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Just the 4 great men- Jawaharlal Nehru, M.K. Gandhi, B.R. Ambedkar and Rabindranath Tagore have wrote close to 50, 000 volumes on diverse topics.
If only the petty contemporary politicians who claim to be followers of these great men & women had read the writings/speeches of these great people. When Guha introduces, he writes, "The tradition that this book has showcased is dead. No politician now alive can think or write in an original way or even interesting fashion about the direction Indian society and politics is or should be taking."
In this book, Ramachandra Guha has introduced and edited writing (and speeches) of 19 men and women, who he thinks were the makers of modern India. There are a few surprising additions, and a few omissions. Without delving into why there were a few added or deleted from this list, we can look at the heterogeneity of the their thoughts and their views on causes close to them.
The book shows the diversity and originality of thought, the "argumentative" or debating nature of these men/women, and a compendium of ideas on wide variety of subjects.
Guha has tried to tie the book together with his introduction and editions, but still this is a collection rather than one cohesive, flowing tome.
The book starts with Rammohun Roy- a modernist way ahead of his time, who wrote about freedom, social justice, and educational reforms and goes on to Syed Ahmed Khan- the founder of Aligarh Muslim university. Jotirao Phule talks about rural poverty and caste inequalities while Hamid Dalwai writes about the extremism in both Hindus and Muslims .
There are the radicals, the rightists, the leftists, the early capitalists, and the feminists.
It off course, covers the social and reforming ideas of Gandhi. Some speeches and writings by Ambedkar and Gandhi has been put across in a debating fashion making for a great read.
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