Pune: The National Film Archive of India (NFAI) has acquired 162 films in one of its largest acquisitions in recent times.As many as 125 of these films are original ‘dupe’ negatives as opposed to release positives, NFAI director Prakash Magdum said. The collection includes 44 black-and-white films. It includes a number of Hindi films from different eras, and 34 Gujarati, 15 Marathi and some Nepali and Bhojpuri films. The haul also includes 15 unreleased films. A highlight is the original negative of Mahatma, nearly six hours of documentary footage of Mahatma Gandhi shot by Vitthalbhai Jhaveri, a photographer, filmmaker, and an associate of Gandhi.Hindi films like Faslah (1976) and Amarsingh Rathod (1957); Nepali film Maiti Ghar (1966) by B.S.Thapa; and original negatives of Sitara (1939) by Ezra Mir, Mani Kaul’s Uski Roti (1969) and K.A. Abbas’s Saat Hindustani (1969), Amitabh Bachchan’s debut film, are also a part of the acquisition.The collection also includes Kon Ichikawa’s renowned film Tokyo Olympiad (1965) and Dilip Kumar-starrer Kohinoor (1960). “The entire collection is the courtesy of the Famous Cine Laboratory in Mumbai and we thank them for depositing these films with the NFAI. This is one of the most important acquisitions owing to the fact that a large number of films have come in the original/dupe negative format,” Mr. Magdum said.
The colour saffron appears to be gradually spreading across Uttar Pradesh, with parts of a nearly 80-year-old police station in the capital being given a splash of it, days after the Haj office here was painted orange, drawing criticism from the Opposition.Ever since Yogi Adityanath became the Chief Minister, the colour seems to have become a defining feature. It has virtually permeated everything — from booklets and school bags to towels, chairs and buses. Built in 1939, the Qaiser Bagh police station had the colours — yellow and red. But this time round some pillars and certain parts of the building acquired a bright saffron hue against a light cream background.“The renovation had started almost two-and-a-half months ago as part of an annual programme,” Inspector in-charge D.K. Upadhyaya told PTI. The renovation work was incomplete as the labourers had recently stopped coming because of the intense cold, he said.The Samajwadi Party criticised the move, saying the “party [BJP] was indulging in politics of colour only to divert the attention of people from its failures in carrying out development.”The All India Shia Personal Law Board said politics of colour should be avoided. The Lal Bahadur Shastri Bhawan, which houses the Chief Minister’s Office, was painted saffron in October last year.The facade of the State secretariat was given a saffron hue months after Mr. Adityanath took over the reins.Mr. Adityanath loves to see a saffron towel on his seat in his office. Recently, he flagged off a fleet of 50 saffron-coloured buses.
The death toll in the Chilika boat tragedy rose to six after recovery of four bodies from the lake on Sunday.A boat, carrying 17 tourists, had capsized on Saturday afternoon in the Chilika lake, about 100 km from here. The tourists were returning from Kalijai temple, a prominent temple located on an island in Chilika. As soon as the incident took place around 5 p.m., boat operators sailing nearby immediately started rescue operation. They were helped by the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force and the Indian Navy. Two bodies were recovered on Saturday while 11 persons were rescued.The rescue operation was resumed on Sunday. Four bodies were fished out from the Chilika water. Six victims include five women and one boy. They were identified as Pramodini Das, Shradhanjali Das, Meera Patnaik, Kalpana Mohanty, Suchitra Mohanty and Sudhansu Sekhar Das. The victims belonged to Bhubaneswar and Nayagarh area. Expressing deep sorrow at the loss of lives, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced an ex-gratia of ₹4 lakh each for the next of kin of the deceased. The Chief Minister also announced free medical treatment for the injured persons.
A day after being selected by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as the chairperson of the newly constituted Tribal Development Committee (TDC), former CPI(M) leader Ritabrata Banerjee tweeted: “Humbled to be a part in Didi’s [Ms. Banerjee] endeavour of transforming the State.”Mr. Ritabrata, once a fiery student leader and CPI(M) MP, was expelled from the party last September. Observers read his appointment as an induction into the Trinamool Congress.He, however, refused to be drawn into political speculation. “I am an Independent MP and continue to work in that capacity,” he told The Hindu.Challenge to BJPHe did, however, echo nearly all defectors on the future of politics in Bengal, when he said, “I have said for a long time that Mamata Banerjee is the only person to challenge the BJP at the State and at the national level; strengthening her is important.”Former CPI(M) MP from Murshidabad Moinul Hassan, who quit the party on Saturday, went a step further to suggest that an alliance of Trinamool Congress, CPI(M) and Congress was “vital.”“Many are asking me whether the TMC and CPI(M) can be part of the same alliance. If Akhilesh Yadav and Mayavati can come together, it can be emulated in Bengal,” said Mr. Hassan.At least five Congress MLAs and few CPI(M) leaders are expected to join the Trinamool Congress on July 21. Sabina Yeasmin, MLA from Malda, whose name featured in the list of the MLAs, has spent a decade with the Congress.“The way BJP is growing in Bengal, it is now imperative to join the TMC,” she said. She added that party president Rahul Gandhi had asked her “to wait before taking a final decision” at his meeting with restive MLAs on Friday.
A BJP leader was killed in the Mandirbazar area in South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal on Friday night. On Saturday, two persons were arrested.The BJP leadership has alleged that Trinamool Congress (TMC) workers were behind the crime. The TMC has denied the charge.The police said Shaktipada Sardar, a BJP block president in the Mandirbazar-Dhanurhat area, was hacked when he was returning home. “Mr. Sardar was found in a critical condition by locals near the road and rushed to the Diamond Harbour Hospital. He was referred to a hospital in Kolkata after his condition deteriorated. He succumbed to injuries on the way to Kolkata,” Tathagata Basu, Supernatant of Police of Sundarban, said.Remanded in custodyGoutam Mondal and Abdul Haque Molla were arrested and produced before a court which remanded them in police custody for eight days, Mr. Basu said. He said Sardar had earlier been arrested in several cases.As for the motive, he said no political link had not come up in the investigation so far. “Prima facie, the murder was the outcome of personal enmity,” he said.
The death toll of Odia labourers killed in the blast at a stone quarry in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh on August 3 has risen to six.All the six were migrant labourers from Rambha block of Ganjam district. According to sources, Ram Chandra Nahak (50) of Bandhatala Nuagaon died at King George Hospital in Visakhapatnam on Saturday night. Four persons from Bandha Tali Nuagaon, who were working as migrant labourers, died in the stone quarry blast in Kurnool. The other deceased from the village were Duryodhan Nahak (42), Manoranjan Nahak (22) and Pandav Lenka (40). Bhima Nahak (30) of Radhagovindpur and Rajendra Nahak (40) of Diandein village had also died because of this blast.
Two women suffered burn injuries when unidentified bike-borne miscreants threw acid on them in Siddharthnagar district, police said. The women, aged 20 and 19, both residents of Biskohar Tola, were attacked on their way home around 9 p.m. on Friday. They suffered injuries to their face and upper part of the body and were referred to PGI Lucknow. Another woman who had rushed after hearing the screams also got injured when she came in contact with the two women.
Around 200 agitating nurses were arrested from two State-run medical colleges and hospitals of Assam on Wednesday, the third day of their strike, only to be released later, officials said. The nurses under the banner of All Assam Nurses’ Association were on strike in two hospitals since Monday to press for their demands, including pay parity. The authorities imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC in the premises of the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital and the Jorhat Medical College and Hospital on Wednesday morning, sources said. When the agitating uniformed nurses assembled in front of the hospitals and started raising slogans, around 100 nurses from each hospital were arrested, the sources said. The GMCH nurses were taken away to a temporary jail set up at the 4th Assam Police Battalion HQ in Guwahati and released later, the police said. The nurses claimed that Health Minister Pijush Hazarika had called them for a meeting on Tuesday but cancelled it all of a sudden. The nurses are demanding ‘same post same salary’ and restoration of the designation of ‘staff nurse’.
In March 2018, two sisters studying in Class 7 and Class 8 of a school under the Mathurapur police station in West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas district suddenly dropped out. Their absence went unnoticed until school authorities found a letter in their complaint box: it said that the girls had been taken to Kashmir without their consent and married off there.The letter was written by a school mate who lived in the same village and, from conversations she had overheard, got to know about the whereabouts of the two girls. Chandan Kumar Maity, headmaster of the school, tried to trace the girl’s parents. It did not take him long to realise that the girls had indeed been trafficked to Kashmir. After a lot of effort from the school authorities and the local police and some non-government organisations the girls were rescued and brought back to a government home. The parents, it turned, were involved: they had received ₹1.3 lakh for the girls. More than a hundred schools in West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas district have installed boxes in their premises under the West Bengal’s Swayangsiddha scheme, which encourages girls to report stalking or harassment faced either by them or anyone known to them.Communication channel During a recent event to extend the scheme to other districts of West Bengal, Inspector General of State’s Criminal Investigation Department Ajey Ranande (recently transferred from the post) emphasised on the important role played by schools in dealing with organised crime like human trafficking. “Swayangsiddha boxes have been set up in schools where girls can put chits (complaints),” Mr Ranade said. Not only in schools of Mathurapur but also in areas like Metaibruz on the southwestern fringes of Kolkata are benefiting from the installation of these complaint boxes.“These boxes have opened a new channel of communication for girls in our school. We have received several complaints of stalking and have involved locals as well as the police to ensure that girls do not face any problem coming to school,” said Durba Sanyal Bhattacharya, headmistress of Rabindra Balika Vidyapith.Rishi Kant of Shakti Vahini, who has been associated with the scheme ever since it started in the district in 2016, pointed out that Swayangsiddha means self-reliance and one of the important aims of the scheme is to make girls aware so that they are able to make informed choices. “We are trying to ensure that State-run schools across West Bengal have such boxes. This can go a long way in preventing trafficking, not only of the girls coming to school but also in their villages,” Mr Kant said.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday rapped the Uttar Pradesh government for not providing data on the number of hospitals and health centres in the State. Directing the State government to furnish a performance guarantee of ₹10 crore, the green panel directed the U.P. government to furnish a compliance report within one month.A Bench headed by NGT judicial member Justice Raghuvendra S. Rathore said, “You are not able to tell the total number of hospitals. What sort of functioning is (this)? We fail to understand… it reflects the [lack of] seriousness and responsibility which the State of U.P. has towards the issue.”The observations came while the green panel was hearing a plea that sought directions to shut down hospitals, nursing homes and health centres in the State that are not complying with relevant biomedical waste rules.During the hearing, the State’s Directorate of Medical and Health informed the tribunal that the figure of 5,240 is incomplete and surveys are currently under way in several districts. Authorities further informed that the entire process will take two months to be completed.One month time“In order to ensure that all concerned officers could be serious about the issue and collect the data on hospitals, we grant one month time to do the needful, provided they execute a performance guarantee of ₹10 crore within a week,” the bench said.The plea had contended that indiscriminate disposal of biomedical waste was adversely affecting public health and environment.
The Bihar government has come in for sharp criticism as none of its Ministers were present at the Patna airport on Sunday to receive the body of Central Reserve Police Force Inspector Pintu Singh who was killed in a gun battle in Kashmir. The Chief Minister, his Cabinet colleagues and other NDA leaders were allegedly busy with the Sankalp rally that was addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Inspector Pintu Singh, 35, was killed in an encounter in Handwara area of Jammu and Kashmir on March 1. His body was brought to the Patna airport en route to his home in Bagras-Dhyanchakki village in Begusarai district. While the Ministers and leaders of the ruling BJP-JD(U) were conspicuous by their absence, State Congress president Madan Mohan Jha and Lok Janshakti Party leader Choudhary Mahboob Ali Kaiser were present at the airport to pay tributes to the slain soldier.Barely three hours later, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, along with his Cabinet Ministers, reached the airport to receive the Prime Minister who had come to address the rally.‘An insult’State BJP leader and Minister of Labour Resources Vijay Sinha reached the soldier’s home in Begusarai late on Sunday night, hours after the funeral was over. Angry family members of the jawan said the absence of State Ministers at the funeral was an “insult to the martyr”.In a video which has gone viral on social media, the Minister is seen telling the grieving family that there was a “communication gap and misunderstanding about the timing of the funeral”. He also said that because of the crowd at the Sankalp rally, he could not reach on time for the last rites. The jawan’s grieving father, Chakradhar Singh, later told journalists that the NDA leaders chose to neglect his son to attend the Patna rally.“It shows how concerned they are about the soldiers. NDA leaders were more concerned about the Sankalp rally of (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi. They have neglected to pay homage to a brave soldier who died for the country,” Chakradhar Singh said. His brother Sanjay Kumar Singh said, “Pintu has not received the honour he deserved from the State government. No NDA leader came to the airport… it hurts.”Later, JD(U) national vice-president and election strategist Prashant Kishor tweeted to apologise on behalf of his party. “We are sorry for the error of judgment on part of those of us who should have been there with you in this hour of grief,” tweeted Mr. Kishor. Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly Tejashwi Yadav slammed the ruling alliance’s disrespect to the slain soldier.
A jawan of the Central Reserved Police Force (CRPF) was killed and five others were injured in an attack by Naxalites in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district on Monday, officials said. The Naxalites first set off an improvised explosive device (IED) and then opened fire on the CRPF troopers of the 231st battalion, who along with a State police unit, were on road security duty in the district’s Aranpur area, they said The incident took place around 4.30 pm near the CRPF’s Kamal post in Dantewada, the officials said. In the attack, a head constable was killed, a senior official said. The security forces were attacked in a forest between Kondapara and Kamalpur villages under the Aranpur police station limits, Dantewada Superintendent of Police Abhishek Pallava said.
After an alleged brawl in the Jaipur Central Jail, the police have registered a first information report against seven inmates on charges of attacking the jail guards and a deputy jailor when they were inspecting a cell in a high-security ward of the prison on Saturday. The jail inmates include four accused in the 2008 Jaipur serial blasts case.The incident occurred after the accused, facing trial in the blasts case, wrote an application to the Special Judge seeking a direction to the jail administration to install a complaint box and ensure the visit of a judicial officer to their ward as per the guidelines of the jail manual. After the court issued notice to the jail authorities, the jail guards allegedly gave life threats to the accused.FIR registered In a brawl that followed, several prisoners were injured and deputy jailor Raj Mahendra reportedly fractured his finger. The inmates were taken to the jail dispensary for first aid. FIR against them has been registered under Sections 332 and 353 of IPC, dealing with the assault on public servants, at the Lal Kothi police station. While Director General (Prisons) N.R.K. Reddy said strict security measures had been taken to prevent the recurrence of violence on the jail premises, civil rights groups have demanded an inquiry into the incident and its background by a committee of independent observers as well as suspension of the jail officials who had allegedly threatened and beaten the inmates.
With rising mercury levels and a severe heat wave, there is a massive water crisis across Gujarat, particularly in the scarcity-hit Saurashtra region, Kutch, North Gujarat and parts of tribal pockets in central and South Gujarat.More than 20 districts in the State are severely affected. Towns and villages there hardly get water twice a week. In more than 500 villages in 14 districts, drinking water is being supplied through tankers and that number will only rise in the days to come.Recently, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani admitted that the State was in the midst of a major water shortage. He said that except for Narmada, all other water bodies and dams had negligible storage. “However, thanks to the Sardar Sarovar Dam and Narmada canal network, people will not face any difficulty till July-end. Water is available in the dam. The only challenge is to supply it to far flung areas, as many as 500 km away,” Mr. Rupani said after reviewing the situation.Subsequently, the State government asked the district administrations to send tankers to villages where water was not available.“After review and reports from local authorities, we have decided to send water to villages located in different districts by tankers, so that villages where local sources of water have dried up can get drinking water,” said Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel.According to officials, the number of villages needing water tankers will only rise in the coming days due to the high temperatures.In Saurashtra region’s main city Rajkot, water is supplied only for 20 minutes a day. In many localities and societies located on the outskirts, supply is on alternate days or through tankers. Even in Jasdan, assembly constituency of Kuvarji Bavalia, Water Supplies Minister of Gujarat, shortage of drinking water has forced villagers to hold protests.Local legislators have made representations demanding adequate water supply in their areas where local sources of water have dried up. Narmada water is the only source now.“In my area, more than two dozen villages are facing acute shortage,” said Congress legislator Virji Thummar from Amreli district. “I have written to the minister and demanded that all villages be provided water through tankers and tanker trips doubled.”
After senior Naga People’s Front leader and former Nagaland Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang’s announcement on Saturday about the Front’s decision to withdraw support to the BJP-led government in Manipur, another senior party leader said on Sunday that “they were forced to take the decision”.NPF Manipur State unit president Awangbou Newmai added that “bigger parties were looking down upon smaller parties.” After May 23He said that though the decision has been taken, it will be implemented after the entire electioneering process is complete on May 23.A senior BJP leader said on Sunday that if the NPF withdraws support, it will not have any effect on the coalition government.The senior BJP leader said that the party has 29 MLAs and has the support of one legislator each of the Lok Janshakti Party, AITC and an Independent in the 60-member Manipur Assembly. The NPF has four MLAs. The Congress had 29 MLAs after the 2017 Assembly polls, but eight of its legislators defected to the BJP last year, taking its tally from 21 to 29.Mr. Newmai claimed that the NPF was “forced” to take the decision as the “BJP has not honoured some of the agreements that were agreed upon when the coalition government was formed in 2017”. “We have been patient for some two years,” he said. The BJP has denied the allegations made by the NPF leader. The allegations are totally baseless and unfounded, said a senior party leader. A meeting of senior NPF leaders was held in Kohima on Saturday evening to take a decision. The meeting was held at the NPF’s central office, which was attended by party chief Shurhozelie Liezietsu, Opposition leader in Nagaland Assembly T.R. Zeliang, NPF core committee members and the party MLAs in Manipur.
Stars in our part of the Milky Way seem to be doing “the wave,” a new study suggests. The finding comes from an analysis of the motions of more than 70,000 red giant stars that lie within 6500 light-years of Earth—a distance that, in one direction, reaches about one-fourth of the way to the center of the galaxy. Above the horizontal plane that slices through the center of the galaxy, stars closer to the center of the galaxy than the sun are, in general, moving away from the plane at speeds of 10 kilometers per second or less. Meanwhile, those farther from the galactic center than the sun are moving toward the plane—in some cases, as fast as 17 kilometers per second. All together, the complexity of motions observed by the team is similar to that seen among molecules in a gas with a sound wave passing through it, the researchers report this month in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. As of yet, the reasons for these anomalous motions aren’t clear, the researchers note. The “wave” may indeed be a ripple caused by a long-ago collision with a small companion galaxy, or it may result from perturbations in pressure triggered as the Milky Way’s spiral arms (artist’s concept above) push their way through space as the galaxy rotates.See more ScienceShots.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)
Do you know science’s most famous animals? Take our quiz and find out!Tell us: Do you think research animals should be named? Vote now!Scientists once shied away from naming research animals, and many of the millions of mice and rats used in U.S. research today go nameless, except for special individuals. But a look at many facilities suggests that most of the other 891,161 U.S. research animals—including nonhuman primates, dogs, pigs, rabbits, cats, and sheep—have proper names. Mice are Harold, Copernicus, or Dudley. Monkeys are Nyah or Nadira. One octopus is called Nixon. Animals in research are named after shampoos, candy bars, whiskeys, family members, movie stars, and superheroes. These unofficial names rarely appear in publications, except sometimes in field studies of primates. But they’re used daily. Is this practice good or bad for research? Some scientists worry that names lead to anthropomorphizing and carry associations that could trigger bias. But others argue that animals that are named, and therefore seen as individuals, may be tended more carefully, making them less stressed. That’s better for the animals’ welfare as well as for study, these scientists say.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)
US car maker Ford Motors has said that it will begin importing the EcoSport compact crossover from India starting in 2018. Related Items
A court in New York has rejected former Goldman Sachs director Rajat Gupta’s bid to throw out his 2012 insider-trading conviction, affirming a lower court’s ruling in the case.The Second Circuit Court of Appeals, in an order issued on Monday, said: “We have considered all of Gupta’s arguments on this appeal and have found them to be without merit. The judgment of the district court is affirmed.”Read it at NDTV Related Items
The usual image of how creativity happens: A composer inadvertently hears a melody rising from a babbling brook, or an ad agency creative director crumples page after page of aborted ideas ripped from the typewriter until the right one lands. But creativity, some claim, can come from a far less elusive muse — from a structured process, one that opens up the ranks of the creative to a wider swath than the Steve Jobs, Jonas Salks and Franz Schuberts of the universe.On August 15, India’s Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a national mission of financial inclusion. Called the Pradhan Mantri’s Jan-Dhan Yojana — the Prime Minister’s People’s Wealth Program — it envisions bank accounts for all Indians. In its first phase, ending August 14, 2015, the target is 75 million accounts. “I wish to connect the poorest citizens of the country with the facility of bank accounts,” said Modi. “There are millions of families who have mobile phones, but no bank accounts. We have to change this. The change will commence from this point.”Earlier prime ministers had made similar grandiose announcements, with few results. Indira Gandhi started a campaign against poverty, but it never gained traction. Manmohan Singh started a campaign against unemployment, but that failed to take hold as well. The Modi government is still in its honeymoon period; people are willing to accept Jan-Dhan as a plan but not a reachable destination.On August 28, Modi formally launched the program. Banks across the country had been working overtime to make the necessary arrangements. On the first day, more than 15 million accounts were added. “It is the end of financial untouchability,” Modi noted. “It is the beginning of freedom from poverty.”It’s not just the accounts that enticed people to the camps set up by the public sector banks. Every account holder will get a RuPay debit card, launched by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)-promoted National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI); accident insurance cover of Rs.100,000 (approximately $1,650); life insurance coverage of Rs. 30,000 for those opening accounts before January 26 (celebrated as Republic Day in India), and an overdraft facility of Rs. 5,000.“Never before in economic history have 15 million bank accounts been opened in a single day,” said Modi. “Never before have insurance companies issued 15 million accident policies in a single day. Never before has the government of India organized a program of such scale — over 77,000 locations — with the participation of so many chief ministers, union ministers, and government and bank officials.”ICICI, India’s largest private sector bank, opened only 100,000 accounts that day. “ICICI Bank has been working on a comprehensive financial inclusion plan over the past four years,” MD and CEO Chanda Kochhar told Knowledge@Wharton. “Through our network, we cover approximately 15,600 villages and have brought more than 18.5 million unbanked people into the banking fold. We aim to open 2.5 million accounts under the yojana, taking the total number of accounts under our financial inclusion program to more than 20 million.” As of September 8, major private sector banks taken together opened just 580,000 accounts.Reasons for ConcernIt remains to be seen whether the program will lead to big changes. “This is a small step and the take-up is encouraging,” says Wharton finance professor Krishna Ramaswamy. “It might lead to small and improved savings in an accountable and hopefully trustworthy way.”The skepticism comes in part due to questions about the veracity of the numbers themselves. RBI governor Raghuram Rajan has publicly warned the banks not to run after records. “We have to make sure the Jan-Dhan Yojana does not go off track,” he said at a conference on September 15. “The target is universality, not just speed and numbers.”According to H.K. Pradhan, professor of finance and economics at XLRI Jamshedpur, there are concerns of duplicate accounts from people who may have opened them “without really understanding what they were doing.” He adds that the issue will be sorted out when biometric identification is introduced. But there could be operational complications: Anybody in India can open multiple accounts, so how can there be a different rule for the currently unbanked?The second — and more important — issue is that India’s problem of financial inclusion is gargantuan. According to World Bank data, only 35% of Indians have an account with a formal financial institution. This is 42% in the case of men and 27% for women. Only 8% have debit cards and 2% credit cards. According to the government’s 2011 Census, 58.7% households utilize formal banking services.Rating agency Crisil, a Standard & Poor’s company, has a financial inclusion index called the Inclusix. The all-India Inclusix score is 40.1 (which mean that about 40% of the country has access to formal banking services). There are wide variations — from 62.2% in the southern region to 28.6% in the eastern region.The high-powered Nachiket Mor committee on Comprehensive Financial Services for Small Businesses and Low-Income Households, set up by the RBI, found that 60% of the rural and urban population did not have a functional bank account. “India’s financial inclusion indicators, particularly in banking, put it below the median of countries, and bank accounts are a first step to inclusion,” says Rajesh Chakrabarti, executive director of the Bharti Institute of Public Policy at the Indian School of Business.According to a report by global consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, India’s continued growth can only be assured “if steps are taken to ensure that social and economic development is inclusive.” Financial inclusion has moved into public consciousness only over the past decade or so. “Financial inclusion can no longer be treated as a fringe subject,” notes Jayanta Nath Mukhopadhyaya, director of the J.D. Birla Institute (department of management). “It has to be recognized as an important part of the mainstream thinking on economic development.”The immediate challenge for banks, Pradhan says, will be acquiring the technology needed to facilitate more financial inclusion. “Moreover banks need to convert the old and dormant accounts into the new financial inclusion accounts in order to get the accident coverage and overdraft facility for the account holders.” This means that some of the work done on financial inclusion so far will have to be duplicated.“There is much more to financial inclusion” than simply opening accounts, says M.S. Sriram, visiting faculty at the Centre for Public Policy at the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore. “The state needs to put its resources to ensure that the infrastructure backbone is available — which means that there is ubiquitous presence of interoperable point of sale devices that allow people to transact without a hefty fee…. Once this architecture is available, the poor will start transacting.”Chakrabarti adds that the government “seems to be fighting the symptoms rather than the disease. The point is for the formal banking system to be present when needed and be superior in convenience and efficiency. However, the approach taken seems to be to lure people into banking through incentives and to hope that the habit sets in. The trouble is that once the sweetener goes away, day-to-day banking provides little benefit in convenience to many users at the bottom of the pyramid.”Long Road AheadThe consensus of opinion is that Jan-Dhan is a worthwhile effort, but it’s too early to say whether it will succeed. “As compared to its predecessor — the Swabhiman scheme — this program has a high possibility of success due to two major strategic improvements,” states Rana Kapoor, MD & CEO of YES Bank and president of apex chamber Assocham. “First, it mandates provision of ATM-cum-debit cards to each account holder instead of the Smartcard (for thumbprint authentication) as earlier, where the customer was solely dependent upon agents or business correspondents. ATM debit cards give 24-7 access to savings, which is critical for the below-the-poverty-line population. The quantum of savings is limited and probability of emergency requirements is high.”Kapoor says that the unbanked cannot be subject to one-size-fits-all schemes. “Among the currently excluded population, there are two broad sub-categories,” Kapoor notes. “There is (the) segment that has both need of financial services and the inclination to pay reasonable charges for them. The rapid proliferation of microfinance institutions and gold loan non-banking finance companies highlights this potential. The other segment is that of people heavily dependent on state subsidies for their livelihood. For this segment, though the other financial services may not be relevant, having a savings account to receive these subsidies without pilferage is highly desirable.”According to Sriram, the main problem in achieving meaningful financial inclusion in India is the mechanism used for carrying out transactions. “This translates into the physical outlet where the transaction could happen and the interoperability of this outlet with other possible sources of payments apart from the users’ own transactions.”The physical outlet where the transaction could happen is also a matter of debate. Kapoor has been talking about ATMs. Others are pushing for more bank branches. The new banks recently licensed are supposed to concentrate on this area. “We will prove that serving the poor is sustainable and cost effective for a bank,” C.S. Ghosh, chairman of microfinance institution Bandhan, which has been granted a bank license, told morning daily DNA.Others feel that it’s necessary to widen the scope of the business correspondents (BCs), retail agents that work with banks to provide financial services at locations other than branches and ATMs. The correspondents were created in January 2006 in response to guidelines issued by the RBI.”We currently have a presence across 499 districts in 28 states through more than 28,000 business correspondent/customer service points,” says Rishi Gupta, chief operating officer and executive director of FINO PayTech, a technology provider and business correspondent to banks. “The number of business correspondents deployed is dependent on partner banks and their mandates. Given the scale of the financial inclusion program, a larger network of business correspondent agents is imperative to reach out to the unbanked masses.”While the modalities and the project infrastructure will need fine-tuning, there is one basic fear hanging over the Jan-Dhan: Will it turn into a massive subsidy scheme with a damaging impact on the government’s finances? “The accounts can become a good way of providing directed credit, but the overdraft and insurance coverage can very well make it a giant subsidy scheme in itself,” says Chakrabarti. “It is clearly an expensive scheme with no clear plans for creating a sustained demand for inclusion.” Kapoor is more neutral. “Though the current BC-based delivery mechanism does envisage banks subsidizing the cost of opening and maintaining these accounts, these operating costs are still manageable at the banks at an aggregate level. However, if we add the cost of potential defaults due to the overdraft facility, it will become quite a burden on banks.”“The bottom line of banks will be affected if the scheme has to be kept alive through subsidies,” adds Pradhan. “It must be self-sustainable. With cash transfers under several welfare programs getting directly into the account holders, the user frequency will also increase. The RuPay card, which is interoperable across the banking system, as well as usable at merchant establishments, can open up a plethora of transaction opportunities for the unbanked, including wage payments to migrant workers. So the potential for broadening and deepening of financial services to underserved markets and regions is huge.”Chakrabarti of ISB is skeptical. “The program in itself does not look very different from the ‘No-frills account’ drive that was done years ago and (resulted in) millions of accounts opened, most of which remained dormant,” he says. Adds Sriram: “Until now, no large-scale, centrally driven program has worked. There is no reason to believe that this will work, unless there is a business case for it. Schemes result in a flurry of activity and show instantaneous results, but to sustain these, there has to be a business case.”Building a Business CaseThe government, however, has already articulated a business case, specifically that banks should profit from the float as the numbers are enormous. And the Jan-Dhan is creating the infrastructure for direct benefit transfers including subsidies, pensions and payments under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. The banks will get a 2% commission on these transfers. The accident insurance will be funded by the NPCI from the revenue generated from RuPay credit card transactions. The life insurance coverage details are yet to be worked out. The Rs. 5,000 overdraft will apply to only accounts in which there have been a certain number of transactions.But there are other costs. Banks have to spend Rs. 100 to Rs. 150 per account on the necessary paperwork, the cost of holding camps, and the commission paid to BCs who are authorized to open accounts in places remote from bank branches and camps. These are zero deposit accounts, so the question of a float doesn’t arise if too many people take that option.That fear has at least been partly laid to rest. In a cabinet meeting to review the progress of the scheme, it was revealed that as of September 8, 30.2 million accounts had been opened. Banks have collected deposits of Rs. 14,965 million. This works out to Rs. 495 per account. The RuPay cards have lagged, with only 3.36 million being issued.Another prong of Jan-Dhan is financial literacy. “Financial literacy has to be accorded the highest priority, which should be appropriately blended with consumer protection measures,” says Pradhan. “This is where the role of banks and other channel partners such as insurance companies is important.” Adds Mukhopadhyaya: “We have to increase financial inclusion of the poor by increasing awareness of available financial services and strengthening financial literacy. Due to inadequate financial infrastructure and illiteracy, we will have to leverage using IT.”Adds Ramaswamy: “The program is introducing the ideas of insurance and savings alternatives to a huge population — and that, in my view, will take place in India very quickly, if the take-up of mobile phone usage is a decent predictor.”The Promise of MobileThe vast penetration of mobile usage in India is also one big reason why Jan-Dhan could work. At the end of July 2014, the country had 919 million mobile connections — only China is ahead of that total. According to a State Bank of India (SBI) report, the vision is to “gradually move in a direction where every poor person is able to operate his bank account from his mobile, as mobile penetration is higher than financial services penetration.” Low-income populations benefit the most from technological innovations such as mobile payments, mobile banking and borrower identification based on fingerprinting and iris scans, reported the World Bank. “Innovations make financial services cheaper and easier to access for the poor, women and rural residents, especially those living in remote, less populated regions without brick-and-mortar bank branches,” says the Bank’s 2014 “Global Financial Development Report.”Though Jan-Dhan mandates that mobile banking be made possible through ordinary mobile phones, smartphone adoption is picking up steam in India, as well. A functional smartphone is being retailed for the relatively low price of Rs. 1,999 ($33). The largest countries for smartphone sales in 2014 will be China (283 million), India (225 million), and the U.S. (89 million), research company Mediacells predicts.Smartphones for the unbanked? Believe it or not, there may be more smartphones in the villages of India than in the cities. Sunil Sood, chief operating officer of Vodafone, says that the rejected technology of urban India trickles down to rural areas. Mobile service providers often encourage this, as their concern is the number of connections and talk time. And mobile banking transactions are already up sharply. “From June 2013 to June 2014, we have more than tripled our per month value of transactions from Rs. 3,332 million to over Rs.10,000 million – which is the first for any bank in India,” says an ICICI spokesperson.The Mor panel had suggested that every Indian would be provided with a bank account by January 2016. Two of its members — Axis Bank CEO Shikha Sharma and Bank of Baroda chairman and managing director S.S. Mundra — felt this was too ambitious. In a note attached to the report, they said that January 2018 was more realistic. Modi had initially fixed August 14, 2015, as the date of completion of the first phase of his program. Now he wants it done by January 26, 2015 — one year before the target set by Mor and three years before Sharma and Mundra. Related Items