articles by Samrat


In grip of a vicious second wave, India needs to confront more than just the virus

Our society and country is going backwards, to great cheering and flag-waving.


The real business of politics: Parties are united by one ideology — maximising profit, maintaining systems of power

The politicians are only the stars of the election movies in which voters are the audience and party workers, the extras. The real power, ultimately, resides with those who decide which star and which script to back: the financiers.


The absurdity of conservatism: How enforcement of 'culture' is at odds with nation's real heritage and development

What we are witnessing now, in the form of enforcement of taboos of food, and the push against what is called “love jihad”, is an assertion of power by those who wish to conserve the old ways.


West Bengal polls: BJP, Muslim-led parties hope to unseat TMC as religious polarisation gains ground

Bengal is not like any other state of India when it comes to Hindu-Muslim politics. Both Hindu and Muslim religious politics have deep roots here, going back to the first Partition of Bengal in 1905.


The Hindutva ideal of Akhand Bharat has held firm but its spatial, chronological extents remain hazy

Hindu nationalists view the 1947 Partition of India as only the most recent in a long series of divisions of the territory of ancient Bharat. For them, the territorial concept, drawn from ancient Hindu texts, is that the entire landmass between the Indian Ocean and the Himalayas is Bharat.


After military seizes power in Myanmar, a fresh spell of uncertainty awaits Northeast India and its neighbours

The histories of Burma, Northeast India and Bangladesh have always been intertwined.


What 'populist' means: There's more to the label, associated with leaders like Donald Trump, than meets the eye

Perhaps one reason that the word “populist” becomes useless is because it describes a wide variety of political actors, spanning the ideological spectrum.


Our Hindu Rashtra review: In new book, Aakar Patel charts India's descent into a majoritarian nation

Comparing India’s case to Pakistan’s, it becomes clear that the mainstreaming of religious politics is having the same kind of effect here that Pakistan has already undergone.


Of bans, blasphemy laws and politically correct language: Meanings of words are not solely contained in themselves

A blasphemy law proscribing a certain word may raise awareness that a certain public behavior is socially unacceptable, but it cannot do very much more if the underlying attitudes have social acceptability.


2020, the year of conspiracy theories: As COVID-19 gripped the world, so did the desire for easy answers

Conspiracy theories offer simple, understandable explanations of events and help us regain a belief in human control over situations.


Damming Brahmaputra: With mega-dam plans, China might end up hurting itself more than India

The true idea of a river is not of a single stream of water between two banks, but a nervous system of watery arteries and capillaries that form the circulatory system of a living ecosystem in a particular river basin.


Why anti-migrant rhetoric is all bluster, no action: Nudge and wink policy allows politicians, businessmen to reap benefits

For all the Right-wing anti-migrant rhetoric now popular in many parts of the world, economic imperatives are powering migration flows that no amount of rule-making or wall-building can prevent.


2020 US Presidential Election is a referendum not only on Donald Trump, but also on his style of populist politics

It is obvious from the support for Donald Trump’s re-election bid that facts, logic and administrative acumen or its lack don’t count for much with angry people. Emotions do.


Donald Trump, Indian news channels and Bollywood: Notes on watching people say obnoxious things loudly

The job of the American president is not to entertain the world; he is not meant to be a clown. Similarly, and at a far smaller level of impact, it is not the job of TV news channels to keep viewers engrossed in the drama of what are essentially reality TV shows.


In David Attenborough's warning about the Earth's future, a lesson for liberals who have failed to unite for the planet's cause

The ability of some types of stories, such as those rooted in religion and nationalism to unite large numbers of people, has outstripped the ability of other stories, which are rooted in ideas of equality and emancipation, to bring people together.


As Rhea Chakaborty and Bollywood are vilified, silence of industry's biggest stars is no shocker

Despite the ongoing vilification of their industry and of a young member of their professional fraternity that went on for more than three months, none of the big stars of Bollywood found the heart to speak up.


An assault on the map: why the dispute between India and China in Ladakh may continue to escalate

The logic of proud nationalism dictates that maps may become larger, but they certainly cannot be allowed to shrink. This requirement to defend the map at any cost is part of the essential character of the nation-state.


On being a traveller versus a tourist: Intrinsic motives rather than ends distinguish one from the other

The ubiquity of ever-expanding tourism has robbed much of the world of such joys, driving the traveller ever further from the marauding selfie hordes, but there is still the occasional moment of felicity in a moment of discovery in some distant land


Ayodhya Ram Mandir: Symbol of 'Hindu pride' marks culmination of colonial view of Hinduism, project of Partition

The construction of the Ayodhya Ram Temple is a symbol of the return of Hindu power in the direction of restoring a Bharat of yore — a Bharat that never actually existed.


Notes from a pandemic: On the shared experience of COVID-19, and the significance of mundane little pleasures

For the first time in our lifetimes, we have a single reference point that our entire planet’s human inhabitants can relate to