Swapan Dasgupta


Swapan Dasgupta is a senior journalist

Protests fail, politics wins

The only talking point the Congress had after its ignominious performance in the Hisar parliamentary byelection was that the last minute campaign by Anna Hazare’s followers contributed little to the final outcome. For all its national impact during Mr Hazare’s fast in August, the India against Corruption’s ability to influence electoral politics still remains untested — the movement curiously desisted from directly intervening in the byelection to the Khadakwasla Assembly constituency in Maharashtra. Consequently, the only definite conclusion that can be drawn from the Congress’ spate of byelection debacles is that anti-incumbency has benefited the principal anti-Congress parties.

A look down un

It is ironic that the spate of “race attacks” on Indian students in Melbourne and Victoria province in 2009-10 and the extremely shrill coverage of the phenomenon by the media in Indi

A foreign complex

There is something unique and peculiar, my casual observations tell me, about many immigrants to the West from India: they are very easily intimidated by their children. The children, who were either born or grew up in the West, speak English as the locals do, share the social assumptions of their school friends and neighbours, and have only the haziest appreciation of what their parents are all about. There are times when the mismatch of the generations provokes clashes and triggers domestic unhappiness.
However, apart from Muslim communities where social attitudes are more rigidly imposed, most middle class and professional Indians prefer the line of least resistance. They swallow their pride, keep aside their own sense of right and wrong and wilt before their culturally different children.

9/11: Bin Laden, dead and smiling?

It is extremely unlikely that the six Serbian nationalists who pumped bullets into Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, were even remotely mindful that their adventurism would trigger a horrible World War that would last for 51 months and change the face of Europe, almost

The disinherited

An unintended consequence of the Ayodhya movement was that it improved middle-class India’s knowledge of German history. For a decade, intellectuals horrified by the phenomenal Hindu mobilisation for a Ram temple in Ayodhya drew analogies with the rise of fascism in Germany in the 1930s.

Bluster and beyond

Those who followed last Tuesday’s debates on the ongoing Commonwealth Games controversy were near-unanimous on one point: it was a one-sided slaughter of the government. Facing a privilege motion, sports minister Ajay Maken may have been nominally in the dock but it was the Manmohan Singh government that was on trial. With the erudition that comes naturally to an accomplished lawyer blessed with a strong case, leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley raised the debate to dizzying heights in the Rajya Sabha.

Blame all, blame none

It is both bizarre and a sad commentary on national life that the gruesome massacre of over 90 people in Norway should have produced political ripples in faraway India. On the face of it, there is absolutely nothing to link the deranged Anders Behring Breivik, the self-professed Justiciar Knight of the Knights Templar, to India.

War is weary of Kabul

Over the centuries, Britons have acquired the ability to laugh at themselves — particularly when the going gets rough. When he was the British foreign secretary’s special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Sherard Cowper-Coles had an enlarged cartoon hung in his office. It showed an elderly man, just out of bed and drawing the curtains to let the light in while his wife looks on with her cup of morning tea.

Comrade, head or tail?

The recent talk of a happy reconciliation between the Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) after some 47 years fills me with perverse nostalgia.
Many years ago, when rents were still affordable for small businesses in Central London, Charing Cross Road used to boast a quaint Left-wing bookshop called Collets.

Line of engagement

For the past few months — even before the Abbottabad operation, the Mehran attack and the testimony of David Coleman Headley in a Chicago court — there has been mounting international concern over the state of Pakistan. The tendency of the Pakistan establishment to “look both ways” on terrorism was always a perennial source of worry.

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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.