If the Indian government wanted to become the laughing stock of the world, it couldn’t have done so more instantly and effectively than by banning the BBC documentary India’s Daughter on Delhi’s December 2012 gang-rape. Not only was the film watched by millions the world over; it became a cause celebre for feminists, defenders of free expression and even progressive Hollywood actors.
It may appear to be an unfortunate coincidence to many that serious dissension should break out in India’s political wunderkind, the Aam Aadmi Party, within a few weeks of its spectacular victory in the Delhi Assembly elections, which stopped the Narendra Modi juggernaut.
ऐसा 25 साल में दूसरी बार हुआ जब एक उभरती हुई राजनीतिक शक्ति ने भारतीय जनता पार्टी का बढ़ता रथ रोका है.
It’s a telling comment on the state of the Indian National Congress that a four-member committee it appointed four months ago to devise a strategy to rejuvenate the party and fight the Modi government has turned out a non-starter.
t’s not easy being a public-spirited activist in India these days. If you’re a right-to-information campaigner, you run the risk of being physically eliminated, as has happened to more than 20 activists in recent years. If you’re a conscientious whistleblower, you could be victimised—like AIIMS vigilance officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi—or murdered, like Shanmugam Manjunath.
India’s new Modi government trains its guns on environmental activists.
There isn’t just one big story in the Delhi election; there are two. The first is the staggering victory of the Aam Aadmi Party, which polled 54.3 percent of the vote, even higher than the Janata Party’s 52.6 percent in the landmark post-Emergency “wave” of 1977.
''A stunning victory in Delhi’s state assembly for the anti-establishment Aam Aadmi party has brought Narendra Modi down to earth Aam Aadmi Party win election in Delhi''
The president roped once-non-aligned India into a strategic alliance, but only by bolstering the Modi government, with its religious intolerance and pro-corporate policies.
More than two weeks on, the debate on the barbaric killings of Charlie Hebdo journalists and the freedom of expression has become a conversation across time-zones and political, cultural and legal divides. This is probably the first time that such a debate is taking place in a world connected by Facebook, Twitter and U-Tube.
"Mike Marqusee (61), who died of cancer in London last week, was one of the finest products of the Anglo-American world’s “‘60s generation”, with a brilliant intellect and a passionate commitment to social justice and human values."
The people of Sri Lanka have made the cause of democracy proud by handing a humiliating defeat to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, ending 10 years of authoritarian rule. Mr Rajapaksa called an early election, and lost to his former health minister Maithripala Sirisena-despite his last-minute attempts to rope Bollywood stars into his campaign and desperate appeals to vote for the "known devil".
If there’s one thing that the 102nd Indian Science Congress, held in Mumbai, will be remembered for, it’s the outrageous claims made at it about the achievements of science in ancient India, including the assertion that Indians between 7000 and 6000 BC knew how to make airplanes that could undertake “interplanetary travel”, and fly backwards and sideways, as well as forwards!
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s national leadership has officially confirmed that it’s in talks with the People’s Democratic Party to form a coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir. This proposal is endorsed by a surprisingly large number of self-avowed well-wishers of the Kashmiri people, as well as cynical “realists” who believe that such a coalition of extremes, between India’s unitarian-nationalists and the Kashmir Valley’s “soft-separatists”, is J&K’s best chance of having a stable government which paves the way for its greater integration into India. The parties’ respective core-bases, Jammu and the Valley, they argue, “complement” each other. Arithmetically too, the two — with respectively 25 and 28 seats — would command a solid majority in the 87-seat Assembly.
By allying with the BJP, Mufti risks becoming Kashmir’s version of the Palestinian Authority’s Mahmoud Abbas, powerless against Israel’s occupation, yet legitimising it and dependent on it. The PDP will almost certainly suffer a rout soon. But it will have helped Modi to strut about the world for having fully coopted J&K’s Muslims in an “inclusive” arrangement, and whitewashed his own terrible record in Gujarat and beyond. What a coup that would be for the RSS-BJP!
Some commentators have deplored the conferment of India’s highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, on Madan Mohan Malaviya, but many have welcomed its award to the Sangh Parivar’s first Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. The latter include even Amartya Sen, himself a Bharat Ratna and Nobel Laureate, who called Mr Vajpayee a “great statesman” while expressing some reservations about his policies, but praising the “human quality” behind “his leadership”.
A hallmark of the Modi government’s first 200 days in office is the beginning of the Sangh Parivar’s Long March through the Institutions of the State, in particular bodies that deal with education and culture. The Parivar’s agenda is to influence their working to reflect its own specific brand of “cultural nationalism” by engineering long-term changes in their programmes and priorities, and making key appointments of personnel who will loyally execute such changes.
It’s humanly impossible not to be revolted by the killing of 134 innocent children in Peshawar by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and not to feel a surge of empathy with Pakistani citizens. This barbaric attack galvanised unprecedented solidarity demonstrations and vigils in South Asian cities.
India can make this a unique moment for South Asia too by reaching out to Pakistan with earnest proposals for cooperation—whether in fighting terrorism, aggressively promoting trade, or stabilising Afghanistan. This entails a sea-change in the official mindset—from regarding Pakistan as an enemy to be vanquished, to a potentially friendly neighbour, with whom contentious issues can be peacefully resolved. India must not squander this opportunity.
The Sangh Parivar has made a habit out of raking up divisive issues which most people thought were settled at the time of Indian Independence or shortly thereafter. For instance, India adopted Parliamentary democracy in preference to the presidential system after much debate. But the unitarian, pro-centralisation Bharatiya Janata Party has always been partial to the presidential form despite its unsuitability for a huge and diverse country like India.