Hope versus fear

In a book published in 2007, I wrote that "the world over, the rhetoric of modern democratic politics has been marked by two rather opposed rhetorical styles. The first appeals to hope, to popular aspirations for economic prosperity and social peace. The second appeals to fear, to sectional worries about being worsted or swamped by one's historic enemies."

The cruelty and kindness of time

Thirty-six is hardly a die-able age, to borrow Arundhati Roy's phrase. Particularly for an artist. Ponder, for a moment, what art would have lost if the likes of Monet and Gauguin, Picasso and Mondrian - not to mention da Vinci and Michelangelo - had died before 40. Nikhil Biswas (1930-1966) may not belong among such all-time icons; may not have ripened into a Jamini Roy, perhaps, or even a Raza. But then, who knows where his youthful, sometimes brooding, sometimes exuberant, explorations would have led him?
VISUAL ARTS - Rita Datta Aug 18, 2018 00:00 IST

Impelling force

Peter Brook calls it a 'formless hunch': the impelling force, which could be a smell, an image, a colour or a shadow, that drives one to breathe life into an idea or theme or text. Taraye Taraye, a play directed by Koushik Sen, adapted from Srijato Bandopadhyay's novel, Taarabhora Akasher Neechey, explodes with the strength of such a 'formless hunch' - the conflict between creativity and insanity, the blurred margins between normative reality and alternative reality. This play builds on some vignettes from the life of Vincent van Gogh - portrayed by Anjan Dutta - interspersed with fragments from familiar lives around us.
THEATRE - Debaroti Chakraborty Aug 18, 2018 00:00 IST

Layered images

Photography is as much about skill as it is about being at the right place at the right time. Photographers Moinul Alam and Asma Beethe happened to be in Bangladesh when the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar was at its peak last year. Their chronicling of the unpredictable lives of the refugees was the subject of The Influx Passage (June 25-30) held at Boi-Chitra.
VISUAL ARTS - Srimoyee Bagchi Aug 18, 2018 00:00 IST

In Focus

• The life and works of Achille-Claude Debussy - he was born in August - bear an interesting contradiction. The Frenchman was celebrated as an 'impressionist composer', but Debussy rejected this label wholeheartedly. His opposition to the German musical tradition was equally pronounced. He considered the symphony in its classical form to be obsolete. In terms of style, Debussy leaned elsewhere - towards Russia and the far-east that left an indelible print on his early compositions.
Aug 18, 2018 00:00 IST

Mind the gap

A chasm separates the claims of progress that the prime minister made during his Independence Day speech and the reality on the ground
Aug 18, 2018 00:00 IST

Pink past; Sweet memories; Silence is golden; Parting shot

Pink past

• Sir - Bright pink, scientists have discovered, is the oldest biological c... | Read»

Sweet memories

• Sir - The article, "Jewel in the mouth" (Aug 12), brought back memories o... | Read»

Silence is golden

• Sir - Political leaders in India are becoming more and more imaginative w... | Read»

Parting shot

• Sir - The ignominious innings defeat at Lord's in the second Test match a... | Read»

Aug 18, 2018 00:00 IST

The man with many faces

He had gone from our midst long before his appointed departure, an insistent, genial, and very often brilliant presence shrivelled to the irreversible demands of time, defying expiry yet relentlessly fading away behind the high barricading of his bungalow in Lutyens' Delhi. The last most of us saw of him was in a photograph from 2015, being conferred the Bharat Ratna by Pranab Mukherjee, no more than his eyes and a lock of his fabled wavy hair visible. For quite a while now, Atal Bihari Vajpayee had existed not as himself but as a notion, become a memory in his own time, almost as if he were casting his last trick as an artist of the floating world, an orator of a long silence.
Sankarshan Thakur Aug 17, 2018 00:00 IST

A newer kind of violence

Human beings, like most other species, can be violent when faced with a threat that could hurt or even kill. The instinct of self-defence is common to all animals. However, human beings are the only species that kill one another not only in self-defence but also for gain or advantage. There is a long human history of war and strife on a macro scale, as well as more intense violence by an individual through murder, torture or rape. 
Anup Sinha Aug 17, 2018 00:00 IST

Softer glow

Vajpayee's fulsome praise of Nehru on the latter's demise will be remembered both for its oratorial flourish as well as genuine admiration. It was this ability to transcend differences, political or otherwise - a trait that is, unfortunately, rare in contemporary Indian politics - that made Vajpayee the statesman that he was. Little wonder then that he excelled in keeping his flock together: he was the first non-Congress prime minister to serve a full term. There was, arguably, even a touch of Nehru in the policies of Vajpayee as prime minister. The BJP leader sought a transition of India's faltering social indices on a scale that matched that of Nehru's plans. The scheme to universalize the access to free, elementary education, one of the hallmarks of Vajpayee's reign, is an example. Again, when it came to India's restive provinces, Vajpayee preferred soothing diplomacy to brute force. He sought to untie the Gordian knot that is Kashmir by invoking an inclusive doctrine.
Aug 17, 2018 00:00 IST

Calf love

Is Uttarakhand showing the way for the whole country? Invoking the principle of parens patriae, the Uttarakhand High Court has declared itself the legal guardian of all bovine creatures in a reported ruling which suggests that concern for the cow is uppermost. The decision is fascinating. The doctrine of parens patriae applies to those cases where the State steps in to protect those who cannot protect themselves. Evidently cows, and not any group of vulnerable people in the state, are in need of official protection through a legal principle possibly formulated with human beings in mind. But this need not be seen as an inversion of values. The high court had indicated its preferred direction on July 4, when it declared all creatures, including flying and swimming ones, legal entities. So the latest decision is just the next logical step.
Aug 17, 2018 00:00 IST


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