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A pundit is a person who offers to mass media his or her opinion or commentary on a particular subject area (most typically political analysis, the social sciences, technology or sport) on which he or she is knowledgeable (or can at least appear to be knowledgeable), or considered a in said area. The term has been increasingly applied to popular media personalities. In certain cases, it may be used in a derogatory manner as well, as the political equivalent of ideologue.
The term originates from the Sanskrit term pandit ( पण्डित), meaning "knowledge owner". It refers to someone who is erudite in various subjects and who conducts religious ceremonies and offers counsel to the king and usually referred to a person from the Hindu Brahmin caste but may also refer to the Siddhas, Siddhars, Naths, Ascetics, Sadhus, or Yogis.
From at least the early 19th century, a Pundit of the Supreme Court in Colonial India was an officer of the judiciary who advised British judges on questions of Hindu law. In Anglo-Indian use, pundit also referred to a native of India who was trained and employed by the British to survey inaccessible regions beyond the British frontier.
Josef Joffe's book chapter The Decline of the Public Intellectual and the Rise of the Pundit describes a change in the role of public experts and relates to developments in the audience and the media itself. One of the problems related to expertise is the rapid amount of specialisation and knowledge, especially strong in the American universities. While in the 1960s, political science had just 5 subdisciplines, the number had increased to 104 by 2000. In the second half of the 20th century, foreigners like Hannah Arendt or Jürgen Habermas and others gained a certain position in the US as public intellectuals due to the (over)specialization of US academics.
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