/Biography

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

THE FORGOTTEN PRIME MINISTER


The Hindu

Debates may rage on who was India’s best Prime Minister, but there can be no question of who has been its most unjustly forgotten Prime Minister: Lal Bahadur Shastri. This remains so even in this, the centenary year of his birth. His memory was briefly exhumed on his hundredth birthday, 2 October 2004, when, at a [...]

By |2011-11-16T11:16:59+00:00January 2nd, 2005|Categories: Biography|Tags: , , |

TWO BROWN SAHIBS


The Hindu

In the days when V. S. Naipaul could still bring himself to praise somebody else, he wrote of C. L. R. James’s Beyond a Boundary that it gave ‘a base and solidity to West Indian literary endeavour’. James’s opus, he remarked, was ‘one of the finest and most finished books to come out of the West [...]

A MAN TO MATCH HIS MOUNTAINS


The Hindu

On this, the fifty-seventh anniversary of Indian independence, I wish to write about the Indian of my acquaintance who best combines past with present. He is in his early fifties, his name is Shekhar Pathak, and he lives somewhere in the Himalaya—somewhere, but we do not know exactly where. For he is a gumakkad, a traveller [...]

VIGNETTES OF VAJPAYEE


The Hindu

In the last weeks of 1999, I was the recipient of a phone call from a Delhi bibliophile I knew slightly. The Prime Minister’s family, he said, felt that the time had come to suitably commemorate, in cold print, the life and times of the great man. They had asked the bibliophile, as the best-read person [...]

A VICEROY’S READING LIST


The Hindu

The Oriental and India Office Collections of the British Library house a vast number of manuscript collections relating to India. These include the records of the Secretary of State of India, the correspondence of Viceroys, and the papers of numerous officers of the Indian Civil Service. Other collections deal with the princely states, and with the [...]

CHURCHILL IN BANGALORE


The Hindu

In October 1896 Winston Churchill reached Bangalore, then not a bustling megapolis but a small, sleepy, cantonment town. He liked the climate: ‘the sun even at midday is temperate and the mornings and evenings are fresh and cool’. He liked the house alloted to him: ‘a magnificent pink and white stucco palace in the middle of [...]

By |2011-11-16T11:13:35+00:00December 21st, 2003|Categories: Biography|

ECOLOGICAL PATRIOT


The Hindu

My wife and I were recently discussing people we admired. High on her list was the artist and writer Manjula Padmanabhan. She had just seen Manjula’s evocative graphic ‘Let it Grow’: and had previously read and liked her play Harvest, her illustrated children’s story City Market, and her very adult short story collection, Hot Death, Cold [...]

GANDHI THE JOURNALIST


The Hindu

A hundred years this week, a new weekly made its appearance in Johannesburg. Its raison d’etre, as expressed in the inaugural issue, was that ‘the Indian community in South Africa is a recognized factor in the body politic, and a newspaper, voicing its feelings, and specially devoted to its cause, would hardly be considered out of [...]

THE DARLING OF THE DISPOSSESSED


The Hindu

In April 1996, I joined a group of Indian scholars for a meeting in the southern town of Manipal in memory of Mahatma Gandhi. The inaugural address was by Shivarama Karanth, who spoke of his debates with the Mahatma some sixty years previously, on such varied subjects as sex and spirituality. Among the other speakers were [...]

AMBEDKAR


The Hindu

In April 1996, I joined a group of Indian scholars for a meeting in the southern town of Manipal in memory of Mahatma Gandhi. The inaugural address was by Shivarama Karanth, who spoke of his debates with the Mahatma some sixty years previously, on such varied subjects as sex and spirituality. Among the other speakers were [...]