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1: Ira Mukhoty on her book, 'Daughters of the Sun'
1: Ira Mukhoty on her book, 'Daughters of the Sun'
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Available Episodes

EPISODE 258

"The general greater acceptance of reservations in India as compared to the US comes from the acceptance of a karmic world view, the principle that you can't escape the consequence ... Read more

"The general greater acceptance of reservations in India as compared to the US comes from the acceptance of a karmic world view, the principle that you can't escape the consequences of your actions. Therefore, if your actions have been evil, then it is better to own up and do something to correct it and make amends. You find this idea of the karmic in the Manusmriti too. Yes, there's also a lot in the Manusmriti about jatis and marriage and caste, which is not appealing to a modern mind. But at least 40 smritis have been known to exist. The Manusmriti was just the one chosen by the British when they were looking at Hindu law. The smritis were a way of updating legislature, as it were, with changing times. It wasn't set in stone and there's an awareness within the tradition about this. In the end, we have to apply our judgement to both tradition and modernity." Arvind Sharma, author, From Fire to Light; Rereading the Manusmrti talks to Manjula Narayan about the amorphousness of religion in India, Ambedkar and Buddhism, the text's pronouncements about women and oppressed castes, and the context in which the Manusmriti was written. Read more

EPISODE 257

"The problem of studying history is that we often think of history from today's point of view. When we look at history we must always look at the physical reality that existed at t ... Read more

"The problem of studying history is that we often think of history from today's point of view. When we look at history we must always look at the physical reality that existed at that particular time. The main reality of Nehru's time wasn't the threat from Pakistan or China or India's relations with the Soviet Union or the US. The biggest physical reality was hunger. Food is a strategic commodity as we see even now in Gaza and Ukraine. The Indian people did not create the Indian food crisis. It was a creation of the Allied war effort. Food had to be acquired. Nehru tried very hard to deal with the food security issue and reached out to many countries. India's first diplomats were actually food diplomats. This was the reality of that time" - Kallol Bhattacherjee, author, 'Nehru's First Recruits; The Diplomats Who Built Independent India's Foreign Policy' talks to Manjula Narayan about his compelling study of the Indian Foreign Service, the many individuals from varied backgrounds who formed part of it in the immediate post Independence period, the first evacuation of Indians during an international crisis, the evolution of the idea of Panchsheel, the 1962 war with China and the birth of Indian realism, the role of stenographers in the IFS, the battle of Surabaya that could have had an impact on Indian independence, and the many dynamics that were crashing against each other in the early days of the Indian republic. Read more

EPISODE 256

"It's very easy to criticise the BJP government or the Mamta government for censorship. What we don't realise is we are doing the same thing on social media without allowing a cert ... Read more

"It's very easy to criticise the BJP government or the Mamta government for censorship. What we don't realise is we are doing the same thing on social media without allowing a certain kind of freedom of speech that is in disagreement with what we feel. But it is disagreement that produces culture! Amartya Sen said we are argumentative Indians. In the India we are in now, we are supposed to be agreementative Indians. We have to always agree with each other. And we have forgotten that consensus will never produce any philosophy." - Sumana Roy, author, 'Provincials; Postcards from the Peripheries' talks to Manjula Narayan about being a proud provincial, the difficulty of swimming against the current, bricolage as a literary device, the use of ossified jargon in academia, English literature departments forsaking beauty for the sociological approach, and the reductionism inherent in labelling writing. Read more

EPISODE 255

"The book is about my story as somebody of mixed heritage. In many ways it's just the story of somebody trying to figure out who they are in a world that likes to separate and divi ... Read more

"The book is about my story as somebody of mixed heritage. In many ways it's just the story of somebody trying to figure out who they are in a world that likes to separate and divide. the story of the book is about how, through discovering the origins of ideas, through discovering history, I discover a new way of thinking. So then it became easy for me to reconcile my mixed identity with my Englishness. Because actually, to be English is to be mixed. Then suddenly, it made sense. Identity is constantly in flux; it's an process to be engaged with constantly" - Jassa Ahluwalia, author, Both Not Half talks to Manjula Narayan about the experience of being both Punjabi and English in the UK, not changing his name when he became an actor, the many instances of mixed race actors passing for white in old Hollywood, Sikhism, nationalism, feeling a sense of kinship with transpeople, and being determined to change how the entertainment industry in the West represents people of mixed heritage. Read more

EPISODE 254

"If you look at late 19th century photographs or sketches of Delhi, it is empty and treeless. It's a historical fact that the city's greenery has come with the development of urban ... Read more

"If you look at late 19th century photographs or sketches of Delhi, it is empty and treeless. It's a historical fact that the city's greenery has come with the development of urban settlements... My favourite Delhi garden is Sundar Nursery because there are always new trees to discover there" – Swapna Liddle and Madhulika Liddle, co-authors of Gardens of Delhi talk to Manjula Narayan about the capital's wonderful green oases from Lodhi Garden and Qudsia Bagh to Buddha Jayanti Park and The Garden of Five Senses, among many others. Read more

EPISODE 253

"Social comedy usually has a very short span because it gets dated. For people to laugh at the same silly jokes, for social comedy to survive means that it's hit some enduring spot ... Read more

"Social comedy usually has a very short span because it gets dated. For people to laugh at the same silly jokes, for social comedy to survive means that it's hit some enduring spot. I was trying to write a literary novel. It was a take on the Gothic novel and was about the relationship between Paro and Priya. In a way, Paro was Rebecca (in the eponymous novel by Daphe du Maurier), the beautiful and ruthless woman, and Priya was the archetypal counterpart, the woman who is more discreet and strategic perhaps, one who is more cunning and at the same time entranced by the freedom that someone like Paro represents. When it first came out, it got great reviews outside India but the Indian literary establishment spat at it. It took me by surprise how much they hated the book. I realise now that they hated it because it did not fit their idea of the exalted role of English literature. This was not the language of the rulers; it was the language of the users, the people who use English every day. They just didn't get it." - Namita Gokhale talks to Manjula Narayan about her first novel, Paro; Dreams of Passion, that's just been issued as a Penguin Modern Classic Read more

EPISODE 252

"As a writer and art critic Rudolf von Leyden was able to mentor artists in a certain capacity but for artists to live, to sustain a life as an artist, they need to sell their work ... Read more

"As a writer and art critic Rudolf von Leyden was able to mentor artists in a certain capacity but for artists to live, to sustain a life as an artist, they need to sell their work. They need patrons. Because of his corporate job, Rudi was able to support the work of the artists he liked – Ara, Husain, Hebber, Souza, Raza of the Progressive Artists Group" - Reema Desai Gehi, author, 'The Catalyst; Rudolf Von Leyden and India's Artistic Awakening' talks to Manjula Narayan about the man who promoted some of India's most eminent artists of the post Independence era, helped them through tough times and ensured they continued to produce great art. Read more

EPISODE 251

"You can't leave caste behind but you can change religion so why won't you get attracted to another religion for whatever reasons? We are now paying too much attention to religious ... Read more

"You can't leave caste behind but you can change religion so why won't you get attracted to another religion for whatever reasons? We are now paying too much attention to religious conversions. There are so many histories which run parallel within this one big history of the country and that's what makes the nation" - Nusrat F Jafri, author, 'This Land We Call Home' weaves the history of her family – her Bhantu maternal great grandparents who became Methodists, her grandparents who were Catholic, and her Shia Muslim parents – with that of India during the colonial period, the post Independence era and right down to the present, to present a view of a nation in flux. Read more

EPISODE 250

"In 2010, I totally got wedded to Indian aesthetics. I decided to view art through the lens of the rasa theory. I went back to the Natya Shastra because that is where it all starts ... Read more

"In 2010, I totally got wedded to Indian aesthetics. I decided to view art through the lens of the rasa theory. I went back to the Natya Shastra because that is where it all starts. When I look at art, I find a sense of immediacy, through emotion, through rasa. When you look at the work of Manjit Bawa or Swaminathan or Raza, our great modernists, why are they all still so relevant? Raza's way of looking at abstraction came from very Indic principles. From Raja Ravi Varma and Amrita Sher Gill to contemporary artists, there is an unbroken tradition. You see it even in our digital art. In India, the parallel trajectories of tradition, modernity and the contemporary are still continuing. We can't have a break with the past. Our traditions and roots are still present" - Alka Pande, author, '108 Portraits of Indian Modern and Contemporary Art' talks to Manjula Narayan on the Books & Authors podcast about being rooted in Indian aesthetics, new developments in Indian art, the role of the artist as a catalyst and a conscience keeper, museums as the new patrons and more Read more

EPISODE 249

"The mytho-epic imagination is an integral part of the structure of our culture. The religious character of the mytho-epic imagination in the Indian subcontinent provides a shared ... Read more

"The mytho-epic imagination is an integral part of the structure of our culture. The religious character of the mytho-epic imagination in the Indian subcontinent provides a shared collective unconscious," Manoj Kumar Jena, editor, 'Ways of Being Indian; Essays on Religion, Gender and Culture' talks to Manjula Narayan about the country's cultural diversity, death rituals, ways of mourning and the shift to public and shared mourning online, changes in matriliny among the Khasis, ideas of masculinity and the male sex worker, the African diaspora in India, and discrimination against queer individuals despite the recognition of other genders in ancient texts among other fascinating subjects that form the focus of this book. Read more

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