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.
At Kathmandu, Modi could seize the chance, sketch a new regional imagination.
There is nothing more than bad faith in the Left and Congress’s crocodile tears over the decimation of higher education.
How a charismatic leader was undone by the smaller mistakes.
Left is flailing. But India’s right also substitutes abstract logic for historical judgement.
Will the BJP’s dominance rework federal equations?
He honed in on the yearning to defeat defeatism. How do you lock horns with that?
Our fascination with surveillance-based discipline stems from a culture of control.
Modi intuits link between communication and change. There’s no other game in town.
Katherine Armstrong's Fields of Blood charts the complicated relationship between religion and violence across a wide arc of history.
Supreme Court itself has muddied constitutional interpretation beyond recognition.
The US and China are isolated in their own ways.
A potent mix of nostalgia and unresolved hurt has come to drive world politics.
Recent economic logjam underlines need to remake the state for the 21st century.
The clear message was that our big problems are not market failure or state failure, but social failure.
Because this government’s actions are brewing potential education sector troubles
Gaza’s tragedy: All sides have given up on problem, are only trying to win argument.
Government has quickly descended into a mix of trifles, alibis and risk averseness.
Judicial appointments row, stoked by Katju revelations, is not about reform.
How a dialogue across continents shaped modern Indian thought.
Government doesn’t get it. Problem is not decision making, but state capacity.
How our overheated language politics affects learning outcomes.
Would any serious education system treat decisions like the FYUP with such whimsy?
On institutions, NDA repeats the footlooseness of UPA
Clue: Each is designed to achieve the opposite of what its name implies
The UPA committed them. The new government should avoid them.
If PM Modi is serious about minimum government, he could begin with civil liberties.
A zone of individual freedom competes with a federation of communities.
The election that broke every known rule of Indian politics.
Why the college cut-off system needs to be rethought.
Will it be cleansing, or deform politics for some time to come?
CAG audit of telcos raises questions of blunt accountability instruments.
If a BJP government comes to power, the Narendra Modi issue is going to cast a shadow on India-US ties.
The point is not that voters want to compromise with communalism for the sake of growth.
His equations with regional leaders could shape the course of the BJP.
Here, intellectual engagement transcended identities in the name of knowledge.
Not only does it produce a vicious politics, it colonises everything else as well.