India, home to four percent of the world’s billionaires, and with approximately four hundred million people living below the poverty line, has both the need and the resources for private philanthropic actors to make a dramatic contribution to its socio-economic development. Two decades of economic liberalization, which has pulled the country into middle income status and opened the doors to growing domestic inequality, has resulted in more pressure on both national politics and domestic sources of redistribution.
Society & Culture
On the eve of India’s founding, no one could have imagined how successfully it would come to navigate the international system. At that time, there were legions of skeptics who believed that the half-life of this new country would be measured in years, perhaps decades at most. The question of when India would split apart was one of the staples of public discussion going back to Churchill’s celebrated remark, “India is a geographical term. It is no more a united nation than the Equator.” Since then, legions of commentators believed that it would be a miracle if India survived.
As the United States and India grow ever closer as partners, they cannot escape the challenges posed by Pakistan, which has been a complication in the bilateral relationship between Washington and New Delhi since 1947. The next American President and his Indian counterpart will find it impossible to ignore the dangers and opportunities posed by Pakistan today. Cooperation between Washington and New Delhi on how to deal with these challenges is crucial and fortunately seems to be improving especially as we prepare for the 2014 transition in Afghanistan.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Not long ago, the Bar Council of India found itself amidst a controversy regarding the qualifications required to practice law. Despite resistance from law students, it introduced an examination that law graduates would have to take in order to enroll at the bar. The measure, notwithstanding its uncertain legality as per a strict reading of the Advocates Act 1961, was an ambitious one: law schools have, by and large, focused on regulating the input of students, thereby ensuring quality; this change aimed at scrutinizing the output as well.
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.