Voter in the middle: With acche din nowhere in sight, who does a moderate vote for this election?

I lost my friends on the Left when i voted for Narendra Modi in 2014. I lost my friends on the Right when i criticised Modi for demonetisation, majoritarian politics and weakened institutions.

With the election approaching, i am disillusioned. Acche din have not come but nationalism has, and the India that i love is changing. I am surrounded by Modi bhakts and Modi haters, both of whom i find mildly distasteful.

Key to China’s miracle: Nurturing talent and shunning quotas can bring prosperity and transform India

On the same day, ironically, the Rajya Sabha passed the constitutional amendment enabling the whacky 10% quota for the 'poor' in higher education and government jobs, an email arrived in my mailbox about an ongoing research project at Harvard comparing meritocracy in India and China. The Harvard project is based on the belief that the two largest and oldest societies in the world can learn from each other in managing talent despite their different political systems.

उदारवादी शिक्षा से ही मजबूत होगा लोकतंत्र

सबको समायोजित करने और सामाजिक व सांस्कृतिक विरोधाभास मिटाने वाले मध्यमार्ग का निर्माण

चुनावों की एक और शृंखला आकर चली गई, अब आम चुनाव की आहट है। किसी सर्जरी की तरह चुनाव नेताओं के दिमाग से सारे विचार निकालकर उनका फोकस आर्थिक व शासन संबंधी सुधारों के कठि न काम को भुलाकर लोकलुभावन कदमों व खैरात बांटने पर केंद्रित कर देते हैं। नतीजों ने दिखाया कि भारतीय स्वभाव से शक्की हैं और अपने नेताओं को बदलने में झिझकते नहीं। 2014 की विशाल निश्चितताओं की जगह अब 2019 के महान संदेह ने ले ली है।

A Hindu’s Reflections on Desire and the Human Condition

The beguiling world of kama, presented around the Western world's Christmastime.

"Our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness," wrote Vladimir Nabokov in the opening lines of his memoir, Speak Memory.

Nabokov believed that human beings are more afraid of the abyss after death and viewed the one before birth more calmly.

How to rescue democracy: Liberal education will teach us to do the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason

Another series of elections has come and gone. Like an imminent surgery, an election has a way of crowding out all thoughts from the mind and turning the focus of politicians to populism and free giveaways, forgetting the difficult job of economic and governance reform. The results of the latest state elections have reminded us that Indians are by nature sceptical and not shy to change their leaders. The grand certainties of 2014 have suddenly become the grand doubts of 2019.

Expatiation Riddled By A Tale

Das’s erudite treatise on the nature of desire—its opposite pulls and its shape in literature—is weakly illumined by a fictional prop with cardboard characters

The tao of desire

Channelling kama for a higher purpose

Desire is innate to human existence, and love is its prime manifestation. From sexual to asexual and from material to abstract, desire is double-edged, something that explores human strengths while simultaneously imploring its vulnerabilities. Lethal as it may seem, desire’s origin as Kama in scriptures and philosophies swings between two extremes — Vatsyayana’s sensuous poetry and Victorian middle-class morality.

Chronicles of the carnal

The newest entrant to explore the deep ocean that is desire is Gurcharan Das. With this book, he has completed the trilogy that comprises India Unbound (about worldly wealth or artha), and The Difficulty of Being (about virtue or dharma). Kama: The Riddle of Desire speaks of sensual gratification or kama and concludes the author’s tryst with the three purusarthas (the aims of a human life) that lead to the attainment of the fourth and final purusartha: Moksha (liberation).

Shades of Desire

An engaging account that goes beyond sex and sexuality to explore desire in the contemporary Indian social order

Given my feminist orientation, any book on "desire" would strike alarm bells, and when it is with reference to the Kamasutra, one may worry about the exoticisation of the erotic. Gurcharan Das's book came as a pleasant antidote to the usual commodification of women in such a text. While the Kamasutra is a running thread, Das presents its critique in terms of a modern, gender-just outlook.

The Riddle of Desire by Gurcharan Das

Sudhirendar Sharma

An exploration of desire establishes that Kama is at the very root of being human

'Memoir of passion