Countryaah.com, India showed continued strong economic growth in
2018. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated that
the economy would grow by 7.3% and increase to 7.5% in 2019.
The IMF warned that growth could be threatened by high oil
prices and increased trade barriers.
Central Bank Governor Urjit Patel's unexpected departure
December 10 shook the currency and the Mumbai stock
exchange. He stated personal reasons, but some analysts felt
it was a protest against the government settling in the
independent central bank.
On Independence Day, August 15, Prime Minister Narendra
Modi highlighted India's increasingly important economic
role and noted that "the sleeping elephant" has awakened.
The speech was seen as the beginning of the election
campaign ahead of the 2019 election. One point in the speech
was about a new health insurance, called "Modicare". It is
targeted at 500 million poor people. Modi distributed the
first insurance cards in September at the launch in the
eastern state of Jharkhand. The recipients are entitled
annually to free care and treatment of serious illness for
the equivalent of SEK 60,000.
The Indian Medical Association questioned whether
appropriated amounts were enough to cover the cost of care.
Tens of thousands of health clinics will also be expanded.
Modi's Hindu Nationalist Party BJP (Indian People's
Party) returned in several state elections at the end of the
year. In three states in the so-called Hindi belt in the
north - Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and populous Madhya Pradesh
- the Congress party reaped success and strengthened the
prospect of challenging the BJP in the 2019 parliamentary
Air pollution was still a major problem. According to the
World Health Organization, there are 14 of the world's 15
most polluted cities in India. The list was topped by the
industrial city of Kanpur in the state of Uttar Pradesh. In
addition to industrial activities, the pollution is
attributed to emissions from traffic, dust from construction
activities, refuse collection and burning of straw in the
fields. In the capital New Delhi, every third child is
estimated to have reduced lung capacity or asthma.
Water was another concern. A state think tank NITI Aayog
reported in June that up to 200,000 people die each year as
a result of polluted water. About half of India's
population, 600 million, suffer from water shortages.
In October, Modi signed an agreement to buy the Russian
air defense system S-400 when Russian President Vladimir
Putin visited New Delhi. The deal was worth $ 5 billion.
One month earlier, US Defense and Foreign Ministers had
visited New Delhi. They agreed on closer military
cooperation and exercises, but no major agreements on arms
purchases were announced.
According to Stockholm International Peace Research
Institute SIPRI, India was the world's largest arms importer
in 2013-17, with 12% of the world's total imports. Most were
imported from the Russian Federation, but the US has grown
France signed an agreement with India in March on nuclear
technology and military cooperation when President Emmanuel
Macron visited New Delhi. The agreement gives the countries
access to each other's naval bases in the Indian Ocean
region. It was seen as a way to discourage China moving its
Chinese President Xi Jinping met Modi in April. In Wuhan
Chinese, they discussed how their military forces can avoid
dangerous confrontations. The issue came up in 2017 in the
disputed border area of Doklam or Donglang in the Himalayas,
which both China and Bhutan claim.
The UN Human Rights Council has criticized the security
forces in India and Pakistan for widespread violence in
disputed Kashmir since 2016. The UN Human Rights
Commissioner called for an international investigation.
India rejected the criticism.
Fire fighting across the Kashmir control line between
India and Pakistan demanded several casualties among
civilians and soldiers on both sides, as well as civilians
being escaped. An agreement to stop the shooting was signed
in May, but was broken. Likewise, Indian soldiers were
killed in fighting with suspected separatists.
The position of women and girls, as well as minorities,
was noted in several court cases. Hundreds of violent
protests erupted when conservative Hindu groups protested
that the Supreme Court gave women the right to visit the
famous Sabarimala temple in the state of Kerala. According
to the conservative Hindus, women of menstrual age are
Several rapes on young girls created headlines. A case in
the state of Kashmir, where an eight-year-old Muslim girl
was kidnapped and killed after being raped by a group of
Hindus, sparked protests. The government tried to respond to
the criticism for not responding to the sexual violence and
introduced a law that imposes the death penalty for rape on
children under the age of twelve. The lower house adopted
the law in July.
Deputy Foreign Minister MJ Akbar resigned in October
following allegations of fraud and sexual harassment. The
majority would have happened in the 1990s when he was
editor-in-chief of some of the country's leading newspapers.
Nearly 20 women came forward. Akbar denied and sued one of
the women for slander. He kept his place in the lower house.
In September, the Supreme Court abolished a more than
150-year-old ban on same-sex sexual relations. The country's
LGBT groups have long struggled to abolish the law.
Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, co-founder of
Modi's Hindu Nationalist Party BJP (Indian People's Party),
passed away at the age of 93 in August. He led several
governments between 1996 and 2004.