In March 2016, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi announced a historic shift in India’s agricultural policy: doubling farmer incomes by 2022 would replace increasing food production as the main focus of India’s policies—a goal many experts criticized as unachievable even as they lauded the shift in priorities. What lay behind Modi’s departure from decades of policy attention and where does the initiative stand today?
India in Transition
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Japan as part of the 13th Annual Summit on October 28-29, 2018 has shed light on the evolving dynamics of the Indo-Japan bilateral relationship against the backdrop of a changing but volatile global order. Both India and Japan are confronting similar challenges in the Indo-Pacific region. Therefore, cooperation between them, and that too on multiple fronts is both obvious and desirable.
Over the last thirty years, the Indian state has done a remarkable job ensuring its citizens have access to education. Beginning with state-level policies such as the Andhra Pradesh Primary Education Programme and Shiksha Karmi in Rajasthan in 1984 and 1987 respectively, and culminating in the Right to Education Act at the Centre in 2009, the legislative and programmatic attention to education has been tremendous. And with that, there has been a genuine expansion in access and provision at the primary level.
On October 7, 2014, India’s aspirations of becoming a global leader in the manufacture and operation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs; commonly known as drones) for civilian use were seemingly crushed overnight. The Directorate General for Civil Aviation (DGCA), India’s civil aviation regulator, issued a short public notice that prohibited any non-governmental entity in India from launching UAVs for any purpose whatsoever due to safety and security issues until regulations were issued.
“The Afghan Government’s willingness for peace is despite the fact that armed groups have identified themselves and demonstrated to all of us that they are the irreconcilables,” said India’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Syed Akbaruddin, at a Security Council meeting in March 2018. Despite its aversion to a similar outreach in 2015, when it viewed Ghani to be tilting towards Islamabad, India called the international community to support the 2018 outreach.
We live in the age of artificial intelligence (AI) that has provided us with immense processing power, storage capacity, and access to information. The exponential development of technology gave us the spinning wheel in the first, electricity in the second, and computers in the third industrial revolution. In 2016, the World Economic Forum called AI “the fourth industrial revolution” that has radically transformed the way we live, work, and connect with each other. However, it has also given us regulatory challenges such as data ownership and labor protection.
After the first metro project in Kolkata, it took two decades for India to plan and execute its second metro rail project in Delhi in 2002. But afterwards, there was a surge in metro rail projects across Indian cities. In the past decade, more than thirteen cities in India have sanctioned for metro rail systems and many more states are still vying to seek clearance from the central government for metro rail projects.
Like a recurring rash, a little war of words has broken out in the media and Twitterverse about the extent of inequality in India and whether it is growing. The catalyst this time is the publication of James Crabtree’s book The Billionaire Raj. The same thing happened last year when Luke Chancel and Thomas Piketty published their paper “Indian Income Inequality, 1922-2015: From British Raj to Billionaire Raj?” Both are solid contributions that agree on one thing—economic inequality in India is very high and increasing because of the rise of a super-wealthy class.
During his June 2018 state visit to India, President Danny Faure of Seychelles was given the red-carpet treatment. He took home major gains in defense for the tiny Indian Ocean nation: a second Dornier aircraft, a $100 million line of credit for maritime security cooperation, and a white shipping information-sharing agreement. However, Seychelles did not reverse its rejection of a military base sought by India despite some careful diplomatic couching about the two countries’ shared interests.
The Wuhan Summit between India and China has to be seen in the backdrop of wider developments in the Indo-Pacific region. It is important that New Delhi and Beijing are able to manage their differences, as both of them need to concentrate on their economic development.