Culture

Culture

Issue Articles

The Cultural Unity of the Deccan Plateau, 1347–1687

Between the 14th and 17th centuries, the states of the Deccan drew on the same resources to base their authority -- the memory of the prestigious Chalukyas maharajas of Kalyana, and the prestige associated with Persian language and culture.

The Life and Art of M.S. Subbulakshmi

A new biography gives us a sense of the many personalities that made up “MS”, the extraordinary exponent of Carnatic music, during her life-journey.

For A Bahujan Economics

A Personal Statement
Bahujan students face hostility in universities but they cannot give up. They must fight to assert their identity, reject being called “non-meritorious” and master their subjects. One scholar recounts her struggle and demands a more compassionate Economics.

Ruptured Reality

Fact-checks and counter-checks in the truth trade
In the Indian mediascape, every mechanism through which fact is sifted from falsehood has become questionable. If news organisations do not have an ethical commitment towards factual reporting, fact-checking risks turning into mere performance.

A Sense of a Community

A Journey of Shared Mourning during Moharram
'The shared expression among women majlis during Moharram of an iconic grief that is both personal and communal seems to create a community of women who mourn, who share a sense of the lives of women in the past, and of their lives now.’

The Power and Contexts of Cartooning

There is a centuries-long tradition in France of poking fun at the state and even the Catholic Church, but it is one thing to critique the rich and the powerful and another to satirise marginal immigrant communities.

John le Carrè (1931-2020) Who Came In from the Cold

A tribute to the British literary giant of the second half of the 20th century, John Le Carrè, who died earlier this week, with a focus on his most memorable character, the tormented spymaster, George Smiley.

In the Name of the Nation

Nietzsche’s Abyss Staring Back?
Sanjib Baruah's new book is 'a prescient ledger' of what Northeast India has become and at the same time 'a cautionary tale' of where muscular policy may take us in the rest of India.

A Prehistory of Religious Modernity

A comparative study of the Brahmo Samaj and the Swaminarayanis, two sects seen as polar opposites, raises questions on both the superiority of the Hindu reform project during the colonial period and on claims that traditionalist faiths are intolerant.

Desi or Not?

Kamala Harris, Race, and the Indian Diaspora
The Indian-American community’s mixed feelings about Kamala Harris’ candidacy for US vice president spotlight its problem of racism and social conservatism.

A Novel Virus, A New Racial Slur

In the wake of Covid-19, racial discrimination towards people from the North East has acquired a new edge. The lack of cultural understanding in mainland Indian communities has always manifested itself in slurs and attacks that have increased and not reduced.

A Black Spring

Deepening racial inequality in the US is the fundamental reason for the recent widespread protests. African American economic progress has been worse than that of Dalits in India. Any optimism about the outcome has to confront these features of US society.

Margins and Marginality

The Pathalgadi Movement and Jharkhand Elections 2019
The Pathalgadi movement of Jharkhand drew on Munda traditions to fashion the 2019 electoral defeat of the incumbent party. A unique interplay of an assertion of constitutional rights, local sovereignty and social practices made this a special moment.

Counts and Consequences

Citizenship and Language Identity
Language diversity has always been a given for Indians. The Constitution endorses this diversity as ‘a noble intention’. But as in 2011, the 2021 Census too may see hundreds of languages removed from official records in the service of Hindi-Hindu nationalism.

Naming and Belonging

A Personal History of a North Indian Muslim Clan
Did my Shamsi clan “come” or “convert”? What qana’at made my family remain in India after Partition? Our lives are a confection of history and happenstance. As belonging is questioned and citizenship interrogated, perhaps these personal histories will suffice.

The Revolt of the Upper Castes

The surge of Hindu nationalism in India can be seen as a revolt of the upper castes against the egalitarian demands of democracy. The Hindutva project is a lifeboat for the upper castes in so far as it promises to restore the Brahminical social order.

Desacralising the City of Gods

The Politics of History in Banaras
A personal history of Banaras, the city of many cultures.

Celebrating the Precious Mettle of Ishvarchandra Vidyasagar

During the bicentennial year of the birth of Vidyasagar, what does it mean to celebrate the man and honour his legacy?

Transformative Power of Cricket in India:

Its Potential and its Limits
The first All-India cricket team to tour England opened a small window for the game to be a site for social justice. But a century later that promise in a cricket-mad country remains unfulfilled. A review article around Prashant Kidambi's "Cricket Country".

Skilling the Last First

"Our skill ecosystem has to be flexible and inclusive as this can be crucial to overturn the social constructions of worth in a society that is ridden with inequalities."

Tamil Rationalism and Hindu Temples

The Tamils' Self-Respect Movement of Malaysia that successfully preached rationalism and at the same time fought for temple entry for Dalits is a historical example of how contesting beliefs can peacefully co-exist, offering a valuable lesson for India today.

The Story of My English

Can an autobiographically-inclined social history reveal the role of English in shaping caste privilege, regulating class mobility and enabling individual agency? This essay risks an answer.

An Essay for Our Times

Diversity & nationalism are complementary and not antagonistic to each other. The Constitution is built around the principle that Indians can love their country without surrendering any other equally legitimate identity. Ideas to think about on 15 August.
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