Apropos ‘Rural areas absorb more credit than urban regions, finds RBI body study’ (November 12), it is encouraging that NBFCs and fintech NBFC lenders have increased their focus on rural areas and steeply stepped up rural lending. However, the fact that even after such high growth in 2021 and 2022, the total credit for rural areas is below 21 per cent of total credit of NBFC shows the low priority accorded earlier for rural lending. Rural areas are still ruled by usurious moneylenders who not only charge high interest rates, but also force farmers into making distress sale of their produce immediately after harvest to recover their dues, irrespective of the prevailing market rate of the produce. There is an urgent need to expand the branch network of institutional lenders in rural India.
It is indeed a reflection of the global opinion and deep humanitarian sentiment that the latest UN resolution against Israeli settlement in the occupied Palestinian territory was passed overwhelmingly with only seven countries voting against it. That India voted in favour of the resolution along with 144 countries is to be welcomed, as it reflects India’s consistent foreign policy position that has stood for a negotiated two-state solution with a sovereign, independent state of Palestine co-existing with Israel.
India has certainly a role to play in bringing the hostilities to an end, thanks to its democratic credentials over the last six decades. Democracy, in essence, is integrated humanism. The way the autocratic regimes have been conducting themselves in conflicts, obviously, does not constitute a model to look at.
Angara Venkata Girija Kumar
The growing influence of domestic financial entities, particularly mutual funds, which have been collecting whopping amounts from retail investors in recent months despite rising inflation, high interest rates and concerns over US bond yields, does augur well for the Indian market. The rising flow of retail investments into the domestic equity market, reflecting the shift in the country’s investment culture from conservative fixed deposits to equity mutual funds, has now apparently blunted the impact of outflows of funds by foreign portfolio investors on the movement benchmark indices. Given the rising prominence of retail investors in the domestic equitiy market, the regulator needs to further strengthen the framework governing retail investment and protect the interests of the investors.
This refers to ‘Retail inflation in October likely to slip below 5 per cent again’ (November 13). There can’t be two opinions about the fact that vegetable prices led by onion remain a risk and may cause a spike in inflation in the coming months. Further, as revealed in this report, first advance estimates of kharif production showing lower production of pulses, cereals and sugar (down 3-10 per cent YoY), alongside the recent fluctuations in crude oil prices may exert adverse pressure on the retail price front and disturb the entire inflation calculation.
However, if the October reading actually falls below 5 per cent, it may come handy for the RBI mandated six-member Monetary Policy Committee in formulating its interest rate policy stance when it meets next.