Gandhi and the Struggling Subcontinent


Mahatma Gandhi’s image has widely been upheld as a champion of freedom and human rights. Parsing through his complex past in the book Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle with India, author Joseph Lelyveld has explored Gandhi’s journey from an immigrant lawyer to a leader of India’s freedom movement and a symbol of human rights worldwide. The book investigates the formative years Gandhi spent in South Africa and the struggle he faced with his home country on his return, as India continued to revere him even as it rejected values he considered central to his mission.

Ranjit Hoskote’s exploration of Gandhi includes a focus on Hind Swaraj, a book written by Gandhi that addresses self-rule, modernization, passive resistance, and other such themes. Hoskote curated a critical homage on the centennial of Hind Swaraj in 2009 (Chemould Prescott Road, December 2009-January 2010), probing the history of the diasporic imagination of India and the gradual transformation of Gandhi from his South African activism to his Indian engagement.

Join Joseph Lelyveld in conversation with Ranjit Hoskote for a discussion on the forces were shaping the Indian subcontinent that led to the shaping of Gandhi’s ideals. What can we learn about colonial rule and identities in and around South Asia through the story of Gandhi? How do Gandhi’s struggles reflect those of the subcontinent, and what resonance does this have today?

Joseph Lelyveldis a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author. He has served as Executive Editor of the New York Times, Foreign Editor of the Times, and has been a Fulbright Scholarship and Guggenheim Fellowship recipient, among other positions. Lelyveld’s other works include Move Your Shadow: South Africa, Black and White. His latest book, Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle with India, was inspired by Lelyveld’s work living in India and South Africa as a foreign correspondent for The New York Times, and explores the shaping of Gandhi's ideals in the context of his two decades in South Africa.

Ranjit Hoskote is a poet, cultural theorist and curator. His collections of poetry include Vanishing Acts: New & Selected Poems 1985-2005 (Penguin, 2006) and Die Ankunft der Vögel (Carl Hanser Verlag, 2006). His translation of the 14th-century Kashmiri mystic Lal Ded has been published as I, Lalla: The Poems of Lal Ded (Penguin Classics, 2011). With Ilija Trojanow, Hoskote has co-authored Confluences(Yoda Press, 2012), a history of the rich entanglements among societies, and a critique of the ‘clash of civilizations’ thesis.

This programme is part of the Asia in Writing series, which brings together the freshest perspectives from writers across Asia as they engage in dialogue about their recent publications and the art of writing.

Event Details

Thu 02 Feb 2012
6:30 PM - 8:00 PM
Jnanapravaha, Queens Mansion, 3rd Floor, G. Talwatkar Marg, Fort, Mumbai
Asia Society members and Jnanapravaha students- FREE; All others- Rs. 100
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