Shiv Visvanathan

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Shiv Visvanathan

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

A case for dying

One of the most fascinating things about the 21st century is what I call the return of the body to the centrality of things. The body has become the site for all the major dramas — philosophical, political and ethical.

Science and responsibility

One of the most fascinating things about science is that it can no longer be seen as the thing under a lens. Science has become kaleidoscopic meaning many different things to many people.

Why we need AAP

One of the most difficult things to write about after the current elections is the fate of the Aam Aadmi Party. The AAP was many things to many people and yet to all of them it represented a sense of hope, the optimism of a new politics.

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.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted the Indian diaspora in New York with a grand promise: “India will touch new heights.” The crowd of 20,000 Americans of Indian origin erupted in re

Egos or simple ambition? Expediency or strategy? Betrayal or good, old-fashioned politics? What lies behind the big splits in Maharashtra, virtually at the 11th hour before the elections?