I&B Ministry calls for truce between filmmakers and the CBFC #censorship #bollywood


VICKEY LALWANI, Mumbai MirrorMar 29, 2013, 11.54AM IST
(A still from Dabangg )

I&B Ministry calls for truce between filmmakers and the CBFC over censorship issues

At a time when Hindi films have come under criticism for disrespectful portrayal of women, and Censor Board decisions are increasingly being viewed as arbitrary, the Information & Broadcasting Ministry has stepped in to broker peace between the warring parties – the producers and the Board.

The bone of contention being the Cinematograph Act 1952 that the film industry thinks is outdated. The I&B Ministry has called for a meeting with all parties concerned between April 3 and April 5, though the venue hasn’t been decided yet. Representing the film industry will be Farhan Akhtar, Ramesh Sippy, President of the Producers’ Guild Mukesh Bhatt, President of the Association of Motion Pictures and TV Programme Producers (AMTPP) Sajid Nadiadwala and Indian Motion Picture Producers’ Association Chief TP Agarwal.

Censor Board of Film Certification (CBFC) Chief Leela Samson and CBFC CEO Pankaja Thakur will represent the censors. Also present will be senior members from the special panel that was instituted under the chairmanship of judicial expert Mukul Mudgal to review the functioning of the Censor Board.

The meeting will set the pace for the necessary amendments to the Cinematograph Act 1952, after taking into consideration suggestions by all concerned. Special song and dance numbers, foul language, and scenes portraying actors and actresses smoking and drinking are likely to be discussed during the meet.

Agarwal confirmed the news and said: “The very fact that the meeting spans three days indicates we are going to have a very long discussion. I am very optimistic about the outcome.” Said Mukesh Bhatt: “Today, there is a lot of ambiguity about what will be cut and what will go through. As things stand, there are no guidelines.”

Meanwhile, a filmmaker on the condition of anonymity, said censors seem to have turned a bit too prudish. “Recently, Leela Samson assured there is a wrong impression within the film industry that the Censor Board has adopted a rule to certify all special numbers with an ‘A’ (adults only) certificate. Despite the assurance, filmmakers are extremely cagey. The meeting on April 3 is very good news for the films being made,” the source said.

On the subject of special numbers – particularly Fevicol Se from Dabangg 2 and Sheila Ki Jawaani from Tees Maar Khan – having faced a lot of flak, a leading producer (on request of anonymity), said: “It isn’t now that special numbers have come into existence. One can think of many actresses in the past who have done such numbers. Is it that the censors turned a blind eye to them simply because they weren’t lead actresses? Moreover, cuss words are chopped in one film while they are retained in another film. What are the rules? Who draws the line, and where?”

Writer-director Rensil D’Silva said: “Too much money rides on movies. If there is clarity, there will be no jolts at the time we submit our films to the censors.”

When contacted, I&B Minister Manish Tewari said: “We already have a panel headed by judicial expert Mukul Mudgal to look into certain issues which the film industry has. But if they still have some issues, we are ready to walk the extra mile.

 

EC directs government to defer implementation of Direct Cash Transfer Scheme in Gujarat & HP


Dec4. 2012, ET

NEW DELHI: The Election Commission (EC) on Tuesday expressed dissatisfaction with the government on the announcement timing of Direct Cash Transfer Scheme (DCT). EC directed the government to defer the implementation of the scheme in four districts of Gujarat and two of Himachal Pradesh till the state assembly elections are over.

In a stern message to the government, EC said that the timing of government’s DCT scheme was ‘avoidable’. “The government should have maintained letter and spirit of model code of conduct,” it said.

On its part, the government on Monday had told the EC that it did not violate the model code of conduct by announcing the direct cash transfer scheme. In its reply to a notice from the poll panel, the government had stressed that the scheme was among the proposals announced by then finance minister Pranab Mukherjee in his budget speech in March. Also, the Prime Minister’s Office had issued a statement on September 28, in which it was said that the prime minister has set up the architecture for moving to electronic cash transfers leveraging Aadhaar.

The government, in its reply, said that both these announcements were made well before the model code of conduct came into force on October 3 for the assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.

BJP has been objecting over the announcement made last week at Congress headquarters by finance minister P Chidambaram and the rural development minister Jairam Ramesh. The ministers termed the scheme as a game-changer. BJP complained to the poll panel that the scheme was announced ahead of the Gujarat assembly polls, scheduled on December 13 and 17, and hence there was violation of the model code of conduct. BJP also added that four of the 51 districts selected to benefit initially from the scheme were in poll-bound Gujarat.

BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad on Monday said that his party was against abolition of the public distribution system, which he claimed had done well in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Bihar. “Is Congress serious about it (direct cash transfer scheme)? Have they done their homework well? Let Manish Tewari say why it has come a cropper after it was introduced with fanfare in Rajasthan,” Prasad asked.

 

The Gangs of Lootpur much ahead of Gangs of Wasseypur


 

 

How corruption in coal is closely linked to political funding

M Rajshekhar, ET Bureau
(The rise in corruption in…)

It was a roundtable on ‘campaign finance reforms in India‘, but it brought up a mathematical equation that showed how corruption in coal could ultimately be traced to political funding. Speaking at the Observer Research Foundation event in February, BJP MP Rajiv Pratap Rudy said: “In Goa (which was going to elections then), each candidate, whether from the Congress or the BJP (or other political parties), would be spending Rs 5-7 crore.” The official Election Commission ceiling is Rs 16 lakh.

At the roundtable, Congress MP Manish Tewari said there were reports of candidates spending Rs 18-20 crore each during the Punjab elections in January. “The vigilance of the Election Commission (on spending ceilings) is driving a lot of this money underground.” The average was Rs 3-5 crore per candidate, added Niranjan Sahoo, a senior fellow at the Foundation researching electoral funding.

An extrapolation of this across the political spectrum throws up some humungous numbers— and a gaping hole between revenues and expenses of political parties. In the 2009 general elections, the Congress contested 403 seats.

Rs 5 crore for each seat adds up to Rs 2,000 crore. India’s 5,000 assembly seats, says Sahoo, are even more keenly contested, and more money is spent here.

Even at Rs 5 crore per seat, that’s Rs 25,000 crore. Or, a total of Rs 27,000 crore.

Yet, for the five years to 2011-12, the Congress declared revenues of Rs 1,662 crore.

The BJP, the other national party, declared Rs 852 crore. Sahoo estimates parties are declaring no more than 10-20% of their incomes.

If so, where do parties and politicians get the remaining 80-90% from? According to Sahoo, increasingly, they are not extracting rent from programmes that are politically beneficial like NREGA and PDS.

Instead, he adds, they are moving to minerals and natural resources.

“This is a form of corruption the common man stays more or less oblivious to,” he says.

The scent of such corruption hovered over the allotment of 150 coal blocks to private players between 2005 and 2010 for captive use, and their subsequent commissioning, aspects of which are currently being probed by India’s apex investigating agency.

“Rent-seeking has been rampant,” says a former senior bureaucrat in the coal ministry, not wanting to be identified.

It wasn’t so always. When the coal industry began, it was distant from politics. But as it transited through its four distinct phases, that connection became progressively stronger, and culminated in the 2005-10 allotments.

PRE-NATIONALISATION (TILL 1973)

This is the period depicted in the first part of Anurag Kashyap’s two-part film Gangs of Wasseypur. Coal mines were controlled by local mafias and business families, some of whom were asked by the Centre to step in after the British left.

This arrangement had its problems, says a former official of Coal India Limited (CIL), not wanting to be named. “Miners were not selling to core users (namely, power, steel and cement), but to whoever could pay the most,” he says. “Some would shut down the mine whenever it was not profitable for them. On the whole, there was a problem matching coal supply with the government’s development plans and needs. Labour, too, was treated harshly.”

However, national politics accessed little money from mines, says Sahoo. “In some cases, like the Dhanbad coal mafia, the miners entered politics. But the reasons were mainly to protect their own local interests—by controlling the appointment of local bureaucrats, etc.”

“It was very local,” adds a Union cabinet minister who has headed the coal ministry previously and spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Some politicians, local leaders used to take money from these mafia. But you did not have national leaders going down there.”

NATIONALISATION (1973-93)

This began to change after Indira Gandhi nationalised coal—coking coal in 1973 and non-coking coal in 1974-75—and brought everything under CIL and its subsidiaries. According to AK Singh, a former general manager of Western Coalfields, a CIL subsidiary, coal was nationalised for three main reasons: “To exploit coal more scientifically and increase production; to curb unethical practices; and to take better care of employees and develop nearby communities.”


For some time, says Singh, the plan worked well. Production gradually rose from 70 million tonnes (MT), and stood at 431 MT in 2010. However, with nationalisation, the presence of politicians also increased. Singh also traces this to the rise of coalition politics. Buying and selling of MPs picked up, because of which parties’ need for cash increased.

Ministers began treating the PSU, says the ex-CIL employee quoted earlier, as “no more than their private colony.” Posts of MD and chairman began to be sold. “This started in the late-nineties when two people with vigilance cases against them were made acting heads of coal PSUs,” says a former CIL chairman.

 

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