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.
Government is getting a free pass on the economy, which remains vulnerable to voodoo interventions
Jaggi Vasudev’s ‘consciousness talk’ shows little understanding of the function of morality
SC invalidated triple talaq, but majority did not uphold constitutional values over religious belief and practice
Question after Gorakhpur: Is India at 70 too late to recover its own humanity?
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.
Let’s ask: Under what conditions, which educational institutions need special protection, for what purposes?
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.
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.
Liu Xiaobo showed that a politics that rises above resentment, that is without enemies, is possible
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.
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.
India needs to be more liberal and internationalist, and worry less about what the US president thinks of it
In trying to establish its political dominance, the BJP is unable to manage multiple expectations
CBI raids on NDTV are a bigger, more worrying story than just one media house coming under fire
Army faces a tough mob in front of it. But it has more to fear from the mob behind it, egging it on
Arun Shourie’s remarkable book on the neurological and the mystical is subversive — and an act of tough love.
Underlying the “triple talaq” questions are deeper issues about the nature of constitutional law in India.
Aadhaar-related cases could tell us whether our jurisprudence is fit for an age of technology
Pakistan is grappling with the boundaries of his idea of religious toleration. India is going down the same path
New Delhi’s strategy of containment by force has failed, there is a deepening death wish in Kashmir
America’s strikes aim at maintaining its ideological self-image, not solving a major humanitarian crisis.
A deep exposure to Indian culture might cure its custodians of prudishness, machismo, homophobia
Hubris has set in. The BJP believes it can get away with anything — it now intends to
BJP’s dominance could turn into hubris. But what if opposition’s despair turns into more timidity?
As the right stamps itself, central universities will see politicisation that destroyed state universities.
Delhi blast acquittals raise a question: When will politics go beyond my favourite innocent vs yours?
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.
The enhancement of state powers without control or transparency is not being done against our wishes
Budget is a sober response to fear and uncertainty. But will it help tackle gathering storm in global capitalism?
India celebrates both democracy and elections. But is the latter dominating the former today?
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.