Amid CAA protests, economic slowdown and price rise pose serious challenge to the Modi government

Updated: 24 December, 2019 16:54 IST | mid-day online correspondent | Mumbai

Amid the CAA and National Register of Citizens (NRC) protests, there pose as a huge challenge to the present government.

This image has been used for representational purposes only.
This image has been used for representational purposes only.

Since the enactment of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) on December 12, protests have erupted in various parts of the country, including Delhi, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh among others. When the protest against the CAA at the Jamia Millia Islamia University in Delhi took a violent turn, the country stood in solidarity with the protesters and criticised the Delhi Police for 

Though CAA has been grabbing the headlines in the recent past, a few other areas of concern, especially economic slowdown and women's safety poses a challenge to the Narendra Modi-led government

Moody's Investors Service in October slashed India's economic growth forecast to 5.6 per cent for 2019, saying government measures do not address the widespread weakness in consumption demand. "We have revised down our growth forecast for India. We now forecast slower real GDP growth of 5.6 per cent in 2019, from 7.4 per cent in 2018," it said. "India's economic slowdown is lasting longer than previously expected."

Moody's had on October 10 slashed India's economic growth forecast for 2019-20 fiscal to 5.8 per cent from an earlier estimate of 6.2 per cent

In October, Moody's had attributed the deceleration to an investment-led slowdown that has broadened into consumption, driven by financial stress among rural households and weak job creation.

"India's economic growth has decelerated since mid-2018, with real GDP growth slipping from nearly 8 per cent to 5 per cent in the second quarter of 2019 and joblessness rising. Investment activity was muted well before that, but the economy was buoyed by strong consumption demand. What is troubling about the current slowdown is that consumption demand has cooled notably," it said

The BJP government led by Narendra Modi has undertaken a number of measures to arrest the growth slowdown. In September, it announced a cut in the corporate tax rate to 22 per cent from 30 per cent. It also lowered the tax rate for new manufacturing companies to 15 per cent to attract new foreign direct investments

The tax rate reductions bring India in line with rates in other Asian countries

The government's other initiatives include bank recapitalization, the mergers of 10 public sector banks into four, support for the auto sector, plans for infrastructure spending, as well as tax benefits for startups

"However, none of these measures directly address the widespread weakness in consumption demand, which has been the chief driver of the economy," it said

India's economic growth slipped further to hit an over six-year low of 4.5 per cent in July-September, according to official data.

The previous low was recorded at 4.3 per cent in the January-March period of 2012-13. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth was registered at 7 per cent in the corresponding quarter of 2018-19.

During the six-month period (April-September 2019), the Indian economy grew 4.8 per cent as against 7.5 per cent in the same period a year ago.

The Reserve Bank had lowered the GDP growth projection for 2019-20 to 6.1 per cent from earlier forecast of 6.9 per cent.

Women's safety
According to the latest National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, 4,15,786 rape cases were reported across India between 2001 and 2017. While 16,075 cases were reported in 2001, the number saw a sharp increase with 32,559 cases in 2017. After battling for life at Delhi's Safadarjung hospital, the Unnao rape survivor who was set ablaze while on her way to court died of a cardiac arrest.

The 23-year-old had alleged that in December 2018, Shivam and Shubham Trivedi had abducted and raped her. She filed a case in March this year and was stabbed, beaten up and set ablaze while she was on her way to court. In another incident, an 18-year-old Fatehpur resident was raped and allegedly set on fire. She succumbed to her injuries. On December 15, another 23-year-old woman set herself on fire outside the Unnao SP’s office after the man she accused of rape, was given anticipatory bail.

Amid recent protests over the rape and murder of a vet in Hyderabad, a 55-year-old woman was raped and murdered in Delhi. Meanwhile, a dozen more cases of rape go unreported in the country.

Rising onion prices
The sharp increase in onion prices is a cause of concern as the kitchen staple is now priced at Rs 120 per kilograms in Mumbai and traders feel that the prices may go up further in the days to come. The cost of the vegetable went up by 33 per cent price earlier this month and over 70 per cent in the month of September. The price rise is said to be at a four-year-high. Heavy rains in the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, western Madhya Pradesh and eastern Rajasthan have led to the destruction of onion crops hitting the production quantity. Traders further said that though the supply of stored onion of the previous year's crop was sufficient in the country, supply shortage has caused the rise in prices as transportation has been affected because of heavy rains.

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First Published: 24 December, 2019 16:02 IST

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