Posts tagged ‘Indian National Congress’

08/08/2016

India’s Controversial Cow Protection Group Conducts Cattle Census – India Real Time – WSJ

A group concerned about the safety of India’s cows has embarked on a controversial and ambitious mission this month: counting all the cattle in the state of West Bengal.

“Our aim is to save the cow mother,” said Subrata Gupta, president of the Bengal branch of Cow Development Cell, which used to be associated with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

The group will use the data to protect the state’s cows, many of which are being illegally exported to Bangladesh and Pakistan for slaughter, said Mr. Gupta.

The status of cows — an animal deeply revered in Hinduism – is a divisive issue in the country. Critics say conservative Hindu groups, emboldened by the BJP’s power in New Delhi, are eating away at the country’s secular roots by trying to ban beef consumption.

Over the weekend Mr. Modi spoke out against self-styled vigilantes who say they are trying to protect cows. He urged state governments to punish them when they use cow protection as a rationalization for hate crimes.

Cow slaughter is already illegal in many Indian states–including Uttar Pradesh where a Muslim man was killed by a mob last year following rumors he had slaughtered a cow for food.

The eastern state of West Bengal, however, allows the killing of cows during the Islamic religious festival of Eid.

Around 6,000 volunteers from Mr. Gupta’s group are going door-to-door across state to record how many cows each household owns. The group wants to finish the survey before Sept. 12, when Muslims will celebrate Eid.

“Thousands of cows are being smuggled across India’s border into Bangladesh, where they will be slaughtered,” said Mr. Gupta of the Cow Development Cell which has groups apprehending cattle trucks, even though it has no legal authority to do so.

He said activists from the group freed about 40,000 animals last month.

The BJP recently broke ties with Mr. Gupta’s Cow Development Cell.

“It was an all-India decision that a separate cell for cow development is not needed,” said Dilip Ghosh, president of the BJP in West Bengal.

That hasn’t stopped Mr. Gupta and his army of self-styled cow protectors who say they will release the results of the cow census on Sept. 15.

Source: India’s Controversial Cow Protection Group Conducts Cattle Census – India Real Time – WSJ

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18/10/2015

Sonia says Modi govt imposing its ideology on people – The Hindu

Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Saturday blamed the Modi government for the growing intolerance to intellectuals and communal tensions in the country. The government, she said, was anti-poor and corporate-friendly.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi at an election rally in Buxar, Bihar on Saturday. Photo: Ranjeet Kumar

“Ever since Narendra Modi came to power, the intellectuals are being harassed and an effort has been made to stoke communal tensions through rumours. The BJP is trying to enforce its own ideology on people. It is shameful,” she said at election meetings at Buxar and Chappra. Her comments refers to the recent lynching of a man at Dadri in Uttar Pradesh and writers returning their Sahitya Academy awards.

“Modiji, Hindu aur Musalmaan apas main ladte nahi, balki unko ladaya jata hai… kyunki communal jhagde band ho gaye toh kuch logo ki dukaandari band ho jayegi, aur yeh BJP se behtar kaun janta hai? [Mr. Modi, Hindus and Muslims don’t clash with each other but they are being pushed to do it … If communal clashes are being stopped, many people’s business will be closed, and who knows this better than the BJP?],” she said.

Ms. Gandhi said the Modi government worked only for big businesses and had no concern for the poor.

She said the Congress would not allow the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill to go through the Rajya Sabha as it was against the welfare of the people. “The UPA government wanted the GST law for the development of industry, but we are opposing it now for the welfare of the people,” she said.

“Mr. Modi speaks much but delivers little. Has he delivered on the tall claims made by him during the last Lok Sabha polls,” she asked. When the crowd yelled “no”, she said: “It is high time he understood the pain of the people.”

The government was silent when pulse prices were rising, farmers were committing suicide and unemployment among the youth was rising, she said.

Taking on Mr. Modi for alleging that the Congress had done little in the past 60 years of its regime, Ms. Gandhi said: “When we got freedom, we had nothing; but the Congress government did revolutionary works in education, health and employment in the past 60 years. We maintained the unity and integrity of the country and strengthened democracy.”

Source: Sonia says Modi govt imposing its ideology on people – The Hindu

25/07/2015

Should Britain Pay Reparations to India? Shashi Tharoor Says Yes, Narendra Modi Praises Him, What Do You Think? – India Real Time – WSJ

Should Britain pay reparations to its former colonies, including India? An articulation of why the former holder of empire should make amends, or at least say sorry, for two centuries of colonial rule, has sent a video of Indian law maker Shashi Tharoor viral and opened up a debate in India.

In a 15 minute speech given during a debate at the Oxford Union in the U.K., telegenic and floppy-haired Mr. Tharoor, who is a former foreign minister and a onetime under-secretary-general at the United Nations, argued that “Britain’s rise for 200 years was financed by its depredations in India.”

Speaking in favor of the motion, the opposition Congress party politician said that India’s share of the world economy when the British arrived was 23% but by the time they left it had slipped to 4% because “India had been governed for the benefit of Britain. Britain’s rise for 200 years was financed by its depredations in India.”

“In fact, Britain’s industrial revolution was actually premised upon the de-industrialization of India,” he added.

The YouTube clip of the Congress politician’s oration has been watched more than 1.5 million times since it was uploaded last week, making it one of the most-viewed clips from the Oxford Union, a prestigious debate chamber at the University of Oxford.

A video of Jack Gleeson, an actor explaining to the chamber why he left the Game of Thrones, has over two million views as does one of Sepp Blatter, the FIFA president, impersonating Portuguese soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo.

Others to have appeared at in the red-walled debate chamber in the recent past include Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, former U.S. Senator John Edwards, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and onetime South African President F.W. De Klerk.

Indian social media lit up with praise for Mr. Tharoor’s eloquence and ability to take on the British establishment: Opposing speakers in the debate included Sir Richard Ottaway, a politician with the United Kingdom’s right-wing Conservative party.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who belongs to Congress’s rival the Bharatiya Janata Party, praised Mr. Tharoor for the speech.

via Should Britain Pay Reparations to India? Shashi Tharoor Says Yes, Narendra Modi Praises Him, What Do You Think? – India Real Time – WSJ.

14/05/2015

Delayed reforms, market woes tarnish end to Modi’s first year | Reuters

A surprise delay to India’s new goods and services tax (GST) marks one of the most painful setbacks suffered by Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s government as it nears the end of a first year in power, with markets falling and farmers braced for a poor monsoon.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi attends an event in New Delhi February 17, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer/Files

Investors had hoped that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party‘s majority in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament, would ensure Modi could push through reforms far more smoothly, but that assumption has taken a battering.

Late on Tuesday, the government submitted to strong opposition in the Rajya Sabha, the upper house, by agreeing to delay the landmark tax legislation until at least July.

The introduction of the GST would constitute India’s biggest tax reform since independence.

The delay to the bill is a blow to a government that is already dealing with rural discontent over proposed land reforms, which have also still to be sent to the upper house for approval.

The GST would replace a patchwork of levies by the central and state governments, reducing corruption, attracting investment and — according to the finance minister — add 2 percentage points to India’s growth.

Senior officials said on Wednesday they feared the delay could become yet another “sell” signal for foreign funds, already angered by the government seeking to tax them for several years of previously untaxed gains.

“A delay in parliament approval of the GST bill will send a wrong signal to investors, who are already grappling with tax notices,” said one senior government official dealing with economic policy decisions.

India was Asia’s second best performing market last year and the government has scored some successes. It has, for example, improved its finances, held successful telecoms and coal block auctions, and allowed more foreign investment into the insurance and defence sectors.

But the shine has worn off. Foreign investors sold nearly $2.2 billion in shares during the last 16 trading sessions.

via Delayed reforms, market woes tarnish end to Modi’s first year | Reuters.

21/04/2015

Rahul Gandhi’s Speech: The Indian Media’s Surprise Verdict – India Real Time – WSJ

India’s punditocracy in recent weeks has loved to hate Rahul Gandhi.

Mr. Gandhi, the vice president of India’s opposition Congress party, was derided by some opinion-makers for taking a break from frontline politics in mid-February–and not returning until mid-April. But on Monday, in a speech before Parliament, Mr. Gandhi surprised many pundits.

Not by what he said — he attacked, as expected, the government’s proposed changes to India’s laws on purchasing land — but by the fact that he spoke at all.

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Mr. Gandhi, who is a member of Parliament, rarely speaks in India’s lower chamber, the Lok Sabha. In fact, this was only his first address since Congress lost badly in national elections almost a year ago.

Congress’s loss provoked deep soul-searching within the party about its future. Mr. Gandhi was Congress’s prime ministerial hopeful in that drubbing.

On Monday, Mr. Gandhi blasted India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, and his Bharatiya Janata Party, for proposed changes to the Land Acquisition Act that, among other things would make it easier for businesses and the government to buy land for defense, industrial corridors, affordable housing and infrastructure projects by removing a requirement to obtain the consent of more than two-thirds of landowners.

Mr. Gandhi’s Congress party argues these changes are bad for India’s huge population of farmers, who he described in Parliament as the country’s backbone. “Everything has been built on a foundation that has been provided to us by the farmer,” Mr. Gandhi told lawmakers.

Pictures of Mr. Gandhi, dressed in a close-fitting white kurta and flanked by some of the party’s youngest members of Parliament, filled television screens and set his name trending on Twitter on Monday evening.

It also put the ruling BJP on the defensive after months of relatively limited challenges from the Congress party.  A piece in the Indian Express newspaper said the government was pushed into “damage control after Rahul Gandhi’s attack over the agrarian situation.”

Sanjay Singh, who writes about politics for Firstpost, wrote that Mr. Gandhi’s “rather aggressive pitching in Parliament has surely charged up Congress’ ranks.”

Another piece, posted on the IBNLive website of the Indian news channel CNN-IBN, said Mr. Gandhi had shown “he is back and he means business.”

“Maybe it is the low expectations,” the IBNLive piece said, “but Rahul Gandhi was definitely on fire.” The article was published with no byline.

via Rahul Gandhi’s Speech: The Indian Media’s Surprise Verdict – India Real Time – WSJ.

24/02/2015

Modi’s bid to ease land for companies could impact reforms | Reuters

A bid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make it easier for businesses to buy farm land for infrastructure and industry has sparked a backlash that could stymie his efforts to get reforms through a parliament session that began on Monday.

Labourers work along the construction site of a road at Ghilot in Rajasthan, October 1, 2014.  REUTERS/Adnan Abidi/Files

While the change is aimed at unlocking hundreds of billions of dollars worth of projects, which have been stuck for want of land, opposition parties and rights activists say it discriminates against farmers.

“We will protest and fight the government on this issue inside and outside parliament,” Ghulam Nabi Azad, a senior leader of the opposition Congress party, told the Indian Express.

Modi issued an ordinance in December to exempt projects in defence, rural electrification, rural housing and industrial corridors from provisions of a law enacted by the previous Congress party government that mandated the consent of 80 percent of affected landowners for any deal.

He had also ended the need for companies to conduct a social impact study of such projects, which would involve public hearings and, industry executives fear, drag on for years.

The ordinance is a temporary order and needs the approval of both houses of parliament to come into force. It will lapse if parliament does not ratify it this session.

via Modi’s bid to ease land for companies could impact reforms | Reuters.

10/02/2015

BBC News – Delhi election: Arvind Kejriwal’s party routs Modi’s BJP

An anti-corruption party has won a stunning victory in the Delhi state elections in a huge setback for India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Leader of the Aam Aadmi Party, or Common Man's Party, Arvind Kejriwal waves to the crowd as his party looks set for a landslide party in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015

The BJP admitted defeat after Arvind Kejriwal‘s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) won 67 of the 70 assembly seats.

Mr Modi congratulated the AAP leader, whose career seemed doomed a year ago when he quit as Delhi’s chief minister over a crucial anti-corruption bill.

It is the BJP’s first setback since it triumphed in the 2014 general election.

Correspondents say the win marks a remarkable comeback for Arvind Kejriwal, a former tax inspector.

His party was routed by the BJP in last May’s general elections, months after the AAP made a spectacular debut in the 2013 Delhi elections.

Mr Modi has enjoyed huge popularity since taking office last year, winning a string of local elections and wooing international investors and world leaders.

Final results gave Mr Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) just three seats. India’s main opposition Congress party failed to win even a single seat.

via BBC News – Delhi election: Arvind Kejriwal’s party routs Modi’s BJP.

03/02/2015

Aam Aadmi Party Scores Delhi Elections Polling Hat Trick – India Real Time – WSJ

If three’s a trend then the Aam Aadmi Party might want to throw their topis in the air in celebration at the latest opinion polls.

Three voter surveys published Tuesday in the run up to elections in Delhi gave the lead to AAP slightly ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party and leagues in front of the Congress party that held the capital for 15 years until 2013.

The city goes to the polls on Feb. 7 in an election that is widely viewed as a referendum on Mr. Modi’s performance since he took office in May. The results will be announced on Feb. 10.

To be sure, opinion polling in India is far from an exact science and usually needs to be taken with a handful of salt.

Nevertheless, the wind seems to be changing in favor of AAP, or the common man’s party in a revival of fortunes after a drubbing in national elections last year.

Analysts say this is because the upstart party has focused on local issues-based politics while the BJP and Congress have been turned their arsenal on Mr. Kejriwal at the expense of issues voters care about.

AAP, led by tax-inspector-turned-activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal, could walk away with 36 to 40 seats in the 70-member legislative assembly, according to the latest findings from polling firm TNS for the Economic Times newspaper.

To form the government in Delhi, a party needs a simple majority of 36 seats.

via Aam Aadmi Party Scores Delhi Elections Polling Hat Trick – India Real Time – WSJ.

22/10/2014

India’s Modi Ends Fuel Subsidies, Showing He Is a Reformer – Businessweek

Narendra Modi has proven once again how important it is to be lucky in politics. In the spring, he was India’s opposition leader, running for prime minister by focusing on the government’s mismanagement of the economy. He had plenty of ammunition: The coalition led by the Congress Party had presided over years of corruption scandals and stalled reforms—and also had to contend with a growing budget deficit fueled by soaring prices for oil and other imported commodities.

In India, Falling Oil Prices Make Modi's Job Much Easier

During the campaign, Modi said he wanted to cut back on the costly subsidies the government offered millions of Indians to cushion the blow of those soaring prices. Petroleum subsidies account for one-quarter of India’s 2.6 trillion rupee ($42.4 billion) subsidies bill. But after he won in a landslide, Modi’s first budget (which his finance minister announced in July), was a modest plan that left the subsidies untouched.

That left observers unsure as to whether Modi was backing away from the politically difficult task of making the cuts. “We can either trust that the government will deliver price hikes as the year progresses,” Mirza Baig, head of foreign exchange and interest rate strategy at BNP Paribas in Singapore, wrote in a report after the budget announcement in July. “Or we can be more cynical and suggest that the Modi administration intends to continue the practice of rolling forward subsidy expenditure to next year.”

via India’s Modi Ends Fuel Subsidies, Showing He Is a Reformer – Businessweek.

26/08/2014

Top India court says coal allocations were illegal – Businessweek

India’s Supreme Court said Monday that all government allocations of coal reserves to private companies from 1993 to 2010 were conducted illegally, and it will hold a hearing to decide whether to cancel them.

More than 200 coal blocks, or areas of unmined reserves, were allocated during that period to companies for their use in power plants or steel or cement factories. The companies were allowed to sell excess coal on the open market, but the court said commercial sales from the reserves must be suspended until it makes its decision at a hearing on Sept. 1.

The court’s ruling extends beyond the initial case — dubbed “Coalgate” by the Indian media — in which the previous Congress party-led government was accused of costing the treasury hundreds of billions of dollars by selling or allocating about 155 coal blocks in 2004-09 without competitive bidding. A report by the country’s Comptroller and Auditor General leaked to the media in March 2012 estimated those losses to have been around $210 billion.

The scandal along with other high-profile cases of alleged corruption were seen as a key reason for the Congress party’s loss in this year’s elections to Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s pro-business Bharatiya Janata Party.

The court said in its ruling Monday that between 1993 and 2010 there had been “no fair and transparent procedure” in the coal allocation process, “resulting in unfair distribution of the national wealth.”

“Common good and public interest have, thus, suffered heavily,” said the court, led by Chief Justice R.M. Lodha.

via Top India court says coal allocations were illegal – Businessweek.

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