Why Emperor Modi needs Nehru, Gandhi, Indira and JP

For Scroll.in on 14 October 2014

Nicholas Kamm/AFP

When the English built the New Delhi capital in 1931, they gave many major roads around it such Indian names as Prithviraj Road, Ashoka Road, Ferozshah Road, Akbar Road and Aurangzeb Road. This was only partly in response to growing Indian nationalism. It also served to legitimise the British Raj as the legitimate successor of empires past. For most of history, Delhi has been the capital of the land, and the British decided to move here from Calcutta to show who ruled it. Continue reading “Why Emperor Modi needs Nehru, Gandhi, Indira and JP”

Indian iconophilia: Why icons matter in Indian politics

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”