Centre for World Environmental History

Book Launch: The Light of Asia, by Jairam Ramesh

Jairam Ramesh and Peter Heehs

On July 2nd, 11.30 am, we held a virtual book launch of Jairam Ramesh’s The Light of Asia, in conversation with historian Peter Heehs. 

In 1879 Sir Edwin Arnold published the epic poem "The Light of Asia", retelling the story of the Buddha. The poem would go on to inspire the founders of Independent India, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and B.R. Ambedkar. Jairam Ramesh's new book explores the background to this poem and the impact that it had on the future of India.

Jairam Ramesh, a Rajya Sabha MP, was Union minister between 2006 and 2014, holding several key portfolios including environment and forests. He is the author of several well-known books including Indira Gandhi: A Life in Nature and Intertwined Lives: P.N. Haksar and Indira Gandhi. His previous book, A Chequered Brilliance: The Many Lives of V.K. Krishna Menon won the Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF Book Prize 2020.

Peter Heehs is an independent scholar based in India. He has written or edited eleven books and published more than fifty articles. His publications include The Lives of Sri Aurobindo (Columbia University Press, 2008), Indian Religions: A Historical Reader of Spiritual Expression and Experience (New York University Press, 2002), Nationalism, Terrorism, Communalism (Oxford University Press, 1998, reprinted 2000, 2005, 2006) and The Bomb in Bengal: The Rise of Revolutionary Terrorism in India 1900-1910 (Oxford University Press, 1993). His books have been translated into Russian, Dutch, French and Japanese.