For post-demonetization doomsayers the figures released for January by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) reveal that gross domestic product (GDP) grew 7.1 per cent in January, confounding the crisis they had predicted. The demonetization drag, it now appears, is more fiction than fact, although the third quarter fiscal grew 7per cent, down from 7.3 per cent in the second quarter. The fourth quarter figure is likely to be a broad emulation of the third, but a rebound in the next fiscal year will follow, presi8cts the IMF.
‘The GDP numbers [for January] are a surprise, but a pleasant surprise,’ said Madan Sabnavis, Chief Economist at Care Ratings. ‘Since the CSO has not revised downward the annual estimate, we can expect that there should not be further changes on account of demonetization. The numbers are vindication that demonetization didn’t have a major impact on the economy. They have looked at all the numbers at their disposal and have come out with the estimate.’ (Hindu, March 1)
‘It appears that that the pessimists have exaggerated the extent and length demonetization shock.’ (Business Line editorial, March 3)
Indian IT equal to Japan manufacturing
Rakesh Gopinathan, the new CEO of the $17 billion of the Tata Consultancy Services (TCS ), said that in the world of technology services, the India brand is as powerful as the Made in Japan was in manufacturing. Gopinathan said industry was taking steps to meet the new digital transformational requirements of customers just as the it had transformed itself after the Y2K event to meet the the world’s then e-business needs. Gopinathan argued that technology had become so pervasive across organizations and so integral to their success that the opportunities for Indian IT had exploded. (Times of India February 25)Sino-Indian
Moody’s positive on demonetization
According to international credit rating agency Mood’s investor service India’s demonetization is likely to reduce tax avoidance and corruption. Besides this, it said the Indian economy was resilient to economic disruption and the worst of the liquidity crunch had passed, which should support a rebound in consumption levels. The US-based agency said: ‘In the medium-term demonetization will strengthen India’s institutional framework by reducing tax avoidance and corruption. It should also result in efficiency gains through formalization of economic and financial activity, which would help broaden the tax base and expand usage of the financial system.’ (Business Line March 3)
Spin on strategic talks unjustified
The Hindu newspaper’s front-page lead report was the alleged success of the India-China strategic talks in Beijing, despite the Chin’s efusal to budge on the contentious issues o blacklisting Pakistani terrorist Mahmood Azhar and Indian membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. The UN Security Council’s members minus China were agreed that the man be blacklisted, but Beijing, in deference to its all-weather Pakistan friend has blocked the move for want of sufficient proof. It has also opposed India’s membership of the NSG.
So where lies the success trumpeted by Suhasini Haider, the paper’s Diplomatic Correspondent? Global Times, Beijing’s mouthpiece took the Indian delegation to task for its perceived ‘cynicism,’ giving the show away. Indian foreign secretary S.Jaishankar and Prime Minster Narendra Modi are too canny to fall for Chinese guff (Hindu February 28
Interceptor missile test
The Defence Research & Development Organization (DRDO) successfully test-fired an interceptor missile with an intercontinental range to destroy an incoming missile, thus validating the previous test technology of an earlier test in mid-February. Defence sources said the interceptor destroy its incoming target at an altitude of 15 kms above the earth. The missile shield is expected to be operational by 2022 (Hindu March 2)
Sukhoi-30MKI BrahMos armed
The India Air Force’s crown jewels are its fleet of 270 or so Sukhoi-30MKI fighter bombers. These deadly Russian aircraft are set to be equipped with the world’s only supersonic cruise missile, BrahMos, jointly developed by India and Russia. The aircraft required small but critical modifications so that the BrahMos could be integrated into plane. It took public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) that w two years to do so when, in June 2016, it successfully conducted a successful dummy test. Now, with other necessary certifications and with the production of the launcher completed, the first Sukhoi-30MKI is set to test-fire themissile in April.
This will be a game changer.. The BrahMos-equipped Sukhoi-30KI will provide the IAF with its most lethal capability till date. Indian pilots will no longer have to negotiate heavily defended air space to attack enemy bases, or terrorist camps, as the BrahMos with its 300-km range can be fired from well within home territory. Surgical strikes can thus be carried out at will. The IAF initially planned for two such squadrons, but this has now been revised upward to integrate 216 BrahMos missiles on 42 Sukhoi aircraft. (Times of India online February 24)
New site for Russian nuclear reactors
Russia expects clearance for a new site in India for six Russian nuclear reactors, said Evegeny Pakermanov, President of the Rusatem Overseas. Contracts for the project were to be signed soon, he said. ‘Rosatem is ready for various formats of project implementation. We have signed an action plan programme for providing gradual localization of production facilities for our nuclear power projects in India, he explained.’ According to Indian Energy Minister Jitendra Singh, the Andhra Pradesh government had given its consent to carry out the required technical to identify potential coastal locations for such power plants.
Rostem has constructed two units of the Kudankulam nuclear power project in Tamil Nadu the second of which has reached full operation capability. Its safety levels have been described as ‘unprecedented.’ In December 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed the ‘Strategic Vision’ document under which Russia would build 12 nuclear power plants in India (RTR February 7)
There has been an expansion in manufacturing in India, with February figures outpacing those of January; the data shows an increase in new orders, according to a private sector survey. ‘February indicated Indian manufacturing production continued to increase as a result of an export reboun. However, the production figure is still weaker than that of the long-term average. (Hindu March 2)
Biotech centre in Faridabad
Faridabad-based Regional Centre for Biotechnology is set to become an institution of national importance focusing on research and post-graduate diplomas. The Science and Technology Ministry has been the facilitator in this development. ‘ The Research Centre of Biotechnology-Faridabad will now take up research and innovation and impart education and training in new areas of biotechnology in a big way, keeping in view India’s mission to turn the biotechnology sector into a $500 billion industry by 2026,’ said officials. (Times of India March 1)
Amazon India gears up for agri-retail
Riding high on response to e-grocery platform Amazon India now plans to set up its ‘fully integrated, farm-t- fork direct online agri-product retailing. Whether Amazon’s entry into food retailing is a journey i8nto the unknown, as e-groceries have yet to penetrate markets across India. If successful, the Amazon venture may prove to be a new dawn. (Times of India March 1)
Jihadi suspects arrested
Two brothers in Gujarat with computer science diplomas have been arrested near Rajkot in possession of bomb-making equipment and other weapons. They were tracked by anti-terror detectives who listened in on their conversations with an ISI handler in Iraq.
Far away in Kolkata, police discovered a huge cache of counterfeit currency in the dock area of the city.It was one of the biggest such hauls and officers are seeking possible links between the gang and jihadi groups, since 4 of the 5 arrested were Muslims from Kolkata and its northern suburb, Howrah. A further complication is the porous border with Bangladesh, a prime route for smugglers and Jihadis. The construction of barrier equipped with cameras across the West Bengal border is halfway to the completion expected in 2019. Infiltration from Bangladesh into India may have slowed but it is still significant (Telegraph, Times of India, Hindu March 3)
Weapon-locating radar for Army
The Defence Research & Development Organization (DRDO) handed over in-house designed and manufactured weapon-locating radar to the Indian Army earlier this week, following extensive tests along the liner of control with Pakistan and China. DRDO sources said the system named Swati provides quick, automatic and accurate locations simultaneously of all enemy weapons such as mortars, shells and rockets firing within its effective zone. It can also guide Indian linesa of fire to enemy target.
This has plugged an important gap in India’s defences. During the Kargil war in 1999, India was forced buy these items from the United States. After supplying the needs of the Indian Army, Swati will be made available for the export market. (Hindu March 3)
Anti-ship missile test-fired
Kalvariu, the first of the six Scorpene submarines acquired from France, has fired fired its first ant-ship missile in the Arabian Sea. The first Scorpene is scheduled to be commissioned into the Indian Navy very soon. (Hindu March 3)