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One of the world's most ancient cultures, India can be understood and explained in as many ways as humans can possibly devise. To make sense of this astonishing turmoil of ideas, Sunil Khilnani has created a remarkably simple and attractive solution. In this book (which accompanies a major Radio 4 series which he is narrating) he takes the lives of 50 Indians, starting with the Buddha, some very famous, some more obscure, from the earliest records to the present day, and in a series of short chapters describes what makes them so surprising, curious or important. These are not simply history lessons, but stories rooted in today's India, as Khilnani goes on a quest across contemporary India to find the living traces of these extraordinary individuals.
For all of India’s myths, stories and moral epics, Indian history remains a curiously unpeopled place. In Incarnations, Sunil Khilnani fills that space, recapturing the human dimension of how the world’s largest democracy came to be. His trenchant portraits of emperors, warriors, philosophers, film stars and corporate titans—some famous, some unjustly forgotten—bring feeling, wry humour and uncommon insight to dilemmas that extend from ancient times to our own.
An entertaining and provocative account of India’s past, written by one of the country’s leading thinkers For all of India’s myths, its sea of stories and moral epics, Indian history remains a curiously unpeopled place. In Incarnations, Sunil Khilnani fills that space, recapturing the human dimension of how the world’s largest democracy came to be. His trenchant portraits of emperors, warriors, philosophers, film stars, and corporate titans—some famous, some unjustly forgotten—bring feeling, wry humor, and uncommon insight to dilemmas that extend from ancient times to our own. As he journeys across the country and through its past, Khilnani uncovers more than just history. In rocket launches and ayurvedic call centers, in slum temples and Bollywood studios, in California communes and grimy ports, he examines the continued, and often surprising, relevance of the men and women who have made India—and the world—what it is. We encounter the Buddha, “the first human personality”; the ancient Sanskrit linguist who inspires computer programmers today; the wit and guile of India’s Machiavelli; and the medieval poets who mocked rituals and caste. In the twentieth century, Khilnani sets Gandhi and other political icons of the independence era next to actresses, photographers, and entrepreneurs. Incarnations is an ideal introduction to India—and a provocative and sophisticated reinterpretation of its history.
An entertaining and provocative account of India's past, written by one of the country's leading thinkers For all of India's myths, its sea of stories and moral epics, Indian history remains a curiously unpeopled place. In Incarnations, Sunil Khilnani fills that space, recapturing the human dimension of how the world's largest democracy came to be. His trenchant portraits of emperors, warriors, philosophers, film stars, and corporate titans--some famous, some unjustly forgotten--bring feeling, wry humor, and uncommon insight to dilemmas that extend from ancient times to our own. As he journeys across the country and through its past, Khilnani uncovers more than just history. In rocket launches and ayurvedic call centers, in slum temples and Bollywood studios, in California communes and grimy ports, he examines the continued, and often surprising, relevance of the men and women who have made India--and the world--what it is. We encounter the Buddha, "the first human personality"; the ancient Sanskrit linguist who inspires computer programmers today; the wit and guile of India's Machiavelli; and the medieval poets who mocked rituals and caste. In the twentieth century, Khilnani sets Gandhi and other political icons of the independence era next to actresses, photographers, and entrepreneurs. Incarnations is an ideal introduction to India--and a provocative and sophisticated reinterpretation of its history.
THE IDEA OF INDIA was originally published to mark the 50th anniversary of India's independence and has since established itself as a uniquely valuable and authoritative book on a key subject. At the heart of India's self-image since independence has been 'the idea of India' - modern, technocratic, egalitarian, secular - but the tensions between the idea and the reality have become almost intolerable. With the legacy of Nehru and Gandhi everywhere under attack and ferociously religious and militant politicians in power has the idea of India lost all meaning?
In 1498, when Vasco da Gama set foot in Kerala looking for Christians and spices, he unleashed a wave of political fury that would topple local powers like a house of cards. The cosmopolitan fabric of a vibrant trading society - with its Jewish and Arab merchants, Chinese pirate heroes and masterful Hindu Zamorins - was ripped apart, heralding an age of violence and bloodshed. One prince, however, emerged triumphant from this descent into chaos. Shrewdly marrying Western arms to Eastern strategy, Martanda Varma consecrated the dominion of Travancore, destined to become one of the most dutiful pillars of the British Raj. What followed was two centuries of internecine conflict in one of India's premier princely states, culminating in a dynastic feud between two sisters battling to steer the fortunes of their house on the eve of Independence. Manu S. Pillai's retelling of this sprawling saga focuses on the remarkable life and work of Sethu Lakshmi Bayi, the last - and forgotten - queen of the House of Travancore. The supporting cast includes the flamboyant painter Raja Ravi Varma and his wrathful wife, scheming matriarchs of 'violent, profligate and sordid' character, wife-swapping court favourites, vigilant English agents, quarrelling consorts and lustful kings. Extensively researched and vividly rendered, The Ivory Throne conjures up a dramatic world of political intrigues and factions, black magic and conspiracies, crafty ceremonies and splendorous temple treasures, all harnessed in a tragic contest for power and authority in the age of empire.
Reaching as far back as ancient times, Ronojoy Sen pairs a novel history of IndiaÕs engagement with sport and a probing analysis of its cultural and political development under monarchy and colonialism, and as an independent nation. Some sports that originated in India have fallen out of favor, while others, such as cricket, have been adopted and made wholly IndiaÕs own. SenÕs innovative project casts sport less as a natural expression of human competition than as an instructive practice reflecting a unique play with power, morality, aesthetics, identity, and money. Sen follows the transformation of sport from an elite, kingly pastime to a national obsession tied to colonialism, nationalism, and free market liberalization. He pays special attention to two modern phenomena: the dominance of cricket in the Indian consciousness and the chronic failure of a billion-strong nation to compete successfully in international sporting competitions, such as the Olympics. Innovatively incorporating examples from popular media and other unconventional sources, Sen not only captures the political nature of sport in India but also reveals the patterns of patronage, clientage, and institutionalization that have bound this diverse nation together for centuries.

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