Sanjay Kumar

The author is a New Delhi based journalist covering South Asian and international politics. He tweets as @destinydefier (

A tale from across the border: How India is dealing with COVID-19

India has suddenly fallen silent. Some of the prominent cities where life never stops have come to a standstill. The chants of endless community prayers have ceased. An eerie silence pervades the country ever since the nationwide lockdown was declared on March 24th. However, beyond the surface of this deepening quiet is a disquiet and the sense of unease over the success of this unprecedented lockdown. Never before in the annals of human history have 1.3 billion people been confined to their homes like Indians are today in an attempt to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID 19). Today the ...

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India is at war with secularism

Let’s not call what happened in Delhi communal riots or a sectarian conflict. Let’s call it what it was: a systematic attack against the Muslims of India. What  happened in Delhi between February 23-25 was an organised and planned offensive against the Muslims. Both Hindus and Muslims are among the 42 people who have been declared dead so far; evidently, violence, once it begins, assumes its own character and does not discriminate on the basis of religion. Ever since protests erupted against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in December last year, a parallel campaign has been running, aimed at increasing divisiveness and furthering the agitation. The CAA redefines Indian citizenship on the ...

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Sadhguru – BJP’s spiritual henchman

One could argue that the term ‘guru’ has come to become one of the most misused and abused words in India today. Traditionally, Indians have seen gurus as a source of wisdom, whose sage advice was often sought by kings. Ancient Indian texts are filled with stories in which rulers use the advice provided by gurus as a guiding principle when determining state policy. But it appears that this mindset has not remained confined to the past. Modern India now has its own set of gurus, and they too derive their legitimacy through political patronage. In turn, they try to endorse the political deeds of the ruling ...

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We are fighting to protect India’s soul from a majoritarian regime

There were many question marks surrounding Narendra Modi when he was making a bid to become prime minister of India back in 2014. Would he be able to devote his attention towards the development of the country? Would his slogan ‘sabka saath sabka vikas’ (together with all and development for all) translate into a reality? At the time, many went against their instincts and voted for him, confident that his past would not hinder the construction of a new beginning in Delhi. But few could have foreseen the dark turn the Modi regime would take in the years to come. Sometimes our worst fears really become a reality, and India today ...

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The Citizenship Amendment Bill has tarnished India’s secular ideals

When a government considers itself to be the sole arbiter of a nation’s destiny then it has become a prisoner of its own hubris. At the time of his reelection in May, there was hope that the renewed mandate of Narendra Modi and his regime could perhaps usher in some positive change in India and South Asia. But that was not to be. The bloated ego of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has strengthened the belief in the party that its agenda is far more important than the aspirations of the people. The abrogation of Article 370  was part of the ...

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Why did students protest against a Muslim teaching Sanskrit in India?

India has quite a few institutes which teach Sanskrit, and often times interested people from different parts of the world attend classes to learn the ancient language. In the 19th century, German Max Mueller learnt Sanskrit and translated the ancient Vedic texts into English and other languages. He was a great scholar of Sanskrit at a time when the world was not exposed to India the way it is now. His translation of the Indian ancient texts helped ensure that the world had access to India’s philosophical and cultural treasures. This cultural exchange has been part of the civilisational history of South Asia, and the Indian ...

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For us Indians, the Kartarpur Corridor represents hope

The Kartarpur corridor shows that although the people of  the subcontinent may have been divided by man-made boundaries, they still share a great deal of history and culture. It also demonstrates that political hostility between the two neighbours should never become subservient to the goodwill shared by people on both sides of the border. In that sense, the corridor is a corridor of possibility and hope. This development is all the more remarkable given that it takes place at a time when the hostility between India and Pakistan is at an all-time high. Currently, even the concept of potential dialogue between the two ...

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October 22, 2019

How an Iqbal poem got a Muslim headmaster suspended in India

It no longer shocks us in India. Prejudice and bigotry have become such a part of our existence that it no longer pricks our conscience when a lynching takes place, when a Muslim is humiliated for their way of life, when an overwhelming majority of television stations dish out jingoism all day long – it no longer baffles us. The recent suspension of a school headmaster, Furqan Ali, in the Pilibhit district in Uttar Pradesh (UP) is only the latest demonstration of these growing hostilities. A local Hindu right wing leader belonging to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), one of the ideological brothers of the ...

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How significant will Manmohan Singh’s Kartarpur visit be?

History teaches us that an absence of dialogue leads to war. The Kartarpur corridor is an attempt at dialogue at a time when the relationship between India and Pakistan is at an all time low. Therefore, the timing of former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s visit to Kartarpur, as part of a group of pilgrims, acts as a coolant during this tense atmosphere. It is not important whether Singh has accepted Pakistan’s invitation or whether he is going on the invitation of the Chief Minister of Indian Punjab. What matters is what his visit represents. Happy to meet former Prime ...

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Will the people of Kashmir accept India’s version of ‘normal’?

The word ‘normalcy’ is the most used and abused term in India today. Never before has this nation been so obsessed with these three syllables. Forty five days after the revocation of Article 370, Indian-occupied Kashmir (IoK) still remains paralysed, the majority of political leaders are in detention, civil society activists are under scrutiny, and the media has been asked to become the handmaid of the government. Under this backdrop last week, while hearing petitions filed with regards to the situation in Kashmir, the Indian Supreme Court asked the state to “restore normalcy” in the region as soon as possible. ...

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