-Tarun Deep Dutt
End of a year, for most, is time to look back. It’s important to look back to know what worked for you and what didn’t. History, they say, is the basis on which future is built. It’s more important to look ahead, to welcome the new year with open arms and to embrace all that it will have in store for you.
On the global map, the most important change will be a new occupant of the White House. Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States, will impact Indians working in the US because of his ‘America first’ policy, which indicates a harsher terms for Indian immigrants, especially in the Silicon Valley. Trump has already called H1B visa programme “unfair to Americans”.
On the domestic front, 2017 will be an important year for many things – details in the following paragraphs – but the most important event this year will be the political heavyweight assembly election of India’s biggest and most important – in terms of law makers it sends to the Parliament – state, Uttar Pradesh, in the early part of the year.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi led his party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, into an unprecedented, historic victory in the state in the Lok Sabha elections in 2014; the party, along with its allies, gobbled 73 out of 80 Parliamentary seats, leaving only seven for the Congress and Samajwadi Party families. Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son and vice president Rahul Gandhi won two, and the Yadav clan, led by its patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, won the remaining five.
Will Modi repeat his performance? Will BJP be able to wrest the state that it ruled only once on its own, albeit just for 1 year and 165 days, in 1991 when it won 221 of the 425 Assembly seats? The party has played second fiddle to regional superpowers such as Mulayam and Mayawati in the following elections even though it managed to have its chief ministers from 1999 to 2002.
The elections in other states – Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa by March and in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh in the later half – will a referendum on Modi’s demonetization decision, and a test of fledgling Aam Aadmi Party’s regional power, especially in Punjab and Goa.
Among other political change, before July, the country will have a new President.
On the economic front, the biggest change is expected after the rollout of Goods and Services Tax, an indirect tax across India that will replace all Central and state taxes, on goods and services. Trade experts think it’s going to be a game changer – sectors such as automobiles, infrastructure, cement, consumer durables and logistics will gain from its rollout.
The country will see a rail budget merged with the union finance budget, making the rail portfolio less lucrative for allies to negotiate for, and killing the middle-class’s joy of seeing new trains announced for their areas.
Indians will need a visa for travelling to Hong Kong, affecting more than 500,000 Indians who visit the autonomous territory in southeastern China for business and holidays. Until now, visa on arrival is available in Hong Kong, like it is available in Thailand, Combodia and Sri Lanka.
The common medical entrance examination for admission to country’s medical colleges, NEET, will be held in eight Indian languages – Hindi, English, Gujarati, Marathi, Bengali, Assamese, Telugu and Tamil – from 2017. After IIT-Delhi and IIT-Kanpur, Jaipur MNIT will give two extra years to its engineering undergraduates to complete pass B.Tech.
Stents could cost less in 2017. The Union health ministry has notified it as a schedule 1 drug, making it eligible for price control. More than 400,000 angioplasty procedures took place in India in 2015. For the average cost of a stent to be Rs 8,000, Rs 3,000 crore was spent on this device annually.
On the auto front, the year looks promising with new launches. Maruti will launch the new and sportier version of it increasingly popular Baleno hatchback and hatchback-crossover offering, the Ignis. Hyundai will hit the market in mid 2017 with its new-gen Verna. Volkswagen will enter the premium SUV segment with Tiguan and Nissan X-Trail will become the only hybrid SUV in the country. American automaker Jeep, which entered India in 2016, will offer affordable mini-trucks in the middle of 2017.
On the tech front, electro-vibration (for feeling textures on your screen), brainwave recognition (for producing an interpretation of the signal produced in brain), ultra-dash wireless charging (to be the savior for mobile phone battery), augmented reality and virtual reality will be the new buzz words.
Go get ready for a new, exciting new year.