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 26 Feb 2016

Sunil Khilnani explores the thwarted revolutionary ambitions of Chidambaram Pillai. Chidambaram Pillai was a feisty baby-faced lawyer from Tuticorin in southern India. His is one of the many, largely forgotten stories of failure that litter the path to independence. But it's also a fascinating story, of an up-country lawyer without economic resource, social status or political power taking on the might of Empire. And he chose an unlikely way to resist the British: steam ships. Featuring historian David Washbrook. Producer: Martin Williams.. . .