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Commercial & investment relations have become mainstay of India-Malaysia relations: Prez

The two countries have taken their strategic partnership forward, particularly after the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Malaysia in November 2015.

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New Delhi, Apr 1 : Terming commercial and investment relations as the mainstay of relations between India and Malaysia, President Pranab Mukherjee today said there is considerable potential for collaboration between the two countries in defence production, especially under the Make in India initiative.

Welcoming Malaysia Prime Minister Mohammad Najib Bin Tun Abdul Razak, who called on him at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the said relations between India and Malaysia are centuries old and is best ever so far.

“The two countries have taken their strategic partnership forward, particularly after the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Malaysia in November 2015,’’ he said.

Mr Razak’s visit comes at a time when India and Malaysia are celebrating the 60th anniversary of India-Malaysia diplomatic relations.

“While our relations are historic, we have been able to make significant strides in the last 10 years,’’ the President said.

Business

Inflationary woes: RBI retains rates, maintains accommodative stance

Reacting to the improved GDP growth forecast, the S&P BSE Sensex crossed the 45,000 mark for the first time ever.

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Shaktikanta Das

Mumbai, Dec 4 : The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Friday retained its key short-term lending rates to subdue the unabatedly high inflation rate.

However, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the central bank maintained the growth-oriented accommodative stance, thus opening up possibilities for more future rate cuts.

Resultantly, MPC voted to maintain the repo rate — or short-term lending rate for commercial banks, at 4 per cent.

Likewise, the reverse repo rate was kept unchanged at 3.35 per cent, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the ‘Bank Rate’ at 4.25 per cent.

It was widely expected that the Reserve Bank’s MPC will hold rates as recent data showed that retail inflation has been at an elevated level during June.

As per recent data, the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which gauges the retail price inflation, spiked in October to 7.61 per cent from 7.27 per cent in September.

Though not-comparable, India had recorded a retail price inflation of over 3 per cent in the corresponding period of previous year.

The RBI maintains a medium-term CPI inflation target of 4 per cent. The target is set within a band of +/- 2 per cent.

In an online address detailing the MPC’s decision, RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das said: “At the end of its deliberations, the MPC voted unanimously to leave the policy repo rate unchanged at 4 per cent.”

“It also decided to continue with the accommodative stance of monetary policy as long as necessary – at least through the current financial year and into the next year – to revive growth on a durable basis and mitigate the impact of Covid-19, while ensuring that inflation remains within the target going forward.”

According to Das, the MPC was of the view that inflation is likely to remain elevated, with some relief in the winter months from prices of perishables and bumper kharif arrivals.

“This constrains monetary policy at the current juncture from using the space available to act in support of growth. At the same time, the signs of recovery are far from being broad-based and are dependent on sustained policy support,”.

“A small window is available for proactive supply management strategies to break the inflation spiral being fuelled by supply chain disruptions, excessive margins and indirect taxes. Further efforts are necessary to mitigate supply-side driven inflation pressures. The MPC will monitor closely all threats to price stability to anchor broader macroeconomic and financial stability.”

Besides, Das said that India’s economy has witnessed a faster than anticipated recovery and its expected Real GDP growth rate will be at (-) 7.5 per cent in FY21.

He cited that several high frequency indicators have pointed to growth in both rural and urban areas.

“Consumers remain optimistic about the outlook and business sentiment of manufacturing firms is gradually improving. Fiscal stimulus is increasingly moving beyond being supportive of consumption and liquidity to supporting growth-generating investment,” he said.

“On the other hand, private investment is still slack and capacity utilisation has not fully recovered. While exports are on an uneven recovery, the prospects have brightened with the progress on the vaccines.”

“Taking these factors into consideration, real GDP growth is projected at (-) 7.5 per cent in 2020-21, (+) 0.1 per cent in Q3:2020- 21 and (+) 0.7 per cent in Q4:2020-21; and 21.9 per cent to 6.5 per cent in H1:2021- 22, with risks broadly balanced.”

Furthermore, Das elaborated that RBI will take additional measures to enhance liquidity support to targeted sectors having linkages to other sectors, deepen financial markets and conserve capital among banks, NBFCs through regulatory initiatives amongst other steps

Later on during a press interaction, Das, while answering to a question replied that RBI has not ‘junked’ inflation targeting via monetary policy mechanism.

He admitted that past inflation expectations have not materialised.

Citing extraordinarily situation, he said: “Our expectations on inflation, which we had over the last two months obviously that has not materialised. And we have to keep in mind that we are dealing with an extraordinary situation. A once in hundred years kind of event, and the kind of impact it has produced on the economy as well as on human lives, not just in India but across countries. It’s huge. So, we have to respond to this particular situation.”

Corroborating the assessment, RBI’s Deputy Governor Michael D. Patra said:

“You will see the trajectory of inflation completely changing. But what we have given you is the baseline with things, standing as they are today.”

“But, if you read into the guidance that Governor is giving. He sees this window as a chance for supply side management which is the prime instrument to use at this juncture, to produce a different trajectory of inflation.”

On the RBI’s internal working group’s recommendations on banking guidelines, he said that the final decision on the same has not been taken.

Reflecting back on the volatile calender year 2020, the governor explained that liquidity inducing measures have attained their desired objectives.

In addition, the Reserve Bank has decided to bring the 26 stressed sectors identified by the K.V. Kamath Committee under the ambit of on-tap targeted long-term repo operation (TLTRO).

The measure has been adopted under its regulatory and development policies which are independent of the MPC.

So far five sectors were eligible for the scheme as announced on October 21, 2020.

The policy review, the last one for the calendar year 2020, garnered positive response from the markets and India Inc.

Reacting to the improved GDP growth forecast, the S&P BSE Sensex crossed the 45,000 mark for the first time ever.

It touched a new intraday record high of 45,033.19 points.

The NSE Nifty50, also touched a fresh record high of 13,250.30 points.

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India

Farmers at Delhi-Ghazipur border to intensify stir if demands not met

The new farm laws are – The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation); The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance; and the Farm Services and The Essential Commodities (Amendment).

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Ghazipur Border

New Delhi: Farmers protesting at Delhi-Ghazipur border against the three contentious agricultural laws on Friday warned that they will amplify the protest by blocking more roads and choking supply of food products to the national capital if another round of discussion between them and the central government fails to yield results on Saturday.

On Thursday, the fourth round of talks between the Union government and farmers’ representatives at Vigyan Bhawan did not reach any conclusion, but the government has softened its stance on some demands of the farmers. Farmers have, however, refused to stop protests till the three farm laws are repealed. Another round of discussion is slated for Saturday at 2 p.m.

Rakesh Tikait, Spokesperson of Bharat Kisan Union, which is spearheading the protest at the border point, told IANS, “Farmers want the government to take back the laws and make a fresh draft. Currently, it is for the corporates. The law should be for the farmers and they must be consulted. Either the government will agree to our requests tomorrow or we will keep protesting. More farmers are ready to come here.”

Another senior member of the union, on condition of anonymity, said that if the demands are not met, farmers will stay put to even witness the January 26 parade and run their tractors on the roads of the national capital.

President of Tarai Kisan Sangathan Tejinder Singh Virk said resonated the same sentiment, “If the government does not accept our demands tomorrow, we will choke the supply of milk, vegetables and fruits going to the national capital. Blocking the roads was a mere first step. We will decide on the next step tomorrow.”

The farmers have been sitting on protest for the last nine days at the Delhi-Haryana and Delhi-Uttar Pradesh borders. Thousands of farmers have been camping at the Singhu border, while several other groups have blocked entry at the Delhi-Haryana border in Tikri, the Delhi-UP Ghazipur border and the Delhi-UP Chilla border.

The agitated farmers are demanding the repeal of the three farm laws passed by the Parliament earlier this year and have expressed apprehension that they would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporate houses.

The new farm laws are – The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation); The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance; and the Farm Services and The Essential Commodities (Amendment).

The government has maintained that the new laws will provide farmers with better opportunities. It has also accused the opposition parties of misleading farmers.

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Health

India will start vaccination only after expert nod: PM seeks suggestions

The samples tested up to December 3 is 14,47,27,749 including 11,70,102 tested on Thursday, said the Indian Council of Medical Research.

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Vaccine Covid

New Delhi : Addressing an all-party meeting on Covid vaccines delivery and distribution, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that state governments’ advise will be sought on the matter as to who all will get the inoculation first, and urged political leaders to write in their suggestions.

“Experts believe that the vaccines will be ready in few weeks, and Indian scientist are very confident of developing them,” Modi said.

Public health will be top priority for the government as pricing of the vaccines are concerned, he said adding that the vaccination process will start only after the experts give nod.

Government has suggested first vaccination for frontline Covid warriors and health workers to get vaccinated first.

The all-party meeting was called for suggestions for feedback on the progress made so far and was attended by all political parties in Parliament.

The Prime Minister had earlier interacted with team of developers and visited three cities on Saturday to conduct an extensive review of the vaccine development and manufacturing process, going to the Zydus Biotech Park in Ahmedabad, the Bharat Biotech in Hyderabad and the Serum Institute of India in Pune.

With 36,595 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, India’s overall tally increased to 95,71,559 on Friday, as 540 more fatalities took the Covid-19 toll to 1,39,188, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said.

India witnessed a 3% rise in fresh cases and 2.7 rise in deaths since Thursday.

Currently, there are 4,16,082 active cases, whereas 90,16,289 patients have been discharged so far, including 42,916 discharged in the past 24 hours.

The recovery rate stands at 94.2 per cent and fatality at 1.45 as per cent, the Ministry said.

The samples tested up to December 3 is 14,47,27,749 including 11,70,102 tested on Thursday, said the Indian Council of Medical Research.

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