Tag Archives: india

Welcome to my day: 10 September 2018 – in the absence of a plan…

Time to start another week, as the Party’s Autumn Conference beckons. Of course, much of the talk will be about the proposed “Momentum for Moderates”. In truth, the Party needs to build a broader coalition of support in order to gain power, and I can’t say that I’m terribly fussed about the terminology, as long as we remain a liberal force in British politics. And no, that doesn’t mean centrist, unless you can anchor centrism somewhere on the political spectrum. But I don’t doubt that there will be numerous contributions over the coming days.

The knives are out for Boris Johnson, …

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India’s demonetisation: a monumental cock-up

Imagine if Theresa came on live TV at three o’clock this afternoon to say that, from seven o’clock this evening, all five and ten pound notes will be banned and cease to have any value as free currency.

There would be mayhem.

Now imagine if such an action was taken in a country with a population twenty times that of the UK, with an economy that is almost entirely cash-based – with virtually no card or internet transactions.

Well that is what happened in India in 2016. I was there just a few days after the announcement. I wrote a “Postcard from India” for LDV, which said:

…we arrived just a couple days after a major monetary change by the government. To wrong-foot terrorists and criminals, there has been a monumentally huge exercise called “demonetisation”, going on across this, the second most populous nation in the world. All the old 500 and 1000 rupee notes have been withdrawn from circulation at two hours’ notice.

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Postcard from India – monumental bank note upheaval

cow-mini-market in Goa by Paul Walter
Paul Walter is now back at home. As is often the case, this postcard arrived after the sender returned to Blighty!

We’ve had an enrapturing holiday in Goa, India. The welcome from the Goan people was wonderful. The beauty of the place was breathtaking.

By coincidence, we arrived just a couple days after a major monetary change by the government. To wrong-foot terrorists and criminals, there has been a monumentally huge exercise called “demonetisation”, going on across this, the second most populous nation in the world. All the old 500 and 1000 rupee notes have been withdrawn from circulation at two hours’ notice.

In the Times of India, Santosh Desai wrote: “86% of the currency in circulation becomes illegal virtually overnight”. That relates to an estimated $210 billion worth of money notes. $210 billion! That is a mind-boggling figure.

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | 1 Comment

Theresa May went to India, and all I got was a lousy T-shirt…

I am one of those people who have often wondered why British governments pay relatively little attention to India. After all, it’s a big country, with an emerging middle class who want to travel, buy luxury goods and send their children to good universities overseas. Why wouldn’t we want to build stronger links with a Commonwealth country that is likely to be one of the world’s largest economies before too long? And yet, the attention of our politicians and diplomats often seems biased towards China.

Frankly though, after Theresa May’s trip to New Delhi and Bengaluru, I almost wish that she …

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Time to start building for Britain

I am currently travelling for a year and am currently visiting India. This vibrant and growing economy has lessons for the UK. Everywhere you go there is building going on. New houses, new factories, new shopping complexes. In addition there is an ongoing repair programme for roads, public buildings, ancient monuments, temples. Sure, India still has slums, some schemes take an age to complete, but the thrust of the country is building for the future.

The government – at national, state and local level – is funding a lot of this work, in conjunction with the private sector and heritage and other charities and voluntary groups. What is clear is that government in all its forms has no problem with taxing its citizens and spending a chunk of the money on improving infrastructure, growing the economy, providing jobs and encouraging tourism. Compare that with Brexit UK. Governments of all hues have spent decades convincing us that tax is wicked and must under no circumstances be increased – especially for the rich – and that cuts in public services are vital for the health of the economy. As a result the building trade is on its knees, there is a chronic shortage of houses, public services are being trashed, the NHS is in crisis and vital infrastructure repairs and improvements are being put off into the distant future.

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Flood protection or overseas aid? A false choice

Help UK
Over the festive period, I saw the image on the right on a social media site, stating, against a backdrop of flooded housing:

It’s time to STOP sending money abroad and help people in the UK now. LIKE, COMMENT or SHARE if you agree?

A comment under the image mentioned:

…the 250 million we are giving to India to fund their Space Programme.

Oh dear. Where to start? Call me an old pedant, but I’m naturally suspicious of any entreaty which feels the need to include block capitals. But that’s just one of my little foibles.

My mind boggled at the idea that we are giving “250 million” to India to fund their Space Programme. It took just a quick Google to see where that came from. Our old friend the Daily Mail had a remarkably thoroughly, if one-sidedly, researched article on 15th February 2015 which was headlined as follows:

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Lynne Featherstone writes on violence against women in India and Burma

Since 2010 I’ve had the pleasure of serving as the UK’s ministerial champion for tackling violence against women and girls (VAWG) overseas – a role that’s followed me from the Home Office to Department for International Development and back, which makes sense. It’s a clear sign that as well as our commitment to tackling violence against women and girls in the UK, this Coalition Government is committed to working internationally to end this global problem.

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A postcard from… Chennai

Here in the LDV office, we’ve received another postcard from Baroness Ros Scott. Typically, she’s arrived long before the postcard did…

The failure of the Lokpal Bill in Parliament is a good example of just how difficult Parliamentary business can be in India. The Lok Sabha is directly elected on a constituency basis, but with regional loyalties such a strong determinant of voting, thirty-four political parties are represented, as well as nine independents.

If you think that two party coalition is tough, consider for a moment the job of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, whose ruling Congress Party governs as part …

Posted in Europe / International and News | Also tagged and | 1 Comment

A postcard from… Mumbai

Baroness Ros Scott has been away visiting family for the past fortnight, and has let us have some thoughts on what she has found there…

As a politician, starting the day with newspapers and coffee is a habit that is hard to break. Indian newspapers are a joy, with their old fashioned use of English – “the altercation ended in fisticuffs”, “the ruffians were apprehended” and a diet of celebrity gossip and above all, politics. All Indian media give detailed blow-by-blow accounts of the machinations of politicians in the national and state governments and, although there’s a lot going on, …

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Opinion: the sordid world of electronic voting

When I was picked to stand as a candidate in the local elections, one of the most sobering realisations was the law and procedures in place to ensure the integrity of the ballot. The rules and regulations, safeguards and cross checks are strict and rightly so. A question remains on how compatible this safety is with electronic voting. The camps are very divided on this, but what is agreed is the principles of openness, accountability and challenge of the process we use to elect our representatives.

A few months ago, news came out that serious security problems had been found

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The Independent View: Arms deals with India – why Lib Dems should say no

PM Cameron’s heavyweight government plus business trip to India went swimmingly, so we are to believe, despite that diplomatic faux pas about Pakistani support for terrorism and Indian discontent about proposed immigration quotas. One fortunate outcome for Mr Cameron was that both issues diverted attention from a highly contentious arms deal involving arms giant BAE.

Under the deal, 57 Hawk jets will be manufactured under licence in India with BAE’s Indian partner, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), with technical support from BAE. Roll-Royce also gets a slice of the deal as its jet engines will be used in production. The deal is …

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Daily View 2×2: 14 February 2010, featuring news from India and the easiest delivery round ever

It’s Sunday. It’s 9am on the day when in 1984 Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean won gold at the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo. You want to see the easiest leaflet delivery in the world, don’t you? But first, the news and blogs.

2 Must-Read Blog Posts

What are other Liberal Democrat bloggers saying? Here’s are two posts that have caught the eye from the Liberal Democrat Blogs aggregator:

Spotted any other great posts in the last day from blogs that aren’t on the aggregator? Do post up a comment sharing them with us all.

2 Big Stories

You probably know the news from the UK. So here’s the news from India.
Blast breaks lull – Foreigners among bakery bomb victims

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Daily View 2×2: 31 January 2009, presenting RISO: The Movie

It’s Sunday. It’s 9am. It’s time for RISO: The Movie, but first the news.

2 Must-Read Blog Posts

What are other Liberal Democrat bloggers saying? Here’s are two posts that have caught the eye from the Liberal Democrat Blogs aggregator:

Spotted any other great posts in the last day from blogs that aren’t on the aggregator? Do post up a comment sharing them with us all.

It’s nearly time for RISO: The Movie. Nearly, but not quite…

2 Big Stories

India keeps Copenhagen pledge on emission cuts

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Furore over twitter transport joke doesn’t stop international diplomacy in 140 characters

Shashi Tharoor is probably not a name familiar even to readers of The Voice who follow online politics closely, but he’s one of the highest profile politicians on Twitter. The Deputy Foreign Minister of India, he has approaching half a million followers on Twitter.

He’s had some criticism for travelling in first class air travel and staying in five-star hotels, even though in both cases he says he pays for it himself.

Asked in September whether he’d consider travelling in standard (aka “cattle class”) in future, he deployed humour: “Absolutely, out of solidarity with all our holy cows.” The result? Complaints from …

Posted in Europe / International and Online politics | Also tagged and | 1 Comment

The LDV 2×2 Daily View (17/05/09)

Welcome to the first Sunday outing for The Voice’s new daily post series highlighting two big stories from the media and two “must read” blog posts from Liberal Democrats. As it’s a Sunday, there’s also a bonus extra supplement. If you spot anything for future posts, do let us know on [email protected]

2 Big Stories

Indian elections
The big election story of the week is India: massive democracy, increasingly influential in the world and located right next to some of the world’s trouble spots which most make their impact felt here in the UK.

The election results, which have been coming through on Saturday, are looking good for the Congress Party. Indian politics are sufficiently complex and different from the UK’s that for Liberal Democrats it isn’t a simple matter of cheering on one party in particular, but overall it looks like religious extremists are faring poorly. The BBC has an extensive write-up of news as it came in, including the person with a majority of over 350,000, the political analyst who commented that expert predictions turned out to be less accurate than astrologers, the Twittering candidate and links through to lots more detail.

Parliament and Labour in race to the bottom
It’s a tough call at the moment as to who is taking the worst battering: Parliament’s reputation or the Labour Party, who are plumbing new polling depths and now bumping along in the low 20s. There are stories aplenty in the Sunday papers, but the one I’d pick out is The Observer’s round-up as it contains perhaps the oddest comment from a Minister:

“This has been Gordon being too scrupulous: it’s not that he doesn’t get it, but he has felt you have to take parliament with you,”

Silly me, I thought he’d tried to bounce Parliament with his expenses reform proposals and had to pull key parts after it turned out hardly anyone supported them.

2 Must-Read Blog Posts

Is our electoral system partly to blame?
Mark Reckons asks the question and does some analysis, concluding that the safer an MP’s seat, the more likely they are to have abused the system – and of course our electoral system means that many MPs have safe seats.

Our political system is still getting some things right
Meanwhile, Caron’s Musings rightly highlights that there is more to our political system than MPs’ expenses and lists some of the good things that MPs have done in the last week.

Sunday Bonus

For a bit of Sunday enjoyment, here’s a great spoof advert from last year’s American elections:

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarNom de Plume 14th Nov - 3:23pm
    Correction: 'customs union'
  • User AvatarDenis Loretto 14th Nov - 3:23pm
    @ Anthony Watts I echo that also and it behoves all of us to pursue the "people's vote" option as the only practical way to...
  • User AvatarNom de Plume 14th Nov - 3:22pm
    It was always going to be a bad deal. A currency union is a bad deal, but I wish you would leave "vassal state" terminology...
  • User AvatarMichael 1 14th Nov - 2:54pm
    @David Raw Are you saying that the non UK wide parties are of no relevance to demands for a second referendum ? No! I clearly...
  • User AvatarSue Sutherland 14th Nov - 2:45pm
    Mark Pack has emailed an interesting survey of opinion on Brexit undertaken in October. It indicates that those who voted Leave still believe there will...
  • User AvatarSue Sutherland 14th Nov - 2:18pm
    Great article Joe Bourke but I disagree with one of your statements. I don’t see any evidence that common sense has to break out because...