A SALUTE TO THE COFFEE HOUSE, The Telegraph [Saturday, September 29th, 2007]

Surfing the Net, I came across an essay by a Swedish writer on the social significance of my favourite stimulant. Jacob Norberg’s ‘No Coffee’, published in Eurozine (see www.eurozine.com) explores the role played by the café in modern European society. Following the German thinker Jurgen Habermas, Norberg argues that to drink a cup of coffee [...]

 
 
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  DEGREES OF DEGRADATION, The Telegraph [Saturday, September 1st, 2007]

In recent years, there has been a sharp decline in standards of political debate in India. In and out of Parliament, issues concerning the public good are rarely discussed logically or dispassionately. The arguments more often reflect ideological prejudice or personal hostility rather than rational thought. The degradation has been palpable for some time now; [...]

 
 
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  SMALL STATE, LARGE NATION, The Hindu [Sunday, August 19th, 2007]

Goa is the youngest part of India, having joined the Union only in December 1961. It is the smallest state in the country; one can drive across it in less than a day. It is one of the least populous, having less than two million people. And it is one of the most interesting. The [...]

 
 
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  ADIVASIS, NAXALITES, AND INDIAN DEMOCRACY, Economic and Political Weekly [Saturday, August 11th, 2007]

On 13th December 1946, Jawaharlal Nehru moved the Objectives Resolution in the Constituent Assembly of India. This proclaimed that the soon-to-be-free nation would be an ‘Independent Sovereign Republic’. Its Constitution would guarantee citizens ‘justice, social, economic and political; equality of status; of opportunity, and before the law; freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith, worship, vocation, [...]

 
 
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  OPEN SEASON ON GANDHI AND NEHRU, Hindustan Times [Tuesday, July 24th, 2007]

We Indians are very insecure about our heroes. A scholar who retold, without endorsing them, some old stories about Shivaji’s parentage found his book banned and burnt. A writer who made some disparaging remarks about Rabindranath Tagore was censured by the West Bengal Assembly. Another writer was roughed up after he wrote a (admittedly nasty) [...]

 
 
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  CHURCHILL PÉRE AND INDIA, The Hindu [Sunday, July 22nd, 2007]

In the last days of 1884, an English politician named Randolph Churchill landed in Bombay. Then in his mid thirties, he was a rising star of the Conservative Party, who had made his name by a series of withering attacks on the policies in Africa of the great Liberal Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone. Churchill [...]

 
 
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  TWO CHEERS FOR BLASPHEMY, Hindustan Times [Friday, June 29th, 2007]

How one reads the protests by the Governments of Iran and Pakistan at Salman Rushdie being made a knight depends on where one is placed on the political spectrum. Those who incline to the right might dismiss it as yet another illustration of the illiberalism of Islam. On the other hand, some on the left [...]

 
 
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  FIVE OF THE BEST, The Hindu [Sunday, June 10th, 2007]

Choosing a cricket team (real or hypothetical) is an exercise fraught with danger, for you and me as much as for the chairman of selectors. Where the chairman of selectors is interrogated by the media, you and me are chastised by our friends, an experience that is scarcely more pleasant for being more private. In [...]

 
 
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  POWER WOMEN OF NORTH AND SOUTH, The Telegraph [Saturday, May 26th, 2007]

The day the U. P. election results came in I was having lunch with a friend in Mumbai. ‘Mayawati appears to be the Jayalalithaa of the South’, he said, before passing on to other matters. But his remark stayed with me; the more I thought about it, the more the comparison made sense. Mayawati and [...]

 
 
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  WHO IS A PATRIOT? , The Telegraph [Saturday, May 12th, 2007]

The novelist U. R. Anantha Murthy has long objected to the characterization of the Sangh Parivar as the ‘saffron brigade’. Saffron is a beautiful colour, the colour of renunciation, worn by monks and others of great and good character. Why should we cede it so easily to a bunch of bigots? To me, at any [...]

 
 
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