/Politics and Current Affairs

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

The Perilous State of Press Freedom in India Today


The Telegraph

In 1824, the Government of Bengal (which was then in the hands of the East India Company) issued an Ordinance placing strict curbs on the freedom of the press. This gave the government the powers to cancel a newspaper’s license without any explanation. The Ordinance provoked outrage among the intelligentsia of Kolkata, active in editing and [...]

Why Modi has Failed India


NDTV.com

Last week, the respected US rating agency Moody’s downgraded India’s sovereign rating to Baa3, the lowest grade. It thereby joined Standard and Poor and Fitch, which had already relegated India to the bottom rung in this regard. Explaining their decision, Moody’s said: ‘While today’s action is taken in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, it was [...]

Why our Classical Music may be the Best Antidote to our Chauvinism


The Telegraph

Most evenings, I knock off from work and listen to Indian classical music for an hour or so before dinner. In the past, I would play CDs or cassettes I had collected over the years; now, I forage through the capacious repository that is YouTube. Sometimes I select an artist or a particular raga; at other [...]

The Folly and Vanity of The Project to Redesign New Delhi


The Wire

Six years ago, the then editor of the Hindustan Times invited me to write a fortnightly column. I agreed, on condition that there would be no censorship. While occasionally some changes to my text were made without my consent, there was no attempt to get me to rewrite my column or change its arguments. Until this [...]

Get The Best Minds on Board


Hindustan Times

Years ago, working in the archives in New Delhi, I came across a brief, handwritten, letter from Jawaharlal Nehru to C. Rajagopalachari. It was dated 30th July 1947, and it read: ‘My dear Rajaji, This is to remind you that you have to approach Shanmukham Chetty—this must be done soon. I have seen Ambedkar and he [...]

Standing With Gandhi in Ahmedabad


Hindustan Times

On 30th January I was in Ahmedabad, a city that was central to Mahatma Gandhi’s life and work. It was here that he established the most celebrated of his ashrams, on the banks of the Sabarmati River; here that he revised and refined his moral and political philosophy; here that he conceived and planned the Rowlatt [...]

By |2020-03-25T21:44:14+00:00February 9th, 2020|Categories: Politics and Current Affairs, Culture|Tags: |

The Fourth Crisis of The Republic


Hindustan Times

As I have written before, if India had been a start-up in August 1947 not even the most venturesome of venture capitalists would have invested in it. No new nation was born in more inhospitable circumstances. The Partition of the country had been awful enough, in the scale of its violence and the mass displacement of [...]

By |2020-03-25T21:35:48+00:00January 26th, 2020|Categories: History, Politics and Current Affairs|Tags: , , , , |

Why There is No Team Modi – Because There Can Only Be a Brand Modi


The Telegraph

In December 2018, I was having lunch with an entrepreneur-friend who works closely with the Central Government. The BJP had just lost state elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chattisgarh, putting three Chief Ministers out of office and out of work. I suggested to the entrepreneur that when the Prime Minister won re-election the following May [...]

By |2020-03-25T21:25:35+00:00January 18th, 2020|Categories: Politics and Current Affairs|Tags: , , |

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: , , , |