Why is the Rupee falling?


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Rupee has hit a record low against the dollar and has left everyone in India worried. But what has triggered this fall? Why is the rupee falling? Till what level, will the Indian currency plummet? Is it a local problem or is there an internal crisis going on? What can the Indian regulators do to arrest this slide? This blog post is an attempt to explain what has caused this crisis and its aftereffects.

What triggered the Rupee Fall?

Turkey Lira crisis and the emerging markets contagion:

Turkey’s currency Lira has lost almost half of its value against the Dollar in last one year itself and this has caused turmoil not just in the Turkish economy but in other emerging markets as well.

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Turkey is historically a country with low domestic savings rate and heavily depends on external loans in foreign currencies. With sharply increasing gross external loans and limited foreign exchange reserve, Turkey had already started showing signs of defaulting on these loans. This eroded the investor confidence in Turkey causing reduced inflow of foreign investment into the country. Already in a weak spot, Lira faced its greatest crisis thanks to Donald Trump!

US President Donald Trump, on August 10, doubled the import tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum. This action was in response to Turkey’s rejection of US request to extradite an evangelical christian pastor called Andrew Brunson who is currently jailed in Turkey. Brunson faces terrorism charges and the Turkish President Erdogan blames the pastor of being involved in a coup attempt against the himself.

After this announcement, Lira weakened against dollar by more than 14% in a single day. Thanks to this confrontation with US, Turkey is now a risky choice for investment which has caused less inflow of Dollar causing the consistent fall in the value of Lira. Fall in currency value has also led to double digit inflation. The most logical response to fight this crisis is to increase the interest rates which Erdogan has resisted so far further pushing the country into uncertainty.

So, how did India and Rupee get caught in this cross fire? In fact, it’s not just India but almost all emerging economies are facing currency crisis i.e. the currencies are losing their value against Dollar. Indian Rupee has depreciated about 12% while Chinese Yuan has lost around 10% of its value this year. Among other emerging economies, Argentina’s currency has lost more than 50%, Brazil and South Africa currencies close to 20% and Indonesian Rupiah approximately 10% value against the USD. This currency crisis involving most of the emerging economies is being called as the emerging markets contagion.

But why are the emerging economies including India facing crisis?

Again Donald Trump. In pre-Trump era, US economy was growing at roughly 2% every year. The interest rates were also low because of which US was not an attractive destination for the investors. Investors would pick emerging economies (with comparatively much higher interest rates) for extending loans as investment in order to getting more returns.

However, after tax reforms, deregulation and focus on domestic manufacturing brought in by Trump after his election as the President, the US growth rate has revived to 3% and it reached 4.1% in the second quarter of the current economic year. This was around the same time when the Lira crisis was unfolding. Thanks to higher growth, the fed interest rate has been hiked in US which has made it one of the most attractive and very safe destination for investment.

Trump is also indulged in trade war with other emerging economies like China and India which is why foreign investors are withdrawing money from these markets and investing in US which is why Dollar is getting stronger and other currencies are getting weaker.

Is that the only reason for Rupee fall?

There is one more recent reason which has not only affected the value of Rupee but also caused slump in the share market which is an indicator of investor confidence. On 7th of September, RBI data showed India’s Current Account Deficit (CAD) declining to 2.4% of the GDP in Apr-Jun quarter. Current Account Deficit simply means a country is importing more values of goods and services than it’s exporting. This rise in the CAD is because of high crude oil prices and an already depreciated Rupee. This has further led to depreciation of rupee over last 2 days.

Can India do anything to arrest this slide?

Yes, the RBI has many instruments to control the value of the currency and the most useful way is to use the foreign exchange reserve. India has a foreign exchange reserve of approx $400 billion from which the RBI can sell dollars to reduce the stress on Rupee. But it also needs to maintain balance between how much dollar RBI should sell and when to intervene in order to ensure that the Rupee also finds its own value. That is also one reason RBI has so far shown restraint in stepping in to stop the fall. Another instrument which RBI and Monetary Policy Committee will use is to raise the interest rates which is very likely in current scenario. Despite all these measures, Rupee is expected to fall to a level of 74-75 against USD as per several agency reports.

Any imminent threat to the Indian economy?

Most likely No. Credit Rating Agency Moody’s has predicted no immediate risk to Indian economy because of the current crisis. Similarly Nomura has assessed the risks of exchange rate crises for 30 emerging market economies and noted that seven countries are at risk of exchange rate crises with scores over 100: Sri Lanka, South Africa, Argentina, Pakistan, Egypt, Turkey and Ukraine. India’s score on this scale is 25.

So All’s well?

No. And that’s again because of Donald Trump. US President, in a shocking move, pulled out of the Iran Nuclear deal and has also announced sanctions against Iran as well as any country involved in trading with Iran. India imports a lot of crude oil from Iran and once these sanctions kick in November, crude oil prices may rapidly increase thanks to less supply of oil in the market. India being the 3rd largest crude oil importer in the world will be directly hit by this increase in prices. India needs to be careful and prepared for this upcoming crisis.

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Is the Rafale deal a scam? Everything you need to know about the deal


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Dassault Rafale Combat Aircraft (Image source: K Tokunaga/Dassault Aviation)

Of late, the controversy around the Rafale deal signed between the Indian and French governments for 36 Rafale jets has dominated the news. While the opposition led by Congress sees a potential scam in the deal which it can use for the crucial 2019 General Elections, the govt. has strongly denied any wrongdoing. Defence deals are always complex with cumbersome negotiations, therefore there are no easy answers to several questions raised. In order to find the answer to the question “Is the Rafale deal a scam?”, we have to look at the chronology of events (which is spread over more than a decade), go through publicly available documents and make some logical assumptions.

The events date back to the early 2000’s, when the requirement to procure new combat aircraft was felt to strengthen the IAF fleet. The Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) procurement process was initiated in 2007 with a request for proposal (RFP). There were 6 combat aircraft in the race and were evaluated by the IAF technical team: Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Lockheed Martin’s F-16IN Super Viper, RAC MiG’s MiG-35, Saab’s Gripen C, the Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale. The evaluation phase lasted for close to 4 years and by 2011 only Eurofighter Typhoon  and Dassault Rafale remained in the competition.

In January 2012, Rafale was selected as the winner of the MMRCA process and the price negotiation started for the procurement of 126 Rafale jets. Out of 126, 18 were to be provided in fly away condition and rest of 108 were supposed to be assembled in India at HAL facilities after a Transfer of Technology (ToT). The discussions reached a deadlock and many reports blame the then Defence Minister AK Antony’s overcautious approach as he wanted to steer away from any potential corruption scandal. This was in 2012 when some major corruption scandals had surfaced and there was an anti-corruption sentiment in the country aided by Anna Hazare’s fast demanding for a Lokpal law.

The negotiations didn’t progress and the process went into limbo for almost two years till Narendra Modi’s BJP came to power.  In July 2014, Eurofighter offered a 20% reduction in price for Typhoon.

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Eurofighter letter to the then Raksha Mantri Arun Jaitley offering a 20% discount (Image Source: The Print)

As per this offer, a deal with Eurofighter would have costed less than the Rafale deal and that brings the first allegation against the NDA Govt.. Critics have raised questions on why the govt. passed over such a lucrative offer and pursued the Rafale deal negotiations of which was already stuck because of price. The answer lies in the “Defence Procurement Procedure“. It doesn’t allow to consider a revised bid from another bidder when a tender is active and in the commercial negotiation phase.

In 2015, the govt. declared the lengthy MMRCA process as dead. Instead, the Modi govt. decided to 36 Rafale jets off the shelf as the ageing IAF fleet was depleting fast and the decade long negotiations had resulted into nothing. India confirmed the order for 36 Rafale jets in 2016 signing an intergovernmental agreement with France with the price of the deal at Rs 58000 Cr.

Now, let’s come to the biggest contention of the opposition: the price of the deal. The Congress claims that they had negotiated a deal of Rs 54000 Cr for 126 jets where as the NDA bought 36 jets for Rs 58000 cr that too without any transfer of technology. Though it looks like a huge question mark, the truth lies in the details. First of all, the UPA govt. didn’t finalise any deal with Dassault. Second, the figure of Rs 54000 cr was an estimate based on 2011 prices. Third, there’s no clarity if the estimate of Rs 54000 cr includes the cost of spares, weapons system, maintenance. Fourth, it is futile to compare a deal where major manufacturing was supposed to happen in India with a deal in which India was procuring jets in ready to fly condition.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi has been asking for the specific cost of the deal which the govt. has denied to disclose citing the secrecy clause. Why is the govt. not disclosing the cost and hiding behind a secrecy clause?

To be honest, there’s enough price figures available in the public. On November 18, 2016, Minister of State for Defence Dr. Subhash Bhamre told Lok Sabha in a written reply to unstarred Question 533 that the “cost of each Rafale aircraft is around Rs 670 crore“.

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The total deal size is at Rs 58000 Cr which includes the cost of the weapons system, spare parts, maintenance and logistical support etc. apart from the cost of 36 ready to fly Rafale jets. Now the reason cited by the govt. (MoD press briefing as well as Arun Jaitley’s reply in the Parliament) for not giving the cost of the specifics is that it will reveal the specific subs systems used in the jets. The argument sounds logical as you wouldn’t really want the enemy to know (or make an informed guess) what the fighter jets are capable of even before the jets are deployed. Also, the aircraft manufacturer wouldn’t want these specific details to be made publicised to protect its commercial interests which makes pretty solid ground for the secrecy clause in the contract. There is also a talk of the nuclear delivery role of the Rafale jets. If there indeed will be a nuclear delivery mechanism installed in these jets, the secrecy around the components of the jets is obvious.

Then comes the allegation of the govt. favoring Anil Ambani’s company Reliance Defence Limited as Dassault’s partner. The reality is Indian govt.’s deal is with Dassault. Whom Dassault chooses as its partner (as part of the offset clause of the deal) is Dassault’s prerogative. Dassault has also selected DRDO as one of the major partners as part of this clause. Read more about the offset clause here.

Going by all publicly available documents and arguments, there doesn’t seem to be any impropriety in the whole Rafale deal. In fact, PM Modi should be appreciated for his personal intervention to finalise the Rafale deal to strengthen the ageing IAF fleet after the initial decade long negotiations failed under UPA.

 

One Month Since #Demonetization: My Experience


 

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Demonetization or Demonization?

It’s been a month since PM Modi announced demonetization in order to counter issues of black money, counterfeit currencies, and terror financing (Ref: His speech at 8 PM on 8th Nov). More cashless transactions, bringing segments of informal economy into the formal economy, more people under income tax net etc. are some of the collateral gains.

This post is just to share my experience in last one month w.r.t the move. Few disclaimers and disclosures at the outset.

1. I support the move. It’s well intentioned though implementation could have been better. But no one had a template how to implement an idea of this magnitude, so hiccups were expected.

2. I would any day prefer a govt. taking action with few failures on the way to a govt. of inaction.

3. I don’t think the media’s coverage of the issue has been entirely impartial. For two and a half years before the announcement, media kept on asking, “Where are the big bang reforms you promised?” and now the narrative in the media is “Why this reform which affects so many lives? Why not incremental reforms?”. Pro-Modi media has also done a disservice by promoting false stories like NGC chip in the new notes and then brushing aside genuine sufferings of the public. (At this point, it will be unfair to not point out Mint’s brilliant reportage of this issue on both sides.)

Anyway, this post is not about if it’s a good move or not. I personally feel no one can actually answer that question honestly in next 6 months. So, let’s leave it at that. I will only share what my personal experience has been in last one month. (Inspired by ‘s blog post)
Background:
  • Most of my transactions were already cashless: Rent, Cabs- Ola/Uber, Groceries-Hypermarket/Online, movie tickets, internet, electricity, telephone bills etc.
  • Monthly cash transactions mostly included payment to the maid, cook, ironing guy, for availing public transport and miscellaneous expenses.
Post-demonetization:
Exchange and deposit at banks: 0 (I didn’t have any old notes of Rs 500/Rs 1000, lucky me)
No. of times ATMs used after the announcement: 4
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December Payments to:
Maid: Partly paid. She wants cash only and in Rs 100 notes. So, we (flatmates) are paying her in installments as we get change in hundred rupee notes.
Cook: As Pintu (our cook) was willing, I added his bank account on NEFT and paid him online. It was the first time in his life, he was using a bank account to receive payments. In a way, he became (or was forced to be) part of the cashless/digital economy because of demonetization. Personally, it was the highest point for me in this whole demonetization process.
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Upon asked why he wasn’t using his bank account earlier, he told me that he was simply unaware that banks do have such features. After being explained he can actually transact using his phone, he wants to use UPI now for easy transactions so that his money is directly deposited in his bank account. Demonetization has actually turned out to be an opportunity for him opening new avenues. So when we, the educated elite, assume that the people in the lower strata of life can’t use bank accounts or go digital, there’s no bigger fool than us. It is mostly a case of lack of awareness and if someone explains the procedures properly, anyone can easily use features like NEFT, UPI, and USSD.
Mine can be a one-off case in which I didn’t face adversities like standing long in line at the banks or ATMs. And I am also not belittling hardships faced by thousands of people during this month-long exercise. I am not even living in a dream where India becomes 100% cashless. However, I am also not dismissive of the idea and won’t paint a picture of gloom. The reason India has not resorted to rioting yet despite long lines at ATMs despite provocation by segments of media and the politicians is because India wants to trust the Prime Minister and give him time and wait for results before passing on judgments on the move.

Book Review: Half – Lion: How P.V Narasimha Rao Transformed India by Vinay Sitapati


He was not just denied a cremation place in the national capital, Pamulaparti Venkata Narasimha Rao was also denied his rightful place in the history of India. While a vilification campaign with the approval of the top echelons of the Congress Party ensured that Rao’s contributions remain neglected, Vinay Sitapati, a political scientist and journalist, takes help of Rao’s personal papers made available exclusively to him to reconstruct Rao’s public life and restore his position in India’s history. In this excellently written book, Sitapati places Rao in the league of revolutionary world leaders like Deng Xiaoping, Franklin D Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. This book is not only about the 1991 economic reforms of India or only about his time as the Prime Minister of India (as it may seem from the title of the book), this meticulously researched book (the voluminous citations are proof of the diligent research) is also an account of how Narasimha Rao’s early personal, social and political career led to the rule of perhaps India’s most impactful Prime Minister.

Apart from the extensive research, Vinay Sitapati’s lucid writing style using several anecdotes keeps the readers engaged. Sitapati is careful not to paint Rao as a saint in the book but does a critical analysis of his actions. While he credits Rao as the principal architect of the economic liberalization of 1991 and explains how he outwitted his rivals with his tactics (also comparing him to Chanakya and Machiavelli), he also criticizes him for several of his other decisions. His mistakes as the Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh are well documented in the book but his vigor for land reforms have been equally praised. Even though the balance is slightly tilted in favor Rao in the book, the biography also honestly captures his failures as a human and a politician.

Even after 25 years of the reforms, Rao’s contributions to India’s liberalization have been largely ignored with most of the credit given to then Finance Minister Manmohan Singh. But Sitapati has no doubt in his mind that Narasimha Rao was the main driver of the reforms. He writes, “Though Manmohan was critical to Rao’s team, he was not indispensable. Had I.G. Patel become finance minister in 1991, liberalization would have likely persisted. But had Narasimha Rao not become prime minister, India would have been a different country.” Despite his socialist past, Rao was quick to understand the need of opening up Indian economy thanks to the economy he inherited from his predecessors. It is amazing how he achieved so much in spite of leading a minority government. Keeping economist Manmohan Singh on the forefront of reforms was strategic to keep his government insulated from political attacks and thereby alive which could facilitate the reforms. The best example of this strategy can be the abolishing of industrial licensing (by the industry ministry held none other than Rao) on the morning of Manmohan Singh’s historic budget so that next day’s papers would focus on the budget and not the politically contentious but very important reform of delicensing. Promoting the change of liberalization as continuity of Neheruvian economics and Rajiv Gandhi’s dream to keep socialist Congressmen in check is another example of his political acumen.

Vinay Sitapati also makes an effort to explain other major events and Rao’s role in them. He lauds Rao’s efforts in reshaping Indian foreign policy of ‘Look East, Look West’. He also defends Rao’s actions before and on the day of Babri demolition. Contrary to the popular view, as the Prime Minister, PV Narasimha Rao made a number of efforts to save the Babri mosque and not let Ayodhya movement go out of hand, if the book is to be believed. Sitapati also explains the behind the scene events of India’s second nuclear test which was initiated by Narsimha Rao. Sitapati carefully analyses his abilities to deal with state leaders, adapt according to situations and take rapid decisions when required. Also, his misjudgments on Babri, overestimation of his hold over Congress, complicity in JMM bribery case to save own government and raking up Hawala case against opposition leaders in order to score political points are described in detail in the book.

Often it is mentioned that by Narasimha Rao was at the right time and right place to usher the liberalizations thanks to the Balance of Payment crisis India was leading to when Rao was sworn in. However, it is important to point out that not only Rao launched reforms despite having a minority mandate which none of his predecessor could do with bigger mandate and similar conditions, he didn’t stop even after Indian economy survived the crisis and kept up opening different sectors of Indian economy which later PMs continued to pursue. If Indians have enjoyed the benefits of liberalization for a quarter of century now, they have mostly Narasimha Rao to thank for. And Vinay Sitapati has done an admirable job in restoring Rao’s position in Indian economic history through the book based on brilliant research.

You can buy the book here

Assembly Elections 2016: The national picture and message beyond


State assembly elections are often used by political observers to gauge the national mood and understand the ever changing political equations at the national and state level. The assembly elections of 2016 in 4 states Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and 1 union territory Puducherry was keenly observed for their significant impact in setting the national picture before the high voltage assembly elections of 2017 of states like Uttar Pradesh, Punjab kick in. With the results declared on May 19, the 2016 round has gone to the BJP and regional parties while the slump of Congress continues across the country.

The National Picture

BJP: Despite being a national party, earlier BJP’s strength was mostly concentrated in the north, west and central India. BJP had never been a major force in the states which went to polls in 2016 (spread over the east and south India). While it had only 5 seats in Assam assembly, WB assembly had only one legislator from BJP in 2011. It had never won a seat in the southern state of Kerala. On May 19, BJP led alliance not only won two third majority in Assam also expanded its footprints in other states with opening account in Kerala assembly & garnering 15% of total votes in the state.

Formation of its first government of North East in Assam may open the gateway for the party to gain foothold in the north eastern states. The Narendra Modi government has been giving special attention to this region since it came to power which is part of the larger strategy to expand BJP’s base to make it a pan India party. Apart from NE, Kerala with 15% vote share will play a major role in its 2019 Lok Sabha election strategy.

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Social engineering and broad coalitions helped BJP in Assam (AFP)

BJP can also take a leaf out of the splendid campaign it ran in Assam with its local leaders as the face of the campaign with PM Modi in the background. Social engineering at micro level (gaining support from Tea estate workers, Rabha and Tiwa communities) and broader alliances (with AGP and BPF) were two significant elements of the BJP strategy in Assam which it would like to replicate in other states especially in the crucial election of Uttar Pradesh next year.

The results will embolden the Modi govt. at center which seemed derailed after the losses in Delhi and Bihar. With Mamata and Jayalalithaa’s victories in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu respectively, the central government will be relieved as it is easier to garner issue based support from regional parties in order to pass important bills in Rajya Sabha where it lacks the majority. Mamata has already declared her support to GST in her first press conference after the win while Jayalalithaa shares a personal friendship with Modi. No wonder, few days ago, Arun Jaitley sounded confident of passing the GST bill in Rajya Sabha in the coming Monsoon season.

Congress: The leadership has not been able to arrest the decline of Congress which roughly started from 2012. It lost all the 4 states on its own or with its allies. Among many things, the series of defeats prove the unpopularity of the party all over the country. It may be increasingly difficult for it to find new allies for upcoming elections. In fact, most of the space Congress is receding in the states is being captured by the regional parties making Congress insignificant.

After being thrown out of power in Assam and Kerala, Congress rules in 6 states with only 7% of India’s population residing in those states. Karnataka is the only big state in these 6, other states being Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Manipur. At present, the party faces certain defeats in Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh in 2018, while it’s far from competent to retain Uttarakhand in 2017 after the rebellion by 9 of its MLAs. It may win Punjab but even a new player AAP is spoiling its chances in the northern state. On the other hand, BJP led NDA is expanding at rapid pace and in power in 15 states. The grand old party is in need of bitter medicine otherwise the idea of ‘Congress Mukt Bharat’ is not very far from reality.

The message beyond

There was a phase in Indian politics when Indian voters were confused and distrusted the electoral system. This phase was marred with low voter turnout and hung assemblies. The 2016 elections process and the results support the recent trend of more electoral participation with high turnout at polling booths. The voters are also rewarding the parties with absolute majority with hung assemblies being a thing of past.

While the winning party workers are jubilant and losing side is back to the drawing boards, one pressing issue needs immediate attention of political parties. The run up to the 2016 assembly elections were far from ideal with instances of violence and rampant distribution of cash and alcohol. Such practices can again affect the new found trust in the system among the voters. Political parties need to ensure fair election process of which the largest democracy in the world can be proud of.

(This post was first published on YOurnib.com)

General Election Results 2014: Live Blog


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The General Election 2014 is rightly termed as a historic one because this election was largely fought on the issues of development and governance. Seemingly, a large chunk of the population moved out of the influence of caste and communal influence while deciding his vote. While this is a positive sign for the Indian democracy in the long run, whether the ‘good governance’ ploy won the confidence of the people of India will be known in a few hours from now when the votes are counted. Join us for Live updates and insights on General Election Results 2014.

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GENERAL ELECTION RESULTS 2014: LIVE UPDATES

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Alliance Wins/Leads
NDA 335
UPA 61
Others 147
Total Leads/wins 543
19:11: I wrap up this live blogging as I will go out now to celebrate this landmark verdict. Thank you to all those who joined us. Also, congratulations to Narendra Modi and BJP for all the hard work during the campaign. Also congratulations to Today’s Chanakya which got the figures right.
18:10: Narendra Modi addressing people in Vadodara after an emphatic win in Lok Sabha polls
16:45: Rahul Gandhi concedes defeat, wishes the next government well
16:30: Kejriwal accepts defeat, but says it is a good beginning for Aam Aadmi Party. Sonia Gandhi to meet press soon
15:03: Shiv Sena’s Arvind Sawant defeats Milind Deora in Mumbai South
14:52: Salman Khurshid defeated, loses deposit
14:50: Maharashtra Industries minister Narayan Rane resigns
14:48: Rajanikanth tweets and congratulates Jayalalitha and Narendra Modi
14:47: Sonia Gandhi wins from Rae Bareily. Poonam Mahajan wins from Mumbai North Central
14:43: BJD sweeps Odisha in both Lok Sabha and Assembly elections
14:42: Kamalnath wins Chindwara by 1.2 lakh votes, Mallikarjun Kharge trails in Gulbarga
14:29: Mulayam Singh Yadav (Samajwadi Party) leads in Azamgarh and Mainpuri
14:26: Congress’s Captain Amarinder Singh beats BJP’s Arun Jaitley in Amritsar
14:21: Rahul Gandhi consolidating his lead in Amethi. Ahead of Smriti Irani by 90000 votes
13:28: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh calls Narendra Modi and congratulates him on his victory in the Lok Sabha elections.
13:27: BJP’s Murli Manohar Joshi leads in Kanpur against Union Minister Jaiswal
13:23: BJP’s Minakshi Lekhi wins New Delhi seat. Narendra Modi’s victory margin in Vadodara confirmed as 5+ lakh votes
13:11: BJP’s Ananth Kumar defeats Congress’s Nandan Nilekani by winning sixth consecutive time from Bangalore South.
13:10: BJP’s Harsh Vardhan wins by more than 1 lakh votes from Chandni Chowk constituency in Delhi.
13:07: “Thank the people of Tamil Nadu who gave us this great victory. I wish the new govt. and the new PM well. I hope the new govt. will be friendly towards Tamil Nadu” -AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa

13:03: BJP’s Arun Jaitley loses in Amritsar, only setback to BJP on the counting day

13:02: Congress’ Kamalnath wins from Chindwara

12:13: Narendra Modi tweets, “India has won! Achche din aanewale hain”

12:12: Narendra Modi reaches his mother’s home in Gandhinagar. To seek her blessings

12:07: Narendra Modi to be elected as leader of BJP parliamentary team.

12:05: Gen. VK Singh wins Ghaziabad

11:48: Big Congress leaders trailing: Milind Deora, Mukul Wasnik, Priya Dutt, Sanjay Nirupam, Salman Khurshid, Sushil Shinde, Naveen Jindal

11:47: Narendra Modi to visit his mother and seek her blessings. Then will head to Vadodara for victory roadshow

11:44: Narendra Modi wins Varanasi

11:43: Rahul Gandhi leading by 14000 votes only. Rahul had won Amethi by 3 lakh+ margin in 2009

11:40: AAP’s Bhagwant Mann wins Sangrur

11:30: BJP in BIG 6 states: MP 26/29, Rajasthan 25/25, Gujarat 26/26, Bihar 27/40, UP 67/80. Total 211/248

11:26: BJP 25/25 in Rajasthan, 26/29 in Madhya Pradesh

11:16: BJP reaches 272 mark on its own. Congress concedes defeat

10:51: Arun Jaitley trailing by 30000 votes in Amritsar, Narendra Modi leading in Varanasi by 30000 votes

10:44: Salman Khurshid at 5th position in Murshidabad, Mulayam Singh Yadav at no. 3 in Azamgarh. Signs of Modi Tsunami

10:43: Narendra Modi wins Vadodara by more than 4 lakh seats

10:41: BJP 26/26 in Gujarat.

10:19: Varun Gandhi wins in Sultanpur

10:00: BJP touches 272 mark on its own. Congratulation Narendra Modi!

09:44: This is not Modi wave, this is Modi TSUNAMI

09:41: Narendra Modi have a lead of 2 lakh plus now

09:41: NDA reaches simple majority mark of 272. May breach the 300 seats now

09:40: Bihar leading in 30 seats of 40 seats in Bihar

09:35: Ajit SIngh loses to BJP’s Satyapal Singh in Baghpat

09:30: BJP leading in all 7 seats in Delhi

09:28: Mulayam Singh Yadav leading in Mainpuri, Trailing in Azamgarh. Jaya Prada leading in Bijnaur

09:27: Smriti Irani leads from Amethi once again. Narendra Modi has a 1 lakh+ lead in Vadodara, comfortably ahead in Varanasi as well

09:20: SENSEX up by 1000 points

09:15:  NDA is ahead in 148 rural seats

09:10: Leads: Sushma Swaraj in Vidisha, Murli Manohar Joshi in Kanpur, Sanjay Nirupam in North Mumbai, Varun Gandhi in Sultanpur, Rajnath Singh in Lucknow, Shanawaz Hussain in Bhagalpur, Sonia Gandhi in Rae Bareily

09:05: SENSEX up 280 points, NIFTY up by 116 points

09:01: O Rajgopal ahead of Sashi Tharoor now, Rahul Gandhi ahead of Smriti Irani at the moment

09:00: Ghulam Nabi Azad ahead in Uddhampur. Kirron Kher ahead in Chandigarh. LK Advani ahead in Gandhi Nagar

08:55: BJP ahead in Gurgaon, Yogendra Yadav trails. Chirag Paswan ahead in Jamui

08:52: Smriti Irani leads, Rahul Gandhi trails in Amethi

08:45: NDA 137 UPA 41 Others 28
08:41: Celebration starts already in BJP offices across the country

08:40: Meira Kumar trails from Sasaram

08:30: Kejriwal trailing from Varanasi

08:25: Uma Bharti and Anurag Thakur lead from their seats
08:21: NDA 31, UPA 12
08:20: Narendra Modi leads from Vadodara
08:15: VK Singh leads from Ghaziabad, Shashi Tharoor trails from Thiruvanathapuram
08:01: Postal ballots to be counted first
08:00: Counting of votes across all centers begins.

#Elections2014: Narendra Modi’s best TV interviews


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As Modi’s interview with the great Arnab Goswami is now over (dubbed as the biggest interview of this election season), one can safely assume that there’ll be no more TV interviews by Modi before the last phase of the polls. It seems CNN IBN and NDTV have been royally snubbed by Modi as they could manage to get only Amit Shah for interview. Anyways, now that all of the Modi’s TV appearances are over, here are some quick general observations on the TV interviews in which the BJP PM nominee appeared.

1. From that infamous Karan Thappar interview to the Arnab Goswami interview aired today, this is part of the Narendra Modi transformation story. While the Karan Thappar interview was a PR disaster, Modi has intelligently used his resources and has gained reputation in the public perception.
2. Modi has also successfully defeated earlier assertions from ‘Modi doesn’t take questions’ to ‘Modi doesn’t take tough questions’ to ‘Modi doesn’t take questions from popular journalists’.
3. Modi understood a very important fact that regional media has more reach than the national media and in the national media, Hindi media has more influence than the English media. Accordingly, the wise CM of Gujarat first appeared on regional language TV channels like ETV & TV9 then on Hindi language channels like India TV, Zee News, ABP News, Doordarshan and Aaj Tak and in the end on one English news channel Times Now. No points for guessing why Times Now.
4. Modi chose the time of his TV appearances carefully. All his major interviews were just before each phase of elections.
5. The interviews helped a lot as it not only let the people of India know Modi from close quarters, but it also helped Modi to clarify his stands on several major issues. He, sure, deflected many questions (many of them were loaded) but also answered several questions with answers that showed his clarity of thought.
6. Narendra Modi’s disdain for the mainstream media was clear from his interviews. In the process, he also coined a term ‘Newstraders’ which will be lapped up by his followers in the social media.

Here’s the 3 best and worst pre poll TV interviews by Modi based in my view. I would love to know your views on this. Please share in the comments.

Best Interviews
3. ANI with Smita Prakash
Why: First serious interview, clarified his stand on many issues, question covering all possible areas, Modi showed genuine interest to answer, but lack of follow up questions from the interviewer

2. ABP News Ghoshna Patra
Why: aggressive Modi, looked tough as he was answering 3 journalists, questions covered many topics not touched in earlier interviews, There we’re follow up questions as well

1. Times Now with Arnab Goswami
Why: interview with Arnab Goswami after all, some very good primary and follow up questions were asked, Modi’s aggressive but he answered to Arnab with the respect that the TV legend deserves

Now, the worst interviews
3. Doordarshan
Why: censorship attempts by DD, first delayed the telecast and then edited some part out. Also the smallest interview of all

2. India TV with Rajat Sharma
Why: Fanboy interviewer, fanboy audience, fanboy interview. More focus on getting the credit for bringing Modi on the TV than asking tough questions.

1. Aaj Tak
Why: it seemed that Modi was not interested in answering any of the Aaj Tak querries, over aggressive, the ‘Krantikari’ jibe for Aaj Tak channel was too good to miss 😛

PS: As I am writing this quick post on my iPad, I haven’t embedded the YouTube videos of the interview. I will update them with time.