The music videos began appearing on social media within hours of the announcement by India’s Hindu-led nationalist government that it was stripping statehood from the disputed region of Kashmir that had been in place for decades. The songs delivered a message to India’s 250 million YouTube users about moving to the Muslim-majority region, buying land there and marrying Kashmiri women. It’s the latest example of a growing genre in India known as “patriotism pop” — songs flooding social media about nationalism and the country’s burgeoning right-wing ideology. Earlier songs were limited to the rise of Hindus in India, defeating regional rival Pakistan and hoisting the Indian flag in every household. Now, they include settling in Kashmir — a rugged and beautiful Himalayan region claimed by both Pakistan and India, although both countries control only a portion of it. On Aug. 5, Prime Minister Narendra Modi revoked Kashmir’s decades-old special status that was guaranteed under Article 370 of India’s Constitution and sent thousands of troops to the region. The move has touched off anger in the Indian-controlled region, which has been under a security lockdown that has seen thousands detained to prevent protests there. One of Modi’s revisions allows anyone to buy land in the territory, which some Kashmiris fear could mean an influx of Hindus who would change the region’s culture and demographics. Critics have likened it to Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories. The patriotic songs are mostly shared on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and the fast-growing app TikTok, which
The achingly beautiful Himalayan valley was flooded with soldiers and roadblocks of razor wire. Phone lines were cut, internet connections switched off, politicians arrested. Public gatherings were banned. The prime minister of the world’s largest democracy had clamped down on Kashmir to near-totalitarian levels. And Narendra Modi’s country reacted with roaring approval: As he had Kashmir stripped of statehood and its special constitutional status, even some of his political opponents were calling out support. Modi, a Hindu nationalist by the time he was 10 years old, had upended life in India’s only Muslim-majority state, flexing those nationalist muscles for his millions of followers. They loved him for it. “All of Kashmir is ours!” a jubilant middle-aged demonstrator, draped in the saffron-colored scarf of a Hindu, shouted during a New Delhi street celebration just before Parliament voted to end Kashmir’s decades of semi-autonomy. “Modi has fulfilled another promise,” said a more quiet-spoken supporter, Sushanto Sen, a retired senior manager with an aerospace and defense company, who lives in the crowded north Indian city of Lucknow. “Kashmir is part of India, and whatever rules apply to us should apply to others too.” To his critics, Modi is an authoritarian manipulator who wants to turn India into an avowedly Hindu nation. But to his supporters, Modi is an incorruptible ascetic unafraid to tell the truth — a man who understands what it means to be poor but, like so many of his supporters, wants India to be treated with respect by the rest
India’s recent national election delivered a historic victory to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party, but also exposed the influence of money, power and questionable morality on the world’s largest democracy. Nearly 43% of the new members of the lower house of Parliament that convenes Monday for the first time since the election won despite facing criminal charges. More than a quarter of those relate to rape, murder or attempted murder, according to a report by the civic group Association of Democratic Reforms. The loophole that allows them to take office is that they have not been convicted — in part because the Indian legal system has a huge backlog of an estimated 30 million cases and trials often last decades. When asked about the charges against them, they invariably accuse a political rival of framing them. Since such rivalries often lead to false accusations, the main political parties say it would be unfair to bar people from contesting elections unless they have been convicted by court. Under existing laws, only those who have been sentenced to prison for two years or more can be barred from elections. Members of Parliament with criminal backgrounds is not a new phenomenon in India, but despite Modi’s campaign vow in 2014 to clean up corruption and the influence of money in politics, the problem appears to be only growing worse. In the 2004 national election, the percentage of candidates with pending criminal cases was 24%, which rose to 33% in 2009, 34%
India will not invite Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to the swearing-in of his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, two Indian government sources said, suggesting any early warming in ties between the nuclear-armed neighbours is unlikely. Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan have fought three wars since their independence from Britain in 1947, and came close to a fourth in February after a suicide bomb attack by a Pakistan-based militant group killed at least 40 Indian police in the contested Kashmir region. Narendra Modi begins his second term as prime minister on Thursday after a convincing election victory which political analysts say was helped by his handling of that tension with Pakistan. The Indian government said in a statement on Monday the leaders of Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal, and Bhutan – all members, with India, of the little-known Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) – had been invited to the swearing-in. “This is in line with government’s focus on its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy,” a government spokesman said. The leaders of Kyrgyzstan and Mauritius have also been invited. But two sources in Indian’s foreign ministry said Pakistan will not be on the list, without providing further information. Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi suggested the reason was India’s internal politics, after Modi had made “Pakistan bashing” the central theme of his election campaign. “To expect that he will get rid of his narrative and invite the entire opposition to criticise him, it was not possible,” Qureshi
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi won a second term in office after responding to a suicide attack on Indian paramilitary forces in troubled Kashmir with an airstrike inside Pakistan, allowing him to turn voters’ attention away from the country’s highest unemployment rate in decades. Now, after his swearing-in on Thursday, he will need to deftly navigate a trade war between the United States and China and rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran, an important source of cheap oil for India’s fast-growing economy. Modi will also face pressure to protect India’s traditional sphere of influence in South Asia. Many Modi supporters credit the 68-year-old leader of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party with India’s growing status abroad, and messages from U.S. President Donald Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulating him on his party’s victory even before all results were in seemed to bolster that belief. Lalit Mansingh, a former Indian ambassador to Washington, said foreign policy has been one of Modi’s most pronounced achievements, as he pursued it with vigor “that we have not seen in any other prime minister so far.” As Modi returns to power for another five years, global leaders are looking to India to take on a larger burden of responsibility in the world, acting as a security buffer in the Indo-Pacific, opening its markets and responding to climate change, even though Modi struggled to manage many of India’s domestic issues in his first term. “Maneuvering
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has swept to a huge election victory, his foreign minister said on Thursday, giving his party a mandate to pursue policies that put Hindus first, are mainly business-friendly and take a hard line on national security. Official data from India’s Election Commission showed Modi’s Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead in 294 of the 542 seats available, more than the 272 seats needed for a majority in the lower house of parliament. That would give it the first back-to-back majority for a single party since 1984. The main opposition Congress Party was ahead in 50 seats, figures showed. Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, also a senior BJP leader, said on Twitter the BJP had won a “massive victory”. The mood was upbeat at BJP headquarters in New Delhi, with party workers setting off firecrackers and cheering as TV channels reported the margin of victory. Official data from India’s Election Commission showed Modi’s Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead in 294 of the 542 seats available, more than the 272 seats needed for a majority in the lower house of parliament. That would give it the first back-to-back majority for a single party since 1984. The main opposition Congress Party was ahead in 50 seats, figures showed. Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, also a senior BJP leader, said on Twitter the BJP had won a “massive victory”. The mood was upbeat at BJP headquarters in New Delhi, with party workers setting off firecrackers and cheering as TV channels
For nearly a decade, Pragya Thakur was known mostly as the saffron-clad Hindu ascetic shuttling in and out of Indian courts, flanked by police, facing charges under an anti-terrorism law for plotting a bomb attack on Muslims. Last month, the 49-year-old was fielded as a candidate by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the current general election, in which he is seeking a second term. Overnight, Thakur, who has been out on bail since 2017, emerged as a symbol of a Hindu nationalist movement that is showing increasing intolerance towards Muslims in the Hindu-dominated nation. The five years of Modi’s rule have seen an increasing number of attacks on Muslims by right-wing groups. But the brazenness of Thakur’s candidacy has still stunned many. It’s the first time a leading political party in India has fielded a candidate accused of terrorism in an election. “They are addressing a very extreme form of the Hindutva fold,” said Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, a New Delhi-based biographer of Modi, referring to the BJP’s Hindu-first ideology. Thakur says she had nothing to do with the 2008 explosion near several mosques in the Muslim-majority town of Malegaon in western India. Six Muslims were killed and more than a hundred people injured. According to court filings, the motorcycle on which the explosives were strapped was Thakur’s, and she was among those who planned the attack to avenge “jihadi activities.” Indian law allows candidates charged with crimes to contest elections, but not convicts. The trial against
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling coalition is confident of a second term in office but opposition parties are talking to each other to seal an alliance, hoping to topple him after general election results are announced on May 23. The seven-phase election started on April 11 and ends on May 19. Below is how India’s biggest parties are aligned. NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC ALLIANCE (NDA) BHARATIYA JANATA PARTY (BJP): Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist BJP leads the NDA and won 282 seats in the last election five years ago. There are 545 seats in the lower house of parliament, two of which are nominated by the president from the Anglo-Indian community. ALL INDIA ANNA DRAVIDA MUNNETRA KAZHAGAM (AIADMK): The third-biggest party and Narendra Modi’s biggest partner in the south of the country, the BJP’s weakest region. The AIADMK won 37 of the 40 seats it contested the last time, but the death of its charismatic leader, J. Jayalalithaa, in 2016 could affect its performance. SHIV SENA: The hardline Hindu party, based in India’s financial capital Mumbai, is in an on-off relationship with the BJP. The parties sealed an alliance before this election, with the construction of a Hindu temple at a controversial site in the north being one of Shiv Sena’s key demands. Shiv Sena won 18 seats the last time, making it the sixth-biggest party. LOK JAN SHAKTI PARTY: The party mainly represents lower caste Hindus and won six of the seven seats it contested the last time. UNITED PROGRESSIVE ALLIANCE
From getting rid of some Muslim names of places to promising a “grand” statue of the Hindu god Ram, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party is making passionate appeals to its hard-core Hindu nationalist base in the most politically important state ahead of a national election next year.
Five Indian states will go to the polls later this year, the country’s election commissioner said on Saturday, in a test of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity ahead of his re-election bid in May 2019. India PM Narendra Modi: “I urge the people of these states to bless BJP once again so that we can work tirelessly to build a New India.”
India agreed a deal with Russia to buy S-400 surface to air missile systems on Friday, the two sides said, as New Delhi disregarded U.S. warnings that such a purchase could trigger sanctions under U.S. law. “The (two) sides welcomed the conclusion of the contract for the supply of S-400 long range surface to air missile system to India,” India and Russia said in a joint statement at the end of the talks.
Russian President Vladimir Putin headed for India on Thursday looking to tie up billions of dollars in arms deals with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, likely irking the US, China and Pakistan in one fell swoop. The Kremlin said before the two-day visit by Putin and top Russian ministers that the “key feature” would be the signing of a $5-billion deal for the S-400 air defence system, despite the risk of US sanctions against countries buying Russian defence kit.