Citizens' Issues
Jaswant Singh is NDA's Vice Presidential candidate

After coining many names, the NDA chose BJP leader Jaswant Singh as its vice-presidential candidate against UPA nominee Hamid Ansari

New Delhi: Putting behind differences on the issue of Presidential poll candidate, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) on Monday unanimously chose Jaswant Singh as its vice-presidential candidate, reports PTI

Singh will contest against United Progressive Alliance (UPA) nominee Hamid Ansari, who had earned the opposition's ire during the Lokpal Bill debate in Rajya Sabha.

After a meeting of NDA partners in New Delhi, its working chairman LK Advani announced that Jaswant Singh has been chosen as the coalition's vice-presidential candidate.

Advani said the NDA was opposing Ansari for his 'conduct' in the Rajya Sabha during the Lokpal Bill debate when he had 'abruptly' adjourned the House.

NDA will solicit support of parties like AIADMK, BJD and others for Singh, Advani said. He did not rule out talking to UPA ally TMC on the matter. TMC had proposed the names of Gopal Krishna Gandhi and Krishna Bose as possible candidates and is yet to clarify if it will vote for Ansari.

BJP tried to use the Vice-Presidential election as an opportunity to mend its ties with ally JD(U)- which has openly differed with the party on several issues including support to UPA Presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee. It had reached out to JD(U) President Sharad Yadav to become NDA's Vice-presidential candidate.

"Sharad Yadav's name had come up in the public domain as a possible candidate for vice-president. Sushma Swaraj had talked to him day before yesterday and requested him to consider. But he said his nature does not permit as today he is engaged in active politics freely and this post will hamper it," Advani said.

74-year-old Singh's name then came up as an "unanimous" choice and all NDA partners, including Shiv Sena, agreed.

Shiv Sena is supporting Pranab Mukherjee in the presidential election but had agreed to support the NDA even before Singh's name was announced. Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut was present in today's NDA meeting.

Sources said though Singh was initially reluctant to contest as the UPA has the numbers and Ansari is set to get another term as Vice-President, he was convinced by the BJP leaders to enter the fray.

Asked about the issue, Advani said, "Had he (Jaswant Singh) not agreed we would not have announced his name." Pointing towards Sharad Yadav, Advani said he had not agreed and so Singh was chosen.

Welcoming the announcement, Singh said it is a matter of great respect that NDA has unanimously chosen him as its candidate. "This is a big responsibility and also a challenge... We (NDA) are here as one force... I thank the NDA for giving me this responsibility."

Singh, who is an MP from Darjeeling, was expelled from the BJP in August 2010 when he had praised Pakistan-founder M A Jinnah in his book- "Jinnah: India, Partition, Independence". He was re-inducted into the party by BJP Chief Nitin Gadkari in 2011.

Advani told reporters that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had called him and other top BJP leaders to solicit support for Ansari. "The PM called me about five minutes before announcing the UPA Vice-Presidential candidate. It was only like following a custom."

Advani said he had conveyed to the Prime Minister that NDA has objection to Ansari's name as he had abruptly adjourned the Rajya Sabha during the Lokpal debate. "I told him that we have our reservations and disinclination (towards Ansari's candidature)," Advani said.

NDA also said that its reservations on Ansari's candidature are due to the manner in which the Women's Reservation Bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha.

"Sharad Yadav pointed out in our meeting that when the Women's Reservation Bill was to be passed, a large number of marshals were brought in to take out members opposed to the Bill. This is not acceptable to anybody. So we decided to oppose Ansari," Advani said, adding the NDA had unanimously decided not to give a "walkover" to the UPA.

Sources said today's NDA meeting began with a discussion on Yadav's candidature. However, when he did not agree the name of Najma Heptullah was also proposed. She had met Sharad Yadav sometime back to garner support for her candidature.

But BJP leaders said she is not keen on contesting now as she had fought and lost against Ansari in 2007.

It was then that Jaswant Singh's name was proposed by the BJP and accepted by all allies.

"Had he (Yadav) agreed to contest, the situation would have been different," Advani told reporters after the meeting.


Inflation declines to 7.25% in June; food prices harden

Easing of inflation has raised some hopes of cut in interest rate by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) at its monetary policy review later this month

New Delhi: Inflation declined to 7.25% in June as prices of manufactured items eased a little, although vegetables, wheat and pulses became costlier, reports PTI.


Inflation, as measured by the Wholesale Price Index (WPI), was 7.55% in May. In June last year, it was 9.51%.


Overall food inflation rose to 10.81% in June, from 10.74% in May. In June last year, inflation rate in this category was 7.6%. Food articles have 14.3% share in the WPI basket.


In the manufactured items category, prices of cotton textile, rubber and plastic products, iron and machinery eased a little year-on-year basis.


The rate of price rise in the manufactured products was 5% in June, as against 7.9% in the same month last year. In May this year, it was 5.02%.


In food articles category, rice turned expensive by 6.70% in June, wheat 7.46%, pulses 6.82% and vegetables by 20.48% on annual basis.


On month-on-month basis, poultry chicken prices were up by 7%, gram 6%, masur 4%, and fruits & vegetables, egg, arhar, rice by 2% each. Tea, milk, wheat and mutton were up 1% each.


Easing of inflation has raised some hopes of cut in interest rate by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) at its monetary policy review later this month.


Meanwhile, inflation for April has been revised upwards to 7.50%, from the provisional estimate of 7.23%.


Brazil: B in BRIC stands for bust

Brazil is confronted by slowdowns in its major export markets together with a home grown credit mess. It is doubtful that it can save itself, much less the rest of the world

In February 2011, I wrote a piece about what I thought was a credit bubble in Brazil. I thought that the problem was serious and that it could potentially lead to a collapse. Most other commentators felt that there wasn’t really a problem. For example, I quoted a former central banker, Arminio Fraga, who said that there wasn’t an issue. He said “We may have traces of sub-prime in the system... I don’t think it has gone that far.” He was wrong.


Since the crash, emerging markets have helped to spur global growth. The faith in their ability to continue growing seems eternal. On 12th July, I saw a new report from Ernst & Young that suggests emerging markets will save the slowing world economy and provide a new engine of growth. It is all rather sad, because they won’t. An excellent example is Brazil.


Brazil was fortunate in that it really did not see many of the problems that hurt most of the world during the recession. When most countries were contracting in 2008 to 2009, it grew 5%. Its growth continued to climb to 7.5%. But the party is ending. This year it is expected to grow only 2%. In fact, it will be lucky to achieve even that. To see the reason why, we must look at why Brazil was able to do so well.


Brazil’s growth has been based on its vast wealth in commodities. One of Brazil’s principal exports is iron ore, which almost tripled between 2007 and 2011. The projected demand was so great that Vale, the Brazilian mining giant, began to build a fleet of massive ships to carry the ore. These ships, appropriately called Valemax, are about 400,000 tonnes among the largest ships ever built. Brazil is also particularly rich in agricultural commodities of all sorts. Thanks to demand and global warming, the prices for these commodities have been between 50% and 100% higher than they were in the previous decade.


Although weather did play a part, the prices for Brazil’s commodities would not have been as spectacular had it not been for the demand from China. China’s often double-digit growth has pulled in raw materials of every variety, sending prices to new heights. Normally the anaemic growth of the developed world would have limited the demand, but China and other emerging markets set the pace. This year China replaced the United States as Brazil’s main trading partner, a change now common throughout the emerging markets.


Like all the emerging markets, the economy in Brazil is dominated by the state. US style capitalism is considered too radical and unfair. The former president, Luiz Inácio Lula, was once a labour leader and relied heavily on state-led consumption. Under his administration the state banks’ loan growth grew by 50% in 2009 alone, five times more than the private banks. He also encouraged consumers and the new middle class to go on a borrowing binge, which they did. The result was that consumer credit doubled in five years. This led to a real estate bubble and a debt service burden for consumers of 24%, much higher than the pre crash peak of 14% in the US.


 But despite the predictions of economists like Ernst & Young and Jim O’Neill of Goldman Sachs, no economy grows forever. The three main pillars of Brazil’s growth, commodities, China and credit are beginning to collapse.


I have been writing for some time about the problems in China. Most economists have predicted a soft landing, which I objected to last November. Despite the optimism, the ‘landing’ has been getting harder every day. The fall in China’s economic growth has accelerating since it reached its peak in 2010. In the most recent quarter it fell from 8.1% to 7.6%. Some experts believe it could be even worse.


The slowdown in China has affected all sorts of commodity prices. Imports of commodities into China grew only 6.3% in June, half the forecast rate. The only reason it may have grown at all was to provide collateral for an enormous credit bubble. The slowdown in commodities will impact heavily on many countries rich in commodities like Chile, Australia and perhaps most of all, Brazil.


The end of the commodity boom will only worsen the collapse of the credit bubble. Loans overdue by 90 days hit 6%—the highest since records were started in 2000 and higher than the previous peak in 2009. The default rate is particularly troubling in a time of low unemployment. It also limits the scope for stimulus as banks refuse to lend.


Recessions can begin in a number of ways. Brazil is now confronted by slowdowns in its major export markets together with a home grown credit mess. It is doubtful that it can save itself much less the rest of the world.


(William Gamble is president of Emerging Market Strategies. An international lawyer and economist, he developed his theories beginning with his first hand experience and business dealings in the Russia starting in 1993. Mr Gamble holds two graduate law degrees. He was educated at Institute D'Etudes Politique, Trinity College, University of Miami School of Law, and University of Virginia Darden Graduate School of Business Administration. He was a member of the bar in three states, over four different federal courts and has spoken four languages. Mr Gamble can be contacted at [email protected] or [email protected].)


We are listening!

Solve the equation and enter in the Captcha field.

To continue

Sign Up or Sign In


To continue

Sign Up or Sign In



The Scam
24 Year Of The Scam: The Perennial Bestseller, reads like a Thriller!
Moneylife Magazine
Fiercely independent and pro-consumer information on personal finance
Stockletters in 3 Flavours
Outstanding research that beats mutual funds year after year
MAS: Complete Online Financial Advisory
(Includes Moneylife Magazine and Lion Stockletter)