March 24, 2023

Times Top10: Today’s Top News Headlines and Latest News from India & across the World | Times of India


Union and Railway Budget 2022-23; Data Release: Markit Manufacturing PMI (Jan); Last day of nominations for Punjab Assembly polls; Kerala HC verdict on actor Dileep’s anticipatory bail plea; Chinese New Year

1. Eco Survey forecasts 8.5% growth for new financial year
1. Eco Survey forecasts 8.5% growth for new financial year
  • The Economic Survey 2021-22 has forecast 8-8.5% expansion during the next financial year, and called for boosting capital expenditure to sustain high growth.
  • This fiscal: The figure stands at 9.2% — the highest since 1998-99. On a pre-Covid base of 2019–20, this would tantamount to 10% growth.
  • However: The optimism is tempered with caution about potential headwinds such as high inflation, especially rising crude prices, withdrawal of liquidity globally, subdued private consumption and a mixed picture on the jobs front. The document emphasises the recovery to pre-pandemic level but also points to the continuing threat from the virus.
  • What they said: The growth projections are in line with the forecast by the World Bank but less than the IMF’s 9% forecast. They are slightly higher than that predicted by S&P and Moody’s.
  • Tell me more: Like last year, the Survey records the sparkling performance of the farm sector, but also draws satisfaction from the recovery clocked by manufacturing and the fact that the second and third waves failed to knock down the services sector, which accounts for over 50% of the economy.
  • Shape of recovery: The document neither predicts a V-shaped recovery nor succumbs to the pessimistic projection of a U-shaped long haul. In fact, principal economic advisor Sanjeev Sanyal described it as a tilted W, essentially meaning that predicting the exact shape of revival could be hazardous.
  • Note: The growth arithmetic for next year factors in the impact of liquidity withdrawal by major central banks, such as the US Federal Reserve, a normal monsoon and the assumption that the economic impact of Covid-19 pandemic will not be severe.
  • With the economic impact of the second and the third wave being muted compared to the lockdown, the government believes that going forward, disruptions due to subsequent surge in infections will be lower.
  • Also: The projections came on a day when the National Statistics Office’s revised GDP estimates for 2020-21 pegged the economic contraction at 6.6%, narrower than the 7.3% estimated earlier.
2. Crude calculations in that economic projections
2. Crude calculations in that economic projections
  • The Economic Survey’s estimated GDP growth rate for 2022-23 of 8.-8.5% hinges on crude oil prices being in the range of $70-$75 a barrel.
  • But since December, the benchmark Brent crude futures have only moved up, breaching the $90 a barrel. This is the costliest it has been since 2014.
  • India imports 86% of its crude oil requirements. Costlier the crude oil, the worse India’s current account deficit.
  • Will oil price really reduce to $70 a barrel? A Reuters survey of economists and analysts forecast Brent crude would average $79.16 a barrel this year, the highest projection for 2022 thus far.
  • If supply from Opec+ nations do not increase as they had said it would, oil price could even touch $100 a barrel.
  • Then there is the threat of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which could disrupt supplies and soar the oil prices to as much as hit 125 dollars a barrel as per analyst estimates.
  • The Economic Survey acknowledges these concerns. “The inflation in ‘fuel and power’ group of WPI (wholesale inflation) was above 20% reflecting higher international petroleum prices. Although the high WPI inflation is partly due to base effects that will even out, India does need to be wary of imported inflation, especially from elevated global energy prices,” the document stated.
3. Why Centre won’t discuss Pegasus in Parliament
3. Why Centre won't discuss Pegasus in Parliament
The demand

  • A day after Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chaudhary moved for breach of privilege against IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw for allegedly misleading Parliament over the Pegasus issue, more MPs followed suit, setting the stage for another confrontation in the two Houses after the presentation of the Union Budget today.
  • Left MPs Binoy Viswam and V Sivadasan, Trinamool Congress’ Saugata Roy and Congress MPs KC Venugopal and Mallikarjun Kharge on Monday submitted notices for a privilege motion against the Union IT minister.

The allegation

  • All notices referred to the recent New York Times report that said India bought the Pegasus spyware as part of a $2 billion defence deal which was firmed up during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel in 2017 and alleged that the Government of India, through the IT minister, had “wilfully misled Parliament” on the issue.
  • Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, said: “The government is snatching people’s freedom by spying on Opposition leaders, judiciary, and even journalists and bureaucrats”.

Centre’s stand

  • Parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi said: “We have told the Opposition that during the first part of the Budget session, we can only discuss the Budget and the presidential address. Therefore, it would not be possible to hold a separate discussion. In any case, the matter is under the court’s jurisdiction right now”.
  • “Whatever was needed to be said on the issue, was already done by information and technology minister Ashwani Vaishnaw on the floor of the House during the Monsoon Session last year,” he added.

And then

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday urged all MPs to make the Budget session of Parliament fruitful by holding discussions with an “open mind”
4. Centre pulls the plug on news channel, court steps in
4. Centre pulls the plug on news channel, court steps in
  • Malayalam news channel MediaOne, promoted by Madhyamam Broadcasting Limited (MBL), went off the air on Monday after the union information and broadcasting ministry cancelled its licence citing “security concerns”. The channel, popular especially in northern Kerala, is associated with the Jamaat-e-Islami.
  • The channel’s editor, Pramod Raman said the government has not been forthcoming with the details on the decision, adding the channel intends to take urgent legal steps for the restoration of its licence.
  • The ministry’s order said the permission was revoked with immediate effect on Monday after considering MBL’s reply to a show-cause notice issued over the denial of security clearance from the ministry of home affairs.
  • Hours later, the Kerala High Court “deferred” the government’s decision to revoke the channel’s licence by two days so that it can hear the matter.
  • The channel’s licence, granted for a period of 10 years, was reportedly still valid, though the publication was in the process of its renewal.
  • This is the second time the channel is being taken off the air. In 2020, the union government had blacked out the channel for hours citing its coverage of the Delhi riots, calling it biased for questioning the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and accusing Delhi Police of inaction.
6. SC agrees to hear contempt plea on Gurugram Namaaz issue
6. SC agrees to hear contempt plea on Gurugram Namaaz issue
The Supreme Court (SC) agreed for an urgent hearing of a plea seeking contempt action against Haryana officers for their alleged inaction to prevent the disruption of Namaz by Muslims in designated open areas of Gurugram.


  • Following mob protests against Muslims offering their prayers in open grounds, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar had in December, stated that the “practice of offering Namaz which has been done in the open will not be tolerated at all.”

The plea

  • The petition states that the “performance of Friday Namaz, which is being done in the open due to compulsion” and which has been “permitted by the appropriate authorities” was being portrayed as something that was “illegal and in a manner of some sort of encroachment.”
  • Citing an SC judgement of 2018 wherein the court had issued directions to control and prevent hate crimes, including mob violence and lynchings, the petition alleges that there is “continuous inaction, apathy of the State machinery and failure of the local law enforcement agencies and administration to prevent such incidents or to find a solution.”

The precedent

  • In its directions in the Tehseen Poonawalla vs the Union of India case of 2018, the SC, among other directions, had stated that if it was found that the police or the district administration had failed “to prevent and/or investigate and/or facilitate expeditious trial of any crime of mob violence and lynching, the same shall be considered as an act of deliberate negligence and/or misconduct for which appropriate action must be taken against him/her and not limited to departmental action.”
7. A Twitter fight erupts in Bengal
7. A Twitter fight erupts in Bengal
  • A new fight has broken out between West Bengal Chief Minister (CM) Mamata Banerjee and state governor Jagdeep Dhankhar after the CM blocked the governor on Twitter, alleging she was “forced” to take this step due to the governor’s “unethical and unconstitutional” statements against her government which had left her “disturbed.” While the duo has sparred in the past too, the flashpoint for the latest war of words came after Dhankhar on Sunday said the state was turning into a gas chamber of democracy.
  • Banerjee, who addressed the media after a cabinet meeting, also claimed that the governor was threatening the state’s chief secretary and the director general of police and that despite writing to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his removal, “no action has been taken so far.”
  • Banerjee, whose ministers have also had tiffs with the governor, also accused him of abusing her and her officers “using unethical and unconstitutional words” and treating her government as “bonded labour.” Justifying blocking the governor on Twitter, Banerjee said that “every day after seeing his tweet, I become irritated.”
  • Slamming the blocking of his account from her Twitter feed, Dhankhar said that “Under Article 167 it is Constitutional “duty” of the Chief Minister to furnish such information relating to the administration of the affairs of the State and proposals for legislation as the Governor may call for.”
  • Alleging indirectly that the state government had been withholding crucial information pertaining to the state’s administration from him for two years, the governor, in a tweet, added that under Article 159 of the Constitution, it was mandated that “none in the state “blocks” Constitutional Norms and Rules of Law and those in authority “bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India”.”
The Chinese New Year
The Chinese New Year
  • When: Per the Gregorian calendar, 2021 began 32 days ago. But the Chinese New Year is set by its lunisolar calendar — the second new Moon after the Winter Solstice — and, therefore, changes each year. This year, it begins today.
  • Which: The origins of the Chinese astrological system date back at least to the Warring States period (475-221 BC). Like the Western zodiac, it is divided into 12 sections, each characterised by an animal from the Chinese zodiac. 2022 is the year of the tiger (and 2023 will be the year of the rabbit). The next year of the tiger will be in 2034. The other animals are rat, ox, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.
  • How: According to the most famous legend, the Jade Emperor invited the whole animal kingdom to take part in a race, promising that the first 12 to cross the finish line would win a place in the Chinese calendar. The order in which the animals finished reflects their position in the zodiacal cycle — the rat finished first (having tricked the ox into giving him a ride) and the pig last.
  • Who: Notable celebrities born under earlier years of the tiger (1902, 1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986 and so on) include Narendra Modi, Sam Manekshaw, Queen Elizabeth II, Usain Bolt and Rafael Nadal.
  • And ‘tigers’ symbolise power, strength and bravery, while also being seen to represent majesty and righteousness. Alongside charming and popular, other characteristics include confidence and courage — think natural leaders.
9. Eriksen on a comeback after Euro cardiac arrest
9. Eriksen on a comeback after Euro cardiac arrest
  • Danish international Christain Eriksen, who suffered a cardiac arrest during a Euro 2020 match last June and had to implant a cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), has signed for English Premier League side Brentford on a six-month deal.
  • The 29-year-old midfielder had not played a professional game since the shocking incident at Euro but was contracted with Inter Milan. But the Italian club had to cancel his contract in December as players fitted with an ICD are not allowed to compete in Serie A.
  • He had been training mainly alone, although his former club Ajax announced last Tuesday that he had started to train with their reserves.
  • Brentford are placed 14th in the league and have a significant contingent of Danish players. Their manager, Thomas Frank, is also Danish. Eriksen’s return is in line with his stated goal of representing Denmark at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
  • “We have taken an unbelievable opportunity to bring a world-class player to Brentford,” Frank said. “He is fit but we will need to get him match-fit and I am looking forward to seeing him work with the players and staff to get back towards his highest level. At his best, Christian has the ability to dictate games.”

PR Sreejesh. The veteran goalkeeper won the prestigious World Games Athlete of the Year for his 2021 performances, becoming only the second Indian to receive the accolade. In 2020, Indian women’s hockey captain Rani Rampal became the first Indian to win the honour for her performances in 2019. Sreejesh beat competition from sport climber Alberto Ginés López of Spain and Italy’s wushu player Michele Giordano for the award.

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Written by: Rakesh Rai, Judhajit Basu, Sumil Sudhakaran, Tejeesh Nippun Singh
Research: Rajesh Sharma

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