Below the line

| Updated on May 02, 2021

Sage sayings

Business and political leaders often go philosophical to explain away things not going their way. The Reserve Bank of India has turned to literature and popular writers to give comfort at a time when the country is going through economic uncertainty. In its latest State of the Economy Report, the RBI has used quotes from Valmiki, Benjamin Franklin, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Paulo Coelho, Barack Obama, William Shakespeare among others to infuse hope. For example, it quotes Dostoyevsky that the secret of man’s being is not only to live but to have something to live for, to convey that India has a lot to live for, including the strong likelihood of emerging the world’s fastest-growing economy in 2021 and 2022. If words could soothe economic sentiments, the RBI would have done its job.

‘Gift’ of oxygen

Call this the Covid-19 effect. You can now import oxygen concentrators for personal use from international online e-commerce platforms and still not pay import duty by declaring them as “gifts”. Given the huge demand for concentrators as the Covid second wave rages on, the government has diluted its own earlier December 2019 norms barring duty-free consignments coming in the guise of “gifts”. It has now allowed oxygen concentrators to be imported — including those purchased from foreign e-commerce portals — through post or courier and declared as “gift”, without attracting duties. The only rider is that this exemption for oxygen concentrators is being allowed only till July 31 and that too for “personal use”! The DGFT order clearly states that this has been issued with the approval of the Commerce and Industry Minister.

Ad war

The Karnataka Government recently released an advertisement thanking the Prime Minister for “the landmark decision of granting approval to Phase-2A & 2B of Namma Metro providing connectivity to Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport.”

It drew immediate objections from the Opposition, which said that the money spent on releasing the advertisement could have been used to fight the pandemic.

But, then, the Opposition had acted similarly when it was in power, releasing advertisements hailing their leaders in Delhi when the State was reeling under a severe drought.

Whenever the State Assembly meets again, these issues are bound to be discussed but, as usual, nothing much will come of it.

Softening the blow

It is now well known that Delhi, which is battling the fourth wave, is perhaps the worst hit city with total new infections in the last 17 days totalling 4 lakh. So as not to spread despondency among people, the administration is doing its bit to keep the alarming stats away from the public gaze as much as possible. The Chief Minister’s Office has now made it a standard practice to release the daily Delhi State Health Bulletin well past 11 p.m. This is a good strategy, say observers. One is reminded of a leading corporate that used to routinely reveal its quarterly financial performance numbers very late in the evening, sometimes near midnight, so that it will miss the eyes of the reporters!

Muffling dissent

Telangana Health Minister Eatala Rajender was shunted out of office in the midst of the State’s fight against the pandemic. No, not for mishandling of the crisis but on charges of land-grab. Acting swiftly on complaints by some farmers, Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao ordered a probe against his close aide of over two decades. He thought the Minister would quit on his own.

But Eatala, the only TRS leader barring the KCR family, to have a State-wide stature, refused to budge. Upset at not getting an audience with the CM for quite a while, Eatala has been publicly venting his displeasure. There were even rumours of his quitting the party to float his own outfit.

The Chief Minister's move is seen as a ploy to scuttle this plan and show Eatala in poor light.

This move is seen as a calculated risk as the ruling TRS is facing a tough challenge from the BJP, which has cut into its base in the State capital in the recent polls to the civic body. Our Bureaus

Published on May 02, 2021

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