The Idea Of India Project
Idea Of India Project Update: With The Passing Of The Monsoon A Return To Maharashtra

I am now in the final few weeks of this stage of the The Idea Of India project and focusing on key sites and stories from the state of Maharashtra.

The Idea Of India Project Update: The Eunuch Goddess

Note: This essay was originally published on March 21st. This is an update based on a recent meeting with historian Samira Sheikh who has generously provided me with her research into the legend and contested history of Bahuchara Mata. All updates reflect insights gained from her work. Ω A continuity of history has been erased […]

The Laughter Of The Interrogator

He is waiting for me in the hotel lobby, but barely lifts his head to acknowledge me when I come down from my room to meet him. His face, decorated with a pair of plastic sunglasses, is perfectly round. An equally perfectly round chin, nose, pair of cheeks and eyes but an incongruously square mouth […]

The Idea Of India Project Update: Personal Diary Entry: Dawn At The Dargah of Dadu Pir, Bhuj Gujarat

It stands there with its veneer of rude decay and abusive repair. Peeling paint, carelessly applied white wash, cracked and broken jalis (screens), gently leaning wooden doors held in place by rusting hinges, and large areas of carelessly applied cement to repair gaps in its walls. Sitting low to the ground, the mausoleum appears to […]

The Idea Of India Project Update: Project Readings: Kabir: An Irrelevant Voice?
The Idea Of India Project Update: Project Readings: Kabir: An Irrelevant Voice?

A new set of translations of the works of the Indian poet Kabir are about to be published by The New York Review Of Books.  

Project Reading List: J.J. Roy Burman Gujarat Unknown
Project Reading List: J.J. Roy Burman Gujarat Unknown

Professor J.J. Roy Burman, who currently teaches at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Mumbai/Bombay, India has been a crucial guide and advisor on the current phase of The Idea Of India project.  

Birth Of The Idea Of India Project Or How I Can Make What Was Random And Fortuitous Appear Structured And Disciplined

The diagram below is my attempt to explain the birth and execution of this project I am tentatively calling The Idea Of India. I have been asked to present this work on at least five occasions now and each time I have struggled to really articulate it. The fact remains that I am simply unable […]

Achyut Yagnik The Shaping Of Modern Gujarat & Ahmedbabad: Royal City To MegaCity

Towards the end of this work, Yagnik’s words seem to be weighed down by a terrible despair. Though the work is a broad social science study of Gujarat’s political, economic and cultural history, one can’t help but feel that it is more an attempt to understand and explain the state’s descent into cultural xenophobia and […]

Gilmartin & Lawrence Beyond Turk & Hindu: Rethinking Religious Identities In Islamicate South Asia
Gilmartin & Lawrence Beyond Turk & Hindu: Rethinking Religious Identities In Islamicate South Asia

It was a William Dalrymple review, ‘India, The War Over History’, in The New York Review Of Books that first bought my attention to this work. It remains on my reading list and has already been referenced in my India project writings a few times. Gilmartin & Lawrence’s Beyond Turk And Hindu: Rethinking Religious Identities […]

The Idea Of India Project Update: 2 March 2011: The Fulbright Phase Begins
The Idea Of India Project Update: 2 March 2011: The Fulbright Phase Begins

After a near nine month break I am once again turning my attention to the The Idea Of India project. This phase of the project is expected to last about nine months and will concentrate on the regions of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Kerala and, time permitting, West Bengal. I arrived in India on February 5th, but […]

Idea Of India Project Update: May 24th 2010 Gujarat’s Faded Testaments – The Parables Of Bet Dwarka

On any given day hundreds of Hindu pilgrims can be seen standing in the courtyard of Bet Dwarka’s famous Krishna temple. On the day of the annual festival, tens of thousands will congregate here. And on that special day, as on any ordinary day, the pilgrims would have been helped to cross the three kilometer […]

Idea Of India Project Update: May 14th 2010 Gujarat’s Faded Testaments – The Sant Devidas Temple, Parab, Gujarat

We hacked, we burnt, did a lot of that. We believe in setting them [Muslims] on fire because these bastards say they don’t want to be cremated, they’re afraid of it, they say this and that will happen to them. Babu Bajrangi, VHP and Bajrang Dal leader, speaks about events in Naroda, Gujarat in 2002, […]

Idea Of India Project Update: May 11th 2010 Gujarat’s Faded Testaments – The Shrine Of Data Pir, Junagadh, Gujarat

I don’t remember the names of those Muslims… but the ones who were there… they were handpicked and killed one by one. There was one Katki in Madhopura… whenever a riot took place, he was the first to come out… That day we targeted him and killed him. There were two advantages to that… it […]

The Idea Of India Project Update: May 9th 2010: The Ideological Shadows On Somnath

Mahmud of Ghazni, a legendary looter, descended on Somnath from his Afghan kingdom and, after a two-day battle, took the town and the temple. Having stripped its fabulous wealth, he destroyed it. So began a pattern of Muslim desecration and Hindu rebuilding that continued for centuries. The temple was again razed in 1297, 1394, and […]

The Idea Of India Project Update: Gujarat’s Faded Testaments, 28th April 2009e

They were the seven minutes that changed India’s future. At 7:43AM on February 27th, 2002, the Sabaramati Express, on its way from the city of Ayodhya, arrived at Godhra railway station. The train was packed with Hindu pilgrims on their way back from Ayodhya. During its standard four-minute stop a series of confrontations broke out […]