November 2015
India and Foreign Direct Investments: The Need for Strong Internal Synergies

With Indian States reaching out for foreign direct investment, Tridivesh Singh Maini points out that though investors’ summits are important, States s

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Announcing the winners of EU-THC Essay Competition on Climate Change

Seven winners of the #MyClimateMyFuture essay and photo competition were felicitated in a ceremony held today at New Delhi. The winners 'voiced out' t

From despair to hope to victory: How Nitish Kumar had his revenge

In 2013, Nitish Kumar parted ways from an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Narendra Modi, arguing that Modi’s politics was at odds w

"Will you celebrate a double Diwali?"

Prime Minister Narendra Modi taunted and mocked the Mahaghatbandhan only to have his words recoil on him.

Caste, Urban Spaces and the State: Dalits in Telangana

This report looks at the emerging caste politics in the newly formed State of Telangana, as well as the policy towards Dalits, or, the castes that fall under the government category of Scheduled Castes (SCs). A survey was conducted in four Dalit neighbourhoods (bastis) in Hyderabad, the capital of the new Telangana State, covering 216 respondents. This report reveals notions of impurity and inferiority that still dictate the occupations and livelihoods of Dalits, particularly in the city of Hyderabad. It also analyses the tools available to Andhra Pradesh’s and the newly created Telangana State’s Dalit population to understand how Scheduled Caste reservation policy shapes the space and availability for inclusion in the public and private sectors. Of late, several studies led by economists and sociologists look into the effects of caste discrimination on the ability of Dalits to get employment, education, and equal status in society. This report highlights some of the challenges faced by the Dalit community in Hyderabad as well as the effectiveness of the policies in pre- and post-bifurcated Andhra Pradesh. [PDF 940 KB]

Report of the Seventh Central Pay Commission

The Union Government appointed the four-member Seventh Central Pay Commission headed by Justice Ashok Kumar Mathur on February 24, 2014, to "examine, review, evolve and recommend changes" that should govern the "emoluments structure including pay, allowances and other facilities/benefits, in cash or kind" for the following categories of employees: (i) Central Government employees—industrial and non-industrial; (ii) Personnel belonging to the All India Services; (iii) Personnel of the Union Territories; (iv) Officers and employees of the Indian Audit and Accounts Department; (v) Members of the regulatory bodies (excluding the RBI) set up under the Acts of Parliament; and (vi) Officers and employees of the Supreme Court The Commission submitted its report on November 18, 2014. Its recommendations include a 23.55 per cent increase in pay, allowances and pension for government employees, and will have an impact on 47 lakh employees and 52 lakh pensioners. The Report of the Seventh Central Pay Commission can be accessed at the following link in PDF format.   Click here for the full Report of Seventh Central Pay Commission, as a PDF [7.19 MB].  

Crisis of Urban Governance in India

India’s urbanisation process has laid bare the crisis, or rather absence of urban governance. This report explains how India’s urban local bodies, which are democratic institutions conceived to be closest to the citizens, have been rendered inefficient by the governments at the Centre and the States. The 74th Constitutional Amendment Act meant to devolve power to urban local bodies was merely a cosmetic exercise which did not bring about any changes in the way our municipalities were governed. States continue to have overriding powers and accountability structures in urban areas are weak. Devoid of power — legal, financial and administrative — urban local bodies merely remain a tool of party politics at the grass-root level. In the light of rapid urbanisation, the report states that it is pertinent to go beyond the existing laws and enact mandatory provisions that would give real powers to urban local bodies, with the conviction of making the country a genuine democracy. At a practical level, the report suggests that the policy makers have to think of what is doable if revolutionary changes are not possible. [PDF 17.4 MB]

Bankruptcy Law Reform

An effective legal framework for insolvency that gives both entrepreneurs and creditors confidence that the path for exit is predictable and relativel

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M.K. Narayanan for ‘across the border’ citizenship for Tamil refugees

Advocating ‘across the border’ citizenship for Sri Lankan Tamil refugees presently living in India, the former National Security Adviser, M.K. Narayanan, on Wednesday said, “it was not easy, but it should be possible.” Speaking at a colloquium ‘The Future of Sri Lankan Tamil Refugees in India’ organised by The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy, he endorsed the argument that providing financial support to refugees who intend to return should help them. Source: The Hindu, CHENNAI, November 5, 2015 Read More... The Hindu, CHENNAI, November 4, 2015 Published in other Media: The News Minute, Friday, November 6, 2015 The Times of India, Nov 4, 2015 Daily news, Friday, 6th November 2015

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Event report: "Refugees complement the population, they do not compete with it" (includes video)

Video: Colloquium on The Future of Sri Lankan Tamil Refugees in India   “All major migrations are a great human tragedy,” said M.K. Narayanan, former Governor of West Bengal, former National Security Advisor to the Indian government and erstwhile director of the Intelligence Bureau, at a public conversation on the ‘Future of Sri Lankan Tamil Refugees in India’, held at the Music Academy in Chennai on November 4. Recalling his days in Calcutta (now Kolkata) when Mujib Nagar (the provisional government of Bangladesh during its liberation struggle) was being run from there, he said that he was privy to the great human crisis of over a million refugees coming in and living in abysmal conditions. “Fortunately, there was a change in government and it was possible for them to go back very soon thereafter. The problem or the tragedy of the Sri Lankan refugees is that they have now been refugees – at least many of them have been refugees – for 30 years,” he said. While most of them would like to go back provided they have security, a few problems could arise on the question of providing across the border citizenship to those who would want to stay back. He said that there were people in many countries who wanted to be Indian citizens. It was not easy but in the case of the Sri Lankan Tamils, “it should be possible to think of this”. This event, organised by The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy, a policy resource centre from the publishers of The Hindu, was held to glean greater insights into the state of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees currently residing in India and what lies ahead for them. The speakers at the event included S.C. Chandrahasan, Chief Functionary of the Organisation for Eelam Refugees Rehabilitation (OfERR), N. Ram, Chairman, Kasturi & Sons Ltd., and R.K. Radhakrishnan, Senior Deputy Editor of Frontline. In a research presentation, Mr. Radhakrishnan, who has been investigating the plight of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in India for a long time, highlighted that there were 1,02,055 Sri Lankan Tamil refugees currently in Tamil Nadu residing in camps, outside camps as legal refugees and in “special camps”, where only former Tamil militants are held. There are 109 refugees camps evenly spread across Tamil Nadu, he maintained, and added that the living conditions in these camps leave a lot to be desired. They included very small cell-like rooms that have not been maintained or refurbished for a few decades. Across the Palk Strait, in Sri Lanka's northern Mannar district, for which data on returnees from 2009 is available, facilitites remain grossly inadequate. While sanitation provisions exceeded the requirement, other basic amenities like drinking water and power were in short supply. Besides, regular employment for the refugees was also among issues that needed to be addressed. He said camps that were located in urban areas tended to be slightly better than those in rural areas, where finding employment was a huge obstacle for the refugees. Adding to the discussion Mr. Ram said, “The subject of Tamil refugees is a major foreign policy, humanitarian and political issue for India. This is a post-1983 development with a 32-year-old history.” He also added, “Indian journalists have covered the refugee issue but it has not been sustained coverage.” Addressing the biggest question of the event about the right of return for Sri Lankan Tamil refugees, Mr. Chandrahasan maintained that most refugees wanted to return to Sri Lanka but, for a long time, their safety on their home territory was questionable. He said that children born to Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in India automatically became stateless, as they didn’t belong to the country they were born in and could neither return to the home country. He said, “In 1983, when we came to India, the Sri Lankan Tamils had left the country for the first time after the pogrom. Before that, they had only moved from safe house to safe house. But the poorest of the poor had to cross the straits and come to India. Many perished in the process.” He added that the world had to re-think their approach to refugees and that the current refugee crisis emanating from the conflict in Syria and the reaction of Western governments was not something to be proud of. He asserted that refugees should not be seen as competitors to the local population but as a group that could complement it. Sri Lankan Tamil refugees came to India and were organised enough to ask for certain conditions to be met. Mr. Chandrahasan talked about how they had approached the Tamil Nadu government to spread the refugees throughout the State and not ghettoise them in a few camps. Mr. Chandrahasan said that India had treated the Sri Lankan Tamil refugees as “honoured guests” and had gone way beyond the traditional script of “accommodating” refugees. He added that there was 100 per cent literacy amongst Sri Lankan Tamil refugees, a statistic of which the community was very proud. Addressing the need for solutions, Mr. Chandrahasan placed a few alternatives before the audience. First, refugees could return with some assistance from the Indian government. Second, they could apply for Indian citizenship, and finally, they could petition for third-party asylum. He said that the durable solution was to return and that the Indo-Sri Lanka accord of 1987 was a good example of how a process of return could be initiated and supported. Mr. Narayanan said that he hoped that the current government would endorse the 13th Amendment Plus program. He said, “There is a great deal of churn for the last few years within the government about what should be done about people who want citizenship and come to India in certain conditions.” He added, “Irrespective of whatever government is in power, there is an inexorable pace with which change is taking place in the government.” Representatives of diplomatic missions in Chennai, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and South Korea, attended the event. Also present in the audience were retired diplomat M. Ganapathy, retired professor of South and Southeast Asian Studies in University of Madras, former Director General of Police of Tamil Nadu A.X. Alexander and a member of the Tamil National Alliance in Sri Lanka, Poongodai Chandrahasan. In a sudden incident that shocked the audience, Mr. Narayanan was attacked by a member of the audience when the dignitary got off the dais at the end of the event and was interacting with other invitees. The man had gained entry into the secure auditorium after falsely registering as Raghavan, a freelance writer from Aranthangi in Pudukottai district of Tamil Nadu. He attacked Mr. Narayanan with a slipper and raised slogans against the former National Security Advisor. He was quickly overpowered by Mr. Alexander and Mr. Narayanan’s personal security guard with the help of policemen present inside the hall. He was whisked away to Royapettah Police Station. Upon interrogation, police said that he identified himself as Prabhakaran, a Sri Lankan Tamil whose family moved to Tamil Nadu in the 1970s. He reportedly belongs to the May 17 Movement, a group that came into existence in 2009 after the fall of the LTTE. Subsequently, he was booked under sections 341 (wrongful restraint), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 355 (assault or criminal force with intent to dishonour person) and 507(i) [criminal intimidation] of the Indian Penal Code. He was remanded to judicial custody for 15 days. The Hindu Centre had received prior threats of disruption by the May 17 Movement following which the Tamil Nadu police had provided elaborate security at the auditorium. A few metres away from the venue, about 50 members of the May 17 Movement were picked up by the police when they attempted to stage a protest and march to the venue. A scrutiny of footage of the event revealed that the assailant occupied an aisle seat in the middle rows. He moved down the aisle towards the dais when Mr. Narayanan was interacting with other invitees near the front rows. Once Mr. Narayanan came close, the assailant hurled a slipper at him which glanced the back of his head and ended up being caught by Mr. Ram, who was right behind. He then handed it over to the police. *This article was corrected on November 9, 2015, to make a distinction between refugee camps in Tamil Nadu and the resettlement facilities available in Sri Lanka. Click here to download Power Point Presentation by RK. Radhakrishnan .