When India became independent, the government led by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru took a deliberate decision to launch a massive programme of building infrastructure in India and for this purpose opted for a planned economy. The state of the then infrastructure can be best illustrated by the fact that of the more than five and a half lakh rural settlements and about 4000 urban settlements in India, only 5000 had any electricity and this included our very large cities such as Bombay, Madras and Calcutta. Today the whole of India is electrified.
The present government at the Centre has just completed four and a half months in office. This is too short time to judge the performance of any government and, therefore, an effort will be made to ensure that this paper is in no way judgemental. However, before proceeding any further in the matter one could start by considering one or two basic issues. One view is that the triumph of the ruling party, BJP and the Prime Minister is the evidence of disgust of the people with the Congress Party and greater acceptability of BJP.
New Crisis: Barbarians on the March
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced that India will set up 100 Smart Cities in the near future. Many arguments are offered in favour of smart cities, one of which is that there is a demographic shift from village to town, this trend will accelerate and we need to create the urban infrastructure which will gainfully employ the new migrants. Whilst it is a fact that between 1901 and 2011 there was a fivefold increase in the total population of India, the increase in the urban population was seventeen-fold.
The horrific video clips showing masked killers from Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) killing hordes of unarmed civilians and beheading humans have shocked but convinced the civilised world about the gruesome design and expanding outreach of terrorism in the world today. Joint military operations undertaken by the coalition forces led by the US in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and elsewhere have no doubt uprooted and transplanted governments but more terrorist outfits have sprouted from every assumed victory.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US was undoubtedly a great personal success. President Barack Obama, following the personal gestures made by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Modi and those made by the latter to Chinese President Xi Jinping, probably felt it would be diplomatically politic if he too could emulate them in some way. He made the unusual gesture of accompanying him for a tour of the Martin Luther King memorial, and through this show of regard sealing the reconciliation between a forgiving Modi and a defensive Obama on the visa denial issue.
The recently held Modi-Obama summit has been subjected to varied assessments both in India and the United States. Official communiqués describe the meeting as “extraordinarily successful,” one that has re-energised the strategic partnership between the two countries and set the stage for a ‘re-set’ of Indo-US relations. According to the Joint Statement, the two leaders have ‘endorsed’ the first ‘Vision Statement for the Strategic Partnership’ as a “guide to strengthen and deepen cooperation in every sector for the benefit of global stability and people’s livelihoods over the next ten years.
After a keenly contested Presidential election, the result of which came under a serious cloud when Dr Ashraf Ghani Ahmedzai surprised the odds-on favourite Dr Abdullah Abdullah by crossing the half-way mark, it looked as though the all-important political transition in Afghanistan was unravelling, and with it the future of that country.
It has been a busy September for India’s external relations. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has travelled to Japan, and has welcomed the Australian Prime Minister and the Chinese President in India. He has also travelled to the US, on a very high-profile visit, which seems to set it apart from all other visits from India, at least since the end of the Cold War.