Chapter 3 looks at the impressive economic achievements of Brazil under
President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, particularly in the midst of the
2008–09 global financial crisis that Brazil weathered well. The decade to
2010 saw Lula surprise many with an openness to capital, and an export boom
particularly to China meant economic stability as the reward. New approaches
to social policy, a wave of job creation and the expansion of credit lifted
millions of Brazilians out of poverty, creating a new consumer class.
Chapter 1 looks at the rise of Bolsonaro and explores the relationship
between his military and political careers. While Brazil’s democratic
politicians kept their distance from the military dictatorship that had run
Brazil between 1964 and 1985, Bolsonaro had served as an army captain in the
1970s and 1980s and extolled the virtues of military life. The army,
particularly his relationships with lower ranks, had shaped Bolsonaro’s
personality, and as a politician he lobbied in favour of military interests.
But whereas politicians and the media tended to dismiss Bolsonaro as an
eccentric irrelevance, his pro-military views were not so unpopular among
ordinary Brazilians who were overall less opposed to the armed forces than
their elected representatives.
Chapter 6 continues to chart the fall of the ruling Workers’ Party, with the
Lava Jato corruption scandal meaning that many Brazilians now saw Rousseff
at the centre of a corrupt administration. The president was impeached and
Michel Temer installed as her replacement. Former president Lula was
convicted and imprisoned in 2018 for his apparent role in the corruption.
The political stage was now set for the entrance of the outsider, Jair
Chapter 13 looks at the divisions within the Bolsonaro administration during
its first year and a half in office. Tensions between ideological extreme
right-wing activists and the movement’s socially conservative base, and more
pragmatic conservatives from the private sector and within the armed forces,
were a constant feature of Brazilian politics throughout 2019, and became
even more serious as a result of the pandemic. Bolsonaro underplayed the
seriousness of the disease and opposed local leaders who sought to impose
quarantines in order to diminish its impact. Conservative politicians such
as Joao Doria, the governor of São Paulo, Wilson Witzel, the suspended
governor of Rio de Janeiro, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, the government’s first
health minister, and Sergio Moro, the justice minister, all supported
Bolsonaro in 2018 but will almost certainly oppose him in 2022. Bolsonaro’s
idiosyncratic approach to the pandemic also brought him and his supporters
into acute conflict with the Supreme Court. In May 2020 these battles
threatened to lead to an institutional crisis.
Chapter 8 focuses on the growing importance of paramilitary militias,
particularly in the state of Rio de Janeiro. Over the past twenty years
these militias have controlled a growing number of poor neighbourhoods, and
for many poorer Cariocas (residents of Rio de Janeiro) they are a cause of
greater concern than the drug traffickers they were set up to combat. Their
links with the police and local politicians make reform a complex challenge.
Rio also highlights a broader national problem: the rise in the number of
killings by police officers and growing support among police officers for
the repressive public security strategies advocated by Bolsonaro. In 2018
more than twice as many police officers were elected to the Brazilian
Congress as in 2014, increasing the political weight of the so-called bullet
lobby in Brazilian politics. At the grass roots, substantial numbers of
military police provide firm support for Bolsonaro, constituting in the
words of one writer the president’s “shock troops”.
Chapter 12 takes a look at another divisive issue: China. Over the last
twenty years, Brazil has become increasingly dependent on the Chinese
market. Bolsonaro’s more radical supporters want to reduce or even break
links with China, arguing that Brazil’s national sovereignty is at risk. But
China is comfortably Brazil’s biggest trading partner, and the agribusiness
and mining interests worry that they could lose markets. At the same time,
China’s investments in energy and telecommunications are strategically
important for Brazil. Unwinding these connections would carry a heavy
economic cost and would be politically controversial. During the coronavirus
pandemic, tensions with China grew. Bolsonaro’s supporters blamed China for
the virus and opposed the use of the vaccines developed by Chinese
companies, but during 2020 China’s rapid recovery meant that it has become
an even more important market for Brazil’s commodity exports.
Chapter 14 examines the sudden and unexpected rise in Bolsonaro’s popularity
during the second half of 2020 and assesses his prospects for the rest of
his four-year term and beyond. The temporary emergency grant paid to 67
million Brazilians dramatically increased the spending power of the poorest
Brazilians. At the end of 2020, opinion polls suggested that Bolsonaro’s
popularity in the north, north-east and centre-west of the country had
increased, even though his COVID-19 denialism and shoddy management of the
pandemic alarmed many private-sector and middle-class supporters. A new
political alliance with a group of conservative parties known as the big
centre or the Centrão has helped shore up the president’s support in the
legislature and headed off the risk of impeachment. These advances, however,
were not based on solid ground. As this book went to press – in late March
2021 – the rapid rise in coronavirus cases and deaths brought the conflicts
between Bolsonaro’s radical right-wing base and more mainstream
conservatives out into the open. Bolsonaro came under fierce pressure from
Brazil’s powerful business elite and his new congressional allies to change
his stance on the country’s health crisis. Impeachment was yet again in the
air. Bolsonaro’s political future seemed far from assured.
To be independent, or not to be independent? That is the question1
The conclusion briefly summarises the roles of Maharaja Hari Singh and Sheikh Abdullah, and their respective impacts. It discusses some mistakes made by India in 1947, which instigated the Kashmir dispute – and some desires by people for an independent J&K or an independent Kashmir – and the possibility that either may occur, including as a result of a ‘black swan’ event or the inevitable border changes that have long occurred in South Asia. Ultimately, the book concludes that India is most likely to retain Kashmir, partly because of its strengths, and Pakistan’s inability to force India out, but also mainly because of some weaknesses that the disgruntled Kashmiris have, particularly their disunity and inability to decide what status they actually want for Kashmir. Meanwhile, India has suppressed the Kashmiri identity, but it will again re-emerge. Also, independence might be a good thing for Kashmir as it would end the India–Pakistan struggle over it, with the result that this region could then become a bridge between both nations, not an object of contestation.
This chapter examines the British Indian Empire, relevant aspects of its administrative structure, and the positions of India’s politicians and princes in the hasty and purgative – for the British, at least – decolonisation processes of 1947. It explains that, during 1947, there were differing ideas about the Indian princes’ legal positions and post-British options, including in relation to independence or otherwise, considerable politicking by politicians – all of whom were Indians until 15 August 1947 – and much uncertainty and upheaval for many subcontinetals, including J&K-ites. One of the most significant of these J&K-ites was Maharaja Hari Singh, the person charged, and empowered, to decide J&K’s post-British future by making an accession. As this chapter explains, the British decolonisation of their substantial Indian Empire in 1947 enabled him to seriously contemplate and envisage independence for J&K.
This book examines the topic of an independent ‘Kashmir’ and why this political aspiration to be self-governing and free from coerced subordination to another nation remains unsatisfied. It focuses on how Maharaja Hari Singh, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and Muslim Kashmiris have envisioned or sought independence for Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), or for their particular region within this disputed entity. Hari Singh and Sheikh Abdullah were the two most significant figures in J&K in the twentieth century. They also were political rivals, united briefly in 1947 by not wanting J&K to join Pakistan and by an indecisive desire for an independent J&K. After acceding to India, Singh quickly became redundant. Through a tumultuous political career, Abdullah strove for independence or maximum autonomy for J&K. In 1988, disenchanted Muslim Kashmiris surprisingly began a violent anti-India uprising seeking azadi (independence, freedom) for their region or for it to join Pakistan. Kashmiris remain severely disgruntled and this insurgency continues to pose challenges for India. By concentrating on these two men and this insurgency, the book provides a focused, in-depth history of J&K from the mid-1920s, when Hari Singh became J&K’s ruler, to the present time, when many Kashmiris still crave azadi from India. While an ‘independent Kashmir’ is a long envisioned aspiration, the book concludes that it is likely to remain incomplete while India and Pakistan exist in their current structures, while India is strong and unified, and while Kashmiris are disunified and uncertain about what status they want for their homelands.