Farmers for federalism

In Bloomberg Quint, Yamini Aiyer argues that Modi’s failure to pass agricultural reforms makes the case for greater consensus building with states on broad national policy.

More needs to be done to invest in institutions that enable better centre-state coordination. Our frameworks for economic policymaking have to recognise that sustainable long-term reform cannot be achieved by undermining federalism. Rather it requires strengthening federal institutions.

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An impossible founding

Is the constitution of India a promissory note? Or was it, to reprise a famous comment of the Mahatma’s on another British effort at constitutional founding in India, a post-dated cheque drawn on a crashing bank?

In the Global Intellectual History journal, historian Faisal Devji argued that India’s Constituent Assembly actually ended up entrenching the dominance of caste and community in newly independent India. The Congress’ single-party status in the aftermath of Partition meant the party was able to deploy a confessional and upper caste majority in the Constituent Assembly to dismantle the long-standing constitutional privileges, however undesirable, of a religious minority in the grip of severe discrimination.

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Beyond the transportation debate of city vs suburb

In the United States, the transportation debate as it usually plays out today amounts to a fight between cars and transit writ large. Like so much else in American life, argues Addison Del Mastro in The New Atlantis, that fight often seems to be just another front in the culture war.

On one side are those who hold to the dream of the Eisenhower era, of being able to make a single, convenient trip from any one point to another — meaning ever more roads and bigger highways must be built. On the other side are lovers of the rail, spoke, and shoe, who bemoan how cars emit carbon, highways and parking lots disrupt walkable urban centers, and the high costs of car ownership create yet another barrier for low-income people to live a normal life

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A brief scientific history of glass

Today, glass is ordinary, on-the-kitchen-shelf stuff. But, explains Carolyn Wilke in The Smithsonian, early in its history, glass was a thing meant for kings.

In a world filled with the buff, brown and sand hues of more utilitarian Late Bronze Age materials, glass – saturated with blue, purple, turquoise, yellow, red and white – would have afforded the most striking colors other than gemstones. In a hierarchy of materials, glass would have sat slightly beneath silver and gold and would have been valued as much as precious stones were.

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Shoaib Daniyal writes on politics for