With less than a year to go for Lok Sabha polls, Centre turns focus on domestic policy
From announcing a bailout for the sugar industry to unveiling a new legislative architecture for higher education, the government pushed key measures. But it also faced setbacks, when it received no bids for Air India disinvestment.Updated: Jun 30, 2018 07:59 IST
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
June was a politically important month for the government. Kashmir remained the most crucial political issue — with non-extension of ceasefire and the introduction of governor’s rule. But with Lok Sabha polls less than a year away, the focus was also on domestic policy.
From announcing a bailout for the sugar industry to unveiling a new legislative architecture for higher education, the government pushed key measures. But it also faced setbacks, when it received no bids for Air India disinvestment.
As political competition intensifies, expect government decisions to acquire a sharper electoral undertone in the coming months. Here is a snapshot of developments in 10 ministries:
SIGNIFICANCE: Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim country. And giving India access to the port marks a major shift in Indonesia’s attitude towards China and India. Until recently, Jakarta had been reluctant to seek a strategic alignment with Delhi and was in two minds about Beijing’s role in the region.
WATCH OUT: The Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) summit will be held in late July. With South Africa hosting the next summit, the grouping is a key vehicle for Delhi to advance its interests.
SIGNIFICANCE: The drills were conducted at a time the US is realigning its posture in the Asia-Pacific by deploying more military assets, scaling up infrastructure and re-evaluating the scale and scope of exercises with its allies to counter China and its moves to militarise the region.
WATCH OUT: Indian stealth frigate INS Sahyadri is taking part in the US Navy-led multi-nation Rim of the Pacific exercise being staged around the HawaiianIslands through July.
SIGNIFICANCE: For the first time, the proposed regulator will be empowered to crack down on bogus and sub-standard institutions. It will also have the power to revoke authorisation given to institutions to grant degrees in case standards are not maintained.
WATCH OUT: The government is likely to announce the list of Institutes of Eminence, with 10 government and 10 private institutions being provided greater autonomy.
SIGNIFICANCE: While the Centre was prepared to relaunch operations against militants, voices urging the government to do so were amplified after Bukhari’s killing. On June 21, the BJP withdrew support to PDP, prompting CM Mufti to resign and pave the way for Governor’s Rule.
WATCH OUT: MHA will have a key role in improving the law and order situation under Governor’s Rule through better coordination between paramilitary forces and state police and instilling confidence among people.
SIGNIFICANCE: Analysts say absence of timely knowledge of support prices could hamper crop choices of farmers, leading to losses in income. MSPs constitute a key farm price policy, also serve as a so-called "price signal", meaning farmers tend to shift to crops with higher MSPs.
WATCH OUT: The government is expected to announce MSPs that are set at 1.5 times the cost of production so that farmers get 50% returns overcosts in the first week of July.
SIGNIFICANCE: The move was billed among the biggest reforms of the government. The ministry believes market conditions and general stateof the industry explains the lack of response. Critics blame it on the conditions in the bid. The ministry will have to think of reviving AI.
WATCH OUT: Notification of the passenger charter, opening more routes under UDAN scheme, and finalising a drone policy are a few priorities for government.
SIGNIFICANCE: The move is significant as the old law did not cover indecent or obscene portrayal of women in digital services. The amendments will cover WhatsApp, instagram, and other over-the-top services.
WATCH OUT: The Cabinet may clear proposal to empower DMs to give approval in adoption cases. Adoptive parents presently have to go to civil or family courts to get a nod.
SIGNIFICANCE: With profitability of mills hurt, owners haven’t been able to pay farmers, leading to arrears of more than Rs 22,000 crore. Sugar prices have dropped to their lowest in two years. Cane farmers are an influential lobby and could sway elections in UP, Maharashtra.
WATCH OUT: The food ministry is due to hold consultations with states to review prices of essential commodities during the monsoon season.
SIGNIFICANCE: The project was to be carried out by Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Limited (BECIL) and turned controversial after Opposition alleged the government would use this hub to snoop on people. There was pressure on ministry to explain the rationale.
WATCH OUT: The ministry has extended the last date for submission of bids for supply of software for hub that would collect and analyse digital and social media content.
SIGNIFICANCE: NBCC’s move to cut trees to make way for more space for colonies had met with protests from residents who opposed the decision on the ground that it will reduce the city’s green lungs.The ministry said more than a million trees will be transplanted.
WATCH OUT: The country’s first-of-its-kind liveability index that will rates 113 cities on various social, physical, economic and governance indicators will be released next month.
First Published: Jun 30, 2018 07:30 IST