India

Indian media welcome 'revenue boost' for states

Mr Modi wants states to play an important role in his development policies Image copyright AP
Image caption Mr Modi wants states to play an important role in his development policies

Papers in India welcome the federal government's decision to increase the states' share in tax revenues.

States will get 42%, up from the current 32%, of the total federal tax revenues from the next financial year.

The decision reflects Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ambition of promoting what he calls "cooperative federalism".

And papers appear to be supporting his idea.

The Times of India argues that "once states control their own destinies, those that reform faster will perform better".

"If states acquire a stake in reform, that will be a long-term solution to the conundrum of national politics in recent years, where everybody except the ruling party at the centre feels compelled to adopt the most puerile and populist policy position blocking reform and perpetuating the status quo," it adds.

The Indian Express too praises the move, but cautions against states becoming lax in their approach to financial planning.

"The responsibility of the states has increased and their institutional capacity to deliver must be enhanced. Equally, a vigil must be maintained against their increased financial autonomy degenerating into fiscal profligacy," it says.

The Deccan Herald feels that the states have lost their "usual excuse" of blaming the federal government for a lack of funds.

"The centre will no longer have control and discretion over the flow of funds to the states. It has always been the grouse of states that the centre was denying them their rightful share of revenues and imposing on them projects and spending schemes which are decided without their knowledge and participation. The complaint will lose its edge now," it adds.

The Tribune also praises Mr Modi, but highlights that the move has left the federal government with a "tighter purse".

"Mr Modi has walked the talk on cooperative federalism, though he may have created problems for his finance minister on the eve of his second budget by leaving him less to spend," it says.

Poll promises

Meanwhile, keeping with their poll promise, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi has announced a cut in electricity and water supply charges, The Indian Express reports.

"Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia announced on Wednesday that electricity will be available to consumers using 400 units or less at half the charge and 20,000 litres of water per household will be supplied free every month," the paper says.

The AAP or the Common Man's Party came to power with a spectacular victory earlier this month. They won 67 of the 70 seats in the Delhi assembly elections.

The party had promised to address Delhi's problems, such as high electricity and water costs.

Criminal age

And finally, a parliamentary panel has rejected the government's bid to treat teenagers over 16 years as adults in serious criminal cases, The Indian Express reports.

Asking the government to review its bid, the panel said in a report that "16-18 years is an extremely sensitive and critical age requiring greater protection".

The government had approved a bill last year to allow children over 16 to be tried as adults for crimes like rape and murder.

Calls to revise the existing law had started after one of the perpetrators of the 2012 Delhi gang-rape was found to be a teenager.

He was among the group of men who attacked a 23-year-old woman on a bus in December 2012. The victim died two weeks later.

The incident sparked global outrage and put the spotlight on how India treated its women.

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