Incarnations: India in 50 Lives

By Prof Sunil Khilnani

On Going since May 2015 • Updated weekly

Over the course of 50 episodes, Sunil Khilnani, director of the King's India Institute in London, takes listeners on a whirlwind journey from ancient India to the 21st century through the prism of the life stories of 50 remarkable individuals. He will also explore their surprising afterlives, which illuminate both the astonishments and urgent conflicts of India today.

He begins with the Buddha, exploring the story of his life and how he has been reinvented in modern India by those who oppose the caste system. "Buddha's solution to suffering lay in the individual mind. But he was also sketching a new form of society," says Professor Khilnani. "He was a moral meritocrat, and to an extent a social one too."

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  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 17 Mar 2016

Professor Sunil Khinani, from the King's India Institute in London, looks at the life of Krishna Menon, the abrasive Indian diplomat and statesman who invented the concept of non-alignment. He was one of the most reviled figures of the Cold War era. The Americans regarded Menon as a "mischief maker"; the British thought he was in bed with the Soviets while the Soviets thought he was a lackey of the British; and the Chinese resented his attempts to school them in international affairs. The diplomat, who was the voice of India's foreign policy for almost two decades, pursued an agenda which deeply unsettled the superpowers. But, says Professor Khilnani, "Menon's approach helped give India an influential voice at the global diplomatic table, dominated by the big four powers." Producer: Mark Savage Music: Talvin Singh.. . .