Coffee table books might have a reputation of being just pretty. But "Partners in Freedom -- Jamia Millia Islamia'' by Mushirul Hasan and Rakshanda Jalil is all set to change the image. Not about fluff, the volume that has been published by Niyogi Books brings alive the legacy of one of Delhi's important institutions.
Taking Jamia beyond a footnote in the story of education institutions in the Indian nationalist movement, this book narrates its full contribution. It is a first-of-its-kind book. While there are many institutions in the country that have a claim to a rich past, very few of them can boast of having a well-documented past in terms of a book.
But as Prof. Hasan states quite clearly, it is not a "biography'' of the University nor is it an official view. But as the foreword states, it is "a historian's biography of an idea, a movement and an institution that was once called the `National Muslim University' but is today the Jamia Millia Islamia''.
And probably none can tell the story of Jamia with its vision and its complexity like Prof. Hasan. Having had a long relationship with the institution, Prof. Hasan has been associated with it for generations. His co-author Ms. Jalil is the media co-ordinator at the University and has her own relationship with history.
From the politically charged beginning of Jamia that has been described as the "lusty child of the Non-cooperation Movement'' to the vision of the men who broke away to form it, "Partners in Freedom -- Jamia Millia Islamia'' is finally a book that tells an extraordinary story interestingly.
It will be released formally in the Capital this Friday. -- Mandira Nayar