GDP data disappointing; need to work hard: FM

"There is no room for complacency. We shall have to work very hard-government, industry-and I am confident that our workers and farmers would make their contribution in ensuring growth with inclusion," finance minister Pranab Mukherjee pointed

New Delhi: The government on Tuesday expressed disappointment over the slowdown in the country's gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate and said hard work is needed by all sections, including industry and farmers, to ensure inclusive growth, keeping in mind uncertainty over the global economy and monsoon, reports PTI.

"... It is no doubt disappointing," finance minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters while commenting on GDP data for the April-June quarter, which showed that growth of the country's economy slowed down to 7.7% in the first quarter of FY11-12 from 8.8% in the corresponding year-ago period.

He said there was no room for complacency and everyone, including the government, industry and farming community, will have work hard.

"There is no room for complacency. We shall have to work very hard-government, industry-and I am confident that our workers and farmers would make their contribution in ensuring growth with inclusion," he said, adding that one of the important ingredients is creation of more jobs.

Expressing hope that the growth rate would pick up again, Mr Mukherjee said, "We shall have to keep in mind that there are still some areas of uncertainty-uncertainty in global scenario, uncertainty, of course monsoon is not yet over, last leg is yet to be over."

While the GDP growth figure is disappointing, Mr Mukherjee said there was a 'silver lining' to the country's economic performance, as 27.7 million jobs were created between 2005 and 2010.

Furthermore, there was 7.9% year-on-year increase in overall investments during the first quarter this fiscal, compared to a 0.4% rise in the corresponding year-ago period, which is encouraging, he said.

Mr Mukherjee said he was expecting a higher growth rate in the first quarter, but given various factors-including the overall international scenario and the muted recovery in Europe and the US-the situation in India is "not that much disappointing".

He hoped that the GDP growth rate would recover by the end of the fiscal, but refused to project any figure.

"When the final figures for year will be available, there may be a recovery... Of course (I am) not going to just now make any projections what would be the final figures for the year," he said.

Referring to the growth in employment opportunities, Mr Mukherjee said those 'propagating' the view that this was jobless growth are wrong.

"... is not absolutely correct. They are wrong," he said.

However, at the same time, the finance minister said there should be more growth in employment generation.


Decline in early onion crop sets off speculation over possible price rise

There has been 10%-15% lower production in the early kharif crop due to erratic rainfall. However, experts believe there is no need to panic as this is only a fifth of the annual production and there is plenty of stock 

Early kharif crop production from the country's largest onion producing region of Nashik has declined by 10%-15% from that last year, due to erratic and scanty rainfall. But experts believe that this should not impact wholesale prices much, although speculation of possible supply shortage could see retail prices rise.

The early kharif crop contributes about a fifth of the annual onion production. Onion prices in the Mumbai wholesale market currently are in the range of Rs10-15/kg and in the retail market between Rs17 and Rs20 a kg.

Dr RP Gupta, director, National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation (NHRDF), told Moneylife, "This year the early kharif onion production from the Nashik region dropped by 10%-15% due to of erratic and scanty rainfall. But there is not need to panic, for there won't be any supply shortage as there is a stock of around 29lakh metric tonnes. Out of this only 30%-35% has reached the market."

NHRDF monitors onion prices and market arrivals on a daily basis.

Commenting on the prices, Mr Gupta explained, "The wholesale prices are stable, its only retailers who are charging high prices on anticipation of supply shortage."

But traders feel prices at the wholesale market may also shoot up by the end of next month. Ashok Walunj, director at the onion and potato market at APMC, Vashi, says, "Prices in the wholesale market might go up to Rs20-Rs22 from the current Rs10-Rs15, after the Ganesh festival, if there is shortage. Currently, there is no new crop available in the market."

"At present, the wholesale prices are stable. It's the retailers who charge extra for their margins. If heavy rains continue, it could impact the crop and prices (wholesale) might increase. But it will only surge from October," says a trader from the Vashi market.

Panvel-based trader S Altamash, of Gemini Trading, disagrees, saying that prices will not increase. "Farmers from Nashik are unwilling to bring their produce in the market in anticipation of good returns. But with the arrival of rains they had to sell their produce on the fear of crop damage. So there is adequate storage and supply of onions," he says.


Santosh Hegde: In Sept 2010, parliament cleared 17 bills in 12 minutes, one of them was to dilute the Prevention of Corruption Act

The former SC judge says Team Anna had no intention of taking the government head-on over the Lokpal issue, but it was compelled to do so because of its stubborn claim of ‘parliamentary supremacy’. Justice Hegde who was a key member of the joint drafting committee, has urged people to continue the fight for the proper use of the country’s wealth and resources

For some reason the three sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act which Parliament was set to dilute in terms of going soft on prosecution of government officers, who indulged in corruption and illegal commercial transactions, did not go to the Rajya Sabha. Otherwise, this amendment (along with the 17 bills that were passed in 12 minutes on a single day in September 2010), would have showed that the political class sitting in Parliament, which pompously boasts about 'parliamentary supremacy', was not interested in removing corruption, but was in fact keen to condone it, says Santosh Hegde, member of the joint drafting committee of the Lokpal Bill.

Justice Hegde made these remarks during a public lecture he delivered at the Nehru Memorial Hall in Pune on Monday, at the invitation of the chartered accountants fraternity, a day after Anna Hazare broke his 13-day fast for a strong anti-corruption law.

He referred to a report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, saying, "According to the 2008-09 CAG report, in one single year Rs54,000 crore, which was to be spent on eight rural development schemes like midday meal, water supply and so on, are not accounted for. Where has the money been siphoned off that would have enhanced the quality of life of thousands of villages? Isn't it time to bring in a strong legislation against such large-scale corruption?''Mr Hegde asked.

The former judge of the Supreme Court also made a pointed reference to the Reliance KG Basin oil deal as likely to become larger than the 2G scam, to make a strong legislation against corruption the topmost priority.

He said, "The first administrative reforms were made in 1962, when Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was prime minister. Only 14 years after Independence, the need was felt to control decay in the administration. We chose the Scandinavian system of having an ombudsman and it was at that time that it was recommended to have an institution called the Lokpal at the centre and Lokayukta at the state level. But the proposal gathered dust, until in 1984, Ramkrishna Hegde became chief minister of Karnataka and promised value-based governance, and he fulfilled the promise by instituting the Lokayukta at the state level and it became an Act in 1986. However, the government at the centre slept over the issue for 48 years.''
In the context of the scams that were busted in 2010, Justice Hegde said, "Some members in civil society decided to draft a bill and have a discussion with the government. However, the government was unwilling. Anna Hazare sent a letter in February 2011, but there was no reply. It is only when he began his fast in April that the law ministry said the letter sent to the prime minister was misplaced and that we should send another copy. On the third day, an emissary was sent, but Anna insisted that a notification be issued and thus was born the joint drafting committee.''

Justice Hegde, who completed his term as Lokayukta of Karnataka earlier this month, mentioned how all the nine meetings of the joint drafting committee for a strong Lokpal Bill failed, as the government representatives on the committee said a singular "no" or "keep it in brackets" (meaning, "we will see"). Due to this stubborn attitude of the government to stall a strong legislation, that Anna Hazare was compelled to go on a fast a second time. Thereafter, Justice Hegde said, some government representatives even started questioning the credibility of Team Anna, with statements like 'Who are you-the unelectable and the unelected-to tell us how to have a law?' Look at the audacity of these parliamentarians who have changed the meaning of democracy, which in the right essence is by the people, for the people and of the people!''

Urging the people to undertake a mass education campaign on the Jan Lokpal Bill, Justice Hegde said people should not forget the humiliation meted out to the people of India by politicians, and if they meet any of them they should ask them, "Do you know who I am? I am a citizen of India and so I hold the highest office."

Justice Hegde concluded by saying that he felt nostalgic when Anna broke his fast on 28th August. "I was seven years old when my parents took me to a public ground when India attained freedom on 15 August 1947. I felt the same sense of pride and patriotism when Anna broke his fast.''

Asked about his disagreement with Team Anna over Mr Hazare's fast, Justice Hegde said, "I was worried about Anna's health".



Rambabu Shastri

5 years ago

Parliamentary supremacy in today's India means, absolute arrogance of power in the hands of the 'elected', who think they are all powerful. It is no surprise that under the garb of parliamentary supremacy, 17 bills get passed in 12 minutes. That too, in the interest of politicians and the corrupt.

Nitin Kirtane

5 years ago

We need honest people like Justice Hedge to fight this system as he is worried about our people and wants to clean the system , another excellent article by Mrs Deshmukh again , keep up the good work ,

Brig Narinder Dhand

5 years ago

Truly, the ushering in of a Strong LOKPAL will be the new Independance for "We the People of India".
We bow our heads to ANNA and his team for saving the country men from these corruption Hawks.

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