Narendra Modi addressed in English today for the first time after becoming Prime Minister. He witnessed the successful launch of PSLV C23 rocket that injected five foreign satellites into orbit. Modi regaled the assembled scientists with his pop culture references and also showed that he is some sort of a “space buff”. While India’s rapid stride in space research makes us proud, news of petrol and diesel getting expensive comes as a pain to commoners.
Modi’s day out:
Prime Minister who has mildly admonished defence agencies for their inability to develop homegrown weapons was all praise for ISRO scientists. In his speech at Sriharikota, Modi said that in this field India has moved away from mediocrity to excellence. He acknowledged that he feels fascinated by space technology.
Modi hailed the Mangalyan project for its cost effectiveness, saying it was cheaper than Hollywood film Gravity. He remembered the humble beginning of space mission and praised the contribution of generation of scientists. Modi briefly described how space technology is touching the lives of common people. In that context, he mentioned how accurate data regarding Cyclone Phailin helped to save lakhs of lives.
Modi asked the scientists to prepare a SAARC satellite, so that India can share its technological prowess with neighbouring countries. This is not a new proposal but it gains significance as part of Modi’s outreach programme to the neighbours. His recurring theme was the slogan “Yeh Dil Maange more”- Modi wants India to be the hub of satellite launch provider to the world.
Oil companies have again hiked prices of petrol and diesel. Petrol prices are up by Rs 1.69/litre and diesel by Re 0.50/litre excluding local taxes. This hike is attributed to the rapid increase in crude oil price after civil wars broke out in Iraq. Also rupee breaching the 60 mark has not helped the cause.
Breather for Modi:
A local court in Ahmedabad has ruled that no FIR can be filed against Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not declaring his marital status in the last assembly election. Court said that more than one year has passed since Gujarat assembly poll, so no PIL can be filed according to the law. However Additional Judicial magistrate M M Sheikh remarked that Modi had indeed committed an offence under the Representation of People Act by not disclosing his marital status. Magistrate dismissed the PIL filed by AAP leader Nishant Sharma. In effect Modi has obtained a reprieve on technical grounds.
It would have been embarrassing for him if Court had allowed filing a FIR. Modi prior to the general elections always left the space for wife’s name blank in the affidavit. Only while filing nomination from Vadodra, Modi acknowledged for the first time that he is indeed married to Jashodaben.
Congress today held a press conference to attack Modi sarkar’s record of 30 days in office. Some of the issues which Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed raised forcefully were mounting prices of food items, Chinese incursion in border and lack of action against rape accused minister Nihal Chand.
Ahmed today questioned Modi’s silence over several critical issues. He mocked Modi in Twitter by calling him “56 inch chhati wale bhaiya”. Congress is looking to up the ante prior to the start of Budget Session.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh however completely rejected all the allegations saying that it is “premature and unfair” to pass judgments on the government just after one month. He reaffirmed that the government is looking for comprehensive development.
On a separate issue Singh said that government is trying its best to bring back black money from Switzerland. He said that all the information received will be shared publicly.
Price rise especially in food products is proving to be a major discomfort for Modi government which pledged to bring “Acche din” for aam admi. June rainfall has been lowest in 5 years to add to the problem. Centre has now called an emergency meeting of food ministers of all the states to discuss the menace of hoarding which is leading to short supply.
BJP meanwhile is looking to unleash a massive public perception management drive to convey to the public why some tough decisions are required to bring back the economy to health.
To placate the middle class Modi sarkar may include a sweetener in the budget among all the “bitter pills”. Finance Ministry is looking to double the exemption limit for investments by individuals in financial instruments to Rs 2 lakh.
This move is likely to boost domestic savings. Revenue department is currently assessing the burden of this possible decision on the exchequer. LIC, PPF, EPF, Bank FDS etc. are all financial instruments which enjoy exemption.
In some bad news for the economy, India’s fiscal deficit for the first two months of the financial year has easily exceeded that of last year in the same time period. It is already 45% of the estimated fiscal deficit for the entire year projected by UPA government in the interim budget.
Core sector growth has also slowed down considerably. After witnessing a growth of 4.2 % in April it is down to dismal 2.3% in May. Crude oil, natural gas, refinery and steel – all these sectors witnessed contraction in the month of May.
However foreign investors are still not worried. In June alone FIIs have invested 32,000 crores in the Indian market. The trend is likely to continue with share market registering an unprecedented bull run. Today Sensex increased by 314 points to end at 25,413.78.
Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari today met Chinese President Xi Jinping and stressed on strengthening bilateral ties. Ansari also expressed his concerns over repeated reports of Chinese troops entering Indian borders in both Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh in Kashmir.
Commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman who is accompanying Ansari raised India’s concern over increasing trade deficit with China. Today both sides inked three MOUs one of which was on China building investment parks in India. India is also looking to invest in different sectors like gems, jewellery, cotton fabrics, pharmaceutical and IT.
Another MOU signed is related to flood data sharing, especially of river Brahmaputra which flows from China to India. The third MOU will increase interaction between administrative officials to learn from each other.
French foreign minister Laurent Fabius reached India today. His primary goal is to ensure that $20 billion Rafale aircraft deal goes through. In a press conference, he expressed hope that Modi sarkar will indeed buy aircrafts from France.
Fabius today said that his government is looking to unveil a new visa policy from January next year to grant Indians visa within two days. Both sides are looking to increase cooperation in trade and commerce.
Singapore’s Foreign affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam commences his India visit tomorrow. Singapore is known for highly sophisticated town planning. It is expected that Singapore will extend help to Modi sarkar to achieve the target of building 100 smart cities.
Babus in the Information and Broadcasting Ministry were in for an unpleasant surprise today. Concerned Minister Prakash Javadekar paid them a visit very early in the morning around 9.15 am. Nearly 40 officials were missing. Javadekar later met those errant officers and asked them to apply for a day’s leave. Earlier Venkaiah Naidu paid a surprise visit to his ministry to find the same shambolic work culture.
Finally, a look at the key economic parameters as of today…