India: why secrecy over Narendra Modi’s COVID-19 relief fund damages democracy

In late August, I filed an RTI application seeking various details of the charitable trust under which the PM-CARES Fund had been registered, and which state regulatory authority was monitoring the trust. But I was refused information on the grounds that the fund was not a public authority. Vidya Venkat, SOAS, University of London SinceContinue reading “India: why secrecy over Narendra Modi’s COVID-19 relief fund damages democracy”

Reclaiming the Republic

[Essay published on the occasion of India’s 70th Republic Day in Economic & Political Weekly] On the occasion of India’s 70th Republic Day, it is worth considering how the very foundational idea of a republic, in which supreme power is held by the people, is at risk despite free and fair elections. To arrive atContinue reading “Reclaiming the Republic”

Nothing British about the Brits

Nigel Farage’s ‘Independence Day statement’ post the Brexit vote rests on the assumption that there exists a unique ‘British’ culture that needs guarding from immigrant populations. To shatter that myth we only need look at what Britain eats…     Vidya Venkat   If people are what they eat, then there could be nothing uniquelyContinue reading “Nothing British about the Brits”

A fig leaf for the world’s woes

[Long version of essay first published in The Hindu’s blog thREAD] Seventy years after it was founded, the United Nations continues to function on a budget lesser than that of New York City’s. Where is this global organisation headed? Vidya Venkat When I was a fifteen-year-old schoolgirl preparing for my All-India UN Information Test, knowingContinue reading “A fig leaf for the world’s woes”

A New Year’s resolution from Paris 2015

[A shorter version of this appeared in The Hindu’s op-ed pages on Jan 4, 2016]   The lesson from Paris 2015 is this: until world powers don’t stop digging black gold out of the bellies of Iraq, Africa and Saudi Arabia, the convoluted webs of violence, terror and climate change, will continue to keep usContinue reading “A New Year’s resolution from Paris 2015”