For the past few weeks, the specter of war has hung over South Asia. But buried under the headlines about terrorist attacks, counterstrikes and fighter jet skirmishes is the threat of forced displacement, which now hangs over the heads of millions of indigenous peoples across India.

In February, India’s Supreme Court ruled that indigenous and local households whose land claims had not yet been upheld — roughly 2 million households, or an estimated 10 million people — would be evicted from their homes by July 24.

The court then put a hold on the evictions until its next hearing in July, providing a brief respite to residents who are largely impoverished and cannot afford to move without grievous harm — but also extending their anxiety.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Kashmiri being comforted after his house was destroyed in a battle in Tral, south of Srinagar, on Tuesday. Credit Dar Yasin/Associated Press

India and Pakistan don’t have to be on the brink of war. Negotiators painstakingly put together a way out of the crisis and a road map for resolution of the Kashmir dispute in the mid-2000s, and we need to get back to it.

Kashmir has been disputed since 1947, with India holding around two-thirds and Pakistan one-third of its territory and both claiming all of it. The unresolved future of the largely Muslim region has led to three wars between the two countries, while frustration with Indian misrule in Indian-controlled Kashmir led to an insurgency supported by Pakistan in 1990.

India and Pakistan have alternated between phases of intense hostility and moments of calm since 1947.…  Seguir leyendo »

Las tensiones entre la India y Pakistán están en su nivel más alto en décadas, y muchos temen que estos dos vecinos nucleares estén al borde de otra guerra por la región disputada de Cachemira. Pero este último estallido es diferente a los anteriores.

El conflicto por Cachemira comenzó en 1947. Cuando Pakistán dio apoyo a un movimiento insurgente musulmán en el Principado de Jammu y Cachemira, su gobernante, el maharajá Hari Singh (hinduista) decidió ceder el territorio a la India a cambio de ayuda militar. Pero como la población del estado era predominantemente musulmana, Pakistán protestó y envió tropas, a lo que la India respondió con tropas propias.…  Seguir leyendo »

Indian policemen wait for the return of Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman on 1 March. Photo: Getty Images.

Asia’s prominence in geopolitical theatre was on full display last week as an escalation in tensions between traditional rivals India and Pakistan unfolded simultaneously with a Hanoi summit meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un.

The nuclear summit took place against a backdrop of India’s surprise air attack across the border in Pakistan, against what it described as ‘terrorist camps’, prompting a retaliatory strike from Pakistan a day later. When two nuclear weapon states threaten to go to war, the world has to intervene.

The nuclear summit itself was a failure, prompting the US president to turn his attention to India and Pakistan.…  Seguir leyendo »

Indian police officers in Srinagar, Kashmir, in 2016 in the wake of protests over the killing of a separatist leader. Credit Dar Yasin/Associated Press

For the past few decades, Kashmir has largely been referred to in news reports and policy papers as a “low-intensity conflict,” as if someone were leisurely making a lamb stew. But for those of us who call the region home, it means living with the constant ache of our painful history, a despair and rage about an oppressive present, and an uncertain future.

Political discontent has simmered in Kashmir since the partition of India in 1947. India and Pakistan, which each control parts of the region and claim the whole, have fought three wars over it. India eroded the autonomy of the part of Kashmir it controlled by imprisoning elected leaders and appointing puppet administrators.…  Seguir leyendo »

Students chant slogans under the shade of national flag, after Pakistan shot down two Indian military aircrafts, according to Pakistani officials, during a march in Lahore, Pakistan 28 February 2019. REUTERS/Mohsin Raza

What happened exactly?

On Tuesday, 26 February, India claimed that its air force had targeted “the biggest training camp of the Jaish-e-Mohammed … in Balakot”. The strikes – the most significant airspace violations in nearly 50 years – followed a deadly 14 February suicide car bombing in Pulwama in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), which had been claimed by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed militant group. India said it launched a “preventive strike” based on intelligence that Jaish intended to attack again. At a press conference, Foreign Secretary VK Gokhale said Pakistan “failed to take any concrete action against terrorists” and that the strike on the training facility had “killed a large number”.…  Seguir leyendo »

“We will surprise you. Wait for that surprise” was the message Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor, the director general of Pakistan Inter-Services Public Relations, had for his neighbors in India on Tuesday evening. It was a testy moment after an even testier day, one that served only to heighten existing tensions between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan.

Even as President Donald Trump landed in Hanoi, Vietnam, for a landmark summit intended to tame nuclear-armed North Korea, the other side of Asia seemed poised for its own potential war — and without an intervening power, such as the United States, interested in calming things down.…  Seguir leyendo »

Pakistani supporters of Pasban Democratic Party celebrate the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) for shooting down Indian fighter jets, in Karachi on February 27, 2019

After 40 Indian paramilitary soldiers were killed by a suicide attack earlier this month in Indian-controlled Kashmir, a poignant cartoon started doing rounds on Indian social media: It showed an armed Indian soldier, pressed back-to-back with a group of civilians. The civilians, giggling over their phones, appear to be pushing the soldier into battle.

It was symbolic of the power being exercised on social media: calls for blood for blood, attack for attack. With elections a couple of months away, India’s ruling party BJP needs to show its strength.

Now, as tensions escalate between India and Pakistan, two nuclear-armed states, even more pressure is being applied by commentators on both sides on Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp.…  Seguir leyendo »

Students in Mumbai, India, celebrated on Tuesday after the Indian Air Force claimed to have hit a terrorist training camp in Pakistan, killing 300 militants. Credit Bhushan Koyande / Hindustan Times, via Getty Images

Pakistan and India, two nuclear armed states, have fought many wars since our partition in 1947. Our militaries have faced off in 1947, 1965, 1971 and 1999. Between those wars, there have been numerous skirmishes, cross-border strikes and accusations of covert support for terrorism.

I have never seen my country at peace with its neighbor. But never before have I seen a war played out between two nuclear-armed states with Twitter accounts.

On Feb. 14, a suicide bomber hit a convoy of paramilitary forces in Indian-controlled Kashmir. Jaish-e-Mohammad, a militant group based in Pakistan, claimed responsibility for the attack. India accused Pakistan of orchestrating the bombing.…  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 »

People shout slogans during a protest against the attack on a bus carrying Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel in south Kashmir, in Jammu 15 February 2019. REUTERS/Mukesh Gupta

What happened in the Pulwama attack and how has India responded?

A 14 February suicide car bombing claimed by the Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed killed more than 45 security personnel in Indian-administered Kashmir’s Pulwama district, some 30 km from the state capital Srinagar. The attack, which targeted a convoy of the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPC), was the deadliest terror incident in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) for over three decades. Vowing revenge and accusing Pakistan of complicity, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government has warned Islamabad that support for jihadist proxies will no longer be tolerated.…  Seguir leyendo »

Members of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCC&I) protest in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir, Friday. (Farooq Khan/EPA-EFE/REX)

Last Thursday, a 20-year-old Kashmiri by the name of Adil Ahmed Dar blew up a convoy of 45 Indian soldiers in the area of Pulwama, located in the Jammu and Kashmir region.

It was the heaviest loss encountered by India in the region since the armed rebellion began in 1988. Battle cries are mounting; Kashmiris are simultaneously being targeted and punished in a number of Indian cities. In the midst of jingoistic fervor in India, the root cause of violence in Kashmir — the Indian occupation — is being completely overlooked.

Dar had joined the militancy in March 2018, under the Jaish-e-Muhammad, whose leader, Masood Azhar, is based in Pakistan.…  Seguir leyendo »

The offices of SigTuples, an AI startup focused on improving healthcare, in Bangalore. Photo: Getty Images.

With its brand of ‘AI for All’India is seeking to position itself as a leader in the global AI race, innovating, testing and deploying solutions to address development challenges in the global south. The government’s official think tank, Niti Aayong, released a paper last year identifying five sectors for AI intervention in India – healthcare, agriculture, education, smart cities and smart mobility – and the government recently announced the creation of a National Centre on Artificial Intelligence.

But AI is not a silver bullet that can magically or autonomously address complex social problems. In fact, it can exacerbate existing socioeconomic inequities, lead to a concentration and collusion of power and even reconfigure the fundamental tenets of democracy.…  Seguir leyendo »

Le premier ministre indien Narendra Modi est arrivé triomphalement au pouvoir en 2014, mais une succession de revers électoraux en 2018 indique qu’il n’est plus assuré d’une réélection automatique en 2019. Le revirement du cycle politique est largement dû à un retournement du cycle économique, là où on attendait pourtant le moins un échec du premier ministre, tant son programme de réformes et son volontarisme lui avaient accordé la confiance des milieux d’affaires locaux comme étrangers, et d’une jeunesse minée par le sous-emploi.

Les « Modinomics » [mesures de Modi pour relancer l’économie indienne] reposaient fondamentalement sur un engagement fort pour faire sauter les deux goulets d’étranglement de l’économie indienne : d’une part des infrastructures extrêmement médiocres, d’autre part un environnement des affaires peu attractif.…  Seguir leyendo »

India Can Hide Unemployment Data, but Not the Truth

India has a job crisis, and the government would rather you didn’t notice. Last month, it hastily amended the Constitution to set aside 10 percent of all government posts for the “economically weak.” But it defined the “economically weak” as anybody from a household earning less than 800,000 rupees, roughly $11,200, a year or owning a very tiny bit of land. And as the sociologist Sonalde Desai has argued, that covers about 95 percent of India’s population.

A quota that includes virtually everybody means little. But the new 10 percent quota is even worse than that: It contains a caveat that explicitly leaves out individuals belonging to India’s disadvantaged castes, who benefit from other affirmative action measures.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesters calling for the resignation Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India in September over allegations of corruption in a deal for fighter planes. Cedit Adnan Abidi/Reuters

Corruption in India is pervasive, omnipresent and multifarious, especially in the nexus between politics and business. As India heads toward its general election, expected to be held in April and May, Prime Minister Narendra Modi finds himself embroiled in controversy around one of the country’s largest arms purchase contracts: a murky 7.8 billion euro weapons deal to purchase 36 Rafale fighter planes from France.

Indian opposition led by Rahul Gandhi, the president of the Congress Party, is on a vigorous offensive, charging Mr. Modi with bypassing institutions and procedures for defense acquisitions, causing a huge loss of public funds, compromising national security, using the multibillion arms deal to offer a lucrative contract to a billionaire ally and covering up corruption by refusing to disclose the pricing details.…  Seguir leyendo »

India is now ground zero in a struggle over the instrument that so enhanced its democracy but now threatens to undermine it: the Internet.

In late December, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government proposed new rules empowering it to order Internet companies like Facebook and Twitter to remove content from their platforms within 24 hours. The government broadly defines the rules as affecting “intermediaries,” which could potentially mean all Internet-based companies, from social media platforms to search engines to e-commerce platforms. The criticism was swift from Internet giants, who are calling the move a form of censorship and are mounting a legal battle.…  Seguir leyendo »

Mi niñez arribó tarde. Nací en una familia empobrecida en una cantera en Rajastán y aprendí a romper rocas antes de poder deletrear mi nombre. Mis padres habían caído en la servidumbre por deudas, y yo lo iba a ser en cuanto pudiera utilizar un martillo. Nos pagaban poco y apenas podíamos permitirnos comer. Mis más tempranos recuerdos son ser el esclavo de otra persona: mi aliento era mío, pero no mi cuerpo y espíritu.

Esa era la tragedia que mi familia, y generaciones de nuestros ancestros, se vio obligada a pasar. Milagrosamente pude escapar. La mayoría de los trabajadores por deudas nunca lo logran en India.…  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 »

Policemen stand guard near the state secretariat anticipating protests following reports of two women of menstruating age entering the Sabarimala temple, one of the world’s largest Hindu pilgrimage sites, in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India, last week.CreditCreditR S Iyer/Associated Press

Every year, for 41 days in November and December, millions of barefoot pilgrims dressed in black and carrying bundles of offerings on their heads trek through the deep forest along the Pampa River and up the Sabari hills in the southern state of Kerala. At one of the summits is a shrine dedicated to the Hindu god Ayyappan, who, in his avatar as a prince, is often said to have defeated a terrifying demoness at this very spot.

The pilgrimage to the Sabarimala shrine, believed to be centuries old, has strict rules. Devotees are expected to observe 41 days of ritual austerities beforehand, trimming neither hair nor nails, and forgoing meat, alcohol and sex.…  Seguir leyendo »