India has exploded into protests against a citizenship law that explicitly discriminates against its 200 million-strong Muslim population. Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government has responded with police firing on demonstrators and assaults on university campuses.
The global wildfire of street protests, from Sudan to Chile, Lebanon to Hong Kong, has finally reached the country whose 1.3 billion population is mostly below the age of 25. The social, political, and economic implications couldn’t be more serious.
It was only last month that students on the campus of Hong Kong Polytechnic University were throwing petrol bombs at the police, and fielding, in turn, teargas, rubber bullets and water cannons.
This violent resistance to an authoritarian state is novel to Hong Kong. The Umbrella Movement that in 2014 first expressed a mass sentiment for greater autonomy from Beijing was strikingly peaceful. The campaigners for democracy in Hong Kong today have also traveled very far away from the Chinese students who occupied Tiananmen Square in 1989, and to whom they have been wrongly compared.