For those who think politics is a boring job, think again! Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi just got invited to see the world cup final in Brazil! It is not known whether Modi will accept the invitation of Brazilian Prime Minister. But he will certainly like to visit Bhutan again after completing an extremely successful maiden foreign tour as Prime Minister in the “land of thunders”.
Modi’s visit to Bhutan:
Prime Minister today addressed the joint session of Bhutanese parliament. He reiterated the fact that ties between the two countries will go from strength to strength in his regime. But in diplomacy good relation often depends on the art of reciprocity. Bhutan in the last one year has shown some inclination of firming up ties with China, something India is deeply apprehensive about. Modi wants Bhutan to be a trusted ally. He indirectly told that to the legislators by saying if Bhutan “walks a few step, we too feel like walking the steps and supporting you”. In a joint declaration the two countries today pledged that they will not allow their lands to be used for any activities hostile to each other.
Modi in a significant statement said that a strong India will be helpful for all the SAARC nations, a message probably directed at some of our lesser friendly neighbours. He muted the possibility of starting a sporting event with all Himalayan countries including Bhutan to increase people to people contact. He heaped effusive praise on the royal family of Bhutan and also congratulated the country on its successful transition to democracy. He said that cooperation in technology, tourism and hydel power projects will increase in the future.
India today announced that Bhutan will be exempted from any future ban on export of milk powder, wheat, edible oil, pulses and non-basmati rice. Amidst hitting all the right notes Modi did a faux pas today when he confused Bhutan once for Nepal and then for Ladakh during the speech! However that proved to be a minor glitch as Bhutanese legislators broke into spontaneous applause when Modi finished his speech. This is an exception to normal Bhutanese tradition where clapping is done only to ward off evil spirits and not as a congratulatory message.
China today played down Modi’s visit to Bhutan saying they are happy that both the neighbouring countries are forming deep bond with each other.
While Modi won hearts in Bhutan, there was much heartburn for Indian policy makers back home after Wholesale Price Index( WPI) inflation for the month of May was released. Policy makers expected wholesale inflation to soften after retail inflation eased for the month of May. But they got a rude shock today. Inflation based on WPI has increased to a 5 months high of 6.01%. It was 5.20% in April and 6% in March. The figure shows food items like fish, chicken, fruits, vegetables all becoming expensive in the last month. This is a worrying trend as prices are unlikely to decrease with an uncertain monsoon predicted by the met department.
The civil war in Iraq which is attracting lot of international attention is making its impact felt in Indian economy too. Sensex today ended at a 10 day closing low of 25,190.48 with investors getting negative vibes from WPI figures and escalating price of crude oil. Price of crude has now touched a nine month high and is only predicted to go up as the crisis in Iraq-Syria deepens further.
The negative impact was also felt on the forex and gold market. Rupee breached the 60 mark first time after Modi sarkar has taken charge, whereas gold increased in value for the sixth consecutive day. Today the government decided to hike tariff on both gold and silver, which is likely to further push up the prices of these precious metals.
Centre- State relations:
Gloves are off in the Modi-Mamata relation after a period of brief thaw. Just a day after West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee said that they will send their representative in BJP ruled states where atrocities have taken place, didi has lived up to her promise. 5 TMC MP will visit BJP ruled Madhya Pradesh to get a ground report from Bhiali Kheda village where a tribal girl was allegedly raped and paraded naked.
It is to be noted that TMC doesn’t have any presence in MP and this is an obvious retaliation to Modi sending two central teams to Bengal to inspect cases of political hostility.
From Bengal to Uttar Pradesh, Akhilesh sarkar is increasingly in confrontation mode with Narendra Modi. There have been repeated reports of violence against women and political skirmishes from India’s largest state in the last three weeks. Central government so far has been circumspect to directly intervene in these matters. But finally Home Minister Rajnath Singh has broken his silence possibly under pressure from his party colleagues. He has expressed concerns over the worsening law and order condition in the state where even on Monday two constables were killed by goons.
Rajnath said that he is keeping close watch at the situation in his home state. Congress too has attacked the state government. Facing criticism SP government has accused media of hyping incidents from Uttar Pradesh deeming it a conspiracy of the BJP.
Rajnath today visited Delhi Police headquarters for the first time after taking charge and urged police to act firmly in all cases of violence against women. Delhi in the recent years has seen many such incidents including the watershed Nirbhaya incident leading to amendment of anti-rape laws in the country.
In Modi’s sarkar, writ of Narendra Modi will rule large. If there was any doubt about that today PMO made it amply clear when it struck down proposals made by eight ministers for their choice of private secretaries. This list includes Home Minister Rajnath Singh and HRD Minister Smriti Irani. Apparently Rajnath’s choice of Alok Singh as secretary was vetoed as he earlier worked for then Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid. The government is currently working on a plan to form a policy regarding appointment of private secretaries, where each will be cleared only after scrutiny. Modi sarkar is in two minds over retaining private secretaries who have worked in the same post in the UPA regime.
Modi has already broken norms by opening a channel between secretaries of different ministries to keep a tab on the work done by the Ministers. This fresh move makes it clear that he wants to lead the government with an iron fist.
Will India bid to host Asian Games? Indian Olympic Association (IOA) is in process of deciding whether they want to take the plunge. Indian government has already expressed its go ahead to the IOA. If India indeed bids to host the 2019 Asian Games and wins the bid, Modi sarkar will be under immense scrutiny to deliver a better show than what UPA did during 2010 Commonwealth Games.
Finally, a look at the key economic parameters as of today…