Ramachandra Guha’s talk is based on and around his new book ‘Democrats & Dissenters’. Democrats and Dissenters is a work of rigorous scholarship on topics of compelling contemporary interest, written with elegance and wit. The book covers a wide range of themes: from the varying national projects of India’s neighbours to political debates within the country itself, from the responsibilities of writers to the complex relationship between democracy and violence. It has critical assessments of the work of Amartya Sen and Eric Hobsbawm, and essays on the tragic predicament of tribals in India—who are, as Guha demonstrates, far worse off than Dalits or Muslims, yet get a fraction of the attention—as well as on the peculiar absence of a tradition of conservative intellectuals in India. Each essay takes up an important topic or an influential intellectual as a window to explore major political and cultural debates in India and the world.
Ramachandra Guha, Historian, Author and Columnist
Mr Guha is a historian and writer whose research interests include environmental, social, political and cricket history. He is a columnist for The Telegraph and Hindustan Times. A regular contributor to various academic journals, Guha has also written for The Caravan and Outlook magazines.
For the year 2011–2012, he held a visiting position at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), the Philippe Roman Chair in History and International Affairs.
His newest book is Gandhi Before India (2013), the first part of a planned two-volume biography of M. K. Gandhi. His large body of work, covering a wide range of fields and yielding a number of rational insights has made him a significant figure in Indian historical studies, and Guha was valued as one of the major historians of the late twentieth and early twenty first centuries.
Between 1985 and 2000, he taught at various universities in India, Europe and North America, including the University of California, Berkeley, Yale University, Stanford University and at Oslo University (Arne Naess chair, 2008), and later at the Indian Institute of Science. During this period, he was also a fellow of Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin in Germany (1994–95).
Guha is managing trustee of the New India Foundation, a nonprofit body that funds research on modern Indian history.
Guha was appointed the Philippe Roman Chair of International Affairs and History at the London School of Economics for 2011–12, succeeding Niall Ferguson.
Guha has authored the chapter The VHP Needs To Hear The Condemnation Of The Hindu Middle Ground in the book Gujarat: The making of a tragedy, which was edited by Siddharth Varadarajan and published by Penguin (ISBN 978-0143029014). The book is about the 2002 Gujarat riots.
Guha is the author of India after Gandhi. In October 2013, he published Gandhi Before India, the first part of a planned two-volume biography of Mahatma Gandhi which describes life from his childhood to the two decades in South Africa.
Awards and recognition
• Padma Bhushan for 2009, India’s third highest civilian award.
• 2011 Sahitya Akademi Award for India after Gandhi.
• The US magazine Foreign Policy named him as one of the top 100 public intellectuals in the world in May 2008. In the poll that followed, Guha was placed 44th.
• He won the R. K. Narayan Prize at the Chennai Book Fair in 2003.
• “A Corner of a Foreign Field” was awarded the Daily Telegraph Cricket Society Book of the Year prize for 2002.
• In 2014, Guha was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humanities by Yale University
Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize, 2015