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Contra Hindutva, Kashmiriyat

Gurcharan Das | Author and former CEO of Procter & Gamble India
The Times of India

Kashmir’s changed political status has caused a lot of hurt, anger and fear among Kashmiris, writes author Gurcharan Das. While most have discussed this setback for “Kashmiriyat” from a legal and historical perspective, we also need to understand that “national and regional identities are imagined creations”, he says. Hindutva and Kashmiriyat are both “inventions”.

Many believe a plebiscite is the only way to go forward and gain Kashmir’s “consent” and residents should be given a “choice to secede”. But neither the people of Andhra Pradesh nor those of Punjab were asked when their states were split into two. As Brexit has shown, referendums can sometimes lead to more confusion.

“Nation state” is a recent construct, based on common language, descent, shared memories and sense of oneness. But there are Kashmiri Muslims who don’t feel a sense of oneness with Indians, the shared memories are not happy ones, and religion proves to be a problematic basis of nationhood. Benedict Anderson had said that the nation is an “imagined community”, and India will have to make this community desirable for Kashmiris by ensuring good governance and equality.

The Verdict of History

Raju Ramachandran and Chander Uday Singh | Senior advocates in the Supreme Court
The Indian Express

Ramachandran and Singh write on the Supreme Court and its attitude to the Kashmir issue after the revocation of Article 370. In 1952, the Supreme Court declared that it would be “a sentinel on the qui vive” in the case of fundamental rights as guaranteed by the Constitution. They ask if 70 years later the SC is still “sufficiently alert”. In the 1976 ADM Jabalpur case, the court had ruled that “right to life and liberty” would not exist under the declaration of Emergency. In 2017’s “right to privacy” case (K.S. Puttaswamy vs Union of India), SC overruled the ADM Jabalpur case, saying it was an “aberration in constitutional jurisprudence”. Two years later, courts are returning to their “ADM Jabalpur phase”.

Two SC benches have accepted the Centre’s stand on severe lockdown in Kashmir at “face value”, supporting the suspension of civil liberties, right to life and liberty guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution. Also, the “SC-mandated exercise” of the NRC goes against the Citizenship Act, 1955. The independence of the judiciary and its collegium system is also at stake. Judicial historians must take note of this current moment.

Rediscovering development banks

R. Nagaraj | Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai
The Hindu

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has announced the idea of setting up a development bank to provide “long-term finance and credit enhancement for infrastructure and housing projects”. Development banks provide credit for capital-intensive and long term ventures such as infrastructure, heavy industries or irrigation systems.

The social benefits and uncertainties associated with such banks mean they’re often supported by governments or international institutions. Industrial Finance Corporation of India (IFC), which was set up in 1949, was India’s first development bank. ICICI (Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India) was set up in 1955 as a collaborative effort between the government and several industrialists, and IDBI was set up in 1964. But eventually development banks were discredited because of “mounting non-performing assets” caused by “politically motivated lending” and “inadequate professionalism in assessing investment projects”.

Development banks never took off in Europe or most of Asia, but China’s development banks – Agricultural Development Bank of China, China Development Bank– and Germany’s KfW did prove to be successful. Sitaraman’s bid to revive development banks is “welcome”, but its design and implementation will have to be analysed and structured carefully.

The contours of Pakistan’s new narrative on India

Vivek Katju | Former diplomat
Hindustan Times

Katju writes how Pakistan was dejected after the international community dismissed the Kashmir issue as a bilateral Indo-Pak matter, and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain conferred upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi their highest civilian awards. Pakistani PM Imran Khan’s speech on 26 August could then be seen as a way to “rally people to the Kashmir cause”.

Khan denounced the RSS, saying they were committed to an India just for Hindus and warned Pakistanis that they should know what their “enemy is thinking”. He claimed how RSS ideology had killed Gandhi and inspired Nazism. Indian diplomacy needs to note how Pakistani propaganda is shaping up, as Pakistan appeals to the Islamic world and Western liberals and Western media.

Post 9/11 and the killing of Osama bin Laden, Pakistan has been trying to change its image. While using the Kulbhushan Jadhav issue to malign India had failed, Pakistan will now try to use the Kashmir issue to “divert attention from its terrorism”. Pakistan will push its stance in the upcoming United Nations General Assembly session next month. “All this will only reinforce in the Pakistani mind that India is a permanent enemy”, concludes Katju.

The return of excess capital is RBI’s indirect mea culpa

R. Jagannathan | Editorial director, Swarajya Magazine

R. Jagannathan writes that the RBI’s decision to transfer excess reserves to the government can be analysed from three perspectives. First, he writes, it may appear that RBI succumbed to government pressure. He argues that while “there is little doubt that government pressure was important in getting RBI to see the light on several issues” it also “makes no sense for the governor and the finance ministry to act like they are on different planets”. The first argument is therefore not valid, he concludes.

Second, he writes, the assumption that this money might be spent on populist schemes would be wrong. He suggests that this money should only be used for “stabilising and cleaning up the financial system”.

However, he argues that the best way to analyse RBI’s transfer is to see it as a compensation from the central bank for its policy failures. He argues that the RBI failed to flag a bad loan crisis under UPA on time and also didn’t cut interest rates when it was required.

RBI’s surplus transfer math

Saugata Bhattacharya | Chief economist of Axis Bank. Tanay Dalal contributed to the article
Business Standard

Saugata Bhattacharya explains the details and implications of RBI’s transfer of funds to the government. He writes that the latest release is based on a change in various metrics and methodologies. First, he writes, about “a shift from the existing use of stressed value at risk (VaR) for measuring RBI’s market risk to adopting an expected shortfall (ES) method”. He explains the difference between them by mentioning that “VaR asks the question, ‘how bad can things get’, [while] ES (also known as conditional VaR) asks, ‘if things do get bad, what is the expected loss?’”. Another major change is “in the surplus distribution policy, which is now to be based on the ‘realised equity’ level within the overall economic capital, rather than the economic capital alone”.

Explaining the potential implications, he writes that the transfer can either be used to meet tax revenue shortfall or provide a stimulus boost if budgeted revenue targets are met. It can also have an effect on system liquidity, he adds.

Investing for Investments

Ram Singh | The writer is professor, Delhi School of Economics
The Economic Times

Ram Singh writes that the reason behind India’s economic problems isn’t a shortage of liquidity but that “nobody wants to use it for investment”. He writes that even with low interest rates and global debt with negative yields increasing, investors are not queuing up to invest. He mentions that “the total investment has declined to less than 30 per cent of GDP, lowest in the last 15 years”.

He argues that several measures can be taken to improve the situation without violating fiscal limits. First, he recommends that funds from RBI can be used to invest in infrastructure. “It will also attract private sector investment”, he writes.

He also argues that NBFCs face a shortage of equity and credit and jurisdiction of multiple authorities and acts like Rera, NCLT, consumer courts etc. delay liquidation and restructuring process. “A legal framework with a single forum is needed,” he recommends.

He further argues that the government should clear its dues to various public and private sector entities and expedite strategic monetisation of assets.

Deforestation, desertification and climate change

Chandra Bhushan | Deputy director general, CSE
The Financial Express

Chandra Bhushan explains the importance of the Amazon rainforest to the entire world. He writes that Amazon produces around 20 per cent of earth’s oxygen and absorbs more than two billion tonnes of CO2. He writes that developed countries should assist Brazil in protecting the Amazon. He writes how “in 2007, a global mechanism called REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) was started to incentivise forest conservation in developing countries”.

He also talks about the need for a new global approach. This approach, he writes, aims “to enhance natural carbon sinks in land and forests” and the author calls it the “sink mechanism” — this he says “must be owned by communities”. He also argues that developed countries cannot be the only source of funding.

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