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

Budget 2022 and the economic challenges

In a recent paper for Foreign Affairs, Arvind Subramanian says the problem lies with India’s “software”, his quaint term for the country’s key economic policies
Subramanian’s dislike of protectionism and India’s reluctance to join regional trade agreements are largely because they’ll deter the investors India wants to lure from China. (AFP)
Subramanian’s dislike of protectionism and India’s reluctance to join regional trade agreements are largely because they’ll deter the investors India wants to lure from China. (AFP)
Updated on Jan 15, 2022 08:48 PM IST
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Landmarks of the first 25 years of Independence

PM Modi, at a recent convocation address at IIT, Kanpur, deplored the ‘fact’ that little was done in the first 25 years after Independence to make India self-reliant. In a letter to the PM, an alumnus of IIT Kanpur explains why he disagrees with the PM
In this time of Covid-19, how can anyone forget the Indian Council of Medical Research and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS)? The first was established in 1948. The second, in 1956 (Amal KS/HT PHOTO)
In this time of Covid-19, how can anyone forget the Indian Council of Medical Research and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS)? The first was established in 1948. The second, in 1956 (Amal KS/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Jan 08, 2022 06:59 PM IST
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Living with death, with dignity, is bravery

We give no medals for it and often we don’t even acknowledge it, but the quiet dignity of those who are bravely dying is a heroism that surpasses valour and strength.
Charging towards certain death takes extreme courage. But living with your death, as it steadily and irreversibly creeps on you, knowing you cannot win yet determined to live with dignity, calls for a resolve that is tested every day, maybe every minute, with no end in sight except death itself. (Shutterstock)
Charging towards certain death takes extreme courage. But living with your death, as it steadily and irreversibly creeps on you, knowing you cannot win yet determined to live with dignity, calls for a resolve that is tested every day, maybe every minute, with no end in sight except death itself. (Shutterstock)
Updated on Jan 01, 2022 08:02 PM IST
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Omicron: There is a case for starting booster shots

India’s high seropositivity level of 68% is also unlikely to provide effective protection. South African research shows Omicron causes three times greater reinfections than Delta or Beta
Data from South Africa and Europe suggests Omicron’s doubling rate is 1.5-3 days, double Delta’s at a commensurate period of time. United Kingdom data shows household transmission is threefold higher. Together, this clearly means if Omicron is going to spread in India, Covid-19 cases could rise exponentially
Data from South Africa and Europe suggests Omicron’s doubling rate is 1.5-3 days, double Delta’s at a commensurate period of time. United Kingdom data shows household transmission is threefold higher. Together, this clearly means if Omicron is going to spread in India, Covid-19 cases could rise exponentially
Updated on Dec 25, 2021 07:27 PM IST
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Nagaland killings: An apology will raise the Army’s stature

The need to apologise is also corroborated by the belief that it will placate emotions in Nagaland. In other words, an apology is required both because it’s a moral imperative but also because it’s practically helpful
A soldier stands guard on a highway on the outskirts of Kohima, capital of Nagaland, December. 5, 2021. Angry villagers burned army vehicles in protest after more than a dozen people were killed by soldiers who mistakenly believed some of them were militants (AP)
A soldier stands guard on a highway on the outskirts of Kohima, capital of Nagaland, December. 5, 2021. Angry villagers burned army vehicles in protest after more than a dozen people were killed by soldiers who mistakenly believed some of them were militants (AP)
Updated on Dec 18, 2021 07:39 PM IST
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Beloved nursery rhymes with horrifying origins

“Jack and Jill”, which used to seem like an innocent frolic, is actually about France’s Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. In 1793, they were guillotined. These dark origins seem to be so for other rhymes too
Interestingly, several nursery rhymes have their origin in Tudor times (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Interestingly, several nursery rhymes have their origin in Tudor times (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Updated on Dec 11, 2021 05:58 PM IST
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Denying Munawar Faruqui his rights

On January 1, he was arrested in Indore and jailed for 37 days for a joke he never made. Yet, he was booked for allegedly hurting religious sentiments. Quite how, no one explained. If that doesn’t make you laugh, you could cry
It seems Faruqui’s existence, liberties, and rights are to be determined by them and not our Constitution.
It seems Faruqui’s existence, liberties, and rights are to be determined by them and not our Constitution.
Updated on Dec 04, 2021 10:20 PM IST
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In the United Nations, the battle of 2006

Shashi tharoor believes Ban ki-moon won the battle to become UN secretary-general because the US did not want a strong secretary-general. But would Shashi have been stronger? Alas, we’ll never know.
Why did India put up Shashi? He was never likely to win. Nor – despite his inexplicable claim to the contrary – did this “capture the Indian imagination”. It was folie de grandeur. (Amal KS/HT PHOTO)
Why did India put up Shashi? He was never likely to win. Nor – despite his inexplicable claim to the contrary – did this “capture the Indian imagination”. It was folie de grandeur. (Amal KS/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Nov 27, 2021 09:40 PM IST
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How LK Advani and Jaswant Singh saw Jinnah

At a rally, Amit Shah asked: “Does anyone feel Jinnah is great?”. He then said, “No one.” However, LK Advani and Jaswant Singh were two former BJP leaders who publicly stated their admiration of him in the past.
I asked if Jinnah hated Hindus. “Wrong. Totally wrong”, Jaswant Singh replied. “His principal disagreement was with the Congress Party … he had no problems whatsoever with Hindus”(Getty Images)
I asked if Jinnah hated Hindus. “Wrong. Totally wrong”, Jaswant Singh replied. “His principal disagreement was with the Congress Party … he had no problems whatsoever with Hindus”(Getty Images)
Updated on Nov 20, 2021 07:53 PM IST
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Of politicians and the free press in a democracy

We have the power to elect or remove politicians, but how much does our good opinion matter to them? This is what I wondered when I read British politician Andrew Mitchell’s autobiography on a flight to London
Now, do our politicians at the most senior levels, whether at Lok Kalyan Marg or South Block, fear how an issue could be portrayed on the front page of an Indian newspaper? (Shutterstock)
Now, do our politicians at the most senior levels, whether at Lok Kalyan Marg or South Block, fear how an issue could be portrayed on the front page of an Indian newspaper? (Shutterstock)
Updated on Nov 13, 2021 10:53 PM IST
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The mystery of the English language

Delightful ambiguity of some words makes English a fascinating language for those who know it but exasperating for those struggling to learn it
How many other languages can boast of such a cornucopia of eccentricities? (Wikimedia Commons)
How many other languages can boast of such a cornucopia of eccentricities? (Wikimedia Commons)
Updated on Nov 06, 2021 04:12 PM IST
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The Congress and its hypocrisy

The Congress seems like a party struggling to recover its lost fortunes but, inexplicably, rather than make things easy for itself, it’s determined to throw obstacles in its own path. Frankly, it’s doing a terrific job tripping itself up
New Congress members are required to give “an undertaking to never criticise the party’s policies and programmes in public forums”. (HTPHOTO)
New Congress members are required to give “an undertaking to never criticise the party’s policies and programmes in public forums”. (HTPHOTO)
Updated on Oct 30, 2021 07:16 PM IST
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The meaning of religion and God

Age has made me God-fearing. But of one thing I’m certain — we may call him by multiple names, view him in myriad forms, pray to him in different ways but there can only be one God
Hinduism accepted that so long as the goal was the ultimate truth, there could be several paths to reach it…This breadth of vision is Hinduism’s calling card to the world (Rajesh Kumar/HT Photo)
Hinduism accepted that so long as the goal was the ultimate truth, there could be several paths to reach it…This breadth of vision is Hinduism’s calling card to the world (Rajesh Kumar/HT Photo)
Updated on Oct 23, 2021 02:19 PM IST
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Sirens, horns: Gadkari’s ‘delightful but mad’ idea

As The Times puts it, “The sound of a horn is the sound of an emergency.” That’s even more true of a siren. the minister must not interfere with sirens on police vehicles, ambulances, and fire brigades. They need to make us jump to attention and immediately make way
In a speech last Tuesday in Nashik, the transport minister said the harsh sound of car horns and the screech of sirens are “irritating”. (Sanjeev Verma/HT PHOTO)
In a speech last Tuesday in Nashik, the transport minister said the harsh sound of car horns and the screech of sirens are “irritating”. (Sanjeev Verma/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Oct 16, 2021 08:13 PM IST
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In a changing world, a rethink of India’s foreign policy

A thought-provoking paper, recently released by the Centre for Policy Research, argues that the foundational source of India’s influence in the world… rests on four pillars: Domestic economic growth, social inclusion, political democracy and a broadly liberal constitutional order. Today, each of those pillars is wobbling.
The most interesting part of the recent CPR study concerns our immediate neighbourhood. India can only achieve great power status if it can succeed here. The problem is “China’s willingness to intervene in the domestic politics of India’s neighbours” and its enormous capacity to do so. (Amal KS/HT PHOTO)
The most interesting part of the recent CPR study concerns our immediate neighbourhood. India can only achieve great power status if it can succeed here. The problem is “China’s willingness to intervene in the domestic politics of India’s neighbours” and its enormous capacity to do so. (Amal KS/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Oct 09, 2021 12:18 PM IST
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The life and times of Indra Nooyi

Indra Nooyi’s autobiography is the delightful stories she relates. They cover her life and career, but also vividly describe her personality and emotions
For someone who’s so careful about what she’s writing, and how she’s conveying it, I can’t fathom how they crept into the book (Priyanka Parashar)
For someone who’s so careful about what she’s writing, and how she’s conveying it, I can’t fathom how they crept into the book (Priyanka Parashar)
Updated on Oct 02, 2021 07:33 PM IST
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A disturbing trend in the armed forces

To be honest, we don’t have evidence of a deep-set malaise in the army. But, equally, a few things have gone wrong. I’d like to believe these are errors that can be easily and swiftly corrected. But only if they are
I know that religion has a well-established role in the Army, but only based on the equality of all religions. Singling out one faith would breach that custom and practice. In the case of the artillery — a regiment that recruits from all faiths — this would amount to partiality and discrimination. (Hindustan Times)
I know that religion has a well-established role in the Army, but only based on the equality of all religions. Singling out one faith would breach that custom and practice. In the case of the artillery — a regiment that recruits from all faiths — this would amount to partiality and discrimination. (Hindustan Times)
Updated on Sep 25, 2021 06:49 PM IST
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We must condemn communal rhetoric

Ours is a secular country and Muslims are equal citizens. So, what does the Bharatiya Janata Party president’s and PM’s silence on Adityanath’s comments on the Muslim community amount to?
In a speech last Sunday, boasting of how much he has done, Adityanath still found a way of weaving in an attack on Muslims (Deepak Gupta/Hindustan Times)
In a speech last Sunday, boasting of how much he has done, Adityanath still found a way of weaving in an attack on Muslims (Deepak Gupta/Hindustan Times)
Updated on Sep 18, 2021 08:16 PM IST
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ByKaran Thapar

A troubling account of prejudice in court

Rejecting the bail petition of a man booked under the Uttar Pradesh Cow Slaughter Act, Justice Shekhar Kumar Yadav delivered a series of opinions that smack of prejudice and ignorance
There’s only one thing that’s, arguably, more troubling. Why are Justice Yadav’s peers — leave aside his superiors in the Supreme Court — silent? (Getty Images/Purestock)
There’s only one thing that’s, arguably, more troubling. Why are Justice Yadav’s peers — leave aside his superiors in the Supreme Court — silent? (Getty Images/Purestock)
Updated on Sep 11, 2021 07:33 PM IST
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The inside story of the ISI-Taliban nexus

What was the role of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and what do we know of the Taliban leadership?
What do we know of the bearded turban-wearing men who comprise the Taliban leadership? (AFP)
What do we know of the bearded turban-wearing men who comprise the Taliban leadership? (AFP)
Updated on Sep 04, 2021 06:40 PM IST
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Are we entering a new phase of Covid-19?

Dr Soumya Swaminathan, the World Health Organization’s chief scientist, clearly thinks so. “India could have reached some sort of stage of endemicity”, she says. That sounds carefully worded and measured until you hear the rest of her comment. “It’s very feasible we may continue like this with a few local but not severe ups and downs…that’s what seems to be happening.” That could explain Kerala.
A young woman takes a selfie as the health worker inoculates her with Covid-10 coronavirus vaccine, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, August 27, 2021 (Sakib Ali /Hindustan Times)
A young woman takes a selfie as the health worker inoculates her with Covid-10 coronavirus vaccine, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, August 27, 2021 (Sakib Ali /Hindustan Times)
Updated on Aug 28, 2021 08:30 PM IST
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In the 1960s, the Kabul of my childhood

It was a very different time, and Afghanistan, a very different country. But the Kabul that’s imprinted on my mind belongs to that decade
US soldiers stand guard behind barbed wire as Afghans sit on a roadside near the military part of the airport in Kabul on August 20, 2021, hoping to flee from the country after the Taliban's military takeover of Afghanistan (AFP)
US soldiers stand guard behind barbed wire as Afghans sit on a roadside near the military part of the airport in Kabul on August 20, 2021, hoping to flee from the country after the Taliban's military takeover of Afghanistan (AFP)
Updated on Aug 21, 2021 04:10 PM IST
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Our Olympic champions deserve all the credit

No doubt the highest in the land were among the first to applaud them, but the way they did it suggested that they wanted the attention on themselves
Remember, the team was the cynosure of all eyes. They were the reason we were watching (Rahul Singh/ANI Photo)
Remember, the team was the cynosure of all eyes. They were the reason we were watching (Rahul Singh/ANI Photo)
Updated on Aug 15, 2021 05:30 PM IST
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The unusual etymology of five simple words

A recent article by Simon Horobin reveals that, when they first came to be popularly used, each of the five words I’ve chosen meant something very different to what it does today
Now, it’s not surprising to find that words change their meanings over time (Shutterstock)
Now, it’s not surprising to find that words change their meanings over time (Shutterstock)
Updated on Aug 07, 2021 06:16 PM IST
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From reality to fiction, a tale of two opposites

Krishnan Srinivasan has written six books centred around an intriguing character he’s called Michael Marco. Marco is so different from the author that I wonder if Kris looked deep into a mirror and decided to create the opposite of what he saw?
Marco is no Hercule Poirot or Sherlock Holmes. Instead, his kindliness reminds you of Jane Marple, his manner and appearance of Inspector Ghote (Shutterstock)
Marco is no Hercule Poirot or Sherlock Holmes. Instead, his kindliness reminds you of Jane Marple, his manner and appearance of Inspector Ghote (Shutterstock)
Updated on Aug 02, 2021 08:15 AM IST
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The PM’s silence on Danish Siddiqui is distressing

The blood that flowed in his veins was the same as yours and mine. If the world felt the need to mourn his death, how come his own prime minister did not?
Remember, Siddiqui was no ordinary photojournalist. He won the prestigious Pulitzer in 2018 (AFP)
Remember, Siddiqui was no ordinary photojournalist. He won the prestigious Pulitzer in 2018 (AFP)
Published on Jul 24, 2021 07:27 PM IST
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A disturbing account of a father’s legacy

When I discovered former election commissioner Ashok Lavasa has written a book, I made a point of reading it. Called An Ordinary Life, it’s the story of his father, Udai Singh Lavasa, and it’s based on the diary that bauji, as he calls him, left behind
There isn’t a father in this world who doesn’t have character flaws. But how many sons would deliberately reveal them? It’s an astonishingly honest thing to do — and, therefore, creditable — but it presents a loved parent in a rather poor light (Hindustan Times)
There isn’t a father in this world who doesn’t have character flaws. But how many sons would deliberately reveal them? It’s an astonishingly honest thing to do — and, therefore, creditable — but it presents a loved parent in a rather poor light (Hindustan Times)
Updated on Jul 19, 2021 07:02 AM IST
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Reminiscing about the India I grew up in

I feel I live in a country that is very different to the one I grew up in. You could say that’s true for all old people. But there’s a difference. You expect the change to be progress. is this what we call progress?
If the past is another country, I want to go back to it. I don’t like the country India has become today. (AFP via Getty Images)
If the past is another country, I want to go back to it. I don’t like the country India has become today. (AFP via Getty Images)
Published on Jul 10, 2021 08:17 PM IST
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When an economist keeps a personal diary

The diary reveals something of Kaushik Basu I would never have guessed. He has a dry and subtle sense of humour. For someone who’s thought of economists as dour individuals, Basu’s wit is a pleasing way of being proven wrong
Called Policymaker’s Journal, the diary reveals he learned quickly. Initially baffled by how politicians can speak on so many different topics no matter how complex, he soon discovered the answer. “The trick…is to speak freely and not hold back because of any silly principles like, when you say something, it must mean something. As long as the sentences are sufficiently convoluted for their content to be a blur of words others will find meaning in what you say.” (Sanjeev Verma/HTPhoto)
Called Policymaker’s Journal, the diary reveals he learned quickly. Initially baffled by how politicians can speak on so many different topics no matter how complex, he soon discovered the answer. “The trick…is to speak freely and not hold back because of any silly principles like, when you say something, it must mean something. As long as the sentences are sufficiently convoluted for their content to be a blur of words others will find meaning in what you say.” (Sanjeev Verma/HTPhoto)
Updated on Jul 03, 2021 06:34 PM IST
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When a journalist should draw the line

The raison d’etre of a meeting last Tuesday, chaired by two leading Opposition leaders, was an anti-government purpose. I chose not to attend.
As opponents of the Narendra Modi government, they would inevitably give it a political colour, even though it might not be narrowly party-based (PTI)
As opponents of the Narendra Modi government, they would inevitably give it a political colour, even though it might not be narrowly party-based (PTI)
Published on Jun 26, 2021 06:23 PM IST
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Saturday, January 22, 2022