Shiv Visvanathan

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Shiv Visvanathan

A case for dying

One of the most fascinating things about the 21st century is what I call the return of the body to the centrality of things. The body has become the site for all the major dramas — philosophical, political and ethical.

Science and responsibility

One of the most fascinating things about science is that it can no longer be seen as the thing under a lens. Science has become kaleidoscopic meaning many different things to many people.

Why we need AAP

One of the most difficult things to write about after the current elections is the fate of the Aam Aadmi Party. The AAP was many things to many people and yet to all of them it represented a sense of hope, the optimism of a new politics.

The politics of the inauguration

Inaugural rituals like swearing-in ceremonies have a power of their own. They create spaces, hierarchies, transitions, new pecking orders. They erase history to create history. One witnessed all this in the oath taking ceremony of Narendra Modi and his Cabinet.

In exile, programme a sleek Congress 2.0

I often think of political parties as a different species, as forms of life which add to the diversity of the cultural landscape. In fact, I feel diversity in politics is as important as diversity in language or nature. To watch the decline of a party can be a tragic experience.

Epidemic of hysteria

Elections provide moments of ambush that become moments of surprise. At one moment, a person stands with all his categories intact and in a split second something changes. Such an event happened on Wednesday in Hyderabad.
A crowd of about 900 odd people was waiting patiently.

Fable for democracy

One of the eeriest ironic stories I have read recently is by the Portuguese novelist, Jose Saramango. The novel, titled Seeing is a story of an unnamed country which decides to hold an election.

Gandhi, between hate & cliché

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.

The joys of being ‘third class’

Modern theories of efficiency and equality are such that one loses a celebration of the marginal. Ever since socialism, we have removed the category called “third class” from our trains and our lives. As an upwardly mobile nation, we want to travel first class and as a truly global country we want our institutions to be world class. Our presidents and vice-chancellors were upset when they realised that our IITs and IIMs are not world class.

The Babri memory

Babri Masjid is today a photo-montage of images, with each image capturing one angle of a strange and kaleidoscopic event. Babri is also a failure of storytelling because each separate story demands a different sense of ending, and a different idea of consequences.

Despite being a hack for more than three decades, I am yet to be invited for any political iftar party. Thereby, no one can accuse me of holding a grouse against any leader for not marking an invite to me. Throughout his 13 years as the chief minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi never hosted one, breaking a tradition that his predecessor Keshubhai Patel followed.

Rarely in a diplomat’s career is one lucky enough to have a posting that is important and interesting, combining the elements of classic diplomacy with the new tools of development diplomacy, new media and social networks. Israel and India established full diplomatic relations just 22 years ago during the time of P.V. Narasimha Rao.