The Centre’s latest bonanza in the form of excise duty cuts on petrol and diesel, even while putting its own finances under stress, emphasises the people-centric focus of the Modi model of governance. Our Cover Story this week is about the Government’s announcement to reduce excise duty on petrol to give relief to consumers. The Centre’s estimate that the move can have revenue implications of Rs 1-lakh crore should be viewed against the positive growth and price scenarios in the medium term. This was, perhaps, the best option the Government could have exercised in the wake of the rapidly climbing inflation, both wholesale and retail.
It is a well-calculated decision and, as PM Modi himself put it, “…a significant drop in petrol and diesel prices will positively impact various sectors, provide relief to our citizens and further ‘Ease of Living’.” The ball is now in the states’ court; a reduction in VAT could bring down the prices of both fuels substantially, lifting the consumer sentiment further.
A related report deals with the Government’s efforts to reduce dependence on imports by encouraging fuel blending. In this regard, the Union Cabinet’s recent decision to advance by five years its target for achieving 20 per cent ethanol blending in petrol is a significant attempt.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi travelled to Japan this week to participate in the Quad summit and also utilise the opportunity to have bilateral meetings with the heads of the other countries in the grouping. In our Centrespread, we explain how Quad has come a long way since its revival in 2017; how its leading faces have changed with the sole exception of PM Modi, and how the world has changed during the last five years. Besides talking of India’s continued diplomatic success, the story deals with the key announcements made at Quad, the notable among them being its $50-billion infrastructural push which signals a joint effort by the four nations in countering China’s Belt and Road initiative in the Indo-Pacific. The announcement of the ‘Indo-Pacific Economic Framework’ and an initiative against Chinese maritime militia also bolster the Quad’s standing, says our report. A related story elaborates PM Modi’s bilaterals with US President Joe Biden, Australia’s new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
Iran, which has been an important country for India throughout its history because of its strategic location, is our Globetrotting destination. It is one of the richest countries in hydrocarbons and India is a rapidly growing economy with a deep thirst for energy. These are the hallmarks of the India-Iran relationship, says our report. Iran’s strategic significance to India is crucial, resulting in close bilateral ties in the face of insurmountable difficulties. The focus of the related story is on the likelihood of the revival of rupeerial trade. Enjoy reading!