Bangladesh-India relations are perhaps the most complex bilateral relations in the subcontinent. Despite its role in Bangladesh’s independence in 1971, India is often perceived as serving its own self-interests against Pakistan. With the signing of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship in 1972, the two countries attempted to improve their relations to no avail. As a result, decades-old issues concerning land, water, illegal migration, and border security still remain, as does Bangladesh’s seeking of favorable access to Indian markets, particularly for its widely exported garment products.
In a televised address to the nation on November 8, 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a spectacular announcement. At the stroke of midnight, rupee notes in the denomination of ₹500 and ₹1,000, corresponding to an estimated 86 percent of all cash (₹15 trillion) in circulation, would cease to be legal tender. Currency holders were asked to exchange or deposit the demonetized notes in the bank by December 30, 2016.
In February 2014, shortly before he became India’s National Security Advisor, former Intelligence Bureau chief Ajit Doval proclaimed a major policy shift via a long public speech. Pakistani support for separatist and extremist groups in India was declared a strategic threat to be met with disproportionate retaliation in kind, up to and including detaching Balochistan.
On December 30, 2016, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Chairman of the Samajwadi Party, expelled his son, Akhilesh Yadav, from the party. Just one day later, the expulsion was rescinded and Akhilesh Yadav was reinstated. Akhilesh Yadav, the charismatic Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh (UP), had begun to throw his weight around in the party, something to which the party elders—Akhilesh Yadav’s own family members—took strong exception.
The strength of India-Afghanistan relations was on full display at the 6th Heart of Asia Conference held in Amritsar on December 4, 2016. Criticizing Pakistan for providing a “safe haven” to “terrorists” associated with the Afghan centric Haqqani Network and the India centric Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad, New Delhi and Kabul successfully used the platform to isolate and humiliate Islamabad. The two countries also discussed the possibility of an air cargo corridor bypassing Pakistan, which has consistently denied Afghanistan access to Indian markets and vice versa.
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.