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Showing posts with label Featured. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Featured. Show all posts

Friday, 27 January 2017

10 Incredible Commoner-Indians who Got Padma Shri Awards


Since the time India became independent, the central government has been honoring people who have made their mark in the society with their work. Thus, the Indian citizens were getting Padma Awards – Padma Vibushan, Padma Bhushan, and Padma Shri – for their contribution to the society. If we look at the list of people who got these awards, we get the impression that people related to arts, cinema or politics are eligible. This is because the central government at different points in time chose to only honor such people, leaving others to fend for themselves. Yet, good Samaritans kept their good work without expecting anything. Now, the central government under the leadership of Narendra Modi has adopted a different route. This time around, it has looked for commoners who have silently contributed to making the society a decent place to live in. In this blog post, we will look at such 10 people who have made changes to the society in whatever way they can. Photos courtesy Huffington Post.

padma shri

Padma Shri Awards for Commoners

In a heartening development, the central government has given away fourth-highest civilian award Padma Shri to many of the unsung heroes of the country, which is a departure from the often-followed way of choosing those in arts, science, and politics. These awardees have enriched the lives of those around them. They come from wide range of society, starting from fighting fires, farming in drought-like conditions, to preserving a dying art from oblivion with energy and perseverance.

common indians

  1. Doctor Dadi: She is a 91-year-old doctor from Indore who has been offering health services free of cost to many people. To date, she has successfully treated over 1000 people in her locality. Her real name is Bakti Yadav.

    doctor dadi

  2.  Shekhar Naik: He is the captain of a successful blind cricket team. He dedicated his life to promoting the game of cricket among the blinds.

    shekhar naik

  3. Meenakshi Amma: She is fondly called as ‘granny with the sword’ or ‘Meenakshi Gurukkal’. This 76-year-old Kerala granny has been practicing and teaching Kalaripayattu for 60 years. She began practicing this martial arts form, which is the root for all the Chinese martial arts forms, at the tender age of 7 years.

    meenakshi amma

  4. Bipin Ganatra: This 59-year-old man from West Bengal has been volunteering for firefighting missions with trained fire brigade personnel for last 40 years. He chose to take up this profession as a mission after he lost his brother to an inferno.

    bipin ganatra

  5. Chintakindi Mallesham: This 41-year-old Telangana man has invented Lakshmi ASU machine that reduces the cost and time of weaving Pochampalli silk sarees. His invention helped many in the looms sector with over 60% adopting his machine to reduce the cost of function. He told the media persons that he invented this machine to help his mother to handle the workload.

    chintakindi mallesham

  6. Daripalli Ramaiah: He is another person from Telangana who has devoted his life to the cause of making India green. The 68-year-old plants seeds wherever he sees barren land. To date, he has planted over one crore trees.


  7. Karimul Haque: This 52-year-old tea-garden worker has taken up a different job of rescuing people from accident sites. He does this round-the-clock. For this purpose, he has converted his bike into an ambulance. He took up this job as his mission after he saw his mother dying due to the non-availability of an ambulance.


  8.  Genabhai Darghabhai Patel: This 52-year-old specially-abled farmer from Gujarat has transformed his drought-prone village in Banaskantha district into the largest producer of pomegranate in India through drip irrigation.

    genabhai patel

  9.  Dr. Subrato Das: This 51-year-old physician from Gujarat has been hailed by many as ‘Highway Messiah’. He is one of the pioneers in bringing medical relief to accident victims on national highways. Through his Lifeline Foundation, he provides medical relief to accident victims on the national highway network that spans across the states of Maharashtra, West Bengal, Rajasthan, and Kerala, covering a distance of 4000 kilometers.

    subrato das

  10. Girish Bharadwaj: This 66-year-old person from Karnataka has been hailed by many as ‘Sethu Bhandu’. This social worker has built over 100 eco-friendly and low-cost suspension bridges connecting many remote villages across India.

    girish bharadwaj

Monday, 23 January 2017

Balaknama - Tale of a Newspaper for Street Children


Have you heard of a newspaper for the street children? It is very much in existence in North India where the child labor and exploitation are at the maximum levels. The name of the newspaper is Balaknama. This newspaper is run by a group of street children who gather, compile and edit the news gathered from other street children. Currently, this newspaper is prevalent in the states of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana. In this blog post, we will see how this noble concept came into being, and how it changed the way people looked at the child labor after its emergence.

balaknama street children

Newspaper for Street Children

Everyone knows that the street children are put to a lot of hardships by authorities, owners of shops where they are employed and other people in the society. These hapless children have been enduring this for a long period of time. Some of them wanted to respond in kind, resulting in the emergence of this unique concept that could one day mitigate their sufferings. They could have gone to the reputed newspapers or online magazines. They did not do that. Instead, they volunteered to become the reporters, writers, compilers and editors. They chose to call the new newspaper they came out with as Balaknama. The newspaper started reaching readers, primarily the street children for whom it is free. After distributing the newspaper copies to the children, the remaining ones are sold to the public at a nominal cost of Rs. 5.00. The newspaper has been in circulation for past 14 years. The number of copies has risen to 8000 this year. Initially, the cost of publication was borne by the children themselves through their little contributions. From the second year onwards, the cost has been borne by a Delhi-based Non-governmental Organization (NGO). In the formative years, the newspaper used to hit the shelves once in three months. Later, it became bimonthly (once in every two months). Bolstered by the response from the public, the newspaper has become a monthly feature in New Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana.

balaknama team meeting

Equipping Children

The NGO Chetana working for the street children’s cause decided to give them a lease of life. Chetana went all the way out to select 35 children by organizing camps for them at various places. These children were brought under a new organization by the name “Badte Kadam”.  They were introduced to the world of letters and given the formal education. After equipping them with words, they were given training in journalism so that they can independently make and edit news from the events happening around them.  The news is brought by the children to the one-room office of Balaknama in south Delhi. The editorial team is drawn from these children. The board under the senior editor then makes the assessment of the news items presented and picks the best ones for publishing. The child editor presides over a meeting of the reporters who bring the news from their localities.  After making the suitable alterations, the news pieces are sent for publishing in the newspaper.

balaknama team

What Effects Did this Newspaper Bring in these Children’s lives?

NGO working with the street children is still conducting camps for the children to identify the latent talents that thrive on the roads and by-lanes of the capital city of the country. After undergoing the training, the children have become more self-reliant and expressive about their daily ordeals at the workplace. Unlike the modern-day newspapers, Balaknama minces no words and hit hard at the aberrations present in the life, especially those involving street children. For instance, the newspaper carried the narration of children who were forced to pick up dead body parts from the railway lines. This news piece created a lot of hue and cry in the public domain, forcing the National Child Rights Commission to take Suo Motto case against cops who forced the children to do this. In another case, the newspaper reported the story of another child who was forced to load and unload the garbage from the truck. This 8-year-old girl used to manually load the foul smelling garbage into the truck and unload the same from the truck at the destination. Apart from these, the child was asked to clean the whole truck after unloading the garbage. This has also shaken the national conscience, forcing the authorities to take some corrective steps.

balaknama news

Sunday, 15 January 2017

10 Facts Revealed by RBI to Parliamentary Panel on Demonetization


Even after the time sought by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was over, things did not fall in place, creating more panic reactions among the citizens of the country. Many even tried to question the implementation logic followed by the Central government and the central bank Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Many political parties and their Members of Parliament (MPs) launched a scathing attack on both the implementing parties for their poorer planning. In this context, the MPs from both the houses of parliament decided to take the issue on their hands and asked the Parliament panel to look into the issue to get a larger picture. This forced the RBI to respond to a questionnaire prepared by the panel. In this blog post, we will look at the facts the RBI had revealed to the Parliament panel.

rbi response to panel

RBI Response to Parliament Panel

After the sought time for normalization of Indian economy post demonetization had lapsed on December 30, 2016, the political parties and their MPs had decided to question the Government and the RBI to know the circumstances in which the said policy was implemented. The panel really wanted to know whether the government and RBI had done enough homework on it. RBI had issued as many as 60 notifications at different points in time to make the corrective measures to ease out the currency crunch in Indian Economic system. After the careful deliberation, RBI had come out with a list of 10 important points for submission to the panel. They are listed below for the readers’ reference.

demonetization effects

  1.  Joint Decision: High-value currency demonetization was taken jointly by both Indian Government and the central bank RBI.

  2.  Demonetization Objective: RBI submitted to the Parliament panel that it was to crack down on counterfeit notes.

  3. RBI Suggestion: Few days after Modi came to power at the center, RBI had suggested the introduction of Rs. 5000 and Rs. 10000 notes in the month of October 2014.

  4. New Currency: RBI revealed that Rs 2000 note was introduced looking into the currency figures.

  5.  Printing Date: RBI submitted that the printing of new currency was started in June 2016.

  6. Reasoning:  RBI claimed that it did not introduce the new currency in a phased manner to keep the surprise factor and catch the fancy of the public on its design.

  7. Final Push Factor: According to RBI, the final decision on demonetization was taken when the new currency stock in the chest had reached critically low level.

  8. Deliberation: When panel questioned about the outcome, RBI revealed that it had weighed in the cash crisis and understood that it might not be possible to replace notes completely.

  9. Digital Payment: After it understood the ramification, RBI had initially floated the digital payment option to partially offset the cash crunch load.

  10. Impact on Balance Sheet: RBI claimed that its balance sheet was not impacted by the demonetization policy at all.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Features of BHIM Mobile Application


Last week, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the launch of a mobile application for the digital payments. It is christened as Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM). Another interesting fact is that this application gets its name from the name of the architect of Indian Constitution Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar. For now, the mobile app is available only for the Android operating system. In other words, the users of mobiles with iOS and Windows operating systems cannot use this application. It supports Aadhar-based payments. The app uses finger impression to authenticate the users. In this blog post, we will walk the readers through the important features of BHIM mobile application.

bhim app


This mobile application uses the Unified Payment Interface (UPI) developed by National Payments Corporation of India, which is the umbrella organization of all retail businesses in India. In order to do the transactions using this application, the users need to have just a UPI-linked bank account that has a registered mobile number. Currently, almost all banks support this mobile application.

bhim mobile application

Features of BHIM

BHIM application lets the users send the money to other UPI accounts or addresses. It is also designed to send money through Indian Financial System Code (IFSC) and Mobile Money Identifier (MMID) Code to those users who don’t have UPI-based bank accounts.

bhim features

  1. Quick Response Code: The users also have the option of generating and using their own Quick Response (QR) Code to transfer a fixed amount of money at business outlets. The merchants have to scan this code to deduct the amount from the customer’s account.
  2. UPI-based App: Unlike other mobile wallets, the BHIM application is directly linked to the customers’ bank account. On the other hand, the common mobile wallets like Paytm and MobiKwik can some amount and transfer that to the people who use the same wallet. Being UPI-based, BHIM uses the payee’s Virtual Payment Address (VPA) to pay that account. Hence, the users don’t have to remember the account number use this application.
How does the App Work?

After mobile verification, the Android mobile application lets the users to choose their preferred bank. For verification purpose, it sends an SMS. Hence, it is better to use the bank-registered mobile number for verification. In the same SMS, it will ask the users to set their four-digit passcode. Hence, they should use easily memorable number to set the passcode. They have to use this passcode every time to open this mobile application. On choosing the preferred bank, the application either beams the relevant number if the account is UPI-activated or the users have to key in the last six digits of their debit card number and the expiry date. Depending on the type of account, suitable features will come on the screen. In order to send the money, the users need to either type in their mobile number or the VPA address to let the application find them. After verification, the app prompts the users to type in the amount and hit the payment button. If the users don’t have the UPI-linked account, they need to tap on the three dots just above the send money option. In response, the app comes with a window with IFSC and account option. They need to just add the relevant details to pay the amount using this option.

bhim working

Live Demo

For the benefit of readers, we are also adding the video link to know the BHIM application in close quarters. The first-hand information will help the readers to know more about this wonderful application.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Trivandrum Medical College Hosts Medex


Trivandrum Medical College hosts Medex on its premises for the benefit of public. The seekers of knowledge in science can easily see the working of human body. The visitors can even see the structure of internal organs and their physiology in real terms. The exhibition also showcases the latest development in the medical field and explains in the layman’s language to the visitors. Many regard this as a first-of-this-kind artistic and comprehensive medical exhibition. It is basically a travelogue from cell to brain. The authorities have arranged on a total area of 2 lakh square-feet. In this blog post, we will walk the readers through what all one can see in this informative exhibition for the benefit of its readers.

medex 2017

Medical Exhibition

Dubbed to be the first-of-its-kind, the Medex is an artistic and comprehensive medical exhibition held on the premises of Trivandrum Medical College. It presents the real-time and virtual presentations of human body and its physiological functions. There are video presentations of live surgeries for the benefit of public. Hence, one can have a real experience of things happening in the medical field. The month-long exhibition will come to an end on January 31, 2017. It is jointly organized by the Kerala University of Health Sciences (KUHS), the Students Union of KUHS and the Trivandrum Medical College. This exhibition is being organized at the Medical College premises as part of its 65th Anniversary Celebrations.

specimen exhibits

Salient Features of Medex

 It showcases the practice and science of Modern Medicine through over 1000 exhibits. They have been broadly classified into normal and pathological variants. The visitors can see even the specimens of various disease conditions, and the video and animation presentations of various treatment procedures followed by the medical fraternity. There are even the presentations in virtual and augmented reality formats for the benefit of the visitors. Taken together, all these specimens will show the original human body and its internal organs. The visitors can walk through the live replicas of operation theatres, intensive care units, organ systems and transplantation units to get the first-hand account of things happening in them. There is a separate section for the forensic labs where the visitors can see various procedures being displayed in various presentation formats. In this lab, the visitors get the real-time account of various forensic procedures that led to the solving of the recent Soumya murder case that rocked the consciousness of the state.

medex live models

The visitors get to see the models of various internal organs and animals. The volunteers posted at the stalls displaying these exhibits give fully narrate them for the benefit of visitors. This is for the first time the replicas have been showcased to attract the visitors.

live models

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Indian Government Comes With Ordinance to Curb Old Note Possession


The Cabinet in India has brought in an ordinance to impose a penalty for possession of the scrapped notes beyond a cut-off point. The penalty of possessing the demonetized Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes beyond certain numbers may even include a jail term or 5 times the value of the seized notes or both. In this blog, we will look at the salient features of this ordinance for the benefit of readers.

demonetized money

Ordinance to Curb Old Note Hoarding

In a swift move, just before the window period of exchange of old notes with new ones comes to an end, the Bharatiya Janata Party government at the center promulgated an ordinance to curb the possession of old legal tender after March 31, 2017 when the RBI window for exchange of old notes also ends. The Central government will now send the ordinance to the President of India for the final approval.  According to this bill, the possession of more than 10 old notes will become punishable by law. The authorities can levy a fine of Rs. 50,000 or five times the total value of notes in possession, whichever is lesser. However, the official sources could not say whether the penal provisions would apply for holding the junked currency after the 50-day window period to deposit them in the bank ends on December 30 or the final window of note exchange in selected branches of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) comes to an end on March 31, 2017.  The penalty may also include a jail term of up to 4 years in certain cases.

currency hoarding

Ordinance on Limiting Government Liability

The Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi also approved an ordinance to bail the government and the central bank from future litigation. In a thoughtful move, the Finance Ministry, working with Law Ministry, has brought an amendment to the RBI Act to extinguish the liabilities of the government and the central bank on the demonetized high-denomination notes. This move will help the government to stand in good stead when citizens and opposition parties try to corner it through a battery of future litigation in the courts of the country.

government liability

Demonetization Policy

While announcing the demonetization of the old currency on November 8, 2016 the government had allowed holders of the older notes to either exchange or deposit them in bank and post office accounts. The facility to exchange the old notes was withdrawn on December 15, 2016. However, depositors have time till December 30, 2016 to deposit the holding demonetized notes in their accounts. Giving more time, the Central Government has given another window of opportunity to the holders of old currencies to deposit them in selected branches of RBI across the country. This step was taken by the Central Government to stop the menace of black money and fake currency funding the unlawful activities, including the covert war against nation by terrorists from across the border, corruption, illegal currency hording, etc.

demonetization policy

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Larger Picture of Modi’s Surgical Strike on Black Money


This week has seen a number of measures taken by the Central Government to control the menace of black money and corruption. The main highlight of this change is the sudden and surprised withdrawal of the legal sanctity for Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 as the currency for financial transactions. Though the Prime Minister Shri NarendraModi has pulled off a major coup of sorts against the black money, the foundation stones for this move have been laid in two years. In this course of time, he had given enough hints to the public about his intentions to curb the menace. However, he waited for the festive seasons to get over before making his drastic move. Hence, we should look at the larger picture to see what has happened on the night of November 9, 2016. This is what this blog post is going to do for the benefit of its readers.

prime minister on black money

Steps to Curtail the Black Money

The former Gujarat Chief Minister made it a point to include the fight against black money and corruption in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) manifesto. He used this ploy as the poll plank to garner support for the saphron party in the General Election of 2014. He even claimed that he could deposit at least 20,000 rupees in the bank accounts of the Indian citizens if he became successful in totally curbing the scourge of black money and corruption. Has the PrimeMinister Shri Narendra Modi fulfilled his poll promise? We need to take stock of the full details before making any comments. If we take the bird’s eye view of the developments, it can easily be seen that he has taken a number of steps that lead to this unprecedented move.

steps to stop black money

  1.       SC-monitored SIT on Black Money: Immediately after coming to the power, the Indian Prime Minister constituted a Supreme Court-monitored Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe into various sources of black money, including those parked in the tax havens.
  2.       Jan Dhan Yojana: After constituting the SIT on black money, Shri Narendra Modi had launched a unique scheme by the name Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) on August 28, 2014. Since he took special interest in the scheme, the mission was totally successful with 25.45 crore people getting bank accounts in their name till date. With the demonetization of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000, the banking transactions are going to acquire importance. The new accounts will come handy in this scenario as their holders will not find the pinch of currency short fall.
  3.        Renegotiation of Tax Treaties and Information Exchange Agreements: With the aim of extracting information from tax haven, the Indian Government renegotiated the Double Tax Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) with Mauritius. This will enable the centre government to impose Capital Tax if the authorities located such Capital Asset in India. In the same spirit, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the centre entered into an Automatic Information Exchange Agreement with Switzerland, another tax haven, to extract the information about money hoarders from India.
  4.        Black Money and Imposition of Tax Act: As part of this act, the Indian Government had launched a scheme to bring back the unaccounted money stashed in foreign countries and tax havens. Since this 2015 act had various stringent provisions for penalty and prosecution, many unaccounted money holders brought to the notice of the government their financial assets.
  5.        Income Disclosure Scheme: Under the aegis of the above mentioned act, the central government gave another chance for the black money hoarders to come clean in June, 2016.  By giving this opportunity, the government had forewarned that they would have to pay a penalty of 45% if black money was found in the future investigation by the Income Tax Department. However, this evoked only milder response with the total final disclosure coming to the tune of just Rs. 62,250 crore against the identified 90 lakh high-value transactions. Hence, the government was upset with the success of the scheme.
  6.       Penalty on Real Estate Transactions Above Rs. 20,000 in Cash: Withthe aim of curbing the illegal real estate transactions using black money, the central government imposed a penalty of 20% on all cash transactions above Rs. 20,000.
  7.      Tax Collection at Source for Transactions Above Rs. 2 Lakh: Indian Government also imposed Tax Collection at Source at a nominal rate of 1% on cash purchases over Rs. 2 lakh. The government did this to curtail the high-value cash transactions and create an audit trail to understand the source of money.
  8.       Benami Transactions Amendment Bill: With the aim of prohibiting the benami transactions happening the real estate field, the central government introduced the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Bill in the Parliament and got it passed. This new move gives more teeth to the authorities to curb the benami transactions.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Pros and Cons of American Policies Under Trump Presidency


Proving the psephologists wrong, Donald Trump successfully marched towards the White House in the latest American Presidential elections. No wonder, the exit polls all have gone wrong when the results of the elections trickled in.  It was even a surprise for the Donald Trump himself. Fully acknowledging the will of American voters, the Indian Prime Minister congratulated him for historic success in the elections. Through his twitter handle, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appreciated “the friendship” floated by Donald Trump during his election campaign and hoped that the bilateral friendship between the two countries will continue to score new heights in the coming years. In the month of January next year, he will become the 45th President of the United States of America.  Having said that, let us delve deep into the dynamics of Indo-US relations as manifested in the recent years in this blog post.  

us president elections

View of Trump About India

In the high pitch of the electioneering, Donald Trump tried to woo the American Indians and even attended their Diwali festivities. While attending a Hindu Republican Coalition, he had famously said that he had huge respect for Hindus for their great qualities, especially their entrepreneurship. He also further added that he had many Hindu friends. In the same measure, even the Hindu-fringe groups like Hindu Sena sought to celebrate Trump as their hero. Even the famous Vishudham temple of Mumbai performed a yagna for the controversial US Republican candidate Donald Trump.  Many people back in India even likened the phenomenal rise of the US real estate tycoon during the US President elections to that of Shri Narendra Modi during the run up to the Indian General Elections in 2014.

donald trump

What can We Expect from Donald-led US Administration?

Beyond all the good talks and friendships, there is a reality both the countries have to live with. It is the hard reality of cut-throat international business and economy, and the complex web of international relations and obligations. This is where we can expect a totally different approach from the US administration under Donald Trump.

donald trump and india

  1. 1      Cons: Throughout his election campaign, he highlighted certain repugnant points about some of the issues on emigration and H1B visas. Since India is a major beneficiary since its opening of business to the outside world, the measures envisaged by Donald Trump during his election campaign such as capping of H1B Visa issued, the mentoring of the local talents, the removal of tax reductions to those companies that outsource the job to other countries and severance of treaties with other countries would harm its business prospects. The President-elect’s view on already existing American treaties with other countries may not augur well for the 'Make In India' campaign of Narendra Modi. Like Modi, he thinks of “America First” campaign.  His hawkish slogans like “America First” and “Make America Great Again” put breaks on the investments in India by the American companies. The issues related to H1B Visa may severely affect the prospects of Indian multinational companies such as TCS, Infosys and Wipro.

  2. 2.       Pros: We can think of only few positive developments that might happen under the stewardship of Donald Trump. Being an open Islamophobic, he is not going to become so lenient with Pakistan, which he and the incumbent US President Barack Obama refer as ‘dangerously dysfunctional’ country. This is our country's sentiment as well. Once he even told in an election campaign that he wanted to ask a country why it gave asylum to the first Al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden in its territory. This will augur well for India while it is trying to isolate Pakistan on cross-border terrorism. Another one is the US President-elect’s open disdain for China. Once he called the People’s Republic of China as a “currency manipulator”. During his presidency, the US administration might impose more taxes on that country if it fails to renegotiate deals. This might boost Indian economy to a large extent.