News Wrap


Puzzling predictions and Calculations continue in Indian statistics. The Union Government of India has changed the base year for price comparisons from 2004-05 to 2011-12. New e-data available from the Union Ministry of Corporate Affairs is being used to reflect the manufacturing activities. Gross Domestic Product at ‘Market Price’, as opposed to GDP at ‘factor cost’ is being used as the reference GDP of the country. The GDP growth for fiscal 2013-14 has been upgraded from 4.7% to 6.9% by the Central Statistical Office. Based on the new calculations, the Indian economy grew at 7.4% for 2014-15. The rise in indirect tax receipts for fiscal year 2014-15 has been just 6.7%. India’s merchandise exports are falling. Barring oil and gold, imports remain stagnant. The Union Government of India has set a target to almost double India’s exports of goods and services to $900 billion by 2020. The five-year foreign trade policy contains several incentives for exporters and units in the Special Economic Zones. Merchandise Export from India Scheme and Service Exports from India Scheme have been launched. Trade policy has been aligned to ‘Make in India’, ‘Digital India’ and ‘Skills India’ initiatives. Duty credits scrips are freely transferable, and usable for payment of custom duty, excise duty and service tax. On-line filing of documents and emphasis on paperless trade will facilitate trade. But by real effective exchange rate, the rupee is overvalued by 24%. A free trade agreement between India and the European Union is still to be negotiated.

Wheat Procurement
The wheat procurement drive in northern India commenced in the last week of March 2015. Unseasonal rains during March 2015, have delayed the arrival of grains in the mandis, across key producing states of Punjab, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh. The Union Government of India has set a target of 30 million tons of wheat purchase by Food Corporation of India and state government’s agencies for the marketing season in April-June 2015. The actual purchase is falling below that level, because of crop loss due to rains. At the start of March 2015, the FCI had a wheat stock of around 20 million tons. The buffer stocks norm for beginning April 2015 is only 7 million tons. The ample wheat stocks will counter the fall in procurement, by a few million tons. Wheat crops in 1.7 million hectares of Haryana have been adversely affected by the March rains and hailstorms. The figure stands at 2.6 lac hectares in Punjab and 2.4 lac hectares in Madhya Pradesh.

Female Workers
The female labour force participation rate in India is around 33% of the workforce, well below the global average of 50%, and the east Asian level of 63%. The proportion of women working in India has declined over the past decade. While the 50% gender gap, that is the difference between male and female participation rates, is second only to Saudi Arabia’s among the G20 economies.

Around 189 companies, or nearly 13% of the 1457 NSE-listed companies, missed the 31 March 2015 deadline of appointing a single woman director on their boards.

Violence Against Women
At least thirteen women have been targeted in Isfahan, about 200 miles south of Tehran, the capital of Iran in a spate of acid attacks in recent months. For revealing too much hair under their hijabs, and wearing what was deemed to be excessive make-up, men on motor cycles threw acid on their faces. The victims were severely disfigured. New laws, part of a broader drive to curb women’s rights in Iran, would restrict birth control and access to jobs for those without children, after a call by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, to boost Iran’s population from 77 million to 150 million, within 50 years. In 1979, a revolution replaced the royal dynasty of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi by an Islamic State. The laws are series of measures that assault women’s rights. The ‘‘plan to promote virtue and prevent vice’’ bill demands all citizens promote ‘‘virtue’’ and prevent ‘‘vice’’ by verbal, written and practical action. The bill specifically grants the right to citizens to act as a self-appointed morality police, to force women to wear a ‘‘correct hijab’’, the Muslim headscarf, which is compulsory by law in Iran. Amnesty International has attacked the plans as an attempt to turn women into baby making machines.

Vol. 47, No. 46, May 24 - 30, 2015