Swapan Dasgupta


Swapan Dasgupta is a senior journalist

Which way will the President swing?

The victory of Pranab Mukherjee in last Sunday’s presidential election has triggered a bout of speculation over how he will handle his new responsibilities. Unlike the distant past when the occupant of Rashtrapati Bhavan was condemned to a largely ceremonial role owing to the presence of a strong Prime Minister with a commanding majority in Parliament, there is intense interest about how the President will conduct himself in the event no single party or pre-election formation secures a majority in the next general election.

The lost art of governance

Union law minister Salman Khurshid’s apparent exasperation with Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi for the latter’s failure to undertake his responsibilities as the de facto Number Two became a talking point in political circles this week.

The war of poses

In the world of Punjabi humour, Natthu Singh and Prem Singh may well be the same thing (or Singh), but it was a cruel joke that Islamabad inflicted last Tuesday night when it clarified that Sarabjit Singh had in fact been mistaken for Surjeet Singh.

Prisoners of Xanadu

Among the more curious features of public life in this country is the disinclination of subordinates to pass on bad news to the boss.

I like my cricket shaken and stirred

Curmudgeonly” is a tongue-twister that, ideally, I would rather not use. However, I can think of no better and appropriate expression to describe the reactions of a Communist MP from West Bengal to the boisterous celebrations in Kolkata last Tuesday when the Kolkata Knight Riders and Shah Rukh Khan came “home” with the IPL trophy.

Didi vs bhadralok

Last Sunday, Mamata Banerjee celebrated the first anniversary of Trinamul Congress’ victory and the Left Front’s defeat in Assembly elections in inimitable style: by organising a large padayatra.

A mouthful of controversies

The inclination to be wilfully outrageous and even iconoclastic in a bid to challenge orthodoxies is a part of growing up. To that extent, it is possible to avoid getting too worked up at the so-called Beef Festival that was recently organised by some students and politically-inclined staff at Hyderabad’s Osmania University. Although the move was calculated to be provocative, it is fortuitous that the carnivorous festival passed off with only a localised tremor. Puerile expressions of bravado often have the potential of triggering large-scale disturbances. Many of the vicious communal riots in post-Independence India have their origins in seemingly innocuous affronts such as the sprinkling of coloured water during Holi.

Mamata goes the Leftist way

There are few politicians who have made the journey from the sublime to the ridiculous in so short a time as West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee.

The man who kicked the hornets’ nest

There are two terms that keep recurring in the chatter over the drama surrounding the recent actions of Army Chief Gen. V.K. Singh: “sadness” and “concern” verging on “anger”.

Foreign affairs gone local

Earlier this month, New Delhi witnessed the release of a quasi-official report entitled “Non-Alignment 2.0”. The report attempted to set out the broad contours of a foreign policy doctrine that would indicate carrying forward the contested legacy of Jawaharlal Nehru and, for good measure, his foremost gladiator V.K. Krishna Menon.
Regardless of the understandable wariness of some members of the committee to be typecast and slotted into a compartment, the driving force behind Non-Alignment 2.0 was explicitly political. First, it was aimed as a soft answer to those, notably in the Congress and Left parties, who have aired their misgivings of a definite pro-US tilt in foreign policy. Second — and this is being spoken of openly by members of India’s rarefied “strategic community” — Non-Alignment 2.0 is said to provide an intellectual foundation for a post-Manmohan Singh approach to foreign policy by the Congress establishment.

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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.