From early 2011 to the end of 2012, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) coalition government led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh faced its biggest civic challenge in the India Against Corruption (IAC) movement. This agitation came to a crescendo off the back of a sequence of high-profile corruption scandals involving senior government officials. The UPA, after a successful re-election in 2009, found itself in the midst of a credibility and corruption crisis.
This week marks the 60th anniversary of the Suez Canal Crisis, an event that was of enormous importance to India’s approach to the region in general and to the rise of Arab nationalism. India was blindsided by the developments that had led to the crisis in the first place and there are many lessons to be learned from India’s handling of it through the UN and in direct diplomacy with all interested parties. The crisis had its genesis in a tripartite aggression when Israel, Britain, and France invaded Egyptian territory on October 29, 1956.
In part one of this two-part series on India’s informal slum leaders, we discussed how some slum residents rise to become leaders of their settlement, and the range of activities in which they are involved. In this issue, we draw on our second survey, conducted in the summer of 2016, of a sample of 629 actual slum leaders across those same settlements. Finding slum leaders, let alone a systematic and large sample of them, is extremely challenging, and to our knowledge, has not been previously attempted in India.
India’s demographic shift to cities has been accompanied by a number of pressing governance and development challenges. Among the most serious of those challenges is the spread of slum settlements—spaces defined by their haphazard construction, material poverty, tenure insecurity, and lack of basic public services. The 2011 Census of India estimates that 65 million people reside in the country’s urban slums. This is a staggering figure, exceeding the entire population of countries like Argentina, South Africa, and Spain.
The last decade has witnessed a steady rise in activism by the urban middle class, as demonstrated by the historic India Against Corruption Movement. It gave rise to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP),arguably India’s first major class-based urban political party. Beyond large cities, the 2014 general election saw the middle classes vote more than the poor for the first time in recent history.
Girls in India face many challenges. From the moment they are conceived, they are less likely to be born as compared to boys. This presence of “missing girls” appears to be linked to access to ultrasound technology. Moreover, girls also get breastfed for a shorter duration and get fewer childcare investments. Growing up, they are less likely to be educated than boys.
Studies of Indian politics have emphasized the importance of ethnicity to political behavior. Yet, India is a country where individuals simultaneously hold multiple ethnic identities of language, religion, and politicized umbrella caste categories (such as upper castes, backward castes, and scheduled castes), as well as highly localized sub-caste/kinship groups of “biradari” or “jati.” If individuals hold multiple identities, then which of these identities matter to voters at election time and why?
A funny thing happened in late 2015 in the north Indian state of Bihar. In the state legislative election, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won far more votes than any other party. Nevertheless, the BJP emerged as only the third-largest party in the legislature. In a country like India, whose first-past-the-post electoral system usually advantages the largest party, how does a party lose an election even as it wins the most votes?
Only 5 percent of Indians report they are in intercaste marriages. This often results in the casual observation that caste drives matrimonial choices. Traditionally, marriage outside caste has not found social approval, as honor killings continue to be reported across the country. However, in urban, middle-class India, young people are no longer limiting their search for marriage partners within their own caste.
Earlier this year in mid-April, the Prime Minister officially launched the National Agricultural Market (NAM), designed to serve as a “pan-India electronic trading portal which networks the existing APMC mandis to create a unified national market for agricultural commodities” (e-nam.gov.in). First proposed in the Union Budget for 2014-15, the NAM, currently in its pilot phase, includes 21 markets across 8 states and 11 commodities.