The historian’s birthday at the end of April will be commemorated with much fanfare, with a ‘Festschrift’ in the pipeline.
New Delhi: Historian Ramachandra Guha turns 60 on 29 April and the birthday celebrations promise to be a grand affair, with colleagues, friends and fans planning a series of events to mark the milestone.
The celebrations include the release of a Festschrift with essays by distinguished academics such as sociologist Nandini Sundar. A Festschrift is a volume of writings and essays in a scholar’s honour. They are usually presented to senior scholars who have made major contributions in their fields and whose works has influenced those of others.
“He’s an established academic,” said historian Srinath Raghavan. “It’s standard practice for students and colleagues to come together like this to celebrate him.”
Though a standard practice in academia, Festschrifts are rare. They have previously been written for the late eminent jurist and Supreme Court judge V.R. Krishna Iyer and American linguist George Cardona.
A friendly affair
Also lined up is a two-day event, ‘Conversations with Ramachandra Guha: Engaging a life of scholarship’ at the India International Centre, Delhi, on 5-6 April. The Festschrift will come out of the papers presented at the conference.
“It’s basically a scholar’s conference, to mark his contributions,” said Raghavan.
The event will have four sessions, each focussed on an area Guha has worked in, and include panel discussions on environmental history and politics, the social history of sports, and contemporary political history. There will also be a panel on biographies as a medium of narrating history. Speakers at the event include academics Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Mahesh Rangarajan, Rudrangshu Mukherjee and Vinay Sitapati.
“The idea of the conference is not only to celebrate Ramachandra Guha’s major scholarly contributions,” said Raghavan. “But also to present new research that has been inspired by his varied body of work.”
Raghavan, who teaches at Ashoka University, Sonepat, and is a senior fellow at the Centre for Policy Research, will be talking about the economic history of India’s “long 1970s”.
A visible Indian academic
Guha, one of India’s most prolific academics, is a celebrated name in global circles as well. He has taught at the universities of Stanford and Yale, and been a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2011, he was appointed the Philippe Roman chair in history and international Affairs at the London School of Economics.
Based in Bengaluru, he has written several books, some of which, including ‘Makers of Modern India’, are now part of university curricula. His book ‘India After Gandhi’ was named ‘Book of the Year’ by The Economist and the Wall Street Journal in 2007, and won the Sahitya Akademi Award for English in 2011. He has been described by The New York Times as “perhaps the best among India’s non-fiction writers”.
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