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 on 23 December 2016]

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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 Please do not quote from this article without asking me.)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 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 »

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 »