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.
In March 2019, India signed an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) with Russia to lease another of its Akula-Class attack nuclear submarines (SSN). The nuclear submarine will join the Indian Navy in 2025, after a major refit of the hull in Russia’s Arctic port of Severodvinsk. India had earlier leased an Akula-class SSBN from Moscow in 2012. Rechristened as Chakra in the Indian fleet, it will continue to serve the Indian Navy until the commissioning of the new Akula submarine, most likely by 2025.
In 2015, member nations of the World Health Organization set about achieving universal health coverage (UHC) as one of their targets when adopting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). UHC is defined by three components: health care access for all individuals and communities, comprehensive care, and financial protection.
More than five decades after India launched the Green Revolution, its war on hunger is far from won.
India’s most influential NGO, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has grown rapidly, as discussed in my recent book, The RSS: A View to the Inside (coauthored with Sridhar Damle). This book, something of a sequel to my earlier one, The Brotherhood in Saffron, addresses the significant social and economic changes that have taken place in India—and in the RSS—over the past three decades since it was published.
Over the past decade, India has marginally increased its regional trade with its neighbors, specifically Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal. Currently, India’s actual trade in South Asia accounts for $19.1 billion, which is just three percent of its total global trade at $637.4 billion and around $43 billion below the potential. It has recently been estimated that by reducing man-made trade barriers, trade within South Asia can grow three times, from $23 billion to $67 billion.
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.