When it comes to social policy in India, everywhere one turns these days you seem to find a right. The Indian Supreme Court has declared a right to food, a right to a clean environment, a right to shelter, and even a right to sleep. The Indian Parliament has passed acts that guarantee a right to education, a right to information, a right to rural employment, and is currently considering sweeping legislation that would provide rights concerning food security.
Can coalition governments in India be stable? And if so, can they undertake economic reforms and, more generically, policies that have short-term political costs but only long-term benefits? And if they do so, can they remain stable?
The troubled state of civil-military relations in India has attracted much attention in recent times. Many, especially within the military, argue that it has been in a state of prolonged crisis as far back as 2006 when disputes over the Pay Commission created bad blood between civilians and the military. These tensions, however, paled in comparison to the controversies that erupted earlier this year. General V.K.
This year, India celebrates the 60th anniversary of its first national elections. Before that election and every election for decades to come, naysayers prophesied the imminent demise of India’s democracy. Instead, that democracy considerably deepened along formal and substantive dimensions: the dominance of a single party has given way to party alternation and a crucial amendment to India’s constitution has helped attenuate discriminatory distinctions of caste and gender.
The leadership of most major Indian cities aspires to transform them into “world-class” metropolises. Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, models her vision for Kolkata on London, complete with a Kolkata Eye. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh supported a plan to transform Mumbai, just as Shanghai was transformed, into a “world-class” emblem of modern India. And Singapore, that paragon of order and control that is the antithesis of India’s messy urbanism, is widely admired by India’s bureaucratic elite.
The third annual U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue in June left many convinced that the two nations’ “strategic partnership” is expanding. And not without reason as unprecedented counter-terrorism coordination, extensive joint military exercises on land, sea, and air, and candid discussions on sensitive topics like Iran and Myanmar point to a deepening relationship. But amidst a flurry of high-level visits surrounding the Dialogue, U.S.
India is steadfastly urbanizing and in just under two decades its urban population is likely to approximately double to reach 600 million, a figure twice as high as its present urban population. Much of this growth will be due to the migration of people of economically weaker sections from rural areas which will further exacerbate the issue of urban poverty. If India aspires to be an equitable society where the void between the “haves” and “have-nots” is diminished it will have to ensure the inclusion and integration of the poor migrants into its urbanization agenda.
The size and reach of India’s developmental state has increased significantly in recent years, marked by a dizzying array of programs intended to improve the lives and livelihoods of India’s rural citizens. For instance, a plethora of welfare “schemes” related to health, education, infrastructure, food security, housing, employment and other sectors are regularly created (and re-created) by the state and central governments.
The latest round of talks between India and Pakistan on the Siachen glacier ended on June 12th without a breakthrough. It’s been twenty-eight years since India launched Operation Meghdoot to pre-emptively occupy the dominating Saltoro ridge on the glacier. It’s been twenty-seven years since Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi of India and President Zia ul-Haq of Pakistan agreed to begin talks at the level of defence secretaries on the Siachen dispute. Thirteen rounds of talks have taken place over these years and both sides have expended considerable amounts of lives and treasure.
This year, India celebrates the 20th anniversary of the 73rd amendment. One of the most striking aspects of the modern Panchayati Raj defined by the amendment is the systematic reservation of political positions (pradhans, sarpanchs, and ward members) for villagers from the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes (SC/ST).