The Reserve Bank of India’s decision on Monday to transfer Rs 1.76 lakh crore to the government, in an effort to bolster the flagging economy, became the fodder for several political cartoons on Wednesday.
In its meeting on Monday, the RBI’s central board decided to transfer Rs 1,23,414 crore of dividend or surplus for the year 2018-’19 and Rs 52,637 crore of excess provisions identified by a revised economic capital framework. The RBI’s decision to transfer Rs 1.76 lakh crore to the government came after the central bank accepted the recommendation of a panel led by Bimal Jalan, a former governor of the bank. This is the highest amount the Reserve Bank of India has ever transferred to the Union government. Last year, the dividend transferred was Rs 500 billion. The dividend this year is nearly 2.5 times larger.
The decision caused outrage among many Opposition parties. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday claimed that the RBI’s decision showed that Narendra Modi and Sitharaman were clueless about fixing the economy. “PM and FM are clueless about how to solve their self created economic disaster,” Gandhi said. “Stealing from RBI won’t work – it’s like stealing a Band-Aid from the dispensary and sticking it on a gunshot wound.”
But Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday said the government was yet to decide how to utilise the money and dismissed the criticisms. She added that any questions about the credibility of the central bank were “a bit outlandish”.
Cartoonist Unny made fun of the fact that the RBI is considered the lender of the last resort, with the words: “The buck (give or take a trillion or two) stops here”.
The Times of India’s Sandeep Adhwaryu showed a tiger that had turned into a cow that was being milked.
The Union government is facing a cash crunch as a result of an underperforming Goods and Services Tax. Central government tax collection as a proportion of Gross Domestic Product in 2018-’19 was a full percentage point lower than the Budget estimates. This shortfall amounted to Rs 1.7 trillion and was the largest gap between tax estimates and actuals in India’s tax history.
To add to this, India is also on the verge of a serious economic slowdown. This means that tax revenue is unlikely to pick up in the near future but also that the country is looking to the Union government to provide the economy a stimulus. However, given its own cash crunch, the government had little room to manoeuvre – which is why it has had to look to the Reserve Bank of India for help.
Cartoonist Manjul represented the economy as a biscuit that breaks off as soon as it is dipped into a cup full of tea. The cup says “chaiwallah” in a reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In another cartoon by an unidentified artist, the image of a tiger is replaced by the skeleton of an extinct dinosaur, a possible reference to Sitharaman’s statement on “outlandish” suggestions against the Reserve Bank.
A BBC Hindi cartoon showed a broken down car, representing the economy, being filled with petrol, which represents the cash reserves with the RBI. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is shown demanding that the tank be filled to the full.
Cartoonist Satish Acharya depicted the RBI’s tiger tied to a tree, while Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah gleefully make off with bags of cash.
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