The Fifth Estate
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In 2014, Narendra Modi swept into power as Prime Minister of India; he did so on a pro-business, pro-development platform and on a wave of Hindu nationalism.
It was a spectacular victory and, if the decisive recent state election results for his party in Uttar Pradesh are any indication, he remains a popular figure with many Indians – around 80% of whom are Hindus – several years into his leadership.
But India is a country with significant populations of religious minorities. Among other religious groups, especially Muslims, and among some concerned Hindu Indians too, there is deep concern about the rising tide of Hindu nationalism in the population. Of particular concern are Modi’s alignment with the extremist nationalist groups, his history of turning a blind-eye to acts of right-wing violence and vigilantism and the growing culture of media censorship.
Join authors Shashi Tharoor and Meena Kandasamy as they talk politics and religion in the world’s largest democracy. (Barkha Dutt will no longer be appearing at Melbourne Writers Festival.)
Presented in partnership with Melbourne Writers Festival.
Sally Warhaft is a Melbourne broadcaster, anthropologist and writer and the host of the Wheeler Centre’s live journalism series, the Fifth Estate, now in its sixth year. She is a former editor of the Monthly magazine and the author of the bestselling book Well May We Say: The Speeches that Made Australia.
Meena Kandasamy is a poet, fiction writer, translator and activist who lives in London. She has published two collections of poetry, Touch and Ms. Militancy, and has performed her work at literature festivals around the world. The Gypsy Goddess, her critically acclaimed novel about the 1968 Kilvenmani massacre of 44 Dalit agricultural labourers in Tanjore, was chosen as the Independent’s debut of the year and shortlisted for several awards.
Her second novel, When I Hit You: Or, The Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife was published this year. She was a fellow of the international writing program at the University of Iowa in 2009, and a British Council Charles Wallace fellow in 2011. She holds a PhD in sociolinguistics and has written for Al Jazeera, the Hindu, India Today, Himal and Newsweek’s Middle East edition, among other places. Her work has appeared in 18 languages.
Shashi Tharoor is an award-winning author of 16 fiction and nonfiction books, a politician and former international civil servant. Tharoor’s books include the path-breaking satire The Great Indian Novel, the classic India: From Midnight to the Millennium and the visionary Pax Indica: India and the World of the 21st Century. His latest book, Inglorious Empire, was released in 2017.
He has won numerous literary awards, including a Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. Now a second-term Lok Sabha Member of Parliament representing Thiruvananthapuram, and chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs, he served as Minister of State for human resource development and external affairs in the Government of India. During his nearly three-decade-long career at the United Nations, he served as a peacekeeper, refugee worker and administrator at the highest levels, serving as Under-Secretary General during Kofi Annan’s leadership.
Our long-running current affairs series, The Fifth Estate, is a mainstay of the Wheeler Centre programme. With our in-house news anchor Sally Warhaft at the helm, it's a series of in-depth conversations with guests from the world of politics, culture, journalism and international relations. It's free, it's fortnightly and it's rigorous long-form interviewing at its best.
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