Farmer suicides continue unabated
Even though the Maharashtra government had announced a loan waiver for farmers, there was no let-up in the spate of suicides in eight districts of Marathwada. In the last two weeks, as many as 42 farmers had ended their lives, which government officials said highlighted the magnitude of the rural distress. According to the latest figures released by the Aurangabad divisional commissionerate, which monitored the farmer suicides in Marathwada, 445 farmers had killed themselves this year as on June 26. Between June 19 and June 25, as many as 19 farmers ended their lives, while farmers had committed suicide between June 12 and June 18. The government had made the first loan waiver announcement on June 11, after which the statewide farmer strike was called off. The state cabinet then cleared the loan waiver plan to the tune of Rs 34,000 crore last Saturday. As per the latest figures, Beed district had witnessed the highest suicide figure of 74, followed by Nanded (75), Osmanabad (68) and Aurangabad (62) in the last seven months. The continuing farmer suicides despite the announcement of loan waiver highlighted the level of rural distress.
Air India to be privatized
The Government had approved plans to privatize debt-laden Air India, the first step of a process that could see the government offload an airline struggling to turn a profit in the face of growing competition from low-cost rivals. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told reporters after a cabinet meeting that the government had given an "in-principle" approval for the sale of a stake in Air India. The approval, the first of a series of steps needed before Air India could be sold, signaled Prime Minister Narendra Modi's determination to fend off union opposition and sell an asset some economists had long argued should be in private hands. Previous attempts to sell the state-owned airline had floundered, in part due to a lack of potential buyers. India would now form a committee to decide on the details, Jaitley said, including the size of the stake to be sold and whether the government should write off part, or all, of Air India's 520 billion rupees ($8 billion) in debt - a step some officials said was a must to attract buyers. Some officials in the Civil Aviation Ministry had said it would be better to dispose of the airline's subsidiaries and property holdings initially to lower the debt burden and ensure taxpayers benefited if the airline's performance improved.
Bharatiya Janata Party criticises Mulayam
A day after Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav met rape accused and former Uttar Pradesh Minister Gayatri Prajapati at the Lucknow District Jail and asserted that a 'false campaign' was being carried out against him, Bharatiya Janata Party ( BJP) MP and Union Minister Sanjeev Balyan said that since the former was a senior leader, he shouldn't be saying such things, stating that the judiciary was doing its job. Balyan said "He was slapped with charges and was declared absconding during the Samajwadi Party regime only. So, it's surprising that Mulayam Singh Yadav is saying so. The Government doesn't have any role to play in this. The judiciary is doing its job. And he is a senior leader. He shouldn't say such things,". Ealier, after meeting Prajapati, Mulayam said, "False campaign is being carried out against Gayatri Prajapati. He is being targetted as if he is a terrorist." Mulayam said he would meet the Director General Of Police (DGP) and complain. The former Uttar Pradesh chief minister even questioned the possibility of a case of rape "when the woman did not even visit Prajapati's house."
Breaking up Coal India
Reuters had carried a report that the Niti Aayog had proposed that India should split the seven units of state-controlled Coal India Ltd into independent companies to make it more competitive.About 70 percent of India's power generation was fired by coal and India was the world's third-largest producer and third-biggest importer of coal. Niti Aayog said fresh coal production should come from private sector mines adding that the move called for reforms in allocating coal blocks to independent companies specialised in coal mining. Reuters reported in December that senior Indian government officials, tasked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with reviewing energy security, were recommending the break up of the world's largest coal miner within a year. Attempts to break up the world's biggest coal miner could expect resistance from powerful unions representing the firm's more than 350,000 employees. The government backed down from a similar proposal in the face of union protests in 2014. One of the unions, which was close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party, was against the move and said it had the support of about half of Coal India's workers. "We are opposing the recommendations made by NITI Aayog," Baij Nath Rai, president of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, told Reuters. Coal India, the country's second-biggest employer, had been criticized for being bloated and inefficient. Its output-per-man shift was estimated at one-eighth of Peabody Energy, the world's largest private coal producer.