The assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, increasing border clashes between India and Pakistan, and the sharp devaluation of the rupee, would collectively create havoc in any society. India's other major problems-a burgeoning population, religious fundamentalism, demands for regional autonomy and a critical shortage in foreign exchange -appear to defy solutions.
However, there is some hope that these crises might help to catalyse the nation to implement some vital, albeit unpopular legislation, that not a single party or coalition has been willing to pursue since independence. The nation now has a scapegoat: the IMF, which prescribed harsh medicine in return for a substantial hard currency loan.
The end of the Gandhi dynasty signals a desperate search for a visionary-or a pragmatist-who can hold the nation together. The veteran Narashimham Rao is doing a better job holding the fort than many had predicted.
The power shift in Moscow has reduced the Indo-Soviet Friendship Treaty to an insignificant piece of paper: Yeltsin is too pre-occupied with wooing Western investment to bother about trade and defence commitments. These benefited both partners, enabled India to pay for a large part of her crude oil imports and bolster her military capabilities without having to rely exclusively on the West.
Post-devaluation budget restrictions have compelled military leaders to make drastic cutbacks on every front. This would have a positive outcome if Pakistan and China were under the same pressure to hold the ammunition and negotiate.
Originally from India, Subir Guin is an editor at Peace Magazine.