When A Pakistani Hindu Visited Delhi’s Jama Masjid

Jama Masjid

(This article first appeared in HuffingtonPost.in on 26 July 2016.)

On a hot summer afternoon in Delhi, my Pakistani Hindu friend was visiting the Jama Masjid. After all, he had come to tour Delhi. In the evening, we met in a restaurant in Connaught Place.

He was staying with a relative in Mehrauli, where the (Indian, Hindu) neighbour told him not to cross the road. “Muslims live there,” the neighbour warned. That was funny, because our visitor lived in Pakistan, where no roads could be crossed without meeting Muslims. Continue reading “When A Pakistani Hindu Visited Delhi’s Jama Masjid”

Why Pakistan Exports More Mangoes Than India

(First published in HuffPost India in April 2017.)

It’s that time of the year again when Pakistani mango nationalists start beating the war drums, raising their claims of mango superiority to decibel levels that cross the noise pollution mark.

The campaign has begun. It’s not even May yet. Lies, damned lies and statistics are being used to suggest Pakistani mangoes are better. Looking for foreign approval as always, Pakistanis are tom-tomming export figures that show Pakistan exports more mangoes than India, even though India produces a lot more of them. Continue reading “Why Pakistan Exports More Mangoes Than India”

How Bezwada Wilson Liberated Lakhs Of Manual Scavengers In India

First published in HuffPost India, 27 June 2016

Since the Indian Parliament outlawed manual scavenging in 1993, the very existence of a dry latrine became illegal. Bezwada Wilson’s Safai Karmachari Andolan would take a crowd of former manual scavengers, mostly women, to demolish dry latrines wherever they could find them. On one occasion, they even did it inside a court complex!

The resulting hullabaloo around the demolition would help Wilson spread awareness about the law against manual scavenging. This is just one of many ways in which Wilson has brought down the numbers of manual scavenging from lakhs to a few thousand. Continue reading “How Bezwada Wilson Liberated Lakhs Of Manual Scavengers In India”

Bihar’s Greatest Mystery: How Did BJP Let Its Caste Strategy Go So Awry?

(First published in HuffPost India, 25 October 2015.)

First they said they have an OBC-EBC strategy. Then they gave away a large number of tickets to upper castes. Then they said their chief minister will be from amongst the backward castes. Now Amit Shah says it could be from upper castes or backwards, we’ll decide after the elections.

The BJP’s shifting, confused, botched up caste strategy in Bihar can best be described with the Hindi proverb, Dhobi ka kutta, na ghar ka na ghat ka. By now the party finds itself between a rock and a hard place, sending mixed signals and confusing all voters. Continue reading “Bihar’s Greatest Mystery: How Did BJP Let Its Caste Strategy Go So Awry?”

Why The BJP Can’t Pretend Bihar Isn’t A Turning Point

(First published in HuffPo, 16 November 2015.)

Home minister Rajnath Singh, himself a former president of the Bharatiya Janata Party, has this to say on the BJP’s resounding defeat in Bihar: “Victory and defeat are part of the democratic process. We had won elections in the past, we had lost elections in the past. We will not do justice to future if we decide future only on the basis of one elections.”

The top leadership of the BJP is playing down the Bihar defeat. The opponents came together, they say. We lost to their caste arithmetic. It’s just one election. We still got a good vote-share. Continue reading “Why The BJP Can’t Pretend Bihar Isn’t A Turning Point”

Modi Has A One-Point Economic Agenda And It’s Succeeding

[This article first appeared in HuffPost India on 12 October 2017.]

In October 2015, a little over a year after Narendra Modi became prime minister, the price of pulses suddenly saw a sharp increase. It was, as it often is, election season. Narendra Modi had staked his own persona in the high-pitched battle for Bihar. Lalu Yadav’s supporters came up with a biting slogan: Arhar Modi, a pun on Har Har ModiGhar Ghar Modi – the slogan for the PM’s Lok Sabha campaign in Varanasi. Continue reading “Modi Has A One-Point Economic Agenda And It’s Succeeding”

Why Demonetisation’s Failure Didn’t Benefit The Opposition

[This article first appeared in HuffPost India on 2 September 2017.]

It is easy to give post-facto explanations for anything. The Delhi commentariat consensus is that demonetisation’s real intention was political — in other words, the Modi government knew the economic disaster it would beget. Secondly, we are told demonetisation helped the BJP win the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. Continue reading “Why Demonetisation’s Failure Didn’t Benefit The Opposition”