Sanjay Jha

AFP/Getty Images

Modi’s Image In The Jio Ad Is A Snapshot Of Our Times

Take a momentary pause and visualize US President Barack Obama munching French fries alongside a mammoth McDonald’s cheeseburger in a full-page ad in the New York Times. That would appear blasphemous -- the Commander-in-Chief playing corporate salesman in a hotly contested space also featuring Burger King, KFC, Shake Shack and the ilk. Such an event actually occurred in India when Prime Minister Narendra Modi featured in the ad for telecom brand Jio, launched by India’s biggest industrial behemoth, Reliance. Goodbye propriety?
13/09/2016 7:07 PM IST
Ahmad Masood / Reuters

The Corruption Joke, Pal!

When is the last time you remember a prime-time debate or a newspaper headline featuring anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare? My personal guesstimate is not even once in the last four years. Practically no one ever mentions what had become then the national shibboleth -- the Lokpal Bill. What has led to Hazare’s ignominious fall and the dramatic disappearance of the Lokpal Bill from public memory? Was that self-righteous brouhaha just a deadly political game in clever disguise?
30/08/2016 4:13 PM IST
Hindustan Times via Getty Images

‘Yeh Kya Hua, Kaise Hua, Kyun Hua…’

Rajesh Khanna’s tale is somewhere incomplete. To have seen such dizzying heights of heady fame and then to experience such impenetrable oblivion requires some inner toughness. Khanna’s life was colourful, complex, convoluted, and profoundly impactful. Even if he had lived another 20 years, the unfathomable vacuum of a rainy gray 18 July, 2012 would have still felt the same. We would still say, “Yeh kya hua, kaise hua, kyun hua…”
19/07/2016 6:23 PM IST
Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

Ignoring Priyanka Chopra

Not many can claim to have studiously ignored a gorgeous Miss World. I have that unique distinction. What makes it even more intriguing is that it was intentional. This is how it happened.
04/07/2016 11:17 AM IST

Drugs, Guns And Salvation In Benares

We see a regular rural landscape with pretensions of development -- hurriedly made haphazard structures, dusty barren lands stretching into dry fields, a cluster of tacky construction, flourishing small sweet-shops and retail traders co-existing with some fancy multinational outlets. Billboards at regular intervals have a beaming Prime Minister Narendra Modi reminding you that this is his territorial domain, one that he apparently wants to convert into a replica of Japan's breathtakingly charming Kyoto. I am told that real estate prices have skyrocketed high since May 2014. I nod in empathetic understanding.
20/06/2016 2:45 PM IST
TARIK KIZILKAYA via Getty Images

The Modi Government's Panama Siesta

The lame, languid and lackadaisical manner in which the Modi Sarkar has responded to the global Panama Papers money-laundering scandal is a manifestation of its dubious intentions. Of course, in characteristic style, there is a lot of media spin given to cosmetic gestures -- it's like putting a lipstick on a pig.
13/06/2016 12:21 PM IST
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10 Questions That Modi Sarkar Must Answer On AgustaWestland Scam

The sudden brouhaha created by the Narendra Modi-led NDA on the AgustaWestland pay-offs, and the targeting of the Gandhi family, only manifests the ruling government's inherent failures and abysmal performance track-record on multiple fronts over the past two years in power. But there are several unanswered questions that need to be immediately addressed, because, paradoxically enough, the finger of suspicion points towards the party with the lotus symbol.
10/05/2016 4:13 PM IST
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The Return Of India Shining

On 16 May 2014, the stock markets caroused wildly, expecting an exhilarating acceleration on a glistening expressway as the harbingers of "acchhe din", the BJP and Narendra Modi, overwhelmed political adversaries. Two years later, the slippery Sensex has reached rock-bottom , even crashing below the much-maligned "dismal last two years of UPA".
11/02/2016 8:13 AM IST
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The Myth Of Make In India

The much heralded Make in India Week is due in February, wherein the leviathan propaganda machine of the BJP/NDA sarkar will be unleashed in all its razzmatazz and glory, befitting the rock-star imagery of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The celebrated Lion logo, paradoxically inspired by a Swiss bank emblem will walk majestically, never mind that manufacturing activity nosedived to a record 28-month low, exports tumbled down like Jack and Jill for 12 successive months and private investment remained as flat as a table-tennis table.
13/01/2016 8:27 AM IST

Rahul Gandhi Means Business

Ever since Gandhi's popular jibe of " Suit Boot Ki Sarkaar" has become the zeitgeist of the Congress party's attack on Modi Sarkar's confused priorities, the Bhartiya Janata Party has been burning the midnight oil to shoehorn Rahul Gandhi as an " anti-growth" proponent. That is patently preposterous, and altogether disingenuous
02/12/2015 8:57 AM IST
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Beyond Pataliputra: How Bihar Verdict Saved The Idea Of India

The crescendo of the Bihar election verdict that gave the JD(U)-RJD-Congress Grand Alliance a stunning victory, and the BJP a raspberry, will certainly reverberate far beyond the boundaries of Pataliputra. In a bitterly contested election, besides the electoral spoils, many wondered whether the Idea of India was itself under public referendum or facing a sober burial.
10/11/2015 10:45 AM IST
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The Pink Revolution Turns Red

Modi maybe falling woefully short on meeting the dizzying commercial expectations of Goldman Sachs and Moody's, but he is doing extraordinary well in creating a Hindutva infrastructure to the delight of his RSS commanders and over-zealous right-wing propagandists. He is scoring an A; for an A+, perhaps more will be required. One shudders to even contemplate that.
04/10/2015 1:32 PM IST

Drop The Pretence, Name Nagpur As India's Capital

A miasma of impending gloom envelops the Indian horizons. The extreme right-wing fanatics seem to have embarked with brazen brutality on their quest to liquidate modern intellectuals, and are likely to be involved in the deaths of MM Kalburgi, Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare. But India's current political leadership has maintained a calculated silence. For the BJP, anything remotely liberal that challenges traditional rigidities deserves instant condemnation and retaliation, a bonfire of the vanities.
08/09/2015 8:14 AM IST

The Road To Nowhere: Modi's Foreign Policy

Diplomacy is a fine art, requiring both sense and sensibility. Sadly, both deserted a stubborn Modi Sarkar, hell-bent on its predilection for atmospherics, as the much-hyped National Security Advisor' s talks between India and Pakistan collapsed on 22 August, 2015. The air was pregnant with smartly worded rhetoric, but the bottom-line is that both countries stand to lose in this obdurate positioning, where strategic cross-border negotiations to alleviate escalating tensions took a backseat to pleasing restless domestic constituencies.
25/08/2015 12:47 PM IST

Chetan Bhagat, Twitter Trolls And Some Gentle Advice

Popular fiction-writer Chetan Bhagat's column last week in a mainstream newspaper caused considerable heartburn among hardline right-wing social media fanatics, frequently christened as #ModiBhakts. What set them off was Bhagat's explicit expostulation of the Internet Hindu's predilection for abusive, offensive language; he even attempted to define their socio-psychological-behavioural profile. Many were offended. They easily are. #ModiBhakts are egregiously hypersensitive. One word against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and you have perpetrated sacrilege. Expect a deluge of diatribe, an avalanche of abuse.
17/07/2015 8:21 AM IST

Rocking The Gym For A 56-Inch Chest

I want a 56-inch <em>ki chhati</em>, I said, taking a deep breath to expand the horizons of my chest. I added hopefully: In three months. The instructor, if he was flabbergasted by my astronomical ambition, concealed it with the same élan with which Amit Shah dodges all the criminal cases against him. Ok, he said, let's get going.
25/06/2015 5:14 PM IST

A Portrait Of A 'Soft' Dictator

The "soft" dictator is the transformed, contemporary version of Hitler; no Auschwitz for him, as that would cause an international furor. Lee Kuan Yew throttled free speech, censored newspapers, and castigated fault-finding of his sophisticated city-state. But Singapore remained an attractive citadel for foreign investors, and its denizens quietly compromised their individual liberty for efficient metro networks and state-subsidised housing. India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi apparently models himself after Yew. He is a free-market fundamentalist who serenades Big Business and eschews subsidies. And he seriously abhors criticism. A brief review of Modi's totalitarian ways are in order.
05/06/2015 8:29 AM IST