Alert amid uncertainty: On RBI holding interest rates

The RBI has prudently decided to keep its powder dry for now, citing the “extreme uncertainty” that characterises the current outlook for inflation and economic activity. Observing that the “unprecedented shock” from the pandemic has left the economy stressed, the RBI said that while the monetary policy committee recognised the primacy of supporting a recovery, it was necessarily mindful of its inflation targeting mandate. The picture on prices is clouded by many uncertainties. While the provisional June CPI inflation reading of 6.1% had edged over the upper bound of the mandated medium-term goal of 4% plus/minus 2%, a spike in food prices as well as cost push pressures from higher transport fuel and raw material prices were combining to obscure the inflation outlook. Vowing to ensure that the policy stance remains ‘accommodative’ for as long as needed to revive growth, Governor Shaktikanta Das emphasised that the RBI was ready to act on rates once a durable reduction in inflation was

Consolidating control: On Sri Lanka elections

The Rajapaksas have consolidated their hold on power, garnering a near two-thirds majority in Sri Lanka’s Parliament. The victory was expected, but it is not often, under the proportional representation system, that a party reaches that milestone. The SLPP, founded four years ago by former President Mahinda Rajapaka, has won 145 seats, and with the help of minority allies, will reach the coveted 150 mark in a House of 225. The party may now have the numbers to amend the Constitution and undo the two-term limit and other curbs on presidential powers imposed by the 19th Amendment passed by a predecessor regime. The reasons behind this landslide are clear. Majoritarian nationalism, the party’s trump card, was boosted by the unprecedented disarray in the Opposition ranks. The people, yearning for development and debt relief, appear not to have forgotten the failings of the four-year rule of Maitripala Sirisena and Ranil Wickremesinghe — rivals who had come together in 2015 on a promise
Editorial

Groundbreaking: On Ram temple bhoomi pujan

The bhoomi pujan or the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of a grand temple for Lord Sri Ram in Ayodhya on Wednesday marks an end and a beginning. What it ends and what it begins can both be interpreted in different ways; how India collectively makes meaning out of it will define the future of the country hereon. One view is that the rising Ram temple signifies the end of perceived humiliation of the Hindus and the beginning of a new phase of their political ascendancy; the other is that it denotes the end of strife that shackled India’s potential for decades and heralds a new dawn of fraternity among religious communities. The end and the beginning, therefore, are not just open to interpretation, they hold the possibilities of change. For those who yearned for a temple at the site which they believe is the exact spot of Sri Ram’s birth, the journey so far has been tumultuous and violent. A Muslim place of worship that stood there for 464 years was demolished in 1992 to make

Editorial

Cartographic challenge: On Pakistan’s new map

The Ministry of External Affairs has termed Pakistan’s announcement of a new political map, which asserts its claims on Jammu and Kashmir, Siachen and Sir Creek, and lays a new claim to Junagadh, as an exercise in “political absurdity”, and accused Pakistan of attempting a form of “territorial aggrandisement supported by cross-border terrorism”. Pakistan’s decision to issue the map, a tit-for-tat manoeuvre in return for India’s decision to reorganise Jammu and Kashmir a year ago, appears to reset several agreements with India that have been concretised over the past 70 years. The map the Imran Khan government unveiled lays claim to all of Jammu and Kashmir, thus far shown as disputed territory, draws a line demarcating Gilgit-Baltistan separately from the part of Kashmir under its control (Pakistan occupied Kashmir), and renames Jammu and Kashmir as “Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir”. The new map leaves the claim line with Ladakh unclear. While each of these acts is

Editorial

Delayed start: On IPL 2020

The Indian Premier League (IPL) marches to a beat of its own. It may lack the enduring international appeal of the World Cup, the Ashes or tussles featuring India and Pakistan, yet for a domestic cricket league that blends the local with the global, the IPL has commercial heft and guarantees annual thrills. Since its launch on an April night at Bengaluru in 2008, the league gained traction and also suffered controversies. The 2013 spot-fixing crisis forced a cleansing exercise within the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) but the tournament continued unhindered. Even two general elections could not stop the IPL as South Africa conducted the event in 2009 while the United Arab Emirates (UAE) staged the first half during 2014. But the current year, wilting under a raging pandemic, has altered life and routines. The IPL, slotted for the summer, was postponed. For a sporting brand valued at ₹47,500 crore and head-lined by blue chip cricketers, the stakes are high and the BCCI

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