India’s Modi Relaxes Labor Inspections, Reduces Compliance

Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India meets Republican House speaker John Boehner in Washington DC, September 30
Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India meets Republican House speaker John Boehner in Washington DC, September 30 (Caleb Smith)

India’s conservative prime minister, Narendra Modi, introduced a new system for labor inspections on Thursday that he said would be the first step in liberalizing the country’s notoriously inflexible jobs market.

Under the new regime, a computerized system will randomly select companies for inspections. Labor monitors will no longer be allowed to check on businesses at their own discretion, a procedure that is vulnerable to favoritism and abuse.

Inspectors, moreover, will have to upload their reports within three days and will not longer be able to modify their findings thereafter.

Companies should also soon be able to submit a single compliance form for sixteen separate labor laws — online.

“Let’s start with trust,” said Modi in New Delhi where he unveiled the measures. “Ease of business is the first and foremost requirement if ‘Make in India’ has to be made successful.”

With ten million Indians joining the jobs market every year, the country can ill afford to stifle business growth.

High compliance costs also deter small companies from formally employing workers. Estimates are just 8 percent of India’s workers have a formal job with benefits and security. The vast majority is employed informally.

Modi, a Hindu nationalist, was elected in May on promises to restore high growth rates and liberalize the world’s tenth largest economy.

Shared Values Don’t Make an Indo-American Alliance

India’s new prime minister, Narendra Modi, is confident his country can deepen ties with the United States, given the cultural and political similarities that exist between the world’s two largest democracies. But after more than a decade of trying, it should be clear to strategists in both countries that shared values aren’t enough to make an alliance.

In an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria that was broadcast on Sunday, Modi said, “America has absorbed people from around the world” while “there is an Indian in every part of the world. This characterizes both the societies,” he said. “Indians and Americans have coexistence in their natural temperament.”

Modi, who took office in May after his conservative Bharatiya Janata Party won an absolute majority in parliamentary elections earlier this year, admitted that the Indo-American relationship had seen its “ups and downs” through the last century. But “there has been a big change” in the last twenty years, he said. “Our ties have deepened. India and the United States of America are bound together, by history and by culture. These ties will deepen further.”

In what way, Modi didn’t say. Read more “Shared Values Don’t Make an Indo-American Alliance”

India’s Modi Wins Decisive Mandate for Economic Reform

India’s conservative opposition decisively ousted the ruling Congress party in an election that concluded on Monday, results released on Friday showed. Narendra Modi, the chief minister of the western state Gujarat, won an absolute majority of the seats in the lower house of parliament for his Bharatiya Janata Party, giving him a clear mandate to push through economic reforms.

With most of the votes counted, Modi’s party had crossed the 272 seats needed for a majority in parliament. His alliance, which includes smaller right-wing parties, won almost 38 percent of the votes, giving it 318 seats.

Congress, by contrast, looked set to win less than fifty seats of its own, down from 206. Its United Progressive Alliance got less than 24 percent support nationwide. Read more “India’s Modi Wins Decisive Mandate for Economic Reform”

India’s Modi to Unseat Congress, Exit Polls Show

Four exit polls released on Monday showed India’s conservative leader Narendra Modi on track to become the country’s next prime minister. The ruling Congress party, by contrast, could post its worst result in decades.

India’s staged election concluded on Monday with voting in the states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.

A CSDS poll conducted for the CNN-BIN television network put Modi’s alliance at 270 to 282 seats while giving between 92 and 102 to the coalition that is led by Congress.

A Nielsen poll for ABP News had the right at 281 seats while a third, by Cicero for the India Today group, predicted Modi and his supporters would take between 261 and 283 seats. 272 seats are needed to form a government. Read more “India’s Modi to Unseat Congress, Exit Polls Show”

Narendra Modi: The Man to Lead India into Growth

After a decade in power, India’s Congress party appears to have lost both the ability and the will to push through the reforms the country needs to grow and provide jobs for the millions of young Indians who are joining the labor market each year.

The only alternative in the elections that start on Monday is Narendra Modi, the conservative Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate. Read more “Narendra Modi: The Man to Lead India into Growth”

Modi’s Star Rises as Party Defeats India’s Congress in State Elections

India’s conservative leader Narendra Modi appeared to have galvanized his party ahead of a national election next year with impressive gains in the states of Delhi and Rajasthan.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party also held on to its majorities in Chhattisgarh in Madhya Pradesh in central India. Exit polls suggested the ruling Congress party had further lost ground in Mizoram in the northeast but to local parties.

The results were a blow to the party that has ruled India for much of its independence. Especially middle-class voters have grown restless since it last assumed power in 2004. Rising inflation, now at 7 percent, and a string of corruption scandals have undermined confidence in the coalition government it leads. Read more “Modi’s Star Rises as Party Defeats India’s Congress in State Elections”

India’s Conservative Leader Modi Outmaneuvers Rival

After a disastrous election defeat and a stint as absentee leader of the opposition, Lal Krishna Advani finally resigned from India’s opposition conservative party on Monday at the culmination of its national conference held in Goa. That conference was meant to sew up the final minutiae of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s electoral strategy for next year’s general election. The Indian press labeled the resignation as some kind of major churning being set in motion.

Ostensibly this churn is a result of the meteoric rise of Narendra Modi, the supposedly divisive chief minister of Gujarat state. Advani, as the story goes, believed Modi’s divisiveness to be detrimental to the party’s electoral prospects. The reality is that Advani, like most Indian politicians, used identity politics to further his own career. This had little to do with inclusiveness and everything to do with an internal power struggle. Read more “India’s Conservative Leader Modi Outmaneuvers Rival”

Gujarat Election Test for Indian Right’s National Ambitions

In a democracy, charisma and leadership are often overstated. Yet no other form of government needs leadership as much as democracy.

In this sense, India can offer a curious case. Despite having so many regional satraps with mass following, very few have been able to project their clout at the national level. Moreover, one regional satrap is not unusually viewed with suspicion by another so that the general consensus is to have somebody with no mass following at all. Incumbent prime minister Manmohan Singh is a perfect example of this.

Gujarat’s chief minister Narendra Modi defies the rule. The conservative politician has a mass following as well as national appeal. As his state votes in assembly elections next week, Modi’s future will be decades. If he leads the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party to victory once more, he could emerge as the party’s prime ministerial candidate in the next general election. Read more “Gujarat Election Test for Indian Right’s National Ambitions”