Liberalism in India – A historical perspective

Map of India. Most of India is yellow (elevation 100–1000 m). Some areas in the south and mid-east are brown (above 1000 m). Major river valleys are green (below 100 m).

India has never been more ‘nationalistic’ in recent history. With the wave of elections and the upcoming big one in 2019, it is even more obvious that a string of jingoistic messages are being floated. In equal measure though, is the ‘liberal’ front of things questioning ideologies and far standing traditions. The term ‘liberal’ is a more recent concept in the history of time (earliest references are 17th century) wherein freedom of religion, a general acceptance of free thinking, open and transparent society are fundamental tenets. Traditionally India has been a unitized fabric of rulers and the ruled; and religion has been inseparable, as it is today. Mighty kings fought and expanded their vast empires stretching all the way from Afghanistan to parts of present day Burma even. Up until the 10th century, predominantly, three religions were practised: Hinduism, Buddhism & Jainism.  I shall not get into the Aryan-Dravidian divide and shall discuss India as it stands. Let us start from the time when a coherent system of barter, metallurgy, pottery, politics, warfare and agriculture was developed. Religion and state were never separated and yet society prospered at various times and at other times there were setbacks. How has the country fared from the view of the modern ‘liberal’ tag during several phases of her existence?

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Doing things solo as a woman in India – Why the prejudice?

SONY DSCThat India is quite diverse is a known fact and with its diversity comes ample opportunities for the curious traveller. I travel solo a lot, either on vacation or on work. Occasionally I extend my work in a new city to a mini vacation by taking time off. It is during my slow travels that I think of some things back home and I wonder if the sense of freedom I seek is available to me in its true sense.

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On Man-Animal conflict

Two elephants, set ablaze by a mob, cross the road to fleeI came across the news report of this award winning photograph today and it pained me immensely to see that conflict between these gentle giants and humans continue in India. Just look at the little calf being burnt, clearly he is shouting. How can one’s heart not cry? We adore the elephant to such an extent that we worship them, heck, one of our beloved Gods has an elephant head and yet these values don’t seem to come forth when survival with the pachyderms is in question.

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Fall back on fall

71971_491080770049_662125049_7503267_42071_nIts raining in South India now. I am seated by my window with a piping cup of local chai, watching the rain pattering on the glass. Its a beautiful feeling. I still have a few books to read and there’s nothing that can beat the beautiful combination of hot masala chai, a great book in hand and the monsoon. The swell of the ocean brings about a now familiar November and December as the North-East Monsoon sets in.

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Maugham, Brunton, Hesse – the common link?

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When I first read Somerset Maugham’s book ‘The Razor’s Edge’ almost a decade ago, I recall to have been quite affected by it. I was perhaps enchanted by the rich prose and the style of writing. Over these years I have read a lot of books but some characters have just managed to stay in my mind, like Larry in Maugham’s book. In this era when it so much easier to purchase a book online, I decided to test how much of a hold this book would have now and I must admit that this time, it has been an overwhelming experience to read the book for reasons beyond the literature aspects.

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