In Uttarakhand, five people died and more than 80 are wounded in clashes triggered by the demolition of a mosque and a madrassa. Amnesty International reports the "punitive" demolition of at least 128 Muslim properties from April to June 2022, with at least 617 people left homeless. Varanasi could be the next flashpoint. To avoid this, locals are praying that “peace is not to be disturbed”.
Delhi has deployed a dozen warships to the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden to show that it is "proactive", experts say, while not participating in the US-led task force against Houthi attacks in the Red Sea. Since the start of the year, the Indian Navy has reported an increase in piracy incidents, towards which it has taken an aggressive approach. But Delhi’s number one rival is still Beijing.
Despite recent discoveries of deposits in Kashmir, India is still dependent on minerals from China. Last week, New Delhi and Buenos Aires inked an agreement to explore and develop five lithium deposits in Argentina’s Catamarca province, a deal that could open the door to other forms of cooperation.
For weeks, the city on the border with Myanmar has been rocked by attacks and reprisals between ethnic Meitei and Kuki. Seven deaths have been reported in the last few hours. The Sisters of Mother Teresa have also been forced to leave their home amid fighting between armed men and Indian security forces.
Since President Mohamed Muizzu came to power in November, the Maldives has moved closer to China. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent posts about the Lakshadweep have been seen as a way to reduce tourism to the Maldives. Yet Delhi has been working for some time on promoting the development of its own archipelago.
Two Hindus who pretended to be Muslims were detained by Indian special forces after posting messages announcing attacks at the disputed holy site in Uttar Pradesh where Prime Minister Modi will inaugurate a new Hindu temple on 22 January. Their social media profiles show links to the Bharatiya Janata Party. For the bishop of Lucknow, it is a serious thing “to fuel further tensions in a society already polarised along religious lines.” Meanwhile, in Ayodhya, preparations are underway to consecrate the prime minister rather than the holy place.
After Canada, the United States has released information suggesting that Indian officials and Indian national are involved in plots to kill activists fighting for the creation of Khalistan, an independent state for Sikhs. Indian PM Modi responded recently to the allegations using cautious tones, but also highlighting the growing radicalisation of the Sikh diaspora. Gurpatwant Singh Pannun is a key figure.
The Delhi High Court recently authorised Prema Kumari to travel to Yemen to free her daughter, who is accused of killing Talal Abdo Mahdi with a high dose of sedatives. The latter helped her to set up a clinic but then took her passport, preventing her from escaping. Nimisha's home community in Kerala has rallied to her cause.
This week, the Telegraph wrote that it had uncovered a kidney-buying racket involving Myanmar nationals as donors and a private health facility in Delhi, where transplants would take place. The phenomenon is not new: despite decades of awareness-raising (starting in Tamil Nadu) there is still a shortage of donors in India and too many people who would need at least one kidney. It is mainly poor people who need to pay off debts who fall victim to trafficking, but online scams have also increased in recent years.
Yesterday the #we4resilience conference, a two-day event to understand how to deal with the disasters caused by climate change ended in the Indian capital. The event - held just as COP28 opens in Dubai - was attended by dozens of aid workers, priests and beneficiaries of projects implemented by Caritas together with other partners. The focus was on a comprehensive approach that takes into account the experiences of vulnerable communities.
As rebels pursue their campaign against Myanmar’s military, fresh border tensions rise between the Meitei and Chin militias, who are ethnically related to the Kuki. A Myanmar national treated at an Imphal hospital dies when a mob storms the medical establishment enraged by the presence of the “invader". Meanwhile, the Commission of Inquiry set up in June by the Indian government into the violence has not yet held any hearing.
The collapse of a stretch of road through the Himalayas, in which 40 workers are still trapped, encapsulates many facets of the development advocated by Modi. The structure is part of a highway to develop Hindu tourism in the region, but can also quickly deploy army troops in case of a clash with Beijing. The environmental problems, however, which are often ignored, are likely to worsen.
In early November, the vice president of the Israeli Builders Association said he was waiting for the government to "import" 50,000 to 100,000 Indians, but nothing concrete has been decided yet. Israel has negotiated similar deals in the past, the latest involving Chinese workers. Its construction industry is the most dangerous sector of the economy. India is boosting its ties with Israel, banning pro-Palestine protests in Kashmir.
Yesterday, activist Manoj Jarange Patil ended his latest hunger strike, but announced that he would continue political action until the Maratha community is granted government benefits. The problem reflects crisis in farming and legal limits to reservation quotas.
After the syrup scandal, India’s cosmetics industry has come under scrutiny for toxic products. Yet, the sector is still growing, especially via online sales. Although India banned misleading ads and requires prescriptions for certain beauty creams, little has changed. What is more, the demand for skin-lightening products continues to grow despite known long-term side effects.
Data and forecasts point to robust growth, although it is hard to predict how the market will fare in the long run. Growth in disposable income among Indians and economic policies implemented under Prime Minister Narendra Modi are the main factors. Foreign investors are also shifting from China to India.
India’s prime minister immediately condemned the terrorist actions by Hamas (which few Indian Muslims like), openly signalling a change in diplomatic relations. According to Prof P.R. Kumaraswamy, of Jawaharlal Nehru University, the premises for change were already there decades ago. India had an important Jewish community but has never experienced anti-Semitism. The two countries have signed deals on weapons and hi-tech, but agriculture dominates the relationship.
For the government of the northeastern Indian state, Chin refugees are fellow ethnics. As Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga seeks another term in state elections later this year, the refugee issue is politically relevant. An estimated 30,000 Myanmar refugees are present in Mizoram, the largest concentration in India. In Manipur, the attitude is different, following the orders from the central government in Delhi.
Despite several agreements, farmers in Karnataka are asking the state government not to release water to Tamil Nadu due to low monsoon rainfall. The latter, however, depends heavily on the river for its agriculture, which has grown in recent years. Today, Karnataka saw protests and strikes as well several flight cancellations at Bengaluru airport. The central government has been urged to intervene.
The new law, titled Saluting Women Power Act, reserves a third of lower house seats to women, but it is still not clear whether it will really improve women’s representation in politics. Reservation for women and disadvantaged groups impinged upon each other. Women play a major role in local politics, but are far fewer in higher levels of government because of the amount of time and money needed, and the role played by family connections.
At a rally, a minister in the Modi government threatened to tear out the tongue and gouge out the eyes of those who threaten the Hindu order. He was reacting to the call by an opposition politician to eradicate it like dengue to overcome caste distinctions. Fr Joseph told AsiaNews that hyper-Hinduism is politically bankrupt; India’s true tradition is pluralism. Meanwhile, India’s parliament will start a special session of parliament to hold general and local elections together.
Just as the world focuses on the G20 summit New Delhi tomorrow, Maldivians vote in a crucial presidential election. Traditionally pro-India, the country’s diplomatic relations began to shift in 2013 with China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the election of President Abdulla Yameen who ruled in an authoritarian fashion. The current president, Ibrahim Solih, is confident of winning in the first round, but experts believe a run-off cannot be ruled out.
The news, released yesterday, once again draws attention to the Sino-Indian rivalry to lead the global South. Despite words of détente at last week's BRICS meeting, ongoing border tensions in the eastern state of Ladakh remain high. Xi’s absence marks a failure of Indian diplomacy to bring together major world leaders around the same table.
Just as the country was celebrating the success of the Chandraayan-3 mission, 23 workers from West Bengal lost their lives in the collapse of a viaduct of a line under construction in the state of Mizoram. In Indian construction sites an average of 38 fatal accidents per day. Victims mostly internal migrants.
Ultimatum of the papal delegate Msgr. Vasil for next Sunday in the standoff that for two years has pitted the clergy of the archeparchy of Ernakulam-Angamaly against the rest of this ancient Eastern rite Church of Kerala. But in the meantime a group of faithful has asked the Indian authorities for his expulsion, dangerously shouting against "foreign interference".
India’s Rural Development Ministry announced that more than 11 million bank accounts held by disadvantaged people have yet to be linked to the world's largest identification system. A Supreme Court ruling made it clear that private businesses cannot demand the unique code to offer their goods and services. Some observers worry about privacy issues and India’s ties to Myanmar’s military junta, concerned that a similar system might be set up in that country.
The violence in the northeastern state of India is rooted in intertwined factors: ethnicity, access to weapons, refugees from Myanmar, the drug trade, the role of women. Journalist Samrat Choudhury, author of a recent book on Northeast India, spoke to AsiaNews about it, noting that contrary to what was said initially, this is not a religious conflict, and that it is hard to see a peaceful resolution in the future.
In March, India’s BJP-led government floated a tender to get MyGov, a government platform for citizen political engagement, to work with influencer marketing companies. Yet, content promoters are sometimes not disclosed, with conflict of interest. Other political parties are also using Internet celebrities to reach out to voters, especially first timers.
The number of disadvantaged people in India could range from 34 million or 373 million, depending on the study. Despite some improvement, a true picture of poverty in the country is still impossible in the absence of a countrywide census, which was officially postponed due to the pandemic. Experts stress that the purpose of assistance programmes should be the redistribution of accumulated wealth.
The Indian government recently amended its mining legislation to allow private firms to develop lithium reserves in the Muslim-majority territory to reduce imports from China. The discovery has sparked enthusiasm for electric vehicle production ambitions, but, development several hurdles like potential environmental damage. Meanwhile, India’s Supreme Court next month will start vet petitions challenging the abolition of Jammu and Kashmir’s special autonomy.