When A Pakistani Hindu Visited Delhi’s Jama Masjid

By Shivam Vij

(This article first appeared in HuffingtonPost.in on 26 July 2016.)

 

Jama Masjid

On a hot summer afternoon in Delhi, my Pakistani Hindu friend was visiting the Jama Masjid. After all, he had come to tour Delhi. In the evening, we met in a restaurant in Connaught Place.

He was staying with a relative in Mehrauli, where the (Indian, Hindu) neighbour told him not to cross the road. “Muslims live there,” the neighbour warned. That was funny, because our visitor lived in Pakistan, where no roads could be crossed without meeting Muslims. Continue reading “When A Pakistani Hindu Visited Delhi’s Jama Masjid”

Why Pakistan Exports More Mangoes Than India

(First published in HuffPost India in April 2017.)

It’s that time of the year again when Pakistani mango nationalists start beating the war drums, raising their claims of mango superiority to decibel levels that cross the noise pollution mark.

The campaign has begun. It’s not even May yet. Lies, damned lies and statistics are being used to suggest Pakistani mangoes are better. Looking for foreign approval as always, Pakistanis are tom-tomming export figures that show Pakistan exports more mangoes than India, even though India produces a lot more of them. Continue reading “Why Pakistan Exports More Mangoes Than India”

Why The BJP Can’t Pretend Bihar Isn’t A Turning Point

(First published in HuffPo, 16 November 2015.)

Home minister Rajnath Singh, himself a former president of the Bharatiya Janata Party, has this to say on the BJP’s resounding defeat in Bihar: “Victory and defeat are part of the democratic process. We had won elections in the past, we had lost elections in the past. We will not do justice to future if we decide future only on the basis of one elections.”

The top leadership of the BJP is playing down the Bihar defeat. The opponents came together, they say. We lost to their caste arithmetic. It’s just one election. We still got a good vote-share. Continue reading “Why The BJP Can’t Pretend Bihar Isn’t A Turning Point”

Modi Has A One-Point Economic Agenda And It’s Succeeding

By Shivam Vij

[This article first appeared in HuffPost India on 12 October 2017.]

In October 2015, a little over a year after Narendra Modi became prime minister, the price of pulses suddenly saw a sharp increase. It was, as it often is, election season. Narendra Modi had staked his own persona in the high-pitched battle for Bihar. Lalu Yadav’s supporters came up with a biting slogan: Arhar Modi, a pun on Har Har ModiGhar Ghar Modi – the slogan for the PM’s Lok Sabha campaign in Varanasi. Continue reading “Modi Has A One-Point Economic Agenda And It’s Succeeding”

Why Demonetisation’s Failure Didn’t Benefit The Opposition

[This article first appeared in HuffPost India on 2 September 2017.]

It is easy to give post-facto explanations for anything. The Delhi commentariat consensus is that demonetisation’s real intention was political — in other words, the Modi government knew the economic disaster it would beget. Secondly, we are told demonetisation helped the BJP win the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. Continue reading “Why Demonetisation’s Failure Didn’t Benefit The Opposition”

Kashmir is a prison with three walls

(First published in HuffPost India on 5 May 2017.)

File:Kashmir region 2004.jpg

‘Every nationalist is capable of the most flagrant dishonesty.’ — George Orwell Continue reading “Kashmir is a prison with three walls”

In UP, The Akhilesh Yadav Campaign Is Losing Steam

[This article first appeared in HuffPost India on 22 February 2017]

ALLAHABAD: Elections are those strange things in which no claim should be taken lightly. One of those claims could capture public imagination, metamorphosing into reality. The perception is the truth.

In UP’s month-long election, there’s a round of polling every fourth day. Every fourth day, the key players have an opportunity to alter the perception for the next four days. The Jat desertion of the BJP in the state’s western corners helped create the perception that the BJP was a weak force. Continue reading “In UP, The Akhilesh Yadav Campaign Is Losing Steam”

In Bellwether Kasganj, Caste Equations Are Firmly With One Party

[First published in HuffPost India on 7 February 2017.]

In Kasganj, the election ‘hawa’ became clear the moment it became clear who the candidates are.

The Bhartiya Janata Party’s candidate is a Lodh, Devendra Singh Rajput. The Bahujan Samaj Party’s candidate is Ajay Chaturvedi, a Brahmin. The Samajwadi Party candidate is a Muslim, Hasrat Ullah Sherwani.

If you ask them, they will all say they are getting votes from all castes and communities. “Saaton jatiyon ka vote mil raha hain,” is a refrain you hear often, the metaphorical reference to seven castes a reminder that this is a mathematical exercise.

Not just politicians and journalists, even ordinary voters seem to know the caste maths of Kasganj, though the figures get changed in travelling by word of mouth.

Depending on who you ask, Kasganj has 16,000 Brahmin voters or 42,000. There is similar confusion about other castes. The only matter of absolute unanimity is that Lodhs are the largest in number.

Here’s a rough caste breakup of the voters from local journalists who insisted these are the real numbers, not politically motivated ones: Continue reading “In Bellwether Kasganj, Caste Equations Are Firmly With One Party”

10 Raghuram Rajan Comments That Made Modi Government Squirm

[This article first appeared in HuffPost India on 23 January 2017.]

When Raghuram Rajan took over as RBI governor amidst a gloomy economy in 2013, The Economic Times showed him as James Bond in a graphic. The headline read, “The man who predicted world’s future set out to correct India’s present.” Continue reading “10 Raghuram Rajan Comments That Made Modi Government Squirm”

How Bezwada Wilson Liberated Lakhs Of Manual Scavengers In India

By Shivam Vij

(First published in HuffPost India, 27 June 2016.)

Since the Indian Parliament outlawed manual scavenging in 1993, the very existence of a dry latrine became illegal. Bezwada Wilson’s Safai Karmachari Andolan would take a crowd of former manual scavengers, mostly women, to demolish dry latrines wherever they could find them. On one occasion, they even did it inside a court complex!

The resulting hullabaloo around the demolition would help Wilson spread awareness about the law against manual scavenging. This is just one of many ways in which Wilson has brought down the numbers of manual scavenging from lakhs to a few thousand. Continue reading “How Bezwada Wilson Liberated Lakhs Of Manual Scavengers In India”