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Take pride in owning this veritable treasure

Monday, November 15, 2010

Makers of Modern India by Ramachandra Guha re-introduces us to nineteen Indians we have all famously heard of and have many opinions about. Guha has provided well selected excerpts from their writings and has also gleaned little known aspects that show them as so much more human, even while they continue to enjoy the almost demi-god status for the role they have played in the evolution of our republic. 

Guha has gone through a painstaking process of choosing whom to write about and feature in this volume, while suffering the pangs of having to leave some notable names out. In that sense, no compilation on this part and period of Indian history will ever be deemed complete and comprehensive. 

As Guha writes: The men and women featured in this book did not speak in one voice. Their perspectives were sometimes complementary and more often competitive. 

But they were always instructive. Their writings had a defining impact on the formation and revolution of the Indian republic. They explored how to promote national unity amidst religious diversity and discord; how to advance the rights of women and low castes. 

Among those not included are two iconic leaders of the national movement - Subhas Chandra Bose and Vallabhbhai Patel, Indira Gandhi, thinkers Aurobindo Ghose and Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, spiritualists like Swami Vivekananda and Dayanand Saraswati, and the venerable Dadabhai Naoroji. 

Read the spectacular writings of (Raja) Rammohun Roy, India’s first liberal who, in 1818, wrote and campaigned against the wretched system of sati, in 1824 he organised a protest against restrictions imposed against the press. Muslim modernist Syed Ahmad Khan, agrarian radical Jotirao Phule, reformer Gopal Krishna Gokhale, militant nationalist Bal Gangadhar Tilak, feminist Tarabai Shinde, M.K. Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, B.R. Ambedkar, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, radical reformer E.V. Ramaswami, social feminist Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay, Jawaharlal Nehru, Hindu supremacist M.S. Golwalkar, socialists Rammanohar Lohia and Jayaprakash Narayan, Gandhian liberal C. Rajagopalachari, defender of tribals Verrier Elwin and modernist Hamid Dalwai.  

Makers of Modern India by Ramachandra Guha
Penguin Books India
Price Rs.799



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