20 January, 2021

Inspired By Outlook’s Own Vinod Mehta

Ramachandra Guha, Public Intellectual of the Year

Photograph by Narendra Bisht
Inspired By Outlook’s Own Vinod Mehta

I am delighted and humbled to be chosen the Public Intellectual of the Year at the OSM awards. As an intellectual, perhaps I should explain what I think is the role of the public intellectual. Historians, unlike physicists, write in everyday language, we don’t use complex equations or models or jargon, and I believe it’s an obligation of historians and sociologists to communicate to a wider public. But there is also a danger—that you become too much of a public and too little of an intellectual. So, there is a balance you have to maintain. I write in newspapers; I have recently taken to Twitter, which probably explains why Outlook has besto­wed this surprising award on me. I think it is important for some like me to be restraining. So, while I am pleased and humbled to get the award, I hope I don’t abdicate my primary role, which is that of deep scholarship and research, and become too much of a public intellectual.

Lastly, I am delighted to get this award as it particularly evokes memories of Outlook’s remarkable...



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