Archives  >  2019  >  September  >  16th

It’s All About the Money

1. What’s the story?

As 6 Things has covered earlier (here, here, and here), the Indian economy is not in a good shape. Mass layoffs have been happening, the GDP has stopped growing, and the value of rupee has been steadily decreasing. (Quick recap: The Gross Domestic Product or GDP of a country is the sum of all its economic activities over a fixed period of time.) Now, the Government has taken a number of initiatives to kick-start the economy. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman made a number of such announcements during a widely publicized press conference last Saturday.. A number of such announcements was made by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during a widely publicized press conference last Saturday.
Tell me more.
The housing sector, especially, received quite a boost from the Government last week, when Sitharaman announced a “Rs 10,000 crore special window to extend funding to incomplete housing projects that are in good shape.”

For most experts, this boost has come at a good time since real estate demand is low due to the weakened purchasing power of the average Indian consumer.

The other major announcement – that of major incentives on exports – also received positive reception from the market.

“Sitharaman spoke about a new scheme—Remission of Duties or Taxes on Export Product (RoDTEP)—to incentivise exporters at an estimated cost of Rs 50,000 crore to the exchequer.

A fully automated electronic refund route for input tax credits (ITC) in GST will be launched by month-end for quick refunds, announced Sitharaman.”

Sitharaman also announced the Government’s plan to launch a nationwide mega shopping festival, aiming to kickstart the sluggish consumer goods sector.

“Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also announced that a mega shopping festival, on the likes of the world-famous Dubai Shopping Festival, will be conducted at four places in India in March on themes of gems and jewellery, handicraft/yoga/tourism, textiles and leather.

The finance minister said the measures together with the ones announced on the previous two occasions will help lift the economy and growth rate will improve in the second quarter of this fiscal.”
So, what now?
Even though the steps being taken by the Government have garnered mostly positive reaction, more reforms are needed.

“…the auto sector is in need of urgent help and this should ideally come in the form of GST(goods and service tax) rate cuts on automobile and components. The government needs to unlock money stuck in public sector unit (PSU) entities by giving up stake to raise funds.

The manufacturing sector requires much more than mega shopping festivals. Sitharaman has expressed hopes of growth revival post the disappointing GDP numbers in the June quarter. But, it would be illogical to expect a growth recovery unless sector-related problems are addressed and all solutions help in the infusion of fresh money. It will be important for the government to continue to step up spending on infra-related projects to generate more jobs and get back the momentum back.”

Watch this space. We’ll keep you updated.

2. Where else should I be looking at?

Indian forests, that’s where. India’s conservation efforts (that have resulted in 75% of the world’s tigers and 70% of the world’s one-horned rhinos being housed in India) are aptly lauded all over the world. However, the people who are the vanguards of this uphill battle are the forest guards – a scrappy lot who get paid pittance and risk their lives for the greater good every day. This is their story.

“Just to give you an example of how in a split second, things can get dangerous in the forest. I will give you an example of what happened in Kaziranga. So we were in the jeep and we were filming, the forest guard who was with me and we were looking at a rhino to our right and literally out of the blue, without warning,this rhino, which was not even 20-30 feet away, decided to charge full speed at the car.”

“Forest itself is very complex in India. Because you are talking about 1.3 billion people and 7 percent of biodiversity. So, for them to be together is a very conflicting space, always. And who are the guys who are at the ground level? Who are the guys who are feeling the heat? It is the forest guards. The conditions in which they live…50% of the entire forest staff is vacant. So, you can imagine, one person is doing two people’s jobs.”

3. What more?

India is gearing up for torrential rains once again. More than seven states are set to be affected, and thousands have already been evacuated. First responders remain on high alert, as the civic infrastructure in affected states, such as Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, gird their loins.

“At least seven states are likely to experience heavy rainfall and thundershowers over Sunday and Monday, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted. Among these states, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have been facing a flood-like situation since Saturday, reports said.

More than 16,000 people from Madhya Pradesh’s Mandsaur and Neemuch districts were shifted to safer places on Sunday after heavy rainfall caused water-logging in several areas, while parts of Pratapgarh district in Rajasthan faced a flood-like situation due to a rise in the water-level of the Jakham and Mahi rivers following incessant rains.

Skymet also predicted ‘heavy’ rains and thundershowers at isolated places in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, WestBengal, Assam, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, North Konkan Coast, and Northern Bay Islands.”

4. Anything else?

Back in 1949, a young Malayali communist boarded a train for Pakistan. Surprisingly enough, Biyyathil Moideen Kutty made that country his home – remaining a non-conformist till his dying day. Here is his extraordinary story.

“The summer of 1949. The subcontinent was still convulsing from the effects of a messy Partition — in India, Mahatma Gandhi had been assassinated the previous year and in Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah had died, of tuberculosis, leaving the fledgling country rudderless. A few princely states, the Nizam of Hyderabad in India and the Khanate of Kalat in Balochistan, were refusing to accede to the respective dominions.

Some hundreds of kilometres from the border that now divided the two nations, a young mind was in tumult, too — friendless and homesick, weighed down by the guilt of his father’s expectations, the 19-year-old decided he had to get away from it all.

With no passports needed then, Kutty exchanged the few Indian currency notes he had for Pakistani ones (the same note, with “Government of Pakistan” stamped on “Government of India”) before boarding the train to Karachi.

That’s how Biyyathil Moideen Kutty reached Pakistan, his last name and lilting accent when he spoke Urdu arousing curiosity for the 70 years he remained a Pakistani citizen, during which time he plunged headlong into the country’s dizzying, unstable politics.”

5. Is that all?

Israel is heading towards national elections for the second time this year. And it’s a fight for survival for the incumbent Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Israel holds its second election in five months on 17 September as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu battles for political survival and the question of how religious the country should become emerges as a surprise issue.

Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, suffered one of the biggest defeats of his career after the April elections, when he failed to form a coalition despite his right-wing Likud and its allies winning a majority of seats.

Rather than risk having Israeli president Reuven Rivlin choose someone else to form a government, Netanyahu, who could be indicted on corruption charges in the coming weeks, opted for a second election instead.”

All eyes on Tel Aviv, y’all.

6. Before you leave…

Read about how China is looking to infiltrate Hollywood, as it seeks a foothold in the world’s biggest free market.

“This summer, some industry-watchers objected when the trailer for the forthcoming Top Gun: Maverick—a sequel financed in part by the Chinese firm Tencent—omitted the Japanese and Taiwanese flag from Tom Cruise’s jacket. But over the past 20 years, most news stories about the Hollywood-China relationship—for instance, recent reports about the negative impact of the U.S.-China trade war on Hollywood’s bottom line—have been skewed more toward Hollywood’s active efforts to penetrate the huge Chinese market than to its passive acceptance of China’s increasingly heavy-handed censorship.

That censorship is increasing because, in keeping with President Xi’s decree, every film released in China must now be vetted not only by the Central Propaganda Department but also (depending on its subject matter) by the Ministry of State Security, the State Ethnic Affairs Commission, the National Health and Family Planning Commission, the Ministry of Public Security, the State Bureau of Religious Affairs, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and numerous other bureaucratic entities.”

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