If you want to understand a country, get to know its people. In Incarnations – India in 50 Lives Sunil Khilnani tells the story of 50 great men and women who have helped make India what it is today.
Sunil Khilnani, professor and director of the Indian Institute at Kings College London, is a man who knows more than a thing or two India and its people.
But, not only that, he also knows how to tell a story and make it relevant to the world today. He does this superbly in Incarnations: India in 50 lives.
As you would expect, there’s some big names on the list. The Buddha, the great Mughal Akbar and Ghandi ji are presented, but Nehru, India’s first post independence Prime Minister, doesn’t get a look in.
Instead, there’s space for some of India’s forgotten heros and heroines. Social reformer Jyotirao Govindrao Phule and his wife, Savitribai Phule, who together challenged the caste system and built the first schools to educate lower caste women are included.
Then there’s the story of a Malik Amber, an Abysinna Slave, who rose to power in the Deccan in the early 17th century and became a thorn in the side of Mughal Ruler Jahangir.
The life of the Rani of Jhansi, the female ruler, who challenged the British during the 1st War of Independence in 1857, is another inspiring story.
A podcast series has been made by BBC Radio Four to accompany the book. Listen into it by clicking here. A brilliant series from a brilliant man. A must buy and a must listen.
If you are wondering where to buy books in Delhi, give Amazon a miss and head on over to one of these five fine book shops.