

“GST will bring in

much-needed transparency and higher investments in the coming years and we hope that a few percentage points to India’s GDP will be added through higher tax revenue and investments,” he added.

GST, billed as the biggest economic reform since 1991, will replace a raft of different state and local taxes with a single unified value added tax system to turn the country into world’s biggest single market.

The bill has to be ratified by at least 16 states in 30 days after it is passed by Parliament.

“It will enhance production possibilities in manufacturing sector and expand the growth trajectory of services sector, attract large chunk of foreign investments and create millions of new employment opportunities in the economy,” PHD Chamber of Commerce president Mahesh Gupta said.

Once implemented, GST will subsume various taxes including excise, services tax, octroi and other levies, and the proceeds will be shared between the Centre and the states.

Under the new regime, goods would be taxed at the point of consumption, instead of the goods being taxed multiple times at different rates.

Assocham Secretary General D S Rawat termed it as a “big bang reform” and expressed the confidence that the run-up to the real implementation would be smooth.

However, engineering exporters’ body EEPC India Chairman TS Bhasin said the implementation of GST should be done in a manner to avoid procedural difficulties for exporters.

“Instead of first paying the taxes and then claiming credit for the same, the proposed enabling GST law should exempt exporters from the taxation net since the country does not want to export taxes,” he suggested.

GST, which was first proposed a decade back, is seen as potentially transformative for India’s economy, adding as much as 2 percentage points to the GDP while also improving the ease of doing business and encourage investment in manufacturing.

It is also expected to result in greater tax compliance, boosting government revenues.
historic step for tax reforms+
. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said GST was “crucial” for ending tax terrorism besides reducing corruption and black money.

The GST will make consumer the “king”,


PM Narendra Modi speaks on GST in Lok Sabha: Top quotes

1.It is our democracy and the maturity of political leaders that we have been able to pass the GST Bill in one voice2.PM Modi spells out the 5Ms of economic progress: Man, Machine, Material, Money and Minute3.Lok Tantra (democracy) is not just a game of mandate, it is also a journey of forming consensus4.‘Rashtraneeti’ is bigger than ‘Rajneeti’5.GST will send across a message that ‘Consumer is the King’6.GST will bring “freedom from tax terrorism”7.‘Faith’ very important to strengthen federal structure of India. GST will act as a catalyst in this regard8.

What is GST? PM Modi explains:

GST: Great Step by Team India

GST: Great Step towards Transformation

GST: Great Step towards Transparency

9.It is a win for democratic ethos of India and a victory for everyone10.It is true that someone gives birth while someone else nurtures it. GST is not the victory of a particular political partyPM Modi said+
thanking all parties for their support to the Bill.

The Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill, which was passed by the Lok Sabha in May 2015, was taken up again by the Lower House to approve the changes made in it by the Rajya Sabha last week.

The government had moved six official amendments, including scrapping of 1 per cent additional tax, to the bill which were approved by the Upper House.

After a six-hour debate, the Lower House passed the bill with all the 443 members present voting in favour after AIADMK members staged a walkout while opposing the measure.


PM Narendra Modi’s 5Ms for economic development

NEW DELHI: “Man, Machine, Material, Money and Minute,” these are the 5 Ms that can propel our economy and take it forward on the path of development, PM Modi said while discussing the GST Bill in Lok Sabha on Monday.

The economic development would be ushered in by the GST as the states in our country are not self sufficient but are interdependent and GST will boost economy of under developed States, the PM said.

Reiterating his colleagues, the PM said that consumer is the king and that GST would give the consumers “freedom from tax terrorism”. GST Bill is designed in such a way that the commodities used by the poor are outside the purview of taxation,” the PM added.

The GST was passed by the Rajya Sabha last week. While the Lok Sabha passed the GST Constitutional Amendment Bill in May 2015, the separate amendments to some its clauses that were proposed in the Upper House, will now be ratified in the Lower House.

The GST is a uniform indirect tax+ levied on goods and services that will be levied across the country and replace all the various taxes that are currently levied on goods and services.PM Modi+
, while intervening in the debate, said the passage of the Bill reflected “maturity” of the Indian democracy as such a crucial legislation was approved with consensus rather than on the basis of numbers.

He hailed it as a “great step by team India” that will help transform the economy, bring in transparency and bring in the system of “one country one tax”.

He emphasised that the passage of the bill by Parliament was not a victory of any party or government but was everybody’s victory as it highlighted the success of the democratic ethos of the country.

Jaitley, while replying to the debate, said the tax rate under the GST regime will be kept at “minimum workable rate” as no state government can annoy its people by having a higher rate. He said the rate will be decided by the GST Council.

He, however, virtually ruled out an assurance that the GST legislation will not be brought as Money Bill, a key demand of opposition Congress.

The bill will now have to be ratified by at least 16 of the 29 state assemblies, which the Prime Minister hoped would be done at the earliest.

“A memorable day for our democracy. Today we have taken a historic step in the journey to free the nation from the menace of tax terrorism,” the Prime Minister tweeted later.

“GST will benefit the consumer and small business, which are our nation’s strength. Due to GST transparency will be enhanced. Its a win-win,” he added.

Describing the passage of the bill as victory of democracy, Modi, while speaking in Lok Sabha, coined the GST in a new manner — ‘Great Step by Team India’, ‘Great Step towards Transformation’, ‘Great Step towards Transparency’.

Noting that the GST bill had been firmed up after thorough “churning of ideas”, he expressed happiness that it was being passed through an unprecedented consensus.

Modi said he had held consultations with his predecessor Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi on the issue, giving equal importance to Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha.

“Rashtra Niti (national interest) is above Raj Niti (politics),” he said, adding GST will prove to be a catalyst in strengthening trust between the Centre and the states as everything will be transparent.

“I thank all political parties, as also state governments run by different parties. We are taking such a decision … we have reached here after churning in Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, 29 states, their representatives and 90 parties. We are putting a stamp on the final decision,” he said.

Underlining that the development marks the “recognition of One India” and strengthens this concept, he said, “We are aligning ourselves with new taxation regime …. GST is a new ‘moti’ (bead) in this ‘maala’ (necklace).”

He said his government’s focus is economic and educational empowerment of the poor and mitigation of poverty.

Modi asserted that the GST will benefit mainly those states which are considered backward and address the problem of imbalanced development.

He acknowledged that manufacturing states will suffer losses but said they will be compensated.

“August 8th marks a crucial step towards freedom from tax terrorism,” the Prime Minister said, while recalling that this was the day in 1942 when Mahatma Gandhi had sounded the bugle of ‘Quit India’ which marked a major step towards the country’s Independence.

“GST can’t be seen as a victory of a party or government. It is the victory for democratic ethos of India and a victory for everyone,” he said, while noting that the measure was being supported by all parties, irrespective of different ideologies.

The Prime Minister said the new indirect taxation regime, which will subsume 7-13 taxes, will help end corruption as traders will be compelled to give proper bills and the consumer will be the “king”.

It will also help reduce the problem of black money and lead to generation of jobs by benefitting the small traders and entrepreneurs, he said.

Talking about benefits of GST, Modi said it will usher in simplification of procedures like filling of forms and bring about uniforminity of tax rates and processing.

Responding to Congress’ contention that GST was its idea being implemented by the NDA government, the Prime Minister acknowledged that all political parties and previous governments had contributed to making of the bill.

In this context, he quipped, “janam koi de, lalan palan koi kare. Krishna ko janam kisne diya, bada kisne kiya? (somebody may give birth, but someone else may nurture. Who gave birth to Lord Krishna and who brought him up?)”

At the same time, Modi said, “we do not have ‘guroor’ (arrogance) that his bill is the perfect one” even though “so many brains have made an effort which will have results”.

“It (making of GST) is a result of churning but it is true that we cannot be perfect and it cannot be ensured that in future there would not be any drawback,” he said.

Underlining that everyone dreams for “Ek Bharat Shreshtra Bharat’ (One India, Great India),” he said, “this is not just a taxation system but all states and the Centre will develop a system where small or big accept it.”

He expressed happiness that GST bill was not allowed to be politicised and rather became a national matter.

Rahul welcomes passage of GST Bill

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi said the passage of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) constitutional amendment bill is a good step for the country.

“I think it is a good step for the country,” Gandhi told reporters after the Lok Sabha unanimously passed the 122nd constitutional amendment bill, paving way for the implementation of the GST.

He further said the differences over the GST between the government and the Congress have narrowed down but the issue of 18 per cent cap is worrisome as it concerns inflation.

“We had earlier three major differences on the GST. We worked out the differences. There is one issue which is the 18 per cent issue and we feel that it is a very important issue. Because we are worried about inflation resulting from no cap. So now that’s discussion (will be) in December,” he said.

The constitutional amendment bill is an enabling legislation and the government will come out with a CGST and IGST Bill in the Winter Session of Parliament for implementing new tax regime which will subsume various indirect taxes.

Don’t attack dalits. If you want to fire bullets, shoot me: PM Modi

MEDAK: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday inaugurated several development projects in Telangana.

He laid the foundation stone for the Rs 10,598.98 crore National Thermal Power Corporation’s (NTPC) 1,600 MW Telangana Super Thermal Power Project (Phase I) in Ramagundam city.

Speaking on the occassion, PM Modi said “Telangana is just a 2-year-old state, yet it has actually been able to fulfil the expectations of the people,” PM Modi said. “Whenever CM KCR has actually met me, he has actually spoken about the state’s development and about water related issues.”

Stressing on the need for ‘cooperative federalism,’ Modi said “There was a time when dialogue between Centre and states was pretty tense but now, both work together for development.”

The event was likewise attended by Telangana Governor ESL Narasimhan, chief minister K Chandrashekhar Rao, power minster Piyush Goyal, labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya, Telangana energy minister G Jagadish Reddy and NTPC’s chairman and managing director Gurdeep Singh.

NTPC is set to establish the project in Telengana, India’s 29th state, in two phases — 1600 MW (2x800MW) in Phase I and 2400 MW (3×800 MW) in Phase II.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi likewise launched phase-1 of ‘Mission Bhagiratha’, a flagship project of Telangana government aimed at providing piped drinking water to every household in the state.

Modi likewise unveiled plaques to mark the laying of foundation stone for the 152-km Manoharabad- Kothapalli brand-new railway line (connecting Hyderabad and Karimnagar), Ramagundam, Kaloji Narayana Rao University of Health Sciences, Warangal and revival of Ramagundam fertiliser plant in Karimnagar district.

Rio: India register 1st win in an Olympic hockey match after 12 years

Brand-new DELHI: An otherwise disappointing opening day for India at the Rio Olympics found lift from the men’s hockey team, who beat Ireland 3-2 at the Olympic Hockey Centre in Deodoro Olympic Park, the second largest venue cluster of the Rio Games.

India’s fourth penalty of the first quarter was converted into a goal by VR Raghunath, who made it 1-0 in the 15th minute. With less than three minutes left in the second quarter, Rupinder Pal Singh put India up 2-0 with a thundering penalty corner strike. Ireland pulled things back in the last minute of the third quarter with a goal from John Jermyn, but their celebrations were short lived as Rupinder scored again with another stunning PC strike.

With five minutes to go, Ireland reduced the deficit to one goal thanks to Conor Harte. As the clock ticked down, India staved off Ireland’s charge to emerge winners. Clubbed with Ireland, Germany, Netherlands, Argentina and Canada in Group B, the Indian men’s team will next play Germany on Monday.

India is the most successful country in men’s Olympic hockey, having won eight gold medals, but they have actually not reached the podium since the Moscow 1980 Games.

Saddened to cut short Varanasi visit, says Sonia as she returns to Delhi

Brand-new DELHI: The Congress president Sonia Gandhi said on Tuesday that she was saddened to cut short her Varanasi visit due to ill-health.

Sonia, who had to leave the Congress roadshow in Varanasi midway due to fever, was treated at the VIP lounge of the airport. She later left for Delhi accompanied by Varanasi CMO and a cardiologist.

The Congress president issued a statement after the roadshow attacking the BJP. Sonia slammed BJP’s slogan of ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’ and said, “The BJP government is a government of a few and the powerful.”

“The Congress is not just a group however an idea that binds India,” Sonia said thanking the people of Varanasi for their support.

“I will come back quite soon, and then visit the Kashi Vishwanath Temple,” she said.

The Congress president joined Varanasi on a day’s trip to launch her party’s campaign for Uttar Pradesh assembly elections due early next year.

She got a rousing welcome from party workers in the city and led an impressive road show.

The roadshow started along with Sonia garlanding the statue of BR Ambedkar at Circuit House. Then the marchers criss-crossed lanes and bylanes of the temple town.
The Congress President, who was initially travelling in a car and later moved to a vehicle along with an open sun roof, waved at the crowd that cheered and raised slogans versus the Modi government.
69-year-old Gandhi, however, had to cut short the roadshow towards the fag end of the eight-km march route this evening after she fell ill as it wound through the streets of the temple town for nearly three hours.

Govt to evacuate 10,000 Indians stranded in Saudi Arabia: Sushma

NEW DELHI: About 10,000 Indians stranded in Saudi Arabia will be evacuated and no one will go hungry as ration has been distributed to them, external affairs minister


Here’s why people love Sushma Swaraj

NEW DELHI: Sushma Swaraj has once again shown she has the common touch like no one else does.

The external affairs minister is very active on Twitter, and she uses it to keep in touch with the public rather than to insult other politicians like some of her BJP colleagues are wont to. She can be funny as all hell too.

Here’s the latest example that shows why people love Swaraj so much.

Hindi newspaper Dainik Bhaskar highlighted the plight of a newly-wed couple in Samain village in Haryana’s Fatehabad district.

The husband Tinu is Indian and his wife Jahna is from Kazakhstan. The two met on Facebook about a year ago. After eight months of long-distance courtship – Tinu was in Saudi Arabia at the time – Jahna told Tinu she’d like to marry him. Tinu said Jahna would have to come to India for that and she agreed. She arrived in India on a tourist visa and the two married last year in June.

Now, in July 2016, Jahna’s tourist visa is expiring. The two have run from pillar to post to extend her visa but to no avail. Dainik Bhaskar heard about the couple’s plight and wrote an article about it. Luckily for them, Minister Swaraj happened to read of their plight. Here’s what she did.

On Tuesday, Swaraj tweeted – in Haryanvi, no less – saying “If you’ve filed a request to extend ‘bahu’s’ visa, send me a copy of the request.” Swaraj called Jahna ‘bahu’. That means daughter-in-law.

बऊ का वीज़ा बढ़ाने खातिर अर्ज़ी दाखिल कर दी हो तो मन्ने कॉपी दे दयो.

— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) July 27, 2016

Tinu and Jahna are elated. All it took is one tweet from the external affairs minister.Sushma Swaraj+
said in Parliament on Monday.

Her deputy VK Singh is leaving for Saudi Arabia to oversee the evacuation process, she said in a statement in both Houses of Parliament.

As members in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha expressed concern over the


The plight of Indian migrant workers in the Gulf


  • Indian workers in the Gulf have complained about ill-treatment by employers, and about being detained even after their work documents expire.
  • Under the ‘kafala’ system, migrant worker’s visas “are tied to their employers so they cannot change jobs without their employer’s consent,” Human Rights Watch says.

NEW DELHI: After thousands of Indian workers in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, lost their jobs and were forced to starve, the city’s Indian Consulate and members of the Indian community in the country rallied together to distribute nearly 16,000 kilograms of food to them. The show of solidarity came after External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj had called on her Twitter followers in Saudi Arabia to help their “brothers and sisters”, and said there was nothing mightier than “the collective will of (the) Indian nation.”

According to an Economic Times report, Indian expatriates constitute the largest migrant workforce in the Gulf nations, which include Saudi Arabia and Kuwait – another country in which Indian workers faced a similar plight at the weekend. Reports on Indian migrant workers struggling to live and work with dignity in the region aren’t rare. Workers have complained about ill-treatment by employers, and about being detained even after their work documents expire. Moreover, agents have been known to hoodwink Indians with false promises and traffic them to the Gulf without adequate documentation, the National Domestic Workers’ Movement told Reuters in July.

Reuters reported last Wednesday that 15 workers from Tamil Nadu had appealed for help from the the Indian government – both in a video and in writing. They said the last time they’d been paid was in November last year, and that they’d been forced to work without remuneration after their work documents expired, and were left unrenewed by their employers. In addition, each of them had paid an agent Rs. 2 lakh to get a job abroad, they said.

The ‘kafala’ system

The poor working conditions that immigrant workers in the Gulf have to contend with can be partly explained by the existence of the ‘kafala’ system. Under this system – which is in use in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates – migrant worker’s visas “are tied to their employers so they cannot change jobs without their employer’s consent,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) says. An worker who chooses to flee from an abusive employer can be fined, deported, or even imprisoned, HRW adds.

Work conditions can be extraordinarily oppressive: domestic workers have told HRW that they were severely overworked, underpaid, saw their payments withheld while they were obliged to keep working, or were simply refused payment. The story of Kasthuri Munirathinam – a maid from Tamil Nadu – is a case in point. In November last year, the Economic Times reported that Kasthuri’s employer had cut off her right hand after she tried to escape from the house in Riyadh – the Saudi capital – where she worked 15 hours a day. She was forced to survive on a single roti a day, hadn’t been allowed to phone her family in India, and when she received a month’s wages, they were soon taken back from her.

Kasthuri returned to India after three months in the Gulf, but the same can’t yet be said of the thousands of workers stranded in Kuwait and Saudi after being laid off. External Affairs minister Swaraj has sent ministers of state V K Singh and M J Akbar to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait – where she said the situation was “manageable” – to negotiate on their behalf.

With inputs from agencies
fate of these Indians+
, Swaraj made the statement informing them that the Indian embassy was running five


‘Mission accomplished’, tweets Swaraj, as consulate distributes food to 10,000 starving Indians in Saudi Arabia


  • Indian consulate and community pitched in to distribute almost 16,000 Kg of food to the starving Indians
  • EAM Sushma Swaraj had tweeted that it wasn’t just 800 people who were in dire straits, It’s more than 10,000
  • She requested the 30 lakh-plus Indians there to help the Indian workers in distress.

NEW DELHI: As many as 10,000 Indians who were on the brink of starvation in Saudi Arabia, after being laid off, finally got some relief after the Indian consulate and community there pitched in to distribute almost 16,000 kilograms of food to them,

minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted Sunday morning.

Indian Consulate n Indian Community Jeddah food stuff distribution mission accomplished at 245 AM today morning. Kudos to all. @123nrs

— India in Jeddah (@CGIJeddah) July 31, 2016

Indian Consulate in association with Indian Community Jeddah distributed 15,475 kgs of food stuff besides eggs,spices,salt etc n 1850 no 1/2

— India in Jeddah (@CGIJeddah) July 30, 2016

“Large number of Indians have lost their jobs in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The employers have not paid wages closed down their factories. As a result our brothers and sisters in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are facing extreme hardship,” the external affairs minister tweeted.

Large number of Indians have lost their jobs in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The employers have not paid wages closed down their factories. /1

— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) July 30, 2016

The minister had also tweeted last night that it wasn’t just 800 people who were in dire straits, as was earlier reported. It was more than 10,000.

The number of Indian workers facing food crisis in Saudi Arabia is over Ten Thousand. It is not 800 as is being reported. @JagranNews

— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) July 30, 2016

The minister had also requested the 30 lakh-plus Indians there to help the Indian workers in distress.

I appeal to 30 lakhs Indians in Saudi Arabia. Please help your fellow brothers and sisters. /1

— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) July 30, 2016

An effort of the last four days has succeeded well, the minister said.

There is nothing mightier than the collective will of Indian nation.

— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) July 30, 2016

Minister Swaraj said the laid off workers were situated in five camps in Saudi Arabia.

All 5 camps, Shumaisi, Sisten/Macrona,Sojex, Highway,Taif taken care wid supply of food materials. An effort of last four days succeeded wel

— India in Jeddah (@CGIJeddah) July 30, 2016

The minister also tweeted details about how much food was distributed to the laid off Indian workers.

Indian Consulate in association with Indian Community Jeddah distributed 15,475 kgs of food stuff besides eggs,spices,salt etc n 1850 no 1/2

— India in Jeddah (@CGIJeddah) July 30, 2016

On Saturday, the minister had said that the Centre would leave no stone unturned in its efforts to help the Indians in Saudi Arabia.

I assure you that no Indian worker rendered unemployed in Saudi Arabia will go without food. I am monitoring this on hourly basis.

— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) July 30, 2016

camps to feed them+
and she had received hourly inputs till early today.

“Not one worker of ours will go hungry. This is my assurance to the country through Parliament… We will bring all of them back to India,” Swaraj said.

The government, she said, was in touch with the foreign and labour offices in Saudi Arabia to ensure their early evacuation.

Swaraj noted that the law there does not permit an emergency exit visa without no objection certificate from the employers who, she said, have shut their factories and left the country, leaving these employees stranded.

The government has requested the Saudi government to give them exit visas as employers had left the country and also urged it to first clear the dues of


Indians almost starving in Saudi are over 10,000, not 800: Sushma Swaraj


  • Over 10,000 Indian workers in Saudi Arabia are facing severe food shortage
  • This crisis has been triggered due to the loss of their jobs
  • The govt has ordered its mission in the Gulf nation to provide food to them

NEW DELHI: In a humanitarian crisis, over 10,000 Indian workers in Saudi Arabia are facing severe food shortage due to financial hardship after losing their jobs and the government has ordered its mission in the Gulf nation to provide food to them besides other assistance.

Late in the evening,

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj appealed to 30 lakhs Indians in that country to help their “fellow brothers and sisters”, asserting that there is nothing “mightier” than the collective will of the Indian nation.

There is nothing mightier than the collective will of Indian nation.

— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) July 30, 2016

“We have asked @IndianEmbRiyadh to provide free ration to the unemployed Indian workers in Saudi Arabia,” she said in a series of tweets. Swaraj said Indians in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait were facing various problems relating to their work and wages and that the “matters are much worse” in the former.

We have asked @IndianEmbRiyadh to provide free ration to the unemployed Indian workers in Saudi Arabia. /4

— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) July 30, 2016

Her initial response came following a tweet by a man who said around 800 Indians were starving for the last three days in Jeddah and sought her intervention.

The number of Indian workers facing food crisis in Saudi Arabia is over Ten Thousand. It is not 800 as is being reported. @JagranNews

— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) July 30, 2016

However, later, she said “The number of Indian workers facing food crisis in Saudi Arabia is over ten thousand. It is not 800 as is being reported.” Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh will soon travel to the Gulf nation to assess severity of the problem and try to resolve it.

“I assure you that no Indian worker rendered unemployed in Saudi Arabia will go without food. I am monitoring this on hourly basis,” she said. Swaraj said a large number of Indians have lost their jobs in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and that their employers have not paid wages and closed down their factories.

I assure you that no Indian worker rendered unemployed in Saudi Arabia will go without food. I am monitoring this on hourly basis.

— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) July 30, 2016

“As a result our brothers and sisters in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are facing extreme hardship,” she said, adding while the situation in Kuwait is “manageable”, matters are much “worse” in Saudi Arabia.

Swaraj said MoS external affairs M J Akbar will take up the issue with Kuwait and Saudi Arabian authorities. “My colleagues @Gen_VKSingh will go to Saudi Arabia to sort out these matters and @MJakbar will take up with Kuwait and Saudi authorities.”

The Indian Consulate officials have already left for a highway camp near Jeddah where hundreds of workers need assistance.

The Consulate, in association with the Indian Community in Jeddah, has already distributed 15,475 kgs of food stuff and other items.

“I appeal to 30 lakhs Indians in Saudi Arabia. Please help your fellow brothers and sisters. There is nothing mightier than the collective will of Indian nation,” Swaraj said.
who have not been paid for months, whenever they settle the accounts with the companies concerned.

Singh is leaving for Saudi Arabia to oversee the operation, she said.

She received the last report at 2.45am, she said and informed the Lok Sabha that ration for 10 days had been distributed in all the five camps. “I am personally monitoring the situation.”

As some opposition members in Lok Sabha raised some questions, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan disallowed them, saying “She (Swaraj) has done everything. She has done really good work. Nobody has worked this much.”

Swaraj’s response also drew praise from the Chair and members in the Rajya Sabha.

Swaraj made the statement in the Lower House amid the din created by Andhra Pradesh MPs, who were demanding special category status for the state.

Senior BJP member L K Advani, who was sitting next to Swaraj, was seen requesting Andhra members with folded hands to allow her to speak.

The workers were mostly employed by Saudi construction companies, and were laid off amid a slowdown in the industry due to low global oil prices.

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After backlash, Parrikar defends himself, says ‘didn’t name anyone’

Brand-new DELHI: After facing backlash for raking up actor Aamir Khan’s “unpatriotic” comments, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Sunday clarified that his comment was not pointed out at anyone.

“I’m just saying that we should mount pressure, verbally condemn people who speak versus nation,” Parrikar told ANI clearing his earlier statement.

Adding that he does not need to name anyone specifically, he said that everyone can understand what is in benefit for the country.

In what was an obvious rap on actor Aamir Khan’s knuckles, the minister on Saturday had said that those who speak ill of India need to be taught a lesson.

“People have actually shown their power, an actor made this mistake, said his wife wants to go and stay in a foreign country. That was an arrogant statement,” Parrikar said late on Saturday. He added that “an online trading company” the actor was associated along with as well “was “taught a lesson”.

Parrikar was speaking at a book launch function in Pune and his reference was obvious.

The Congress party on Sunday strongly criticized the defence minister for raking up actor Aamir Khan’s “unpatriotic” comments from last November, and said this was a concerted BJP effort to stifle dissent.

Last November, Bollywood actor Aamir Khan said that his wife Kiran Rao wondered aloud to him whether they should move out of India, as she feared for the safety of their children in a climate of insecurity. That was the time when the issue of “rising intolerance” in India was being hotly debated, and when several artists and authors returned government awards to protest the “intolerance”.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi attacked Parrikar and RSS earlier on Sunday, telling them bluntly “hate is the preserve of the coward and it never wins”.
Congress spokesperson Randeep S Surjewala said it was a “shocking revelation” by Parrikar and showed that BJP and RSS supporters actively disrupted and sabotaged an online trading company on Aamir Khan issue.

Incessant rains continue to cripple India; lightning kills 27 in Odisha

PATNA/GUWAHATI: Twenty-six people have actually died and about 22 lakh were affected so far in Bihar floods along with numerous rivers, including Koshi, flowing above the danger mark.

While Kishanganj alone accounted eight flood-related deaths, seven others perished in Purnia district, the state Disaster Management Department said on Friday.

Katihar and Madhepura district accounted for two deaths each, while Araria and Saharsa recorded one casualty each in the current wave of floods, it said in a statement.

An estimated 21.99 lakh people have actually been affected by flood across 10 districts — Purnia, Kishanganj, Araria, Darbhanga, Madhepura, Bhagalpur, Katihar, Saharsa, Supaul and Gopal district, the statement said.

An area of 1.83 lakh hectare has actually been submerged, while the crops spread over .83 lakh hectare got damaged even as the quantum of loss was under assessment.

The Disaster Management Department statement said rivers like Kagmati-Benibad in Muzaffarpur, Aghwara-Kamtaul in Darbhanga, Koshi-Baltara in Khagaria, Koshi-Kursela in Katihar, Mahananda-Dhengra in Purnia and Jhawa in Katihar were flowing above the danger level.

A total of 8,850 boats have actually been pressed into service to evacuate people stranded in flooded areas along with about 3.89 lakh people being evacuated so far.

In view of the rivers in spate in 10 districts, the state government has actually prepositioned one NDRF team each at Supaul, Gopalganj, Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga and Didarganj in Patna, while one SDRF team each has actually been prepositioned at Khagaria, Sitamarhi, Purnia, Madhubani, Bhagalpur and Madhepura.

Two teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) have actually been stationed at Bihta near Patna on wait.

NDRF and SDRF teams have actually been rushed to all flood-affected districts to carry out rescue and relief works, the disaster management department said.

21 dead, 19 lakh people affected in Assam

Assam continued to be ravaged by flood as an estimated 19 lakh people were affected in the state due to heavy rainfall and swelling of rivers triggered by incessant rains in upper catchment areas of Arunachal Pradesh and Bhutan.

The worst affected districts are Lakhimpur, Golaghat, Bongaigaon, Jorhat, Dhemaji, Barpeta, Goalpara, Dhubri, Darrang, Morigaon and Sonitpur, Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) said.

The other affected districts are Sivsagar, Kokrajhar, Dibrugarh, Goalpara, Tinsukia, Biswanath, Nalbari, Baksa, Udalgluri, Kamrup (M), Chirang, Kamrup and South Kamrup, the ASDMA said.

The death toll in the current deluge has actually mounted to 21.

The Brahmaputra is flowing above the danger mark at Guwahati, Nematighat in Jorhat, Tezpur in Sonitpur, Goalpara and Dhubri towns.

To provide succor to the affected people, relief has actually been distributed as per requirement in all the flood affected districts and funds for providing relief have actually been placed along with the district administrations in advance.

NDRF, SDRF and the army are helping the district administration in evacuating the affected population to safe places. A total of 19 lakh people were directly of indirectly affected by floods.

State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) teams along with deep divers have actually likewise been attached to the 27 Fire Stations of the State.

Meanwhile, eight rhino cubs displaced and separated from their mothers were rescued by Kaziranga National Park and Centre of Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC) team.

The calves were separated during the floods from the mighty Brahmaputra that submerged over 90 per cent of the World Heritage Site, Kaziranga National Park (KNP) authority said.

Three of the calves are one-month-old, two are five months old, another two are seven months old, while one is one-year- old, said CRWC veterinarian Dr Pranjit Basumatary.

On the other hand, KNP authority rescued two hog deer which were found trapped in a fence when both were trying to flee towards a campus in search of food at a nearby village.

After the villagers reported the matter, a rescue team from KNP rescued them and confessed them to the CWRC semi-ICU ward, informed Rathin Barman, the director of CWRC.

The ASDMA has actually opened a round-the-clock Control Room along with phone numbers 1070, 1079 (Toll free) and 0361-2237011 (Landline) for any information and assistance.

The flood water have actually overtopped 2.13 lakh hectares of agricultural area along with standing crops across the state, besides washing away number of roads, embankments, bridges and other infrastructure facilities.

Over 200 villages flooded in UP’s Balrampur

More than 200 villages have actually been inundated here due to the overflowing Rapti river, prompting authorities to sent an NDRF team to the affected areas, official sources said on Friday.

The increasing water level of the river, which has actually crossed the danger line at Sisai Ghat, has actually blocked the Balrampur-Tulsipur road.

State PWD Minister Shivpal Yadav visited the area and ordered concerned officials to take swift action.

An NDRF team comprising 35 members have actually reached Balrampur.

Commissioner Devipatan division Sudheer Dixit visited the flooded areas to take stock of the situation.

Missing AN-32: Govt seeks US help, says scope of sabotage ‘very less’

Brand-new DELHI: The Government on Friday said it has actually sought help from the US for detection of the Air Force’s AN-32 aircraft, which went missing on July 22.

The government is seeking help from American defence forces to ascertain whether their satellites had picked up any signal before the disappearance of the plane, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said in Rajya Sabha on Friday.

“At the time of disappearance, the aircraft was on secondary/passive radar and there was no SOS or transmission of any frequency. It just disappeared so that is the worrying part,” Parrikar said.

“It is total blank. There was not even a single signal recorded. That is the reason we are contacting American defence forces to ascertain whether their satellites picked up any signal,” the defence minister said.

“Besides our own satelleite imagery, we have asked the US for their imagery for the detection of emergency frequency to space based assets. Foreign countries we have already asked. I only hope that our efforts succeed,” he added while replying to queries whether foreign help has actually been sought.

The defence minister said the possibility of a sabotage in the mysterious disappearance of AN-32 aircraft was “comparatively very less”.

All types of techniques are being used to locate the aircraft, he said while replying to clarifications sought by members on his suo motu statement on the disappearance of the aircraft on July 22.

As members expressed concern and raised questions over how the plane went missing, he said, “I can’t speculate because we are searching for it and I will not like to speculate. But I can say only this much. The possibility, despite the fact that we are checking all angles, of any sabotage is comparatively very less because they have standard operating procedures.”

While sharing the concern of the members, he gave details of the operation being carried out for the last one week in trying to locate the plane, carrying 29 people, which went missing during a flight from Tambaram in Tamil Nadu to Port Blair.

“I appreciate anxiety of members. I am also disturbed at the sudden disappearance of the plane. I have spoken to several experts and former air chiefs who were also puzzled by the sudden disappearance,” Parrikar said.

Queried about the age of the aircraft, the Defence Minister said it was “almost as good as Brand-new aircraft”.

Elaborating he said, “I don’t know exact age but it is well within lifetime. It has actually undergone first overhauling. Lot of replacement has actually been done…. They are considered as one of the safest aircraft.”

He said the accident rate of Indian Air Force is 0.23 out of 10,000 hours of flying versus the global rate of 0.023 and assured the House that maximum efforts would be made to ensure that the mishaps come down.

“If aircraft is not fit for flying we don’t fly it. We have decided to check up whether we can improve the signalling system,” he added.

About the missing aircraft, Parrikar said that after the first overhaul, the plane had already done 279 hours and the pilot was experienced, having put in 500 hours on this route.

The Defence Minister, who had made suo motu statement on the plane’s disappearance in both Houses of Parliament on Thursday, said, “Let us hope that we track it down. I can assure that maximum efforts will be taken.”

Sharing details of the search operation so far, he said 10 Indian Navy ships as well as submarine ‘Sindhudhwaj’ are carrying searches and “virtually checking up everything”.

23 inputs had been located, out of which 6 were of the nature of blinks and all inputs have been checked, he said.

“If we locate something, then we can send deepwater equipment to pick up. We have also diverted ‘Sagar Nidhi’ (vessel) from Mauritius. It will reach on August one and it can go upto 6,000 metres depth. But we have to locate objects. We have to locate it because at this depth you cannot keep on scratching the bottom,” Parrikar said.

The Defence Minister said he was personally monitoring the situation. “We owe that much to the people, I have seen (to it) that every family is kept in touch.”

On Thursday, Parrikar had said that “several inputs and leads” regarding floating objects have been picked up but there is no concrete evidence so far with respect to missing AN-32 aircraft of the IAF.

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