Author: Aneesh Gokhale

Book Review: Railways and the Raj

It will be difficult to find a single Indian who has not had any connection with the railways in this country. Whether it is the jam packed locals of Mumbai or the long distance ‘express’ trains or the ‘toy trains’ of a picturesque hill station, there is hardly a soul for whom the railways is a stranger. For those born before 2000s summer holidays meant a train journey. Either near or far Indian families packed half their household and took their children from cities to the villages to meet their grandparents and extended family. There are many songs written with the train as the main backdrop. Railways is one of the best connect with the British Raj for those born post-Independence. Hence, a book on the railways is always a familiar territory ; something a person can relate with. Perhaps touch, see and feel the places mentioned in it. A book on an airline or on ships can seem unfamiliar to some. The author, Christian Wolmar a renowned railway historian based in the United Kingdom, …

How The Ghost Of 1857 Haunted The British In India

The backbone of the British Empire was the army it created in India. It had one of the best cavalry and armed soldiers amongst all its colonies comprising of Indian and British soldiers. The British Army ensured that the subjects and the slaves lived in constant fear and retribution. Hence, the 1857 ‘War of Independence’ and the 1946 naval ratings  uprisings gave a jolt and rattled the empire to the core. “The British Indian Army is the only instrument in the hands of the British Government to maintain internal peace and quell external aggression.” Umer Hayat Khan (1929) On 1857, a shot rang out at the Barrackpore cantonment in what is today Bengal. It was the spark that lit a fire that had been simmering under the surface for quite some time. The East India Company (EIC) had painstakingly built its empire in India, gaining victory in various battles across the country. In the process it had also laid the foundations of the modern Indian army. Indian sepoys had been drafted into British style battalions …

Book Review – Life Over Two Beers and Other Stories by Sanjeev Sanyal

If you are part of the left liberal English educated elite, this book is not for you. This book requires prior reading; books capturing both sides of the ideological divide or Op Ed pages and blogs representing the right and the left. Failing both, following social media battles (which sometimes end up containing more wisdom than curated tomes) will also help. This book rarely mentions specific real world places, people or events – leaving it to the knowledge and conscience (“vivekbuddhi”) of the reader. The book is a collection of free standing stories, making it a light and easy read. Many of them aimed at our ‘pseudo-intellectuals’. If you are firmly on the Left, ideologically and paradoxically, part of the elite too, you may not enjoy this book much, since it liberally pokes fun at this section. Most of us are not, thankfully. The author – Sanjeev Sanyal – is an extremely well read person and is also the author of books such as The Land of Seven Rivers and The Ocean of Churn. By …