Why Bengal Is To India What France Is To The World, The Telegraph [Tuesday, December 29th, 2015]

In a book published some years ago, the sociologist Rabindra Ray observed that Bengalis were so obsessed with intellecual pursuits that even their swear words reflected this. In other parts of India, the most common form of abuse dealt with incest—you accused someone you disliked or were quarrelling with of sleeping with his mother or [...]

 
 
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  Why Can’t The Congress Dump The Nehru-Gandhis, The Telegraph [Saturday, December 26th, 2015]

In May 2014, General Elections were held in India as well as in the United Kingdom, the country whose electoral system we adopted as our own. In the UK, the Labour Party got 232 seats, twenty-four seats less than it had obtained in 2010. The Labour leader, Ed Milliband, resigned at once, owning responsibility for [...]

 
 
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  Narendra Modi And The RSS,The Telegraph [Saturday, December 12th, 2015]

Shortly after the 2014 Indian elections, I wrote that although the new Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, was ‘an economic modernizer, in cultural terms he remains a prisoner of the reactionary (not to say medievalist) mind-set of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh’. Inside Mr Modi’s mind and soul, these two contrary impulses were fighting for dominance. Which [...]

 
 
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  Are We Becoming An Election Only Democracy?, Hindustan Times [Sunday, November 29th, 2015]

For some time now, Indian democracy has been corroded by what the sociologist André Béteille terms ‘the chronic mistrust between government and opposition’. Parliament meets rarely— when it does, it resembles a dusty akhara more than the stately chamber of discussion it was meant to be. In television studios, representatives of ruling and opposition parties [...]

 
 
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  A Green and Pleasant Land, The Telegraph [Saturday, November 28th, 2015]

Some twenty years ago, my wife and I called on Nirad Chaudhuri at his home in Oxford. The great little writer was happy to see us, but less pleased with my wife’s apparel. ‘That [chooridar kurta] is an Islamic dress’, he barked, ‘in Bengal we [Hindu men] would never allow our women to wear it’. [...]

 
 
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  Why Gandhi Would Have Been Appalled By The “Gandhi-Mandela Trophy”, The Telegraph [Saturday, October 31st, 2015]

India and South Africa have just concluded a five match one-day series for the ‘Gandhi-Mandela Trophy’. Next week, they will commence the first of four Tests for a trophy carrying the same name. When, back in August, this new trophy was announced, a friend said it was a case of small men wishing to look [...]

 
 
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  A 19th Century Politics For a 21st Century State, Hindustan Times [Sunday, October 25th, 2015]

Some years ago, I edited an anthology of Indian political thought, profiling nineteen individual thinkers. The usual suspects—Gokhale, Tilak, Phule, Gandhi, Nehru, Ambedkar, Lohia, JP, Periyar—featured, but also some less conventional choices. One of these was Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, sarsanghchalak of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh between 1940 and 1973. My inclusion of Golwalkar in an [...]

 
 
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  The Dark and Desperate State of Uttar Pradesh, Hindustan Times [Sunday, October 11th, 2015]

A recent report in the Financial Times, caught my eye. Headlined ‘India advert for tea boys and guards attracts 2.3m applicants’, it spoke of the desperate desire for a government job among the young men of India’s largest state. Earlier this year, the Uttar Pradesh Government had placed an advertisement for 368 Class IV posts [...]

 
 
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  The Enduring Charm Of Independent Bookstores, Hindustan Times [Sunday, September 27th, 2015]

For many years now, I have spent much of my time, and most of my money, on books bought in stores owned by individuals rather than corporations. Within India, I had four favourite bookstores; Premier’s in Bangalore, Fact & Fiction in Delhi, Ram Advani in Lucknow, and Giggles in Chennai. The store I knew best [...]

 
 
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  Why Canada May Be The World’s Most Underrated Country, Hindustan Times [Sunday, September 13th, 2015]

The President of the United States is the most powerful person in the world. This is why every Presidential campaign attracts such wide attention, both the primaries of the two main parties and then the election itself. The campaign for the 2016 election is in its early stages. A candidate who has made a striking [...]

 
 
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