When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

TOPIC: india

Ideas

Modi's Fight Against "Fake News" Looks A Whole Lot Like Censorship

The Modi government’s attempts to censor the media and intimidate independent journalism pose a grave danger to Indian democracy.

A distinct chill has set in this January.

The first month of the New Year has spelt trouble for anybody interested in India’s future as a democracy – where freedom of expression ought to be guaranteed. Not to speak of our newly minted status as the "mother of democracy."

There are things happening, which must be seen together to understand the reality: Censorship is here.

Watch Video Show less

Joshimath, The Sinking Indian City Has Also Become A Hotbed Of Government Censorship

The Indian authorities' decision to hide factual reports on the land subsidence in Joshimath only furthers a sense of paranoia.

MUMBAI — Midway through the movie Don’t Look Up (2021), the outspoken PhD candidate Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) is bundled into a car, a bag over her head. The White House, we are told, wants her “off the grid”. She is taken to a warehouse – the sort of place where CIA and FBI agents seem to spend an inordinate amount of time in Hollywood movies – and charged with violating national security secrets.

The Hobson’s choice offered to her is to either face prosecution or suspend “all public media appearances and incendiary language relating to Comet Dibiasky”, an interstellar object on a collision course with earth. Exasperated, she acquiesces to the gag order.

Don’t Look Up is a satirical take on the collective apathy towards climate change; only, the slow burn of fossil fuel is replaced by the more imminent threat of a comet crashing into our planet. As a couple of scientists try to warn humanity about its potential extinction, they discover a media, an administration, and indeed, a society that is not just unwilling to face the truth but would even deny it.

This premise and the caricatured characters border on the farcical, with plot devices designed to produce absurd scenarios that would be inconceivable in the real world we inhabit. After all, would any government dealing with a natural disaster, issue an edict prohibiting researchers and scientists from talking about the event? Surely not. Right?

On January 11, the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), one of the centers of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), issued a preliminary report on the land subsidence issue occurring in Joshimath, the mountainside city in the Himalayas.

The word ‘subsidence’ entered the public lexicon at the turn of the year as disturbing images of cracked roads and tilted buildings began to emanate from Joshimath.

Keep reading... Show less

China v. India: A New Twist In Asia's "Billion Club" Rivalry

The news that China's population has shrunk for the first time in 60 years, comes as India appears to be outperforming its giant neighbor on a number of fronts. But this reversal of fortune still has too many variables to predict the demise of one or the rise of the other.

-Analysis-

PARIS — China and India have at least one notable feature in common: the Asian giants are the only two countries in the world with a population above one billion. Yet Beijing announced this week that China has registered its first decline in number of inhabitants after 60 years of continuous expansion. This comes as India’s population continues to grow — on the path to overtake China as the world's most populous country.

Keep reading... Show less

The Everyday Weight Of Wearing A Hijab In India

Several Muslim women who wear hijabs share their stories to highlight the discrimination, from disapproving looks to outright insults, they face everyday in India in both their personal and professional lives.

On September 20, 2022, the government of Karnataka told the Supreme Court that Muslims girls in Udupi were goaded into wearing a hijab to school by the Islamic Popular Front of India (PFI) through social media messages. The state government made the argument while responding to a petition challenging the ban on wearing a hijab to school imposed by Karnataka, and upheld by the state high court. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the apex court that wearing a hijab was part of a "larger conspiracy" orchestrated by the PFI to create social unrest.

On October 13 this year, the Supreme Court of India delivered a split verdict on pleas challenging the Karnataka high court order that had upheld the ban. A constitutional bench comprising the Chief Justice of India will now examine whether Muslim girls can or cannot wear a head scarf in school.

As of December 1 this year, there were 69,598 cases pending before the Supreme Court. The backlog includes petitions challenging the Modi government’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 and pleas challenging the government’s decision to dilute Article 370 of the Constitution. These have been pending for more than two years. Despite the urgency of matters that have been placed on the back burner, the apex court is being forced to spend its time deciding whether schoolgoing Muslim girls can get an education while wearing a head scarf, a tradition some Muslims believe is integral their faith.

The ban on wearing a hijab in classrooms may have highlighted the Karnataka government’s intolerance towards minorities, but the bias against the head scarf, it seems, is an old one.

Keep reading... Show less
Ideas
Édouard Tétreau

Strange And Cruel As It Sounds, 2022 Was A Year Of Hope

Many lives have been lost, rights trampled and dreams crushed. But through the haze, the world took the right turn on many fronts this past year, from Ukraine to Iran to China. Trying to take stock amid the suffering.

The starting premise is a bit daring: to associate 2022 with good news seems naïve at best.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine caused the death, rape and torture of thousands of people.

In China, the iron-fisted 69-year-old Communist leader Xi Jinping strengthened his control over the Chinese population and looks set to stay in power for life. Meanwhile, in Iran, clerics continue to brutally suppress women’s protests for equal rights; in Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to invade Greece.

Of course, it’s hard to speak of a “triumph” of Western democracies, many of which are stuck in sluggish, inconclusive elections: a French executive that lacks a clear majority, Liz Truss in the UK and the probably transient Giorgia Meloni in Italy. And yet...

Watch Video Show less
In The News
Renate Mattar, Emma Albright, Hugo Perrin and Anne-Sophie Goninet

Zelensky’s Whirlwind Trip, Netanyahu’s New Government, Spain’s Hottest Year

👋 Manao ahoana!*

Welcome to Thursday, where Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky concludes a historic visit to Washington, Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu forms a new government after weeks of negotiations with far-right partners, and 2022 was más caliente in Spain. Meanwhile, we look at Donald Trump’s current legal woes and how they look in countries where recent presidents have been prosecuted.

[*Malagasy, Madagascar]

Watch Video Show less
Society
Jehangir Ali

Deadly Virus Shakes Indian Village's Faith In Traditional Healers

An outbreak of Hepatitis-A led to the deaths of two children in an isolated village in Kashmir. Some point fingers at the lack of surveillance by trained doctors and poor sanitation, and others, to the faith villagers place in traditional healers.

TURKA TACHLOO Eight-year-old Afaan Altaf first lost his appetite. Then the child’s face and eyes started to pale. Within two days, he began to vomit.

The Altafs live in Turka Tachloo, a village of south Kashmir’s Kulgam district and were worried about Afaan. In early December, Afaan’s father Mohammad Altaf, a farmer, decided to visit the Maternity and Child Care hospital in the nearby town of Anantnag.

Official records show that Afaan had tested positive for Hepatitis-A on December 3 following an outbreak of the viral infection in Turka Tachloo. The village, located 54 kilometres from Srinagar, the largest city of Jammu and Kashmir, comprises about 240 households, most of which are poor and depend on agriculture.

Watch Video Show less
This Happened

This Happened—December 16: New Delhi Bus Attack

Commonly known as the Nirbhaya case, in Munirka, a neighborhood in South West Delhi, Jyoti Singh, a 22-year-old physiotherapy intern, was beaten, gang-raped, and tortured in a private bus while traveling with a friend.

Sign up to receive This Happened straight to your inbox each day!

Watch Video Show less
Green
Mubashir Naik

Fading Flavor: Production Of Saffron Declines Sharply

Saffron is well-known for its flavor and its expense. But in Kashmir, one of the flew places it grows, cultivation has fallen dramatically thanks for climate change, industry, and farming methods.

In northern India along the bustling Jammu-Srinagar national highway near Pampore — known as the saffron town of Kashmir —people are busy picking up saffron flowers to fill their wicker baskets.

During the autumn season, this is a common sight in the Valley as saffron harvesting is celebrated like a festival in Kashmir. The crop is harvested once a year from October 21 to mid-November.

Watch Video Show less
This Happened

This Happened—December 3: Bhopal, Industrial Horror In India

Considered the world’s worst industrial incident in modern times, the Bhopal gas tragedy was a chemical accident at a pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India.

Sign up to receive This Happened straight to your inbox each day!

Watch Video Show less
Ideas
Siddharth Varadarajan

Rishi Sunak, One British Lesson That India Should Heed

Britain has a new prime minister of Indian origin, Rishi Sunak. In India, Muslims are regularly stigmatized and excluded from public life. Sunak taking the UK's top job is a proud moment, but it should also be a moment for introspection.

-Essay-

NEW DELHI — I lived in London from 1979 to 1986 — as a student rather than as a migrant — but saw enough of British life then to appreciate exactly how far the country has travelled in the 36 years since I left its shores.

I was 14 when my father was posted to London, and 21 when I moved to New York. In those seven years, I completed my ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels from a comprehensive school in a South London working class neighborhood and went on to read economics at the London School of Economics.

Margaret Thatcher was prime minister throughout this time, casual racist violence by fascist thugs from the National Front and British National Party was a fairly routine occurrence and the racism of the police — especially towards young people from the Black community — was a fact of life.

Watch Video Show less
Ideas
Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd*

Rishi Sunak May Become Britain's First Hindu Prime Minister — A Lesson For India

Rishi Sunak, a Hindu of Indian origin, is in the running to become the UK's next prime minister. His religion has not factored at all into debates — a fierce contrast to a religiously divided India.

This article was updated on October 23 at 5:45 p.m. EST

-Analysis-

NEW DELHI — Rishi Sunak, a British politician of Indian origin, is now the clear frontrunner to be the next prime minister of the United Kingdom after Boris Johnson''s announcement that he won't seek the leadership of the Conservative party following the resignation of Prime Minister Liz Truss.

Sunake is the most recent person of Indian descent in the West to try to reach the political pinnacle, coming on the heels of Kamala Harris’s arrival as U.S. vice president.

Britain was once the colonial master of India. From an Indian point of view, the British prime minister is the historical political head of an empire of exploitation – and also, let us remember, an empire of reform. Were it not for British colonial rule, and the rights-oriented struggle for freedom against it, India would not have become a democratic, constitutional republic in 1947, however loudly we claim that the roots of our democracy lie in our ancient structures, whether Hindu or Buddhist.

All major aspects of our freedom struggle and colonial life were linked to the British political system. Particularly from the beginning of the 20th century, Indians considered the British prime minister the symbol of colonial rule, the man to revile or to appeal to.

Given this historical context, that a man of Indian origin stands a realistic chance of becoming the British prime minister shows how the world is changing.

Watch Video Show less