Sitharaman's pat on her own back

The Finance Minister ruled out India falling into the recessionary and/or stagflation trap, asserting that all indices pointed to a healthy growth

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Thursday, August 04, 2022, 01:01 AM IST
article-image
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during the Monsoon Session of Parliament, on Monday, August 1 | ANI

The good news is that Parliament is working. The first two weeks of the monsoon session were wasted on avoidable confrontation. This has now become a set pattern — grandstanding by the opposition MPs and stonewalling by the treasury benches. Of course, both sides have to share the blame for disruptions and disorderly scenes in the highest deliberative chambers in the country. But then, they have so devalued the institution that ordinary people don’t expect any better from our honourable MPs. Having said that, we must acknowledge the orderly debate that took place on the state of the economy earlier this week. The plight of the common consumer of everyday goods was highlighted by several speakers from the Opposition benches — growing joblessness and frustration among the youth, food inflation which is hurting the poor the most with the prices of basic items of consumption increasing in recent weeks.

In her reply, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman seemed to draw comfort from the fact that India was the least badly off among the developing nations, and was on course to grow by over seven per cent in the current year. It is true that a prudent management of the economy during the two-year pandemic period, while it successfully resisted calls to open the purse-strings wide open, had resulted in a lower pressure on the fisc. But the failure to contain the adverse global winds, especially on the food front, has caused a cost of living crisis even for middle-income families. The Russian invasion of Ukraine had pressured the prices of food and fuel further although the situation seemed to have improved in recent weeks. The Finance Minister ruled out India falling into the recessionary and/or stagflation trap, asserting that all indices pointed to a healthy growth. Higher GST collections buttress the expectation of a decent 7-plus per cent growth in the current financial year. GST revenue in July at Rs 1.49 lakh crore was the second highest since the scheme was rolled out in 2017. It indicated higher consumption and better monitoring of the economy. Digital tools were increasingly used to detect leakages and evasions. However, concerns remained on the export front, especially with the global economy going through a marked slowdown. Unsettled conditions on the Chinese border too remained a concern but there was no reason to be pessimistic.

Calling China’s bluff

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, undaunted by threats of military use by China, did well to touch down in Taipei. By so doing she at least called the bluff of the bully next door which of late has been flexing its military muscle, threatening to grab Taiwan by force. Her visit had generated anxiety in major global capitals, with the Chinese navy and air force staging live drills close to Taiwan waters and airspace. Pelosi, the second in line to the White House, is a strong votary of Taiwan’s independence. China shrilly protests any visit by a foreign dignitary to that country. Her visit was a public rebuff to President Xi Jinping’s sabre-rattling. He seems bent on annexing Taiwan by force to further firm up his hold on absolute power in the Chinese Communist Party. After China grabbed Hong Kong ahead of its scheduled hand-over, Xi, soon to be anointed president for life at the coming conference of the party, would now wish to join Taiwan with China to embellish his legacy. The prosperous people of Taiwan love their freedoms and seem determined to resist, even with force, any attempt by China to grab it. China may have a far superior military but as the ongoing war in Ukraine has shown, annexing a country against the wishes of its people entails huge costs in men and materials. Unfortunately, the free world led by the US is not as clear about Taiwan as it is about Ukraine. The US ambivalence that it wants Taiwan to remain free, and was against any attempt by China to take it by force, only encourages China to do just that. The least that the Pelosi visit should do is for the US to enunciate the US stand unambiguously. Which is that unless the people of Taiwan expressly want to join the mainland, any attempt to annex it with force would be resisted by the free world. US President Joe Biden would probably do it but the foreign office mandarins hold him back. As President, Biden should prevail.

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

RECENT STORIES

Navi Mumbai: Good supply brings down vegetable price in retail

Navi Mumbai: Good supply brings down vegetable price in retail

Ambernath: 2 arrested for killing man, dumping body in lake

Ambernath: 2 arrested for killing man, dumping body in lake

Tata Mumbai Marathon to be held on January 15, 2023 after two-year gap

Tata Mumbai Marathon to be held on January 15, 2023 after two-year gap

Research by universities in Brazil, UK reveals lack of this chemical limiting Amazon's growth

Research by universities in Brazil, UK reveals lack of this chemical limiting Amazon's growth

Mumbai: MGL issues advisory to update customers about authorised representatives

Mumbai: MGL issues advisory to update customers about authorised representatives