Teesta Setalvad

How democracy is being turned on its head in India

There were some notable differences between the swearing-in ceremonies of the Hindu-supremacist government of Narendra Modi in its first victory on May 26, 2014, and its re-election on May 30, 2019.

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India’s ruling Hindu right wing is using doublespeak

The right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that presently leads the coalition government in India and its ideological parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), are frequently accused of a politics laced with hypocrisy, deceit and doublespeak. Both frequently speak and act in ways that prove their critics right. This should not be surprising from a party that pretends to be the exact opposite of what it really is. It participates in India’s democratic process even while remaining rooted in an ideology and organization—the RSS—wedded to the authoritarian agenda of turning secular India into a Hindu Rashtra (Hindu State).

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The Historic Victory for Gay Rights in India Was Long Overdue - And Just the Beginning

On September 6, 2018, India gained a second freedom from colonial rule. Having gained political freedom from the British on August 15, 1947, the country adopted a Constitution guaranteeing certain basic rights and freedoms to all citizens, on paper. In reality a section of its citizens had remained un-free till now. The Victorian-era morality that the colonial masters imposed in the land of the Kama Sutra outlived the colonial regime, surviving as section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860, which stipulated:

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More Than 4 Million People Who Should Be Considered Citizens Aren't Recognized by Xenophobic Government of India

Can a nation, 71 years after its formation, turn the very basis of citizenship on its head? If you look at the twin developments happening under aggressively hegemonic regimes, in both the U.S. and India, it appears it can. The scale of the tragedies unraveling as families are split, as talks of a barbed wire fence and wall gain hysterical ground and even higher courts in these lands rubber-stamp attitudes that fundamentally alter the basis of the creations of both nations, are huge.

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A Real-World Tactic for Fighting Islamophobia: Talk to a Muslim

Is Islamophobia as old as Islam itself? This may be a debatable proposition. But there is no doubt that modern-day extremism in Islam’s name and Islamophobia have been feeding on each other to a point that the latter today looks like a raging worldwide epidemic. Ordinary Muslims and their well-wishers are now challenged to think in novel ways of tackling the “othering” and demonizing of a global community of nearly two billion people. This is especially true as much in the U.S. under President Donald Trump as in present-day India, which has been under the hegemony of Hindu supremacists since 2014.

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Does India’s Far-Right Government Officially Approve of Lynching As a Political Tool?

Most Americans, one hopes, would today feel deeply ashamed and embarrassed by a dark chapter in their history. Perhaps even a white supremacist might today flinch at the mention of the word lynch. It’s what the White Man frequently did to the Black Man in “the land of the free” toward the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. Dictionaries define lynching as a premeditated extrajudicial killing of a person(s) by a mob to punish an alleged aggressor(s) or to terrorize a targeted minority group. For maximum impact, the act had to be made a public spectacle so others could watch, hear or read about it. 

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Protests Break Out in India as the Hindu Right Lessens Protections Against Caste Violence

Not everyone did, but you could sense it coming, the lava building to a burst. The intensity of it when it did—on April 2—took most Indians by surprise. The immediate trigger for the outpouring was the March 20 verdict of the Supreme Court of India calling a halt on automatic arrests and registration of criminal cases under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, enacted to safeguard Dalits (Scheduled Castes) and tribals from the insults and injuries they are frequently subjected to by members of the “upper castes.”

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In India, Muslim Patriarchy Has Convinced Women to March Against Their Own Freedoms

The orthodox and the conservatives among Muslim clerics in India like it best when women are neither seen nor heard in public. Ironically, these very self-appointed custodians of Indian Islam have in the past few weeks issued marching orders to Muslim women, directing them to pour out of their homes and take to the streets. This the women have done, in city after city across the country of India: Delhi, Jaipur, Mumbai, Malegaon, Nagpur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Kanpur, Hyderabad and a score of other cities and small towns. Many more road shows are planned for the days ahead.

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India's Right Wing Can't Bury the History of a National Hero's Religious Tolerance

On February 19,  the Maharashtra government in western India celebrated Shiv Jayanti, the anniversary of the birthday of the legendary 17th-century Maratha warrior “Chhatrapati Shivaji (Bhonsale) Maharaj,” with much fanfare. This year is special in a way, as in the next few months construction will begin on the long-awaited “Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Memorial” in the Arabian Sea off Mumbai. The first phase of the memorial is estimated to cost Rs 2,500 crore (around $400 million). Costs for the second phase will be worked out later.

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In India, the Preference for Male Babies Has Created a New Problem: Bride Trafficking

Hindu-majority India places its goddesses on very high pedestals. For knowledge you think of Saraswati; for wealth you pray to Lakshmi; for power you bow before Kali. Knowledge, wealth, power…what more can a man dream of?

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