India

Budget 2014 – The way forward

Vel Anru Venri Tharuvathu Mannavan

Kol Athuvoom Kodaathu Enin.”

(Not the spear but sceptre swayed with equity

Alone gives the ruler victory.)

The Finance Minister namely; Mr. P. Chidambaram presented the last budget for the current UPA tenure two days back. The last budget of any outgoing government is an interim budget, which is in effect for merely till the time the incumbent government leaves the office, due to which not many significant changes were expected. However, the Finance minister tried his level best to grab the attention of as many voters as possible for the upcoming elections with as few populist measures as possible such as one rank one pension for military personnel and the education loan subsidy to clean up the bank loan. What was noteworthy was the bold move undertaken by the FM by decreasing the excise duty of all segments across the automobile industry by 4-6% in an attempt to revive the automobile industry. Although the news was hailed by auto industry and investors alike, skeptic critics termed it as an end result of ubiquitous lobbying.

As Indian budgets tend to be, this too was packed with dramatic hyperbole statements, with the most apt example being the aforementioned couplet by Sage Thiruvalluvar. In all probability the words were a potshot at his fellow competitors, while pointing out not-so-subtly, UPA’s achievement over the years. The FM in order to back his point, narrated the attainments of UPA over the last 10 years.

The most important of all points in the speech, which the FM was exceptionally proud was the Fiscal deficit and the CAD figures. The FM proudly pointed out that he had contained Fiscal deficit at 4.6% of the GDP and the current account deficit stood at $45 billion. However, the ends doesn’t justify the means. The ways used by the FM to achieve those figures were criticized by experts, who pointed out that the FM had merely rolled over some expenses and slashed planned expenditure.

Merely altering rates of taxes, clearing projects and reducing expenditure cannot get out the economy from the dump. Fundamental changes such as introducing GST, DTC and IFRS along with privatization is the key to fiscal consolidation. The FM has quite clearly failed to address these issues. However whether or not he has managed to convince the people of India to stick to his party remains to be seen.

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Man vs Nature

The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.

– Job 1:21

Ever since the beginning of time man has tried to control, tame and at the same time exploit nature. He has used forest for timber, rivers and lakes for water and land for minerals but never has he returned the favor. The recent occurrences in Uttarakhand is an example of what is to be expected when nature decides to reply back.
Uttarakhand lies in the fragile belt of Himalayas. Due to this the area has been victim to several calamities in the past few years. Inspite of this, activities such as building tunnels, dams and cutting of slopes have been taken place which have increased the risk of such disasters. The recent floods and landslides has devastated villages and killed thousands of people.
It was not as if man didn’t know what it was dealing with; several geologist had warned about the risks that were involved, several saints had protested against building of dams and yet such warnings weren’t paid heed to.
Sustainable development is the need of the hour. Man cannot ignore the involvement of nature while focusing only on development.
The recent occurrences are warnings ; warnings that human shall not meddle with the forces of nature or it shall face its wrath.
Let us all hope that good sense prevails.

24th June 2013.