Image for post
Image for post
Hindu men from a rightwing youth organisation camapign for the 2019 Indian national election with a banner that splashed a photograph of Yogi Adityanath, chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, alongside Hindu gods and godesses. Photo: Zia Haq

By Zia Haq

Tana and bana, loosely warp and weft, aren’t just two basic hand movements to turn the thread at the loom. One runs the yarn vertically and the other breadthwise. With successive movements, an ornamental paisley appears on the silk fabric, shining under the coppery last rays of a fading late afternoon sun.

This is the famous Benarasi silk sari in the making; it’s is a long traditional garment of fine silk and intricate embroidery worn by Indian women. Finer and heavier saris are worn on special occasions, especially weddings.

In the world of the Banarasi silk industry…


Everyone has heard of E=mc² but hardly anyone, save for science graduates, knows what it really means. Science writer David Bodanis tells its story in a brilliant part-social history, part-science gem, enthralling from the word go. Review by Zia Haq

BOOK: E=mc² A Biography of the World’s Most Famous Equation by David Bodanis (Pan Macmillan)

Image for post
Image for post

Many have romped through Einstein’s life in remarkable biographies, but it struck none that E=mc² had a riveting life story of its own. There can be no mistaking that this is not a biography of Einstein, but of his most famous discovery, the theory of…


A mosque in Deoband, a Muslim religious centre in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
A mosque in Deoband, a Muslim religious centre in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
A mosque in Deoband, a centre for Islamic scholarship in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. Photo by author.

Zia Haq

Jehirul Islam, a coronavirus patient, made a final call on April 10 from his hospital bed in Maharashtra’s Akola to his family in faraway Assam. He sounded grim, fearing something he imagined to be far worse than dying of Covid-19.

The next day, hospital staff found him dead, his throat slit, in an apparent suicide.

“He was worried he won’t be able to make it back home and that, if he were to die, his body would be cremated, rather than buried in a Muslim cemetery,” his brother Moinul Islam said from Singimari, a village in central Assam’s…


Image for post
Image for post
Paddy fields in Assam, an easternmost province in India. Photo: Zia Haq

New Delhi: Farmers’ protests in many Indian states due to bumper crops and low prices may have escalated since 2016, but India’s agriculture sector hasn’t been generating enough revenues to keep farmers profitable for nearly two decades now, a global exception, a study by OECD-Icrier has shown.

The study looked at previously unmeasured set of indices, including gross receipts – or revenues – to the farm sector to draw that conclusion. Quite simply, agriculture in India suffers negative total revenues. In other words, assets going out of the sector are more than those flowing in. …


Image for post
Image for post
Late afternoon, Tel Aviv: (Photo: Zia Haq)

TEL AVIV: On the wooden deck of Tel Aviv’s revamped seafront, Bayit Banamal, the good times roll.

Too much faith has taken too much toll. So Israelis play up their swank, secular side. Beaches are bustling. Restaurants never empty. There’s nothing Israelis love more than killing time in cafés, as if it were a national pastime. Making love. Chatting up. Having fun. Even doing office time from chairs laid outdoors of lovely, small eateries.

A vantage point to soak the Mediterranean’s breathtaking beauty, Bayit Banamal is Tel Aviv’s portside boardwalk. Boisterous, but not deafening. Chuckle, laughter, crying babies, sleeping babies…


Cultural and religious symbols can both be sacred and offensive. Sensibilities surrounding them are so manifest that, often, constitutional law has had to affirm or negate such symbols, mainly to address their attendant social tensions.

As an enduring Hindu cultural symbol, the cow has been a source of tension between Hindus and Muslims; has been put to bellicose use and sometimes even served as an agenda for nation building.

Judicial pronouncements have not only offered protection to the cow, but also validated a broadening of its scope and extending its application, as in Gujarat.

One of the main sources for…

The Quest by Zia Haq

I do explanatory journalism; much of it on the economy. World Bank accredited. Associate Editor at the Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India. Twitter: @ziahaq

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store