A few years ago, we invited a public vote to decide on the greatest Indian after Mahatma Gandhi for the History tv channel. The winner, by some distance, was Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. The architect of the Indian constitution is that rare individual: ignored in life, venerated in death. Ironically, we see the opposite with Jawaharlal Nehru: hero-worshipped as India's first prime minister, now targeted years later.
I interviewed General VK Singh before he became a minister. This was soon after he had retired amidst swirling rumours that he was planning to join politics after his rather controversial exit as army chief. He struck me as a fine man (as most soldiers are) but also a rather angry man who seemed to believe that the entire world was conspiring against him. He spoke with bitterness, over his conflicts with the government, with his fellow senior officers and with the political class.
Here's a confession: I shed a tear yesterday when I heard Australian captain Michael Clarke speak
Last night, prime time news television (or a section of it to be more accurate) found its villain of the day to explain India's World Cup loss: Virat Kohli and his girlfriend Anushka Sharma. The same Kohli who till just weeks ago was being acknowledged as the finest batsman in the world, being compared to the legendary Sachin Tendulkar after a remarkable test series and a hundred in the first World Cup game against Pakistan.
I am often asked why I keep reminding viewers/readers/netizens of 2002 Gujarat. 'Look beyond it, the world has changed,' I am helpfully reminded. Yes, indeed it has. And I am happy to report the new, changing India. When I wrote my 2014 elections book, a friend asked me why I hadn't written more on my experiences of covering the 2002 riots: I reminded him that this book was about the elections of 2014 and how Narendra Modi won them. 2002 was part of the narrative,but was not the dominant issue because, yes, India had 'moved on' at the ballot box.
Let me first say that it is indeed an honour to be delivering the PK Kaul memorial lecture. Mr Kaul was one of the country’s most respected civil servants, a product of an age when civil servants were truly çivil’. Times have changed but I do believe that there will be a core set of values that Mr Kaul represented that will last forever. And so I am humbled to be here today at the NOIDA club where I have spent many a convivial afternoon in the company of friends.