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HT Picks

This week’s good reads include the biography of a neglected politician, the story of an important law, and a new translation of classical Sanskrit poetry

books Updated: Apr 06, 2018 19:45 IST
HT Team
HT Team
Hindustan Times
Syama Prasad Mookerjee,Tathagata Roy,RTI


Syama Prasad Mookerjee; Life and Times by Tathagata Roy; Rs 599, 450pp; Penguin

Syama Prasad Mookerjee was the founder of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the predecessor of the Bharatiya Janata Party. He is undoubtedly one of the most iconic and controversial leaders in India’s recent history. In spite of his significant political and ideological differences with Jawaharlal Nehru, Dr Mookerjee was inducted into the first cabinet of independent India. However, following the Delhi Pact between the prime ministers of India and Pakistan, Dr Mookerjee resigned from the cabinet. His role during the Great Bengal Famine of 1943 and the Great Calcutta Killings and Naokhali Carnage of 1946 was historic. His premature death in custody - in Kashmir - remains one of the unsolved mysteries of India’s political history.

Dr Mookerjee was an educationist, politician and patriot who often opposed the official narratives of his time but fought consistently for India’s independence and pre-eminent position in the world. His life has remained largely unexplored until now. This book aims to rectify that omission by examining his life in detail and shedding light on the turbulent and contentious events of his times.*


The RTI Story by Aruna Roy with the MKSS Collective; 375pp, Rs 495; Roli Books

Aruna Roy resigned from the IAS in 1975 to work with peasants and workers in rural Rajasthan. In 1990 she helped co-found the Mazdooor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS). The MKSS struggles in the mid-90s for wages and other rights gave birth to the now celebrated Right to Information movement. Aruna continues to be a part of many democratic struggles and campaigns.

This book is a collective history that tells the story of how ordinary people can come together and prevail against great odds, to make democracy more meaningful.*


Ritusamharam by Kalidasa; Translated by AND Haksar; Rs 399, 178pp; Penguin

Perhaps the most lively and exuberant of Kalidasa’s extant works, Ritusamharam is a glorious ode to nature’s bounty and the enduring emotional response it evokes in mankind as a whole.

Watch: Cricket, the biography of a neglected politician, and the story of RTI on #Bookstack this week

Recounted as a celebration of the passing seasons, it is a feast for the senses, capturing the myriad facets of love and longing in a kaleidoscope of sumptuous imagery: the mischievous moonlight that, like a pining lover, steals glances at sleeping maidens; the monsoon-bloated rivers that rush to the sea with a lustful urgency; the flame of lovemaking that is kindled anew at the onset of winter; the heady scent of mango blossoms that makes even the most unyielding of hearts quiver. Even animals, big and small, are swept into the playful pattern of the great poet’s lyrical homage.
AND Haksar’s supple and spirited translation is accompanied by an absorbing introduction and notes that shed further light on this extraordinary work.*

*All copy from book flap.

First Published: Apr 06, 2018 19:20 IST