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.
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.
With the end of the Mughal Empire and the rise of British power, the 19th century Muslim intellectual had to reimagine his politics.
IIT Madras episode shows up an academic leadership that signed the government’s dotted line.
KCS was the kind of bureaucrat, scholar who is indispensable to modern India’s foundations.
It is hard to take his measure. All the contradictions of India play out in his persona.
The professions that defined middle class aspiration are now sites of a deepening discontent.
Judiciary or the executive — that’s the key question. Perhaps the NJAC’s compositon, rules need tweaking.
Reactions to Salman Khan’s conviction reveal an elite that would literally bulldoze everything in its path.
Modi government is caught in traps, some structural, some of its own making.
A survey of our attitude to violence, and the far-reaching changes in the way in which its legitimacy is understood.
CPM must overcome defeatism, refresh itself to dominate debate.
Facing up to him means confronting questions of our own complicity and guilt.
Even those who rush to indict terrorism at every turn seem to treat this incident with nonchalant indifference.
Cleverly, ruthlessly, Lee Kuan Yew ensured Singapore punched above its weight.
SC judgment points to new social justice frameworks struggling to take shape.
NDA’s casual amendments do not address core issue of consent in land acquisition.
With the budget, BJP-PDP alliance, Modi may be charting a new course.
How Nitish, Rahul and Modi have overplayed their hand
The universe of ideas that once formed JNU is laid out in this new history.