Below the line

Our Bureau | Updated on September 26, 2019 Published on September 16, 2019

Best buddies

Russian President Vladimir Putin apparently spent 10 hours talking to Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his recent visit to Vladivostok, and BJP leaders can’t stop gushing about it. “A leader of Putin’s stature spending such a long time with another leader shows the importance he assigns to the country. This is the heights to which PM Modi has taken India,” a BJP Minister said at a recent meeting. The last time such a long interaction happened between the two leaders was in New Delhi, when Putin headed straight to meet Modi from the airport and spent a good part of the evening and the next day huddled with him. At the end of that visit, a satisfied Putin went home with the S-400 missile deal safely under his belt. One could list a number of deals that Russia would want this time round. But we’ll have to see how many come through with US President Donald Trump breathing down India’s neck!

Slip of the tongue?

A top Finance Ministry official, replying to questions from hacks, sought to downplay concerns around homebuyers getting the rough end of the stick from realty developers. The official repeatedly stated home buyers are now getting better treatment in IBC law as they are considered “operational creditors”! Little did it occur to him that after the IBC amendments, homebuyers are now treated as “ financial creditors”, a much better deal under the IBC’s waterfall mechanism.

Profit warning?

Brace for lower profits from banks in the coming quarters, warn bank chief executives in private conversations. Reason: the RBI and Finance Ministry’s keenness to ensure that banks’ lending rates are linked to external benchmarks is going drag margins, especially in current environment of falling interest rates. They also warned that linking lending rates to external benchmarks may be music to the ears of borrowers now, but EMIs could start going up when the interest rates cycle goes northwards.

PM-Kisan for another decade

Has the Narendra Modi government decided to extend its flagship agricultural input subsidy scheme — Pradhan mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-Kisan) — for 10 more years? That is the case, if Union Minister Prakash Javadekar were to be believed. While addressing a press conference at the end of the just-concluded COP14 on Friday, Javadekar said that “145 million farmers in India would get the input subsidy of ₹6,000 per annum for the next 10 years.” The PM-Kisan, instrumental in getting the NDA re-elected, was initially meant for 12.5 crore small and marginal farmers. But, upon re-election, the Modi government decided to extend it to all farmers, with some exceptions.

When trolls hit below the belt

The Modi government is well-known for using social media. However, it is having a tough time countering trolls as far as Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is concerned. The FM is being trolled for her remarks regarding the slowdown in auto industry. In fact, the trolls are getting creative too. The principal Opposition party went one step ahead and used a famous innerwear brand to show its sarcasm. Though many have blasted the Opposition party, there is no strong counter by the BJP itself. The IT Cell, too, seems to be missing this action.

Stealing ISRO’s thunder

As ISRO came into limelight for Chandrayaan-2, it became among the top trending terms on Twitter for not one but nearly three days. The ISRO chief and PM Modi’s emotional hug was after all an unforgettable moment. However, soon a flood of fake accounts emerged, with at least two fake handles in the name of ISRO’s chief Kailasavadivoo Sivan. These two handles quickly gained thousands of followers. Some online news articles even erroneously quoted the tweets. Eventually, ISRO had to warn Twitter users that its Chairman is not on Twitter and such handles are fake.

Let’s talk weather

Most CEOs of listed companies are cagey about talking to hacks on financials or company prospects during the slowdown. Many, it seems, don’t want to be seen by the government as the purveyor of negativity in the markets. The CEOs are however game to discuss weather or even bungy jumping. India Inc has taken the right approach, say economy watchers!

Published on September 16, 2019
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