The business of caste in India

Advertisements Priyanka P. Narain and Pallavi SIngh Mumbai/New Delhi: Images of adventure reside in their collective memory—journeys into the cobbled streets of Antwerp to compete with powerful Hasidic Jew merchants for grubby stones, which, when polished and cut, would sparkle and dazzle. The journey that transformed the Palanpuri Jains from cloth and perfume traders into… Continue reading The business of caste in India

Bihar’s IIT dream

Advertisements Patna: Along the busy Rajendra Nagar flyover in Patna, the skyline is dotted with huge, irregularly placed hoardings. More than a hundred in number, they congregate with a purpose: to help every child in the city enter the Indian Institute of Technology (IITs), the country’s premier technical institutes. This dream caught Navneet Rajan’s fancy… Continue reading Bihar’s IIT dream

Patna’s Brave New Nights

Advertisements Pallavi SinghPatna That hot June afternoon in 1992 left an indelible imprint on Shanker Dutt’s memory. “June 5, in fact, let me tell you,” he says matter-of-factly. The professor of English was at Patna University’s Darbhanga House, the heritage precinct where postgraduate classes for literature students are held, attending a farewell function for one… Continue reading Patna’s Brave New Nights

Rise of India’s caste warrior

Advertisements Pallavi SinghDuhai, Ghaziabad: Caste is most often seen through the prism of conflict—the heated national debates about reservations, the political polarization on the census and the attacks on young couples that have been blessed by caste panchayats. But far away from the spotlight, there is the more benign world of organizations and activists who… Continue reading Rise of India’s caste warrior

Islamic students body on a mission for peace

Advertisements Pallavi SinghNew Delhi: Hashmatullah Khan says the combination invites scrutiny: students, computers and Islam. In his case, it gets worse. He is general secretary of the Students Islamic Organisation (SIO). No, not the Students Islamic Movement of India, better known as SIMI, and effectively banned for alleged extremist activities. But Khan can’t avoid the… Continue reading Islamic students body on a mission for peace

Government’s madrasa reform plan hits theological hurdle

Advertisements New Delhi: The impasse over a government proposal to modernize madrasas, or traditional Islamic schools, illustrates how a “minority mindset” imposed by the ulema, or clergy, and politicians could draw Muslims deeper into the morass of conservatism, poverty and unemployment. Fostering education: (from left) Shafiqur Rahman, Abdul Khan, Afaque Rahmani and Salim Akhtar Bellali… Continue reading Government’s madrasa reform plan hits theological hurdle

In the job market, Caste role reversal

Advertisements I am absolutely thrilled to share another story on caste. This one again has gone missing from Mint’s website. I found this story’s draft on my drive and googled with the first four lines. Guess what, this blog had shared the story with the Mint link that does not work anymore. Thanks to the… Continue reading In the job market, Caste role reversal

Dalit Capitalism

Advertisements I covered Dalit capitalism for Mint in its early days when DICCI as a chamber of commerce for the Dalit community had just come up. My boss at Mint, who is an economist, always felt proud of my work, especially on Dalit capitalism. Today, I spoke to Milind Kamble, founder and chairman of DICCI,… Continue reading Dalit Capitalism

Changing approach to dealing with rape

Advertisements The young girl, visibly bruised and shaken, was brought for questioning amid blaring sirens and numerous cops stirred by her sudden appearance. She was reporting rape on a summer day in 2001 in a police station in central Delhi, where the policemen struggled to make sense of her distress. In an instant, they went… Continue reading Changing approach to dealing with rape

‘Good research is vital’

Advertisements This very interesting interview with Alpa Shah is a must-read for anyone aspiring to write narrative non-fiction. Shah, a professor of anthropology at my alma mater London School of Economics, speaks beautifully and honestly about her writing process while working on ‘Nightmarch’ and has great messages for both academics as well as writers of… Continue reading ‘Good research is vital’

WHAT ATISHI’S DEFEAT AND PRAGYA SINGH THAKUR’S WIN TELL US ABOUT INDIA

Advertisements More than 100 years ago, in the iconic Citizenship In A Republic speech, US President Theodore Roosevelt outlined the key drivers of a successful republic: the quality of its citizens and high calibre political leaders who would hold the average citizen to a high standard—not just by words, but by deeds as well. The… Continue reading WHAT ATISHI’S DEFEAT AND PRAGYA SINGH THAKUR’S WIN TELL US ABOUT INDIA

#Elections2019: Five ways the media says all is not well with the saffron sweep

Advertisements One of the most compelling worries of the fourth estate in recent years has been the restricted window of communication it was offered with Narendra Modi during his first term as India’s prime minister. This, many journalists argue, has undermined their position and journalism’s place in matters of national interest. But for journalists across… Continue reading #Elections2019: Five ways the media says all is not well with the saffron sweep

What Atishi’s defeat and Pragya Singh Thakur’s win tell us about India

Advertisements More than 100 years ago, in the iconic Citizenship In A Republic speech, US President Theodore Roosevelt outlined the key drivers of a successful republic: the quality of its citizens and high calibre political leaders who would hold the average citizen to a high standard—not just by words, but by deeds as well. The… Continue reading What Atishi’s defeat and Pragya Singh Thakur’s win tell us about India

Plan panel mulls ways to spur Dalit capitalism

Advertisements The government has begun discussions with Dalit entrepreneurs on what can be done to promote business ventures set up by members of their community. As a part of its discussions with various groups before it finalizes the 12th Plan for 2012-17, the Planning Commission has sought suggestions from the Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce… Continue reading Plan panel mulls ways to spur Dalit capitalism

From Bhopal to London, quest for justice travels in a bottle

Advertisements Bhopal: It was probably the label that deterred shoppers in London from grabbing a free bottle of water being distributed one summer afternoon this year. B’eau Pal’s water was deceptively clear even though it came from a slum colony hand pump in Atal Ayub Nagar, Bhopal. Its bold red label told the real story,… Continue reading From Bhopal to London, quest for justice travels in a bottle

Bharti’s cellular theory of growth

Advertisements Olhanpur, Bihar: Until about three years ago, Nizamuddin Ansari, 65, a retired head clerk from the Indian Railways mail service, spent most of his days on the verandah at home. The monotony of watching over his courtyard as the women of his family went about their household chores would be broken by the occasional… Continue reading Bharti’s cellular theory of growth

Reading Hindustan in Bihar

Advertisements Raghopur, Bihar: At 3am, a newspaper van from Searchlite Printing Press in Patna sets out in the dark with bundles of Hindustan, the best-selling Hindi daily in Bihar (Hindustan is published by HT Media Ltd, which also publishes Mint). It makes its way through a narrow, straight road to Khushrupur, around 40km away, every… Continue reading Reading Hindustan in Bihar

85% quota seats going empty as candidates fail to make the grade

Advertisements With barely a month to go before they begin their new academic session, the six new Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), launched by the government this year, are struggling to fill their incoming classes. Against the backdrop of the government wanting to implement 27% quota for other backward classes (OBCs) in higher educational institutions,… Continue reading 85% quota seats going empty as candidates fail to make the grade

Kamla Balan bridge: it’s a disaster waiting to happen

Advertisements Jhanjharpur, Bihar: On an apology of a road leading to this small town in Madhubani district, thick and diverse traffic—from trains to four-wheelers—chugs along on a century-old bridge over the Kamla Balan river. Lifeline: The century-old bridge facilitates the movement of 14 trains and 500 vehicles every day to and from Jhanjharpur. Ashish Gupta… Continue reading Kamla Balan bridge: it’s a disaster waiting to happen

Indian campuses get a foreign flavour

Advertisements Opportunity brought Tatiana Alejandra Cardona to Phagwara, 335km north of New Delhi. This past summer, during her arduous search for a job, Cardona, who hails from Colombia, stumbled upon an online advertisement for faculty positions at Lovely Professional University (LPU), a private institution. Cardona, who is 23, recalls that “the university appeared very big”,… Continue reading Indian campuses get a foreign flavour

Jamia Millia fights to preserve secular spirit

Advertisements In just a fortnight, Jamia Nagar, best known as the host of the historic Jamia Millia Islamia, has become a world of fear. The realization hit A.K. Ramakrishnan, a professor at the university’s Centre for West Asian studies, after 19 September. That’s when bullets fired by the police at Batla House, one of the… Continue reading Jamia Millia fights to preserve secular spirit

25 years on, what’s next for Mayawati?

Advertisements Kairana, Muzaffarnagar: The young lady was dark, dressed in a salwar-suit, and had been through college —a rarity for a Dalit woman 25 years ago (as was the dress itself). Khem Chand remembers the day in December the lady, a candidate in the parliamentary elections, came campaigning in the Al Darmiyan area of Kairana… Continue reading 25 years on, what’s next for Mayawati?

Government’s madrasa reform plan hits theological hurdle

Advertisements The impasse over a government proposal to modernize madrasas, or traditional Islamic schools, illustrates how a “minority mindset” imposed by the ulema, or clergy, and politicians could draw Muslims deeper into the morass of conservatism, poverty and unemployment. Fostering education: (from left) Shafiqur Rahman, Abdul Khan, Afaque Rahmani and Salim Akhtar Bellali at a… Continue reading Government’s madrasa reform plan hits theological hurdle

The management of Bihar

Advertisements At Patna’s congested Dak Bunglow intersection, where maddening traffic throbs like the impatient pulse of its people, a life-size billboard dazzles passers-by, announcing an ambitious venture: a “world-class business school for transforming Bihar”. The plan for the proposed transformation is simple: The B-school will help students set up new ventures, consult and collaborate with… Continue reading The management of Bihar

The roads more travelled

Advertisements By any measure that day in May, at the peak of summer, was an important one for Nawada, one of Bihar’s 37 districts. The bridge over the teeming Sakri river at Kadirganj block opened that day and soon enough two decisions on either side of the river, though seemingly disparate, were taken. In Kadirganj,… Continue reading The roads more travelled

Bihar sees a growing tribe of rural migrants

Advertisements Amipur may be a small dot along the national highway from Patna to Nawada, but its ambitions are big. In the 50-odd households in the village, sparsely populated and rife with an uneasy quiet, most men have left for work outside Bihar. Siyaram Chauhan is the one who returned. He was rescued last month… Continue reading Bihar sees a growing tribe of rural migrants

Bihar sees reverse brain drain

Advertisements It was perhaps the worst of times. With the fall of night, Patna would blanket itself in a pall of darkness, interrupted occasionally by traffic thinning rapidly with each passing hour. Downed shutters in shops would signal fearful business, rickshaws would accept no late evening passengers and women and children would be home before… Continue reading Bihar sees reverse brain drain