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Shiv Visvanathan

Shiv Visvanathan

Social scientistshiv.visvanathan@gmail.com
The writer is a social nomad

By Shiv Visvanathan

How pop culture failed us in the times of coronavirus

What sustains us as a society is four ideas or four truths. These are Bollywood, cricket, science and democracy. All four have failed us in Covid times.

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What lessons the Covid-19 pandemic has given for the future

Schools should attempt to teach futurology, bringing a new sensitivity about time, a playfulness about prediction and change, and a trusteeship for the rights of future generations.

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How Covid made digital media the new normal

The real casualty of the Covid seems to be the newspaper. A sense of tragedy is lost in the celebration of the technological.

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Covid-19 needs a better discourse

We see man as the centre and controller of the earth, without realising the earth can do without us.

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How the Covid story must be retold

The virus seems to be both a literary and scientific disaster which we need to re-read and invent in the years to come.

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What are the lessons learnt from the Scindia saga

It is not just that Scindia’s role is badly enacted but the silence of other Congress leaders is also frustrating. Even Rahul or Sonia or the CM could do with a few more lines of explanation.

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How Delhi's 'return to normalcy' after the riots is not normal

Civil society has to respond, rise to the occasion inventively and to respond to a regime that does not understand the spirit of the preamble.

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Why the act of citizenship is political and creative

Democracy as protest creates ambush and lethal surprises which warns regimes that democracy never lets politics to be taken for granted.

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Lessons Shaheen Bagh can teach us

The protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act ambushed the government and surprised India.

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Decency in protests has trumped the parochialism of the Modi regime

It is a time where the government that has been pontificating for years, gets a lesson in politics. For all its brutality, the government is speechless.

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As Modi magic fades, it is time to heed to young voices on CAA

A new generation of student leaders objected to the exclusion of Muslims from the CAA. They were a new citizenry showing empathy and cosmopolitanism that the BJP does not comprehend.

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Why a second look at science is needed to understand politics

Many scientists do not equate scientific concern with national interest.

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How SC has taken a new approach to RTI

In accepting to be under RTI, the court is virtually telling the citizen, RTI brings along with it the burden of citizenship as interpretation.

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On 'yuva' netas from old clans

The BJP targeted Rahul Gandhi as a symptom of dynastic politics, but it has little to say about the Chautalas, the Pawars or the Reddys.

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How Mahatma Gandhi can still show the way

Once Gandhi is read as a scientist who used his body as an eternal test tube, the idea of satyagraha acquires a different kind of vitality.

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The threat to autonomy

One senses that irony and authoritarianism go hand in hand. It is a story to be recounted years from now as part of the anecdotes of authoritarianism.

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Before mob violence becomes populist rhetoric: Individualize Tabrez’s story, do not just reduce him to a statistic

Tabrez is much more than a statistic of mob lynching. We need to individualize his story, go into each detail of the incident and hold the perpetrators responsible.

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The other side of the coin: This is how the liberals reacted to Narendra Modi’s victory in the 2019 General Elections

Several people have been making a mockery out of the way liberals reacted to Modi’s victory. Much of it is based on how the media covered it.

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Post Pulwama: What India can learn from the terrorist attack

Any idea of India must contain its sense of China and Pakistan. Only with such a scenario can we survive in peace and confidence.

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Why Virat Kohli is fantastic, but won't reach the heights of Pataudi, or Dravid

Kohli's aggression, competence never quite conveys the sense of sportsmanship that Dravid communicates.

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Understanding the issues that electoral politics ignores

The dynamics of politics controlled by the media and party have little space for issues which take time and have complex narratives.

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Searching for Utopia: Why it's not wise to copy China

The need of the hour is to return to the fundamentals, not fundamentalism.

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How to read a novel, a poem and a judgment: Yes, we need to learn the art of reading all over again

Few have read classics beyond the compulsory reading at schools. Almost none can recite a major poem or quote from a classic play.

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The danger of anniversary: Why I hope the 150th anniversary of Mahatma won't be marred by insane ritual

We owe to his memory not rote repetition but inventiveness because Gandhi was one of the great inventors of the century.

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Why the coastlines in India need a Gandhi to fight for their 'swaraj'

A walk along a Chennai beach made me realise that the sea is not a resource, it is a way of life.

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No more cosmetic rebuilding: What India needs to do after the Kerala floods

As the waters recede and the reality of reconstruction dawns, quick solutions need to be avoided.

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India at 71: The idea of independence

It is not merely individual choice, but the availability of plural worlds and alternatives.

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Why the new identity politics of nationalism hates the outsider

At one time, the country had the folklore, the myths, of coping with the outsider. Our culture was open and plural, but today he is seen as a threat.

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An ode to my teachers whose lectures had to be listened to, not downloaded

My college students do not know how to read a book. They insist on a summary or ask for power points.

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Why our sense of citizenship is so snobbish and narrow

After many a riot, the Muslim as citizen is still atoning for the alleged sins of his ancestors.

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