ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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On Introducing Ambedkar

For an act of representation by savarnas to seem fair and unremarkable to dalits, we need to have achieved a society in which to be a dalit is not a stigma, and to be a savarna is not a marker of superior status. Until that day arrives in India, the dalit objection to B R Ambedkar's Annihilation of Caste being introduced and annotated by savarnas will remain a worthy objection.

The Substance of Style

In the context of the Ashis Nandy affair, this brief essay speculates on the literal-mindedness and supposed inability of India's lower classes to appreciate the nuanced defence of their corruption as well as what it says about the public sphere in contemporary India. This affair holds up a mirror to who we are, and the picture may not be to our liking.

A Bipartisan Plutocracy

United States President Barack Obama has completed two years in office and it seems that he is more interested in not ending up as a one-term president. Playing safe and kowtowing to the demands of corporate and financial lobbyists may assure Obama a second term - but it leaves his agenda, its promise of a society that was fairer to the poor and asked more of the rich, largely unimplemented.

President Obama

We should in the first place celebrate the extraordinary improbability and incredible beauty of Barack Hussein Obama's victory in the presidential elections of the United States. It required the worst financial crisis in a century, eight years of the most inept presidency in its history, two costly and ineffectual wars, and an opponent seemingly trapped in a time-warp, for the American public to finally accede to sending a black man to the White House. Even as the world celebrates Obama's victory, it should remember how more than 20 years ago another African-American - Jesse Jackson - ran twice for president and garnered substantial support for a progressive agenda that Obama has had to sacrifice on the altar of pragmatism.

Elephant in the Room

The elephant in the room in the campaign for the US presidential elections remains the "race" factor which no one wishes to acknowledge. Barack Obama, as an Afro-American, has to perform according to far higher standards than a candidate from the mainstream. Obama has to come across as calm, rational and anything but angry as that would be disastrous for a black candidate. Many sections in the US still see a black man asserting himself as "uppity".

Too Close to Call? Maybe Not

With two months to go for the presidential elections in the United States, the race to the presidency appears to be a very close one, akin to the last two elections in 2000 and 2004. The puzzle is why, in spite of president George Bush's unpopularity, Barack Obama does not have a major lead over John McCain. The country may not yet be ready for a black president, and the Republicans are more than likely to sell the message that "he is not one of us". And perhaps the centre of gravity of the electorate has shifted to the right, making it extremely difficult for Democrats to break the Republican stranglehold over the presidency.

Black Man/White House

Barack Obama's presidential campaign has caught the imagination of large sections of the United States citizenry. Yet, the irony is that if Obama does become president, the ascendancy of a black man to the White House will have a more symbolic than real value.

Obama, Charisma, America, Utopia

A young, telegenic, black junior senator, Barack Hussein Obama, is the undeclared favourite for the Democratic Party's nomination for the 2008 presidential elections in the US. The appeal of Obama tells us a lot more about US society than about the senator's politics.

The Bomb, Biography and the Indian Middle Class

The Indian middle class often sees itself as living amongst, but not living with the majority of its fellow citizens. Through a close reading of the autobiography of the late nuclear scientist Raja Ramanna, this article argues that one of the existential realities of being a middle class Indian is an inescapable desire to escape the rest of India.
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