Photo Credit: James Chan via Pixabay

Consider this series of unfortunate incidents in India:

In September 2020, the Government of India pushed through three farm laws in Parliament, triggering a massive farmers’ protest in the northern states of Punjab, Haryana and (parts of) Uttar Pradesh. In Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee stormed back to power in May 2021 despite analyses claiming a “subaltern Hindutva” wave would wash away her Trinamool Congress Party. On April 25, 2021, Amit Jaiswal, a dedicated fan of Prime Minister Modi died of Covid in Agra, his desperate calls for help on social media ignored by those he adored and trusted. …


Spring colors at Washington Crossing State Park, New Jersey (Photo credit: S. Roy Chowdhury)

Over the recent holiday weekend, we went on a road trip like thousands of other inhabitants of the United States. We went to Washington Crossing State Park in New Jersey where there is a small museum and memorial to mark the spot where George Washington made his daring 1776 Christmas attack on Trenton by crossing the frozen Delaware river. The revolutionary armies boosted the morale of their side by capturing about 900 Hessians of the mercenary regiments of Colonel Johann Rall, Gen. Knyphausen and Gen. von Lossberg. This small battle was important because it was a victory for the revolutionary…


I am going to step into a minefield and state boldly that it’s not TRPS that dictates media behavior anymore — it is the extraction of affect that determines which stories will be pursued and how stories are written, broadcast, discussed. This is where the money is currently.

While Internet ad spending is up, it’s really Alphabet (parent company of Google and Youtube) and Facebook that have soaked up most of the revenues from online advertising. Social media is not a great vehicle for revenue generation for smaller platforms. And if you’re a news media site, even a gigantic one…


Dress Codes: The Real Class War

Photo: Wikimedia. Copyright free, but seeking permission of uploader

I picked a Twitter fight with a stranger last year about dress codes in Indian private clubs. Well, “fight” is too strong a word to describe the snarky remark I made before leaving the discussion. But, the man — your typical, thin-skinned Indian rightwinger — had a bone to pick about the archaic colonial-era rules that operate in many Indian clubs. This particular incident involved journalist Shekhar Gupta who was asked to leave a Bangalore club for wearing a kurta-pyjama instead of shirt and trousers or a suit.

I’ve always defended the right of people to be admitted to private…


Source: Pixabay. Image credit: geralt

“ I declare the global social space we are building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us” . That was John Perry Barlow in 1997 when the Internet was a space of boundless possibilities and a beacon of limitless freedom.

From those dizzying days we are now in the troughs, facing the dismal prospects of Internet addiction, cyber manipulation, and worse. How did we get from there to here? Part of the problem, I submit, is the resurrection of a colonial-style criminality and its deployment in the digital era. The name of the game…


Mahatma Gandhi and Mohammed Ali Jinnah (attribution: Flickr; No known copyright restrictions)

Like Mahatma Gandhi, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, was a Gujarati and a London-trained barrister and a member of the Indian National Congress. Rejecting Gandhi’s methods of mass mobilization as brinkmanship, Jinnah revived the moribund Muslim League and spearheaded the successful Pakistan movement as a parallel to Indian independence in 1947. He positioned himself, according to historian Ayesha Jalal, as the “Sole Spokesman” for Muslim India in colonial times. While much debate and discussion swirls around the Gandhi-Jinnah rivalry or the Nehru-Jinnah relationship, I’ve always wondered about the Bose-Jinnah connection.

Subhas Chandra Bose was the charismatic Indian National…


How To Disagree With a Mughal India Scholar When You are Not a Mughal India Scholar

Before you start reading the book, Audrey Truschke’s Aurangzeb: The Life and Legacy of India’s Most Controversial King (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2017), the one you’ve already decided to hate, do this:

1. Assess what you know about Mughal India. Visually and spatially, I know a lot! This is because like many of us who spent any time in northern India or the Deccan , I have actually visited many of the structures the Great Mughals built. Also, before the Indian education system began…


The Paean Poetry of High Imperialism: Jagattarini Dasi’s “Ode to King-Emperor George V and Queen-Empress Mary on the Occasion of Coronation”

Coronation Park, Delhi. Attribution: By Harshanh (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

One of the joys of browsing the old Digital Library of India website before it disappeared was its highly eccentric and unpredictable search results. Bad cataloging practices coupled with the catalogers’ poor grammar and spelling meant that you could search for one thing and end up with a completely unrelated text. …


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The Lost Archive — the Digital Library of India

S Roy Chowdhury

Historian, researcher, aspiring gourmand. Sometimes a raconteuse.

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