The Terrain of Indignities NEW!
A review of Ajay Navaria's Unclaimed Terrain, a book of short stories translated from Hindi, and a conversation with the author.
Revisiting the Idea of India NEW!
A review of The Indian Ideology by Perry Anderson, focusing on Indian nationalism from the colonial era to the present.
Part 1: Gandhi, early Indian nationalism
Part 2: Nehru, Partition, the nation-state
The Revenge of the East?
A review of Pankaj Mishra's "From the Ruins of Empire: The Intellectuals Who Remade Asia".
Joothan: A Dalit's Life
A review of Omprakash Valmiki's Joothan, a memoir of growing up ‘untouchable’ in rural Uttar Pradesh, India.
The Reach of Reason
A review of Amartya Sen's "The Argumentative Indian: Writings on Indian Culture, History and Identity".
The Wonder That Was India
A review of Pankaj Mishra's "An End to Suffering: The Buddha in the World".
Science, Religion, Philosophy
What Do We Deserve?
Of particular relevance to market-based societies is the question, ‘What do we deserve?’ For our learning, natural talents, and labor, what rewards and entitlements can we fairly claim?
The Bhagavad Gita Revisited
Why the Bhagavad Gita is an overrated text with a deplorable morality at its core. Part 1 is on the Gita’s historical and literary context. Part 2 is the textual critique.
Part 1 (The Appetizer)
Part 2 (The Main Course)
Addendum (The Dessert)
On the Void of Nagarjuna
The works of Nagarjuna, the great Buddhist philosopher who lived in South India 1800 years ago,
represent "something of a watershed ... in the history of philosophy."
The Inner Lives of Animals
Do non-human animals live entirely in the moment? Given the spate of behavioral studies, what can we justifiably say about the inner lives of animals?
The Dearth of Artificial Intelligence
Despite big advances in computing, AI has fallen woefully short of its ambition and hype. Why is AI in such a braindead state?
Being Liberal in a Plural World
In the absence of a consensus on the ‘truly universal’ values of liberalism, and hence rights—whether on empirical or practical grounds—how is a liberal to act in the world?
On Early Islam
This five-part series on early Islamic history begins with the rise of Islam, shifts to its golden age, examines two major currents of early Islamic thought—rationalism and Sufi mysticism—and concludes with an epilogue.
Part 1: The Rise of Islam
Part 2: The Golden Age of Islam
Part 3: The Path of Reason
Part 4: The Mystic Tide
Part 5: Epilogue
From the Outside, Looking In
Speaking of Muslims as fanatics and terrorists is not even considered bad manners; it’s seen as a comic expression of the truth.
On Knowledge Without Wisdom
Philosophy today is not how the Greeks understood it, as the love of wisdom. It now paves the way for the acquisition of theoretical knowledge as an end in itself.
Atheistic Materialism in Ancient India
It comes as a surprise to many that in ancient "spiritual" India, atheistic materialism was a force to reckon with.
Dispatches from India NEW!
Usha Alexander's periodic musings on her life in India. She moved there in mid-2013.
1: First Impressions
2: On Hiring Domestic Help in India
An Indian-American in China
Impressions from a journey through China, and the hard-to-avoid comparisons with neighboring India.
The Leatherbacks of Trinidad
A tiny village on the northeastern coast of Trinidad is home to the "so-ugly-they're-cute" leatherback turtles. In Apr 2011, I traveled there to see them.
The Lost City of Ugarit
A journey to the Syrian city of Lattakia and the nearby ruins of Ugarit, the 2nd millennium BCE city credited with the invention of the alphabet.
Divinity is Here
I am in the village of Rum in south Jordan, all signed-up for two days in
the desert. The clincher was the Bedouin honcho's sell job: "I have open
At the Foot of Mount Yasur
I am six hundred miles east of the Great Barrier Reef in the archipelago
of Vanuatu-or, as they say in Vanuatu, the "ni-Vanuatu"
archipelago, home to nine active volcanoes.
The Amazon hogs the limelight for fauna stats but to see wildlife in wide open spaces, the Pantanal is the place to visit in Brazil.