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Publisher Description

'I call myself a Nehruvian Indian [and] I like to think that the term "Nehruvian Indian" captures more than my own c.v.', says Ramachandra Guha in his Introduction to this sparkling collection of essays. His book is a meditation on how a large area of contemporary India's cultural and intellectual life has in fact been fashioned by exceptional individuals who have, in diverse ways, imbibed the spirit of liberalism, secularism, personal integrity and social commitment—values which Guha associates with both Nehru and Gandhi. Guha's heroes and heroines include environmentalists and social activists, teachers and scholars, scientists and writers, politicians and bureaucrats. Quietly purposeful and publicity-shy figures—such as Chandi Prasad Bhatt (the 'father' of the Chipko Movement) and Satish Dhawan (the 'father' of the Indian space programme)—are described and discussed in finely crafted pieces, as are others whose career and achievements have been more public and prominent—such as Madras's C.Rajagopalachari and Nepal's B.P. Koirala, Karnataka's Shivarama Karanth and New Delhi's Anil Agarwal. Two essays look at the spell cast by Nehru on a couple of Indians who would not normally be thought of in connection with him, namely Nirad C. Chaudhuri and Atal Bihari Vajpayee; a related essay looks at 'ideas of India' in books by writers with cosmopolitan rather than chauvinistic perspectives. Intellectually influential Indians, such as the economic-historian Dharma Kumar, the writer-publisher Sujit Mukherjee, and the pedagogue-critic T.G. Vaidyanathan, are memorably etched in essays on them. So are important journals such as the Economic and Political Weekly and the Indian Economic and Social History Review. Other essays feature influential foreigners, such as theMarxist cricket-writer C.L.R. James, and the revolutionary authoritarians Joseph Stalin of the USSR and V. Prabhakaran of Sri Lanka's LTTE.

March 15
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