/Politics and Current Affairs

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

The Seductions Of Self Praise, The Telegraph

Last week, to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the liberalization process, the Indian Express carried a long interview with Dr Manmohan Singh, Finance Minister at the time the reforms took shape. Those were Dr Singh’s finest years in public office; now, in semi-retirement, after an indifferent (if not disastrous) second term as Prime Minister, one might [...]

By |2016-08-11T17:30:54+00:00July 9th, 2016|Categories: Politics and Current Affairs|Tags: , , , |

Five Lessons For Indian Democrats, Hindustan Times

Late last year, I wrote in these columns that we were in danger of becoming an ‘elections-only democracy’. Once a party or coalition wins an Assembly or General Election, it considers itself immune from criticism for the next five years. The other instruments of democratic accountability: legislative debate, judicial oversight, a free press (and free speech [...]

The Press In India: Somewhere Between Free and Unfree

In the first half of 1988, I was doing research in Uttarakhand, when news came of the murder of a brave young journalist from the region. His name was Umesh Dobhal, and he had published a series of articles exposing the link between the liqour mafia, the police and excise departments, and local politicians. He was [...]

The Mahatma On Medicine, The Telegraph

I belong to a family of doctors trained in modern or Western medicine. Back in the 1980s, the doctors I was related to, or friends with, were all sceptical of alternative forms of health care. They had no time for homeopathy, ayurveda or acupuncture, no time even for yoga. Over the decades their attitudes have changed. [...]

Words From An Open Mind To A Closed Or Sealed One, Hindustan Times

A once great but now mostly forgotten Bangalorean was Mirza Ismail. A distinguished Dewan of both Mysore and Jaipur, in those princely states he reformed and modernized the administration, beautified their capital cities, and emphasized modern education. In both Jaipur and Mysore, there are roads named after him, as well as charming markets that he had [...]

The Government Of-By-And For The Slogan, Hindustan Times

At its recent meeting, the National Executive of the Bharatiya Janata Party passed a political resolution, a passage of which read: ‘Our Constitution describes India as Bharat also, [hence] refusal to chant victory to Bharat is tantamount to disrespect to our Constitution itself. Bharat Mata ki Jai is not merely a slogan. It was a mantra [...]

The Mysterious Makeover of Mr Modi, The Telegraph

As Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi was known to run a tight ship. He was in total command of his Cabinet, and interacted regularly with senior civil servants. He had some special areas of focus; such as attracting new investment, building better roads, and assuring regular water and power supply to farmers. In these areas, [...]

By |2016-04-10T22:16:34+00:00March 20th, 2016|Categories: Politics and Current Affairs|Tags: , , , |

Why The Dalai Lama May Be India’s Noblest Resident, Hindustan Times

Unlike the airport in my home town, Bengaluru, or the airports in two cities I visit often, Mumbai and Delhi, the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose airport in Kolkata is run not by a private firm but by the Airports Authority of India. This must be why, unlike in Bengaluru, Delhi or Mumbai, as one approaches the [...]

By |2016-04-10T22:25:55+00:00January 31st, 2016|Categories: Politics and Current Affairs, Culture|Tags: , , |

Can Hindu Liberals Criticise Muslim Bigots, The Telegraph

In March 1937, Mahatma Gandhi published an article entitled ‘Need for Tolerance’. This was in response to a letter he had received from a Muslim friend. This man, a liberal and sceptic, wondered why, when referring to the Prophet Muhammad or the Koran, Gandhi never analysed them critically. ‘I am at a loss’, he wrote, ‘to [...]

By |2016-04-10T21:57:43+00:00January 23rd, 2016|Categories: Politics and Current Affairs|Tags: , , |

A Slogan With Substance, The Telegraph

Our Prime Minister likes coining slogans and acronyms. There was Swachh Bharat and Make in India, then Beti Padhao Desh Badhao. Now there is Start up India, Stand Up India. The Planning Commission has become the N[ational] I[nstitution] for T[ransforming] I[ndia]. I am sure the second part of NITI AAYOG must also lead to something deep [...]

By |2016-01-30T09:06:30+00:00January 9th, 2016|Categories: Politics and Current Affairs|Tags: , , , |