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.
The charge against Chief Justice Dipak Misra is serious. But do we have justiciable evidence?
Let’s reclaim a realism about nature and self that our frenzied pursuit of enmities and ends is obscuring.
Reading philosophy, history and violence in 2017
Verdict is a reminder that state incapacity may be a bigger issue than active political malfeasance
If democracy is more secure with an effective opposition, BJP victory sends sobering signals
PM’s Gujarat campaign shows the politics of hope has been replaced entirely by the politics of fear
Events of December 6, 1992 assaulted both secularism and Hinduism. Consequences are still to play out fully
It is its treatment of Ahmadis. It needs to overcome that anxiety to liberate itself on several fronts
Fragility of community identities spawns politics of intolerance. No one stands up for freedom
Kunwar Narain’s passing is also the loss of a whole literary world. He was of a generation of Hindi writers that confidently understood that in genuine culture and thinking there cannot be any boundaries.
The judiciary has created a crisis of institutional credibility for itself
Demonetisation was part of a political imagination that is closer to a technocratic authoritarianism.
How the Chinese Communist Party has buried the revolutionary spirit of 1917
In the shadow of the modern myth of non-violence lies an ancient and ruthless tradition
The bank recapitalisation scheme reflects government’s failure to transform state-capital relations
An authoritarian, assertive China is a challenge for India. But it is premature to conclude that US will be its saviour
Their demand for minority status is also a move to construct identities more constricted and rigid
When borders become moral rights and the accident of citizenship eats into claims of humanity
That’s what the government’s policy towards the Rohingya boils down to — imprudent, myopic, untenable
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.
Ruskin Bond in his new book "Till the Clouds Roll by, Beginning Again" captures Bond's growing up years where he is seen dealing with the loss of his father, reacquainting himself with his mother who now has a new husband and discovering his love for books.