A bitter harvest

It has come to this – the most shocking element of the “Bulli Bai” crime was that its perpetrators were arrested, writes Satish Deshpande in the Indian Express. After all, in a political and information ecosystem where the “angry Hindu” has been legitimised, mock online auctions of Muslim women are surely not a crime?

This is the culmination of a century-old project of Hindutva, founded on a hatred of Muslims, Desai points out. Over the last seven years, hate crimes such as these have only been empowered by state power.

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The new common sense

A catastrophically mismanaged pandemic and economic distress may not be enough to change voters’ minds in Uttar Pradesh, headed towards assembly elections soon, writes Mukul Kesavan in the Telegraph. Cash handouts and the widely held belief that Adityanath’s government has cracked down on Muslims instead of indulging them, as previous state governments had, might help the Bharatiya Janata Party to get back into power.

The party certainly believes an uncompromising hostility to Muslims is a winning strategy in an electorate constituted by hate. But this may have become a self-fulfilling prophecy, as politicians, news anchors and opinion makers refashion themselves to accommodate the majoritarianism they believe is the new normal. This is how “leering bigotry” becomes “common sense”, Kesavan warns.

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Great games

As Russia and the United States battle it out over Ukraine, there is a third party watching with lively interest: China. The United States is increasingly seen as a failing superpower, unable to sustain its old global presence, a view that appears to have taken hold in the Chinese establishment. As a Russian invasion of Ukraine becomes a distinct possibility, the West seems to be an inadequate counterweight. How American President Joe Biden deals with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, will be instructive for China, writes Michael Shuman in the Atlantic.

China has its own conflicts with the United States, especially over Taiwan. Beijing asserts sovereignty over the island. The United States has long maintained a “strategic ambiguity”, not maintaining official diplomatic relations with Taiwan and remaining deliberately vague about what it would do should China invade the region. But Schuman warns that Ukraine is not Taiwan, and the United States’ strategy on Asia cannot be compared to its approach to Europe.

Closer home, Indians may be watching the watcher. How far can China go with incursions along the Line of Actual Control with India? How would the United States behave should there be a serious threat of large-scale military action from China?

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Out of court

Novak Djokovic’s adventures in Australia have been watched by tennis fans with a mix of amusement and frustration. The star player refused to get the Covid-19 vaccine before entering Australia, which has stringent travel restrictions that have left many of its own citizens stranded abroad through the pandemic. But Djokovic claimed he had been granted an exemption from getting a vaccine before he entered Australia because he recently got Covid. Had he really got an exemption? And did he appear unmasked in public after testing positive? Will he finally play in the Australian Open?

Gerald Marzorati, writing for the New Yorker, traces the twists and turns of the battle between the Australian government and possibly the world’s most famous anti-vaxxer.

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