Indira Gandhi and Lee Kuan Yew

  Singapore's Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew is compared to Indira Gandhi by the Indian journalist, Sunanda Datta-Ray, who once worked for The Straits Times. In his book, Looking East to Look West, exploring India-Singapore relations, based on his interviews with MM Lee, he writes: Lee and Indira Gandhi shared a brutal commitment to power, […]

Paul Theroux on Kali and Calcutta

In A Dead Hand: A Crime in Calcutta, Paul Theroux describes an animal sacrifice at the Kali temple in Kalighat. A goat, garlanded with flowers, is led bleating into a walled enclosure to the beat of drums. Once inside, the terrified creature is thrust between two upright stakes and caressed by a barefoot priest, who […]

Incredible India: Through a newsman’s eyes

India is an unlikely economic giant. The vast majority of its people don't even have steady jobs, points out Edward Luce in his insightful book on India. Fewer than 40 million of its 470 million workforce are employed in the "organized sector", which offers job protection and other benefits. The government and the public sector […]

An absorbing history of India since independence

India After Gandhi: The History Of The World's Largest Democracy by Ramachandra Guha Ramachandra Guha's India After Gandhi: The History Of The World's Largest Democracy is a riveting account of India since independence  in 1947.  The narrative never flags. Historical figures are brought to life and history re-enacted in its pages. It makes you appreciate […]

Calcutta hosts world’s biggest book fair

I am surprised the BBC didn’t mention the Scottish writer Alexander McCall Smith is in Calcutta (Kolkata) for the Kolkata Book Fair. Maybe the BBC presenter and the Indian correspondent Subir Bhowmik ran out of time discussing the size and scale and the city’s passion for books that has made it the world’s largest retail […]

Indira Gandhi

Indira: The Life of Indira Nehru Gandhi by Katherine Graham I just finished reading Katherine Frank’s biography of Indira Gandhi,  Indira Gandhi was undoubtedly popular for a long time.Spirited, courageous, cultured, artistic, she had many admirable qualities. But I wouldn’t want her back as a leader. Nor her father, Jawaharlal Nehru. He might not have been […]