/Politics and Current Affairs

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

THE IMPURITY OF CULTURES


The Hindu

In the 1950s, inspired by Jawaharlal Nehru, some very brilliant young Indians went into the Foreign Service. Among them was the Rhodes scholar Peter Lynn Sinai. A former Ambassador to Austria and Iraq, Mr Sinai has now chosen to make his home in Bangalore. At a dinner recently, I got talking to him, to discover that [...]

THE NORTH-EAST AND THE NATION


The Telegraph

Earlier this year I spent ten days travelling through three states of north-eastern India. My journey began in Manipur, where, on my first night, I had dinner with a bunch of academics and journalists. The humour on display was black: it was aimed chiefly at the two agencies that between them control and dominate the Imphal [...]

By |2011-10-07T23:44:58+00:00June 21st, 2008|Categories: Politics and Current Affairs|Tags: , , , , |

HOW NOT TO FIGHT EXTREMISM


Hindustan Times

In the spring of 1990, a great Indian patriot, the liberal jurist V. M. Tarkunde, led a team of independent citizens on a study tour of the Kashmir Valley. Many cases of police and army excesses were reported to them: beatings (sometimes of children), torture (of men innocent of any crime), extra-judicial (or ‘encounter’) killings, and [...]

WATCHING THE WATCHDOG


The Telegraph

The formal institutions of Indian democracy are not especially marked by the capacity for self-correction and self-criticism. One fact should make this clear—that no senior politician, civil servant, or judge has ever been successfully convicted for corruption or abuse of power. What then of that great informal institution of Indian democracy, the press? Is there a [...]

THE RISE AND FALL OF INDIAN ENVIRONMENTALISM


Hindustan Times

Thirty-five years ago this week, a group of peasants in the upper Alakananda Valley stopped a group of loggers from felling a patch of forest. That act of protest gave birth to the Chipko Andolan and, by extension, to the Indian environmental movement. Through the 1970s, other peasants in the Himalya successfully prevented other loggers from [...]

TOWARDS A GENDER-SENSITIVE CIVIL CODE


Hindustan Times

Article 44 of the Constitution of India reads: ‘The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India’. The first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, and the first Law Minister, Dr B. R. Ambedkar, were both modernists who wished to reform archaic personal laws and bring them [...]

By |2011-10-07T22:17:02+00:00December 13th, 2007|Categories: Politics and Current Affairs|Tags: , , , , |

SELECTIVE RIGHTEOUSNESS


The Telegraph

A mail arrived in my Inbox last week, as part of a circular sent to many people with some connection to the press. Addressed to ‘the Chief Editor/ Photographer’, it read: ‘We request you to cover the demonstration that AIDWA is organizing against the violence perpetrated on a (sic) tribal women in Assam at 1.30 pm [...]

THE KLEPTOCRAT AND THE DEMOCRAT


The Telegraph

In September I was in the United States, travelling around the cities of the East Coast. The exiled Pakistani politician Benazir Bhutto had been there a few weeks previously, visiting the same cities and frequently speaking at the same venues (albeit to much larger and more interested audiences). Besides academics and policy makers, Ms Bhutto also [...]

RECALLING AN EARLIER FAILURE


The Telegraph

On my first trip to New York—back in the mid 1980s—I made a visit to the United Nations, an institution then held in somewhat higher esteem than it is now. In the plaza outside a demonstration was in progress. The protesters were Afghan men, their nationality manifest in their dress—they wore flowing pyjamas, a long loose [...]

DEGREES OF DEGRADATION


The Telegraph

In recent years, there has been a sharp decline in standards of political debate in India. In and out of Parliament, issues concerning the public good are rarely discussed logically or dispassionately. The arguments more often reflect ideological prejudice or personal hostility rather than rational thought. The degradation has been palpable for some time now; but [...]