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Vijay Mallya was heckled At India-Australia World Cup Match

Businessman Vijay Mallya was subjected to cries of "chor hai (you are a thief)" as he left The Oval stadium in London yesterday, where he was watching a cricket World Cup match between India and Australia. The former Kingfisher Airlines boss is facing extradition to India where he is wanted on charges of fraud and money laundering amounting to Rs. 9,000 crore.

"I am making sure my mother doesn't get hurt," Mr Mallya quoted when asked to respond to the cries. 

"I am here to watch the game," he said and also says that "preparations are underway for the next hearing scheduled in July".

Mr Mallya also posted a photo of himself and his son, Siddharth Mallya, from inside the stadium with the caption: "Great to watch cricket with my son and even sweeter to see India's emphatic victory over Australia. Congratulations to @imVkohli? and his team".

This is not the first time Mr Mallya has been heckled at a cricket match.

In January 2017 he faced similar cries - those of "chor, chor (thief, thief)" - when he came to the same stadium to watch a Champions Trophy cricket match between India and South Africa.

Mr Mallya's extradition was ordered by the Westminster Magistrates' Court in December last year, after which the UK Home Secretary signed the order. The businessman then filed an application for permission to appeal the order, which was refused. 

A "renewal application" was filed in April. The renewal involves a short oral hearing before a High Court judge, now scheduled for July 2, where his lawyers will further plead his case against being extradited to India.

Vijay Mallya, who left India on March 2, 2016, has repeatedly denied fleeing the country and said he is ready to pay back the money he owes to the Indian banks. 

A consortium of 13 banks, led by the State Bank of India (SBI), has initiated loan recovery proceedings against him. The proceedings are on before a special court in Mumbai under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had also moved the Special Prevention of Money-Laundering Act Court last year to get Vijay Mallya declared a "fugitive economic offender" and confiscate his properties, estimated at more than Rs. 12,000 crore, making it the first such case of its kind under the new law.

RBI Cuts Rate To Lowest In 9 Years To Boost Growth, Loans May Get Cheaper

The Reserve Bank of India's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), led by Governor Shaktikanta Das, on Thursday unanimously lowered key lending rate or repo rate by 25 basis points or 0.25 per cent to 5.75 per cent. The six-member committee also changed the policy stance to "accommodative" from "neutral". Repo rate is the interest rate at which commercial banks borrow short-term funds from the RBI. The rate cut comes after official data last month showed the country's GDP or gross domestic product grew 5.8 per cent in the quarter ended March 31. That meant India lost its status as the fastest growing major economy to China, which clocked a growth of 6.4 per cent in the three-month period.

Here are 10 things to know:

1. With today's cut, the RBI lowered the key interest for third time in a row to a level last seen in September 2010.

2. The RBI's move to lower the repo rate met economists' estimates. Two-thirds of 66 economists in a poll conducted by news agency Reuters ahead of the release of GDP data had expected the Monetary Policy Committee to announce a 25-basis-points cut in the repo rate to 5.75 per cent.

3. The reduction comes as a relief to borrowers as equated monthly instalments (EMI) for home loans, car loans and other loans are set to come down.

4. However, depositors would earn less on their bank investments.

5. Many economists had expected the central bank to switch to an "accomodative" stance. 

6. “Liquidity in the banking system has seen a movement from deficit to positive zone. It is important to see this situation continues to ensure credit transmission,” said Lakshmi Iyer, chief investment officer (debt) and head products, Kotak Mahindra Asset Management Company. 

7. In a press conference after the release of the policy statement, Mr Das said that the central bank would ensure a "faster and higher" transmission by commercial banks to pass on the benefit of lower interest rates to their customers.

8. "The change in stance was a bit of a surprise. Debt markets will take this as a significant positive move though most of the rate cut cycle is probably over. The tone of the RBI policy was dovish and highlights the concerns on growth," said Suvodeep Rakshit, senior economist at Kotak Institutional Equities.

9. The Reserve Bank of India lowered its GDP growth target for financial year 2019-20 to 7 per cent, from 7.2 per cent in April.

10. The consumer inflation for the first half of financial year 2019-20 has been pegged in the range of 3-3.1 per cent with "risks evenly balanced", the RBI noted in its bi-monthly policy statement.

GDP growth hits 5-year low, unemployment rises: New FM Nirmala Sitharaman faces tough revival challenge

Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday was elevated to the post of Union Finance Minister under Narendra Modi's NDA 2.0 cabinet. She will also head the Corporate Affairs ministry in the new cabinet apart from her primary role as the finance minister.

Sitharaman, who became the first woman in 48 years to hold the top post after Indira Gandhi, faces a multitude of economic challenges as she takes the top post at North Block.

Improving growth

On Thursday, GDP growth data released for the last quarter of 2018-19 came in at 5.8 per cent, the lowest in at least 20 quarters. With the sharp slowdown in growth, India has lost its fastest growing economy tag to China after two years.

Meanwhile, India's overall GDP growth has touched a five year low as well at 6.8 per cent. This is in stark contrast from the 8 percent growth rate recorded a year ago.

Since the last financial year, GDP growth has sequentially dipped from over 8 percent to 7 percent in the second quarter while further coming down to 6.6 percent in the third quarter.

However, economists have raised several structural concerns after growth fell below 5.8 percent for the last quarter of 2018-19.

A slowdown in GDP growth in the last quarter has been attributed by economists to slow rural consumption demand, lapses in the manufacturing sector, agricultural distress, and unemployment. Key sectors including FMCG and automobile have also fallen sharply due to lowering rural demand.

While these are some of the top challenges for the new finance minister, she will also have to maintain a balance between growth and fiscal consolidation, as recommended by most economists.

Sitharaman will also have her work cut out in planning new sectoral reforms to iron out issues that have led to a slowdown in growth in a number of sectors.

The former defence minister will also have to look closely at the shadow-banking sector which has been under pressure since the defaults at IL&FS, which triggered a liquidity crisis in the economy.

Noted economists including Raghuram Rajan have said India has the potential to breach 10 percent GDP growth but added that it has to be supported by chiseled reforms.

Unemployment at 45-year-high

However, of all the challenges she faces, fixing the job crisis is likely to be on top of the agenda.

Unemployment in the country is at a 45-year high at 6.1 percent, according to latest figures released by the Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation (MoSPI).

Earlier, an unreleased periodic labour force survey by the NSSO had shown a spike in unemployment in the country but was rejected by the government, which termed it as a draft report.

This is yet another concern for Nirmala Sitharaman and what makes her job tougher is the fact that the country offers limited fiscal room to boost growth through higher government expenditure.

Sitharaman will have to carefully work with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to tackle the dual-ended issue of balancing growth.

Among other challenges, Sitharaman will also have her hands full in solving the distress faced by farmers in the country. Farmers in the country have once again started protesting against weaker prices and burgeoning debt.

The average agricultural growth under NDA's first term has not been low at just 2.5 per cent. This is another area where Sitharaman needs to focus in order to prevent a further slump in the economy.

But the trickiest challenge for the new finance minister will be to balance growth and expenditure perfectly to ensure the speedy economic revival and fiscal consolidation.

Nirmala Sitharaman is Finance Minister: Facts about the senior-most woman in Modi's cabinet

Nirmala Sitharaman is all set to step into Arun Jaitley's shoes as she takes charge of the finance portfolio in Modi's Cabinet 2.0. She has served as the defence minister in the Modi government's first term from September 2017 to May 2019.

She took charge as the Finance Minister on Friday afternoon.

Here are quick facts about the new Finance Minister:

1. She is the country's second female finance minister. Previously, former prime minister Indira Gandhi had also handled the finance portfolio in 1970-71.

2. Sixty-year-old Sitharaman was the first woman to be appointed full-time Defence Minister of India in September 2017.

3. Although the defence portfolio was passed around to three ministers under Modi 1.0 government and Sitharaman was seen by many as a tail-end batsman coming in for the slog overs, she proved to be a tenacious player. She has, in fact, driven many of the policy changes like the new defence manufacturing policy and launched the UP and Tamil Nadu defence industrial corridors.

4. She previously served as Minister of State (Independent charge) of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and had also handled the finance and corporate affairs portfolios as minister of state.

5. In 2003, during Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's tenure, she became a member of National Women for Commission till 2005. The following year, she joined the BJP and became the national spokesperson of the party.

6. Since 2016, she has served as Member of the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of Parliament.

The US took India out of the Currency Monitoring Committee

The Trump administration on Tuesday removed India from its currency monitoring list of major trading partners, citing certain developments and steps being taken by New Delhi which address some of its major concerns. Switzerland is the other nation that has been removed by the US from its currency monitoring list which among others include China, Japan, South Korea, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam.

India has been removed from the monitoring list in this report, having met only one out of three criteria a significant bilateral surplus with the US for two consecutive reports, the Treasury Department said in its latest semi-annual report on macroeconomic and foreign exchange policies of major trading partners of the US sent to the Congress. After purchasing foreign exchange on net in 2017, the central bank steadily sold reserves for most of 2018, with net sales of foreign exchange reaching 1.7 per cent of GDP over the year, it said.

India maintains ample reserves according to the IMF metrics for reserve adequacy, it said. In both Switzerland and India, there was a notable decline in 2018 in the scale and frequency of foreign exchange purchases, the report said. Neither Switzerland nor India met the criteria for having engaged in persistent, one-sided intervention in either the October 2018 report or this report. Both Switzerland and India have been removed from the monitoring list, the Treasury said in its report running into over 40 pages.

India for the first time was placed by the US in its currency monitoring list of countries with potentially questionable foreign exchange policies in May 2018 along with five other countries - China, Germany, Japan, South Korea and Switzerland. In its next report in October 2018, the Treasury had said that India has made improvements and its name would be removed from the currency manipulation list in the next report.

"India's circumstances have shifted markedly, as the central bank's net sales of foreign exchange over the first six months of 2018 led net purchases over the four quarters through June 2018 to fall to USD 4 billion, or 0.2 per cent of the GDP," the Treasury had said in its October 2018 report.

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