Monday, July 22, 2024

Reads for all reasons


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Since last week, IANS has put out a curated selection of four books that cater to different sections of readers. We begin with a list that spans political history, an actual cop adventure, a spiritual retreat, and anecdotes from Bollywood of a different generation.

Prakash Singh, Memoirs of a Top Cop: Unforgettable Chapters (Rupa; Rs 395)

Dubbed an “icon” by the former Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, retired BSF director-general and prolific writer Prakash Singh did much for the nation’s security in his official capacity.

“Politics without the police is impotent. Police without politics would lack a sense of direction”. With this statement, Singh offers his readers glimpses of the foundations of our police setups, before delving into other functional aspects of policing.

From uneasy equations with politicians to combating insurgency and securing the states in the north east, to defending the borders in Punjab and J&K, to trans-border operations, the top cop’s autobiography also traces his journey as an IPS officer.

A ringside view of the engrossing world of law enforcement explained in the words of a seasoned officer, this book is an insightful account of not only combatting the insurgency and executing trans-border operations in the constant effort to secure the nation, but also of treading the tight ropes the connects the police system and the politicians and their interests.

With regard to introducing reforms in police and its far-reaching impact on society, Singh’s take-home message is that the person donning the uniform also powers through his personal realm, given the complexities of our citizenry.

William Gould, Santosh Dass and Christophe Jaffrelot, Ambedkar in London (Rupa; Rs 995)

Here’s a well-documented chronicle of the lesser-known time of life in London of the man hailed as the father of India’s Constitution.

B.R. Ambedkar’s political ideas have not ceased to inspire and mobilise people to this day. His views on caste, labour, women, education, and people’s rights and representation have resonated not only in the country, but also around the world.

This compilation explores Ambedkar’s London-based studies and publication in the early 1920s, allowing for a periscopic view of the global significance of Ambedkar’s ideas. William Gould concludes that Ambedkar is immortalised as a single historical figure whose “wider political significance is unmatched”.

The co-authors of the book are: William Gould, Professor of Indian History at University of Leeds; Santosh Dass, a former civil servant and human rights campaigner who has been calling for the outlawing of caste-based discrimination in the UK; and Christophe Jaffrelot, Professor of Indian Politics and Sociology, King’s College, London.

Swami Mukundananda, Spiritual Secrets From Hinduism: Essence of the Vedic Scriptures (Rupa, Rs 295)

India stands out in the world map as the land of spirituality and divinity, sparking curiosity and fascination for its ancient knowledge system, especially Hinduism.

Ancient rishis and sages are said to have had wisdom revealed to them and the build-up of knowledge that thus took place has enriched the heritage of India.

Sages and scholars put together their wisdom in sacred texts, which we know as the Vedic scriptures. Also included in this body of knowledge, apart from the Vedas, are the Puranas, epics such as the Ramayana and Mahabharata, the Brahma Sutras, and similar texts.

In the quest for the ultimate reality and “absolute truth”, many have been drawn to India and several people even dedicated their lives to this land. The understanding of ‘Hinduism’ that seems to largely prevail among the masses, however, is arguably vague. Bringing clarity to the discourse, this book helps one understand the essence of the Vedic scriptures.

The author, Swami Mukundananda, a product of IIT Delhi and IIM Calcutta, is a globally acclaimed spiritual guru and authority on mind management. He renounced his earlier life of social and material success and embraced monkhood.

Sameer Anjaan and Shuja Ali, Lyrics by Sameer: Stories Behind the Iconic Songs (Rupa, Rs 295)

For an entire generation, Sameer Anjaan is synonymous with popular Bollywood numbers, most notably the title track of ‘Dhoom’.

But who knew that Shravan (of the music director duo Nadeem-Shravan) had first refused to let a debutant Ajay Devgn enter the recording studio because he was convinced that he wasn’t “hero material”. Only after Sameer intervened did Shravan relent and allow the now-acclaimed actor in.

Also, the immensely popular title track of ‘Dhoom’ would never have seen the light of day but for Sameer, because Aditya Chopra had rejected its signature tune!

As interesting as the stories of Bollywood films are, the stories behind the making of those stories are just as interesting and intriguing. With up to 50 such stories woven around some of the topmost hits of Sameer, and the recounting of disagreements between music composers and film directors, the co-authors, one of whom is the lyricist himself and the other, accomplished screenwriter and director Shuja Ali, provide exclusive glimpses of the making of some of Sameer’s most iconic compositions in over three decades.

Sameer Anjaan holds a Guinness World Record with more than 640 films and 4,500 songs to his credit, and is the recipient of multiple laurels, including three Filmfare trophies and the Shaheed Bhagat Singh Award. (IANs)


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