Shiv Visvanathan

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Shiv Visvanathan

Congress: Wake up, own up, take charge

A party in doldrums is always an invitation for analysis. The eerie aspect of the Congress’ decline is the reaction to it.

Rituals of cleanliness

Governance as an art form and as a science usually levitates into pomposity of technocratic words. One smells the rituals of decision-making, the power of timetables.

Life in the perpetual Congress-stan

Polling time carries a mark of liminality. It is undecided time, standing at the interlude between campaigning and election results. Every contender, no matter how confident, mimics a question mark.

How Madison danced to Modi playlist

The career of Narendra Modi whets the appetite of any anthropologist. The way the man has been transformed from a roadside bully and a riot suspect to a statesman, a leader of the developing nations, is fascinating to watch.

No good deed must go unpunished

Disasters not only disrupt society, they also distort its basic categories, creating inversions, disrupting normalcy and suspending time in a prolonged way. Return to normalcy then becomes even more difficult and unpredictable.

Text & context

A political party which seeks a text book start often remains superficial, pretending that the preamble or the introduction remains the real thing. For a party that created a great propaganda machine to devastate the Congress during the election, the Bharatiya Janata Party regime has little to say.

Reinventing the Left

Rudolf Heredia, a Jesuit sociologist and theologian, once asked me whether I could think of a way of escaping ideology and social science terms like poverty and exploitation — which have almost become

Gandhi, between hate & cliché

I want to begin with a little story that was told to me by a leading executive at Aptech. He was exercising in a gym with a lot of younger people.

The joys of being ‘third class’

Modern theories of efficiency and equality are such that one loses a celebration of the marginal. Ever since socialism, we have removed the category called “third class” from our trains and our lives. As an upwardly mobile nation, we want to travel first class and as a truly global country we want our institutions to be world class. Our presidents and vice-chancellors were upset when they realised that our IITs and IIMs are not world class.

The Babri memory

Babri Masjid is today a photo-montage of images, with each image capturing one angle of a strange and kaleidoscopic event. Babri is also a failure of storytelling because each separate story demands a different sense of ending, and a different idea of consequences.

When our public sector is much in news whether it involves privatisation or disinvestment, it is worth recalling whether they are good corporate citizens, especially when they are monopolies.

How many deaths will it take to realise that too many young women in their prime have needlessly died?