India’s response to rape documentary

Government officials neglecting women rape case has caused the people to rally

A documentary about the high profile gang rape in India has been causing huge controversy. India’s Daughter is a film about the 2012 attack on a young woman on a bus in the Indian capital that has caused thousands of outcry and rage against the sexual violence in the country. The film has been greatly blocked by the Indian officials to be shown in the television. The Delhi court ordered New Delhi Television to broadcast the film. Indian officials have also sent letters to foreign channel in Britain and pleaded not to show the documentary for it will cause a huge “public outcry”. The documentary contains an interview of one of the rapist Mukesh Singh and saying in the film that it was the fault of the girl to be out in the public too late.

Leslee Udwin is the director of India’s Daughters

Despite the orders of Indian officials, New Delhi Television launched an onscreen protest against the banning of its documentary that addressed the rape and murder of a woman student in 2012. Instead of showing the documentary, NDTV ran a black card with the words “India’s Daughters”, the title of the film that was directed by Leslee Udwin and co-produced with the BBC. The Indian parliamentary decided to banned the film for its “objectionable content” and said its screening “would damage India’s reputation abroad”. The government minister Rajnath Singh said “[The Indian government] will not allow any organization to leverage such an incident and use it for commercial purpose,”. The film has been made with the full support and cooperation of the victim’s parents. It provides a revealing insight into a horrific crime that sent shockwaves around the world and led to protests across India demanding changes in attitudes towards women. Indian government has been persuaded by the public and has implemented stricter rules in trying to protect women. There have been a lot of issues concerning women around the world. The rape cases in India, the use of comfort women in Japan and equal pay in United States.

Images by AP and Altaf Qadri

Implications of Kejriwal’s win

Arvind Kejriwal managed to return to office in the last Delhi elections

The unlikely winner of the recent Delhi elections was Arvind Kejriwal. He was a former tax examiner and anti-corruption activist. He won the position Chief Minister of Delhi. He was sworn in the Ramlila Maidan, a location full of symbolism for Kejriwal. It was the same field where he led massive anti-corruption protests four years before and the same site for his swearing in the same position. He resigned from being the Chief Minister last year. He only served the office for merely 49 days. The win of Kejriwal has been a setback for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party. The party of Kejriwal, Aam Adami Party, pulled off a landslide win – vanquishing both its national rivals, the ruling BJP as well as the main opposition Congress Party. The BJP only managed to win a few seats in the congress. It is unlikely that the party could make the double digits in the 70 members Delhi assembly. It would be a setback for the ambitious plans of Narendra Modi who is now under pressure because of the inability to deliver what he has promised. There has been a slow changes in India and people are now starting to get tired of waiting for the plans promised by Modi last elections.

Kejriwal addressing a rally in Delhi

The chief ministerial aspirant from BJP could be headed into a defeat because of these results. The lack of support by the people to the BJP shows the need for Modi to react quickly on his policies in order to regain the public support. This would be advantageous for the political opponents of Modi and in fact a best way to diminish the overwhelming popularity he has gained during the elections. The winning of Arvind Kejriwal also means the start of increase public scrutiny on corrupt officials. He has always been known for lobbying laws that would prevent corruption in the government.

Images by listovative and AFP

Obama’s visit to India

President Obama and Prime Minister Modi during their joint statement

The United States and India relationship has been rocky for the past couple of years. This is due to the persistence of US to counter India from their attack on Pakistan. They have already got over the past conflict and started to mend their relations over the past few years.  They saw the potential to be strategic partners for their economic interests and other common interests that they have. Just recently, President Barack Obama visited New Delhi. It was a significant demonstration of acknowledging the increasing importance to strengthen its relations to all nations. The two countries had a hard time trying to translate the gained approval of their citizens on certain policies that they are trying to work on to concrete laws.   United States is becoming wary over the inability of India to commit into giving a hard stance against Iran’s nuclear program and human rights violations being done by Bashar Al Assad of Syria. America continuously hopes for India to be a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Obama’s first Asian stop is India

India, however, is still worried over the domination of US thus limiting its contribution on strengthening the power of America. India could still be viewing US as an unreliable partner. In the joint statement made by Modi and Obama, it showed the attempt to collaborate for high technology, space, defense, energy and climate change. The two leaders also articulated their desire to enhance cooperation with Japan through the “identification of projects of common interest and their early implementation”. They also declared the uneasiness over the continuous pressure of China over the territorial dispute in its neighborhood. This move clearly attempts to reduce the power of China. China, however, is gaining unlikely partnership with Korea. China is teaming up with Korea in pressuring Japan to be accountable over their involvement in getting Korean comfort women.

Images by: Flickr and BBC

Delhi poll nominations

Supporters of Arvind Kejriwal

Supporters of Arvind Kejriwal

The main leader for India’s anti-corruption Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Arvind Kejriwal, is going to file his nomination for the upcoming Delhi elections. Mr. Kejriwal was to file his papers on January 20 however he was unable to come on time in the election office. He was late because of the thousands of supporters who came out to greet him. The candidate for Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is going to be Kiran Bedi. She’ll file her documents on January 21, which is the last day of submitting nominations. Delhi poll will start its voting on February 7. The counting for the 70-member state assembly is due on February 10. Delhi has been unstable due to the inexistence of the government. This was due to the fact that Mr. Kejriwal, the former chief minister, resigned last February when his anti-corruption bill was blocked. The federal authorities have been governing the state.

Kiran Bedi candidate for BJP

Kiran Bedi candidate for BJP

The two main candidates have been campaigning in the city, holding rallies and road shows. Mr. Kejriwal is going to represent New Delhi constituency while Ms. Bedi is filing her paper from the Krishna Nagar constituency in east Delhi. The two have already worked together during the anti-corruption campaign, led by social activist Anna Hazare, but the two have been not in good terms in recent months. The party of Arvind Kejriwal was not able to get a good result during last summer’s general election. The emergence of Kejriwal as the main candidate gives hope for the party because the challenge it may pose. The BJP was able to win majority of the seats but still failed to come up with the majority. The AAP came second forcing them to form a coalition with the Congress party. Kejriwal resigned when the opposition blocked his own bill. The bill shall create an independent body with the power to investigate politicians and civil servants suspected of corruption.

Images by AFP and BBC

India-Pakistan border fight

Tensions between India and Pakistan became worse after the attacks near the border

Tensions between India and Pakistan became worse after the attacks near the border

Tensions in the India-Pakistan border were renewed leaving at least four people dead and hundreds of people displaced as security forces exchange fire. The violence started due to the suspected “illicit” activities being done by a Pakistani fishing crew. Tension further grew due to the exchange of fire leaving an Indian border guard and two Pakistani paramilitary soldiers killed. The exchange of fire further intensified leaving civilians no option but to evacuate. There are about a hundreds of people living in the border areas of Samba and Hiranagar evacuated as reported by Rajesh Kumar, a senior police official in Indian controlled Kashmir. Another casualty of the shelling is an Indian woman killed and 10 others wounded. An official also confirmed that there were two Indian soldiers killed as Pakistani soldiers fire rocket-propelled grenades Tanghdar area.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh criticized Pakistani forces

Home Minister Rajnath Singh criticized Pakistani forces

The attacks had been criticized by Indian officials especially India’s home minister Rajnath Singh. Despite the efforts in trying to make amends with Pakistan, India still suffered from its atrocities. Rajnath Singh said, “We are stretching our hands for friendship with Pakistan but despite this we don’t understand why the ceasefire is violated by Pakistan”. The Pakistani military officials however defended their actions. They said that its paramilitary forces responded “befittingly” to Indian fire due to the questionable firing of guns to the Pakistani fishing crew. The attack of Pakistani forces killed a teenage girl. In a statement released by the paramilitary force they said “Indian BSF yet again resorted to unprovoked firing on working boundary near Sialkot today (referring to the Border Security Force)”. Residents near the area are suffering from the attacks of India. The 13 year old teenage girl was a resident of Zafarwal sector. The recent exchanges of fire across the de facto border between India and Pakistan in Kashmir, which both countries administer in part but claim in full, have killed around two dozen civilians and displaced thousands from their homes.

Images by EPA and Shining Indian News

Violence in Kashmir region

Militants have been causing the violence in elections

Militants have been causing the violence in elections

As elections in the Indian administered valley of Kashmir near, militants have been turning up causing a fight between them and the Indian forces. Just recently the militants and the army clashed leaving 20 people dead. It happened last December 5 days before the address of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an election rally near Kashmir. The heavily armed militants went inside the Indian Army camp, setting off a gun battle leaving 11 members of the military and 6 militants dead. There were also two militants who were killed in Srinagar, Kashmir’s summer capital. In a separate incident, militants have managed to kill a civilian when they threw a grenade at a bus stop. The civilian was identified to be a Pakistani visiting the area as a tourist.

Kashmir election is at its fourth phase

Kashmir election is at its fourth phase

Indian officials discussed how such actions done by the militants have been a way of instilling fear for the civilians to turn up in the elections conducted in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Such threats did not make the voters to stop voting, the voter turnout has exceeded 70%. Militants are known for their disapproval on Modi due to the possibility of Modi over controlling the Kashmir region. This is the reason why they stop voters into going to polls in order to ensure that Modi’s BJP party will not gain any seats in the government. Prime Minister Modi has condemned the attacks calling them “desperate attempts to derail the atmosphere of hope and good will as seen by increased voter turnout”.

The exchange of gunshots between the militants and the army inside Mohura camp lasted for more than six hours. Armored vehicles patrolled the camp and even soldiers thew grenades into bunkers raided by fighters. Reports said how militants were pprepared for an extended battle carrying 32 grenades, six Kalashnikov rifles, 55 magazines with ammunition, radio sets, medical supplies, GPS devices and food. Modi’s administration ensures that they will not back down from any threats from the separatists.

Images by Voice of Vienna and New Indian Express

Kashmir Elections

Elections is currently undergoing in Kashmir area

Elections is currently undergoing in Kashmir area

Elections were conducted in the Indian administered Kashmir. It has been considered as a successful elections due to a good voter turnout in the fourth phase of the state elections. Despite separatist leaders threats of boycotting the elections, the state witnessed a 49% voter turnout. Such number of people turning up to vote has been significantly higher than the last polls in 2008. However it has been lower than the first three phases of the ongoing elections.

Narendra Modi was set to speak near the Kasmir area

Narendra Modi was set to speak near the Kasmir area

The election has five phases and it will end on December 23. Despite voters being met by cold air, they have pushed through and eager to vote in the precincts. During the early polls conducted in the area, there has always been a record for low voter turnout. Separatists encouage people to not vote and just let the elections to suffer a low record or even declared as a failure. However in recent years many voters have defied the calls of separatists and decided to vote. According to NDTV website, there as been a record of unprecedented number of first time voters came to polling booths. Some speculate that the reason for such turnout is to stop the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from gaining control over the region’s politics. There has been some promises made by the senior BJP leaders, including Prime Ministe Narendra Modi, to develop Kashmir region. In an area call Habbadakal, many of the voters who showed up in the elections cited that they wanted to keep the BJP out. The increasing popularity of the BJP has been feared by separatists due to the possibility of the party taking ove th region thus weakening the power of the protesters. Separatists fear that they may not have their full autonomy if they let the BJP continuously be the main authority. People awaits the results of the elections on December 23.

Images by India Opines and Sankarshan Thakur

The Act East Policy

PM Modi and Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj

Since Narendra Modi’s rise in power as India’s Prime Minister, he has made it clear that he wanted to focus on improving the country’s relation with its fellow Asian countries, particularly Southeast Asia and East Asia. In fact, some of Modi’s most important initiatives were his focus on one of the major Asian powers, Japan, through the 20-year old Look East Policy.

The Look East Policy was established in 1991, long before Modi’s term. It was developed and implemented under the leadership of then Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao. This Look East Policy represents one of the biggest and earliest efforts of India to establish both economic and strategic relations with Southeast and East Asian countries. Through this policy, India was able to secure and strengthen ties with countries such as the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, South Korea, and Japan. Today, Japan and South Korea remain to be major sources of foreign investment in India.

PM Modi and Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe show the two country’s strong ties

Despite India’s strong relations with both countries, the two East Asian powers still seem to be at odds with each other, especially with the resurfacing of issues on World War II war crimes. Although the issue on Japan’s abuse of South Korean comfort women seemed to have been settled over 20 years ago, the issue has once again been shed into light. This has recently caused a lot of tension between Japan and South Korea, as well as other countries in Southeast Asia that have been victims of the Japanese military.

With Modi coming into power, he has expressed his government’s keen vision of turning the Look East Policy into the Act East Policy. The improvement of the policy was made in order to emphasize India’s more proactive role in the region as well as to establish strong security cooperation with countries in the region. In fact, Modi was recently present in Myanmar to attend the India-ASEAN and East Asia summits late this year.

The Act East Policy poses good things for India as well as for the countries involved, especially South Korea and Japan. With India’s economic rise, Japan’s already strong economy, and South Korea’s influence, all countries would definitely benefit from this policy.

BJP acting as a moral police

BJP has been acting as the moral police

BJP has been acting as the moral police

In a café at Kozhikode, a city located in the southern Indian state of Kerala there was an incident that concerned the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The said incident happened on October 23 and was about the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that vandalized the said café by smashing the windows destroying the television set and wrecking the chairs. According to the view of the BJP the café was allowing “immoral activities” which are to be considered romantic by others. These “immoral activities” were specifically said to be holding hands and kissing in public. There is a “moral police” that enforce fundamentalist Hindu views. Such enforcement are said to be beating up a couple who engage in public display of affection. This enforcement has been around for quite a while and is considered to be normal and not surprising. The thing that was different in the ransack of the BJP group is that the people are included in the group are young. In fact, the age of the people who vandalized the café was about the same as the young couples who engage in PDA.

Protesters against the moral policing of BJP

Protesters against the moral policing of BJP

Young Indians are divided regarding of what they thought about the incident at the cafe. The said attack caught on film made the urban students all over the country group themselves in the streets and stage their protest they call “Kiss of love”. The protest showed the people kissing, hugging and caressing each other in their effort to challenge the “moral police” on their take on PDA.

The division of India’s youth symbolizes the broad tension on the broad cultural tension present in India. This kissing controversy is only one of the many examples of the youth’s complex attitudes towards the the traditional values of modern India. According to some surveys, like the ‘Hindustan Times survey’ more than 5,000 18 to 25 year old in major cities prayed regularly and less than 40 percent of the males agreed to assist women in housework. Regarding sexual norms in India, 61 percent of the survey said premarital sex is not a big issue anymore. Despite this, 63 percent of the male respondents expect their spouses to be virgins.

Images by Urdu News Mining and First Post

Modi’s Foreign Policy

Modi's visit in the United States last September

Modi’s visit in the United States last September

Narendra Modi’s efforts in trying to strengthen its relations with other countries have been apparent for the past couple of months. He recently just got back from the United States wherein he was able to improve India-US relations. The visit in the America was for attracting businesses based in United States to expand to India. This is a part of Narendra Modi’s plan in trying to liberalize the economy. He has already increased the foreign direct investment limits in areas of defense, insurance and railway sectors. India also hosted visits from leaders of Bhutan, Nepal and Australia. Modi believes that there is a necessity for him to strengthen ties with India’s neighbouring countries in order to improve the economy of India.

Narendra Modi and Shinzo Abe leading Asia into peaceful development

Narendra Modi and Shinzo Abe leading Asia into peaceful development

There are two crucial foreign visits that Narendra Modi made. It was when he visited Japan last July and met with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Modi said in a statement that with India and Japan working together this would lead to a path of peaceful development in the 21st century. Such statement made China alert over the intent of India in trying to establish itself as a powerful country in Asia. It was in fact effective in trying to persuade China to strengthen its relations with India. When Japan gave the Indian government $35 billion infrastructure investment, China also gave out $20 billion during President Xi Jinping’s visit. Although it was quite unclear for some whether China has really committed itself to India because of PLA soldiers crossing the borders into the Indian territory of Chumar.

Japan is further improving its ties with India through offering assistance in the development of the Intelligent Transport System in urban areas of the country. Despite the fact Japan is facing international scrutiny over the case on comfort women, India still engage in diplomatic talks with the Japanese. Last August Asahi Shimbun released a statement over the errors made in multiple articles on comfort women. It retracted the statement of Japanese man wherein he kidnapped about 200 women and forced them to be Japanese comfort women in a brothel. The retraction of statement of Seji Yoshida happened after Shinzo Abe called out Asahi over the issue.

 

Images by Brendan Smialowski and AP