Issue Articles

The Legal and the Lethal

AFSPA and the incarceration of justice in Nagaland
AFSPA keeps apart ideas of law and justice; a separation that makes the Nagas 'killable', as in Oting. The law incorporates them into the Indian nation-state as rights-deprived subjects — and, in the process, reveals the dark side of Indian democracy.

From Lucknow to Delhi

The stakes in UP’s assembly elections
The BJP may well return to power in Uttar Pradesh in 2022. But if a rejuvenated opposition manages to limit the incumbent's victory tally, that could reshape the contours of the 2024 national elections.

Disinformation: A New Type of State-Sponsored Violence

While attempts by the ruling party to control the media and the messaging are not new in India, what we see now is the use of new technology to ‘curate’ and exercise ‘centralised control’ to spread disinformation in order to harass and intimidate critics.

Can India’s Flagship Public Health Insurance Scheme Do What it Promises?

PMJAY promised to fix India's patchy heathcare coverage and reduce hospitalisation costs for the poor. Four years into its existence, the scheme needs to pause expansion, learn, and consolidate.

The Myth of the Meritorious Doctor

Caste privilege in the medical profession
Reservations are — wrongly — blamed for encouraging mediocrity in the medical profession. The historical record shows that the floundering foundations of the profession were laid by doctors who came 'purely through merit'.

‘Dear Mr. Gandhi’

Letters from a Mailbag in History
The first two volumes of 'Letters to Gandhi', covering 1889-1910, trace a fine-grained texture of Gandhi’s life in the initial decades of public life. They offer vignettes of a rapid rise in the public sphere and dogged work in the face of overwhelming odds.

A ‘Licence’ to Kill in the Sundarbans

A regime of fishing licences in the Sundarbans, unchanged since colonial times, might be the single biggest everyday hazard to the lives of the fishers: on par with tigers, cyclones, and rising seas.

Why do Opinion Polls make Wrong Predictions?

Polling is based on sound statistical theory, but pollsters seldom divulge their polling methodologies for us to assess quality. There is enough room to question the study designs, possible selection biases, and randomness in selection of samples.

India’s Fertility Transition and Differences between Religious Groups

‘Overpopulation’ can no longer be a concern in India, as across states and across religious groups fertility has been falling in recent decades and approaching replacement level. Fears about a demographic shift between religious groups are not based on fact.

Plane Tales: Air India’s Return to the Tatas

The Tatas' acquisition of Air India is hailed as a triumph for private enterprise in its battle with the remnants of the Nehruvian state. The history of Indian aviation, however, is of the Indian state offering crucial support to the Tatas over the decades.

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.

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?"

Distress and Danger in Kashmir

Until the recent killings of minorities, there was an unusual silence in Kashmir valley. Kashmir’s situation reveals the tell-tale signs of a region pushed into a vortex of irrecoverable misery, thanks to monumental official blunders.

Digital ID: A Single Source of Truth

The push worldwide to give everyone a legal identity was to allow people better access to financial and public services. But this endeavour has quickly morphed into promoting Digital IDs that are increasingly used for surveillance and control.

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'.

The Kashmiri Women Demanding Answers

Zia’s ethnography of Kashmiri women activists seeking redressal for the enforced disappearance of their relatives resonates with the struggles faced by many across India's conflict zones.

The Crisis of Citizenship in Assam

Autonomy and social justice are often in a tense relationship in Assam. While the demands for autonomy reflect the desire for territorial control over land, demands for social justice reflect an insistence on citizenship and equality under constitutional law.

The Cycles of History

The US departure from Kabul has drawn inevitable comparisons with the exit from Saigon in 1975, but ‘history’s eternal shadow, namely, the future, will always throw up surprises no matter how carefully we curate the past to tell us what we want to believe’.

Another Chapter in Afghanistan

Afghanistan is not the exhausted, impoverished, war-weary country the Taliban took over in 1996. Nor are the Taliban the same cohesive force. New aspirations, and pressures from the ground and foreign backers will shape the new regime's governance style.

Twenty Years of the ‘Global War on Terror’

Matters have come full circle in Afghanistan, the main theatre of the ‘war on terror’. Chaos is festering in Syria, Libya, Yemen & Iraq. The failure of U.S. justice presages an unravelling of the international order. An alternative could emerge in war or peace

Seven Medallists at Tokyo, Seven Hundred Crowd the Podium

The Indian athletes at Tokyo gave it all they could but a familiar ugliness has surfaced after the event. Officials, politicians, and sponsors are jumping on to the bandwagon of the medallists, while some who failed face the wrath of officials.

India: From the World’s Largest Democracy to an Ethnocracy

The principle that Hindus can rule and marginalise others has firmly established itself beyond the BJP and the RSS. This emerging ethnocracy in India draws on electoral victories and legislative majorities, making formal suspension of democracy unnecessary.

Blockchain vs Public Bulletin Board for Integrity of Elections and Electoral Rolls

When the Election Commission is the sole decider of a public ledger, the use of Blockchain to conduct polls & maintain voter lists may result in an unverifiable & highly insecure solution. A simpler cryptographic-secured public bulletin board will suffice.
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