How WhatsApp Is Changing Indian Politics

JENCY JACOB, MANAGING EDITOR, BOOM FACTCHECK, RECALLS THE DAY Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman sharply attacked the opposition in the Lok Sabha for calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi a “chor” (thief) over the Rafale fighter aircraft deal. Jacob and his colleagues at their fact-checking firm joked that a “clipped video” of Sitharaman would soon go … Continue reading How WhatsApp Is Changing Indian Politics

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Navjot Singh Sidhu: The Performer Unmasked

IT MAY NOT BE inappropriate to say that Navjot Singh Sidhu has a face behind the mask that he constantly tries to hide. Great comedians have talked about this professional dilemma. So have clowns and slapstick performers known for their frenetic pace. Sidhu perhaps fits into the last category, a sort of a Punjabi Jim … Continue reading Navjot Singh Sidhu: The Performer Unmasked

India’s Institutions Are Crumbling Due to Excessive Political and Corporate Meddling

INSTITUTIONS OR THOSE at the helm of prestigious government agencies going rogue has time and again put the Narendra Modi Government in a bad spot. A number of judges of the Supreme Court of India rising in revolt against the Chief Justice and hogging news headlines was an unprecedented event in the history of Indian … Continue reading India’s Institutions Are Crumbling Due to Excessive Political and Corporate Meddling

Atal Bihari Vajpayee (1924-2018): The Beloved

On a deserted street outside Ahdoos Hotel in curfew-bound Srinagar on that distant afternoon of August 2016 from where I was heading towards Press Enclave, an elderly gentleman in a skullcap approached me, almost blocking my way, and began to talk animatedly in Hindi and English. He didn’t introduce himself, but I didn’t panic because … Continue reading Atal Bihari Vajpayee (1924-2018): The Beloved

Kerala’s Popular Culture Has Abetted Misogyny in Life and Politics

WHAT IS IT ABOUT the Malayali male that attracts equal parts respect and scorn? Normally, expectations from Kerala, a state that enjoys high social indicators, some of which are on par with Nordic countries, are that it is a fairer and far more egalitarian society compared with the rest of India. The sex ratio, the … Continue reading Kerala’s Popular Culture Has Abetted Misogyny in Life and Politics

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

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

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 Impact of the Supreme Court’s Triple Talaq Verdict on Indian Politics and Muslim Society

In the afternoon of August 23rd, Shayara Bano, 36, is back at her father’s quarters in Remount Training School & Depot, a defence training centre in Hempur Daya, Uttarakhand, resting after an overnight trip from Delhi. Within a few days she will resume travelling daily to Moradabad’s Teerthanker Mahaveer University, almost two hours one-way by … Continue reading The Impact of the Supreme Court’s Triple Talaq Verdict on Indian Politics and Muslim Society