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Every Utopia becomes a Dystopia

A Map of Utopia I remember Reagan saying to Gorbachev “Tear down this wall.” Sorry, that’s fake news. Or at least white lie news. There’s no way I could have heard a live conference in West Berlin in 1987. It was probably past my bedtime in Delhi. I also have a memory of reading it in […]

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The Collector of Dystopias

Photographer: Pawel Janiak | Source: Unsplash Star Wars and Scotch Tape I am a technophile; always was and always will be. It doesn’t prevent me from agreeing with Gandhi’s critique of technological modernity. Instead, we can have fun asking such questions as: What would a charkha computer look like? One thought: Ok, I am not sure the […]

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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 Tyranny of Experience

Photographer: v2osk | Source: Unsplash There’s no greater tyranny in my world than that of experience, by which I mean the ever more sophisticated versions of the claim “seeing is believing.” We are skeptical by nature, demanding evidence and proof and subjecting claims to all kinds of tests before we believe them. Experience produces facts, in […]

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Computing Climate Change

Photographer: Markus Spiske | Source: Unsplash In my previous essay, I arrived at an unoriginal idea: that the computer is a mental telescope through which we can view the world. I didn’t say the universe is a computer because that would be really unoriginal but more importantly, because I am not interested in the universe. I […]

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Street Metaphysics I: Indian Philosophy for Children

This is the first article on a series about how to do Indian philosophy today. It’s impossible to do philosophy without a sense of history, for philosophy always engages with texts and traditions that came before the current crop of thinkers. Unfortunately, history is an emotionally difficult concept for a colonized people. Is our history […]

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The Adventures of Vatman

Aren’t straight lines boring? I have been zagging about climate change, animal rights and other planetary calamities for several months. It’s getting to be burdensome. Time to zig. Or rather, it’s time to zigback to a topic I continue to think about in a parallel universe, a world without care or worry, a topic that’s […]