India September 2022-

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India March 2021-September 2022

India: The Modi Question (video episodes 1 & 2)
A look at the tensions between Indian PM Narendra Modi and India’s Muslim minority, investigating claims about his role in the 2002 riots that left over a thousand dead.
(BBC) Narendra Modi is the leader of the world’s largest democracy, a man who has been elected twice as India’s prime minister and is widely seen as the most powerful politician of his generation. Seen by the west as an important bulwark against Chinese domination of Asia, he has been courted as a key ally by both the US and the UK.
Yet Narendra Modi’s premiership has been dogged by persistent allegations about the attitude of his government towards India’s Muslim population. This series investigates the truth behind these allegations and examines Modi’s backstory to explore other questions about his politics when it comes to India’s largest religious minority. (17 January 2023)

3 February
More Than 500 Indian Scientists, Academics Slam Govt for Blocking BBC Documentary on Modi
(The Wire) The justification that the documentary “undermines the sovereignty and integrity of India” does not withstand scrutiny, they said in a statement.
They said that the removal of the two-part documentary, titled India: the Modi Question, violates the right of Indian citizens to access and discuss important information about society and government.
They also slammed the decisions taken by university administrations to prevent the screening of the documentary. “This violates the principles of academic freedom. Universities should encourage open discussions on social and political questions. Such discussions are crucial for the proper functioning of a democratic society. It is unacceptable for Universities to block the expression of some views, merely because they are critical of the government,” the scientists and academics said.

25 January
Narendra Modi’s Censorship Has Reached an Alarming New Level
In India. On American social media. He even muzzled the Internet Archive.
(Slate) Modern-day Indian democracy has no compunction about mass censorship. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has weakened the country’s once robust press, persecuting adversarial reporters and independent outlets. Though such hostility has become so pervasive as to become old news itself, the government’s latest attack on free speech and journalism has been greeted with widespread alarm—and for good reason.
Last week, the BBC broadcast the first hour of a new two-part documentary, India: The Modi Question, to TVs across Britain and on its website; the second half of the series aired Tuesday. The doc as a whole probes Modi’s stints in political power, from his time as chief minister of the state of Gujarat to his current tenure as prime minister, and his mistreatment of India’s Muslims along the way. Given the overwhelming international documentation of Islamophobic persecution under Modi’s watch, it couldn’t have been a surprise that The Modi Question features ample reporting on the now–prime minister’s history of bigoted governance; the BBC is hardly the first outlet to spotlight this. Yet just days after the first portion aired, Indian government ministers disparaged the film as “propaganda” with a “lack of objectivity” and a “colonial mindset.” (In response, the BBC pointed out that its movie included responses from members of Modi’s political outfit, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, and that the government declined its request for a reply.)


29 December
Independent journalists in India are being targeted for their critical reporting
(NPR) Investigative reporter and Washington Post columnist Rana Ayyub “at this point of time, the kind of press censorship that we are witnessing in India, where journalists are being silenced, arrested for stories they have not even reported – when one of India’s leading industrialists close to Narendra Modi has taken over one of the few independent press bodies’ news channels in India and when the prime minister of the country has not taken a single press conference in the last eight years, who does not believe he needs to address the media – I feel like there is nothing like press freedom in the world’s largest democracy of 1.3 billion people. We need to have a robust press, and that is absent because most of the mainstream media is literally repeating the government’s line, and the ones who are independent, who are critical, are paying a price for doing that.”

25 December
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky seeks India PM Modi’s help with ‘peace formula’
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday said he sought India’s help with implementing a “peace formula” in a phone call with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“I had a phone call with PM Narendra Modi and wished a successful G20 presidency,” Zelensky wrote on Twitter. “It was on this platform that I announced the peace formula and now I count on India’s participation in its implementation.”

24 November
On foreign policy, India is reliably unreliable
The shifting balance of power obscures the continuity in India’s global ambitions
(The Economist) When India formally takes the helm of the g20 on December 1st, it will do so as a prominent, sought-after actor on the world stage. Having refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it was praised this month for its contribution to a joint declaration of leaders in Bali that did so implicitly. It then helped create a fund at the UN climate talks in Egypt to compensate developing countries for climate-related damage. This week Jon Finer, America’s deputy national security adviser, described India as “very high” on America’s list of partners that “can truly help move forward a global agenda”.
Supporters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party often attribute India’s growing stature to a more assertive foreign policy that dispenses with the deference and dithering which, they say, characterised the approach of previous governments. Mr Modi, a charismatic Hindu nationalist who claims to want to be the “world’s guru”, is said to epitomise that change. “In India’s case, nationalism has in fact led to greater internationalism,” said the foreign minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, in a landmark speech on the evolution of Indian foreign policy. Yet setting aside its nationalist rhetoric, the Modi government’s approach and objectives abroad are remarkably similar to its predecessors’. …(pay wall)

20 November
C Uday Bhaskar: Geopolitical rift at G20 meet
As India assumes the G20 responsibility on December 1, the historical recall with November 17, 1962, when Delhi had to face the ignominy of a national security meltdown in dealing with China cannot be ignored. While India has the pedigree and the potential to play a valuable global role, this cannot be at the cost of jeopardising its own core national interests that are abiding.
The major strategic dissonance in Bali was the tension between US and China
The baton of the G20 president was formally handed over to PM Modi in Bali by the Indonesian President Joko Widodo on November 16 and the outcome of this summit is relevant to India at many levels that are interlinked. The G20 agenda, much to the dismay of the host, was overshadowed by the bilateral meeting between the US President and his Chinese counterpart, as also the long-drawn-out war in Ukraine and a missile strike on Poland. However to his credit, President Widodo was able to ‘herd the cats’, as it were, and steer the deliberations towards a final joint communiqué which is a remarkable demonstration of his resolve in dealing with all kinds of high-octane challenges and political minefields in the months preceding the Bali summit. …
The most critical part of the joint statement issued by the G20 Summit was more geopolitical in nature, and from the Indian perspective, there was also an implicit acknowledgement of PM Modi’s exhortation to Russian President Vladimir Putin regarding war not being an option in this day and age. The relevant section asserted: ‘The use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible. The peaceful resolution of conflicts, efforts to address crises, as well as diplomacy and dialogue, are vital. Today’s era must not be of war.’

29 September
On the front lines of the fight against strongman politics
(CBC Radio Ideas) The world’s largest democracy, India, has seen its relatively stable democratic freedoms decline with the rise of Narendra Modi.
The suspension of historical autonomy and further restrictions on political freedoms in Jammu and Kashmir; the marginalizing of religious minorities — especially Muslims — as Modi’s political rhetoric enfolds a Hindu-first narrative; and the implementation of a national register of citizens which has critics fearing generation-long residents of India will be stripped of their citizenship, are all examples cited by critics as examples of Modi’s shift toward authoritarian governance.

India’s New CDS: Will Gen Chauhan Inherit Rawat’s Monumental Military Legacy?
While Rawat soldiered on as Chief Adviser to the Raksha Mantri, quite evidently, this was an overload of high order
C Uday Bhaskar
(The Quint) The Modi government appointed Lt Gen Anil Chauhan (Retired)as the next Chief of Defence Staff(CDS) on Wednesday, 28 September, thereby filling a critical post in the highest echelons of the national security lattice that has remained vacant since the tragic death of the first incumbent, General Bipin Rawat in an ill-fated helicopter crash in December last year.
The fact that the government took almost 10 months to arrive at this decision is reflective, presumably, of the internal deliberations that may have taken place to identify the new incumbent, who will now inherit many transformative challenges in re-wiring the Indian military and enhancing its combined efficacy as India’s second CDS.

26 September
Hindu nationalists now pose a global problem
The recent UK violence should serve as a wake-up call. Hindu nationalism is no longer a worry just in India.
Somdeep Sen, Associate Professor of International Development Studies at Roskilde University
(Al Jazeera) … The scourge of Hindu nationalism has gone global.
… Undoubtedly, the rise of Hindu nationalism globally has much to do with the rise of Modi.
Since becoming prime minister in 2014, he has overseen a highly controversial citizenship reform that discriminates against Muslim asylum seekers, scrapped the constitutionally guaranteed autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir and built a temple at the location of a historic mosque demolished by Hindu hardliners in 1992. All while going after opposition leaders, activists and critics.
Modi’s success in delivering on Hindutva’s promises at home has inspired his supporters in the diaspora to exude a sense of chauvinistic pride abroad.
However, world leaders are guilty too, of legitimising Modi, giving this subsection of Hindu expatriates the conviction that their bigoted vision has some global cache. From Trump to former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and from former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, multiple right-wing politicians have presented themselves as “friends” of Modi.
Hindu nationalism cannot be ignored any more as a domestic, Indian issue. The movement has gone international – and is taking an increasingly violent form in other countries too. It is now a threat to democratic principles, equality and human rights everywhere. India under Modi will not address it. The world must.

24 September
The New India: Expanding Influence Abroad, Straining Democracy at Home
As India rises, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has faced little pushback as he weaponizes institutions to consolidate power and entrench his Hindu nationalist vision.
By Mujib Mashal
(NYT) On the margins of a summit meant as a show of force for a Russian leader seeking a turnaround on the battlefield, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India leaned in with a different message.
“Democracy, diplomacy and dialogue” — not war — is the answer, he told Vladimir V. Putin as the cameras rolled this month, before declaring that the two would speak more about how to bring peace in Ukraine.
That assured interaction in Uzbekistan was the latest display of India’s rise under Mr. Modi. An ambitious and assertive power, India has become increasingly indispensable in the search for answers to some of the world’s most pressing challenges, from diplomacy to climate change to technology and trade to efforts at diversifying supply chains to counter China.
It is India’s credentials as the world’s largest democracy that Mr. Modi rides on the global stage. But at home, diplomats, analysts and activists say, Mr. Modi’s government is undertaking a project to remake India’s democracy unlike any in its 75 years of independence — stifling dissent, sidelining civilian institutions and making minorities second-class citizens.

20 September
What is Hindu nationalism and how does it relate to trouble in Leicester?
Hindutva is the predominant form in India and has been associated with rightwing extremism

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