Amidst the noise that has surrounded the 102nd Indian Science Congress, with assertions and counter-assertions flying back and forth about our ancient heritage, it seems to have escaped our attention that the Indian scientific community has shown a complete lack of spine when faced with the manipulation of the truth by the proponents of Hindutva.
As books editor at this magazine and, more generally, as someone trying to make meaning of the Indian literary sphere, it seems to me that we’re passing through the Dickensian best of times and worst of times, an era possible to evaluate in “the superlative degree of comparison only.” More books are being published than ever before, a steady 10–12% increase in the business annually, suggesting the scope for newer kinds of literary practices and new ways of talking about them.
Yesterday, Adil Jussawalla’s collection of poems Trying to Say Goodbye (2012) was one of eight books of poetry conferred the Sahitya Akademi Award 2014. In our April 2014 issue, Arvind Krishna Mehrotra wrote about Jussawalla’s prose and how it was imbued with poetry. In this excerpt from that story, Mehrotra tells of his introduction to Jussawalla as a young poet in Bombay in 1966.
Altaf Hussain runs a small flour shop in the heart of Saddar Bazaar, part of a town on the outskirts of Peshawar. I met Hussain quite by chance. It was in December exactly a year ago. I was there with a colleague for a couple of days, and we were roaming around the bazaar, where loose fabric in bright colours was sold alongside glittery glass bangles. Evening had fallen, and we were looking for a place to have tea. As I walked along the street, I noticed an elderly man walking towards me. He was dressed in a starched shalwar kameez, with a waistcoat and a heavy cane and black shiny shoes. As he stepped over a piece of cardboard on the street, his entire leg sank into a hole. He struggled to pull himself up with the cane, but the more he pushed the lower he seemed to sink. A group of men ran over and pulled him out. He grimaced, shaking his sewage-soaked leg, and without saying a word continued on his way. Now I could see that the entire street had holes in it, covered with flimsy pieces of cardboard. We proceeded carefully and finally found a tea stall at the end of the block, but there was no place to sit. The stench from the open hole still lingered in my nose, making me dizzy.
In this excerpt from Pranab Mukherjee’s new book The Dramatic Decade—the first volume of a trilogy—Mukherjee claims that Jayaprakash Narayan failed to see through the opportunism of the opposition parties demanding Indira Gandhi’s resignation in 1975.
Earlier this week, two hundred Muslims in Uttar Pradesh were reportedly converted to Hinduism by members of the Bajrang Dal—a militant wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh—and another Sangh-affiliated organisation. Many of the Muslims later said they were misled into converting through the promise of identity cards, which could help them access welfare schemes. The senior RSS ideologue Manmohan Vaidya and other Sangh leaders called the event a ghar vapsi, or homecoming. “It’s not conversion, it’s reconversion,” Vaidya told the news agency ANI. “All the Muslims and Christians staying here were earlier Hindus only, if they want to return to their religion they have the permission.” The Bharatiya Janata Party member of parliament Yogi Adityanath plans to carry out a similar conversion ceremony in Aligarh on 25 December, Christmas day.
In our December data special, ‘Paper Routes
,’ the analysts at howindialives.com mined publicly available data sets for insights into government advertising spend and newspaper revenue at five of the country’s largest dailies. The data were extracted from the websites of the Department of Advertising and Visual Publicity (the DAVP) and the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. Here are a few things they found.
As polling begins in Kashmir today in a five-phase election for the Jammu & Kashmir state assembly, we present an edited excerpt from Sanjay Kak’s “Ballot Bullet Stone,” which appeared in the September 2014 issue of The Caravan.
On 5 November, the governor of Gujarat OP Kohli accorded his sanction to the Gujarat Local Authorities Law (Amendment) Bill 2009 that makes voting in local body elections in the state compulsory. Although, at first blush, the move appears to hold rare appeal—particularly to ideologues that view voting as a bounden duty of a citizen in a democratic polity—the law is plainly unconstitutional. The obligation imposed by the legislation, as a careful reading of the measure shows us, treads dangerously upon our most cherished, and constitutionally protected, liberties.