In late June, the Indian government launched an ambitious and forward-looking urban program, a centerpiece of Prime Minister Modi’s developmental agenda. The Smart Cities Mission will involve building state-of the-art new cities and modernizing old ones. It has generated reams of newsprint and massive anticipation. India is urbanizing rapidly and haphazardly, and is expected to add four hundred million new city dwellers to its urban population over the next three decades.
Society & Culture
The ambush of Indian Army forces in Manipur, signing of a peace accord with the NSCN-IM in Nagaland, and Gurdaspur attacks have put internal security at the center of Narendra Modi’s agenda. India has a long history of dealing with armed groups, whether Naxalites, tribal separatists, or Kashmiri militants. Yet many of the lessons of India’s experience are consistently ignored in the popular and policy discourses on how to respond to armed groups. This history reveals important insights that have received insufficient attention.
Nearly a decade after the Government of India first announced its intentions to regulate the domestic medical device industry and after many interim, patchwork guidelines, a comprehensive draft National Medical Device Policy (NMDP-2015) has been issued and made public for review by interested stakeholders. Medical devices form a $200 billion global industry, which develops and manufactures essential healthcare equipment ranging in complexity from simple devices like thermometers and stethoscopes to complex devices like pacemakers, ultrasound machines and surgical robots.
Violence between Sunni and Shia Muslims in India has persisted for just over a century. Yet, the phenomenon has received far too little attention by political scientists, journalists, and Indian policymakers, who have almost exclusively focused on Hindu-Muslim violence. Continued neglect and delay in devising creative interventions aimed at reducing sectarian conflict could jeopardize the social cohesion of India, which will have more Muslims than any other country by the 2020s.
Discussions of wealth inequality are now in vogue following the global financial crash of 2007 and Thomas Piketty’s best-selling Capital. This is a welcome departure from the exclusive focus on poverty using calculations based on consumption surveys. Wealth is crucial for consumption smoothing and acts as a buffer to draw upon during times of distress. In many ways, wealth is more aligned with the concept of wellbeing than income or consumption. Wealth is also recognized for its role in creating opportunities for future generations.
Nepal was hit by a devastating earthquake on April 25th, and aftershocks – including a powerful one on May 12th – have continued to rock the country. Over eight thousand people have died. Over 600,000 houses are completely destroyed or partially damaged. Eight million people have been affected in some shape or form. Thousands of school buildings lie in ruins. Kathmandu has lost much of its cultural heritage. The tragedy is just unending, as millions remain homeless with monsoon season four weeks away. There is a resource crunch and supplies of essentials are inadequate.
A toxic mix of hypocrisy, amnesia, opportunism, ignorance, and paternalism has led to a mess on land acquisition legislation. The BJP is finding it difficult to gather enough support to pass its amendment to the Congress-made law and has begun sending mixed signals—maybe they will hold a joint session of parliament to hash this out; maybe they will reissue the ordinance that it tried to turn into an amendment; maybe the states can pick and choose, maybe they don’t have to adhere to the parts of the amended law they don’t like.
Two decades ago, a dramatic shift took place in the rules governing the provision of piped municipal water supply in Mumbai. In this shift, access to municipal water for residents of the city’s popular neighborhoods and “slums” became linked to the rules governing eligibility for inclusion in slum rehabilitation housing schemes.
On May 26, 2014, Narendra Modi invited the heads of all the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) member countries to his swearing-in ceremony. While this important gesture could have marked a new beginning for regional cooperation, such cooperation in South Asia still takes place mainly in the bilateral sphere. Since 1985, India has been a key founding member of four regional initiatives, none of which have achieved any tangible results.
Near the end of President Obama’s recent visit to India, he recorded a radio broadcast with Prime Minister Modi. On the air, Obama indicated a desire to work on public health issues in India once his term ends. One of the issues he referred to, in particular, was obesity, a growing health challenge worldwide. Obesity contributes to several non-communicable diseases (NCDs) that have been garnering more international attention. NCDs refer to health challenges that are largely chronic, evolve gradually, and get progressively worse until tackled.