REPORT ON PAGES 10 & 11
Largest parade of different sari styles in Singapore
100 saris record
T H E H E A R T B E A T O F T H E I N D I A N C O M M U N I T Y
SPEAK TOO LOUDLY
SINGAPORE, WEEKEND OF FRIDAY,
PAGES 6 & 7
Singapore Press Holdings
(English/Malay/Tamil Media group)
V.K. Santosh Kumar
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Modi: 90% Indians have toilet
PRIME Minister Narendra Modi has
said that 90 per cent of Indians have
toilet facilities at their homes now as his
government had got 8.3 crore toilets
constructed since 2014 to make the
country free of open defecation.
“Today, 90 per cent Indians have
toilet facility, which was only 40 per
cent before 2014. Over 4.15 lakh
villages, 430 districts, 2,800 towns, 19
states and Union Territories have been
declared open defecation-free,” he
The Modi government constructed
the toilets under the Swachh Bharat
Mission. He said the World Health
Organisation had expressed the
possibility of saving lives of three lakh
Indian children by the use of toilets.
Controversial bishop asked to
appear before Kerala Police
THE Kerala Police have sent a notice to
controversial Bishop Franco Mulakkal
of the Roman Catholic Diocese in
Jalandhar asking him to appear before
them on Sept 19.
A Kerala nun has accused him of
repeated sexual abuse between 2014
“We reviewed the entire case today
and there are contradictions in the
statements of the victim, the accused
and the witnesses. So, we have asked
the bishop to appear before us when
the investigation officer would question
him,” Inspector General of Police Vijay
“The contradictions in the
statements have to be cleared, or else
there could be issues.”
Thieves ate from stolen gold
THIEVES who stole a gold,
diamond-studded lunch box that
belonged to a former royal family were
using it to eat their meals, according to
the police in Hyderabad.
The lunchbox, stolen last week, was
recovered along with a ruby and gold
teacup, saucer and teaspoon.
Two men from the southern city of
Hyderabad have been arrested.
The items, valued at $9.6 million
once belonged to Mir Osman Ali Khan,
the last Nizam (king) of Hyderabad and
once the richest man in the world.
Suicide a leading cause of death
in India: Study
IN INDIA, suicide is the leading cause
of death in the 15 to 39 age group with
37 per cent of the total global suicide
deaths among women coming from the
country, according to a new study.
It was conducted by Indian Council
of Medical Research, Public Health
Foundation of India (PHFI) and
Institute for Health Metrics and
Evaluation in collaboration with the
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
“Women make more suicide
attempts, but it is men who die more.
Globally, the age between 15-19 years
is the phase where majority of the
women commit suicide,” said the
PHFI’s Rakhi Dandona.
Toll in Telangana bus tragedy
mounts to 61
THE death toll in Tuesday’s bus tragedy
in Telangana rose to 61 with three
passengers succumbing to their injuries
As many as 58 people were killed
when an overcrowded bus of
state-owned Telangana State Road
Transport Corporation plunged into a
gorge near Kondagattu in Jagtial
district, about 190 km from
The bus, carrying 101 passengers,
fell into the gorge when the driver lost
control at a speed breaker. Brake
failure is suspected to be the cause of
what is believed to be the worst-ever
bus accident in the country.
A lawyer has approached the State
Human Rights Commission seeking
police to press charges of culpable
homicide against the officials whose
negligence led to the accident.
254 copper coins of medieval era
discovered at Khirki mosque
THE Archaeological Survey of India
(ASI) has discovered 254 medieval
copper coins from the Khirki mosque
compound in south Delhi during the
conservation of the monument.
The mosque was built by
Khan-i-Jahan Junan Shah, the prime
minister of Firoz Shah Tughlaq
(1351-88, and is located on the
southern periphery of the village
At the same premises, the ASI in
2003 found 63 coins during cleaning
Smashing way to mark
A SIKH devotee performing
Gatka, a traditional martial arts
form, to break a coconut during
celebrations to mark the 414th
anniversary of the installation of
the Guru Granth Sahib, the
religious book of the Sikhs, in
Amritsar on Monday.
In 1604, Guru Arjan Dev, the
fifth Sikh Guru, installed the Guru
Granth Sahib at the Golden
The Punjab government
declared a holiday in the state on
Monday, for the first time.
Wooden sticks are traditionally
used to simulate swords in Gatka
sparring matches, although other
weapons are also used nowadays.
Historically associated with the
Sikh gurus and popular among the
masses, Gatka is now being
recognised as a sport across India.
September 14, 2018
September 14, 2018
ILAK Raj Bathla’s tiny weaving fac-
tory is one of the few still humming
on a once busy road in the north-
ern Indian city of Panipat, known as the
country’s “textile city”.
Nearby, more than two dozen other
workshops are locked from the outside,
while dogs and cows roam through other
abandoned factories. Scrap dealers en-
quire about idle powerlooms.
India launched the Goods and Services
Tax (GST) just over a year ago, its biggest
ever tax reform, aiming to replace more
than a dozen federal and state levies and
unify the sprawling economy.
The move improved economic effi-
ciency but critics say the complexities of
the new regime have driven many small en-
terprises out of business and forced hun-
dreds of thousands out of jobs.
For Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the
GST’s drawbacks, especially the job
losses, could prove costly in major state
elections later this year and a general elec-
tion next year.
Mr Bathla says his neighbours, most of
them unschooled, could not comply with
monthly online filings required under the
Some of his customers and suppliers
could not afford to hire accountants to nav-
igate a system which has been amended
more than 200 times already, while others
struggled to cope with delays in tax re-
turns caused by glitches in the centralised
“I have a GST registration, but I can’t
work as my vendors and buyers are unable
to comply with a complex tax structure,”
the 50-year-old said, adding that his
monthly sales had fallen to about Rs
250,000 ($4,750) from about Rs 10 lakh
before the GST. Only two of his 10 power-
looms are currently being used.
The government has said it is simplify-
ing the tax measure to make it accessible
to everyone. Finance Ministry spokesman
D.S. Malik said requests from small busi-
nesses have been considered “from time
to time.” But he declined to comment on
Nevertheless, India’s economy gath-
ered pace in the April-June quarter, ex-
panding 8.2 per cent compared to 5.6 per
cent in the same period a year earlier.
Economists said the number was com-
ing off a low base as companies held off
production in the period ahead of the im-
plementation of the tax measure in July
SMALL FIRMS HURTING
But, while big firms have since shaken off
the effects of the change and are set to gain
from a uniform tax regime, small busi-
nesses across the country are still hurting.
A survey by the All India Trade Union
Congress (AITUC) in July found that a
fifth of India’s 63 million small businesses
– contributing 32 per cent to the economy
and employing 111 million people – faced
a 20 per cent fall in profits since the GST
roll out, and had to sack hundreds of thou-
sands of workers.
Readymade garments, gems and jew-
ellery, leather, handicraft and basic ma-
chinery manufacturing are hit the most, in-
dustry bodies from across the country say.
According to estimates by the Centre
for Monitoring Indian Economy, a Mum-
bai-based consultancy, nearly five million
workers lost their jobs over the past year.
But it was not clear how many were
from small enterprises.
India’s unemployment rate rose to 6.4
per cent in August from 4.1 per cent in July
last year despite an additional 17 million
people joining the workforce.
But it did not give data on how many
people were laid off or from which indus-
India’s labour ministry releases jobs
data once in five years, last reporting un-
employment at 5 per cent in 2015-16
More than 50 workers and factory own-
ers in Panipat, about 90 km north of New
Delhi, said over a third of the city’s 10,000
weaving units had closed or curbed pro-
Mr Chand Multani, president of the Pa-
nipat Handloom Owners’ Association,
pointed to the tax headaches behind a bed-
sheet that costs barely $2 as an example.
The weaving of the sheet, its dyeing, iron-
ing, embroidering and packaging are all
done by separate businesses.
Under the new system, each business
has to pay GST at each stage of production
which the businesses can claim back pro-
vided they have registered with tax authori-
ties and have a GST number.
For a lot of small businessmen, this is
way too much work.
“How can all these different operations
comply with tax rules?” asked Mr Multani,
waving the sheet in the air.
OPPOSITION SEIZES ON GST
The GST replaced several federal and local
taxes and tore down tariff barriers between
India’s 29 states, but critics say that has
been to the benefit mainly of large, nation-
For Panasonic Appliances, India’s lead-
ing electric goods maker, GST has meant
cutting costs by 4 to 5 percentage points, for
example. India’s consumer goods stock in-
dex has risen 26 per cent in the past year,
outpacing the broader Mumbai market.
“GST has improved the competitiveness
of the manufacturing sector,” Panasonic In-
dia CEO Manish Sharma said.
Mr Modi, in an Independence Day
speech on Aug 15, said the businesses that
faced “teething difficulties in adopting GST
had accepted the challenge and the country
is now moving ahead.”
But Mr Rahul Gandhi, his main chal-
lenger in next year’s election, has zeroed in
on the job losses and shuttered businesses.
“This GST is a way of removing money
from the pockets of the poor,” he said last
“This is not GST, this is Gabbar Singh
Tax,” the Congress leader said, referring to
the villain in one of Indian cinema’s most
Mr Modi’s popularity fell below 50 per
cent in July from 53 per cent in January,
while Mr Gandhi’s rose to 27 per cent, up
from 22 per cent, according to a survey by
India Today magazine. Eighteen months
ago, the score was 65 per cent to 10 per cent.
To address grievances, the GST Council,
which administers the tax measure, has ap-
proved more than 200 amendments since
the law came into force.
Mr M.S. Mani, senior partner at Deloitte,
said too many changes to rules and rates
were damaging, particularly for small busi-
The Federation of Indian Export Organi-
sations estimates that nearly US$2 billion
of tax credits, mainly of small exporters,
were yet to be refunded, mainly because of
software glitches in the system and the diffi-
culties in matching the hundreds of thou-
sands of invoices.
About 230,000 small businesses have
closed down due to compliance and cash
flow problems, leading to large-scale job
losses, said Ms Amarjit Kaur, national secre-
tary of the All India Trade Union Congress.
“GST has proved a death warrant for
us,” Mr Ravinder Kashyap, 22, who lost his
job as a powerloom operator earlier this
year, said in a small rented room in Panipat
that he shares with four friends.
He said his employer had lost sales or-
ders because of the mess caused by the tax
and so had let him off along with scores of
“If this carries on for one or two years,
we’ll have to commit suicide,” he said.
GST effect: Thousands
Facing tough times... (Top)
Owner Tilak Raj Bathla at a
closed section of his factory in
Panipat, Haryana; (above) Mr
Bharat Lal, who lost his job as
a powerloom operator at a
weaving factory earlier this
year, now works as a clerk;
(left) Mr Dilip Soni (third from
left), who lost his job as a
powerloom operator earlier
this year and now works as a
packaging labourer, with
“I have a GST
but I can’t
work as my
a complex tax
– Mr Tilak Raj Bathla (left)
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