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.
All countries struggle to deliver affordable, high-quality health care to their citizens. If a resource-constrained nation like India has to achieve the twin goals of affordable and quality health care for all, it will require drastic re-engineering of the health care delivery model. India faces two main realities: a large population and low per capita GDP, leaving little room for the substantial investments necessary to build health care infrastructure. An acute shortage of doctors outside major metropolitan areas further compounds the problem.
As we embark upon a new decade, India celebrates the tenth anniversary of its Right to Education Act (RTE), which went into effect in April 2010. While the RTE has been censured for its limited focus on governance and learning outcomes, its achievement in improving access to schooling over the past ten years is undeniable. The RTE has also served as a rallying point for a wide range of stakeholders to intervene in the sector.
Last year at the IISS Shangri-La dialogue, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi outlined India’s conceptualization of the Indo-Pacific as a geographic continuum stretching from the east coast of Africa to the shores of America. India didn’t adopt Indo-Pacific at the behest of the US; its scholarly origins date back to the works of Kalidas Nag who employed the concept in his writings (India and the Pacific world) in the 1940s. Subsequently, scholars such as C. Raja Mohan and Capt.
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.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address on March 27, 2019 began with the declaration that India had “established itself as a global space power.” This statement was premised on the notion that an anti-satellite (ASAT) test was “necessary” to demonstrate India’s status as a space-faring nation. However, India has been internationally recognized for its space-faring prowess for decades, given its unique ability to manufacture innovative technology at economical rates, evidenced by the increasing use of Indian launch services by foreign nations.
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?
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.
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.