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Thursday, February 25, 2021

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.

Big tech regulation can solve real problems, or only increase state control
Sat, Feb 20, 2021

Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes: A few years ago, India would not have thought this way because of its desire to court the United States. But the context has now changed. There is a genuine ideological push to Atmanirbhar Bharat.

A letter to the misunderstood men and women who are creating New India through Unity in Purity
Sat, Feb 06, 2021

P B Mehta writes: The overwhelming political power you have will not be seriously challenged in the near future, notwithstanding a few social movements.

The real darkness on horizon is the turn Indian democracy is taking
Sat, Jan 30, 2021

Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes: The scenes at the Red Fort may have been disturbing. But the real darkness on the horizon is not the protest, or the turn it might have taken. It is the turn Indian democracy is taking, almost as if it is on the road to perdition.

A new conversation takes place on the Constitution. Rumbling of tractors announces a new spectacle
Tue, Jan 26, 2021

Bhimrao: "I thought we would keep God and Identity out of the Constitution. Didn’t we, Jawahar? So what are we celebrating on Republic Day? Ethnic Majoritarianism and Authoritarianism?”

Supreme Court’s order putting on hold the farm bills is terrible constitutional precedent, bereft of judgment
Mon, Jan 18, 2021

Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes: The issues in the farm bills are complex. But no matter which side you are on, you should now worry about how the Supreme Court is interpreting its function. The court is, perhaps unintentionally but damagingly, seeking to break the momentum of a social movement.

US might recoil from Capitol siege. But its democracy will remain riven by internal conflicts
Fri, Jan 08, 2021

Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes: It is hard to shake off the feeling that liberal democracy in America will continue to come under more stress, riven by its own internal conflicts and confusion of values.

We need a new language to speak of the people, avoid the old impasse
Fri, Jan 01, 2021

PB Mehta writes: Outside of political contexts there is enough vitality, creativity and reciprocity, where the people are expressing themselves in all their concreteness, individuality and complexity, more than enough to sustain faith in the face of political disillusionment.

SC verdict exposes fallacy of using general category as reservation for upper castes
Sat, Dec 26, 2020

PB Mehta writes: What the Court is trying to do, in an interesting way, is to argue that for its purposes, the opposition between merit and reservation needs to be deconstructed — not because there is no such thing as merit (as defenders of reservation claim), or because there should not be reservation (as critics of reservation claim).

Our misshapen federalism is not about Centre vs states, but co-produced by political culture in both
Thu, Dec 10, 2020

It is true that the Centre disproportionately controls resources in India; but very few states have shown a zeal to increase their own financial headroom by utilising whatever powers they might have on taxation.

What makes A Promised Land by Barack Obama one of the best American presidential memoirs
Sun, Nov 29, 2020

Obama’s vivid, novelistic writing brings to life his fairytale political career from state legislator to America’s first Black president.

The government may ride out the farmers’ protests. But simmering discontent will remain
Sat, Nov 28, 2020

Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes: The sense that the farmers will be at the receiving end of these changes rather than shaping them propels the need for a show of strength. If they lose, they are marginalised forever.

Why Arun Shourie concludes that the ultimate preparation for death is simply love
Sat, Nov 21, 2020

The former Union minister and veteran journalist’s latest book, ‘Preparing for Death’, is both a contemplation of and an anthology on death

PB Mehta writes: SC was never perfect, but the signs are that it is slipping into judicial barbarism
Wed, Nov 18, 2020

This phenomenon is not just a matter of individual judges or individual cases. It is now a systematic phenomenon with deep institutional roots.

America is caught between an anaemic liberalism and a militant Republican Party
Sat, Nov 07, 2020

PB Mehta writes: The character of the Republican Party has changed deeply and profoundly. The House of Cards might have been a dystopian vision of a ruthless quest for power by individuals. But the current wave of public ruthlessness in American politics is of a different order.

In defence of liberty: It is time to stand up for individual freedoms, against all challengers
Sat, Oct 31, 2020

PB Mehta writes: Liberal states are right to take actions against the perpetrators of violence, and should worry about the atmosphere that nourishes a fear of freedom. But if they are doing it in the name of liberal principles, they will need to, as much as possible, adhere to those principles.

Opposition must think harder about political economy of protest to counter new political economy of reform
Fri, Oct 23, 2020

Despite economic headwinds, it has not been easy to use the economy as a point with which to attack the Modi government. It has still positioned itself as a breaker of the status quo.

Nobel to Gluck privileges a literature whose job is to resist redemption or enchantment
Sat, Oct 10, 2020

It is not to save us, but to expose the fact (as her best collections, Ararat, Meadowlands, and The Wild Iris, remind us) that we are entirely at the mercy of our own passions; even a God would give up ordering them.

PB Mehta writes: Delhi riots chargesheet invents conspiracy and enemy, as per script
Fri, Sep 25, 2020

Those who really incite roam free. But all of us who saw the Constitution as a site of hope are potential terrorists now.

PB Mehta writes: Betrayal of procedure in Parliament is not just about technicalities. Deference to process builds trust
Tue, Sep 22, 2020

If the events of the last few days are any guide, the Indian temple of democracy will continue to be ground into the dust

Whichever way the Sudarshan TV case turns out, dark days lie ahead
Sat, Sep 19, 2020

PB Mehta writes: The big lesson of the last two decades is that an over-reliance on legal instruments to solve fundamentally social and political problems often backfires. In the case of free speech, this is even more so.

India and China might not want war, but will not be able to will peace either
Sat, Sep 12, 2020

Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes: Chinese aggression is a problem for the world. India has announced it intends to break the shackles of the past.

We must ask tough questions about Facebook’s role. But problem of freedom, civility, censorship goes deeper
Sat, Sep 05, 2020

PB Mehta writes: Predictably, both the Congress and BJP are claiming to be victim of Facebook’s censorship policy. But the truth is this: Censorship, whether public or private, will always invite charges of partisanship.

PB Mehta writes: The greatest allure of vishwas is that you maintain it by simply believing
Wed, Aug 26, 2020

Politics of belief is different from one based on fact and interest. It has an underlying cultural nihilism

In post-mortem of secularism, we are hand wringing over religion, missing the real crisis
Tue, Aug 11, 2020

PB Mehta writes: To take religion seriously is to preserve the conditions of religious freedom for all, letting each person discover the law of their own Being. I tremble at the thought of a politicised public sphere taking religion seriously.

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.