By Charu Sudan Kasturi and Maroosha Muzaffar 11 February 2019
Why you should care
OZY takes you to the villages and towns, forests and hills of the world’s fastest-growing major economy as it prepares for mankind’s largest-ever democratic exercise.
The sun is beating down, and it’s over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. But hundreds are lined up outside a public school that’s doubling as a voting center. It’s a scene that will play out thousands of times this spring in India, when the country votes for its next government in what will be history’s biggest-ever democratic exercise, one with implications for the world. And OZY will be there on the ground, bringing you an unprecedented ringside view of the dreams and challenges shaping every part of the country.
Nearly 600 million Indians voted in the general elections of 2014 that brought Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to power. In the general elections scheduled from March to May this year, that number is expected to go even higher — with 100 million young Indians having turned 18, the minimum voting age, since 2014, according to census projections.
As the world’s fastest-growing major economy and its sixth largest overall, India’s global influence will only continue to grow. Its education system has churned out several of the world’s top corporate and tech leaders, from former Pepsi chief Indra Nooyi to Google’s Sundar Pichai and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella. India is a rare country that is close to the U.S. and Russia, Israel and Iran, making it a much sought-after diplomatic partner. Its booming middle class makes it a market of choice for companies and investors across the world. And with two-thirds of its 1.3 billion–strong population under the age of 35, India is poised to serve as the world’s biggest supplier of human resources for decades to come.
Understanding a land of 19,500 languages and far too many gods and religions to count needs real shoe-leather reporting. At OZY, we have that pedigree.
That’s why we believe that whether you’re in Detroit or Dubai, Kinshasa or Kuala Lumpur, the choices India and Indians make will impact the world. Over the next three months, OZY will take you to the villages and towns, hills and deserts where India lives, on a scale no other international publication has accomplished, with States of the Nation: India. Our reporters will bring you stories you won’t find anywhere else from every one of India’s 29 states and seven union territories — on politics, religion, culture, food, relationships, economics, sports and more.
Understanding a land of 19,500 languages and far too many gods and religions to count — with different food habits and film industries every few miles — needs real shoe-leather reporting. At OZY, we have that pedigree. In 2017, as America grappled with the aftermath of a divisive election, we reported from each of the 50 U.S. states. Then in 2018, we went a step further, reporting from each of the more than 200 countries and “not-quite countries,” like Kurdistan and Kosovo, in the world, shattering stereotypes and introducing hidden cultures, trends and personalities to our global audience.
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Now, we’re digging deep again with States of the Nation: India, at a time the world’s largest democracy is in flux over many of the same debates ricocheting across other major democracies: on populism, immigration, religion, economic inequality and corruption.
Politically, India faces a choice between the current regime that is seen by many as decisive but authoritarian, and a hodgepodge of opposition parties that argue the ruling BJP is destroying democracy. To critics of the current government, Indian secularism is under threat, with growing attacks against Muslims.
China’s slowdown makes India, with its steady growth rate above 7 percent, a key driver of the global economy. But some of the Modi government’s policies have also led to self-inflicted wounds for the country and its neighbors, such as the overnight ban on high-value currency notes in 2016 that dragged the economy down for a year.
Culturally too, one of the world’s oldest civilizations is changing. Women are demanding more rights and are slowly getting them. Traditional food is going mainstream — and may soon find its way to your neighborhood supermarket. And Bollywood is getting political.
We’ll bring you the trends and people you need to know to grasp the future that India is moving toward. Our reporters will also introduce you to powerful vignettes of history that have shaped modern India, fascinating statistics that reveal facets of the country you didn’t know about, culinary delights you’ve never tried and breathtaking getaways in the country’s forests and mountains that you won’t find in tourist books.
Elections are ultimately a celebration of democracy. Let OZY be your ticket to this party. It’s one you won’t want to miss.
- Charu Sudan Kasturi and Maroosha Muzaffar, OZY AuthorContact Charu Sudan Kasturi and Maroosha Muzaffar