Kochi, Sep 15 The desperation was written large on his face when fast bowler S. Sreesanth said, "call me and I will come and play cricket anywhere". Sreesanth, who was part of the 2007 World T20 and 2011 World Cup-winning Indian teams, made this statement after his seven-year ban ended recently. "I am speaking to agents in Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka as I want to play cricket at the club levels in these countries. My aim is to represent my country in the 2023 World Cup. Another wish is I want to play in a match at the Lords when the MCC plays the Rest of the World," he added. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had banned Sreesanth for life in August 2013 for his alleged involvement in the spot-fixing scandal that rocked the 2013 Indian Premier League (IPL). In 2015, however, a special court in Delhi acquitted him of all charges. In 2018, the Kerala High Court had struck down the life ban imposed on the cricketer by the BCCI and also quashed all proceedings against him. However, a division bench of the High Court restored the ban. Sreesanth then moved the Supreme Court against the order. And last year in March, the apex court upheld his guilt but asked the BCCI to reduce his quantum of punishment. The cricket board then reduced his life ban to seven years which came to an end on September 12 this month. The 37-year-old has so far played 27 Tests, 53 ODIs and 10 T20Is in which he taken 87, 75 and 7 wickets respectively. ians
London, Sep 11 Are you a binge drinker? Read this carefully. Researchers now claim that binge-drinkers' brains have to put more effort into trying to feel empathy for other people in pain. The study, published in the journal NeuroImage: Clinical, revealed that People who binge-drink show more extensive dysfunction across their brains than previously realised. "Our data show that binge-drinkers need to work harder to feel empathy for other people in pain. They need to use more resources in terms of higher brain activity than non-binge drinkers," said study author Charlotte Rae from the University of Sussex in the UK. "What this means in everyday life is that people who binge-drink might struggle to perceive the pain of others as easily as non-binge drinkers do," Rae added. The study involved 71 participants (from France and the UK) whose brain activity was observed in fMRI scanners while undertaking a pain perception task. Half of these people were classified as binge-drinkers and half were not. The binge-drinkers were sober while they were being observed. In the task, participants were shown an image of a limb being injured, and asked to imagine either that the body part was theirs, or that of another person, and to state how much pain was associated with the image. The binge-drinking participants struggled more than their non-binge-drinking counterparts when trying to adopt the perspective of another person experiencing the pain. They took more time to respond and the scans revealed that their brains had to work harder - to use more neural resources - to appreciate how intensely another person would feel pain. The study also revealed a more widespread dysfunction than previously realised; a visual area of the brain, which is involved in recognising body parts, showed unusually high levels of activation in the binge-drinkers. This was not true in the non-binge drinkers who looked at the same images. When the binge-drinkers were asked to imagine the injured body part in the picture as their own, their pain estimate was not different from that of their non-binge drinking counterparts. "We have shown with this study that dysfunction associated with binge drinking is even more extensive than previously known," said study author Theodora Duka from University of Sussex. "Reduced empathy in binge drinkers may facilitate drinking as it can blunt the perception of suffering of self or others during a drinking session," Duka noted. ians
Every profession, except that of lawyers and doctors, has a retirement age and there comes a time when you need to bow out. World is getting younger and so should the elders if they want to survive the progressive world before them. Technology is changing fast and generations whether young or the old needs to keep pace and adapt to the changes brought forth by technology. Many are trying to keep themselves fitter and mentally sharper and though their bodies are aging but minds are sharp and they can access information at the click of a finger. In corporate world retirement age forces one to end one’s career even if one is fit mentally and physically to continue further. This is to give youngsters a chance and bring fresh ideas to the table. Passion plus interest is the new modus operandi and people are making their living by following their dreams. In sports as one used to age the opportunities were limited and he used to be alone in his retirement but today things are changing. There are fitness regimes, diet control to prolong careers and even look for alternative careers. In cricket for example, there is good money, it is a big business. Yuvraj Singh has been a very successful Indian cricketer and when he announced retirement a year ago, one felt he deserved to finally rest and relax. A year in oblivion was enough to draw him back to his favorite sport. He has requested the BCCI to grant him permission to play domestic cricket again as he wants to represent his home state Punjab. Players such as Yuvraj, Dhoni, Raina and so many of the other senior lot of cricketers who have retired, or are on the verge of retirement, need to be encouraged to continue doing service to cricket for their state associations. The BCCI should allow them to play T20 league cricket tournaments around the world, if they so desire, once they have officially retired from representing the country.
September 8 is celebrated across the world as the International Literacy Day to promote importance of literacy and to further the cause of a literate and sustainable society. The first-ever international literacy day was declared in the year 1966 on occasion of the 14th session of UNESCO’s general conference. Importance of literacy for individuals, communities and societies and the creation of more literate societies was set as the primary goal. As per UNESCO, literacy challenges persist in over 770 million adults all over the world even today. More than 600 million children and adolescents do not have minimum proficiency levels in reading and writing. This year, International Literacy Day 2020 focuses on literacy teaching and learning amidst the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond. Focus is on the role of educators and pedagogies. International Literacy Day 2020 focuses on youth and adults highlight the importance of learning as a lifelong mission. The gap between policy discourse and reality was brought to notice among educators during the pandemic. International Literacy Day 2020 organized by UNESCO digitally aims to reflect on innovative and effective pedagogies and teaching methodologies for youth and adult programmes. Speaking about the importance of literacy and the International Literacy Day 2020, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, Vice President of India said, “Literacy plays an important role in empowering and transforming the lives of individuals and society. On International Literacy Day, let's resolve to create a self-reliant, self-confident and competent Bharat that is literate, educated and empowered.” Minister of Education, Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal tweeted: “There can be no joy greater than reading and no friend greater than knowledge" Hon'ble PM Shri @narendramodi On this #InternationalLiteracyDay, we promise to work towards achieving 100% literacy by complying with the reforms within the National Education Policy 2020.”
Mumbai, Sep 7 A priceless gift from a friend in Kerala, a Namboodiri to boot, is a film to augment my collection which has sustained my personal film festival to beat the unintelligible lockdown. The film, Agraharathil Kazhutai, or Donkey in a Brahmin Village, was a pleasant shock not because of the title, but its authorship. The film is listed as one of the masterly satires by the late John Abraham. A baby donkey, whose mother has been beaten to death for reasons unknown, strays onto the doorstep of a tall, lanky professor of Philosophy in a local college. The donkey in the bachelor professor's house leads to amusement, gossip, graffiti until the principal, a stern looking pastor, informs the professor that his hospitality towards the donkey was affecting the college's reputation. The professor carts the donkey by bus and bullock cart to the Agraharam or the Brahmin village where his parents live. A deaf and mute maidservant looks after the donkey. The maid has an affair with the village washerman, delivers a still-born male child which is left outside the temple. The Chief Priest declares it the most dreadful omen, unanimously attributed by the elders to the donkey's presence in the village. The animal is beaten to death, followed by a series of unfortunate events which the Agraharam, on second thoughts, blame on the fact that the donkey was killed in haste. A monument to the beast is planned. A wild fire dance burns much of the village leaving the professor and the maid contemplating the scene for its deeper significance. The reason for my focus on the film is not 'cinema', but the fact that someone with a name like John Abraham could satirize the Agraharam with such outrageous audacity. In my limited experience -- a day's visit -- the Agraharam was quite stately in its austerity. I saw no car on the street nor, in the middle of the day, was there any movement outside, dogs, cats, cattle, nothing. There is a lovely view of river Kalpathy below, like the Agraharam's private pond for a holy dip. Away from the road, on the stone seat were occasional bare bodied men, sporting the fattest janeyus I have seen. The visitor's room has a mural size painting of Palghat Mani Iyer, the great mridangam player and a local icon. The centre of the main hall is dominated by a swing; every square inch of the wall space is covered with Gods and Goddesses. At the end of the passage is a 'tulsi' plant in a decorated pot on a pedestal. The master of the house, a man of wit and music, had worn a shirt to appear hospitable. With amusement in his eyes, he showed us where he slept: on a narrow bed in the passage. And his wife? "On the floor right below me." He puts his head back and guffaws. But it is not quite so unequal. "She qualifies for the bed when she is unwell." I found it quaint, as an uncritical bird of passage would. But the Agraharam, like Peyton Place, would expose its darker side to a son of the soil, a few mohallas removed, like Abraham. It is all so refreshing this informality across faiths, this ability to tolerate irreverence without ill will. The most popular political prisoner in Adoor Gopalakrishnan's The Wall is Basheer, pining for Narayani on the other side of the wall and whom he has not seen. Adoor is quite unselfconscious about the fact that the protagonists belong to different faiths. My romance with 'God's own country' goes back to the 70s when I was editor of The Indian Express in the south. But a change has come upon me: earlier I admired Kerala, indeed much of the South; now I have begun to envy it. India was always ones country, but the basic affiliation was with Awadh of which Lucknow was the markaz or centre. Mir Taqi Mir talked of Delhi's destruction: "Dill jo ek shaher tha alam mein intekhab rehte thay muntakhib hi jahan rozgar ke Usko falak ne loot ke barbaad kar diya Hum rehne waley haen usi ujre dayar ke." (Delhi which was once the world's pride, where only those with good manners lived, Fortune turned upon the city, destroyed and looted it. In that desolate city did I once live) Replace Delhi with Awadh/Lucknow and you are somewhere near the root of those ogres in the mind. Lucknow, indeed Awadh, was generosity personified. Ram Advani from Sindh was embraced as Lucknow's very own. His bookshop was an incomparable cultural landmark. Among the Lucknavi's several quaint beliefs: to be a lawyer or a doctor, you had to be a Bengali first. For obvious reasons, Western enlightenment had come to Bengal first. Riding this belief, Bengali lawyers and doctors had easy passage in Lucknow. The intellectual life of Lucknow University was dominated for long stretches by Radha Kumud and Radha Kamal Mukherjee. Little wonder, when Satyajit Ray, soaked in Bengaliness, ventured out of Bengal, it was towards Lucknow he deviated with his superb Shatranj ke Khiladi. The ogres of the mind have been gestating for at least 30 years when the BJP and the Congress began to compete for the Hindu vote. The Congress chose to play both sides of the street. Once, V.P. Singh tossed the Mandal Commission into the simmering cauldron, the Hindutva brigade ran away with the platform of brazen anti Muslim Hindu consolidation, leaving the Congress sleeping by the lamp post with its soft saffron. There is a certain demoralization in the anti Hindutva ranks at the presumed invincibility of Narendra Modi, despite the country crashing on every count. This may well be a function of shrewd tactics: keep the media focus away from regions where the country still breathes easy. It may not be such a good thing, though, for national cohesion if different parts of the country do not fit into the same frame.
The week gone by began with a bang and markets gained on all five trading days. The BSESENSEX gained 1,032.59 points or 2.69 per cent to close at 39,467.31 points. NIFTY gained 276.00 points or 2.43 per cent to close at 11,647.60 points. The broader market saw BSE100, BSE200 and BSE500 gain 2.27 per cent, 2.30 per cent and 2.30 per cent, respectively. BSEMIDCAP was up 1.90 per cent while BSESMALLCAP was up 2.30 per cent. It appeared as if the markets were tiring out on Thursday and then the banking pack kicked in and took the markets up quite sharply. The top weekly gainers in the banking pack were Indus Ind up 27.93 per cent, AXIS Bank 15.82 per cent, SBI 13.36 per cent, ICICI Bank 10.40 per cent, Kotak Bank 9.55 per cent and Bandhan Bank 9.52 per cent. The BSEBANKEX itself was up 10.34 per cent. The Indian rupee registered sharp gains against the US dDollar and was up Rs 1.46 or 1.95 per cent at Rs 73.38 to the dollar. The week and month have seen strong inflows from FPI's into the capital markets and they have in August 2020, invested over Rs 46,000 crore so far. Dow Jones gained 723.54 points or 2.59 per cent to close at 28,653.87 points. Dow is now trading with gains of 0.40 per cent compared to the opening level of the calendar year and is back to the pre-Covid-19 levels of March 2020. August futures expired on Thursday on a quiet note. While the month or the series saw gains of 457.10 points or 4.12 per cent, Thursday itself was a quiet day and NIFTY gained under 10 points. This is the third consecutive month of gains for the indices. The FUTURE group has signed a massive deal with Reliance Industries which involves a complex merger and demerger of group companies The deal envisages all the group companies merging into FEL or Future Enterprises Limited in which Reliance would acquire 67.98 crore shares (Rs 2 face value) at a price of Rs 17.65. They would also be allotted 90.65 crore warrants of the same company at the same price. This would give them a minority stake of 13.14 per cent in the combined entity. This would comprise of 6.09 per cent by way of equity and 7.05 per cent by way of warrants to be exercised within 18 months. Reliance would acquire all the businesses of the group other than the manufacturing and distribution of FMCG goods and integrated fashion sourcing and manufacturing business. The insurance JV with Generali and the JV with NTC mills will be the business which would also remain with the holding company FEL. All other companies like Future Consumer, Future Lifestyle Fashions, Future Market Networks, Future Supply Chain Solutions and Future Retail would see their present shareholders get shares in exchange for shares of FEL or Future Enterprises Limited. They will not get anything in Reliance Retail Limited. The share swap ratio as given in the composite scheme based on closing prices of Friday entails profits of between 36.43 per cent for shareholders of Future Market Networks to 75.18 per cent for Future Supply Chain Solutions. There would be plenty of action in the above group of shares but one wonders how markets would react a couple of days later when it is realised that the holding company or de-facto resultant or residual company is left with insignificant business should be valued on what parameters. All the brands currently owned by the future group would be sold on a slump sale basis to Reliance. SEBI is having a meeting with members of the broking community to sort out the last mile connectivity issue for pledge creation of shares and would probably allow a small extension of say a fortnight to get things going before the new margin rules kick in. What this would do to the market in terms of trading volumes in the cash segment is to be observed in the coming days once the same is introduced. One thing though is certain that a popular product known as 'BTST', buy today and sell tomorrow would see the end of its existence. This product which entails buying shares on day one and then selling on day two is very popular with retail investors/punters. There are programs on the electronic channels as well who make calls directly or through guests promoting such trading. All of this would become a thing of the past. Why? This would now entail paying the full value of shares purchased at end of day one and then entail payment of margin on the sale component on day two. Further the credit of sales made on day two would be available only when pay-out is declared of the same on day four. Till then the value is blocked. Let's explain by an example. Shares worth Rs 10,000 are bought on Monday. Margin of 30 per cent approximately is required when the purchase is made and balance required before trading begins on day 2 or Tuesday. On Tuesday the goods are sold, hence margin on sales of Rs 10,000 at Rs 3,000 is required. The pay-out of the same would be available only on Thursday when the sale value of Rs 10,000 and the margin of Rs 3,000 paid is released. Theoretically the margin of Rs 3,000 on sales could be released a day earlier on Wednesday when the delivery of shares bought on Monday is received. The point being made here is that brokers earlier would adjust the purchase with the sales and allow further trading. Hereon the cycle would become effectively four days against one and a half day earlier and involve much more money to be available upfront. In the case of derivatives whether it be futures or options, once the trade is squared off, the margin is available immediately as trades normally do not result in delivery. In the cash market the same would happen in case of intra-day trades but would be different in case of deliveries. This would ensure lower deliveries, lower volumes and the possibility that some percentage of trading community shifts from cash market to the riskier derivative or futures segment. The Covid-19 front saw the number of people affected globally increasing to 251,74,926 persons with 8,46,831 deaths and 175,11,862 people recovering. In India, the number of affected people is 35,46,705 persons, with 63,690 deaths and 27,14,995 people having recovered. Compared to the previous week the world saw 17,91,504 new patients, 38,116 deaths and 19,01,491 people recovering. In India we saw 5,01,765 new patients, 6,844 deaths and 4,34,429 people recovering. Coming to the markets, they appear set to reach or see a blow-off before the current rally ends. The blow off could be a couple of days away or longer, say 8-10 trading days away. What would precede that is huge volatility, spurt in volumes and wild intra-day gyrations. The strategy would be to continue to ride the rally but be careful in pre-empting the imminent fall and avoiding any shorts till the event actually begins. The correction while it would be swift would take some time to happen and not get over in a jiffy. Enjoy the rally till the blowoff actually happens.
One of the major reasons EMs are forecasted to register less negative growth in 2020, vs. AEs, is the higher share of agricultural output. In India, there is optimism around agriculture, and thus rural, being the brighter spot in a contractionary growth year. The RBI Governor, in the recently released MPC meeting minutes noted rural indicators have shown a sharp revival which, if sustained, can provide support to demand going forward. In this note, we look at the current situation and the structural nuances of rural India to gauge the legitimacy of this optimism and the need for a nuanced policy approach. Rural status - Agri does well and government extends support but... Agriculture has been the brighter spot with crop-area sown in the ongoing Kharif season witnessing positive year-on-year growth in all categories, led by rice and oilseeds as south-west monsoon season rainfall this year has broadly stayed healthy (8 per cent above the long period average as on August 26 as per IMD). With Rabi sowing season (October-December) to follow, and forecasts of La Nina conditions which favour good rainfall and thus hopefully good reservoir levels and soil moisture, the two consecutive seasons could act as a natural buffer to absorb some of the excess rural labour. The key would be to ensure conversion of sowing to harvest this season, next season sails through smoothly and the sticky issue of lower price realization for farmers at least does not get amplified by the current uncertainty. Government spending on agri & rural, sale of tractors and support through MGNREGA have all been positive too, but it is probably still a case of over-optimism. Firstly, agriculture is only 18 per cent of GDP while rural as a whole is 47 per cent. Secondly, nominal wage growth was weak even pre-Covid for both agri and non-agri rural India. Real wage growth was negative since late-2019 as construction activity was also weak, which attracted surplus labor to agriculture. With labour migration from urban to rural after the onset of Covid-19, there is even higher labour supply in rural which not only reduces wages further, but simply may not find enough avenues for work as the equally important non-agri rural economy could be under greater pressure from lower demand. Some of the recent news on return of workers to urban India should be seen in this light and not yet as restoration of normalcy. The spread of the virus is also now more towards the rural economy. The good part is mortality rates have reduced and this has been broad-based across most states. Overall recovery rate has also risen. While it is well understood new cases are no longer concentrated in Maharashtra, Delhi, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat (total share of 66 per cent of outstanding cases at end-June vs. 42 per cent on August 25), two crucial aspects are: 1) Number of new confirmed cases in each state, adjusted for population - This shows a) the number is still rising in almost all states (except in Delhi where it has to fall further) & quite high in a handful and b) states with a higher share of rural population like Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, etc. are also witnessing an increase in cases. Although a function of number of tests done (high in Andhra Pradesh, has picked up in Bihar but has to rise further in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal), it points to the higher rate of new cases and spread to rural areas which raises the risk there for employment, consumption and thus growth. 2) Positivity rate - If the rate is high for a level of testing, it points to the need to ramp up testing. If the rate is consistently low with high testing levels, it indicates the possibility of only a few undetected cases left (WHO recommends a rate below 5% for at least 2 weeks before reopening post-lockdown). This has reduced for more states in August than in July, which is encouraging, but the level continues to be high in many states. Thus, the way forward is to stick to higher testing on an ongoing basis to get or keep the positivity rate sustainably lower. While the more-rural states unsurprisingly have a much-higher average share of agriculture in their respective overall outputs, their lower fiscal space even pre-Covid in terms of higher fiscal deficits and outstanding liabilities is also noteworthy. For e.g., the average outstanding liabilities of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu in FY19 was 19 per cent of GDP but it was 32 per cent for Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. This implies the requirement now of more financial resources by even the states with higher debt. So, while the virus is now spreading to rural and to some of the more fiscally constrained states, the likelihood of it posing a major risk to agriculture could be less. Given agri was exempt even from the earlier nationwide lockdown and the support it has been providing to employment, state governments are unlikely to impose very strict restrictions on agri during local lockdowns (unless in extreme situations) but the response of cultivators and wage labourers to perceived health risks will be equally important. However, this optimism on agri need not translate into rural outperformance. Comprehending the structure of the rural economy is critical to understand this and to evaluate/construct rural policies. Rural economic structure - much more than just agriculture and MGNREGA We list out some of the fundamental aspects of the rural economic structure below, based on our inferences from the NABARD All India Rural Financial Inclusion Survey of 2017: Agri vs. non-agri -Importance of non-agri HHs in rural India - Of all the rural HHs, share of non-agri is higher at 52 per cent. It ranges from 22 per cent to 97 per cent among states and 14 of the 29 states have a share above 52 per cent. -More number of agri HHs have non-zero savings but their average savings are lower - Agri HHs earn, spend and generate more surplus. More of them have savings but they save a lesser amount than non-agri HHs. -Higher investment by agri HHs - More agri HHs invest but most of it is in physical assets required as part of agri production and not discretionary or for personal purposes. The share of debt used in such investments is also higher. Although a higher number invest in financial assets too, their average investment is lower. -Higher debt burden of agri HHs - Given the lower savings, higher investment needs and the vagaries in agri production, many more agri HHs are indebted and their average debt outstanding is also quite higher. -Small land size and asset ownership among agri HHs limit potential to raise output - Among agri HHs, although the average size of land held is 1 hectare, 67 per cent of them actually hold less than 1 hectare and only 5 per cent own tractors. -Disparity across states - Although averages are used, there is wide disparity across states for most variables due to the difference in rural economic structures. For e.g., average savings among all HHs which had any savings ranged from Rs 8,411 in Tripura to Rs 90,103 in Punjab where only 21 per cent of households reported any savings, the lowest among all states. This points to the concentration of savings in Punjab, although it is a high-saving state. Employment and wages -Farming employs only 1/3rd and MGNREGA <4 per cent of rural population aged above 15 - 33 per cent is self-employed including farming, 27 per cent is engaged in casual wage labor in public works ex-MGNREGA, 17 per cent have regular salary/wage and only 3.7 per cent is engaged in wage labor under MGNREGA. Unfortunately, 59 per cent of women attend to domestic duties only. -Higher job diversification among agri HHs - 50 per cent of agri HHs have 2 sources of income & 39 per cent have more than 2 sources but 80 per cent of non-agri HHs have only 1 source. -Wage income is very significant in all HHs - Even among agri HHs, only 35 per cent of income is from cultivation, 34 per cent is from wages and 16 per cent from government & private services. Among non-agri HHs, 54 per cent is from wage labour and 32 per cent from government & private services. This points to the high dependence of agri and non-agri HHs on wages. -Lower wage income from MGNREGA - Average monthly income of HHs engaged in MGNREGA is only Rs 1,236 vs. Rs 3,526 for agri labor, Rs. 5,082 for non-agri skilled labor, Rs 4,921 for non-agri unskilled labor, Rs 4,988 for trading & shop keeping and Rs 10,347 for government & private jobs. Thus, a clear understanding of the rural structure makes us realise a 'one-size-fits-all' solution will not work and it allows policy to better appreciate the tradeoffs involved and focus separately on agri & non-agri, agri-land-owners & agri-wage-labourers, short-term & long-term, adequacy of measures, etc. Accordingly, existing policies could be enhanced (easier in the short-term) or new ones could be launched with a focus on execution. Government support so far for agri HHs has been mainly through the PM-KISAN scheme, exemption from lockdown and ensuring availability of inputs. Number of beneficiaries who received at least one installment so far under the PM-KISAN scheme (benefits agri land-owners) is 10.2 crore, which is 21 per cent of agri HHs and the amount involved covered 7 per cent of their average monthly consumption expenditure in 2017. Government support for non-agri HHs has been primarily through MGNREGA, which as mentioned earlier, covers only a small portion of rural HHs and offers wages which are lower than other typically available options. Both type of HHs have benefited from the Rs 500 per month cash transfer to 20.4 crore women and free rice, wheat & pulses distribution scheme unveiled in March which covers part of their food related expense. A nuanced policy mix needed While current government support measures have helped, growth ahead for rural India would broadly depend on the path of the virus (duration, breadth and intensity), revival of urban India, consumer behaviour (changes in spending and savings behaviour) and government policies. Apart from the direct government response to contain the virus and relief measures, the focus now also has to be on effective and efficient resource allocation to provide optimal support in the deserving areas. However, skewed focus on one area alone could cause economic imbalances through over-allocation of resources. Enabling state governments could also be beneficial to effectively implement policies and allocate resources, given the high disparity in the rural economic structure. Particularly in agri, structural issues have to addressed through consistent and well-deliberated policies on procurement, stock management, offloading, export & import, trader stock limits, etc. A pre-condition to providing demand support in the current context would also be easing some of the supply-side constraints. However, the constraint is the lack of fiscal space, an issue from pre-Covid days. Fiscal deficit in FY20 was envisaged in February itself to exceed the FRBM target by 50bps on the back of lower revenue. It ended the year another 80bps higher, also owing to the national lockdown starting last week of March. As agriculture has been doing well this year and has engaged additional rural labour, the first step would be to ensure the Kharif and Rabi seasons sail through smoothly. However, given the rural economy is much bigger than agriculture and rural wages have been weak for quite some time, optimism on agriculture need not translate into rural outperformance, particularly if non-agri rural and urban segments stay weak. Further, Covid-19 is now spreading to more-rural states when almost all need to stick to higher testing to get their positivity rates sustainably lower. The fundamental structure of the rural economy suggests income, consumption, savings, investments and debt levels vary not just across agri and non-agri HHs in rural India, but also considerably across states. It points to the high dependence on wage income by both agri and non-agri HHs while MGNREGA employment and wages are low. All this calls for a nuanced approach to policy making. While the existing government support programs have been useful, growth ahead would also depend on the path of the virus, revival of urban India, consumer behaviour and growth-enhancing government policies. Agri policies should focus on the resolution of some of the structural issues. Easing some of the supply-side constraints is necessary too in the current context but the constraint now is the lack of fiscal space. IANS
In the bleak Covid scenario, a rare bright spot has emerged with Indian corporates waking up to the rural sector's potential. However, forging a deeper synergy of the two that can pivot India's economy would require pushing through impending changes in land leasing laws. For decades, the Indian industry's interest in the farm sector through contract farming has been lukewarm because of the obstacles to the consolidation of fragmented agricultural land which hampers mechanization and harvest collection. As per the latest Agricultural Census, 48 per cent of agricultural holdings are of half a hectare or lower and over 68 per cent are up to 1 hectare. 86 per cent of holdings are up to 2 hectares, accounting for 46 per cent of the nation's cultivable land. Given the staggering proportion of marginal landholding, the reason for farmer distress becomes self-evident. What has historically stood in the way have been obsolete laws that made a lease of farmland illegal. High time to dust out model law To its credit, the Indian government recognized the problem. It approved the Model (Agricultural) Land Leasing Act of 2016, under which the landlord was allowed to legally lease the agriculture land with mutual consent for agriculture and allied activity. However, this law that allows consolidation of land by a cultivator has been gathering dust as it is yet to be adopted by any state in India. Effectively, this has stymied the effort because agriculture is a state subject, and the centre's role is more in policymaking. However, there is much more that can be done than wring hands. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has an iron grip over many states including the most populous Uttar Pradesh, where the changes to land leasing can easily be instituted. In unprecedented moves, the government has taken the initiative to launch a series of agricultural reforms recently including the freedom to allow farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country. It has simultaneously taken steps to encourage contract farming. Good beginning- but a long road ahead All these efforts may yield only marginal results unless the process of farm consolidation is implemented. If a few BJP-ruled states were to take the initiative, the benefits to farm income are likely to be so apparent that other states would follow. While farmers may hesitate to lease their land to big corporates for fears that they may not be able to get back their property, the Model Act clearlyesays that the land should return to the owner at the end of lease period. There are already many successful examples of similar leasing agreements, such as in the poultry industry. In any case, the contours for dispute resolution has been set in the Model Land Leasing Act with the first charge on the farm output given to the landowner in case of a default in the lease payment. However, to build greater confidence, these provisions should be fine-tuned further. A model lease agreement should be inserted as a schedule in the act, which could serve as a reference point to resolve any disputes between the owner and cultivator where their contract is silent. There is a provision in the Model Act of dispute resolution through conciliation, which is open-ended. There should be a time limit of one month set for conciliation, and failing a resolution should be referred to the Tehsildar or a jurisdictional revenue officer of equivalent rank. There should be a period of limitation or put simply a time bar, for an appeal to the collector from Tehsildar's order and a similar one for the collector to pass an order to ensure that the whole system does not get drowned out by cases prolonging indefinitely. The benefits of establishing such a system will be multiple both for the farmer and the state. If the cultivator is a corporate entity, it is highly likely that productivity will increase because of the use of better technology and mechanization. Land leasing will be a smart way to achieve consolidation of land without disturbing the ownership of land. But as much as states should try to give confidence to farmers, they should also have the wisdom to allay concerns of business houses. For example, any relief given to farmers during times of natural disaster should not preclude cultivators. Similarly, just because the cultivator might be a big business house, they need not be forced to pay minimum support prices and rather ensure fair market-linked prices. After all, the state's responsibility towards farmers can't be imposed on business entities and then expect them to come in droves to engage with farmers. Land concessions also need to be provided to ancillary industries like food processing and storage to tackle the nation's tremendous burden of food wastages. With positive intent, all such niggling issues can be resolved. However, it's important to recognize the unprecedented opportunity created by the pandemic and walk the path.
The week saw markets gain further ground with the breadth improving significantly. The midcap and small cap segments are where all the action is currently focused. BSESENSEX gained 557.38 points or 1.47 per cent, while NIFTY gained 193.20 points or 1.73 per cent . The broader markets saw BSE100, BSE200 and BSE500 gain 1.74 per cent , 1.97 per cent and 2.26 per cent respectively. BSEMIDCAP gained 3.61 per cent, while BSESMALLCAP was up 5.56 per cent . While the benchmark indices had a decent showing, the breadth in the market was significant with none of the sectoral indices being tracked, closing in the negative. Further, the number of shares hitting upper circuits is on the rise and many have also hit new 52-week highs and some made lifetime highs as well. The reason for this optimism is clearly liquidity and nothing negative seems to be on the mind of investors. The fact that the pandemic effect and consequences doesn't seem to hurt the optimism or the valuations of companies in the stock market. It could even be argued that people have discounted the same at this point of time and believe that FY 2021 is a wipe out. The AGR issue affecting telecom companies took its toll on Reliance on expected lines. The share price of Reliance lost Rs 32 or 1.51 per cent to close at Rs 2,082. The fall was insignificant but considering that the broad markets were up and Reliance has led this rally over the past four months, one would normally expect the share to be leading from the front. Another share that would be under pressure for the same reason in the coming week is Bharti Airtel which had acquired spectrum from Videocon and Aircel. The word acquired has different connotations and is used broadly here to indicate a lease agreement or even right to use or sharing system. With the Supreme Court veering around to the view that the dues would have to be paid by the current user of spectrum, Bharti could come under further pressure this week. Shares of Bharti lost Rs 8.90 or 1.68 per cent to close at Rs 520 on Friday. Yes bank shares remained in the trading zone talked about last week with a high of Rs 16.40 and a low of Rs 13.85. Shares closed at Rs 15.57, a gain of Rs 0.50 or 3.32 per cent . This trading zone would continue for some time and one would have to see when the share sees a complete dry up of trading volumes or a huge spurt in volumes to indicate the change in trading zone. The week ahead sees August futures expire on Thursday the 27th of August. The present value of NIFTY at 11,371.60 points is up for the month by 269.45 points or 2.43 per cent . Compared to the previous month the gains lower and one would expect the bulls to pile on the pressure on bears considering that the market has momentum. With the rally becoming broader by the day it should be easier even though the benchmark indices may not gain as much as they have been doing in the recent past. Clearly as mentioned earlier the action has shifted to the mid and small cap segments. Coming to Covid-19, the world has 233,83,472 affected people, 808,715 deaths and 159,10,371 patients who have recovered as on date. In India we have 30,44,940 affected people, 56,846 deaths and 22,80,566 recovered people. Compared to the previous week, the world saw 17,65,485 new patients, 39,709 deaths and 15,76,149 people recovering. In India, the number of people affected during the week increased by 4,54,439 people, deaths by 6,747 and 4,17,901 people recovered. The world is now waiting to see what is the effect of a second wave if it comes and how severe it is. No one knows for sure and they are waiting for two major developments, one a fool proof vaccine and second for this second wave. In either case one has to keep one's fingers crossed and hope for the best. Coming to the markets in the week ahead, with momentum coming back to the markets, expect indices to gain further. While the climb in the benchmark indices is likely to be small, expect the action to continue in mid and small cap space. It is here that the retail investor has exposure and trading volume increase is noticeable. Different shares move up sharply and then become flat before falling ultimately. This is a time immemorial movement and one needs to be careful and avoid temptation. Take your gains and exit and don't expect to get the whole pie. Expect the broader market indices to once again outperform the SENSEX and NIFTY. Further expiry day and maybe a day before the event could get extra volatile
New Delhi/Raipur, Aug 19 A public opinion poll in native languages of Chhattisgarh is being held to seek a people's solution to the ongoing Maoist violence in central India. The 'New Peace Process' (NPP), an initiative headed by Shubranshu Choudhary, a peace and human rights activist who has been working with tribals in Chhattisgarh for decades, is conducting a public opinion poll in Gondi, Halbi and Hindi languages over phone on the Maoist violence. The poll began on the 74th Independence Day. In a statement, the NPP said the poll was aimed at finding out how many people in central India believe that the resolution of the violence between Maoists and the police in Chhattisgarh is dialogue and how many believe that the solution is military and police response to the violence perpetrated by Maoists. Anyone in Chhattisgarh can give a missed call on a phone number (7477 288 444) and provide their opinion. On giving a missed call, the caller will get a call back from another number and the computer will talk to the caller in Hindi, Gondi and Halbi languages. Callers can also record their views in detail in the three languages. The phone number will remain open till October 2, this year and the result of this poll will be announced at 'Break the Silence' e-rally of the NPP on Gandhi Jayanti. The NPP also initiated a selfie competition on the topic of "Bastar Mange: Freedom from violence" on the Independence Day. Participants were encouraged to take their selfies on the subject and upload it on various social media platforms. On October 2, in Break the Silence E-rally of the new peace process, winners will be rewarded for the best selfie slogan. Convener of the NPP, Shubhranshu Chaudhary told IANS that they are also starting a series of meetings called "Chaikle Maandi". Gondi's word "chaikle maandi" means "meeting for peace and happiness". In these meetings, victims of violence from both sides will be invited and their opinion about possible solutions to end the Maoist violence in Central India, will be sought. Based on their opinions, further programs will be prepared, Chaudhary said. According to government statistics, in the last 20 years, more than 12,000 people have been killed in the Maoist violence, including 2,700 policemen. "There is a strange silence here about this almost daily violence that needs to be ended soon. We hope that for the first time in the opinion poll in Gondi and Halbi with Hindi on the phone, the tribals living in far-flung villages will also be able to express their views which were not there earlier as they were unable to express themselves well in the mainstream languages. "People living in the city can express their views on the Internet based social media, while the villagers in their dialects by phone." The new peace process had earlier organized the Shanti Pad Yatra from Andhra Pradesh to Bastar in October 2018 at the launch of the year-long 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. In February-March 2019, they took a cycle Yatra from Bastar to Raipur for the rehabilitation of the displaced tribals from Bastar. They are also working to get the right of Abujhmadias under the forest rights.