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India explored on BBC Radio 4

Posted on 18/02/2016
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India explored in extensive Radio 4 series with King’s Professor

Professor Sunil Khilnani, Avantha Professor and Director of the King’s India institute, will present the second part of his captivating series, ‘Incarnations: India in 50 lives’, on BBC Radio 4.

Starting on 22 February, Professor Khilnani’s new series will examine the lives and afterlives of 25 fascinating people who have helped make modern India, and whose influence continues to shape the 21st century. He explores India’s economic origins and future through the lives of the industrialist Jamsetji Tata, founder of the Tata empire, and Dhirubhai Ambani, tells the story of the leader of the Indian independence movement, Mahatma Gandhi, and his opponent Jinnah, as well as considering India’s outstanding artists, musicians, and filmmakers in this wide-ranging series.

You can listen to each episode on BBC Radio 4 every weekday until 1 April, and catch up on missed episodes, including the first 25, here:

‘In this series, I bring people back into our understanding of Indian history’

Discussing his approach to exploring the world’s second-most populous nation and the largest democracy, Professor Khilnani said: ‘India is economically poor but entrepreneurial, awash with illiteracy but innovative in science, culturally conservative yet creatively edgy. Given these contradictions, people often say it’s a miracle that Indian still coheres as a nation. The answer to that mystery lies in India’s rich intellectual and cultural history, embodied by the lives of its people.’

In the first episode, ‘Deen Dayal: Courtier with a Camera’, Professor Khilnani profiles the pioneering photographer Lala Deen Dayal. ‘Dayal’s late 19th century photography captured a particular moment of elite indulgence and excess, and his eye was both that of an artist and a documentarian,’ he said.

The second episode delves into the life and legacy of Jamsetji Tata, an industrialist who played a vital role in establishing India’s manufacturing base; Tata companies now constitute around five per cent of India’s gross domestic product.

Other upcoming episodes will unpack the lives of 20th century politician Indira Gandhi, actor and director Raj Kapoor, and British socialist and activist turned Indian nationalist Annie Besant, amongst others.

Recorded on location in India, Professor Khilnani presented the first part of Incarnations in 2015, where he discussed the lives and histories of 25 individuals including the Buddha; Charaka, the pioneer of Ayurveda medicine; and Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism.

Next week also sees the publication by Penguin Press of Professor Khilnani’s major new book, Incarnations: India in 50 Lives, which tell the history of India through 50 original essays about 50 extraordinary Indians.


Image credit: BBC

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About the King’s India Institute
The King's India Institute was created as a centre for global engagement with contemporary India. Working in close collaboration with partners in India, in Europe, the US and elsewhere, the Institute's activities encompass academic research and scholarship, postgraduate teaching and research, policy analysis and debate, and public engagement in arts and culture. The Institute welcomes contact and partnership with institutions, corporations, students and researchers who share and wish to further this mission.

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