Mason Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School of Government; ex-soldier; teacher; politico-social activist
Shashank Shukla is a social entrepreneur in the field of rural education in India , an activist and a Teach For India fellow and a Mason Fellow from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. At the Kennedy School he was Chair of the South Asia Caucus and India Caucus. He has also served in the Indian Air Force and has led the National Program for the Urban Homeless across 8 states in India working with the Supreme Court Commissioners. Prior to that in his 7 year Corporate stint he worked as a Consultant and a Banker with organizations like GE, Citi and Infosys.His Political views are left of center and works for political empowerment of the Dalit community in association with the Scheduled Caste Department of the Indian National Congress.
Prime Minister Modi has tried to brand himself as a liberal, urbane and patrician politician who stands for development and against strident communalism. In short, he likes to play "good cop". Simultaneously, certain legislators of his party (personified by Yogi Adityanath and his ilk) play bad cop by spewing vitriolic rhetoric against Pakistan and fanning communal passions through issues like beef, love jihad and ghar wapsi. One sells the dream of an economically resurgent India and the other panders to the xenophobic and communalistic sentiments of the majority community.
Millions of Indians recently celebrated India's 69th Independence Day. Yet, more than 200 million Indians are yet to attain their independence. Independence from discrimination, independence from indignity and independence from atrocities. So, what is the reason for this centuries-old apartheid in India? Can we simply blame it on the caste system or are there other reasons? Can India ever attain true freedom for one-fifth of its citizens?
In this model both India and Pakistan could lay claim to the territories, and citizens of both countries could have free access to the "Commonwealth of Kashmir". There would similar concessions for Kashmiris who could choose the citizenship of either India or Pakistan and yet stay peacefully in the "Commonwealth of Kashmir" as equal citizens.
I write this article as a personal appeal and in a state of alarm. Alarm at the efforts to silence all criticism against the current government. Alarm at the level of silence being practiced institutionally by the government, by the media, by civil society and by the public in general. Alarm at the fact that India is slowly but surely becoming a republic of silence.
Many of us grew up searching for assignment answers on Google, playing games online, developing crushes while chatting and discovering the joys of Skyping with family even while being a world away. I wish the same for all future generations to come and that is possible only when we have an open and equally accessible Internet for all.
What I present is a counterview to the popular narrative that has been built around Rahul Gandhi. My writing is based on watching him and his politics over the years, but with one critical difference -- the absence of preconceived notions. This attitude has enabled me to separate the perception from the facts, leading me to assert that India needs a politician like Rahul Gandhi. I would like to debunk a few popular myths that have been carefully built around him.
Dalit politics may have started with Dr Ambedkar, but he probably never envisioned that it would assume the opportunistic form it has today. This erosion of values and the fracturing of the community along the lines of sub-castes may well result in the death of Dalit politics as we know it today.
Over the last 10 months, as Narendra Modi went about his business as the Prime Minister of the world's largest democracy and secular nation, the Sangh Parivar and other Hindu fundamentalist groups busied themselves with ghar wapsi, beef bans and church attacks. And I as an ordinary Indian citizen now prepare to pen down the obituary of an electoral category called the Muslim voter.
While it is evident that India needs to step up investments in healthcare, there is fierce debate among healthcare professionals about universalisation versus targeted healthcare coverage primarily due to the huge financial costs. In this article I would argue that universalisation of healthcare is in fact cost-effective as well as much more doable both socially and politically. I would further state that instead of targeting beneficiaries, it would be much more beneficial to target interventions with the highest returns.
For the past four years, I have been away from home on work-related assignments and felt extremely guilty that I had missed some of the most beautiful years of my son's childhood. Now, I had another chance to not only watch my daughter grow up but also make up to my son and my wife for all those years that I was absent.
In today's strife-torn world divided along race, religion, region, class and creed, the practice of Satyagraha becomes even more relevant. A peaceful struggle based on the principles of truth, non-violence and fierce belief in the righteousness of one's cause appeals to the moral conscience of the adversary, builds popular support without the threat of violence, and thus creates an atmosphere of dialogue and resolution for even the thorniest issues.
I dream of a day when I can eat the biryani in Gawalmandi street in Lahore and my friends can eat the golgappe in Delhi. A day when we can harness the collective youth and energy of the subcontinent to restore the pride, prosperity and peace that is due to this land, which is the cradle of civilisation.
Credibility of information is going to be traditional media's competitive advantage. Another aspect of media that we should not overlook is the fact that news agencies play a role in organising our lives and providing us a summary at global, national or local levels that the blogosphere or citizens media is unable to do currently.