Biography
Biography presents word-portraits of a range of fascinating or forgotten individuals in India and beyond.
  The Struggles Of A Muslim Modernizer, The Telegraph [Saturday, July 8th, 2017]

In different but complementary ways, the debate on triple talaq, and the debate on cow slaughter, both demonstrate the medievalist mindset of modern India. Why, when even the Islamic Republic of Pakistan has abolished the pernicious practice of triple talaq, has India not done so? Largely because the leadership of Indian Muslims is in the [...]

 
 
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  What Champaran Meant To Gandhi, The Telegraph [Saturday, April 15th, 2017]

A hundred years ago this week, Mohandas K. Gandhi arrived in the district of Champaran in north Bihar. He spent several months in the district, studying the problems of the peasantry, who had been forced by European planters to cultivate indigo against their will. Farmers who refused to meet this obligation had their land confiscated. [...]

 
 
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  A Contemporary View Of Nehru and Patel, Hindustan Times [Saturday, November 5th, 2016]

My home town, Bengaluru, has the country’s best second-hand bookstores. For decades now, they have sustained me in a personal and professional sense, providing materials for my bed-time reading as well as rare documents for my research. In one of these stores I recently picked up an old book that served both purposes. This was [...]

 
 
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  A Privileged Peep Into Gandhi’s Inbox, The Telegraph [Saturday, October 1st, 2016]

Mohandas K. Gandhi’s own writings are well known to the world: through a series of books and anthologies under his name that appeared in his lifetime; and, more authoritatively and substantively, through the ninety-seven volumes of the Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, published between 1958 and 1994, and put together and lovingly edited by a [...]

 
 
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  How Gandhi’s Martyrdom Saved India, Hindustan Times [Sunday, February 1st, 2015]

On the 31st of January 1948, a former Indian Civil Service officer named Malcolm Darling, then living in retirement in London, wrote in his diary: ‘Gandhi was assassinated yesterday. … Very difficult to say what will happen, but it is as if a ship has lost its keel. Further disintegration seems inevitable, and what happens [...]

 
 
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  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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  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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  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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