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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  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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  Historians and Newspapers, The Telegraph [Saturday, December 28th, 2013]

For a very long time, historians of modern India relied largely on government records—printed as well as unpublished. Files of different departments, deposited in state and national archives, were the staple source for the writing of dissertations, research papers, and monographs. Some historians innovatively tapped the private papers of politicians and social reformers; others reached [...]

 
 
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  The Cricketing Traditions of Gandhi’s Kathiawar, The Telegraph [Saturday, November 30th, 2013]

When, in September 1888, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi travelled to London to study law, he was carrying letters of introduction to four people. One was Kumar Shri Ranjitsinhji, who also hailed from Kathiawar. Gandhi did not meet Ranji then, nor did the two come across each another in subsequent decades, when one became a major political [...]

 
 
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  Good Man Good Artist, The Telegraph [Saturday, June 15th, 2013]

I first heard of Sunil Janah in 1980. I was then much taken with the work of the British-Indian anthropologist Verrier Elwin. A friend in Kolkata, the green activist Bonani Kakkar, said that if I was interested in Elwin I must meet her mamu, who had worked closely with him. However, I was visually illiterate, [...]

 
 
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  No Game for Good Men, The Telegraph [Saturday, June 1st, 2013]

I detest wearing a tie, and do so only when forced. One such occasion was a formal dinner at All Souls College, Oxford, where opposite me was an Israeli scholar who had just got a job at the University, and was extremely anxious to show how well he knew its ways and mores. He dropped [...]

 
 
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  A Tendulkar Trophy, The Telegraph [Saturday, January 12th, 2013]

Following the well-attended (and incident-free) one-day series between India and Pakistan—the first since the Mumbai terror attacks of November 2008—the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, Zaka Ashraf, suggested that the two countries play each other regularly, for what might be called the ‘Jinnah-Gandhi’ Trophy. Reading this, I remembered a similar proposal being made, decades [...]

 
 
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  A Year A Londoner, The Telegraph [Saturday, July 28th, 2012]

On the last day of June, I went to the nearest branch of the NatWest Bank and paid the sum of 43 pounds and ninety-four pence, this being the money I owed to the Westminster City Council. With that act I formally ended a year as a bona fide, tax paying, resident of the most [...]

 
 
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