THE PUNJAB TRADITION, The Hindu [Sunday, December 7th, 2008]

I write this the morning after I attended a tabla recital by a man who must be close to being the best tabalchi of our age, Yogesh Samsi. Although I admire Samsi’s art (and craft), I remain unconvinced that his instrument can do its work without the endorsement alongside of a voice, sitar, sarod, flute, [...]

 
 
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  RENEWING THE POLICE, The Telegraph [Saturday, December 6th, 2008]

On a sunny Sunday this past September, a friend and I were walking in central London, headed towards the south bank of the Thames. We were enjoying the scenery and the weather, when, at a road running along St. James’s Park, we came across thousands of men, women, and children on bicycles. So far as [...]

 
 
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  CAMUS AND AMERICA, The Hindu [Sunday, October 26th, 2008]

In the spring of 1946, Albert Camus visited the United States for the first time. He came at the invitation of his American publisher, Alfred Knopf. Like some other French writers he had profoundly ambivalent feelings about this rising superpower. On the one hand, he was attracted to the drive and ingenuity of the Americans; [...]

 
 
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  THE TRIPLE TRAGEDY OF THE INDIAN MUSLIMS, The Telegraph [Saturday, October 25th, 2008]

An influential editor from Delhi, visiting Bangalore, hosted a dinner for some local politicians, and invited me along. Among the netas present was the Karnataka Youth Congress president, the spokesman for H. D. Deve Gowda’s Janata Dal (Secular), and an office-bearer of the Bharatiya Janata Party. The conversation turned to the history of communal violence [...]

 
 
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  TRIBAL TRAGEDIES, Hindustan Times [Thursday, October 23rd, 2008]

Fifty years ago, in October 1958, Jawaharlal Nehru wrote a short note explaining what the state’s policies towards the tribals of India should be. He urged that tribal rights in land and forest be protected, that tribal arts and culture be respected and renewed, that the tribals themselves be involved in their own administration (thus [...]

 
 
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  THE CERTITUDE OF CONQUERORS, The Hindu [Sunday, October 12th, 2008]

I have been reading A. N. Wilson’s book After the Victorians, a survey of British social and political life in the first half of the twentieth century. Unlike some other British historians, Wilson is aware of the fact that at this point in time his country had an empire. His book thus moves between developments [...]

 
 
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  A FORGOTTEN BENGALI HERO, The Telegraph [Saturday, September 27th, 2008]

Nothing gives the historian greater joy than to discover an individual significant in his time but forgotten in our own. I was thus very pleased to have brought, to the attention of the present generation, the achievements of a Bengali mathematician-turned-civil servant named Sukumar Sen. He is one of the heroes of my book India [...]

 
 
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  RAJIV RE-ASSESSED, Hindustan Times [Saturday, September 13th, 2008]

I think it was Voltaire who said that while we can flatter the living, the dead deserve nothing less than the truth. I recalled that injunction when reading Vir Sanghvi’s tribute to the late Rajiv Gandhi (Remembering Rajiv, HT, Sunday 7th February). This praises Mr Gandhi as a compassionate visionary who helped heal the wounds [...]

 
 
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  THE IMPURITY OF CULTURES, The Hindu [Tuesday, September 9th, 2008]

In the 1950s, inspired by Jawaharlal Nehru, some very brilliant young Indians went into the Foreign Service. Among them was the Rhodes scholar Peter Lynn Sinai. A former Ambassador to Austria and Iraq, Mr Sinai has now chosen to make his home in Bangalore. At a dinner recently, I got talking to him, to discover [...]

 
 
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  MYTHS AND BORDERS, The Hindu [Sunday, August 17th, 2008]

Foreign dignitaries who come to India almost always fly in to the nation’s capital, New Delhi. In April 2005, however, the Prime Minister of the Peoples’ Republic of China chose first to visit my home town, Bangalore. The Chinese Ambassador to India explained this reversal of procedure by saying that now ‘the “B” of business [...]

 
 
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