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6 June 2019
... given a great deal of money to the BJP of their own accord. If Congress isn’t to be a busted flush it needs at the very least to get rid of its dynasty. The magic has gone. But are modernisers like ShashiTharoor and others capable of formulating a different vision for India? At the moment it looks unlikely. Elsewhere regional parties continue to rule the roost. In three Indian states – Karnataka ...


Ferdinand Mount: Staffing the Raj

6 September 2017
Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India 
by Shashi Tharoor.
Hurst, 295 pp., £20, March 2017, 978 1 84904 808 8
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The Making of India: The Untold Story of British Enterprise 
by Kartar Lalvani.
Bloomsbury, 433 pp., £25, March 2016, 978 1 4729 2482 7
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India Conquered: Britain’s Raj and the Chaos of Empire 
by Jon Wilson.
Simon & Schuster, 564 pp., £12.99, August 2017, 978 1 4711 0126 7
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... a waste of shame. ‘Our imperial destiny’ was now as ripe for ridicule as the mumbo-jumbo of Christianity. Strachey argued that the Raj was bad for Britain and the British. In Inglorious Empire, ShashiTharoor argues, with equal passion, that it was much worse for India and the Indians. In 1700, when the British were mere traders clinging on to a few coastal toeholds, the Emperor Aurangzeb ruled ...

How to Escape the Curse

Wendy Doniger: The Mahabharata

8 October 2009
The Mahabharata 
translated by John Smith.
Penguin, 834 pp., £16.99, May 2009, 978 0 14 044681 4
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... they no longer know what the right thing is. Whenever the Mahabharata is told or retold, the ethical and religious questions that it raises are given new, contemporary meanings. In 1989, the diplomat ShashiTharoor retold the Mahabharata as The Great Indian Novel, in which the heroes are recast as thinly veiled forms of Gandhi, Nehru, Indira Gandhi and others. (The hero Karna, who, in the Sanskrit ...

In the Waiting-Room of History

Amit Chaudhuri: ‘First in Europe, then elsewhere’

24 June 2004
Provincialising Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference 
by Dipesh Chakrabarty.
Princeton, 320 pp., £42.95, October 2000, 0 691 04908 4
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... a very long unofficial history. It’s embodied in jokes and throwaway remarks such as the one Gandhi made when asked what he thought of Western civilisation: ‘I think it would be a good idea.’ ShashiTharoor is having a dig at historicism when he says, in The Great Indian Novel, ‘India is not an underdeveloped country. It is a highly developed country in an advanced state of decay ...

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