Carpets Red and Green, Hindustan Times [Sunday, July 20th, 2014]

Shortly after the Trinamool Congress came to power in West Bengal, I was invited to speak at a university convocation in that state. I flew in the day before the event, and was met at Kolkata airport by the university’s Registrar. A three hour drive to our destination followed. I was then taken on a [...]

 
 
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  Paranoia and Triumphalism, The Telegraph [Saturday, July 12th, 2014]

In his recent book, History in the Making, J. H. Elliot makes an interesting distinction between two different kinds of nationalist ideologies. On the one hand, there is the ‘chosen nation’ syndrome, where a country is said to have special ‘spiritual, biological, [or] racial’ characteristics’ that shall make it dominant in global affairs. On the [...]

 
 
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  Four Lankan Masters, The Telegraph [Saturday, June 28th, 2014]

In forty years of watching international cricket, one of the absolute highlights was an innings I saw by the stocky Sri Lankan Duleep Mendis. This was at Delhi’s Ferozeshah Kotla ground, in the first week of November 1975. Sri Lanka, who had not yet been awarded Test status, were touring India, and playing the North [...]

 
 
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  The Poet as Prankster, The Telegraph [Saturday, June 14th, 2014]

It was the late D. R. Nagaraj who first told me about Siddalingaiah’s autobiography. We were at Koshy’s Parade’s Café in Bangalore, nursing our respective drinks (rum in his case, coffee in mine), when I said that Indian autobiographies, even the best ones, tended to be too serious. One couldn’t remember a single joke or [...]

 
 
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  The Forgotten Gujarati Prime Minister, The Hindustan Times [Sunday, June 8th, 2014]

During the election campaign, Narendra Modi said several times that he wished Vallabhbhai Patel had become India’s first Prime Minister. In Patel’s memory, he promised to built a ‘Statue of Unity’ grander than the Statue of Liberty itself. Mr Modi never spelt out why he admires Patel so much. I suppose it is because the [...]

 
 
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  The Rise and the Fall of the Nehru-Gandhis, The Telegraph [Saturday, May 17th, 2014]

In 1906, an Allahabad lawyer named Motilal Nehru wrote to his son Jawaharlal, then a student at Harrow: ‘I think I can without vanity say that I am the founder of the Nehru family. I look upon you, my dear son, as the man who will build upon the foundations I have laid and have [...]

 
 
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  In The Presence of Greatness, The Telegraph [Saturday, January 25th, 2014]

Two friends recently praised me for my ‘bravery’: one when I suggested that the Congress should look beyond the dynasty; another when I called Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri stooges of the Board of Control for Cricket in India. In truth, both were rather ordinary and obvious things to say, requiring neither special knowledge nor [...]

 
 
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  Our Best and Worst Prime Ministers, The Telegraph [Saturday, January 11th, 2014]

In his recent press conference, Dr Manmohan Singh said he would leave it to history and historians to judge his tenure as Prime Minister. This column provides an interim verdict, by assessing his record against that of other men and women who have held the post. Let’s begin with our first and longest-serving Prime Miister. [...]

 
 
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