The Asian Balance was a monthly column I wrote for Business Standard between 2010-2017. It was devoted to chronicling and interpreting the unfolding geopolitics of East Asia. At a time when New Delhi’s strategic antennas were focused on the continental boundaries, this column was an unabashed advocate of Looking East far beyond the Straits of Malacca, arguing that “rebuilding the economic, cultural and political relationships that India historically shared with the countries and the peoples to its East has never been more important to our future than it is today.”
As a person who entered the public policy space from the internet and telecommunications industry, I am trying to bridge the two worlds. In the mid-2000s I could already sense that internet penetration and social media were impacting politics in unexpected ways. At the time, however, I was more keen to study the emerging, but classical international politics of a shift in the global balance of power. But in recent years I have been drawn back into thinking about information, technology, networks and their effect on human cognition, and thus on politics. My writings reflect the evolution of my own thinking on these subjects.
In 2010-2011 Prem Panicker and Amit Varma invited me to write a regular column on Yahoo! India. Pax Indica took a strongly realist line on foreign policy and anticipated some of the profound developments that would take place in the decade. These columns have some of my earliest published writings on China, Indo-Pacific and maritime policies.
Democracy is popular. Liberal democracy less so. The difference is that in the latter there are restrictions on the will of the majority, put in place to protect individual freedom. That democracy can descend into the tyranny of the majority and is inherently vulnerable to populism was well-known even to the Greeks. Among the various methods invented to protect liberty from democracy, the Republic is most modern. I am a strong defender of a system where individual rights are constitutionally protected, where political power is diffused among state institutions and where the supreme judiciary’s primary role is protecting constitutional order. These are some of my writings on the topic.
My weekly column in The Print is currently on a hiatus. Here I write about contemporary issues of public policy, international relations, defence and technology. Within the demands of a weekly column on current affairs I attempt to bring in policy dimensions rather than partisan political ones. I wrote over a 100 articles over two years, and will put them up here over time.
My fortnightly column for Mint is titled The Intersection because it connects developments in three or more areas. Usually these cover technology, geopolitics, geoeconomics and global policy issues. All my columns are archived here.
I briefly wrote a column for The Hindu between 2015-2016 generally on the theme of liberal nationalism.
More than economics and the economy I am interested in economic reasoning. In applying insights from economics to public policy and indeed, to much of daily life. The following posts indicate my thinking on economic issues or on the economics of issues.
I use the tag geopolitics to cover international relations, foreign policy, diplomacy, military strategy and geo-economics. The following posts cover my thinking on these topics.
Between September 2019 and August 2020, I wrote an almost monthly column for the Sunday edition of the Deccan Herald. Every short essay is based on a real discussion that took place in the Pai household. Although it says debates with my daughters, the son and wife were as much part of the conversations. The dog, as I said, does not debate. That does not stop me from counting him on my side of the argument.
I think “education” is a broad, expansive term and is about the knowledge that a person needs to live a good life in a good society. This includes learning both the stock of knowledge in various domains, techniques of learning and developing the capability to use reason to inform decisions. The posts in this section cover some of my thoughts about this topic.
I started Pragati — The Indian National Interest Review in April 2007 to address what I saw as a yawning gap in the public discourse in India. A high-quality monthly magazine focused on public policy , it was a precursor to the Takshashila Institution. We relaunched it in 2017 under Amit Varma’s editorship and again in 2019 in the podcast format. It is now part of Takshashila’s popular daily All Things Policy podcast. I will post all the older articles sometime in the future.