First Principles

First Principles
Photo by Fares Nimri / Unsplash

India is diverse, different and surprising.

As someone born and brought up in India, it confounds me all the time. Every time I read about caste-based violence in the news, it is treated neither as news nor surprising. Most Indians immediately grasp the context of the occurrence even when the actual castes of the affected people are not mentioned. When a politician is caught in another money-grubbing scandal, it is brushed aside as non-news or considered an outrage depending on where on the political spectrum the person reading falls on.

All of this is confounding to most non-Indians. What is 'caste', why is it still prevalent, and how is this type of violence different from other types of violence?

I tend to think of it from a non-Indian point of view and try to explain the incident to an imaginary non-Indian and simplify enough to provide context. I tend not to explain the historical origins of caste and its effect on the national psyche.

I write this newsletter to explain to a non-Indian the nuances of India.

I write to explain what's bothering India and Indians in the recent past, what's in the news and why is it in the news. I try to write about a particular topic, the people behind India, and the reason why it is the way it is.

I also write about what makes India, its politicians, its fast-growing economy, and its startups, tick. Sometimes I write about whimsical things that only happen in India and about history - things that only happened in India.

It helps me and the rest of us at Translating India, along with our readers, to have a framework on what to write about and how to go about writing it. Here are our simple rules:

Facts, not opinions

This might seem like a losing cause but I think with enough oversight and self-reflection we can put together a newsletter with statements supported by facts instead of opinions. Wherever possible we shall try to explain India through facts instead of figures. When an opinion is needed to explain India, we will clearly mark it as an opinion or identify it as such through language.

Not For Indians

India and Indians have enough news sources. We will write for an outsider keenly looking in. We will not assume that everyone knows a little bit about India, we will assume that the reader doesn't know anything about India or has a bare perfunctory introduction to India.

Straight News When Possible, Opinions When Not

Apart from putting facts and figures first, we will provide news as they appear with an unopinionated introduction and a link to reputable news sites to provide additional context. To provide additional context, we might have a neutral-opinioned introduction, failing which we will provide an opinion. All of this will be clearly marked where possible or evident from the language.

Reputable Sources

Most Indian news sources fall on the spectrum of 'fully-bought-and-paid-for' by a political party or 'mildly-leaning-towards' a political party. Most of them are owned by one business house or the other. There are no truly unbiased sources. We will provide context on the source being provided and mark it with what we perceive to be their bias.

These are the principles by which we hold ourselves accountable.

Do write to us to help us understand how we can be better, what we have done wrong, and what we should correct. We appreciate all constructive feedback