Sunday March 24, 2019
Home India Most Nepalese...

Most Nepalese now unhappy with Modi

0
//

Kathmandu: Just a year ago when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed 10 agreements with Nepal and launched a bus service between the two countries, his popularity soared and soared. It is a different story now.

The reason is not hard to comprehend after talking to locals facing the brunt of blockages at the country’s entry points along India’s border that has caused widespread shortages in the landlocked nation.

“It’s a self-managed economic blockade by our long-time friend India,” said Deepak Shah, a shopkeeper in Kathmandu.

Shah said that New Delhi was retaliating against the Nepalese government since it approved a new constitution not to India’s liking.

“The Modi government sees the new constitution as discriminatory to one ethnic Indian community, Madhesis, who are settled along our borders (with India),” he said.

Shah’s sentiments were echoed by 35-year-old housewife Bimla Baidhya.

“The BJP-led Indian government is wooing Madhesis in Bihar where elections are due,” she said. Bihar along with Uttar Pradesh shares a long border with Nepal.

Many Nepalese say they are skipping one or two meals a day owing to a huge shortage of cooking gas in Kathmandu.

Cab driver Pradip Sapkota said China was the new friend of Nepal.

“We will get all our fuel and ration from China now. Even when the earthquake hit this country (in April), China proved to be a more trusted friend than India,” he added.

Picking holes in Modi’s address in Japan, college going Bikash Shrestha said his speeches in Nepal and Japan showed his diplomatic colours.

“When he was in Kathmandu (in August 2014), he said Lord Buddha was born in Nepal. But a month later when he visited Japan he said ‘India is a land of Buddha’. We don’t take it as a slip of tongue,” she said.

Shortly after assuming office in 2014, Modi made a high-fanfare visit to Kathmandu — the first by an Indian prime minister in 17 years.

The Madhesi parties from the Terai region bordering India have been protesting at Nepal’s entry points to build pressure on the government to meet their demands to amend the new constitution.

Nepalese officials say 70 percent of their trade comprises mainly essential goods such as fuel and cooking gas and comes from India.

There is another side to the crisis in Nepal.

People here have formed car pools to overcome the fuel shortage resulting from the blockades along India’s border with Nepal.

Long queues in front of petrol pumps, shortage of essential commodities resulting in price rise, lack of public transportation and cramped buses are common sights across Nepal since the new constitution came into being on September 20.

To overcome the problems, the government has rationed fuel — 10 litres a week for cars and three litres for a motorbike.

For some, the fuel shortage is a positive thing.

“Now there is not too much vehicular congestion on the streets of Kathmandu. A majority of people walk. This improves their health and also checks pollution,” octogenarian Dalip Rana said.

On Sunday, Nepal got some relief as over 100 trucks, stranded on the Indian border for over 10 days with essential and petroleum goods, entered the country.

 

(Vishal Gulati, IANS)

Next Story

Are There Enough Jobs In Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Led India?

“More young people are entering the labor force, millions want to leave agriculture but can’t find construction work because construction activity has slowed down because the investment rate in the economy has slowed down.”

1
VOA
Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party dismisses concerns about the job data saying it does not capture the real picture because it focuses only on the 15 percent of Indians who work in the formal economy. Pixabay

For people streaming in from rural areas around New Delhi, the first stop is a collection of busy city intersections where contractors select daily wage labor from the crowds of young and old waiting every morning to get work.

Many standing at these intersections say they get work for barely half the month. “I have the ability to work hard. I never turn down any work. But I would prefer to get a cleaner, permanent job,” says 29-year-old Tek Chand. “The problem is one day I have money to buy rations, the next day I don’t.” Like millions of others, he migrated from his village three years ago to seek work and a better life in the city.

FILE - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, arrives with his cabinet colleagues on the opening day of the budget session of the Indian Parliament, in New Delhi, Jan. 31, 2019.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, arrives with his cabinet colleagues on the opening day of the budget session of the Indian Parliament, in New Delhi, Jan. 31, 2019. VOA
As India prepares for general elections on April 11, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is being attacked by opposition parties for failing to make good on a promise he made in 2014 to create millions of jobs for India’s huge young population. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party rebuts that criticism and says India is generating new opportunities as it becomes one of the world’s fastest growing major economies.

Job creation is a massive challenge for a nation with one of the world’s youngest populations — half the country’s 1.3 billion people are under the age of 25.

Recent data shows that joblessness has soared to record high levels. Opposition parties have made joblessness one of their principal election planks and have accused the prime minister of failing the estimated 8 to 10 million young people who enter the workforce every year.

The independent Mumbai-based Center for Monitoring Indian Economy estimates that unemployment reached 7.2 percent last month and that 11 million jobs were lost in 2018. With a working population of 500 million, that translates into more than 30 million people waiting for jobs. An unpublished official survey that showed unemployment at a 45-year-high has also been widely quoted by Indian media.

India's main opposition Congress party President Rahul Gandhi speaks during a public meeting at Adalaj in Gandhinagar, India, March 12, 2019.
India’s main opposition Congress party President Rahul Gandhi speaks during a public meeting at Adalaj in Gandhinagar, India, March 12, 2019. VOA

On the campaign trail, the head of the main opposition Congress Party, Rahul Gandhi, who is seen as Modi’s principal challenger, talks repeatedly about a “jobs crisis.”

“Our government is refusing to accept that we have a massive crisis and potential disaster in front of us,” Gandhi told a group of university students in New Delhi recently, many who will be first time voters.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party dismisses concerns about the job data saying it does not capture the real picture because it focuses only on the 15 percent of Indians who work in the formal economy. It points to a recent industry report that jobs have been created in the medium and small sectors.

The BJP says millions of people have found work in the transport and infrastructure sectors or as delivery boys in booming online businesses as India becomes one of the world’s fastest growing major economies. They point out that the issue is not jobs but livelihoods, and point to millions of people who are not counted in job data.

They are self-employed people like cab owner Chain Pal Singh. As the app based taxi business boomed, Singh’s friend, who operated a cab, persuaded him to quit his job and take out a loan to buy a car. His decision has paid off — in four years he has earned enough money to invest in two more cabs.

Singh says he is much better off than when he held a job. “I used to earn about $225 dollars a month. Now in some months I can earn almost double that amount. Its beneficial for me.”

Following defeats in key state elections in December, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told parliament last month, “This truth has to be acknowledged. The unorganized sector has 80 to 85 percent of the employment.” He pointed to millions of commercial vehicles sold in recent years and questioned if they had not generated jobs for drivers.

Economists admit India’s large informal sector has made it difficult to calculate employment, but they say joblessness or underemployment remains the country’s biggest challenge. While scarcity of jobs is not a new problem, two disruptive economic steps in the last two years exacerbated the problem.

In 2016 a sweeping currency ban meant to tackle the problem of illegal cash, dried up jobs as it created huge currency shortages, particularly in small businesses and in the countryside. A poorly-implemented tax reform known as the Goods and Services Tax a few months later was another blow to businesses.

Meanwhile, Modi’s “Made in India” campaign, which aimed at making India a manufacturing hub like China, has made a slow start and sluggish labor-intensive sectors cannot cater to growing numbers of job seekers.

“We can’t keep patting ourselves on the back that we are the fastest growing economy specially if all these other indicators are not growing at a rate that will absorb the growing labor force,” says Santosh Mehrotra, a human development economist at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.

“More young people are entering the labor force, millions want to leave agriculture but can’t find construction work because construction activity has slowed down because the investment rate in the economy has slowed down.”

Also Read: The Mental Health ‘Epidemic’: About Six in Ten Teen Say, They Feel A Lot Of Pressure To Get Good Grades

He points out that exports, another sector that created a number of jobs has also not been performing well.

As the campaign heats up, the opposition will try to keep the spotlight on jobs, or lack of them, even as the BJP tries to focus on national security following a recent confrontation with Pakistan. The final verdict on whether to give Prime Minister Modi a second term in office will be delivered by millions of voters when they cast their ballots. (VOA)

One response to “Are There Enough Jobs In Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Led India?”

  1. If the employment picture is bleak despite the construction of so many more Kilometers of roads, railways, air ports, bridges, toilets and other infrastructures compared to the five or even ten years of UPA government, imagine where we would be if we had UPA III government .