On the ideology, political economy, and prospects of cryptocurrencies

by Namit Arora The cryptocurrency movement may be a mainstream media story but confusion about it is widespread. It evokes deeply polarized opinion, what with daily stories of scams, speculative booms, crypto billionaires, and government bans amid tall claims about how cryptocurrencies (and blockchain) are about to transform life and society as we know it. I…

A Chronicle of the Minutiae

by Namit Arora A review of Odysseus Abroad, a novel by Amit Chaudhuri. Ananda Sen, the young Bengali protagonist in Amit Chaudhuri’s sixth novel, Odysseus Abroad, is an aspiring poet, singer of ragas, and seeker of the romantic spark in London, 1985. Raised in Bombay but with ancestral roots in Sylhet, Bangladesh, Ananda has been…

Delhi: the City of Rape?

By Namit Arora On how caste patriarchy in urban India hijacks and distorts the reality of gender violence. Delhi now lives in infamy as India’s ‘rape capital’. In December 2012, the gruesome and fatal gang rape of a young woman, named Nirbhaya (‘fearless’) by the media, unleashed intense media and public outrage across India. Angry…

A Place Called Home

by Namit Arora Former changing rooms in the Birla Industries Club ‘No man ever steps in the same river twice,’ wrote Heraclitus, the ancient Greek philosopher, ‘for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.’ Some also say this about ‘home’, making it less a place, more a state of mind. Or…

Of Meenas, Migrants, and Medicine

by Usha Alexander Two days in south Rajasthan with AMRIT Health Services, a not-for-profit initiative A hamlet in Bedawal village “The demand to sacrifice a goat was not something we had expected as a precondition for setting up the clinic,” Dr. Pavitra Mohan explained. A pediatrician and public health professional, he was telling me about…

River of Faith

By Namit Arora A new documentary film about the Kumbh Mela 2013, Prayag, Allahabad. 56 minutes. The Kumbh Mela is an ancient pilgrimage festival that happens once every three years, rotating across four locations in India. The largest of these riverside fairs happens every 12 years in Allahabad at the confluence of two rivers, Ganga…

The Revenge of the East?

by Namit Arora A review of Pankaj Mishra’s “From the Ruins of Empire: The Intellectuals Who Remade Asia”. A few hundred years ago, a powerful cultural force arose in Western Europe that would later spread out and overwhelm much of the world. Fueled by a new spirit of individualism, inquiry, and innovation, it furthered personal…

On Eating Animals

by Namit Arora Some years ago in a Montana slaughterhouse, a Black Angus cow awaiting execution suddenly went berserk, jumped a five-foot fence, and escaped. She ran through the streets for hours, dodging cops, animal control officers, cars, trucks, and a train. Cornered near the Missouri river, the frightened animal jumped into its icy waters…

The Inner Lives of Animals

by Namit Arora It is often said that humans are the only animals to use symbols. So many other claims of human uniqueness have fallen away—thoughts, emotions, intelligence, tool use, sense of fairness—what's so special about symbols, you ask? I share your skepticism, dear reader, and in the next few paragraphs I'll tell you why.…