Indian historians have expended much labor and analytical acumen in deconstructing the colonial construction of Indian women and gender relations in India. The British had highlighted the “low status” of Indian women by citing cultural practices such as purdah (veiling), sati (widow immolation), child marriage and dowry, not to mention female infanticide. Since then, these practices began to metonymically represent Indian women to the outside world as being subjugated and lacking any rights or agency of their own.
India in Transition
Narendra Modi’s election, now four years ago, brought tremendous optimism to many observers of the Indian economy. Finally, the man who many thought had achieved economic miracles in Gujarat would govern India with similar discipline, encouraging both domestic and foreign investment and thus unleashing the full potential of the market to drive India’s economic transformation. Four years later, however, Modi’s project of governance reform has stalled.
After the general elections in 2014, a newly ambitious India appeared to emerge: a manufacturing hub with clean cities and villages, where farmer incomes would double and everyone would have houses and bank accounts. Assumed in this vision, though never articulated, was an effective government apparatus converting these ideas into concrete reality.
The year 2018 started on a somber note when reports of Cape Town running out of public water supplies shook the global news cycle. A little-known fact that did not get much attention in popular media was that for a quarter of the city’s residents living in informal settlements, “Day Zero” has long been part of everyday life. As scientists have begun to count down this looming crisis in other major cities, especially in the developing world, the socio-political implications of inequitable access to basic need services have become exigent.
How do rebels quit armed groups and return to the same political processes they had once sought to overthrow? A lot has been written on why men and women rebel. But we know very little about why and how rebels quit. This is, however, a predominant concern among policymakers now, from Nepal to Colombia.
India is reported to have approximately fifteen million NGOs in the education sector. Combined with the proliferation of social enterprises in recent years, the space for non-government education innovations is rapidly becoming a network of cottage industries, with interventions often reinventing the wheel and successful practices not being appropriately leveraged to address India’s learning crisis at scale.
The Ganges, or Ganga, is India’s holiest river, worshipped as a goddess by more than a billion people. It accounts for 47 percent of India’s irrigated land and feeds 500 million citizens. Despite its importance, it is one of the most polluted rivers in the world. Rapid population growth, urbanization, and industrial development have raised the levels of domestic as well as industrial pollutants in its waters.
Why do the lights go out more often in some Indian states than others? While India has recently seen great gains in generation capacity and rural electrification, many utilities are still trapped in a vicious cycle of underpayment, underinvestment, and dismal performance. The effects are huge: in 2010 the World Bank estimated the cost of electricity shortages at 7 percent of India’s GDP.
India’s Africa policy over the past few decades has oscillated between passive and reluctantly reactive at best. Strategic apathy toward the continent was obvious on many fronts. Not only did countries in Africa not feature in New Delhi’s larger foreign policy matrix, but until recently there wasn’t any significant attention paid to the continent. Indian leaders seldom travelled to African nations and very rarely did they feature in conversations surrounding New Delhi’s foreign policy ambitions.
Imagine moving countries for a brand-new job, only to discover that you have been sold to your employer for $4,700. It sounds preposterous, but is the real-life story of Salma Begum, a 39-year-old Indian Hyderabadi woman, which made headlines last year. Salma, duped by fraudulent recruitment agents, was sold to her employer, who tortured her after she refused to marry him. While Salma made it to Mumbai after an intervention by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, hordes of blue collar migrants in similar positions are not as fortunate.