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.
A starting point could be the doing away of the myth that modernity alone will deal with caste
Is assimilating the other as xenophobic as excluding him? Tabish Khair explores the link between xenophobia and capitalism in this new book.
One can only meditate on the deep truth of his letter, its yearning for a space beyond power and rancour
Can elements of a secular morality be enforced in ways that don’t reinforce a sense of state arbitrariness?
We need to engage with Abhinavagupta to find a language in which to articulate our experience.
It cannot happen where language is corroded, resentment is paramount. In 2016, let’s reset ourselves.
From a history of Rome to a monograph on Ashoka and a masterful biography of Edmund Burke, the stand-out books of the year examined the intersection of morality and politics.
We seem happy to hollow out the public sector where we shouldn’t and regulate the private in harmful ways.
Political, economic and institutional dysfunction threatens to cloud India’s prospects
The first volume of Niall Ferguson’s biography of Henry Kissinger would have served its subject better if he had submitted him to a Kissingerian analysis.
Constitutional settlements require a measure of statesmanship and generosity missing in Nepal today.
True patriotism requires you to be able to say that I am ashamed of my country in certain respects.
It is to keep the European project alive — and to find a political solution to the quagmire in West Asia.
Bihar has been transformed from the graveyard of revolutions to a source of new hope.
The Congress is as afraid of coming clean as the BJP is quick to exploit ambiguities on the issue.
The judiciary came to the conclusion that the NJAC, as currently constituted, would be a threat to judicial independence. It is hard to disagree.
Shiv Sena’s real threat is this: It can shift markers of language and public norms.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership has implications for India’s integration with the world economy.
Mohammad Akhlaq’s death is a tragedy. It exemplified the depths of the barbarity that lurks behind the veneer of our civilisation.
Nepal’s constitution inaugurates the new, but it protects too much of the old.
The book is full of incidental insights across a range of subjects: the Hindi public sphere, the economics of publishing, labour relations within the press, new art forms.
Meat bans violate fundamental liberties, erode state’s secular character, harm the cause of vegetarianism.
Use of ‘development’ as a catch-all represents a shrinking of the imagination.
Santhara judgment is court’s bid to colonise ways in which death can be interpreted and life given meaning.
An Independence Day Speech is not a Report Card on Government; it is as, the Prime Minister put it, “a dawn of new dreams, and new resolve.” Nevertheless even dreams and resolve need to be credible.
Instead of matching idea with idea, leadership with leadership, political adversaries match sin for sin.
All indications are, India is fated to deal with another missing prime minister.
Aftermath of his hanging puts at risk presumptive legitimacy of institutions that mediate social division.
There is mutual accusation. And no hope of cleansing the system.
The rot in higher education set in long ago. Its politics transcends particular governments.
Modi must heed the warning signs of his government’s diminishing credibility.
A chilling account of how they ganged up to take democracy away from India.
We now have a crackdown we don’t see. It’s less ominous, but equally insidious.
A government is always one scandal away from losing political control. Narendra Modi should speak up.
AAP’s diminishing credibility undermines its promise to transform. BJP’s premature panic casts a shadow
Governments don’t sing about covert operations. Our strategic communication needs a lot more maturity.