Weekend Reads:

  1. Last week, Shekhar Gupta in The Print wrote a critique of the “holier-than-cow Indian liberal” who he claimed is “actually [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi’s best friend and ally”.
  2. Writing in the Indian Express, Pratap Bhanu Mehta noted that “liberal bashing is so much fun. You can say both that liberals are not really liberal and bash them for being liberal if they actually are. With this strategy both left and right will join in. Even some liberals will join in.”
  3. Meanwhile, Mukul Kesavan in the Telegraph brought up the question of “omniscient” pundits who are constantly triangulating their centrism. “Pundits of this sort aren’t necessarily acting in bad faith. Their talent for triangulation comes with the territory; their trade is based on access which makes public even-handedness even in the face of political wickedness a necessary habit. They are, if you like, ‘Jaitley journos’, networked pros who know everyone, and have done for so long that they now practise knowingness not journalism.
  4. The Economist calls out the Indian-American underachiever, saying that, despite conditions being ripe for a great Indo-American alliance, relations are dawdling: “China’s assertiveness suggests America needs India even more than Mr Bush imagined. Yet it is in danger of getting less from India than he hoped.
  5. Devesh Kapur, writing on his University of Pennsylvania webpage, also points out the limitations of current American scholarship focusing on India, especially in the humanities. “While there are notable exceptions, in many large data projects, India-based personnel are the intellectual equivalent of coolie labour – they do the grunt work, leaving the thinking to Boston Brahmins, so to speak. An intellectual hierarchy has been created between the haves and have nots wherein the funding channels reinforce the model of fly-in-fly-out academia that professes that it is doing all this work to help India.”
  6. “Nations do not become great by creating a false and unfounded pride in the minds of the citizens. Such pride often results in hatred and strife,” writes GN Devy in The State. “Nations become great by creating an atmosphere where thinkers, scientists, artists, singers, writers and citizens can live in peace and talk to each other and the world in the language of love. These really can be called good nationalists.”
  7. Vidya Krishnan, in the Hindu, visits the Rohingya camps in Bangladesh’s Cox Bazaar, where monsoon rains are wreaking havoc and inter-personal conflict can come in the way of the larger effort.
  8. Kolkata is filled with little museums, ones dedicated to boats, a scientist’s workplace, records of indentured labour and more, Sandip Roy discovers in Blink.
  9. “The greatest soccer players all seem to have this ability to alter your perception of time,” writes Brian Phillips in the New Yorker, in a piece about French teenage phenomenon Kylian Mbappé, the second-youngest player at the tournament. “Already, though, he has that quality of temporal magic; the ball finds him and the lights in your head do the stretchy hyperspace thing that the stars outside the windows of the Millennium Falcon do.”
  10. The Guardian puts together a Euro-centric but nevertheless compelling list of the 50 best podcasts of 2018 so far.