Misplaced Contemporary Past:

A week ago, ahead of her book launch, the Internet arm of TV channel NDTV published an excerpt from “Indian Cultures As Heritage: Contemporary Pasts” by eminent historian Romila Thapar. In the excerpt, she eloquently articulates about the pressures that have arisen due to political parties claiming to be unhappy with the content being taught in school and college textbooks. This, according to her, paves the way to seek revisions and rewriting of textbooks. Political intrusion, needless to say, must be unanimously condemned, irrespective of our individual and political affiliations. Hence, the aim of this post has been to draw Ms. Thapar’s attention to certain points she makes which deserve to be contested.
In the excerpt, she claims that educational institutions are often used by administrators as stepping stones in order to realise personal ambitions, which results in the credibility of an institution taking a backseat. This is certainly true and one must appreciate her fine eye for o…

Statue of Vandalism

The Internet on Tuesday erupted in shock as a statue of Russian communist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin was razed by a group of suspected BJP workers in Belonia, Tripura amidst chants of "Bharat Mata Ki Jai". The demolition comes days after the BJP-led alliance managed to wrest control of the state, which experienced communist rule for the past 25 years.

In such a climate, a reaction is often influenced by the ideological and political strand that one subscribes by. The reactions that flooded the Internet soon after the video went viral ranged from shock, misplaced anger to even celebration. The demolition did evoke strong reactions from both sides as the detractors commented that vandalism should not be encouraged and the demolition of a statue by a democratically elected government shows its contempt for erasing history. The supporters, meanwhile, cheered as the razing of the statue which they termed as the symbolic end of a rule characterised by oppression, intimidation a…

Book Review: The Friendless God

Book: The Friendless God
Author: S. Anuradha
Publishers: Moonlight Publications
Pages: 350

There is little doubt that India is a country of myriad facets, where the ancient co-exists with the modern. "The Friendless God" is S. Anuradha's debut novel. The Singapore based journalist specialises  in equities.
Set against the backdrop of the turbulent demolition of the Babri Masjid and the Ram Janmabhoomi in 1992 for the larger premise, the novel interestingly follows the parallel yet overlapping journeys of an atheist single mother Vaidehi, who is also a struggling Carnatic music exponent and her son Kodanda, who tries to befriend Rama, meets with resistance from his mother Vaidehi. In addition, the book follows the life of an orphan Raman, for whom Rama is a tool to scale ahead in life. It is within this framework that "The Friendless God" traces the lives of the three characters and their equations with the scion of Ikshvaku: Rama.

"The Friendless God&quo…

Wink of an Eye

The first Internet sensation of 2018 is here: Priya Prakash Varrier. Until last weekend, nobody knew the 18 year old actor from Kerala. In the run up to Valentine's Day on Wednesdsy, promoters of the Malayalam movie "Oru Adaar Love" uploaded a 3:16 minute video of the song "Manikya Malaraya Poovi" on YouTube. In the trailer, we can see Priya Varrier winking at her co-star which instantly catapulted her to what many believe she is the "national Valentine". 
The clip features the song "Manikya Malaraya Poovi", with an ensemble cast playing uniformed school kids falling in love in seemingly soft-lit slow motion. Priya Varrier, in a bit that lasts for just 30 seconds, locks gazes with a boy, raises her eyebrows and even winks at him, thus flooring him and seemingly the country as well.
On Wednesday evening, popular Hindi channel Aaj Tak fell prey to a parody tweet and aired a full debate around it. The tweet, issued by a parody and satire handl…

Jignesh Mevani and "that Mic"

On Thursday, newly elected member Jignesh Mevani from Vadgam in Gujarat opted out of an impromptu reaction on the sidelines of a public meeting in Chennai. The reason? Mevani spotted a Republic TV mic among other microphones on the table. This led to Jignesh Mevani demanding that the Republic TV mic be removed before he addressed the media. Interestingly, the interaction at first glance appeared as a press conference but as clarified by N. Jayaraman on The Wire, that the interaction was after an event, where he was invited by a study circle.

The incident led to a boycott of Chennai's media which walked off after saying that a politician cannot dictate terms to the media. The boycott raised an important question about who has or does not have access to a media outfit and under what c
ircumstances. The refusal to engage with a Republic TV led to a stormy debate among journalists. Rationally speaking, both sides of the debate have a valid argument and a decision can be arrived at ba…

Citizen Goswami

Amidst the fireworks which were burnt during the Deepavali week, the nation received a bombshell. The editor-in-chief of Times Now and ET Now Arnab Goswami announced his decision of quitting the Times Group to start his own venture. The bombshell in the literal sense led to shock across newsrooms even as Twitter and social media went into a tizzy trying to speculate the reasons for quitting and wondering what next for the fiery anchor. For some, the exit from Times Now also spelled relief since he is seen as the key anchor responsible for oversimplification of TV debates. The nation wondered whether if Arnab’s blazing guns will silent and whether if there will be no more noise at 9 pm. It was as if viewers had been orphaned at a crucial moment and we were left to fend for ourselves to find alternative sources of entertainment to keep ourselves entertained at 9 pm.
There is little doubt about the severe credibility crisis that most journalists in India face today. Most journalists ar…

Karva Chauth: Regression vs Choice

It is finally that time of the year when social media goes into a tizzy as women often accuse each other of being shrill ‘feminists’ or declare themselves as slaves to patriarchy. Today is Karva Chauth, a festival where married women observe a fast for a day to pray for the long life of their husbands. While routine one day fasts must not create so much of a problem, it is rare for anyone to come across chatter on social media and websites which seek to promote ‘independent’ opinions on how Karva Chauth is ‘patriarchal and repressive’.

Observing the fast or not, must remain an individual choice. The relationship she shares with her husband will dictate her choice to abide by tradition or break free from it. With much chatter being generated online on the patriarchal and repressive aspect of the festival, it does not take much time to realise the anguish that some women go through for choosing to observe the fast. We are subjected to discourses on free speech, independent choices and …