2011

NO MOUSTACHES IN TAHRIR SQUARE

Clockwise from left: A group of believers remembering a fallen comrade at Tahrir Square; The wall of infamy: cataloguing police brutality; Iced drinks

No one predicted in 1989 that when a large East German crowd would turn up at the Berlin Wall, nervous border guards, who would have shot them a week ago, would instead open the gates. In 2011, no one predicted when the year began, that the story that would change the world would be Tahrir […..]

BANGLADESH AND THE ’71 END-GAME

Bangladeshis celebrate their 40th Victory Day anniversary in Dhaka

It must count as one of the most memorable messages ever to finish a war. As he entered Dhaka on the morning of 16 December 1971, Major General Gandharv Nagra sent his ADC with the adjutant of the 2nd Paras, the first Indian battalion to have reached the city, to the Cantonment with a truce […..]

CAN’T BAT, CAN’T BOWL, CAN’T FIELD

sonia-mms-pranab

The best way to describe the current state of the Manmohan Singh government is the way the journalist Martin Johnson analysed the England cricket team of 1986, as it headed into a gruelling Ashes series after straight losses to India, New Zealand and the West Indies. “There are only three things wrong with the English […..]

BACK TO THE 1990s

Mamata Bannerjee

In 1996, when there were still considerable fears about the future of economic reform and western investors were flocking to management gurus to brush up on the basics of India, the Wall Street Journal quoted an Indian marketing expert instructing potential investors with a simple dictum. “Repeat after me,” he would go. “India is different, […..]

THE DIMINISHING OF RAHUL GANDHI

In October 2009, Open magazine ran a cover story with the title ‘Will the Congress rule for the next 20 years?’ The Congress had just won three state elections soon after its Lok Sabha triumph, the Opposition was still in disarray, Manmohan Singh seemed like a man in charge, Sonia Gandhi confident and Rahul Gandhi […..]

THE MOB AND THE CAMERA

A couple of days ago, a prominent TV anchor, not associated with the Anna protest coverage, posted sardonically on his Facebook wall that he wanted to go on a fast against TV. He may have been only half-serious but his page was quickly flooded with ‘likes’ and supportive messages, most of them from cynical TV […..]

THE GAMES OF GLOATING

Back in the 1970s, Willie Whitelow, who later became Margaret Thatcher’s deputy prime minister, famously responded to a crisis in the then Labour government by tut-tutting to reporters: “Mustn’t gloat, wrong to gloat, mustn’t do it, no, no, no. Well, I can tell you, I am gloating like hell.” The parliamentary debate on the Commonwealth […..]