Since the 1980s, secularism in India has been a topic of heated contestation. Advocates for a Hindu nation deride what they call ‘pseudo-secularism’, claiming that it privileges Muslim and Christian minorities against the interests of India’s Hindu majority. Religious minorities, however, consistently appeal to India’s secular constitution to secure their rights.
The history of Bengal has been the focus of a great deal of recent scholarly attention. It has benefitted from waves of topical and methodological interest, but there has long been a need for a comprehensive book on the late colonial period that encompasses revisionist historical perspectives and their conclusions.
Questions of conspiracy and collusion loom large in these modern times. Historically, the revelation of obfuscated, ephemeral crimes has often tested the integrity of a state’s judicial apparatus. An investigating body may trace elaborate webs of influence and create exacting chronologies of events to test the veracity of witnesses’ testimonies.
‘The speed king of Asia’ (p. 472) is not an honorific normally associated with the subject of this new biography by Ramachandra Guha, the Indian historian, cricket writer, and journalist. It was found in a letter from a British Quaker admirer of Gandhi who had accompanied the 64-year-old on his vigorous campaigning tour through southern India in support of rights for Harijans