Housing finance: An opportunity in a storm (Column: Behind Infra Lines)(14:38) By Taponeel Mukherjee The recent NBFC (Non-Banking Financial Company) crisis in India has brought to the fore the funding and low equity capitalisation issues, especially of the housing finance company (HFC) sector. The problems are serious, and therefore the regulators and NBFCs have rightly themselves sprung into action to alleviate the situation.
What's the hitch in Congress leading post-poll coalition opposite BJP? (Comment)(13:38) By Saeed Naqvi The ghastly news from Kashmir did cast a shadow, otherwise Lucknow has had a festive February. The first week was filled with the five-day annual Sanatkada jamboree with fabled Baradari as the festooned focal point. While the mood still lingered, the city found itself riveted on Priyanka Gandhi's roadshow with her brother and Congress President Rahul Gandhi in tow.
Towards creating a healthier and more productive India (Column: Active Voice)(11:10) By Amit Kapoor The last four years of the Narendra Modi government have seen trajectory-altering policies and programmes covering a broad spectrum of areas, from Sagarmala targeting the waterways and coastline for enhancing port development and pushing the growth of coastal areas; to Digital India enabling online infrastructure and internet connectivity.
US, Russia and Blackwater mercenaries plot different futures for Afghanistan (Comment)(11:56) By Saeed Naqvi Two parallel peace processes on Afghanistan are underway. In Doha, Zalmay Khalilzad, US Special Representative for Afghanistan, has held extensive round of talks with Taliban leaders, spread over several days last month. The authorship of this process is, quite jealously, America's. But on February 5 and 6, Taliban and other Afghan political groups also met in Moscow. A roadmap for the future, titled the Moscow Declaration, was announced. Among its nine points is one which also suggests coordination with the Doha process - there is no jealous guarding of ownership of the peace process here. Anyone interested in peace is the joint author. The Declaration was immediately rubbished by the Presidential Palace in Kabul. "Moscow declaration will not have impact on the peace process in Afghanistan," said palace spokesman Haroon Chakhansuri.
Lead in spices, herbal remedies, ceremonial powders is highly injurious, particularly for children (Health Notes)(16:32) By Dr. K.S. Parthasarathy The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention has found that in North Carolina, 61 children of Asian descent (specifically, Indians, Pakistanis and Afghans) have elevated blood lead levels (BLLs). They used non-edible (kumkum, sindoor, surma) and edible(saffron, turmeric) items that had high lead levels. Some children ate Balgutti Kessaria (an Ayurvedic medicine) which contained very high lead levels. The CDC is diligently following up these cases.
India should start a Well-Being Index (Comment)(14:28) By Frank F. Islam 2018 was not a bad year in general for India. GDP growth has been relatively good, the Modi administration has launched several new initiatives, and Indias status and world image has strengthened. The problem is that these are all top-line measures and do not get down to how the Indian people are feeling.
You snooze you lose (Column: Close-in)(13:28) By Yajurvindra Singh The Indian cricket team having convincingly won the first three ODI matches of the 5 match series against New Zealand seemed to be a side, as Virat Kohli beautifully summed up, prior to his departure, "as a team on autopilot". With a successful tour in Australia and a scintillating initial performance in New Zealand, the Indian team looked like a well-oiled machine and the only thing missing was for them to learn the "Haka".
Should India be worried about Brexit?(Comment)(10:32) By Naresh Kaushik The clock is ticking. Britain is set to leave the European Union on March 29, less than two months from now. Itll crash out without a deal if the two sides fail to reach a fresh agreement following a new vote in the British parliament earlier this week. A no deal Brexit, which is now more likely than ever, will have catastrophic consequences for the British economy as many business leaders have warned. It will also hurt the European Union particularly its largest economy, Germany, which has a significant market for its products in Britain.
A budget that is good politics and economics rolled into one (Column: Active Voice)(11:34) By Amit Kapoor As was expected, the interim Budget presented by Piyush Goyal was not a traditional vote-on-account by any means. Contrary to the election-year convention, a full Budget was introduced by the government to pacify the voters. And it was undoubtedly a successful effort. Howsoever, the scales stood between the BJP and the opposition before Piyush Goyal began his Budget speech, they were tilted in favour of the former by the time he ended. The Budget has managed to appease a majority of the country through its populist leanings.
The Gandhi-Casey talks: The Mahatma's little-known Australian interlocutor(12:52) By Kama Maclean Richard Gardiner Casey is well known in Australia as one of its most eminent postwar statesmen. He served as its External Affairs Minister from 1951-60, forging Australia's foreign policy and later, at the end of his career, as its Governor-General. Little is known, however, about his role as Governor of Bengal from 1944-46. Indeed the announcement of his appointment in January 1944 was unexpected, for no Australian had been appointed to such high office in India.
Will the interim budget provide a lifeline to realty? (Comment)(12:48) By Vinod Behl In a way, this year's interim budget, the last from the present NDA government before the Lok Sabha elections, is set against a similar backdrop as its first (albeit not full) budget of 2014-15 when the real estate sector was reeling under a major financial crisis. As such, it is expected of the February 1 budget to provide a liquidity lifeline to revive the realty sector, recently hit by the crisis in the NBFCs that have been a major source of its funding.
Delhi finally recognises film industry (Column: IANS Insight: B-Town)(12:00) By Vinod Mirani If ever the film industry's existence has been acknowledged in India and its governments, it is now. The film industry made a representation to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while he was in Mumbai, to inaugurate the film museum at the Films Division property in South Mumbai, in December. Some concessions were sought on GST on cinema tickets and the response was instant; the request was granted. The GST slabs were reduced to 12 per cent from 18 per cent on tickets costing Rs 100 and 18 per cent from 28 per cent on other ticket rates. Such a response from Delhi to a film industry request was a never before event! The media and some critics in filmmaking did try to raise a controversy out of the occasion by complaining that only men met the Prime Minister and no woman was asked to accompany. Well, as far as one got the result, it was for both to enjoy, right?