(In this weekend feature, Lok Marg’s editors deconstruct recent major happenings to help you make sense of what’s going on and what to expect.)
Waiting for the Ayodhya verdict
Curfew was imposed in Ayodhya while the Supreme Court’s verdict on the long-standing dispute over the site is awaited. The apex court is expected to announce its verdict on the case involving land rights to the disputed site on November 17. If the court’s decision favours the Hindu religious bodies and by awarding the land to them, it will be a big victory for the pro-Hindu Modi regime. Hindu activists want to build a temple, a shrine dedicated to the mythological religious figure, Ram, who they believe was born in Ayodhya. In 1992, activists demolished the Babri masjid, built during in the 16th century by the Mughals.
The forthcoming developments will be keenly watched as there have been protracted clashes over the issue for nearly the past three decades. Whichever way the verdict goes, many fear it could ignite communal tension and even lead to widespread violence across India. It’s a tense situation with huge ramifications.
An Indian Nobel laureate
Abhijit Banerjee, an economist of Indian origin, along with two other economists, has been awarded the Nobel prize for economics. Banerjee is the founder of the Abdul Lateef Jamil Poverty Action Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Banerjee and his colleagues pioneered scientific research, involving randomised control trials, to measure and gauge the efficiency of policies designed to alleviate poverty across the world’s poorest regions.
Banerjee’s work, which conflates rigorous quantitative experiments with development economic theories, has impacted millions of lives across the world by pulling people out of poverty. The award recognises his work and is expected to further boost the use of research as a basis for formulating development economic policies in several of the world’s poorest countries.
Two Indian states go to the polls
As Maharashtra and Haryana prepare to go to the polls on October 21, the odds favour the Bharatiya Janata Party, which, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, surged to an overwhelming victory in the national elections last summer. The BJP has 48 of the 90 seats in Haryana currently, while in Maharashtra of the 288 seats, the BJP has 142 and its ally, the Shiv Sena has 75. The national elections, held earlier this year, witnessed the decimation of the BJP’s opponent parties, chiefly the Congress, and that has given a boost to the party’s popularity and strength across the country. In Haryana, it is widely expected that the party will come back to power by winning the forthcoming elections. In Maharashtra, the BJP’s alliance with the regionally-focused Shiv Sena has been a tense partnership and the pro-Hindu national party would like to gain numbers so that its clout in the alliance is strengthened. Much would depend on how the party has managed and grown its base in the state during the past five years. The electoral contest in the two will be keenly watched and its outcome could determine trends in other state elections in forthcoming months.