Now and Then is a column about how our cultural, political and social histories are interwoven into our current day experiences. Now and Then also examines how the issues of the day often present themselves in recursive patterns. Jaya Padmanabhan is a journalist, and author of the collection of short stories titled Transactions of Belonging. She was the editor of India Currents from 2012 to 2016.

Not My History?

Not My History?

In the December 22, 1941 issue of Life magazine there is an article titled “How to Tell Japs from the Chinese.” A Chinese public servant and a Japanese warrior are presented to the reader and the racial differences between the two are explicitly highlighted. The...
What is the Best Speech You’ve Ever Heard?

What is the Best Speech You’ve Ever Heard?

Recently, a friend asked me what I considered the best Barack Obama speech and it took me an instant or two to respond decisively with “the race speech.” It wasn’t as though I recalled many of the details, but I did remember the timbre of Obama’s voice as he talked...
Motherhood, Sequence and Success

Motherhood, Sequence and Success

Have you heard of the success sequence? Even if you haven’t, you might have unwittingly been adhering to the sequence. It’s a social rationalization theory given new life by a study published in the American Enterprise Institute and Institute for Family Studies by W....
Memories of a Forbidden Love Story

Memories of a Forbidden Love Story

My aunt passed away recently. She was 88 years old. She was born at a time when India was gestating her freedom from British occupation and Pakistan was not yet a fetus. My aunt arrived into a world of Hitler, Stalin, Tamaka Giichi, Ramsay MacDonald, Kemal Ataturk and...
Eating Spaghetti With Your Hands

Eating Spaghetti With Your Hands

When Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, visited America in September 2016, he made a point of remarking that he believes in “integration” and not “assimilation.” “People shouldn’t have to drop their cultures and traditions when they arrive in our cities and countries,”...
The Forgotten Tale of Shikhandi

The Forgotten Tale of Shikhandi

The stories that inhabit the Vedas and epics are “whispers of God” says Devdutt Pattanaik as he opens his book Jaya, a retelling of the Mahabharata. It’s true. These books present a startlingly clear vision of the now from the ancient then. The authors of the stories...