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Monday, 22 February 2016

తమన్నకి హ్యాండ్ ఇచ్చిన చరణ్?

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మెగాహీరో రామ్ చరణ్ తేజ్, స్టార్ హీరోయిన్ తమన్నకి హ్యాండ్ ఇచ్చాడని అంటున్నారు. ప్రస్తుతం రామ్ చరణ్ నటిస్తున్న చిత్రం, తని ఒరువన్ తెలుగు రిమేక్. ఈ మూవీకి సంబంధించిన షూటింగ్ త్వరలోనే సెట్స్ మీదకు వెళ్ళనుంది. ఈ మూవీ తరువాత రామ్ చరణ్ ఒకవైపు బోయపాటి శ్రీను, మరోవైపు త్రివిక్రమ్ వంటి కాంబినేషన్ లో చేసేందుకు రెడీ అవుతున్నాడు. అయితే త్వరలోనే త్రివిక్రమ్, రామ్ చరణ్ కి సంబంధించిన ఓ మూవీ రెడీ అవుతుంది. ఈ మూవీలో హీరోయిన్ గా తమన్నకి తీసుకోవాలని సాధారణ స్టోరీ డిస్కషన్స్ లో చర్చలు జరిగాయి. తరువాత అనుకోని విధంగా ఈ ప్రాజెక్ట్ సెట్స్ మీదకు వెళ్ళలేదు.
అయితే చర్ఛలు జరిగిన సమమంలో హీరోయిన్ గా ఎవరిని తీసుకోవాలంటూ వేడిగానే డిస్కషన్స్ వచ్చాయంట. ఆ సమయంలో త్రివిక్రమ్ తమన్నని రిఫర్ చేయగా, చరణ్ మాత్రం తమన్నకి నో అని అన్నడాంట. తమన్నని కాకుండా మరో హీరోయిన్ కి సెలక్ట్ చేయాలని చెప్పటంతో, అప్పుడే ఇండస్ట్రీలోకి వచ్చిన రకుల్ ప్రీత్ సింగ్ ని తీసుకునే ఉద్ధేశంలో ఉన్నారు. ఇక హీరోయిన్ గురించి జరిగిన డిస్కషన్స్ తరువాత…ఈ ప్రాజెక్ట్ కొంత కాలం పోస్ట్ పోన్ అయింది. ఆ తరువాత నుండి అనుకోని విధంగా ఈ హీరో, అలాగే డైరెక్టర్ ఎవరి పనుల్లో వారు బిజి అయ్యారు.

రమ్యక్రిష్ణ రేటు మరో కోటి పెరిగింది

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టాలీవుడ్ లో సెకండ్ ఇన్నింగ్స్ స్టార్ చేసిన హీరోయిన్ రమ్యక్రిష్ణ. రమ్యక్రిష్ణ ఎప్పుడైతే సెకండ్ ఇన్నింగ్స్ స్టార్ట్ చేసిందో…అప్పటి నుండి తనకి మంచి ఆఫర్స్ వరిస్తున్నాయి. కొన్ని ప్రెస్టేజియస్ ప్రాజెక్ట్స్ లో రమ్యక్రిష్ణ నటించి అలరించింది. ఇదిలా ఉంటే రమ్యక్రిష్ణ ఈ మధ్య కాలంలో పలు క్రేజీ ఆఫర్స్ లో నటిస్తుంది. ఆ విధంగా ప్రస్తుతం రమ్యక్రిష్ణ చేస్తున్న మూవీ రుద్రాక్ష. క్రుష్ణవంశీ కాంబినేషన్ లో రమ్యక్రిష్ణ ఈ విధంగా చేయటం ఈ మూవీపై హైప్ నr క్రియేట్ చేస్తుంది. ఈ మూవీలో దెయ్యం పాత్రలో రమ్యక్రిష్ణ నటిచంనుంది.
ఇక ఇప్పటికే బాహుబలి2 కి సంబంధించిన ప్రాజెక్ట్ లో రమ్యక్రిష్ణ నటిస్తుంది. మరోవైపు నాగార్జున నటించనున్న మరో క్రేజీ ప్రాజెక్ట్ లో రమ్యక్రిష్ణ ఆఫర్ ని చేజిక్కించుకుంది. ఇలా ప్రస్తుతం రమ్యక్రిష్ణ చేతిలో క్రేజీ ఆఫర్స్ ఎన్నో ఉన్నాయి. అయితే కోలీవుడ్ కి చెందిన ప్రముఖ డైరెక్టర్ ఈ మధ్య కాలంలో రమ్యక్రిష్ణ ప్రధాన పాత్రలో ఓ మూవీని రెడీ అవుతున్నాడు. ఇందుకు ఇప్పటికే ఇతను రమ్యక్రిష్ణ కి కథని చెప్పటం , రమ్యక్రిష్ణ గ్రీన్ సిగ్నల్ ఇవ్వటం వంటివి జరిగాయి. అయితే ఈ మూవీ కోసం రమ్యక్రిష్ణ భారీగానే కష్టపడాల్సి వస్తుంది. ఇక ఈ ప్రాజెక్ట్ కి రమ్యక్రిష్ణ దాదాపు కోటిన్నర వరకూ రెమ్యునరేషన్ కింద తీసుకోనుందని అంటున్నారు.

Details: How Deepika Padukone Is Achieving Her Enviable Body For xXx

Deepika Padukone for Femina India (Source: Twitter)
Deepika Padukone in Salvatore Ferragamo for Femina India (Source: Twitter)
We all know Deepika Padukone has been training hard for her role in xXx: The Return Of Xander Cage. Before she left for Toronto, we saw a bunch of workout videos, in which she was being trained by celebrity trainer Yasmin Karachiwala.
And now, in an interview to Femina magazine, Deepika gave a few more details on what she’s doing to get the body she wants for the film. The actress revealed that she’s doing a lot more cardio, functional training and weight training to look her part.

Cardio, of course, refers to exercises like running, walking, biking, swimming – anything that get your heart rate up to about 50-75% of your maximum. Functional training refers to performing exercises that use multiple muscles and joints to improve endurance, strength, flexibility, balance, etc. And weight training is essential to building muscle and strength.
Not only that, but the actress will also be doing some stunt training in Los Angeles, which, we’re assuming, will be essential to her character.
Deepika also revealed that she’s currently on a high protein diet, and is eating every two hours. However, she maintained that she’s staying away from supplements, as is using only natural foods to meet her nutrition goals.
While it’s obvious she’s putting in some extra work for this film, Deepika has really always been in great shape. That’s because she truly does believe in living a healthy lifestyle. She exercises regularly (“exercising 5 times a week” is her best beauty discovery), understands her body well, and eats in moderation. And the results are clear for all to see!




It’s Confirmed: Preity Zinta IS Getting Married!

Preity Zinta

There has been a lot of talk about Preity Zinta getting engaged to boyfriend Gene Goodenough, but the actress remained mum about it for the most part. However, rumours started getting stronger, and recently a source even revealed to DNA what her wedding functions would look like. And now, we’ve got official confirmation from her spokespeople – yes, the actress is indeed tying the knot!
Now, we’re hearing something even nicer. Preity – who is known to be rather private about her personal life – is channeling all the anticipation around her wedding into a charitable cause. She’s often been one to take a stand on issues that are close to her heart, and now she’s kicking off the Preity Zinta Foundation to further give back to society.
Here’s what we’re told:
The power couple have decided to direct all the hype and anticipation surrounding their wedding into a charitable cause. They will be putting their private wedding images up for auction and the proceeds generated out of these will go towards the Preity Zinta Foundation. Preity’s foundation works towards educating children and old age home rehabilitation. Preity has been involved in several charitable initiatives but has never spoken about it since she is an extremely private person. However, both she and Gene wanted to celebrate this joyous moment in their lives by giving back to society in their own little way.

Here’s A Gorgeous Still Of Deepika Padukone From The Unedited Footage Of xXx

xXx: The Return Of Xander Cage director DJ Caruso just took to Twitter to post this gorgeous photo of Deepika Padukone. It’s actually a still from a scene in the film, and from the looks of it, Vin Diesel is also a part of this scene.


“Dailies” often refers to the unedited footage that was shot the day before.
What do you think of the still?

Zee Cine Awards 2016: Parineeti Chopra and Ranveer Singh’s goofiness on the red carpet is ENDEARING!

Recently on the red carpet of Zee Cine Awards, Parineeti Chopra and Ranveer Singh's cute bonding will give many a friendship goals to you..

Parineeti-Chopra-Ranveer-Singh-(1)2122016212016





Sonam Kapoor’s father Anil Kapoor is critical of her Neerja act – watch video!

Sonam Kapoor's biggest critic is the closest to her. Yes, father Anil Kapoor loved his daughter's Neerja act, but he's not the one to stop her from growing...


Sonam Kapoor’s father Anil Kapoor is critical of her Neerja act – watch video!

Yes, while everybody is raving about the Raanjhanaa actress’ latest outing her father seems to be critical…

Sonam Kapoor is riding high on the success of Neerja. The actress who is often talked about for her fashionista image seems to have proved her mettle as an actor.Fans have even declared that Sonam Kapoor deserves a National Award for her representation of Neerja Bhanot in Ram Madhvani’s film. But looks like father Anil Kapoor is not the one to gush about his daughter’s achievements. The actor was at the Zee Cine Awards 2016 red carpet last night and instead of going gaga about her, Sonam’s dad spoke of how his daughter needs to remain a student of acting forever.
Anil Kapoor said, “Even the biggest of the actors and the best of them have to constantly keep learning. Same is with Sonam, no matter how much praise she gets for her performance, whatever anyone says she still has to improve more and more. An actor is always a student, learning is vast. Acting is like an ocean, you can never absorb it completely. ” Having said that he also added, “I’ve rarely seen such a reaction to a film. IU’m ver happy and I cannot tell you how emotional and excited we as a family are. I feel the movie has been blesed by Neerja Bhanot herself. Whatever is happening is happening because of Neerja (Bhanot).”
The proud father might not be very open and go all out in praise of Sonam, but her certainly has some special gestures that will make the actress’ day. The actor posted an old picture of him with Sonam from their personal album on his Instagram page and even wrote a special message for her. Now that’s super CUTE, isn’t it guys? A dad who knows how to appreciate his kid without really being boastful. No wonder Sonam finds great strength in her daddy dearest…
for video
https://youtu.be/vVXJAoojSfY

Indian cinema changing fast: Shah Rukh Khan

The "Dilwale" actor quipped that unless Hollywood films have six songs, they are not competing with Indian films.

shah rukh khan

Mumbai, Feb 22: Superstar Shah Rukh Khan believes Indian cinema is “changing fast” thanks to young actor and actresses and asserts that it will be a while before international cinema can give competition to it.
In an interview with CNN, SRK, who has given hits like “Baazigar”, “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge”, “Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham…”, “Dil To Pagal Hai” and “Chak De!”, also said that the reason for this is “stardom”.  ”As long as the star system is retained in this country, it will be sometime before international cinema takes in. But yeah, international stars are also becoming local stars. But like I said, Indian cinema is changing so fast with all the young actors and actresses. So, it will be quite a while before international cinema becomes actual competition,” Shah Rukh said.
According to him, there is a “huge balance of stardom” in the country.  ”Quentin Tarantino said the reason for local movies to survive is stardom. There is still a huge balance of stardom in this country, if it is a director, an actor or an actress. It is like watching a football match because you want to see stars or an NBA game…” he added.  The “Dilwale” actor quipped that unless Hollywood films have six songs, they are not competing with Indian films. (ALSO READ: Shah Rukh Khan holds no grudge for being detained at US airport)
Shah Rukh, who has been active in Hindi films for over two decades and has featured in more than 80 films and won the tag of “superstar”, says that India is the “only country where local cinema does better than international cinema”.  ”I have always had this worry, if I may say so, that if we are not able to change our cinema quickly enough, then we would be kind of overtaken, like Hollywood has. Principle movies all over the world are Hollywood films,” the 50-year-old said.  About the incident when he was detained at the New York airport for over two hours by immigration officials nearly four years ago, SRK said it “just was very uncomfortable”.


“To land up somewhere and getting stuck in an airport for 2-3 hours for no reason at all. God forbid if there was a problem in India, I would be the first to say that we have to strengthen our security. One has to see it in a larger context, it’s a sign of the times.” ”The world is that kind of place… you cannot hold grudges against people. We have to live with it and and just be prepared for some of this stuff,” he added.  The actor is now gearing up for the release of his film “Fan”, where he essays the role of a fan obsessed with a reigning superstar, and travels to Mumbai to meet the actor.  ”Fan” is slated for a April 15 release,

Yo Yo Honey Singh FINALLY opens up about his showdown with Shah Rukh Khan – watch video!

Last year there was buzz about Yo Yo Honey Singh and Shah Rukh Khan's fallout during the Slam Tour while promoting Happy New Year. Reports suggested that SRK slapped Yo Yo, post which the singer left the tour mid-way and returned India. However when he was asked about the incident, he clarified all the speculations...

Yo Yo Honey Singh FINALLY opens up about his showdown with Shah Rukh Khan – watch video!

The singer spoke up after a really long gap!

Last year there was buzz about Yo Yo Honey Singh and Shah Rukh Khan’s fallout during the Slam Tour while promoting Happy New Year. Reports suggested that SRK slapped Yo Yo, post which the singer left the tour mid-way and returned India. The singer then fell very sick and was in hospital for a long period of time. Since then, neither the actor nor the singer spoke about this issue. However, when Yo Yo Honey Singh walked in front of the media at the Zee Cine Awards 2016 after such a long time, he was asked about the incident and he finally clarified the speculations.
Yo Yo said, “I haven’t fought with anyone. I was just chilling, resting, working out.” A while back, we had also revealed that the singer is also set to perform with Shah Rukh Khan at TOIFA 2016. That means all is well between the two and we may see the two artistes collaborate for a movie again too.
Yo Yo Honey Singh also revealed a poster of his upcoming Punjabi film at the awards ceremony. On the professional front, Yo Yo sang for Arjun Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor Khan’s High Heelssong for Ki and Ka, while Shah Rukh Khan has been shooting for Rahul Dholakia’s Raees. It will be really exciting to see them together at TOIFA 2016. Check out what Yo Yo exactly said in the video below and tell us what you think about this latest development in the comments section!

Is this Salman Khan’s favourite suit?



Salman Khan repeated the same suit of Bigg Boss 9 launch at Zee Cine Awards 2016 but still managed to look dapper!

Is this Salman Khan’s favourite suit?

But he still looks dapper as always! Read on…

When it comes to fashion, the rules simply don’t apply for Salman Khan because he’s the Dabangg of Bollywood. The dude doesn’t need his clothes to define him and in fact, he is one of the most simple dressed celebrity who gives zero f**ks to all the fashion Nazis. Even with Sonam Kapoor around, the diva couldn’t pass on her fashion tricks to Bhai because clearly, he rocks however he is! But sometimes he sort of becomes too lazy to purchase some cool attires and look more dapper than what he already is.
Yes. If you remember, on the Bigg Boss 9 launch, Bhai had worn this super cool navy blue three piece suit. Needless to say, he looked wow and we were flat for him. Even with the extra weight (thanks to Sultan’s shooting), Salman looked really cool.
GossipTicket_302225_28092015

And then came the Stardust awards where he again donned a blue suit! Although that suit was royal blue, it was clearly inspired by Varun Dhawan’s royal blue suit that he had worn during the Dilwale promotions.
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But guess what, Salman’s love for the colour blue has become super prominent now! Even recently when he attended the Zee Cine Awards that was held in the weekend, he wore a navy blue suit. However, this is the exact same blue suit that he had worn at Big Boss 9 launch! Did someone forget to shop for new clothes? Nevertheless, thanks to his cute looks and macho body, we were smitten. If only he experimented with his clothes a little more! But at the end of the day, its Salman who’s the most wanted star!
Salman Khan (2)

Hopefully he’ll take our advice and try to don new styles and match the swag that he carries along with him! What do you think? Tell us in the comments section below!

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Here are the nine Indians who fell for Islamic State



Here are the nine Indians who fell for Islamic StateHere are the nine Indians who fell for Islamic StateHere are the nine Indians who fell for Islamic StateHere are the nine Indians who fell for Islamic StateHere are the nine Indians who fell for Islamic State

In Part-II on Islamic State, Rahul Tripathi profiles 9 men who were part of the IS cell headed by Mudabbir Mushtaq Shaikh alias 'Abu Musab.' A lot of planning went into the recruitment and assignment of work, reveal interrogation details and clear hierarchy was set according to the level of radicalisation and other parameters. 
Nafees Khan 21

He is described as the 'head of finance' at Islamic State-inspired Janood-ul-khalifa-al-Hind. Nafees, according to cops was working as salesman at a tiles shop in Hyderabad on a monthly salary of Rs 11,000. He hails from Mumbai's Nalasopara and came to Hyderabad in 2012 in search of a job. His primary education was at a Telugu camp and later did Islamic studies at a madarasa for 4 years. 

Here are the nine Indians who fell for Islamic State
At Hyderabad, Nafees started a Facebook account during which he came in contact with Rizwan, a juvenile and deputy chief of IS in India, who belongs to Uttar Pradesh. According to Nafees, Rizwan gave him the ID of 'Gumnaam of Syria,' believed to Shafi Armar. Gumnaam motivated Nafees and also taught him how to make bombs using 'justpaste.it'. "I got it printed from a computer shop and kept it in my room. Then I purchased a new GI pipe with both side thread and cap from a shop and got it drilled .. 

Mufti Abdus Sami Qasmi 46

A fiery orator, Sami is a native of Rampur in Uttar Pradesh and was arrested by NIA and UP police from Hardoi last week. Sami was residing at Seelampur in North East Delhi and was instrumental in motivating youths to join ISIS, advocating its ideology. Sami studied at Darul Uloom Deoband and runs a trust in name of Majlis-e-Tameer-e-Ummat, and 2 madrassas in UP. He travelled to states like UP, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Raj .. 

Obeidullah Khan 33
Here are the nine Indians who fell for Islamic State
Son of a retired constable, Khan is a resident of Hyderabad and married. The couple have four children with eldest being 6 years and youngest, 9 months. According to NIA, Obeidullah runs a computer sales and services, shop in the name of Computer Point at Tolichowki in Hyderabad. He was a given an assumed name by Shareef Moinuddin as Abu Talah during the meetings held at later's house in December.

Shareef named him after his younger son, Talha. According to NIA, Obeidullah used to servi .. 

Mohammed Shareed Moinuddin 54
The eldest among the group of 14 arrested by NIA, Shareef is a native of Hyderabad and studied up to class X. He also worked as an electrician in Saudi Arabia from 1980-97 at a company which had its headquarters at Syria. He came back to India in 1991 and started taking electrical wiring contracts in Andhra Pradesh. Shareef also admitted that he has given financial assistance to the families of terrorist who have been accused of triggering bomb blasts at Hyderabad.

According to NIA, Sha .. 

According to NIA, Shareef regularly attended Takrir related to jehad and for past two years was in search of a person who can take him to ISIS. Father of six, Shareef came in contact with Nafees Khan in 2015 and invited the group for a meeting at his house in the month of December 2015. According to him, Nafees was declared as the ISIS chief in Telangana.

Nafees also demonstrated the making of IEDs at his house and also played a video of ISIS. NIA also seized literature on jehad and ISI .. 
Mohammad Afzal 31

A diploma holder in electrical engineering, Afzal belongs to Bangalore. He has also done a bachelor of arts in English, Economics and history through correspondence in 2013. According to his interrogation details, Afzal first worked with BHEL in 1999 and later joined private firm in the capacity of component engineer.

While switching jobs, Afzal was at an onsite location at Saudi Arabia in 2005 where he remained for 14 months. .. 

Unless Urgent Steps Are Taken, Make in India Will Remain a Non-Starter

File picture of National Workshop on Make in India. Credit: Narendra Modi on Flickr
File picture of National Workshop on Make in India. Credit: Narendra Modi on Flickr


The “Make In India” campaign was launched with the twin objectives of growing the share of manufacturing in India’s GDP and of generating massive employment opportunities for India’s teeming young population. The vision, articulated in September 2014, was timely, following on the success of the Indian Mars Mission. A total of 25 sectors were identified to target these objectives.
In the last 16 months what has been the success of this initiative? With the Make In India week being launched on Feb 13 by the Prime Minister, it is a good time to take stock of the policy outcomes,
especially the “on the ground” success or failure of this vision.
India’s economic success is critical, in a world marked by increasing economic distress caused by falling commodity prices, deflation, currency wars, increasing protectionism and reducing global trade. India stands out as a beacon of hope that democratic political systems can also deliver high economic growth. The promise of BRICS has been dampened with the economic problems in Brazil, Russia and South Africa and the slowdown in China to a 25-year low rate of GDP growth.
As oil prices have crashed from USD 115 in June 2014 to USD 30 in January 2016, there is a huge transfer of wealth happening from oil producers to oil consumers. Some economists are questioning why this fall in oil import prices has not lead to a huge upsurge in Indian economic growth. The explanation is in the details. The average pump prices in India have fallen by 11% for Petrol and 21% for Diesel, while crude prices have fallen by 74%. The difference has been largely pocketed by the federal government in the form of enhanced tax levies which have led to a massive year-on-year growth of 34% in indirect tax collections.
This is fiscal prudence and has led to a situation where corporate turnovers are stagnant or reducing, while margins are expanding, leading to better profits for commodity consumer sectors. Our estimates are that CPI would be lower by 0.3% if the entire fall in global crude prices gets transmitted to the Indian commodity consumer sectors.
Any analysis of the Make In India initiative has to be thus put in a historical context. The election of the new federal government, with the first clear mandate in terms of a single party majority in the parliament in decades, raised hopes and expectations of a strong willed administration, which would introduce structural reforms and lead India onto the path of double digit growth
for multiple decades.
High expectations
The slogan of “Minimum Government, Maximum Governance” charmed analysts and industrialists alike. Expectations were that it would be a right-of-centre, liberal government, which would favour rapid privatisation and pro-growth policies to kick start the economy and revive aggregate demand which was languishing.
The World Bank’s “Ease of Doing Business” ranking of India improved 12 places to reach 130 out of a list of 189. However, there was precious little progress in making it easier to start a business, to get permissions for capacity expansion, to shut down a business or to enforce a contract. On top of that, the stalling of crucial reforms like GST and Land acquisition was a sobering reality.
What analysts missed was that, beyond the Make In India campaign, this was a strange mix of promised right wing liberalism with  heavy doses of welfare statism. While India was celebrating being 130 out of 189 in the ‘Ease of Doing Business’ rank, China at 84 and even Pakistan with all its failed state syndrome at 138,were a sobering reminder of the gap that needed to be bridged. Mexico at 38, Russia at 51, Turkey at 55, South Africa at 73, Philippines at 103, Indonesia at 109 and Brazil at 116 should give us further food for thought.
So what were the limitations of the approach and the execution? Privately a lot of industrialists say that what was needed was a 15-month revival plan, apart from the 15-year strategic plan that was rolled out with great panache and confidence.
First of all, there was little attempt to institutionally strengthen the policy framework. A technical expert, working on an inter-ministry committee to remove the bottlenecks of stalled projects, mentioned how the bureaucrats were aghast at the pace at which he wanted to restructure and revitalise stalled projects. In fact in the last quarter of 2015, the value and number of stalled projects actually went up. On the other hand, despite repeated attempts at selling non-core assets and monetising assets, many highly indebted companies surprisingly saw an increase in their debt levels with few revivals of stalled and bleeding projects coming through.
Talent shortage
Secondly, there is a serious talent shortage in critical areas. Institution building and their strengthening is the need of the hour with technical experts needed in all the mission-critical areas. This was not done beyond some instances like getting external professionals to head some Public Sector companies.
The result? As of January 2016, all 57 listed Public Sector companies (PSUs) on the Indian stock market have a market capitalisation less than that of the top 5 privately owned companies. The market value of these PSUs has fallen over 40% in the last two and a half years. With no bureaucrat tasked with a goal based on increase in market values of PSUs, we have seen value destruction on a massive scale.
This became the most evident in the Banking sector. PSU banks contribute over 70% of the lending and deposits to the Indian economy. However, with a substantial erosion in their valuations, as of January 2016, all the PSU banks put together were valued less than the leading privately owned bank. Even more starkly, all the PSU banks – excluding the SBI — were valued less than the second biggest private bank. A year earlier, in January 2015, all the PSU banks were valued at close to two times the top private bank.
The reasons for the sharp value erosion in PSU banks will take a separate paper to analyse. The PJ Nayak report laid out a very good improvement plan for PSU Bank governance and performance enhancement. Most of its suggestions are still not implemented. In the meantime, fears around the actual vs reported levels of bad loans at PSU banks saw their valuations dive to historically low levels.
Highly leveraged corporates
This leads us to the fourth reason for the slow traction of Make In India. Highly leveraged corporate balance sheets, with many sectors having unmanageable levels of debt, which cannot be serviced by the present cash flows. This has set in place a vicious circle of increasing bad loans, which leads banks to curtail further credit, thus choking these sectors off sustenance and leading to their failure. Add to that bad project appraisals and optimistic loan disbursals based on over optimistic forecasts by delusional or lumpen promoters, and we have a stage where anything from 10% to 17% of all bank loans is deemed as “stressed” by analysts.
Then there is the global overcapacity in certain sectors and the currency devaluations in emerging markets. This lead to certain countries dumping goods at huge discounts to domestic manufacturing costs. From steel to tyres, from power plants to toys, Indian industry has faced this dumping of goods from various countries. The government response has been slow and mostly inadequate. This has exacerbated the already tough conditions, with the output gap in the economy rising, as capacity utilisation has been falling.
The comparison with China and certain pronouncements, that the slowdown in China represented a great opportunity for India to seize on, have been, frankly, difficult to understand. Starting from a GDP of USD 2 trillion, even if India grows at 8 %, and China grows at 6% from a current GDP of USD 10 trillion, by 2020, China would have added two Indias to its GDP. In this context, the talk of the China vs India rivalry is a no-contest on most fronts.
In infrastructure, support to local manufacturing, speed of policy implementation, scale of economic
clout, foreign exchange reserves, current account surplus, financial assets size, military might, geopolitical influence, literacy, health, life expectancy – and even in sports (2012 Olympic medal count: China, 88; India, 6) — it will be an unequal competition for decades. This reality check is clear to Indian industry, but seems to be missing in the public discourse and strategy formulation.
Let us however consider the “glass half full” analogy and look at strong policy action that can revive, revitalize and strongly grow the scale of Indian manufacturing.
How can this be done? Can we Make In India? Yes.
With a 15% manufacturing share in a USD 2 trillion economy and a non-gold, non-oil import bill of USD 300 billion, the potential is there.
Some key success factors are in place: a federal government committed to increasing the share of manufacturing over the next 10 years to 25 % in the GDP and to creating 100 million new manufacturing jobs; a competitive race amongst state governments to attract investments in their regions to generate employment and prosperity; India’s natural advantage of demographics, resources and established rule of law and protection of private property rights. The government could take some concrete steps to rapidly scale up manufacturing.
It could appoint a minister of Make In India: This project is too important and too critical for poverty elimination in India to leave it to bureaucrats spread across ministries. Such a minister, of the calibre of someone like Ratan Tata should be appointed post-haste and given the best team of bureaucrats and technocrats.
For each of the 25 sectors/industries identified for Make In India, the Niti Aayog  should appoint an industry veteran to give an action plan within the next 100 days on which country, which region, which companies in the world delivered the maximum excellence in that particular industry and how. For example, Bangladesh, despite an ‘Ease of Doing Business’ rank of 174 is exporting as much textiles as India. 
There are 10 criteria used in the ‘Ease of Doing Business’ ranking by the World Bank, among them: Starting a Business, Dealing with Construction Permits, Getting Electricity, Registering Property, Paying Taxes, Enforcing Contracts etc. There should be therefore 10 departments in the Ministry of Make in India mirroring these with the task of bringing India to the first rank on all these parameters within the next 12 months. Nothing less will do.
Infrastructure bottleneck
Infrastructure is the next biggest bottleneck. This will take a lot of time and resources to resolve. The biggest bottleneck is infrastructure funding and project revival/clearance. An Infrastructure Finance Commission should be set up with a renowned finance leader like Deepak Parekh to devise various structures and instruments to deliver the massive fund raising that is required to get Indian infrastructure to global levels.
India is sitting on a demographic time bomb as most of the youth entering the work force every year are not employable.The education system needs to be urgently revamped into a Germany-like apprentice system which provides vocational skills to students to create employability amongst school and college students .This is a very critical pre-requisite as well.
The very poor sub-12% Tax to GDP ratio of India remains one of the lowest in the world. The reasons and remedies of this are many and the Finance Ministry needs to bring in an intense focus on this. The tax procedures remain stuck in a colonial, “guilty till proved innocent” mind-set with horror stories like the MAT demands on foreign institutional investors without permanent establishments in India and the retrospective demands on many large M&A deals doing significant damage to investor sentiment and to India’s attractiveness as an investment destination. This needs to be addressed with a 100 -day plan; we cannot have a 15 year plan on this.
Structural reforms needed
Structural reforms can still move ahead despite legislative delays. Chandrababu Naidu in Andhra Pradesh and the Gujarat government have evolved equitable and speedy land acquisition policies that need to be emulated by all states. Similarly certain states have moved fast on labour reforms. The Bankruptcy Act will get passed in the next few months and will help immensely.
The creation of a single Indian Common Market as well as implementation of GST are critical as well. These by themselves could boost the GDP, enhance the Ease of Doing Business and significantly increase tax compliance and collections while reducing compliance costs for corporates. Both need to be implemented in whatever form is politically possible, given the legislative composition at present.
Banking sectors reforms and bank balance sheet-strengthening is an essential condition for the success of Make In India. PSU banks need to be capitalised. Distressed loans should be moved to a “bad bank” manned by Enforcement Directorate officers with empowerment to recover defaulted loans from promoters. This will reward efficient promoters with lower loan rates and instill fear in chronic defaulters who have diverted funds with impunity.
This is a partial list, as the opportunity is huge. For each of the 25 sectors identified under Make In India, the 10 criteria under Ease of Doing Business make for 250 broad action points with hundreds of detailed action points within these. There are shining examples of success around the world that need to be emulated and quickly implemented in India for each of the sectors and criteria.
The Indian economy has been more of a tortoise than a lion over the last many decades. The dice is loaded against India to deliver on the Make In India promise. Between 2000 and 2010, the developed world, represented by North America, Europe and Japan lost 17 million jobs in manufacturing. These would be due to productivity gains, downsizing and offshoring. In this scenario, India will find it tough to add even a fraction of the ambitious 100 million manufacturing jobs that are aimed for under the Make In India campaign.
Global manufacturing is changing very fast. Innovations in technology, work flows, materials, processes, automation, robotics and even in consumption patterns means that the 20th century models of manufacturing success will not work in the 21st century. India has been left behind in this race and we are in an intense “catch up” phase to survive and prosper.
Make In India represents a significant opportunity to deliver a higher standard of living and ultimately prosperity to the average Indian citizen. Speed, deep insights, micro level execution on many fronts and far sightedness in the political class along with flexibility and competence of the “iron cage” of the bureaucracy will determine if the lumbering Indian tortoise remains in the ranks of the missed opportunities nations or metamorphoses into a powerful lion on the global stage.
Ajay Bagga is a market analyst based in Mumbai

AP aims for sustainable double digit growth



Hyderabad, Feb 20 (INN): Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu will chair a two-day Collectors' Conference on February 22nd and 23rd in Vijayawada.

The main agenda of the conference is Performance Assessment 2015-16 and Action Plan 2016-17 towards achieving inclusive and sustainable double-digit growth. It will hold elaborate discussions on the quarterly results, progress achieved and decide on an action plan for the way forward.

The two-day Collectors' Conference will have six sessions. On the first day, budget, transparent governance, e-Pragati, Janmabhoomi, Farm Ponds (Panta Sanjivini), action plan for Kharif season 2016-17 topics will be discussed. Industrial growth, attracting investments, urban infrastructure development, expansion of the tourism sector, skill development and maximizing welfarefor the people will come up for discussion on the second day.

Sixth Edition of Collectors' Conference in 2 years

The Chief Minister conducted the first Collectors Conference on August 7th, 2014. The first session held a discussion on the government's vision to be amongst the top 3 states in India by 2022, be the best state in India by 2029 and be the most preferred destination by 2050. Each session of the Collectors' Conference focused on the government's vision towards development, reforms and an elaborate review on seven missions.

Day 1: 2016-17 Budget, Governance

The first day of the session will begin with a welcome address by Senior IAS A.C. Puneeta. Chief Secretary to Government S.P. Tucker will elaborate on 2015-16 growth and preparation for the 2016-17 budget. Later, Deputy Chief Minister Sri K.E. Krishna Murthy and Finance Minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu will deliver their addresses.

The Chief Minister will deliver a keynote address on 'Transforming Governance for Inclusive and Sustainable Double Digit Growth', setting the tone for the two-day collectors' conference.

Principal Secretary (Finance) Dr. P.V. Ramesh will speak on Budget 2016-17. Later, the Chief Secretary will talk about GSDP Growth Rate.

In the first session on Governance reforms for Transparency and Efficiency, topics slated for discussion are e-Pragati and Janmabhoomi grievances. Ravindran Devagunam, PEMANDU Director, from Malaysia will talk on Governance Lab.

Rural Infrastructure and Employment will be discussed during the post-lunch session. Officials will submit a report on performance and action plan for Rural Water Supply and CC Roads under MGNREGS, Borewells, Farm Ponds and Water Status and Management.

During the third session, the collectors' conference will discuss agricultural growth 2015-16 and create a plan for the 2016-17 Kharif season.

Day-2: Infrastructure, Investments, Skill Development, Welfare

On the second day of the Collectors' Conference, the district collectors and APIIC officials will present a report on industries, land consolidation, agribusiness and tourism. On urban infrastructure, the session will give ratings to 110 municipalities in the state. The officials will also discuss on developing 3 AMRUT and 12 mega cities, taking Vizag as a case study. Setting up of Infrastructure fund will also be taken up.

During the post-lunch session, an elaborate discussion will be held on skill development and welfare. The officials will review how details of skilled youth can be linked to industries and investments, thereby creating one million new jobs.

Under Social Empowerment Mission, reports on Health, Women Development and Child Welfare, SC-ST sub plan, Minority welfare and BC welfare will be presented to the Chief Minister. The concluding session will hold a review on Law and Order of the state. DGP J V Ramudu, DIGs, Commissioners of Police and Superintendents of Police will participate in the meeting.

In his efforts to put the state on a growth trajectory, the Chief Minister holds Collectors' Conferences regularly. The sessions are aimed towards sensitizing ministers, advisors, secretaries district collectors, heads of the Departments, officials and police personnel on the government's vision towards achieving inclusive growth and proceed with a distinct vision.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

‘I saw his fluffy little head going out the door’: one woman's fight to keep her baby

In the late afternoon of Friday 12 July 2013, in the calm, modern maternity wing of North Tyneside general hospital, 16-year-old Peter Bertram made a video of his mother holding his newborn baby brother. Peter’s video, made on his mother’s phone, lasts just over five minutes. In it, Annie Bertram, 33, sits in a hospital chair cradling her sleeping six-day-old son, Huw. Her long, chestnut hair is pulled back in a band; she looks exhausted. “Mamma’s just back from court,” she says, in a soft geordie accent. “I tried really hard to keep you. My barrister wanted me to agree to them taking you away, but I said I would rather fight and lose, because then at least I’d know I’d fought.”
Annie strokes Huw’s tiny hand with one finger. “Please don’t ever think you didn’t mean the world to me. Because you did. And you do.” Tears roll down her cheeks. “And I so want you to have a good life and to be happy, and I can’t bear” – her voice breaks – “the thought of anybody hurting you.” Huge sobs shake her. The baby, eyes closed, sleeps on, his face turned peacefully towards his mother.
Earlier that day, Annie had left the hospital to attend Newcastle family court in a last, desperate effort to be allowed to keep her baby. Social workers at North Tyneside council had applied for an interim care order. If approved by a judge, this would mean social services could remove Annie’s baby and put him into foster care, pending a longer-term plan for his future. Huw was Annie’s fifth child; three of the others, aged seven, eight and 16, had been subject to care applications at various points in their lives. Rosie, four, spent periods with her father. In December 2012, as soon as social workers discovered Annie was pregnant, they told her they intended to remove the baby at birth.
Against accepted good practice, the hearing was in front of a judge unfamiliar with her history. “She was older, and looked very forbidding,” Annie recalls. “She didn’t look at me other than to get exasperated when I didn’t understand a question.” She was still in pain and bleeding from the birth, and her milk had come in and soaked her top as she answered questions for an hour. Her barrister, whom she’d met only a few minutes earlier, didn’t seem to her to fight very hard: Annie felt he didn’t have a grasp of her situation. “He asked me at one point if I was a prostitute,” she says bitterly.
Although counsel for the local authority acknowledged that Annie posed no immediate risk of harm to her baby, the debate continued for more than two hours, until Annie could bear no more and asked for permission to leave. At quarter past seven that evening, a midwife came into Annie’s hospital room. “I asked if it was time,” Annie says. “She said, ‘Yes’ and gently took Huw out of my arms and quickly left the room. I just saw his fluffy little head going out the door.” Annie’s screams echoed through the corridors. The foster carer who came to the hospital to take the baby has told Annie she is still haunted by the sound.
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The death in 2007 of Peter Connelly, 17-month-old “Baby P”, prompted a rapid rise in the number of children taken into care. When it emerged that Peter, who died due to multiple injuries caused or allowed by his mother, her boyfriend and his brother – was well known to Haringey social services, social workers were vilified by politicians and the press. Terror of being seen as responsible for “another Baby P” is thought to have contributed to a highly risk-averse culture in children’s services. This fear may be why the number of babies removed from their mothers at birth has increased so rapidly: according to professor Karen Broadhurst, it more than doubled between 2008 and 2013, from 802 to 2,018. By the end of March 2015, there were 69,540 children in local authority care.
Another factor is an increased focus on emotional harm. If proved on the balance of probabilities, risk of this is an acceptable basis for a UK court to sever a parent’s legal bond with their child. By 2013, the number of children on child-protection plans due to emotional abuse was more than six times as many as for sexual abuse, and nearly three times as many as for physical abuse.
Of the children who become involved in care proceedings, about four in 10 end up in long-term foster care or are adopted; Broadhurst’s research found that just one in 10 babies removed at birth will be reunited with their mother. As Annie was to discover, once a baby is taken into care, it can be extremely difficult to get them back.
***
Serious concerns about Annie’s children had been raised two years before Huw’s birth, in 2011. Annie, at 31, had been in a volatile relationship with a man who was controlling and occasionally violent. “It was an abusive cycle,” she says. “He would drink, get angry at me, hit me, reject me. I would fall apart, he would leave, and then I would let him back, because my self-esteem was so bloody low.”
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One night in November 2011, unable to cope with the confusion and distress, and trying to manage her children alone, Annie was overcome by panic. She needed urgently to get out of the house: “I just had to not be there.”
She rang her close friend Jenna and asked her to come over urgently, to watch her children. Then, when she could hear Jenna’s noisy car exhaust rounding the corner, she ran. Jenna arrived to find the younger children asleep and Peter playing on his Xbox, unaware that his mother had left (Rosie was with her father at the time). After a frantic search, and concerned about her friend’s wellbeing, Jenna rang the police. Annie was arrested and handcuffed on a road near her home, and taken to the police station, where she was put in a cell.
A duty solicitor advised Annie to accept a caution for child neglect; reluctantly, she did, after being told refusal would lead to a compulsory care order. Later that day, she signed a consent form for emergency care. Danny and Grace were temporarily fostered with a local family. Peter, then 15, was allowed to stay at home. Rosie stayed with her dad.
Anonymous woman with the son who was taken from her shortly after birth
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 Annie with Huw: her friends describe her as ‘an amazing mother’, ‘incredibly engaged with her kids’.
Annie has no parental support. She was sexually abused at the age of eight by a family member, but when she told her mother, normal life resumed as though nothing had happened. Now, she finds, it is better to stay away from her family. “They are not good for my mental health.”
She was sexually assaulted in her teens by a stranger, and by 15 she was self-harming and staying out all night. She left home and went to her grandmother’s. After a period of sleeping rough, she walked into North Tyneside’s council offices and asked children’s services for help. They found her a foster placement, but when she got pregnant, after a brief affair with a married man more than twice her age, the foster carer asked her to leave. By 16, Annie was living in her own place, studying for GCSEs at college and caring for her baby. She was encouraged by her teachers to take A-levels, and found work in business banking, which she enjoyed. At 23, she got pregnant again.
Almost as soon as her baby girl, Grace, was born, she was pregnant again. Her boyfriend was unreliable, and when the babies were born he wanted nothing to do with them. It was a bitter blow to Annie’s hopes of creating a family.
A pattern had been set. When she was living in relative stability as a lone parent, or in the throes of a new relationship, Annie coped. Her friends describe her as “an amazing mother”, “incredibly engaged with her kids”. But when a relationship collapsed, so did her mental equilibrium. At her lowest points, Annie asked for help, and got it: North Tyneside social services stepped in, finding nurseries and respite childcare when they were closed. The children’s case files are now thick ring-binder folders of notes detailing case conferences, assessments and support packages.
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In September 2007, after a breakdown in her relationship with a man called Richie, Annie took an overdose while her children were in bed. She survived, but knew she needed urgent help and asked the council to accommodate Peter, Grace and Danny on a short-term basis. For four months, until they returned to her care, Annie did intensive therapeutic work with her community psychiatric team, seeing her kids regularly all the while.
She describes her relationship with Richie as “volatile”: she got pregnant, but he threw her out of his house two weeks before she gave birth to their daughter Rosie, in October 2008. Her hard work with the psychiatric team meant her mental health was more resilient, and newborn Rosie was discharged from hospital into Annie’s care. The risk assessment on the older three was downgraded, and the case subsequently closed.
It was three years later, at the end of 2011, that Annie made her panicked bolt from home, and the children were again accommodated by consent. During a contact outing with Danny and Grace in the town centre one day, Danny begged her not to return him to his foster carers. He seemed frightened, and both brother and sister showed their mother bruising on their arms and legs. They said they were being pushed and shoved, and had fallen. Annie called the police to make an official complaint and, though the foster carers weren’t charged, Annie withdrew her consent for their remaining in care. Both children moved back to live with her.
By the following spring, she was struggling again. Her new boyfriend had asked her to marry him, but then broke up with her. Visited at home by the pastoral mentor from her children’s school, Annie confessed that she wasn’t coping. “And she said, ‘Annie, you have to cope,’” she says.
Two days later, while the children were at school and nursery, Annie wrote a suicide note and took an overdose. Before she passed out, she rang her community psychiatric nurse. She was almost unconscious when the ambulance arrived, and was on a drip in hospital for 24 hours. When she woke up, she felt devastated it hadn’t worked, before being hit by a wave of “the deepest, most painful, awful regret… and just desperation to be back home with the kids, doing tea and the school run.”
North Tyneside’s children’s services decided Annie’s volatile mental state and breakdowns were causing the children emotional harm, and applied to take them all into care. They accepted that during the periods when Annie was well, she was able to meet the children’s needs, but argued that “her mental health currently precluded her from doing so on a long-term and predictable basis”.
children’s guardian, an independent professional appointed to represent their best interests, agreed. Annie accepted that the children needed stability and didn’t contest the application in April 2013, on the understanding that once she had completed a course of therapy, and her mental health was stable, she would be applying for the children to come home. By this stage, she was pregnant again and fighting for the right to be recognised as the new baby’s mother.
Sitting on the floor of her small council flat on a hot day last August, Annie, slim and neat in black leggings and a flowered dress, tucks her legs under her. In November 2012, when she found she was pregnant, she was told social workers were likely to apply to remove the baby at birth. She felt she had no option but to seek an abortion. “I went to the women’s health unit and told them why I couldn’t bear to carry this child. The doctor went very quiet. And they said, ‘Abortion day is Wednesday.’”
The procedure was booked for 12 December; she would be 11 weeks pregnant. “They said they would keep the baby and there would be a burial on 2 January. And that,” Annie’s face crumples, “would be how my new year would start.”
Annie and Richie – with whom she still had an intermittent relationship, and whom she believed was the baby’s father (a DNA test later showed he wasn’t) – talked late into the night. They scrabbled together the money for a 3D scan because, Annie says, “I wanted to be able to say goodbye to my baby.” Finally, Annie recalls, “Richie said, ‘You can’t do it. You won’t survive this. And maybe they won’t take him. Maybe we can fight.’”
But her children’s social workers were, she felt, no longer interested in supporting her effort to keep the family together: they talked over her, she felt she was patronised; once, she was shouted at. The social worker later wrote in evidence given to the court in February 2013: “I have had difficulty communicating with Ms Bertram following a meeting [when she] stated I had verbally attacked her.” The social worker noted that Annie had missed four contact sessions with her children (though it was not noted that she had attended three contacts a week for nearly a year).
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In her evidence, Annie wrote: “At that meeting the social worker was so hostile to me that the independent reviewing officer had to intervene and ask [her] to be more moderate. She had made her personal dislike of me perfectly plain.” Annie admitted she had cancelled three contacts after sessions with the assessing psychiatrist that had left her distraught, and missed one further contact because she was unwell.
Annie was allowed to see Grace and Danny three times a week. On Wednesdays only, the four siblings could meet. At every 90-minute session, a contact supervisor would observe and make notes. It was not a relaxing environment: Annie knew that anything she said could be used in evidence about her ability to parent. She prepared carefully for these family sessions, scouring charity shops for cheap board games and materials for craft activities. “Grace and Rosie would naturally gravitate towards each other, and sit at a table in the contact centre, making stuff together,” she recalls. “Sometimes I brought a chess set, because Danny likes chess, and he’d often be stressed at the start. Playing chess together was a way of helping calm him down.”
To reinforce its case that the new baby would not be safe, the council relied heavily on psychiatric and psychological reports commissioned for Annie’s older children’s care proceedings. Annie maintained that she had been mentally well for the best part of a year; social workers said there had been a deterioration. Damagingly, in their report to the court, they stated that “mother was referred to [her local] community mental health team but has refused to engage on the basis that she does not trust any professionals. Mother would not work with her midwife and is no longer prepared to work with social workers… She does not take responsibility for her difficulties.”
A social worker previously employed by North Tyneside, who is now an academic and asked not to be named, is in little doubt that Annie’s wariness of children’s services was justified. “If you went undercover in a social work office for a week, you’d be horrified,” he says. “One of the reasons I left is because of this drive to take children away from their families – it’s seen as not doing your job properly if you’re not removing children.” When asked to comment, North Tyneside council pointed out that its figures are “not out of step with the national picture” and that its social workers are “actively encouraged to question our work with families at every stage, to support sensitive child-focused planning”. But according to this ex-social worker, the view is “When in doubt, remove.”
***
There were 5,330 adoptions in England in the year ending 31 March 2015 – a substantial rise on the number adopted in 2011, when the then education secretary Michael Gove demanded that more children should be adopted, faster. Removing and then adopting a child based on a possible future danger has become highly contentious, particularly since the timescale for courts to decide on a child’s permanent future has been reduced to an outside limit of 26 weeks, leaving parents little leeway to prove they have changed enough to safely look after their child. The government does not collect figures on the number of forced adoptions: former “adoption tsar” Martin Narey says that only half of parents fight adoption right to the bitter end; other family law experts suggest that many who are recorded as “not opposing” the final order may simply have had their will to fight ground down over months of legal wrangling.
In the months before Huw was born, Annie was diagnosed with emotional disorders that would require long-term therapy. One report said she should be reassessed after 12 months; a court-appointed psychologist recommended two years of treatment and commented on Annie’s high levels of insight, which “bodes well for any future change”. Nevertheless children’s services said her mental instability posed too high a risk of serious emotional harm to her unborn baby.
Annie gave birth to Huw on 6 July 2013. Six days later, around 8.30pm, after he was taken from her, she returned to her flat grief-stricken and bereft. Night after night, unable to sleep after expressing breastmilk for her baby, she would look for advice online. After a few weeks, she came across a blogpost with the heading “What should you do if social services steal your children?”
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The author, Andrew Pack, is a local authority lawyer who writes a popular family law blog, SuesspiciousMinds. “There are a lot of people who’ve had bad experiences with social workers – some because social workers have not treated them well and they’re voicing genuine grievances, and some who’ve had a miserable time because they’ve not been able to change,” Pack tells me.
His blogpost explained that for parents to have any chance of getting their child back, they would need to demonstrate change. “The question being asked is, given that x has happened, are we going to give these parents another try?” he says. “The other thing to ask – and nobody will tell you this – is, are the professionals involved rooting for you? Do they like you? Are they optimistic about you? These are not the only factors, but they are things you can do something about.”
Annie read the post. Some time between midnight and dawn, she left her flat and walked eastwards, not stopping until she reached a bench overlooking the waves crashing in from the North Sea. The beach stretched out before her. She was convinced social workers had made up their minds about her, months before she gave birth to Huw: this was where her working relationship with the council had begun to break down.
Anonymous woman with the son who was taken from her shortly after birth
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 ‘The parents who don’t succeed, I see them sobbing on the court steps’: Annie with Huw.
It is difficult and sometimes painful to change one’s mind. It involves accepting we are fallible, and might have been wrong. In acknowledgment of this, social work students are taught to guard against a phenomenon known as confirmation bias, explains Brigid Featherstone, professor of social work at the University of Huddersfield. “In a social work context, confirmation bias involves looking only for evidence that confirms pre-existing views of a family, situation or issue,” she says. “Moreover, people have a tendency to maintain their intuitive beliefs even when confronted by evidence that challenges them.”
Annie describes her relationship with social workers as broadly one of trust until the summer of 2012, when they took legal action to put her older children into care. One social worker was “absolutely brilliant, a decent woman, who really tried to understand my family and supported us all”. The moment children’s services applied to a judge for care orders, however, Annie noticed an attitude change: new social workers got involved, whom she considered judgmental and biased.
“They’d decided what they thought of me,” she says. “And they twisted what I told them, and sometimes they lied to make me look as bad to the court as they possibly could.” A spokesman for North Tyneside said, “These are very emotional issues and involve understandably strong feelings, but it would be wrong to say the local authority team take a general position on any individual.
Annie is convinced it didn’t matter what progress she made; North Tyneside’s social workers would never believe she could change. And by the time she read Pack’s blogpost, it had started to feel futile to try to convince them. “But that post gave me the tools to fight,” she says. Her task from that point on, she resolved, was to work as hard as she could to convince the other professionals involved in Huw’s case that she had changed.
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Annie had been adamant she wanted to breastfeed Huw. In the teeth of social workers’ opposition, the judge who granted the order that he should be removed also allowed her to see him three times a week. Over the months that Huw remained in foster care, mother and son bonded well.
Every child in care proceedings has a children’s guardian appointed, and in court their view is given considerable weight. Huw’s guardian submitted her evidence in November 2013. “She didn’t just file her evidence, she rang and told me,” Annie says, smiling. The guardian had decided it would be best for Huw to live with his mother, and that he should be returned home with “the minimum delay”.
But by the time of the final court hearing, scheduled for five days in January 2014, the local authority’s plan remained the same: Huw should be placed for adoption. The social workers’ assessment was that Annie’s history of periodic mental health crises meant she would put Huw at significant risk of emotional harm.
Just before the hearing, a judgment was handed down from the high court in London that restated in the strongest terms the statutory requirements that must be met before the legal link between a parent and child may be severed. In his ruling in the landmark case now known as Re B-S, the president of the family division, Sir James Munby, declared that adoption orders are “a very extreme thing, a last resort”, and only to be made “in exceptional circumstances and… where nothing else will do”.
As a result, North Tyneside’s social workers had to submit a “Re B-S” statement to the court, to prove that their adoption plan did in fact meet the law. On day three of Huw’s final hearing, after the guardian’s evidence had been noted, and Annie had been cross-examined, it became apparent that the social workers would have to rethink. “My legs went. I couldn’t stand up,” Annie says, remembering the moment the local authority’s counsel conceded that adoption was no longer a viable prospect.
But Huw’s case wasn’t over yet. “He had to wait for 10 more weeks to come home, because they kept coming back to court, and there was nothing different in their plan,” Annie says, angry at the memory. By the time of yet another hearing, on 11 March 2014, a full two months after Judge Simon Wood had been told adoption was no longer on the cards, the judge politely but definitively lost his temper. “It is just unforgivable,” Wood says on the court recording, his voice controlled but furious.
The council has since accepted responsibility for the unnecessary delay between the hearings, though it maintains there was no intention to be obstructive. Wood twice told the court that, should Annie seek an independent investigation of the council’s management of Huw’s case, he would be minded to grant it. Of the social workers’ refusal to allow contact between Grace and Danny and their baby brother – bar a single supervised hour, in a contact centre, just after he was born – Judge Wood said to the social worker in court that it “beggars belief”.
“I do not see this as a ‘nothing else will do’ case,” the judge said. “Every step taken [by the council]… has had to be forced upon it, and indeed the initiative has come not from the local authority, but from the mother herself.” Wood reminded the council that, in a case like this, it was bound to provide the support services required to enable Huw to return home, whether it wanted to or not
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Huw came home on 27 March 2014, at nearly nine months old. His social worker handed him to Annie in the car park below her flat. “The foster carer sent me a text to say, ‘Your son is on his way home where he belongs,’” Annie says, sobbing. The day before, Huw had been brought to her house for a contact visit with all his clothes and toys. Annie and the foster mother had hugged and cried when they said goodbye.
Nearly two years on, life for this family is far from simple. Annie has sole responsibility for Huw, picks Rosie up from school and has her to stay three nights a week. She gets help from Peter, who has just turned 19 and was still living at home last summer, awaiting his A-level results. But Grace and Danny, now 11 and 12, are still with foster carers, and their mother describes the past three years of involvement with North Tyneside children’s services as “a complete disaster for my family”.
A spokesperson for North Tyneside council acknowledges that “Annie and her family have had a long and complicated relationship with the local authority. Sometimes we have been helpful. Sometimes we have had to take very difficult decisions. And sometimes we recognise we could have done things differently and better. Over the last couple of months we have sought to rebuild our relationship and to seek Annie’s help to allow her experience to positively influence our practice.” In other words, there were lessons to be learned.
Peter, curled up on the sofa, says he believes older siblings are the forgotten victims of care proceedings. “That summer [when they took Huw] was brutal,” he says. “I was 16 and in the middle of my GCSEs. I felt so alone – the strain was terrible. We were living on £50 a week, eating 15p noodles heated up in a pan. Pour on some sauce and that was dinner.”
He huddles into himself. “I don’t want to go to court or fight the local authority. I don’t want to be part of that world. Obviously, I have quite a big problem with authority now. If you go through this kind of thing, you lose trust. We’ve been completely torn apart as a family. We will never, all of us, live under the same roof.”
Peter looks up through a floppy quiff. “I haven’t seen Grace and Danny in weeks,” he says. “It’s getting to the point now that I don’t feel connected to them any more.” He pauses. “I’m exhausted. And I can’t see a way out.”
Grace and Danny have been in long-term foster care for nearly four years. Though Annie was discharged from mental health services before Huw was removed, the council is adamant that this is where they will remain. Annie acknowledges that she let her children down badly when she was ill; but she believes they have lost trust in her because of the position social workers have put her in. While Huw was still in council care, she and Peter were told not to tell Grace and Danny that their baby brother was spending long periods of time at the family home. “They made me lie to my children, who of course would wonder why on earth their baby brother was coming home when they couldn’t,” Annie says. “And social services made Peter lie to them, too.” When this point was raised in court, Judge Wood made clear his outrage at “the impossible position” in which the local authority had placed Annie – and particularly Peter, “who is still a child”. Annie was, finally, permitted to explain to Grace and Danny that Huw, whom they had seen just once, would live with her, while the council had decided they would not. Social workers, Annie believes, have never looked positively at the prospect of Grace and Danny coming home – and, in the past few months, the children have started to say they don’t want to.
On Huw’s first birthday, Annie held a party at a soft play centre near her home. “Everyone who’d helped me through the court case came; Grace and Danny, too.” At first, their social worker had refused to let them come, because it was a weekend and there was no contact supervisor to monitor them. Then Annie threatened to go to court and they backed down. “Grace wouldn’t leave my side,” Annie says. “She held me and I could feel her shaking. I said, ‘What’s wrong?’ But I knew what was wrong. And she said, ‘I understand now, Mam. I understand that you had to fight for him first.’” Annie’s voice cracks. “She understood that I couldn’t fight for them to come home at the same time as doing what I had to do to get Huw back. So Grace and Danny have been the sacrifice. That, and nearly all of Huw’s first year.”
Annie has now started a website for parents who find themselves in her situation,Surviving Safeguarding, and helps to train social workers. “I can’t begin to think…” She trails off. “If I’d lost him. For the parents who don’t succeed, and when I go to court, I see them crying in the toilets, sobbing on the steps, because they’ve lost their children. Your life is over and no one gives a damn. You just get dropped. That’s what has to change.”
 Some names and details have been changed.