Unstable coalition govt at the centre may hamper India’s growth, warns Arun Jaitley

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday said India needs a strong and decisive leadership at the Centre to continue on its high growth path and take swift decisions. A weak leadership could not have handled the IL&FS issue the way the present government did, he said.

“A crisis in the making was handled with swiftness,” Jaitley said, addressing the 98th annual session of Assocham. He cautioned that India doesn ot need an ‘unstable coalition’ at the Centre with individuals, who lack understanding of policies, at the helm. General elections are due in April-May next year.

“India needs a government and leadership which have absolute clarity about the direction so that this unique position which IMF refers to as a sweet spot in the world we continue to occupy for next two decades. If you are able to do that, we can get rid of the curse of poverty and in our lifetime probably see India as a developed country,” Jaitley said. India’s economy grew by 6.7% in FY18 and it expanded by 8.2% in the April-June quarter of FY19.

Pointing to headwinds to economic growth, Jaitley said global oil prices have risen on account of “artificial shortages” and being a net buyer of oil, any rise in global crude prices would adversely impact the country. “Therefore we have to face that challenge by making our economy so resilient itself that we have the capacity to bear that challenge,” the minister added.

On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed to oil producing countries and global energy giants to review the ‘payment terms’ with India so that the rupee, which has fallen by nearly 14% in the last one year, gets some support. Although a government statement did not spell out what the payment terms sought by Modi were, sources said he meant greater facility for Indian crude importers to pay their overseas suppliers in rupee rather than dollar.

Rising crude prices could derail the fiscal consolidation path, lead to a rise in current account deficit as well as inflation, posing problems for the government ahead of several state assembly elections and general election. Jaitley hoped that “such transient effects will not be everlasting.”

Listing out several reforms such as Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code, the minister expressed hope that India’s rank in ease of doing business, which improved from 140 to 100 in three years of the Modi government, would show substantial improvement in the next edition of the data to be published by the World Bank.

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Indian Air Force Day: The Indian Air Force is celebrating 86th Air Force Day

A breathtaking display of sorties by fighter jets, transport aircraft as well as rotary wing aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) marked the 86th anniversary of the IAF. The Air Force Day parade, which took place at Air Force Station Hindan (Ghaziabad) witnessed flypasts by Sukhoi-30, Mig-21, Mig- 29, Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, Surya Kirans and Sarang helicopters of the IAF.

Meanwhile, President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah wished the IAF on the occasion of the Air Force Day. “On Air Force Day, we proudly honour our air warriors, veterans, and families of the Indian Air Force. They safeguard our skies with courage and commitment. The resilience, tenacity and zeal of our valiant air warriors is a source of pride for every Indian,” said Kovind.

“A grateful nation salutes our valorous air warriors and their families on Air Force Day. They keep our skies safe and are at the forefront of serving humanity in times of disasters. Proud of the Indian Air Force,” said PM Modi.

“On Air Force Day, I extend my greetings to our air force personnel and their families. Their bravery and commitment to serve the motherland is unparalleled. It is because of their dedication and courage that we are among the top air force in the world,” Shah said in a tweet.

Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, Chief of the Air Staff reviewed the parade that was attended by serving as well as former air warriors. Vintage aircraft of the IAF such as Tiger Moth, Harvard vintage aircraft, Dorniers and Dakotas also took to skies during the two-hour-long ceremony. “The air display will commence with a flag bearing skydivers of famous Akash Ganga Team, who will jump from an An-32 aircraft.  Flypast will comprise of Mi-17 V5 and Rudra helicopters, Dornier, C-130J and C-17 transport aircraft, Jaguar, Bison, MiG-29, Mirage-2000 and SU-30 MKI fighter aircraft,” an IAF press release said.

India’s home-developed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas also carried out an aerobatic display in front of the audience. The Surya Kiran Aerobatics Team (SKAT), comprising on nine Hawk 132 aircraft and the Helicopter aerobatics team, Sarang enthralled the audience with breathtaking formation aerobatics display.


Congress will sweep Rajasthan, edge out BJP in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh: Opinion poll

survey found anti-incumbency against the state governments but not as much against the Centre.

The Congress is likely to sweep Rajasthan and just get over the halfway mark in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in upcoming Assembly elections, an opinion poll said on Saturday. All the three states are currently controlled by the Bharatiya Janata Party.The Opposition party is likely to win 142 of 200 seats in Rajasthan, almost a reversal of the 2013 Assembly election results when the Bharatiya Janata Party won 163 seats, according to the poll .

In Madhya Pradesh, the Congress is likely to win 122 seats in the 230-member Assembly, while in Chhattisgarh, it is estimated to win 47 of 90 seats.

“Employment is a running theme and features in the top two priorities for all three states,”  Voter  said. “Water supply is an issue that is salient in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh while roads are accorded higher priority in Chhattisgarh. This reflects upon peculiar developmental needs of the respective states. Higher importance of employment as an election issues indicates a negative sentiment on the street pertaining to personal welfare.”

The survey found anti-incumbency directed against state governments, chief ministers and MLAs, but not so much against the Centre, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Members of Parliament. “Across all three states, more than 50% of respondents did not want to change the Central government or the prime minister,” Voter-said. “Therefore, in a situation where state governments are unpopular but central government is popular, we might observe the split voting pattern.”

The Election Commission of India announced the poll schedule for five states, including these three, on Saturday. In Chhattisgarh, the first phase of voting will take place on November 12 and the second phase eight days later. Madhya Pradesh will vote on November 28 while Rajasthan will go to the polls on December 7. The votes will be counted on December 11.

Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje says that Over 12 lakh Rajasthan farmers to get free electricity

Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje on Saturday announced free electricity for farmers up to Rs 10,000, hours before the Election Commission announced the schedule for upcoming Assembly elections in the state. Addressing a public meeting in Ajmer, in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister made the announcement. According to the announcement, more than 12 lakh farmers of the state will receive free electricity up to Rs 10,000 for a year on their agricultural electricity connection.

The scheme will be effective from November 2018 billing month for the general category rural farmers. This benefit will be available in the form of grants through Direct Benefit transfer (DBT), confirmed officials of the Rajasthan Energy Department. The farmers will have to pay the bill first, after which a maximum amount of Rs 833 per month shall be deposited in their bank accounts, explained the officials.

The Energy Department has already issued orders to the power distribution companies in Jaipur, Ajmer and Jodhpur. Meanwhile, former Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has flayed Chief Minister Raje for her bid to “lure” farmers, saying she is reminded of their issues when it is time for her “vidai” (departure).

She announced free electricity for farmers only after the Congress announced to give free power to farmers at “Charbhuja Kisan Sammelan”, he claimed. “What’s the meaning of making this announcement an hour before the implementation of the code of conduct by this outgoing government?” Gehlot asked, adding: “Why she didn’t give free electricity to farmers in her five-year tenure?”

He said in its five-year tenure, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government increased the electricity tariff three times and despite this, it failed to provide sufficient power to them. “Farmers will not be lured by this announcement,” he added.