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India In-Focus — Shares drop; Sri Lanka to get $55m credit line from India for fertilizers; Social media rules to protect constitutional rights

MUMBAI: Indian shares dropped early on Tuesday as domestic investors awaited a central bank interest rate decision, while global investors were nervous ahead of US inflation data and key rate decisions in Europe and Australia.

The NSE Nifty 50 index was down 0.73 percent at 16,447.05, as of 0355 GMT, while the S&P BSE Sensex fell 0.74 percent to 55,258.58.

Indian stock markets have seen volatile moves in the past week as worries build over stubbornly high inflation, with the Reserve Bank of India expected to follow up its unscheduled rate hike in May with another move at the policy meeting on Wednesday.

Sri Lanka to get $55 million credit line

Sri Lanka’s cabinet has approved a $55-million credit line from India’s Exim Bank for the crisis-stricken Indian Ocean nation to buy fertilizers, a cabinet spokesman said on Tuesday.

The country of 22 million is suffering its worst economic crisis in seven decades, battling a shortage of foreign exchange that has stalled imports of essential items such as fuel, medicine and fertilizers.

India says new social media laws in response to rights violations

India on Monday reissued new rules on social media companies that it proposed then abruptly withdrew last week, making no changes but explaining that the law was needed because the companies had violated Indians’ constitutional rights.

The country last week released a draft of changes to its IT law that would require companies to “respect the rights accorded to the citizens under the constitution of India” and set up a government panel to hear appeals of the companies’ content moderation decisions.

The government released the draft again on Monday without changes and solicited public comments within 30 days. But New Delhi for the first time explained its reasoning.

“A number of (technology) Intermediaries have acted in violation of constitutional rights of Indian citizens,” the government said, without naming any company or specific rights.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has had strained relations with many big tech companies, and New Delhi has been tightening regulation of firms such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

India Potash’s rouble-rupee payment deal stumbles in Russian bank

Russia’s Sberbank has yet to process the first payment from Indian Potash Ltd. under a deal set up before the Ukraine war to enable IPL to pay for Belarusian potash using rupees rather than dollars, according to a letter seen by Reuters and two sources familiar with the issue.

IPL set up a rupee account with Sberbank’s New Delhi branch in early February at the request of Belarusian Potash Co., as Belarus faced steadily tougher US sanctions since a 2020 election Washington called fraudulent. 

IPL made its first payment of 1.77 billion Indian rupees ($23 million) to the Sberbank branch in India after setting up an account, according to an IPL letter addressed to the chief executive of Sberbank in India, Ivan Nosov, and seen by Reuters.

The letter, dated May 23, said only a “negligible” amount of rupees had been converted to roubles to pay BPC and said IPL could not wait indefinitely for the transaction to be processed.

It said that, if the bank confirmed it could not complete the transaction, “we are afraid, we will call back our funds.”

IPL said in the letter it wanted a response from the Russian bank within two days of the letter being sent.

“But Sberbank has not yet responded,” one of the sources, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said on Monday.

(With input from Reuters)

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