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Saturday, August 08, 2020

Pratap Bhanu Mehta

Pratap Bhanu Mehta is Contributing Editor at the Indian Express. He has been vice-chancellor of Ashoka University and 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.

PB Mehta writes: Ayodhya’s Ram temple is first real colonisation of Hinduism by political power
Wed, Aug 05, 2020

They will say Ram is a national symbol, a symbol of Hindu pride. But did Ram consent to being converted to something as banal and nasty as the symbol of an ethnic nationalism? Ayodhya's Ram temple is a monument to exclusion, a brute majoritarianism subordinating others.

Text of education policy artfully navigates several thickets. Fears about document come from context
Sat, Aug 01, 2020

This government’s record on regulation is not inspiring. So the critical question will, less, be: Does one agree with the document?

PB Mehta writes: Padmanabhaswamy case turns on specific facts, but there are wider political ramifications
Tue, Jul 21, 2020

It is actually the state, whom the temple rescue brigade reviles, that created a national Hindu legal identity, and perhaps unwittingly abetted Hindutva in its political form.

Loneliness of Varavara Rao, Anand Teltumbde, Sudha Bharadwaj tells a disquieting tale about state and us
Sat, Jul 18, 2020

PB Mehta writes: Teltumbde was insightful in thinking that once you had been labelled Left in India, it was easy to secure a diminution in your legal and cultural standing. Even the Courts will turn off their thinking cap. It is in this that the genuine intellectual enterprise is a lonely one, whose disastrous political consequences Teltumbde is facing.

Thoki Raj: Creating order by trampling on law is one of the elements of Adityanath’s ideological success
Sat, Jul 11, 2020

Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes: Unleashing strong arm tactics by state stands in for creating law and order. No one wants police reform.

How did India manage to lose its neighbourhood? Answers lie at home
Fri, Jun 26, 2020

P B Mehta writes: Don’t count on the fact that the world will support an Indian escalation beyond a point. The efforts of the international community, in the final analysis, will be to try and throw cold water on the conflict; no one has a serious stake in the fate of the terrain India and China are disputing.

PB Mehta writes: India is heading into uncharted waters with no leadership at the helm, just the simulacra of one
Tue, Jun 16, 2020

The prime minister evokes a deep adulation in his supporters. But it should be clear by now that whatever that adulation is, it is not on account of his leadership. His leadership has been totally missing. Covid to China, economy to society, there’s a politics of illusion and evasive silence

An American Tragedy: In days, the narrative has shifted from police brutality to fear of violence
Tue, Jun 02, 2020

The explosion of protest, violence, rioting, curfews and brutal police crackdowns in the wake of George Floyd’s suffocation by police in Minneapolis is another chapter in the long history of a democracy whose self-image often cloaks its more sordid realities.

Trains on their mind: Death of a mother at a railway station, a conversation in Heaven
Fri, May 29, 2020

PB Mehta writes: Mohandas Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Hansa Mehta, Rabindranath Tagore, Bhim Rao Ambedkar, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Sri Aurobindo, Sarojini Naidu, Jayaprakash Narayan, Deendayal Upadhyaya are milling around. Narada shows up to needle them.

Covid lockdown is seen as a cover for Jammu and Kashmir
Sat, May 16, 2020

It is also imprisoned in intellectual, political, constitutional, strategic and moral lockdowns.

Ordinances by states to change labour laws are a travesty
Tue, May 12, 2020

Indian labour laws had the unique distinction of representing the state’s war on both capital and labour.

We need to question our addiction to cultural and political economy of alcohol
Thu, May 07, 2020

PB Mehta writes: There is very little worry about the forms of dependence on alcohol that, in crucial moments, take away our ability to exercise or recognise consent, exercise good choice or act like an agent. The liberal case for encouraging moderation is actually stronger than the conservative case.

Loss of great artiste helps in understanding the loss any death represents
Fri, May 01, 2020

But what is the loss we mourn, especially in the case of a brilliant genius like Irrfan, who attained the pinnacle of what art could achieve? He leaves a void in this world. In part, the sense of loss that accompanies every artiste is the sense of their irreplaceability.

The mirror crack’d from side to side
Sun, Apr 26, 2020

In the incandescent conclusion to her Tudor trilogy, The Mirror and The Light, Hilary Mantel charts the peak and fall of Thomas Cromwell and the struggle of man against the opacity of others

Both US and China face internal credibility crisis. It could work to detriment of international system
Sat, Apr 25, 2020

The challenges of dealing with the pandemic or existing interdependencies may yet impose a degree of sobriety on both superpowers. But the demands on internal legitimation are increasingly pointing in a direction where both countries will not find it easy to dial back from ratcheting up tensions, in ways that might make delicate diplomacy more difficult.

Beyond solidarity: The migrant labour and the unemployed will be demanding their rights, not our mercy
Sat, Apr 18, 2020

Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes: There is something deeply morally odd in using the language of compassion in relation to the state. What we need from the state is not compassion, it is a minimum sense of justice.

A lockdown requires a command, an opening will require confidence
Thu, Apr 09, 2020

Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes: It is the quality of governance that will mediate the path to opening up, not just the economics versus life debate. The government will have to inspire total confidence in the robustness of the information it is putting out, whether on testing or supplies.

Lockdown announcement has not been matched by national strategy — on containing fallout for poor
Sat, Mar 28, 2020

PB Mehta writes: India has never understood that health expenditure is not expenditure; it is investment. The success of the lockdown strategy is premised on an unprecedentedly vigorous building up of health infrastructure to fight the pandemic.

The Gogoi betrayal: Judges will not empower you, they are diminished men
Fri, Mar 20, 2020

Justice Gogoi’s actions are not simply a case of one bad apple. His actions will now cast doubt on the Court as a whole; every judgment will now be attributed to political motives.

Pandemic and politics: Coronavirus crisis calls for solidarity but it also begets deeper conflicts
Wed, Mar 18, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has confronted us with the contingency of so much of what we take for granted. It refocuses us on fighting something very elemental, in ways that will require a new politics. But two aspects of politics as usual continue.

Anti-CAA protests gave us poetry to resist, but hard plumbing of alternative politics yet to be worked out
Tue, Mar 10, 2020

Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes: There are reasons why the foisting of the communal narrative around the anti-CAA protests has gained the upper hand. Communal propaganda now so seamlessly works within democratic institutions, mass media and social media. It has become so second nature and ubiquitous...

Montek Singh Ahluwalia’s memoir of the reform years presents a complicated picture
Sun, Apr 26, 2020

It is too easy to dismiss reformers like Montek as elitist. They may make errors of judgment, but they often had more faith in Indians than many of those who yelped loudly in the name of the poor.

The Delhi darkness: Our rulers want an India that thrives on cruelty, fear, division, violence
Sat, Feb 29, 2020

India is descending into a night of dread and despair. The ongoing riots in Delhi are not a tactical aberration, some absent-minded lapse of attention. They have been in the making for a while, and represent the future that our ruling classes have imagined for us.

Contest in US and elsewhere is between democracy and capitalism, and where the balance should lie
Tue, Feb 18, 2020

In some ways, a potential contest between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump will turn out to be a more interesting contest because it is the one contest that makes these stakes totally clear.

Budget 2020 reads like a five-year plan with lots of targets but no road map
Mon, Feb 03, 2020

The things that it will take to fix the economy cannot be done in the Budget. The Budget can be criticised for its lack of boldness. But in a way, that is the most honest thing about it. It is an admission of defeat

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