Historians and Newspapers, The Telegraph [Saturday, December 28th, 2013]

For a very long time, historians of modern India relied largely on government records—printed as well as unpublished. Files of different departments, deposited in state and national archives, were the staple source for the writing of dissertations, research papers, and monographs. Some historians innovatively tapped the private papers of politicians and social reformers; others reached [...]

 
 
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  The Cricketing Traditions of Gandhi’s Kathiawar, The Telegraph [Saturday, November 30th, 2013]

When, in September 1888, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi travelled to London to study law, he was carrying letters of introduction to four people. One was Kumar Shri Ranjitsinhji, who also hailed from Kathiawar. Gandhi did not meet Ranji then, nor did the two come across each another in subsequent decades, when one became a major political [...]

 
 
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  The Man Who Knew Almost Everything, The Nation [Saturday, November 30th, 2013]

Eric Hobsbwam, Fractured Times: Culture and Society in the Twentieth Century. Little, Brown and Company. 213. Pp xv+319. I first read Eric Hobsbawm as a doctoral student in Kolkata in the 1980s. I started with his books on popular protest, Primitive Rebels (1959) and Bandits (1969), before moving on to his trilogy on the ages, [...]

 
 
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  Nehru’s Nationalism – and Ours, The Telegraph [Saturday, November 16th, 2013]

One of the books I read as a boy was the autobiography of the mountaineer Tenzing Norgay. I grew up in Dehradun, in a home with fine views of the lower Himalaya. From the nearby hill station of Mussoorie—which we visited often—one could see the great snow peaks of Nanda Devi, Trishul, and Bandar Poonch. [...]

 
 
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  Gandhi’s English Housemates, The Independent [Saturday, October 26th, 2013]

In April 1931, Mohandas K. Gandhi attended an inter-faith meeting in Bombay. He had just been released from one of his many terms in prison. Now, while listening to Christian hymns and Sanskrit slokas, he had as his companions the Admiral’s daughter Madeleine Slade (known in India as Mirabehn) and the Oxford scholar Verrier Elwin. [...]

 
 
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  Some African Gandhians, The Telegraph [Saturday, October 5th, 2013]

I have been reading the memoirs of the Kenyan novelist Ngugi Wa Thiong’o. Here Ngugi writes of how, as a little boy in the 1940s, he saw pictures of a mysterious bespectacled man in the shop of an Indian merchant near his village. A schoolteacher told Ngugi of who that man was and what he [...]

 
 
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  Politicians and Pluralism, The Telegraph [Saturday, September 7th, 2013]

Indian pluralism was always hard won. The riots during Partition produced an enormous sense of insecurity among India’s minorities. Mahatma Gandhi’s death, by creating a sense of shock and outrage, allowed Jawaharlal Nehru’s Government to isolate extremist Hindus, and bring the mainstream towards a more moderate, inclusive, plural sense of what it meant to be [...]

 
 
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  Development or Destruction?, The Telegraph [Saturday, August 24th, 2013]

Thirty years, a group of students from Delhi University went on a long walking tour of the Narmada Valley. The journey was arduous, and it was not undertaken for pleasure. The students wished to study, at first-hand, ‘the possible environmental impact of the massive hydroelectric and irrigation complex planned for the Valley, and to see [...]

 
 
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  The Poison of Partisanship, The Telegraph [Saturday, June 29th, 2013]

Earlier this year, I was discussing partisanship in Indian politics with a friend from Bangalore temporarily based in Boston. In no other democracy, I suggested, did the two major parties use such vile language about one another. When the Government of India chose to allow foreign direct investment in the retail sector, the Chief Minister [...]

 
 
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  Good Man Good Artist, The Telegraph [Saturday, June 15th, 2013]

I first heard of Sunil Janah in 1980. I was then much taken with the work of the British-Indian anthropologist Verrier Elwin. A friend in Kolkata, the green activist Bonani Kakkar, said that if I was interested in Elwin I must meet her mamu, who had worked closely with him. However, I was visually illiterate, [...]

 
 
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