Good Husband Better Man, The Telegraph [Saturday, December 27th, 2014]

Wives of famous men do not always get their due from historians and biographers. Lincoln, Lenin, Churchill, De Gaulle, Lee Kuan Yew— the women they married and whose sacrifices enabled their work are scarcely known to posterity. What is true of politicians is usually true of writers as well. We read and admire Kalidasa, Goethe, [...]

 
 
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  Why Uttar Pradesh Must Be Broken Up, Hindustan Times [Sunday, December 7th, 2014]

‘Commissions of enquiry are often the stock-in-trade of governments to defuse crises and buy themselves time’. Thus writes the historian Gyanesh Kudaisya, in an excellent introduction to a new edition of the Report of the States Reorganization Commission, first published in 1955. The States Reorganization Commission (hereafter SRC) was set up in response to persistent [...]

 
 
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  Religious Faith- Devilish and Divine, The Telegraph [Saturday, November 29th, 2014]

I write this on a day when the front page of the newspaper reports that a Cabinet Minister has visited Rajasthan to consult an astrologer. Meanwhile, a back page photograph in the same paper shows the most powerful man in cricket preparing to enter a famous and well endowed temple in Kerala. The Cabinet Minister [...]

 
 
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  Nehru The Spiritualist, The Telegraph [Saturday, November 15th, 2014]

In an important essay published some years ago, Sunil Khilnani argued that ‘Nehru was a politician without religious faith, but in possession of the deepest moral sense. He tried to develop a morality without the fall-back of religion, and while having to act under the compulsions of wielding power.’ That Nehru was sceptical of religion [...]

 
 
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  How The Mehtas Conquered Manhattan, Hindustan Times [Sunday, November 9th, 2014]

There is a rich literature on how the culture of modern cities has been nourished by immigrants from other countries. Books have been written on how American writers (from Ernest Hemingway and Richard Wright on to James Baldwin and Edmund White) did some of their best work in Paris. Other books explain how London was [...]

 
 
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  Nehru and Patel, Hindustan Times [Sunday, October 12th, 2014]

The best biography of Vallabhbhai Patel was written by Rajmohan Gandhi. Based on full access to Patel’s own papers, it is a rich account of his life and struggles, set against the context of the historical forces which shaped them. Rajmohan Gandhi’s Patel: A Life, was first published in March 1991. The preface, written in [...]

 
 
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  How Congress Lost the Diaspora, Hindustan Times [Sunday, September 28th, 2014]

In April this year I was in Houston, which has a large Indian community. I had dinner with a group of NRIs, and we spoke about the 16th General Elections. I was told a hundred college students and professionals from Houston had gone to India to campaign. How many for the Bharatiya Janata Party, I [...]

 
 
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  The Indian Path to Unsustainability, The Telegraph [Saturday, August 9th, 2014]

In her recent book Green Wars, the environmental journalist Bahar Dutt writes: ‘The editor of a leading media house, everytime I pitched a green story, would invariably complain: “Environmentalism is stalling growth; all I am interested in is double-digit growth for this country”’. The idea that environmental protection and economic progress are at odds is [...]

 
 
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  The Past and Future of the Congress Party, Hindustan Times [Sunday, August 3rd, 2014]

In the year 1970, Rajni Kothari published a major book with the straightforward title, Politics in India. The bulk of the book was devoted to the then dominant Congress party. Kothari argued that before and after Independence, the Congress was successful in presenting itself as the ‘authoritative spokesman of the nation as well as its [...]

 
 
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  History Beyond Marxism and Hindutva, The Telegraph [Saturday, July 26th, 2014]

In October 1984, I got my first academic job, at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences in Kolkata (then Calcutta). A week after I joined, a friend from Chennai (then Madras) sent me a petition on the plight of Tamils in Sri Lanka, which he hoped some of my colleagues would sign. The first [...]

 
 
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