Indian ruling party in tough election fight in Modi’s home state, vote count shows

This file photo taken on December 3, 2017 shows Indian workers installing a poster with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L), in Surendranagar, some 130 km from Ahmedabad. (AFP)
Updated 18 December 2017
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Indian ruling party in tough election fight in Modi’s home state, vote count shows

NEW DELHI: India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party was in a close fight with the main opposition in an election in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state on Monday, trends from the early vote count showed.
A combined opposition led by the Congress had mounted a tough challenge in the western state of Gujarat, hoping to weaken Modi in his home base by exploiting discontent over lack of jobs and an unpopular national sales tax that hit business.
Trends from the count showed the BJP leading in 91 seats of the 182-member state assembly with the Congress 83, NDTV said. To rule a party needs to win 92 seats.
Indian stock markets opened weaker, with the 50-share NSE index down almost 2 percent. Almost all pre-vote and exit polls had predicted a comfortable victory, but the polls have often gone wrong in the past.
Modi’s party was ahead in the rugged northern Himachal Pradesh, the other state holding elections for a new assembly.
Modi faces a national election in 2019 and the state elections, to be followed by a couple more next year, are key contests where the opposition aims to slow down his momentum.
Businesses across India have been struggling with the poor implementation of a Goods and Services Tax that aims to harmonize an array of state and federal taxes but entangled them in cumbersome procedures.
Modi’s shock ban of high-value currency notes last November, in his fight against corruption, also disrupted small business that forms the bedrock of his support base in Gujarat.
“It was a tough election, the toughest we have fought,” said R. Bala, BJP member.
To ensure his party’s prospects, Modi addressed dozens of rallies during his campaign in the state, performed rituals and even waved from a seaplane on his last day on the campaign trail.


Scientific study finds asylum seekers boosting European economies

Updated 36 min 11 sec ago
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Scientific study finds asylum seekers boosting European economies

  • Asylum seekers contributed most to a country’s gross domestic product after three to seven years, the research found
  • The findings come amid a rise of anti-immigrant sentiment across Europe, where immigration peaked in 2015 with the arrival of more than a million refugees and migrants from the Middle East and Africa

NEW YORK: Asylum seekers moving to Europe have raised their adopted nations’ economic output, lowered unemployment and not placed a burden on public finances, scientists said on Wednesday.
An analysis of economic and migration data for the last three decades found asylum seekers added to gross domestic products and boosted net tax revenues by as much as 1 percent, said a study published in Science Advances by French economists.
The findings come amid a rise of anti-immigrant sentiment across Europe, where immigration peaked in 2015 with the arrival of more than a million refugees and migrants from the Middle East and Africa.
An annual report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees released on Tuesday showed the global number of refugees grew by a record 2.9 million in 2017 to 25.4 million.
The research from 1985 to 2015 looked at asylum seekers — migrants who demonstrate a fear of persecution in their homeland in order to be resettled in a new country.
“The cliché that international migration is associated with economic ‘burden’ can be dispelled,” wrote the scientists from the French National Center for Scientific Research, the University of Clermont-Auvergne and Paris-Nanterre University.
The research analyzed data from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Norway, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
Asylum seekers contributed most to a country’s gross domestic product after three to seven years, the research found. They marginally lowered unemployment rates and had a near-zero impact of public finances, it said.
Greece, where the bulk of migrants fleeing civil war in Syria have entered Europe, was not included because fiscal data before 1990 was unavailable, it said.
Chad Sparber, an associate professor of economics at the US-based Colgate University, said the study was a reminder there is no convincing economic case against humanitarian migration.
But he warned against dismissing the views of residents who might personally feel a negative consequence of immigration.
“There are people who do lose or suffer,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“Immigration on balance is good,” he said. “But I still recognize that it’s not true for every person.”