The Big Story: Unstated policy
On Thursday, both the Central and state governments finally spoke up about Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, Karan Johar's Diwali-release movie that has been at the center of a controversy over whether Indians should be working with Pakistani artists. The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena had threatened violence if the movie, which features Pakistani actor Fawad Khan, were to be released and a local exhibitors' association also issued a directive against showing movies like this one.
Seemingly pushed into a spot by these two developments, Johar put out a video on Tuesday, pleading that his movie be allowed to run in cinemas, while also promising not to work with artists from "the neighbouring country" in the future. The video was seen as capitulation in the face of rising jingoism as well as a business decision to ensure the big-budget movie actually makes it to the cinemas.
After Johar's video, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh met representatives from the Hindi film industry and promised that Ae Dil would get a release. Meanwhile, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis assured the people that no violence would be tolerated, arresting 12 MNS activists for protesting against the movie.
Both the moves from the Centre and state should be applauded, although simply assuring the maintenance of law and order ought to be the bare minimum of what we expect from our governments. But the delay in offering support, rather pointedly until Johar put out his plea and promised not to work with Pakistanis in the future, is telling. Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu confirmed this on Thursday by giving an interview to the Hindu admitting that though the government is not calling for a boycott of Pakistani artists, that's exactly what they would like to see happen.
Mission accomplished: By waiting until Johar's video to offer clear support about ensuring the movie could be released, the government at the state and the Centre has sent a clear message that there are conditions to be met before citizens can expect backing from the authorities. The boycott may not be state policy, but the Bharatiya Janata Party-run governments are speaking loudly without explicitly articulating their feelings.
The Big Scroll
- Karan Johar’s video plea reflects our current crisis – and is a warning of things to come, by Nandini Ramnath.
- Venkaiah Naidu said he isn't making a case for a boycott of Pakistan – and then made a case for it.
- Bharatiya Janata Party Member of Parliament Varun Gandhi has had to deny allegations of leaking defence secrets to jailed arms dealer Abhishek Verma, after lawyer Prashant Bhushan released a letter to the Prime Minister's Office (from another arms dealer) which claimed Gandhi was being blackmailed.
- "The essence, the ethos of our constitutional system is secularism. Religion and politics don't mix," said Chief Justice of India TS Thakur as a seven-judge bench of the Supreme Court considering the question of religious and political organisations calling on their followers to vote a certain way.
- Again we see evidence of Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi's weak leadership, as yet another senior party member, this time Rita Bahuguna Joshi, crosses over to the Bharatiya Janata Party in Uttar Pradesh.
- Two members of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam have moved the Madras High Court against the closure of their social media accounts, after a criminal case was registered against them for posting statuses about the health of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.
- Samar Halarnkar in the Hindustan Times is concerned about what he thinks is a gradually refashioning of India into a majoritarian state.
- Disturbingly, the Economist says, India's diehard nationalists have gone on the offensive against fellow Indians too.
- "There are certain other implications that flow from the “surgical” designation. At a popular level, surgery – the dreaded 'operation' – is what is resorted to when mere medicine fails," writes Alok Rai in the Indian Express, examining all of the language around the strikes.
- “All the black and brown people have to leave”: Jenee Desmond-Harris on Vox documents Trump’s scary impact on how kids think.
In angry North Kashmir, Ipsita Chakravarty tells us about the return of the foreign militant.
Today, Sopore is a brooding, secretive town, yet to recover from the militancy. The market, which had been set on fire before the killings of 1993, would be set on fire several times afterwards during that decade. So most of the buildings in the central part of the town are new. “More than settlements, there are Army camps here,” said Haneefa Yousuf. Besides, the militancy had played havoc with its once thriving economy. “Everything that had defined Sopore till then was destroyed,” said Irshad Wani.
Most of all, the militancy and the crackdown have left behind a tense, watchful population. It is believed that the town is now covered with a network of state informers. “The government has poured in so much money that if someone goes into a house, informers will tell on them,” said Mushki. “Even if there is support for militancy, it is not visible.” As of now, police officials say, there are five militants in Sopore, two of them on the run.