Economy
Slowing growth, high inflation make macro outlook weak: Fitch

“The current macroeconomic outlook looks weak, as real GDP continues to slow and inflation pressures remain strong,” the agency Fitch said in a report on sovereign ratings across the Asia-Pacific

 
Mumbai: Ratings agency Fitch, which in June cut its outlook of the India’s sovereign rating to negative, said the macro-economic situation continues to remain weak with slower growth and inflationary pressures, reports PTI.
 
“The current macro-economic outlook looks weak, as real GDP (gross domestic product) continues to slow and inflation pressures remain strong,” the agency said in a report on sovereign ratings across the Asia-Pacific.
 
All the rating agencies have revised their outlook on India in the present period of heightened economic worries and “policy paralysis”. A host of private analysts have revised downwards GDP forecast for the current fiscal to a low of 5.1%.
 
Fitch’s rival S&P had threatened to downgrade the rating to junk status, calling for immediate course-correction.
 
According to a recent report, the finance ministry is planning to present the country’s strengths to the rating agencies when they come calling this month, to avoid downgrade.
 
Fitch said the country’s external position is a “rating strength” with reserves of over $290 billion at the end of June which will suffice for six months of external payments.
 
“This still provides a key buffer during periods of higher global risk aversion,” it added.
 
Fitch also noted that acceleration in economic reforms and improving investment climate are the upsides, while a lax fiscal policy, especially in the run-up to the 2014 general elections, is the downside risk.
 

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Allocation of natural and scarce resources by the government needs to be improved

"There is a fundamental flaw in the first-come-first-served policy as it involves an element of pure chance or accident,” Supreme Court judgement on 2G spectrum allocation by the government

 
The lesson learnt from the 2G second generation) spectrum allocation scam is leading to an improvement in government thinking and policy-making in the allocation of natural and scarce resources. The latest development in this regard were questions raised in the Rajya Sabha by Rajeev Chandrasekhar, an independent Member of Parliament: (a) Whether the government proposes to discontinue the First-Come-First-Served (FCFS) policy for allocation of all natural/scarce resources, in line with the recent Supreme Court judgement on the 2G spectrum allocation scam dated 2 February 2012; (b) if so, by when is the new policy framework and guidelines in this regard expected; and (c) “if not, the reasons therefor?”
 
In reply, minister of state in the ministry of finance, Namo Narain Meena, has placed a statement on the table of the House (Rajya Sabha). The salient points of the statement are as follows:
 
The Supreme Court, while quashing the licenses in the 2G spectrum allocation, observed, “There is a fundamental flaw in the first-come-first served policy as it involves an element of pure chance or accident.” The court further said that in matters involving award of contracts or grant of license or permission to use public property, it has dangerous implications. If the public authority does not adopt a transparent and fair method for making selections, there is a risk. Any person who has access to the power corridor at the highest or lowest level may be able to obtain information from the government files or the files of the agency that a contract is likely to be awarded or a license or permission is likely to be given, he would immediately make an application and would become entitled to stand first in the queue at the cost of all others who may have a better claim.”
 
Pinning the responsibility on the government in this matter, the Supreme Court has stated, “The State must always adopt a rational method for disposal of public property and no attempt should be made to scuttle the claim of worthy applicants.” Further, “It is the burden of the State to ensure that a non-discriminatory method is adopted for distribution, which would naturally result in protection of national and public interest.”
 
The Supreme Court has also suggested that in its view, a duly publicised auction conducted, fairly and impartially, is perhaps, the best method for discharging this burden. Other methods, like first-come-first-served, are likely to be “misused by unscrupulous people, who are only interested in garnering maximum financial benefit and have no respect for the constitutional ethos and values,” observed the Supreme Court.
 
The Supreme Court sums it up with the words, “While transferring or alienating the natural resources, the State is duty bound to adopt the method of auction by giving wide publicity so that all eligible persons can participate in the process.”
 
The minister Meena has replied further that in the context of the Supreme Court order, the government has filed a Special Reference No.1 of 2012 under Article 143 (1) of the Constitution of India seeking the following clarifications from the Supreme Court:
(a) Whether the only permissible method for disposal of all natural resources across all sectors and in all circumstances is by the conduct of auctions?
 
(b) Whether a broad proposition of law that only the route of auctions can be resorted to? Does it not run contrary to several judgements of the Supreme Court including those of larger benches?
 
(c) Does the auction policy have the effect of unsettling policy decisions formulated and approaches taken by successive governments for valid considerations, including lack of public resources and the need to resort to innovative approaches for the development of various sectors of the economy?
 
(d) What is the permissible scope for interference by courts with policy making by the government including methods for disposal of natural resources?
 
Having raised these questions, the minister has concluded in his reply that the hearing in the Special Reference has concluded on 16 August 2012 and the judgement has been reserved.
 
We await further developments in this regard, with both the ministry and the Supreme Court working towards an improvement in policy on the allocation of natural and scarce resources. 
 

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Lighting Up Lives

Blindness has not prevented Bhavesh Bhatia from setting up Sunrise Candles which allows  him to light up lives of handicapped people employed by him

 
Going from partial blindness at birth to complete blindness, Bhavesh Bhatia experienced the slow and painful process of watching the light go out of his life. It was in 1997 that the retinal macular degeneration that he suffered from, finally, led to complete blindness. But, he had studied hotel management after graduating in economics and was working as a hotel manager for over 13 years at Mahabaleshwar, Maharashtra’s best-known hill-station. He was also married, had a young son and a very encouraging wife who was determined to support his effort at rebuilding his life. It was then that he was struck with the idea of spreading light in the lives of others. He learnt that NAB (National Association of the Blind, Worli, Mumbai) has a rehabilitation division to help people who turn blind after the age of 16. From among the various training options offered by NAB, Bhavesh chose to learn candle-making. 
 
But it wasn’t easy. Niraj Chandan, who helped him in the early days, says, “I met Bhavesh Bhatia five years ago. He had put up a stall to sell candles near a church in Mahabaleshwar.” Niraj went to Bhavesh’s house where he made the candles. “I could not believe my eyes. He was doing it so well. I took photographs with my digital camera and put up a small website— 
www.sunrisecandles.in. We advertised on Google and started getting lot of orders.” Then things began to change. A couple of years ago, Bhavesh got a piece of land from a friend and another friend, a contractor, built a small candle-making centre there.” That is how Sunrise Candles manages to operate on a commercial scale producing over 6,000 candles in a month. These include pillar candles, floating candles, unique novelty candles, gel candles, toy-shaped candles and interesting gift basket candles which are all displayed on the website. 
 
Having to face the daily ordeals of life, on 
26 May 2012, Bhavesh decided to start a coaching centre called the ‘Wax Museum’ on a 4,000sq-ft space at Moleshwar village, 7km from Mahabaleshwar. Here, he trains physically-challenged persons in the art of candle-making, free of cost. Depending on their aptitude and nature of disability, they are trained in finishing, packaging or marketing. Sunrise also has 65 blind and handicapped employees.  
 
Over time, the good work has been recognised and rewarded in many ways. Bhavesh has participated in several exhibitions, including one at the Dhirubhai Ambani International School, and won several awards. He has been working actively with NAB. He has received several prestigious awards for his entrepreneurship and social work. He represents issues pertaining to the blind on a number of state committees. Interestingly, Bhatia’s life is not about candle-making alone. What is unique about him is his keen interest and excellence in sports. At the National Para-Olympics held at Bengaluru recently, he won the gold medal for shot-put and the silver medal for discus throw. He is also a keen swimmer and has innumerable sporting achievements at the district and state level as well. Bhavesh lives with his wife Neeta and son Kunal in Mahabaleshwar. If you want to support his work, order his candles or help with outreach, you can contact him through Sunrise Candles at the address given on the left. 
 
(Sunrise Candles, C/o RK Wadi, Mahabaleshwar, District Satara, Maharashtra
Mobile: +91 9850600634 / +91 9422034729)

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