Barkha Dutt

Nota: Este archivo abarca los artículos publicados por el autor desde el 1 de julio de 2007. Para fechas anteriores realice una búsqueda entrecomillando su nombre.

Sher Chand, a daily wage worker employed by the local administration in Delhi, sat on the floor of his one-room shanty flanked by three toddlers, his wedding photographs spread out before him. He pulled out his phone to show me a video of the last time he saw his wife, Manju, alive. She managed a wan smile from behind the oxygen mask that was helping her breathe. “This is my Manju Begum [queen]”, he says in the video. “My wife has corona, but she’ll get well soon”.

That very night in April 2021, the oxygen supply to the intensive care unit of the hospital where Manju was admitted ran out.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Bharatiya Janata Party supporter wears a mask depicting India's prime minister, Narendra Modi, at a political event in Allahabad, India, on Feb. 25. (Ritesh Shukla/Getty Images)

The covid-19 pandemic, economic distress, a powerful protest movement by India’s farmers — in the end, none of it stood between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a round of handsome wins in state elections last week.

Except for a victory in the northern state of Punjab by relatively new politician Arvind Kejriwal — whose trademark disruptions have defined his successes — the results leave parties other than Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party in disarray. This is especially the case for the Indian National Congress, whose vote share fell to below 3 percent in the country’s most populous and politically significant state, Uttar Pradesh.…  Seguir leyendo »

India failed to save the living from covid-19. Now, it won’t count the dead

For the past 10 days, at the peak of India’s second covid-19 wave, I have traveled through remote villages in the country’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, documenting corpses that have been dumped in our holiest rivers. I have counted hundreds of bodies abandoned in mass shallow graves molded from the sand and stones of dried-up riverbanks. My count stands at 1,000 bodies at six different towns, spread across a few hundred miles.

A formal audit will reveal many more bodies are out there. But no one will order it.

First, the Indian government failed abysmally at saving lives. Now, it is refusing to count our dead.…  Seguir leyendo »

The author, with her father, Speedy Dutt. (Courtesy of Barkha Dutt)

For 15 months I have been heartbroken.

I’ve been on the front line reporting the covid -19 pandemic from across India. Heartbroken, first by witnessing the searing impact of the 2020 national lockdown on India’s poorest citizens.

My psyche was increasingly bruised as I reported from ICUs, cremation grounds and graveyards to chronicle how covid’s second wave ravaged my entirely unprepared country.

On April 27, the news hit home for me in the worst way. I lost my father, Speedy Dutt, to covid.

My father was a man of science. He was horrified at the lack of preparedness for what all experts warned was coming.…  Seguir leyendo »

A man prepares a funeral pyre for a coronavirus victim at a cremation ground in New Delhi on Thursday. (Danish Siddiqui/Reuters)

In 2020, it was the sight of millions of daily-wage workers walking on the national highways of India, fleeing the cities for their villages, that defined the covid-19 crisis in the country. Now, in 2021, the country’s blundering, callous and shortsighted response to a second wave is chillingly captured at overrun graveyards and cremation grounds.

The second wave of covid-19 is sweeping through India with the ferocity of an inferno; misplaced triumphalism, complacency and willful incompetence have brought us to our knees. And the official numbers — India just reported the world’s largest single-day spike, with more than 300,000 coronavirus cases over the last 24 hours and more than 2,100 deaths — do not even begin to tell us the truth.…  Seguir leyendo »

Barkha Dutt reports from Guru Teg Bahadur hospital in New Delhi, after authorities eased restrictions imposed as a preventive measure against the spread of covid-19, in June 2020. (Prakash Singh/AFP via Getty Images)

In normal times, a journalist should be the storyteller and not the story. But when you are confronted with a viral video that calls for you and eight other journalists to be hanged for reporting on protests by the country’s farmers, and the police in your city take no action, silence would be cowardice.

I am writing today about how extraordinarily difficult it is to be an independent journalist today in India — a thriving democracy when it comes to elections and the peaceful transition of power, but a distinctly diminishing democracy when it comes to other institutional freedoms. Instead of a compassionate compact between the citizen and the state, draconian high-handedness has become the norm rather than the exception.…  Seguir leyendo »

A farmer stands next to police barricades along a blocked highway as farmers continue to protest the central government's recent agricultural reforms on Feb. 2. (Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images)

“This flag is our life, it’s drawn from the blood and toil of our ancestors”, a farmer from Punjab told me, pointing to the Indian tricolor fluttering from the corner of his tractor as it joined a cavalcade of thousands on the morning of India’s Republic Day on Jan. 26. I hung on precariously, one foot in the air, one arm clasping the tractor’s overheated emission rod, as we rolled through a sea of people. It was a protest march, but the atmosphere was joyous. After two months of demonstrating at the capital’s borders against new legislation that farmers say will hand over the agriculture industry to oligarchs, the protesters finally had permission to cross the city limits and enter Delhi.…  Seguir leyendo »

Indian farmers gathered to support the ongoing protest against new agricultural laws. (Jagadeesh Nv/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

“I am ready to stay here for 8 months, if I have to,'' Kartar Singh said, his voice roaring with passion. Singh is one of tens of thousands of farmers who have been protesting at the borders of India’s capital against the government’s new farm legislations.

He pulled out a tiny finger-sized photograph from the pocket of his mud-soiled kurta (the Punjabi word for shirt). “Look at this”, he said excitedly, “This is my son. He works for the army and right now he is on duty at the border with China. We are all patriots here. We are ready to die for our country”.…  Seguir leyendo »

Demonstrators shout slogans and hold placards on Monday during a protest in New Delhi over the alleged gang rape and killing of a 19-year-old Dalit woman in Uttar Pradesh state, India. (EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

A rape and murder case in a village in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh, has shaken India. In a country in which 87 rapes are reported every day on average, this incident has exposed how every institution in India — the police, the media and the politicians — has failed women.

At the capital’s Safdarjung Hospital, where I first met the victim’s family, her younger brother Sandeep told me: “We have struggled alone. My sister had just gone to fetch fodder for the cattle at home. We found her lying in a pool of blood with no clothes on”.

She fought valiantly to live.…  Seguir leyendo »

Indian army soldiers at Gagangeer in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Tuesday. (Mukhtar Khan/AP)

Tens of thousands of Chinese and Indian troops are facing off in the uppermost reaches of the Himalayas, on the precipice of a possible war between the two major countries.

China’s incursions into eastern Ladakh across the Line of Actual Control that separates it from India should be seen as part of its global pattern of bad behavior. If left unchallenged, China’s provocative and perfidious military actions along the border with India could destabilize South Asia.

China’s massive buildup of troops and infrastructure in pockets across the border not only violates bilateral agreements, but also forces Indians to confront a new reality.…  Seguir leyendo »

An Indian army convoy drives toward Leh, on a highway bordering China, on June 19 in Gagangir, India. (Yawar Nazir/Getty Images)

On June 15 at 6.30 p.m., Col. Santosh Babu, an Indian army officer from the southern state of Telangana, organized 20 of his men to accompany him on what he thought was a straightforward mission. He’d been informed that the monthlong simmering tension between India and China at different points of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh was drawing to a close. Military commanders had agreed to “de-escalate"; the Chinese were to withdraw from areas inside Indian territory. His job that evening was to ensure that the two tents erected by the Chinese inside the Galwan Valley (named such by the British for Rasool Galwan, a teenage Indian trekker who helped save their lives in 1895) were taken down, per the negotiated agreement.…  Seguir leyendo »

The deaths of 20 Indian soldiers, including a commanding officer, in the first deadly clash with Chinese troops in 45 years came as Beijing and New Delhi had supposedly reached an agreement to lower the tension along the border in the mountainous region of Ladakh, high in the Himalayas.

India blames China for trying to alter the status quo at the Line of Actual Control, or the LAC. Since May 5, Chinese troops had crossed the border and squatted on Indian territory, triggering a standoff. When Indian soldiers went into the Galwan Valley to supervise what was meant to be the agreed retreat of Chinese troops from the area, they were attacked by 500 Chinese troops with stones, iron rods, nails and other objects.…  Seguir leyendo »

A migrant worker carried his 5-year-old son in New Delhi as they returned to their village during India's nationwide lockdown to limit the spreading of the coronavirus. (Danish Siddiqui/Reuters)

Saraswati Kunj is a village in the shadows of the glitzy city of Gurugram, which is southwest of New Delhi and home to multinational companies, luxury-car showrooms and plush high-rise apartments. Here in Saraswati Kunj, families live often five or eight to a single room, in tenements crisscrossed by open drains. Most residents are migrants who came to the city in search of work. Many, if not all, survive on daily wages.

Last week, a villager, Mukesh Mandal, 30, decided to sell his phone. He used to work as a house painter before the coronavirus lockdown, now entering its fifth week in India, made it impossible to find jobs.…  Seguir leyendo »

Aam Aadmi Party chief and Chief Minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal, center, his wife Sunita Kejriwal, right, and Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia visit Hanuman Mandir in New Delhi on Tuesday. (Str/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

One of India’s newest political leaders — who studied to be a mechanical engineer at one of the country’s most prestigious institutes, became a government revenue officer and started his journey in public life as an anti-corruption crusader — has just taken on and beaten the might of the Bharatiya Janata Party in a stunning political victory in Delhi.

Arvind Kejriwal is set to be Delhi’s chief minister for a third time, winning in the face of the most divisive, hate-filled campaign the national capital has seen in decades. Given that Home Minister Amit Shah, the second most powerful person in India, personally ran the war room against Kejriwal, the win is extraordinary.…  Seguir leyendo »

A woman demonstrates against the Indian government's citizenship amendment bill in New Delhi on Dec. 14. (Jewel Samad/Afp Via Getty Images)

“It’s 1947 all over again”, wrote my aunt on the family WhatsApp group as protests erupted across India against the Modi government’s divisive new citizenship law. She was talking about the year India was partitioned by British colonialists to create Pakistan, setting off a period of horrific communal strife between Hindus and Muslims. The comment may sound hyperbolic, but it accurately captures the sense of dread millions of Indians are feeling today.

A bigoted new citizenship law that privileges non-Muslims over Muslim migrants — coupled with the government’s proposal to create a national register of citizens (NRC) — has unleashed a set of forces over which the government may no longer have much control.…  Seguir leyendo »

India is celebrating the 150th birthday of Mahatma Gandhi with widespread tributes. Such was the moral force of the father of the nation’s nonviolence agitation for independence against the British, that he remains the one historical figure about whom little political disagreement is permissible.

Writing in the New York Times recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Gandhi “envisioned Indian nationalism as one that was never narrow or exclusive but one that worked for the service of humanity".

Indeed, India was never modeled on linguistic unity or religious identity, which styled so much of European nationalism. And unlike other countries in India’s immediate neighborhood, the country’s constitution does not allow for discrimination on the basis of religion, region or caste.…  Seguir leyendo »

In less than one hour, without any real debate inside India’s Parliament, the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi upended 72 years of policy and changed the course of Kashmir’s history.

The sudden decision on Monday to withdraw the historic special status to Jammu and Kashmir, constitutionally mandated under what is called Article 370, was taken while several elected representatives in the state were placed under house arrest and mobile and Internet services were cut off. The disruptive move was not preceded by any consultations with any political or civil society members. Nor was there any warning to the public about the most momentous paradigm shift India has ever seen in domestic policy on Kashmir.…  Seguir leyendo »

In just 10 years after the start of India’s life as an independent republic, its scheduled castes and tribes — historically persecuted communities — would no longer need the affirmative action policy of reserving seats for them in India’s parliament and legislative bodies.

Or so hoped Bhimrao Ambedkar, the country’s first law minister, whose unsparing indictment of entrenched social hierarchies and personal battle against caste-based untouchability made him a messiah for India’s Dalits.

Seventy years on, not just has political reservation of seats not been phased out — quotas have been reduced to the worst sort of competitive populism. The constant expansion of the affirmative action policy to a wider and wider base has diluted the historicity of the prejudice that Indian Dalits and Adivasis have faced.…  Seguir leyendo »

It’s the Indian version of President Trump’s sacking of his FBI chief. But this time, India’s episode has exposed the first signs of panic and overreach in Narendra Modi’s government. For a prime minister whose absolutist control over the bureaucracy and cabinet used to be the stuff of folklore, an open revolt by the head of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) signals an unexpected volatility in the fortunes of a strongman-led regime.

It began with a very public spat within the country’s top investigative agency between its chief (Alok Verma) and his deputy (Rakesh Asthana) over grave allegations of corruption.…  Seguir leyendo »

People rally against Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which made homosexuality illegal, in a June 28, 2009, parade in New Delhi. (Gurinder Osan/AP)

India has been bruised lately by bitter, divisive public discourse, disturbing headlines about lynchings of Muslim cattle traders, and controversial arrests of dissenters and left-leaning writers and activists. We badly needed some good news.

This week, a historic Supreme Court judgment reaffirmed India as a liberal democracy. The country’s judiciary finally washed out a 157-year-old colonial stain on the fabric of Indian democracy — a British-era law that made it a crime to be homosexual.

“Majoritarian views and popular views cannot dictate constitutional rights” said Chief Justice Dipak Misra, locating the legalization of same-sex relations within the framework of individual liberty and equality.…  Seguir leyendo »