India

Indian media back cuts in interest rate

The RBI's decision to cut interests rate has surprised experts Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The RBI's decision to cut its interests rate has surprised experts

Indian papers welcome the central bank's "surprising" decision to cut its interest rate to 7.75%.

The benchmark interest rate, or the level at which The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) lends to commercial banks, had been kept at 8% since last January.

The RBI cited a "sharper-than-expected decline" in the price of fruits and vegetables since September last year as one reason for the policy shift.

The RBI had been under pressure from the government and businesses to reduce its interest rate to give the struggling economy a boost.

Papers say the government needs to follow suit and use the rate cut to boost growth and create jobs.

"But now that the RBI has set the ball rolling on interest rates, it is for the government to play its part, ensuring that nascent sentiment at the firm and consumer levels translates into concrete investments, jobs and spending," says The Indian Express in an editorial.

The Times of India says the government must support the RBI's policies.

"If government does not bring about a situation where incidence of hindrances to supply of goods and services comes down, RBI is unlikely to lower interest rates much further and investments will not materialise. Move ahead, finance minister," it says.

The Asian Age sees the cut as "a kick-start to monetary easing".

"The more important aspect of the rate cut is the recognition by Dr Raghuram Rajan [RBI chief] that PM Narendra Modi's government is serious about bringing in fiscal order and tackling the supply-side issues that have been plaguing the economy and fuelling inflation," it says

Bedi joins BJP

In some political news, social activist and former police officer Kiran Bedi has joined the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of the state elections in Delhi, reports say.

"I joined BJP due to the inspirational leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. I wanted to sacrifice my entire life to social work. But he inspired me to join political life," the Hindustan Times quotes Ms Bedi as saying.

The Times of India speculates that the former cop may be pitted against Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal for the post of Delhi's chief minister.

The paper says there is "strong indication" the BJP "could project the country's first woman IPS officer as its chief minister candidate".

Ironically, Ms Bedi had campaigned alongside Mr Kejriwal in 2011 during anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare's movement for an Ombudsman Bill. Ms Bedi and Mr Kejriwal later had a public fallout.

Chocolate and thieves

And finally, some thieves' love for chocolates helped the police in Delhi in arresting them, The Times of India reports.

The two suspects were caught by a CCTV camera eating chocolates at a confectionary store in Rohini area of the capital, the paper says.

The report says the thieves loved chocolates and would break into sweet shops after every robbery.

"A trap was laid to nab the men after a detailed study of their modus operandi," a police official said.

Chocolates worth rupees 100,000 (£1000; $1600) were recovered from the two suspects, the paper says.

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