Indians’ Income Doubled But Income Growth Has Slowed in Modikaal; Did Rahul Gandhi Call for Western Intervention as BJP Alleges?
For second year running, agriculture battles climate change, Left protests Tripura BJP violence, fewer demat accounts signal falling investor confidence, ‘Gandhi Kemal’ to take on Erdogan
A newsletter from The Wire | Contributors: MK Venu, Seema Chishti, Siddharth Varadarajan, Sidharth Bhatia and Sushant Singh | Editor: Pratik Kanjilal
The India Cable will take a break on Wednesday, March 7, due to Holi and be back in your inbox on Thursday.
Snapshot of the day
March 7, 2022
The chief cricket writer of The Australian is impressed by the view at the Narendra Modi Stadium, and is politely silent about the politics visible in the artwork about India-Australia friendship ― his PM has been made smaller than our PM.
The average Indian’s income has nearly doubled since 2014-15, claimed the government, but it neglected to mention that income growth is lower than before. Per capita net national income was Rs 86,647 in 2014-15 and has risen to Rs 172,000. While this is nearly a doubling of income in the eight years since Modi came to power, the cumulative growth of 98.5% is much lower than the 157% growth seen during the eight years leading up to 2014-15. Per capita net national income rose from Rs 33,717 in 2006-07 to Rs 86,647 in 2014-15, unadjusted for inflation. While inflation-adjusted growth was 35% between 2014-15 and 2022-23, this is lower than the 42% real income growth seen during an equivalent period ending in 2014-15. The peak rolling eight-year growth rate since 2000 was 54% for the eight-year period between 2002-03 and 2010-11.
The BJP is attacking Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for speaking about the evisceration of democracy during his ongoing visit to the UK. The Congress is inviting Western intervention, the BJP alleges. The Congress hit back, noting that Gandhi had clearly said that this was an Indian problem which Indians will deal with and that the solution would not come from outside.
“The unemployment rate in India increased to 7.45% in February from 7.14% in January 2023. The number of unemployed persons in the labour force increased from 31.5 million to 33 million,” writes Mahesh Vyas of CMIE. “Around 2.1 million additional people wanted to work in February compared to January. Of the people who entered the labour force, only around 0.6 million were able to secure employment. The remaining 1.5 million were rendered unemployed.”
Fewer demat accounts were opened than in the previous three months, though the process is now easier, showing that retail investors were put off by uncertain returns in Indian equity markets. According to data from the Central Depository Service and National Securities Depository, 2.08 million demat accounts were opened in February, the slowest rate since November 2022, and 5% slower than in the previous month. There are now 112.54 million demat accounts, up just 1.88% from a month ago and 30% up from a year ago.
The National Stock Exchange of India rejigged its indices yesterday. Of 14 companies taken out, the exchange has excluded four Adani firms from its Nifty Alpha 50 list. Notably, NSE removed the majority of Adani firms from its alpha indices either for Nifty 100 or Nifty 200. These changes will come into effect from March 31, 2023.
The NSE will move Adani Enterprises out of short-term additional surveillance from tomorrow. The exchange had put the stock under short-term ASM along with Adani Ports & SEZ Ltd and Ambuja Cements on February 6, amid extreme volatility following the Hindenburg Research report.
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Amidst all the noise about Foxconn’s India turn, a closer look at India’s electronics trade data shows how far the nation has to go to rival China. Exports grew 45% to $20.45 billion in 2022, while imports rose just 19%, but the monthly electronics trade deficit is around $4 billion. China exported about $30 billion of computers and mobile phones in December 2022 alone. Besides, India’s exports of electronic components rose 29% in 2022 to $3.7 billion, while imports increased 26% to $27 billion. And much of that comes from China.
India was a net importer of steel for the fifth month running in February, while exports halved year on year. Steel imports were 0.59 mt, up 44% from last year. Exports in February were at 0.58 mt, a 50% decline over the 1.16 mt in the year-ago period.
Automotive retail sales in February jumped 16% year-on-year (YoY), according to the Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations, but remain 8% below pre-pandemic levels.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will be in India from March 8-11, and Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is arriving in Delhi on March 19 for a one-day official visit. Forging defence cooperation and setting up resilient global supply chains will be important talking points.
The Opposition in Turkey is as fractured as India’s, but far more practical. Parties have come together to put up a common candidate against Recep Tayyip Erdogan for polls in May. Kemal Kilicdaroglu leads the main secular Opposition party and is called ‘Gandhi Kemal’ for his uncanny resemblance to the Mahatma.
Eight retired Indian Navy officials remain in prison in Qatar as Dr Deepak Mittal steps down Indian ambassador to join the PMO as Joint Secretary. He replaces Gaurav Shresth, who will be India’s ambassador to Iran. Joint Secretary for the Gulf Division Vipul will take over Qatar.
The Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) over the weekend took a swipe at the Election Commission of India by calling it contract killers working for the political masters. The Thackeray faction also thanked the Supreme Court for the order to appoint election commissioners through a committee. In an editorial in Saamna, the party alleged that all agencies, including constitutional institutions, have become slaves of the BJP.
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat continues to air his musty views ― on education, this time. He has accused the British of ruining the education system in India: "…Before British rulers dominated this country, 70% of our population was literate and educated. And on the basis of that education, everyone used to find ways to earn their livelihood and unemployment was almost negligible,” he said.
RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das yesterday said UPI payments have grown exponentially in the past 12 months with daily transactions crossing Rs 36 crore, up 50% from 24 crore in February 2022. In value terms, these transactions are worth Rs 6.27 lakh crore, registering a growth of 17% from Rs 5.36 lakh crore in February 2022.
In slightly bizarre news, Chairperson of the National Commission for Minorities Iqbal Singh Lalpura told the press that the commission has rescued 12 Indians stranded in Libya, who were trapped in a fake job racket. Excellent work, but this isn’t the job of the Minorities Commission.
The Delhi High Court has pointed to the need for laws or regulations to control vulgar speech on OTT platforms and social media. More usefully, Justice S Ravindra Bhat of the Supreme Court has recommended legislation to tackle hate speech and fake news on social media. He said that internet-delivered media is a “double-edged sword”.
Land subsidence at Joshimath will be discussed at the National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction conference, which PM Modi will inaugurate on March 10, reports The Hindu. An expert committee has suggested a complete freeze on construction in Joshimath. ISRO had been forced to take down reports that had exposed the causes of the dangerous subsidence and warned of its effects, but houses had developed serious cracks before the government took note.
“India’s crypto industry is imploding” as high taxes on virtual digital assets force players out of the market and the trade moves to exchanges overseas, says Restofworld.org.
The New York Times on Meena Kotwal, who started Mooknayak, a news outlet focused on Dalits and other marginalised groups in India, with the hope that telling their stories would help improve their lives.
The young Sharmila Tagore had noted with relief that Tiger Pataudi’s confidence ― in himself and in her ― was bulletproof. “Relax! You could only be looking very nice,” said the telegram Tiger sent her when there was a big public brouhaha over Sharmila donning a swimsuit in a Hindi film.