/2016

A Contemporary View Of Nehru and Patel


Hindustan Times

My home town, Bengaluru, has the country’s best second-hand bookstores. For decades now, they have sustained me in a personal and professional sense, providing materials for my bed-time reading as well as rare documents for my research. In one of these stores I recently picked up an old book that served both purposes. This was A. [...]

By |2016-12-01T23:21:24+00:00November 5th, 2016|Categories: Biography|Tags: , |

A Privileged Peep Into Gandhi’s Inbox


The Telegraph

Mohandas K. Gandhi’s own writings are well known to the world: through a series of books and anthologies under his name that appeared in his lifetime; and, more authoritatively and substantively, through the ninety-seven volumes of the Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, published between 1958 and 1994, and put together and lovingly edited by a team [...]

Why We Must Listen To JP On Kashmir


Hindustan Times

On the 4th of October 1966—almost exactly fifty years ago—the great Indian democrat Jayaprakash Narayan spoke at a seminar on Kashmir held in New Delhi. The Valley was in turmoil; the popular leader Sheikh Abdullah was under arrest, and the State Government was widely believed to be both incompetent and corrupt. ‘JP’ began his talk by [...]

A Modest Proposal To Improve Governance


Hindustan Times

The Harvard economist Lant Pritchett has called India a ‘flailing state’. The signs are all around us; in the decaying government schools and the declining public hospitals, in the apathy and incompetence of the police, in the shocking state of our roads and transport systems, in the fouling of our air and water. There is also [...]

How Mining Corrodes Democracy


The Telegraph

When the new millennium dawned, the poster boy of economic liberalization in my home state, Karnataka, was N. R. Narayana Murthy. A man from a middle-class home, with no tradition of entrepreneurship in his family, Narayana Murthy got together with six other like-minded individuals to found a company named Infosys. Starting from modest beginnings in Puné, [...]

Indian Marxists And Their Selective Outrage


The Telegraph

In a recent essay in the Times Literary Supplement, the Egyptian writer Ahdaf Soueif marvelled at the unending flood of books and essays on the Palestinians, these the work of Palestinians themselves, but also of Israelis, Americans, South Africans, Britons, Danes, and, as it happens, Indians. Here Souief remarked: ‘It took five decades, but now it’s [...]

By |2016-09-23T09:25:11+00:00August 6th, 2016|Categories: Politics and Current Affairs|Tags: , , , , |

Looting The Himalaya – And The Himalayans


The Telegraph

In recent months, Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh have been in the news. In both states, elected Governments run by the Congress have been destabilized by the ruling party at the Centre, and then dismissed by complicit Governors. In both states, the Congress was able to get succour from the Courts, although how enduring their now restored [...]

When Progressives Turn Reactionary


Hindustan Times

In the conventional wisdom, the Right stands for Order, the Left for Change. The Right defends Hierarchy and Authority, the Left demands Justice and Equality. The Right is for and of the Establishment, the Left is for and of the Aam Admi (and Aam Aurat). These stereotypes are not entirely without foundation. The abolition of aristrocratic [...]

The Seductions Of Self Praise


The Telegraph

Last week, to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the liberalization process, the Indian Express carried a long interview with Dr Manmohan Singh, Finance Minister at the time the reforms took shape. Those were Dr Singh’s finest years in public office; now, in semi-retirement, after an indifferent (if not disastrous) second term as Prime Minister, one might [...]

By |2016-08-11T17:30:54+00:00July 9th, 2016|Categories: Politics and Current Affairs|Tags: , , , |

Five Lessons For Indian Democrats


Hindustan Times

Late last year, I wrote in these columns that we were in danger of becoming an ‘elections-only democracy’. Once a party or coalition wins an Assembly or General Election, it considers itself immune from criticism for the next five years. The other instruments of democratic accountability: legislative debate, judicial oversight, a free press (and free speech [...]