South Asia Basics

South Asia Basics - South Asia: The Basics India Largest...

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South Asia: The Basics India Largest democracy in world. Dynamic, prospering high tech IT sector, but most of population still lives in poverty. Per capita GNP less than half of China. Dominated by two major parties , but balance of power in hands of many smaller ones . Two main parties are Congress , the party of Gandhi and Nehru which led the drive for Indian independence from British rule, and the Hindu nationalist BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) Congress-led coalition is currently in power. Won last two elections , most recently in 2009 (previously 2004) A BJP-led coalition preceded it. The smaller parties that hold balance of power are of two main types . There are those based on ethnicity and usually tied to the state where their members live . For example, there are two Tamil parties home-based in the state of Tamil Nadu that represent the interests of Tamils. But are similar parties in many, if not most, Indian states. There are also parties based on caste . The BJP projects itself as an all Hindu party but in fact caters to the upper castes , particularly the Brahmins . This upper caste tilt has helped fuel the rise of lower caste parties such as the BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party). It claims to represent the interests of Dalits or untouchables in Indian politics. It is currently the ruling party in Uttar Pradesh , the most populous Indian state. Its female leader, Mayawati , is a formidable figure in Indian politics.
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Emergence of these ethnic and caste-based parties is arguably the most significant recent development in the Indian political system. Current Prime Minister of India is Manmohan Singh of Congress , but the Italian-born Sonia Gandhi , the leader of Congress, is the power behind the throne . She is the widow of Rajiv , the son of Indira Gandhi. Her son, Rahul (age 41), is the heir apparent , but, like his mother, is decidedly lacking in personal charisma . Congress is a big tent, patronage-based, dynastic party in which political ideology plays only a minor role . The growth of caste and ethnic-based parties have largely been at its expense , although it experienced a revival beginning with 2004 elections. More recently it fortunes have begun to wane thanks to a seemingly never ending series of scandals. 2G spectrum scandal—over allocation of mobile telephone frequencies—most prominent. Actually a Wikipedia entry detailing all the various scandals. Has precipitated non-violent protest movement known as Team Anna led by crusading septuagenarian Anna Hazare to create an independent anti- corruption ombudsman with prosecutory powers. Known as Lokpal. Scandals have worked to advantage of opposition BJP , currently led by Nitin Gadkari . But Narendra Modi , controversial BJP chief minister of state of Gujarat , is widely regarded as next prime minister , should BJP return to power. However,
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This note was uploaded on 01/30/2012 for the course IAFF 3186 taught by Professor Johnschmidt during the Spring '12 term at GWU.

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South Asia Basics - South Asia: The Basics India Largest...

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