India — January 2010

Sociopolitical Situation

Generally, India is politically stable. Recent election results in a few states reveal that expectations for the Congress-led coalition government are very high. The parties and fundamentalist groups that have specific interests and agenda have been repeatedly ignored by the people at large and have been consistently defeated at the polls. The Indian National Congress Party has been steadily widening its stake in those states where it had lost ground earlier. As of now, India is comprised of 28 states and there are demands by various regional groups for the creation of new states by dividing some of the larger ones. This could lead to political unrest, particularly in states such as Andhra Pradesh.

After the 26 November attack by terrorists in Mumbai, the country is cautiously handling threats and destructive activities of terrorist groups. Based on various intelligence reports, the nation’s important installations and offices are under strict alert. Countering foreign-sponsored terrorism is one of the main concerns of India today.

Due to the skyrocketing prices of food, the wholesale price index has shot up three and a half times in just one month to stand at 4.78% in November 2009. Food inflation shot up by 19.04%, which is the highest in more than a decade. Potato prices shocked people, skyrocketing by 141% over the last eight months, sugar by 37% and pulses (a legume often used for feed) and onions by 32% and 20% respectively.

Although the global financial crisis has resulted in a slowdown in India’s economic growth, various fiscal and monitory stimulus measures sponsored by the government have begun to yield results. India has been able to weather the negative pressure of global recession. There is a fear, however, that the recent recession in Dubai will result in thousands of job losses for Indians, especially those from South India who were lured there during the boom years. It has to be said that the growing economy of India has done little for the average person and nothing for the poor. Skyrocketing commodity prices have made it unbearable for an average family to survive. Globalization has affected all produce in India; in effect an imbalance is created by globalization and the poor continue to remain poor. An equitable growth throughout the country, benefiting all classes, has to be ensured for real development of India.

Religious Situation

In India, communal harmony exists. Due to its political alienation, the Hindu nationalist party (BJP) and its allies have been largely unsuccessful in drawing attention to their largely xenophobic politics.

The Indian churches have been consistently involved in and stand for the social causes of the common man. The churches raise their voices for the needs of the poor and the Dalit (untouchable) caste. In states such as Kerala, the leftist (Communist) parties have been trying to undermine by various means the churches’ involvement in society, but their efforts have been weakened by timely interventions of the faithful and the leadership. To quote an example, the Kerala Catholic Bishops Conference has offered support for families to have more children in a bid to counter a decline in the Christian population.

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