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Jottings : The Devil And The Deep Sea

Britain’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is probing liquor baron and absconding Indian businessman, Vijay Mallya, for “money laundering” in the UK and beyond

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The Devil And The Deep Sea

Britain’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is probing liquor baron and absconding Indian businessman, Vijay Mallya, for “money laundering” in the UK and beyond.

While extradition proceedings against Mallya have been underway for nearly six months now and multiple reports have been filed and evidences submitted, it is still not certain that he will be extradited. The judge has to be satisfied that Mallya will get a fair trial in India. His lawyers will argue that he is being politically hounded and is a victim of a media trial.

Mallya’s counsel may even claim that other Indian businessmen owed more money to Indian banks, but only his client was being singled out for persecution.

Even if the decision goes in favour of the Indian government, Mallya (afraid that he may not get a fair trial in India) may appeal to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which has a reputation for being lenient. Since the UK is still in the European Union and EU laws continue to apply there, Mallya has more than a year to approach the ECJ.

While the SFO probe is not directly related to the extradition hearings, it will certainly add a measure of weight to the case presented by the Indian authorities for Mallya’s extradition. Should the Chief Magistrate rule in favour of extradition at the end of the trial, British Home Secretary Amber Rudd must order Mallya’s extradition within two months from the day of the judgment.

The Indian government needs to be practical and start settlement negotiations with Mallya either directly or through an intermediary. That may prove to be a more sensible course of action than the proceedings for extradition. — Monica Behura

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Yogi’s Red Carpet For Industry

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath is rolling out the   red carpet for industry. He has initiated administrative reforms to change public perception of the state. “The last

six months have seen a paradigm shift in Uttar Pradesh. There were many issues in getting land clearance and approvals. Now we have eased out the process,” says the state’s chief secretary, Rajiv Kumar.

 The major reforms initiated to attract large investors include a new Industrial policy, online business approvals and a new startup policy. “The state government will convert its physical secretariat into an e-secretariat from January 2018 for quicker implementation of industrial proposals,” says Kumar. The state government plans the country’s largest startup incubation centre in Lucknow. A global summit for both Indian and overseas investors is scheduled for March next year . The Yogi is obviously not leaving any stones unturned to show that he meant business   — Anuradha  Shukla

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Beefing Up Homeland Security

The central government is walking the talk on Make in India products. The Union ministry of home affairs has awarded a contract worth Rs 120 crore to the diversified conglomerate Punj Lloyd. The order entails supplying and commissioning five Full Body Truck Scanners (FBTS). Punj Lloyd will be the first private sector company in India to install these X-Ray based FBTS at the country’s borders, capable of detecting concealed arms, ammunition, explosives, detonators, IEDs, narcotics and fake currency. Says Atul Punj, chairman Punj Lloyd, “This is our first order in homeland security and is extremely significant as it will enhance the national security of the country by fortifying our borders against illegal activities.” Punj Lloyd will be manufacturing these scanners at its manufacturing facility at Malanpur, an industrial area in the Bhind district of Madhya Pradesh.  – Ashish Sinha

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A Day Of School & Sewa

September 17 was an unusually warm day in the capital. The digital realm was warmer still, with the Twitteratti spewing fumes of indignation over government primary schools having remained open on a Sunday, to celebrate the Prime Minister’s birthday. Media reports said 1.6 lakh government aided primary schools across Uttar Pradesh, where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is in the saddle, remained open on a Sunday, so the tiny tots could celebrate Narendra Modi’s  67th birthday with sweetsand songs. In Modi’s home state, Gujarat, adulation for him seemed more real, as 3,600 children created his face on the ground, with messages like, “I am new India”.

Various wings of the BJP gifted a “Sewa Diwas” (a day of service) to the Prime Minister, sending their leadership out into the streets broom in hand, on cleanliness drives. Modi was in Gujarat, where he gifted the Sardar Sarovar Dam to the nation. A cynical think tank used the day to map the Prime Minister’s “sustained popularity” – which of course, is what all the hullabaloo was really all about.      — Madhumita Chakraborty

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Indian Snow Leopard Safe

The Indian Snow Leopard recently got off the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which warned that almost 15 per cent of India’s wildlife species were either critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable to extinction. The Red List now includes 87,967 species globally, of which 25,062 are in danger of extinction. There are about 6,939 species from?India in the list, of which 1,055, or 15 per cent are in danger of dying away like the Dodo. The IUCN has downgraded the Snow Leopard from “endangered” to “vulnerable”. Close to 700 Snow Leopards are believed to be in India,in the northern stretches of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. The animal is a Schedule I species, enjoying the same protections as the tiger.  — Anurit Kanti