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Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and Indian National Congress (more popularly known as Congress) are two major political parties in India and major rivals. BJP, Relatively newer than Congress, got a chance to govern India only for 6 Years with alliance. Whereas, Congress has governed India for the major part of the history of independent India. The two parties are different on their basic ideology, yet they are considered similar on bigger issues like economic and foreign policy. This article tries to highlight the difference between BJP and Congress.

General Differences Between BJP and Congress

Congress puts more emphasis on uplifting socially underprivileged sections of the society, historically Congress has advocated in favour of farmers, labourers, labour unions, and religious and ethnic minority. This makes Congress very strong in the rural India which makes the most of the country. Congress strictly follows the principal of secularism and claims to fight against polarizing elements and communal forces.

Differences between BJP and Congress

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BJP remains committed to Hindutva. It believes Hindutva should be the cultural identity of India, and oppose westernization of the country. Political rivals claim BJP as communal for having such ideology. However, BJP disconnects Hindutva from Hinduism and believes this cultural identity extends to every religion in the country. A similar concept that Vladimir Putin believes pursues in Russia.

Differences in Economic Policy

At present it is often believed that beside the general differences there is no solid difference in the economic policies of the two parties. However, BJP is considered slightly right of centre and Congress is considered slightly left of the centre. No party has extreme views though, and sometimes their views overlaps and sometimes their views are contradictory as well. For example, BJP opposes FDI in retail, which is supported by Congress.

The BJP opposes the socialist economic policies of Congress and blames Congress of keeping India’s growth rate down, economy in dark and corruption. Economic policy of Congress were initially centred on the public sector and aimed at establishing a “socialistic pattern of society.” The BJP government was more reform friendly and claims to have established a stronger foundation of the economy during its rule. Congress on the other hand blames BJP of blind privatization during its term.

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After free-market reforms and economic liberalisation initiated in 1991, economic policies of both the parties overlaps on the majority of the issues. Although BJP promotes foreign trades and privatization, it supports Swadeshi movement and encourages indigenous industries and opposes excessive foreign imports. BJP opposes Congress of Bringing FDI in retail claiming this will reduce the number of jobs in the country, as retail sector is second largest employer in India after agricultural sector. BJP’s views on FDI in retail remains highly debateable and challengeable.

Another contradiction can be that BJP opposes GST (Goods and Service Tax), which is supported by Congress. GST, once implemented, will replace all other taxes like VAT, excise duty, service tax, entertainment tax, luxury tax, etc. providing relief to the common man.

In a popular move, BJP now recently supports complete abolition of Income tax, whereas Congress looks favourably upon the levying of income taxes.

Differences in Foreign Policy

Whoever is in power, nobody wants to deteriorate India’s foreign relations with another country. Therefore foreign policies of the two countries mostly remains same except few major differences.

Congress urges that a viable Palestinian state be established at the earliest. On the other hand, BJP mentioned in its 2009 manifesto that it pursues enhanced cooperation with Israel. However, BJP acknowledges both Arab world and Israel are beneficial for India and it will not inter link the relations between the two, something which will be very complicated.

BJP opposed Congress on inclining India more towards Soviet Union and the communist bloc. BJP favoured relations with USA to bring the balance back to India’s non alignment policy. After the collapse of Soviet Union, BJP now supports enhanced cooperation with Russia, Central Asia as well as USA. On the other hand, Congress also now supports enhanced cooperation with the USA. Indo-US nuclear deal and signing recent heavy defence deals with USA is one such example. In this regard, both the parties now have similar views on the relations with Russia and USA after the collapse of Soviet Union.

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Both the parties maintain similar views on India’s neighbours and want friendly and peaceful relations with all of them.

Both the parties wants friendly relations with Sri Lanka and want the Sri Lankan government to ensure the interests of Tamil minorities. However, Modi in his October speech, commented that India’s concern for non-resident Indians (NRI) should also extend to Sri Lanka’s Tamil population, whose families have been living in Sri Lanka for at least a century and in some cases even longer.

Both the parties believe that friendly relations with Pakistan can only be achieved if Pakistan dismantles its terror infrastructure. One step ahead, BJP supports the full integration of Jammu and Kashmir into India by revoking its “special status” granted in the Indian constitution, which can further tense the situation in Kashmir and relations between India and Pakistan. BJP maintains extreme views especially on Pakistan. However, The Vajpayee government (BJP) surprised everyone by taking various new initiatives to setup friendly relations between the two countries which includes resuming bus and train services between the two countries.

Both the parties want friendly relations with Nepal and Bangladesh. However, BJP blames Congress of ignoring relations with Nepal and supports fencing of Indo-Bangladesh Border.

Differences in Nuclear Policy

Congress supports India’s “no first use” policy, which states that India keeps its nuclear arsenal as deterrent and will only use its weapons if a country strikes India first with nuclear weapons. This indirectly states that India will never attack a non-nuclear state with its nuclear weapons.

On the other hand, BJP believes in keeping “all options open” policy, and does not further define its stance. However, BJP government always believed that nuclear weapons should be avoided as long as they can be, but does not assure enemy countries that it will never strike first. In October 18, 2013 speech of Modi, he lauded Vajpayee’s public declaration of a policy of no first use of nuclear weapons, striking a “balance” between strength and peace.

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BJP more into showing the world

BJP believes more in showing the world India’s capabilities and supports projects that showcases strength of India. BJP cleared Chandrayaan-I moon mission, BJP now supports Chandrayaan-II mission to moon and claimed in its 2009 manifesto that it will facilitate sending a manned mission to moon in next 5 years. As of now, no government has ever cleared a manned mission to moon or near earth orbit.

BJP is assertive that once it comes to the power, it will once again initiate an aggressive nuclear program. BJP supports expedition of India’s indigenous thorium technology programme and giving all financial assistance to it.

Your Turn

Do you have something to add in the article? Or do you oppose anything said on this article? Please add your views and opinion in the comments section below and facilitate a healthy intellectual debate. Don’t see your avatar on the comment section below? Sign up for gravatar with the same email ID that you  use to comment on this post.

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Sanskar Shrivastava is the founder of international students' journal, The World Reporter. Passionate about dynamic occurrence in geopolitics, Sanskar has been studying and analyzing geopolitcal events from early life. At present, Sanskar is a student at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture and will be moving to Duke University.

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China

A Lovers’ Quarrel: What Now for India and China?

Manak Suri

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When China’s Consul General to India Zheng Xiyuan addressed a gathering in the city of Mumbai earlier in the week he made an interesting comparison on the relationship between the two Asian giants. “Relation between China and India is just like the monsoon season,” he said. “There are different levels of rainfall in different years. And sometimes you have clouds as well.” It is not surprising how apt the statement is especially with regard to the past three years which have seen the tiger and the dragon compete for geopolitical influence in Asia and beyond and tussle over longstanding territorial issues. The latter of the two culminated in the 70-day long military standoff in Doklam/Donglang, which has since then deescalated. However, the monsoon sometimes surprises with a few delayed showers, and so has Beijing with a sudden change in its rhetoric towards New Delhi, from one of visible aggression to one which is seemingly cooperative.

Clashes between the two kept analysts across the globe busy, with the possibility of a full-scale military conflict a favourite topic of discussion for the political enthusiasts among the uninitiated. The Doklam episode was the final among a series of recurring conflicts. The most prominent among them included India snubbing China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) summit in May flagging sovereignty issues due to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC); a key portion of the OBOR which runs through a region of Kashmir controlled by Pakistan and claimed by India, and China’s repeated blocking of India’s move to get the chief of Pakistan based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed listed as a global terrorist with the UN. The relations had already taken a downturn with India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group being blocked by China on a consistent basis. Added to that, tensions reached a high with India’s decision to allow the Dalai Lama, seen as a separatist by China to visit the Tawang region which is claimed by China as Southern Tibet and by India as a part of its state Arunachal Pradesh. This happened despite repeated warnings from the Chinese that the visit would cause serious damage to diplomatic ties between the two countries. Did it?

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The action-packed episodes are in the past now and recent developments on the world stage are worth a second look. With no new conflicts brewing for the time being and a precarious lid on the existing ones, it has been nothing short of intriguing to see the evident tone of cooperation between the two frenemies since the Doklam issue has been resolved. China seems to have made good, even if ever so slightly, on blocking the move to designate the JeM chief as a globally designated terrorist by condemning the Pakistan based terror group along with the Haqqani Network and Lashkar-e-Taiba at the recent BRICS summit held in Xiamen. While the move has likely and arguably been made to protect its own investments in the country and doesn’t have any visible bearing on India’s repeated efforts as yet, the step is significant in projecting Beijing’s new viewpoint on the fight against terror based outfits on a global level which previously was limited to vague statements sighting requirement of solid evidence and further communication and coordination between the involved countries. Beijing has also snubbed Pakistan in its effort to internationalise the issue of Kashmir, maintaining its position that the matter is for them and India to resolve on their own. While there has been no change of position on the issue from before and there is no strain of ties between the two ‘all-weather allies’, the tone of the statement is a change to be welcomed by New Delhi in its prominent stand against terrorism on both the national and international level.

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Speaking of change, India along with Japan remained relatively quiet in the South China Sea conflict, making no explicit mention of it in their joint statement when the Prime Ministers of both the countries met earlier this September. Improvements in ties aside, another likely reason could be that the issue has taken a backseat with the focus of China, Japan as well as that of the United States on the heightening tension in the Korean Peninsula.

However, with Trump’s undiverted attention on Kim, the South East Asian countries involved in the conflict may find it difficult to stand up to the Chinese on their own, should Beijing choose to push even further with its activities in the contested waters. Therein lies an important lesson for India. “The Chinese have demonstrated a pattern of creeping encroachment”, India’s former Ambassador to Beijing Ashok K. Kantha has said, and India would do well to remember that. Indians may see the disengagement from both the sides in Doklam as a diplomatic victory over the Chinese but the conflict is not yet resolved. China’s perceived soft behaviour may merely be an understanding on their part that perhaps the time to act is not now, more so that cooperation is the way ahead; something which has continuously and explicitly been implied by both the sides over and over considering what else is at stake.

As two large and quickly growing economies, India and China’s relationship with each other has been heavy enough invested in by both the countries for them to know different. This is not just evident from the business end, but also from the mixing of the two cultures as well. Bollywood movies are enjoying huge popularity among the Chinese audience. At the same time across the border, Mandarin as a language has acquired more importance over the years, with schools offering the same as an optional language growing in number. Opinions of the people on each other may change every now and then from favourable to not as much in polls, yet there is no denying their mingling.

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In this lovers’ quarrel, as is with any other, while the occasional bickering is unlikely to give way (at least in the foreseeable future), reconciliation is perhaps always the key and a quick one for that matter. This is known by both, even if they may forget from time to time.

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India

Get Acquainted with Mumbai Through its Diverse Food

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Popularly called India’s financial capital, Mumbai is known for more than just Bollywood and its stock markets. It is one of the more famous cosmopolitan cities in the country with a brilliant mix of people from all over. This eclectic combination of a variety of people from different places across the country has ended up creating a paradise for the food lovers in Mumbai.

A variety of edibles in the Maximus City

Named after Mumba, a Goddess and patron deity of the Kolis, Mumbai is a mixture of people from different religions as well. The ethnic group of Kolis are made up of Christians and Hindus and have provided the world with the finger-licking ‘Prawns Koliwada’ famous in Mumbai. Taste this deep fried Prawn dish for a mind-blowing experience. The people of the Konkan region have brought Malwani food to this city in all its spicy glory. Wash down this delicious food with Sol Kadi, which is a refreshing after-food beverage drunk after a heavy meal of Pomfret masala or crab masala.

Mohammed Ali Road

Mumbai is famous across the country for its outstanding street food that makes exploring this city an interesting feat. Experience every flavour of the city soon as you land and board the Mumbai airport cab, and drive towards the active Mohammad Ali Road. Experience the buzz of activity in this area, which plays home to several important mosques and is also the heart of all Ramadan celebrations in the city. Try out the Mumbai classics such as pav bhaji and bhel puri, unique to this area’s busting khao gallis (food streets).

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Chowpatty Beach

A food lover’s visit to this city is incomplete without making a stop at Mumbai’s Chowpatty beach. Considered to be the best place for vegetarian food items and street foods such as pani puri and pav bhaji. Sit on the sandy shores of this beach and watch the picturesque sunset while munching on some sev puri, which is Mumbai’s classic street food. The combination of herbs, sev and chutneys over the potato makes for a scrumptious snack. Sample some kulfi sticks while at the beach. Kulfi is a frozen dairy dessert that is more creamy and dense than ice cream is. Pick your favourite flavours from mango, rose, cardamom, pistachio, and saffron.

Indian Sweets

For those of you who have a sweet tooth, try the hand-churned samples of ice cream in strange yet delicious flavours in Mumbai. Close to the markets of this city exists a 120-year old shop that also serves bright orange jalebis and sugary sweet goodies popular in India. If you’re flying into the city, you can pick out self-drive Mumbai airport taxi service such as Zoomcar and explore the food joints of this exquisite city.

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India

It’s Been 70 Years Since India Became An Independent Nation: What’s Changed?

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It has been 70 years since India became independent and a lot has changed. On the 15th August 1947, India finally won its independence, after a long struggle for freedom. The road to freedom wasn’t easy; it was a long struggle and one that cost them thousands of people. The country was partitioned, and Pakistan was created, and along with it, a new India was born. India may have lost some of its people, but it gained a brand new identity.

Since then, India has adopted a democratic path and has developed in many unexpected ways. Wondering what’s changed in the past 70 years – then read on for a guide to the ways in which India has advanced over the past seven decades.

Equality comes before law

In 2017, India treats everyone equally when it comes to law. All Indians are equal and subject to the same authority when it comes to law and jurisdiction. There is no special treatment based on eligibility, income or gender – everyone is treated fairly. Birth is no longer seen as a basis for choosing who should and shouldn’t be powerful. Social privileges are not based on gender, religion, caste, or ethnicity – everyone is equal. Each citizen carries an Aadhar card or can use an Aadhar card download instead. This states their name, contact details, and holds a range of information about them. Despite these laws around equality, discrimination does still exist, but the government and local authorities are working hard to stamp this out.

Education has significantly progressed

Today, more than 100 million children go to school in India and complete their primary education, which includes learning to read and write. The number of children going on to secondary education and higher education is also impressive. There are now over 300 universities in India that children can choose to attend. At secondary school and in higher education, children are encouraged to learn skills that will aid them in later life and make the process of getting a well-paid job easier. There is a lot of emphasis on educational equality, with girls being encouraged to attend school just like boys are.

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Socio-economic changes

In terms of industry, India has also made some incredible advancements since 1947. In the 50s and 60s, heavy industries became big business in India and received a lot of government attention. Today, smaller scale industries are receiving the same attention, helping to make startups more successful. There have been a lot of community development programs bringing schools, medical facilities, and clean water to communities across the country.

Since it gained its independence in 1947, India has come a long way. There have been a lot of changes that have taken place within the country, from how it is run and governed, to how important education is for children. India is slowly but surely changing for the better, with more and more emphasis put on helping to grow and develop poorer communities, improving the way of life of the masses, rather than just the few.

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