Voices from India

Good morning Pratik Gajjar.
Today we have the opportunity to speak a little about your country, India.
Are you ready?

Good morning to everyone, I am ready to answer your questions.

Let’s start by talking about geopolitics right away.
Kashmir is a geographical area that doesn’t know calm for a long time, geopolitically speaking.
From 1947 to 2019 the principality of Jammu & Kashmir knew a large autonomy. This was related to the fact that the zone had a muslim percentage of 60%. However last summer the Indian government decided to repeal that autonomy. How do you interprete this choice?

Jammu and Kashmir region was and is an integral part of India but the circumstances under with it name a part of India has been perceived differently across the country especially politically. The autonomy, up to certain standards was granted to J&K region under Article 370. Under the constitution of J&K, it is mentioned that J&K is a part of India. However, the decision to remove the Article 370 in 2019, nullified that autonomy. In my opinion, the removal of Article 370 would have been a good decision, which would grant it access to investment and development activities. But the manner in which the article was repealed is a matter of concern. The decision to repeal the Article 370 was taken (in a total lawful way) by Indian parliament but the voice or opinions of ordinary citizens of J&K and political leaders from J&K were not taken into consideration.

The last January Internet came back in that region, after 165 days. It happened a similar phenomenon in Iran, during the last clashes against the government. How do you judge this decision taken by your country?

Internet shutdown is a grave matter of concern not just in India but all over the world. In India, we lack the law which would make some guidelines for internet shutdown. In case of Jammu and Kashmir, the reason given for the internet shutdown was the possibility of communication between terrorists or militants. But for the same reason it is not justified to shutdown the internet for almost 6 months. The real reason behind internet shutdown, in my opinion, is to not let citizens communicate, so that they can not assemble and protest against the decision taken by Indian government. The internet services which has been restored after 165 days as you pointed out, was done only after the pressure from over Supreme Court. However, the total restoration of internet is still not there. The internet which has been provided to them is at 2G speed and it only allows them to visit some government cleared websites not the social media platform. Under the Modi government, Internet shutdown has become a tool to stifle the voice of general population not just in Jammu and Kashmir but all over the India. Only difference is that in rest of India, these internet shutdown last for 1-2 weeks while Jammu and Kashmir is still suffering.

In May 1998 it happened a situation potentially dangerous between India and Pakistan, when both countries did nuclear tests in a short time. After that luckily the context seemed to recover.
How do you rate the relationship with Islamabad at the beginning of 2020?

The relationship between India and Pakistan was and is always a political one, if there is political will from both the sides, the relations seems to be improved. Right now, in both countries the political parties that are in power are right wing and for them the other country is a tool to misguide the population and divert the attention from real in house issues. In recent past, both the country came to a brinkmanship and since then all the diplomatic and economical relations have been cutoff. With the Modi government in India and Khan government in Pakistan, I don’t think the relations will improve in coming years. By stating so, I would also like to add that on one occasion or another both the countries work together despite the stained relations as in the case of Kartarpur corridor which grants visa-free access to Indian Shikh pilgrims to the Gurudwara in Pakistan. So, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel but it requires political will from both the sides to improve relations and work together.

Now we speak about economy. Do you think that India could became a new superpower of the world in the next future?
Which are in your opinion the sectors where New Delhi is investing most and best?

I certainly believe so, with the youngest population in the whole world with a billion plus citizens it is an achievable goal. Right now, New Delhi seems to be focusing more on the Medium and Small scale businesses a lot. Additionally, New Delhi is focusing more on Agricultural and Infrastructure industry to achieve this target.

How do you describe the situation of the middle class in your country?
Is there a social discontent in some Indian provinces, in the wake of the numerous unrest that occurred in the world in the past few months? (in Latin America, Catalunya, Middle East, Hong Kong…)

I would say the condition of middle class has become worse during the Modi government. There is a large problem of unemployment in the both urban and rural areas. The unemployment rate is around 6% which is highest in last 40 years. Also, there is a problem of sub-standard salary to an educated person. The voices of students and farmers are being silenced. There are ongoing protests in the university against the Modi government. But it’s just that. Given the personality cult Modi has built around due to his right-wing hindutva that pleases general population that are not much educated, it will be hard to see and social discontent on larger scale in India.

Which is your though about the indian students diaspora in the world? Do you believe that the majority of them could come back at home or there will be an international future for them?

I do believe so, if they are given right and a good opportunity back in India, they will certainly come back. Any Indian person would like to stay close to his/her family and culture.

Do you think that relations between India and China in the coming years may deteriorate, in light of Beijin’s development of the “One Belt One Road Initiative”? Or will the two Asian giants find a collaborative relationship that can bring benefits to both?

The relations between India and China has not been always good or also bad at the same time. The diplomatic relations between both countries are good right now. While China is working hard on its OBOR initiative, India is working hard to have free trade deals with EU, USA, Russia and China itself. I would say the economical competitiveness between India and China will be beneficial to the global economy and certainly India and China are having discussions to improve the trade relations.

Environmental issue & unbreathable air.
Do you think that the Indian government needs to do more for a green transition of the country?
And which is the pubblic opinion about the climate change in India?

Yes, Indian government should work harder to bring reforms to tackle the climate change. The government is largely aware about the perceived threat of it and it seems they are taking right decisions to counter the pollution issues. India is amongst the small group of countries that have increased the forest covers and also the energy generation from renewable sources. The average Indian citizen is also aware about the threat of climate change and they are demanding more sustainable steps from the government. But given the demographic scale of India and the per capita income of a citizen, it will be a huge task to tackle the climate change in a way which will not hamper our economic growth.

Thank you for your time,
we hope to hear you soon for another talk together.
Good luck for your life.

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Febbraio: 2020
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