Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Explaining a long break

It's hard to explain an eight-month-long hiatus without starting with an apology for both the break and not informing any interested readers about it. But as it happens, it was a fruitful eight months spent studying for a postgraduate degree in Politics and International Relations: a fascinating experience which has helped me learn more in eight months than I had in the last couple of years. I've been so busy reading non-fiction: academic journals, articles and books that the number of novels I've read during this time has been embarrassingly low (which explains my reluctance to blog). But the fiction I did read was wonderful (I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith is without a doubt one of my all-time favourite books now, I adored Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day) and the non-fiction was inspirational and thought-provoking (Michael Billig's Banal Nationalism, Ashis Nandy's The Romance of the State, Srirupa Roy's Beyond Belief: India and the Politics of Postcolonial Nationalism, among others).

My areas of interest would have been very obvious to anybody who has read my blog: Indian history (especially the colonial Raj and Partition), politics and diplomacy. I've been focusing on these very topics during my studies and it has been a wonderful learning experience that has lead to a passion for understanding postcolonialism, nationalism, gender in politics and foreign policy and the annoying habit of trying to slip in the word 'subaltern' as much as I can (as you can see..).

I will be busy with my thesis/dissertation for the next couple of months and therefore, I cannot promise to be back to blogging as usual. But I do hope to share what I'm reading (and my thoughts about it) in the coming weeks/months, possibly in a new blog (Wordpress? Tumblr?).

Thank you to those who messaged me/left comments saying they missed my blog posts and asking me if I was alright. It was touching to know that people enjoyed reading my blog so much. I hope all my favourite readers and  bloggers have been doing great. I certainly missed reading the classics and genres I so adore and blogging about it, but I'm very thankful for everything I have been learning during this break.

Edited this post to add that I have just updated my list of India-related book recommendations with the best books I have been reading recently. Do check it out (and feel free to leave any suggestions you have)!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Mansfield Park - Jane Austen

Rating: 7/10

Simultaneously referred to as the toughest to read, most uninteresting, most controversial of Austen's popular six novels, Mansfield Park is all that and more. The story of good, honest, mildly annoying Fanny Price, moralizing, more annoying, incredibly boring Edmund Bertram is one of an unlikely hero and a heroine, a far cry from the Elizabeth Bennets and the Captain Wentworths of the Austen world. Indeed the two other major characters of Mansfield Park, the glamorous and utterly fascinating brother and sister duo of Henry and Mary Crawford are far more interesting. 

However, Mansfield Park is easily the most intriguing of Austen's books, for it tends to be the antithesis of Pride and Prejudice. The setting is so much more grim, realistic, and despite the tongue in cheek commentary and ridiculously brilliant comic interludes in the form of Mrs. Norris, remains a far cry from the unabashed entertainment of Pride and Prejudice. Indeed, the heroine of Mansfield Park is more a Mary than Elizabeth Bennet and it wouldn't be a stretch to compare Edmund's sermons to Mr.Collins'. 

For the reader expecting a conventional Austen tale, this is a rather incredible experience: a love story where it is easier to like the 'adversaries' and their charm,wit rather than the protagonists to whom you wouldn't mind saying the Regency-equivalent of 'Please loosen up'.

The Bertrams of Mansfield Park offer a home for their relative Fanny Price, away from the chaos and problems of her own family. Constantly shown her place by her aunt Mrs.Norris, Fanny grows up timid and shy, with only her cousin Edmund to offer her comfort and real care. As the charming Crawfords capture the imagination and hearts of her cousins, Fanny isn't too sure of her feelings towards them. 

Much like most of the inhabitants of Mansfield Park, the reader too is likely to be enamoured by Henry and Mary Crawford. Therefore, when Austen sets up the book as Fanny and Edmund vs Henry and Mary, with Henry professing attachment for Fanny as Edmund does for Mary, she plays with the sympathies of the reader. Mansfield Park challenges the traditional notions of a likable heroine and a hero everyone is ready to fall in love with. 

I will be the first to admit that reading Mansfield Park wasn't all easy going. While the typical wondrous satire of Austen is sure to keep one entertained, the fact that I wasn't all that emotionally invested in many of the main characters might have dampened my excitement. Like all of Austen's works, Mansfield Park  is eminently quotable:

"But there certainly are not so many men of large fortune in the world as there are pretty women to deserve them."

"A large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of."

"In a review of the two houses, as they appeared to her before the end of a week, Fanny was tempted to apply to them Dr. Johnson's celebrated judgment as to matrimony and celibacy, and say, that though Mansfield Park might have some pains, Portsmouth could have no pleasures."

"An engaged woman is always more agreeable than a disengaged. She is satisfied with herself. Her cares are over, and she feels that she may exert al her powers of pleasing without suspicion. All is safe with a lady engaged; no harm can be done" 

As for the characters, Mrs.Norris is an incredible creation of comic genius. Exasperating to the point of calling Mrs.Bennet subtle and restrained, pointlessly wicked and mind-numbingly petty and miserly, she is an unforgettable character. [Part of me thinks that Austen made Edmund marry Fanny precisely because Mrs Norris predicts early in the book that they won't] Deservedly, she finds a place among 100 favourite fictional characters as chosen by 100 literary luminariesSally Beauman picked Mrs.Norris and provided us with a spot-on description:

"Mrs Norris in the glittering satire Mansfield Park, is Austen's most profound, subtle portrait of the banality of evil"

Mansfield Park is a rude shock to the reader who has imagined Austen as exemplified by the unforgettable Elizabeth-Darcy romance. Which is what, in my opinion, makes it mandatory reading for Austen fans. You might not adore the book, but it is worth reading for being a brave, unconventional satire. Mansfield Park would also make an excellent book club read, for the simple fact that there is so much to discuss: everything from how on earth Edmund thinks he could '..persuade her that her warm, sisterly regard for him would be foundation enough for wedded love' to what would happen if Mrs.Norris ever knew she inspired an annoying cat.

Recommended reading, to understand Mansfield Park better: How do you solve a problem like Fanny Price? by Lynn Shepherd

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

An Irony To Remember: Passports before Partition

I've always believed that one of the most fascinating things for a history buff is to spot and acknowledge the many ironies in history. Not just because they give us a chance to compare and contrast, but because they give us an idea of how much we have derailed from what many of our ancestors took for granted. These ironies also provide us a guiding light, if we show the courage to remember and learn from the past.

The history of the partition of British India and the birth of the two nation states of India and Pakistan is one that is littered with remarkable stories and ironies. Here's one that I'd like to share:

To quote Mahatma Gandhi is a national obsession of sorts, and not without reason. Everyone eagerly quotes the need to 'be the change' and not take 'an eye for an eye', to 'hate the sin and love the sinner'. However, some Gandhi quotes seem less sacred than others, even when they are arguably more significant. In fact, perhaps because they are more significant and slightly more inconvenient. Case in point:

“I do not consider Pakistan and India as two different countries. If I have to go to the Punjab, I am not going to ask for a passport. And I shall go to Sind also without a passport and I shall go walking. Nobody can stop me.”
[Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Speech at Prayer Meeting, 16th June 1947]

The India-Pakistan border is today one of the most dangerous borders in the world and boasts of rigorous, strict visa regimes on both sides. The two neighbours have fought several wars and are deeply distrustful of each other. Indeed, it is hard to reconcile the fact that anyone could have ever thought of going to Sindh from Delhi without a passport. And before people dismiss this as the rantings of a disappointed old man, it is important to point out that Gandhi wasn't the only one to think so.

"In the summer of 1947 few could appreciate the full connotations of the division which would ultimately result in some of the harshest border regulations in the world; indeed one newspaper headline read ‘Passport rules believed to be needless at present’ [The Great Partition, Yasmin Khan]

Strange and quite overwhelming for those of us born long after independence, on either side of the border, to imagine this was even considered possible. The horrors of Partition are vital to understanding India and Pakistan. But equally important is the need to understand sentiments that prevailed in the lead-up to August 1947 and how Independence, Partition and its aftermath changed them.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Imagine this scenario

You are a British judge who agrees to draw the line that will, in essence, partition the two sensitive regions of Bengal and Punjab through the Boundary Commission and thereby create the maps of India and Pakistan. 

You've never been to India and you're landing in India only to decide how to divide her best. Apparently, the British Government in India thought this was a smart idea since it proved your neutrality. But how can you decide to partition an area you've never even visited? They had an answer: maps. 

So imagine yourself using the 20th century equivalent of Google Maps to draw the borders of new countries. That's sort of what happened. It would have been a fun thing, to take a pencil, ponder over a map and draw a line where you think is best. But sadly, this was all too real and all too serious, where a flick of the pencil and a line drawn slightly slanted, gave birth to conflicts and disputes that exist till date. A rather dubious, slipshod way for two new nation states to be born, boundaries decided by a man who has never even visited the villages his Line broke into parts.

Now let's see the material at your disposal to help you decide which regions go to which country: a census that was six years out of date. At a time when small populations had already moved from place to place, rendering any census quite irrelevant.

And oh, your decision will impact about 88 million people at that time, and thousands thereafter. No pressure. 

As you thank your lucky stars that you never were in that awful position, here's the name of the man who was: Sir Cyril Radcliffe. The man who gave his name to a line that partitioned India and Pakistan, the Radcliffe Line. 

Wiki informs me that Sir Cyril Radcliffe refused his salary of 40000 rupees after seeing the mayhem occurring on both sides of the boundary that was created by him. The least he could do, I would imagine, after the guilt of that rather thankless job.

{Radcliffe line facts found in Yasmin Khan's The Great Partition: The Making of India and Pakistan are predominantly used here}

Recommended Reading: Drawing the Indo-Pakistani Boundary by Lucy Chester.

This is the first in what I hope will be a series of posts about Partition and the Indian struggle for Independence,  as India and Pakistan get ready to celebrate their independence days.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand - Helen Simonson

Rating: 9/10


Every once in a while there comes a book which tackles serious, crucial issues in a seemingly effortless fashion, with heart and elegance. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand is one such heart-warming tale. Set in the beautiful English countryside, in the village of Edgecombe St. Mary, this is the story of a 68 year old retired English Major falling in love with the charming 58 year old Pakistani shopkeeper Mrs.Ali. 

As the two find companionship, friendship and love, we realise theirs is no ordinary love story. It is one that is trapped in the conflict of rigid traditions and suspicion on either side, multiculturalism facing its litmus test in the face of subtle yet piercing racism.

Helen Simonson writes like a dream; a dream that brings to life the quaint countryside and the quirks and eccentricities of its people with great wit and charm. Major Pettigrew and Mrs.Ali, united by the loss of their loved ones, their love of literature, make a fascinating couple. The Major is very much a traditionalist (he cannot bear to hear his son use the Royal family as the punchline of a joke), chivalrous, sarcastic and quite hard to dislike. In many a way, Major Pettigrew might be the older version of the oft-referred quintessential 'English gentleman'. Simonson paints a character who despite his stereotypical dislike of certain things/people (his son's American girlfriend whom he initially dislikes mostly for just the fact that she's an American), will grow to accept and adore them once he gets to know them better. 

Mrs.Ali is a wonderful character: a staunch liberal, she firmly believes in making her own decisions, is unfailingly  polite but won't put up with the disdain of others.  The Major and Mrs.Ali are the kind of people who would make wonderful dinner guests: charming, courteous and most likely to provide intelligent conversations on everyone from Kipling to Johnson.

What makes Major Pettigrew's Last Stand special is how beautifully it focuses on the simple joys of life, while delving into complex issues of immense importance: the multicultural experience, how the British society reacts to people who hail from former colonies, racism. Simonson is a delightful, incredibly witty, very quotable writer who handles sensitive themes such as multicultural relationships, falling in love after 60 with understated elegance and respect. Her exquisite turn of phrase is captivating:

'Garden gates and driveways gave glimpses of well-stocked gardens and thick lawns studded with clover clumps and dandelions. He liked the clover, evidence of the country always pressing in close, quietly sabotaging anyone who tried to manicure nature into suburban submission' 

Comparisons with Jane Austen ,which is what drew me to this book in the first place, are  justified, for Simonson makes sparkling satirical observations on society. Indeed Austen would be proud of this line:

'When true love combines with clear financial motive, all objections must be swept away' 

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand is a triumph for how skilfully it interweaves the customs of an English village with the warmth and tensions that come with the breeze of multiculturalism in modern day Britain. As Mrs. Ali points out so beautifully in my most favourite book quote in a long time, 'A couple may have nothing in common but the colour of their skin and the country of their ancestors, but the whole world would see them as compatible.' 

Reading this book is as pleasant as drinking endless cups of your favourite blend of tea. If you're in the mood for a tale that demolishes the notions that all 'feel good' stories are light and frivolous, this is the best choice. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand is sure to brighten your day.

[P.S I've heard there are talks going on for making this book into a movie. I'm looking forward to it, for this story should lend itself beautifully to adaptation for the screen!]

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Mohandas: A True Story of a Man, his People and an Empire - Rajmohan Gandhi

Rating: 10/10

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is omnipresent today: the most recognised Indian in the world and a mandatory reference name for almost everyone speaking of peace. You can find him peering at his people from crisp Indian money notes, looking down from portraits in government offices, smiling from T shirts and flairs, repackaged for a new generation, and quoted so often that it would probably make him dizzy.

The simplistic saintly Mahatma (Great Soul) of our textbooks, is a depiction that does no justice to the immense complexities and controversies that Mohandas Gandhi faced and overcame. For what makes Gandhi so great is not the fact that he was flawless. Gandhi's place among the most unforgettable men of the millennium came from the fact that he was greater than the flaws that he tried valiantly to overcome. The Mahatma is an outstanding example of the greatness that human beings can aspire to.

Rajmohan Gandhi's magnum opus biography of his grandfather Mohandas is a stunning, beautiful, unforgettable, emotional passage to understanding Bapu, one that takes your breath away as it reveals the sheer magnitude of what Gandhi lived through and achieved.

Mohandas' childhood in Gujarat, where he grew up watching his mother fast on religious occasions, where his nurse Rambha taught him to recite the holy name of Lord Rama whenever he was nervous, where he resolved that he would go out of his way to make Muslim friends, even if he didn't make many Hindu friends, is far more important than people probably think. As we can see, events of his childhood instilled the beliefs that would inspire him while leading a nation. 

A fashionable Mohandas went to London to study to become a barrister. Vegetarianism, agnosticism, love and respect for friends of different cultures and religions enchanted him. He wanted all citizens of the Empire to be treated equally and many aspects of the English way of life inspired him.

But it was South Africa that marked the biggest turning point of his life. As Nelson Mandela would later say, “You gave us Mohandas; we returned him to you as Mahatma Gandhi”. Facing up to racism and injustice to the Indian community in South Africa, the lawyer Mohandas wrote to newspapers opposing unjust laws and traditions.  And more importantly, protested and mobilized several people to protest non-violently. Tolstoy farm, where 'untouchables', people of many religions and countries would live and work together, was a big inspiration for Gandhi. Traits of what India would see Gandhi present to her as solutions to long-suffered problems, are visible already. 

India soon called for her prodigal son and his return to his homeland changed India forever. Travelling third class to discover the real India, Gandhi was clear of the three issues he would focus on: Hindu-Muslim unity, bridging the shameful gap between upper caste Hindus and 'untouchables' and preparing the country, from the villages, to be worthy of freedom.  These were issues that would haunt India in the lead-up to Partition and he was prescient enough to understand that very early. Satyagraha and ahimsa became his 'weapons' of choice, as he rejuvenated a party of elite lawyers and urged the Congress to really represent the millions who toiled in the villages of India.

The political Gandhi was born out of necessity. For there was little social and religious reform he could do without sorting out the politics of India. Gandhi was the hero of Champaran, the  initiator of non-cooperation, the controversial creator of Quit India, the exquisite strategist, publicist of the Dandi March. A prolific letter writer, Gandhi wrote regularly for his newspaper Harijan, mentored Nehru, Patel and the top brass of the Congress: his political 'sons' and wore just the minimum of hand-spun cloth in solidarity with the masses of India, many of whom had nothing to wear.

His experiments with brahmacharya/celibacy (which sometimes involved sleeping naked beside women of his ashram) are no doubt as bizarre and controversial now as they were then, when Gandhi made no attempt to hide it. His usage of religion in politics has been criticised by some, but he understood the importance of religion in every walk of life in India and used it to spread only one message: that all religions preached love, tolerance and goodwill.

What makes the Mahatma incredible is not just the space and respect he gave to those who disagreed with him, but the earnest effort he made to understand their point of view and even change his opinion if need be. His conversations with  Tagore and Ambedkar are a case in point. That Gandhi practised what he preached, is what attracted the world to him. He was the change he wished to see in the world, even if the change he wanted to see, was different from what others wanted to see. Gandhi specialised in holding a high moral ground by loving his enemy. 

Churchill, who with great sensitivity asked the Viceroy when the Mahatma was fasting, if Gandhi hadn't died yet, spoke of blood, toil, tears and sweat. So did Gandhi. Except, he spoke of blood, sweat and tears shed by a man who toiled and protested with great courage, non-violently. After all, 'non-violence is a weapon of the strong'.

Even if people had thought him distant and out-of-sync with reality, it was Gandhi who healed some of the many wounds of Partition. Fasting for peace, especially when Delhi was in the throes of horrifying Partition violence, was his ace card of sorts. While Dandi and Quit India might have become the most popular expressions of Gandhi and his triumphs, his greatest moment, without a doubt, came while visiting areas tormented by religious violence.

Be it Noakhali, Bihar, Delhi or Calcutta, wherever Bapu (Father of the Nation) went, he cured the insanity of communalism, he healed wounds with his overwhelming humanity, he spoke the language of love to those who had seen devastation on a scale that would crush India. He made Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims who attacked and killed members of the other community repent and promise him that they would protect each other always. His prayer meetings where chants from all religions were recited, whispered peace to ears that had been plugged by the shattering noise of violence. And such was his impact. Sample this excerpt from the book:

Interviews conducted in Noakhali in  April and November 2000 (53 years after Gandhi had been there) found residents retaining precise memories of Gandhi...many recalling him spontaneously recited or sang 'Raghupathi Raghav Raja Ram..Ishwar Allah Tere Naam'

Rajmohan Gandhi writes with a neutrality that is incredible for a man writing about his grandfather. His writing is simple, evocative and poignant, quoting from myriad sources, interpreting and drawing parallels with great sensitivity and shedding light on the lesser known aspects of Gandhi's life, such as the troubled relationship that Gandhi had with his sons. Rajmohan captures the legendary sense of humour of the Mahatma, as also his relationship with the men who would go on to govern India. Mohandas: A True Story of a Man, his People and an Empire is a masterpiece that every Indian ought to read and I have no hesitation in saying that Bapu would be very proud of his grandson's work.

Incessant tears poured down my cheeks throughout the last pages of the book, the ones dealing with Gandhi's assassination and the world's response to it. In death as in life, Gandhi united Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims, both in India and Pakistan. Indians wept in grief and normal life was forgotten, for 'the light has gone out of our lives and there is darkness everywhere'. Many Pakistanis skipped their meal that night, to mourn the loss of a remarkable human being. Said Pakistani leader Mian Iftikharuddin, "Each one of us who has raised his hand against innocent men, women and children during the past months, who has publicly or secretly entertained sympathy for  such acts, is a collaborator in the murder of Mahatma Gandhi"

If I had to condense the life of Mahatma Gandhi, three words would do it: he loved everyone. That overwhelming, incredible, majestic, ever-flowing love for men, women, children; Harijans, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs; Englishmen and women, Germans, Americans, Africans. The world was his family and he couldn't stand a single act of violence that would harm his family. And that reasoning, is possibly why 'generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.'   To all those protesting peacefully in every part of the world for what is right, be it during the recent 'Arab Spring' or under the guidance of Martin Luther King Jr, Aung San Suu Kyi or Nelson Mandela, Gandhi's message is worth remembering: 'My life is my message'. This book is an unforgettable journey to understand that message.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Reader, Writer, Reviewer: Mahatma Gandhi

I quite believe in judging people by the books they read. And when it comes to great personalities, understanding their reading tastes and the books that inspired them, goes a long way in helping us understand these men and women.

I'm now reading Rajmohan Gandhi's brilliant biography of Mahatma Gandhi: Mohandas: A True Story of a Man, his People and an Empire. Of all the many remarkable things about this great man's life, what strikes me is the importance that he gave to books and how much they influenced his life and ideas. Gandhi was a great reader whenever he found the time for it: for instance especially when he was imprisoned (He read thirty books in the three months he was jailed in Pretoria, South Africa)

Mohandas Gandhi's first trip abroad was to study in London and the young man was anxious to understand himself and what he actually believed in, when confronted by those of different cultures and habits. Books helped him immensely in this pursuit. Henry Salt's A Plea for Vegetarianism, which Gandhi says he read 'from cover to cover' helped him become a vegetarian by choice. [Remember here that the teenager Gandhi had once believed that the puny, vegetarian Indian couldn't stand up to the meat-eating British man]

A Gandhi toying between atheism and all religions, Hinduism in particular, read Helena Blavatsky's Key to Theosophy, Edwin Arnold's translation of the Bhagavad Gita, The Song Celestial (a book he would recommend all his life as the best English translation of the Gita) and Arnold's book on the Buddha, The Light of Asia. Ever-fascinated to get to know different religions, Gandhi also read the Bible and George Sale's translation of the Quran.

His love and respect for Leo Tolstoy's writings, that would influence him enough to name his 'ashram' in South Africa Tolstoy Farm, began with reading  'The Kingdom of God is Within You' which Gandhi says overwhelmed him.

Sometimes, Gandhi sought refuge in books and great writers to see the arguments against and approval for some of his ideas. His interest in the works of Henry David Thoreau who he called 'one of the greatest and most moral men America has ever produced' is a case in point. Thoreau's statements on civil disobedience seemed to Gandhi to confirm and approve of his belief in satyagraha.

In a prison reading spree that would be a recurrent feature of his reading life, Gandhi read the following books during a two month imprisonment in South Africa: Thomas Carlyle's Lives of Robert Burns, Samuel Johnson and Walter Scott, Francis Bacon's Essays, Plato's Socrates. He later read Edward Carpenter's 'very illuminating' book Civilization: Its Cause and Care and also read Charles Dickens' David Copperfield 'with avidity'.

Perhaps no book captivated him as much as John Ruskin's Unto This Last. He resolved to put to practice the 'social equality and simple life' presented by the book, and bought a farm in Phoenix to reside with his family, friends and other members of the Indian community in South Africa.

Gandhi's own book Hind Swaraj (Indian Home Rule), put into words his long-held ideas of self-rule, civilization and how Indian civilisation is embedded with the concept of non-violence. He acknowledges in his preface to the book the inspiration that he received from reading Tolstoy, Ruskin, Thoreau and Emerson. Leo Tolstoy, with whom Gandhi was now corresponding, wrote back having reading Hind Swaraj, that the book was 'of great importance not only for India, but for the whole of humanity.'

In a rather remarkable trial in India (that deserves a post of its own), Gandhi was sentenced to six years in prison for 'inciting disaffection towards His Majesty's Government' in 1922 in the aftermath of the tragedy of Chauri Chaura. In Yeravda jail, Gandhi read a brilliantly diverse set of books sent by friends or from the jail library, devoting six hours a day for reading.  

He read Edward Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Kipling's songs of Empire, the Mahabharata, Plato, Jules Verne, Macaulay, Shaw, Walter Scott, Faust, Tagore, Wells, Woodroffe, Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; histories of Scotland, of the Sikhs, of India, of birds, of cities; biographies of Pitt, Columbus, Wilberforce, Paul of Tarsus, Kabir; several Christian, Muslim and Buddhist books and a series of Hindu texts; writings of Vivekananda, Dayananda Saraswati, Aurobindo and Tilak.

Writes Rajmohan Gandhi of the Mahatma's varied reading list: 'The Empire's Challenger is thus also, in his mid -fifties, a scholar with an appetite'. Gandhi sometimes also reviewed books for his newspapers, notably Katherine Mayo's controversial book Mother India about India's 'insanitation and other defects' where she claimed 'The drains are India'. Gandhi notes that the book was 'cleverly and powerfully written' and that it is 'a book that every Indian can read with some degree of profit'.

India's 'Father of the Nation' was a reader, writer and a book reviewer too; always open to understanding different, even extreme, opinions and weighing them with his beliefs, never afraid to learn from them. The books he read influenced his ideas, his policies, and it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to say they ended up influencing the nation and the world. 


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