/Politics and Current Affairs

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

How Mining Corrodes Democracy


The Telegraph

When the new millennium dawned, the poster boy of economic liberalization in my home state, Karnataka, was N. R. Narayana Murthy. A man from a middle-class home, with no tradition of entrepreneurship in his family, Narayana Murthy got together with six other like-minded individuals to found a company named Infosys. Starting from modest beginnings in Puné, [...]

Indian Marxists And Their Selective Outrage


The Telegraph

In a recent essay in the Times Literary Supplement, the Egyptian writer Ahdaf Soueif marvelled at the unending flood of books and essays on the Palestinians, these the work of Palestinians themselves, but also of Israelis, Americans, South Africans, Britons, Danes, and, as it happens, Indians. Here Souief remarked: ‘It took five decades, but now it’s [...]

By |2016-09-23T09:25:11+00:00August 6th, 2016|Categories: Politics and Current Affairs|Tags: , , , , |

Looting The Himalaya – And The Himalayans


The Telegraph

In recent months, Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh have been in the news. In both states, elected Governments run by the Congress have been destabilized by the ruling party at the Centre, and then dismissed by complicit Governors. In both states, the Congress was able to get succour from the Courts, although how enduring their now restored [...]

When Progressives Turn Reactionary


Hindustan Times

In the conventional wisdom, the Right stands for Order, the Left for Change. The Right defends Hierarchy and Authority, the Left demands Justice and Equality. The Right is for and of the Establishment, the Left is for and of the Aam Admi (and Aam Aurat). These stereotypes are not entirely without foundation. The abolition of aristrocratic [...]

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 [...]