Posts tagged ‘manmohan singh’

25/07/2016

Ways India Has Changed Since Liberalization 25 Years Ago – WSJ

Twenty-five years ago this week, India unshackled private industry and embraced foreign investment, ending four decades of socialist self-reliance and making a major bid to reclaim its place as an economic power.

The finance minister at the time, Manmohan Singh, had a keen sense of the moment’s place in history. Presenting the budget before Parliament on July 24, 1991, he framed the new economic policies as a means of eliminating “the scourge of poverty, ignorance and disease,” and of realizing the full potential of the Indian people. In the famous closing flourish of his speech, he invoked Victor Hugo: “No power on Earth can stop an idea whose time has come.”

But even Mr. Singh, who later served a decade as the country’s prime minister, could not have foreseen all the changes that this set of ideas would bring about.

1 Economic Liftoff

By every measure, India has grown more economically prosperous. National output last year was nearly five times what it was in 1991. Indians sell more to the world, and enjoy more of the outside world’s products and services, know-how and technology. A country that was once a byword for famine is today one of the planet’s biggest exporters of rice, cotton and other agricultural products.Not all sections of Indian society have risen as much as others: The country is still home to more of the world’s poorest people than any other nation. And much of the growth has been in the informal economy, where companies don’t pay taxes or have access to large-scale finance, and where workers don’t receive benefits or protection from unfair treatment. That suggests the deterrents to doing business above-board, such as government regulations and enforcement, are still too many.ANUPAM

2 People Power

Indians are living longer, and fewer are dying at or shortly after birth. More are literate, more receive schooling and more go to college. Still, the nation badly lags its neighbors on many of these human indicators. Women fare worse than men. And despite recent government sanitation campaigns, more people in India have cellphones than have access to decent toilets, according to the United Nations.

3 Consumer Explosion

In 1991, Indians had two television channels to choose from, and both of them were produced by Doordarshan, the state broadcaster. In much else, too, from sweets to cosmetics to butter, autarky meant the choices for the average consumer were very limited. Today’s riot of options makes pre-liberalization India seem, as the writer Mukul Kesavan wrote recently, like “another country.

4 Car Crazy

It isn’t quite true that Indians had only one car available to them, the Hindustan Motors Ltd. Ambassador, before 1991. But their options have certainly multiplied since then. Almost every major international maker has tried to enter the market; not all have succeeded. The industry in India churned out nearly 24 million vehicles in the year that ended in March.

5 A Flailing State

Over the last quarter-century, as India’s economy has grown more complex, it has arguably loped ahead of the government’s capacity to manage it and provide essential services. That’s why the Harvard economist Lant Pritchett in 2009 called India a “flailing state”: The top institutions of government are sound, but they don’t deliver reliably on the ground.Public health facilities are understaffed and underfunded. Schoolteachers don’t show up for their own classes. Unlike in 1991, “India’s problem is not what the state does wrong now,” says Manish Sabharwal, chairman of TeamLease Services Ltd., a Bangalore-based staffing company. “It is what the state does not do.”

Source: Ways India Has Changed Since Liberalization 25 Years Ago – WSJ

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

14/05/2015

India’s Parliament Just Had the Most Productive Session in Years – Here’s How It Did It – India Real Time – WSJ

India’s Parliament is not known for its productivity. Disruptions, adjournments and delays to proceedings are often a feature of parliamentary business in the world’s largest democracy.

But the recently-concluded budget session was the most productive in recent years, according to PRS Legislative Research, an organization that tracks the affairs of the Indian Parliament.

During the four-month-long sitting, productivity in India’s lower house –the number of actual working hours as a percentage of the total scheduled hours for parliamentary business – was 123%.

That’s the most productive the lower house, known as the Lok Sabha, has been in 15 years. In fact, the lower house decided to extend the session by three days.

The upper house was slightly behind, with a productivity measurement of 101%.

“A lot of financial business got done, a lot of legislative business got done and a lot of issues of national importance were discussed,” said Chakshu Roy, head of outreach at PRS Legislative Research.

“Both the houses met for a longer period of time and that’s the reason the productivity of the Parliament has gone up,” he said.

Such prolonged discourse eventually results in robust policies and laws, which ultimately helps in better governance, said Mr. Roy. ”If you debate something extensively, then the different nuances of the subject come out,” he said.

via India’s Parliament Just Had the Most Productive Session in Years – Here’s How It Did It – India Real Time – WSJ.

26/10/2014

Wal-Mart Struggles to Crack Retail Market in India – Businessweek

As Indians celebrate the Hindu festival of Diwali, executives at Wal-Mart India don’t have much reason to cheer. The company is still waiting for its big breakthrough in India, a market it has been trying to crack at least since 2007. That’s when the American retailer teamed up with one of the top businessmen in the country, Sunil Mittal, to open wholesale stores in India. If all had gone well, that partnership with Bharti Enterprises was supposed to have led to consumer-facing stores, too.

A Wal-Mart store on the outskirts of Chandigarh, Punjab, India, on June 10

When then-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2012 eased restrictions on foreign ownership in retail, Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) executives saw an opportunity in the world’s second-largest country. In September 2012, a Wal-Mart executive told Bloomberg News the two sides were in talks and retail stores were less than two years away.

Those discussions didn’t end well. Wal-Mart and Bharti Enterprises went their separate ways last year, dissolving the joint venture in October 2013. Wal-Mart bought out Bharti and took full control of the 20 members-only, cash-and-carry stores in India. After that, the company largely kept its India plans on hold: It’s been two years since Wal-Mart added new wholesale stores in India.

via Wal-Mart Struggles to Crack Retail Market in India – Businessweek.

20/09/2014

Modi Uses Another International Visit to Raise His Local Profile – India Real Time – WSJ

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping this week once again showed that Mr. Modi is a master of media management.

The summit of the heads of the world’s two most-populous countries produced mixed results. A lot of agreements were signed, but the $100 billion in Chinese investment pledges that some local media had predicted did not materialize. And just as the leaders were shaking hands, there was an embarrassing faceoff between Chinese and Indian troops along the countries’ disputed boundary.

That didn’t stop India’s prime minister from again using photo opportunities and body language to broadcast his confidence, an impression that is likely to remain long after local media stop discussing the border tension and whether China had promised enough money.

Indians watching the visit wouldn’t have missed some of the symbolism. Mr. Xi flew into Mr. Modi’s home state, on the Indian prime minister’s birthday. Mr. Xi wore an  Indian vest that Mr. Modi gave him. Video of the two showed Mr. Modi walking in front of Mr. Xi at one event and swinging on a swing with him. At one point it even looked like Mr. Xi was carrying an umbrella for Mr. Modi.

Reuters Xi Jinping looked like he was carrying an umbrella for Narendra Modi during a recent visit to Gujarat.

The Indian prime minister has used the same charisma in photo ops during other international summits, most recently in Japan where he gave Prime Minister Shinzo Abe a big bear hug and later performed a solo on traditional Japanese drums.

All of this has been beamed into Indian homes and marks a major change from the demeanor of the country’s previous prime minister, Manmohan Singh, who was soft- spoken and slow-moving.

Mr. Modi’s multimedia skills are one of the things that made him prime minister.  Whether it is his controversial selfies, the sight of hundreds of supporters wearing Modi masks, campaign speeches delivered through hologram, his stylish outfits or his willingness to put on almost any kind of regional headwear, Mr. Modi knows how to make an impression.

via Modi Uses Another International Visit to Raise His Local Profile – India Real Time – WSJ.

22/08/2014

India’s Government Blocks Release of Film About Sikh Assassins Who Killed Prime Minister Indira Gandhi – India Real Time – WSJ

India’s government has blocked the release of a film about the Sikh assassins who killed the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984, saying it could pose a threat to law and order.

Theaters across northern India and select cities elsewhere were set to start showing the Punjabi-language movie, “Kaum De Heere,” which translates as “Diamonds of the Community,” on Friday.

The film tracks the transformation of Mrs. Gandhi’s killers – anointed as martyrs last year by Sikh religious authorities — from dependable bodyguards to assassins.

Mrs. Gandhi’s death sparked large-scale anti-Sikh riots, one of the worst episodes of communal violence in Indian history. Around 7,000 people, mostly Sikhs, are believed to have died in the rioting.

Leela Samson, chairwoman of India’s Central Board of Film Certification, said the movie “rakes up very old and strong sentiments” and sends a “wrong message to the youth that a particular ideology comes above the nation’s interests and that taking the law into your hands is permissible.”

She said that after officials from the Home Ministry, Information and Broadcasting Ministry and film review board watched the film Thursday, film regulators decided to withdraw their earlier approval for it to be shown in theaters.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal Thursday, the film’s producer, Satish Katyal, said the film was about the lives of the two assassins and the difficulties faced by their families.

“Nobody has been shown as being good or bad. There are no biases,” he said.

Mr. Katyal said it was unfair for the film board to reverse course just hours before the film’s release. If the government had any objections, he said, there was “ample opportunity to raise them before.”

The film opens with the assassination of Mrs. Gandhi, the daughter of independent India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. Mrs. Gandhi, like her father, led the Congress party.

While she was premier, Indian security forces attacked alleged Sikh militants inside the Golden Temple, Sikhism’s holiest site, in a raid dubbed Operation Blue Star. Hundreds of people were killed.

Soon after, Mrs. Gandhi was killed by two Sikh bodyguards, touching off a spasm of religious violence. Senior Congress politicians have faced trials, some of which are ongoing, for inciting mobs and fueling the conflict.

“There will never be any justification for the attack on the sanctity of Sikhs and the targeting of an entire community,” said Avtar Singh, head of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, Sikhism’s highest authority.

The party has attempted to reconcile with the Sikh community. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, himself a Sikh, apologized for the riots when he came to power.

via India’s Government Blocks Release of Film About Sikh Assassins Who Killed Prime Minister Indira Gandhi – India Real Time – WSJ.

11/06/2014

China Tries to Woo India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi – Businessweek

China is courting Narendra Modi. The Indian leader became prime minister last month after his Hindu nationalist party won a landslide victory, and in his campaign he promised to take a tougher stand toward China. India says China occupies 38,000 square kilometers (about 15,000 square miles) of its territory in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir. China says no, India is the guilty party because 90,000 sq. km. of land in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh are actually Chinese.

China Tries to Woo India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi

China made progress toward settling the dispute under Modi’s predecessor, the Congress Party’s Manmohan Singh. Following Congress’s humiliating defeat in the elections, the Chinese need to work harder to prevent relations from deteriorating anew.  Hence the glowing words from Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Monday in New Delhi. “China-India cooperation is like a massive buried treasure waiting to be discovered,” he said, telling reporters the two sides are close to a deal on the border. “We are prepared to reach a final settlement,” said Wang.

Any deal would provide a much-needed diplomatic victory for China. With Chinese and Vietnamese ships ramming one another in the South China Sea and Chinese and Japanese planes confronting each other in the skies over the East China Sea, the Chinese government has enough territorial disputes threatening to escalate into full-blown crises. Yesterday, China appealed to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon regarding what the Chinese called “Vietnam’s provocation” against a Chinese company’s offshore oil rig. China wants “to tell the international community the truth and set straight their understanding on the issue,” deputy permanent representative Wang Min said.

via China Tries to Woo India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi – Businessweek.

25/05/2014

BBC News – Pakistan PM Sharif to go to Modi inauguration in India

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is to attend the inauguration of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister of India on Monday. Narendra Modi (L), Nawaz Sharif (R)

It is the first time since the two countries won independence in 1947 that a prime minister from one state will attend such a ceremony in the other. The two nuclear-armed rivals have fought three wars in the past 60 years. Mr Modi is seen as a hardliner on national security issues. His BJP party advocates a tough stance on Pakistan. But correspondents say his huge election victory gives him a mandate to reach out to Pakistan in a way the previous administration could not.

Bilateral ties suffered badly in the wake of the 2008 attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai, when 166 people were killed by Pakistani gunmen. Relations improved slightly under outgoing PM Manmohan Singh, but there are still regular skirmishes on the disputed border in Kashmir.

Mr Singh was invited to Mr Sharif’s inauguration last year but did not attend.

via BBC News – Pakistan PM Sharif to go to Modi inauguration in India.

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17/05/2014

India’s Modi gets hero’s welcome as he brings new era to New Delhi | Reuters

Hundreds of Indians thronged the leafy streets of New Delhi on Saturday to greet Narendra Modi‘s triumphant march into the capital after he decimated the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty and the ruling Congress party in the biggest election victory the country has seen in 30 years.

Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi, the prime ministerial candidate for India's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), gestures towards his supporters from his car during a road show upon his arrival at the airport in New Delhi May 17, 2014. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

Modi leaned far out of his car, waving a victory sign to jubilant supporters, in a drive from the airport to the headquarters of his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the center of town.

A Hindu nationalist who critics fear will be divisive and autocratic, Modi toned down religious issues in his pitch to India’s 815 million voters and won the world’s biggest ever election with promises of economic development for all.

The three-times chief minister of the western state of Gujarat is an outsider to Delhi’s power circle. The low-caste son of a tea stall-owner, his rise to power signals the end of an era dominated by the descendants of India’s first prime minister, independence hero Jawaharlal Nehru.

“Four to five generations have been wasted since 1952, this victory has been achieved after that,” Modi said, in a jibe at the Nehru-Gandhi family and the Congress it dominates.

Describing himself as a “worker”, he hailed grass-roots campaigners who showered him with pink rose petals as he arrived at party headquarters. There he met other party leaders and was expected to start discussions about forming a cabinet. Modi will not formally take office until after Tuesday, the party said.

Modi has given India its first parliamentary majority after 25 years of coalition governments, with his party winning more than six times the seats garnered by Congress.

With almost all 543 seats declared by Saturday morning, Modi’s BJP looked set to win 282 seats, 10 more than the majority required to rule. With its allied parties, it was heading for a comfortable tally of around 337 – the clearest result since the 1984 assassination of prime minister Indira Gandhi propelled her son Rajiv to office.

During the campaign Modi was explicit about wanting to end the dominance of the Nehru-Gandhi family on Indian politics. He may have achieved the goal, with Congress reduced to just 44 seats, less than half of its previous worst showing.

Modi’s landslide win gives him ample room to advance reforms started 23 years ago by current Prime Minister Manmohan Singh but which have stalled in recent years.

Despite his party’s pasting, 81-year-old Singh was magnanimous in his final address to the nation on Saturday, wishing the incoming government success. Later, he tendered his resignation.

“I am confident about the future of India,” he said in his televised message. “I firmly believe that the emergence of India as a major powerhouse of the evolving global economy is an idea whose time has come.”

Unlike Singh and his predecessors, Modi will not have to deal with unruly partners to implement reform. That could usher in profound economic changes, with some supporters imagining him as India’s answer to former British leader Margaret Thatcher.

via India’s Modi gets hero’s welcome as he brings new era to New Delhi | Reuters.

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06/05/2014

Weak Economy Means There’s More Room at India’s Hotels – India Real Time – WSJ

The subcontinent’s fanciest hoteliers are plumping their pillows for fewer guests as the economy takes a toll on travel.

Corporations are chopping their travel budgets. Foreign tourism isn’t what it used to be. And there was an oversupply of hotel rooms in India to begin with.

For reasons like these, hotels particularly at the higher end of the business will be facing “muted revenue growth, stagnated profitability and elevated credit risk” in the fiscal year that started April 1, a rating agency said.

Premium hotels, a category that includes five-star and four-star properties, are feeling most of the pain, according to a report from India Ratings & Research, a Fitch Ratings Inc. firm. They get about two-thirds of their business from corporate and foreign travelers.

“The demand slowdown has put pressure on occupancy and average room rate across major cities,” the report said, limiting hotels’ ability to pass along rising costs due to inflation.

India currently has around 100,000 hotel rooms in what is called the “organized” sector (which excludes myriad smaller and often cheaper properties), as well as an additional 85,000 to 90,000 rooms being built. Weak demand has led many hotel companies to delay new projects and even shelve 40% to 50% of new-hotel construction proposals due to the slumping business, rising financing costs and increase in construction costs, Chandan Sharma and Salil Garg, analysts at Indian Ratings, said in the report.

via Weak Economy Means There’s More Room at India’s Hotels – India Real Time – WSJ.

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