The Centre’s scheme to bear the difference between the compound interest and simple interest on retail and MSME loans availed by borrowers whose aggregate outstanding borrowings were less than ₹2 crore between March 1 and August 31.
The banks have to identify eligible beneficiaries and then ensure that the extra ‘interest on interest’ be refunded by November 5
Supreme Court - “the common man’s Diwali” was in the government’s hands
The Centre has ended up setting a really tight deadline of less than two weeks for banks and NBFCs to credit the differential amount to the borrowers’ accounts.
They will then have to refund the difference between the compound interest charged for the six-month period and the simple interest.
Given that MSMEs provide substantial direct and indirect employment and also generate valuable tax revenue, it would have made far greater economic sense for the government to have categorised them separately.
India’s outreach to Myanmar
The recent visit of Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla and Chief of the Army Staff Gen. Manoj Naravane to Myanmar reflected India’s multidimensional interests in the country and the deepening of ties between Delhi and Naypyidaw.
The Indian delegation met State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and Myanmar’s military Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.
India’s Myanmar policy: engagement with key political actors and balancing neighbours.
The political logic that has shaped India’s Myanmar policy since the 1990s has been to support democratisation driven from within the country.
This has allowed Delhi to engage with the military that played a key role in Myanmar’s political transition and is still an important political actor.
Myanmar’s political transition created challenges for Naypyidaw and limited its ties with the West.
Myanmar was dependent on China. India is an alternative option for Myanmar.
India suffers from an image of being unable get its act together in making its presence felt on the ground.
The inauguration of the liaison office of the Embassy of India in Naypyidaw may seem a routine diplomatic activity.
India has also proposed to build a petroleum refinery in Myanmar that would involve an investment of $6 billion.
Another area of cooperation that has expanded involves the border areas.
The joint visit reiterated the “mutual commitment not to allow respective territories to be used for activities inimical to each other.”
Last, for Delhi, the balancing act between Bangladesh and Myanmar remains one of the keys to its overall approach to the Rohingya issue.
Delhi has reiterated its support for “ensuring safe, sustainable and speedy return of displaced persons” to Myanmar.
Delhi’s political engagement and diplomatic balancing seems to have worked so far in its ties with Myanmar.
For India, Myanmar is key in linking South Asia to Southeast Asia and the eastern periphery becomes the focal point for New Delhi’s regional outreach.
GST and the complexity of political negotiations
Over the last couple of months, the Centre and States have not been on the same page over issues connected with the GST
As a result, Centre-State relations have plumbed the depths.
A diversity of interests is the badge of federalism, and there will be constant negotiation and renegotiation.
It is this tension that keeps a federation ticking.
Tax collections plummeted which in turn have led to a massive revenue shortfall.
The Centre was averse to providing succour, and when it did, it came with strings attached.
For instance, in May 2020, it linked the increase in the fiscal deficit of States from 3% to 5% to reforms in four areas including universalisation of a ‘One Nation-One Ration Card’, electricity distribution, ease of doing business, and urban local body revenues.
Political linkages matter
The Finance Minister of Kerala complained that decisions were not being made in the Council but announced subsequently in press meetings.
In the period of Congress dominance, States had few issues when economic management was centralised in the name of development.
Their concerns and grievances, if any, were taken up through intra-party channels.
Dissent against centralisation appeared only when non-Congress parties consolidated their position.
In sharp contrast to the one-party dominant phase, the coalition era inaugurated a seemingly more cordial period of Centre-State relations based on a recognition of mutual interests.
Former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha in his memoirs underlines how the Centre chose to remain out of the limelight, and an empowered group of State Finance Ministers helped bring about VAT, the precursor to GST.
The GST reforms also followed the same pattern.
Party linkages between different levels of government are crucial to both the making and the maintenance of federal compacts.
While the States are negotiating within the agreed framework, the Centre’s actions undermine the federal architecture.
If this happens consistently over time, there is nothing to stop the States also from doing so.
The Gilgit-Baltistan game plan
Reports indicate that the Pakistan government is on the verge of declaring Gilgit-Baltistan a province of Pakistan.
Technically speaking Gilgit-Baltistan was a part of the State of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) at the time of Partition although Dogra rule sat very lightly on this region.
Much of it, particularly Gilgit, because of its strategic importance in the context of the Great Game in Central Asia, had been leased to the British by the Maharaja and was under the direct control of the British government until the lapse of suzerainty.
Gilgit had its own British-officered local army, the Gilgit Scouts, which switched allegiance to Pakistan within a week of the Maharaja’s accession to India.
The revocation of Article 370 by India and the bifurcation of the State into two Union Territories have sent a clear message that the Kashmir dispute is not only dead but also buried as far as New Delhi is concerned.
Public opinion in Gilgit-Baltistan has long been in favour of full integration into Pakistan as a province as the predominantly Shia and ethnically distinct population of the region has very little in common with PoK.
China has been encouraging Islamabad to turn Gilgit-Baltistan into a province.
Beijing views the Indian move as the first step towards India attempting to enforce its claim on Aksai Chin, currently under Chinese occupation.
China considers Gilgit-Baltistan very important because of its strategic location.
It is contiguous to Ladakh as well as Xinjiang and could act as a staging post against India if a major conflict erupts in Ladakh.
There is already substantial Chinese civilian presence in Gilgit-Baltistan related to CPEC projects.
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Mr. Pompeo also said that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is “no friend to democracy”.
Now, outsiders can buy land in J&K
People, including investors, outside Jammu and Kashmir can now purchase land in the Union Territory as the Centre on Tuesday notified new land laws for the region, ending the exclusive rights enjoyed by the local population over land under the now-diluted Article 370.
Under the new J&K Development Act, the Centre has omitted the term “permanent resident of the State”, paving the way for investors outside J&K to invest in the Union Territory.
“No land used for agriculture purposes shall be used for any non-agricultural purposes except with the permission of the district collector.”
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