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‘Dear Mr. Gandhi’

Letters from a Mailbag in History

Issue Articles

Producing the Migrant Myth

Ecology, migration, and politics in Assam
Assam's development discourse is embedded in wilful ignorance of history, ecology, and migration patterns. This ignorance feeds narratives of land-hungry migrants usurping land and seeking to make the Assamese a minority in the state.

Counter-Stories: Some Lessons for English Language Pedagogy

"The peak of language capacities is not in simply effective usage, but rather in giving language to that which is hitherto unsaid." An experiment in Bihar responds to the aspiration for English through 'counter-stories' that challenge mainstream narratives.

India’s Princes, the Ingenious Rebels against the Crown

India’s maharajahs during colonial rule were much more than the stereotypes we have of profligate spenders and incompetent rulers. They were complicated personalities who could subtly resist imperial pressures and at times supported the nationalist cause.

How Netflix Affects What We Watch and Who We Are

"Algorithm recommendations help us find exactly what we like in an incomprehensible number of options. The question is: who decides what the labels are, what gets put into these boxes and, therefore, what we end up watching, listening to and reading?"

How Should We Remember the Violence and Suffering of Partition?

"What does it mean then to remember the ‘horror’ of partition at a time when identities are so polarised. Do we remember only what was done to us, leaving out all that we did to others and to our own?"

The Banality of India's Islamophobia

Islamophobia in India erases Muslims even as it hyper-visiblises them: disempowering them and diminishing their worth. Ironically, even secular-minded people diminish its seriousness by asking Muslims to ignore the hate campaigns and focus on 'real issues'.

Casting Race in Another Light

Colonialism, Orientalism & Wilkerson’s Caste
Arguing that race in America is actually caste, Isabel Wilkerson seeks to startle the readers who may have become numbed by debates on race. But by overplaying what is not much more than a clever analogy, she might actually be weakening her argument.

Marigolds and Domestic Abuse

My journey from an Indian wedding to the courts
Challenging India's legal system that privileges the father for custody of a child was a painful process. However, much was gained. My case was a legal first in India for women.

'Will Come if it is in Our Podu'

Importance of cultural safety for Adivasis in Covid-19 care
Why do health workers often take the punitive route to obtain compliance from marginalised communities? How can we build cultural sensitivity into our public health practice? A story of the Solega group of Adivasis and how they related to Covid care.

The Making of India’s Linguistic Landscape

India's linguistic landscape is much too vast and diverse to neatly contain within one clean narrative. Various forces — not just linguistic — have shaped individual languages, leading up to the modern forms we use today.

India's Linguistic Diversity

How the Census obscures It
The Indian census' classificatory practices obscures the full extent of language diversity in the country. Including what the census calls "mother tongues" presents a fuller picture.

Is it a Case of 'Meat-versus-Planet'? Lessons for the Global South

Claims that the livestock sector is a high emitter of greenhouse gases have led to calls for moving towards plant-based diets. These prescriptions rest on flawed assumptions; they also ignore the nutritional needs of the working poor in the Global South.

The Intrinsic Limits of Hindutva as an Ideology of the Indian State

The BJP has built an electoral juggernaut but the mishandling of the pandemic has shown that Hindutva as an ideology is a handicap in the running of a modern state. The challenge to the BJP will come at the state-level & will be rooted in a cultural pushback.

The Achievements and Challenges of the Kerala 'Model'

The experience of Kerala ever since its formation in 1956 shows that, contrary to received wisdom, high public spending on social sectors improves people’s lives and also provides a positive thrust to economic growth.

The English Education of a Kashmiri

"In a conflict-ridden space like Kashmir, can working-class people express and understand the world in a language that is not their own, while simultaneously aspiring to be upwardly mobile? Is that desire worth the struggle it takes to reach there?"

Child Marriages During the Pandemic

The worsening of poverty during the pandemic may well have led to a worrying spurt in marriages of girl children in India. The information available indicates that has happened, pushing back the progress of recent decades in reducing child marriages.

The Politics of Language in Assam

Language has been at the heart of political debate in Assam since the formation of the British colonial province of Assam in 1874, then through the turbulent decades leading to Independence, the separation of Sylhet during Partition, and into our times.

‘Conquering Delhi’

The popular culture of the farmers’ protests
Cultural motifs of the Sikhs' ‘conquest’ of Delhi animate the art and music of the farmers’ movement. Memories of defiance and triumph, juxtaposed with images of the protests, inspire the farmers to go on despite hardships.

Himalayan Histories

The Himalayas have been a zone of global interactions and exchanges over the centuries, quite unlike the stereotype of remoteness and isolation.

Rammohun Roy's ‘Gift'

His first published piece
On the eve of the 250th birth anniversary of Rammohun Roy, a discussion of his 'Tuhfat-ul-Muwahhiddin', a tract written in Persian on the One Universal Truth.

Silences of Jiddu Krishnamurti

'Krishnamurti forced us to excavate the hubris buried in our body and soul but refused to share his own ambiguities ... he shut the door on himself, probably as much for self-preservation, as for keeping us away.' An essay on the questions JK did not ask.

Historical Roots of the Rise of Hindutva in West Bengal

For a century, Hindu organisations have worked amongst Dalits in Bengal to incorporate them into the religious community, while the Left excised the question of caste from its discourse. These legacies have come to the fore as the BJP rises in the state.

Casting Away Misogyny

An important memoir discusses how patriarchy and misogyny in Hindu society are sustained by caste.
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