SHATRUGHAN IGNORED AT IFFI 2016

A Saturday following the week when the state government froze all fresh recruitments. For a Saturday following the week when the Church was singled out by the Income Tax Department. For a Saturday following the week when Satrughan Sinha took pot-shots at the Modi government.

IGNORED : Even though was in Goa he was not invited for iff 2016

AND a few more stray thoughts and a few more observations for yet another Saturday. A Saturday following the week when the state government froze all fresh recruitments. For a Saturday following the week when the Church was singled out by the Income Tax Department. For a Saturday following the week when Satrughan Sinha took pot-shots at the Modi government. For a Saturday following the week when the long term prospects for senior citizens who have been relying on fixed deposits for a regular income appeared bleak. For a Saturday following the week when liquidity with banks worsened because of the 100% increase in the cash reserve requirement by the Reserve Bank of India.  

And a few stray thoughts on the Goa government freezing all recruitment. Even the ongoing recruitment for various post in the Police and PWD departments have been put on hold. In many cases candidates who have passed the written examination have been told that the interviews have been indefinitely postponed. This is in sharp contrast to the last days of the Digambar government in 2012 when ministers competed with each other to recruit as many young and not- so-young for government jobs as a bribe to vote for them. The most notorious being Vishwajeet Rane who literally recruited thousands in the health and agriculture departments. The recruitment by Digambar’s ministers was also a means of raising funds for fighting the elections as the jobs were bought and paid for. Which is why the freeze  on fresh recruitment even against existing vacancies by Laxmikant Parsekar who heads the personal departments is so strange.

FREEZE ON JOBS

THE freeze on government jobs is welcome as the number of government servants already exceeds  70,000. This means there is a government employee for every 20 Goan residents. This is in sharp contrast to Maharashtra where the ratio of government servants to the  population is 1 in 10,000. With so many government servants available the work of the common man should be done very fast. Unfortunately in Goa it is the opposite and more government employees only means more bribes to be paid. Government employees believe they have  a right to loot and plunder as they have paid for their jobs and they have to recover their investment. Which can be as high as Rs 20,000 for the post of police sub-inspector and excise inspectors. The asking rates even for nurses and police constables has increased after the 7th Pay Commission. This is because a nurse now is entitled to Rs 40,000 per month at the start of the scale.

The decision to freeze recruitment for government jobs is not so strange when you analyse it. During the last ten years the number of jobs generated by the private sector has fallen steeply. Moreover many Goans who were employed in the Gulf were forced to return as many construction projects and other businesses owned by Arabs shut down because of the drop in the prices of crude oil. The Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Kuwait are all totally dependent on income from their oil wells. The price of crude oil from which petroleum and diesel are made has fallen from a high of $ 150 to 200 per barrel to less than $50. Even the jobs that are being offered are for much lower salaries. The maximum salary that unskilled labour can expect is around Rs 20,000. The cost of living in the Gulf is so high that the migrants were worse off than back home if their food and accommodation is not taken care of by the company. The result is that there are more than 5000 applicant for every government jobs.

AVOIDING CURSES

THE Parsekar government has suddenly realised that each time they recruit one employee, they will make 5,000 others unhappy. Which means while they may get the votes of the family of the one who got a government job but will be cursed by the families of the 4,999 others who did not  get a job. With election so close the government has decided that it is safer not to provide any more government jobs and run the risk of making the voters angry. Parsekar is personally most affected because even the projects he had approved under the investment promotion scheme has been stalled because of high court orders. So it is back to a case of apply, apply but no reply. The employment exchange has stopped sending out call letters and all written exams and interviews have been cancelled.

AND a few stray thoughts on the Church being singled out by the Income Tax Department following the scrapping of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes. Both the Bishops Palace and individual churches and even educational institutions run by Catholic Religious orders have been asked to provide details of how many Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes are in their possession. This follows country wide claims that black money holders were getting rid of their hoardings by dropping them in the collection boxes at religious places.

The Church in Goa may also have invited trouble for itself by its offer to convert scrapped Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes with the notes of lower denomination in their possession. Religious institutions and particularly churches in Goa get a lot of donations in small notes dropped in their collection boxes after mass. This increase in last week of November and the first week of December due to the feast of St Francis Xavier and the Panjim and Margao church feast. What was a goodwill gesture initiated by the Carmelites has proved to be counterproductive.

The curious part is that no such notice has been send to any of the temples which are much richer then the churches. Nor have notices been sent to masjids which also collect donations. Is the BJP sending out a warning to the Catholic community that they should retain their loyalty to the BJP? The BJP is aware that a large number of Catholic who have historically supported the Congress and had shifted their loyalties to the BJP in the 2012 election are now backing the Aam Aadmi party. The Church has reportedly complied with the notice to submit the amount of cash in old notes lying with them and their cash position as on  November 8. The exercise is intended to find out if there has been a disproportionate increase in their bank deposit since delimitation which can be attributed to laundering money.

TAX EXEMPTION

THE larger issue is if the civil courts have any jurisdiction over religious institutions in the country. During the Portuguese colonial era there was no difference between the church and the state. The Portuguese rulers were very devout Catholics or pretended to be so. When St Francis Xavier was asked about the object of the conquest of Goa by Vasco-da-Gama he insisted they were interested in harvesting souls for Christ and spice for the king. The Portuguese rulers had permitted the Church total freedom and any crimes committed by the clergy were tried by the ecclesiastical (church courts). Even to this day the Church does not recognise civil divorce and the partners cannot get re-married in church. The Church has its own judicial process which grants divorce under rare conditions. A church divorce which is hard to get is called annulment. Similarly, sections of the Muslim community have objected strongly to the Supreme Court directive banning triple talaq divorces.

The relevant issue is of income-tax. The Hindu temples claim that under the Mazania Act going back to the Portuguese times they are exempt from income-tax. It is not clear however if the Church too is  exempt from income-tax. The only object of asking the Church to furnish details of how many scrapped notes they have as on  November 8 would be to find out if they are laundering black money. What applies to the Church should also apply to temples and mosques. If the feast of St Francis Xavier is the excuse for the crackdown on the Church, the Income-Tax Department should serve notice on the Shantadurga Temple at Kavlem which is having a mega 450th anniversary bash. Tax and penalty should be levied on temples, churches and mosques if it is found that their bank deposits have shown a big increase after November 9th 2016. The rule is that if more than Rs 2.5 lakhs is deposited, the party must explain the source of fund or pay a penalty of 50% over and above the regular tax of 30% which means of total tax of 80%. All political parties should protest against the victimisation of the church and must either exempt all religious institutions or punish all of them if they have helped their community members to convert black into white.

MARRIAGE MUSHKIL

IT is not only human being who are finding it difficult to get married. Under the guidelines issued by the RBI only Rs 2.5 lakhs can be withdrawn as expenditure for a marriage. Even to withdraw this amount you have to furnish proof in the form of a wedding invitation and have to give a breakdown of how the money will be spent and certify that the bandwala and the garland seller do not have bank accounts. The Income Tax Department had a tough time when in Tamil Nadu as per tradition they had the annual marriage of two gods. The banks refuse to allow withdrawal of Rs 2.5 lakhs insisting it applied only to human marriages and not to marriages between gods. Though according to law, gods can have bank accounts. The bank accounts of the famous Ganesh temple in Dadar in Mumbai and the Sai Baba temple in Shirdi have accounts in the name of the gods. We do not know if the gods have given the committee members power of attorney to operate the accounts. Finally, the bank manager approached the local BJP leaders who convinced the bank to release Rs 2.5 lakh for the marriage of gods.

SHOTGUN ANGRY

AND a few stray thoughts on why Shatrughan Sinha (shotgun) ko gussa aya? Shotgun as he is popularly known has been in Goa even before IFFI started last Sunday. Shotgun is complaining that he was not invited to IFFI. Even his application for a delegate card was rejected. The only function he was invited to was an interaction with FTTI students. His boycott may be because he has been very critical of the BJP, though he has been a Member of Parliament and a minister in the  Vajpayee government.

Shantrughan Sinha has attacked the scrapping of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes overnight without proper planning. He has also attacked the Maharashtra BJP Chief Minister Devendra Fadhivas for not taking action against Raj Thackeray for extorting money from Karan Johar for the release of Ai Dil Hai Mushkil.  Shotgun believes that India must welcome artistes from any country as they are not terrorists. Shotgun is against the ban on Pakistani actors and musicians. “Culture is no one’s monopoly.  Anyone can come across the border whether he is a singer or an actor.” Shotgun is particularly angry with Narendra Modi for forcing him to sacrifice his Chandigarh seat to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley who, incidentally, lost the election.  No wonder Sonakshi Sinha is as spunky as her outspoken father.

FIXED DEPOSITS

AND a few stray thoughts on why demonetisation will hurt the middle class who put their money in fixed deposits as a safe investments. Banks used to offer interest rates of an average of 10% with an extra 0.5% for senior citizens. With the reduction in the bank rate, the interest rates had already fallen to 7.5%. If you take into an account the fact that you have to pay TDS on income from fixed deposits over Rs 1 lakhs the actual return is less than 6%. You also have to pay taxes on your fixed deposits on maturity.

Banks function on the profit they make on the margin between the borrowing rate and the lending rate. To give an example when the interest rate on fixed deposits was 10% the lending rate was 16 to 20 %. This applied even to home loans and to vehicle loans. With the interest rates dropping to 7.5% the lending rate has also come down to 10 to 12 % for personal loans. But remain around 17% for business loans. Following demonetisation banks are flush with funds as all those who had kept Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes at home have no choice but to deposit them in the bank. The bank have stopped exchanging old notes. While there is no limit to how much you can deposit, you can only withdraw a maximum of Rs 24,000 a week. So banks now do not need your savings to lend money to big industrialists. The problem with banks is that when they lend to small people for small loan of a few lakhs to buy a car a flat they ask for all kinds of security. If you delay your EMI they will even employ goondas to take possession of the vehicle or even flat. But the very same banks are willing to lend thousands of crores to rogue industrialist like Vijay Mallya just on their personal guarantee without even checking if they have assets to recover the loans.

LOANS WAVED

THE State Bank of India  which leads the consortium of banks which lent Rs 8,000 crores to Vijay Mallya have written off the loan. Which means they have given up hopes on recovering the money. Vijay Mallya in the meanwhile is having fun in London where he escaped or was allowed to escape by Narendra Modi. But Mallya is not the only culprit. Over 80% of the non-performing assets which are loans taken by big industrialist amounting to hundreds of crores of rupees have been borrowed by 20 of the top industrialists in the country.

AND a last stray thought for yet another Saturday. The government has received yet another setback from the Green Tribunal. The green tribunal has been kept in abeyance the environment clearances for the Rs 1,300 crores tourism and villa project promoted by  Delhi real estate company Leading Hotels. The Delhi company had bought over almost the entire Tiracol village and had cut down thousands of trees for the project which had the blessing of the political establishment in Delhi. This is the second major setback to the Parsekar government after the green tribunal stalled the further construction of the third Mandovi bridge.  

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