Of Headline News Stories of past three months

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By Philip Mudartha
Bellevision Media Network

09 Jan 2024: After the hiatus of two months, I resume the series of exclusive articles. There wasn’t a dearth of news stories relevant to you. However, I must admit that my readers have been less than enthusiastic to express their views on these exclusives. Which, of course, affected my motivation besides suffering from a bout of seasonal illnesses.


In the interim, there had been elections in five Indian states. The BJP won Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. The INC (Congress) won Telangana. The upstart Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) won hands down in Mizoram. These state elections were treated as semi-finals before the 2024 general elections. Brimming with new-found confidence, Modi has announced that he will the PM for the third term.



There was unsavoury news as well: the US announced charges against an Indian citizen, accused of working with an unnamed Indian official to assassinate a Khalistani separatist on American soil. Remember, several months ago, Canadian PM had told his parliament that “there exists credible intelligence” of the involvement of a senior Indian diplomat in Ottawa in the assassination of a prominent Khalistani separatist on Canadian soil.  The Indian government had reacted angrily to Canadian accusation while its response to US charges were circumspect. Obviously, different strokes for different nations! Canada is a pigmy compared to the giant US.



The Indian Supreme Court, in its verdict of 17th October 2023, declined to legalise same-sex marriages, leaving it to Parliament to legislate on the subject. The court ruled that there is no fundamental right to marry, and the court cannot bestow the legal status of “civil union under Special Marriages Act -1954” to queer couples. However, consensual gay-lesbian sex is legal in India. According to a survey, nearly 30% of Indians self-identify themselves to belong to LGBTQ+ community.


In a related story, on 18th December 2023 Pope Francis approved “blessings of same-sex couples”. While there is some opposition to this papal order mainly in Africa, Oswald Gracias of Mumbai (the senior most Indian Catholic Cardinal and close advisor to Pope Francis) spoke in favour and said ‘Jesus never refused a blessing’. Blessing of same-sex couples is “natural” and resonates “with Indian culture of inclusiveness”, according to the Cardinal.



Another important news story is the suspension of 146 members of Parliament during the Winter Session for protesting against a security breach on the premises. While it is important to maintain decorum in the houses, the drastic step needlessly undermined the role of the opposition and set a bad precedent of misuse of power by the ruling party. Instead, focus of ruling party should have been on consensus-building in the spirit of cooperation to ensure healthy democratic norms. This is too much to expect in Modi-fied India.



India lost the cricket World Cup final played on 19th November 2023 against Australia. The loss broke a billion hearts who watched the match on television, not to mention the massive disappointment of the capacity crowd who watched the match at the iconic Modi stadium in Ahmedabad and cheered the home team. Having won the toss, Australia put India in to bat. The Australian pacers were lethal, bowling India out for 240 runs. India put up a brave fight in their bowling attack, but Australia put up a stubborn batting partnership and managed to defeat India with six wickets to spare. I am not a hard-core cricket fan, but I sat glued to the telly through-out.



It is eight days into 2024 but I must wish readers a happy and prosperous New Year. The year begins with preparations for the inauguration of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya which is built on the site of a medieval mosque (Babri Masjid) that was illegally demolished by right-wing Hindutva activists on 6th December 1992.  In the past, I have written several exclusives on the Masjid demolition, the Godhra Train Burning Tragedy of 28th February 2002, the Gujarat Riots in its aftermath, the political manoeuvring that catapulted BJP to national power beginning in 1998 and the 19th November 2019 Supreme Court Judgment allotting the site to Hindu petitioners to build Ram Mandir despite ruling that the demolition of the mosque was “an egregious violation of rule of law”.


The inauguration of the new temple by PM Modi in January 2024 is timed ahead of the general elections and BJP will leave no stone unturned in order to capitalize on the wave of fresh Hindu religious sentiments. For the BJP, it is a monumental political triumph. This is Mission 2024, writ large. While the BJP and its parent saffron entities like RSS have flirted with the politics of polarisation and religious sentiment since inception, Modi has weaponized it. The clarion call of Hinduism takes centre stage as development fades into the background. Beyond the electoral theatre, the Ram Mandir inauguration on 22nd January 2024 represents a seismic shift in the cultural landscape.



In the last exclusive dated 12th November 2023, I promised to recount the events since the formation of the State of Israel on 14th May 1948. The Arabs of the region in particular and Muslims elsewhere in general refused to recognise the right of Israel to exist in its historic, biblical and ancestral homeland. The choices of the Palestinians, the Arabs and the Muslim World since 1948 have led to the on-going conflicts and wars which have brought nothing but pain, penury and poverty to the Palestinians. Further, the conflict threatens world peace and stability. Therefore, it is important to deal with the subject in subsequent exclusives in the future.




Comments on this Article
Aboobacker Nettikkara, Kerala Fri, January-12-2024, 9:09
Philip Saab’s absence from his usual evaluation cum writing definitely did a gap in his readers. Now the gap has filled through extensive evaluating across the events. Hope will continue writing with your usual extensive in depth analysis. Now I am in Doha with family to join with son and daughters
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