Archives  >  2019  >  October  >  16th

India, (Still) Going Down

1. What’s the story?

We know this may have gotten repetitive at this point, but India’s economic woes do not seem to be ending. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) downgraded India’s growth projection to 6.1% on Tuesday. It had earlier downgraded its projection from 7.3% to 7%. (Quick recap: The IMF is an organization of 189 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world.)
Tell me more.

The International Monetary Fund report said India’s economy decelerated further in the second quarter because of “sector-specific weaknesses”. It highlighted the crisis in the automobile sector, real estate, and the “lingering uncertainty” about non-banking financial companies as the reasons for the slowdown.”

The IMF has now joined a large number of international institutions, including World Bank and Moody’s to slash India’s growth rate. The former had decreased its forecast to 6% on Sunday, while the latter didn’t commit to anything more than 5.8%.

IMF’s Chief Economist Gita Gopinath stated that the global economy was in a synchronized slowdown.

““Growth continues to be weakened by rising trade barriers and increasing geopolitical tensions. We estimate that the US-China trade tensions will cumulatively reduce the level of global GDP by 0.8% by 2020. Growth is also being weighed down by country-specific factors in several emerging market economies, and structural forces—such as low productivity growth and aging demographics in advanced economies,” she added.”
So, what now?

Even newly minted nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee has warned the world that India’s economy is in a tailspin. “His prescription for the government is to focus on increasing demand rather than on deficits and stability”. He has also insisted that money in the economic system needs to reach the poor in order for the economy to improve.  

Frankly, no easy solution seems to be in sight. The only way seems to be to wait and watch. We’ll keep you updated.

2. Where else should I be keeping an eye on?

Kashmir, that’s where. On Monday, two months after the Indian Government repealed Article 370 and shut down all communication in the Kashmir valley, phones have buzzed back to life. For the average Kashmiri, it apparently “felt like Eid.”

“Shahran Qayoom, working in an entertaining company, spoke to his grandfather in Srinagar who has a BSNL-postpaid network.

“I asked him how he is, he said he’s fine. I asked him if he really was alright. We have talked once before. I asked him if he remembers it too. He asked me if I have enough money for myself. I also missed two weddings which happened in my family recently, so he was sad about that,” shared Qayoom.

Shah Mustafeez Bashir, a student of NIT Srinagar, said, “We had a landline since my brother is a government servant. Postpaid is not so widespread. People don’t prefer postpaid. It was strange…after two months, you get a call from home. Some relatives actually called me and it was strange. It was like a new invention.”

3. What more?

In an apparently strange development, BJP’s poll manifesto for the upcoming Maharashtra state elections has promised to consider awarding the Bharat Ratna to Vinayak Damodar Savarkar – the controversial proponent of Hindutva. There may be several reasons for this.

“This move – Bharat Ratna for Savarkar – would please the Shiv Sainiks while placating the RSS and BJP followers of Savarkar.

Moreover, it’s also a move for the BJP to elevate its ideologues to the status of national icons. The RSS has never hidden its uneasiness in glorifying only certain leaders of India’s freedom struggle. In his recent book The RSS: Roadmaps for The 21st Century, Sunil Ambekar refers to K B Hedgewar’s objection to making the freedom struggle personality-centric (Gandhi-centric) rather than ideology-centric. The Sangh also disliked Gandhi’s approach to the Hindu-Muslim issue. Many in the RSS strongly believe that Mahatma Gandhi’s glorification eclipsed many leaders including Subhash Chandra Bose and Savarkar.

The Sangh, which strongly believes that the history of pre-independence India will never be complete without Savarkar, has been making several attempts to add its leaders to the national list of icons. In his first Vijayadashami address after the BJP stormed to power in 2014, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had indicated that the Sangh wanted to bring its ideology and icons into the mainstream and “correct the misconceptions” about the outfit.”

4. Anything else?

Dahanu, a tribal taluka in Maharashtra, has been classified as an ecologically diverse region for decades. In 1996, the Supreme Court granted Dahanu a special authority – the Dahanu Taluka Environment Protection Authority, or DTEPA. However, things are in danger now.

“Unlike many other authorities, the DTEPA headed by an indomitable Gandhian and Justice CS Dharmadhikari was no paper tiger. The authority not only opened up a new space for engagement and dialogue on environment and development but passed many landmark orders bringing corporates violating rules to book and even rejecting the construction of a large mega port.

However, in January 2019, Justice Dharmadhikari passed away, leaving the authority headless. Subsequently, the environment ministry has now made a case that the DTEPA is no longer needed to protect the eco-fragile zone.

Interestingly, this is the second attempt by the environment ministry to disband the Dahanu Authority. In 2002, the ministry had lost a case in Supreme Court when the latter passed an order directing for the continuation of the DTEPA.

The latest move by the environment ministry is interesting since it comes just ahead of the Maharashtra legislative assembly elections on October 21.”

5. Is that all?

Protests in Hong Kong have been raging all summer, with varying degrees of response from across the world. Now, “here’s how Google employees are fighting over their company’s decision to ban a Hong Kong protest video game app.”

“Google employees have set off a fiery company-wide debate in recent days by posting messages of solidarity with Hong Kong protesters in mailing lists and message boards visible to Google’s roughly 100,000 employees. Many are frustrated with the company’s decision to remove a pro-Hong Kong protester mobile game, The Revolution of Our Times, from the Google Play store and feel the company should have handled the situation differently.

Google is just one of several tech companies that have made controversial decisions related to the protests in Hong Kong. Last week, video game company Blizzard banned a prominent player who voiced support for the Hong Kong protests. (Blizzard reinstated the player a few days after a dozen employees walked out of work over the issue.). Apple also recently pulled a pro-Hong Kong protester map tool from its app store, citing concerns that it could enable attacks on Chinese police.”

6. Before you leave…

Read about the mysterious moon water. “The lunar supply won’t be anything like the stuff on Earth, but NASA wants it anyway.”

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