History

History

Issue Articles

The Architecture of Democracy

Central Vista and a Tale of Three Axes
The imperial Central Vista in Delhi has been transformed since 1947 into a symbol of democratic India. But the proposed redevelopment will reduce public space, highlight the spectacle of government and seems to reflect the authoritarian turn in our democracy.

Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the 75th Anniversary of ‘Nuclear Peace’

'Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds’. Physicist Robert Oppenheimer recalled these lines from the Gita after watching the first nuclear test in July 1945. With the world now sitting on a huge nuclear stockpile, can we hope to avoid that destruction?

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.

Examining the Making of the Constitution

At the dawn of independence, the liberal traditions that underpin a constitutional democracy were absent in India. How did the framers of the Constitution deal with this challenge?

Making Indian Cities Habitable

The Legacy of Patrick Geddes
The social & environmental problems of a rapidly urbanising India were anticipated a century ago by the Scottish town planner Patrick Geddes. It may be time to redeem & rehabilitate Geddes’ themes of respect for nature, democracy & architectural traditions.

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.

Manufacturing Epidemics

Pathogens, Poverty, and Public Health Crises in India
India's Covid-19 crisis is one effect of a decades-long process that has produced impoverishment, hunger, and ill-health, all at once. Its history of epidemics can offer insights into understanding the structural roots of its poor public health infrastructure.

‘The Government Will Come To Its Senses’

Calcutta’s Workers and the Plague of 1898
The plague of 1898 brought Calcutta's workers out into the streets to strike against low pay & forced inoculation. The disorders during the epidemic gave the working class their first opportunity to organise themselves & to build up the city’s labour movement.

Past and Present

Can India Beat Corona the Way It Beat Smallpox?
The eradication of smallpox in India in the 1970s may throw light on the evolving corona strategies. The attempts, then & now, operate against the backdrop of a destitute landscape, & increasingly a bigoted one, where some lives are more expendable than others

The Rise of the Populist State

A populist idea has developed that an entrenched elite is exploiting deprived people. This then drives populist anger that certain types of leaders take advantage of and exploit through rhetoric and a clever manipulation of facts.

Revisiting Partition Debates

The Global Connections
Partition debates in India drew on the League of Nations’ discussions on minorities in the nation-states created after World War I. The League’s legacy persisted beyond Partition, even making a ghost appearance in the controversy over Assam's NRC.

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 Ayodhya Verdict Dissected

A close analysis of the Supreme Court's final judgement on the Ayodhya dispute that has been criticised as much as it has been praised for how it has brought about closure

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?

When the Past Melts

Bhagat Singh as a Reader
Bhagat Singh always surrounded himself with a library. His eclectic reading tastes ranged from the classical tradition to high modernity. Decoding his reading habits reveals a futuristic paradigm for the Idea of India.

India 2019

A curated set of 25 articles published in "The India Forum" during the past year that described, discussed and critiqued the many important events that took place in India in 2019, a momentous year when a project to reshape the country was begun.

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".

Life with the Mahatma

The first volume of the translation of the diaries of Manu Gandhi, niece of Mohandas Gandhi, give a detailed account of life at the Aga Khan Palace jail in Pune where the Mahatma was interned during the Quit India movement, and where Kasturba Gandhi died.

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 Republic and the Kashmir Valley

From Federalism to “Internal Colonisation”
India’s political experiment over seven decades had shown that federalism can accommodate diverse policies for diverse identities and thus strengthen democracy in a plural society. That has now been set aside by the Government of India’s actions in Kashmir.

What Made the East India Company So Successful?

Analysis Goes Missing in Dalrymple
William Dalrymple's book on the East India Company is written very well and has a great deal of detail. But the writing of good History needs more. It calls for a consideration of all relevant facts and a comprehensive analysis. This is unfortunately missing.

Gandhi: A Player of Infinite Games

Even radical dissenters have experimented within some boundaries. Gandhi played with boundaries themselves in nearly every domain of life — politics, sexuality, culture, knowledge. He was uniquely a player of infinite games with a vision of life as play.
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