Ramachandra Guha's Blog

May 13, 2016

I belong to a family of doctors trained in modern or Western medicine. Back in the 1980s, the doctors I was related to, or friends with, were all sceptical of alternative forms of health care. They had no time for homeopathy, ayurveda or acupuncture, no time even for yoga. Over the decades their attitudes have changed. They now see the benefits of herbal treatments, and occasionally of acupuncture too. They are often very enthusiastic about yoga, especially when treating respiratory disorders...

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Published on May 13, 2016 22:05 • 89 views

May 7, 2016

A once great but now mostly forgotten Bangalorean was Mirza Ismail. A distinguished Dewan of both Mysore and Jaipur, in those princely states he reformed and modernized the administration, beautified their capital cities, and emphasized modern education. In both Jaipur and Mysore, there are roads named after him, as well as charming markets that he had built.

Mirza Ismail was a close friend and admirer of Mahatma Gandhi’s. After Gandhi’s remarkable fast for peace in Calcutta in September 1947...

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Published on May 07, 2016 21:52 • 102 views

April 29, 2016

The achievements of the Parsis are well known. A community numbering some 70,000 people has produced some of India’s greatest patriots (Dadabhai Naoroji, Bhikaji Cama); its most prominent and philanthropically oriented business houses (the Tatas, the Godrejs); its finest scientists (Homi Bhabha); its most respected lawyers (Nani Palkhivala, Fali Nariman); its most admired writers (Rohinton Mistry); and its best loved cricketers (Polly Umrigar, Farokh Engineer).

The Parsis came to India fleein...

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Published on April 29, 2016 21:18 • 103 views

April 10, 2016

On the last day of March, a friend of mine, temporarily in London, wandered into a pub. It was night in India, but afternoon in England, so there were just the odd drinker around. My friend persuaded the pub’s owner to switch the channel to Sky Sports, so that he could watch the World T20 semi-final.

The request was acceded to. My friend ordered a beer, sat down on a school, and began watching the match. The customer next to him was an English lady in her thirties. ‘Who is India playing?’, sh...

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Published on April 10, 2016 11:02 • 141 views

March 26, 2016

At its recent meeting, the National Executive of the Bharatiya Janata Party passed a political resolution, a passage of which read: ‘Our Constitution describes India as Bharat also, [hence] refusal to chant victory to Bharat is tantamount to disrespect to our Constitution itself. Bharat Mata ki Jai is not merely a slogan. It was a mantra of inspiration to countless freedom fighters during the independence struggle. It is the heartbeat of a billion people today. It is the reiteration of our co...

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Published on March 26, 2016 10:45 • 108 views

March 20, 2016

As Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi was known to run a tight ship. He was in total command of his Cabinet, and interacted regularly with senior civil servants. He had some special areas of focus; such as attracting new investment, building better roads, and assuring regular water and power supply to farmers. In these areas, he made a fetish of his accessibility, giving investors his cell number in case they had problems with babus on the ground.

As Prime Minister of India, however, Na...

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Published on March 20, 2016 09:39 • 138 views

January 31, 2016

Unlike the airport in my home town, Bengaluru, or the airports in two cities I visit often, Mumbai and Delhi, the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose airport in Kolkata is run not by a private firm but by the Airports Authority of India. This must be why, unlike in Bengaluru, Delhi or Mumbai, as one approaches the security check counters of the Kolkata airport, one is confronted by a sign-board listing all those who are exempt from frisking and having their bags x-rayed.

So far as I recall—I haven’t b...

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Published on January 31, 2016 08:53 • 102 views

January 23, 2016

In March 1937, Mahatma Gandhi published an article entitled ‘Need for Tolerance’. This was in response to a letter he had received from a Muslim friend. This man, a liberal and sceptic, wondered why, when referring to the Prophet Muhammad or the Koran, Gandhi never analysed them critically. ‘I am at a loss’, he wrote, ‘to understand how a person like you, with all your passion for truth and justice, who has never failed to gloss over a single fault in Hinduism or to repudiate as unauthentic t...

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Published on January 23, 2016 10:04 • 61 views

January 8, 2016

Our Prime Minister likes coining slogans and acronyms. There was Swachh Bharat and Make in India, then Beti Padhao Desh Badhao. Now there is Start up India, Stand Up India. The Planning Commission has become the N[ational] I[nstitution] for T[ransforming] I[ndia]. I am sure the second part of NITI AAYOG must also lead to something deep and profound; perhaps Advanced and Analytical Yearning for Overall Growth? I do not know what the SMART in Smart Cities stands for, but I do know that—as the P...

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Published on January 08, 2016 19:33 • 287 views

January 3, 2016

I have a decent head for names, dates, places, events, but can remember few snatches of poetry. Truth be told, there are only two pieces of verse that I have committed to memory. Both are very short. The first is this Kabir doha that I learnt in my junior school in Uttar Pradesh some fifty years ago:

Kankar pathar jodi ké masjid liyé chunayé
Ta chadi mulla bang dé, kya behara hua khudhai

Or, in crude translation,

With stones and mud you lovingly made a mosque
But why then yell from it, do you...

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Published on January 03, 2016 08:38 • 40 views

Ramachandra Guha's Blog

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