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On Monday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Ram temple in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, marking a triumph for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and far-right Hindu groups including the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The temple was built on the site of the Babri Masjid, a 16th-century mosque illegally destroyed by 150,000 Hindu extremists in 1992, in a campaign which incited communal violence across the country. 

In a 1994 book, NILANJAN MUKHOPADHYAY examines the political actors involved in the temple campaign and the 1992 demolition. 

From the text:

“The manifold growth of the BJP in 1989 stemmed from two factors. First, by shrewdly aligning itself with the anti-Congress opposition parties, and sensing that the Indian electorate was keen to jettison the Congress if a viable alternative appeared in the offing. Second, the BJP also reaped the benefits of the Vishva Hindu Parishad’s (VHP) Ram temple agitation. It projected itself as the only political party that considered the temple agitation to be a legitimate one, and a right one at that, to undo the ‘historical wrong.’ The BJP was also aided in its rise to the pivotal position by the inability of other non-Congress parties to assess the ultimate plan of the BJP. This was evident in the manner in which non-Congress opposition parties forged alliances with the BJP, solely to defeat the Congress and paid scant regard to what the BJP could gain from such alliances. This included the communists, who forged indirect political alliances with the BJP, in the general elections of 1989 and in the elections for state assembly in Haryana in 1987. The BJP’s new thrust began in 1986, when Advani was elected president. Shrewdly, the BJP did not get directly embroiled in the VHP agitation. Instead, the party waited for the agitation to gain momentum, and when the political developments started snowballing towards a crisis, the BJP cleverly played the ‘temple card’ and reaped electoral benefits from the supporters of the temple agitation. From the time the VHP launched its temple agitation and started its campaign, the BJP had virtually two machineries at its disposal: its own cadre drawn from the RSS fold, and the neo-converts to the VHP fold.” 

+  “The VHP’s case is based on false history.” AG Noorani in 1989. Link. And see Noorani’s two-volume The Babri Masjid Question 1528-2003, an extensivedocumentation of the political and legal battles around the mosque. Link

+  “One of the most sinister features of the recent Hindutva movement has been the foregrounding of the militantly communal Hindu woman.” Tanika Sarkar in 1991 on the RSS women’s wing. Link. And Sudha Pai on caste and communal violence in Uttar Pradesh after 1992. Link

+  “A high court in independent India, swearing by the lofty ideals of the Constitution, relies on the ‘faith and belief of the Hindus’ to decide a property dispute, thereby retrogressing to pre-modernity.” Anand Teltumbde on the 2010 Supreme Court decision. Link. And a recent op-ed by Ashoka Mody on the decline of secularism. Link


Armed Conflict and Deforestation

TATIANA CANTILLO is a postgraduate researcher at the Land, Environment, Economics and Policy Institute in the University of Exeter. A recent paper co-authored with Nestor Garza studies the impact of the Colombian internal armed conflict on local development processes and deforestation during the 21st century.

From the introduction:

“The existing literature does not offer a consensus on the direction of the relationship between armed conflict and deforestation dynamics. Some authors have found that higher conflict intensity is linked to higher deforestation, whilst others have found that the armed conflict has slowed down deforestation. These contradicting results are due to differences in armed groups’ strategies within different spatial and temporal scales. However, to the best of our knowledge, the explicit (theoretically supported) mechanisms by which armed conflict and deforestation change over time and space have not been determined. That is why we develop a novel spatiotemporal theoretical and empirical framework of deforestation determinants in the context of an armed conflict, which we then test using dynamic spatial econometrics.”

+ + +

+   “The good old days of high economic growth, low inflation, low interest rates, and low exchange rates were over; they had always depended on massive foreign capital inflows.” New on PW, Özgür Orhangazi on the roots of Turkey’s economic crisis. Link

+   “Rather than a basic provision from the state, welfare provisions are marketed and advertised as a benevolent gift from the BJP government, indeed as the beneficence of Modi himself.” New on the Polycrisis, Tim Sahay speaks to Ravinder Kaur about Hindu nationalism and the BJP’s branding campaigns. Link

+   In a new JFI report, Jack Landry analyzes the anti-poverty impacts of Congress’s new proposal for an expanded child tax credit. Link

+   “Globalization of arms production has not led to a convergence of national defense industries into a liberal-market model.” Chonghyun Choi on the South Korean defense industry. Link.

+   Zhun Xu on the characteristics of land transfer and the current state of farmland concentration in rural China. Link.

+   Sebastian Diessner on central bank losses and monetary-fiscal coordination in Europe and Japan. Link

+   “The new labour codes are an addition to the series of ‘reforms by stealth’ carried out by the government, to enhance flexibility in the labour market in the guise of promoting employment.” Adwitiya Mishra and Aasheerwad Dwivedi on India’s labor reforms. Link. And see Chirayu Jain’s PW essay on the subject. Link

+   Margaret Myers, Ángel Melguizo, and Yifang Wang on minerals, metals, and changes in Chinese foreign direct investment in Latin America. Link. And see Juan Pablo Spinetto in Bloomberg on China’s Latin America strategy. Link

+   “It is clear from our study that the official history writing and commemorative practices in Iran have not focussed on the World War I famine, nor on other severe famines. Despite its casualties being counted in the millions, other dramatic events have overshadowed the Great Persian Famine (GPF). The Islamic Revolution of 1979 was a watershed when it comes to how Iran’s official history has been narrated and which traumas of the past have been recognised and commemorated. While official memorialisation had a vastly different focus before and after the revolution, the GPF was written out of official history during both periods. In the pre-revolution period, powerholders had an interest in maintaining good relations with the former imperial powers, who had been instrumental in causing the GPF.” By Zahra Edalati. Link.

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