India shut down to protest premier's economic reforms
Fri Sep 21, 2012 2:15AM
If we don't protest now, the central government will eliminate the poor and middle-class families." Indian protesterThe Indians have observed a nationwide strike against government’s decision to open foreign supermarket chains, and launch new economic reforms in the South Asian country. On Thursday, schools, businesses and government offices were closed in many parts of the country, and thousands of demonstrators blocked road and rail traffic to protest against the extensive economic plans of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government. The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and many other political parties called the strike. The Trinamool Congress party, the government’s biggest ally, threatened to pull out of the coalition on Friday if the reform plans, including a 14 percent increase in heavily subsidized diesel prices, were not reversed. Last week, the coalition government announced the reform program to boost a slowing economy, but the measure has kicked a political firestorm, which risks an early election. The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) called on the government not to buckle under the people pressure, saying the reforms were essential for economic growth. "Good economics seldom makes for good politics," the CII said. It added that the economy lost $2.3 billion in production and trade because of one-day strike.
Activists of the BJP and other opposition parties burned effigies of Prime Minister Singh to protest against the new economic plans."If we don't protest now, the central government will eliminate the poor and middle-class families," said a female protester in Bhubaneswar, capital of the eastern state of Odisha. GJH/MA