India election 2019: latest updates

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What we’re covering here What we’re covering here

It’s official. The world’s largest exercise in democracy will kick off on April 11. We’ll be following every twist and turn as up to 900 million people vote to choose their next leader.

    t

  • Due to the sheer size of the operation, polling will unfold over seven phases around the country ending on May 19.
  • t

  • The results will be declared on May 23.
  • t

  • Key issues include the economy, jobs and unemployment.
  • t

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are seeking re-election after a landslide victory in 2014.
  • t

  • They face a fragmented opposition but competition could come from the Congress Party, led by Rahul Gandhi.
  • t

  • The election is coming off the back of escalating tensions between India and Pakistan over the disputed Kashmir region.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India has successfully conducted an anti-satellite missile test that put the country in a league of global “space powers.”

In a national address Wednesday, Modi said India had achieved a “historic feat” by shooting down its own low orbit satellite with a missile in just three minutes.

Only three other countries: US, Russia and China have the capabilities to use such an anti-satellite missile.

India’s space program has grown substantially over the past decade. In 2014, India put a satellite into orbit around Mars and the Indian Space Research Organization has announced that it will send a manned mission into space in the next three years.

Modi said the operation, called Mission Shakti – which stands for “power” in Hindi – would defend the country’s interests in space. The country’s foreign ministry said that India had “no intention of entering into an arms race in outer space.”

Though Modi said Wednesday’s test was for India’s defense and security, it is likely to be seen as provocative by Pakistan and China.

In response, a spokesperson for Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said “boasting of such capabilities is reminiscent of Don Quixote’s tilting against windmills,” meaning to fight imaginary enemies.

“Space is the common heritage of mankind and every nation has the responsibility to avoid actions which can lead to the militarization of this arena,” the statement said.

Opposition leaders dismissed the announcement as a publicity stunt.

Akhilesh Yadav, former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh and one of Modi’s severest critics said, Modi’s announcement “got himself an hour of free TV” and “divert nation’s attention away from issues on ground.”

India’s feat comes after repeated warnings against China’s growing space military capabilities.

A report released last year by the Pentagon detailed that Russia and China are developing capabilities including “laser weapons to disrupt, degrade, or damage satellites and their sensors.”

The growth of China’s space capabilities and the need to help safeguard US satellites have been cited by the Trump administration as a reason why the US needs a Space Force.

India’s main opposition party has criticized a Bollywood biopic of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, labeling it as propaganda and suggesting its forthcoming release contravenes the country’s election laws.

In a petition to the Election Commission, the Congress Party demanded that the release of “PM Narendra Modi” be delayed until after the country’s elections, which begin on April 11 and will last for about six weeks.

“This is no artistic venture. It is a political venture,” said Kapil Sibal, senior Congress Party leader Monday. “The purpose of this film is only political — to get some extra mileage in the election.”

Read more on that here.

Former chief of the Reserve Bank of India, Raghuram Rajan, has said one of the biggest issues in the country is the lack of jobs.

Speaking in a televised interview with NDTV, Rajan said, “there does seem to be a paucity of jobs” for all those who are graduating.

“Too many graduates are trying for low level jobs because they are not finding jobs that suit them,” he said. “To some extent the lack of job creation mirrors the problems in the West, that is good jobs for the people with moderate education, is simply not there.”

Rajan is currently the Katherine Dusak Miller Distinguished Service Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

“There is a huge hunger for good jobs. Our job statistics have been poor for a long time. We need to improve collection of those statistics. We can’t rely on the EPFO (Employees’ Provident Fund Organization) or other make-do versions. We need to collect better job data,” Rajan said.

More than half of Indians are aged 25 or under, and some 12 million enter the workforce each year. According to the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy, the unemployment rate in February this year stood at 7.2%, up from 5% in February, 2017.

Human Rights Watch has called on all parties standing in the forthcoming Indian elections to commit to “strengthening human rights protections.”

“Respect for economic, social, and political rights has declined in India in recent years,” the international rights organization said in an open letter Tuesday. “We are writing to urge you to adopt human rights as a key part of your pledges and manifestos ahead of parliamentary elections.”

The rights group wants candidates to pledge to ensure accountability of the security forces, to protect freedom of expression and assembly, to enforce laws that protect women and children, and to end discrimination against minorities and refugees.

Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch said, “It is important for voters in India to have the choice to elect leaders who will genuinely uphold human rights protections.”

He is the heir apparent to India’s most powerful political dynasty. But over the next few months, Rahul Gandhi will face an uphill battle in the country’s general election campaign.

The 48-year-old was born into the Nehru-Gandhi family, whose legacy is intertwined with an independent and democratic India. He is also president of the India National Congress — the main opposition to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Gandhi was a reluctant leader but has lately exceeded expectations, with his party winning key state elections late last year. He’s been campaigning on anti-Modi rhetoric and his party seeks to show that the economy has suffered in the last five years and that Modi’s promises have fallen flat.

Here’s what you need to know about political scion and Modi rival Rahul Gandhi.

What we’re covering here

It’s official. The world’s largest exercise in democracy will kick off on April 11. We’ll be following every twist and turn as up to 900 million people vote to choose their next leader.

    t

  • Due to the sheer size of the operation, polling will unfold over seven phases around the country ending on May 19.
  • t

  • The results will be declared on May 23.
  • t

  • Key issues include the economy, jobs and unemployment.
  • t

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are seeking re-election after a landslide victory in 2014.
  • t

  • They face a fragmented opposition but competition could come from the Congress Party, led by Rahul Gandhi.
  • t

  • The election is coming off the back of escalating tensions between India and Pakistan over the disputed Kashmir region.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India has successfully conducted an anti-satellite missile test that put the country in a league of global “space powers.”

In a national address Wednesday, Modi said India had achieved a “historic feat” by shooting down its own low orbit satellite with a missile in just three minutes.

Only three other countries: US, Russia and China have the capabilities to use such an anti-satellite missile.

India’s space program has grown substantially over the past decade. In 2014, India put a satellite into orbit around Mars and the Indian Space Research Organization has announced that it will send a manned mission into space in the next three years.

Modi said the operation, called Mission Shakti – which stands for “power” in Hindi – would defend the country’s interests in space. The country’s foreign ministry said that India had “no intention of entering into an arms race in outer space.”

Though Modi said Wednesday’s test was for India’s defense and security, it is likely to be seen as provocative by Pakistan and China.

In response, a spokesperson for Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said “boasting of such capabilities is reminiscent of Don Quixote’s tilting against windmills,” meaning to fight imaginary enemies.

“Space is the common heritage of mankind and every nation has the responsibility to avoid actions which can lead to the militarization of this arena,” the statement said.

Opposition leaders dismissed the announcement as a publicity stunt.

Akhilesh Yadav, former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh and one of Modi’s severest critics said, Modi’s announcement “got himself an hour of free TV” and “divert nation’s attention away from issues on ground.”

India’s feat comes after repeated warnings against China’s growing space military capabilities.

A report released last year by the Pentagon detailed that Russia and China are developing capabilities including “laser weapons to disrupt, degrade, or damage satellites and their sensors.”

The growth of China’s space capabilities and the need to help safeguard US satellites have been cited by the Trump administration as a reason why the US needs a Space Force.

India’s main opposition party has criticized a Bollywood biopic of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, labeling it as propaganda and suggesting its forthcoming release contravenes the country’s election laws.

In a petition to the Election Commission, the Congress Party demanded that the release of “PM Narendra Modi” be delayed until after the country’s elections, which begin on April 11 and will last for about six weeks.

“This is no artistic venture. It is a political venture,” said Kapil Sibal, senior Congress Party leader Monday. “The purpose of this film is only political — to get some extra mileage in the election.”

Read more on that here.

Former chief of the Reserve Bank of India, Raghuram Rajan, has said one of the biggest issues in the country is the lack of jobs.

Speaking in a televised interview with NDTV, Rajan said, “there does seem to be a paucity of jobs” for all those who are graduating.

“Too many graduates are trying for low level jobs because they are not finding jobs that suit them,” he said. “To some extent the lack of job creation mirrors the problems in the West, that is good jobs for the people with moderate education, is simply not there.”

Rajan is currently the Katherine Dusak Miller Distinguished Service Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

“There is a huge hunger for good jobs. Our job statistics have been poor for a long time. We need to improve collection of those statistics. We can’t rely on the EPFO (Employees’ Provident Fund Organization) or other make-do versions. We need to collect better job data,” Rajan said.

More than half of Indians are aged 25 or under, and some 12 million enter the workforce each year. According to the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy, the unemployment rate in February this year stood at 7.2%, up from 5% in February, 2017.

Human Rights Watch has called on all parties standing in the forthcoming Indian elections to commit to “strengthening human rights protections.”

“Respect for economic, social, and political rights has declined in India in recent years,” the international rights organization said in an open letter Tuesday. “We are writing to urge you to adopt human rights as a key part of your pledges and manifestos ahead of parliamentary elections.”

The rights group wants candidates to pledge to ensure accountability of the security forces, to protect freedom of expression and assembly, to enforce laws that protect women and children, and to end discrimination against minorities and refugees.

Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch said, “It is important for voters in India to have the choice to elect leaders who will genuinely uphold human rights protections.”

He is the heir apparent to India’s most powerful political dynasty. But over the next few months, Rahul Gandhi will face an uphill battle in the country’s general election campaign.

The 48-year-old was born into the Nehru-Gandhi family, whose legacy is intertwined with an independent and democratic India. He is also president of the India National Congress — the main opposition to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Gandhi was a reluctant leader but has lately exceeded expectations, with his party winning key state elections late last year. He’s been campaigning on anti-Modi rhetoric and his party seeks to show that the economy has suffered in the last five years and that Modi’s promises have fallen flat.

Here’s what you need to know about political scion and Modi rival Rahul Gandhi.