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Kanishk Tharoor

Kanishk Tharoor is a writer and broadcaster. He is the author of Swimmer Among the Stars, a collection of short fiction, and the presenter of the BBC radio series Museum of Lost Objects. He tweets as @kanishktharoor.

Articles by Kanishk Tharoor

In the US, the gun is a talisman of rugged virtue in the face of a changing world

The American attachment to guns has much less to do with high constitutional principle or even practical need (67% of gun owners may say they have guns “for protection,” but crime rates in America have plummeted since 1990; there is an inverse relationship between rates of violent crime and the manufacture of guns, which has grown exponentially in the last 20 years)

A cardboard cut-out of US President Donald Trump stands in front of a large banner that reads
Updated on Jun 02, 2018 10:30 AM IST

Why Arsene Wenger will always be different from the rest

Leaving the club may be something of a mercy for Wenger, allowing him new chances to win the adulation and respect he deserves

For many Arsenal fans of my vintage, Wenger is the only “gaffer” we have known, synonymous with the club from his commitment to graceful football to his cosmopolitan bearing to his owlish, professorial demeanour to the coincidence of his first name Arsene(Action Images via Reuters)
Updated on May 05, 2018 11:19 AM IST

We can be proud of our identities and culture without insisting on its certainty

I always find it puzzling and a little sad how nativists cling to the wishful purity of their vision of the past. Why allow yourself to be humiliated by the likely fact of migration? If your sense of self is dependent on insisting that you are a purer and a truer Indian than others, then you have bigger problems than the inconvenient findings of genetic science.

A full face reconstruction model made from the skull of a 10,000 year old man, known as ‘Cheddar Man’, Britain’s oldest complete skeleton is pictured during a press preview at the National History Museum in London on February 6, 2018(AFP)
Published on Apr 13, 2018 06:29 PM IST

Nativist tendencies are pulling down the United States

Many Americans still cling onto the idea that their country is in some part a “racial” project, that there is a core cultural or ethnic identity to the nation, and that their whiteness in some way makes them superior to others.

US President Donald Trump waves as he steps off Air Force One, Maryland, January 18.(AFP)
Updated on Jan 24, 2018 05:38 PM IST

How a polarised United States benefits Donald Trump

The quarter or third of Americans who steadfastly support Trump’s administration are unlikely to be upset by his behaviour. His incitement helps polarise Americans and strengthen his base of support

US President Donald Trump at the National Prayer Breakfast, Washington (File Photo)(NYT)
Updated on Dec 07, 2017 08:45 AM IST

Terrorist attacks make the humdrum rhythm of the city feel like an act of resistance

Cities like New York and London and Mumbai are inevitable targets for extremists. They defy zealots and purists. They are diverse, complicated, and contradictory.

A member of the police department's crime scene unit searches the location where terrorist Sayfullo Saipov drove down a Manhattan bike path and went on a rampage with a truck in New York City. Eight people were killed and 12 were injured when 29-year-old Saipov intentionally drove a truck onto a bike path(AFP)
Updated on Nov 10, 2017 06:50 PM IST

Acceptance for autocracy is growing in India

A new Pew study launched this week shows that commitment to democracy around the world is inconsistent. By international standards, a large proportion of Indians (27%) “very strongly” support having a “strong leader” who can bypass democratic checks and balances.

Chinese President Xi Jinping bows before delivering his speech during the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in Beijing, October 18. Democratic countries are refreshed and renewed by free elections. The Chinese system of state capitalism, supervised by an entrenched political elite, poses an alternate model.(REUTERS)
Updated on Oct 26, 2017 08:06 AM IST

FIFA U-17 World Cup puts India on the footballing world map

I hope that galvanises more investment, better coaching, training, and scouting for youth players, and more opportunities for local footballers to pursue meaningful careers in the sport. I also hope it wins the national football team even a portion of the support lavished upon India’s celebrity cricketers.

The Indian football team represents the breadth of the country. It boasts players of Hindu, Sikh, Christian and Muslim backgrounds, from places as disparate as Kerala and the northeast (the under-17 squad is particularly full of players from the northeast, the growing centre of Indian football)(AP)
Updated on Oct 06, 2017 05:52 PM IST

Dissent is not simply a right, it’s fundamentally a civic virtue

Journalists, activists, scholars, students and protesters shouldn’t have to fear being physically attacked or killed for their views

The killing of Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru reminded me in a number of ways of Hrant Dink’s death. Both Lankesh and Dink voiced unpopular opinions. Both ran small, fairly marginal publications whose impact outweighed their size(Ravi Choudhary/HT)
Updated on Sep 10, 2017 06:56 PM IST

A principled economic left turn could right the Congress ship

It seems clear now that fighting the BJP at the level of identity is not working; the lofty rhetoric of pluralism can’t compete with Hindutva

Shaken by repeated BJP successes, the Congress is searching for new moorings(PTI)
Updated on Aug 26, 2017 07:31 AM IST
ByKanishk Tharoor

How Modi and Trump use public rallies to build their political persona

These rallies help cement Trump’s position among the minority of Americans who remain firmly in his camp. His rallies are like the passion plays of medieval Europe, figuring a virtuous hero against forces of evil in a quest for the redemption of the people.

US president Donald Trump with Prime Minister Narendra Modi speak at the White House’s Rose Garden during Modi’s trip to Washington in June this year.(AFP File Photo)
Updated on Aug 12, 2017 10:11 AM IST

For once, Donald Trump cannot blame it on fake news

Mails from Trump Junior released this week show that Russia wanted to help Donald Trump against Hillary Clinton, and that both Trump’s son and son-in-law Jared Kushner were involved in building connections to Russia

A file picture of US President Donald Trump with his son Donald Trump Jr (left). For the first time, Trump supporters have begun expressing concerns about the administration’s handling of the Russia imbroglio.(AFP)
Updated on Jul 15, 2017 04:42 PM IST

India is warming up to Israel, but Americans are growing sceptical of Tel Aviv

While more Americans still sympathise with Israel over Palestine, attitudes are changing. Criticism of America’s unflinching support of Israel is more palpable than before

People protesting for Palestinian rights attend the ‘Celebrate Israel’ parade, New York City, June 4. Criticism of America’s unflinching support of Israel is more palpable than before(REUTERS)
Updated on Jul 03, 2017 09:44 AM IST

The Indian American is no longer on the fringe of US pop culture

For a long time now popular culture in the US has assumed the universality of the white American experience. That is slowly changing. Today, Indian figures star not as exotic tokens of another world, but as fully realised individuals

Hasan Minhaj speaks during the Asian-Pacific Heritage reception at Gracie Mansion, New York, May 10, 2017(AP)
Updated on Jun 17, 2017 12:30 AM IST

India and US are seeing the rise of poisonous politics and attacks on minorities

Trump’s rise has unleashed energies into public life that were previously suppressed. Under the Narendra Modi-led government, a similar majoritarianism is visible

Jeremy Christian, accused of fatally stabbing two Good Samaritans who tried to stop Christian from harassing a pair of women who appeared to be Muslim, shouts during an appearance in Multnomah County Circuit Court in Portland, Oregon, US, May 30, 2017(Reuters)
Updated on Jun 19, 2017 07:33 AM IST

To end racism, elevate a wider spectrum of Indians in public culture

In India, we worry about racism against Indians in places like Australia and the United States, but we don’t consider our daily biases towards our compatriots to be racist

Having grown up outside of India, I’ve always been struck on my trips home by the perverse obsession with colour. The glorification of fair skin is a recurring and inescapable feature of Indian life. Just last week, a fringe Hindu group won global attention for promising to “customise” fair offspring for dark-skinned parents(Hindustan Times)
Updated on May 30, 2017 04:16 PM IST

Aadhaar is an electronic leash on citizens

The Aadhaar card is an attempt to strengthen the Indian state, a shortcut to circumvent the incremental process of institution-building and social development that has enabled wide-scale tax collection in the West. There is an admirable reluctance in much of the West to grant too much to the state. Many western countries also have legal protections for privacy that don’t exist in India.

Swayam Gupta lost out on a school scholarship because his name is misspelt on his Aadhaar card. His bank passbook shows an entry of Rs 1,200 in his account. However, he cannot withdraw the money as his name in the Aadhaar card has been erroneously spelled as Shivam.(Arun Sharma/HT PHOTO)
Updated on May 05, 2017 11:48 AM IST

As the Trump example shows, power does not temper flawed leaders

Demagogues have long portrayed themselves as authentic representatives of the nation, while their opponents and critics are inauthentic and, worse, anti-national.

President Donald Trump delivers remarks at the National Republican Congressional Committee March Dinner in Washington, US(REUTERS)
Updated on Mar 23, 2017 05:54 PM IST

Attacks against Indians in US: Show solidarity with Muslims, Blacks, other victims

Hostility to economic migrants and outlandish Islamophobia are breeding an atmosphere of hate and violence in the United States

People listen during a vigil in honour of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, who was shot dead in Kansas, United States. Hostility to economic migrants and outlandish Islamophobia are breeding an atmosphere of hate and violence.(REUTERS)
Updated on Mar 09, 2017 01:45 PM IST

In their animosity towards the media, Modi and Trump think alike

Both the US President and the Indian Prime Minister try to limit journalistic access and centralise the flow of information. But Trump is far more prolific and committed in his abuse of the media

US President Donald Trump, PM Narendra Modi. The parallels between Trump’s and Modi’s relationships to the media are clear. Both leaders enjoy using Twitter to circumvent traditional channels.
Updated on Feb 23, 2017 01:24 PM IST

The Trump administration wants Americans to feel terrified of the Muslim ‘other’

Trump has said almost nothing publicly about the Quebec killings, but his administration took the extraordinary step this week of releasing a list of 78 Islamist attacks it felt deserved more media coverage

US President Donald Trump talks to Steve Bannon at the White House in Washington, DC January 22, 2017. Bannon, the far-right ideologue who now serves as Trump’s chief strategist, has brought a brand of ‘civilizational’ zeal, long cultivated on the fringes of American politics, straight into the Oval Office.(REUTERS)
Updated on Feb 11, 2017 07:18 PM IST

The ripple effect of a Trump presidency in US felt in Bhubaneswar

Aside from a potential reduction in visas, it seems unlikely that US foreign policy towards India will change all that much under Trump

US President Donald Trump’s naked appeal to majoritarian white nationalism and jingoism (invoking the “red blood of patriots” and other archaic metaphors from darker times) marks a turn away from the open multiculturalism that has always represented the best in American society(AFP)
Updated on Jan 30, 2017 06:10 PM IST

Instead of draining the swamp, Trump is muddying the waters

Donald Trump pledged to “drain the swamp” of Washington, to sweep away encrusted political elites and corporate interests. Now as president-elect, he is assembling an administration that will tug the United States towards oligarchy

US president-elect Donald Trump during a news conference, Manhattan, New York City, January 11, 2017(Reuters)
Updated on Jan 12, 2017 09:21 PM IST

Why many young Indians and Americans have authoritarian leanings

This is not to say that authoritarian dictatorship is just around the corner, but it does highlight a problem shared by India and the United States, the world’s largest pluralist, ostensibly liberal democracies. The institutions and political assumptions that sustain the democratic systems of both countries inspire less and less confidence.

Donald Trump’s supporters imagine him as a wrecking ball to the old political order. In that sense, he has much in common with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.(Reuters)
Updated on Dec 30, 2016 01:09 AM IST

Standing Rock protest unites various strains of disquiet in American politics

There are ready parallels for Standing Rock in the mineral-rich regions of central India, where tribal groups wrestle with the promise and peril of resource extraction in their lands, the prospect of mines and mills pockmarking once sacred geographies

For months, people have camped on the now frozen plains of Standing Rock reservation to block the completion of the nearly $4 billion Dakota Access Pipeline. The remaining section of pipeline is supposed to pass under the Missouri River, close to the Standing Rock reservation. Indigenous activists claim it will endanger the local environment and violate the sanctity of their sacred lands(Reuters)
Updated on Dec 15, 2016 10:47 PM IST

Americans didn’t choose Trump because of economic concerns

Donald Trump based his campaign almost entirely on the politics “difference” and identity

Since Donald Trump’s shock victory last month, the Democratic Party and its supporters have plunged into a cantankerous inquest(AFP)
Updated on Sep 17, 2018 10:49 AM IST

In Donald Trump’s world, principles are incidental and mirage is everything

From real estate to reality television to his campaign for the presidency, Donald Trump has built and championed a world in which principles are incidental and mirage is everything

Demonstrators at the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States, November 12, 2016(REUTERS)
Updated on Nov 21, 2016 10:22 PM IST

The US is protesting against a system that normalises Donald Trump

Donald Trump is not just another president. He is a man who, by all accounts, has never read a book, has proven singularly incapable of basic human empathy, has exploited his employees, built his political career on racist smears of Obama, and stands accused by numerous women of sexual violence

These protests are not meant to challenge the legitimacy of the election (even though he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly two million, Trump won the “electoral college” fairly). Rather, the protests send a clear message of disapproval(AFP)
Updated on Nov 14, 2016 09:30 PM IST

The US presidential campaign is inordinately long. This must change

Every election cycle, Americans enter a hall of mirrors, searching for substance in a maelstrom of breathless and impressionistic media “content”. It’s time this changed

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton (L) and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, at the Alfred E Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, New York, October 20, 2016(AFP)
Updated on Nov 02, 2016 09:30 PM IST

US presidential campaign has exposed deep rifts in American society

The Democrats and Republicans no longer properly represent the various rifts in society beneath the surface of the political system

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton departs the stage following the third and final US presidential debate with Republican nominee Donald Trump (background) at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 19, 2016(AFP)
Updated on Oct 24, 2016 11:45 PM IST
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