Sunday 22 Sep 2019 | 09:46 | SYDNEY
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India

Narendra Modi, frequent flyer

During Narendra Modi’s first five years in office, the Indian prime minister made 93 foreign visits, equalling the number of trips his predecessor, Manmohan Singh, made over an entire decade. At an average of more than 18 visits every year, Modi also travelled far more than his counterparts. In

A fugitive preacher ignites controversy in Malaysia

Zakir Naik is an Indian preacher of Islam who currently calls Malaysia home. Described by the Washington Post as a “rock star of tele-evangelism”, he is also a fugitive, having evaded law enforcement in his home country of India since July 2016, when he fled the country within hours of bombers

Pressure upon pressure builds around Kashmir

The political talk in South Asia at this moment is reminiscent of the 1990s. The Taliban are returning to Afghanistan and conflict is escalating between India and Pakistan in a seething Kashmir region. There is even debate on the potential use of nuclear weapons amid India-Pakistan crises ­–

The intractable mess in Jammu and Kashmir

It is impossible to know what is actually happening in Kashmir. Since 4 August, Indian forces have effectively incarcerated the region, with people kept indoors and more than 1600 “social activists” detained. Communications to, and in, the Kashmir Valley have been severed. There have been no

Modi vs Wild: Political survivor

One, a rugged survivalist with a penchant for striding through dangerous terrain, accompanied only by a television crew. The other, the man who holds the hearts, minds, and fates of 1.2 billion people in his clenched fists. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi might not have a clearly articulated

Narendra Modi’s nudge diplomacy

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech last week from the ramparts of the Red Fort in New Delhi to mark India’s Independence Day carefully delineated his new strategic and foreign policy in the region. We can call this “nudge diplomacy”, and it stands in stark contrast to the more assertive

Jokowi and Modi’s budding bromance

The re-election of India’s Narendra Modi and Indonesia’s Joko “Jokowi” Widodo saw India-Indonesia relations take another step forward after both leaders congratulated each other on social media. The results put both leaders in a strong position to advance a comprehensive strategic

The bad news for press freedom in India

Press freedom is under the scanner in Australia, as it is around the world. For the first time in decades, Australian journalists have found themselves the subject of police raids over reporting on national security issues, with the prospect they could be jailed over the stories that date back more

India’s Congress party stares at extinction

India’s National Congress Party is facing an existential crisis, now suffering unprecedented consecutive electoral defeats. Once invincible and a political behemoth having ruled post-independent India for close to five decades, Congress failed to stop Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya

Modi’s second term: what it means for the South Pacific

The Bhartiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Narendra Modi has secured his second term as India’s Prime Minister with a landslide victory in the 2019 general elections. He spearheaded the long drawn out election campaign by labelling himself as India’s watchman, while the opposition criticised him for

The growing influence of celebrity politics in India

Celebrities and politics are so closely intertwined in India that entire books have been written about “Bollywood Star Power in Indian Politics”. Whether we are talking about Bollywood superstars, Olympic medallists, or cricketing heroes, there are numerous examples of celebrities using their

India’s democracy draws strength from difference

At the end of a visit to India in the middle of a long and heated election campaign, the conversation with some young thinktank staff captured the country’s appetite for its democracy. After mentioning I had been making comparisons with the parallel Indonesian election, they suddenly

India: encouraging the rainbow vote

As the mammoth task of elections in India continue up to a 19 May deadline, the nation’s election commission is seeking a full turnout of the population – including the often marginalised LGBTQI community. For the first time, transgender people have been anointed ambassadors 

Social media in India fans fake news

India’s election campaigning is in full swing and everything about the Indian general election is gigantic. This time, about 900 million people above the age of 18 will be eligible to cast their ballots spread over seven phases at a million polling stations, culminating on 19 May. The country’s

Coal comfort: Australia-India ties after the elections

In an odd quirk of timing, this year Australia and India’s elections will run in parallel. On 11 April, Scott Morrison made the trip to Canberra’s Government House and the official campaign finally began. On the same day, Indian voters began to go to the polls in the first of seven phases of

Modi’s drive for Brand India

In 2014, the average Indian voter was restless for change. Regular revelations about corruption scandals, frustrating policy paralysis, incessant price hikes and widespread unemployment all coalesced in a virtually stalled economy. In polls that year, the Indian electorate delivered the Bharatiya

India: never quite in focus

Last month, Financial Times columnist Edward Luce asked, what would it take for India to get America’s attention? His question was rather aptly answered a couple of weeks later with a spot of brinkmanship in Kashmir (Pulwama terrorist attack: Modi under pressure), meaning India hit the

India’s wobbly quest for fighter aircraft

India’s air strikes this week targeting suspected terrorist hideouts in Pakistan and subsequent air battles comes at a time of growing concerns about sharply declining strength of India’s fighter squadrons. The number of aircraft presently stands at 31, against the authorised level of 42. The

The intrusion of domestic politics in Kashmir tensions

On Tuesday, India launched air strikes targeting what it claimed was the biggest training camp of the militant group, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) near the town of Balakot in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. The strikes were said to be aimed at preventing an imminent attack on India and

India-Pakistan: shadow dancing in the Himalayas

The strike by the Indian Air Force on Tuesday against targets in Pakistan is the latest step in a delicate shadow dance between India and Pakistan. This began after a suicide bombing of an Indian military convoy at Pulwama in Indian Kashmir on 14 February, which killed more than 40 Indian

Pulwama terrorist attack: Modi under pressure

The Pulwama attack was clearly calibrated to pile pressure on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the run-up to the general election to be held in April and May 2019. The location and the target – paramilitary police deployed in Kashmir as part of an on-going effort to quell unrest that has

Demystifying Kashmir

A suicide attack on the Indian forces in Pulwama, Kashmir that killed more than 40 security officials has set India and Pakistan – two nuclear powers ­– on a warpath. India has blamed Pakistan for sponsoring the attack, while Pakistan has denied any involvement, blaming India for its human

India: another five years of Modi?

That India’s 14th prime minister is a gifted storyteller is well-known. An author of several children’s storybooks, Narendra Modi has in the past few years not only trumpeted the narrative of a poor tea-seller making his way to the highest office in the land but has also controlled every

Pulwama attack: more questions than answers

The attack on a convoy of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) on 14 February is one of the most serious single strikes against security forces in the troubled region of Kashmir. Travelling from Jammu to Srinagar in the South Kashmir Pulwama district, a vehicle laden with 350 kilograms of

Mediation a long shot in Kashmir conflict

When former prime minister of Norway Kjell Mangne Bondevik met with separatist Kashmiri leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq in Indian Kashmir last month, a barrage of questions followed.   Fruitful meeting of JRL with Mr Kjell Magne Bondevik,Ex Prime Minister

Choking point: India’s environmental crisis

It is January; a month that, in north India, once fell in the season of winter, but now is more synonymous with the depths of the region’s dreaded pollution season. This month, as in recent years, a brutal combination of diverse factors has continued to coalesce to produce dire air quality in its

Competing shades of saffron in Indian politics

The Indian city Ayodhya recently once again turned into a saffron fortress. The BJP seems set to fight the 2019 elections by rallying its factions and allies to assert the Hindutva agenda and further politicising Hindu-Muslim relations. More than 50,000 supporters of the Hindu Right,

How Australia should deepen ties with India

Ties between India and Australia have always been a little constrained – and unsurprisingly so, as traditionally there has been little to connect the two countries. For its part, Australia has for decades sought to have a better relationship with India, one that extends beyond shared democracy,

The India-Pakistan corridor of peace

The recent decision by the government of Pakistan and India to build a corridor from Indian Punjab to Kartarpur in Pakistan has raised hopes for the revival of a dialogue between the countries. The Kartarpur corridor will be built over a 4km stretch and will enable Sikh pilgrims from India to

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