By Deepal Jayasekera, 14 June 2004
The new Indian government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh released its Common Minimum Program (CMP) late last month, aimed at further reassuring local and international capital of that its interests will be guaranteed over the next five years. The ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) offers an “abiding commitment to economic reforms,” adding that they should be applied “with a human face”.
By Kranti Kumara, 12 June 2004
Last month’s electoral rout of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government brought into sharp relief the enormous gulf that separates India’s ruling elite from the toiling masses. The BJP’s claim that India is “shining” appealed to an elite gone giddy over a foreign investment and stock market boom. But for hundreds of millions of workers and small farmers, the “India shining” propaganda only served to underscore the government’s callous indifference to their plight. That the electoral repudiation of the BJP and NDA was a rejection of the program of economic “liberalization”—privatization, deregulation and the dismantling of public and social services—that all Indian governments have pursued since 1991 was underscored by the devastating defeat suffered by the BJP’s ally in the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh (AP), the Telugu Desam Party (TDP).
By Deepal Jayasekera, 29 May 2004
The composition of the Indian council of ministers, sworn into office last Saturday, provides further confirmation that the Congress Party-led coalition government will maintain essentially the same right-wing policies at home and abroad as its predecessor.
By Deepal Jayasekera, 25 May 2004
When Manmohan Singh was sworn in as Indian prime minister last Saturday, there was no doubt that local big business and foreign investors had their man in the top job. Variously known as “the father of Indian economic reform”, “Mr Clean’s Mr Clean” and “India’s economic liberator”, Singh’s appointment was a guarantee to the markets that the new Congress Party-led coalition government would not hesitate in forging ahead with privatisation and economic restructuring.
A craven capitulation to big business and the Hindu right
By Keith Jones, 20 May 2004
The Indian and international press have almost universally hailed Sonia Gandhi’s decision to forego India’s prime ministership as a courageous act of self-sacrifice. In reality it was a craven capitulation. A capitulation to the Hindu supremacist right—the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had begun an agitation against the “humiliation” of a “foreign” prime minister. But even more fundamentally a capitulation to Indian and international capital.
As stock markets tumble
By Keith Jones, 18 May 2004
India’s election shock wave continues to reverberate, roiling the country’s stock markets and political elite.
Hindu supremacist BJP falls from power
By Keith Jones, 15 May 2004
To the shock of India’s entire political and economic establishment, the Hindu supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its National Democratic Alliance (NDA) coalition have been swept from office. Just hours after vote counting began Thursday morning, the BJP-led NDA conceded defeat in India’s 14th general election and by evening Atal Behari Vajpayee, the Prime Minister since 1998, had tendered his resignation.
By Nanda Wickremasinghe and Keith Jones, 13 May 2004
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) will back a bid by the Congress party to form a coalition government if India’s general election produces a hung parliament. The traditional governing party of India’s economic and political elite, the Congress, is an enthusiastic supporter of the Indian bourgeoisie’s “liberalization” agenda, which aims to make India a magnet for foreign capital through privatization, deregulation, cuts to social welfare programs, the dismantling of tariff protection for small farmers, and the gutting of worker rights.
By Parwini Zora and Daniel Woreck, 7 May 2004
An important component of the current election campaign waged by the ruling Hindu supremacist Bharathya Janatha Party (BJP) has been its “India Shining” advertising promotion, hailing the successes of the Indian economy and featuring the happy faces of contented and well-fed middle-class Indians.
By Keith Jones, 6 May 2004
The Bharatiya Janata Party, the dominant partner in India’s ruling National Democratic Alliance, has responded to a spate of unfavorable exit polls in India’s multi-phase general election by highlighting its Hindu supremacist agenda. Gujurat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Uma Bharti—infamous for their role in inciting anti-Muslim violence—have been given greater prominence in the BJP campaign, particularly in the pivotal state of Uttar Pradesh. Meanwhile, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the shadowy Hindu nationalist service organization and militia which provides the bulk of the BJP’s cadres, is said to have assumed direct control of the party’s campaign.
By Deepal Jayasekera, 23 April 2004
In the elections currently underway in India, the main opposition to the ruling Bharatiya Janatha Party (BJP) is the Indian National Congress: the traditional party of the national bourgeoisie with roots going back to the anti-colonial struggles of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Polls indicate race tightening
By Keith Jones, 22 April 2004
India’s general election, which is to be held in five phases ending May 10, began Tuesday with voters in 140 parliamentary constituencies spread over 13 states and 3 Union territories going to the polls.
By Kranti Kumara, 19 April 2004
India’s Election Commission has issued a show-cause notice to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the dominant partner in India’s ruling coalition, demanding it explain its role in an April 12 function at which 22 impoverished women and children were trampled to death. The deaths occurred during the free distribution of saris, the traditional garment of Indian women, at an event in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh—the electoral constituency of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. The event’s ostensible purpose was to celebrate the 70th birthday of Lalji Tandon, a senior BJP leader and Vajpayee’s prospective campaign manager.
By Kranti Kumara, 16 March 2004
The ruling elite and media in India have reacted with a mixture of dismay and anger to the spate of legislative activity in the United States aimed at banning overseas outsourcing or offshoring of government contracts. Several states, such as Colorado, Wisconsin, Indiana and Minnesota, have introduced legislation to ban the offshoring of such contracts. The latest was the recently passed US Senate bill banning private firms from outsourcing federal government contracts overseas. This measure, attached to a $328 billion omnibus appropriations bill, was sponsored by Ohio Republican Senator George Voinovich in a transparent attempt to bolster the Bush administration during an election year. Not to be outdone, Democrats have introduced a “Jobs for America Act” in the Senate that requires corporations to warn employees and communities before moving jobs overseas.
By Sarath Kumara, 10 March 2004
Nearly two years after anti-Muslim pogroms in the Indian state of Gujarat in 2002 claimed the lives of more than 2,000 men, women and children, the Indian Supreme Court has taken tentative steps to bring to some of the culprits to account.
By Sarath Kumara and Keith Jones, 4 March 2004
On the advice of India’s current government—the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA)—Indian President Abdul Kalam dissolved the country’s parliament February 6, eight months ahead of schedule. The independent election commission, which is responsible for determining the election schedule, has now announced that India’s 670 million voters will go to the polls in four voting-phases between April 20 and May 10. Full results are to be tabulated by May 13.
By Arun Kumar, 24 February 2004
More than 10 million employees of the central and state governments, various publicly-owned companies, and India’s financial institutions are expected to join a one-day national strike today, February 24, to protest against a Supreme Court ruling that public sector workers have no right to strike.
By Ram Kumar, 9 January 2004
A panel of judges has imposed severe penalties on hundreds of government employees in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu accused by the state government of misconduct during a statewide strike in July.
By Sarath Kumara, 11 December 2003
The Congress Party—the major opposition party in India at the national level—suffered serious reverses in four state elections held last week. It lost power in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, and only managed to retain office in the union territory of Delhi. The result provides a much-needed boost to the Hindu supremacist Bharathiya Janatha Party (BJP), which had lost a string of state polls and faces national elections next year.
By Sarath Kumara, 1 December 2003
Elections being held today in four northern Indian states—Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Delhi—will be an indication of the standing of the major political parties as they prepare to confront each other in national elections due to be held before next September. An election has already taken place in the northeastern state of Mizoram on November 20.
By Arun Kumar, 20 November 2003
In an unprecedented attack on the freedom of the press, the Legislative Assembly speaker in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu this month imposed 15-day jail terms on the main editorial staff of a leading Indian newspaper, the Hindu, for “breach of privilege” of the parliament. The decision is part of an escalating assault on democratic rights and workers’ conditions by the state government led by Chief Minister Jayaram Jayalalithaa.
A highly political decision
By S. Ram and K. Ratnayake, 20 October 2003
Eleven years after the destruction of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya by a Hindu chauvinist mob triggered communal riots across the Indian subcontinent, an Indian court has dismissed the remaining charges against one of the chief perpetrators—Lal Krishna Advani, deputy prime minister and a key figure in the ruling Hindu supremacist Bharathiya Janatha Party (BJP).
Sharon given red carpet welcome in New Delhi
By Kranti Kumara and Keith Jones, 25 September 2003
India’s coalition government, which is dominated by the Hindu supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), rolled out the red carpet for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon during a three-day official visit to India earlier this month, thus further solidarizing itself with Sharon’s ever-widening repression of the Palestinian people.
By Ganesh Dev and K. Ratnayake, 3 September 2003
The sacking of nearly 200,000 striking government workers in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu in early July has rapidly become the basis for a wholesale offensive against the democratic rights and social position of the working class throughout the country. This unprecedented attack has been upheld by the Tamil Nadu High Court and the Indian Supreme Court, widely hailed as a model by big business and in the media, and backed by the Bharatiya Janatha Party (BJP)-led government in New Delhi.
By Sarath Kumara, 1 September 2003
Two devastating bomb blasts in Bombay, India’s financial centre, last week claimed the lives of at least 52 people and injured more than 150. One exploded at the Zaveri Bazaar, the city’s jewelry district, near the Hindu Mumbadevi temple. The other blast took place near one of the city’s main tourist attractions—the Gateway of India—a British monument built during the colonial rule of India.
A travesty of justice:
By Sarath Kumara, 25 August 2003
The protracted legal proceedings over the anti-Muslim pogroms in the Indian state of Gujarat in March last year have exposed just how deeply the entire official establishment is mired in Hindu chauvinism.
By M. Kailasam, 17 July 2003
Unions covering teachers and government employees in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu last weekend called off an 11-day public sector strike and appealed to the state government for unconditional talks after the government sacked more than 200,000 of the 1.3 million striking workers.
Women victims of lack of safety standards
By Kranti Kumara, 8 July 2003
Within the past year, seven young women near the of city of Pondicherry in southern India have lost their lives due to silicosis—an occupational lung-disease caused by inhalation of silica, a raw material used in glass manufacturing.
By K. Ratnayake, 30 June 2003
India is under pressure from the Bush administration to make a substantial commitment of troops to assist in shoring up the US occupation of Iraq. As US troops come under hostile fire, Washington is eager for other countries to join the so-called stabilisation force in Iraq, both to bear the burden of suppressing the growing resistance and to provide a veneer of international support.
By R. Shree Haran, 9 June 2003
A severe heat wave has killed more than 1,200 people over the past three weeks in India with more than 1,065 deaths recorded in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. Women, children and the elderly are among the dead. According to media reports, police have found several bodies on the roadside, including along the route to Hyderabad, the state capital.
By K. Ratnayake, 2 May 2003
After a series of menacing threats against Pakistan beginning in late March, the Indian government carried out what appeared to be an abrupt about-face in mid-April, extending an offer for talks to its counterparts in Islamabad.
By Wije Dias, 25 March 2003
The Indian government has made the most muted of criticisms of Washington’s unilateral decision to launch war against Iraq. After a meeting between Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and senior ministers last Thursday, an official statement cautiously declared that “the military action lacks justification” and was “avoidable”.
By our correspondents, 20 March 2003
A growing number of antiwar protests are taking place in India—large and small. More than 10,000 marched in the city of Hyderabad, capital of the southern state of Andra Pradesh, on March 9. The following day 3,000 young people, workers, intellectuals and small traders participated in a demonstration and rally in central Madras. On March 17, thousands protested in Calcutta.
By Ganesh Dev and Arun Kumar, 5 March 2003
As part of the worldwide opposition to a US war on Iraq, protests are growing in India. Two rallies took place last week in the south of India—in Madras, the state capital of Tamil Nadu, and Bangalore, a major industrial city in Karnataka.
By Deepal Jayasekera, 4 February 2003
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) came to power, in coalition with the Congress Party, in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir in November last year. It substantially increased its vote in the poll at the expense the long dominant National Conference Party by promising “a healing touch” to resolve the protracted armed conflict in Kashmir.
By Vilani Peiris, 1 February 2003
Just months after India and Pakistan withdrew troops massed along their mutual border, tensions between the two countries are again rising. What began as a war of words over nuclear threats has escalated into missile sabre-rattling, tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions and the renewal of shelling exchanges in Kashmir.
By K. Nesan, 28 December 2002
In a sharp electoral turnaround, the Hindu chauvinist Bharathiya Janatha Party (BJP) won the December 12 election in the western Indian state of Gujarat, setting the stage for further communal violence throughout the country. BJP state leader Narendra Modi pushed for an early poll following anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat earlier in the year and deliberately inflamed communal tensions in the course of the campaign to divert attention from the failure of his administration’s social and economic policies.
By Deepal Jayasekera, 5 November 2002
After two weeks of deadlock, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Congress Party last week finally sealed a coalition deal to form a new government in Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The National Conference (NC), which held power in the state for most of the past 50 years, lost its parliamentary majority in elections concluded last month.
By Deepal Jayasekera, 22 October 2002
Recent elections in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir have resulted in a decisive defeat for the National Conference (NC), which has held power for most of the past five decades. Party leader Omar Abdullah, whose grandfather Sheikh Abdullah founded the NC and was considered likely to take over from his father Farooq Abdullah as the state’s chief minister, lost his seat in the state’s summer capital of Srinagar.
By Sarath Kumara, 8 October 2002
A September 24 attack on a Hindu temple in the western Indian state of Gujarat, in which at least 42 people were killed, has inflamed communalist tensions and re-kindled the conflict between India and Pakistan. The two countries are continuing a military standoff over the disputed territory of Kashmir.
By Deepal Jayasekera and James Conachy, 7 October 2002
Elections in India’s border state of Jammu and Kashmir have seen ordinary people caught between a large and intimidating Indian military presence on the one hand, and bloody violence by Kashmiri separatists and pro-Pakistani groups seeking to disrupt the voting on the other. More than 600 people have been killed since campaigning began in late August.
By Arun Kumar, 24 September 2002
The Indian rail system has experienced another major rail disaster. On September 9, the Howrah-New Delhi Rajdhani Express—a luxury, high-speed train—derailed while crossing a bridge in the Aurangabad district of the northern state of Bihar and plunged into the Dhawa River. At the latest count, 129 of the 600 passengers and rail staff on board were killed and another 200 were injured.
By Priyadarshana Maddewatte, 12 September 2002
The Indian government has suffered a setback in its bid to reduce the charges against the former Union Carbide chief executive officer Warren Anderson, over the 1984 chemical disaster at the US company’s pesticide plant in Bhopal that claimed thousands of lives.
By Sarath Kumara, 9 September 2002
India’s Supreme Court last week upheld the national Election Commission’s decision to reject calls by the Bharathiya Janatha Party (BJP) for early elections in the state of Gujarat. The BJP, which holds power in Gujarat and at the national level, has been pushing for an early poll in order to capitalise on the divisive communal atmosphere created by anti-Muslim riots earlier in the year.
By Daniel Woreck and Parwini Zora, 6 September 2002
The Bangalore based Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) announced last month that it is pressing ahead with plans to send an unmanned space probe to the moon within the next five years. ISRO’s lunar mission task force has sent a report to the government outlining the project and its cost, estimated at $US82.5 million and arguing that the moon probe should proceed.
By Deepal Jayasekera, 6 August 2002
India formally announced last week that elections for the state of Jammu and Kashmir will be held in stages during September and early October. While the state and national governments are attempting to present the poll as an exercise in democracy, the process simply highlights the repressive nature of Indian rule of the Muslim-majority state where at least 35,000 people have died in a decade-long insurgency.
By K. Nesan, 31 July 2002
A series of incidents over the last two months involving the harassment of journalists all point to the fact that the Indian government of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee is attempting to intimidate and muzzle its critics in the media. In themselves, the cases appear to be quite different. Taken together, however, they reveal the determination of the Hindu chauvinists in the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to stamp out criticism and to impose their own views on the press.
By our correspondents, 30 July 2002
Over the past six months, India and Pakistan have been engaged in a dangerous military confrontation involving one million troops backed by armour, artillery, missiles and warplanes. In both countries, the governments and the media have continued a barrage of chauvinist propaganda aimed at justifying the provocative stance taken by the nuclear-armed powers.
By K. Ratnayake, 23 July 2002
In response to a growing crisis within India’s ruling Bharathiya Janatha Party (BJP), Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee carried out his seventh cabinet reshuffle in early July. But far from resolving the political problems confronting the government, the new ministerial lineup is likely to heighten them.
By K. Nesan, 16 July 2002
Almost four months after extensive violence broke out against Muslims in the Indian state of Gujarat, the Bharatiya Janatha Party (BJP)-led state government continues to stoke communal tensions in a bid to shore up its flagging support.
By R. Shree Haran, 13 July 2002
Early monsoonal rains have caused devastating floods in a number of areas of India over the past month. More than one million people have been affected—many have been cut off by floodwaters or made homeless. According to government officials, the death toll stood at 199 as of July 10. But there are fears that hunger and disease will spread among refugees who lack access to food, clean water and proper accommodation.
By R. Shree Haran, 22 May 2002
A severe heat wave in India has killed at least 734 people over the past fortnight—666 of them in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. Most of the victims were poor—small farmers, elderly people, rickshaw pullers and street vendors—who succumbed to heatstroke and dehydration in temperatures that reached 49 degrees Celsius.
By Joseph Kay, 8 May 2002
A report released in late April by Human Rights Watch is a clear exposure of the role played by the police and the government in the communal violence that plagued India in late February and early March. The large-scale slaughter of mostly Muslim residents of the western state of Gujarat was made possible through the active participation of the BJP-controlled state apparatus with the connivance of the federal government. Hundreds of people have died and new cases of communal murder continue to be reported throughout the country.
By K. Ratnayake, 6 May 2002
The Indian government of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee last week defeated an opposition censure motion in the Lok Sabha (lower house) over its handling of continuing anti-Muslim violence in the state of Gujarat. But the vote revealed widening cracks within the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and put a large question mark over its future.
By Deepal Jayasekara, 24 April 2002
A one-day national general strike brought much of India to a standstill on April 16 as 10 million workers demonstrated their opposition to government plans for further privatisation and changes to the country’s labour laws to facilitate retrenchments. The strike was the largest ever industrial action against the program of market reform and reflects a deepening hostility among broader layers of working people to the government of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.
By Arun Kumar and Sarath Kumara, 23 April 2002
Communal violence has continued unabated for nearly two months in the western Indian state of Gujarat, actively fuelled by Hindu extremist organisations and abetted by the Bharathiya Janatha Party (BJP)-led state government. Hundreds of people have now been killed as Hindu mobs roam the streets of the state capital Ahmedabad and other towns attacking Muslims and burning homes and shops.
By Deepal Jayasekera, 9 April 2002
Under the pretext of “fighting terrorism,” the Indian government of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee pushed a battery of anti-democratic laws—the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO)—through a special joint session of parliament on March 26.
By Ram Kumar, 2 April 2002
The decision by trade union leaders in the southern Indian state of Kerala to shut down a 32-day strike by more than half a million state government employees and teachers has given the green light for the state government headed by Chief Minister A.K. Anthony to press ahead with its far-reaching austerity measures.
By K. Ratnayake, 30 March 2002
The ongoing campaign by the communalist Vishva Hindu Parshad (VHP) to build a temple to the Hindu god Ram in Ayodhya has thrown India’s ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) into disarray. While Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee secured a deal at a crisis meeting of coalition members on March 22, the future of his fragile government is by no means certain.
By Keith Jones, 5 March 2002
There is compelling evidence that leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the dominant force in India’s coalition government, abetted the anti-Muslim riots that convulsed the western state of Gujarat last week.
By Sarath Kumara, 4 March 2002
The Bharathiya Janatha Party (BJP), the major partner in India’s ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA), has suffered heavy defeats in recent state assembly elections. The party lost control of all four states, including Uttar Pradesh, which has been regarded as one of its strongholds. The losses are certain to provoke bitter recriminations within the BJP and to further exacerbate tensions with its 23 allies in the ruling NDA coalition.
By Sarath Kumara, 12 February 2002
The World Hindu Council (VHP), a Hindu extremist group connected to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is pressing ahead with plans to construct a temple to the Hindu god Ram in the northern Indian city of Ayodhya. The VHP insists on building the temple on the site of the Babri Masjid (mosque), which was torn down by Hindu fanatics in 1992. The campaign threatens to fan religious communalism in the region right at the point when India and Pakistan are engaged in a tense military standoff.
By Ram Kumar, 24 November 2001
The Tamil Nadu state government in south India has resorted to all means possible to break a two-week statewide strike of 125,000 bus workers, which it had provoked by slashing this year’s Deepavali Festival bonus. Having cut the bonus from 20 percent of annual salary (6,000 rupees or $US125) to 8.33 percent, Chief Minister Paneerselvam has threatened to sack strikers, warning of “disciplinary action”.
By K. Nesan, 8 November 2001
The Indian government has exploited the US-led “war on terrorism” to introduce far-reaching anti-democratic measures that were previously blocked in parliament. On October 25, it promulgated the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO) without any parliamentary vote.
By K. Nesan, 31 October 2001
The Indian government’s ban on the Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) in late September and subsequent police crackdown on its members is a further indication that the ruling Bharathya Janatha Party (BJP)-led coalition is intent on exploiting the war in Afghanistan to stir up communalism and restrict democratic rights.
In the name of America’s "war on terrorism"
By Keith Jones, 20 September 2001
India’s National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government rushed to declare its readiness to join a US-led coalition against global terrorism. Much of India’s political elite was positively euphoric, for it saw the crisis triggered by last week’s terrorist attacks as providing India a double opportunity. By rallying in support of the US and encouraging a backlash against Islamic fundamentalism, India could cement a new Indo-American “strategic partnership” while stigmatizing its historic rival Pakistan as a “terrorist state.” Some officials of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)—the right-wing Hindu nationalist party that leads the NDA—spoke privately of an emerging US-Indian-Israeli axis against “Islamic terrorism.”
By Ram Kumar, 16 August 2001
A High Court decision in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh in late April speaks volumes about the way in which the Indian education system and society as a whole is being subjected to the nationalist prejudices and backward superstitions of Hindu extremists under the current Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government.
By Deepal Jayasekara, 27 July 2001
At least 90 people are dead and an estimated 8 million have been displaced in the heaviest flooding for 50 years in the eastern Indian state of Orissa. Twenty-four of the state’s 30 districts have been affected. The same areas had yet to recover from a devastating cyclone less than two years ago that claimed over 10,000 lives.
By Amanda Hitchcock, 4 July 2001
May 27: Young housewife burnt alive for dowry
By Deepal Jayasekera, 27 June 2001
Another tragic rail disaster has taken place in India—the product of deteriorating infrastructure, inadequate budgets, official indifference and a social system that puts profit before the lives of people.
By Nanda Wickremasinghe, 8 June 2001
The collapse last month of a protracted strike against the privatisation of the Bharath Aluminium Company (Balco) is being hailed in the media and by big business as a green light for the Indian government to press ahead with the sell-off of major state-owned industries.
By Nanda Wickramasinghe, 29 May 2001
In elections held on May 10 in four Indian states and one union territory, the Bharathiya Janatha Party (BJP) and its partners in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) lost badly. The defeat is already raising tensions in the ruling coalition, which has held power at the national level for three years.
By Peter Symonds, 16 May 2001
The Bush administration's campaign to win international support for its plan for a national missile defence (NMD) program has produced at least one highly significant shift in strategic relations.
By Deepal Jayasekera, 11 May 2001
A one-day general strike or bandh that paralysed the Indian commercial and industrial city of Bombay on April 25 raises important political issues for the working class.
By Deepal Jayasekera, 4 May 2001
AIDS is rapidly becoming a major health crisis in India, which the government is only beginning to address in a limited fashion. The real extent of the disease and its impact are not known but various estimates put the number of deaths a year in the six-digit realm. The World Health Organisation (WHO) publication Epidemiological Fact Sheet on HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections (2000 update) estimated that a staggering 310,000 adults and children died of AIDS during 1999.
Dulal Bose, 1918-2001
By Nanda Wickramasinghe, 31 March 2001
Veteran Trotskyist Dulal Bose died in Calcutta on March 21 at the age of 82. He joined the Trotskyist movement in 1939 as a young man, fought tenaciously for its program in the Indian working class and remained committed to its principles throughout his entire adult life. In 1991, he joined the Socialist Labour League in India, which is in solidarity with the International Committee of the Fourth International, and devoted the last decade of his life to translating the works of Leon Trotsky into Bengali.
By Sarath Kumara, 24 March 2001
The Indian government of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has been plunged into a major political crisis following revelations last week by the Internet site, Tehelka, of high-level graft in the country's procurement of arms. Defence Minister George Fernandes, whose Samata Party is an important component of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA), has been forced to resign. Samata Party president Jaya Jaitly has quit, as has Bangaru Laxman, president of the Bharathiya Janatha Party (BJP), the leading party in the NDA.
By Deepal Jayasekera, 16 March 2001
India's Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha brought down a national budget on February 28 containing a raft of economic “reforms” that will significantly intensify the social crisis confronting millions of people throughout the country. The budget will cut public spending, slash agricultural subsidies, implement further privatisations and introduce changes to India's labour laws that will lead to a fresh round of sackings. At the same time, it will offer a raft of new financial incentives to foreign investors.
By Nanda Wickremasinghe, 22 February 2001
In the leadup to state elections in May, opposition politicians in West Bengal are stepping up pressure on the Indian government to intervene directly against the Left Front state government led by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), which has held power for the past 24 years.
By Deepal Jayasekera, 6 February 2001
As the toll of death and destruction continues to mount following the devastating earthquake in western India on January 26, there is growing public criticism of the shoddy construction that caused widespread building collapses and of the inadequacy of government rescue and relief efforts.
7,200 confirmed dead, 500,000 homeless
By Terry Cook, 2 February 2001
The international response to the earthquake that struck the western Indian state of Gujarat on January 26, causing widespread devastation and loss of life, has once again highlighted the callous indifference of Western governments to the plight of disaster victims, particularly in so-called developing countries.
By Peter Symonds, 27 January 2001
By official estimates, at least 2,000 people are dead after India's most powerful earthquake in 50 years hit the western state of Gujarat on Friday morning. The toll is expected to rise further as rescuers search for thousands of people trapped in the rubble of fallen buildings. More than 3,000 people have been injured and many others left homeless.
Rundown and inadequate infrastructure
By Sarath Kumara, 9 January 2001
Virtually all of northern India was blacked out on January 2 for about 12 hours after the failure of a substation in Uttar Pradesh triggered the collapse of the country's northern grid. Essential services, businesses, transport and domestic supplies ground to a halt in the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, the territory of Chandigarh and the capital New Delhi.
India declares unilateral ceasefire
By Sarath Kumara, 12 December 2000
Moves are once again being made to initiate talks to end the armed conflict in Kashmir and find a settlement to the disputes that have triggered two of the three wars between Pakistan and India since independence in 1947.
By Deepal Jayasekera, 11 December 2000
At least 44 people are dead and 140 injured, many critically, after a rail collision at Sarai Banjara, 200 km north of the Indian capital New Delhi in the early morning of December 2. The accident occurred when the Howra Mail, travelling from Calcutta to Amritsar, rammed into a Delhi-bound freight train that had been derailed five minutes earlier.
By Sarath Kumar, 25 November 2000
The visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to India in early October has underscored just how fluid and unstable economic, political and strategic relationships on the Indian subcontinent have become following the end of the Cold War.
By Terry Cook, 23 November 2000
Thousands of industrial workers, workshop owners and their supporters took to the streets of the Indian capital of New Delhi this week to protest against moves to close down thousands of small factories in accordance with a Supreme Court anti-pollution order.
By Mike Head, 8 November 2000
It is now six weeks since the Indonesian Supreme Court found Tommy Suharto, the youngest son of the former president, guilty of corruption and sentenced him to 18 months in jail. Efforts by the government of President Abdurrahman Wahid to arrest him have proven to be problematic, however.
Market reforms fuel regional divisions
By Ganesh Dev, 20 October 2000
Three new states will come into existence in India on November 1. Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttaranchal are to be carved out of the larger states of Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh respectively. The legislation to create these new entities, the first in 30 years, was pushed through the upper and lower houses of the Indian national parliament in August in a matter of days.
Indian prime minister's trip to the US: another sign of closer ties between Washington and New Delhi
By Sarath Kumara and K. Nesan, 13 October 2000
Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's 10-day trip to the US last month marks another step toward cementing closer economic and strategic ties between the two countries following the signing of a joint “vision statement” during US President Clinton's visit to South Asia in March.
By our correspondents, 9 October 2000
India's Bharatiya Janatha Party (BJP)-led government has again intervened to impose its communalist agenda in the field of art. During August culture ministry officials demanded the withdrawal of a painting from an exhibition at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) in New Delhi, the country's premier contemporary art gallery.
By Vilani Peiris, 3 October 2000
Food riots erupted last week in flood-affected areas of West Bengal as millions of people have been left homeless by the worst floods in 22 years. Many lack food, clean water, shelter and basic medicines as the central Indian government quarrels over who should provide aid. Clashes have also been reported in the flood-affected state of Bihar.
25 September 2000
Students at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) at Pune in Madras, in western India, have contacted the World Socialist Web Site to draw attention to the campaign they are waging against fee hikes and a major run-down in course training and artistic content at the prestigious school.
Privatisation of culture: the issues involved in the Film and Television Institute of India student strike
By T. Kalyanaraman, 22 September 2000
The author, based in Chennai (Madras), is the Regional Secretary of the Southern Region of the Federation of Film Societies of India. The following article originally appeared on the web site of the FFSI [http://www.ifson.org].
By Deepal Jayasekera, 20 September 2000
A three-day old strike by over 300,000 Indian telecom workers was called off last Friday night by the leaders of the National Federation of Telecom Employees and the Federation of National Telecom Organisations after they struck a deal with Communication Minister Ram Vials Aswan.
By Ram Kumar and Arun Kumar, 11 September 2000
For over a month the kidnapping of veteran actor Rajkumar and three of his associates by the smuggler and bandit Veerappan has been a major issue in the Indian newspapers. The governments of two southern Indian states—Karnataka and Tamil Nadu—have been engaged in negotiations with Veerappan, who wants a substantial sum of money and has also made a series of political demands.
By our reporter, 28 August 2000
Bal Thackery, the leader of the Hindu chauvinist party Shivasena, has been cleared of all charges. He was formally arrested on July 25 and charged with inciting the nationwide communal violence that lasted from December, 1992 to January, 1993, following the demolition of the seventeenth century Babri mosque. As a result of these riots, more than 2,000 Muslims were massacred by Hindu fanatics, most of whom were members of Shivasena.
"A terrible violation of basic rights"
By Richard Phillips, 22 August 2000
As regular readers of the World Socialist Web Site will be aware, Hindu fundamentalists stopped production of Deepa Mehta's film Water in India last February, working with the tacit or open support of the Bharatiya Janatha Party (BJP), the main party in India's National Democratic Alliance government and the party in power in Uttar Pradesh.
By Deepal Jayasekera, 14 August 2000
Continuing its year-long intervention into the Kashmir crisis, the United States administration has called on the Indian government and Kashmir separatists to resume their first-ever official talks, despite last week's ceasefire breakdown and a serious car bomb blast in Srinagar, the summer capital of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.
By Sarath Kumara, 24 July 2000
An Indian Airlines Boeing 737 crashed into a government housing estate in Patna, capital of the eastern Indian state of Bihar, on July 17, killing 57 people, including six residents, and wounding dozens more. This tragic incident has once again highlighted the decay of Indian infrastructure, including safety controls. Over the past 15 years more than 1,000 people have lost their lives in major air disasters.