Sunday, January 28, 2001

Gandhi, Marx and Ram

As a Bengali I terribly disappoint my friends at not being able to spout either Marx or Tagore. So in a belated attempt to make amends, reading Ramachandra Guha's latest book - collection of his Essays - An Anthropologist among the Marxists - but, must admit, enjoying it thoroughly. He is surely one of the finest Indian mind of our generation ( now, now .. that's not Bong chauvinism - 'cause, he is not a Bengali but a Tamilian - the surname is Guhan, someone decided to drop the 'n' along the way ). His central thesis, as the blurb says, is: 'Inside every thinking Indian there is a Gandhian and a Marxist struggling for supremacy'. He writes about Gandhians, pseudo-Gandhians, Marxists, anti Marxists and, of all things, Cricketers. Tho' it was even funnier reading the Ram vs Ram ( N. Ram vs Ram Guha ) battle on the pages of the Frontline....over what else but a woman, in this case Arundhati Roy ( 'God of Small Things' fame ). N. Ram didn't take kindly to Ram Guha ticking her off on writing about environmental issues ( Narmada Dam ) commenting that, she should stick to writing fiction ( apparently - he said something to the effect of, I am told that she has written a good novel' pretending that he hasn't read or heard about her book ). As someone else remarked the other day, Roy's tirade against him definitely sounds like love spurned or jilted at some stage. It seems before that, N. Ram had written something equally stupid about Tibet, defending the Chinese occupation, which Guha had criticised in his column. So, the polemical feud carries on.