A Nehruvian in China


The first Chinese intellectual I knew of was named Fei Xiaotong. The year was 1980, and I was beginning a doctoral degree in sociology in Kolkata. The city was hostile to my discipline, largely because its intellectual culture was Marxist-dominated and Maoist-infested. Those who read Marxism mechanically allowed that the disciplines of history, economics, and political [...]

By |2013-07-08T12:27:10+00:00June 7th, 2013|Categories: Politics and Current Affairs, Longer Essays|Tags: , , |

No Game for Good Men

The Telegraph

I detest wearing a tie, and do so only when forced. One such occasion was a formal dinner at All Souls College, Oxford, where opposite me was an Israeli scholar who had just got a job at the University, and was extremely anxious to show how well he knew its ways and mores. He dropped some [...]

By |2013-06-08T22:26:09+00:00June 1st, 2013|Categories: Politics and Current Affairs, Culture|Tags: , , , , |

The Continuing Tragedy of the Adivasis

The Hindu

In the summer of 2006, I had a long conversation with Mahendra Karma, the Chhattisgarh Congress leader who was killed in a terror attack by the Naxalites last week. I was not alone—with me were five other members of a citizens’ group studying the tragic fallout of the civil war in the state’s Dantewada district. This [...]

By |2013-06-17T22:45:32+00:00May 27th, 2013|Categories: Politics and Current Affairs|Tags: , , , , |

Democracy and Violence: in India and Beyond

Economic and Political Weekly

In about a year’s time, the citizens of India will vote in their sixteenth General Elections. The last such exercise, held in May 2009, showcased a bewildering variety of parties and politicians. Some 700 million adults were eligible to vote; about 400 million actually voted, to choose five hundred and forty-three members of the national Parliament. [...]

By |2013-04-06T23:09:17+00:00April 6th, 2013|Categories: Politics and Current Affairs, Longer Essays|

The Miracles of Mao

The Telegraph

Marxism claims to offer a materialist approach to history, where class relations and the forces of technology are given more importance than the doings of individuals. In practice, however, political regimes based on professedly Marxist principles have indulged in an unprecedented worship of their leaders. Communist parties the world over brook no criticism of the Holy [...]

By |2013-04-06T23:00:47+00:00April 6th, 2013|Categories: Politics and Current Affairs, Biography|Tags: , , |

Patriarchy & Prejudice

The Telegraph

Being a woman is a terribly difficult task, since it consists principally in dealing with men. Joseph Conrad India’s two main religions, Hinduism and Islam, are both deeply patriarchal. Their scriptures and their historical practice have relegated women to an inferior status. Women were not allowed to assume positions of power and authority. Women were denied [...]

The Man Who Would Rule India

The Hindu

A journalist who recently interviewed Narendra Modi reported their conversation as follows: ‘Gujarat, he told me, merely has a seafront. It has no raw materials—no iron ore for steel, no coal for power and no diamond mines. Yet it has made huge strides in these fields. Imagine, he added, if we had the natural resources of [...]

The Nervous Soldier

The Telegraph

Rahul Gandhi’s elevation to the Vice-Presidentship of the Congress, and the possibility that he might become Prime Minister were his party to form a government after the next General Elections, prompts a careful look at his record in politics. Consider these facts: 1. Mr Gandhi has been a Member of the Lok Sabha for almost nine [...]

By |2013-01-27T13:55:00+00:00January 26th, 2013|Categories: Politics and Current Affairs|Tags: |

A Tendulkar Trophy

The Telegraph

Following the well-attended (and incident-free) one-day series between India and Pakistan—the first since the Mumbai terror attacks of November 2008—the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, Zaka Ashraf, suggested that the two countries play each other regularly, for what might be called the ‘Jinnah-Gandhi’ Trophy. Reading this, I remembered a similar proposal being made, decades ago, [...]

By |2013-01-20T09:04:59+00:00January 12th, 2013|Categories: Politics and Current Affairs, Culture|Tags: , , |