Third take

COMING as this snap-shot `biography' of Indira Gandhi does after the author's own detailed books on India's first woman Prime Minister — Indira Gandhi, Revolution in Restraint (1974) and Two Faces of Indira Gandhi (1977) — and the more recent and much-talked-about effort by Katherine Frank to chronicle her life, Uma Vasudev's Indira Gandhi: Courage Under Fire just skims the surface of a life undisputedly inter-twined with modern Indian history.

In six chapters and 80-odd pages, punctuated ever so often with pictures, Vasudev traces a life that began in the November of 1917 and ended in the October of 1984. Part of Rupa's "Charitavali" series of biographies dedicated to "legendary figures of India", Vasudev travels with Indira Priyadarshini, the "child born to rebellion", as she finds "love in the time of politics" and moves "towards power" to usher in a "new era" that ends with her being thrown on the "dust heap of history" only to be reborn Pheonix-like.

Laudatory — and, at times, apologetic for Mrs. G's follies — Vasudev's narrative makes for a quick read though it has nothing new to offer. But, then, can anything new be expected in a story of a life so well chronicled; more so than her own and far more illustrious father, Jawaharlal Nehru. For, unlike all other modern Indian leaders, hers was a life lived in public glare from birth to death.

Indira Gandhi: Courage Under Fire, Uma Vasudev, Rupa, Rs. 195.


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