India

South Asia Turn to Illiberal Democracy

The return of the Rajapaksa brothers to power in Sri Lanka drew delighted cheers from their Buddhist nationalist supporters this weekend. But it should bring a shudder of alarm from those concerned for the island’s future.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the nation’s wartime defence chief, emerged as a comfortable winner on Sunday after a presidential poll on Saturday marked by deep ethnic divisions – signaling a likely return to the autocratic style favored by his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa, who served as president from 2005 to 2015.

More importantly, the result fits a broader and more alarming trend: the rise of illiberal democracy in South Asia as Sri Lanka joins India and Bangladesh in particular in backing nationalist strongman leaders with scant concern for the niceties of constitutional rule.…  Seguir leyendo »

Después de ocho años de deliberaciones, la Corte Suprema de la India ha emitido un veredicto que resuelve uno de los conflictos interreligiosos más extensos en la historia turbulenta del país. La decisión de la Corte no podría haber llegado en mejor momento.

El dictamen tiene que ver con un sitio en disputa en la polvorienta ciudad tempo de Ayodhya, en el estado más poblado de la India, Uttar Pradesh. Ayodhya atrajo notoriedad internacional en 1992, cuando una multitud de extremistas hindúes derribaron una mezquita musulmana, la Babri Masjid, que ocupaba un lugar prominente en una ciudad desbordada de templos. La mezquita había sido construida en los años 1520 por un noble musulmán, Mir Baqi, en nombre del primer emperador mogol de la India, Babur, en un lugar donde, según se creía tradicionalmente, había nacido el rey-dios hindú Rama, el héroe de la épica de 3.000 años el Ramayana.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hasta hace poco, los indios estaban acostumbrados a dar el crecimiento económico por sentado. Tras una década con un promedio anual superior al 9%, la economía de la India capeó la recesión mundial posterior a 2008 y mantuvo un impresionante 7% hasta 2014‑15. El ritmo de crecimiento del país parecía imparable.

Y entonces llegó el gobierno del primer ministro Narendra Modi, con su mayor error de política económica, la desmonetización, que retiró de circulación el 86% del dinero de la India de un día para el otro (con el objetivo, según Modi, de sacar a la luz patrimonios no declarados). La economía todavía no se recuperó.…  Seguir leyendo »

Srinagar, in the Indian-controlled part of the Kashmir region, was under guard last month days after India said it would revoke the area’s autonomy.CreditCreditAtul Loke for The New York Times

Over the past few weeks, we have seen a plethora of comments from Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan and senior officials of his government painting an apocalyptic picture of India’s reorganization of its province of Jammu and Kashmir — and raising the threat of conflict, including nuclear war, with India.

Under Prime Minister Khan’s watch, the people of Pakistan are reeling under economic depression, with inflation at a five-year high, national debt exceeding gross domestic product and an International Monetary Fund bailout for the 22nd time. Mr. Khan has, of course, every right to run his own economy into the ground.…  Seguir leyendo »

Con bombos y platillos, el gobierno del primer ministro indio Narendra Modi ha completado cien días de su segundo mandato. Pese al deficiente desempeño de su gobierno, Modi en persona sigue siendo inmensamente popular. Esto no presagia nada bueno para la democracia india.

Los simpatizantes del gobierno de Modi aclaman una andanada de nuevas leyes represivas (entre ellas, la criminalización de la práctica musulmana de “divorcio instantáneo” llamada talaq-e-biddat) como muestra de determinación. En tanto, la reciente derogación del estatuto especial de Jammu y Cachemira (garantizado por el artículo 370 de la Constitución de la India) se llevó a cabo en un contexto de fuertes medidas restrictivas en toda la región; dirigentes políticos fueron arrestados y se interrumpieron las comunicaciones telefónicas y por Internet.…  Seguir leyendo »

We vacation hard, my family. Ideally three weeks, and always a home rental, never a hotel. We settle in like we own the place, and have always owned the place. We start with a grocery store, a thrift shop for toys, a visit to the local library. We scope out playgrounds and children’s classes, make some friends, set up play dates.

The Google map I create during my research phase is color-coded, layered, intricate. We set up temporary lives everywhere from Greece to Japan. On our last trip, to Oahu, Hawaii, we did five grocery runs and nine loads of laundry, and spent the rest of the time washing dishes.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesters against the National Register of Citizens in the state of Assam, India, this month.CreditCreditStr/EPA, via Shutterstock

 

More than 1.9 million people living in Assam, a state of about 33 million in northeastern India, effectively became stateless recently. Many have never lived anywhere but in India, and yet late last month, the government, claiming to crack down on illegal immigration, announced that it was removing them from the National Register of Citizens. Many of them are ethnic Bengalis, but there is no evidence that they are Bangladeshi.

The process by which the register has been compiled wasn’t just flawed; it was heavily politicized, as well as rife with prejudice. Since the overwhelming majority of the nearly two million people excluded from the registry are thought to be Muslim, the effort looks far more like an ethnic purge than anything like a census.…  Seguir leyendo »

Winston Churchill decía que el nacionalismo era la ideología de los imbéciles. Y admitiendo que estuviese en lo cierto, hay que plantearse que se ha producido un enorme aumento de la imbecilidad en la política. La excitación nacionalista se ha convertido en el argumento definitivo para la conquista del poder, sin duda porque el socialismo ha fracasado y el liberalismo es demasiado racional. Nadie escapa a ello, en Europa, en EE.UU., en Brasil o en China. O en el Himalaya. Para entender lo que hoy en día inflama a Cachemira y enfrenta a India con Pakistán como dos gallos de corral, hay que remontarse a 1947, el año en que un virrey británico con prisas por marcharse dividió el Imperio de las Indias.…  Seguir leyendo »

En una maniobra desconcertante el Gobierno de Narendra Modi ha revocado la autonomía del Estado de Jammu y Cachemira, el único de mayoría musulmana en la India. Un movimiento que ha sorprendido, no tanto por la medida en sí, una reivindicación histórica del nacionalismo hindú, como por el proceder abrupto, desentendiéndose de cualquier posibilidad de diálogo con las partes afectadas.

Cachemira es un enclave disputado sobre el que concurren los intereses nacionales y geoestratégicos de tres potencias nucleares: India, China y Pakistán, cada una de ellas con reivindicaciones territoriales sobre el país colindante. El origen del conflicto se remonta a la descolonización británica del subcontinente.…  Seguir leyendo »

The family of Fayaz Ahmed Mir, a tractor driver who was arrested, consoling his sister, Zahida Jan, earlier this month. Thousands of people were imprisoned by Indian security forces after India unilaterally stripped away Kashmir’s autonomy on Aug. 5. CreditCreditAtul Loke for The New York Times

After I was elected prime minister of Pakistan last August, one of my foremost priorities was to work for lasting and just peace in South Asia. India and Pakistan, despite our difficult history, confront similar challenges of poverty, unemployment and climate change, especially the threat of melting glaciers and scarcity of water for hundreds of millions of our citizens.

I wanted to normalize relations with India through trade and by settling the Kashmir dispute, the foremost impediment to the normalization of relations between us.

On July 26, 2018, in my first televised address to Pakistan after winning the elections, I stated we wanted peace with India and if it took one step forward, we would take two steps.…  Seguir leyendo »

Le 4 août, 10 h 30 en Inde – 7 heures en Suisse. Le gouvernement indien coupe toutes les télécommunications (y compris les lignes téléphoniques locales) dans l’Etat de Jammu-et-Cachemire, et impose un couvre-feu général. Depuis quelques semaines, la population locale sait que quelque chose se prépare : touristes et pèlerins ont été appelés à quitter la région au plus vite, des milliers de soldats supplémentaires ont été envoyés sur place, la panique se répand. Les nouvelles qui me parviennent de Srinagar dénotent une inquiétude latente et une angoisse grandissante. Le gouvernement central fomente quelque chose. Toutefois, personne ne semble savoir exactement ce qui est sur le point de se produire.…  Seguir leyendo »

Soldiers on the streets of Srinagar earlier this month.CreditCreditAtul Loke for The New York Times

Every summer in Kashmir begins with the question of fate. The sun, having traveled through a long, dormant winter, stretches wide open to mark the return of color and noise, electricity and traffic, cricket, weddings, song and gluttony in our gardens. Desire and humor ride through town and for a moment we meet life, not as it is known to be but perhaps as it was meant to be, before the dice is rolled yet again: What will light the fire this time?

Around midnight on Aug. 4, the night before India’s Hindu nationalist government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi unilaterally erased Kashmir’s autonomy, Srinagar, the largest city in Indian-controlled Kashmir, my home, and other parts of the Valley of Kashmir were beginning to be sealed into a valley of soldiers and checkpoints between which laid quiet, dimly lit homes, like mine, with their internet, phone lines and cable television severed.…  Seguir leyendo »

Indian security personnel on the streets of Srinagar, Kashmir, last week.CreditCreditAtul Loke for The New York Times

As India celebrates her 73rd year of independence from British rule, ragged children thread their way through traffic in Delhi, selling outsized national flags and souvenirs that say, “Mera Bharat Mahan.” My India is Great. Quite honestly, it’s hard to feel that way right now, because it looks very much as though our government has gone rogue.

Last week it unilaterally breached the fundamental conditions of the Instrument of Accession, by which the former Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir acceded to India in 1947. In preparation for this, at midnight on Aug. 4, it turned all of Kashmir into a giant prison camp.…  Seguir leyendo »

Jawaharlal Nehru salutes the flag as he becomes independent India's first prime minister on Aug. 15, 1947, during the Independence Day ceremony in New Delhi. (AP/AP)

Were I a biographer of the Buddha or a historian of the Mughals, there would be little overlap between my politics and my profession. However, as a historian of modern India, I find there is a continual and often agonizing tension between how I think as a scholar and how I feel as a citizen. The past few days — following the government’s decision to scrap the special status of Kashmir — have been, even by Indian standards, extraordinarily tumultuous for my country and its people.

Meanwhile, I was asked to write this essay to coincide with the anniversary of my country’s independence from British colonial rule.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Aug. 8, in a 40-minute address to the nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi argued that Article 370 of the Indian constitution had prevented economic development from reaching Kashmir and had stimulated terrorism and corruption.

Three days earlier, Modi’s Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had announced the abrogation of Article 370, which had accorded the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) special status — including a separate constitution, a state flag and control over internal administrative matters. India also abolished Article 35A, part of Article 370, which stipulated that only permanent residents of J&K could own property in the region.…  Seguir leyendo »

Al primer ministro indio, Narendra Modi, le gusta practicar lo que los generales norteamericanos llaman “shock y pavor”. La última vez que Modi sorprendió al país –y en un principio fue aplaudido por su decisión y visión audaz- fue cuando anunció, con pocas horas de anticipación, la desmonetización del 96% (en valor) de la moneda de la India. La economía india todavía está sufriendo las consecuencias.

El 5 de agosto, Modi sacudió a la India con otro anuncio que puede terminar siendo el equivalente político de la debacle de la desmonetización. Después de varias décadas en las que tanto al pueblo de Jammu y Cachemira –el único estado de mayoría musulmana de la India- como a la comunidad internacional se les había garantizado que el estado mantendría su condición especial según la constitución india, el gobierno unilateralmente lo dividió.…  Seguir leyendo »

In the run-up to his election victory in 2014, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised a form of federalism that was “co-operative, not coercive.” The statement solidified a long-term trend of Indian leaders who have been willing to recognize the country’s regional diversity. Though the central government once regularly dismissed state governments — 95 times between 1966 and 1996 — such practices seemed a thing of the past. State governments became more likely to serve out their terms, and the central government seemed more amendable to seeking compromises with local leaders. Even the troubled state of Kashmir saw free and fair elections and a steep decline in violence between 2001 and 2017.…  Seguir leyendo »

India’s controversial move to pull the autonomy of the disputed region of Kashmir marks a major moment in the regional politics of South Asia. The decision, as political scientist Ahsan Butt explained here at TMC this week, was motivated by Indian domestic politics — but its implications will reach beyond India. It will force a number of countries, including Pakistan, China, and the United States, to recalibrate their foreign policies — and other key players, such as al-Qaeda, will watch developments closely.

Will this increase conflict in South Asia? Here are four key things to watch.

1. The India-Pakistan rivalry is likely to worsen

Contention over Kashmir broke out soon after the British partitioned India into two countries in 1947.…  Seguir leyendo »

India Annexes Kashmir and Brings Us Back to Partition

Pakistani kids are taught in and out of school that Kashmir is our “shah rug (jugular vein). Indians believe that Kashmir is their “atoot ang” (indispensable body part). Urdu and Persian poetry is full of paeans to the beauty of Kashmir. If there is paradise on earth, “it is this, it is this, it is this,” the 14th-century poet Amir Khusro wrote. Since the time of Partition, 72 years ago, India and Pakistan have been fighting wars over Kashmir and calling each other the occupier and the oppressor of the Kashmiris.

Occasionally, there have been halfhearted pledges that the Kashmiri people should probably get to do what they want with their paradise.…  Seguir leyendo »

Indian Paramilitary soldiers standing guard during the curfew in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, on Wednesday.CreditCreditDar Yasin/Associated Press

Kashmir, over which India and Pakistan have fought four wars since the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947, has been the battleground for competing, conflicting ideologies. For Pakistan, the Muslim majority Jammu and Kashmir was a critical missing piece in its positioning of itself as the South Asian Muslim homeland. For India, the state became the symbol of secularism for India in its post-colonial nation-building project.

But with the rise and rise of India’s Hindu nationalists, the very idea of India is being redefined and repurposed. To assert this redefining of India as a muscular, majoritarian nation state, there could have been no better place than Kashmir: a United Nations-endorsed, internationally accepted, disputed territory with a Muslim majority fighting an armed insurgency against the Indian state for the last 30 years.…  Seguir leyendo »