When Bollywood bluebloods like Karan Johar must prove their patriotism and grovel before the ruling regime for protection, you know you’re in trouble. Like the writer Perumal Murugan before him, you know which side is winning: The thugs with muscle
Politicians in India have rarely been forthcoming about their health, taking refuge in the argument that they are entitled to their privacy. Do we as citizens have the right to know?
Some call this an age of mass distraction. I pick up my phone to make a call and before I know it I’m swirling down the rabbit hole of pings and updates, phone call quickly forgotten only to be substituted by a hastily remembered text message much later. I struggle with information overload. That guy whose book I read and loved six months ago? I need to Google his name
To dump the carcasses of cows outside administrative offices is a dramatic signal that sends an unambiguous message: Dalits can no longer be taken for granted
Passed by Parliament, the Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Bill fails our children, again
In the narratives we weave, Kashmiri citizens must be blamed for their own swift repression. In the Kashmiri narrative, the crackdown is yet another instance of the mainland’s immoral suppression of the natural Kashmiri longing for azadi. Neither side is prepared to hear the other
On June 24, a software engineer Swathi was attacked by a man with a knife in Chennai. As she lay bleeding, not one commuter came forward to help. Partly it’s a reluctance to get involved in a long-drawn legal process including police questioning and court appearances. Partly it’s a fear that intervention could lead to suspicions about guilt
A tragedy can be the starting point of change, and while changing laws don’t always immediately result in social change, scrapping Section 377 would at least be a beginning, and a fitting homage to 49
dead in Orlando. It would affirm their humanity — and ours
The failure of the Supreme Court to recognise just how damaging criminal defamation is to free speech is only the latest in a series of assaults. The point about free speech that has been reiterated more than once is that it necessarily includes the right to cause offence.
Nearly 540 million people are in the grip of drought. Here’s what you can do: Find NGOs working in drought-affected areas. Reach out to them with donations in cash, kind and your time. At the very least try empathy, listen to stories, embrace compassion
The injection of religious symbolism into the idea of India is deliberate, and dangerous
The Hanumanthappa story plays out at a time when few ideas unite us as a nation. It reminded us of our better selves, of how some things are worth fighting for and how some things must remain inviolate. We have lost a soldier up on the glacier, but also perhaps who we once were as a nation, united in optimism and idealism
Rohith Vemula was not just any son. He was a Dalit son, and to ignore his caste is to ignore the significance of his life and death.
The arrest of a comedian sends a clear message: Religion is out of bounds. Given the volatility of mob sentiment, perhaps a place to start would be for the Supreme Court to draw a line between religion and politics. We might make a tentative beginning with simply scrapping sections in law that today have become convenient tools to ban and intimidate inconvenient voices.
At a time when self-interest is regarded as a stepping stone to our notions of success, at a time when we teach our children that ambition is good and aspiration a quality to be striven for and at a time when we are strident in our demand for our rights, we need to be reminded that selflessness is also a virtue and that as citizens we have duties too
Who decides what is nationalism and how best it is to be displayed? For some, standing up for the national anthem is tokenism; for others it is a sacred duty. For some, our flag and national anthem are the glues of nationhood; for others, nationalism is best expressed through being good citizens
Language must evolve, not regress to a point where even 140-character tweets seem like essays. What an emoji says to me is this: I’m too lazy to type out thank you or sorry or well done. I’m too unsure about whether I can express myself without a symbol.
Perhaps I have been watching far too many intolerant nightly debates on our lack of tolerance, which tend to wear me down with their decibel level and leave me no wiser. In the words of a friend, I am suffering from intolerance fatigue.
Across the country from Dadri to Faridabad, Moodbidri to Udhampur, there’s a deep sense of unease at events spiralling out of control. Writers feel it, sociologists believe it and the president is concerned enough to have to publicly address it repeatedly in the course of a month.
Readers wrote letters to the editor — and they still do — because they wanted to express an opinion, vent or just see their name in print. This was their space. In India, most editors agree, the art of letter writing has plummeted. Perhaps the imperative to win the argument in our polarised times has resulted in communication being replaced by polemic.
At a meeting earlier this month to discuss a draft bill of rights for women that Delhi’s AAP government wants to introduce, some women express their anxiety over the proliferation of CCTVs that the government has announced as a safety measure.
The RSS’ antipathy to Nehru is well-known. There is a two-pronged attempt to downplay his iconography. The first is to broaden India’s pantheon of national icons — in this the BJP is right to redress a historical neglect by boosting such figures as Vallabhbhai Patel. But the second effort is to simply negate Nehru and his idea of a secular, pluralistic India
Hardik Patel’s agitation is not about just quotas but about re-examining a system that has over the years been used conveniently by political parties to further vote banks. Liberalisation’s children now want more. No government, leave alone one that came to power on the promise of development and ‘achche din’, can afford to ignore them.
Several incidents in the last few months show that though the country is celebrating its 69th Independence Day, it still has miles to go to achieve real freedom from many challenges. The only problem is that the list seems to be growing every single day.
Kalam was beloved because he symbolised a syncretic India. Fittingly, the last image of his burial has a sea of caps all around: The military caps, the taqiyah, Gandhi topis, a keffiyah, and even plain handkerchiefs. For one moment, a fractious nation was united in grief. Perhaps we were mourning for what we once were and might never be again.
If defamation is to be decriminalized, then civil remedies and financial compensation for the loss of individual reputations must be strengthened.
Few politicians in India have as canny an instinct for social media communication as Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In his general election campaign, he used it to his advantage, reaching out to a growing demographic of savvy users on Twitter, Facebook and Google hangouts.
As a bonafide member of Delhi’s power elite, Lalit Modi knows too many secrets. Is he trying to cut friends-turned-adversaries down to size? Who will he implicate next? Can Sharad Pawar, Praful Patel, Shashi Tharoor and Rajeev Shukla be safe? What is the security threat that Modi goes on and on about?
If the ongoing global gender conversation over sexual violence, over gay rights, over stereotypes just got a bit more interesting, then you can thank Caitlyn Jenner for that. Jenner’s decision to come out as a woman may not immediately open doors and dispel discrimination but it gives hope to many like her.
The sari will endure because when we Indian women want to dress up, when we attend weddings or festivals, when we want to feel special, the inevitable garment of choice is the sari. We are not the generation of our grandmothers and mothers who wore only saris (yes, even on the beach, alas), but our love and nostalgia for the draped fabric has seeped into our DNA from that lineage.
As social media emerges as a source of legitimate news and as Indian corporates muscle their way into media ownership, public trust in the fourth estate is only dwindling further, writes Namita Bhandare.
If a farmer hangs himself in his farm where there are no TV cameras, has he killed himself?
Two separate remarks, one by the prime minister and the other by the minister of state for external affairs, seem to have raised the pitch in a polarised environment.
If you believe that nine separate attacks on churches and several others on Christian-run schools in the last six months are just random occurrences then you also probably believe in the tooth fairy.
Perhaps no other case exemplifies judicial delay as much as the Uphaar fire that claimed 59 lives and left 103 injured in 1997. Now in its 18th year, the case has undergone the tortuous route of magisterial probe, CBI inquiry, adjournments and 344 hearings in the first seven years alone.
For most American Muslims, discrimination is a reality of their lives with 43% reporting discrimination in the last one year alone. The discrimination comes not just from ignorant red-necks but from those in positions of influence and leadership.
The Central Board of Film Certification's job should be to issue age appropriate certification, not play a public morality nanny with scissors in hand at the slightest whiff of sex, politics and religion. A nation of Perpetually Hurt Sentiment has no shortage of moral minders, writes Namita Bhandare.
At around the time that TV was breathlessly covering the 3.7 million people rally in Paris, there was considerably less attention on the protests in India against Tamil writer Perumal Murugan, whose novel Madhurobhagan was under attack, and who announced his retirement from writing, Namita Bhandare writes.
It's not a coincidence that the attack comes at a time when right-wing muscle flexing continues. But the PM has refused to utter a single word of disapproval, writes Namita Bhandare.
Apart from expressions of disapproval in meetings, Modi has been silent and it’s not clear whether he is upset that his development agenda is being hijacked, lacks the clout to shake off the RSS or is playing the good cop/bad cop where he will make the right noises about governance, leaving the Hindutva brigade free to pursue their agenda.
We know that caste and untouchability persist in India. What we don’t know is the extent. Certainly, our politicians’ overt play of the caste card has ensured that their vote-banks stay intact, writes Namita Bhandare.
Unfortunately, for all our talk about ‘respecting age’, we regard wrinkles and grey hair with a measure of horror. When we talk of our demographic challenge, it is inevitably about ageing, writes Namita Bhandare.
The right to life, guaranteed by our Constitution, is incomplete without the right to die. Individuals must be allowed to choose how to live their lives, or end them, without being judged by religious leaders or hampered by their country’s laws.
At this point, Haryana is poised for change, not just in government but for a new deal and a new direction for its women. It certainly deserves a chief minister who is more empathetic and better informed. Not one who sounds like an echo chamber of the khap panchayats in his state.
By placing the onus on individual participation, Narendra Modi is challenging every citizen. Can we actually stop to pick up and clean up our own mess, asks Namita Bhandare.
A festival tells those who are not of our religious persuasion who we are and what moves us. Why do we fast or dance. Religion at its best embraces, not excludes which is precisely why we need to invite and not dis-invite those who don’t practise our beliefs
As a heaving, aspirational India expands its cities and towns, space for walking seems to shrink proportionately. It’s a lesson that is being learned the hard way as nature brutally reasserts its supremacy, writes Namita Bhandare.
Love jihad propaganda inflames communal passions and leads to hardening stands in an already polarised environment, made more fragile by social media and viral rumours, writes Namita Bhandare.
Narendra Modi has a chance to lead, even change, the nation’s discourse. Right now, we are ripe for a thousand unspoken conversations: Secularism, inclusiveness, development, gender, poverty. But instead of a dialogue we have competitive shrillness.
Lowering the age of juveniles will take into account the reality of a changed India where crimes against women are on the rise. It will not, however, stop them unless we first create an environment of zero-tolerance, says Namita Bhandare.
Where does the trajectory of violence begin? Perhaps it begins by grabbing someone’s arm. Perhaps it begins with a slap. Today’s stalking becomes tomorrow’s acid attack. Today’s groping becomes rape. Namita Bhandare writes. Two common friends emerge key witnesses
The Ambassador symbolised a time when austerity was not just a cool statement of minimalism but also a necessity… Like the shared tiffin of long train journeys, the Amby was accommodating, stretchable and comforting, writes Namita Bhandare.
If Narendra Modi’s ego is as large as his detractors claim, then he will want to be remembered as a great prime minister, better even than Atal Bihari Vajpayee. To do that he will have to focus on growth and development. Namita Bhandare writes.
Compared to the geeky earnestness of her brother, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is a star. Her belated entry will not stop a likely UPA defeat, but you have to credit her with putting up a fight, writes Namita Bhandare.
A slap on Arvind Kejriwal's face or Narendra Modi's admission of his marriage to Jashodaben attracts more attention than real issues. Has any other poll been so dominated by personalities, asks Namita Bhandare.
A slim optimism lies in the start to a conversation of a changed India, an India where women outnumbered men as voters in all five of the recently held assembly elections.
With very few exceptions, politics no longer attracts the brightest and the cleanest. In an environment where we assume sab neta chor hain we opt for the least unattractive.
Paid news undermines democracy. Yet, as a sting operation goes public, why aren’t we more concerned?
We attack students because they look a certain way, we hound out Africans from neighbourhoods because ‘they are not like us’, we tie up books in lengthy litigation because we find their ideas unpalatable. This has become our national sport. Namita Bhandare writes.
AAP’s failure would be a severe setback to any future would-be reformer. And any success of its increasingly visible vigilante-style politics will send absolutely the wrong signal of a ‘success formula’ to rival parties. Namita Bhandare writes.
Men say they are scared by this new environment. Far too many women have lived in fear of the old environment. It’s time to pack the dinosaurs off to the museum, writes Namita Bhandare.
The SP deserves to lose. That’s a small compensation for those who live under open skies in the Muzaffarnagar riot relief camps, scrambling to rebuild what is left of their lives. Namita Bhandare writes.
Political parties are slowly realising that women constitute the largest vote-bank and they need to at least look concerned. But, dressed-up manifestos and sops like saris and pressure cookers won’t cut it any longer. Namita Bhandare writes.
Sexual harassment is an abuse of power, a betrayal of trust and one of India’s worst-kept secrets. But one thing has changed, and it is the refusal of an increasing number of women to remain silent, writes Namita Bhandare.
The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate should know that national pride lies in not wanting the world to look at India in admiration. It lies in making your country a better place for its citizens. Namita Bhandare writes.
Caught in a shadowy time between tradition and globalisation, post liberalised India's fascination for godmen continues. Namita Bhandare writes.
The national conversation, dominated by temples, toilets, has no patience for stories of Dalit women who face humiliation daily. Given the measly media coverage, their stories cause no outrage. Namita Bhandare writes.
Now that Rahul Gandhi has termed the ordinance on convicted lawmakers 'nonsense', it is pretty much dead in the water. What remains to be seen is whether the government will follow through by also withdrawing the Bill, writes Namita Bhandare.
So what changes now? Now that four convicts in the Delhi gang rape case have been sentenced to death will your daughter be able to take a bus from a late evening film show without worrying about making it safely home? Namita Bhandare writes.
The digital age of photography is empowers us to capture moments our memory might find hard to contain. It is an experience captured and is democratic, writes Namita Bhandare.
Hours after I return from Bhutan’s Mountain Echoes literature festival, I find myself rather appropriately elbow-deep in books. Lit fests open windows to this closed world. Namita Bhandare writes.
The most basic human act of one person telling another ‘I feel your pain,’ seems singularly absent in the landscape of Indian political-speak across parties and ideology. Namita Bhandare writes.
The juvenile justice system needs many changes to reflect social reality. Namita Bhandare writes.
A State can make it mandatory to look after the elderly. But what about emotional care? Namita Bhandare writes.
Despite numerous attacks, there are no street protests demanding justice for the victims of acid violence. No campaigns for the basic demand for the ban of acid sales, writes Namita Bhandare.
Never before has India’s lack of leadership been as depressingly obvious as it has been in the past few weeks. Never before has the moral vacuum that accompanies those in charge been so apparent. Namita Bhandare writes.
In India, we’re leap years away from giving women a just work environment. Namita Bhandare writes.
On Mother’s Day, spare a thought for the sufferings of millions of women. Namita Bhandare writes.
Elections in India are not decided by Twitter trends or 'likes' on Facebook. Namita Bhandare writes.
We must say ‘no’ to insensitive advertisements featuring women. If we are to change the way the industry sees women, then that change comes from the effectiveness of the industry to regulate itself. Namita Bhandare writes.
Hand on heart, how many of you cheered, or at least felt a bit relieved when you woke up to news of the death of Ram Singh, one of the principal accused in the Delhi December 16 gang-rape case? Namita Bhandare writes.
They might inspire fear, but the boards also bring parents closer to children.
Our failure to protest loudly enough makes us complicit with weak governance. It’s a silence that threatens democratic ideas and places every citizen, regardless of ideology, at peril, Namita Bhandare writes.
In the small room they call home, the family of the girl known as Delhi's Braveheart is trying to come to terms with its loss. Already there is no evidence that she lived here only a month ago. Namita Bhandare writes.
Things are changing: Gender issues are now a part of the mainstream discourse, writes Namita Bhandare.
A terrible thing happened to a girl who was trying to get back home after a movie. To not respond or speak or rage or demand change would make us less than human, writes Namita Bhandare.
A memorial is not just about building the tallest, biggest, grandest statue. Namita Bhandare writes.
In death, people have ceased to be objective about late Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray. Namita Bhandare writes.
The sudden ban on the entry of women by the trustees at Haji Ali could set a very dangerous precedent. If women are excluded today, it could be non-Muslims tomorrow. Namita Bhandare writes.
The problem is not that women have views. The problem is they don't find expression. Namita Bhandare writes.
A spate of rapes is not the occasion to score political brownie points. Instead of blaming women for crimes against them, maybe it’s time to start putting blame where it belongs. Namita Bhandare writes.
Women want rape to be treated as an awful crime, minus the added sting of honour. Namita Bhandare writes.
Hosanagara Nagaraje Gowda Girisha is praying for gold in 2016. If you're asking, 'Hosanagara who?' then you're probably not alone. Namita Bhandare writes.
Manu Ghosh has told her story many times and now she is exhausted. “You will write and go away, but for me, nothing changes,” she says, sitting on her hard wooden bed at the Meera Sahbhagini Mahila Ashray Sadan in Vrindavan.
It isn't tough to instil civic sense. We just need political will and responsible people. Namita Bhandare writes.
There's a message for women in the victories of Mary Kom and Saina Nehwal. Namita Bhandare writes.
For value education to succeed, the first lessons must begin at home. Namita Bhandare writes.
Let the Guwahati molestation case be the tipping point for change. Namita Bhandare writes.
The attack on an African student underlines our prejudice against 'outsiders'. Namita Bhandare writes.