The portrayal of gender-based violence: Reel violence takes a toll on the real - Business Guardian
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The portrayal of gender-based violence: Reel violence takes a toll on the real

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Violence and gender disparities have always been deeply ingrained in Indian society. India’s progress towards gender equality, measured by its rank on the Gender Development Index have always been deplorable, despite fairly rapid rates of economic growth. In the year 2020, when the entire world faced the wrath of COVID-19 which completely shook the human civilization. The pandemic not only disrupted the lives and economy of the nation but also acted as a catalyst by increasing the rate of violence in India. This sudden explosion of violence has become so prominent and alarming that it has even earned an epithet, “the shadow pandemic”.

The annual report of National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)revealed the crime stats which showed how daunting the situation is as “The report, released claims that a case of rape is registered with the state police every two hours while crime against a child is reported every 90 minutes in Uttar Pradesh”. Not only Uttar Pradesh but other states are also fighting the similar battles as the crime rates surges 14% in India.

The constitution affirms that equality before the law and the equal protection of laws shall be offered too all. Similarly, there shall be no distinction towards any citizen on the account of sex and if required the state can make special legal provision for women and children. There are articles in our constitution which provide right to an adequate means of livelihood and equal pay for both men and women still Gender based violence prevails which casts doubt that even with such a strong system of rules and regulations what is still causing gender-based violence to strengthen its roots in India.

Gender Based Violence can be defined as violence directed against someone on the basis of their sex. This violence ismost commonly enacted by men against women and other helpless victims however men also can be the victims of gender-based violence. There are many forms of Gender based violence but among which Intimate Partner Violence is the most common type of violence against women in all societies.

IS MEDIA POWERING GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE?

Since the late 18th century Indian media has been active in India. Since then, there have been many laws and amendments made to regulate the performance of media as itcauses an enormous impact on the audience. Media has become a tool for altering public perceptions. The biopic ofhonorable prime minister Narendra Modi did not get released ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha election as there were many speculations relating to the film and how it can interrupt the voting process. If movies have the potential to exert such influence on people, its opinion on topics like female empowerment and female representation is likely to have an effect on people too.

The number of digital TV households in India has grown from124.71 million in 2016 to 191.65 million in 2021 with 624.0 million internet users in India in January 2021. These stats clearly show how televisions and Technological Convergenceare widely accessible by the masses along with that media isoften recognized as the “fourth pillar”, together with the legislative, executive and judicial pillar of government all these aspects clearly state that having some restrictions on the content displayed becomes obligatory. It has been long debated that women characters in movies are supplementary to their male counterparts and their lives are showed to orbit around men. While women-centric movies and strong female leads with a mind of their own have made it to the screen but cinemas like these are seldomly seen compared to the male centric ones. One of the test introduced by an American Cartoonist Alison Bechdel known as the Bechdel-Wallace test which acts as a litmus test for women representation in movies and has shown many negative results when tested here. The movies that were considered to be blockbusters of their respective years failed terribly in this test which shows how the film industry showcases minimal female representation in their movies and is also widely accepted by the audience as these movies make a huge cut compared to others.

“Pyar se de rahe hai, rakh lo, varna thappad maarke bhi de sakte hai.” – Dabangg, 2010. The dialogue of the decade which can be heard almost everywhere in any award show with the audience reacting to it with titters is something more bewildering. From the 20th Century to 21st, the sexism in Cinema writing has always been present

This how spine-chilling the situation is as not only this but many more movies include these types of dialogues and confab and some of them are the great hits from their time with a high number of gross revenue collection which clearly depicts lakhs of people spending their money and time to watch these movies with absurd dialogues. It’s a high-end time that representation of such words should be curtailed. It is inexcusable how these obnoxious and appalling scenes and dialogues manage to make it past the censor board. Indian cinema, since its beginning has normalised abuse, objectification of women through derogatory songs and fat shaming and continues to do so.

In a country where crimes and violence against women are at an all-time high, our films and television shows continue to preach that stalking or ill-treating a woman is okay and that consent is a myth. Still there are some rural areas in India where the practice of branding women as a witch still exists.On the other hand, people, particularly women, are accused of witchcraft and condemned, occasionally killed therefore movies and television shows who lay an overemphasis on the details of depicting women as witches only adds fuel to this issue as superstitions are usually attributed to lack of education. Furthermore, sexual violence is often treated with a pinch of humour and entertainment this how spine-chilling the situation is as the dialogues aforementioned are taken from some of the great hits from their time with a high number of gross revenue collection which clearly depicts lakhs of people spending their money and time to watch these movies with absurd dialogues. It’s a high-end time that representation of such words should be curtailed.

Imagine how perplexing it is for survivors to see traumatic experiences similar to their own as a punchline for a joke. Shows like ‘Crime Patrol’ & ‘Savdhaan India’ Make a Mockery of Sexual Violence. Shows like these have made anopulence out of turning these violence into entertainmentunder the garb of ‘awareness’ or ‘gender sensitisation’

The Indian filmmaking culture somehow still appears muddled towards establishing a universal view about projecting homosexual characters numerous of articles online discuss how times have changed and list down films that have a supposed good representation of individuals belonging to the LGBT community. But upon analysis them, one realisesthat not only have they got zero understanding of the depiction but the films are all having LGBT characters portrayed in negative, villain like roles. Anjali Gopalan, founder of the Naz Foundation and a petitioner against article 377 pointed towards a film. In an interview where she expresses how we do not see even the smallest bit of fair movies about homosexuals, based on a lesbian relationship reason being the ultimate frustration within the dominant-gender system after finding out that suddenly women do not need men. Even though article 377 is decriminalize India still has a long way to go and, filmmakers hold utmostresponsibility in being empathetic and rational while attempting to make films on the said theme a responsibledepiction is needed as portrayal of the gender-based violence in the various media causes violence in society.

FEMINEITY IDEALIZED AS DOMESTICITY

Movies and television series illustrates life from others point of view there is no self-reflection to it, usually people try to incorporate these reflections in their lives and try to perceive the society in that similar way. In the book of Betty Friedman “feminine mystique” where she argues how femineity has been associated with the concepts of maternity and housekeeping, content like these still circulate through media. Films and advertisements are publicized stereotyping women there are always shown playing two roles, upright or wicked.These polar opposites are often juxtaposed against each other to create sensationalizing effects to attract audiences. There are many movies whose story lines are believed to be female centric but they depict women not as a pivotal character of the story but a character adding to the male dominance of the society this clearly shows how the concept of feminisms is blurred. There is a dearth in media representing the real conditions of women and the inequality thriving in today’s patriarchal society. Women are shown to dress a certain way, look a certain way and behave in utmost womanlike way. Irrelevant beauty standards are offered through various advertisement These ideas create a certain image in the societies mind that led to strict gender roles. Social evils like Child marriage, Dowry system and domestic violence still triumphs in India therefore shows whose story line depicts around these social practices should be debarred as stated by the supreme court in the K. A. Abbas V. The Union of India & Anr “its effect particularly on children and adolescents is very great since their immaturity makes them more willingly suspend their disbelief than mature men and women. They also remember the action in the picture and try to emulate or/ imitate what they have seen.” The Constitution of India grants the freedom of speech through article 19(1)(a) to Press and Media as their natural right, it subjects to restriction and limitations as imposed by 19(2) which should be followed as unrestricted depictions of such storylines and violence will only create more problem in these existing social evils.

DETRIMENTAL MASCULINITY

Boys live under intensified pressure to display gender-appropriate behaviors according to the ideal male code set up in the society here also media plays a huge role as they depict men as tough and serious some advertisements and movies which shows that if a man uses certain products or dress in particular way or expresses gloomy emotions will make him less of a man as compared to others. Indian cinemas have represented men as the epitome of success, shown as having all desirable qualities-economically well off and socially successful all these romanticized depictions create an inflexible image of male hood. Domestic violence against men in India is not recognized by the law. The general perception of the society is that men cannot be on the receiving end of violence.

“In India A Woman Is Always Innocent Until Proven Guilty and A Man is Always Guilty Until Proven Innocent” This sentence was clearly depicted in the movie Section 375 which throws light on how men too faces false accusations the movie was appreciated for its theme and plot but at the same time raised several question upon the judicial system in providing justice As this movie depicts the scoffing of the law system that how the judgement to the case was hastily made by the court in the presence of public rage and media trials. Movies like these sets a bad example in the society of how the rights of men can’t be protected and even if he is innocent, he shall face the music.

Media being insensitive towards the victims has always been an issue media has always covered most of the cases of violence with and utmost disgrace and brutalize manner the names are often reveal of the survivor which is not only unethical but also illegal under Section 228A. The media seem to forget there could be people in their audience who might have experienced such exploitation and the imagery could lead to them relieving the trauma.

CONCLUSION AND SUGGESTIONS

Movies and serials are a reflection of society and affect the masses a lot. Ordinary people, continue to get influenced by movies and television, in return, they get influenced by us. It’s a closed-loop inside in which we have been stuck. Which makes it more important for the scriptwriter to provide the audience with such content that in any way don’t showcase any harm or pinpoints any gender, caste, race as this type of content may constraint individual and society as whole. Media has dual role to reinforce unequal as well as circulate new ideas.

Broadcasters may consider displaying a prominent videomessage before the beginning of any movie or television series that in include the same as “gender-based violence is punishable by law” and should explain the laws and punishes pertaining to it. While reporting GBV, media must avoid mentioning identifying details of the victim as these details in the report may contribute to victim shaming besides providing clues to wrongdoers.

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Policy&Politics

Govt extends date for submission of R&D proposals

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The Government has extended the deadline for submission of proposals related to R&D scheme under the National Green Hydrogen Mission. The R&D scheme seeks to make the production, storage, transportation and utilisation of green hydrogen more affordable. It also aims to improve the efficiency, safety and reliability of the relevant processes and technologies involved in the green hydrogen value chain. Subsequent to the issue of the guidelines, the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy issued a call for proposals on 16 March, 2024.

While the Call for Proposals is receiving encouraging response, some stakeholders have requested more time for submission of R&D proposals. In view of such requests and to allow sufficient time to the institutions for submitting good-quality proposals, the Ministry has extended the deadline for submission of proposals to 27th April, 2024.

The scheme also aims to foster partnerships among industry, academia and government in order to establish an innovation ecosystem for green hydrogen technologies. The scheme will also help the scaling up and commercialisation of green hydrogen technologies by providing the necessary policy and regulatory support.

The R&D scheme will be implemented with a total budgetary outlay of Rs 400 crore till the financial year 2025-26. The support under the R&D programme includes all components of the green hydrogen value chain, namely, production, storage, compression, transportation, and utilisation.

The R&D projects supported under the mission will be goal-oriented, time bound, and suitable to be scaled up. In addition to industrial and institutional research, innovative MSMEs and start-ups working on indigenous technology development will also be encouraged under the Scheme.

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Policy&Politics

India, Brazil, South Africa to press for labour & social issues, sustainability

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The Indian delegation also comprises Rupesh Kumar Thakur, Joint Secretary, and Rakesh Gaur, Deputy Director from the Ministry of Labour & Employment.

India, on Thursday, joined the G20’s two-day 2nd Employment Working Group (EWG) meeting under the Brazilian Presidency which is all set to address labour, employment and social issues for strong, sustainable, balanced and job-rich growth for all. India is co-chairing the 2nd EWG meeting, along with Brazil and South Africa, and is represented by Sumita Dawra, Secretary, Labour & Employment.

The Indian delegation also comprises Rupesh Kumar Thakur, Joint Secretary, and Rakesh Gaur, Deputy Director from the Ministry of Labour & Employment. India has pointed out that the priority areas of the 2nd EWG at Brasilia align with the priority areas and outcomes of previous G20 presidencies including Indian presidency, and commended the continuity in the multi-year agenda to create lasting positive change in the world of work. This not only sustains but also elevates the work initiated by the EWG during the Indian Presidency.

The focus areas for the 2nd EWG meeting are — creating quality employment and promoting decent labour, addressing a just transition amidst digital and energy transformations, leveraging technologies to enhance the quality of life for al and the emphasis on gender equity and promoting diversity in the world of employment for inclusivity, driving innovation and growth. On the first day of the meeting, deliberations were held on the over-arching theme of promotion of gender equality and promoting diversity in the workplace.

The Indian delegation emphasized the need for creating inclusive environments by ensuring equal representation and empowerment for all, irrespective of race, gender, ethnicity, or socio-economic background. To increase female labour force participation, India has enacted occupational safety health and working conditions code, 2020 which entitles women to be employed in all establishments for all types of work with their consent at night time. This provision has already been implemented in underground mines.

In 2017, the Government amended the Maternity Benefit Act of 1961, which increased the ‘maternity leave with pay protection’ from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for all women working in establishments employing 10 or more workers. This is expected to reduce the motherhood pay gap among the working mothers. To aid migrant workers, India’s innovative policy ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ allows migrants to access their entitled food grains from anywhere in the Public Distribution System network in the country.

A landmark step in fostering inclusion in the workforce is the e-Shram portal, launched to create a national database of unorganized workers, especially migrant and construction workers. This initiative, providing the e-Shram card, enables access to benefits under various social security schemes.

The portal allows an unorganized worker to register himself or herself on the portal on self-declaration basis, under 400 occupations in 30 broad occupation sectors. More than 290 million unorganized workers have been registered on this portal so far.

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Policy&Politics

India to spend USD 3.7 billion to fence Myanmar border

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India plans to spend nearly $3.7 billion to fence its 1,610-km (1,000-mile) porous border with Myanmar within about a decade, said a source with direct knowledge of the matter, to prevent smuggling and other illegal activities. New Delhi said earlier this year it would fence the border and end a decades-old visa-free movement policy with coup-hit Myanmar for border citizens for reasons of national security and to maintain the demographic structure of its northeastern region.

A government committee earlier this month approved the cost for the fencing, which needs to be approved by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet, said the source who declined to be named as they were not authorised to talk to the media. The prime minister’s office and the ministries of home, finance, foreign affairs and information and broadcasting did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Myanmar has so far not commented on India’s fencing plans. Since a military coup in Myanmar in 2021, thousands of civilians and hundreds of troops have fled from there to Indian states where people on both sides share ethnic and familial ties. This has worried New Delhi because of risk of communal tensions spreading to India. Some members of the Indian government have also blamed the porous border for abetting the tense situation in the restive north-eastern Indian state of Manipur, abutting Myanmar.

For nearly a year, Manipur has been engulfed by a civil war-like situation between two ethnic groups, one of which shares lineage with Myanmar’s Chin tribe. The committee of senior Indian officials also agreed to build parallel roads along the fence and 1,700 km (1,050 miles) of feeder roads connecting military bases to the border, the source said.

The fence and the adjoining road will cost nearly 125 million rupees per km, more than double that of the 55 million per km cost for the border fence with Bangladesh built in 2020, the source said, because of the difficult hilly terrain and the use of technology to prevent intrusion and corrosion.

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Policy&Politics

ONLY 2-3% RECOVERED FROM $2-3 TN ANNUAL ILLEGAL TRADE THROUGH BANKING: INTERPOL

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However, Stock highlighted the enormity of the challenge, noting that between 40% and 70% of criminal profits are reinvested, perpetuating the cycle of illicit financial activity.

In a press briefing held on Wednesday, Interpol Secretary General Jurgen Stock unveiled alarming statistics regarding the extent of undetected money laundering and illegal trade transactions plaguing the global banking network. Stock revealed that over 96% of the money transacted through this network remains undetected, with only 2-3% of the estimated USD 2-3 trillion from illegal trade being tracked and returned to victims.

Interpol, working in conjunction with law enforcement agencies and private financial sectors across its 196 member countries, is committed to combating the rising tide of fraud perpetrated by illicit traders. These criminal activities encompass a wide spectrum, including drug trafficking, human trafficking, arms dealing, and the illicit movement of financial assets.

Stock emphasized the urgent need to establish mechanisms for monitoring transactions within the global banking network. Currently, efforts are underway to engage banking associations worldwide in setting up such a framework. However, Stock highlighted the enormity of the challenge, noting that between 40% and 70% of criminal profits are reinvested, perpetuating the cycle of illicit financial activity. The lack of real-time information sharing poses a significant obstacle to law enforcement agencies in their efforts to combat money laundering and illegal trade.

Stock underscored the role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in exacerbating this problem, citing its use in voice cloning and other fraudulent activities. Criminal organizations are leveraging AI technologies to expand their operations and evade detection on a global scale. Stock emphasized the importance of enhanced cooperation between law enforcement agencies and private sector banking groups. Realtime information sharing is crucial in the fight against illegal wealth accumulation.

Drawing inspiration from initiatives such as the “Singapore Anti-Scam Centre,” Stock called for the adoption of similar models in other countries to strengthen the collective response to financial crimes. In conclusion, Stock’s revelations underscore the pressing need for concerted action to combat global financial crimes. Enhanced cooperation between public and private sectors, coupled with innovative strategies for monitoring and combating illicit transactions, is essential to safeguarding the integrity of the global financial system.

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Policy&Politics

FM defends Atal Pension Scheme, highlights guaranteed returns

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Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman defended the Atal Pension Yojana (APY) against Congress criticism, asserting its design based on choice architecture and a guaranteed minimum 8% return. She emphasized the scheme’s opt-out feature, facilitating automatic premium continuation unless subscribers choose otherwise, promoting retirement savings. Sitharaman countered Congress allegations of coercion, stating the APY’s guaranteed returns irrespective of market conditions, supplemented by government subsidies.

Responding to Congress’s claim of scheme misuse, Sitharaman highlighted its intended beneficiaries – the lower-income groups. She criticized Congress for its alleged elitist mindset and emphasized the scheme’s success in targeting the needy. Sitharaman accused Congress of exploiting vote bank politics and coercive tactics, contrasting it with the APY’s transparent framework. The exchange underscores the political debate surrounding social welfare schemes, with the government defending its approach while opposition parties raise concerns about implementation and efficacy.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s robust defense of the Atal Pension Yojana (APY) against Congress criticism highlights the ongoing debate over social welfare schemes in India. Sitharaman’s assertion of the APY’s design principles, including its opt-out feature and guaranteed minimum return, underscores the government’s commitment to promoting retirement savings among lower-income groups. The Atal Pension Yojana, named after former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, was launched in 2015 to provide pension benefits to workers in the unorganized sector. It aims to address the significant gap in pension coverage among India’s workforce, particularly those employed in informal and low-income sectors. The scheme offers subscribers fixed pension amounts ranging from Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 5,000 per month, depending on their contribution and age at entry, after attaining the age of 60. Sitharaman’s response comes after Congress criticism alleging the APY’s inefficacy and coercive tactics in enrolment.

Congress General Secretary Jairam Ramesh described the scheme as poorly designed, citing instances of subscribers dropping out due to unauthorized account openings. However, Sitharaman refuted these claims, emphasizing the APY’s transparent and beneficiary-oriented approach. The finance minister’s defense focuses on three key aspects of the APY: Choice Architecture: Sitharaman highlights the opt-out feature of the APY, which automatically continues premium payments unless subscribers choose to discontinue.

This design element aims to encourage long-term participation and ensure consistent retirement savings among subscribers. By simplifying the decision-making process, the scheme seeks to overcome inertia and promote financial discipline among participants. Guaranteed Minimum Return: Sitharaman underscores the APY’s guarantee of a minimum 8% return, irrespective of prevailing interest rates. This assurance provides subscribers with confidence in the scheme’s financial viability and incentivizes long-term savings.

The government’s commitment to subsidizing any shortfall in actual returns further strengthens the attractiveness of the APY as a retirement planning tool. Targeting the Needy: Sitharaman defends the predominance of pension accounts in lower income slabs, arguing that it reflects the scheme’s successful targeting of its intended beneficiaries – the poor and lower-middle class. She criticizes Congress for its alleged elitist mindset and suggests that the party’s opposition to welfare schemes like the APY stems from a disconnect with the needs of marginalized communities. Sitharaman’s rebuttal also addresses broader political narratives surrounding social welfare policies in India.

She accuses Congress of exploiting vote bank politics and coercive tactics, contrasting it with the transparent and inclusive framework of the APY. The exchange underscores the ideological differences between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition Congress, with each side advocating for their vision of social welfare and economic development. In addition to defending the APY, Sitharaman’s remarks shed light on the broader challenges and opportunities facing India’s pension sector.

Despite significant progress in expanding pension coverage through schemes like the APY, the country still grapples with issues such as financial literacy, informal employment, and pension portability. Addressing these challenges requires a multifaceted approach involving government intervention, private sector participation, and civil society engagement.

As India strives to achieve its vision of inclusive and sustainable development, initiatives like the APY play a crucial role in promoting economic security and social equity. Sitharaman’s defense of the scheme underscores the government’s commitment to addressing the needs of vulnerable populations and ensuring their financial well-being in the long run.

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Economic

Regulatory steps will make financial sector strong, but raise cost of capital

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India’s financial system regulator, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), is demonstrating a serious commitment to improving governance and transparency at finance companies and banks, with the RBI’s recent measures aimed at curtailing lenders’ overexuberance, enhancing compliance culture and safeguarding customers.

While the global ratings firm has appreciated the RBI’s “diminishing tolerance for non-compliance, customer complaints, data privacy, governance, know-your-customer (KYC), and anti-money laundering issues”, it has cautioned that increased regulatory risk could impede growth and raise the cost of capital for financial institutions. “Governance and transparency are key weaknesses for the Indian financial sector and weigh on our analysis. The RBI’s new measures are creating a more robust and transparent financial system,” says S&P Global Credit Analyst, Geeta Chugh. “India’s regulator has underscored its commitment to strengthening the financial sector. The drawback will be higher capital costs for institutions,” Chugh cautions.

The RBI measures include restraining IIFL Finance and JM Financial Products from disbursing gold loan and loans against shares respectively and asking Paytm Payments Bank (PPBL) to stop onboarding of new customers. Earlier in December 2020, the RBI suspended HDFC Bank from sourcing new credit card customers after repeated technological outages. These actions are a departure from the historically nominal financial penalties imposed for breaches, S&P Global notes.

Besides, as the global agency points out, the RBI has decided to publicly disclose the key issues that lead to suspensions or other strict actions against concerned entities and become more vocal in calling out conduct that it deems detrimental to the interests of customers and investors. “We believe that increased transparency will create additional pressure on the entire financial sector to enhance compliance and governance practices,” adds Chugh. The global agency has also lauded the RBI’s recent actions demonstrating scant tolerance for any potential window-dressing of accounts.

These actions include the provisioning requirement on alternative investment funds that lend to the same borrower as the bank finance company. Amidst the possibility of some retail loans, such as personal loans, loans against property, and gold loans getting diverted to invest in stock markets and difficulty of ascertaining the end-use of money in these products, S&P Global underlines the faith of market participants that the RBI and market regulator, the Securities and Exchange Board of India, want to protect small investors by scrutinizing these activities more cautiously.

On the flip side, at a time of tight liquidity, the RBI’s new measures are likely to limit credit growth in fiscal 2025 (year ending March 2025). “We expect loan growth to decline to 14 per cent in fiscal 2025 from 16 per cent in fiscal 2024, reflecting the cumulative impact of all these actions,” says Chugh. The other side of the story is that stricter rules may disrupt affected entities and increase caution among fintechs and other regulated entities and the RBI’s decision to raise risk weights on unsecured personal loans and credit cards may constrain growth. Household debt to GDP in India (excluding agriculture and small and midsize enterprises) increased to an estimated 24 per cent in March 2024 from 19 per cent in March 2019. Growth in unsecured loans has also been excessive and now forms close to 10 per cent of total banking sector loans.

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