national

Droupadi Murmu: The BJP's tribal and women's gains; states are in danger of falling into a debt trap

Except for The Time of India (ToI), most of the newspapers skipped the opportunity to comment on yesterday's two major developments in their Edit pages: the nomination of the presidential candidates by the opposition and the NDA, and the removal of Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray from office by Eknath Shinde of the Shiv Sena.

The ToI praised the BJP's selection of Droupadi Murmu for the presidency in their Edit entitled "The Next President." The ToI claimed that the BJP had effectively communicated a political message and that the Opposition had been left out.

The newspaper reports along anticipated lines that Murmu is well qualified, having served as a governor and legislator, and that the BJP may benefit electorally in Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and Odisha where the tribal have been rebuffing the saffron outfit's overtures.

The ToI offers some advise to the BJP as well, urging the group to concentrate on the economy.

The Edit is indeed one-dimensional because it keeps finding reasons to applaud the BJP's decision while avoiding commenting on the President, who serves as the nation's conscience keeper, and keeping quiet about recent socioreligious conflicts in the nation. It also fails to address the reasons why the presidential election should be about more than caste and gender.

Since the dissident MLAs, led by state minister Eknath Shinde, have now relocated to Guwahati, Assam under the protection of master political strategist and state chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, the ToI has endeavoured to provide an account of the fluid political situation in Maharashtra as it develops.

while noting that Uddhav has no simple solutions. According to the ToI, the Shiv Sena runs the risk of always becoming the BJP's B-team.

The characteristic of Indian democracy is populist politics. The Reserve Bank of India and the Ministry of Finance are now concerned that some of the states' debt issues could get out of hand.

The Indian Express (IE) and The Economic Times (ET), in their editorials titled "States, Do Look At Your Borrowings" and "Note To States," respectively, have issued warnings about the escalating populist political movement.

The IE used a report by the RBI to highlight the fact that the 10 states with the largest debt are Punjab, West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Kerala, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana.

The worst states for debt to GDP ratio include Bihar, Kerala, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Wet Bengal, according to IE, who also recommended that governments increase their revenue and cut non-merit subsidies.

The ET has remarked that a proliferation of off-balance-sheet borrowings has resulted from the governments' being given the freedom to raise borrowing during the Covid-19 outbreak. The Center has started closely examining the state loan records. The Finance Secretary had also briefed the state chief secretaries on their debt circumstances at Dharamashala, Himachal Pradesh.

The ET also emphasised how uncomfortable the debt situation is given that the aggregate borrowings of the Centre-states currently account for 90% of GDP rather than the customary 60%.

However, both newspapers have given the Centre a pass for setting the trend in favour of populist policies. For instance, for 80 crore people, Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojna should be maintained.

The Hindu has urged the Central government to make sure that the advantages of the rollout of 5G reach the broadest segments of the society in its Edit, "Progress without boundaries." The Hindu acknowledged that the costs are still considerable but expressed hope that revolutionary technology would encourage internet connectedness for the greater good of the populace.

According to Deccan Herald (DH), India's increase in life expectancy from 68.6 to 69.7 years—compared to the global average of 72.6 years—is a tiny accomplishment. According to DH, India lags behind Bangladesh (72.1 years), Nepal (70.5 years), and China (76.9 years).