The Lurking Threat of Inflation

Earnings Review

Govt reaches out to Africans

India continued its damage control exercise in the wake of a string of assaults on African nationals, with Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar assuring that safety and security of the community is an “article of faith“ for the government, even as a cab driver was beaten up allegedly by a group of Africans, in an apparent backlash.
Jaishankar met a group of African students who raised their concerns over host of issues including better security in the wake of the killing of Congolese national Masonda Ketada Oliver and cases of assaults against the community. “Foreign Secretary to students: Ensuring safety and security of foreign students is an article of faith for us,“ External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.
The issues raised by the African students, which were part of a world students' body, included visa issues, problems in getting accommodation and the need for sensitising the police while dealing with them. On his part, Jaishankar assured them that India shares their concerns and will take steps to address the problems being faced by them.
Official sources said the attacks over the last few days were casting a shadow on visits of Vice President Hamid Ansari to Morocco and Tunisia and by Prime Minister Narendra Modi later in the year to Mozambique and South Africa.
Separately, Joint Secretary (West Africa) in the MEA Birender Yadav received the family of Masonda Ketada Oliver at the airport and gave the assurance that government would ensure a speedy trial in the case and prosecution of all those responsible for the crime. The MEA told the family that it would bear all expenses related to dispatch of mortal remains of Oliver.
He said that the family members thanked the Indian government for its assistance. Later, the family accompanied by Congo Ambassador met Yadav at his office.
Meanwhile, in an apparent backlash, a cab driver was beaten up allegedly by a group of Africans in the wee hours in south Delhi's Rajpur Khurd, the locality in which African nationals were attacked by groups of locals in four separate incidents last week.
The incident took place around 4 am when the cab driver went to pick up passengers in Mehrauli. Police had on Sunday arrested five people for their alleged involvement in attacking people of African origin.

India: A Lower Middle Income Country

For decades, `developed' and `developing' have served as agreeable economic nomenclatures to classify countries based on their prosperity and standards of living. That's about to change, with the World Bank switching to more precise, though unvarnished, descriptions of economies.
And India -which till now found a place under the common umbrella with other `developing' countries -will now be called `lower middle income country South Asia'.
The more specific definitions are aimed at categorising economies which though `developing' in character, differ dramatically from one another. For instance, India, Mexico, and Malawi may be hardly comparable even if a few economic and social parameters overlap.
With economies becoming less and less homogeneous, the multilateral agency will group countries based on geographical coverage and income levels to capture the changing world.
In its annual edition of world development indicators (which was released a fortnight ago), the World Bank has no longer distinguished countries as developing and developed. Till now, developing stood for low-and middle-income countries while high-income countries were called `developed'. Few, except developmental economists, bothered beyond it.
But rising global prosperity coupled with growing inequality will now call for a sharper, less benign -and certainly less politically correct -nomenclatures. A fast changing world has made the earlier terms less relevant and not reflective of the heterogeneous sample of countries.
For instance, Mexico, China and Brazil are `upper middle income'; India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh are `lower middle income' (a categorisation that could irk not only New Delhi but most Indians); while `Malawi' is, understandably, a notch lower at `low income'. So far, all were `developing countries'.
The Bank's logic: Malawi with per capita gross national income (GNI) of $250 can't be in the same group as Mexico with per capita GNI of $9,860.
On measures like fertility and infant mortality rates -often considered proxies for a country's overall well-being -the stark difference that once existed between developed and developing regions has narrowed.
In its publications and databases, the World Bank has already started phasing out the term `developing world'; instead, it's focusing on the `sustainable development goals' for the entire world.
According to the Bank data, India languishes on world indicators like labour force participation rate, electricity generation and access to improved sanitation facilities. However, there is an improvement in certain aspects, such as under-five mortality rate and maternal deaths.
Time required to start a business in India was 29 days in June 2015 against the global average of 20 days. In 2015, only 40% of Indians had access to improved sanitation facilities, against the world average of 68%.
The World Bank decision (to change the way countries are classified) may prompt the United Nations to follow suit.
The international body has no formal definition of developing countries, but still uses the term for monitoring purposes and considers as many as 159 countries as developing. Under the UN's current classification, all of Europe and Northern America along with Japan, Australia and New Zealand are classified as developed regions, and all other regions are developing. It also maintains a list of `Least developed nations' which are based per capital GNI, human capital, and economic vulnerability.
Chances are as long as the UN continues to use the good old tags of `developing developed countries', economists, politicians as well as the media may stick to them.

Somewhere in Lucknow....

An illuminated Lal Pul over the river Gomti is a wonderful sight.

India & Singapore

India is looking to boost its Act East policy even as southeast Asia struggles to cope with festering maritime disputes in the region.While defence minister Manohar Parrikar will look to expound on how India views the regional security situation at the Shangri La Dialogue later this week, PM Modi is hoping to host his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong in September.
Top government sources in New Delhi said India was in touch with Singapore to finalise dates for Lee's visit. The two countries had signed a strategic partnership agreement last year when Modi visited Singapore. The Modi regime is looking to encourage more investment from Singapore for development of urban centres in India.While Singapore remains the government's most important partner for sustainable smart city development and other urban solutions, India is also looking to enhance its defence engagement with Singapore.
As a part of their revised defence cooperation agreement, the two countries are now looking to jointly develop and produce defence technologies.While Singapore is not party to the maritime disputes in South China Sea, it shares concerns with India over the deteriorating security situation in the region. Parrikar will have a bilateral meeting with his Singapore counterpart Ng Eng Hen later this week. He is also scheduled to travel from Singapore to Vietnam, which is directly impacted by China's outlandish cow's tongue claims in South China Sea waters.


Sunrisers Take IPL Crown

In the end, even a Chris Gayle blitzkrieg and another Virat Kohli fifty were not enough for the Royal Challengers Bangalore as the Sunrisers Hyderabad captain David Warner blasted his way to a 38-ball-69 and an unheralded Ben Cutting's incredible hitting won the Hyderabad side their first title.
Batting first, Hyderabad made 208 for seven, which was the highest ever score by a team batting first in an IPL final. Bangalore could manage only 200 in reply, which meant they had lost by eight runs.
Hosts Bangalore started aggressively and looked as if they would finish the game early, as Gayle was going great guns. He hit 76 from 38 balls with the help of eight sixes and four fours. His partner Kohli just added to his haul with a well compiled 54 from 35 balls. They shared a 114 run-partnership in just 66 balls and it seemed that the game was over by then. But Gayle's wicket lead to Kohli's which led to AB de Villiers' for just 5. From there on it was going to be a challenge for RCB, who were playing their third final ­ after 2009 and 2011.
Earlier little-known Cutting smashed 39 off 15 balls with three boundaries and four sixes to take the Sunrisers past 200-run mark. The last three overs produced 52 runs while Shane Watson (061 in 4 overs) went for 24 in his final over out of which Cutting scored 23.


IPL 9 Finals this evening

Indus era 8,000 years old

Scientists from IIT-Kharagpur and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) have uncovered evidence that the Indus Valley Civilisation is at least 8,000 years old, and not 5,500 years old, taking root well before the Egyptian (7000BC to 3000BC) and Mesopotamian (6500BC to 3100BC) civilisations. What's more, the researchers have found evidence of a pre-Harappan civilisation that existed for at least 1,000 years before this.
The discovery, published in the prestigious `Nature' journal on May 25, may force a global rethink on the timelines of the so-called `cradles of civilisation'. The scientists believe they also know why the civilisation ended about 3,000 years ago -climate change.
“We have recovered perhaps the oldest pottery from the civilisation. We used a technique called `optically stimulated luminescence' to date pottery shards of the Early Mature Harappan time to nearly 6,000 years ago and the cultural levels of pre-Harappan Hakra phase as far back as 8,000 years,“ said Anindya Sarkar, head of the department of geology and geophysics at IIT-Kgp.
The team had actually set out to prove that the civilisation proliferated to other Indian sites like Bhirrana and Rakhigarrhi in Haryana, apart from the known locations of Harappa and Mohenjo Daro in Pakistan and Lothal, Dholavira and Kalibangan in India. They took their dig to an unexplored site, Bhirrana -and ended up unearthing something much bigger. The excavation also yielded large quantities of animal remains like bones, teeth, horn cores of cow, goat, deer and antelope, which were put through Carbon 14 analysis to decipher antiquity and the climatic conditions in which the civilisation flourished, said Arati Deshpande Mukherjee of Deccan College, which helped analyse the finds along with Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad.
The researchers believe they know why the civilisation vanished. Their study revealed that monsoon became progressively weaker after 7,000 BC but, surprisingly, the civilisation did not disappear. The Indus Valley people were very resolute and flexible and continued to evolve even in the face of declining monsoon.
The people shifted their crop patterns from large grained cereals like wheat and barley during the early part of intensified monsoon to drought-resistant species of small millets and rice in the latter part. As the yield diminished, the organised large storage system of the Mature Harappan period gave way to smaller, more individual household-based crop processing and storage systems that acted as a catalyst for the de-urbanisation of the Harappan civilisation rather than an abrupt collapse, they say.

Somewhere in London....

Ek Nayi Subah

The country faces a choice between vikaswad (development) and virodhwad (obstructionism) and the people are well placed to make the right choice, PM Narendra Modi said at a function to mark two years of the NDA government, at India Gate on Saturday .
“I am here to give you a lekha-jhokha (accounting) of our two years in office. There is the agenda of development and there is the agenda of obstructionism...Log doodh ka doodh aur paani ka paani kar sakte hain,“ PM Modi said, reflecting the regime's new-found confidence in the wake of BJP's victory in Assam and indications that a normal monsoon could accelerate economic recovery .. Asserting that India has begun to change, PM Modi said, “What has been done must be seen in comparison with previous governments. We cannot forget what has happened or we will not make the right evaluation. The Supreme Court had cancelled coal mines, there was no coal in powerhouses. Two years ago, every paper or channel was discussing corruption.“ Though he did not mention Congress, his allusion to the main opposition was plain enough. “A total of Rs.36,000 crore of leakages has stopped and these savings will be effected every year. Ek nayi subah hai,“ the PM said, referring to subsidies being routed through Aadhaar-linked direct benefit transfers. Making sure to stress the pro-poor measures the government has taken, Modi said, “I have declared war against corruption and taken step after step for the poor.“
Pointing to widespread leakages, he added: “Can you imagine how this counrty was working...a girl not born became a widow and then a pension was also paid.“ Modi said he had worked relentlessly to turn around the situation by fighting corruption through measures like Aadhaar-linked subsidies and said criticism of his government was coming from those who were losing out with leakages being plugged. “I am before you to assure that we will fulfill your trust by doing our best. No decision has been taken with bad intent (badniyati). National interest and Team India is our idea. But those who benefited in the past will be discomfited. I will ensure that the money of the poor will not go anywhere,“ he said.


Pakistan, China welcome to join Chabahar: Iran

The trilateral agreement between India, Iran and Afghanistan on the strategic Chabahar port is “not finished” and Pakistan and China are welcome to join it, a media report quoted the Iranian envoy in Islamabad as saying.
The Chabahar port agreement between Iran, India and Afghanistan is “not finished” and “not limited to these three countries”, Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan Mehdi Honerdoost said.
The offer to cooperate had first been extended to Pakistan and then China, implying neither had expressed interest, he said while speaking on Pakistan-Iran relations at the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad (ISSI), Dawn newspaper reported.
The envoy said that both are sister ports, and Chabahar port authorities would extend cooperation to Gwadar.
“The deal is not finished. We are waiting for new members. Pakistan, our brotherly neighbours and China, a great partner of the Iranians and a good friend of Pakistan, are both welcome. India was a good friend during the sanctions, the only country to import oil from us during sanctions,” Honerdoost said.
The deal is still on the table for both Pakistan and China, assuring that “Chabahar is not a rival to Gwadar”, Ahmed Saffee, a research fellow at the ISSI, quoted the Iranian envoy as saying.
On Monday, a “milestone” pact on the strategic Chabahar port in southern Iran which will give India access to Afghanistan and Europe bypassing Pakistan was signed by India and Iran.
Chabahar port is easily accessed from India’s western coast, bypassing Pakistan

BrahMos test-fired in Pokhran

An advanced version of BrahMos land-attack supersonic cruise missile system was successfully test-fired at the Pokhran field firing range by the Indian Air Force (IAF). The IAF successfully conducted test firing of the supersonic surface-to-surface cruise missile against a designated target situated at Ajasar, approximately 30 to 32 km away from Pokhran test range at 12 pm. The missile was test launched by a Mobile Autonomous Launcher (MAL) deployed in full configuration in Chandan Range Zero Point.
On the occasion, senior officials of Army , Air Force, DRDO and BrahMos Air Space were present. This formidable missile system has empowered all three wings of the armed forces with impeccable anti-ship and land attack capability.
Meanwhile, BrahMos's air-launched version is getting ready to be test-flown from the Su-30MKI fighter aircraft of the IAF in the coming months.
The air-launched version of the world-class weapon system, BrahMos-A, is lighter than its other variants and will weigh 2.5 tonnes, though it would be equally potent in firepower and devastating capability as its range and maximum speed of 290 km and 2.8 Mach respectively will remain unchanged.
The Integration of BrahMos-A with the Su-30MKI will render the missile a multiplatform weapon capability.

Abki Baar 2.0


Monsoon forecast

Modi Sarkar ignores Nehru's death anniversary

A Nilgai in Delhi

A “hyperactive and terrified” nilgai that was spotted running frenzied near the Parliament House in the national capital was rescued in a four-hour-long operation on Thursday.
The Asiatic antelope, identified as an adult female, was trapped using rescue nets and was found to be in good health after undergoing checkups in a special animal ambulance of the wildlife conservation organisation Wildlife SOS.
“It seems that this nilgai might have come from the central Ridge area of Delhi, located between Sadar Bazaar and Dhaula Kuan,” Suvidha Bhatnagar, Wildlife SOS spokesperson, said.
The Ridge, spread over 864 hectares, is home to many Nilgais (Blue Bull). “We avoided using tranquilisers, because in many cases it goes wrong with the hoofed animals. Sometimes they don’t recover properly after being tranquilised,” said a rescuer.
“It would be difficult to spot its herd. We’ll release it at the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary,” said Bhatnagar.
The animal was first spotted at 9.30 am near the fountain at Vijay Chowk, where it collided with a police control room vehicle and came close to hitting another car.
A team of 10 rescuers from Wildlife SOS, members from Wildlife Trust of India, Delhi Forest Department and Delhi Police caught the Nilgai.
“It was very scared and that’s why it ran around,” VB Dasan, wildlife inspector from the Delhi Forest Department, said.
Dasan said the population of Nilgais had grown in the area. The nilgais live in fringe forests but due to wide deforestation for farming across many states, especially Uttar Pradesh, they are coming into increasing conflict with humans.

On Modi Sarkar's 2nd birthday....

Jet Airways posts first Annual Profit in 8 years

Jet Airways posted its first annual net profit after eight years and its fourth straight quarterly net profit helped by lower fuel expenses and its own cost control measures. India's second-biggest airline by market share posted a record consolidated net profit of  Rs.1,211.7 crore for the financial year ended March 31, 2016, compared to a net loss of Rs.2,097.4 crore in FY15. Before this, Jet had posted a net profit of Rs.27.9 crore in the year 2006-07, according to figures on the BSE.
Jet's chairman Naresh Goyal said Jet “has been revitalised as a business in the last two years,“ while James Hogan, chief of its strategic partner Etihad Airways said he and his team were “very satisfied with the strong operational and financial performance“ of the airline.
A fall in prices of fuel -the single biggest component in an airline's operating expenses -have turned around fortunes of most Indian carriers. Prices of aviation turbine fuel (ATF) fell 22% in the twelve months till the end of FY16.
Jet has also financially benefitted from its 24% stake sale to Etihad which apart from giving it a much needed cash infusion also brought about synergies in terms of joint fuel uplift, marketing and sales. While some have said the partnership clipped Jet's international ambitions it gave it a flush of codeshare traffic.
Jet's operational parameters during the quarter improved, but it continued to face a pressure on yields. The airline's average aircraft utilisation during the quarter (number of hours a plane is flown during the day) increased 7% to 12.8 hours. Its cost per available seat kilometre (CASK) -a measure of what an airline spends per seat per kilometre flown -fell 16% while CASK excluding fuel fell 10.3%.However, revenue per available seat kilometre also declined by 6.7%.

Somewhere in Himachal Pradesh...

India's 1st nuke liability policy

India's first Nuclear Operator's Liability Policy has been issued to Nuclear Power Corporation of India, underwritten by a consortium of insurance companies through the India Nuclear Insurance Pool. The policy was the missing component from the set of requirements for getting private investment in nuclear power.The Rs.1,500 crore policy is managed by the General Insurance Corporation which has also committed funds to the pool.


PSU Banks' stress test

Sensex snapshot

Aadhaar for all by 2017

Almost everyone will have an Aadhaar number by March 2017, says UIDAI Chief Ajay Bhushan Pandey
Newborns may soon start getting Aadhaar as part of the Narendra Modi government's efforts to provide the unique identification number to all residents by March 2017.
Plans are afoot to click infants in the hospital cradle itself and link their pictures to the details of their parents for generating Aadhaar numbers, UIDAI director general Ajay Bhushan Pandey said.
This follows PM Modi's directive to UIDAI, after the authority crossed the 100 crore mark in April, to expedite Aadhaar enrolments and cover the remaining 28 crore residents.
Pandey said the authority has gone into “campaign mode“ with an aim to give “almost every resident“ an Aadhaar number by March next year.
The focus is on enrolling those aged 0-5 years, he said, since only a quarter of the residents in this group have Aadhaar cards, compared to 96% among adults “We are now closely working with the RGI and various birth registration agencies, saying that at time of birth in the hospital itself, we can give Aadhaar by integrating it with the birth registration system,“ Pandey said. “Haryana has done it.We are approaching other states to do that,“ he said.
Under the Haryana model, the health department in the state functions as a registrar for Aadhaar enrolment, with the department personnel becoming certified Aadhaar operators for enrolling newborn babies at the birthplace in hospitals.
UIDAI also plans to certify staff in private nursing homes and accredited social health activists or Asha workers for enrolling the infants born elsewhere or at home.
States may plan to deliver services like immunisation, health benefits and education to the infants before they turn five on the basis of the Aadhaar number. Once they turn five, UIDAI will capture biometrics like fingerprint and iris scan.
Also, nearly 10 crore people in populous states such as UP and Bihar are yet to be enrolled by UIDAI. Overall, state and non-state UIDAI registrars are now procuring 15,000 additional enrolment kits, shifting existing kits in saturated states to Bihar and UP and 16,045 stationary enrolment centres across the country , including in UP and Bihar, are being made mobile to adopt a camp mode.
Pandey said regarding the 5-15 years age group, where 44% are to be provided Aadhaar numbers, UIDAI is advising states to have Aadhaar enrolment camp at least twice a year in every school and anganwadi.
UIDAI is not ignoring the 4% adults who do not have an Aadhaar yet either. “For adults, we have started a very innovative scheme ­ `Challenge'. So if you do not have Aadhaar, let us know on our website and we will get you Aadhaar. This pilot is open in Chandigarh, Puducherry and Goa...we will bring it to more states,“ Pandey said.
Pandey also said that UIDAI could take over more states from RGI. “The new Aadhaar Act is applicable to entire India. So therefore technically , Aadhaar will have to be done everywhere and the systems for permanent and regular enrollment facilities will have to be developed everywhere. So once RGI has come up to a certain level in states, these states will have to be taken over by UIDAI. Some discussions are going on with RGI and they are also quite favourable to this idea,“ he said.

Modi Sarkar @ 2: Ad Blitz


Cabinet nod for six new IITs

The Union Cabinet has approved setting up of six new IITs at Tirupati, Palakkad, Dharwar, Bhilai, Goa and Jammu and upgradation of Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad, into an IIT. The Cabinet also gave its ex post facto approval to amend The Institutes of Technology Act, 1961 for incorporation of new IITs at Tirupati (AP), Palakkad (Kerala), Dharwar (Karnataka), Bhilai (Chhattisgarh), Goa, Jammu (Jammu and Kashmir) and conversion of Indian School of Mines (ISM), Dhanbad to an IIT under the law.
“The approval will bring six new Indian Institutes of Technology within the ambit of The Institutes of Technology Act, 1961 and declaring them as the institutions of national importance,“ the government said. The amendment will also help convert ISM, Dhanbad into an IIT by bringing it into the ambit of the Institutes of Technology Act, 1961.The Cabinet also gave ex post facto approval to set up NIT, Andhra Pradesh which has been registered as a Society under the Andhra Pradesh Societies Registration Act, 2001.

Income Declaration Scheme

Centre rejects CJI's claim

The Centre has virtually rejected Chief Justice of India T S Thakur's claim that 40,000 more judges were needed to obliterate over three crore pending cases by saying that his estimates were not backed by any scientific research or data.
Referring to 1987 Law Commission report suggesting increase in judges' strength, the CJI had on May 8 said the judiciary needed an additional 40,000 Judges to erase the mounting pendency . Law minister V Sadananda Gowda, however, said the Commission's report was based just on the opinion of experts.
At present, India has 10.5 judges per million , one of the lowest in the world. The Law Commission had in 1987 recommended that there should be 40 judges per million population. In 2014, the Commission suggested it should be 50 judges per million. At present, the total sanctioned strength of judges is 21,598, including 20,502 trial court judges, 1,065 HC judges and 31SC judges.
Refuting the allegation that the Centre was delaying the appointment process, the minister said names of four persons for appointment as judges of the SC were cleared within six days. He said the Centre was processing names of 170 judges for appointment in HCs and would soon be cleared.

Somewhere in Mumbai....

Over 500 fishermen organised a protest rally against the Chhatrapati Shivaji mid-sea memorial.

Modi Sarkar: 2 Years on....

Based on the Times Of India - IPSOS survey.....

Two years into its term, the Narendra Modi government has been rated by 62% of metropolitan Indians as having done a good or very good job in a survey done exclusively for TOI. That's a touch lower than the 67% who voiced the same opinion a year ago. Meanwhile, the proportion of those saying it has done a poor or very poor job has risen from 9% to 16%.
Modi himself was perceived by nearly half the respondents to the survey (47%) as a strong leader with intent who was being handicapped in delivering on that intent by those around him, a perception that could explain the slightly lower ratings. This also fits in with the finding that just over half (51%) felt that the strength of Brand Modi had eroded since 2014, though about one in five felt it had actually become stronger.
As was the case a year ago, the Swachh Bharat programme remains the most popular of the various initiatives launched by this government, with 42% picking it as the best. Make In India came in a distant second at 13%.
The failure to create enough jobs was seen as the government's biggest failing with 43% choosing this. Interestingly , the next biggest failing was seen as an overly confrontationist attitude towards the opposition.
Responses to the government's performance on two related areas ­ black money and corruption ­ were interestingly different. The government was perceived by just over a quarter of the respondents as having reduced corruption. About 40% said it had made no difference and 23% felt corruption had in fact worsened. On black money , however, there is a less sceptical view that came across. While 40% said the government had not kept its promise on black money , a little over a third felt a good beginning had been made and 15% suggested that the promise had been fully kept.
More than two-thirds of those polled approved of the government's foreign policy initiatives and over three-fourths felt the Pakistan policy was either courageous or realistic. Barely one in five expressed the opinion that it was blinkered by ideology . The China policy had similar approval ratings.
Less than half of the respondents were willing to give the government any or all of the credit for inflation coming down. About 24% said government efforts had kept prices in check and another 22% said both international factors and government efforts had played a part. About 35% said it was entirely due to international factors and one in five insisted that inflation hadn't in fact come down at all.
The expectations from the government in its third year not surprisingly mirror these perceptions with job creation emerging as the top priority , fol owed by tackling farmers' woes, curbing inflation and boosting the economy .
The survey was conducted by IPSOS, a global market research company in India's eight biggest cities ­ Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune and Ahmedabad. The 1,348 people polled were aged 18 to 45 and from socioeconomic categories (SEC) A and B.
There were as many men as women in the sample.