Millions of workers strike in India . . .
The Indian government’s proposed reforms in labour laws, which include relaxing the required labour regulation compliances, and the planned sale of several state-owned companies including Air India and Bharat Petroleum Corporation, have led to an uproar among workers. Last Wednesday, around a million workers marched in protest across the country in response to a call for a 24-hour strike by 10 national trade unions. The trade unions are affiliated with various left-wing parties, including the main opposition party – the Indian National Congress (INC). This protest underscores thousands of jobs lost in the manufacturing and construction sectors, and the projected job losses resulting from the planned privatization.
No longer the fastest growing economy . . .
The Indian government released its projections of a 5 per cent GDP growth for the current fiscal year of April 2019 to March 2020. This is a sharp decline from the previous year’s 6.8 per cent, when India ranked as the world’s fastest growing economy. While the economic downturn raises concern for the country with the world’s largest youth population and an uncertain job market, it also does not bode well for the first year in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s second term. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit country report on India, the growth forecasts show a slow revival to an average of 6.3 per cent for fiscal years ending 2021 to 2025. Probable causes for such a decline have been attributed to poor business sentiment, a slump in consumption, and weak investments.
Ideology over economy . . .
The BJP government’s focus on tactics to promote their political ideology over economic benefits was a signature highlight of 2019. Currently, the country is reeling under pressure from violent protests sparked by the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Among the various petitions filed for and against the CAA, the Indian Supreme Court on Thursday refused a plea that sought to declare the CAA as constitutional. Meanwhile, the labour reforms that are intended to attract investment and make business processes in India easier, in a country that is known for being difficult and complex, particularly in regard to labour regulations, have drawn criticism from various quarters. The Eurasia Group has ranked India the fifth most significant “Geopolitical Risk” for 2020 because of these trends. The current situation directly affects India’s foreign policy and should be a matter of concern for Canada.
- Al Jazeera: India’s economy poised for weakest performance since 2013
- Associated Press: Strike by millions of workers hit businesses in India
- The Economist: India’s economy is growing at its slowest pace since 2013