Tuesday, 21 March, 2023
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Navika notes fear in PM’s praise, Arnab’s ‘golden girl’, Hindu asks J&K leaders to be freed

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The RBI’s transfer of Rs 1.76 lakh crore to the Modi government remains Wednesday’s top story, with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman comments on the move given prominence.

The Times of India chooses different leads: “Pakistan threatens to close its airspace for India once again” on flap and “In another pre-poll sop, AAP writes off city’s water dues”.

RBI move

Newspapers highlight different aspects of RBI’s decision to transfer surplus funds to the government.

In “Govt member wanted more, Jalan panel said no”, The Indian Express writes that the “Central government’s nominee member” on the “committee tasked with reviewing RBI’s economic capital framework had sought additional funds to the tune of 1.5 percentage points of the RBI’s balance sheet”. This demand for “adopting a higher risk tolerance range” was turned down”, writes Jalan.

In  ‘Explained’, it notes the “committee played it safe, citing the possibility of an adverse financial stability shock…”

The Hindu writes, “Questions on RBI’s credibility outlandish, says Nirmala”. Sitharaman was responding to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi “over his remarks accusing” the Modi government “of stealing money from the RBI”. The Hindu adds that the finance minister is yet to “decide on the deployment of funds”.

Hindustan Times highlights, “Stimulus scope likely to widen after RBI bounty”. Unlike The HinduHT predicts which sectors RBI funds could possibly focus on — the “installment was supposed to focus on reviving the real estate sector”, but it could now “expand its focus to textiles, infrastructure and tourism” or “maybe even a reduction in GST rate on automobiles”.

Chidambaram case

Senior Congress leader and former Union minister P. Chidambaram told the Supreme Court that “he has no account for any property abroad, much less 17 accounts and 10 properties, as alleged by the ED,” reportsExpress.

The Hindu is reminded of a “44-year old caution from the Supreme Court, probably the only silver lining in one of the most controversial decisions of the court during the Emergency era,” which was “ignored when the Delhi High Court refused to protect” Chidambaram from arrest in the INX Media case.

Jammu and Kashmir

Jammu and Kashmir makes front page news albeit for different reasons. HT reports, “Govt working on new plan to create 50,000 jobs in J&K.” The measures include a “paramilitary and military recruitment drive for the youth”, and an additional focus on “food processing and dairy industries”, details the daily.

Hindu writes, “Process begins to free J&K political leaders in phases.” The J&K government has “initiated a process to release at least 173 incarcerated leaders of regional political parties”, it mentions. Around “70 leaders from the NC, 79 from the PDP, 12 from the PC and 12 from the Congress are under detention in the Valley,” it adds.

TOI reports, Pakistan “yet again threatens to close its airspace for overflying to and from India,” less than “one and a half months after it had reopened the same”.

Also making the front page on TOI is Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s many offers of free facilities ahead of the assembly elections. “Delhiites who haven’t been paying their water bills can now do so at a heavy discount and a total waiver on late payment surcharge,” says TOI. The AAP government announced a “bonanza for the city, waiving off all water arrears of domestic consumers” living in certain localities, it adds.

Prime Time

The Modi government’s move to take money from the RBI reserves but other topics came up too.

Republic TV’s Arnab Goswami spoke to P.V. Sindhu, calling her “India’s Golden Girl” after her gold at the BWF World Championships. “I didn’t expect the reception I got at the Delhi airport as it was very late at night, but I am very thankful to all my fans,” she told Goswami.

CNN News-18 discussed the elaborate welcome that murder-accused in the Bulandshahr case, BJP youth leader Shikhar Agarwal, received when he got out on bail.

Times Now: On “The Newshour”, the panel discussed Congress leader Shashi Tharoor’s tweet on PM Narendra Modi where he said the prime minister “should be praised whenever he says or does the right thing, which would add credibility to our criticisms whenever he errs”.

Anchor Navika Kumar asked: “Is demonising PM Modi Congress’ only strategy?”

Political analyst Tehseen Poonawalla said, “Congress is the only party in India that has had different point of views since its conception. That’s called democracy. The party of Amit Shah and Modi does not allow dissent.”

He added, “Shashi Tharoor made that statement in the true spirit of democracy. We don’t have any personal enmity with PM Modi.”

BJP’s Sudhanshu Trivedi said, “There should be ample space in politics to say what is right or wrong.”

Hindustani Awam Morcha spokesperson Danish Rizwan said, “I think Shashi Tharoor is scared of speaking against the government and Mr. Modi, especially after witnessing what happened to P. Chidambaram.”

Kumar retorted, “Are you saying that anyone who praises Modi does so out of fear alone?”

India Today: Anchor Rajdeep Sardesai spoke to former IAS officer Kannan Gopinathan who resigned from the service amid the Kashmir crisis as he was “disturbed” over the restrictions being imposed in the Valley.

Sardesai asked, “What was the real trigger for your decision?”

“The reason was very clear. I believe that while the government has every right to take a decision, whether it was to rid Jammu and Kashmir of its special status or remove Article 35A. But in any democratic country, you cannot take away the rights of a citizen to react to a government’s decision.”

“So you got up one morning and saw what is happening in Kashmir and decided to quit?” asked Sardesai.

“No, it’s not like that. Of course there is a build up to it. The way in which we have curbed the freedom of expression, that was affecting me. It’s very difficult to explain. But I feel very strongly about it. I will not wait for someone to do something about it.”

“Is politics on the cards?” asked Sardesai.

“I personally believe there is nothing wrong in getting into politics. But as of now, I don’t have any plans for anything. When institutions fail, individuals have to stand up.”

ABP News: “#RahulKiEconomics” was the running hashtag on “Seedha Sawal”, as the panel discussed Congress’ criticism of the government’s move to take money from the RBI.

BJP’s Sudhanshu Trivedi dismissed accusations of economic slowdown: “Our economy is the fastest growing economy of the world”. To this, political analyst Tehseen Poonawalla retorted, “Even Bangladesh has a higher growth rate than us.”

Economist Vijay Sardana said, “We failed to generate tax revenues and strengthen the economy. Why do we need to take money from reserved sources?”

Dodging the question, Trivedi indulged in ‘whataboutery’, “Congress did a commonwealth scam worth 1.76 lakh crore rupees. But when our government takes money from our sources for the benefit of our own people, we are being questioned.”

Former RBI director Vipin Malik spoke in support of the government’s decision: “This money is earned by the RBI and if the government uses it to strengthen the economy, then what is wrong in that?”

NDTV India: On “Khabron Ki Khabar” with Sanket Upadhyay, senior journalist Rajesh Mahapatra explained the numbers behind RBI’s surplus transfer.

“There is no such fixed criteria as to how much contingency reserve should be kept in RBI. But 5.5 to 6.5 percent of the total assets is a fine limit,” said Mahapatra.

He added, “The government has decided to keep the lower limit in RBI and take the surplus. Anyhow, the need to take surplus money from RBI indicates that there is a structural crisis in the economy.”

Political analyst Desh Ratan Nigam welcomed the move. “The money taken by the government is extra money, they have their own revenues. But the focus should be on improving banking efficiency, investing in long term capital expenditure and addressing the NPA crisis,” he said.

Opinion 

Hindustan Times: In “An unsustainable trajectory”, HT addresses the Rs. 1.76 lakh crore windfall gain “reaped” by the Modi government with many opposition leaders terming it as a “raid on RBI’s reserves”. HT says the truth lies “in the middle”. Compared to past transfers, this is the highest dividend payment that the RBI has given the government. The move comes amid “shifting goalposts” regarding the share of realised equity in the RBI’s balance sheet, and deciding to stick to the lower limit of 5.5-6.5 per cent in tandem with the Bimal Jalan committee’s recommendations. Putting up a “fiscal front” of windfall gains and “faltering when they don’t materialise” should not be the norm for India’s fiscal trajectory, it writes.

The Hindu: The delayed formation of the Karnataka cabinet indicates two things, writes The Hindu in “State of stasis”. First, Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa is “walking on eggshells” trying to accommodate rebel MLAs who participated in the fall of the previous Congress-JD(S) coalition. Second, and more importantly, the state BJP has been “overly reliant” on the party’s central leadership to give it direction, it writes. The appointment of three deputy chief ministers from “various influential communities”, much to Yediyurappa’s distaste, proves that Delhi is the one “calling the shots”. This is reminiscent of how the Congress functioned via “party high command”, it writes.

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