/Politics and Current Affairs

Politics and Current Affairs reproduces writings on secularism, majoritarianism, diversity, and other contentious themes in contemporary India.

Why Authoritarianism is Bad for Science


But Bigotry is Even Worse

There have been many protests against the Citizenship Amendment Bill (now Act), and there will be many more. This piece of legislation strikes at the heart of the Constitution, seeking to make India another country altogether. It is thus that so many people from so many different walks of life have raised their voices against it. [...]

From Indo-Pak to Chindia and Back Again to Indo-Pak


Hindustan Times

On 26th January 2006, the New York Times ran a story headlined ‘India Everywhere in the Alps’. The story began: ‘Delhi swept into Davos on Wednesday, with an extravagant public relations campaign by India intended to promote the country as the world's next economic superstar, and as a democratic alternative to China for the affections of [...]

By |2019-12-22T18:32:07+00:00December 15th, 2019|Categories: Politics and Current Affairs|Tags: , , , |

History Against Sectarianism


The Telegraph

In December 1947, the annual Indian History Congress was held in Bombay. The President-elect that year was Professor Mohammad Habib of the Aligarh Muslim University, a historian of early medieval India, known especially for his studies of the Delhi Sultanate. From the late 1930s, many students and faculty at AMU had been active supporters of M. [...]

Gandhi and The RSS: The Historical Record


The Telegraph

This column appears days before the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. That anniversary shall be observed at a time when a former pracharark of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh is the country’s Prime Minister, and when the RSS exercises a hegemonic hold over our political and social life. On 2nd October, nice things will be said [...]

By |2019-10-17T01:30:22+00:00September 28th, 2019|Categories: History, Politics and Current Affairs|Tags: , , , |

The Multiple Tragedies of The Kashmiri Pandits


Hindustan Times

When the ethnic cleansing of the Kashmiri Pandits took place, I was based in Delhi, working at the Institute of Economic Growth. The IEG’s Director was the eminent sociologist Triloki Nath Madan, who had been born and raised in the Valley, and gone on to write a classic ethnography of Pandit life. Professor Madan’s brother, himself [...]

The Liquid That Will Determine Our Future


The Telegraph

Many years ago, I came across this striking definition of ecological responsibility: ‘If we produce everything we want from within a limited area, we are in a position to supervise the methods of production; while if we draw our requirements from the ends of the earth it becomes impossible for us to guarantee the conditions of [...]

Why Sonia Gandhi Should Read Ibn Khaldun


The Telegraph

In January 2013, when the Congress was in power at the Centre and General Elections were more than a year away, I published a column on Rahul Gandhi in the Telegraph. After reviewing his political career over the past decade, I wrote: ‘The nicest thing one can say about Mr Rahul Gandhi is that he is [...]

Godse Worship Goes Mainstream


Hindustan Times

In the early 1990s, the veteran Gandhian Dr Sushila Nayar, was in the temple town of Ayodhya, on a mission to promote communal harmony. At an inter-faith prayer meeting she led the singing of a hymn much beloved of the Mahatma, ‘Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram’. When she came to the line ‘Ishwar Allah Tero Naam’, a [...]

The Modi Government’s War On The Intellect


The Telegraph

A term greatly beloved of the Modi Government is ‘surgical strike’. It was first invoked in September 2016, after a cross-border raid undertaken by the Indian Army on camps in Pakistan. In November of the same year, the Prime Minister’s sudden, catalysmic, withdrawal of the Rs 1000 and Rs 500 currrency notes was also termed a [...]

In Praise Of the Dalai Lama


The Telegraph

In the last week of March 1959—exactly sixty years ago—the Dalai Lama fled to India, after a rebellion by his fellow Tibetans had been brutally crushed by the Chinese military. He entered what is now Arunachal Pradesh, and was then known as the North East Frontier Agency. He was riding a yak, and suffering from acute [...]