ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846


What is Muslim vote bank?

The ‘Muslim vote bank’ is an established political template by which the voting behaviour of Muslim communities in India is understood and analysed. We are told that the ‘Muslim vote’ is very decisive in electoral politics because the ‘winability’ of a candidate at the constituency level and the sustainability of any political coalition at regional/national level are inextricably associated with Muslim support.

On Jargon, Academic Writing and Anti-intellectualism

Recently I had an experience that left me somewhat annoyed with a writer friend of mine. I had invited her to dinner along with a visiting academic friend from Duke University. During the course of the conversation I noticed that the writer, let’s name her V, was becoming abusive, making disparaging remarks about academics in general and needlessly taunting my Duke U friend, let’s call her M, who had offered no discernible provocation. M, who is the embodiment of civility and goodwill refused to rise to the bait but I decided not to let it pass.

Meanings of Rajnath Singh's 'apology'

Rajnath Singh’s ‘apology’ to Muslims has two aspects. This statement does have a symbolic political value, which might possibly be exploited to get rid of the established image of the BJP as a ‘communal-rightist’ party.

Where Have all the Dead Folk Gone?

I recently had the opportunity of going on a little tour of Melaten Friedhof, the municipal cemetery in Cologne. Etymologically the name Melaten is derived from ‘malade’, the French word for illness, as there used to be a hospital for leprosy patients, Maladen, on the site of the present cemetery. Until 1829, only the Catholics of the city could be buried here (they have always been the dominant community in Cologne); after that it was made available to Protestants too, and in principal, to all other communities.

The Stuart Hall I knew

RIP Stuart Hall, doyen of cultural theory (1932-2014). "The cultural dimension is not a secondary, but a constitutive dimension of society."

I found Ranjit Hoskote’s tweet quoted above, worth retailing, because it encapsulates Hall’s vastly influential work most admirably and serves as a suitable introduction to the Jamaican-born thinker the world has been mourning since 10 February, 2014.

Sholay Comic Causation

"…how much does he earn?"

"Once he gets married, he will start earning too."

"So, does he not earn anything now?"

"He does but a man can't always win. Sometimes he loses too."


"Isn't that's true of gambling?"

"So, he's a gambler!"

"No, not a gambler but once he gets drunk, he obivously can't help playing a hand or two."

"Gambler and a drunkard too. But he's too nice a person according to you!"

"Of course! Once married, he will stop visiting that dancer's house and his drinking-gambling days will be over too"

Trying to be a Medical 'Consultant' in Mumbai

There are many complex questions that can torment the everyday lives of doctors in India. After all practising medicine in a health care system that is unregulated, monetised & chaotic is never likely to be easy. The answers to these questions are equally complex as the discourse on health care has many confounding factors.  Let me confess however that I have grappled with an extremely simple sounding predicament for many years. It is so basic that it may even border on the trivial and is almost embarrassing to write about. But to me it has been a great source of confusion.

Pasmanda Muslim Politics and caste-based reservation

The recent debate on caste-based reservation remains quite predictable. The known binaries such as caste versus economic backwardness; social marginalisation versus merit and public sector versus reservation in private sector are evoked to endorse a few established positions on SC/ST/OBC reservation.

That Space between Places

I have just come back to Kampala from a trip up to north western Uganda where, if you cross the Rwenzori Mountains you would be in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. At the foot of that mountain range is a section of the Nile river where it shunts through a 6m wide cleft, falling dramatically as it opens onto a stretch of green and vital life. It is also a place where conversations quickly turn to the movements across the mountain - of men with guns or refugees with recent memories of an ongoing conflict. I recall this because I want to make a small point about contrasts.

What is BJP's ideology?

What is BJP’s political ideology? The supporters of BJP would proudly call it a ‘nationalist party’, which is deeply committed to the idea of Hindutva-a political philosophy that is supposed to be a religion-neutral term (at least, this is what the 1998 Manifesto of the BJP says).


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