Shiv Visvanathan


Shiv Visvanathan

Globalisation of evil

Every man becomes a bit philosophical as he grows older, or when he reads his favourite newspaper. Old age gives you a sense of the gradients of time, allows you to look at events in history, in terms of cycles.

3 fables & a moral

Education is a social drama that expresses many of the tensions in our society. Unfortunately, it polarises many of these battles into either-or situations without realising that many of these oppositions are invitations for negotiation. The system turns the battles between excellence-relevance, mobility-justice, growth-diversity, centralisation-decentralisation

A nation with a guilty conscience

As a child, I lived in a world where computers were not taken for granted. The toys ranged from the Meccano set to the kaleidoscope. They were toys, they were tools, they were metaphors. The Meccano taught you that building was a concept with which you could construct a house and also a cosmos. The kaleidoscope gave you a playful sense of patterns and provided hours of entertainment.

Death by arrogance

There is something knee jerk about the debates around any major event in India. If the country loses in cricket, obituaries litter the way. The same goes for elections. When the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) lost in West Bengal, post-mortems were a dime a dozen. This prompted protests from leading scholars and activists, claiming the Left was alive and well.

Tragedy in 3 acts

Politics in India has been the major sport, far more demanding than cricket, much more entertaining than Bollywood. There is an openness to it and it produces the same string of surprises as a Twenty20 match. Yet, politics at the ground level, the nature of the political machine, the rise of new constituencies, and the power of local bosses never gets reflected on television.

Magic of dissent

The Anna Hazare demonstration shows that political protest in India has become fairly predictable. The logic follows the standard scenarios where either a group of rebels protest against those in power or a group of citizens protest about a delay in reform. Such forms of protest do not question the system.

Fading memory of nationalism

One of the intriguing themes the Anna Hazare’s fast threw up was the question of memory, particularly the memory of nationalism. As one activist explained, he had read about Rajguru and Bhagat Singh while studying for his exam. But it was only now they rang true.

Life in the middle order

Cricket has become one of the greatest soap operas of our time. A soap opera has three qualities. Firstly, it has a stock of memorable and identifiable characters. Secondly, it creates a corpus of conventional values and vices and then summons melodrama as the mode of resolution. Without a sense of epic battle, a dose of hysteria and a touch of climax, week after durable week, a soap opera as an epic cannot survive.
The World Cup was high excitement but what was more moving and sociologically interesting was the aftermath.

Modi-fication of Gujarat

The WikiLeaks have been a source of embarrassment, irony and scandal to those in power. The Congress has been working overtime protesting its innocence. More than the Congress, it is Indian democracy that looks silly and vulnerable, tainted by scandals which look almost too crude for belief. Standing tall in the middle of all of them is a surprising figure. Narendra Modi, long the bad boy of Human Rights, unexpectedly scores high as an “incorruptible”.
Mr Modi’s reception of the WikiLeaks report is also interesting.

Desi colours of corruption

I always felt that the word corruption needed a dictionary of words, a thesaurus of local terms and a contour map to show the changing nature of territory. We take for granted what we mean by corruption, rendering uniform the spaces in which it occurs.

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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.

Shekhar Kapur’s Bandit Queen didn’t make the cut. Neither did Shaji Karun’s Piravi, which bagged 31 international awards.