Since October last year, Scroll has been (intermittently) reporting on how India’s insolvency proceedings are coming along. Cumulatively, these reports flag a couple of peculiar patterns.
A lot of companies are up for sale — In a country with 7500 companies with a topline over Rs 250 crore, 2511 companies are slated for insolvency proceedings. There are very few buyers. Ergo, companies are changing hands at very low rates, creating in effect a giant fire-sale of Indian companies. This asymmetry between buyers and sellers is interesting. Even as most debt-saddled companies find themselves in insolvency courts, others (a very small set) continue on an acquisition spree.
An example here is Adani Enterprises. One of the most debt-saddled companies in the country, it continues to acquire companies and announce new projects with gusto. One answer why lies in today’s report.
Do please take a look.
On February 13, the Supreme Court ordered the eviction of more than 10 lakh families of Adivasis and other forest-dwellers from forestlands across 16 states. The order came while the court was hearing petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the Forest Rights Act, 2006. The petitioners had demanded that state governments evict those forest dwellers whose claims over traditional forestlands under the landmark law had been rejected.…
…In the days since the ruling, tribal activists have denounced the order while some conservationists and bureaucrats in the forest service have welcomed it. A key part of their defence? According to the judgement, a total of 18.8 lakh titles have been granted under the Forest Rights Act, while 19 lakh claims have been rejected. In a statement released on Thursday, Wildlife First said all 19 lakh rejected claims were bogus. It said: “The Supreme Court is focusing only on recovery of forest land from bogus claimants whose claims stand rejected.”
The answer to these contrasting perspectives lies in how the forest rights act is being implemented — how are claims submitted and how are they processed? This report, a followup to what I filed shortly after the judgement was posted online, takes a closer look at those processes. The answer, in short, is that all rejected claims do not indicate bogus claimants. Do read.
On February 13, the Supreme Court ordered state governments to evict over 10 lakh forest-dwellers whose claims over forestland have been rejected, a direction that will hurt some of India’s most vulnerable people.
The order came in a case on the constitutional validity of the Forest Rights Act, which was passed in 2006 aiming to “recognise and vest the forest rights and occupation in forest land in forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers who have been residing in such forests for generations but whose rights could not be recorded”.
The harsh direction was possible, allege Adivasi activists and lawyers, because the lawyers of the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs mounted a weak defence of the Act. The case has dragged on for over 10 years under multiple benches, with the Supreme Court yet to answer questions on constitutional validity of the law.
There is an incredible suboptimality here. Some of the claims by the petitioners are indeed valid. As are the concerns of the tribal activists. And so, right now, I am just sitting around holding my head thinking about the hideous complexity of it all and, equally, the casual ease with which both the tribal ministry and the Supreme Court are approaching this question.
On January 28, Congress president Rahul Gandhi announced the party is “committed to a Minimum Income Guarantee for every poor person”.
His brief announcement raised more questions than answers. The financial scale of a scheme that gives a monthly income to the poor in India will be huge. Therefore, how will it be funded? If the programme is funded by, as the Economic Survey had suggested, axing existing welfare programmes, the State’s developmental role will suffer. There is also the risk of competitive populism as other political parties and states follow suit, with a progressive hollowing of the State if they redirect funds to their income support programmes.
Trying to understand what the Congress is planning, Scroll.in contacted former Finance Minister P Chidambaram, who is said to be leading the party’s thinking on income support schemes.
And so, as a followup to my Abhijit Sen interview, my colleague Rohan and I have this email interview with P Chidambaram.