Regulations
President Mukherjee asks government to avoid frequent Ordinances

The President’s views assume significance in the context of the Modi Government promulgating nine Ordinances, after Parliament was paralysed in the winter session

 

President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday asked the ruling and Opposition parties to put their heads together and arrive at a workable solution, apparently to avoid frequent issuing of Ordinances.
 
In comments that have come against the backdrop of a raging debate on a spate of Ordinances promulgated by the Narendra Modi-led government, the President acknowledged that the Constitution provided for promulgation of an Ordinance in extraordinary situations but this route cannot and should not be taken for normal legislation.
 
Addressing faculty and students of central universities and research institutions through video-conferencing, he referred to situations when the ruling party may not have a majority in the Rajya Sabha, but felt a joint session of Parliament to make up for numbers to enact laws “is not practical.”
 
“It is the responsibility of the entire political establishment to put their heads together and work out a workable solution.
 
“The Opposition can oppose, expose and possibly depose, if they have the numbers. But always keep in mind, it is the collective responsibility of the elected members of the House, whether directly elected to the Lok Sabha or through States in the Rajya Sabha...
 
“I ask the political establishment to engage in a dialogue and resolve their differences,” he said in reply to questions on his views on frequent resort to ordinance route by the Executive.
 
The President’s views assume significance in the context of the Modi Government promulgating nine Ordinances, including on opening the insurance sector to higher foreign investment, after Parliament was paralysed in the winter session.
 

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Panagariya’s prescription - Part III: Infrastructure & Urban Development

In a speech in February last year Arvind Panagariya, the vice chairman of NITI Aayog had expressed rather radical ideas of reform for infrastructure sector and urban development. Will they be too hot for the PM? This is the third part of a multi-part series 

 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi appointed his long-time supporter, economist and professor Arvind Panagariya as the vice chairman of National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog. As we mentioned in the first part, Pangariya, as an economist is known for his radical views on reforms. Now, since he is the vice-chairman of NITI Aayog, it would be interesting to see, if PM Modi subscribes to these views and actually implement it.
 
Panagariya while speaking at the CD Deshmukh Memorial Lecture 'A Reform Agenda for India's New Government' on 11 February 2014, almost described a blue print for reforms and growth. Panagariya mentioned infrastructure as an important element in paving the way for the growth of manufacturing, but said this is a subject that requires separate consideration. Especially, for urban development, he suggested a relook into laws governing the conversion of land from one use to another, a generous floor space index, reform of rental laws, and sales of unused land held by public bodies.
 
INFRASTRUCUTRE 
The NITI Aayog’s vice-chairman had said, improved infrastructure including roads, railways, ports and electricity is essential for manufacturing growth. Because profit margins per worker are low in sectors where labour costs are 80% or more of the total costs, it is important that transportation and electricity are available to entrepreneurs at competitive rates, Panagariya added.
 
Highways
Highway construction, which had achieved great momentum under the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), fizzled out under the UPA. According to an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government on 1 July 2013, half of the national highways constructed in the preceding 32 years have been constructed under NDA rule. 
 
With growth having expanded the need for transportation, businesses as well as ordinary citizens find bottlenecks on highways everywhere. The next government will need to return to highway construction big time again. It will need to work toward widening the existing highways as well as building new expressways.
 
Railways
Railways offer a far cheaper mode of freight movement than road transportation. Good progress had been made during the tenure of the first UPA government but the focus shifted almost entirely to passenger trains and keeping fares low under UPA II. The next government must return to building railway transportation on an expanded scale.
 
Ports
India needs to cut the turnaround time at its ports to international levels to allow companies to take advantage of global markets. In today’s world of just in-time delivery, delay of even a few hours can cost a company its contract.
 
Electricity
This is by far the most important sector in need of attention. A measure of how far behind India has fallen in the provision of electricity is that in 2003, per capita electricity consumption in India and Vietnam was equal but by 2008 the latter had pulled ahead by more than 40%. The gap today is probably larger. 
 
It is well known that according to the 2011 Census, one-third of Indian households lacked electricity. It is not possible for employment-intensive manufacturing to flourish without the steady flow of electricity at competitive prices. 
 
In 2003, the government had initiated a major reform of the electricity sector via the Electricity Act. Unfortunately, the reforms under this Act were never fully implemented, with some provisions reversed by the UPA government. The next government will need to return to completing those reforms. It will also need to ensure that bottlenecks in getting coal and gas to electricity generation companies are removed. Private companies must be given entry to mine coal with the eventual goal of privatizing coal mines.
 
URBAN DEVELOPMENT
Cities, large and small, are the ultimate symbol of transformation and modernization. They attract workers from the farm sector to industry and services in search of good jobs, as graphically illustrated by the experience of cities such as Delhi and Mumbai. However, often industrialization itself turns rural areas into urban areas, as exemplified by Gurgaon. 
 
The government has an essential role to play in promoting healthy urban life and the facilitation of urbanization. India must rapidly build many more new cities and also improve the living conditions in the cities. The latter requires rapid transit in all large cities.
 
However, India also needs to work on the provision of low-cost rental housing in urban areas so that it avoids the creation of new slums. As discussed in greater detail in Panagariya, Chakraborty and Rao (2014, chapter 7), this will require looking into laws governing the conversion of land from one use to another, a generous floor space index, reform of rental laws, and sales of unused land held by public bodies.
 
The ability of local bodies to provide water, sanitation and solid waste management services will need to be greatly strengthened. This will require some coordination across Central, state and local governments.     
 

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COMMENTS

Jyoti Dua

2 years ago

The article reflects the present situations and suggests the policies need to be adopted for future. Good one.

Krishna Tirath surprises Congress by joining BJP

Krishna Tirath is the third high profile woman to have joined the BJP ahead of 7th February Delhi assembly elections after former IPS officer Kiran Bedi and ex-AAP leader Shazia Ilmi

 

Former union minister and Congress leader from Delhi Krishna Tirath on Monday joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). This would embarrass Congress, which lashed out at BJP for importing leaders in desperation ahead of Delhi assembly election.
 
Tirath, a Congress veteran from Delhi, was welcomed in the party fold by BJP chief Amit Shah with a bouquet of flowers.
 
The former minister for Woman and Child Development in Manmohan Singh-led government was accompanied by in-charge of party affairs in Delhi Prabhat Jha and city unit BJP president Satish Upadhyay.
 
"It is a question of ideology. I met BJP President Amit Shah to serve the people.... I have come with this aim," Tirath, who was a member of the Delhi Legislative Assembly between 1984-2004 and the North West Delhi MP from 2004 till 2014, said after meeting Shah.
 
On what would be her role in the BJP, she said the party chief will decide that and added, "My role will be towards public service."
 
Congress appeared to be taken aback by Tirath's move to desert the party. Congress leader Ajay Maken said it showed the "nervousness and desperation" of BJP, which is ready to bring any leader in the party fold ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi's rally evoked a "lukewarm" response.
 
"They have to import leaders from other parties because they have no faith in their own leaders," he said.
 
Tirath is the third high profile woman to have joined the BJP in the past week ahead of 7th February Delhi assembly elections after former IPS officer Kiran Bedi and ex-AAP leader Shazia Ilmi.
 
BJP welcomed Tirath's move with party's national secretary Shrikant Sharma saying, "leaders of other parties are inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's agenda of development and want to see that Delhi develops as a world-class city and that is why they are joining BJP."
 
Tirath's joining BJP is viewed as an attempt by the party to woo dalit voters in the national capital.
 
Shah too had started his poll campaign by addressing a dalit rally.
 
Delhi has 12 reserved seats of which a majority were won by the AAP in the last assembly polls in 2013, with BJP winning only two while Congress got one.
 
Tirath was earlier a member of the Delhi Assembly and a Minister in the Shiela Dikshit-led Delhi government having portfolios of Social Welfare, SC & ST and Labour & Employment.
 
She has been a former Deputy Speaker of Delhi Legislative Assembly and a former Chairperson of Delhi Scheduled Castes Financial and Development Corporation (DSFDC).
 
Tirath was the North West Delhi MP since 2004 and has been Minister of State (Independent Charge) Women and Child Development in the previous UPA government.
 

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