Friday, 9 August 2019

Far beyond politics: BJP's revoking Article 370 reconnects India to Kashmir, home of Shaivism and our ancient traditions

(This article first appeared in DailyO on the day Parliament cleared revoking of Article 370)

“India, that is Bharat, shall be the union of states,” says Article 1 of the Indian Constitution.
Yet, vested interests, historical blunders and political short-sightedness over a period led to a progressive hacking of the country’s synaptic connection with the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The popular narrative in the Valley which has so far dominated the discourse has been that it is Article 370 of the Indian Constitution that connects Kashmir with India — but the reality is that it has, over the years, alienated India from Kashmir and Kashmir from India.

Saturday, 3 August 2019

8th Edition of Young Thinkers Meet at Bhubaneswar, Orissa

The annual meet organised by the prestigious India Foundation, was held in Orissa this time. I had the honour of taking part in a scintillating session on 'Unease of Liberals With Indian National Identity' with co-panelists Shubhrastha and Anand Ranganathan. Here are some snapshots:

Wake up Nayantara Sehgal, you are your own nightmare

This article first appeared on Ritam

On June 19, The Ideas Page of The Indian Express featured an article titled ‘Once upon a time, a nation’ in which noted novelist and author Nayantara Sehgal attempted to argue that the outcome of 2019 elections was based on ‘storytelling’ with no real basis. I disagree with her premise and here are the reasons why.
Sehgal claims that the nation of 130 crore people has bought a false story - again. The election result, she says, was no surprise to her and that was largely because of Yale professor Stanley Jason’s study of right-wing extremism and breakdown of democracies. Now, even as the mainstay of her argument is that a story was built ahead of the elections to fool people, what she presents in the following paragraphs is a spectacular formula story of her own.
Sehgal links the formula, as attributed to Stanley Jason, to contemporary India and draws the picture of a failing state. In Stanley’s formula the rise of right wing is hinged on a sense of fear, resentment, anger - be it in the form of mercenary majoritarianism or divisive nationalism. In this scenario, citizens are labelled, excluded and feared and a mood of hysteria is created. Even as Sehgal shows us this picture, she fails to notice that her own words and world view are also aimed at stoking fear and distrust – only hers is against a democratically elected government.

An engaging discussion with young medicos in Karnal

Shared my thoughts with members of National Medicos Organisation in Karnal, Haryana.
Here are some snapshots:

Modi is nothing if not a master of tough decisions

This article appeared on Ritam

The time period of 1942-47 found a curious mention by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a speech last week while interacting with newly elected MPs. Evoking the historic phase that galvanised the country against the colonial rulers, Modi said that a similar mobilisation is now needed to win the battle against poverty. Interestingly, this was the second consecutive speech since his stunning victory in which he repeatedly mentioned poverty elimination as a target.
India’s battle against poverty has seen several decades, elections, governments, leaders and social changes. The mandate of 2019, however, has changed India’s development linguistics. The mandate has rejected the offer of short-term benefits and spoken in favour of enduring solutions. The electorate has increasingly shown awareness of the fact that the problem needs a holistic approach targeting the 350 million Below Poverty Line (BPL) population and also encompassing the 400 million strong middle class.
It is a fact that the achievements of Modi’s first term have laid the ground for substantial gains in his second term. Check on pilferages and corruption, disbursement of benefits to more than 20 crore people and implementation of transparency in governance are only some of these measures. It was a result of these that the government was re-elected for a second time with a bigger mandate. It is safe to say that no one is more aware of the strength of this mandate than Narendra Modi himself who is likely to wage a multi-pronged onslaught for revolutionary outcomes.

Karnataka & Goa Congress defections: Political opportunism or did ideology never matter?

This write-up appeared in the Talk Point segment of The Print

My take: Congress workers are disenchanted today and looking to the other side, which is making the right moves

A political party represents a unity of ideas and a coming together of like-minded people. Leaders may join or leave a party any time, which is why the message that a party stands for is far more important that the leaders themselves.
Congress is facing a ‘Ship of Theseus’ crisis today because its leaders have become bigger than the party itself. The Congress leadership, organisation and its ideology in 2019 is in deep trouble because of this.