It is an honour for India to be a developed country.
United States Trade Representative on 10/2/2020 has removed India from a list of developing countries. It is on the basis of India having 0.5% or more of world trade and being a member of G20. This prevents India from claiming concessions in trade with USA.
This move comes two weeks before Donald Trump’s visit to India on 24-25/2/2020. USA had ended Generalised System of Preference to India with effect from 5/6/2019. India has no probability of restoring it. India had responded by imposing higher customs duties on 28 American items with effect from 16/6/2019.
USTR has taken many countries out of list of developing countries. Argentina, Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia, S. Africa, S. Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Ukraine and Vietnam are out of the list.
Trump puts America First. He does not want other countries to take advantage of USA. Under World Trade Organization Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures developed countries had some benefits in trade. Under Tariff Act 1930, USTR has responsibility to designate countries entitled to special thresholds. India and many other countries were designated as developing countries in 1998.
No country wanted to declare itself as developed. Trump decided USA will do it. Now India has to do better. Or India can engage in trade war with USA.
Trump took USA out of Trans-Pacific Partnership. He did not proceed with Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. He threatened trans-Atlantic trade war. He replaced North American Free Trade Agreement with United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. He started trade war with China.
India has an opportunity to accept developed country tag and work on it. There is no glory in claiming to be a developing country and asking for concessions.
People of Delhi voted for Legislative Assembly election on 8/2/2020 and results were declared on 11/2/2020. Out of 70 seats, AAP won 62 and BJP won 8.
Compared to Lok Sabha elections 2019 it was a setback for BJP which had won all 7 Lok Sabha seats and Congress which had finished second in 5 Lok Sabha seats. Compared to Legislative Assembly elections 2015 it was 5 seat loss for AAP, 5 seat gain for BJP and no loss and no gain for Congress.
It was a relief for AAP which had failed to form government in any state after 2015. It got 20 seats in Punjab and no seat in Goa, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. For BJP it was a setback after losing Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Jharkhand.
It was consolidation of reputation for poll strategist Prashant Kishor. He was successful from 2014 onwards with different parties which heeded his advice. Congress did not heed his advice in UP election and lost. This time he was with AAP and AAP won.
Arvind Kejriwal changed over the years. He gave up confrontation with BJP in general and Narendra Modi in particular. He did not join protests against CAA, NRC and NPR. He did not join Shaheen Bagh protestors. He talked about the work his government had done over the years and demanded votes on that basis. Reduction in electricity bill, free water supply up to 20,000 litres per month, free bus rides for women, mohalla clinics, improvement in government schools and not allowing arbitrary hike in fees in private schools were issues on which he fought. He did not respond to personal attacks by BJP leaders. Prakash Javadekar called him a terrorist. He left it to people of Delhi to decide.
BJP tried to make nationalism an issue. One slogan was to shoot the traitors. They talked against Shaheen Bagh protestors. It is debatable whether that benefitted BJP. Some feel it cost BJP while others feel without it they would not have got even 8 seats.
Congress leaders like P. Chidambaram are jubilant that BJP lost in Delhi while some others are unhappy that Congress lost. Sheila Dikshit had died on 20/7/2019. Congress fought election on the basis of performance of her government for 15 years. She had nothing to do with this election. After election results P. C. Chacko blamed her for loss. That did not go down well with some Congress leaders. Latika Dikshit, daughter of Sheila Dikshit, asked how his conscience allowed him to say things like this for a person who has passed away. Pawan Khera who was an aide to Sheila Dikshit said in 2015 when Sheila Dikshit was not involved Congress vote share was 9.7%. In 2019 when she was in charge it was 22.46%. In 2015 it was Legislative Assembly election. In 2019 it was Lok Sabha election. Now Congress vote share is 4.26%.
Unlike 2015 when AAP government swearing-in was on 14 February this time it is on 16 February. It is another change in Arvind Kejriwal for whom 14 February was significant and had resigned on 14/2/2014.
LPG cylinder prices were revised on 1st of every month. This time the revision was on 12/2/2020, after Delhi election result. Price was up by Rs.144.50.
Brexit happened at 11 p.m. GMT on 31/1/2020 after a delay of nine months and two days. Boris Johnson had contested the election on the slogan Get Brexit Done. He won.
After Brexiteers won the referendum in 2016 Remainers tried various tricks to stop Brexit from happening. Courts mostly sided with them. House of Commons Speaker John Bercow was a Remainer and he tried to prevent Brexit. Some people wanted another referendum calling it will be People’s Vote as if animals had voted in 2016 referendum. Theresa May who succeeded David Cameron as PM could not get Brexit done which was set for 29/3/2019. It was first postponed by two weeks, then to 31/10/2019. She resigned and Boris Johnson succeeded her in July 2019.
Boris Johnson said Brexit will take place on 31/10/2019, no ifs and no buts. But Speaker sided with Remainers in his rulings and Supreme Court ruled prorogation of House of Commons was invalid. Things did not go as Boris Johnson had planned and House of Commons voted that PM should write to EU for extension. To comply with that he sent an unsigned letter to EU asking for extension and two other letters mentioning he did not wanted extension. Though an unsigned letter is not valid EU granted extension to UK.
There were around 20 members of Conservative Party who had opposed Brexit. Boris Johnson threw them out of the party. As Labour Party said Conservative Party did not have majority Boris Johnson challenged them for election. They agreed. Election took place on 12/12/2019.
House of Commons strength is 630. Conservative Party got 365 seats, a gain of 47 seats. Labour Party got 203 seats, a loss of 59 seats. It lost many seats which it held for around hundred years. Many voters of Labour Party were in favour of Brexit. They were angry at Labour Party’s hostility to Brexit and voted for Conservative Party. Way for Brexit was clear.
In Scotland SNP won 48 seats out of 59. In referendum on 18/9/2014 Scotland’s majority had voted to remain in UK. In 2016 June 62% in Scotland had to remain in EU. SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon wants another referendum on Scottish Independence. Boris Johnson has denied it saying 2014 referendum was once in a lifetime opportunity. Nicola Sturgeon wants to go ahead with referendum. However it is said that Scotland will not get EU membership even if it gets independence because EU rules require deficit to be within 3% of GDP while Scotland’s deficit is 7% of GDP and growing. UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said real reason for demand for Scottish independence is to distract from SNP’s failure in education and taxation.
UK had 73 members out of 751 in European Parliament. One UK MEP was of Pakistani origin. He was behind resolutions against CAA and NRC in European Parliament. With UK out of EU he will not be part of European Parliament.