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Monday, October 5, 2009

Tara and Govind: The first couple of Objectivism in India

Tara and Govind Malkani were the first couple of objectivism in India. The Malkanis were beacons for objectivism in India, for almost four decades. Last week, on September 26, 2009, Govind Malkani, 77, passed away in Bombay. Almost ten years ago to the date, in Sept. 2000, Tara Malkani had died at the age of 73. In the late 1960s, and the 70s, the Malkanis were almost regulars at the annual Ford Hall Forum lecture by Ayn Rand in Boston.

Together the Malkanis hosted the Ayn Rand Club in Bombay for over thirty years. Over the years, they had collected almost every book, cassettes or video tapes by or on Ayn Rand, and objectivism.

I came to know the Malkanis in the mid 1980s. And for a few years in the late 1980s, she lent out the tapes from her collection, lectures of Ayn Rand, and others, for us and others to listen in over six cities across India. Many friendships were established at these clubs have continued till today.

It would be great to hear from those of you who had known the Malkanis personally, or had known about them. Some of my additional comments can be read on our website here.


  1. Dear Barun,

    I'm saddened to hear about the recent demise of Govind Malkani.

    I first contacted the Malkanis in 1989 after seeing their name in Impact, the newsletter of The Ayn Rand Institute (ARI), in the section on clubs in India to which ARI lent Dr. Leonard Peikoff's taped lectures on Objectivism.

    The Malkanis had the most fantastic collection of the Objectivist corpus I have ever seen and they were the most generous couple I have ever known, when it came to sharing it with those who were genuinely interested in grasping Ayn Rand's philosophy and applying it to their lives.

    I owe them an incalculable and irredeemable debt for the knowledge of Objectivism I gained during the time I frequented their home in Bombay to listen to the tapes and read the books that were part of their unique collection.

    Regarding Govind Malkani, he was unlike any individual of the older generation I have come across.

    I hate to say this, but in India, many of them from that generation are the kind who would be rather condescending and/or patronizing towards you simply because you were much younger than them. Their basic attitude went along the following lines: we are older than you, we have more experience of life than you, we know what is good for you, so just (blindly) do what we say.

    In contrast, Govind Malkani was the kind of man who encouraged you to think for yourself even when you were discussing Objectivism with him, as I did several times. If one asked him a question about it, he would usually come back with a counter question that would get one thinking about the original question, and as one independently (emphasis added) answered the question he had posed, one found oneself able to answer the very question one had asked, to begin with!

    For a student of Objectivism who's struggling to grasp and apply it (as I was at that time), I can't think of a better way for a teacher to foster intellectual independence.


    Ramesh Kaimal

  2. It is unfortunate to read this news about Govind Malkani even though I was expecting this to happen sometime soon anyway. He was rather old, but he still held on to his mental tenacity and wit. I enjoyed my meetings with him and was always so awe-struck by the collection of Ayn Rand and Objectivist materials he had. Very generously, Govind gave me photographs of Ayn Rand's autographed pages and many other souvenirs. He even gave me one of the earliest editions of ITOE.

    Spending time with Govind always meant you would come out learning something really new and fascinating about Objectivism or about its early days in India. He clearly enjoyed reciting his stories about Tara and the early Objectivist group.

    Govind had helped me and a few others for an article that was to appear in the Times of India. That article eventually did not end up coming out because the Mumbai attacks of 26-11 had just unfolded. And other news dominated the pages. I wish however that that article about Govind and Tara and other Objectivists in Mumbai had come out. Perhaps I can reach out to the reporter once again and remind him of it.
    The article would be timely now in so many ways, with Govind passing away but Ayn Rand's ideas living on in active groups across the nation.

    I am eager to know of what happens to his enviable collection of Objectivist material. Hopefully, serious students of Objectivism will have easy access to them for study.

  3. In the late eighties in Delhi, I was one of those who attended a series of taped lectures by Leonard Peikoff on Objectivism, lent out by Tara and Govind. My own understanding of Objectivism, and the enduring bonds and friendships from those sessions, are indeed a debt I owe to that amazing couple.

    I only met Tara once at her apartment in Bombay in the mid-nineties. With her short hair, bright piercing eyes and a great presence, I couldn't help imagining that I was meeting Ayn Rand herself!

    Govind was there too; quiet, arranging tea, smiling enigmatically as Tara quizzed me on my interest in Ayn Rand and her works. Could he not be Frank O'Connor?

    I was truly struck by the depth of passion that the couple had for the ideas they espoused. Their enduring legacy is in the seeds they planted, many of which are only now coming to fruition.

  4. I am posting here Jaisim's comments.


    I did have the opportunity to meet Tara in the 60s. She was a badminton champion and I was an young Ayn Rand enthusiast. And studying architecture.

    Later she would send me the tapes and other sources of information. But she wanted total response. And later after she got married and I moved on I did loose touch. But memories will always remain.

    Regarding the other issue raised - everyone reads The Fountainhead but none follow. I defer. There are many who do follow the principles. I run a practice titled Jaisim-Fountainhead - and whenever there is a possibility of straying I just look at the title or turn the pages of her writing and one is back on the track! Again I believe that I have achieved more in the real world than Roark did in the pages!


  5. I just learned about the passing of Mr. Malkani.
    He was my first boss. He introduced me to Ayn Rand. I attended a few of his Saturday meetings and I wish I had attended some more.
    I was his assistant at work for over 15 years and will always cherish the memory. I visited his home when I went to India in early 2009.