Countryaah, Indian politics were characterized during the year
by the fact that general elections were to be held in 2014.
Increased mobilization was noticed in all major political
camps. Moreover, within the ruling Social Democratic
Congress Party, it was clear that Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh would not stand for re-election because of his high
age, 82 years.
In January, Rahul Gandhi, 42, was elected Vice Party
Chairman. In the same month, Rajnath Singh was elected new
chairman of the Hindu Nationalist opposition BJP (Indian
People's Party). In March, Congress Party-led government
coalition UPA's support party, the regional DMK from Tamil
Nadu, jumped out of government cooperation. The DMK's five
ministers left their jobs and the government's support in
Parliament weakened. The DMK left the government in protest
against its failure to pass a resolution in Parliament
condemning the Sri Lankan army's suspected human rights
violations at the end of the War on the Tamil Tigers (LTTE)
During the year there was also a clear escalation of the
Kashmir conflict. Occasional fire fighting across the
control line occurred with multiple deaths on both sides as
a result. Many were also killed in connection with street
demonstrations held in Jammu and Kashmir. In March, three
men were shot dead by police during a demonstration against
hanging in Delhi by Kashmirian Mohammad Afzal Guru, who was
sentenced to death in 2004 for taking part in the attack on
India's parliament in 2001. The first major attack in
Kashmir in several years occurred in March when five police
officers was killed in ambush. Pakistan-based militant group
Lashkar-e-Toiba is suspected of carrying out the attack. In
June, another eight Indian government soldiers were killed
when an army column was attacked by armed men in the city of
The unclear border between India and China in the
northern Ladakh area was also violated, which happens at
regular intervals. But when about 30 Chinese soldiers walked
about a mile into Indian territory with the banner "You are
on the Chinese side", this was perceived by India as an
unusually strong provocation. After several fruitless rounds
of negotiations, India and China signed an important border
defense cooperation agreement in October to prevent new
provocations from occurring in the border area.
This year too, the country was affected by terrorist
acts. In February, 16 people were killed in two bomb attacks
in central Hyderabad, which police attributed to the
militant Islamist group Indian Mujahedin. One month earlier,
an American-Pakistani doctor was sentenced to 35 years in
prison by a Chicago court for participating in and planning
the terrorist bombings in Bombay in 2008, when 166 human
lives were harvested.
The diplomatic quarrel between India and Italy - about
two Italian marines arrested on suspicion of boarding an oil
tanker in Indian territorial waters in February 2012 to have
killed two Indian fishermen who the Italians believed to be
pirates - continued. India had in February allowed the
soldiers to temporarily go home to Italy to vote in the
national elections there, provided that they then returned
to the detention center in India. In March, the Italian
Foreign Ministry stated that the two suspects would remain
in Italy as their security in India could not be guaranteed.
The Supreme Court of India then banned the Italian
ambassador, who issued the promise that the defendants would
return, to leave the country. The Italian government changed
its decision and sent the two soldiers back to India, after
which the Italian Foreign Minister resigned in protest.
Italy had always maintained that the trial in India was
invalid, as it was believed that the fatal shooting took
place on international waters.
The Maoist Naxali uprising in central and eastern India
continued. In May, 27 people were killed and at least 30
were injured when Maoist guerrillas in the state of
Chhattisgarh attacked a group of members in the state's
Congress. The group was traveling in about twenty vehicles
when they happened to land for a land mine and then an
ambush. Politicians in the violent state promised to
intensify the fight against the Naxalites, which India's
federal government labeled as "the biggest domestic
political threat to the country".
The creation of a new, 29th state, called Telangana, took
a step closer to realization during the summer when the
government adopted the proposal to divide the state of
Andhra Pradesh. The decision aroused strong emotions in
Andhra Pradesh, in which case it would lose the dynamic
metropolitan Hyderabad to the new state. Many people
protested. In order for Telangana to become a new state, the
proposal must also be approved by the Federal Parliament of
New Delhi and the Andhra Pradesh State Parliament.
In June, opposition party BJP Gujarat's prime minister
Narendra Modi elected leader of the 2014 election campaign.
In August, Modi was also elected party's prime ministerial
candidate in the 2014 election. Modi is a controversial
politician who has been praised for rapid economic growth
and modernization in Gujarat but he has also received a lot
of criticism for not doing enough to stop the wave of
violence targeted at Muslims in 2002.
In September, four men were sentenced to death for the
attention of the group rape and the murder of a 23-year-old
female student in Delhi in December 2012. The group rape
that led to the student's death sparked nationwide protests
in India at the beginning of the year, and a series of
stricter laws against rape and other violence against women
was adopted in March. Several other group rapes also
received attention, including that of a freelance
photographer in Bombay and a seven-year-old girl in Delhi.
Six men had been prosecuted for the group rape in Delhi: a
suspect had taken his life in custody in March and the
sixth, who was 17 when the crime was committed, was
investigated by a special juvenile court and given a
three-year prison sentence.
The fast-growing Indian economy experienced clear
problems during the year with a decline in growth as a
result. Other problems were shrinking foreign investment,
growing trade deficits and a falling value of the rupee
currency. The central bank lowered the key rate several
times to try to bring down inflation and boost the economy.
Despite the earlier upswing in the Indian economy, an
official report showed that 68 million Indians, or sixth
city dwellers, lived in slums.
In December, the Supreme Court attracted considerable
attention when it made a decision to re-criminalize
homosexual acts. In 2009, a lower court in Delhi had
abolished a 153-year-old colonial law that punished
homosexual acts. However, the Supreme Court ruled that such
legislative changes should be made by the legislative
parliament, not by the country's courts.