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  • Author: Joachim Betz
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: Despite being a consolidated democracy with free and fair elections and having a political system with intense party competition, a relatively vibrant civil society, and a functioning federal set-up, India still ranks poorly in terms of the coverage, generosity, efficiency, and quality of its social protection. This is difficult to explain based on the factors usually advanced for the implementation of generous social policies. A second puzzle is the predominantly protective nature of welfare policies in India in the current era of globalisation, which should necessitate policies enabling workers to participate successfully in a more demanding economic environment. These puzzles may be explained partly by (a) the long-term insulation of the Indian economy from international competition, (b) the low share of industry and modern services in GDP until recently, (c) the precedence of identity policies, (d) the fragmentation of the political sphere, and (e) the meagre empowerment of women in India. We should, however, acknowledge that change is underway and that the picture is not bleak across India as a whole – being supported by economic reforms and growth, a greater degree of decentralisation and party competition within the country, increasingly discerning voters, and progress on female education and employment opportunities.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Reform, Democracy, Social Policy, Welfare
  • Political Geography: India, Asia
  • Author: Ric Smith
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Australian Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Ric Smith has masterfully woven archival material, memories of his own time as a foreign service officer, and conversations with other officers of the then Department of Foreign Affairs to recount the crisis in East Pakistan in 1971 and the difficult birth of Bangladesh. Smith highlights the Cold War incongruities of the crisis, including the Soviet Union’s support for democratic India’s position during the crisis, while the United States supported the military regime in Pakistan. The episode also stands as an example of Canberra diverging from Washington on an issue that was garnering political and media attention in Australia. Australia was able to pursue a policy toward the region that was independent from the United States, accepting early that East Pakistan was “finished” and that there was a need to address an unfolding humanitarian crisis. Smith’s book imparts important lessons about diplomacy for Australia: It is not only possible for Australia’s politicians and diplomats to take independent positions on major international problems, but they are sometimes respected by their allies when they do so.
  • Topic: Cold War, Human Rights, Democracy, Geopolitics, Military Intervention
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States, Europe, India, Asia, Soviet Union, Australia