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
Under BJP-RSS Rule, Madhya Pradesh’s Culture Department Stares at Moral, Artistic Decay
In April 2021, readers of local daily Swadesh found an astounding report in their newspaper. Headined ‘Ustad Alauddin Khan Sangeet Evam Kala Academy ka Kaarnama (‘A Great Feat by the Ustad Alauddin Khan Music and Art Academy’)’, the newspaper reported that the Academy – set up by the Madhya Pradesh government in 1979 – had… Continue reading
The CBI must understand trains and bogies if it aims to crack the Vyapam scam
out today, this story which looks at how exam rigging was done in madhya pradesh’s #vyapam scam. As the number of gangs grew, the market evolved further. First, students began shopping for lowest prices between gangs. This gave rise to a set of disputes which, by 2009, had resulted in the gangs dividing up Madhya… Continue reading
Vyapam’s hidden costs: Broken dreams and a health system staffed by dodgy doctors
In 2009, Poonam Sharma finished school and turned her thoughts to medical school. The daughter of a junior police officer, Sharma left home in Shivpuri, in the northern reaches of Madhya Pradesh, for Gwalior, home to coaching centres that promise to help candidates crack all kinds of entrance exams. She enrolled for a year-long coaching… Continue reading
when claims of indian exceptionalism run into bhopal gas survivors
in a month, it will be 27 years since the gas leaked out of that tank in union carbide’s bhopal plant. it is an event which has never quite lost its ability to shock people — the scale of the disaster; the state’s brutal abandonment of the gas affected; the subsequent discovery that households living… Continue reading
Union Carbide. Reflections
this is the first of three opinionated stories i wrote for et’s 50th anniversary. i cannot find the links to these on the website, and so am pasting the raw text itself. Blackened and twisted from the heat of the reaction, tank 610 lies on its side. Twenty-six years ago, on the night of 2nd-3rd… Continue reading
Union Carbide Followup. Three
In June this year, responding to the public outcry over the weak judgments handed out by a Bhopal sessions court, the Indian government unveiled a new relief package for the survivors of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. With the 26th anniversary of the leak around the corner, the Economic Times travelled to Bhopal to take stock of… Continue reading
Union Carbide Followup. Two
and what the GoM recommended. Continue reading
Union Carbide followup. One.
after the outcry, a meeting by the GoM (group of ministers). Continue reading
A tragedy that looks like it will never end
eleven days earlier, a Bhopal sessions court had handed down measly sentences to seven people accused in the bhopal gas leak. in the resulting cries for revenge and demands for the extradition of warren andersen, a big point was ignored. the tragedy at bhopal did not just occur 25 years ago, it continues to unfold. Widespread… Continue reading
(am writing this post in 2014 but retrospectively dating it back to dec 28, 2009. this, as things stand, is the very first set of stories i wrote for the economic times — they appeared three days before i joined the paper. the paper was bringing out an year end issue, and i wrote about… Continue reading
More observations from Tihi et al
a small update from me. when the previous post was written, i was in the middle of the itc project — living in two villages, studying the impact this agribusiness was having on village india. that project is over now. i am back in starvation gully looking for a job. needless to say, the village… Continue reading
a development chronology of tihi
since the 12th of january, i have been living in tihi, a village of 300-odd households in the central indian state of madhya pradesh (more specifically, in malwa). six years ago, itc-ibd, an indian agribusiness, set up an ict kiosk in the house of one of the larger farmers in this village, began using that… 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