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: 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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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
We had always assumed that politics is deeply decentralised in India: Caste, community, language, and region, provide natural breaks on any national agendas. These are still important. But they no longer provide the deep social bulwarks against the consolidation of national agendas. So violence can acquire a different logic.
It is apocalyptic in a triple sense. At the level of discourse, the normalisation of the phrase “tukde tukde gang” abetted by the home minister, with the help of a pliant media, laid the background conditions for this kind of violence.
In 2019, it was not just people versus government, but one definition of people jostling against another.
On the brink of the 70th year of the Republic, a reaffirmation of the radical message of the Constitution
Violence will not help any cause. But when the state discriminates and calls it justice, when it stokes fear and calls it citizenship, and when it exercises control and calls its freedom, when it confuses prejudice with policy, it sets the seeds for disorder.
The political challenge is to make sure that one party’s diabolical version of what is reasonable is not mistaken to be common sense. It will require using the BJP’s tactics.
A stunning catalogue of the ways in which merit takes on the form of an inheritance.
The real problem is not the absence of big bang reform. It is the misdiagnosis over what our priorities should be and where scarce governance resources need to be deployed.
The database is a reminder that the big contentious debates of Indian spiritual, political, economic and social life are not often accurately reflected in the big, and conventional figures we all study or distilled in books. They surface as powerful undercurrents in a variety of genres and forms.
Is it just possible that instead of a triumphal monument to Ram’s political glory — for this is all that the temple will be under present circumstances — can we build something genuinely congruent with Ram’s greatness?
Don’t convert India’s global weakness into an ideological virtue. The truth is that India’s domestic agenda of reform will, in most respects, need to be the same, RCEP or no RCEP
On the Indian economy, no one knows what to believe. This makes the uncertainty of our moment more endemic.
All the shows which have returned to the small screen during lockdown