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Task Now Cut Out For The Finance Minister

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has her task cut out for her; Jet’s woes linger; Modi, Trump, Abe to meet on the sidelines of G-20 & more

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The country’s first full-time woman Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, is set to present her maiden Budget on July 5. When her name was announced for the coveted post, many were surprised. But those clued in to the Finance Ministry and the quarters of the Bharatiya Janata Party were not taken aback at all – for Sitharaman had been   recommended for the role by her predecessor, Arun Jaitley – someone who’s rated very highly by PM Narendra Modi. The challenges for Sitharaman are manifold.

With the economy showing signs of a slowdown, her task is cut out for her. She is expected to give a stimulus to the economy. She also stares at the controversy stirred by former Chief Economic Advisor, Arvind Subramanian, who says in a recent paper that economic growth numbers may have been inflated in the last six years or so.Sitharaman may keep the middle class and the rural populace especially happy in her maiden Budget, which Corporate India too awaits with bated breath. Most industry leaders think that she will understand their concerns better, given her stints in the corporate sector.
— Team BW

Jet Woes Continue
By the time you read this, it will be over two-months since Jet Airways halted operations on the midnight of April 13-14. And in the past two-months, the world may have moved on but the plight of thousands of Jet employees remains the same. After two creditors of Jet Airways, Sharman Wheels and Gaggar Enterprises, filed separate insolvency pleas at the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), Mumbai, for recovery of their dues, the National Aviators Guild, the pilots union of Jet Airways with over 1,100 members, too is moving the NCLT.

The pilots want to recover their salaries, including dues, pending for almost five months. While the salaries and remunerations figure had stood at Rs 781 crore in the October-December quarter, the overall liabilities of the airline, including unpaid salaries and vendor dues, are nearly Rs 15,000 crore. Meanwhile, efforts to restart Jet’s operations have not met with any success. All eyes are now on bankers like the SBI and the new civil aviation minister. Who will move first? Watch this space.  
– Ashish Sinha

Sidelines Of G20 
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was the first foreign dignitary to congratulate Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his epochal victory in the parliamentary elections.  PM Modi and the US President, Donald Trump, are scheduled to meet later this month at the G-20 Summit in Osaka, Japan.

The G20 Summit is formally known as the ‘Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy’. As the “premier forum for international economic cooperation” representing more than 80 per cent of the global GDP, the G20 has made continuous efforts to achieve robust global economic growth.
Modi and Trump are scheduled to have a tri-lateral summit with Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the summit. In 2018, both Modi and Abe had agreed to create a new Foreign and Defence Ministerial Dialogue to intensify defence cooperation.  
— Manish Kumar Jha 

Publicity Blitz For Arms
Exports of defence equipment (that require approval of the government) crossing the targeted Rs 10,000 crore mark have infused government quarters with new enthusiasm. A new target has been set to export military equipment worth Rs 35,000 crore.

The Indian government has also entrusted the defence attachés posted at the Indian embassies with the task of promoting the home-grown defence production industry. Altogether 85 countries have been identified for the promotional activities, where each Indian embassy would be entitled to $50,000 of expenses to publicise Indian defence enterprises in both the private and public sectors.

“The scheme will play a catalytic role in addressing interventions required for exploring new markets and promoting export-oriented activities by defence attaches in the countries to which they are attached,” the defence ministry said in a statement.

India is already a supplier to the world’s biggest aerospace companies like Boeing and Lockheed Martin. The home-grown light combat aircraft Tejas has also received interest from countries like Malaysia and Vietnam. The new initiative taken by the government to give that much needed fillip to defence production in India, may  fructify that dream of Made in India military equipment and give that much needed push to the manufacturing sector.
 — Manish Kumar Jha

And Now, Water in the pipeline 
Narendra Modi –led governments believe in ease of living, as was evident in the Swachh Bharat Mission in the first term of the National Democratic Alliance government. The cleanliness drive had focused on providing toilets where they were wanting.

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s election manifesto for the second term, prioritised water. Not surprisingly, a Jal Shakti Ministry has been instituted, headed by the enterprising Gajendra Singh Shekhawat. Shekhawat recently unveiled his agenda in the capital, when he set a target for piped tap water for the entire country by 2024.

“When everyone works in the holistic and integrated manner, then only our goal of providing piped water to all households can be achieved. A ‘Jan Andolan’  (mass movement) should be started for an integrated approach to solving water problems,” Shekhawat said.
The ministry has cause for concern. The per capita availability of water has actually declined to 1,400 litres now from 5,100 litre 70 years ago.  
— Sheena Sachdeva

Hair It Goes 

A lock of Ludwig van Beethoven’s grey and dark brown hair, thought to be given by him to the pianist Anton Halm in 1826 went up for auction at Sotheby’s on 11 June. Estimated to be worth around £12,000 - £15,000, the lock of hair  was part of the ‘Important Manuscripts, Continental Books and Music’ sale in London. It fetched a  price of £35,000.

The story goes that Halm wanted a lock of Beethoven’s hair as a gift for his wife. The hair he managed to procure through Beethoven’s factotum though, was actually that of a goat. When Beethoven heard of it, he felt bad that his friend had been deceived. So he snipped off some of his hair and gave it to Halm.

This particular sale also contained a calligraphic autographed letter by Mao Zedong addressed to the journalist Yang Yi.  Written towards the end of the Chinese Civil War, the letter fetched a price of £519,000.
— Jyotsna Sharma

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