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.
His greatness was that he appeared above politics. In retrospect, that was also his weakness.
SC’s reading of the Representation of People Act could turn a large chunk of democratic mobilisation illegal.
Cycles of reaction and counter reaction, periods of stability and disruptive mobilisation, are, recurring features of politics.
We no longer trust politics, language, institutions. We look for saviours and leaders who have the power to act on the world
The foundations of liberal democracy became more fragile than ever globally in 2016. But, there was still reason for hope in these times
It distracts our attention from vital questions of institutional health and economic governance.
Criticism of public institutions is not an indictment as much as it is an act of love.
It is a reminder of how slight its authority has become
Law does not matter, form does not matter. There will be constant mobilisation
Gareth Stedman Jones’s authoritative biography of Marx is a portrait of a 19th century polymath, not an ideologue bound by dogma
Demonetisation politics unfolds as a vast morality play. Its imagination unleashes the state on you, in the name of protecting your own virtue.
Trump’s victory underlines a sense of dread, of what lies in the dark spaces.
Let’s find another name for cult of the leader, tyranny of nationalism, use of state power to suffocate opposition.
Issue is not just the fate of Tatas. A letter like Mistry’s could deepen the credibility crisis of Indian capitalism.
The authority of American democracy has taken a beating. Restoring faith will be a tough ask.
Her outing speaks about us: The idea that publicity could be a loss of freedom has become alien to us.
India’s government may want calibrated strategic escalation, but this genie will not be put back in easily.
Remember, this is a state where defeat led to even more militarisation and radicalisation; this is a state that is willing to bear the cost of great internal violence, so a little more experience of internal violence will hardly dent it
Arvind Kejriwal, Nitish Kumar, Rahul Gandhi, they all seem diminished.
Reconfigure triple talaq debate: It is about individual freedom and equality vs coercion and subordination
The issue is not taming politics with dharma. It is how to understand dharma differently.
Or insaniyat? Or jamhooriyat? In Kashmir, so-called solutions are riddled with contradictions and divisions
The truth in India’s new position is this: We have acknowledged that India, Pakistan are deeply hyphenated.
Institutionalisation of the GST regime has more than a touch of romance; it is also practically wise
Anti-corruption movement produced political churning, but left institutional issues unaddressed.
Gujarat unrest and misogyny against Mayawati show while Dalit lives have improved, conflict has increased
Will attacks, like the one in Nice, ultimately bridge serious differences between great powers?
How does one address words to Kashmir? What do you say in a political context where all texts are sub texts, all ends dead ends?
An attribute of this cabinet reshuffle is the recognition that politics is, first and foremost, about social mediation
India’s claim is not in doubt, but its NSG bid shows machismo more than maturity.
With Britain voting to leave the European Union, we are now entering a brave new world
One way of skirting them in the next polls is to bring trifurcation of the state on to the political agenda.
Liberalism needs to recover the noble lie that ideas are not politics by other means.
Islam is best explained by investigating its contradictions, instead of wishing them away
When government creates a credibility crisis for itself, premium on anyone who looks half-credible goes up.
Modi government’s backward-looking instincts keep pulling down its forward-looking mission.