India

Indian media: Concerns over declining rupee

Image caption The value of the Indian rupee has seen sharp depreciations in the past few weeks

Media in India are expressing concerns over the continuous depreciation in the value of the rupee against the dollar.

The rupee fell to a record low of 62.49 against the dollar in early trade on Monday, worrying many media commentators about the "poor state" of the Indian economy and the rising prices of essential goods.

"The rush of capital out of India, which has triggered the fall, has raised the prospects of inflation, growth falling below 5% and higher interest rates," says The Times of India.

"Retail customers of home, auto and consumer loans should brace themselves for a rough ride ahead as signals emerging from the bond market point towards an increase in interest rates," the paper says in another report.

The Indian Express feels "the effect of the sustained fall has begun to impact banks… which means people planning on festival loans will have to do a rethink".

The Tribune too deplores the rupee's "nightmarish run" and adds that "despite several steps and assurances by the government and the RBI (Reserve Bank of India), there is no respite".

R Sivakumar of Axis [Bank] Mutual Fund told the Indian Express that the initial fall in the rupee was in line with other Asian and emerging markets, but it is falling now in response to the monetary and administrative decisions taken in the past month.

"We believe the rupee will remain weak as long as growth prospects remain weak. Higher interest rates and tight liquidity conditions imposed by the RBI have put growth at risk and there is the possibility of further weakness while these measures are in place," the paper quoted him as saying.

Meanwhile, The Times of India reports that the railways suffered a loss of 900m rupees (over £9m; $14m) after a mob set 15 coaches of a train on fire in the eastern state of Bihar.

The people were angry after a high-speed train killed 28 pilgrims who were crossing the tracks at a remote train station in the state.

Moving on to foreign affairs, Delhi has asked Colombo to free Indian fishermen held by Sri Lanka for allegedly fishing in its territorial waters.

The Tribune reports that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told visiting Sri Lankan Foreign Minister GL Peiris to consider "an early repatriation" of Indian fishermen and to treat it as a "humanitarian issue".

Mining project

In other news, tribal villagers in the eastern state of Orissa have rejected proposals by the state government and London-based firm Vedanta to start a bauxite mining project in the ecologically-sensitive Niyamgiri hills, the Deccan Herald reports.

"As expected, locals belonging to the primitive tribe Dongria Kondh objected to the mining project on ground that they not only depend on the important hills for their livelihood but had also been worshipping them for generations," the report says.

In April, the Supreme Court had ordered that the fate of the mining project be decided by the locals.

Elsewhere, the Supreme Court has given the government six weeks to respond to a recommendation by the Election Commission to "ban those facing trial for heinous offences from contesting elections", The Times of India reports.

And finally in sports news, cricket captain MS Dhoni has praised stand-in skipper Virat Kohli for leading the team to victory in the recently-concluded tri-nation series in Zimbabwe.

"He (Kohli) has all the right recipes (to lead India)," the Asian Age quoted Dhoni as saying.

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