Karan Thapar

Karan Thapar is a super-looking genius who’s young, friendly, chatty and great fun to be with. He’s also very enjoyable to read.

Articles by Karan Thapar

Why R-Day’s Beating Retreat saddened me

What is fixed in my memory are the retreating bands, climbing Raisina Hill. As they reached the crest, the sun would start to set. It made everyone gasp with delight. Alas, much of that is history.

Beating Retreat is a military ceremony that possibly began in the 17th century when James II was King of England. It was intended to signal the end of battle. (Sanjeev Verma/HT Photo)
Beating Retreat is a military ceremony that possibly began in the 17th century when James II was King of England. It was intended to signal the end of battle. (Sanjeev Verma/HT Photo)
Updated on Feb 06, 2023 10:45 AM IST

Three old books, but fine vacation reads

Two of them are biographies, a genre I find most enjoyable. The first is Zareer Masani’s slim but revealing and insightful work on Thomas Macaulay

I’m going to strive to read more of the books I buy or receive. May be not all and probably not the full book in every case but most and as much as I can take. After all I don’t want to find, five years from now, that some of the best books I’m reading I could have picked up half a decade ago. I can’t afford to make that mistake again! (Hindustan Times)
I’m going to strive to read more of the books I buy or receive. May be not all and probably not the full book in every case but most and as much as I can take. After all I don’t want to find, five years from now, that some of the best books I’m reading I could have picked up half a decade ago. I can’t afford to make that mistake again! (Hindustan Times)
Updated on Jan 28, 2023 09:17 PM IST

Prince Harry’s book is both curious and embarrassing

The style of the book is taut, tense, and staccato. Like a thriller. But the language lacks depth, and when the content flags, it can pall, even irritate.

This book is full of revelations and there’s an awful lot of them. (Reuters)
This book is full of revelations and there’s an awful lot of them. (Reuters)
Published on Jan 21, 2023 07:42 PM IST

Move forward, but cherish the past too

Carols at Christmas seem as natural as the aarti and fireworks at Diwali or semiya ki kheer at Eid. But will religion now determine what we can sing and partake of?

I know change is inevitable and the world must evolve but are there no traditions we want to retain? If Abide With Me is a symbol of colonialism, what about Beating Retreat itself? Could it be in danger too? If only I was sure the answer is no (PTI)
I know change is inevitable and the world must evolve but are there no traditions we want to retain? If Abide With Me is a symbol of colonialism, what about Beating Retreat itself? Could it be in danger too? If only I was sure the answer is no (PTI)
Updated on Jan 14, 2023 07:55 PM IST

Some unfamiliar Einstein sayings to kick-start 2023

I’ve never been able to understand E=mc², but I’m in lockstep with the rest of his wisdom. It’s a shame we don’t know more about this side of him. So, let me, this Sunday, tell you about the Einstein we’re not familiar with.

If, like me, you’re surprised but delighted to discover how deep and penetrating Einstein’s perception of human beings was, then let me tell you his understanding of himself was equally sharp. (Getty images)
If, like me, you’re surprised but delighted to discover how deep and penetrating Einstein’s perception of human beings was, then let me tell you his understanding of himself was equally sharp. (Getty images)
Published on Jan 07, 2023 06:22 PM IST

New Year resolution? I don’t have one... yet!

Today, as 2023 gets underway, I’m not sure what New Year’s resolution to make. I like the feeling of saintly virtue when I deliberately deny myself something I like, but I can’t think of what it should be

There was a time when I did without fail. I would make pious commitments which I would rigidly stick to for a week, weakly pursue for one more and happily forget thereafter. The first week felt good. The next left me feeling guilty. But the best was when I cast off the resolution and returned to my bad old ways. (PTI)
There was a time when I did without fail. I would make pious commitments which I would rigidly stick to for a week, weakly pursue for one more and happily forget thereafter. The first week felt good. The next left me feeling guilty. But the best was when I cast off the resolution and returned to my bad old ways. (PTI)
Updated on Dec 31, 2022 08:55 PM IST

A spymaster recounts his life in the shadows

In AS Dulat’s A Life in the Shadows, you will come across stories and people you otherwise would never find out about. This is what makes the book such fun

Former Research and Analysis Wing head AS Dulat in Chandigarh (HT PHOTO)
Former Research and Analysis Wing head AS Dulat in Chandigarh (HT PHOTO)
Updated on Dec 24, 2022 09:26 PM IST

Of pointed humour, digs and Doon’s class of 1971

My class of 1971 at Doon had a reunion and I met up with several old friends. But if anyone thought age, experience, and wisdom would have curbed our penchant for laughter at someone else’s expense they couldn’t have been more surprised.

They say there’s nothing more cruel than schoolboys. They’re wrong. Far worse are those you were at school with — even after 50 years! (Shutterstock)
They say there’s nothing more cruel than schoolboys. They’re wrong. Far worse are those you were at school with — even after 50 years! (Shutterstock)
Published on Dec 17, 2022 08:13 PM IST

What the fuss over a film revealed about our society

Whether or not Israeli screenwriter Nadav Lapid was right to criticise a specific film at the award ceremony is a legit-imate question. but A bigger concern was our behaviour

We deliberately chose to misconstrue what Lapid said. (File Photo)
We deliberately chose to misconstrue what Lapid said. (File Photo)
Published on Dec 10, 2022 07:37 PM IST

The curious case of counting terrorists

Last week, a senior police officer revealed that there are 81 active terrorists in the Kashmir Valley as of now, including 29 locals and 52 foreign terrorists. How on earth can the data be so precise?

Jammu and Kashmir Police along with village defence gaurds carry out searches in forward areas along the international border, in Jammu, November, 25, 2022 (PTI)
Jammu and Kashmir Police along with village defence gaurds carry out searches in forward areas along the international border, in Jammu, November, 25, 2022 (PTI)
Updated on Dec 03, 2022 09:02 PM IST

Facts and concerns about the collegium system

Is the collegium system of choosing judges perfect? Can it be considered intrinsic to the basic structure of our Constitution? Here’s what simple research has revealed.

A bigger concern is the quality of judges selected by the collegium. (PTI)
A bigger concern is the quality of judges selected by the collegium. (PTI)
Published on Nov 27, 2022 07:40 PM IST

Why you should visit Bahrain at least once

Now, if you’ve visited the Emirates but remain fond of shopping, sea sports, the desert and the feel of a modern city, why not try Bahrain for your next weekend vacation?

The population is about 1.6 million, and I was told that includes 400,000 expatriates from India, three-fourths of whom are from Kerala. Wikipedia claims over 43% of the population are non-Arab Asians. I presume they’re expatriate workers. Bahrainis themselves are just 47%. (WIKICOMMONS)
The population is about 1.6 million, and I was told that includes 400,000 expatriates from India, three-fourths of whom are from Kerala. Wikipedia claims over 43% of the population are non-Arab Asians. I presume they’re expatriate workers. Bahrainis themselves are just 47%. (WIKICOMMONS)
Updated on Nov 19, 2022 07:21 PM IST

Some revelations on RBI, and advice for governors

C Rangarajan has published his account of his decades at RBI, culminating as its governor, and his period as governor of united Andhra Pradesh. It’s full of delectable details and amusing anecdotes.

Forks in the Road: My Days at RBI and Beyond. (Penguin Random House)
Forks in the Road: My Days at RBI and Beyond. (Penguin Random House)
Published on Nov 12, 2022 07:50 PM IST

When a simple call led to an uncomfortable truth

Recently, When a young journalist asked me what I think about cricket, I said, “I don’t think about cricket.” And when she wouldn’t take that as an answer, I found myself in a conversation that took a bizarre turn

“I find cricket mindless, dreary and tedious,” I said. (AP/Representative Image)
“I find cricket mindless, dreary and tedious,” I said. (AP/Representative Image)
Published on Nov 06, 2022 02:23 PM IST

What India can learn from British politics

In India, We have perhaps 200 million Muslims but they have been invisibilised. So, today, when we take pride in Sunak’s meteoric rise, why don’t we also look at ourselves and ask: Could a Muslim PM be possible in India?

Although Sunak’s elevation may be the most striking development, it’s by no means the full story. 20% of Boris Johnson’s first cabinet was of Black or Asian origin. (Reuters)
Although Sunak’s elevation may be the most striking development, it’s by no means the full story. 20% of Boris Johnson’s first cabinet was of Black or Asian origin. (Reuters)
Updated on Oct 29, 2022 08:07 PM IST

India’s pharma sector has much to answer

A new book on the sector concludes that many facilities are flouting quality and process control procedures. Yet they seldom face any material punishment. This must change

I would say this is the book’s conclusion: “It is obvious that a number of Indian pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities are completely flouting quality and process control procedures.” Yet they “seldom face any material punishment for a crime that could seriously hurt or kill people.” This is truly frightening. But if the government doesn’t act, there’s nothing any of us can do. (Hemant Mishra/ Mint)
I would say this is the book’s conclusion: “It is obvious that a number of Indian pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities are completely flouting quality and process control procedures.” Yet they “seldom face any material punishment for a crime that could seriously hurt or kill people.” This is truly frightening. But if the government doesn’t act, there’s nothing any of us can do. (Hemant Mishra/ Mint)
Published on Oct 22, 2022 06:54 PM IST

An interesting read on the Anglo-Indian community

Barry O’Brien’s new book, The Anglo-Indians: A Portrait of a Community, tells you everything you ever wanted to know about the community. It is a cornucopia of encyclopaedic information.

Barry O'Brien's The Anglo-Indians: A Portrait of a Community. 
Barry O'Brien's The Anglo-Indians: A Portrait of a Community. 
Published on Oct 15, 2022 08:04 PM IST

In the Congress poll, did Tharoor get used?

Was Tharoor naïve in believing the Gandhis? When questioned, he said he could hardly doubt Sonia Gandhi’s word. If he did, he would be calling the Congress president a liar. That’s understandable, but the question remains. Was he naïve to believe what she said?

Before deciding to contest, Tharoor met each of the three Gandhis. He’s publicly said they readily assured him they would not, surreptitiously and unofficially, support a favourite candidate. There would be no secret anointing. Word would not be passed down the line indicating their preference. (L. Anantha Krishnan)
Before deciding to contest, Tharoor met each of the three Gandhis. He’s publicly said they readily assured him they would not, surreptitiously and unofficially, support a favourite candidate. There would be no secret anointing. Word would not be passed down the line indicating their preference. (L. Anantha Krishnan)
Updated on Oct 08, 2022 05:28 PM IST

How a Manipur order threatens our freedoms

The State notified an order requiring books on the state’s history, culture, tradition, geography to be submitted to a committee, headed by the education minister, for approval. This is a violation of our right to free speech and expression

The order says: “Some books published on the history, culture, tradition and geography of the state contain material which may either distort facts or disturb the peaceful coexistence amongst various communities.” 
The order says: “Some books published on the history, culture, tradition and geography of the state contain material which may either distort facts or disturb the peaceful coexistence amongst various communities.” 
Published on Oct 01, 2022 03:28 PM IST

Can Congress ensure free and fair polls?

A free and fair poll to choose the party president may be held, but the electoral college has not been properly chosen. Equally importantly, the body that will choose the CWC is nominated and not,as required, elected

If the election on the 17th is contested, will “Delhi” send a message anointing its preferred candidate to ensure he or she is elected? (REUTERS)
If the election on the 17th is contested, will “Delhi” send a message anointing its preferred candidate to ensure he or she is elected? (REUTERS)
Updated on Sep 24, 2022 06:24 PM IST

Why does the Queen still command our attention?

What are the attributes of this sceptred isle that enthral the world? The first is its monarchy. The second is through its language. And a third reason is the BBC. And I’ll add one more reason to explain the British allure: It’s their sense of humour

Queen Elizabeth II has lost an empire, and she’s arguably no longer a meaningful power, but she can still command the world’s attention. (AP)
Queen Elizabeth II has lost an empire, and she’s arguably no longer a meaningful power, but she can still command the world’s attention. (AP)
Published on Sep 17, 2022 08:05 PM IST

Sunak lost, but he has his eye on the future

He’s 42 and if he has to wait till 2029, he’ll still be under 50. His decision to sit on the back benches is a sign he has his eye on the future.

Rishi Sunak, former UK chancellor of the exchequer, London, August 31, 2022 (Bloomberg)
Rishi Sunak, former UK chancellor of the exchequer, London, August 31, 2022 (Bloomberg)
Updated on Sep 10, 2022 07:37 PM IST

Of Bilkis Bano, remission, and the Supreme Court

The Bilkis Bano case has become a litmus test at many levels. That’s the case for Indian women and for the SC. But isn’t that also true for our country? I would say it is. Because, on the outcome depends the sanctity of justice

To start with, let’s not forget it’s the same Supreme Court that set in motion the process of remission with, arguably, some very questionable decisions to whom we are appealing. (AP File Photo)
To start with, let’s not forget it’s the same Supreme Court that set in motion the process of remission with, arguably, some very questionable decisions to whom we are appealing. (AP File Photo)
Published on Sep 03, 2022 07:11 PM IST

What a revived Congress will mean for India today

There is substantial evidence to suggest the BJP could be vulnerable in 2024. A revived Congress, under an effective and respected president, could use this to determine the election result

A non-Gandhi Congress president may well be chosen, but will the family give him the freedom to act, speak, change strategy, and seek alliances as he wants? (PTI)
A non-Gandhi Congress president may well be chosen, but will the family give him the freedom to act, speak, change strategy, and seek alliances as he wants? (PTI)
Published on Aug 27, 2022 08:06 PM IST

We have turned our back on Rushdie

Rushdie is possibly the greatest, certainly the most widely read and by far the best known, author of Indian origin. Yet we’ve turned our back on him

In 2000, in an interview for BBC’s Hardtalk India, I asked Rushdie: “Is this country still home?” This was his reply: “There’s a sense in which the country in which you were born and grew up as a child is always home. You never have that feeling about any other place. Anyone who reads my books knows the extent to which my imagination calls this country home.” (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
In 2000, in an interview for BBC’s Hardtalk India, I asked Rushdie: “Is this country still home?” This was his reply: “There’s a sense in which the country in which you were born and grew up as a child is always home. You never have that feeling about any other place. Anyone who reads my books knows the extent to which my imagination calls this country home.” (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Updated on Aug 20, 2022 08:56 PM IST

India at 75: Looking back to look ahead

India at 75 is a time to assess our successes and failures, but also to ask what sort of country have we become. These are not issues that can yield definitive answers. Each person is likely to have his own and for him, it’s the correct one.

No doubt it’s our achievements we will remember. That’s understandable. But even if we don’t speak about it, let’s not forget where we went wrong. (Raj K Raj/ Hindustan Times)
No doubt it’s our achievements we will remember. That’s understandable. But even if we don’t speak about it, let’s not forget where we went wrong. (Raj K Raj/ Hindustan Times)
Published on Aug 13, 2022 06:12 PM IST

New revelations about the nullification of Article 370

A recently-released book, Hamin Ast? A Biography of Article 370, published by the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, could create a stir because it argues that the nullification of Article 370 is legally unsound. 

Hamin Ast argues the nullification of Article 370 is unconstitutional for three reasons. They are technical, and you need to know exactly what steps were taken and how that was done to understand them. (PTI)
Hamin Ast argues the nullification of Article 370 is unconstitutional for three reasons. They are technical, and you need to know exactly what steps were taken and how that was done to understand them. (PTI)
Published on Aug 06, 2022 05:55 PM IST

Boris’s term reflected a clear shift in UK’s society

The truth is Johnson’s government reflects a deeper and wider change in British society. The most obvious example of this is the media

20% of Johnson’s first cabinet was of Black or Asian origin. Later, two of the most powerful portfolios, home and the exchequer, were in “Indian” hands. (AFP)
20% of Johnson’s first cabinet was of Black or Asian origin. Later, two of the most powerful portfolios, home and the exchequer, were in “Indian” hands. (AFP)
Published on Jul 30, 2022 07:55 PM IST

How effectively are India’s legislatures functioning?

When you look at how Parliament has developed since Independence, it seems party leaderships have been strengthened at the cost of MPs, and political parties have gained at the cost of legislatures

The 16th, which was the last full LS, worked for 1,615 hours, 40% lower than the average for all full-term LSs. In the 1950s and 1960s, LSs almost touched 4,000 hours. Clearly, the amount of time it now spends at work is shrinking. (PTI)
The 16th, which was the last full LS, worked for 1,615 hours, 40% lower than the average for all full-term LSs. In the 1950s and 1960s, LSs almost touched 4,000 hours. Clearly, the amount of time it now spends at work is shrinking. (PTI)
Updated on Jul 23, 2022 07:48 PM IST

Salute the voices of our conscience

These three judges seem uniquely brave and bold. I can’t think of many other leading luminaries who’ve expressed similar disillusionment and defiance

After the SC delivered its Teesta Setalvad judgment, justice Madan Lokur said, “Heaven help us,” if the court intended her arrest. The sentence in the verdict that attracted his dismay was: “As a matter of fact, all those involved in such abuse of process, need to be in the dock and proceeded with in accordance with law.” (Getty Images)
After the SC delivered its Teesta Setalvad judgment, justice Madan Lokur said, “Heaven help us,” if the court intended her arrest. The sentence in the verdict that attracted his dismay was: “As a matter of fact, all those involved in such abuse of process, need to be in the dock and proceeded with in accordance with law.” (Getty Images)
Updated on Jul 16, 2022 07:51 PM IST
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