Home » Archive

Articles in the ToI Columns Category

Debates & Discussions, Indian Architecture & City Planning, Indian History, Medieval Indian History, ToI Columns »

[7 Jul 2014 | 3 Comments | 235 views]
Re-examining History: The Making of the Taj

*** CAUTION: Long Post ***
This article is the first in a series in which I intend to probe some of the odd “facts” about Taj Mahal – the iconic structure that has become symbolic of grandeur & beauty in medieval Indian architecture.  This series will largely draw on the seminal research and study of primary sources & contemporary accounts by Dr V S Godbole during the years 1981 – 1996, condensed in his book, “Taj Mahal: Analysis of A Great Deception”
In the first part, a closer look at the effort …

Indian Culture, Arts and Music, ToI Columns »

[3 Jun 2014 | 4 Comments | 139 views]
The Rashtrapati Bhavan: Would this relic of the Raj better serve as a Museum?

Long after the visuals of the swearing-in ceremony in the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan had faded from the TV screens, one thought kept nagging me: Why can’t this relic of the Raj be put to a better use? How about converting it into a National Museum?
I know we already have one in New Delhi. But did you know it does not have enough space and can only showcase about 15,000 of its over 2 lakh artefacts? Forget about showcasing, the museum does not even have enough space to store these …

Current Affairs, Politics and Governance in India, ToI Columns »

[28 May 2014 | One Comment | 251 views]
The fall and fall of Arvind Kejriwal..

So Arvind Kejriwal finally decided to furnish a bond and get bail. Good for him. Frankly, the drama had dragged on a bit too long. And the “Sorry Sabhas” did not seem to be having any impact either (excuse the pun). I guess people are tired of apologies – and excuses.
They wish to see something positive. Something constructive. Something exciting. Something that grabs the imagination.
Like a pledge to make New Delhi the safest Indian city for women, with the lowest crime rate to boot.  Or a pledge to ensure that …

India & Its Neighbours, ToI Columns »

[26 May 2014 | No Comment | 171 views]
At NaMo’s swearing-in, Chanakya’s Raja-Mandala on display

For students of statecraft and history, the invitations to SAARC leaders for the swearing in ceremony of PM-designate provide a fascinating example of Acharya Chanakya’s Raja-Mandala doctrine at work.  In Kautilya’s Artha-Shastra, in Book VI, “The Source of Sovereign States”, Acharya is quoted as saying;
“The king who is situated anywhere immediately on the circumference of the conqueror’s territory is termed the enemy….The king who is likewise situated close to the enemy, but separated from the conqueror only by the enemy, is termed the friend (of the conqueror).”
This of course, is part …

Political Ideology, ToI Columns »

[15 May 2014 | 3 Comments | 211 views]
On Hindutva & Liberalism..

In Lutyen’s Delhi hushed tones speak of a new bugbear in town. Such is the fear that even ardent & otherwise proud Hindus will try & avoid uttering the word – lest they be shunned and ridiculed. The word is ‘Hindutva’.
But fear was not what prompted this post. It was a question triggered by an email from a friend (who shared this fear). He asked, is Hindutva really appropriate in a liberal context? That question pretty much summed up all that is wrong with our understanding of the word. It also …

Indian History, Islamic Rule in India, Medieval Indian History, ToI Columns »

[9 May 2014 | 2 Comments | 204 views]
An uneven battle, the heroes of Haldighati & forgetting history

Today happens to be an important date in Indian medieval history. It marks the birth of one of India’s true heroes – a man whose life exemplifies valour, courage, fierce pride and self-respect - MahaRana Pratap Singh of Mewar*.
Unfortunately most of us have only the foggiest idea of his exploits, thanks to our “education”.  The MahaRana is largely ignored in the history textbooks of early years in India. Yesterday, as I was browsing the Class VII History Text Book prepared by NCERT, I noticed it did not have any mention of …

A Hindu Identity, An Indian Identity, Conversions, Missionaries in India, India & Its Neighbours, ToI Columns »

[26 Apr 2014 | 2 Comments | 122 views]
What happened to my wonderful kaleidoscope?

The official website of the “Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner” of India mentions that, “Religion returns in Indian census provide a wonderful kaleidoscope of the country s rich social composition..”.  It also proudly states that “In fact, population census has the rate distinction of being the only instrument that collets the information son this diverse and important characteristic of the Indian population.(sic)”.  The site has a helpful and neat table of data from the 2001 census on the main page as well as the distribution of population …

Development Related, Indian Economy, Politics and Governance in India, ToI Columns »

[4 Apr 2014 | 3 Comments | 176 views]
India’s Painful Problem of Plenty…

Most of you may know that India produces more food than we can consume. In fact, India has been self sufficient in food for at least the last three decades, having “achieved self- sufficiency in food production in the late 1970s (1)”. And yet hunger in India remains at alarming levels. More children remain malnourished in India than any part of the world (almost 40% of the world’s total according to some estimates).
What most of you may not know is that “..India wastes a quantity of wheat equivalent to the …

Personal, Politics and Governance in India, ToI Columns »

[28 Mar 2014 | 4 Comments | 255 views]
On BJP, supporting NaMo and the Long Road..

Back in December 2013, when I joined AAP, I was hoping this would be another front against the Congress/UPA…This is what I wrote then (emphasis added):
As for the BJP, in spite of Sh. Modi, my publicly stated opposition to its “collusion” with the rotten system remains in place. The big difference between my stance in July and today is that instead of “one man” who has a fighting chance of making Congress history, today we have two. One remains the front-runner to lead India.  It is time to work with the other …

Indian Economy, Politics and Governance in India, ToI Columns »

[30 Jan 2014 | 3 Comments | 437 views]
“How would you solve the jobs problem?” etc..

At a meeting a few days back in Indore, I was asked a question that is probably on the minds of most youngsters in India today: “Why are there so few jobs?” – and more pointedly, “How would you solve the jobs problem?”  Below is a somewhat hurried summary of my response…
We have 2 issues here: (i) on the “supply” side and (ii) on the “demand” side.
On the “supply” side, we are faced with vast numbers of young graduates and school drop-outs who are mostly “unemployable”, have very little “skills” …