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”

The farmer’s ‘mann ki baat’

[First published in The Hindu dated May 13, 2015] Everybody has an opinion on farmers these days. Be it politicians, policymakers, editors or economists. In fact, ever since the Parliament reconvened for the Budget session on April 20, the deteriorating condition of farmers has clearly dominated discussions. But even as the issue of agrarian crisis,Continue reading “The farmer’s ‘mann ki baat’”

India: government continues to suppress citizens’ right to information ahead of election

[Republished in leading Indian news sites: Scroll and Quartz] Back in 2014, when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ascended to power in India, it did so on the promise of running an open government accountable to its citizens that would eliminate corruption. But nearly five years later, and with an election due between March andContinue reading “India: government continues to suppress citizens’ right to information ahead of election”

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”