April 5, 2014: Two parties dominate India's political landscape: the Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, and the Indian National Congress. The BJP's prime minister candidate, Narendra Modi, is a controversial pro-business Hindu nationalist who currently serves as chief minister of the economically vibrant Gujarat state. Congress, on the other hand, is semi-socialist and one of the world's oldest political parties, currently in its fourth generation of Gandhi family leadership. India's elections, especially the potential for a Modi victory, will be watched with an eye toward reform. Regardless of the outcome, India's next leader will be constrained by India's geopolitical realities.
Feb. 11, 2014: The United States has once again found it prudent to engage the world's largest, albeit complex, democracy: India. The country's social media networks and news outlets were abuzz with the news Tuesday that U.S. Ambassador to India Nancy Powell has requested a meeting with Narendra Modi, the chief minister for Gujarat state. A simultaneously dynamic and divisive political figure, Modi has been no stranger to controversy since a wave of sectarian violence struck Gujarat in early 2002.
Oct. 9, 2013: India could offer the world an electoral drama next spring, with geopolitical repercussions for the whole Eurasian rimland. Narendra Modi, the charismatic chief minister of Gujarat in northwestern India, will likely run for prime minister against Rahul Gandhi, the great-grandson of the political forefather of India's modern republic, Jawaharlal Nehru. Modi has many enemies yet promises to shake things up in a country with vast potential but stuck in the economic and institutional doldrums. Gandhi, who has far less experience and is half-Italian, is actually the less-disruptive, more conservative choice.
Sept. 9, 2013: India's new Food Security Bill reflects not only the ongoing demographic challenges impeding India's rise in the region, but also New Delhi's constraints in moving away from costly populist policies. The embattled United Progressive Alliance government passed the bill, a $22 billion grain subsidization scheme, on Sept. 2, some eight months before Indians head to the polls for national elections in May 2014.
July 31, 2013: India is set to inaugurate its 29th state: Telangana will be carved out of the existing southern state of Andhra Pradesh after the highest working body of India's ruling Congress Party decided late July 30 to find the legal means to create the new entity. The success of the Telangana movement for statehood encapsulates the deep-rooted struggles New Delhi faces in trying to preserve and manage a nation riven with internal complexities.
July 23, 2013: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called a group of senior Cabinet members to his home late July 16 to work on one critical goal: convincing the world that India still deserves its status as an emerging economy and is thus worthy of billions of dollars of investment to sustain the country's economic growth. But India, like several other countries trying to cling to a decade-old reputation as promising, albeit high-maintenance, destinations for investment, is finding it increasingly difficult to cope with a global economic slowdown that has quickly and painfully rebranded the country as stagnant.
Nov. 6, 2012: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Oct. 28 reshuffled the Cabinet of his United Progressive Alliance government following the departure of the All India Trinamool Congress from the alliance Sept. 21. The Indian National Congress is responding to an alarming trend whereby India's historical two-party system is declining while the formation of smaller political parties among regional and minority interests is on the rise. The growing dependence on the support of increasingly independent minority parties could have serious implications for the Congress party's ability not only to pursue its ambitious economic and infrastructure reforms but also to stay relevant on the national stage.