/Biography

Biography presents word-portraits of a range of fascinating or forgotten individuals in India and beyond.

THE LIVING LEGACY OF SANJAY GANDHI


The Telegraph

The only time I have been less than sorrowful at a premature death was when Sanjay Gandhi perished in an air crash. He was truly a nasty piece of work. Having dropped out of the Doon School, and then dropped out of an apprentice scheme in the Rolls Royce factory in the United Kingdom, he used [...]

By |2011-11-30T19:43:20+00:00September 11th, 2010|Categories: Biography|Tags: , , , , , , |

THE ECUMENICAL MARXIST


The Telegraph

The great German sociologist Max Weber once made an important distinction between universities on the one side and religious seminaries and political parties on the other. Seminaries and parties upheld a particular ideology, and made it mandatory for their members to believe in it. Howewer, universities were emphatically not centres of indoctrination. Its professors could not, [...]

MERCHANDIZING GANDHI


Hindustan Times

In twenty years of studying Gandhi, I have had, as friends and advisers, three brothers who grew up in a flat in Connaught Place owned by the Hindustan Times (of which paper their father was then the editor). They all went to the same school (Modern) and college (St. Stephen’s), and all had a deep scholarly [...]

THE ABSENT CELEBRANT


The Telegraph

It is well known that when India became free on the 15th of August 1947, Mahatma Gandhi declined to join the festivities in New Delhi. While his follower Jawaharlal Nehru spoke in the Council Hall about India’s tryst with destiny, and the crowds danced on the streets outside, Gandhi was in Calcutta, seeking to restore peace [...]

FAITH AND FREEDOM


The Telegraph

It is well known that when India became free on the 15th of August 1947, Mahatma Gandhi declined to join the festivities in New Delhi. While his follower Jawaharlal Nehru spoke in the Council Hall about India’s tryst with destiny, and the crowds danced on the streets outside, Gandhi was in Calcutta, seeking to restore peace [...]

NEHRU IN A NOVEL


The Hindu

Arguably the best single-volume study of India’s first Prime Minister is Nehru: A Contemporary’s Estimate, by the Australian diplomat Walter Crocker. This is a book that I have long known (and admired). However, when I met the author’s son recently, he presented me a copy of a lesser known work by his mother, a novel through [...]

By |2011-11-30T19:45:26+00:00May 24th, 2009|Categories: Biography|Tags: , |

SEARCHING FOR CHARLIE


The Telegraph

It was on on my last trip to Kolkata that I went searching for the grave of Charlie Andrews. A friend had told me that it was in a cemetery on Lower Circular Road. I decided to walk there from my hotel in Park Street. Fortunately, it was winter, so the weather was (relatively) mild. More [...]

THE GOOD INDIAN


The Hindu

One of the forgotten figures of Indian journalism is a man named Syed Abdullah Brelvi. Google ‘SA Brelvi’ (as I just did), and all that comes up is a road carrying that name in south Bombay. The road was so named in a more enlightened age, when Mumbaikars were free, and willing, to praise those who [...]

THE GANDHI RESERVOIR


The Hindu

For many years now, my principal teacher on the subject of Mohandas K. Gandhi has been a man who is only incidentally his grandson. To be sure, Gopalkrishna Gandhi does respect and honour the memory of his two grandfathers (the other being C. Rajagopalachari). But his own identity is by no means restricted to the genes [...]

By |2011-11-30T19:46:53+00:00February 1st, 2009|Categories: Biography|Tags: , , , |

THE INDIAN MOTHER’S DREAM SON-IN-LAW


The Hindu

Although I have been a cricket-nut since childhood, and have written several hundred columns on the sport, I count only one Test cricketer—Bishan Singh Bedi—as a friend, and have a passing acquaintance with only a few others. The two letters I have written to cricketers were both addressed to residents of my home town, Bangalore. The [...]