En el Estado indio de Karnataka, el gobernador está favoreciendo al Partido Bharatiya Janata (BJP) con el propósito de formar un gobierno, a pesar de que una coalición opositora ha ganado más escaños en la legislatura estatal. La controversia que actualmente se desarrolla atrajo la atención sobre la forma en que una posición constitucional se ha reducido a estar al servicio de los intereses políticos del partido gobernante de la India.

Las instituciones públicas fuertes que operan por encima del tire y afloje de la refriega política son vitales para cualquier democracia. Sin embargo, en los últimos cuatro años, cada una de esas valiosísimas instituciones en la mayor democracia del mundo, la India, se ha visto amenazada, ya que el asertivo y chovinista gobierno hindú del BJP trabaja para consolidar su propia autoridad.…  Seguir leyendo »

Narendra Modi visits the Terracotta Warriors exhibition on a visit to China in 2015. Photo: Getty Images.

Between them, Xi Jinping and Narendra Modi have clocked up a little over a decade as leaders of their respective countries. Both men — China’s president and India’s prime minister — have captured international attention by disrupting perceptions of their countries’ roles and prospects. But their fates, and how confidently they deal with each other and the world, rest on the success or failure of their domestic programmes.

In many ways, Xi Jinping seems the more secure of the two. He was reappointed secretary of the Chinese Communist Party at the 19th congress last October. Following last month’s constitutional changes removing time limits on the presidency, he looks increasingly likely to stick around beyond 2023, when his current term ends.…  Seguir leyendo »

A vigil for 8-year-old Asifa Bano in Jammu, India, on April 14.CreditJaipal Singh/EPA, via Shutterstock

India is sliding toward a collapse of humanity and ethics in political and civic life, as the recent reports of the rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl from a seminomadic Muslim community in the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir reveal. Politicians from India’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party defended the men accused of the crime and ignited a furious debate about the fundamental character of the country.

The child was abducted in January and imprisoned for a week in a temple, where she was drugged, starved and raped repeatedly before being murdered. Her body was thrown into the forest. At the time the crime passed without much comment beyond the local press.…  Seguir leyendo »

Supporters of India’s main opposition Congress party participate in a candlelight vigil in Ahmedabad on Friday to protest the rapes of an 8-year-old girl and teenager. (Amit Dave/Reuters)

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 »

India's delegation enters for the opening ceremony of the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Photo: Getty Images.

India’s approach to the regional groupings of which it is a member is self-evidently instrumentalist. With limited resources each of the organizations or groups which India promotes serve a particular economic, political or cultural purpose.

Thus, IBSA (comprising India, Brazil and South Africa) comprises a group of like-minded, Southern democracies, useful to align approaches in forums such as the UN. The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) offered a means of showcasing not political alignment but economic potential. Regional forums – the Indian Ocean Rim Association, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation – each offer different means for India to develop or demonstrate its regional role.…  Seguir leyendo »

Indian farmers during a protest in Mumbai in March. Thousands of them walked more than 100 miles to protest the country’s agrarian crisis.CreditIndranil Mukherjee/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

On March 6, about 40,000 subsistence farmers and landless peasants, many from impoverished indigenous tribes, marched to Mumbai from Nashik, a city 112 miles northeast of India’s commercial capital. The sea of humanity flooding the highway to Mumbai captured national attention and focused it on the problems tormenting the marchers and tens of millions of other farmers in the country’s two-decade-long agrarian crisis.

Most of the farmers in the protest owned less than five acres each. Many marchers who couldn’t afford shoes walked barefoot in the searing heat. Some of them had wrapped their soles with sellotape to prevent blisters. They were headed for Azad Maidan, a traditional venue for political protests in South Mumbai.…  Seguir leyendo »

An Indian social activist holds a placard in February 2017 during a protest against a rape at Hauz Khas village in New Delhi. (Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty Images)

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 »

A woman had her irises scanned for inclusion in India's national biometric database, at a village in Rajasthan, in 2013.CreditMansi Thapliyal/Reuters

The Indian government is in thrall of the dazzle and promise of technology, seeing in it a vehicle to overcome the inefficiencies of its humongous bureaucratic apparatus. Shortly before coming to power in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi positioned himself as a digital governance evangelist.

A few months into his tenure, the Indian government began using biometric devices to tell on government employees who didn’t turn up for work. The state of Gujarat, which Mr. Modi had ruled for more than a decade, took to using biometrics to red-pen students who skipped school. Mr. Modi has argued that digital payments will check “black money” — the Indian term for unaccounted, often illegally acquired wealth — and other forms of corruption.…  Seguir leyendo »

Last week three journalists were killed in rural areas of India. You probably haven’t heard much about their deaths — or their lives — since they all worked for small local outlets, covering powerful interests who may have decided it was easier to murder them than to face their questions.

Their killers are unlikely to face justice. The issues the three journalists covered so passionately will continue to plague Indian society. And observers will mourn the slow decline of free expression in the world’s largest democracy.

Navin Nischal and Vijay Singh were run over by a car in Bihar state. Sandeep Sharma, a television journalist in Madhya Pradesh, was riding his motorcycle when he was hit by a truck.…  Seguir leyendo »

Participants at an AI event in Bangalore. Photo: Getty Images.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is high on the Indian government’s agenda. Some days ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Wadhwani Institute for Artificial Intelligence, reportedly India’s first research institute focused on AI solutions for social good. In the same week, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant argued that AI could potentially add $957 billion to the economy and outlined ways in which AI could be a ‘game changer’.

During his budget speech, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced that Niti Aayog would spearhead a national programme on AI; with the near doubling of the Digital India budget, the IT ministry also announced the setting up of four committees for AI-related research.…  Seguir leyendo »

La India sensacionalista

Cuando el mes pasado Sridevi Kapoor, la superestrella de Bollywood, murió a los 54 años de edad ahogada en la bañera en un hotel de Dubái, la cobertura de su trágica muerte fue una nueva muestra de lo mal que están los medios en la India. Sridevi (quien tras una pausa de quince años, hizo un regreso espectacular a la pantalla grande con dos grandes éxitos en los últimos seis años) llevaba una vida modesta y convencional con su marido, el productor de cine Boney Kapoor, y sus hijas adolescentes. Ni su forma de vestir ni su conducta daban pasto a los tabloides o material para especulaciones escabrosas.…  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 »

El nuevo ministro de educación de la India, Satyapal Singh, declaró hace poco que la teoría de la evolución por selección natural de Darwin “no es científica”, porque “nadie, incluidos nuestros ancestros, ha dicho o escrito que vio a un mono convertirse en un ser humano”. Esta declaración sorprendente es sólo la última andanada del ataque que ha emprendido el gobierno actual contra la ciencia.

Según la constitución de la India, desarrollar “el temperamento científico, el humanismo y el espíritu de curiosidad y reforma” es deber de todos los ciudadanos (e implícitamente, responsabilidad del Estado). El primer gobernante de la India, Jawaharlal Nehru, sostuvo que a diferencia de la religión (que tiende a producir “intolerancia, credulidad y superstición, emocionalismo e irracionalismo” y un “temperamento de persona dependiente y esclava”) el temperamento científico es “el temperamento de un hombre libre”.…  Seguir leyendo »

A billboard featuring Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra promoted the store of luxury jeweler Nirav Modi earlier this month in Mumbai. (Punit Paranjpe/AFP/Getty Images)

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 »

¿La India está a punto de recuperar su magia? Mientras las exportaciones del país se aceleran gracias a la expansión económica global simultánea de hoy, los efectos negativos de la desmonetización de noviembre de 2016 de los billetes de alto valor y la implementación el pasado julio de un nuevo impuesto sobre los bienes y servicios (IBS) están esfumándose. En tanto se puedan contener las presiones macroeconómicas de los precios altos del petróleo, y se puedan manejar las fuertes correcciones de los precios de activos elevados, la India va camino a recuperar su condición de economía principal de más rápido crecimiento del mundo.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesters demand justice on Nov. 7, 2017, after a gang rape in Bhopal, India. (EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

India’s recently released 2018 Economic Survey gushes about its economic progress. At the same time, it also notes the country’s 63 million “missing” women and 21 million “unwanted” girls. Why has India’s rising economic prosperity not delivered more gender equality?

Since 1991, when India embarked on economic liberalization, the size of its economy has more than quadrupled. It’s now estimated at about $8 trillion, making it the world’s third-largest economy, behind China and the United States. India also continues to be ranked among the fastest-growing economies in the world, often competing with China for the top spot. In a recognition of India’s stellar economic performance, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered a keynote address at the 2018 Davos summit.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hundreds of farmers sit in pits as a protest against government plans for land acquisition in October 2017. Photo By Vishal Bhatnagar/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

In 2016 India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, pledged to double farmers’ incomes by 2022. While the pledge may have been aspirational, reliant on good weather as much as government policy, the 2018/19 budget demonstrates the depth of the government’s commitment to the agriculture sector.

There’s clearly a political edge to any moves to bolster agriculture: any solace to rural India will be described as political opportunism until most people in India are not engaged directly or indirectly in the agricultural sector.

And with a number of state elections coming up this year and a general election next – suggestions that it will be brought forward have increased in volume since the budget – a politically-astute budget is unsurprising.…  Seguir leyendo »

Members of a Hindu organization demand the ban on the Bollywood film “Padmaavat” in Mumbai on Jan. 20. The film has opened to thin crowds after months of often violent pre-release protests, including death threats for the lead actress amid rumors that the film depicted a relationship between a Hindu queen and a Muslim sultan. (Rajanish Kakade/AP)

In late November, a state-level media coordinator from India’s ruling party, the BJP, offered a bounty of 10 crore rupees (about $1.5 million) for the beheadings of a Bollywood actress and a director of the feature film “Padmaavat,” which opened Jan. 25.  The movie (originally “Padmavati”) depicts the life of legendary 14th-century queen Padmini and has sparked right-wing Hindu groups to denounce the would-be blockbuster, citing an alleged romance between the Hindu queen and a Muslim king. Last week, Delhi schoolchildren crouched on the floor as a mob threw rocks at their bus in Gurgaon in protest of the movie. Since Indian filmgoers are only now seeing the film, originally slated to release last year, much of the outrage has been based on the film’s speculated contents.…  Seguir leyendo »

Indians protest the film “Padmaavat” in Sikar, Rajasthan state, on Jan. 25. (AFP/Getty Images)

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 »

Cuando el Reino Unido se convirtió en el primer país del mundo en experimentar una urbanización de gran escala en los siglos diecinueve y principios del veinte, el proceso transformó su economía y su sociedad. Hoy India vive una transformación similar, solo que a un ritmo 100 veces mayor. Para 2030, su población urbana llegará a los 600 millones de personas, el doble de la de Estados Unidos.

Para India, una urbanización rápida es de particular importancia para aprovechar al máximo la ventaja demográfica que significa su joven población. Con 12 millones de personas que se unen cada año a la fuerza laboral, su potencial es enorme.…  Seguir leyendo »