Hartosh Singh Bal

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a campaign rally in Meerut, India, March 2019. Adnan Abidi / Reuters

On March 25, Yogi Adityanath—a saffron-clad monk from the right-wing, Hindu-fundamentalist Bharatiya Janata Party—was sworn in for a second term as chief minister of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. For two hours that morning, temple bells rang at ceremonies organized across the state to mark the occasion. It was in keeping with the image that Adityanath has sought to project: heir to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and a leading figure in the BJP’s attempt to turn India into a Hindu nationalist state.

Adityanath’s victory was a remarkable feat. He is the state’s first chief minister to win reelection in the past 30 years, and he did so despite his government’s disastrous mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic.…  Seguir leyendo »

Police using riot shields push back farm-law protesters in Delhi on 3 February. Photograph: Manish Swarup/AP

The protests against farm laws that were hurriedly passed by the Indian government in September pose the most severe challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s authority since he first came to power in 2014. Farmers fear the laws, which the supreme court has now paused, will pave the way for the entry of large corporations into the agricultural market, weakening their ability to negotiate a fair price. Several rounds of talks between farm leaders and government ministers have failed to reach a resolution, so now the government is using the large and visible presence of Sikh farmers to suggest the protests are influenced by religious separatists.…  Seguir leyendo »

Indian farmers protesting new farm laws outside New Delhi. Credit Altaf Qadri/Associated Press

Despite rain and cold, tens of thousands of angry farmers have been camping on the borders of New Delhi for six weeks. In late September, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government hurriedly passed a set of new farm laws in the Indian Parliament. Soon after, protests started in the northern Indian states of Punjab and Haryana, which constitute 3 percent of the country’s land area but produce close to 50 percent of its surplus of rice and wheat.

With the government largely ignoring the protests so long as they were largely confined to Punjab, the farmers headed to Delhi at the end of November.…  Seguir leyendo »

These Indian workers were dispersed by the police last week as they waited to leave Mumbai for their villages by bus after losing their jobs during the coronavirus lockdown. Credit Divyakant

India has been under a lockdown to stem the spread of the coronavirus for two months. On March 25, the first day of the lockdown, India had 618 confirmed cases and 13 deaths.

As India is easing the lockdown now, it has more than 151,000 cases and more than 4,300 deaths — a much smaller number compared with the fatalities in the United States and various European countries, with a much smaller population. The cases rose from 100 to 100,000 in the United States in 25 days, in Britain in 42 days.

In India, which had the longest and strictest lockdown, the rise in cases from 100 to 100,000 took 64 days.…  Seguir leyendo »

Pages of a Quran burned by rioters in a mosque in northeast Delhi on Feb. 26. Credit Atul Loke for The New York Times

Forty-six people have been killed, more than 250 injured and four mosques set on fire in the sectarian violence in Delhi that coincided with President Trump’s visit to India.

The violence, which lasted over three days and nights and was mostly directed at Muslims in northeastern areas of Delhi, was not surprising. Over the past six years, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his colleagues in the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, their armies of social media trolls and a vast majority of India’s television networks have consistently been building an atmosphere of hatred, suspicion and violence toward India’s Muslim minority.

The pogrom in Delhi follows in the wake of the discriminatory citizenship law that Mr.…  Seguir leyendo »

After Terror, Polarizing Politics in India

On Feb. 14, a 19-year-old drove a vehicle filled with explosives into a convoy of Indian paramilitary forces in Indian-administered Kashmir and killed 49 soldiers. Jaish-e-Muhammad, or the Army of Muhammad, a Pakistan-based terrorist group, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Over the past five years, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party has governed India and been part of the local government in Kashmir as well, thus controlling India’s policy approaches to the disputed, conflict-torn region.

Mr. Modi embraced a militaristic approach and shunned a political process involving dialogue with the separatists in Kashmir. Consequently, the number of civilian and security personnel killed in the region have increased, and a growing number of young Kashmiris, like Adil Dar, the 19-year-old suicide bomber, joined militant groups.…  Seguir leyendo »

Members of United Hindu front rallied to demand the deportation of Bangladeshi and Rohingya Muslims in New Delhi last Sunday.Credit Sajjad Hussain/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

On July 30, four million residents of the Indian state of Assam were effectively stripped of their nationality after their names were excluded from the recently formed National Register of Citizens.

Indian authorities claim to have initiated and executed the process to identify illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, which shares several hundred miles of its border with Assam, but it has exacerbated fears of a witch hunt against the Bengali-origin Muslim minority in the state.

Assam is the most populous of India’s northeastern states. As part of a labyrinthine bureaucratic exercise, 32.9 million people and 65 million documents were screened over five years at a cost of $178 million to ascertain which residents of Assam are citizens.…  Seguir leyendo »

Lawmakers from India’s main opposition Congress party and the Janata Dal (Secular) protested against Karnataka governor Valubhai Vala and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in Bangalore, India, this month. Credit Abhishek N.Chinnappa/Reuters

A fair and independent electoral process, an independent judiciary, a Parliament with a noisy opposition, a relatively free press and an army that has stayed away from politics have defined India since it adopted its Constitution in 1950.

India stood apart in the developing world as a country where the Constitution served as the basis for the operations of the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. But it has taken just four years of the Bharatiya Janata Party government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the country to realize how fragile that achievement was, how close it has come to being subverted.…  Seguir leyendo »

Rahul Gandhi at a campaign meeting in Dakor, India, this month. Credit Amit Dave/Reuters

On Saturday, Rahul Gandhi, the heir of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, is to formally take over as the president of the Indian National Congress. His family has run the Congress party for four generations. His father, Rajiv Gandhi; his grandmother Indira Gandhi; and his great-grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru governed India as prime ministers for a combined total of 38 years.

Mr. Gandhi, 47, is succeeding his mother, Sonia Gandhi, who has been at the helm of the party for the past 19 years. The Nehru-Gandhi dynasty outrivals the Kennedys’ for longevity. Mr. Gandhi is taking over at a time of decline in the fortunes of the Congress party, which suffered a devastating defeat by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party in 2014 and controls a mere five out of 29 state governments.…  Seguir leyendo »

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath of Uttar Pradesh making a surprise inspection at the Hazratganj police station last month in Lucknow, India. Credit Deepak Gupta/Hindustan Times, via Getty Images

On a recent evening I was watching the video of a news feature a Hindi language television network broadcast about Yogi Adityanath, who was elected chief minister of India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, last month. The frame shows a man with a shaved head cloaked in saffron, the color of Hindu monasticism, sitting on a saffron-backed armchair. A voiceover described the scene: “Whoever comes before him sits at his feet, but he makes sure every supplicant goes away satisfied; he does not discriminate.”

Until he became chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Mr. Adityanath, 45, was primarily known as a firebrand Hindu leader who had created a volunteer force, the Hindu Yuva Vahini, or Vehicle for Hindu Youth, a group repeatedly accused of stoking and participating in religious violence.…  Seguir leyendo »