AWAKENING INDIA | The Daily Star
  • Narendra Modi’s Potemkin Democracy

    Indian legislators woke up in the new year to two realisations. First, the annual winter session of parliament, from which they should just have been emerging, had not taken place at all. And, second, New Delhi’s magnificent parliament complex, a tourist attraction since it was built in 1927, had been turned into a construction site.

  • India’s China strategy is changing

    After last month’s clash in the Ladakh region’s Galwan Valley killed 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese troops, the two countries are settling in for a prolonged standoff on their disputed Himalayan frontier, even amid reports of a disengagement at the site of their recent clash.

  • What Happened to India?

    It’s a question I hear increasingly these days. International news media report on repression in Kashmir, mounting Hindu chauvinism, widespread protests against new laws, assaults on women, and more.

  • Narendra Modi’s second partition of India

    At a time when India’s major national priority ought to be cratering economic growth, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has instead plunged the country into a new political crisis of its own making.

  • Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi

    A Battle for India's Soul

    As India gears up for its general election, one must not lose sight of the sheer size of the exercise, which has been described as the “biggest humanly managed event in the world.”

  • Indian farmers in revolt

    When Prime Minister Narendra Modi led his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to a landslide victory in the 2014 general election, he promised to be all things to all voters, eloquently promising “achhe din” (good days) for India. One of his target audiences was farmers; the agriculture sector still accounts for 67 percent of employment, and he grandly promised farmers that his government would double their incomes by 2020. He swept their votes.

  • Is ethnic cleansing coming to India?

    Seventy-one years after the partition of India, and 47 years after the former East Pakistan became Bangladesh,

  • India's social-media lynch mobs

    Social-media platforms are often criticised for their susceptibility to toxic dialogue and vicious attacks. It is a problem that India knows well. Just ask External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, whose recent vilification by members and supporters of her own ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is a case in point.

  • The Modi-Erdogan Parallel

    Comparisons are generally invidious, especially when they involve political leaders from different countries.

  • India's Big Leaky Data

    India has no coltan or rare earths, little oil, and not enough water. What it does have is people—1.3 billion and counting. That makes

  • Beyond the smoke and mirror

    "History,” Winston Churchill said, “will be kind to me, for I intend to write it myself.” He needn't have bothered. He was one of the great mass murderers of the 20th century, yet is the only one, unlike Hitler and Stalin, to have escaped historical odium in the West. He has been crowned with a Nobel Prize (for literature, no less), and now, an actor portraying him (Gary Oldman) has been awarded an Oscar.

  • India's culture war comes to Bollywood

    Culture and history have become new battlegrounds in India. Debates over the Taj Mahal's position as a symbol of multicultural India have yet to be settled, yet the nation is already being torn apart further by another cultural controversy—this time, over a film.

  • The Siege of the Taj Mahal

    In a country where politics has turned toxic, leading virtually everything—from festival firecrackers to animal husbandry—to take on a “communal” religious colouring, perhaps it should not be surprising that even one of the world's most famous monuments has become a target. But that doesn't make it any less tragic—or destructive.

  • The two backlashes against globalisation

    When I left India for graduate school in the United States in 1975, the word “globalisation” was not in use anywhere in the world.

  • The harsh truth about India's godmen

    Late last month, when two Indian states and the national capital were held to ransom by rioting mobs protesting their spiritual leader's conviction on two counts of raping minor girls, many Indians found themselves confronting several painful truths about their country.

  • India, a land of belonging

    Seventy years ago this month, at midnight on August 15, 1947, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru proclaimed India's independence from the British Empire. Nehru called it “a moment that comes but rarely in history, when we pass from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.” With that, the country embarked on a remarkable experiment in governance that continues to this day.

  • Why India should scrap parliamentary democracy

    India's parliamentary system, inherited from the British, is rife with ineffiencies. By the logic of Westminster, you elect a legislature to form the executive, and when the executive does not command a secure majority in the legislative assembly, the government falls, triggering fresh elections.

  • The End of US Soft Power?

    One major casualty of Donald Trump's victory in the bruising US presidential election is, without a doubt, America's soft power around the world. It is a development that will be difficult – perhaps even impossible – to reverse, especially for Trump.

  • India's prohibition hypocrisy

    India's prohibition hypocrisy

    Last month, 18 people in the Gopalganj district of India's Bihar state died after consuming illicit alcohol, highlighting – once again – the peculiar relationship between morality and tragedy in India.

  • India's cow

    India's cow vigilantes

    Indian politics continues to amaze and appal. The surge in cow vigilantism — a uniquely Indian phenomenon that has lately begun to flourish under the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government — is no exception.

  • India's Jewel in the Crown

    Prime Minister David Cameron declared outright that the Kohinoor would have to “stay put,” because “if you say yes to one, you would suddenly find the British Museum would be empty.” With Kumar having essentially taken Britain's side on the Kohinoor issue, albeit for different reasons, nationalists like me are losing hope that we will get that priceless element of our heritage back.

  • Section 377 - An archaic, discriminatory law

    Sixty-six years after adopting one of the world's most liberal constitutions, India is being convulsed by a searing debate over...

  • India's Antiquated Penal Code

    A number of seemingly unrelated controversies in India actually have one important element in common: They all relate to criminal

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