Weekly News Roundup – December 12, 2019


Blood and Soil in Narendra Modi’s India – By Dexter Filkins

Photo: Sabrang India

…The change in Kashmir upended more than half a century of careful politics, but the Indian press reacted with nearly uniform approval. Ever since Modi was first elected Prime Minister, in 2014, he has been recasting the story of India, from that of a secular democracy accommodating a uniquely diverse population to that of a Hindu nation that dominates its minorities, especially the country’s two hundred million Muslims. Modi and his allies have squeezed, bullied, and smothered the press into endorsing what they call the “New India.” Kashmiris greeted Modi’s decision with protests, claiming that his real goal was to inundate the state with Hindu settlers. After the initial tumult subsided, though, the Times of India and other major newspapers began claiming that a majority of Kashmiris quietly supported Modi – they were just too frightened of militants to say so aloud. Television reporters, newly arrived from Delhi, set up cameras on the picturesque shoreline of Dal Lake and dutifully repeated the government’s line.…

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Thousands protest Indian citizenship bill excluding Muslims

Photo: Rediff

More than 1,000 students marched Friday in India’s northeast against a bill approved by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to grant citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from India’s three Muslim-majority neighbors. The marchers took to the streets of Gauhati, the Assam state capital, carrying placards opposing the bill that’s likely to be introduced in Parliament next week for approval.… Main opposition Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi said Thursday the bill was discriminatory as it aimed at excluding Muslim migrants. It will entitle only communities like Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Christians for India’s citizenship. The proposed bill seeks to relax to six years the existing 11-year requirement that a person must live in India to apply for citizenship.

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The Ayodhya verdict is a cornerstone of the Hindu Rashtra – By Audrey Truschke

Photo: Livemint

Maps of the Hindu Rashtra typically depict the Indian subcontinent drenched in a uniform saffron. Some see a lofty vision of unity in that colouring, but I see the violent and painful erasures of buildings, cultures and people that such uniformity would require. On 6 December 1992, a Hindu mob enacted one such purge by ripping apart a historical monument, a rare sixteenth-century mosque, brick by brick. This year, what the mob began extrajudicially, the Supreme Court finished through judicial opinion. On 9 November, a panel of five judges concluded that a modern Hindu temple ought to be built atop the ruins of a Babur-period mosque, because some modern Hindus believe that exact spot is the god Ram’s birthplace. The apex court’s final decision is based on modern faith and has nothing to do with history before the nineteenth century. However, much of the judgment’s text explores and misstates the precolonial past. Consistent with Hindutva ideology, the opinion abjures both historical reality and any pretense of equal treatment of religious communities.…

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