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Bengal Budget
On 07 February 2020, West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankher's budget preceding address under Article 176 of India's constitution at West Bengal Assembly was not allowed live coverage and the media was also kept away. The budget has an outlay of Rs 2,55,677 crore, with a limited deficit of Rs 8 crore. The Mamata Banerjee led Trinamul Congress government announced on 10 February 2020, a host of social schemes, especially for scheduled caste, scheduled tribe and tea garden workers. Ahead of the coming civic polls and the 2021 state assembly elections, the Mamata Banerjee government in its last full budget in the second term, has showcased figure and crafted attractive schemes, that carry a political message. In the 2019 Lok Sabha poll, Trinamul Congress has lost Lok Sabha seats to the BJP in tea garden areas, tribal belts and scheduled caste dominated Parliamentary constituencies. For 2018-19, the revenue receipts for the state comprised 18% grants-in-Aid, 2% Non-Tax revenue, 38% share in Central Taxes, and 42% state's own tax revenue. The state government has announced to give free power up to 75 units in the months to poor households, but in the summer season, 25 units per month is very less for the poor. The state government claims to have generated 9.11 lac employment opportunities, but there has been no investment and no new industry in the state in the last eight years  There is no direction for new investment in the budget, unemployment is increasing in the state, and the youth are moving out of West Bengal in search of jobs. There is no detailed statistic on the quantum of employment generated. The dearness allowance for the state government employees has not been increased. The government has proposed to make separate universities in Jhargram for the Matas (SC's). Birsa Munda University (ST's) and Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad University (Muslims). Each university has been set up for different communities, only for the vote bank. Already the state government has set up some universities, which have no infrastructure, nor teachers. While announcing accounting for the expenditure there are no indications as to where the money will come from. In the 2018-19 fiscal year, the revenue deficit was Rs 10,398 crore. For 2017-18, it was proposed that the revenue deficit will be zero, but in real terms, it became Rs 6171 crore. The slew of welfare schemes is worth around Rs 4000 crores for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. The state's outstanding debit will go up to Rs 4,74,831 crore in 2020-21 from the revised estimate of Rs 431,786 crore in 2019-20, rising by 10%. The state will spend Rs 51,047 crore in loan and interest payments alone. It will make a fresh market borrowing Rs 48,734 crore as loan.

Lists Of Beneficiaries
The Lists of Beneficiaries of several West Bengal Projects, such as the Integrated Child Development Scheme and the National Social Assistance Programme have to be updated regularly to include new names and strike out those who no longer meet the criteria. The surveys are carried out in January and July. The surveys could not be done in Jan 2020, following the state government's decision to stall all surveys in view of protests over the New Citizenship Act. No new allotments can be made until the surveys are completed. Usually the central government and the state government share the expenditure on a 60:40 basis. The lists of beneficiaries under National Old Age Pension Scheme, National Widow Pension Scheme, National Disability Pension Scheme and the National Family Benefit Scheme also needed to be regularly revised.

India's Census 2021
The house listing phase of India's Census 2021 and the National Population Register is to be carried out from 01 April to 30 September 2020. Certain questions in NPR are impractical, like questions related to the birth place of parents. The central government has clarified such questions were asked earlier also, and this time they have just linked with an individual's place of birth. Answer to this question is not mandatory. The mobile app will be used in the census for the first time in its history. An estimated 10.7% of the 161 million populations in Bangladesh are Hindus, and 0.6% Buddhists. Since the emergence of Bangladesh in December 1971, minorities have been persecuted in Bangladesh. The Islamic fundamentalist fringe has almost invariably targeted the minorities. Besides, Bengali speaking Muslims and Urdu speaking Muslims have created a quiet influx into India, which has over four decades led to a demographic change, most particularly in the border districts, primarily in West Bengal and Assam. There has never been any reverse migration from India to Bangladesh. The Muslims have played a prominent role in the street protests on citizenship law. Anti-Muslim steps, such as lynching and "ghar wapsi", or their reconversion to Hinduism added to the raging protests over the citizenship law and National Register of Citizens.

Repression In Chile
Since September 2019, unrest broke out in Chile, over a metro fare rise but quickly, grew into a broader outcry against economic and social inequality, in what has been considered among the most stable countries in Latin America. At least 40 have died in violence related to the protests, and nearly 4000 were injured. More than 400 protesters suffered eye injuries from the bird shots fired by the police. Hundreds of Chileans rallied on 18 January 2020 night to protests what they call police repression, during three months of the worst social unrest, since democracy replaced Chile's military dictatorship in 1990. More than 1000 people wearing black, marched in silence from Plaza Italia, ground zero of all the protests, along Alameda avenue, the main thoroughfare in Chile's capital Santiago. Keeping quiet was the protesters way of denouncing the security forces use of tear gas, water cannon and bird shot, although the latter was barred in November 2019, because it was causing many injuries. The protesters marched because of the human rights violations they have suffered. As part of the New Chile, the protesters vowed to continue the struggle as long as is needed. The protesters on 18 January 2020, got close to the La Moneda presidential palace. They sang and shouted slogans against conservative president Sebastian Pinera.

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Vol. 52, No. 37, Mar 15 - 21, 2020