• 14 June 2024

Evolution of Indian Politics: A Comparative journey from Independence to Contemporary times

Jan 25, 2024

The journey of Indian politics from Independence to the present day is like a story with many chapters. It began when India gained freedom from British rule in 1947 and witnessed significant changes over the years. The political landscape experienced different phases, including the leadership of stalwarts like Jawaharlal Nehru, the challenges during the Emergency period, and economic reforms. As we delve into the evolution of Indian politics, we’ll explore the transition to coalition governments, the rise of leaders like Narendra Modi, and contemporary issues like the farm reform laws. This journey reflects India’s growth as a democratic nation facing diverse challenges and making strides in global politics.

Post-Independence Landscape (1947-1950s)

  • Partition and Independence (1947): India and Pakistan gained independence.
  • Constitutional Framework (1950): State-managed education; Union set higher education standards.
  • Planning Commission Initiatives (1950s Onward):
    • Set up in 1950 for national development.
    • Five-year plans focused on universal elementary education.
  • Educational Reforms Commissions (1949-1966):
    • University Education Commission (1949): Recommended changes.
    • Secondary Education Commission (1952–53): Focused on teachers.
    • Education Commission (1964–66): Led to the 1968 national policy.
  • National Policy for Education (1968 and 1986): Introduced core curriculum, stressed tech, ethics, and integration.
  • Central Advisory Board of Education: Advised national and state governments.
  • Autonomous Bodies and Councils:
    • Advised on technical education (AICTE – 1945).
    • Coordinated university education (UGC – 1953).
    • Improved school education quality (NCERT – 1961).
  • Central Schools and Vidyalayas:
    • Govt ran 1,000 central schools, promoting quality education.
    • Seventh five-year plan (1985–90) aimed at a Vidyalaya in each district.
  • Growth of Educational Institutions (1950s-1980s):
    • Several institutions tripled.
    • The rapid growth of primary schools focused on universalization.
  • Challenges and Dissensions (1980s):
    • Understaffed primary schools, politicization of education.
    • Hindered progress in implementing policies and reforms.

Nehruvian Era and Early Challenges (1950s-1960s)

Pic Credit-The Wire
  • Timeline: 1947-1964, Jawaharlal Nehru’s tenure as India’s first Prime Minister.
  • Significance: Indian modernization and development initiation.
  • Features: Democracy, socialism, secularism, science promotion, mixed economy.
  • Foreign Policy: Non-alignment, global cooperation, Non-Aligned Movement.
  • Economic Policies: Mixed economy, state control, land redistribution, industrialization.
  • Social Initiatives: Malnutrition prevention, caste system elimination, Hindu Civil Code reform.
  • Impact on Indian Politics: Congress dominance, reforms, Children’s Day establishment.
  • Challenges: China crisis of 1962, economic critiques.
  • Legacy: Democratic institutions, socioeconomic progress, global recognition.
  • Non-Aligned Movement: Initiated in 1950, emphasized independence in global affairs.
  • Foreign Policy Principles: Close ties, non-alignment, resistance to injustice or aggression.

Indira Gandhi’s Leadership (1966-1977)

  • 1966-1977 Leadership:
    • Steered India towards a self-reliant economy.
    • Key role in India’s victory in the 1971 war against Pakistan.
  • Achievements and Controversies:
    • Achievements include economic growth and foreign policy success.
    • Controversial state of emergency and suspension of civil liberties in 1975.
  • Policy Implementations:
    • Implemented policies for economic growth, social justice, and secularism.
    • Continued socialist foundation laid by Nehru and Gandhi.
  • International Engagement:
    • Engaged with international forums for foreign policy objectives.
    • Contributed to global cooperation, peace, and decolonization.
  • Political Impact:
    • Crucial role in shaping India’s political landscape.
    • Contributions to economic and social development are remembered and studied today.

Sikh Riots and Rajiv Gandhi’s Era (1980s-1990s)

Pic Credit-The Economic Times
  • 1984 Anti-Sikh Riots:
    • Followed the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
    • Thousands of Sikhs were killed, a dark chapter in Indian history.
  • Rajiv Gandhi’s Leadership (1984-1989):
    • Succeeded Indira Gandhi as Prime Minister.
    • Achievements include economic and technological reforms.
  • Controversies During Rajiv Gandhi’s Tenure:
    • Bofors scandal and involvement in the Sri Lankan Civil War.
  • Political Changes (1980s-1990s):
    • Rise of new political parties, including BJP and BSP.
    • The emergence of leaders like Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Mayawati.
  • Period of Change and Upheaval:
    • Significant events shaped Indian politics in the 1980s and 1990s.
    • Transformational period with the emergence of new leaders and parties.
  • Bofors Scandal (1989):
    • Allegations of kickbacks in the purchase of Bofors howitzers.
    • Damaged the reputation of then-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
    • Contributed to the electoral defeat of the Congress party in 1989.
  • Coalition Politics (1989-1990):
    • Breakdown of Congress majority; the emergence of coalition politics.
    • Janata Dal-led National Front formed the government with outside support.
    • Vishwanath Pratap Singh became the Prime Minister in December 1989.
    • His tenure was marked by social justice initiatives and Mandal Commission recommendations.
    • The government collapsed in 1990, leading to political instability.

    Coalition Governments (1990s-2000s)

    • Era of Coalition Governments (1990s-2000s):
      • Political landscape marked by coalition governments.
      • Shift from single-party dominance to multi-party alliances.
    • 1996: United Front Government:
      • United Front coalition formed, led by various regional parties.
      • Deve Gowda served as Prime Minister briefly.
    • 1998-2004: BJP-Led Coalitions:
      • BJP-led coalitions under Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
      • Pokhran nuclear tests were conducted in 1998.
    • Frequent Changes in Leadership:
      • Frequent changes in government due to coalition dynamics.
      • Coalition politics influenced policy decisions.
    • Political Instability and Alliances:
      • The period was marked by political instability.
      • The formation of alliances is crucial for forming governments.
    • 2004: UPA Government Formation:
      • United Progressive Alliance (UPA) formed in 2004.
      • Congress-led coalition with external support from Left parties.
    • Shifts in Power Dynamics:
      • Coalition governments reflected regional and diverse interests.
      • Power dynamics are influenced by regional parties’ roles.
    • Policy Challenges and Reforms:
      • Challenges in policy implementation due to coalition pressures.
      • Reforms were initiated in various sectors amid coalition governance.

    Congress Returns and Economic Challenges (2004-2010s)

    Pic Credit-India Today
    • Congress Returns (2004):
      • Indian National Congress returned to power in 2004.
      • Sonia Gandhi declined the position of Prime Minister, and Manmohan Singh became the PM.
    • Economic Challenges:
      • The period was marked by global economic challenges and the 2008 financial crisis.
      • India faced economic slowdown and the need for policy responses.
    • Manmohan Singh’s Leadership:
      • Singh’s tenure is known for economic reforms and inclusive policies.
      • Implemented programs like MNREGA for rural employment.
    • Nuclear Deal (2008):
      • Successfully negotiated the Indo-US nuclear deal in 2008.
      • Faced political challenges but gained international recognition.
    • Commonwealth Games (2010):
      • India hosted the Commonwealth Games in 2010.
      • Marred by controversies regarding corruption and mismanagement.
    • Social Welfare Programs:
      • Focus on social welfare initiatives, including the Right to Education (RTE) and the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM).
    • End of Second Term (2014):
      • Congress faced challenges, criticism, and electoral setbacks.
      • Lost power in the 2014 general elections.

    India in the Global Arena (2010s)

    • Economic Growth: India sustained economic growth, becoming one of the world’s fastest-growing major economies.
    • Diplomatic Engagements: Increased diplomatic efforts with a focus on global partnerships and alliances.
    • Space Achievements: Notable space achievements, including the Mars Orbiter Mission in 2014.
    • Emergence of Narendra Modi: Narendra Modi became Prime Minister in 2014, emphasizing economic development and foreign relations.
    • Climate Change Commitments: Active participation in global discussions on climate change, commitment to renewable energy.
    • Digital India Initiative: Launch of the Digital India initiative, promoting technological advancements and connectivity.
    • Defense Modernization: Focus on modernizing defense forces and enhancing security capabilities.
    • International Influence: Growing influence in international forums, seeking a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.
    • Trade and Investment: Expansion of trade and investment ties with various countries, promoting economic collaborations.
    • Cultural Diplomacy: Promotion of Indian culture globally through initiatives like the International Day of Yoga.

    BJP’s Dominance and Policy Initiatives (2014-2019)

    Pic Credit-The Hindu
    • 2014 Election Victory: BJP secured a decisive victory in the 2014 general elections.
    • Narendra Modi as Prime Minister: Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister of India.
    • Majority Government: BJP formed a majority government, reducing the need for coalition politics.
    • Economic Reforms: Introduced economic initiatives such as “Make in India” and “Goods and Services Tax” (GST).
    • Social Welfare Programs: Implemented social welfare programs like “Swachh Bharat Abhiyan” and “Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana.”
    • Foreign Policy Emphasis: Emphasis on strengthening India’s position in global affairs.
    • National Security Measures: Focused on national security, with initiatives like “Surgical Strikes” in response to cross-border terrorism
    • Infrastructure Development: Pushed for infrastructure development with projects like “Smart Cities” and “Bullet Train.”
    • Electoral Success in 2019: Secured a significant victory in the 2019 general elections, retaining power.
    • Policy Initiatives Across Sectors: Comprehensive policy initiatives in diverse sectors during the 2014-2019 tenure.

    Contemporary Challenges (2020s)

    • Global Pandemic: COVID-19 poses unprecedented health, economic, and social challenges.
    • Climate Crisis: Escalating climate change impacts demands urgent and sustainable actions.
    • Technological Disruptions: Rapid advancements in technology create societal, ethical, and economic challenges.
    • Geopolitical Tensions: Rising geopolitical tensions impact global stability and cooperation.
    • Social Inequality: Persistent disparities in wealth, education, and healthcare demand attention.
    • Cybersecurity Threats: Increasing frequency and sophistication of cyber threats pose significant risks.
    • Mental Health Crisis: Growing awareness of and challenges posed by mental health issues.
    • Political Polarization: Deepening divisions in political ideologies strain societal cohesion.
    • Environmental Conservation: Urgent need for sustainable practices to address biodiversity loss and resource depletion.
    • Global Economic Uncertainty: Ongoing economic fluctuations and uncertainties impact livelihoods worldwide.

      Farm Reform Laws and Repeal (2020-2021)

      • Farm Reform Laws (2020):
        • Introduced by the Indian government to liberalize the agricultural sector.
        • Aimed at giving farmers more freedom to sell their produce beyond traditional markets.
      • Protests and Controversies:
        • Farmers’ protests erupted against the laws, mainly in Punjab and Haryana.
        • Concerns were raised about potential exploitation by corporate entities and the dismantling of traditional support systems.
      • Repeal (2021):
        • Amid widespread protests, the government decided to repeal the laws in November 2021.
        • Decisions were made to address farmers’ concerns and restore dialogue for comprehensive agricultural reforms.
      • Impact and Future Discussions:
        • Repeal marked a significant shift in response to farmer protests.
        • Raised discussions on the need for consensus-driven agricultural reforms in India.

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