Background of major issues since independence of INDIA
Regional issues have always played, and continue to play, an important role in Indian
political affairs. In 1986 the Gorkhas (of Nepal case stock) in West Bengal launched a
campaign for a separate autonomous homeland in the Darjeeling region and the recognition
of 'Nepali' as an official language. The violent separatist campaign led by the Gorkha
National Liberation Front (GNLF) was prompted by the eviction of about 10000 Nepalis
from the state of Meghalaya, where the native residents feared that they were becoming
outnumbered by the immigrants. When violent disturbances and a general strike were
organized by the GNLF in 1987, the central government agreed to hold tripartite talks with
the GNLF's leader, Subash Ghising, and the Chief Minister of West Bengal. The Prime
Minister rejected GNLF's demand for an autonomous Gorkha state, but Subash Ghising
agreed to the establishment of a semiautonomous
Darjeeling Hill Development Council. The
government agreed to grant Indian citizenship to all Gorkhas born or domiciled in India. In
August 1992, a constitutional amendment providing for the recognition of 'Nepali' as official
language was adopted.
In 1985, Asom Gana Parishad (AGP)Assam
People's Council, a newlyformed
came to power. This followed the signing, in August, of an agreement between the central
government and two of Hindu activists, concluded after five years of the sectarian violence,
which limited the voting rights of immigrants (mainly Bangladeshis) to Assam. When the
accord was announced, Bangladesh stated that it would not take back Bengali immigrants
from Assam and denied that it had allowed illegal refugees to cross its borders into the state.
Another disaffected Indian tribal group, the Bodos of Assam, demanded a separate state of
Bodoland within India. In 1989, the Bodos, under the leadership of the All Bodo Student's
Union (ABSU), intensified their separatist campaign by organizing strikes, bombings and
violent demonstrations. The central government dispatched armed forces to the state. The
ABSU agreed to suspend its violent activities, while the Assam government agreed to
suspend emergency security measures.
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Rise of Militancy in Punjab
In September 1985, there was a temporary improvement in the unstable situation in Punjab
when elections for the state assembly were held. The election was peaceful and resulted in a
victory for Akali Dal, which assumed power after two years of presidential rule. Part of the
1985 agreement was the proposed transfer of Chandigarh, the joint capital of Punjab and
Haryana since 1966, to Punjab alone. In return, Haryana was to benefit from the completion
of the SatlujYamuna
canal, to bring irrigation water from Punjab to the dry south of the
state, and the transfer of several Hindispeaking
border villages from Punjab to Haryana.
Four Bisions were established to organize the transfer, but all failed, and by early 1998 the
transfer had still Ben place. In January 1983, the Sikh extremists reestablished
inside the Golden Temple complex at Amritsar, which reached its culmination under
operation Blue Star.
Pokhran Test II
India successfully conducted five tests with a fission device, a lowyield
device and a thermo
nuclear device On May 11, 1998 at 15:45 hours. The tests were carried out simultaneously at
underground nuclear sites in Pokhran desert, Rajasthan. India now joins the club of nuclear
capable nations where supremos like USA (1200 tests), Russia (700 tests) and China (45
tests) are way ahead. The first test, 'Smiling Buddha' was successfully conducted on May 18,
1974. However, 'Operation Shakti' on May 11 has been a tremendous achievement for India
in terms of timing and execution.
The euphoria in the nation was shortlived
as Pakistan conducted five nuclear tests on May
28, 1998, in Chagai Hills (50 km from border of Afghanistan and Iran), followed by one
more oh May 30, propelling the subcontinent into an armsrace.
In retaliation, US, Japan and other countries imposed economic sanctions. Foreign aid, which
was a crucial part of economics of both the nations, was hit badly. The entire world was
pressuring both nations not to enter into armsrace,
and sign the CTBT and NPT.
However, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee made it clear that India will not sign the
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) or the Nuclear NonProliferation
without adequate modifications. Vajpayee further explained that there was no possibility of
India signing either CTBT or NPT unless these were changed to accommodate the Indian
perception and viewpoints. The Prime Minister termed the treaties as discriminatory.
The government chalked out an affirmative plan to reverse the despondency that seemed to
have pervaded the economy since economic sanctions were imposed on the country after it
conducted nuclear tests in May '98. The Core Group on Economic Affairs headed by the
Cabinet Secretary met to look at measures that would offset the negative investor sentiment.
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The group took an inprinciple
decision to place some infrastructural projects on the fast
track. To show affirmative and demonstrative action, the government cleared bottlenecks
which plagued these projects.
The government, in June, cleared external commercial borrowings (ECBs) of three
companies in the power sector—Videocon Power, Kondappalli Power and Karnataka State
Electricity Board and a telecom company, Evergrowth Telecom. Of these, Videocon raised a
debt of $600 million for its power project in Tamil Nadu. Kondappalli was given permission
for an ECB of $80 million, KSEB for $37 million, and cellular phone operator, Evergrowth
Telecom, for $45 million.
On July 21, 1998 the Supreme Court directed the centre to formulate a system to resolve the
ongoing Cauvery water dispute under the Interstate
Water Dispute Act.
bench headed by Chief Justice M. M. Punchhi made it clear that no more
adjournments would be appreciated and if the government did not reach any solution then the
matter would be put forward to a fivejudge
bench, which would then make the required
The situation had arisen due to nonimplementation
of an interim order passed in June 1991
by the Cauvery Tribunal which was appointed by the Supreme Court and which directed
Karnataka to release 205 TMC ft of Cauvery water per annum to Tamil Nadu on a weekly
basis. The Cauvery water dispute was among four states —Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala
and Pondicherry—and Karnalaka and Tamil Nadu were to play a major role in settlement.
However, on August 7, 1998 Karnataka softened its stand by releasingwater
intervention by the Cauvery River Authority. The authority included Prime Minister A.
B.Vajpayee, and Chief Ministers of all the four concerned states.