In recent decades, India has been slowly climbing up the international hierarchy, increasing its global influence en route to emerging as one of the system’s premier great powers. Along with China’s spectacular rise over the last four decades, India’s own remarkable rise further encapsulates the current global shift of economic power from Europe and North America to Asia. Together, these trends herald the true beginning of the Asian Century, whereby big Asia powers will gain the capability to dominate, dictate, and ultimately define the contours of international affairs.
India in Transition
March 2019 marked the 46th anniversary of the beginning of the Chipko Andolan, which is often credited as India’s first environmental justice movement. However, the history of India’s environmental justice movements can be traced much further back. Early grassroots resistances to British rule, such as the Bengal peasant revolt of 1859-63 against indigo plantations, carried ecological undertones.
The World Health Organization (WHO), in its founding principles, defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” It further states that “the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic, or social condition.” Physical health of individuals has been the major focus of public health care systems across the globe, more so in developing countries including India.
Care work has been the focus of policy debates after the International Labour Organization (ILO) published a report titled “Care Work and Care Jobs for the Future of Decent Work” in 2018. The ILO observed that care work involves a range of skills that are often not formally recognized or remunerated, and involving working conditions that are not regulated. Furthermore, care work has an undisputable gender burden with two-thirds of all care workers being women who dedicate themselves to unpaid care work 3.2 times more often than men.
The visit of PM Narendra Modi to Japan for the G20 Summit in Osaka gave him an opportunity to exchange views with PM Abe of Japan for the first time in his second term. Earlier this year, Modi came back to power with a decisive mandate in the general elections which has given him and his government greater flexibility when it comes to foreign affairs. In addition, the appointment of Dr. S. Jaishankar as the Minister of External Affairs is a strong signal about the importance accorded to foreign affairs by this government.
The Indian police, which traces its origin back to 1843 and is still largely run on the British-era Indian Police Act, 1861, has been struggling to come to terms with India’s class, caste, gender, and religious diversities. The reasons for this may be due to a lack of training, sensitization, and/or inherent personnel biases according to the 2018 Status of Policing in India Report.
In the last eighteen years, the situation in Afghanistan has remained as tenuous as it had been in the three decades that preceded them. In fact, things do not look any different since 2017 when the so-called “mother-of-all-bombs” was dropped in Nangarhar to deter the extremists. Or in 2001 when 25 international stakeholders came together and “determined to help the Afghan people end the tragic conflicts in their country and promote national reconciliation, lasting peace, stability and respect for human rights, (and)… put an end to the use of Afghanistan as a base for terrorism.”
On March 20, 2000, armed renegades cold-bloodedly murdered thirty-five Sikh men in Chitti Singhpora village in South Kashmir on the eve of US President Bill Clinton’s visit to India. A “micro-minority” in Kashmir, the violence was a first for the Sikh community, who have lived for generations alongside their Muslim counterparts in harmony in the Valley—one of the three distinct regions of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), which has borne the major brunt of insurgency.
Twelve days following the Ides of March, few had any inkling that March 27, 2019 would portend a watershed in India’s strategic trajectory. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a ten minute televised address in Hindi, emphatically declaring that India has become “a global space power” after a successful anti-satellite (ASAT) missile test had just propelled the country to the ranks of the US, Russia, and China.
In a recently published book—The Truth About Us: The Politics of Information from Manu to Modi—I offer a narrative of how India’s social “truths” were made up over the last two centuries, an explanation for why the narrative has taken the shape it has, and its political and social consequences. Abstracted from the book, here I outline the key to the explanation—the politics of information.