India Insight

Peddling reforms for street vendors?

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has taken a step towards unshackling the poorest of entrepreneurs — the street vendors.

In a letter to chief ministers, this week, Singh called for a “new deal” for urban street vendors and implementation of the National Policy on Urban Street Vendors, 2009 — which would enable vendors to ply their trade without harassment.

These include hawkers, sidewalk traders or even the people selling clothes or utensils at the weekly market.

For them, the landmark economic reforms of 1991 carry little meaning.
The Centre for Civil Society, citing an example of persistent ‘license raj’, says that only 75,000 of half a million cycle-rickshaws plying in Delhi are licensed.
The rest pay an estimated 80 million rupees a month in bribes.

Like rickshaw-pullers, street vendors also have to cough up money to the police, fearing eviction or confiscation of wares.

Should Indian judges be above the law?

India’s law minister on Tuesday was forced to defer the introduction of the Judges (Declaration of Assets and Liabilities) Bill because of strong protests from the opposition as well as his own party members.

For once, they raised their voices in unison against the provision that while judges are required to declare their assets before a designated authority, they are protected from public scrutiny and questioning.

A hotly contested section of the Bill says: “no judge shall be subjected to any inquiry or query in relation to the contents of the declaration by any person”.

Crude realities for India’s economy

sg1.JPGOnly last year Indian policymakers were showing off the strong fundamentals of the economy to the world and pressing for a seat at the high table of global fora. Everything was going well — high growth, a surging stockmarket and a lot of attention from global investors attention.

But high oil prices and rising inflation threaten to bring the India growth story to its knees. Finance Minister PalaniappanChidambaram’s speech at a meeting of oil producing and consuming nations in Jeddah on Sunday showed the cracks in India’s confidence levels.

No doubt oil prices have spiralled, threatening the economic gains made by developing countries, as Chidambaram said in his speech.