Pratap Bhanu Mehta

Pratap Bhanu Mehta is President, Centre Policy Research, New Delhi, one of India's top think tanks. Before he started engaging with contemporary affairs, he taught political theory at Harvard, and briefly at JNU.  He has written extensively on intellectual history, political theory, law,  India's social transformation and world affairs. He is the recipient of the Infosys Prize, the Adisheshiah Prize and the Amartya Sen Prize.  He has been singularly blessed with wonderful colleagues and is grateful that all the institutions he has been associated with, value their independence fiercely. He misses having students, since nothing better expresses the idea of a good life than a good seminar.   He believes the purpose of writing is to provoke thinking not to provide instruction.  Although politics and the contemporary world excites him, the high point of the day for him  remains "retiring with the ancients," to use Machiavelli's phrase.  There is nothing like retiring with old books, that have more of the world in them than we often recognize.

Inglorious uncertainty
Thu, Sep 14, 2017

Government is getting a free pass on the economy, which remains vulnerable to voodoo interventions

Skimming the shallows
Tue, Aug 29, 2017

Jaggi Vasudev’s ‘consciousness talk’ shows little understanding of the function of morality

Small step, no giant leap
Wed, Aug 23, 2017

SC invalidated triple talaq, but majority did not uphold constitutional values over religious belief and practice

The too late nation
Tue, Aug 15, 2017

Question after Gorakhpur: Is India at 70 too late to recover its own humanity?

Reading Freedom
Sun, Aug 13, 2017

Tryst with who? What sort of destiny? Seventy years after Independence, the peculiar dignity and anxiety that freedom bestows on us allows us to make or unmake ourselves.

Beyond Jamia
Tue, Aug 08, 2017

Let’s ask: Under what conditions, which educational institutions need special protection, for what purposes?

Old ways die hard
Fri, Jul 28, 2017

Nitish Kumar’s shifting sides holds a lesson for the Opposition — politics as usual will not help counter BJP. The larger message for national politics is the opposition to the BJP cannot be built with the rotten materials of the old order.

Dancing on the edge
Wed, Jul 26, 2017

India’s internal situation, from Gorkhaland to Kashmir, has become more fragile than it has been in a decade. The Chinese might think it is easier to put an Indian government on the back foot, and in part that seems to be the intention. India has to find that sweet spot where it can signal that it cannot be pushed around easily.

The untimely dissident
Sat, Jul 15, 2017

Liu Xiaobo showed that a politics that rises above resentment, that is without enemies, is possible

The fires of Bengal
Sat, Jul 08, 2017

But it will take an act of imaginative statesmanship to make sure that the fires of Baduria and Basirhat do not become the inferno of Bengal.

May the silent be damned
Tue, Jun 27, 2017

A big riot would concentrate the mind, make a damning headline. A protracted riot in slow motion, individual victims across different states, simply makes this appear another daily routine. This makes opposing it harder; it makes holding onto the outrage nearly impossible.

Enlarge the frame
Fri, Jun 23, 2017

India needs to be more liberal and internationalist, and worry less about what the US president thinks of it

The power paradox
Wed, Jun 14, 2017

In trying to establish its political dominance, the BJP is unable to manage multiple expectations

Presstitute chronicles
Wed, Jun 07, 2017

CBI raids on NDTV are a bigger, more worrying story than just one media house coming under fire

The march to spectacle
Mon, May 29, 2017

Army faces a tough mob in front of it. But it has more to fear from the mob behind it, egging it on

The Mind of the Saints: Speculations around Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Ramana Maharishi
Sat, May 27, 2017

Arun Shourie’s remarkable book on the neurological and the mystical is subversive — and an act of tough love.

On triple talaq, court must say: Religious practice cannot trump modern constitutional morality
Thu, May 18, 2017

Underlying the “triple talaq” questions are deeper issues about the nature of constitutional law in India.

Supreme Test
Sat, May 06, 2017

Aadhaar-related cases could tell us whether our jurisprudence is fit for an age of technology

Iqbal’s wrong turn
Wed, Apr 19, 2017

Pakistan is grappling with the boundaries of his idea of religious toleration. India is going down the same path

Sinking Valley
Sat, Apr 15, 2017

New Delhi’s strategy of containment by force has failed, there is a deepening death wish in Kashmir

It’s about US, not Syria
Sat, Apr 08, 2017

America’s strikes aim at maintaining its ideological self-image, not solving a major humanitarian crisis.

Yes, bring on Bharatiyata
Wed, Mar 29, 2017

A deep exposure to Indian culture might cure its custodians of prudishness, machismo, homophobia

In the moment of his political triumph, Modi has chosen to defeat India
Mon, Mar 20, 2017

Hubris has set in. The BJP believes it can get away with anything — it now intends to 

Victor and the vanquished
Mon, Mar 13, 2017

BJP’s dominance could turn into hubris. But what if opposition’s despair turns into more timidity?

Closing of the University
Fri, Mar 03, 2017

As the right stamps itself, central universities will see politicisation that destroyed state universities.

Delhi blast acquittals: When will politics go beyond my favourite innocent vs yours?
Wed, Feb 22, 2017

Delhi blast acquittals raise a question: When will politics go beyond my favourite innocent vs yours?

The land of desire
Sat, Feb 11, 2017

Reading Hegel is always challenging. But an anthology of his work on India highlights how, even in his most prejudiced criticism, he could shine a light on unusual questions.

Big Brother is winning
Wed, Feb 08, 2017

The enhancement of state powers without control or transparency is not being done against our wishes

Steadying the ship
Thu, Feb 02, 2017

Budget is a sober response to fear and uncertainty. But will it help tackle gathering storm in global capitalism?

The republic’s paradox
Thu, Jan 26, 2017

India celebrates both democracy and elections. But is the latter dominating the former today?

Barack Obama, the professor
Tue, Jan 17, 2017

His greatness was that he appeared above politics. In retrospect, that was also his weakness.

High principle, dubious law
Wed, Jan 04, 2017

SC’s reading of the Representation of People Act could turn a large chunk of democratic mobilisation illegal.

In the new world
Sun, Jan 01, 2017

Cycles of reaction and counter reaction, periods of stability and disruptive mobilisation, are, recurring features of politics.

The year of the will
Sat, Dec 31, 2016

We no longer trust politics, language, institutions. We look for saviours and leaders who have the power to act on the world

In the End is the Beginning
Sat, Dec 31, 2016

The foundations of liberal democracy became more fragile than ever globally in 2016. But, there was still reason for hope in these times

This government’s modus operandi is constant distraction
Sat, Dec 24, 2016

It distracts our attention from vital questions of institutional health and economic governance.