22 October, 2020

Dreamy Wakefulness

Seven decades are masterfully and palatably crunched, but expends pages on the well-known

Dreamy Wakefulness
outlookindia.com
2019-03-29T11:19:33+05:30

Encapsulating seven deca­des of socio-political and economic history of a country like India, with its complex diversity and cultural heritage, is itself a daunting task, but to attempt it in a 270-page book with just 19 chapters would seem nothing short of being foolhardy. So it is clear that the authors are neither trying to provide a complete picture of the country’s history, nor satiate the appetite of every discerning reader.

What’s more, the pace never slackens, as the authors embellish policy issues of governments and personal decisions of Indian leaders, with quirky anecdotes and little-known nuggets. For instance, the opening paragraph of the chapter Dumb Doll, where a high-ranking Con­gress leader asks a holy man what the stars foretell as the plane carrying Lal Bahadur Shastri’s body arrives in Delhi from Tashkent. His answer: ‘A hat-trick’, implying that the next prime minister too will be from the same city, Allahabad. Or how, during Partition, dictionaries were ripped apart in libraries, with the portion carrying...

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