Chanakya

Chanakya

History has an uncanny way of intruding into contemporary life and shaping our public conversation. A new controversy emerged recently over the relationship between Jawaharlal Nehru and Subhas Chandra Bose.

Articles by Chanakya
Over the past year, the federal structure has come under strain. A BJP win in Bengal and presence in government in Tamil Nadu will strengthen the Centre’s hand — while a TMC win in Bengal and a DMK win in Tamil Nadu will strengthen the voice of states (SANTOSH KUMAR/HTPHOTO)
Over the past year, the federal structure has come under strain. A BJP win in Bengal and presence in government in Tamil Nadu will strengthen the Centre’s hand — while a TMC win in Bengal and a DMK win in Tamil Nadu will strengthen the voice of states (SANTOSH KUMAR/HTPHOTO)

The 2021 elections will shape politics for years

UPDATED ON FEB 27, 2021 08:56 PM IST
The polls will shape the trajectory of national politics, determine the balance of power between the Centre and states, and reveal the current strength of national and regional forces
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PM Modi has clearly decided that the next generation reforms cannot be held back anymore — and that he will politically own it and attempt to convert it into an asset rather than fear the political costs associated with it. (PTI)
PM Modi has clearly decided that the next generation reforms cannot be held back anymore — and that he will politically own it and attempt to convert it into an asset rather than fear the political costs associated with it. (PTI)

Narendra Modi’s new political narrative

UPDATED ON FEB 14, 2021 06:47 AM IST
By assuming political ownership of agri-laws and the larger reform agenda, tinged with an element of nationalism and air of flexibility, the PM has outlined the nature of the political battle ahead
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India has the right to take its own decisions, frame its own laws, and work according to its own nationally defined priorities. Its democratically elected government has the mandate to push legislative changes and reorient policies within the framework of law. But at a time of global interconnectedness, there is bound to be enhanced scrutiny of its internal record (PTI)
India has the right to take its own decisions, frame its own laws, and work according to its own nationally defined priorities. Its democratically elected government has the mandate to push legislative changes and reorient policies within the framework of law. But at a time of global interconnectedness, there is bound to be enhanced scrutiny of its internal record (PTI)

The global scrutiny of Indian democracy

UPDATED ON FEB 07, 2021 06:43 AM IST
International responses to the farm protests are a result of a growing perception that India is turning back on its democratic roots. The most effective way to counter this is through action
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Union finance mnister Nirmala Sitharaman chairs a pre-budget meeting with States and UT's ministers at north Block, in New Delhi, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021. (PTI Photo) (PTI01_18_2021_000116A) (PTI)
Union finance mnister Nirmala Sitharaman chairs a pre-budget meeting with States and UT's ministers at north Block, in New Delhi, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021. (PTI Photo) (PTI01_18_2021_000116A) (PTI)

What the Union Budget needs to get right

UPDATED ON JAN 31, 2021 06:21 AM IST
India’s economic recovery has been impressive, but there are gaps. In the budget, focus on public spending, enhancing demand, job-oriented growth, health and the financial sector
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There are bound to be glitches — a power breakdown that ruins some doses; delays in the vaccine reaching some remote corners of the country; at least, some jumping of queues. But this is an exercise that India will manage well. If all goes well, a month from now, the country could well have more people who have received at least one dose of the vaccine than any other country (AFP)
There are bound to be glitches — a power breakdown that ruins some doses; delays in the vaccine reaching some remote corners of the country; at least, some jumping of queues. But this is an exercise that India will manage well. If all goes well, a month from now, the country could well have more people who have received at least one dose of the vaccine than any other country (AFP)

In India, the story of Covid-19 vaccines

UPDATED ON JAN 16, 2021 11:39 PM IST
India has done well. The rollout of the vaccines, despite a set of concerns, is a scientific milestone. But the State must, now, plan ahead
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A vibrant corporate capitalist base also leads to additional revenues for the State — which, in turn, can be used for greater welfare for the marginalised and creating a more level-playing field in terms of opportunities(Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)
A vibrant corporate capitalist base also leads to additional revenues for the State — which, in turn, can be used for greater welfare for the marginalised and creating a more level-playing field in terms of opportunities(Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)

In defence of reformed capitalism

PUBLISHED ON JAN 02, 2021 07:05 PM IST
Targeting corporate capitalism won’t help. It is essential for growth and democracy. Focus on reforming it.
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If Rahul Gandhi takes over again, it will help bring back some clear authority in the party — but this may not result in any electoral success. If he doesn’t take over, the question is who takes over, whether the new leader will be able to hold the organisation together, and be able to operate autonomously(Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)
If Rahul Gandhi takes over again, it will help bring back some clear authority in the party — but this may not result in any electoral success. If he doesn’t take over, the question is who takes over, whether the new leader will be able to hold the organisation together, and be able to operate autonomously(Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)

For the Congress, why status quo is untenable

By Chanakya | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON DEC 19, 2020 08:38 PM IST
Unless the party gets its leadership, messaging, organisation, and social base right, it stares at a third Lok Sabha defeat in 2024
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Any interest group in a democracy has the right to oppose the government peacefully and through constitutional methods. But this cannot be at the cost of undermining the rights of fellow citizens. To gain leverage in negotiations with the State, protesters have been inflicting costs on society(Sakib Ali /Hindustan Timess)
Any interest group in a democracy has the right to oppose the government peacefully and through constitutional methods. But this cannot be at the cost of undermining the rights of fellow citizens. To gain leverage in negotiations with the State, protesters have been inflicting costs on society(Sakib Ali /Hindustan Timess)

Farm reforms — how both sides faltered

By Chanakya | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON DEC 05, 2020 08:48 PM IST
While the Centre should have allowed a longer legislative process, agitators should not have disrupted lives and caused inconvenience to other citizens
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New Delhi is aware that managing the larger neighbourhood is inextricably linked to domestic stability, external power projection, and retaining its influence regionally at a time when China is actively intervening in smaller countries of South Asia with the explicit objective of undermining Indian interests(ANI)
New Delhi is aware that managing the larger neighbourhood is inextricably linked to domestic stability, external power projection, and retaining its influence regionally at a time when China is actively intervening in smaller countries of South Asia with the explicit objective of undermining Indian interests(ANI)

Chanakya: India’s new template for the neighbourhood

By Chanakya | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON NOV 23, 2020 06:21 AM IST
Managing South Asia — through hard instruments when unavoidable and close engagement whenever possible — is essential
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US President Donald Trump speaks about the presidential election results, White House, November 5, 2020(REUTERS)
US President Donald Trump speaks about the presidential election results, White House, November 5, 2020(REUTERS)

The meaning of the American mandate

UPDATED ON NOV 07, 2020 11:26 PM IST
Biden’s core challenge will be to heal the broken cultural, economic and democratic compact, all of which was reflected in the election
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Voters are sending a message that it is time to go beyond the basic welfare kitty or the business-as-usual identity battles now. Whether this marks a temporary shift or a deeper rupture in the relationship between political and economic performance will have to be seen.(ANI)
Voters are sending a message that it is time to go beyond the basic welfare kitty or the business-as-usual identity battles now. Whether this marks a temporary shift or a deeper rupture in the relationship between political and economic performance will have to be seen.(ANI)

Chanakya: Do jobs matter in Indian elections?

By Chanakya | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON OCT 31, 2020 10:03 PM IST
Parties and voters had an uneasy arrangement where job creation was not the key basis of political choices. Is Bihar changing that?
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The CM’s diminished popularity, uncertainty about the pandemic, changing social equations, and possible rifts within the ruling alliance have made the polls complex(Santosh Kumar/HTPhoto)
The CM’s diminished popularity, uncertainty about the pandemic, changing social equations, and possible rifts within the ruling alliance have made the polls complex(Santosh Kumar/HTPhoto)

Bihar: What we know, and what we don’t know

UPDATED ON OCT 25, 2020 06:18 AM IST
The outcome will hinge on the depth of anti-incumbency, the BJP-JD(U) dynamic, the ability of the RJD to expand its social base, and the impact of the pandemic
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A long-term approach involves de-desertification, re-greening and re-wilding of the Aravallis; the move to greener fuel for vehicles; better garbage management; and moving polluting industries out(Burhaan Kinu/HT PHOTO)
A long-term approach involves de-desertification, re-greening and re-wilding of the Aravallis; the move to greener fuel for vehicles; better garbage management; and moving polluting industries out(Burhaan Kinu/HT PHOTO)

Chanakya: The politics of Delhi’s air pollution

By Chanakya | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON OCT 17, 2020 07:56 PM IST
There are both immediate and long-term measures which can help. But the key is political will and convergence
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Paswan mattered due to two reasons. He symbolically represented the addition of the senior most Dalit mainstream political figure to any political coalition, and second, more substantially, Paswan had a loyal, albeit limited, base in his home state of Bihar(Hindustan Times)
Paswan mattered due to two reasons. He symbolically represented the addition of the senior most Dalit mainstream political figure to any political coalition, and second, more substantially, Paswan had a loyal, albeit limited, base in his home state of Bihar(Hindustan Times)

What Paswan’s exit means for politics

By Chanakya | Hindustan Times
PUBLISHED ON OCT 10, 2020 06:18 PM IST
The LJP leader’s departure is a reflection of how the old is broken and the new is yet to take root, both in Bihar and within Dalit politics
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The demolition began the process of the alienation of Muslims from the national mainstream. Invested in the promise of Indian constitutional, secular, republican democracy, December 6, 1992 came as a shock to the community(HT ARCHIVES)
The demolition began the process of the alienation of Muslims from the national mainstream. Invested in the promise of Indian constitutional, secular, republican democracy, December 6, 1992 came as a shock to the community(HT ARCHIVES)

Chanakya: The political aftermath of December 6, 1992

By Chanakya | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON OCT 03, 2020 07:04 PM IST
With the rise of Hindu nationalism, the beginning of the alienation of Muslims, and the erosion of the rule of law, India changed fundamentally
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The poll panel has announced a slew of guidelines on social distancing during the campaign and voting process. Whether these are followed or the elections increase the spread of the virus, is something we will know only in November(Arvind Yadav/HT PHOTO)
The poll panel has announced a slew of guidelines on social distancing during the campaign and voting process. Whether these are followed or the elections increase the spread of the virus, is something we will know only in November(Arvind Yadav/HT PHOTO)

Chanakya: Five factors which could shape the Bihar poll results

UPDATED ON SEP 27, 2020 06:47 AM IST
The pandemic’s effect on turnout, tensions in NDA, Muslim voter choices, impact of economy on anti-incumbency, and the changed political scenario will affect the outcome
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The BJP’s national leadership is clear that it will stick to Nitish Kumar for some more time — not because it trusts him but because it doesn’t want to take the risk of a repeat of the defeat of 2015(HT PHOTO)
The BJP’s national leadership is clear that it will stick to Nitish Kumar for some more time — not because it trusts him but because it doesn’t want to take the risk of a repeat of the defeat of 2015(HT PHOTO)

What Bihar will tell us about national politics

By Chanakya | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON SEP 20, 2020 05:43 AM IST
Given the pandemic, the nature of the election, of political competition, and of issues has changed. The outcome will reveal the mood
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External affairs minister S Jaishankar’s clear position linking peace at the border with the overall trajectory of the relationship is sound. Whether Beijing recognises the costs and pulls back, or whether it continues to dig in, is the big test in Ladakh(REUTERS)
External affairs minister S Jaishankar’s clear position linking peace at the border with the overall trajectory of the relationship is sound. Whether Beijing recognises the costs and pulls back, or whether it continues to dig in, is the big test in Ladakh(REUTERS)

India needs a refined toolkit to manage China

By Chanakya | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON SEP 12, 2020 07:01 PM IST
Build economic and military capabilities; deepen ties with the US; ensure friendly regimes in South Asia; exploit China’s weaknesses
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Facebook uses content produced by someone else under the garb of being an intermediary while making money off it. It allows hate speech and fake news under the garb of free speech while selectively making editorial interventions based on political and commercial motivations(AFP)
Facebook uses content produced by someone else under the garb of being an intermediary while making money off it. It allows hate speech and fake news under the garb of free speech while selectively making editorial interventions based on political and commercial motivations(AFP)

India must hold Facebook accountable

UPDATED ON SEP 06, 2020 10:27 AM IST
Unless there is a regulatory redesign, Facebook will continue its unethical practices at great cost to democracy
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Reforms such as GST are difficult to implement not because they do not have enough traction as ideas, but because the transition from the status quo to a new framework is challenging(PTI)
Reforms such as GST are difficult to implement not because they do not have enough traction as ideas, but because the transition from the status quo to a new framework is challenging(PTI)
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A relationship of respect, but distance, between the judiciary and the executive and a relationship of openness between the judiciary and citizens will help democracy thrive(Amal KS/HT)
A relationship of respect, but distance, between the judiciary and the executive and a relationship of openness between the judiciary and citizens will help democracy thrive(Amal KS/HT)

With due respect, your lordship

UPDATED ON AUG 23, 2020 05:55 AM IST
India’s judiciary is a key pillar which has to be fiercely independent and be seen as such
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Covid-19 has ravaged the economy. In the immediate term, India must provide a healthy fiscal stimulus with a large cash component and buy its way out of the crisis(Biplov Bhuyan/HT PHOTO)
Covid-19 has ravaged the economy. In the immediate term, India must provide a healthy fiscal stimulus with a large cash component and buy its way out of the crisis(Biplov Bhuyan/HT PHOTO)

By 75, can India get the economy right?

UPDATED ON AUG 15, 2020 07:31 PM IST
With the learnings from the coronavirus pandemic, India must evolve a long-term response. Here are four suggestions. Create a bad bank; focus on public health; rethink manufacturing; and get cities right
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If India values its democracy and unity, it must fight for secularism and liberalism. There is no first and second Republic — there is only the original Republic of India, with its progressive values(HTPhoto)
If India values its democracy and unity, it must fight for secularism and liberalism. There is no first and second Republic — there is only the original Republic of India, with its progressive values(HTPhoto)

In defence of India’s original values, writes Chanakya

By Chanakya | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON AUG 08, 2020 06:17 PM IST
The original values of the Constitution— secularism, liberalism and democracy— work together — and have helped sustain national unity. A liberal and secular State cannot but be a democratic State, which deepens national unity. But when there is an attack on one value, the others become vulnerable.
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Each institution, autonomous and constitutionally or legislatively mandated to act in a particular way, according to first principles, has acted in ways that can raise questions(Shutterstock)
Each institution, autonomous and constitutionally or legislatively mandated to act in a particular way, according to first principles, has acted in ways that can raise questions(Shutterstock)

The tale of Indian institutions | Opinion

By Chanakya | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON AUG 02, 2020 06:34 AM IST
Governments come and go. Political parties rise and fall. But the Constitution — and its vision of independent institutions — is permanent, and ensures both stability and legitimacy of the political system. The story of the erosion of institutional autonomy can, thus, erode both the stability and legitimacy of the system.
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Narendra Modi too carried forward this legacy, letting go of the hurt that the US visa ban on him must have caused, introducing a new diplomatic style at Madison Square, getting Barack Obama as chief guest for Republic Day, and remaining invested in the relationship with Donald Trump.(Getty Images)
Narendra Modi too carried forward this legacy, letting go of the hurt that the US visa ban on him must have caused, introducing a new diplomatic style at Madison Square, getting Barack Obama as chief guest for Republic Day, and remaining invested in the relationship with Donald Trump.(Getty Images)

India must get ready for a tougher world | Opinion

By Chanakya | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON JUL 25, 2020 07:24 PM IST
India — which had a period of relative international security and benign climate — will today have to gear up for a more unstable environment and more hostility
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Rahul Gandhi’s ascent to party president seemed to signal a generational change. But with his resignation, the Old Guard has returned. Many of these senior leaders are competent, but the future of a party that needs to reinvent itself cannot be outsourced to those who are in their 70s(Biplov Bhuyan/HT PHOTO)
Rahul Gandhi’s ascent to party president seemed to signal a generational change. But with his resignation, the Old Guard has returned. Many of these senior leaders are competent, but the future of a party that needs to reinvent itself cannot be outsourced to those who are in their 70s(Biplov Bhuyan/HT PHOTO)

Decoding the crisis in the Congress | Opinion

By Chanakya | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON JUL 18, 2020 08:39 PM IST
This isn’t about Rajasthan. The crisis in the Congress is symptomatic of a larger crisis within the party. It is a crisis that has been in the making for long. But when a party is in power, it is possible to paper over cracks and keep going
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The system is dysfunctional because different stakeholders have an incentive in ensuring that there remains a wide gap between the normative and the empirical. Dubey’s case is a classic example(PTI)
The system is dysfunctional because different stakeholders have an incentive in ensuring that there remains a wide gap between the normative and the empirical. Dubey’s case is a classic example(PTI)

Vikas Dubey: How India is dysfunctional by demand, writes Chanakya

UPDATED ON JUL 12, 2020 05:37 AM IST
And it is dysfunctional, because it suits everyone — including those meant to protect it — that it remains so
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A priest and a labourer wear personal protective equipment (PPE) at a crematorium, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease in New Delhi, India, July 3, 2020.(REUTERS)
A priest and a labourer wear personal protective equipment (PPE) at a crematorium, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease in New Delhi, India, July 3, 2020.(REUTERS)

The intersection of politics and science, writes Chanakya

By Chanakya | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON JUL 05, 2020 06:03 AM IST
The two most powerful tools in any country’s armoury, when it comes to fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, are data and science, and political leaders through the centuries have had an uncomfortable relationship with both.
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Despite some revival in activity and improvement in basic indicators with the easing of the lockdown, the economy is set to contract this fiscal year(ANI)
Despite some revival in activity and improvement in basic indicators with the easing of the lockdown, the economy is set to contract this fiscal year(ANI)

BJP: The governance-politics dichotomy | Opinion

By Chanakya | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON JUN 27, 2020 06:27 PM IST
Many believe that the scale of the health, economic and national security crises could erode BJP’s prospects. But this view underestimates the faith a large segment of citizens have in Modi
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The killing of 20 Indian Army personnel on June 15 has made the threat of China real and tangible for two generations of Indians and placed the relationship at the centre of public consciousness. It will shape the politics of nationalism(HTPHOTO)
The killing of 20 Indian Army personnel on June 15 has made the threat of China real and tangible for two generations of Indians and placed the relationship at the centre of public consciousness. It will shape the politics of nationalism(HTPHOTO)

The China factor in Indian politics

UPDATED ON JUN 21, 2020 11:05 AM IST
The BJP — by disengaging with Pakistan — has projected itself as a nationalist force. Its advice to the Opposition not to “politicise” the national security issue may go unheeded, for if the BJP has benefited from weaponising security for electoral ends, the Opposition will seek to emulate the same.
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