Swapan Dasgupta


Swapan Dasgupta is a senior journalist

Talk straight, or don’t talk at all

Engaging-with-Pakistan has been one of Delhi’s big growth industries over the past 15 years. Apart from domestic investment (both from the public and private sectors), it has attracted generous quantities of foreign direct investment, despite not having much to show by way of tangible returns.

The Modi narrative

It is amusing to witness the alacrity with which many English-language publications in India are fast turning themselves into a dumping ground of term papers of American universities. From wide-eyed doctoral candidates to lesser-known expatriate academics, there is an unseemly rush to pronounce judgment on facets of Indian public life.

For West, Rajapaksa is Sri Lanka’s Modi

It is a measure of Sri Lanka’s return to “normal” democratic politics that conspiracy theories are once again resonating in Colombo.

Soporific speech, sensible Budget

If finance minister Arun Jaitley’s Budget speech was as crisp and focused as his post-Budget interview to Doordarshan, it is almost certain that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s many supporters and well-wishers would have had an extra bounce in their steps.

Inaccessible India!

Last week, around the time of the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s grand, if rather imperial, visit to Britain, there was a flurry of activity in Whitehall and in the business-support bodies of the United Kingdom over the falling number of tourists from China.

Let’s switch off I&B

It is a sign of the times that there is as much news generated by a casual perusal of Twitter as by reporters braving the Indian summer to gather “human interest” tales from ordinary citizens. There is a place for both “high” politics and stories of ordinary folk and it is reassuring that social media has at least broken the editorial guilds that determined the collection and dissemination of political news.

The Irani crisis

A few years ago, I was on a TV panel that was discussing — if my memory serves me right — the relevance of Jawaharlal Nehru’s foreign policy tenets in the India of the 21st century.

The vote is for impatient reform, not identity politics

At a TV discussion on the findings of the CSDS-Lokniti exit poll, I expressed my scepticism of using the findings to make seat projections. The reasons were two-fold.

Modi and Muslims: The gulf must narrow

There are not too many certitudes in this election — the “obvious” is invariably a post-facto discovery. However, amid all the chatter about the youth vote, the aspirational classes and the relative importance or unimportance of caste, there is near unanimity on one count: the Muslim community, with some exceptions, will not be voting for Narendra Modi to become Prime Minister of India.

A week is a long time in politics

Success and failure often depend as much as what one side does right — both tactically and striking the right notes — as what the other side does wrong. In the three weeks since he was anointed the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate, a move that set the terms for the 2014 general election, Narendra Modi may, arguably, have faltered twice, and both times at his mega-rally in Delhi on September 29.

With the foreign secretary level talks between India and Pakistan being iced due to the meeting between Kashmiri separatists and the Pakistani high commissioner, it may be worth recalling an episode from contemporaneous history.

As the old saying goes, “Can you say ‘boo’ to a goose?” Well, in India, we don’t waste our precious time booing geese. We reserve our boos for chief ministers. Each time the Prime Minister steps out to attend important functions in states that are still hanging on to their own non-BJP leaders (with time bombs ticking away), the crowds make sure nobody but Narendra Modi is heard.