(This book review was first published by HuffPost India. Since the publication does not exist any longer, I am archiving the review here. This piece was enriched by the feedback I received from my editor Sharanya Hrishikesh.)

“If you try to stop me, I’ll jump out of the car and strip right here!” the manic woman warned the man accompanying her. Having worked with her long enough as her manager, he knew this wasn’t an empty threat… Although it was close to midnight, there was enough traffic on the flyover to ensure that if she did strip, as she was…

(This book review was first published in Business Standard.)

“In the tug of war between the demands of the traditional conception of society and the rights of an individual to their identity and dignity, the Supreme Court has come down firmly in favour of the individual,” writes Saurabh Kirpal, a Delhi-based lawyer who has been practising at the apex court for over two decades now, and is also the editor of a new book titled Sex and the Supreme Court: How the Law is Upholding the Dignity of the Indian Citizen published by Hachette India.

Kirpal was part of the…

(This piece was first published in Business Standard.)

When was the last time you had a meal without using an electronic device for company, either to check notifications from friends and colleagues or to click on items recommended by algorithms for your consumption? What makes social media platforms the default go-to for millions of people looking to kill time, seek validation, or distract themselves from their loneliness? Why is the digital universe so inherently alluring even though the comfort it offers is an illusion, and what it leaves people with is a feeling of restlessness?

If Jeff Orlowski’s new film…

(This piece was first published in Deccan Herald on 20th September 2020. Not Only But Also is a fortnightly column with a fresh take on gender, sexuality and more.)

When you have grown up in Mumbai, like I have, the poetry of the monsoon can hardly leave you untouched. It sinks its teeth into your skin, and memories ooze out. There is beauty in that pathos, and you feel oddly jealous at the sight of a mango tree. Stationed opposite your window, its rain-soaked leaves glisten with perverse fulfilment. …

(This review was first published in Business Standard.)

Parmesh Shahani’s new book Queeristan: LGBTQ Inclusion in the Indian Workplace has all the ingredients of a Bollywood blockbuster. There is a strong emotional core with dramatic tension, foreign locations, background music and special appearances. A cross between memoir and manifesto, it is best described in the author’s own words: “How did a boy from Colaba who grew up in a 250-square-foot room and went to a 7-rupees-a-month SSC school — St. …

(This book review was first published in Business Standard.)

We are in the middle of a rapidly changing discourse around gender and sexuality. Old definitions appear narrow. New vocabularies seem out of reach. The truth of the matter is that multiple realities, often incompatible at first sight, coexist in our present. Journalist Mark Gevisser, based in South Africa, does some excellent stock-taking with his book The Pink Line: Journeys Across the World’s Queer Frontiers (2020) published by HarperCollins India.

He writes, “The notion of LGBT rights was spreading globally at the exact moment that old boundaries were collapsing in the…

(This book review was first published in Business Standard.)

Why would you want to read a book about love? Do you care to learn from people who can theorize about this subject? Are you trying to be a better lover? Do you think that life has passed you by, and you haven’t found your beloved yet? Are you simply curious about the intense, abiding human need to love and be loved? …

(An edited version of this piece was published in Business Standard under the headline ‘A Different Dissent’.)

It is easy to characterize activists as angry, flag-waving troublemakers who oppose everything merely for the sake of drawing attention to themselves but this perception erases the crucial role they play in shaping public policy. Many of them put their physical safety and mental well-being at great risk to hold governments accountable, and ensure that politicians act in accordance with their obligation to serve the people. …

(An edited version of this book review was first published in Business Standard.)

What are the ideas and tools needed to imagine and create the world we want to live in? Can we move from blaming people to scrutinizing arrangements that normalize forms of power and practices of discrimination? Is a wholesale overthrow of dominant structures absolutely necessary for social interventions to have lasting positive effects?

These questions are at the heart of a new book titled Ideas Arrangements Effects: Systems Design and Social Justice (2020). It has been put together by Lori Lobenstine, Kenneth Bailey and Ayako Maruyama at…

(An edited version of this piece was first published in Mid-Day on 22nd February 2020 under the headline ‘Fails to present queer love with sensitivity)

One does not go to Bollywood looking for nuanced representation of queer characters but, when a film markets itself as a crusader against homophobia, it seems fair to hold it accountable. A bare-chested Ayushmann Khurrana wearing a rainbow flag draped as a cape makes for good publicity stills, and is guaranteed to bring in audiences both queer and straight. …

Chintan Girish Modi

Writer, educator and researcher

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