While North Block mandarins seek to conjure up policy levers in the upcoming Budget to spur India’s fragmented economic recovery along, the latest official data suggest industrial output is stuttering with a meagre 1.4% growth in November. More worryingly, inflation is re-emerging as a threat — retail prices surged to a five-month high of 5.6% in December from 4.9% in November. While urban India continued to record a higher incidence of price rise at over 5.8%, inflation faced by rural consumers was at 5.36% — the steepest pace since July 2021. A dozen States clocked higher inflation than the headline 5.6% level, with half of them recording well over India’s stated inflation tolerance threshold of 6%, led by Haryana and Tamil Nadu with an over 6.6% print. While the CPI cooled month on month by about 0.35%, this was offset by low base effects that pushed up inflation in food and beverages, and higher clothing and footwear prices. The deferral of a higher GST on textiles, and softening

In recent times, the season-opening Australian Open has been played against sobering backdrops. If in 2020 the unprecedented bushfires marred the build-up, in 2021 it was the turn of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions to suffocate players. Nothing however compares to the saga that unfolded for 10 long days leading into the 2022 edition, which began on Monday. World No.1 Novak Djokovic, a nine-time winner in Melbourne, had his visa cancelled and was jettisoned over his decision to remain unvaccinated. Australia’s high inoculation rates have been credited for keeping its death rate low despite an ongoing surge in cases. In such a setting, the presence of an unvaccinated star, who has also not displayed COVID-appropriate behaviour in the past, was a tough sell. With Roger Federer also absent, the main drawcard is now Rafael Nadal, the only former Australian Open men’s singles champion in the fray. The Spaniard is locked with Federer and Djokovic on 20 Majors and can take sole possession of

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