In 2010, Akhila Naik, a writer based in Odisha’s Kalahandi district, became the first Dalit author to write a novel in Odia. His book, Bheda, follows the story of a Dalit school principal’s son, Laltu, who drops out and becomes an activist. Laltu takes on the powerful upper-caste duo of a businessman and a politically influential lawyer who runs an Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh shakha in the village.
On 18 September, the appointments committee of the prime ministerial cabinet—which comprises the prime minister and the home minister, and is tasked with filling top posts at government agencies—named the Indian Police Services officer YC Modi
as the next director general of the National Investigation Agency. YC Modi previously served on a Special Investigation Team appointed by the Supreme Court. The SIT was charged with looking into three cases arising out of the riots in Gujarat in early 2002—the massacres at Gulburg Society, Naroda Patiya, and Naroda Gam on 28 February that year, in which over 150 people were killed. At the time the riots took place, the state was under the rule of the Bharatiya Janata Party, helmed by the chief minister, Narendra Modi.
Patricia Sauthoff is an American PhD scholar at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and a former faculty member at Nalanda University in Bihar. From August 2016 to 28 July this year, Sauthoff was employed as a teaching fellow at the university’s School of Buddhist Studies, Philosophy and Comparative Religions. In her second term at Nalanda, which started in January this year, she taught two courses, including a course titled the “History and Politics of Yoga.” It explored
the “history of Yoga in India as religious, social, and political practice.”
On 14 September, over five months after a mob of cow-protection vigilantes killed the cattle farmer Pehlu Khan and injured his sons Ibrar and Areef, the Crime Investigation Department of Rajasthan announced that it was closing the investigations involving the six people that Khan had named before succumbing to his injuries. In early September, the CID submitted a report to the Alwar police, in which they stated that the six men—Om Yadav, Hukum Chand Yadav, Sudhir Yadav, Jagmal Yadav, Naveen Sharma and Rahul Saini—were not present at the site where Khan was lynched in Behror, in Rajasthan, this April. The CID reportedly cited statements from people working in a nearby cow shelter
who said the six named were present on the premises of the cow shelter at the time of the attack. Of the 15 persons accused in the case, two were minors, and five were granted bail—at least one of them was visible
in a widely circulated video of the attack.
In mid August, in Kakrana village in Madhya Pradesh’s Alirajpur district, local revenue officials directed its residents to demolish their own homes. Failing this, the officials told the locals, they would bring in JCB machines to tear everything down. Kirta Bhaila, a 38-year-old man who owns a small grocery shop, said the officials warned the residents of his quarter: “Nothing will be left of your belongings and the goods in your kirana store if we bring in the machines.”
Since its ascendancy to power in the country, the Bharatiya Janata Party has made significant efforts to popularise Deendayal Upadhyaya, the ideologue behind the Bharatiya Jana Sangh—the parent organisation of the BJP. Among others, these have included proposals
to rename the Mughalsarai railway station in Varanasi, the Kandla Port in Gujarat, 12 colleges in Assam, and 45 libraries in Rajasthan after Upadhyaya. In September 2016, the party announced a year-long celebration of the centenary of the ideologue’s birth. The government constituted two committees
to plan the celebrations, and announced a budget of Rs 100 crore
for them. On 11 September this year, Narendra Modi delivered an address that was broadcasted live to 40,000 higher-educational institutes, in which he focused on the teachings of Upadhyaya and the Hindu reformer Swami Vivekananda.
Shyam Saran is a diplomat who joined the Indian Foreign Services in 1970, and has served as India’s ambassador to Myanmar, Nepal and Indonesia, as well as a foreign secretary to the Indian government. Saran spent several years in China, during which time he was involved in India’s negotiations with China over the border disputes between the two nations. Negotiations regarding the issue have been ongoing for decades, and were held most recently during a weeks-long standoff between Indian and Chinese forces in Doklam that ended in late August
“The best electoral system is the one that straightforwardly and most accurately reflects the preferences of voters,” the legal scholar Donald Horowitz noted in his 2003 seminal essay on electoral systems
. But there is no definite answer as to which system fits that bill. India and the United Kingdom follow the Westminster electoral model, in which the voters elect their representatives respectively to the Lok Sabha and its counterpart, the House of Commons. The voting procedure as well as the election of candidates is based on the first-past-the-post (FPTP) system—electors vote for one candidate in one constituency among all those contesting the elections from that constituency. The candidate with the highest number of votes, irrespective of the margin of victory or percentage of votes polled, is declared the winner.
On 9 September, the veteran lawyer Ram Jethmalani announced his retirement from legal practice. Jethmalani will turn 94 on 14 September, and his retirement comes after spending over seven decades as an advocate at the bar. In an interview he gave to the web publication LiveLaw after announcing his retirement, Jethmalani said
, “I want to do some important work in my life. I want to save India from corrupt politicians.”
On the evening of 5 September, Gauri Lankesh, a senior journalist who edited and published a self-titled weekly, the Gauri Lankesh Patrike, was murdered outside her residence in Bengaluru. Lankesh was known for her criticism of the Hindutva politics in Karnataka through her activism and editorials, as well as her reporting on the dubious practices of powerful businesses and organisations in the state. Shortly after the news of Lankesh’s murder broke, many in the media began to note the similarity between her assassination
and those of three noted rationalists—Narendra Dhabolkar in 2013; and Govind Pansare and MM Kalburgi, in 2015. Dhabolkar was shot dead during a morning walk in Pune. Pansare, a member of the Communist Party of India, was shot near his residence in Kolhapur, and the writer Kalburgi was gunned down inside his home in Dharwad.