Published in The Express Tribune, 15 November 2013.
Bitter political differences, pre-poll violence, lack of consensus over just what and how the political system of the country should be — that is the impression you would get if you were to follow the news from Kathmandu ahead of the elections next week. These are the second elections for a constituent assembly, after the previous constituent assembly could not finalise a new constitution for Nepal after four years of deliberations. The picture may look grim. Continue reading
For The Express Tribune on 10 April 2014
Jyotsna ji has been my house help since 2006. She hails from a village East Midnapore district in West Bengal. She has lived in Delhi for about 22 years now. She separated from her husband and raised her two sons by herself. Continue reading
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
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
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
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