GDP growth rate rises after falling for 5 quarters

#IndiaUnstoppable : India’s GDP grows at 6.3% in second quarter of 2017-18 (July-September), up from 5.7% in previous quarter (April-June), as Modi government sets in the transformational reforms.

— BJP (@BJP4India) November 30, 2017 “The growth in the ‘agriculture, forestry and fishing’, ‘mining and quarrying’, ‘construction’, ‘financial, insurance, real estate and professional services’ and ‘public administration, defence and other services’ is estimated to be 1.7 per cent, 5.5 per cent, 2.6 per cent, 5.7 per cent and 6 per cent respectively, during this period,” the data said. Wait another 3-4 quarters, says Chidambaram

Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Thursday said he was happy that the economy has registered a growth of 6.3 per cent in the latest quarter but still one cannot say whether this will mark an upward trend in the growth rate.

“I am happy that the July-Sept quarter has registered a growth rate of 6.3 per cent. This is a pause in the declining trend of the last five quarters. “But we cannot say now whether this will mark an upward trend in the growth rate. We should wait for the growth rates over the next 3-4 quarters before we can reach a definite conclusion,” Chidambaram said in his reaction to the latest GDP figures released by the Central Statistics Organisation (CSO).


  (Reproduced tweets do not reflect Lokmarg editorial policy)
(IANS) // ]]>

Year One: It's Black Day vs Anti-Black Money Day

The first anniversary of demonetisation on Wednesday was marked by street protests by the Congress and like-minded opposition parties against the decision which Prime Minister Narendra Modi called “a historic and multi-dimensional success” while Rahul Gandhi said it has ruined the lives of millions of hardworking Indians. The Congress, Trinamool Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Left parties and Aam Aadmi Party held protests in different parts of the country observing it as “Black Day”, which was countered by the BJP by marking it as “Anti-Black Money Day.” Union Ministers held press conferences in different parts of the country to talk about the “success” of the decision. The opposition protest came a day ahead of polling for the Himachal Pradesh assembly and about a month ahead of the Gujarat assembly polls. With opposition parties seeking to join hands against the Modi government on a range of issues, including the Goods and Services Tax, West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamta Banerjee called for a Common Minimum Programme (CMP) on issues of public interest so that parties with diverse political and ideological views could come together. She also claimed that around 75,000 Indian industrialists have left the country and turned NRIs post-demonetisation because of harassment and recession, leading to a Rs 7 lakh crore loss to the exchequer. Modi, in a series of tweets which also included slides and videos, bowed to the people of the country for supporting his government’s measures to eradicate black money. He termed demonetisation a “decisive blow” to terrorism and Maoism.” “125 crore Indians fought a decisive battle and won,” he said.

Modi said that post-demonetisation the stone-pelting incidents in the Kashmir Valley had come down by 75 per cent. The data posted by Modi said that a miniscule percentage of India’s population deposited 33 per cent of the total cash. It also said that cash deposits of Rs 3.68 lakh crore in 23.22 lakh accounts is under the scanner. Calling it a “massive cleansing of the Indian financial system”, the slide said “a maze of shell companies dealing in black money and hawala transactions” were uncovered, and called it a “surgical strike” on shell companies, with 2.24 lakh shell companies being struck off. It said 58,000 bank accounts of 35,000 companies were caught transacting Rs 17,000 crore after demonetisation. The slide also said that it was a “big push” towards formalisation of the economy and there had been an increase of 26.6 per cent in new taxpayers besides a significant increase in digital transactions. The Congress attack on demonetisation and GST rollout was led by party Vice President Rahul Gandhi, who targeted Modi in an article in the Financial Times. Party leader P. Chidambaram asked some probing questions through tweets while the party held a press conference at the AICC headquarters where it sought an apology from Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley over the “mistake” of demonetisation.

Cut and Ryan

Maharashtra Congress secretary Shehzad Poonawalla had a different take on the first anniversary of demonetisation. He linked the CBI revelations on its ongoing probe into the sensational Ryan murder case with the event.
Gandhi called Modi a “democratically elected autocrat and said demonetisation has wiped out 2 per cent of India’s gross domestic product, destroyed the informal labour sector and has wiped out many small and medium businesses. “It has ruined the lives of millions of hardworking Indians,” he said and noted that over 1.5 million people lost their jobs in the first four months of 2017. “Modi has damaged India by converting anger created by joblessness and lack of economic opportunity into communal hatred. He has chosen to hide behind a shallow, hate-filled political narrative. Anger might have brought Modi to power but it will never create jobs or fix India’s institutions,” Gandhi said. Chidambaram said Jaitley had termed demonetisation as ‘ethical’ and then asked: “Was it ethical to heap misery on millions of people, especially 15 crore daily wage earners? Was it ethical to destroy 15 lakh regular jobs during January-April 2017?” As part of efforts to counter the protests by the opposition, Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani addressed a press conference in Lucknow, Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari in Mumbai, Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar in Bengaluru and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Chennai. Sitharaman alleged that all those observing a Black Day were in favour of black money while Irani targeted the Gandhi family, terming it “synonymous with graft” and said demonetisation was a tragedy for the family. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that demonetisation was an effort to see that people do not evade taxes and the burden is not only on the honest citizen. In Delhi, the Aam Aadmi Party held a protest march against demonetisation outside Thyagaraj Stadium while hundreds of Congress workers formed a human chain at Connaught Place. In Maharashtra, all major opposition parties, social organisations, farmer groups, mediapersons, NGOs, civil society activists and individuals organised massive protests across Mumbai and other parts of the state. The various forms of protests included processions, funerals, memorial prayers, and ‘shraadh’ of the spiked Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, mass tonsuring of heads, human chains, besides a flood of messages, songs, cartoons and jokes on social media that castigated demonetisation. Even the ruling ally Shiv Sena organised processions in which thousands of people participated. In Bihar, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress held protests as part of ‘Black Day’ observance with RJD chief Lalu Prasad addressing people in Hajipur. Congress leaders also held a protest in Bengaluru.


(Reproduced tweets do not reflect Lokmarg editorial policy)
(IANS) // ]]>

Chidambaram sparks storm on Kashmir

Reprehensible attempt by Congress to support those calling for Azadi in Kashmir. This is nothing but an insult to our soldiers.

— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 29, 2017 “Thousands of soldiers have sacrificed their lives for Kashmir. They have been making sacrifices for protecting the motherland, to protect the innocent residents of Kashmir. There would not be a state in the country from where brave soldiers have not laid down their lives for Kashmir. And suddenly, those who were in power till yesterday are taking a U-turn today,” Modi said. “They are lending their voice to those demanding `azadi’. I want to ask the residents of Bengaluru, can such people, who play politics on the sacrifices of the brave soldiers, do good for the country… And they are not feeling ashamed in saying this. Congress party will have to give an answer for this remark,” Modi said. “It seemed that after repeated defeats some intellectual people in the party would put the Congress back on the right path. But now it looks like the Congress does not want to learn from its mistakes. People usually learn from their mistakes,” Modi said at the BJP rally outside the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Airport in the city. Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley also hit out at Chidambaram and sought a clarification from Congress. “It’s a serious issue whether statement that has come from a prominent Congress leader is Congress’ official stand or not? Congress should clarify immediately. “The position Congress has taken with regard to ‘Azadi’ or autonomy to be given to Jammu and Kashmir, goes directly contrary to India’s national interest,” said Jaitley.     Chidambaram replied to the criticism on Twitter. “My answer to question on J&K reported today… The BJP should read before criticizing,” Chidambaram tweeted, posting a link to a news report about his remarks on Saturday at an event in Rajkote. “The demand in the Kashmir Valley is to respect in letter and spirit Article 370. And that means that they want greater autonomy. My interactions in Jammu and Kashmir led me to the conclusion that when they ask for azadi (independence), most people – I am not saying all – (an) overwhelming majority want autonomy. Therefore, I think we should seriously examine that question and consider on what areas we can give autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir,” Chidambaram said.

Congress stays out of range

The Congress party played safe, distancing itelf from Chidamabaram’s remarks. The state is an integral part of India and will always remain so, the party said on Sunday. “While individuals may have different personal opinions, Congress believes that the solution for lasting peace and prosperity in Jammu and Kashmir lies solely within the framework of Constitution,” said Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala in a statement. “Opinion of an individual is not necessarily the opinion of the Congress party. In our democracy, individuals are entitled to opinions,” he added. Taking a dig at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for its policy on Jammu and Kashmir, Surjewala said: “Forty-one months of NDA-BJP regime has seen the situation deteriorate rapidly with terrorism on the rise, border ceasefire violations at an all-time high and our security forces valiantly fighting the onslaught of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism on a daily basis.” “A power hungry coalition of PDP-BJP in Jammu and Kashmir has utterly failed to restore normalcy in the state with BJP government at the Centre having no clear-cut policy either on tackling terrorism or on restoration of normalcy in the state,” he said.
(with IANS) // ]]>

GST, note ban killed economy: Chidambaram

Former Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Saturday asserted that demonetization and Goods and Services Tax (GST) have had a “sledgehammer” impact on the small and medum businesses as well as slowing down job growth in the country.

In “Samvad”, an interaction with businessmen in Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupanis’ hometown, he said the twin measures had destroyed the economy completely. Questioning the description of demonetisation as “a bold step”, he said it was actually reckless and foolish. “What’s a bold step? A farmer who commits suicide is also a bold step? Do you welcome it? Committing suicide also requires courage. I call it rash, reckless and an adventurous step. Demonetisation has destroyed lives. “For two to three months, millions of people stood in queues to exchange notes. Nearly, 140 people lost their lives. Carpenter, rickshaw pullers, plumbers, who depend on daily cash earnings, went without business for two months. Demonetisation was a foolish step.” The Congress leader said the note ban had failed to achieve its much-touted objectives like ending black money and curbing terror funding, adding India did not have black money but a tax-evading “shadow economy”. “There is nothing like black money but merely income which is taxed and income that is taxable but escapes the tax net. India’s shadow economy is around 12 per cent. There are many European countries whose shadow economy is more than 12 per cent. Even the US has around eight per cent shadow economy. What is shadow economy? It is income that your tax system is not able to capture,” he said. “The answer to shadow economy is to make your tax system more efficient. If you put cruel tax rates, people will avoid it. People will say why should I pay. If you make the tax system friendly, they will pay. “The answer is not demonetisation. It’s like saying there is a mosquito in my house, so I am going to burn down my whole house,” he added On the GST, Chidambaram said it was a good move but hastily implemented, while the requirement to file three returns online every month had forced small and medium businesses to shut down. Attacking the government over lack of employment generation, he said: “There are no jobs today. Jobs will be created only if small and medium businesses grow. To help them grow, small businesses should not be required to register. Medium businesses must be given the right to self-certification.” Ridiculing the government’s claims that the economy was on a strong wicket, he asked why it had announced the Rs 5 lakh crore Bharatmala project and bank recapitalisation all of a sudden. “In your heart, you know things are not good. In the last six quarters, the growth rate has gone down from 9.1 per cent to 5.7 per cent, a drop of 3.4 per cent. “India doesn’t deserve growth rate below 5.7 per cent and it is possible to take it up by taking right steps and not taking wrong steps. But for that to happen, the government must acknowledge that they committed a mistake through demonetisation and GST. The government must hire someone from outside to correct the mistakes. Those in government can’t do it as they are the ones who have committed the mistakes.” On agricultural distress in Gujarat, he claimed that 1,326 farmers committed suicide in the state over the last four years. Taking a dig on the Modi government’s talk about “vikas”, he said, “People talk about growth. But what is the use of rozgar-mukta vikas (jobless development).” Terming the Modi government’s priorities misplaced, Chidambaram said: “They will invest Rs 1 lakh crore on bullet train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad. How many people will travel in it. Around 300 or 400? Can’t we give Rs 1 crore to each school so that new buildings are built, toilets are built, teachers are hired?” “Our priority is education, health, employment. Instead, they could have focused on making the existing rail network better, cleaner and efficient,” he argued. I (IANS) // ]]>