India's budget cuts aid to rural poor

Today's headlines: Myanmar extends state of emergency; Bangladesh gets a loan from the International Monetary Fund; Japanese Premier Fumio Kishida fears same-sex marriages could disrupt society; Special operation against Iranian spies in Azerbaijan; New raids on Gaza in response to rockets from the Strip.



While Gautam Adani canceled the sale of shares in his companies after losing more than billion on the stock market (which experts say he will never recover), the Indian government unveiled its budget bill for 2023-24. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced increased infrastructure spending, tax cuts for the middle class, and relaxed laws to small businesses to spur growth. However, the opposition has criticized the lack of subsidies for the most vulnerable: spending on job creation in rural areas has been cut by 30 percent.


The coup junta yesterday extended the state of emergency, a move that Tom Andrews, U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, says reflects the military's difficulties in controlling territory. General Min Aung Hlaing had announced elections later this year, but these cannot be held under a state of emergency.


Unlike other South Asian states (Pakistan and Sri Lanka), Bangladesh managed to obtain a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) of .7 billion. According to experts, however, this is a short-term solution, while several reforms are needed for stable growth. So far the government has raised fuel, water and electricity prices to the IMF revised GDP growth downward from 6 percent to 5.5 percent.


Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said "extreme caution" is needed in allowing same-sex marriage, putting the brakes on parliament's calls to bring Japan's legal status in line with other G7 countries before the summit it will host in May. "Changing the system will deeply involve all Japanese people," including "their view of family, their values and the upheaval of society," Kishida said.


The Israeli military yesterday launched air raids on the Gaza Strip, claiming to have hit rocket and weapons production sites used by Hamas. Concerns are growing about an escalation of violence. Yesterday's attacks follow those launched against Jenin in the West Bank last week, which were followed by Palestinian retaliation against Israelis.


A Krasnodar court had a local resident, Aleksej OvĨinnikov, arrested and sentenced to 15 days' imprisonment for a conversation in tones opposed to the war in Ukraine held at a restaurant with his wife, who was also fined, after being denounced by the owner at the instigation of the other diners, with police officers raiding the room.


A special operation against Iran's espionage network in Azerbaijan was conducted in Baku, including at SalamNews and Interaz news agencies. A total of 7 people were arrested in the capital and other regions, all Azerbaijani citizens who were "acting to support Armenia's positions against Azerbaijan."