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Kapil Sibal: 'The future of India'

The Congress Party member and minister of law and justice discusses what is at stake in the country's upcoming election.

Last updated: 29 Mar 2014 09:56
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India is the world's largest democracy. Over 814 million eligible voters are heading to the ballot box in a general election spread over several weeks beginning on April 7.

Violence against women is not something that can be dealt with with law alone. Law can punish those who violate women, but ultimately it's the mindset that must change. And the mindset of the male in India, if you really look at their relationship with women, is not entirely reasonable towards women. And I think unless we have a social transformation and a reformation, I don't think this violence will stop.

Kapil Sibal

For the past 10 years a coalition government, called the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), has been in power led by the Congress Party and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The main opposition party is the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a right-wing Hindu nationalist party led by Nahrendra Modi.

A controversial man himself, Modi is accused by his opponents of failing to protect Muslim citizens in his home state of Gujarat when he was chief minister there during communal riots in 2002.

The current government has been credited with transforming the economy and opening up India's markets to foreign investment in the airline, pharmaceutical and auto industries. However the country still faces great challenges.

After companies in the telecommunications and energy sectors won favourable contracts with the government, there were investigations - even prosecutions - of government officials as a result.

Over half of India's population still survive on less than a dollar a day. The cabinet has responded with ambitious schemes to guarantee a right to food and employment.

And there has been an upsurge in violence by left-wing Maoists, or Naxals as they are known, in the east of the country. They have killed scores of security personnel and political leaders. It is a battle for hearts and minds that state and regional governments are still not winning.

And at the heart of the election campaign, two issues - women's rights and corruption - are dominating the country's news media.

The high-profile rape cases that have brought women's security into focus are perhaps the most emotional of all issues. The gang rape and death of a medical student in the nation's capital in 2012 shook the country and forced politicians to tighten the laws on rape. 

So, what is at stake during this election? What needs to be improved in India? What are the main challenges facing the country? And how will this election impact the international community?

We explore all this as Kapil Sibal, India's minister of law and justice and a member of the Congress Party, talks to Al Jazeera

Talk to Al Jazeera  can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Saturday: 0430 and 1930; Sunday: 1930; Monday: 1430 .  

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Al Jazeera
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