Icons: Men and Women who Shaped Today s India
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144 pages

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Sixty glorious years of independence of India mark several milestones and immense contributions from great men and women who have become part of its history. For the first time ever, this book showcases post-Independent India's twenty greatest living personalities who have and continue to set extraordinary examples for the nation. Brilliantly orchestrated and edited by renowned author Anil Dharker, the book singularly establishes the unparalleled greatness and iconic status of these men and women, including A P J Abdul Kalam, Amartya Sen, Amitabh Bachchan, Sachin Tendulkar, M F Husain, Charles Correa and Sonia Gandhi, by some of India's best known writers - Srinivas Laxman, Prem Shankar Jha, Maithili Rao, Dom Moraes, Ranjit Hoskote, and Kumar Ketkar, among others. A fascinating saga spanning several decades, this book unfolds the charisma, exceptional destinies, talents and achievements of twenty men and women who continue to shape today's India.

'The previous evening while he (K C Pant, former defence minister) and Dr Kalam were going for a walk, the minister asked him: "What would you like me to do to celebrate the success of Agni tomorrow?" Replied Kalam, "We need 100,000 saplings at the missile research centre." Srinivas Laxman on A P J Abdul Kalam'



Publié par
Date de parution 06 avril 2011
Nombre de lectures 1
EAN13 9788174369444
Langue English

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Lotus Collection
Anil Dharker, 2008: Introduction , and signed essays
Authors for individual signed essays
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission of the publisher.
First published in 2008 The Lotus Collection An imprint of Roli Books Pvt. Ltd. M-75, G.K. II Market, New Delhi 110 048 Phones: ++91 (011) 2921 2271, 2921 2782 2921 0886, Fax: ++91 (011) 2921 7185 E-mail: roli@vsnl.com Website: rolibooks.com Also at Varanasi, Bangalore, Kolkata, Jaipur Mumbai
Cover design : Supriya Saran Layout design : Narendra Shahi
ISBN: 978-81-7436-612-2 Rs. 295/-
Typeset in Centaur MT by Roli Books Pvt. Ltd. and printed at Anubha Printers, Noida.
These are wonderful men and women, Ayesha. But there s always room for more.
A P J Abdul Kalam: India s Rocket Man Srinivas Laxman
Amartya Sen : The Philosopher Economist Prem Shankar Jha
Amitabh Bachchan: Bollywood s Brand Ambassador Maithili Rao
Baba Amte: The Intuitive Environmentalist Darryl D Monte
Charles Correa: An Infinity of Traces H Masud Taj
Deepak Chopra: How a Physician Became a Guru Ranjit Hoskote
Ebrahim Alkazi: The Nurturing Dictator Gerson da Cunha
Gavaskar and Tendulkar: India s Master Batsmen Dom Moraes
Khushwant Singh: The Man in the Light Bulb Rahul Singh
Lakshmi Mittal: The Man Who Would be King Daksesh Parikh
Lata Mangeshkar: India s Nightingale Jerry Pinto
Manmohan Singh: The Philosopher King Prem Shankar Jha
Maqbool Fida Husain: The Life and the Legend Ranjit Hoskote
Narayana Murthy: The Man Who Flattens the Earth Bachi Karkaria
P N Bhagwati: The Human Face of Justice Anil Dharker
Prannoy Roy: India s Favourite Anchor Rashme Sehgal
Ratan Tata: Teaching the Elephant to Dance Sailesh Kottary
Salman Rushdie: The Empire Writes Back Rani Dharker
Sonia Gandhi: The Politics of Being Mrs G Kumar Ketkar
Zubin Mehta: The Maestro Who Always Came Back Anil Dharker
Select Reading
I would like to express my gratitude to Sir Peter Wakefield, Chairman of Asia House, London and Rashmi Poddar, friend and art historian, for ideas we discussed years ago which finally led to this book. Goolam Vahanvati, Solicitor General of India and Sheryar Ookerjee, erudite music critic, for their inputs for my essays on Justice Bhagwati and Zubin Mehta, respectively. The office of Justice Bhagwati also helped with useful material. The contributors to this book, some of who were exemplary in sticking to deadlines, others who taught me the virtues of patience, for their illuminating essays. Pramod Kapoor, Publisher of Roli Books for his cheerful forbearance.
T he objective of this book is to present analyses and profiles of some of the figures who are playing an important role in the life of the nation as it completes sixty years of independence, and through them get a sense of where the country is heading.
The first criterion in deciding who would be included in these pages was that they should be living when the book was written. That explains the absence of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and many others.
The second criterion was to choose different aspects of India s life - politics, art, economics, industry, cinema, information technology and so on, and take a representative figure from each field, a figure whose influence is widely recognized as substantial. In writing about his or her work, some idea of what was happening in that field could also be conveyed to the reader.
Sixty years is but a tiny moment in the life of a nation. Yet it s been an eventful six decades, a veritable roller coaster ride. In 1947, there was a confidence in the future which even the trauma of Partition and its terrible aftermath failed to shake. Obviously, this had something to do with the optimism of a new beginning, but more than that, there was the certainty that the long (and peaceful) struggle for freedom had forged a united nation, one which had submerged its linguistic, cultural and religious differences in working for Independence and that the bonding that had been achieved would be permanent.
India was also carried forward by the vision of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. Although vastly different in their background and upbringing, they shared the ideal of a nation where all citizens, irrespective of caste and creed, would be equal in every way. The thrust of Nehru s economic policy, whatever we may think of it in retrospect, was also founded on the idealistic hope that socialism would bring about a more egalitarian society. Nehru s formulation of non-alignment, and his leadership of the non-aligned movement, gave the new nation a heady place in world affairs.
And then, suddenly, things started to unravel. China s invasion in 1962 made non-alignment seem hollow; the economy, stifled by ever increasing bureaucratic controls, began to die a slow death. Even secularism, made acceptable to most people by the sheer force of Nehru s personality, began to wither away once he and Indira Gandhi had gone. As if this weren t bad enough, when the Congress party s domination of politics ended, it wasn t replaced by a strong two-party system but by a coalition of parties, most of them regional, all wielding far more clout than their numbers justified, simply because they held the balance of power. Taking all this into account, anyone who had thought that the 1975 Emergency was the nadir of Indian democracy, was in for a shock : the depths were still to be plumbed.
By the early nineties, India and Indians were in a state of depression : India wasn t going anywhere; consequently Indians were going everywhere. Everywhere out of India, that is. The country was down and out and to compound the losses, it was shedding, very rapidly, its best talent. Then the light appeared at the end of a very long and very dark tunnel, and the upward journey of the roller coaster ride had begun. The (enforced) liberalization of the economy unleashed the innate Indian genius for entrepreneurship and the (unforeseen) liberalization of communications manumitted the dormant desire to be part of the world community. Since then, in less than a decade and a half, but particularly in the last five years, India s self-belief is as high as it must have been in 1947, but this time it s based not just on optimism, but on a solid economic foundation. The term Indian now has a certain cachet to it, and Indianess is a label that s now proudly flaunted all over the world.
Nothing, of course, is perfect. The government in power is only precariously in power because of slippery coalitions. Due to the resulting political compulsions as well as an entrenched mindset, the government aided by its compliant bureaucracy, is still unwilling to let go of whatever economic and procedural controls it still has in its power. Worse, religious fundamentalism has grown stronger, at its worst taking tragically violent form; or, if stopping short of violence, harking back militantly to the past.
Nevertheless, even through this murkiness, the idea of a resurgent, modern India, anchored by a strong value system, shines through. So much so, that even the young have embraced this idea of India. This is so because of the inherent strength of the country and its remarkable pool of extremely talented people.
The twenty people featured in this book represent them and the new idea of India in all its brightness. They are, in every sense, our national icons. The good news is that they aren t the only ones; the better news is that there will be very many more in the future.
Srinivas Laxman has worked for the Times of India for the last thirty years, specializing in the areas of space and nuclear energy. He is the author of Dreams To Reality , a biography of Dr Kalam written for children
I n early 200

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