Amol Rajan: Chance to hear one of the world's great minds, for free

FreeView from the editors at i

Share

One of the finest minds in the world has spent the past year in London, barely noticed by a media class that (like your correspondent) is fond of bemoaning a decline in standards.

Yet though his tenure as Philippe Roman Chair in History and International Affairs at the London School of Economics is coming to an end, the impact that Ramachandra Guha has had on those lucky enough to share a hall with him has been profound.

On Tuesday, in his penultimate lecture in the current post (where he succeeded Niall Ferguson), he authored a scintillating 90 minutes on the relationship between Indian history and cricket. His final lecture, on Indian democracy, is next Tuesday.

The much-garlanded Dr Guha is one of those exceptionally erudite men who can pronounce on a huge array of subjects, from ecological history to sport and the vagaries of liberalism.

As a speaker, he is electric, full of quizzical anecdotes and very funny. As an author, he has produced a series of seminal works. Just as Tony Judt's Postwar is the history of Europe after 1945, so Guha's panoramic India After Gandhi is the history of independent India. I have read a few books on cricket, and his A Corner Of A Foreign Field is matched only by C L R James' Beyond A Boundary as the greatest of all.

And the completely bonkers, thrilling thing about all this is not just the fact of Dr Guha's mere existence; nor the fact that he is sojourning on these shores; but the fact that you can see him for free. That's right, free. Pay zilch. A guest list for all.

Like supping the finest vintage, listening to a great lecture is a taste of well-matured wisdom. Most people wouldn't give away their best bottle – but at the LSE, that's what they're doing with Dr Guha. That may be one reason that Mervyn King, the Bank of England's Governor, was in the hall, along with distinguished cricketers-turned-journalists Ed Smith and Mike Atherton.

I remember thinking years ago, on reading John Carey's The Intellectual And The Masses, that most academics must be haughty types, closeted away in their cloisters, not interested in firing the imaginations of the less educated.

The talented and inspirational Dr Guha proves that view to be wrong, and personifies the extraordinary and free opportunities available to audiences in this country, if only we bothered to look.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Ashdown Group: IT Manager - Salesforce / Reports / CRM - North London - NfP

£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and reputable Not for Profit o...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger & Credit Control Assistant

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Ledger & Credit Control...

Day In a Page

Read Next
MP David Lammy would become the capital’s first black mayor if he won the 2016 Mayoral election  

Crime, punishment and morals: we’re entering a maze with no clear exit

Simon Kelner
 

The two most important parts of Obama’s legacy could be on the brink of collapse, and this time there's no back-up plan

David Usborne
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn