India September 2023-June 2024

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6 March 2024
Can the next government build on India’s economic potential?
Modi looks set to return amid continued infrastructure spending
(The Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF)) About a billion Indian voters will head to the polls this spring to determine the direction of the world’s most-populous country over the next five years. The new government will manage an India that is rising in economic and geopolitical stature on the global stage. Still, challenges abound, particularly how to create jobs for the vast numbers of people entering India’s labour force in the coming years.
To sustain this momentum, there are critical tasks for the next government in further pursuing economic reform and reducing fiscal weaknesses. Improved health of corporate and bank balance sheets, if matched with sustained improvements in the regulatory environment and fiscal management, should pave the way for a positive private investment cycle, driving growth and creating job opportunities.
… The Modi government’s first two terms were marked by some notable reform successes, namely the 2016 Goods and Services Tax implementation, the 2016 Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code and further opening of the economy to foreign investors.
Overall progress has been mixed, however, with some missteps, including demonetisation, periodic tariff hikes, the withdrawal of landmark 2020 agricultural reforms and 2020 labour reforms still languishing at the state level.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and opposition leader Rahul Gandhi have locked horns in recent days as a debate over wealth redistribution takes centrestage in India amid national elections

3-5 June
Ian Bremmer: The Road Ahead for Modi and India
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi won his third consecutive five-year term by a smaller-than-expected margin. But Modi’s personal appeal at home and the inroads he has helped establish for India abroad will make his country’s development one of the most important stories of the next decade.
Though his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) didn’t roll to the landslide victory he hoped for, Narendra Modi has secured a rare third five-year term as India’s prime minister. It wasn’t an easy win.
High inflation and unemployment helped a more unified opposition portray Modi as too cozy with big business, reducing his BJP-led alliance’s margin of victory. Growing wealth inequality forced Modi to lean more heavily on the appeal of an often-ugly Hindu nationalism, a burden he has allowed subordinates to carry in the past. In addition, India’s media environment has become more polarized, with many more people getting their news online than when Modi was first elected a decade ago. But Modi himself remains far more popular than his party. He has built a reputation for personal integrity, and after a decade in office, his name recognition is uncontestable. That matters in a country with dozens of different languages spoken by millions of people. Once the votes were counted in the world’s largest and longest-running election, Modi emerged again as the man of the moment.

Rahul Gandhi, Long on the Ropes, Looks Set for an Unexpected Comeback
The Indian National Congress and its leader registered a far stronger showing in India’s elections than many expected.
(NYT) … on Tuesday, Mr. Gandhi and a broad opposition coalition led by his Congress party registered a far stronger showing than expected in India’s elections, setting the stage for an unlikely comeback.
Modi loses parliamentary majority in Indian election
Latest results reveal unexpected blow to PM, forcing negotiation with coalition partners to regain power
Indian Surprise
By Gwynne Dyer

“Pride goeth before a fall”, says the Old Testament, so India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi was just begging for humiliation. It duly arrived.
In ten years in office he had never held a press conference and very rarely even gave an interview, but before this election he was so confident that his BJP (Indian People’s Party) would win that he let it all hang out. In a TV interview in his own Varanasi constituency, he revealed that his birth had been a divine event.
The opinion polls said the BJP would win in a landslide, the media followed suit, and various pundits began writing about the impending demise of India’s democracy. They were all wrong.
Some voters took the long view and understood the threat Modi posed to India’s future as a united country; others just feared that the BJP was getting too big for its boots and needed to be taken down a peg – and some others, mostly not Hindus, actually feared for their lives. Together they were numerous enough to spoil Modi’s party.
The BJP’s seat count collapsed to 240, and even with its allies it barely has enough seats to form a majority government. Modi’s dream of rewriting the constitution to entrench Hindu superiority has melted away, and even his prospects for a full third term in power are looking distinctly shaky.
If the electoral coalition he formed with two smaller parties holds together, he will be able to form a government with a small majority (292 seats) in the Lok Sabha. But both the Janata Dal (United) party and the Telugu Desam Party are regional parties that tend to lend their votes to the highest bidder.
They made their alliance with the BJP only a few months ago, in the belief that its dominance was inevitable and they had better make their peace with it. They are sticking to their commitment for the time being, and Modi is including them in a government led by a shrunken and much chastened BJP contingent of parliamentarians.
However, the BJP’s smaller partners and their mere twenty-eight seats are now potentially the kingmakers in the Lok Sabha. If they switch sides, the government might change. India’s future may be less stable as a result, but at least the worst has been avoided. The world’s biggest country remains a democracy.
India’s low-caste voters [Dalits] humbled its powerful prime minister
Modi’s stunning setback in elections this week reflected the power of low-caste Hindus who rebelled against his ruling BJP.
In a bruising campaign over the past seven weeks, Modi often appealed to religion, portraying himself as a champion of Hindus anointed by God and denouncing Muslims as “infiltrators.” But ultimately, according to political analysts, the election was decided along the fault lines of caste and class.
Political analysts say Modi’s electoral setback partly reflects grievances rooted in the widening economic gulfs and challenges facing India, particularly since the pandemic. Entering the election, unemployment was running high at 8.1 percent, according to the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy. In March, a group of researchers, including the French economist Thomas Piketty, found that wealth inequality in India had worsened under Modi and reached a record level, surpassing that during British colonial times.
… Opposition leaders also warned that if the Hindu-nationalist BJP and its allies won a landslide of 400 parliamentary seats, as Modi had predicted, the government might amend the constitution to eliminate guaranteed affirmative action for Dalits and revoke the secular nature of the Indian republic. Both prospects have long been mooted by some BJP officials. At every rally, Rahul Gandhi, the Congress leader, waved a pocket-size copy of the Indian constitution.
Modi survives, Congress revives, regional parties thrive
Modi Vows to Retain Power Even as Party Loses India Majority
By Menaka Doshi
Race starts to form government as opposition delivers surprise
Markets plummet as results raise questions about Modi’s future
(Bloomberg) Rural Indians have just taught Modi and the stock markets a tough lesson — that millionaires are no measure of a country’s prosperity.
The election result set off a landslide in stocks — the benchmark Nifty50 has now lost all the gains it made this year. Bonds and the rupee weakened too.
As I write this, the BJP continues to trail in Faizabad, the constituency home to Ayodhya’s Ram temple — inaugurated by Modi with great pomp earlier this year. Voters have told Modi, keep your Hindu-Muslim nonsense and give us jobs
Narendra Modi loses aura of invincibility as predicted landslide fails to materialise
Exit polls had projected overwhelming victory for the BJP and an even stronger mandate for India’s strongman
India’s elections may return Narendra Modi to power for a third term but Tuesday’s results did not have the flavour of victory for the strongman prime minister.
Modi on the ropes
(Bloomberg Balance of Power newsletter) On Saturday night, it looked like the marathon six-week Indian election would be wrapped up in about 20 minutes. Prime Minister Narendra Modi all but declared victory after exit polls showed his ruling party would cruise to an easy win.
Fast forward to today, when real votes are counted, and suddenly it’s all going wrong for Modi*. Although ballots are still being tallied, his Bharatiya Janata Party — while still winning the most seats — looks all but certain to lose the single-party majority in parliament that it has enjoyed since he first became prime minister in 2014.
That is a perilous position for Modi. Two of the allies in his National Democratic Alliance are known for switching sides if they get better offers. Depending on the final vote count, there’s a chance they could be enticed to join the opposition I.N.D.I.A. coalition, a collection of regional and caste-based parties that unified in a bid to take him down.
*Modi’s Party Poised to Lose India Majority in Stunning Blow
Modi’s ruling party poised to lose its majority
BJP will have to rely on allies to form a government
Stocks, bonds, rupee slide, erasing many gains from Monday
Opposition bloc, including Congress, poised to win over 220 seats
India vote count shows Modi alliance heading to majority but no landslide
By YP Rajesh, Sakshi Dayal and Tanvi Mehta
Modi’s alliance leads in a majority of seats
Challenge by opposition stronger than expected
Stock market falls nearly 6% due to uncertainty
TV exit polls had indicated landslide win for Modi
(Reuters) – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was falling short of a majority of its own in the 543-member parliament, the trends showed. Having to depend on allies to form the government could introduce some uncertainty in policy-making as Modi has ruled with an authoritative hold in the last decade.

30 May
The Guardian view on India’s election: Narendra Modi’s audacity of hate
India’s prime minister encourages a belief in his divinity, leading followers to think it is God’s purpose to spread fear and loathing
“No party or candidate shall include in any activity which may aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred or cause tension between different castes and communities, religious or linguistic.” So reads the rulebook for Indian elections. Has anyone told Narendra Modi? India’s prime minister has resorted to overtly Islamophobic language during the two-month campaign, painting India’s 200 million Muslims as an existential threat to the Hindu majority. Laughably, the body charged with conducting free and fair polls did issue a feeble call for restraint from “star campaigners”. With the Indian election results out next week, one commentator warned Mr Modi has “put a target on Indian Muslims’ backs, redirecting the anger of poor and marginalised Hindu communities away from crony capitalists and the privileged upper castes”.
Mr Modi’s tirades are meant to distract an electorate suffering from high inflation and a lack of jobs despite rapid economic growth.

26 May
I’m an Indian Muslim, and I’m Scared to Say So
By Mohammad Ali, journalist and writer who focuses on right-wing efforts to transform India into a Hindu nation,
Islamophobia isn’t new to India, and Muslims also faced prejudice and recurring violence during the generations in which the liberal upper-caste Hindu elite dominated the nation’s secular democratic politics. But under Mr. Modi’s right-wing leadership, hatred of Muslims has effectively become state policy. India is now a country where police have been accused of standing by as Hindus attack Muslims, where the killers of religious minorities go unpunished and where Hindu extremists openly call for the genocide of Muslims.
(NYT) For 10 years, Mr. Modi’s Hindu-chauvinist government has vilified the nation’s 200 million Muslims as dangerous undesirables. Recently, he took that rhetoric to a new low during the six weeks of voting in India’s national elections — which are widely expected to win him a third consecutive five-year term — directly referring to Muslims as “infiltrators” in a country that he and his followers seek to turn into a pure Hindu state. …
India is home to one of the world’s largest Muslim populations. Islam came here around 1,300 years ago, and Indian Muslims descend from natives of this land who converted to Islam centuries ago. Many Indian Muslims fought against British colonization, and millions rejected the 1947 partition of the country into a predominantly Hindu India and a mostly Muslim Pakistan. India is our home, and people like me are proud patriots.

24 May
The battle for Delhi: Will Modi’s BJP pass bellwether Indian election test?
The BJP has won Delhi in all but two national elections since 1989. This time, its two biggest rivals have teamed up. What happens will have outsized influence nationally, say experts.
(Al Jazeera) The national capital has only seven parliamentary seats but its significance far exceeds that as the “political power centre of India”, said Tanvir Aeijaz, associate professor in the department of political science at Ramjas College at the University of Delhi.
And for the BJP, those seven seats have long served as a bellwether of its national prospects.* Even before the party came to power nationally, Delhi served as a stronghold for the Hindu majoritarian BJP. Since 1989, the party has only failed to win a majority of the city’s parliamentary seats twice – in 2004 and 2009. On both those occasions, the party also lost overall nationally.
* UPDATE 5 June BJP clean sweeps Delhi again, wins all seven Lok Sabha seats

23 May
Is Modi Worried? India’s Long-Deflated Opposition Finds Some Momentum.
(NYT) … As Mr. Modi crisscrosses the country for rallies in 100-degree heat, he has often appeared on the defensive, and sometimes rattled. He has frequently set aside his party’s main campaign message — that India is rising under his leadership — to counter his opponents’ portrayal of him as favoring business and caste elites. He has resorted to stoking anti-Muslim sentiments to fend off attempts to split his Hindu support base, only to deny his own words later.
Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, or B.J.P., is still a heavy favorite. But it is finding that the political opposition, counted out after big losses to Mr. Modi in the previous two national elections, has some fight left in it.

20 May
‘Modi builds highways but where are our jobs?’: rising inequality looms over India’s election
While the number of Indian billionaires soars, growing unemployment has become a big problem for the BJP as it campaigns for a third term
(The Guardian) … To some, this growing cohort of the super-rich shows India has become an economic success story in the past decade of Narendra Modi’s government. The country is now regularly described as the world’s fastest-growing economy, with GDP growth in 2023 pegged at 7.6%, far higher than that in most western countries.
But … [s]everal leading economists and academics have questioned the true strength of India’s growth under Modi, pointing to discrepancies in the data. Many argue that while there has been growth, it is largely concentrated at the very top, fuelling unprecedented inequality.
As rising inflation has hit poorer families the hardest, frustration at the growing chasm between rich and poor is threatening to dent Modi’s popularity. Unemployment – a problem that lies at the heart of the country’s widening inequality – remains a major issue for his re-election campaign as the bottom 50% grapple with a chronic lack of decent jobs.

14 May
Narendra Modi Is Preparing for a Thousand-Year Legacy
Interviews with dozens of government officials, childhood friends and former associates reveal how the prime minister’s core beliefs shape his decisions.
By Sudhi Ranjan Sen and Daniel Ten Kate
(Bloomberg) For Modi, the melding of religion and politics has been a lifelong project that has turned him into one of the world’s most popular and polarizing leaders. While Indian elections are notoriously unpredictable, pre-election polls show his Hindu-dominant Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, is poised to win another majority when a six-week national election winds up on June 4, extending his 10-year rule and all but assuring he’ll hold the office continuously for the longest period since Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister.
With Asia’s third-largest economy presenting an exceptional growth opportunity over the next decade as China slows, it’s more important than ever for global investors to understand where Modi plans to take India in his second decade in power. The nation’s stock market capitalization briefly overtook Hong Kong this year as the fourth largest in the world, and Modi is becoming an increasingly important geopolitical player as the US courts India as a counterweight to China
Bloomberg spoke with several dozen people who have seen Modi up close over the years. …What emerges is a portrait of a man who appears on the surface to have many contradictions.
He’s dogmatic when it comes to religion but is largely a pragmatist on economic policy. He speaks of India in thousand-year increments but pores over the smallest details of government programs. He lives modestly but cares deeply about his image. He’s a champion of the poor and a friend to billionaires. He wins democratic elections but faces accusations of suppressing political rivals and largely avoids unscripted media encounters. He unites Hindus who account for 80% of India’s population but has left religious minorities — particularly Muslims — feeling marginalized, unwanted and fearful.

13 May
India’s mammoth election is more than halfway done as millions begin voting in fourth round
(AP) — Millions of Indians across 96 constituencies began casting their ballots on Monday as the country’s gigantic, six-week-long election edges past its halfway mark. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking a third straight term with an eye on winning a supermajority in Parliament.
Monday’s polling in the fourth round of multi-phase national elections across nine states and one union territory will be pivotal for Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, as it includes some of its strongholds in states like Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
India’s election enters fourth phase as rhetoric over religion, inequality sharpens
By Rishika Sadam and Fayaz Bukhari
(Reuters) – India voted on Monday in the fourth phase of a seven-week long general election, as campaign rhetoric became more strident over economic disparities and religious divisions.
Voting on Monday for 96 parliament seats largely covered the southern and eastern states of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha, where the BJP is not as strong as in the country’s north and west.
Srinagar, the main city of the troubled Kashmir Valley, is also voting for the first time since Modi’s 2019 decision to remove the region’s semi-autonomy. The BJP is not contesting there, as analysts said the outcome was likely to contradict Modi’s narrative of a peaceful, more integrated Kashmir.
… Analysts have raised doubts over whether the BJP and its allies can win the landslide predicted by opinion polls, and said the lower turnout had prompted Modi to change the tack of his campaign after the first phase.
Modi has shifted focus from his economic record to accusing the Congress of planning to extend welfare benefits to Muslims at the expense of disadvantaged tribal groups and Hindu castes. … Congress is pitching for better representation and welfare programmes for poor and disadvantaged groups, stating that wealth inequality has worsened during Modi’s 10-year term, which the government has rejected.

10 May
Jailed Indian opposition leader granted bail to take part in election campaign
Supreme court judges order Arvind Kejriwal’s release until 1 June and question timing of his arrest on corruption charges
(The Guardian) One of India’s best-known opposition leaders, Arvind Kejriwal, the chief minister of Delhi, has been granted bail by the country’s supreme court to allow him to take part in general election campaigningafter being kept behind bars for almost two months.
Kejriwal, who heads the Aam Aadmi party (AAP), has been held in jail since March when he was arrested on money-laundering charges. He has maintained that his arrest and detention was politically motivated to prevent him taking part in the election, which began in April and will continue until June.

8 May
Should India take from the rich, give the poor? A new election flashpoint
As India enters the second half of its giant election, wealth distribution has emerged as a central campaign faultline — and a battering ram for PM Modi to target the opposition.
(Al Jazeera) … A new study by researchers at the World Inequality Lab shows that income and wealth inequality in India today is, in many ways, worse than it was even under British colonial rule. India’s richest 1 percent control 22.6 percent of national income and more than 40 percent of the country’s wealth. Meanwhile, the bottom 50 percent control less than 10 percent of national wealth. …
… At the heart of this latest political slugfest is the idea of a potential redistribution of wealth. But while the Congress party has alluded to the need for some resources to be reallocated to traditional marginalised economic and caste-based communities, Modi and the BJP have accused the opposition of plotting to hand over wealth from Hindu households to Muslims.
In April, Rahul Gandhi, a scion of the Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty, said if voted to office, his Congress party would conduct a caste census along with an economic and institutional survey to determine who owns what and earns how much. Following this, a portion of the 16 trillion rupees ($192bn) of benefits given to 22 big businessmen by the Modi government would be transferred to 90 percent of the country’s people, as a starting point for delivering social justice, he said.
Gandhi described the caste census as an “X-ray” into Indian society. “This is not a political issue for me, this is my life mission,” Gandhi said. “You can write down; no force can stop the caste census.’’

7 May
Can Modi finally win over the southern states and reshape India’s electoral map?
Making a breakthrough into India’s southern states, among the richest and most well-educated in the country, is crucial to Modi’s ambitions to gain an even larger parliamentary majority in this election and extend the reach of the BJP to every corner of the country. However, it will be no easy feat for his party.
The BJP has never won a seat in Kerala, and it won no seats in Tamil Nadu in the last election, in 2019.
The state[s]’ chief ministers have also emerged as some of Modi’s fiercest critics and accused the BJP of depriving them of tax income and investment to punish and undermine their governments.
Many fear that the gulf between India’s north and south could worsen after 2026, when India’s electoral map is due to be redrawn according to population growth. India’s poorer, more populous north – the stronghold of the BJP – is likely to gain parliamentary seats while southern states, which successfully brought down their populations years ago though progressive welfare and education policies, are likely to lose significant parliamentary representation.

India election 2024 updates: Millions vote in third phase of Lok Sabha poll
The third of the seven-phase India general election saw 11 states voting for 93 seats in Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament.
(Al Jazeera) The first two phases of the vote were held on April 19 and April 26 in 190 constituencies, with a voter turnout of 66.1 percent and 66.7 percent, respectively, about 4 percent lower than in 2019.
Modi Wanted an Election Scapegoat. He’s Got One
The prime minister’s bid to win a third term in office is putting a target on the back of the nation’s Muslim minority.
(Bloomberg) As India’s six-week-long general election grinds past the halfway mark, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s messaging has shifted from confident to shrill. After the first couple of phases of polling showed a 3-percentage-point drop in turnout, both Modi and his party leaders have largely stopped promoting their accomplishments of the past 10 years, or, for that matter, the “Modi guarantees” offered in the Bharatiya Janata Party’s manifesto for the next five.
Modi Is Winning Over Indian Women to Grow Majority for Next Term
(Bloomberg) More women are voting in Indian elections than ever before
Targeted programs and Modi’s star power are key drivers

3 May
India’s Despotic Election
Debasish Roy Chowdhury
India is no longer the model free-market democracy that Westerners spent years imagining, encouraging, and touting. With Prime Minister Narendra Modi having bent the media, big business, and democratic institutions to his will, India’s markets and politics are becoming less free – as the ongoing election is set to confirm.
(Project Syndicate) Modi’s government has spent a decade eroding civil liberties and minority rights, curtailing dissent, undermining democratic institutions, and building a cult of personality. While Western governments continue to pretend that India is the world’s largest democracy, the country is beginning to resemble a Central Asian dictatorship.
Those monitoring the health of democracy around the world are unanimous in their bleak prognosis of India under Modi. Freedom House describes India as only “partly free,” and the V-Dem Institute in Sweden has, since 2018, categorized it as an “electoral autocracy.” In its 2024 Democracy Report, V-Dem singles India out as “one of the worst autocratizers lately.” From Russia and Hungary to Turkey and (until recently) Poland, a common pattern of the twenty-first-century autocratizers is that, unlike textbook authoritarians, the new despots cunningly stop short of destroying or fully dismantling democracy. Recognizing the legitimizing power of democracy, they use its processes to rise to power, often through polarizing identity politics. Once in office, they then move to capture or hollow out democratic institutions – including the judiciary and independent media – that otherwise might serve as a check on their majoritarianism. Modi’s decade in power has offered a masterclass in this process.

29 April
An assassination plot on American soil reveals a darker side of Modi’s India
By Greg Miller, Gerry Shih and Ellen Nakashima
Note: India’s assassination plots in the United States and Canada are part of an expanding wave of aggression against dissident groups seeking protection in other countries. Their home governments are increasingly willing to disregard the sovereignty of those nations and send agents across borders to subdue political enemies.
(WaPo) This examination of Indian assassination plots in North America, and [India’s intelligence service’s Research and Analysis Wing] RAW’s increasingly aggressive global posture, is based on interviews with more than three dozen current and former senior officials in the United States, India, Canada, Britain, Germany and Australia. …
That India would pursue lethal operations in North America has stunned Western security officials. In some ways, however, it reflects a profound shift in geopolitics. After years of being treated as a second-tier player, India sees itself as a rising force in a new era of global competition, one that even the United States cannot afford to alienate. …
The foiled assassination was part of an escalating campaign of aggression by RAW against the Indian diaspora in Asia, Europe and North America, officials said. The plot in the United States coincided with the June 18 shooting death of Sikh activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Surrey, B.C., near Vancouver — an operation also linked to Yadav, according to Western officials. Both plots took place amid a wave of violence in Pakistan, where at least 11 Sikh or Kashmiri separatists living in exile and labeled terrorists by the Modi government have been killed over the past two years.

19-23 April
Modi is accused of using hate speech for calling Muslims ‘infiltrators’ at an Indian election rally — some of his most incendiary rhetoric about the country’s minority faith, days after the nation began its weeks-long general election.
(The World/AP) The remarks at a campaign rally Sunday drew fierce criticism that Modi was peddling anti-Muslim tropes. The Congress party filed a complaint Monday with the Election Commission of India, alleging he broke rules that bar candidates from engaging in any activity that aggravates religious tensions. At a rally in the state of Rajasthan, Modi said that when the Congress party was in government, “they said Muslims have the first right over the country’s resources.” If it returns to power, the party “will gather all your wealth and distribute it among those who have more children,” he said as the crowd applauded. “They will distribute it among infiltrators,” he continued, saying, “Do you think your hard-earned money should be given to infiltrators?”
Why elections in India, the world’s largest democracy, are crucial to watch
(PBS) Over the weekend, in an election campaign rally in northwest India, Modi referred to Muslims as “infiltrators.” His critics have called it hate speech. When he travels abroad, he speaks proudly of India’s pluralistic values and stakes claim to Gandhi’s legacy, but at home, he echoes a high-pitched, anti-Muslim rhetoric.
With the latest speech and the last decade of his rule, Modi’s vision for the country has been clear.

Voting is underway in the world’s largest democracy
(Politico Nightly) …while some celebrate the elections conducted by the world’s largest democracy, Oxford University professor Maya Tudor thinks that rising signs of illiberalism are undercutting India’s democratic project in ways that mirror trends in democratic backsliding across the world — and could foreshadow developments in the United States.
“Because the media and the world focuses so much on elections, the world looks more democratic than if you also focus on civil liberties,” said Tudor, the author of The Promise of Power: The Origins of Democracy in India and Autocracy in Pakistan. “But the right to dissent against governments everywhere and to still be considered a loyal citizen is declining almost everywhere, including in the United States. This trend is epitomized by India’s decline.”
… “India today is not a robust democracy, not in my view nor the view of any major and independent democracy watchdog. But accurately answering the question of whether India is a democracy first requires having a clear view of what democracy entails. The average citizen defines democracy as a set of institutions that guarantees citizens voice in government. Of course that means elections, because elections are the clearest moment in which the people’s voice is heard. And India absolutely still holds elections that are free and fair.
But Russia and China also hold elections. So elections alone do not make a country a democracy. To be a democracy, one also needs to have genuine opposition candidates, candidates that are able to organize without systematic state harassment, and journalists who feel able to scrutinize the government.
India does not have a free media today — indeed it is below Belarus and Hong Kong in the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index. It doesn’t have protected civil liberties especially for critics of the government. It does not have a robust parliament scrutinizing government bills. So yes, India still has elections and those elections are meaningful. But Modi has so effectively clamped down on the other pillars of democracy that I would not consider India a full democracy.”
Indians vote in huge election dominated by jobs, Hindu pride and Modi
By Krishn Kaushik, Praveen Paramasivam and YP Rajesh
Election to run seven weeks with 968 million eligible voters
60% voters turnout in first phase
PM Modi expected to win rare third term
Modi showcases growth, welfare, Hindu nationalism
Demoralised opposition struggles to mount challenge
(Reuters) – The first of India’s almost one billion voters cast ballots on Friday in the country’s multi-day election, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks a rare third term on the back of issues such as growth, welfare and Hindu nationalism.
The vote pits Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) against an alliance of two dozen opposition parties that promise greater affirmative action and more handouts while stressing what they call the need to save democratic institutions.
Indians vote in the first phase of the world’s largest election as Modi seeks a third term
(AP) Millions of Indians began voting Friday in a six-week election that’s being seen as a referendum on Narendra Modi, the populist prime minister who has championed an assertive brand of Hindu nationalist politics and is seeking a rare third term as the country’s leader. People began queuing up at polling stations hours before they were allowed in at 7 a.m. in the first 21 states to hold voting, from the Himalayan mountains to the tropical Andaman Islands. Nearly 970 million voters — more than 10% of the world’s population — will elect 543 members to the lower house of Parliament for five years during staggered elections that run until June 1. The votes will be counted on June 4. This election is seen as one of the most consequential in India’s history and will test the limits of Modi’s political dominance.

17 April
Is India’s Economy Overhyped?
Shang-Jin Wei, a former chief economist at the Asian Development Bank, is Professor of Finance and Economics at Columbia Business School and Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs
While China is grappling with an economic slowdown, India’s economy is thriving, with a booming stock market and 7-8% annual growth. But despite India’s significant advantages over other major economies, there are compelling reasons to believe that its growth prospects are being overstated.
(Project Syndicate) … For starters, India’s demographic advantage over China is not as significant as it seems. According to the United Nations’ population statistics, the Indian fertility rate, at two births per woman, has already fallen below the replacement level of 2.1. Importantly, India’s female labor force participation rate stood at 32.7% in 2023, far below China’s 60.5%. As a result, India’s total labor force participation rate was just 55.3%, compared to China’s 66.4%. Likewise, although Indian wages are significantly lower than in China, India’s workforce is also less educated and skilled. According to the World Bank, 97% of Chinese adults aged 15 and older were literate as of 2020, whereas India’s literacy rate was 76% in 2022. This means that the gap in quality-adjusted labor costs between the two countries is much smaller. Moreover, given China’s more developed roads, ports, and infrastructure, manufacturing and exporting goods from India is often less cost-effective than doing so from China.

16 March
India announces 6-week general elections starting April 19 with Modi’s BJP topping surveys

Gwynne Dyer: Indian Election 2024
… ‘Hindutva’, the aggressive modern version of Hindu nationalism, is largely a contemporary ideology created for political purposes, but it currently dominates the Indian political scene. It has given Modi licence to transform an imperfect but functional democracy into a ‘soft’ fascist state.
This will be Modi’s third consecutive term in office, and many Indians believe that it will complete his transformation of the country. What will emerge, they fear, is a BJP one-party theocracy, nastier than Orban’s Hungary or Erdoğan’s Turkey although perhaps not as vicious as Khamenei’s Iran.
It may well come to that. Even now opposition politicians are routinely jailed on false charges, almost all the media are cowed into obedience, and Muslims face intimidation or actual violence with almost no hope of protection from the police. Some of the courts are still independent but the rule of law is definitely in retreat.
Yet it’s too soon to give up on India’s democratic traditions. The BJP, for all its bombast and swagger, only got 37% of the popular vote in the last national election five years ago. Its apparent ‘landslide’ victory was only due to the opposition being divided into many smaller parties.
Hindutva is all-powerful in the ‘Hindi belt’ of northern India, but first-language Hindi speakers are only 40% of the population. Southern and eastern India speak other languages and have different preoccupations. And there is one topic that could unite them against the BJP: caste.
The BJP is dominated by upper-caste Hindus who have convinced a great many other Hindus that they are all in the same boat, but they are not. Socially, economically and educationally the lower castes trail far behind. The opposition, or at least the Congress Party part of it, has realised (better late than never) that these are the voters they need. …

10 April
‘We are helpless’: Protesting farmers in India pose challenges — and demands — to Modi
With polls opening this month in India, farmers are angry with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
(The World) Farmers have emerged as one of Modi’s loudest critics in recent years.
In 2020 and 2021, hundreds of farmers camped out on the borders of Delhi to protest against new legislation that they feared would hurt their incomes They eventually won — Modi made a rare concession by taking back the controversial laws, and the farmers returned to their fields.
But in February, hundreds of farmers, mainly from the northern Indian state of Punjab, began marching toward the capital, Delhi, with new demands for legal price guarantees and higher rates on crops.
Two-thirds of India’s population depends on agriculture, but farmers are also among the poorest in the country. Rising debt, price fluctuation, and crop loss due to climate change have hurt farmer incomes.

7 April
Why India’s South Rejects Modi — And Why It Matters
Andy Mukherjee, Columnist
The more progressive and successful part of the country is drifting away from the poverty-ridden north and its majoritarian leader.
(Bloomberg) As India goes to polls in a couple of weeks to elect its next government, pundits’ focus will be on the Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s hypnotic sway on the landlocked, impoverished north. The south’s rejection of the leader and his Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, will be brushed aside because it may not change the overall outcome. That is a mistake.
The north hogs the limelight because of its numbers. Whoever controls Uttar Pradesh, a state more populous than Brazil and poorer than sub-Saharan Africa, has superior odds of capturing the reins of federal administration. And there’s a near-consensus that UP and its neighboring states are ready to give the strongman a third term. The opposition alliance, which accuses him of preparing to sweep the election by jailing its leaders and choking its funds, fears that India’s secular constitution will be upended in Modi 3.0. Although the prime minister has denied any such plan, a Hindu rashtra, or nation-state, will play well in the north.
The 675-mile-long mountain range that cuts through central India is no longer just a geographical divide. Ten years of Modi’s polarizing rule have caused a yawning gulf, not only in what voters are getting from their government but what they even want from it. Economic prosperity and social progress, the top concerns in the south, have no place left in the north. Modi didn’t create the vacuum of hope. He just filled the hole in people’s material lives with religious fervor. It’s a passion that finds its release in tormenting people of non-Hindu faiths, particularly Muslims who account for 14% of the population. Another five years of the same majoritarianism might strain the nation’s federal fabric and jeopardize India’s future as a pluralistic, free-market democracy of 1.4 billion people.

6 April
Farmers in India are hit hard by extreme weather. Some say expanding natural farming is the answer
India’s southern Andhra Pradesh state has become a positive example of the benefits of natural farming, a process of using organic matter as fertilizers and pesticides that makes crops more resilient to bad weather.
The Indian federal government’s agriculture ministry has spent upwards of $8 million to promote natural farming and says farmers tilling nearly a million acres across the country have shifted to the practice. In March last year, India’s junior minister for agriculture said he hoped at least 25% of farms across India would use organic and natural farming techniques.

1-4 April
A Hindu Nationalist Foreign Policy
Under Modi, India Is Becoming More Assertive
By Rohan Mukherjee
(Foreign Affairs) … Today, more Indians care about their country’s place in the world than did so a decade ago, and the aspirations of average citizens are mirrored in their nation’s fortunes like never before. The BJP has used this new attention to craft a self-reinforcing message: if the party can catapult an “ordinary citizen” such as Modi to global prominence, it can do the same for a country that has languished in poverty and weakness. Similarly, if Modi can make India secure, prosperous, and widely respected, he can do the same for the Indian voter.
Observers have attributed the mass popularization of foreign policy to Modi’s charisma and the BJP’s political strategy. Modi has certainly brought newfound publicity to international topics. …the BJP’s rule has infused diplomacy with a sense of national purpose and transformed it into one of the key dimensions on which citizens evaluate their government. …a nationalist foreign policy does not always serve the national interest. When rising states seek global recognition, they often engage in assertive diplomacy and international conduct that provoke backlash, derailing their ascent. And as New Delhi gains influence, its interests will begin to seriously conflict with those of more powerful governments—including Washington’s. An overconfident public could then become a liability for India’s political leadership, forcing it to magnify minor quarrels with other societies and pushing it toward riskier strategies and more uncompromising stances.
India: democracy in name only?
The India that goes to the polls this month is a markedly less democratic one: Narendra Modi has hollowed out institutions and targeted opponents, all the while sowing inter-ethnic tensions.
By Christophe Jaffrelot
An Indian court sends a top opposition leader to jail until shortly before election
(AP) — A court in India on Monday placed a top opposition leader in two weeks of judicial detention after his 10 days in the custody of a federal agency expired, in a case that opposition parties say is part of a crackdown by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government on rivals ahead of a national election later this month.
Arvind Kejriwal, the leader of the Aam Aadmi Party, or Common Man’s Party, is the top elected official in the city of New Delhi and one of the country’s most consequential politicians of the past decade.

30 March
A Building Boom in the Himalayas Threatens Climate Disasters
Modi’s push to develop along India’s tense border with China heightens risks to the already fragile area.
(Bloomberg) Modi sees strengthening India’s contested northern border with China as critical to national security, and hopes to turn the Himalayas into a renewable energy powerhouse. The region, dotted with holy sites, has strong religious significance for supporters of his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.
This month alone, Modi and other top officials toured border towns, while Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari approved or inaugurated six major road and rail projects in the region.
Yet heavy construction on the area’s unstable ground, combined with climate change, has heightened the risk of disaster.

28 March
Arvind Kejriwal: the Delhi chief minister jailed by Modi’s government
Leader of India’s Common Man party has spent his career rooting out everyday corruption and is now in jail weeks before general election begins
(The Guardian) …Kejriwal’s swift rise from newcomer to political heavyweight, standing up against the might of the Narendra Modi government, has appeared to come at a cost. Last week, Kejriwal, who is the longstanding face of India’s anti-corruption movement, was detained on corruption charges – becoming the first sitting chief minister to be arrested. He will be held in custody for at least 10 days.
The case against him was instigated by a powerful investigation agency under the control of the Modi government. Kejriwal called it a political conspiracy to crush his party and tarnish its chances in India’s election, which begins next month. The Modi government denies any political agenda.
… A mechanical engineer who later worked for the income tax department, he instead rose to prominence through his civilian activist movements focusing on transparency and rooting out everyday corruption. In the 1990s, he began the organisation Parivartan, which helped people access information from the government and exposed bribery scams.
After the success of several campaigns, including protests against corruption in India’s Commonwealth Games, in 2011 Kejriwal formed his own political party, called the Aam Aadmi (“common man”) party, starting out in Delhi.
Kejriwal’s drive against corruption made him a popular figure and the AAP swiftly grew to be a political force in the capital. In 2013, the AAP defied the odds to wrest power from the established parties and win the state assembly elections.

23 March
India court effectively bans madrasas in big state before election
By Saurabh Sharma and Krishna N. Das
(Reuters) – A court in India essentially banned Islamic schools in the country’s most populous state, a move that could further distance many Muslims from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist government ahead of national elections.
The Friday ruling scraps a 2004 law governing madrasas in Uttar Pradesh, saying it violates India’s constitutional secularism and ordering that students be moved to conventional schools.

22 March
As India’s election nears, some Bollywood films promote Modi politics by embracing Hindu nationalism
(AP) — The movie trailer begins with an outline of the iconic glasses worn by Mohandas Gandhi, the leader who helped India win independence from the British colonialists in 1947. In the backdrop of a devotional song that Gandhi loved, the outline slowly morphs into what appears like his face.
Then, a raucous beat drops, followed by a rap song. A face is finally revealed: not Gandhi, but an actor who plays the independence leader’s ideological nemesis, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar — the man considered the fountainhead of Hindu nationalism in India.
It is the same ideology Prime Minister Narendra Modi has harnessed to cement his power as his ruling party makes strides in its quest to turn the secular country into a Hindu nation.
The movie coincides with a cluster of upcoming Bollywood releases based on polarizing issues, which either promote Modi and his government’s political agenda, or lambast his critics.

21 March
India’s main opposition party accuses the government of freezing its bank accounts ahead of election
(AP) — The Congress party, India’s main opposition political group, accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government on Thursday of stifling democracy and crippling the party by freezing its bank accounts in a tax dispute ahead of national elections.
Rahul Gandhi, a former Congress party chief, said it is unable to campaign properly with its accounts frozen. “We can’t support our workers, and our candidates and leaders can’t travel by air or train” he told reporters.
Indian opposition leader Arvind Kejriwal arrested over corruption claims
Kejriwal is a key leader in an opposition alliance challenging Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP in elections next month.
Delhi Chief Minister and prominent opposition leader Arvind Kejriwal has been arrested by India’s financial crime agency in connection with corruption allegations related to the city’s liquor policy, his party has said.
The arrest of Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday means the main leaders of the decade-old Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are in jail, following the arrests last year of two of Kejriwal’s deputies in the same case, which the party has called “dirty politics”.

18 March
India’s multi-phase election will stretch over 44 days. Here’s why it takes so long
(AP) — From April 19 to June 1, nearly 970 million Indians — or over 10% of the global population — are eligible to vote in general elections. The mammoth exercise is the biggest anywhere in the world and will take 44 days before results are announced on June 4.
WHY DOES IT TAKE SO LONG?
It boils down to two key reasons: the sheer size of India, the world’s most populous country, and the astonishing level of logistics needed to ensure that every registered voter is able to cast their ballot.
With 969 million registered voters, the size of India’s electorate is bigger than the combined population of the European Union.
The vote to choose 543 lawmakers to the lower house of Parliament takes place over seven phases. India’s 28 states and eight federal territories will vote at different times. Each phase is one day, with the first held on April 19 and the last on June 1.
While some states will cast their ballots in a day, voting elsewhere may take longer. Uttar Pradesh, the largest state the size of Brazil with 200 million people, will vote on all seven days, for example.
India’s Lok Sabha election 2024: the main political parties and candidates
(Reuters) – India, with nearly a billion eligible voters, set off on the world’s largest electoral exercise on Friday. The country has more than 2,500 political parties but just 10 of them hold 86% of all seats in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament.
A serious contest between a few parties will likely be dominated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
The BJP, the world’s largest political outfit with nearly 180 million members, was born out of the Jan Sangh party, an offshoot of a men-only Hindu nationalist organisation, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). After struggling on the political margins early after it was formed in 1980, the BJP delivered its first prime minister 16 years later in an unstable government that lasted 13 days.
India’s Muslims: An Increasingly Marginalized Population
(Council on Foreign Relations) India’s Muslim communities have faced decades of discrimination, which experts say has worsened under the Hindu nationalist BJP’s government.
Some two hundred million Muslims live in India, making up the predominantly Hindu country’s largest minority group.
For decades, Muslim communities have faced discrimination in employment and education and encountered barriers to achieving wealth and political power. They are disproportionately the victims of communal violence.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the ruling party have moved to further limit Muslims’ rights under the controversial citizenship law, which has the power to render millions of Muslims in India stateless.

15 March
Thousands of Indian farmers protest in New Delhi demanding a law guaranteeing minimum crop prices
The protesters held placards demanding free electricity for farming. They contended that without minimum price guarantees for their crops, they would be at the mercy of the markets and that would spell disaster, especially for the more than two-thirds of them who own less than 1 hectare (2 1/2 acres) of land.
Narendra Modi’s BJP given £570m under scheme allowing anonymous donations
India’s election commission has published details of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of political donations, exposing how much prime minister Narendra Modi’s party benefited from a controversial financing scheme.
Last month, the supreme court struck down electoral bonds as unconstitutional, stating that they could lead to a “quid pro quo” arrangement between donors and political parties. The judges ruled that the State Bank of India (SBI) must make public the details of the donors who had bought the bonds.

14 March
India’s Poor Will Not Be Wished Away
Ashoka Mody
The gap between India’s rich and poor is startling. Consider the $120 million pre-wedding celebrations for tycoon Mukesh Ambani’s son: the lad wore a $1 million watch, a superstar received $6 million to perform, and the Indian aviation authority temporarily cleared a nearby airport to fly in international celebrities. Meanwhile, the lack of comprehensive consumption – and inflation – data makes it impossible to get an accurate picture of Indian poverty.
(Project Syndicate) While the publication of India’s first consumption figures in over a decade has generated much excitement, the official data appear to have been chosen to align with the government’s preferred narrative. In reality, poverty remains deeply entrenched in India and appears to have increased significantly.
Measuring poverty is a complicated task, the essence of which lies in establishing a poverty threshold. The World Bank, which initially set the international poverty line at $1 per day in 1990, updated this figure to $1.90 in 2011 to account for inflation. Only those who cannot afford to spend $1.90 per day are classified as “extremely poor.” For India, however, the $1.90 threshold represents below-subsistence-level consumption. As economists Shaohua Chen and Martin Ravallion have noted, it allows for minimal food consumption and little else. In 2012, $1.90 translated to a meager 30 rupees a day in purchasing-power-parity terms – barely enough for two basic meals, according to the poverty expert S. Subramanian.
… Given the significant hardship faced by millions of Indians, the pre-election release of partial consumption data invites suspicion. And the Bhalla and Bhasin declaration of the end of poverty borders on the malicious. Moreover, their assertion that consumption inequality has declined sharply is risible: wealthy Indians do not report their $400 designer sneakers, Lamborghinis, or lavish parties to government surveyors. The gap between India’s rich and poor is startling. Consider the $120 million pre-wedding celebrations for tycoon Mukesh Ambani’s son: the lad wore a $1 million watch, a superstar received $6 million to perform, and the Indian aviation authority temporarily cleared a nearby airport to fly in international celebrities. Meanwhile, the lack of comprehensive consumption – and inflation – data makes it impossible to get an accurate picture of Indian poverty.

11 March
India announces steps to implement a citizenship law that excludes Muslims
(AP) — Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government on Monday announced rules to implement a 2019 citizenship law that excludes Muslims, weeks before the Hindu nationalist leader seeks a third term in office.
The Citizenship Amendment Act provides a fast track to naturalization for Hindus, Parsis, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Christians who fled to Hindu-majority India from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan before Dec. 31, 2014. The law excludes Muslims, who are a majority in all three nations.
The law was approved by Indian Parliament in 2019, but Modi’s government had held off with its implementation after deadly protests broke out in capital New Delhi and elsewhere. Scores were killed during days of clashes.

8 March
The Congress party released its first list of 39 candidates for the Lok Sabha 2024 polls on March 8.
Lok Sabha polls: Congress’ first list of candidates out, Rahul Gandhi to contest from Wayanad
Among the prominent names in the list include, Rahul Gandhi, from Wayanad in Kerala, Shashi Tharoor from Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel from Rajnandgaon, former minister Tamardwaj Sahu from Mahasamund and Jyotsna Mahant from Korba seats in Chhattisgarh. DK Suresh will contest from Bangalore Rural in Karnataka, K Sudhakaran from Kannur. Congress general secretary KC Venugopal will contest from Alapuzza.
NB Shashi Tharoor

7 March
Modi visits Kashmir’s main city for the first time since revoking region’s semi-autonomy
(AP) — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday made his first official visit to Kashmir’s main city since New Delhi stripped the disputed region of its semi-autonomy and took direct control of it in 2019.
Addressing a crowd in a soccer stadium in Srinagar, Modi announced development projects and said previous governments had misled people over the region’s now-scrapped special status.
“The success story of Jammu and Kashmir will be the center of attraction for the world,” he told the crowd, saying that the region has prospered since the 2019 move. “I have always said that the hard work I am doing is to win your hearts. I will work towards winning your hearts further.”
Modi and his party have accused Kashmir’s pro-India parties of being corrupt, misleading Kashmiris and promoting separatism in the region. Kashmiri politicians, who say their special status was a constitutional guarantee, have called Modi divisive and anti-minority.

5 March
General Elections 2024: Dates, phases, key players and all you need to know about next Lok Sabha polls
(Indian Express) The General elections to elect the members of 18th Lok Sabha [are] expected to take place in the coming months of April and May, with the ruling alliance of NDA all set to go up against the newly formed I.N.D.I.A alliance.

4 March
OBSCENE!
Most extravagant wedding ever? Rihanna, Bill Gates, Ivanka Trump and Mark Zuckerberg among star-studded guests at Indian wedding
Celebrities and tycoons arrived on charter jets for a three-day-pre-wedding jamboree as Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani kickstarts wedding celebrations for his son.
All About Billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s 3 Children: Akash, Isha and Anant
Billionaire Mukesh Ambani is a father to two sons and one daughter with his wife Nita Ambani
World’s super-rich head to Gujarat for wedding party thrown by India’s richest person
The kick off to the wedding festivities will be on 1 March at a three-day party held in a 3,000-acre garden, set in the grounds of an oil refinery in Jamnagar, in the Ambani’s home state of Gujarat.
The garden is said to have more than 10m trees and the largest mango orchard in Asia and is also home to the Ambani’s animal rescue and rehabilitation centre, which has 2,000 rescued animals from both India and around the globe, including leopards, tigers, lions, jaguars and elephants.
While few in India can afford lavish weddings akin to the Ambanis, figures show that weddings in India are continuing to get bigger and grander. India now spends over $75bn on weddings every year, making it the fourth-largest industry in the country.

1 March
India eliminates extreme poverty
Data now confirms that India has eliminated extreme poverty.
India should now graduate to a higher poverty line, which would provide an opportunity to redefine existing social protection programs in order to give greater support to the genuine poor.
(Brookings) India has just released its official consumption expenditure data for 2022-23, providing the first official survey-based poverty estimates for India in over ten years. The previous official survey was conducted from 2011-12, and the absence of up-to-date data for India has added considerable uncertainty to global poverty headcount ratios.
… The relatively higher consumption growth in rural areas should not come as a surprise given the strong policy thrust on redistribution through a wide variety of publicly funded programs. These include a national mission for construction of toilets and attempts to ensure universal access to electricity, modern cooking fuel, and more recently, piped water.

23 February
India Will Grow To Become The World’s Third-Largest Economy By 2027
Benjamin Laker
(Forbes) Projections indicate that India is poised to surpass Japan and Germany, positioning itself as the world’s third-largest economy by 2027, according to a note published by analysts at the investment banking firm Jefferies yesterday.
One decade ago, India ranked as the ninth-largest economy globally, but recent data indicates it has climbed to the fifth position, with a nominal GDP of $3.4 trillion. A forecast reported on by Business Insider is based on India’s current economic growth trajectory and a series of structural reforms that have significantly improved its macroeconomic landscape.
Jefferies forecasts India’s GDP to reach $5 trillion within the next four years, aiming for nearly $10 trillion by 2030. This fiscal expansion, according to Bloomberg, is supported by an anticipated annual GDP growth rate of 6% over the next five years, surpassing the growth rates of most large economies. The investment firm also predicts significant growth in the Indian equity markets, expecting dollar-term returns of up to 10% over the next five to seven years.

7 February
The Guardian view on India-UK trade talks: don’t make it harder for the health service
(Editorial) India is known as the “pharmacy of the world”, supplying vital generic medicines at low prices to health services including the NHS.
It’s about patents, a once-dusty subject that has become a life-and-death issue. Put simply, pharmaceutical companies that invent a new medicine are entitled to a patent on it in the US, UK and Europe lasting up to 20 years, allowing them a monopoly on sales at high prices. They spend billions on research and recoup billions. That’s the bargain. Once the patent has expired, generics companies can copy the drug, competing to sell it at affordable prices.
But India, which only began to recognise drug patents after joining the World Trade Organization in 1995, still has some different rules. An important one is that public health – the need of the sick for a medicine – can trump the interests of the company making a patent claim, leading to it being refused.

29 January
Hindu nationalism overtakes India’s patriotic holiday
(WaPo) Every year on Jan. 26 — Republic Day, commemorating India’s constitution — the streets are overwhelmed with the Indian tricolor flag.
Not this year.
Throughout India, the flags that dominated Republic Day were saffron, the color of Hindu nationalism. That’s because Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated a grand Ram temple four days earlier in the northern city of Ayodhya on the site of a demolished mosque, a potent symbol of the country’s turn toward a Hindu-centric republic.

22 January
Modi launches his campaign by weaponizing Hinduism
The nationalist prime minister has utilized the construction of the Rama temple, built on the site of a former mosque that was illegally destroyed by Hindus, as his springboard for a third term in the upcoming general elections this spring.
As petals rained down and celebrities beamed, Modi unveiled his vision of a Hindu India
Mukul Kesavan
The inauguration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya, the small north Indian city that Hindus believe as a matter of faith to be the birthplace of Lord Ram, a Hindu deity, is both a milestone in republican India’s history and a sideshow.
It is a milestone because the prime minister of a nominally secular republic, Narendra Modi, was the master of ceremonies at this event. In just over 30 years, India’s political class has travelled from condemning the demolition of the mosque, on the site of which the half-built temple now stands, as an act of sectarian vandalism, to celebrating it as the first act in the re-founding of a hitherto rootless republic.

2023

2 December
Mukesh Ambani’s Commitment to Social Welfare
Mukesh Ambani’s Philanthropic Vision – Through his philanthropic work, Ambani has made a significant impact on various sectors, including healthcare, education, and rural development.

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