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The promise and pitfalls of Indian foreign policy

Two episodes in the first week of June starkly illustrate both the promise of Indian foreign policy and the pitfalls it faces as a result of the country’s increasingly toxic domestic political culture.

India’s Covid Con

India is no stranger to political controversies. At least half a dozen rage in its fractious public life at any time. But perhaps the most unseemly dispute recently has been the one over the country’s Covid-19 mortality figures.

What is India doing in Ukraine?

The Ukraine war has exposed India’s strategic vulnerabilities in a tough neighbourhood as arguably nothing else could, raising fundamental questions about the country’s global position and regional security.

Narendra Modi’s second partition of India

At a time when India’s major national priority ought to be cratering economic growth, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has instead plunged the country into a new political crisis of its own making.

A Battle for India's Soul

As India gears up for its general election, one must not lose sight of the sheer size of the exercise, which has been described as the “biggest humanly managed event in the world.”

Indian farmers in revolt

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi led his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to a landslide victory in the 2014 general election, he promised to be all things to all voters, eloquently promising “achhe din” (good days) for India. One of his target audiences was farmers; the agriculture sector still accounts for 67 percent of employment, and he grandly promised farmers that his government would double their incomes by 2020. He swept their votes.

December 14, 2017
December 14, 2017

India's culture war comes to Bollywood

Culture and history have become new battlegrounds in India. Debates over the Taj Mahal's position as a symbol of multicultural India have yet to be settled, yet the nation is already being torn apart further by another cultural controversy—this time, over a film.

November 13, 2017
November 13, 2017

The Siege of the Taj Mahal

In a country where politics has turned toxic, leading virtually everything—from festival firecrackers to animal husbandry—to take on a “communal” religious colouring, perhaps it should not be surprising that even one of the world's most famous monuments has become a target. But that doesn't make it any less tragic—or destructive.

October 17, 2017
October 17, 2017

The two backlashes against globalisation

When I left India for graduate school in the United States in 1975, the word “globalisation” was not in use anywhere in the world.

September 10, 2017
September 10, 2017

The harsh truth about India's godmen

Late last month, when two Indian states and the national capital were held to ransom by rioting mobs protesting their spiritual leader's conviction on two counts of raping minor girls, many Indians found themselves confronting several painful truths about their country.

August 16, 2017
August 16, 2017

India, a land of belonging

Seventy years ago this month, at midnight on August 15, 1947, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru proclaimed India's independence from the British Empire. Nehru called it “a moment that comes but rarely in history, when we pass from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.” With that, the country embarked on a remarkable experiment in governance that continues to this day.

March 16, 2017
March 16, 2017

Why India should scrap parliamentary democracy

India's parliamentary system, inherited from the British, is rife with ineffiencies. By the logic of Westminster, you elect a legislature to form the executive, and when the executive does not command a secure majority in the legislative assembly, the government falls, triggering fresh elections.

November 13, 2016
November 13, 2016

The End of US Soft Power?

One major casualty of Donald Trump's victory in the bruising US presidential election is, without a doubt, America's soft power around the world. It is a development that will be difficult – perhaps even impossible – to reverse, especially for Trump.

September 16, 2016
September 16, 2016

India's prohibition hypocrisy

Last month, 18 people in the Gopalganj district of India's Bihar state died after consuming illicit alcohol, highlighting – once again – the peculiar relationship between morality and tragedy in India.

August 10, 2016
August 10, 2016

India's cow vigilantes

Indian politics continues to amaze and appal. The surge in cow vigilantism — a uniquely Indian phenomenon that has lately begun to flourish under the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government — is no exception.

May 7, 2016
May 7, 2016

India's Jewel in the Crown

Prime Minister David Cameron declared outright that the Kohinoor would have to “stay put,” because “if you say yes to one, you would suddenly find the British Museum would be empty.” With Kumar having essentially taken Britain's side on the Kohinoor issue, albeit for different reasons, nationalists like me are losing hope that we will get that priceless element of our heritage back.