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Economic Survey admits to slowdown, seeks end to norms stifling industry’s global competitiveness

The Economic Survey for 2019-2020 seems an exercise driven by 20/20 hindsight, combined with an optimistic 20/20 vision for the year to come, as it expects GDP growth to revive from the 5% estimated for this year to a range between 6%-6.5% next year.

The Survey hints at going easy on fiscal deficit targets to shore up growth and makes a valiant attempt to evangelise wealth creation by entrepreneurs, instead of demonising them.

It also calls for unravelling multiple regulations stifling Indian industry’s global competitiveness and urges policy makers to stop being “judgemental” about importing inputs, assembling them and re-exporting them, even if it means little value-added at home. Focusing on just six such ‘network’ sectors could generate 4 crore jobs by 2025 and 8 crore jobs by 2030 and reverse the country’s tepid job creation record, the Survey said.

Blames UPA

While admitting there has been a slowdown with the economy poised to grow at just 5% in 2019-20 — the slowest in 11 years — Chief Economic Adviser (CEA) Krishnamurthy Subramanian, attributed the deceleration to slower global growth and domestic financial sector woes that need attention. Mr. Subramanian had projected a 7% growth earlier.

But he added that the seeds for the growth decline since 2017 were sowed under the UPA regime in 2013, when private investment began tapering off. While food inflation has spiked, the Survey uses behavioural economics to show that eating a thali has become more affordable in recent years.

He lauds both Houses for enacting it

President Ram Nath Kovind addressing a joint session of Parliament on Friday. PTI

President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday kick-started the Budget session of Parliament with an address to both Houses. He lauded the enactment of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) that, he said, fulfilled the wish of Mahatma Gandhi who had said that Hindus and Sikhs of Pakistan, who didn’t want to stay there, could come to India.

In an hour-long address, he spoke at length on the importance of the Constitution, adding that “in a democracy, nothing is more sacred than the mandate of the people. The people of the country have given this mandate to my government for the making of New India”.

He said India had always believed in the principle of equal respect for all faiths, but at the time of Partition in 1947, “this very belief of India and of its people came under the most severe attack”.

In the environment prevailing in the aftermath of Partition, Mahatma Gandhi had said, “Hindus and Sikhs of Pakistan, who do not wish to live there, can come to India. It is the duty of the government of India to ensure a normal life for them.”

‘Procedure unchanged’

“It is our responsibility to honour this wish of the founding fathers of our nation. I am happy that both Houses have fulfilled this wish by enacting the Citizenship (Amendment) Act,” Mr. Kovind said.

He clarified that “the procedures which have existed for people from all faiths of the world who believe in India and who wish to obtain Indian citizenship remain unchanged. A person of any faith can follow these processes and become a citizen of India.”

Petition questions government’s ‘arbitrary’ action

The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Uttar Pradesh government to explain its notices to certain persons to cough up money for destruction of public property during protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in December last year.

A Bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud issued formal notice to the State government on a petition filed by Uttar Pradesh resident Parwaiz Arif Titu, who said the notices for payment of damages were “arbitrarily” sent to people. They include a person, Bannu Khan, who died six years ago at the age of 94, to two others, Fasahat Mir Khan and Sufi Ansar Hussain, both in their 90s and bedridden.

The petition said the notices were in furtherance of the “promise” made by the BJP-led Yogi Adityanath government “to avenge the loss to public property by seizing the assets of CAA-NRC protesters in order to take revenge, for political reasons, from one community who is in minority”.

“This means that 925 persons arrested so far for violent protests may not get bail easily in Uttar Pradesh till they pay up for the losses… Many of them are not involved in violent protests,” the petition said.

Notices clearly show that the persons to whom they were sent had not been booked for any offence. “There is no detail of any crime committed by them,” the petition said.

Mr. Titu said the State government should follow the guidelines laid down by the top court, both in 2009 and 2018, while claiming damages for properties destroyed during protests.

Court to hear their pleas; lawyer says remedies yet to be exhausted

The execution of the death sentence awarded to all four convicts in the December 16, 2012 Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case was postponed for the second time on Friday, following an order from a Delhi court.

Additional sessions judge Dharmender Rana directed that the execution be postponed till further orders after considering the pleas by three convicts — Pawan Gupta, 23, Akshay Kumar, 31, and Vinay Sharma, 24.

On January 7, the court had ordered the execution of the death sentence on January 22. This was postponed to February 1. Shortly after the court’s order, the victim’s mother said she would continue her fight till the convicts are hanged. During the day, family members of Pawan, Mukesh and Vinay came to meet them in Tihar jail. Advocate A.P. Singh, representing the three, urged the court to postpone the hanging, contending that their legal remedies were yet to be exhausted.

Mercy petition

He told the court that a mercy petition under Article 72 of the Constitution has been filed on behalf of convict Vinay.

Advocate Singh said a curative petition filed on behalf of convict Akshay was dismissed on Thursday by the Supreme Court. Hence Akshay intends to move a mercy petition before the President under Article 72, he said.

Taking note of the arguments, the judge said that since Vinay’s mercy petition is pending before the President, “I have no hesitation in observing that the execution of warrant qua accused Vinay ought to be postponed.”

“As far as the case of the remaining convicts is concerned, the second proviso appended by Rule 836 categorically provides that if an appeal or application is made by only one convict, the execution of sentence shall be postponed in the case of co-convicts also,” the judge noted.

AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal said on Friday that while his party was putting pens and computers in the hands of students, “they” are offering guns and hatred, in a veiled attack at the BJP.

“Fabulous! Delhi government school student addressing big IT tech conference! We have put pens and computers in the hands of children and dreams of entrepreneurship in their eyes! They are giving guns and hatred. What do you want to give your children? Tell on Feb. 8!” Mr. Kejriwal said in a tweet in Hindi.

On Thursday, the AAP had hit out at the BJP over a Jamia Millia Islamia student being shot at by a young man at an anti-CAA protest.

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