|Alma mater||University of Delhi (BA, MA)|
IIM Calcutta (Fellowship Program)
|Occupation||Historian, author, public intellectual, distinguished University professor at Krea University|
Ramachandra "Ram" Guha[a] (born 29 April 1958) is an Indian historian, environmentalist, writer and public intellectual whose research interests include social, political, contemporary, environmental and cricket history, and the field of economics. He is an important authority on the history of modern India.
For the year 2011–12, he held a visiting position at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), the Philippe Roman Chair in History and International Affairs. Guha was a visiting professor at the Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru. The American Historical Association (AHA) has conferred its Honorary Foreign Member prize for the year 2019 on Ramchandra Guha. He is the third Indian historian to be recognised by the association, joining the ranks of Romila Thapar and Jadunath Sarkar, who received the honour in 2009 and 1952 respectively.
As one who covered wide range of subjects, Guha produced a three major books of modern India's socio-political history. Among them two, namely, Gandhi Before India (2013) and Gandhi: The Years That Changed the World (2018), are the two volumes of biography of Mahatma Gandhi, the sole icon of the Indian independence movement. The other being India After Gandhi (2007), which accounts the history of India from 1947-2017, is a commercially and critically successful one.
He is a trustee of New India Foundation fellowship programme. He was appointed to BCCI's panel of administrators by the Supreme Court of India in January 2017 but stepped down from his position citing personal reasons five months later. A regular contributor to various academic journals, Guha has also written for The Caravan and Outlook magazines. His books are amongst the most sought-after by history students in India. He is a columnist for The Telegraph, Hindustan Times and Hindi daily newspaper Amar Ujala.
Guha was born on 29 April 1958 in Dehradun in a Tamil Brahmin family. He was brought up in Dehradun, where his father Subramaniam Ramdas Guha worked at the Forest Research Institute, and his mother was a high-school teacher. While he should have been named Subramaniam Ramachandra in keeping with Tamil name-keeping norms, his teachers at school, presumably while registering his name during admission, were not familiar with these and he came to be called Ramachandra Guha. He grew up in Dehradun, on the Forest Research Institute campus.
Guha studied at Cambrian Hall and The Doon School. At Doon, he was a contributor to the school newspaper The Doon School Weekly, and edited a publication called History Times along with Amitav Ghosh, later to become a noted writer. He graduated from St. Stephen's College, Delhi with a bachelor's degree in economics in 1977, and completed his master's in economics from the Delhi School of Economics. He then enrolled at the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, where he did a PhD on the social history of forestry in Uttarakhand, focusing on the Chipko movement. It was later published as The Unquiet Woods.
Guha has authored books on a diverse range of subjects including Cricket, Environment, Politics, History, etc. Guha was a visiting professor at the Indian Institute of Science for a year from July, 2019 He is the trustee of New India Foundation fellowship programme which he himself conceptualised in 2004. He has taught universities of Krea, Stanford, Yale, Berlin Institute for Advanced Study, Indian Institute of Science, University of California at Berkeley. He held the Arné Naess Chair at the University of Oslo, the Indo-American Community Chair at the University of California at Berkeley, and the Philipe Roman Chair in History and International Affairs at the London School of Economics.
In 1999, he was offered to write a biography of Atal Bihari Vajpayee which he declined. Guha is the author of India after Gandhi, published by Macmillan and Ecco in 2007. The book was an instant hit and is considered an essential literature in space of modern Indian history. It was chosen Book of the Year by The Economist, The Wall Street Journal and Outlook Magazine, among others. The book was one of the best non-fiction books of the decade (2010–2019) as per The Hindu. The book won the 2011 Sahitya Akademi Award for English for 'narrative history'.
In October 2013, he published Gandhi Before India, the first part of a two-volume biography of Mahatma Gandhi which documents life from his childhood to the two decades in South Africa; 1869-1914. In 2018, he published the standalone sequel Gandhi: The Years That Changed the World, 1914-1948 which deals with events from Gandhi coming back to India to his death. The book subsumes a lot of new archival material that were discovered only in the 21th century. It has an epilogue that discusses the role of Gandhi in contemporary world politics.
His books are amongst the most sought-after by history students and civil service aspirants in India.
Guha published collection of essays; two of them being Patriots and Partisans (2012) and Democrats and Dissenters (2016).
Guha produced a biography of the anthropologist Verrier Elwin in 1999. He earned a Phd on the social history of forestry in Uttarakhand, focusing on the Chipko movement. In 2006, he authored How Much Should a Person Consume?. In 2014, he wrote a book on environmentalism called Environmentalism: A Global History.
Guha has written extensively on cricket as a journalist and as a historian. His research into the social history of Indian cricket culminated in his work A Corner of a Foreign Field: The Indian history of a British Sport in 2002. The book charts the development of cricket in India from its inception during the British Raj to its position in contemporary India as the nation's favourite pastime.
He was appointed to BCCI's panel of administrators by the Supreme Court of India on 30 January 2017, as part of the Lodha Committee reforms, only to resign in July of the same year.
In November 2020, he published The Commonwealth of Cricket: A Lifelong Love Affair with the Most Subtle and Sophisticated Game Known to Humankind, a personal account of the transformation of cricket in India, across all levels at which the game is played: school, college, club, state, country and presents vivid portraits of local heroes, provincial icons, and international stars through the 50 years he has been following the game. The book blends memoir, anecdote, reportage, and political critique.
Guha is domiciled in the city of Bengaluru and frequently mentions about the same in his columns. Guha is married to the graphic designer Sujata Keshavan, and they have two children. Their son Keshava Guha became a fiction author with the release of Accidental Magic at the 2019 Bangalore Literature Festival. Guha is a vegetarian.
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Ramachandra Guha: Guha has written eloquently on history, politics, environmentalism, and cricket. No other writer is read as much by aspirants to the Indian civil services examination.
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