Wednesday, May 30, 2012

CREDAI Koleveri Di over Black Money; No developer likes to be called corrupt, says Lalit Kumar Jain


MUMBAI, May 29, 2012: Taking the menace and curse of black money in real estate head-on CREDAI today called for an all round reforms and ending the ‘License Raj’ that still governs the developer community across the country.
The recent “White Paper on Black Money’ presented by Union Finance Minister Mr Pranab Mukherjee is a good attempt at focusing the nation’s attention on the issue, but it unfortunately picks on the real estate and deals with just a couple of issues like the Stamp Duty as though that is the only cause of the problem, said Mr. Lalit Kumar Jain, National President – CREDAI (Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Associations of India).
In a presentation to the media on black money, Mr Jain lamented: “The real estate developer community has become a favourite punching bag for many whenever they talk about the national curse. Like Mart Twain said about weather, everybody talks about black money, but nobody does anything about it.”
“We too hate the system that labels us as crooks, cheats and breeders of black money,” he said and called for realizing the fact that the various bottlenecks at government level at Centre and in several States are equally responsible for this menace.
The economic reforms initiated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as the Finance Minister over 20 years ago have seen the end of the Licence Raj, but the real estate sector is still governed by controls and increased controls, Mr Jain regretted.
The developer community and CREDAI have been pointing out that there are over 40 clearances that a developer is supposed to get which leads to human interaction with over 150 officials at various stages. Any delay at any stage obviously gives rise to “greasing of palms” as the developer is always anxious to finish his project in time and avoid delays.  
“As you all know, real estate is a highly capital intensive industry and any delays would only add to the interest burden for developer who scrupulously tries to avoid it since the increased costs would lead to cut in is margins and rise in the cost for the customer,” Mr Jain explained.
Focusing on other issues that lead to the blame game, Mr. Jain took explained that land transactions, corruption related approvals and license process, power in the hands of officials and threats to stop work, the political system and above all the taxation system.
A McKinsey report to the Government of India on cost of approval had clearly pointed out that the costs incurred on account f various approvals could constitute anything up to 40% of the sale value. Such is the enormity of the problem of approvals.
FM has admitted that the real estate sector in India constitutes about 11 per cent of the GDP and said: “a large number of transactions in the real estate sector are not reported on account of very high levels of property transaction taxes, commonly in the form of stamp duty.”
The Minister said: “Investment in property is a common means of parking unaccounted money and a large number of transactions in real estate are not reported or are under-reported. This is mainly on account of very high levels of property transaction taxes, commonly in the form of stamp duty. High transaction taxes in property are one of the biggest impediments to the development of an efficient property market.
Having narrated all these, the Finance Minister ducks by saying: “The role of the central government in reforms of the real estate sector is generally limited and advisory in nature.”
Then the Minister felt: “There may also be a case for integration of local urban authorities in a nationwide digital database and sharing of data and information with state and central agencies.”
It is not simple as the White Paper put it, Mr. Jain, said: “We are victims of the system, not the Beneficiaries! We hate this system which makes us look ugly. We curse every person who exploits us to give us a legitimate permission which we deserve instantly and without any illegitimate demand.”
Restricted land use and continued pressure on land availability is also one of the root causes of high costs of inputs and the resultant sale price, he said.
“Like any prudent businessman, we are also here to make profits, otherwise it simply does not make sense for to be in the business,” he said.
CREDAI is in the forefront suggesting single window system for project clearances to cut down time and chance for corruption and has presented a comprehensive reforms plan to the Union Urban development Minister Mr. Kamal Nath at a CREDAI conclave at Singapore in July last year.
CREDAI suggested reforms in four key areas that impact the real estate - Administrative Land, Tax and Banking. There has been a lot of talk on this, but no action.
Experience in several countries has clearly demonstrated that real estate reforms have resulted in increased availability of housing stock that made prices stable, where as in India the serious issue of affordable housing has been reduced to a joke. Even Government board built houses beyond reach of the Common man.
There is no clarity on land policy and there is absolutely no control over cost of funding and other inputs.
With rapid urbanization, the nation witnessing an ever increasing demand-supply mismatch and we developers are being blamed for an ‘artificial shortage’ of homes
It does not require brains to realize that shortage of any product leads to price hike and Real Estate is no exception.
In this context, CREDAI has suggested Special Housing Zones on lines of SEZ, but sadly there has been no movement on this. We strongly feel that the extension of facilities that are given to SEZ to even real estate could easily help in making affordable housing a reality.
As we allow the development in the outskirts of the existing cities, the government also needs to concentrate on infrastructure development which is lacking now, he said.
“Every rupee invested in real estate sector, contributes to addition of 78 paise to GDP,” Mr. Jain said and added: “We the developer community are ready to play our role and we sincerely appeal to the governments to play the role of facilitator and not prevented
                                                    

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Spend less on defence, more on people - says Indo-Pak media


MUMBAI, May 27, 2012: With the possibility of war between the nuclear powers India and Pakistan becoming remote, a media conclave called for cut in defence budgets of both the countries and concentrate on socio-economic development activities.
“We have talked enough about building peaceful relationships between the countries now let us concentrate on the real issues affecting the people of both the countries” said many speakers at a media conclave held in Navi Mumbai yesterday, at the fag-end of a 14-member Karachi-Hyderabad (Sind) media delegation to Mumbai.
Pak delegation arriving in Mumbai on Monday...now they will return tomorrow.
Karamat Ali is in the fotrefront, next to the Tutari.
“Increasing tension between India and Pakistan, piling up of arms worth billions of dollars helps only arms merchants of the US and other countries and is not at all in the interests of poverty-stricken India and Pakistan,” said Mr Tahir Hasan Khan, president of Karachi Press Club leading the media delegation.
“We (the Pak delegates) have seen homeless people sleeping on the pavements of Mumbai and it is the similar situation in Karachi and other cities,” he said and the governments should spend more on poverty alleviation and creating jobs rather than mindless spending on purchase of arms that helps only the western powers “at the cost of our own people.”
Journalists from Mumbai threw pointed questions at the Pakistan media on their opinion and role as the US used Pakistan as its base and helped in arms buildup.
Navi Mumbai Mayor Mr Sagar Naik, who was the chief guest at the conclave hosted by Valuable Group,  said he was pained to learn that both India and Pakistan were busy erective massive defences, “We are erecting high walls of defence while our homes are becoming hollow,” the young Mr Naik said.
“It is just not Pakistan, the US has been successfully fooling even India only to suit the western super power’s arms manufacturers,” said Mr Karamat Ali, Executive Director of Pakistan Istitute of Labour Education and  Research (PILER).
PILER, along with Karachi Press Club hosted a media delegation’s trip to Pakistan in November and the current media visit by the neighbouring country is reciprocal to that.
Narrating a case study, Mr Ali said the US kept Pakistan hanging for years in an F-16 Bomber deal and finally delivered the war planes only to save 5,000 workers of its defence manufacturers. And, when India protested against this, the US offered F-18 planes to it. “Thus, you can see it was the US that benefited by keeping India and Pakistan at logger heads,” he explained.
“Let us leave the knotty issues of Kashmir and Siachin  to be tackled at the government levels, as people we must together concentrate in handling common problems of Roti Kapda and Makaan (food, clothing and shelter),” he said drawing loud applause.
Mr Jatin Desai, an Indo-Pak peace activist, said it was high time that media from both the countries addressed the real issues affecting the neighbours.
The Pakistan media delegation had a hectic schedule in Mumbai meeting Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Home Minister R R Patil, Public Works Minister Chagan  Bhujbal and participating in seminars, discussions hosted by the Press Club, Mumbai Marathi Paytrakar Sangh and Vidhi Mandal Patrakar Sangh. They visited Mumbai’s land marks like the BSE, Gateway of India and had a chat with Bollywood star Aamir Khan.
The discussions were basically focused on increased media cooperation to build lasting peace in the region and improved trade relations which will help create jobs in both the countries.
The Press Clubs of Mumbai and Karachi have agreed to set up an Information Exchange on their web sites.



Friday, May 25, 2012

Maha Govt. for easing Indo-Pak visa regime


MUMBAI, May 25, 2012: Appreciating the Indo-Pak media efforts to improve people-to-people contacts, Maharashtra Home Minister Mr R R Patil declared that he would actively take up the issue of easing the visa regime between the neighbouring countries.
“I will personally take up the issue with External Affairs Minister Mr S M Krishna, who was our Governor,” said Mr Patil addressing a visiting Pakistani media delegation.
Karachi Press Club President Tahir Hasan Khan presenting a return gift to R R Patil
Mr Patil hosted a lunch in honour of the 14-member media delegation from Karachi and Hyderabad (Sind) Press Clubs at the invitation of the Press Club, Mumbai. Earlier in the week, Chief Minister Mr Prithviraj Chavan and Public Works Minister Mr. Chagan Bhujbal  hosted dinners for the delegation.
Mr Patil, who took keen interest in the delegation’s visit, promised to join an Indian media delegation when they visit Pakistan next. He personally ensured that the week-long visit went flawless.
The Press Club-Mumbai and Karachi Press Club have sisterly relations and the exchange of goodwill visits from each side is part of the joint initiative taken by them to improve people-to-people contacts, reduce the feeling of hatred and towards ensuring lasting peace in the region.
Mr Patil said media has a major role to play in the Indo-Pak peace process. The government level efforts alone would not suffice, he said.
Karachi Press Club president Tahir Hasan Khan said setting up of consulates in Karachi and Mumbai is a must to help quicken the process of issuing visas. The long distance travel to Delhi in India and Islamabad in Pakistan is preventing and discouraging many people from following up for visas.
Press Club-Mumbai president Mr. Gurbir Singh said a joint media working group is being set up between Mumbai and Karachi Press Clubs to work out ways to exchange information and increase media collaborations
BSE acting CEO Ashish Chauhan talking to Pak media delegation
Mr Karamat Ali, Executive Director of Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER), suggested that ferry services between Mumbai and Karachi should be started so that people could move at affordable costs. “There are a large number of families from both sides having many relatives and friends in India and Pakistan. Similarly, small businessmen would like to travel to and fro for trade,” he said and pointed out ferry services would be of immense help.
Earlier in the day, the media delegation visited BSE to understand the functioning of the stock exchanges in India.
BSE acting CEO Mr Ashish Chauhan explained that the exchange has an ongoing collaboration with the Karachi Stock Exchange.
He offered to Pakistan media persons to undergo courses conducted by BSE to enhance their knowledge.

Media Coordination:
B N Kumar – 98201 28332, 93200 48332



Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Call to end ‘Traditional Rivals’ term in Indo-Pak reporting


Call to end ‘Traditional Rivals’ term in Indo-Pak reporting
MUMBAI, May 22, 2012: With a clarion call to end the use of hate language like “traditional rivals” while reporting events related India and Pakistan, a media conclave today called for creating ambience for improving relations between the two neighbours.
The Press Club Mumbai, celebrating Karachi Week on the occasion of the visit of a Pakistan Media Delegation to Mumbai, hosted the conclave on the “Role of Media in Indo-Pak Relations”.
Mr Karamat Ali, Executive Director, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER), pointed out that journalists covering cricket matches between the two countries always describe them as traditional rivals. “Even in Pakistan, the Urdu media refers to them as ‘Azli Dushman’ which means eternal rivals as if we have been enemies right from the creation of the world’” he said and urged journalists to make a beginning to end the language hatred between India and Pakistan.
Pak Media delegation  being felicitated at The Press Club, Mumbai
Mr Ali said both the governments should allow “visa on arrival” on the lines of the travel facility that they have with Nepal and Sri Lanka. Easing the movement of people between the two countries will go a long way in establishing regional peace, he added.
Mr. Tahir Hasan Khan, President of Karachi Press Club, pointed out that the journalists are not the part of the armies of both the nations. And, hence, they should avoid the language of hatred. “We are the people and we report to the people. We the media persons, hence, should report on people related developments and contribute to maintaining peace and harmony between our nations,” he said.
Mr. Khan also made a strong plea for liberalizing the visa regime between India and Pakistan.
Mr Gurbir Singh, President of the Press Club, Mumbai, likened the barriers between India and Pakistan to the great “Beriln Wall” and said “this has to be demolished”.
Pointing out that media has a major role to play in improving the relations between the neghbouring nations, Mr Singh said The Press Club Mumbai has initiated the exchange of media visits and this movement will gain momentum in future.  “We hope to have visits from other Press Clubs to various Pakistan cities and vice versa,” he said.
Mr Jatin Desai, journalist and an Indo-Pak peace activist, regretted that the governments of both India and Pakistan allow just two journalists to represent in each other’s countries. “This obviously limits the scope of reporting by media,” he said.
Mr B N Kumar, Executive Director of Concept PR, suggested setting up an “Information Exchange” on the web sites of Mumbai and Karachi Press Clubs and make a beginning in the process of sharing information, news between media persons.
The process of governments allowing media reporting could take their own time, but media organizations from India and Pakistan should take the initiative and make use of the information technology, he added.
Journalists from Mumbai and Pakistan had informal talks, exchanged views. The Pakistan delegates evinced a great interest in knowing about media in India.
The visiting delegates, along with a team from The Press Club Mumbai, attended an informal dinner hosted by Maharashtra Public Works Minister Mr Chagan Bhujbal, last night.

The Pakistan delegation represents leading newspapers and channels like Dawn, The News, Jang Geo TV, ARY News, Express Tv etc and are members of either Karachi or Hyderabad Press Club members. Most of them will be visiting India for the first time
They have been invited by The Press Club Mumbai as a reciprocal to Karachi Press Club and the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research jointly hosting Mumbai Media delegation in November last.
Both Mumbai and Karachi Press Clubs have established sisterly relationships.
The media representatives will have interaction with leaders of various political parties, industry leaders, journalists, social activists and common people.
They are also scheduled to visit Mr. Prithviraj Chavan, Chief Minister of Maharashtra and Mr. R R Patil, Home Minister. They will also visit the BSE as well as a couple of newspapers and news channels offices.







Monday, May 21, 2012

Pakistani media team gets rousing reception



MUMBAI, May 20: Amid traditional Aartis, garlands and blowing of the Tutaris, a 14-member Pakistan media delegation arrived in Mumbai on a first ever week-long study trip.
The delegates from Karachi and Hyderabad (Sind) Press Clubs, were received by a group of The Press Club-Mumbai members as they landed by a PIA flight from Karachi at the Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport terminal at Sahar.
Pleasantly surprised at the overwhelming response, delegation leader and Karachi Press Club president Tahir Hasan Khan said: “We are extremely happy to be in India. I am sure this joint endeavour by Karachi and Mumbai Press clubs will lead to improving the relationships between India and Pakistan and more importantly strengthening the people-to-people contacts between the neighbours.”
 “The purpose of the visit is to promote a philosophy of understanding and tolerance between the two countries by increasing and improving the quality of media content when reporting on each other's country and bilateral issues. This is expected to give a boost to the peace process between the two countries,” Mr Gurbir Singh, President, The Press Club – Mumbai, said.
The delegation represents leading newspapers and channels like Dawn, The News, Jang Geo TV, ARY News, Express Tv etc and are members of either Karachi or Hyderabad Press Club members. Most of them will be visiting India for the first time
They have been invited by The Press Club Mumbai as a reciprocal to Karachi Press Club and the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research jointly hosting Mumbai Media delegation in November last.
Both Mumbai and Karachi Press Clubs have established sisterly relationships.
The media representatives will have interaction with leaders of various political parties, industry leaders, journalists, social activists and common people.
They are also scheduled to visit Mr. Prithviraj Chavan, Chief Minister of Maharashtra and Mr. R R Patil, Home Minister. They will also visit the BSE as well as a couple of newspapers and news channels offices.
The two press clubs - PCM and KPC - are also demanding that their governments allow free flow of information between the two countries and remove media restrictions. Currently, only two journalists of other country are allowed to operate in the host country.
As the visit of journalists creates a conducive atmosphere for the enduring peace both the prestigious Clubs are demanding an open and liberal visa regime both for the journalist community as well as for the common people.
They would also be shown prominent landmarks of Mumbai like Gateway of India and Bandra-Worli Sea Link. They would be in Mumbai in Mumbai from May 21-26.
On the evening of May 26, they would proceed to Pune where they would visit a media house besides attending events hosted by Sarhad, a prominent NGO from Pune, which is working for Indo-Pak peace.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Another 1st from Press Club: Pak Media team coming on week-long trip



MUMBAI, May 20: The stage is set for the first ever Pakistan media delegation’s week-long visit from tomorrow to Mumbai with the Press Club Mumbai making all arrangements to host the team.

The 17-member strong delegation of Pakistani journalists will arrive at Mumbai tomorrow afternoon when The Press Club has planned a traditional welcome.
“The purpose of the visit is to promote a philosophy of understanding and tolerance between the two countries by increasing and improving the quality of media content when reporting on each other's country and bilateral issues. This is expected to give a boost to the peace process between the two countries,” Mr Gurbir Singh, President, The Press Club – Mumbai, said.
The delegation represents leading newspapers and channels like Dawn, The News, Jang Geo TV, ARY News, Express Tv etc and are members of either Karachi or Hyderabad Press Club members. Most of them will be visiting India for the first time
They have been invited by The Press Club Mumbai as a reciprocal to Karachi Press Club and the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research jointly hosting Mumbai Media delegation in November last.
Both Mumbai and Karachi Press Clubs have established sisterly relationships.
The media representatives will have interaction with leaders of various political parties, industry leaders, journalists, social activists and common people.
They are also scheduled to visit Mr. Prithviraj Chavan, Chief Minister of Maharashtra and Mr. R R Patil, Home Minister. They will also visit the BSE as well as a couple of newspapers and news channels offices.
The two press clubs - PCM and KPC - are also demanding that their governments allow free flow of information between the two countries and remove media restrictions. Currently, only two journalists of other country are allowed to operate in the host country.
As the visit of journalists creates a conducive atmosphere for the enduring peace both the prestigious Clubs are demanding an open and liberal visa regime both for the journalist community as well as for the common people.
They would also be shown prominent landmarks of Mumbai like Gateway of India and Bandra-Worli Sea Link. They would be in Mumbai in Mumbai from May 21-26.
On the evening of May 26, they would proceed to Pune where they would visit a media house besides attending events hosted by Sarhad, a prominent NGO from Pune, which is working for Indo-Pak peace.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Press Club Mumbai presents National Media Awards


BNK and  D K Raikar-Group Editor of Lokmat, presenting one of the awards

Mumbai, May 7, 2012: ‘The Press Club Awards for Excellence in Journalism’, celebrated the achievements of the Indian Print Media by conferring honors to top journalists from all over the country, in a grand awards function held in Mumbai on the 5th of May, 2012, at the NSCI Grounds, Worli. Established and organisedby The Press Club, Mumbai, for the second year in running, the ceremony acknowledged journalists for excellence in print journalism in six categories for best writing in ‘Crime’, ‘Cricket’, ‘Entertainment’, ‘Health & Environment’, ‘Politics’ and ‘Business’; in addition to the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Contribution to Journalism’. Citations and prize money of Rs. One lakh in each category were awarded to the winners and runners-up by eminent journalists and corporate partners. Mr. Kapil Sibal, Union minister for HRD, Communication & IT, presided as Chief Guest for the event.

Bagging four awards in three different categories, Tehelka was the evening’s leading winner, with Mumbai Mirror winning two awards. Two awards for‘Special Recognition’ were also presented to senior journalists – MadhuShetye and posthumously to PradeepShinde - for their unparalleled contribution to the Indian media. The toast of the evening was eminent senior journalist Vinod Mehta,Editorial Advisor of the Outlook Group, who was felicitated with the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Contribution to Journalism’ by Chief Guest, KapilSibal.

The ‘Press Club Awards for Excellence in Journalism’ recipients:
Category:                             Winner & Publication:                                                     Runner-Up & Publication:
I) Health/Environment     Anusha Subramanian (Business Today)              Rohini Mohan (Tehelka)
II) Cricket                       NagarajGollapudi (ESPN Cric Info)                     VaibhavPawar (Mumbai Mirror)
                                                                                                            AnandVasu (Sports Illustrated)
III) Crime                       Gaurav Jain (Tehelka)                                         AbhijitSathe (Mumbai Mirror)
IV) Entertainment           Rafique Baghdadi (Business India)                     Debraj Deb (Tripura Times)
V) Business                  Rishi Shah& John S Raja (Economic Times)       JehangirPocha (Forbes India)
VI) Politics                    AshishKhetan (Tehelka)                          KetakiGhoge&SnehalRebello
                                    ShomaChaudhury (Tehelka)                                (Hindustan Times)


The scintillating Awards evening regaled the 500 plus audience with an inward looking debate on the profession of journalism, titled: ‘Is the Chase for News in the Right Direction?’Hosted by Times Now Editor-in-Chief,ArnabGoswami,the debate saw zealous participation by media veterans Vinod Mehta,Uday Shankar (Star TV) and Kumar Ketkar (DainikBhaskar). The honorable Chief Guest, Mr.KapilSibal,brought out thought provoking points in his speech on ‘Role of Media in theNew Age’. (The script for the same is attached).

Over the past couple of months, the Press Club, Mumbai received an overwhelming participation from journalists all over India, with over 500 entries. The jury finalising the winners comprised prominent journalists and personalities including Sanjay Manjrekar, AyazMemon, SambitBal, Brett Lee, Clive Lloyd, ShabanaAzmi, Khalid Mohammad, AmitKhanna, Mahesh Jethmalani, MeenalBaghel, UdayKotak, N. Jagannathan, BittuSaighal, Cyrus Guzder, VithalKamat, YogendraYadav, Vinod Sharma, Kumar Ketkar and ParanjoyGuhaThakurta.

‘The Press Club Awards for Excellence in Journalism’ have been instituted to promote best practices among journalists and encourage good quality writing, fair play and high ethical standards. The corporate partners for the Awards included Podar Enterprise for the K.N.Prabhu Award for Cricket Writing, Yes Bank for the Best Business Writer, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals for the Environment / Health Awards, MCHI for the Political Story of the Year, Eros International for the Entertainment category and the Adani Group for Lifetime Achievement.
Details about the evening, winners, discussions and AVs will be available on the Press Club website: www.pressclubmumbai.com