Opinion

Below the line: Will RBI blink?

| Updated on August 02, 2020 Published on August 02, 2020

 

Will Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Shaktikanta Das show his shakti again in the coming weeks? The buzz in the corridors of power is that Das may well have to blink in the face of bad loans in August itself, given that the moratorium period on consumer loans is coming to an end this month.

The upcoming Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) Review on August 4-6 could well be an ideal occasion for the RBI Governor to make a one-time restructuring announcement, feel industry insiders. Either way, it will take about six months for industry to see the benefits of any such move, given the maze of procedures that are involved like respective bank board approvals, etc. However, this is much better outcome for those in airline, retail, travel, and hospitality sectors than just almost drawing a revenue blank due to Covid-19. No two ways about it!

Reliance factor

A WhatsApp message has been doing the rounds among the employees of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL), saying (in Hindi): “Reliance Industries ne haali mein BPCL ke purva chairman Sarthak Behuria ko company se joda hai. Sutra ka kehna hai ki yeh uski boli lagane ki mansha se juda ho sakta hai.” (Reliance Industries has recently got former BPCL chairman Sarthak Behuria associated with it company. Source says that this could be an attempt to bid for BPCL).

Behuria, who recently joined RIL as a senior advisor, is an old hand in the country’s oil refining-cum-retailing sector. After BPCL, he rose to become the chairman of Indian Oil Corporation in 2005. Behuria will reportedly help in shaping RIL’s fuel retail business. Well!

Breaking news

It was a news break that lasted less than an hour. The Finance Ministry sent an invitation for a press conference with top officials of the Tax Department, subject not shared. This made the inquisitive reporters scramble for information, which they managed to get.

But, alas! Less than an hour after sending the invitation, it was withdrawn. Why? It is still a mystery. Last heard, another briefing is being planned. It could be either physical or virtual, and the subject will be the same. However, there is still no certainty whether or when top tax brass will appear.

Sleepless nights

With the government expected to bite the bullet of privatisation of certain state-run banks in the next few weeks, bank mitras — who did a terrific job during the lockdown — are having sleepless nights. Reason: Once some of the public sector banks get privatised, the new private management may not be interested in social banking and would end up shutting the “financial inclusion” departments. A privatisation drive would also mean troubled days for millions of urban and rural poor, who were hitherto relying on such PSBs for delivery of the benefits of government schemes.

Suit and tie

When it comes to virtual AGMs in the era of WFH, the choice of clothes for India Inc captains is almost as important as the agenda. At the HDFC AGM, Chairman Deepak Parekh responded to shareholders’ comments on why he was not wearing a suit. “You all are sitting at home and asking me why I am not wearing a suit,” he joked, adding that he was wearing a tie!

In a similar vein, Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra, who is quite active on Twitter, conducted a poll on the platform on what he should wear to the M&M annual shareholder meeting. He had previously tweeted a photo of himself at the TechMahindra AGM and said the most difficult part was wearing a suit and tie!

Seeking support

A few weeks ago, India’s pharma magnate Kiran Mazumdar Shaw lined up a galaxy of physicians who endorsed her company Biocon’s new investigative drug Itolizumab for Covid-19 management. Despite this, doctors at large, the scientific community and media were not convinced about the evidence generated on the drug by testing it on merely 20 patients.

Recently, a reporter approached Shaw to participate in a webinar, but Shaw refused point blank and was heard saying she will refrain from media interactions for at least six months, as the press was not supportive of Itolizumab!

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Published on August 02, 2020
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