Archives  >  2019  >  August  >  2nd

India Shining (Not)

1. What’s the story?

India’s economy seems to be in trouble. In June, eight core sectors slowed to a growth of 0.2 per cent, leading credit rating agency CRISIL has lowered its gross domestic product (GDP) forecast for India to 6.9 per cent due to weak monsoons, and Indian banks may be in for a major disaster. (Quick recap: GDP of a country is the sum of all its economic activities over a fixed period of time.)
Tell me more.
In spite of the Indian Government’s pledge to make the nation a USD 5-trillion economy by 2024, economic indicators have been painting a grim picture. Monsoons have been less than average this year, leading to an expected shortage of agricultural products.

Fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) producers like Hindustan Unilever Limited have projected a steep decline in their profits. (Quick recap: FMCGs are products that are sold quickly and at a relatively lower price point.) The automobile industry is in a bad shape as well. Currently, more than five lakh passenger vehicles are languishing unsold in showrooms across the country. Maruti, India’s foremost automobile manufacturer, has laid off thousands of employees, and its share prices have plummeted over the last year. A slowdown in agriculture and various industrial sectors has also meant a dip in the average man’s purchasing power. With the collapse of large corporations like Jet Airways and the inability of large PSUs like BSNL to pay their employees salaries, the market has seen an alarming increase in bad debt. (Quick recap: A bad debt is the name given to a debt that cannot be recovered.)

With domestic conditions already bleak, a hostile global environment, tariff wars and rising protectionism could soon compound India’s troubles. 

Exports have declined by almost 10 per cent in the span of a year. Sluggish global demand and the US-China trade war are adding fuel to an already raging fire.

With the economy losing steam, growth slowing across all major industries, a severe income crunch, a pile-up of skilled workforce and business likely being driven away, there are unmistakable signs that India could soon be looking at an entrenched slowdown. ”
So, what next?
Opposition parties have already raised the alarm in the Parliament. On Thursday, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi claimed that the Indian economy has been “derailed”. He claimed that the train of recession was coming for India at “full throttle”.

According to experts, agricultural reforms and easy credit might be two major ways of bringing this economy back on track. All eyes are now on the Government’s next steps.

2. Where else should I be looking at?

The city of Vadodara, that’s where. Torrential rains have made the nearby Vishwamitri river flood the city, leading to extensive damage to properties and livelihoods. Astonishingly enough, crocodiles have begun surfacing in residential areas of the city. The Forest Department has rescued three crocodiles to date. Apparently, “the instances of spotting crocodiles will increase once the water starts receding!”

3. What more?

Last week, Indian Government announced that the nation’s tiger population has increased 33% since 2014. However, things may not be as rosy as all that. A review of the official data also throws up a startling picture – a bizarre number of “unnatural” tiger deaths.

“The human-tiger conflict is another major issue facing the big cat. When villagers in Pilibhit killed a tiger last week, its video was shared widely, serving as a reminder for what many believe is a problem that could only aggravate in the forthcoming years. 

Experts say well-known protected areas like the Jim Corbett National Park and Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve have also witnessed high number of instances of human-animal conflict, predominantly between tigers and humans.”

4. Anything else?

Pakistan is not a secular country. However, small pockets still retain charming glimpses of pre-Partition culture based on religions other than Islam. Here is a fascinating account of a pilgrimage in search of Goddess Durga in Balochistan.

“I was accompanying a family of yatris on a pilgrimage to the temple, entering the heavily patrolled and policed borders of the province with them. It was also the last night of Navratri, the festival celebrating the victory in battle of the goddess Durga over a demon buffalo to restore dharma, the order of the cosmos. Sati’s suffering and sacrifice and the joy of her victory were remembered like Moharram, like mohabbat; love in the heart, eternal and ever-flowing like the suffering that was life on earth.

The local legend surrounding Nani Pir was that the great mother saint taught a lesson to an evil king, Hinglaj, notorious for raping the women of his own kingdom. Durga is said to have roamed the gardens of the king’s palace in the roop of a beautiful woman until the king, in pursuit, followed her into the wilderness, where she transformed into a terrifying deity. The king, realising his folly, begged forgiveness and promised to serve the Mata. Durga granted him pardon and turned into a stone murti, revered to this day by people near and far looking to the great mother for justice.”

5. Is that all?

In Saudi Arabia, last week saw another small step towards gender equality. The notoriously conservative country has finally agreed to let women travel without their male guardian’s approval.

“Saudi women over the age of 21 will be able to apply for a passport and travel outside the country, without approval, Okaz newspaper reported on Thursday. The change would put them on an equal footing with men. They would also reportedly be able to register births and deaths, a right previously restricted to men.”

6. Before you leave …

Take a look at how China may just resort to using its military might to stop the long-running Hong Kong protests. (Six Things previously covered these protests here, here, and here.)

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