articles by Karthik Venkatesh

India

Amulya KN Reddy, IISc electrochemist and ASTRA founder, chose to imagine a different science

Reddy's stress on environmental sustainability at a time when it had still not come into popular conversation is an indication that he foresaw the destruction that blind devotion to ‘growth’ paradigms would bring

India

When products die | The death of iconic Blackberry is another life-cycle ending within our own

While products do pass on, their memories often survive, often in interesting ways. Some deaths and disappearances, however, are not necessarily for the better.

World

Goa Liberation Day: 60 years of freedom for the coastal state that never came easy

Goa is today among India’s most picturesque states with its beaches and its vibe attracting millions of visitors

India

From Sonja Schlesin to Mahadev Desai, 'loyal' secretaries of Gandhi who ensured Mahatma remained at utmost efficiency

To work with Gandhi on account of his ideals and then stay fiercely loyal to him was common to almost all the secretaries who worked for him

Arts & Culture

Education as a means of achieving true freedom: Celebrating Paulo Freire’s centenary

To contend with Paulo Freire’s ideas about education, knowledge, the meaning of freedom and classroom dynamics is to re-examine the human condition afresh and seek to commit oneself to the discovery of true freedom.

India

How India House became a hub of revolution ahead of India's Independence

Formally inaugurated by Henry Hyndman of the Social Democratic Federation, India House was ostensibly merely a boarding house for Indian students

Arts & Culture

Ahead of the curve: Revisiting Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj's 1902 decision to reserve jobs for backward castes

On 26 July 1902, Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj of Kolhapur issued a historic proclamation. 50 percent of the posts in the state's services would be reserved for the backward classes. It was the beginning of what came to be called 'reservation' or 'affirmative action'.

Arts & Culture

How an impoverished Marathi priest wrote an eyewitness account of 1857 revolt, and last days of Rani Lakshmibai

Vishnu Bhatt Godse's manuscript lay unpublished 25 years after he completed it, going into print only in 1907, the 50th anniversary of 1857. Titled Mazha Pravas (My Journey), the work is a fascinating up, close and personal narrative of historic events.

India

An inspiration to revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh, remembering Kartar Singh Sarabha's supreme sacrifice

In 1915, before the mass struggles that characterised much of the 1920s were launched, another young man was executed by the British administration. All of 19, his sacrifice served as a trigger of sorts to many others. His name was Kartar Singh Sarabha.

World

The language of the lion: Tracing the history of Sinhala, its complicated relationship with Tamil in Sri Lanka

There are as many points of convergence between Sinhala and Tamil, as there are of variance. In admitting the truth of this crucial fact and acting on it perhaps lies the future of Sri Lanka.

Lifestyle

A short history of the India Coffee House: Conversation, revolutionary politics and a different way to do business

Unassuming, unostentatious, efficient, reasonably priced and other such adjectives are what spring to mind when the India Coffee House is spoken of.

Lifestyle

To remember Guru Nanak is to necessarily remember Bhai Mardana, long extolled as the first Sikh

Mardana stood by his friend and mentor and played an important role in enabling Nanak's message to reach a wider audience

Arts & Culture

Gandhi's journals: How the Mahatma shaped a nation's ideas through Young India, Navjivan and Harijan

Many, before Gandhi, had employed the press to further their cause. Many did so after him. Few have been as effective as he was in the early 1920s when Young India and Navjivan were at their zenith.

Entertainment

How the films Jagriti and Bedari, mirroring each other, underline India and Pakistan’s shared culture

As elucidated by the two films, Indians and Pakistanis are far more alike than some of us would want to admit, and one can pass off for the other without too much effort.

Sports

In decoding the language of cricket, a look into the game's culture, gendered outlook and current lingual challenges

Cricket's greatest linguistic hurdle has come to the fore: the terms ‘batsman’ and ‘man of the match/series’ are now of a piece with terms like chairman, businessman and so on – gendered oddities that need a quick fix.

Lifestyle

Komagata Maru: The voyage that exposed the British Empire for what it was — a glorified profit-seeking operation

Less than two decades after the legendary Battle of Saragarhi, the much-feted soldiers of the British Empire came up against it in the Komagata Maru incident of 1914.

India

Migrants across eras: Exodus caused by lockdown mirrors untold suffering of indentured labourers from 19th century

Like the migrants who are currently walking back home across states, a century-and-a-half ago, many Indians — indentured labourers all — made similar travels in cattle-like conditions on steamships. Most ended up being cheated and denied a fair shot at life.

Life

As religion re-emerges as the faultline of Indian society, could Bhagat Singh's ideas of atheism be a way forward?

Bhagat Singh’s objection to faith and God seemed to be both philosophical as well as springing from the severe religious unrest that he observed around him which marred regular life in 1920s India.

Life

Sarnami: An Indian language born in South America, on the verge of becoming an endangered tongue

Sarnami (sometimes called Suriname Hindustani) is a mixture of the Indian tongues that the immigrants spoke. It has also adopted words from Dutch and Sranan Tongo. The grammar and lexicon of Sarnami reflect the influence of all its mother languages.

Life

Totaram Sanadhya, an Indian in Fiji: A life defined by the indentured labour system and the fight against it

An indentured labourer sent to Fiji, Totaram Sanadhya survived near-starvation and back-breaking work to become a successful sugarcane farmer. He travelled throughout the islands, meeting labourers and listening to their tales of woe. He would go on to write a letter to Mahatma Gandhi, requesting that an English-speaking lawyer be despatched to Fiji to help the Indians get organised