The trap of black-money politics

23 12 2016

Why does anti-corruption politics always end up strengthening right-wing forces? What actually happens when we fight black money? Some tentative answers.

[This was published in Scroll.in on 23 December 2016]

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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 »

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Towards Fifty More

19 08 2016

Over the past fifty years the Economic and Political Weekly has provided a unique platform for intellectual engagement and the fertilisation of ideas. India’s growing world of letters needs not just its continuation, but the efflorescence of perhaps fifty more such journals.

[A write-up co-authored with C Rammanohar Reddy published in The Hindu today to commemorate fifty continuous years of publication of the EPW. The first EPW was published on 20 August 1966] Read the rest of this entry »





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 Secret of Modi’s Success

4 03 2012

The violence which wracked the western Indian state of Gujarat ten years ago has almost become a metaphor for a particular aspect of India’s contemporary reality. The metaphor is described differently, depending on whether one is a supporter of Gujarat’s chief minister Narendra Modi or an opponent. Read the rest of this entry »





Will the UPA Government Fall?

3 10 2011

The regular exposes of the UPA government’s varied incompetence and venality and the growing cacophony over corruption seem to suggest a crisis of government and the possibility of mid-term polls. This post examines the current political conditions and argues that despite all its acts of omission and commission, the UPA appears likely to finish its term in office. 

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The Politics of Culture (Book Review)

2 10 2011

Books:

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 »





The Corruption Carnival

27 09 2011

The Anna Hazare fronted anti-corruption movement has been successful in pushing the locus of Indian politics to the right. Will it also succeed in defeating the Congress led United Progressive Alliance in the next general elections and putting the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh backed Bharatiya Janata Party into power? That remains an open question. Read the rest of this entry »





2010 in review

2 01 2011

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health Read the rest of this entry »





On Freedom of the Press

28 10 2010

The question of the freedom of the press or, more generally, the freedom of thought and expression, has come increasingly into public debate in India. This perhaps is a global trend from what it appears to me, but in India hardly a month passes without some important issue taking centre stage in public debates around the question of freedom of thought and expression.

Whether it is protesting against a film, a book, a speech or public statement, a work of art, a newspaper report or even a question paper, there are demands for banning, censorship, prosecution (often followed by extra-judicial persecution) and punishment for those who are seen to be exceeding the limits of freedom of speech.  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 »





Where Have all the Protests Gone?

16 03 2010

How do we understand the inexplicable lack of popular anger over high food inflation in India? Read the rest of this entry »





Democracy and the Communist Party

14 03 2010

This paper, rather preliminary note towards a full paper, attempts to look at the troubled history of democracy (both as a concept as well as a practice) and parties claiming affiliation to Marxism-Leninism. It tries to understand the historical paradox of parties and movements influenced by Marxism being among the more important contributors to democratising our world, but States ruled by parties owing allegiance to Marxism denying democratic rights to their own citizens. It then tries to identify some of the reasons for this large democratic deficit.

But before I begin, two short points about the structure of the paper may be in order. First, I have been fairly hesitant to write on this topic. I can hardly lay any claim to expertise on theoretical debates among Marxists as well as on the details of the history of countries ruled by communist parties. That apart, I am also conscious of my weakness in political theory, specially that relating to democracy and related ideas of liberty and representation. Therefore, the stress will remain more on the historical experience rather than the theoretical arguments. Second, and following from my hesitation laid out above, this paper is basically structured around three writings by two Marxists: Karl Marx himself[1], and Rosa Luxemburg. You may say I am merely paraphrasing them, or you may say that they are the burqa I wear during this excursion into unfamiliar territory. Read the rest of this entry »





A Very Brief History of Trade Unions in the erstwhile Hyderabad State

4 02 2010

In December 2000 when I first shifted to Hyderabad, the Confederation of Indian Trade Unions held its conference here. I met many trade unionists from all over the country and a few from other countries too. At one of these meetings I was asked about the history of the trade union movement in Hyderabad and realised that I knew next to nothing, despite my grandfather, Alam Khundmiri, having being one of those who initiated such work here in the 1930s and 1940s when the Nizam ruled over these lands. Read the rest of this entry »





Fractured Social Sciences

16 06 2009

[Can the contradiction between underdevelopment and democracy be transcended]

This is the draft I wrote for the editorial for the Economic and Political Weekly, VOL 44 No. 23 June 12, 2009. There may be many differences between this draft and the EPW editorial. Read the rest of this entry »