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

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

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