Ramachandra Guha’s latest offering, Democrats and Dissenters, switches gears from Page 143, and becomes riveting for the reader. It is from here that the book’s second part begINS—Ideologies and Intellectuals—which comprises thumbnail sketches of social thinkers, Indians and non-Indians alike, who were an INSpiration to Guha or whom he admires for their research, craft of writing, and, often, for defying the intellectual fashion of their times. Their profiles, for most parts, are scintillating; the gem among them being an account of the historian D.D. Kosambi’s father, Dharmanand Kosambi.
For Guha to become stimulating only after 140-odd pages is a letdown, spoilt as we have been by his digging up archives for details of India’s past and stitching these together in insightful narratives. More pertinently, his works are accessible to readers outside academia. Opacity is not his trait. This is primarily the reason why Guha has emerged as one of India’s foremost public intellectuals.