Is the Big Fat Indian Wedding More Vulgar than You?

A slew of extravagant weddings has repulsed middle-class Indians, even though they may not be from the South. Too golden, too grand, too garish, they complained. How can you spend so much money when there is “agrarian distress”? The urban middle-class does not employ the poor merely to cook for them, drive them, and walk […]

How Boy Gets Girl: Love and the advantages of being ordinary

The hero of the Hindi film, ‘Badrinath Ki Dulhania’ is a young man who does not know what compound interest is. In fact, he does not know what simple interest is. Even though his father owns a car dealership, where he works, he is unaware that ABS stands for anti-lock braking system. All of the world’s acronyms or abbreviations are unfamiliar to him. He looks like the sort of […]

Decisions are Made Alone

One way to irritate writers is to ask them what they are working on next. But somehow I heard myself ask this in an airport lounge when I bumped into a British historian, even though I liked him. He looked pained, but that was only because he wanted to answer the question earnestly, and it […]

How the Poor Shape India

Was there ever a possibility that the first thing Narendra Modi would do after taking office again as Prime Minister was declare that his government would make air-conditioning a fundamental right?  It may not have moved most Indians even though it has been a scorching summer. Most of India is hot most of the year, […]

A Theory About Why the BJP Didn’t Do Well

A few days ago in my colony, I overheard a quarrel between a man who lived in a villa, like me, and a gardener. The master wanted some additional work to be done, and the gardener said that would cost him a few hundred rupees more. It must have been the morning cortisol or nationalism, […]

The Consequences of Arresting Kejriwal

(This column first appeared in The Mint on March 24, 2024) There might be some people who think like this: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is an independent investigative body that has gone after some key people in the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) purely to rid the nation of corruption. But I personally do not know […]

Intellectual Pursuit is the Best Luxury Product

Once, I was in a bus with a former nun. She had recently quit a convent. Now nobody could stop her from having fun, even in a bus. She started clapping and singing, and tried to get everyone else on the bus to join her. She also yelled at passersby on the road. This is […]

Is There Magic?

Philosophy might be a question asked too early in the life of a science. But some questions, even though they are yet to be settled by science, have become too simple. And an odd quality of the Western intellectual world is that its giants take such dim questions seriously. It is as though the social […]

Why Good Things Happen

Sam Pitroda was one of the most famous men in India in the 1980s. As the seer of Indian telecom, he was responsible for millions of long-distance calls by Indians getting through. With that French beard and words that a man with a French beard is expected to say, he looked like a man who […]

The Low-Stakes Compassion of College Students

Hamas has the most sophisticated defence system. It uses Palestinian civilians as shield. It wants many of them to die. David Brooks, in his column in the New York Times, wrote, “Hamas’s survival depends on support in the court of international opinion.” This was always the strategy of Hamas. If terrorists have powerful uses for […]

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