India 2016 – 2019

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India/Pakistan/Kashmir 2019
(Al Jazeera) Kashmir News
India & China and more
India and Pakistan 2019

The planet doesn’t need money, it needs behavioural change: Sonam Wangchuk
Ladakh doesn’t need the same kind of industrialisation as rest of India, he says
(The Week) Sonam Wangchuk has stopped ironing his clothes. This renowned innovator and Magsaysay Award-winning environmentalist feels smart crease is an indulgence one can do without in order to help the planet. As he says, the power saved from ironing his clothes could power four rural households.
The co-founder of Himalayan Institute of Alternatives, Ladakh believes that as his homeland enters a new phase as Union Territory, it will need sensitive handling because solutions made in New Delhi often do not work in the fragile ecosystem of the trans Himalayan land. (30 November 2019)
Note: Until 2019, Ladakh was a region of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. In August 2019, the Parliament of India passed an act by which Ladakh became a union territory on 31 October 2019.

31 December
In India, thousands are protesting the new citizenship law. Here are 4 things to know.
Some object to its Muslim exclusions, while others object to the broad welcome for other groups.
(WaPo) … Elsewhere in India, different concerns appear to be driving the anti-CAA demonstrations. In cities like New Delhi, Hyderabad, Aligarh and Lucknow, protesters have turned out to object to the “anti-Muslim” nature of the legislation. While the CAA makes it possible for Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jains and Parsees who came to India from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh before Dec. 31, 2014, to obtain Indian citizenship, it excludes Muslims from taking this route. The government’s position is that Muslims cannot be a “persecuted minority” since they constitute the majority in these three countries.

23 December
Stirring the Indian citizenship pot could have unforeseeable internal security dimensions
It is important to note that what [is] being contested by ordinary citizens is their basic democratic right – to engage in peaceful protest, writes C Uday Bhaskar for South Asia Monitor
Even as anti- citizenship act protests have raged across India, in an intriguing political development that has complex implications for policy cohesion in the BJP-led NDA government, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Sunday (Dec 22) that there had been no discussion in parliament or the union cabinet regarding the NRC (National Register of Citizens) since his government had assumed office in 2014.
This assertion will assuage the concerns of those constituencies that have been very concerned about how the citizenship act and the NRC could adversely impact their mean their status as citizens or refugees . However this clarification by Modi goes against the many statements made by Home Minister Amit Shah about the determination of the Modi government to implement a nationwide NRC and to round up the illegal residents and place them in detention centres.
Hopefully this intervention by the Prime Minister will lower the intensity of the anti-citizenship protests but the events of the last few weeks have serious implications for the management of India’s internal security.

CTV Diplomatic Community Dec 17: Trump impeachment and Indian democracy going down?
Jeremy Kinsman and Benjamin Chang

C. Uday Bhaskar: CAA is a political issue. Use the Indian Army with care
The CAA must be negotiated with the citizen, and it is desirable that the soldier remains outside this mediation
(Hindustan Times) The nationwide student protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) have acquired a scale and intensity that is reflective of India’s deep democratic resilience. Some complex questions about the constitutional validity of the Act have been raised by citizens, particularly the young. A placard summarised the core of the student protests in a pithy manner: “We support Gandhi’s India and reject Savarkar’s India.’ One hopes that there would be an empathetic dialogue with the students in keeping with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s exhortation that debate and peaceful dissent are the way ahead, even as the Supreme Court deliberates over whether the CAA is ultra vires of the Constitution or not. Embedded in the CAA-related developments of the last week are two elements specific to the Army that merit objective scrutiny for their long-term national security implications and the integrity of Indian democracy.

Indian students join fierce protests against ‘anti-Muslim’ citizenship law
Campus protests take place across country, as alleged police brutality fuels anger
(The Guardian) Intense protests against a divisive Indian citizenship law that excludes Muslims have spread to university campuses across the country, fuelled by a brutal police crackdown on a demonstration in Delhi at the weekend.
By Monday protests had spread to university campuses in the cities of Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bengaluru, Chandigarh and Kolkata. In Lucknow students pelted police with stones after they fired teargas at demonstrators.
Protests Spread Across India Over Divisive Citizenship Law
(NYT) The protests have gripped many major Indian cities and are a reaction to the Indian Parliament’s decision last week to pass a contentious measure that would give special treatment to Hindu and other non-Muslim migrants in India. Critics have called the measure blatantly discriminatory and a blow to India’s foundation as a secular democracy.
The law is a core piece of a Hindu-centric agenda pursued by Mr. Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party, and many analysts predicted trouble. India’s large Muslim minority, around 200 million people, has become increasingly fearful, certain that many of Mr. Modi’s recent initiatives are intended to marginalize them.

11 December
Indian Parliament Passes Divisive Citizenship Bill, Moving It Closer to Law
The government says it is trying to protect religious minorities from being persecuted in Muslim countries. Indian Muslims say the bill is discriminatory, and protests are spreading. The measure, called the Citizenship Amendment Bill, uses religion as a criterion for determining whether illegal migrants in India can be fast-tracked for citizenship. The bill favors members of all South Asia’s major religions except Islam, and leaders of India’s 200-million-strong Muslim community have called it blatant discrimination.

9 December
Blood and Soil in Narendra Modi’s India
The Prime Minister’s Hindu-nationalist government has cast two hundred million Muslims as internal enemies.
By Dexter Filkins
(The New Yorker) The change in Kashmir upended more than half a century of careful politics, but the Indian press reacted with nearly uniform approval. Ever since Modi was first elected Prime Minister, in 2014, he has been recasting the story of India, from that of a secular democracy accommodating a uniquely diverse population to that of a Hindu nation that dominates its minorities, especially the country’s two hundred million Muslims. Modi and his allies have squeezed, bullied, and smothered the press into endorsing what they call the “New India.”

11 November
Azadi march in Pakistan: Analysis
C Uday Bhaskar
Maulana Fazlur Rehman, leader of Pakistan’s major religious party, the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI – F) who is counted as being the most pragmatic and flexible political survivor in a very volatile domain led an ‘Azadi (freedom) March’ against Prime Minister Imran Khan on October 27 and at peak, it was estimated that over 200,000 followers had congregated in Islamabad. The Maulana’s demand was that PM Khan had to resign since the 2018 election that catapulted Imran to power, the JUI leader alleged, was rigged.
On Saturday (Nov 9) the Azadi March had completed two weeks and the stalemate continues. The Imran Khan government has entered into inconclusive negotiations with the Rehbar Committee of opposition interlocutors team and the inclement weather – heavy rains and cold nights – has seen some local participants in the march returning home. Domestic commentators have described the march as having ended in a damp squib and have dismissed the challenge posed by Fazlur Rehman but a more objective analysis would suggest otherwise

7 September
(New York) A human-rights crisis is brewing in northeastern India, where 1.9 million people are being forced to prove their citizenship at the risk of deportation or detainment. For those subjected to the latter, construction has begun on mass detention camps that may one day hold the people building them.
As they build India’s first camp for illegals, some workers fear detention there
(Reuters) The mammoth Supreme Court-ordered exercise to document Assam’s citizens has been strongly backed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government that came to power in New Delhi five years ago. Critics say the campaign is aimed at Muslims, even those who have lived legally in India for decades.
Many Hindus, mostly poor and ill-educated, are also not on the citizenship list released last week.

22 August
Abrogation Of Article 370 And Bifurcation Of J&K Trample Spirit Of Constitution
Whether Article 370 has been used innovatively or will pass legal scrutiny, remains to be seen, writes C Uday Bhaskar
The Modi-Shah determination to use a parliamentary majority to unilaterally abrogate the provisions of Article 370 and bifurcate the state does trample over the spirit of the Constitution and the provisions of Article 3. The latter dwells on the federal nature of the Union and the specifics of centre-state relations and the norms for reorganisation of a state.
Whether this will pass legal scrutiny is currently moot, while some experts have applauded the constitutional sleight-of-hand wherein Art. 370 has been used innovatively to dilute its own sanctity and others aver that the August 5 decision will not pass the political integrity test.
This political integrity pertains to India’s commitment to the democratic principle in its most holistic and normative manner. Various metrics can be invoked to review democratic rectitude and this is a matter that India and its citizens will have to ponder over deeply–and objectively.

14 August
How sacrosanct is the ‘Idea of India’?
Experts are divided about the legality and constitutional propriety of the August 5 decisions in relation to Article 3 and the reorganization of states. What is at stake is the sanctity of constitutionalism and for PM Narendra Modi the way the Kashmir issue unfolds will define his political legacy, writes C Uday Bhaskar.
(South Asia Monitor) The deed is done and it has been hailed by team Modi and its support base as a decisive triumph that has corrected the errors of history (read Nehru’s follies). The more tangible outcome is that by end October India will have a new political map but a populace in Kashmir valley that will feel even more alienated than they did prior to August 5. However, the more intangible outcome of the August 5 decision is the manner in which it will negatively impact the democratic ethos of India and its standing as the world’s largest liberal democracy ostensibly committed to its Constitution. Yes there were transgressions, the most infamous being the imposition of the Emergency by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in June 1975.

12 August
China tells India it is ‘highly concerned’ about situation in Kashmir
Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar meets Chinese foreign minister and vice-president in Beijing
Wang Yi says move to strip the region of its special status will ‘trigger regional tension’ and calls for dispute to be settled ‘through peaceful means’
What You Need to Know About India’s Power Grab in Kashmir
By Jonah Shepp
(New York) Accompanied by a heavy security presence, curfew, and telecommunications blackout in Kashmir, the move has ratcheted up tensions with both Pakistan and China and threatens to ignite fresh conflict in one of the most militarized areas on Earth — even as the Indian government insists that it will have the opposite effect.
Revoking Kashmir’s Special Status May Not Be Legal
If it survives review by the Indian Supreme Court, the decision announced by Interior Minister Amit Shah last Monday will do away with both Article 370 and Article 35A. It downgrades the semi-autonomous state into two “union territories” (cutting off the sparsely populated Himalayan region of Ladakh as its own territory), which do not have the same rights as states but are governed more directly by New Delhi. Kashmir had already seen its autonomy eroded over the decades, especially in the years since Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in 2014. The constitutional justification for last week’s decision is dubious: The only party entitled to revoke Article 370 is the constituent assembly of Jammu and Kashmir, which disbanded in 1957.
Fully integrating Kashmir is an extremely popular policy position in India writ large, even if Kashmiris themselves don’t like it. The BJP and its supporters are particularly hostile to the idea that India’s only Muslim-majority state should get special treatment. Modi, a combative, conservative nationalist and Hindu chauvinist, would love to get into a fight with his liberal critics over this decision, which he claims will “free Jammu and Kashmir of terrorism and separatism.”
… The removal of Kashmir’s special status may also have much more sinister purposes than Modi lets on. Article 35A’s restriction on land purchases was meant to ensure that India could not embark on a settler-colonial project there, outnumbering the native Muslims with Hindu transplants from other parts of the country in order to drown out calls for autonomy or independence. This provision’s revocation opens the door to just such a project, like what China has done in Tibet and Xinjiang, or Israel in the West Bank.
The other danger in India’s move is that, far from ending separatist violence, it may unleash a new wave of it, while mainstreaming separatism within Kashmiri politics (much as how in the U.K., Brexit has breathed new life into the Scottish independence movement). Modi may reap short-term domestic political gain from this, but at the cost of more civil conflict down the line, as well as major rifts with its neighbors and unwelcome attention from the rest of the world.

8 August
Cleo Paskal: India Ends Special Status for Only Muslim-Majority Territory
(Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) ) The President of India issued an Order on Monday effectively repealing Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, a move supported by the Indian Parliament. The Order fundamentally changes the relationship between terrorist hotbed Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and the rest of India, potentially allowing for the long-term normalization of conditions in the area.
Article 370 inadvertently legitimized part of the Islamist agenda by implying a Muslim-majority region should be separate from the main body politic. Since Article 370 allows only Permanent Residents of J&K to own land, Islamists were incentivized to expel non-Muslims, who could not be replaced, thereby changing J&K’s demography by force. Article 370 also enabled discrimination against women, limited investment from the rest of India, and made it difficult to use land as collateral for loans, stifling economic growth and making residents more dependent on local power structures.
India’s home minister has called Article 370 “the root of terror” in the region. Both advocates of J&K independence from India and terrorist elements stand to lose substantially from the repeal and are likely to increase pressure. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said, “[I]ncidents like Pulwama are bound to happen again. I can already predict this will happen.” Pakistan’s army chief said its military “stands by the Kashmiris in their just struggle to the very end.”
For its part, India has put regional political leaders under house arrest, called on Hindu pilgrims to avoid the region, put a curfew in effect, increased military presence, and restricted communications. There may be operations involving summary execution of terror suspects, with the attendant civilian casualties causing unrest, as happened in the past. The security situation may worsen in the short term, and human rights organizations are likely to highlight abuses.
Over the longer-term, as residents of J&K see more opportunities for economic development, as women have more rights, and as there is more integration and identification with the rest of India, there is hope the appeal of extremism will wane and the lives of the people of J&K will normalize.
For Delhi, the repeal of Article 370 is a core issue of national identity and security. India is saying the people of the region, whatever their faith, are Indian citizens and should have the same rights and responsibilities as all other citizens. Washington should consider the repeal of Article 370 to be an internal Indian decision based on a reasonable approach to citizenship, rather than seeking to interpose itself between India and Pakistan.

29 May
Modi’s India is aspirational, assertive — and anti-elite
By Devesh Kapur
(WaPo) The resounding victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in India’s general elections this month is in many ways more impressive than the one in 2014. At that time, Modi was running against an unpopular government and rode a strong anti-incumbency wave. This time, he was running on his record — and the voters found him and his message even more compelling.
The result owes much to the strengths of the BJP’s electoral campaign — especially Modi’s incredible energy and oratorical skills, the leveraging of social media, and the delivery of personal public goods such as housing, toilets and cooking gas. The fact that India’s weak economy, rising joblessness and pervasive agrarian crisis did not dampen support for the BJP says something about Modi’s high leadership quotient and the fecklessness of the opposition. But it also reveals something about how Indian society has changed — in ways that have perhaps been misrepresented by the English-speaking interlocutors who interpret India for the West.
The reality is that Indian society has become more aspirational, more assertive and less deferential, with more pathways to social mobility than ever before. Rising social groups are resentful of the social and cultural capital that privileges the elite and are increasingly willing to express this resentment electorally.
This is perhaps most true of the country’s young population. Given the high rates of joblessness, one would expect the youths to vote against the BJP. In fact, support for the BJP has been greater among youths. Though India’s youths are more educated than ever before, the poor quality of educational institutions has meant that their credentials inflate their actual employability.

21 May
C. Uday Bhaskar: India election- Can the country’s tradition of diversity withstand a second ‘Modi wave’?
A strong majority in parliament for the right-leaning National Democratic Alliance on results day would embolden the country’s Hindu right
Liberals fear sectarian divisions are being institutionalised by prioritising Hindutva, India’s aggressive form of Hindu nationalism
(This Week In Asia) After India’s six-week election that ended on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) looks set to lead a coalition government and rule for a second term.
… this election has also left some among the 900 million eligible voters uneasy about what the next five years will bring. It was seen as one that would define the political trajectory of India – whether the country could remain wedded to the liberal, democratic principle of diversity as enshrined and envisioned in the constitution, or morph into an intolerant and authoritarian Hindu majority nation. Developments in the last week of voting have given rise to an uneasiness about the “Modi wave” predicted by pollsters. An emphatic majority in the lower house of parliament for the BJP would pave the way for efforts to cast aside India’s commitment to respect and nurture its vast and complex diversity. Related to this is the worry that an ecosystem of fear and sectarian division is being institutionalised by prioritising the less tolerant and insular Hindutva, the politically aggressive form of Hindu nationalism in India.

India election 2019: Echoes of Trump in Modi’s border politics
(BBC) Prime Minister Modi and his BJP party, like US President Donald Trump, have focused on borders to shape a particular vision of India’s future.
… its updated National Registry of Citizens (NRC), a census created in 1951 to determine who was born in India and who might be a migrant from Muslim-majority East Pakistan, now known as Bangladesh.The census, conducted only in the north-eastern state of Assam, counts citizens who can prove they were residents of India before 24 March, 1971, just before Bangladesh declared its independence from Pakistan.
Families are required to provide documentation to show their lineage, and those who cannot prove their citizenship are deemed illegal. But the process has been fraught, with some families unable to produce documents due to poor record-keeping, illiteracy or because they lack the money to file a legal claim.
NRC officials have also begun holding “foreigner tribunals” to hear contested cases – much like the immigration court hearings under President Donald Trump at the US-Mexico border – while the draft list is being finalised to meet a 31 July deadline mandated by the Supreme Court.n total some four million people who thought they were Indian were excluded from the draft list. Half of these people have filed claims to be included in the final census.

19 May
India concludes marathon seven-phase election, results on May 23
Voting in the seventh and final phase ends, wrapping up a six-week campaign with PM Narendra Modi seeking a second term

18 April
(Simon Baptist, The Economist) India is still the fastest-growing G20 economy, even if most estimates (including ours) are lower than they were a year ago. Is the growth story over-hyped or can we explain the difference?Personally, I am still convinced by India’s growth story and prospects. Its transition is different to those of the East Asian tigers, where industry and export manufacturing were big drivers. For India, services are more important, and data for these are much less prevalent. Moving from a rural subsistence job to the urban gig economy, such as ride-sharing or delivery, entails a significant increase in income and output per worker, but won’t directly show up in industrial production statistics. Most countries could do with better measures of services production and trade, and India particularly so.

1 April
The Atlantic: As India gears up for the world’s largest election, it faces an epidemic of misinformation and fake news. But unlike in the 2016 United States election, when prominent pieces of political propaganda were cooked up by foreigners, in India, the fake news comes from within. India’s political parties are tapping into Facebook and WhatsApp, the country’s two most popular social-media platforms, to spread rumors about opponents and spur ethnic divisions: For example, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party, the BJP, has built a sprawling digital empire that churns out fearmongering propaganda about how its archrival favors Muslims over Hindus. But social media are only part of the problem—these partisan news networks are also fomenting disinformation.

13 March
India’s most important election in decades is looming. Here’s what you need to know
By Manveena Suri and Swati Gupta
(CNN) India is just weeks away from general elections, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party facing what looks like an increasingly close contest.
Politicians of all stripes are already in campaign mode for what will be the world’s largest exercise in democracy — a mammoth undertaking that will take place over several weeks to ensure the voices of hundreds of millions of Indians across the country are heard.
The Indian election will begin on April 11, the country’s Election Commission announced Sunday.


Modi wants India to emerge as a leading global power: not a non-aligned power or a bridging power, but a power that can shape global outcomes

1 July
In Modi’s India, bright mood masks danger to democracy
Citizens are happy with nation’s direction but data shows troubling trajectory

16 June
India’s strategic vision amid disorder order: Urgent need to redress the voids
Modi in his address indicated that India seeks a robust engagement with all major powers – viz USA, China, Russia and Japan and added that the ASEAN bloc was the critical entity for India’s ‘Act East’ policy. The change in semantic to the Indo-Pacific is an acknowledgement of India’s own relevance in the extended maritime region, writes C Uday Bhaskar for South Asia Monitor.
Global disorder appears to be the leitmotif of mid 2018 with the USA and China embarking upon a trade-tariff war and the US led western alliance in considerable turmoil over the unseemly outcome of the just concluded G-7 summit in Canada. The ‘historic’ meeting in Singapore (June 12) between US President Donald Trump and the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has the potential to lead to a completely unexpected rearrangement of the strategic framework in East Asia. Disruption is the flavor of the times.
Against this backdrop, the manner in which India relates to the major powers and the strategic orientation it aspires towards has been outlined in some detail by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the course of the Shangri-la Dialogue held in Singapore on June 1.

14 May
India MP Shashi Tharoor charged over wife’s death
(BBC) Indian MP and former UN diplomat Shashi Tharoor has been charged with aiding his wife’s suicide in 2014.
Sunanda Pushkar’s unexplained death was initially treated as suicide but police later said she had been murdered, without naming a suspect.
Police in Delhi have now charged Mr Tharoor with abetment to suicide and cruelty to his spouse. Shashi Tharoor’s very public tragedy (January 2014)

14 March
Tabloid India
By Shashi Tharoor
Indian media today report news recklessly, and, in the interest of ratings, focus on ephemera that have no impact on the public welfare. But trivializing public discourse and abdicating their responsibility as facilitators and protectors of democracy has cost Indian journalists dearly in terms of public trust.
(Project Syndicate) … In doing so, they trivialize public discourse and abdicate their responsibilities as facilitators and protectors of democracy. Far from a call for controls on the free press – no Indian democrat would issue such a call – this is a demand for better journalism.

25 February
India’s indifference to the Sikh diaspora is damaging Western foreign policy towards the country
The problem is that the Indian elite sees any demand by Sikhs for justice over the anti-Sikh pogroms in 1984 as a sign of separatism
By Sunny Hundal
(The Independent) What really worries the Indian government is the prospect of Sikhs in Britain, Canada and the US getting into positions of power and challenging the abuse of Sikh civil rights in India. The Indian government mentions the revival of Sikh militancy in India too, but it is highly exaggerated. Among Indian elites there is palpable concern that Western foreign policy towards India will increasingly be shaped by Sikhs willing to challenge its interests. Hence the alarmist talk about Sikh separatism.
Most Sikhs call for a Khalistan not because they want to live in a theocracy but because they want a state where their Sikh brethren are treated equally and with dignity. They want a state that will protect Sikhs, not cover up thousands of extrajudicial killings. Instead India is going in the opposite direction: the rise of the Hindu nationalist Hindutva movement has minorities more concerned about their safety than ever before.

26 January
(Quartz) India celebrated its 69th Republic Day. While past guests to the military parade have included Nelson Mandela, Queen Elizabeth II, and Barack Obama, this year’s guest list focused on leaders of Southeast Asia as India tries to counter China’s growing influence in the region.
Republic Day India 2018 Highlights: India-ASEAN Bond At Show At Dazzling Republic Day Parade
As India celebrates its 69th Republic Day today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosted 10 leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN as guests of honour at the ceremonial parade being held at Rajpath. The parade was presided over by President Ram Nath Kovind.

23 January
Globalization losing its lustre, Indian PM tells economic forum
(CBC) Modi is leading a big government and business delegation at the summit in Davos, Switzerland, the first Indian prime minister do so in 21 years, aiming to showcase India as a fast-growing economic power and a potential driver of global growth.
India’s economy is expected to more than double and touch $5 trillion by 2025, Modi said. The last time an Indian prime minister attended the Davos talks, India’s GDP was “little more than $400 billion and now two decades later it’s about six times that amount.”
He said his government was committed to boosting economic growth and reducing bureaucratic hurdles to doing business in India. Modi said his government was committed to making the economy attractive for investment.

20 January
Cleo Paskal: ‘More India and less China, please’
(Sunday Guardian) The world needs more India and less China—that’s according to many of the members of the global strategic community who were in India last week. They came for the third Raisina Dialogue, hosted by the Observer Research Foundation and India’s Ministry of External Affairs. It was a stellar line up. … The range and seniority of foreign delegations underlined the uniqueness of India’s global position. There were high-level speakers from around the region and around the world, including the United States, Russia, Iran, Indonesia, Turkey, Singapore and more.
The opening session was addressed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in attendance. It set the tone. While countries may have specific issues with Delhi, there was an overwhelming drive at Raisina to put those aside and instead focus on expanding broad and deep cooperation with India. In the case of Netanyahu, he politely ignored India voting against Israel at the UN on Jerusalem. Rather, he lauded the “natural” bonds between the two countries, the many areas of current cooperation (irrigation, agriculture, defence, etc), the potential for future cooperation, and how pleased he was that Modi was the first Indian leader to visit Israel in its 3,000-year history. It was a genuinely warm speech, and the audience reciprocated.
That desire for “more India please”, was repeatedly echoed throughout the three-day event. Especially in the context of China and the Indo-Pacific.

1 January
C. Uday Bhaskar: India needs to harmonise ties with major power nodes
India’s more complex strategic challenge will be to harmonise its relations with the three major power nodes — Washington, and — in such a manner that no single bilateral lurches into a brittle, impulsive binary that pits the democracies against the authoritarian duo of and has a special status in the Indian strategic framework and this is a relationship that needs to be firewalled from contemporary dissonances — be it in relation to or is a new partner — albeit hesitant — but the potential for security and strategic coordination is visible.
(Business Standard News) Three unrelated developments in December provide some useful indicators about the security and strategic outlook for in 2018.
The first, which is most recent, is the killing of four personnel, including a major, in the Rajouri sector of in the run-up to in end-December and the retaliatory action in the Rakh Chikri sector of Poonch that resulted in the death of three Pakistani soldiers. Clearly, the Line of Control (LoC) — dividing between and — will become even more animated in 2018 and a new normal has been established with the kind of assertive military retribution that both and have internalised.
The second development relates to the factor in the larger Indian calculus and how this will play out in the new year. While 2017 was punctuated by the Doklam military standoff and the Indian position on the OBOR (One Belt One Road ), now referred to as the BRI (Belt Road Initiative), a little ASEAN-related nugget offers some interesting extrapolation.
At a CSCAP (Council for Security Cooperation in Asia-Pacific) meeting in December in Thailand, an ASEAN delegate referred to as an “erupting power” and was duly chastised by the representative. The unease in ASEAN over China’s intimidating economic-trade embrace is palpable and the recent Australia-discord over Beijing’s covert attempt to shape local Australian has raised deep anxiety in the smaller countries. It may be recalled that took an unusually strong stand in terminating the services of a high profile academic of Chinese origin earlier in 2017 over similar charges.
The third development, which is at the larger global strategic level but of relevance to India, is the release of the US National Security Strategy by the administration in December. In a return to some of the language used during the Cold War, the US under has identified both and as revisionist powers that are seeking to undermine US “prosperity and security”. India, on the other hand, has been referred to as a “leading global power” and the broad correspondence between the world’s oldest and largest democracies points to a certain strategic empathy between and


India’s ascent: Five opportunities for growth and transformation
(McKinsey) The country could create sustainable economic conditions in five ways, such as promoting acceptable living standards, improving the urban infrastructure, and unlocking the potential of women.Liberalization has created new opportunities. The challenge for policy makers is to manage growth so that it creates the basis for sustainable economic performance. Although much work has been done, India’s transformation into a global economic force has yet to fully benefit all its citizens. There’s a massive unmet need for basic services, such as water and sanitation, energy, and health care, for example, while red tape makes it hard to do business. The government has begun to address many of these challenges, and the pace of change could accelerate in coming years as some initiatives gain scale. (McKinsey Global Institute August 2016)
Foreign relations: 2017 likely to be a good year for India
By Cleo Paskal
Kochi: 2016 planted the seeds for some fundamental changes around the globe—a Donald Trump Presidency, Brexit, demonetisation, migration waves in Europe, a Chinese military base in Djibouti, the retaking of Aleppo, the failed Turkish “coup”, and more.
2017 is the year we start to see what those seeds are likely to grow into. There will be touchstone events, like the French and German elections and the once every five years Chinese Communist Party Congress. They will hint at deeper trends. And the situation is so dynamic, major “unpredictable” events are also likely. So the question is, will 2017 be a good year for India? In terms of foreign relations, very likely yes. (31 December 2016)

11 December
Rahul Gandhi elected leader of India’s Congress party
Past few months have seen scion of Nehru-Gandhi family working on presenting himself as serious challenger to PM Modi
(The Guardian) The scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family, which has produced three of India’s prime ministers, including its founding PM, Jawaharlal Nehru, and two who were assassinated in office, was announced as the new leader of India’s chief opposition party on Monday.
Gandhi, 47, has been groomed to lead Congress virtually since birth and faced no challengers for the post occupied for the past 19 years by his mother, Sonia.
But the man derided by political critics as “pappu” – or naive child – faces significant hurdles to lead India, including an ailing Congress party, doubts over his mettle and an opponent who is India’s most formidable prime minister in decades, Narendra Modi.
“His first challenge is to revive the Congress network and get the credibility of the party back,” said Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, an Indian political analyst and author.
The 131-year old Congress party ushered India into independence in 1947 and has ruled the country for most of its history, but sustained a humiliating rout in the 2014 national elections.
Its subsequent loss of major state legislature to the Bharatiya Janata party has led some to conclude the Congress’s ostensibly secular brand of politics has been superseded by Modi’s more populist Hindu nationalism.

14 August
(The Skimm) Over the weekend, the head of a state-run hospital there was suspended after more than 60 children died under his watch in the last few days. It’s unclear why so many children died so suddenly. But the hospital allegedly had a shortage of key supplies, including liquid oxygen. The hospital chief says he asked the Indian gov for money to buy supplies but was ignored. Others say the deaths were connected to a mosquito-borne disease that’s common during India’s rainy season. The Indian gov is investigating what exactly went down.

13 July
India rejects China’s mediation offer on Kashmir
New Delhi says its position to address issues with Islamabad in a bilateral framework has not changed.
(Al Jazeera) India has rejected China’s offer to mediate and help resolve the Kashmir issue, insisting talks will only take place with Pakistan without the intervention of another nation.
China had said it was willing to play a “constructive role” in improving relations between India and Pakistan, especially after the increased hostility along the Line of Control, a de facto border that divides the disputed Kashmir valley between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.
However, talking to reporters on Thursday, a spokesman for the Ministry of External Affairs turned down China’s offer.
“We are ready to talk Kashmir with Pakistan, but no third-party mediation,” Gopal Baglay said.
“Our stand is absolutely clear. You are aware that the heart of the matter is cross-border terrorism emanating from a particular country that threatens peace and stability in the country, region, and the world.”

27 June
India’s PM Narendra Modi meets Donald Trump with his signature greeting — bear hugs
Leaders and celebrities should be prepared for Modi’s embrace by now, but they often aren’t — sometimes nearly getting knocked off balance
(National Post) “Modi believes that trust can only be built through personal rapport and friendship, which includes positive body language and physical closeness with his counterparts,” Chaulia said. “He may have been trying to maintain the bromance that he had with Obama.”
There also may have been an element of relief in Modi’s hugs of Trump, launched at the end of a two-day visit described as “cordial” by Indian aides.
“Some people were worried about the outcome … in view of an unpredictable Trump,” retired Indian diplomat Rajeev Dogra said. “But he has gone out of his way to reach out to India.
There were clear signs of division, though: There was no mention of climate change, an issue of extreme concern in India, where many of the country’s 1.3 billion people are poor and vulnerable to extreme heat, drought and storm surges.
Trump also said little about the Asia-Pacific, though Modi made clear India’s intent to increase co-operation in the region as a check against China’s rising power.
Vijay Prashad is no fan of either Modi or Trump
Modi and Trump: When the titans of hate politics meet
Narendra Modi’s meeting with Donald Trump was nothing more than a publicity stunt.
(Al Jazeera) During his meeting with Trump, Modi avoided explaining how his protectionist policies would accommodate balancing the trade deficit between the US and India. Trump, on the other hand, dodged the question on pulling out of the Paris climate agreement, which Modi so adamantly supports.
The two men – pickled in the politics of hate – got to know one another and nothing more.
There was a great deal of back-slapping, mutual praise and displays of machismo. There was a great deal of bragging and making big promises.

26 June
(Quartz) Trump meets Narendra Modi. This is the Indian prime minister’s first face-to-face meeting with Trump, and diplomatic expectations are low. Despite a recent Trump tweet calling Modi a “true friend,” they hold different views on trade, immigration, and the Paris climate agreement.
Modi-Trump summit must vow to shape a global terror free environment
By Chitrapu Uday Bhaskar
While intense speculation about the bi-lateral relationship has dominated the commentary/ analysis apropos the first Modi-Trump meeting on Monday (June 26 ), there is a wider domain that beckons, which will be the litmus for the perspicacity and global vision that the two leaders can bring to the table.
It is more coincidence than design that the first Modi-Trump meeting is taking place at the end of Ramzaan. And the blood-splattered run-up to Eid this year which includes the destruction of the al-Nuri mosque in Iraq and the daily terror attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan provide both the context and urgency to quarantine this malignancy.

22 June
This week’s Economist cover features India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, who is often lauded for overseeing the world’s fastest-growing large economy. Yet if you look closer, Mr Modi’s record is marred by wrong turns, false starts and missed opportunities. And now the shine is coming off India’s growth

India’s prime minister is not as much of a reformer as he seems
But he is more of a nationalist firebrand
… Yes, Mr Modi has pandered to religious sentiment at times, most notably by appointing a rabble-rousing Hindu prelate as chief minister of India’s most-populous state, Uttar Pradesh. But he has also presided over an acceleration in economic growth, from 6.4% in 2013 to a high of 7.9% in 2015—which made India the fastest-growing big economy in the world. He has pushed through reforms that had stalled for years, including an overhaul of bankruptcy law and the adoption of a nationwide sales tax (GST) to replace a confusing array of local and national levies. Foreign investment has soared, albeit from a low base.
Alas, these appearances are deceiving (see article). The GST, although welcome, is unnecessarily complicated and bureaucratic, greatly reducing its efficiency. The new bankruptcy law is a step in the right direction, but it will take much more to revive the financial system, which is dominated by state-owned banks weighed down by dud loans. The central government’s response to a host of pressing economic problems, from the difficulty of buying land to the reform of rigid labour laws, has been to pass them to the states. And at least one of the big reforms it has undertaken—the overnight cancellation of most of India’s banknotes in an effort to curb the black economy—was counterproductive, hamstringing legitimate businesses without doing much harm to illicit ones. No wonder the economy is starting to drag.

10 May
Neglect of national security: Modi needs to redress major deficiencies
C Uday Bhaskar, Director, Society for Policy Studies
(South Asia Monitor) The month of May this year has multiple relevance for India’s military and strategic security. It got off to an inauspicious start with the beheading of two Indian security personnel on May 1 and, predictably, the country is angry and anguished. The citizen is disappointed that such an event could have happened in the first instance (weren’t the ‘surgical strikes’ on militant camps in Pakistan last year supposed to stop such acts?) and expects a befitting response from the decisive Prime Minister Modi.
Kashmir valley is going through a phase of heightened domestic unrest including girl students pelting stones at security forces for the first time. The Army has indicated that it will embark upon stringent combing operations in the valley to weed out terrorists and their supporters.
May 11 marks the 19th anniversary of the nuclear tests by India in 1998 and at the time, in a letter to the US President Bill Clinton, then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had identified China as the abiding anxiety to India’s strategic security and dwelt on the “distrust” index between the two Asian giants.
That distrust has increased visibly over the last year apropos issues such as terrorism and the global nuclear order – and most recently the Dalai Lama. Consequently in a politically significant move Beijing has put off its participation in the trilateral India-Russia-China foreign ministers’ meeting scheduled to be held in Delhi in April under Indian auspices. …
The default response of the Modi government in matters of national security has been to inhabit social media. Over the last few months, whenever there is a setback or security personnel killed, ministers invoke emotive nationalism and promise retribution on the perpetrators – whether from across the border or from the Maoist cadres. This is relayed on Twitter!
This is not adequate and what is required to set right the accreted national security deficit is hard work and resolve within the government that ought to be out of public glare. One has repeatedly drawn attention to the gaps in the implementation of the Kargil Committee related recommendations tabled in parliament in 2000 – that is 17 years ago – that go back to NDA I and the Vajpayee period of governance.
Modi has one year effectively ahead of him – before he hits the campaign trail again to become candidate NaMo – to review and redress major national security deficiencies. Appointing a full-time Defence Minister may be the much needed first step.

13 March
Narendra Modi’s party won a landslide victory in India’s most populous state.The Indian prime minister—and his reform mandate—received a major boost when final results released Saturday showed his Bharatiya Janata party won in Uttar Pradesh by an unexpectedly large margin. The win improves Modi’s chances of getting re-elected in 2019.

4 January
(Quartz) Narendra Modi’s demonetization policy dented Indian growth. A Wednesday report from the Nikkei India Services PMI showed a score of 46.8 (scores under 50 denote a contraction) in the country’s all-important services sector for the second month in a row. Analysts say that the currency shortage enforced by Modi’s administration will cause a slowdown in Asia’s third largest economy. Five state elections in the next two months will reveal what people think of the radical cash ban.

2 January
India’s bank note ban: how Modi botched the policy yet kept his political capital
(The Guardian) His plea for 50 days of grace has expired, yet the prime minister may survive thanks to his framing of demonetisation as a strike against corrupt elites
One close observer, Sharat Padhin, a veteran political journalist based in the state, suggests Modi might be vindicated. “In this state demonetisation has created a divide between the rich and poor,” he says.
“The poorer classes seem to be getting some kind of vicarious pleasure from thinking: ‘I’m facing difficulties by standing in a queue, but the rich people who acquired wealth by dubious means, all their black money is gone’.”
Whether these same people feel the pain was worth it, once money starts flowing again, will decide the fate of India’s seemingly indomitable prime minister.


30 December
Indians get rid of their last rupees. They have until the end of the day to deposit discontinued 500 and 1,000 rupee notes at banks. The decision in November to withdraw the notes—86% of the cash in circulation—to combat the shadow economy has caused chaos, hardship, and assorted unexpected consequences. Indians living abroad have until March 31 to exchange the notes
28 November
(Quartz) A “day of rage” in India. That’s what opposition parties are calling the nationwide protests Monday against prime minister Narendra Modi’s controversial move to ban 500- and 1,000-rupee notes, wiping out 86% of the country’s cash in circulation overnight.
Timeline: 20 days of demonetisation, Narendra Modi’s biggest gamble with the Indian economy
Quartz looks at the various flip-flops the Modi government has made vis a vis demonetisation.
the exercise is expected to slam the brakes on India’s GDP in the coming months. On Nov. 23, Goldman Sachs revised its forecast for India’s economic growth for this fiscal to 6.8% from the earlier estimate of 7.6%. While Modi’s gamble has been lauded by some economists, others have criticised its shoddy execution.
… Nov. 24: The old notes can now only be deposited in bank accounts and not exchanged. The government had earlier said that old notes worth up to Rs4,000 could be exchanged at banks and RBI counters till Dec. 30. However, now only foreigners are allowed to exchange notes up to Rs5,000 per week.
In parliament, former prime minister Manmohan Singh calls demonetisation “organised loot” and “legalised plunder.”

27 November
Cleo Paskal: Oceania is changing fast and India will be affected
(Sunday Guardian) last week, the University of French Polynesia convened a high level conference called “Coveted Oceania”. France has vast ocean territories in the Pacific, based primarily on its two possessions, New Caledonia and French Polynesia. In the last year, the French profile in the area has grown rapidly. In April, in a deal worth close to $40 billion, France won the contract to build 12 submarines for Australia (New Caledonia and Australia share a maritime border). And just a few months ago, New Caledonia and French Polynesia joined the Pacific Island Forum. On the sidelines of the “Coveted” conference there was active engagement with Australian academics with the goal of expanding collaborations. France is suddenly much more visible in Oceania.
Oceania is changing fast. And India will be affected. As the “Indo-Pacific” century rolls on, the strategic spheres of the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean will increasingly overlap. The election of Donald Trump is only likely to increase US ties with India, and give India latitude for its “act East” policy. Narendra Modi and Japan’s Shinzo Abe, not only get along with each other, they also seem to be among Trump’s favourite foreign leaders. And all three are cautious about China.
In an Oceania context, it’s not clear if the “diamond” (Japan, India, US, Australia) will solidify or if it will become more of a triangle (Japan, US, India), or perhaps even expand in some areas into a pentagon (Japan, India, US, Australia, France).
Whatever happens, there is no question India will become more involved in Oceania. There are plans for an Indian space research station in Fiji, growing economic ties with Vanuatu, and a whole slate of bilateral proposals crafted since Prime Minister Modi visited Fiji in 2014.

16 November
(Reuters) It took the personal involvement of Russian President Vladimir Putin to push though Rosneft’s $13 billion acquisition of Indian refiner Essar. Two months ago, Saudi Arabia’s state-owned firm Aramco looked liked the sure winner. The maneuvers behind the deal have repercussions not only in the global oil market, but also in global politics.
The tussle for Essar – a state-of-the-art plant in the world’s fastest-growing fuel market – illustrates the growing battle for oil markets between Russia and Saudi Arabia, the world’s two largest crude exporters.
It also sheds light on the challenges OPEC member Saudi Arabia and non-OPEC Russia – which are also fighting a proxy conflict in Syria’s civil war – will face in trying to clinch a global agreement to limit output growth to prop up oil prices.

20 October
The Indian women refusing to wear veils (video)
A group of women in the northern Indian state of Haryana are campaigning to stop wearing the veil.
The “ghungat” covers the whole face and has traditionally been worn as a sign of respect for men.

11 October
Shashi Tharoor: India Stops Turning the Other Cheek
(Project Syndicate) For two and a half decades, Pakistan has pursued a policy of inflicting on India “death by a thousand cuts” – bleeding the country through repeated terrorist attacks, rather than attempting an open military confrontation which it cannot win against India’s superior conventional forces. The logic is that India’s response to this tactic would always be tempered by its desire not to derail its ambitious economic development plans, as well as the Indian government’s unwillingness to face the risk of a nuclear war.
But this predictable and repetitive pattern of India-Pakistan relations was suddenly disrupted on September 29, when India’s Director-General of Military Operations (DGMO), Lieutenant-General Ranbir Singh, announced that Indian commandos had conducted “surgical strikes” across the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir, the de facto international border between the two countries. The DGMO stated that the strikes, in the early hours of that morning, had destroyed terrorist “launch pads” and eliminated significant numbers of militants poised to cross over for attacks on the Indian side, as well as some who were protecting them (presumably a reference to Pakistani soldiers). …
Pakistani attempts to seek support against India were widely rebuffed, with Pakistan’s usual supporters, China and the US, mildly calling for both sides to defuse the tensions. In the days following the strikes, fears of further military escalation have subsided.
India also tightened the diplomatic screws on its recalcitrant neighbor, persuading other members of the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) to call off a planned summit in Islamabad as punishment for Pakistan’s bad behavior. India’s government also announced that it was undertaking a review of the Indus Waters Treaty, under which India has conceded to Pakistan, on generous terms, the waters of the Indus River, which originates in India, not even using the share to which it is entitled.

3 October
(Quartz) Another Indian army post was attacked. It was the second assault in two weeks on a base in the disputed Kashmir region. The Indian army didn’t identify the attackers. One border guard was killed and another wounded. India had launched “surgical strikes” a few days earlier against militants on the Pakistani side of the Line of Control.

30 September
The human and animal costs of India’s unregulated coal industry
(BBC) India is one of the largest producers of coal in the world and more than half of its commercial energy needs are met by coal.
But unregulated mining has caused serious health and environmental issues, and led to growing conflicts between elephants and humans.
In the coal-rich central state of Chhattisgarh, for example, fly ash has caused respiratory problems and serious illnesses like tuberculosis among people, but their troubles don’t end there.
Forests are being cleared for coal mining and wild elephants are entering villages in search of food and attacking people.

29 September
India’s “surgical strikes” aren’t a brave new idea, and they won’t stop Pakistan from backing terrorism
(Quartz India) If there was any doubt about India’s incapability to formulate a credible response to Pakistan’s provocations, and move towards a political settlement of bilateral disputes, this “surgical strike” and the way it has been presented at home (and abroad) puts an end to that debate.

18 September
India’s 007, Former Super Spy, Is Shaping Modi’s Foreign Policy
(Bloomberg) He spent seven years undercover in Pakistan, recruited rebels as informants in disputed Kashmir, and once disguised himself as a rickshaw driver to infiltrate a militant group inside India’s holiest Sikh temple. Now some consider Ajit Doval the most powerful person in India after Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Modi picked Doval as his National Security Advisor, a position that holds more sway than the ministers of defense and foreign affairs. It puts Doval in charge of talks with arch-rival Pakistan. He visits arms manufacturers to discuss strategic capabilities, and orchestrates the response to militant attacks, liaising daily with Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar, the nation’s top diplomat.
Since Doval took the job, he has supported a nationalist agenda while adopting a tougher line against hostile neighbors. That has growing economic ramifications as China funds a $45 billion trade corridor through Pakistan that bypasses India and as both China and India eye resource-rich neighbors in central Asia like Afghanistan.
Uri attack: Pressure on Modi govt to act decisively ‘now’ is visible, but must be well thought through
Written by C. Uday Bhaskar
Pak wages its proxy war with impunity. India should avoid falling into the trap of impulsive indignation
(The Indian Express) The audacious terror attack on a brigade headquarters in Uri in the early hours of Sunday, September 18, that resulted in the death of 17 Indian soldiers and injured over 20 troops is a very serious operational lapse. That four armed terrorists could kill so many soldiers in a fortified army camp is an illustration of the asymmetrical advantage that has progressively accrued to the adversary.
The loss of uniformed personnel in this manner against a determined and opaque adversary in the proximity of the LoC (Line of Control) draws attention to two interlinked issues: The complexity of the proxy war that Indian security forces have been dealing with in Jammu and Kashmir for 26 years and the chinks that the enemy is able to periodically exploit with impunity. …
In today’s politico-military environment, while ensuring an operational military advantage is imperative, winning the “story” is equally if not more important — especially in LIC and proxy war exigencies. Here, India has a chequered track record in relation to how it has dealt with the Kashmir issue over the years — and the political management of the Burhan Wani-related violence and turmoil in the Valley have not helped matters.
Post Uri, and the righteous national anger that is palpable, India will need to avoid the temptation of falling into the trap of impulsive indignation whenever Pakistan plays the terror card. The pressure on the Modi government to act decisively “now” is visible but this should be tempered by objective cost-benefit operational analysis.

13 September
(Quartz) India imposes a curfew on Kashmir during Eid. For the first time since unrest broke out in 1990, India is imposing a curfew during the Muslim festival in an effort to quell violence in the disputed territory. Drones and helicopters will conduct air surveillance, and internet and cellphone service will be suspended.

11 August
Why India needs a Daughters’ Day
(BBC) India has launched a campaign on social media to celebrate daughters, daughters-in-law and granddaughters this week and is observing a Daughter’s Day on Thursday.
Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi told the BBC that the Daughters’ Day and the Daughters’ Week were aimed at reducing female foeticide, improving India’s skewed sex ratio and educating girls.
A preference for sons has led to hundreds of thousands of female foetuses being aborted every year, at least 22 women are killed for dowry every day, a rape is reported every 22 minutes and every five minutes a woman is assaulted within her home.

20 July
Dozens killed as tensions flare between nuclear neighbors
(CBS News) Almost 45 people have been killed and more than 2,000 injured in 11 days of clashes between civilian protesters and Indian security forces in Kashmir.
Protesters in several districts of the Kashmir valley have defied a government curfew to throw stones at police and paramilitary forces. In response, the forces have used bullets, pellet guns and tear gas, leading to most of the deaths and injuries.
The police have come under heavy criticism from rights groups for the use of pellet guns to control the crowds. Children as young as five are among the 600 people left who’ve been left with pellet-scarred faces.
19 July
Facebook under fire for ‘censoring’ Kashmir-related posts and accounts
Photos, videos and accounts deleted after killing of militant by Indian army
‘Why is it that only Muslims get blocked?’ asks user after account blocked
(The Guardian) Burhan Wani, a senior member of the Hizbul Mujahideen rebel group was killed by the Indian army on 8 July. About 30 people died in the violent protests that spread across Kashmir in the aftermath of the killing, and an indefinite curfew has been introduced by the Indian government. Wani was considered a terrorist by the Indian authorities, but a freedom fighter by many Kashmiris and Pakistanis.
Kashmiris decry world’s silence over killings
Activists lament lack of condemnation from India and international powers for violence that killed at least 30 people.
9 June
With one eye on China, Modi’s India strikes up a firm friendship with the US, but will it endure?
Harsh V. Pant says the challenge for the Indian prime minister, who was on a visit to America this week, is to ensure bilateral cooperation has broad domestic support
(South China Morning Post) Even as Modi reinforces his credentials as the politician best placed to move forward not only Indian economic reforms but also Indo-US ties, he must address concerns about India’s record on religious tolerance as well as economic issues such as the protection of intellectual property and high tariffs.
23 May
India and Iran sign ‘historic’ Chabahar port deal
(BBC) Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced that India will build and operate a key Iranian port after his talks with President Hassan Rouhani.
India would invest $500m (£344m) to develop the strategically important Chabahar port, close to Iran’s border with Pakistan, he said.
The port would open a transit route to Afghanistan and Central Asia for Indian goods and products, avoiding the land route through Pakistan.
Delhi also wants to bring gas from Central Asia to the port and then transport it to India.

16 May
Poll: How Is Modi Sarkar Performing?
It is exactly two years since the Narendra Modi government was swept to power thanks to a powerful electoral wave. Opinion is sharply divided on the performance of the government. Mr Modi’s personal ratings seem to be intact. Many feel corruption has come down, and the Modi government has tried to improve governance. On the other hand, Indian institutions appear to be frailer, the minorities remain insecure, the media by and large subservient, and the noise around us is hateful. (Poll between May 16, 2016 – May 30, 2016)
13 May
New Delhi smog gettyimages-India’s Big Battle: Development Vs. Pollution
Indian cities are among the world’s most polluted. And India is the third-largest emitter of carbon dioxide. If it finds a sustainable way to develop, it could be a template for the rest of the world.
(NPR) With ambitious goals to improve the standard of living, and 400 million people already lacking reliable electricity, “This means we need to enhance the energy supply by four to five times what it is now,” says Ajay Mathur, a climate expert who runs the Energy and Resources Institute in New Delhi. He says no matter how fast India increases its clean energy, like solar and wind, the country will probably also double its use of coal between now and 2030.
Todd Stern, who served till last month as the top U.S. envoy on climate change, says India has a steeper hill to climb than anywhere else. “There is no country, probably, with a bigger challenge — looking at the number of people, the level of their economic growth, the number of people who don’t have access to electricity,” he says.
The impacts of climate change would hit people in India harder than almost anywhere else in the world, making it more vulnerable to flooding and drought. “Tropical cyclones are likely to become more intense. We’re also seeing that climate change is going to have an impact on the monsoon,” says Richard Hewston of the global risk assessment firm Verisk Maplecroft. …  New Delhi and Kolkata, with a combined population of more than 14 million, are on the top 10 list of global cities most vulnerable to natural hazards.
12 May
Air pollution rising at an ‘alarming rate’ in world’s cities
According to the new WHO database, levels of ultra-fine particles of less than 2.5 microns (PM2.5s) are highest in India, which has 16 of the world’s 30 most polluted cities.
26 February
(World Post) Less than two years into Narendra Modi’s first term as Indian prime minister, an alarming brand of hyper-nationalism is rising. Ministers and right-wing followers of Modi’s Hindu nationalist ruling party are labeling a growing number of student protesters, intellectuals and activists as “anti-national” simply for criticizing the government. The message is that you’re either with India and Modi or you’re not — and if you’re not, you may be accused of being a terrorist or of wanting the disintegration of India. Over 3,200 people were reportedly being held in January alone on executive orders without charge or trial.
Modi’s government appears to be a part of a neo-nationalist trend as inequality rises and economic challenges mount in India, China, Russia, Turkey and beyond. …
India’s economy is expected to grow more than 7 percent this year, one of the fastest rates in the world, but it’s struggled to create jobs, leaving millions feeling left behind, including thousands who recently protested. And it seems that Modi feels politically vulnerable — recently, he accused unnamed colluders of “hatching conspiracies every day to finish and defame me.”
In response, many fear that his Bharatiya Janata Party may be trying to replace India’s liberal democracy with an authoritarian Southeast Asian-style democracy that allows little political dissent. BJP politicians have also been fueling religious tensions with provocative speeches and proposals that target non-Hindus, particularly Muslims. Having lost key state elections, the BJP may be calculating that the race-and-religion card is their best bet to hold on to power.
Writing from New Delhi, Shivam Vij makes the case that Modi is using Hindu nationalism to deflect from the “palpable sense that he is unable to deliver” on campaign promises. Jesudas Athyal writes that establishing an Indian “Hindu nation” has long been a dream of right-wing Hindu nationalists and that they are seizing this moment to try to achieve it. Adrija Bose of HuffPost India suggests that an article from 2000 — warning of a “creeping fascism” by a “disillusioned and dispirited” Hindu right — reverberates today. From New Delhi, Aman Sethi details how the recent suicide of a low-caste student led to sweeping protests demanding equality and free speech.
22 February
India caste unrest: Ten million without water in Delhi
(BBC) More than 10 million people in India’s capital, Delhi, are without water after protesters sabotaged a key canal which supplies much of the city.
The army has [taken] control of the Munak canal after Jat community protesters, angry at caste job quotas, seized it.
Keshav Chandra, head of Delhi’s water board, told the BBC it would take “three to four days” before normal supplies resumed to affected areas.
All Delhi’s schools have been closed because of the water crisis.
Sixteen people have been killed and hundreds hurt in three days of riots.
17 February
This is a watershed moment for India. It must choose freedom over intolerance
Priyamvada Gopal
The arrest of the student leader Kanhaiya Kumar – charged with ‘anti-nationalism’ – is the latest repressive act by the BJP in the name of ‘Hindu-ness’
(The Guardian) The standoff at New Delhi’s famous Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) that has transfixed India has nothing of the routine campus controversy about it. Following the arrest of a student leader, India’s Hindu nationalist BJP government now finds itself facing down a large coalition of progressive groups laying claim to the idea of an India where the right to dissent is foundational.
For those committed to the idea of India as essentially a Hindu country, which includes many in the government of the prime minister, Narendra Modi, the list of potential “anti-nationals” appears to be compendious. It seems to include everyone from Muslim, Dalit, Christian, leftwing and liberal activists to those who question the Indian state’s actions in Kashmir or suggest that religious intolerance isn’t a good idea.
Until recently, this dispensation has had the benefit of an acquiescent, even cheerleading media, but that may be changing. Today, with journalists also facing down manhandling and violence from government supporters, even as some of their more rabid colleagues appear to be inciting it against JNU students, the situation reminds many of the horrors of the 1975-77 state of emergency. Now, as then, India is poised on the brink of a choice between the dangers of authoritarianism and its historic commitment to dissent. It is essential that the latter prevails.
2 January
Pathankot attack is ‘challenge’ for India: Defence Expert
New Delhi, Jan 02 (ANI): Defence Expert Uday Bhaskar on Saturday dubbed the attack on the Indian Air Force base in Punjab’s Pathankot as a ‘challenge to the nation’, saying that this year is likely to see more such attempts now that dialogues between India and Pakistan have improved. He said that the Pathankot attack is a challenge to India and the year 2016 is likely to see more such attempts and the context for this is that there has been an improvement as far as the bilateral India Pakistan dialogues are concerned. Bhaskar added that there are forces and constituencies that have tried to disrupt the bilateral relationship between both the nations.

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