President K. R. Narayanan in conversation with N. Ram, August 14, 1998

In this August 14, 1998 conversation, President K. R. Narayanan offers a valuable perspective on the role of the President in India. These observations are of contemporary relevance.

pdf icon President-K.-R.-Narayanan-in-conversation-with-N.-Ram-August-14-1998.pdf

Lodha Committee to come down hard on BCCI and cricket administration across India

The Lodha Committee report on urgently needed reform of cricket administration in India will be released on January 4, 2016. It is expected to come down hard on the BCCI and the shocking way various cricket associations across the country have been allowed to administer the game, essentially without accountability and transparency.

But not all associations can be painted with the same brush. A few, like the Vidarbha Cricket Association and the Saurashtra Cricket Association, have husbanded their resources, and the profits made from the game, wisely and honestly, accumulated substantial reserves, built up excellent infrastructure, and nurtured cricket at the foundation level.

The attached report card for 2010-2013, which was placed in the public realm (released at a media conference and posted at a website) by the Karnakata State Cricket Association when Anil Kumble was President, is an example of accountability and transparency.

pdf icon BookFinal.pdf

Sangita Kalanidhi-elect Sanjay Subrahmanyan on the makings of a Carnatic musician, pdf attached

Sanjay Subrahmanyan, 47, is one of the youngest Carnatic musicians to be conferred the honour and title of Sangita Kalanidhi by The Music Academy Madras. In his acceptance speech after he was elected to preside over the 89th Annual Conference & Concerts of the Academy, the acclaimed vocalist speaks of his own social background and career as a professional musician. He then offers rare insights into what goes into the making of a Carnatic musician, what stages of development he or she must necessarily go through, the importance of interacting with, and learning from, masters of the art, and the need to adapt to changing times, and especially the digital age. A must-read for anyone interested in Indian classical music.

pdf icon Sanjay-Subrahmanyans-acceptance-speech-Music-Academy.pdf

State of the Nation: Light from the East, N. Ram, Outlook

At a time when the challenge of communalism, hate politics, and engineered intolerance by the saffron brigade has come to the fore, all secular and democratic Indians can take heart from what has happened in Bihar.

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"Incarnations: India in 50 Lives," freely downloadable BBC Radio 4 series by Sunil Khilnani

“Incarnations: India in 50 Lives,” a BBC Radio 4 series by Professor Sunil Khilnani, author of “The Idea of India,” is an interesting and freely available series of historical talks aiming to link the past with the present. It “takes listeners on a journey from ancient India to the 21st century through the life stories of 50 of India’s major figures,” according to the series producers. “The series aims to explore how these ancient historical individuals have been ‘reincarnated’ in modern India and continue to impact and inspire life.”

Twenty-five of the 50 programmes have been broadcast so far and they can be downloaded from iTunes:

and also from the BBC Radio 4 site:


Perspective on the outcome of Sri Lanka’s 2015 general election, The Hindu, August 19, 2015

“The Sri Lankan electorate has voted to reject polarisation and reinforce the process of democratisation…The new UNP government will have to quickly address a range of concerns from prosecution of corrupt politicians to providing a credible process to address war-time accountability.”

Together, these analytical articles provide a rounded perspective on the significance, potentialities, and hope held by the outcome of Sri Lanka’s 2015 general election.

A pdf of the whole Perspective page is attached.

1) “A vote for continuing change,” by Jayadeva Uyangoda, The Hindu, August 19, 2015, Page 11:


2)”Defeat of divisive politics,” by Ahilan Kadirgamar, The Hindu, August 19, 2015, Page 11:

pdf icon Perspective-on-Sri-Lankas-general-election-outcome-The-Hindu-August-19-2015-Page-11.pdf

"A bank account for Mary," Jayshree Venkatesan, The Hindu, August 17, 2015, link & pdf

Narendra Modi’s Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), launched as a national mission for financial inclusion, “celebrates success on its website [], but thousands of Marys remain outside the banking system. There won’t be change unless the scheme alters both design and implementation.” Jayshree Venkatesan, a scholar at the Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy, looks into why the scheme has failed to deliver what was promised, on the basis of her field research:

pdf icon A-bank-account-for-Mary-Jayshree-Venkatesan-The-Hindu-August-17-2015-page-11.pdf

Justice Lodha Committee Final Opinion and Order on BCCI-IPL

Justice has been done — and has been seen to be done. An edifying message goes out to the cricket world that corruption will not be tolerated. Read the just-released Final Opinion and Order of the Justice Lodha Committee appointed by the Supreme Court of India with clear and powerful terms of reference.

pdf icon Justice-Lodha-Committee-Final-Opinion-and-Order-BCCI-IPL-14-07-2015.pdf

Dr Ambedkar and re-imagining & building an India rid of caste, TISS Convocation speech, N. Ram, May 12, 2015

As democratic India prepares to celebrate the 125th year of his birth, Dr B. R. Ambedkar stands taller than he ever did before. This is essentially because the deep-seated problems spotlighted by his life and work remain very much alive while the bold and often profound questions he raised about Indian society remain unanswered.

It is not without political significance that the Hindu Right is currently attempting, against the grain of history, to appropriate Dr Ambedkar’s legacy. In this situation, his uncompromising analysis of the caste system, of chaturvarnya and sanatana dharma, of notions of pollution, of unalterable or rigid social hierarchy, and of the implications of the hegemony of the shastras must be read, re-read, and made part of a national debate.

Dr Ambedkar’s outstanding intellectual contribution to re-imagining and building a new India free from the debilitating, indeed soul-destroying, system of caste as an institution of social oppression and discrimination incompatible with democracy must be ranked on a par with his justly celebrated contribution to the making of India’s Republican Constitution.

from N Ram, Convocation speech, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), May 12, 2015 (pdf file attached)

pdf icon TISS-Convocation-Speech-NR-May-12-2015.pdf

The Wonder that was Victor Trumper: The Jack Marsh History Lecture 2015, by Gideon Haigh

Victor Trumper (November 2, 1877-June 28, 1915) is one of the most romantic figures in the history of cricket. In his Jack Marsh History Lecture 2015 in Sydney, Gideon Haigh, writer and cricket historian, brings alive the wonder that was Trumper, offering in the process rare insights into the nuances of sports photography. (“When he came he opened the windows of the mind to a new vision of what batting could be…In composition and content, it is a very great photograph. It is both the first and last word in batting, insofar as batting consists of making instinctive what begins as a set of quite unnatural motions.”) Listen here to the lecture, in three parts, on YouTube; read the text, attached as a pdf file. George Beldam’s iconic picture of Trumper leaping out to drive is also attached:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Other resources on Trumper:

Cricinfo (statistical summary):

Official site:


Trumper & Don Bradman:

Select bibliography:

Australian sport’s most memorable photographs:

pdf icon JackMarshHistoryLecture2015.pdf

Diverse perspectives on Charlie Hebdo attacks — from Tariq Ali, the Guardian, the New York Times, and others

Tariq Ali, writing in the London Review of Books, looks incisively into key issues that arise from the atrocity, the horrendous murder of 12 people at the headquarters of the French satirical magazine. A Guardian editorial and the New York Times Editor and Public Editor explain why the two newspapers with a global reach decided not to re-publish the Charlie Hebdo cartoons targeting the Prophet. The New York Times fields a debate on whether satirists can sometimes be ‘too provocative and outrageous’ and whether they ‘should hold themselves back’.

‘Short Cuts’ by Tariq Ali:

Guardian editorial view: ‘show solidarity but in your own voice’:

New York Times Editor Dean Baquet in fiery, touch-me-not Facebook attack on critic of newspaper’s decision not to reproduce Charlie Hebdo cartoons:

New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan on how the decision not to re-publish the Charlie Hebdo cartoons was made:

‘When Satire Cuts Both Ways’:

‘Victims of the Terror Attacks in Paris’:


A case of faux-valorisation of security preparedness? Praveen Swami on the so-called ‘terror boat’

Praveen Swami’s hard-headed, upstanding investigation in The Indian Express challenges the Government of India’s claim that the Coast Guard destroyed a Pakistani ‘terror boat’. The Defence Minister, claiming that there are intercepts, has promised more information. Meanwhile, read these articles:

Hilary Mantel on her new short story collection, BBC Radio 4 and The Guardian

Hilary Mantel, one of the world’s finest novelists, talks to Tom Sutcliffe on BBC Radio 4 about her wonderful new collection of short stories, “The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher and Other Stories” (Kindle edition: Fourth Estate, 2014). Asked how she came to write the title story, she provides fascinating insights into a writer’s mind and the writing process. The title story can be read at the second link below:

BBC Radio 4 interview (audio):

“The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher,” title story (a Guardian exclusive):

Guardian interview:

Author’s reply to critics:

Damian Barr defends Mantel:

The Influence of Beethoven, "Deus Ex Musica," Alex Ross in The New Yorker

“Three days before the end…Beethoven had said, “*Plaudite*,* amici*,* comoedia finita est*” (“Applaud, friends, the comedy is over”)….Perhaps Beethoven was mocking his doctors; perhaps he was mocking the priest who administered the last rites; perhaps he was mocking himself. In any event, he was laughing about something as the curtain came down. He presumably did not know that, like the Emperor Augustus, he was about to undergo deification.”

Microsoft’s Nadella Sets Off a Furor on Women’s Pay –

Satya Nadella, chief executive of Microsoft and a man “not known for being tone deaf on women’s issues,” puts his foot in his mouth and then, donning sackcloth and ashes, backtracks all the way:®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news