The enormous stakes of India’s election

“distilled down to its essence, the election is about one really big thing: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s democracy-threatening quest to revolutionize the Indian state.
If the polling is even close to right, he’ll win a mandate to finish what he started.”

“Everyone is absolutely terrified”: Inside a US ally’s secret war on its American critics

“I have spent the past several months investigating stories like Naik’s: critics of India who say the Indian government has reached across the Pacific Ocean to harass them on American soil.
Interviews with political figures, experts, and activists revealed a sustained campaign where Narendra Modi’s government threatens American citizens and permanent residents who dare speak out on the declining state of the country’s democracy. This campaign has not been described publicly until now because many people in the community — even prominent ones — are too afraid to talk about it. (The Indian government did not respond to repeated and detailed requests for comment.)”

The Kremlin has never been richer – thanks to a US strategic partner

“Russia is entering its third year of war in Ukraine with an unprecedented amount of cash in government coffers, bolstered by a record $37 billion of crude oil sales to India last year, according to new analysis, which concludes that some of the crude was refined by India and then exported to the United States as oil products worth more than $1 billion.
This flow of payments, ultimately to Moscow’s benefit, comes from India increasing its purchases of Russian crude by over 13 times its pre-war amounts, according to the analysis by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), exclusively shared with CNN. It amounts to US strategic partner New Delhi stepping in to replace crude purchases by Western buyers, reduced by sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the analysis said.”

How a Judge in India Prevented Americans From Seeing a Blockbuster Report

“the news agency Reuters published an eye-opening cybersecurity investigation bylined by Washington-based reporters and full of news of interest to Americans. But Americans aren’t allowed to read the story anymore — by order of a court in India.
It’s a disturbing turn of events that couldn’t have happened in the pre-internet era, when publishing — and censorship — were largely local affairs.”

““If you are the Iowa Daily Beagle, and you publish a story that upsets some company in India, that company can go to an Indian court and get whatever injunction they want,” said Charles Glasser, who spent 12 years as the global media counsel for Bloomberg News and is the author of a book on international libel law. “But if the Iowa Daily Beagle has no assets in India and does no business in India, they can’t do much. It becomes more of an issue for international publishers, like Reuters. They certainly have resources there, and they are subject to the jurisdiction of the Indian court.”

Of course, Glasser notes, publishers have the ability to geofence content, making it so that an American reader can access a certain page while an Indian reader cannot. But that can backfire. Particularly in a country with historic reasons to be prickly about Western condescension, a judge is likely to take it as a sign of disrespect if an order is ignored beyond the border — not a good move if you are facing trial.

The upshot: Readers in America, where prior restraint is forbidden and where courts won’t enforce foreign rulings that violate the First Amendment, are blocked from reading a story based on a legal complaint that would be tossed out of most American courts.”

India begins to flex its naval power as competition with China grows

“India is widely publicizing the deployments, signaling its desire to assume a wider responsibility in maritime security to the world and its growing maritime ambitions to regional rival China.
“It is a message to China that, look, we can deploy such a large force here. This is our backyard. Though we don’t own it, but we are probably the most capable and responsible resident naval power,” Chawla said.

The Indian navy has helped at least four ships, three of which were attacked by Houthi rebels and another that Washington blamed on Iran, a charge denied by Tehran. It has also conducted several anti-piracy missions.”

“India has not joined the U.S.-led force battling the Houthis.

On Jan. 26, the Indian guided missile destroyer INS Visakhapatnam assisted the crew of a Marshall Islands-flagged tanker in fighting a fire after it was hit by a missile in the Gulf of Aden. About 10 days earlier, the Visakhapatnam responded to a distress call by the U.S.-owned Genco Picardy merchant vessel following a drone attack in the same waters.

“Maritime security has not been a strong pillar of India’s foreign policy engagements in a way we are beginning to see now,” said Darshana M. Baruah, a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “China is a factor in this.”

The rivals are already locked in a military standoff along their disputed border high in the mountains.

China has built up its presence over the years in the Indian Ocean, a key route for its energy supplies. It has the world’s largest navy by number of ships, more than three times the size of the Indian navy. China also operates a powerful fleet of large coast guard ships and what is referred to as its maritime militia consisting of fishing vessels that cooperate with the coast guard in asserting territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Beijing has deepened its engagement in the Indian Ocean mainly through infrastructure deals with India’s neighbors, including Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and most recently the Maldives.”

India bars protests that support the Palestinians. Analysts say a pro-Israel shift helps at home

“From Western capitals to Muslim states, protest rallies over the Israel-Hamas war have made headlines. But one place known for its vocal pro-Palestinian stance has been conspicuously quiet: Indian-controlled Kashmir.
Indian authorities have barred any solidarity protest in Muslim-majority Kashmir and asked Muslim preachers not to mention the conflict in their sermons, residents and religious leaders told The Associated Press.

The restrictions are part of India’s efforts to curb any form of protest that could turn into demands for ending New Delhi’s rule in the disputed region. They also reflect a shift in India’s foreign policy under populist Prime Minister Narendra Modi away from its long-held support for the Palestinians, analysts say.

India has long walked a tightrope between the warring sides, with historically close ties to both. While India strongly condemned the Oct. 7 attack by the militant group Hamas and expressed solidarity with Israel, it urged that international humanitarian law be upheld in Gaza amid rising civilian deaths.”

“Kashmiris have long shown strong solidarity with the Palestinians and often staged large anti-Israel protests during previous fighting in Gaza. Those protests often turned into street clashes, with demands for an end of India’s rule and dozens of casualties.”

“India “views Israel’s assault on Gaza as a counterterrorism operation meant to eliminate Hamas and not directly target Palestinian civilians, exactly the way Israel views the conflict,” Kugelman said. He added that from New Delhi’s perspective, “such operations don’t pause for humanitarian truces.”

India’s foreign minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, sought to justify India’s abstention.

“It is not just a government view. If you ask any average Indian, terrorism is an issue which is very close to people’s heart, because very few countries and societies have suffered terrorism as much as we have,” he told a media event in New Delhi on Saturday.

Even though Modi’s government has sent humanitarian assistance for Gaza’s besieged residents, many observers viewed its ideological alignment with Israel as potentially rewarding at a time when the ruling party in New Delhi is preparing for multiple state elections this month and crucial national polls next year.

The government’s shift aligns with widespread support for Israel among India’s Hindu nationalists who form a core vote bank for Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party. It also resonates with the coverage by Indian TV channels of the war from Israel. The reportage has been seen as largely in line with commentary used by Hindu nationalists on social media to stoke anti-Muslim sentiment that in the past helped the ascendance of Modi’s party.”