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Tata Lit Fest: Writers, thinkers and the spirit of debate in Mumbai

Come November, over 130 celebrated writers and thinkers from some 30 countries will converge at Mumbai’s biggest international literary festival, Tata Literature Live!

The illustrious first line-up for the seventh edition of the festival includes names like Amitav Ghosh, the Indian novelist who has examined the perils of ignoring climate change in his new book, The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable; Nicholas Shakespeare, literary critic and descendant of William Shakespeare; John Gray, political philosopher and author of False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism; Ramachandra Guha, Indian historian and Padma Bhushan recipient; and Simon Armitage, the sardonically witty British poet, famous for the dramatisation of the Greek epic, The Odyssey.

“A literary festival in what is probably the world’s most vibrant city is sure to be hugely exciting. I very much look forward to it. I’ve had some memorable conversations in Mumbai. I’m looking forward to more,” said Amitav Ghosh about the festival which is set to sweep the city of Mumbai from 17-20 November. Read more

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Tata Literature Live festival: Talks, performances to feast on from November 17

Over 130 writers and thinkers like John Gray, Amitav Ghosh, Simon Armitage and former finance minister, P Chidambaram will be a part of the seventh edition of the Tata Literature Live! festival from November 17-20.

The festival will be held at two venues — the NCPA and Prithvi Theatre. Those listed for this edition include Nicholas Shakespeare, literary critic and descendant of William Shakespeare; John Gray, political philosopher and author of False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism; Ramachandra Guha, Indian historian and Padma Bhushan recipient; Simon Armitage, the sardonically witty British poet, famous for the dramatisation of the Greek epic poem The Odyssey; former minister and writer, Jairam Ramesh, Girish Karnad, Keki Daruwalla, Kiran Nagarkar and Jayant Narlikar, besides Gulzar and Karan Johar. Read more


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Art Matters: Bangalore’s Festival of Literature

he Bangalore Literature Festival 2014 or BLF, held between September 26 and September 28, was dedicated to litterateur UR Ananthamurthy, who passed away recently. Authors like Girish Karnad, Chandrashekhara Kambar, Arun Shourie, Leila Seth, Gulzar, Ramachandra Guha, Nayantara Sehgal and Jerry Pinto participated in this year’s festival. Continue reading


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Ramachandra Guha awarded honorary degree by Yale University

ramchandra guhaAt their commencement ceremony yesterday, Yale University awarded 12 honorary degrees to individuals who have achieved distinction in their fields.  Indian writer and historian Ramachandra Guha was one of those honoured, according to a press statement by Penguin Books India.

Alongside acclaimed individuals including Nobel Laureates Daniel Kahneman and Ahmed Zewail, and Timothy Berners-Lee, Guha was made a Doctor of Humanities.  President Peter Salovey’s citation when awarding the degree stated:

“As a sage voice of progressive India, you are a leading public intellectual. Your work is brilliant and varied in its scope.  You are an incisive essayist of your country’s vibrant and clamorous politics and society, a renowned historian of modern India, and the definitive biographer of Gandhi. Whether writing about cricket or commenting on contemporary Indian life, you capture the spirit of your nation and its past, while opening new understandings of its present and the promise of its future. As a gifted teacher, you have shared your talents with us at Yale, and we are delighted to have you return to campus, this time as Doctor of Humanities.” Continue reading


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A conversation with: Indian historian Ramachandra Guha

Gandhi before IndiaBasharat Peer interviews Indian historian Ramachandra Guha on his book Gandhi Before India: NYT

Guha: I found that most of the academic literature on Gandhi is based on his own writings. It is very important for a biographer to work with multiple sources. I went around researching Gandhi, I found a lot of interesting writings about Gandhi scattered in the archives around the world.

I was struck that Gandhi’s years in South Africa were under-researched, little known, a whole host of fascinating material about the secondary characters I have written about in this book, the larger historical context, how Indians were placed between the Africans and the British. One of the reasons that the South African period was not covered was that Indian scholars were not allowed there during the apartheid.  When I went to South Africa and looked at the colonial archives there, I found an immense amount of material about Gandhi’s early life. It is really half his life. He lived in South Africa till he was 45. That was when I decided to write a whole book about Gandhi’s time in South Africa.

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The Man Who Would Be Mahatma

Gandhi before IndiaInterview with Ramachandra Guha on Gandhi Before India: Open Magazine

“There’s lots and lots, including the characters—they’re very important. I wrote a piece in the Financial Times times two weeks ago, [‘Gandhi’s Formative Years’, 20 September 2013] which… was about the laws of biographical writing. One of the laws I’ve arrived at through my studies is that a biography is only as good as its portrait of the secondary characters. And the secondary characters of his South African phase are incredibly fascinating in their own right. They shape and mould him too, but they are forgotten. We know about the characters of his Indian phase; we know about his political followers like [Vallabhbhai] Patel and [Jawaharlal] Nehru, his spiritual followers like Mira Behn [Madeline Slade], and his antagonists like [Muhammad Ali] Jinnah and [BR] Ambedkar. Continue reading


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Ramachandra Guha on ‘Gandhi Before India’

Gandhi before IndiaQ&A with Author and historian Ramachandra Guha on his book Gandhi Before India

Author and historian Ramachandra Guha is a leading authority on Indian history and has just published a new work chronicling the life of Mohandas Gandhi before he became the Mahatma.

In “Gandhi Before India,” Mr. Guha explores the time the leader of India’s independence movement spent in London and South Africa and argues that those years shaped him and produced his philosophy of non-violence.

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