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Amitav Ghosh’s new book, Smoke and Ashes: A Writer’s Journey Through Opium’s Hidden Histories is the story of how, under the aegis of the British Empire, India became the world’s largest producer of opium. It also traces the transformative impact that the opium trade had on India, China, Britain and the United States, with profound long-term consequences for the birth of the modern world, and of contemporary globalism.

Many of the world’s  biggest corporations got their start in the colonial opium trade. But the opium economy also had significant effects influencing migration and settlement patterns, and touching upon millions of lives, including those of his own forefathers.

Smoke and Ashes tells the story of how this common and deceptively humble plant has shaped the modern world, and the key part it is now playing in the unmaking of that world. It is at once a travelogue, a memoir and an excursion into history, both economic and cultural.

In this episode of BIC Talks, the author Amitav Ghosh, speaks about the making and execution of his exciting book and, engages in a conversation with Ramachandra Guha, which took place in the BIC premises in July 23 2023.

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