I started this blog in July 2008. It has been nearly a decade since that time. This blog is an outlet for my thoughts and musings about India. Sometimes I feel like it was yesterday, when I was composing my first post about federalism and the linguistic questions in Indian politics. But then I browse through some of the posts and realize how knowledge and experience changes one’s mind.
I started this blog with the goal of communicating ‘objective’ opinions, commentary and research on India, relying on the work of academics. I was then a beginning PhD student, and my belief in the reliability and objectivity of academic work perhaps came from the fact that I was embarking on such a path myself.
If there has been one change that has occurred in my thinking over the time this blog was written, it is that academia like media is heavily conditioned by politics, power and a host of structural factors. Academic ‘leaders’ develop vested interests in narratives, and deep links with political actors who rely on these narratives for their political agency. Noam Chomsky has argued well about manufactured consent in the media, but not surprisingly I havent heard much from him on the same effect in academia.
My general feeling is that academic work from political science, and economics departments tends to be freer from ‘manufactured consent’ than that from sociology, anthropology and history departments. There is of course, great work that comes from all areas, Venkat Dhulipala’s recent historical work is an example. But unfortunately, as fortunate as I was to have found and read his book, I also had to see him being bullied by ‘academic leaders’.
Another shift in my thinking is that I am more likely to try and understand the structural roots/circumstances of people’s choices and behaviours rather than ascribe them to their inherent nature or cultural background.