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, Meena Kandasamy and Barkha Dutt as they talk politics and religion in the world’s largest democracy.
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.
Barkha Dutt is an award-winning journalist and writer with over two decades of reporting experience. India's only Emmy-nominated journalist, she became a household name with her front line reporting of the Kargil conflict between India and Pakistan. She has reported from some of the most dangerous spots across the world, including Kashmir, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya and Egypt.
Dutt has been awarded with the Padma Shri, India's fourth highest civilian honour. She was the host of India's longest-running television show, We The People, for 16 years, and is the winner of more than 40 national and international media awards.
She writes for the Washington Post and Hindustan Times, and is a contributing editor for The Week magazine. This year, she turned entrepreneur and started her own digital and events venture called Mojo. Her first book, This Unquiet Land – Stories from India's Fault Lines is a bestseller that was released to critical acclaim.
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.
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Sally Warhaft has been the Wheeler Centre’s in-house news anchor since 2012. The anthropologist, broadcaster and intrepid interviewer’s fortnightly live series continues in 2017 as she responds to the most important stories of the day and reignites those that have fallen off the front pages. Every second Tuesday, Sally hosts a dizzying array of guests from the worlds of politics, culture, international relations and beyond, in a witty and revealing analysis of current affairs. Topical guests are announced in the weeks prior to events: keep an eye on our website (or in the Wheeler Weekly) for updates.
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