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Saturday, Nov 27, 2021
Outlook.com
Review

In History's Presence

An insider's perceptive account of the 'Indira is India' era Indira Gandhi, The Emergency and Indian Democracy

In History's Presence
In History's Presence
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

A word of caution: those looking for secrets and scandals will be disappointed-though there are a few juicy tid bits to encourage the persevering reader. The first few chapters constitute a personal memoir of growing up in Kashmir-an absorbing and very readable account of the author's family, school and the Kashmiri Pandit community in the Maharaja's time. The core of the book comprises the chapter about the great events of the time, prime among which was war with Pakistan and the emergence of Bangladesh. This was Mrs Gandhi's finest hour. Prof Dhar gives an uniquely perceptive portrait of her leadership in handling the crisis. What Prof Dhar shows is that India's aim was limited to the return of the enormous number of refugees who came flooding in after Pakistan started the genocide. War became an option only at a very late stage. This was not an India waiting malevolently for an opportunity to dismember Pakistan. It was, rather, a country beset with unmanageable problems, determined not to succumb. When Pakistan finally fired the first shot, India's military campaign was swift. It was a comprehensive Indian triumph. The Pakistani army crumbled, Dr Kissinger was outwitted and Bangladesh emerged from the flames, Mrs Gandhi was supreme.

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