COUNTRYAAH, India's strong economic growth continued during
the year. The third quarter was 7.4%, surpassing the other
major emerging economies in the BRICS group, including
China. But more reforms are required in agriculture, among
others, the Asian Development Bank notes.
The BJP (Indian People's Party) government was hit by two
major setbacks in the state elections. In the capital New
Delhi, the anti-corruption party AAP won a grand victory in
February. The BJP also lost in Bihar, the country's third
largest state. The Bihar loss in November was heavy, partly
because the BJP and its allies won in Bihar in the national
elections in 2014, and partly Prime Minister Narendra Modi
had spent a lot of time campaigning in Bihar. At stake were
the state seats in the national parliament's upper house,
the Rajya Sabha. There, the BJP is in a minority, which
makes it difficult to try to push through reforms. An
important issue that the Modi government is pushing for is
to introduce a uniform national tax for goods and services
in 2016. The BJP now needs to negotiate with the Congress
Party, which wants to adjust the proposal.
In foreign policy, the government maintained its high
profile. US President Barack Obama was a guest of honor at
Republic Day celebrations in January. It reflected the good
ties between the countries. Several agreements were also
signed, for example on nuclear power, arms purchases and
joint military exercises. In March, Modi became the first
Indian head of government to visit Sri Lanka in almost 30
years, and where China's influence increased in the island
At the same time, China is India's most important trading
partner and in May, the countries signed agreements worth $
22 billion when Modi visited Beijing. The old border dispute
in the Himalayas that led to a short war in 1962 was also
Relations with Pakistan remained chilly. However, Modi
accepted an invitation to visit Pakistan in 2016 when the
country hosts a summit within the South Asian cooperation
organization SAARC. Modi and Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz
Sharif had some informal meetings, including at the UN
Climate Summit in Paris. At the end of the year, their
security advisers also met in Thailand to discuss, among
other things, terrorism. It was a small breakthrough since
previous meetings were canceled.
The Kashmir conflict was a cause. Fire fighting occurred
during the year at the control line and required both
civilian and military casualties on both sides. The
countries blamed each other for breaking previous
agreements. UN chief Ban Ki Moon expressed concern over the
India ordered 36 Rafale fighter aircraft when Modi
visited France in April. The decision reduces the country's
dependence on the United States and the Russian Federation
for Arms Procurement. The government also stated that it
wants to build up the domestic military industry.
In August, Bangladesh and India changed control of about
160 enclaves in accordance with a 1974 agreement.
A summit of 40 African heads of state and government was
held in October in New Delhi. Here, too, the Modi government
is trying to take some of China's lead. India promised aid
and increased trade, and Modi raised the need to reform the
UN Security Council, where India wants to become a permanent
In November, Modi became the first Indian head of
government to visit the UK in ten years. Several financial
agreements were signed, but before and during the visit,
concerns were raised about a more "intolerant" social
climate in India. During the year, some 40 Indian writers,
cultural workers and researchers returned awards they
received as a protest against emerging religious intolerance
and restrictions on freedom of expression.
Reports of rape cases, sometimes with very young victims,
continued. In March, the government banned the screening of
a documentary film, "India's Daughter", produced by the
British BBC, which portrayed a prominent group rape in 2012.
The case was rediscovered in December when one of the six
men convicted of the assault was released, despite protests.
The Supreme Court ruled that the release was lawful as the
man was underage when he was sentenced and served the
maximum sentence of three years.
Weather phenomena required many casualties during the
year. Over 2,000 people died in a heatwave in May. At least
280 people died and thousands became homeless by the end of
the year when the southern state of Tamil Nadu's capital
Chennai was hit by the worst floods in 100 years following
heavy monsoon rains.