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Art imitates life, but politics quash both in India and Pakistan.

Luisa Vieira

Art imitates life, but politics quash both in India and Pakistan

As the hit 2022 film “The Legend of Maula Jatt”, the best-performing movie in Pakistan’s history, was set to be released in one of the world’s largest movie-watching markets last weekend, it was abruptly canceled. No official reason was given by India’s film authorities, but right-wing Indian politicians took credit for the change of plan.

Pakistani films have not been screened by India’s lucrative film market since 2011. Though there’s no official ban, New Delhi adheres to an unofficial prohibition aimed at reducing the presence of Pakistani art on Indian screens. This has been expanded under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist rule to also exclude Pakistani actors from performing in India’s Bollywood.

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Indian PM Narendra Modi walks after inspecting the honor guard during Independence Day celebrations at the historic Red Fort in Delhi.

REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

Gearing up for a third term, meet Modi 3.0

Narendra Modi, 72, is stronger than ever. Last week, the Indian prime minister claimed the top prize in a three-pronged election by keeping his home state of Gujarat. Nabbing one of India’s richest states a sixth time in a row may propel him into a likely third term.

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Families torn apart by Partition.

Murtaza Ali/DPA via Reuters

The endless anguish of Partition: India and Pakistan at 75

Seventy-five years ago this week, two of the most powerful countries in Asia were born in a bloodbath. At the stroke of midnight that separated Aug. 14 from Aug. 15, 1947, British India was divided — along an inexpertly drawn line — into a sprawling, Hindu-majority India, and a smaller, Muslim-majority Pakistan.

The event, known as “Partition,” tore apart families, villages, and whole regions, sparking violence that left millions dead and displaced. It also laid the groundwork for sectarian conflicts and enmity between India and Pakistan that have lasted to this day.

To learn more about why Partition happened, and how it continues to shape the troubled relationship between these two countries, we sat down with Akhil Bery, a former analyst at Eurasia Group who is now Director of South Asia Initiatives at the Asia Society Policy Institute.

Our conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

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Modi attends an innovation conference with Israeli and Indian CEOs in Tel Aviv.

REUTERS/Oded Balilty

The promise and peril of Modi’s success

Narendra Modi’s political juggernaut seems unstoppable.

Through a series of maneuvers — some of them questionable, if not illegal — Modi’s Hindu nationalist BJP party last week took the reins of Maharashtra, India’s richest state. It was yet another victory for Modi in the run-up to elections in 2024, when he is expected to secure a third term.

But Modi’s take-no-prisoners style of governance, coupled with a weak opposition, a compliant judiciary, a supine press, and a society struggling with weakened civil liberties, is increasingly threatening the pillars of the world’s largest democracy.

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Students and activists protest against the government's Agnipath military recruitment plans in Delhi.

Kabir Jhangiani/Pacific Press/Si via Reuters Connect

Hard Numbers: Indians vs. army recruiters, Nigeria freezes airline cash, China hearts Russian oil, Spanish conservatives win big

4: Thousands of Indians have taken to the streets to protest against the army's plans to recruit new soldiers for a limited four-year term. The protesters say that ruins their hopes of getting a secure job with the military, one of India’s largest employers, while the generals argue they need to cut back on salaries and pensions that take up half of the budget.

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Indian PM Narendra Modi.

Reuters

Bombastic Modi no more?

Would the Narendra Modi of 2019 – the year his clampdown on Kashmir drew ire from human rights activists worldwide – have backed down on Prophet Mohammad-related gaffes made by members of his party? Pre-pandemic, would the bombastic Indian prime minister have missed a chance to forcefully weigh in on Sri Lankan domestic affairs amid a dire political crisis?

It wasn’t so long ago when former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa alleged in 2015, just days after voters removed him from office, that India’s spy agency, the Research & Analysis Wing, had helped oust him from power. Now, the tone of Rajapaksa’s family toward India couldn’t be more different. Namal, Rajapaksa’s son, recently thanked Modi and “the people of India” for sending aid to his country at a time when Sri Lanka is battling its worst economic crisis since independence in 1948.

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Demonstrators in Kolkata block a passenger train during a two-day long strike to protest against what they say are "anti-people" policies of the central government.

REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri

Hard Numbers: Indian workers strike, Shanghai lockdown makes oil market jittery, Biden’s budget plan, EU targets Lebanese laundering

2: Indian workers began a two-day nationwide strike on Monday to protest Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s economic policies. The strikers oppose the government’s attempt to privatize some state-owned assets, which they say will boost prices. They are also calling for a greater safety net for workers in the informal economy, who account for 80% of Indian workers.

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov & Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba meet in Antalya, Turkey.

Turkish Foreign Ministry/Handout via REUTERS

What We're Watching: Russia-Ukraine peace talks, EU & US fight inflation, Indian state elections

Ukraine peace talks fail, Putin pushes back

In the highest-level peace talks since the start of the war, Russia and Ukraine’s top diplomats met on Thursday in Turkey but failed to secure an agreement. The Ukrainians say the Russians refused a brief ceasefire to allow for evacuations of civilians from besieged cities. Russia, meanwhile, pointed fingers at Ukrainian “radicals” for occupying the Mariupol children’s hospital that was bombed on Wednesday. President Vladimir Putin, for his part, banned the export of Russian products to 48 countries in response to Western sanctions. The ban is largely symbolic as it excludes commodities such as oil and natural gas as well as minerals, wheat, and raw materials for fertilizer, all of which could make global prices soar further if the Kremlin removes them from the market. Separately, Russia also unveiled a new accelerated bankruptcy scheme for departing companies, stopping just short of nationalizing them altogether (for now). It seems Putin wants to keep some of his powder dry in case European countries decide to join the US ban on Russian oil imports, or more foreign corporations abandon the country.

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