India. According to 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) in 2009.
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 Srinagar.
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.