Ramchandra Guha | A Historian of Modern India

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His Life: An Eminent Scholar

  • Year 1958 – Born in Dehradun.
  • Year 2009 – Awarded the Padma Bhushan.
  • Year 2011 – Appointed the Philippe Roman Chair of International Affairs and History at the London School of Economics.
  • Year 2011 – Won Sahitya Akademi Award for India after Gandhi.
  • Year 2017 – Stepped down from his position as a BCCI administrator.

In the post-Gandhian war for power the first casualty is decency.”

Ramchandra Guha is an environmental, social, political, contemporary and cricket history researcher. He is also a columnist and has written for papers like The Times of India and Hindustan Times. He has also written for magazines like The Caravan and Outlook.

This is how his childhood has been:

Guha was born on April 29, 1958 in Dehradun, Uttarakhand. His father, Ram Das Guha was the director of the Forest Research Institute and his mother was a school teacher.

Let’s take a look into the personal life of this scholar:

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He studied in the Doon School where he also contributed articles to The Doon School Weekly. After his schooling, he attended St. Stephen’s College in Delhi and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Economics in 1977. Later, he also completed his Master’s in Economics from the Delhi School of Economics.

He is married to Sujata Keshava (graphic designer) and they have two children.

He is a jack of all trades, master of none:

Despite having two degrees in Economics Ramachandra Guha calls himself a failed economist. He abandoned economics and started to take an interest in Sociology before going on to do his Ph.D. on the social history of forests which was later published as The Unquiet Woods. Today he is well-known for being a historian, biographer and his writings about cricket even though he does not have any formal training in these areas. Guha is valued as one of the major historians of the late 20th and early 21st 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.

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Guha then moved to Bangalore and began writing full-time. He served as Sundaraja Visiting Professor in the Humanities at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore in 2003. He 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.

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. Guha is the author of India after Gandhi, published by Macmillan and Ecco in 2007. This book has been translated into Hindi, Telugu, and Bengali. Guha also published a collection of essays titled Patriots and Partisans in November 2012. 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. In 2018, Guha published Gandhi: The Years That Changed the World, 1914-1948, completing his three-volume history of modern India.

He garnered numerous accolades for his works:

In 2003, he won the R. K. Narayan Prize at the Chennai Book Fair and in 2009, he was felicitated with the Padma Bhushan. He won the Sahitya Akademi Award for India after Gandhi in 2011 and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humanities by Yale University in 2014.

In July 2017, Guha stepped down from his position as a BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) administrator citing personal reasons. He has given various speeches on political issues that are publicly available and has given various interviews talking about his viewpoints and life experiences.

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