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India: An Unlikely Democracy

India: An Unlikely Democracy

Today, India turns 71. On August 15, 1947 the UK officially turned over its colonial holding in British India and brought into existence the two separate countries of India and Pakistan. Just five years later, in 1952, voters across the newly-born nation of India cast ballots in its first ever election. Some 176 million citizens, 85 percent of whom could neither read nor write, were eligible to participate in the vote.


Since then, India’s democracy has withstood the test of time. It’s in many ways an unlikely story.

The sprawling nation of more 1.3 billion people is riven by divisions of language, class, and religion. The constitution recognizes 22 separate major languages that are spoken by at least one million people. A majority Hindu nation, India also boasts the world’s second largest Muslim population, outstripped only by Indonesia. The vestiges of the hierarchical caste system, long since outlawed, continue to limit people’s educational, career, and life prospects.

Despite these hurdles, the country has experienced seven decades of almost uninterrupted democratic rule. Today, around 5 percent of Indians live in extreme poverty, down from a high of 60 percent just four decades ago. The administration of current Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made important strides in expanding access to electricity, healthcare, and sanitation.

There is plenty of work left to do. The share of income accruing to the top 1 percent, a broad measure of inequality, is the highest since tax collection began in 1922. Many find worrisome current Modi’s push to move India away from its secular roots toward a new brand of democracy based around identification with its Hindu cultural and religious history. The government’s recent threat to strip 4 million people, many of whom are migrants from the predominantly Muslim Bangladesh, of their citizenship demonstrates the danger.

Despite these challenges, at a moment when democracy is increasingly in question and under threat around the world, India’s largely successful effort over the past seven decades to reconcile the competing identities and passions of over 15 percent of the world’s population is a staggering accomplishment.

Carbon has a bad rep, but did you know it's a building block of life? As atoms evolved, carbon trapped in CO2 was freed, giving way to the creation of complex molecules that use photosynthesis to convert carbon to food. Soon after, plants, herbivores, and carnivores began populating the earth and the cycle of life began.

Learn more about how carbon created life on Earth in the second episode of Eni's Story of CO2 series.

The long-simmering conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over a region called Nagorno-Karabakh erupted over the weekend, with more than 50 killed (so far) in the fiercest fighting in years. Will it escalate into an all-out war that threatens regional stability and drags in major outside players?

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On Tuesday night, you can finally watch Trump and Biden tangle on the debate stage. But you TOO can go head to head on debate night .. with your fellow US politics junkies.

Print out GZERO's handy debate BINGO cards and get ready to rumble. There are four different cards so that each player may have a unique board. Every time one of the candidates says one of these words or terms, X it on your card. First player to get five across wins. And if you really want to jazz it up, you can mark each of your words by taking a swig of your drink, or doing five burpees, or donating to your favorite charity or political candidate. Whatever gets you tipsy, in shape, or motivated, get the bingo cards here. It's fight night!

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Watch Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

A new war breaking out between Armenia and Azerbaijan, not a new conflict. They've been fighting over contested territory that used to be a part of the Azeri Soviet Socialist Republic. Nagorno-Karabakh was an autonomous region. It was taken by the Armenians. It's a mostly Armenian enclave in terms of population. It's been contested since that military fight. There's been ongoing negotiations. The Azeris a number of months ago tried some shelling. They got pasted. This time around, it's war and for a few reasons.

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Join us tomorrow, September 29th, at 11 am ET for a GZERO Town Hall livestream event, Ending the COVID-19 Pandemic, to learn about the latest in the global hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine.

Watch here at 11am ET: https://www.gzeromedia.com/events/town-hall-ending-the-covid-19-pandemic-livestream/

Our panel will discuss where things really stand on vaccine development, the political and economic challenges of distribution, and what societies need to be focused on until vaccine arrives in large scale. This event is the second in a series presented by GZERO Media in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Eurasia Group.

Apoorva Mandavilli, science & global health reporter for the New York Times, will moderate a conversation with:

  • Lynda Stuart, Deputy Director, Vaccines & Human Immunobiology, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Rohitesh Dhawan, Managing Director, Energy, Climate & Resources, Eurasia Group
  • Mark Suzman, CEO, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Gayle E. Smith, President & CEO, ONE Campaign and former Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development

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