Why Bengal Is To India What France Is To The World

The Telegraph

In a book published some years ago, the sociologist Rabindra Ray observed that Bengalis were so obsessed with intellecual pursuits that even their swear words reflected this. In other parts of India, the most common form of abuse dealt with incest—you accused someone you disliked or were quarrelling with of sleeping with his mother or sister. [...]

By |2015-12-29T08:51:16+05:30December 29th, 2015|Categories: Culture|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+05:30December 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+05:30December 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+05:30November 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+05:30November 28th, 2015|Categories: Politics and Current Affairs, Culture|

Why Gandhi Would Have Been Appalled By The “Gandhi-Mandela Trophy”

The Telegraph

India and South Africa have just concluded a five match one-day series for the ‘Gandhi-Mandela Trophy’. Next week, they will commence the first of four Tests for a trophy carrying the same name. When, back in August, this new trophy was announced, a friend said it was a case of small men wishing to look less [...]

By |2015-11-13T11:04:29+05:30October 31st, 2015|Categories: History, Culture|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 [...]

The Dark and Desperate State of Uttar Pradesh

Hindustan Times

A recent report in the Financial Times, caught my eye. Headlined ‘India advert for tea boys and guards attracts 2.3m applicants’, it spoke of the desperate desire for a government job among the young men of India’s largest state. Earlier this year, the Uttar Pradesh Government had placed an advertisement for 368 Class IV posts of [...]

By |2015-11-13T10:24:23+05:30October 11th, 2015|Categories: Politics and Current Affairs|Tags: , , |

The Enduring Charm Of Independent Bookstores

Hindustan Times

For many years now, I have spent much of my time, and most of my money, on books bought in stores owned by individuals rather than corporations. Within India, I had four favourite bookstores; Premier’s in Bangalore, Fact & Fiction in Delhi, Ram Advani in Lucknow, and Giggles in Chennai. The store I knew best was [...]

By |2015-10-23T22:19:37+05:30September 27th, 2015|Categories: Culture|Tags: , , , , , , |

Why Canada May Be The World’s Most Underrated Country

Hindustan Times

The President of the United States is the most powerful person in the world. This is why every Presidential campaign attracts such wide attention, both the primaries of the two main parties and then the election itself. The campaign for the 2016 election is in its early stages. A candidate who has made a striking impression [...]

By |2015-10-16T11:04:27+05:30September 13th, 2015|Categories: Politics and Current Affairs, Culture|