Imatge de l'autor

Jawaharlal Nehru (1888–1964)

Autor/a de The Discovery of India

100+ obres 1,444 Membres 17 Ressenyes 4 preferits

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Obres de Jawaharlal Nehru

The Discovery of India (1946) 711 exemplars
Glimpses of World History (1982) 254 exemplars
An Autobiography Jawaharlal Nehru (1936) 162 exemplars
The Wild Life of India (1964) — Pròleg — 20 exemplars
Nehru on Gandhi (1948) 13 exemplars
A Bunch of Old Letters (1960) 12 exemplars
A tryst with destiny (1947) 4 exemplars
Visit to America (1950) 3 exemplars
Jawaharlal Nehru, an anthology (1980) 2 exemplars
La Promesse tenue 2 exemplars
Bunch of Old Letters (1960) 1 exemplars
nľetrajz 1 exemplars
HINDUSTAN KI KAHANI 1 exemplars
JAWAHARLAL NEHRU 1 exemplars
Glimpses of World History- 2 (2015) 1 exemplars
Glimpses of World History- 1 (2015) 1 exemplars
Bharat Sandhane (2015) 1 exemplars
Autobiografie 1 exemplars
India's Foreign Policy (1961) 1 exemplars
Indian Images (1996) 1 exemplars
Verdens historie 1 exemplars
Letters to the PCC presidents (1955) 1 exemplars
India rediscovered 1 exemplars

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I really enjoyed this book. With his great writing style and interesting observations on a wide range of things about India, Nehru can keep you hooked even today with his experiences and thoughts. I read this book through a cynical lens as well, since after all it was written by an active politician, even if from within a prison cell (1934-1935)! It doesn't suffer too much despite that. For the most part, Nehru makes intellectually honest arguments about the topics he takes up. The only thing you could accuse him of is some errors of omission. Even though the book is all about serious issues and harsh events, Nehru somehow packages them up in genteel, elegant prose. It can transport you to a different time and mental realm each time you pick it up, and is quite unputdownable for long stretches!

At the end of this review/summary I've listed chapters in the book that I found very worthwhile, so they can be appreciated without having to read all 600 pages.

A chronicle of ideas
---------------------------
An example may illustrate better the nature of this book. Writing in Chapter 44 (Prison Humours) when being taken by car from one prison to another, Nehru says, "During that long midnight drive I mused over the relations of Englishmen and Indians… ". He describes how these two nations encounter each other only in adverse situations ("of ruler and ruled, of official and non-official, of those in authority and those who have to obey") leading to mutual distrust, dislike and ignorance. He admits that British officials couldn't help but be a bit partial to him: ".. .the fact that I had received my education in England… brought me nearer to them. They could not help consider me as more or less civilized after their own pattern". A little further along is this nugget: "As soon as one begins to think of the other side as a mass or crowd, the human link seems to go". Elsewhere in the chapter he describes the day-to-day routines that he uses to cope with prison life, while also comparing prison policies in India with those of contemporary USA!

I felt that this continuous mingling of personal experiences with social, political currents is a hallmark of this book and gives it much of its flavour. Treating it as plain chronology would be to miss its essence (and Nehru would probably die of boredom in any attempt to write such an account). Because literally in every other page there is some reflection on larger questions: about practical politics and moral positions, about historical trends and the impact of different personalities, about aspects unique to India and things common to all of humanity. True there is a dizzying array of events where you are likely to get lost (Congress sessions, resolutions, agitations, multiple jail terms, separation and sadness, health issues and death, travels and holidays). But the meat of the plot is really Nehru's restless musings over such questions, during his quest to break the British stranglehold over power and define a way forward for India.

An unbreakable spirit
---------------------------
Through the decades of ups and downs described in the book, I couldn't sense a single moment of giving up. No doubt there are periods of severe doubt regarding the future, and despair at the turn events and people are taking, but I felt like they were being viewed as temporary setbacks only. Some kind of subconscious re-assessment is instantly afoot, where the permanent reference point is an independent India, and the present moment can only be explained - or experienced even - in terms of how much it deviates (either in time or degree) from that inevitable destiny.

In Chapter 61 (Desolation), he is crushed when Gandhi withdraws the Civil Disobedience Movement, "With a stab of pain I felt that the chords of allegiance that had bound me to him for many years had snapped". A few pages later, he is already thinking of the future: "Of the many hard lessons that I had learnt, the hardest and the most painful now faced me: that it is not possible in any vital matter to rely on anyone. One must journey through life alone". But perhaps the high point is Chapter 54 (The record of British rule). From within their prison cell he begins a long intellectual take down of their system of administration, and then starts planning how a new set of technocrats will replace the Imperial Civil Service! "Whenever India becomes free, and in a position to build her new life as she wants to, she will necessarily require the best of her sons and daughters for this purpose.. We shall want the help of many foreign experts in many departments of public activity, particularly in those which require special technical and scientific knowledge… it seems to me quite essential that the ICS and similar services must disappear completely, as such, before we can start real work on a new order".

This is not the optimism that arises from data or opinion polls, or of the knowledge of political strategies and their outcomes. It felt more temperamental, like someone who has a bias for intense action at all times, and this urge for action overwhelms reason and inspires a belief that a better world is bound to come. Humour and detachment seem to be just other manifestations of this bias during times when no other outlet for action exists. He writes in Chapter 4 (Harrow and Cambridge) that "risk and adventure" fascinated him, and he liked to gamble in things where stakes were high.

His bias for intense action also shows up in his disdain for the ideas of the Liberal Party (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Liberal_Party) in Chapter 51 (The Liberal Outlook). He complains that they seem to be preoccupied by trivial questions like who got appointed where, how will the colonial government react to some agitation of the Congress, and so on. "They do not act, for fear of acting. They do not move, for fear of falling". Incidentally, this chapter demonstrates his ability to spring sarcasm and satire on you when you're least expecting it! I was laughing out loud at some of its parts.

The main stream of the freedom struggle
------------------------------------------------------
Nehru's analytical skills regarding people, political movements and their motivations shine through repeatedly. So much so that in hindsight you realize that it's not an accident that in the preface he states that "this account is wholly one-sided, and inevitably, egotistical; many important happenings have been completely ignored and many important persons, who shaped events, have hardly been mentioned". If you notice large gaps when reading it, you're inclined to excuse him due to this disclaimer. But wait a minute! Did he choose the autobiographical format precisely because it gave him a chance to use his formidable literary and analytical skills to cement his political position at a crucial time - without appearing too self-promotional?? Still, he wrote this book entirely in prison, and may not have been in a position to write a more objective version of events…

To approach the life of one of the freedom movement's central leaders through a purely cynical lens would be to miss the wood for the trees. After all, Nehru managed to stay in the thick of things, ultimately gained power and presided over a new political structure for many years. He was part of a movement that built a nation. A nation that many people still believe is a great idea and defend intensely. And a movement that is still studied by historians and political scientists - not as a cautionary tale but one worth admiring and learning from. That's not to say the movement didn't have other strands and currents - any large national movement is bound to have diversity. They show up in this autobiography too at various places.

For example, in Chapter 35 ("Karachi Congress"), Nehru writes how a young man known for being a violent revolutionary (Chandrashekhar Azad) showed up at his house in Allahabad one day and complained he was in a fix because he was finding it increasingly hard to evade the British police. Sadly, Azad was to meet his end a few weeks later, in a police shoot-out in that same city. In another chapter (21: In Europe), Nehru writes about meeting former revolutionaries who were then living in exile in Europe. Quite a few were part of the "Berlin Committee" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berlin_Committee) group that had formed during the First World War. They represented an era and phase of the freedom struggle before the mass based, non-violent approach got proposed by Gandhi and starting showing signs of success. Nehru’s accounts of his interactions with these people and their short character sketches are laced with remorse, and, surprisingly, dry humor (and I have already mentioned one of his takes on the Liberal Party).

He attitude towards religion-centered politics is harshly critical. For the most part, he clubs communal politics with the feudal landlord class when analyzing it.Strangely there's very little in this book on caste-based issues, including the Gandhi-Ambedkar Poona pact of 1932.

Despite all the internal disagreements that made up the Congress, Nehru remains ever worried about the opportunity costs of what he regards as ill-timed or foolhardy political actions, and does not spare even Gandhi (for example when he embarks on his fast unto death before the Poona pact). Chapter 48 (The Dual Policy of British Government) provides a hint about the level of his concern: "the real reason why the Congress and other non-official organisations cannot do much for social reform goes deeper. We suffer from the disease of nationalism, and that absorbs our attention and it will continue to do so till we get political freedom. As Bernard Shaw has said: A conquered nation is like a man with cancer; he can think of nothing else"

India and Swaraj
-----------------------
It may be necessary to pause and consider what India meant to the leaders and people of that generation. It is likely the word "India" did not bring to mind a firm political entity and the attendant aspirations or disappointments that it does today. "India" would have been a nebulous entity of the future - some amalgamation of this large population spread across a large landscape that consisted of hundreds of small and large kingdoms and every type of social diversity. In Chapter 53 (India: Old and New), Nehru refers to one popular conception: "Mother India, a beautiful lady, very old but every youthful in appearance, sad-eyed and forlorn, cruelly treated by aliens and outsiders, and calling upon her children to protect her. Some such picture rouses the emotion of hundreds of thousands and drives them to action and sacrifice. And yet India is in the main the peasant and the worker, not beautiful to look at, for poverty is not beautiful". To Nehru, India is inseparable from its current pitiable state.

"India" will necessarily have to be understood along with another word swirling around amorphously at the time, i.e., "Swaraj", which was all about the future. In Chapter 11 (1921 and the First Imprisonment) he writes, "Each one of us probably interpreted the word in his or her own way. To most of the younger men it meant political independence, or something like it, and a democratic form of government, and we said so in our public utterances. Many of us also thought that inevitably this would result in a lessening of the burdens that crushed the workers and the peasantry. But it was obvious that to most of our leaders Swaraj meant something much less than independence. Gandhi was delightfully vague on the subject...".

A yearning for political freedom
-----------------------------------------
Unlike leaders of earlier generations (say Gopalakrishna Gokhale or Surendranath Banerjee) Nehru has no patience with British rule and rarely in doubt as to whether India is a country. Growing up, he would hear his family discuss the racially discriminatory practices (both small and large) followed by the British and he was "filled with resentment against the alien rulers of my country". This would have rankled since his father lived alongside British officials in Allahabad's Civil Lines (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Lines,_Prayagraj) area, and in earlier generations his family had worked in the court of Mughal kings. His subsequent education in Harrow and Cambridge meant he could see through their claims of racial superiority and their so-called civilizing misson.

While his attitude towards India's political future doesn't change much, there is a sea change in his commitment towards making it happen. Here is the imprisoned man in his forties writing about his youth (Chapter 4: Harrow and Cambridge): "My general attitude to life at the time was a vague kind of cyrenaicism, partly natural to youth, partly the influence of Oscar Wilde and Walter Pater. It is easy and gratifying to give a long Greek name to the desire for a soft life and pleasant experiences... Work and games and amusements filled my life and the only thing that disturbed me sometimes was the political struggle in India".

In contrast, we read how his father Motilal modifies his opinion about British rule in slow, incremental steps, until eventually he throws in his lot with Gandhi and starts going to jail. Writing about a time before 1919, Nehru says of his father: "Each step forward meant for him a hard and bitter struggle in his mind. And when that step was taken after a struggle with a part of himself, there was no going back" (Chapter 5: Back home and War time politics in India). In Chapter 7 (The coming of Gandhiji) Nehru points out that the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre had a "profound effect" on changing Motilal's attitude towards the British.

One big change we do learn about is after his visit to the villages of UP in 1920 (Chapter 8: I am externed and Chapter 9: Wanderings among the kisans) when he sees from up close the pathetic state of India's farmers. "I was totally ignorant of labour conditions in factories or fields, and my political outlook was entirely bourgeois". I was surprised that even hundred years back, people from elite backgrounds like Nehru's were already out of touch with rural India!

Beyond traditional nationalism
----------------------------------------
Your ability to empathize with Nehru's causes hinges, in part, on an identification of a new country and a specific conception of it. In Chapter 53 (India: Old and new), he gives a brief overview of the history of Indian nationalism (with some comparisons to Italy), and insists that there exists an element of cultural unity across this land even though political unity was only sporadic. With respect to the present and the future, he says India will have to adopt many elements of the capitalist West, because "the West brings science, and science brings food for the hungry millions". But from the West we should also learn socialism, co-operation and service to community.

In Chapter 54 (The record of British rule), he positions India as part of a larger whole: ".. the changes that have taken place in India during the last century have been world changes common to most countries in the East and West". He argues that the British "prevented our industrial growth, and thus delayed our political growth, and preserved all the out-of-date feudal and other relics they could find in the country".

Chapter 19 (Communalism Rampant) gives a flavour of the communal tensions in the 1920's, who benefits from them and the British policy of divide and rule. Chapter 56 (Communalism and reaction) is a masterclass in socio-political analysis. He describes the very different attitudes towards the British administration between the Hindu and Muslim intelligentsia after the 1857 revolt, how Syed Ahmad Khan sought to change the standoffish nature of Muslims towards the British, and later how their elite struggled to stick to the Congress' nationalist path and repeatedly got co-opted by the British. He believes - or at least, writes - that communal politics coincides with the interests of landlords and the upper middle class. The landlords generally go along with the British as long as they don't lose their wealth, and between them and the upper middle class try to garner all the electoral seats and government jobs. The average worker and peasant had nothing in common with these sorts of folks beyond his religion, and kept getting deceived into their schemes.

Looking at how the 1940’s played out, one wonders whether Nehru had a blind spot here. Did he miss noticing the primacy of religion for many of these people, and trample all over their refusal to sign up to be part of some grand, unchartered political project? In the 1920’s, a politically united India with its benefits of "Swaraj" was nowhere on the horizon. So did the "feudal princes", "feudal landlords", "political reactionaries", "reactionary communal bodies", "vested interests" (all among the labels he uses for these political opponents), have a common cause with the Liberal Party in wanting to take things slow or avoid change altogether? History tells us that Nehru's political camp had their way, but this autobiography is probably not the place to find an accurate representation of his opponents’ concerns.

Coming back to Chapter 54 (The record of British rule), he compares India to what's happening in contemporary Arabia, Russia, Italy, Turkey, and goes on to demolish any claims of efficiency, competence etc of the British Imperial Civil Service. In his opinion, their orientation itself was wrong. They existed in "service of the Empire, and India came a bad second".

In another great chapter (62: Paradoxes), he uses his criticism of some of Gandhi's views to explain why their worldviews are so different: "To try to understand the complex problems of the modern world by an application of ancient methods and formulae when these problems did not exist, to use out-of-date phrases in regard to them, is to produce confusion and to invite failure. The very idea of private property, which seems to some people one of the fundamental notions of the world, has been an ever-changing one…". Later in the chapter he proposes socialism as a solution to the problems of India (I guess we all know how well that turned out). In all these parts, he connects abstract political ideas beautifully to concrete events (both in India and abroad). While the private property bit is an obvious nod to Marx, he is careful to reject violent overthrow of existing structures, suppression of civil liberties, or a deterministic worldview that frames politics as a pre-determined struggle between classes (the latter would have been laughable to these people who knew the worth of individual personalities and contingent events).

I’ve listed many (gratuitous?) details in these last few paras to justify my impression of Nehru’s nationalism: with the promises of freedom and democracy, with his desire to bring the benefits of modern science and "its offspring" (as he calls it) to India, with his advocacy of socialism, and apprehension of what was going on in the Indian geographical area as part of larger worldwide trends, I think Nehru represents the culmination of a successful transition from old fashioned ethnic or territorial nationalism to "modernity" (which in his times would have meant largely adopting ideas from the West). As history tells us, the territorial boundaries of the eventual Indian nation turned out to be influenced by chance and contingent events, but the ideology that was used to bind these inhabitants together during the freedom struggle remains as the glue. Unities across caste, region and language had to be consciously forged across a large and diverse landscape. And the one place where it just wouldn't take shape, left behind the wreckage of Partition.

Second fiddle to Gandhi
--------------------------------
For all his convictions, zeal and high-sounding proclamations, Nehru (and it seems much of the Congress leadership) is openly subservient to Gandhi when it comes to any kind of mass political agitation. He is in awe of Gandhi and has great personal respect for him, despite many ideological differences. It’s hard to say whether Nehru’s admiration of Gandhi is because he met Gandhi when he was fairly young (27), or because Gandhi chose him as a protege and encouraged his political career. Writing about Gandhi's intimate connect with the Indian masses (Chapter 27: Thunder in the air), ".. he has repeatedly toured India and got to know every bit of the vast country .. I do not think any other human being has ever travelled about India as much", and ".. in this way he gathered his unique knowledge of India and her people, and in this way also scores of millions got to see him and came into personal touch with him". This position of subordination to Gandhi continues through to the negotiations after the Salt March, both in London and Delhi (Chapter 34: Delhi Pact and Chapter 38: Round Table Conference), where he admits that they often let him bear the burden of making the big decisions.

Non-violence and violence
-----------------------------------
The decade of 1920s all the way to the Dandi March in 1930 is quite eventful (this roughly coincides with Nehru's 30's). Nehru gets to witness Gandhi's famous Satyagraha techniques from up close: from the aborted Non-Cooperation Movement of 1921 to the high point that was the Dandi March. In 1921, he is just happy to have an effective method of resistance, with a bonus that it made them feel more ethical and self-righteous than anyone who would oppose them. But the optimism lasted only a short while, as the Chauri Chaura violence (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chauri_Chaura_incident) put an end to that movement. In Chapter 12 (Non-violence and the doctrine of the sword), Nehru expresses his disappointment about the effectiveness of this approach. His own experience of getting whacked by the colonial police is described during the visit of the Simon Commission of 1930 (Chapter 25: Experience of Lathi charges): "a feeling of exhilaration that I was physically strong enough to face and bear lathi blows. And a thing that surprised me was that right through the incident, even when I was being beaten, my mind was quite clear and I was consciously analyzing me feelings". Followed the next day by another whacking from a "long lines of cavalry.. galloping down towards us". "Long training and discipline help and I did not raise a hand, except to protect my face from a blow". While Nehru survived spectacularly to tell his tale, the same wouldn't have been true for many Indians of his time.

In Chapter 63 (Conversion or Compulsion), he goes in for an intense interrogation of Gandhi's methods. He admits that it has so far not freed India from British imperialism, and has not been used to remove any social evils, but to India's millions it has given "character, strength and self-reliance - precious gifts without which any progress, political or social, is difficult to achive or retain". He is critical of efforts to equate non-violence with truth and goodness itself. "Violence itself, though bad, cannot be considered intrinsically immoral. There are shades and grades of it…". From there, Nehru gets to the heart of a contradiction that can't have failed to have impressed itself upon people like him: "Violence is the very life-blood of the modern State and social system. Without the coercive apparatus of the State taxes would not be realized, landlords would not get their rents, and private property would disappear". The irony of advocating non-violence to gain control over the monopoly holder of violence - that too a blatantly immoral State - is not lost on Nehru. In this chapter he discusses the need for a coercive state, why power might have to be countered with power, why relations between groups are qualitatively different from relations between individual humans, and so on. This chapter feels timeless.

Through all this, nowhere does Nehru discuss taking up violence as a serious option for him personally. Given his father's lawyer background and his elite upbringing, it wouldn't have been a natural step for him. He mentions many times that his initial outlook to politics was based entirely on his class background ('bourgeoise' or the middle class). In Chapter 18 (My father and Gandhiji), he writes, "Those who believe in terroristic violence are completely out of court in the modern world and are considered ineffective and out of date." And later (Chapter 24: Return to India and plunge back into politics), he offers a bit more reasoning, since he is writing in the aftermath of the death of Bhagat Singh and the harsh British repression that preceded it. "Terrorism usually represents the infancy of a revolutionary urge in a country. That stage passes, and with it passes terrorism as an important phenomenon". He attributes Bhagat Singh's sudden and widespread popularity not to the violent aspect of his actions, but what those actions symbolized: a vindication of "the honour of Lala Lajpat Rai, and through him, of the nation".

Curious omissions
------------------------
It is also during the descriptions of these years that you feel like other popular names get short shrift: Vallabhbhai Patel, Subhas Chandra Bose and Ambedkar to pick some. Regarding Patel, Nehru writes in praise of the Bardoli sayagraha of 1928 (Chapter 24: Return to India and plunge back into politics), "... under the leadership of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. It was gallantly carried through to the admiration of the rest of India…Bardoli became a sign and symbol of hope and strength and victory to the Indian peasant". But beyond straightforward descriptions like this, there is no mention in this book of deeper interactions with any of these personalities. There is some mention of Bose towards the end of book, in the context of internal Congress rivalries and Bose leaving to form his "Forward Bloc". But that's about it. He is furious about Gandhi's fast unto death in 1932. He terms the issue of separate electorate for Backward Classes "a side issue… just a question of electorate"! His telegram to Gandhi during that time sums up his attitude: "... Freedom must be judged by freedom of lowest but feel danger of other issues obscuring only goal".

Religion
------------
Those last few bits are from Chapter 47 (What is religion?), where he takes on that thorny topic. It is a phenomenal essay both in content and context, in my opinion. Being never religious himself, he would have only encountered it undesirable and degraded forms within the politics of the freedom struggle. Early in his political career (Chapter 10: Non Co-operation), he is miffed at the prominence religious leaders are being given inside this movement: "Much that Moulvies and Maulanas and Swamis and the like said in their public addresses seemed to me most unfortunate. Their history and sociology and economics appeared to me all wrong, and the religious twist that was given to everything prevented all clear thinking"

So it is not surprising that in Chapter 47 (What is religion?), he rails against "organized religion" and in particular its failure to check large atrocities such as, unbelievably, Western Imperialism! He cites the problem of religion meaning different things to different people, provides his own definition of it, whether inner development precedes material wellbeing or vice-versa, whether religion provides a safe anchorage from doubt and mental conflict and so on. These outpourings are provoked by Gandhi's fasts and unusual methods of political mobilization, but Nehru uses them as a starting point to touch upon Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, Hinduism and Taoism. Astonishingly, he again sidesteps the issue of caste altogether.

Perhaps the following excerpts can shine more light on Nehru's relationship with religion: "I am afraid it is impossible for me to seek harbourage in this way. I prefer the open sea, with all its storms and tempests. Nor am I greatly interested in the after life, in what happens after death. I find the problems of this life sufficiently absorbing to fill my mind". And in Chapter 28 (Independence and After), he is watching from his home in Allahabad the lakhs of people who come for the Kumbh Mela: "How amazingly powerful was that faith which had for thousands of years brought them and their forbears from every corner of India to bathe in the holy Ganga! Could they not divert some of this tremendous energy to political and economic action to better their own lot?" Is it any surprise then that, "India, to whom I had given my love and for whom I had laboured, seemed a strange and bewildering land to me. Was it my fault that I could not enter into the spirit and ways of thinking of my countrymen?" (Chapter 47: What is religion?)

Conclusion
---------------
Despite its length I feel that in this review I've only managed to scratch the surface of what this book could mean to a potential reader. In its central character, in its timespan and the events it encompasses it has the capacity to evoke a wide range of thoughts and feelings, especially among - but not just restricted to - Indians. Its elegant prose with its occasional drops of poetry feels like Nehru deliberately mocking us that there is an embarrassment of riches to be found here, in much the same way anyone invested in understanding India's nationalist movement is bound to discover about it, sooner or later.

Chapters worth reading
------------------------------
Chapter 4: Harrow and Cambridge
Chapter 7: The coming of Gandhiji
Chapter 8: I am externed
Chapter 9: Wanderings among the kisans
Chapter 10: Non Co-operation
Chapter 11: 1921 and the First Imprisonment
Chapter 12: Non-violence and the doctrine of the sword
Chapter 18: My father and Gandhiji
Chapter 19: Communalism Rampant
Chapter 21: In Europe
Chapter 24: Return to India and plunge back into politics
Chapter 25: Experience of Lathi charges
Chapter 27: Thunder in the air
Chapter 28: Independence and After
Chapter 35: Karachi Congress
Chapter 38: Round Table Conference
Chapter 44: Prison Humours
Chapter 45: Animals in Prison
Chapter 47: What is religion?
Chapter 48: The Dual Policy of British Government
Chapter 51: The Liberal Outlook
Chapter 53: India: Old and New
Chapter 54: The record of British rule
Chapter 56: Communalism and reaction
Chapter 61: Desolation
Chapter 62: Paradoxes
Chapter 63: Conversion or Compulsion
… (més)
 
Marcat
pramodbiligiri | Hi ha 4 ressenyes més | Apr 6, 2024 |
I wish I had known about the existence of this book during my school years. History was one of my favourite subjects and reading this simultaneously would have put so many things into perspective for me. While I understand that a sizeable part of the narrative is biased and comes from Nehru’s personal point of view, reading it was a spiffing experience. (Nehru’s enormous vocabulary inspired me to upgrade mine)

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister, wrote ‘The Discover of India’ during 1942-1945 while incarcerated at Ahmednagar fort. He is a well-read man and it is obvious from the way he used his knowledge of the Vedas, Upanishads, and other available literature at the time of writing the book to bring a unique outlook to India’s freedom struggle. I have always admired our freedom fighters who selflessly dedicated their lives to our people. But I seldom had the opportunity to understand the struggle for freedom through their eyes.

He talks about everything starting from ancient India’s Indus Valley Civilization to the current (the 1940s) struggle for freedom. He goes into detail about religion, politics, art and culture. The most striking part of the book, apart from Nehru’s impeccable vocabulary, is how progressive his ideologies were. He was truly a man born ahead of his time.

I, as someone without any reservations, understand the mixed emotions that the author generates among the people. We blame him for the reservation system. We blame him for the inequalities. I read the book without any prejudice to the best of my ability.

Whether you are a history buff or not, this deserves a reading. It will surely leave an impact on you. If nothing, you will at least be left with knowledge about India’s freedom struggle. I do want to reiterate that this is a first-hand account of events by the author and may not be historically accurate.
… (més)
 
Marcat
AnrMarri | Hi ha 9 ressenyes més | Aug 1, 2023 |
The purpose of this book is to provide Western readers with a broader and deeper understanding of Indian history, culture, and conditions. In addition it acquaints readers with the outlook and attitudes of India's leaders in the mid 20th century.
 
Marcat
PendleHillLibrary | Hi ha 9 ressenyes més | Apr 26, 2023 |
The fluidity of Nehru's writing takes your breath away.
 
Marcat
Rgv | Hi ha 9 ressenyes més | Aug 16, 2020 |

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