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Glimpses of Leaders

Mukesh Vatsyayana

By Sankar Ghose
Allied Publishers, New Delhi, 1980, pp. 454, Rs. 100.00

VOLUME V NUMBER 3 November/December 1980

An understanding of the period from 1830 when Raja Rammohan Roy took first faltering steps on the road to what later came to be known as the Indian Renaissance, to 1947, the year which became the culmination point for various socio-political processes, is essential for a correct appraisal of our present predica­ment. Sankar Ghose in the present work deals with this significant period by presenting brief but adequate life-histories of prominent leaders who were shaped by and in turn shaped the prevailing social and political currents in the Indian society of their time. Exploring the exotic realm of history is always an exciting affair. But a move in the recent history of one's own society and country has an added attraction in that it gives us an account of why we are what we are today? And particularly when that history is presented as it was played out in the lives of famous men of the time, the tortuous twists and turns that it took in its evolution being reflect­ed in the changing responses and grow­ing expectations of the leaders with regard to the formidable challenge of their age. The saga that the author begins with Rammohan Roy comes to an epd with Indira Gandhi's expulsion from Parlia­ment in December 1978. And between these two, men as different as Sri Rama Krishna and Syed Ahmad Khan, Auro­bindo Ghose and Iqbal, Gandhi and M.N. Roy, Nehru and Savarkar, Maulana Azad and Patel, Subhas Bose and Rajagopalachari, Radhakrishnan and J.P., the trio of  Lal-Bal-Pal and many others appear on the scene to contribute their mite to the making of modern India. It is a rich and varied repast that the author provides us and within the scope in which he has confined himself in the name of 'objectivity', the book makes an engaging reading. It is interesting to find how religion weighed upon the con­sciousness of even the most 'modern' of Indian leaders born in nineteenth century and what a prominent part it played in shaping and influencing their responses to the manifold tasks and challenges that confronted them. I am mentioning this only to point out that just as the objective conditions of the nineteenth century made it imperative for its leaders to meet the western challenge by playing up the religious aspect of Indian personality, so the challenges of the last twenty years of the ...

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