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This Editorial in The New York Times sees dark days for Indian Democracy if PM Narendra Modi does not check the Hindu-nationalist militancy:

The murder on Tuesday of the Indian journalist Gauri Lankesh, a fearless critic of rising Hindu-nationalist militancy, has all the hallmarks of a hit job. “The message and not to independent journalists but to all dissenters is loud and clear,” tweeted Sidharth Bhatia, founding editor of the Indian online news site The Wire, “We are watching you and one day we will get you.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has let a climate of mob rule flourish in India, with his right-wing Hindu supporters vilifying “secularists.” The venom that reactionary social media trolls direct at journalists, or “presstitutes” as they call them, is especially vicious, but not entirely new. At least 27 Indian journalists have been killed since 1992 “in direct retaliation for their work,” according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Only one of the killers has been convicted. Still, Ms. Lankesh’s murder shocked India’s news media and set off protest marches in several Indian cities. “Journalists are increasingly the targets of online smear campaigns by the most radical nationalists, who vilify them and even threaten physical reprisals,” Reporters Without Borders” said.

The government of the state of Karnataka is investigating the killing of Ms. Lankesh, an editor and publisher of a Kannada-language weekly tabloid, who was shot outside her home in Bengaluru. Her family has given the police closed-circuit video of the murder scene, so that the killers, and anyone who may have ordered the assassination, may be brought to justice.

This has not happened so far in the murders of other outspoken critics of right-wing Hindu nationalists. Narendra Dabholkar,  whose campaigns against superstitious practices angered many Hindu religious activists, was shot to death near his home in Pune in 2013. Two years ago, Malleshappa Madivalappa Kulburgi, a former vice chancellor of Kannada University who spent decades debunking peddlers of superstition, was fatally shot in his home in Dharwad.

Ms. Lankesh had voiced concern about the climate of menace against journalists who didn’t toe the Hindu-nationalist line. If Mr. Modi doesn’t condemn her murder forcefully and denounce the harassment and threats that critics of Hindu militancy face daily, more critics will live in fear of deadly reprisal and Indian democracy will see dark days.

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This Editorial in The New York Times avers how under Narendra Modi’s leadership growth has slowed, jobs have not materialized, and what has actually been unleashed is virulent intolerance that threatens the foundation of the secular nation envisioned by its founders.

Narendra Modi’s landslide victory as prime minister of India in 2014 was borne on his promises to unleash his country’s economic potential and build a bright future while he played down the Hindu nationalist roots of his Bharatiya Janata Party.

But, under Mr. Modi’s leadership, growth has slowed, jobs have not materialized, and what has actually been unleashed is virulent intolerance that threatens the foundation of the secular nation envisioned by its founders.

Since Mr. Modi took office, there has been an alarming rise in mob attacks against people accused of eating beef or abusing cows, an animal held sacred to Hindus. Most of those killed have been Muslims. Mr. Modi spoke out against the killings only last month, not long after his government banned the sale of cows for slaughter, a move suspended by India’s Supreme Court. The ban, enforcing cultural stigma, would have fallen hardest on Muslims and low-caste Hindus traditionally engaged in the meat and leather industry.

It would also have struck a blow against Mr. Modi’s supposed priorities: employment, economic growth and boosting exports. The $16 billion industry employs millions of workers and generated $4 billion in export income last year.

More disturbing was his party’s decision to name Yogi Adityanath, a Hindu warrior-priest, as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, and a springboard to national leadership. Mr. Adityanath has called India’s Muslims “a crop of two-legged animals that has to be stopped” and cried at one rally, “We are all preparing for religious war!”

This development led the analyst Neerja Chowdhury to observe: “India is moving right. Whether India moves further right, and Modi begins to be looked upon as a moderate, I think that only time will tell.”

On Tuesday, India’s film censor board, headed by a Bharatiya Janata Party stalwart apparently intent on protecting Mr. Modi and the party from criticism, ruled that a documentary film about one of India’s most famous sons, the Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen, cannot be screened unless the director cuts the words “cow,” “Hindu India,” “Hindutva view of India” — meaning Hindu nationalism — and “Gujarat,” where Mr. Modi was chief minister at the time of deadly anti-Muslim riots in 2002.

This might seem like merely a farcical move by Hindu fanatics, if it were not so in line with much else that is happening in Mr. Modi’s India, and if the implications for India’s democracy weren’t so chilling. But this is where Mr. Modi has brought the nation as it prepares to celebrate 70 years of independence on Aug. 15.


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Value of propaganda

Adolf Hitler believed in the use of propaganda as an integral element to seizing and holding on to political power. His maxim was 'the bigger the lie, the more easily it will be believed, provided it is repeated vigorously and often enough'. (Sean Murphy in his book 'Letting the Side Down')

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