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The End of Cash in India?

Late in the evening on Nov. 8, Indian President Narendra Modi made an unscheduled appearance live on TV. Effective immediately, he said, all banknotes of 500 rupees ($7.50) and higher were invalid and must be turned over to banks, in order to fight corruption, terrorism and forgery. Abruptly the entire Indian economy was forced to subsist on nothing but the equivalent of $1 bills, at least until new currency could be rolled out.

Sudhir Panwar was caught up in a strange, chaotic situation on Wednesday afternoon.

Who Needs Toilets Anyway?

Narendra Modi’s Clean India Mission, and his focus on sanitation are central to the new prime minister’s push for a more modern looking India. But as these essays from Hardnews make clear, caste attitudes, gender politics and other peculiarities bring their own obstructions:

To pee is to be. That’s what we are, Hoo Ha India, superpower nuclear India, floating on public spectacles of yellow swimming pools of male piss.

The Radical Vegetarians Are Coming For Your Steak Knives

The growth of militant Hinduism in India, which this year swept the BJP nationalists to power, is expressed in numerous and occasionally unexpected ways. In Open Magazine, Lhendup G Bhutia writes that militant vegetarianism is on the rise around the country.

Vegetarian activism in India, unlike the West, is not limited to spot-shaming celebrities wearing fur or the token protest over a dinner table.

A Prime Minister for All of India’s Corporate Lords

If Hindu nationalist politician Narendra Modi wins power in India’s vast parliamentary elections this spring, writes Siddharth Varadarajan in Seminar, it will be a victory for crony capitalism as much as it is for sectarian Hindus. A decade ago, Modi’s name was synonymous with sectarian bloodshed and backwardness.

Who does Narendra Modi represent and what does his rise in Indian politics signify?

Written on the Body

A simple rectangle of cloth when it first appeared centuries ago, the Indian sari developed into an elaborate garment, writes Veena Venugopal in Motherland Magazine. Reading the subcontinent’s history through the evolution of the sari’s borders:

In the beginning, all saris were created equal, then they weren't.

When Saints Become Killers, or Killers Become Saints

A city both blessed and cursed by religious tradition, India’s Ayodhya was the locus of an enormous 1992 riot in which a Hindu mob 150,000 strong demolished a Muslim mosque to replace it with a temple to the god Rama. The communal strife which followed throughout India killed thousands of people.

21 July 2013. In a land dispute, the supporters of two mahants opened fire at each other.

Unsuitable Boys

The starting point for any Indian arranged marriage is the ladki dekhna, the ‘bride viewing,’ in which the prospective couple meet for the first time, sit down together for a glass of tea, and hopefully hit it off swimmingly. Then again, though, maybe they don’t. From Nandini Krishnan’s Hitched, the Modern Woman and Arranged Marriages, potential brides tell horror stories about the boys their aunties mistakenly thought would be absolutely perfect for them.

There are some women, and I must include myself in this lot, who believe that a groom hunt...

In Kashmir, a Gathering Storm

The past week a spate of violent separatist attacks have rocked Indian-administered Kashmir. In this prescient survey of the region, Hardnews suggests that the relative quiet that has prevailed in recent years marks an evolution but not a lessening of separatist feeling in the Muslim-majority region. When the US finally withdraws from Afghanistan next year, will the Pakistan military establishment’s attention return to Kashmir?

It's May and still cold in Srinagar. "The cool weather is just to help the flowers bloom (phool wali sardi),"

The Unholy Godmen

The conviction of four men in New Delhi for a gang rape, and public calls for their hanging leads us to consider here the very different treatment meted out to Asaram Bapu, a prominent Hindu spiritual leader recently accused of raping the daughter of one of his devotees. India’s ‘Godmen’ are vital to right wing politics, with their enormous networks of devotees and their frequently Hindu nationalist views.

As we go to press, it's been almost a week since a minor girl of 15, a child, accused Asaram Bapu of sexual assault in his (un)holy chambers in Jodhpur.

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