A dialogue on restoration of statehood of Jammu and Kashmir . . .
Former top elected officials from Muslim-dominant Kashmir participated today in the first all-party meeting called by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss the 2019 revocation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). The law split the state into two union territories (Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh) and has met with strong resentment and anger, internally by J&K leaders and externally from Pakistan, which suspended trade with India in response to Delhi removing J&K’s special status. While the leaders voiced their support for the restoration of J&K’s special status, unsurprisingly, the issue remains in discussion.
Expanding Hindu nationalism . . .
Similar acts of Hindu nationalism have been witnessed throughout India. Recently, the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) passed a citizenship lawthat limits citizenship to only non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. Protests and religious riots ensued, with Muslims fearing marginalization and Hindu nationalist groups fearing the spread of Islam in India. The BJP government is also launching a program of monument and public building construction that promotes Hinduism. Among the highest profile are plans to replace the current Indian Parliament, a Mughal-Islamic design, with one in a Hindu-inspired style. At an estimated cost of US$2 billion, the plans have elicited much criticism, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
India’s democratic slide . . .
Though the Indian government claims these development initiatives are not anti-Muslim or intended to establish Hindu dominance, the repercussions of these reforms are having a national impact. India has dropped to 53rd in a recent democratic index for the "diminishing of freedom of expression.” Currently, Muslims constitute 20 per cent of India’s population, but barely constitute four per cent of the Lok Sabha, India’s Lower House of Parliament. Many observers see these developments as an erosion of India’s multi-lingual, multi-cultural, and multi-religious society.