Maggi failed samples lab test, Nestle fined 45 lakh

The court of additional district magistrate in Shahjahanpur (UP) slapped a fine of Rs 45 lakh on Nestle India and its distributors as its vintage noodles brand Maggi allegedly failed to pass the lab test. The laboratory report confirmed the presence of ash content more than the allowable limit in samples of Maggi noodles.

A fine of 45 lakh on Nestle, 15 lakh on its three distributors and 11 lakh on its two sellers have been imposed by the district magistrate. As per the district authorities, they had collected the samples last year in November and sent them for a lab test, which had discovered ash content over the given limits of human consumption. The Nestle India, however, questioned the lab findings and said that it has not received the order yet and would file an appeal urgently once it receives the order. A Nestle India spokesperson said that “While we have not received the orders passed by the adjudication officer, we have been informed that the samples are of the year 2015 and the issue pertains to ash content in Noodles”.

“This appears to be a case of application of incorrect standards, and we will file an appeal urgently once we receive the order,” the spokesperson added. He further added that “The standards have since been introduced and the product complies with these standards. We regret the confusion it may cause to consumers. We strongly reiterate that Maggi Noodles are 100 percent safe for consumption”. In June 2015, Maggi was banned by FSSAI for allegedly containing lead more than allowable limits, which forced Nestle India to withdraw the product from the market. The famous noodles brand was in the market in November amid legal battles.

Kopardi rape and murder case: Ahmedabad court awarded death sentence to all three convicts

On Wednesday, a sessions court in Ahmedabad sentenced three men to death for the rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl last year, a case that headed to statewide protests and anger from the Maratha community. The Additional Special Judge Suvarna Kevale announced the death sentence to Jitendra Babulal Shinde, Santosh Gorakh Bhawal, and Nitin Gopinath Bhailume as they were held guilty on multiple counts including rape, murder, and criminal conspiracy.

The sentence will be implemented only after the top court confirms it. The mother of the victim, who broke down following the sentencing, said that “Today my little daughter got justice in true sense”. The security was tightened around the court when the judge announced the quantum of sentence, calling the sensitivities of the communities of the victim and the convicts, and the violence that the caste divide triggered last week. As per the 350-page chargesheet in the case, the victim was coming back home in the evening from her grandfather’s house when the trio grabbed her at an isolated place and attacked her.

Due to the heavy protest, the government had to appoint Ujjwal Nikam as the special public prosecutor and fast-track the case. The father of victim after the court verdict said that “We thank public prosecutor, chief minister and the entire Maratha community for their efforts in bringing the accused to books”.

I’m Lashkar’s biggest supporter and know they like me, says Pervez Musharraf

The former Pakistani military ruler Pervez Musharraf has said this week that he likes Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Saeed and is the “biggest supporter” of the Lashkar-e-Taiba as it involved in targeting the Indian Army in Kashmir. The former military dictator, who is currently living in self-exile in Dubai since leaving Pakistan following being charged with sedition, made the comments during the time he was appearing on a TV talk show late on Tuesday night.

While replying to a question on how the man who had once followed the policy of “enlightened moderation” was associating with hardline Islamic groups, Musharraf said that “I’m the biggest supporter of Lashkar-e-Taiba and I know the LeT and JuD people like me”. When he was asked that if he likes the founder of LeT Saeed, Musharraf said, “Yes, I have met him, even recently…I have always been in favor of action in Kashmir, and I’ve always been in their favor, that in Kashmir we must pressure the Indian Army and this (LeT) is the biggest force.” He also added that the LeT “was not involved” in the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

The attack on India’s financial hub was carried by a LeT team of 10 people, and later the Pakistan officially accepted the conspiracy behind the attacks was planned in its country in 2009 and arrested seven people for the same, including LeT operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi. “It is the requirement of the day, you must do everything in light of the reality of Pakistan. I am liberal and moderate, these are my thoughts but that doesn’t mean I’m against all religious people,” he added. Weeks after a terror attack on the Indian Parliament, the Musharraf’s government had banned the LeT and Jaish-e-Mohammed in January 2002.

The former President claimed India and the US got the LeT “declared terrorists”. “Yes, they are involved in Kashmir and in Kashmir, it is between we and India,” he added. “The situation was different at that time. My vision was that we were moving towards peace, they (India) were moving toward my four-point agenda (for resolving the Kashmir issue), let us reduce mujahideen and increase political…” Musharraf said when asked about why he had banned the LeT in 2002. The former President also expressed a recent White House statement calling on Pakistan to arrest Saeed and act against him as “offensive”.

“This is very offensive language and an insult to Pakistan’s sovereignty. I would never accept this language and I would have said, ‘Please don’t dictate to us. We are in charge here, we decide on who is the LeT head, whether he has to be tried, whether he has to be punished. It is our decision,” Musharraf claimed.

Breaker(s) Ahead: The 15th Finance Commission

The Finance Commission, is a body that focuses on the expenditure related between Centre and the States. The purpose of the commission in aims at evolving methods to make the revenue sharing between the centre and the states more effective and give it a unionist tinge.

India is a union of states with a strong centralising tendency, thus that is what the finance commission does, remains a facilitator to help the centre and the states to make effective use of the funds in the consolidated fund. The commission also watches over th distribution of money between the state and the municipal bodies and the gram panchayats. All of this remains in line with the policies of the Centre.

The fifteenth finance commission has been constituted with a broader perspective of focusing on the recent developments in the economy, and make them tune well with the states. The function of this commission is just like the first one which had to tackle policies to build a new federation.

Mr NK Singh, the chairman of the fresh finance commission is an experienced man with the erstwhile planning commission. The tasks of this finance commission are not easy and they are posed to deal with the breakers that lie ahead.

The immediate tasks of the new finance commission will be to look into the new revenue sharing between the states and the centre in the backdrop of the new taxation regime put in place by the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST). the states and the centre are possibly trying to cope up with the loss in the revenue which has been made by the implementation of the GST, where the ordinary businessman finds it uneasy to file returns, while the government tries its level best to provide a user-friendly interface and hassle free services with the aid of tech giant Infosys.

There is another problem which is simmering on the back burner, those problems are deeply integrated with the ailing banking sector which is currently dealing with the largest pile of NPAs and bad loans. Amidst these, there is redundant economic sluggishness defined by slow output in the industrial growth and credit cycles.

The biggest glitch is the states that have announced farm loan waivers and the states in the que that are yet to announce the farm loan waivers, which will impact the consolidated funds of the states. The finance commission will have to look at the shallow pockets of the nation ad its constituents and suggest a way forward, while reducing the risks and delivering what the masses need.

The other problem seems to be coming from the urban local bodies and village bodies that are dragging their feet under the calls for speedy development and fund crisis. As the calls for smart cities and smart villages grow louder, the states will see their pockets over burdened with limited resources at bay.

Theses are just the broad pictures, while the states where there are BJP governments, may fall in line to the tune of the commission, those with the parties from the opposition may not feel the spirits and may shy away. Recently, Rajnath Singh held a meeting of the inter state council (12th) where he had the opportunity to stress upon co-operative federalism.

The need of the hour remains a concerted effort to build wide consensus among the states and to pursue a common fiscal agenda to meet the fiscal goals that are being emboldened by the economy at large. The states have to put the gears together with the centre to promote the development spree if the economy has to grow at unbeatable levels and provide jobs, at the times of diminished revenues and economic output.

Though India Inc has positive macroeconomic credentials, agriculture, industrial and services sectors call for greater round the clock management which has to be tackled by the this commission, while streamlining the post-GST status of the economy.

The commission will also have to take the opposition into confidence to promote a co-operative agenda and will have to work closely with the NITI Aayog, PM’s Economic Advisory Council, RBI’s MPC, and the states. Some serious business needs to be done to manage the overall situation.


CBFC orders reexamination for S Durga, won’t screen in IFFI 2017

On Tuesday, the 48th International Film Festival of India (IFFI), which comes to an end on Tuesday evening will not screen Malayalam film S Durga as the Indian Panorama jury that saw the movie on Monday evening escalated some issues regarding its certification. The decision of government-sponsored festival came following the Kerala High Court directed IFFI and the Information and Broadcasting ministry to screen the globally-acclaimed film once the jury saw its certified version.

The jury led by filmmaker Rahul Rawail watched the film and after a meeting of four-five hours told mediapersons that “it had conveyed its decision to the ministry”, which will update the court. There had been suspense going on over the jury’s decision since morning. Just some minutes ago, the film’s director Sanal Sasidharan was notified that the will not be screened by IFFI director Sunil Tandon over an email. Mentioning the reason behind this development, Sunil wrote, “Following the screening, certain issues related to the certification of the film with reference to the title of the film were raised. This was referred to the CBFC clarification. In response to the queries, CBFC has issued the orders attached herewith. As a consequence, to the orders of CBFC, the film cannot be exhibited till the issues are resolved.”

The CBFC cited that Tandon mentioned in the mail that the IFFI jury criticized film’s title on the title card was shown by the filmmaker as ‘S### Durga’ instead of ‘S Durga’. The Thiruvananthapuram censor board wrote to the film’s producer Shaji Mathew that “…(Where the # means rectangular white boxes) which has totally different implications and are effectively undermining and attempting to defeat the very basis of the title registration and the changes effected thereby. It appears you have prima facie deliberately violated the Rule 33 of the Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 1983. In this connection, I am directed to uniform you that the above film will be re-examined under the provision of the Cinematograph Act, 1952 and Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 1983. Till then, you may not exhibit the film”.

The issue regarding S Durga first came in September when I&B ministry rejected the approval for its screening at the Mumbai Film Festival, which was expected to be held in October. The film’s title was Sexy Durga at that point in time. The filmmakers approached the censor board, who advised the makers to remove the word sexy from its title and cut some words from the dialogues to get the certificate. Later, the title was changed to ‘S Durga’ and the film finally got screened at the Mumbai Film Festival. Later, the film was selected by the Indian Panorama jury for competition at IFFI. But I&B ministry decided to remove the film from the final list without informing the then jury chairman Sujoy Ghosh. In order to show protest against the ministry’s decision, Ghosh and two other members of jury resigned from their respective post.

PM Modi launches Hyderabad Metro train

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi flags off the Hyderabad Metro Rail and also took a first ride along with Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekhar Rao. The metro rail’s first phase covers a 30-km stretch between Miyapur and Nagole, having 24 stations. The Hyderabad metro train will start for the general public from Wednesday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was accompanied by the governor of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana E S L Narasimhan, Union minister for housing and urban affairs Hardeep Singh Puri, Telangana’s IT minister K T Rama Rao and state BJP chief K Laxman in the train’s maiden run. The Telangana’s information technology minister K T Rama Rao said last week that the trains would run from 6 am to 10 pm in the starting and the timings would be rescheduled to 5.30 am to 11 pm, depending on the traffic and demand.

Rao added that the Hyderabad metro rail is the most innovative and largest such project in the world in public-private partnership (PPP). The price fixed for a minimum distance of up to two km of Rs 10 and the maximum fare is Rs 60 for a distance of more than 26 km. Every train would have three coaches in the starting and 330 people can travel in each coach. Rao said that number of coaches could be increased to six relying on the traffic.

Padmavati row: Supreme Court blasts on CMs, ministers for commenting against “Padmavati”

The Supreme Court rejected a petition on Tuesday asking a stay on the UK release of Padmavati, and also took a strong stand against people holding public offices, including ministers and chief ministers of various states for making unnecessary comments. The apex court added that such people must avoid from passing such comments till the film is cleared by Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, and justices A M Khanvilkar and D Y Chandrachud said that the remarks made by people holding responsible posts are indefensible and would create tension, and is against principles of law. The top court, on the other hand, dismissed a plea demanding criminal prosecution of producers and director of ‘Padmavati’ and criticized harshly the petitioner for filing a “frivolous petition”. The director Sanjay Leela Bhansali assured the Supreme Court that they will not release ‘Padmavati’ in other countries till the time film is passed by CBFC. Bhansali cleared the fact that the film will not be released overseas on December 1.

“All concerned persons holding responsible posts must be guided by rule of law and should not venture out to pass comment on film which has not been cleared by CBFC. It will prejudice the mind of board members while taking a decision on the film,” the Supreme Court said.