Thursday, 25 December 2014

The Colonel Who Would Not Repent/Prince of Gujarat

The Colonel Who Would Not Repent: The Bangladesh War and its Unquiet Legacy by Salil Tripathi from Aleph Book Company.

Salil Tripathi brings together the narrative skill of a novelist and the analytical tools of a political journalist to give us the story of a nation that is absorbing, haunting and illuminating. - Kamila Shamsie, author of a god in every stone. Between march and December 1971, the Pakistani army committed atrocities on an unprecedented scale in the countrys eastern wing. Pakistani troops and their collaborators were responsible for countless deaths and cases of rape. Clearly, religion alone wast enough to keep Pakistans two halves united.

From that brutal violence, Bangladesh emerged as an independent nation, but the wounds have continued to fester. The gruesome assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman-the countrys charismatic first prime minister-and most of his family, the coups and countercoups which followed, accompanied by long years of military rule were individually and collectively responsible for the countrys inability to come to grips with the legacy of the liberation war.

Four decades later, as Bangladesh tries to bring some accountability and closure to its bloodsoaked past through controversial tribunals prosecuting war crimes, Salil Tripathi travels the length and breadth of the country probing the countrys trauma through interviews with hundreds of Bangladeshis. His book offers the reader an unforgettable portrait of a nation whose political history since independence has been marked more by tragedy than triumph.

Many nation-states of Asia and Africa were once celebrated for their bold act of self-determination. They are best understood today through their failure to break free of their bloody origins and their always likely descent into anarchy. Salil Tripathis book resourcefully and grippingly describes Bangladeshs tormented search for truth and justice and its implications for the stability of one of the worlds largest muslim countries. - Pankaj Mishra, author of from the Ruins of empire - The intellectuals who remade asia.

In our History section, Rs. 595, in hardback, 400 pages, ISBN : 9789382277187

Prince of Gujarat: The Extraordinary Story of Prince Gopaldas Desai: 1887 - 1951 by Rajmohan Gandhi from Aleph Book Company.

With the surge of interest in personalities from Gujarat, not least because of the election of the controversial Narendra Modi as Prime Minister of India, there is no better time for a biography of a great son of Gujarat and one of Indias forgotten heroes.? Born in 1887 into a clan of princely Patels, Darbar (Or prince) Gopaldas was not only a beloved and just ruler of the people of his tiny state in Saurashtra, he was an active and courageous participant in the struggle for Indias freedom and for social justice.

Championing Dalit rights long before that became acceptable, he declared, when his wife Bhaktilaxmi was pregnant with their last child, that if it was a girl he would marry her to a Dalit boy, he stood out also for his concern for Gujarats Muslim minority and for his defence of womens rights. Egalitarian at a time when rulers measured status by the capacity to humiliate their subjects, he was quick to give up his life of privilege when it became necessary. After he joined the freedom movement in 1920, his life as a prince rapidly became a distant memory, with no fixed abode, he and his family would shuttle between prisons, ashrams and the homes of well-wishers.

Remarkably, although he grew close to Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, he spurned high office for himself, choosing instead to raise and mentor others, including four who became chief ministers, as well as Tribhuvandas Patel, who founded the famous milk cooperative that made Amul possible. In this biography, bestselling author Rajmohan Gandhi uses letters, rare documents, personal accounts and historical narratives to recreate in vivid and moving detail the life and times of a leader of supreme honesty and unalloyed patriotism who a hundred years ago also battled, as a prince, against the hierarchies of Indian society.

In our Politics section, Rs. 500, in hardback, 292 pages, ISBN : 9789383064069

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