Parliament and Patriarchy

The Hindu

The Hindu ends its moving front-page editorial on Sunday with this pointed and very pertinent plea: ‘The Congress and the Opposition should forget about playing to the gallery. If they are serious about the rights of women, they should quickly pass the Women’s Reservation Bill. Let the presence of at least 181 female MPs in the [...]

A Writer Among His People

The Telegraph

Last week, the novelist, essayist, and polemicist U. R. Ananthamurthy turned eighty. His Bangalore home is named ‘Suragi’, after a flower that retains its fragrance even after it has aged and dried up. Some might find the name self-regarding; but then Ananthamurty is a man with much to be immodest about. His novels Samskara and Bharathipura [...]

A Wish List Revisited

The Telegraph

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 to [...]

Appreciating Nehru

The Hindu

The most admired human being on the planet may be a one-time boxer named Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. To spend three decades in prison fighting racial oppression, and then guide and oversee the peaceful transition to a multi-racial democracy, surely ranks as the greatest personal achievement since the end of the Second World War. For the capaciousness [...]

Sonia’s Rise

The Telegraph

In Zareer Masani’s recent memoir of his parents, And All is Said, he quotes a letter written to him by his mother in 1968. ‘Yesterday we went to Mrs Pandit’s reception for Rajiv Gandhi and his wife’, wrote Shakuntala Masani, adding: ‘I can’t tell you how dim she is, and she comes from a working-class family. [...]

Syrian Memories

The Telegraph

On the 30th of January, 2008, a group of scholars working on Gandhi convened in the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad. The organizers had in mind a day-long, informal, unstructured, conversation on what aspects of the Mahatma’s legacy were still relevant. I had been invited, and would have gone, except that I had already accepted an invitation [...]

The State of My State

The Telegraph

I know that we may be speaking here of a race to the bottom, but I would still like to claim that the political culture of the state where I live, Karnataka, is more degraded than that of any other state of the Union. Consider these three, discrete, events that occurred in a single month, July [...]

A Year A Londoner

The Telegraph

On the last day of June, I went to the nearest branch of the NatWest Bank and paid the sum of 43 pounds and ninety-four pence, this being the money I owed to the Westminster City Council. With that act I formally ended a year as a bona fide, tax paying, resident of the most interesting [...]

The Indian Road to Unsustainability

Hindustan Times

In June 1992, Dr Manmohan Singh, then Finance Minister in the Government of India, delivered the Foundation Day Address of the Society for Promotion of Wastelands Development (SPWD). He spoke on the topic, ‘Environment and the New Economic Policies’. In his talk, Dr Singh urged ‘objective standards industry-wise for safeguarding the environment, asking industry to certify [...]

Indians Great Greater Greatest?

The Hindu

I... Nations need heroes, but the construction of a national pantheon is rarely straightforward or uncontested. Consider the debate in the United States about which faces should adorn the national currency. The founding figures of American Independence—Jefferson, Washington, Hamilton, Madison, and Franklin—are all represented on the dollar bill, albeit on different denominations. So are the 19th [...]