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Food price inflation increases to 4.5% from less than 3% in the previous month due to rising costs of items such as cereals, pulses and tomatoes; retail inflation below RBI’s upper threshold limit

Retail inflation hardened in June to a three-month high of 4.81%, from May’s 4.31%, driven by a spike in food price gains due to the rising costs of items like cereals, pulses, milk and tomatoes. Food price inflation quickened to 4.5%, from less than 3% in the previous month.

While June’s pace of consumer price gains snapped a four-month streak of moderation from the 6.5% uptick logged in January, urban consumers faced almost 5% inflation last month with food price inflation almost doubling in pace from May’s 2.4% to 4.3%.

June was the fourth month in a row that retail inflation stayed below the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI’s) upper tolerance threshold of 6%, but economists opine that the ongoing upturn in vegetable prices and the “flooding plus uneven monsoon” situation could exacerbate food price pressures on headline inflation.

While the RBI is unlikely to release its ‘pause’ on interest rates at next month’s monetary policy review, the inflation trend may further push back the prospect of rate cuts.

“The spike in vegetable prices is set to push retail inflation to an uncomfortable 5.3-5.5% in July,” said Aditi Nayar, chief economist at ICRA, who sees the vegetable price shock likely causing average Q2 inflation to overshoot the RBI’s 5.2% projection.

The issue is ‘totally internal’ to India, says Foreign Secretary, as MEPs criticise government, BJP for ‘implementing divisive ethnonationalist policies’, broader misuse of AFSPA, UAPA and FCRA and attacks on churches of Kuki tribals

India on Wednesday rejected the European Parliament’s plan to hold an “urgent debate” on the violence in Manipur, calling it an issue “totally internal” to India. The EU debate, set to take place later on Wednesday, seeks to condemn the violence and direct the EU’s top officials to speak to New Delhi about remedying the situation. At least 142 have been killed and more than 54,000 driven from their homes since violence erupted on May 3 this year.

Speaking at a briefing for journalists in Delhi, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said that the debate at the European Parliament is happening despite India’s attempts to dissuade parliamentarians and putting across India’s point of view.

“This is a matter totally internal to India. We are aware of the happenings in the [European] Parliament and have reached out to the Members of European Parliament (MEPs) concerned,” Mr. Kwatra said, in response to a question from The Hindu.

He, however, declined to comment on a report in a Manipur newspaper that said the government has hired a prominent lobbying firm in Brussels, Alber & Geiger, to help with the outreach to MEPs, that had reportedly sent a letter on behalf of the Indian government to them. At least six of the eight political groups in the European Parliament, who will vote on Thursday after the debate on Wednesday, have so far submitted motions ‘For a resolution on India, the situation in Manipur’.

While some of the motions criticise members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for alleged hate speech, and the BJP-led government in Manipur for “implementing divisive ethnonationalist policies”, others refer to the broader misuse of Indian laws such as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), UAPA terror law and the Foreign Contributions Regulatory Act (FCRA) by authorities in the country.

Some of the motions make a special mention of the attacks on churches in the clashes, “between the majority Meitei community (mostly Hindu) and the Kuki tribal group (mostly Christians)”.

They also urged the government to end the “Internet shutdowns” in the State.

The move at the European Parliament follows days after U.S. Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti offered U.S. help in dealing with the situation in Manipur.

The President on Wednesday appointed Telangana Chief Justice Ujjal Bhuyan and Kerala Chief Justice S. Venkatanarayana Bhatti as Supreme Court judges. The appointments came within a week of the Supreme Court Collegium, led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, recommending their names to the government.

The two new appointments increase the judicial strength of the court to 33, leaving only one vacancy. Justice Bhuyan, appointed as a judge of the Gauhati High Court on October 17, 2011, had been serving as the Chief Justice of the Telangana court since June 28 last year.

“Justice Bhuyan is a judge with a good reputation for integrity and competence,” the collegium resolution had read.

Justice Bhatti was appointed a judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court on April 12, 2013. The collegium had explained its choice of Justice Bhatti, saying the High Court of Andhra Pradesh did not have any representation on the Bench of the Supreme Court since August 2022.

Justice Bhatti was transferred to the High Court of Kerala in March 2019. He had been serving as Chief Justice there since June 1, 2023.

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