Does India-US Bilateral Agreement on Food Security Matter?

By Kavaljit Singh | Commentary | November 16, 2014

After months of stalemate, India and the US have agreed to resolve their differences over food stock holdings which would open the way for future implementation of Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) of the WTO – the biggest trade deal in its entire history. On November 13, 2014, Nirmala Sitharaman, India’s Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, issued a statement announcing a bilateral agreement with the US. “We are extremely happy that India and the US have successfully resolved their differences relating to the issue of public stockholding for food security purposes in the WTO in a manner that addresses our concerns. This will end…

Assessing India’s Bilateral Investment Protection Agreement with UAE

By Kavaljit Singh | Commentary | October 27, 2014

Thanks to the persistent efforts by civil society groups demanding access to the full text of India-UAE bilateral investment promotion and protection agreement (BIPA) under the Right to Information Act, the agreement was recently made public by the concerned appellate authority of Ministry of Finance. On December 12, 2013, India signed the agreement with the United Arab Emirates despite an ongoing official review of its existing BIPAs. In early 2013, the then government initiated the review and imposed a moratorium on all ongoing BIPA negotiations in the wake of public outcry over arbitration notices served by foreign investors (including Vodafone and Sistema) demanding billions of…

Jan Dhan Yojana: Ambitious but Ambiguous Plan

By Kavaljit Singh | Commentary | September 23, 2014

Jan Dhan Yojana (People’s Wealth Plan) – an ambitious financial inclusion program – was launched amid much fanfare in India on 28th August, 2014. The initial target of Jan Dhan Yojana is to cover 75 million unbanked households by 26th January, 2015. The government claims that on the inaugural day, a record 15 million bank accounts were opened across the country under this initiative. Nowhere else in the world, such a large number of bank accounts have been opened on a single day. In less than a month, nearly 40 million accounts have been opened under this initiative.

The Jan Dhan Yojana (JDY) would be…

The Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill: Missing the Forest for the Trees

By Kavaljit Singh | Commentary | August 16, 2014

Many commentators have viewed the ongoing stalemate over the passage of controversial Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2008 – which, inter alia, proposes to raise foreign shareholding in the insurance sector from 26 to 49 percent – as nothing but sheer political opportunism of country’s two main political parties – Congress and BJP. Undeniably, it was the Congress-led UPA government which introduced this Bill in 2008 but the then main opposition party (BJP) strongly opposed it and the Bill was sent to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance headed by Yashwant Sinha, senior BJP leader, for scrutiny. In its Report to Parliament, the Standing Committee…

The Era of Mega-Arbitration: International Court Rules Against Russia in $50 Billion Decision

By Kavaljit Singh | Commentary | July 30, 2014

On July 28, 2014, an international arbitration tribunal under the auspices of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (The Hague) announced that Russia must pay $50.02 billion (Rs.300120 crore) in damages to former shareholders of the now defunct oil giant, Yukos Oil Company. The three-member tribunal unanimously declared that Russia breached its obligations under Article 13(1) of the Energy Charter Treaty when it “took steps equivalent to expropriation of the claimants’ investment in Yukos.”

In its Award, the tribunal said, “Yukos was the object of a series of politically motivated attacks by the Russian authorities that eventually led to its destruction…The primary objective of the Russian Federation…