“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 »
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 »
On Friday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi finally spoke out on the two gang rapes gripping India this week — one of an 8-year-old and the other of a teenager. Millions of Indians have been shocked and saddened that the men accused of raping the children were being protected instead of prosecuted. Modi unequivocally promised that no one would be spared. On the same evening, a legislator accused in one of the rape complaints in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh, was arrested. In the other case in Kathua, Jammu and Kashmir, two state ministers of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were sacked for defending the suspected rapists.… Seguir leyendo »
Dear India: Where are our candlelight marches, our outrage and our mass protests? Why have we been so muted in our response to the reported gang rapes of two girls, an 8-year-old child and a teenager? And no, our lazy tweets and our commiserating hashtags do not count.
This week, two cases of rape and murder — one of a shepherd girl in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir, the other in Unnao, in India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh — have been moments of acute national shame. They have proved how the powerful conspire to enable and protect sexual abusers. Worse, they have exposed the ugliest underbelly of India.… Seguir leyendo »
The small eastern Indian state of Tripura, with a population of just 3.6 million people (roughly the same as Connecticut), rarely gets much media attention. This weekend was different. The tiny, isolated state became a high-profile gladiatorial arena for India’s culture wars, in a direct collision between the right and the left. The right won resoundingly — and not just electorally.
A first-ever election victory in Tripura by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) unseated the communists who have ruled the state for 25 years. The BJP will also form the government in the nearby and predominantly Christian state of Nagaland — a major feat for a party once tagged as party of Hindu nationalists confined to the Hindi-speaking plains of northern India.… Seguir leyendo »
Indians are furious over a $1.8 billion bank fraud case involving Nirav Modi, a billionaire and the man whom Vanity Fair called (in an astonishingly poor sense of timing) “the atelier of India’s most ambitious luxury jewelry brand.”
The diamond merchant, who boasts showrooms from Mumbai to Macau, and whose ornaments have bedazzled such stars as Kate Winslet and Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra, is accused of conniving with employees of Punjab National Bank (PNB), the country’s second largest state-owned bank, to create fake letters of undertaking against which he and his uncle Mehul Choksi were able to raise millions of dollars in loans from banks outside India.… Seguir leyendo »
Children are at the heart of the celebrations that commemorate India’s Republic Day, the day the country officially adopted its brilliantly progressive Constitution on Jan. 26, 1950. They come freshly scrubbed and brimming with wide-eyed enthusiasm to march in the customary public parade. The bravest among them are given awards by the prime minister. They are usually the most excited attendees in the stands on a misty January morning as India puts her full military might on display.
The events of this week have cast somewhat of a shadow over the celebrations. Millions of otherwise proud Indians felt betrayed, enraged and disappointed as we watched thugs armed with sticks and stones and bottles of petrol turn their fury on children and assault a school bus ferrying toddlers home.… Seguir leyendo »
In an election campaign that has made Donald Trump look like a crazy, self-imploding clown, here are two statements the Republican presidential nominee has made that are indisputably true. The first was his observation that airports in the United States are like those in a (so-called) “Third World country.” The second was his comment that the India-Pakistan equation is a “very, very hot tinderbox.”
Indians and Pakistanis who agree on nothing these days found themselves nervously giggling in unison at Trump’s offer to “mediate” between the two countries. But unwittingly the bombastic candidate actually flagged one of the foreign policy challenges that could necessitate the next U.S.… Seguir leyendo »