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Politics of India since Independence

Posted by Admin on June 25, 2014 | Comment

Politics of post-independence India is replete with turbulence as well as accomplishments. 67 years since the country formed its own government, much has been done and undone for us to reflect upon. From the rise of leaders and demagogues to the growth of political parties and national consciousness, Indian politics has seen it all. It has been a journey through change and crisis, all focussed on creating a unified nation and a vibrant economy.

Politics of India since Independence

Politics of India till 1960s

India had too many troubles on its plate immediately, after getting freedom from foreign rule. The communal violence post partition, assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation in 1948, and the challenge of unifying princely states were little too much for those who had recently come to power. Adopting a constitution and becoming a “sovereign, democratic, republic” was the first crucial stride towards stability. The Nehru administration rightfully got the credit of introducing a “planned economy and initiating the process of industrialisation.” He not only established Congress as the most viable political entity, but also advocated the values of ‘welfare-ism.’

Although nation-building was the priority during the initial stint, the political phase was marred by some dark patches, including the building up of infamous Sino-Indian War. Indira Gandhi’s elevation to the position of Prime Minister, following Nehru’s death saw a strong emphasis on socialist policies. She took over the office at a time when the nation was seething under the burden of inflation, unemployment, and food crisis.

Politics of India in 1970s and 80s

Indian politics in the 1970s was dominated by the overwhelming presence of Indira Gandhi. Every slogan she used and every strategy she adopted became a success. The decade saw a victory against Pakistan (Bangladesh Liberation War), multiplier impact of the Green Revolution and the nation’s first foray into nuclear weapons testing. The period was particularly important for another reason – Congress’ fight to stay relevant. People’s discontentment over rampant corruption in all spheres of governance started becoming prominent. In what was later regarded as one of the most repressive measures, Gandhi declared emergency in 1975, thus deciding to muffle all dissent.

India got its first non-Congress Prime Minister in 1977, in the form of Morarji Desai. However, his rule was short-lived. Gandhi’s resurgence and Congress’ coming back to power in 1980 was perhaps the beginning of a troubled decade in Indian politics. If we leave aside the dark days of the Anti-Sikh riots and focus on Rajiv Gandhi’s administration, it would appear that Indian politics headed in the direction of policy reforms and improving foreign relations. Government restrictions on foreign investment was decreased and bureaucratic interference over private businesses was reduced. Gandhi took a proactive approach to remove the dent in India-US ties. However, unearthing of the Bofors Scandal undid Gandhi’s image as an honest politician and soon he was put out of power.

Politics of India – From 1990s till now

P V Narasimha Rao’s five-year stint as the Prime Minister was the heyday for Indian economy. Relegating Rajiv Gandhi’s socialist policies, the new Congress government opened the floodgates of economic reforms under the aegis of the then Finance Minister Manmohan Singh. From 1996 – 99, Indian politics entered into the era of coalition with frequent withdrawal of support preventing a stable government. Both the 11th and 12th Prime Ministers (H D Deve Gowda and I K Gujral) couldn’t continue in their office for even one whole year.

Just before the turn of the millennium, NDA government came to power with Atal Bihari Vajpayee as the 13th Prime Minister. Although, the 2001 attack on the Parliament and Gujarat Riots in 2002, brought severe challenges to the nation’s administrators, a major threat that the government faced was from the right wing group – Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP). As the group threatened to build a temple at the Babri masjid site, communal violence and a complete breakdown of law and order was on cards. It was averted due to deft handling of the situation.

With the return of Congress rule in 2004, confidence building measures between Indian and Pakistan were initiated, which didn’t yield much result. Two years later, the much talked about nuclear co-operation agreement was signed with the US. Following the 2008 Mumbai Terror attacks, the focus shifted to India’s defense mechanism. Several loopholes were discovered, amidst a strong criticism of the Manmohan Singh government.

Although the party retained its power for the second term, its journey was fraught with allegations and uprisings. From the 2G scam to corruption allegations during the Commonwealth Games, the UPA government was burdened with ugly cases of graft. Leveraging the common man’s anger over inflation and corruption, the activist Anna Hazare set the stage for a nationwide movement against corruption. Later on, Arvind Kejriwal took it upon himself to work towards a corruption-free India. However, he presently seems lost in the maze of ambition. With Narendra Modi’s unprecedented victory and the return of BJP into power, we Indians are pinning hopes on a coalition-free government to bring positive change in the country.