/Tag: secularism

Anti-Intellectualism In American And Indian Life


The Telegraph

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 America’s [...]

The Struggles Of A Muslim Modernizer


The Telegraph

In different but complementary ways, the debate on triple talaq, and the debate on cow slaughter, both demonstrate the medievalist mindset of modern India. Why, when even the Islamic Republic of Pakistan has abolished the pernicious practice of triple talaq, has India not done so? Largely because the leadership of Indian Muslims is in the hands [...]

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 [...]

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: , , |

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: , , , |

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 [...]

An Opposition to Despair Of


The Telegraph

I spent the last week of July in New Delhi, my first extended trip to that city since the General Elections of 2014. It was a year and two months since the Modi Government had come to power, and signs of disenchantment had set in. Scholars, executives, restaurant waiters, and security personnel all made sarcastic remarks [...]

How Gandhi’s Martyrdom Saved India


Hindustan Times

On the 31st of January 1948, a former Indian Civil Service officer named Malcolm Darling, then living in retirement in London, wrote in his diary: ‘Gandhi was assassinated yesterday. … Very difficult to say what will happen, but it is as if a ship has lost its keel. Further disintegration seems inevitable, and what happens to [...]

Religious Faith- Devilish and Divine


The Telegraph

I write this on a day when the front page of the newspaper reports that a Cabinet Minister has visited Rajasthan to consult an astrologer. Meanwhile, a back page photograph in the same paper shows the most powerful man in cricket preparing to enter a famous and well endowed temple in Kerala. The Cabinet Minister in [...]

By |2014-12-15T09:59:13+00:00November 29th, 2014|Categories: Politics and Current Affairs|Tags: , |