This is the next generation of Indian intellectuals

(Published in The Print, December 27 2018)

India’s top intellectuals nominate the next generation. Here is their list of some of the brightest minds on the horizon.

Intellectuals are an essential component of an open society — they bring their unique analytical insights to not only scrutinise the society in its immediate form but also help shape the ideas and ideologies of the future. They conduct research, deploy critical thinking, reason, teach, author books, challenge dogma and equip us with cognitive tools to engage with the world we inhabit — just for the love of knowledge, or for the greater human good.

India has a rich and ancient tradition of producing such thinkers, teachers and philosophers who have contributed to the creation of new schools of thought that have travelled and established themselves far beyond Indian shores too. They have also passed on their learnings and discoveries to successive generations to preserve, innovate upon and further.

But who are the next generation of Indian intellectuals in the modern times we inhabit? The next Ramachandra Guha, the next Arvind Panagariya, the next Ashok Gulati, the next Raghuram Rajan, the next Makarand Paranjape, or the next Shashi Tharoor?

Over the last few months, ThePrint spoke to some of the biggest names in Indian intelligentsia and asked them who, in their opinion, are the brightest minds on the horizon — in history, economics, sociology, political studies, law, strategic affairs, philosophy, public affairs, and inter-disciplinary studies, among others.

What follows is a long and impressive list of next-gen intellectuals who have begun to make a mark and given notice of their coming brilliance. Some of the nominees were directly mentored by the veterans who named them while the others are those whose work they track closely.

…..Shashi Tharoor, 62

A Member of Parliament and former union minister, Tharoor has also served at the United Nations as Under Secretary General. He has authored many bestselling books, the latest being The Paradoxical Prime Minister. His picks are:

Gurmehar Kaur, 22

Kaur is a student activist and author of Small Acts of Freedom. She studied English literature at Lady Shri Ram College for Women, Delhi University. She is also an ambassador for Postcards for Peace, a UK-based charitable organisation that helps eliminate any form of discrimination.

Tharoor said of her: “Gurmehar is a woman with a distinctive voice, someone who has the courage to express her convictions even in the face of challenging circumstances, as well as the charm to deliver a compelling argument. India’s social fabric needs more of what Gurmehar has to offer.”

Manu S. Pillai, 28

Pillai is the author of award-winning books The Ivory Throne: Chronicles of the House of Travancore, and Rebel Sultans: The Deccan from Khilji to Shivaji. He has served as Tharoor’s former chief of staff, and has worked at Britain’s House of Lords with Lord Bilimoria. He has also assisted the BBC with its history series Incarnations.

“Manu is a brilliant historian and an evocative writer who has rekindled many a reader’s love for, and fascination with, unusual historical tales. His masterful non-fiction books, The Ivory Throne (2015) and Rebel Sultans (2018), and his weekly column with Mint Lounge reflect how Manu’s impeccably-researched and wonderfully-written stories continue to whet the average amateur historian’s appetite,” Tharoor said.

Piyush Tewari, 38

Tewari is founder and CEO of SaveLIFE Foundation, a non-profit organisation committed to improving road safety and emergency medical care in India. SLF is closely associated with Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City.

“Piyush Tewari’s SaveLIFE Foundation is a shining example of how an effective, mission-driven, non-profit, non-governmental organisation can create tangible and sustainable impact on our daily lives,” Tharoor said.

“His work, particularly on raising awareness of road safety issues and building broad political support for national road safety legislation, as well as in ushering in a Good Samaritan law, will continue to have a profound impact on our society for years to come”….