Editors Column

Government’s decision to add three lakh seats in central universities including IITs, IIMs and NITs is a huge step forward in providing opportunities to students within the country.

Especially for those poor students that cannot afford to take admissions in private universities within the country or abroad, it’s a big opening for them to pursue higher education.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assertion that leakage of public funds has been plugged 100 per cent is significant for more one reason. Modi articulated his views at the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas, the three-day jamboree of non-resident Indians and those with Indian connection living in around 100 countries.

Market regulators have the dubious record of plugging loopholes only after trouble breaks out. The  recent episode involving Sun Pharma has brought to the fore many loopholes in whistle blower provisions.

Fifteen-odd opposition parties’ massive rally at Kolkata on Saturday may have a message for the polity. It’s undecided as yet on the Prime Ministerial face to take on Narendra Modi in 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Can an interim budget presented in an election year go beyond the rigmarole of just presenting the vote on account? There may not have been deviations from the convention of limiting the interim budget to vote on account for meeting routine expenses in the first three months of a new financial year.

The State Bank of India (SBI) seems to have lost patience like several other banks in dealing with stressed accounts. Otherwise, there’s no reason why it should put up Rs 15, 432 crore debt portfolio with the beleaguered Essar Steel for auction.

Lowering tax outgo on companies progressively should be the way to move forward. And, the move to lower corporate tax to 25 per cent from prevailing 30 percent on companies with annual sales turnover up to Rs 500 crore was a welcome development. There’s no reason why the government should not make tax liabilities also competitive especially for micro, small and medium enterprises.

Tackling agrarian distress seems to be flavour of the season. The government’s efforts to provide relief for farmers before or after presentation of budget on February 1 may have to be evaluated based on the final announcement. But, farmers issues continue to hog headlines after about half a dozen rallies were held by different organisations seeking their economic empowerment.

The ongoing earnings season is likely to spring some surprises, given that the September-December 2018 quarter was a rare, tumultuous period for India Inc and a challenging phase for the economy as well.

The removal of Alok Verma as the CBI chief for the second time has not helped in putting a lid on the ugly affairs in the premier probe agency but has openend a Pandora’s box that has engulfed other institutions like the Supreme Court in the raging fire threatening to shake the  foundations of the democratic  frame work.

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