1. Lingering doubts over growth stats
The controversy that started with the release of the new series of India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) about six months back refuses to die down. While many critics have noted the fact that the new, higher growth rate is not consistent with other underlying data such as credit offtake, tax collections, balance of payments, revenue growth of listed firms etc., an analysis in Mint has drawn attention to underlying methodological weaknesses in the approach towards the performance of the corporate sector. Among those who have been critical of the new series are Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan, who has stated that it is difficult to take the GDP numbers on face value, as well as BJP leader and former finance minister Yashwant Sinha.
2. Time for builders to beware?
Several members of the Parliamentary Select Committee for the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill 2013 are of the opinion that provisions for prosecution and imprisonment should be added in most cases where the builders fail to discharge their duties and functions towards their clients. This opinion is a result of public consultations that panel members held in which housing and consumer groups participated. The general opinion is that financial penalties do not act as a major deterrent in such cases as developers factor in the costs arising out of penalties and pass it on to the buyers.
3. Be civil, Modi tells online warriors
MyGov.in held an informal interaction between Narendra Modi and nearly a hundrer hand-picked social media activists from across the country on Wednesday at the PM’s residence. Addressing those gathered, the PM implored them to ignore negative criticism they come across on social media, and instead use it in a positive and constructive manner. The PM also stated that he has never blocked anyone on Twitter for criticicing him. The PM also asked social media users to refrain from using abusive language, stating that it was possible to get a point across in a decent manner. Modi’s remarks come in the wake of widespread criticism of online supporters, known colloquially as ‘bhakts’, being abusive towards individuals questioning the PM’s record and policies.
4. OROP delay to trigger 1965 protest
Ex-servicemen protesting the delay in the implementation of the One Rank One Pension promise made by the BJP might boycott the government’s ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1965 India-Pakistan war. The servicemen who have been on a hunger strike since June 15, have called for a boycott of all government functions. This could lead to the boycott of the ceremony by ex-servicemen who took part in the war. General Satbir Singh advisor of the United Front of Ex-servicemen stated that they will be boycotting all government functions other than those organized by the Indian Army.
5. Assam Congress unit staring at split
The Assam state Congress unit has become a house of discord in the past few days with party rebels openly voicing their opposition to chief minister Tarun Gogoi and PCC chief Anjan Dutta. The rebels have served an ultimatum which states that they will break off by July 18. With the situation spiralling out of control AICC general secretary CP Joshi and others held talks with rebel leader Himanta Biswa Swarma in New Delhi in the last two days. The rebels are reportedly plotting to align their new party with the All India United Democratic Front led by Badruddin Ajmal.
6. Westland, Flipkart in copyright fight over Amish
Tata-owned publishing house Westland Ltd. has dragged Flipkart to the court alleging that the e-commerce website has violated its copyright by selling Amish Tripathi’s Scion of Ikshvaku on its online platform. Westland is the publisher of the novel and has signed a two-month exclusive contract with Amazon for internet sales. The controversy is quite similar to the one that erupted last year when Amazon made the Chetan Bhagat novel Half Girlfriend available on its platform even though Flipkart had an exclusive deal with publisher Rupa to sell the book online.
7. SC to review penal provisions for hate speech
The Supreme Court on Thursday decided to review the penal provisions for hate speech and sought a response from the Centre for scrapping the law for allegedly violating the citizens’ right to freedom of speech. This comes in the aftermath of the SC agreeing to examine the constitutional validity of the criminal defamation law. The two judge bench comprising justices Rajan Gogoi and M Y Eqbal said that that various sections of the IPC relating to hate speech needed to be examined while issuing notice to the Centre on BJP member Subramaniam Swamy’s plea. Swamy has been charged with making inflammatory remarks at a university speech in Assam.
8. Look after domestics, MEA tells its flock
The Ministry of External Affairs has asked its diplomats to ensure the welfare of domestic workers taken abroad and to follow the laws of the country of their posting in regard to labour regulations. These guidelines come after an increase in the number of complaints of ill treatment by service staff. India’s high commissioner to New Zealand Ravi Thapar was recalled last week following a domestic employee complained to the Wellington police of assault by the envoy’s wife.
9. Don’t cap on prices of medical devices say govt depts
The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) and Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) have raised concernes over the proposed separate pricing policy for medical devices, similar to that on medicines. Their view is that putting a cap on the price of such devices will hinder foreign investment and also impede the Make in India campaign as the loss of profits will discourage investors. Supporters of the move maintain that this will help create a level playing field in the market and lower the price for critical devices like stents, which are highly over-priced.