Month: May 2012

  • Speaking Volumes: The case for context

    (Published in the Business Standard, May 22, 2012) (Three cartoons by Shankar. Note the way in which he uses whips and ropes to make his point in three completely different political contexts.)It is unreasonable to expect the Dalit community to not take offence at the cartoon of Dr BR Ambedkar, drawn by the great cartoonist […]

  • User’s guide to Indian free speech

    A list of controversial subjects Indians shouldn’t write about if they want to avoid giving offence (and going to jail)1) Dr Ambedkar, Mamata Banerjee, Bal Thackeray2) Dead politicians 3) Living politicians4) Mahatma Gandhi5) And his sex life6) Rama, Sita, Ramayanas, Ramanujan7) Just kidding. You can write about Ramanujan.8) Hindu gods and goddesses9) The Prophet and […]

  • Ctrl-Alt-Del: On being our own censors

    It is always tempting to blame politicians for the sorry state of things, partly because a) that’s what they’re there for and b) it’s often their fault. But in the case of two recent controversies over cartoons—the Ambedkar cartoon controversy, and Mamata Banerjee’s persecution of a professor for circulating cartoons depicting the West Bengal Chief […]

  • Speaking Volumes: The Bunderful Mr Lear

    “What to do, my Dear Fortescue, when I return to England!!??.” At 36, Edward Lear had both of the qualities that make an artist an excellent traveler—an ability to feel at home anywhere, even in Devonshire (“Lord! How it rains!”), and an insatiable curiosity about other places. “The more I read travels the more I […]

  • What I learned from "The Patriarchy"

    (Note: This blog doesn’t do autobiographical posts as a rule, but perhaps this post could be considered a response to an ongoing conversation, the one started by Saba Dewan on Kafila.) Reading Saba Dewan’s post, on patriarchy and St Stephen’s, was a release. For years, I had struggled to make sense of two contradictory things—my […]

  • Divide-and-rule: the DRM effect

    (Published in the Business Standard, May 2012) A ferry crossing on a quiet Goan river is the perfect time to contemplate the advantages and disadvantages of ebooks for an Indian reader. The advantages rest in my backpack, where the twenty or so books on the week’s reading list reside in my Kindle, part of a […]