12 May, 2021

The RG Who Wrote off Rahul Gandhi

Biographer, chronicler, equal-opportunity critic and ­sincere friend are but a few of Ram Guha’s avatars

Through The Lens Roundly
Guha at the launch of the book The Long Revolution in Bangalore, August 2009
Photograph by Getty Images
The RG Who Wrote off Rahul Gandhi

My first impression of Ram Guha was that he must be an intellectual about sixty or seventy years out of his era. With his rough tweed jacket and baggy trousers, his tousled hair, his round-lensed spectacles and his rather shambling gait, he looked like a figure of the 1930s; underneath his jacket he wore a patterned jersey that might have been knitted for George Orwell.  And he talked too, in a way I had been told that bhadralok scholars always used to talk, rapidly and excitedly on a very wide range of subjects.

Yet I soon realised he was not really garrulous—an adjective much used by British rulers to denigrate Bengali intelle­ctuals—he was simply more interested and better informed than almost anyone else.  About twenty years ago we went to Trent Bridge to watch a cricket match, I in my stripey blazer, he in his tweed jacket and Orwell’s jersey.  We travelled to the ground with Sunil Khilnani and my son in a motor car, a rather ropey old vehicle that Sunil had recently bought from a friend.  It was a day-night match, an...

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