Saturday, September 6, 2014

No surprises here: Modi's Naxalite policy

One area in which the Modi government’s first 100 days has brought absolutely no surprises is the policy on Naxalites. Everything is as predicted, from increased militarization to the vitiation of environmental protections.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Felling the Straw Man

http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/felling-the-straw-man/

Having grown up on stories of Bunker Roy’s admirable work in Tilonia, I was distressed to read his article, “The Barefoot Government”. If this inconsistent, empirically flawed argument is any example of the kind of thinking he wants our educational system to encourage, there is something ‘dreadfully wrong’ with his proposed reforms.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Mimetic Sovereignties, precarious citizenship: state effects in a looking glass world




Just published in the Journal of Peasant Studies


This article explores the way in which the Indian state and the incipient Maoist state in central India mimic while repudiating each other.  As against theories of sovereignty which see it either as authored from below (contract theory) or scripted from above (domination), or irrelevant to the extent that subject and state are co-constituted by regimes of power (cf. Foucault), I argue that in civil war, the display and practical exercise of statehood and sovereignty is critical. However, this is primarily aimed not at putative citizens but at the enemy. I look at the way in which the Indian state impersonates guerilla tactics in order to fight the Maoists, and the way in which the Maoists mimic state practices of governmentality. Each side identifies its own ‘citizens’ through uniforms, lists of people killed, and inscribes its ‘territory’ with memorials to its martyrs.  For the presumed citizens of these mimetic states, however, it is precisely these markers of identity and legibility which make them more vulnerable. Membership of parallel regimes holds out both promise and precarity.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

FYUP row: It's time to put the institution first

FYUP row (Hindustan Times, 25 June)

Where Are The War Poets ?


They who in folly or mere greed
Enslaved religion, markets, laws,
Borrow our language now and bid
Us to speak up in freedom’s cause. 

It is the logic of our times,
No subject for immortal verse –
That we who lived by honest dreams
Defend the bad against the worse.                                   


 Cecil Day Lewis.

If it were not so near home, the farce unfolding over Delhi University’s Four Year Undergraduate Program (FYUP) would be entirely funny. To have Madhu Kishwar accuse Smriti Irani of being an agent of the left, and to have the left describe the UGC take over of the university as a great victory is bad enough, without the added spectacle of a divided Congress unable to decide whether the FYUP is much loved or much hated. The fact is, the university had no business passing the FYUP in the manner that it did, but the UGC has even less business going over the heads of the university administration and the academic council. If today it can write directly to College Principals threatening to withdraw funding unless they revert to a three-year program, tomorrow it might do the same unless they agree to implement courses in Vedic astrology or compulsory Hindi teaching in all courses.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Do elections ensure democracy?

In a competitive bid to bare each other’s dirty linen this election season, political parties have raised the ghosts of 1984’s Sikh massacres and 2002’s Muslim pogroms. Each party claims that the other is guilty, but as for itself, it has been given, in that peculiarly Indian phrase, a ‘clean chit’.  


Mr. Modi tells us he will be found innocent in the “people’s court”,  and was “waiting to hear their verdict”.  Clearly Mr. Modi has no regard for any other kind of court, least of all a constitutionally appointed judiciary. He is not alone in this - every major political party seems to believe that winning elections is an alternative to judicial accountability.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Everywhere a Maoist Plot



By going to town as the Chhattisgarh police and media have recently done on my alleged Maoist links, the real questions have been sidelined. As citizens of this country do we have the right to protest democratically and constitutionally, and as journalists, researchers or human rights activists, are we free to pursue our vocation?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

On Siddharth leaving The Hindu

http://www.tehelka.com/yes-there-is-bitterness-the-hindu-was-on-the-cusp-of-something-great-varadarajan/#.UmfzVcu9oJM.twitter