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MARKET WATCH 25 JAN 2021

NATIONAL

INTERNATIONAL

Montek Singh Ahluwalia says country’s economy is gradually recovering

The country’s economy, which contracted in the first two quarters of the current fiscal, has started recovering at a gradual pace, former deputy chairman of erstwhile Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia said on Sunday. The economy contracted by a massive 23.9 per cent in the first quarter and 7.5 per cent in the second quarter on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We had jumped off a cliff in the first quarter of this financial year because of the lockdown, which was necessitated by the pandemic. The economy is now climbing back. I think it’s a gradual recovery but it is a clear recovery,” Ahluwalia said at a virtual event. According to the first advance estimates of national income released by the National Statistical Office (NSO), the country’s GDP is estimated to contract by a record 7.7 per cent during the current financial year (2020-21).

An article published in the Reserve Bank of India’s January Bulletin has stated that the country’s GDP is within the striking distance of attaining positive growth. Ahluwalia said the manufacturing sector is recovering and has got back to where it was in 2019-20. However, the contact industries which include hotels, restaurants, travel, tourism and retail shopping in malls are badly hit and will take some time to return to normalcy, he said.

He said the infrastructure in the country still lags behind and there is an urgent need to increase investment in the sector over the next few quarters. “There’s no doubt whatsoever for the medium term that the revival of investment in infrastructure is absolutely crucial. Our infrastructure is not up to the mark, he said.

In the next financial year, investments from private players in the infrastructure sector are unlikely to be very high in absence of adequate funding from banks who have become risk averse, he said.

“And therefore in the next year, there should be a thrust on expenditure on the infrastructure sector from the government. I would say that roads and railways are the areas where this investment should take place,” Ahluwalia noted. He lauded the government and the RBI for providing credit assistance to small scale industries that were hit severely due to the pandemic.

Source: The Financial Express

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Crackdown on fraudulent ITC availment continues: 258 arrested so far

Eight chartered accountants are among 258 persons arrested so far in the nationwide drive against fake GST invoice frauds in last two and a half months since mid-November, department of revenue sources said.

DGGI sources said that out of the 258 arrested so far, at least two persons have been booked under COFEPOSA or Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act also. The ongoing drive by GST intelligence and CGST authorities is ongoing with more than 2500  case booked against 8000 fake GSTIN entities as of now.

Authorities have recovered more than Rs 820 crore from these fraudsters. Using complete data sharing among GST, customs and income tax, and apt use of data analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning, the GST intelligence authorities have been able to pin-pointedly identify those indulged in tax evasion through various means including fake bills and also those availing these bills through layers of intermediaries.

This concerted nationwide drive against bogus GST invoice fraud has ensured better GST compliance to identify tax evaders and those availing input tax credits fraudulently, and thus, has resulted in record GST collection to the tune of more than Rs 1.15 lakh crore for December, 2020.

Source: The Economic Times

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Budget expectations: Domestic industry seeks increase in import duty of man-made yarn

Domestic manufacturers of man-made yarn have sought an increase in import duty on the product to 10 per cent from the existing 5 per cent in the forthcoming Union Budget to put a check on its rising imports.

“Average monthly imports of man-made yarns in 2020 were 5,212 tonnes out of the total domestic monthly consumption of 22,000 tonnes. This means that imports enjoy 25 per cent of the total market share. Moreover, this trend is increasing with great speed,” pointed out the Northern India Textiles Mills Association (NITMA) in an official release circulated on Saturday.

Monthly average imports of virgin polyester spun yarn have increased by 972 per cent between 2015 and 2020, the association further pointed out, adding that imports from Vietnam alone had increased by a steep 10,512 per cent, that is, 107 times.

“Import numbers have been rising substantially year after year due to unreasonably low prices offered by Indonesian & Vietnamese spinners on account of huge idle capacities created owing to their government’s incentives,” the release stated.

The association proposed that the Ministries of Finance and Textiles should consider increasing the customs duty on man-made yarn to 10 per cent from its present level of 5 per cent in the forthcoming Budget for the growth and expansion of domestic MMF Industry and to prevent mass level loss of employment.

Low-priced imports

The low-priced imports of man-made yarn into India have been causing considerable injury to domestic manufacturers for the last 5 years or so, said NITMA President Sanjay Garg.

“The industry has deep concerns over the rise in import quantities being dumped into India, which can potentially cause permanent damage to the domestic MMF sector with the cascading effect, from closure of units to NPAs, and eventually resulting in huge employment loss,” he added.

Source: The Hindu Business Line

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FinMin allocates Rs 660 crore additional funds to MP for capex

The finance ministry on Sunday said it has allocated an additional Rs 660 crore to Madhya Pradesh for capital expenditure to undertake citizen-centric reforms. "A list of capital projects with an estimated cost of Rs 660 crore was approved by the Department of Expenditure. Fifty per cent of the approved amount (i.e. Rs 330 crore) has also been released to the state (Madhya Pradesh) as first instalment for the approved projects," it said in a statement.

The ministry has allocated these additional funds to the state for capital expenditure for undertaking the 'One Nation, One Ration Card' reforms, Ease of Doing Business reforms, and urban local bodies reforms. The state has also completed part of the fourth reform - the power sector reforms.

 

The 'Special Assistance to States for capital expenditure' scheme was announced by the Centre in October last year as part of Aatmanirbhar Bharat package. The scheme is aimed at boosting capital expenditure of the state governments that are facing difficult financial environment due to a shortfall in tax revenue arising from the COVID 19 pandemic.

"So far, capital expenditure proposals of Rs 10,657 crore of 27 states have been approved by the Ministry of Finance. An amount of Rs 5,328 crore has already been released to the states as the first instalment under the scheme.

"State-wise allocation, approval granted and funds released is attached. Tamil Nadu has not availed the benefit of the scheme," it added.

Source: The Economic Times

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NIIF makes equity investment of less than Rs 5,000 crore, in 5 years

The National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) in its five years of existence has made an equity investment of less than Rs 5,000 crore in infrastructure projects, sources said.

The Rs 40,000-crore NIIF was set up in December 2015 as an institution for enhancing infrastructure financing by investing in greenfield (new), brownfield (existing) and stalled projects.

According to sources, NIIF has made an equity investment of Rs 4,689 crore, while the co-investment by its partners stood at about Rs 7,053 crore at the end of September 2020.

The quasi-sovereign wealth fund’s total equity investment along with partners stood at Rs 11,742 crore as of September 2020. At the same time, the long-term debt investment was at Rs 7,935 crore, taking aggregate investment to the tune of Rs 19,677 crore.

Set up as Category II Alternative Investment Fund (AIF), the NIIF currently manages three funds with distinct strategies Master Fund, Fund of Funds and Strategic Opportunities Fund. NIIF’s total assets under management (AUM) is at over USD 4.4 billion across the three funds, as per the latest factsheet provided by the NIIF.

As far as the road sector is concerned, NIIF has taken the brownfield route to enter the segment following acquisition of Essel Devanahalli Tollway and Essel Dichpally Tollway last year. The acquisition was done through NIIF Master Fund.

In November 2020, the Union Cabinet approved proposal for an equity infusion of Rs 6,000 crore by the government in NIIF Debt Platform sponsored by the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF), comprising of Aseem Infrastructure Finance Limited (AIFL) and NIIF Infrastructure Finance Limited (NIIF-IFL).

Of the total amount, only Rs 2,000 crore would be allocated during the current year 2020-21, while the remaining amount in the next fiscal. However, in view of the unprecedented financial situation and availability of limited fiscal space due to the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic, the proposed amount may be disbursed only if there is readiness and demand for debt raising, the official statement had said.

NIIF will take all necessary steps to use the equity investments from domestic and global pension funds and sovereign wealth funds expeditiously.

The proposal to invest Rs 6,000 crore as equity into NIIF is part of the Aatmanirbhar Bharat 3.0 package announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on November 12, 2020.

The NIIF Strategic Opportunities Fund has set up a debt platform comprising an NBFC Infra Debt Fund and an NBFC Infra Finance Company. NIIF through its Strategic Opportunities Fund (NIIF SOF) owns a majority position in both the companies and has already invested Rs 1,899 crore across the platform.

The Strategic Opportunities Fund (SOF fund) through which the NIIF investment has been made will continue to support the two companies apart from investing in other suitable investment opportunities, it had said.

The current proposal seeks Government of India’s investment directly to further scale the potential and impact of the two entities in the infrastructure debt financing space.

“This will also support the efforts of the platform to raise international equity.

“With the fresh infusion of equity by the government, besides the equity already infused by NIIF SOF and potential equity participation from the private sector, the debt platform is expected to raise enough resources to extend a debt support of Rs 1,10,000 crore to projects by 2025,” it had said.

Source: The Financial Express

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How FM Nirmala Sitharaman can deliver on her promise of a 'budget like never before’

Budget expectations

According to V K Vijayakumar, Chief Investment Strategist, Geojit Financial Services, the Indian economy is in the midst of a better than expected economic recovery. Leading indicators point to a V-shaped recovery. Low interest rates have turned out to be a major tailwind for sectors like construction and automobiles. The setting is perfect for a ‘budget like never before’ as finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has indicated.

Relief measures

Even though the economy is recovering impressively, there is pain in the MSME sector, which calls for relief. The Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) for the sector should be continued for one more year. Badly impacted segments like travel and tourism need timely relief. Covid severely impacted urban employment much more than rural employment. We don’t have an urban counterpart to MGNREGS. The best way to create more urban jobs is to give a fillip to construction.

Recovery story

The most impressive aspect of the ongoing recovery is that it has been achieved with fiscal prudence. The strategy of allowing monetary policy to do the heavy lifting while keeping the fiscal stimulus modest has turned out to be a brilliant move. The government is now in a position to go for a one-time big fiscal stimulus focusing on spending on vaccination, infrastructure and recapitalization of banks. Expenditure on vaccination has the potential to become a major fiscal boost since it will facilitate fast return to normalcy.

Reforms engine

If a high growth rate is to sustain beyond FY22, we need reforms. Bold announcements on privatizations are the need of the hour. Abundant liquidity and historically low interest rates in the developed world is manifesting as huge FPI flows into India. Disinvestment will be easily absorbed in this buoyant market driven primarily by liquidity. The FM should seize this tail wind to sail through privatization.

Tax rates

The government doesn’t have the fiscal space to give tax sops. This is not the time to tinker with tax rates. The present corporate and personal income tax rates should continue. More importantly, the FM should resist the temptation of imposing the rumored one-time Covid Tax. Taxation of capital gains and dividends also need not be tinkered this year.

Supply chain vulnerabilities

In a recent press meet, the FM had said, “we shall be the engine of global growth, for which we need to build capabilities we don't have yet. India needs to be a part of the value chain." Businesses moving away from China will be a major trend, going forward. Countries like Vietnam and Bangladesh are at the forefront of exploiting this opportunity. India should build capabilities to be part of the global supply chain to gain from this megatrend.

Source: The Economic Times

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First ever garment factory at Naxal hub Dantewada!

Dantewada district in the state of Chhattisgarh, and also a Naxal hub, has got its first ever garment manufacturing unit – Nva Dantewada garment factory.

Offering employment to around 200 people in two shifts, the unit will produce uniforms for CRPF and NMDC and is also in touch with e-commerce portals.

Completely initiated by local administration and without much fresh investment, the unit is just at its beginning stage and Deepak Soni, District Collector, the man behind this initiative, aims to develop the district into a garment manufacturing hub.

Stitching machines were already available with the administration and locally trained people are providing training to others. Notably, with the help and guidance of administration, women are managing this factory.

The plan is to provide job opportunity to at least 1,000 people in next 6 months.

The garments manufactured here have brand name ‘DanNex’, which means Dantewada Next – a motivation from a local tribal.

The workers working in this unit include young women and senior citizen.

“We are trying poverty eradication through this initiative. We are ensuring the training for fresh people looking for jobs in this unit,” said Deepak.

The Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED) will partner the special purpose vehicle (SPV) regarding this apparel facility.

The state-of-the-art machines are available with the administration and other resources are also best managed to start this facility.

In near future, Bhupesh Baghel, CM of the Chhattisgarh is expected to inaugurate the factory. It’s a good start and Dantewada could have many more such units.

As far as factories in this region by private players are concerned, as of now there is no such plan.

To promote DanNex and bring the tribal culture to the forefront, the administration is also promoting local designers and offering cash prizes for interesting designs. These designs should portray tribal culture and art.

Source: Apparel Online

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Production Linked Incentive for textiles may be capped to ensure better distribution

The ₹10,683-crore scheme covers 10 technical products, 40 man-made items

The Textile Ministry is likely to impose caps on the incentive that can be claimed by a company under the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for man-made fibre and technical textiles to ensure that big players do not corner a large part of the funds, according to sources.

“A cap on the maximum amount that can be claimed under the PLI scheme by a textile company is likely to be put in place so that a big player can’t take most of the amount that has been earmarked for the sector and there is a more even distribution,” a person tracking the matter told BusinessLine.

The PLI scheme was launched for 10 sectors in November 2011 to promote domestic manufacturing by providing financial incentives on incremental turnover for five years. The textile sector has been allocated ₹10,683 crore under the scheme which, the Ministry has decided, will be offered for incremental production in 40 identified man-made fibre items and 10 technical textiles products.

“The 40 MMF lines identified for the PLI push are the ones where India’s share in world market is negligible while the 10 technical textile products are the top globally traded lines,” the source said. As soon as the Union Cabinet approves the PLI scheme for the textile sector, which is in the last stages of discussion and finalisation, it will be notified by the Textiles Ministry and the modules for registering interested players will be made, the source said.

According to sources in the industry who have been part of the government’s discussion on the contours of the PLI scheme, the incentive rates offered for the textiles sector is one of the highest (compared to other sectors). It is likely to be fixed at 9 per cent of turnover in the first year for companies with a turnover between ₹100 crore and ₹500 crore and 7 per cent for those above that. In the subsequent four years it would keep tapering.

Eligibility norms

While the minimum turnover for eligibility under the scheme could be ₹100 crore, it need not be for the specific item for which a company wants to claim PLI. “In case a textile company is presently engaged in production of cotton, woollen or jute products but wants to get into a technical textile item that is covered under the PLI scheme, it can be eligible if it meets the minimum turnover criteria through production of the other items. While the incremental production has to be of the item for which PLI is being claimed, the applicant has to maintain the level of turnover of the items it was originally manufacturing,” the source said. To claim incentive under the PLI scheme, the industry will have to get registered with the government. “The eligibility is for both domestic sale and exports as restricting it to exports would make the scheme incompatible at the WTO,” the official said.

Other sectors offered PLI incentives include pharmaceuticals, automobiles and auto components, specialty steel, capital goods, technology products, white goods (ACs and LEDs), telecom and networking products, high-efficiency solar PV modules and advanced battery cells.

Source: The Hindu Business Line

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Companies approach Gujarat High Court over penalty, interest payment on input tax credit

Several companies have taken the indirect tax department to court over the slapping of penalties and interest on unpaid goods and services tax and input tax credit amounts.

The input tax credit mechanism under the GST framework allows companies to set off part of the tax paid against future tax liabilities. When companies pay GST, it is typically paid in two parts—tax and tax credit set-offs.

In cases where the tax department estimates a shortfall or mismatch between the GST a company is required to pay and the amount it has actually paid, penalties and interest are charged.

The companies say such penalties and interest should be applicable only on the actual GST to be paid and not the entire amount. They have filed a writ petition in this regard in the Gujarat high court.

“The moot point is whether the restriction of benefit with respect to interest is applicable when there is utilisation from the credit register in case the investigation has started under the GST provisions,” said Abhishek A Rastogi, a partner at Khaitan & Co., who is arguing the petitions.

A company with a tax liability of Rs 100 that has Rs 80 in its credit ledger should have to pay only Rs 20 as tax. However, upon the discovery of any discrepancies in the tax payment, the question is whether penalty and interest should be levied on Rs 100 or Rs 20.

The companies that have approached the court argue that penalty and interest should be charged only on the pending amount.

Even when a company wishes to revise its tax payments, it’s not possible due to the way the GST framework operates.

“The revision of returns is not possible for the financial year after September of the next year and this leads to problems in cases when differential tax has to be paid due to classification misunderstandings or interpretational clarity. The denial of benefit of reduced interest after utilizing credit is arbitrary and has been challenged,” said Rastogi.

Source: The Economic Times

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Textile industry appeals for double custom duty on manmade yarns

Textile industry has urged the Government to urgently raise customs duty on manmade yarns to 10 per cent, which is currently at 5 per cent.

Northern India Textile Mills’ Association (NITMA) has appealed to the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Textiles to consider this demand immediately in the ensuing Union Budget 2021 for the growth and expansion of domestic MMF industry and for preventing mass level loss of employment.

NITMA issued a press release and said that monthly average imports of virgin polyester spun yarn have increased by 972 per cent from 2015 to 2020.

Imports from Vietnam alone have increased by mammoth 10,512 per cent, that is, 107 times.

Average monthly imports for 2020 are 5,212 tonnes per month out of the total domestic monthly consumption of 22,000 tonnes per month. This means that imports enjoy 25 per cent of the total market share. Moreover, this trend is increasing with great speed.

Sanjay Garg, President, NITMA, elaborated that manmade yarn sector is one of the largest employment generating segments within the textile industry and is a highly capital and labour intensive industry as well.

The unreasonably low-priced imports of manmade yarn into India have been causing considerable amount of injury to domestic manufacturers for last 5 years or so.

Industry has deep concerns over the rise in import quantities being dumped into India, which can potentially cause a permanent damage to the domestic MMF sector with the cascading effect, from closure of units to NPAs, eventually resulting in huge employment loss.

Source: Apparel Online

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Lab tests show Micrillon® yarns deactivates human Coronavirus and influenza

UMF Corporation undergone third-party testing by research organization Integrated Pharma Services (an award-winning contract research organization). Then published a report that its Micrillon sheath and core fibre demonstrates “significant antiviral properties” against SARS-CoV-2, a strain of the coronavirus.

Micrillon is spun into yarn and is knitted into a material which can effectively kill 100% Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and E. coli. This application is also effective for various yarn types of woven and knitted textiles such as towels, privacy curtains and personal protective equipment (PPE).

UMF brought the Micrillon product repowering with C-PULL for better physical care privacy curtains, in 2019. Micrillon has achieved a unique high-performance fibre made by Tennessee-based Universal Fiber Systems.

UMF Corporation CEO George Clarke was expressing his adventure as more focused than ever before.

Micrillon can be acquainted as a rechargeable, broad-spectrum, polymer additive incorporated with films, plastics and fibres. This material is charged with chlorine molecules. In the company’s speech- The Micrillon is filled with chemistry for recharging the life of the product and will not harm the environment. When bacteria and mold will bend with a Micrillon surface, they vanish; viruses are inactivated, UMF provides.

Extra fibres, including a 50% polyester, 50% polyamide hollow-core framed by pie have been innovated and is recently being tested. Antiviral performance testing was conducted based on ISO Standard 18184:2019: Defining Antiviral Activity of Textile Products.

Dr. Mina Izadjoo, President and Chief Science Officer of Integrated Pharma Services informed that they were preparing a manuscript on the results of the Micrillon antimicrobial studies for submission to peer-reviewed journals. It’s conducted antimicrobial efficacy testing of Micrillon. The laboratory and the results demonstrated that it was effective against Influenza and Coronavirus strains when challenged at 10, 30 and 120 minutes. Micrillon fibres is finally going with additional tests by Integrated Pharma Services, including Micrillon 50% PET/50% PA bicomponent splittable hollow-core filament that separates into 16 triangular fibres and a 4DG Micrillon fiber.

Integrated Pharma Services is opted to providing solutions for hard-to-treat human diseases and it’s thrilling to be part of the UMF Micrillon studies- Dr. Izadjoo added.

This effort is done collaboratively with UMF to help with advancement of novel solutions for current and emerging infectious diseases.

The results are a testament to the commitment to researching and developing high-performance products for infection prevention and commercial cleaning and disinfection. There are significant implications for industries including healthcare – where it can be included in PPE – as well as hospitality and education, which are more focused than ever before on infection prevention in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a plan to incorporate Micrillon splittable bicomponent microfiber in all our Perfect CLEAN products later this year.

Integrated Pharma Services (IPS) LLC is an Award-Winning Contract Research Organization (CRO) and reliable partner to potential customers. IPS engages Ph.D. level scientists and skilled technical staff to design, conduct experiments, and report scientific data.

UMF Corporation is the leader in the research and development of high-performance products, programs and training for the infection prevention and commercial cleaning markets. Through extensive testing, exhaustive analysis and the commitment of significant human and financial resources, new antimicrobial technologies have been merged with innovative product designs that are redefining the future.

Source: Textile Today

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India Inc brings home good Q3FY21 report card, most companies beat Street estimates

Festive fervour, a sharp rise in commodity prices, a base effect and stupendous performances from IT majors have combined to make for a good Q3FY21 report card. Earnings season thus far has been full of surprises with most companies beating Street estimates. Unlike in Q1 and Q2, this time around almost all companies have grown their revenues smartly, some by pushing through bigger volumes but many by taking price increases to pass on the higher cost of inputs.

Thanks to rising steel prices globally and a pick-up in local demand, JSW Steel reported a 21% y-o-y increase in revenues. At Ultratech, volumes were up 14% y-o-y on the back of demand from rural and urban housing and government-led infrastructure. Bajaj Auto cashed in on an 8% y-o-y improvement in net average selling prices. Again, volumes at Asian Paints jumped an astonishing 33% y-o-y pushing up revenues by nearly 27%y-o-y on the back of both pent-up and festive demand.

Again several larger organised sector companies were able to take away business from smaller players whose supply chains were disrupted. Even though they came off a low base, revenues at Havell’s rose a remarkable 39% y-o-y as the company gained market share from smaller players. The headline numbers, for a sample of 184 companies (excluding banks and financials) though, are skewed by the steep 22% y-o-y fall in the revenues of Reliance Industries.

Even as revenues rose, companies continued to cut costs and that aided margin expansion. Bajaj Auto, for instance reported a 27% y-o-y increase in Ebitda as it optimized fixed cost and spent less on employee costs. Thanks partly to better cost controls Avenue Supermarts was able to expand Ebitda margins by 2 bps y-o-y. With expenditure contracting more than the fall in revenues, operating profit margins for the same expanded 500 bps y-o-y. To be sure a big jump in other income also boosted profits.

Retailers were among the worst hit post the pandemic but, with store operations nearing normalcy, Avenue Supermarts bounced back to post a good increase in revenues of 10% y-o-y with demand for general merchandise picking up. Discretionary spends, however, don’t seem to have seen as sharp a recovery. At Shoppers’ Stop, footfalls were down 50% y-o-y resulting in a fall in revenues of 32% y-o-y although many of the restrictions had been eased.

The IT pack put on a spectacular show posting strong revenues and margins on the back of robust spending by clients, a ramping up of large deals and what analysts are calling a ‘budget flush’. Managements sound confident they can keep up the good work given the big deal wins they’ve seen. Infosys has raised FY20-21 revenue guidance to 4.5-5% from 2-3% earlier; CEO Salil Parikh said the company was gaining market share in a growing pie. In a quarter in which it took wage hikes, TCS reported strong Ebit margins of 26.6%.

Source: The Financial Express

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WEF’s online Davos summit begins; top leaders, biz heads to share views

The World Economic Forum’s online Davos Agenda Summit began on Sunday night with the premier of a concert filmed during the coronavirus pandemic in different parts of the world and the event will see top global leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, speak on the state of the world over the next five days.

Source: https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/
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Modi to address on Thursday, Jinping on Monday

The World Economic Forum’s online Davos Agenda Summit began on Sunday night with the premier of a concert filmed during the coronavirus pandemic in different parts of the world and the event will see top global leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, speak on the state of the world over the next five days.

After a welcome address by WEF Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Shwab, Swiss President Parmelin delivered a special address, followed by annual Crystal Awards and the premier of ‘See Me: A Global Concert’.

The concert was presented as a shared expression of trust, connection and hope and it features orchestras and choirs in Beijing, Drakensberg, Florence, Kabul, Philadelphia, Vienna and Sao Paulo, with the cellist Yo-Yo Ma and music director Marin Alsop. The concert was filmed on location despite the Covid-19 challenges.

In what could be the first major global summit of the year, the event will see more than 1,000 global leaders, including heads of state and government, CEOs and chairmen of big companies, heads of multilateral organisations as also members of academia and civil society, discuss economic, environmental, social and technological challenges following the Covid-19 pandemic.

The WEF said there would be 15 special addresses from G20 heads of state and government and international organisations during the summit that will continue till January 29. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will deliver his address on Thursday.

Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and Petroleum and Steel Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, as also business leaders such as Anand Mahindra, Salil Parekh and Shobana Kamineni would be among other speakers from India.

While the WEF will host its physical annual meeting in May in Singapore, as against the regular venue of the Swiss ski resort town of Davos, the Geneva-based organisation is hosting this online event, named ‘Davos Agenda’ around the same time it generally hosts its yearly congregation of the rich and powerful of the world.

The event has been billed as a platform that will see top world leaders deliver special addresses and engage in dialogue with business leaders at the start of a “crucial year to rebuild trust”.

Chinese President Xi Jinping will deliver a special address on Monday, while the day will also see several sessions including on the Covid-19 crisis, restoring economic growth and stakeholder capitalism. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will also address a session.

On Tuesday, the speakers would include South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, as also IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva.

Republic of Korea President Moon Jae-in, Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are among the listed speakers for Wednesday.

On Thursday, in addition to Modi, Jordan King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein and Argentine President Alberto Fernandez will also deliver their special addresses.

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will speak on Friday, the last day of the summit.

On Monday, Schwab will also release his latest book, titled ‘Stakeholder Capitalism: A Global Economy that Works for Progress, People and Planet’. It explores how societies can build the future post-Covid-19 and builds on the WEF’s 50-year-old advocacy of the stakeholder approach.

Other major speakers would include Christine Lagarde, Bill Gates, Punit Renjen of Deloitte, Brian T Moynihan of Bank of America, Al Gore, Ishaan Tharoor, Mark Carney, Angel Gurria of OECD, Ajay Banga, KT Rama Rao, Masayoshi Son of Softbank and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of the WHO.

The list of registered participants also include Union ministers Nitin Gadkari, Smriti Irani and Piyush Goyal, along with top business leaders such as Mukesh Ambani, Gautam Adani, Ravi Ruia, Rishad Premji, Pawan Munjal, Rajan Mittal, Sunil Mittal, Ajay Khanna, Ajit Gulabchand, Hari S Bhartia and Sanjiv Bajaj.

The WEF’s Davos 2020 summit was the last major global event that took place before almost the entire world got locked down due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ‘Davos Agenda’ will also mark the launch of WEF’s ‘Great Reset Initiative’ and begin the preparations for the special Annual Meeting in the spring, said the Geneva-based entity, which describes itself as an international organisation for public-private cooperation.

Industry leaders and public figures will discuss how to advance and accelerate public-private collaboration on critical issues such as Covid-19 vaccination, job creation and climate change, among others, according to the WEF.

While the WEF annual meeting for 2021 will be held during May 13-16 in Singapore, the high-profile summit will return to Davos in 2022.

The conclusions from the Davos Agenda week will feed into task forces working on global issues for the upcoming Special Annual Meeting in Singapore, the WEF said.

Source: The Hindu Business Line

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Venture capital funding in India hits $3.1 billion in fourth quarte: KPMG

With 294 deals, venture capital investment in India reached $3.1 billion in the fourth quarter of 2020, compared to $3.6 billion in the previous quarter, said a KPMG report.

While VC investment dropped somewhat during the fourth quarter of 2020, India saw the deal volume rise to its highest level since Q1 of 2018, according to the KPMG Private Enterprise Venture Pulse report for Q4 2020.

During Q4, home delivery, marketplace platforms, and e-commerce were the hottest areas of investment, attracting the majority of India's funding rounds of $100 million or more, including a $200 million raise by marketplace platform Cars24 and a $660 million raise by food delivery company Zomato.

"There have been a number of sectors that have really benefited from the pandemic here in India. Interest in staples delivery - fresh food, groceries, and the likes - has grown quite significantly in recent months, in addition to online retail and gaming. That has driven a lot of investment," Nitish Poddar, Partner and National Leader -- Private Equity, KPMG in India, said in a statement.

"Then there's edtech. It's been an attractive area for VC investors for a couple of years now -- but in 2020, that interest skyrocketed and so did the investments," he added.

Despite global uncertainty resulting from a number of ongoing events, including the Covid-19 pandemic, global VC investment remained very robust in Q4, with $80.8 billion in investments across 5,418 deals.

This strong performance helped drive annual global VC investment to $300.5 billion in 2020 -- up from $281.6 billion in 2019 and second only to 2018's record $329.7 billion despite a drop in deal volume, said the report.

Source: The Business Standard

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India’s economy shows signs of recovery as virus cases decline

India’s economy showed signs a recovery is taking root as waning virus cases and a vaccine roll-out supported sentiment and as focus turns to further stimulus possible in the upcoming federal budget.

The needle on a dial measuring overall economic activity was unchanged at 5 last month, indicating the economy was coasting along in the fast lane. Although seven of the eight high-frequency indicators tracked by Bloomberg News held steady and one deteriorated, the gauge uses the three- month weighted average to smooth out volatility in the single-month readings.

With new infections dipping sharply over the last few months and a nationwide vaccine roll-out put in place this month, consumer confidence and demand look set to grow further. The recovery might get a boost from fresh stimulus in the upcoming budget, which Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present Feb. 1, one of the most high-profile and highly anticipated events on the government’s calendar.

Business Activity

Activity in India’s dominant services sector expanded for a third straight month in December, although at a slower pace. The Markit India Services Purchasing Managers’ Index came in at 52.3 in December from 53.7 a month earlier, with a reading above 50 indicating expansion. Hiring activity, however, suffered due to liquidity concerns and labor shortages, among other issues.

Manufacturing activity continued to strengthen in December, with businesses stepping up production amid efforts to rebuild inventories. The seasonally adjusted manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index was at 56.4, a tick higher than November’s 56.3.

Input price pressures were witnessed broadly across both sectors, a factor that is likely to prevent headline inflation from easing sharply in the coming months.

Exports

Exports regained some ground last month backed by healthy performance of sectors such as iron ore, electronic goods, drugs and pharmaceuticals.

“While intermittent hiccups may persist, we are hopeful that the performance of exports will strengthen in the coming months, as the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out gathers speed in the major trading partners,” said Aditi Nayar, principal economist at ICRA Ltd, in New Delhi.

With activity in the economy normalizing, imports also picked up last month and the trade gap expanded.

Consumer Activity

Passenger vehicle sales, a key indicator of demand, rose nearly 14 per cent in December from a year ago, with two-wheeler sales witnessing robust growth. The Reserve Bank of India said in its latest monthly bulletin that the employment situation would brighten in the coming months and that could give a boost to consumer confidence, setting the economy up for a V-shaped recovery.

Demand for loans picked up from lows seen in October. Central bank data showed credit grew at more than 6 per cent as of end-December from a year earlier -- higher than the 5.1 per cent growth seen in the second half of October. Liquidity conditions were tighter amid advance tax outflows last month.

Industrial Activity

Industrial production shrank 1.9 per cent in November from a year earlier. Production of capital goods declined 7.1 per cent, although infrastructure and construction goods showed a slight expansion of 0.7 per cent from a year ago.

Output at infrastructure industries contracted 2.6 per cent in November from a year ago. The sector, which makes up 40 per cent of the industrial production index, had contracted by a record 37.9 per cent in April. Both data are published with a one-month lag.

Source: The Economic Times

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Small relief in the budget can go a long way in helping taxpayers

A significant part of the annual Union budget is a balancing act. The government raises taxes in some areas and offers relief in others. The balancing act is accompanied by rationalization. That’s what the government did when it first introduced a standard deduction of ₹40,000 in Budget 2018-19 and increased the limit in the next one by ₹10,000.

With the covid-19 pandemic affecting individuals, tax experts said that hiking the standard deduction limit further could help them. They also feel that there’s an urgent need to re-introduce infrastructure bonds. These bonds were brought in about a decade ago but were discontinued the following year.

“In the wake of the pandemic, which has affected individual’s earning capabilities, focusing on these two aspects can bring in relief for taxpayers," said Divya Baweja, partner, Deloitte India.

Let’s look at how standard deduction helped in the rationalization of taxes and why infrastructure bonds, which could partially fund the country’s infra needs, shouldn’t have been discontinued.

Standard deduction

The government replaced the medical and transport allowance with the standard deduction in the 2018-19 Budget. Before the standard deduction, an individual could get ₹19,200 tax deduction under transport allowance and ₹15,000 under medical allowance. The total came to ₹34,200.

In the 2018-19 Budget, the government introduced a standard deduction of ₹40,000 and did away with transport and medical allowance. It was further increased to ₹50,000 in the following Budget.

In terms of savings, the impact may not look significant. However, to avail of the medical and transport allowance, a salaried person had to submit bills and there was administrative effort on the part of the employees as well as the employers, which was time-consuming.

Many tax experts felt that the government could further hike the limit. “It has been a challenging year for everyone, including the government as well as taxpayers. The government is struggling with poor tax collection and its commitment towards maintaining the fiscal deficit target. It has to take care of the vaccination program across the country. Not sure how the finance ministry will balance any tax relief with such challenges," said Preeti Khurana, a tax expert, and spokesperson of ClearTax.

“Standard deduction, however, could be an excellent way of offering tax relief to people with job losses. Many have not got increments or have faced salary cuts. Many spent money on setting up their home office. A hike in standard deduction could be a one-time covid-19 tax relief that the government could think of this year," she added.

Naveen Wadhwa, deputy general manager, Taxmann, a research and advisory firm, agreed. “The government can use it to reward salaried taxpayers. Hiking the limit will leave more money in the hands of the taxpayers, which can help boost consumption," he said.

Infrastructure bonds

Infrastructure bonds were introduced in the 2010 Budget. A ₹20,000 deduction was available to individuals for investing in notified long-term infrastructure bonds from 1 April 2011, under Section 80CCF. It was in addition to the other tax deductions available under Sections like 80C, 80CC, and 80CCD. The deduction was available only for one year. The government discontinued it from financial year 2012-13.

“The bonds served as a way to bridge the funding gap in the infrastructure sector, which plays a key role in the country’s economic development. The government should have continued offering them," said Baweja.

According to tax experts, infrastructure bonds could aid economic growth. The re-introduction of infrastructure bonds is the demand that comes up before every budget. However, this time, there’s pressure on the government to start investing in the infrastructure sector, which will help create jobs and give the economy the right kind of push.

“It will not only help the government to raise funds for infra projects but also lead to increase in investments by individual taxpayers in productive assets rather than parking the money in unproductive assets," said Baweja.

Tax experts suggested that if the government doesn’t have the room to offer it as an additional deduction, infra bonds could be introduced as part of Section 80C.

According to Wadhwa, an alternative to the infra bonds could be allowing state-owned infrastructure companies to raise money through tax-free bonds. “In the current low-interest rate environment, investors are looking at better post-tax returns to beat inflation. Allowing public sector infra units to raise money via tax-free bonds can help individual taxpayers as well as mobilize funds for development," he said.

Changing the standard deduction limit and re-introducing infra bonds can help take some burden off individual taxpayers.

Source: The Mint

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INTERNATIONAL

Follow China, Bangladesh's cue or try something new? Here's a budget idea to settle the growth debate

Economic comparisons between India and its bordering countries have generally yielded a fixed hierarchy of the top three rankings in the last couple of years with China taking the lead, Bangladesh at the bottom and India in between.

However, the pandemic-induced shock has resulted in a unique situation in terms of growth figures for the current fiscal, with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) projecting Bangladesh’s per capita gross domestic product (GDP) to overtake that of India’s,  albeit marginally.

Experts saw the development as an outlier event occurring due to exceptional circumstances which would be rectified within a year.

“Bangladesh exceeding India’s in per capita income is an aberration caused by the higher contraction of the Indian economy due to the lockdown. Next year, as growth recovers, this will be reversed,” said M Govinda Rao, former member of the 14th Finance Commission.

In terms of targets, they felt China would be more suitable for India’s growth aspirations while Bangladesh’s growth story held some key lessons.

The October 2020 edition of the IMF’s World Economic Outlook pegged India’s FY21 per capita GDP, or the GDP divided by the total population, at $1,877 in nominal terms, recording a 10.5% annual drop versus a 4% growth to $1,888 for Bangladesh.

In comparison, China’s per capita GDP was estimated at $10,839 in 2020, as per the IMF report. The same report penciled in China and Bangladesh’s growth figures at 2.1% and 3.8%, respectively, while it projected the Indian economy to see a 10.3% contraction in FY21.

According to official data, the Chinese economy grew 2.3% in 2020 and was close to being back on its pre-pandemic trajectory.

Experts felt that growth figures expressed in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms would be a better indicator of the relative performance of the three countries, and would put India far above Bangladesh and closer to China.

However, the run-up to the latest IMF figures highlights the steps and policies India could have taken along with lessons for the way ahead.

While China’s economy surged ahead during the nineties, quickly scaling up its manufacturing sector through export-oriented foreign direct investment (FDI) policies, Bangladesh’s sharp focus on its textiles sector gave it a strong competitive advantage in terms of exports.

During the time, while India too benefited from export-driven growth, its policy orientation was more inward-focused towards the domestic market. Instead of the labour-intensive manufacturing sector, which is associated with a high growth multiplier effect, a large part of India’s gains came from the services sector.

Bangladesh found its key competitive advantage in the textile sector and turned it into the nation’s engine of growth. Similarly, India needs to identify its specific drivers of growth and focus on making those sectors competitive, according to experts.

China’s growth model points to the importance of industrial infrastructure, said Abheek Barua, chief economist at HDFC Bank. India could emulate the coastal Special Economic Zones (SEZs) that facilitated exports in China, Barua said.

However, taking a cue from what has worked for other countries in the past may not always be the best way forward considering the ever-changing external situation. Along with the protectionist wave washing across economies in the backdrop of the pandemic, China too has begun focusing on its domestic market, Barua added.

This could leave a window for India to focus on improving its exports through a policy shift in the upcoming budget. India could signal a shift in its trade policy from import tariffs to more export promotion and facilitation through the extension of export incentives, broadening the Production Linked Incentive scheme with a clear export push and better trade infrastructure, said Radhika Rao, India economist at DBS Bank.

According to Madan Sabnavis, chief economist at CARE Ratings, India could boost its exports by focusing on small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Support to improving the capacity and quality standards of SMEs could help India exports move up in the global value chain, Sabnavis said.

Source: The Economic Times

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Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s Presidency has heralded a new era in Uzbekistan

Since Shavkat Mirziyoyev took the office of the President of Uzbekistan, the country has not only witnessed an unprecedented era of all round development but has also enhanced its standing in the international arena, emerging as a leading power in Central Asia. Shavkat Mirziyoyev has been hailed as the champion of reforms in Uzbekistan.

Shavkat Mirziyoyev was appointed by the Supreme Assembly as the interim President of Uzbekistan on September 8, 2016, following the death of President Islam Karimov. He was subsequently elected to a full term as the President in the December 2016 Presidential election, winning 88.6% of the votes, and was sworn in on December 14, 2016.

Since he took office, Mirziyoyev has been consistently taking bold decisions with the aim of increasing democratic participation and economic growth. His vision is articulated most famously in his following pronouncement: “It is high time the government serves the people, not vice versa”. Mirziyoyev has stressed on opening Uzbekistan to trade and investment, allowing the free flow of people, ideas and technology.

The 2017-2021 National Development Strategy was adopted in accordance with the vision of the new Uzbek President. Five priority areas of Uzbekistan’s Development strategy for 2017-2021 were identified as:

  1. Further strengthening the role of the Oliy Majlis (Parliament) and political parties in deepening the democratic reforms and modernization of the country; reforming the governance system; and improving public management system.
  2. Ensuring true independence of the Judiciary; increasing the authority of courts; democratization and improving the judicial system; providing guarantees of protection of rights and freedoms of citizens and improving the rule of law.
  3. Further strengthening of the macroeconomic stability and the maintenance of high rates of economic growth; improving the competitiveness of the economy through deepening of structural reforms; modernization and diversification of its leading industries; modernization and intensive development of agriculture; continuing of institutional and structural reforms aimed at reducing the state’s presence in the economy; further strengthening the protection of rights and priority role for private property; encouraging the development of small business and private entrepreneurship and integrated and balanced socio-economic development of provinces, districts and cities for optimum and efficient use of their potential.
  4. Consistent increase in real income and job creation; improving social security system and health care; enhancing socio-political activity of women; implementation of targeted programs to build affordable housing; development and modernization of road transport; engineering, communications and social infrastructure; ensuring the improvement of living conditions of the population; development of education and science; and improving the state youth policy.
  5. Priority areas in the field of security, inter-ethnic harmony and religious tolerance; and implementation of balanced, mutually beneficial and constructive foreign policy.

The Presidency of Shavkat Mirziyoyev ensured that these commitments are translated into reality. Parliamentarians have been encouraged to interact with the people and regularly visit their constituencies.

This has borne positive results for the political system in the country and has also raised the trust of politicians and political institutions in public perception. The Uzbekistan civil and political landscape has shown a great deal of progress.

The civil society organisations and mass media are operating under a far-greater liberal environment. Civil society is now an active partner in the political process rather than a foe. The number of registered civil societies in the country is increasing year by year.

There has been a marked improvement in transparency in administration and in the report of the Transparency International on “Corruption Perception Index 2019”, Uzbekistan improved its score to 25 points, rising by 5 positions (taking the 153rd position).

This ranking will certainly see a continuous spike if the current President stays in power for a longer term.

The economic reforms of Shavkat Mirziyoyev have begun to show positive results. Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the global economic growth rate, Uzbekistan witnessed impressive growth rates.

In the first half of 2020, Uzbekistan’s real GDP growth was 0.2 percent, compared with 4.1 percent in the first quarter. However, according to the World Bank, GDP growth was 5.8 percent in the first half of 2019. The World Bank forecasts GDP growth for Uzbekistan at 4.3% in 2021 and 4.5% in 2022, according to the Global Economic Prospects released in January 2021.

This is impressive considering the fact that in the region of Central Asia, growth is expected to recover to 3% this year. In Human Development Index (HDI) report 2020, Uzbekistan increased its position by 2 points from 2019 and is now ranked 106th. These also will definitely go up with more years of Mirziyoyev in the President’s office.

The Uzbek legislations on banking (the banking bill prevents the former owners of banks that were nationalized or liquidated in recent years during a widespread financial-sector clean-up from regaining ownership rights or receiving monetary compensation) and land reforms (lifting a ban on the sale of farmland) have also been welcomed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The country’s position in the credit risk rating of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has improved. According to the World Bank’s Doing Business rating, the country rose by 7 positions ranking 8th place among 190 countries in terms of business registration, and was among best reformers.

In the sphere of health, Uzbekistan’s COVID-19 response earned the praise of the World Health Organisation (WHO) which noted that “Uzbekistan benefits from a high level of community awareness, as well as a working surveillance system providing daily aggregated data to inform decision-making.

Additionally, the number of national diagnostic laboratories increased in response to the outbreak, creating a network of 60 throughout the country”.

Shavkat Mirziyoyev has raised the international profile of Uzbekistan, particularly as a regional actor in Central Asia. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Shavkat Mirziyoyev took the lead in working out joint measures to combat the spread of infection. Uzbekistan provided humanitarian assistance to Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

The Uzbek President has highlighted his country’s commitment to foster greater regional cooperation in Central Asia. He proposed to establish a Regional Centre for the Development of Transport and Communications under the auspices of the United Nations.

The Uzbek President also reiterated his support to hold an International Conference on the 10th Anniversary of Regional Joint Plan on the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

These proposals and initiatives by Uzbekistan will not only strengthen the economic as well as regional standing of countries in Central Asia but will also strengthen the security architecture in the region.

Uzbekistan has also called for a durable peace in Afghanistan. The Uzbek President has proposed to establish a permanent UN Commission on Afghanistan to promote and facilitate the economic and social development of Afghanistan.

This is in accordance with the principle that any peace process in Afghanistan must be in accordance with the will of the Afghan people and not imposed by any external power.

Thus, in domestic as well as international affairs, Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s policies have been a success. On the domestic front, the economy is opened up for the welfare of the people.

In the domain of international relations, Uzbekistan is fast emerging as the leading regional security actor in Central Asia.

Source: New Delhi Times

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America’s era of mediocrity is now in new hands

As President Joe Biden and his designer-wearing, multi-ethnic running mate Vice-President Kamala Harris took the oath of office under the protection of over 25,000 soldiers, U.S. networks kept reminding us that the troops were in the American capital as it was under threat of an attack by outgoing President Donald Trump’s hardline supporters.

Their fear was justified in view of the unprecedented attack on the U.S. Capitol with Trump supporters ransacking the building, sending members of congress and senators into hiding and resulting in the deaths of five people. But wasn’t the attack a taste of America’s own medicine?

Americans say they were shocked by what they saw as an attack on their seat of government, but perhaps this was a reminder to them that attacks on parliaments and Presidential palaces of democratically elected governments is nothing new for America. Except that such toppling of elected governments was done by America in foreign countries across the world. Who can forget the U.S.-backed bombing of President Salvador Allende’s Presidential house La Moneda in Santiago on 9/11 in 1973 by the Chilean Armed Forces? Not to forget the 1953 overthrow of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh of Iran or the backing of coups in Vietnam and Cuba.

Other countries where America had a hand in overthrowing governments include Nicaragua, Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Haiti. In Africa, Patrice Lumumba of Congo and Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana stand as victims of such actions by America.

And then we have the carnage of Baghdad and Kabul to remind us of America’s imprint on the pain of the people who suffered for no fault of theirs.

Having said that, the United States has produced great statesmen who have carved the way of freedom of speech, scientific accomplishments and played a leading role in individual liberty and of course the “pursuit of happiness,” hitherto considered sinful, never to be declared as goal in life where sacrifice and suffering ensured eternal peace.

In our times the names of Roosevelt, JFK and Johnson resonate as men who aspired greatness for the people they served, not themselves. These were men who lifted the American spirit in both despair and hope, fought poverty and landed a man on the moon – even Reagan with his call “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” or Nixon, reaching out to Chairman Mao for peace with China, had the future in mind.

Then came the era of selfishness, personal glory and mediocrity with borderline corruption when Bill Clinton lied, and his wife Hillary defended him. The man who came to end racial discrimination left us his “three strikes and you are out” policy that left countless Black Americans in prisons.

George Bush Jr. became the epitome of silliness and false bravado while Obama won a Nobel Prize just for being America’s first Black President notwithstanding his White mother. With him around, one had to be reminded “man can’t live by speech alone.”

The American slide into mediocrity was now visible and the last four years has shown how the ego of one man destroyed his chance of a second term. From suggesting bleach to fight COVID-19 to suggesting his supporters march towards the Capitol and stop the process of validating President-elect Joe Biden as the next President.

A self-inflicted wound will ensure that Donald Trump, despite his many accomplishments, will remain as a symbol of pettiness and arrogance who stood abandoned by his allies and could only call on the far-right to respond to his calls.

On Wednesday, Trump flew into the oblivion and in stepped the man he had referred to as “Sleepy Joe” to become America’s 46th President — the first to take the oath under the protection of troops.

In his opening address, President Biden invoked the memory of the Jan. 6 mob attack on Capitol Hill by declaring the day’s ceremony as a victory of democracy.

He preached “unity,” talked of this “winter of peril” and said Americans are “good people,” even as he and his party planned to decimate an already dead enemy by continuing the task of impeaching former President Trump.

We’ll have to wait until 2024 to see whether America’s slide into mediocre leaders beholden to billionaires and the Deep State ends or if it thrives.

Source: New Delhi Times

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