Two months after steering the BJP to a colossal electoral victory in Uttar Pradesh—key to their majority in the Lok Sabha—Narendra Modi’s close confidante, Amit Shah, was appointed BJP president today, succeeding Rajnath Singh who held the post for the past two years. Shah’s career has always been closely linked to that of Modi’s, though he largely worked in the shadows while Modi grew increasingly prominent. His appointment as BJP president suggests that Modi, through Shah, now controls both the government and the party they belong to.
On 3 July 2011, the Palestinian football team played Afghanistan in the Faisal Al-Husseini International Stadium in the West Bank. It was their first ever World Cup qualification match on home soil and was watched by a “raucous 10,000-strong crowd,” as the writer James Montague, who was present, notes in his book Thirty One Nil—On the Road with Football’s Outsiders. The match was both about pride and about politics: as Jibril Rajoub, the head of the Palestinian Football Association, told Montague, “I think having a home pitch recognised by FIFA is proof that statehood is possible.” In this extract, Montague relives the match, and the fleeting World Cup aspirations of the Palestinian team, and other teams from strife-torn nations.
Standing outside the Arena Pernambuco, a stadium on the outskirts of Brazil’s Recife metropolitan area, I felt like a tiny rain-drenched speck in a sea of football fans. Most of them had come prepared, faces streaked with the black, red, and gold of Germany or the stars and stripes of the United States. Those with tickets trooped confidently through the gates, wearing steely stares, refusing to acknowledge the riff-raff, the dregs of the crowd, the ticketless, of whom I was one.
On 22 June, the Noida police registered a First Information Report that went largely unreported by the mainstream media. The FIR charged Anita Sharma Bisht and MN Prasad, senior executives of the news channel India TV, under three sections of the Indian Penal Code—306 (abetment of suicide), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace) and 511 (attempting to commit offences punishable with imprisonment for life or other imprisonment).
Vantage will regularly feature extracts from the best current works of non-fiction. Our first selection comes from Death and Dying, a collection of essays edited by psychoanalyst Sudhir Kakar.
The “story”—as some journalists in the newsroom would say—is often hidden in silences, in unspoken words. In our contemporary hyper-communicative age, it often lies in un-tweeted tweets and un-posted posts. Words unsaid are often more potent than words uttered; the hushed silence is sometimes louder that the sounds of politics.
On 20 June, the front page of the Indian Express had three stories sourced from the Intelligence Bureau or the Central Bureau of Investigation. The flier on the page
stated that Raghu Raman, the CEO of the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), was not being given an extension due to an IB report documenting his “misconduct” with foreign nationals. The lead story
dealt with a “categorical opinion” by the CBI arguing against Gopal Subramaniam’s elevation as a judge of the Supreme Court, and the third
was a follow up of the impact on Greenpeace of the IB’s report that NGOs were stalling India’s economic growth. In each report the agency concerned seemed to echo the government line, and the news reports had faithfully reproduced the tenor of the allegations. Sceptism, if any, about the quality of intelligence, the veracity of the information or the convenience of the allegations, was relegated to a few opinion pieces carried on subsequent days.
At the end of May this year, the news broke that Flipkart—India’s largest e-commerce company—had acquired the online apparel store Myntra for between $300 million and $330 million, the
largest deal to date in the history of India’s nascent e-commerce sector. Journalists compared the deal to the American e-commerce giant Amazon’s 2009 purchase of clothing and shoe e-retailer Zappos for $1.2 billion. In fact, Flipkart’s founders, Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal (they are not related), are former Amazon staffers who quit their jobs in 2007 to launch their company.
When Coomi Kapoor, a contributing editor at the Indian Express, was a young reporter at the paper’s Delhi office in 1975, the Emergency came into effect. In addition to forced sterlisations, land grabbing, and the arrests of opposition members and people who protested, the government, under Indira Gandhi and her son Sanjay, also implemented a stealthy censorship policy in which publications had to tow the government line or they would be shut down for minor regulatory reasons. In this excerpt from her book The Emergency: A Personal History, with a foreword by Arun Jaitley, Kapoor recalls how Ramnath Goenka, an industrialist and media baron who owned the Indian Express, steered the paper clear of every tactic of intimidation the government placed before it.
“Who’s hooking up with whom at the firangi’s party tonight?”