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.
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.
Now in power in states like J&K and Assam, the BJP will be on test for its nation-building capacity
Our punitive impulses are an expression of deep institutional failure.
The lesson should not be to exult in a moral high ground, but to realise that the party is still tottering.
India comes across as trying to compete with China by being China. It’s not a winning strategy.
A new alignment of incentives and unrest is emerging . It could make reservations an important political axis
The role of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Army in the mainstream national movement and how their moral compass was rooted in non-violence.
On IPL, to accuse the court of a politics of distraction is to miss the point.
Angry populism against corrupt elites could grow. But in India, reaction will be muted.
Fundamental military alignments with US, taking place without open debate, may foreclose India’s options.
If this bill with far-reaching implications for rights, accountability and the powers of the state is a money bill, then practically any legislation can be converted into a money bill.
It was undergirded by a set of meta-assumptions, all of which are now being contested.
Budget confuses government’s rabid rightwing supporters more than it annoys its opponents.
Rather than being threatened by currents of world history, India can take any current of thought and make it its own, but in a way that exudes that ineffable sense of being shaped by India.
Nothing that JNU students did poses nearly as much of a threat to India as government's subversion of freedom
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.