Weekend Economic News 17-18 Dec 2016

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18 Dec, 2016

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Remonetisation will not take a long time: Arun Jaitley

“Ideally, GST should start from April 1, 2017; constitutional necessity for new regime to come into force between April 1 and September 16,” the Finance Minister said.

The government has taken a somewhat courageous step in the direction of removing the legal tender nature of high value currency notes and went in for a large scale currency swap, said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today, adding that remonetisation with fresh currency is not going to take a very long time.

While the developed world is turning protectionist and looking inward, India is an exception with its ability to take bold decisions, he said. “One needs clarity, courage, broads shoulders and the stamina to take such decisions,” the FM said.

The demonetisation decision, besides several other implications, will mark the creation of a new normal for India. “The 70 years of normal we saw before is unacceptable. It had become a way of life, not merely because of a high cash to GDP ratio, but also had adverse socio-economic consequences, such as not getting into banking system, escaping the tax Net and using cash for crimes.”

“Only Parliament, in fact, a section of the Parliament seems to be unaware of what is happening… In 2000, people would have laughed at the suggestion of every poor person having a mobile phone. The same principle applies today,” he said, referring to the drive towards a more digital economy.

He said that there are over 75 crore debit and credit cards, different types of e-wallets coming up and 100 to 1000 per cent rise in use of digital modes of payments.

ON GST, the FM exuded confidence about getting a consensus with states on the legislations that need to be passed to operationalise it.

Ten important decisions have already been taken with complete consensus of the Council, he said. “One major issue, which is in fact a very small issue in the larger scheme of things, is the issue of cross-empowering centre and states on assessment of taxpayers. We are trying to resolve this.”

Ideally, the Finance Minister said common taxation has to lead to a federal bureaucracy.

He also said that though the new Indirect Tax regime should ideally begin in a new financial year, so April 1 2017 is still a target.

However, “Since it is a transaction tax and not an income tax, it can start any time of the year. The earlier we do it, the better as the curtains will come down on existing Indirect Tax system from September 16, 2017.”


 

End of the year winner

Music duo, Pritam-Amitabh Bhattacharya score high with Dangal’s soundtrack fresh on the heels of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil

Before Dangal became the title of the wrestling-themed Aamir Khan movie, the word was once previously associated in Bollywood with another wrestling-based flick. It was the title of a song from the 2010 movie Kushti — a film that had Rajpal Yadav pitted against The Great Khali. The movie bombed, not so surprisingly and the song too sank with it, despite being the only good song from the movie in my opinion (also the only Hindi song that singer Srinivas composed, to my knowledge). But that’s enough with digressing from the matter on hand — the music of the forthcoming Amir Khan starrer, Dangal. Going by the promos so far, it doesn’t look like this Dangal will fare anything like the previous one. And the soundtrack comes from the Pritam-Amitabh Bhattacharya team, fresh from their recent success in Ae Dil Hai Mushkil.

After giving Jonita Gandhi fast numbers in his last two movies (‘Sau Tarah Ke’ in Dishoom, ‘The Breakup Song’ in Ae Dil Hai Muskhil), Pritam decides to try out her melodic side in Dangal with ‘Gilehriyaan’. An excellent move as it turns out; the lady is on top of her game delivering the song to perfection. Melody-oriented songs are something Pritam has almost always excelled in, and here he produces an incredibly charming tune. The arrangement is exquisite, highlighted by the guitars (Nikhil Paul George) and other plucked strings (Tapas Roy). The other melodic piece of the soundtrack isn’t half as effective though, in fact ‘Naina’ in some ways comes across as a distant cousin of ‘Channa Mereya’. The key ingredients are pretty much the same — Pritam’s music, Amitabh Bhattacharya’s lines, Arijit Singh’s voice and the general pathos. It even starts off with a vocal prelude like ‘Channa’ did. The arrangement is neatly done here too (once again the strings are well employed), but a weak melody bogs the song down. Or perhaps it is just the comparison with ‘Channa’ running at the back of my mind. Daler Mehndi’s power-packed voice is perfect choice for the movie’s titular anthem ‘Dangal Dangal’, and with an able chorus to boot, he does a fine rendition of the song even as the composer smartly juxtaposes folk percussion with the electric guitars (keep an ear out for the satisfying twangs from Ernest Tibbs’s bass during those very brief pauses in the song).

Amitabh Bhattacharya’s Haryanvi infused writing is on point and the star of the rest of the soundtrack. While ‘Dangal Dangal’ extols the protagonists in an anthem-like fashion, ‘Dhaakad’ takes a more low key approach — albeit in a more threatening fashion — it takes the hip hop route and ends up a more engaging product. The rapping by Raftaar is splendid, and the arrangement is a whacky concoction of folk and electronic (two interesting folk inclusions — Rajesh Kumar’s Haryanvi sarangi and Mukesh Nath’s been) elements. An alternate version of the song (does it even count as a Pritam soundtrack if at least one song does not have an additional version?) has Aamir Khan on vocals. A good idea; partly because being a tuneless track it is the safest way to make an actor “sing”, and secondly because Khan is really good with the rapping, almost giving Raftaar a run for his money with his diction and expressions.

You can guess the general direction of where ‘Idiot Banna’ is going, from its title. And it does not disappoint, the humorous lines and Jyoti Nooran and Sultana Nooran’s exuberant delivery help the song rise above its fairly regular melody and arrangement. It is in the song of the soundtrack, ‘Haanikaarak Bapu’, that everything comes through. The debutant singer kids Sarwar Khan and Sartaz Khan Barna ace their respective parts, Pritam matches their energy with his folk-flavoured arrangement (the second interlude in particular), and Bhattacharya’s rhymes are a hoot. A complete out and out fun song.

Safely assuming that there are no more soundtracks to come from Pritam this year, Dangal is a wonderful high for the composer and lyricist Amitabh Bhattacharya to end the year on.

Vipin Nair writes about music on his website MusicAloud.com and curates music on Apple Music as MusicAloud

 


Why the 1971 war failed to bring peace

With the Simla Agreement, India showed that it had learnt from history—but Pakistan did not. And the war continues

Livemint

 

On this day, 45 years ago, Lt General A.A.K. Niazi of the Pakistan Eastern Command signed an instrument of surrender accepting defeat at the hands of Indian forces. A photograph capturing the historical moment was gifted by Sheikh Hasina, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the latter’s visit to Dhaka in June last year. The gesture was widely resented in Pakistan. It is not surprising that past wars continue to divide the imagination of nation states to the present day. For instance, ritual offerings by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Yasukuni Shrine for the war dead invariably invite rebukes from both China and South Korea—the two countries see the shrine as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism.

However, if the formerly warring nations have transformed their relationship, the symbols of war need not be shunned indefinitely. They can indeed be embraced to bring about a closure. It was in such a spirit that US President Barack Obama decided to visit Hiroshima, the first of two cities hit by American nuclear bombs in 1945. And now, Abe is planning to visit Pearl Harbour, the site of the Japanese attack that drew the US into the World War II—which, of course, ended with the nuclear bombings.

Indo-Pakistan relations, however, are nowhere comparable to US-Japan relations. Hence, it is natural that the photograph of the 1971 surrender being given as a gift is not a pleasant sight for the Pakistanis. But could this have been different? Yes, provided the leaders in Pakistan—both civilian and military—had drawn different lessons from the 1971 defeat than they did.

It is instructive to note how US-Japan relations turned on their head after the World War II. In his book World Order: Reflections On The Character Of Nations And The Course Of History, Henry Kissinger recalls asking Harry S. Truman about the proudest achievement of the latter’s presidency. Truman replied: “… we totally defeated our enemies and then brought them back to the community of nations.” This did not stem organically from the “humane and democratic values” of America, as Kissinger would have us believe, but from internalization of the lessons from history—of the grievous mistakes committed in the aftermath of World War I.

P.N. Haksar, the top adviser to former prime minister Indira Gandhi, was well aware of those mistakes. Haksar ensured that the 1972 Simla Agreement between India and Pakistan did not repeat the errors of the Treaty of Versailles. From his study of history, Haksar had concluded that “if those who sat around the table at Versailles to conclude a peace with Germany defeated during the First World War had acted with wisdom and not imposed upon Germany humiliating terms of peace, not only the rise of Nazism would have been avoided but also the seeds of the Second World War would not have been sown.” Haksar had, it seems, learnt the same lesson as Truman.

He would convince the Indian prime minister—notes historian Srinath Raghavan—“that a punitive settlement would only prepare the ground for further conflict in South Asia”. This explains why India did not leverage a stupendous military victory and the capture of 93,000 prisoners of war to settle the Kashmir dispute once and for all in its favour.

Even if India, learning from history, did not unilaterally impose the terms of the Simla Agreement, the leadership in Pakistan did not draw the lessons from the war which could lead to cessation of hostilities. In fact, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who took over power after the war, was actually interested in initiating a “1,000-year war” against India. He would commit Pakistan to the acquisition of nuclear weapons so as to prevent a repeat of the 1971 humiliation. This acquisition was supported actively by China and passively by the US.

In a famous 1999 essay titled “Give War A Chance” for the Foreign Affairs journal, Edward N. Luttwak had said: “…although war is a great evil, it does have a great virtue: it can resolve political conflicts and lead to peace.” For all its decisive ending with the dismemberment of the state of Pakistan, the 1971 war could not bring peace. The nuclear parity that the war led to has allowed Pakistan to engage in low-cost asymmetrical warfare while keeping another full-scale war at bay—many scholars don’t treat Kargil (1999) as a full-scale war. Such an artificial freezing of conflict—to use the words of Luttwak in a somewhat different context—“[perpetuates] a state of war indefinitely by shielding the weaker side from the consequences of refusing to make concessions for peace”.

It, however, didn’t have to end this way if Pakistan had drawn the correct lessons from 1971. Unlike the US and Japan, Pakistan could not have made India its ally but could have shown interest in developing economic interdependencies, the way Japan did with both China and South Korea.

 


In surprise move, Lt. Gen. Bipin Rawat appointed next Army Chief

The HINDU

Air Marshal B.S. Dhanoa, presently the Vice Chief of Indian Air Force (IAF) has been appointed the next Air Chief.

In a surprise move, the government on Saturday announced Lt Gen Bipin Rawat as the next Chief of Army Staff.

The appointment goes against the long held tradition of appointing the senior most eligible officer to the post. By seniority, Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Eastern Command should have been appointed.

Air Marshal B.S. Dhanoa, presently the Vice Chief of Indian Air Force (IAF) has been appointed the next Air Chief.

“The next Army Chief will be LT Gen Bipin Rawat with effect from the afternoon of December 31,” Defence Ministry Spokesperson confirmed.

Army Chief General Dalbir Singh and Air Force head Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha will retire on December 31.

Lt Gen Bakshi is widely respected as a highly competent and professional officer. The last time the senior most eligible officer was not appointed was in 1983 when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi choose to appoint Lt Gen A.S. Vaidya as the Chief contrary to expectations that Lt Gen S.K. Sinha would be the Chief. Lt Gen S.K. Sinha, then Vice Chief, choose to resign in June 1983 after the appointment though he was to retire in early 1984.

With this appointment two senior most officers have been superseded, unprecedented in the military so far. Lt Gen P.M. Hariz, Southern Army Commander is second in seniority after Lt Gen Bakshi.

Of late with unprecedented delay in the announcements, military circles have been rife with speculation of a change in the line of succession. It is customary to announce the names 2-3 months in advance.

Lt Gen Rawat is currently the Vice Chief of the Army. He was commissioned in the Fifth Battalion of the Eleven Gorkha Rifles in December 1978.

 

The Swedish newspaper was recently asked it to delete the reference made by President Pranab Mukherjee to the Bofors scam in an interview to it, as a claim protested by the Indian Government on 27 May 2015. India has expressed disappointment over the disrespect shown to the President, the newspaper has defended its right to publish what was said during the interview.

Know, who is Vijay Kelkar and what is PPP !

Vijay Kelkar is a renowned economist and a former Finance Secretary. He was appointed head of newly constituted committee to give recommendations to recast the model of Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) model in India. India is one of the largest PPP market with over 900 projects. The Kelkar committee will review the PPP policy, suggest a better risk-sharing mechanism between private developers and the government after analysing such projects.

Know, who is Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar !

Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar was crowned as the new Maharaja of of Mysuru (Mysore) royal family. He is the 23-year old grandson of Princess Gayathri Devi, who was the eldest daughter of the last Maharaja of Mysore, Sri Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar. The coronation was held at Mysuru’s famous Amba Vilas Palace, which was decked up for the occasion.

Know about Sepp Blatter!

Swpp Blatter, was re-elected as FIFA president for a fifth term at the 65th Annual Congress of FIFA held at Zurich for four year term.

Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan stood against Blatter in this election. It is worth mentioning that FIFA is going through a major controversy regarding corruption in the organisation with two FIFA vice presidents and a recently elected FIFA executive committee member still in custody.

 


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