RBI Annual Report FY 2016-17 – An Overview 

 Reserve Bank of India in its annual report stated that fiscal consolidation may come under threat both at the central and state level due to the immediate effects of the goods and service tax (GST), loan waivers and pay revisions, putting pressure on the overall growth matrix.

According to the report, public administration, defense, and other services mainly stifled the growth number. PADO added 2.2% points to the growth of real GVA in the services sector and 1.4 % points to the growth of overall GVA of 6.6% during the year.

In terms of production, agriculture and other allied activities recovered sharply in 2016-17. This was mainly facilitated by adequate monsoons as well as a considerable amount of increase in pulses’ minimum support prices (MSPs) that augmented the sector’s growth.

RBI said that there were uncertainties in regard to revenue mobilization, subsequent to the implementation of the goods and services tax along with increasing committed liabilities of states could led to a possible breach of fiscal deficit targets.

“In the fiscal sphere, while the gains in growth, efficiency and tax buoyancy over the medium term from the recent implementation of GST are unequivocally recognised, near-term uncertainties with regard to revenue mobilization therefrom – which could impact fiscal consolidation at both centre and state levels – cannot be ruled out as this fundamental reform gains pan-India traction,” RBI said in its annual report

The State finances have also deteriorated on account of the UDAY (Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana) scheme aimed at reviving poor power distribution companies (discoms) and revenue falling short despite cutbacks in capital expenses. Additionally, four state governments – Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, and Karnataka — are likely to face challenges as the farm loan waiver could derail the fiscal discipline.

 

Infrastructure saw many firsts

Stalled projects declined by 40% in terms of value and 37% in terms of number, according to the RBI’s annual report.
The financial year saw the highest ever awarding and construction of national highways. Also, capacity addition in all the major ports was also the highest during this year. India for the first time turned from a net importer to a net exporter of electricity.

 

Aggregate Demand Suffered

During the financial year 2016-17, GDP weakened due to the slowdown in Gross capital formation (Net increase in physical assets in the financial year) as a result of sluggish business confidence and lowering in the entrepreneurial spirit took a toll on the new investment. Gross fixed capital formation contributed barely 0.7 percentage points to the real GDP growth of 7.1% in FY17, despite accounting for around one-third of real GDP.
RBI’s assessment reflects the real GDP growth was largely sustained by private and public spending. In fact, in the absence of factors like the 7th Central Pay Commission hikes and the one-rank-one-pension for defense services, real GDP growth would have been lower by 2 percentage points, the regulator noted.

The RBI said Private consumption spending alone contributed two-thirds of the growth in aggregate demand.

On Demonetisation

The RBI reported that 632.6 crore notes of Rs 1,000 denomination in circulation, 8.9 crores have not been returned post the note ban on 8th November 2016. Thus, only 1.3% of Rs 1000 notes didn’t return after the demonetization exercise. The printing cost of new notes doubled to Rs 7,965 cr in the financial year 2017 from Rs 3,421 cr in the financial year 2016 on account of new currency printing post note ban.

 

 

 

 

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Burden

I saw him; just a glance was enough to get hold of my attention. There were many faces some were known and to some, I guess I have never paid enough attention. I even saw my friend waving at me, but I just didn’t want to lose him from my sight. The feeling was so new to me. I couldn’t take my eyes from him. I was talking to my friend but constantly trying to see him through the corner of my eyes. But I couldn’t find him. I felt hysteric, I just wanted to see that face again.

I saw him again; this time I noticed what was so attractive about him, his smile. So pure it was, so innocent it appeared on its face. The sun rays fell on his face and cheeks became red. He kept on looking back and so did I. I wanted to ask his name. I wanted to talk to him and know more about him. But something stopped me. I still do not know what exactly made me think I should I have a conversation with him. And most importantly what made me stop.

Was it fear of the unknown or the fear of stumbling up with my words? I am still searching for the answer as I walk back. The feeling keeps lingering in my mind. I can still picture him. Now when I recall the entire episode in my mind I get a clear picture. The actual reason as to why I couldn’t take my eyes from him. The reasons were his hands. The hands that pulled the trolley loaded with heaps of sacks. The hands, that pulled it all the way. The sun rays burned his bare hands… which made his face glow only to make it look like on burning fire. Eyes as black as coal; and hands as strong as iron.

I didn’t pity him or his condition. Instead, I pitied all those who walked by him, all of us who carried our own stacks of books. The hands that pulled the trolley didn’t complain about. His eyes pierced into our conscience. His smile mocked us. He mocked the society who was so ignorant about the reality. It mocked all of us, who dragged their feet and complained about the hardships we have in our lives. It was a mockery on the burdens we claim to carry on our shoulders from the time the sun rises and carry it till it goes into hiding. His hands pulled away from the burdens of society without questioning it.

 

Some Unusual Weekend Getaways

At a time when the holiday bells are demanding, the perfect way to regain yourself is to take a vacation to explore the unknown places in India. This festive season, travel the lengths and breadths of our country and find joy in the offbeat corners of it. We’ve put together for you the sheer must-see off feet places in India which are offbeat and travelogues often skip because of the concealed  nature of these locales. After all, Columbus wouldn’t be Columbus if he’d stayed to take the same journey, again and again, right? India has no absence of beautiful journey’s end. Some are more favored and more commercialized than others. That in no way implies that the lower-known places have anything less to offer; just that they haven’t been explored as much. This is why you need to know places that aren’t as sopped by tourists. You need a list of the most underrated travel options in India. You would be surprised by how much this country has to offer.
1. Chopta, Uttarakhand: Less is more
Watch the slopes of Chopta waving slightly and smell the grass of its pasturage and relax in its idyllic vibe. Chopta, a small village in Uttarakhand is perfect for those who need to catch their breath after a haranguing run in urban life. Partake in some adventure sports, or trek or just open a picnic basket in the beautiful meadows, perfection is the keyword here. Unwind, take a break!March to June is the best time to visit Chopta. Watch the little hill animals come from hibernation and plants blossom again.Off-season traveling in Chopta is not allowed because of a rocky terrain and unfriendly weather.
2. Valley of Flowers, Uttarakhand: Mystically yours
Snow driven hills, wild flowers, walking among the clouds – is there any other formula for a better holiday? We think not! Enjoy the feel of being in one of the amazing and beautiful, yet unvisited tourist places of India. Valley of Flowers is a must do eccentric place. July to September are the only months when trekking in Valley of Flowers is allowed. It is said that for one week in July, the hills look splashed with three different colors, owing to the spread of flowers on the valley. Fascinating, don’t you think?
3. Devprayag, Uttarakhand: Sacred Confluence
Touched by the gathering of the rivers Alaknanda and Bhagirathi, Devprayag is a favorite Hindu pilgrimage town. Snuggled in the lap of the Himalayas, this is a dream place for travelers all over.The winters tend to get extremely cold, but perfect clothing is all that’s required. The summers are chill and better than the rest of the country.
4. Bundi, Rajasthan: As old as time
Bundi is a town in Rajasthan best known for its old claim. It has traded names and hands several times in the centuries that are behind us, and what is surplus is the beautiful form of the past. Bundi makes for a beautiful unusual holiday in Rajasthan, different from the likes of Ajmer, Jaipur and Jaisalmer.
October to March have good weather for a trip to Bundi.
 5.Mokokchung, Nagaland: Seated in the hills
Mokokchung is one of the biggest vast central places of Nagaland. The main tourist attractions are the District Museum, the Town main park, Unman village and the Ao village. A tourist might also be interested in places like Longkhum, Langpangkong, Mopungchukit, and Chuchuyimlang which are situated in the district.
October to June. The sowing and Harvesting festivals are colorful and alluring, so visiting at those times makes for a pleasant experience.
Bags packed already? Run along, take that break! Have a happy and safe journey.

Redrawing the Map

There were so many princely states in India that there was a disagreement even as to their number. Some historians say that there were 521 provinces, while some put the number over 550. On one end of the scale were the massive states of Kashmir, Hyderabad and Junagarh, each of the size of an European country; on the other end, tiny chiefdoms, or Jagirs, comprising a dozen or fewer villages.

These states owed their mid-twentieth-century shape and powers to the British. Starting as a group of traders, the East India Company had eventually moved towards a more authoritative position. The political dependence of these princely states was controlled entirely by the British. From the 1920’s, the Congress leaders pressed the former to at least beseech the British in being allowed a small political representation. Under the Congress, umbrella rested the All India States People Conference.

When, on June 3rd, 1947, it was announced that India would be liberated, the princely states were given a choice: they could either remain independent or join the new Dominion of India or the soon to be born state of Pakistan. The decision received a very ambivalent reaction: for some, it was a no-brainer—they decided to be part of the new Dominion of India; for others, however, the decision presented a dilemma. Under the pressure of the popular State People’s Movements and guided by the masterful diplomacy of Sardar Vallabhai Patel and V.P. Menon, most states acceded to India. Sardar Patel handled efficiently the integration of the princely states with his diplomatic skills and foresightedness. The problem of amalgamating over 550 independent states with a democratic self-governing India was difficult and delicate. He broke the unity of separatist princes. By August 15, 1947, all states except Hyderabad, Junagarh and Kashmir acceded to India.

HYDERABAD:
Hyderabad began life as a Mughal vassal state in 1713. Its ruler was conventionally known as the Nizam. 85% of the state’s population was Hindu, but Muslims dominated the army, police and bureaucracy. The Nizam, Osman Ali Khan Asif Jah VII, a Muslim ruler who presided over a largely Hindu population, choose to continue as an Independent state. His ambitions, if realized, would virtually have cut off north India from the south. Sardar Patel, in his own words, called an independent Hyderabad a “cancer in the belly of India”. The state congress, however, demanded that Hyderabad fall into line with the rest of India. The Nizam had the Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen, which wished to safeguard the position of Muslims in administration and politics. Kasim Rizvi, the leader of the Razakars (volunteers of Ittehad-ul-muslimeen), told Sardar Patel that if the government pressurized the Nizam into signing the instrument of succession, the Hindu community in the state would face the consequence.

When the Nizam boasted of anti-India feelings and let loose a blood bath spearheaded by the Razakars, Patel decided upon police action. He ordered the army to march into Hyderabad. Indian forces took over in just five days. The mission, called ‘Operation POLO’, led to massive communal violence, with hundreds losing their lives. Eventually, however, the Nizam surrendered, and Hyderabad acceded to India.

KASHMIR:

Kashmir, being a border state, had yet to decide its fate. The then monarch, Maharaja Hari Singh, a Hindu ruler of a majority of Muslim population, decided that Kashmir would remain an independent state. On 22nd October 1947, however, locals and tribal men backed by Pakistan invaded Kashmir. The Maharaja tried to ward off the attack, but at last appealed for assistance to the Governor General Louis Mountbatten. Mountbatten agreed to help on the condition that Kashmir had to accede to the Indian dominion.

The instrument of accession was signed on 26 October 1947 and accepted the next day. Once the document was cemented, Indian soldiers entered Kashmir in order to evict the raiders.

This, however, was one of the many relationships that saw a dead end amidst political agony. Kashmir still sees the conflict on a daily basis and has been a major bone of contention between the nations of India and Pakistan.

JUNAGADH:

Among the states that had not signed the Instrument of Accession was Junagadh, which lay in the peninsula of Kathiawar in western India. Like Hyderabad, Junagarh had a Muslim ruler and a primarily Hindu population. Its main port was 325 nautical miles from the Pakistani capital of Karachi, which was another reason that sparked the new government’s worry.

The Nawab of Junagadh, Mohammad Mahabat Khanji III, was an eccentric character. In the summer of 1947, while he was on holiday in Europe, the existing Diwan was replaced by Sir Shah Nawaz Bhutto, a leading Muslim League politician from Sindh, who had close associations with the Pakistan government. After the Nawab returned, Bhutto pressed him to join Pakistan and stay out of the Indian union.

On 14th August 1947, Nawab Khanji chose to accede to Pakistan, citing that Junagadh adjoined Pakistan by sea. V.P. Menon went to negotiate with the Nawab, but the ruler refused to see him due to an illness. Menon met with Diwan Shah Nawaz instead, who said that he would favour the issue being decided upon by a referendum.

After the meetings failed, a provisional government was setup in Junagadh. The government became the wheel of popular agitation against the Nawab, who had, in the meanwhile, fled to Pakistan. After a few days of contentions, the Diwan announced that the administration of Junagarh would officially be handed over to the Indian government. The Indian government organized the plebiscite. Consequently, a referendum in February 1948 resulted in over 90% of the electorate votes being in favour of the state acceding to India.

With great skill and diplomacy, and using both persuasion and pressure, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel succeeded in integrating hundreds of princely states into the Indian union. However, one must not forget the considerable role played here by the existence, or at least the potential presence, of mass pressures. Some states had shown realism and nationalism by joining the Union in 1947. The majority of princes, however, had stayed away and a few, such as those of Kashmir, Junagadh and Hyderabad, had publicly announced their desire to claim an independent status. The former rulers were given the title of “Raj Pramukhs”. Additionally, they were allowed to retain their personal privileges, along with tax free privy purses.

This is largely how the present India came into existence. After attaining independence from the foreign rulers, as well as from the Indian ones, the people of India established their own rule, that is, democracy.

Today, with faith in their own ability and their will to succeed, the people of India are set to change the face of their country and build a just, egalitarian and good society.

Is reservation the way out?

Like, should be treated alike and unlike differently! This is the very basic reasoning behind the reservation system in India. It is also based on Article 14 of the Indian Constitution which speaks about ‘Equal protection of Law’.

It dates back to 1933 when, the Prime Minister of Britain, Ramsay Macdonald, introduced the Communal Award, according to which separate representation was to be provided for the Muslims, Sikhs, Indian Christians, Anglo-Indians, Europeans and Dalits. The depressed classes were assigned a number of seats to be filled by election from special constituencies in which voters belonging to the depressed classes could only vote.

The Award was extremely contentious and was opposed by Mahatma Gandhi, who fasted in protest against it. Though it was supported by many among the minority communities, the most notable amongst them was revolutionary Dr. B. R. Ambedkar. After extensive negotiations, Gandhi reached an agreement with Dr. Ambedkar to have a single Hindu electorate, with Dalits having seats reserved within it and this agreement was known as the Poona Pact.

This splendidly shows that our present reservation system has a long history though it changed its form with time, or rather with every political regime. For instance, The Mandal Commission in India was established in 1979 by the Janata Party government under Prime Minister Morarji Desai with a mandate to “identify the socially or educationally backward.” It was headed by Indian parliamentarian Bindheshwari Prasad Mandal to consider the question of seat reservations and quotas for people to redress caste discrimination, and used eleven social, economic, and educational indicators to determine “backwardness.” A decade after the commission gave its report, V.P. Singh, the Prime Minister at the time, tried to implement its recommendations in 1989. The criticism was sharp and people across the country held massive protests against it. No political party has ever taken a stance against reservation.  Generally, they support it but mostly choose to remain silent to bank their political interest. Many times, they bring along with them new proposals, reserving some or the other caste or community. People are divided on the basis of castes for political advantages.

The opponents of the issue argue that allocating quotas on the basis of caste is a form of racial discrimination, and contrary to the right to equality.While the supporters underline the idea that everyone is born equal but, in unequal circumstances. And when the circumstances have been a result of a social system then the system either needs to be abandoned or reformed. Opponents claim that reservation for Christians, Muslims and other religious minorities in any institution is contrary to the idea of secularism. Supporters say that in a perfectly functioning society, the institutions and also various other walks of life must represent the many sections roughly in proportion to their share in the population. In India, it is clearly not the case and hence the need for reservations.

But if we notice there is also a competition for the reserved seats amongst the members of the “backward class”. Most often, only economically sound people from the lower castes make use of such seats. So the people who essentially need it the most do not get the opportunity because of this competition. And this counteracts the very spirit of reservations.

A large influential section of the voting population sees reservation as a benefit for them thus no government is willing to take the risk of changing this policy.

There are no efforts made to give proper primary education to truly deprived classes so there is no need to reserve seats for higher studies.

Seasons

Life is like seasons. Seasons which are felt differently but still in sequence. Seasons of our perceptions, hardships, joys felt by our senses. Seasons change and so do the memories that fade away with it. The blazing sun gives way to pattering manna falling from the skies which is soon laden with a carpet of sunlit leaves, breaking and simmering in the winds of winter that follow it. The snow covered boulders make way for the first bloom of spring when the blazing sun scorches in all its might. Such is nature’s clockwork and such is our plight! Spectators of fleeting seasons and fading memories.
I remember the seasons. I remember the blooming roses behind our picket fence that year. The climbers hung from all parts of the house like rich ornaments on your forehead. The world seemed rosy, covered by a sea of green and the radiance of your crimson cheeks, you would sit on the stairs staring at the windy sky after night fall. The wind blew the cascade of hair in my face while you tried to hold them back. l could notice your hands shivering and trembling in the candlelight while you tried to reach for them. the darkness of the night broken by the light made you scarcely recognisable that night. I stared at you all the night without you noticing it. Your eyes were unmistakably beautiful as they glistened like emeralds in the candlelight, your clothes hung loosely on your withered breasts covering the torn pieces that remained of you. The candlelight across the dark room creating gigantic impressions of us sitting together by the window as the winds stop blowing and the drops of the perspiration on your forehead started glowing till one last gush blew away the candle, plunging the room in an unknown well of darkness. The Midsummers night had ended and so had your purgation. The time for the seasons to change had come.

Sun blazed in all its might over the crescent of the silver lagoon. You stood by the lagoon with your fishing rod, hoping to find a catch. I still remember the brown hat you wore that summer afternoon, to hide your hair so that I wouldn’t notice the change, notice the patches of your hair breaking away, revealing the imperfections you thought you had.
I remember holding your frail child-like hands, feeling the ridges of your wrinkled hands, reminding me of what lay ahead. I knew what lay ahead, another union in another place, where I could wish for that blissful permanence for eternity. The eternity
seemed like seconds back in that summer, where l would capture you in my film rolls and store you forever in the reels of remembrance so serve me longer man my memory. You stood on your legs the last time that afternoon. Raindrops fell from the cloud and scattered myriad colour just like the stains on your body. Another phase had been reached, another season had changed.

You held my hands while l wheeled you down to the ocean. The skies above were darker than the usual monsoon sky as if heaven was trying to shelter you from the cosmic flares above it but who came forward to save you from the inside? As the skies washed away the sins of the Earth it gave you and me, our eternity in that season of sorrow. I remember how you clapped when your wheel chaired legs felt the sand and the sea. Your feet glistened in the sand as if studded with diamonds.
That season, you looked like a mermaid, shackled to the remnants of her body, ready to break free from the world with a dive in the sea. I sat down beside my Mermaid on that rainy evening, and clasped her cheeks and caressed them as a tear drop fell to the ground. I remember how you played with my hair before falling asleep in my arms while I dried your wet tresses for the last time.

Raindrops fell from the skies from the bosom of clouds, teardrops fell from my heart as it bled for you. Your gossamer like hair flew in the winds that felt colder and I knew I had to take you back. Our impermanent eternity was over, for the Winter had come.

Winter had come and with it had come the time for you to go. With the blink of an eye, you were gone. I wanted to fight every god and demon in rage because they had taken the essence of my life, rendering it meaningless. I remember that snowy morning when the burial took place. You were lowered in a large casket in the earth to lie there for the rest of your life and grow beyond your suffering. The winds of winter had come like a fang and took you away. But, no season changed and no memory faded. Maybe because your wings were ready and my heart was not.

 

 

 

WAYNE ROONEY BIDS FAREWELL TO MANCHESTER UNITED

The talks had been going on forever; they were saying he would leave but they had said so many times before and he always ended up staying. This time though, the departure became official from speculative. He left to go from where he came; where at age 16 he thundered the ball into the net against the “invincible” Arsenal. The commentator said back then “Remember the name!” A decade and a half later, it is a household name all across the world.
The last few seasons have been somewhat painful for Manchester United. The “Class of 92” is gone, the boss Sir Alex retired, the trophies dried up and frustration became the routine from being the exception. However, there was always one link that served as a reminder to the glory days – the days when the Champions League was won in Moscow, the days when back to back league titles were the norm and the days when the league cup would just be won for fun. The link to that glorious past was the man who grew with the club almost as soon as he joined it.
He was a gifted talent who formed a great partnership with another teen sensation from Portugal. Together the prodigy from Lisbon and the child genius from Everton were a delight to watch becoming the nightmare duo of all clubs in England; Ronaldo soon left and that made Rooney even more level headed and mature. From being a short tempered young boy, he transformed into a level headed leader of men seeing through the club’s transition as the legends were departing.
In recent years, as past players and trophies were saying good-bye to United, form was bidding farewell to Rooney. The stamina was going down with age, the goals were drying up and the spot in the team was soon lost to new found talents. It was a pain to watch for any United fan. The superhero no longer seemed supreme. However, is it the end that counts or is it more of the journey that matters!
As the leading goal scorer in the club’s prestigious history and a winner of five league titles, a Champions League, a club World Cup and a Europa League; Rooney will go down in history as one of the all time great footballers and one of Manchester United’s most loyal servants.
For any United fan, Rooney was the symbol of glory and trophies, he was a reminder of the grit and determination of the club. His missile-like blast against Newcastle all those years ago, his goal from the half line against West Ham, his free-kick against Stoke to become United’s leading goal scorer and above all his bicycle kick against Manchester City on that afternoon at Old Trafford will be a part of Manchester folklore for generations.
What Martin Tyler said as a commentator when Rooney scored that once in a lifetime bicycle kick can actually now be said about his entire career at Manchester United – “Rooneeeeeeyyy! It defies description! How about ‘sensational’? How about ‘superb’?”
Thank you for the memories.