The Poison of Partisanship

The Telegraph

Earlier this year, I was discussing partisanship in Indian politics with a friend from Bangalore temporarily based in Boston. In no other democracy, I suggested, did the two major parties use such vile language about one another. When the Government of India chose to allow foreign direct investment in the retail sector, the Chief Minister of [...]

Good Man Good Artist

The Telegraph

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, and [...]

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 [...]

No Game for Good Men

The Telegraph

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 some [...]