When Coomi Kapoor, a contributing editor at the Indian Express, was a young reporter at the paper’s Delhi office in 1975, the Emergency came into effect. In addition to forced sterlisations, land grabbing, and the arrests of opposition members and people who protested, the government, under Indira Gandhi and her son Sanjay, also implemented a stealthy censorship policy in which publications had to tow the government line or they would be shut down for minor regulatory reasons. In this excerpt from her book The Emergency: A Personal History, with a foreword by Arun Jaitley, Kapoor recalls how Ramnath Goenka, an industrialist and media baron who owned the Indian Express, steered the paper clear of every tactic of intimidation the government placed before it.
“Who’s hooking up with whom at the firangi’s party tonight?”
In 1997, when I arrived at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University to study history, the Bharatiya Janata Party was on the rise. The party had formed a 13-day government in 1996 and was widely anticipated to be on the cusp of power.
Three years and a few months is too short a period for any political party to come undone. But if the spate of events rapidly unfolding in Bengal is any indication of its changing political future, then the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) has entered the zone of vulnerability.
The public perception of some of the largest private sector players in the country can best be captured by a slight tweak to what American journalist Matt Taibbi had written about Goldman Sachs
in 2010: India’s most powerful private companies are great vampire squids wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming their blood funnel into anything that smells like money.
For our May cover story on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and its sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat, the writer Dinesh Narayanan spent five months interviewing senior officials of the organisation, full-time volunteers, Sangh historians, senior journalists closely associated with the organisation, former BJP ministers and leaders at the state and central level, and Mohan Bhagwat's close relatives and childhood friends, in Nagpur, Delhi, Pune, Hyderabad, Kerala and Mumbai. In this interview, Narayanan discusses Bhagwat's life, and the political methods and aims of the organisation he leads.
On this night, thirty years ago, the first batch of army troops stormed the Golden Temple—or to use the name most invoked by the faithful, the Darbar Sahib—in Amritsar, which had been occupied by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his followers. Lieutenant Colonel Israr Rahim Khan led the operation. In this extract from ‘The Shattered Dome’ by Hartosh Singh Bal, Khan recounts the night with terrifying clarity.
I spoke to an editor at one of Network18’s magazines over the phone on Thursday night. He had survived last year’s layoffs, but the cull had claimed good reporters and editors around him, hardening him to the company. Further, senior management had shown misplaced sympathy: the Firstpost editor R Jagannathan published a teacherly column
soon after the layoffs, advising readers and presumably sacked employees on “ways to beat the current job gloom.” The events convinced the editor to keep his relationship with his employer strictly transactional. He would only do what was asked of him, nothing more. For a company defined by the hardy entrepreneurial spirit of its founder, Raghav Bahl, this sentiment was significant. “Now I just do my job,” the editor said.
In 2008, after his second assembly election win in 2007, Narendra Modi wrote a book titled Jyotipunj (which translates as “beams of light”) in which he retold the life stories of sixteen men who inspired him. All sixteen men were members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, and many of them mentored the young Modi in his time as a pracharak in Ahmedabad in the mid and late 1970s. The longest biography is of the RSS’s second sarsanghchalak, MS Golwalkar, who expanded the organisation after he was given its charge by its founder KB Hedgewar. Modi does not refer to any personal contact with Golwalkar in this essay. Even so, the reverence with which Modi writes of Golwalkar in the essay, titled ‘Pujniya Shri Guruji,’ (guru worthy of worship) suggests that Golwalkar is the second most important influence—Vivekanand is the first—on the life of the prime minister of India. We will be publishing the first English translation—by Aakar Patel—of the biography in four parts. In this, the first, Modi writes admiringly of the ease with which Golwalkar took life decisions.
Everybody sets goals or targets to reach. Ordinary mortals may be spared judgement if they consider those objectives to be ends in themselves. But people who aim for key roles in public life cannot be afforded such luxuries because their work begins once they achieve their goal. Thus, they must have a vision beyond that goal. For almost three years, Narendra Modi ran a carefully calibrated campaign to become prime minister. He conducted his electioneering with precise planning and orchestration, running a campaign that consumed immense time, energy and resources. But on Monday, 26 May, when he took oath as India’s chief executive and unveiled his team, which is supposed to transform India, what we saw was somewhat underwhelming.