India. According to COUNTRYAAH, New Delhi is the capital of India which is located in Southern Asia. 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.
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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 nation.
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 raised.
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 development.
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 member.
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.
Farmers start mass protests against agricultural reforms
Farmers from different parts of India gather in New Delhi and begin a period of mass demonstrations against the government’s ongoing reform of the inefficient and outdated agricultural sector. The protests concern three laws adopted to modernize, develop and market agriculture (see September 2020). The government believes that this would give farmers better opportunities to earn more from their work. Farmers are primarily opposed to plans to abolish the state minimum prices for agricultural products, which many farmers see as a guarantee of income, even if they are low.
Nine million have been confirmed corona infected
20th of November
The number of confirmed cases of covid-19 in India exceeds nine million, while the number of deaths with covid-19 is just over 132,000. The number of confirmed coronary infections per day has dropped to an average of around 45,000 in the country as a whole, but in Delhi the number of infections per days and the total number has passed half a million. Healthcare is particularly strained in Delhi, where cemeteries are running out. The city authorities quadruple the amount of the fine for not wearing a mouth guard.
Guerrilla leaders in Kashmir are killed by the military
Hizbul Mujahedin’s leader Saifullah Mir (also known as Musaib or Doctor Saif) is shot dead in a firefight with the Indian military near Srinagar airport. The leader of Kashmir’s largest militant group is said to have been killed while caring for guerrilla fighters injured in the firefight. Saifullah has been the leader of the Hizbul Mujahedin since May 2020 when his representative was killed by the Indian military.
General strike against new land ownership law in Kashmir
A general strike is being carried out in Indian-controlled Kashmir against a new law that allows people who do not live permanently in the area to buy land there. The law also gives the military the opportunity to establish special zones to build infrastructure in the area. Shops and other businesses are closed during the strike and the vast majority of residents stay indoors. Police and military patrol almost empty streets. The strike is being organized by a number of political and religious groups who want Kashmir to regain its special autonomy revoked by the Modi government (see August 2019). But even groups that do not oppose Indian supremacy over Kashmir are taking part in the strike against the new land law.
Former Prime Minister of Kashmir is released
Mehbooba Mufti, Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir between 2016 and 2018, is released from police custody after 14 months. Mufti was arrested along with a number of other Kashmiri politicians in connection with the Modi government introducing direct rule of Jammu and Kashmir (see August 2019). Most other politicians have been released in the past. They were arrested for preventive purposes on orders from New Delhi to reduce the risk of outbreaks of violence.
Hundreds of thousands of Indians killed with covid-19
The death toll from covid-19 in the country exceeds 100,000. In the United States and Brazil alone, a large number of residents have died from the disease. The spread of infection in India shows no signs of abating. Six and a half million Indians have been tested positive for the coronavirus.