The Connectere brings forward the mind’s eye and panoramic view of the young writing enthusiasts on various topics

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Regulations in the labour market are so widely talked about; there is an array of perspectives and theories about how flexible a labour market should be, in order to make industries work in harmony with the growth process. High rate of growth that India experienced pre-2008 global crisis was not accompanied by the same rate of growth in employment. One reason stated was the stagnation of growth in the manufacturing sector coupled with inflexible labour markets.

weekly analysis

The Weekly Analysis – Edition 54

There are two aspects to the news- knowing the headline and understanding the intricacies of it. We at The Connectere focus on both. While The First Forum edition gives a brief about the headlines, The Weekly Analysis Edition is meant to educate the reader on what do various news mean and what are their intricacies. This initiative is meant to educate the reader on how to understand the important news. In the Fifty Fourth Edition we are covering the following news:

  1. Localised restriction detrimental to economic activity
  2. Why saving the middle class is critical for India
  3. How is Ingenuity, the first helicopter on Mars historic?
  4. The Oxygen Conundrum


Localised restriction detrimental to economic activity

The second wave of the pandemic is forcing states to impose stricter curbs in place of full-blown lockdowns, but the restrictions are disrupting economic activity. Maharashtra issued an order restricting the timings of essential shops dealing with grocery, vegetable, dairies and other items to four hours. Telangana imposed a night curfew, while UP said it will start weekend shutdowns from 23.04.21. Similarly, several other states also imposed partial lockdowns or curfews.
While states are still trying to avoid large-scale and stringent lockdowns, rising restrictions on mobility and economic activity may deliver a second financial shock to an economy that is just emerging from the deepest recession in at least four decades. These restrictions could deepen the economic impact of the second wave in the coming weeks. As of 18 April, NIBRI has further plummeted by over 16% points below pre-pandemic normal from 12% points in the previous week.
The stock markets continued to slide on Tuesday over covid-19 concerns, with the benchmark Sensex shedding 0.51% after erasing gains seen earlier in the day. Consumer confidence will be impacted, and discretionary spending will come down substantially, but it may be compensated in the form of pent-up demand later but there may be more impact on the services sector as discretionary spending may not resume immediately after the situation normalizes. The restrictions particularly threaten the retail industry. With localized restrictions across states, the retail industry is beginning to see issues faced by retailers last year repeating in some form. Considering the impact of last year on business, closure of economic activity at this stage will lead to the permanent closure of businesses, thereby leading to millions of job losses. Restrictions and rising cases have already impacted sales of the auto sector. The real estate sector, which is highly dependent on migrant labour, is expected to be affected if the lockdowns trigger a second reverse migration. The number of air travellers has also been plummeting over the last few weeks. The sector faces a bleak outlook as the second wave continues unabated.

Why saving the middle class is critical for India

Unlike other countries such as China, which controlled the virus much sooner, or the US and the UK, which despite being hit hard by Covid had the financial resources to protect the livelihoods of their people, India has suffered grievously. Starting April, it was expected that India’s economy will register a fast economic rebound and make up for 2020’s losses but the massive surge in Covid cases all across the country, which has exposed the government’s lack of preparation over the past year, points to the possibility of a scenario where India may not even be able to make up for the economic (GDP) contraction it suffered in the last financial year (2020-21).
Such a sharp contraction in GDP growth essentially means that millions of people will not only lose part or all of their current incomes but also the means to earn their income. Since India’s economy was already decelerating before the pandemic, people do not have the savings to fight for long. A lot of focus has been on the pitiable state of India’s migrant workforce, but there is an equally primal but largely unheard shriek of desperation being let out by India’s middle class.
Typically economic researchers tend to use income or expenditure to spot the middle class but it’s possible to define the middle class as those whose expenditure ranges between 75% to 125% of the median expenditures. It is also characterised by certain values, mindsets, educational and occupational choices.
The middle class is often considered the glue that keeps modern liberal democratic economies from falling apart under the strain of ever-rising inequalities. Beyond the political aspect, it is now well established that economic growth is stronger in countries that have a strong middle class. Middle class “values” also encourage the accumulation of human capital and savings. Moreover, in comparison to the poor, the middle class has the ability and power to demand better public service delivery and greater accountability from public officials, and support growth-oriented policies but the world over, the middle class has been shrinking and this trend is considered worrisome. Nationalistic and anti-globalization sentiments can arise because a shrinking middle class produces disillusionment and damages political engagement, or turns voters towards anti-establishment and protectionist policies. In India the middle-class had come under severe strain even before the pandemic. Unemployment levels had risen to a 45-year high even as consumption expenditures had fallen sharply. Health and nutrition data also showed a significant decline even as educational outcomes continue to lag. National accounts data showed Indians getting more and more indebted since 2017.
Prior to the pandemic, it was anticipated that 99 million people in India would belong in the global middle class in 2020 and a year into the pandemic, this number is estimated to be 66 million, cut by a third whereas, the number of poor in India is projected to have reached 134 million, more than double the 59 million expected prior to the recession.
While the fact that 75 million people will be pushed back to abject levels of poverty what is worrisome is that fact that India’s middle class was reduced by one-third. Given its severity, the current second wave and its economic impact could well mean that India’s middle class will be reduced to half of what it was before the pandemic.
But this situation needs to be remedied as soon as possible because a politically and economically strong middle class is more likely to hold a government accountable, which would, in turn, ensure the rule of law, protection of property rights, and continued economic reform. More specific to the Indian middle class, the starting point has to be a reordering of the taxation and benefits matrix. In other words, the overall tax burden should be reduced even as the benefits such as public healthcare and education are ramped up. Doing this would necessarily require the government to make the tax system more progressive and demand higher taxation from the rich. The government must do everything it can to bring down the cost of living for the middle class. The third big thrust has to be to address the lack of jobs and falling labour force participation rate.

How is Ingenuity, the first helicopter on Mars historic?

 This week NASA announced that Ingenuity had performed its first flight. The helicopter’s main task is to carry out a technology demonstration to test the first powered flight on Mars, which it seems to have accomplished today. Since the first flight has succeeded, the Ingenuity team will attempt up to four test flights within a 31-Earth-day window. Other technology demonstrations of the same kind include the Mars Pathfinder rover Sojourner and the Mars Cube One CubeSats that flew by Mars in 2018.
Ingenuity, the first helicopter to fly on Mars was carried by NASA’s rover called Perseverance that was launched in July last year and will help collect samples from the surface from locations where the rover cannot reach. The helicopter got its name because of a high school student Vaneeza Rupani of Alabama. Rupani originally submitted the name for the Mars 2020 rover, which was ultimately called Perseverance. But the NASA officials felt that Ingenuity–which means the skill of thinking, performing, or using things in new ways, esp. to solve problems (definition as per the Cambridge dictionary)– was a suitable name for the helicopter whose team had given a lot of creative thinking to get the mission off the ground.
Perseverance landed at the Jezero Crater of Mars in February year. It will remain on the Red Planet for about two years and look for finding past signs of life. The rover is designed to study signs of ancient life, collect samples that might be sent back to Earth during future missions and test new technology that might benefit future robotic and human missions to the planet. The helicopter’s mission is experimental in nature and completely independent of the rover’s science mission – which is searching for signs of ancient life and collecting samples of rock and sediment in tubes for potential return to Earth by later missions. NASA will try and demonstrate rotorcraft flight in the extremely thin atmosphere of Mars with this helicopter, which is why the mission is so crucial.


The Oxygen Conundrum

While 120 Crore people in this nation fight against a deadly virus and its new mutant or variant there are those fighting for a breath of life. With hospitals operating at more than double the capacity there is a shortage of oxygen supply in most major hospitals of the capital city. Delhi sources it’s oxygen from industries based in Faridabad, Haryana where the Delhi government has no jurisdiction; while the Haryana government placing more importance in the lives of the residents of the state of Haryana and post a gruesome murder of humanity refused to let the oxygen carrying trucks leave the state borders.
The center was caught up in another dilemma with Max Hospital approaching the Delhi High Court and bringing the court up to speed on the oxygen situation in the city and requesting it to step into the matter, the court asked the center to sort out priorities, if the lives of the people who make up the nation were more important than those of the industries dependent on oxygen. In a rather ‘iconic’ moment the Delhi high Court asked the center to ‘beg, borrow, steal’ and it was the center’s job to provide oxygen to the people.
It is in situations like these that you question yourself and the high and mighty, how did they prioritize the lives of one state over the other; when did the profits of an industry become more important than the lives of the people of this nation. While the center boasts about the 1.18% fatality rate in the country it fails to realize or maybe uses a relative concept such as percentage as a ruse to conceal reality, 1.18% in a population of 120 crores is close to 1 crore, those are 1 crore deaths that this government of the high and mighty have rendered a small number. Those were living, breathing human beings whose lives you have so blatantly disregarded. Beds in AIIMS shall always remain empty for those that remain in power, but for those who have no choice but to sleep outside AIIMS Delhi due to lack of resources, the gates shall always remain shut.
Humanity often loses in a fight against the high, the mighty and the rich. It will always lose against those that run this nation.

The Weekly Analysis – Edition 53

There are two aspects to the news- knowing the headline and understanding the intricacies of it. We at The Connectere focus on both. While The First Forum edition gives a brief about the headlines, The Weekly Analysis Edition is meant to educate the reader on what do various news mean and what are their intricacies. This initiative is meant to educate the reader on how to understand the important news. In the Fifty Third Edition we are covering the following news:

  1. Chinese steel industry dilemma
  2. Why the Rupee is among biggest losers over the past few days?
  3. Auto sector’s role in India’s growth
  4. Tackling the second COVID wave


Chinese steel industry dilemma

 Top executives from industrial materials firms are discussing why prices are rising and how to respond. China’s vast steel sector is conflicted between economic growth and a green agenda as the President tries to clean up the world’s top carbon emitter. The government is pushing for steel output to drop from a record of more than 1 billion tons, in a campaign triggered by Xi’s pledge to deliver a carbon neutral economy by 2060 but it has fired up prices and created a headache for policymakers fretting about surging inflation.
China produces well over half the world’s steel and the sector has long been targeted by the authorities for persistent pollution. The industry is also responsible for about 15% of the carbon that China spews into the atmosphere every year.
Steel mills have enjoyed a surge in profitability and the biggest has seen its Shanghai-listed shares advance almost 40% this year while the benchmark index has edged lower. Trying to keep production in check alongside stimulus-fueled demand has inevitably meant much higher prices. Steel coil in China, used in everything is the priciest it’s been since 2008. Aluminium has reached decade-highs. Strong demand is playing a big part along with supply cuts, as China’s economic rebound from the pandemic is heavily dependent on commodity-intensive sectors.
Allowing inflation to persist is a risk to the economy because it ends up sapping demand for products, or provoking the authorities to put restrictions on the monetary and fiscal measures that promote growth. It’s a global concern that obviously stretches far beyond steel as nations chart their course out of the pandemic. Steelmaking is vital to China’s economy, employing huge numbers, and the effect on prices of reining in supply shows how governments will have to tread a careful path as they restructure important industries.
China has ordered cuts in the key steelmaking hub of the country and vowed nationwide checks to make sure regions aren’t flouting capacity curbs. The government is considering an adjustment to taxes to bring in more overseas steel and plug any domestic shortfall but that’s complicated by a very strong rebound in the global steel market.



Why the Rupee is among biggest losers over the past few days?

The Indian Rupee hit a nine-month low of 75.4 against the US Dollar this week and has lost nearly 4.2 per cent over the last three weeks — one of the biggest losers among the emerging market currencies. The Rupee came under severe pressure over the last three weeks in line with the sharp rise in Covid-19 cases and RBI’s announcement, last week, to maintain fairly accommodative monetary policy and that it will inject liquidity through the Government Securities Acquisition Programme (G-SAP) programme — starting with Rs 1 lakh crore in the current quarter. As concerns are growing over the delay in recovery of the economy and normalisation, the Rupee has taken a hit.
From trading at a level of 72.38 to USD in March, the Rupee slipped to levels of 75.42 on Tuesday (afternoon trading hours) thereby witnessing a decline of 4.2 per cent in a matter of three weeks. This week, it lost 43 paisa to a dollar, hitting a nine-month low. Data shows the Rupee has been one of the biggest losers over the last three weeks as concerns are growing over rising Covid cases and its impact on economic activity across the country.
Market participants say the Rupee may hit levels of 77-78 over the next couple of months and that can be a cause of concern for importers, or other individuals who have planned expenditure in foreign currency.
With Covid numbers rising as of now, it continues to pose a threat to the pace of recovery and that is raising concerns over INR. A concern over economic activity and growth of the economy in turn is slowing down the pace of FPI inflows which provides a strong support to Rupee.

Auto sector’s role in India’s growth

In the past two decades or so the Indian auto sector has been witness to some considerable changes and transformations, things which were beyond imagination. While the IT sector might still be the star, the auto sector is not far behind. There have been three major advancements that can be given the credit for this transformation.
First, the advancement of the supplier ecosystem in India. Today, our suppliers — both homegrown as well as the MNC offshoots — can rub shoulders with the best in the world. Second, the build-quality of our products. Quality defects have reduced by a staggering 90 per cent and now compare favourably with most advanced markets. Third, and perhaps the most important, is our ability to design, engineer and develop world-class products completely in India. Scorpio, Indica, XUV500, Nano and Pulsar brought respect to India’s engineering capabilities. Today, every major carmaker has an engineering centre in India, and many have complete product development capability here. The frugality in product development also gives India a competitive edge.
The auto industry does a lot of good for the MSME sector which is a big employment generator for India and an important cog in the Indian economy. The MSME share of value-addition to a car is 35 per cent. Further, the automotive aftermarket provides economic opportunities to thousands of MSMEs. While no official count is available, one estimate puts the total number of MSMEs engaged in the auto value chain in the range of 25,000-30,000.
The Indian auto industry truly embodies the spirit of Atmanirbhar Bharat, and perhaps many other industries can take some lessons from it. The industry contributes 6.4 per cent to GDP, around 35 per cent to manufacturing GDP, supports over 8 million jobs directly (OEMs, suppliers and dealers) and as many as 30 million more in the value chain. It accounts for cumulative investments of $35 billion over last 10 years, and generates export revenue of $27 billion that is nearly 8 per cent of the total merchandise exports from India.

Tackling the second COVID wave

There was never any doubt that India will face a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. What was not known was when, and how big it would be. Now we know that the second wave is here. It is “faster and higher” — all that we hoped it would not be.
The newer variants of the virus have the potential to change the infectiousness both ways, and there is some early indication that the infectiousness has increased in the second wave. But this is unlikely to be an important reason for the large second wave. However, this is an area where constant vigilance is required. As many people have already been infected in the first wave, the pool of susceptibles should be smaller. Serosurveys also support this as they found that about 25 per cent of people had already been infected nationally. However, this is an average and hides significant variations by state, age and place of residence. Populations with lower seroprevalence become the potential pool for the second wave.  With the removal of most restrictions, the probability of contact between individuals has risen sharply. We can all see crowded marketplaces, malls and restaurants; public transport is functional.
While the government may justify them on social, economic, religious and political grounds, it makes little sense to the public when crowding in public places is allowed, but curbs are imposed on individual freedom with curfews or weekend lockdowns. On top of this, there is a renewed emphasis on penalising individuals for their behavior, including not wearing a mask in their own car. The message to the public is that the onus of controlling this pandemic is now on individuals and not the government. This is not prudent. Even if the opening of society was to be done for various reasons, the public should have been prepared for such a change. It is inappropriate to blame individual community members, when there is no effective communication which explains the rationale behind the decisions taken.

Challenges faced by Army personnel

The Indian Army, the armed forces, have a rich history and a glorious past, dating back to even more than a century. It had participated in a number of battles around the world and earned honors, both before and after Independence. Within the organization the culture that prevails, offers very less opportunity to raise voice or oppose things. But from outside the picture looks rosy and the culture is ideal. Even a minor improvement will pay rich dividends to the society and the nation. After so many years of independence, we must analyze these problems.

The Mexican Peso Crisis of 1994

The Mexican peso crisis, also known as the tequila crisis, is a slang term that is used for financial fallout resulting from the Mexican economy. It was one of the first major currency crises in the South American continent. The value of the Mexican peso almost collapsed as a result of this crisis. The number of foreign reserves in the country rapidly decreased to extremely low levels and in the end, the Mexican government had no other option left so they required a bailout to save the country from this crisis. Foreign investors who had invested in Mexican bonds ended up losing 15% of the value of their investments in a single day and over 40% of the value in the long term. These rates look disastrous considering that bonds are fixed-income investments and losing money on bonds is considered to be a very rare possibility. So, what led the nation to this nightmarish disaster? Let’s delve into it. 

weekly analysis

The Weekly Analysis – Edition 51

There are two aspects to the news- knowing the headline and understanding the intricacies of it. We at The Connectere focus on both. While The First Forum edition gives a brief about the headlines, The Weekly Analysis Edition is meant to educate the reader on what do various news mean and what are their intricacies. This initiative is meant to educate the reader on how to understand the important news. In the Fifty First Edition we are covering the following news:

  1. NCT Bill revives power tussle in Delhi
  2. Development Finance Institute approved
  3. Democrats vow to vote on gun bills; Biden says ‘we have to act’
  4. Ready to discuss bringing petrol, diesel under GST at next Council meet


NCT Bill revives power tussle in Delhi

Recently, the central government introduced the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 to amend the previous act of 1991, to better define the role of the Council of Ministers and the Lieutenant-Governor (LG) in Delhi. The Bill will most likely revive the tussle between the Centre and the Delhi government. The Constitution of India granted special status to Delhi among Union Territories (UTs) in the year 1991 through the 69th constitutional amendment which provided a governor and a council of ministers with appropriate powers. That’s when Delhi was named as the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi.
But now the amendment in the bill will give discretionary powers to the LG of Delhi even in matters where the Legislative Assembly of Delhi is empowered to make laws. And the state government will require to obtain the opinion of the LG on their decisions before executive action is taken on those decisions. Thus, the elected government cannot take any action unless it obtains the LG opinion.
A government is often called upon to take urgent decisions and actions on issues concerning people’s welfare. The effect of this amendment will be that the government will not be able to act quickly on matters which it considers important. There can be no more effective way than this to hobble an elected government and make it ineffective. Moreover, the LG opinion is not time bounded which can lead to delay in executing the action. Specifically, this amendment nullifies the decision of the Supreme Court which has held that the elected government of Delhi can take all decisions within its jurisdiction and execute them without obtaining the concurrence of the LG. In case of a difference of opinion on a matter between the LG and the government, the former should make all efforts to resolve it and only in extreme cases should s/he refer the matter to the president for a decision. It is very surprising that after a constitution bench of the Supreme Court in 2018 settled the constitutional issues relating to the relationship between the Delhi government and the Union government in matters of governance, parliament has been called upon to amend the act to unsettle this relationship.
The AAP government has criticised the bill and has called it a move to curtail the powers of the state government because if amendments are passed, elections and the elected government in Delhi will become meaningless. Opposition parties have come in favour of the AAP government over the NCT Bill calling it to be ‘unconstitutional’. West Bengal Chief Minister extended support to the ‘struggle’ against the introduction of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 in Lok Sabha and called the move as “surgical strike on federal structure”.

Development Finance Institute approved

Whenever the government has put a greater thrust on building infrastructure and promoting investment in the country, the idea of setting up a development bank has played a key role. India’s first development bank was probably set up in 1949 with the name Industrial Finance Corporation of India (IFCI). Its main aim was to finance industrial investments in the country. Then in 1995, the World Bank promoted the Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India (ICICI) to finance modern and relatively large private corporate enterprises. In 1964, IDBI was set up as an apex body of all development institutions. But these banks were ultimately disbanded due to mounting problems of NPAs and lack of efficiency.
Now, the Union cabinet has once again started working on this idea and has cleared the setting up of a Development Finance Institution (DFI) for financing long term infrastructure and development projects of the country. During Budget 2021, it was mentioned that a national bank will be set up to fund infrastructure and developmental activities. This is now being implemented on ground by the government. The FM stressed on the fact that past attempts to have such institutions have not been very successful and we have ended up with no bank which could take up long-term risk and fund development. This has led to steep fall in long-term credit from a tenure of 10-15 to just 5 years. Hence, in order to promote investments on a larger scale in the country, the government has come up with effective measures in the structure of DFI so that the problems faced by past banks can be confronted. Earlier banks had started piling up huge NPAs allegedly caused by politically motivated lending and inadequate professionalism. These banks were converted into commercial banks after Narasimham Committee reports in 1991. The proposed DFI will have a professional board with persons of eminence. Moreover, DFI will have 50% non-official directors. It will also have certain tax benefits for a period of about 10 years.
To finance this bank, the government will undertake a capital infusion of about Rs 20,000 crore this year and an initial grant of Rs 5000 crore. Additional increments of grant will be made within the limit of Rs 5000 crore. The central government is also planning to issue some securities to DFI through which cost of funds can be brought down. This can help DFI leverage initial capital and draw funds from various sources. DFI will start with 100% government ownership and it will be gradually brought down to 26%.
The DFI will focus on providing long-term credit for the industrial  growth of the country at comparatively lower rates. It will provide financial assistance for both public and private sector industries. The main objectives will be promotion of industrial growth, development of backward areas, generation of  employment opportunities, raising exports and substituting imports, modernisation and improvement in technology and reduction in regional imbalance.

Democrats vow to vote on gun bills; Biden says ‘we have to act’

Democrats said they are pushing toward a vote on expanded gun control measures as the nation reels from its second mass shooting in a week. President Joe Biden said “we have to act,” but prospects for any major changes were dim, for now, in the closely divided Congress. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer vowed to bring to the Senate floor legislation passed by the House that would require background checks for most gun sales and transfers. He said the Senate “must confront a devastating truth” after a lack of congressional action on the issue for almost three decades.
The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing Tuesday on proposals for gun control. It is unclear whether any of the bills up for consideration, most of them involving more restrictive background checks would have made a difference in the Colorado case. A 21-year-old man charged with killing eight people in the Atlanta area last week had purchased a 9 mm handgun hours before the murders, prompting advocates to push for longer waiting periods for purchases. The gun debate also highlights a larger difficulty for Senate Democrats as they try to move forward on gun legislation and other policy priorities of the Biden White House. With the filibuster in place, forcing a 60-vote threshold for most legislation, House-passed bills on issues like gun control and voting rights are effectively nonstarters unless Democrats secure significant GOP support.
Democrats say they feel the environment around gun legislation has evolved, especially since that last major push in 2013. They point to troubles at the National Rifle Association, the long-powerful advocacy group that poured tens of millions of dollars into electing Donald Trump in 2016. The organization has been weakened by infighting as well as legal tangles over its finances. “This is the moment to make our stand. NOW,” tweeted Murphy as details of the Colorado shooting emerged Monday evening. “Today, our movement is stronger than the gun lobby. They are weak. We are potent. Finally, a President and a Congress that supports gun reform.” Democrats are hoping there is a gradual political shift among voters as well. A Pew Research Center poll in September 2019 showed a wide majority of Americans, 88%, supported making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to background checks, which is what the House-passed bill would do. Ninety-three percent of Democrats and 82% of Republicans were in favor of the policy.

Ready to discuss bringing petrol, diesel under GST at next Council meet

Amidst outcry over high taxes on motor fuel, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said she would be “glad” to discuss the suggestion of bringing petrol and diesel under the ambit of the Goods and Services Tax at the next meeting of the GST Council. State levies and central excise duty account for more than half of the retail selling prices of petrol and diesel. For instance, taxes make up for 60 per cent of the present retail price of petrol of Rs 91.17 a litre in Delhi. Excise duty constitutes 36 per cent of the retail price. Over 53 per cent of the retail selling price of Rs 81.47 a litre for diesel in Delhi is made up of taxes. As much as 39 per cent of the retail price comprises central excise. Sitharaman said both the centre as well as state governments levy taxes on petrol and diesel.
However, the Centre shares its collection on the fuel with states. The GST Council, headed by Union Finance Minister and comprising state finance ministers, is the highest decision-making body regarding GST. Earlier in the day, members from the Opposition benches said high prices of diesel, petrol and LPG were hurting the common man across the country and asked the government to reduce their rates. Petrol and diesel prices are hovering at historic highs following a relentless increase in rates over the past nine months.
There have been calls by Opposition parties as well as sections of society to reduce excise duty to ease consumer pain. Supriya Sule (NCP) said the excise component in the prices of petrol is close to Rs 38 per litre while state value-added tax (VAT) is about Rs 19 per litre in Delhi. The government should consider slashing this high excise duty, she said. She urged the government to bring down prices of petrol, diesel and LPG cylinder. Ritesh Pandey (BSP) and Nama Nageswara Rao (TRS) too raised the issue of high prices of petrol and diesel. It is expected that this could reduce the price of petrol in the next GST meet but at the same time, it is a fall in government revenue and an increase in the deficit of the government so such a measure must only be taken after a thorough discussion and in no case should it be politicized to their advantage by any party to ensure a fair ruling in this matter.



Liberal v/s Radical Secularism in the Indian Context

In 2020, President Emmanuel Macron’s reaction to the terror attack outside Charlie Hebdo’s old office received sharp criticism from the Islamic world and the American-Anglo media. What his words and the French republic’s reaction did is open up a debate on liberal and radical secularism in western society. Since India’s independence in 1947, we have been grappling with the idea of secularism and its practices. Whether it’s the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code, the demand for states based on religious lines such as Kashmir or Khalistan, or the Babri Masjid demolition of 1992 – what we clearly know by now is that the Indian state does not know how to deal with religion and secularism. Let’s delve deeper to understand why.

Liberal secularism is the belief in separating religion from political discourse. It believes that religion is personal and as a cultural aspect, it must be accepted as an individual choice of how one wishes to follow it. In other words, it is democratic and free. In a democracy, it is very important for individuals to retain personal freedom in how they identify themselves and if that identity is based on religion, they should have the freedom to follow it. Radical secularism is the complete opposite – it is undemocratic and believes in removing religion completely from the public sphere. To many, especially in the case of France, radical secularism should not be practiced since it prevents minorities from having their separate identity in a multi-cultural society. 


Covid Immunisation- Where does India stand?

The novel corona virus or Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on this whole world. The contagion has brawny ramifications in every sphere of life from health care to education to the real estate industry. With the contagion spreading, various medical researchers were all set to the task of developing an effective vaccine, in which they were at-last successful although their efficacies are debatable.

Universal vaccination programmes have eliminated innumerable afflictions ranging from small pox to measles to polio. But in a short span of time the world will witness one of the most anticipated and challenging events of the year 2020 – ‘The great COVID-19 vaccination errand’.

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