In His New Book, Professor Vinay Lal Places Covid in a Grand Historical Context

Vinay Lal (Illustration: Saurabh Singh) EVER SINCE HE wrote an op-ed in The Los Angeles Times in 1998 titled Coming Out from Gandhi’s Shadow following India’s nuclear tests, Vinay Lal has earned a preeminent position as a public intellectual. His keen observations as a historian on Hindu nationalism, Indian movies, American foreign policy, history writing in India, society, people … Continue reading In His New Book, Professor Vinay Lal Places Covid in a Grand Historical Context

“Harappans Would Have Scoffed at Attempts to Make them Vegetarians”

Over the years, Nayanjot Lahiri has earned widespread acclaim as one of India’s finest historians. An authority on ancient India, archaeology and heritage, she is currently Professor of History at Ashoka University. Lahiri, an award-winning author of books as stellar as Pre-Ahom Assam, Finding Forgotten Cities, Marshalling the Past: Ancient India and its Modern Histories, … Continue reading “Harappans Would Have Scoffed at Attempts to Make them Vegetarians”

On the 1925 Dialogue Between Mahatma Gandhi and Sree Narayana Guru

FOR SOMEONE RENOWNED FOR HIS crisp and brief speeches, Mahatma Gandhi was destined to make one of his relatively long speeches, by his standards of course, at the Sivagiri Mutt in Varkala, which was then home to Sree Narayana Guru, one of Kerala’s foremost social reformers, on March 13th, 1925. Guru, a life-long proponent of … Continue reading On the 1925 Dialogue Between Mahatma Gandhi and Sree Narayana Guru

Nayanjot Lahiri: The Time Keeper

FOR THE SERIOUS academic historian that she is, Nayanjot Lahiri, author of works as stellar as Ashoka in Ancient India and Finding Forgotten Cities: How the Indus Civilization was Discovered, has reason to contend, perhaps with a slight sense of guilt, that her latest work is a “light-hearted” one. Or perhaps more than guilt, it could be her … Continue reading Nayanjot Lahiri: The Time Keeper

Manuscripts That Survived Al-Qaeda Reveal the Medieval Glory of Timbuktu

ONE OF THE ‘Timbuktu Manuscripts’ on display at Ajanta Hall, National Museum, is an 18th-century volume on sexology which promises to be an elaborate treatise on physical intimacy between man and woman, perhaps an African Kamasutra. The statement beneath announces that its author Ghidado bin Ahmad discusses in these pages ‘life and relationship between men and women … Continue reading Manuscripts That Survived Al-Qaeda Reveal the Medieval Glory of Timbuktu

Arcot: The Prototype of Divide-And-Rule

WHEN THE CURRENT prince of Arcot, Mohammed Abdul Ali, called on Pranab Mukherjee soon after he became President in mid-2012, the Congress veteran and former Union minister welcomed him to Rashtrapati Bhavan with a gleeful remark: “It is because of you people that British ruled India.” Ali didn’t say a word but grinned because he … Continue reading Arcot: The Prototype of Divide-And-Rule

Tariq Ali Resurrects Lenin from the Distortions of History (Book Review)

The Dilemmas of Lenin: Terrorism, War, Empire, Love, Revolution | Tariq Ali | Verso | 384 Pages | Rs 1,750 SOVIET-ERA PUBLICATIONS have for long offered us a highly truncated picture of Vladimir Lenin. Besides those endless hagiographies, I remember reading one book that was slightly different for the age before the fall of the … Continue reading Tariq Ali Resurrects Lenin from the Distortions of History (Book Review)