Panel analyzes India’s elections

first_imgTags: bharativya janata party, BJP, CWIL, hinduism, India, india elections 2014, karie cross, panel at saint mary’s on india, pradeep naravanan, sonalini sapra, srishti agnihotri On Wednesday, Saint Mary’s hosted a panel on the 2014 elections in India as part of International Education Week, sponsored by the Center for Women’s Intercultural Leadership (CWIL) and the department of political science. The panel was called “India 2014: Assessing the Elections and Beyond.”Contributing to the panel were four presenters, including Srishti Agnihotri, a graduate student in International Human Rights Law at Notre Dame, Sonalini Sapra, assistant professor in political science at Saint Mary’s, Karie Cross, a Ph.D student in political science and peace studies at Notre Dame and Pradeep Narayanan, head of research and consultancies at Praxis Institute for Participatory Practices in India. Chair of political science at Saint Mary’s Marc Belanger helped to facilitate the discussion.Agnihotri began the panel discussion as the first presenter, focusing on the context surrounding India’s 2014 elections. She spoke of India as a multi-party parliamentary system, with 543 available seats in the congress. The significance of this election was due to the fact that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won the majority, holding 282 seats, which has not happened since 1984, Agnihotri said.The reason the BJP was able to get so many seats was due to “changes that arose between the 2009 election and the 2014 election that diminished public opinion of the government,” which “was due to a series of a high-profile scandals,” she said.“The public began to see the regime as corrupt, and what could have been defended by public policy, the government seemed to be completely mute,” Agnihotri said.Agnihotri also brought up the reasons the leader of the BJP, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayeeas, was able to gain popularity.“He was a self-made man, who had very good public speaking skills … but under his leadership, the BJP was able to channel the sense of dissatisfaction, due to corruption, inflation and the increase of rapings, into political action,” she said.The second panelist presenter, Cross, changed the tone of the panel to focus on religion in India’s election, describing the significance of Hindu nationalism and how it had been utilized by politics in the past.Cross discussed how there were two ideas about running the government in regards to Hindu nationalism.“Hinduism is not just a religion, but it gives India its distinctive national identity … and that others do not have to convert but adapt and accept the sameness of the nation’s interest,” Cross said. “This was against the idea that all religions should have an equal pull in the state and focus on diversity and inclusion.“There would be a problem because the minorities could lose their security to practice their own cultures” Cross said. “Incidents of religious tensions and riots in Gujarat that were possibly led by the new PM, Modi, reveal this loss of security. This was overshadowed by Modi’s focus on economic growth, which was largely accepted, and shows that the economy is being more valued than humanity.”Cross also looked to different areas in India, such as the northeast, where there is an even larger diversity.“Problems of sameness promoted by Hindu Nationalism reveals that the conditions of people in the northeast will degenerate,” she said.Narayanan, who joined the discussion via Skype, spoke of the different influences effecting participation and voters in the 2014 Indian election.“What is shaping elections today is a bit of danger, which comes from the Americanization of the Indian election … the rise of the power of money and how it is able to influence how politics are brought out into the public domain and change the narration of debates,” Narayanan said. “My main point is that in 2009, the government was not voted out by the people, because big corporate lobbies were in favor of the government.”According to Narayanan, corruption within the system stems from inequity, which is the main problem.“Because corruption is being addressed without looking at equity technical solutions being made cannot fix the situation,” he said.The final presenter, Sapra, described the environmental policies in the post-election period.“I want to emphasize that it is not just the modern government that has not taken environmental policy seriously, but previous governments as well did not fulfill any of their promises of environment sustainability,” Sapra said.Sapra spoke of how the government’s focus on economic development overshadowed the environmental concerns.“Businesses would more often support the focus of economic interest, but many critics would stress that it is hard to separate the environmental concerns from the needs of the Indian people,” she said. “Coal mining is increasing in India, which is affecting more people because it is by the process of strip mining.“India has long maintained that it has not been largely responsible for emissions thus far and so should be able to industrialize,” she said.However, Sapra spoke of positive initiatives to clean up India that can act as generative solutions to the environmental concerns.“By 2019, the holy city of Varanasi is to be cleaned … it is interesting how initiatives are being taken up by local communities and religion,” she said.last_img read more

Men’s club rugby team continues history at USC

first_imgWhen you think of prestigious athletic programs at USC, you don’t often think of rugby.Only a few people know that the rugby team rivals football in terms of longevity. Founded in 1887, rugby was even a varsity sport before football took over.Nowadays, rugby is a club sport that plays in the Southern California Gold Coast Conference, and is comprised of 64 players who are dedicated to an underappreciated — if not forgotten –— sport on campus.Jonathan So, a senior and president of the team, is mindful of the history of rugby at USC.“The USC rugby tradition has been carried on all these years,” So said. “It feels really rewarding to be part of something that’s so old and has been around for so long.”At first glance, rugby seems like a disorganized, chaotic sport, with the ball continuously moving, bodies flying all over the place and scrums developing on every play.But beneath the surface, it is a sport that requires extreme versatility and demands respect between opponents. Unlike football, rugby players stay on the field for both offense and defense, increasing responsibility. And the continuous action is more tiring on the body and more harmonious to watch than football, where play is stopped seemingly every few seconds.“There’s a huge focus on teamwork,” So said. “I know that sounds vague, but there’s honestly a spot on the field for everyone. The positions are so diverse, and it’s definitely a ‘gentleman’s sport.’”That’s the underlying theme of rugby, which they say is a “hooligan’s game played by gentlemen” (as opposed to soccer, a “gentleman’s game played by hooligans”). Players may be trying to tackle each other in the open field without much protection, but opponents have a tremendous amount of respect for each other.Junior Corbin Bennett, the captain of the team, believes this is what sets rugby apart from other sports.“Rugby has camaraderie to it, where it’s more of a brotherhood,” Bennett said. “There’s this respect to it that you can’t describe or find a quote for unless you actually experience it yourself. That’s something so beautiful about the game, and it’s overlooked among other sports.”However, it is hard to learn to appreciate a sport if you can’t see it, which is the predicament that USC students face with rugby. The team is not allowed to play its home matches on campus, meaning it is relegated to borrowing local high school fields. This prevents them from drawing much of the student population who have been drawn in by a rugby match held on campus.“We wish we could have a wider fan base, and that’s something we’re working toward,” So said. “But it’s something that’s also very difficult, because we don’t necessarily have the resources to draw that fan base.”The team used to play at McAlister Field —  also home to women’s soccer and women’s lacrosse — but was banned after they left the field conditions “damaged and unplayable” following a match, according to a statement from USC Athletics. They practice at Cromwell Field but are unable to hold matches because the field is not regulation size.“The Athletic Department and Recreation Sports Department decided to eliminate rugby games on McAlister Field in order to protect the field’s condition and playability for its many other users,” the statement concluded.For the team, though, this feels less like a need to protect field condition and more of an unfair restriction on the oldest club sport on campus.“[The administration was] throwing [its] weight around,” So said. “It’s a little ridiculous, because the women’s rugby team is allowed to practice there, and every other club sport can use that field, but it’s specifically men’s rugby they’re complaining about. For that reason, we can’t have home games. When you can’t have games at home, it’s hard to bring a fan base out.”So said that while they have an immediate network of fans that support them and membership on the team has doubled since he was a freshman, the administration is holding them back from taking bigger steps to increase the popularity of rugby around USC. They don’t have the money for a scrum machine, a common and necessary piece of equipment in the sport. Without a place to work out, they wake up at 6 a.m. to trek to Lyon Center to avoid crowds.“Being the largest and oldest club sport in a private school, it’s a little ridiculous that Athletics is brushing us aside while all these programs [in other schools] grow around us,” So said.But the dedication and commitment remains strong, and the camaraderie even more apparent. As practice wrapped up one Wednesday last month, the players locked arms in a circle while their coach gave a pep talk. Then, they launched into a chant -— the “USC Rugby War Cry” — a loud, bellowing series of yelps in perfect harmony.“Here we are, ha, here we are, ha, SC, SC, ra ra ra, T-R-O-J-A-N-S, Trojans,” the chant ends.“The bond that rugby brings is something that is so unique about the game,” Bennett said. “It doesn’t matter your height, weight or size; somebody is going to have your back even if you just met them. It’s unlike any other sport.”It is a sport that is slowly growing on the world stage. The Rugby World Cup is the third largest sporting event in the world. Rugby sevens, a variation of rugby, will be an Olympic sport for the first time in 2016. The Professional Rugby Organization is launching North America’s first professional rugby league that will begin play in April of this year.Yet, despite the progress around them, the rugby team at USC feels stuck in the mud.“Our players are putting in the effort, but we really need the school to step up and provide us with more resources so that we can grow as the sport grows as well,” So said. “We don’t want to be left behind.”last_img read more

City were lucky but title race is over – Mourinho

first_imgManchester, United Kingdom | AFP | Jose Mourinho admitted the Premier League title race is all but over after Manchester City delivered a hammer blow to Manchester United’s challenge with a 2-1 win on Sunday.City moved 11 points clear of second-placed United as Nicolas Otamendi’s second-half strike gave the visitors a record-equalling 14th successive Premier League victory. United boss Mourinho felt Pep Guardiola’s side rode their luck at Old Trafford, with Ander Herrera booked for diving after a tackle by Otamendi that the hosts claimed was worthy of a penalty.But he conceded his old rival Guardiola is highly likely to lead City to the title.Asked if the race was over, Mourinho said: “Probably, yes.“I’m pretty sure everyone is going to fight for points and try and reduce the distance, but the advantage is a very good one.“Manchester City are a very good team and they are protected by the luck, and the gods of football are behind them.“They are lucky, they have decisions in their favour.”Mourinho was furious with referee Michael Oliver’s decision not to award a penalty for the Otamendi challenge on Herrera. “My first reaction is I feel sorry for Michael Oliver because he had a very good match but unfortunately he made an important mistake,” he said.center_img “The result was made with a big penalty not given. That would have been 2-2 with 20 minutes to go. It was a crucial mistake.”Mourinho was equally unhappy with the sloppy United defending that gifted City their goals.“They scored two goals which were quite unbelievable to concede. Two bad goals,” he said.“We did enough to win the game? It depends on your perspective. They had more of the ball and apparently more control because they kept the ball more than us.”Share on: WhatsApplast_img read more