Wednesday November 21, 2018
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Manmohan Singh slams economic policies of Modi government

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New Delhi: Former prime minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday slammed the policies of the Narendra Modi government, saying economy faces fragile recovery, there was inadequate job creation and uncertainty ahead for public enterprises.

Addressing the 31st plenary session of Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) here, he said there was dissatisfaction among workers over “anti-labour and unimaginative economic policies of the NDA government”.

“The trade union movement has to be aware that at present Indian economy faces a fragile recovery and inadequate expansion of employment opportunities. Public enterprises face an uncertain future,” he said, adding employment-oriented programmes such as Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act face reduced allocations.

“In the name of structural labour reforms, efforts are being made to reduce the scope for secure industrial jobs in favour of contract labour and hire and fire approach. It is generally agreed that we need at least 500 million skilled workers by 2022. The actual pace on the ground is only a fraction of this target,” he said.

Manmohan Singh said industrial strife, strikes and lockouts were not the best means to resolve unrest.

“We must enlarge the available space for resolving industrial problems through peaceful dialogue involving all the stakeholders of the tripartite process – namely workers, industry and government.”

He said Congress has always believed that trade union movement is an integral part of social democracy and every encouragement ought to be provided to promote collective bargaining to secure for labour a just and fair share of development’s benefits, but the movement has to take into account fast-changing social and economic conditions and make an objective assessment of the present regime’s economic and social policies and their implications for the working classes.

Noting that removing poverty was a major task before the country and requires a high rate of economic growth and a rapid increase in employment opportunities, Manmohan Singh said there was a broad consensus that India’s economy needs to grow at an annual rate of about eight percent and there should be productive new job opportunities for 10-12 million people every year.

He said the trade union movement can play a very important role in ensuring that the growth process is both inclusive as well as environmentally sustainable and INTUC’s agenda of job creation, respect for labour standards and rights at work responds well to these imperatives.

“This visionary agenda rightly focuses on providing productive job opportunities to young workers, ensure zero gender discrimination, and expanding the frontiers of social security focusing on health, education and housing and guarantee of freedom of association and collective bargaining,” he said.

He called on INTUC to expand its coverage to cover more workers in the unorganised sectors such as agriculture and construction and pay particular attention to needs of women workers. INTUC, which came into existence in 1947, must also play a more important role in programmes relating to workers education and skill development, he added.

(IANS)

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India Begins Its Election Season With Five States

The BJP has sent top leaders to campaign in Chhattisgarh.

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India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he addresses the gathering during the 'Global Mobility Summit' in New Delhi, India, VOA

India began on Monday the first of five state elections to be held in coming weeks, important tests for Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he plots a course that he hopes will ensure him victory in a general election due by May.

Voters in the central state of Chhattisgarh went to the polls on Monday to elect representatives for 18 of the state assembly’s 90 seats in a staggered poll complicated by logistical problems and left-wing guerrillas.

The state of about 26 million people has been ruled by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) since 2003, and he will be hoping to hold on to power.

India, elections
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“Some unholy people have handed guns to children who should have pens in their hands,” Modi told a rally in the state on Friday, referring to the rag-tag guerrillas battling government forces from forest hideouts. “They’ve finished the lives of our tribal children.”

Hundreds of election workers had to be flown in to remote polling stations by helicopter because of the danger posed by the rebels.

Modi called for voters to back his BJP and its vision of “development for all.”

The final phase of voting in Chhattisgarh, which is known for its coal, iron ore and bauxite reserves, will be on Nov. 20.

India,India, elections
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The BJP was the preference of about 43 percent of voters in Chhattisgarh, 7 percentage points ahead of the main opposition Congress party, according to a survey released last week by the Lokniti-Centre for the Study of Developing Societies.

Modi’s other big tests will be in the neighboring central state of Madhya Pradesh, where the BJP is slightly ahead of Congress, according to polls, and in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, where Congress is expected to emerge victorious.

A good performance by the BJP in the elections would help it deflect growing criticism over unemployment and a crisis in the countryside over falling farm prices and wages.

India, elections
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Elections will also be held for assemblies in Telangana in the south and Mizoram in the northeast.

The BJP has sent top leaders to campaign in Chhattisgarh, including Yogi Adityanath, a firebrand Hindu priest and the BJP chief minister in Uttar Pradesh state.

Also Read: PM Narendra Modi Announces Easier Access to Credit

Adityanath has been appealing to the BJP’s Hindu-nationalist base and on Sunday accused the opposition of blocking construction of a temple for Hindu god Ram on a disputed site in Uttar Pradesh.

The destruction of a mosque on the site by a Hindu mob in 1992 sparked deadly riots across the country. (VOA)