Book Reviews - Indian History

Back in the day (school, to be precise!) I never took interest in Indian history. All I remember is - endless bookmarks and notes that made my hands and head hurt. Never realizing that history can be interesting. It happened in our parents/ grand parent's lives, and in some way it impacted us all. At least that's what I take from reading this non-fiction genre. It's very important for me to know what happened, people's reactions and the many lessons we can learn from them. Knowing the truth, is better than not knowing at all. So this curiosity led me to read about a few major catastrophic events, movements and revolution in India. Based in 4 different parts of India, at 4 different times, unrelated to each other, but greatly influenced by caste and religion. Killing many, gaining nothing, terrorizing, and having just one common enemy - The Government! Hope you enjoy the reviews.

"Amritsar - Mrs. Gandhi's Last Battle", by Mark Tully & Satish Jacob

Rating - 5/5 stars

Book Review - Operation Blue Star was such an unfortunate attempt by Mrs. Gandhi’s government to control the chaos that they created. Attack on a shrine, visited daily by thousands (if not lakhs!) of innocent devotees? Wrong move!! Things definitely needed to be controlled, and fast. But the approach was wrong. I don’t know what I would have done, but war on a shrine would not be the way to go. The attack could have been approached differently. And to be honest, I sense lots of loopholes - how come some very important people got away unscathed? Conspiracy? I know so much was not reported or telecasted for the world to see. Evidences were kept hidden from the public. What is it that the government was trying to hide? I believe it was their way of saving face. They were guilty, even before their plan was executed. Like all the other attacks, even this was disastrous. Not afraid to conclude that it was almost like a terrorist attack, but this time it came from the then government office in Delhi.

Having said that, Kudos to the hard work of the authors, for giving us a well researched and detailed account of all that happened in Amritsar in the 80s. All the events leading up to the Operation Blue Star, Mrs. Gandhi's assassination, aftermath, their opinion concluding at the very end, is absolutely genius. They never took sides; they simply stated the facts. Only at the very end, inconclusively at that, did they point out how it could have been avoided! They are after all journalists, who came closest to the truth. An excellent read, if you are curious to know the details of what happened in Amritsar in the year 1984.

"Black Friday", by S. Hussain Zaidi

More about the book Here.

Rating - 5/5 stars

My Review - Black Friday was such a sad day for India. What a cowardly attack on the innocent civilians! Religion has become an easy excuse. It is used, carelessly, to manipulate young and passionate minds. It is India’s biggest worry. Killing, spreading terror.. For what? Who wins? Revenge is aimed against whom? I don’t think any religious book or writing says, that, killing is Okay! Individual interpretations are dangerous. What is shocking is that so many educated people are involved in such attacks.

This book on 1993’s Bombay bomb blasts is very informative. Well written and crisp. You can see the author's hard work. It was a very disturbing topic; I had nightmares for a few days. But it only adds (positively), to my outlook on religion, community, and humanity. All I can say is, a well-written work of non-fiction by Mr. Zaidi.

"Our Moon Has Blood Clots", by Rahul Pandita

More about the book here.

Rating - 4/5 stars

My Review - The account of loss and problems faced by the survivors of 1990 attacks on Kashmiri pandits is unimaginable. It is an irreparable loss. Loss of human beings can be calculated in numbers, loss of property can be estimated in currency. But the actual loss cannot be measured. The loss of family, home, memories, friends, and in general, loss of things that together form part of life, all this cannot be quantified for.

This book narrates the stories of a few people (including author's story), which gives you the first hand experience of the fear and loss they suffered. Leaving behind their house, which they grew up in, their family homes. The struggle to rebuild their lives, the emotions they had to deal with. You may eventually move in to another better and spacious house. But it takes years to create memories in them, and call it a Home.

While I write this, the news channel is rolling a piece on protesters seeking government’s attention, and the various gun shots that are being shot on civilians in Jammu & Kashmir. I know this book ended where it had to end, but the story of exile still continues in 2015. If only people were more understanding and less aggressive towards each other. If at all we have learnt anything from our history, it is that killing another will not fetch you peace or make your life better. Putting someone through misery will not make your religion or community stronger. It only shows your insecurity and inability to face problems head on.

"Hello, Bastar", by Rahul Pandita

More about the book here

Rating - 3/5 stars

My Review - For those who want the ground zero report on the Naxal (Maoist) Movement in Central India, this is a good book to read. It gives you a gist of where it started, what goes on in those jungles, what ignites their anger, and what motivates them to keep going. It’s interesting to read how they are sure they are doing the right thing by revolting, instead of initiating peace talks. They believe they have been betrayed several times, and have fallen victim to politics. So according to them it's justified to take law and order in their own hands.

The research done by the author is unbiased but also one sided. I wish there was more to it, so we could understand it better. But anyways, I leave the judgment to you.

PS: Currently Reading - "Mother Teresa", by Navin Chawla.

Next Up is - "Lean In" by Sheryl Sandberg.

Love & Peace



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