India may be the second largest state in population size, but it’s the largest democracy in the world.
India became independent in 1947, electing its first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. Nehru is the founder of the Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty, including his daughter, Indira Gandhi, the third prime minister of India, and grandfather to Rajiv Gandhi, the sixth.
Even though the days of India staying true to Nehru’s conception of a socialist, democratic India have been traded for liberalized markets, a surge in growth, corruption and relative poverty, there is hope for the future, both in the young idealistic Rajiv Gandhi and the democratic elements of the Maoists and populists at the state level.
India is now in an election cycle with the elections. One favored to be India’s next PM is Rahul Gandhi. Rahul is the Congress Party’s candidate, while the opposition’s candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party is Narendra Modi.
Modi has a perceived lead in the polls due to the Congress party having multiple scandals break, high inflation, and a slowing economy while they have been power for the past few years.
But this election will be a decision of who is less worse because the BJP, a hindu nationalist party, has a disdain for the Muslim minority and Modi himself did not do nearly enough to stop the most violent anti-muslim riots in India’s history in 2002.
Arvind Kejriwal of the Aam Aadmi Party recently announced he would be running. The issue with Kejriwal is not that he’s corrupt or anti-Muslim, rather he will gain a large percentage of the Muslim vote and will likely not win the election, only splitting the power within the Parliament.
Nehru helped mould the constitution and build the framework of modern India. When you look at India today it’s hard to see any remnants of his mark on India with abject poverty in much of the country, high illiteracy, and free market liberalization that took place in the 1990’s.
Instead, you do find a large movement in the east of India, the Naxalite Movement. The Naxalite Movement is a grass roots movement that has their support in the rural areas of India, specifically the poor and the indigenous of eastern India.
The Naxalites are Maoists who seek agrarian reform and an agrarian-Maoist revolution in India. They control a corridor, termed the ‘red corridor’ that spans from the northern state of Bihar to the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.
The Naxalites are in a bitter war with the Indian state, from time to time attacking police, military, and state representatives. But there is also a peaceful contingent of the Maoists, those who ruled the state of West Bengal for more than three decades until a recent populist unseated them.