Swapan Dasgupta


Swapan Dasgupta is a senior journalist

The accidental revelation

Sanjaya Baru’s account of the four years he spent as media adviser to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has, quite predictably, triggered a political storm. Part of the reason lies in the fact that The Accidental Prime Minister hit the stands in the middle of a spirited election campaign and became a talking point for politicians and the media.

A mighty fall from a moral high ground

No election, and certainly not an Indian election, is ever won on the strength of diplomatic despatches. Like most other pundits in the forecasting business, diplomats often get it right and occasionally wrong.

Past forward

In the eight terms I spent in Oxford in the early 1980s, I developed a slight distaste for Neville Maxwell, then a fellow at the Queen Elizabeth House. Differences over perceptions of Indian politics owed very little to the incompatibility. I saw Maxwell as a man whose understanding of contemporary India was caught in a time warp.

Take offence

There are many Indians who take every word written or said about the country in media overseas a shade too seriously. The same lot that peers at the global media through a microscope is equally inclined to treat every positive remark as a testimonial and every unfavourable review as a conspiracy of hate.

A nuts & bolts race

Opinion polls in India, quite understandably, have a very mixed record. Part of the unevenness stems from the cost factor: it is hideously expensive to conduct an opinion poll with a truly randomised and yet socially representative sample.

A nuts & bolts race

Opinion polls in India, quite understandably, have a very mixed record.

The Loser’s Front

The term “Third Front” has been so discredited and arouses so much fear among those who have a stake in the future of India that even its most avowed protagonists are loath to use it in a public forum.

The papier-mache mahatma

On December 23, 1987, incensed by the Faizabad district order to open the locks of the disputed shrine in Ayodhya, Syed Shahabuddin and the newly-formed All-India Babri Masjid Conference gave a call t

The man who quit before his last day

In normal circumstances the announcement of a sitting Prime Minister, especially someone who has served two full terms, to not seek re-election should have occasioned both a stir and feverish speculat

The Christmas Clubs of Kolkata

For a very long time — indeed, till I was well into my 20s — I was fanatical in my insistence that Burra Din, the way we natives used to refer to the festival the burra sahibs called Christmas, was best spent in the city we knew as Calcutta.

Little Laila was taught that God creates everyone and also leads everyone back to Godself after death. So, she prayed: “Dear God, instead of letting people die and having to make new ones, why don’t you just keep the ones you got now?” Laila’s prayer may never be answered; but, Easter does assure us that life, not death, is what we’re created for.

Of late, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has been thoughtlessly and in a hurry jumping into every available situation, without verifying basic facts, to criticise the Bharatiya Janata Party.