Alex Traub has worked on the editorial staffs of The Hindustan Times, The Telegraph of Kolkata, and The New York Review. (December 2018)


India’s Dangerous New Curriculum

Schoolgirls in Udaipur, Rajasthan, 1999
Since last year, students at the Saifee School in Rajasthan have been using new textbooks published by the government, which is run by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that dominates India’s parliament and state legislatures. The new textbooks promote the BJP’s political program and ideology. They argue for the veracity of Vedic myths, glorify ancient and medieval Hindu rulers, recast the independence movement as a violent battle led largely by Hindu chauvinists, demand loyalty to the state, and praise the policies of the BJP prime minister, Narendra Modi.


Modi’s Full Court Press in India

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attending the swearing-in ceremony for the new chief justice of the Supreme Court, Dipak Misra, New Delhi, August 28, 2017

The behavior of the current chief justice has called into question once again the independence and credibility of the Supreme Court. In April, when opposition parties sought to impeach Misra—the first such attempt in Indian history—they listed five allegations against him, including involvement in a pay-to-play scheme, the falsification of official documents, and behind-the-scenes manipulation of sensitive cases. The outcomes of these cases have favored either Misra personally or the BJP. Narendra Modi’s ruling party seems to have learned from the clumsy overreach of Indira Gandhi’s Congress. His government has delicately combined professing horror at the past episode of arbitrary rule with creeping authoritarianism on its watch.

The Vanishing City

Moviegoers gather at the entrance to the Roxy Theatre in New York, 1935

Today in New York there are more than 1,300 individual landmarks, and 114 historic districts encompassing some 33,000 landmarked properties. Other landmarked sites include about a hundred lampposts, seven cast-iron sidewalk clocks, three Coney Island amusement park rides, and a Magnolia grandiflora tree planted in Brooklyn in 1885. How this came to be is shown by a revealing new exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York, “Saving Place: 50 Years of New York City Landmarks.”