News / Asia

    India Hit by Nationwide Strike Over Economic Reforms

    Demonstrators from the Samajwadi Party, a regional political party, shout slogans after they stopped a passenger train during a protest near Allahabad railway station, September 20, 2012. Demonstrators from the Samajwadi Party, a regional political party, shout slogans after they stopped a passenger train during a protest near Allahabad railway station, September 20, 2012.
    x
    Demonstrators from the Samajwadi Party, a regional political party, shout slogans after they stopped a passenger train during a protest near Allahabad railway station, September 20, 2012.
    Demonstrators from the Samajwadi Party, a regional political party, shout slogans after they stopped a passenger train during a protest near Allahabad railway station, September 20, 2012.
    Anjana Pasricha
    In India, a day-long nationwide strike called by political parties from both the left and right to protest a fuel price hike and other economic reforms has disrupted life.  The strike comes as the government grapples with political uncertainty.         

    Tens of thousands of slogan-shouting protesters marched through streets in major cities, shops closed and transport services were disrupted in some places. 

    But, although cities in opposition strongholds such as Bangalore and Kolkata virtually came to halt.  But businesses remained open in other cities, such as the capital, New Delhi, and the financial hub, Mumbai. 

    At rallies, leaders of the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party and Left parties shared the same stage as they denounced a recent government decision to hike diesel prices and allow foreign retail chains such as Walmart to open outlets in India.

    The protesters want the government to rollback these two decisions - the most controversial of a series of sweeping economic reforms announced last week. Allies of the Congress-led government also backed the stir. 

    Retail reforms

    Murli Manohar Joshi, a senior leader of the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, says the entry of supermarket chains such as Walmart will open the floodgates to cheap Chinese goods in India. He says all poor people including farmers, traders and shopkeepers will suffer.

    Those opposed to the retail reforms say they will result in widespread jobs losses and the closure of millions of mom-and-pop stores which dominate India. 

    Economists say the reforms will revive the flagging economy and boost growth. Political analysts have praised them as bold moves by a government which, until recently, was accused of policy inertia.

    Weakened ruling party

    But the Congress Party, which heads the ruling alliance, is politically isolated in pushing the reform agenda. Its largest ally has pulled out of the government, reducing it to a minority.

    That has turned the focus on how and if the government will survive until general elections in 2014.    

    The government appears unfazed and is standing firm.

    “We have support of enough members of parliament and we have support of enough friendly parties, both within and outside the coalition," said Salman Khurshid, India’s law minister. "We should not worry about this. Important thing, what we should now be concentrating on is, what this country needs. have tried to give to this country what will give us massive strides in growth."

    Political analysts say opposition parties will press ahead with their campaign against the reforms as they seek to exploit popular anger ahead of a series of state elections, later this year and national elections.

    You May Like

    Republicans Struggle With Reality of Trump Nomination

    Despite calls for unity by presumptive presidential nominee, analysts see inevitable fragmentation of party ahead of November election and beyond

    Spanish Warrants Point to Russian Govt. Links to Organized Crime

    Links to several Russians, some of them reputedly close Putin associates, backed by ‘very strong evidence,’ Spanish judge says

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    Iraq needs stable, central government to push back against Islamic State, US says, but others warn that Baghdad may not have unified front any time soon

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora