India. India elected a new parliament in the spring. The election was conducted in nine rounds between April 7 and May 12. It became a triumph for the Hindu oppositionist BJP (Indian People’s Party) and Narendra Modi, former chief minister of the western state of Gujarat. The BJP more than doubled its mandate to 282 out of the lower house’s 543 mandate. It was the first time since 1984 that a party gained its own majority. Allied parties also advanced.
More than 814 million people were eligible to vote. According to the Election Commission, turnout was high – about 66%, corresponding to 550 million votes.
For the Congress party, the defeat was staggering. The party received 44 seats, compared to 206 in the last election in 2009. Rahul Gandhi, who was elected as the electoral leader, appeared pale. The party was also burdened by internal quarrels and corruption deals. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had in January said he would withdraw after the election.
Unrest occurred. For example, rebels from the Maoist Naxali movement were suspected of blast attacks that killed several election workers in the states of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.
According to Countryaah.com, India population in 2020 is estimated at 1,380,004,396. Modi resigned as Prime Minister on May 26. The presence of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif attracted attention given the countries’ frosty relations.
In the new government, female BJP veteran Sushma Swaraj became Foreign Minister. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was given several portfolios, but at a government reshuffle in November he lost the post of defense minister.
In his first budget in July, Jaitley highlighted the need to bring down inflation and lift growth to 7-8% in the coming years. In 2013 it was below 5%. India would also allow greater foreign ownership in the defense and insurance industries.
India attracted China to invest in railways and industrial facilities. The theme was up when Modi received Chinese President Xi Jinping in September. It was the first visit by a Chinese president to India since 2006.
The media drew attention to the continuing wave of rape. However, stricter laws adopted in 2013 are believed to have contributed to more notifications. Three men were sentenced to death in April for group rape on a young female photographer in Bombay in August 2013. They had previously been convicted of another group rape. The Supreme Court ruled in July to hear an appeal from four men sentenced to death for group rape and murder of a young student in Delhi in December 2012. That case sparked nationwide protests.
Modi condemned the rapes and derogatory attitudes towards women in a speech on Independence Day and said he was ashamed. He also addressed the need to build toilets and improve sanitation in the country. In addition to the risk of illness, the lack of toilet facilities means that many Indians are forced to fulfill their needs in the open. Women and girls are then at risk of assault.
At least 13 women died and dozens were taken to hospitals in November during mass sterilizations in Chhattisgarh state. The scandal led to several arrests and suspicions were found that the women received medication that contained a substance that is also used in rat poison.
Kailash Satyarthi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October for her long fight against child and forced labor, another problem that India is facing.
Modi made several trips abroad, including to Japan and the G20 summit in Australia. He visited US President Barack Obama in the White House and the UN General Assembly in September. The United States and India agreed to cooperate against terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. Modi had previously been denied a visa to the United States, citing his passive stance during the wave of violence against Muslims in Gujarat in 2002. The prime minister also met executives of large companies such as Boeing, GE and Google.
Nothing close to Pakistan regarding the Kashmir conflict was not noticed. The countries blamed each other for fighting fire along the control line. During the state elections in Jammu and Kashmir in December, at least 20 people were killed in various attacks. Eleven Indian soldiers and police were killed in an attack on a military camp in Uri.
At least 200 people died and thousands became homeless in September when southern Kashmir was hit by the worst floods in 50 years following heavy monsoon rains.
In June, Telangana became the country’s 29th state since the federal parliament approved the division of Andhra Pradesh.
India – New Delhi
New Delhi, the capital of India and the administrative center of the country; 250,000 residents (2011). New Delhi is directly adjacent to Old Delhi (Shahjahanabad) and can be seen as a district in the big city of Delhi. New Delhi began to be planned in 1911 and was inaugurated as the capital in 1931.
Ten million with confirmed covid-19
The number of inhabitants tested positive for covid-19 exceeds ten million. Although the spread of infection seems to have slowed down in recent weeks, India is still the country in the world with the second most corona-infected inhabitants. Only the United States has more. According to the Indian Ministry of Health, 25,000 Indians are now infected with covid-19 every day, a substantial decrease from around 100,000 in September. In total, just over 145,000 inhabitants have died with covid-19. With the exception of some states where the infection is increasing, India has eased most of the restrictions against the coronavirus.
General strike against agricultural reforms
The farmers ‘protests in Delhi are spreading in the country after several rounds of talks between farmers’ organizations and the government about the new agricultural reforms (see September 2020) have failed. Protesters in Delhi block off major roads and railway stations, creating chaos in city traffic. India’s farmers have been hit hard by the corona pandemic, as tens of millions of rural people seeking refuge in the cities have suddenly lost their jobs there and chosen to return home to the villages, where competition for land is increasing. The demonstrators want the abolished state minimum prices for agricultural products back in order to have a guaranteed income. The farmers are supported by, among others, organized railway workers, teachers, truck drivers and other unions.
India criticizes Canada’s Prime Minister
The High Commissioner of Canada in Delhi has been summoned to the Government of India, which has criticized statements in support of the peasant protests made by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, some Canadian ministers and members of the Ottawa Parliament. Canadian politicians are accused of “supporting extremists”. Trudeau has expressed concern about how the Indian government has responded to the protests, including how the authorities tried to disperse protesters with the help of tear gas, water cannons and batons. Some Canadian farmers have demonstrated and campaigned in support of Indian farmers on social media.