India-US Bilateral Investment Treaty: Not An Easy Ride

By Kavaljit Singh | Commentary | January 26, 2015

It’s official: India and the US will resume negotiations on a high-standard bilateral investment treaty (BIT). In a joint statement on Sunday by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Barack Obama, the leaders affirmed their “shared commitment to facilitating increased bilateral investment flows and fostering an open and predictable climate for investment.” Since 2008, the two countries have been engaged in sporadic discussions to arrive at such a treaty. In the coming days, negotiations will begin on its wording, based on each country’s revised model treaty texts.

However, given the vast divergence between their respective models, the chances for a quick breakthrough appear bleak, especially since…

India and Bilateral Investment Treaties – Are They Worth It?

By Kavaljit Singh | Commentary | January 21, 2015

President Barack Obama’s upcoming visit to India is likely to kick-start stalled negotiations on a bilateral investment treaty (BIT) between the US and India that has been under sporadic discussion since 2008, aimed at facilitating greater cross-border investment flows. Negotiations will resume based on model treaty texts prepared by each side. In April 2012, the US released a new version of its model BIT. New Delhi launched a review of its investment treaties in mid-2012 in the wake of public outcry over arbitration notices served by 17 foreign companies (including Vodafone and Sistema) challenging various policy measures and demanding billions of dollars in compensation for…

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…