/Tag: Indira Gandhi

Attenborough Revisited

The Telegraph

This week marks the fortieth anniversary of the release of Richard Attenborough’s epic film Gandhi. Attenborough’s papers are located in an archive an hour’s train ride from London. Visiting them recently, I found several files of reviews of the most significant (some would say only worthwhile) film that the director made. They included an assessment in [...]

A Brief History of Cults of Personality

The Telegraph

The term ‘cult of personality’ is thought to have been first used with regard to the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. Stalin died in 1953, after more than two decades in power; three years later, in a speech to the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, his successor Nikita Khrushchev spoke of how [...]

The Forgotten Gujarati Prime Minister

The Hindustan Times

During the election campaign, Narendra Modi said several times that he wished Vallabhbhai Patel had become India’s first Prime Minister. In Patel’s memory, he promised to built a ‘Statue of Unity’ grander than the Statue of Liberty itself. Mr Modi never spelt out why he admires Patel so much. I suppose it is because the Sardar [...]

Our Best and Worst Prime Ministers

The Telegraph

In his recent press conference, Dr Manmohan Singh said he would leave it to history and historians to judge his tenure as Prime Minister. This column provides an interim verdict, by assessing his record against that of other men and women who have held the post. Let’s begin with our first and longest-serving Prime Miister. Jawaharlal [...]

The Man Who Would Rule India

The Hindu

A journalist who recently interviewed Narendra Modi reported their conversation as follows: ‘Gujarat, he told me, merely has a seafront. It has no raw materials—no iron ore for steel, no coal for power and no diamond mines. Yet it has made huge strides in these fields. Imagine, he added, if we had the natural resources of [...]


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 [...]



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 [...]


The Telegraph

Driving down the Mall in Lahore, I saw a large poster mixing familiar faces with those that were less familiar. There was the current Pakistani President, Asif Ali Zardari, wearing spectacles; next to him, but looming larger in the frame, his late wife Benazir Bhutto, her head covered with a chunni. Two others I recognized were [...]


The Telegraph

On my first trip to New York—back in the mid 1980s—I made a visit to the United Nations, an institution then held in somewhat higher esteem than it is now. In the plaza outside a demonstration was in progress. The protesters were Afghan men, their nationality manifest in their dress—they wore flowing pyjamas, a long loose [...]


The Telegraph

In her early years as Congress President, Sonia Gandhi was treated as a political lightweight, by her opponents and independent commentators alike. Her public persona exuded diffidence. She spoke English inadequately. Her Hindi was worse. Her command of both languages was made more imperfect by the thick Italian accent in which the words were couched (and [...]