As somebody who spent more than a decade in Delhi, the current atmosphere of violence in India’s capital city deeply saddens me. But I am not surprised. Maybe because I come from a part of India—its troubled Northeast periphery—where such violence was a part of life.
Three years ago, the Indian economy clocked a quarterly growth rate of over 9 percent. Now, growth has slowed to nearly half that rate, printing at 4.7 percent for the latest quarter (October-December 2019). Most estimates place growth for the current fiscal year, ending March 2020, at 5 percent, and for next year, 2020-21, at 6 percent. This is an astonishing slowdown for a country that, until recently, enjoyed bragging rights as the fastest growing large economy in the world.
When Prime Minster Narendra Modi came back to power, he had many things going for him: a renewed mandate, an absolute majority in parliament, a prostrate opposition, and a level of personal popularity with the electorate that dwarfed any other leader.
But, at the same time, his new government was confronting three major challenges. The first was a tepid economy whose weaknesses were threatening all other goals. The second was a more uncertain international environment, stemming from an unpredictable and polarized United States and a resurgent China.
In August 2019, the Indian parliament threatened business leaders with up to three years in prison if they failed to comply with the requirements of the corporate social responsibility (CSR) provisions that were introduced in 2013. In addition to prison terms, any company that does not allocate its 2 percent of annual profits to charity will have the money taken by the state and doled out to one of a list of government funds. What does the shift from voluntary to mandatory CSR over the past decade reveal about the relationship between the state, the market, and the social sector in 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.
More than five decades after India launched the Green Revolution, its war on hunger is far from won.
India is, today, a country of about 1.35 billion people. United Nations’ population projections of 2017 say that India is likely to surpass China’s population by 2024 and reach 1.5 billion by 2030, making it the most populous nation on the planet. About two-thirds of Indians are below 35 years age. India’s GDP has been growing at around 7 percent annually for the last two decades, and likely to continue at this pace for at least another decade.
In the West, Brexit and the rise of rightwing populists such as Donald Trump in the United States and Viktor Orban in Hungary have been blamed on globalization. In particular, many have argued that unchecked international migration—a prominent form of globalization—has generated a “nativist” backlash. The developing world has long been accustomed to such a backlash. However, the focus of nativist ire in developing countries is frequently domestic rather than international migration.
Quotas for women in government have swept the world as a revolutionary tool to further female political inclusion. India is both the source of much evidence and contestation on quotas’ impact, particularly in economic domains. When do quotas ultimately benefit those they are meant to empower—women—in the crucial domain of land inheritance rights?