/Politics and Current Affairs

Politics and Current Affairs reproduces writings on secularism, majoritarianism, diversity, and other contentious themes in contemporary India.

Taking the South Seriously


The Telegraph

I have recently been revisiting Walter Crocker’s 1966 book, Nehru: A Contemporary’s Estimate. This book remains the best single-volume study of the life and legacy of India’s first prime minister, and it says many interesting things about Nehru’s country too. Consider these remarks about the part of India I myself live in: “South India has counted [...]

The Opening and Closing of the Hindu Mind


The Telegraph

“What am I? Asiatic, European, or American? I feel a curious medley of personalities in me.” — Swami Vivekananda In 1873, the social reformer, Jyotirao Phule, published a searing critique of the caste system. Entitled Gulamgiri, the book was written in Marathi, yet it carried a dedication in English. This expressed the author’s admiration for “the [...]

Where the Hard Right Meets the Hard Left


The Telegraph

I have been reading the memoirs of Dora Russell, a pioneering British feminist and educationist. These were published in three volumes, of which I have just finished the first. This covers her upbringing in Edwardian England, her education at Cambridge, the development of her views on gender equality, an experimental school she established, and the years [...]

Why Modi and Shah Fear Young Activists


NDTV.com

Why would the Indian state arrest a twenty-one-year-old woman activist who seeks a cleaner and safer planet? Should not the country want young people to look beyond their narrow personal interests to the interests of society at large? Why did our Government lock up a young citizen seeking to build a better future for herself and [...]

In Praise of Archives and Archivists


The Telegraph

In the third week of January 2020—exactly a year ago—I was in New Delhi, working in the collections of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library. I first discovered the archival riches of the NMML in the early 1980s, and explored them most fully while living in Delhi between 1988 and 1994. In those years I would [...]

Lessons in Leadership from Satish Dhawan


The Telegraph

The late A. P. J. Abdul Kalam liked to tell stories with morals. A story he was particularly fond of related to the launch of a satellite by the Indian Space Research Organization in July 1979. Kalam was in charge of the project at ISRO; and when some members expressed reservations about its readiness he overruled [...]

5 Reasons Why Rahul Gandhi Cannot Take on Modi for PM


NDTV.com

Those who oppose Hindutva seek to recover the founding principles of the freedom struggle, such as religious and linguistic pluralism, gender and caste equality, a critical attitude to state power, and an open-ness to other cultures and civilizations: all principles which Hindutva threatens to abandon or overthrow. But the closer one gets to 2024, the battle [...]

By |2020-10-27T18:52:05+05:30August 18th, 2020|Categories: Politics and Current Affairs|

A Brief History of Cults of Personality


The Telegraph

The term ‘cult of personality’ is thought to have been first used with regard to the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. Stalin died in 1953, after more than two decades in power; three years later, in a speech to the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, his successor Nikita Khrushchev spoke of how [...]

The Perilous State of Press Freedom in India Today


The Telegraph

In 1824, the Government of Bengal (which was then in the hands of the East India Company) issued an Ordinance placing strict curbs on the freedom of the press. This gave the government the powers to cancel a newspaper’s license without any explanation. The Ordinance provoked outrage among the intelligentsia of Kolkata, active in editing and [...]

Why Modi has Failed India


NDTV.com

Last week, the respected US rating agency Moody’s downgraded India’s sovereign rating to Baa3, the lowest grade. It thereby joined Standard and Poor and Fitch, which had already relegated India to the bottom rung in this regard. Explaining their decision, Moody’s said: ‘While today’s action is taken in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, it was [...]