The Indian radical grapples with globalisation

3 09 2012

There has been a major transformation in India over the last two decades – economic, political, social and cultural. Some of this has been a result of the liberalisation of the economy, a significant part of which has been the opening up to global capital. The Left in India, across organisations and ideologies, has viewed globalisation as a disaster for India. However, even a cursory glance at the actual history of globalisation in India will show that it has been as much about India reaching out to the world as the world coming to India.

This paper argues that the  Indian radical has been unable to come to terms with this phenomenon. He does not know how to define it, he does not know how to engage with it and he invariably falls back on understandings and explanations from another age which have little salience today. It is this last feature which brings out a streak of conservativeness in him.

This paper tries to identify the main features of the Indian radical’s fear of globalisation, the function of nationalism in this, the role which foreign goods and capital play in building this and the consequences for radical politics.

(This is not a fully developed position but rather an attempt to think through some ideas. Further, the text here is a rough draft which was used to make a presentation at the workshop on Spectacle of Globality organised by Ravinder Kaur and Thomas Blom Hansen at the University of Copenhagen on 29-30 August 2012. Please do not quote from this article without asking me.)

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The Politics of Culture (Book Review)

2 10 2011


G P Deshpande, The World of Ideas in Modern Marathi: Phule, Vinoba, Savarkar, Tulika, New Delhi, 2009, pp. 120. Rs. 240.

G P Deshpande, Talking the Political Culturally and Other Essays, Thema, Kolkata, 2009, pp. 127, Rs. 150. Read the rest of this entry »

Commemorating Congo at 50

30 06 2010

On 30 June, 1960 Congo achieved independence from Belgian rule. It was an exceptionally harsh 80 years of colonialism which saw tens of millions of its people killed in the pursuit of European wealth and civilisation.  Read the rest of this entry »

How Not to Understand Muslim fundamentalism

2 06 2010

Mahmood Mamdani recently gave a talk at the University of Johannesburg, touching on the topics of free speech and bigotry in our contemporary world. He took the example of Mohammed cartoons to make this point. It is a well argued and seemingly persuasive thesis which you can read here at Kafila.

I found that I had some fundamental differences with it and decided to write them out here. Please do read him before you read my response. Read the rest of this entry »

and quiet flows the blood…

23 02 2009


This was my draft of the editorial on the bloodshed and conflicts in and around the Democratic Republic of the Congo for the Economic and Political Weekly. The final edit was published in the EPW dated 21 February, 2009, Vol XLIV No 8.

[Why is the world, including India, silent about the neocolonial plunder of the Congo?] Read the rest of this entry »

A Liberal Interpretation of India’s Future

2 01 2009

Review of

INDIA EXPRESS: the future of a new superpower

Daniel Lak, Penguin/Viking, New Delhi, 2008, pp. xx + 314, hardcover, Rs. 499, (Indian edition)

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The False Promise of Multi-Polarity in International Relations

16 09 2008


With the collapse of the USSR and other socialist States in the late 1980s and early 1990s, multipolarity became the much sought after ideal for almost all progressives as they sought resources to counter the rampant global strides of the sole superpower, the USA. Today when a return of the former socialist States is neither possible nor perhaps even desirable, multipolarity is seen as perhaps the only option to hedge in the arrogant brutality of the US war machine. I would like to argue that multipolarity is like the “opium of the masses”, it is merely a “sigh of the oppressed creature” which provides fleeting relief in times of trouble, but like opium it is a poison which may even prove fatal in the long run. Read the rest of this entry »


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