Politics and Current Affairs
Politics and Current Affairs reproduces writings on secularism, modernity democracy, diversity, and other contentious themes in contemporary India.
  Speaking Satire To Power, The Telegraph [Saturday, July 21st, 2018]

Milan Kundera once spoke of the importance, for subjects of a totalitarian regime, of  ‘the struggle of memory against forgetting.’ As important, to the  citizens of a (professedly) democratic regime, is the struggle of satire against power. Rahul Gandhi has been the butt of jokes ever since he entered politics, and, more recently, Narendra Modi [...]

 
 
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  Three Things Karl Marx Got Mostly Right, Hindustan Times [Saturday, May 5th, 2018]

In the course of doing two degrees in economics I was taught to regard Karl Marx as, in the words of the Nobel Laureate Paul Samuelson, a ‘minor post-Ricardian’. His labour theory of value was rejected by my teachers; and his predictions about the immiserization of the proletariat and the imminent death of capitalism appeared [...]

 
 
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  Between Rectitude And Responsibility, The Telegraph [Saturday, April 14th, 2018]

One of my closest male friends is a senior IAS officer, now retired. He belongs to a family of scholars and public servants, and has degrees from two of the world’s great universities. He has some special areas of expertise, such as education and health, and speaks four Indian languages fluently. With these skills, and [...]

 
 
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  Choosing The Ten Greatest Indians, Hindustan Times [Sunday, April 8th, 2018]

When, in August 2017, India marked the seventieth year of its freedom from British colonial rule, the Hindustan Times did a series of long stories on seventy of this and seventy of that: the seventy best books written since Independence, the seventy greatest sportspersons since Independence, the seventy finest films since Independence, the seventy most [...]

 
 
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  A Forgotten Precursor To The Rushdie Affair, The Telegraph [Saturday, October 14th, 2017]

In the winter of 1988-9, there occurred what became known as the ‘Rushdie Affair’. Salman Rushdie had just published his novel The Satanic Verses, which orthodox Muslims denounced as having defamed the image of Prophet Muhammad. In Iran, the fundamentalist cleric Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa on the writer’s life. In the country of Rushdie’s [...]

 
 
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  When JRD Tata Called For a Strong Opposition, Hindustan Times [Monday, September 25th, 2017]

On 15th May 1961, the politician C. Rajagopalachari wrote to the industrialist J. R. D. Tata, asking him to support the newly formed Swatantra Party. A patriot of impeccable pedigree, ‘Rajaji’ had started Swatantra to provide effective opposition to the ruling Congress party, which he saw as insensitive to economic and political realities, and dominated [...]

 
 
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  Anti-Intellectualism In American And Indian Life, The Telegraph [Saturday, September 16th, 2017]

Books set in other countries and published at other times can sometimes be strikingly relevant to India today. This is certainly the case with Richard Hofstadter’s Anti-Intellectualism in American Life, published in 1963. I first read this book as a doctoral student thirty years ago, and re-read it recently. As a professor at one of [...]

 
 
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  The Struggles Of A Muslim Modernizer, The Telegraph [Saturday, July 8th, 2017]

In different but complementary ways, the debate on triple talaq, and the debate on cow slaughter, both demonstrate the medievalist mindset of modern India. Why, when even the Islamic Republic of Pakistan has abolished the pernicious practice of triple talaq, has India not done so? Largely because the leadership of Indian Muslims is in the [...]

 
 
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  Why This Revival Of Hindu Chauvinism?, Hindustan Times [Sunday, July 2nd, 2017]

Some years ago, I was at a literary meeting in Bhubaneshwar. Odia had just been declared the sixth classical language in India, after Tamil, Sanskrit, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam. My scholarly hosts were naturally delighted; one taking particular pleasure in imagining how President Pranab Mukherjee felt when he signed the relevant file, since his mother [...]

 
 
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  The Resource That Will Determine Our Future, Hindustan Times [Sunday, March 26th, 2017]

The ecologist Jayanta Bandyopadhyay once wrote that water, not oil, was the resource whose availability and quality would determine India’s future. I recalled that remark when reading a report recently submitted to the Government of India, entitled, A 21st Century Institutional Architecture for India’s Water Reforms. Rigorously researched and closely agued, this report displays a [...]

 
 
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