Category Archives: Uncategorized

Overfishing in England

            Overfishing is a very complex and far reaching problem. Bad fishing practices can cause area extinction of fish, ecological destruction, habitat damage, accidental catch of non-target species, and littering. Britain has consistently set its quotas well over scientific advice. In 2019, Britain set its quotas at 546,945 tons, or 106,925 tons over scientific advice. The European Commission estimated in 2009that 88% of monitored marine fish stocks were overfished. In the area surrounding Britain, overfishing has had many significant effects. Between 1889 and 2007, the availability of bottom-living fish for the English fleet fell by 94%. A British studyestimated there could be no more than 32,000 tons of breeding adult cod in the North Sea. According to some experts, this is barely 20% of the adult numbers required to ensure a successful, permanent population. Britain has been very resistant to changing its fishing policies. When the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea recommended a ban on cod fishing in the North Sea, Irish Sea, and West of Scotland, the European commission only proposed reductions of 50-65%. Small fisheries often complain about the unavailability of fishing quotas, blaming the EU’s common fisheries policy, however, the bigger issue is that half a dozen fish producer organizations own 97% of English quotas. Smaller fisheries voted for Brexit in the hopes that more quotas would open up without the EU’s rules, but the quotas will likely remain largely the same. Large trawlers, catching fish indiscriminately and damaging the ecosystem required to replenish them, hurt the sea much more than the smaller, more environmentally conscious fishing vessels. A cut in quotas would likely hurt the small fisheries much more than the larger ones because the large fisheries are rich enough to withstand them well enough. 

            Britain has to strike a delicate balance when addressing overfishing. Especially in the midst of Brexit, fishermen are expecting a rise in quotas, not a cut. However, according to scientific advice, it is vital that fishing be decreased as soon as possible. Therefore, Britain would like to propose a 15% cut in quotas, with large companies taking 10% of that cut. Every year, fishing quotas will be cut by another 5%, split 3.5%-1.5% between large and small scale fisheries, until quotas reach the levels of scientific advice. Cod Fishing will be particularly well regulated, and areas with especially depleted stocks of cod will be banned from fishing. Hopefully, these changes will allow Britain’s fish to start to recover from the overfishing that they have been exposed to. 

Untouchability Untouched by Laws

In 1949 India’s constituent assembly adopted constitutions which made discriminatory treatment based on caste illegal. But with the caste system so deeply rooted in Hinduism and India’s history, that discrimination continues to this day, and it afflicts some Indians worse than others. The caste system consists of a hierarchy with five social communities, four castes and a fifth group who were excluded from the caste system due to the impurities in their way of life. Officially known by the government as the Scheduled Castes, this fifth group refers to themselves as Dalit meaning “broken/scattered”. The Dalit were responsible for occupations deemed too low and impure for members of the castes and since marrying outside of your caste is taboo, it is almost impossible to escape the stigma attached to being Dalit. The rigid nature of the caste system is so ingrained in Indian society that even Gandhi went on hunger strike in 1932 to protest attempts to give the Dalit parliamentary seats.

Members of the Dalit are subjected to discriminatory hiring practices, refusal of service, and acts of violence in retaliation to performing “high-caste” actions. In 2018 two Dalit men were killed by high-caste Hindus for sitting cross-legged during a temple ritual, and thirteen-year-old boy was beaten for wearing “mojiris”, a traditionally royal type of shoe.

The violence and discrimination against the Dalit happen in spite of many Indian laws, including their constitution, the Untouchability Offenses Act of 1955, and the Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989. These laws are intended to prevent discrimination and to prosecute individuals who commit atrocities against the Dalit but they are often not enforced. In March of 2018, the Indian supreme court made a verdict diluting the power of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, resulting in large protests from the Dalit. The rights of Dalit is an important topic to investigate because of how it exemplifies how discrimination persists long after being technically outlawed. As India rapidly develops and becomes more of a world superpower it is necessary to call attention to the blatant inequality.

As the Tsunamis Roll Out, A New Warning System for Indonesia has Yet to Roll In

            In 2018, the death toll in Indonesia rose to a record high of 4,500. This resulted from the combined effects of multiple high magnitude earthquakes and two tsunamis. Prior to both tsunamis, the Indonesian tsunami warning system experienced significant failure. The number of casualties increased due to the lack of earthquake and tsunami drills, which left many citizens unaware of the need to flee to higher ground. Straddling the Ring of Fire and containing 295 active fault lines, Indonesia frequently experiences seismic activity, which can trigger tsunamis. Improving the siren system and providing Indonesia with proper earthquake and tsunami procedure education has the potential to decrease the scope of the humanitarian crises brought on by these natural disasters.

In September, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake rattled the Indonesian island of Sulawesi triggering a tsunami which caused mass destruction. Warnings were issued, but were cancelled after 34 minutes based on data from tidal-gauges 125 miles away which indicated no risk of tsunami. Despite the initial issuance of the warning, however, many citizens insist they heard no warning sirens. The combined destruction of the tsunami waves and the earthquake killed 2,100 people and displaced roughly 70,000. In total 4,413 buildings collapsed. In December, the destruction increased after an underwater landslide triggered another tsunami, resulting in at least 281 deaths, 1,000 injuries, and thousands of displaced people. There was no seismic activity, so Indonesia’s earthquake-triggered early warning tsunami detection system did not sound. The failure of the warning system prior to both tsunamis put many Indonesians, who were caught off-guard by the waves, in danger.

Indonesia’s warning system received its last major update in 2004, following the devastating tsunami which killed 225,000 people and led to a nationwide push to improve tsunami detection. With the help of Germany and the United States, 22 warning buoys connected to seabed sensors were deployed. However, since 2012 these buoys have been inoperable due to neglect and vandalization. The UN Disaster Risk Reduction agency found that the area had only 56 of the 1000 warning sirens it needed, lacked 8,8,00 km of evacuation route, and was missing 2,150 evacuation centers. Indonesia was set to implement a new warning system which could detect tsunamis based on factors other than earthquakes, prior to the September earthquake and tsunami, though the Indonesian government’s lack of funds prevented its installation. The new system would have improved upon the current technology by implementing fiber optic cables, which send soundwaves into the ocean depths and collect data on potential tsunamis. A prototype for this system, off the coast of Padang, can detect tsunamis in one to three minutes, two to forty-two minutes faster than the current system. The new system would improve the accuracy of Indonesia’s tsunami detection capabilities, however, the current lack of education for the Indonesian people on tsunami safety procedure would undercut its effects.

The Red Cross and Crescent Society is working to fill this preparedness gap by providing Indonesians with earthquake and tsunami education, while also aiding in the disaster cleanup. Red Cross teams work in schools to teach earthquake preparedness to the children, procedures which Adam Switzer of the Earth Observatory of Singapore says need, “to be ingrained in every child in…Southeast Asia”. NGOs like Oxfam have also been cleaning up the wreckage and providing victims with water and other essential supplies. The extensive damage from these disasters and others has caused Indonesia to lose $2 billion annually. The new detection system with an estimated cost of $19.8 million a year per 200 km, could decrease the cost to the country while also protecting Indonesians from danger and displacement. The State Department should help fund the installation and maintenance of the new tsunami detection system and work to provide earthquake and tsunami preparedness education to the Indonesian citizens to protect them from future tsunamis. To do so, it should help fund organizations like the Red Cross and Oxfam to aid them in their efforts to educate and care for those affected by the tsunamis. Indonesia has an elevated vulnerability to tsunamis given its location on the Ring of Fire, and the State Department should allocate funds to reduce the impact of this vulnerability on the Indonesian people.

India: The Front Line in the War Against Antibiotic Resistance

by Emma Louise Keeler

In 1967, epidemiologist and United States Surgeon General William Stewart proclaimed that “the war against infectious diseases has been won.” Fifty-two years later, not only is the war against infectious diseases far from over, but humanity is increasingly on the losing side due to antibiotic resistance. Nowhere are our losses more apparent than in developing nations. The battle against resistant-pathogens is not one that each nation can fight separately; in order to win, nations must work multilaterally. Each year in the U.S. at least 2 million people are infected by antibiotic-resistant bacteria; of these people, at least 23,000 will die as a result of the infection. In order to fight resistance within our own country, it is necessary to first confront it at one of its origins — India.

For five decades, antibiotic resistance has placed a burden on India’s healthcare system and society. Resistance has undermined attempts to treat both common and lethal infectious diseases. Pneumonia, the number one cause of death for Indian children, causes approximately 410,000 deaths annually. Most, if not all, of these deaths are directly related to the shortage of effective antibiotics. Over 50% of bacterial infections in Indian hospitals are caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and 24% of bacteria are resistant to last-resort, intravenous antibiotics called “carbapenems.”

India’s governmental and economic conditions have generated an ideal breeding ground for resistance. The availability and insufficient regulation of antibiotics have promoted inappropriate antibiotic usage and subsequent resistance. Although it is illegal to sell unregulated antibiotics, millions are sold annually due to the lack of enforcement. A study published by the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology revealed that nearly two thirds of the fixed-dose combination antibiotics sold in India have not received regulatory approval. This is particularly concerning when considering India’s place as one of the five BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), accounting for 75% of the 36% rise in worldwide antibiotic consumption between 2000 and 2010. Out of the BRICS countries, India is responsible for 23% of the increase in retail sales.

Indian medical professionals often irresponsibly prescribe antibiotics at an incorrect dose, frequency, or duration. For example, 45 to 80% of patients with symptoms of acute respiratory infections, common colds, or diarrhea are given an antibiotic despite most of these ailments being viral, not bacterial. The issue of inappropriate prescriptions is exacerbated by both a lack of microbiology facilities and little willingness of patients to undergo tests.

For decades, India’s notoriously poor healthcare infrastructure has suffered from inadequate public finance. The Indian government has also turned a blind eye to the determinants and effects of resistance. However, the recent emergence of the enzyme New Delhi Metallo-beta-lactamase-1 (NDM-1) has galvanized the government into instituting antibiotic-related policies. A Ministry of Health and Family Welfare task force announced a national antimicrobial policy, the National Policy for Containment of Antimicrobial Resistance, that will focus on conducting infection and resistance surveillance, promoting rational drug use through education, banning the selling of antibiotics over-the-counter and restricting the use of potent antibiotics (i.e. carbapenems).

In 2010, 13% of infection-causing bacteria in India were “superbugs” endowed with the NDM-1 enzyme. This enzyme was first isolated from a Swedish patient of Indian origin in 2008 and was shortly detected in India, hence the name New Delhi Metallo-beta-lactamase-1. This specific enzyme makes bacteria resistant to all beta-lactam antibiotics (i.e. penicillins, cephalosporins, carbapenems). Once a bacterium acquires this enzyme, it is virtually unharmed by mainstream antibiotics. Furthermore, this enzyme can be passed between different bacterial pathogens through horizontal gene transfer.

Each year, more than 5.4 million Indians travel internationally, in addition to the 20 million Indian nationals living throughout the world. Due to this, India’s issue of antibiotic resistance, especially that related to the NDM-1 enzyme, is no longer confined to its borders — it is a worldwide concern. Effective antibiotics are as much a globally shared resource, as they are a shared responsibility. The battle against antibiotic resistance must be fought together, starting with an understanding of the situation in other nations.

Agrarian Crisis in India

During the month of October 2018, thousands of farmers from across India marched on New Delhi in in protest and in order to draw attention to the challenges that the countryside faces. Protests have also disrupted life in cities like Kolkata and Mumbai. The farmers have made demands for higher prices for their crops, cheaper fuel and electricity bills and other changes. The government reports that farmers make around $100 a month on average, although the reality is often much less. One leader of the protests, Yogendra Yadav has said that “for a majority of them, the income is probably less than $50 a month. That is the level at which they survive”. Last year there was a protest held in New Delhi where Farmers held skulls to bring awareness to the many farmers who have committed suicide after struggling with debt and crop failure. At least 300,000 farmers have killed themselves since 1995 or have attempted to quit farming, although there is a lack of other routes they can take to make a living. When there is such a great level of unrest and disorder in a country, political leaders must make sure to listen and act on the problems promptly.

The Indian agricultural sector plays a massive role for the country, making up around 16 percent of the country’s economy and providing up to 49 percent of employment according to India’s Economic Survey. Out of India’s 1.3 billion people, most live in rural areas.  

The Indian rupee has fallen greatly in value, and as a result fuel prices in India have increased to the highest level ever before. Diesel prices rose 25 cents in 2018 due to higher prices for crude oil and increased costs of oil imports. Farmers not only work day and night to produce their crops, but must also pay high prices for necessities like fertilizer. When farmers go to sell their crops, they often do not receive enough to make a profit and many of the farmers are deep in debt from trying to carry out their work. India’s erratic weather patterns have also been a challenge for farmers. In some areas there has been prolonged droughts that can destroy a farmers work. Up to half of India’s farmers do not have access to irrigation systems and rely on rain.

Rural support is very important politically for any party to win. Opposition to India’s current Prime Minister is quickly growing and could seriously pose a problem for him if he wishes to be succesfull in this years scheduled elections. The federal government sets the prices for produce and also buys produce from farmers, and government investment in the rural sector has run short. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised to double rural income by 2022 and has raised the minimum support price for certain crops. This will not be enough to make an impact on most rural communities. If Prime Minister Modi is not motivated to make change in order to save such a large section of his country’s people, then hopefully he will be motivated politically.


Child Marriages and Women’s Education in Bangladesh

Bangladesh, a primarily Islamic country in south Asia, has the fourth highest rate of child marriage in the world. Although laws are in place to prevent it, 52% of women aged 20-24 married before they were 18. The two NGOs “Friendship” and “Plan Bangladesh” work to effectively increase women’s education and rights and decrease the number of child marriages occurring.

Women in Bangladesh are often very societally oppressed. Expected to marry at a very young age to a husband who is usually at least ten years older than they are, they are pressured heavily to drop all educational and personal goals in order to tend to their families and produce children. From the time they are born, they are viewed as burdens and many female babies are aborted. The birth of a female child brings shame upon the mother of the child. According to Fairooz Naziba, a Bangladeshi national, women usually fall into one of four educational groups: highly educated and allowed by their husband to pursue their career after marriage, highly educated housewives, educated until middle school then betrothed and expected to serve their husband, or uneducated and working basically as a slave.

Increasing women’s education has been linked to many benefits in Bangladesh. According to an article written by two highly educated Bangladeshi women, if the number of educated women were to increase, the work force would increase, the population growth would drop, women’s health would increase, domestic violence would decrease, and social mobility and family income would increase. However, spending on women’s education has actually been decreasing. In 2013, foreign aid spending on basic education in Bangladesh was $19 per child and in 2014 it fell to $13 per child. Increased spending on education would also help to significantly decrease child marriages.

The NGO “Friendship” focuses heavily on education and operates exclusively within Bangladesh. It mostly works within Chars, or communities built on river islands. Education within these communities is difficult to obtain as they are extremely poor and migrate frequently because of natural disasters. In order to solve this problem, “Friendship” made schoolhouses that could be disassembled and carried. Because of the lack of adequate teachers, they recorded video lessons and started teacher training programs within these communities. They have secondary education programs for those who wish to keep learning and adult learning programs for those who wish to learn to read and write. These programs are important for ensuring that even the poorest communities are literate and have some upward mobility, which will in turn help decrease the number of child marriages.

Some of the driving factors of child marriages include extreme poverty, lack of education, sexual harassment, societal pressure, natural disasters, and inability to pay a dowry. There is a widespread societal fear in Bangladesh that if you wait to marry past 20, it will be very difficult to find a husband.

There are many tangible benefitsto decreasing child marriages. Women who marry earlier give birth earlier. Women who give birth between the ages of 10-14 are five times more likely to die than those who give birth between the ages of 20-24. A drop in child marriages would also allow women to stay in school for significantly longer. This would lead to a drastic increase in the work force and a boost of the economy. Domestic violence and rape would also decrease because women would be more confident and have more time to find a compatible partner.

Despite the government’s promises to decrease the rate of child marriages, they have proposed a new lawthat would allow some women to be married under 18 years of age “under special circumstances”. This law doesn’t require the child’s consent to be married. Beyond this legislation, local officials can often be bribed to forge birth certificates  to allow child marriages. This corruption leads to child marriages being enabled instead of prevented.

Plan International Bangladesh has many programs dedicated to fighting child marriages. They established programs designed to educate women and the larger community about the laws concerning child marriages and why marriages should be delayed. They have also been working to get legislation passed that would oppose child marriages. They set up co-ed clubs in order to encourage relationships between the genders. They also provide at-risk families with financial support. One studyfound that 15 year old girls who were provided with a financial incentive to stay unmarried were 23% more likely to be unmarried by the time they were 16. These girls were also 25% more likely to stay in school. Plan Bangladesh provides both financial incentives and empowerment to young girls, increasing their chances at a later marriage.

Both NGOs proposed provide important services that support young girl’s educations, empowerment, and their right to remain unmarried until they are ready. By investing in these organizations, we help young women all over Bangladesh to make their own choices concerning their lives and change the expectations set for them by society.

Aral Sea – Environmental Catastrophe

In the 1960s, Soviet leaders believed the future lay in collective agrarianism, and they believed irrigating Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan’s arid steppes was their key to the future. They were wrong. Irrigation canals branching off from the Amu Darya (historically Oxus) river fed fields of Soviet cotton and wheat, but over time Central Asia’s longest river waned until a dam put an end to it, changing the Aral Sea in disastrous ways.

With its main tributary gone, the salty Central Asian sea—the fourth largest inland waterbody—was forced to rely solely on the Syr Darya, a smaller river emptying into the Aral Sea’s northern portion. The smaller river could not feed the Aral Sea on its own, and by the 1980s, the sea extended to a mere half of its original size. Soviet irrigation had left the region devastated, and it would only get worse. The significant water loss brought the salinity from 10 to 30 grams per liter—comparable to ocean water. In the 1980s, all the native fish species died, unable to adapt to the drastic and sudden change in salinity, and the region’s once vibrant fishing economy died too. To this day, rusted out boats can be seen laying on the dried up seabed.

Unfortunately, the tragedy does not end there. Up to 75,000 tons of poisonous chemicals and salt drift in the wind annually. Picked up from the dried seabed, these particles often make dangerous salt-storms in the region. The chemicals have been known to cause numerous health issues, and now these health issues are affecting entire populations. Entire cities and villages are being exposed to the various chemicals left over when the sea dried. Infant mortality is up to 110 deaths per 1000 births. To put this in perspective, the global infant mortality rate is 29 per 1000 births. Cases of cancer also rose drastically in this region, with liver cancer alone, doubling between 1981 and 1991. Anemia, stunted growth, and reduced fertility have also become prevalent, as fresh fish disappear from the market. Respiratory diseases from breathing in the toxins, dust, and salt are also rampant.

To make things worse, the Aral Sea was given no official government attention until the fall of the Soviet Union. Unwilling to admit a mistake, the Soviet government let the Aral Sea drain out, moved the fishing industry to the Caspian Sea, and ignored the problem for 30-odd years. Although many now see it as a lost cause, some organizations are trying to help— or at the very least, draw attention to the issue.

One short term solution to the problem has been offered by the Uzbek company, Uzneftegazdobycha— a company that’s willing to invest in the infrastructure needed to drill under the dried seabed to harvest the hydrocarbons there. This, however good for the short term economic health of the region, would further the issue in the long run by removing water from the area.

Although by no means non-governmental, the most successful organization at ameliorating the issue is the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (IFAS). Bent on creating a better shared dialogue between central Asian countries, the IFAS was developed to both combat the issues of the Aral Sea and prevent anything like it from ever happening again. To that note, the Uzbek government has been planting thousands of saxaul trees in the Uzbek portion of the dried seabed. Although an admission that the Aral Sea will never be the way it once was, the Uzbek plan is not a bad one. Saxaul trees have been known to fix up to 10 tons of soil, preventing the salt and chemicals from entering the atmosphere and harming people. The current rate of planting, however, is painstakingly slow. Some estimate it would take 150 years to finish.

Perhaps the WeAreWater Foundation could help though. Known for partnering with larger NGOs in regard to water issues, the foundation could very well provide additional assistance in the matter. Contributing to World Bank and UN efforts, NGOs like this one are perhaps the best bet at solving the issue.

Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan

The Kyrgyz Republic, also known as Kyrgyzstan, is a land-locked state in between Kazakhstan and China. Largely Islamic, it is known for its stunning mountains, unique cuisine, and a type of dead-goat polo called ] Kok Boru. Unfortunately, another aspect of Kyrgyzstan that puts it on the map is the practice of bride kidnapping.

The process of bride kidnapping, also known as kyz ala kachuu which translates roughly as “to grab and run,” is a lengthy one. Where a prospective groom, usually with the help of his friends, kidnaps a girl and takes her to his house. The girl is then handed over to the groom’s relatives where they physically try to force a white marriage-scarf upon her head, a symbol of the bride’s consent while trying to convince her that marrying her kidnapper is in her best interests. Once the bride gives in she writes a letter to her parents stating her willingness to marry which is presented to the bride’s parent’s by the groom’s family along with a bride price of livestock and other gifts. If the girl’s parents accept a nikah or Islamic marriage ritual takes place marrying the two and the girl moves into her new husband’s home.

While theoretically the bride kidnapping process allows the girl to refuse marriage, it is rare for the girl, who in many cases has only briefly or never met her kidnapper, to refuse. This is due to the stigma within Kyrgyzstan’s predominantly Islamic culture, which considers the victims of such kidnappings no longer to be virgins. Many kidnapers capitalize on this fact and rape their brides-to-be directly after kidnapping. The stigma is so great that the girls who do decide to refuse, who are now considered not ideal for marriage, are often not accepted by their families and in some cases driven to suicide.

Even though bride kidnapping is technically illegal in Kyrgyzstan the practice is still widespread. Hard data is hard to obtain but estimates range that between 20% to 50% of women in Kyrgyzstan have been kidnapped. Its defenders claim that bride kidnapping has been a part of Kyrgyz tradition for centuries. Although some scholars dispute these claims there are old Kyrgyz oral stories where bride kidnapping was done consensually, as a form of elopement. It should be pointed out that many of the kidnappings are in the spirit of these stories, consensually, as a strange proposing ritual. However, the tradition has also been expanded to include non-consensual marriages, and although the murky social view of consent has blurred the lines, one in three kidnappings are believed to be nonconsensual.

There have been some efforts to combat the issue of bride kidnapping, but they have been largely ineffective due to its traditional status, the government’s reluctance to enforce anti-kidnapping measures, and social leaders’ unwillingness to speak out against it. To be able to oppose bride kidnapping effectively, organizations must simultaneously deal with the practice on both the cultural and governmental levels. I believe two organizations could be able to take a decent stab at it: Musawah, and UN Women.

Musawah (Arabic for equality) is an international Islamic women’s rights NGO based in Malaysia. Founded in 2009 by an international coalition of Islamic feminists and the Malaysian NGO, Sisters in Islam (SIS) Musawah’s goal is to champion women’s rights in the Islamic world through feminist interpretations of the Qur’an and other holy Islamic works. It and SIS have been very successful in starting a grassroots Islamic feminist movement in Malaysia. The hope is that since Kyrgyzstan is a predominantly Islamic, activism from an Islamic NGO will not be seen so much as meddling from outside forces on Kyrgyz tradition. Instead of trying to change tradition by attacking it with western ideals using religious values would be much more effective. This is especially relevant considering that Islam forbids forced marriages.

UN Women is an entity of the United Nations focused on “gender equality and the empowerment of women.” It works with governments around the world to further women’s rights in accordance with CEDAW. Backed by the United Nations, UN Women carries a pretty big stick, and could be used to put pressure on Kyrgyzstan’s government to help enforce its anti-kidnapping laws.

If this strategy of simultaneously employing UN Women to hit bride kidnapping high while using Musawah to hit it low was implemented, I believe that actual change to help stop nonconsensual kidnapping could happen.

No More Bogeymen at Bedtime for India

In March of 2017 Narendra Modi appointed Yogi Adityanath Chief Minister (CM) of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state. This controversial and “firebrand” leader has become known all over the world for his populist ideals and his anti-Muslim policies. He has convinced the Indian people that he will shoo away the Islamic bogeymen, and many have welcomed the plan with open arms. Yogi Adityanath practically defines the idea of an anti-Muslim populist and religious nationalist.

Until this appointment Modi had spent most of his time in power furthering a secular agenda. Most of India expected Manoj Sinha to fill the post, as he is currently a stable and balanced leader in India. Uttar Pradesh’s CM plays a very large and public role, and because of this profile a CM is typically seen as a possible future Prime Minister. So the choice of Adityanath was quite controversial and shocking to many. One of the biggest controversies surrounding Adityanath is his leadership of a vigilante organization, the Hindu Youth Brigade or Hindu Yuva Vahini, a group known to use extreme violence against Muslims who are believed to be disturbing Hindus.

One event did especially change Adityanath’s views— at least for a little while. After leading the Hindu Yuva Vahini into the city of Gorakhnath, a city with growing tensions between Muslims and Hindus, Adityanath was arrested for the trouble he caused. After this arrest Adityanath became much more tentative in his religious crusades, taking a much more behind the scenes approach to leading his Hindu nationalists and restraining himself from publicly insulting or disrespecting Muslims. But the Indian people still know that he oppposes Muslims and keeps the Hindu agenda, one of the thing that, sadly, has made Adityanath so likable to the Indian people. While he tried to take a more mainstream approach to his views, he is still seen as a far-right populist.

India’s history of religious violence and tension has been brought to the forefront of the country’s focus again with the choice of Adityanath. Many of Adityanath’s political objectives have been focused on turning India into “a Hindu rashtra or state”, saying “I will not stop till I turn UP and India into a Hindu rashtra.” Some of his policies obviously favor the Hindu religion, like in his ban on the consumption of beef. This nationalist personality and blunt oratory, like when he said that women are “weak, and liable to turn into ‘demons’ when they take on jobs or activities traditionally reserved for men”, has helped him win the favor of a large majority of the Indian people in past elections and further his populist agenda. However he did claim that he would not discriminate due to religion within his state government, but his past and his ambitions would say otherwise.

Adityanath is clearly an anti-Muslim populist. He blames Muslims for many issues that face India, like the lack of an adequate amount of jobs. He directs his anger towards a religious group, Muslims, a trademark characteristic of a populist. He evidently wants religious uniformity, another aspect of populist leadership. While much of India’s Hindu population loves Adityanath’s fiery rhetoric, the Muslims of India, who make up around a sixth of the population, worry about the capabilities of Adityanath. His ideas and the support he has in India is indicative of a global issue; all over the world people fear and hate Muslims because of the stigmas that have been created against them due to the many Islamic terrorist groups that have caused issues worldwide. In India with 1.3 billion people, 172 million of whom are Muslims, the potential for irresponsible words to spark communal violence is a very real threat.