China and India are dangerously close to military conflict in the Himalayas

The Washington Post reports: As nuclear posturing between North Korea and the United States rivets the world, a quieter conflict between India and China is playing out on a remote Himalayan ridge — with stakes just as high.

For the past two months, Indian and Chinese troops have faced off on a plateau in the Himalayas in tense proximity, in a dispute prompted by moves by the Chinese military to build a road into territory claimed by India’s close ally, Bhutan.

India has suggested that both sides withdraw, and its foreign minister said in Parliament that the dispute can be resolved only by dialogue.

Yet China has vociferously defended the right it claims to build a road in the Doklam area, territory it also claims.

Since the dispute began, the Chinese Foreign Ministry has issued an angry stream of almost daily denunciations of India and its “illegal trespass” and “recklessness,” along with demands that New Delhi withdraw its troops “if it cherishes peace.”

Incursions and scuffles between the two countries have long occurred along India and China’s 2,220-mile border — much of which remains in dispute — although the two militaries have not fired shots at each other in half a century.

Analysts say that this most recent dispute is more worrisome because it comes as relations between the two nuclear-armed powers are declining, with China framing the issue as a direct threat to its territorial integrity. For the first time, such a conflict involves a third country — the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. [Continue reading…]

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Extreme heat will hit India’s most vulnerable the hardest

Climate Central reports: A flurry of studies in recent months have laid bare the significant threat posed by extreme heat in a warming world. Perhaps nowhere is this threat more apparent than in India and other parts of South Asia, where intense heat waves collide with a large, vulnerable population.

If greenhouse gas emissions aren’t brought under control, global warming will boost heat waves in the region to the limits of what humans can endure on a yearly basis, a new study finds. But if action is taken to curb climate change the threat could be substantially reduced.

The expected future impacts also raise important questions of environmental justice, as the population that will be most impacted by extreme heat has contributed the least to climate change. It also highlights the contradiction between India’s reliance on coal to fuel its economic boom and the impacts its citizens might see. [Continue reading…]

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How India and China have come to the brink of conflict over a remote mountain pass

The New York Times reports: On a remote pass through Himalayan peaks, China and India, two nuclear-armed nations, have come near the brink of conflict over an unpaved road. It is one of the worst border disputes between the regional rivals in more than 30 years.

The road stands on territory at the point where China, India and Bhutan meet. The standoff began last month when Bhutan, a close ally of India, discovered Chinese workers trying to extend the road. India responded by sending troops and equipment to halt the construction. China, the more powerful of the two, angrily denounced the move and demanded that India pull back.

Now soldiers from the two powers are squaring off, separated by only a few hundred feet.

The conflict shows no sign of abating, and it reflects the swelling ambition — and nationalism — of both countries. Each is governed by a muscular leader eager to bolster his domestic standing while asserting his country’s place on the world stage as the United States recedes from a leading role.

Jeff M. Smith, a scholar at the American Foreign Policy Council who studies Indian-Chinese relations, said a negotiated settlement was the likeliest outcome. But asked whether he thought the standoff could spiral into war, he said, “Yes I do — and I don’t say that lightly.” [Continue reading…]

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India’s turn toward intolerance

In an editorial, the New York Times says: Narendra Modi’s landslide victory as prime minister of India in 2014 was borne on his promises to unleash his country’s economic potential and build a bright future while he played down the Hindu nationalist roots of his Bharatiya Janata Party.

But, under Mr. Modi’s leadership, growth has slowed, jobs have not materialized, and what has actually been unleashed is virulent intolerance that threatens the foundation of the secular nation envisioned by its founders.

Since Mr. Modi took office, there has been an alarming rise in mob attacks against people accused of eating beef or abusing cows, an animal held sacred to Hindus. Most of those killed have been Muslims. Mr. Modi spoke out against the killings only last month, not long after his government banned the sale of cows for slaughter, a move suspended by India’s Supreme Court. The ban, enforcing cultural stigma, would have fallen hardest on Muslims and low-caste Hindus traditionally engaged in the meat and leather industry.

It would also have struck a blow against Mr. Modi’s supposed priorities: employment, economic growth and boosting exports. The $16 billion industry employs millions of workers and generated $4 billion in export income last year.

More disturbing was his party’s decision to name Yogi Adityanath, a Hindu warrior-priest, as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, and a springboard to national leadership. Mr. Adityanath has called India’s Muslims “a crop of two-legged animals that has to be stopped” and cried at one rally, “We are all preparing for religious war!” [Continue reading…]

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India just planted over 60 million trees in 12 hours to meet its Paris climate accord commitments

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China, India become climate leaders as West falters

Climate Central reports: Less than two years after world leaders signed off on a historic United Nations climate treaty in Paris in late 2015, and following three years of record-setting heat worldwide, climate policies are advancing in developing countries but stalling or regressing in richer ones.

In the Western hemisphere, where centuries of polluting fossil fuel use have created comfortable lifestyles, the fight against warming has faltered largely due to the rise of far-right political groups and nationalist movements. As numerous rich countries have foundered, India and China have emerged as global leaders in tackling global warming.

Nowhere is backtracking more apparent than in the U.S., where President Trump is moving swiftly to dismantle environmental protections and reverse President Obama’s push for domestic and global solutions to global warming.

The U.S. isn’t alone in its regression. European lawmakers are balking at far-reaching measures to tackle climate change. Australian climate policy is in tatters. International efforts to slow deforestation in tropical countries are failing. [Continue reading…]

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Coal in ‘freefall’ as new power plants dive by two-thirds

The Guardian reports: The amount of new coal power being built around the world fell by nearly two-thirds last year, prompting campaigners to claim the polluting fossil fuel was in freefall.

The dramatic decline in new coal-fired units was overwhelmingly due to policy shifts in China and India and subsequent declining investment prospects, according to a report by Greenpeace, the US-based Sierra Club and research network CoalSwarm.

The report said the amount of new capacity starting construction was down 62% in 2016 on the year before, and work was frozen at more than a hundred sites in China and India. In January, China’s energy regulator halted work on a further 100 new coal-fired projects, suggesting the trend was not going away. [Continue reading…]

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‘I appeal to all the parents in India not to send their children’ to the U.S., distraught father says after shooting

The Washington Post reports: Family members of the Indian men shot at an Olathe, Kan., bar Wednesday in a possible hate crime said they feared that an atmosphere of fear and xenophobia in the United States means the country is not a safe place for Indians, with one Indian father exhorting parents not to send their children there.

“There is a kind of hysteria spreading that is not good because so many of our beloved children live there,” said Venu Madhav, a relative of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, the young software engineer fatally shot Wednesday night. “Such hatred is not good for people.” [Continue reading…]

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Donald Trump’s plan to boost the Indian economy

As the Trump administration seems inclined to gut the H-1B visa program, the Washington Post reports: The H-1B program provides American companies with cheap, temporary contractors who often work longer hours than Americans and take on the monotonous programming jobs Americans scorn. Proponents of the program argue that foreign workers increase innovation at American companies as well as contribute to local economies. A few Indians who came on work visas have even gone on to become heads of important American companies.

Meanwhile, India’s growth as a global tech hub has been hampered as tens of thousands of workers have left.

Over the past decade, though, cities like Hyderabad and Bangalore have slowly but surely gained prominence. At first, Hyderabad was mostly a base for outsourcing companies servicing American clients, but now it is home to the biggest offices of Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook outside the United States. Amazon, Dell, Uber and others have major operations there. All have huge campuses in a part of the city officially known as Cyberabad.

Cyberabad’s existence is the result of investments in education and infrastructure made by N. Chandrababu Naidu, the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, where Hyderabad was located until the state was bifurcated in 2014. A network of dozens of information-technology institutes trained a generation of engineers and software developers to work back-end jobs for American companies.

For that generation, getting an H-1B was the holy grail. Even though the work in America could be dull, being there provided a chance to engage with an invigorating culture of innovation that just wasn’t present in India yet. And of course, working abroad meant a huge increase in income and prestige.

But the H-1B cap meant that the bulk of Indian tech workers stayed back. The current cap — not just from India — is 65,000, plus another 20,000 who have graduated from American universities with advanced degrees, down from almost double that at the beginning of the 2000s.

Among those who do get the visas, most ultimately return to settle and work in India. In Hyderabad, many of those returnees are confident that their city can compete with Silicon Valley for India’s brightest young minds.

K.T. Rama Rao, the son of the current chief minister, was one of them. Now he’s the minister for information technology in his father’s government. He pointed to Apple as an example of how Hyderabad could absorb the thousands of workers in a potential future with far fewer H-1Bs — or without them altogether.

“Apple is already moving their maps division here, and they’re doing that because we’re producing more G.I.S. talent than anyone else in the world,” he claimed in an interview, referring to geographic information systems. “Ideally, a president of the United States would have a balanced perspective on business, but if he wants tech firms to stay, he should create better job readiness in the U.S.”

Rao said that legislation targeting big Indian outsourcing companies would wean them away from their dependency on servicing American companies. Without the visa program, they would have to engage in new lines of work that created value in Hyderabad and not abroad, he said. [Continue reading…]

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U.S. urges India and Pakistan to refrain from making nuclear threats

Dawn reports: The United States reminded India and Pakistan on Thursday that nuclear capable states do not threaten to use atomic weapons in any conflict.

The US government also categorically said that it considered the Sept 18 attack on an Indian military facility in Uri a terrorist attack.

The warning to avoid a nuclear conflict followed reports in the international media that both Indian and Pakistani governments had intensified their rhetoric and hinted at the possibility of nuclear military actions against each other.

“Nuclear-capable states have the responsibility to exercise restraint regarding nuclear weapons and missile capabilities,” a spokesperson for the US State Department told Dawn when asked to comment on these reports. [Continue reading…]

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Unmasking Narendra Modi: The man who has replaced Gandhi as the face of India

Narendra-Modi

Siddhartha Deb writes: Vivekananda was a remarkable, complex figure, introducing his distinct, modernized version of yoga and neo-Hinduism to the United States. But if his legacy in the West was to be yoga, in India it would morph — helped, no doubt by his early death at 39 — into a muscular Hindu nationalism centered around the idea that Hindus needed to become more aggressive in challenging both Islam and the West. He became a symbol of the Hindu warrior monk who had gone into the West to conquer it for Hinduism, an idea embodied loudly by Modi in his own self-presentation, especially in the cross-armed pose and saffron turban he affected. And just as Vivekananda, in this populist version, took the battle to the West, so did Modi when he arrived at Madison Square Garden.

In India, it took an organization and the onset of race-based nationalism in the early twentieth century to give Vivekananda’s vision a more sinister touch and ultimately connect it to Modi. Founded in 1925 in the central Indian city of Nagpur, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the National Volunteer Organization, took Vivekananda’s ideas of Hindu revival a step further, combining them with racial theories popular in the West and drawing inspiration from the Italian Fascists and the Nazis. M.S. Golwalkar, who became the chief of the RSS in 1940, wrote approvingly of Germany’s “purging the country of the Semitic Races — the Jews,” and urged Hindus to manifest a similar “Race Spirit” with Muslims. After India became independent in 1947, Nathuram Godse, a former member of the RSS, assassinated Gandhi for being too conciliatory toward Muslims and Pakistan. The RSS was banned briefly, but this was a blip in its steady expansion from its base in the Western state of Maharashtra into neighboring Gujarat, Modi’s home state, and beyond.

The RSS was known for its secretive, cultlike tendencies; it kept no written fundraising records, and produced a constitution only in 1949 as a condition for the lifting of its ban. It stayed away from anticolonial politics under the British and maintained a distance from electoral politics in the decades following independence. It focused, instead, on the ideal of an upper-caste Hindu society within an unabashedly upper-caste, patriarchal Hindu nation. It recruited boys between the ages of six and 18, using doctrinaire lectures and a routine of paramilitary drills to mold their Hindu “Race Spirit,” while its adult members were unleashed as shock troops in riots against Muslims. It maintained links with Hindu-right political parties and Congress leaders favorably inclined to its sectarian idea of India, but avoided direct involvement in parliamentary politics, calling itself a social organization rather than a political one.

This was the organization — disciplined, secretive, tainted by its association with Gandhi’s assassination and its role in sectarian riots — that Modi joined in 1958 as an eight-year-old in the provincial Gujarati town of Vadnagar. He was the third of six children, from a family that ran a tea shop at the railway station to supplement its income from pressing and selling cooking oil. Leaving home as a teenager, Modi wandered the country, possibly to escape living with the wife who had been chosen for him in an arranged marriage at an early age—ironically, just the sort of social practice defended by the Hindu right, despite legislative attempts to make marriage and divorce more equitable, especially for Hindu women — and from whom he remains estranged. He returned after a couple of years to the Gujarati city of Ahmedabad, where he briefly ran a tea stall before joining the RSS full-time. Modi soon completed the RSS’s one-month officer-training program and became a pracharak, or organizer.

One can see the attractions of the RSS for a young man like Modi, filled with ambition and intelligence but without much education or opportunity. Its warrior-monk structure would offer upward mobility and power even as its cultish ideology stoked a sense of humiliation about the place of India in the world, and of Hindus within India. [Continue reading…]

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Dilip Hiro: Flashpoint for the planet

Once upon a time, if a war was going to destroy your world, it had to take place in your world. The soldiers had to land, the planes had to fly overhead, the ships had to be off the coast. No longer. Nuclear war changed that equation forever and not just because nuclear weapons could be delivered from a great distance by missile. To use a term that has become commonplace in our world when discussing commerce, the prospect of nuclear conflict has globalized war and it’s a nightmare of the first order.

In the post-Cold War world, Exhibit A in that process would certainly be the unnerving potential for a nuclear war to break out between India and Pakistan. As TomDispatch regular Dilip Hiro, author most recently of The Age of Aspiration: Money, Power, and Conflict in Globalizing India, makes clear today, there is no place on the planet where a nuclear war is more imaginable. After all, those two South Asian countries have been to war with each other or on the verge of it again and again since they were split apart in 1947.

Of course, a major nuclear war between them would result in an unimaginable catastrophe in South Asia itself, with casualties estimated at up to 20 million dead from bomb blasts, fire, and the effects of radiation on the human body. And that, unfortunately, would only be the beginning. As Alan Robock and Owen Brian Toon wrote in Scientific American back in 2009, when the Indian and Pakistani arsenals were significantly smaller than they are today, any major nuclear conflagration in the region could hardly be confined to South Asia. The smoke and particulates thrown into the atmosphere from those weapons would undoubtedly bring on some version of a global “nuclear winter,” whose effects could last for at least 10 years, causing crop shortfalls and failures across the planet. The cooling and diminished sunlight (along with a loss of rainfall) would shorten growing seasons in planetary breadbaskets and produce “killing frosts in summer,” triggering declines in crop yields across the planet. Robock and Toon estimate that “around one billion people worldwide who now live on marginal food supplies would be directly threatened with starvation by a nuclear war between India and Pakistan.”

To say the least, it’s a daunting prospect at the very moment when the Obama White House has just ended the president’s final Nuclear Security Summit with fears rising that Pakistan’s new generation of small, front-line tactical nuclear weapons are “highly vulnerable to theft or misuse.” Hiro, an expert on the South Asian region, suggests just why a nuclear war is all too conceivable there and would be a catastrophe for us all. Tom Engelhardt

The most dangerous place on Earth
A nuclear Armageddon in the making in South Asia
By Dilip Hiro

Undoubtedly, for nearly two decades, the most dangerous place on Earth has been the Indian-Pakistani border in Kashmir. It’s possible that a small spark from artillery and rocket exchanges across that border might — given the known military doctrines of the two nuclear-armed neighbors — lead inexorably to an all-out nuclear conflagration.  In that case the result would be catastrophic. Besides causing the deaths of millions of Indians and Pakistanis, such a war might bring on “nuclear winter” on a planetary scale, leading to levels of suffering and death that would be beyond our comprehension.

Alarmingly, the nuclear competition between India and Pakistan has now entered a spine-chilling phase. That danger stems from Islamabad’s decision to deploy low-yield tactical nuclear arms at its forward operating military bases along its entire frontier with India to deter possible aggression by tank-led invading forces. Most ominously, the decision to fire such a nuclear-armed missile with a range of 35 to 60 miles is to rest with local commanders. This is a perilous departure from the universal practice of investing such authority in the highest official of the nation. Such a situation has no parallel in the Washington-Moscow nuclear arms race of the Cold War era.

[Read more…]

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Pankaj Mishra on Arundhati Roy: Hindu nationalists ​have many ways to silence writers

Pankaj Mishra writes: he governments of Egypt and Turkey are brazenly leading a multi-pronged assault on writers, artists and intellectuals. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last month denounced his critics among Turkish academics as treasonous fifth columnists of foreign powers; many of them have been subsequently dismissed and suspended. Both Turkey and Egypt have imprisoned journalists, provoking international protests. But the suppression of intellectual and creative freedoms is assuming much cannier forms in India, a country with formal and apparently free democratic institutions.

Controlled by upper-caste Hindu nationalists, Indian universities have been purging “anti-nationals” from both syllabuses and campuses for some months now. In a shocking turn of events last month, Rohith Vemula, a PhD student in Hyderabad, killed himself. Accused of “anti-national” political opinions, the impoverished research scholar, who belonged to one of India’s traditionally and cruelly disadvantaged castes, was suspended, and, after his fellowship was cancelled, expelled from student housing. Letters from Modi’s government in Delhi to university authorities revealed that the latter were under relentless pressure to move against “extremist and anti-national politics” on campus. Vemula’s heartbreaking suicide note attests to the near-total isolation and despair of a gifted writer and thinker.

The extended family of upper-caste nationalists plainly aim at total domination of the public sphere. But they don’t only use the bullying power of the leviathan state – one quickly identified by local and foreign critics – to grind down their apparent enemies. They pursue them through police cases and legal petitions by private individuals – a number of criminal complaints have been filed against writers and artists in India. They create a climate of impunity, in which emboldened mobs ransack newspapers offices, art galleries and cinemas. [Continue reading…]

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Electrifying India, with solar power and small loans

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The New York Times reports: A few years ago, the hundred or so residents of Paradeshappanamatha, a secluded hamlet in the southern Indian state of Karnataka, gathered along the central pathway between their 22 densely clustered homes, and watched as government workers hoisted a solar-powered streetlamp. As the first display of electricity in the town, it was an object of mild interest, but, being outside, the light didn’t help anyone cook or study, and only attracted moths.

Still, when B. Prasad arrived two years later to encourage people here to abandon kerosene lighting for solar-powered home systems, people had some idea what he was talking about. What sounded preposterous to the village residents was the price. Mr. Prasad, an agent for Solar Electric Light Company, or Selco, was selling a panel and battery that would power three lights and an attached socket for phone charging for approximately 12,800 rupees, or $192.

“There was no way we could afford that,” P. C. Kalayya remembers thinking. He and his neighbors rise early in the morning to walk miles along a nearly impassable dirt road to work on coffee, pepper and betel nut plantations. Mr. Kalayya earns $3 a day — he’d been earning $2.25 until a raise came through this year — and half his wage is withheld by his employer as repayment for various loans.

And yet, despite what seemed on its face an impossibly high cost, Selco agents succeeded in persuading Mr. Kalayya and 10 other village households to make the switch. Now, his wife can better see how much spice she is putting in as she cooks, and Pratima, their 18-year-old daughter, can study long after dark.

The idea behind Selco, and other companies like it, is to create a business model that will help some of the 1.2 billion people in the world who don’t have electricity to leapfrog the coal-dependent grid straight to renewable energy sources.

About a quarter of the world’s off-the-grid people, or 300 million or so, live in India, mostly in remote, rural communities like Paradeshappanamatha, or in informal urban settlements. Hundreds of millions more get electricity for only a few hours a day. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has pledged to achieve universal electrification in India by the end of 2022. His main effort is adding hundreds of new coal plants, which have contributed to near-apocalyptic pollution levels across large swaths of the country. [Continue reading…]

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Why India’s plan to fight climate change doesn’t hold water

By Steffen Böhm, University of Essex; Sanjay Lanka, University of Essex, and Zareen Pervez Bharucha, University of Essex

As the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases globally, the pressure is on India to offer something meaningful at the Paris climate talks. Yet the country demands the right to develop and lift its population out of poverty.

In its official submission to the summit, the so-called INDC (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) which every country had to provide before negotiations began, India pledges to reduce the emissions intensity of GDP by 33 to 35% by 2030 based on 2005 levels. It proposes to achieve this by investing significantly in low-carbon technologies. But do these numbers stack up?

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi addresses the Paris talks.
Guillaume Horcajuelo/EPA

It may have the third highest greenhouse gas emissions on the planet, but India’s emissions per person are much lower than those of all so-called developed countries. This is why stakeholders insist on India’s right to develop.

[Read more…]

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India’s war on Greenpeace

The New York Times reports: Greenpeace India said in a statement on Friday that its permit to operate in India had been revoked on the grounds that it had falsified financial documents, the latest in a series of government actions taken against the environmental organization.

The move against the group is one of many “clumsy tactics to suppress free speech and dissenting voices” by the government, Vinuta Gopal, the interim executive director of Greenpeace India, said in the statement.

The organization will fight the authorities’ cancellation of the permit in court, she said in a telephone interview. [Continue reading…]

Samanth Subramanian wrote in August: After deciding not to sleep at all before her 6.50am flight out of Delhi, Priya Pillai felt slow and drowsy as she handed her passport over the immigration counter. It was a few hours past midnight on 11 January 2015; Pillai, a campaigner with Greenpeace India, knew that two full weeks of work awaited her in London. At check-in, she had secured an aisle seat, which made her happy. Now, as the official scanned her passport, Pillai sent idle texts to a colleague in Boston and pondered a plan to visit a friend in the north of England for the weekend.

Behind the counter, the official reached for a square of paper and began taking notes. His name was VK Ojha, Pillai remembers, and he looked fresh and alert. He had a neat moustache and wore a white shirt and navy blue trousers. Minutes went by, and Ojha scribbled on.

“Is there a problem?” Pillai asked.

“Yes, ma’am. Please wait here.”

Ojha vanished. From the next counter, a curious official asked for Pillai’s name and, after typing it into his computer, said: “Greenpeace?” Pillai nodded. When Ojha returned, he led Pillai to an office run by the immigration authority. There, he asked Pillai for her passport and told her – most politely, Pillai remembers – that she couldn’t leave the country.

Pillai is a voluble person, and she spent the next four hours demanding explanations from immigration officials. She got none. When an Air India employee came by, he was asked to take Pillai’s luggage off the plane, which terrified her. She thought: “They’ll put drugs in my bags, and they’ll say: ‘This is why we’re arresting you.’”

Pillai was sure that the state was not beyond framing her. Since 2010, she had been part of a Greenpeace group that was protesting the government’s decision to commission new coal mines in the woods of Mahan in central India. She was travelling to London, in fact, to talk to an informal group of British MPs about Mahan and about Essar Energy, an Indian power and fossil fuel giant incorporated in the UK in 2009 and listed briefly on the London Stock Exchange. Essar Energy was one of two companies licensed to mine in Mahan; Greenpeace argued that the filthy process of mining coal would pulverise acres of forest and displace thousands who lived in the area.

The government took a dim view of these protests. Some of Pillai’s colleagues had been arrested in Mahan on flimsy charges that never stuck. Police and intelligence agencies monitored the activists closely; Pillai was sure they were aware of her London trip. “I know my phone has been tapped for years,” she said. “I’ve had experiences [such as] getting on to a train from Delhi to go to Mahan, and even the people there don’t know I’m coming, but the police or the local intelligence people there will call these people in Mahan and say: ‘Priya’s coming, right?’ I’ve had bureaucrats tell me: ‘You should be careful. You’re under surveillance.’” [Continue reading…]

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Senior diplomat for Saudi Arabia accused of raping servants in Delhi

The Guardian reports: Authorities in India have asked the Saudi Arabian ambassador in Delhi to cooperate in an ongoing police investigation into charges that one of the kingdom’s senior diplomats in the city repeatedly raped and abused two domestic servants who were held captive in his luxury apartment.

Earlier this week police raided the diplomat’s residence in the satellite town of Gurgaon where, they have told reporters, they found two Nepali women employed as maids. The police later opened an inquiry into allegations made by the two women that they had been held against their will, denied food and water, beaten, and repeatedly raped by up to seven men at a time over a period of several weeks. Investigators now want to interview the main accused who has reportedly taken refuge in the Saudi embassy.

Vikas Swarup, an Indian government spokesperson, said: “[The Ministry of External Affairs] called in [the] Saudi ambassador and conveyed the request of [the] police for cooperation of the embassy in the case of two Nepali citizens.”

The Saudi Arabian embassy has issued a statement denying all the allegations, describing them as “completely baseless”, and has lodged an official complaint about the raid on the apartment which it says was a breach of diplomatic privilege.

On Thursday, demonstrators gathered outside the Saudi embassy shouting slogans calling for the prosecution of the diplomat.

Leaked details of medical assessments of the two women published in local media in India – which appear to corroborate the allegations of abuse – will increase the pressure on Indian authorities to continue the inquiry, despite the diplomatic damage to relations with Saudi Arabia. [Continue reading…]

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