Indian Democracy



A series of studies by Klaus VOLL
Former diplomat, Head of India-Europe Consultancy (New Delhi)

A new quality in Indo-US relations: Hillary Clinton's visit to India
New Delhi, India    |     September '09

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The visit of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in India demonstrated the high level of Indo-US strategic relations. India is an important partner of the US, but, given its independent foreign policy, will never be an ally. Global and regional issues, as well as concrete economic interests with regard to nuclear reactors and envisaged high-end arms sales played an important role in the relationship, as do scientific cooperation, education, agriculture, non-proliferation and counter-terrorism. Obvious differences with regard to Climate Change and other issues will be part of the ongoing dialogue. It should be in Europe’s interest, to closely observe these increasing relations between India and the US.

India: The new cabinet and its policy directions - An opportunity for Europe?
New Delhi, India    |    June'09

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Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh relied in the composition of his new government on continuity and change, with a core of trusted ministers (mostly in new positions) and the induction of younger politicians. He expects better performances than in the past.

In the Presidential Address of Pratibha Patil to both Houses of Parliament on the 4th of June 2009, the new coalition government of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), led by the Congress as the dominant political force, stated its major priorities: Key social sectors, infrastructure as well as education, rural development, women’s empowerment and in particular the improvement of governance.

The priorities of the new government offer opportunities for additional interaction between India and Europe as well as the pursuit of some key interests vis-à-vis the emerging big Asian power.

The 15th Lok Sabha elected, for the first time, a woman as its Speaker with 64-years old Meira Kumar taking the position. The nomination of the former cabinet minister, earlier a member of the Foreign Service and socially a Dalit (Oppressed or so-called Untouchable), sends a strong political and social signal for the empowerment of disadvantaged sections and woman.

India's election: a clear mandate for governance
New Delhi, India    |    May '09

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The decisive victory of the Indian National Congress and its alliance partners is a clear mandate for political stability and a vote against extremist policies of the right and left. The Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party and in particular the Indian Left, apart from some regional and caste-based parties, suffered heavy defeats. The new government under Dr. Manmohan Singh will have to tackle the effects of the global financial crisis by introducing specific economic reforms. In foreign policy, the government must position itself vis-à-vis the South Asia policy of the Obama administration and pay more attention to its relations with China and its growing role in the region.

 

Indian democracy: party spectrum and challenges on the eve of the 2009 general elections
New Delhi, India    |    May '09

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India, the biggest democracy in the world with 714 million registered voters, approaches the end of a long campaign and election process. The Congress Party and the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party compete with the Indian Left and a variety of strong regional parties to form a government. Regional, and even local topics will supersede national issues in determining the outcome. A hung Parliament without any clear majority could lead to a period of political instability.

In addition to providing an overview of the diversity of the party spectrum, this paper aims to diagnose major aspects of the political power system, its structural deficits, as well as the challenges it faces.

In the latter part, it also provides an overview of the major parties in the three regional battle zones, their alignments and a short assessment of the ongoing campaign in the run-up to the 2009 Lok Sabha (Lower House) elections. The official results will be announced on the 16th of May 2009.