Rs4 lakh crore for a Clean India with more than Rs50,000 crore each year for Panchayats!

These are numbers being bandied about by the Modi government. Are they real? Where will the money come from?


Nitin Gadkari, the union minister for Rural Development and Drinking Water and Sanitation on Wednesday announced a grant of Rs20 lakh for each village in the country every year until 2 October 2019. Considering there are about 2.65 lakh gram panchayats in the country (2002 estimate), this translates into an additional expenditure of over Rs53,000 crore every year or about Rs2.65 lakh crore for next five years on the exchequer. This is in addition to Rs1.34 lakh crore, Gadkari's Ministry is spending for building toilets across the country. Both put together is about Rs4 lakh crore. The question is can India or better, can taxpayers afford this additional burden and where will the money come from?


India's weak public finances are manifested in a long history of general government fiscal deficits, averaging 8.8% of GDP over the past 20 years. There is an accumulated net general government debt stock of close to 70% of GDP. Prior governments have not been able to broaden India's revenue base (with general government revenue at about 21% of GDP, of which only half are taxes) or trim expenditure. India's budget is saddled with extensive subsidies for food, energy, and fertiliser.


According to a report from Reuters, India's fiscal deficit during the April-August 2014 was about Rs3.98 lakh crore or about 75% of the country's full year target. Net tax receipts were at Rs1.85 lakh crore during the first five months of the current fiscal that ends in March 2015, the report says.


Almost every minister in the Narendra Modi cabinet is seen making big announcement for spending public money without even thinking on resource mobilisation. Nobody is talking about increasing government resources or revenues but ministers are more eager to spend taxpayers’ money under public facilities.


Gadkari, often labelled in Maharashtra politics as 'flyover man' for initiating flyovers in the state, had already said that his ministry would spend over Rs1.34 crore for constructing over 11.11 crore toilets in the country over next five years. Piyush Goyal, another minister in the Modi government also announced that public sector units (PSUs) under his control would build about one lakh toilets in schools.


Last week, while revising India's outlook to 'stable' from 'negative' ratings agency Standards and Poor's (S&P) had said the country's fiscal and debt metrics are set to remain key rating constraints for some time. "We project net general government debt to decline to below 60% of GDP by the year ending March 2018, and with it, general government interest rate expense to just under 20% of revenues. A faster pace of deficit and debt reduction is unlikely in our view," the ratings agency said while affirming a 'BBB minus' rating on India.


Will S&P be forced to recalculate its numbers, given how Modi government is splurging money when no system of accountability has been put in place?




3 years ago

Never underestimate Nitin just recall inspite being in opposition he and Ajit cleaned off more than Rs 40,000 crores in irrigation projects so it ispossible he will exhaust the 5 year budget in next 2 years itself

Book Review of 'Asset Rotation'
A strategy of buying the winning sectors, to beat the market index
For decades, US stock markets have provided a template of how to make money from stocks: you simply buy and hold stocks of large companies, for the long term. Then came the decade of 2000 when the faith in ‘buy & hold’ was shaken. The S&P500, a popular index of 500 stocks, hit a high of 1,553 in March 2000 and crashed to 768 in December 2001. 
Then, it soared to 1,576 in December 2007 and crashed to 675 in March 2009. By the end of the decade, it was at 1,115, a 30% decline from the 2000 peak. The index had hit 1,110 for the first time in March 1998. This means that the index delivered no gains over 13 years. The mantra of buy & hold shares yielded little—even assuming that you could keep the faith in the mantra during the two gut-wrenching 50%+ declines, in the interim.
This has sent a lot of serious people back to their drawing boards. If buy & hold was not the right strategy, what was? The new mantra is sector rotation using exchange-traded funds which are exceptionally low-cost compared to mutual funds. They also remove the bias of stock selection. You only need to move in and out of sectors that are strong. 
The theory is as follows. During various points in the economic cycle, one can expect certain sectors to lag and others to outperform. There are nine major constituents of the S&P500: consumer discretionary, consumer staples, energy financials, healthcare, industrials, materials, technology and utilities. More cyclical sectors, like consumer discretionary, materials, industrials and energy, can be expected to lead during expansionary cycles, whereas, during a contraction, more defensive sectors, such as healthcare, consumes staples and utilities, will rotate into positions of leadership. 
If so, it only makes sense for an investor to participate in those sectors’ positive price momentum and to avoid those which are under pressure; in doing so, they could achieve market-beating returns. As the author Matthew P Erickson argues, “While the performance of the S&P500 as a whole often serves as a benchmark for stock market performance, the sectors that make up this index often have returns that are very dissimilar from it, and often very different from each other.”
For instance, in 1999, the technology sector was hot. While the S&P500 was up 21% that year, the technology sector was up over 65%. In 2000, when the tech bubble burst, the sector lost over 42%, while the S&P500 was down only 10%. Now, here is the shocker. In that year too, four sectors were up by 20%! Interestingly, these were the four worst-performing sectors in 1999. In 2001, losses in the US stock market were humongous. The S&P500 was down almost 12% and the tech sector was down another 23%; yet, there were two sectors with positive returns. The aim of this book is to make you aware of this approach—look for the winning sectors.
Add In Fixed Income
In years like 2000 and 2008, when all equity sectors are experiencing prolonged declines, there has always been a flight to safety: the US Treasury Bond. Whenever the stock market has experienced negative returns, the US Treasury Bond has always held up and, in most cases, actually achieved positive rates of return. For this reason, this asset class must be present in any asset rotation-based portfolio.
How to construct an asset-rotation portfolio? Start with two types of assets: risk assets and those that will provide safety. “The correlation between these two types of assets should be low, so that there is a greater chance that one is doing well when the other is not.” Ideally, there should be a negative correlation. 
It is also important that there are multiple risks assets within the eligibility list and these eligible securities should also possess a relatively low correlation to each other. The process would be to simply pick from what was up the most during the previous month. When less than five of the nine sectors of the market have a positive rate of return, the portfolio will rotate incrementally into fixed income. 
This is an interesting and a logical approach. However, it would take some time to implement in this country because we hardly have any sector ETFs. 


A place where she could study, laugh and make friends
AAWC seeks to empower the second generation to escape the cycle of prostitution
As a child, Shweta endured daily taunts about her dark skin and survived sexual abuse by her mother’s live-in partner. Yet, she thrived for eight years in AAWC’s (Apne Aap Women’s Collective) Udaan programme, where she was one of the only girls to come to the centre in the morning before school and again for regular after-school tuitions.  Today, Shweta is studying psychology at Bard College, USA and plans to return to Mumbai after her graduation to help other girls like herself escape the red light area. She remembers AAWC’s shelter as “A place where she could study, laugh, and make friends!” 
By providing services not only for women in prostitution but also for their daughters and young children, AAWC seeks to empower the second generation to escape the cycle of prostitution, secure well-paid skill-based jobs and, eventually, bring their mothers out of prostitution. 
Sudarshan Loyalka founded AAWC in 1998 as a women’s collective as an anti-trafficking organisation that serves the women and children of Kamathipura, the red-light area of Mumbai. Initially, a single-room drop-in centre, AAWC developed into a resource centre to address the women’s needs, providing them with professional counselling, medical care, micro-savings facilities and other services.
Today, it claims to provide almost everything that a mother can provide to the children, even as they grow up in Kamathipura. Manju Vyas, who joined AAWC in October 1998, has served as its director since April 1999. As its CEO, she has a professional team working with her, including women with a master’s degree in social work.
AAWC operates three programsme: Umeed for women in brothel-based prostitution (ages 18+), Udaan for daughters of Umeed members and other girls living in the red light area (ages 6-18), and Umang for toddlers of Umeed members (ages 2-5).
Since 1998, AAWC has served more than 2,800 women and children. Among AAWC’s VIP visitors has been Michelle Obama, in November 2010.
Apne Aap operates from two locations—Kamathipura, where they have a school and a night shelter, and Falkland Road where they have a school only. As you walk up to the Pochammadevi Temple in Kamathipura, you may still wonder about the location of the Apne Aap office. However, the bright pink entrance right opposite the temple and the excited squeals of the children within are landmarks enough,” says the newspaper DNA, describing the NGO’s work. 
Ashika Mehta, president of AAWC claims, “Not a single daughter from our NGO has gone into prostitution. And that’s something, because otherwise the chances are anywhere between 50% to 80%.” AAWC is also fortunate to have support from celebrities like actress Rani Mukerji and designers Anju Modi, Surily Goel, Atsu and Reema Zaveri, among others.
Interestingly, The Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon (SCMM) is an important fund-raising platform for AAWC, since 2009. You too can contribute to its work by volunteering, partnering or donating to AAWC. Cheques in any currency can be made in favour of Apne Aap Women’s Collective and sent with a covering letter stating: (i) PAN (ii) full address (iii) email address and (iv) purpose of the donation (e.g., general purpose, Udaan, etc). Indian donors are entitled to tax benefits under Section 80 G of the Income-Tax Act.



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