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Headline inflation falls to 8-month low at 9.22% in July

In his Independence Day address to the nation on Monday, prime minister Manmohan Singh said that sometimes the reasons for price rise lay outside the country and added that the government's efforts to tame inflation have not met with lasting success

New Delhi: Headline inflation declined to an eight-month low of 9.22% in July as the rate of price rise in food articles and petro-products eased, though pressure remained on manufactured items, reports PTI.

Inflation, as measured by the Wholesale Price Index (WPI), stood at 9.44% in June. It was 9.98% in July 2010.

As per data released by the government on Tuesday, the overall inflation figure for May this year has been revised upward to 9.56% from the provisional estimate of 9.06%.

On an annual basis, prices of food articles went up by 8.19% in July, which is lower than the 8.38% inflation recorded in June.

Inflation in overall primary articles, which have a share of over 20% in the WPI basket, stood at 11.30% in July, down from 12.22% in June.

However, prices of manufactured products, which have a weight of around 65% in the WPI basket, went up by 7.49% year-on-year in July.

Inflation in manufactured products has been steadily rising since February this year, when it crossed the 6% mark. It was 7.43% in June.

The index for the fuel and power segment stood at 12.04% year-on-year in July, down from 12.85% in the previous month. The index has a weight of almost 15% in the WPI basket.

In addition, inflation in non-food primary articles moderated to 15.51% in July from 18.57% in June.

The July inflation number is the lowest in eight months. The previous low of 8.20% was reported in November 2010.

Although the headline inflation numbers for July have shown signs of moderation, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is unlikely to take a breather on its monetary tightening policy as there is no respite in the rate of price rise in manufactured items.

This was the eighth consecutive month in which headline inflation has remained above the 9% mark.

In his Independence Day address to the nation yesterday, prime minister Manmohan Singh said that sometimes the reasons for price rise lay outside the country and added that the government's efforts to tame inflation have not met with lasting success.

"The prices of petroleum products, foodgrains and edible oil have risen steeply in international markets in recent times. Since we import these products in large quantities, any rise in their prices adds to inflationary pressure in our country," Mr Singh said.

Noting that sometimes the reasons for rising prices lay outside the country, Mr Singh stressed that the government would consider new steps to arrest rising inflation.

However, the latest numbers are in line with the RBI's projection of a high inflation rate in the first half of the fiscal.

In its monetary policy for 2011-12, the central bank had said that continued high prices of global commodities, particularly oil, would continue to drive the rate of price rise.

The RBI had projected inflation to average 9% for the first six months of 2011-12 before moderating to around 7% by March-end


Anna Hazare in police custody, begins hunger protest for a strong Lokpal

Gandhian says “second freedom struggle” has begun, calls on people not to allow anti-corruption agitation to die. Team Anna says detention a “return of emergency”. Political parties condemn arrest as anti-democratic

New Delhi: Anna Hazare, who was picked up by police from a residence in east Delhi's Mayur Vihar area this morning, began his scheduled hunger protest for a strong Lokpal, within hours of being taken into police custody.

According to members of Mr Hazare's team, the Gandhian leader was on fast at a police facility in north Delhi where he was taken this morning. "He is on fast. He is not even taking water," a spokesperson for Team Anna said.

The 73-year-old Gandhian was detained at about 7.30am, apparently for threatening to go ahead with his planned hunger protest at the Jayprakash Narain Park venue, defying prohibitory orders. His close associates Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi and Shanti Bhushan were also detained.

Yesterday, Mr Hazare announced that he would begin an indefinite fast from Tuesday to demand the withdrawal of the "weak" Lokpal Bill and the adoption of a strong legislation to fight corruption.

Describing his detention by police as the beginning of the "second freedom struggle", Mr Hazare called on people to participate in a "jail bharo" agitation. "My dear countrymen, a second freedom struggle has begun and now I have also been arrested. But will this movement be stopped by my arrest. No, not at all. Don't let it happen," Mr Hazare said in a pre-recorded message.

The detentions have been condemned by various political parties as an attack on the democratic rights of citizens. Spontaneous protests were reported from Pune, Jaipur and parts of Kerala and even from Mr Hazare's hometown of Ahmednagar.

"This is a return of emergency without official proclamation. What crime did Anna commit? Unless we unite, we will be imposed by a defective Lokpal which protects corruption. We now need solutions not statements of intentions," Kiran Bedi, one of the key associates of Mr Hazare, told the Press Trust of India.

In parliament, the Bharatiya Janata Party gave notice in the Rajya Sabha for the suspension of Question Hour to discuss the issue, while the Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day after an uproar over Mr Hazare's detention.

"I think it is a very sad day for Indian democracy. You cannot take away the right to protest and the right to dissent... this we have never seen earlier. This is completely unprecedented," said Arun Jaitley, leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha.

Senior Bhartiya Janata Party leader LK Advani said he was not surprised at the detention of Mr Hazare and he charged the government with looking for scapegoats and stopping peaceful protests instead of fighting corruption.

"I am not surprised at this development. This is the direction in which this government is moving. Instead of dealing with the problem of corruption and owning responsibility it is trying to find scapegoats and stopping peaceful protests," Mr Advani told the Press Trust of India.

Condemning the police action, senior Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Brinda Karat termed it as an "attack" on democratic rights of the people. "We condemn the arrest of Mr Hazare and his team and the ban on their hunger protest. We consider it as an attack on the democratic rights of citizens," she said.

Home secretary RK Singh said Mr Hazare was detained because he had said that he intended to defy prohibitory orders and sit on fast at JP Park, in central Delhi. Delhi Police has not granted permission for the protest saying the protestors would be allowed to undertake the agitation only if they abide by a list of 22 conditions.

Mr Hazare's aides Kiran Bedi and Arvind Kejriwal were detained outside Rajghat. Lawyer Shanti Bhushan was also picked up. "We will move the Supreme Court," Prashant Bhushan, lawyer and close associate of Mr Hazare, told the Press Trust of India.

Describing the police action as "totally undemocratic", the lawyer said the action showed that the government has no regard for fundamental rights of the citizens. "The time has come to rise up against this government. We appeal to people to protest against the government peacefully," Mr Bhushan said.

Noted theatre personality and ad man Alyque Padamsee said on twitter, "I think it's a mistake on the government's part to stop Anna. It's not British Raj, it's ridiculous to arrest him."


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