India. In February/March, a new election was held for
Parliament. The Hindu Nationalist Indian People's Party, the
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was able to form government
together with a dozen smaller parties, but only after
difficult negotiations. Several of the coalition parties had
their own ambitions, which were as strong as the desire to
cooperate within the government. New Prime Minister Atal
Bihari Vajpayee soon had trouble with the biggest coalition
partner, the Tamil party AIADMK (All-India Anna Dravida
Munnetra Kazhagam), whose leader Jayalalitha Jayaram
repeatedly threatened to leave the government if she did not
meet specific requirements.
Countryaah, the Congress Party, All India Congress Committe (I), made
a better election than 1996, which was partly attributed to
Italian-born Sonia Gandhi, widow of former Prime Minister
Rajiv Gandhi, who for the first time was openly involved in
the party work during the election campaign. In April she
was appointed party leader after the aged Sitaram Kesri.
In May, the country conducted five underground nuclear
test blasts. The tests caused strong concern about the
proliferation of nuclear weapons technology into unstable
regions, a concern that escalated after Pakistan's test
blasts at the end of the month. A number of countries and
institutions with the United States in the lead exposed
and Pakistan to financial sanctions for persuading them to
sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (CTBT) and the
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The sanctions were
estimated to cost India $ 2 billion. Sweden interrupted its
assistance to India. Within the country, nuclear tests first
triggered strong patriotism, but after the Pakistani blasts,
the opposition criticized the government for provoking a
nuclear weapons armament.
In the divided Kashmir, the tension increased during the
summer. Hundreds of people, most of them civilians, were
killed in artillery battles across the station line. During
the autumn, however, a series of talks at the State
Secretary level were held between the two countries. The
talks gave no concrete results but contributed to some
Discouragement over I's deteriorating international
status increased after the BJP government's first budget,
described as protectionist. Defense spending increased by
14% and import duties increased by 8%, a figure that the
government was forced to halve after protests from the
business community. New government bonds, especially aimed
at Indians living abroad, would counteract the consequences
of the world's financial sanctions. The rupee's rapid fall
in the fall and drastic price increases on basic foods
diminished the government's popularity. The Congress party
had great successes in the state elections in November,
while the BJP declined strongly.
According to a report by the aid organization Christian
Aid in May 2005, the fierce liberalization policy has led to
a crisis in agriculture, a rising debt in the countryside
and a widespread wave of suicides among poor small farmers.
In the state of Andhra Pradesh alone, 4,000 small farmers
have committed suicide, their liberalizations accelerated.
Thousands died in Kashmir as a result of the October 2005
earthquake in Pakistan. In the Indian part alone 1000 died,
3000 were wounded and thousands of houses were reduced to
ruins. In the affected areas, resentment towards the
government grew as a result of the frugal and deficient
relief of the Indian government. Emergency relief work was
predominantly coordinated and carried out by the military.
At least 55 were killed and another 100 injured in late
October following bomb attacks against 3 markets in New
Delhi. Attacks that were characterized by Prime Minister
Singh as terrorism. The attacks took place in two Hindu and
Muslim festivals - the Hindu festival of light, Dwali and
the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. The first
attack took place in the populous Paharganj market in
downtown New Delhi; the next on the Sarojini Nagar market in
southern Delhi, which is popular with middle-class and
foreign tourists; the third in the Govindpuri market, also
located in the southern part of the city.
After 30 years of sanctions and 2 years of negotiations,
the US and India signed a cooperation agreement in July on
the use of nuclear energy for civilian purposes. Acc. New
Delhi, the country has "no reason to increase its nuclear
arsenal". In October 2008, India and the United States
signed a new nuclear power supply agreement, while giving
India the IAEA access to inspect its civilian nuclear
installations. However, India has still not signed the
Non-Proliferation Agreement (NPT).
After a dirty election campaign marked by personal
attacks, the Congress party's Prathiba Patil beat the
incumbent vice-president and leader of the nationalist Hindu
party Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, thus becoming the country's
first female president. Despite her deep faith, Patil is a
symbol of the secular in India, and her political life has
been marked by efforts in the social sphere and especially
the conditions of the poorest caste.
India-China relations improved rapidly from 2006. In
November, Chinese President Hu Jintao visited India and the
same year Nathula opened the pass between the two countries
after being closed for 40 years. In January 2008, Prime
Minister Singh visited China. In 2010, China became India's
second largest trading partner.
India has also strengthened relations with Afghanistan
and is now one of the country's largest aid providers. In
August 2008, Afghan President Hamid Karzai visited, and
India then took the opportunity to increase its assistance
in building schools, roads and health clinics. India wants
closer relations with Afghanistan to weaken Pakistan's
influence and to stave off a return for the Taliban that
will not give India the same influence.
At the same time, India has built closer relations with
Israel characterized by mutual investment. At the same time,
Israel has increased its military exports to India, so it is
now close to catching up with Russia, which remains India's
most important military equipment supplier.
At the same time, India is also aiming for a close
relationship with Iran, continuing negotiations on an oil
pipeline from Iran through Pakistan to India.