India. According to Countryaah.com, New Delhi is the capital city of India, a country located in Southern Asia. 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 elections.
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 in importance.
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 positions.
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 unclean.
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.