...PAKISTAN STUDIES Final assignment Tutor: Usman Sadique India Pakistan India is developing into an open-market economy, yet traces of its past autarkic policies remain. Economic liberalization, including industrial deregulation, privatization of state-owned enterprises, and reduced controls on foreign trade and investment, began in the early 1990s and has served to accelerate the country's growth, which has averaged more than 7% per year since 1997. India's diverse economy encompasses traditional village farming, modern agriculture, handicrafts, a wide range of modern industries, and a multitude of services. Slightly more than half of the work force is in agriculture, but services are the major source of economic growth, accounting for nearly two-thirds of India's output, with less than one-third of its labor force. India has capitalized on its large educated English-speaking population to become a major exporter of information technology services and software workers. In 2010, the Indian economy rebounded robustly from the global financial crisis - in large part because of strong domestic demand - and growth exceeded 8% year-on-year in real terms. However, India's economic growth began slowing in 2011 because of a tight monetary policy, intended to address persistent inflation, and a decline in investment, caused by investor pessimism about domestic economic reforms and about the global situation. High international...
A fight between Bharat and India: The country's urban and and rural divide will determine the next year in politics
By Sandeep Bamzai
Published: 00:32 GMT, 1 January 2013 | Updated: 00:32 GMT, 1 January 2013
Political fortunes of India's bipolar polity at the centre have swung so sharply in 2012 that equally one can expect the unexpected in the new year.
In many ways, it has been a roller coaster ride for politicians and political parties, savouring peaks and reeling under the impact of utter despondency in the shallowest of troughs.
Up one day, down another, downcast a third, shooting yourself in the foot the next, the whirligig has been most amusing at one level.
In fact, every time the Congress or the BJP has held the whip hand on some issue, this has dissipated rapidly courtesy a self goal making the gains short lived.
Scenario Next year can be even more dramatic with a catalogue of high profile state elections. One can argue, dang, more elections?
Yes, India always has elections; that is the nature of the beast given its diversity and complexity as also its widely dispersed electorate. The parallel axis theorem teaches you of the mass movement of a rigid or inert body towards the axis.
The question is will the spunk of people power seen in abundance in 2012 deliver the body blow to the Congress in the next general elections. It is not as simple as that.
Politicos are wily, their thinking predicated by several factors. The battle for 2014 will be fought between the electorate in urban agglomerates and rural hinterland.
The Congress party reckons that the rural flock is more or less intact given the slew of social security schemes which for right or wrong have established one of the largest safety nets ever.
It is the BJP which needs to decide on its face for the next war at the hustings. In the eventuality that it plumps for Narendra Modi, one will be surprised that the middle class and the neo middle class may both vote with their feet for him and the BJP in 2014.
The BJP is banking on the Hindu middle class vote gravitating to it if Modi is bumped up as the candidate. The Congress reckons that rural India or Bharat as we know it is still going to vote for the Congress.
The stark chasm will be the single biggest determinant and differentiator the next time round. My own hypothesis can be misread if one factors in Congress's recent win in Himachal Pradesh. Despite that I am sticking to it.
As both sides fortify themselves with the belief that their strategic imperative is sound and flawless, the import of the new year is not lost on either side of the divide.
The new year is politically significant because several vital states go to the polls. The list is long - Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Tripura, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Mizoram - and the road to these assemblies long and arduous.
Old theorems like anti incumbency too have seen pollsters go astray, a case in point being Punjab where the Akalis triumphed despite everything the Congress threw at them.
Factoring in all imponderables, let me breakdown as part of the lowdown on the showdown, where exactly both the major political parties stand viz the frontline states.
Logic says that the BJP which has used the plank of Bipasa - bijli, sadak and pani - with great rigour in MP can see Shivraj Singh Chouhan win again.
Ditto goes for Chhattisgarh where prima facie Raman Singh appears to be in control. Hypothesis Then we come to Delhi where the recent gang rape 'aakrosh' has queered the pitch for Sheila Dikshit's development agenda.
The rape and its subsequent handling may well alter the dynamics for the Congress unequivocally in Delhi. Rajasthan should see anti incumbency at work for Ashok Gehlot's chair appears to be in dire danger of being toppled.
Finally we come to Karnataka where B S Yeddyurappa will play spoiler for both the Congress and BJP. There is also the small matter of dealing with H D Kumaraswamy of JD (S). So we are talking of a UP like situation with quadrangular contests, unless Narendra Modi bursts upon the national scene and convinces Yeddy to return to the fold.
Time though is short for of the frontline states, Karnataka goes to the polls before the others. Now let me go back to my urban vs rural, India vs Bharat hypothesis where the BJP and the Congress are likely to hold sway.
Of the 19 most populous states which return the maximum number of candidates to the Lok Sabha, there are as many as 197 urban and semi urban constituencies while 327 of them fall in the rural sprawl.
The BJP needs Modi the way Congress needs Sonia
As many as 524 constituencies of the 544 are decided by these 19 states. This is the largest swathe of India and Bharat as we know it.
Leaders Of the 197 urban and semi urban constituencies, the BJP will fancy itself in an overwhelming majority. Ditto for the Congress in the rural belt.
Throw in the game changing allies who will be part of the larger architecture. Now draw a concentric circle and narrow focus on six states that deliver the bulk of MPs from these 19. Between UP (80), Bihar (40), Maharashtra (48), West Bengal (42), TN (39) and Andhra Pradesh (42), all told more than half the Lok Sabha is decided. A whopping 291 seats.
Add the regional chieftains - Nitish Kumar, Mamata Banerjee, Jayalaitha, Naveen Patnaik - into this incendiary mix. Elections have been fought and won in these six states. The Congress for instance has come to power in 2004 and 2009 only on the back of Andhra Pradesh.
The big push coming from YSR in Andhra. YSR is dead, the Congress in disarray and his son Jaganmohan in jail.
Yet the Congress hopes that Telangana will provide the breakthrough benefit. The Bharat vs India debate fleshed out on the edifice of the widening urban vs rural divide has the potential to alter the mechanics of any future general elections.
For this state of play, the BJP needs to ensure that Modi is pressed into the breach, just as the Congress will use a mix of populism in the next budget to pump prime its chances.
The Congress meanwhile is not losing sight of the middle class vote. It worked well for them in 2009 when L K Advani fulminated against Manmohan Singh, but 2013 and 2014 are just not 2009.
The rules of engagement have changed, the state of polity altered, corruption and governance deficit talking points, the game turned upside down.
The BJP needs Modi just as the Congress needs Sonia. More than ever, the Congress once again needs Sonia as has been thrown into stark relief when a somnolent government listless, hamstrung and paralysed dealt with the crisis unfolding after the gang rape.
Urban versus rural, Modi versus Sonia, one can relish the delights being made available on the smorgasbor.