/Longer Essays

Longer Essays features a selection of Guha’s more reflective and extended articles (5,000 words or more) on history and politics.  

Indira Gandhi and the Indian Emergency

The Hindu (published in June 2000 on the 25th Anniversary of the Emergency)

‘I had always believed that Mrs Gandhi had no faith in democracy, that she was by inclination and conviction a dictator. This belief has tragically turned out to be true’. Jayaprakash Narayan, prison diary, entry of 22 July 1975 ‘I have no more powers than I had before’. Indira Gandhi, in an interview with NBC, 24 [...]

By |2019-04-03T10:41:03+00:00July 11th, 2015|Categories: Politics and Current Affairs, Longer Essays|

Traveling With Tagore

Penguin Classics

Rammohan Roy was able to assimilate the ideals of Europe so completely because he was not overwhelmed by them; there was no poverty or weakness on his side. He had ground of his own on which he could take his stand and where he could secure his acquisitions. The true wealth of India was not hidden [...]

Where Are The Conservative Intellectuals in India

Caravan (March 2015)

There is a paradox at the heart of Indian public life today: that while the country has a right-wing party in power, right-wing intellectuals run thinly on the ground. This makes India an exception among the world’s established democracies. The United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany all have a long lineage of first-rate intellectuals on [...]

Wealth and Power in Modern India

New Republic

Book Review of "Capital: The Eruption of Delhi", Rana Dasgupta, Penguin Press. I The novelist and critic U. R. Ananthamurthy once said that India lives simultaneously in the twelfth and the twenty-first centuries. He might have added: and all the centuries in-between. No city better exemplifies Ananthamurthy’s maxim than the country’s capital, Delhi. The three port [...]

By |2015-01-28T22:15:28+00:00January 6th, 2015|Categories: Culture, Longer Essays|Tags: , , , |

A Nehruvian in China


The first Chinese intellectual I knew of was named Fei Xiaotong. The year was 1980, and I was beginning a doctoral degree in sociology in Kolkata. The city was hostile to my discipline, largely because its intellectual culture was Marxist-dominated and Maoist-infested. Those who read Marxism mechanically allowed that the disciplines of history, economics, and political [...]

By |2013-07-08T12:27:10+00:00June 7th, 2013|Categories: Politics and Current Affairs, Longer Essays|Tags: , , |

Democracy and Violence: in India and Beyond

Economic and Political Weekly

In about a year’s time, the citizens of India will vote in their sixteenth General Elections. The last such exercise, held in May 2009, showcased a bewildering variety of parties and politicians. Some 700 million adults were eligible to vote; about 400 million actually voted, to choose five hundred and forty-three members of the national Parliament. [...]

By |2013-04-06T23:09:17+00:00April 6th, 2013|Categories: Politics and Current Affairs, Longer Essays|

Indians Great Greater Greatest?

The Hindu

I... Nations need heroes, but the construction of a national pantheon is rarely straightforward or uncontested. Consider the debate in the United States about which faces should adorn the national currency. The founding figures of American Independence—Jefferson, Washington, Hamilton, Madison, and Franklin—are all represented on the dollar bill, albeit on different denominations. So are the 19th [...]

A Partisan History of the Oxford University Press

Caravan Magazine

In the 1990s, I spent many weeks in what must, or at any rate should be, every Indian’s favourite city—Bombay, a city whose depth of history and richly lived (and intensely felt) cosmopolitanism is in such stark contrast to the even-tempered blandness of my own home town, Bangalore. I would go there twice a year, in [...]


Times Literary Supplement

In the third week of September 1909, The Illustrated London News published a withering attack on the idea of Indian nationalism. Its author was G. K. Chesterton, who was then writing a weekly column for the magazine. The Catholic novelist was not especially known for his interest in Britain’s colonies; indeed, this may have been his [...]

By |2011-11-30T11:19:38+00:00August 12th, 2010|Categories: Longer Essays|Tags: , , , , |



Not long ago, I found myself in a panel discussion on television with three politicians. One was a Congress Member of Parliament, a second an MP from the Bharatiya Janata Party, the third the President of one of the smaller regional formations. In the course of the conversation I found reason to criticize the three netas [...]