Sunanda K. Datta-Ray

Sunanda Datta.jpg

The return of the veil

Anewspaper picture of Mrs Sonia Gandhi talking to a victim of the Assam riots intrigued me. The victim, presumably a Bengali-speaking Muslim or Assamese, wore a salwar-kameez with a dupatta across her chest. In contrast, Mrs Gandhi had draped herself in a sari. You might say she is never seen in anything else.

Enclaves of the mind

The violence in Assam was subsiding though the devastation remained when the tale of Saadat Hasan Manto, the picaresque Pakistani writer whose birth centenary is being celebrated this year, reminded me of another Muslim intellectual who is in every way his opposite.

Pranabda’s careful tread to Raisina Hill

There was none of the confusion of Sharad Pawar being seated next to the Prime Minister one day and finding A.K. Antony in his chair the next in Indira Gandhi’s time.

India’s other red light district

What do Sonia Gandhi, Singapo-re’s Lee Kuan Yew and Ashok Mitra, the economist who was West Bengal’s finance minister for a whole decade (1977 to 1987) have in common? For not very dissimilar reasons, all three are averse to flashing red lights on cars. The difference is that what Mrs Gandhi and Mr Lee advise on grounds of astute policy, Mr Mitra, ever the Communist who refuses to be called a gentleman, advocates for reasons of lost idealism.

Silk route to Northeast

My Nor-theastern frien-ds must be laughing up their sleeves. Dismissed as “chinks” in Indian universities, beaten up or even murdered in some cities, arrested as Tibetan protesters in Delhi and required to prove their citizenship at airports and hotels (Mumbai’s Taj Mahal once demanded that a former chief minister of Nagaland, Hokishe Sema, produce his passport), they have suddenly become the flavour of the month, thanks to two outstanding women.

Press, power and politics

The octogenarian Narayan Dutt Tiwari excites sympathy. Not because he is accused of denying paternity (which may or may not be true), but because he can expect no respite from the media.

Perception & prejudice

If you thought religious bigotry was an exclusively South Asian phenomenon, you should come to supposedly pragmatic Southeast Asia, where I am writing this.

Fascism on a plate

The controversy over beef — more social and political than religious — recalls a lunch in a chinese restaurant in Dhaka hosted by a distinguished Bangladeshi bureaucrat. As he pored over the menu murmuring “What can we order for you…” I realised what bothered him. Beef posed no problem for me, I explained.

Primary concerns

The Supreme court’s support for the Right of children to Free and compulsory Education Act 2009, or Right to Education (RTE) was only to be expected.

Sir, I refuse to retire

Old soldiers never die, but unlike the lines of the ballad, they don’t just fade away either. Many of them do a brisk trade in lucratively selling their connections.

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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.