Congress leader Rahul Gandhi with supporters during the party's Bharat Jodo Yatra march in the Samba District on January 22. Waseem Andrabi/Hindustan Times/Getty Images

By the time he had walked 400 kilometers in the wet and humid Indian monsoon season, the soles of Vaibhav Walia’s feet were covered in giant blisters. His colleague, Lhingkim Haokip, had been diagnosed with a minor fracture in her leg. Walking alongside them, I experienced something I’d never previously heard of — blisters developing inside my blisters. Every step was beyond agony.

All of us kept walking. We had a long way to go.

Walia, 36, Haokip, 48 and I are members of India’s oldest political party, the Indian National Congress. Along with tens of thousands of party cadre, we were part of the Bharat Jodo Yatra (Unite India March), a marathon trek on foot across the length of India, with a route totaling over 4,000 kilometers.…  Seguir leyendo »

A researcher from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras works on Jan. 4 inside a laboratory in Chennai, India. (Idrees Mohammed/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Can India create a higher education system worthy of its aspirations as a full-fledged knowledge economy?

That’s still to be determined. But India is on the verge of taking a major, long-awaited first step in the right direction: With the recent release of draft rules by the country’s higher education regulator — the University Grants Commission — India is moving closer to allowing high-quality foreign universities to set up campuses to help meet the country’s growing appetite for advanced education.

Crucially, under the rules, which will have to be approved by Parliament, foreign universities would get the freedom to decide their own curriculums, fix fees and hire faculty at terms of their choosing.…  Seguir leyendo »

India's government said it has blocked videos and tweets sharing links to a BBC documentary about Prime Minister Narendra Modi's role in 2002 sectarian riots. (Arun Chandrabose/AFP/Getty Images)

India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology filed a draft amendment last week to a recent media law that could have sweeping consequences for free expression in the world’s largest democracy. According to the proposed language, any information marked as “fake” by the fact-checking division of India’s Press Information Bureau will need to be taken down by “online intermediaries”, a category that would include social media companies.

This latest move potentially casts a pall over journalism in the country. Two industry associations — the Editors Guild of India and Digipub, a group of news sites in India — have published strong statements arguing that the amendment could give arbitrary and discretionary power to the Indian government.…  Seguir leyendo »

New Delhi Is Not Done With the Kremlin Yet

After Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, many of the world’s major democracies lined up to condemn Russian aggression and rally to Ukraine’s defense. India did not. It abstained on key votes at the United Nations and refused to denounce its longtime partner. The backlash that ensued was striking; numerous governments expressed frustration with India for its reluctance to condemn the indefensible.

Some observers have suggested that, as a result, India may be changing course; they see signs that it may finally be considering breaking with Russia. In September, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Russian President Vladimir Putin that “today’s era is not of war”—remarks that seemed to admonish the Russian president and which U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘As Rahul Gandhi (right) has argued, the streets are the only arena left for India’s opposition.’ Photograph: EPA

How does an opposition politician seize the initiative in India, a vast and populous country with an increasingly authoritarian ruling party and state? Rahul Gandhi has an answer, and it involves a pair of trainers.

Bharat Jodo Yatra, a “journey bringing India together”, is the name of a long march that Gandhi, a prominent member of the Indian National Congress party, has been leading from the country’s southernmost tropical tip to its icy north. He has covered about 1,900 miles (3,000km) so far, walking 12-15 miles every day, with hundreds of others drawn from his party, as well as civil society members and celebrities.…  Seguir leyendo »

Indian soldiers near the disputed border with China in the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh. Money Sharma/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

On a freezing December day on a remote Himalayan mountain ridge, Indian and Chinese soldiers fought with sticks, stones, clubs and bare fists. Scores were bloodied and injured. The incident, according to the Indian authorities, occurred on Dec. 9, when about 300 soldiers from the People’s Liberation Army of China attempted to occupy Yangtse, a mountainous border post on the disputed India-China border in the Tawang area in northeastern India.

Soldiers from China and India, nuclear-armed Asian neighbors, have been clashing on their disputed border with an alarming frequency owing to the rise of aggressive nationalisms in President Xi Jinping’s China and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s India.…  Seguir leyendo »

Allá en el Himalaya

Pobablemente no sepan situar en un mapamundi los estados de Arunachal Pradesh, Aksai Chin o Uttarkhand. Sin embargo, fue en estos estados indios del Himalaya donde dio comienzo, en 1962, un conflicto fronterizo entre los dos países más poblados del mundo. La línea divisoria, más de 5.000 kilómetros de montaña, fue inicialmente trazada por los colonizadores británicos, pero desde su respectiva independencia nunca ha sido aceptada ni por India ni por China. La prensa internacional rara vez se hace eco de este conflicto porque, después de un violento enfrentamiento en 1962, los dos ejércitos, que cohabitan cara a cara, se contentan con insultos y puñetazos cuando las patrullas se cruzan demasiado cerca.…  Seguir leyendo »

La división demográfica inminente de la India

Todo está dado para que la India termine un año tumultuoso con una nota festiva: celebra 75 años de independencia y el inicio de su presidencia del G20. Pero otro hito es inminente. Expertos de Naciones Unidas estiman que el 14 de abril de 2023, la India oficialmente superará a China y se convertirá en el país más poblado del mundo.

Éste no necesariamente es motivo de celebración. China ocupa aproximadamente 9,6 millones de kilómetros cuadrados, comparado con los 3,3 millones de kilómetros cuadrados de la India, lo que hace que la densidad de población de la India sea casi tres veces mayor que la de China.…  Seguir leyendo »

With China’s status as the “workshop of the world” marred by rising political risks, slowing growth, and increasingly untenable “zero COVID” policies, no country seems more poised to benefit than India. In May, The Economist ran a cover story about India, asking whether this was the country’s moment—and concluded that yes, it probably was. More recently, Stanford economist and Nobel laureate Michael Spence declared that “India is the outstanding performer now”, noting that the country “remains the most preferred investment destination”. And in November, Chetan Ahya, Morgan Stanley’s chief Asia economist, predicted that the Indian economy will account for one-fifth of global growth over the next decade.…  Seguir leyendo »

New iPhone 14 models at an Apple event in Cupertino, Calif., on Sept. 7. (Jeff Chiu/AP)

If the Indian economy has an Achilles’ heel, it is the country’s manufacturing sector. Despite rapid economic growth since pro-market reforms began in 1991, the share of manufacturing in India’s gross domestic product has remained stubbornly low, at about 15 percent. (In China, it has been about 30 percent in recent years.) Indian growth has been driven by services, most famously in information technology.

The lack of a large, competitive manufacturing sector has consequences. One statistic more than any other captures the consequence of an underdeveloped manufacturing sector: Just over 40 percent of India’s total workforce is still employed in agriculture and allied activities that account for only 18 percent of GDP.…  Seguir leyendo »

Newly elected Indian National Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge speaks in New Delhi on Oct. 26. (Rajat Gupta/Shutterstock)

In nearly 137 years, India’s Congress Party — the main, albeit severely diminished, opposition to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party — has held only six internal elections. This month, in its first such contest in more than two decades, it missed a crucial opportunity to reset.

Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi rose to power in 2014, the Congress Party has been crushed under the wheels of the BJP juggernaut. It went from having 206 seats in Parliament in 2009 to 52 seats a decade later, and it leads governments in just two of the country’s 28 states. The party that once led the fight for the country’s independence is struggling for relevance.…  Seguir leyendo »

Crackdowns, lawsuits and intimidation: the threat to freedom of expression in India

The income tax officials arrived at the Bangalore office of the Independent and Public-Spirited Media Foundation on Wednesday, September 7, and stayed until 4:30am on Friday. They combed through records, took statements from senior staffers and removed the organisation’s laptops and mobile phones to clone the data. As they worked through the first night, the chief executive, Sunil Rajshekhar, caught a few hours’ sleep in his office.

Across India, in the capital of Delhi, tax inspectors were simultaneously swooping on two more non-profits: Oxfam India and the Centre for Policy Research, a sober think-tank known for holding debates and publishing papers on such worthy topics as health and nutrition, federalism, and the regulation of India’s urban trees.…  Seguir leyendo »

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Xiamen, China, September 2017. Pool / Reuters

In June 2020, the Chinese and Indian militaries clashed in the Galwan Valley, a rugged and remote area along the disputed border between the two countries. Twenty Indian and at least four Chinese soldiers were killed, and debate flared about the long-term implications of the skirmishes. Some analysts believed the Sino-Indian relationship would soon return to normal, with regular high-level meetings, increased Chinese investment in India, defense exchanges, and multilateral coordination. Record-high bilateral trade and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s trip to India in March 2022 seemed to support the notion that the two countries could set aside the border dispute and keep strengthening ties.…  Seguir leyendo »

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, September 2022. Sputnik Photo Agency / Reuters

India’s initial reluctance to condemn Russia for its war against Ukraine has been the subject of much debate and criticism in the West. In mid-March, Jen Psaki, then the White House press secretary, urged India to reflect on “where you want to stand when history books are written at this moment in time”. Numerous world leaders and diplomats have expressed impatience with India for effectively abetting a Russian agenda by remaining on the side-lines.

Some analysts and former policymakers in strategic circles in New Delhi insist that such a reproach is unfair and fails to appreciate India’s nuanced position on the war.…  Seguir leyendo »

Decía el politólogo norteamericano Francis Fukuyama, el pasado 5 de septiembre en la Fundación Rafael del Pino, que el liberalismo y la democracia están hoy de capa caída, y que los últimos años muchos países han evolucionado hacia modelos autoritarios. La India está considerada como la mayor democracia en el mundo, 815 millones de electores en 2014, y desde ese año dirigida por Narendra Modi, líder absoluto del partido nacionalista BJP, que ha puesto orden en casa, pero con un régimen de rasgos populistas y de hinduismo excluyente.

Como modesto observador de la política india, (viví en este país de 2006 a 2009), creo que subsisten dos «heridas» abiertas que están en el origen del Estado indio: el pasado colonial (aunque el Raj británico sólo duró en realidad entre 1854 y 1947), y la sangrienta división del país («The Great Divide») con ocasión de la independencia, propiciada por la negativa de Jinnah y su Liga Musulmana de formar parte de una India unida independiente.…  Seguir leyendo »

In the United States — where reproductive rights are under attack and there has never been a female president — people routinely make assumptions about India’s women. For years, I have argued with foreign correspondents who have looked at us through the prism of subjugation and stereotypes, pointing out that our complex realities defy orientalist tropes.

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But now, I am speaking out as an enraged Indian woman. We have been betrayed, not just by the unsparing use of rape as a weapon of intimidation and violence, but also by the way our bodies have been turned into political battlefields.…  Seguir leyendo »

Pongamos fin al encaprichamiento de la India con Rusia

Durante un debate parlamentario en abril expresé mi preocupación por la relación que la India mantiene con Rusia. Mis palabras fueron recibidas con silencio y rostros serios, pero lo ocurrido en los últimos cinco meses no hizo más que fortalecer mis argumentos.

El debate estaba relacionado con la guerra en Ucrania. Mientras comentaba que me parecía deplorable la reticencia india a llamar las cosas por su nombre, reconocí que el país dependió durante mucho tiempo del Kremlin para abastecerse de armamentos y repuestos para la defensa, y agradecí el prolongado apoyo ruso en cuestiones fundamentales como Cachemira y las tensiones fronterizas con China y Pakistán, pero señalé también que la guerra en Ucrania y las sanciones de Occidente habían debilitado considerablemente a Rusia.…  Seguir leyendo »

El pasado 15 de agosto, la India celebraba el 75º aniversario de su independencia del Imperio Británico. Un acontecimiento que pasó relativamente desapercibido en Europa —salvo en el Reino Unido, por obvias razones—, pero que ilustra bien el momento en el que se encuentra el milenario país sudasiático. Durante semanas, la ciudadanía se preparó para la celebración y proliferaban la publicidad y las ofertas comerciales ligadas a esta fecha. El Gobierno de Narendra Modi aprovechó para lanzar una campaña de incitación al fervor nacional, centrada en la tiranga —la bandera tricolor, naranja, blanca y verde con la rueda del dharma en el centro—.…  Seguir leyendo »

The newly inaugurated national emblem installed on the roof of the new Indian Parliament building. Sajjad Hussain/Agence France-Presse, via Getty Images

Prime Minister Narendra Modi stood last month atop India’s nearly completed new Parliament, built to mark the country’s 75 years of independence, and pulled a lever. A sprawling red curtain fell back to reveal the structure’s crowning statue. Many across India gasped.

The 21-foot-tall bronze icon — four lions seated with their backs to one another, facing outward — is India’s revered national symbol. The beasts are normally depicted as regal and restrained, but these looked different: Their fangs bared, they seemed angry, aggressive.

To Mr. Modi’s critics, the refashioned image atop the Parliament — a project that was rammed through without debate or public consultation — reflects the snarling “New India” he is creating.…  Seguir leyendo »

A train packed with Muslim refugees left the New Delhi area for Pakistan in September 1947. Associated Press

In 2019 I received in the mail a small vinyl-covered booklet in light blue, embossed with three golden lions. It is my Overseas Citizen of India (O.C.I.) Card, a privilege for which I qualify as the daughter and granddaughter of people who “belonged to a territory that became part of India after August 15, 1947” — India’s Independence Day, 75 years ago.

My grandparents, who remained Indian citizens despite emigrating to the United States, were fervent proponents of the ideals held by Mahatma Gandhi and India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, for a secular Indian republic committed to democracy and the equality of all people.…  Seguir leyendo »