After months of demanding centralization of vaccines by experts and opposition parties alike, the Narendra Modi government has finally caved in. While announcing this, the Prime Minister claimed that earlier India had to wait for decades to procure vaccines while under his govt India is self-sufficient. This claim is grossly exaggerated. There is evidence, for instance, that the precursor to modern smallpox vaccine(inoculation) had its origins in India and China as late as the seventeenth century. The first smallpox vaccine was administered in India only over 5 years after its discovery(1802). The first vaccine laboratory was built in 1899. Though…

A few days ago, popular conservative/classical liberal commentator and talk show host Dave Rubin tweeted a thread outlining his reason for why our society is collapsing. There is, of course, an argument to be had about whether our society is collapsing at all. As Steven Pinker argues in Enlightenment Now, our society seems to be heading towards a generally progressive direction. However, for the sake of argument, lets assume that Rubin is referring to the worst of our society. In the thread, he specifically refers to “wokeism” and claims that secular liberals have no defense against our collapsing society. Rubin…

One Hundred and thirty seven years after his death,Karl Marx remains one of the most polarizing figures in our political landscape. Everyone seems to have an opinion on Marx. His critics see him as an irredemable evil totalitarian thinker while his proponents see him as a modern day-prophet. After carefully scourging through popular(but not the most intellectually rigorous) conservative and right leaning criticisms of Marx,I have come to the conclusion that most people have not read Marx beyond “The Communist Manifesto”. As any Marxist thinker would tell you, “The Communist Manifesto” is the worst place to start if you want…

At Eternity’s Gate by Van Gogh

There has never been a more apt time to talk about mental health. Nothing much has changed in our discourse on mental health since the last few decades. In India, mental health continues to remain a stigma. What shocks me today is that journalists,whom one would expect to know better, are positively contributing to the perpetuation of stereotypes. “Does he look depressed?” they ask on national news programs while flashing videos of an actor who allegedly committed suicide due to mental health problems. How does a depressed person look? This is not a hard question to answer. …

In 1998, the Arabic newspaper Al-Quds-Al-Arabi published a document declaring “Jihad against Jews and Crusader”. The “fatwa” briefly listed out grievances against the United states, condemning US for “occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors, and turning its bases in the Peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples.”

These crimes were enough to declare the killings of all Americans, “civilian and military”, as the duty of every Muslim. …

I am writing this in the backdrop of a hunger strike started by the Islamic reformer Maajid Nawaz. Nawaz, a former Islamist, feels let down by his liberal counterparts for their reluctance to officially recognize the genocide of Uyghur Muslims unleashed by the authoritarian Chinese regime. What strikes me as odd is the fact that its the conservatives who are speaking out against the inhumane treatment of Uyghur Muslims by the Chinese authorities. Before grappling with this question, I’d like to summarize what’s happening in China.

Genesis of a genocide

The Uyghurs in Xinjiang have a history of resisting the Communist rule. The region…

The case of 19-year-old Amulya Leona as well as that of Safoora Zargar has reignited the debate on the right to dissent and freedom of speech in India. Leona was arrested under sedition simply for raising slogans while Zargar was arrested, without ample evidence, for inciting riots. Moreover, the Delhi police recently filed another baseless charge-sheet against the activist Harsh Mander for inciting riots. Before talking about the current scenario, it is important that we look at this issue from a historical perspective.

The many mistakes of Congress

Members from the current ruling regime in India have now cultivated a…

Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

I came across your letter to citizens of India(30/5/20)recently on your website. As you rightfully point out, your electoral win was indeed historic. The people of India trust you. Along with many citizens of this country, I’m proud to live in a country which has the democratic institutions that make it possible for a “chaiwalla”(tea-seller) to become PM.

However, my tone throughout this letter will be respectful but critical. Some would call this “the beauty of democracy”. The hon’ble Supreme Court has referred to dissent as the “safety valve of democracy”. …

A specter is haunting the world. The specter of identity politics.

In 2017, a group of Neo Nazis and white supremacists gathered in the small town of Charlottesville under the pretense of protecting confederate heritage. For them, the removal of monuments dedicated to racist slaveholders was an attack on American history itself. There were no KKK hoods this time. They didn’t hide their identity. The rise of right wing populism in the US was seen as a win for their ilk, their people. White people. The rally ended in violence as a white nationalist ideologue rammed his car over a…

In 2014, Narendra Modi managed to tap into the imagination of public by exploiting the failures of a seemingly corrupt Congress government. He promised jobs and employment. To many, his new India was one which embraced modernity. Religious rhetoric was largely absent in the 2014 campaign. Hindutva ideologues as well as centrists voted for him.

India witnessed a different Modi in the succeeding 5 years. His acolytes portrayed him as a messiah for the Hindus. The Prime Minister himself didn’t shy away from talking about contentious issues such as the Ayodhya dispute. When Mr. Modi’s government took steps such as…

Anwesh Satpathy

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