As we crawl out of 2020’s clutches and enter a new year, one can’t help but recall the dizzying experience that these past months were. Very few generations in modern history must have witnessed a global disruption of this scale or even reckoned with a graver challenge to how we understand modernity itself.

So far-reaching have the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic been that despite extensive media coverage, surveys, scientific studies and varied forms of soul-searching, we are yet to fully grasp the effects of this 21st century virus on our collective existence.

One thing, however, is crystal clear – there is a profound paradox in 2020.

It was a year of gloom, devastation and hopelessness for billions around the world. Yet, for many others, 2020 brought hope and the possibility of a different, more empathetic and morally just world. From rekindling the flame of socioeconomic justice and turning it into a wildfire to rejecting men in power whose day job is to incite and divide, 2020 showed us what the politics of resistance can achieve.

2020 also told us that come what may, the good amongst us will continue to thrive and make sure others thrive. Amidst the stifling lockdowns and debilitating quarantine regimes, somewhere, we discovered that our reticent next door neighbour or the seemingly pompous colleague or that cheeky friend who can’t stop talking is also a mighty-hearted humanitarian who would walk the extra mile and risk an infection to feed and clothe the needy.

In short, 2020 was a year of stagnancy, but it was also a year of revolution – revolution not just in the streets, but also in our hearts.

We thank you for sharing all or part of the year with us. Here are the 20 of our most-read articles from 2020, a list that exists only because of readers like you who stopped by us. We at Eleventh Column hope you have a meaningful, happy, healthy and revolutionary 2021!

  1. The Monday That Shook the Indian Economy | Debdulal Thakur on India’s largest-ever GDP crash.
  2. Brokeback Republic? Abdullah Anzorov, Claude Sinké, and Police Violence in ‘Secular’ France | Akshat Jain critically apprehends the dominant narrative around the Samuel Paty murder in France and recalls the history of police violence in the country.
  3. In Rhea Chakraborty, Misogynist India Found Thomas Hardy’s Rhoda Brook | Sutputra Radheye on how India found a perfect scapegoat in Rhea Chakraborty after the death by suicide of her partner and actor, Sushant Singh Rajput.
  4. #BlackLivesMatter: What the French Revolution Tells Us About Destruction of Statues | Tasha Bluewin Joseph on how acts of desecration can have political import.
  5. Far From a ‘Black, Feminist Icon’: Behind Kamala Harris’ Media Image | Sai Sreshta Ladegaam goes beyond the carefully-crafted rosy media image of US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
  6. The Warrior from Nyarong Is No More: An Ode to Tibet’s Rebel ‘Mother’, Ama Adhe | Palden Sonam Gangchenpa remembers the iconic Tibetan freedom fighter, Ama Adhe, who passed away in Dharamsala earlier this year.
  7. The Closure of Assam’s Iconic Paper Mills Have Pushed Workers To the Brink | Kukil Gogoi on how the shutdown of Assam’s iconic paper mills in Nagaon and Cachar have left hundreds of workers in the lurch.
  8. Bhojpur Movement: Why Bihar’s Communist Project Is Still Seen From the Tinted Lens of ‘Violence’ | Harshvardhan on how the CPI(ML)-Liberation is still seen as a ‘violent’ party in a one-sided reading of history.
  9. Decision to Drop Odisha’s KISS University as a Co-Host of World Anthropology Congress 2023 Is Deeply Misplaced | Bhabani S Nayak on how the World Anthropology Congress’ decision to drop Odisha’s KISS University as the venue partner killed an opportunity to expose indigenous students to critical knowledge systems.
  10. The Myth of ‘Secular’ Anti-CAA Protests in Assam | Suraj Gogoi and Abhinav Borbora explain why the anti-CAA movement in Assam was far from secular.
  11. From Kuhn to Foucault: Probing the Complex Relationship Between Science and Society | Tridib Mukherjee probes the philosophical moorings of ‘scientific temper’.
  12. Why Is It Difficult to Implement Minimum Wages Act in India? | Dr Kingshuk Sarkar explains how implementation of minimum wages legislation in India remains hamstrung by a host of systemic and practical challenges.
  13. Protests Abound as Uttarakhand Prepares To Slash 10,000 Trees To Expand Dehradun Airport | Eva Badola‘s report on mass protests against the Uttarakhand government’s decision to slash 10,000 trees to expand Dehradun’s Jolly Grant Airport.
  14. Myanmar’s Ruling Party Is Trying To Win the National Elections Even Before Polling Starts | Khin Zaw Win writes about how the NLD tried to tilt the odds in its favour before Myanmar’s general election in November.
  15. Predatory Journals, Pressure To Publish: Academic Research Is Getting Murkier | Debdulal Thakur on how academia is buckling under the pressure of sloppy and ‘quick’ research.
  16. The Sinister Politics Behind Assam Education Board’s Syllabus Cutdown | Daisy Barman on how AHSEC’s deletion of chapters on caste, women’s equality, minority rights and others reflect the Hindutva regime’s twisted political agenda.
  17. ‘Hindu Unity’ a Facade, Hindutva Is Nothing More Than an Upper Caste, Neoliberal Capitalist Project | Bhabani S Nayak on how Hindutva only caters to the upper caste neoliberal order, and not to all social classes as it claims.
  18. Despite Bigotry and Discrimination, Sikhs Continue to Fight for Dignity in US Politics | Tridivesh Singh Maini maps the political past and present of Sikh leaders in the United States.
  19. The Air India Deal is an Exemplar of Silly Laissez-Faire Economics | Vaidushya Parth argues that the Indian government’s eagerness to privatise India’s national carrier is reckless and irrational.
  20. The Relevance of Kant and Rawls During COVID-19 | Prakhar Raghuvanshi on how the ethical explorations of Immanuel Kant and John Rawls can help us navigate through the ongoing pandemic.

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