Below the Line

Updated on: May 22, 2022

Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, 17/04/2020: Rice and wheat stock at the godown of Food Cororation of India in Visakhapatnam on April 17, 2020, during a nationwide lockdown in the wake of coronavirus pandemic. Though Centre is offering food grains at a lower rate for supply to the poor during lockdown, there is not many takers. Photo: K.R. Deepak / The Hindu | Photo Credit: DEEPAK KR

The politics of wheat 

When Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman flagged concerns over possible cartelisation in markets and the short supply of commodities, she was actually making public an issue involving the current wheat situation. 

Though the Centre banned wheat exports from May 13, the impact on supply has been minimal with the Food Corporation of India being able to procure only a meagre 1.12 lakh tonne till five days after the ban. Those in the business say traders, who back an Opposition party that is trying to expand its footprint across the country currently, are holding huge stocks of wheat.  

In the past, such things happened with other commodities too, particularly onion during the 1990s, with traders owing allegiance to the then principal Opposition party. It resulted in the Bharatiya Janata Party not being able to return to power yet in Delhi. 

Incense sticks and liquor 

An official of an incense stick manufacturing firm, during an interaction with BusinessLine recently, said: “There are two things that are always in demand when people are happy or sad. One is agarbatti (incense sticks) and the other alcohol.” 

He made this observation while pointing out that the incense stick industry was growing 12-15 per cent annually. Recently, the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, a Delhi-based policy think tank, said the liquor industry is expected to grow 6.8 per cent annually till 2023. 

Elephant corridors 

Over the years, many elephants in Tamil Nadu have died or been injured after being hit by trains as they tried to cross the tracks. Both the Railways and the State government have been grappling with this issue for a long-time. 

The Railways now has a solution: construct underpasses to allow the jumbos to cross the tracks in the elephant corridor without any hindrance. Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said elephant death is a serious issue. The Railways will increase the height of the tracks and construct the underpasses to allow the elephants to cross the tracks. This will be quite an innovative and challenging task, he added. 

Hearing over WhatsApp 

When it came to embracing technology and adopting modern processes, Indian courts tend to value tradition and have always been slow off the block. The pandemic forced courts to go digital and hold online hearings. Last week, a Judge of the Madras High Court had to hold an urgent hearing pertaining to a temple rath festival (the petitioner had prayed that his village in Dharmapuri district of Tamil Nadu would invite divine wrath if the festival is not held immediately). The Judge who was out of town to attend a marriage decided to hold the hearing on WhatsApp. He quashed the order of an official and allowed the rath festival to go ahead as planned. 

Centre-State slugfest 

‘Discrimination’ against Telangana by the Centre is a common narrative in the State’s political circles. The ruling Telangana Rastra Samithi (TRS) is now taking to the streets, protesting against the alleged step-motherly treatment by the BJP-led Government at the Centre, even as the State BJP President Bandi Sanjay did a ‘ pada yatra’ to draw the attention of the people to mis-governance by the ruling party. 

The war of words between the parties is so intense that even Prime Minister Narendra Modi had to chip in, by way of advertisements in leading Telugu television channels highlighting the contribution being made by Central Government schemes for the development in the State. 

While the State and Centre slug it out, the results will be evident next year as the State goes for elections. 

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Published on May 22, 2022
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