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If the government's move to demonetise high-value currency notes has thrown the nation into jeopardy with an acute lack of cash flow, much worse has been the series of ever-changing rules and restrictions imposed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). In the latest of such notices, the central bank said yesterday that deposits in old notes exceeding ₹5,000 can be made only once till 30 December. Those who want to make such transactions will also have to explain the delay in doing so. In another development, the RBI also announced the release of a new ₹50 note, though the old ones will also remain valid tender.
With the sudden appointment of Lieutenant General Bipin Rawat as India's new Army Chief superseding two more senior candidates, there's a spike in public interest about his career and life. Described as a thorough "professional and a gentleman" by his peers, he has diverse experience in the field, having been deployed in the Congo and masterminded surgical strikes. Born to General Lakshman Singh Rawat, who retired from service in 1988 as Deputy Chief of Army Staff, Rawat will walk in the footsteps of his father as he takes on his mantle from 1 January 2017. For the first time, son of the former Deputy Chief of Army Staff will go on to lead the 1.3 million strong Indian Army.
While one of the reasons for demonetising high-value currency notes in India is to deter political parties from indulging in financial irregularities, there are always ways in which the latter manage to circumvent the rules and avoid scrutiny. Here are the three most popular ways in which such ventures are undertaken.
Ahead of the festive season, several nightmares seem to be unfolding in various parts of the world. A truck ploughed into a crowd at a Christmas market in Berlin, leaving at least 12 people dead and 48 wounded. Not far away, the Russian ambassador to Turkey was shot dead at an art gallery in Ankara by an off-duty policeman, who was allegedly acting in retaliation to the strikes on Aleppo. In yet another tragedy, three people were also wounded in a shooting at a Muslim prayer hall in Zurich, Switzerland.
Cyrus Mistry, who was unceremoniously ousted from the board of Tata Sons, has vowed to take his fight to a "larger platform". After a bitter eight-week acrimony with Ratan Tata's "illegal coup", Mistry quit from the boards of six listed companies including Tata Motors and Indian Hotels. In a two-page statement and a recorded video message explaining his decision, Mistry said the objective of effective reform and best interests of employees, shareholders and other stakeholders of the Tata Group "would be better served by moving away from the forum of the extraordinary general meetings".
The attack on Pathankot airbase was allegedly planned in April 2014 using a Google Map of the venue. The strategy was discussed at a meeting in Sialkot, Pakistan, by Jaish-e-Mohammed operative Shahid Latif, who believed it was "easy" to launch an attack since the airbase was surrounded by forests, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) said in a chargesheet filed Monday. Eight persons, including seven security personnel, were killed and 38 others were injured in the attack.
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Off The Front Page
From nearly losing his life in a boating accident in Kerala to breaking all kinds of world records, cricketer Karun Nair has come a long way. With his outstanding 303 not out against England in the fifth match of the current Test series, he became the third batsman to have crossed the mythical three-hundred mark with a maiden century, putting him in the company of Garry Sobers and Bob Simpson on a day team India scored their highest-ever Test total of 759 for 7 declared.
Demonetisation was meant to bring back the hoards of black money stashed away in Swiss bank accounts back to the country, and, in a sense, boxes of cash have been landing in Kolkata for the past few weeks. Eighteen chartered cargo planes from Zurich have landed in the city in the last two-and-a-half months with blank watermarked notes that are being printed at the currency press in Salboni, West Midnapore. Each plane is bringing 100 tonnes of the notes stashed in 280 wooden boxes, each measuring 0.6 cubic metre, to be driven to Salboni in five or six trailers.
In a shocking leak, a video of the testimony given by a minor gangrape victim to the police was played at a court by the accused in a bid to prove his innocence. The latter claimed he had found it on YouTube, a public video sharing forum. The court has asked for a probe to find out how such an outrageous incident could have taken place.
In The Indian Express, Sushant Singh analyses the controversy surrounding the appointment of Lieutenant General Bipin Rawat as the new Army Chief of India superseding two other candidates more senior to him in the hierarchy. "Formalising and institutionalising the process of selection will remove arbitrariness while shielding the military from political interference," he writes, "It will also instil a sense of fairness while rewarding merit."
Becoming a cashless society will require more than the push of demonetisation, Jessica Seddon writes in Mint. The recent example of Cyclone Vardah disrupting internet connectivity and leaving ATMs defunct in parts of Tamil Nadu and leaving thousands of cashless buyers in a fix should be adequate warning of this fact.
With respect to the new court rules about playing the national anthem in cinemas, an editorial in The Telegraph asks some pertinent questions: "Is not ultra-nationalism of this kind -- which spreads hatred and promotes violence -- the real face of anti-nationalism?... Why should patriotism be proved by 'tests'?" The smothering of dissent, it goes on to add, does not portend well for a democracy, and such draconian rules may prove costly in the long term.
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