In April 1999 the BJP-led government lost its majority in parliament when a member of the coalition withdrew, and new elections were held in October. A multiparty coalition known as the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which was led by the BJP, won a clear majority of seats in parliament. BJP leader Vajpayee was sworn in as prime minister a third time.
Vajpayee’s government continued to vigorously pursue economic reforms, which had begun in the early 1990s under the Congress (I) Party. The reforms achieved remarkable economic growth in India through the 1990s and into the early 21st century. Many state-owned enterprises were sold to the private sector, and foreign investment poured into the country. Information technology became a vital sector of the economy, leading to the development of new high-tech centers. India’s per capita income increased, helping alleviate poverty. However, the economic growth mostly benefited India’s middle and upper-middle classes.
After India’s nuclear weapons tests in 1998, a series of high-level talks between India and the United States resulted in an easing of sanctions that had been imposed due to the tests. U.S. president Bill Clinton made a highly successful visit to India in the spring of 2000. The Clinton administration worked hard to strengthen ties with India. Then starting in 2004, the administration of U.S. president George W. Bush focused on negotiating what was called a nuclear deal, under which India agreed to international inspection of its nonmilitary nuclear sites, and support for nuclear arms control measures, in return for removing the penalties imposed for having nuclear weapons.
However, the deal allowed India to continue its refusal to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). The U.S. Senate ratified the agreement in October 2008. Most U.S. nonproliferation experts objected strenuously to the deal because they believed it undermined the NPT. See also Nuclear Weapons Proliferation.
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, in the United States had a significant impact on the relations between India, Pakistan, and the United States. India quickly offered to work with the United States in attacking the al Qaeda terrorist network and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, while Pakistan, under General Pervez Musharraf’s military rule, made an abrupt change in policy and withdrew its support for the Taliban, allowing U.S. forces to use Pakistan as a base for their operations against the Taliban. India blamed Pakistan for supporting Kashmîr-based terrorists, who staged an attack on the Indian parliament in New Delhi in December 2001. Taking advantage of the new global consensus on combating terrorism, India aggressively moved hundreds of thousands of troops, on hair-trigger alert, to the India-Pakistan border. Pakistan responded by massing its troops. By mid-2002 the two countries had amassed an estimated 1 million troops along their shared border. The military buildup raised concerns in the international community that the conflict in Kashm?r could escalate into full-fledged war between the two nuclear powers.
However, intense international diplomacy helped defuse the crisis. In 2003 India and Pakistan agreed to restore full diplomatic ties and made the first high-level government contacts in almost two years. Tensions between India and Pakistan increased, however, due to a deadly series of bombs set off in Indian cities, and they became volatile after the
November 2008 terrorist attacks on a commuter rail line and two luxury hotels and other locations in Mumbai, India’s financial center. The terrorist group that carried out the attacks originated in Pakistan. The one gunman known to have survived reportedly told Indian authorities that he was a member of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, a group based in Pakistan that had been blamed for a number of terrorist attacks within India and India-administered Kashm?r. The Pakistan government condemned the attacks and denied any involvement. Indian officials did not explicitly blame the Pakistan government, but there was great uncertainty about how the attacks would impact peace negotiations between India and Pakistan. "India" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.
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