|Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha|
|Assumed office |
25 April 2016
|Born||3 October 1955|
Kolkata, West Bengal, India
|Political party||Bharatiya Janata Party|
|Spouse(s)||Reshmi Ray Dasgupta|
|Residence||New Delhi, India|
|Alma mater||St. Stephen's College, Delhi (BA)|
SOAS University of London (MA, PhD)
Nuffield College, Oxford (Post-doctoral Fellow)
|Occupation||Journalist, Writer, Political analyst|
|Awards||Padma Bhushan (2015)|
Swapan Dasgupta (born 3 October 1955) is an Indian conservative journalist and a presidential nominee to the Rajya Sabha (India's Upper House of Parliament). He is an influential conservative writer, writing columns espousing Hindu nationalism for leading English dailies.
Early life and education
He was born into a Bengali Baidya Brahmin family on 3 October 1955 in Calcutta, West Bengal. He received his early education at St. Paul's School, Darjeeling, La Martiniere Calcutta and St. Stephen's College, Delhi, graduating from the latter in 1975. He thereafter went on to earn an MA and PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, where he received an exhibitionership to fund his studies. Subsequently, he returned to India for a brief period in 1979 to take up a management position at his family’s pharmaceutical business ‘Calcutta Chemical Company’. He eventually returned to the United Kingdom as a Junior Research Fellow at Nuffield College, University of Oxford, where he taught and researched on South Asian Politics. An excerpt from his thesis concerning the intersectionality of local politics in the Midnapur district of Bengal has featured in a volume about subaltern studies, edited by Ranajit Guha.
Personal life and ideologies
Despite being initially attracted to Trotskyism, Dasgupta became a Thatcherite in his days at England. Since then, he has self-identified with centre-right politics and has been heavily active in the national political theater, as a member of Bharatiya Janata Party. Mushirul Hasan noted him to be the effective chief-spokesperson of BJP in the English language press during the 90s. Arvind Rajagopal saw this shift to BJP to immediately arise after the implementation of Mandal Commission recommendations along with the near-simultaneous Rathyatra by Advani, which Dasgupta held to be a potential event that can bridge the internal divide among Hindus.
Dasgupta has served in editorial positions over several English dailies in India including The Indian Express, The Times of India, The Statesman, India Today et cetera. He is a frequent guest on news channels in English-language debates on Indian politics and international affairs. He wrote a foreword to an anthology titled Nirad C. Chaudhuri: The First Hundred Years: A Celebration, wherein he asserted Chaudhuri of having pro-BJP stances.
In February 2015, Swapan Dasgupta was appointed on the Board of Directors of Larsen and Toubro as a nominee of the Unit Trust of India. In April, 2016, Dasgupta was nominated by the President of India Pranab Mukherjee to the Rajya Sabha. His term would continue till 2022. These appointments have though attracted criticism from other commentators as a reward for political allegiance. He stepped down from Directorship of Larsen and Toubro upon being appointed to the Rajya Sabha.
In 2019, he published Awakening Bharat Mata: The Political Beliefs of the Indian Right.
Meera Nanda notes him to be one of the most prominent center-right public intellectuals in the Indian polity. Tanika Sarkar et al have located parallels between Swapan's writings and the thought-school of Hindu nationalist organisations like Vishva Hindu Parishad. Manisha Basu, writing in The Rhetoric of Hindu India, deems Dasgupta similarly and further notes of his consistent attacks upon left-liberal commentators—people who have supposedly leveraged their social privilege to dominate the socio-political consciousness of the "Anglophone national bourgeoisie" for long enough—in his process of becoming one of the few self-appointed interpreters of the Indian Right.
Basu also notes him to be a vocal exponent of exploiting English as a tool in reaching out to the masses and substituting the appeal of prevalent ideologies of the socialist left-liberals with that of hindutva; he was one of the most fierce critics of the pro-vernacular policies followed by the communist government of West Bengal. Back in the early 2000s, Dasgupta had noted in his blog:-
The Right is an endangered community in India’s English-language media. I happen to be one of the few to have retained a precarious toe-hold in the mainstream media.
Arvind Tajagopal notes Dasgupta to be one of the most vocal and enthusiast columnists for Hindutva, in English language press in the 80s.
Basu observes Dasgupta's ideas of a functioning democracy to heavily derive from the attacks on the inadequacies of political liberalism by Nazi jurist Carl Schmitt; it ran parallel to consensual nationalism and strove for the establishment of a cohesive nationalistic unification coupled with the throttling of any dissenting narrative, as a necessary prerequisite for any parliamentary process. Dasgupta then proceeds to draw a synonymous relation of his perspective of democracy with dharma, which he terms as the 'fundamental commonality of democratic expression'. Basu remarks of this translation to allude to his desire of homogeneity across all religious strands and observes a high degree of similarity in the intended effects of Dasgupta's and Jay Dubashi's writings. But, political ambitions had led him to pursue a less radical socio-religious path, wherein he advocated for the exclusioning of BJP from the communalism and anti-minority rhetoric typically associated with 'Hindutva' and re-branding itself as a "market-friendly, pro-defense, socially conservative right-of-center party". Dasgupta has since described of this new brand of Hindutva as an 'ideological veto' in Indian politics.
Economically, Meera Nanda deems him as a proponent of a free-trade capitalistic market within a socially conservative Hindu matrix, who was steadfastly opposed to the Nehruvian thought-school of Marxist Socialism.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Swapan Dasgupta|
- Bal, Hartosh Singh (28 December 2015). "The challenge to Jaitley is a challenge to business as usual in Lutyens' Delhi". The Caravan. Retrieved 3 August 2019.
- Swapan Dasgupta on Twitter
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