Category : India

(NPR) Fasting To The Death: Is It A Religious Rite Or Suicide?

A person who is very old or very ill decides to stop eating in order to die.

To members of the ancient and tiny faith of Jainism in India, that’s a tradition called santhara or sallekhana (literally thinning out).

India’s Supreme Court is considering whether to ban the practice as a form of suicide, which is punishable under law. The court is now reviewing the end-of-life ritual.

Some form of fasting is deeply rooted in many religions: Christians practice Lent. Muslims have Ramadan. The Jewish tradition is to fast on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. The Hindu calendar is rich with days of forsaking food.

But right now the attention is on the custom of the Jains…

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, India, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

(WQ) Modi's india: Caste, Inequality, and the rise of Hindu Nationalism

Indian democracy has not blown up. But Ambedkar’s contradiction persists, and the caste foundation of India’s political structure maintains the hierarchy at the root of the country’s tremendous inequality of status and condition. Much of the careful thought of the nineteenth-century reformers and the founding generation has been shunted aside by the force of caste-based politics on the one hand and capitalist materialism on the other. The political principles on which the Indian state is founded have not been sufficient to create an inclusive, egalitarian society. Although the post-independence generation of Congress politicians promoted a secular vision of the Indian nation, they did not pursue the kinds of reforms that might have brought social reality closer to their political ideal. In doing so, they opened the way for the ascendance of caste-based politics and, ultimately, the more reactionary rise of religion in politics.

Hindu nationalism, with its dual focus on cultivating traditional social practices and providing social services afforded neither by the state nor economic growth, would seem to provide the strongest alternative to a modern capitalist society. But Hindu nationalism itself has adapted to India’s increasing wealth. The upper castes, particularly the Brahmins, once prided themselves on simple, even ascetic, living; they now hold up material success as another sign of caste superiority. The traditional Hindu elite is no longer distinguishable from the modern economic elite.

Prime Minister Modi is the living embodiment of this troubling marriage of Hindu nationalism and capitalism, of traditional social hierarchy and modern materialism. While he has maintained the support of his elite urban business constituents, he has proven himself to be as much a disciple of the Hindu Right as he was in his youth. Even as the RSS offers hope and basic services to thousands of poor, lower-caste youth like Aakash, we cannot take the organization’s apparent social egalitarianism at face value. At its core remains the inequality that has long marked Indian life.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Hinduism, India, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Rural/Town Life

(FT) India launches crackdown on online pornography

India has launched a crackdown on internet pornography, banning access to more than 800 adult websites, including Playboy and Pornhub.
The restrictions followed a ruling from India’s telecoms ministry ordering internet service providers, including international telecoms groups operating in the country such as the UK’s Vodafone, to block 857 such sites.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government provided no public justification for the unexpected ban when it came into effect at the weekend.
However, on Monday India’s telecoms ministry said that the order, issued under India’s Information Technology Act, had been prompted by comments made by a supreme court judge during a hearing in July.

Read it all (another link Read it all).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Blogging & the Internet, Globalization, India, Pornography

(Local Paper) Grieving Gov. Nikki Haley forever changed by church massacre

Haley knew early on that she’d attend every funeral, even speaking at them when asked. She wanted each family to feel the state’s embrace of support.

“And I felt the need to go for me,” she says during a rare moment of quiet in a sitting room at the Governor’s Mansion.

Haley wanted to know the nine beyond a list of names.

“I had a need to meet them. I had a need to know, because I knew the forensic story. I knew the investigative part of the story. I needed to know the people.”

Through each funeral, she met them.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Hinduism, India, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, State Government, Theology, Violence

(Aleteia) Philip Jenkins–Has Christianity Failed in India?

In India… [Tony Joseph] suggests, Christianity is doing far worse than in most parts of the world, while Hinduism is booming. Presently, he declares, around 78 percent of Indians are Hindus.

Well, yes and no. Nobody can claim that Christianity has claimed major shares of the Indian population, or that it is likely to do so in the near future. But some counter-arguments do need to be stressed, especially about the overall numbers. No sane person believes the religious content of the Indian national census, which is one of the world’s great works of creative fiction. At all levels, there is enormous pressure of all kinds ”“ cultural, political and bureaucratic ”“ to minimize the presence of all non-Hindu religions, including Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists. That pressure becomes overwhelming when dealing with people of low and no caste, those who are most tempted to defect to one of the alternative faiths. Bureaucrats are especially hard to convince in matters of religious conversion from Hinduism.

That matters because such low or no caste people are so very numerous. India presently has over 200 million Dalits, the so-called untouchables. If the census is failing to pick up just a few percent of those groups who have converted to other faiths, that is potentially a huge number. In consequence, the estimate of India as 78 percent Hindu represents an extreme higher-end estimate, achieved only by making that the default stance adopted and enforced by census takers and bureaucrats. I would confidently expect future estimates of Christian numbers to decline still further as the government attitudes become chillier ”“ which has nothing whatever to do with actual numbers on the ground.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Hinduism, History, India, Inter-Faith Relations, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Church of South India

O Lord Jesus Christ, who hast gone to the Father to prepare a place for us: Grant us so to live in communion with thee here on earth, that hereafter we may enjoy the fullness of thy presence; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, India, Spirituality/Prayer

(Economist) The marriage squeeze in India and China: Bare branches, redundant males

KHAPs are informal local councils in north-western India. They meet to lay down the law on questions of marriage and caste, and are among India’s most unflinchingly conservative institutions. They have banned marriage between people of different castes, restricted it between people from the same village and stand accused of ordering honour killings to enforce their rulings, which have no legal force. India’s Supreme Court once called for khaps to be “ruthlessly stamped out”. In April 2014, however, the Satrol khap, the largest in Haryana, one of India’s richest states, relaxed its ban on inter-caste marriage and made it easier for villagers to marry among their neighbours. “This will bring revolutionary change to Haryana,” said Inder Singh, president of the khap.

The cause of the decision, he admitted, was “the declining male-female sex ratio in the state”. After years of sex-selective abortions in favour of boys, Haryana has India’s most distorted sex ratio: 114 males of all ages for every 100 females. In their search for brides, young men are increasingly looking out of caste, out of district and out of state. “This is the only way out to keep our old traditions alive,” said Mr Singh. “Instead of getting a bride from outside the state who takes time to adjust, we preferred to prune the jurisdiction of prohibited areas.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Asia, Children, China, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, India, Marriage & Family, Theology

(FT) India’s growth to outstrip China, says the Intl Monetary Fund

The global economy was more likely to enjoy a reasonable recovery over the next two years benefiting from recent falls in energy prices and exchange rate movements, the International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday.

The twice-yearly forecasts show India is expected to outperform China in growth for the first time in 16 years.

Although the fund has recently told countries they “could do better” to improve medium-term prospects, the World Economic Outlook is the first since 2011 to suggest economies are putting the 2009 financial crisis behind them.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Housing/Real Estate Market, India, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Politics in General, Theology

(NYT) As Rivals Falter, India’s Economy Is Surging Ahead

hina’s economy is slowing. Brazil is struggling as commodity prices plunge. Russia, facing Western sanctions and weak oil revenue, is headed into a recession.

As other big developing markets stumble, India is emerging as one of the few hopes for global growth.

The stock market and rupee are surging. Multinational companies are looking to expand their Indian operations or start new ones. The growth in India’s economy, long a laggard, just matched China’s pace in recent months.

India is riding high on the early success of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a raft of new business-friendly policies instituted in his first eight months.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Asia, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Housing/Real Estate Market, India, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Stock Market, Theology

Prime Minister Narendra Modi Condemns Religious Violence in India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India said on Tuesday that his government would not “accept violence against any religion, on any pretext” and that it would take forceful steps to prevent and prosecute such crimes, in a speech widely interpreted as a response to a series of attacks on Roman Catholic churches in and around New Delhi.

“My government will not allow any religious group, belonging to the minority or the majority, to incite hatred against others, overtly or covertly,” Mr. Modi said at a New Delhi ceremony to honor the recent canonization of two Indians by the Vatican. “I strongly condemn such violence. My government will act strongly in this regard.”

For weeks, church officials and rights campaigners have urged Mr. Modi to address a growing sense of insecurity among the country’s religious minorities, which include large populations of Muslims and Christians.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Ethics / Moral Theology, Hinduism, India, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence

(PS) Raghuram Rajan–Is the Global Economy Bracing for Stagnation?

As 2015 begins, the global economy remains weak. The United States may be seeing signs of a strengthening recovery, but the eurozone risks following Japan into recession, and emerging markets worry that their export-led growth strategies have left them vulnerable to stagnation abroad. With few signs that this year will bring any improvement, policymakers would be wise to understand the factors underlying the global economy’s anemic performance ”“ and the implications of continued feebleness.

In the words of Christine Lagarde, the International Monetary Fund’s managing director, we are experiencing the “new mediocre.” The implication is that growth is unacceptably low relative to potential and that more can be done to lift it, especially given that some major economies are flirting with deflation.

Conventional policy advice urges innovative monetary interventions bearing an ever expanding array of acronyms, even as governments are admonished to spend on “obvious” needs such as infrastructure. The need for structural reforms is acknowledged, but they are typically deemed painful, and possibly growth-reducing in the short run. So the focus remains on monetary and fiscal stimulus ”“ and as much of it as possible, given the deadening effects of debt overhang.

And yet, the efficacy of such policy advice remains to be seen.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, European Central Bank, Federal Reserve, Foreign Relations, Globalization, India, Personal Finance, Politics in General, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Samuel Azariah

Emmanuel, God with us, who didst make thy home in every culture and community on earth: We offer thanks for the raising up of thy servant Samuel Azariah as the first indigenous bishop in India. Grant that we may be strengthened by his witness to thy love without concern for class or caste, and by his labors for the unity of the Church in India, that people of many languages and cultures might with one voice give thee glory, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Church History, India, Spirituality/Prayer

(CSM Editorial) When children stand up to terror

The terrorist attack on a Pakistani school Tuesday continues to evoke a global outcry. Even the Taliban in Afghanistan has condemned the Taliban group in Pakistan that took credit for slaughtering 148 people, of whom 132 were children. In Pakistan, tens of thousands of people held candlelight vigils nationwide, holding up signs saying “Enough!”

But the most touching and perhaps meaningful reaction took place in India, Pakistan’s longtime adversary and a victim itself of Pakistani-led terror over a territorial dispute between the two countries.

On Wednesday, Indian students in thousands of schools and colleges observed two minutes of silence or wrote messages in their scrapbooks for the young victims. “We also prayed for the quick recovery of the injured students and the grieving family members,” one school official told The Times of India.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Children, Education, Globalization, India, Pakistan, Violence

(CT) U.S. Visited by Only Politician Ever Banned Over Religious Freedom Violations–Modi

[This week]…the only person ever banned by the United States because of alleged religious freedom violations””India’s newly-elected prime minister, Narendra Modi””will begin a four-day tour on American shores.

After Modi failed to prevent the riot deaths of 1,000 Muslims in 2002 while he was chief minister of the western state of Gujarat, the State Department leaned on a little-known provision in the International Religious Freedom Act that says foreign officials responsible for “severe violations of religious freedom” shouldn’t be admitted to America. The Wall Street Journal offers more details.

The visa restriction might have been permanent, but this summer Modi was elected to the most powerful political position in India. He’ll meet with President Obama and major business corporations during his visit from September 26-30. One American legal group filed suit against Modi this week, though the move is largely seen as symbolic, reports Reuters.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Foreign Relations, Globalization, India, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Violence

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley to visit with India's prime minister in NY

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is heading to New York this weekend to meet with India Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Haley’s office said Friday the governor will be joined by her husband and her parents, who were born in India. Haley will also spend some time in private discussions with Modi on Sunday.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., Asia, Economy, Foreign Relations, Globalization, India, Politics in General, State Government

Archbishop Welby urges prayers on the anniversary of the Peshawar church bombings

“As we approach the first anniversary of the horrific suicide bombings at All Saints Church, Peshawar ”“ which made martyrs of more than 100 Christians and wounded many more ”“ firstly our thoughts and prayers are with all those who were bereaved and injured in these terrible attacks. As we have done, so must we continue to pray fervently for Jesus Christ to comfort all those whose lives were changed forever by these evil acts. Meanwhile we must continue to pray and call for justice, and for the peace of Pakistan and the protection of Christ’s people there.

“In May I visited Pakistan’s Anglican community ”“ who number 800,000 in a population of 180 million ”“ and I was appalled to hear and see evidence of the hatred, violence and persecution they face. As I sat among them, I heard the searing anguish in their cry for the right to worship in freedom and safety. But I was also moved and inspired by their steadfastness and courage, which is grounded in deep and unshakable faith in Jesus Christ.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, Asia, India, Inter-Faith Relations, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Violence

(NPR) Will Al-Qaida Find Followers In India?

After a year of silence, al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has exhorted his “Muslim brothers” to join a newly established South Asia faction that would “defend the vulnerable in the Indian subcontinent.”

He listed Burma and Bangladesh, and specifically named three states in India ”” Assam, Gujarat and Kashmir. In disputed Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state ”” which is claimed by both Pakistan and India ”” an insurgency agitates for independence. Assam has its own separatist movement and Gujarat was the site of religious riots in which 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in 2002.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was then Gujarat’s chief minister.

Friday’s headlines in Indian newspapers reflected the general worry: “Clear and Present Qaeda Danger,” said The Times of India. “India Now In Al Qaeda sights,” wrote The Hindu.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, India, Terrorism

(B. Standard) 'Hindu Nation' comments trigger uproar in Inida

Controversial comments made by two ministers of the BJP-led Goa government, one wishing for a Hindu nation under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and another claiming India is already one, created an uproar both in the state assembly and across social media Friday.

Minutes after the opposition Congress and an independent legislator staged a walked out demanding a clarification from Co-operation Minister Deepak Dhavalikar for his Thursday’s comments that India would become a Hindu nation if everyone supported Modi, Deputy Chief Minister Francis D’Souza dropped another bombshell, saying India was always a Hindu country and that he was Christian Hindu.

“India is a Hindu country. It is Hindustan. All Indians in Hindustan are Hindus, including I, am a Christian Hindu,” D’Souza, one of the seniormost minority members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Goa, told reporters in the assembly complex.

The ‘Hindu nation’ comments have found backers amongst Hindu right wing groups, but have also been the target of criticism from other politicians as well as civil society commentators on the social media.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, India, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(WSJ) Alleged Hindu Fringe Group Members Arrested for Murder of Muslim

Indian police arrested 17 men they say are members of a fringe Hindu nationalist group on suspicion of killing a Muslim computer engineer, in a case that has renewed concerns about religious violence in the world’s largest democracy.

Police said the men beat to death 28-year-old Mohsin Sadiq Shaikh in the western city of Pune because he was Muslim. The attack happened Monday night after days of anti-Muslim incidents, said Additional Commissioner of Police Abdur Rehman. “He was a poor man, returning home after performing prayers at the mosque” and easily identifiable as a Muslim because of his beard and skullcap, Mr. Rehman said.

The killing has stoked fears among Muslims and others that Hindu fundamentalist groups energized by the recent landslide election victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party, which has Hindu-nationalist roots, could resort to violence.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Ethics / Moral Theology, Hinduism, India, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence

(Lambeth Palace PR) Archbishop visits Anglicans in Pakistan, Bangladesh and India

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Asia, Bangladesh, Globalization, India, Pakistan, Religion & Culture

(Economist) Modi has a good chance of resuscitating the country’s underperforming economy

India, a giant economic mediocrity, is cursed by having too many economists. Its outgoing prime minister, Manmohan Singh, has a doctorate from Oxford, ran the central bank in the 1980s and led the liberalisation programme that India put in place in 1991 after a currency crisis. Yet as prime minister Mr Singh had little grip or public support, serving at the pleasure of Sonia Gandhi, the populist leader of the Congress party. By the end of his ten-year term he admitted he had failed. In August, as the rupee tumbled, he addressed a gathering of India’s policymaking elite at his house in Delhi. The economy faced “very difficult circumstances”, he whispered.

Mr Singh’s successor could not be more different. Narendra Modi’s economic views have been formed while running the business-friendly state of Gujarat for the past 12 years. Asked some time ago about his economic influences, he described his homespun framework, jotting diagrams on a pad as he spoke. He has studied Singapore and China, but thinks that “India is a democracy and has different requirements”. Striking a balance between farming, small firms and global companies is required, with limited but muscular administration and populist appeal: “Men, machines and money must work together.”

Having run Gujarat well, Mr Modi now faces the far harder task of running India. He has big advantages””administrative competence, control over his party and a majority in Parliament””that should ease decision-making. Unlike Mr Singh, he has also campaigned and won on a platform of aspiration and economic reform. India needs “less government and more governance”, he declared on the campaign trail.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Asia, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Housing/Real Estate Market, India, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Taxes, Theology

(BBC) Pakistan PM Sharif to go to Modi inauguration in India

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is to attend the inauguration of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister of India on Monday.

It is the first time since the two countries won independence in 1947 that a prime minister from one state will attend such a ceremony in the other.

The two nuclear-armed rivals have fought three wars in the past 60 years.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Foreign Relations, History, India, Pakistan, Politics in General

(UCA News) Locking horns over 'The Asian Jesus'

Father Michael Amaladoss, one of the most respected theologians in India, is said by some to be under suspicion from the Vatican’s watchdog on doctrinal orthodoxy, the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). He was summoned to Rome for a series of “conversations” with the CDF, although reports differ over how cordial these conversations were.

The scrutiny of Amaladoss stems from a book he wrote, The Asian Jesus, which grapples with an issue that has bedeviled Christians in Asia for centuries: how to present Jesus Christ as a genuine fellow Asian to the millions of our countrymen, who often see him as a white European import.

This is not just a matter of visual iconography, but of theology as well: What has Jesus Christ to say to the world religions of India? This is what Amaladoss tries to answer.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Books, Christology, India, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Theology

(Reuters) In Modi's India, will it be a case of rule and divide?

Ali Husain is a prosperous young Indian Muslim businessman. He recently bought a Mercedes and lives in a suburban-style gated community that itself sits inside a ghetto.

In Gujarat, it is so difficult for Muslims to buy property in areas dominated by Hindus even the community’s fast-growing urban middle class is confined to cramped and decrepit corners of cities.

Husain embodies the paradox of Gujarat: the state’s pro-business leadership has created opportunities for entrepreneurs of all creeds; yet religious prejudice and segregation are deeply, and even legally, engrained.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Hinduism, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, India, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Personal Finance, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Project Syndicate) Michael Mandelbaum on Narendra Modi's Challenges as he begins

Modi’s new government cannot ”“ indeed, must not ”“ abolish the democratic rules that permit minorities to flourish. With its various ethnic groups, religions, castes, and 30 languages used by more than a million native speakers each (and another 105 spoken by at least 10,000 people), India is more culturally diverse than the entire European Union ”“ but with twice as many people. Without the emphasis on compromise, peaceful dispute resolution, and minority rights inherent to democracy, a united India could not exist.

So Modi’s challenge is to overcome the obstacles to growth-promoting polices using democratic methods. Here, the election has brought good news: the growing strength of India’s growing middle class, a potent ally in the cause of pursuing the needed economic reforms.

That middle class consists of propertied, salaried people, many of them young, who see government as an impersonal enforcer of the law and a neutral arbiter of disputes, rather than as a source of funds and favors. The votes of such people helped Modi win the election. His success in office will depend on how well he can harness the power of the middle class to overcome the political obstacles to the economic growth that its members demand.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, India, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Theology

(Bloomberg) Narendra Modi Tells India’s Hindu Heartland He’s Doing God’s Work

Incoming Indian leader Narendra Modi told thousands of supporters in one of Hinduism’s holiest cities that he represented a break from past governments after winning the nation’s biggest electoral mandate in 30 years.

“There’s a lot of work that god has put me on this earth for,” Modi said yesterday on the banks of the Ganges River in Varanasi, his constituency, after attending a prayer service at a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction and transformation. “A lot of it is dirty work, but I am up to the task.”

Thousands of people threw rose petals at Modi’s convoy as it made its way through the streets of Varanasi, with onlookers and security officials taking pictures. Earlier, Modi greeted supporters in New Delhi, where his Bharatiya Janata Party said it would nominate him formally for prime minister this week.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Hinduism, India, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(NYT) For India’s Persecuted Muslim Minority, Caution Follows Hindu Party’s Victory

Like real estate agents the world over, Rahul Rewal asks his clients if they have children or pets, since both limit options. But there is another crucial but often unspoken question: Are they Muslim?

“I tailor the list of places that I show Muslims because many landlords, even in upper-class neighborhoods, will not rent to them,” Mr. Rewal said. “Most don’t even bother hiding their bigotry.”

Discrimination against Muslims in India is so rampant that many barely muster outrage when telling of the withdrawn apartment offers, rejected job applications and turned-down loans that are part of living in the country for them. As a group, Muslims have fallen badly behind Hindus in recent decades in education, employment and economic status, with persistent discrimination a key reason. Muslims are more likely to live in villages without schools or medical facilities and less likely to qualify for bank loans.

Now, after a landslide electoral triumph Friday by the Bharatiya Janata Party of Hindu nationalists, some Muslims here said they were worried that their place in India could become even more tenuous.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Ethics / Moral Theology, Hinduism, History, India, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(BBC) India's BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] with a historic win: "scale of victory is truly gigantic"

India’s main opposition BJP has risen like a phoenix from the depths of despair.

As the leads poured in on Friday morning, it was clear that the party is steaming ahead to its biggest victory in 30 years. This, after two losing two elections in a row – the party was able to mop up only 116 seats in 2009.

Today, the BJP on its own is on course to win more than the 272 which it needs to gain a simple majority, and its 28-party coalition is leading the vote count in over 300 seats.

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Update: From an SMH article:

“It’s a tsunami … the BJP has levelled the Congress and this is a new era in Indian politics,” BJP chief media spokesman Srikant Sharma told Fairfax Media.

“The Gandhi family is finished. They are no longer a force in Indian politics. India has moved past them, they are history,” he said.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Economy, Foreign Relations, Globalization, India, Politics in General

(FT) David Pilling–Narendra Modi should stick to his pledge of toilets before temples

Narendra Modi, the man most likely to become India’s next prime minister, has a wicked turn of phrase. In one of his most memorable remarks, he subverted his strong association with Hindu asceticism by declaring his support for “toilets before temples”. The same phrase, spoken by a Congress party cabinet minister, had provoked outrage from the Bharatiya Janata party of which Mr Modi is head. The BJP said the remark threatened to “destroy the fine fabric of religion and faith”. But the party hierarchy, knowing that its fate depends on the so-called “Modi wave”, barely demurred when its candidate adopted the slogan as his own.

The BJP leader is quite right to declare that India should spend less money on devotion and more on sanitation. According to 2011 census data, nearly half of households have no access to a toilet, forcing inhabitants to defecate in the open. More Indians own a mobile phone than a lavatory of their own. Poor hygiene, not lack of food, is the main reason that 40 per cent of children are malnourished. Much of Mr Modi’s appeal, which has swept through India like a brush fire, lies in his promise to conjure the growth that will eradicate such dire conditions and set his supporters on the road to a middle-class life.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Asia, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Hinduism, Housing/Real Estate Market, India, Inter-Faith Relations, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Other Faiths, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(BBC) India election: Exit polls see Modi win as vote ends

A number of exit polls are suggesting that Narendra Modi, the leader of India’s main opposition BJP, is on course to win the general election.

The BJP dominated the campaign but analysts warn that exit polls have often been wrong in the past.

The main contest in the vote is between the ruling Congress and the BJP. Votes will be counted on 16 May.

Polls ended on the final day of voting on Monday. The Election Commission said voter turnout was a record 66.38%

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Globalization, India, Politics in General