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Why is Liberalism in Trouble?

Photographer: Pedro Lastra | Source: Unsplash One of the characteristics of the modern era is the importance of politics. We expect it to give us freedom and equality, prosperity and progress, and in a dystopian mode, fear and destruction. It’s a heavy lift, combining the job of religion and community with generous servings of science and […]

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The Form of the World

Photographer: Heather Lo | Source: Unsplash Configurations India has a renewed government with a few new faces, the most unusual of whom is the new minister for external affairs, Subramanyam Jaishankar, a career diplomat who is now in the Cabinet Committee on Security, which instantly makes him one of the most powerful people in the country. […]

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Bits of India 2: The Secularism of the RSS

Photographer: Aashish R Gautam | Source: Unsplash Buyer beware: this essay has a higher than usual ratio of speculation to explanation. I am playing with two central ideas (illustrated in the flowchart below): What? The modern system — with the state and the market being its standout institutions — destabilizes traditional categories, breaks them apart, swallows the pieces and finally […]

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The Bots of War

We think bots might have tipped the polls in the UK and in the US, but will South Asia host the first “war of the bots?” If you had asked me even two days ago, I would have laughed at the possibility, but having experienced how the recent India-Pakistan crisis was amplified on social media, […]

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Back to the Future

By UY Scuti (Photo taken during my rail-fanning session.) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons Thoughts on this wonderful analysis by Pedestrian Observations. I bet Anil Ambani didn’t get the Rafale deal because he submitted his tender in triplicate. Nevertheless, while the Rafale story is — inevitably — about corruption, I want to point out […]

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Hard Laddoo Politics and the Viagra of History

Most people I know have a whatsapp story to tell of that deranged uncle or classmate who simultaneously believes that Hinduism is the religion of peace and nonviolence and that Muslims and other interlopers have to dealt with severely, i.e., anywhere between abjection and annihilation. It seems we are soft laddoos who need to become […]

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Lynchings are acts of terror

If you’re Indian you know this already and if you aren’t you may not care, but in this note, I want to pay attention to a new innovation in the annals of violence: the Whatsapp driven lynchings of muslims accused of being rustlers of cows, though like every other innovation, it’s spread to lynchings of […]

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The Indian Anthropocene

Photo by Bibhu Behera on Unsplash When we think of the ABCs of the future, we usually think of western dystopias and utopias. I have myself commented on Musk’s oscillation between the earth and Mars. The animal rights/welfare movement starts with names like Peter Singer or Gary Francione but has almost no acknowledgement of the […]

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Against Jallikattu

In case you want to know my opinion, you don’t need to read any further since the title says it all. In case you want to know why I think so, the following words might have some value. Jallikattu is one of thousands of practices worldwide in which animals are used for entertainment and ritual: bull […]

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Cashless Crusaders I: Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai?

You can argue with opinions, but it’s hard to argue with data. Indiaspend has an interesting article on the keywords used in Modi’s post-demonetization speeches. Here’s a graphical summary in figure one: Figure 1: From Indiaspend: “How Modi Changed (And Changed) The Demonetisation Narrative” As you can see cashless replaced black money as the dominant […]