India is emerging on the international stage as both an aspiring voice for the global south and a strategic partner for Western democracies that perceive it as a counterweight to China. Its rise is accompanied by regional and domestic conflicts. The traditionally restive western border with Pakistan remains on edge, as the Kashmir conflict continues to fester. The northern border with China has been unstable since the deadly clash of April 2020, with tensions between the two Asian giants increasingly enmeshed in the U.S.-China rivalry. An ethnic conflict is raging in the state of Manipur, bordering Myanmar, threatening to destabilise the country’s north-eastern region. Meanwhile, concerns are growing about the steady erosion of India’s democracy. Crisis Group monitors and analyses India’s foreign policy and domestic conflicts with the aim of providing policymakers effective frameworks for better understanding and addressing these internal and external dynamics.

Read our CrisisWatch entries on India-Pakistan (Kashmir) here.

CrisisWatch India

Unchanged Situation

Opposition parties decried crackdown ahead of national polls starting in April, ethnic conflict in Manipur in far north east rumbled on and tensions with China surfaced over disputed territory in north east. 

Concerns rose about unlevel playing field ahead of election. Election Commission 16 March announced dates for national polls, which will be held in seven phases from 19 April to 4 June. Signs emerged raising concern that polls may not be entirely free and fair. Notably, federal investigative agency 21 March arrested leader of opposition Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for allegedly accepting bribes in exchange for granting licenses to alcohol contractors; AAP claimed no wrongdoing and accused govt of attempting to weaken opposition ahead of elections, as protesters rallied in capital New Delhi. Opposition Congress Party 21 March alleged govt agencies had frozen all of its bank accounts, making it impossible to fight election, calling it “assault on democracy”. 

Insecurity in Manipur state persisted. Security forces 8 March rescued junior army officer abducted in Thoubal district. Ahead of national elections, Manipur’s chief electoral officer 16 March said no special voting arrangements had been made for estimated 10,000 displaced in neighbouring Mizoram state and some 60,000 displaced in Manipur’s relief camps. Indigenous Tribal Leaders forum 26 March pleaded with Kuki-Zo tribal people not to comply with state govt’s order to deposit licensed arms ahead of national elections, asserting necessity to defend “our right to life and land”.    

Security forces targeted Maoist militants. In Chhattisgarh state (centre), security forces 15 March killed three Maoists and 27 March killed six Maoists in Bijapur district. In Maharashtra state (west), security forces during 25-hour operation 19 March killed four Maoists in Gadciroli district. 

India-China relations remained tense. During visit to Arunachal Pradesh state (north east), PM Narendra Modi 9 March remotely inaugurated strategically-important tunnel close to disputed border known as Line of Actual Control. China, which claims sovereignty over Arunachal Pradesh, 11 March issued statement saying it “strongly deplores” visit. India 19 March asserted state “was, is and will always be an integral and inalienable part of India”. 

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In The News

8 Nov 2023
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Praveen Donthi

Senior Analyst, India
8 Sep 2023
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Praveen Donthi

Senior Analyst, India
25 Aug 2022
This regional rivalry between India and China is only bound to get more intense as it gets enmeshed with the great power rivalry between the US and China. TRTWORLD

Praveen Donthi

Senior Analyst, India

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