/Politics and Current Affairs

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

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: , , , |

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 [...]