Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government presented to Parliament on Wednesday an annual budget of $550 billion that calls for ramping up capital spending by 33% to spur economic growth and create jobs ahead of a general election next year. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said private investment was rising after the pandemic and the government should focus on driving growth. India’s economy is projected to grow 7% in the fiscal year ending in March. The government forecasts growth of 6%-6.5% next year. The country's population is expected to overtake China's in size this year, and its economy last year surpassed that of the United Kingdom to become the world's fifth largest. But despite steady economic growth, the Modi government has struggled to quash unemployment concerns and is under pressure to generate enough jobs, especially as it faces key state polls this year and a general election in 2024, which it is favored to win. “The budget makes the need once again to ramp up the virtuous cycle of investment and job creation,” Sitharaman said. According to the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy, the unemployment rate stood at 8.3% in December, up from 6.5% in January 2022. The government is aiming for a budget deficit of 5.9% of India's gross domestic product for the 2023-24 financial year, lower than the 6.4% for this fiscal year. Despite worries that the world economy is headed for a slump, the finance minister she was confident the country's future was bright. “India is on the right track,” she said. Read more: India raises interest rate to 5.4%, in 3rd hike since May Apart from raising capital spending on construction of schools, airports, heliports and other infrastructure to $122 billion, the budget extended a $24 billion scheme to provide free grains to vulnerable households for one year. The government will also increase by 66% its spending on providing affordable housing to the urban poor, Sitharaman said, and prioritize “green growth” with a $4.3 billion investment towards helping India meet its goal of going carbon neutral by 2070. The budget also announced new tax relief measures aimed at bringing some respite for India's large middle class. But it slashed spending by 30% on India's rural jobs program, a boon for the country's most vulnerable, triggering criticism from activists and the opposition. On Wednesday, Modi praised the budget as laying a strong “foundation for the aspirations and resolutions of a developed India," and said the government's investment into infrastructure has increased by more than 400% since 2014 when he first became prime minister. Sitharaman's budget speech was briefly interrupted by opposition lawmakers chanting “Adani, Adani,” after a tussle between Indian billionaire Gautam Adani and a U.S.-based short-seller dominated headlines this week. Political opponents have urged India's market regulator to investigate Adani after the short-selling firm accused his conglomerate of stock market manipulation and accounting fraud. The allegations led investors to dump Adani-related shares, wiping out tens of billions of dollars worth of market value for his business empire. Critics of the 60-year-old billionaire say his rise has been boosted by his apparent close ties to Modi. The Adani Group has denied the allegations. The budget requires approval from both houses of Parliament, but it is bound to be enacted as Modi's party holds a strong majority.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government's prominent Muslim face Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi resigned as India's Minority Affairs Minister on Wednesday. The 64-year-old's sudden resignation comes a day before his term as a member of Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Parliament) ends, triggering speculation that he may run for the Vice-President of India. Read: India’s Nupur Sharma battle reaches the judiciary Earlier in the day, Naqvi met with Prime Minister Modi and BJP president JP Nadda."He has handed over his resignation to Modi after the meeting," sources told UNB. Naqvi began his political career as a student leader and was jailed during the Emergency. He served as junior Information and Broadcasting Minister in former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's government in the late 1990s. Read: In Kashmir, ‘conscious music’ tests India’s limits on speech Incumbent Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu's five-year term ends on August 10. The elections are slated for August 6.
Indian President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have greeted people on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr. "On the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr, I extend my best wishes and greetings to all the fellow citizens, especially our Muslim brothers and sisters," the President said in his message. "On the auspicious occasion of Eid, let us resolve to rededicate ourselves to the service of humanity and to improve the lives of the poor and needy," he added. Modi, who's currently on a three-nation tour of Europe, also took to Twitter to convey his greetings to citizens on Eid. Also Read: Indian PM gets second dose of Covid vaccine "Best wishes on Eid-ul-Fitr. May this auspicious occasion enhance the spirit of togetherness and brotherhood in our society. May everyone be blessed with good health and prosperity,” the PM tweeted. Though Hindus make up nearly 80% of India's 1.30 billion population, Muslims comprise roughly 15%.
British Premier Boris Johnson on Thursday arrived in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state of Gujarat on a two-day India visit, a tour expected to give fresh impetus to the proposed bilateral free-trade agreement. "It’s fantastic to be in India, the world’s largest democracy," Johnson tweeted after his flight landed at the international airport in the city of Ahmedabad this morning. Also read: 10 killed in India road accident "I see vast possibilities for what our great nations can achieve together. Our powerhouse partnership is delivering jobs, growth and opportunity. I look forward to strengthening this partnership in the coming days," he wrote. From the airport, the British PM went to Mahatma Gandhi's Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad and tried his hand at spinning the charkha. "It is an immense privilege to come to the Ashram of this extraordinary man, and to understand how he mobilised such simple principles of truth and non-violence to change the world for the better," he wrote in the visitor's book at the ashram. On Friday, Johnson is slated to meet PM Modi in Delhi where both the leaders are expected to discuss trade, defence and Indo-Pacific, among other issues. Also read: 14 arrested after communal violence in Indian capital Speaking to reporters on the plane on his way to India, the British PM said, "I have always been in favour of talented people coming to this country." "We are short to the tune of hundreds of thousands of people in our economy and we need to have a progressive approach and we will," he added.
Hundreds of workers marched with the red flags of the labor unions and chanted anti-government slogans in India’s capital on Tuesday as part of a two-day nationwide strike that began Monday. The demonstration was held at Jantar Mantar, an area of New Delhi close to Parliament that is often used for protests. Protesters said economic policies under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government were hurting workers and the country's vast unorganized sector. “Modi government has only one point, that it wants to hide its economic criminality under the garb of communalism and religion,” said Swadesh Dev Roye, a top official with the Centre of Indian Trade Unions. Read: Indian LOC: Fund disbursement nearly doubles in one year About a dozen labor unions that organized the strike want the government to provide universal social security coverage for workers in the vast unorganized sector, hike the minimum wage under a flagship employment guarantee program and scrap a new labor law that gives employers greater leeway in setting wages and working hours. The demonstrators included contract health workers who wore protective robes and demanded increased wages and regulation of their services. Strikers are also demanding that the government halt plans of privatization of some public-sector banks and the sale of public assets. Modi’s government says privatizing some state-owned banks would overhaul the banking industry and that asset sales would help raise money to spur economic growth. The two-day strike was felt nationwide, and essential services related to banking, transportation, railways and electricity were impacted in several states. Read:After 2 years, India resumes int'l flights Elsewhere in the country, protests were held in eastern West Bengal state where demonstrators stopped trains at several locations. In southern Kerala, where the state government led by the opposition Communist Party of India backed the protest, streets were empty and shops shuttered. India’s economy has bounced back after experiencing a major blow during the first two years of the pandemic. But many jobs have disappeared, with unemployment rising to 8% in December.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is all set to retain India's largest state of Uttar Pradesh, seen as the gateway to power in the 2024 general elections. This inference can be drawn from early trends showing the saffron outfit, led by monk-turned-politician Yogi Adityanath, is way ahead of the state's main opposition Samajwadi Party led by its young leader and former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav. Read: Modi welcomes Russia’s talks with Ukraine on ceasefire: MEA In fact, the trends indicate that the BJP has comfortably taken a lead in over 220 seats in the 403-member assembly. On the other hand, the Samajwadi Party is trailing in double digits. The final results will be out later in the day. Uttar Pradesh voted in seven phases --February 10, 14, 20, 23, 27, March 3 and 7 -- adhering to all Covid-safety protocols. While the opposition parties harped on issues like rising joblessness, high inflation and the BJP's Hindu majority politics, the BJP highlighted law-and-order problems during the Samajwadi Party rule. Uttar Pradesh is crucial for the BJP as it's said that the road to Delhi passes through Lucknow, its capital, and the party that wins the state stands a fair chance of forming the next federal government. Read: Mamata, Modi on the same page on Ukraine crisis Moreover, a win in Uttar Pradesh will be a major boost for the Prime Minister halfway through his second term in power. The general elections are due in India in 2024.
India's first military chief General Bipin Rawat, his wife and 11 other armed forces personnel were killed in a chopper crash in the southern state of Tamil Nadu on Wednesday. The 63-year-old decorated Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) was on his way to deliver a lecture at the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington when the ill-fated Mi-17 V5 helicopter crashed just before landing around 11.45am in the hilly terrain of the Nilgiris in the state's Coonoor district and burst into flames. A senior Air Force officer accompanying the four-star General survived the fatal crash but sustained severe burn injuries. He has been identified as Group Capt Varun Singh, who is currently under treatment at the Military Hospital in Wellington. Read: India's military chief feared dead in chopper crash
India's Omicron cases have risen to 21, with as many as 17 people testing positive for this new variant of Covid across the country in 24 hours, officials said Monday. This is a sharp spike of 19 cases of the Omicron variant in just four days, despite the country ramping up efforts to contain its spead. India Thursday reported its first two known Omicron variant cases, discovered in two men in Karnataka state. "In 24 hours till Sunday night, nine people in the northwestern Indian city of Jaipur, seven in the western city of Pune and a 37-year-old fully vaccinated man who arrived in the national capital from Tanzania tested positive for the new variant," an official said. Read:India reports first two Covid cases of Omicron variant Omicron has been classified as "a variant of concern" by the World Health Organisation. It was first discovered in South Africa. Meanwhile, on Monday, India logged a total of 8,306 new Covid cases in 24 hours, taking the total caseload to 3,46,41,561, according to the latest Health Ministry data. Last week, the Indian government backtracked on its decision to resume regular international flights from December 15, following an advice from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Indian government put curbs on all domestic and international flights in March last year in the wake of the Covid-induced lockdown. However, it allowed domestic flights from May 2020, and the entry of all foreigners except tourists from October that year.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday gave a five-pronged target for India and finally committed to a Net Zero emission target by 2070, joining the likes of the US, the UK and China, reports Business Standard. “I am giving a panchamrit — five targets that India is committing to join the global fight for climate change — by 2030. Our non-fossil capacity will touch 500 Gw and 50 per cent of our energy needs will come from renewable energy sources. From now to 2030, the projected carbon emissions will reduce by 1 billion tonnes and our overall carbon intensity of the economy will see a 45 per cent reduction.” In line with expectations from the UK and the US, he said India would be a Net Zero economy by 2070. Net Zero is achieved when the amount of greenhouse gas produced is offset by the amount removed from the atmosphere. This entails no future investment in coal or fossil fuels and greening several industries and economies. Read:How virtual galleries kept Indian art alive amid Covid Modi also upped the renewable energy target of the country to 500 Gw by 2030. It was 450 Gw earlier. India’s current RE capacity stands at 175 Gw. “Today India’s installed renewable capacity is fourth in the world. In the last seven years, our non-fossil fuel energy has seen 25 per cent growth and the share of green energy in the mix reached 40 per cent,” Modi said, adding that India’s national transporter, Indian Railways, had declared a Net Zero target year of 2030. “This entails 60 million tonnes of emission reduction every year. Another 40 million tonne emissions reduction will come from our LED programme,” Modi said. He spoke of several other initiatives of India, including the International Solar Alliance (ISA), and said India had joined the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure. He asked the developed world to increase financing to meet the enhanced targets that India had declared. “India has raised its ambition in setting its targets. They also need to raise ambitions in climate finance and tech transfer. The world cannot achieve newer targets with old goals of climate finance,” Modi said. India is the only country to fulfil commitments made in Paris. India is putting climate change at the centre of its policies, Modi said. "Whole world thinks is only one economy which has worked Paris agreement on letter and spirit and it is India," said the PM. The US has declared Net zero by 2050, same as the UK. China has net zero target year 2060. India has been long pressed by global leaders to declare a net zero target. From the US, John Kerry, special Presidential envoy for climate change, has long pressed India to declare a headline ‘Net Zero’ target. On his last visit to India, Kerry termed India a “red-hot investment destination” for the solar sector, saying the country has set an example for developing nations by reaching 100 Gw of renewable energy capacity. Read: US returns antiquities to India in stolen art investigation Speaking at the same event, Joe Biden, the US President said his government has proposed to quadruple the climate financing by the US by 2024 for adaptation efforts. He said the country will try to meet the $100 billion annual financing target of developed world to developing countries. A day before, Bhupendra Yadav, union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, said developed countries have not only failed to meet the $100 billion goal per year of support to developing countries. Delivering the statement on behalf of the BASIC group of countries, comprising Brazil, South Africa, India and China at the UN Climate Change Conference underway at Glasgow, Yadav said, "In a context where developing countries, including BASIC countries, have massively stepped up their climate actions since 2009, it is unacceptable that there is still no matching ambition from developed countries on the enabling means of implementation on climate finance support."
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday launched an ambitious 100 trillion rupee ($1.3 trillion) plan for integrated infrastructure development aimed at creating employment for hundreds of thousands of people and strengthening the economy, reports Nikkei Asia. "With the resolve of a self-reliant India, the foundation of India for the next 25 years is being laid," Modi said, adding that the plan will promote next-generation infrastructure and improve transport connections. Read: Covid vaccine: India's Covaxin gets emergency use approval for kids aged 2-18 The plan, called PM Gati Shakti, "will give impetus to the 21st-century India," he said. "PM" stands for "prime minister," while "Gati Shakti" is a Hindi expression meaning "the power of speed." An official statement issued ahead of the launch said the project will provide integrated connectivity for the movement of people, goods and services from one mode of transport to another. It also aims to create "last-mile" infrastructure and reduce travel time for people. The prime minister did not specify how the government plans to raise the 100 trillion rupees needed for the project. Each government department will be able to monitor others' activities under the plan, providing critical data, while planning and executing projects in a comprehensive manner, the government said. The scheme "will help in synchronizing the activities of each department, as well as of different layers of governance, in a holistic manner by ensuring coordination of work between them," the statement said. Read:India's Everest Organics starts making ingredient for Merck's COVID-19 pill Modi had earlier spoken about the plan in his Independence Day address on Aug. 15. "This scheme of more than 100 trillion rupees will result in new employment opportunities for hundreds of thousands of youths," Modi said at the time. "Gati Shakti will also go a long way in making our local manufacturers globally competitive, and this will also develop new possibilities for the creation of future economic zones," he said.