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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  Why Can’t The Congress Dump The Nehru-Gandhis, The Telegraph [Saturday, December 26th, 2015]

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 [...]

 
 
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  Are We Becoming An Election Only Democracy?, Hindustan Times [Sunday, November 29th, 2015]

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 [...]

 
 
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  When Politicians Get Too Close to Businessmen, The Telegraph [Saturday, July 25th, 2015]

I write this on Tuesday the 21st of July, with the Bangalore edition of The Hindu in front of me. The front page carries a large photograph of Mallikarjun Kharge, the veteran Congress leader from Karnataka who is currently the de facto leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha. Interestingly, the photo does not [...]

 
 
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  Carpets Red and Green, Hindustan Times [Sunday, July 20th, 2014]

Shortly after the Trinamool Congress came to power in West Bengal, I was invited to speak at a university convocation in that state. I flew in the day before the event, and was met at Kolkata airport by the university’s Registrar. A three hour drive to our destination followed. I was then taken on a [...]

 
 
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  A Wish List Revisited, The Telegraph [Saturday, November 17th, 2012]

In an essay published just before the General Elections of 2009, I had argued that for Indian democracy to become more focused and effective, four things needed to happen: First, the Congress party had to rid itself of its dependence on a single family. Rahul Gandhi had a right to be in politics, but not [...]

 
 
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  Smash-and-Grab Crony League, The Hindu [Saturday, May 26th, 2012]

I live in Bangalore, down the road from the Karnataka State Cricket Association. I am a member of the KSCA, which means that I can watch all the matches played in its stadium for free, and from a comfortable seat next to the pavilion. I exercise the privilege always during a Test match, often during [...]

 
 
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  Letting Azad Win, Hindustan Times [Friday, March 16th, 2012]

In the third week of March 1940, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad delivered the Presidential Address at the annual meeting of the Indian National Congress, held that year in Ramgarh in Bihar. Azad here spoke of secularism as India’s ‘historic destiny’, proof of which was in ‘our languages, our poetry, our literature, our culture , our [...]

 
 
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  Uttar Pradesh Past and Present, The Telegraph [Saturday, February 11th, 2012]

In his charming memoir, Lucknow Boy, Vinod Mehta writes of the leisurely pace of life in his home town. Like most students of his class and generation, he paid little attention to books and exams, spending his time rather in the streets and cafés of Lucknow. A Punjabi Hindu, Mehta numbered two Muslims among his [...]

 
 
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  The Pen Over The Sword Always, The Telegraph [Saturday, January 14th, 2012]

In a recent essay in Frontline magazine, Ghulam Murshid writes of the ups and downs of Tagore’s reputation in Bangladesh. So long as it was East Pakistan, the poet was not looked upon very favourably-in part because he came from a upper-class landed family, in larger part because he was a Hindu. As the Tagore [...]

 
 
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