Homage To A Birdman, The Telegraph [Saturday, May 2nd, 2015]

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 [...]

 
 
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  Why Liberals Must Support A Common Civil Code, The Telegraph [Saturday, April 18th, 2015]

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 [...]

 
 
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  Traveling With Tagore, Penguin Classics [Wednesday, April 15th, 2015]

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 [...]

 
 
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  Where Are The Conservative Intellectuals in India, Caravan (March 2015) [Friday, March 20th, 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 [...]

 
 
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  The Best Indian Fielding Side Ever, Hindustan Times [Sunday, March 15th, 2015]

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 [...]

 
 
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  Judging The Judges, The Telegraph [Saturday, March 7th, 2015]

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 — [...]

 
 
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  Two Leaders and Their Parties, The Telegraph [Saturday, February 21st, 2015]

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 [...]

 
 
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  How Gandhi’s Martyrdom Saved India, Hindustan Times [Sunday, February 1st, 2015]

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 [...]

 
 
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  Seven Threats To Freedom Of Expression, The Telegraph [Saturday, January 24th, 2015]

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 [...]

 
 
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  History As Myth Myth As History, Hindustan Times [Sunday, January 18th, 2015]

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 [...]

 
 
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