Editors Column

There is well-founded nervousness over protectionism coming in through the back door in the name of prime minister Narendra Modi’s signature ‘Make in India’ campaign. Add to that fears that, like the US administration under Donald Trump, India is throwing a protective cover around domestic manufacturing with the avowed objective of expanding local industry.

The government’s initiative to resolve bad loans is going nowhere. Whether the National Companies Law Tribunal (NCLT) or other schemes, there is hardly any movement towards punishing the wilful defaulters or providing relief to companies whose businesses have gone under due to difficult market conditions.

Governance issues have hit Indian companies over the years. Several promoters have misused investors’ funds to their personal advantage and hugely profited as a result.

Surpassing the disinvestment target to hit the Rs 1,00,000 mark was a big plus for the NDA government in this fiscal. It is a commendable feat for the Narendra Modi government that initially was not very aggressive in selling the family silver.

Several commentators termed prime minister Narendra Modi’s attack on the Congress party in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday as a “warm up speech” for the Lok Sabha elections next year. Political innuendos notwithstanding, there is no denying the fact that Congress has had a chequered past and Modi, with his aggressive speech, has India’s main opposition party on the defensive.

Not going hawkish is out of fashion these days. But, when the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is not hawkish on growth, inflation and interest rates it is considered a positive for resilience in the economy that is going through major structural adjustments.

Finance secretary Hashmukh Adia may be largely right when he attributed the latest sell off in Indian stocks to spooking and volatility in global equity markets over the last two days.

In the run up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had emerged as a magnet attracting allies in all parts of the country. As prime minister Narendra Modi gears up to seek a fresh mandate for the second term in 2019, several NDA partners are exhibiting the traits of similar magnetic poles — in the sense that they are repelling the BJP.

When finance minister Arun Jaitley was reading his budget speech in Parliament, the ground was slipping under the feet of BJP candidates in the Rajasthan and West Bengal bypolls. The BJP’s defeat in West Bengal’s Noapara assembly segment and Uluberia Lok Sabha seat was a foregone conclusion as the ruling Trinamool Congress continues to dominate state politics.

As expected, finance minister Arun Jaitley has delivered a politically correct budget that  focuses — and rightly so — on agriculture and the tattered rural economy. Prime minister Narendra Modi seems to have learnt his lesson the hard way after a close finish in the Gujarat state assembly elections.