It’s the economy, stupid

14 Dec,2011

By Ranjona Banerji

 

Perhaps appropriately, the problems of the Indian economy have taken centre-stage. Some newspapers are concentrating on the falling rupee while others are concerned about the falling industrial growth rate. Both seem to be legitimate headlines. The general consensus seems to be lack of governance and the general drift of UPA II. Says The Times of India in its editorial on Wednesday, “If the political class needs a crisis to see that policy gridlock is strangling our economy, then that crisis is upon us… But the onus is also on the opposition to forego bloody-minded politics which makes the government’s job harder.”

 

The Indian Express in its editorial concentrates on decline on the Index of Industrial Production and comments, “Unfortunately the slowdown has hit us at a time when real interest rates are negative.” However it cautions the Reserve Bank to wait and watch before “taking action”. It also brings up the valid point of many students coming out of management institutes being unable to find jobs if industrial and services growth on a downward spiral.

 

The Deccan Chronicle in its editorial looks at how Indian companies are now looking abroad to invest their money, given the situation in India. “What India and the economy urgently needs to grow at this point is low inflation, low interest rates, immediate implementation of the new manufacturing and procurement policy, and a business-friendly transparent environment to unleash India’s unmatched entrepreneurial strengths.”

 

The Economic Times carries a feature on the rupee crisis headlined “India Inc sends an SoS to RBI’. A Subba Rao of the GMR group is quoted as saying, “It’s like a natural calamity, like a tsunami… with the rupee falling so fast and so sharply, there is only so much you can do.”

 

A discussion on Times Now on Tuesday had FICCI chairman Rajiv Kumar practically begging politicians to sort our their problems and prevent a further downslide in the economy. His predictions were dire unlike Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s somewhat sanguine assurances that things were not so bad.

 

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Given our current obsession with corruption, two stories in Wednesday’s newspapers deserve attention. The Telegraph, Calcutta, has a story on how the Jyoti Basu government handed the AMRI hospital land in the Dhakuria area of Kolkata between 1994 and 1998 at rates that will remain frozen till at least 2024. Unlike other such deals, there are apparently no provisions for revision of the rental rates. The state government has, according to the report, acquired the land in 1991 to provide affordable healthcare.

 

The Indian Express’s flyer story looks at the various irregularities in the Noida farmhouse allotments, from which a key member of the Anna Hazare-Jan Lokpal movement also benefited – Shanti Bhushan and his son Jayant. The Express report provides details of various transgressions and concessions, many of which appear to be inexplicable.

 

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Even as TV continues to be the chief champion of Anna Hazare and his campaign for his Jan Lokpal Bill, the print media conversely continues to question. The Economic Times in its second editorial on Wednesday says, ‘Anna Hazare has displaced the my-way-or-highway sort of undemocratic attitude reminiscent of authoritarianism and a vigilante-style notion of justice and that is part of the problem.” It cautions against actions which will lead to anarchy.

 

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