Until last year, Air India was a chronically underperforming public-owned airline. Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, has often said that the government has no business being in business. Yet after eight and a half years of his tenure, Air India is one of only two enterprises that have been successfully privatized.
The strength of democracy is that debate and dialogue provide society with a self-corrective mechanism. The existence of strong opposition and policymakers to consider other points of view help devise more holistic policies. The constant questioning prevents complacency from setting in. Demonetisation was another policy that led to a major disaster since there was little consultation and the parliament was bypassed. The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) are hanging fire, causing huge uncertainty. The farm Bills rammed through parliament without much discussion and were withdrawn only after a year-long agitation and disruption.
The sensible thing for India to do is to keep buying Russian crude, set up a BRICS Re to offer reinsurance to those who insure the safe passage of Russian crude without price caps to wherever it is welcome, and to keep engaging both sides in the Ukraine war
The protests have spread to over 25 cities and over 80 universities, totaling over 50 since the last week of November when nearly a dozen residents were charred to death at Urumqi in Xinjiang in a locked-down high-rise building that caught fire. China witnessed “mass incidents” periodically after the Tiananmen Square incident in 1989. According to official estimates, over 5500 such incidents were reported in 1991, rising continuously to over 87,000 in 2005 and to 1,80,000 in 2010. However, China’s Premier has discontinued providing such statistics anymore.
China witnessed unprecedented protests last month, a first since the massive protests at Tiananmen Square in 1989. The current upsurge — against the excessive intrusion of the party-state in the lives of hundreds of millions of people who are subjected to arbitrary lockdowns, strict border controls, food shortages, unemployment, debilitating quarantine procedures, intensive surveillance, misuse of authority, and enormous hardships — is spontaneous, rapid and inclusive. Stringent Covid policies benefited certain business interests of the pharmaceutical and health industry at the cost of the social sector.
The latest Indian Ocean Forum is another way to challenge Indian influence and presence in the Indian Ocean. This is not China’s first attempt to corner India in its backyard. With the onset of Covid-19, Beijing has shaped multiple initiatives with other South Asian nations, excluding India, and has attempted to institutionalize them. These initiatives have focussed on post-pandemic recovery, enhancing connectivity, emergency supplies reserve, poverty alleviation, and e-commerce cooperation.