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15 Books Celebrating India’s Nation-Making Icons!

Celebrate this Independence Day with a diverse and thought-provoking collection of books about India that will lift up your patriotic spirits. From riveting biographies of influential leaders to insightful accounts of India’s formative years, these books offer a window into our great nation and the visionaries who shaped its destiny.

Take a look!

Madam President The Biography of Draupadi Murmu
Madam President The Biography of Draupadi Murmu

Madam President is the first-ever comprehensive and authentic biography of Droupadi Murmu, the fifteenth President of India, by senior journalist Sandeep Sahu. Murmu’s long and eventful political journey is a story of true perseverance and inspiration. Having battled early years of struggle in securing quality education, being struck by a series of personal tragedies such as the loss of her husband and two sons in quick succession,
and suffering electoral victories and losses, Murmu has risen through her circumstances with grace, fortitude and resilience that make her the well-revered leader she is today.

 

1947-57 India Birth of a Republic
1947-57 India Birth of a Republic || Chandrachur Ghose

The first decade after India’s independence, 1947-1957, was probably the most crucial in the nation’s history. Opening a window to this period, this book weaves a story out of the complex ideas and events that have largely remained beneath the surface of public discourse. The transfer of power, the framing of the Constitution and the formation of the governance machinery; the clash of ideas and ideologies among parties and personalities; the beginning of the disintegration of the Congress and the consolidation of political forces in the opposition; Nehru’s grappling with existential problems at home and his quest for global peace; the interplay between democratic ideals and ruthless power play-all these factors impinged on each other and shaped the new republic in its formative decade.

 

Scars of 1947
Scars of 1947 || Rajeev Shukla

From the stories of figures like Manmohan Singh and Muhammad Ali Jinnah, to Gauri Khan’s grandmother and Avtar Narain Gujral, Scars of 1947 is a moving and nostalgic collection of a journey back in time, of an unforgettable period that left two nations scarred forever.

 

Court on Trial
Court on Trial || Aparna Chandra, Sital Kalantry, William H.J. Hubbard

The Indian Supreme Court was established nearly seventy-five years ago as a core part of India’s constitutional project. Does the Court live up to the ideals of justice imagined by the framers of the Indian Constitution? Critics of the Supreme Court point out that it takes too long to adjudicate cases, a select group of senior advocates exercise disproportionate influence on the outcome of cases, the Chief Justice of India strategically assigns cases with an eye to outcome, and the self-appointments process-known as the collegium-is just another ‘old boy’s network’. Building on nearly a decade of original empirical research, Court on Trail examines these and other controversies plaguing the Supreme Court today. The authors provide an overview of the Supreme Court and its processes which are often shrouded in mystery, and present data-driven suggestions for improving the effectiveness and integrity of the Court.

 

Middle of Diamond India
Middle of Diamond India || Shashank Mani

Middle of Diamond India proposes a revolutionary idea – that India has long ignored its largest and most talented segment, citizens in the Tier 2 and Tier 3 districts, its Middle.

The book reveals the hidden stories of those in its Middle who have been ignored owing to their location and language. By examining India’s revolutionary past, its culture, its citizens, its innovators, and its spirit, the book illuminates this Diamond shaped India.

 

Nehru and the spirit of India
Nehru and the spirit of India || Manash Firaq Bhattacharjee

As a second-generation refugee, Bhattacharjee argues for a ‘minoritarian’ approach to national politics. Breaking ideological and disciplinary protocols, he compels us to learn from the insights of poets and thinkers. Lucidly written, Nehru and the Spirit of India book offers an original perspective on Nehru and Indian history.

 

The discovery of India
The discovery of India || Jawaharlal Nehru

Jawaharlal Nehru wrote the book ‘The Discovery of India’, during his imprisonment at Ahmednagar fort for participating in the Quit India Movement (1942 – 1946). The book was written during Nehru’s four years of confinement to solitude in prison and is his way of paying an homage to his beloved country and its rich culture.

 

Bhagat Singh
Bhagat Singh || Satvinder S. Juss

A timely antidote, Bhagat Singh, A life in Revolution meticulously researched biography is an expansive foray into the life of Bhagat Singh. The volume deliberates upon his family from before when he was born, examining along the way the role that various episodes, policies and people played in shaping the identity of a legendary revolutionary, while also delving into his opinions on important questions of the time. It shines a bright light on the oft-ignored personal influences that made Singh who he was, along with the issue of his contested identity in today’s politics. This is the definitive Bhagat Singh biography of our times.

 

Bravehearts of Bharat
Bravehearts of Bharat || Vikram Sampath

Narrating the tales of valour and success that India, as a nation and civilization, has borne witness to in its long and tumultuous past, Bravehearts of Bharat opens a window to the stories of select men and women who valiantly fought against invaders for their rights, faith and freedom.

 

India Rising
India Rising || R. Chidambaram, Suresh Gangotra

Ruminating about his interactions with the scientific community and the political leadership, Dr Chidambaram describes key events in India’s journey to self-reliance in nuclear energy. India Rising is not only a memoir of one of India’s eminent scientists, but also a fascinating account of India’s ascendance in the world of science and technology.

 

Bose
Bose || Chandrachur Ghose

There are not many Indian heroes whose lives have been as dramatic and adventurous as that of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. That, however, is an assessment of his life based on what is widely known about him. These often revolve around his resignation from the Indian Civil Service, joining the freedom movement, to be exiled twice for over seven years, throwing a challenge to the Gandhian leadership in the Congress, taking up an extremist position against the British Raj, evading the famed intelligence network to travel to Europe and then to Southeast Asia, forming two Governments and raising two armies and then disappearing into the unknown. All this in a span of just two decades.

 

Nehru & Bose
Nehru & Bose || Rudrangshu Mukherjee

Had relations between the two great nationalist leaders soured to the extent that Bose had begun to view Nehru as his enemy? But then, why did he name one of the regiments of the Indian National Army after Jawaharlal? And what prompted Nehru to weep when he heard of Bose’s untimely death in 1945, and to recount soon after, ‘I used to treat him as my younger brother’? Rudrangshu Mukherjee’s Nehru & Bise traces the contours of a friendship that did not quite blossom as political ideologies diverged, and delineates the shadow that fell between them-for, Gandhi saw Nehru as his chosen heir and Bose as a prodigal son.

 

Missing in Action
Missing in Action || Pranay Kotasthane, Raghu S Jaitley

Questions are rarely asked of the Indian State-the institution that makes rules, bends them and punishes others for breaking the laws it creates. The privileged can afford not to think about the State because we have given up on it. The not-so-privileged have resigned themselves to a State that provides short-term benefits. Either way, we seldom pause to reflect on why the Indian State works the way it does.

Missing in Action aims to change such perceptions through sketches from everyday experiences to illustrate India’s tryst with public policymaking. It acquaints the reader with some fundamental concepts of the public policy discipline. It explains the logic (or the lack of it!) of the Indian State’s actions, shortcomings, constraints, and workings.

 

Madam Sir
Madam Sir || Manjari Jaruhar

After an unexpected turn of events upended the homemaker role her parents had planned for her, Manjari Jaruhar overcame extraordinary odds to become the first woman from Bihar to join the country’s elite police cadre.
A masterclass in courage, resilience and leadership by a woman who broke new ground and thrived despite being viewed with disbelief and derision by her colleagues, Madam Sir is a stirring account of a sheltered girl’s rise to the top echelons of the Indian Police Service.

 

The people of India
The people of India || Ravinder Kaur, Nayanika Mathur

In The People of India, some of the most respected scholars of South Asia come together to write about a person or a concept that holds particular sway in the politics of contemporary India. In doing so, they collectively open up an original understanding of what the politics at the heart of New India are-and how best we might come to analyse them.

16 must-read Indian books in translation this World Translation Day

Here is our list of 16 must-read books in translation, from the length and breadth of the country.

As a reader, you are bound to be a little more inquisitive than the general population. So, your incredible brain must not be limited to the understanding of the diverse nation that we know India to be with the variety of languages, food, clothes and spices grown its separate regions. You must delve deeper! And nothing can tell you more about a land and its people than their stories. Let this specially-curated list act as your binoculars for taking a good look at India!

 

Tomb of Sand by Geetanjali Shree, translated by Daisy Rockwell
Tomb of Sand by Geetanjali Shree, translated by Daisy Rockwell

Tomb of Sand 

WINNER OF THE INTERNATIONAL BOOKER PRIZE 2022

In northern India, an eighty-year-old woman slips into a deep depression after the death of her husband, and then resurfaces to gain a new lease on life. Her determination to fly in the face of convention – including striking up a friendship with a transgender person – confuses her bohemian daughter, who is used to thinking of herself as the more ‘modern’ of the two.
To her family’s consternation, Ma insists on travelling to Pakistan, simultaneously confronting the unresolved trauma of her teenage experiences of Partition, and re-evaluating what it means to be a mother, a daughter, a woman, a feminist.

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I, Lalla by Lal Ded, translated by Ranjit Hoskote
I, Lalla by Lal Ded, translated by Ranjit Hoskote

I, Lalla

The poems of the fourteenth-century Kashmiri mystic Lal Ded, popularly known as Lalla, strike us like brief and blinding bursts of light. Emotionally rich yet philosophically precise, sumptuously enigmatic yet crisply structured, these poems are as sensuously evocative as they are charged with an ecstatic devotion. Stripping away a century of Victorian-inflected translations and paraphrases, and restoring the jagged, colloquial power of Lalla’s voice, in Ranjit Hoskote’s new translation these poems are glorious manifestos of illumination.

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Anthology of Humorous Sanskrit Verses by A.N.D. Haksar
Anthology of Humorous Sanskrit Verses by A.N.D. Haksar

Anthology of Humorous Sanskrit Verses

In recent times, whenever ancient Sanskrit works are discussed or translated into English, the focus is usually on the lofty, religious and dramatic works. Due to the interest created by Western audiences, the Kama Sutra and love poetry has also been in the limelight. But, even though the Hasya Rasa or the humorous sentiment has always been an integral part of our ancient Sanskrit literature, it is little known today.
Anthology of Humorous Sanskrit Verses is a collection of about 200 verse translations drawn from various Sanskrit works or anthologies compiled more than 500 years ago. Several such anthologies are well-known although none of them focus exclusively on humor. A.N.D. Haksar’s translation of these verses is full of wit, earthy humor and cynical satire, and an excellent addition of the canon of Sanskrit literature.

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Temple Lamp by Mirza Ghalib, Maaz Bin Bilal
Temple Lamp by Mirza Ghalib, Maaz Bin Bilal

Temple Lamp: Verses on Banaras by Mirza Asadullah Beg Khan

The poem ‘Chirag-e-Dair’ or Temple Lamp is an eloquent and vibrant Persian masnavi by Mirza Ghalib. While we quote liberally from his Urdu poetry, we know little of his writings in Persian, and while we read of his love for the city of Delhi, we discover in temple Lamp, his rapture over the spiritual and sensual city of Banaras.

Chiragh-e-dair is being translated directly from Persian into English in its entirety for the first time, with a critical Introduction by Maaz Bin Bilal. It is Mirza Ghalib’s pean to Kashi, which he calls Kaaba-e-Hindostan or the Mecca of India.

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Rajinder Singh Bedi by Rajinder Singh Bedi, Gopi Chand Narang and Surinder Deol
Rajinder Singh Bedi by Rajinder Singh Bedi, Gopi Chand Narang and Surinder Deol


Selected Stories: Rajinder Singh Bedi 

Rajinder Singh Bedi: Selected Short Stories curates some of the best work by the Urdu writer, whose contribution to Urdu fiction makes him a pivotal force within modern Indian literature. Born in Sialkot, Punjab, Rajinder Singh Bedi (1915-1984) lived many lives-as a student and postmaster in Lahore, a venerated screenwriter for popular Hindi films and a winner of both the Sahitya Akademi as well as the Filmfare awards. Considered one of the prominent progressive writers of modern Urdu fiction, Bedi was an architect of contemporary Urdu writing along with leading lights such as Munshi Premchand and Saadat Hasan Manto.

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Battles of Our Own by Jagadish Mohanty
Battles of Our Own by Jagadish Mohanty

Battles of Our Own

Jagadish Mohanty’s Battles of Our Own is a rare work of modern Odia and Indian fiction. It seeks to delineate a world that is off the grid. Its action unfolds in the remote and non-descript Tarbahar Colliery-a fictional name for the over hundred-year-old open-cast Himgiri Rampur coal mine in the hinterland of western Odisha. A work of gritty realism in its portrayal of a dark and dangerous underworld where coal is extracted, the novel poignantly reveals the primeval struggle between man and brute nature.

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Four Chapters by Rabindranath Tagore, translated by Radha Chakravarty
Four Chapters by Rabindranath Tagore, translated by Radha Chakravarty

Four Chapters

Char Adhyay (1934) was Rabindranath Tagore’s last novel, and perhaps the most controversial. Passion and politics intertwine in this narrative, set in the context of nationalist politics in pre-Independent India.
This new translation, intended for twenty-first-century readers, will bring Tagore’s text to life in a contemporary idiom, while evoking the flavour of the story’s historical setting.

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Hungry Humans by Karichan Kunju and Sudha G. Tilak
Hungry Humans || Karichan Kunju and Sudha G. Tilak

Hungry Humans

Ganesan returns, after four decades, to the town of his childhood, filled with memories of love and loneliness, of youthful beauty and the ravages of age and misfortune, of the promise of talent and its slow destruction. Seeking treatment for leprosy, he must also come to terms with his past: his exploitation at the hands of older men, his growing consciousness of desire and his own sexual identity, his steady disavowal of Brahminical morality and his slowly degenerating body. He longs for liberation-sexual, social and spiritual-but finally finds peace only in self-acceptance.

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Vultures by Dalpat Chauhan and Hemang Ashwinkumar 
Vutures by Dalpat Chauhan and Hemang Ashwinkumar

Vultures

Based on the blood-curdling murder of a Dalit boy by Rajput landlords in Kodaram village in 1964, Vultures portrays a feudal society structured around caste-based relations and social segregation, in which Dalit lives and livelihoods are torn to pieces by upper-caste vultures. The deft use of dialect, graphic descriptions and translator Hemang Ashwinkumar’s lucid telling throw sharp focus on the fragmented world of a mofussil village in Gujarat, much of which remains unchanged even today.

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Cobalt Blue by Sachin Kundalkar and Jerry Pint
Cobalt Blue by Sachin Kundalkar and Jerry Pinto

Cobalt Blue

A paying guest seems like a win-win proposition to the Joshi family. He’s ready with the rent, he’s willing to lend a hand when he can and he’s happy to listen to Mrs Joshi on the imminent collapse of our culture.
But he’s also a man of mystery. He has no last name. He has no family, no friends, no history and no plans for the future.
The siblings Tanay and Anuja are smitten by him. He overturns their lives. And when he vanishes, he breaks their hearts.

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The Prince and the Political Agent by Binodini Devi and L. Somi Roy
The Prince and the Political Agent byb Binodini Devi, L. Somi Roy

The Prince and the Political Agent

The Manipuri writer Binodini’s Sahitya Akademi Award-winning historical novel The Princess and the Political Agent tells the love story of her aunt Princess Sanatombi and Lt. Col. Henry P. Maxwell, the British representative in the subjugated Tibeto-Burman kingdom of Manipur. A poignant story of love and fealty, treachery and valour, it is set in the midst of the imperialist intrigues of the British Raj, the glory of kings, warring princes, clever queens and loyal retainers.

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Hangwoman by K.R. Meera and J. Devika
Hangwoman by K.R. Meera, J. Devika

Hangwoman

The Grddha Mullick family takes pride in the ancient lineage they trace from four hundred years before Christ. They burst with marvelous tales of hangmen and hangings in which the Grddha Mullicks figure as eyewitnesses to the momentous events that have shaped the history of the subcontinent.

In the present day, the youngest member of the family, twenty-two-year-old Chetna, is appointed the first woman executioner in India, assistant and successor to her father Phanibhushan. Thrust suddenly into the public eye, even starring in her own reality show, Chetna’s life explodes under the harsh lights of television cameras. As the day of her first execution approaches, she breaks out of the shadow of a domineering father and the thrall of a brutally manipulative lover, and transforms into a charismatic performer in her own right.

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Ha Ha Hu Hu by Velcheru Narayana Rao and V. Satyanarayana
Ha Ha Hu Hu by Velcheru Narayana Rao, V. Satyanarayana

 

Ha Ha Hu Hu: A Horse-Headed God in Trafalgar Square

Ha Ha Hu Hu tells the delightful tale of an extraordinary horse-headed creature that mysteriously appears in London one fine morning, causing considerable excitement and consternation among the city’s denizens. Dressed in silks and jewels, it has the head of a horse but the body of a human and speaks in an unknown tongue. What is it? And more importantly, why is it here?

In the hilarious satire Vishnu Sharma Learns English, a Telugu lecturer is visited in a dream by the medieval poet Tikanna and the ancient scholar Vishnu Sharma with an unusual request: they want him to teach them English!

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Tejo Tungabhadra by Vasudhendra and Maithreyi Karnoor
Tejo Tungabhadra by Vasudhendra, Maithreyi Karnoor

Tejo Tungabhadra: Tributaries of Time

Tejo Tungabhadra tells the story of two rivers on different continents whose souls are bound together by history. The two stories converge in Goa with all the thunder and gush of meeting rivers. Set in the late 15th and early 16th century, this is a grand saga of love, ambition, greed, and a deep zest for life through the tossing waves of history.

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Phoolsunghi by Pandey Kapil and Gautam Choubey
Phoolsunghi by Pandey Kapil, Gautam Choubey

Phoolsunghi

The first ever translation of a Bhojpuri novel into English, Phoolsunghi transports readers to a forgotten world filled with mujras and mehfils, court cases and counterfeit currency, and the crashing waves of the River Saryu.

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Lilavati by Tridip Suhrud and Govardhanram Tripathi
Lilavati by Govardhanram Tripathi, translated by Tridip Suhrud

Lilavati: A Life

In a moment of rare passion Govardhanram Madhavram Tripathi, author of Sarasvatichandra, exclaimed ‘I only want their souls’. He was referring to the souls of his countrymen and women, which he sought to cultivate through his literary writings. Lilavati was his and Lalitagauri’s eldest daughter. Her education and the writing of Sarasvaticandra were intertwined. She was raised to be the perfect embodiment of virtue, and died at the age of twenty-one, consumed by tuberculosis. In moments of ‘lucidity’ , she spoke of her suffering and that challenged the very foundations of Govardhanram’s life. In 1905 he wrote her biography, Lilavati Jivankala. This is a rare work in biographical literature, a father writing about the life of a deceased daughter. Despite Govardhanram’s attempts to contain Lilavati as a unidimensional figure of his imagination, she goes beyond that, sometimes by questioning the fundamental tenets of Brahminical beliefs, and at others by being so utterly selfless as to be unreal even to him.

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So, with this breathtaking list in hand, let’s get travelling, shall we?

 

6 audiobooks that echo the sounds of India’s freedom

The long weekend for the 75th Independence Day is here and there’s nothing better than plugging your earphones in and tuning in to the audiobooks that take you on a memorable and remarkable journey of India’s freedom. Check out our exclusive audiobooks curated for the occasion of India@75 and get immersed in the stories that will leave you with a sea of emotions.

 

Partitions of the Heart

Partitions of the Heart
Partitions of the Heart | Harsh Mander

There was one partition of the land in 1947. Harsh Mander believes that another partition is underway in our hearts and minds.

How much of this culpability lies with ordinary people? What are the responsibilities of a secular government, of a civil society, and of a progressive majority? In Partitions of the Heart: Unmaking the Idea of India, human rights and peace worker Harsh Mander takes stock of whether the republic has upheld the values it set out to achieve and offers painful, unsparing insight into the contours of hate violence. Through vivid stories from his own work, Mander shows that hate speech, communal propaganda and vigilante violence are mounting a fearsome climate of dread, that targeted crime is systematically fracturing our community, and that the damage to the country’s social fabric may be irreparable. At the same time, he argues that hate can indeed be fought, but only with solidarity, reconciliation and love, and when all of these are founded on fairness.

Ultimately, this meticulously researched social critique is a rallying cry for public compassion, conscience and justice, and a paean to the resilience of humanity.

 

India’s Most Fearless

India’s Most Fearless
India’s Most Fearless | Shiv Aroor and Rahul Singh

The Army major who led the legendary September 2016 surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the LoC; a soldier who killed 11 terrorists in 10 days; a Navy officer who sailed into a treacherous port to rescue hundreds from an exploding war; a bleeding Air Force pilot who found himself flying a jet that had become a screaming fireball . . .
Their own accounts, or of those who were with them in their final moments.
India’s Most Fearless covers fourteen true stories of extraordinary courage and fearlessness, providing a glimpse into the kind of heroism our soldiers display in unthinkably hostile conditions and under grave provocation.

 

India’s Most Fearless 2

India’s Most Fearless 2
India’s Most Fearless 2 | Shiv Aroor and Rahul Singh

Untold accounts of the biggest recent anti-terror operations
First-hand reports of the most riveting anti-terror encounters in the wake of the 2016 surgical strikes, the men who hunted terrorists in a magical Kashmir forest where day turns to night, a pair of young Navy men who gave their all to save their entire submarine crew, the Air Force commando who wouldn’t sleep until he had avenged his buddies, the tax babu who found his soul in a terrifying Special Forces assault on Pakistani terrorists, and many more.

Their own stories, in their own words. Or of those who were with them in their final moments.
The highly anticipated sequel to India’s Most Fearless brings you fourteen more stories of astonishing fearlessness and gets you closer than ever before to the personal bravery that Indian military men display in the line of duty.

 

Emergency Chronicles

Emergency Chronicles
Emergency Chronicles | Gyan Prakash

As the world once again confronts an eruption of authoritarianism, Gyan Prakash’s Emergency Chronicles takes us back to the moment of India’s independence to offer a comprehensive historical account of Indira Gandhi’s Emergency of 1975-77. Stripping away the myth that this was a sudden event brought on solely by the Prime Minister’s desire to cling to power, it argues that the Emergency was as much Indira’s doing as it was the product of Indian democracy’s troubled relationship with popular politics, and a turning point in its history.

Prakash delves into the chronicles of the preceding years to reveal how the fine balance between state power and civil rights was upset by the unfulfilled promise of democratic transformation. He explains how growing popular unrest disturbed Indira’s regime, prompting her to take recourse to the law to suspend lawful rights, wounding the political system further and opening the door for caste politics and Hindu nationalism.

 

The Brave

The Brave
The Brave | Rachna Bisht Rawat

21 riveting stories from the battlefield about how India’s highest military honour was won
The Brave takes you to the hearts and minds of India’s bravest soldiers, all of whom won the Param Vir Chakra, India’s greatest military honour. With access to the Army, families and comrades-in-arms of the soldiers, Rachna Bisht Rawat paints the most vivid portrait of these men and their extraordinary deeds.
How hard is it to fight at 20,000 feet in sub-zero temperatures? Why did Captain Vikram Batra say ‘Yeh dil maange more’? How do wives and girlfriends of soldiers who don’t return cope? What happens when the enemy is someone that you have trained? How did the Charlie Company push back the marauding Chinese? How did a villager from Uttar Pradesh become a specialist in destroying tanks?
Both gripping and inspiring, The Brave is the ultimate book on the Param Vir Chakra.

 

Operation Khukri

Operation Khukri
Operation Khukri | Major General Rajpal Punia, Damini Punia

The year was 2000. Sierra Leone, in West Africa, had been ravaged by years of civil strife. With the intervention of the United Nations, two companies of the Indian Army were deployed in Kailahun as part of a United Nations peacekeeping mission.

Soon, the peaceful mission turned into a war-like standoff between Major Punia’s company and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels in Kailahun, with the Indian peacekeepers cordoned off for seventy-five days without supplies. The only way home was by laying down their weapons.

Operation Khukri was one of Indian Army’s most successful international missions, and this book is a first-hand account by Major Rajpal Punia, who, after three months of impasse and failed diplomacy, orchestrated the operation, surviving the ambush of the RUF in prolonged jungle warfare twice, and returning with all 233 soldiers standing tall.

 

Celebrate the spirit of Independence with your young ones!

This Independence Day, we recommend some immersive reads to help children understand our country, its triumphs and its struggles. Here are our top three picks for the curious minds. Read on!

 

Constitution of India for Children
The Constitution of India for Children || Subhadra Sen Gupta

Which language is our Constitution written in?

Were women a part of the team that drafted the Constitution?

Why do political parties have symbols next to their names?

What is the official language of India?

An essential handbook for every student and denizen of India, here is a compendium of knowledge that serves as an insightful introduction to the most important document of Independent India.

 

 

10 Indian Women Who Were the First to do What They Did

 

10 Indian Women Who Were the First to Do What They Did || Shruthi Rao

This book tells the stories of ten Indian women who were pioneers in diverse fields. While their stories and challenges are different, what is common is that they all opened up the way for all women to achieve their dreams. Shruthi Rao writes absorbing tales of the lives, times and societies that these women lived and worked in.

 

 

 

 

 

The Puffin History of India (Volumes 1 and 2)

 

The Puffin History of India (Volumes 1) || Roshen Dalal

Pick up these books for a rollercoaster ride through centuries of our country’s history! They pack in exciting trivia, numerous maps and illustrations that provide a breathtaking overview of Indian history. Ideal for students and young readers, this amazing reference guide helps to bring the past to life like never before.

The Puffin History of India (Volumes 2) || Roshen Dalal

7 Quotes by Famous Authors That Will Make You Cherish Freedom

What do we understand by the term ‘freedom’? The liberty to make our choices, the liberty to lead the life we want, the liberty to speak the language we choose. But does freedom mean the same thing to everyone?
Here are 7 quotes by famous writers with different meanings to ‘freedom’.
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Tell us which idea of freedom do you agree with!

5 Books You Must Read in Remembrance of the Partition

The pain of partition accompanied the joy of freedom for India. Even after seventy years, the horrors of violence still haunt the two countries.
The Remembering Partition Box Set is a collection of five iconic books which look at the different faces of partition, from the larger political and historical view to the very personal tales of hatred, grief, courage and friendship.
Here are the five books that commemorates one of the most defining moments of our history.
 Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh
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 Ice-Candy-Man by Bapsi Sidhwa
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 This Is Not That Dawn by Yashpal
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The Great Partition by Yasmin Khan
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In Freedom’s Shade by Anis Kidwai
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Pick up this collection and re-visit the heart-rending event.
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India: 70 Years of Independence

By Roshen Dalal
India celebrates 70 years of independence on 15 August, and we may wonder why this date is so important. A simple answer is that on this date in 1947, India gained freedom from almost 200 years of British rule. But further questions follow. What was wrong with British rule? How was it different from that of earlier invaders and settlers? Through the narrow passes and river valleys in the high mountains, India had seen many invasions from ancient times. Darius I (522-486 BCE)of Persia (Iran) included part of north-west India in his territories. Alexander, the Macedonian conquerer, too, came to the north-west in 336 BCE, but could not stay long. The Bactrian Greeks (from 200 BCE), the Parthians (1st century CE), Kushanas (1st to 3rd centuries CE), Indo-Sasanians (3rd -4th centuries CE), and Hunas (5th century CE), and were among other invaders. All of them set up kingdoms for short periods of time, and many were absorbed into Indian society. Later there were invasions from Ghazni and Ghur in the region of present Afghanistan, which led to the rule of the sultans. The sultans defended India against the invasions of the Mongols. The Mughal dynasty was then founded by Babur in 1526, who originated in the small kingdom of Farghana in Central Asia. There were other dynasties such as the Ahoms, who invaded the north-east of today’s India. But most of these who were once invaders, ruled parts of India much like other kings of the country. They collected and spent taxes here, constructed buildings, provided justice, and encouraged the arts. British rule was different, in that they used India as a source for money and raw materials that were transmitted to their own country. Dadabhai Naoroji (1825-1917), an Indian political leader and the first Asian to become a member of Parliament in Britain, explained this as ‘the drain of wealth’, in his book Poverty and and Un-British Rule in India.  He estimated that the British were taking money away from India at the rate of 30,000,000 to 40,000,000 pounds a year. Railways had been constructed, but the money earned from them belonged to Britain. In addition, railways were used to transport raw materials, which were later sent out of India. It seemed as if there were some good points, as law and order were maintained, but Naoroji said that under the British, ‘the Indian starves in peace and perishes in peace, with law and order’.  Artisans lost their livelihood. There was inequality, as only the British were given high posts. India was a ‘colony’ of Britain, but neither India nor Britain were unique. Across the world, other European nations, the including France, Portugal and Germany, had their own colonies, and similarly exploited those they colonized.
It was a long struggle to gain freedom from the British. The Revolt of 1857 was the first widespread expression of protest. After the founding of the Indian National Congress in 1885, the movement became more organized, and finally, though many groups had participated, it was Mahatama Gandhi who led India to freedom through satyagraha, his policy of peaceful protest, combining non-violence and truth. There were around 565 Indian states, which the British did not directly rule, though they controlled them through their agents. Many people in these states also participated in the freedom movement.
These peaceful protests brought about gradual changes, and an involvement of Indians in the government in the British provinces.
India became free at one minute past midnight on the of 14th August, that is, the first minute of the 15th. Though many celebrated and rejoiced, some, like Mahatma Gandhi, were sad–firstly because two countries of India and Pakistan were created instead of one, and secondly because there were riots and killings between Hindus and Sikhs on one side, and Muslims on the other.
But the new country of India overcame these problems. With the adoption of the Constitution on 26 January 1950, India became fully independent. It became a democracy, a Republic with two houses of Parliament, the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, headed by the president, with real power in the hands of the prime minister, the other ministers, and Parliament.
What we must celebrate after 70 years, is that this democracy is still functioning. As I see it, this has been India’s greatest achievement. Pakistan gained independence at the same time as India, but could not provide a stable government. Many more countries gained Independence after India, both in Asia and Africa. Most of them have faced problems, in governance and otherwise.
As we celebrate India’s freedom, we must guard and protect its greatest treasure–that of being a democracy, with a Constitution that guarantees certain freedoms, and provides equal rights to people of all communities, castes and religions.
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