Economic Reforms Modi came into office promising to crack down on corruption and revive the economy. But some foreign governments were troubled by his reputation as a Hindu nationalist. As the top official of the western state of Gujarat in 2002, Modi had been blamed for stirring up Hindu mob violence against Muslims, which left 1,000 people dead. The accusations, which Modi denied, rendered him persona non grata in the United States, Britain and several other EU countries until he won the premiership. 47 Modi quickly began implementing his campaign promises, pushing through several changes credited with improving the structure of India’s economy. Rescue workers and onlookers survey a collapsed bridge in Kolkata in September. As India, a country of 1.3 billion people, modernizes, the government is pouring money into building or replacing roads, ports and railways. (Getty Images/NurPhoto/Debajyoti Chakraborty) Modi’s government relaxed India’s foreign investment regulations, particularly those affecting pharmaceuticals, e-commerce and defense, attracting a record annual average of $60 billion in foreign direct investment during his first three years in office, compared to $36 billion the year before he took power. 48 Modi began to modernize India’s creaking infrastructure and set new standards for worker mobility, particularly in global services trade. The new goods and services tax transformed India into a single market, and the new comprehensive bankruptcy law began to pay dividends. “Before Modi came along, they never had a concept of Chapter 11, and now they do,” the Eurasia Group’s Kumar says. “If you’re a bank, you can now foreclose on properties and corporate borrowers if the loans are failing.” Modi also introduced biometric ID cards to counter the epidemic of fraud in government-run food programs. Many families had been using multiple ration cards or forged cards to receive more than their share of food aid. “The biometric IDs have put a stop to that abuse, saving the government as much as $6 billion annually,” says Panagariya, the former Modi government official. His boldest and most controversial move was aimed at corruption. His 2016 demonetization, introduced overnight without warning, banned the largest denominations of bank notes. Black marketeers had to pay delinquent taxes to exchange their large bank notes for new bills or be left holding piles of worthless currency. “The number of taxpayers has increased … much faster than it ever did in the past,” Panagariya says. But the government failed to privatize inefficient state-owned companies, and Modi could not muster support to overhaul India’s restrictive land and labor laws. His campaign promise to create 10 million new jobs remained unfulfilled. “So there’s some things they did right, and credit is due,” says the American Enterprise Institute’s Dhume. “But … they basically shied away from any kind of serious reforms dealing with land and labor, and their privatization record was dismal. On trade, they went backward by raising tariffs on numerous imports.” Modi’s foreign policy record also has been mixed. He updated a 10-year defense cooperation agreement with the United States in 2014, and Washington declared India a “major defense partner” in 2015. New Delhi and Washington also signed a major agreement to share logistics during joint naval exercises and reimbursements. But the increased security cooperation with the United States prompted domestic criticism that it would erode the nation’s “strategic autonomy” — the updated term for India’s traditional nonaligned posture. Meanwhile, Modi has strengthened ties with India’s South Asian neighbors, resolved a decades-long border dispute with Bangladesh and deepened ties with Afghanistan. India also began building a port in the Iranian coastal town of Chabahar, in an effort to create a sea-land route from Iran to Afghanistan that bypasses Pakistan. U.S. officials consider the route an important alternative if tensions with Pakistan prompt Islamabad to close the sea-land supply route from Karachi to Afghanistan used by the U.S. military. But Modi’s initial hopes of improving relations with Pakistan and China have not panned out. In a goodwill gesture after winning election, Modi invited then-Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to his May 2014 inauguration. However, in August, as bilateral talks between the two countries were to begin, Pakistan’s ambassador to India invited Muslim separatists from disputed Kashmir to a reception at the Pakistani embassy in New Delhi. Modi promptly canceled the talks. Relations deteriorated further after Pakistan-based militants launched several attacks inside India that killed dozens of Indian soldiers. Modi, who had vowed during his campaign to adopt a hard line toward Islamabad’s provocations, retaliated with a series of military strikes inside Pakistan. India’s relations with China remained strained over Chinese military incursions into disputed territories. Yet under Modi, China became India’s largest trading partner, further complicating relations. But as China sought to broaden its economic, military and political reach in the region, Modi added a security element to India’s trade relations with other Southeast Asian countries. The Indian navy begin making port calls in Indonesia and Malaysia, near the strategic Strait of Malacca. New Delhi also began selling weapons to Vietnam and holding joint naval exercises with Singapore and Japan. Current Situation Income Disparity As Modi gears up for parliamentary elections in May, he appears on course for another five-year term, with nearly an 80 percent job-approval rating, according to a Gallup poll released in July. 49 Under India’s parliamentary system, the voters elect political parties, not individuals. The leader of the winning party becomes prime minister. If the winning party doesn’t capture a majority of seats in India’s lower house, it must form a coalition government with smaller parties. The Gallup poll also showed 54 percent of Indians see economic conditions improving and 86 percent feel satisfied with the amount of freedom in their lives — higher than at any point in the past decade. 50 Foreign investment is strong, the Indian stock market is soaring and economic growth is galloping along. Yet it does not feel that way to huge numbers of Indians. Hundreds of millions of farmers and lower-caste Indians, who make up the country’s enormous underclass, see their lives getting worse while a handful of millionaires, billionaires and upper-class professionals are getting richer. Indeed, according to the Gallup poll, only 3 percent of Indians rank their lives today and in the future as “thriving.” 51 Justin Lall, a polling analyst and strategic partnerships manager at Gallup, said, “Indians rate their lives worse now than they have at any point in the history of Gallup’s global tracking.” 52 Analysts attribute the discrepancy between Indians’ optimism about their economy and government and their pessimism about their own lives in large part to the growing income gap between the rich and the poor. A January report by Oxfam, a global development and anti-poverty organization, said India’s richest 1 percent now hold 73 percent of the country’s wealth — up from 58 percent the previous year — while wealth has risen by just 1 percent among the 670 million Indians who make up the country’s poorest half. 53 India has 119 billionaires collectively worth $440.1 billion, according to Forbes magazine. But average per capita annual income in 2017 was $1,939, according to the World Bank. 54 “It is alarming [that] the benefits of economic growth in India continue to concentrate in fewer hands,” said Nisha Agrawal, Oxfam India’s CEO. 55 Another Gallup survey, released in August, found that 37 percent of Indian adults have at times not had enough money to buy food during the past year, double the 18 percent with similar complaints in 2012, before Modi came to power. In India’s eastern states, the nation’s poorest, nearly half of the population struggles to afford food, the survey found. 56 In 2014, Modi’s promises of improved living standards won him strong support in India’s rural areas, where 70 percent of Indians live. 57 The nation’s 263 million farmers deserted the Congress Party in droves in response to Modi’s promises of higher crop prices. 58 With agriculture employing the majority of the country’s 520 million-strong workforce, farmers were a key factor in the BJP’s electoral success. 59 But Modi may not be able to count on the farm vote again. Since he came into office, commodity prices have plummeted, fuel costs have risen and tightened credit in India’s mostly government-run banks have made it difficult for farmers to borrow money to buy seed, fertilizer and pesticides. “There was a wave for Modi in 2014, but farmers are disenchanted with him now,” said Uday Vir Singh, 53, a sugar cane grower in Kairana, in Uttar Pradesh state. “Modi promised to double farmers’ income but our earning has halved because of his apathy and anti-farmer policies,” such as cuts in crop subsidies by Modi’s pro-business BJP and the party’s reluctance to address the credit crunch. 60 Over the past several months, roughly a half million subsistence farmers, many with less than five acres of land, have staged protests demanding loan forgiveness and higher prices for their crops. The government sets commodity prices in India. According to Palagummi Sainath, a journalist and author who focuses on India’s rural economy, public-sector banks have been rejecting small farmers’ loan requests since the 1990s, forcing them to borrow from unscrupulous street-corner lenders who charge annual interests of up to 60 percent. As a result, nearly 15 million farmers lost their farms between 1991 and 2011, according to Sainath. Between 2011 and 2015, farmers’ ranks shrank by another 26 million, according to a June 2017 study by the McKinsey Global Institute, a private sector think tank based in New York. Many of the dispossessed farmers, Sainath said, have ended up in India’s impoverished underclass, working as agricultural laborers. 61 “We need freedom from debt,” said Abhimanyu Kohar, national coordinator of the National Farmers Big Union, which organized the protests. “We are not asking for dole; we are not criminals. The farmer is in debt today not because he has messed up but because of the flawed policies of the government.” 62 A member of India’s lowest caste, the Dalits — formerly known as “untouchables” — attacks a bus in April during protests in Bhopal against an Indian Supreme Court ruling the Dalits say reduced their legal protections. India’s Hindu caste system is officially outlawed, but the country’s 260 million Dalits continue to face prejudice and violence. (Getty Images/Hindustan Times/Mujeeb Faruqui) Another large rural constituency unhappy with Modi and his party — the 250 million Dalits, members of India’s lowest caste once known as “untouchables” — could be another potent force in next year’s elections. Despite a system of affirmative action that aimed to lift India’s lower castes, Dalits continue to suffer job discrimination and physical attacks when they violate age-old caste taboos. In late March, a mob in Gujarat murdered a Dalit youth for riding a horse, something Dalits once were prohibited from doing. 63 Although India’s 2,000-year-old caste system was outlawed at independence, the rigid, Hindu system of social stratification endures. It divided people into five categories according to their work and social status. At the top were the Brahmins, which traditionally included priests and teachers, followed by rulers and warriors, merchants and farmers, and laborers. The fifth category was the Dalits, who worked as street sweepers and latrine cleaners. 64 For centuries, the apartheid-like system determined every aspect of Hindu life: Upper and lower castes lived in segregated communities and intermarriage was strictly forbidden. Last names indicated one’s caste, which was unalterable and handed down for generations. Affirmative action programs instituted by successive governments have failed to eradicate job and housing discrimination against the lower castes, particularly in the countryside. A week after the horse-riding Dalit youth was murdered, hundreds of thousands of Dalits rioted in New Delhi — burning buses, blocking railroad tracks and hurling bricks at police. They were protesting a court ruling that many said swept away some of the hard-fought protections they had won against discrimination. 65 To help dampen the anger of the Dalits and the farmers, Modi announced in September that he was providing free health care to half a billion poor Indians. 66 He also aims to provide a toilet for every household by next March, the 150th birthday of Mahatma Gandhi. In September, however, police arrested five activists for India’s disadvantaged, charging links to an outlawed group of Maoists who’ve been waging a 50-year insurgency in the impoverished central state of Chhattisgarh. Modi’s opponents say the arrests are an effort to quash dissent ahead of next year’s elections and a test of civil liberties in India. 67 U.S. Ties In foreign policy, Modi is drawing closer to an unofficial alliance with the United States, defying critics who have expressed concerns about losing India’s traditional autonomy in international affairs. In September, the United States and India signed a major agreement to share encrypted communications, enabling U.S. weapons sales to India and greater operational coordination during military exercises. Just before the high-level talks began, New Delhi announced it will purchase 24 Lockheed Martin maritime helicopters at an estimated $1.8 billion. The announcement follows sizeable purchases of U.S.-made military hardware over the past decade, as well as India’s regular participation in joint naval exercises with U.S. forces. 68 Meanwhile, U.S. aerospace companies are vying for a $15 billion deal to supply 110 jet fighters to India’s air force, but Modi insists the planes be manufactured in India, according to Indian defense officials. 69 The deepening security ties dovetail with Washington’s focus on the importance of India and the Indian Ocean in U.S. strategic thinking, given China’s expanding influence in the region. To underscore the region’s significance, the Pentagon’s U.S. Pacific Command has been renamed the Indo-Pacific Command. 70 The ties also fit with India’s efforts to modernize its conventional ground and air forces, build a modern navy capable of projecting power on the high seas and reassert its military primacy throughout the Indian Ocean. Still, New Delhi has been careful not to align itself too closely with Washington. Unlike Japan and South Korea, India has no defense treaty with the United States and has not sought one. “India has a neuralgic opposition to alliances,” says Tarapore, the Indian national security expert. “It will not go into an alliance with the U.S. or any other country.” But to maintain its strategic autonomy, India has maintained “good, productive relations with a bunch of countries so that India isn’t beholden to any one power.” For example, India has diversified its weapons suppliers to include Russia and Israel, among others, and has reached agreements with the Seychelles and Oman to build naval bases in those countries as counterweights to the port China is building on Pakistan’s coast. 71 Even so, India and the United States remain at odds over the Trump administration’s threats to sanction India for buying Iranian oil and for its plans to purchase an advanced Russian air defense system. It is unclear whether the U.S. administration, which continues to threaten punitive sanctions against any country that does business with Tehran and Moscow, will exempt India from those sanctions. Outlook Rapid Urbanization India-watchers foresee one of two scenarios in the country’s future, depending on whether it continues to overhaul its economy and education systems, exercises adroit political leadership — and benefits from sheer luck. The first scenario depicts a bright future in which India’s leaders preserve and advance Modi’s liberalizing economic policies, encourage tolerance and government spending to harness urbanization and the massive influx of young people into the workforce. Over the next 30 years, experts say, about half a billion people will move from the countryside to the cities. Historically, urbanization has fostered increased literacy and economic growth, expanding the middle class. 72 About a million young people will be entering the workforce every month for the next decade. With the right policies, economists say, they will find jobs and produce what economists call a “demographic dividend” as they increase productivity and savings. India could become one of the world’s most powerful countries if it “gets its act together” and increases economic efficiency, creates jobs, improves the education system and builds a national ideology that includes diversity and civic bonds that are “not just based on identity,” says the American Enterprise Institute’s Dhume. “Then you’re talking about a young, dynamic, growing middleincome country, which will play a larger role on the global stage.” Many experts say India’s economic future will also affect the balance of power in Asia, with a strong India providing a prosperous and democratic example for the region’s developing countries instead of China’s authoritarian model. Still, even within optimists’ rosy scenario, security experts do not expect India’s border disputes with China to be resolved. “The challenge over the next decade will be to manage that issue so it doesn’t turn into a big war, and I predict there won’t be a big war,” says Tarapore. “But that irritant will remain.” The alternative scenario is nothing short of a dystopian nightmare, analysts say: Urbanization produces scattered islands of wealth, but the vast majority of Indians lack jobs and must deal with inadequate government services and neglected infrastructure. Many of the nation’s youth, feeling betrayed by government promises to reduce income inequality, retreat to their religious, regional and caste identities, aggravating sectarianism. 73 Such a future could have incendiary implications. The sharp decline in life satisfaction amid the steady GDP growth already mirrors conditions in Egypt just before the 2011 uprising there, says Lall, the Gallup analyst. “You could have a weak economy that eventually plateaus; a fairly low level of income; and the demographic dividend … turns into a demographic disaster as unemployed youth resort to violence and India’s politicians adopt more nativist and chauvinist policies,” says Dhume. “These are the two poles,” he says. “In reality, things tend to fall somewhere in the middle.” The big question is whether India will fall more toward the positive or the negative side, he says. “Frankly, the jury is still out.” Pro/Con Is a close strategic partnership with the U.S. good for India? Pro Con Arzan Tarapore Brahma Chellaney Nonresident Fellow, National Bureau of Asian Research. Written for CQ Researcher, October 2018 Professor and Head of Strategic Studies, Center for Policy Research, New Delhi, India. Excerpted from The Hindustan Times, September 2018 A close strategic relationship with the United States is the most effective way to secure India’s strategic interests. As the past decade of deepening relations has illustrated, U.S. material and political support augments and multiplies India’s rising power in at least three ways. First, it gives India access to state-of-the-art military equipment and technology transfers. India’s most capable acquisitions in recent years have been from the United States, including M-777 artillery, P-8I maritime patrol aircraft and C-130J and C-17 transport aircraft, which extend the range of Indian forces. In the future, this may include codevelopment of aircraft carriers and satellites. The partnership is a vital resource for military modernization and military-industrial development — clearly exceeding what India could achieve independently or with other partners. Second, the partnership allows India to more effectively tackle its security interests. U.S. intelligence sharing, for example, has given India insight into terrorist threats and Chinese military activity. Combined military exercises, such as Malabar, a trilateral naval exercise conducted off the coast of Guam this year, help India prepare for coordinated military operations in the Indian Ocean. Third, the partnership gives India political support as its power rises. The United States is actively encouraging India’s growing influence in the region. A more tense relationship between the two countries — as existed in previous decades — might have prompted the United States to thwart India’s rise. Washington has supported India’s membership in regional and global governance institutions and has encouraged U.S. allies, such as Japan and Australia, to deepen their own strategic partnerships with India. These benefits do not — as many Indian critics claim — compromise India’s sovereignty. Agreements, such as the recently signed pact enabling the transfer of encrypted communications between Indian and U.S. forces, help facilitate Indian military activity but do not bind India politically. The partnership will never be a formal alliance so it imposes no strategic obligations. Meanwhile, India is free to pursue an independent foreign policy, as demonstrated by its continued close relations with Russia and Iran. The United States may be statutorily obligated to sanction India for buying arms and energy from Russia and Iran, but the United States may yet waive those sanctions for the sake of preserving positive bilateral relations. Thus, a closer strategic partnership offers India and the United States a better chance of managing such periodic policy differences. The United States has emerged as India’s most important partner in the Indo-Pacific region. However, in India’s neighborhood, Washington and New Delhi are still not on the same page…. The United States and India have become key partners in seeking to create a free, open and democracy-led IndoPacific. The critical missing link in this strategy, however, is the South China Sea, which connects the Indian and Pacific oceans. U.S. reluctance to impose tangible costs on China’s continued expansionism in the South China Sea has emboldened Chinese inroads in the Indian Ocean…. India [also] has emerged as a prime victim of two new sets of U.S. economic sanctions — on Iran and on Russia. The new sanctions directly impinge on India, a longstanding significant buyer of Russian weapons and the secondlargest importer of Iranian oil after China. The twin U.S. pressures on the energy and defense fronts have made India acutely aware of the risks of aligning itself closer with Washington. After ensnaring India in its Iran and Russia sanctions, Washington has sought to save the promising Indo-U.S. strategic partnership by throwing in concessions. In reality, the concessions are intended as tools of leverage. For example, the Pentagon’s top Asia official, characterizing Indian media reports as “misleading,” has made it clear that India can expect no waiver from Russia-related sanctions if it signs major new defense deals with Moscow. The congressional waiver crimps India’s leeway with its stringent conditions, including a six-monthly presidential certification specifying the other side’s active steps to cut its inventory of Russian military hardware. On the Iran-related sanctions, no waiver for India is [yet] in sight. With global shipping operators already pulling back from business with Iran and oil prices rising, India’s energyimport bill is increasing. U.S. sanctions threaten to affect even India’s Pakistan-bypassing [transit] corridor to Afghanistan via Iran…. The Trump administration is clearly seeking to influence India’s arms-procurement and energy-import policies [and is] pressuring New Delhi to buy more American weapons, although the United States has already emerged as [India’s] largest arms seller. The United States and India will remain close friends. Washington, however, must fully address Indian concerns over the extraterritorial effects of its new sanctions on Iran and Russia. Make no mistake: Washington has introduced a major irritant in the bilateral relationship. Chronology 1947–1964 A newly independent India embraces socialist economic policies and a pacifist, nonaligned foreign policy. 1947 India gains independence from Britain after a nonviolent movement led by Mahatma Gandhi. … Muslims form separate state of Pakistan amid bloody sectarian violence. 1948 A Hindu extremist assassinates Gandhi. 1962 China defeats India in brief border war along their disputed frontiers with Tibet and Kashmir. 1964 Nehru dies in office. 1966–1989 Indira Gandhi tightens Soviet-style state control of the economy and represses political opponents. 1966 Nehru’s daughter, Indira Gandhi (no relation to Mahatma Gandhi), becomes prime minister…. India launches a “Green Revolution” using higher-yield seeds and irrigation and eventually becomes self-sufficient in grain production. 1971 India and the Soviet Union sign a Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation, cementing the Kremlin’s role as India’s main arms supplier…. India and Pakistan go to war, leading to East Pakistan’s independence as the new nation of Bangladesh. 1974 India becomes the first nation outside of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council to conduct a nuclear weapons test. 1977 Voters reject Gandhi and her Indian National Congress party. 1980 Government unravels; Gandhi is returned to office. 1984 Gandhi is assassinated by two of her Sikh bodyguards five months after she orders the army to storm the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the Sikh religion’s holiest site…. Her son, Rajiv, becomes prime minister. 1989 Rajiv Gandhi voted out of office. 1991–Present India embraces free-market principles, paving the way for economic growth and a larger international role. 1991 Amid a financial crisis, India begins to liberalize its economy. Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi is assassinated in a suicide bombing. 1998 India conducts a second nuclear test, prompting Pakistan to announce its own successful nuclear tests. Western nations impose economic sanctions on both countries…. Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) comes to power at the head of a coalition government. 1999 India and Pakistan fight over Kashmir for the third time. 2001 Terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament by Pakistan-backed Kashmiri separatists raises fears of nuclear war with Pakistan. 2004 Congress Party unseats the BJP-led coalition in national election. Economist and former Finance Minister Manmohan Singh becomes prime minister. 2007 Economy grows by 9.2 percent, the fourth year of high growth…. Percentage of Indians living in extreme poverty falls to one quarter, from one third in 2004. 2008 Islamist terrorists from Pakistan kill 175 people in 12 coordinated shooting and bombing attacks over four days in Mumbai. 2014–2016 BJP returns to power. Narendra Modi becomes prime minister and begins to overhaul tax, bankruptcy and anti-corruption laws. 2017 In response to China’s aggressive moves in South Asia, India signs military cooperation agreements with the United States. 2018 Modi, who is running for re-election, launches new nationwide health care initiative. 2019 Parliamentary elections are scheduled for May. Short Features Indian Women Face Rampant Violence, Discrimination One study found bias costs India’s economy $900 billion a year. India is one of the few countries where women have served as prime minister and chief ministers — the equivalent of state governors in the United States — and fill half the seats on local government councils. When Forbes magazine issued its 2018 list of the world’s billionaires, six were Indian women. 1 Yet Indian women routinely are victims of blatant, brutal and sometimes legal gender discrimination and violence in homes, schools and workplaces, according to experts, and that bias severely retards the country’s economic growth. Gender bias begins before birth. At all levels of Indian society, the culture traditionally prizes sons over daughters. In poor families, the bias stems from the inability to afford the high cost of the dowries that are typically demanded from a bride’s family by the groom’s family. As a result, if a pregnant woman learns that her unborn child will be female, an abortion often takes place. India has 37 million more men than women, according to its 2011 census, its most recent, and the proportion of female newborns continues to plummet. 2 Child marriage, though illegal, is still widespread. According to the United Nations, more than a quarter of Indian girls are married by the time they reach 18, the legal age to wed; 7 percent are married by age 15. In addition, more than 7,000 brides are burned to death or forced to commit suicide each year by their grooms’ families for not delivering adequate dowries, according to India’s National Crime Records Bureau, but fewer than 35 percent of the perpetrators are convicted. 3 According to the Indian government, an Indian woman is raped every 21 minutes, and crimes against women have increased 34 percent in the past four years. But experts say most rapes are never reported, and spousal rape is not a crime in India. 4 In addition, lower-caste and Muslim women are often the victims of so-called honor killings if they become romantically involved or engaged to upper-caste or Hindu men. Faced with the “dishonor” of a mixed marriage, the man’s relatives simply kill the woman, according to New Delhi-based feminist columnist Kavita Krishnan. 5 A Thompson Reuters Foundation poll this year named India as the world’s most dangerous country for women, up from fourth place seven years ago, mostly due to the risk Indian women face from sexual violence and harassment; cultural, tribal and traditional practices; and being forced into sex slavery or domestic servitude. 6 A spokesperson for the poll says the risks apply to both urban and rural women. During a Sept. 17 protest against gender-based violence in New Delhi, Indian women demand justice in the gang rape of a college student in northern Haryana state. According to the government, crimes against Indian women have increased 34 percent in the past four years, and a recent poll named India the world’s most dangerous country for women. (AFP/Getty Images/Money Sharma) Violence is not the only obstacle Indian women face due to their devalued status in Indian culture. Economists say the Indian government does a poor job of integrating women into the job market, which hinders economic growth. A 2015 study by the McKinsey Global Institute, a private-sector think tank in New York, said Indian women represent only 24 percent of India’s formal labor force, compared with an average of 40 percent worldwide. As a result, women account for only 17 percent of India’s gross domestic product (GDP), far below the global average of 37 percent, the study said. 7 In fact, if women had full parity in the Indian workforce, it would boost the economy by roughly $900 billion a year, according to Dhruva Jaishankar, an expert on India at the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington and its New Delhi branch. India’s average annual economic growth of 7.7 percent during 2003–13 could have been 11.6 percent if women had fully participated in the workforce, he said. 8 Education is a major challenge to women achieving parity in the workplace, experts say. Girls and boys attend primary and secondary schools in equal numbers, but males account for a greater share of higher education students because female students often marry at an early age. Only 42 percent of Indian university students are female. 9 Some multinational corporations operating in India have taken steps to increase women’s participation in the workforce. The Indian branch of Unilever, the global household products giant, has encouraged women who left their jobs to raise children to return as part-time consultants, with the option to resume full-time employment. 10 But a June 2018 study by several European labor rights groups found that many Indian factories that produce apparel for major U.S. and European brands, such as Gap and Hugo Boss, foster working conditions tantamount to modern forms of slavery, especially for female workers. 11 India does not have anti-gender discrimination employment laws. Thus, many women who try to find jobs find that employers prefer to hire males. A World Bank study of more than 800,000 Indian help-wanted ads posted online between 2007 and 2017 found that many employers specified they were seeking a man. Employers were willing to hire women as receptionists, beauticians, nursemaids or cooks, jobs that tend to be lower in status and pay, the study found. Notable exceptions were customer service call center jobs and administrative work, some of which offered women salaries that were 19 percent higher than those offered to male applicants. 12 Sadanand Dhume, an India expert at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington, says Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has experimented with several technological approaches to reducing gender inequality and violence, with mixed results. To combat rape, for instance, the government two years ago required all mobile phones sold in India to include a panic button that can be pressed if help is needed, to alert police or a person chosen by the phone user. The government’s faith in technology reflects “a peculiar Indian tendency to seek silver-bullet solutions for complex problems” that instead require education about outdated notions about violence against women, Dhume says. — Jonathan Broder [1] Luisa Kroll and Kerry Dolan, “The Billionaires 2018,” Forbes, March 6, 2018, [2] Dhruva Jaishankar, “The Huge Cost of India’s Discrimination Against Women,” The Atlantic, March 18, 2013,; Simon Denyer and Annie Gowen, “Too Many Men,” The Washington Post, April 18, 2018, [3] “Child Marriage Around the World: India,” Girls Not Brides, undated,; Chayyanika Nigam, “21 lives lost to dowry every day across India; conviction rate less than 35 per cent,” India Today, April 22, 2017, [4] Sorcha Pollak and Rahul Bedi, “Indian government tries to curb violence against women,” Irish Times, March 15, 2017,; Sunita Toor, “How to stop violence against women in India — it starts with training police officers,” The Conversation, Jan. 23, 2018, [5] Kavita Krishnan, “‘Honour’ crimes in India: An assault on women’s autonomy,” Aljazeera, March 14, 2018, [6] Belinda Goldsmith and Meka Beresford, “Exclusive: India most dangerous country for women with sexual violence rife: global poll,” Reuters, June 25, 2018, [7] Jonathan Woetzel et al., “The Power of Parity: Advancing Women’s equality in India,” McKinsey Global Institute, November 2015, [8] Jaishankar, op. cit. [9] Ibid. [10] Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, “Here’s how companies are fighting gender bias in the workplace,” World Economic Forum, Jan. 9, 2018,; “Unilever: Global Reach With Local Roots: Creating a Gender-Balanced Workforce in Different Cultural Contexts,” Catalyst, Jan. 24, 2013, [11] Vicky Anning, ed., “Case closed, problems persist,” Homeworkers Worldwide, India Committee of the Netherlands, Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations, June 2018, [12] Afra R. Chowdhury et al., “Reflections of Employers’ Gender Preference in Job Ads in India,” World Bank Group, March 2018, India Struggles to Achieve Renewable Energy Goals Reliance on fossil fuels, other challenges stand in the way. All across India, solar panels are cropping up on the roofs of factories, airport operations centers and on irrigation pumps. Large tracts of land have been transformed into some of the world’s biggest solar parks, and the southern state of Tamil Nadu now hosts one of the world’s largest onshore wind farms. Even a few of India’s famously antiquated railroad locomotives are now solarpowered, as is the official residence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 13 These projects are part of Modi’s ambitious plan to install 227 gigawatts of clean, renewable energy by 2022. 14 That would replace all of the 222 gigawatts of power currently produced by coal plus two-thirds of India’s installed power capacity of 345 gigawatts. 15 With additional pledges to sell only electrical vehicles in India by 2030 and cut by one third the 2005 level of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by the same year, Modi hopes to become a global leader in the use of green energy technology to fight climate change. 16 So far, however, the government has installed equipment to generate just 70 gigawatts of renewable energy, and projects that could generate another 40 gigawatts of green power are either under construction or still up for bidding. The slow pace has put Modi’s plan behind schedule, prompting many sustainable energy experts to question whether India can meet his ambitious deadlines. Standing in his way, experts say, are several major obstacles, including infrastructure challenges, competing demands for government funds and the country’s continued reliance on fossil fuels for its energy needs. “There are many, many operational constraints to the plan in terms of land availability, transmission connections, who’s going to buy and pay for those [transmission] towers, and so forth,” said Vinay Rustagi, managing director of Bridge to India, a renewable energy consulting firm. 17 Solar panels catch the sun at an industrial complex in Rajasthan state in June 2017. India has vowed to become a global leader in green energy technology by switching its coal-based generation to renewable sources and its gasolinepowered automobiles to electric cars. (Getty Images/Bloomberg/Prashanth Vishwanathan) Ever since India signed on to the Paris climate accords in 2015, Modi has sought to make India a global leader in renewable energy. At the Paris meeting, he announced the formation of the International Solar Alliance, a coalition of 121 countries that India now leads, to promote worldwide collaboration on developing solar power technology. Since then, he has repeatedly emphasized the need for nations to act against climate change. A shortage of money is not one of the obstacles Modi faces, according to energy experts. The World Bank has pledged more than $1 billion to support India’s development of more efficient solar panels, solar-energy parks, transmission lines to distribute power from sun-rich areas and other initiatives to expand solar power. 18 In March, the European Union kicked in another 800 million euros ($940 million) for clean energy projects in India. 19 And these amounts were supplemented with $10 billion in public and private investment in India’s solar industry in 2017, according to a March report by the Mercom Capital Group, a Bangalore-based clean energy consulting firm. The slowdown is due in part to the government’s diversion of funds to cover revenue losses caused by its shaky implementation of a new goods and services tax, according to Mongabay-India, a conservation and environmental news site. In addition, government tariffs on imported Chinese solar panels have created a shortage of solar equipment. “A number of changes are required” in India’s solar policies, said S.P. Gon Chaudhuri, an Indian energy consultant. “Those changes have not taken place … yet, [so] there is a slowdown.” 20 Yet without such changes, he said, India cannot hit its renewable energy targets. Rahul Tongia, a sustainable energy expert at the Brookings Institution’s New Delhi branch, said India also must overcome a major structural hurdle before it can scale up its renewable energy capacity. India’s electricity grid will need to be able to store renewable energy and ramp it up or down as needed, he said. This variability and non-controllability, he said, is “the core of one of the challenges” of renewable energy. 21 The power grid also presents problems for Modi’s electric vehicle strategy, said Denes Csala, an energy storage expert at Britain’s Lancaster University. India’s solar and wind power alone will not be enough to power those vehicles, he said, so the country will still need its fossil-fuel power plants. “Effectively, India will replace petrol with coal and may even need to expand coal power, thus actually increasing emissions,” he said. 22 More than 80 percent of India’s energy comes from coal and imported oil. “India couldn’t replace that overnight,” said Csala. “Even if it wanted to, there are not enough wind turbines and solar panels in the world” to do that. As a result, he said, “the transition to renewable energy could take decades.” 23 Besides, in a sign that India is not planning to abandon fossil fuels anytime soon, he pointed out, Russia’s state-owned Rosneft oil company invested $13 billion in India’s Essar Oil in 2016 and another $25 billion to lay a gas pipeline from Siberia to India. 24 — Jonathan Broder [13] Dénes Csala, “India wants to become a solar superpower — but its plans don’t add up,” The Conversation, Nov. 11, 2016, [14] Michael Safi, “India’s huge solar ambitions could push coal further into shade,” The Guardian, June 29, 2018, [15] “Power Sector in India,” India Brand Equity Foundation, September 2018, [16] Jackie Wattles, “India to sell only electric cars by 2030,” CNN Money, June 1, 2017,; Anjali Jaiswal, “India Leads on Climate Action as Trump Exits Paris Agreement,” National Resources Defense Council, [17] Safi, op. cit. [18] “World Bank to Back India’s Solar Power Initiative,” The Associated Press, Voice of America, June 30, 2016, [19] Frédéric Simon, “India takes lion’s share of EU bank funding for solar power,”, March 13, 2018, [20] Sapna Gopal, “Will India be able to meet its renewable energy targets by 2022?” Mongabay-India, March 5, 2018, [21] “Rahul Tongia on the Indian Power Grid,” Brookings India, Jan. 15, 2015, [22] Csala, op. cit. [23] Ibid. [24] Ibid. Bibliography Books Ayres, Alyssa , Our Times Has Come: How India Is Making Its Place in the World , Oxford University Press, 2017. A former U.S. diplomat traces India’s economic liberalization and its rise as a global power. Crabtree, James , The Billionaire Raj: A Journey Through India’s New Gilded Age , Tim Duggan Books, 2018. A former Mumbai bureau chief for Britain’s Financial Times explores India’s new billionaire class and the economic policies that created it. Goswami, Namrata , India’s Approach to Asia: Strategy, Geopolitics and Responsibility , Pentagon Press, 2015. An Indian defense expert at New Delhi’s Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses examines India’s security issues, including its border disputes with China, military modernization and its strategic relations and rivalries with major powers. Poonam, Snigdha , Dreamers: How Young Indians Are Changing Their World , Viking, 2018. An Indian journalist profiles her country’s Millennials and their uncertain future in a country with a booming economy but few opportunities. Articles “India refuses to endorse China’s Belt and Road Initiative,” The Hindu, June 10, 2018, India turned down China’s invitation to participate in its pan-Asian infrastructure initiative, alleging the Pakistan spur is being built on disputed territory. “World Bank sees India as fastest growing economy for next 3 years,” The Mint, June 8, 2018, The World Bank projects “robust” growth for India as factors holding back growth fade. Bagchi, Indrani , “Access to Omani port to help India check China at Gwadar,” Times of India, Feb. 14, 2018, India seeks port privileges in the Omani port of Duqm as a way to balance China’s maritime presence in Pakistan. Barry, Ellen, and Suhasini Raj , “Firebrand Hindu Priest Ascends India’s Political Ladder,” The New York Times, July 12, 2017, Two reporters explain the growing appeal of Hindu nationalism in Indian politics. Chaudhury, Dipanjan Roy , “There won’t be a war at Doklam as India and China agree to disengage,” Economic Times, Aug. 29, 2017, India’s border disputes with China are unlikely to provoke a war but will remain a source of tension. Doshi, Vidhi , “India launches ambitious health-care program for poor,” The Washington Post, Sept. 24, 2018, The Indian government introduces a massive health care program for a half billion poor people, noting it is unclear how much it will cost. George, Steve , “Gender discrimination kills 239,000 girls in India each year, study finds,” CNN, May 15, 2018, A study published in the British medical journal, The Lancet, finds that nearly a quarter million girls up to age five die every year in India due to neglect and gender bias. Lall, Justin , “Indians’ Life Satisfaction Goes Bust as Economy Booms,” Gallup, July 1, 2018, A Gallup Poll analyst cites India’s enormous income inequality as the reason most Indians are unhappy despite the country’s economic progress. Safi, Michael , “India’s huge solar ambitions could push coal further into shade,” The Guardian, June 29, 2018, India announces plans to develop 100 gigawatts of solar power to underscore its commitment to reducing greenhouse gases, even though the country lacks the infrastructure and the demand for so much solar power, a British journalist writes. Reports and Studies Anning, Vicky , ed., “Case closed, problems persist,” Homeworkers Worldwide, India Committee of the Netherlands and Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations, June 2018, A study by three labor rights organizations finds that despite efforts by Western clothing companies to ensure fair treatment of all workers in their supply chains, female workers in India are still the victims of discrimination. Chowdhury, Afra R. , et al., “Reflections of Employers’ Gender Preference in Job Ads in India,” World Bank Group, March 2018, A team of social scientists examines how job ads in India expose blatant gender bias. A team of social scientists examines how job ads in India expose blatant gender bias. Kang, Kenneth H., and Seán Nolan , “India: 2018,” International Monetary Fund, Aug. 6, 2018, The International Monetary Fund’s Asia and Pacific Department predicts robust growth for at least the next three years. The Next Step China Srivastava, Shruti , “India Plans to Fill Gap Left by U.S. Exports to China,” Bloomberg, Aug. 27, 2018, India is hoping to replace the United States as a main supplier of more than 40 products to China amid the U.S.-China battle over tariffs. Stacey, Kiran , “China and India lead the surge to solar energy,” Financial Times, Sept. 24, 2018, China and India are making strides in developing more cost-efficient wind and solar energy resources. Tambi, Radhey , “The Folly of Great Expectation From India-China Relations,” The Diplomat, Aug. 28, 2018, Recent diplomacy has not been enough to alleviate tensions between China and India over trade and military issues, says a geopolitical research scholar. Climate Change “CO2 emissions cost India USD 210 billion every year: Study,” The Economic Times, Sept. 26, 2018, Carbon dioxide emissions cost India billions of dollars each year due to lower agricultural yields caused by higher temperatures and decreased worker productivity, a study by the University of California, San Diego, found. “India most vulnerable country to climate change — HSBC report,” Reuters, March 19, 2018, India’s top climate change concerns are agriculture, unirrigated areas threatened by rising temperatures and declining rainfall, according to an analysis by international banking firm HSBC. Thomas, Maria , “Developed nations are ‘outsourcing’ emissions to India,” Quartz, Sept. 5, 2018, Producing goods for export accounts for almost 20 percent of India’s carbon emissions, according to a recent report by an energy and environmental research firm. Economic Growth Bhattacharya, Ananya , “India’s pulled at least 170 million people out of poverty since 1990,” Quartz, Sept. 12, 2018, India reduced the number of its citizens in poverty by 25 percent between 1990 and 2013, according to a global management consulting group. Matthew, Joe C. , “Azim Premji University joins the jobs debate; study says India struggles to convert GDP growth into jobs,” Business Today, Sept. 26, 2018, India generates few employment opportunities for young, educated citizens, says a recent Azim Premji University report. Nag, Anirban, and Vrishti Beniwal , “Fastest-Growing Major Economy Holds Shaky Crown Amid Risks,” Bloomberg, Sept. 1, 2018, India’s status as a rapidly growing economy could be at risk due to a variety of factors, including its dependency on oil imports and a depreciating currency. Gender Discrimination “India launches first sex offenders register amid spate of rapes,” Al Jazeera, Sept. 21, 2018, India has created a database of sex offenders in an effort to stem the surge of sexual violence against women in the country. Bhalotra, Sonia , “The disturbing link between gold prices and the survival of girls in India,” Quartz, Sept. 24, 2018, New research shows a potential connection between the cost of gold — a common commodity of bridal dowries — and the survival rate of infant and fetal females in India. Prasad, Rita , “Is malnutrition in India a gender problem?” Qrius, Sept. 11, 2018, The lower social standing of Indian women often leads to malnourishment in pregnant women and female children, says a health care specialist. Contacts Centre for Policy Research Dharma Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi 110021, India 91-11-2611-5273 Organization that researches Indian public policy issues. Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses 1 Development Enclave, Delhi Cantt, New Delhi 110010, India 91-11-2614-6653 Think tank that studies Indian national security issues. Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies B-7/3 Lower Ground Floor, Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi 110029, India 91-11-4100-1900 Organization that researches South Asian security issues. National Bureau of Asian Research 1819 L St., N.W., Ninth Floor, Washington, DC 20036 202-347-9767 Research institution that studies strategic, political, economic and other issues affecting U.S. relations with Asia. World Bank 1818 H St., N.W., Washington, DC 20433 202-473-1000 International finance group that provides economic analysis and subsidized loans to developing countries. Footnotes [1] “India ‘WhatsApp child abduction rumours’: Five more lynched,” BBC (See video, “The India WhatsApp video driving people to murder), July 2, 2018,; Mattha Busby, “2,000-strong mob kill engineer over child kidnapping rumors in India’s latest lynching,” The Independent, July 16, 2018, [2] “The World Factbook: India,” Central Intelligence Agency,; “Poverty headcount ratio at national poverty lines (% of population),” World Bank, [3] “2018 India Staff Report,” Asia and Pacific Department, International Monetary Fund, Aug. 6, 2018, p. 5, [4] Poverty Calculation Net (povcalnet), World Bank, undated, The $1.90 figure is based on 2011 purchasing power parity. [5] “Crime is top domestic issue in India,” Global Attitudes and Trends, Pew Research Center, Nov. 13, 2017, [6] “Global Economic Prospects, Regional Outlook, South Asia,” The World Bank, 2018, [7] Geeta Anand and Hari Kumar, “Narendra Modi Bans India’s Largest Currency Bills in bid to Cut Corruption,” The New York Times, Nov. 8, 2016, [8] Vicky Anning, ed., “Case closed, problems persist,” Homeworkers Worldwide, India Committee of the Netherlands and Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations, June 2018, [9] Ravneet Ahluwalia, “Taj Mahal Dropped From Tourism Booklet By State Government,” The Independent, Oct. 3, 2017, [10] Ellen Barry and Suhasini Raj, “Firebrand Hindu Priest Ascends India’s Political Ladder,” The New York Times, July 12, 2017, [11] Press Trust of India, “India refuses to endorse China’s Belt and Road Initiative,” The Hindu, June 10, 2018, [12] Vanda Felbab-Brown, “Why Pakistan supports terrorist groups, and why the US finds it so hard to induce change,” Brookings Institution, Jan. 5, 2018, [13] Arthur Neslen, “India unveils global solar alliance of 120 countries at Paris climate summit,” The Guardian, Nov. 30, 2015, [14] Press Trust of India, “World Bank sees India as fastest growing economy for next 3 years,” The Mint, June 8, 2018, [15] Ibid. [16] Madhura Karnik, “600 million people are now part of India’s middle class — including your local carpenter,” Quartz, July 29, 2016, [17] Keith Breene, “6 Surprising Facts about India’s exploding middle class,” World Economic Forum, Nov. 7, 2016, [18] “Video Shows Clashes Of Indian, Chinese Soldiers At Ladakh,” YouTube, Aug. 19, 2017, [19] “India and China troops clash along Himalayan border,” BBC News, Aug. 16, 2017, [20] Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury, “There won’t be a war at Doklam as India and China agree to disengage,” The Economic Times, Aug. 29, 2017, [21] “Indo-Pacific Region Not a Club of Limited Members: Modi,” The Wire, June 2, 2018, [22] Ibid. [23] Amit Bhandari and Chandni Jindal, “Chinese Investments in India’s Neighbourhood,” Gateway House, March 12, 2018, [24] “India and Indonesia Agree Naval Cooperation at Sabang,” The Maritime Executive, May 30, 2018, [25] “India’s Modi calls for reform in speech to UN,” BBC News, Sept. 27, 2014, [26] Ibid. [27] Logan Nye, “The Top 10 Militaries of the World in 2017,”, Aug. 4, 2017, [28] “Election of five non-permanent members of the Security Council,” United Nations, undated, [29] Neelam Deo and Karan Pradhan, “Should India Give Up on the UN Security Council?” The Diplomat, Nov. 9, 2014, [30] Jeffrey Sachs, The End of Poverty (2005), p. 173. [31] Ken Moritsugu, “India Rising,” CQ Researcher, May 2007, pp. 101–124; Manmohan Singh, “Of Oxford, Economics, Empire and Freedom,” The Hindu, July 10, 2005, [32] Tariq Ali, The Nehrus and the Gandhis: An Indian Dynasty (2005), p. 87; Singh, op. cit. [33] Ali, ibid., pp. 93–101. [34] William Dalrymple, “The Great Divide: The violent legacy of Indian Partition,” The New Yorker, June 29, 2015, [35] Arvind Virmani, Propelling India from Socialist Stagnation to Global Power: Vol. I (2006), p. 43. [36] Moritsugu, op. cit. [37] Stephen P. Cohen, India: Emerging Power (2001), p. 41. [38] Moritsugu, op. cit. [39] Ali, op. cit., pp. 181–187. [40] Kamal Nath, address to the 79th general meeting of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Jan. 9, 2007. [41] Arvind Panagariya, “India in the 1980s and 1990s: A Triumph of Reforms,” p. 11, International Monetary Fund, March 2004, [42] “GNI per capita, Atlas method (current US$), 2018, The World Bank, 2018, [43] Strobe Talbott, Engaging India (2004), p. 52. [44] “GDP Growth Rate of India (Constant Prices) during 2001–02 to 2013–14,” Open Government Data Platform India,, Feb. 4, 2015, [45] “List of terrorist incidents in India,” Wikipedia, [46] Reetika Syal, “The UPA-II Report Card,” The Hindu, Oct. 18, 2016, [47] Priyamvada Gopal, “Narendra Modi’s Transformation From International Outcast to India’s Prime Minister,” The Nation, May 21, 2014, [48] “3 Years of Modi rule: FDI inflows jump to $60 billion in 2016–17 from $36 billion in 2013–14,” Financial Express, May 19, 2017, [49] Justin Lall, “Indians’ Life Satisfaction Goe

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