India Insight

Rahul Gandhi takes first step in race to be India’s next PM

It’s the news some Congress leaders have waited for with bated breath. On Saturday, spokesman Janardhan Dwivedi announced the party’s decision to make Rahul Gandhi its vice-president.

Pressure had been mounting on the “young emperor” from within the troubled party to take charge. For years, Gandhi had shown no inclination to do so. But with his formal promotion to the party’s number two position next to mother Sonia, the 42-year-old is ready to claim the throne of the world’s largest democracy in the 2014 elections.

Here’s the latest from around the web.

Major changes in Congress with Rahul Gandhi as vice-president

Rahul’s elevation in Congress comes as no surprise: BJP

Congress gives Rahul Gandhi official status to take major decisions: Samajwadi Party

It’s less chintan, more Rahul promotion at Congress Shivir

Elevation of Rahul ‘historic’, ‘game-changer’: Cong young leaders

Reactions on Twitter
SHAILI CHOPRA – “So if Rahul Gandhi is going to be Vice President of the Congress party, question still remains Who will be the PM candidate?”

RAJDEEP SARDESAI – “Anyone who tells you its rahul vs modi in 2014, tell that to Jaya, Mamata, Mulayam, Jagan, Pawar, Nitish, Naveen! Gnight”

Narendra Modi, the BJP and the prime minister’s chair

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Thomson Reuters)

Speculation has been rife lately within India’s centre-right nationalist party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), over who will be its candidate for prime minister in the 2014 general elections.

There were four possible candidates a few months back, but the choice seems to have narrowed to Narendra Modi, the controversial chief minister of the western state of Gujarat, or Sushma Swaraj, the party’s leader in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of India’s parliament.

The race for India’s next prime minister

With the Congress-led coalition government more than halfway through its five-year term, the political temperature is heating up in the world’s largest democracy. The question on everyone’s minds is — who’s going to be the next prime minister?

A recent Nielsen survey had showed Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi was the top choice for the post, ahead of Congress party scion Rahul Gandhi and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar.

But last week’s conviction of a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lawmaker in the Gujarat riots is a blow to Modi, and the political fallout from the case may have dented his hopes of sitting in the prime minister’s chair.

Parents to get top marks for voting in UP

Students at a Lucknow college will earn extra credit if they can get their mom and dad to vote in the Uttar Pradesh state elections this month.

Getting those 10 extra marks is no easy task. A girl student at Christ Church college said she would have to work hard to push her “lazy” mother to go out on polling day but it would be worth it.

School officials insist this is no bribe, only an incentive to ensure students learn the value of their vote. At a parent-teacher conference immediately after the election, the ink-stained fingers of voting parents will show which students have succeeded in the task.

Advani’s “withdrawal” may come back to haunt BJP

As soon as former Bharatiya Janata Party president and political veteran Lal Krishna Advani announced that his role in the party and the Sangh Parivar “is much more than the post of prime minister” — he made it pretty clear that he may not be the preferred BJP candidate for the prime minister’s post in the 2014 general elections.

And soon the media and most political analysts made a pretty safe guess that the party would back current Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as its next PM candidate. Yet others named Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley as strong contenders.

But a lot may happen between now and 2014. And as things stand currently, our next PM may be a coalition leader from one of the regional parties. Let us examine why.

It’s raining freebies for voters in Tamil Nadu

By Neha Arha

With assembly elections in India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu approaching, the trend of expecting something free in return for casting your vote is catching up fast. It is raining freebies in the state and this time it is not just colour television sets or liquor but also laptops for college students.

Policemen march near a poster of AIADMK chief J. Jayalalithaa in Chennai May 6, 2004. REUTERS/Babu/FilesBeating incumbent chief minister M. Karunanidhi, her arch rival in the state, AIADMK chief J. Jayalalithaa has promised four grams of gold to poor voters, in addition to cable TV connections at subsidised rates.

Not lagging behind in the race, national parties like the right-wing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, while condemning state parties for what they term “bribing voters”, have offered stationery to students, sanitary napkins to women and 100,000 rupees ($2,260) deposit for female children born in a below-poverty-line family as poll promises in a bid to mark its presence in the state.

Lauding defeat of US anti-outsourcing bill premature

The Senate might have quashed Democrat plans to force U.S. firms to produce jobs and profits at home, rather than overseas, but India Inc is wrong to think the danger has passed.Indian employees at a call centre provide service support to international customers in Bangalore March 17, 2004. REUTERS/Sherwin Crasto/Files

Over the past few weeks, India’s newspapers have been littered with stories surrounding U.S. President Barack Obama’s comments on curbing outsourcing, and India Inc’s gross indignation at the White House’s intentions.

No surprise, then, to see bullish headlines following the Senate vote that effectively ended legislation dubbed the Creating American Jobs and End Offshoring Act. ‘India Inc cheers defeat of anti-outsourcing bill in US‘, ran one leading daily, while another led with ‘Anti-outsourcing Bill dies a quiet death in the US‘. Death is wide of the mark.

Adviser’s attack on Congress shows party tensions

Appearing to signal dissent in the ranks of India’s ruling Congress party, the Prime Minister’s media adviser told reporters last night that the “status-quoist” party was only concerned with winning elections.

India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (C), Chief of India's ruling Congress party Sonia Gandhi (R) and India's Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel (L) attend the inauguration ceremony of the newly constructed Terminal 3 at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi July 3, 2010 REUTERS/B Mathur“The Congress is by nature a status-quoist, pragmatic party,” Harish Khare, media adviser to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, was reported by the Hindustan Times as saying on Tuesday.

“It does not believe in any conviction. (Its) only conviction is to win elections,” the Indian Express added.

Ramdev: A political force for the good?

Amidst the hustle and bustle of a town dotted with temples and brightened up by saffron-clad “sadhus” or holy men, was a pandal with a thousand people waiting for Baba Ramdev’s daily yoga preaching.

Yoga guru Swami Ramdev speaks during a yoga camp in Haridwar April 8, 2010. REUTERS/Jitendra PrakashAt least 30 million were waiting to start their day with his discourse, through live telecast on an Indian spiritual channel.

Holy man Ramdev, known for popularising Yoga and traditional ayurvedic treatment and also for practising the ancient technique of breathing exercises called Pranayam has been beset by controversies for the last few years.

from UK News:

How can rickety cars put India on road to success?

When it comes to climate change, the environment and other weighty issues, what could the leaders of the world's biggest democracy possibly learn from the rural Indians who cobble together rickety cars out of scrap metal and old bits of wood?

One of India's best known businessmen says the improvised vehicles that carry crops and passengers along dusty village roads show how local people are often the best innovators, coming up with cheap and effective answers to tough problems.

Nandan Nilekani, co-founder of the technology company Infosys, thinks politicians would do well to remember the decentralized philosophy behind the "jugaad". Mechanics with little money and poor access to cheap parts use whatever is at hand to build them: water pumps replace normal engines; wooden blocks stand in for brakes and old planks of wood provide the floor.

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