Tag Archives: Economy

New Delhi: Barely days after a Youth Congress magazine published a meme calling Narendra Modi a "chaiwala" (tea vendor), BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha on Thursday yet again invoked the jibe against the Prime Minister.

Taking potshots at his detractors within his own party, the famous Bollywood actor wondered if others can do whatever they are doing despite not being specialists, why can he not speak on economy.

 

He said he is repeatedly questioned by few people as to what qualification he has to speak on economy as he comes from a film background.

"If 'vakeel babu' (an allusion to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley) can speak on finance, if a TV actress can become the country's HRD minister and if a chaiwala can become... I wouldn't say any further... why can't I speak on economy," Sinha said in snide remarks at book launch here.

Modi has himself said that he used to sell tea along with his father at their small tea stall in Gujarat before he joined politics.

Taking potshots at Modi, Sinha said he had been drawn towards "healthy politics" inspired by Ram Manohar Lohia, and that he had no intentions of becoming a minister.

"I am speaking from my heart though it is not mann ki baat because someone else has a patent for 'Mann ki Baat' (as Modi's monthly radio programme is called)," he said amid laughter.

"Some people say I speak against my own government's policies because I was not made a minister. To be honest I neither have any desire nor any expectations to become a minister. Even those who are ministers today have no standing of their own. They are busy flattering the master to save their skins and seats."

"I was drawn towards a healthy politics inspired by Lohia. I had not come to politics with the motto of 'Na jiyunga na jeene dunga' (I would neither live in peace myself, nor let others live in peace)," Sinha said in a clear parody to Prime Minister Modi's oft repeated "Na khaoonga na khane doonga" (I will neither take bribe nor let others do) remark.

He said that the atmosphere in the country was such that "either you are with me or you are anti-national".

"What is happening in this country? Cow vigilantes are killing people, intellectuals, writers, journalists... and now even judges are being killed. 'Aaj dhan shakti jan shakti par bhari hai' (Today, money power is stronger than people's power). And then if people like me come forward, we are attributed motives, we are questioned."

Sinha said that demonetisation has rendered millions jobless, factories have been shut, small traders, hawkers are out of work and GST is like "neem chadha karela" (bitter gourd is doubly bitter now).

"If I do not speak for the youth, for the poor and downtrodden, for the oppressed, then what am I doing in politics?" he asked.

 

 

 

 

 

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Patna: Dissident BJP leader Yashwant Sinha on Wednesday slammed the government for defending party chief Amit Shah's son Jay Shah over allegations hurled against him and said it had thus lost its high moral ground.

"I don't want to comment on the merit of the case as it is a matter of investigation but I would like to say the manner in which a central minister jumped into the fray... He is a central minister, not a chartered accountant of Jay Shah," Sinha told NDTV.

Sinha also criticized the government for allowing Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to take on the case of Jay Shah.

"These were avoidable and should not have happened. The very special circumstances in which the Additional Solicitor General has been cleared to defend the concerned person also raises some issues and that was also to my mind avoidable. 

"Looking at all these therefore perhaps the high moral ground that we had occupied all these months and years somehow appears to have been lost," said the former Finance Minister.

Jay Shah's company has reportedly recorded a turnover of Rs 80 crore in 2015 after showing just Rs 50,000 the previous year.

Sinha was asked whether the issue had dented the image of the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"I am not going to those details. An episode takes place. Your reaction to that determines whether you are still occupying a high moral ground or you have quit that high moral ground. From the way we have responded the party and the government, it appears the high moral ground has been lost," Sinha said.

He said the matter must be investigated. "We have lots of agencies which can do it."

Asked about the defamation case filed against the website while reported the story, Sinha said: "Media is a very important integral part of democracy and that is why it is regarded as the fourth pillar. To try and supress the voice of media either directly or through any other means including for instance this defamation case of Rs 100 crore was also avoidable."

Sinha created a furore after attacking the government's management of economy. Prime Minister Narendra Modi clarified later that the economy was on sound track. 

 

 

 

 

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New Delhi: After backing BJP veteran Yashwant Sinha's searing critique of the economy and the government's decisions, the party's Shatrughan Sinha today directed a series of tweets at Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"It's high time and right time that the honourable Prime Minister and head of this democracy comes forward and faces the public and the press for question answers, in a real press conference," posted the outspoken Shatrughan Sinha, commenting that PM Modi must do so "especially in Gujarat" where polls will be held later this year.

 

The actor-turned-BJP parliamentarian from Bihar's Patna Sahib referred to Yashwant Sinha's lacerating comments on the Modi government's policies and said: "The observations of Mr Yashwant Sinha on the state of the economy, strongly endorsed by me as well as many other thinking leaders. People from our party and outside, have been rapidly gaining strength and support over the last two days."

Yashwant Sinha, a former finance minister, did not mince words as he wrote in an article for the Indian Express headlined "I need to speak up now" that the economy is a "mess" that will not recover before the next general election in 2019. He ripped into Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and his handling of the Indian economy, which fell to a three-year-low of 5.7 per cent in the last quarter.

 

Shatrughan Sinha yesterday came out in support of the article and underlined it in his tweets today.

 

 

 

Shatrughan Sinha said the subject "shouldn't be allowed to be diluted" by turning it into a matter between the government and Yashwant Sinha or between Yashwant Sinha and Arun Jaitley.

 

The former actor known for his booming voice and flair for drama, has rarely been reserved about his criticism of either the party or the government. Like Yashwant Sinha, Shatrughan Sinha was a minister in the past and is known to embarrass his party often by publicly sharing provocative views about the leadership.

As stung BJP leaders hit out at Yashwant Sinha yesterday, Shatrughan Sinha described him as a "true statesman and a tried and tested man of wisdom, who has proven himself as one of the best and most successful finance ministers of the country."

 

 

 

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New Delhi:  Under attack from within and rivals, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday hit back at Yashwant Sinha calling him a "job applicant at 80" and said "acting in tandem" with Congress leader P. Chidambaram would not change facts.

He also referred to the attacks made against each other by Sinha and Chidambaram -- both former Finance Ministers -- in the past to wonder about the newfound bonhomie between the two.

 

At the launch of a book titled "India @70, Modi @3.5" edited by Bibek Debroy and Ashok Malik, Jaitley said: "Probably a more appropriate title for the book would have been 'India @70, Modi @3.5 and a job applicant @80'", an apparent dig at Sinha who is 84.

Jaitley's remarks came a day after Sinha set off a political storm by writing a stinging critique against the Finance Minister's management of the economy and held him personally responsible for the continuous economic downturn.

He strongly defended the demonetisation and implementation of GST, the two key issues on which Sinha had attacked the government, holding them responsible for pulling the economy down.

"There are always attempts to change the narrative. I don't have the luxury of being a former Finance Minister. Nor do I have the luxury of being a former Finance Minister who has turned a columnist. And therefore, I can conveniently forget about a policy paralysis, I can conveniently forget the 15 per cent NPAs (non-performing assets) of 1998-2002, I can conveniently forget the $4 billion reserves left in 1991. And I can switch over and change the narrative," he said in digs both at Chidmabaram and Sinha.

Recalling a parliamentary debate on Bofors in 1999 shortly after he entered the Rajya Sabha, Jaitley said veteran leader L.K. Advani complimented him for his speech but advised him to focus on issues rather than persons.

"I have tried to follow it. I may have breached this rule once in a while. I have some very distinguished predecessors in the Finance Ministry. One is a former Prime Minister and one is a former President. But I am not referring to them. The others (Sinha and Chidambaram) have decided to act in concert because speaking on persons and bypassing the issues is something easily done."

Jaitley said he had done some research before coming to the event and found that Sinha had said that Chidambaram will have to be born again to match his record in the Finance Ministry, that Chidmabaram was like an incompetent doctor who failed to curb India's alarming deficit and accused him of being the most conceited person. He then went on to accuse that Chidambaram had ordered bugging of Sinha's phones.

"Today, with complete responsibility I want to say that when I raised the Aircel-Maxis issue, he (Chidambaram) ordered my phones to be bugged," Jaitley said.

The Finance Minister then went on to recollect what Chidambaram had said about Sinha.

"I thought Sinha was happy to remain a distant memory for the people of India. However, since he seemed determined to remain relevant in his party I am obliged to recall his record during his four years as Finance Minister. I may point out that 2001, 2002, 2003 were the worst years since liberalisation in terms of growth. And Vajpayee had to force him out. I am glad they did not have Advani to advise them. Acting in tandem won't change facts," Jaitley said, quoting Chidamabaram.

Talking about the economy and the new initiatives, Jaitley said the new normal of Prime Minister Modi was to target the shadow economy.

Earlier, there was no way one could do business or buy property without indulging in black money, he said.

Since the UPA government did not do anything from 2011, the first decision of the government was to set up an SIT on black money, give an opportunity for the people to come out with disclosure of assets, enact a stringent legislation on benami and worked with G20 to get real time information on people stashing money abroad.

Referring to attack on demonetisation, Jaitley said the effort was to subvert the narrative as if the exercise was aimed at confiscation of money.

But demonetisation was intended to make sure that anonymous tender gets identified with the owner, he said, adding those who cannot justify the deposits will have to pay taxes.

Changing the old normal was never on the political agenda of the UPA, he said.

On GST, Jaitley said all decisions were taken by consensus, including the Finance Ministers of the Congress-ruled states who were very supportive.

He said normally people are accused of delaying but in this case he was being accused of pushing things.

Referring to the political scene and ideological battle, he said that the space left vacant by the Congress was being occupied by the BJP, which becomes the pole "that will become the natural protector of the state".

In an apparent reference to Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi going to JNU at the height of a student agitation last year, Jaitey said if Indira Gandhi or Rajiv Gandhi were at the helm they would not have taken such a course of aligning with the Left.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New Delhi: A day after senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha's takedown of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's handling of the economy, his son and union minister Jayant Sinha has defended the government's economic policies, stating it is undertaking structural reforms that are "necessary to create a 'New India' and provide good jobs for our billion-strong workforce."

"The new economy that is being created will be much more transparent, globally cost-competitive, and innovation driven. Importantly, the new economy will also be much more equitable thereby enabling all Indians to lead better lives," Jayant Sinha, who is minister of state for civil aviation, writes on the Edit page of today's Times of India newspaper.

 

His father's harsh critique was published in the Indian Express yesterday. Yashwant Sinha accused Arun Jaitley for making a "mess" of the economy and blamed it partly on what he called a hurried launch of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's shock move to ban high value currency last year. The BJP veteran, who is a former Finance Minister, has pointed to the slowdown in economic growth and warned that the economy is unlikely to recover by the next national election in 2019.

Jayant Sinha makes no direct mention of his father's assessment, but says articles that have been written on the challenges that face the economy "draw sweeping conclusions from a narrow set of facts, and quite simply miss the fundamental structural reforms that are transforming the economy."

Mr Sinha junior argues that "one or two quarters of GDP growth and other macro data are quite inadequate to evaluate the long-term impact of the structural reforms underway."
He has also praised GST and demonetisation as "game-changing efforts to formalise India's economy," listing a series of initiatives by the government that, he says, "balances a better life for all Indians with the requirements of an advanced, sophisticated 21st century economy." The government, he writes, is "creating a robust new economy that will power long-term growth and job creation for 'New India'."
 Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram of the Congress, who had yesterday applauded Yashwant Sinha for "talking truth to the power," has criticised Jayant Sinha's article as reading "like a PIB release...he should know administrative changes are not structural reforms."

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is yet to comment on the controversy, but other top ministers yesterday defended the government's handling of the economy. "India's record is well known across the world. It is one of the fastest growing economies," said Home Minister Rajnath Singh. Railways Minister Piyush Goyal said, "Under the decisive leadership of PM Modi, India has become the world's fastest-growing economy for three years in a row," highlighting GST as an "unprecedented reform."

BJP sources have dismissed Yashwant Sinha's article as motivated by his frustration, and suggested that the 84-year-old leader is seeking to avenge his marginalisation by PM Modi. Mr Sinha and other senior leaders like LK Advani were sidelined in a move seen as punishment for opposing Mr Modi being named their party's presumptive prime minister before the 2014 national election.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New Delhi: Yashwant Sinha's ruthless smackdown of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is motivated by his frustration, which he shares along with another sidelined leader, Arun Shourie, said sources from the BJP today, asking not to be named.

Writing in the Indian Express today, Mr Sinha, the country's former finance minister, indicted Mr Jaitley for making a "mess" of the economy, which, he says, owes its ruin partly to the hurried introduction of the national sales tax, the GST, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's shock ban last year of high-denomination notes. Mr Sinha warns that the rural distress which has farmers caught in debt, will worsen. "The prime minister claims that he has seen poverty from close quarters. His finance minister is working over-time to make sure that all Indians also see it from equally close quarters," says the veteran leader.

Mr Jaitley has not commented on the controversy yet.

But the government defended its handling of the economy. "India's record is well known across the world. It is one of the fastest growing economies," said Home Minister Rajnath Singh. "Under the decisive leadership of PM Modi, India has become the world's fastest-growing economy for three years in a row," said union minister Piyush Goyal, who highlighted the new Goods and Services Tax as among "unprecedented reforms."
Other BJP leaders, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the slump in India reflects a global slowdown and that it's unfair to assess the economy as in crisis only on the performance of the last quarter, when it declined to 5.7 per cent, its lowest in three years.

Mr Sinha's son, Jayant Sinha, is a minister in PM Modi's government. In 2014, after Prime Minister Modi's whopping victory, he was marginalised along with senior leaders including LK Advani, seen as punishment for opposing Mr Modi being named their party's presumptive prime minister.

BJP sources today suggested that it's this involuntary retirement that Mr Sinha is seeking to avenge. They claimed that the GST, which replaces a jumble of central and state tariffs, and demonetisation, will both deliver strong long-term results.

 

 

 

 

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New Delhi:  Senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha has ruffled feathers in the ruling BJP with his strong critique on the state of Indian economy, saying it was headed for a "hard landing". The government rejected the criticism while the Congress hailed his assessment.

In an article in The Indian Express, Sinha, who was Finance Minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government and is now estranged from the party, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi "claims he has seen poverty from close quarters (and) his Finance Minister (Arun Jaitley) is working over-time to make sure that all Indians also see it from equally close quarters".

 

Illustrating the picture of the economy today, Sinha said private investment had shrunk "as never before in two decades" while industrial production had all but collapsed.

"Agriculture is in distress, construction industry, a big employer of the work force, is in the doldrums, the rest of the service sector is also in the slow lane, exports have dwindled, sector after sector of the economy is in distress."

He singled out demonetisation, saying spiking large currency notes "has proved to be an unmitigated economic disaster" which coupled with "a badly conceived and poorly implemented GST" has played havoc with businesses and sunk many of them.

The outspoken Sinha noted that Jaitley, who also holds the department of disinvestment and Department of Corporate Affairs and earlier held the Defence Ministry, was carrying the "heavy burden" of many extra responsibilities and it was "perhaps too much to expect from" him.

Sinha said he was speaking about the mess after realizing that "I shall be failing in my national duty if I did not speak up even now".

"I am also convinced that (it) reflects the sentiments of a large number of people in the BJP and elsewhere who are not speaking up out of fear."

Congress leader and former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram lauded Sinha's critique, saying he was absolutely correct when he wrote that "instilling fear in the minds of the people is name of the new game".

Chidambaram said the Congress had assiduously exposed the "many weaknesses and a terrible mismanagement" of the economy.

"We are happy that Yashwant Sinha has echoed our criticism," said Chidambaram, who added: "It is not often that from this platform the principal opposition party will welcome a statement of a veteran leader of the ruling party."

Chidambaram said Sinha's views were not different from what MPs belonging to the BJP and other parties "have told us since many months privately and in soft whispers".

He said it was a sad commentary on the times that MPs were afraid to reflect what they see and hear around them, especially in their constituencies. "Yet we call ourselves a free country."

Chidambaram said it were not only MPs who have become silent. "We have witnessed numerous examples of news reports and articles being pulled out before publication; of television interviews being taken off air; of scheduled talks at universities being cancelled; of social activists being investigated on trumped up charges; of editors and reporters being unceremoniously sacked; of academics and scholars being threatened; of judges being indirectly punished; and, most tragically, of authentic voices of the people being silenced by brutal killings."

Chidambaram said at least a dozen BJP MPs have "spoken to us" in the Central Hall and in committees about the economy. "Nobody dares to ask questions. An MP from Maharashtra who raised questions was asked to shut up. In this atmosphere of fear, if Sinha speaks up then he is speaking the truth."

The government rejected Sinha's criticism, saying the world acknowledged that India "is one of the fastest growing economies".

"No one should forget it. Our image at the international level is very strong," Home Minister Rajnath Singh told reporters.

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said Prime Minister Modi has given the "cleanest government" and had attacked black money and corruption like no one else has done.

 

 

 

 

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New Delhi: Stronger military ties between India and the United States should not affect relations with neighbours such as Pakistan, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said ahead of a visit to New Delhi.

The Pentagon chief arrived today for a 48-hour trip -- the first to India by any member of President Donald Trump's cabinet.

"This is a historic opportunity for our two democracies at a time of strategic convergence," Mr Mattis told reporters on his flight. He is to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Delhi.

The trip comes weeks after Mr Trump unveiled a new Afghanistan strategy and urged India to increase assistance to the war-torn nation's economy.

The US president also chided Pakistan for offering safe haven to "agents of chaos".

When asked how he would balance the India-Pakistan dynamic, Mr Mattis stressed that the relationship the United States is pursuing with India is "not to the exclusion of other countries".

"Any nation that is living by the traditional rules of non-interference in other states in today's age of anti-terrorism, they will not find this relationship in any way adversarial," he said.

India has long vied with Pakistan for influence in Afghanistan, building dams, roads and a new parliament in the troubled country. Last year it offered some $1 billion in aid.

Mr Trump's new Afghan strategy includes the deployment of more than 3,000 additional US troops.

In 2016, the United States designated India a "Major Defence Partner" with the aim of improving military cooperation, increasing information-sharing and cutting red tape to ease defence deals.
Mr Mattis's predecessor Ash Carter pushed hard for stronger defence ties and the Trump administration has the same aim.

The two sides will be "discussing joint efforts to advance common goals through a broader strategic exchange of views", Mr Mattis said.

"India from our perspective is clearly a pillar of regional stability and security: we share a common vision for a peaceful and prosperous future in the Indo-Pacific region."

Mr Trump has praised India for contributing to regional stability and for buying US military equipment.

India is contemplating buying Lockheed Martin's F-16 Block 70 aircraft in a deal potentially worth $15 billion.

The US firm has offered the most upgraded version of the jet fighter to India, the world's largest weapons importer.

It is competing with Swedish defence giant Saab, whose Gripen E made its maiden flight in June.

A drone deal for the Indian Navy will also likely be up for discussion, a source familiar with the negotiations told AFP.

"Since Chinese assets have started to dominate the Indian Ocean region, the Trump administration is keen on fast-tracking the acquisition of the drones," the source said.

Many commentators have said US-India cooperation could act as a counterweight to an increasingly assertive China, which has been developing its military capabilities.

 

 

 

 

 

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New Delhi:  Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has asked companies to boost investments as businesses bruised by a slowing economy and falling returns defer spending.

Speaking at the Bloomberg India Economic Forum in Mumbai, Mr Jaitley and Amitabh Kant, the chief executive officer at Niti Aayog, the nation's economic think-tank, called for more private spending from local companies and said the banking system must get healthier to support that investment. Mr Jaitley told companies that there's "no need to panic," while R. Shankar Raman, chief financial officer at Larsen & Toubro Ltd., India's biggest engineering and construction company, said the environment is not conducive for adding investments.

India's economy expanded at the slowest pace in three years in the quarter ended June 30 as Prime Minister Narendra Modi's move to ban 86 percent of the nation's cash and the country's biggest tax reform disrupted businesses. Meanwhile loan growth is languishing near the lowest level since 1992 as companies struggling with bad debt and idle capacity await evidence of a pick up in demand before they buy machinery or hire more workers.

"Private sector is going to be hard nosed when it comes to committing investment," Larsen's Shankar Raman said in an interview at the sidelines of the forum on Friday. "We have already committed investment and have not seen returns flow through, so no board in their right mind will like to sanction further investment, unless there is a viable business plan around it."

Factories were running at about 74 percent of capacity in October-December, business sentiment in manufacturing worsened in the April-June period and consumer confidence dipped in June. The Nikkei India Composite PMI Output Index contracted for a second month in August, a report showed earlier this month.

"We have to push for more reforms. We have to set our house in order," Niti Aayog's Amitabh Kant said at the forum. "Government alone cannot create infrastructure. Private sector participation is a must."

The government's revenue may be threatened in the coming months by the new goods and services tax, implemented July 1. The reform -- one of India's biggest since the economy opened to foreigners in 1991 -- was a win for Mr Jaitley and promises to unite the nation's 1.3 billion people into a massive common market.
However, early hiccups include confusion about the method of filing receipts and the multi-layered tax structure, which contrasts with a single rate in most countries. Businessmen are also claiming hefty tax credits, which could drain government finances.

"I am concerned that after GST and cash ban, which were seen as reforms by investors, India is now seen to be slipping fiscally" said Priyanka Kishore, lead Asia analyst at Oxford Economics, Singapore.

Any deterioration in public finances risks the wrath of rating companies such as S&P Global Ratings, which last week downgraded China for the first time since 1999 citing soaring debt. India carries the lowest investment grade rating and a cut to junk status could force some investors to dispose their Indian assets.

"How do you maintain the balancing act between continuing to spend in an economy, continue to maintain your banks and support them, and how do you maintain standard of fiscal prudence?" Mr Jaitley said. "And this is the challenge we are facing."

The Finance Minister also needs funds to inject fresh capital into India's struggling banks. The lenders are sitting on $191 billion of souring debt. Under-provisioned banks are also unwilling to lend more, which means investment by private companies may shrink this year.

Mr Jaitley has said he expects strong banks to take over weaker ones especially in the state-run sector. Earlier this year, the government gave the Reserve Bank of India greater powers to go after defaulters and recover loans through a new bankruptcy code.

"We are looking at both consolidation and strengthening," Mr Jaitley said, without providing a timeline.

 

 

 

 

 

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