Naina Dayal teaches early Indian history at St Stephen’s College, University of Delhi.

Suhasini Haidar is the Diplomatic and National Editor of The Hindu, one of India’s most widely read and respected national dailies, where she writes regularly on Foreign policy issues. Over the course of her 25-year reporting career, Suhasini has covered the most challenging stories & conflicts from the most diverse regions including Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Libya, Lebanon and Syria, covered several Prime Ministerial visits worldwide, and interviewed a number of global leaders on the biggest stories of the time. Prior to this, Suhasini was Foreign Affairs editor and prime time anchor for English news channel CNN-IBN (2005-2014), and Correspondent for CNN International’s New Delhi bureau before that (1995-2005). Suhasini has contributed to many publications, and her essays have been included in books on Indian Foreign policy, the Kashmir conflict, and the India-China rivalry in South Asia, and on Fifty Years of Kissinger’s China visit.

Priya Atwal is a historian of empire, monarchy and cultural politics across Britain and South Asia. She has taught History at King’s College London and Oxford,
where she obtained her doctorate. She makes regular
broadcast appearances, most recently presenting the BBC Radio 4 series, Lies My Teacher Told Me.

David Loyn is an author, former BBC foreign correspondent and Visiting Senior Fellow in the Department of War Studies at King’s College, London. He has been reporting on Afghanistan since the mid-1990s, and in 2017, after leaving the BBC, he spent a year as an adviser on strategic communications in the office of the Afghan president.
His third book, THE LONG WAR – the Inside Story of America in Afghanistan since 9/11 is published in October 2021.

Bachi Karkaria is a game changer in India’s journalism, having
helped elevate local issues to Page 1 and creating path-breaking brands for the Times of India Group. She is also a popular columnist, best-selling author, litfest curator and international media trainer. She was the first Indian board member of the Paris-based World Editor’s Forum, a Jefferson Fellow from Hawaii’s East West Center, and recipient of the Mary Morgan Hewitt Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Karkaria’s books include the critically acclaimed In Hot Blood: The Nanavati Case That Shook India; the bestseller biography of M.S. Oberoi, Dare To Dream; Mills, Molls And Moola; Behind The Times; Mumbai Masti; The Cake That Walked; and collections of her columns. Her biography of Capt CP Krishnan Nair will be published in February 2022.

Fakir Aijazuddin is one of Pakistan’s leading scholars and art-historians whose specialty has been the history of the Punjab. He belongs to the famous Fakir family of Lahore which achieved considerable prominence during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
Aijazuddin has published a number of books on this period of Punjab history. The first was Pahari Paintings and Sikh Portraits in the Lahore Museum (1977), a catalogue of the miniature paintings collection in the Lahore Museum. The counterpart to it is in the Government Museum & Art Gallery, Chandigarh.
His second book Sikh Portraits by European Artists (1979) was a biographical study of the paintings in the Princes s Bamba Collection, Lahore Fort. The collection had once belonged to Maharaja Duleep Singh.
Amongst his other books are two books on Lahore, one on rare maps of Pakistan, an account of Henry Kissinger’s secret visit to China in 1971, another on US-Pakistan diplomatic relations between 1969 and 1974, two books on his alma mater Aitchsion College, Lahore, to commemorate its centenary (1986) and its 125th anniversary (2011).
He is a regular columnist for Pakistan’s leading daily DAWN.

Madhur Singh is currently managing editor at IndiaSpend, India’s foremost public interest data journalism website. She has previously been the India correspondent for Bloomberg Law and Time magazine, as well as a writer and editor with the World Economic Forum. She has a Master’s in International Relations from the University of Warwick, UK, and a Master’s in English Literature with Post-Colonial Studies from Panjab University, Chandigarh.

James Beard Award–winning journalist Jocelyn C. Zuckerman is the former deputy editor of Gourmet. Her articles have appeared in Audubon, The Nation, Vogue and The American Prospect. She graduated with honours from Columbia University’s Journalism School and was a fellow with the Alicia Patterson Foundation. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Writer-diplomat Pavan K. Varma is a graduate in History from St. Stephen’s College (securing the first position in the College), after which he took a degree in Law from the University of Delhi. He joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1976. He has been Press Secretary to the President of India, the Spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs, Joint Secretary for Africa, High Commissioner for India in Cyprus, Director of the Nehru Centre in London, Director General of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, New Delhi, and Ambassador of India to Bhutan.

A writer of depth and insight, he has written over a dozen best selling, books including the highly
successful Krishna: The Playful Divine (Penguin) on India’s most popular deity, the critically applauded biography of the Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib, Ghalib: The Man, The Times (Penguin), and the Havelis of Old Delhi. His first book on a contemporary subject was the path breaking The Great Indian Middle Class (Penguin) (published also in French), followed by the astoundingly successful Being Indian: The
Truth About Why the 21st Century Will Be India’s (Viking/Penguin 2004). Being Indian was described by The Economist as “one of the most subtle recent attempts to analyse the continent-sized mosaic of India and simplify it for the general reader.” It was published by Random House, in the United Kingdom, as Being Indian: Inside the Real India in March 2005. The Japanese, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Italian translations of this book were very well received. Another work is a witty adaptation of Vatsyayana’s Kama Sutra, which was published early in 2007 by Roli Books and has been translated into French and German.

Mr. Varma has also translated the poetry of Kaifi Azmi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and Gulzar (four
volumes), all published by Penguin.

His book titled: Becoming Indian: The Unfinished Revolution of Culture and Identity (Penguin-Allen Lane) was launched in February, 2010 and deals with the pivotal issues of culture and identity for postcolonial societies. A Hindi and a French edition has been published.

Mr. Varma’s first work of fiction When Loss is Gain was launched in January 2012 by Aleph to much critical acclaim. It is now to be made into a Bollywood film.

Gulzar’s translation of Mr. Varma’s epic poem Yudhister & Draupadi (alongwith the published original in English) was released in October-November 2013 by Penguin. Yudhister and Draupadi has now been adapted into a Play –‘Paansa’- written by Gulzar, with extensive performances both in India and abroad.

Mr. Varma’s book Chanakya’s New Manifesto: To Resolve the Crisis within India was launched by Aleph in January 2013. His book, The New Indian Middle Class: The Challenge of 2014 and Beyond, was published by Harper-Collins in 2014. His book ‘Chanakya’s View: Understanding
India in Transition’ (Westland-Amazon) was published in 2019. His book ‘The Greatest Ode to
LORD RAM: Tulsidas’s Ramcharitmanas’ (Westland-Amazon) was launched in 2020.

Mr. Varma’s book, ‘Adi Shankaracharya: Hinduism’s Greatest Thinker’ (Westland-
Amazon)’, was launched in April, 2018, with the presentation of the first copy to the Hon’ble President
of India. The book has also been published in Hindi, and Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Marathi, Bengali and Gujarati translations will be out shortly. The book has just won the Bengaluru Literature Festival prize for the Best Book of Non-Fiction for the year 2018. In 2018 he has also been conferred
an Honorary Doctorate by Sri Sharada Institute of Indian Management for his book ‘Adi
Shankaracharya: Hinduism’s Greatest Thinker’ (Westland-Amazon). Mr Varma has received the Kalinga International Literary Award 2019.

Mr. Varma’s latest book is ‘The Great Hindu Civilisation: Achievement, Neglect, Bias and
the Way Forward’ (Westland-Amazon).

Mr. Varma was conferred an Honorary Doctoral Degree for his contribution to the fields of
diplomacy, literature, culture and aesthetics by the University of Indianapolis in 2005. Mr. Varma
was also awarded by His Majesty the King of Bhutan, the Druk Thuksey Award, Bhutan’s highest
civilian Award. He is the only serving Indian Ambassador in Bhutan to have received this Award. Mr. Varma has also received the Lifetime Achievement Award by his school, St Xavier’s Delhi, and the
Distinguished Alumnus Award by St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi. In February 2019, he was
conferred the First ‘Wordsmith Award’ by the Words Count Festival in Pune. He has also been awarded the Kalinga International Literary Award for 2019.

A widely admired public speaker and television commentator, Pavan K. Varma’s columns appear
regularly in The Times of India, The Asian Age and several other leading publications. Mr Varma was till 1st January, 2013 the Indian Ambassador to Bhutan, after which he took premature retirement from service. In the same month, Mr Varma joined as Adviser (Culture) to the Chief Minister of Bihar, with the rank of Cabinet Minister. With effect from June, 2014 he was a Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) until July 2016. He was a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs, Committee on Government Assurances and Consultative Committee for the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. He was also been nominated to the Samsad (Court) of the Visva Bharati University, West Bengal, and the Court of Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

Mr. Varma lives in Delhi and can be contacted at his email

Picture credits: Aradhana Seth

One of the most celebrated writers of our time, Vikram Seth is the author of three novels—including A Suitable Boy and The Golden Gate (a novel in verse) that are widely regarded as modern classics—and two works of non-fiction. He has also written seven books of poetry, which include an opera libretto and a book of other libretti. He divides his time between the UK and India.

Beastly Tales from Here and There

Since they were first published in 1992, Vikram Seth’s glorious animal fables in verse have delighted young and old alike. Familiar characters in a magical new form—like the tortoise who outran the hare and the monkey who outwitted the greedy crocodile—take their place beside a freshly minted gallery of brilliantly quirky, comical creatures. Of the ten fables told here, two come from India, two from China, two from Greece, two from the Ukraine and two, the author tells us, directly ‘from the land of Gup’.

  • Arion and the Dolphin

An opera in nine scenes, Arion and the Dolphin is an enthralling libretto by Vikram Seth, set to music composed by Alec Roth. It tells the tale of Arion, a young musician at the court of Periander in Corinth. Thrown overboard on his return from a musical contest in Sicily, Arion is saved and befriended by a dolphin, but their sublime friendship ends in tragedy.

Written for amateurs and professionals, this libretto is a marvellous story that shimmers with Seth’s singular erudition, charm and poetic imagination.

Three Chinese Poets

Vikram Seth translates three T’ang dynasty poets—Wang Wei (699–761 AD), Li Bai (701–762 AD) and Du Fu (712–770 AD)—who are among the greatest literary figures not only of China, but also the world. Responding differently to their common times, these poets speak to us across a distance of twelve hundred years, and move us as it is rare for even poetry to do.

Translated with grace, empathy and superb craft, this collection is a masterpiece.

All You Who Sleep Tonight

Vikram Seth’s magnificent facility with language, his effortless access to the deepest reservoirs of feeling, and his ability to light up everyday moments are in full display in this collection of poems. He delves into the varieties of love—lost, remembered, and deferred. He speaks of life’s ironies, horrors and regrets in ‘other voices’: the poet Mirza Ghalib; a German commander at Auschwitz; a Japanese doctor in Hiroshima after the bombing. Poignant, witty and wise by turns, and always deeply and bravely human, the poems in these pages are unforgettable.


In this, Vikram Seth’s first book of poems, we are introduced to work written in his twenties, when he was a student in England and, later, California. These poems—about love, life and landscape—are intimate, inventive and immediate. Interspersed with original poems are translations of a poem each by Du Fu (Chinese), Faiz Ahmed Faiz (Urdu), Heinrich Heine (German) and Suryakant Tripathi Nirala (Hindi). The poems in Mappings enchant and impress with their controlled emotion and lyricism, classical learning, wit and perceptiveness—all facets of Vikram Seth’s now famed achievement.

The Humble Administrator’s Garden

In his second collection of poems, Vikram Seth reflects on three cultures he knows well: India, California and China. He writes about Chinese noblemen and hermits; lovers whom he has outgrown or who have outgrown him; the night sounds and sights on a deserted California beach; the power of moonlight and music to both hurt and heal.


The Rivered Earth

Drawing on a range of personal experience and literary influences, and mixing translation and original creation, The Rivered Earth consists of four verse libretti written by Vikram Seth for the composer Alec Roth and violinist Philippe Honoré. The first three, entitled ‘Songs in Time of War’, ‘Shared Ground’ and ‘The Traveller’, are about places—China during the T’ang dynasty, the Salisbury house of the English poet George Herbert, and India, where the poet returned in late middle age. The fourth libretto, ‘Seven Elements’, is about earth, water, wood, metal, fire, air and space—and about ageing and mortality.

Spanning centuries of creativity and humanity, these poems, accompanied by four pieces of calligraphy by Seth, pulse with life, energy and the inspired brilliance of the poet. The Rivered Earth is a work of immense beauty.

Rahul Singh has been a writer, journalist and editor of Readers Digest, Indian Express, Sunday Observer.He has penned, among other books, an engaging biography of his father Khushwant Singh, In The Name of the Father, which was launched by Amitabh Bachchan.He is a Life Member of the Delhi Public School Society. He was President of the media awards committee at the Population Institute Washington.

Rahul studied in 11 schools as his father was posted all over during his years in the foreign service. It was here, at an Elysee in Paris that he picked up his French. He graduated in History from Kings College, Cambridge.

Dr. Indira Chandrasekhar is a scientist, writer, literary curator and the founder and principal editor of Out of Print, a primary platform for short fiction bearing a connection to the Indian subcontinent. The journal marked its tenth year with the publication of a print volume containing 30 stories from the its archives that was brought out with Context Books, the literary imprint of Westland Publishers.
Indira’s fiction focuses on the short form and draws on her scientific experience. Published in anthologies and literary journals across the world, a collection of her short stories, Polymorphism, was brought out by HarperCollins.

Eleanor Nesbitt met Khushwant Singh briefly in 1984. Before that Eleanor had taught in Naini Tal and researched Sikh communities in Nottingham, UK. Since then she has been at the University of Warwick (now as Professor Emerita). Her publications include Sikhism A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2nd edn 2016). She co-authored (with Gopinder Kaur) Guru Nanak (Bayeux Arts, 1999, e-book 2019) and (with Kailash Puri) Pool of Life: The Autobiography of a Punjabi Agony Aunt (Sussex Academic, 2013). She is co-editor of Brill’s Encyclopedia of Sikhism and her publications include Sikh: Two Centuries of Western Women’s Art and Writing (Kashi House, forthcoming 2022).

Sarbpreet Singh is a Boston based writer, podcaster and commentator. His newest book, The Story of the Sikhs 1469 – 1708, a retelling of Sikh History, was published in June 2021 by Penguin Random House. He is the author of the critically acclaimed Night of the Restless Spirits (Penguin Random House) a collection of short fiction about 1984 and the bestselling The Camel Merchant of Philadelphia, (Westland/Tranquebar) set in the court of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. He is also the writer-narrator of the Story of The Sikhs podcast, currently in its third season, which has listeners in over ninety countries and the founder of The Gurmat Sangeet Project, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving Sikh Sacred Music. In partnership with J.Mehr Kaur, Sarbpreet Singh co-wrote and produced the groundbreaking theatrical production, Kultar’s Mime, which told the tale of the anti-Sikh violence of 1984, presenting it ninety times in six countries and reviving a global conversation about the traumatic events of 1984.


Sahitya Akademi winner and Padma Shri Amitav Ghosh is the first English-language writer to be conferred the Jnanpith Award. He is the author of acclaimed books such as The Circle of Reason, The Shadow Lines, In an Antique Land, Dancing in Cambodia, The Calcutta Chromosome, The Glass Palace, The Hungry Tide, of the Ibis Trilogy, The Great Derangement and most recently, Gun Island. His books have been translated into more than 20 languages.

Bittu Sahgal is the Founder of the Sanctuary Nature Foundation, Editor of Sanctuary Asia, India’s first and largest circulating wildlife and ecology magazine (1981) and Founder-Editor of Sanctuary Cub (1984), India ’ s oldest and only wildlife magazine for children. He was closely involved with Project Tiger since its inception in the 1970s, and has spent over four decades writing about and calling attention to conservation issues in books, magazines and newspapers in both English and regional languages. He has also produced 30 wildlife documentaries, led national and international environmental campaigns across media platforms, including social media. He created Kids for Tigers, a conservation programme for school children that has reached over a million children and has been run successfully for almost two decades.

Bittu has served on a range of government and nongovernment organisation boards and committees over the last 30 years, including the National Board for Wildlife (Government of India), the IUCN (World Conservation Union), The Wild Foundation (U.S.A) and the Expert Appraisal Committee for Infrastructure, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India.

He works with policymakers, social workers, economists and scientists at the tri-junction of biodiversity, climate change and economics, speaking at national and international platforms in support of wilderness conservation while continuing to spearhead the work of the Sanctuary Nature Foundation.

Nonita Kalra has three decades of media experience, in print and television. From 2016, till 2020, she was the Editor of HARPER’S BAZAAR  India. Prior to that (from 2000 to 2012), she was the Editor-in-Chief of ELLE India, where she spent nearly 13 years, at the helm . She has been an influencer in fashion, beauty and lifestyle; her ideas and her initiatives have shaped careers and launched trends. 

Nonita’s consultancies have included a special beauty project with Godrej Consumer Products Ltd — working on building a new brand (2013). In 2015, she consulted with the Fashion Design Council of India for two fashion weeks.

Nonita has also written columns for The Indian Express, The Economic Times, the DailyO website and Forbes Life magazine. Her work has also appeared in Man’s World, Vogue and Grazia, as well.

She has been the Editor-in-Chief, Tata Cliq Luxury, since February 2021.

Author, filmmaker and an influencer, Tahira Kashyap Khurrana is known for her candid style of storytelling.

The Best Selling Author made her writing debut with ‘I Promise.. A Story of Love and Deceit’, post which Tahira presented successful launches like ‘Souled Out’ and ‘Cracking The Code: My Journey To Bollywood’, co-authored by Ayushmann Khurrana, and emerged as the Quarantine Writer with ’12 Commandments of Being A Woman’, releasing last year and ‘The 7 Sins of Being A Mother’ releasing recently.

Her latest book has been receiving a roaring response from readers across quarters, hailing the earnest depiction of women in the most hilarious manner.

Emerging as a strong icon of influence for women empowerment, Tahira Kashyap Khurrana has subtly offered a voice to her characters fighting the patriarchal norms in the most entertaining ways.

From the success of ‘Toffee’, ‘Pinni’ to her last release ‘Quaranteen Crush’, Tahira has created her own style of storytelling that appeals the audience.

Also a co-founder of Indian Women Rising, a cinema collective established in order to shed light on Indian female filmmakers across the world, Tahira Kashyap Khurrana has actively worked towards the upliftment of women in the society.

Currently, gearing up for her debut feature film ‘Sharmajee Ki Beti’, Tahira has generated huge anticipation for her first directorial venture with a strong, bankable cast.


Devaki Jain graduated in economics and philosophy from St Anne’s College, Oxford and is an Honorary Fellow of the college. She is a recipient of the Padma Bhushan (2006) and an honorary doctorate from the University of
Westville, Durban, South Africa.

Jairam Ramesh is presently a Member of Parliament and Chairman of Parliament’s Standing Committee on Science & Technology, Environment, Forests & Climate Change. He was Union Minister handling different portfolios between 2006 and 2014 including Environment and Forests. He has played a leadership role in global climate change negotiations. He is a well-known author as well and his most recent book is The Light of Asia: The Poem that Defined the Buddha. His previous book A Chequered Brilliance: The Many Lives of V.K. Krishna Menon was a co-winner of the 2020 Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay Book Prize of the New India Foundation.

Jayati Ghosh taught economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi for nearly 35 years. She is currently Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, USA.  She has authored and/or edited 20 books. Recent books include “The making of a catastrophe: Covid-19 and the Indian economy”, Aleph Books forthcoming 2021; “When governments fail: Covid-19 and the economy”, forthcoming Tulika Books; “Women workers in the informal economy”, Routledge 2021; “Never Done and Poorly Paid: Women’s Work in Globalising India”, Women Unlimited, New Delhi 2009; co-edited “Elgar Handbook of Alternative Theories of Economic Development, 2014; co-edited “After Crisis”, Tulika 2009;  co-authored  “Demonetisation Decoded”, Routledge 2017; She has published more than 200 scholarly articles. She has received several prizes, including for the 2015 Adisheshaiah Award for distinguished contributions to the social sciences in India; the International Labour Organisation’s Decent Work Research Prize for 2011; the NordSud Prize for Social Sciences 2010, Italy. She has advised governments in India and other countries, including as Chairperson of the Andhra Pradesh Commission on Farmers’ Welfare in 2004, and Member of the National Knowledge Commission of India (2005-09).

She is the Executive Secretary of International Development Economics Associates (, an international network of heterodox development economists. She has consulted for international organisations including ILO, UNDP, UNCTAD, UN-DESA, UNRISD and UN Women and is member of several international boards and commissions, including the UN High Level Advisory Board on Economic and Social Affairs, the Commission on Global Economic Transformation of INET, the International Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation (ICRICT). In 2021 she was appointed to the WHO Council on the Economics of Health for All, chaired by Mariana Mazzucato. She writes regularly for popular media like newspapers, journals and blogs.

Vikram Seth Acrostic