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Issue 18

Budget 2022’s Big Infra Push May Flag in Face of Global Inflation 

This piece was first published by The India Cable and The Wire and has been republished here.

The Union Budget for 2022-23 can be seen as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s last-ditch attempt at reviving private sector investment, which has stagnated for eight years. It must be worrying Modi that he is close to finishing a decade as prime minister, and his legacy could be remembered for poor growth in incomes, private investment, employment, savings and capital formation ― the most unenviable record for any prime minister since reforms began in 1991.

With higher revenue mobilisation and the government asset monetisation programme, the Budget aims to give a big push to public investment in infrastructure under the National Infrastructure Pipeline programme, which has identified specific projects in which Rs 20 lakh crore is to be invested annually for five years. This is the cornerstone of what finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman described as “crowding in private investment” through massive capital investment by the government. This is the core initiative to revive growth and employment. But will it succeed?

The budget allocates a 35% increase in funding for infrastructure, with Rs 7.5 lakh crore for 2022-23. It hopes that state governments will contribute their share of infrastructure funding under the PM Gati Shakti project, which aims to monetise government assets to fund new infrastructure projects earmarked in the National Infrastructure Pipeline. But to what extent will the “crowding in of private investments” be triggered by the government’s big public investment push?

The key risk flows from rising global inflation, which is at 30 year highs, and moves by central banks in the developed world to rein in liquidity and raise interest rates rapidly in 2023. The US Federal Reserve intends to raise interest rates three or four times to combat inflation, which can be the biggest dampener for growth and employment. India cannot be insulated from this broader trend and assumptions of GDP growth and employment generation based on massive infrastructure investment cannot but be impacted by global liquidity conditions and inflation.

M.K. Venu is a Founding Editor of The Wire. As an active economic and political writer, he has held leadership roles in newspapers such as The Economic Times, The Financial Express and The Hindu. He has written extensively on economic policy matters.

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Issue 18

Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) by Jim Sharman

The enduring, timeless quality of cult classics is that they don’t make much sense to those outside the fan following. That’s a part of their charm and Rocky Horror Picture Show embodies this queer fact. Full of catchy musical numbers, elaborate costumes and a stellar ensemble cast – this virtually plotless film has had fans coming back to it every week for the past 46 years. Thus, making it the longest-running theatrical release in film history. 

The film chronicles the story of newlyweds Brad and Janet who find themselves stranded at a certain Dr Frank N Furter’s castle. Though, a dark secret lies ahead. The movie’s dark humour constantly references the old-school low budget horror films of the 1920s and has an embedded hedonistic motto for its audience – give yourself over to absolute pleasure. 

Image Credits : Twitter

Rutuparna Deshpande is a second-year student of Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Ashoka University. 

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Issue 18

Only Murders In The Building : A Must Watch For Every Hardy Boys Fan Out There

Only Murders in the Building, created by Steve Martin & John Hoffman, is for the Hardy Boys, Agatha Christie and true-crime enthusiasts among us. When a murder takes place in the building of the Arconia in New York, three neighbours find each other through their love for true-crime podcasts and vow to find the killer. Relying on their vast knowledge of true crime (derived from their hours of listening to podcasts), the three embark on a journey that is shrouded in intrigue, clues, red herrings and plot twists. Along with the classic case of ‘Whodunit?’, the series has perfectly placed and intimately nuanced comedic dialogue and witty quips — strengthened by the chemistry of the three main characters. 

The three neighbours, Charles Haden-Savage (Steve Martin), Oliver Putnam (Martin Short) and Mabel Mora (Selena Gomez), differ not only in terms of their personality but also age. Charles and Oliver are in their 70s, whereas Mabel is in her 20s. Though the generational gap jokes are plenty (Charles debates on whether to sign off on a text with Warm Regards — a wonderfully polite way of greeting that maybe we could all benefit from), what makes this show unique is its approach to age and the way they embrace it. The three find solace in each other, and realise that their past – regardless of how many years lived – bring them closer together. They are lonely and are all dealing with instances in their life that they have not confronted. The show also breaks the bounds of temporality. Our three crime fanatics are digging around the victim’s past so that they can solve the mystery, however, they are also trying to move forward in their own lives — and break their own monotony. Where there is death, perhaps there is also the birth of a new life for one who is frozen in time. 

The three characters evolve and change over the ten episodes, and each scene gives you an insight into their lives while making you desperately crave for more. The show may first seem like a parody of the age of bingeing, true crime stories, and podcasts – and it occasionally is- but it also serves as a celebration of fan culture and obsessive consumption of entertainment — and mysteries. 

As Oliver asks Mabel,Those are our proverbial onions, raw and peeled. And yours? Care to peel for us?” — Only Murders in the Building peels each layer of the mystery and the subtleties of human emotion and delivers it in a perfect blend of excitement and humour. 

Image credits: The Print

Shree Bhattacharyya is a student of English literature and Media Studies at Ashoka University.

Categories
Issue 18

Escape Simulator: A Thrilling Experience and Challenging Game, Designed to Escape the Virtual Vacuum

Escape simulator is a first-person view virtual escape room game, perfect for any puzzle lover. Created by developer Pine Studio, it offers three thematic adventures: The Labyrinth of Egypt, Adrift in Space, and Edgewood Manor, each with 5 levels of increasing difficulty. Based on real-life escape rooms, AV Club hailed it as a “near-perfect substitute for the real thing”.The game brings you all the simple joys and thrills of escaping a fake locked room by finding clues, unlocking doors and solving riddles that the pandemic took away right from the comfort of your home. 

Once in a room, you have fifteen minutes to escape the highly interactive and immersive room by moving things around, picking them up and even breaking them. You can continue solving puzzles even after the timer ends, making beating the clock even more of an achievement. The game is full of eureka moments that truly bring you the satisfaction of solving a good riddle and well-designed puzzles. 

The game also has an online co-op mode so you can replicate the feeling of yelling at your friends when a clue gets too frustrating. Lastly, for those who conquer the game, there is an additional editor mode that allows you to create your own rooms as well as play hundreds of community designed rooms so that the adventure never ends. 

Reya Daya is a third-year student, studying psychology and media studies at Ashoka University. Her other interests include writing, photography and music.

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