Fiscal prudence, please
With an indifferent state of the global economy, economic indices are playing truant across nations and we are no exception. Plenty of global funds are idling due to stagnant business and trade even as fickle investors enter and exit global bourses at will, leaving each in disarray. No sustained industrial growth is possible with unsure long-term funding and uncertain markets. The wild swings in India’s IIP are an indication of this, just as the shifting assessment of GDP adds to the bewilderment. Major industries in every sector are deep in debt and even sale of assets only go to service their day-to-day operational expenses than servicing debt. As a corollary, bank NPAs continue to rise and depress the entire economy. The windfall savings in the oil import bill, due to a highly depressed crude, has failed to impact growth/economic indices as yet. Clearly, there is a fiscal disconnect. The pre-budget economic survey must define these grey areas and locate the fault lines. More than any other budget till date, the singular stress must be to augment the domestic fund availability by reverting to savings and conservative fiscal prudence. This alone will insulate us from vagaries of cavalier fund flows into our economy that stymie and transfix our policy initiatives.
Avoidable deaths at Siachen
The news of the passing of Siachen avalanche survivor Lance Naik Hanumanthappa has cast a pall of gloom over the country. It was a miracle that he was found alive in the inhospitable glacier. Hanumanthappa joins his nine comrades, who were stationed with him at the outpost in the ‘undiscovered country’ and were killed by the avalanche. The toll has led us to ponder on the futility of stationing troops to guard the snow-capped frontiers and risk being killed by the elements. Since the occupation of the Siachen glacier in 1984, hundreds of precious lives have been lost to massive avalanches. It is frightening to think that avalanches are bound to increase in frequency as a result of the phenomenon of global warming. Both India an Pakistan will put their soldiers to grave peril if they fail to understand that the vagaries of nature can act as their worst common enemy. The argument that Siachen is of vital strategic importance to favour the continued deployment of soldiers does not diminish the case for negotiating a deal for de-demilitarising the mountainous terrain. The dispute over the ‘glaciated territory’ arising from the conflicting interpretations of the phrase “thence North to the glaciers” in the 1949 Karachi ceasefire agreement has to be settled by diplomacy. The stumbling block is the inability of both countries to realize that both share a common destiny and possession or ownership of a few inches or kilometres of land more or less than the other makes no great difference. An amicable settlement will create a win-win situation for both and save lives on both sides.
G David Milton
Maruthancode, Tamil Nadu