The year 2020 was one of multiple challenges for India and for the Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party government. The year began with mass protests against the Citizen (Amendment) Act, which minority Muslims saw as threatening their citizen rights and was widely felt to be unconstitutional, and ended with mass protests by farmers against market-oriented farm reforms. The coronavirus pandemic arrived in January and by the end of the year had caused the world’s second-largest caseload (10.3 million infections) and 149,000 deaths. The government responded with a strict lockdown, resulting in a severe economic contraction, although the economy and foreign investment picked up in the last quarter, buoyed by vaccine hopes and a partial economic recovery. On the foreign front, Chinese incursions in June along the Line of Actual Control, the de facto border, led to a tense standoff that remained unresolved at year-end. Politically, the BJP remained not only entrenched but somewhat further empowered against a weak and divided opposition, with Modi’s popularity ratings high.
The major development in India in 2019 was the national election which returned Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party to power with a larger majority and which, along with post-election ideological assertiveness, poses the question of whether India’s party system is a new one-party hegemony, this time of the Bharatiya Janata.