India 2020 –

Written by  //  February 11, 2020  //  India  //  No comments

Modi’s party concedes defeat in Delhi after polarising campaign
Anti-establishment AAP on course to win 62 seats after BJP played up anti-Muslim rhetoric
(The Guardian) India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata party has suffered a major defeat in another key state election, after failing to win over voters in Delhi with a campaign that was one of its most polarising yet.
The anti-establishment Aam Aadmi party (AAP), which has governed the capital for the past five years, is on course to win 62 seats in the 70-seat assembly after running on an agenda centred on anti-corruption, healthcare and education, which have hugely improved during its time in power.
Much of AAP’s popularity is centred on its leader, Arvind Kejriwal, once a self-confessed anarchist and anti-corruption activist, who has been highly critical of the BJP government during his time as Delhi chief minister. Speaking at a press conference after his party’s victory was assured, a visibly emotional Kejriwal said: “It is a victory of people of Delhi who considered me their son.”
While the Delhi polls are always among the most closely contested elections in India, determining who will control India’s capital city of more than 20 million people, this year felt particularly heated due to the protests that have rocked Delhi and the rest of the country in response to Modi’s new citizenship law (CAA), which critics say is prejudicial against Muslims.

7 February
C Uday Bhaskar: The interplay between politics and the military
While the politicisation of the military remains a concern, so is the militarisation of political discourse and practice
(Hindustan Times) Pakistan is cast as the abiding enemy and more recent domestic political protests over the Citizenship (Amendement) Act have been packaged in an adroit, but potentially dangerous manner, as being “anti-national”, supportive of jihadi terrorism, and an insult to the memory of the brave soldier. In summary — the citizen who either engages in peaceful protest, or decides to vote for a party other than the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is now cast as a security threat and the deplorable exhortation “goli maaro saalon ko (shoot the scoundrels)” is part of the militarisation of the prevailing political discourse. The observations by the CDS, however freewheeling, are perplexing and indicative of this nascent internalising of the political discourse by the military apex. Specific to the fiscal allocation for the armed forces, General Rawat averred that the budget allocated to the military was adequate, and added : “Management of budget is critical. Budget is more a management issue than an issue of adequate funds.”
This goes against the guarded statements made by successive service chiefs for decades that the overall allocation is inadequate to maintain the operational edge that the security environment warrants.

23 January
C Uday Bhaskar| Is India becoming less democratic?
The government should listen to the President’s counsel, and engage with aggrieved citizens
As India prepares to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the adoption of its majestic Constitution that empowered “We the people” on Sunday (January 26) , its democratic credentials have come under less than flattering scrutiny. The 2019 Democracy Index report of the London-based Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) released on January 22 placed India at the 51st spot, marking a sharp drop of 10 places from the previous year’s rankings.
While Norway leads the list, and is in the category of “full democracies”, North Korea, ranked 167, is at the bottom of the ladder and clubbed among “authoritarian regimes”. India has been placed in the category of “flawed democracies”, which has a total of 54 countries. It is instructive to note that the world’s oldest democracy, the United States of America, is deemed to be similarly “flawed” and is at the 25th spot. Furthermore, in the neighbourhood, Bangladesh has moved up eight rungs to the 80th rank.
Clearly, 2019 has been a blighted year for democracies, for the report notes that the average global score for democracy declined from 5.48 in 2018 to 5.44, and added that “this is the worst average global score since the EIU index was first produced in 2006”.
India has also been accorded its lowest score since the democracy index was mooted 14 years ago… India has, in the past, rejected international assessments that have been critical of its track record even while enthusiastically accepting more positive endorsement of its achievements. Selective petulance is not the hallmark of a self-assured democracy that can accept objective and constructive criticism, and the Narendra Modi government has been particularly sensitive on this score.

22 January
India tests K4 Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile: Still a long way to go?
India recently entered the global nuclear weapon club, with the successful test of K4 Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile being the latest development in this regard. In this article, Commodore C Uday Bhaskar (retd) has stressed upon the long path that the country has to travel before the SLBM could become fully operational. Going by the experience of other nations, despite being powerful, this dream project requires a requisite degree of national will and financial resources before it attains the credibility that it desires

21 January
Sambandh as Strategy: India’s new approach to regional connectivity
(Brookings) Marked by a history of political divisions, economic differences, and geostrategic divergences, the Indian subcontinent remains deeply divided, with exceptionally low levels of integration. No other regional power is as disconnected from its immediate neighbourhood as India. Recognising this disconnect as a challenge to India’s economic and security interests, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made both intra- and inter-regional connectivity a policy priority in 2014. Speaking on the importance of the Indo-Pacific region at the 2018 Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, he emphasised the country’s new strategic imperative.
Within South Asia, Modi’s government framed a Neighbourhood First policy to signal India’s commitment to regional connectivity. From.a policy of strategic insulation and neglect during much of the Cold War, and a reluctant embrace of regionalism thereafter, India’s regional policy has now shifted irreversibly towards strengthening cross-border relations. Progress has been significant (reviewed ahead), and even unprecedented, including the laying of new pipelines, building electricity networks, upgrading port, rail, and airport infrastructure, and reinvigorating people-to-people exchanges. However, despite such extraordinary progress on various fronts, Delhi’s regional activism and ambition has also been a victim of its own success, exposing implementation deficits. After decades of regional introversion and policy stagnation, new government and private stakeholders struggle to flesh out connectivity on the ground, revealing challenges in coordination and execution.

15 January
Cracking down on student protests augurs ill for Indian democracy
The dissent by young India is being cast as a diabolical anti-national act, even while many of the leaders in the BJP led government cut their teeth in politics during their student days, writes C Uday Bhaskar for South Asia Monitor.
(South Asia Monitor) The brutal, premeditated attack on the students and faculty of JNU (Jawaharlal Nehru University ) by a group of masked hoodlums on Sunday (Jan 5) and the visible reluctance of Delhi Police to act against the perpetrators of this violence raises some disturbing questions about the health of Indian democracy and the eroding faith of the young citizen in the Indian state.
Ironically, a week later (January 12), the 158th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, was celebrated nation-wide as National Youth Day. In the intervening seven days after the dastardly attack on JNU, young India as represented in the many universities and colleges across the country expressed their solidarity with their injured colleagues in JNU and the other two universities that have been targeted – the Jamia Milia Islamia in Delhi and the Aligarh Muslim University.
What began as a limited protest against a sudden and steep fee hike by the JNU students acquired a national footprint over the CAA that began in Assam and soon spread to major universities. The linking of citizenship to religion and the inherent anti-Muslim bias was perceived to be a means of distorting the spirit of the Constitution and the protests in Aligarh and Jamia in December permeated the larger body of civil society across India – from the common citizen to retired bureaucrats, academics, film celebrities and other strata that included the heroic housewives of Shaheen Bagh, a Muslim-dominated residential neighbourhood near the Jamia university in the capital.

Leave a Comment

comm comm comm