TUESDAY 01 SEPTEMBER, 2020 morningstandard.in facebook.com/TheMorningStandard twitter.com/TheMornStandard TAPAS RANJAN instagram.com/themorningstandard DELHI RIOTS FACEBOOK IN THE DOCK? Media giant should be made co-accused: Panel A CAPITAL VIEW OF NEWS PAGE 5 NEW DELHI J8.00 PAGES 12 Former President Pranab Mukherjee loses battle for life at Delhi’s Army hospital; was seen as the encyclopaedia of contemporary Indian history; was accorded Bharat Ratna in 2019 PRANAB MUKHERJEE ● 11 DECEMBER 1935 ● 31 AUGUST 2020 THE PM INDIA NEVER HAD S A N T W A N A B H AT TA C H A R YA P RANAB Mukherjee was the prime minister that India never had. Instead, he became President—the 13th in India’s line, bringing a rare political gravitas to that role. But it was the other office, that of the highest executive, that destiny seemed to have held out for him more than once—and ultimately denied. Not because he lacked stature, statesmanship or political heft. If there was one thing he lacked, it was the direct connect of the mass leader, but then he was almost the perfect embodiment of the other kind of politician—the savant, policy maven and parliamentarian in whom the spirit of institutions seemed to find their fullest expression. Often fondly called the encyclopaedia of contemporary Indian history, current affairs and constitutional nor ms, Mukherjee, who died after a chest infection and related illnesses at Delhi’s Army Referral Hospital on Monday indeed , leaves a void in Indian polity, never to be filled. A man who could be the accessible Pranabda to all and sundry, and still inspire awe and respect—the eminence grise who could admonish anyone and everyone, whenever he thought it fit. When he took oath as President in July 2012—a long way from his humble village in Birbhum, West Bengal, where he walked miles through rice fields to reach his school—he was expected to be a ‘political’ president. But he surprised even veteran analysts by being a textbook President. Never overstepping the boundaries of constitutional proprieties and his own inclusive, democratic moorings. Unlike a Giani Zail Singh or K R Narayanan, Mukherjee did not see Rashtrapati Bhawan as an oppositional space to government. That’s why he could straddle the transition from UPA to NDA, from Manmohan Singh to Narendra Modi, without a glitch. No surprise he was accorded the highest civilian award of the land, the much coveted Bharat Ratna in 2019. However, nor was it the case that he had retreated into a grand mansion of silence. If he chose to intervene, it was not by returning legislation passed by Parliament, like some of his predecessors. Having been on the other side, he knew the sanctity of that space. Instead, he used his constitutionally mandated speeches as President to point to aberrations he noticed—thus becoming a vital stabilising figure at a very transitional time. In that sense, much like A B Vajpayee, Mukherjee was a child, a byproduct of parliamentary democracy. He truly believed in the power of debate. He was, indeed, very pained and disturbed in his last years about the decline in parliamentary functioning, and its image, centrality and prestige. A quintessential Congress politician, Mukherjee was neither above contradiction nor a stranger to the little intrigues of Delhi politics. He, after all, was witness to several transitions, the Emergency, two assassinations, liberalisation, the emergence of the BJP Though . it was the Congress and a reluctant Sonia Gandhi who let him make an honourable transition to presidentship, he nurtured the hurt of having been passed up for the PM’s job. Once, after Indira Gandhi, when her son Rajiv succeeded her, and not Mukherjee, then the seniormost Cabinet minister. Later, twice, as Sonia chose Manmohan Singh over him in 2004, and did not deem it fit to even make him Home Minister (as he had told me in an interview), and when she continued with Singh despite UPA’s dwindling reputation. He had to nearly engineer an escape to Rashtrapati Bhavan lest he be stuck in a Congress with a generation closer to his daughter Sharmistha’s age group, some of whom had neither the savvy nor the humbleness to learn the ropes. No one, however, understood Mukherjee’s political mind as much as Sonia, who once famously said she couldn’t think of a CWC meeting without “Pranabda”. She is also said to have admitted that sidelining Pranab was Rajiv Gandhi’s biggest mistake. Minus his astute political instincts guiding him, Rajiv lurched from one crisis to another. Despite the hurt of having to report to Singh, once an official in his ministry when he was FM in the 80s, Mukherjee worked hard for the UPA regime in various top ministries, heading about 50 GoMs at one FULL COVERAGE: P7 point! Worst shrink in Q1 GDP data shows economy is in ICU S U N I T H A N AT T I Some of the indicators used for GDP estimates Indicators FY21 Q1 -15 Coal -6.5 Crude oil Cement -38.3 -56.8 Steel Commercial vehicles -84.8 Bank deposits 9.6 Bank credits 5.6 Mining Manufacturing Electricity Metallic minerals -22.4 -40.7 -15.8 -43.3 I NDIA’S first quarter GDP shrunk to a level unknown in our economic history At . 23.9%, it’s the sharpest contraction since 1996 when we began bean-counting quarterly data and probably the worst since 1980s. Assuming a 5-6% trendline growth, the effective output loss in Q1 is upwards `10 lakh crore. That’s the national output lost, perhaps, forever, as Covid-19 cut the economy fiercer than a Samurai blade. In absolute numbers, total output punched in at `26.9 lakh crore, down from `35 lakh crore last year. Worrying, nominal GDP — widely used in government estimates — contracted 20.6% or from `44.8 lakh crore to `35.6 lakh crore. Just as misfortune conspires with bad luck during crises, several key metrics pounded each other into the ground leaving Asia’s third-largest economy in a quicksand with both demand and supply side contraction standing witness. On the supply side, all but agriculture saw a de-growth with some like construction, manufacturing and services contracting indecently at 40-50%. Demand side too mirrored this with investments shrinking 47%, while consumer spending saw a negative growth of 27%. Like in the past, government expenditure saved the day with 16.4% growth, but that’s an im- polite increase given the pandemic and the sovereign’s role of riding to everyone’s rescue. That said, excluding government spending, GDP would have contracted even worse by 30%. So that’s some solace. In essence, just two life-sustaining arteries — agriculture and government spending — pumped our economy. As if that’s not disappointing, fiscal deficit data released separately showed that the government continued to pinch both revenue and capital spending. Whether this was anticipating lower tax receipts or fearing deficit scolds is unclear. Almost every country is emptying its public purse to fight the pandemic-led downturn, but In- PG COURSES D E L H I C O V I D WAT C H States’ right on quota to docs remains intact STATUS OF CASES Today WORRY THREE STATES HAVE INDIA’S 43% COVID LOAD Centre will dispatch teams to UP, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Odisha which are reporting a sudden rise in cases | P8 Cumulative 1507 18 -1358 Recovered Death Active cases Total +ve cases 155678 4444 14626 174748 (COVID-19) PATIENT MANAGEMENT Total beds Occupied Vacant Hospital 14145 4146 9999 Covid care centre 10143 901 5490* Covid health centre 599 345 254 EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi THE Supreme Court on Monday ruled that the Medical Council of India (MCI) is not empowered to make regulations on reservation for in-service candidates for admission to post-g raduate medical courses. A five-judge bench, headed by Justice Arun Mishra, held that the MCI is a statutory body whose purpose is to regulate medical education and profession, but the right to provide reservation in admissions rests with the respective state governments. “States can frame regulations for separate entry for such inservice candidates. Such doctors, who are already working, should, however, be mandated to serve in rural and tribal areas for five years,” the bench ruled. It held that the MCI regulation that barred such reservation was “unconstitutional and arbitrary”. The apex court then directed the states to for mulate a scheme for rural and remote service by in-service doctors after completing their postgraduate degree. The court was responding to a plea by doctors from Kerala, Maharashtra and Haryana saying, granting reservation benefits would encourage those working in government hospitals and in rural areas. dia’s fiscal deficit in July stood lower than June, reflecting overt caution against a debt binge. Meanwhile, economists believe the latest data betrays the inferno inside as they expect revisions to toss shocking de-growth grenades later. Policy watcher Anil Sood of fered some proof. Take inventory, which should have seen depletion because production was shut for two months. Instead, it recorded a quarterly increase similar to last year at `53,000 crore. Ditto consumption spending, which Sood thinks could be sharper than what’s captured in Monday’s provisional estimates. Army trucks move towards Ladakh via the Leh–Manali Highway, on Monday | PTI HOME ISOLATION PLA bid to change LAC status quo foiled again M AYA N K S I N G H & P U S H K A R B A N A K A R @ New Delhi A fresh confrontation is brewing in Eastern Ladakh w i t h t h e I n d i a n A r my thwarting China’s attempted ingress at a new point to change status quo on the intervening night of August 29 and 30. Army spokesperson Colonel Aman Anand revealed the Chinese Army “carried out provocative military movements to change the status quo”. “PLA troops violated previous consensus arrived at during military and diplomatic engagements during the ongoing stand-off in Eastern Ladakh,” he added. A senior Army officer added, “We were alert to such a step by the Chinese Army as even after a huge mobilsation of troops and equipment they have not been able to make much shift in the LAC. With winter approaching things will become even more difficult for them.” Sources said nearly 200 PLA troops accompanied with the armoured vehicles were part of the attempted ingress on the Souther n Bank of Pangong Tso Lake. Indian troops pre-empted and thwarted Chinese attempts to unilaterally change the situation on the ground. 7876 (COVID-19) TESTING STATUS 5,678 8,714 RTPCR/CBNAAT/ TrueNat tests conducted However, there was no clear word on whether or not there was any contact or clash between the two sides. “We expect retaliatory action. We are ready,” said another officer. The Indian side called for a Brigade Commander level flag meeting at Chushul to resolve the issue. For its part, China blamed India for the tension. Colonel Zhang Shuili, spokesperson of the Western Theater Command at Chengdu, said, “The Hunan coast and the nearby Reqin mountain pass once again illegally crossed the line and took control, blatantly provoking and causing tension on the border... (sic)” P8 Rapid antigen test conducted in city 15,83,485 83,341 Total tests done so far Tests per million *3752 beds of CCC are occupied by persons under quarantine including travellers who came by Vande Bharat Mission and bubble flights Source: Delhi health bulletin | Data for Aug 31 Interestingly valuables — in, cluding high value purchases — saw an unmistakable decline indicating spending curbs not just by lower income households, but also by India’s burgeoisie and the super rich. Moreover, given the unglamorous state of core sector data, chances are we are in a recession right now, though the official word will be out in November. In nearly seven decades, we’ve seen only four years of negative growth, but economic pundits are entering heavy discussions not about recession, but when the worst will be behind us, so recovery can begin. Chief economic adviser K V Subramanian signalled that India was experiencing a Vshaped recovery with high frequency indicators like rail freight and power consumption showing promise. But even with some improvements in next three quarters, several believe the rate of FY21 contraction could be beyond -5%. The choice for the government will be whether consumption or investment side needs to be pushed. Given the limited fiscal space economists believe a demand or consumption-led recovery is crucial for the economy, but that requires government measure to arrest job losses and increase disposable incomes. FULL COVERAGE: P10 Schools can charge only tuition fee during lockdown: Delhi govt EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE@ New Delhi IN a relief to parents in the national capital, the Delhi government on Monday restricted private schools from charging any fee other than the tuition fee in the Covidinduced lockdown period. As per the order of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA), Deputy CM Manish Sisodia has directed private-unaided schools to charge only the tuition fee during the lockdown and not charge under any other head. “All private unaided recognized schools were directed to charge only the tuition fee during the lockdown period” said the order. There was a similar order from the Directorate of Education (DoE) in April, but the directives come in view of rising number of complaints received by the government. According to the DoE, even after the earlier order, the parents had complained against many private schools charging fees under annual and development heads. Parents have been opposing fees Earlier, the parents association of a private school in Greater Kailash II had challenged fees charged, in a court. The association had sought a stay on the fee issued by the school in July, which included annual and development charges. The order said if a school has already charged a fee other than the tuition fee in the lockdown period, then it should be refunded immediately. “Annual and development charges can be charged from the parents on a pro-rata basis and only on a monthly basis after completion of the lockdown period. Earmarked levies such as transportation charges etc will not be charged,” said the order. It also says schools will not stop monthly salaries in the name of non-availability of funds. “If a school fails to follow the direction, action will be taken against it under Section 24 of the Delhi School Education Act and rules.” BALANCING ACT Tough SC language but token penalty for contempt, Bhushan says fine K A N U S A R D A @ New Delhi THE Supreme Court on Monday imposed a token fine of `1 on senior advocate Prashant Bhushan after his conviction for contempt of court for his two tweets criticising the present CJI and his predecessors and said it was not afraid of either sentencing or debarring him from practice. Hours later, Bhushan said he will respectfully pay the penalty while reserving the right to seek review of the conviction and sentencing. A three-judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra while reading out the verdict said, “We are not afraid of sentencing the contemnor either with imprisonment or from debarring him from the practice. His conduct reflects adamance and ego, which has no place to exist in the system of administration of justice and in noble profession, and no remorse is shown for the harm done to the institution...” Bhushan was directed to pay the token penalty by September 15, failing which he will have to undergo simple imprisonment of three months and will be disbarred from practicing before the apex court for three years. “He has attempted to denigrate the reputation of the institution of administration of justice of which he himself is a part. At the cost of repetition, we have to state that the faith of the citizens of the country in the institution of justice is the foundation for rule of law which is an essential factor in the democratic set up,” it said. Commenting on the unprecedented press conference by four seniormost SC judges in January 2018 against the then CJI, the bench said, “We hope it was the first and the last occasion that the Judges have gone to press, and God gives wisdom to protect its dignity by interP8 nal mechanism.”
Express Network Private Limited publishes thirty three E-paper editions of The New Indian Express newspaper , thirty two E-paper editions of Dinamani, one E-paper edition of The Morning Standard, one E-paper edition of Malayalam Vaarika magazine and one E-paper edition of the Indulge - The Morning Standard, Kolkatta.