The Indian government of Narendra Modi is being criticized for generating fewer jobs, cracking down on labor rights and its myopic focus on foreign investments in its three years in office.
In a freewheeling conversation with Siddharth Varadarajan, the celebrated historian discusses the place of nationalism in contemporary Indian politics, the role of the media and of the public intellectual
Siddharth Varadarajan: Is critical thinking in India somehow under threat? In posing this question, I had in mind not just overt or covert pressures from the state, or political figures or political authority, but also, in a sense, public attitudes. The growing tendency for the public to acquiesce in the state’s own intolerant attitude towards dissent, towards difference, the ease with which the middle class buys into hero worship, cult of personality, excessive valorisation of the nation; these are all very much a part of present day India.
If you look at the election of Donald Trump, or if you look at political trends in Europe, then clearly this may also be a global phenomenon. Of course, the ‘closing of the Indian mind’ has been going on for some time – I would say for longer than the tenure of the present government, you can trace it back a decade or longer. But there is a sense in which these negative trends have accentuated or sharpened over the past two and a half years. In 2015, we saw the debate over tolerance and intolerance – when artists, writers, cultural personalities mounted a critique of the government’s own toleration of violence, and its failure to act when minorities were being targeted – and the prickly way in which government ministers responded. And then in 2016, the attack seems to have shifted to the university. We saw the way events unfolded in Jawahar Lal Nehru University. I would say things have since moved on – we have a very toxic media environment where excessive jingoism seems to have become the norm and you have a situation where the executive branch of government is encroaching on virtually every countervailing institution this country has: the judiciary, parliament, the central bank, the media etc. Continue reading
Video footage showing a young man tied to the front of an army vehicle being paraded in a village located in central Kashmir’s Budgam district went viral last week over social media. A Hindi-speaker is heard in the background saying, “Stone throwers will meet a similar fate.”
An army spokesperson, Colonel Rajesh Kalia, said in a statement, “The contents of the video are being verified and investigated.”
Internet services including the broadband connections in Kashmir were shut down the night before the by-elections on April 9, and resumed on April 13, after which the videos started surfacing online, reported the Economic Times. The area was the scene of violent demonstrations last weekend as Indian police and paramilitary forces clashed with protesters. During the unrest, the government forces killed eight civilians and injured more than 150 others, also obstructing the polling in the region.
A 7.14 voter turnout was recorded initially but the re-poll at 38 polling stations later showed a mere 2 percent voter turnout. “Only 709 of the 34,169 voters exercised their franchise across all the 38 polling stations by the time the polling ended at 4 pm,” an election official told the Hindustan Times Thursday.
I want to punish the men who did this to me,” said Lata, who is part of the first cohort.
A new facility opened up in India — the School of Justice — has an inaugural class of 19 girls, all of whom were formerly trafficked into sex work and will now study toward becoming lawyers in order to fight back against their perpetrators.
The school, which opened on April 6, is a joint project between India’s chapter of the anti-sex trafficking organization Free a Girl, and one of the top law schools in the country.
Lata, who is part of the first cohort, and who was sold to a brothel by her ex-husband shortly after she got married, told Mashable, “Becoming a lawyer is my dream, and bringing justice to those responsible for forced child prostitution is my goal … I want to punish the men who did this to me.”
The inaugural class will see the girls, aged between 19 and 26, take classes to prepare for law exams, and receive tutoring and mentoring. When they graduate, they will receive law degrees, specialized on commercial sexual exploitation cases.