/2015

Homage To A Birdman


The Telegraph

The Urdu word ‘shareef’ has many meanings. An online dictionary offers ‘noble’, ‘gentlemanly’, and ‘civilized’, to which one can add: ‘refined; courteous; honourable; civil; civilized’. Among the most shareef men I knew was the conservationist Zafar Futehally. Raised and educated in Bombay, Futehally’s early interest in birds was furthered when he married Laeeq, niece of the [...]

Why Liberals Must Support A Common Civil Code


The Telegraph

Thirty years ago this fortnight, the Supreme Court passed its famous judgment in the Shah Bano case. A Muslim man had divorced his wife and stopped providing for her maintenance. The brave woman fought the injustice all the way to the highest court of the land. Finally, on the 23rd of April 1985, a five judge [...]

Traveling With Tagore


Penguin Classics

Rammohan Roy was able to assimilate the ideals of Europe so completely because he was not overwhelmed by them; there was no poverty or weakness on his side. He had ground of his own on which he could take his stand and where he could secure his acquisitions. The true wealth of India was not hidden [...]

Where Are The Conservative Intellectuals in India


Caravan (March 2015)

There is a paradox at the heart of Indian public life today: that while the country has a right-wing party in power, right-wing intellectuals run thinly on the ground. This makes India an exception among the world’s established democracies. The United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany all have a long lineage of first-rate intellectuals on [...]

The Best Indian Fielding Side Ever


Hindustan Times

As one grows older, one forgets what happened last week or last month. But memories from one’s youth stay for ever. I can see, as I write, Alvin Kallicharan trying to on-drive Bishan Bedi in the Delhi Test of 1974. He gets a leading edge, and, as the ball balloons up into the off-side, I hear [...]

By |2015-04-06T17:00:34+00:00March 15th, 2015|Categories: Culture|Tags: , |

Judging The Judges


The Telegraph

Here, in full, is a recent news item in a New Delhi newspaper: ‘When former Chief Justice of India and current Kerala Governor P Sathasivam came to Delhi to attend the wedding reception of BJP chief Amit Shah, he also reached out to various government functionaries to explore the possibility of a Delhi posting — either [...]

Two Leaders and Their Parties


The Telegraph

I visit Delhi half a dozen times a year. I was most recently there from February 5th to 11th, to fulfil commitments made several months ago, these fortuitously coinciding with the casting and counting of votes in the Delhi elections. Naturally, all my conversations, with friends and strangers alike, were about their party preferences in the [...]

How Gandhi’s Martyrdom Saved India


Hindustan Times

On the 31st of January 1948, a former Indian Civil Service officer named Malcolm Darling, then living in retirement in London, wrote in his diary: ‘Gandhi was assassinated yesterday. … Very difficult to say what will happen, but it is as if a ship has lost its keel. Further disintegration seems inevitable, and what happens to [...]

Seven Threats To Freedom Of Expression


The Telegraph

India, I have long maintained, is a fifty-fifty democracy. In some respects—such as free and fair elections, free movement of people—we are as democratic as any other country in the world. In other respects we lag noticeably behind. One such area is the freedom of expression. The first threat to freedom of expression is the retention [...]

History As Myth Myth As History


Hindustan Times

In the early years of this century, people—within and outside India—began speaking of our country emerging as a ‘knowledge superpower’. The proximate reason for this was the country’s then rising software industry. As that sturdy bellwether of the conventional wisdom, Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, wrote in 2005, India, once ‘known as a country [...]

By |2015-02-21T13:22:16+00:00January 18th, 2015|Categories: Politics and Current Affairs|Tags: , , , |