The Latest: Top stories of the day
1. Resettlement courses for retired personnel: Ministry of Defence investigates “massive” bungling in training.
2. Two arrested after 15-year-old girl found is raped, killed, tied to a tree in Uttar Pradesh.
3. Twenty seven flights including the prime minister's aircraft is diverted as a freak storm lashes Delhi.
4. IPL Final: Sunrisers Hyderabad defeat Royal Challengers Bangalore by eight runs to win title.

The Big Story: Race in India

Last Friday, Congolese national Masunda Kitada Oliver was beaten to death by a group of Indian men after an argument in Delhi. A week after Oliver’s death, seven African nationals were attacked in three separate incidents in the city. So severe were the attacks that they caused a diplomatic crisis: African envoys threatened to boycott the Africa Day celebrations of the Indian government last week. But they eventually attended the function, after India assured them on the safety of their citizens.

Unfortunately, it seems India’s assurances weren’t all that sincere. No less a person than the Minister of State of External Affairs, VK Singh, has casually dismissed the attacks on Africans as a “minor scuffle” and ironically blamed the media for reporting on the issue. “Had detailed discussion with Delhi Police and found that media blowing up minor scuffle as attack on African nationals in Rajpur Khud,” said Singh. “Why is media doing this? As responsible citizens let us question them and their motives."

So in a tragedy in which a man has been beaten to death, a Union minister wants to question not the killers but the media. In some ways, we must be thankful for Singh's frankness: he has exposed the terrible bigotry towards race that is commonplace in India.

Only in Friday, Singh's colleague, the Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma on Friday said the killing of the Congolese man was unfortunate, but "even Africa is not safe". Maintaining the government's line that incidents like this are no good for India's image, Sharma added, "India is a large country and such incidents will give a bad name to India."

Days earlier, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had expressed her regret for the incident, not because murder is unacceptable but because it embarrassed India.

In 2013, Nigerians suffered racist attacks across Goa, even as state Minister Dayanand Mandrekar called residents of that country a cancer. So severe was that episode that Nigerian diplomats warned of a backlash back in Nigeria against Indians working in their country. In 2014, a mob assaulted two Africans at a Metro station in Delhi. The incident, captured on camera, depicted a frightening picture of racism, as the mob tried to get at the two men cowering, ironically, inside a police booth. Earlier in Delhi, a state minister himself led vigilante justice against the city’s African residents.

People who have tried to bring attention to India’s frightening culture of majoritarian intolerance over the past two year have been shouted down, vilified and mocked. But pushing problems under the carpet usually makes things worse. India has multiple faultlines of bigotry already. To add race to that is an alarming prospect.

The Big Scroll

The attacks on Africans in India have exposed another ugly face of the caste system writes Ranjit Hoskote. In fact, its so bad that Indians think Africans are "frauds and prostitutes" ‒ so why do they still come to India to study? And a photographer is training his lens on the racism suffered by Africans in India.

Politicking & Policying
1. The West Bengal unit of the CPI(M) is still in favour of continuing the Congress alliance even as the “Karat lobby” in the politburo wants the party to go it alone.
2. Framed by the police but later acquitted in Babri anniversary train blasts case, Nisar-ud-din Ahmed was among three who walked free this month.
3. After a collector was transferred for praising Nehru in Madhya Pradesh, the 500,000-member state government employees’ union has threatened a “strike” if freedom of expression is curbed.

1. The narrative of the Bharatiya Janata Party doing very well in the last set of Assembly elections might need to be revisited, argues Karan Thapar in the Hindustan Times.
2. In the Indian Express, Shah Faesal explores the debates around Kashmiris clearing the Indian Administrative Service exams.
3. The European Union has as many troubles as the Indian Union, write Amit Dasgupta and Krishnan Srinivasan in the Telegraph.

Don’t Miss

BJP and the RSS are at loggerheads over plan to field Smriti Irani as chief ministerial face for UP polls, writes Dhirendra Jha.

In a sign of possible turbulence for the Bharatiya Janata Party in the run-up to the Uttar Pradesh polls, the party's eagerness to field Union minister Smriti Irani as the chief ministerial candidate has reportedly led to a standoff with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, its ideological parent.

Officials in the RSS told that the organisation's state-level expressed their displeasure over Irani’s candidature during recent confidence-building exercise by Keshav Prasad Maurya, the BJP’s Uttar Pradesh president.

Uttar Pradesh, currently ruled by the Samajwadi Party, is going to polls early next year and is a crucial state for the BJP. The party is already in preparatory mode in the state, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing a huge rally at Saharanpur on May 26 to celebrate the National Democratic Alliance's second anniversary in power at the Centre.

However, the party's plans could hit a roadblock with RSS' disapproval over the choice of Irani, the Minister for Human Resources Development, as the party's chief ministerial face.

A crucial decision

“Everyone in the state knows that Smriti Irani is an outsider,” said a senior office bearer of the RSS in UP. “The fact that she contested from Amethi in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections doesn’t make her a natural leader of UP. We have told BJP leaders that if there has to be a chief ministerial face, it should be a local.” Irani had lost the Amethi seat to Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi.

BJP officials confirmed the development but said this was not the end of the road for Irani and was “just the beginning of the consultation process”,

While speculation about Irani's candidature has been rife, the party has not openly spoken of it. Last week, when Modi was in Saharanpur, Irani, who was visiting Amethi, evaded the issue in an interview to a TV channel.