For The Express Tribune, 1 May 2014
It is India’s fortune to have a voluntary human rights watchdog as fabulous as the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), which goes around selflessly struggling for human rights in a country where human life and liberty have little value. But I felt the PUCL was being a little silly in approaching the Supreme Court of India to allow voters in the Indian elections to have a right to go to the polling station and vote for nobody. Continue reading “Abolish the District Magistrate” →
For The Express Tribune, 12 June 2014
I first set up a blog in 2004, or was it early 2005? I had been so impressed by a blog some people had put up about the Indian Ocean tsunami that I wanted to understand what was then called web 2.0, and is today called social media. Since then, I have been given the identity of a blogger and internet evangelist. I get called to a few talks, workshops, seminars, conferences, and a lot of TV shows. Continue reading “The digital divide bogey” →
For Outlook magazine, 29 July 2013
The other day I sent a telegram to H.M. Queen Elizabeth, c/o the British High Commission, New Delhi. RETURN KOHINOOR, I wrote. If it didn’t reach her, it is her fault. Her Majesty’s government gave us both the telegram and the Indian state that cannot do something as simple as deliver a telegram. Good that it’s dead.
Most of the telegrams I sent out to friends didn’t reach them, and this has been the experience of others too. One sent to me by a friend reached me three days later—so much for a medium whose raison d’etre is urgency. Another telegram a friend sent me reached me 10 days late—by ordinary post! Neither of them came with someone ringing the doorbell, so I could at least imagine the telegram era. They were just left outside. Continue reading “This Dirge Is Set To Dit Dit Dah Dah” →
For The Express Tribune, 1 July 2014
I recently saw two Bollywood films, both very different and yet very similar. Mohit Suri’s Ek Villain is more like a standard Bollywood film, with good-looking people, a lot of romance, music you’d love to play in your car, and dishoom-dishoom from the first to the last scene. Hansal Mehta’s City Lights is, by Bollywood standards, serious cinema. The real difference between the two is about the budgets, I suppose. Yet, the two films are very similar. Both are set in Mumbai and are about men who are transformed by circumstances — birth, upbringing, migration, love, luck and urban life — into bad men doing bad things to innocent people. The women are passive victims of this violence. Continue reading “Bollywood and the moral compass” →
For The Express Tribune, 4 October 2013
Foreigners are often flummoxed to see Hitler’s Mein Kampf sell so widely in India — sometimes even on red lights. Foreign journalists have written the usual stories about this: find and interview a Hitler fan, talk about the RSS and how its founders were influenced by early twentieth century European fascism, get a quote about the growing Hindu right in India.
Sexy copy as it makes, I always thought this was an incomplete story. For one, the Hindu right wants to cause no world war and it doesn’t want to exterminate Muslims from Indian soil. Its idea of those following religions that did not originate in India is to make them second class citizens. Abominable as it may be, it can’t be compared with what Hitler tried with Jews. Continue reading “Indian iconophilia: Why icons matter in Indian politics” →