The eminent Indian Islamic scholar and writer Rafiq Zakaria has died at his residence in the western city of Mumbai, also known as Bombay.
Zakaria's book on Gujarat riots explored rising communalism in India
The 79-year-old complained of acute back pain shortly before he died early on Saturday morning.
A scholar on Indian politics and religion, Dr Zakaria was a prolific writer on India, Islam and British imperialism.
He was also associated with India's ruling Congress party.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described Dr Zakaria as a "true patriot, nationalist and great scholar" in a condolence message to his family, the Press Trust of India said.
A doctorate from the University of London, Dr Zakaria also represented India at the United Nations.
His books include studies of former Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and the founder of Pakistan, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, and an intellectually provocative study on whether Mahatma Gandhi was responsible for the break-up of India.
Dr Zakaria's book 'Communal Rage In Secular India' explored the rising communalism in his country in the aftermath of the riots in western Gujarat state in 2000.
Last month, Dr Zakaria criticised India's main opposition leader LK Advani for describing Mr Jinnah as a "man who made history" during a visit to Pakistan.
"By calling Jinnah a man who created history, Advani tacitly endorsed the two-nation theory, the partition of India and the unprecedented violence that went with it," the feisty scholar told The Times of India newspaper in an interview.
He is survived by his wife, a daughter and three sons, including Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International magazine.