Archive for India

Opinion |  After the Lockdown, Fear and Chaos in India- By Pragya Tiwari – The New York Times

By 

Ms. Tiwari is a writer based in New Delhi.

Credit…Yawar Nazir/Getty Images

“NEW DELHI — On Tuesday evening, India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, ordered a strict nationwide lockdown for the next 21 days to battle the spread of the coronavirus.

The busy marketplace in my upscale South Delhi neighborhood is desolate the next morning. Almost all shops are shuttered. The florist who delivered exotic flowers to wealthy homes has abandoned his stock, and the pungent smell of rotting flowers hangs heavy in the air. A pet store has locked up and left the animals inside. Their muffled screams are unbearable.

At the local chemist, two men are at each other’s throats. A large gray-haired man in a lawyer’s robe is shouting expletives through his mask as he towers over a short, scruffy domestic worker. The worker has bought all the acetaminophen in the shop for his employers, and the lawyer is having none of it. The scuffle between the two men seems like an act of transgression — not because it is violent but because it involves freewheeling physical contact.

“Touch is curse,” I was told by a man as he wheeled his stock of sweet potatoes down deserted streets, defying the lockdown in the hope of earning enough to buy food for his family. He offered free sweet potatoes to an old man in a tattered mask sweeping the road. The sweeper, wary of infection, turned his offer down.

Source: Opinion | After the Lockdown, Fear and Chaos in India – The New York Times

Posted in: India, Public Health

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As Trump Visits India, a Trade Deal Remains Elusive – By Ana Swanson and Vindu Goel – The New York Times

By Ana Swanson and 

“WASHINGTON — President Trump’s visit to India includes a state dinner, tens of thousands of cheering onlookers and even a marching band on camels — but a long-awaited trade deal between the United States and India is notably absent.

For the second time since September, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India visited the United States, the two countries have failed to reach even a limited “mini-deal” that would increase trade for focused groups of goods, like dairy products, medical devices and Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

Negotiators from both countries have been working since 2018 on a deal that would lower Indian barriers to some American products, and restore India’s access to a program that allows goods to enter the United States tariff-free.

But the breakdown in negotiations illustrates the steep challenge in reaching a trade deal between two countries headed by populist leaders who harbor suspicions of multilateral arrangements. Both Mr. Trump and Mr. Modi want to protect jobs in their own countries by fending off foreign competitors — shared attributes that make it even more difficult to strike a comprehensive agreement that would roll back trade barriers more broadly.”

Source: As Trump Visits India, a Trade Deal Remains Elusive – The New York Times

Posted in: India, Trade and Trade Policy, Trade and Trade Policy

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Opinion | Donald Trump Is Going to India to Find Himself – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Mishra is the author, most recently, of “Age of Anger: A History of the Present.”

Credit…Illustration by Pablo Delcan; Photographs by Doug Mills/The New York Times

” “I love Hindu,” Donald Trump proclaimed during his presidential campaign in 2016. That adoration of India’s majority population, and America’s richest and most obviously pro-Trump minority, may have just gotten deeper.

On his first visit to India next week, Mr. Trump claims, he has been promised a welcoming crowd of “10 million” by the country’s Hindu-supremacist prime minister, Narendra Modi. (Never mind that the total population of the city where Mr. Modi and Mr. Trump plan to hold a joint rally is a little over eight million.)

Last September at a rock-concert-like rally at a Houston football stadium, Mr. Modi and Mr. Trump walked hand-in-hand, the two stocky strongmen looking like brothers-in-arms. Certainly, nowhere in the world can Mr. Trump encounter a profounder fraternal spirit than among India’s present rulers. India under them fulfills, to a startling degree, the American president’s irascible fantasy of what the United States should be: a country cravenly surrendering its traditions of law and decency before a perpetually inflamed and ham-handed autocrat.

Mr. Trump has controversially pardoned some white-collar criminals, including Michael Milken, and might extend clemency to Roger Stone. He can only envy the culture of impunity in India. Charges of murder and kidnapping have long pursued Amit Shah, Mr. Modi’s closest confidant and India’s home minister, but the judge in his case mysteriously died soon after Mr. Modi became prime minister in 2014 and the next judge swiftly acquitted Mr. Shah.”

Source: Opinion | Donald Trump Is Going to India to Find Himself – The New York Times

Posted in: Bullies and Scoundrels, India

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Opinion | ‘We Never Moved Back to Kashmir, Because We Couldn’t’ – By Priyanka Mattoo – The New York Times

“Despite my best efforts to move beyond it, I have been thinking of my lost home since the eruption of the most recent crisis in Kashmir. I was born a Hindu in Kashmir, as was almost everyone in my family, for probably thousands of years. My parents decided to move abroad for work opportunities in the early 1980s, really so that they could gather funds to build their dream house in Srinagar.

We spent every summer and holiday, probably four to five months a year, in Kashmir. I was born in Habba Kadal, a neighborhood in central Srinagar, its maze of streets lined with narrow, four-story wooden houses.

My parents built their house in the suburban area of Natipora, which at the time had open fields, fresh air and an unobstructed view of the Himalayas. We gently, by hand, carried home china, linens and decorative items for the house. We clambered over rocks and beams at the construction site, watched them polish the terrazzo, proud and excited for our return.

I split time between there and my maternal grandparents’ house, or “matamaal,” in a verdant central Srinagar area, where I was the first of eight grandchildren, doted on by a boisterous extended family. I could draw you a detailed architectural map of both homes. I remember the hidden staircase to the roof at matamaal, the heavy curtains I wrapped around myself, until I dislodged a family of mice.

Afternoons cleaning string beans and corn from the vegetable patch. The time my mother told me not to play badminton in the evening, and it got so dark that I smacked a shrieking bat instead of the shuttlecock. I woke up once in the middle of the night and saw a bear dancing on its hind legs on the lawn. Nobody believes me about this one, but it happened.

After one of many picnics in Pahalgam, a hill town so picturesque you can see it in every Bollywood movie, I was halfway through a tourist-trap horse ride before realizing a pound of chocolate-covered walnuts was too many.

This is all to say: Have you ever heard people talk about how incredible Kashmir was? How beautiful, how peaceful? “Paradise on Earth” is the cliché, right? It was absolutely all of that, no exaggeration. To my 9-year-old self, it was the most magical, joyful place in the world.”

Source: Opinion | ‘We Never Moved Back to Kashmir, Because We Couldn’t’ – The New York Times

Posted in: India, Kashmir, Pakistan

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Opinion | India’s Most Oppressed Get Their Revenge – By Meena Kandasamy – The New York Times

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s rule came with an attack on Dalits and the minorities. Now Dalit leaders are fighting back to defeat the Hindu nationalists.

By Meena Kandasamy

Ms. Kandasamy is a poet and a novelist.

 Dalits, India’s most marginalized people, at a protest in New Delhi last August.CreditSajjad Hussain/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“Corruption scandals surrounding the Congress Party-led government, promises of inclusive growth and job creation, and calibrated anti-Muslim dog whistles helped Narendra Modi rise to power and become the prime minister of India in 2014.

And there was another factor: The Dalits, India’s most oppressed community, whom the Hindu caste system relegates to the lowest rung, doubled their votes for his Bharatiya Janata Party to 12 percent in 2014 from 6 percent in 2009.

To make up for centuries of violence, discrimination and lack of opportunity, India’s Constitution lays out that political parties can field only Dalit candidates for 84 out of 543 parliamentary seats in general elections. Five years earlier, Mr. Modi’s B.J.P. won 40 of the 84 seats reserved for the Dalits, sending the single largest contingent of Dalit lawmakers to the Parliament.

But neither increased Dalit votes nor the greater number of Dalit lawmakers within the B.J.P.’s ranks helped transform the party’s aggressive, casteist ideology. Mr. Modi’s rule has highlighted the antagonism between his party’s pandering to the dominant upper castes and the radicalism of Dalits fighting for the elimination of caste.”

Source: Opinion | India’s Most Oppressed Get Their Revenge – The New York Times

Posted in: Bullies and Scoundrels, Civil Rights, India

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India’s Leader Is Accused of Hiding Unemployment Data Before Vote – By Jeffrey Gettleman and Hari Kumar – The New York Times

NEW DELHI — When voters swept Prime Minister Narendra Modi into power five years ago, it was in no small part because of his vows to create millions of jobs and vault India into an era of prosperity.

But now, just months before the next general election, Mr. Modi is facing a potentially troublesome challenge on the jobs promises that may be partly of his own making.

His government was accused on Thursday of suppressing an official report on the national unemployment rate that apparently showed it had reached a 45-year high in 2017.

The Business Standard, a respected Indian financial newspaper, published leaked findings from the unemployment report, which is based on a survey and produced by the National Sample Survey Office, a government agency.

Officials in Mr. Modi’s government scrambled on Thursday to blunt the impact of what amounted to withholding information that discredits the core of his economic record. The chairman of NITI Aayog, a government research organization, said the unemployment report was still in draft form, was not ready for dissemination and would be released in March. The response raised the possibility that the data could be revised.

But economists said the findings, if verified, were problematic for Mr. Modi, the dynamic prime minister whose popularity has always rested on his Hindu nationalism and promises to make India an economic powerhouse rivaling China.

Source: India’s Leader Is Accused of Hiding Unemployment Data Before Vote – The New York Times

Yes, thank you Jeffrey Gettleman and Hari Kumar. So much to learn. Here are two popular comments I endorsed:

Steve Davies
Tampa, Fl.

I lived in Southern India (Kerala) and traveled throughout India. The country is a great example of the sad dystopia of overpopulation, fierce/ancient religious rivalries, income inequality, lack of infrastructure, Hindu nationalism, corruption at every level, and environmental destruction. Modi is a dangerous man. He’s a Hindu nationalist. He’s also a globalist who is selling off Indians and their ecology to the global corporate elite. He is in bed with Trump and Trump’s children in several development projects. His scandalous government smears indigenous people as “Maoist rebels” as a ploy to steal their land from them to hand it over to plunderers such as international logging, damming and mining companies. Climate change is coming in hard on India. Of note, Kamala Harris is also a Hindu nationalist and has endorsed Modi. Read the non-fiction book “Maximum City” and the fictional book “Shantaram” for a vivid depiction of modern India.

Sam Sengupta commented January 31

Sam Sengupta
Utica, NY
Times Pick

Thanks for a very illuminating article on India and how it has been ravaged by the incompetency of BJP party during its last 5 year stint. That the job growth rate would be dismal regardless of how we slice it was expected. The current ruling party has had no specific economic plan in mind to transform economically disadvantaged India; it simply basked in its own propaganda magic while young educated people began rushing in to join the behemoth of the unemployed ones. The party thought that foreign investment would lift India up, but potential investors stayed away at a comfortable distance. Modi can blame almost everybody for India’s lackluster performance except himself and his party. His party finds it difficult to understand how no foreign investor is willing enough to pump resources in a country beset with a steady stream of open communal threats from party top-braces, with frequent lynching, raping, burning and destruction of properties orchestrated by its rank and file. How could the country get out of such a mess? It cannot as long as it ignores the compelling physical reality in favor of its dream of transforming India to a Hindu nation.

Posted in: India, Politics and Economics

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Opinion | The Malign Incompetence of the British Ruling Class – By Pankaj Mishra – The New York Times

By Pankaj Mishra

Mr. Mishra is the author, most recently, of “Age of Anger: A History of the Present.”

 Image
Earl and Countess Mountbatten, behind naval and military members of the governor-general’s staff, walk down the steps of Government House in New Delhi, India, June 21, 1948.CreditCreditAssociated Press

“Describing Britain’s calamitous exit from its Indian empire in 1947, the novelist Paul Scott wrote that in India the British “came to the end of themselves as they were” — that is, to the end of their exalted idea about themselves. Scott was among those shocked by how hastily and ruthlessly the British, who had ruled India for more than a century, condemned it to fragmentation and anarchy; how Louis Mountbatten, accurately described by the right-wing historian Andrew Roberts as a “mendacious, intellectually limited hustler,” came to preside, as the last British viceroy of India, over the destiny of some 400 million people.

Britain’s rupture with the European Union is proving to be another act of moral dereliction by the country’s rulers. The Brexiteers, pursuing a fantasy of imperial-era strength and self-sufficiency, have repeatedly revealed their hubris, mulishness and ineptitude over the past two years. Though originally a “Remainer,” Prime Minister Theresa May has matched their arrogant obduracy, imposing a patently unworkable timetable of two years on Brexit and laying down red lines that undermined negotiations with Brussels and doomed her deal to resoundingly bipartisan rejection this week in Parliament.

Such a pattern of egotistic and destructive behavior by the British elite flabbergasts many people today. But it was already manifest seven decades ago during Britain’s rash exit from India.”

Source: Opinion | The Malign Incompetence of the British Ruling Class – The New York Times

Posted in: India, Western Countires

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Vandana Shiva: There Is No Reason Why India Should Face Hunger and Farmers Should Commit Suicide – EcoWatch

Vandana Shiva: There Is No Reason Why India Should Face Hunger and Farmers Should Commit Suicide

There is no reason why India should face hunger and malnutrition and why our farmers should commit suicide. India is blessed with the most fertile soils in the world. Our climate is so generous we can, in places, grow four crops in a year—compared to the industrialized west where sometimes only one crop is possible per year. We have the richest biodiversity of the world, both because of our diverse climates and because of the brilliance of our farmers as breeders. Our farmers are among the most hardworking, productive people in the world. Yet India faces an emergency, in our food and agricultural system. This emergency is man-made.

Firstly, the poor and vulnerable are dying for lack of food. According to the Deccan Herald, Lalita S. Rangari, 36, a Dalit widow and mother of two children of the Gondiya tribal belt, allegedly died due to starvation. Justice Bhushan Gavai and Justice Indu Jain of the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court have served notice to the government of Maharashtra seeking its reply to the starvation death of a Dalit widow.

Photo credit: Nourishing Revolution”Even as India gets richer, we have emerged as the capital of hunger and malnutrition. According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS), 42.5 percent of children under five years old were underweight. This is more than double the African average of 21 percent, which until recently was the face of hunger.

The second tragedy is that our food producers, the small farmers who have provided food to more than a billion Indians and hold the potential to provide healthy food for all, are themselves dying because of agriculture and trade policies which put corporate profits above the rights and well being of our small farmers. More than 300,000 farmers have committed suicide in India since 1995, when the rules for the globalization of agriculture of the World Trade Organization (WTO) were implemented, transforming food into a commodity, agriculture into corporate business and shifting control over seeds and food from farmers to a handful of giant multinational corporations.

The third tragedy is that even those who get food are being denied their right to healthy and nourishing food. The explosion of junk food, of pesticides and toxics in our food, have created a disease epidemic that is a human tragedy and an economic burden. There is an epidemic of diseases related to our lifestyle and food, such as diabetes, cancer, hypertension, infertility and cardiovascular diseases.

The recent Maggi noodle scandal highlights the rapid invasion of junk food in the Indian diet. We are what we eat. When we eat food full of toxic chemicals, we pay the price with our health. India has emerged as the epicenter of diabetes.

In 2004, 8.2 lac Indians were diagnosed with diabetes and 2.6 lac succumbed to the disease. In 2012, the diabetes numbers jumped to 180 lac diagnosed and 7 lac dead. In 2010 alone, India spent 32 billion dollars on diabetes care. Cancer has also seen an increase by 30 percent in the last 5 years, with 180 million people affected in India. At 10 lac treatment per cancer victim this multiplies to 300 billion dollars, or 18 lac crores in rupees.

In extensive studies reported in “Poisons In Our Food” by Navdanya, elevated levels of PCBs, DDE and DDT have been found in the blood of women suffering from breast cancer. Studies show that 51 percent of all food commodities are contaminated by pesticides.”

Source: Vandana Shiva: There Is No Reason Why India Should Face Hunger and Farmers Should Commit Suicide – EcoWatch

Posted in: Agriculture, Climate Change, India

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59000 farmer suicides in India over 30 years may be linked to climate change- study says – By Vidhi Doshi – The Washington Post

August 1, 2017


A farmer sits on a dried-up patch of land in the southern Indian state of Karnataka in May 2015. (Jagadeesh Nv/European Pressphoto Agency)

“Every year, thousands of Indian farmers commit suicide. Now one researcher thinks it may have something to do with climate change.

Tamma Carleton, a researcher at the University of California at Berkeley, compared almost five decades worth of suicide and climate data and concluded that temperature variations in India may have “a strong influence” on suicide rates during the growing season.

In her study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Carleton estimates that more than 59,000 farmer suicides over the past 30 years can be linked to global warming.

Carleton’s findings are particularly worrisome and come just two months after the Trump administration pulled out of the Paris climate accord, which was adopted by 196 countries, including the United States under the Obama administration in December 2015. As part of the agreement, world leaders committed to holding the average global temperature rise to “well below” two degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. After President Trump pulled out of the accord, many countries, including India and China, said they would continue to honor their commitments under the accord.”

“. . . . High temperatures in the growing season reduce crop yields, putting economic pressure on India’s farmers, she writes. “These crop losses may also permeate throughout the economy, causing both farming and nonfarming populations to face distress as food prices rise and agricultural labor demand falls.”

Rainfall in the growing season, too, is important, Carleton suggests. More rain means higher yields, she writes, noting: “Suicide rates fall as growing season rainfall increases.”

According to the World Health Organization, India accounts for the highest number of suicidesin the world. A staggering 133,623 people took their own lives in 2015, according to data from the National Crime Records Bureau. More than 12,000 of those were farmers and agricultural laborers, almost one-tenth of the total.

According to Indian authorities, bankruptcy and indebtedness or farming-related issues are cited as the major causes of suicide among farmers in India.”

Source: 59,000 farmer suicides in India over 30 years may be linked to climate change, study says – The Washington Post

Posted in: Climate Change, India

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Opinion | That Thing That India and Pakistan Do – The New York Times

By Mohammed Hanif

Mr. Hanif is a Pakistani novelist.    Sept. 26, 2018

Image
The Pakistani military in Karachi this month commemorating its second war with India in 1965. Both sides claimed victory.CreditCreditAsif Hassan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“KARACHI, Pakistan — Four years ago when India elected the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (B.J.P.) to power, Pakistan’s iconic feminist poet and peace activist Fahmida Riaz recited a poem of despair, comparing new India to old Pakistan:

Turns out you were just like us,

Where were you hiding all this time, brother?

In Pakistan, Ms. Riaz is not only considered a hopeless peacenik but also a bit of an India lover. She has reason to be. In the 1980s, like many writers and activists, Ms. Riaz was made to leave Pakistan by the then military regime. While others took refuge in Western countries, Ms. Riaz chose to go into exile in India, where she then lived for more than six years. She is a much-loved poet who is not afraid of speaking truth to power at home and abroad. She is also not afraid of hoping.

Last Thursday other peaceniks in Pakistan and India were hoping, too, as the two countries agreed to resume talks. The wave of optimism lasted a day.”

Source: Opinion | That Thing That India and Pakistan Do – The New York Times

Posted in: India

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