Legislative gridlock spells trouble for India Story

By Niranjan Sahoo
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, August 25, 2015
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At a time when the global economy struggles for revival and most emerging economies are having trouble maintaining high growth, India is surprise. With the economy turning a new leaf to register an unbelievable 7.5 percent in the last quarter, India is attracting global attention.

A year back, many analysts had serious doubts. With the economy touching a record low 4.6 percent for the past decade, pessimists had a field day. Doubters at home wonder if India can maintain sustained high growth momentum over the longer haul. And this pessimism has its roots from country's politics.

In a major blow to the economy, the recent monsoon session of Indian Parliament virtually ended without transacting any legislative business. The Lok Sabha (lower house) and Rajya Sabha (upper house) were paralysed by a combative political opposition demanding the resignation of key minister embroiled in alleged impropriety.

Noisy protests and frequent walkouts by opposition lawmakers to force the government into submission led to frequent adjournments of both houses. The end result was nearly 90 percent of parliamentary time was lost in the logjam. What is important is the bitter political slugfest led to suspension of 25 lower house members, paving the way for more confrontation.

The last time the country had experienced similar legislative washout was in 2010 over similar disputes. Virtually, two consecutive sessions of parliament were lost as the opposition parties led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) paralysed parliamentary proceedings demanding the resignations of key ministers. The Congress Party, the main political opposition now, seems to be paying the BJP in the same coin now. However, a stalled parliament is a disaster for the economy that needs a plenty of bi-partisan support to clear key legislations.

It is widely acknowledged that to maintain high growth, India badly needs to end many of the past growth-retarding laws. From an outdated land acquisition policy to archaic labor laws, India needs a series of third and fourth generation economic reforms to attract investment and enhance its business environment. For over a decade, different governments in Delhi have been trying to pass a Goods and Services Tax (GST) law that would end bizarre array of state level taxes and cess and create a common market for the country.

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