More Hindu Right Groups, Polarising With Impunity: How Communal Tensions Intensified in Khargone
On April 10, violence engulfed the small town of Khargone. While the town was celebrating Ram Navami, a rumour spread that the police had stopped a religious procession near the local Jama Masjid. In response, a second procession moved down the same path. More militant, it aired provocative songs and slogans, and even pulled along… Continue reading
Finance Firm Buying Public Sector Central Electronics Ltd. for Cheap Has Links to BJP Leaders
The divestment saga of Central Electronics (CEL) deserves more attention than it is getting. The broad details are well known enough. The public sector undertaking (PSU), founded in 1974 to commercially exploit technologies developed by national laboratories and indigenous R&D institutions, briefly hit the headlines last November when the Narendra Modi government announced its sale… Continue reading
The slab that fell (and the story it told)
Black of grackles glints purple as, wheeling in sun-glare, The flock splays away to pepper the blueness of distance. Soon they are lost in the tracklessness of air. I watch them go. I stand in my trance. Another year gone… Am reminded, all of a sudden, of this poem by Robert Penn Warren. 2021 is… Continue reading
Why Did India Need a Fresh Ministry for Cooperatives?
A day before the reshuffle, Narendra Modi’s National Democratic Alliance government created a new Ministry of Cooperation.It would provide, said its statement, a separate administrative, legal and policy framework for strengthening the cooperative movement in India.A day later, it announced Union home minister Amit Shah would also head the new ministry.Singly and together, these announcements… Continue reading
India’s solar sector #4. Growth minus market scaffolding
We published the last of our solar stories today.Essentially, all the hype and bombast notwithstanding, solar power sector is struggling. Take a look at the sector and you will see slowing capacity addition, developers cutting costs/restructuring/exiting, and rising M&A activity. This needs to be understood. In part because high solar/renewable targets are a cornerstone of… Continue reading
India’s solar sector #2. Rooftop solar and DISCOMs
This is the first question. Why did India amp up its rooftop (solar) target without considering its implications for DISCOMs? Out today, the second part of our series on why India’s solar sector is struggling. ps: this report has been cross-posted at The Wire. Continue reading
Lakshadweep: Chartered Flights for Administrator Patel, Job and Welfare Cuts for Locals
On June 14, administrator Praful Patel arrived in Lakshadweep. In the background of a photo clicked shortly afterwards stood the Coast Guard plane, CG 789, he flew over in. This choice needs to be understood. The Union Territory is connected by air to Kochi. Even at short notice, a two-way flight ticket from Daman to… Continue reading
A Field Guide to Praful Patel’s Tumultuous Record as UT Administrator
My second report on Patel, and the crisis facing Lakshadweep. Continue reading
Interview: ‘We have underestimated the extent of India’s jobs crisis. It is far more serious’
and gosh. one more frikking q&a. On Thursday, a political storm boiled over after Business Standard reported that, between 2017-’18, unemployment numbers in India reached a 45-year high. The newspaper based its report on a survey, conducted by the National Sample Survey Organisation, called the Periodic Labour Force Survey that the government had not made public. According to… Continue reading
Political meddling to financial impropriety – it is all going wrong at Amul
out today, the second — and concluding — part of our report on how Kaira Union, the Amul Dairy set up by Verghese Kurien and Tirbhuvandas Patel is doing. Continue reading
Amul federation could be soured by corruption charges against its oldest cooperative in Gujarat
On March 31, K Rathnam abruptly resigned as managing director of the Kaira Union, the oldest of the 18 cooperatives that market their products under the Amul brand name. The announcement came shortly after some board members of the union, including vice chairman Rajendrasinh Parmar, alleged a Rs 450-crore scam during Rathnam’s three-year stint running… Continue reading
Amul is now a Congress-mukt federation’: How BJP took control of India’s largest milk cooperative
Out today, the second — and concluding — part of our report on why Amul, India’s much-loved dairy federation, is in trouble. Continue reading
The Amul story: How politics is hurting the economics of Gujarat’s milk cooperatives
In the winter of 2013, the inner workings of Amul briefly became public. A boardroom putsch was underway. The directors of no less than 14 of the 17 district milk cooperatives that were then part of the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation, which owns the Amul brand, had turned against chairman Vipul Chaudhary. A member… Continue reading
What we talk about when we talk about Bihar
A wrap of all our #EarToTheGround reportage from Bihar is finally out. The arsenic crisis is not the only problem area where the state’s response has been weak and underwhelming. Bihar has improved on law and order, roads and power, but as the previous stories in Scroll.in’s Ear To The Ground series have reported, its… Continue reading
Caste Calculus: How the BJP is expanding its footprint in Bihar
In a hamlet between Badlapura and Chirandgaon villages near Chhapra, Bihar, a small temple is packed with about 40 women. Unmindful of the summer afternoon heat, they are absorbed in worshipping the Hindu god Shiva. It is a Shiv Charcha, Ajay Pandey, the priest of a nearby temple, explained. The women live in five villages… Continue reading
Fear and loathing in Chhapra: How a peaceful Bihar town became a communal tinderbox
Over the past four years, religious tension has steadily increased in Chhapra, Bihar. For evidence, see how this once peaceful town in Saran district now celebrates Ram Navmi or Maha Shivaratri: the high point of the festivities is large processions of young men wearing saffron headbands brandishing swords and shouting “Jai Shri Ram” to a… Continue reading
Meat unit equity: Company filings show why BJP’s Sangeet Som should quit politics (like he promised)
On Friday, the Hindustan Times reported that Sangeet Singh Som, the Bharatiya Janata Party member of Uttar Pradesh legislative assembly from Sardhana, along with two others, had acquired land for a meat-processing plant in Aligarh. The report said that land for the company Al Dua Food Processing Private Limited was purchased by Som, who happened… Continue reading
On the BJP’s attempts to curry favour in Mizoram…
Last month, for the first time, the Bharatiya Janata Party won an election in Mizoram. The party contested 201 seats in 37 village councils in the autonomous tribal area for Chakmas, a Buddhist community that is an ethnic minority in the predominantly Christian state. It won 42 seats and a majority in seven councils. “We are… Continue reading
on land, bjp, congress and the fine art of selective mudslinging
For weeks now, Congress and the BJP have been clubbing each other over land allotments.The attack started with the Congress alleging that the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, had given large tracts of land at dirt-cheap rates to infrastructure tycoon Gautam Adani, an industrialist Modi is widely perceived as close to. The BJP rubbished… Continue reading
I am an Indian journalist with interests in energy, environment, climate and India’s ongoing slide into right-wing authoritarianism. My book, Despite the State, an examination of pervasive state failure and democratic decay in India, was published by Westland Publications, India, in January 2021. My work has won the Bala Kailasam Memorial Award; the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Award; and five Shriram Awards for Excellence in Financial Journalism. Write to me at email@example.com.
“…une plongée dans les failles béantes de la démocratie indienne, un compte rendu implacable du dysfonctionnement des Etats fédérés, minés par la corruption, le clientélisme, le culte de la personnalité des élus et le capitalisme de connivence. (…a dive into the gaping holes in Indian democracy, a relentless account of the dysfunction of the federated states, undermined by corruption, clientelism, the cult of the personality of elected officials and crony capitalism).” Le Monde
“…a critical enquiry into why representative government in India is flagging.” Biblio
“…strives for an understanding of the factors that enable governments and political parties to function in a way that is seemingly hostile to the interests of the very public they have been elected to serve, a gross anomaly in an electoral democracy.” Scroll.in
“M. Rajshekhar’s deeply researched book… holds a mirror to Indian democracy, and finds several cracks.” The Hindu
“…excels at connecting the local to the national.” Open
“…refreshingly new writing on the play between India’s dysfunctional democracy and its development challenges…” Seminar
“A patient mapping and thorough analysis of the Indian system’s horrific flaws…” Business Standard (Image here)
“33 മാസം, 6 സംസ്ഥാനങ്ങൾ, 120 റിപ്പോർട്ടുകൾ: ജനാധിപത്യം തേടി മഹത്തായ ഇന്ത്യൻ യാത്ര… (33 months, 6 states, 120 reports: Great Indian journey in search of democracy…)” Malayala Manorama
“Hindustan ki maujooda siyasi wa maaashi soorat e hal.” QindeelOnline
“What emerges is the image of a state that is extractive, dominant, casteist and clientelist.” Tribune
“…reporting at its best. The picture that emerges is of a democracy that has been hijacked by vested interests, interested only in power and pelf.” Moneycontrol.com
“Ten best non-fiction books of the year“, The Hindu.
“Twenty-One Notable Books From 2021“, The Wire.
“What has South Asia been reading: 2021 edition“, Himal Southasian
“Journalism is a social enterprise…,” Booksfirst.in.
“Democratic decay at state level: Journalist M Rajshekhar on book ‘Despite the State’,” The News Minute.
“Covid-19 en Inde : “des décès de masse” dont un “État obscurantiste est responsable,” Asialyst.
“JP to BJP: The Unanswered Questions“.
Mahtab Alam’s review of “JP to BJP: Bihar After Lalu and Nitish”.
“Urban History of Atmospheric Modernity in Colonial India“. Mohammad Sajjad’s review of “Dust and Smoke: Air Pollution and Colonial Urbanism, India, c1860-c1940”.
“Westland closure: Titles that are selling fast and a few personal recommendations,” by Chetana Divya Vasudev, Moneycontrol. (Because this happened too. In February, a year after DtS was released, Amazon decided to shutter Westland, which published the book. The announcement saw folks rushing to buy copies of Westland books before stocks run out.)
“Time to change tack on counterinsurgency” by TK Arun, The Federal.
“All Things Policy: The Challenges of Governing States” by Suman Joshi and Sarthak Pradhan, Takshashila Institute (podcast).
“The Future of Entertainment“, Kaveree Bamzai in Open.
“On What India’s Watching“, Prathyush Parasuraman on Substack.
“The puppeteers around us“, Karthik Venkatesh in Deccan Herald.
“Will TN election manifestos continue ‘populist’ welfare schemes?“, Anna Isaac for The News Minute.
“Why wages-for-housework won’t help women“, V Geetha in Indian Express.
“The poor state of the Indian state“, Arun Maira in The Hindu.
26 December, 2021: Rangashankara, Bangalore, a discussion with Dhanya Rajendran.
16 November: Rachna Books, Gangtok, a discussion with Pema Wangchuk.
29 August: Books In The Time of Chaos, with Ujwal Kumar.
21 May: Hyderabad Lit Fest with Kaveree Bamzai and Aniruddha Bahal.
28 March: Paalam Books, Salem, Tamil Nadu.
19 March: The News Minute, “Citizens, the State, and the idea of India“
6 March: Pen@Prithvi, with Suhit Kelkar
20 February: A discussion between scholars Usha Ramanathan, Tridip Suhrud, MS Sriram and me to formally launch Despite the State.
6 February: DogEars Bookshop, Margoa.
5 February: The Polis Project, Dispatches with Suchitra Vijayan.
30 January: Founding Fuel, “Systems Thinking, State Capacity and Grassroots Development“.
25 January: Miranda House Literary Society