India March 16
India: Independence and Partition • Indian National Congress formed, 1885. • British massacre of unarmed protesters at Jallianwala Bagh, 1919. • Nonviolent resistance to British rule, led by Mohandas Gandhi (assassinated 1948) and Jawaharlal Nehru, eventually brought about independence in 1947. • Religious conflict led to the subcontinent's partition, and the creation of two separate states, India and Pakistan. • The process of partition was violent (close to a million dead) and involved massive migrations of people (more than 10 million people). • Since partition, India and Pakistan have engaged in repeated conflict and generally remained in a state of political tension.
India: Independence and Partition • East Pakistan became Bangladesh in 1971. • India and Pakistan both have nuclear weapons. • The disputed territory of Kashmir remains a flashpoint of conflict.
Independent India • Led by Nehru, India followed a statist economic strategy, instituting a mixed economy (public and private ownership) with heavy state involvement and extensive protectionism against foreign imports and investment (import-substitution industrialization). • Nehru encouraged the growth of the nonaligned movement of developing countries that sought to maintain their independence from the two Cold War superpowers.
The World’s Largest Democracy • India has maintained a democratic political system since 1947. • Indian society has 14 major languages and is divided by religion and caste. • Poverty and income equality remain a significant challenge for the democratic system.
Religious Divisions • Vast majority of population is Hindu, over 80%. Approximately 12% Muslim. Around 2% Sikh. • Conflict between Sikh minority and the national government led to military invasion of the Golden Temple, the holiest Sikh shrine, in city of Amritsar, Punjab, 1984. Indira Gandhi assassinated. Widespread anti-Sikh violence. • Major outbreaks of anti-Muslim violence in 1992 and 2002. • Mumbai terrorist attacks, 2008.
Maoist Insurgents (Naxalites) • Since 1967 Maoist guerillas have been waging a war against the Indian government. • Currently, they are active across a wide area of the country and the government considers them to be a major threat to national security.
Social Inequality • Caste system: the Indian constitution prohibits caste discrimination. Yet, Indian society is divided into various caste groupings. • Scheduled castes (including Dalits or ‘untouchables’) and scheduled tribes continue to face discrimination particularly in rural areas. • A reservation system (affirmative action) is used to advance lower caste members in higher education, public employment and political representation.
Social Inequality • Child labour: India has the world’s largest population of child labour and has failed to provide universal primary school education. • Gender discrimination: “Indian society favors boys over girls, as evidenced by all social indicators, from lower female literacy and nutrition rates to lower survival of female versus male infants” (Kohli and Basu: 2009: 171).
Economic Liberalization • Since 1980, Indian governments have been liberalizing the economy, increasing the role of the private sector and embracing a pro-business, growth (rather than redistribution) strategy. • After 1991, this tendency accelerated and involved opening up the Indian economy to foreign investment and foreign goods.
Political Economy of India • Economic growth has averaged more than 7% since 1997 (even growing 6.1 in 2009). • Just over 50% of the work force is in agriculture but India has become a major exporter of software services and software workers. • India has the 12th largest economy measured by nominal GDP (China is third). Measured using purchasing power parities (PPP), India has the 4th largest economy (China is second). • GDP/capita, however, India is 165th and China is 127th. Source: CIA - The World Fact Book.
Party Politics in India The Congress Party (Indian National Congress) • is a centrist, secular party. • dominated Indian politics over the period 1947- 1989, being out of office only from 1977-80. • It formed a minority government 1991-1996. • Since 2004 (re-elected in 2009), the Congress Party has led a coalition government (United Progressive Alliance).
Congress Party dominance The Nehru-Gandhi dynasty • Jawaharlal Nehru 1947-1964 • Indira Gandhi 1966-1977, 1980-1984 • Rajiv Gandhi 1984-1989 Sonia Gandhi has been the president of the Congress Party since 1998 and an MP since 1999. [Rahul Gandhi has been an MP since 2004.]
Party Politics in India Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP): Indian People’s Party. • is a conservative, Hindu nationalist party. • formed the government briefly in 1996 and led a coalition government (National Democratic Alliance) from 1998 to 2004.
Party Politics • Since 1989, the political system has become quite fragmented. • The Congress Party lost its dominance. • No single party has been able to win a majority government. • The late 1990s were particularly unstable with elections in 1996, 98 and 99. After the 1996 election, there were 3 PMs in two years. • Since 1999, a new form of relative political stability has been created through the growth of multi-party coalition governments. Stable coalitions were formed after the 1999, 2004 and 2009 elections. • Manmohan Singh (who is a Sikh and a member of the upper house of Parliament), has been the PM since 2004. • There are over 30 parties with representation in the 543 seat Parliament.
Comparing Democracies • India, South Africa and Mexico are all considered “electoral democracies” by Freedom House. • India and Mexico receive a 2 for political rights and a 3 for civil liberties. • South Africa receives a 2 for political rights and a 2 for civil liberties. • All face difficulty of sustaining democracy (and encouraging economic development) amid significant inequality.