Violence Between the Left and the Right in Kerala Unabated Despite Secret Parleys

ON THE MORNING of 30 July 2016, within two months of him taking over as chief minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, accompanied by leaders Kodiyeri Balakrishnan and V Sivankutty, broke protocol and drove down to Mascot Hotel, a heritage building that once housed British officers during the First World War. There was no pilot jeep and no … Continue reading Violence Between the Left and the Right in Kerala Unabated Despite Secret Parleys

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Manuscripts That Survived Al-Qaeda Reveal the Medieval Glory of Timbuktu

ONE OF THE ‘Timbuktu Manuscripts’ on display at Ajanta Hall, National Museum, is an 18th-century volume on sexology which promises to be an elaborate treatise on physical intimacy between man and woman, perhaps an African Kamasutra. The statement beneath announces that its author Ghidado bin Ahmad discusses in these pages ‘life and relationship between men and women … Continue reading Manuscripts That Survived Al-Qaeda Reveal the Medieval Glory of Timbuktu

Kannur: Inside India’s Bloodiest Revenge Politics (Penguin Viking)

A sleepy coastal district in the scenic south Indian state of Kerala, Kannur has metamorphosed into a hotbed of political violence in the past few decades. Even as India heaves into the age of technology and economic growth, the town has been making it to the national news for brutal murders with sickening regularity. What … Continue reading Kannur: Inside India’s Bloodiest Revenge Politics (Penguin Viking)

Assertions of Religious Identity Versus Sectarian Politics in Aligarh Muslim University

IN THE SCORCHING afternoon of May 7th, speakers at what students of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) now call the ‘protest site’ close to Baab-e-Syed, the imposing gateway to its 450-acre campus, hold a crowd rapt with couplets, snappy one-liners and fiery protest speeches. The punishing sun does nothing to deter the eloquence and humour of … Continue reading Assertions of Religious Identity Versus Sectarian Politics in Aligarh Muslim University

A Report From the 22nd Party Congress of CPM

SPEAKING TO DELEGATES in Hyderabad on the fourth day of the six-day 22nd Party Congress of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), its triennial summit, General Secretary Sitaram Yechury poked fun at what he called the ‘bourgeois media’ for their distorted portrayal of communists. He specifically named the Malayala Manorama, a Kerala daily, for carrying allegedly … Continue reading A Report From the 22nd Party Congress of CPM

Can the Indian Left Reinvent Itself?

Outside AKG Bhavan, the CPM’s headquarters in Delhi’s Gole Market area, barricades are in place with armed policemen on duty. India’s biggest Communist party in mainstream politics has been at the receiving end of violent protests in the past few years by rival political parties, especially Hindu nationalists, some of whom had barged in, fulminated … Continue reading Can the Indian Left Reinvent Itself?

A Lit Fest on Palace Grounds Gives Thiruvananthapuram a New Cultural Elan

OVER THE PAST many decades, Thiruvananthapuram has earned a name for playing the perfect host to film festivals that invariably attract crowds from across the state, from as far as Kerala’s northernmost district, and even from metros across the world. South Korean filmmaker Kim Ki-duk is a household name in this part of the country. … Continue reading A Lit Fest on Palace Grounds Gives Thiruvananthapuram a New Cultural Elan

How Modi Tapped the Wrath of ‘Lower’ OBCs for Political Mileage

INSIDE UTTAR PRADESH’S Jaunpur town, not far from its landmark 16th century Shahi Bridge on the river Gomti, RK Maurya runs a teashop that sells hot samosas and excessively sweetened tea. He does brisk business, assisted by two young adults, and saves enough money to send his son to an English-medium school with the hope that the … Continue reading How Modi Tapped the Wrath of ‘Lower’ OBCs for Political Mileage

The Cult and Crime of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Insaan

ON MAY 30TH, 2002, Ramchandra Chhatrapati published an article in his Sirsa-based Hindi daily Poora Sach, a front-page story headlined ‘Dharm ke naam par kiye jaa rahe hain saadhviyon ke jeevan barbaad’ (In the name of religion, the lives of women ascetics are being ruined). It was an exposé on the rape of two female members … Continue reading The Cult and Crime of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Insaan