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Vijay Rupani Takes Oath As Gujarat Chief Minister

Eight ministers, including Nitin Patel, took oath as the cabinet ministers while 16 took oath as ministers of state.

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Vijay Rupani is elected as the 16th CM of Gujarat
Vijay Rupani is elected as the 16th CM of Gujarat
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BJP leader Vijay Rupani on Sunday took oath as the 16th Chief Minister of Gujarat along with Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel and 23 other ministers.

Governor O.P. Kohli administered the oath of office and secrecy at the Mahatma Mandir at an event witnessed by BJP President Amit Shah, veteran L.K. Advani and outgoing Chief Minister Anandiben Patel.

Eight ministers, including Nitin Patel, took oath as the cabinet ministers while 16 took oath as ministers of state.

In a surprise move, nine ministers of the outgoing government, including Finance Minister Saurabh Patel and Social Justice Minister Ramanlal Vora, were dropped.

The total strength of new Council of Ministers has reached 25 while there were 24 ministers in the Ananidben government.

A total of eight ministers are from Patidar community, whose massive street protests posed the first major challenge to Anandiben who cited her age for stepping down as Chief Minister.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Rupani and Nitin Patel after they took an oath, saying it marked the start of a new inning: to continue the development journey” of Gujarat.

“Congrats to Vijay Rupani, Nitinbhai Patel, and others sworn in as they begin their innings to continue the development journey of Gujarat,” Modi tweeted.

He applauded Anandiben: “She has been working tirelessly for the people of Gujarat for many years.”

Chief Ministers Manohar Lal Khattar of Haryana and Devendra Fadnavis of Maharashtra also attended the event. IANS

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Fall Of The Currency And Increase In Oil Prices: India ‘s Turmoil

The falling rupee has given a boost to some of India’s most lucrative exports, such as software services and pharmaceuticals, which add up to billions of dollars.

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Rajesh Kumar, left, shares a ride to work with another employee, Dilip Swain, right, as higher petrol prices in India begin to be felt in people's pocketbooks.VOA

The fall of the currency of India to record lows and rising global oil prices have raised worries that the world’s fastest growing economy faces headwinds that could hurt the fortunes of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party in next year’s general elections.

From people filling fuel at gas stations to thousands of students heading out to study overseas, the impact of the slumping rupee is sparking discontent.

Having plunged by about 12 percent against the dollar this year, the rupee is one of Asia’s worst faring currencies, and as in other countries, the slide has accelerated since the crash of the Turkish lira.

“The reasons are global. We must bear in mind that in last few months, dollar has strengthened against almost every currency,” said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley recently as he tried to send out reassuring signals that India’s economy is on track.

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The rupee has plunged by about 12 percent this year raising fears of spiraling inflation. VOA

The rupee’s sharp depreciation comes at a time when the economy had recovered from a slowdown and surged to a two-year high in the quarter that ended in June. Forecasts put growth for this year at 7.5 percent.

Economy will slow

But economists warn this momentum will be difficult to sustain as the tumbling rupee, along with rising crude oil prices, takes a toll on growth. India, the world’s third largest oil importer, gets almost 80 percent of its fuel needs overseas.

“The government needs to mellow down on growth aspirations,” said N.R. Bhanumurthy, economist with the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy. “The growth needs to come down to a little less than 7 percent.”

Even as the government faces the prospect of a slowing economy, it is under pressure to lower taxes on gas and diesel to bring down the sharp rise in prices. Fuel is one of the most heavily taxed items in India, with rates as high as nearly 50 percent. Prices vary from state to state, but they have gone up by about 14 percent this year.

Hoping to cash in on the growing disaffection over the surge in fuel prices and the sliding rupee, opposition parties led nationwide protests that shutdown offices and schools in several cities this week.

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Discontent with spiraling fuel prices poses a challenge to Prime Minister Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of general elections next year. VOA

The government dismissed the protests, saying that although people faced momentary difficulties, they understood they were because of factors beyond its control.

Political analysts are not so sure, pointing out that fuel prices are a politically sensitive issue in India and usually result in a spike in inflation.

“Anger is rising, there is resentment,” said Satish Misra at the Observer Research Foundation, warning the ruling party will face a backlash “Obviously that is going to have a negative impact on the electoral fortunes of the Bharatiya Janata Party, there is no doubt about that.”

Warnings from economists

Among those who are upset with the high fuel prices is Rajesh Kumar, who commutes 30 kilometers to the advertising agency where he works. Hit by the higher prices that eat into his income, he has started sharing the ride with another employee.

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Narendra Modi. Wikimedia Commons

“I have given up the idea of buying another car,” he said despondently. “I will not be able to afford the cost of running it.”

Economists however have warned the government against giving in to populist pressures ahead of a series of state polls later this year and general elections around April next year. They say lowering taxes on fuel or taking measures to prop up the currency will strain the country’s finances and hurt the economy in the long run.

Also Read: Diverse Gathering To Be Addressed This World BioFuel Day: PM Narendra Modi

“One needs to be more careful and vigilant,” Bhanumurthy said. “It is easy for India to stay with low growth than experiencing the high deficit.”

But there is also some good news for the Indian economy. The falling rupee has given a boost to some of India’s most lucrative exports, such as software services and pharmaceuticals, which add up to billions of dollars. (VOA)