/Politics and Current Affairs

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

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: , , , |

Why Can’t The Congress Dump The Nehru-Gandhis


The Telegraph

In May 2014, General Elections were held in India as well as in the United Kingdom, the country whose electoral system we adopted as our own. In the UK, the Labour Party got 232 seats, twenty-four seats less than it had obtained in 2010. The Labour leader, Ed Milliband, resigned at once, owning responsibility for the [...]

By |2016-01-30T09:01:39+00:00December 26th, 2015|Categories: Politics and Current Affairs|Tags: , |

Narendra Modi And The RSS


The Telegraph

Shortly after the 2014 Indian elections, I wrote that although the new Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, was ‘an economic modernizer, in cultural terms he remains a prisoner of the reactionary (not to say medievalist) mind-set of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh’. Inside Mr Modi’s mind and soul, these two contrary impulses were fighting for dominance. Which side [...]

By |2015-12-25T13:03:25+00:00December 12th, 2015|Categories: Politics and Current Affairs|Tags: , , , |

Are We Becoming An Election Only Democracy?


Hindustan Times

For some time now, Indian democracy has been corroded by what the sociologist André Béteille terms ‘the chronic mistrust between government and opposition’. Parliament meets rarely— when it does, it resembles a dusty akhara more than the stately chamber of discussion it was meant to be. In television studios, representatives of ruling and opposition parties trade [...]

By |2015-12-25T12:45:17+00:00November 29th, 2015|Categories: Politics and Current Affairs|Tags: , |

A Green and Pleasant Land


The Telegraph

Some twenty years ago, my wife and I called on Nirad Chaudhuri at his home in Oxford. The great little writer was happy to see us, but less pleased with my wife’s apparel. ‘That [chooridar kurta] is an Islamic dress’, he barked, ‘in Bengal we [Hindu men] would never allow our women to wear it’. I [...]

By |2015-12-25T12:46:14+00:00November 28th, 2015|Categories: Politics and Current Affairs, Culture|

A 19th Century Politics For a 21st Century State


Hindustan Times

Some years ago, I edited an anthology of Indian political thought, profiling nineteen individual thinkers. The usual suspects—Gokhale, Tilak, Phule, Gandhi, Nehru, Ambedkar, Lohia, JP, Periyar—featured, but also some less conventional choices. One of these was Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, sarsanghchalak of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh between 1940 and 1973. My inclusion of Golwalkar in an book [...]