The world according to Geetanjali Shree

I begin with a confession and an apology to the non-Hindi readers of Ret Samadhi by Geetanjali Shree, translated by Daisy Rockwell into English as Tomb of Sand. I have resisted reading the translated version, the winner of the International Booker Prize, because even though it must be very good, it may not replicate for … Read more

Hindus and Muslims must give up rigid positions on contested places of worship

Simt-e-Kashi se chala janib-e-Mathura baadal — starting from Kashi the cloud ahead towards Mathura — are the deeply devotional words with which an Urdu writer of the recent past, Mohsin Kakorvi, had begun his poetic eulogy for the Prophet Muhammad. Long before him, the uncrowned king of Urdu poetry for all times Asadullah Khan Ghalib … Read more

Amidst domestic churn, new Australian PM signals foreign policy continuity

As Anthony Albanese is sworn in as Australia’s 31st Prime Minister, he will be conscious of the deep electoral angst against traditional politics and a groundswell in support for a contemporary avatar of Australia’s own “Aam Aadmi” politics: The Teal independents, a motley group brought together primarily by the lack of mainstream urgency to act … Read more

Governments must understand that resources are held in trust. They’re not to be frittered away

A senior Rajasthan ruling party worker reacted to my asking about handling the unsustainable borrowing burden of their recent civil servant pension decision with, “that bill is only due in 25 years”. My follow-up question about the injustice of 60 per cent of the Rajasthan government’s budget going to 5 per cent of the state’s … Read more

What the two-front war in Ukraine means for the world

Is the war in Ukraine entering a new and, perhaps, even more dangerous phase? The answer to this question depends on seeing Ukraine as a two-front war. There is the battle being fought in Ukraine, where the country has admirably held back Russian power, and cut it to size. But it is still not clear … Read more

Is the BJP in UP really more representative of society than other parties? Not really

After the recent assembly elections, observers of the UP political scene have claimed that the winner, the BJP, had diversified its social basis to such an extent that it was now more representative of society than any other political party and that it could even appear as an embodiment of social engineering. Such conclusions need … Read more

Where WHO went wrong on India’s Covid death count

The controversy over the under-reporting of Covid deaths in India has spiralled. A World Health Organization report has projected, through mathematical modeling, that India had 4.7 million, or 47 lakh, excess Covid deaths in 2020-2021. Surprisingly, none of the authors seems to have engaged with the Registrar General of India (RGI) who is responsible for … Read more

Retail price of palm oil in India rose over 2.3 times

Between May 13, 2014 and May 13, 2022, the average “modal” (most-quoted) retail price of palm oil in India rose over 2.3 times, from Rs 68.5 to Rs 160 per kg. So did the consumer prices of packed sunflower (2.1 times; from Rs 90 to Rs 190.75/kg) and soyabean (2.2 times; from Rs 77 to … Read more

Faux populi: Public opinion cannot influence jurisprudence

On May 5, 2022, the current affairs site politico.com had a major scoop. It obtained the draft opinion of Justice Samuel Alito, apparently speaking for the majority of the judges of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) overruling Roe v Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood v Casey (1992). These two previously decided cases … Read more

Monetary policy alone won’t bring down inflation

After months of exhortation by the market and being criticized for falling behind the curve, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) last week raised both policy rates and cut back liquidity in a surprise inter-meeting decision. The forcefulness and urgency of the policy shift have been welcomed by analysts and the market alike and seen … Read more