Amit Chaudhuri

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Rahul Gandhi, the son of Sonia and Rajiv and a member of India's best-known political dynasty, last week launched the ruling Congress party's campaign for re-election. The rise of Gandhi in the Congress is being seen – especially by Gandhi – as the rise of youth in Indian politics. He is now, for the purposes of the elections next year, the main prime ministerial candidate besides the Bharatiya Janata party's controversial Narendra Modi – a 63-year-old who presided over Gujarat's economic boom and the 2002 pogrom of Muslims, and, lately, has rambled inarticulately on both these matters.

Modi had to isolate and sideline the BJP's octogenarian elder statesman, LK Advani, before he could become its frontrunner.…  Seguir leyendo »

Working at home in Kolkata, I'm surrounded by clouds that bring little rain, and by a strange calm. Daytime TV reveals how exceptional Kolkata's humdrum atmosphere is at the moment. The riots targeting Bangladeshi – and therefore Muslim – migrants in Assam have been competing for news time with the Olympics.

From BBC World, I learn of a massive power outage in north India, leaving even the capital New Delhi without electricity for several hours. And a train approaching Chennai in the south mysteriously caught fire, probably because of a glitch to do, ironically, with electricity, killing at least 32 people.…  Seguir leyendo »

With tomorrow's announcement of the latest findings in the search for the Higgs boson, the elusive particle is on everyone's mind. This kind of fame is relatively rare, even for important scientific discoveries; but the Higgs boson has been called, or miscalled, the God particle, enabling it to pass into the realm of popular scientific lore, like the discovery of the smallpox vaccine, the structure of DNA, or the theory of relativity.

It would be difficult for most people to understand its significance, just as it would be to comprehend the notion of relativity, but such problems are overcome by locating science in personalities as well as cultural and national traditions.…  Seguir leyendo »