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.

How should we ‘celebrate’ the Kargil war?

Sunday was the tenth anniversary of the conflict between India and Pakistan in Kargil.

The fighting ended with a ceasefire on this day, ten years back.

As a college student I witnessed Captain Manoj Pandey’s body being brought into the Command Hospital in Lucknow cantonment before his cremation later.

He died a war hero while recapturing the Khalubar ridgeline, a dominating feature, and was awarded the Param Vir Chakra, India’s highest gallantry award, posthumously.

How to get more women into parliament?

As part of its 100-day action plan, the Congress-led UPA government is pushing for the Women’s Reservation Bill, which seeks to reserve 33 per cent seats in parliament for women.

The UPA has also promised to give women 50 percent seats in local government institutions like the village council, up from the 33 percent of seats currently reserved for them.

That measure has  been in place for over a decade and a half. But has it done any good?

Jury still out on Indo-U.S. “unclear” deal

US President Bush raises his glass for a toast with Indian Prime Minister Singh at an official dinner …US President Bush raises his glass for a toast with Indian Prime Minister Singh at an official dinner …You could be forgiven for thinking that the civilian nuclear deal with the United States is all about whether India holds early elections or not.

Every newspaper is speculating if Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has staked his personal reputation on the deal, will resign to disassociate himself from an administration that failed to save a pact keenly watched by the world.

But are these the arguments India should be debating in the short-term or should we be discussing the real benefits and drawbacks of the deal?

Has India got it right on fuel prices?

So it’s official. India has finally raised fuel prices, by more than most people expected. A hike in diesel prices in particular is sure to feed through into overall inflation. At the same the government removed the import duty on crude oil.

A petrol station attendant counts currency notes in Jammu.We’d be keen on your opinion. Has the government got it right?

Despite the price rises, oil companies are still going to be losing huge amounts of money and gas-guzzling cars are still going to be heavily subsidized by ordinary taxpayers. The oil ministry had even argued for steeper price hikes.

Are subsidies really the right way to go in the modern world? Is the government sacrificing good economics on the altar of political populism?

Too early to write off India’s Congress-led coalition

Is the sun setting on the Congress-led UPA government? India’s opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is certainly riding high after victory in the southern state of Karnataka at the weekend , giving it a first chance to run a government in the south.Party workers of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) light smoke flares to celebrate the party’s victory in the state elections in Karnataka, outside the party’s headquarters in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad May 25, 2008. REUTERS/Amit Dave (INDIA)And it’s the latest in a long losing streak for Congress in state elections. The question is whether the ruling party can turn things around.

The economy certainly isn’t helping. Rising inflation seems to have already wiped out whatever electoral benefits the farmers’ debt waiver might have brought. A slowdown in growth, already apparent in industrial production statistics, won’t help either.

So the first problem for the government is to bring down inflation in time for next year’s national polls.

  •