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 14 Mar 2016

Professor Sunil Khilnani, from the King's India Institute, looks at the life of Bhimrao Ambedkar, champion of the community previously known as 'untouchables' whom he renamed as Dalits. Ambedkar, who was a Dalit himself and fought against caste discrimination. His face can be found on posters, paintings and coloured tiles in tens of millions of Dalit homes. To Indian schoolchildren, he is the man who wrote the country's constitution; and to India's politicians he is a public emblem of how far India has come in addressing the blight of caste. "Both readings simultaneously exaggerate and ghettoize Ambedkar's contribution," says Professor Khilnani. "He was a sophisticated, long-sighted Constitutional collaborator whose interests extended past caste to the very structure and psychology of Indian democracy." Producer: Mark Savage.. . .