Pakistan FM Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Lashes Out At Indian EAM Subramanyam Jaishankar

“If the FM (foreign minister) of India (Jaishankar) was being honest, then he knows as well as I, that the RSS (India's militant Hindu organization) does not believe in Gandhi, in his ideology. They do not see this individual as the founder of India, they hero-worship the terrorist that assassinated Gandhi", said Pakistan's Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari at a press conference at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. "Osama Bin Laden is dead but the butcher of Gujarat lives and he is the prime minister of India", he added. Mr. Bhutto Zardari was responding to a question from the media asked at the behest of the Indian Foreign Minister Subramanyam Jaishankar.  Earlier at the UNSC, Indian External Affairs Minister Subramanyam Jaishankar had unveiled a statue of Mohandas K. Gandhi at the UN and accused Pakistan of "hosting Osama Bin Laden". Gandhi was assassinated by Nathuram Godse, a member of the militant Hindu organization RSS. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a member of the RSS. 

Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari at the United Nations Headquarters in New York

Here are some excerpts of what Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said at the media briefing at the UN:  

“He [Narendra Modi] was banned from entering this country [the United States]....these are the prime minister and foreign minister of the RSS (India's right-wing Hindu nationalist organization)....The RSS draws its inspiration from Hitler’s SS (the German Nazi Party’s militant wing Schutzstaffel)...(According to the RSS) we (Muslims) are terrorists whether we are Muslims in Pakistan and we’re terrorists whether we’re Muslims in India.....They (Modi and BJP) are not even attempting to wash the blood of the people of Gujarat off their hand..."Butcher of Gujarat” was now the “Butcher of Kashmir”". 

Last month,  the US State Department bracketed Indian Prime Minister Modi with murderous dictators like Congo's Laurent Kabila and Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe. Speaking about the US decision to grant immunity to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel said that it was “not the first time” that the US government has designated immunity to foreign leaders and listed four cases. “Some examples: President Aristide in Haiti in 1993; President Mugabe in Zimbabwe in 2001; Prime Minister Modi in India in 2014; and President Kabila in the DRC in 2018. This is a consistent practice that we have afforded to heads of state, heads of government, and foreign ministers,” he said. 

BJP HIndutva Leaders Modi, Yogi and Shah

Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India was barred from entering the United States from 2005 to 2014 for his involvement in the massacre of thousands of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002.  In 2015, a US judge dismissed a lawsuit against Modi after the US government argued that he is immune to accusations as a sitting head of government. While Modi has denied any involvement in the Gujarat anti-Muslim pogrom, he has never even expressed any regret over the killings in Gujarat when he was the Chief Minister of the Indian state. 

While Modi has refused to accept any responsibility for the massacre of over 2,000 Muslims in Gujarat in 2002, his party BJP's leaders have not shied away from claiming "credit" for it. Just yesterday, Modi's right-hand man and current Home Minister Amit Shah said Muslims were "taught a lesson" in 2002. He said that "after they were taught a lesson in 2002, these elements left that path (of violence). They refrained from indulging in violence from 2002 till 2022. BJP has established permanent peace in Gujarat by taking strict action against those who used to indulge in communal violence". 

In 2002 when Narendra Modi was chief minister of the Indian state of Gujarat, hundreds of young Muslim girls were sexually assaulted, tortured and killed.  These rapes were condoned by the ruling BJP, whose refusal to intervene lead to the rape and killing of thousands and displacement of 200,000 Muslims.

In 2012, a former Chief Minister of Gujarat Mr. Shankersinh Vaghela accused Modi's state government of having blood on its hand: "2002 me jo katl-e-aam hua uspe wo sarkar bani hai. Iske baad encounter hui, uske upar ye sarkar bani thi. Sarkar banti hai, lekin ye jo conspiracy karke sarkar banana hai, ye Gujarat aur desh ki janata jaanti hai aur aaj wo repeat nah o, iske liye hum janata ko request karte hain (The foundation of this (Modi) government rests on the 2002 carnage. Governments are made, but not on conspiracies. And the people of Gujarat know this, and that's why we are requesting the people for a change)," Mr Vaghela said.

Since his election to India's top elected office, Modi has elevated fellow right-wing Hindu extremists to positions of power in India. Yogi Adiyanath, known for his highly inflammatory anti-Muslim rhetoric, was hand-picked in 2016 by Modi to head India's most populous state of Uttar Pradesh.

Adiyanath's supporters brag about digging up Muslim women from their graves and raping them. In a video uploaded in 2014,  he said, “If [Muslims] take one Hindu girl, we’ll take 100 Muslim girls. If they kill one Hindu, we’ll kill 100 Muslims.”

Yogi wants to "install statues of Goddess Gauri, Ganesh and Nandi in every mosque”.  Before his election, he said, “If one Hindu is killed, we won’t go to the police, we’ll kill 10 Muslims”.  He endorsed the beef lynching of Indian Muslim Mohammad Akhlaque and demanded that the victim's family be charged with cow slaughter.

Madhav S. Golwalkar, considered among the founders of the Hindu Nationalist movement in India, saw Islam and Muslims as enemies. He said: “Ever since that evil day, when Moslems first landed in Hindusthan, right up to the present moment, the Hindu Nation has been gallantly fighting to shake off the despoilers".

In his book We, MS Golwalkar wrote the following in praise of what Nazi leader Adolf Hitler did to Jews as a model for what Hindus should do to Muslims in India: "To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races -- the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by."

Paul Richard Brass, professor emeritus of political science and international relations at the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington, has spent many years researching communal riots in India. He has debunked all the action-reaction theories promoted by Hindu Nationalists like Modi. He believes these are not spontaneous but planned and staged as "a grisly form of dramatic production" by well-known perpetrators from the Sangh Parivar of which Prime Minister Modi has been a member since his youth.

Here's an excerpt of Professor Brass's work:

"Events labelled “Hindu-Muslim riots” have been recurring features in India for three-quarters of a century or more. In northern and western India, especially, there are numerous cities and town in which riots have become endemic. In such places, riots have, in effect, become a grisly form of dramatic production in which there are three phases: preparation/rehearsal, activation/enactment, and explanation/interpretation. In these sites of endemic riot production, preparation and rehearsal are continuous activities. Activation or enactment of a large-scale riot takes place under particular circumstances, most notably in a context of intense political mobilization or electoral competition in which riots are precipitated as a device to consolidate the support of ethnic, religious, or other culturally marked groups by emphasizing the need for solidarity in face of the rival communal group. The third phase follows after the violence in a broader struggle to control the explanation or interpretation of the causes of the violence. In this phase, many other elements in society become involved, including journalists, politicians, social scientists, and public opinion generally. At first, multiple narratives vie for primacy in controlling the explanation of violence. On the one hand, the predominant social forces attempt to insert an explanatory narrative into the prevailing discourse of order, while others seek to establish a new consensual hegemony that upsets existing power relations, that is, those which accept the violence as spontaneous, religious, mass-based, unpredictable, and impossible to prevent or control fully. This third phase is also marked by a process of blame displacement in which social scientists themselves become implicated, a process that fails to isolate effectively those most responsible for the production of violence, and instead diffuses blame widely, blurring responsibility, and thereby contributing to the perpetuation of violent productions in future, as well as the order that sustains them."

"In India, all this takes place within a discourse of Hindu-Muslim hostility that denies the deliberate and purposive character of the violence by attributing it to the spontaneous reactions of ordinary Hindus and Muslims, locked in a web of mutual antagonisms said to have a long history. In the meantime, in post-Independence India, what are labelled Hindu-Muslim riots have more often than not been turned into pogroms and massacres of Muslims, in which few Hindus are killed. In fact, in sites of endemic rioting, there exist what I have called “institutionalized riot systems,” in which the organizations of militant Hindu nationalism are deeply implicated. Further, in these sites, persons can be identified, who play specific roles in the preparation, enactment, and explanation of riots after the fact. Especially important are what I call the “fire tenders,” who keep Hindu-Muslim tensions alive through various inflammatory and inciting acts; “conversion specialists,” who lead and address mobs of potential rioters and give a signal to indicate if and when violence should commence; criminals and the poorest elements in society, recruited and rewarded for enacting the violence; and politicians and the vernacular media who, during the violence, and in its aftermath, draw attention away from the perpetrators of the violence by attributing it to the actions."

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Comment by Riaz Haq on February 9, 2023 at 7:57pm

Narendra Modi is struggling to be both anti-Muslim strongman and global leader
Mukul Kesavan
The Indian prime minister’s attempts to suppress a critical BBC documentary show how sensitive he is to his international reputation

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/feb/08/narendra-modi...

he clue to the Indian government’s thin-skinned response to the BBC’s two-part documentary, India: The Modi Question, is in the name. The documentary lays out the evidence for the argument that the anti-Muslim bigotry that characterises India today is rooted in Narendra Modi’s alleged decision to rein in the police in Gujarat in 2002, giving anti-Muslim rioters a free hand, leading to the killing of hundreds of people.

The first part explores the 2002 pogrom as the ideological foundation of Modi’s power and political persona. The second part surveys the actions of Modi’s government after his re-election in 2019, and tries to show how both formal policy and informal violence have been deployed by the state to reduce Muslims to second-class citizens. It was the documentary’s unequivocal framing of India’s recent history as “Modi v India’s Muslims” that has infuriated Modi’s government.

Paradoxically, this is a characterisation that Modi and his allies have often embraced for domestic political advantage. Modi’s image as a Hindu strongman who had the nerve to put a malcontented minority in its place has helped him win two terms in office and remake the republic in his majoritarian image. Why then did the central government issue directions for blocking multiple YouTube videos and Twitter posts sharing links to the documentary? Why did it play whack-a-mole online and resort to desperate measures such as seizing laptops on university campuses where students were planning to screen the film?

One reason for this reaction was that the film was produced by the BBC. Post-colonial states will grudgingly acknowledge the credibility of the BBC even as they accuse it of condescension or, in the words of the Indian government’s spokesperson, “a colonial mindset”. This credibility is based on the BBC’s institutional memory, its ability to reach into its archive and produce evidence for its narratives.

In the first part, for example, we were shown a BBC reporter, a young woman called Jill McGivering, reporting on the riots and interviewing Modi in the aftermath. The Modi on show here is not the groomed and costumed persona that Indians have become accustomed to since he became prime minister in 2014. This is a rough-and-ready Modi, willing to be caught on camera laughing and taunting a young female reporter, and doing his best to intimidate her. McGivering reappears in the documentary, 20 years older, reflecting on Modi’s charisma and menace. This persona plays well with his base, but it isn’t how this famously image-conscious, multiply-made-over politician wants to be remembered.


Even less welcome is the documentary footage of the anguish of Muslim men and women who have been attacked, bereaved or imprisoned. The men who defend Modi in this documentary emphasise time and again the courts and tribunals that have cleared him of criminal conspiracy. They speak of the need for closure, the importance of moving on. But the testimony of Zakia Jafri, Mariam Ansari, Kismatun, Safoora Zargar and many others, backed up by video clips of Muslims being subjected to horrific violence, bring back ghosts that makes “closure” impossible.

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 9, 2023 at 7:58pm

The Indian prime minister’s attempts to suppress a critical BBC documentary show how sensitive he is to his international reputation

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/feb/08/narendra-modi...

Individual stories of trauma and tragedy can be discredited by citing exculpatory verdicts won in court, but when these voices, ragged with pain, are brought together, as they have been here, they become a Greek chorus, a voiceover on an unfolding tragedy and Muslim suffering that becomes a spectre at the prime minister’s feast.

This year India hosts the G20 summit. Modi has used the moment, in this pre-election year, to announce India’s imminent leadership of the world. He has cast India (and by implication, himself) as a kind of universal mentor, a Vishwaguru. It’s not a claim that goes well with a recent past riven with bigotry. Modi has profited and continues to profit electorally from his reputation as an anti-Muslim strongman, but electoral dog-whistling is only for domestic consumption. He knows that a reputation for alleged ethnic cleansing puts India’s geopolitical standing at risk.

The Indian government trades on the fact that western countries will overlook a lot to ally with a democratic India as a counterweight to China. Britain’s former foreign secretary, Jack Straw, says as much in the documentary, and that role’s current incumbent has bent over backwards to distance himself from its narrative. James Cleverly cited the BBC’s independence as a way of disclaiming responsibility, and emphasised his government’s commitment to investing in India in every possible way.

Soon after both parts of the documentary were released, the prime minister, Rishi Sunak, was asked in the House of Commons if he agreed with the diplomats cited in the documentary, and with the charge of ethnic cleansing. It is unreasonable to expect Sunak to comment on a controversial documentary involving a major country and a potential ally. He made the appropriate boilerplate response about it being settled policy that the UK government did not tolerate political persecution anywhere.

He didn’t stop there, though. He went on to say: “I am not sure I agree at all with the characterisation that the honourable gentleman has put forward.” This went beyond diplomatic deflection. This suggested that Sunak disagreed emphatically with both the questioner and the documentary he was citing. Unlike Cleverly, he chose to offer an opinion. On Indian websites, this was accurately interpreted as the British prime minister coming to Modi’s defence. Sunak’s seeming deference to Modi’s narrative, is proof, if any was needed, of the value of the historical documentary and the indispensability of the BBC.

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 9, 2023 at 7:58pm

The Indian prime minister’s attempts to suppress a critical BBC documentary show how sensitive he is to his international reputation

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/feb/08/narendra-modi...

Individual stories of trauma and tragedy can be discredited by citing exculpatory verdicts won in court, but when these voices, ragged with pain, are brought together, as they have been here, they become a Greek chorus, a voiceover on an unfolding tragedy and Muslim suffering that becomes a spectre at the prime minister’s feast.

This year India hosts the G20 summit. Modi has used the moment, in this pre-election year, to announce India’s imminent leadership of the world. He has cast India (and by implication, himself) as a kind of universal mentor, a Vishwaguru. It’s not a claim that goes well with a recent past riven with bigotry. Modi has profited and continues to profit electorally from his reputation as an anti-Muslim strongman, but electoral dog-whistling is only for domestic consumption. He knows that a reputation for alleged ethnic cleansing puts India’s geopolitical standing at risk.

The Indian government trades on the fact that western countries will overlook a lot to ally with a democratic India as a counterweight to China. Britain’s former foreign secretary, Jack Straw, says as much in the documentary, and that role’s current incumbent has bent over backwards to distance himself from its narrative. James Cleverly cited the BBC’s independence as a way of disclaiming responsibility, and emphasised his government’s commitment to investing in India in every possible way.

Soon after both parts of the documentary were released, the prime minister, Rishi Sunak, was asked in the House of Commons if he agreed with the diplomats cited in the documentary, and with the charge of ethnic cleansing. It is unreasonable to expect Sunak to comment on a controversial documentary involving a major country and a potential ally. He made the appropriate boilerplate response about it being settled policy that the UK government did not tolerate political persecution anywhere.

He didn’t stop there, though. He went on to say: “I am not sure I agree at all with the characterisation that the honourable gentleman has put forward.” This went beyond diplomatic deflection. This suggested that Sunak disagreed emphatically with both the questioner and the documentary he was citing. Unlike Cleverly, he chose to offer an opinion. On Indian websites, this was accurately interpreted as the British prime minister coming to Modi’s defence. Sunak’s seeming deference to Modi’s narrative, is proof, if any was needed, of the value of the historical documentary and the indispensability of the BBC.

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 16, 2023 at 8:30am

Telugu film RRR (Rise Roar Revolt)

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/the-new-yorker-interview/the-man-...

The Beginning,” from 2015, which inspired a new wave of Indian historic epics. But he has found a new level of global success with his latest film, the joyously over-the-top action-fantasy “RRR”—short for “Rise Roar Revolt”—which is among the highest-grossing Indian movies of all time.


“RRR” was first released last March but caught on with American viewers over the summer, after an unusual U.S.-wide theatrical rerelease organized by the distributor Variance Films and the film consultant Josh Hurtado. The movie hasn’t left U.S. theatres since. A Hindi-dubbed version on Netflix has furthered its word-of-mouth reputation. For many American viewers, “RRR” has provided an introduction not only to Indian cinema but to the Telugu-language film industry sometimes referred to as Tollywood, which operates separately from its more famous Hindi-language counterpart, Bollywood. In January, Rajamouli won Best Director at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards. His film is nominated for an Oscar in the category of Best Original Song, for the international viral hit “Naatu Naatu.”

Set in pre-independence Delhi during the nineteen-twenties, “RRR” follows two characters loosely based on the real-life Telugu revolutionary leaders Komaram Bheem (N. T. Rama Rao, Jr.) and Alluri Sitarama Raju (Ram Charan), as they team up to challenge a host of ruthless British officials. Bheem and Raju exhibit superhuman abilities in the realms of fighting, taming tigers, and conducting spontaneous dance-offs. For many American viewers, their story will come across as an exuberant anti-colonialist tall tale. But some Indian critics have identified a strain of Hindu nationalism in the film’s mythologized telling of Bheem and Raju’s historic freedom fight. They point to the fact that Raju, who belongs to a privileged caste, is ultimately elevated in the narrative above Bheem, a leader of the Gond tribe, who declares himself a humble student of Raju’s teachings. They point to how this story line replicates hierarchical relationships from the Hindu epics the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, which Rajamouli has cited as sources of inspiration, and especially to the film’s patriotic final number, “Etthara Jenda” (“Raise the Flag”), which celebrates certain historic figures favored by the Hindutva movement while leaving out founding fathers such as Mahatma Gandhi. In Vox, the critic Ritesh Babu called the movie a “casteist Hindu wash of history and the independence struggle.”

There are other reasons to wonder about the movie’s political intentions. Rajamouli’s father, who co-wrote “RRR,” has been at work on a film commissioned by the R.S.S., the Hindu-nationalist extremist group, which he has called a “great organization.” Rajamouli told me that his father’s script is “very emotional and extremely good.” But, during several recent interviews over Zoom, Rajamouli denied that “RRR” had any deliberate ideological implications and was persistently evasive on the subject of the country’s politics and his own. “Entertainment is what I provide,” he said. Rajamouli is forty-nine years old, with a swoop of salt-and-pepper curls and a thick beard in a matching shade. (You can spot him in a cameo during “RRR” ’s patriotic finale.) In our conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity, he also discussed atheism, what makes a good action sequence, and some of his creative influences, including Mel Gibson and Ayn Rand.

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 16, 2023 at 8:31am

Telugu film RRR (Rise Roar Revolt)

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/the-new-yorker-interview/the-man-...

Some critics have noted that the movie’s concluding musical number highlights key historic figures like [the controversial anti-colonial freedom fighter] Subhas Chandra Bose and [the Indian-nationalist figurehead] Bhagat Singh but omits others, including Mahatma Gandhi and B. R. Ambedkar, which they interpret as a deliberate avoidance of nonviolent revolutionaries. What would you say to that?

By now, I’m tired of answering this question. There are numerous freedom fighters who laid down their lives to attain liberty for our country. I have heard many stories about these freedom fighters from childhood onward. Whichever stories touched me, made me cry, or made my heart swell with pride—those are the historic figures that I chose for that scene. I could also only highlight eight people in that musical number. I would need room for eighty in order to put all the figures that I respect in the movie. Still, I respect all of the revolutionaries that I chose, and, if I didn’t put Gandhiji’s portrait there, it doesn’t mean I disrespect him. I have huge respect for Gandhiji, no doubt about that.

My question is: If I were to replace Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s portrait with Gandhiji’s, would all these people ever question me, saying that I disrespected Subhas Chandra Bose by not portraying him there?

There has also been some criticism of the “Baahubali” films, and now “RRR,” for replicating what they feel is a Brahmanic view of India, particularly how the Kalakeyas are portrayed in “Baahubali 2: The Conclusion.” There’s been critique, as well, of stereotypes regarding Adivasis, particularly Bheem, who has been described as a “noble savage.” Is that just misattributed anxiety and projection?

Yes. [Laughs.] First of all, the Kalakeyas are a completely fictional people. There’s no such caste or tribe, and there are no real-world rituals like what they do in the movie. People are just projecting the Kalakeyas onto real people and then saying that I presented them in the wrong manner. It just makes me laugh. As for Bheem being a noble savage, I don’t really understand how or where I presented Bheem as savage. Noble, definitely, yes. Like when he fights a tiger, and then addresses the tiger as a brother, and even apologizes to the tiger for using him for his needs. I think Bheem is one of the noblest characters that I have written, but I don’t know where the savage part comes in. I really can’t understand that.

Does it feel like the recent rise of nationalism, as well as anti-Muslim sentiment, has affected the way that movies are made in India?

I don’t know. I don’t think in those terms. I always feel like films reflect the society that created them, whatever that society’s feelings are. Films reflect the pace of society because filmmakers have to cater to audiences. They’ll see what audiences like, what their present mood is, and make films for that. If there is a rise in that kind of sentiment in society, those kinds of films will come out. But I always stay away from that. I go a completely different route.

Right, but isn’t there a danger to freedom of expression when political groups try to affect the creative process you’re talking about?

Yeah, those things will happen and they will keep happening. But, if you are clear about what you are making, and if you are clear about who your audiences are, staying true to that will help you overcome those hurdles in communication. That might not be a proper solution to the problem that you are talking about, though. There is no clear-cut solution, but, if you are true to your filmmaking, you will have a better chance of overcoming these hurdles.

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 16, 2023 at 8:32am

Telugu film RRR (Rise Roar Revolt)

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/the-new-yorker-interview/the-man-...


Is there pressure being put on you, whether anti-Muslim or pro-nationalist, from B.J.P. supporters or even the R.S.S.?

No, never directly, never. No one’s ever approached me to make an agenda film, whatever the agenda is. Still, for a long time, less prominent people sometimes found objections to my films. Sometimes Muslims have had objections, sometimes Hindus, sometimes different castes.

Your father has a story credit on “RRR.” Did he help to shape the movie’s characterizations of Bheem and the Adivasis?

The way we write, me and my father, is we write together. It is very difficult to differentiate who is the story writer and who is the screenplay writer. We split the credit as “Story by V. Vijayendra Prasad” and “Screenplay by S. S. Rajamouli,” but we essentially work together on both. It was my idea to write a fictional story about Komaram Bheem and Alluri Sitarama Raju. Once we settled on that, my father developed ideas on how to tell a story based on those characters.

Your father is working on a scripted drama about the R.S.S. He’s said that his opinion of the R.S.S. changed [favorably] once he started working on this project, after which he “understood for the first time what R.S.S. is.” Have you discussed this project with him?

I, myself, am not too aware of the R.S.S. I have obviously heard of the organization, but I don’t know how it was formed, what their exact beliefs are, how they’ve developed, all that. But I read my father’s script. It is extremely emotional. I cried many times while reading that script, many times. The script’s drama made me cry, but that reaction has got nothing to do with the history part of the story.

Is it hard for you to focus on a script like that as just a drama, and not think of its political implications or associations?

The script that I read is very emotional and extremely good, but I don’t know what it implies about society.

I’m assuming you’re asking me, Would I direct the script that is written by my father? First of all, I don’t know whether that would be possible, because I’m not sure if my father has written this script for some other organization, people, or producer. Still, as for the question, I don’t have a definite answer. I would be honored to direct that story, because it’s such a beautiful, human, emotional drama. But I’m not sure about the script’s implications. I’m not saying that it would cause either a negative or a positive impact. For the first time, I’m not sure.

It’s unusual for a Telugu filmmaker, let alone an Indian filmmaker, to have their name foregrounded. Your name is presented as a seal of quality in front of your movies. Where did that come from? Were you trying to distinguish yourself as a filmmaker in light of the star-driven nature of Telugu and Indian cinema?

[Laughs.] At first, it came from a sense of insecurity, a fear that someone would not give me credit for my films. So when I made my first film, “Student No. 1,” no one knew that I directed it. Credit went to the film’s producer, and rightfully so, because he made lots of decisions. He chose the story, the songs, and everything else. So he rightfully got the credit for my first film and I didn’t.

After that, I came up with the idea of putting a stamp on the posters—and on the film—to say, “Hey, guys, don’t ever think this film is made by someone else.” And at the end of my second film, “Simhadri,” I put a credit that says “A film by S. S. Rajamouli.” The film’s producer didn’t like that. He objected: “What does he mean by ‘A film by S. S. Rajamouli’? It should be a film by the whole unit. How can he take the entire credit for the film?”

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 17, 2023 at 5:21pm

#India is continuing on its path to majoritarian #chauvinism. Narendra #Modi will do everything to ensure a third term in office. #Hindutva #Fascism #Islamophobia #BJP
https://www.economist.com/the-world-ahead/2022/11/18/india-is-conti...

Varanasi, INDIA - MARCH 04: India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets crowds of supporters during a roadshow in support of state elections on March 04, 2022 in Varanasi, India. India's most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, is holding state elections in seven phases, as the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of Modi looks to defend its majority in its "cow belt" heartlands. The election is expected to be a barometer for the national political mood amid deepening sectarian divisions

Narendra modi had a better 2022 than most world leaders. India’s prime minister was projected to end the year as leader of the world’s fastest-growing major economy, with growth close to 7%, in spite of multiple global crises.

Russia’s war in Ukraine plunged Europe into an energy crisis and strained relations among Western allies. In India, by contrast, it facilitated the purchase of cheap Russian oil and lifted Mr Modi’s international standing. As Western countries jostled to gain India’s support, the prime minister succeeded in styling himself as an ostensibly neutral advocate of resolving the conflict peacefully, managing to scold Vladimir Putin while simultaneously resisting Western entreaties to join the anti-Russia coalition for good.

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 23, 2023 at 5:45pm

#BBC says it won't be deterred by #Indian gov't's censorship of #ModiDocumentary and tax raids on its offices. In an email to staff in India, BBC DG Tim Davie applauded reporters' courage in the face of attacks. #Hindutva #Fascism #freespeech #democracy https://www.cnn.com/2023/02/23/media/bbc-india-director-general


The BBC says it will not be “put off” from reporting in India after the government prevented a documentary critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi from airing in the country and raided the broadcaster’s offices.

Indian tax authorities spent three days searching BBC offices in Delhi and Mumbai last week. The raids came nearly a month after the Indian government used emergency powers to ban the two-part documentary “India: The Modi Question.”

In an email to staff in India, BBC director general Tim Davie applauded their courage in the face of what press groups and India’s main opposition Congress party have condemned as an attack on press freedom

“Nothing is more important than our ability to report without fear or favour,” Davie wrote in the email, a copy of which was shared with CNN.

“Our duty to our audiences around the world is to pursue the facts through independent and impartial journalism, and to produce and distribute the very best creative content. We won’t be put off from that task”

Davie added that the BBC “does not have an agenda.”

Indian authorities have accused the BBC of tax evasion. India’s Income Tax Department said it had found “several discrepancies and inconsistencies” in the records of “a prominent international media company.” The BBC said last week that it would “respond appropriately to any direct formal communication received from the Income Tax Department.”

Davie said in his email that the BBC continued to cooperate fully with the Indian tax authorities.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said that the searches had “all the hallmarks of a reprisal,” coming as they did weeks after the Indian government prevented the Modi documentary from airing and blocked clips of it circulating on social media.

The documentary, which broadcast in the United Kingdom in January, criticized the role played by Modi as chief minister of the western state of Gujarat when riots broke out between the state’s majority Hindus and minority Muslims in 2002.

Modi was accused of not doing enough to stop the violence, which killed more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims. Modi has denied wrongdoing, and a special investigation team appointed by India’s Supreme Court in 2012 found no evidence to suggest he was to blame.

The prime minister has been accused of silencing his critics in recent months and on Thursday, a senior member of India’s Congress party was arrested for allegedly insulting Modi.

— Swati Gupta and Manveena Suri in New Delhi, Olesya Dmitracova and Martin Goillandeau in London, and Alex Stambaugh in Hong Kong contributed reporting.

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 2, 2023 at 4:43pm

Interview: India’s exaggerated value and the danger of S Jaishankar’s ‘new world order’ posturing


https://scroll.in/article/1049569/interview-indias-exaggerated-valu...

“the US already has other military partners like Japan and Australia, whereas India doesn’t really have anyone else that can help balance against China. Our value to the US is being partly exaggerated”


Rajesh Rajagopalan, author and professor of International Politics at JNU, says we are living in a bipolar age and it is dangerous for India to think otherwise.
Rohan Venkataramakrishnan
18 hours ago


“I think the economics of the world, the politics of the world, and the demographic of the world is making the world more multipolar.”

“The world is moving towards greater multi-polarity through steady and continuous re-balancing.”

“The Indo-Pacific is at the heart of the multipolarity and rebalancing that characterises contemporary changes.”

“The United States is moving towards greater realism both about itself and the world. It is adjusting to multipolarity and rebalancing and re-examining the balance between its domestic revival and commitments abroad.”

Those are all comments by Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar over the last few years. Indeed, Jaishankar is a big votary of the concept of multipolarity – the idea that the world is not dominated by just one power (the United States), or two (the US and China, just as it was the US and the United Soviet Socialist Republic during the Cold War), but is instead now seeing a global order with a number of powers that are somewhat equally matched in terms of economic and military capacity and influence.

Jaishankar sometimes speaks of the need for establishing a multipolar world. And sometimes his comments seems to suggest the world is already multipolar or will soon be there.



Not everyone agrees. Stephen G Brooks and William C Wohlforth, in a Foreign Affairs article in April , argued that multipolarity is a “myth”.



Brooks and Wolworth argue instead for “partial unipolarity”, in part because Chinese military power remains “regional”.

Rajesh Rajagopalan, professor of International Politics at Jawaharlal Nehru University and author of Second Strike: Arguments about Nuclear War in South Asia, thinks the answer is clearer: We are living in a bipolar age. And it is dangerous for India to think otherwise.

I spoke to Rajagopalan about multipolarity vs bipolarity, why he thinks that Jaishankar describing the world as multipolar is problematic even if it is a purely rhetorical tactic, and what he made of Ashley Tellis’ much discussed piece from earlier this month – with the controversial headline, “America’s Bad Bet on India” – which argues that the US should not expect India to side with it in a military confrontation with China, unless its own security is directly threatened.



To start off, how do you read Jaishankar and India’s articulation of a multipolar world, either as an aspiration or as a reality?

I’ll start with the reality: Of course, it is not [a multipolar world].

There are different ways of defining polarity. Academics by and large look at it as either unipolar world or a transition to a bipolar word. Some argue that the world may be bipolar in the Indo-Pacific region because of China’s power there, but not bipolar in a global systemic sense. Since this is a peaceful period – not marked by war – it’s very hard to identify the boundary between unipolar and bipolar. But my sense as an analyst is that the world is already bipolar, because the way polarity is measured is purely in terms of material capacities, and on this, clearly China has the wealth and the intention.

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 1, 2023 at 10:46am

#Pakistan beats #India 38-18 in #UNESCO vote for executive board vice chair. This also comes at a time when India has been projecting itself as the ‘voice’ of the ‘Global South’ — low- and middle-income countries in #Africa, #Asia and #LatinAmerica.

https://theprint.in/diplomacy/pakistan-beats-india-38-18-at-unesco-...

Islamabad's candidate secured the post of vice-chairperson of the UNESCO executive board. India’s defeat contravenes decades of its diplomatic policy approach to such elections.
KESHAV PADMANABHAN

New Delhi: Pakistan beat India with more than double the votes to secure the post of vice-chair of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) executive board last week. While 38 members of the 58-member executive board voted for Islamabad’s candidate, only 18 voted for New Delhi’s representative, and two countries abstained.


The executive board is one of the three constitutional organs of UNESCO — a specialised agency of the United Nations (UN) aimed at promoting world peace and security through international cooperation in education, sciences, culture, communication and information. The other two are the general conference and the secretariat.


India was elected to the UNESCO executive board in 2021 for a four-year term till 2025. Pakistan was elected earlier this year for a four-year term that will end in 2027.

India’s defeat in this vote contravenes decades of its diplomatic policy approach to such elections. “India’s policy has always been to stand in elections that are winnable. If the election is deemed risky, then full efforts are made to ensure India’s victory,” an individual familiar with the matter told ThePrint.

This also comes at a time when India has been projecting itself as the ‘voice’ of the ‘Global South’ — a term used to refer to low- and middle-income countries located in the Southern Hemisphere, mainly in Africa, Asia and Latin America. While the election was held by secret ballot, that India received only 18 votes suggests that these ‘Global South’ countries may have largely sided with Pakistan, since they form the majority of the board members.

The bureau of the executive board consists of 12 members — the chairperson, six vice-chairpersons and the five chairpersons of the permanent commissions and committees. The key roles played by the bureau include setting the agenda and allocating time for executive board meetings. The vice-chairperson has no decision-making powers.

All members of UNESCO are grouped into six regional electoral groups, and each such group is represented by a vice-chairperson. This latest election won by Pakistan was for the vice-chairperson of Group IV, which includes Australia, Bangladesh, China, Cook Islands, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.

On 24 November, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan had posted on X, stating that Islamabad was elected as vice-chairperson with “overwhelming support”.

India’s permanent representative to the UNESCO is a political appointee, Vishal V. Sharma, a former independent director of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) as well as former officer on special duty to Narendra Modi when he was Gujarat chief minister.

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