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“Would You Call Government Anti-National?” Raghuram Rajan On RSS Magazine’s Barb At Infosys – dot newz



Dr Raghuram Rajan cautioned against reading too much into the recent resurgence in factory output.

New Delhi:

Would the Central government be dubbed anti-national for its alleged poor performance initially on the Covid vaccination front, former RBI governor Dr Raghuram Rajan asked today. He was responding to the attack on Infosys by a weekly affiliated to the RSS for the IT firm’s supposed inability to fix some glitches on the tax-filing website.

A number of private sector firms have in recent months faced the ire of individuals in the government or entities close it, the most recent instance being that of Infosys.

“It just strikes me as completely unproductive. Would you accuse the government of being anti-national for not doing a good job on vaccines initially? You say it is a mistake. And people do make mistakes,” Dr Rajan said, citing the creaky rollout of the goods and services tax (GST) as an example.

“I don’t think the GST rollout has been spectacular. It could have been done better…but learn from those mistakes and don’t use it as a club to roll out your own prejudices,” he said.

The renowned economist, now a teacher, expressed his views on other related matters, too, during an exclusive interview with NDTV.

For instance, he said the recent “rebound” in India’s factory output should not be read too much into, given the low base on which the numbers have been computed and because of the supposedly skewed nature of the recovery.

He, however, agreed there was a “reasonable recovery” on the industrial side. Asia’s third-largest economy grew by a record annual pace of 20.1 per cent last quarter, driven by a surge in manufacturing and a strong rebound in consumer spending.

“The key issue here is, ‘is this a rebound for the entire economy or a rebound for certain sections of the economy?’,” said the Katherine Dusak Miller Distinguished Service Professor of Finance at Booth School of Business, University of Chicago.

“Certainly, on the industrial side, there is a reasonable recovery. But again, it differentiates between the goods that are targeted at the richer, upper-middle-class people versus goods that are targeted at poorer people.”

Dr Rajan cited the example of four-wheeler sales versus two-wheeler sales wherein the latter has plunged.

He pointed to a shift in the economy: larger, more formal firms are experiencing significantly more profit growth as compared to the smaller firms, even among the listed firms.

This, he said, is one reason why the stock market is doing so well. It is also why tax collections are increasing — GST collections jumped 30 per cent annually to Rs 1.12 lakh crore in August.

“We are seeing a forced formalisation of the economy. We haven’t supported our small and medium businesses to the extent that other countries have,” Dr Rajan said.

“You don’t want formalisation by jhatka. You want formalisation by improving the conditions for the small and medium enterprises to become more formal. I don’t think we see that.”

Besides, the rising revenues aren’t being shared with the state governments, Dr Rajan said.

“State government finances are in a pretty bad way. The Centre has, sort of, swallowed up a significant part of the revenues through central cesses,” he said leading to the issue of federalism.    

“India is getting too big to be run exclusively from the Centre. And that too not just from the Centre but from the ‘Centre within the Centre’. This kind of over-centralisation holds us back.”

Decisions, he said, aren’t being made until very late. On this front, he cited the example of appointing CEOs of government banks.

“This is suggesting that the government is overwhelmed…Too many people are looking to the Centre for guidance and not getting it. As a result, we get paralysis,” Dr Rajan said.

Referring to the effect of a stuttering economy on people, he pointed to the reported increase in gold loans — people in India, he said, sell their family gold only when in dire straits — and the marginal fall in consumption.

To alleviate their condition, he recommended cash transfers. Highlighting the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act as a cash-transfer scheme of sorts for villages, he said something similar is needed for urban India.

“One of the consequences of not supporting them (urban people hit by the downturn) is that they go back to their villages. And then when you want to start up again you have a shortage of labour. And it is very hard to persuade that they will be well supported in the city,” the economist said.

He ventured to speculate that despite revenues rising, the government was holding back on spending probably to maintain credit ratings. And yet, credit rating agencies themselves recommend spending in areas necessary, he said.

To a question on investors considering the changes in the texture of Indian democracy as a factor in their business decisions, Dr Rajan said businesses usually don’t care as long as it doesn’t affect them.

They realise often late that when a government operates without checks and balances, it affects them eventually, according to him. Arbitrary decisions can then be taken with respect to the businesses, too, he said.

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Tax Officials To Reply On Newslaundry Plea Over Leak Of Seized Material – dot newz




The court orally observed leaking of data is “ethically, morally and legally” wrong. (File)

New Delhi:

The Delhi High Court Friday sought Income Tax Department’s stand on a plea by online news portal Newslaundry and its co-founder Abhinandan Sekhri to restrain any leakage of the material seized during a survey operation held earlier this month.

A bench of Justices Manmohan and Navin Chawla granted time to the department’s counsel to seek instructions on giving an undertaking against any leak and asked that the concerned officer join the proceedings on the next date of hearing i.e. September 21.

“Ask your client (to join proceedings) so that we can close it then and there. Let him be by your side..If he gives a statement, we can put a quietus to the matter,” said the bench to the lawyer who asserted that the fear of leak was a “bald apprehension”.

Data of thousands of assessees is in safe custody of the department and it can be used only in accordance with law, said counsel for the department Ajit Shamra.

During the course of the hearing, the bench orally observed, “Normally, no one’s data should be leaked” as it is “ethically, morally and legally” wrong.

“We have seen it on channels, people’s data that has been seized is being displayed… It should not happen,” it remarked.

Senior counsel Siddharth Dave, appearing for the petitioners, said that four notices under the Income Tax Act were issued to his client and a survey was held in the news portal’s premises on September 10, during which several devices, including a mobile phone and a laptop belonging to the petitioner co-founder, were seized by the IT authorities, which contained several information which were of no relevance to any income tax proceedings.

The data may contain personal photos and information pertaining to investigative stories, he said.

The senior lawyer argued that any data breach would be in violation of right to privacy and therefore a direction should be passed to the IT authorities to not leak any data and delete whatever is of no relevance to the proceedings.

It was also contended that any seizure during a survey operation was beyond the scope of survey and that no “hash value” of the seized data was given.

“Please direct them not to leak seized data collected in this purported garb of a survey and allow me to delete (non I-T related) data,” the senior lawyer submitted.

In the petition filed through advocate Nipun Katyal, the petitioners have said that the income tax officers and authorities do not have any power to interrupt the ordinary peaceful citizens of the country in any manner they like by utilizing the large powers given to them, without keeping strictly within the four corners of those large powers.

“The Petitioners are heading a news organization, the Petitioners herein have sources, contacts and other information on the digital machines. It is the fiduciary duty of the Petitioners to protect them and keep it confidential.

“It is further submitted that the legal communication regarding existing cases is present in the personal laptop and phone of the Petitioners. If in any circumstances, the leaks are committed, it shall be a clear breach of the attorney client privilege as well as whistleblowers confidentiality,” the plea says.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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1 Crore Jabs Till 1:30 PM. On PM’s Birthday, Government Aims At Record – dot newz




The vaccination campaign is key to BJP’s three-week celebrations to mark PM’s birthday.

New Delhi:

As the government raced to deliver a vaccination record on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday today, the country clocked over 42,000 vaccinations a minute, a senior health official said. Vaccinations crossed one crore in the afternoon – for the fourth time in less than a month – setting up a milestone by the end of the day.

Aiming at 2 crore vaccinations as PM Modi turns 71, the government added a ticker to track Covid shots being given across the country.

“Celebrating the relentless efforts of India’s vaccinators against COVID-19, we have added a ticker to show vaccinations happening in near real-time. We are currently clocking over 42,000 vaccinations/minute or 700/second,” tweeted National Health Authority chief RS Sharma, sharing the new feature.

The vaccination campaign is key to the BJP’s three-week celebrations to mark the Prime Minister’s birthday.

“Let’s do #VaccineSeva and give him (PM Modi) birthday gift by getting vaccinated those who have not taken the dose so far,” Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya had tweeted yesterday, urging people to get the shots.

To achieve its target, the BJP had prepped health volunteers “to ensure that the maximum number of people get their COVID-19 vaccines on the day”.

In recent days, India has reported more than one crore Covid shots in a day more than once.

Senior BJP leaders say the party wants to see the day “recorded in history” as one that saw a record number of Covid vaccines given.

By noon, over 94,00,000 vaccinations had been achieved. PM Modi’s home state Gujarat had crossed five lakh doses, more than the daily doses in the last seven days.

By afternoon, Bihar had given Covid shots to 7.3 lakh people, three times more than the average of the last three days. Madhya Pradesh was at more than 5 lakh doses – 75 per cent of the last two days’ average.

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Under-Construction Flyover Collapses In Mumbai’s Bandra, 14 Injured – dot newz




The under-construction flyover collapsed at about 4.40am.

At least 14 people were injured after a portion of an under-construction flyover collapsed in Bandra Kurla Complex in Maharashtra’s Mumbai today. The injured were taken to the VN Desai Hospital and their condition is stable, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation said.

The flyover collapsed at about 4.40am.

Visuals shared by news agency ANI showed police personnel and fire departments on the spot as the rescue work is underway.

There has been no loss of life and no person is missing due to the collapse, Deputy Commissioner Of Police Manjunath Singe told news agency ANI.

The flyover is located at MTNL junction in suburban Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) and will connect the complex’s main road and Santa Cruz- Chembur link road. The construction work of the flyover is being undertaken by Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA).

Further details related to the flyover’s collapse are awaited.

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