Articles by: Amita Basu

A Passage to India Argues Powerfully Against Orientalism and Imperialism

A Passage to India Argues Powerfully Against Orientalism and Imperialism

A Passage to India demolishes the racism that sustains imperialism; the novel exemplifies the power of literature to catalyse social progress Exploitation has a long history. Nations subjugate other nations and enslave peoples. Exploitation imposes psychological costs. Not just on the exploited. On the exploiters, too. How do exploiters handle these psychological costs, in order to keep exploiting? From Romans[Read More…]

by June 25, 2020 Book Review
COVID-19: Past, Present, Future

COVID-19: Past, Present, Future

 COVID-19 is the latest in a long line of devastating zoonoses.  Unless we radically alter our behaviour, it won’t be the last.   SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is one of a family of coronaviruses, named for the wreaths that ‘coronate’ them.  As of March 16, SARS-CoV-2 has infected 171,000 and killed 6,500.  SARS-CoV-2, first reported in China, is[Read More…]

by May 15, 2020 World
Orwell’s Essays Presage His Masterpiece 1984

Orwell’s Essays Presage His Masterpiece 1984

Orwell is best-known for his novel 1984.  His essays, invaluable for themselves, gain further interest as workshops where Orwell developed the ideas that he was to immortalise in his last and greatest novel.   2020 is the 70th anniversary of Shooting an Elephant And Other Essays: a collection of some of George Orwell’s nonfiction (Secker & Warburg, 1950).  Penguin republished[Read More…]

by January 27, 2020 Book Review
Black Mirror’s Scathing Social Commentary Is A Wake-Up Call for Contemporary Democracies

Black Mirror’s Scathing Social Commentary Is A Wake-Up Call for Contemporary Democracies

Black Mirror does best when it shows how, in a world that’s almost this world, mass media and social media cause problematic behaviour at the mass level. Premiering in 2011 in Britain, before taking the world by storm on Netflix, Black Mirror blends science-fiction with social commentary to galvanise discussions of how technology and human behaviour intersect in unforeseeable ways. [Read More…]

by December 31, 2019 Arts/Literature
The Ancestor’s Tale Offers a Fascinating Journey Back to our Roots

The Ancestor’s Tale Offers a Fascinating Journey Back to our Roots

The Ancestor’s Tale (2nd ed.) (2016).  Richard Dawkins and Yan Wong.  Weidenfeld & Nicolson, Great Britain. The subject of Richard Dawkins’s popular-science books has always been ambitious: life itself.  The Ancestor’s Tale is an even more ambitious entry in his oeuvre.  It dives into the findings, challenges,and methods of evolutionary science using the frame narrative from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales: a[Read More…]

by November 1, 2019 Book Review
Joker raises quite many real issues – sadly, only to skirt them on its way

Joker raises quite many real issues – sadly, only to skirt them on its way

  In the end, Joker remains a laughter-free, irony-free, subtle-as-a-sledgehammer disappointment, partly redeemed by an Oscar worthy performance from Joaquin Phoenix. I wanted to like Joker.  I became a fan of all things Batman in middle school, when Batman: The Animated series was on reruns in India.  Christopher Nolan’s masterful Batman trilogy sent me to the source material: the comics. [Read More…]

by October 3, 2019 Arts/Literature
The Third Chimpanzee: A Critical Retrospective | Amita Basu

The Third Chimpanzee: A Critical Retrospective | Amita Basu

Amidst a global renaissance of xenophobia and antiscientific fundamentalism, Jared Diamond’s book is a valuable reminder that man is after all an animal shaped by his ecology                        When The Third Chimpanzee appeared in 1992, the claim that humans should be classified with the common and the pygmy chimpanzee was novel.  TTC is the first of a series of popular[Read More…]

by April 27, 2019 Book Review
Holi celebrates the triumph of good over evil. Let us unite at Holi to slay the evil of air pollution

Holi celebrates the triumph of good over evil. Let us unite at Holi to slay the evil of air pollution

Co-Written by Amita Basu and Shilpi Bhardwaj        One of the countless Holika pyres dotting the Allahabad cityscape before Holi Amid growing environmental awareness, government has recently targeted Diwali fireworks. Laws on manufacture, sale and hours of use have been passed, altered, flouted and forgotten. But public awareness is growing: pockets of concerned young people are boycotting fireworks and[Read More…]

by March 20, 2019 Environmental Protection
I don’t know what the right thing is. But I know that the right thing is not violence

I don’t know what the right thing is. But I know that the right thing is not violence

Dear All, A lot of people are very angry. But I hope we will all think very carefully before we call on our leaders for war or any extreme measure. India is indeed great. And a great nation can endure acts of free speech, including criticisms of the government. We can endure and appropriately handle acts of terrorism without resorting[Read More…]

by February 18, 2019 India