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Realising India’s economic potential July 19, 2015

Posted by nishankmotwani in : Guest authors, India , comments closed

Peter Drysdale

India is a very large labour-abundant economy with a rapidly growing workforce and its manufacturing sector might be expected to be the primary driver of its economic growth. In fact, the manufacturing sector has contributed little to income growth and its share in total merchandise exports has been declining, as recent OECD analysis points out. Manufacturing has not brought much new employment, and most of the recent rise in manufacturing employment has been in the informal sector.

EAS India labour

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Alliances not leaders will decide 2014 Indian elections February 19, 2014

Posted by southasiamasala in : Guest authors, India , comments closed

Arun R. Swamy

Political posturing in India has not changed since 1999, when there was a fascist party posing as a conservative one, and a royalist party posing as a liberal one. The posturing continues, but since then the Indian National Congress (INC) party has embraced coalition politics. And it may now be in a stronger position to attract allies than its rival, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

INC president Sonia Gandhi’s recent decision not to publicly project a prime ministerial candidate for the upcoming elections has met with disappointment in the party and derision outside. But Gandhi may be shrewder than her colleagues. With the two largest parties typically receiving only a little more than half the votes, the decisive contest between them is for the support of regional parties, not voters. In that contest the INC continues to have an edge — and publicly committing to a prime ministerial candidate would hinder their efforts.

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India’s troublesome Nuclear Liability Laws: still an issue for the US? October 31, 2013

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Weigold, Auriol , comments closed

Auriol Weigold

In May 2010 I noted that the then Civil Nuclear Liability Bill defined the financial and legal liabilities for groups, seeking “to put the burden of damages on the nuclear plant operator”. (South Asia Masala, “Operationalizing” the Indo-US nuclear agreement) That burden remained unacceptable to potential operators United States’ companies Westinghouse and General Electric Hitachi, which have waited some three years for inter-government agreement to be reached on the unsatisfactory Nuclear Liability laws, before taking up long-since allocated sites in India to develop commercial nuclear power plants.

The Liability bill approved by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Ministerial Cabinet in 2009 and passed by Parliament in 2010, defined financial and legal liabilities, and was the final facilitating step in the 2008 Indo-US Nuclear Agreement, itself several years in negotiation. The benefit for India in the US reversal of a lengthy ban on supplying nuclear fuel and technology is immense, but the fine-tuning in this last stage is as problematic as the earlier delays and trade-offs over the issue of a nuclear reprocessing facility in India.

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The politics of the India-Pakistan peace talks August 23, 2013

Posted by nishankmotwani in : By contributor, Future Directions International, Guest authors, India , comments closed

Lindsay Hughes

Despite the best will of the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan, their attempts at creating a relatively stable relationship have been hijacked by various factions on both sides.

Background

Pakistani Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, has repeatedly stated, even before he won the last general election, that he wishes to create a better relationship with India. This, he alleged, was crucial to Pakistan’s economic development. India’s Prime Minister has echoed this sentiment. From his perspective, better ties with Pakistan will enable India to concentrate on the “China threat” along its northern and north-eastern borders with that state. Also, the economic benefits to be accrued from a better relationship with Pakistan make it an attractive goal. Unfortunately for both Prime Ministers, though, forces in both countries are working, deliberately or otherwise, against such a resolution of their differences. Attempts at peace-making are no longer a diplomatic issue, but a highly politicised endeavour. (more…)

Diplomatic damage from latest India-Pakistan border clashes August 21, 2013

Posted by nishankmotwani in : By contributor, Future Directions International, Guest authors, India , comments closed

Stephen Westcott

The recent killing of five Indian soldiers by Pakistani troops has put the Indian Government under pressure. The incident is likely to cause the suspension of the scheduled dialogue between the two countries.

Background

On 6 August 2013, five Indian soldiers were shot dead in an ambush in Indian-controlled Kashmir, near the India-Pakistan Line of Control (LoC). While it is unclear who was responsible for the attack, blame has been attributed to either militants backed by the Pakistan Army, or the Pakistani Special Forces themselves. Although Pakistan has denied any involvement and its Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, has sent his condolences over the killings, tensions have markedly increased. Intermittent exchanges of small arms fire across the LoC have occurred throughout the week, wounding several soldiers and civilians. The most recent incident occurred on 11 August, with both sides using machine guns.

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India: corruption affecting investment and economic growth December 13, 2012

Posted by southasiamasala in : Future Directions International, Guest authors, India , comments closed

Gustavo Mendiolaza

Transparency International released the results of its annual Corruption Perceptions Index on 5 December 2012. India was ranked 94 out of 174 countries in corruption, a claim highlighted by the scandals that have hit the Indian National Congress-led government this year.

Background

India, and the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government in particular, have felt increasing pressure over the levels of corruption. This year’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) illustrates that although the situation has improved since last year, an underlying culture of corruption still exists in India. Such endemic corruption may cause a decline in India’s attractiveness for foreign direct investment (FDI).

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Sam recommends ‘Don’t play it safe’ August 12, 2012

Posted by southasiamasala in : Guest authors, India , comments closed

Rajdeep Sardesai

First published in the Hindustan Times on 12 July this year, Rajdeep Sardesai, editor-in-chief , IBN 18 Network, assessed that “Salman Khurshid is easily among the brightest politicians in the country: a former Oxford don, he became a union minister at 38. When he speaks, it is with a certain elegance and intellect that is all too rare in public life today. Which is why when Khurshid suggests ‘Rahul Gandhi has only been seen in cameos of his thoughts and ideas, but he has not woven it into a grand announcement. This is a period of  waiting,’ his remarks must be taken seriously. Khurshid has since been forced to clarify his statement, claiming  he was only urging the Congress’ younger leadership to play a more central role, but his reflections lie truly at the heart of  the UPA’s present dilemma.

A fortnight ago, in these very columns, I had written on the NDA’s leadership crisis: who will be their leader in the next general elections in 2014? What is true of the NDA is equally applicable to the UPA. If the battle between Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar threatens to open a chasm within the opposition, Rahul Gandhi’s seeming reluctance to take greater responsibility within the Congress, has left the ruling alliance in a state of  growing uncertainty.

What are the options if Rahul were to decline to take up the challenge of being the UPA’s prime ministerial nominee? Manmohan Singh will be 82 in 2014, and while being an octogenarian is no disqualification in the ageing world of Indian politics, there is a general belief  that after two full terms as prime minister, Singh may finally be ready for voluntary retirement … ”.

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India struggling January 31, 2012

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Stoddart, Brian , comments closed

Brian Stoddart

First published here on 28 January 2012

India’s test cricket defeat in Adelaide was arguably the very worst of the eight they have now lost in a row while playing away from home.  Melbourne was a poor effort, Sydney worse then Perth was always going to be hard.  Adelaide, though, is a batting track as the Australians demonstrated and as the Indians might have been expected to show.  They capitulated, though.  Their bowling attack was always going to struggle, and that was added to by the reluctance to bring in more spin.  The batsmen were woeful, even if in a terrible showing Sachin Tendulkar had a reasonable enough series given everyone else’s performance.

Predictably, the Indian media is now in full cry with former players of all types (and varying success rates themselves) calling for wholesale change.  As cricket writer and historian Boria Majumdar said in Melbourne before the series started, India takes this very seriously, and a 4-0 humbling will bring national wrath upon the team.  That is because the dominance of cricket has been a sort of avatar for India’s increasing awareness of its rising place more generally in the world.  Every country has used sport like this: New Zealand and rugby, Australia and cricket, Brazil and football are just some obvious examples.  It is always difficult to pin down the nexus between sport and national profile, but there is a sussurus of sentiment that gives people pride in a victory, sadness running to anger in a defeat, especially in a streak of the kind Indian cricket is now in.

There is a curiously stronger than normal analogy between the cricketers and India more generally that is worth contemplation.

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The Indian prime minister’s empty chair October 31, 2011

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Weigold, Auriol , comments closed

Auriol Weigold

Indian and Australian media have trawled backwards and perhaps forwards, over the message to Australia’s Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, in the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh’s decision announced in August, that he would not attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth, taking place this last weekend in October.

Australian print media, notably the Financial Review on 28 October and The Weekend Australian, 29-30 October, have linked Manmohan Singh’s remarkable absence to Australia’s reversal of its agreement to sell uranium to India after Labor won the 2007 election.

Some Indian media were quick to correct that impression, pointing out that their Prime Minister has a heavy schedule of multilateral meetings in November (as has Julia Gillard) but also to indicate that Vice President Hamid Ansari who is in Perth in place of Manmohan Singh is expected to raise the issue of Australian uranium sales again.

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China-India relations: border mechanism may herald southern silk route revival October 28, 2011

Posted by southasiamasala in : DeSilva-Ranasinghe, Serge, Future Directions International, India , comments closed

Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe

First published in Future Directions International on 12 October 2011.

Background

The year 2011 appears to be shaping up as a transformational year in China-India relations. China and India seem to be taking sensible and pragmatic steps towards stabilising relations, which have the potential to herald a new era of prosperity and co-operation in the years ahead. In the latest indication of this improvement, China and India have agreed to create a border mechanism, termed the ‘Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs’, to monitor and diffuse incidents along their shared 4,057 km border.

Comment

The idea was first broached early in April 2011, by Indian PM Dr Manmohan Singh and Chinese President Hu Jintao. There are strong indications that both countries intend to hold the 15th round of border talks by year’s end, which analysts say could lead to the signing of the much-anticipated border agreement. (more…)