Nation
Post assembly elections, time for bold reforms
The just-concluded assembly elections and the unparalleled performance of the BJP have been the highlight of the weekend. The elections, happening mid-way of the partys term at the Centre and coming immediately post-demonetisation, were practically a referendum on Prime Minister Narendra Modis leadership.
 
The party's historic performance in the country's most populous state must have provided him with a sense of vindication and confidence after months of criticism for his bold demonitisation gamble on November 8, 2016. However, the implications of these election results lie far beyond the states and the party. The economy has much to gain or lose depending on the course policy-making takes from here onwards.
 
The magnitude of support shown by voters for the BJP in the states leaves it with a high possibility of being re-elected in the 2019 general elections. The current electoral performance also ensures the party a majority in the Rajya Sabha by 2019, which has been a major hindrance for any productive functioning of the Parliament off late. A sense of continuity and political stability is the best outcome that the nation could have hoped for in times of global uncertainty. The election results act as a positive signalling mechanism for multiple stakeholders in the economy.
 
First, political stability begets economic stability. An assurance of continuity in government policies sends out a positive signal to foreign and domestic investors about the country's economic scenario. No sudden policy shocks to the economy are generally expected to take place in such a situation like the ones taking place in the US right now with the repeal of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Obamacare. This will also ensure a continuity in the functioning of GST, which is expected to be inflationary in its initial years of implementation and can become an electoral issue in 2019.
 
As the world moves towards uncertain protectionism, an economy with a stable political regime and sound economic policies that is welcoming to foreign investors can be a beacon of hope. It can also go a long way in reviving the subdued domestic investor sentiment. Although, the latter will also require bold reforms to deal with the problem of bad debts.
 
This brings us to the second point. The confidence instilled by voters in the party can encourage it to bring about a slew of bold reforms that political parties have been holding back for decades due to the fear of losing political ground. To begin with, the long-standing call for labour reforms can be addressed. Such a move will complement the government's intent on improving the ease of doing business and also inspire investor confidence. Additional Measures can include reforming the direct tax code, introducing a Uniform Civil Code and privatisation of white elephant PSUs. An opportunity to make such radical policy changes that have significant long-term benefits come rarely. The Modi government can do well to capitalise on it.
 
The third significant signal: The Indian vote bank has been infamous for catering to caste politics. Uttar Pradesh has been the epitome of such electoral practices owing to its varied population distribution. On the contrary, in the current elections, the voter base seems to have responded to practical calls for development rather than to an emotional connect of erstwhile rulers of UP's political corridors.
 
The change in voting behaviour highlights two important points. The obsession with caste is losing importance at the ground level, and it is the time that the media and political parties recognise this fact and follow suit. Second, the shift to focus on development signifies the rising aspirations of the Indian population and their rising demand for more jobs and opportunities, which has been promised to them.
 
This is an area that the government has been unable to improve upon along with restoring investor confidence in the country. Now, with a significant portion of north and west India under its belt, cooperation between the Centre and the State and coordination between their policies will be much achieved easily. This is much more true in the case of BJP than it was for earlier ruling parties at the Centre since the state Chief Ministers will recognise the contribution that the Prime Minister has had in their electoral wins and will be wary of resisting any policy suggestions from PMO. Therefore, materialising voter aspirations by improving investor confidence, which will already be given a boost owing to the current political scenario, should be on top of the government's agenda. It now has considerable power to act upon this. 
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Lok Sabha passes amended enemy property bill
The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed a bill to amend a 49-year-old law to guard against claims of succession or transfer by heirs of property left behind by those who migrated to Pakistan and China.
 
The Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2016, which was passed by the Rajya Sabha on March 10 at a time when the opposition benches were almost vacant, was passed by the Lower House with voice vote.
 
The bill had earlier been passed by the Lok Sabha in March last year. It had to be taken up by the House again to approve the amendments made to the bill by the Rajya Sabha.
 
The bill amends the Enemy Property Act, 1968, to vest all rights, titles and interests over enemy property in the custodian and declares transfer of property by the enemy as void.
 
This applies retrospectively to all transfers that have occurred after the Act was passed.
 
One of the controversial provisions of the bill is that it amends the definition of "enemy" and "enemy subject" to include the legal heir(s) or successor(s) of the enemy, even if the latter is a citizen of India or a non-enemy country.
 
According to the new bill, the law of succession will not apply to the legal heir(s) or successor(s) of the enemy.
 
The bill also prohibits civil courts and other authorities from entertaining disputes related to enemy property.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
  

 

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Gopal Ansal to surrender on March 20: SC
The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed Uphaar theatre owner Gopal Ansal's plea not to send him to jail to serve the remaining sentence for the 1997 fire tragedy, but extended his date of surrender by 10 days.
 
A bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice A.K. Goel asked Gopal Ansal to surrender on March 20 to serve the nearly seven months in jail.
 
"Appeal dismissed. Accused Gopal Ansal will surrender to serve (the) remaining sentence...," said the bench.
 
The bench refused to accept Gopal Ansal's plea seeking parity with elder brother Sushil Ansal, who was let off with the sentence he has already served.
 
Senior advocate Ram Jethmalani appearing for Gopal Ansal even told the court that his "cinema hall has gone" and he was "practically living on some people's help and charity".
 
Gopal Ansal was to surrender by March 9 to serve the remaining sentence in jail. He had earlier served four months of his one-year sentence.
 
Gopal Ansal is co-accused along with his brother Sushil Ansal in the Uphaar cinema fire tragedy case in which 59 persons were killed.
 
The apex court on February 9 sentenced the builder to one year in jail. He said the court could not deny him the same relief extended to Sushil Ansal because his medical condition too was "equally precarious".
 
Sushil Ansal's age and ailments were taken into consideration while not sending him to prison. 
 
Gopal Ansal sought modification of the order which asked him to serve the remaining sentence, citing his hearing impairment due to which he claimed he has fainted several times.
 
The apex court also dismissed the plea of the Association for Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT), which opposed Gopal Ansal's plea.
 
The court accepted contentions of senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), that review pleas of the CBI and the association have already been decided and there cannot be a review of the review judgement.
 
Expressing "genuine remorse" for those who died in the "unfortunate tragedy", Gopal Ansal contended that he had borne the punishment more than he deserved.
 
The court had said that since Gopal Ansal, 69, did not suffer any age-related complications, as was the case with Sushil Ansal, 77, there could be no principle of parity and he must spend one year in prison.
 
The Ansals, who co-owned the Uphaar cinema in south Delhi, were held guilty of "criminal negligence" but escaped jail terms beyond a few months after the top court's 2015 order.
 
A huge fire broke out at the Uphaar when Hindi movie "Border" was being screened on June 13, 1997. Trapped inside, 59 persons died of asphyxia and over 100 were injured in a stampede.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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