Wednesday Briefing: Modi’s Bruising Path to a Third Term

Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India claimed a third term in office yesterday. But early results suggest his party won by a far narrower margin than expected. The aura of invincibility around Modi has been shattered.

Results indicated that Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party would still win the most parliamentary seats, but not enough for an outright majority. It will likely need smaller parties in its coalition to form a government. The outcome was a surprising setback for the B.J.P.

See live results here.

The Indian National Congress, the main opposition, was doing better than expected. The party had been seen by many as irrevocably weakened after big losses in the previous two elections. The Congress and its allies increased their margin against Modi by tapping into issues like unemployment, social justice and the prime minister’s ties to India’s billionaires.

Context: Modi will be only the second Indian leader to start a third straight term after Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister. Modi called it “a historical feat in India’s history” yesterday.

Economy: As the results became clearer, India’s stock markets plunged. By the end of trading yesterday, the markets were down 6 percent, nearly wiping out the year’s gains.


Since World War II, few countries have experienced the level of devastation that Ukraine has. But until now, the scale has been too vast to see more than a glimpse at a time.

My colleagues published the first comprehensive picture of the totality of the destruction. Using detailed analysis of years of satellite data, they created a record of each town, each street, each building that has been blown apart. In some places, like the city of Marinka, not a single resident is left. So many people have lost more than their homes. They’ve lost their communities, their histories.

“If I shut my eyes, I can see everything from my old life,” said Iryna Hrushkovksa, 34, who was born and raised in the city, adding, “But if I open my eyes, it’s all gone.”

The scale of destruction: More buildings have been destroyed in Ukraine than if every building in Manhattan were to be leveled four times over. Parts of Ukraine look like Dresden or London after World War II, or Gaza after half a year of bombardment.

HIMARS: Ukraine used a U.S.-made rocket system to destroy missile launchers inside Russia, a Ukrainian official said. The strikes came just after the U.S. granted permission for Ukraine to do so.


Israeli airstrikes in Syria killed an Iranian general who was there as an adviser, the Iranian media said. He was believed to be the first Iranian killed by Israel since the two countries almost went to war in April, after Israel bombed Iran’s embassy compound in Syria.

Iran is currently enmeshed in a leadership crisis stemming from the death of its president last month. A new wave of attacks on Israel seems unlikely. The Iranian was identified as Gen. Saeed Abyar, a member of the Quds Force, a branch of the Revolutionary Guards.

Gaza: In an interview with Time magazine, President Biden suggested that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel was prolonging the war to stay in power.

Benjamin Bolger has spent his life amassing academic degrees. He has 14 advanced degrees, including a few that took many years to complete, such as a doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

The reason for his university quest is simple: “I love learning,” he told our reporter.

China’s internet is vanishing in chunks. Posts are being removed and censored.

As of 2023, there were only 3.9 million sites, down from 5.3 million in 2017, the country’s internet regulator found. A recent post on WeChat reported that nearly all information shared on China’s internet — news portals, blogs, forums, social media sites — between 1995 and 2005 was no longer available.

While it’s costly and difficult to archive a website anywhere, internet publishers in China are under intense pressure to censor as the country has made an authoritarian turn under Xi Jinping’s leadership, Li Yuan writes in the column The New New World.

Internet companies have more incentive to over-censor and let older content disappear by not archiving.

Two weeks ago, Nanfu Wang, a documentary filmmaker, searched her name on the film review site Douban and came up with nothing. “Some of the films I directed had been deleted and banned on the Chinese internet,” she said. “But this time, I feel that I, as a part of history, have been erased.”

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