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Gopalkrishna Gandhi

Gopalkrishna Gandhi read English Literature at St Stephen’s College, Delhi. A civil servant and diplomat, he was Governor of West Bengal, 2004-2009. He is currently Distinguished Professor of History and Politics at Ashoka University

Articles by Gopalkrishna Gandhi

Ink that protects the sanctity of elections

How Salimuzzaman Siddiqui developed “Siddiquink” that protects against impersonation in the voting process

Workers pack indelible ink vials that are used during elections to prevent duplication of voting, at the government-run Mysore Paints and Varnish company in Mysuru, India, March 12, 2024. REUTERS/Rakesh Nair(REUTERS)
Published on Apr 13, 2024 10:00 PM IST

How Rajiv and Benazir shaped nuclear restraint

A 1988 Agreement binds India and Pakistan to refrain from causing the destruction of, or damage to, any nuclear installation or facility in the other country

On December 31, 1988, of the Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear Installations and Facilities was signed(HT Archive)
Published on Mar 19, 2024 09:50 PM IST

Public intellectual and jurist, God’s good man

In Fali Nariman’s death, India has lost its tallest spokesman for honesty in public intent and private conduct

Senior advocate to the Supreme Court Fali S Nariman. (PTI)
Published on Feb 21, 2024 10:00 PM IST

Posthumous-isation of the Bharat Ratna

The national honour should be bestowed on people when they are alive, and not when they are holding high public office

Former prime ministers Narasimha Rao and Chaudhary Charan Singh and the pioneer of India’s Green Revolution MS Swaminathanwere conferred the Bharat Ratna award on Friday. (HT Photo)
Published on Feb 14, 2024 10:03 PM IST

Deathless prince who is more than mortal kings

If only Netaji had lived longer, he could have prevented the partition of Bengal, and even altered the course of events surrounding Gandhi’s assassination

January 23 is Netaji’s birth anniversary.
Published on Jan 22, 2024 09:39 PM IST

Two purveyors of science, in the age of AI

The heart-mind of human experience must ignite our human intelligence and make it more than human

Arthur C Clarke, the English science writer, science fiction writer, undersea explorer, and passionate promoter of the idea of space travel, had migrated to Sri Lanka in 1956 (Flickr)
Published on Dec 15, 2023 10:13 PM IST

A cautionary tale from Indian Tamils in Ceylon

The stories of exile, exclusion and expulsion of indentured labourers from Tamil Nadu in Sri Lanka’s plantations hold lessons for us today

The saga of Sri Lanka's Indian Tamils suggests lessons to be learnt not for their sakes but ours(Getty Images)
Published on Nov 11, 2023 10:53 PM IST

On reality of caste, Bihar holds a mirror

25 years ago, it gave the country a chance to see the Constitution’s morality being upheld. This time it is offering a cue on the caste census

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav, Leader of Opposition in Bihar Assembly Vijay Kumar Sinha and other leaders during all parties’ meeting on Bihar Caste Census at the CM Secretariat on Tuesday. (PTI)
Published on Oct 16, 2023 10:14 PM IST

When cricket inspired a moment of bonhomie

India-Pakistan cricket match, rained-out, recalls a diplomatic message of felicitations sent by President Venkataraman in 1992

Ramaswami Venkataraman (1910-2009) was the President and I was his joint secretary(HT)
Published on Sep 08, 2023 10:32 PM IST

The subtle influence of India’s President

KR Narayanan once said he held little direct power but had a subtle influence. In invoking equality in her I-day address, Prez Murmu exercised the same power

Former South African president Nelson Mandela is seen with KR Narayanan and AB Vajpayee after he received the Mahatma Gandhi Peace Prize. (HT files/Arvind Yadav)
Published on Aug 21, 2023 08:07 AM IST

Uphold the lofty ideals symbolised by the Tricolour

Concord is under strain in India. Manipur is the most searing example. The national flag must be downcast, wanting to lower itself to half-mast in agony.

The Tricolour in Connaught Place. (HT File Photo)
Published on Jul 21, 2023 10:49 PM IST

Lessons from history for the Balasore tragedy

When accidents occur, we must react immediately but also not fail to examine the aftermath through a minute and a wide lens.

The 1956 Ariyalur train accident led to Shastri tendering his resignation(HT Archive)
Published on Jun 16, 2023 10:07 PM IST

In Nehru’s death, a precedent for rectitude was set

The transition of power after Jawaharlal Nehru’s death on May 27, 1964, was momentous. This was possible as those who led the process were egoless leaders

Atal Bihari Vajpayee, then in the Rajya Sabha, said with Nehru gone “The sun has set; we will now have to find our way about with the aid of starlight”. An effulgent orb sun had indeed set but the night that followed gave us the starlight of duty to guide us through the dark (HT photo)
Updated on May 26, 2023 08:28 PM IST

Enduring lessons about India from a 70-yr-old classic

Do Bigha Zamin made a huge impact because it spoke about life not just in India but in all countries which stand on the cusp of agrarian and industrial choices

Do Bigha Zamin was about life. The use of the past tense there, is wrong. It is about life, about life today. Each migrant worker’s family is that of Shambhu Mahato (Hindustan Times)
Updated on Apr 21, 2023 07:22 PM IST

Turkey, Syria and the real threat beneath India’s feet

India, which has the Indian Plate pressing onto the Eurasian Plate, which sculpted the Himalayas by colliding, has a similar razor’s edge right along the great Himalayan arc

They were asleep when the first quaking happened after 4am at 7.8 on the seismic scale of 0 to 10. (AFP)
Updated on Feb 16, 2023 07:57 PM IST

In his death, Gandhi joined a mortal act to an immortalisation

As the rest of India hailed Independence, Gandhi mourned its division. This year marks 75 years of a mortal act that led to an immortalisation. May Gandhi’s ideals always remain a guiding light on the power of ahimsa

Seventy-five years on, this needs to be known: Never in all these decades, not once, did Gandhi’s sons or daughters-in-law or his associates use a single abusive word of hate against the assassin or his collaborators. (Getty Images)
Updated on Jan 30, 2023 08:34 AM IST

Ode to a remarkable era of cartoonists, and their ideals

Cartoons can pack a power punch that can bore a tunnel through sanctimony, vileness, and folly among the powerful. This is the legacy of several remarkable cartoonists that we must remember as we mark Republic Day.

A historic cartoon in India carried by Hindustan Times on January 24, 1950 by ace cartoonist Enver Ahmed. (HT Archives)
Updated on Jan 21, 2023 07:43 PM IST

A call to treat India’s prisoners fairly and humanely

A Madras HC ruling to amend prison rules in accordance with global guidelines is admirable and may bestow prisoners with a life of dignity. This is an urgent need for India’s 550,000-plus prisoners, especially as most of them aren’t even convicts

If we think of prisoners as ‘us’, it would be good for them, but even more so for us, because we could be them. You and I could be reading this where no one would want to be. (Shutterstock)
Updated on Jan 16, 2023 01:11 PM IST

A message from Gandhi to a very troubled world

A bust of the Mahatma will be installed at the headquarters of the United Nations on December 14, affirming his global legacy of truth and non-violence.

There is something very apposite about this, something very right because, though born in India, educated in England, and “made” in South Africa, Gandhi has belonged, for decades, to the common causes of humanity and the imperiled world. (HT Photo)
Updated on Dec 10, 2022 07:49 PM IST

Dadabhai Naoroji, a leader who served India and Britain

This year, 2022, marks the 130th anniversary of the election, in 1892, of the first person of Indian origin to the House of Commons.

Sunak’s is, like Naoroji’s, a narrow majority. But if the Grand Old Man of India, despite that handicap, could challenge Britain to be British and do right by India’s political economy, so can the new PM challenge Britain to give a great “British” lead to do right by the world’s climate. (Bloomberg/Wikimedia Commons)
Updated on Nov 05, 2022 11:33 PM IST

Crafting an ethical mode of governance for India

Gopalkrishna Gandhi outlines his vision for an India@100 that places ethics at the core of its governance

We were told, at the time of Independence, that we will collapse under the debris of our incapacity, our divisions. We have not done so. We can’t, as we turn 100, be a country that worships gods and mammon, but trashes human life, human worth. (HT Archive)
Published on Oct 29, 2022 08:30 PM IST

S Radhakrishnan: A man of egoless impartiality

Constitutional authorities should be impartial guardians, capable of standing apart from the government if need be. Who or what determines that “need be”?

Having demitted office as India’s second president, he retired to what was effectively his hometown, Madras, as Chennai was then called. The scholar-teacher in him chose not to linger in New Delhi, seeking sanctuary in one of Lutyens’ bungalows through the patronising indulgence of the incumbents of high office. (HT PHOTO)
Updated on Sep 09, 2022 07:44 PM IST

The scorching truth of Rushdie’s ordeal

The attack on author Salman Rushdie results from judgment blinded by intolerance. We need honesty to see that the greats of history apart, it is innocents who will suffer if intolerance is not stopped from becoming violent

That the author of Midnight’s Childrenshould be battling for his life as the 75th anniversary of that defining hour draws near makes Salman Rushdie a figure in history. He has moved from the columns of literature to the casements of history (Hindustan Times)
Updated on Aug 14, 2022 07:13 PM IST

Double trouble that haunts me during nighttime reading

Every night, these last few nights, as I settle down to my mandatory bedtime reading, a mosquito appears. And so does my ‘Covid-worry’. 

Let no one say ‘health is a state subject’. Death is not. It is on no list, Union, state or concurrent. But it is in the mind of the winged demon that is out to harry us. (HT Photo)
Published on Jul 18, 2022 09:50 PM IST

We owe our freedom to the salt of our earth

This jubilee year, this year of collective recalling and celebrating, is, therefore, not just about the leaders but about those who made the leaders, powered the movements, gave the struggle its voltage, velocity and — victory

This year is a year of the Tricolour at its most fluent, its truest vibrancy. How are the people of struggling India to be honoured by the people of liberated India? By seeing this anniversary as more than a celebration of the past. By seeing it, to adapt a phrase from Abraham Lincoln, as a consecration of the present for the greatness of our future — in equity and freedom. (Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Jun 28, 2022 10:07 PM IST

India must protect its own ‘Antarcticas’ too

By enacting this The Indian Antarctic Bill, India gives itself the moral right to tell the world that its policy towards the earth’s only non-human continent should be: Respectful distance

By enacting this The Indian Antarctic Bil, India also gives to itself the ecological duty to protect the ecosystems, “Antarcticas” of its own, such as the fragile ecosystems of the Himalaya, the tropical forests in our Western Ghats (above) and the coral-reefs around the Rann of Kutch, the Lakshadweep and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Updated on May 13, 2022 05:50 PM IST

100 years ago, a movement of Hindu-Muslim oneness

The Khilafat movement’s leaders, the brothers Maulanas Mahomed Ali and Shaukat Ali, with Gandhi’s lead brought his ideal of Hindu-Muslim unity to near-fruition

Zuleikha’s grave is in Kolkata (in photo), her husband’s, Abul Kalam Azad’s, in Delhi. Distance separates them, faith in the destiny of India clasps them in love. (Wikimedia Commons)
Published on Apr 08, 2022 08:19 PM IST

An inspiring statement of honesty and courage

Ashish Jha’s statements as Biden’s new Covid-19 response coordinator comes from a keenness to own mistakes on a road that is rough, to learn from them, and to correct them 

His use of the “we” is important. It shows his sense of partnership with his colleagues and others helping him respond to the virus’s challenge in the US. (AP File Photo)
Published on Mar 25, 2022 07:28 PM IST

Another Lata will not be born again

There’s no one the singer admired more than Mahatma Gandhi for the love he bore for everyone

A photograph of a letter from Lata Mangeshkar to the author. At an event shortly after the 1993 Latur earthquake, she turned her performance into a collective reflection on the strengths of the people of India. (Gopalkrishna Gandhi)
Published on Feb 06, 2022 08:41 PM IST

Abide With Me must continue

For five decades, the 1847 composition has been Beating Retreat’s heartbeat. It is deeply soothing and healing in its quiet impact. Without the song, the ceremony will lose something at its heart

Even without the words being vocalised, the tune played on January 29 stirs with this powerful prayer (Amal KS/Hindustan Times)
Updated on Jan 23, 2022 09:18 PM IST
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