“Liberals are not expected to be polemical,” said writer and historian Ramachandra Guha, at the launch of his new book, Patriots and Partisans, here on Wednesday.
Quoting his friend, the late historian and intellectual Dharma Kumar, as having said that Indian liberals were supine, the writer said with emphasis: “I would like to prove her wrong.” The Padma Bhushan awardee and winner of the Sahitya Akademi Award said he was trying to reclaim patriotism from the right, as an opinionated liberal and an Indian patriot.
Critical of the dogmatic forces of the extreme right and left as well as the ‘family firm’ culture of the Congress party that had permeated politics and public life, Mr. Guha defended intellectual and religious liberalism, explaining that it was possible to be Hindu as well pluralist, reformist and anti-caste.
Summarising the contents of his book — a collection of essays written between 2005 and 2011 — he said that the essays were not entirely scholarly, incorporating experiences, anecdotes and insights. To a question on what he saw as the solution to India’s current state, Mr. Guha said: “I am a historian who uses the past to illuminate the present. I don’t give solutions…that’s not my job.”