1) Nehru – Benjamin Zachariah
Routledge | 2004 | PDF
This engaging new biography dispels many myths surrounding Nehru, and distinguishes between the icon he has become and the politician he actually was. Benjamin Zachariah places Nehru in the context of the issues of his time, including the central theme of nationalism, the impact of Cold War pressures on India and the transition from colonial control to a precarious independence. How did Jawaharlal Nehru come to lead the Indian nationalist movement, and how did he sustain his leadership as the first Prime Minister of independent India? Nehru’s vision of India, its roots in Indian politics and society, as well as its viability have been central to historical and present-day views of India. Connecting the domestic and international aspects of his political life and ideology, this study provides a fascinating insight into Nehru, his times and his legacy.
2) Indira: The Life of Indira Nehru Gandhi – Katherine Frank
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | 2002 | MOBI
An objective, detailed portrait of India’s third prime minister, Indira Nehru Gandhi, draws on previously unpublished sources and more than one hundred interviews to chronicle the life and times of one of the world’s most influential political leaders, from her youth, through her rise to political power, to her assassination and its aftermath.
3) His Majesty’s Opponent: Subhas Chandra Bose and India’s Struggle Against Empire – Sugata Bose
Belknap Press | 2012 | PDF
The man whom Indian nationalists perceived as the “George Washington of India” and who was President of the Indian National Congress in 1938–1939 is a legendary figure. Called Netaji (“leader”) by his countrymen, Subhas Chandra Bose struggled all his life to liberate his people from British rule and, in pursuit of that goal, raised and led the Indian National Army against Allied Forces during World War II. His patriotism, as Gandhi asserted, was second to none, but his actions aroused controversy in India and condemnation in the West.
Now, in a definitive biography of the revered Indian nationalist, Sugata Bose deftly explores a charismatic personality whose public and private life encapsulated the contradictions of world history in the first half of the twentieth century. He brilliantly evokes Netaji’s formation in the intellectual milieu of Calcutta and Cambridge, probes his thoughts and relations during years of exile, and analyzes his ascent to the peak of nationalist politics. Amidst riveting accounts of imprisonment and travels, we glimpse the profundity of his struggle: to unite Hindu and Muslim, men and women, and diverse linguistic groups within a single independent Indian nation. Finally, an authoritative account of his untimely death in a plane crash will put to rest rumors about the fate of this “deathless hero.”
This epic of a life larger than its legend is both intimate, based on family archives, and global in significance. His Majesty’s Opponent establishes Bose among the giants of Indian and world history.
4) The Man Who Saved India: Sardar Patel and His Idea of India – Hindol Sengupta
Penguin | 2018 | EPUB
There is perhaps no political figure in modern history who did more to secure and protect the Indian nation than Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. But, ironically, seventy years after Patel brought together piece by piece the map of India by fusing the princely states with British India to create a new democratic, independent nation, little is understood or appreciated about Patel’s enormous contribution to the making of India. Caricatured in political debate, all the nuances of Patel’s difficult life and the daring choices he made are often lost, or worse, used as mere polemic. If Mahatma Gandhi was the spiritual core of India’s freedom struggle and Jawaharlal Nehru its romantic idealism, it was Sardar Patel who brought in the vital pragmatism which held together the national movement and the first ideas of independent India. A naturally stoic man, Patel, unlike Gandhi or Nehru, wrote no personal history. He famously argued that its was better to create history than write it. This is why even his deepest misgivings and quarrels have been easily buried. But every warning that Patel left for India – from the dangers of allowing groups to create private militias to his thoughtful criticism on India’s approach to Kashmir, Pakistan and China – are all dangerously relevant today. It is impossible to read about Patel, who died in 1950, and not feel that had he lived on, India might have been a different country. It is also impossible to ignore Patel and understand not only what the idea of India is but also what it could have been, and might be in the future.
The Man Who Saved India is a sweeping, magisterial retelling of Sardar Patel’s story. With fiercely detailed and pugnacious anecdotes, multiple award-winning, best-selling writer Hindol Sengupta brings alive Patel’s determined life of struggle and his furious commitment to keep India safe. This book brings alive all the arguments, quarrels and clashes between some of the most determined people in Indian history and their battle to carve out an independent nation. Through ravages of a failing body broken by decades of abuse in and outside prison, Patel stands out in this book as the man who, even on his death bed, worked to save India. Hindol Sengupta’s The Man Who Saved India is destined to define Patel’s legacy for future generations.
5) Narendra Modi: A Political Biography – Andy Marino
Harper Collins | 2015 | EPUB
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrested a powerful victory for his party, has spoken at countless meetings and rallies and has acquired a global profile. Yet, the man remains an enigma. His supporters regard him as the visionary, decisive leader India needs today. His detractors see him as a polarizing figure. Is Modi authoritative or authoritarian? Decisive or divisive? A team player or a loner? Andy Marino recorded interviews with Narendra Modi during more than half-a-dozen exclusive meetings. What emerged is this riveting, objective biography. Not shying away from the controversies that have dogged Modi, including the Gujarat riots and questions about the Gujarat model of governance and development, this is an unbiased account of the most important figure in Indian politics today. The author analyses Narendra Modi’s values, the people who shaped his thinking and the kind of national leader he is. Personal details of Modi’s early life, his wanderings in the Himalayas between the ages of seventeen and nineteen, his rise through the political ranks, his vision for India and his personal philosophy on religion and politics are revealed in a book that is lucid, fast-paced and readable.
This revised and updated edition includes a meticulously researched account of Modi’s intense campaigning and the run up to the sixteenth Lok Sabha elections, and the remarkable BJP-led NDA victory with 282 and 336 seats respectively. An unparalleled portrait of the man who wants to be remembered as the one who changed India for the better.