Thinking offensively! – The Seminar Magazine

Published in the Seminar magazine:

IF one were to believe the stream of news stories emerging while the dust of 26/11 was just settling, the key functionaries from India’s security establishment were all huddled together in a crisis room of sorts, as the attack was underway, to explore retaliatory options that would send a stern message to the perpetrators. During those tense moments, one of the viable alternatives discussed was undertaking surgical strikes on the safe houses and the training camps of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD). A consensus was almost reached, up until an embarrassing realization that the conventional sources of intelligence active within Pakistan over the years didn’t have the geographical coordinates to facilitate the offensive.

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God Just Left the Gurdwara – Newslaundry

Published by Newslaundry:

A vignette of emotions, centered on a perverse ritual being practiced in a 350-year old Sikh seminary. How a search for the origins of “Chauthey Paurey Wale”, a spiritually sanctioned cussword for the low-caste Sikhs, also unearthed the true story of a folk hero, Bidhi Chand Chhina, in a village so old that it’s said to be the birthplace of Shiva. The mutiny of a renouncer that was Bidhi Chand and the lingering doubts it left about the politics of the Gurus.


THE SUN WAS BARELY OVER the yardarm, but my shopkeeper friends from Guru Bazaar had already bantered away for nearly an hour. The billowing clay oven, from the rundown corner shop across the street, spitted out Ambarsari kulche at a frantic pace, as the passers-by stopped for a quick brunch. Vendors and wayfarers from the nearby villages scouted for early trades, while the market was still waking up to the clanking of steel utensils, being rearranged on the pavements of two prominent stores.


My jaunts and jamborees in the city of Tarn Taran generally began by afternoon, but on an unusually crisp morning of December, we had gathered early at the behest of “Pardhaan” Balbir Singh. Though the slight readjustment of schedules had left everyone anxious and even imparted them with a certain sense of purpose, that group of shopkeepers couldn’t let go the customary tea, stretching the chitchat for so long—as if serious trysting would have taken away all the fun.

Pardhaan glanced at the watch and rose to fetch his bicycle.

Pukhraj ‘Sian’! Ajj tainu kujj kamm de bandeya naal milauna ai, naale o kitaab vi davauni aa!”

(We are meeting some important people today, Pukhraj “Sian”, and I have to get that book for you!)

Careening over the pedals, he addressed me affectionately in a melodic tenor exuding rural rusticity and religiosity. As every muscle on his face contorted to deliver that perfect ‘Duchenne smile’, I couldn’t help but think how Pardhaan ji had always reminded me of the popular folk singer, Pammi Bai. I was quite fond of the old man—a local milk distributor, the elected head of a small city gurdwara and, most importantly, a liberated Sikh who had time-and-again chaperoned me on the social suavities of Punjab’s countryside.
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A Day in the Life of a Sikh Prejudice – Kafila

Originally published by Kafila:

Part I

“The very ink with which history is written,” allegorised Mark Twain, “is merely fluid prejudice.” By that rationale, religion can often be the quill which defaces the truth with its broad strokes, perverting history than promulgating it. And like the bastard child of these perversions, a few counter-narratives manage to wade through the tides of public opinion, carrying the dim outline of the ossified ideas that led to its tragic pursuit. But one has to have the right kind of eyes, says Hunter S. Thompson, to “see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”

A similar, horrid apparition of truth opened the floodgates of memories and angst very recently as a headline screamed through the Twitterverse—40 Sikhs Convert to Christianity in a Tarn Taran District Village: Gurdwara Management’s Treatment of “Low Caste” Sikhs Calls for Strict Action—in the particularly sultry month of August.

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Inside the Media Mafia of Punjab – Abroo

Originally published by Abroo:

“A single sentence will suffice for modern man. He fornicated and read the papers.” — Albert Camus



Trying to make myself comfortable in that dingy conference room, I couldn’t avoid inhaling the pungent and rather soothing smell of newsprint that permeated the place. Situated in a narrow bylane of Jalandhar, this cramped, two-room space acts as the makeshift office of a Punjabi weekly that proudly boasts to be a mouthpiece of the suppressed Dalit voices and the political organization avowing to represent their interests, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

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Fear and Loathing in Dera Ballan – Abroo

Originally published by Abroo:

[Written in a rickety bus on my way back from Dera Ballan. Typographical and other errors may please be notified or excused. Read the Punjabi translation of this article, ‘ਸਿਖ ਧਰਮ ਅਤੇ ਦਲਿਤਾਂ ਦਾ ਹਾਲ: ਡੇਰਾ ਸਚਖੰਡ ਬੱਲਾਂ ਤੋਂ ਇਕ ਰਿਪੋਰਟ.’]

The most striking aspect of the social upheaval being fomented at Dera Sach Khand, Ballan, is the pervasive inconspicuousness; quite obviously so, as it is now the home to the newest religion in Punjab, or probably the whole of India – Ravidassia Dharam – a symbolic act of defiance by the angst-ridden Dalit community that witnessed the assassination of one of its religious leaders, Rama Nand.

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Battle-Ready for the Fifth Dimension: Assessing India’s Cyber-Defence Preparedness – Jindal Journal of International Affairs

Published by the Jindal Journal of International Affairs:

Battle-Ready for the Fifth Dimension:
Assessing India’s Cyber-Defence
Pukhraj Singh*
This article provides a rare behind-the-scenes look at the cyber war and cyber defence
capabilities being developed by various great powers and situates India’s own developments
in this field within the larger context of emerging threats and modernisation of warfare.
The author ascribes the Stuxnet worm of 2010 to be a big eye opener which helped
place India’s cyber security systems on a war footing. He also depicts a future cyber
war scenario in which web-based weapons are integrated into conventional armouries
to achieve the perfect fifth dimension of warfare. The article also describes how experts
and analysts of strategic affairs who are outside the secretive government establishments
dealing with cyber war can contribute to meaningful reforms, institutions and changes
that can facilitate multilateral responses in the form of a global cyber security regime.

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