The Modi Government’s budget may have come under scathing criticism for its lack of policies to deal with important social and economic issues like alleviating poverty and helping the dominant sector of the Indian economy – agriculture. However, the national government is leaving no stone unturned to make sure that on the global platform it takes care of the interests of the farmers in India and for this it is taking on the might of the World Trade Organization as well as the developed nations such as the US and Australia.
India takes on WTO to safeguard farmers’ interests
Nirmala Sitharaman, the Union Minister of State for Commerce, has expressed the hope that India will be able to make the WTO see its point of view and reach a mutually agreeable end to an impasse that is threatening to stall what is being seen as a landmark agreement in the offing. India has also asked the global body to be more aware of the problems that are plaguing the developing countries. While it is a praiseworthy move indeed, it remains to be seen how this affects India’s relations with the developed countries that are trying to push this deal.
Modi faces hurdles in going ahead with insurance Bill
The Indian government had proposed a number of changes to the foreign direct investment coming into the insurance sector like the maximum permissible limit being taken to 49 per cent from the previous mark of 26 per cent. This was expected to get in some much needed money into a sector that has been clearly calling out for some in the recent years. The emphasis on having more Indians in the management effectively meant that the important decisions would be taken by Indians. These proposals had been praised by the industry experts but now it seems that the government may have a tough time implementing them.
One of the promises made by Narendra Modi when he was campaigning to be the Prime Minister was to get across reforms that will help bring back the economy on its feet. Till now, the government has made a couple of attempts to get this Bill passed but thanks to the Opposition such efforts have come to pass. Arun Jaitley has convened a meeting of heads of various political outfits in order to arrive at a common ground regarding the amendments. It is just strange that the government could not think of doing this previously – in the last couple of issues such as India’s stance on Israel’s attacks in Gaza and UPSC row it has taken the Opposition’s disruption of parliamentary proceedings that has led it to seek the opinions of its antagonists.
Government’s stand escalates UPSC exam row
In the last couple of days, people who have been aware of the goings-on vis-à-vis the UPSC examination row would have known that the students were resentful of the way the pattern of the said examination had been changed without informing them beforehand about the same and this was what led to their protest. However, now it has come to public notice that the government has excluded the marks secured by a candidate in English as far as determining the merit of a candidate was concerned. As can be expected such an inexplicable decision has attracted a tremendous amount of criticism from well-known social activists as well as erstwhile bureaucrats.
As per the bureaucrats and social activists it is important to have tests for determining the knowledge of candidates in English as well as how good they are in using it. English is included in the second paper of the Civil Service Aptitude Tests (CSAT). As has been pointed out by Naresh Chandra, who has previously served in the capacity of Cabinet Secretary, a Class I officer is supposed to be well conversant in English. Considering the importance of this language in the country as well as across the world it is inexplicable that the government has deigned to take such a step.
MPs seek more consultation on labour law changes
India is one of the countries where there are no proper labour laws and it seems now the politicians are sharing the concern irrespective of the party they are from! On August 5, 2014 the members of the Rajya Sabha stated that there should be proper discussion with the various concerned entities before the present rules are changed in any shape or form. It needs to be remembered in this context that a few days back the Indian government had proposed some strange changes to the labour laws in India.
AU Singh Deo, a leader from BJD, has stated rightly that the labour laws in India need to be reformed so that the workers and professionals alike can enjoy a lot of facilities in their relative workspaces. The factor of taking the stakeholders in confidence was suggested by P Bhattacharya from the Congress. In the week gone by the Indian government had made 54 changes to the Factories’ Act 1948 and amended the Apprenticeship Act, 1961. The Labour Laws (Exemption from Furnishing Returns and Maintaining Registers by Certain Establishments) Act, 1988 was amended then as well.
A case for timely tax refund
The Indian government is supposed to pay in the region of INR 48,069 crore for the purpose of making tax refunds for the financial years 2012-13 and 2013-14. One hopes that this information would have a positive after-effect on people who have been finding reasons to evade paying their taxes. People would be sure of the fact that in case they end up paying more tax than they need to, the government shall be returning the money.
One thing that remains to be seen is by which time the government makes the payment. There could be some people who may have made the payment by exceeding their means and could do very well with a refund. Such people should be paid on a priority basis but the question is will the government be able to recognize their need and accord their cases due importance? If the payment is too late, then there is a good chance that the main purpose of the refund may not be satisfied.